31 October 2007

A new view on heritage

Thanks to Elena Maceviciute for this interesting picture: it shows the headquarters of the Federal Agency of Construction, Housing and Communal Services in Russia. One of its responsibilities is the construction work for preservation projects.

Google's experiments

Google's October newsletter points to new search developments. At Google Experimental you can try out, and give feedback on, a number of experimental features. These include a timeline presentation of results, a map view and the additional information view. There are also some keyboard shortcuts for navigating through search output and a couple of views that provide contextual navigation bars to the left or right of the search output. Of these, the timeline presentation and the keyboard shortcuts seem the most useful to me.

28 October 2007

ISIC-2008, Vilnius, Lithuania

The organizing committee for ISIC-2008 reminds everyone about the important dates of the international conference Information Seeking in Context 2008. The conference will be held in Vilnius on September 17-20, 2008. A doctoral workshop will be held in conjunction with the conference on September 16, 2008.

Conference paper submission deadline: February 1, 2008.

Doctoral workshop paper submission deadline: March 1, 2008.

For more information please visit the Website of the conference.

Contact person for the conference: Dr. Erika Janiuniene

The March 2008 issue of Information Research

Because of my need to make the journal publication year conterminous with the calendar year, there will be quite a long time gap between Volume 12, Number 4 (just published) and the first issue of Volume 13 in March 2008.

Consequently, I have decided that, for this issue, I shall publish the papers (and provide the index entries) and reviews on the site as they are ready and then publish the final paper(s) in March 2008 along with the contents page.

This introduces some oddities in relation to date of publication, since the formal publication date will be March 2008, but the papers will be actually published from, probably, November 2007 onwards. To overcome this, I shall add to the 'How to cite this paper' element on the page the information on when the paper was made available. A fictional example:

Carpenter, C. & Smith, P.A. (2008). "Web users' online information behaviour: marrying HCI and information behaviour" Information Research, 13(1) paper 333. [Available 14 November 2007 at http://InformationR.net/ir/13-1/paper333.html]

20 October 2007

OA and the lobby industry

Heather Morrison has another thoughtful piece on open access in her Weblog, suggesting that the publishers' anti-OA consortium PRISM has imploded.

I'm not too sure about this: PRISM is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of lobbying. We can be sure that the publishing industry is lobbying away vigorously, with people, rather than a Website and it's that personal lobbying that makes the difference, rather than what is on public view. My suggestion is that fellow OA advocates in the USA need to lobby just as vigorously, writing to their senators and congressmen/women and generally countering the misinformation that the lobbyists inevitably purvey. We've seen time and again under this US administration that the truth does not necessarily prevail; the key is how much money the industry is prepared to spend to swing the votes of the legislators, whether it is to damage the Alaskan environment by oil drillling, open the virgin forests of the national parks to the logging industry, or run the worst medical care programme in the Western world for the benefit of the drug companies and the mis-named 'health care industry'.

Constant vigilence and persistence in telling the truth about the warped economics of the existing scholarly communication system is the only weapon we have.

17 October 2007

Lessig moves to tackle corruption

Perhaps most readers of this Weblog are now aware that Lawrence Lessig - the motivating force behind Creative Commons - is shifting his sphere of interest to corruption in American political life. Now there's a target!

To catch up with what's going on, see an interview with him and listen to his lecture at Stanford Law School

There's interesting follow up on the Weblog.

Journal statistics

I'm sometimes asked, presumably by those who need to justify publishing in an electronic-only journal, about the journal's acceptance and rejection rates.

Fortunately, the journal management system we've adopted enables me to provide a more precise answer than previously. Under the system, we've handled 88 submissions, of which 68 went on to peer-review and of those:

24 (27%) were accepted, with revisions required;
30 (34%) were rejected, and
13 (15%) were required to be re-submitted.
(Presumably one is still in process)

Another useful statistic is that the average time to review has been 37 days - I don't know what the range is, but, certainly, some have taken much longer.

One additional point to bear in mind is that some of the papers that require extensive revision are never seen again.

16 October 2007

Information Research Volume 12 Number 4

The latest issue of Information Research (Vol. 12, No. 4) is now online. The index page for the journal as a whole is not yet online, but will be by about 22.00 GMT this evening.

An extract from the Editorial:

This is a bumper issue of Information Research as it includes a supplement containing the proceedings of the 6th Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science (CoLIS 6) as well as the usual clutch of papers and reviews.

I shan't say much about the CoLIS Proceedings, since they have their own introduction, except to thank the Editors, and particularly Nils Pharo, who have spent a great deal of time in getting the papers into publishable form. Without their efforts it would have been completely impossible to publish the proceedings so quickly after the conference.

It has not been possible, however, to put the papers through the usual copy-editing and revision process used by the journal, so readers may find the occasional typographic error or other blemish. It is for this reason that the papers are published as a supplement, with their own numbering series, rather than as papers in the main part of the journal.

Read the rest of the Editorial

15 October 2007

Scholarly communication symposium

Thanks to Peter Suber's Open Access News for alerting me to the symposium on The Future of Scholarly Communication, which is being run, online, by Princeton University's Center for Information Technology Policy.

The starting point for the Symposium is a report from a non-profit organization called Ithaka on University Publishing In A Digital Age - not a great deal of attention is paid to open access in the report and when it is mentioned we have the usual, false equation of open access with author charging;

The academic community seems to be looking to open access models as a solution to these challenges. But while open access may well be a sustainable solution in STM disciplines, where federal and private research grants can conceivably be extended to support publication fees, one model will not serve as a panacea.

Why is it that the notion of collaborative, subsidised, open-access publishing continues to escape the attention of bodies like this when there are now so many examples of its effectiveness? It is all the more curious in a report aimed at considering the future of university publishing, when that future could include collaboration across institutions to promote subsidised, genuinely 'open' journals.

