Archive for the 'culture of science' category

Around the Apocalyptic ScholComm Web: Why Science Journal Paywalls Have to Go

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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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Reading Diary: Bold Scientists: Dispatches From The Battle For Honest Science by Michael Riordan

The default mode, politically-speaking, for most scientists seems to be professionally neutral. In other words, most scientists would tend to see their personal political beliefs as more or less completely separate from their work as scientists. Even for politically sensitive topics like climate change, the tendency is to focus on the the best available evidence rather than commenting more directly on the potential policy implications of that evidence. Only by maintaining that politcal neutrality with scientists will be able to maintain their surface veneer of objectivity. If you're too political, maybe the public will stop believing that your evidence is disinterested.

Of course, how well is that working for you, scientists of the world? Especially with regard to those politically sensitive topics such as climate change? Maybe not so well as we would all hope.

But maybe there is another way, a way to use that evidence to be bolder and more engaged directly with the social and political implications of evidence? To forge a science in the public interest. Perhaps there's a risk involved, but maybe it's worth it.

Or at least that's the main thrust of the provocative new book by Michael Riordan, Bold Scientists: Dispatches From The Battle For Honest Science.

In his book Riordan takes a look at the lives and political and scientific work of a group of active scientists who are also active politically, or at least active promoting science in the public interest. Through their case studies he tackles very serious questions such as the relationship of science and society, the purpose of scientific research and mostly the very human aspects of the scientific enterprise that skew and bias the how science works, how evidence is constructed, what counts as evidence and importantly, what science gets done and who decides. At the core, Riordan is a science skeptic, leery of the undue influence that government and industry science have on our lives.


And it's a big but.

Where once a healthy skepticism of science was a progressive impulse, more recently a radical, dangerous and insanely unhealthy skepticism of science has become very much a fact on the conservative side of the ledger. Which is the balance that Riordan is striving for in his book: the need to really understand the biases and unspoken politics of science -- the relationship between nature, power and science -- but at the same time we need to respect and understand the process of science. Scientific consensus has a value in helping us understand the world. In particular for many environmental issues such as climate change and resource exploitation, scientific evidence is the best bet we have to help us understand the past, present and future of our fragile planet. Riordan sees a need to be honest with ourselves about what science is good for. We need to have an honest perspective about the place of humankind in nature. We need a science in the public interest.

And over all, I have to say that Riordan does a very good job of finding that balance.

Here's a quick recap of the case studies he describes, 1 per chapter:

  • Henry Lickers on Canadian First Nations environmental issues.
  • Ann Clarke on post-oil farming.
  • Craig Holdredge and Curt Meine on keep humanity's place in nature in perspective.
  • Asociación Pro-Búsqueda and others on using DNA find disappeared children in El Salvador.
  • David Lyon on government surveillance and threats to our privacy in the online world.
  • Bruce Levine questioning the chemical basis for psychiatric treatments.
  • John Smol speaking truth to the power of the Canadian government about the tar sands.
  • Tony Ingraffea on speaking the truth about fracking
  • Diane Orihel rallying to save the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area from Canadian government budget cuts.

Each and every one of these chapters tells an inspiring story. Probably the most inspiring and wrenching one concerns the efforts of El Salvador's Pro-Búsqueda and others to untangle the chaos brought on by so many kidnapped children who were forcibly adopted into families not their own. It's the longest and most involved chapter but it is well worth the time to explore.

From a Canadian perspective, the two of the final chapters were the most relevant and the ones that provoked silent cheers while reading. Both John Smol and Diane Orihel are heroes of Canadian science for standing up to a furiously anti-science government which would prefer that inconvenient scientific facts just not exist. And what better way to make those facts go away than to muzzle scientists and shut down research labs. Both their stories are wonderful to read. Orihel in particular, only a PhD student and still stubbornly rallying the public and taking on the Canadian government is beyond inspirational.

Overall a very fine book. I would have appreciated an index and perhaps a list of additional readings at the end. As well, the chapter titles could be more descriptive and at least from a reviewer's perspective having the profiled individual's name and cause front and centre a little bit more in each chapter heading would have been nice. But these are quibbles.

I would recommend this book to any library that collects about science and society or science policy. This book would also be appropriate for any public library and perhaps even high school libraries where young minds could be inspired to be fearless, speak truth to power and change the world.

