Better Ways to Evaluate Research

SPARC Europe logo

This recent SPARC Europe briefing paper tackles the problems with current methods of evaluating research (including the impact factor and h-index) and proposes some future directions:

The most striking aspect of the recent series of Royal Society meetings on the Future of Scholarly  Scientific Communication was that almost every discussion returned to the same core issue: how  researchers are evaluated for the purposes of recruitment, promotion, tenure and grants. Every  problem that was discussed – the disproportionate influence of brand-name journals, failure to move to  more efficient models of peer-review, sensationalism of reporting, lack of replicability, under-population of data repositories, prevalence of fraud – was traced back to the issue of how we assess  works and their authors.

It is no exaggeration to say that improving assessment is literally the most important challenge facing academia. Everything else follows from it. As shown later in this paper, it is possible improve on the present state of the art.

Megajournals and Open Access

An article in yesterday’s Chronicle of Higher Education provides some analysis of the megajournal PLOS ONE, and along the way discusses the gathering momentum of the OA movement and such related issues as impact factors and predatory publishers.

As an Open-Access Megajournal Cedes Some Ground, a Movement Gathers Steam

In short, PLOS ONE — now consistently publishing around 30,000 articles a year — has attracted much more company in its mission to build huge stocks of freely available scientific research. “Since PLOS ONE’s tremendous success, everyone and their grandmother has created a megajournal,” said David J. Solomon, an emeritus professor of medicine at Michigan State University who studies open-access economics.

After years of traditional journals battling the open-access movement, said another analyst, Jevin D. West, an assistant professor of information studies at the University of Washington, “look at all the major publishers — they’re all playing now.”

More Publishers Require ORCID

ORCIDFrom The Scholarly Kitchen:

On December 7 2015 The Royal Society announced that, from January 1 2016, it would require all corresponding authors submitting papers to its journals to provide an Open Researcher and Contributor identifier (ORCID iD). In an open letter published today, seven other publishers – the American Geophysical Union (AGU), eLife, EMBO,  Hindawi, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), PLOS, and Science – joined them, committing to requiring ORCID iDs in their publication process during 2016.

Find out why…

Blog Posting on Web of Science, Scopus, and Open Access

Ryan Regier has made an interesting blog posting entitled “Web of Science, Scopus, and Open Access: What they are doing right and what they are doing wrong”. In it he discusses the Web of Science Open Access indicator for locating articles from gold open access journals. However, he points out that while this indicator is in theory a boon for finding OA articles, the fact that Web of Science only indexes a very small proportion of OA articles is a serious weakness. Regier has greater praise for the substantially larger OA coverage of the Scopus database and looks forward to Scopus’s article based OA indicator which is expected to launch in 2016.

Heidelberg Historic Literature – Digitized

heidelberg-2The Heidelberg University Library has an excellent digitization program. Some of the material that it has digitized include sources of the history of Heidelberg University; charters relating to Palatine history; anatomical literature and drawings; books on ancient Egyptian medicine; works on the theory and history of art; rare works from the library’s valuable collection on South Asia (for example the 18th century Hicky’s Bengal Gazette, or The Original Calcutta General Advertiser and the 20th century Himalayan Times); historic maps; and much more. Particularly interesting are the numerous titles from Heidelberg’s extensive collection of incunabula that have been digitized. For more information about Heidelberg’s digitization program see Heidelberg historic literature – digitized.

 

Should Anne Frank’s Diary enter the public domain?

AnneFrankSchoolPhotoAn interesting blog post by ReCreate explains the rationale that the Anne Frank Foundation uses to suggest that the copyright term for the Diary should extend to 2051.

There are several absurdities to this story.  First, Otto Frank could have claimed co-authorship during his lifetime, in the decades between the publication of the diary and his death, but never appears to have done so.  The Foundation could have claimed co-authorship soon after his death in 1980, but instead waited until just six years ago to seek copyright advice, seemingly motivated by the fact that the work’s copyright term is set to expire at the end of this year.  It seems bizarre to allow the Foundation to now try to claim copyright on behalf of a man who never tried to do so during his lifetime, and which it never sought to do in the several decades after his death.  This move appears solely motivated by the royalties the Foundation will lose when the work enters the public domain.

