Archive for the 'Publishing' Category

All Hindawi Journals Now Open Access

Posted in E-Journals, Open Access, Publishing, Scholarly Communication on February 21st, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Hindawi’s EURASIP Journal on Advances in Signal Processing and International Journal of Mathematics and Mathematical Sciences journals are now open access, finishing the conversion of Hindawi’s 64 journals to the open access model.

Excerpt from the press release:

"We didn’t have a firm time frame for completing our OA transition when we started this process in late 2004," said Ahmed Hindawi, co-founder and CEO of Hindawi. "However, we are pleased to have completed the process in a bit over two years. Now that we have the legacy publishing model behind us, it is time to fully concentrate on aggressively growing our OA publishing program."

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Washington DC Principles for Free Access to Science Coalition Statement

Posted in Open Access, Publishing, Scholarly Communication on February 21st, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Hard on the heels of the "Brussels Declaration on STM Publishing" by STM publishers, the Washington DC Principles for Free Access to Science Coalition has issued a statement condemning the Federal Research Public Access Act and similar measures.

An excerpt from the press release follows:

"The long tradition of methodical scientific inquiry and information sharing through publication in scholarly journals has helped advance medicine to where it is today," said Martin Frank of the American Physiological Society and coordinator of the coalition. "We as independent publishers must determine when it is appropriate to make content freely available, and we believe strongly it should not be determined by government mandate."

The Coalition also reaffirmed its ongoing practice of making millions of scientific journal articles available free of charge, without an additional financial burden on the scientific community or on funding agencies. More than 1.6 million free articles are already available to the public free of charge on HighWire Press.

"The scholarly publishing system is a delicate balance between the need to sustain journals financially and the goal of disseminating scientific knowledge as widely as possible. Publishers have voluntarily made more journal articles available free worldwide than at any time in history — without government intervention," noted Kathleen Case of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The Coalition expressed concern that a mandatory timetable for free access to all federally funded research could harm journals, scientists, and ultimately the public. Subscriptions to journals with a high percentage of federally funded research would decline rapidly. Subscription revenues support the quality control system known as peer review and also support the educational work of scientific societies that publish journals.

Undermining subscriptions would shift the cost of publication from the publisher who receives subscription revenue to the researcher who receives grants. Such a shift could:

Divert scarce dollars from research. Publishers now pay the cost of publication out of subscription revenue; if the authors have to pay, the funds will come from their research grants. Nonprofit journals without subscription revenue would have to rely on the authors’ grant funds to cover publication costs, which would divert funding from research.

Result in only well-funded scientists being able to publish their work. The ability to publish in scientific journals should be available equally to all.

Reduce the ability of journals to fund peer review. Most journals spend 40% or more of their revenue on quality control through the peer review system; without subscription income and with limitations on author fees, peer review would suffer.

Harm those scientific societies that rely on income from journals to fund the professional development of scientists. Revenues from scholarly publications fund research, fellowships to junior scientists, continuing education, and mentoring programs to increase the number of women and under-represented groups in science, among many other activities.

Prominent open access advocates Stevan Harnad and Peter Suber have both critiqued the statement in detail.

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The Brussels Declaration: You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows

Posted in Open Access, Publishing, Scholarly Communication on February 15th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

The recent "Brussels Declaration on STM Publishing" by major scholarly publishers, such as Elsevier and Wiley, can be boiled down to: the scholarly publishing system ain’t broke, so don’t try to fix it. It provides an interesting contrast to the 2004 "Washington DC Principles for Free Access to Science" by not-for-profit publishers, which outlined a variety of strategies for making content freely available.

Sadly, it suggests that the "Brussels Declaration" publishers fail to fully understand that the decades-old serials crisis has deeply alienated several generations of librarians, who are their primary customers. Publishers count on libraries being captive customers because scholarly publishing is monopolistic in nature (e.g., one journal article does not substitute for another article) and, consequently, demand is relatively inelastic, regardless of price. However, it is a rare business that thrives by alienating its customers. As the SPARC initiative and similar efforts illustrate, many librarians want to dramatically change the existing scholarly publishing system.

Driven by endless library serials cuts for journals in their disciplines, a growing belief that scholarly literature needs to be freely available for global scholarship to flourish, and excitement over the new potentials of digital publishing, scholars increasingly want to change the system as well. As has often been noted, the open access movement is not anti-publisher, but it is publisher-neutral, meaning that, as long as certain critical functions (such as peer review) are adequately performed, it does not matter how freely available scholarly works are published.

