Archive for the 'scholarly publishing' category

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

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

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

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

Here's the official text of the policy:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.2 Publication-related Research Data

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

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

4. Implementation Date

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heather Morrison has some commentary here.

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

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

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

2 responses so far

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

No responses yet

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%
  • No responses yet

    Around the Web: An altmetrics reading list

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

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

    Here's the session description:

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

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

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

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


    Some companies & organizations involved:

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

    One response so far

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

    One response so far

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

    So what do I mean by Big Deals.

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

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

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

    Though not impossible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    But those are rants from another day.

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

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


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


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

    Let's do this. Any takers?

    One response so far

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

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

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

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

    No responses yet

    Reading Diary: The Machiavellian Librarian: Winning Allies, Combating Budget Cuts, and influencing Stakeholders edited by Melissa K. Aho and Erika Bennet

    Melissa K. Aho and Erika Bennet's anthology The Machiavellian Librarian: Winning Allies, Combating Budget Cuts, and influencing Stakeholders is pretty good for what it is, in some ways better than I expected. It's a guide for maneuvering office politics and advancing your agenda, big and small, with the stakeholders and influencers that matters in your environment. Sadly, this book fails for what it isn't: a book that tackles the issues and trends where librarians really need to advance our agendas and make ourselves key "thought leaders" and "influencers."

    The book is a collection of 25 chapters, each presenting the authors experiences and views on applying the principles of Machiavellianism to the library world. Of course, a quick trip through Wikipedia (sorry...) gets me up to speed on Niccolò Machiavelli and some of the thoughts and philosophies in his most famous work, The Prince. Machiavellianism seems to be mostly about "the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct." Some further poking around gets me to the psychological concept of the Dark Triad with its three basic personality traits of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. The Machiavellian trait is defined as "by manipulation and exploitation of others, a cynical disregard for morality, and a focus on self-interest and deception."

    Heavy stuff for librarians, I guess, but on the other hand I guess we live in a world where you have to Machiavelliate or be Machiavelliated.

    But let's get back to the book. To get a sense of where they take it, here's a few chapter titles:

    • One Machiavellian librarian's path toward leadership
    • Weasels and honey badgers: networking for librarians
    • Influence without authority: making fierce allies
    • Prince or plebe: success at all levels of the library hierarchy
    • Mixed monarchies: expanding the library's sphere of influence to help student-athletes
    • Breading the mold: winning allies via self-discovery
    • Slybrarianship: building alliances through user engagement and outreach

    You get the idea. While mostly focused on academic libraries other setting are featured and most of the advice and recommendations are broadly applicable. Generally, the individual articles are pretty good: lots of serious thought and effort went into them without a doubt.

    And that thought certainly shines through in what's good about this book: practical real world advice on how to work the system and make things happen, mostly through outreach, hard work, gentle and not-so gentle persuasion. For the most part, the individual articles are well written and make compelling cases, either in a general way or connected to a particular real-world experience of the authors. A couple of them might make good Harvard-style case studies in fact, the kinds of things that could be analysed and dissected in library management or marketing classes. The focus on assessment and self-study, while a bit unhinged at times and not always applied critically, is also a positive. Many of the articles try to make sure the maneuvering is grounded in some sort of data or community research. Gathering information, looking inward as well as outward, are fairly common strategies for the Machiavellian planning process.

    And a lot of being in the right place at the right time, especially in the sense that we should always keep a keen eye on making sure we're in the right place at the right time. In a sense, this is a book that doesn't believe in luck so much as making your own luck. It's all in the title. It's about winning, combating and influencing. Making sure the library is there to fight, influence and come out on top when tough decisions have to be make. And you, the librarian, you can be the hero of this story, the one that plants the library flag on the hilltop, that vanquishes the enemy.

    So yes, this is a bit of a book on how to weasel your way into becoming the hero librarian of your institution's story. And while "weasel" is a tough word to use, part of making sure you're there when the deeds get done requires being a bit pushy and perhaps a bit sneaky. Something the book doesn't shy away from at all -- weasel is in one of the article titles after all.

    Because at the end of the day, many of these articles are little more that "just-so" stories of "how I did good winning the day against the forces of evil." Which is a grand tradition in the library literature to be sure, but a little unsatisfying in the end. Because sometimes that end seems to justify the means. These tales of librarian heroism may be "just-so" but they are also the winners' version of their particular history. Not surprisingly, we don't get the version of history written by the colleagues, community-members and most of all the employees who were the subject of these experiments. No one wants to be "that person" in an employment setting, but some of these stories seem to be encouraging a kind of uncritical zeal for success.

    None of which come easy for the stereotypical librarian, of course. One of the areas touched upon but not explored as fully in the book as it needed to be were some of the gendered aspects of the kinds of power dynamics involved in being sneaky and pushy and Machiavellian. Power dynamics generally could have been explored much more critically.

    But perhaps where the book comes most short, as I imply way back at the beginning of the review, is again all about what isn't explored.

    Have you heard me mention scholarly communications? Open access? Publishers? Recalcitrant faculty? Author rights? I searched through the text of the book -- the advantage of ebook copies for reviewers -- and my initial reading impressions were correct. These concepts are almost completely absent. In my humble opinion, for academic libraries these issues are at least as important as any other when it comes to using our powers of persuasion and manipulation. American Chemical Society vs. SUNY Potsdam? The Research Works Act? Big Deal journal pricing deals? Ebook licensing insanity? Encouraging, implementing and enforcing institutional and national open access mandates? These are some oft the issues that I would really have wanted to see attacked and persuaded. And I'm sure librarians in other contexts, such as public, institutional or corporate librarian may have also wanted to see a few different case studies explored too

    Wait a sec...oh yes. Now I recall. The publisher of the book is Chandos, a imprint of Elsevier. It all makes sense now. They certainly don't want librarians to train our Machiavellian powers back on them. Blowback, as it were.

    Now the scholarly communications issues are just the ones that are nearest and dearest to my heart. There's a much larger world out there in which librarians can have an important impact. How about larger social issues like climate change or vaccination denialism, the digital divide, economic and gender inequality, ubiquitous government surveillance? All of these are issues that are pretty well ignored in the book. The explicit focus of Machiavellian Librarian is library stakeholders, so perhaps these are issues for another book, but I couldn't help but notice their near complete absence.

    I will cautiously recommend this book for LIS collections, both at library schools and libraries which support their staff of librarians librarians. There's enough good for educational use and it'll spark some ideas and conversations among practitioners. Individual librarians may want to pick this up and flip through it for ideas, but there are likely better leadership and entrepreneurship books out there.

    Aho, Melissa K. and Erika Bennet, editors. The Machiavellian Librarian: Winning Allies, Combating Budget Cuts, and influencing Stakeholders. Oxford: Chandos, 2014. 340pp. ISBN-13: 978-1843347552

    3 responses so far

    Around the Web: A Creative Commons Guide to Sharing Your Science and more

    No responses yet

    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: &

    3 responses so far

    « Newer posts Older posts »