20 November 2013

Problems with the Information Research site

The site has been down since last Friday, when some server reassignments were put into effect at Lund and the DNS connection for the journal was lost. It is possible, however, to access the site by using a different url: http://www.informationr.net/ir/ Normally, we don't use "www" in the url and why this works, I have no idea!

18 November 2013

Server problems with Information Research

Some time over the weekend both Information Research and the journal management site went down. The folk at Lund are now aware of this and exploring what the problem may be. Apologies for the inconvenience this may cause - we'll be back up and running as soon as possible.

18 October 2013

Abstracts for a conference on publishing, Pula, Croatia, December 2013

Three members of the research team in Boras have been asked to give papers at this conference in December. You can find the abstracts on the Project blog or, if you favour Flipboard, you'll find them copied to the 'News on e-books' magazine.

10 September 2013

Open Access in the UK reviewed again

In the UK, Parliament's Business, Innovation and Skill Committee has published its report on the state of OA in the UK. In doing so they come the conclusion that the policy advocated by the Finch Committee that the route to take was the Gold route of "OA journals" (i.e., more money in the pockets of publishers) was mistaken and that more should be done to promote the Green route of depositories. So far, so good, and it gets better: not only are the publishers hammered for their excess profits, but the Committee recommends that author payments should be made only to "true" OA journals (like Information Research) and not to the "hybrid" OA journals, i.e., those that make author charges, but also charge subscriptions. It also recommends that the government should work to lower the VAT charge on e-journals (print journals in the UK are not subject to VAT at all). All in all, this seems like an excellent piece of parliamentary committee work. I haven't yet read it in its entirety, but look forward to discovering what those who submitted evidence had to say. The Finch Committee was stacked in favour of the publishers, since three or four of is members were publishers. It is interesting to see when a less biased group of people consider the situation!

14 August 2013

How to write badly :-)

I'm reading, for review in Information Research, Michael Billig's "Learn to write badly: how to succeed in the social sciences" - which I guess will offend many of his fellow social scientists, but which I find an absolute joy. If you want to know what is wrong with academic writing, read this book - and reform your ways :-)
Here's just one of many, many quotable pieces:
Certainly the big words can provide the means to academic success in the social sciences, for it is professionally advantageous to be an expert in a particular ization or ification - and better still to be known as the inventor of an ization or ification. Yet, like cigarettes and alcohol, these big words should come with warnings. If one looks closely at them - more closely than most social scientists normally do, especially those who are regular users - they can flatter to deceive. Often our social scientific izations or ifications provide only the appearance of technical advance and precision. We should remember that all that glitters is not the product of aurification.
Information science is not immune to the creeping izations and ifications, nor to another of Billig's themes - the nounification of the world - removing people from sentences, along with the verbs. We're familiar with the kind of noun phrase that Billig point to like the Umpire Decision Referral System he mentions - which, of course, gets abbreviated to UDRS. No verbs, you notice - and no real meaning. You have to either know about cricket, or get someone to help you to understand what it is. If it is a system for referring the decisions made by umpires, what are those decisions referred to? Nounification does not make things precise, but more obscure. I could probably find many examples in the information science literature if I tried!

20 July 2013

Further thoughts on e-book publishing

Having now seen all versions of "Theory in information behaviour research" I can confirm that the best version to buy is that available through the Apple iBookstore. This is hardly surprising, since the book was designed with iBook Author and intended for publication through Apple. The problem with the Smashwords conversions is that the formatting varies from version to version and figures, in particular, cause problems of location relative to the text - sometimes the figure caption appears on a different page from the figure itself, for example. All of this varies with the device or app on which the book is read and if you have an IOS device, buy the iBookstore version, not the EPUB version available through Smashwords.

