Kriterium – To certify the quality of swedish research

Text written by Maja Pelling (Gothenburg University Library). Questions from Stockholm University Press. Photo: Caroline Swartling.

What is Kriterium?

Kriterium provides an infrastructre for review, publication and dissemination of high-quality academic books, in accordance with the principles of open access. Kriterium is a new quality label for Swedish academic books.

To receive the Kriterium stamp of approval, the publications undergo stringent peer review according to set guidelines. All books with the Kriterium label will be freely available through open access, in print as well as online.

Who benefits from using Kriterium?

Initially, Kriterium is aimed primarily for researchers at Swedish universities who want to publish scientific books within humanities and social sciences.

After the pilot phase, and depending on the recommendations of the evaluation, the range subject areas could be expanded.

How do you think Kriterium can help Swedish researchers? What are the needs?

Kriterium-logo_greenBooks are an important publication form for researchers from a range of disciplines, but are sometimes disregarded since they currently do not undergo the same kind of overt quality review that journal articles do.

Kriterium labelling intends to address this issue by offering a clear stamp of approval that indicates the good quality of a work and its satisfactory academic level. This will be achieved through peer review by mutually independent reviewers, according to clear criteria.

The goal is to both improve the status of books as a medium in Sweden and, within an international perspective, to certify the quality of Swedish research results using the same method as other countries.

How will Kriterium be working with peer review?

The peer review will be made by external and mutually independent reviewers, according to clear criteria. The peer-review process will be co-ordinated by an academic co-ordinator who appoints reviewers in consultation with Kriterium’s academic review board, taking into account the Swedish Research Council’s current conflict of interest policy as well as other aspects.

How can Kriterium become a high status brand both nationally and internationally?

Kriterium was formally launched on the 5th of November, 2015. During the coming months, we will focus on communicating Kriterium primarily to researchers, publishing companies and other Swedish universities.

A major focus will be to attract more scripts for publication. Already, six manuscripts have started the peer-review process.

How will you collaborate with other Swedish and international stakeholders about open access scholarly communications?

We have already established a close cooperation with Ubiquity Press, Makadam Förlag, Nordic Academic Press and the Acta Series. We are open for co-operation with other actors as well.

Can you consider collaborating with any publishers for distribution of printed books?

We are primarily aiming at publishing companies with some experience in and interest in publishing academic books. But no doors are closed at the moment, we would like as many actors as possible to discover the possibilities Kriterium can offer.

A Successful Outreach – From Resistance to a Conversation About Open Access

By: Leslie Engelson, faculty librarian at Murray State University

Do you want to start a conversation with the faculty at your college or university about open access (OA) publishing?

Leslie Engelson_2Perhaps you can benefit from the experience I and four other faculty librarians (Elizabeth Price, Candace Vance, Rebecca Richardson, and Jeff Henry) had in our efforts to educate the faculty at Murray State University (MSU) about OA publishing.

Most faculty at MSU are tenured or tenure-track, and scholarly, research, and creative activities are a part of the tenuring process; however, the emphasis for many faculty is on their teaching effectiveness.

Our mission does not include aspirations to a research level institution and, for this reason, the need to address OA publishing has come late to the university.

After receiving encouragement, support, and suggestions from the Director of Public Services, our Dean, the Associate Provost of Graduate Education, as well as the Deans of each College, we launched our OA outreach with a survey to assess the knowledge and opinions of faculty in regard to OA publishing.

Common myths and misunderstandings about Open Access

That survey confirmed what we had surmised: that faculty at MSU often know very little about OA or, what they do know is based on the common myths and misunderstandings that circulate. Additionally, many faculty who took the survey registered a reluctance to publish in OA journals.

Educate the faculty about OA publishing

Based on the results of the survey, we decided to focus our outreach efforts on programs that would educate the faculty about OA publishing. By providing programs aimed at dispelling the misconceptions related to OA publishing, we thought we would be able to develop a campus-wide OA policy, create a climate that would support the implementation of an institutional repository, and establish a method for funding article publishing charges.

