The Digital Einstein Papers

einsteinOn 5 December Princeton University Press, in partnership with the Tizra digital publishing platform, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and California Institute of Technology, launched The Digital Einstein Papers. This is an open access site for the translated and annotated writings of Albert Einstein. Presently the site contains

5,000 documents covering the first forty-four years of Einstein’s life, up to and including the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics and his long voyage to the Far East. Additional material will be available on the website approximately eighteen months after the print publication of new volumes of The Collected Papers. Eventually, the website will provide access to all of Einstein’s writings and correspondence, accompanied by scholarly annotation and apparatus.

For more information see Einstein Papers Project.

The Impact of Open Textbooks on Secondary Science Learning Outcomes

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It is well-known that the cost of many k-12 textbooks is extremely high and, consequently, constitute a serious financial burden for numerous pupils and their families. Not surprisingly the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement whose goal is to increase the usage of freely available teaching, learning and research materials is growing in importance and popularity. Such free resources might be textbooks, modules, videos, software, tests and a variety of other openly accessible course materials.

Recently T. Jared Robinson, Lane Fischer, David Wiley, and John Hilton III published the article “The Impact of Open Textbooks on Secondary Science Learning Outcomes” in Educational Researcher, 2014 43: 341. This article discussed the educational outcome of the usage by 4,183 students and 43 teachers from the Nebo School District in Utah of open science textbooks.

Given the increasing costs associated with commercial textbooks and decreasing financial support of public schools, it is important to better understand the impacts of open educational resources on student outcomes. The purpose of this quantitative study is to analyze whether the adoption of open science textbooks significantly affects science learning outcomes for secondary students in earth systems, chemistry, and physics.

This study uses a quantitative quasi-experimental design with propensity score matched groups and multiple regression to examine whether student learning was influenced by the adoption of open textbooks instead of traditional publisher produced textbooks. Students who used open textbooks scored .65 points higher on end-of-year state standardized science tests than students using traditional textbooks when controlling for the effects of 10 student and teacher covariates. Further analysis revealed statistically significant positive gains for students using the open chemistry textbooks, with no significant difference in student scores for earth systems of physics courses. Although the effect size of the gains were relatively small, and not consistent across all textbooks, the finding that open textbooks can be as effective or even slightly more effective than their traditional counterparts has important considerations in terms of school district policy in a climate of finite educational funding.


Digital Libraries + Hybridity: An Interview with Clifford Wulfman

wulfmanThe website dh+lib (where the digital humanities and librarianship meet) recently published Digital Libraries + Hybridity, a thought-provoking interview with Clifford Wulfman, Coordinator of Library Digital Initiatives at the Firestone Library at Princeton University and consultant to Princeton’s new Center for Digital Humanities. In the interview Wulfman talks about his work and training, digital libraries, digital humanities, alt-ac (“alternative academic” careers), and the future of digital collections.

Gates Foundation adopts OA Policy


_bill_melinda_gates_foundation_logo From Science Insider:

Breaking new ground for the open-access movement, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a major funder of global health research, plans to require that the researchers it funds publish only in immediate open-access journals. 

The policy doesn’t kick in until January 2017; until then, grantees can publish in subscription-based journals as long as their paper is freely available within 12 months. But after that, the journal must be open access, meaning papers are free for anyone to read immediately upon publication. Articles must also be published with a license that allows anyone to freely reuse and distribute the material. And the underlying data must be freely available.

The Gates Foundation will also pay the author fees charged by many open-access journals.

IMF: Data is a public good


From Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

We very much recognize the importance of data as a public good. In this context, we are upgrading our data platforms and improving the way we distribute data and statistics to our membership throughout the world. …

Much of our data is already freely available. This is especially true of the data that supports our main forecasts for the global economy in the World Economic Outlook. 

And I have an important announcement to make—starting January 1, 2015 we will provide all our online data free-of-charge to everyone.

Online Exhibition: The 1916 Rising: Personalities and Perspectives

DublinIt is likely that the centenary of the 1916 Easter Uprising in Ireland will be commemorated with a number of traditional and online exhibits. However, the National Library of Ireland already has an excellent online exhibition in place, The 1916 Rising: Personalities and Perspectives. This exhibition uses contemporary books, newspapers, photographs, drawings, proclamations and manuscripts, almost all from the collections of the National Library, to focus upon those who set the stage for the events of Easter Week 1916: the seven signatories of the proclamation, the others executed in the aftermath of the Rising, the casualties and the survivors. Over 500 images have been selected for study and analysis.

