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Nov 11 / scholarscooperative

The Significance of the Lingua Exodus

Late last month the scholarly publishing world was shaken up when the entire editorial board for Lingua, a high-profile linguistics journal published by Elsevier, resigned over the publisher’s refusal to change several of the journal’s policies. The editors had three primary requests: That the journal be shifted to an Open Access publishing model, that the article processing charge (APC) for the journal be reduced, and that copyright for the content published in Lingua be assigned to the editorial board instead of the publisher. Cries of support have been heard from across the scholarly publishing landscape, along with calls to boycott Lingua in favor of Glossa, an Open Access linguistics which the Lingua editors plan to develop once their term with Elsevier expires at the end of the year.

Elsevier has not remained silent in all of this, of course. Many, such as the Open Library of the Humanities’ Dr. Martin Paul Eve, have expressed dissatisfaction with the publisher’s response to the resignation. Elsevier seems confident, though, that this will not affect the popularity or influence of Lingua, and they may be correct. So long as those in charge of the promotion and tenure of academics continue to favor traditional journal metrics and publication in prestigious, well-known titles, it seems hard to believe that Lingua will fade into obscurity. Indeed, a 2013 Scholarly Kitchen article by Todd Carpenter concluded that most journals which have seen a mass resignation of their editorial board more or less maintained their impact factor post-resignation.

A few caveats, though: First, Carpenter worked from a list prepared by Peter Suber of such resignations between 1989 and 2004. The explosion of social media since that time frame may have an appreciable effect on the situation at hand. Second, and perhaps more importantly, Carpenter observed that, in cases where the editors left to start a new title, the new title’s current Impact Factor is on average 50% better than the title that was subject to revolt. If nothing else, this is a promising sign for Glossa.

One positive takeaway from all of this is the amount of “good press” currently being received by Open Access. That the editors of a prominent journal in any subject area feel that Open Access is important enough to be the (or at least a part of the) reason to resign from their position signifies a change in the way Open Access is viewed by academics. This was not a mandate passed down by an academic senate or the lobbying of librarians, this was an unsolicited act by academics in support of Open Access. That, along with the support the resigning editors have received, signifies what could be a fundamental change in the way scholarly publishing is viewed.

Nov 2 / scholarscooperative

What Discrete Analysis says (and doesn’t say) about the future of academic journals

This news is a bit old, but the recent announcement by Timothy Gowers on the formation of the journal Discrete Analysis provides an interesting glimpse into what the future of academic publishing might look like. Aside from one key feature, it seems to be a perfectly ordinary academic journal; it will have an ISSN, its articles will have DOIs, it will feature a fairly traditional refereeing process, and already has a (very prestigious) list of editors. The difference? The journal will be an arXiv overlay journal, meaning that all of the journal’s content will be hosted on the popular Open Access pre-print archive

This means that costs for the journal are kept exceptionally low. Gowers predicts that each article will cost the journal about $10 to produce, most of which will go towards the management of the peer review process via Scholastica. The typesetting, copy editing, and hosting, though, will all be out of the journal’s hands, resulting in a very minimalist operation. As Gowers says in the journal’s announcement:

…if you trust authors to do their own typesetting and copy-editing to a satisfactory standard, with the help of suggestions from referees, then the cost of running a mathematics journal can be at least two orders of magnitude lower than the cost incurred by traditional publishers.

Discrete Analysis seeks then to address one of the issues at the core of the Open Access movement: how can OA publishing be made sustainable? No matter what, it has seemed, either authors or libraries are going to have to pay for OA somehow. If Discrete Analysis is successful, it may prove to be a new model for sustainable scholarly publishing, albeit on a smaller scale.

It is important not to get too worked up over this, though. The uniqueness of the scholarly publishing process in mathematics plays into the suitability of this model quite a bit. Content on arXiv is largely formatted using TeX or LaTeX, a markup language designed specifically for (among other things) typesetting mathematics. Many established mathematics journals, in fact, provide authors with TeX/LaTeX templates for article submission. A natural result of this is that pre-prints prepared using this method often look fairly close to published journal articles.