(Review copy provided by the publisher.)

Riordan, Michael. Bold Scientists: Dispatches From The Battle For Honest Science. Toronto: Between the Lines, 2014. 256 pp. ISBN 9781771131247.

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The Canadian War on Science: The #Altmetrics impact of a science policy blog post

On May 20th, 2013 I published my most popular post ever. It was The Canadian War on Science: A long, unexaggerated, devastating chronological indictment. In it, I chronicled at some considerable length the various anti-science measures by the current Canadian Conservative government. The chronological aspect was particularly interesting as you could see the ramping up since the 2011 election where the Conservatives won a majority government after two consecutive minority Conservative governments. The post is my most popular by an of magnitude, with around 10 times more page views that the next most popular over a similar time frame. It is two orders of magnitude more popular that an average popular post, which is in the upper 100s.

I've updated the original post three times, with separate posts for new items twice, here and here.

I've done an altmetrics post before where I brought together what I'd discovered about that War on Science post's impact.

This is what I had to say about the rationale for tracking the impact of that original post, which still holds true.

As an exercise in alt-metrics, I thought I would share some of the reactions and impact this post has generated. It’s certainly been a bit of a ride for me. I have to admit to being very pleased with the reaction. So much so, it’s gotten me to think more deeply about this slightly unhinged chronological listing thing that I do and perhaps it’s relationship to higher principles in librarianship. Maybe it’s a thing. More on this in the weeks and months to come as I further process and think about this particular activity and how it manifests in my practice of librarianship.

But perhaps the most compelling reason to do this post is very simple. To demonstrate that a blog post can raise awareness, that it can have some kind of impact in the real world, that it can be a lightning rod for participation and a space to pool the collective intelligence of the wider community to increase everyone’s knowledge.

I've also posted a bit about what the post means in the real world, how it's used and perhaps some information literacy implications of my extended project on Canadian science policy.

This new post you are reading now brings the altmetrics data about that post up to date. The main reason I'm doing so is that I'm giving a presentation about altmetrics on January 29th, 2015 at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference on altmetrics using my War on Science post as a case study.

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'll post the slides here on the blog after the conference, probably next week.

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


The metrics that follow are as at January 27, 2015. I've included a few based on the impact of a post I did on the crisis at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans where I thought it was a bit hard to tease apart the impact of that post from the original post.

I will also note that I personally haven't mentioned my post on any media sites or discussion forums nor have I encouraged anyone to do so on my behalf. No self citation is involved.


Various Measures (Twitter, Facebook, etc)

Most of these measures are likely undercounted as not everything shows up in track backs, stats programs or Google searches. For mentions in comments sections or discussion forums this is doubly the case and for those I haven't been explicitly paying attention as long to catch them as they happen.

  • Mentions on about 387 Facebook pages, ie. Occupy Calgary.
  • 71,429 page views (using Google Analytics)
  • 106 links/mentions from blogs, website, etc(see below)
  • 9 Mentions in Books, Reports, Scholarly Articles and Presentations
  • 22 Total or Partial Reposting of List
  • 19 Mentions in Comments of Blog or Media Site
  • 19 Mentions in Discussion Forums, Chats, etc
  • 210 comments or trackbacks on the blog post itself
  • 15,000 (approx) Facebook likes
  • 2913 (approx) Twitter mentions
  • 199 Google+ +1's (likely undercounted. Prev post had higher number (255))


Blog or Website Link


Mentions in Books, Reports, Scholarly Articles and Presentations


Total or Partial Reposting of List (Most neither by permission nor attribution)


Mentions in Comments of Blog or Media Site (Permalinks to individual comments are not always available or particularly reliable)


Mentions in Discussion Forums, Chats, etc. (Very partial) (Various such as Reddit, Metafilter, etc.)

