By putting distribution and storage of papers and datasets in the hands of their authors, Academic Torrents brings even more DIY ethos to the world of academic publishing, and may help to solve a few problems in the field in the bargain. While libraries and colleges disintermediate scholarly publishing by hosting their own institutional repositories and backing up to offsite services like LOCKSS and Portico, Academic Torrents goes a step further, offering researchers the opportunity to distribute the hosting of their papers and datasets to authors and readers, offering easy access to scholarly works and simultaneously backing them up on computers around the world.
The omnibus spending bill signed into law by President Obama on January 17 has plenty of wrinkles and details, but one of them is a change that expands the number of federal agencies operating under a mandate to make research they fund available to the public after one year.
Just before he accepted a Nobel Prize in December for his work exploring how cells regulate and transport proteins, UC Berkeley professor Randy Schekman penned an indictment in the pages of UK newspaper The Guardian criticizing the role of what he calls the “luxury journals” – Nature, Cell, and Science in particular – for damaging science by promoting flashy or controversial papers over careful scientific research. Library Journal spoke with Schekman, who also edits the open-access journal eLife, about what he sees wrong with academic publishing today, and how it can be fixed.
When Amherst College opens its first press early next year, the open access publication will publish its entire catalog in digital editions first. Following a growing trend, the press will also be a new arm of Amherst’s library, and Mark Edington will be at its helm, the college announced on December 6. He will start January 1, 2014. Currently the director of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory, Edington comes from a diverse work background, encompassing everything from editorial work at the journal Daedalus to social entrepreneurship. Library Journal caught up with Edington to talk about the new model Amherst is pursuing, the opportunities it opens up in the publishing world, and the challenges of presenting scholarly work for free while staying sustainable.
This year, several announcements and blog posts combined to focus my attention on a slightly different question. What problems can open access solve? The answer seems obvious; open access will solve the problem of highly restricted and limited access to scholarship. A somewhat different problem that OA can help solve is the problem of scholarship locked up in the hands of badly run businesses that have come to believe that their inefficient and ineffective ways of doing business must be preserved at all costs.
When Purdue University Press was brought under the wing of the university’s library in 2009, it was a marriage of necessity, brought on by the flagging financial fortunes of the press. Since being absorbed into the library in 2009, the press has moved from reporting to library administrators to participating in planning with them, said Dean of Libraries James Mullins at a recent conference sponsored by education non-profit Ithaka. Purdue is one of a growing number of universities and colleges across the country where the in-house press and library are working more closely together, offering a glimpse into the possible future of academic publishing.
Agricultural research can take seasons to come to fruition, meaning the data researchers gather is voluminous, tracking things like weather patterns and crop yields over years. A failure to establish data standards and sharing practices means that most of these raw figures never make it out of the hands of the researchers who gather them. With new open access standards coming to federally funded research, though, agricultural researchers will need share their data more effectively, and a team of scientists and librarians at Purdue University may have the first blueprint for the field.
As more and more countries embrace policies that drive government funded research into Open Access publishing, an Open Access standard in the future is looking less like a possibility and more like an inevitability. But in a paper released earlier this week, Dr. Richard Wellen of York University, Toronto, argues that an Open Access future in practice could be very different from what it looks like on paper.
I am always amazed that people who have ideas to share don’t actually take steps to share them. Yes, academic librarians, I’m looking at you. Why is it that librarians agitate for open access and, at the same time, are content to put our own scholarship behind paywalls?
I have for years been a huge fan of the WAC Clearinghouse—a remarkably deep collection of open access resources for those who teach writing across the curriculum (WAC) and want to share scholarship on the teaching of writing. That’s in part because there’s a lot in common between writing instruction and information literacy programs. But I’m also a fan because it’s such a good example of high quality open access publishing. I decided this week to contact Mike Palmquist, founding editor of the Clearinghouse, to ask him how it all works.