Archive for the 'academia' category

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.


Some companies & organizations involved:

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

One response so far

The bad news is "AAAS Names New Science Publisher", the good news is Walt Crawford's Open Access Trilogy

It seems that the American Association for the Advancement of Science has just announced the new publisher of it's flagship family of Science journals:

AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner today announced the appointment of Kent Anderson, a past president of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SPP), to serve as Publisher of the Science family of journals.

Anderson, who in 2011 received the SPP's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, will assume the role of Science Publisher as of 3 November.

Currently, he is the CEO and Publisher of STRIATUS/The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery in Needham, Massachusetts, where he oversees a staff of directors in advertising, marketing, business development, administration, product development, and product line management.

"AAAS and Science have held to high standards while pursuing the vanguard of scientific communication worldwide," Anderson said regarding his appointment. "I am extremely proud to join such a talented, thoughtful, and ambitious organization. I look forward to helping to move the Science family of journals further into the vanguard of scientific communication, with an immediate goal of supporting the launch of the association's new, open-access, online-only journal, Science Advances."


Among Anderson's initial challenges as Science Publisher will be the launch of the nonprofit association's first open-access title, Science Advances — a strategy for increasing the volume of peer-reviewed research published by AAAS. As a member of the AAAS leadership team, Anderson also will play a key role in the association's Transformation Initiative, a far-reaching effort to enhance engagement with members and to ensure that the Science journals continue to provide leadership in science communication.

I also note that little bit at the end of what I quote, that one of Anderson's initial challenges will be the launching of open access journal Science Advances.

My post title frames this announcement as bad news, which on the surface is a bit odd as the launch of on OA journal from the AAAS should be good news. However, what would otherwise be happiness is tempered by worry. New publisher Kent Anderson is most well known in the open access world for his role at the Scholarly Kitchen group blog where he has flown the anti-OA flag pretty consistently over the last several years. Zen Faulkes has a bit more on that here.

Needless to say, the reaction on Twitter has been pretty negative.

I guess there are two ways this could go, of course. One being a "fox in the chicken coop" scenario where any open access initiatives at the AAAS will be delayed, discounted or sabotaged. As well, my fear is that the tenor of OA commentary at an important outlet like the Science journals could be even more poisoned than it already is (more on that in a moment). Science is hugely important and for many very busy researchers it might be one of the only places they get commentary of scholarly communications issues.

Of course, the other option is a mythical "Only Nixon could have gone to China"-type revolution at Science where OA will blossom as never before. Like all mythology, I'm not holding my breath waiting for it to come true.

The good news is that there is a lot of very good commentary about open access out there, an awful lot of it by Walt Crawford in his online publication Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large.

So by way of antidote, I thought I'd highlight Crawford's very fine research and commentary on OA -- including his recent demolishing of the Bohannon OA sting published in Science a while back. Which brings us back to the first part of this post. Science and it's role in spreading OA fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Personally, I think a good first step for Anderson might be some honest reflection and commentary about the sting in light of the reaction it has provoked.

And here's Walt Crawford's Open Access Trilogy: Two taking a critical look at the idea of predatory open access journals and one exposing the "sting":

Ethics and Access 1: The Sad Case of Jeffrey Beall (direct link)

The saga of Jeffrey Beall going from self-appointed investigator into “predatory” open access publishers and journals (and, notably, only OA journals) to ludicrous analyst of serials pricing and the reasons for OA–and beyond that to denouncing OA and its advocates? It’s an odd story, and my version includes some really good ideas on avoiding sketchy journals (mostly from a notoriously worthwhile pseudonymous feathered library type) without buying into vigilantism.


Ethics and Access 2: The So-Called Sting (direct link)

John Bohannon wrote a news article in Science that either shows that many open access journals with APC charges have sloppy (or no) peer review…or shows almost nothing at all. This story discusses the article itself, offers a number of responses to it–and then adds something I don’t believe you’ll find anywhere else: A journal-by-journal test of whether the journals involved would pass a naive three-minute sniff test as to whether they were plausible targets for article submissions without lots of additional checking. Is this really a problem involving a majority of hundreds of journals–or maybe one involving 27% (that is, 17) of 62 journals? Read the story; make up your own mind.


