Archive for the 'academia' category

How can publishers help academic librarians? Let's all count the ways!

The STM Publishing News Group is a professional news site for the publishing industry which bring together a range of science, technology and medicine publishing stakeholders with the idea that they'll be able to share news amongst themselves as well as beyond the publishing world to the broader constituency of academics and librarians and others.

You can imagine how thrilled I was to see a post with the words, "How can publishers help librarians?" in the title? I was a little disappointed to find the entire title of the post is "How can publishers help librarians? Cambridge University Press leads the way with a metadata revolution."

Nothing wrong with metadata revolutions, of course, I'm all for them. But the promise of those first few words lead me to believe that perhaps the post had some sort of loftier revolutionary purpose in mind. That somehow publishers were finally considering ways that they could be truly helpful to academic librarians as a whole, and by extension, to our constituents of students, faculty and staff at our institutions.

Sadly, since I'm not a metadata librarian, I was disappointed. (And even if I were a metadata librarian, isn't state-of-the-art metadata part of what we pay publishers for in the first place, not some sort of "revolutionary" extra?)

But that doesn't mean I can't dream big dreams. Nor does it mean that you, my faithful readers, can't dream big dreams.

The original post begins with the line, "It’s no secret that library budgets have been slashed in recent years, and the burdens of trying to do more with less are growing for librarians and information professionals." Which is certainly very true. However, not one single idea in the rest of the post has anything to do with helping librarians with their budgets. Almost as if helping us with metadata issues will distract from those other kinds of problems.

Let's see if we can't come up with some ways that publishers could help librarians with those other kinds of problems, ones to do with budgets and licenses and sustainability and openness and fairness. I have a few ideas, of course, but I'd love it if all of you could pitch in with some more in the comments.

  • So many of libraries' budget problems are due to publishers' unsustainable pricing increases. How about you help librarians by stopping those pricing practices.
  • Stop over-reacting to "predatory publishers" as a way of distracting from your own far more serious predatory pricing behaviour
  • Hey, rational and sustainable ebook licensing models. For public libraries too, please.
  • Non Disclosure Agreements are bad for libraries and librarians. Stop requiring or even suggesting them.
  • Stop playing chicken with Big Deal negotiations as a way to pit librarians and their researcher communities against each other.
  • And a big one here, why not partner and engage completely and wholeheartedly with all the various scholarly communications stakeholder groups to build a fairer and more open scholarly communications ecosystem.
  • Your answer here

What are your ideas and suggestions? Certainly this topic would be a good one for an upcoming Society for Scholarly Publishing meeting.

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Elsevier buys SSRN: Another sideshow or the main event?

Main event. Definitely.

Elsevier's acquisition of the open access journal article and working papers repository and online community Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is definitely a case of Elsevier tipping their hand and giving us all a peek at their real long term strategy.

Much more so than their whack-a-mole antics with Sci-Hub and other "pirate" services.

One of the big hints is how they've tied it's acquisition so closes with their last important, strategic acquisition -- Mendeley. Another hint is that they also tie it in to one of their cornerstone products, Scopus.

From the announcement:

When Elsevier acquired Mendeley three years ago, many people wondered how well it would work out — including our team at the Social Science Research Network. SSRN has similarities to Mendeley, and many differences, but we share a common vision of improving researchers’ lives, and doing that together within Elsevier makes complete sense.

*snip*

Together, SSRN and Mendeley can provide greater access to the growing base of user-generated content, build new informational and analytical tools and increase engagement with a broader set of researchers.

*snip*

SSRN will benefit from access to Scopus citation data and an ability to link working papers to their published versions with direct forwarding links. We’ll also have access to Elsevier’s broader collection of metrics and data analytics, which we can share with SSRN authors, readers and users.

