Archive for the 'scholarly publishing' category

Reading Diary: Data Management for Researchers: Organize, maintain and share your data for research success by Kristin Briney

Kristin Briney's Data Management for Researchers: Organize, maintain and share your data for research success is a book that should be on the shelf (physical or virtual) of every librarian, researcher and research administrator. Scientists, engineers, social scientists, humanists -- anyone who's work involves generating and keeping track of digital data. This is the book for you.

Like the title says -- data management for researchers. If you have data and you're a researcher, this is the book for you. Organize, maintain and share, the title says. If you're a researcher that needs to manage data, organizing, maintaining and sharing that data is exactly what you want to do.

And Kristin Briney is just the person to help. With a PhD in chemistry, you know she's been on the researcher side of the equation. And with a Master's in Library and Information Studies, you also know that she's studied the managing/organizing/sharing side of the equation and can bring deep insight and solid advice there too.

And that's the focus of the book -- insight and advice. Insight into the problems and issues around dealing with data and advice with how to deal with them.

The chapter topic areas give a good sense of the topics covered, so I don't have to go into detail with explanations of what's covered:

  • The data problem
  • The data lifecycle
  • Planning for data management
  • Documenting your data
  • Organizing your data
  • Improving data analysis
  • Managing secure and private data
  • Short-term storage
  • Preserving and archiving your data
  • Sharing/publishing your data
  • Reusing data

Briney covers a lot of ground and goes into pretty deep detail for most areas. Inevitably, not every section will be equally relevant to every potential reader and not every detail or discussion will be new information to everyone. Given breadth of topics and the level of detail in each area and that Briney mostly starts each section from square one, this book will work for everyone at pretty well every skill level.

Some judicious skimming will be inevitable for most potential readers, as will perhaps some selective Googling for addition background information in certain area. Briney has you covered. In fact, an interesting way to deal with the detail might be by taking this book in two passes. The first pass to get a sense of the "universe of data things you need to know" and a second more focused on "what I need to know to survive my current situation." Whether that situation is a librarian hoping to build a data service, a PI hoping to get a little better at the things an onrushing funder mandate is going to require or a grad student ready to tackle their first real project, all the information you need is there. You just have to zero in on it.

That being said, the sections on data management plans, preserving & archiving and sharing data are all must-read sections for everyone. Making research data openly available where possible, for reuse and replication purposes, is an important goal for, in particular, all of science.

I recommend this book without hesitation for all academic libraries. Individual researchers, research administrators, funding agency employees and academic librarians would all find much useful information. Simply giving copy to new graduate students is probably a worthwhile investment at any institution.

Briney, Kristin. Data Management for Researchers: Organize, maintain and share your data for research success. Exeter, UK: Pelagic Publishing, 2015. 250pp. ISBN-13: 978-1784270117

(Review copy provided by publisher.)

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Presentation: Predatory Open Access Journals: Myths and Realities

A couple of weeks ago I gave a presentation as part of Open Access Week at the Ontario College of Art and Design University (ie. OCADU) on "predatory" open access journals. It seemed to be well-received at the time and since then I've gotten some positive feedback as well.

So I thought I'd share the slides here in case others find what I did at OCADU useful in their own work. What I talked about is along the same lines as a post I published a while back on Some perspective on “predatory” open access journals.

First of all, I'd like to thank Chris Landry of the OCADU Library for inviting me to present. It was an honour and a huge pleasure to be invited. Chris has a nice recap of their OA Week celebrations here.

And here are my slides. Enjoy!

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Around the Web: Ada Lovelace Day, Wikipedia & Women in Science

My library is hosting a Ada Lovelace Day event tomorrow (ok, a little late...). Continuing in a tradition of having Women in Science Wikipedia Edit-a-thons, we're hosting our own Wikipedia Women in Science Edit-a-thon!

I've been doing a fair bit of reading over the last couple of years about Wikipedia culture and especially how it relates to the under-representation of women both as editors and as subjects of articles. So I thought I'd share some of my readings here with all of you.

Of course, this list is in no way comprehensive or complete. I welcome suggestions for further readings in the comments, either on edit-a-thons, women in science, Wikipedia culture or any of the intersections of those topics.

