(#17) Google Scholar Metrics: A New Resource for Authors (and Librarians?)

Google Scholar quietly launched a new service, Google Scholar Metrics, earlier this month. Google Scholar Metrics allows users to browse a ranked list of publications in a variety of disciplines, sorted according to their h-indices.

Google Scholar envisions that authors will use the service to “consider where to publish their latest article,” and also discover resources outside of their primary field of study. (As interdisciplinary research continues to grow, the latter functionality will likely become increasingly valuable.) Resources are also categorized by language, and journals may also be searched for using non-English terms (e.g. “salud”)—albeit on a limited basis.

Since the service launched, I’ve been thinking a lot about what Google Scholar Metrics can do for librarians. The first—and most obvious—possibility is that subject librarians can use it in a way similar to authors, in order to become familiar with new resources outside of their primary area of focus. They also might use it to supplement their calculation of the potential value of new journals (and not to mention that of traditional resources), before making purchasing decisions.

Collection development and scholarly communication librarians might be able to use the service to garner support for creating or increasing the budget for their institution’s Open Access publishing fund or institutional repository. Open Access journals, such as those in the PLoS* family, are relatively well-represented in this list. And as you can see in the below screencap (Top English Language Publications), OA repositories (red arrows) rank higher than some traditional heavyweights (blue arrows) such as the Lancet, Cell, and PNAS.

What uses do you envision for Google Scholar Metrics in the realm of libraries?

Further reading:

Google starts ranking journals,” Significance Magazine

The next revolution in Science: Open Access will open new ways to measure scientific output,” Open Knowledge Foundation – @ccess

* Full disclosure: I was formerly employed by PLoS and continue to be a staunch supporter of this wonderful non-profit.

(#16) Beyond the PDF

As the Digital Publishing Librarian I am frequently asked what format a researcher should use to publish their materials in our open access institutional repository or in our open access journals.  Leaving the other mediums aside for now, I will focus only on text files for this post.

The truth is, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to best direct researchers with this question and no great answer seems readily available.  My default response is, if you want to use PDF, please use archival PDF/A-1.  In my position I recognize how important it is to authors and editors that a document look its best, but I also need to think about how to best preserve it, digitally, for a long time.  I’m not a preservationist by a long shot, but these matters still keep me up some nights.

We have experimented with a few projects that stray from the PDF.  For example, The Medieval Review uses XML to generate their articles which they supply to our repository and in turn we then transform into HTML.  We hold on to the XML files primarily because we think they could be useful to our preservation strategy.

We’ve also worked with Museum Anthropology Review (see volume 5, issues 1-2) as time and staff help permits to create HTML versions of their PDF articles using a template a crafty student created.  While these files in particular are great HTML files, they take quite a bit of time to create as I learned one Friday afternoon last month when the editor and I sat down to try to create them ourselves!

Yes, time is a large part of the crux of the problem.  Staff expertise as well.  I have inquired of these editorial practices and support for the creation of well-formed preservable articles with other library staff doing similar work and our general response boils down to this:  we’re a shoe-string shop, trying to get by and do good work without spending a lot of time and money on the format of the output and so we resort to what seems good enough and people like:  the PDF.

In our spare time, folks like me keep abreast of the the NISO Journal Article Tag Suite – Standardized Markup for Journal Articles.  We play around with Annotum, an open-source, open-process, open-access scholarly authoring and publishing platform based on WordPress which allows for the easy creation of XML-based articles.  We try to create XML templates in Microsoft Word.  If you read into these projects you may notice many of them focus on scientific publications and I thank these developers for venturing into these arenas.  Most of the publications I support to date are humanities-based and am hopeful as humanists continue to explore viable options – ones that are easy for authors, editors, and peer reviewers to use and of course, that readers like to read.  I look forward to the possibility of discussing these questions at venues such as ThatCamp Publishing 2012.

This post is just as much a call for response as it may help point others wondering about these matters to useful resources.  I thank people like Michael Fenner at PLoS and Matthew Gold at CUNY for delving into these matters as well.

