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August 28, 2007

Add Your Thoughts to University Publishing in a Digital Age

We've noted in earlier entries the Ithaka Report titled University Publishing in a Digital Age.

Now the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan has released the Ithaka Report in CommentPress which allows readers to share online, paragraph by paragraph annotation and commentary of the Report. CommentPress was recently developed by the Institute for the Future of the Book to allow readers to share annotations and commentary on texts. The hope is that all of us that have a stake in the outcomes of the Ithaka Report will share our thoughts and commentary in this new forum.

Posted by Sarah Shreeves at 1:38 PM

August 27, 2007

Library & Information Science Journals - 30% are Open Access

Heather Morrison recently posted the following analysis on how many library science journals are open access, to her blog, the OA Librarian..  If you're interested in seeing the underlying data, she's posted it in an open access Google spreadsheet, LIS and the Gold Road.

You'll find that she's apparently not yet made an analysis of the LIS publishers or journals, just the gross numbers, comparing Ulrich's and the DOAJ.   Still, the percentage is impressive!

Heather Morrison, LIS literature and the gold road: 30% there! OA Librarian, August 25, 2007.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) currently lists 77 fully open access, peer-reviewed scholarly LIS journals. This list includes 2 titles with title changes, so the actual total is 75.

An Uhlrich's search for active, scholarly / academic refereed journals with "library" as a subject yields 246 titles.

This means that librarianship is already 30% of the way on the gold road, full open access publishing.

Analysis of recent journal start-ups is even more encouraging! For example, all of the journals listed in either DOAJ or Ulrich's with a start year of 2007 are open access. There are 9 journals in Uhlrich's with a start year of 2006, 8 in DOAJ (88%). There are more scholarly LIS journals with a start year of 2000 or later in DOAJ (39) than there are in Uhrich's (31)!

Posted by Katie Newman at 11:58 AM

August 22, 2007

BioMed Central Announces Open Access Publishing Agreement with Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute and BioMed Central have announced a membership agreement under which HHMI will pay the article processing charges for all research published by HHMI investigators in BioMed Central journals. Articles published under this agreement will be made immediately and freely available on the web in their final published form, and will be deposited in international archives including PubMed Central (PMC). The agreement between HHMI and BioMed Central takes effect for articles submitted after September 1, 2007.

This agreement complements HHMI's recently announced open access policy, which requires that the results of research funded by the Institute must be deposited in PubMed Central, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature, not more than six months after publication.

Posted by P. Kaufman at 7:18 AM

August 21, 2007

SciVee: Web Video for the Sciences

Thanks to if:book for word about SciVee, which could be a major innovation in science publishing. The National Science Foundation, the Public Library of Science and the San Diego Supercomputing Center have joined forces to launch SciVee, an experimental media sharing platform that allows scientists to synch short video lectures with paper outlines:

"SciVee, created for scientists, by scientists, moves science beyond the printed word and lecture theater taking advantage of the internet as a communication medium where scientists young and old have a place and a voice."

The site is in alpha and has only a handful of community submissions, but it's enough to give a sense of how useful it could become. Video entries can be navigated internally by topic segments, and are accompanied by a link to the full paper, jpegs of figures, tags, a reader rating system and a comment area.

Peer networking functions are supposedly also in the works, although this seems geared solely as a dissemination and access tool for already vetted papers, not a peer-to-peer review forum. It has the potential to grow into a resource not just for research but for teaching and open access curriculum building.

Hop on over to take a look at the pubcast and paper on the structural evolution of the protein kinase

Posted by P. Kaufman at 8:16 AM

August 20, 2007

Trying to Get More Court Rulings Online and for Free

Last week Carl Malamud, an activist who founded in March, with the broad intent of building “public works” accessible via the network, and with the specific plan to force the federal government to make information more publicly accessible, began a project that will challenge two large publishers who provide access to federal and state rulings for a fee.

Mr. Malamud has begun to use advanced computer scanning technology to copy decisions, which have been available only in law libraries or via subscription from the Thomson West unit of the Canadian publishing conglomerate Thomson, and LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier, based in London.

