As information enthusiasts, whether you’re a librarian, researcher, or other information connoisseur, we’re always looking for new ways to access information. A lot of this digging for knowledge will very often lead us to various web pages, or perhaps PDF or HTML versions of scholarly materials. In this respect, we’re capable of using the web to find information, but the most important tool to get to that information is you, the searcher, not necessarily the machine you’re using.
Web pages can be understood as objects created by humans, and designed to be read and understood by people, not machines. The semantic web is a system where machines can “understand” and respond to human inquiries based on semantic structures—understanding the relationships between different words. Its usefulness lies in helping computers “read” and use the web. Consider this basic example: a computer isn’t able to completely recognize your household pet playing fetch in the yard like you are. But, it can be told that there is an object called ‘dog’ which has the attributes ‘tail’ and ‘fur’ with an example of this object being ‘comet’ (the name of your dog). The machine doesn’t need to understand the human impression or sense of the words, i.e., what they mean, but rather the relationships between the symbols used. This idea basically involves the inclusion of semantic content (metadata) in web pages. This involves using web “languages” and tools specifically designed for data, and these technologies work together as a structure for computers to look for information and define relationships. Web developers can use these machine-readable descriptions to add meaning to content so that the machine can process knowledge itself, sort of like inference, with a goal of obtaining more meaningful results.
The practice of being able to expose, share, and connect data, information, and knowledge-known as linked data, could potentially lead to significant applications in our daily activities and of course in publishing and scholarly impact. Consider the idea of scientific discovery and the ability to share data across the web with the potential to combat a range of diseases that an individual or educational institution couldn’t gather sufficient information about alone.
Many institutional repositories don’t have a designated or even minimally desirable way to capture and archive datasets. It’s certainly a conversation that we have within the WSU library system often.
PDF and HTML versions of scholarly output have their own set of unique limitations, therefore, it is inevitable that the still developing model of the semantic web would also lead to challenges.
What do you think?! Here’s an example: GoPubMed
The Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) recently released its first directory of academic libraries that engage in publishing. This directory includes Wayne State’s own Library System. You might ask, well, what does publishing have to do with libraries beyond the obvious? Aren’t they usually dealing with information after it’s been published not before? Let’s spend a bit looking over why we do this and how it affects you.
Why Are Libraries Becoming Involved With Publishing?
These libraries seek to advance publishing in all forms, traditional and nontraditional. As the methods and definitions of publishing and publication have expanded (e.g. open-access publishing, data publishing and more), there has been a need for a useful umbrella under which these and other scholarly types of publication can be nurtured and produced. Libraries are seeking to fill this space. The LPC goes into greater detail about library publishing here; however, here’s the gist of it:
Based on core library values and building on the traditional skills of librarians, it is distinguished from other publishing fields by a preference for Open Access dissemination and a willingness to embrace informal and experimental forms of scholarly communication and to challenge the status quo. (LPC-About Us)
How Does This Affect Me?
“Wayne State’s Digital Publishing Unit works to make unique, important, or institutionally relevant scholarly content available to the world at large, in the context of the WSU Library System’s digital platforms.” We’ve partnered with the Wayne State Press to support their expansion into digital publication of their journals. Similarly we are busy making Wayne State’s valuable faculty-lead publications and research available through the university’s institutional repository, DigitalCommons@WayneState.
Do you have an open-access journal that you run? If so, we might be able to provide a web presence for you. Need to publish your research data? Let us know. Have some other sort of publishing question? We can answer it. As always you can contact us at email@example.com or visit our site, http://scholarscooperative.wayne.edu, for more information.
Taylor and Francis recently conducted a survey of their author community on topics related to Open Access (OA). Many authors were unsure, or in the middle on a lot of the questions posed to them. For example , when asked about future intentions regarding article publishing practices, 51% reported they weren’t sure if they would CHOOSE to publish more often in OA journals with fees; and 35% claimed ‘no’ with certainty. They were also asked in this same section if they would HAVE to publish more in OA journals due to mandates from a funder or their institution, of which 44% said they were unsure, and 47% responded no.
In another part of the survey, titled “research funders”, authors were asked to state how frequently certain statements apply. One asked if the authors institution required publication in “free to access journals”, of which 74% said never. There’s also a section on OA services, which asks participants to rate the importance of the services they expect when they pay to publish OA; the top area of importance was “rigorous peer review”.
