Open Access, Open Data, and Open Educational Resources

Category Archives: University Libraries at Virginia Tech

OA Week Event: Faculty and Graduate Student Panels

There were some excellent discussions last night during our Open Access Week faculty and graduate student panels. Our faculty panelists were Dr. Zachary Dresser (Religion and Culture), Dr. Deborah Good (Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise), and Dr. Joseph S. Merola (Chemistry).

Faculty Panel (from left, Zach Dresser, Debby Good, Joe Merola)

Faculty Panel (from left, Zach Dresser, Debby Good, Joe Merola)

Both Dr. Good and Dr. Merola have had positive and negative experiences with open access journals. Dr. Good has had positive interactions with PLoS One as an author and peer reviewer, but criticized some hybrid open access journals for asking whether she wanted to take the open option before the paper had been peer reviewed, which could lead to a real or perceived bias due to the fee involved. She has also been asked to become editor of a journal on Beall’s list of predatory journals.

Dr. Merola serves on the editorial board of an open access journal and has had good experiences with open access in general. But he has submitted to another open access journal that would not withdraw a paper or remove him from its editorial board. Dr. Merola also noted that hybrid journals are unlikely to reduce subscription prices with open access takeup. Both Dr. Merola and Dr. Good noted that abstracting and indexing can be a problem with open access journals.

Dr. Dresser primarily writes in the field of history, and noted that humanities journals have shown little movement toward open access. The monograph is the gold standard in these fields, and he referred to the AHA controversy that was the subject of Monday’s ETD Panel. Dr. Good asked why ETDs (electronic theses and dissertations) could not be broken into separate articles as happens in the sciences. Dr. Dresser responded that though it happens on occasion, history is a very traditional field that places value on a story or narrative as a whole (thus the focus on monographs). Interestingly, Dr. Dresser is participating in an open textbook effort in American history.

Our graduate student panelists were Stefanie Georgakis (Ph.D. candidate in Public and International Affairs), Jennifer Lawrence (Ph.D. candidate, ASPECT), and Joshua Nicholson (Ph.D. candidate in Biological Sciences). Stefanie and Jennifer are co-editors of the Public Knowledge Journal, an interdisciplinary open access journal for publishing work by graduate students (at any university). Josh Nicholson is co-founder of The Winnower, an open access journal in the sciences that will be starting in 2014.

Graduate Student Panel (from left, Stefanie Georgakis, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Nicholson)

Graduate Student Panel (from left, Stefanie Georgakis, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Nicholson)

Stefanie and Jennifer are struggling with the sustainability of PKJ, though not in the way you might think. While the journal is hosted on campus, the challenge is finding editors, peer reviewers, and submissions from a constantly changing population. PKJ is seeking a formal partnership to ensure its sustainability. Stefanie and Jennifer are also hoping to increase readership and provide for the preservation of journal content. They felt that alternative perspectives are suited for open access, and enabling open discussion of articles on the journal site can combat the inward-looking culture of some traditional journals. PKJ can help graduate students become familiar with the publishing environment, a need also identified by Dr. Good earlier in the evening.

Josh is critical of traditional publishing, and especially of peer review. The Winnower will serve the sciences as a low-cost ($100 article processing charge) open access journal that will also employ open peer review (he noted that the NIH’s PubMedCentral has just begun post-publication review). Articles under review could be revised as a result of review for the first 3 months, then assignment of a DOI would signify publication, though further reviews could be added.

Attracting reviewers could be a problem, and he is open to using a centralized service such as PubPeer. Reviews would be structured, avoiding a problem Stefanie and others brought up of short, insubstantial reviews. Reviewers themselves would be rated (similar to Amazon), with top reviewers perhaps receiving credit toward article publication. While there has been some concern about the potential for racism or sexism in an open environment, the session attendees seemed to agree that transparency was the best option, particularly in fields with single-blind peer review where bias could occur but not be revealed.