18 July 2013

Publishing an e-book

I have recently been engaged in publishing an e-book. A couple of years ago I got an idea for a book, collected a number of colleagues to write chapters, and approached a publisher. Interest was expressed and things were going nicely until a new person was appointed to the liaison role - she wanted some changes, to which I was not prepared to agree, and so we parted company. I suggested to my colleagues that we should go ahead with an electronic publication, and they agreed. By May this year the text was ready - all chapters had been submitted and reviewed in a kind of peer review by everyone. I had been exploring Apple's iBooks Author for some time and decided to use it to convert the Word documents - not automatically, but by cutting and pasting! Ultimately, everything was ready and submitted to the Apple iBookstore by the end of May. How things proceeded can be found in a post in our e-books research project blog. I also began to explore how to deliver the book to other platforms and decided to use Smashwords. This involved converting the .iba file back to a properly formatted Word .doc file according to the Smashwords' style manual - a non-trivial task. The process of working with Smashwords is also the subject of a blog entry. The book, "Theory in information behaviour research", edited by myself and with chapters on Activity Theory, Critical Theory, Personal Construct Theory, Personality Theory, Practice Theory, Social Cognitive Theory, Social Phenomenology, and Theoretical approaches in Russia and Eastern Europe, is now available both in the Apple iBookstore and, for non-Apple devices and apps, in the Smashwords store. It is priced at a modest $9.99 - less than the cost of a paperback book, in the hopes that students will find it not only of interest, but affordable, and all royalties go to support the publication of Information Research.

15 June 2013

The "News on e-books" Flipboard magazine

Those who have signed up to this Flipboard magazine (for iPad, iPhone and Android devices) will have seen that it has quickly developed a large reader-base - 5,620 readers just a moment ago. My colleague Elena Maceviciute has become a contributor, bringing her knowledge of other languages. I had already started "flipping" stories in German, French, Swedish, Portuguese and Spanish (Danish and Norwegian also pop up from time to time) - now Elena can add Russian, Lithuanian, Polish, and, at a pinch, one or two other eastern European languages, as well as doing a better job with the Scandinavian languages. I can't provide a link to a Website for this, since Flipboard is not available for desktop machines (yet) - but, if you have an appropriate device you can easily check it out - simply put "News on e-books" in the Flipboard search box and one of the first things on the list will be the magazine.

30 May 2013

The problem of plagiarism

One of the most difficult things an journal editor has to deal with is plagiarism, which is often difficult to spot in a casual read-through – which is why, in Information Research, we specifically ask reviewers to check for plagiarism. I receive an alert from Google Scholar giving information on papers that cite my publications. One of these was a paper published in the DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology – “Information Seeking and Searching Behaviour of Dental Science Professionals in Karnataka, by U. Umesha and M. Chandrashekara Here I found two paragraphs where my words had been used without being placed within inverted commas, to indicate that they were in fact quotations. When this is done, the assumption is that the words are those of the authors themselves and, when they are not, the result is referred to as plagiarism. One of the offending pieces reads:
Information Searching Behaviour [3] is the ‘micro-level’ behaviour employed by the searcher in interacting with information systems of all kinds, it may be a human computer interaction (use of the mouse and clicks on links) or at the intellectual level (adopting a Boolean search strategy or determining the criteria for deciding relevant one) involve mental acts, such as judging the relevance of data or information retrieved. Information use behaviour, consists of the physical and mental acts involved in incorporating the information found into the person's existing knowledge base. It may involve, therefore, physical acts such as marking sections in a text to note their importance or significance, as well as mental acts that involve, for example, comparison of new information with existing knowledge [3].
These are entirely my words found in the paper referenced, which appeared in Informing Science. Consequently, to avoid the charge of plagiarism, the authors needed to make this clear by the use of quotation marks, as follows:
"Information Searching Behaviour is the ‘micro-level’ behaviour employed by the searcher... comparison of new information with existing knowledge" [3].
Why is this small distinction (the use of the inverted commas) important? Simply because anyone reading this paper and citing it may use part of the text in a paper of their own and attribute the words to the authors, rather than to the originator. I would not have raised this issue publicly but for the fact that I wrote to the editor, in a friendly way, acknowledging that it was difficult for an editor to spot these kinds of offences, and suggesting that, as the journal is electronic, it is an easy matter to make the correction and to notify the authors that this has been done. The editor failed to respond, and also failed to respond to a follow-up message a few weeks later.

14 May 2013


Receiving, as I do, books for review, I'm often staggered by the amount of packing provided for a single book. An example arrived today: the book (a slim paperback of 186 pages) weighs 302 grams, the packaging 122 grams. The picture shows that one could get about six such books into the available space in the box! I wonder how much the publisher is charged for post and packing by the agency sending it out. (That agency is itself a subsidiary of the Hachette company.) Clearly the notion of protecting the environment hasn't yet hit the publishing industry.

