Are Scientists Selfish?

In a recent article in Techonomy “Are Scientists Selfish?” (republished in Forbes) Meredith Salisbury considers why many scientists are reluctant to publish their scholarly articles in open access journals. She denies that they are selfish asserting that the situation is complicated. Rather, she blames “[t]he institutional inertia of the established scientific community [that] strongly favors researchers who go along with the data-hoarding norms.” Salisbury paints a convincing picture of the stereotypical scientist whose work is locked into a publish/get funding/publish again cycle that lasts throughout his/her career. This work cycle simply does not reward scientists who publish in OA journals. Salisbury proffers a couple of potential solutions:

What’s really needed is system-wide change. Some funding agencies have begun to require grant winners to ensure their publications become publicly accessible after a certain period of time, but those requirements need to be strengthened and should take effect immediately upon publication rather than six months or a year later. More importantly, the science community needs a better way to evaluate journals—one that doesn’t put such a premium on history—so that open-access publications and outlets with more open-minded approaches to data sharing are finally on an even playing field with traditional journals.

DOE plan for OA disappoints


The Department of Energy has been the first Federal agency to respond publicly to the White House OSTP requirement that agencies develop plans for open access to articles resulting from federally funded research. Unfortunately the plan is not as robust as open access advocates would like; it does not specify reuse rights needed for maximum downstream uses of content.

This post from the Nature newsblog summarizes the issues.

Michael Eisen finds it “completely unacceptable”.

Siegfried Sassoon’s War Diaries Published Online

"The Soul of an Officer"

From today, almost 100 years since Britain declared war on Germany, the First World War diaries of the poet, writer and soldier Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1867) are freely available online. Cambridge University Library, holder of the world’s richest assemblage of Sassoon’s manuscripts and archival papers, has digitized 23 of his journals and two of his wartime poetry notebooks.

The digitisations make available online for the first time 23 of Sassoon’s journals from the years 1915-27 and 1931-32, as well as two poetry notebooks from 1916-18 containing rough drafts and fair copies of some of his best-known war poems. Sassoon wrote in a small and legible hand, frequently using his notebooks from both ends. The images of them are both powerful and evocative, showing mud from the trenches and spilled wax, presumably as he sat writing in his dug-out by candlelight.

Access to the Sassoon Journals at Cambridge Digital Library.

P.S. Burns Library has an original manuscript of Sassoon entitled AN UNWRITTEN ESSAY ON SATIRE, as well as letters to Katherine Kendall.


Harvard’s DASH: Scholarly Access to All

This week the Harvard Gazette published Scholarly Access to All, an update and overview of DASH, Harvard’s digital repository, the free and open repository for peer-reviewed literature written by Harvard faculty. There are now over 20,000 articles, dissertations etc. deposited in DASH (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard) and since the repository’s beginning in 2009 its contents have been downloaded more than 3.4 million times. Peter Suber, director of the Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication, is quoted as stating “We’re sharing Harvard research with everybody with an Internet connection not just with the people lucky enough to be affiliated with libraries rich enough to subscribe to the journals in which those authors publish.” Suber, the author of “Open Access” (MIT Press, 2012), continued: “Open access removes the barriers between authors and readers. It connects authors and readers in a way that conventional publishing cannot. . . . We tear down the toll booth. We make it easier for authors to find readers. We make it easier for readers to find authors.”

Important James Joyce Collection Digitized

joyceThe National Library of Ireland has digitized and made freely available the important James Joyce collection owned by the Zurich James Joyce Foundation. This significant collection, the Hans E. Jahnke Bequest, is valuable for revealing a more personal aspect of Joyce. The collection includes “[l]etters of a personal nature to Joyce’s son Giorgio, daughter-in-law Helen, and Georgio and Helen concerning everyday matters such as health and weather, offers from publishers as well as Lucia Joyce and her illness. Joyce’s marriage to Nora Barnacle in London and the Frankfurter Zeitung affair are also addressed. There are also some letters to Joyce’s grandson, Stephen, and to the Joyce family in general. Papers on Joyce’s work consist of notes and galley proofs from Finnegans Wake and one sheet from a fair copy of the Circe episode from Ulysses, fair copies of poems from Pomes Penyeach as well as other autographs and typescripts.”