It also feels that researchers in mathematics are less phased by issues that would be fixed by a traditional copyediting process. Their mentality has always seemed to be that, if the logic behind an argument is sound, the reader should be able to fill in the gaps and dissect any leaps of logic that may occur. For these reasons, the model that Discrete Analysis plans to follow is one that may not be suitable for other subject areas. It will be very interesting, though, to keep an eye on this journal and to see if any others pop up based on this model or if any existing journals begin to shift towards this sort of model in the future.

Mar 10 / scholarscooperative

Free Radicals?

As a scientist, is it your responsibility to communicate your science? If you lock up your results, shouldn’t that be considered a failure of communication and therefore unscientific?

Erin McKiernan wrestles with the implications of open access activism publicly on her blog, Last week, McKiernan delivered a standout presentation at the biannual SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition ) Open Access Meeting. Her mandate: a public pledge from a non-tenured researcher to confine her scholarly communication activity to the open access sphere.

McKiernan takes the surprising (some say radical, some say naive) position that publishing in toll-access scholarly journals amounts to an abdication of the scientist’s responsibility to make the results of research available as broadly as possible. She publicly promises not to publish in a toll-access journal, not to serve as an editor or reviewer for a toll-access journal, not to co-author an article that doesn’t end up disseminated open access (a step she hasn’t yet had to take, she admits). She commits to Creative Commons licenses, enabling reuse rights for all her work. In the post linked above, McKiernan eschews including paywalled literature in a systematic review, arguing that her exclusion of 5 toll-access articles is justifiable on grounds compatable with the concerns of science.

McKiernan is bullish on her prospects for tenure. But more affecting in her argument was the appeal to emotion: she clearly detailed the impact of paywalled literature on biomedical researchers at Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health, where she works. The institute subscribes to 150-some journals. Of those, 60 are print-only, taking up one bookshelf. “The subscription fees are simply too expensive… The majority of the research literature is hidden to us.” She closed her presentation with photographs of her research teams, putting a human face on scientists largely shut out of the general debate due to the economic structures of the major scholarly organs.

Although McKiernan’s pledge is radical now, it may not be so in the future. SPARC’s accomplishments this year, including advocacy in DC that resulted in the OSTP Directive, FASTR, and the Omnibus Spending Bill’s open access provisions, could conceivably constitute a tipping point for OA in the States; the scholarly enterprise is inexorably moving toward more and more open dissemination of research. At Wayne State, you have the opportunity to participate in freeing your research for open use by depositing your post-prints in our institutional repository,; by partnering with your liaison librarian to bring the Scholars Cooperative’s educational workshops to your department; or by preferring publication in an open access journal when choosing an outlet for your own research. Don’t prefer the best at the expense of the achievable; small steps advance open scholarship as surely as large ones. Contact to explore your options.

Mar 10 / scholarscooperative

Open Education Week 2014

This week, March 10-15, is the third annual Open Education Week.

Open Education Week is a celebration of the global Open Education Movement. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide.


What is Open Education?

“Open Education is, at its core, about free and open sharing. Free, meaning no cos

t, and open, which refers to the use of legal tools (open licenses) that allow everyone to reuse and modify educational resources.  Free and open sharing increases access to education and knowledge for everyone, everywhere, all the time.  It allows people to make changes to materials or to combine resources to build something new.  Open Education incorporates free and open learning communities, educational networks, teaching and learning materials, open textbooks, open data, open scholarship, open source educational tools and more. Open Education gives people access to knowledge, provides platforms for sharing, enables innovation, and connects communities of learners and educators around the world.

The idea of free and open sharing in education is not new.  In fact, sharing is probably the most basic characteristic of education: education is sharing knowledge, insights and information with others, upon which new knowledge, skills, ideas and understanding can be built.  Open Education seeks to scale up educational opportunities by taking advantage of the power of the internet, allowing rapid and essentially free dissemination, and enabling people around the world to access knowledge, connect and collaborate. Open is key; open allows not just access, but the freedom to modify and use materials, information and networks so education can be personalized to individual users or woven together in new ways for diverse audiences, large and small.” –

 There are a lot of events, including webinars, scheduled throughout the week. Participation in all events and use of all resources are free and open to everyone.

