Through an international effort known as SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consrotium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics) a number of key journals in high energy/particle physics are moving towards open access. Journals in this group include Physical Review C and D, Physics Letters B, Nuclear Physics B, and several others. CERN, which is overseeing the process, announced on July 17th that the tendering process was complete. The University of Iowa Libraries has supported SCOAP3 since its earliest days.
Ever since the University of Missouri announced on May 24 that it was closing its Press, university presses have been generating quite a bit of discussion. In the last few days several items of interest have appeared.
On July 6, The Iowa City Press-Citizen interviewed Jim McCoy, the director of The University of Iowa Press, about the future of the UI Press (“University presses seek out new roles and new markets“). McCoy said “we have an incredibly supportive administration who understands that we fill a necessary function. … We bridge the gap between research and teaching.” He also noted that they are very small in terms of people but publish a far higher number of books per staff member each year than other presses. He emphasized the value of working with the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, Prairie Lights and The UI Libraries.
Inside Higher Ed published an opinion piece on July 9 by Marshall Poe of Iowa’s history department (“What Can University Presses Do?“). Poe would like to see presses move towards open access publishing and new modes of outreach. This item generated quite a few comments from people familiar with university presses and is worth reading for the responses it has generated.
On July 10, The Chronicle of Higher Education included an interview with Patrick Alexander, the head of the Penn state University Press, by Adeline Koh (“Is Open Access a Moral or a Business Issue? A Conversation with The Pennsylvania State University Press“). This is the 3rd piece Koh has written in her series “Digital Challenges to Academic Publishing”. This interview discusses differences between STEM publishing and humanities publishing
Pamela Samulelson writes about Google books, orphan works, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and the possibility of reforming copyright law in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
” Copyright should be shorter in duration, more balanced, more comprehensible, and normatively closer to what members of the public think that it means or should mean.
Although we are not likely to get comprehensive reform anytime soon, perhaps we can persuade Congress to make some more modest reforms.
We know it is now possible for the cultural and scientific heritage of humankind to be made available through a universal digital library such as the DPLA. It would be a grievous mistake not to bring that future into being when it is so clearly within our grasp.”
In a recent blog post Kevin Smith of Duke takes up the issue of open access publishers who have been labeled “predatory” for various reasons. Quoting from the post:
In an online age, criteria that are well-established in libraries for avoiding these predatory toll-access journals now must be shared more widely because researchers may unwittingly spend research funds on equally low-quality OA journals. But to call this an open access problem is to blind ourselves to its full scope and is, I fear, often motivated more by the desire to bring OA itself into disrepute, to “scare the children,” as I like to call it, than it is by a desire to protect the entire system of scholarly communications. …The problem we should be addressing is predatory publications, OA and subscription-based, and publishing ethics across the board….
…So I repeat, we should make our decisions about quality on the basis of neutral criteria that can be applied to any business model and not allow the legitimate concern over predatory practices to become a weapon used against only a single publishing option.
Inside Higher Ed reports that the drama over a copyright lawsuit filed by the Association of American Publishers against Georgia State University continues.
Following a ruling largely negative to the AAP, the plaintiffs have proposed an injunction which “…would prohibit Georgia State professors from making unauthorized copies that are not “narrowly tailored to accomplish the instructor’s educational objectives” and do not “constitute the ‘heart of the work’ ” from which they are excerpted, among other criteria.”
Read the fully story by Steve Kolowich at http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/06/04/publishers-seek-injunction-e-reserve-case
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that “Judge Denny Chin on Thursday denied the company’s requests to dismiss professional associations as plaintiffs, and granted a motion to accord members of the Authors Guild status as a class in the lawsuit brought by three of its members.”
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.”
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:
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.
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.