The research services division that products like Mendeley, Scopus and now SSRN belong to are a completely different beast than the much-maligned journals division. By contrast, this research services division seems much more nimble and user focused, with a laser-like aim towards the future rather than the past. I think that they reflect more where Elsevier wants to be in ten or twenty years, focused on providing high-value services to researchers and institutions rather than still weighed down by the legacy subscription business. They see that the old fashioned soak-libraries-for-all-they're-worth business model is (very) slowly becoming an albatross, a dodo bird. They're not the rapacious bullies and "Evil Empire" types, but more coolly rational and calculating. (Tywin Lannister vs. Ramsay Bolton, if you'll forgive the Game of Thrones analogy.)

So yes, maximize the soaking, drain every last dollar (Euro, Pound...) from libraries, wage a rear-guard battle against pirates as a massive feint maneuver to distract from the real front.

Services, services, services.

Elsevier has been the dominant player in the scholarly communications space for a very long time. They've masterfully figured out how to keep the money flowing down hill in their direction. They have no intention of surrendering their dominance. In a new, more open environment, they want to maintain that hegemony. And keep the money flowing.

As my favourite rock band put it so succinctly, "Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss."

 

As is my habit, I'm including below some links from the last couple of days with various commentary about the SSRN acquistion. If I've missed anything significant, please feel free to mention it in the comments.

The first few especially provide a more detailed overview of the facts, issues and immediate implications than I attempt to above.

3 responses so far

Librarians, institutions, soldiers, revolutionaries

One of the central tensions of modern librarianship is how to allocate limited resources to both make the whole world a better place and to serve our local communities by providing them with the services and collections they need to support their teaching, learning and research.

The particular way we try and change the world that I'm talking about here is working to create a fairer and more equitable scholarly communications ecosystem. We do this by both advocating for increased openness in the publishing system and working to actually create that fairer system via our own local open access publishing and support activities. (There are also other ways we work towards making the world a better place, for example, through our instruction activities. Not mention that there is an aspect of making the whole world a better place via serving local needs.)

Rick Anderson's recent piece A quiet culture war in research libraries – and what it means for librarians, researchers and publishers has certainly reignited this conversation in the online librarian world in the last couple of weeks, sparking a lot of commentary and discussion in blogs and on Twitter.

The core of the piece is those two tensions. Being soldiers and taking care of our communities versus being revolutionaries and trying to change the system. Anderson mostly attempts to play it right down the middle and not really fall on either side of the issue. And he certainly acknowledges that it's unlikely that any person or institution will fall completely on one side or the other, that a mix of both roles is natural and desirable. But in the end he seems to favour the role of soldier over revolutionary.

Take the final paragraph for example,

This fact has serious implications for the ultimate outcome of the culture war that I believe is currently brewing in the research library community. We are now working in an information environment that makes it possible for each library to exert a global influence in unprecedented ways. The desire to do so is both praiseworthy and solidly in keeping with many of what most of us would consider core values of librarianship. However, even as we experience varying levels of agreement amongst ourselves as to the proper distribution of our time and resources in pursuit of these two different orientations, virtually all of us continue to be supported entirely by funds that come from institutions that expect us to use those funds to support local needs and an institutionally defined mission. As long as it remains impossible to spend the same dollar twice, we will have no way to avoid choosing between programs that support local needs and those that support global ones and, as long as we depend on local resources to do so, we will have an ultimate obligation to act more like soldiers than like revolutionaries. Libraries that fail to do so will inevitably lose their institutional support – and with good reason. (Bold is mine -- JD)

Where do I fall?

First of all, at the institutional level academic libraries (and librarians) have no choice but to take care of local needs. Our patrons and communities need the collections we purchase and licence and we must take great care to spend our institutions' funds wisely.

At the same time, we would also be betraying our profession and failing our patrons if we did not also keep our eyes on the long-term needs of our patrons and communities. That long term need being to play a role in building a system that just works better, that spends their money more wisely and more equitably on making their scholarship more rather than less accessible to the rest of the world. On making the scholarship they need to access from the rest of the world more rather than less accessible to them.

Hogwash, you say, there's no way I can justify this. My job is support the mission of my institution and nothing else. Resources are limited. It's clear how I have to allocate them.

The mission of my institution.