(#15) Copyright as the Center of the (Scholarly Communication) Universe

Whenever people think about Scholarly Communication, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not copyright.  They might think about the rising cost of journal subscriptions or new publishing methods or even think of putting their work on the web or in an institutional repository.  And while these are all valid first thoughts, copyright is generally only thought of after the fact.  Copyright should be a lot higher on the list for consideration.  Why?  Because copyright is the center of the scholarly communication universe!  And I’m not just saying that as the intellectual property librarian.  Ok, well maybe a little.  So, why is copyright so important in the scholarly communication universe?

Under US Copyright Law (US Code, Title 17), Section 106 grants authors certain exclusive rights as soon as they put their work into a fixed, tangible medium.  Sections 107 through 122 go about setting limitations on those exclusive rights, but for now, let’s just focus on the exclusive rights.  These rights include the ability to reproduce the copyrighted work, prepare derivative works, distribute the work, and display or perform the work publicly.  An author may share their work publicly on a web page or at a meeting or in any venue on their own as a means of spreading their work.  However, many authors want to publish their research or creative activity in a book or a journal in order to share their work.

For a publisher to make this work available, they must get permission from the author in order to reproduce (make copies) and distribute (in print or electronically) the author’s work as these are, up to this point, the exclusive rights belonging to the author.  This is where publishing agreements and copyright transfer agreements come in.  Some publishers have a policy in place that says that by sending them the article you are agreeing to have it published by them.  Thus, you are giving them permission.  Some publishers require not only permission, but an exclusive transfer of the copyright to them.  The transfer is exclusive in that the right was transferred and not retained by the author.  Exclusive transfers of copyright must be in writing, so this is why it is important to read the copyright transfer agreement carefully before you sign it.  Once an author exclusively transfers these rights, the author no longer has them.  This has many implications for the author and should be carefully considered.  For example, the author would generally no longer be able to reproduce or distribute their own paper without permission from the copyright owner (who is now the publisher) or by relying on another statute such as fair use.

There are arguments why an exclusive transfer is a good thing, and also arguments as to why they are a bad thing.  I’m not going there at the moment as this is a blog post and not a dissertation (although this is getting rather long).  Let’s suffice to say that ALL publishing requires at a minimum the permission of the original author.  This fact alone is why copyright plays such a central role in the way that scholars share their work from the publishing end of things.  Copyright plays important roles in other ways that scholars do their work, not just in publishing.  Think teaching, research, and other means of scholarly discourse.  I’ll be exploring these roles in a series of blog posts the first Monday of the month because copyright is just that important!  I hope you’ll join in the discussion.

(#14) Lessons from the SPARC OA 2012 meeting, Kansas City

Recently, John Wilbanks, Fellow of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and recent Vice President of Science at Creative Commons, gave a rousing keynote address at the start of the SPARC Open Access Meeting in Kansas City (March 11-13). He made several standout points that all institutional repository managers should consider:

“We are all Veruca Salt.” We all want it NOW.

We seem to believe that scientists’ professional lives are different from their personal lives. In the age of the Kindle, it is any wonder that some scientists are frustrated with the status quo of publishing and libraries, when they can’t effortlessly sync their research across storage solutions, virtual lab benches, repositories, and journal websites as easily as they can sync their e-reader?

Wilbanks drove home the point that we need to build smarter systems immediately that are a) interoperable and b) make researchers’ work as easy as pressing a “Sync” button.

 “Data publication is not the magic answer.”

What good is data that has no context? Or raw data that has context, for that matter? Wilbanks pointed out that publishing all data, without discretion or curation, does not provide a magic answer to the problems we already have with the pace of scientific discovery (and the roadblocks that closed access publishing are thought to contribute to). We need to consider very carefully the points at which we publish data, what we choose to publish, and who edits the data that we do publish.

This has an important lesson for librarians and institutional repository managers, many of whom are currently struggling with how to create a well-formed collection development plan for their data, and how to provide services that researchers need related to data.

What is “true” Open Access?