Data Sharing Data

dataglobe An interesting post in the Scholarly Kitchen blog reports on one data sharing survey and links to another. There is a lot of material to digest here and recommendations regarding how to increase data access.

While public access to research articles is a fact of life for much of the scholarly community, access to research data – while a top priority for many governments and other funders, who see it as the key to future economic growth – remains a challenge. There are many reasons for this, both practical (eg, lack of infrastructure) and professional (eg, lack of credit, getting scooped). The publishing community can and does already help with the former, for example through support for NISO, CrossRef, CODATA, and other organizations and, increasingly, the development of data sharing and management solutions. Resolving the professional issues, however, will almost certainly require action by research funders and institutions.

Digital reproductions of public domain works

public domain During Open Access Week the Harvard University Libraries announced a new policy on reproduction of public domain works:

The Harvard Library is pleased to announce a new policy on the use of digital reproductions of works in the public domain. When the Library makes such reproductions and makes them openly available online, it will treat the reproductions themselves as objects in the public domain. It will not try to restrict what users can do with them, nor will it grant or deny permission for any use.

In an interesting podcast from Digital Campus, Dan Cohen  from the DPLA, and others discuss this policy and other copyright issues.

At BC, the recommendation of our Digital Program Plan (Appendix K) regarding rights to digitized public domain material is:

For items we have determined are in the public domain, we recommend asking only for acknowledgement of the source of the material. All uses of the content and the images will be permitted.


Expanded Features of the Open Access Button

OAbuttonLast week the Open Access Button was relaunched with a number of new apps to help anyone get access to scientific and scholarly research.

How the Open Access Button works is quite simple. You can download the Open Access Button from Then when you’re asked to pay to access academic research, you push the Open Access Button on your phone or on the web. The Open Access Button will then search the web for a version of the paper that you can access immediately. If that doesn’t work, the Button will email the author and look for more information about the paper.

Versions of papers published in journals that require you to pay to read can sometimes be accessed for free in other places. These other copies are often very similar to the published version, but may lack nice formatting or be a version prior to peer review. These copies can be found archived in research repositories, on authors’ websites and many other places. To find these versions we identify the paper a user needs and effectively search on Google Scholar and CORE to find these copies and link them to the users. We are always looking to integrate more repositories and if you can help get in touch.

Much of the time, there won’t be a copy available. If a copy of a research paper isn’t available we aim to make one available. This is not a simple task and so we have to use a few different innovative strategies. One of these is that we are aiming to create a new incentive for authors to put their work in repositories (facilitating “Green” Open Access). By emailing the author, and creating pages which can get their attention we hope to help the voices of those needing their research [reach] them. We’ll make it easy for researchers to deposit research (they have the right to deposit) in established repositories or on the web, and when researchers do make copies available somewhere on the web, we’€™ll email you the copy of the research you needed access to.

More on the Open Access Button.

Open Access to Survey of 30,000 Authors by Nature Publishing Group and Palgrave Macmillan

In Spring 2014 the Nature Publishing Group (NPG) and Palgrave Macmillan conducted an Author Insights survey. A couple of days ago they made the survey’s data publicly available “in order to achieve greater understanding between authors, funders and publishers, particularly with regard to open access.” 30,466 researchers participated in the survey.

From the press release:

The survey reveals authors’ views on a diverse range of topics, including how authors make publishing decisions, funding availability and reasons for choosing open access as a publishing route. It is available to view and download via a CC BY license on figshare, along with a short summary pulling out the highlights.

Sam Burridge, Managing Director Open Research NPG/Palgrave Macmillan said: “To celebrate Open Access Week, we’re releasing our internal dataset via figshare for anyone to view, download and analyse. As far as we know, this is the first time that a publisher has made the detailed results of a survey of this size and scope completely open.

“It’s vital that decision-making in the academic publishing community is evidence-based, which is why we’re making this data open access. We believe it will contribute to an increased understanding of the real issues in academic publishing, and we encourage researchers to dig into this data and use it to help inform our community.”

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 1 in 5 (20%) science authors and 1 in 10 (12%) HSS authors do not know if their main funder requires them to publish open access
  • A significant number of authors are unaware of the requirements of even the largest OA funders with long-established mandates.
  • For example, 17% of Wellcome Trust and 25% of NIH-funded authors do not know if their funders have OA requirements
  • 40% of science authors and 54% of HSS authors who have not published open access say that ‘I am concerned about perceptions of the quality of OA publications’