Thursday, February 24, 2011

Open J-Gate: gateway to OA Journal Literature

An important complement to the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is Open J-Gate. Launched in 2006, Open J-Gate indexes over 8,300 open access journals and provides links to the full-text at publisher sites. Currently 5567 of these OA journals are peer-reviewed. The site provides links to over one million open access articles with over 300000 new articles being added annually. Links to searching and more information are available at

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Siva Vaidhyanathan on Googlization of Everything

Siva Vaidhyanathan, cultural historian and media scholar, will present the lecture “The Googlization of Everything” — based on his forthcoming University of California Press book The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry) on Feb. 24 at 4:30 p.m. in Cushing 001.

On 16 February, 2011 Steve Kolowich published an article, "Google's Gadfly" on Siva Vaidhyanathan and his views on Google in Inside Higher Education.

. . . .The Virginia professor, who is not afraid to confess his affection for the ease and usefulness of Google, nevertheless distrusts the company’s basic motivations as it vies for our intellectual inheritance. “Google has fostered a more seamless, democratized, global, cosmopolitan information ecosystem,” he writes. “Yet it has simultaneously contributed to the steady commercialization of higher education and the erosion of standards of information quality.”

Google does not reward our impulse to know, Vaidhyanathan argues; it exploits it by making it appear as though knowing is easy. “The ways that Google structures, judges, and delivers knowledge to us exacerbate our worst tendencies to jump to erroneous conclusions and act on them in ways that cause harm,” the professor writes. Meanwhile the company keeps collecting, on behalf of its advertisers, the wealth of personal information that we feed it in exchange for this flattery, then pats its own back all the way to the bank.

Vaidhyanathan’s point is not that Google has scammed us. He attributes the ascension of Google to a “public failure” — negligence by public stewards to preempt the privatization of knowledge and learning in the switch from analog to digital. In other words, we should have seen this coming. Did Google’s academic bloodlines lull higher education into passively supporting Page and Brin as they quietly absconded with the family jewels? Perhaps, but Vaidhyanathan is less concerned with how we got here than where we are and where we’re going. Accordingly, he proposes a sprawling effort by libraries and like-minded institutions that would essentially give Googlers a public option. “The future of knowledge — and thus the future of the species — depends on our getting this right,” he writes. . . .

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rankings in Economics

(Thanks to Kit Baum, Economics Dept., for alerting me to this article)

Christian Seiler and Klaus Wohlrabe of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research, Munich, recently published a very interesting article in CESifo Forum: "RePEc – An Independent Platform for Measuring Output in Economics". They consider the much debated subject of academic rankings -- of authors, departments, universities -- and stress the importance that the Economics repository RePEc can have in determining the rankings (and potentially the evaluation) of authors, institutions and journals.

The RePEc network (Research Papers in Economics, ) is a bibliographic service for economic research and its adjunct fields such as statistics. The goal of this network consists in constructing as complete a collection as possible of all research results that have been published in some form. Also, by using this information, various evaluations or rankings can be produced. An important difference from many other ranking methods is that RePEc is based on the ‘wiki’ principle and the relevant information is not compiled by an individual author or institution. This principle applies both to authors as well as publishers, which to some extent are dependent on each other. On the one hand, publishers must make available the meta-information of their publications (journal articles, books, book contributions, working papers) such as author names, titles, editions, number of pages or citations. On the other hand, scholars must register themselves at RePEc and classify their works. This enables a clear allocation to the authors. With the help of the information available in the network, rankings can be computed for authors and institutions. A potential disadvantage, however, is that some information (e.g. particular journals or citations) may not have been made available to the network or, because of the concentration on economic research, publications from other disciplines may not be included. For the research community there is thus a strong incentive to make as much information as possible available in order to fully exhaust the network effect.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Science Special Issue: Dealing with Data

The February 11th (2011) issue of the journal, Science, has a special focus, Dealing with Data. Articles from this issue, augmented by others appearing in Science Signaling, Science Translational Medicine, and Science Careers, have been collected and made freely available. With scientific innovation increasingly recognized as central in dealing with such important societal issues as climate change and global public health, to name just two, greater accountability and transparency are required of the sciences, with better management and access to data recognized as central to achieving these goals. In addition to the need for improved access to data, articles over a range of scientific disciplines speak to the need for intelligent archiving decisions, given the deluge of data and the impossibility now of storing it all. There is a call for leadership on these issues from funders, societies, journals, educators, and individual scientists—and from society at large. The costs of losing data are tremendous, just as the opportunities in better management and availability are great.