 

About Wikipedia Edit-a-thons

 

About Wikipedia and Editor Culture More Generally

I'm working on a LibGuide for the event which I'll post here once I make it live.

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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.)

======

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.

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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".

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Reading Diary: The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age by Astra Taylor

I am not trying to deny the transformative nature of the Internet, but rather that we've lived with it long enough to ask tough questions.
...
I've tried to avoid the Manichean view of technology, which assumes either that the Internet will save us or that it is leading us astray, that it is making us stupid or making us smart, that things are black or white. The truth is subtler: technology alone cannot deliver the cultural transformation we have been waiting for; instead, we need to first understand and then address the underlying social and economic forces that shape it. Only then can we make good on the unprecedented opportunity the Internet offers and begin to make the ideal of a more inclusive and equitable culture a reality. If we want the Internet to truly be a people's platform, we will have to work to make it so. (p. 8, 10)

Astra Taylor's The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age is easily one of the best Web culture books I have ever read, if not the best. It takes the onrushing revolution in art and culture and journalism head on. Of the books I've read recently it compares and contrasts very nicely with Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age by Cory Doctorow. Like Doctorow's very fine book it's about what may be the central artistic/commercial tension in the Internet age: consumers of information (art, scholarship, journalism, etc.) want it to be free but the creators and distributors of that information (artists, scholars, publishers, writers, etc.) want the information to be expensive.

As the original quote from Stuart Brand goes, "On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other" with Brand's follow up, "Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. ...That tension will not go away."

And what's interesting of course, is just how ingrained this tension is. While looking for a link to the publisher's page I started typing into my search window "astra taylor the people's..." and what should the type ahead show me? Yep, you guessed it: "astra taylor the people's platform pdf." It's ironic that a book that makes the case for financially supporting creating expression in the Internet age is, well, a book that a lot people on the web don't seem to want to pay for.

Paying for culture is a hard case to make sometimes, in a world where it seems more normal to pay for the gadgets that deliver the culture and rely on the creators of that culture to trade their work for "exposure." The commonly accepted devil's bargain is that at some point in the hopefully not-too-far-distant-future they will be able to trade that exposure for something that will pay the bills.

Which is all a bit odd for me, given my current vantage point. I'm writing this in Paris. Where there's a book store on every block and a record store on every other block. And this is only a very slight exaggeration for effect. The French are very protective of their culture, to an extent that seems a bit unhinged to we ruthless count-every-penny North Americans. Amazon and it's ilk discounting books is actually a controversy in France. Bande dessinées are expensive. Print books are expensive, CDs and records are expensive. Yet the shops are crowded and people seem to be willing to trade some cash for knowing that the arts are taken care of. If Silicon Valley disruptors are storming the cultural Bastille, the French are having nothing of it. Even Uber has to play by the rules, no race to the bottom here. Or at least a much slower race.

Astra Taylor might find her ideas have more resonance in Europe than in the land of disruption and discounting and dog eat dog.

[W]e should strive to cultivate the cultural commons as a vibrant and sustainable sphere, on ethat exists for its own sake, not to be eploited by old-media oligarchs, new media moguls, insatiable shareholders, for-profit pirates, or data-miners and advertisers. (p. 176)

This book makes the case -- that a truly democratic culture is worth directly supporting in the online world in the exact same way as the offline world. And it is worth supporting culture both by the everyday choices of the average cultural consumer as well as through the levers of various government agencies. In other words, a sustainable model for cultural support. Culture is a commons, one that needs to be supported. The new "tragedy of the commons" is not one of enclosure but of under-investment. A commons shouldn't be built on exploiting free labour on social media sites where the users are actually the "product" for advertisers or laying waste to the environment to mine precious metals to manufacture gadgets. We have to build in equity. We need free culture in the sense of a public library, not corporatized "free culture" like YouTube videos or Google Books or Facebook or Twitter.

(Fear not, Taylor does mention her support of a sustainable, open scientific commons.)

Appropriately, the conclusion of Taylor's book is subtitled "In Defense of the Commons: A Manifesto for Sustainable Culture."

