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Entries in ScholarlyPublishing (4)


Communication in Science

Science, the peer-reviewed general science journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has published a special issue on Communication in Science: Pressures and Predators; helpfully, this particular issue is available free-of-charge. 

Table of Contents is here. There are multiple articles of particular interest to librarians, and articles about scientific meetings, presenting (how to do so well), publishing sensitive information. 

From the introduction -- 

Science 4 October 2013: 
Vol. 342 no. 6154 pp. 56-57 
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6154.56


Scientific Discourse: Buckling at the Seams

Richard Stone, Barbara Jasny

Thomas Edison built an empire on his 1093 patents. But one innovation he considered a failure has had a lasting impact on how scientists communicate. He bankrolled the startup of Science, among the first general science journals, which debuted on 3 July 1880 with a bland description of the U.S. Naval Observatory and a cover plastered with classified ads. Science faltered at first, but in the end it thrived, and so did scientific discourse.

The mid-20th century saw a key innovation, the anonymous referee. This mechanism depends on trust, in both the integrity of submissions and in peer reviewers. That trust is being tested by a disruptive change in scientific communication: open access. Unlike "traditional" journals, which rely largely on subscription revenue, many open-access publications earn their daily bread through publication fees from authors. Profit is linked to volume, seemingly boundless on the Internet.

Although the open-access world includes many legitimate journals, abuse is prevalent, as a Science investigation has found. Over the past 10 months, contributing correspondent John Bohannon submitted faux papers with blatant scientific flaws to 304 open-access journals (60). More than half accepted the paper.

Granted, some "traditional" print publications might have fallen for our hoax, too. But with open-access journals proliferating, debate is needed about how to ensure the credibility of scientific literature. Open-access pioneer Vitek Tracz believes that anonymous peer review is "sick and collapsing under its own weight." As a remedy, Tracz has launched a new open-access journal in which reports—including all supporting data—are reviewed after they are posted online (66). The findings and ex post facto reviews become a living document that proponents say will offer a more nimble forum for revising knowledge as it accumulates.

Continues. . . 

And, of course, there is an infographic -- 



Communicating *Science*

Kent Anderson in the Society for Scholarly Publishing's blog, The Scholarly Kitchen, writes quite passionately about how publishers (and librarians!), in focusing on the practice of scholarly publishing, may be neglecting its purpose

Have We Forgotten Readers in Our Worries Over Access?


I’ve been reading surveys of physicians and attending focus groups filled with physicians for more than 20 years. If there’s one clear trend, it’s that science is becoming less important in the daily lives of practicing physicians. It seems to me that they are less likely to be aspiring scientists and seem more attuned to merely surviving the daily grind — paperwork, administrative duties, and patients. They don’t even bother to posture about their academic aspirations anymore. Everyone seems to be feeling burned out and hustled.

Physicians have always struck me as the great translators of science into practice — biomedicine in action — so it’s a bit alarming to observe the persistent erosion of their identification with science.
They do still pay attention to the scientific literature, but increasingly through the smaller eyepiece of the major journal brands — the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, the Lancet, and maybe one major specialist journal. Beyond this, the impression one gets is that science has become unapproachable for them.


Perhaps it’s merely a coincidence, but three trends have occurred coincident with the bifurcation of physician practice and physician science, at least as I hypothesize it:

  • open access (OA) and its emphasis on the article economy
  • the replacement of personal subscriptions with institutional access
  • the disappearance of print

Each of these has contributed to an overall gestalt — science has become abstracted away from practitioners. It has disappeared from the tangible world as journals have disappeared from tables, desks, and waiting rooms. It now lives in the cloud, where it is unmanageable except through search engines, maybe. It has disappeared from professional economies, as library budgets have superseded department, group, or individual spending. And it has become a producer-side commodity, something less helpful to readers even as it has become more tractable for authors.

It’s fascinating to watch physicians talk about how science is less and less important to their daily lives. This is going on while we constantly debate how to publish more science. After all, more papers without a paywall after publication should increase interest in science, right?

We tend to forget that water can be fatal in too high a dose. There is “too much” of anything.

