Archive for the 'publishing' category

Enough already with the computer-generated papers!

Feb 25 2014 Published by under publishing, scholarly communication

SIGH! Years ago there was the Sokal affair that poked fun at cultural studies. Then there was a series of efforts to create a computer program to create articles - SciGen from MIT students is a famous one. Phil Davis got a computer-generated paper accepted to Bentham. More recently there was the Bohannon AAAS "sting" operation that (unfairly) targeted only OA journals... There were also two groups that gamed Google Scholar to show more citations... And now:

Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers
Conference proceedings removed from subscription databases after scientist reveals that they were computer-generated.

Richard Van Noorden, Nature News, 24 February 2014

http://www.nature.com/news/publishers-withdraw-more-than-120-gibberish-papers-1.14763

Ugh! At least we can't blame Cyril Labbé, the scientist in question. He didn't submit the articles, he just detected them. And in places near and dear to my heart like IEEE Xplore and Springer. These are conference papers this time. Not only did they supposedly go through peer review - but were they presented? WHAT was presented? Even if these were pranks - how funny was it if it wasn't revealed? Should the authors be banned? Should they be charged with fraud as some suggest? What a stinking mess.

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An interesting thought - journal article orphan works?

Dec 12 2013 Published by under information policy, publishing

I made an assumption and was called on it on Liblicense. I was under the impression that to be published you ( or someone from your place of work if it's work-for-hire like at mpow) had to have signed a copyright agreement. Turns out that over time, some publishers have been a little slipshod with this. They didn't follow up or they made some statement that if the author didn't sign, the transfer was assumed or claimed or whatever. Even if they got the agreement, they might not still have it.

Huh. According to Laura Quilter on LibLicense, in the US there has to be a signed agreement. So... makes you wonder... could these people who never signed agreements claim their own copyright back? Post their articles wherever they want? Or maybe it would still have to be the content stripped of all the publisher specific formatting and logo?

Worth pondering.

P.S. - read what you sign! consider the SPARC or other addendum.

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Heads Up new Science is a Special Issue on Scholarly Communication

Oct 03 2013 Published by under publishing, scholarly communication

The "sting" article that details a Sokal-Affair-type test of crap open access publishers to see if they really were crap open access publishers is getting all the attention. (do note that Hindawi and PlosONE quickly rejected the manuscript and Plos even questioned the ethical issues - hence they are not crap publishers but decent publishers).

Elsewhere in the issue that just went live at 2pm are articles on:

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eBook DRM - do not like!

Jul 03 2013 Published by under information policy, publishing

MPOW had a trial for Taylor & Francis ebooks - in my professional opinion (not anyone else's) - I find T&F stuff overpriced, difficult to use, and less important than stuff from other publishers. We're quick to call their competitors evil, but at least the platforms work well! With that said, there are a few key journals there that we pretty much need. Some of these books might be useful, too. So I took a look.

ew, ew, ew!  The DRM is horrible. View on screen in quick view or pdf view with limited printing, copying/pasting; or download (requires a plugin to Acrobat) and no copying/pasting or printing and it's "saved for a limited time."  Just say no!

Oh, and while I'm naming names... McGraw-Hill changed what they offer for their AccessEngineering Library a while ago so that you can't print unless you create a login (boo!). Today an engineer showed what the print out looks like - massive watermark in black obscuring half the page. Nice job, McG-H!

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Does bundling "screw libraries"?

Apr 11 2013 Published by under publishing, scholarly communication

I'm not an Elsevier apologist, really, but let's just be pragmatic here. There are lots of things to criticize them for, but I can't get as exercised about the bundling as some.

Here are my thoughts in brief:

  • What we pay for each download/view is actually pretty low
  • Our researchers have immediate access to lots of obscure things we never thought they'd need
  • Our researchers are accessing things we'd never subscribe to if offered separately
  • Even crap journals may have some good content from time to time (El Naschie not withstanding)
  • We don't have to take the bundle. We can always just subscribe to just those journals we want. Many libraries have cancelled their big deals.

Bad things:

  • Supporting some crap journals
  • Some jerk editors of crap journals advertising that we subscribe to their crap journal
  • Inflation in the cost of the big deals eating up the serials budget leaving less and less for smaller publishers or individual subscriptions.

This last thing is really bad, but it's not only the case in bundle situations. The big fancy science and technology journals are crazy expensive whether you purchase them in a bundle or individually. Our budgets are decreasing - we're cutting 5% here or 10% there when we're not facing 25% cuts - and as I said in an earlier post, 15% increases are not doable, even if new journals are added to the package.