And the first paragraph of that chapter reads,

It may seem counterintuitive at a time of information overload, viral media, aggregation, and instant commenting to worry about our cultural supply. But we are at the risk of starving in the midst of plenty. A decade ago few would have thought a book like In Defense of Food was necessary. Food, after all, had never been cheaper or more abundant; what could be wrong with the picture? A similar shift of perception needs to happen in the cultural realm. Culture, even if it is immaterial, has material conditions, and free culture, like cheap food, incurs hidden costs. (p. 214)

Techno Uber Optimists beware. Taylor isn't afraid of saying bad things about the Internet (or good things, for that matter). She doesn't treat is like some sort of anthropomorphized overly sensitive person who can't deal with any even mild criticism. She treats gurus and pundits of all stripes with the same critical respect. She asks the tough questions and reasons carefully to work towards some answers, or at least ideas that might lead to some answers.

This is a great book, read it, argue with it, agree with it violently and disagree with it just as violently but give it's arguments a fair hearing. Recommended for all libraries and anyone interested in the future of culture.

Our communications system is at a crossroads, one way leading to an increasingly corporatized and commercialized world where we are treated as targeted customers, the other to a true cultural commons where we are nurtured as citizens and creators. To create a media environment where democracy can thrive, we need to devise progressive policy that takes into account the entire context in which art, journalism, and information are created, distributed and, preserved, online and off. We need strategies and policies for an age of abundance, not scarcity, and to invent new ways of sustaining and managing the Internet to put people before profit. Only then will a revolution worth cheering be upon us. (p. 232)

Taylor, Astra. The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age. Toronto: Random House Canada, 2014. 288pp. ISBN-13: 978-1250062598

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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.

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My new job: Owner and publisher of the International Journal of Usability, Systems and Technology

I really appreciate how all my Internet friends have followed me from major career announcement to major career announcement over the last few years. From my job at Elsevier all the way to last year's temporary detour as Chief Advisor on Science Libraries for the Government of Canada! The last few years sure have been exciting but it's time for a new challenge.

And yes, I'm taking a leap back into the scholarly publishing world. This time I'm starting up my own open access scholarly publishing company to publish in all the STEMM fields with a special focus on computer science, which is, of course, my own original scholarly field.

I would like to announce the launch of a brand new open access scholarly publishing company: Dupuis Science & Computing and Medicine!.

It's been a long and strange journey to this point, but I think it's the right time. The production of scholarship is exploding, with more and more articles published every year in an ever increasing number of scholarly journals. But so much of what is being published is locked behind the rapacious paywalls of predatory commercial and society publishers. Time to liberate the articles!

The growth of new business models has allowed pretty well anyone with an entrepreneurial bent to enter the market and advance the cause of science and scholarship. So, I thought, time to stop being a librarian, sitting around thinking deep thoughts about how the scholarly communications ecosystem should work and take the plunge! Time to become a Man of Action! Time to make some money!

The name of my new journal is representative of where scholarship in computer science is headed -- open access, international in scope and focused on how real people interact with systems and technology.

Which is why my extensive focus groups have decided on calling the name International Journal of Usability Systems & Technology as the umbrella journal title. As the DSCaM publishing empire grows, we'll be adding new sections as new opportunities arise to move into new fields. The inaugural title will be on Concurrent Algorithms and Network Topology.

But enough of all the words. Time for deeds. Here are the specs for the new publisher, starting with the first journal to be launched and them with a brief word on plans for the future.

Consider this announcement a Call For Papers for IJUST-CANT.

 

JOURNAL INFORMATION

OWNER AND PUBLISHER: John Dupuis

MANAGING DIRECTOR: tba

ISSN: XXXX-XXXX

LICENCE: CC-BY-NC-ND

OPEN ACCESS AUTHOR PROCESSING CHARGE: US$500 per article, with bulk discounts available. Payment is by cash, credit cards, Amazon gift cards and Canadian Tire money.

INITIAL ROUND OF FUNDING: We are planning a GoFundMe campaign.

SPAM EMAIL POLICY: Please leave your email in the comments to subscribe to our hourly update email.

PEER REVIEW: We promise sound, complete and authoritative peer review. Authors are free to nominate their own colleagues or family members to serve as reviewers for their submissions. A valid gmail account is all that is needed.

TIME TO PUBLICATION: We promise publication immediately upon acceptance of payment.

FORMATTING: Please use the following stylesheet.