Let’s take a quick walk through another part of the survey, the future of OA publishing. Half of the participants were asked questions about what they would like to happen, the other half about what they think will happen. When asked about OA publication, authors were given three options to choose from related to research outputs; two of which specifically mentioned restrictions (no restrictions, and some restrictions) on re-use, and the statements used the words open access, but made no mention of fees. The last option focused on research being published in subscription journals where there are no fees involved. The last statement is the one most respondents said they thought would happen, or would like to see happen.
There’s an obvious recurring theme of paying, either literally, or figuratively throughout the survey. There are many implications and conclusions to draw from this idea alone, but now that you’ve read a lot about OA, authors, scholarly publishing, etc., when you read the words “open” and “access” what do you think? If it’s open, and accessible, should there be some sort of cost or “cost” to it?
Tell us what you think. Visit us here.
Cory Doctorow is a pioneer of intellectual freedom on the Internet, a writer of fiction who releases all his works under Creative Commons licenses (indeed, the author of the first-ever CC-licensed novel). You can read all about that here, and you should, it’s fascinating. He co-edits boingboing.net, served as the European Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and writes successful fiction for both adults and young adults.
In late August, Doctorow shared in The Guardian his experience attempting to procure a digital copy of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the authority-of-record for the English language. The print OED has become important in his writing process, and he was interested in a version he could access when he was writing away from his desk.
What he discovered (and the impetus for his article) is that Oxford University Press, the publisher of the OED, “will not sell you a digital OED. Not for any price. Instead, these books are rented by the month, accessed via the internet by logged-in users. If you stop paying, your access to these books is terminated.”  He was nonplussed — this was counter to his experience in the commercial world, where everything is available for a price. But when he shared his experience later with librarians at a conference, they responded with a “welcome to the club,” well aware of the digital licensing practices of scholarly publishers.
Doctorow points out that the word “subscription” has changed in the Internet age. Whereas a subscription in the print medium means a prepaid purchase of a volume of periodicals, which then belong to the purchaser to dispose of as he or she will, on the Internet “subscription” means something more like “rent”. The online OED, like almost all online scholarly content services, operates exclusively under a pay-to-access model. As long as you continue to pay, you continue to enjoy access; if you cease paying, you cease to enjoy access.
While Doctorow goes on to fairly consider both the advantages and disadvantages of this state of affairs, I myself would like to consider this a little further from the librarians’ POV (“welcome to the club,” remember). The print subscription is fast falling to its digital counterpart as academic library budgets, Wayne State’s included, continue to constrict. Faculty will be familiar with the annual journal review process, where they’re presented with a kind of Sophie’s Choice regarding which subscriptions they’re unwilling to part with and which can fall to the fiscal knife. As the last of these print subscriptions go, the remaining digital subscriptions will begin to fall as well.
The problem there is twofold. One, serial expenditures at university libraries increase yearly (400% over the last two decades , 100% faster than overall library materials expenditures over the same time period) at a rate far higher than inflation, while library budgets remain stagnant or in decline. This is in large part due to scholarly publisher practice, which yearly increases the cost of scholarly journals to an inelastic market that has no choice but pay.
Two, and more to the point of Doctorow’s article, digital subscriptions are pay-to-play. When cost cutting has finally excised all significant print subscriptions from the academic library, the cuts that follow will result not just in the loss of access to all future research from the discontinued digital titles, but also in many cases to all past research as well. While this admittedly is a simplified picture of the crisis, it remains the issue with which libraries — and by extension, scholars and researchers of every stripe — deal regarding the state of scholarly publishing.
One way to push back is to free research from the constraints of the digital subscription model by making it open access. As the open access movement gains critical mass, the hegemony of the current scholarly publishing providers over the domain of scholarship steadily recedes. This is one of the many tacks the Wayne State University Library System is taking in the scholarly communication crisis, providing DigitalCommons@WayneState (DC@WSU) to host Wayne State affiliated scholarship and distribute it to the wider world.
You can find out more about open access, DC@WSU, and the Libraries’ services at one of this week’s many Open Access Week events in the library (schedule available at http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/oa/2013/). The Scholars Cooperative is also always available to consult on these and other topics with the WSU community: contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Doctorow, Cory. 2013. Oxford English Dictionary – the future. The Guardian, accessed online at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/aug/23/oxford-english-dictionary-future-digitally.
Open Access Week is a global event now in its 6th year, promoting Open Access as a new norm in scholarship and research. “Open Access” is the free, immediate, and online access to scholarly works including the rights to use and re-use those results as needed.
Open Access maximizes research potential by increasing exposure and use of works, facilitating the ability to conduct research, and enhancing the overall advancement of scholarship. When a work is made open access, there is a proven citation advantage.
