Has Open Access made us look at the concept of authorship differently? And how?
On June 23, we invited a strong panel of guest speakers to help us uncover this topic – and share their perceptions and experience when it comes to authorship and Open Access publishing.
With us were Miguel Peralta, International Sales Manager at Rockefeller University Press, Tyler Ruse, Director, Publisher Solutions at Digital Science, and Matthew Covey, University Librarian at Rockefeller University.
Together, our guests tapped into a variety of different aspects. Among these were how Open Access has changed how our speakers look at authorship data in their organizations, the role of the corresponding author and issues with author roles, and remaining challenges and suggestions when looking ahead.
To Miguel Peralta, it’s an interesting aspect because much of what we’re discussing in this webinar isn’t related to Open Access, as such. Publishers have had authorship data for as long as they’ve been publishing and have been using it and looking at it for as long as subscription has been the dominant model. The movement toward Open Access has really necessitated that publishers interpret and analyze author data to enter into OA agreements as well as to ensure their success. Because of this, author data has gained a new purpose. This process of interpretation is the process of applying affiliations to institutions so that authorship can be understood in the context of institutional production.
“We, as publishers, yearn for something very simplistic and unified and easy to understand – but, in fact, authorship is inherently complicated”, Miguel said.
“It’s an interesting two sides of the same coin environment”, Matthew Covey added.
Historically, as a library, they were more interested in affiliation as a post-facto scenario where you were looking at information people were publishing as a metric you’d be reporting back to your administration; what and where people were publishing, how often, etc. Now, with more transformative agreements, the library is looking at author affiliation in real-time, during the publishing process, with how information relates to different arrangements with publishers and organizations, and to determine if an author is part of a deal that we have signed.
Tyler Ruse is looking at data all the way downstream, so having full authorship data on a platform like Dimensions where you can develop a data model that then isolates authorship and role in meaningful ways and analyze on the aggregate level, for example across publishers, countries, institutions, or subjects, and make informed decisions based on that. Having that kind of clean data is really key in determining future trends, by looking at what has happened historically, you can pull out certain criteria like author role and affiliation and determine where it is likely to go in the future, in terms of publication volume overall, or by type of OA model.
Moving into the second theme of the webinar, our speakers went into more detail regarding the role of the corresponding author, author affiliation, and different author roles. To this, Miguel claimed that publishers in the broad industry aren’t at the stage where it’s possible to do a great job at gathering information about author roles, i.e., first, second, third, and so forth. Publishers are still reading the difference between the corresponding role and everyone else. Dimensions has been very helpful, Miguel said, because their submission systems are designed to capture the given organization. Rockefeller University Press has increasingly started to look at contributing authors as well as corresponding authors which is where Dimensions data comes in – as a hybrid publisher, they’re moving from subscription to Open Access, meaning moving from a subscription base to an author interface, Miguel added. Ultimately, that means transitioning from a big base of subscribers to a quite small base of corresponding authors.
Tyler Ruse moved the conversation along by zooming in on the concept of having good metadata – or, to use Miguel Peralta’s suggested phrase: “Metadata is a love note to the future”. To get full and robust metadata as well as have systems that can isolate different elements, you’ll need a system that contemplates fields such as the corresponding author, affiliated author, or the like. It’s about having that sort of data model that’s able to support all of the different elements in ways that make meaningful sense – and metadata is really key to being able to populate the fields and is useful throughout the publication lifestyle, Tyle Ruse underlined.
Matthew Covey agreed that richness is essential when it comes to metadata. As librarians functioning as a “hub” for moderating Open Access, it’s important that the faculty is fully aware of the value and importance of their affiliations, Matthew stated. In the case of a researcher, if you miss the richness of affiliations, you’re not getting a full accounting of what that person’s activities are. It’s important to know who’s doing what, where, and when – engaging with the faculty and making sure that they are fully aware of the value of affiliation is an important thing that we need to work on, Matthew concluded.
For the final wrap-up of the topics, we looked closer at different OA business models and how these models might make you look at authorship data differently. From a library perspective, Matthew Covey added how when changing the models that they deal with, it’s important to think about how this affects the budgetary process. As we start to look at the transition from subscription to Open Access models, Read & Publish, etc., we need to look at ways to cover these agreements while also keeping the content at a relatively high level. How does the money move and where does that money come from? Is there a burden-sharing agreement where a pot of money is set aside to cover these agreements or a system with a shared cost mechanism? There’s a lot of thinking about issues that you don’t want to think about because you just want to be able to provide as much content as possible, but you have to work inside the limitations of the systems we have, Matthew pointed out. As a group, libraries and publishers need to work on how to find equity in this.
There's a lot of tradition around where authors are aligned in a publication, Matthew Covey said. Now, we do see more commonly attribution being applied to larger groups, for instance, that three or more people share the same amount of work on a piece of research, thereby contributing equally. It’s a paradigm shift that people need to embrace.
So, should the different agreements be based on more than just a corresponding author or will we be looking at expanding those agreements to also include the first author or co-author?
In Miguel Peralta’s opinion, all authors should be incorporated into business models – it’s complicated and a lot of things have to change before we get to that sort of model.
Watch our re-watch the webinar below to get all the key insights from our speaker panel – and don’t forget to keep an eye on our upcoming webinars under Events.