Critique of New Elsevier Policies

Elsevier announced new article self-archiving policies, in many ways more restrictive, under the promising banner: “Unleashing the power of academic sharing.

Many have since read the fine print and there has been angry backlash. Library Journal has a good analysis of the back and forth, in case you missed it as it unfolded.

Heather Joseph cuts to the heart of the matter:

“For us, the embargo period and the licensing issues are elements of the policy that are visible problems. But the revision of the policy itself was a troublesome move to our community…. The investment that we’ve made in repositories over the last decade is an important way for us to ensure that the academic community is asserting control over its own [intellectual property]. We’re producing these articles, we’re surfacing these ideas, and we’d like to have a say in how and when we share them with people.”

“Oligarchy” of Publishers

From CBC News — an interesting report on a new study just published in PLoS One about the academic publishing industry.

While traditional book and magazine publishers struggle to stay afloat, research publishing houses have typical profit margins of nearly 40 per cent, says Vincent Larivière, a researcher at the University of Montreal’s School of Library and Information Science.


What he and his collaborators found was that the five largest, for-profit academic publishers now publish 53 per cent of scientific papers in the natural and medical sciences – up from 20 per cent in 1973. In the social sciences, the top five publishers publish 70 per cent of papers.

Essentially, they’ve become an oligarchy, Larivière and co-authors Stefanie Haustein and Philippe Mongeon say in a paper published last week in the open access, non-profit journal PLOS ONE.

How copying promotes creativity


Jonathan Band makes some interesting observations in this post about film score composer Michael Giacchino (Jurassic World):

Giacchino told NPR how he became obsessed with Steven Spielberg films as he was       growing up:

“When I wasn’t able to get myself to a theater to re-watch, you know, E.T. for the hundredth time, or Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Star Wars, the only way to relive those movies was to listen to the soundtrack.” When he did go to the theaters, Giacchino would sneak in tape recorders so he could listen to the soundtracks later. “I still have all those cassettes,” he says. “I would just listen to Raiders of the Lost Ark over and over and over.”

Band points out:

But imagine a budding filmmaker who wants to study the various film and narrative techniques used in Jurassic World. Because of the studios’ windowing strategy, a DVD of the film probably would not be available for at least 120 days. Until then, the filmmaker might not be able to rely on fair use to make his own copy. 18 U.S.C. § 2319B, which imposes felony penalties on the use of an audiovisual recording device to make a copy of a motion picture in a motion picture exhibition facility, does not recognize fair use as a defense.

Image: By FabSubeject (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

UCL Launches UK’s First Fully OA University Press

UCLUniversity College London (UCL) has announced the launch of UCL Press, the UK’s first fully Open Access university press. The primary focus of the press will be scholarly monographs, textbooks and journals. Three inaugural monographs have just been published: Temptation in the Archives by Lisa Jardine,Treasures from UCL by Gillian Furlong and The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology: Characters and Collections by Alice Stevenson. All of UCL Press’s titles are freely available to download in open access digital editions.

From the 27 May press release: “The founding ethos of UCL Press builds upon UCL’s wider commitment to communicating and engaging with the world. Open Access ensures academic research is accessible to everyone, as all publications are freely available online with no payment restrictions.”

“Humanities Unbound: Supporting Careers and Scholarship Beyond the Tenure Track”

In “Humanities Unbound: Supporting Careers and Scholarship Beyond the Tenure Track”, an article in the latest issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly, Katina Rogers writes that humanities graduate programs should broaden their content. She argues cogently that as tenure track positions continue to shrink more and more Humanities doctoral graduates will work at careers other than the professoriate. Consequently, in addition to the traditional academic content, doctoral programs should include training in such 21st century skills and literacies as project management, collaboration, communication, technical fluency, and an understanding of organizational structures. Such knowledge

is critical to ensuring continued rigorous and creative research and other work products. Remaining wedded to outmoded systems, including a model of apprenticeship in higher education that reinforces the false assumption that professorship is the only meaningful career for humanities doctoral recipients, does a tremendous disservice to all individuals and organizations that benefit from humanistic perspectives. It is essential that humanities programs begin to equip graduate students for varied career paths and deep public engagement, while also emphasizing the value of working in a range of sectors beyond the tenure track. Professorships should not be seen as the sole prestigious career for humanists; instead, any intellectually rewarding role that contributes to society should be seen as a tremendously successful outcome. The time is ripe for prestige to be measured not only by tenure track placement rates, but also through the many other careers that graduates choose to pursue, and ways that those paths positively benefit the broader ecosystem of our shared cultural heritage.

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.