If you’re interested, please visit:



Feb 26 / scholarscooperative

Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act

From SPARC, excerpts from a letter of support for the “Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act” in front of Congress now,

“Every year, the federal government funds over sixty billion dollars in basic and applied research…..This research results in a significant number of articles being published each year – approximately 90,000 papers are published annually as result of NIH funding alone.”

“FASTR would require those agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from such funding no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The bill gives individual agencies flexibility in choosing the location of the digital repository to house this content, as long as the repositories meet conditions for public accessibility and productive reuse of digital articles, and have provisions for interoperability and long-term archiving.”

There is a lot to unpack here from such a minimal introduction, but a couple interesting and central themes behind the FASTR bill emerge.

The federal government spends an incredible amount of money on research.  As much of this money is originates from tax payers, there is growing interest in making the fruits of that research available to the public, in a timely fashion.

This funding produces a significant amount of published material.  The traditional scholarly communications modus operandi has been for the peer-review process and dissemination of publications to take place via scholarly journals.  Problem is, many – if not most – of these journals require subscriptions or charge for articles.  Bills such as FASTR, or the OSTP memo we’ve discussed previously, aim to make more of the funded funded research data and publications freely available online, thereby lowering barriers of access to other researchers around the world.

It’s all got to go somewhere.  Domain specific repositories such as PubMed, BioMed Central, or arXiv have been, and are still, instrumental in making huge amounts of publicly funded research available.  But as these bills peer further into the long tail of publicly funded research, other Open Access and publicly accessible destinations for this content have the potential to play an important role as well.  It would appear that the FASTR bill grants funding agencies, “flexibility in choosing the location of the digital repository to house this content”, should these repositories meet requirements around technical interchangeability and long-term preservation, among others.  One interesting and related requirement in the bill, pointed out in an article from the Scholarly Kitchen,  is to make the deposited data and publications, “in formats and under terms that enable productive reuse, including computational analysis by state-of-the-art technologies.”  While the SK article predicts a mixed reaction from libraries and publishers on this particular, it hints at exciting things afoot in the world of scholarly publishing, where increased attention to interoperability of data might mean new ways to explore and share research.

More Information:

Follow the bill here:

Feb 24 / scholarscooperative

Fair Use Week 2014

February 24-28 is Fair Use Week!

With efforts from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), Harvard University is the “beta” site for the first annual Fair Use Week.

Here is what they have planned:

  • Monday, 2/24: Krista Cox (ARL Director of Public Policy Initiatives) guest blogs
  • Tuesday, 2/25: Kevin Smith (Director of Copyright and Scholarly Communication at Duke) guest blogs
  • Wednesday, 2/26: Kenneth Crews (Director of the Copyright Advisory Office at Columbia) guest blogs
  • Thursday, 2/27: Harvard Law Professor Terry Fisher’s new fair use CopyrightX video will be featured on the blog
  • Friday, 2/28: Fair Use Week Panel at 2:30 in the Lamont Forum Room, featuring Andy Sellers (Harvard’s Berkman Center), Ann Whiteside (Harvard’s Graduate School of Design), Laura Quilter (UMass Amherst), and Ellen Duranceau (MIT)

The blog may be found here:
Twitter hashtag #FairUseWeek

As always, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.
Copyright@Wayne State University Libraries
Scholars Cooperative

Feb 13 / scholarscooperative

The Prestige of Scholarly Websites

In our post last week, Institutional Repository Benchmarks, we mentioned the idea that archiving of research and scholarly output is becoming more normative.  But, according to survey data included in the post, only a small percentage of journal articles are archived in institutional repositories.  So, where are the rest of these articles being archived? We’ve talked about the popularity of sites like ResearchGate and, and considered some issues related to them.  Perhaps part of the answer to the question lies in considering how these sites have become so popular.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Advertising is very important.  It’s also true that when you have some type of corporate sponsorship, it makes advertising (and many other things) that much easier.
  • The use of social media is becoming more prominent in the scholarly realm. People are connecting and reading each other’s work via a number of social media tools.
  • Word-of-mouth; simply put: scholars talk.