Unfortunately, while some faculty were interested, most of our initial efforts were met with responses that ranged from disinterest to emphatic resistance. Attendance at our programs was lackluster at best; however, our efforts sparked conversations with faculty who were generally unaware of the various opportunities and benefits that open access scholarly communication provides.

Focus your outreach efforts on the faculty’s concerns

We found when we focus programming on the more compelling concerns of faculty such as authors’ rights or evaluating journals, it is more successful. Even when attendance at programming is minimal, we take the opportunity to listen to the faculty so that we understand what their concerns are and focus our outreach efforts in that direction.

Support for faculty pursuing OA publishing opportunities

Administration provided funding for a new scholarly communications librarian position and an institutional repository, and established an endowment fund to provide support for article publishing costs. These advancements further the OA effort and demonstrate administrative support for faculty pursuing OA publishing opportunities.

Make a conversation rather than education

Thankfully, in spite of our naivete and arrogance, a growing conversation about OA publishing is gaining ground across campus.

After reflecting on our efforts, we now see that when we speak with faculty one-on-one, answering questions or responding to concerns about OA, they are more engaged and we have a better opportunity to address their misunderstandings or apprehensions.

A direct and personal result for us as librarians is that we learned that successful outreach efforts involve conversations where librarians do more listening than talking.

About University Press Week, Open Science Cloud For Research and The Libraries Role For Research Data

We want to share the latest news and debates about open access, scholarly publishing and similar topics. These articles caught our attention this week.

Have we missed anything? Please share your comments below.

Community Driven Open Science Cloud for Research

This week LIBER signed a joint statement together with several large European research infrastructures outlining a common vision for a European Open Science Cloud.

Read more at LIBER and The European Commission

LIBER – LIBER supports an Open Science Cloud For Research

LIBER – An Open and Community Driven Open Science Cloud

Europen Commission – A Digital Single Market For Europe: Commission Sets Out 16 Initiatives To Make It Happen

Is there a need for publication funds at Swedish universities?

By: Helena Stjernberg, Open Access librarian at Malmö University

This blog post has been updated thanks to valuable comments from Randi Tyse Eriksen and Jan Erik Frantsvåg. Thank you!
Helena StjernbergIn January 2015, the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), delivered a proposal for national guidelines for open access to scientific information (Förslag till nationella riktlinjer för öppen tillgång till vetenskaplig information). This report suggests how open access
to research publications and data should be implemented. The financing will be dealt with later on.

A benefit for researchers who don’t have external funding

In the report the Swedish Research Council’s dialogue with stakeholders suggested that money for open access publishing could be set aside as a part of the implementation (publication funds). Researchers at Swedish universities with no external funding would benefit from this. One option could be that the Swedish Ministry of Education and Research then supports the transition to open access with an additional contribution of money, as was the case in the 1990’s when the transition from print to electronic journals was financially supported.

A couple of Swedish university libraries have tried to support researchers with the help of publication funds. The money has either been an extra contribution from the university or has been taken from the existing library budget.

Pilot project of a publication fund at Malmö University

Malmö University Library has recently evaluated a pilot project of a publication fund at the university. In this pilot project, the library got the opportunity to administer a sum of 200 000 SEK.

The money was distributed over the period October 2014 – December 2014 (50 000 SEK) and January 2015 – October 2015 (150 000 SEK). To be eligible to apply for money from the fund, the researcher was afforded to meet a number of criteria:

  • The researcher had to be affiliated to Malmö University
  • Financial support was given to open access journals, not to hybrid journals
  • The open access journals should meet the quality requirements stated in the OASPA Code of Conduct
  • If the researcher’s funder already provided support for open access publication charges, then the researcher should apply via the funder instead of via the library publication fund
  • A first come, first served-principle was used for selection

The researcher could apply for money via a form at the library web page. Some efforts were spent on informing researchers about the fund, but these efforts could have been greater. In spite of this, the money was spent evenly throughout the ongoing application period.