Bogus organizations?

Two of my colleagues on the journal have received a rather odd e-mail from someone claiming to represent the "American Society of Science and Engineering" - an organization of which I have never previously heard. As the e-mail address bore no relationship to those on the Society's Website, but used the domain "163.com", I contacted the Society to advise them that their identity might have been stolen. (The 163.com Website is entirely in Chinese, which made me even more suspicious!). The message stated: "The purpose of this email is to inquiry about the possibility of cooperation with your journal… In the mutual-beneficial cooperative relationship, we can do publicity, promotion and collect papers for your journal, and we can guarantee the quantity and quality of the papers we provide. Moreover, we will also pay the publication fee if any. I wonder if we can sign a publication agreement upon the cooperation." This sounds very much like one of the new, bogus, open access, "scholarly journal" scams and I was therefore rather surprised to get a response from the Society stating: "Thank you for your reminding and cooperation! Actually, ASSE has some cooperation with some Chinese orgnizations, for example, the information below stated, and you could contact with them if possible!" Which now makes me even more suspicious about this Society! Not only is the message grammatically illiterate, it gives me no information about the nature of the relationship it has with the Chinese organization, nor why that organization is contacting my Associate Editors. Is the American Society of Science and Engineering a bona fide organization, or is it, too, bogus?

06 May 2013

The impact of social media

As readers of Information Research may have noticed, I have started to use links to Facebook, Twitter and various bookmark sharing services at the bottom of each paper in the journal. The service, from AddThis.com, provides information on the number of clicks these links receive and the resulting 'clicks-back' to the relevant paper. The number of resulting hits, divided by the original clicks provides a measure of what they call "viral lift", i.e., the additional hits resulting from the social media links. This provides some kind of measure of the 'popularity' of a paper, which the usual citation indexes cannot. A citation can mean many things: agreement with the propositions in a paper, refutation of those propositions, mere token acknowledgement of its place in the literature, or whatever. A social media link presumably means: "I've read this and you might find it interesting". What one cannot know, of course, is how many of those referred to a paper from a Facebook or Twitter link would have found the paper without such help. However, over time, we may be able to contrast the hits on the site before the introduction of this feature with the situation afterwards.

The results, since the publication of volume 18 number 1, on the 15th March 2013, for the top ten listed items are as follows:

Factores para la adopción de linked data e...
219 Clicks 30 Shares 730% Viral Lift

Visitors and residents: what motivates engagement wi...
169 Clicks 57 Shares 296% Viral Lift

Multi-dimensional analysis of dynamic human informat...
136 Clicks 16 Shares 850% Viral Lift

In Web search we trust? Articulation of the cognitiv...
125 Clicks 9 Shares 1,389% Viral Lift

The nature and constitution of informal carers' info...
71 Clicks 9 Shares 789% Viral Lift

Big-data in cloud computing: a taxonomy of risks
39 Clicks 23 Shares 170% Viral Lift

Exploring design-fits for the strategic alignment of...
29 Clicks 15 Shares 193% Viral Lift

Search behaviour in electronic document and records...
23 Clicks 7 Shares 329% Viral Lift

Managing collaborative information sharing: bridging...
17 Clicks 13 Shares 131% Viral Lift

Workplace information practices among human resource...
16 Clicks 9 Shares 178% Viral Lift

09 April 2013

Emerald embargo on open access

You may have read that, in response to the UK government's policy on open access (which is hardly totally enlightened) Emerald, which publishes the Journal of Documentation, is to have a two-year embargo on papers being deposited in repositories. This, of course, makes nonsense of the idea of "open" access - two years is far too long a period for such an embargo. However, there may be good news in this: perhaps authors will be persuaded that publication in a genuinely open access journal like Information Research is to be preferred. After all, not only are all papers openly available to all from the moment of publication, but copyright rests entirely with the author who can then do anything he or she wishes with the paper: generate as many copies as necessary for a class handbook, put in the institutional repository, or whatever. I don't exactly look forward to an increase in submissions to Information Research, since we get just about as much as we can cope with now, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on things.