Better Ways to Evaluate Research

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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…

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.”

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.

Victory for Fair Use

copyrightCopyright holders must consider fair use before sending a takedown notice.

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

A federal appeals court sided with EFF yesterday on several of the major questions at issue in the long-running Lenz v. Universal copyright case. Lenz—sometimes referred to as the “Dancing Baby” case because it centers on a 29-second home video of a toddler dancing with a song by the musician Prince in the background—has long been recognized as a test of the rights enjoyed by users, and the obligations facing people who want to take down online speech.

The big takeaway of yesterday’s opinion is, yes, that copyright holders must consider fair use before sending a takedown notice. But just as important is the basis of that conclusion: again today we have a federal court making it clear that fair use is not just a carve-out of the copyright system but a right on the same level of those described in the rest of the statute.

For example, the court states explicitly that “Fair use is not just excused by the law, it is wholly authorized by the law.” However well attested that principle is in the statute and in case law, it is still sometimes considered controversial. Hopefully this decision puts that debate to rest: whether the copyright holder grants permission or not, a fair use is an authorized use.

Growing momentum for OER

This a128px-Neon_Open_Sign (1)nnouncement was posted yesterday by Nicole Allen of SPARC:

Today the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the hiring of the first ever open education adviser to lead a national effort to expand Open Educational Resources (OER) in K-12 schools. This announcement marks a critical step for ED and the Obama Administration toward leveraging OER as a solution at a time when improving educational access, opportunity and affordability is at the forefront of the nation’s mind.

This exciting announcement is part of the growing momentum within the Obama Administration to support OER and public access to publicly funded resources. Last month SPARC and 100 other organizations signed a letter calling on the White House to ensure that educational materials created with federal funds are released to the public as OER.

Read more

Wikipedia as “bootlegger”

Wikipedia-logo-v2-enIn a new article, Amplifying the Impact of Open Access: Wikipedia and the Diffusion of Science, the authors analyze Wikipedia citations for presence of high impact journal articles and open access articles. Their conclusion:

We found that across languages, a journal’s academic status (impact factor) routinely predicts its appearance on Wikipedia. We also demonstrated, for the first time, that a journal’s accessibility (open access policy) generally increases probability of referencing on Wikipedia as well, albeit less consistently than its impact factor. The odds that an open access journal is referenced on the English Wikipedia are about 47% higher compared to closed access, paywall journals. More over, of closed access journals, those with high impact factors are also significantly more likely to appear in the English Wikipedia. Therefore, editors of the English Wikipedia act as “bootleggers” of high quality science by distilling and distributing otherwise closed access knowledge to a broad public audience, free of charge. Moreover, the English Wikipedia, as a platform, acts as an “amplifier” for the (already freely available) open access literature by preferentially broadcasting its findings to millions. There is a trade-off between academic status and accessibility evident on Wikipedias around the world.

image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia/2.0