Open Access is quickly becoming the norm. Institutions such as the NIH, Harvard, and MIT have already instituted open access policies. We expect more funding agencies to require funders to make their research open access in the near future. The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is in the process of implementing an open access policy for publicly funded research.
The WSU Library System is committed to advocating for Open Access and assisting our campus through informational and educational initiatives, as well as via our open access institutional repository, DigitalCommons@WayneState.
We have planned the following events and invite everyone to attend to learn more about open access:
Monday, October 21
- Introduction to the Scholars Cooperative @ 11:00am in the Purdy-Kresge Library Simons Room
- Open Access: Redefining Impact Webinar @ 3:00pm in the Purdy-Kresge Library Simons Room
Tuesday, October 22
- Guest Speaker: Sarah Beaubien from GVSU “Open Education Resources: Decreasing Costs and Increasing Freedom” @ 2:30pm in the Undergraduate Library Community Room
Wednesday, October 23
- 5 Tips for Getting Started with Open Access Publishing @ 11:30am in the Purdy-Kresge Library Simons Room
Thursday, October 24
- DIY DigitalCommons@WayneState Workshop @ 1:00pm in the Undergraduate Library Lab A
For more detailed information about our programs, please see: http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/oa/2013/
Play “Which Costs More?“, our fun quiz highlighting the high cost of journal subscriptions and the importance of Open Access.
What is ResearchGate?
Many WSU researchers have become active members of ResearchGate, a social networking site specifically for researchers to share their scholarship, ask and answer questions, and connect and collaborate with colleagues. Described as “a sort of mash-up of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn,” by the New York Times, ResearchGate has become an increasingly popular tool since being founded in 2009.
Some useful ResearchGate features are:
- The ability to publish your non-peer-reviewed research in order to get feedback from other researchers
- Tracking of views, downloads and citations, and providing system-generated “impact points”
- A lively and robust Q&A section allowing researchers to ask and answer questions of one another
What about copyright?
If you hold the copyright to your work, you can determine where you want your work on display. In most cases, however, copyrights have been transferred to the publishers. Depending on your agreements with your publishers, you may be violating copyright law by posting your full-text articles in ResearchGate. A great tool to determine publisher copyright and self-archiving policies is SHERPA/RoMEO. Most publishers allow for self-archiving of the post-print of your work in an institutional repository or the author’s personal website, but make no provisions for archiving in a commercial social networking site. ResearchGate claims that individual profile pages on their site are considered the author’s personal websites in a past press release, although we are unable to verify the claim.
Is it a long-term archival solution?
ResearchGate is a commercial enterprise and has no obligation to provide continuous support for its archival benefits. The company could decide to change strategic direction or close its doors entirely. Likewise, the company could be sold similarly to the recent acquisition of Mendeley by Elsevier.
Is there a perpetual, copyright-compliant way to self-archive?
As stated above, ResearchGate provides a number of useful tools for researchers and we encourage you to use it if it works for you, noting the potential shortcomings highlighted above.
If you are looking for a true Open Access solution, DigitalCommons@WayneState, WSU’s institutional repository, may be exactly what you need. We can provide you with an Open Access platform, complete with permanent and stable URLs. We can help you retain control of your copyright and ensure that the scholarship you deposit to DC@WSU is copyright-compliant. DC@WSU provides you with monthly readership reports. Furthermore, DC@WSU is indexed by Google and Google Scholar providing impressive discoverability of your work.
The Digital Commons Network links your scholarship with fellow researchers from over 300 institutions.
For those of you maintaining a ResearchGate profile, we would be happy to deposit your works in DigitalCommons@WayneState for you, as well. Just send us an e-mail at email@example.com.
“Everyone agrees that open-access is a good thing… The question is how to achieve it.” 
A news article recently published by journalist John Bohannon in Science, “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?”, is making the rounds in the Open Access (OA) and scholarly communications communities. And for very good reason. A response article from the Scholarly Kitchen succinctly sums up the gist of Bohannon’s article: “publishers tested in his study accepted a bogus scientific paper, most with little (if any) peer review.” 
To summarize: for his sting, Bohannon automatically generated scientific papers that were, “credible but mundane … with such grave errors that a competent peer reviewer should easily identify it as flawed and unpublishable,”  then submitted these articles to a list of Open Access journals. To generate this list, Bohannon, “filtered the DOAJ [Directory of Open Access Journals], eliminating those not published in English and those without standard open-access fees….The final list of targets came to 304 open-access publishers: 167 from the DOAJ, 121 from Beall’s list, and 16 that were listed by both.”  Of the 300+ bogus articles that Bohannon submitted, over 150 have already been accepted.
