Monthly Archives: April 2015

Recent readings on open access and academic publishing (Part 2)

Photograph Archaeology of Bathing by Mal Booth on 500px

Archaeology of Bathing by Mal Booth on 500px  (public art, because I don’t like cats)

And so dear friends, Part 2 begins … having finished my sandwiches (as Gerard Hoffnung would say).

Do we really have a problem with low quality academic journals? This post by Witold Kieńć from openscience was made in late January, but I only found it this morning. He discusses the problems surrounding the hunt for better impact factors and the imperative to publish or perish in order to improve academic reputation. Witold asks whether low quality journals are really that much of a problem, but recognises the issue with predatory and poor quality journals. Whilst some see the latter as a waste of public money, Witold says they do no harm to knowledge development. Furthermore, if such publications are blocked we may well be preventing the development of excellent quality journals for years simply because they are new or innovating in new ways. Witold says the “noise” created by such journals can easily be filtered.

John Dupuis gathers and briefly analyses even more material on a similar subject in ScienceBlogs with his post Some perspective on “predatory” open access journals. John sees the need for more balance in reporting about predatory journals and more pressing issues in scholarly communications (i.e. flaws and limitations in the peer review system and the far more predatory traditional publishing system that is responsible for the big paywalls). He presents links to other resources discussing the major issues with a need for reform of peer review and to cases of significant retractions or scientific fraud that got past peer review in traditionally published journals. Finally he presents some very interesting links to articles since early 2014 that point out the ways the major commercial publishers are still controlling scholarly publishing and charging enormous amounts of money for it, even open access material.

A related article that I read only recently was published by the Huffington Post late in 2014. It was written by Jason Schmitt and titled Academic Journals: The Most Profitable Obsolete Technology in History. Jason highlights the unsustainable and unaffordable nature of the current publishing system for academic journals. “In contrast to the exorbitant prices for access, the majority of academic journals are produced, reviewed, and edited on a volunteer basis by academics who take part in the tasks for tenure and promotion.” This costly system causes problems for even the wealthier institutions like Harvard, but he says it wreaks havoc on smaller US institutions. (And I can assure you that it is just the same for Australian institutions.) Steep prices are further compounded by big deals and costing models where institutions are forced to buy packages including many titles that will never be used. The article questions whether we now need journals as they were traditionally conceived, i.e. in the days of print publishing. He suggests that a digital revolution is now possible for academic researchers which would remove most costs from the current system and be more suited to digital publishing and hosting. One major problem with this brave new world is the conservative nature of most academics who still seem to be quite comfortable with the current environment. But funding heavy weights such as the US NIH and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are throwing their support behind open access and this could point to change. Finally, Jason points out “we, the people, deserve access”.

I’ll finish Part 2 with a link to a short film about the Hague Declaration that is to be launched on 6 May in Brussels. This declaration is still in draft form (so you won’t be able to read and sign it until after it is launched), but it aims to improve access to facts, data and ideas for knowledge discovery in the digital age, so it nicely connects to the sentiments expressed by Jason above. Their aim is to remove the barriers to access and analysing knowledge and data. The short film about it can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/118462366  I think this is something all librarians should get behind.

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Recent readings on open access and academic publishing (Part 1)

Hello Sports Fans!

I’ve been reading a few pretty thoughtful and useful articles of late about open access publishing, traditional academic publishing and what might be wrong with and improved in these systems. So, I decided to bring all the links together here and offer you a wee comment on each for your viewing pleasure …

Firstly and perhaps most importantly there is this short article from Dr Sarah Kendzior who has left academia: Lip-Syncing to the Academic Conversation . Here she points out that only the privileged few have access, even if they’ve actually written the article or been cited by someone else. As she says “academia is an industry designed on insularity”. Maybe this can only truly be understood from outside our walls? She also points out that the relentless pursuit of career goals and value for money has led to us forgetting what should be a most basic goal: the furthering of knowledge.

More recently via techdirt I saw this article that makes a point not so far removed from Sarah’s gripes above: Don’t Think Open Access Is Important? It Might Have Prevented Much Of The Ebola Outbreak. It goes on to claim that the conventional wisdom about the non presence of the Ebola virus in West Africa before 2013 was wrong because the most up-to-date research was locked away behind paywalls and that the download charges were unaffordable even to the Liberian co-authors of some of the research. . It is a long bow to draw to suggest that the crisis might have been completely avoided if the research was freely available, but still …

Prof, no one is reading you was published less than a week ago in The Straits Times as an opinion piece. The authors say that an average academic journal article is fully read by about 10 people. They suggest (as I did recently) that authors need to start combining some short form journalism with this long form research to promote their research in order to get it read more widely. Furthermore the authors say that 82% of humanities articles are never cited, whilst only 68% of the social sciences and 73% of the of the natural sciences receive citations. They also complain about the sheer volume of material and jargon that one has to wade through in most articles. This is needed if that research is to have any impact at all with policy makers and practitioners and they give some very illuminating examples of why this is such a problem with key research into resources like water. It certainly made me think. And here is some further research from LSE into those poor citation rates (which seems to back up the figures used above): Are 90% of academic papers really never cited? Reviewing the literature on academic citations.

The authors of that article would probably applaud two recent posts from PLOS blogs. Firstly, there was How Articles Get Noticed and Advance the Scientific Conversation, which illustrates and explains the importance of social media in promoting research articles and in engaging with readers. And secondly there was Ask our authors anything: new PLOS ‘AMA’ series debuts on redditscience. So PLOS has started using that popular reddit Ask Me Anything series to help explain the science behind their research articles. I reckon this is F A N T A S T I C!

