15 March 2012

The new RCUK guidelines on open access

The new guidelines from the RCUK reveal a certain amount of dithering over the issue.  First, there is the usual conflation of 'open' access and author-charging, with no suggestion at all of preferring genuinely open journals that do not require authors to pay for the inclusion of their papers, nor any notion that Research Council funds might be used to support 'platinum' open access of the kind practised by Information Research. The fact that we are now in our 17th year of publication ought to be enough evidence that the model can work, and direct subsidy from the research councils would encourage the development of similar journals.

Secondly, there's a lack of consistency over the embargo period, with different councils tolerating different periods of time:

No support for publisher embargoes of longer than six months from the date of publication (12 months for research funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)).
The fact that, presumably, agreement could not be obtained suggests that the AHRC and the ESRC are in deeper thrall to the publishers than are the science, medicine and technology councils. And the fact is that any embargo period is a contradiction of the Councils' avowed aim of ensuring open access to research findings.  Given the pace of developments, especially in science, a six-month embargo period could mean that researchers in developing countries in particular proceed in research directions that would prove unproductive in the light of research published within that six-month period.

The biggest laugh of all is occasioned by the Council's claim:

Free and open access to publicly-funded research offers significant social and
economic benefits. The Government, in line with its overarching commitment to
transparency and open data, is committed to ensuring that such research should be
freely accessible.
In fact, as the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee noted in its report, "Free for all"
It is discouraging that the Government  does not yet appear to have given much
consideration to balancing the needs of the research community, the taxpayer and
the commercial sectors for which it has responsibility. (Paragraph 22) 
and the Government of the day ignored the Committee's recommendations and no Government since then has done anything at all to pick up on those recommendations.  This is called "buttering up to the government" - let's not disturb the status quo too much, lads, otherwise our peerages and knighthoods may be at risk. And, as far as governments of all descriptions are concerned, the same applies - let's not disturb business too much, otherwise where will we get our highly paid, non-executive directorships when the electorate turn us out of office?

The lack of real progress towards genuine open publishing - let's forget 'open access' since it allows bodies such as this to fudge the issues - is down to matters such as this - self-interest on the part of both politicians and research council leaders, timidity on the part of university administrators, and fear on the part of the academic community at large.

13 March 2012

An interesting 'infographic'

Readers might find this graphic display of the development of means for organizing information of interest:


01 March 2012

The browser wars

It's quite a while since I posted anything on the browsers used to access Information Research, but my attention was drawn to this by one of counter services I use.  Way back, Internet Explorer had the lion's share, with, if I recall aright, more than 80% of the hits.  Things have changed:

IE - all versions - 39.2%
Firefox - all - 26.2%
Chrome - all - 13.2%
Opera - all - 1.2%

Phone browsers - all - 1.2% (Nokia contributes 0.8%)
Miscellaneous browsers and bots - 16.4%

That leaves 2.6% missing - lost in cyberspace.

If Msoft is no longer quite so dominant in the browser business - a fact largely due at this point to the success of Firefox (although Chrome is beginning to bite), in the operating system world it is a different picture.
Windows (all versions) - 75%
Unknown  -  16%
Mac OSX  -  4.0%
Linux  -  3.4%
Phone OS  -  1.6% (led by Sybian - Nokia - with 0.8%)

There are a couple of interesting things to note here:  Linux is almost as popular as OSX - possibly having to do with the computer-oriented part of the readership of the journal; and the fact that the mobile OS do not figure very largely. Presumably Windows will get a further boost, given the new connection between Nokia and Microsoft, but the iPhone and the iPad appear to be very little used by readers of the readership.  My guess is that the use of IOS - Apple's mobile OS - will grow, given the sales success of various versions of the iPhone and the iPad - but they have a long way to go, even to reach the 3.4% 'market share' of Linux.