Latest Headlines
0

On Not Being Published, by Stephen Ramsay

Open Access Week 2013 begins today, and all week we’ll be running posts by guest bloggers on open access and contemporary scholarship in the Humanities. Today’s post comes from Stephen Ramsay, Associate Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Professor Ramsay is the University of Iowa’s open access guest-scholar this year, and he will be delivering a lecture, “What is a Publisher?” at 2 pm in the Illinois Room (room 348) of the IMU today, Monday, October 21st. He will also be participating in a panel discussion on open access and trends in academic publishing Tuesday, October 22, at 3 pm in Room 1117 of the University Capitol Centre. Find more details here about these events and Open Access Week at the University of Iowa. We hope you’ll join us.

On Not Being Published

Stephen Ramsay

I’m going to risk a certain immodesty by talking, in rather self-aggrandizing terms, about an essay of mine called “The Hermeneutics of Screwing Around; or What You Do With a Million Books“.

This essay began as a talk I gave at Brown University in 2010. The talk was a bit rough, but reasonably well received. Later on that year, I was invited to a workshop in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario (the organizers had taken advantage of off-season rates to hold it in a stunningly beautiful resort town). The workshop was called “Playing with Technology in History” (later rebranded as “PastPlay”) and focused on bringing notions of play and the ludic (using, for example, role-playing games, Arduino boards, and even Lego bricks) to teach history. The plan was that we would spend a day playing games, hacking things, and participating in other sorts of activities — in other words, trying things out and exchanging ideas to see what might work and what might not. On the second day, though, we would get down to business. We were all supposed to bring an essay to be workshopped in traditional seminar format. University of New Brunswick Press had agreed to publish the resulting volume (subject to the usual terms of peer review). So, I revised my essay from Brown — making it a bit less “talky” — and submitted it to the group.  Reactions were, I thought, more positive this time, though one participant told me I was dead wrong on one particular point. He was right; I fixed it, and fiddled with it some more. Publishing takes a while, as we all know, but being generally anarchic digital humanists, we all agreed that it would be a good idea to put all the essays online in advance of them being formally published.

That essay is now, far and away, the most successful thing I’ve ever written. It has been cited countless times, is a regular feature on course syllabi throughout the land, and was even discussed at some length by Stanley Fish on the New York Times “Opinionator” blog.

But here’s the thing.  It is 2013 — three years later — and that essay still hasn’t been published.

Now, there are several reasons for this, none of which includes lassitude on the part of the workshop organizers. Nonetheless, when I write my annual review, I still list it as “forthcoming,” which means that it doesn’t yet “count” as something next to which my department can put a check mark. It’s not yet accepted as one of my “scholarly accomplishments.” The question, therefore, is whether I should actually care about this.

In one sense, the answer is “yes.” Academics tend to think of success as adding to the list of items on their CV, and this one still isn’t on mine. On the other hand, this essay made me famous (not Miley Cyrus famous, but you know what I mean). To be more precise, it gave me readers — people who actually care what I have to say. I cannot possibly communicate my astonishment that this happened. For years now, I have been putting everything I’ve ever written online (or rather, everything I can legally put online). I don’t really know why this one caught fire. “Hermenutics” isn’t, I suspect, high on the list of most-googled terms, and while “screwing around” likely is, I imagine that most in search of content related to the latter are disappointed by the marked lack of prurience in a piece that mostly talks about libraries.

On the other hand, it shouldn’t have surprised me at all. For years, I had been tweeting things like, “Hey everybody! New blog post!” As with spam, someone always has to investigate further. But even if that response rate is minuscule, the effect might be just as the old shampoo ad put it: “I told two friends. And they told two friends. And so on and so on . . .” After a while, people started to read other things I’d written.

I’m uncomfortable telling this story, because it sounds like any number of absurd narratives (“rags to riches,” “the entrepreneurial spirit,” and so forth). But I cannot deny a very important aspect of this tale: it happened because the piece was open and online. It was, in other words, open access.

These days, we are likely to speak of open access in terms of the economics of publishing and libraries. Occasionally, we speak of open access as a way to make scholars’ work available to a wider public. What is seldom discussed, though, is the role of naked self-interest on the part of academics. If you’re interested in having readers (and you should be), does it really make sense to bury your work in the stacks of a research library to be discovered by the six graduate students who find it while researching “Hermeneutics–Data Processing”?

Back when I started working on digital libraries (as a graduate student, not too long after the Web appeared), one often heard professors talking about their fear of having their work “stolen” if they put it online. Twenty years on, one still hears it from time to time. We used to say, “You should be so lucky!” My work wasn’t stolen (so far as I know), but one thing I know for sure: I was so lucky, and I certainly wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t put it out there for all to see.

Hopefully, it will never be published.

