Berkeley Lab

Open Access and Berkeley Lab publication policies

Come and join us to learn about the history and current status of the Open Access, and how the DOE publishing policies wants you to help in that effort. We will also give a refresher of the good practices regarding acknowledgement, particularly critical in times where there is a change in the composition of the federal government.

Laurence Bianchini from MyScienceWork will and Peter Palath from Berkeley Lab will give an information session on Open Access and publication policy specific to the lab, on Thursday, December 1st at 11am in Aud50.open_access_slide
The talk is open to anyone at the lab.

Here is some information : Open Access publishing at Berkeley Lab.


The forum@MSD series is a new format we’re experimenting in collaboration with the Material Science Division at Berkeley Lab, where we bring a top scientist to introduce a scientific subject, and we let two or three postdocs presenting their research.

The forum is aimed at cultivating collaboration across MSD among early- career scientists. Postdocs, introduced by their PIs, discuss your work in a manner accessible to non-experts. The talks are not be limited to published results, rather the ongoing day-to-day nature of gathering results; topics for discussion include :

  • Nuts and bolts of gathering results
  • Obstacles you encountered – technical or otherwise
  • Dealing with ‘negative results’
  • Topic change from previous work

Our first event on November 9th, 2016 featured Topological Insulators, the topic related to the Nobel Prize this year. Joel Moore gave a theoretical introduction to the subject; young scientists Kenny Gotlieb and Liang Wu shared their research, followed by a hearty discussion !

Kenny Gotlieb presenting his latest results on Topological Insulators

Kenny Gotlieb presenting his latest results on Topological Insulators

This effort follows a desire to build upon the tremendous MSD successes over the past few years (here’s the Energy Sciences strategic plan for 2016 if you want to learn more about the research performed at the lab)

Visit of MSRI

The Berkeley Lab postdocs were delighted to be given a tour of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute by its director David Eisenbud! All the pictures are available here.

We’ve learned many things about how Mathematical science works, and the many differences in how it is conducted. Most postdocs come here for 6 months only, covering a specific topic of mathematics and sharing their thoughts during seminars.

David Eisenbud giving a tour Berkeley Lab postdocs

David Eisenbud giving a tour Berkeley Lab postdocs

The address of MSRI (17 Gauss way) has to do with polygon construction, and is a recurrent theme in the institution, as an exemplification that math and physical science are just two sides of the same coin.

The Institute was so kind they got us a chance to meet our mathematician counterparts and talk about exotic theories around a few beers and snacks !


We hope to create deeper connections between MSRI and LBNL in the future, and we will be thrilled to have them over anytime, to compare the respective merits of theory and experiment !

MSRI postdocs visiting Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source

MSRI postdocs visiting Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source

Series X : Mina Bissell

We had the great honor to welcome Mina Bissell for the Series X seminar (the pictures are available here.)

Mina Bissell talking to Berkeley Lab postdocs

Mina Bissell talking to Berkeley Lab postdocs

She fought all her life to get her research accepted, but also smashing gender barriers. She’s always been a great advocate of the postdocs.

Trust yourself, you only have one life !

She gave a TED talk a few years ago (Experiments that point to a new understanding of cancer)

Mina Bissell with Berkeley Lab postdocs

Mina Bissell with Berkeley Lab postdocs

Here’s a few resources she shared with us :

Thinking in three dimensions
 – Heeding a mentor’s advice: A lesson in persistence
Context is everything


Postdoc Orientation : November 2nd, 2016

We are now offering orientation to postdocs on a monthly basis, in collaboration with the human resources at the lab. We essentially give an overview of the science at the lab and the life in  Berkeley.

Berkeley Lab postdoc Orientation

Berkeley Lab postdoc Orientation

The presentation is available here.

Open Access publishing at Berkeley Lab

open_access_flag_bw_croppedIt’s Open Access Week.  And, postdocs are at the forefront to promote Open Access (OA) as an important scientific and societal movement.  To further raise awareness we devote this blog post to OA by mentioning and briefly discussing the two main options for us—for researchers at Berkeley Lab—to publish OA.  As we will explain below in more detail, the first option is optional, whereas the second one is actually a stipulation that we have to meet.

To get started the most instructive way to dive into this topic is maybe a quote:

All scientific and technical research funded by the U.S. Government or undertaken at facilities funded by the government must be made available for access by the public.

