Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Study of Journal Impact/Citation Patterns Compares 39 Measures

The June 2009 issue of PLoS One, a peer-reviewed, open access journal published by the Public Library of Science, carries the article, "A Principle Component Analysis of 39 Scientific Impact Measures". This article provides, perhaps, the most thorough analysis of scientific journal citation analysis to date. The authors, Johan Bollen, Herbert Van de Sompel, Aric Hagberg, and Ryan Chute, analyzed thirty-nine types of impact measurements. The conclusions show that no perfectly reliable measure exists as yet. Users of the widely-utilized Journal Impact Factor (JIF) published in the Journal Citation Reports database are urged to use this measurement, in particular, with caution.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rare Africa Photos Go Online

Northwestern University Library has just made available a magnificent, and freely accessible, collection of thousands of rare photographs chronicling Europe's colonization of East Africa. The collection, The Humphrey Winterton Collection of East African Photographs: 1860-1960, numbers over 7000 photographs and all are searchable because of extensive metadata.

The photographs “include formal and informal portraits of Africans and their colonizers, photos of slaves and slave traders, and images depicting the building of railroads and urban areas and of traditional African life.

They represent the work of explorers, colonial officials, settlers, missionaries, military officers, travelers and early commercial photographers.”

For the press release.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Federal Research Public Access Act Introduced

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access – ATA (Boston College Library is a member) applauds the FRPAA bill introduced on 25 June by Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) to broaden access to federal research results. From ATA’s press release:

Washington, DC – Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) today introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), a bill to ensure free, timely, online access to the published results of research funded by eleven U.S. federal agencies. The proposed bill is welcomed by the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, a coalition of research institutions, consumers, patients, and others formed to support open public access to publicly funded research.

FRPAA would require those agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from such funding no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The bill gives individual agencies flexibility in choosing the location of the digital repository to house this content, as long as the repositories meet conditions for interoperability and public accessibility, and have provisions for long-term archiving. . . .

The bill covers unclassified research funded by agencies including: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation. . . .

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access calls on organizations and individuals to write in support of the bill through the Web site at http://www.taxpayeraccess.org.

For more information about the Federal Research Public Access Act, visit http://www.taxpayeraccess.org.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Survival of Scholarly Presses

Jennifer Howard provides an interesting report in the 22 June issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education on the Annual Meeting of the Association of American University Presses in Philadelphia last weekend.
Bloodied but still standing, the university presses that gathered here for the annual meeting of the Association of American University Presses could have been a grimmer group. With sales down by double digits and budgets in tatters, the presses may feel as if they are going through the worst of times—although next year could be worse still. But scholarly publishing, and scholarly publishers, just refuse to die. . . .

Beyond the pragmatism, one heard the sometimes whimsical but ultimately serious clash of big ideas about the shape and fate of scholarly publishing—or "scholarly communication," a catchall term that expands to fit almost any kind of publishing.

"As we know, the crisis in scholarly communication is now in its fifth decade," joked Mr. Armato of the University of Minnesota Press as he moderated the plenary session in which Ms. Bonn, of Michigan, took part.

The comment got a laugh, but it also set up an assault on what Mr. Armato called the "polarizing and self-serving rhetoric" that fills the debate over open access and scholarly publishing. Yes, we have to learn to live with and through "the transformation that lies not ahead of us but all around us," he advised. Nobody wants to be the ancien rĂ©gime, Mr. Armato said—look what happened when the tumbrels rolled—but he pointed out that "revolutions often begin without much consideration" of what's lost on the road to utopia. Revolutionary rhetoric has done more to harm scholarly communication than to advance it, as revolutions tend to ignore "the human, social, and cultural consequences of those steps and what is destroyed along the way," he warned.

In the conference's final plenary session, "Directions for Open Access Publishing," Michael J. Jensen, director of strategic Web communications for the National Academies Press, made an extreme version of the adapt-or-die argument for incorporating open access into scholarly publishing. Mr. Jensen entertained the audience with a description of his longtime obsession with crises that threaten life as we know it. Then he went for the Darwinian kill and linked print-based culture with global warming.

"C02 must be radically curtailed," he said. "Print is CO2-heavy." How about a business model that would rely on 50 percent digital sales, 25 percent print-on-demand books, and 25 percent institutionally funded open-access publishing? "Open access in exchange for institutional support is a business model for survival," Mr. Jensen advised, all joking aside.

"If we fail to make these changes, we will be knowing participants in the death spiral," he warned. "The print book must become the exception, not the rule, as soon as possible."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Harvard Graduate School of Education's New Open-Access Policy

The Harvard Graduate School of Education is the fourth of Harvard's school/faculties to enact policies promoting open access to their scholarly writings. From the School's 16 June's press release:

The faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) voted overwhelmingly at its last faculty meeting to allow the university to make all faculty members' scholarly articles publicly available online. The resolution makes HGSE the fourth of Harvard's 10 schools to endorse open access to faculty research publications. The Faculties of Arts and Sciences, the Harvard Law School, and the Harvard Kennedy School all passed similar policies in recent months.

"The field of education and the mission of libraries have always been aligned in efforts to bring knowledge to as many people as possible. With the open access resolution, the work of the faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education will now be available to all -- especially those who seek to improve the quality of education worldwide," said John Collins, librarian of Gutman Library at HGSE.

As a result of the resolution, HGSE faculty will now provide their scholarly articles to the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication for deposit in an open access digital repository that is currently under development. When the repository launches later this year, the contents will be freely available to the public, unless an author chooses to embargo or block access. The policy makes rights sharing with publishers and self-archiving the default, while allowing faculty to waive Harvard's license on a case-by-case basis, at the author's discretion.

Professor Kurt Fischer said, "Educational researchers and leaders seek to share their knowledge and findings with educators, researchers, and anyone who is interested. Unfortunately, the current situation in publishing severely restricts access. The Open Access policy moves toward making writings available to anyone who can benefit from them."
The text of Harvard's Open Access policies is available here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

W.P.A. Posters in The Library of Congress

In The Library of Congress Digital Collections & Services is the Prints & Posters collection with an Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. One collection is #55 Posters WPA Posters (1936-1943) of 907 posters produced to publicize theatrical productions, exhibits, health and educational programs. W.P.A. refers to the Works Progress Administation (renamed Work Projects Administation in 1939). It was created by an presidential order early in the President F. D. Roosevelt administration.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

University Press Directors Argue for Open Access to Scholarly Research

The directors of ten US and Canadian University Presses have issued a position statement on Free Access to Scholarly Journal Articles:

1. The undersigned university press directors support the dissemination of scholarly research as broadly as possible.
2. We support the free access to scientific, technical, and medical journal articles no later than 12 months after publication. We understand that the length of time before free release of journal articles will by necessity vary for other disciplines.
3. We support the principle that scholarly research fully funded by governmental entities is a public good and should be treated as such. We support legislation that strengthens this principle and oppose legislation designed to weaken it.
4. We support the archiving and free release of the final, published version of scholarly journal articles to ensure accuracy and citation reliability.
5. We will work directly with academic libraries, governmental entities, scholarly societies, and faculty to determine appropriate strategies concerning dissemination options, including institutional repositories and national scholarly archives.

This stance puts these directors squarely at odds with the attitude of the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) -- see, for example, a September 10, 2008 letter from the AAUP. For an overview of the debate see Scott Jaschik's article, "Split Over Open Access", in Inside Higher Ed (6/04/2009)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Latest SPARC Open Access Newsletter

The latest issue, No. 134, of Peter Suber’s SPARC Open Access Newsletter has just been published: http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/newsletter/06-02-09.htm