A lot of the discussions seem to revolve around those words.

So I looked up the mission statement of my institution. York University.

The mission of York University is the pursuit, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge. We promise excellence in research and teaching in pure, applied and professional fields. We test the boundaries and structures of knowledge. We cultivate the critical intellect.

York University is part of Toronto: we are dynamic, metropolitan and multi-cultural. York University is part of Canada: we encourage bilingual study, we value diversity. York University is open to the world: we explore global concerns.

A community of faculty, students, staff, alumni and volunteers committed to academic freedom, social justice, accessible education, and collegial self-governance, York University makes innovation its tradition.

Tentanda Via: The way must be tried. (Bolding is me again. )

[P]ursuit, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge. Check. That's what building a fairer scholarly communications ecosystem is all about.

We cultivate the critical intellect. Check. It's part of our mission to think deeply and critically about the world. Which can lead to thinking of ways that it could be better.

[C]ommitted to academic freedom, social justice, accessible education. Check and bingo! My institution's mission actually includes working to make the world a better place.

The way must be tried. Check and mate. Just do it.

Of course, I work at York, one of the leftyest, most progressive universities out there. So the kind of language that we in the library (as a whole and as individual librarians) can use to justify building and advocating for a better world is all over the place.

But I invite everyone else who might be tempted to take a pass on devoting time, energy and other resources to making the world a better place to take a look at their own institution's mission statement. I've looked at a few around academia recently and from what I've seen most places have something in there about giving back to the community or making the world a better place.

Take a look for yourself. I hope your institution has something in its mission statement that you can work with (though I recognize it might not). And think about joining the revolution.

(This is about balance in resource allocation, of course. Every place and every situation will be different and local administrators will need to make different calculations about resource allocation. This isn't a call for librarians and libraries to shoot themselves in the foot. What I hope is to maybe expand a little bit how we look at our mission in relation to our institution's mission when we make those decisions.)

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As is my wont I've gathered together some of the recent commentary sparked by the original Rick Anderson article. There are lots of different takes on the soldiers vs. revolutionaries issue and several of the items I'm pointing to make similar points to my own but perhaps a bit more eloquently.

As usual, if this issue continues to have legs, I'll probably update this list. If I've missed something, please let me know either in the comments or at jdupuis at yorku dot ca.

3 responses so far

Why are librarians hesitant to CANCEL ALL THE JOURNALS?

There's lots of discussion out there right now in the twitter and blog world concerning Bjorn Brembs' call to librarians to jumpstart the mass migration to Open Access by essentially unilaterally cancelling all the journals they subscribe to. This act would force the hands of all the various players in the ecosystem to immediately figure out how to make Open Access work.

Which is a great idea. I actually kind of mused about this sort of scenario a while back in a post called An Open Access thought experiment. Except what I wasn't smart enough or brave enough to do was imagine a scenario where it was librarians themselves who up and cancelled all the journals rather than it just happening.

Why would that be? Well, I think it's safe to say that librarians don't feel they have the power to unilaterally cancel all their institution's subscriptions without some fearsome retribution either from within the institution itself or from elements of the publishing world.

Recently the University of Montreal's library cancelled a big deal and seem to have gotten good support internally. So that's hopeful. By the same token, the SUNY Potsdam library's cancellation of the American Chemical Society a few years back seems to have had strong support internally. It was externally that the blowback happened. So that's both good news and bad news.

Most recently the situation at Brock University in Ontario is an interesting example of what librarians fear will be the outcome of any large-scale cancellation exercise. The Brock library cancelled the Wiley big deal package, with what they thought was internal support. But a firestorm ensued with ultimately the Brock Faculty Association filing an internal grievance to force the administration to fund the library at the level necessary to subscribe to the journals. The grievance has since been dropped, leaving it to the Senate to pick up the pieces, but the implication is clear.

Librarians: Act boldly at your own risk.