Why the Fuss?
For many, this appears to paint a grim picture of OA publishing, revealing a landscape where the scholarly peer review process has been sacrificed in the name of publishers soliciting fees from authors. Unfortunately, as this study demonstrates, there are journals and publishers out there that do just that. Wherever information has exchanged hands or there is money to be made, predatory practices have existed, and Open Access publishing is no exception. The rapid expansion of Open Access publishing for scholars has created, in Bohannon’s words, “an emerging Wild West in academic publishing.”
It should be noted that predatory behavior is not limited to fly-by-night operations: Bohannon’s study implicates a number of big-name publishers, like Kluwers and Sage, who have huge stakes in traditional scholarly publishing. And Bohannon exonerates some journals “that have been criticized for poor quality control” , admitting that PLOS One ”provided the most rigorous peer review of all,” identifying his errors right away and rejecting his submission.
Peter Suber, director of Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication and the Harvard Open Access Project, points out that Bohannon’s sting will likely lead people to draw conclusions that the study doesn’t support.  For instance, Bohannon didn’t study all Open Access journals, didn’t study non-fee-based Open Access journals, nor any traditional subscription journals, and so can’t argue that all or even most OA journals are weak, or that any OA journals are weaker than non-OA journals. Bohannon cherry-picked his targets to prove a point that’s long been proven: that there are low-quality and/or unethical scholarly journals out there (which was true long before the advent of Open Access and will continue to be true in the future). Surely we could conceive a study that submits the same shoddy research to 300 hand-picked Open Access journals and returns exactly the opposite results.
But the Open Access publishing world is vast, and the publishing route that Bohannon chose for his study – OA journals with fees associated with publishing – is only one route among many for open access publishing.
Green vs. Gold: Open Access Publishing
One important distinction to make concerning OA publishing, is the difference between “Gold” and “Green” publishing models. Suber has created an excellent Overview of Open Access publishing, where he touches on a key difference between the two:
“The green/gold distinction is about venues or delivery vehicles, not user rights or degrees of openness.” 
This distinction cannot be overstated. The publishing route that Bohannon chose for his study was entirely of the Gold variety – work made open access by the publisher at the point of publication, usually with some sort of fee to the author.
By contrast, Green OA involves depositing already-published articles in a repository, usually at an academic or research institution, and making them open-access after the fact. Green OA not only provides the same “openness” to scholarship as Gold, but sidesteps the problems with OA publishing that Bohannon targets in his article. Depositing articles in institutional repositories (e.g. DigitalCommons@WayneState), or subject specific repositories (e.g. PubMed, BioMed Central, arXiv, etc.) is considered Green OA in that it allows for freely accessible, full-text versions of materials already published in traditional, vetted journals. Often this deposited version of the article is what is called a “post-print”, a version of the manuscript that has undergone the peer review process and its resulting revisions, but prior to publisher formatting.
Bohannon’s findings are striking and sure to inspire healthy debate about Gold OA journals. But because authors can submit to publications of their choice and still provide open access to their articles in a repository, Green OA avoids this current unfortunate (and unsupported) correlation between open access and poor peer review processes.
What does this mean at Wayne?
Deposit articles you publish with us in DigitalCommons@WayneState, Wayne’s institutional repository, and provide open access to your scholarship while still publishing with journals you and your colleagues trust!
Bohannon’s article in Science has revealed some troubling statistics about the peer review process in Gold OA journals. But for us as part of the Scholar’s Cooperative, Wayne State University, and all those interested in promoting open access of scholarly work, it’s the perfect opportunity to highlight the benefits and proven effectiveness of making scholarship available via the Green Open Access model, using our very own DigitalCommons@WayneState institutional repository.
For related links and more information:
1) Original Science article, “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?”:
2) Data from Study:
3) NPR coverage:
4) Peter Suber’s assessment of the conclusions: https://plus.google.com/109377556796183035206/posts/CRHeCAtQqGq
5) Scholarly Kitchen response:
6) OASPA (Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association) response:
7) Open Access Overview, Peter Suber:
In 2012, a publisher in Argentina (Eterna Cadencia) printed a book called, “The Book That Can’t Wait”, which had a lifespan of two months. The book contained works by up-and-coming authors, and once it was opened, the ink was set to self-destruct, and fade away. A few months later, readers were left with a book of empty pages. The idea behind it was to combat the problem of being too busy to read: you better hurry up and read it, before it disappears.
