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Apr 28 / scholarscooperative

New article on eating insects by Dr. Ferreira

A new article on entomophagy (i.e., eating insects) in North America was recently published by Dr. Maria Pontes Ferreira (Department of Food and Nutrition Science) and colleagues in the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed published by Wageningen Academic Publishers. This review article describes the history of entomophagy as practiced by native North Americans and early American colonists, detailing the species of insects that were mostly commonly consumed and their methods of preparation. Given the growing interest in re-introducing insects into the modern North American diet, this article helps pave the way for future studies on the nutritional value of insect-based foods. The article can be read for free here.

The Wayne State University Library System is pleased to have supported the open access publication of this article through the 2016 Open Access Fund, which underwrites publication charges for materials published in fee-based, peer-reviewed venues that are openly accessible.

Mar 15 / scholarscooperative

Sci-Hub vs. Open Access

If you’ve been following the news in the world of scholarly publishing lately, you’ve probably heard quite a bit about the website Sci-Hub. In brief, Sci-Hub was founded by Kazakhstani researcher Alexandra Elbakyan with the mission of circumventing copyright in order to provide free access to articles appearing in scholarly journals. Despite the fact that Elbakyan has been operating the site since September of 2011 (well over 4 years), it is only recently that we have seen widespread coverage of the site. Buzz has grown to such a point in fact, that a recent Op-Ed piece published in the New York Times has compared Elbakyan to Edward Snowden.

Considering that this NYT piece, titled Should All Research Papers be Free?, is the only exposure that much of the non-academia world will have to this situation, it is a shame then that the author draws so direct a line between Sci-Hub and the open access (OA) movement. Even more so, it is unfortunate that some OA activists have seemed to come out in unreserved support for Elbakyan and her mission, a fact which outlets such as Scholarly Kitchen were quick to point out. It is unfortunate because, according to Peter Suber (as quoted in the NYT article), “Unlawful access gives open access a bad name.”

Suber is director of the office of scholarly communication at Harvard, and is one of the OA movement’s pioneers. In a follow-up piece posted to his Google+ page, Suber expanded on his comments cautioning OA activists from getting too excited in their support of Elbakyan and Sci-Hub:

Giving support to the false impression that OA requires infringement misleads people about these facts, especially newcomers not familiar with the many kinds of lawful OA. Moreover, it gives anti-OA publishers a propaganda gift. […] The risk of unlawful OA services is that they could trigger a new wave of false assumptions about (1) the lawfulness of OA, (2) the wide range of lawful options for researchers to make their work OA, and (3) the importance of persuading researchers to make one of those lawful choices.

His post and the ensuing comments present an excellent case as to why OA activists should not be backing Sci-Hub, and of the dangers of linking the OA movement with Elbakyan’s activities.

Jan 6 / scholarscooperative

The Open Journal and ReScience: Two interesting scholarly publishing models

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.

Dec 8 / scholarscooperative

A Bit More on Academia.edu

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

Dec 4 / scholarscooperative

Social Networking Sites vs. Open Access Repositories

The University of California’s Office of Scholarly Communication recently posted on the difference between social networking sites, such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu, and open access repositories. The UC post can be found in its entirety here, but the issues being raised about sites like ResearchGate and Academia.edu are important ones and will be summarized below.

As a preliminary note, DigitalCommons@WayneState, our institutional repository, serves a slightly different purpose than the institutional repository at UC. The Academic Senate at UC adopted an Open Access policy in 2013 and their institutional repository is positioned in such a way as to support faculty in complying with this policy. Wayne State has no such policy, and so the portions of the UC post discussing that Open Access policy are not necessarily universally applicable.

ResearchGate and Academia.edu are both social networking sites aimed at researchers. They allow users to connect with others that have similar interests, and to share copies of their work with other users. Both services are often (and aptly) compared to Facebook or LinkedIn. Open access repositories, on the other hand, are solely focused on making scholarship freely and widely available and preserving that scholarship in the long-term. This (amended) table from the UC’s post is helpful:

A chart comparing Academia.edu, ResearchGate, and open access repositories

In short, the adage “if something is free, you are the product” is just as true of Academia.edu and ResearchGate as it is of social networking sites like Facebook. ResearchGate makes its money off of targeted advertisements, and Academia.edu had toyed with the idea of selling data about research trends to R&D companies.

A main selling point of open access repositories is that they are invested in the long-term preservation of scholarship and in ensuring its accessibility. Submitting a manuscript to DigitalCommons@WayneState ensures that, so long as the institution remains in existence (and possibly even if it does not), that work will be safeguarded and will be accessible. The same cannot be said of Academia.edu and ResearchGate, both of which reserve the right to discontinue services at any time and without warning.

This post should not be read as an argument to stop using Academia.edu or ResearchGate, however. Both are useful in their own way, and can help to foster connections between researchers with shared interests. It is essential, though, that those who use these services understand what their limitations are, along with the hazards of their use. More importantly, it should be kept in mind that the Wayne State Library System offers faculty the opportunity to broaden access to their publications without the added concerns inherent in commercial social networking sites. We encourage anyone who is not already using DigitalCommons@WayneState to investigate the services we offer through it and, hopefully, to take advantage.

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 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.

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? 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 scholarscooperative@wayne.edu 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.

289x92-oew-web-banner

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/

 

 

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.”
http://www.sparc.arl.org/advocacy/national/fastr

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:
http://www.ala.org/advocacy/access/legislation/fastr
http://www.sparc.arl.org/advocacy/national/fastr
http://www.sparc.arl.org/letter-congress-higher-education-community-supports-FASTR
http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/hoap/Notes_on_the_Fair_Access_to_Science_and_Technology_Research_Act
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Access_to_Science_and_Technology_Research_Act
http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/02/oa/fastr-aims-to-speed-open-access-to-government-funded-research/

Follow the bill here: 
http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/708?q=hr708