- Free Electronic Textbooks Do Not Hurt Print Sales, Report Says: And naturally the journalist reporting the story found a publisher who disputes the study’s findings. Let’s wait to see the final report when it’s published.
- What are the current feelings on ResearchGate starting it’s own preprint (self archive) service? A discussion about whether ResearchGate, a social networking site for researchers, is doing something useful by offering a self-archiving service.
- How and why researchers disseminate their findings: ‘Our survey shows that over 60% of researchers believe that open access repositories are either “not important” or “not applicable” to the dissemination of their research. . . . 52% of physical sciences and mathematics researchers say open access repositories are “important” or “very important”; whereas only 25% of humanities researchers say the same.’
- Open Medicine provides medical knowledge to the public: An alternative to Wikipedia?
- The Open College Textbook Act of 2009: A bill has been introduced in the US Congress stipulating that ‘textbooks created through grants distributed by Federal agencies . . . shall be licensed under an open license’.
- The Journal Manifesto 2.0: An Open Access manifesto for researchers.
- Philosophers call for Open Access: One says: ‘for many years I have been crossing out portions of copyright forms that prevent me from posting papers online’.
- The Un-Scientific Method: or, how good science becomes bad press: What every journalist should know before reporting on scientific research, and how OA can help.
- Pricey Cost per Page Hurts Humanities and Social-Science Journals: A study suggests that it costs more to publish humanities and social science journals than journals in the hard sciences; therefore author-pays OA is not viable in the humanities and social sciences. (One might add that humanities and social science researchers get less funding and are therefore less likely to be able to afford author fees in the first place.) Heather Morrison questions the results of the study, and discusses alternatives to the author-pays model for OA humanities and social-science journals.
- Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography: ‘presents selected English-language articles, books, and other printed and electronic sources that are useful in understanding scholarly electronic publishing efforts on the Internet’.
- The Stallman Paradox: ‘Until society can resolve what I will call for the first time the “Stallman Paradox”, where learning and access enabling technologies, such as for example digital books, conversely disables the freedom to read and hence more than negates the actual benefits of said access, the rush to embrace all digital libraries and textbooks is a rush to a new dark ages.’
- A crime against knowledge: In South Africa, it’s ridiculously expensive to get access to scientific journals.
- Reinventing academic publishing online. Part II: A socio-technical vision: ‘Part I of this paper outlined the limitations of feudal academic knowledge exchange and predicted its decline as cross-disciplinary research expands. Part II now suggests the next evolutionary step is democratic online knowledge exchange, run by the academic many rather than the few. Using socio-technical tools it is possible to accept all, evaluate all and publish all academic documents.’
- Criticism of OA publisher Bentham: ‘Bentham Open is exploiting the good will of those who established the Open Access model by twisting it and exploiting it for profit. . . . The site has exploited the Open Access model for its own financial motives and flooded scholarly communication with a flurry of low quality and questionable research.’
- Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity: A group of universities promise to pay author fees for Gold OA publication of their researchers’ work. Stevan Harnad argues (convincingly, I think) that this is an ‘enormous strategic mistake‘. Gavin Baker agrees.
- The Trouble with Wikipedia as a Source for Medical Information: It’s not reliable, because a lot of it isn’t written by experts.
- Varmus Gets His Preprint Server: ‘The most prominent open-access biomedical research publisher—that is, the Public Library of Science (PLoS)—has launched an “experimental” site for posting raw preprints of papers on hot topics.’ See also New Open Access Repository for Unrefereed Preprints: PLoS Contents.
- Wikipedia to Limit Changes to Articles on People: ‘the English-language Wikipedia will begin imposing a layer of editorial review on articles about living people’. They should do this for all articles.
- New Tuition-Free ‘University of the People’ Tries to Democratize Higher Ed: ‘a new institution in which students will learn in virtual communities using free online materials and social-networking tools.’
- Academic Earth: ‘Full video courses from leading universities.’
- EduPunk Repositories: If you don’t have access to an institutional or subject repository you can self-archive in, here’s a review of some alternatives.
- The evolution of scientific impact: PLoS’s article-based metrics rely on user comments on articles, but it has been difficult to persuade scientists to comment on each other’s articles on the Internet.
- Sustainability of OA archives: What if the archive you depend on disappears for lack of funding? ‘If Cornell can’t underwrite arXiv, arguably the most successful preprint archive ever, what does that mean for disciplinary repositories generally?’
- P2P U., an Experiment in Free Online Education, Opens for Business: ‘A group of professors and graduate students from around the world has started a new university of their own online, with an unusual model that is more like a book group than a traditional course.’