This quote, which is taken from the Lab’s Scientific Publications FAQs, is pretty self-explanatory. Every person at the Lab who publishes papers that report on Lab-funded research has to make the papers publicly available.  Period.

The first option to achieve open access is: pay the publisher to make it available on the publisher’s website.  Open access fees are however easily >$1,000, even if circumstances are favorable.  For example, the Lab is an All ACS Publications-subscribing institution with the American Chemical Society (ACS), which significantly reduces OA costs with this specific publisher. And, if you’re a member with the ACS, this further reduces OA costs (click here for an overview).  So, there can be cost-reducing factors: yes.  But it is typically still financially difficult for a young researcher such as a postdoc or PhD candidate who does not have proper own funding to go for OA all by her/his own.  In those cases, you’re critically dependent on the graciousness (and funding) of your PI or mentor.

The second OA option is very specific to people like us at the Lab; that is, people at US government institutions.  Because the US government retains a non-exclusive right to publish and reproduce manuscripts, it has provided us with a cheap route to open access.  There are some important things to consider, which we highlight below.

The underlying policy affects much more than only journal articles.  It pertains equally to following scientific and technical documents: conference submissions, proceedings, books and book chapters, theses/dissertations, and formal programmatic progress and completion reports.  All of these documents have to be sent to Department of Energy’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI).  So, this open access route is in fact a requirement.  Keep that in mind.

The first step in pursuing this OA option is talking to your PI, mentor, group leader, and/or division administration people.  The reason is that you have to find out whether or not there are division-specific policies and procedures in place.  Should there not be any such special procedures, the next step toward OA happens after submission and acceptance of your manuscript.  At that point, you have to include following copyright statement to the copyright agreement with your (commercial) publisher:

This manuscript has been authored by an author at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231 with the U.S. Department of Energy. The U.S. Government retains, and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges, that the U.S. Government retains a non-exclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, world-wide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this manuscript, or allow others to do so, for U.S. Government purposes.

If you wish to publish with Elsevier, you have to take into account that the publisher requires an amended publication agreement.  For this reason, authors should contact Elsevier at

Commercial publishers typically demand that you may not use the proof-read and formatted pdf that the publisher provides.  Instead, you should use a generic version of your manuscript.  This is typically the revised paper that you re-submit as a response to reviewers’ comments and suggestions. Apart from standard information that has to be included in the generic manuscript version, the corresponding RPM tells you to insert a legal disclaimer:

“This document was prepared as an account of work sponsored by the United States Government. While this document is believed to contain correct information, neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor the Regents of the University of California, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by its trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof, or the Regents of the University of California. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof or the Regents of the University of California.”

Finally, some publishers require a so-called exclusivity period.  That is, the publisher has the exclusive right for a defined period of time (e.g., for half a year after formal publication of your paper on their website) to provide access in any form to any version of your manuscript.  So, you’re not even allowed to have the generic version of your paper on any document server during that time period.  Check the author guidelines and other resources found on your publisher’s websites to ensure you comply with all relevant policies.

We hope that the blog helps postdocs and other people to be more aware of open access options and requirements at Berkeley Lab.  We wish everybody happy (open access) publishing.

Uncharted 2016

Berkeley Lab got a chance to bring some science to Uncharted, with Ruimin Qiao talking about how her research shines a light on batteries, and Sinead Griffin (@sineatrix) on how size doesn’t matter in science. The event was held October 14-15th in Berkeley, bringing together renown columnists and social activists.

Ruimin was the winner of the ALS/Molecular Foundry Science Slam, and Sinead recently won the Bay Area Falling Walls competition.

Sinead and Ruimin

Sinead and Ruimin

The video of their performances can be found here : Ruimin and Sinead.

The organizers (Berkeleyside) kindly handed free admission to half a dozen of postdocs of the lab.

Read more about Ruimin :

Careers at College

Tom Donnelly, head of the department of physics at Harvey Mudd College came to Berkeley Lab to give a presentation about careers at college, and explained the difference between university and colleges to an audience of postdocs.

Tom Donnelly from Harvey Mudd College talking to Berkeley Lab postdocs

Tom Donnelly fro Harvey Mudd College talking to Berkeley Lab postdocs

He later on engaged with the participants around lunch, and visited the Advanced Light Source (“wow, very cool !” he said, approximately.)

The corresponding slides are here, and the recording of the event is here.

Postdoc orientation, October 2016


In the news

Thanks to ALS for the nice shoot out !

Shedding Light on Postdocs