In early November, we posted on the formation of the journal Discrete Analysis, an Open Access mathematics journal that planned to leverage arXiv.org, a widely-used repository for pre-prints in the sciences, in order to operate on a very small budget. Another arXiv overlay journal, as Discrete Analysis has been called, has been announced; the Open Journal (originally the Open Journal in Astrophysics) plans to begin publishing content in the field of Astrophysics early in this year. Though the two journals will utilize different peer review process, the Open Journal and Discrete Analysis seem to be operating on near-identical publishing models.
Authors interested in submitting to the Open Journal will upload their articles to the astro-ph section of arXiv.org (as many already do) and then submit the article to the journal through its website, which utilizes ORCID in order to assign articles to an editor. The peer review process ensues and, upon its completion, the article is assigned a DOI and the article is collected into the journal via a link to its location on the arXiv. Just as with Discrete Analysis, the Open Journal plans to reject articles that require extensive rewriting or copyediting in order to keep costs down and encourage authors to perform these duties on their own.
A second journal was also announced with a more unique publishing and peer review model. Also an Open Access publication, ReScience is a Computational Science journal that operates almost entirely on GitHub.com. This is a bit surprising as GitHub is most commonly known as a site for sharing and collaborating on open source software and code. The journal is focused specifically on the reproduction and replicability of research, and leverages GitHub’s existing commenting system for its peer review process. In fact, the entire publishing process lives on GitHub, in which each article is submitted as a “pull request”. This is essentially a request to add a piece of code to the larger project which is, in this case, the journal as a whole. The editors will assign reviewers to test that piece of code and, after that peer review process, it will be added to the journal as an article.
As with Discrete Analysis, these two journals represent innovations that take advantage of existing practices or qualities of particular subject areas. The arXiv was originally developed as a repository for physics research, and so is just as widely used in that subject area as it is in mathematics. This allows the Open Journal to take advantage of the fact that many researchers in physics are using TeX/LaTeX to produce pre-prints that look as good or nearly as good as professionally published journal articles. Similarly, GitHub would not be an appropriate publishing platform for research in most subject areas. ReScience, though, publishes in an area for which its practitioners recognize code as a valuable scholarly output.
Though both of these models may not be widely applicable, they also give clues as to how innovation can take place in the realm of scholarly publishing. By matching extant aspects of the publishing process with extant online services, these publications have found a way to produce high-quality, peer-review, open scholarly content.
Last week we posted on the inherent differences between open access repositories, such as DigitalCommons@WayneState, and scholarly-minded social media sites such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu. This issue seems to be on the mind of many recently; G. Geltner, Professor of Medieval History at the Universiteit van Amsterdam and editorial board member for the Open Library of the Humanities, posted recently about his decision to leave Academia.edu. He cited a wide range of concerns, chief among them the growing number of metrics on the site and his impression that the service is moving towards a model that will ask users to pay for more and more services.
The post in its entirety can be read here: http://mittelalter.hypotheses.org/7123
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.
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 arXiv.org.
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.
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? http://emckiernan.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/activism-or-science-a-debate-on-open-access/
Erin McKiernan wrestles with the implications of open access activism publicly on her blog, http://emckiernan.wordpress.com. 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, digitalcommons.wayne.edu; 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to explore your options.
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.” – http://www.openeducationweek.org/about-oew2014/what-is-open-education/
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: http://www.openeducationweek.org/
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.
Follow the bill here:
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)
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 Academia.edu, 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…