Wilbanks and many other Open Access advocates point to the so-called “Berlin” definition of Open Access as the “true OA” standard. It is his belief that for-profit publishers have “diluted” the meaning of Open Access by applying restrictive Creative Commons licenses to papers published in their journals. Any license other than CC-BY hinders innovation, according to Wilbanks, by requiring that researchers who wish to repurpose licensed articles, data, etc, gain approval before doing so.

Wilbanks was quick to admit that “restrictive” CC licensing is often done in order to protect the commercial interests of publishers. His solution for this problem is based upon the long tail of use that research sees in its lifecycle: there’s generally a lot of interest in the first few months, but that quickly drops off. What if the license changed, based on where that research was in its life cycle (see slides 86-88)? While this is still just an idea, it is an intriguing one.

The adoption of a lifecycle approach to Open Access licensing by mainstream publishers could have a profound effect on self-archiving at IRs. No longer would we have to consult SHERPA/RoMEO to find the OA policy for an obscure journal; we could ingest items upon publication and know that after 6 months (or 1 year, etc), that embargoed item could go live. Imagine the resources and employee hours saved!

In addition to Wilbanks, there were many excellent speakers at SPARC OA 2012. For those who wish to learn more about the conference, check out these excellent Storify summaries. You can also view all presentation slide decks at SPARC’s website.

(#13) IUScholarWorks Journals

IUScholarWorks includes a service for managing and publishing IU faculty and graduate student edited journals.  If you’re interested in getting a handle on the editorial workflow process (i.e., less email in your personal inbox!) or if you’re interested in pursuing an open access publishing business model for your journal, please contact us to talk about the possibilities.

We support the OJS software platform.  OJS = Open Journal Systems and is a product of the Public Knowledge Project.  The OJS software is a robust content management system for managing the editorial work of the journal.  It includes support for author submissions – including agreement to the journal’s copyright policy, peer review – including reviewer forms, and the editorial work for sections.  At its core is a large database that keeps track of all the communications between the involved scholars as well as all the article versions produced along the way.

OJS can also publish your journal if it is based on an open access publishing model – meaning free and available to the world on the internet. OJS provides RSS feeds for tables of contents to readers and you can allow readers to make comments on the content.

Please review the journals that publish with IUScholarWorks Journals.  Please know that we can support the editorial work if you publish with another publisher.  We can also address archiving open access backfiles if a journal could benefit from such a service.  No matter what option you choose, if you partner with IUScholarWorks Journals your content will be highly discoverable by search engines – including Google Scholar, the IU Libraries along with our partners in the Digital Library Program will take measures to preserve the content for the foreseeable future, and we will provide article level use statistics that are of value to both authors and editors.

(#12) We’re Growing!

We are very happy to have two new employees join our ranks!

We are very happy to announce that Stacy Konkiel accepted the E-Science Librarian position effective January 17.  Stacy was formerly a Marketing Associate
for the Public Library of Science (PLoS) in San Francisco where she led efforts
to market PLoS journals to a wide range of international scientific communities,
and supported research and development for Article-Level Metrics and data sharing initiatives.  Prior to working for PLoS, Stacy was the Digital Repository Resident
Librarian for ScholarWorks at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  Stacy received her MLS and MIS from IU in 2008.  As the E-Science Librarian, Stacy will be responsible for working with various groups across campus to develop policies, sustainable services, and infrastructure to enable faculty and students to preserve and make available their research data.

We are also very happy to have Ryan Cobine join IUScholarWorks with a temporary half-time assignment that also began in January.  Ryan will focus his efforts and talents on staff and user training and documentation.  He is currently the VIVO Pilot Coordinator in
Library Technologies and Digital Libraries and will continue in that role at half-time. Ryan has a long history of providing excellent instructional services within UITS and other units of IU Bloomington.

Please join us in welcoming our newest members to the team.