In my view, publishers add significant value to scholarly journals and other works. Some of these value-added functions are currently difficult to replicate; however, given technological advances in open-source digital publishing software, the number of these functions has been dwindling. A key question is: How long will it be before the most difficult production-oriented functions can be easily replicated, leaving non-technical functions, such as branding and prestige, to be dealt with? Another is: How long will it be before viable new modes of scholarly publishing, supported by open source software, are developed that compete with existing publishing models?

The clock is ticking. The more intransigent publishers are, the stronger the incentive for those who want change to improve open source publishing tools, to fund low-cost or open access publishing alternatives, to seek remedies from governments and other organizations that fund research, and to develop new modes of scholarly publishing.

Dialog, openness to new funding strategies and publishing practices, compromise, and imagination may serve publishers better in the long run than denial, rigidity, and attack. A more flexible outlook may reveal opportunities, not just dangers, in a scholarly publishing system in flux.

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NISO Shared E-Resource Understanding Working Group

Posted in Licenses, Publishing, Scholarly Communication on February 13th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

If you are tired of negotiating a license for every commercial information product that you purchase, there may be hope on the horizon.

The NISO Shared E-Resource Understanding Working Group (SERU), co-chaired by Karla Hahn, Association of Research Libraries, and Judy Luther, Informed Strategies, is addressing this issue.

Here is the group’s charge:

The working group is charged with developing Recommended Practices to be used to support a new mechanism for publishers to sell e-resources without licenses if they feel their perception of risk has been adequately addressed by current law and developing norms of behavior.

The document will be an expression of a set of shared understandings of publisher and library expectations regarding the sale of an electronic resource subscription. Negotiation between publisher perspectives and library perspectives will be needed to develop a useful set of practices.

The working group will build on considerable work to identify key elements of a best practices document already begun during a one-day meeting sponsored by ARL, ALPSP, SSP, and SPARC. All of the participants in that scoping meeting expressed a strong desire to continue to work on this project and form the proposed working group to develop best practices.

A recent article provides more details about SERU as does its FAQ.

There is also a mailing list. Send a message to SERUinfo-subscribe@list.niso.org to subscribe.

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American Society for Cell Biology Issues Open Access Position Paper

Posted in Open Access, Publishing, Scholarly Communication on February 6th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) has issued an open access position paper ("ASCB Position on Public Access to Scientific Literature").

Here is an excerpt:

The ASCB believes strongly that barriers to scientific communication slow scientific progress. The more widely scientific results are disseminated, the more readily they can be understood, applied, and built upon. The sooner findings are shared, the faster they will lead to new scientific insights and breakthroughs. This conviction has motivated the ASCB to provide free access to all of the research articles in Molecular Biology of the Cell two months after publication, which it has done since 2001. . . .

Some publishers argue that providing free access to their journal’s content will catastrophically erode their revenue base. The experience of many successful research journals demonstrates otherwise; these journals make their online content freely available after a short embargo period that protects subscription revenue. For example, as noted above, the content of Molecular Biology of the Cell is free to all after only two months, yet the journal remains not only financially sound, but profitable. The data clearly show that free access and profitability are not mutually exclusive.

Our goal should be to make research articles freely available as soon as feasible so that science and the public benefit from their expanded use and application. At the same time, it is important that nonprofit societies and other publishers generate sufficient revenues to sustain the costs of reviewing and publishing articles. We believe that a six-month embargo period represents a reasonable compromise between the financial requirements of supporting a journal and the need for access to current research.

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New Yorker Google Book Search Article

Posted in Copyright, E-Books, Publishing, Scholarly Communication on January 29th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

The New Yorker has published an article about Google Book Search by Jeffrey Toobin in its February 5, 2007 issue ("Google’s Moon Shot: The Quest for the Universal Library").

Here’s a quote from the article:

Google asserts that its use of the copyrighted books is "transformative," that its database turns a book into essentially a new product. "A key part of the line between what’s fair use and what’s not is transformation," Drummond said. "Yes, we’re making a copy when we digitize. But surely the ability to find something because a term appears in a book is not the same thing as reading the book. That’s why Google Books is a different product from the book itself." In other words, Google says that being able to search books on its site—which it describes as the equivalent of a giant library card catalogue—is not the same as making the books themselves available. But the publishers cite another factor in fair-use analysis: the amount of the copyrighted work that is used in the creation of the new one. Google is copying entire books, which doesn’t sound "fair" to the plaintiff publishers and authors.

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Blackwell Synergy Based on Literatum Goes Live

Posted in Publishing on January 15th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Blackwell Publishing has released a new version of Blackwell Synergy, which utilizes Atypon’s Literatum software.

