Archive for the 'scholarly communication' 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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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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The #agu12 and #agu2012 Twitter archive

I showed a graph of the agu10 archive here, and more recently the agu11/2011 archive here, and now for the agu12/2012 archive. See the 2011 post for the exact methods used to get the data and to clean it.

#agu12 and #agu2012 largest component, nodes sized by degree

#agu12 and #agu2012 largest component, nodes sized by degree

agu12 and 2012 other components no iso sized by degree n1294

#agu12 and #agu2012 other components, no isolates, nodes sized by degree

I will have to review methods to show this, but from appearances, the networks are becoming more like hairballs. In the first year, half the people were connected to theAGU and the other half were connected to NASA, but very few were connected to both. The other prominent nodes were pretty much all institutional accounts. In 2011, that started to decrease and now in 2012 you can't really see that division at all. There are the top three nodes - two the same plus a NASA robotic mission - but then there's a large second group with degrees (connections to others) around 40-80 (combined indegree and outdegree) of individual scientists.

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An image of the #agu2011, #agu11 Twitter archive

A loooong time ago, I  showed the agu10 archive as a graph, here's the same for the combination of agu11 and agu2011. I mentioned already about the upper/lower case issues (excel is oblivious but my graphing program cares) - this is all lower case (I first tried to correct but kept missing things so I just used Excel's =LOWER()). I also discussed how I got the data. I'm going to have to probably go back and do this for 2010 if I really want equivalent images because 1) I only kept the first @ (this has all the @) 2) I don't believe I did both 2010 and 10 so I probably missed some. For this image I did a little bit of correcting. One twitter name spelled wrong and quite a few people using the_agu or agu instead of theagu. I also took out things that were like @10am or @ the convention center.

I made this graph by taking my excel spreadsheet that was nicely username first@ second@ .... and copying that into Ucinet's dl editor and saving as nodelist1. Then I visualized and did basic analysis in NetDraw.

agu2011 and agu11 largest component, sized by degree

agu2011 and agu11 largest component, sized by degree

The largest component is 559 nodes of 740 and this time you don't see that breakdown where the people who tweeted @NASA didn't tweet @ theAGU. There were 119 isolates and other components with 2,3, and 10 nodes:

Other components, sized by degree (no isolates)

Other components, sized by degree (no isolates)

eta: oh yeah, one other little fix. I took out random punctuation at the end of user names like hi @cpikas! or hey @cpikas: or  well you get the idea

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Unexpected impacts of federal budget monkey business

Many government organizations are responding to the sequestration and various budget cuts by, among other things, cancelling support for conferences and cancelling all scientist and engineer travel to conferences.

Societies (like AIAA) are kvetching about their bottom lines, but this is really much more troubling than just the fiscal health of the societies given how important conferences are in keeping up in the field.

Scientists and engineers use conferences to meet potential collaboration partners and funders, to learn about new work, to maintain relationships formed at previous conferences, and to get feedback on their own work. Distance does still matter and in-person meetings are still important.*

Moreover, in some fields (**) conferences are archival and are relied upon for certification and distribution purposes. Other conferences are the first place new results are mentioned and many authors modify their work based on interactions at meetings ***.

We all complained bitterly during the previous administration about the funding of science and the suppression of some scientific results... but is this much better? How can government regulate well without being up on the science? Maybe this is temporary... but it doesn't look good.

__

* Olson, G. M., & Olson, J. S. (2000). Distance matters. Human-Computer Interaction, 15(2-3), 139-178. doi: 10.1207/S15327051HCI1523_4 ( there are definitely better citations for this now,... but time is limited)

** Drott, M. C. (1995). Reexamining the role of conference papers in scholarly communication. JASIS, 46(4), 299-305.

*** Garvey, W. D., Tomita, K., Lin, N., & Nelson, C. E. (1972). Research Studies in Patterns of Scientific Communication .2. Role of National Meeting in Scientific and Technical Communication. Information Storage and Retrieval, 8(4), 159-169. doi:10.1016/0020-0271(72)90001-0

 

note: it took me like weeks to write this because i kept (squirrel) getting distracted... hopefully it makes sense even if it's probably abbreviated from what I originally intended to write.

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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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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.

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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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So much on scholarly comms

Everyone is talking about my favorite subject - it's hard to keep up! I've been reading a lot of it on my mobile device while feeding thing 1 and thing 2 but that makes it hard to blog.

I hope to do some round-up posts and some commentary around:

  • journal impact factor
  • publishers finally defending their practices and responding to calls for open access, pressures from PLOSone and similar journals, etc
  • economic and business publications covering scholarly comms
  • what AIP publishing's ending of service to non-member societies means (it means lots of very good journals finally getting to functional platforms, among other things)

Probably some other stuff, too.

It's really healthy to have these discussions and I'm just disappointed that I don't have the time to follow them as closely as I would like. I might actually resort to a link dump if all else fails...

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PeerJ

Jun 12 2012 Published by under scholarly communication

Today there's an announcement of a new generalist life sciences journal, PeerJ. The journal itself is like PlosONE - peer review that looks at the goodness of the science not the impact - but the funding method is quite different. Up until now we have the traditional method in which publishing is paid for with a combination of subscriptions from readers/libraries, page/image charges, and advertising; a method whereby the journal is funded by a society or charity; and a method whereby authors (through their institutions in some cases) pay for publishing. This journal has a lifetime membership of $99 (and up) and each author (up to 12) has to have a membership. That covers the publishing it also covers a separate pre-print server.

So there have been a pile of discussions about how much it really costs to publish an article... this undercuts those numbers significantly. I've read the FAQ and they will be backed up in CLOCKSS.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this works and how its received. I'm assuming some will depend on the quality of the editorial board and the first few articles published.

Note: I received embargoed press materials from the founders, Pete Binfield and Jason Hoyt.

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