About Author: Edward Shreeves

Posts by Edward Shreeves


White House petition calls for open access to federally funded research results

Under the sponsorship of Access2Research a White House petition has been initiated that calls for open access to journal articles published as a result of federally funded research. The Access2Research web site urges:

“Sign the petition to require free access over the Internet to journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research. This will require you to create an account at the White House petition website, confirm the account by clicking on a link in your email, and then sign the petition itself. 

25,000 signatures in 30 days gets an official Administration response. We want to hit that number – blow it out of the water – to escalate this issue inside the White House. We believe the idea of requiring free access has support but is stuck. This could well be the event that gets it through.”


University Press group criticizes GSU ruling

The Association of American University Presses has issued a statement critical of the ruling in the Georgia State case and some of its interpretations, especially by librarians.

“We believe it is premature and unwise for anyone to declare victory or defeat. The ruling is 347 pages long and not easy to understand, its interpretation of the law is controversial and unprecedented in several important respects, and it appears to make a number of assertions of fact that are not supported by the trial record.”


More on Georgia State ruling: ARL Issue Brief by Brandon Butler

Brandon Butler, Director of Public Policy Initiatives at the Association of Research Libraries has written an eight page Issue Brief discussing the recent ruling in the Georgia State case in some detail. The Executive Summary appears below:

Executive Summary

The case concerns the use at Georgia State University (GSU) of electronic course reserves and electronic course sites to make excerpts from academic books available online to students enrolled in particular courses. The named plaintiffs in the case are three academic publishers (Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Sage), but an early filing in the case confirmed that the lawsuit was in fact being funded 50% by the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) and 50% by the Association of American Publishers (AAP). The plaintiffs argued that the unlicensed posting of digital excerpts for student access almost always exceeded fair use and should require a license.

Although the decision is certainly not perfect (the use of bright line rules for appropriate amount under factor 3 is particularly troubling), Judge Evans has written a thorough and thoughtful analysis of the issues, and her opinion represents an overwhelming victory for Georgia State individually, a major defeat for the plaintiff publishers and for the AAP and CCC, and overall a positive development for libraries generally. The substance of the opinion is not ideal, but it is far more generous than the publishers have sought, it establishes a very comfortable safe harbor for fair use of books on e-reserve, and libraries remain free to take more progressive steps.


Elsevier allows experimental text mining of its journals at UBC

In an agreement with the University of British Columbia (UBC) Elsevier recently agreed to allow researchers there to text-mine Elsevier content for a number of purposes. The agreement came about through the efforts of Heather A. Pinowar, a post-doc at UBC whose “work depends on text mining, using computers to automatically pull certain kinds of information from large amounts of text, including databases of journal articles.”  See details in Jennifer Howard’s article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.


More coverage of Georgia State ruling.

See Jennifer Howard in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Steve Kolowich inInside Higher Ed. You can read the entire decision here.


Ruling on Georgia State case favors University over publishers.

The long-awaited ruling in the suit against Georgia State brought by the academic publishers came down Friday and seems to largely favor the University. Jennifer Howard writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education :

A federal judge in Atlanta has handed down a long-awaited ruling in a lawsuit brought by three scholarly publishers against Georgia State University over its use of copyrighted material in electronic reserves. The ruling, delivered on Friday, looks mostly like a victory for the university, finding that only five of 99 alleged copyright infringements did in fact violate the plaintiffs’ copyrights.

See additional coverage in Inside Higher Ed:

At the same time, however, the judge imposed a strict limit of 10 percent on the volume of a book that may be covered by fair use (a proportion that would cover much, but by no means all, of what was in e-reserves at Georgia State, and probably at many other colleges). And the judge ruled that publishers may have more claims against college and university e-reserves if the publishers offer convenient, reasonably priced systems for getting permission (at a price) to use book excerpts online. The lack of such systems today favored Georgia State, but librarians who were anxiously going through the decision were speculating that some publishers might be prompted now to create such systems, and to charge as much as the courts would permit.

For further analysis of the decision see http://laboratorium.net/archive/2012/05/13/inside_the_georgia_state_opinion by James Grimmelmann and http://blogs.library.duke.edu/scholcomm/2012/05/12/the-gsu-decision-not-an-easy-road-for-anyone/ by Kevin Smith.


British government announces plans to make publicly funded research reports open access

The British government announced on Wednesday that it would take steps to require open access publication of research based on government funding. The govenment spokesman, as reported by Jennifer Howard in the Chronicle of Higher Education, did not specify how the published research would be made available.  Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, will be advising the government on standards and other matters. The article reports a response by a spokesman from Springer Verlag.