From the press release:

Blackwell Synergy enables its users to search 1 million articles from over 850 leading scholarly journals across the sciences, social sciences, humanities and medicine. The redesign provides easier navigation, faster loading times and improved access to tools for researchers, as well as meeting the latest accessibility standards (ADA section 508 and W3C’s WAI-AA).

Recently, the University of Chicago Press picked Atypon as a technology partner to provide an e-publishing platform for its online journals.

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digitalculturebooks

Posted in Digital Presses, Open Access, Publishing, Scholarly Communication on January 12th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

The University of Michigan Press and the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library, working together as the Michigan Digital Publishing Initiative, have established digitalculturebooks, which offers free access to digital versions of its published works (print works are fee-based). The imprint focuses on "the social, cultural, and political impact of new media."

The objectives of the imprint are to:

  • develop an open and participatory publishing model that adheres to the highest scholarly standards of review and documentation;
  • study the economics of Open Access publishing;
  • collect data about how reading habits and preferences vary across communities and genres;
  • build community around our content by fostering new modes of collaboration in which the traditional relationship between reader and writer breaks down in creative and productive ways.

Library Journal Academic Newswire notes in its article about digitalculturebooks:

While press officials use the term "open access," the venture is actually more "free access" than open at this stage. Open access typically does not require permission for reuse, only a proper attribution. UM director Phil Pochoda told the LJ Academic Newswire that, while no final decision has been made, the press’s "inclination is to ask authors to request the most restrictive Creative Commons license" for their projects. That license, he noted, requires attribution and would not permit commercial use, such as using it in a subsequent for-sale product, without permission. The Digital Culture Books web site currently reads that "permission must be received for any subsequent distribution."

The imprint’s first publication is The Best of Technology Writing 2006.

(Prior postings about digital presses.)

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Has Authorama.com "Set Free" 100 Public Domain Books from Google Book Search?

Posted in Copyright, E-Books, Open Access, Publishing, Scholarly Communication on January 10th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

In a posting on Google Blogoscoped, Philipp Lenssen has announced that he has put up 100 public domain books from Google Book Search on Authorama.

Regarding his action, Lenssen says:

In other words, Google imposes restrictions on these books which the public domain does not impose*. I’m no lawyer, and maybe Google can print whatever guidelines they want onto those books. . . and being no lawyer, most people won’t know if the guidelines are a polite request, or legally enforceable terms**. But as a proof of concept—the concept of the public domain—I’ve now ‘set free’ 100 books I downloaded from Google Book Search by republishing them on my public domain books site, Authorama. I’m not doing this out of disrespect for the Google Books program (which I think is cool, and I’ll credit Google on Authorama) but out of respect for the public domain (which I think is even cooler).

Since Lenssen has retained Google’s usage guidelines in the e-books, it’s unclear how they have been "set free," in spite of the following statement on Authorama’s Books from Google Book Search page:

The following books were downloaded from Google Book Search and are made available here as public domain. You can download, republish, mix and mash these books, for private or public, commercial or non-commercial use.

Leaving aside the above statement, Lenssen’s action appears to violate the following Google usage guideline, where Google asks that users:

Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

However, in the above guideline, Google uses the word "request," which suggests voluntary, rather than mandatory, compliance. Google also requests attribution and watermark retention.

Maintain attribution The Google ‘watermark’ you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it.

Note the use of the word "please."

It’s not clear how to determine if Google’s watermark remains in the Authorama files, but, given the retention of the usage guidelines, it likely does.

So, do Google’s public domain books really need to be "set free"? In its usage guidelines, Google appears to make compliance requests, not compliance requirements. Are such requests binding or not? If so, the language could be clearer. For example, here’s a possible rewording:

Make non-commercial use of the files Google Book Search is for individual use only, and its files can only be used for personal, non-commercial purposes. All other use is prohibited.

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Will Self-Archiving Cause Libraries to Cancel Journal Subscriptions?

Posted in E-Journals, E-Prints, Institutional Repositories, Libraries, Open Access, Publishing, Scholarly Communication on December 21st, 2006 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

There has been a great deal of discussion of late about the impact of self-archiving on library journal subscriptions. Obviously, this is of great interest to journal publishers who do not want to wake up one morning, rub the sleep from their eyes, and find out over their first cup of coffee at work that libraries have en masse canceled subscriptions because a "tipping point" has been reached. Likewise, open access advocates do not want journal publishers to panic at the prospect of cancellations and try to turn back the clock on liberal self-archiving policies. So, this is not a scenario that any one wants, except those who would like to simply scrap the existing journal publishing system and start over with a digital tabula rosa.