Monday, February 14, 2011

UK Committee Announce New Inquiry into Peer Review

The UK's House of Commons recently announced the creation of a Select Committee that will inquire into peer review:
The committee invites evidence on the operation and effectiveness of the peer review process used to examine and validate scientific results and papers prior to publication.

The Committee welcomes submissions on all aspect of the process and among the issues it is likely to examine are the following:

1. the strengths and weaknesses of peer review as a quality control mechanism for scientists, publishers and the public;
2. measures to strengthen peer review;
3. the value and use of peer reviewed science on advancing and testing scientific knowledge;
4. the value and use of peer reviewed science in informing public debate;
5. the extent to which peer review varies between scientific disciplines and between countries across the world;
6. the processes by which reviewers with the requisite skills and knowledge are identified, in particular as the volume of multi-disciplinary research increases;
7. the impact of IT and greater use of online resources on the peer review process; and
8. possible alternatives to peer review.

The Committee welcomes submissions from scientists whose material has been peer reviewed, those who commission peer reviews and those who carry out peer review.
More details.

Friday, February 11, 2011

American Physical Society Online Journals Available Free in U.S. High Schools

Last summer the American Physical Society (APS) made its online journals freely available to public libraries, an initiative that was very well received. On 9 February, 2011 the Society announced that it will also make its journals freely available to high school students and teachers in the U.S. The journals are Physical Review Letters, Physical Review, and Reviews of Modern Physics, a collection constituting over 400,000 scientific research papers. This initiative is intended "as a contribution to public engagement with the ongoing development of scientific understanding."

The news release.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Scholar attitudes toward OA journals

From today's Chronicle of Higher Education

Scholars Favor Open-Access Journals, but Some Say Quality and Fees Are Concerns

By Josh Fischman

A new survey of nearly 40,000 scholars across the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences shows that almost 90 percent of them believe open-access journals are good for the research community and the individual researcher. But charges for publishing and the perception that open-access journals are of lower quality than traditional publications deter scholars from the open-access route, according to the Study of Open Access Publishing report, by an international team of researchers.
more ...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

One Million CIC Books Scanned

The Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) recently announced that Google has now digitized 1,000,000 books from member libraries of the CIC.
Each of these volumes has been scanned, translated from image to text with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology and added to the Google Books index. Once digitized, the books are shipped back to our originating libraries to resume their journeys from bookshelves to backpacks.

While Google preserves library books in digital form, and makes them more accessible to more people as a result, it also sends participating libraries (at no cost to us) digital copies for our own archives or other non-commercial use. Accordingly, the CIC libraries are making hundreds of thousands of the recently digitized public domain volumes accessible through their partnership with the HathiTrust Digital Library.

We became Google's 16th Library Project partner in June 2007. Google Books has now partnered with more than 40 libraries and scanned more than 15 million books worldwide. Books that have only been available for use within the walls of our libraries have found new readers now that they are open to the world.. . .

While we are pausing to celebrate this moment with Google today, we're not resting on our library laurels. We have a long way to go to digitize all of our books. In fact, CIC libraries have agreed to provide as many as 10 million volumes to this ambitious project, out of total collections approaching 85 million volumes. -- so this is just the beginning.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nature's OA offering

SPARC highlights a recent article about a new OA journal venture by the publishers of Nature, called Scientific Reports.

The article, published in Times Higher Education, begins:
The launch by Nature Publishing Group (NPG) of a high-volume open-access journal spanning the natural sciences is being tipped to accelerate the extinction of subscription fees in science publishing, and could also prompt the closure of many specialist journals.

Scientific Reports will launch this summer and will cover biology, chemistry, the earth sciences and physics.

Like the Public Library of Science's PLoS ONE journal, Scientific Reports will be entirely open access and will publish every submission deemed by a faster peer-review process to be technologically sound - including those reporting useful negative results.