All of these considerations work together in some way. For example, advertising for websites like ResearchGate very often works via word-of-mouth, and from significant investments from companies. And let’s not forget social media, which can be considered one of the fastest ways to communicate, promote, and reach a wider audience. These sites are an amalgamation of social media tools, and are capable of “speaking for themselves”; i.e. they become a part of the internet subculture.

It seems as if something has shifted, and sites like ResearchGate have developed a new level of prestige, making them huge competitors for institutional repositories.  But, in what form does the prestige exist? It doesn’t seem to stem from notions of scholarship; rather, it seems to branch from ideas related to promotion, collaboration, and wider readership.  But, as we know from our previous posts, these sites aren’t always quite as great as they’d like us to believe.

Want to know how to submit your work to DC@WSU? Visit us. Check out the Digital Commons Network where you can access free, full-text, scholarly articles from hundreds of institutions of higher education worldwide (including WSU).  While you’re there, be sure to follow your favorite author(s)!

And if there’s something you think institutional repositories are lacking, let’s talk about it…

Feb 3 / scholarscooperative

Institutional Repository Benchmarks

Primary Research Group has published their Institutional Digital Repository Benchmarks report for 2014, surveying data from 35 digital repositories at universities and other research oriented organizations in the USA, Canada, Europe and Latin America.

“The report presents detailed information on… facets of institutional digital repository management and development. The report provides trend data on the inclusion of various types of intellectual property including journal articles, books, classroom video and lectures and other materials.  The study pinpoints how repositories are being used and by whom, defining for repository policy planners growth areas in the type of intellectual property being downloaded by repository end

Of interest to us at the Scholars Cooperative is the finding that a median of 5% of journal articles published by the faculties of the organizations in the sample have been archived in the institutional repositories of those organizations.

Why is this number so low? Archiving of research and scholarly output is becoming more and more normative, especially as funder policies move toward open access as a condition of grantmaking. Until an author signs a copyright transfer agreement with a publisher, he or she is completely within his or her rights to place a copy of the accepted manuscript in an institutional repository like DigitalCommons@WayneState; that version can be preserved locally, and decisions about versioning and access can then be made once the article is published. There must be other factors, cultural and political, that are keeping faculty from depositing work, given the availability and ease of archiving in an institutional repository.

Wayne State’s institutional repository exists to encourage the broad dissemination and permanent preservation of scholarship produced by the Wayne State community. If you’ve considered making your work open access, or even just preserving your scholarly output in a central repository, contact us at regarding DigitalCommons@WayneState and the services that the Scholars Cooperative can provide in scholarly communication management.

Jan 27 / scholarscooperative

Digital Commons Network

As you may know, DigitalCommons@WayneState is our institutional repository.  It serves two purposes:

  1.  To provide a method for open access publication and re-publication for WSU faculty, staff and faculty-vetted research by graduate students
  2.  To collect, organize, disseminate and provide perpetual access to the intellectual output of WSU

What is Open Access? We have blogged about this here. OA maximizes your research’s distribution and visibility, and studies indicate OA articles are viewed more and experience a citation advantage to articles behind a paywall.

We have published more basic information about DC@WSU, including its purpose and benefits of use, last year: “An institutional repository?”

While the content of DC@WSU is comprised of WSU research and scholarly output, the repository’s software was developed by Berkeley Electronic Press, or bepress, which connects our repository to hundreds of other universities and colleges worldwide.

This system is called the Digital Commons Network.

 “The Digital Commons Network provides free access to full-text scholarly articles and other research from hundreds of universities and colleges worldwide. Curated by university librarians and their supporting institutions, this dynamic research tool includes peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, dissertations, working papers, conference proceedings, and other original scholarly work.”

Currently, there are over 869,000 works from over 300 institutions represented in this network. This large collection, as previously mentioned, is freely accessible in full-text.

The Digital Commons Network is organized by a multicolored “Discipline Wheel” that allows you to search for Open Access articles by colleagues at other Digital Commons institutions. You can easily identify institutions with extensive research and prolific authors in specific fields of study. In other words, you can make your scholarship Open Access and be connected to other researchers worldwide in your discipline.


Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.