Additionally, as pointed out by Mike Masnick of TechDirt, “who in their right mind thinks that copyright was the ‘incentive’ necessary for Anne Frank to write her diary?”

[Anne Frank School Photo. This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or less.]

BC Libraries support Open Library of the Humanities

OLH-WebsiteLogo-PNGThe Open Library of Humanities is an academic-led, gold open-access publisher with no author publishing charges. With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the platform covers its costs by payments from an international library consortium, rather than any kind of author fee.

Dr. Martin Paul Eve, a founder and academic project director of the OLH, welcomed Boston College: “I am delighted that Boston College has joined the OLH LPS membership model. The humanities benefit from open access but we often struggle to think how to implement this. With our unique model and with the help of institutions like Boston College we will help to move towards a transition to OA in the humanities”.

Elliot Brandow, Senior Digital Scholarship Librarian/Bibliographer for History, said “Boston College Libraries are thrilled to contribute to this exciting new platform for open access scholarship in the humanities. Library support for open access comes in many forms – from building open digitized collections, to financing article processing fees, to advocating with our faculty and students, to exploring new publishing models like this one. We’re especially pleased by how much scholars and the public will be able to benefit relative to such a minimal institutional investment, and we hope other institutions will join us and many others in supporting the Open Library of the Humanities.”

U.S. Department of Education Launches Open Educational Resources Campaign

There is a growing awareness in the U.S. that the high cost of textbooks is a problem for many higher education students. This problem is manifest at BC also where costly course materials may be affecting many students’ academic performance. To read more about this issue and what BC is doing in addessing it see the Libraries’ affordable course materials guide.

Costly textbooks and other educational materials is a problem not only for students in higher education. K-12 pupils also encounter this difficulty. To help combat the problem the U.S. Department of Education launched a new campaign, #GoOpen, on 29th October. #GoOpen is “a campaign to encourage states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials. As part of the campaign, the Department is proposing a new regulation that would require all copyrightable intellectual property created with Department grant funds to have an open license.” In launching the campaign U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said:

“In order to ensure that all students – no matter their zip code – have access to high-quality learning resources, we are encouraging districts and states to move away from traditional textbooks and toward freely accessible, openly-licensed materials . . . . Districts across the country are transforming learning by using materials that can be constantly updated and adjusted to meet students’ needs.”

Read the U.S. Department of Education’s press release here.

Protest against Elsevier by Lingua

 November 2, 2015
 By
Scott Jaschik
All six editors and all 31 editorial board members of Lingua, one of the top journals in linguistics, last week resigned to protest Elsevier’s policies on pricing and its refusal to convert the journal to an open-access publication that would be free online. As soon as January, when the departing editors’ noncompete contracts expire, they plan to start a new open-access journal to be called Glossa.

#icanhazpdf

Copyright Fail: ‘Pirating’ Academic Papers Not Only Commonplace, But Now Seen As Mainstream

Techdirt has been writing about open access for many years. The idea and practice are certainly spreading, but they’re spreading more slowly than many in the academic world had hoped. That’s particularly frustrating when you’re a researcher who can’t find a particular academic paper freely available as open access, and you really need it now. So it’s no surprise that people resort to other methods, like asking around if anyone has a copy they could send. The Internet being the Internet, it’s also no surprise that this ad-hoc practice has evolved into a formalized system, using Twitter and the hashtag #icanhazpdf to ask other researchers if they have a copy of the article in question. But what is surprising is that recently there have been two articles on mainstream sites that treat the approach as if it’s really quite a reasonable thing to do.

…….

It’s a further sign of copyright’s dwindling relevance in a world whose central technology — the Internet — is built on sharing and openness.