  • May 2013. The Canadian Government's War On Science / Slashdot
  • May 2013. The Canadian War on Science: A long, unexaggerated, devastating chronological indictment / Reddit
  • May 2013. The Canadian War on Science: A long, unexaggerated, devastating chronological indictment / Reddit
  • May 2013. The Canadian War on Science: A long, unexaggerated, devastating chronological indictment / Reddit
  • May 2013. The Canadian War on Science: A long, unexaggerated, devastating chronological indictment / Newsana
  • May 2013.
  • Jun 2013. This is what USA “Free Market” principles look like / Center for Inquiry forum
  • Jul 2013. Canadian Government War on Science / forum
  • Jan 2014. Harper's War on Science Gets Uglier / Metafilter
  • Jan 2014. Neil Young Facebook page
  • Jan 2014. Le Ministre de l'au-delà / Straight Dope forum
  • Jan 2014. William Gibson message board
  • Jan 2014. Is the Harper Government actually waging a war on science / Reddit
  • Feb 2014. Tar Sands Toxins with Keystone XL Link Underestimated... / Reddit
  • Feb 2014. What is the most embarrassing fact about your country ? / Reddit
  • Feb 2014. Is there some who is hated by the general public in your country / your country's no 1 public enemy ? (crime, cabinet) / City-Data forum
  • Apr 2014. Harper removing North Pacific Humpback whales from list of ‘threatened’ species because of pipeline. / Reddit
  • Apr 2014. Newly released federal documents show Tories have been thwarting scientists' efforts to keep Canadians informed on Arctic ice levels / Reddit
  • May 2014. America dumbs down / Reddit
  • Jun 2014. Calgary Puck forum
  • Jun 2014. Why does everyone on Reddit seem to hate the conservative party? / Reddit
  • Aug 2014. Canada and the governments war on Science / Reddit
  • Oct 2014. "Most scientists who work for the Canadian government are not adequately protected from political interference or assured of being able to speak freely and openly about their work" / Reddit
  • Oct 2014. Harper is "flirting with fascism" with "nefarious scheme": CTV Don Martin / Reddit
  • Oct 2014. Government exploits attacks on military to push security agenda, Greenwald says / Reddit
  • Oct 2014. Above Top Secret Forum
  • Nov 2014. The Chill in Canada's Climate Science: A CJFE Live Chat / Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
  • Dec 2014. Canadian government continues valiant fight in the war against science / Metafilter
  • Jan 2015. Stephen Harper continues to make Canada into an international environmental pariah / Reddit
  • Jan 2015. Calgary Puck forum


    Miscellaneous Links



    Real World Impacts (Contacts with politicians, published media interviews, media backgrounder interviews, invitations to speak, invitations to participate)


    Government of Canada Domains that Read Post (Estimates based on Google Analytics sample)



    Top referrer websites (Estimates based on Google Analytics sample)

    • Facebook: 36.07%
    • Direct: 22.17%
    • Slashdot: 17.23%
    • Twitter: 7.30%
    • Boing Boing: 5.80%
    • StumbleUpon: 4.72%
    • Google: 1.88%
    • Reddit: 1.40%
    • Slate: 1.05%
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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.


    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 Web: Science Policy!

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    Open Access Rants: On the wagon with Henry Ford & Steve Jobs

    Yes, it has become a trilogy. The two Twitter rants I recapped here sparked more angst and anguish in me, prompting me to write a third rant.

    As it became ready for Twitter publication and approached 800 words, it also became clear that this particular rant was fast outgrowing what I could reasonably expect people to follow on Twitter, easily over 40 tweets worth of text. As many epic fantasy series can attest, these things can get out the control of the author quite easily. At least I'm not pulling a GRRM and taking 6 or more years in between installments!

    I did sent out a tweet last night asking for advice and it was unanimous. Go straight to the blog version.

    So here it is. While not unleashed on Twitter, I hope it's taken in the same spirit of fast and loose commentary. With an edge, yes, but also open to discussion and debate. Not a final word, not even necessarily exactly what my own final thoughts will be on the subject, but quick and dirty meant to start rather than end the discussion.

    Here goes, exactly as it would have appeared on Twitter:

    Initiate final installment in the Open Access Rant Trilogy.

    How do we hang together on the goddam bus? How do we start getting from here to there? What roles do the different stakeholders need to play for a truly open scholarly communications system to become a reality? There are already lots of organizations holding lots of meetings every year, all with the goal of making OA a reality. There are also already lots of organizations holding lots of meetings each year hoping to to keep things from happening, or at least slowing down progress.

    Sadly, bringing all those people together and making universal OA happen is way above my pay grade.