Does this in essence put a short lifespan on the act of reading?
There are many, many digital publishing initiatives and trends in the world today for an exhaustive amount of reasons. The word trend can imply something that’s in fashion for the moment, and typically exists for a short duration of time. So what does this mean for people involved in digital publishing who work to preserve materials and make them accessible for an extended amount of time?
Consider the digital publishing trend of high interaction reading. An example of this is Varytale, a publisher and retailer of interactive books. The reader can manipulate the content and influence the narrative. This idea is kind of like choose your own adventure books, but in a digital format.
Or consider Touch Press, whose philosophy includes, “…to create a new kind of book that makes use of emerging technology to redefine the book, reinvent publishing, and forever transform the act of reading.” These books are fee-based apps (mostly iPad or iPhone) with a goal of enhancing the reading experience via rich media.
Think of the tools you use to write a paper, or maybe to present information. Many of us choose software like Microsoft Office, or Google Docs. Other productivity tools, like Editorially, (currently in beta ), offer a plain text (and collaborative) writing environment with the idea of being able to focus on the words, and not having any concern for the way it looks. Their site suggests that the web allows options for being able to “swap ink for HTML”.
There is no doubt that developers will continue to create new software and tools for us to use to write, publish, and read, but this all seems to beg the question: is digital publishing a trend itself?
Visit us here: Scholars Cooperative, to read more of our blogs.
Video about the disappearing book.
In late July, the American Historical Association (AHA) made waves in the scholarly communication community by releasing a Statement on Policies Regarding the Embargoing of Completed History PhD Dissertations, in which it “strongly encourages graduate programs and university libraries to adopt a policy that allows the embargoing of completed history PhD dissertations in digital form for as many as six years,” avowing that “an increasing number of university presses are reluctant to offer a publishing contract to newly minted PhDs whose dissertations have been freely available via online sources.” This is in keeping with the folk wisdom in the humanities that open access to dissertations is an impediment to future publishing opportunities.
In the same month (and in contradiction to the AHA’s assertions) College & Research Libraries published Marisa Ramirez et al’s findings from a 2011 survey of academic publishers “that manuscripts that are revisions of openly accessible Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs) are always welcome for submission or considered on a case-by-case basis by 82.8 percent of journal editors and 53.7 percent of university press directors polled.” Kevin Smith, Scholarly Communications Officer at Duke University, calls out the AHA for “purporting to defend the interests of graduate students” while modeling poor scholarly practice to its constituents by failing to factually support any of its claims.
Over against all of this is the basic principle, encoded for example in Harvard University’s Dissertation Guidelines, that dissertations must be made available as proof of achievement — a doctoral candidate “cannot have a degree for making a discovery that is kept secret.” Harvard Libraries, however, do indeed embargo their online dissertations, despite exhortations from Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication; not only that, they restrict access to the print dissertations based on the embargo settings of the electronic versions (see this opinion piece in The Harvard Crimson on the subject).
At Wayne State, our experience has been that embargoes for ETDs are requested most often for dissertations in disciplines (genetic research, for instance) where patent applications are common; humanities will also occasionally seek an embargo, along the lines of the AHA’s reasoning. Though PhD candidates retain copyright to their dissertations, the Graduate School’s Dissertation and Thesis Format Guidelines stipulate that students are “required to have the dissertation/thesis published so that manuscripts are available to the entire academic community,” a policy in line with Harvard’s “proof of achievement.” ETDs are published at Wayne State in two ways: through ProQuest/UMI’s Dissertations and Theses series, and through the library’s DigitalCommons@WayneState (DC@WSU), the institutional repository at Wayne State University (http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/etds). It is the library’s policy that dissertations in DC@WSU eventually revert to open access; authors may request an embargo through the libraries’ ETD permission preference form, and can extend that embargo on a yearly basis by contacting the libraries directly. But no provision is made for a multi-year embargo, as indeed the print versions of previous dissertations were never restricted, and can be disseminated broadly through interlibrary loan and document delivery.
The questions remain whether the dissertation is (or should be) primarily a vehicle for publishing opportunities, and whether the archiving of a dissertation in an open-access repository like DC@WSU is an impediment to that goal. Ramirez et al offer evidence to the contrary, and the AHA has yet to substantiate its claims. There is a wealth of scholarship that supports the thesis that open access to scholarly publication increases the impact and reputation of the author. The Scholars Cooperative welcomes inquiry and discussion on this and any other topic pertaining to scholarly communication and open access. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.