New Bill Would Let Trump Pick the Next Register of Copyrights

From Publisher’s Weekly:

On March 23, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) introduced the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, which would give the President the power to appoint the Register of Copyrights for a 10 year, renewable term, subject to Senate confirmation. The President would also have the power to fire the Register at any time.
Currently, the Register of Copyrights is appointed by and serves at the sole discretion of the Librarian of Congress, who oversees the Copyright Office.

New Open Access monograph publishing venture

An interesting new publishing venture for open access scholarly monographs, with a new funding model:

The Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and Association of American University Presses (AAUP) are implementing a new initiative to advance the wide dissemination of scholarship by humanities and humanistic social sciences faculty members by publishing free, open access, digital editions of peer-reviewed and professionally edited monographs.

Publishing costs will be met by university-funded grants and other revenue sources. These publication grants will enable open access publishing and will send a strong signal to humanities and social sciences faculties that universities value and wish to promote their scholarship.

Gates and AAAS agree on Open Access


oa_or_front-3~s600x600This announced today by the Gates Foundation, increasing access to science for all the right reasons:

We are proud to announce a new partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which will allow publishing of Gates Foundation-funded research on open access terms in all of the AAAS’ journals, including Science, Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, Science Immunology and Science Robotics. This agreement follows the lead set by AAAS’ Science Advances journal, which publishes all material on full open access terms, and also charts a future course for continued collaboration around models that support open access publishing.

The Gates Foundation is taking these steps because we want to advance the conversation around open access publishing and ultimately find new ways of accelerating impact and saving lives. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to ensuring high-quality scientific knowledge is widely accessible, and we applaud efforts from Wellcome to former Vice President Joe Biden to the National Institutes of Health who share our commitment to open access and are pursuing additional approaches. In a field where there are no clear answers, experimentation and creative partnerships help advance the sector and accelerate the discovery of new solutions.

Ultimately, we do so because the possibilities are too great not to explore. Open access publishing of peer-reviewed research holds the potential for researchers from diverse backgrounds to come together and accelerate the research process — and in turn, leads to new ways of making people’s lives longer, healthier and more productive.

Copyright reform: wish carefully

copyrightRecent proposals from the House Judiciary Committee and two former Registers of Copyright, advocating reform of the Copyright Office, have received a lot of attention in the Library world. Many of us can see need for reform, but proponents have focused on moving the Copyright Office out of oversight by the Library of Congress. This proposal seems to stem from a perception that librarians are intent on giving content away, to the detriment of content creators.
Brandon Butler and 42 other lawyer/librarians have sent a very articulate letter opposing this view, and a blog post from David Hansen at Duke, reviews the issues and includes this excerpt of a letter sent by the Duke Libraries:

Libraries like ours have perhaps the most well-rounded and balanced relationship with copyright of any group of institutions in the world. Duke Libraries, like many other libraries, spends millions of dollars every year on services for our faculty and students to help them navigate the legal, technological, and economic choices they face as creators. Our libraries partner with those creators . . . on publishing. Duke Libraries also administer the rights to thousands of works for which we own copyright, primarily in our rare book and archival collections. . . .  Duke Libraries also invest millions of dollars each year into the publishing system by purchasing content and supporting new and emerging publishing platforms. . . .[W]e now spend even more money on developing strategies to carefully respect the rights of copyright owners as we seek to preserve and provide access to those materials in forms that are useful to researchers.

We can do better than the Impact Factor

doralogo-smallIn an Open Access Q&A earlier this week, Peter Suber made the case that the Impact Factor is not a good way to assess research quality, particularly in the context of tenure and promotion decision making. He argued for those in the discipline to actually read the articles.
The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment includes a good explanation of the IF flaws and suggests abandonment of it as a measure of scholarship quality.

The Journal Impact Factor is frequently used as the primary parameter with which to compare the scientific output of individuals and institutions. The Journal Impact Factor, as calculated by Thomson Reuters, was originally created as a tool to help librarians identify journals to purchase, not as a measure of the scientific quality of research in an article. With that in mind, it is critical to understand that the Journal Impact Factor has a number of well-documented deficiencies as a tool for research assessment. These limitations include: A) citation distributions within journals are highly skewed [1–3]; B) the properties of the Journal Impact Factor are field-specific: it is a composite of multiple, highly diverse article types, including primary research papers and reviews [1, 4]; C) Journal Impact Factors can be manipulated (or “gamed”) by editorial policy [5]; and D) data used to calculate the Journal Impact Factors are neither transparent nor openly available to the public [4, 6, 7].

….

A number of themes run through these recommendations:

  • The need to eliminate the use of journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, in funding, appointment, and promotion considerations;

  • The need to assess research on its own merits rather than on the basis of the journal in which the research is published; and

  • The need to capitalize on the opportunities provided by online publication (such as relaxing unnecessary limits on the number of words, figures, and references in articles, and exploring new indicators of significance and impact).

 

RI Launches Open Textbook Initiative

riOn September 27th 2016, Governor Gina Raimondo announced a statewide Open Textbook Initiative during a press conference at Rhode Island College (RIC).
The initiative challenged Rhode Island’s higher education institutions to reduce college costs by saving students $5 million over five years using open licensed textbooks. Seven higher education institutions have pledged to support the Governor’s challenge by working with faculty to identify open licensed textbooks that would fit their classes.

FTC takes on predatory journals

Inside Higher Ed reports that the FTC has filed a complaint against the OMICS Group, publisher of over 700 open access journals.

Ioana Rusu, a staff attorney with the FTC, said in an interview that the commission is responding to a growing number of calls from people in academe for some sort of action to be taken against publishers that take advantage of scholars wishing to publish in open-access journals.

OMICS, the commission alleges, does not adequately disclose that authors have to pay a publication fee, falsely claims that its journals are frequently cited and lists academic experts with no connection to the journals as editors.

Rusu stressed that the FTC is not passing judgment on open-access publishing in general. “We take no sides between the traditional subscription model and the open-access model,” she said. “We believe both of them can be done in a fair, open, clear and lawful way. What we have a problem with here is people who are trying to benefit from the open-access model to scam people.”

Opening the Textbook: new report

OER2A new research report on faculty awareness, use and attitudes toward open textbooks is now available. Opening the Textbook: Educational Resources in Higher Education, 2015-2016.

Among other findings:

Most higher education faculty are unaware of open educational resources (OER) – but they are interested and some are willing to give it a try. Survey results, using
responses of over 3,000 U.S. faculty, show that OER is not a driving force in the selection of materials – with the most significant barrier being the effort required to find and evaluate such materials. Use of open resources is low overall, but somewhat higher for large enrollment introductory-level courses. …
The most common factor cited by faculty when selecting educational resources was the cost to the students. After cost, the next most common was the comprehensiveness of the resource, followed by how easy it was to find.
There is a serious disconnect between how many faculty include a factor in selecting educational resources and how satisfied they are with the state of that factor. For example, faculty are least satisfied with the cost of textbooks, yet that is the most commonly listed factor for resource selections.