IUSW Chalk Talks Explain Information Creation in Academia

IUScholarWorks houses course materials for numerous lectures and seminars across campus. While this content is typically created for a specific class discussion, many of these materials are continually applicable to students outside of the course they were originally created for. One collection of course materials that is particularly useful for research and information literacy instruction in all disciplines is the EDUC-L700 Course Materials collection. This collection consists of seven chalk talks related to information creation in academia, designed by Dr. Beth Samuelson and librarians Julie Marie Frye and Sarah Hare. The conversations highlighted in these videos relate directly to the work we do in the Scholarly Communication Department and provide a great introduction to the development of open access initiatives in higher education. Specifically, the fifth, sixth, and seventh chalk talks investigate the role of journals in academia and how the journal publishing environment has impacted information access over time. 

Video 5 Journals in Higher Education discusses the history of journal publishing and how higher education’s reliance on high-impact journal publishing has affected the evolution of this ecosystem. High-impact journals play a crucial role in faculty and institutional evaluation. An academic’s reputation and case for tenure improves when they publish in a top tier journal. Their university also benefits through improved institutional rankings, which leads to a stronger reputation and higher enrollments. Unfortunately, some publishers have now exploited this need in higher education.

Video 6 Inequities in the Ecosystem explains that while publishers enhance journal articles through editing, typesetting, and indexing and warrant compensation for this work, they have built a business model on scholarly works that have been submitted, reviewed, and edited at no cost to them. They have been able to then sell these works back to institutions for extremely high prices through library subscriptions. Moreover, they often restrict how authors can use their work, usually through publishing agreement terms and paywalls. This expensive content is only accessible by select institutions, creating disparities in information access even  in higher education. Additionally, this content is often impossible to obtain by community members not associated with an institution due to its price. This has created a space in which information inequity and privilege exist. 

Video 7 Transforming the Information Ecosystem highlights how, in the past two decades, institutions have reconstructed this narrative and used their power to promote inclusive access to information. Many government officials, administrators, faculty, librarians, and students are now working together to create models and incentives that both transform scholarly publishing and change the disparity dynamic to create a more equitable information ecosystem. Specifically, many institutions are embracing open scholarship practices to challenge this information inequity. At IU, we have implemented numerous open access policies and initiatives to create barrier-free information access, including:

Most recently, IUB Libraries and IUPUI Libraries, with support from the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council (WPLC), have created a Course Material Transformation Fellowship Program for instructors interested in adopting or creating affordable course materials. In addition to getting involved with any number of IU’s open access initiatives, faculty are encouraged to publish their works open access, use OA publications in their courses, and empower students to use open access materials in their assignments and research. Each of these actions will shift the unbalanced journal publishing environment mentioned in Video 5 and combat the inequalities in information access discussed in Video 6. You can find these chalk talks, along with others in the collection in IUScholarWorks. For more information about the open scholarship services available to IU affiliates, visit our website or contact us at IUSW@indiana.edu

Data & Visual Literacy and the COVID-19 Infodemic

This post was contributed by Map & Spatial Data Librarian Theresa Quill.

Scholarly and scientific information is distributed in a variety of ways.  The COVID19 pandemic has spurred a large volume of scholarly literature, but also data sharing and data visualization to track the spread of this coronavirus and the impact of efforts to combat it. Some of this information is reliable and some of it is not.

Visual Literacy and Resources Librarian Jackie Fleming and Map & Spatial Data Librarian Theresa Quill were recently published in Digital Culture and Education, discussing their efforts to combat the COVID-19 infodemic.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the evolving situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing the world. This change includes the response and mission of academic libraries. Information about COVID-19 is being published every day in both textual and visual formats. One thing that all of this information has in common is that it is easily accessible to the public. As academic librarians, we believe that it is our job to guide our community to reliable information and teach them how to receive and interpret this information.

The democratization of data visualization and mapping tools over the past decade has meant that creating and sharing visualizations is no longer limited to the realm of experts. While this trend has been overall beneficial, it has also resulted in increased visibility for (mostly unintentionally) misleading or confusing maps and charts and places a greater burden of critically reading and evaluating visualizations on the reader.

The authors say –

“As the Map & Spatial Data Librarian and, Visual Literacy and Resources Librarian at Indiana University-Bloomington, we believed that it was our responsibility to address the surge of visual information being produced daily about COVID-19 cases. We decided that the best action to take was to create a Visual Literacy & Map LibGuide that specifically addressed data visualizations tracking COVID-19 cases. This guide lists reliable data visualizations to follow, tips for reading these visualizations, and general resources for spatial and visual literacy as well as, articles addressing COVID-19 data visualizations. Because COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation, we have been periodically adding information to this guide as we find it. We felt that creating this LibGuide was a good first step in developing our campus community’s visual literacy skills in the COVID-19 crisis.”

You can view the research guide here: https://guides.libraries.indiana.edu/visualliteracyandmaps

And the full article here: https://www.digitalcultureandeducation.com/reflections-on-covid19/visual-literacy-and-maps