Exchange between librarians working with open access and researchers

Apart from the obvious positive effects of making more of the university’s research publications freely available, and thus supporting the open access policy at the University, we saw another benefit: The library staff came into contact with the researchers at an early stage of the publishing process and could discuss the choice of publication.
At a number of instances important issues surrounding so called ‘predatory publishers’ came up. The knowledge exchange between librarians working with open access and researchers was very valuable.

Payment models for open access journals

Open access journals usually use a payment model that is different from the traditional subscription model. This financial model is sometimes a membership, e.g. where a university library pays a yearly amount of money and receives a discount on the publishing fee in a number of journals.

Often, the open access journals make use of a model with article processing charges, APC:s. The cost for publishing is directly paid by the author upon acceptance of the publication.

Publication funds administered by University Libraries in Sweden

Looking at publication funds in Sweden, we see that the Chalmers Library and Lund University Library also have administered funds for some time. The Chalmers Library fund is similar to the one in the Malmö pilot.

The Lund University Library fund has a larger budget and also a different administrative procedure: the library pays the whole publication charge, but then sends an invoice of 50% of the cost to the researcher’s institution. This makes it possible to fund a larger number of publications. The funds in Sweden all have similar criteria and none of them support funding in hybrid journals.

Publication funds in Norway

In Norway, 17 higher education institutions (HEI)s have publication funds. If a HEI has a fund, an application to the Norwegian Research Council´s STIM-OA scheme covers 50 % of the cost of publishing articles in “gold” open access journals. The research council distributes 8 million NOK per year during the period 2014-2018 to finance publication charges. No hybrids are funded.

Publication funds in Germany

In Germany, over 20 universities have publication funds, and the money comes from the research council DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft). No hybrids are funded.

Publication funds in the Netherlands

We are following the development in the Netherlands with great interest. The national open access policy makes clear that publications from publicly funded research should be made available open access without embargo.

The Netherlands Organization for scientific research (NWO) has a publication fund, where a maximum budget of 6000 euros per research project is available. It is allowed to choose hybrid journals for publication, but no funding will support this.

A possible national open access policy – with funding?

As we have understood it, a hearing is planned to take place late this autumn at the Swedish Ministry of Education and Research. The hearing will provide more information on a possible national open access policy. Right now, it is difficult to say if or when there will be funding at a national level to support open access publishing.

Our experience at Malmö University tells us that a publication fund, in the meantime, can be a valuable tool for communicating with the researchers about choice of publication at an early stage of the publishing process. And at the same time, let us not forget the green road to open access. Making author versions of research publications available in our repositories is also a way to open access.

About scholarly publishing, “think check submit” and a University Presses Conference

We want to share the latest news and debates about open access, scholarly publishing and similar topics. These articles caught our attention this week.

Have we missed anything? Please share your comments below.

The changing nature of scientific publishing #pubnperish

Stockholm University Press (SUP) attended the seminar Publish and Perish at the Young Academy Of Sweden September 30th. The seminar had a focus on the rapidly changing nature of scientific publishing, peer review and evaluation among young scientists and their research.

Bruce Alberts, Tony Hyman, Arne Johansson, Catriona MacCallum, Tommy Olsson and Brandon Stell were invited speakers during the seminar. All speakers focused on how to lift, facilitate and develop scholarly publishing for the benefit of the younger generation of scientists.


Bruce Alberts – How can a nation support excellence in scientific research and teaching?

See video here.

Bruce Alberts said that ”The search for automatic ways to evaluate science is distorting how science is done. The worst of these is the evaluation of an individual scientist by the ‘Impact Factor’ of the journal in which his or her research is published”.