Of course, it's not that simple. As a species librarians are rather risk-averse. Institutionally, academic librarians are rarely the most powerful constituency on campus and maintaining the influence we do have is a tricky dance at best. This is not to mention that many librarians are quite happy with the subscription status quo as it more-or-less is. Handling journal subscriptions is a clearly defined role, one that makes us feel important. If that importance is often more in the cynical eyes of the publishers who flatter us than in the eyes of the local communities whom we actually build those collections for, well, that's nothing new.

Barbara Fister has much more on this issue here, Determining our Tech, and in the comments of the post:

Recently Björn Brems suggested that librarians should simply cancel all subscriptions to fix this problem. On Twitter Mike Taylor predicted that things would sort themselves out within three months of the mass die-off of subscription journals. Of course, that ignores the likely fallout: librarians would be fired and possibly arraigned on charges of collusion, the budgets they had devoted to subscriptions would not be reallocated to supporting institutional repositories or any other way of sharing information, and the many scholars who email colleagues for the PDFs they no longer could access would find out their colleagues couldn’t access them, either. Three months for the establishment of a new and better system seems a bit optimistic and based on some serious misconceptions, such as that the scholarly record Is safely preserved in LOCKSS and that somehow the copyrights publishers hold to that material will suddenly be irrelevant as publishers implode. Remember that the majority of books published in the 20th century live in copyright limbo? Yeah. Canceling subscriptions en masse won’t fix that problem.

The Library Loon suggests some ways those on the research/publishing side could perhaps better understand the pressures and constraints that librarians work under:

Kent Anderson works for a scholarly publisher. So does Peter Binfield.

Phil Davis is a researcher. So is Martin Eve.

Why is it so hard for certain portions of the open-access movement to assimilate that libraries and librarians are not monolithic with respect to open access (or, indeed, much of anything else) either?

To be sure, some of the answer to that question is “unconsidered privilege.” Librarianship is a feminized profession; that has profound social consequences vis-à-vis voice and silencing as well as political capital and lack of same. It is hardly coincidence that the loudest voices either spouting absolute nonsense about libraries and scholarly communication or erasing libraries’ contributions to open access altogether have been—universally, as best the Loon can tell—white men.

The Loon can name names if need be. Per her usual practice, she would vastly prefer not to.

Anyone can learn, however. To that end, some suggestions for places to learn about the complex world of libraries, electronic-resource management (as libraries term it), and open access.

Both Barbara and The Loon's posts are well worth reading in their entirety (The Loon refers to me as indefatigable in the post, BTW. I blush.). I couldn't agree with them more.

The paper The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era and Tim Gowers' Elsevier journals — some facts are also both good supplements to this conversation.

To end, I'll compile below as much of the documented history of the Brock case as I could find in a few quick searches online. Thanks to Ian Gibson of Brock University for some insight into their situation. Any misunderstandings remain mine, of course.

I welcome any additions or corrections from colleagues with respect to how I've described what's happened at Brock.

The Brock Library Open Access page is here.

Brock University Senate Meetings & Minutes are here.

As usual, please let me know about any errors or omissions in the list.

Update 2015.06.29. Thanks to input from a colleague at Brock, I have struck out ", with what they thought was internal support".

11 responses so far

Elsevier's new sharing policy: A step in the wrong direction

Elsevier has released a new scholarly article sharing policy which is definitely more disappointing than really any cause for cheer.

Basically the crux is that the only place that authors are allowed to have the final publication version of an article in a non-open access Elsevier publication is on the Elsevier website itself. Of course, after any embargo period has elapse or if the author has paid an author processing charge and published in a hybrid or gold open access journal, they are allowed to post the article on their own webpage or institutional repository.

During the time that the article is most important for scholars to access, it's Elsevier only. Which is not a surprising policy in many ways for a publisher to have, after all they want to maximize their subscription fees as well as APCs not to mention traffic to their sites.

But an issue that I (and many others) have with this new policy is that it may very well be in direct contravention to what authors are required to do to meet various institution and national open access policies. Canada's new policy requires open access to the final version within 12 months of publication, much shorter than many journal's embargo period.