So, deep breath: Is the end near?

This question hinges on another: Will libraries accept any substitute for a journal that does not provide access to the full, edited, and peer-reviewed contents of that journal?

If the answer is "yes," publishers better get out their survival kits and hunker down for the digital nuclear winter or else change business practices to embrace the new reality. Attempts to fight back by rolling back the clock may just make the situation worse: the genie is out of the bottle.

If the answer is "no," preprints pose no threat, but postprints may under some difficult to attain circumstances.

It is unlikely that a critical mass of author created postprints (i.e., author makes the preprint look like the postprint) will ever emerge. Authors would have to be extremely motivated to have this occur. If you don’t believe me, take a Word file that you submitted to a publisher and make it look exactly like the published article (don’t forget the pagination because that might be a sticking point for libraries). That leaves publisher postprints (generally PDF files).

For the worst to happen, every author of every paper published in a journal would have to self-archive the final publisher PDF file (or the publishers themselves would have to do it for the authors under mandates).

But would that be enough? Wouldn’t the permanence and stability of the digital repositories housing these postprints be of significant concern to libraries? If such repositories could not be trusted, then libraries would have to attempt to archive the postprints in question themselves; however, since postprints are not by default under copyright terms that would allow this to happen (e.g., they are not under Creative Commons Licenses), libraries may be barred from doing so. There are other issues as well: journal and issue browsing capabilities, the value-added services of indexing and abstracting services, and so on. For now, let’s wave our hands briskly and say that these are all tractable issues.

If the above problems were overcome, a significant one remains: publishers add value in many ways to scholarly articles. Would libraries let the existing system of journal publishing collapse because of self-archiving without a viable substitute for these value-added functions being in place?

There have been proposals for and experiments with overlay journals for some time, as well other ideas for new quality control strategies, but, to date, none have caught fire. Old-fashioned peer review, copy editing and fact checking, and publisher-based journal design and production still reign, even among the vast majority of e-journals that are not published by conventional publishers. In the Internet age, nothing technological stops tens of thousands of new e-journals using open source journal management software from blooming, but they haven’t so far, have they? Rather, if you use a liberal definition of open access, there are about 2,500 OA journals—a significant achievement; however, there are questions about the longevity of such journals if they are published by small non-conventional publishers such as groups of scholars (e.g., see "Free Electronic Refereed Journals: Getting Past the Arc of Enthusiasm"). Let’s face it—producing a journal is a lot of work, even a small journal that only publishes less than a hundred papers a year.

Bottom line: a perfect storm is not impossible, but it is unlikely.

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Journal 2.0: PLoS ONE Beta Goes Live

Posted in E-Journals, Open Access, Publishing, Scholarly Communication on December 21st, 2006 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

The Public Library of Science has released a beta version of its innovative PLoS ONE journal.

Why innovative? First, it’s a multidisciplinary scientific journal, with published articles covering subjects that range from Biochemistry to Virology. Second, it’s a participative journal that allows registered users to annotate and initiate discussions about articles. Open commentary and peer-review have been previously implemented in some e-journals (e.g, see JIME: An Interactive Journal for Interactive Media), but PLoS ONE is the most visible of these efforts and, given PLoS’s reputation for excellence, it lends credibility to a concept that has yet to catch fire in the journal publishing world. A nice feature is the “Most Annotated” tab on the home page that highlights articles that have garnered reader commentary. Third, it’s an open access journal in the full sense of the term, with all articles under the least restrictive Creative Commons license, the Creative Commons Attribution License.

The beta site is a bit slow, probably due to significant interest, so expect some initial browsing delays.

Congratulations to PLoS on PLoS ONE. It’s journal worth keeping an eye on.

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JSTOR to Offer Purchase of Articles by Individuals

Posted in E-Journals, General, Publishing on December 19th, 2006 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Using a new purchase service, individuals will be able to purchase JSTOR articles for modest fees (currently $5.00 to $14.00) from publishers that participate in this service. JSTOR describes the service as follows:

An extension of JSTOR’s efforts to better serve scholars is a new article purchase service. This service is an opt-in program for JSTOR participating publishers and will enable them to sell single articles for immediate download. Researchers following direct links to articles will be presented with an option to purchase an article from the publisher if the publisher chooses to participate in this program and if the specific content requested is available through the program. The purchase option will only be presented if the user does not have access to the article. Prior to completing an article purchase users are prompted to first check the availability of the article through a local library or an institutional affiliation with JSTOR.

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