In spite of all their work it seems that, in the end, the report's authors are too timid to explore the logical consequences of the technological revolution that has hit scholarly communication: they, like the publishing industry generally, are mired in the present patterns of communication, but those patterns are changing irrevocably and numerous alternative new patterns may evolve as habits change. One possibility lies in an analogy with the music industry, which has similarly been hit by technological change: the unit of interest is now the 'track', not the CD or the 'album', and iTunes and other providers offer a delivery service for tracks. One future model of scholarly communication could see collaborative peer reviewing in disciplines leading to archived papers that are delivered as tracks are today - the individual (who is always going to be more interested in the paper than in the journal as a whole) downloads papers of interest, and universities provide the finance for the open archive rather than subscriptions to the now-defunct journals.

In small, niche areas this could happen quite quickly: for example, if a free, open access journal already exists, which is operating a standard peer-review process, it already has the characteristics of an open archive of papers and no-one ever downloads the entire journal issue. The papers are found, predominantly, by the search engines and the individual paper is downloaded or read - further collaboration among interested universities could see the expansion of the journal until it covers virtually the entire output of the niche area.

Or perhaps it will be all down to authors announcing their papers on their Weblogs and making them available without peer review and letting the scholarly community make up its collective mind about the quality, accuracy, etc. Again, the parallel with the music industry is there: bands are ignoring the record companies and putting their music straight on the Web.

Whatever happens, and, given the First Law of Forecasting, we can be sure that the future will be nothing like what the Ithaka report suggests, and nothing like what I have suggested :-)

09 October 2007

OA move by a TA publisher

Three friends and colleagues have recently drawn my attention to a letter they have received from Benthan Science Publishers - a relatively small outfit in the STM world, with 79 highly priced titles. Bentham is seeking Editorial Board members for a new 'open access' (i.e., author charges) journal, The Open Information Science Journal. This is part of a move on the publisher's part to create 200 new 'open access' titles across a range of disciplines and to be, in its own words, "...the largest publisher of quality open access journals..." Sure - the world needs another 200 journals desperately, doesn't it?

Curiously, the Open Information Science Journal is not listed at the Bentham Open site, which presumably means that the editorial arrangements have not yet been established.

Bentham may have a hard time with trying to implement author charging in the information science field, where there are no precedents, where the research community is relatively small and where the existing quality journals are more than sufficient to satisfy the output of quality papers. The author charges quoted by Bentham are:

  • Letters: The publication fee for each published Letter article submitted is $600.

  • Research Articles: The publication fee for each published Research article is $800.

  • Mini-Review Articles: The publication fee for each published Mini-Review article is $600.

  • Review Articles: The publication fee for each published Review article is $900.

Bentham may also have a hard time getting editors and editorial board members for some of their journals - all three of my colleagues have turned down the invitation to join the Editorial Board

The interesting aspect of this move is that a publisher has seen a business opportunity in author charging - there is no doubt, judging from my more than 25 years experience of editing journals that there are many poor quality papers around with authors desperate to get them published. How likely is it that a publisher, whose business model requires author charges, will resist the tempation to accept what the quality journals consider to be dross?

05 October 2007

More on open access

Thanks to the BOAI Forum and Steven Harnad for drawing attention to the paper ©Copyright and research: an archivangelist’s perspective© by A.A.Adams, which refutes another paper by K. Taylor (Copyright and research:an academic publisher's perspective.

It's a well-argued piece and my only complaint is that, once again, the case for what I have called the Platinum Route of collaboration and subsidy is ignored and 'Gold OA' is associated with author payments.

With today's technology, collaboration in the production of a journal is very straightforward and, rather than subsidising journal publishers by allowing time for editorial work and peer reviewing, universities could be subsidising OA journals in the same way. The only office you need is Microsoft Office - and, really, not even that - you can get by with a browser and an html editor. There will be questions about how far this model scales and, as far as I am aware, no OA journal published on this basis has yet reached the point at which the question becomes important. There are many niche research areas with relatively low numbers of active researchers who can be provided for under this model and scalability is only an issue in terms of dealing with submissions. Scalability in use is not an issue, since the technology can cope.

I noted in an earlier post that the JISC in the UK invested well over £300,000 in author payments to publishers, when the same amount of money could have got to subsidising new OA journals. I wonder if anyone is listening?

02 October 2007

Open Access in non-OA journal

It's always ironic when papers on OA are published in non-OA journals. Such is the case with a couple of papers in the current LIBER Quarterly:

One is "Embedding Open Access into the European Landscape – the Contribution of LIBER" by Paul Ayris:

Abstract. This paper continues an earlier published history of the OAI Workshops, organised under the aegis of the LIBER Access Division, in CERN Geneva. It discusses the OAI5 Workshop, held on 18-20 April 2007, which underlines the emerging importance of Open Access to support information provision and exchange across Europe.

The other is "Public Policy and the Politics of Open Access" by David C. Prosser:
Abstract In the five years since the launch of the Budapest Open Access Initiative in February 2002, one of the most striking developments in the scholarly communications landscape has been the increasing interest taken in open access at a policy level. Today, open access (in the form of both self-archiving and open access journals) is routinely discussed and debated at an institutional-level, within research-funding bodies, nationally, and internationally. The debate has moved out of the library and publisher communities to take a more central place in discussions on the ‘knowledge economy’, return on investment in research, and the nature of e-science. This paper looks at some of the public policy drivers that are impacting on scholarly communications and describes the major policy initiatives that are supporting a move to open access.

The first of these doesn't look particularly fascinating, but I would have like to have the possibility of reading the second, without having to subscribe, but to do that I have to wait six months.