Journals, “Journals” and Wannabes: Investigating the List (direct link)

Jeffrey Beall’s 4P (potential, probable, possible predatory) publisher and journal lists total 9,219 journals in early April 2014.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) totals 9.822 journals as of early June 2014.

9,219 is 93.9% of 9,822.

But: 90.8% of the journals in DOAJ are not represented in Beall’s lists.

A paradox? Not really.

This special issue does something I don’t believe has ever been done before (and is unlikely ever to be done again): looks at every journal from every publisher on Beall’s lists to see whether they’re plausible predators–whether they could reasonably attract any sensible author.

Yes, I even used a control group: members of the OASPA. And two subject groups from DOAJ as secondary control groups.

What’s here? A discussion of my methodology (of course); the results; the control-group results; the subject-group results; some notes on “the name game” (anyone want to help start up International Journal of International Journals?); a few notes from some “publisher” sites; some comments on fee vs. free; discussing real and possible predators–and a list of potentially predatory characteristics of subscription journal publishers; a couple of other issues; and some conclusions, including a new and faster “Is this a reasonable journal?” methodology.

There are also related materials from Crawford available through Cites & Insights Books.

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Around the Web: Elsevier vs. vs. Researchers

This is a tale of two companies and a bunch of not-so-innocent bystanders.

Both Elsevier and are for-profit companies in the scholarly communications industry. Elsevier is a publisher while is a platform for scholars that, among other things, allows them to post copies of their articles online for all the world to see.

Both are trying to make money by adding value within the scholarly communications ecosystem. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There is plenty of room within that ecosystem for all kinds of players, both for-profit and non-profit. It's all about the value you bring to the table. It's about whether or not you contribute to the overall health of the ecosystem or are a parasite.

Recently Elsevier has begun sending take-down notices to for articles that authors have posted where they are in violation of the copyright transfer agreement that the author has signed. Most authors sign such agreements with publishers.

On the one hand Elsevier is completely justified in enforcing their author agreements. I also have little sympathy for They are a for-profit company that certainly understands exactly what their customers are doing. On the other hand, this is a stark reminder to authors just who owns their research outputs. It's not the researchers, it's not the repositories where they might post copies of their articles. It's the publishers like Elsevier who own their research outputs.

Authors are caught between these two for-profit companies, one a massive dinosaur trying to protect its profit margins as it recalibrate to a new, more open world. The other a nimble start-up, trying to be a part of that new world. The road to that new world is full of bumps and false starts and blind alleys. Hopefully Elsevier and's troubles will help raise awareness about the fundamental unfairness of the current scholarly communications ecosystem.

Authors, if you don't want to get caught in the middle of this kind of struggle, don't sign away your copyright to publishers. There is another way.

It's not too late to sign the Cost of Knowledge boycott.

Many of the links below are courtesy of the Open Access Tracking Project.

As usual, if I've missed any important posts, please let me know either at jdupuis at yorku dot ca or in the comments.

Update 2013.12.12. Added new posts up to December 11.

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iPolitics series on Canadian science policy

Sarah Boon (Twitter, blog) has organized a series of posts on science policy in Canada over the next month or so to be published in the iPolitics online magazine. The first four are out with another eight (two approximately every Monday) between now and November 18th. Which is just in time for the upcoming Canadian Science Policy Conference in Toronto starting November 20th.

The articles are available open access. I'll list the first bunch here, including my own contribution comparing what's going on at Library and Archives Canada with similar assaults on science. I will update this post as more are published.