He told us that the purpose of how we evaluate research today was originally only meant to help librarians decide which journals to purchase, and not to evaluate scientists. A journal can for example raise its impact factor by publishing more reviews, or by mostly publishing research in popular areas.

A bad scenario is to keep letting young scientist do research on the same topics decided by their professors. Instead young scientist should be encouraged to follow their own ideas to start new innovation and we also must keep on doing primary research. This is the best way to do “good science”.

Alberts showed examples of how primary research—started on many years ago without a specific goal— eventually makes it possible for a breakthrough in science for the good of society and can even lead to a Nobel prize.

We agree on that high citations and high impact factor or research does not automatically mean “good science” and that researchers need to do all kinds of research without the need for evaluation in ranking systems. But as Albert said, “that is where the money is and that’s still the way for young researchers to get promoted”.

This was something Arne Johansson also talked about in his speech on Publication assessment and university governance. Arne Johansson ‘s opinion was that the traditional peer review system of high ranking journals is bringing stability to the system and does give us a useful measurement of what is good science. He also said that University leaders should develop clear statements of how they assess, since we know that ranking is used to get funding from governments. Johansson also stated that as a young scientist you need and should publish in high ranking journals.

Tony Hyman – Encouraging innovation through peer review and evaluation

See video here.

Tony Hyman continued talking about the problems concerning metrics and impact. He said that scientists begin to see that their careers are more important than discovery, because that is what they are rewarded for. Where you have published your work has nothing to do with what you have discovered. This is especially a problem concerning young scientists, because the system fails to allow them to do innovate research. Innovation in research should be the heart of the process, not publication. Hyman means that science is also about failure, otherwise you can‘t innovate new ideas into research.

Hyman also talked about his view on peer review. He thinks that it is essential to have the peer review process recognized, treasured and evaluated, because we have a big problem with reviewers that don’t do a good job. He believes that more scientists would do peer review if they could get credit for it and that they should be paid for it.

We certainly agree that reviewers should get credit for their reviews, but to pay for review is not necessarily the best way to go. High ranking journals could pay large sums to reviewers, but smaller presses, journals, societies or university presses might not have the same amount of money to spend on peer review. We think universities and research societies should encourage researchers to do reviews as part of their job, which should also be credited for i.e. in their CVs or added to their publication lists.

Catriona MacCallum – Scientific Communication on Trial

See video here.

Catriona MacCallum talked about the false expectations on peer review. It is expected to police the literature but does not do so. Science today is more complicated and more cross disciplinary. The reviewing is often anonymous and often not well done. There are no rewards for good reviewers or constructive collaborations. The reviewers review for the journals and their editors – not the readers, their colleagues or the society.

What MacCallum suggests is that young scientists need to think more about dissemination of their research, i.e. by using CC BY-licensees to encourage their research to be used and evaluated by others, not only those who have access to high ranking journals. One way for researches could be to pre publish papers globally to get input before submitting to a journal. The focus would then be on the research, not on impact. Negative results should also be published and evaluated, we need to stop focusing on positive results or on what is considered innovative research.

Another topic discussed by Catriona MacCallum was new business models for open access scholarly communication. Some of those also do qualified peer review which is challenging traditional publishing models or presses of scholarly communications.

The theme on what is good science went on to focusing on the actual research and data published, not success or ranking. This was something Brandon Stell (Introducing PubPeer) and Tommy Olsson (Open Access Publishing with arXiv) talked about. By having papers freely accessible on line, communities and specialist on a subject or topic could do reviews, give response and comments to a papers. It’s an effective and quick way for young scientists to go on with their research and get response on their research.

Scientific Communication on Trial is actually happening. This is sometimes also described as a paradigm shift—where open access publishers are those in lead of changing the map of scholarly communication. SUP wants to be part of that paradigm shift. As an open access publisher SUP wants to make a difference and be a good option for young scientists when their goal is rigorous peer reviewed research without borders.

Interested in the panel discussion?

Watch the video here.