 

Stephen Ramsay is Susan J. Rosowski Associate University Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Fellow at the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. He is interested in the digital humanities, theories of new media, theater history, applying computational methods to humanities scholarship, and designing and building text technologies for humanist scholars. His publications include Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism (University of Illinois Press, 2011) and, with Patrick Juola, the forthcoming Mathematics for the Humanist (Oxford University Press).

 

 

0

On the “Open Access Sting” Published in Science

Earlier this month, Science published a news article (“Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?”) by John Bohannon, a reporter and Harvard University biologist, that investigates the quality of the peer-review process at some fee-charging, Open Access journals in the life sciences. Bohannon submitted a credible, yet “hopelessly flawed” scientific article on cancer research to 304 relevant, fee-charging Open Access journals, 158 of which accepted it for publication It is worth noting that journals from the Public Library of Science, BioMed Central, and Hindawi, the three biggest Open Access publishers, rejected the paper outright.

The news of this study sparked spirituous debate in the blogosphere and the popular media (especially in the comments sections), oftentimes confounding its implications on the future of science, open access, and peer-review. As we approach Open Access Week (Oct. 21-27), it is important to consider what this article means in the broader context of scholarly communication.

“The takeaway shouldn’t be that Open Access is broken and not worth trying. Open Access is great and everyone believes that. It’s just a question of how to implement it.” – John Bohannon on NPR.

While Bohannon’s article uncovers problems in academic publishing, it is not clear that any of the problems are specific to Open Access. Bohannon specifically studied a subset of Open Access journals (many of which were known to be problematic) as a response to his colleague’s experience with a publishing scam, in which a fraudulent scientific journal collected publication fees from the author without performing any legitimate peer-review. Given the scope of this question and the nature of the fake research paper, the findings represent less than 4% of Open Access journals, of which less than 2% accepted the bogus paper (figures according to the Directory of Open Access Journals). Because the article did not study subscription based-journals, non-fee charging journals, non-English journals, and non-life sciences journals, it cannot be concluded that the problem is unique to Open Access.

One major effect of Bohannon’s work is the fascinating discussion on Open Access and peer-review that emerged in the wake of his article. Michael Eisen, a UC-Berkeley Biologist and co-founder of the Public Library of Science, suggests that the problem Bohannon’s study reveals is in the antiquated and opaque standards of the peer-review process. Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Office of Scholarly Communication, reminds us that Open Access is not just about publishing; to tie this news to Open Access is to ignore the far more popular Open Access archiving option (such as depositing work in Iowa Research Online or PubMed Central) which is compliant with most traditional publishing agreements. Not interested in reading other blogs? Take a listen to this Science Live Chat with John Bohannon on the response to his study.

News like this reminds us that changes in the scholarly publishing system can be far more nuanced than expected and that it is important to continue these discussions as members of the scholarly community.

0

The Open Library of Humanities

Open Library of Humanities

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit open access publisher of scientific research with the mission to accelerate progress in science and medicine. Each PLoS article is free to read and is available through a Creative Commons license, optimizing the ability for researchers to build upon the work. Since its founding in 2000, PLoS journals have risen to the top of their fields and has help revolutionize the ways in which scientists communicate their work. In the spirit of PLoS, the Open Library of Humanities (OLH) will bring sustainable open access publishing to the humanities.

The Open Access movement is partly a response to the rising costs of the traditional publishing system, but it is mostly an effort to bring scholarly communication into the age of the web. No longer bound by the timetables and infrastructure necessary for a print-based publishing system, the OLH will offer rigorous peer-review and publish each work online when it is ready and offer article-level metrics to track each work’s impact in the scholarly field.

The OLH is still in the early stages of planning but is expected to fill a much needed gap in open access options for humanities scholars. To get involved, you can subscribe to their email newsletter or contact Chris Diaz to receive updates as the project develops. Right now, the OLH is recruiting editors and is asking interested authors to Pledge to Publish in the OLH’s first year.

0

eLife Editor Wins Nobel Prize for Cellular Research

eLife

Image: eLifesciences.org

The 2013 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded to James E. Rothman, Thomas C. Sudhof and Randy W. Schekman for their research on cell transport systems. This work has strengthened the medical community’s understanding of neurological diseases, diabetes, and immunological disorders. Schekman, a Cell Biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, is a prominent support of Open Access publishing and is the Editor-in-Chief at eLife, an innovative Open Access journal in the biomedical sciences. eLife joins The Public Library of Science and PeerJ in offering a cutting-edge Open Access publishing platform for prestigious scientists to share their work, data, and rich media. eLife is currently free to publish (no author-side fees). For more information, please visit the journal’s website or watch the video.

0

Support for PeerJ Memberships via Open Access Fund

PeerJ Logo. License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Available: https://peerj.com/about/press/

PeerJ Logo. License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Available: https://peerj.com/about/press/

Calling all Biological and Medical scientists! The University Libraries is pleased to begin supporting PeerJ memberships for all interested University of Iowa faculty and researchers through the Open Access Fund. The University Libraries and the Office of the Provost established the Open Access Fund to pay the processing fees related to open access publishing.

Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.Peter Suber

PeerJ is an Open Access publisher of scholarly articles in the biological and medical sciences [full list of subject areas]. Rather than charging a per-article fee for making an article Open Access, PeerJ charges a one-time membership fee for authors [Breakdown of membership types]. All interested UI faculty, graduate students, and research should contact Michael Wright for more information about setting up a PeerJ membership.

0

MSNBC’s Morning Joe Discusses Big Data, Open Access, and Cancer Research

Kathy Giusti, co-founder of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), was featured on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this week to talk about how the open sharing of data can improve cancer research. The MMRF recently launched the MMRF Research Gateway to serve as an open access portal for data on Multiple Myeloma, a common form of blood cancer. The goal is to make the data openly available so that progress in cancer treatment can be accelerated. The MMRF Research Gateway requires registration, however non-profit academic, private, and governmental users can access the data free of charge. Watch the clip.

0

University of Iowa Authors Publish in Open Access Journals

lib-oa-faculty

Table of UI Open Access Publications

 

Table of University of Iowa faculty Members Publishing in Open Access Journals

Open Access journals are peer-reviewed and are freely available online to students, researchers, and the general public. As an alternative to the subscription-based model, Open Access publishing removes access barriers to increase the availability and impact of scholarly literature. University of Iowa authors have been publishing in Open Access journals since 2006. While Open Access journals provide free access to their content, they are not always free to publish. Some journals, particularly in the sciences, charge article-processing fees to cover the costs of publishing. Luckily, the Universities Libraries and the Office of the Provost have established the Open Access Fund to cover these fees. Not sure if Open Access is right for you? Browse this table of University of Iowa Open Access publications and consider if this route is right for you.

0

PeerJ Survey Shows High Author Satisfaction

PeerJ Logo. License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Available: https://peerj.com/about/press/

PeerJ Logo. License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Available: https://peerj.com/about/press/

The results of a survey of authors who submitted their research to PeerJ for publication were released today. The survey measures the satisfaction of authors from the first six-months of the journal’s publishing operations. With a 51% response rate, the results looks promising. Some highlights:

  • 92% of authors report having a “good experience” or better with publishing in PeerJ
  • 83% of authors intend to submit their future research, with 17% reporting “maybe,” depending on the subject appropriateness for the journal
  • 94% of authors would recommend PeerJ to a colleague

PeerJ is a peer-reviewed, open access publisher of research articles in the biological, medical, and health sciences. Operating on an author membership model, as opposed to article-processing fee model, member authors can submit articles for publishing after paying a one-time membership fee. For authors interested in soliciting feedback on works-in-progress, there is also a free PrePrints option.  [Read the announcement]

0

This week in Open Access: SHARE

Yesterday, the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) released a letter sent to John Holdren, the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), requesting copies of U.S. government agency plans to make the results of federally funded research freely available to the public. This follows up on a February 22nd, 2013, White House OSTP memorandum directing federal agencies that annually provide $100 million in funding for research and development to “develop a plan to support increased public access to the results of research funded by the Federal Government. This includes any results publishing in peer-reviewed scholarly publications.” The deadline for these proposals was August 22nd, 2013, and there has been no official word on the specifics of these plans yet.

To comply with these policy changes (once they take effect), the SHared Access Research Ecosystem (SHARE) has been proposed by the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grat Universities (APLU), and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). This system will leverage current digital repository infrastructure already in place and in use at large state and publically funded Universities to create a network of publically funded, open access research through a common metadata schema. Here at the University of Iowa, our digital repository system is called Iowa Research Online.

Toward the making SHARE a reality, the AAU, APLU, and the ARL announced yesterday the formations a Joint Steering Group comprised of University Administrators, Librarians, and Technologists was formed to see this project through completion. You can read more about SHARE here.

0

Standards and Recommended Practices for Altmetrics

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) recently announced a community-based, two-year project to develop standards and recommended practices for altmetrics. Altmetrics uses web traffic, social media, reference managers, and other online tools to provide a broader picture of an author’s scholarly impact than traditional, journal-level metrics provide. Not limited to research articles, altmetrics tracks the sharing and discussions of datasets, computer code, blog posts, slide decks, and other online modes of scholarly communication. Examples of altmetrics include Impact Story and Altmetric for Scopus. Altmetrics has drawn controversy, leaving skeptics concerned about its potential for abuse, such as artificially gaming page views, downloads, and social media sharing. In the announcement of this project, Todd Carpenter, NISO’s Executive Director, states: “The creation of altmetrics standards and best practices will facilitate the community trust in altmetrics, which will be a requirement for any broad-based acceptance, and will ensure that these altmetrics can be accurately compared and exchanged across publishers and platforms.” The creation and publication of altmetrics standards will take place over the next two years. Read the announcement.