DIGITAL PRESERVATION & ARCHIVING: We are part of the LICKSYS and CLICKSIS systems.

 

FIRST JOURNAL LAUNCHED APRIL 1 2015

FOUNDING JOURNAL SCOPE: Concurrent Algorithms and Network Topology (IJUST-CANT)

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Pending. Are you interested? Apply in the comments!

SAMPLE ARTICLES: I have specifically recruited top researchers to launch the journal with two articles. These amazing first articles are definitively Nobel-worthy.

IJUST-CANT FOUNDING EDITORIAL BOARD

Vannevar Brush
Charles Cabbage
Rachelle Carson
Walt Crawford
Marie Curry
Edgar Dijkstra
Albert Eisenstein
Rosamund Franklin
Curt Gödel
Jane Goodell
Grace M. Hooper
Steve Jobes
Aida Lovelace
Claude Shanahan
Allen Turning
Niklaus Worth

 

SECOND ROUND OF JOURNALS TO BE LAUNCHED DAILY STARTING MAY 2015

Over the next 12 months or so, we will be launching a stable of over 1000 journals across all of the areas of computing and information technology. All will be IJUST titles. Each will need an editor-chief and editorial board. Please apply in the comments. Please nominate your friends, colleagues, relatives and pets for these roles. Each nomination should be accompanied by US$100 deposited in my BitCoin account.

Some forthcoming examples of journals include:

IJUST-WONT: Website Ontology Network Technology
IJUST-PAY: Packet Algorithm Y2K
IJUST-SCAM: Security Certificate Algorithm Maintenance
IJUST-BULL: Best Usability Liability Liaison
IJUST-CRAP: Canadian Re-usability Accessibility Planning

Since we need so many more journals over the next year or so, anyone who wishes to start a journal under the conditions explained above, please apply in the comments. By applying and subsequently submitting the New Journal fee of US$5000, you will be automatically named as editor-in-chief of your new journal and will be able to appoint it's Editorial Board. I will automatically be a member of that board with an honorarium of US$1000 per year, payable immediately upon acceptance.

We are very open-minded and are willing to consider publishing your conference

Final note: As noted from above, I'm looking for a candidate for Editor-in-Chief. I'm hoping the new editor will pay me in the range of US$10,000 per year for this incredible honour. Please feel free to submit your application by way of a comment on this post.

I'm looking forward to our first editorial board meeting this coming May in Paris!

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Some perspective on "predatory" open access journals

Predatory open access journals seem to be a hot topic these days. In fact, there seems to be kind of a moral panic surrounding them. I would like to counter the admittedly shocking and scary stories around that moral panic by pointing out that perhaps we shouldn't be worrying so much about a fairly small number of admittedly bad actors and that we should be more concerned with the larger issues around the limitations of peer review and how scientific error and fraud leak through that system.

I'm hoping my methodology here will be helpful. I hope to counter the predatory open access (OA) journal story with a different and hopefully just as compelling narrative. Fist of all, after gathering together some of the stories about predatory OA journals, I will present some of what's been written recently about issues in scientific peer review, it's problems and potential solutions.

Then I'll be presenting a more direct counter narrative to the predatory one. First of all, I'll present some information about the fantastic resource Retraction Watch. Then I'll present some concrete case studies on how traditional peer reviewed commercial publishing fails in all the same way that supposedly predatory publishing fails.

Finally, using the incredible work of Walt Crawford and others, I'll gather some resources that will further debunk the whole "predatory" open access moral panic and further suggest that perhaps it isn't the bogus OA journals that are the main source of "predatory" publishing, but rather that the big commercial and society publishers perhaps deserve that label more.

I want to be perfectly clear. My issue isn't with the necessity of peer review and it's importance in science. Issues like climate change and vaccination panics highlight why trusting in peer reviewed science is most responsible thing to do. After all, “Research misconduct accounts for a small percentage of total funding”. I think it's probably safe to say that at the end of the day, peer review and scientific publishing work fairly well as far as fraud and general quality levels go.

But.

Both peer review in particular and the scholarly communications ecosystem in general are human systems with all the potential for the full range of human weaknesses that implies: folly, error, bias, fallibility and bad faith. This post will explore some of the dimensions of folly, error, bias and bad faith in scholarly communication.

