Bumpy Reopenings

As the first universities open for “post-corona” business in the U.S., the first campus reopenings have been less than smooth rides. This week, Ohio State University took action against more than 200 students for violating gathering rules, and they are not alone:

In New York, Syracuse University announced last week it had issued 23 interim suspensions to students who violated its COVID-19 safety requirements. The president of St. Olaf College in Minnesota said 17 students who participated in an off-campus party are suspended for the fall semester. Purdue University in Indiana also suspended 36 students for partying.

And officials at other schools, including the University of Miami and the University of Connecticut, say they have revoked housing for students who have violated public health guidance.

How to balance the urge for young people to gather and feel “free” with virus-related restrictions? This question appears not yet to have an answer, not just in higher education environments.

Read more:

United National Population Fund. (2020). Adolescents and Young People & Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Preparedness and Response UNFPA Interim Technical Briefhttps://www.unfpa.org/resources/adolescents-and-young-people-coronavirus-disease-covid-19

Treisman, R. (2020). More Than 200 Ohio State University Students Suspended For Violating Pandemic Ruleshttps://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/08/25/906039378/more-than-200-ohio-state-university-students-suspended-for-violating-pandemic-ru

Posted in COVID & Higher Ed Strategy | Leave a comment

Three Scenarios for Higher Education Later in 2020

Bryan Alexander has drafted a thought piece outlining three possible scenarios for higher education operations in late 2020 with some caveats:

…in this post I am exploring future possibilities.  I am not endorsing any particular analysis, political party, or course of action.  I am also not assessing relative likelihood of these scenarios.

My primary target is United States academia, because of circumstances.  Yet I think what follows can be applied to most nations, with some tweaking depending on local circumstances.

The comments (though not numerous) are worth reading, and the piece may be useful for those contemplating possible steps forward for their institutions as the current crisis unfolds in different contexts.

Alexander, B. (2020). Higher education in fall 2020: three pandemic scenarios.  https://bryanalexander.org/future-of-education/higher-education-in-fall-2020-three-pandemic-scenarios/

Posted in COVID & Higher Ed Strategy | Leave a comment

A Test in Reproducibility

During his time as Editor-in-Chief for Molecular Brain, Fujita Health University’s Tsuyoshi Miyakawa made requests for raw data for 41 papers marked for revision prior to publication, and the majority of authors failed to respond to this request (in fact, only one article from this 41-article set was eventually accepted for publication). This experience prompted Miyakawa to pen an essay entitled “No raw data, no science: another possible source of the reproducibility crisis” and to call for journals to include raw data requests as part of their editorial process, describing his journal’s new policy for datasets:

I propose that all journals should, in principle, try their best to have authors and institutions make their raw data open in a public database or on a journal web site upon the publication of the paper, in order to increase the reproducibility of published results and to strengthen public trust in science. Currently, the data sharing policy of Molecular Brain only ‘encourages’ all datasets on which the conclusions of the manuscript rely to be either deposited in publicly available repositories (where available and appropriate) or presented in the main paper or additional supporting files, in machine-readable format (such as spread sheets rather than PDFs) whenever possible. Building on our existing policy, we will require, in principle, deposition of the datasets on which the conclusions of the manuscript rely from 1 March 2020. Such datasets include quantified numerical values used for statistical analyses and graphs, images of tissue staining, and uncropped images of all blot and gel results.

In my own recent experience with journal editing, I can say that having the ability to access underlying data for any study would provide me with more confidence when considering the results discussed in a paper, regardless of discipline.

Miyakawa does recognize the need for more robust data infrastructures for supporting raw data provision by authors and calls for better infrastructures for this:

…institutions, funding agencies, and publishers should cooperate and try to support such a move by establishing data storage infrastructure to enable the securing and sharing of raw data, based on the understanding that ‘no raw data, no science.’

Read more:

Miyakawa, T. No raw data, no science: another possible source of the reproducibility crisis. Mol Brain 13, 24 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13041-020-0552-2

Posted in Academic Integrity, Data Repositories, Open Science, Science Communications Research | Leave a comment

Happy New Year!

Wishing you the very best as 2020 begins.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Experiments in Open Access Publishing: Community Efforts Work; Payoff=Learning & Access

Where have I been since July? I’ve been conducting two experiments in open access publishing, volunteering to be:

  1. Co-editor for Evidence Summaries at Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, a fully open journal hosted by the University of Alberta (Canada)
  2. Engaged in the IFLA Document Delivery and Resource Sharing (DDRS) committee and the organization of the 16th ILDS conference, which takes place every two years. As part of this involvement, program subcommittee members (including myself and NTK’s Sasha Skenderija) created a “light” peer review process for conference papers and decided to publish our conference proceedings openly as an eBook using the existing NTK infrastructure, including a pre-existing repository and creation of an official cataloging record to improve access to the document.

While at times daunting (finding EBLIP peer reviewers during the summer at times seemed like climbing Mount Everest! And who knew some Czech ISBN rules date back to the mid-90s!), both experiences have left me with a clear understanding of what fully moving to an open access environment can mean, when members of various academic communities take it seriously. It all boils down to a community’s rolling up its sleeves and being serious about defining and implementing what scholarly communications/output mean to that particular community plus utilizing (and pushing to expand and improve) existing technological infrastructures.

When this work is done, everyone involved in the process learns: the educational benefits of really engaging in working behind-the-scenes on an open access journal or eBook (in any role: author, publisher, peer reviewer, copy editor, editor) are tremendous, and anyone with an Internet connection interested in the community’s outputs (note: there are still serious Digital Divide hurdles to be solved in this regard) can engage in discussion about the published output.