And just to further the point re promotion of research, openscience has a handy series of four posts starting at How to promote an Open Access book? Part 1: Networking. (The next three on Abstracting and Indexing, publisher’s brand and the traditional ways are linked from that first post.)

That’s all for my Part 1. I’ll give you all a little break now for being such good readers. Smoke if you’ve got them …

Mal Booth, UTS Library

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UK Open access: review of implementation of the RCUK policy: money well spent?

A new blog post on the Australian Open Access Support group blog post probes this new report – some highlights from the report:

The data on the actual APC costs is revealing:

  • Maximum average  APC is £UK3,710
  • Minimum average publisher APC is £UK72
  • Median average publisher APC is £UK1,393

Perhaps the most interesting figure is the number of publishers who received revenue from the fund:

  • 80% of papers were from 14 publishers
  • 90% were from 24 publishers

Four major areas raised by the report are very important for future developments in OA.:

  • The first is undoubtedly the cost and who receives the funds. The £UK16.9 million has been paid to publishers for many in addition to the revenue received through traditional processes such as library subscriptions and author payments. Double dipping has been the subject of considerable debate by RCUK and others it is notable that (as in Wellcome’s report) and the highest APCs were for hybrid journal articles. The fundamental question raise by librarians has been around whether it is sustainable to increase revenue to a fundamentally small number of publishers.
  • Second, the sustainability of the existing model. There are signs that publishers may be open to approaching funding of scholarly publishing differently. The Jisc project on the total cost of ownership seeks to develop models where payments to publishers are negotiated on the basis of reducing subscriptions to balance the open access payments. Springer and Jisc have announced a new arrangement to implement a model that takes account of the open access payments.
  • \Third, the issue of embargoes is central to future developments of green and gold access. The report note the continuing concerns of humanities and social sciences researchers about short (i.e. 6 or 12 month) embargoes. A discussion of continued long embargoes is included in the report as well as in the HEFCE commissioned report on monographs and open access. The argument from scholarly societies is around ensuring continued revenue from journal publishing – based on the assumption that primary revenue model in some areas will continue to be based on subscriptions. The report notes that the “panel feels that there is not enough information available at this early stage to come to an evidence-based conclusion on the issue of embargoes and, therefore, its recommendation is to ensure that continued attention is given to the matter in subsequent reviews”
  • Fourth, it is clear that there is substantial administrative burden associated with the policy implementation and compliance monitoring – for researchers, institutions and the funders involved. The report recommends further thinking in this area, but specifically suggests that RCUK should mandate the use of ORCiD identifiers (something that has just been supported by Australia’s NHMRC and ARC)

Roxanne Missingham

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Cambridge University Press embraces Open

An excellent initiative:

Cambridge University Press are launching a new Open Access Monograph Publishing Service offering authors a way to publish their books via open access in a fairly priced way.

This new service gives authors the option of publishing their work under the Gold Open Access model, supporting the Press’s mission to disseminate knowledge at the highest international levels of excellence.

The standard charge for publication of books under the Gold Open Access model at the Press is £6,500 ($10,000/€9,000) for titles of up to 120,000 words. The charge has been set at this level in recognition of ongoing print sales, but as these diminish the business models and pricing levels may change.

The Press also supports Green Open Access Archiving across books and journals. This new policy allows authors of monographs and certain other books to post portions of their work on personal websites and repositories without compromising any aspect of the publishing process.

Matthew Day, the Press’s new Head of Open Access and Data Publishing, said; ‘We are excited to launch our new Open Access policies at the London Book Fair. We want to continue to engage in the Open Access debate within the industry and our aim is to be the most transparent publisher of re-usable and reproducible research.’

Mandy Hill, Managing Director of Academic, said; ‘Open Access is incredibly important to the Press and we recognise its importance to researchers across the globe. This new service supports our mission to disseminate knowledge and research of the highest academic rigour globally and meet the ever changing publishing needs of academic communities.’

Last year, the Press published The History Manifesto by David Armitage and Jo Guldi and Martin Eve’s Open Access and the Humanities as well as three titles through Knowledge Unlatched as Open Access books.

More information about the Press’s new Open Access policies can be found on www.cambridge.org/openaccess

Roxanne Missingham

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Open Researcher and Contributor ID

One of the major issues in research is connecting the research outputs and awards granted to researchers – it’s a worldwide problem.

Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) is an international initiative to address this problem.

This week NHMRC and ARC released a Statement on Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID).  The statement, which has been endorsed by UA, ARMS, CAUL and ANDS, proposes that Australia’s research sector broadly embrace the use of ORCID  as a common researcher identifier. It states:

As a matter of principle we:

1. Recognise the value of unique researcher identifiers in reducing red tape, increasing efficiency, improving data quality, integrating disparate data, promoting the reuse of data, and enhancing the online presence of Australian research to the global market; and

2. Commit to support the use of ORCID as a common researcher identifier.

Further information and the full Joint Statement of Principle is available at http://doi.org/10.4225/14/552b16efae74b

The NHMRC and the ARC joint statement on ORCID included the following:

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Australian Research Council (ARC) encourage all researchers applying for funding to have an ORCID identifier.

Watch for more developments in this space!
Roxanne Missingham

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