    But I think I can at very least share some small bits of half-baked semi-rational “advice” for the various stakeholders.

    Funders: The golden rule. You have the gold, you can make (or at least nudge) the rules. The key is to find a way to aggregate the funds coming from different sources and make sure it ends up supporting the ecosystem not the rent-takers. Biggest problem? Disconnect between how money gets to publishers etc via libraries etc vs how research itself is funded. APCs solve some of that but create other problems too.

    Scholarly societies: It seems to me that OA is something where you should absolutely be world-beating leaders, not foot-draggers. Lead, don’t follow. That’s what your membership (and scholarship and society) deserves even if they don’t articulate it that way. Virtually every society mission statement has something about the public good. C’mon, do some good!

    Academic libraries/librarians: We’re in a tough spot. If all goes well, our currently well defined role in scholarly publishing (ie. wallet) will largely disappear. We need to find a new role, whether that’s some other kind of wallet, host, archive, publisher, navigator, guide on the side or likely some combination of all of them. My advice? We need to reconcile ourselves to wanting the old wallet role to go away because that’s just best for everyone. Think of it as those stages of grief, playing out over the next 5-10 years. It’s too easy to be in denial or anger, we need to bargain our way into the bigger conversation with the other stakeholders and get to acceptance.

    Authors: It’s hard to remember sometimes that the real reason for research isn’t to advance our careers but rather advancing our careers is a by-product of doing good work that advances the human condition in some way. Authors *are* the academy and can work towards saner research reward & incentive systems in academia.

    Institutions: Have institutional OA mandates. Support funder mandates. Make it easier for *all* your faculty and researchers to follow the various mandates, full time and part time. Work with *all* your scholars to make tenure/promotion/career path management incentives and rewards more open-friendly.

    Commercial publishers: Be the mammals, not the dinosaurs. There’s plenty of money to be made in scholarly publishing. But you knew that already and the smartest among you are already reimagining what open business models can look like.

    Publishing pundits & consultants: The good ones see the writing on the wall. Resist the temptation to take your clients’ money for fear, uncertainty and doubt. Get in the business of transforming dinosaurs into mammals.

    Open Access pundits: Leadership without the “dancing on the head of a pin” and “my way or the highway” arguments would be nice even if sometimes the fine points are important. Let’s find a way to lead people forward, recognizing that a common goal doesn’t need a common path to get there. I like some of the Bolman/Gallos ideas on political & symbolic academic leadership.

    To all the stakeholders: if you imagine that your constituencies aren't ready for this, or that it’s not really in their best interest or whatever rationalization you use to hang on to the status quo just a little longer, just remember what Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Or if you want the same idea from somebody who’s a lot more post-industrial, Steve Jobs, “People don't know what they want until you show it to them.”

    This ranty list of likely irrational suggestions is only my own and therefore must be biased, incomplete and at least partially blind. I see myself in many of my suggestions to the various stakeholders. I admit to not being immune.

    I welcome all your additions and corrections.

    Hanging together on the goddam wagon with Henry Ford and Steve Jobs.

    What’s got me all worked up right now? These two: &

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    Open Access Rants: Hanging together on the goddam wagon

    Twitter is a great place to rant and rave sometimes. You can feel free to let loose and say what you're thinking without necessarily feeling that you need to have completely well-formed ideas. The enforced brevity can sometimes also be a plus, as it forces you to distill what you want to say to the bare minimum. It it possible to string together longer thoughts across multiple tweets but it becomes a bit awkward to read.

    I let loose a couple of Open Access related rants over the last few days and I thought I'd share them here, slightly cleaned up to make them more readable. Both are fairly short but ended up stretching across 15 or so tweets.

    The first one was inspired by a recent trend I've seen in anti-OA commentary, largely at the Scholarly Kitchen but pretty pervasive.

    OA rant initiated.

    Lots of the anti-OA commentary I’m seeing online these days is of the “Gee it would be nice if it could work in some ideal world but it just can’t in our hard, practical, fallen world. You OA advocates just don’t understand” type. Very condescending, very “little pat on the head there there poor dear.” But it’s not OA advocates that have the problem. It’s not us that don’t understand.