The Scholars Cooperative


Digital Commons Network

Dec 17 / scholarscooperative

Artifacts of Learning: Open Educational Resources (OER)

“The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.”
– Dick K.P. Yue, Professor, MIT School of Engineering,

A movement has been brewing since the early 2000’s, it is called “Open Educational Resources (OER)”.  The book, Giving Knowledge for Free, has a nice definition,

“The definition of OER currently most often used is “digitised materials  offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and  reuse for teaching, learning and research”. OER includes learning content,  software tools to develop, use and distribute content, and implementation  resources such as open licences[sic]. This report suggests that “open educational  resources” refers to accumulated digital assets that can be adjusted and  which provide benefits without restricting the possibilities for others to  enjoy them.” (1)

Digital content copies well.  An image or Powerpoint presentation on one computer will look identical on another computer, thousands of miles away, a year from now.  While we know that long-term digital preservation is challenging, digital materials nonetheless lend themselves well to being copied, shared, and reused across time, space, and infrastructures.  As educators increasingly utilize digital content in their courses, there has been a recognition across a variety of disciplines and communities that some of this content could be reused.

“The OER movement is often associated with the concept of learning objects (LO), part of  a research and development program aimed at creating an ecosystem (both educational  and economic) for the development of modular media for education (for a review see  Downes, 2001). (2)

OER has diverse roots, one being in “Learning Objects (LO)” as mentioned above.  Broadly speaking, OER and Learning Objects are concerned with reusable, re-mixable, modular content that can be used for teaching purposes.  Think of a detailed series of maps showing the distribution of agricultural crop types in Michigan over time.  An educator might have created this map for a local history course.  Now imagine these highly detailed, painstakingly created maps might be of use to an agricultural science educator in another setting – wouldn’t it be nice if these maps were available, free of copyright or logistical hurdles in reusing them?  Such is the goal of Open Educational Resources.

Two considerable and constant challenges the OER movement faces are copyright and technical infrastructure.  The use of copyrighted materials by an educator in classroom settings is complicated enough as it is, but when copyrighted materials are embedded in objects that might otherwise be perfect candidates for OER, concerns around copyright increase.  Time must be taken to analyze materials, remove copyrighted materials that cannot be distributed, or better yet, ascribe attribution if that is the only barrier to distribution.  Technical infrastructure, while not always as nebulous or intimidating as copyright, nevertheless still pose challenges.  Literature around OER points out that if a central tenant of OER is sharing, finding, and re-mixing teaching objects, the technical infrastructure must be there to facilitate the process or there is very little hope of adoption.  Hopefully we will see OER standards emerge, shared metadata schemas and file types that might increase interoperability across institutions and infrastructures.

All that said, copyright and digital objects infrastructure just happen to be two areas that libraries and Institutional Repositories (such as our very own DigitalCommons@WayneState) are investigating and addressing  everyday.  Libraries, and their parent Universities, have been instrumental in ushering the OER movement from concept to reality.  A survey from 2007, “identified over 3,000 open courseware courses available from over 300 universities worldwide.” (1)  While OER is, “not synonymous with online learning, eLearning or mobile learning,” (2) it has been growing steadily alongside other rapidly growing areas in education such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).  Literature around OER suggests it is more than a trend, and something that libraries and universities cannot afford to ignore.

OER is a natural common ground between the creation of educational resources, something that university professors do everyday, and providing open, enduring access to information resources, a core tenant of the library.  We look forward to the opportunities that await as we continue to look into the growing world of Open Educational Resources.

OER in the wild:

“ Top 50 University Open Courseware Collections”:
“Open Courseware Consortium (OCC)”:
MIT Open Courseware:
Open Michigan:
Grand Valley State – Open Education Materials:


1) OECD (2007), Giving Knowledge for Free: The Emergence of Open Educational Resources, OECD Publishing. doi: 10.1787/9789264032125-en

2) Amiel T. Identifying Barriers to the Remix of Translated Open Educational Resources. International Review Of Research In Open And Distance Learning [serial online]. March 1, 2013;14(1):126-144. Available from: ERIC, Ipswich, MA. Accessed December 12, 2013.

3) Downes S. Learning objects: Resources for distance education worldwide. International Review Of Research In Open And Distance Learning [serial online]. July 1, 2001;2(1):66-93. Available at:</>