Monday, June 30, 2008

SPARC Innovators: Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences

"SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has named the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University as the newest SPARC Innovators for their unanimous vote in support of a policy that ensures Open Access to the faculty's published research results.

A February 12 vote made the Harvard faculty the first in the U.S. to embrace an Open Access directive and the first to grant permission to the university to make their articles openly available. The policy, drafted by a 10-member provost’s committee, was ratified by unanimous vote of a quorum of faculty members.

The Harvard FAS vote and Open Access policy emerged at a time when there is growing concern among faculty that traditional publishing processes are not ensuring maximum access to their research."

To read the complete SPARC Innovator profile see

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Two new policies widen the path to balanced copyright management: Developments on author rights

Karla Hahn in the July/August 2008 issue of C&RL News discusses recent developments in copyright management and author rights. She focuses in particular on a) the April 2008 policy by the National Institutes of Health requiring investigators to deposit their articles stemming from NIH funding in the NIH online archive, PubMed Central; and b) the Feb. 2008 Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences vote to require that authors deposit their peer reviewed articles in Harvard’s digital repository and that they assign copyright permission to Harvard to preserve and to disseminate these articles ( in May 2008 faculty in Harvard Law School emulated their colleagues in Arts and Science).

With these two watershed developments, libraries have a new opportunity to educate and advocate for the development of a new generation of institutional policies on author rights management, one geared to the opportunities of networked digital technologies and built on the foundations of recent developments in rights management tools and institutional and disciplinary repositories. For librarians considering how best to help campus authors promote a healthy culture of copyright on campus—one that promotes research, teaching, learning, and service to society—a recent SPARC/Science Commons white paper, “Open Doors and Open Minds: What Faculty Authors Can Do to Ensure Open Access to Their Work Through Their Institution,” discusses several action strategies promoting the development of institutional policies.

Norms are always more difficult to change than technologies. We are now witnessing a key shift in norms for sharing scholarly work that promises a giant step forward in leveraging the potential of network technologies and digital scholarship to advance research, teaching, policy development, professional practice, and technology transfer. Librarians need to seek and promote today’s burgeoning opportunities to accelerate these positive changes toward openness. The next important strategy to pursue is developing institutional policies that ensure institutions receive limited distribution rights.

The full article is available here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Big Picture: How Scholars Are Using the Internet

In her 2007 book, Scholarship in the Digital Age : Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet (MIT Press, 360 p,), Christine Borgman (UCLA) examines many of the issues involved in pursuing scholarly communication on the internet today. No doubt, the open exchange of scholarly information in this rapidly changing digital environment is a complex phenomenon with economic, legal, social, and political aspects, and Borgman has attempted to present an overview in all its complexity.

From the book's jacket: "Analyzing scholarly practices in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, Borgman compares each discipline's approach to infrastructure issues. In the process, she challenges the many stakeholders in the scholarly infrastructure - scholars, publishers, libraries, funding agencies, and others - to look beyond their own domains to address the interaction of technical, legal, economic, social, political, and disciplinary concerns. Scholarship in the Digital Age will provoke a conversation among all who depend on a rich and robust scholarly environment." More information may be found on the MIT Press website.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Strong Impact Factors for BioMed Central's Journals

Matthew Cockerill in the BioMed Central Blog writes that ISI's Journal Citation Reports reveals that the official impact factors of BioMed Central's journals for 2007 are excellent:

There are now 40 BioMed Central journals which have official Impact Factors. Highlights of this year's Impact Factors include an impressive showing by BMC Biology, the biological flagship journal of the BMC series, which debuted with an Impact Factor above 5.0, and Molecular Pain, which confirmed its status as one of the leading journals in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine with an impressive Impact Factor of 4.13.

Malaria Journal retained its status as the No 1. ranked journal in the field of Tropical Medicine, while Retrovirology appeared for the first time in the JCR, ranking 5th of 25 journals in the Virology category, ahead of long established titles such as the journal Virology. BMC Plant Biology jumped straight into the upper echelons of the Plant Science rankings, with an Impact Factor of 3.23, which places it 18th of 152 journals in that area.

Overall, the median Impact Factor of a BioMed Central journal has increased from 2.77 to 2.91. Last year, BioMed Central had 4 journals with Impact Factors above 4.0 and 10 journals with Impact Factors above 3.0. This year, we have 8 journals above 4.0, and 17 greater than 3.0.

Cockerill's posting provides the full list of BioMed Central's journals for 2007.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Harvard's New Office for Scholarly Communication

Complementing the recent vote by Harvard's Arts & Sciences as well as Law School faculty to make their scholarly articles openly available, Harvard University Library (HUL) with be establishing an Office for Scholarly Communication (OSC). "The goal of the new Office for Scholarly Communication is to enable individual faculty members to distribute their scholarly writings in keeping with the University's long-standing policy that 'when entering into agreements for the publication and distribution of copyrighted materials individuals will make arrangements that best serve the public interest'. . . . Working in close collaboration with HUL's Office for Information Systems, the new OSC will oversee an open-access repository for current research."