    The truth is that there is a way to make OA work, for all the warts and two-steps-forward-one-step-back we see here in very early days of science on the web. There’s plenty of money in the system right now to publish quality science to the web for all to read. Look at arxiv, PeerJ, PLOS, SCOAP3. We just need to put the past aside, get all the stakeholders together, and find a way to make it happen, to get the money from where it is to where it should be without all the rent-taking intermediaries.

    At the end of the day, publishers, libraries, scholarly societies exist to disseminate science and serve their constituencies: scholars, funders, society as a whole. Not the other way around. The burden on those institutions is to “add value” to the processes the true stakeholders really value.

    As Faulkner said, “Them that’s going get in the goddamn wagon. Them that ain’t, get out of the goddamn way.”

    Here’s a couple of the commentaries I mention above, very offhand dismissals of OA:

    The Faulkner quote is inspired here:


    The second rant is related to the first but is more directed to specific "OA skeptic" rhetoric that I see that we can't have OA because it threatens publishing revenue at scholarly societies and small journals and hence their viability.

    Initiate Open Access Rant #2

    This time inspired by this: & some of the feedback on the Draft Tri-Agency OA policy:

    As well, I’m adapting a bit from a comment I made on Friendfeed.

    So, societies are worried about OA mandates. Hey, you societies should concentrate on the value you provide to your members not to mention your lofty missions/goals about promoting scholarship & the common good. What you shouldn’t be doing is using publishing revenue (ie. public money via library subscriptions) to subsidize member programs.

    Same with how governments use tax revenues to fund research. They don't fund research for the sake of supporting society or commercial publishers' journal programs. They fund research for lots of reasons, but none of them involve making sure that publishers are taken care of. As a result, government OA mandates shouldn't spend a lot of time worrying about how mandating OA is going to affect the publishing ecosystem.

    It's up to publishers (and libraries) to figure out how they are going to add value in a changing landscape. Sure, governments can have programs to support publishing ecosystems (added: and contribute to institutional overheads which may end up supporting libraries), especially in a small country like Canada. In particular they should support transitioning to online/OA. But those should be totally separate from the funding of the research itself.

    Rant over. Please resume your previously scheduled daily activities.

    As kind of postscript: "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." - Ben Franklin


    Yes, rants. Perhaps not entirely fair. At the same time, I'm willing to stand by what I say here. It's time to start hanging together on the goddam wagon.

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    Open letter to AAAS concerning their new journal Science Advances?

    To continue the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science theme, I present the text of a recent open letter I signed to the AAAS concerning their new journal Science Advances.

    Thanks to Jonathan Tennant for spearheading this effort. You can read more about the rationale behind writing the letter and the process involved at Jon's blog here. As well, he's listing the other places where the letter is being disseminated.

    Dear  AAAS,

    This is an open letter concerning the recent launch of the new open access journal, Science Advances. In addition to the welcome diversification in journal choices for authors looking for open access venues, there are many positive aspects of Science Advances: its broad STEM scope, its interest in cross-disciplinary research, and the offering of fee waivers. While we welcome the commitment of the Association to open access, we are also deeply concerned with the specific approach. Herein, we outline a number of suggestions that are in line with both the current direction that scholarly publishing is taking and the needs expressed by the open access community, which this journal aims to serve.

    The first of these issues concerns the licensing terms of the journal articles. The default choice of a non-commercial licence (CC BY-NC) places unnecessary restrictions on reuse and does not meet the standards set out by the Budapest Open Access Initiative. Many large funders, including Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust, do not recognise this as an open license. The adoption of CC BY-NC as the default license means that many researchers will be unable to submit to Science Advances if they are to conform to their funder mandates unless they pay for the upgrade to CC BY. There is little evidence that non-commercial restrictions provide a benefit to the progress of scholarly research, yet they have significant negative impact, limiting the ability to reuse material for educational purposes and advocacy. For example, NC-encumbered materials cannot be used on Wikipedia. The non-commercial clause is known to generate ambiguities and uncertainties (see for example, NC Licenses Considered Harmful) to the detriment of scholarly communication. Additionally, there is little robust evidence to suggest that adopting a CC-BY license will lead to income loss for your Association, and the $1,000 surcharge is difficult to justify or defend. The value of the CC BY license is outlined in detail by the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.