I asked whether The Winnower would try to become a member of OASPA (Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association), but Josh replied that the journal’s model would not fit their guidelines (such as having an editorial board) or PubMed’s listing criteria, echoing the abstracting and indexing concern mentioned by Dr. Good and Dr. Merola earlier.

Thanks again to all of our panelists for a great discussion, and to the event organizers, Kiri Goldbeck DeBose and Purdom Lindblad.

Thanks to the University Libraries’ Event Capture Service for the videos. [Edit 2/28/14]

Faculty Panel:

[Edit 5/23/14]:

Graduate Student Panel:

OA Week Event: A Panel on ETDs and Open Access

Our first event of Open Access Week 2013 provided plenty of interesting discussion yesterday. “ETDs and Open Access” (ETDs are electronic theses and dissertations) was led by Gail McMillan (Director, Center for Digital Research and Scholarship Services, University Libraries), Jordan Hill (ASPECT Ph.D. candidate), and Karen DePauw (Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education).

ETDs and Open Access

ETDs and Open Access (from left, Gail McMillan, Jordan Hill, Karen DePauw)

Gail McMillan began the session with her ETD survey data presentation. One survey queried universities about their ETD policies, and the other surveyed publishers on their willingness to consider revised work based on an openly available dissertation or thesis. About 95% of U.S. institutions have embargoed some ETDs. An interesting finding from the publisher survey was that on the whole, publishers in the humanities and social sciences are actually more willing to consider revised work based on an openly available ETD than science publishers.

Jordan Hill gave a brief overview of his own research (an oral history of memorials for mass murders) and the American Historical Association’s statement on ETD embargoes. Given the unique (and less-revisable) nature of his research, he is understandably concerned that its open availability could affect the chances of publication as a book, and therefore his job/tenure prospects. Rather than the 6-year embargo in the AHA statement, Jordan suggested the possibility of a 3 or 4 year embargo.

Karen DePauw gave an overview of ETDs at Virginia Tech. The university was the first to require them in 1997, prior to her arrival. A one-year embargo is available to students with renewal possible by request. One exception is a 5-year embargo for those in a Master of Fine Arts program (for creative work such as poetry and stories that would not normally be revised for publication). For those doing classified research, the graduate school requires that the research be publicly defended and some part of the research be made available.

These brief presentations by the panelists were followed by an open discussion. I was interested in knowing if any details beyond “case by case” publisher considerations were available (it primarily means a judgement of quality) and the distinction between “published” and “unpublished” (it signifies editorial review). The discussion was pretty wide-ranging, but to me the heart of it is that many early career academics like Jordan support open access but but recognize that it is not rewarded in the criteria for hiring, tenure, and promotion. It is not surprising that despite their approval of openness, they must be conservative and pragmatic in their approach because academic evaluation is not changing as fast as scholarly publishing.

Academic success in the humanities and social sciences is currently dependent on monograph publishing (another criticism of the AHA statement), which is in turn dependent on publishers who evaluate manuscripts based on how many books they think will sell. In particular, publishing an academic monograph is dependent on university presses, who in turn are (mostly) dependent on academic libraries to buy books. But libraries are buying fewer books due to the serials crisis (primarily in STEM fields), which puts stress on university presses, who in turn are less receptive to manuscripts from early career academics. In my view, universities and their libraries need to devote more resources to publishing monographs (such as using Open Monograph Press and implementing an external review process) so that academic work can be evaluated on its quality rather than its saleability. In addition, there’s no reason why this can’t work on the freemium model, with the full text available online but print versions for sale, with royalties going back to the author.

A big thank you is due to Jordan, Karen, and Gail for this thought-provoking session.

Thanks to the University Libraries’ Event Capture Service for the video below [Edit 2/28/14].

Later in the day, Gail and I presented Introduction to Open Access and Copyright. Lots of links inside that presentation for those who want to do some exploration. Interestingly, a graduate student raised similar concerns as Jordan Hill earlier in the day: young scholars are faced with a dilemma between open access and prestige. I pointed out that it’s not always an either-or choice since there are increasingly prestigious open access journals, and self-archiving is a valid option that is often overlooked. But when it comes to getting or keeping a job, it’s hard to fault young academics for publishing behind a paywall when promotion and tenure guidelines reward it.