Mr. Malamud has already put about 1,000 pages of court decisions from the 1880s online.

You can read much more about this maverick's track record and plans in today's New York Times.

Posted by P. Kaufman at 9:59 AM

August 9, 2007

Yale Drops It's Pre-Pay Membership to BioMed Central

As widely reported in the media, Yale University has dropped it's institutional membership in BioMed Central.

This isn't a reflection on lack of support on Yale's part for the idea of open access. In fact, membership was dropped because Yale authors are apparently flocking to publish their articles in the openly accessible BMC journals, which then made the cost to the library - which was picking up the publication fees for the papers -- soar out of hand! There were 41 BMC papers published by Yale authors in 2006; already in 2007 there have been 43. (Note: The corresponding author, whose institution pays the publication fee, was not necessarily a Yale author in all these cases.) By taking an institutional "pre-pay" membership in BMC, the Yale Library had opted to try to pay the BMC author publication fees (via the Institutional Membership program) and these fees just got to be too much for them to bear as more and more Yale authors opted for publishing in BMC titles.

To be sure, the article charges for publishing in BMC journals have been rising, too. Yale authors can, of course, continue to publish in BMC journals, and it will be interesting to see how many still opt for this. They will have to pay the page charges out of their grant money, as over half of the BMC authors have been doing.

As David Stern, Yale's science librarian, reported in his posting:

The libraries’ BioMedCentral membership represented an opportunity to test the technical feasibility and the business model of this OA publisher. While the technology proved acceptable, the business model failed to provide a viable long-term revenue base built upon logical and scalable options. Instead, BioMedCentral has asked libraries for larger and larger contributions to subsidize their activities. Starting with 2005, BioMed Central article charges cost the libraries $4,658, comparable to a single biomedicine journal subscription. The cost of article charges for 2006 then jumped to $31,625. The article charges have continued to soar in 2007 with the libraries charged $29,635 through June 2007, with $34,965 in potential additional article charges in submission.

He goes on to conclude...

"We believe in the widest possible access to scholarly research supported by workable business models and should BioMed Central develop a viable economic model which allows them to more equitably share costs across all interested stakeholders, we would consider renewing our financial support. "

BMC Publisher, Matthew Cockerill, has of course replied to the Yale news, pointing out that the article processing charges that BMC charges are still less than most commercial publishers. He goes on to suggest that libraries consider the future where instead of purchasing some subscriptions to journals it may be a role of the library to support open access publishing for the greater good. From his posting:

That is why BioMed Central introduced its institutional membership scheme, which allows institutions to centrally support the dissemination of open access research in the same way that they centrally support subscription journals, thereby creating a 'level playing field'.

In order to ensure that funding of open access publication is sustainable, we have encouraged institutions to set aside a small fraction of the indirect funding contribution that they receive from funders to create a central open access fund.

It should be noted that BMC's Institutional Membership program, whereby universities (usually the library) pre-pay all or most of the author's article fees is not the only way in which the institution can show it's support for the BMC flavor of open access. BMC also offers a "Supporting Membership" which is not tied to the number of articles submitted from an institution; it offers a modest (usually 15%) reduction in the article publication charge.

At this point, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is neither an Institutional nor Supporting member of BMC.

Posted by Katie Newman at 1:34 PM

Report Tracks Search Engine Privacy

A report published recently by the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) tracks the efforts of the leading Internet search companies as they begin to compete aggressively with one another to offer stronger privacy protections. In a string of recent announcements, the companies announced steps they were taking to delete old user data, strip the personally identifiable information out of stored search records, and, in one case, give users the option to have all of their search records deleted. CDT's Search Privacy Practices report details and compares the revamped privacy policies of the five largest search providers and offers recommendations for both the industry and lawmakers for how to strengthen privacy protections further.

Posted by P. Kaufman at 1:23 PM

August 6, 2007

Flattening of the U.S. Output of Scientific Articles: 1988–2003

As reported in the Aug. 3 Science, a recent NSF analysis of U.S. scientific publishing output during the time period 1988-2003 shows that the number of articles produced has remained fairly constant in all areas of science.