  1. 2013.10.14. Let Canadian science off the leash by Paul Dufour
  2. 2013.10.15. The war on knowledge: notes from the front by John Dupuis
  3. 2013.10.20. Why don’t cabinet ministers know anything about science? by Stephanne Taylor
  4. 2013.10.21. Blinded to science: The plight of basic research in Canada by Josh D. Neufeld
  5. 2013.10.27. The friction between politics and pure science by Jonathan Turner
  6. 2013.10.28. An ‘abundance’ of bears: Aglukkaq cold-shoulders the science by Sarah Boon
  7. 2013.11.03. The ABCs of the ELA debacle by Diane Orihel and Maude Barlow
  8. 2013.11.04. Biting through the muzzle on science by Kennedy Stewart
  9. 2013.11.10. Teaching scientists to talk to — not past — the public by Lisa Willemse
  10. 2013.11.12. The Open Data effect: a tool to keep governments honest by Dak T. de Kerckhove and J. Adam Phipps
  11. 2013.11.17. Where are all the MPs with PhDs? by Katie Gibbs
  12. 2013.11.18. Why Canada needs a science watchdog by Scott Findlay and Paul Dufour

Huge thanks to Sarah for organizing this. It's a great service to science in Canada to get this range of idea and opinion out there. Watch this space for further installments.

9 responses so far

Reading Diary: The innovative university: Changing the DNA of higher education from the inside out by Clayton M. Christensen and Henry J. Eyring

Sep 18 2013 Published by under acad lib future, academia, book review, faculty liaison

It took me a long time to get through The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out, something like eighteen months to finally wade through it. And it's not that it was even that bad. It a lot of ways, it was better than I expected. Part of it is the fact that it came out just before the MOOC craze hit and it seemed odd for a "future of higher education" book to sort of miss that boat. Part of it is the fact that Christensen and Eyring's book is very deeply rooted in the US experience so maybe parts of it weren't so relevant to my experience in Canada. But mostly I think it was me. Partly the logical breaks in the book made it easy to put down. Part of it was needing to digest what's been discussed. Part of it is that this book is not exactly a barn burner.

So, Clayton Christensen, he of disruptive innovation fame and fortune. Apply that theory to higher education and what do you get? Well, like I implied above, for something that came just before the more seriously touted disruptive innovation of MOOCs, something that ends up seeming strangely restrained. A nice history of Harvard opens the book, and at several chapters perhaps taking up a bit too much of it. The rest of the book uses the Mormon institution Ricks College as a case study in how higher education would serve students better if every institution didn't all blindly strive to be more like Harvard.

Sure, the "disruptive" innovations Christensen and Eyring promote most strongly like top-down planning, fanatical assessment, online courses and cheap adjunct profs are not necessarily universally lauded, but they definitely aren't as doctrinaire as many recent disruptophiles. And there was lots of balance in terms of the strong role they see for faculty and for physical campuses. They also recognize that all these disruptions involve tough choices, even if they are a little cavalier about some of the consequences. Basically, the message is that it's a bad thing if every single university strives to exactly emulate the Harvard model of research intensity and curricular planning. Different school can serve different student profiles in different ways.

If perhaps in need of an editor to chop 100 pages and nudge it away from an chummy old-boys-club feel, this is overall a decent if unexciting book. It is one that has much to disagree with in execution but much food for thought in terms of ultimate goal. I certainly didn't agree with most of their prescriptions but they definitely weren't as radical or as destructive as one might have assumed and ultimately the book served as a useful intellectual sounding board.

Any library serving a higher education patron base would benefit from this book as would most public library systems. Buy it for the prof in your life and watch the steam come out of her or his ears.

Christensen, Clayton M. and Eyring, Henry J. The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011.

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Science and the New Media Ecosystem, a talk by Bora Zivkovic at York University, May 6, 2013

Apr 29 2013 Published by under academia, culture of science, faculty liaison, yorku

A note for my Toronto area friends, Blogfather Bora Zivkovic will be giving a talk at York University in Toronto on May 6, 2013 from 2:00 to 3:30 pm.