As such, this policy is potentially setting authors against their funders. And will no doubt cause many authors to either ignore the policy or put pressure on the government to water down the requirements.

The requirement for a CC-BY-NC-ND license is also much too restrictive, forcing authors to adopt a licence that isn't the generally accepted (particularly in STEM fields) open access license of CC-BY.

And I could go on. The policy is very long and very detailed, more than probably most people want to wade through. This length and complexity is an issue too. Pressed for time in a publish or perish world, it's tempting to skip to the end and just forget about sharing -- because it's just easier to do nothing and leave the article as is on the Elsevier site! The pain and anguish involved in sharing are a disincentive.

There is a way to fix this, and it's not even hard. The policy does mention the physics/math/CS/etc preprint server arXiv by name (and RePEC for economics): "Preprints may be shared, and on arXiv and RePEC they may be refreshed with accepted manuscripts." It's easy. Allow all scholars the courtesy and convenience that those that use arXiv & RePEC have. Allow preprints posted to a disciplinary or institutional repository to be refreshed with accepted versions upon publication. If that isn't a deal breaker in some fields, why is it a deal breaker in all the rest?

As is my habit, I've collected a fair bit of recent commentary on this new Elsevier policy. Many of the authors below go into far more detail than I have here about the various issues.

I'm including a bit on the STM principles for article sharing on scholarly collaboration networks, which were the basis for the new Elsevier policy. STM is a STEM publisher industry group. I've also included a couple of recent ones on Elsevier that aren't specifically about this issue for some wider context.

As usual, if I've missed anything significant please add it in the comments. If this issue continues to have legs, I'll probably update this post at some point.

Update 2015.05.28. This story does seem to have legs, so I've added a bunch of items.

2 responses so far

Reading Diary: Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design by Lisa Welchman

What is digital governance in the first place?
Digital governance is a discipline that focuses on establishing clear accountability for digital strategy, policy, and standards. A digital governance framework, when effectively designed and implemented, helps to streamline digital development and dampen debates around digital channel “ownership.”
-- From the Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design website.

Universities
Intellectual autonomy and stubbornness of staff
-- From the index, Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design, p. 229

Time to take a little medicine! All those digital projects, all those digital projects teams, all those digital projects strategies. Libraries, academic libraries, we know them well, don't we.

Chaos is a good word. Lots of stakeholders, limited resources, competing priorities. Governance is a good word too, for libraries, as it tends to imply less a top-down, less hierarchical, more collegial way of making decisions. And when it comes to deciding how an organization should make decisions about their digital presence, finding a way to makes those decisions more effectively is very important.

Which is exactly what Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design by Lisa Welchman is about -- how to set up internal structures that will help organizations make decisions about digital strategies, policies and standards. Note that the book isn't about what decisions to make or even really how to organize the decision-making process. It's about what structures can facilitate and inform and govern a decision-making process that results in strategies, policies and standards.

It's that twice-removed aspect that is both the book's greatest strength and the source of some frustrations as well.

It's a strength because it provides a level of abstraction between the content of the decisions and the process of deciding that can take a bit of heat out of the whole thing. Frustrating because the occasional lack of grounding in reality of all the talk of policies and whatnot make it hard to see how it all ties back to reality. The endless talk of process this and committee that is sometimes like grasping at smoke. There are fairly detailed case studies at the end, but perhaps some of that content should have been distributed a little better up front -- or at least some more real world examples.

Building a governance structure where none existed before or overlaying one on an existing chaotic situation are challenging tasks to say the least. Basically it requires defining the appropriate structures and then figuring out how to overlay those bureaucratic structures on an organization that needs it but may not realize or recognize it needs it.

And Welchman does a terrific job of going through how to define those processes and even how to talk about implementing them. She's very deliberate and patient, setting everything out in words and charts, step by step, how to figure out who defines, who has input, who has final authority. And the things we're talking about deciding about (see how circular and vague and smokey this gets...)?

Digital strategies, digital policies, digital standards. And not in any concrete way, of course, but as those higher-level abstractions that will be different for every industry or sector and which will be different for each organization within those industries.