Stepping back: defining (seriously) what scholarly communications means to a community

I can understand why metrics defining what is considered to be “scholarly output” were developed (funders—including universities and not just grant funding agencies—must have fair and transparent guidelines for academic promotion and distribution of limited grant funding), but I know I’m not alone in feeling that such standards can be misinterpreted, can be overly inflexible, and can be “gamed” by certain players. In the end, each academic community defines its rules.

In terms of contributing to open access movements, it’s up to each academic community to do its soul-searching. Do we want everyone in the world to be able to access our efforts? Why do our journals charge article processing charges (APCs), if they charge them? Are the APCs fair? Will reducing APCs impact quality (or not)? If there’s money involved, where does all the money go?

If it’s hard for your community to answer such questions, it’s maybe time for the community to ask itself why.

Taking advantage of (and pushing to expand and improve) existing technological infrastructures

In thinking about APCs, if a community decides to handle behind-the-scenes work with volunteers (“paid” by learning to be better writers, reviewers, and editors; by gaining academic service activities to put on CVs and to talk about in annual reviews; fame and glory [j/k]), the only “cost” to providing open journal access is the technological infrastructure. EBLIP works with the Open Journal Systems (OJS), a Public Knowledge project, hosted by University of Alberta Libraries; for the ILDS eBook, we used a pre-existing library repository.

Many of these kinds of individual initiatives, at individual institutions or libraries, have sprung up over the past decade. They’re there for members of academic communities to take advantage of, but are often forgotten and/or limited to members of an individual institution. Sometimes, maybe too often, commercial solutions are more user friendly and have broader reach. If we’re serious about open access—and long-term access to information we can trust—maybe it’s time researchers and libraries start asking themselves better questions about solutions which already exist. Why does “Commercial Solution X” work better than our repositories? Are we fast enough to deliver new solutions that can compete with commercial ones? If we’re too slow, why is this the case? How can we do better?

Then there are the even bigger questions: What can we do to change the common issues we face—not just at our institution, but across our global academic community as a whole? How can we share resources to make our efforts accessible to all? How can we serve a greater good better? 

Such questions are easy to lose sight of in the day-to-day sea of academic activities. I’d argue it’s maybe time to stop getting jostled by the waves and to put our hands on the rudder.

Posted in Academic Integrity, ILDS 2019, Net Neutrality, Open Access, Open Science, Science Communications Research, Science Gateways | Leave a comment

UC Office of Scholarly Communications Provides Negotiation Toolkit to the Public

In a bold effort, the University of California Office of Scholarly Communications has created a toolkit for those negotiating with publishers. The toolkit, well-conceived and including specific UC examples, can assist anyone in approaching complex negotiations (not only with publishers) and includes a section on communications efforts and execution, stressing the importance of the role of data analytics in the negotiation process.

The Office has also made public a recent presentation of the UC strategy to its leadership (link, with video, below).

Posted in Discovery, Open Access, Science Communications Research, Science Gateways | Leave a comment

The “Open Access Wars”: An Academic Publishing Synopsis

Recent developments, including University of California developments, clearly explained together with a historical synopsis of the academic publishing industry:

This is a story about more than subscription fees. It’s about how a private industry has come to dominate the institutions of science, and how librarians, academics, and even pirates are trying to regain control.

Full story:

Resnick, B. & Belluz, J. (2019). “The war to free science: How librarians, pirates, and funders are liberating the world’s academic research from paywalls.” Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/6/3/18271538/open-access-elsevier-california-sci-hub-academic-paywalls


Posted in Open Access, Open Science, Science Communications Research | Leave a comment

Alternative to Beall’s: Cabell’s Predatory Journal Blacklist

Rick Anderson has written a review of one alternative to Beall’s List: the subscription resource Cabell’s Predatory Journal Blacklist.

Anderson’s conclusion:

Overall, I find the Cabell’s Blacklist product to be a carefully crafted, honestly managed, and highly useful tool for libraries, faculty committees, and authors.

Read more:

Anderson, R. (2018). Cabell’s Predatory Journal Blacklist: An Updated Review. The Scholarly Kitchenhttps://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2019/05/01/cabells-predatory-journal-blacklist-an-updated-review/

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UC Slides: Blueprint for Negotiations

Mackie-Mason, Waibel, and Willmont from the University of California system teamed up to present their Blueprint for Negotiations at CNI on April 8. Power up the slides at: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1gmVXRxGIp_hWUQ82wP6jzhcDsYiaeDlfeLR-3speGGE/edit#slide=id.g55eeb5f918_8_20

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It’s All About Content “Leakage”: Analysis of the UC Elsevier Deal

Roger Schonfeld once again provides an excellent analysis, this time on the drivers of recent Elsevier deals:

…California, through its cancellation, has nevertheless maintained its position unambiguously. It does not need ongoing journal subscriptions through ScienceDirect. Put another way: A major customer’s perceived value in the product offering has declined. Elsevier apparently no longer has the pricing power it once could assert.


The source of the value decline is no mystery. Joe Esposito argued more than a year ago that ‘Sci-Hub is an unacknowledged reserve army prepared to enter the battle with publishers,’ noting elsewhere in the piece that time “is not on Elsevier’s side.”

But Sci-Hub is not alone. Sci-Hub is one of a series of services through which content is ‘leaking’ out of publisher sites through to users. While some of these sites are illicit and pirate, others like SSRN and institutional repositories are accepted parts of the ecosystem, and still others are like ResearchGate, whose intentions vary by observer.

Read more at: Schonfeld, R. (2019). Is the Value of the Big Deal in Decline? The Scholarly Kitchen. https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2019/03/07/value-big-deal-leakage/

Posted in Acquisitions, Discovery, Science Communications Research, Science Gateways | Leave a comment