View from a GA, Part 2

I just wanted to provide everyone with several updates about my ongoing work at IU ScholarWorks. October has been an exciting month.  One of the interesting events that happened was Open Access Week, in which librarians reached out to the general academic community to preach the merits of open access. Jen and Naz gave a talk called “Making Your Research Open Access”, directed at researchers interested in learning more about Open Access and the Institutional Repository.  Judging by the turnout, it was a success by any measure.

I was also given an opportunity to give a workshop on the NIH Public Access Policy. The NIH’s policy ensures that the public has open access to the published results of research funded by NIH award grants. While there have been some open access victories in other areas, I considered the NIH’s Public Access Policy to be on the better conceived and executed large open access projects. Not only has it provided millions of scientific work to the public for free, but it has also achieved a sufficient compromise with authors and publishers. With authors, the mandate comes as part of the grant award funding- if the research is “directly” funded by the grant, the author must make the work available to the public within 12 months of publication. Failure to do so will lead to both the PI and Insitutions having problem gaining NIH funding in the future. Perhaps more importantly then just creating abstract mandates for public access (like the NSF currently does), the NIH created a system that is remarkably easy to navigate, find information and submit document in one centralized database.

While general IR submission rates are relatively low, NIH compliance is roughly around 75% according to some studies of the issue, both because of ease of use and incentives created by the need for future funding. Just as importantly, the policy does make compromises not to upset the apple-cart of the current scholarly publishing model. The author still submits to the traditional academic journals in the usual fashion and is given a 12 month buffer between the time of publication and the time in which the article must be posted in pub med central. As it turns out, publishers are still doing just fine under this arrangement, as Elsevier continues to post a decent profit margin. Many journals’ voluntary compliance and submission (via Method A) has made the process extremely easy on authors. Granted, even this generous compromise in the favor of publisher is still being disputed by some large publishers, as clearly displayed by bills like “The Research Works Act” (H.R. 3699) that have attempted (and failed so far) to revoke the public access requirement.

Anyway, librarians should think about NIH Public Access requirement both as a model (for other funding agencies) and in the context of their own attempts to promulgate open access. Thinking about what the NSF might do (as of 2010 they promulgated a data sharing policy, intended to require data management plans as part of all proposals responding to NSF grant funding solicitations) will also be important as researchers look to libraries for assistance in archive large datasets online. I tend to think that such mandate either at funding levels or institutional levels might be a large boon for institutional repositories.


View from a GA, Part One

My name is Nick Farris and I’m the new GA at IUScholarWorks.  I will be assisting ScholarWorks through 2013 with supporting data services on dspace and providing OJS support. Rather than give a standard, book report sounding post- I think Stacy’s post below is great jumping off point into my brief experience here at IUScholarWorks. Salo’s Innkeeper at the Roach Motel, while provocative, still seems to be as relevant today as it was in 2008.

Some of the hurtles mentioned in Salo’s article still seem to be around. It seems like the IRS were first created with the expectation that faculty would just come by and quickly provide content. This strikes me as the primary reason that IRs with broad goals have failed to quickly provide a great deal of open access content. In economics, we constantly told to think about incentives that are created by certain policy decisions or institutions. The incentives created by such an open-ended, meandering IR aren’t ideal from the scholar’s prospective- in so far as the scholars considering depositing have little practical upside (beyond perhaps getting their work to the public, the abstract future benefit of helping develop a more efficient, cost-effective method of scholarly communication) but bare the rather concrete downside risks (time investment, being scoped/plagiarized by other people). Of course, I think it is likely that greater open access of academic work would greatly benefit the academic community as a whole- but the individual incentives don’t align in a way that makes such a task easy to carry out.

I think every IR managers dream at this point is to a Harvard or UC like mandate that all works of a certain type must be deposited in the institutional repository at the end of the academic year. After all, this makes the process significantly easier- rather than hounding weary academics for journal articles or attempts to market the term “open access” to 60 year old professors, the school just makes the IR an integral part of the academic reporting at the end of the year.

While perhaps the original concept behind IRs was slightly too optimistic, I think IRs still have the power to be relevant without broad, institution-wide mandates. For example, many large grant funding organizations (such as the NSF or NIH) are now going about the process of creating policies that publicly-funded research must be archived so that the public can make use of it. ScholarWorks has been at the forefront of creating personalized, individual plans to help researchers archive large amounts of their datasets into the scholarworks and then help with the compliance paperwork. I suspect that these types of projects will become increasingly common and important over the next decade.

One last note- and not a particular well-thought out one at that- but last week’s EconTalk (which along with NPR’s Planet Money are the best economics/finance podcasts around) dealt with the closely associated topic of the problems of academic incentives in scientific research and publishing. While I often hear librarians complain about publishers for financial reasons, Professor Nosek brought up a whole host of reasons that the entire journal-based scholarly communication method is troublesome for its most fundamental goal of producing robust, reproducible science (ie the incentives to publish bombastic positive results but few to publish negative ones, the file drawer effect, and the lack of interest in publishing verifications).  He recommended services like Open Science Framework and the PsychFileDrawer that has many similarities to IRs (posting pre-prints, allowing the general community to review and discuss articles and data, etc ). I wonder to the extent that university IRs could assist or promote this practice. Could an IR provide the tools to help this conversation along? Maybe next month’s post can highlight this theme in more depth.

Sources: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2012/09/nosek_on_truth.html