Let's start our adventures with some media stories and cases studies of bad faith -- true predatory open access journals.

Predatory journals are a real problem, of course, as we can see from the list above. However, I think the moral panic about their extent and impact tends to be exaggerated. I would really love to see more balance in reporting about predatory journals that contrast the real issues with scam journals with what I think are the far more pressing issues in scholarly communications. In other words, the flaws and limitations in the peer review system and the far more "predatory" traditional system of scholarly publishing that's controlled by the big commercial and society publishers. It's those publishers that are the leeches affecting the system.

These stories and anecdotes about predatory journals tend to acquire the mythic stature of the stories and anecdotes about vaccination that drive the anti-vaccine movement. Those tragic, personal stories take on a weight and social impact that's disproportional to the actual scientific and statistical significance.

 

Time to explore bias and human fallibility a little bit. Here are some resources about the general state of peer review, talking in general about the issues around peer review and the potential for reform. This list is meant to contrast the moral panic about "predatory" open access journals with a sober discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of peer review across all of science publishing, not just some fairly specific issues with a limited number of open access journals.

General Resources on Quality in Scientific Publishing, particularly on Issues with and Reform of Peer Review

(The Shit My Reviewers Say tumblr is a lighter-side exploration of some of these issues.)

 

More importantly perhaps, there is another set. There is no shortage of fairly well publicized cases of significant retractions or scientific fraud that got past the peer review process in traditionally published, peer reviewed journals, mostly from the big commercial or society publishers. In other words, where peer review was the issue, not the subscription model.

The brain child of Ivan Oransky, Retraction Watch is an amazing resource in this area, so before we get to the main event here are some advanced reading from and about that fine resource.

If you want to know about the failing of the big publishers when it comes to quality control or about researcher perpetrating scientific fraud, Retraction Watch is the definitive site on the web.

Resources by and about Retraction Watch

The site Science Fraud was taken down by various legal threats. While it existed, it was an amazing resource for uncovering practices such as falsified images or tables. Some posts are retrievable via the Internet Archive.

SCIgen is a website that allow anyone to automatically generate a bogus paper. It is often used to generate garbage papers for predatory open access journal stings. SCIgenDetection is one site that detects SCIgen papers. The SCIgen page has a number of examples and other resources related to automatically generated bogus scientific pages.

Springer has recently teamed up with Université Joseph Fourier to release the a generalized open source software package SciDetect which tries to detect fake scientific papers such as those generated by SCIGen.

 

And yes, the main event where we explore a different dimension of bad faith and human folly and weakness. This time on the side of the supposedly "good guys."

Bellow are examples where big commercial or society traditional, subscription-based peer review have fallen short, either due to careless or insufficient review or fraud on the part of scientists. Of course, peer review will rarely catch genuine fraud as the books are cooked. But even fraud cases demonstrate the limits of peer review across all scholarly communication, not just in "predatory" open access journals.

I would like to emphasize that this list is extremely selective. I'm mostly only highlighting particularly egregious examples that have made their way into the mass media or onto popular blogs. As above, for much much more, please visit Retraction Watch for more complete coverage. For example, The top 10 retractions of 2014.

This list is meant to contrast in number and severity to the list of examples of "predatory" open access publishing crisis and stings above.

Failure in Scholarly Communications Ecosystem through Stupidity, Error or Fraud

As noted above, this is the tip of the iceberg. Please see Retraction Watch for the rest of the iceberg.

And here are some books about academic fraud.

 

And as a bit of a desert, let's take a brief look at who we should perhaps be considering predatory journals, those big commercial and society journals that soak the library world for every penny of obscene profit.

Oh yes, some resources from this blog and beyond that highlight some of the issues with the big, traditional journals, some of which are society, some of which are commercial. And finally, some resources about the real predatory publishing, the big commercial and society publishers who control so much of scholarly publishing.

This list is extremely partial. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

Hearing complaints and panic about predatory open access journals? Send them here for a hopefully more complete and honest picture.

(As usual, if I've mis-characterized or misunderstood any of the incidents or if I'm missing any significant items for any of the lists above, please let me know in the comments or by email at jdupuis at yorku dot ca. Hey, think of this as post-publication open peer review on this blog post. The wave of the future!)

