In a long piece online at its web site, Simon Owens of US News and World Report offers an overview of academic (chiefly scientific) journal publishing and the rise of open access. See “Is the Academic Publishing Industry on the Verge of Disruption?” Starting with the recent Harvard letter on journal prices (see Transitions for April 23, 2012), the article reports on moves toward open access publishing, and resistance from commercial “closed access” publishers.
Peer Review Category
“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.”
University of Iowa Provost Barry Butler and ten other University Provosts from Big Ten institutions have issued a public statement opposing the Research Works Act and supporting taxpayer access to federally funded research results, such as that mandated by NIH.
“Because of our strong belief in open sharing of information, we were disturbed to see that recently introduced legislation (The Research Works Act, H.R. 3699) called for a rollback of the progress being made toward opening communication channels for sharing publicly funded research findings with the American people. Were this bill to pass, it would reverse a 2008 administrative mandate by the National Institutes of Health that grantees deposit the results of their funded research in a publicly accessible archive, and prohibit other agencies from issuing similar mandates going forward. We believe that this legislation would significantly undermine access to the new ideas that result from government-funded research, access that we encourage to the public at-large, to a worldwide network of leading scholars, and to future generations of scholars who are today’s undergraduate and graduate students. In our view, ratification of the proposed legislation would represent a step backward in the ongoing enlightenment of society through research and education”
The Provosts’ call for a “local agenda” on their respective campuses is especially encouraging for those long engaged with these issues:
“In addition to our concern about the impact external entities have in shaping the research and communication agenda of our universities, we are cognizant that senior campus administrators and faculty leaders could be working more effectively to ensure that their own campus policies are aligned with professed campus norms. Some examples of how we might do more to influence campus behaviors include:
- Encouraging faculty members to retain enough rights in their published intellectual property that they can share it with colleagues and students, deposit it in open access repositories, and repurpose it for future research.
- Ensuring that promotion and tenure review are flexible enough to recognize and reward new modes of communicating research outcomes.
- Ensuring that our own university presses and scholarly societies are creating models of scholarly publishing that unequivocally serve the research and educational goals of our universities, and/or the social goals of our communities.
- Encouraging libraries and faculty to work together to assess the value of purchased or licensed content, and the appropriate terms governing its use.”
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2012/02/23/essay-open-access-scholarship#ixzz1nDbenvbl
Inside Higher Ed
Dr. David Rosenthal, engineer and co-creater of LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) recently spoke on the topic of Open Access at the University of British Columbia.
He choseto look at five audiences where OA may have an effect: general public, researchers, libraries, publishers, and software developers. He discusses his thoughts on peer-review or in his opinion bad peer-reviewing and whether or not open access increases or decreases bad research publishing; the creation of the big deal journal bundling by publishers to fight off the cost decrease due to the transition to Web publishing and lack of library initiative to fight off the big deals; and how the increase of OA data versus OA articles might be more beneficial for researchers. Essentially, he believes a combination of reducing publication costs, finding new technology driven publishing models, less restrictions on intellectual property and publishing of better quality articles may be the issues that face the future of research and that OA may just be a way to work on those real issues.
The full transcript of this talk can be found on his blog: http://blog.dshr.org/2011/10/what-problems-does-open-access-solve.html.
PLoS One, an author-pays open access journal, has achieved great success while offering a new model for peeer review and rapid publication. It is tied for second among journals in frequency of publication by Iowa authors, and comes in third for number of citations to articles published by Iowa researchers. Michael Eisen in this blog post comments on its success and the imitators it has spawned in its wake:
“So it has given me considerable pleasure to watch, over the past year or so, as one traditional publisher after another has responded to the smashing success of PLoS One by launching direct ripoffs that seek to capitalize on the business model we have established.”
See “PLoS Won” http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=686
Clones mentioned by Eisen include:
- The American Society for Microbiology’s mBio
- The Genetics Society of America’s G3
- BMJ Open
- Company of Biologists Biology Open
- Nature’s Scientific Reports
- Cell Press’s Cell Reports
- The Royal Society’s Open Biology
- SAGE Open
Peer review: What is it good for?, Science in the Open, 5 Feb 2010, posted by Cameron Neylon:
There remains much reverence of the traditional process of peer review. I may be over interpreting the tenor of Andrew Morrison’s editorial in BioEssays but it seems to me that he is saying, as many others have over the years “if we could just have the rigour of traditional peer review with the ease of publication of the web then all our problems would be solved”. Scientists worship at the altar of peer review, and I use that metaphor deliberately because it is rarely if ever questioned. Somehow the process of peer review is supposed to sprinkle some sort of magical dust over a text which makes it “scientific” or “worthy”, yet while we quibble over details of managing the process, or complain that we don’t get paid for it, rarely is the fundamental basis on which we decide whether science is formally published examined in detail.
. . .Whatever value [peer review] might have we largely throw away. Few journals make referee’s reports available, virtually none track the changes made in response to referee’s comments enabling a reader to make their own judgement as to whether a paper was improved or made worse. Referees get no public credit for good work, and no public opprobrium for poor or even malicious work. And in most cases a paper rejected from one journal starts completely afresh when submitted to a new journal, the work of the previous referees simply thrown out of the window.
. . .Journals need to acknowledge the papers they’ve rejected, along with dates of submission. Ideally all referees reports should be made public, or at least re-usable by the authors. If full publication, of either the submitted form of the paper or the referees report is not acceptable then journals could publish a hash of the submitted document and reports against a local key enabling the authors to demonstrate submission date and the provenance of referees reports as they take them to another journal.
In my view referees need to be held accountable for the quality of their work. If we value this work we should also value and publicly laud good examples. And conversely poor work should be criticised.
Nature News, 7 May 2010, by Declan Butler:
A scientist in Switzerland is seeking to patent a system for peer reviewing and publishing scientific papers online, Nature has learned.
Henry Markram, a neuroscientist and publishing entrepreneur who works at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, last year filed internationally for a broad patent on systems for interactive online peer review and publishing open-access journals.
The application, says Markram, was filed mainly to protect a fleet of author-pays, open-access journals published by the Lausanne-based Frontiers Media, a company he created in 2008 with his wife Kamila Markram, another neuroscientist at the EPFL.
…The main innovative features of both the journals and the patent, says Markram, are real-time evaluation of papers and a high degree of automation. Software matches articles to potential reviewers, and authors and referees discuss comments and revisions in an online forum, for example.
The result is just like an Internet discussion group, with editors and authors able to follow comment threads in real time, says Robert Harvey, a molecular neuroscientist at the School of Pharmacy, University of London, who has experience of Frontiers journals as both an editor and an author.