Digital Public Library of America: Exhibitions

DPLAThe online exhibitions are a particularly interesting feature of the Digital Public Library of America. These exhibitions, all of which focus on a specific aspect of US history, include: Women with Wings: American Aviatrixes; Indomitable Spirits: Prohibition in the United States; Staking Claims: The Gold Rush in Nineteenth-Century America; Bread and Roses Strike of 1912: Two Months in Lawrence, Massachusetts, that Changed Labor History; The Show Must Go On! American Theater in the Great Depression.

The most recent exhibition is titled Building the First Transcontinental Railroad. This exhibition explores the construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad and its impact on American westward expansion. It is divided into five themes: History; Human Impact; Changing the Landscape; A Nation Divided; A Nation Transformed.

Exhibition’s Introduction:

As the United States began the most deadly conflict in its history, the American Civil War, it was also laying the groundwork for one of its greatest achievements in transportation. The First Transcontinental Railroad, approved by Congress in the midst of war, helped connect the country in ways never before possible. Americans could travel from coast to coast with speed, changing how Americans lived, traded, and communicated while disrupting ways of life practiced for centuries by Native American populations. The coast-to-coast railroad was the result of the work of thousands of Americans, many of whom were Chinese immigrant laborers who worked under discriminatory pressures and for lower wages than their Irish counterparts. These laborers braved incredibly harsh conditions to lay thousands of miles of track. That track—the work of two railroad companies competing to lay the most miles from opposite directions—came together with the famous Golden Spike at Promontory Summit in Utah on May 10, 1869.

Agency responses to OSTP

Figshare has released this helpful chart of Federal agency responses to the OSTP request for policies on sharing of funded research outputs.


Valen, Dan; Blanchat, Kelly (2015): Overview of OSTP Responses. figshare. Retrieved 15:48, May 05, 2015 (GMT)

This chart is based on a crowd-sourced open Google Spreadsheet that consolidates guidelines from federal agencies as a result of the Whitehouse’s Office of Science and Technology Policy’s (OSTP) 2013 statement. The chart is an overview of each agency’s compliance with policies that are intended to “[open] goverment data resources” by working towards public access for all research outputs supported by federal funding (Process Toward Opening Data Government Resources. The White House, 16 Aug. 2013. Web.).

Re:Create coalition promotes balanced copyright



ARL announced today that it is joining Re:Create — a coalition formed to promote balanced copyright policy. This looks like an organization to watch.

Today, April 28, 2015, ARL joined US technology companies, trade associations, and civil society organizations in the launch of Re:Create, a coalition that promotes balanced copyright policy. A balanced copyright system depends on limitations and exceptions, such as fair use. As technology advances, it is imperative that the copyright law is responsive to these changes, balancing the interests of creators of copyrighted information and products with the interests of users of those products.

Re:Create promotes and defends the important balance of copyright. ARL’s member institutions, as well as the general public, depend on balanced copyright that includes robust limitations and exceptions. A balanced system ensures that copyright does not limit or impede new and valuable technologies and uses.

Scholarly Communication and Peer Review: The Current Landscape and Future Trends

wellcomeA report commissioned by the Wellcome Trust focusing on the present state and the future of peer review was published last month. The goal of the report was “to examine the current landscape of peer review for research publications, including recent innovations and how they have worked in practice; and to gather and appraise the views of publishers and others as to how systems and processes may change over the next four to five years.” The report focused on six key areas of likely development in the near future:

  • Acknowledgement of the need to have greater transparency and openness in the review process;
  • Agreement on the desirability of greater interaction between editors, reviewers and authors;
  • Utilization by publishers of more innovative article-level metrics, such as Altmetric, Plum Analytics, and Impact Story;
  • Increasing interest in the provision of rewards in the form of scholarly credit and recognition for reviewers;
  • Desirability to improve guidance, training and feedback for reviewers;
  • Growing interest in distinguishing between the different purposes of peer review.

The full report.

Importance of Open Data to Developing Countries

UNA recent post in Civil Service World, a UK publication, analyzes the importance of open data to  the development of the forthcoming United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

It’s already becoming clear that open data holds particular resonance for international development. By 2013, 12 of the 41 available national platforms for accessing open data had been created by developing countries. And with the African Development Bank becoming the first pan-African entity to provide regional information through a central platform, it is increasingly likely that open data will form a central part of the plans for the SDG framework.

The timing is certainly significant. Driven by a push for greater aid effectiveness and accountability from development programmes, there has been an increasing need to measure results using reliable, transparent data as evidence. But its potential is not just limited to tracking aid effectiveness.

Open data can also be used to inform evidence-based policy-making and the design of government services by providing a source of information to identify wasteful spending, better target resources and design more responsive services. By opening up data sets typically on a central portal, government departments can share information easily and prevent silos from emerging. Evidence suggests that where governments have introduced open data portals, a large proportion of the views or downloads are from civil servants in other departments.

Open Educational Resources (OER) and the Higher Education Environment

The swiftly increasing cost of academic resources, especially student textbooks and other required course readings, is a well-publicized problem for students at college and university (see the BC Library guide Open Access and Scholarly Publishing: Open Educational Resources).