And yes, higher education is one of the sectors that get a case study at the end. The example is a university's central web team in charge of managing and integrating the school's web presence across all the various units. (The case studies are anonymized versions of experiences in her own consulting practice.)

Governance can be a good word for higher education, of course. But the challenge in the modern higher education landscape is distinguishing between governance and "governance" or governance-washing. Setting up a digital governance strategy for institutions that are as decentralized and multi-faceted as universities is doubly challenging. What's being governed in digital strategy anyways? Just marketing and communication? Data and scholarship resources? MOOCs and online education? Faculty and departmental web-presences? To what degree is the marketing and communications tail wagging the educational and research mission dog? Someone has to keep an eye on what universities are really for -- teaching and research. And not marketing. We don't have universities so we can market them -- as the tail sometimes seems to think.

Welchman trods this fine line not always successfully in the higher ed case study. Too much emphasis on top down from the senior admin and provost and not enough grassroots bottom up from faculty, staff and -- yes -- students. For governance to be legitimate in a higher education environment, the decision-making needs to flow upward, not downward, as inconvenient and frustrating as that can seem sometimes on the inside. The digital part of the university serves the teaching and research mission of the university, not the other way around. Autonomy and stubbornness are virtues, not inconveniences to getting input on long, tortuous processes.

Overall, this is a very good book, if a little dry and disruption business web hallelujah jargony at times. The digital/web teams are perhaps too often portrayed as the misunderstood heroes of the various tales rather than part of complex organizational ecosystems where heroes and villains don't really exist. References to "disruption" and "digital natives" and "digital campus" don't necessarily inspire complete confidence, but there is also an incredible amount of wisdom here when it comes to creating collegial governance. Your mileage may vary, but it's hard to imagine that anyone involved in digital projects at any level won't find something here to help them navigate creating better processes at their institutions.

This book belongs in any library/information science, technology or business library collection in academia. Probably only quite large public library systems would find an audience for this book, but branches in technology hub neighbourhoods should probably put a copy in their window display. Also, buy a copy for everyone on your digital team, up and down the hierarchy all the way to the CIO.

Welchman, Lisa. Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design. Brooklyn, NY: Rosenfeld Media, 2015. 248pp. ISBN-13: 978-1933820880

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Reading Diary: Zombies & Calculus by Colin Adams

Colin Adams's Zombies & Calculus is one of the coolest, funniest, most creative science books I've read in a very long time.

What's interesting about that statement is that we're not talking a non-fiction book here. We're talking a novel. Yes, a novel. Zombies & Calculus is pure fiction. Fortunately. Now I'm a big fan of the Walking Dead tv show and the comics too (though I'm a bit behind on the trade paperback collections) so I"m quite glad it's fiction. Basically, the premise of this novel is, "What if Rick Grimes had been a university math prof instead of a police officer."

The opening scene is a college math lecture hall where a couple of zombies wander in and start chowing down on the students. Chaos ensues but our hero Professor Williams, rallies the students and escapes. The rest of the novel is Williams using his math abilities to figure out what is happening to them all -- growth rates, zombie wandering trajectories, how hard you have to smack a zombie to kill it, predator-prey oscillation curves -- and hopefully increase their odds of survival because of that knowledge.

The story itself is pretty amusing, with quite a few of the bizarre and grotesque touches you would expect of any zombie novel. The body count is pretty high. The author isn't a brilliant novelist but easily has enough facility with both prose and narrative storytelling to make the book very entertaining. The characterization is a bit basic and one-dimensional but serviceable. The novel part is only about 150 pages and the relative brevity of the story definitely contributes to the success. Adams also manages to put in a few humourous jabs at academic life and campus politics, from the checked-out senior prof to the incompetent administrator, to give the story some satirical sting. There's even a touch of romance, if you can believe it. Not to mention, extended calculus lectures delivered in deadpan style while holed-up and hiding during the zombie apocalypse is in-and-of-itself flat out hilarious. (Some of the conversations with fellow survivors can be a bit laboured, especially in the appendices.)