OA Week Updates

Open Access Week is here, and we have a full schedule of events. Today at 11:00 a.m. we have an ETD and Open Access Panel (Torgersen 3080) and at 4:00 p.m. Gail McMillan and I will give an Introduction to Open Access and Copyright (Torgersen 3080).

There are some last-minute updates and additions to our schedule. The webinar with Peter Suber originally scheduled for Wednesday at 2 p.m. has been cancelled. We’ve decided to offer another webinar on Wednesday at 11 a.m., Open Access in Engineering (Library Boardroom, 6th floor).

We’ve been a little late getting the Faculty and Grad Student Panels information out. Our faculty panelists will be Dr. Debby Good (HNFE), Dr. Zach Dresser (Religion & Culture), and Dr. Joe Merola (Chemistry). Our graduate student panelists will be Stefanie Georgakis and Jennifer Lawrence (co-editors of the Public Knowledge Journal) and Joshua Nicholson (co-founder of The Winnower). This was a great session last year and I’m sure it will be again. Please join us Wednesday evening at 5:30 in Torgersen Museum (1100).

We also want to spread the word about an event Friday at 2:30 p.m., “Digital Muscle: Alt-Metrics and Open Access” that will be held in the SCALE-UP classroom (Library 1st floor). This event is part of the Digital Discussions in the Humanities and Social Sciences series, sponsored by the Center for Applied Technologies in the Humanities and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Throughout the week I’ll attempt to blog some summaries of the events, hopefully with some photographs.

What Do Journals Cost at Virginia Tech?

It’s a simple question with a not so simple answer, and I’ll probably need a follow-up post to cover all the complexities. Publishers do their best to obfuscate prices through journal bundling (making it difficult to determine the price of a specific journal and also making it difficult to cancel specific journals) and through the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). These practices further warp what is a badly dysfunctional “market” in which publishers have profit margins comparable to Google or Apple (30%+), all by taking free content from faculty members and selling it back to us.

The annual costs below are list price, not actual price. Through what seems to be a combination of NDAs preventing price sharing, and lack of a good internal price querying method, I’m not able to provide the actual (i.e. “negotiated”) amount that Virginia Tech is paying for these journals. So this list doesn’t include all journals Virginia Tech subscribes to (I’m told one or more of the AIP journals might make this top ten list) or accurate prices (either because we can’t tell you or can’t get them out of our system).

With all those caveats in mind, here are the ten most expensive journals that Virginia Tech subscribes to:

Journal Publisher Cost
Journal of Comparative Neurology Wiley-Blackwell $30,860
Journal of Applied Polymer Science Wiley-Blackwell $26,714
Brain Research Elsevier $24,038
Molecular Crystals & Liquid Crystals Taylor & Francis $21,104
Journal of Polymer Science Wiley-Blackwell $21,000
Tetrahedron Elsevier $20,773
Electronics and communications in Japan Wiley-Blackwell $20,712
Ferroelectrics Taylor & Francis $19,683
Journal of Chromatography A Elsevier $18,688
Chemical Physics Letters Elsevier $17,257

A Preview of Open Access Week

Open Access Week is coming up October 21-25, and Virginia Tech has a full schedule of events. This will be our second observance of the international event.

We are especially excited about the keynote address by John Willinsky, author of The Access Principle (2006) and director of the Public Knowledge Project, creator of open source software for scholarly publishing.

Other highlights are the faculty and graduate student panels (great discussions last year; this year’s participants still in the works) and our most recent addition, a panel on ETDs and open access, where the AHA controversy is sure to take center stage.

I’ll be posting more about the week as it approaches, but just wanted to get a quick notice out. I am co-chair of the event and one of the website editors, so please leave a comment or contact me directly if you have suggestions for the event or the information that we provide online. Hope to see you at as many events as possible!

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