SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATIONS ISSUES:

A Newsletter for the UIUC Community

Issue No. 9 January 14, 2002


Paula Kaufman, University Librarian (editor)

Happy New Year. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading these news briefs throughout the fall and we look forward to bringing you more news about issues in scholarly communications in the coming months. Here’s what’s been reported since 2001 ended and 2002 began.

SCHOLARLY WORK AND PUBLISHING IN THE HUMANITIES

Two new and interesting studies focus on publishing and scholarly work in the humanities.

Under the auspices of the Knight Higher Education Collaborative, the Association of Research Libraries and the National Humanities Alliance convened a group of scholars, publishers, and librarians to continue and focus discussions from a previous group (the results of which were disseminated in the report "To Publish and Perish" (http://www.irhe.upenn.edu/pp-pubs/V7N4.pdf), to see if they might not come to a different set of conclusions regarding the dissemination of scholarly results in the humanities and social sciences. The group’s report, "Op. Cit.", makes six recommendations: 1) broaden the conception of the audience that scholarly work in the humanities and social sciences should address; 2) explore the potential of technology to help expand both the number of those who can benefit from scholarly materials in the humanities and social sciences and the kinds of material that can be made available to them; 3) preserve the centrality of academic peer review as a means of certifying quality; 4) establish active and continuing partnerships that allow different stakeholders to benefit from one author’s experience, expertise, and financial resources as changes in markets and technology recast the dynamics of scholarly publishing; 5) educate scholars about copyright and related issues; and 6) consider new models for meeting the costs of scholarly communication and publication. You can read the report at http://www.irhe.upenn.edu/pp-pubs/V10N3.pdf

The Council on Library and Information Resources has just released its fascinating new report, "Scholarly Work in the Humanities and the Evolving Information Environment." The study examines how humanities scholars conduct and collate their research in the changing information environment. The results provide powerful suggestions of ways in which academic libraries can change and develop in a rapidly-changing environment. The study leaves little doubt that humanities scholars have adapted well to rapid technological change. Working with research faculty, libraries have an opportunity to learn how to support scholarships better with new technologies while encouraging scholarly adoption and use of those technologies. In another finding, the study reports that although humanities scholars embrace digital finding aids, abstract, indexing, and citation services, and online journals, these scholars have yet to be convinced of the value of digital editions of primary research materials. The study’s subjects were selected faculty at UIUC and the University of Chicago. To read the entire report, go to http://www.clir.org/pubs/abstract/pub104abst.html

INFORMATION LITERACY AS A WORLDWIDE PROBLEM

What do al-Quaeda terrorists and American college students have in common? Both seem to have a hard time evaluating the credibility of sources they find. In a recent BBC news report, journalists found copies of materials about how to build nuclear bombs in an abandoned al-Quaeda location in Kabul. After they showed some of the documents on television, viewers recognized the text as a 1979 parody of a bomb-building text from the Journal of Irreproducible Results. (Outsell’s e-briefs, December 7, 2001).

 

The end of every calendar year always brings with it reflections of the past year and predictions for the future. Here’s a sampling for 2001/2002:

OPTIMISM IN E-PUBLISHING?

Although e-publishing suffered a series of setbacks last year, Wired magazine still found plenty of optimism about the future of e-books. Michael S. Hart of Project Guttenberg, which offers books in electronic form, says: "The number of e-books available for free download on the Net will pass 20,000. The number of Net users will start heading towards 1 billion." Librarian Cynthia Orr, a co-founder of BookBrowser.com, thinks e-publishers should pay more attention to libraries, and says that if the major publishers worked with librarians or distributors "to figure out how to let libraries purchase or license their e-books, and let readers 'check them out' for free," that would help build "a market that otherwise threatens to just collapse for lack of interest. Librarians have been careful defenders of copyright over the years ... and our budgets are far higher than they realize." And Mark Gross, president of Data Conversion Laboratory, thinks that the e-publishing has already won a stealth war: "What people forget is e-books were going strong before they were called e-books and they went on

to sweep into many aspects of business and publishing. Most of this has gone unnoticed by the media. Probably because it has been a kind of backdoor revolution. To cite one example: Print law books are just about gone. People don't use them in law firms anymore. It's all electronic books or online. A revolution has occurred, but no one's noticed." (Wired 25 Dec 2001)

http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,49297,00.html

 

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE NOT EXPECTING MUCH

With the lead "Practicing gloom journalism in these times takes about as much imagination as a Donald Rumsfeld speech", this is what Publisher’s Weekly saw as "some pretty safe bets" for 2002:

REFLECTIONS ON CYBER LAW

The New York Times asked six legal experts about 2001’s most important developments in law and technology:

Barry Steinhardt, ACLU

Cass Sunstein, University of Chicago Law School

Pamela Samuelson, UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt)

Charles S. Sims, Proskauer Rose

Ivan Fong, General Electric Corporation

Ian Ballon, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips

ARE WE HITTING THE MARK?

We’ll be back with another issue in a couple of weeks. Please let me know if there are topics you’d like to see covered and send me any other suggestions you have to make this newsletter more interesting and relevant to you.

Paula Kaufman, University Librarian, ptk@uiuc.edu