As for the hard-core math part, there is quite a bit of very real calculus both embedded in the novel itself and in some rather more detailed appendices. If you're not comfortable with at least some level of equations and graphs, then this probably isn't a book for you. However, Adams does do a decent job of keeping the story flowing without too much digression into long info-dumps. One of the most interesting math parts was about the growth rates of the zombie population and how potential equilibrium of zombies and humans might be reached. Colin Adams definitely needs to be a math consultant on The Walking Dead, especially as the show gets further into the time scale of their apocalypse.

Overall, I can't recommend this book enough; it was one of my favourite science books of 2014. The more math you know, the more you will enjoy this book. The main audience is probably university math students and professors, so if you know one of those, this would make a great gift. As for library collections, this would be a great addition to any undergraduate math collection and could even be used as a teaching tool in first year calculus. Large public library systems would probably also find an audience for this book.

Adams, Colin. Zombies & Calculus. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014. 240pp. ISBN-13: 978-0691161907

(Review copy provided by publisher.)

16 responses so far

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.

2 responses so far

Canada's new Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications

Finally, the Canadian government's Tri-Agency funding councils (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR) have released the consolidated final version of it's open access policy. The draft version came out some time ago. The consultation process garnered quite a few responses, which the Tri-Agencies were kind enough to summarize for us.

And finally it is here. I have to admit I was getting a bit concerned. The final version was rumoured to have been kicking around the various departments waiting for final sign-off for months. With the rumours of the Conservatives possibly dropping the writ and calling a spring election I was concerned that the policy would just fall off everyone's radar and then a new government would just restart at least part of the process.

The press release is here. The FAQ is here as well as a toolbox of resources.

Here's the official text of the policy:

Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications
1. Preamble
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) (“the Agencies”) are federal granting agencies that promote and support research, research training and innovation within Canada. As publicly funded organizations, the Agencies have a fundamental interest in promoting the availability of findings that result from the research they fund, including research publications and data, to the widest possible audience, and at the earliest possible opportunity. Societal advancement is made possible through widespread and barrier-free access to cutting-edge research and knowledge, enabling researchers, scholars, clinicians, policymakers, private sector and not-for-profit organizations and the public to use and build on this knowledge.

Information and communications technology, and in particular the advent of the internet, has transformed the way that science and scholarly research is conducted and communicated. Indicative of this changing landscape has been the steady growth in open access publishing and archiving, which facilitates widespread dissemination of research results. Open access enables researchers to make their publications freely available to the domestic and international research community and to the public at large, thereby enhancing the use, application and impact of research results.

Momentum for open access has been growing as numerous funding agencies and institutions worldwide implement open access policies. The Agencies strongly support open access to research results which promotes the principle of knowledge sharing and mobilization – an essential objective of academia. As research and scholarship become increasingly multi-disciplinary and collaborative, both domestically and internationally, the Agencies are working to facilitate research partnerships by harmonizing domestic policies and aligning with the global movement to open access.

The following principles guide the Agencies in their approach to promoting open access to research publications:

  1. Committing to academic freedom, and the right to publish;
  2. Recognizing the critical importance of peer review to the scholarly communication ecosystem;
  3. Maintaining the high standards and quality of research by committing to academic openness and responsible conduct of research;
  4. Promoting recognized research best practices and standards across disciplines, and embracing and sharing emerging practices and standards;
  5. Advancing academic research, science and innovation;
  6. Effective dissemination of research results; and
  7. Aligning activities and policies between Canadian and international research funding agencies.

2. Policy Objective
The objective of this policy is to improve access to the results of Agency-funded research, and to increase the dissemination and exchange of research results. All researchers, regardless of funding support, are encouraged to adhere to this policy.