    We raise an additional issue with the $1,500 surcharge for articles more than 10 pages in length. In an online-only format, page length is an arbitrary unit that results from the article being read in PDF format. Can the AAAS explain what the additional costs associated with the increased length are that would warrant a 50% increase in APC for an unspecified number of additional digital pages? Other leading open access journals, such as PeerJ, the BMC series, and PLOS ONE, offer publication of articles with unlimited page lengths. The extra costs create constraints that may adversely incentivize authors to exclude important details of their study, preventing replication and hindering transparency, all of which are contrary to the aims of scholarly publication. Therefore it seems counterproductive to impose this additional charge; it discriminates against researchers’ best effort to communicate their findings with as much detail as necessary.

    We feel that the proposed APCs and licencing scheme are detrimental to the AAAS and the global academic community. As such, we recommend that Science Advances:

    • Offers CC BY as standard for no additional cost, in line with leading open access publishers, so authors are able to comply with respective funding mandates;

    • Provides a transparent calculation of its APCs based on the publishing practices of the AAAS and explains how additional value created by the journal will measure against the significantly high prices paid by the authors;

    • Removes the surcharges associated with increased page number;

    • Releases all data files under CC0 (with CC BY optional), which has emerged as the community standard for data and is used by leading databases such as Figshare and DataDryad.

    We hope that you will consider the points raised above, keeping in mind how best to serve the scientific community, and use Science Advances to add the AAAS to the group of progressive and innovative open access scholarly publishers. We hope AAAS will collaborate with the academic community to facilitate the dissemination of scientific knowledge through a journal committed to fully embracing the principles of Open Access.

    We kindly request that you allow your response(s) to be made public along with this letter, and look forward to hearing your response soon.

    Signatories (please note that we do not formally represent the institutions listed):

