Webinar 5 – Publishers, legal aspects, and internet publishing

A total of 8 participants attended the webinar.

1. Webinar Slides

The webinar was presented by Dr. Roberto Cozatl from the OS-Team at the library.

2. Poll results

2.1. What form of scientific literature do you use more in your field?

  • A: I read/use articles published in subscription based journals | 1 response
  • B: I mostly read/use articles published in OA journals | 4 responses
  • C: 50:50 | 3 responses
  • D: I don’t know | 0 responses

2.2. Are you happy with the quality (reputation, impact factor, etc.) of the existing OA journals in your field?

  • A: Yes | 2 responses
  • B: No | 2 responses
  • C: 50:50 | 4 responses

3. Questions from the audience

Q.1: What happens if publishers do not agree to renegotiate the terms and conditions of their publications contracts? Or do not accept specific addendum such as the kind shown during the seminar?

4. Speaker’s comments and references for further reading

Open Access

A revision of the traditional publication model was undertaken during the webinar. The critical problem with the traditional subscription-based model is that the citizens and tax payers who fund research in the first place do not obtain the benefit of immediate access to the scientific results they are funding.  In this context the problems associated with paywalls were also described. Even when you get to read the abstract of papers behind a paywall, there is no guarantee that the full text will contain the results you need for your research. So in many situations scientists pay for accessing an article only to find out that the promised results are not there, or that the experimental design of the paper is so bad that the claimed results cannot be really substantiated. The problem is that once you have paid for an article, and even if the article is of a very bad quality, there is no way to get your money back. This problem is nicely illustrated by an animated video by the library team at Cornell University.

It was explained that the open access initiative aims at tackling this problem by ensuring free and unrestricted access to scientific knowledge. The OA initiative has the back and acceptance of many reputable scientific organizations in Germany and of several reputable publishers worldwide.

Open Access Statistics

Figures from the Open Access initiative OpenAPC were presented to show that the number of OA publications has been constantly growing in the last couple of years. The engagement of the MLU in this field was also shown and the number of Open Access articles that have been financed by the MLU’s publication fund was also shown. The figures related to number of articles published in open access journals which financed by the MLU fund for the years 2017-2019 can be consulted in this platform.

Publication contracts

The legal basis for claiming authors’ rights was examined during the webinar. Authors’ rights were explained and pointers to the corresponding paragraphs of the Act and Copyright and Related Rights were given.  The main message was that when authors decide to publish an article in a peer-reviewed journal, they should be able to own/retain copyrights of their articles. When publishing in a subscription-based journal, authors are usually required to sign a form to transfer some – or all – of their copyrights to the publishers. It is at this stage that knowing how to exercise their rights as an author can help them to make an educated choice about the legal allowances given to particular publishers. Tools like the Addendum of the SPARC initiative were introduced as examples which can be used to negotiate with some of the publishers. In most cases we should be able to provide some help at the library. Generic advice is sometimes difficult to give as every publishers and indeed every contract are unique, however, it was also mentioned that authors should approach members of the OpenScience Team of the library.

Predatory journals

The risks of falling in the trap of the so called predatory publishers were discussed. This may happen when looking for suitable options to publish articles in Open Access journals. Since the number of predatory publishers has increased over the last decade and the number of disciplines being affected is also growing, care should be taken when submitting work to an unknown or new publisher. Fortunately, a number of online tools and initiatives are available to help authors to identify potential predatory publishers.

Other things to know before publishing online

Other aspects that should be checked before publishing your scientific results online are basic things like ensuring you are not infringing any copyrights and intellectual property rights of third parties like publishers or companies with the materials you are about to publish. Also checks should be made to ensure your personal data or those of others have been removed from your publications prior publication if these aren’t needed. These simple checks may save you a lot of problems in the future.

Social media tips

The last minutes of the webinar were dedicated to discussing the increasingly important topic of how to properly communicate scientific findings over social media channels. Attendees were presented with a list of pros and cons, and some tips for working with social media. Links to some interesting articles (see here) on the subject were provided and a reference to the university’s guidelines was also given.


Dr. Roberto Cozatl| Open Science Team | openscience@bibliothek.uni-halle.de | 30.10.2020
University and State Library of Saxony-Anhalt