Archive for the 'acad lib future' category

Around the Web: Love in the time of austerity and other stories of library apocalypse

Mar 12 2015 Published by under acad lib future, around the web, librarianship

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Around the Web: What is the Internet of Things and other reports relevant to libraries and librarianship

Mar 11 2015 Published by under acad lib future, academia, around the web

I'm always interested in the present and future of libraries and higher education. There's a steady stream of reports from various organizations that are broadly relevant to the (mostly academic) library biz but they can be tough to keep track of. I thought I'd aggregate some of those here.

Of course I've very likely missed a few, so suggestions are welcome in the comments.

I've done a few similar posts recently here, here and here.

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Ontario Library Association conference presentation: Altmetrics in Action: Documenting Cuts to Federal Government Science

As I mentioned last week, I did a presentation at the recent Ontario Library Association Super Conference using my work on Canadian science policy as a case study in altmetrics.

Here's the session description:

802F Altmetrics in Action: Documenting Cuts to Federal Government Science: An Altmetrics Case Study

The gold standard for measuring scholarly impact is journal article citations. In the online environment we can expand both the conception of scholarly output and how we measure their impact. Blog posts, downloads, page views, comments on blogs, Twitter or Reddit or Stumpleupon mentions, Facebook likes, Television, radio or newspaper interviews, online engagement from political leaders, speaking invitations: all are non-traditional measures of scholarly impact. This session will use a case study to explore the pros & cons of the new Altmetrics movement, taking a blog post documenting recent cuts in federal government science and analysing the various kinds of impact it has had beyond academia.

  1. Understand what Altmetrics are
  2. Understand what some pros and cons are of using Altmetrics to measure research impact
  3. Ways that academic librarians can use altmetrics to engage their campus communities.

I have an altmetrics reading list that I've compiled for the presentation here.

Here are my slides:

Thanks to my friend and Queen's University colleague Nasser Saleh for stepping in at the end and convening my session. Overall it was a pretty good crowd and I thought the presentation went very well.

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Around the Web: An altmetrics reading list

I'm doing a presentation at this week's Ontario Library Association Super Conference on a case study of my Canadian War on Science work from an altmetrics perspective. In other words, looking at non-traditional ways of evaluating the scholarly and "real world" impact of a piece of research. Of course, in this case, the research output under examination is itself kind of non-traditional, but that just makes it more fun.

The Canadian War on Science post I'm using as the case study is here.

Here's the session description:

802F Altmetrics in Action: Documenting Cuts to Federal Government Science: An Altmetrics Case Study

The gold standard for measuring scholarly impact is journal article citations. In the online environment we can expand both the conception of scholarly output and how we measure their impact. Blog posts, downloads, page views, comments on blogs, Twitter or Reddit or Stumpleupon mentions, Facebook likes, Television, radio or newspaper interviews, online engagement from political leaders, speaking invitations: all are non-traditional measures of scholarly impact. This session will use a case study to explore the pros & cons of the new Altmetrics movement, taking a blog post documenting recent cuts in federal government science and analysing the various kinds of impact it has had beyond academia.

  1. Understand what Altmetrics are
  2. Understand what some pros and cons are of using Altmetrics to measure research impact
  3. Ways that academic librarians can use altmetrics to engage their campus communities.

Not surprisingly, I've been reading up on altmetrics and associated issues. Since it's something I already know a fair bit about, my reading hasn't perhaps been as systematic as it might be...but I still though it would be broadly helpful to share some of what I've been exploring.

Enjoy!

Some companies & organizations involved:

And please do feel free to add any relevant items that I've missed in the comments.

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Around the ScholComm Web: Science Journals Have Passed Their Expiration Date, A Decade of Google Scholar and more

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Around the Apocalyptic Web: Against productivity, How to escape the age of mediocrity and more

Nov 14 2014 Published by under acad lib future, around the web

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Around the Apocalyptic Web: The sharing economy and getting paid for your work

I find the whole idea of a "sharing economy" where people barter and exchange and free up excess capacity in their own lives and situations to make others' lives a little easier and cheaper an interesting notion. And worthwhile. After all broadly speaking the open access and open source movements do partake of this same spirit. Libraries too, in that we pool the resources of a community to acquire stuff for the benefit of all the members, so that everyone can share the wealth.

But is there a dark side to sharing?

With the advent of companies like AirBnB and it's ilk not to mention the whole idea of the "reputation economy" sucking up the "gift economy" for it's own devices, well, let's just say I'm a bit more skeptical of the big money players than the little gals and guys.

So this Around the Web explores a long set of readings about more the new, more corporatized side of sharing, some pro, most con. After all, even the open access movement has it's share of big publishers and small startups diving in.