So anyway, call me brainwashed or whatever, but I'm just trying to get the content our folks need for the money we have to spend (or, in most cases, the money our parent institution has to spend 'cause mpow is cut to the bone).

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The latest land grab in the LIS world: Citation managers

Apr 10 2013 Published by under information policy, publishing

The information industry (or whatever) seems to go through wave after wave of big land grabs with mergers and acquisitions and then series of product launches. The current one is for citation managers. You might be wondering why now? What's going on? I have some thoughts (spurred along in part by discussions in the Library Society of the World area on FriendFeed).

Citation managers have been around since at least the 1980s if not before. They're really a no-brainer for people who need to write about their research (attributing ideas gotten elsewhere) and it always surprises me that not every scholar has one set up. They're simply a database that's smart about citations/references/bibliographies. All viable ones right now take imports from research databases, the web, and digital libraries; let you search; and let you reuse information by inserting citations into documents and formatting them in your preferred format. In the past 5-10 years, newer ones are web-based or at least back-up/sync over the web, and offer some social or collaboration features.

The web-based citation managers provide a ton of very interesting data to their companies:

  • What are people reading?
  • Where are they searching (where is their data coming from)?
  • How are they reading - what in documents do they find interesting (for services that provide annotation tools)?

You start to see, then, why for-profit publishers would find this very interesting indeed.

At the same time, the publishing market is growing at a set rate, so to increase profits, publishers need to branch out into different services. Hosting pre-prints? Indexing or hosting data (too expensive)? Expanding presence into other parts of the scientist's workflow (ding!)?

By expanding their brand's presence into the writing process and the reading and analyzing the literature process, companies gain a few possible benefits:

  • more places to put ads, better data to sell more relevant (thus acceptable and profitable) ads
  • lower the friction to submit valuable articles into their journals
  • get submissions with better markup so editing and typesetting are easier (may be a pipe dream)
  • more brand loyalty?

What's in it for us? Some of these big corporations actually have very functional UX teams and have the potential of really making some improvements. Better integration of these tools with the research databases and whatnot you already use could be useful.

With respect to Elsevier and Mendeley. Sure Elsevier is evil... BUT... they do actually have some really great products and they do spend a ton of money improving them. Some of their competitors are also evil, but do not put any money back into improving their interfaces.

Your data going to help Elsevier (and a fuss coming from a Microsoft employee - give me a break!)? Yeah, well, I guess I'm of the school that I'm willing to give up some things to get better and more relevant services. To be honest, Elsevier is a known entity and that's slightly more comfortable than a start-up on venture capital looking to turn a buck. Maybe less uncertainty is better? (bring on the pitchforks and torches!)

Other acquisitions: Springer and Papers - I actually missed this news last Fall.

Also: ACS and ChemWorx (not an acquisition but a partnership, I believe).

Of course Thomson Reuters bought ProCite, EndNote, Reference Manager ages ago and now offer EndNote Web to Web of Science subscribers.

Edit 4/30: I forgot to mention that ProQuest bought RefWorks a while ago. I just read today (via) that there's now a free version of EndNote Web. Competition is good!

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Happy, happy day! OSTP issues directive to expand open access to the products of federally funded research.

So yesterday's post is obe, lol.

You might have seen the many calls to sign the We the People petition on Open Access (many tweets were tagged #OAMonday because there was a big push on a Monday to get the signatures rolling in). OSTP (the office of science and technology policy in the White House) has responded here: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/increasing-public-access-results-scientific-research

The OSTP Open Access memo is here (pdf): http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/ostp_public_access_memo_2013.pdf

So exciting, so happy. Now back to work!

News via John Dupuis who is retweeting a lot of things from around the web.

One response so far

DOE to try a publisher-sensitive pubmed central-like database?

Somehow I got on a NITRD e-mail list (probably a project I was on) and through that list I recently got an announcement of a presentation on PAGES (Public Access Gateway for Energy and Science) which is described as "a web-based portal that will ensure that, after an embargo period, scholarly publications sponsored by the Department of Energy are publicly accessible and searchable at no charge to readers."

I immediately got all excited - sounds a lot like pubmed central and woo-hoo because DOE funds a lot of research in diverse fields.

Then I read down a little ways and saw some strange caveat-like things or, well, not really weasel words but look here (emphases mine):

PAGES is designed to take advantage of the public access efforts of publishers by linking, via digital object identifiers (DOIs), to DOE articles they make publicly accessible.  Each such article serves as the Version of Record, and it is hosted by the publisher.  Thus, PAGES will avoid duplicating the public access efforts of publishers.

