A blog post in the Chronicle of Higher Education (Friday, December 6) detailed a new practice by Elsevier — sending out large numbers of takedown requests to Academia.edu for articles posted there but previously published in its journals. (Posting Your Latest Article? You Might Have to Take It Down.) Academia.edu provides free access to the articles, which are uploaded by their authors — often without regard for the terms of copyright transfer agreements signed at publication.
It is worth noting that this practice is quite different from those followed by eScholarship@BC and other institutional repositories. eScholarship librarians research journal self-archiving policies and post only the authorized versions of articles. Many journal publishers have much more lenient policies for author self-archiving in an academic employer’s repository.
One way to research these policies is to check the Sherpa-Romeo website for a journal publisher’s policies.
Science Insider reports on the results of a survey that it conducted of scientists’ attitudes to Open Access. The respondents, 254 in number, expressed overwhelming support for making research papers freely available. However, “42% of respondents had not submitted a paper to an open-access journal in the past 3 years. Only 17% had sent at least half of their papers to open-access journals during that time, and just 10% publish exclusively in such journals.” Among the reasons provided for not publishing in OA journals are: a) colleagues and tenure committees tend to have more respect for traditional journals; b) the high cost of publication fees; c) wariness regarding a perceived lack of rigor in the peer review process of OA journals. On a positive note nearly half of the survey’s respondents consider “that most journals will ‘eventually’ be fully open access.”
Richard Poynder recently interviewed Ann Okerson, Senior Advisor on Electronic Strategies for the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), and a former Associate University Librarian at Yale University. A long participant in and staunch promoter of the open access movement, Okerson views herself as belonging to the “pragmatic wing of open access advocates”. It’s a very interesting interview in which Okerson comes across as extremely balanced in her views on publishers, libraries, open access, and publication costs. The following is Poynder’s last question:
Q: The seeds of the OA movement (certainly for librarians) lie in what you earlier referred to as the “serials pricing crisis”, which is an affordability problem. It was this affordability problem that created the accessibility problem that OA was intended to solve. Will OA in your view be any less expensive than subscription publishing?
A: Taking the long view back to 1994 and the beginnings of these conversations, I have to say we’ve learned just how large, complicated, and important this part of the world of publishing and communication is. Right now, today, when looking at, for example, the APCs that PLOS charges ($1,350/article for PLOS ONE and $2,900 for PLOS Biology), we are discovering that there’s no such thing as a “free lunch.”
We’ve survived nearly two decades of e-journal publishing and 15 years since the Big Deal has thrived — and the sky hasn’t actually fallen. We’ve incurred costs, no question, but the wings have stayed on the plane. Now we’re redesigning the plane, and we’re all excited by the results.
Here’s the fondest hope of the pragmatic OA advocate: that we settle on a series of business practices that truly make the greatest possible collection of high-value material accessible to the broadest possible audience at the lowest possible cost — not just lowest cost to end users, but lowest cost to all of us.
End of the day, the cost of the system that publishes and distributes scholarly/scientific information is going to be borne somehow or another by all in the academic and research community, including our funders, so it’s in our interest to find the models and strategies that get the most to the most for the least cost. We’re heading in that direction. . . .
Today’s Scout Report rightly brings attention to a very useful newspaper digitization project. It’s the California Digital Newspaper Collection, a freely accessible repository of digitized California newspapers from 1846 to the present. The collection currently contains 61,412 issues comprising 545,955 pages and 6,364,529 articles. Included is the first California newspaper, the Californian, and the first daily California newspaper, the Daily Alta California. Though the bulk of the content only goes up to 1922, the collection also contains issues of several current California newspapers that are part of a pilot project to preserve and provide access to contemporary papers.
Some days are too full of news. Possibly this is why some people tweet rather than blog.
There are four developments I want to mention — you can choose which to follow up:
Google Books Decision A Huge Victory for Fair Use and for Research Libraries
“In a powerful affirmation of the value of research libraries, Judge Denny Chin today ruled that Google’s digitization of millions of books from university library collections was a fair use. Chin cites the Library Copyright Alliance amicus brief throughout his opinion to support a fundamental proposition: that the Google digitization project and the resulting uses are “invaluable” to society at large, and harmless to authors.”
See SPARC’s analysis of “[T]he Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act of 2013 (FIRST) currently being circulated would impose significant barriers to the public’s ability to access to taxpayer funded research by restricting federal science agencies’ ability to provide timely, equitable, online access to articles and data reporting on the results of research that they support.”
In the Chronicle of Higher Education: 2 Senators Offer Bill Promoting Open-Access Textbooks
A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate on Thursday would encourage the creation of free online textbooks by offering grants for pilot projects that produce high-quality open-access textbooks, especially for courses with large enrollments. Grant money would also be available to help faculty members find and review such textbooks, as well as to conduct research on how well open-access textbooks meet students’ and faculty members’ needs.
Last but not least: — I was happy to read Kevin Smith’s post about the Harvard Business Review policy which won’t allow professors even to recommend that students in their classes read an article in a subscribed database without paying extra. An egregious policy that — if others follow suit — will severely undercut the utility of the databases we pay so much for.