We’re so fixated on citations, OA, APCs, embargoes, and all the other ephemera we debate too long and too often that it’s easy to forget the purpose. It’s not to strut our stuff, it’s not show how morally superior one faction is against another, and it’s not to win some sort of Pyrrhic intramural victory. We have readers, and while it’s convenient and even easier to serve authors, ultimately we serve readers. Even our authors agree on that fact.

Full post at link; I encourage you to read it. 



Open Access

Finally! Something about "open access" written for regular people! (Much of what is written is for higher ed teaching and research faculty, academic librarians, etc.) Open access (OA) is ". . .  the practice of providing unrestricted access via the Internet to peer-reviewed scholarly research."

From the Center for Digital Education -- 

Open Access to Scholarly Work Gains Steam in California Universities

By Tanya Roscorla

ON AUGUST 8, 2013

University of California (UC) faculty seek to take back their rights with a new policy that allows them to make their scholarly work available to the public at no charge. But some say the open access policy doesn't go far enough.

With this policy, the UC Academic Senate is trying to fix a mounting problem in scholarly publishing and steer the direction that this field goes.

"The kind of policy we passed is a way of asserting that faculty authors want to define open access on their terms, which is to say on terms that benefit the university, its research mission and public access-that's what we value at the university," said Christopher Kelty, associate professor of information studies at UCLA and chair of the University Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication. "Publishers want to define it on different terms, mainly their self preservation to some extent, but also in terms of it being a profitable business model in many cases."

The problem with the current publishing process

Currently, faculty send articles about their research, reviews of other research, and abstract principles to scholarly journals for publishing. Getting published in a prestigious scholarly journal is a big deal in academia because it's one of the ways that universities decide who will be promoted and receive tenure.

But in this traditional publishing process, authors usually sign away exclusive first publishing rights to the journal. The journal makes its money by charging subscription fees to university libraries and others, and doesn't allow the research to spread outside of its publication for a year or two.

Until now, large research university libraries have paid for subscriptions, no matter what the cost. But deep budget cuts and skyrocketing subscription costs have prompted libraries to reconsider how they obtain access to scholarly work.

Article continues at link. 

The Association of Research Libraries-led Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) is a good, credible source for additional information about OA. 

The Center for Digital Education is a division of e.Republic, ". . .  the nation’s leading publishing, research, event and new media company focused on the state and local government and education markets." The Center for Digital Education, itself, is ". . .  is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy and funding.")



Open Access: Costs of Publishing

In Nature, as part of a special issue on The Future of Publishing, Richard Van Noorden writes a balanced, nonpolemical piece about open access in general and the costs of science journal publishing in particular. ("Open access" is the notion that people should have unrestricted access to peer-reviewed scholarship, often as it reports the results of subsidized scientific research. See

Open access: The true cost of science publishing

Cheap open-access journals raise questions about the value publishers add for their money. 

Michael Eisen doesn't hold back when invited to vent. "It's still ludicrous how much it costs to publish research — let alone what we pay," he declares. The biggest travesty, he says, is that the scientific community carries out peer review — a major part of scholarly publishing — for free, yet subscription-journal publishers charge billions of dollars per year, all told, for scientists to read the final product. "It's a ridiculous transaction," he says.

Eisen, a molecular biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that scientists can get much better value by publishing in open-access journals, which make articles free for everyone to read and which recoup their costs by charging authors or funders. Among the best-known examples are journals published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), which Eisen co-founded in 2000. "The costs of research publishing can be much lower than people think," agrees Peter Binfield, co-founder of one of the newest open-access journals, PeerJ, and formerly a publisher at PLoS.

But publishers of subscription journals insist that such views are misguided — born of a failure to appreciate the value they add to the papers they publish, and to the research community as a whole. They say that their commercial operations are in fact quite efficient, so that if a switch to open-access publishing led scientists to drive down fees by choosing cheaper journals, it would undermine important values such as editorial quality.

These charges and counter-charges have been volleyed back and forth since the open-access idea emerged in the 1990s, but because the industry's finances are largely mysterious, evidence to back up either side has been lacking. Although journal list prices have been rising faster than inflation, the prices that campus libraries actually pay to buy journals are generally hidden by the non-disclosure agreements that they sign. And the true costs that publishers incur to produce their journals are not widely known. 

Article continues at link.