- When the “Wiki Way” = Poor Quality: Why ‘the distributed, “Wikipedia model” of content production does not work for textbooks’.
- PLoS Mulls Hosting Software amid Growing Crossover between Informatics and Publishing: ‘the team is ironing out details, such as whether to create a repository like SourceForge. . . .’ Maybe someone will notice that unlike PLoS, SourceForge doesn’t charge anything to let you contribute to the projects it hosts, or to start your own project there.
- E-textbook Mania Strikes Higher Ed: ‘truly open access textbooks offer a model that in the long run best serves faculty and their students. . . . Students are far more interested in the textbook crisis than the journal crisis.’
- Open-source textbook co. Flat World goes back to school with 40,000 new customers: The company makes money by selling customer service, printed textbooks and audiobooks; the electronic versions are free. Sounds like Red Hat.
From our special correspondent …
(In the Dutch language part of the post, TvT asserts that commercial scientific publishers have pressured university libraries to limit access to journals etc (now all digitalised) to certified, registered users only – and bill for that use.)
Academic resources, especially periodicals, are more and more published and subscribed to in digital format. This diminishes non-academic public access to these resources as such data sources tend to be closed to non-members of universities and the like. Freedom of information is thus declining in our area of ubiquitous electronic communication. One needs to be a privileged member of the academic class to have access. This situation demands a reestablishment of the right to information for all citizens. Now commercial interests ban many people from scientific information sources. Some Dutch University Libraries have left open a backdoor for the knowledgeable general public, who can put their USB stick in some computers within the university to thus realize the traditional notion of freedom of access to the sciences for all.
In this fascinating and quite overwhelming study published in BMJ, Steven A Greenberg, associate professor of neurology, argues that in the citation network that was the object of his research, backdoor invention affected negatively the quality of knowledge produce, since it: “repeated misrepresentation of abstracts as peer reviewed papers to fool readers into believing that claims are based on peer reviewed published methods and data” . Although author clearly states that it is through abstracts, which in his view is a way to avoid peer reviewing, that backdoor is introduced, my conclusion is that on the basis of this research, we can say that peer reviewing in medical science is capable of significantly contributing to the creation of a large unfounded authority. Here’s authors conlusion paragraph in full:
“Citation is both an impartial scholarly method and a powerful form of social communication. Through distortions in its social use that include bias, amplification, and invention, citation can be used to generate information cascades resulting in unfounded authority of claims. Construction and analysis of a claim specific citation network may clarify the nature of a published belief system and expose distorted methods of social citation.”
He develops a vocabulary of citation distortions, and backdoor is the method how peer review is bypassed:
“In another form of invention, claims are introduced as fact through a “back door” that bypasses peer review and publication of methods and data. This is accomplished by repeated misrepresentation of abstracts as papers (seven different papers, 17 citations to 12 different misrepresented abstracts; […] Back door invention—repeated misrepresentation of abstracts as peer reviewed papers to fool readers into believing that claims are based on peer reviewed published methods and data”
In my reading of his text, the author confirms the responsibility of the peer reviewing implicitly when he states that a medical claim (see his paper for specific claim used here) “is supported in this manner and accepted by peers as fact”. In other words, peers accepted as fact a claim that slipped through peer reviews, multiple times, in multiple papers. The graph on the right shows that “Only one of 32 citations flows to papers70 71 72 73 77 78 that present data that conflict with the validity of these models” – models that were the basis of knowledge claims supported as the fact by all the papers on the right of the graph in the blue. It’s a complex analysis, and it’s possible that i misunderstood. I emailed the author and asked for his view on my understanding that he let peer review too lightly off the hook. Here’s the full paper How citation distortions create unfounded authority: analysis of a citation network.
Writing recently about his Adventures in Web Publishing at the Inside Higher Ed website, professor Douglas J. Amy described his problem as one typical for many academics: although previously an author of three scholarly books, he wrote a manuscript for a wider audience which failed to attract any suitable publisher. So, he turned it into a website in 2007. Here’s what he says about the result:
“I had over 75,000 visitors to the site. Only half of those stayed long enough to read some of the material […] I can safely say that more people have read this online material than have read my other three books combined. Two of these books were published by university presses and were considered successful. But for these publishers, good sales are often measured in the hundreds – numbers which now seem very modest in comparison to the tens of thousands of readers who have visited my Web site. […] I’ve had readers from over 50 countries. This kind of broad geographical readership would clearly not have happened with a conventionally published book.”
If the print version would have sold 700 copies, and each of them was partly read by a single reader, while only a quarter of unique web visitor were partial web book readers, it still leaves us with 18750:700, or 26:1 ratio in favour of the web book edition.