An Ecumenical Community of Students: Yale Divinity School Exhibit

yaledivinityYale Divinity Library currently has a very interesting exhibit that traces the history of ecumenical student Christian movements, An Ecumenical Community of Students: Archival Documentation of Worldwide Student Christian Movements. The Divinity Library has extensive archival holdings in this area in addition to support agencies and leaders of related national and international movements.


DPLA wins award to simplify rights structure


The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) announced today that it has received $300,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of its Knight News Challenge, an open contest seeking ideas that strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation. Selected from more than 650 applicants, DPLA’s “Getting it Right on Rights” project will create a simplified and more coherent rights structure for digital items, making access to, and use of, items found in large-scale digital collections like DPLA easier and more straightforward for users.

From the award application:

In ONE sentence, tell us about your project to strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation.
Working with a global set of expert practitioners, copyright lawyers, and metadata specialists, we will establish a common system of rights and a neutral international namespace for the scanned contents of libraries, archives, museums, and cultural heritage sites so that the maximal number of items from these institutions can be made available to the public, with clear designations around use and reuse.

The Dark Side of Open Access in Google and Google Scholar: the Case of Latin-American Repositories

It is of course highly important that articles published in open access journals are optimally harvested and made known by such search engines as Google and Google Scholar. Enrique Orduña-Malea and Emilio Delgado Lopez-Cozar in their recent article “The Dark Side of Open Access in Google and Google Scholar: the Case of Latin-American Repositories” (accepted for publication in Scientometrics and currently available in contend that for the Latin American context at least open access scholarly literature is insufficiently disseminated and made available on the web through search engines. This is particularly problematic as most of this OA material lies outside the academic mainstream and is not published in journals indexed in WOS or Scopus.

Article Abstract
Since repositories are a key tool in making scholarly knowledge open access, determining their presence and impact on the Web is essential, particularly in Google (search engine par excellence) and Google Scholar (a tool increasingly used by researchers to search for academic information). The few studies conducted so far have been limited to very specific geographic areas (USA), which makes it necessary to find out what is happening in other regions that are not part of mainstream academia, and where repositories play a decisive role in the visibility of scholarly production. The main objective of this study is to ascertain the presence and visibility of Latin American repositories in Google and Google Scholar through the application of page count and visibility indicators. For a sample of 137 repositories, the results indicate that the indexing ratio is low in Google, and virtually nonexistent in Google Scholar; they also indicate a complete lack of correspondence between the repository records and the data produced by these two search tools. These results are mainly attributable to limitations arising from the use of description schemas that are incompatible with Google Scholar (repository design) and the reliability of web indicators (search engines). We conclude that neither Google nor Google Scholar accurately represent the actual size of open access content published by Latin American repositories; this may indicate a non-indexed, hidden side to open access, which could be limiting the dissemination and consumption of open access scholarly literature.

Secret Contracts Keep Journal Prices High

From The Guardian:

Universities ‘get poor value’ from academic journal-publishing firms

Research finds secrecy over contracts has stopped some institutions realising they are paying too much for journals

Top universities are paying too much for scores of academic journals provided by major publishing companies, an investigation has found.

Even with the hefty discounts universities earn when they subscribe to bundles of journals, commercial publishers offer worse value for money than journals published by the major non-profit professional societies, the study found. The analysis by a team of economists found that for leading universities, journals published by non-profit organisations were two to 10 times better value than those published by commercial companies, such as Elsevier, Springer, Sage, and Taylor & Francis.

For a fair comparison between commercial and non-profit publishers, the economists looked at value for money. One measure of a journal’s quality is the number of citations it gets in the academic literature. The economists used this to calculate the cost-per-citation for each journal, which reflects the journal’s value to academics.

Among the commercial publishers, Elsevier’s “price per citation” was nearly three times that charged by the non-profit publishers. Other commercial publishers, namely Emerald, Sage, and Taylor & Francis, had prices per citation roughly ten times those of the non-profits.

Evaluating big deal journal bundles.