Open@VT

Open Access, Open Data, and Open Educational Resources

Category Archives: Worth Reading

Worth Reading: Elsevier Costs, Funding OA, Peer Review Platforms, A Publishing Story

Last week Tim Gowers wrote an extensive post on the cost of Elsevier journals that begins to create some transparency in this market. Much of the data so far is from UK universities, but cost data from U.S. universities (including other publishers) should be available soon from Ted Bergstrom’s Big Deal Contract Project.

Providing adequate funding for open access platforms and innovations is becoming an increasingly hot topic, and two excellent posts with different perspectives have recently appeared. Stuart Shieber’s Public Underwriting of Research and Open Access offers a convincing case for open access to research that reminded me of John Willinsky’s keynote address during Virginia Tech’s Open Access Week. Counting up the ways that research is subsidized results in a truly stunning number, and Shieber makes a solid argument for public funding. Cameron Neylon, on the other hand, notes that much of the innovation in scholarly communication comes from the for-profit sector, yet non-profit status is needed to to retain control and prevent diverging interests. So how should we go about funding innovation in scholarly communication? Perhaps OA projects could benefit from socially responsible investing?

One innovation in need of funding is open peer review platforms like LIBRE, which just announced that it is in beta testing. While I like the diversity of opinion that open review makes possible, I think there still may be a role for anonymity, and I’m also skeptical of the invite-your-own-reviewers model. Although it has been around for a while, I only recently discovered a community-edited Google document of standalone peer review platforms, and was surprised by how many there are. I think it would be great if one day I could upload a paper to VTechWorks, have it openly reviewed, and then submit it in my tenure and promotion dossier as a peer-reviewed paper. Then evaluation would have to focus on article quality rather than journal prestige or impact factor.

So few accounts of the publishing process appear that one in my own field of library and information science is definitely worth mention. Catherine Pellegrino’s Walking the walk may be trickier than it first appears: An open access publishing story relates her assessment of publishing venues while feeling the stress of needing to publish. This OA-conscious assessment, and her negotiation to retain copyright, serves as a worthy model for librarians (and non-librarians).

Worth Reading: The Winnower, Ecology Journals, SHARE, and “Importance”

The Winnower, an upcoming open access journal created by Virginia Tech Ph.D. student Joshua Nicholson, now has a blog. Check out the first post, Science Publishing is Systematically Broken and It’s Time to Fix It. Also, stay tuned for an interview with Josh that I’ll be posting in the coming weeks.

Brian McGill has a fantastic (but long) post on journals in ecology, Follow the Money- What Really Matters When Choosing a Journal (be sure to click through to the Google spreadsheet he’s put together). It’s a pretty comprehensive treatment of the topic, and the comments are worth reading too. TL;DR choose a non-profit journal!

Tyler Walters, dean of the University Libraries, will be co-chairing an effort to incorporate repositories into federal open access mandates. The library effort, known as SHARE, offers a low-cost solution that puts the public interest first. Conversely, the publisher’s effort, CHORUS, offers further enclosure that ensures that the profits continue. Tough choice, huh?

The Golden Goose Awards (PDF) have gotten some popular press, and it points out yet another aspect of scholarly communication that’s broken- judging the importance of research. The awards are an admirable project, making it clear that research sometimes mocked by the public can have profound impact. While the public isn’t good at judging the importance of research at the time it’s published, expert reviewers aren’t that great at it either. The focus on “importance” leads to the prestige journals, called “glam mags” by some, or just “CNS” for Cell, Nature, and Science. The glam mags lead to exorbitant costs, and pressures on tenure track faculty to publish in them. Yet the glam mags have little evidence of quality, and higher retraction rates. Let’s quit the addiction to assigning “importance” to research articles, and let citations, open peer review, and altmetrics sort things out.

Worth Reading: Open Access (the book), Interviews, Oregon State policy, and the Meaning of Open

Open Access Peter Suber’s essential book Open Access is now, well, open access, one year after publication. It’s available in a variety of digital formats (scroll down to view), including HTML, PDF, ePUB, and Mobi. I also recommend the Internet Archive’s excellent streaming version, which I was unaware of until recently. Suber is also providing updates and supplements to the book. If you read only one book about open access, let it be this one!

Richard Poynder offers two new interviews on the current state of open access with Mike Taylor and Stevan Harnad. I tend to follow Taylor more than Harnad, and particularly like the former’s interview references to dispensing with journal prestige and the cost savings that will come with OA. I’m skeptical that Harnad’s vision of universal green (archived) OA will come to pass, though I think article archiving is an immensely valuable stopgap effort until more OA journals are up and running.

osu-tag Congratulations to Oregon State University for adopting an open access policy. The Faculty Senate did so unanimously. OSU has been one of the leaders among public universities on open access- the Faculty Senate endorsed OA a few years ago, they had the first library faculty OA policy, and their repository already hosts 58% of faculty papers. Let’s hope Virginia Tech won’t be too far behind.

Abuse of the term “open” is the subject of the most recent post from John Wilbanks:

So let’s get this clear. Just because you’re making something available that wasn’t previously available doesn’t qualify as open. Just because you’re reducing the transaction costs of access to something doesn’t qualify as open. Just because you’re involving more people than before doesn’t qualify as open.

Since there seems to be so much confusion about what “open” means (or intentional misuse for PR purposes), advocates of openness can provide a more precise meaning by calling out uses that don’t follow the Open Definition:

A piece of data or content is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike.

Worth Reading: Easy Steps, Hybrid OA, Elsevier, Jack Andraka

Ross Mounce puts almost everything you need to know in one place with his post Easy Steps Towards Open Scholarship.

I’ve thought from the start that paying to have a single article open access in an otherwise paywalled subscription journal was a bad idea, and the many problems of hybrid open access are detailed nicely by Mike Taylor.

Timothy Gowers- who began the petition against Elsevier called The Cost of Knowledge – posts the resignation of an Elsevier editorial board member. In short, nothing has changed at Elsevier, except that they are now paying editors.

In the “worth viewing” category, the Right to Research Coalition, a student group advocating open access, posts a video conversation between Jack Andraka, 16-year old cancer researcher, and Francis Collins, head of the NIH.

Worth Reading: Decision Trees, Copyright and ETDs, Open Virginia, and iCalendar

I haven’t been following open access developments in the UK, but apparently publishers are weakening the proposed policy there. I haven’t seen their decision tree, but Mike Taylor proposes one that should work globally. While authors are more likely to follow the publisher’s guidelines on archiving (if that), Taylor does have a point about manuscript ownership. Most authors won’t be so assertive, though I don’t know of any cases of publishers asking for the material to be taken down.

Graduate students apparently don’t know much about copyright for their ETDs, and part of the cause may be bad information from their universities, according to the latest post on Free US ETDs. An upcoming Part 2 will offer guidance on providing better copyright information for ETDs.

Virginia Tech alumnus Waldo Jaquith posts on the launch of the Open Virginia data repository, bringing various datasets together in one place. The data repository uses CKAN, an open data solution from the Open Knowledge Foundation that, you guessed it, is also open source.

Many of you will remember Microsoft’s Jon Udell from his visit to Virginia Tech a couple of years ago as Distinguished Innovator in Residence. He’s now working with communities in the Hampton Roads area on a community calendar, which will use iCalendar, an open standard. It’ll be interesting to see the results.