Open@VT

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Tag Archives: Perceptions

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:

Reader vs. Author

It’s striking to consider the dissonance between faculty as readers and faculty as authors described in a recent article by Rachel Bruce and David Prosser, Keeping research in step with policy. While the article’s context is the UK, where the most animated open access discussions are currently taking place, there are few differences from our situation in the US.

The article says a recent survey of UK academics found that, as authors, there was little interest in free web accessibility, yet

… the survey showed that, when researchers are themselves in the position of a reader, there is a strong desire for openly-available resources on the web.

When I hit a paywall, I do a search and feel grateful when an author has taken the trouble to archive an article that I need in a repository like VTechWorks. So I archive when I publish an article.

One US difference that the authors note is our use of interlibrary loan. While I use this service occasionally, I would much rather find an article myself on the web. ILL is more time-consuming and the article still costs money- it’s just that I’m not paying for it. But personally, I find a $50 charge for an article objectionable whether I’m paying for it or the university is. Those barriers of time and money disappear for readers when we archive our work.

The authors conclude that this reader/author dissonance can be overcome with time and explicit incentives. Traditional measures such as the impact factor will be replaced with altmetrics, making the advantages of openness clear. Universities can put more emphasis on open dissemination when they evaluate faculty.

This is partly a matter of reciprocity — we benefit from the open availability of articles on the web, so let’s ensure that our articles are openly available for others. But it’s also a matter of self-interest, since we benefit in the form of views, downloads, and citations. When we publish, let’s remember that we are readers as well, and no one has access to everything.

Worth Reading

Several interesting items have appeared in the last few days:

This reflection on publishing in PLoS ONE is fascinating (read the comments too). PLoS ONE has lots of appeal (open access, fast turnaround time, good impact factor), but younger researchers can’t get past the perceptions of older colleagues.

The mass resignation of the editorial board of the Journal of Library Administration due to the publishing terms of Taylor & Francis is covered by Brian Mathews, Jason Griffey, and Chris Bourg. I think this is a positive move, but fear that JLA will simply replace the board and go on publishing as usual. Some have encouraged the editorial board to form its own OA journal, just as these boards that resigned did.

Of particular interest to Virginians, Waldo Jaquith used Kickstarter to fund a successful bounty for video speech transcription. The code will be put to use on Richmond Sunlight, a project of Open Virginia.

And here at Virginia Tech, the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship is offering a journal publishing service– here’s how the editorial process works.