“Throwing its weight behind open access, the British government has declared it wants to make all research paid for with public money freely available online. If it succeeds, the move is likely to have significant consequences for publishers, and will boost the international momentum of the open-access movement. But the government won’t share details about how it will make the plan a reality.”

In reaction the Guardian in a May 9 article observes that a primary mode of financing open access publishing, with article fees paid by the author or author’s institution, is discriminatory and favors those with “deep pockets.” The article points out:

“A major problem with the APC model is that it effectively shifts the costs of academic publishing from the reader to the author and therefore discriminates against those without access to the funds needed to meet these costs. Among those excluded are academics in, for example, the humanities and the social sciences whose research funding typically does not include publication charges, and independent researchers whose only means of paying the APC is from their own pockets. Academics in developing countries in particular face discrimination under APC because of their often very limited access to research funds.”



Modern Language Association issues new guidelines for evaluating digital work

Articles in Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education describe the MLA’s new guidelines and quote from their contents.

“Institutions and departments should develop written guidelines so that faculty members who create, study, and teach with digital objects; engage in collaborative work; or use technology for pedagogy can be adequately and fairly evaluated and rewarded,” says the MLA guidance. “The written guidelines should provide clear directions for appointment, reappointment, merit increases, tenure, and promotion and should take into consideration the growing number of resources for evaluating digital scholarship and the creation of born-digital objects. Institutions should also take care to grant appropriate credit to faculty members for technology projects in teaching, research, and service.”

“Digital media are transforming literary scholarship, teaching, and service, as well as providing new venues for research, communication, and the creation of networked academic communities,” the updated guidelines say. “Academic work in digital media must be evaluated in the light of these rapidly changing technological, institutional, and professional contexts, and departments should recognize that many traditional notions of scholarship, teaching, and service are being redefined.”


Harvard Faculty Advisory Council: “Major Periodical Subscriptions Cannot Be Sustained.”

In a statement dated April 17th, Harvard’s Faculty Advisory Council, in a memo to all faculty, stated:

We write to communicate an untenable situation facing the Harvard Library. Many large journal publishers have made the scholarly communication environment fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive. This situation is exacerbated by efforts of certain publishers (called “providers”) to acquire, bundle, and increase the pricing on journals.

For the full statement, see http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k77982&tabgroupid=icb.tabgroup143448

The memo goes on to point out that Harvard’s costs for these publishers now approaches $3.75 million. Iowa’s costs for the three largest publishers (presumably the same group, though precisely which are included in the Harvard figure is not clear) is expected to be around $3.2 million in FY2012. While the figure quoted is said to be around 10% of Harvard’s total acquisitions budget, $3.2 million is over 20% of Iowa’s total.

The memo concludes with a strong statement and list of suggested actions, worth quoting at length. Note that DASH is equivalent to our own Iowa Research Online, though unlike Harvard, Iowa does not have an open-access policy (aka “mandate”).

It is untenable for contracts with at least two major providers to continue on the basis identical with past agreements. Costs are now prohibitive. Moreover, some providers bundle many journals as one subscription, with major, high-use journals bundled in with journals consulted far less frequently. Since the Library now must change its subscriptions and since faculty and graduate students are chief users, please consider the following options open to faculty and students (F) and the Library (L), state other options you think viable….

1. Make sure that all of your own papers are accessible by submitting them to DASH in accordance with the faculty-initiated open-access policies (F).

2. Consider submitting articles to open-access journals, or to ones that have reasonable, sustainable subscription costs; move prestige to open access (F).

3. If on the editorial board of a journal involved, determine if it can be published as open access material, or independently from publishers that practice pricing described above. If not, consider resigning (F).

4. Contact professional organizations to raise these issues (F).

5. Encourage professional associations to take control of scholarly literature in their field or shift the management of their e-journals to library-friendly organizations (F).

6. Encourage colleagues to consider and to discuss these or other options (F).

7. Sign contracts that unbundle subscriptions and concentrate on higher-use journals (L).

8. Move journals to a sustainable pay per use system, (L).

9. Insist on subscription contracts in which the terms can be made public (L).


Interview with High Wire Press on digital publishing

The second in a series of interviews by Adeline Koh on scholarly publishing and the digital environment appears in yesterday’s Chronicle of Higher Education.  See “The Printing Press of the Digital Environment: A Conversation with Stanford’s Highwire Press.”

From the interview: 

We like to see scholars and authors being bold and experimentative, not just waiting for terms to be given to them. While it’s true that certain structures of academia, such as tenure criteria, may tend to operate conservatively, on the other hand change happens eventually, and we see many signs of impending change, even disruption — for example with online education, education-related startups, altmetrics, and academic social networks (e.g. ResearchGate, Academia.edu, Mendeley).