DTU Open Access Network

open accesscasesnetwork

DTU Open Access Network is an informal luncheon network that discusses open access and publishing issues. 

This case does not proceed from the problem of an individual academic. Instead it concerns the generally perceived need to increase academics' knowledge about open access (OA) and to establish a generous forum where there are no taboos and to gather together academics from across the board who are interested in OA. 

Our specific experience with the library's Open Access Roadshow was that the biggest OA sceptics were the most vocal, while those who could identify the benefits of OA and have a positive attitude first approached us and expressed their interest after the end of the presentation and plenary discussion. At the same time, we met a number of academics who sounded positive about OA and expressed their interest by approaching the library with questions concerning copyright and the payment of article processing charges (APC). 

There is a certain amount of overlap regarding the issues of concern academics have about OA. They generally want OA, but see it solely in terms of gold OA and often perceive a clash between pressure from the community to get published in the most prestigious journals and the wish to publish as far as possible on an OA platform. There is also a general lack of knowledge about the central elements in an OA publication model. For example, many academics have inadequate or no knowledge about Creative Commons, do not know what postprints are in relation to self-archiving or how to generate income to pay APC etc.  

The following case analysis describes and analyses how we launched the DTU Open Access Network and how the network has evolved.  

An informal OA network is born 

The idea of a network was developed by the library's small OA team of 3 to 5 people and evolved from the team's experience from the Open Access Roadshow, where meetings on OA were held at several departments in 2010-2011. At the same time, the growing number of enquiries with the library concerning OA revealed an increasing need for knowledge about the subject and a blossoming interest. The network came into being as an informal network and was not given an official mandate or approval by DTU's management. This was deliberate for two reasons. First, the process for obtaining approval (if approval is at all possible) is lengthy and second, the network would have a different character if it carried the official stamp of DTU's management, which on the one hand would increase its influence, but on the other hand would most likely mean restricted access, which is not the case at present. 

In the preparation phase, DTU's OA working group thought a great deal about who to invite and how. It became clear that the network should initially be open to all interested academic researchers and PhD students. It later became evident that administrative staff and students, in particular, were greatly interested in the network. We considered whether student participation might become a tricky issue. Our concern was whether their participation might affect the discussion process, as the researchers might hold back with their questions if they were using the same forum as students with whom they had a teacher/pupil relationship. However, we opted to allow anyone affiliated with DTU interested in using the network, which proved to be the right decision, as several of the students have shown a keen interest in OA and open science and have contributed with very relevant and interesting questions on how things are done today. At the same time the academic staff have been forthcoming and have actively participated in the dialogue at the meetings.

The widespread interest is possibly also thanks to the effort put into distributing invitations to the meetings. We have always been highly aware of the potential difficulty in reaching sufficient numbers of interested people and have dedicated our energy to spreading the message about the network's activities as widely as possible via a mailing list, DTU's portal (intranet), openaccess.dtu.dk/english, flyers, tweets and personal contacts.

Three one-hour lunch meetings offering mineral water and a sandwich have been held since summer 2011. Participation was free, although sign up was necessary. Apart from the first meeting, the luncheon meeting topics were determined by the explicit requests and needs of the researchers. The two subsequent meetings were determined by a Doodle poll among participants. The topic eventually chosen was society publishers and OA and the meetings revealed a concrete need for knowledge about Creative Commons, which was shown to be lacking at the meeting with the publisher IOP. Thus the Creative Commons meeting was particularly popular with the students.

Lessons learned and plans for the future 

The library played a facilitating role in organising and arranging meetings, finding external speakers and promoting the network by distributing invitations via DTU’s portal, twitter, openaccess.dtu.dk/english and via a mailing list, which has been set up as a network, as well as via postcards and handouts. The library is also a driving force behind activities in the network. Despite the growing attendance at meetings, the activities would not have come about without the library's help.

The network has resulted in a number of bonuses for the library. Through it, relations have been forged with academic researchers interested in OA, some of them even especially enthusiastic not only about OA, but also open science. This has given rise to a forum for open science, which has now met once over lunch to talk about open science and data. The network has also shown interest in the possibility of participating in other OA-related meetings. In January, when the pioneer of open science, Cameron Naylon visited Copenhagen, four people met up with him for a beer in Vesterbro after invitations were sent out via Twitter and the mailing list.

The luncheon network meetings are a relatively unfiltered source for hearing about the frustrations and experiences from other researchers about the difficulties of using OA. Here are a few examples: 

  • I publish the majority of our articles in OA journals which require APCs, but how do I raise money to pay for them? Is there no central fund at DTU for help with this? Our colleagues in Germany have such a fund.
  • I’m not familiar with Creative Commons and I’ve never read my copyright transfer agreement. 
  • Why can't the management make stronger demands on academic researchers regarding OA? 
  • Different routes to OA: arXiv.org, ORBIT (inst.repo), gold OA.
  • I’m going to publish in the most prestigious journals and they are not OA, and do not allow self-archiving either.
  • Contact the group wishing to create an event for students on open innovation, open science and access. 
  • Knowledge about individual departments publishing regularly in OA journals, which led to an analysis of publishing patterns in OA journals with APCs and revealed a rapidly growing trend.

There are old and familiar prejudices – however the luncheon meetings are one way of having an exchange about issues such as prejudices that can be dismantled or about genuine challenges which libraries may be able address or even resolve.

Generally, however, not being able to provide academic researchers with more concrete help is frustrating – partly because DTU's publishing policy is vaguely worded and quite old and thus lacks legitimacy among academics and, in particular, their heads of department. 

Now an informal network has been set up – we would nonetheless very much like the network to be officially recognised by DTU's management and in that way occupy a more prominent position in people's minds. At the moment we are waiting for a working group to be set up to revise DTU's publishing policy. It would be appropriate to set up network activities in this regard. Not necessarily increase the frequency of meetings, but make a larger event out of OA.


  • 29.03.2013 Oprettet af Mikael Elbæk