A line in the sand:
Harvard Business Publishing is treating this as an issue between themselves and the institutions that subscribe to HBR via EBSCO. They accuse faculty of using articles as course readings without paying the “required” extra fee, and are disabling the EBSCO versions to force that additional fee. But this is a skewed perspective. From the point of view of the subscribing institutions, what is happening is that they are getting less functionality from EBSCO and are now being asked to pay HBP to regain that function.
Properly viewed, I suggest, this is not a dispute between libraries, or faculties, and Harvard. It is a dispute between Harvard Business Publications and EBSCO over how to divide up the pie. And libraries should refuse to make the pie bigger just to settle that dispute. …
But the truth is, these technological changes are intended to prevent faculty from even giving students a reference to an article and asking the students to read that article on their own. HBP wants to recover a separate fee even for that.
Science reports the creation of a new preprint server called bioRxiv whose goal is to be the biologists’ counterpart to the physicists’ arXiv. From the Science article:
. . . . BioRxiv, launched yesterday by the nonprofit Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), aims to be biologists’ version of arXiv, the popular preprint server where physicists have shared their draft manuscripts for more than 20 years. The goal is to speed the dissemination of research and give scientists a way to get feedback on their papers before they are formally peer-reviewed, says John Inglis, CSHL Press executive director. “There is a growing desire in the community for this kind of service,” Inglis says.
It will be free to submit a paper or to read it in bioRxiv, Inglis says. CSHL is paying the costs of the service (he declines to specify them) but hopes that, like arXiv, it will ultimately attract contributions. Although anybody can submit a paper, not everything will be posted: A group of more than 40 “affiliate” scientists have agreed to screen submissions to “assure us that this is real science,” Inglis says. “We certainly don’t want the enterprise to be sunk by publishing a load of crap.”
Another limitation is that bioRxiv is for life sciences, not medicine, so it will not publish clinical trials or other research that is “medically relevant,” Inglis says. Human genetic data could be posted, however. . . .
An interesting PLoS post by Dr. Carolyn Graybeal, who holds a PhD in neuroscience from Brown University, about resources that help citizen scientists make their work (both data and articles) open and accessible:
Science endeavors to be a collaborative and open process. Unfortunately, it can be challenging for independent citizen scientists to share their data or publish their research findings. “Despite the quality of their work, competent amateurs and citizen scientists are not well-represented in the research literature.”
Thankfully, the barriers are coming down. Online data repositories are available to both professional and non-professional scientists. Increasingly, publishers are making their primary research articles ‘open access’ (free) and are actively encouraging citizen scientists to submit articles for publication. Below is a sample of resources that can help citizen scientists share data and publish their findings.
The British Library has a wonderful array of online guides and topic overviews that will be valuable to those who can’t visit the Library in person. Though they might be particularly useful for younger students, they should also be of interest to anyone who would like a broad introduction to a topic. Especially interesting are the numerous learning modules categorized under the following headings: Language & Literature; History; Citizenship; Art & Images; Culture & Knowledge; Creative Research. For example, the History module has the following sections: Sisterhood and After; Timelines: Sources from History; Asians in Britain; Medieval Realms; Georgians; Victorians; Campaign for Abolition; Dreamers & Dissenters; Voices of the Holocaust; Front Page; Trading Places; Making of the U.K. 1500-1750. All units provide a fascinating overview of their topic through video, sound, digitized posters, pamphlets, diaries, newspapers, political reports and illustrations as well as text.
The publishing world has certainly seen a lot activity and discussion about open access journals, but not as much about open access for monographs. That may be changing. Oxford University Press is participating in a project initiated by JISC, a UK organization whose mission is “to provide world-class leadership in the innovative use of Information and Communications Technology to support education, research and institutional effectiveness” (JISC Strategy 2010-2012, p. 12). Titled OAPEN-UK, the year-long project will allow OUP to explore the impact of open access on its traditional mode of publishing. Here’s a description of how the project will proceed:
OAPEN-UK works by matching pairs of monographs which are similar in subject area, predicted sales, extent and publication date, and then publishing one open access and publishing the other in the normal manner, as a control.
The titles randomly selected to be open access have been made available as a freely available PDF on the OUP UK Catalogue, Oxford Scholarship Online, the OAPEN Library, and on Google Books. These PDFs are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives licence (CC-BY-NC-ND). In addition to this, these titles continue to be sold and marketed in the normal way (customers can still purchase print copies or ebooks, for example).
The control titles are not made open access and are simply sold, marketed and distributed in the traditional manner.
More information about OUP’s open access project as well as a list of titles linked to full text PDFs is available. Note that one of the books is by a Boston College author, Marina McCoy of the Philosophy Department: Wounded Heroes: Vulnerability as a Virtue in Ancient Greek Literature and Philosophy.
The first phase of the Shelley-Godwin Archive has just opened. It consists of a digitized version of all the known manuscripts of Frankenstein. These manuscripts consist of the disbound pages from five notebooks of Mary Shelley. The ongoing goal of the Archive is to add to this digital Frankenstein and provide the digitized manuscripts of all the literary works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft, “bringing together online, as for the first time ever the widely dispersed handwritten legacy of this uniquely gifted family of writers.”