    1. Jonathan P. Tennant, PhD student, Imperial College London (, @protohedgehog)
    2. Timothée Poisot, University of Canterbury (, @tpoi)
    3. Joseph R. Hancock, Montana State University-Bozeman (, @Joe_R_Hancock)
    4. M Fabiana Kubke, University of Auckland, New Zealand (, @kubke)
    5. François Michonneau, University of Florida (, @FrancoisInvert)
    6. Michael P. Taylor, University of Bristol (, @MikeTaylor)
    7. Graham Steel, Open Science, Scotland (, @McDawg)
    8. Jérémy Anquetin, Section d’Archéologie et Paléontologie, Switzerland (, @FossilTurtles)
    9. Emily Coyte, University of Bristol (, @emilycoyte)
    10. Benjamin Schwessinger, UC Davis (, @schwessinger)
    11. Erin C. McKiernan, independent scientist (, @emckiernan13)
    12. Tom Pollard, PhD student, University College London (, @tompollard)
    13. Aimee Eckert, MRes student, Imperial College London (, @aimee_e27)
    14. Liz Allen, ScienceOpen, San Francisco (, @LizAllenSO)
    15. Dalmeet Singh Chawla, Imperial College London (, @DalmeetS)
    16. Elizabeth Silva, San Francisco (, @lizatucsf)
    17. Nicholas Gardner, Marshall University (, @RomerianReptile)
    18. Nathan Cantley, Medical Student, Queens University Belfast (, @NathanWPCantley)
    19. John Dupuis, Librarian, York University, Toronto (, @dupuisj)
    20. Christina Pikas, Doctoral Candidate, University of Maryland (, @cpikas)
    21. Amy Buckland, Librarian, McGill University, Montreal (, @jambina)
    22. Lenny Teytelman,, Berkeley, CA (, @lteytelman)
    23. Peter Murray-Rust, University of Cambridge, UK (, @petermurrayrust)
    24. Zen Faulkes, The University of Texas-Pan American,, @DoctorZen)
    25. Robert J. Gay, The University of Arizona/Mission Heights Preparatory High School, AZ, USA (, @paleorob)
    26. Peter T.B. Brett, University of Surrey, UK (, @PeterTBBrett)
    27. Anders Eklund, Linköping University, Sweden (, @wandedob)
    28. Johannes Björk, Institute of Marine Sciences, Barcelona, Spain (, @AwfulDodger)
    29. William Gunn, Mendeley, London, UK,, @mrgunn)
    30. Nitika Pant Pai, McGill University, Montreal, Canada ( @nikkiannike
    31. Philippe Desjardins-Proulx, Ph.D. student (, @phdpqc).
    32. Joshua M. Nicholson, PhD candidate Virginia Tech, VA and founder The Winnower, VA (, @thewinnower)
    33. Scott Edmunds, GigaScience, BGI Hong Kong (, @SCEdmunds)
    34. Steven Ray Wilson, University of Oslo (, @stevenRayOslo)
    35. Stuart Buck, Vice President of Research Integrity, Laura and John Arnold Foundation (, @stuartbuck1)
    36. B. Arman Aksoy, Ph.D. student, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (, @armish)
    37. Nazeefa Fatima, University of Huddersfield, UK (, @NazeefaFatima)
    38. Ross Mounce, University of Bath, UK (, @rmounce)
    39. Heather Piwowar, Impactstory, (, @researchremix
    40. Avinash Thirumalai, Ph.D student, East Tennessee State University (
    41. Jason Priem, Impactstory (, @jasonpriem
    42. Clayton Aldern, University of Oxford, UK (, @compatibilism)
    43. Marcus D. Hanwell, Technical Leader, Kitware, Inc., (, @mhanwell)
    44. Kristen L. Marhaver, NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Carmabi Foundation (, @CoralSci)
    45. David Michael Roberts, ARC Research Associate, University of Adelaide (
    46. Brian Hole, Ubiquity Press, UK (, @ubiquitypress)
    47. Alexander Grossmann, University of Applied Sciences Leipzig, Germany and co-founder of ScienceOpen, Berlin/Boston (, @SciPubLab)
    48. David L.Vaux, Assistant Director, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Australia (
    49. John Murtagh, Repository Manager, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine @LSHTMlibrary
    50. Alecia Carter, University of Cambridge, UK (, @alecia_carter)
    51. Alex O. Holcombe, University of Sydney (, @ceptional)
    52. Ignacio Torres Aleman, Cajal Institute, Madrid. Spain. (
    53. Sarah Molloy, Research Support Manager, Queen Mary University of London (, @moragm23)
    54. John Lamp, Deakin University, Australia (, @johnwlamp)
    55. Matthew Todd, The University of Sydney and Open Source Malaria,
    56. Anusha Seneviratne, Imperial College London (, @anushans)
    57. Guido Guidotti, Harvard University (
    58. Joseph McArthur, Assistant Director, Right to Research Coalition(, @mcarthur_joe)
    59. Carlos H. Grohmann, University of São Paulo, Brazil (
    60. Jan de Leeuw, University of California Los Angeles, (
    61. Jung H. Choi, Associate Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology (
    62. Ernesto Priego, Centre for Information Science, City University London, UK (
    63. Brian Pasley, University of California, Berkeley (
    64. Stacy Konkiel, (, @skonkiel)
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    66. Raphael Levy, University of Liverpool (
    67. Paul Coxon, University of Cambridge (
    68. Nitika Pant Pai, McGill University, Montreal, Canada (
    69. David Carroll, Queen’s University Belfast  (, @davidecarroll)
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    71. Marco Arieli Herrera-Valdez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (, @brujonildo)
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    82. Lachlan Coin, University of Queensland and founder of Academic Karma ( @AcademicKarma )
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    85. Rowena Ball, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia (
    86. Daniel Swan, Oxford Gene Technology, UK ( @DrDanielSwan)
    87. Stephen Curry, Imperial College London, UK (, @Stephen_Curry)
    88. Abigail Noyce, Boston University (, @abbynoyce)
    89. Jordan Ward, UCSF, San Francisco, CA, USA (, @Jordan_D_Ward)
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    95. Ed Trollope, Director, Things We Don’t Know CIC (, @TWeDK)
    96. Stephen Beckett, Ph.D. student, University of Exeter (, @BeckettStephen)
    97. Andrew D. Steen, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (, @drdrewsteen)
    98. Mari Sarv, Estonian Literary Museum (, @kaskekanke)
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    100. Erika Amir, Geologist, Massachusetts, USA (, @geoflier)
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    106. Matthew Clapham, University of California Santa Cruz (,@meclapham)
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    112. Steven Buyske, Rutgers University (
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    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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