National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics. 2007. Changing U.S. Output of Scientific Articles: 1988–2003. NSF 07-320. Derek Hill, Alan I. Rapoport, Rolf F. Lehming, and Robert K. Bell. Arlington, VA.

Please also visit the site for access to numerous Tables and Figures:
Appendix Tables

About the Study
The research examined the research output of the top 200 universities in the U.S. in the following areas:
Agricultural sciences
Biological sciences
Clinical medicine
Computer science
Medical sciences
Social sciences
U.S. output was compared with the output from the EU-15, Japan, and East Asia-4.

The analysis was performed by the NSF largely from data derived from Thomson Scientific's citation database. [Note: Thomson Scientific data forms the basis for the Web of Science and Journal Citation Reports, the source of journal "Impact Factors".]

From the Executive Summary

In an unexpected development in the early 1990s, the absolute number of science and engineering (S&E) articles published by U.S.-based authors in the world's major peer-reviewed journals plateaued. This was a change from a rise in the number of publications over at least the two preceding decades. With some variation, this trend occurred across different categories of institutions, different institutional sectors, and different fields of research. It occurred despite continued increases in resource inputs, such as funds and personnel, that support research and development (R&D).

In other developed countries—a group of 15 members of the European Union (the EU-15) and Japan—the absolute number of articles continued to grow throughout most of the 1992–2003 period. During the mid- to late 1990s, the number of articles published by EU scientists surpassed those published by their U.S. counterparts, and the difference between Japanese and U.S. article output narrowed. Late in the period, growth in the number of articles produced in some of these developed countries showed signs of slowing.

On the whole, the U.S. share of the world's S&E articles remained relatively more robust in biomedical fields than in the physical sciences and engineering, ...

Although the U.S. share of the world's influential articles dropped substantially, the United States remained dominant in this area. At the end of the period studied, U.S. institutions were at least partially responsible for half of the world's influential articles; no other major publishing center approached this figure. Moreover, compared with other major publishing centers, a considerably higher percentage of total U.S. output was classified as influential.

The U.S. academic sector, which dominates U.S. article production, largely mirrored the overall U.S. trends, although its growth in article output over the entire period compared favorably with that of other sectors. The most prestigious academic institutions, however, experienced relatively slow output growth. The increase in collaboration across national, institutional, and sectoral boundaries, which is most fully documented in academic sector data, was perhaps the most striking trend in S&E research and publication during this period.

The cause of this flattening remains a mystery. Several hypotheses from the Science article...

... Two popular ones offered by the bibliometric community include an aging scientific work force that is growing less productive as it nears retirement and an emphasis on quality over quantity in hiring, promotion, and other rewards. Diana Hicks of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta argues strongly for a third reason: Governments around the world have been demanding greater productivity from their scientists as the price for continued support. Many Asian countries have enhanced that effort "to extract latent capacity" with additional funding, she notes. The resulting increased flow of papers has "pushed out some mediocre work" by U.S. authors, Hicks says. But the effect is so subtle, she adds, that U.S. scientists "don't think to blame anybody but themselves."

Lehming favors a fourth cause: the steep learning curve associated with collaborative research, an increasingly popular mode of operation.

Also released at the same time was a paper that summarizes the views expressed when the NSF sent it's staff out into the field to talk to experienced researchers, to obtain their views on this puzzling data. See:

The Changing Research and Publication Environment in American Research Universities.

This report, a working paper being released concomitantly with the present report, summarizes the views of experienced observers and practitioners in research universities about how the worlds of academic S&E research and publication changed during the 15-year period between 1988 and 2003. The qualitative data in this exploratory report cannot answer these causal questions. But, in discussing some of the changes that occurred in how research is performed and disseminated, how universities function, and how researchers in universities divide their time among their various activities, this exploratory report may suggest some causal hypotheses that warrant further examination.

Posted by Katie Newman at 11:42 AM