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Reading Diary: Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age by Cory Doctorow

While I was reading Cory Doctorow's Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age, I was reminded of a quote of his that I blogged about a few years ago:

The people in Makers experience a world in which technology giveth and taketh away. They live through the fallacy of the record and movie industries: the idea that technology will go just far enough to help them and then stop. That’s totally not what happens. technology joes that far and them keeps on going. It’s a cycle of booms and busts. There are some lovely things about when you’re riding the wave and some scary things.

The Information Revolution is not bloodless. There’s plenty to like about the pre-Information era and a lot of that will go away. We can mourn it in the same way we mourn the knife sharpener who walked down the road with his wheel, the same way we mourn the passing of the lace tatter and all the other jobs that were made obsolete by one kind of technology or another. But we can mourn it without apologizing for the future that disrupted it.

(Doctorow, C. (2009, November). Cory Doctorow: Riding the wave. Locus, 63(5), 7, 60-61.)

Which is basically what IDWTBF is about -- how to make the bloody information revolution a bit less painful for creative artists trying to make a living is a radically different economic and social environment. But Doctorow isn't making suggestions is a "Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss," Animal Farmish "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." kind of way. He's no fan of the big record companies or mega-publishers that want to figure out how to redirect new forms of revenue streams to old-fashioned intermediaries. Doctorow is trying to figure out how creative artists can succeed on their own terms, even if those terms end up requiring the support of those very intermediaries. He doesn't hate the "dinosaurs," he just wants to put the decision-making power where it belongs, with the creators.

Of course, he's a realist too, and doesn't try and convince anybody that the new world order is universally delivering riches to everyone who embraces it. On the contrary, he's quite blunt that almost everyone who wants to make a living as a creative artist will fail to do so. Just as it has pretty well always been. It's hard work, that requires a mixture of grit, luck and drive as well as the embracing of some new skill sets.

Doctorow presents his three laws of the Internet age, for figuring out how to succeed after the revolution:

  1. Any time someone puts a lock on something that belongs to you and won't give you the key, that lock isn't there for your benefit.
  2. Fame won't make you rich, but you can't get paid without it.
  3. Information doesn't want to be free, people do.

I won't go into too much detail with what the various laws entail, but basically what Doctorow is saying is that DRM ultimately works against the best interests of the creator by making it harder for the consumers of culture to own their cultural products in the way that makes the most sense for them. Why pay for something you don't really own, after all. The next challenge is recognizing that the creator's biggest challenge is overcoming obscurity, not defeating piracy. Creators shouldn't be blind to the implications of piracy but should spend more time making sure their potential audiences know who they are and what they have to offer and most of all, how consumers can support the creators financially. And finally, what do people want from the Web? They want to use it as openly and freely as possible. Getting in the way of that desire -- which ultimately can't be thwarted in any meaningful way anyways -- doesn't do anybody any good. Embrace the freedom and the only way to succeed rather than a self-fulfilling guarantee of failure.

Which is brutal, of course, because most creators will fail at making a living at their art, as it was always been. But Doctorow's advice would be to embrace his laws as a way of at least giving yourself the best show at success. Engage and delight your audience, that's the key.

This is a short book, full of sharp shocks. I would recommend it to everyone who either produces or consumes culture in the modern world. Which is just about everyone! Did I agree with everything? Not really. Doctorow is maybe a bit cavalier about what we loose in new business models. Thinking of the knife sharpener in the quote above, it's still better to get your knife sharpened than to leave them dull or just treat cheap knives as disposable. Or even to not need knives anymore because you don't ever prepare your own food. Sometimes old ways and old things are worth fighting for, as tough and useless as that fight might end up being. After all, if you don't fight back and resist you can be sure you'll lose. And I'm sure other readers will pick other bits to argue or dispute. Which is one of the pleasures of the book in a way. Doctorow is pretty confident in his opinions, and that provocation can a healthy exercise. He's thought these things through pretty thoroughly over the course of many years and many books and articles, after all, so spotting flaws is a challenge.

In the end, this is a worthwhile read, one that would benefit pretty well any library.

Doctorow, Cory. Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age. San Francisco: McSweeney's, 2014. 162pp. ISBN-13: 978-1940450285

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