In addition to supervising and executing the University's new open-access policy, the Office for Scholarly Communication will be engaged in such activities as digitizing Ph.D. dissertations, publishing diverse gray literature, sponsoring conferences. It will also have as a primary concern the engaging of other Harvard faculty in the new open-access policies. The OSC will be overseen by a faculty advisory committee.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Scientists and Web-Based Social Applications: A Survey

Elsevier’s research collaboration platform 2collab recently announced the results of a survey that asked scientists about their professional use of social media. The primary finding is that scientists are indeed using blogs, wikis, and social networking and bookmarking applications in their professional work. The survey had over 1,800 responses. From the 9 June, 2008 news release:

2collab surveyed science, medical and technical information professionals working in academia and government institutions to establish exactly what influence new web applications are having on the way scientific research is conducted. Over 50% of respondents see web-based social applications playing a key role in shaping the future of research. The largest influence will be on critical analysis and evaluation of research data, professional networking and collaboration, dissemination of research output, career development, as well as grant application and funding.

Results show that many researchers believe social applications will have a major influence on the future of research. One respondent, an Environmental Science researcher based in Spain commented, “Social media and electronic journals will be the future of scientific information dissemination. Current scientific journals must not disappear but the business model will change.”

Comments from survey respondents identified several issues that need to be addressed before mass acceptance by the research community is possible – namely the need for specialist tools, higher security, and validation of users. However, these concerns were not seen as insurmountable obstacles, and many anticipated tremendous potential for social media. . . .

The survey report is available upon request by emailing the media contact, Lauren Hillman .

Friday, June 13, 2008

Modernist Journals Project (MJP)

The Modernist Journals Project (MJP), sponsored by Brown University and the University of Tulsa, has the goal of digitizing English language publications, especially periodicals, important in the rise of modernism during the period 1890 to 1922. “We end at 1922 for both intellectual and practical reasons: the practical reason is that copyright becomes an issue with publications from 1923 onward; the intellectual reason is that most scholars consider modernism to be fully fledged in 1922, a date marked by the publication of James Joyce's Ulysses and T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land.”

The journals already digitized include:

  1. Blast
  2. The Blue Review
  3. Coterie
  4. Dana
  5. The English Review
  6. The New Age
  7. The Owl
  8. Le Petit Journal des Réfusées
  9. Poetry
  10. Rhythm
  11. The Tyro
  12. Wheels

The project has also made available the full-text of a number of relevant books and essays. There is also an extensive database of biographies.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Version 72, Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography

Charles W. Bailey, Jr. has just published Version 72 of his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. "This selective bibliography presents over 3,250 articles, books, and other printed and electronic sources that are useful in understanding scholarly electronic publishing efforts on the Internet."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Scholarly Communication Innovations Highlighted in ARL Bimonthly Report

The June 2008 issue of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Bimonthly Report (258) focuses on innovative approaches to scholarly communication. In the article Managing Copyright for NIH Public Access: Strategies to Ensure Compliance Kevin L. Smith considers strategies that might be employed by individuals and institutions to manage copyright requirements for the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy. In another article, Research Library Publishing Services: New Options for University Publishing and New Roles for Libraries , Karla L. Hahn focuses on the new role libraries are playing in producing scholarly journals. She makes the important point that

Publishing services will require substantial institutional support to thrive. Research libraries have the will and wherewithal to start service development, but it will require broader commitment of institutional resources, almost surely requiring new resources from institutional leadership, to build effective capacity. The time is also ripe for library leadership and increasingly for campus leadership to give thoughtful consideration to the potential, the goals, the resource needs, and the value of investing in and fostering this rapidly evolving mode of university publishing. The question is no longer whether libraries should offer publishing services, but what kinds of services will libraries offer.

It is important to point out that BC Libraries are currently producing/sponsoring four peer reviewed open access journals:

ARL’s Bimonthly Report also has the following articles:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

University Libraries and Google: Should They Work Together?

Boston College has been participating in a project to digitize some of its books and make them available for free on the web. Its partners are the member libraries of the Boston Library Consortium and the Open Content Alliance. The libraries provide the books and OCA provides the scanners and staff. This project has been contrasted with the more widely known Google digitizing project involving a number of major research universities including Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, the University of Oxford, and The New York Public Library. The reason why BLC libraries went with OCA and not Google has much to do with the business nature of Google's interest in digitizing books.

Last November, the University Librarian and Dean of Libraries at the University of Michigan, Paul Courant, defended his institution's involvement with Google. A November 27, 2007 entry on the Ars Technica blog gives a good summary of the debate. Here's an excerpt from that posting:
This particular debate, which has been raging in various forms for the last two years, is driven in part by the tremendous sense of what's at stake. Book search projects like the one undertaken by Google have huge potential to transform public access to books and archival material, especially now that Google has broadened its program to include French-language texts and texts from India.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Different Kind of Peer Review

The traditional approach to evaluating a scholarly article's worth is the peer review process. More accurately, we should say the pre-publication peer review because another approach has appeared in recent years: the post-publication peer review. It is made possible by the Web because reader comments can be easily added to the digital article. Of course, some form of monitoring is needed to screen out unsuitable comments. One scientific journal, the open access PLoS ONE, has offered post-publication review since December 2006. According to its web site, authors should consider submitting their manuscripts to PLoS ONE because the initial review is simply to determine whether or not a paper is "rigorous and technically sound." This speeds up the paper's publication at which point the substantive review begins when readers begin to submit their comments.

Here's a sample paper published in PLoS with comments. You can go directly to the comments by clicking on the "View/join ongoing discussions" link in the box to the right of the article title. Note that the paper, published on May 7, 2008, has comments by a reader appearing on June 3. The comments page has an RSS feed which makes it easy to keep track of new additions to the page.