When DOE articles are not publicly accessible, PAGES will focus on accepted manuscripts.  Specifically, after an embargo period, it will link, via URLs, to publicly accessible manuscripts hosted by institutional repositories.  For those instances where free public access is offered neither by a publisher nor by an institutional repository, the DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information will host the accepted manuscript and display it after an embargo period.  In both of these cases, PAGES will still provide DOI links to publishers’ websites, where articles may be accessed with a subscription or other transaction, thus maintaining a pathway to the Version of Record.

So this sounds very much like the authors were talking to the Executive Director of AIP, who was a DOE physicist (and administrator) prior to taking over at AIP. In his presentations and contributions to committees on scholarly communication he has put forth rental models, FundRef (a way to track research funding through CrossRef metadata), and links to the "version of record" at publishers all as ways to provide public access. I've already commented on rental models and knowing something exists and looking at the abstract may be intellectual access but it's not the real access that someone trying to do science needs. Publishers have long (and continuously) maintained that scientists are perfectly content with access and that, in general, access to the literature is just fine thank you very much.

So that's why I say "publisher-sensitive."

A couple of other weird things - we don't know the embargo period and it seems excessive not to even link to institutional repository copies until after the embargo. If the publisher allows immediate posting of the work in an institutional repository, then why wait? Seems strange.

Also no discussion of carrot, stick, mandate, or whatever. Will this be a condition of funding? Are they just going to crawl the web or whatever open repository harvester thingy to find these things? Hope authors volunteer publication information? Hmmm.

It looks like a similar presentation was given to CENDI.

In that presentation there's also this other thing that could have been written by publishers

Preserves the freedom of researchers to promote and disseminate their research, i.e., preserves researchers’ choice in selecting the journal to which they wish to submit manuscripts.

A bit of fud (maybe?) that publishers have been using in anti-mandate press releases is that mandates would force scientists to only publish in journals that would allow depositing of the manuscript thus taking away their freedom to select an appropriate venue. (seems to me if you publish a journal with lots of stuff funded by a mandate-having agency then you probably need to support compliance with the mandate, but that's just me.)

The original announcement also had this information:

Regardless of where DOE-sponsored articles or accepted manuscripts are hosted, PAGES will enable readers to search them all via a single search box.  Among the metadata thus returned by PAGES will be the DOI for the published article once that DOI is posted by the publisher.  PAGES will also be integrated with other DOE publicly-accessible R&D information and products, such as the 330,000 technical reports in the DOE Information Bridge

Over all definitely a good thing. I'm actually rather amused at how much they're trying to placate publishers. I guess they really don't want to get in to the lobbying and NIH-like battles. I can't say I really blame them. Limited money is best used elsewhere. I guess the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. It would be awesome if this got taken up by DOD. Really would be fabulous.

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Crazy response from reporting a missing issue

Feb 21 2013 Published by under publishing

I'm gonna have to name names but I'll say right now that I'm stating facts and also that nothing on this site represents the opinion or position of my employer.

I recently noticed that v25 n1 (1991) of the Journal of Composites is missing from the Sage website. We've licensed the whole backfile for this journal and we need an article from it.

I contacted technical support and their response was:

SAGE did not publish JOURNAL OF COMPOSITE MATERIALS in 1991.  I checked with our Publishing Technologies Department and the 1991 content you asked for is not available in our archives because the previous publisher did not have all past issues on hand when the title was transferred to SAGE.

I suggest that you look for the back issue at the Periodical Service Company.  This company has permission to sell back issues of our journals which are older than 2 years old.  They are major reprinters of academic journals and specialize in the supply of back volumes and back issues of out-of-print journals and serials.

What a load of crap. I can purchase a copy of the missing issue but they can't do the same and digitize it? That's completely unsatisfactory. When I've reported missing or messed up issues to Wiley and Elsevier they've promptly corrected the problem. (how promptly varies, because they have to source the print, scan, add metadata, qc, etc., but they fixed it)
Aw, come on... we pay these boatloads of money this is bogus.

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WTH, Publishers? What part of NO MORE MONEY do you not get?

Feb 13 2013 Published by under publishing

Rant mode on.

We have one publisher of ebooks with a 13% increase. A journal publisher with a 7% increase. Another journal publisher with individual titles with as much as a 20% increase (promptly cancelled!).

THERE IS NO MORE MONEY.

THERE IS NO ... MORE ... MONEY...

NO MORE MONEY.

Sequester? Government science cut backs? Military O & M money shorted? RDT&E money shorted?

No. More. You're gonna get cancelled and we'll have to deal with the pitchforks and torches. Hell, I have a travel ban on now even if the kids weren't preventing me from going to SLA and whatnot.

It's not just the small undergrad colleges. It's across the board.

End of Rant.

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