3. Policy Statement
3.1 Peer-reviewed Journal Publications
Grant recipients are required to ensure that any peer-reviewed journal publications arising from Agency-supported research are freely accessible within 12 months of publication. Recipients can do this through one of the following routes:

a. Online Repositories
Grant recipients can deposit their final, peer-reviewed manuscript into an institutional or disciplinary repository that will make the manuscript freely accessible within 12 months of publication. It is the responsibility of the grant recipient to determine which publishers allow authors to retain copyright and/or allow authors to archive journal publications in accordance with funding agency policies.

b. Journals
Grant recipients can publish in a journal that offers immediate open access or that offers open access on its website within 12 months. Some journals require authors to pay article processing charges (APCs) to make manuscripts freely available upon publication. The cost of publishing in open access journals is an eligible expense under the Use of Grant Funds.

These routes to open access are not mutually exclusive. Researchers are strongly encouraged to deposit a copy of the final, peer-reviewed manuscript into an accessible online repository immediately upon publication, even if the article is freely available on the journal’s website.

Grant recipients must acknowledge Agency contributions in all peer-reviewed publications, quoting the funding reference number (e.g. FRN, Application ID).

3.2 Publication-related Research Data

CIHR only
Recipients of CIHR funding are required to adhere with the following responsibilities:

  1. Deposit bioinformatics, atomic, and molecular coordinate data into the appropriate public database (e.g. gene sequences deposited in GenBank) immediately upon publication of research results. Please refer to the Annex for examples of research outputs and the corresponding publicly accessible repository or database.
  2. Retain original data sets for a minimum of five years after the end of the grant (or longer if other policies apply).This applies to all data, whether published or not. The grant recipient's institution and research ethics board may have additional policies and practices regarding the preservation, retention, and protection of research data that must be respected.


4. Implementation Date

CIHR
For research funded in whole or in part by CIHR, this policy applies to all grants awarded January 1, 2008 and onward. While not required, researchers holding grants that were awarded prior to January 1, 2008 are encouraged to adhere to the requirements of this policy.

NSERC and SSHRC
For research funded in whole or in part by NSERC or SSHRC, this policy applies to all grants awarded May 1, 2015 and onward. While not required, researchers holding grants that were awarded prior to May 1, 2015 are encouraged to adhere to the requirements of this policy.

5. Compliance with the Policy
Grant recipients are reminded that by accepting Agency funds they have accepted the terms and conditions of the grant or award as set out in the Agencies’ policies and guidelines. In the event of an alleged breach of Agency policy, the Agency may take steps outlined in accordance with the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research to deal with the allegation. For research funded by the Agencies, the Institution shall enable researchers to comply with the Tri-Agency Open Access Publication Policy, as amended from time to time.

6. Policy Review
The Agencies will review and adapt this policy as appropriate.

7. Additional Information
A) Various resources to assist researchers in complying with this policy can be found in the Toolbox.

B) Further information regarding how to comply with the open access policy can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions.

How do I feel about the final version? Overall, happy to finally have a policy in hand that will move forward and get the research funded by the government of Canada out there and available to the public. Frankly, it is a bit disappointing to have waited so long for a final policy that is so close to the original draft. What could have possibly taken so long?

As such, my comments on the original very closely mirror my comments on this version. I'm disappointed that the Feds didn't invest any kind of effort of new money into a process to ease the transition to open access or to bring stakeholders together. I'm disappointed that they aren't topping up grants or making dedicated funds to pay for at least a little bit of publication charges. I'm disappointed that they didn't extend data requirements beyond CIHR. I'm disappointed that the policy only applies to journal articles and not other funded research outputs. Twelve months is too long, it should be six months until materials need to be made open.

But at the end of the day, those are quibbles. We have a policy. Let's get down to business.

Heather Morrison has some commentary here.

Back in June 2013 I did a post on open access resources in Canada. That post definitely needs updating!

And speaking of resources, Walt Crawford has done an amazing job of chronicling and analyzing open access and the open access movement in his online zine, Cites & Insights, especially over the last year or so with his coverage of "predatory" journals, the costs of open access and the Science journal "sting." He's kindly gathered together links to all those issues on one master post.

I'm copying those links here. Thanks, Walt!

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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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