In an article in this month’s issue of C&RL News, “Open educational resources and the higher education environment: A leadership opportunity for libraries“, co-authors Kristi Jensen and Quill West provide interesting insights into open educational resources (OER). For example, West makes the very pertinent point that OERs are beneficial for more than just saving students money on textbooks:

Open education is a philosophy, a pedagogical shift, and a movement that works to improve educational experiences through adopting learning materials that aren’t locked down by restrictive copyright laws. In a lot of ways open education is about saving students money on textbooks, which helps institutions to meet equity of access missions. However, open education is also about increasing student achievement, inspiring passion among faculty, and building better connections between students and the materials that they use to meet their educational goals.

For the full article.

New Guide to Getting Rights Back

The Authors Alliance just published a free guide:  Understanding Rights Reversion: When, Why, & How to Regain Copyright and Make Your Book More Available.

When a book has been out for a while and is no longer selling well, the authors of this guide found that publishers may be willing to let rights revert back to the author. This presents great opportunities for getting new digital readership.

Today’s technologies offer tremendous opportunities for authors to make their out-of-print or otherwise unavailable books more widely available. Some authors want to revive their books by creating e-books, while others may want to use print-on-demand technology or deposit their books in openly accessible repositories. We hope that the guide empowers authors to advocate on their own behalf to make their works more widely available, and we believe that many authors can work with their publishers to increase their books’ availability by following the strategies articulated in the guide: Be Reasonable, Be Flexible, Be Persistent, and Be Creative.  More

The Boston College Libraries have experienced this firsthand. We send many out-of-copyright books to the Internet Archive to be reproduced as Kindle and ePub versions. A few years ago, Prof. David Northrup regained copyright to a book he had published in 1995 with Cambridge University Press, Indentured labor in the age of imperialism, 1834-1922. According to WorldCat the book is held by some 520 libraries worldwide.

With Prof. Northrup’s permission, we sent it to be digitized as part of the Boston College Collection. In the slightly more than two years it has been available through the Internet Archive and HathiTrust, it has been viewed 6698 times.

Faculty authors interested in making older work available may want to consult this guide or talk to their subject liaison librarian about our digitization program.


Hybrid journal article fees

All that glitters

“A review of the United Kingdom’s progress towards ‘gold’ open-access research is instructive — for funders, publishers and scientists both at home and abroad.”

This Nature editorial from April 7, cites a startling statistic about hybrid journal publishing fees:

And then there are costs. All experiments should be encouraged in the evolving gold open-access market, but academics should know that fees for papers published in fully open-access journals are lower than those of ‘hybrid’ subscription journals that allow an open-access option. The Wellcome Trust says that the average fee levied by hybrid journals is 64% higher than that charged by fully open-access titles. British funders are now pondering steering the market by dissuading researchers from publishing in hybrid journals, as other countries have done.

It’s hard to see how the higher fees could be justified, since hybrid journals are typically collecting subscription fees as well. The fully OA journals are not, and often the article processing fee is the only source of revenue, unless, as is the case with many OA journals, their support comes from institutional subventions.

DOAJ: Twelve New Developments

doaj_logo_newThere are currently 10,397 journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). 6,223 of the journals are searchable at the article level. There are 1,868,130 articles in toto.

DOAJ is making strenuous efforts to ensure that only high quality journals are included in its Directory. As reported by SPARC, DOAJ “recently implemented a rigorous new vetting process that aims to raise the bar of quality for the journals it lists and filters out publications that are tarnishing the image of Open Access.” This process includes an enhanced application form that must be completed by the publisher.

In a news release issued today DOAJ announced twelve new developments that aim to improve the Directory as well help to ameliorate the overall quality of OA publishing. The specific goals of this project are to

  • improve the visibility of individual articles, both locally in DOAJ and outside in
    external search engines
  • improve overall discoverability in, and linking from, external databases
  • improve metadata extraction for re-use
  • give visibility to new datasets from the information we are collecting in the new application form with a level of granularity we’ve never had before
  • update the UI and add better browsing
  • add a much needed visualisation for existing continuations and ultimately, the management of new ones
  • reduce DOAJ’s overall response times

The full press release.

Beyond Beall’s List: Better Understanding Predatory Publishers

In the March 2015 issue of College & Research Libraries News Monica Berger and Jill Cirasella published the article: Beyond Beall’s List: Better understanding predatory publishers. It’s an excellent nuanced overview of the relationships between open access, predatory publishing and low-quality publishing. The authors critique Jeffrey Beall who curates an influential blacklist of “potential, possible, or probable” predatory open access publishers and journals. Though rightfully praising many aspects of Beall’s blacklist and the criteria he uses for evaluating “predatory journals”, the authors take issue with a number of his views on open access and what they regard might be a lack of “a broader perspective on scholarly communication.”

Berger and Cirasella tend to prefer a whitelist to a blacklist of journals: “Given the fuzziness between low-quality and predatory publishers, whitelisting, or listing publishers and journals that have been vetted and verified as satisfying certain standards, may be a better solution than blacklisting.” They point to the revamped Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) as a good example of a valuable whitelist. However, they stress that blacklists and whitelists can only do so much and that authors should do their homework and thoroughly evaluate journals in which they’d like to publish.

Note: BC Libraries have a useful guide: Assessing Journal Quality.