How open is my paper?

And how well is the journal communicating this?

• Peter Desmet

Image by Peter Desmet

Note: This post is a response to this task of an online course on open science I am following.

In my previous post, I explained what open access is. But we can go beyond the simple question of “Is it open access?” and evaluate how open a resource actually is.

PLOS, SPARC and OASPA developed a 2-page guide to do just that. I will use it to assess the openness of my first paper (co-written with Luc Brouillet) that was published two weeks ago in PhytoKeys, a Pensoft journal. Not as a vanity project, but to figure out how well I - as an advocate for open - am doing by submitting my paper to PhytoKeys as the journal.

Desmet P, Brouillet L (2013) Database of Vascular Plants of Canada (VASCAN): a community contributed taxonomic checklist of all vascular plants of Canada, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and Greenland. PhytoKeys 25: 55–67. doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.25.3100 GBIF key: 3f8a1297-3259-4700-91fc-acc4170b27ce

Reader rights

This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge. (source)

No fees, no embargoes, better science. 5/5

Reuse rights

The article and any associated published material is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0 (CC-BY). (source)

Reusing and remixing galore. 5/5


Copyright on any article is retained by the author(s). […] (source)

And the transfer of copyrights between the authors and publisher is regulated through the CC-BY license (which applies to anyone), but some of these rights are explicitly spelled out in the policy. Nice! 5/5

Author posting rights

[…] Authors are thus encouraged to post the pdf files of published papers on their homepages or elsewhere to expedite distribution. […] (source)

This encouragement is not mentioned in the editorial policies, but on the journal’s homepage. It is not 100% clear if pre-prints (before peer-review) can be posted as well, but the fact that:

The work described has not been published before (except in the form of an abstract or as part of a published lecture, review or thesis) […] (source)

… and a SHERPA/RoMEO search indicating PhytoKeys as a blue journal, with a “pre-print archiving status unclear”, leads me to conclude that this is not allowed. 4/5

Automatic posting

Archived in PubMedCentral and CLOCKSS. (source)

The journal is indeed archived in PubMedCentral, but the latest issue (25) is not available yet. I’m assuming this will be done within 6 months. 4/5

Machine readability

This criterion is more verbose:

Article full text, metadata, citations, & data, including supplementary data, provided in community machine-readable standard formats through a community standard API or protocol. (source)

… so let’s break it up in parts:

The article (including full text, metadata, citations) is available as XML. These XML files are also deposited on a GitHub repository and seem to be marked up in a community standard (see the xml header info) and provided through a standard API or protocol (GitHub and http). I’m not sure the links to included figures work, as these don’t start with http://.

In addition, I posted the full article (including figures) as an editable, Markdown formatted text file on GitHub.

The data, which are hosted on the Canadensys Repository and indexed by GBIF are available as a Darwin Core archive, which is a community standard, and are provided through a standard protocol (http). There are no supplementary data. 5/5


28/30, which is awesome!

Congrats to the folks at Pensoft on providing clear policies for PhytoKeys, although the author posting rights and automatic posting could be clarified. Please let me know if I misinterpreted something.