(#11) FAR and IUScholarWorks

Have you noticed in the Faculty Annual Report (FAR), there is a check-box labeled ScholarWorks?  This check-box appears when you record your publications, creative activities, conference presentations, and even service activities.  By checking the
ScholarWorks button, you are indicating that you are interested in placing the
corresponding publication, presentation, etc. into IUScholarWorks, the digital
repository hosted by the IU Libraries (see https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/).  By placing your work in the repository, you will gain increased visibility to your research and the work will be assigned a permanent, stable URL for easy linking and dissemination.  In order for a paper, powerpoint presentation, poster, or other material to be deposited into the repository, you must own the copyright to the material or have permission to make it
available.  Note for journal publications, this often means that that the publisher’s PDF copy of the article is generally not allowed, although a pre-print version may be.  If you are interested in increasing access to your work, while having the libraries be responsible for the long-term maintenance to it, then check the ScholarWorks button when you fill out this year’s FAR.  A librarian will contact you to discuss your work and to get copies
of the work for deposit.  If you have any questions regarding this process
or about IUScholarWorks, please feel free to contact us at IUSW@indiana.edu.

 

(#10) View from the GA – A Reading on Copyright

Sherri Michaels and Jennifer Laherty have given me a series of readings about institutional repositories and the issues that affect them. I will be periodically posting my thoughts about these readings.

Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for Digitization for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, by Peter Hirtle, Emily Hudson, and Andrew T. Kenyon goes over copyright law as it affects and applies to digitization projects at libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions. This very detailed manual covers all the law’s parts and exemptions, with discussions of how they’ve changed over time. It also touches on trademark and privacy issues, especially as they apply to audio-visual materials. The text contains plenty of examples and case histories throughout, which keeps the discussions grounded in the real activities and problems of cultural institutions and their digitization projects. Hirtle, Hudson, and Kenyon have also included many tables, flowcharts, and checklists to help break down and map out the various steps and issues in dealing with copyright and permissions.
I found Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for Digitization for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums extremely illuminating and helpful. The book was very well-organized and the progression through topics and parts of copyright law was logical and elegant. It was very readable, and contained almost no legalese. The authors frame solutions and approaches to copyright issues in terms of risk and its management rather than as a series of inflexible rules. This book gave me a better and fuller understanding of what the requirements, exceptions, and pitfalls are for library digitization projects. In addition, I gained a good perspective on copyright issues in the non-profit and educational environments.

Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for Digitization for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums is available for download at http://ecommons.library.cornell.edu/handle/1813/14142.

(#9) Re-blog from The Scholarly Kitchen: The White House Calls for Information on Public Access to Publications and Data

I call your attention to this post by The Scholarly Kitchen – the blog of the Society for Scholarly Publishing: The White House Calls for Information on Public Access to Publications and Data.

It is a good distillation of the issues and questions being raised by the federal government as they grapple with how to provide open access to certain types of content, namely: “…public access to journal articles from federally-funded research, and the tricky question of how to make the most of the raw data collected in those federally-funded experiments.”

Certainly, if you care to give your thoughts, I urge you to do so.  Please see the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Request for Information.

Specifically, you can read, in the Federal Register, the RFI on public access here (comments due Jan. 2, 2012) and the RFI on digital data here (comments due Jan. 12, 2012).

(#8) Teaching Scholarly Communication

I’ll be on research leave most of November to explore ways to teach and discuss scholarly communication issues with graduate students.  My plan is to develop a workshop that could be delivered in 2-4 hours with the help and support of colleagues such as academic department graduate student advisors, subject librarians, and staff in the IUScholarWorks department.

I will be working to develop lesson plans and exercises that will focus the workshop discussions on the following interconnected scholarly communication issues:

  • budgets
  • libraries
  • author rights
  • open access
  • labor
  • versions
  • digital content
  • preservation

The ultimate goal is to inform students about these issues and give them some tools to help them guide their path forward as authors.  They will have many decisions to make as they progress as researchers in their respective fields and I feel it is important that librarians be a part of their education on these matters.

I will also conduct a literature review and will refer to various projects being led by library colleagues around the United States who are developing similar approaches to teaching scholarly communications to students.

Please look for a progress report I will make in December, and I hope to see you in one of our future workshops.