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Altmetrics: Trying to Fill the Gap

Judy Luther’s recent post on Scholarly Kitchen highlights developments in Altmetrics, the movement to extend the measurement of the impact of scholarly research beyond the traditional metric of journal impact. Among other efforts, she mentions the article-level metrics (ALM) in development at PLoS.

Read more: http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2012/07/25/altmetrics-trying-to-fill-the-gap/

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US News & World Report takes on academic journal publishing

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.

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High Energy Physics Journals Move toward Open Access

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.

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Interview with Gita Manaktala from MIT Press

The fourth post in Adeline Koh’s series Digital Challenges to Academic Publishing in The Chronicle of Higher Education  is “What is the Future of Academic Publishing? An Interview with Gita Manaktala from MIT Press”. Koh asks about open access publishing of monographs, alternative peer review, libraries as publishers and the future of University Presses. Makaktala states:

There are many possible futures for the scholarly monograph. Ultimately its fate is not in the hands of university presses, which have struggled to keep it alive in spite of declining readership. (Academic libraries have likewise struggled to support the monograph despite falling circulation.) The future depends on whether scholars themselves value the monograph enough to keep reading it. If so, funding models for monographs can and will be found.

The full interview can be read at http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/what-is-the-future-of-academic-publishing-an-interview-with-gita-manaktala-from-mit-press/41335.

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UK announces open access requirement for articles based on gov’t funded research

On July 16th the British government announced that it would require articles published on the basis of publicly funded research to be published in open access form. Portions of the announcement follow. An article in the Guardian describes the plan in more detail and reports some reactions.

“The government has announced that it will make publicly funded scientific research available for anyone to read for free, accepting recommendations in a report on open access by Dame Janet Finch.

This will likely see a major increase in the number of taxpayer-funded research papers freely available to the public.

Science Minister David Willetts said:

“Removing paywalls that surround taxpayer funded research will have real economic and social benefits. It will allow academics and businesses to develop and commercialise their research more easily and herald a new era of academic discovery.”

Among the recommendations that have been accepted by the Government are:

  • Moving to deliver open access through a ‘gold’ model, where article processing-charges are paid upfront to cover the cost of publication.
  • Walk-in rights for the general public, so they can have free access to global research publications owned by members of the UK Publishers’ Association, via public libraries.
  • Extending the licensing of access enjoyed by universities to high technology businesses for a modest charge.”
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University Presses

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

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Reforming Copyright

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.”

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Predatory Publishers, or “Scaring the Children”

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.

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A New World for Libraries and University Presses?

More and more research libraries are using patron-driven acquisitions (PDA), a service where their patrons choose the titles libraries purchase (usually e-books) by actually using them.  PDA can allow a library to only buy books that someone reads, and pass on those that aren’t used.  But university presses — which rely on these libraries for sales — often publish titles that garner very little readership. If the libraries — or their users — aren’t buying, how will the presses cope? Soon-to-be published research by Joe Esposito offers some insights. Click here for the story by Steve Kolowich in Inside Higher Ed.

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Report calls for accelerating transition to open access publishing in UK

A government commissioned report titled “Accessibility, Sustainability, Excellence: How to Expand Access to Research Publications” calls for Britain “embrace and help accelerate the transition to the open-access publishing of research results.”  We called attention to this expected recommendation in a May 3rd posting. According to reporting in  the Chronicle of Higher Education “[t]he report’s main recommendation is that ‘a clear policy direction should be set towards support for publication in open-access or hybrid journals as the main vehicle for the publication of research, especially when it is publicly funded.’”