Here's the info:

Science and the New Media Ecosystem

Bora Zivkovic, Blog Editor at Scientific American

Monday, May 6, 2013, 2:00 – 3:30 pm
Paul Delaney Gallery, Room 320, Bethune College
York University, Toronto

The whole media landscape is shifting and changing – newspapers on the decline with blogs, Twitter and YouTube on the rise.

Science is no different. Come listen to one of the pioneers of online science communication talk about how this new media landscape is shaping how science is done, evaluated and communicated in an increasingly connected world.

If you can't make the talk, there will be also be a ScienceOnline Toronto Tweetup at The Duke of York that evening starting at 7pm. Sign up at the Facebook page or just show up!

The talk is open to the public. If you'd like to attend but aren't sure about the logistics of getting to York, campus maps and directions are here. Subway construction has made getting to campus a bit complicated, so be aware of the various transit options on the map/directions page.

You can also just email me at jdupuis at yorku dot ca.

2 responses so far

Around the Web: Access Copyright sues York University

Apr 16 2013 Published by under academia, Canada, education, yorku

Since I work at York University, I'm going to refrain from commenting on this lawsuit. However, as is my practice I'll be creating and maintaining a list of relevant articles and resources here to help me stay current on the matter.

I am not attempting to create a comprehensive list.



Some Related Items on Canadian Copyright from 2012 & 2013


Chronology & Background for Access Copyright/York University Lawsuit (including 2012 & Earlier)


As usual, if I've made any errors of if I've missed anything significant, please let me know in the comments or at jdupuis at yorku dot ca.

2 responses so far

Around the Web: Yet more librarian angst, The business of literature and more

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Journal of Library Administration editorial board resigns over author rights

The Journal of Library Administration is published by Taylor & Francis, a big publishing conglomerate. According to Brian Mathews, while he was in the middle of putting together a special issue on the future of libraries he received notice that the editorial board was resigning due to conflicts with the publisher around what kind of author rights regime the journal should use. Here is the note he received from the board:

The Board believes that the licensing terms in the Taylor & Francis author agreement are too restrictive and out-of-step with the expectations of authors in the LIS community.

A large and growing number of current and potential authors to JLA have pushed back on the licensing terms included in the Taylor & Francis author agreement. Several authors have refused to publish with the journal under the current licensing terms.

Authors find the author agreement unclear and too restrictive and have repeatedly requested some form of Creative Commons license in its place.

After much discussion, the only alternative presented by Taylor & Francis tied a less restrictive license to a $2995 per article fee to be paid by the
Author. As you know, this is not a viable licensing option for authors from the LIS community who are generally not conducting research under large grants.

Thus, the Board came to the conclusion that it is not possible to produce a quality journal under the current licensing terms offered by Taylor & Francis and chose to collectively resign.

Bravo to the editorial board of JLA for taking such a principled stand.

For a bit more background, Jason Griffey gives the perspective of an author approached by Mathews who strongly disagreed with T&F's current author rights regime. From the other side, Chris Bourg gives the perspective of someone on the JLA editorial board and a bit on how they came to their decision.

Along with many others in the comments on the various blog posts, Peter Suber suggests the board take the next step and launch their own new journal. Suber also helpfully points to a list of journals that have done just that.

My take?

First of all, I think it's a bit unfortunate that Mathews took his rather forward-thinking project to a rather backwards-thinking traditional toll access journal. The way to envision the future is to be the future to want to happen, and it's hard to imagine T&F embodying the future of scholarly communications in a way that anybody but the big commercial publishers would like to see.

That being said, I do sincerely hope his project finds a more suitable home and that one of the themes it explores is the library's role in a fairer, more open scholarly communications ecosystem.

As for the future of JLA, I hope T&F is able to move into the future and create a author rights regime that is more in sync with what authors in the LIS fields are looking for. For the resigned editorial board, I wish for them a way forward, a new partnership with an institution or society that will allow them and the authors they recruit in the future to openly envision and create the future.

5 responses so far

Around the Web: What makes a librarian, Fending off university-attacking zombies and more

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