[open-science] Going open access - conference proceedings

Ingo Keck ingokeck at ingokeck.de
Thu Nov 23 13:46:41 UTC 2017

Thomas Kluyver <takowl at gmail.com> wrote:

> I've been asked to help organise a small engineering conference next
> September.

Small like 20 people workshop? Or more like 200 people kind of small?

> We floated the idea of open access at this year's conference, but there
> were reservations about the recognition of such papers by universities,
> grant agencies, etc. Engineering seems to use conference publications as a
> major part of evaluating research, whereas the academic fields I'm more
> familiar with focus on journal papers. If people don't get a well respected
> publication out of it, they may not be able to justify coming to the
> conference, and it's so small already that it can't survive many people
> dropping out.

Let me tell you my experience as academic in computer science (CS) in Spain and Germany:

The most important venues for CS are conferences. Typically you need to submit a full paper up to 8 pages and, unlike as with journals, you only get one shot in the peer review process, because there is no time for a long review process: Either it is accepted with small changes or it is rejected straight away, and the field moves to fast so that the next time the conference comes around your article is probably outdated. Conference-hopping is also difficult with conferences because the submission window is small and you are not supposed to submit the same work at the same time to different venues.

Acceptance rates are somewhere between 10%-50% and the two most common proceedings-publishers in my experience (don’t know about your engineers) are IEEE and Springer with Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS). LNCS is seen as books and does not have an impact factor (IF).

Typically publishers ask you to submit print-ready PDF for the single articles _and_ the proceeding and there is not really any service apart from providing LaTeX Templates and sometimes free access to a conference review system. 

The recent movement to evaluate scientists based on their impact factor has been particularly harsh for computer scientists, removing the value of their past publications and forcing them to publish in other fields, many flogging towards medicine with their high IF journals.

Regarding Open Access, all that has been accomplished regarding the green way OA mostly ignored the conference proceedings. For example the LNCS series has an ISSN, but is seen as books by Springer. Publishers say the articles are book chapters and do not allow self-publication of the preprints or prefer to not answer the question at all and keep us authors in a limbo of insecurity. 

Personally, most people I was working with had access to Springer, but IEEE always meant going hunting for the pdf somewhere, either directly with the authors or via colleagues that had a private membership at IEEE. 

> Has anyone dealt with a similar situation before? Are there open access
> publishers that are well respected in the engineering world?

Apart from maybe IEEE with its focus on America (north+south), well respected seems to be a relict from the past in my experience. Famous CS conferences like the NIPS now publish open access themselves (https://papers.nips.cc). 

> Also, can anyone give me an idea of how much more open access proceedings
> are likely to cost? I've never approached publishing from this angle
> before. I'm familiar with APCs over 1000 for single articles - is it simply
> multiplied by the number of papers in the proceedings?

I recently started my own commercial Open Science publisher (https://moringa.pub/) after the experience I had at OK IRL working with established academic publishers.

We did not have proceedings in mind when we started, but were recently contacted by a local university inquiring about it. So I just happened to write an offer to that university a few weeks ago, providing everything like the review system, supporting the review process and online OA publishing. I would be happy to make you an offer as well if you send me more details what you need via email. ;-)

From publisher side I can tell you that you will not find APC’s below ca 100 EUR per article because that is, including taxes, roughly the bare cost of publishing an article. If someone charges less they get money or resources somewhere else. Springer for example takes 38 EUR + tax per page for full OA (golden way), so that would be around 280 EUR incl. tax for an 6 pages article (http://www.springer.com/de/it-informatik/lncs/open-access-publishing-in-computer-proceedings). 

If you need a famous publisher’s name you can also go the way to just publish the complete book with that OA publisher and put the articles themselves into the OA repository of your university or any other trustworthy organisation. OA books usually start around 5kEUR, de Gruyter for example takes 10kEUR (https://www.degruyter.com/page/1436). Maybe your university already has contracts established with publishers, it may be worth asking there as well. Maybe they even publish themselves (many university libraries do)! 

Whatever you do, stay clean of non-open licenses like cc-by-nc-nd! 

We use cc-by-sa to encourage re-use under the same free conditions, other prefer cc-by. 

Anyway, your situation got me thinking about my experiences with workshops/conferences. Usually people were more interested in the quality of the networking and the presentations than the publisher of the proceedings. Maybe you could sweeten the deal to publish OA with inviting some famous names for keynotes, trying to „relight the interest“ in the conference? Just an idea, though...

Hth, Ingo.

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