Anne-Marie Green
Anne-Marie Green
Communication Manager, Wiley

We recently spoke to Susan Spilka, Marketing and Communications Director for CHORUS, to learn more about how it works and why it's worthwhile for publishers and societies to join.

Currently, Wiley supports collection of funding information from the author via our Wiley Author Licensing Service (WALS). This information is fed to CrossRef and CHORUS, allowing them to populate their funder database. The CHORUS project team is now looking into enhancing that workflow, which will enable Wiley to comply with additional federal mandates including public access to funded papers following publication. We are anticipating that this will be in place by fall of 2015. We will be communicating with the wider Wiley publishing community to keep everyone up to date with CHORUS progress and any impacts to Wiley's journals.

You can follow Susan on Twitter @sspilka or @CHORUSaccess


Susan Spilka
Susan Spilka of CHORUS
Source: Susan Spilka

Q. Can you tell us about CHORUS and what it does?

CHORUS is part of the transformative wave sweeping through the scholarly communications landscape. We offer a suite of services and best practices to advance public access by automating compliance and enabling transparency on:


    • What, when and where journal articles and associated data are publicly accessible


    • Where and how they are preserved


    • How the content and data may be used


    • Who funded the underlying research


Q. What is unique about CHORUS?

A. CHORUS is a non-profit 501(c)(3) membership organization founded on the proposition that government and funder objectives can best be met by building on -- rather than dismantling -- existing publishing infrastructure. Because CHORUS uses CrossRef’s widespread open technology, we are able to provide a unified framework to cover multiple agencies, automating a process that has, up until now, been time-consuming, expensive, and labor-intensive for authors, university administrators, funding agency personnel, and publishers alike. CHORUS’ distributed-access approach avoids unnecessary duplication of effort and expense by directing search results to content in context with valuable tools and information on the original publication site.

Q. So CHORUS provides a way for publishers and societies to help researchers meet government and funder requirements?

A. Yes, but there’s more to it than that. CHORUS provides a path to sustainable and scalable public access that balances diverse stakeholder needs. It works across the spectrum of public-access policies (which are likely to be as varied as the organizations involved) and in concert with diverse proprietary and public access license terms – and it does so with no potential disruptive and duplicative consequences. CHORUS has a “seat at the table” among researchers, publishers, funders, and policy makers. We don’t lobby or take positions on policy issues; instead, we add value through collaboration, innovation, and broadening the dialogue to support public access in a way that is beneficial for all.

Q. How does CHORUS balance the diverse needs of stakeholders?

A. Using CHORUS spares publishers and funders the considerable effort and expense involved in creating, maintaining, and monitoring independent compliance infrastructure, while enabling interoperability, text and data mining, and dashboard monitoring.

CHORUS’ core services – available at no cost to funders, researchers, academic institutions, libraries, and the public – begin with a simplified automated workflow that doesn't entail any additional significant time or effort for researchers. With more than 20 major federal funding agencies in the US alone, keeping track of, let alone meeting, the varied requirements is daunting for researchers and university research officers, especially when research is funded by more than one agency, as often is the case.

CHORUS’ distributed-access approach is policy-neutral and promotes member content via commonly used search engines and new discovery tools, yielding search results that point to the Version of Record (the final published article, including any post-publication corrections) or the Accepted Author Manuscript (the version of an article that has been accepted for publication in a journal) in context with valuable tools and information on the original publication sites. Librarians, researchers, and the public benefit from optimized discovery. Importantly, by directing traffic in this way, CHORUS helps to consolidate article-level metrics and enable more accurate tracking to demonstrate the reach of published research, a benefit for researchers, funders, and publishers alike.

Q. Is CHORUS up and running?

A. Yes! 2014 was a groundbreaking year. CHORUS is in production, working with and recognized by a major US funding agency (Department of Energy) and conducting active discussions with other US and global funders. Member publishers are now routinely and systematically identifying content with CrossRef’s FundRef tags, adding license information and making content publicly available on their platforms. CHORUS already monitors more than 60,000 CrossRef DOIs (digital object identifiers) associating Publisher Members’ content to funding agencies — a number which is growing daily and will increase dramatically later in 2015 when the DOE requirements take effect.

An agreement is in place with Portico to enable public access in case previously publicly accessible Portico member content goes dark, and we expect a similar arrangement with CLOCKSS in the coming months. We recently kicked off our initial membership drive, signing on American Chemical Society, American Institute of Physics Publishing, American Physical Society, American Society of Plant Biologists, Association of Computing Machinery, Elsevier, Hindawi, IEEE, IOP Publishing, The Optical Society, The Royal Society, and Wiley as members in the first few months.

Q. How does it all work?

A. CHORUS audits member articles for public-access availability; upcoming plans include flagging the status and date of public accessibility on search results. The information is also reported on CHORUS agency dashboards, which monitor a variety of compliance metrics. Plans include developing customized dashboard services for publishers and if there’s enough interest, academic institutions.

CHORUS dashboards also report on preservation and archiving arrangements, a benefit for all. Institutional and government repositories can be subject to budget cuts and shifting priorities, but CHORUS ensures permanent accessibility, through the program we’ve developed with Portico (CLOCKSS agreement pending) to enable our members to establish permanent and perpetual access for their content.

Q. What about data?

A. Among the projects in development, CHORUS is exploring connections to data repositories and collaborating with a wide array of innovative, cooperative data initiatives. Executive Director Howard Ratner is involved with the CrossRef–DataCite Pilot, SHARE, and the RDA-WDS Publishing Data Services Working Group, and is talking with the RMap Project, Dataverse, figshare, and Dryad.

Q. Why should societies join CHORUS?

A. Unbudgeted funds are hard to find no matter the amount, but a modest investment in membership (starting at a reasonable $1,000 annually) represents good value. Membership yields an array of benefits including promoting the long-term viability of scholarly communications. CHORUS’s automated compliance workflow can save considerable effort and expense for organizations, large and small, that don’t have staff time/bandwidth to spare.

Societies and smaller publishers, even those published by Publisher Members (such as Wiley) or supported by grant money, can make a big impact. Because our by-laws require that non-profit publishers comprise the majority on our Board, a diverse and inclusive group governs CHORUS. You can guide CHORUS’ and the industry’s future if you join our Board or working groups.

CHORUS offers Technical Implementation Workshops and webinars to share best practices in public-access content management, enabling publishers to streamline their efforts and build efficiencies by learning from the best in the industry. The next one is scheduled for February 3rd in Washington, D.C., coinciding with the AAP/PSP meeting and you can register online here.

Thanks Susan!

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