In no particular order:

Add your own favourite example of rich people asking not-so-rich-people to kick in to their profits in the comments.

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Around the Web: Big Deals 'R Us, or, Libraries in the lobster pot

So what do I mean by Big Deals.

In the world of academic libraries, a Big Deal is when we subscribe to the electronic versions of all (or almost all) of a journal publisher's offerings. Usually for it to qualify as a Big Deal, the publisher in question is going to be one of the larger ones out there, like Elsevier or Springer or even a big society publisher like IEEE or the American Chemical Society. The whole idea of the Big Deal is that we should theoretically get a better price for a large volume commitment than for paying on an individual basis for just the ones we think we really want. Typically the negotiation process for these deals ends up with the library paying some hopefully fair and reasonable percentage more for the whole kit and kaboodle than we did for our previous selective holdings.

Which seems like a good idea at first blush -- and it often is a good deal for us and for our patrons who get access to lots of content that they might find useful -- but there are a few problems.

For example, we do often get stuck with the long tail of journals that are only very marginally useful to us and that end up with no or almost no usage. We're also stuck with the package as our users get used to all this wonderful access so it gets harder to negotiate good prices as the publishers begin to sense that it becomes harder and harder to walk away from these deals the longer we have them.

Though not impossible.

Which brings me to our current issue at hand -- pricing fairness and transparency.

You see, one of the issues with the Big Deals, as with many of the agreements between libraries and our vendors, is that we often sign pricing non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs. In other words, we negotiate the best deal we can and then we don't tell anybody what that is. In fact, while we're negotiating those deals, we don't know what anyone else has paid either for the same package so we really don't know how good a deal our Big Deal is. And since so many of the pricing structures of the Big Deals are based on historical spending with those publishers, the more you used to spend, the more you will spend. Effectively, the incremental amount you spend for the rest of the publisher's offerings gets you much more if you didn't used to have a lot. It's hard to tell how much resistance there has been historically by libraries to NDAs because it's all shrouded in secrecy. After all, who wants to talk about how much we've been historically shafted with people who may have been shafted less. The resistance is starting, but only just.

Which further brings us to the recent revelations by mathematician Timothy Gowers about the situation in the UK and Theodore C. Bergstrom, Paul N. Courant, R. Preston McAfee, and Michael A. Williams about the situation in the US. (Some other countries as well, see list below.)

Those faculty members, not librarians mind you, issued Freedom of Information requests to all or most university libraries in their jurisdictions asking for publisher Big Deal pricing information, the information normally protected by NDA, and published their findings.

And they are quite shocking, to say the least. I won't recap it all here because the details are available in links below, but I will say that there is a dramatic and shocking discrepancy in what different institutions pay for the same content. So yes, the NDAs seem to work. The big publishers are able to extract more from us because we have less information about the negotiations than they do.

And thus the problem is one of collective action. We are like the proverbial lobsters in a pot, the water boils, the price rises, but we don't notice the gradual rise until we're dead, and then it's kind of too late. And to extend the culinary metaphor, there's a chicken and egg thing going on here too. How and why and when and where do we jump start collective action?

But those are rants from another day.

I've gone on long enough but before I close I will note Walt Crawford's Big-Deal Serial Purchasing: Tracking the Damage for an overview of the situation. Wayne Bivens-Tatum has some commentary here as well.

Also very relevant is investment adviser Claudio Aspesi's leaked advice to the industry, Reed Elsevier: Goodbye to Berlin - The Fading Threat of Open Access (Upgrade to Market-Perform). The message is basically that the open access/scholarly communications community is currently unable to come to any sort of effective collective action, so the big journal vendors, including Elsevier, will continue to reap both substantial subscription income as well as growing author processing charges. In other, they win and we lose. At least for now. The Loon has some cogent commentary on this as well. And the experience at Oklahoma University is also instructive.
 

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And as is my wont, I'll end with a chronological account of the recent Big Deal revelations. If I've missed anything significant please let me know in the comments or at jdupuis at yorku dot ca. I've bolded the two major sources of data and information to make them easier to find.

 

I note the October Freedom of Information requests made by Stuart Lawson to various UK universities. As far as I know, no one has done this for Canadian universities, either for Elsevier or for journal publishers more generally. Who's up to it, I wonder.

Let's do this. Any takers?

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Around the Web: 21 recent reports relevant to higher education, libraries and librarianship

I'm always interested in the present and future of libraries and higher education. There's a steady stream of reports from various organizations that are broadly relevant to the (mostly academic) library biz but they can be tough to keep track of. I thought I'd aggregate some of those here.

Of course I've very likely missed a few, so suggestions are welcome in the comments.

I've done a few similar posts recently here and here.

No responses yet

Around the Web: Science Policy!

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