Evolutions in Scholarship

FYS: Nature, Environments, and Place in American Thought

Friday, April 11, 2014 10:25 am

For the Spring 2014 semester, Chelcie Rowell worked with Lisa Blee (Assistant Professor in the Department of History) to incorporate a digital exhibit and interactive map into the first year seminar, Nature, Environments, and Place in American Thought. Over the course of the semester, students in this course will develop place studies and photo essays that critically examine relationships between nature and the built environment in a particular location. This digital exhibit and mapping project is being implemented using Omeka and Neatline and is supported by ZSR’s Technology Team, with whom Chelcie liaises on Lisa’s behalf.

Chelcie and Lisa met throughout Fall 2013 in order to envision how a digital exhibit and interactive map would support the learning outcomes of the course, as well as how the platforms of Omeka and Neatline would structure the place studies and photo essays that students would create. During Spring 2014, Chelcie will provide multiple instruction sessions in the course in order to demonstrate how to use Omeka and Neatline and will be available to meet one-on-one with students. At the end of the semester, Lisa and Chelcie will present about their collaboration in a Spring 2014 series of presentations sponsored by Wake Forest’s Digital Humanities Initiative.

Humanities for the Environment

Friday, April 11, 2014 10:25 am

In August 2013 David Phillips (Associate Professor of Humanities) invited Chelcie to join the Web Team of the Humanities for the Environment project funded by the Mellon Foundation. The Humanities for the Environment project is animated by questions about the role of the humanities in the Age of the Anthropocene, a concept developed by scientist Paul Crutzen to identify a new era in which human activity is significantly reshaping the geological future of the planet. A major outcome of the project will be a portal that provides Web access to materials that engage questions related to the humanities and the environment in the Age of the Anthropocene — from syllabi and photographs to visualizations of ecological data. Chelcie’s role has been to consult about metadata as well as copyright and long-term preservation of materials contributed to the Humanities for the Environment portal. After the conclusion of the project, a selection of materials from the Web portal may be transferred to WakeSpace, the institutional repository of Wake Forest University.

Public access to funded research gets a big boost

Friday, January 17, 2014 2:27 pm

When the U.S. Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 this week, it included language tucked away in Sec. 527 that gives a huge boost to public access to Federally funded research. The bill requires all Federal agencies with research & development budgets of $100 million+ each year to provide free, online access to peer-reviewed articles stemming from Federal funds within 12 months of publication. The agencies impacted include the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services (which includes the National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other sub-agencies), and the Department of Labor. (more…)

Big win for fair use

Thursday, November 14, 2013 4:45 pm

This morning brought good news to Google, libraries, and all of us who rely on fair use: Google Books, and the scanning project to create it, is a fair use! U.S. District Judge Denny Chin issued a decision in the 8-year legal battle between the Authors Guild and Google, with Google being the decisive winner. Judge Chin specifically noted that the libraries who partnered with Google to have their holdings scanned for the Google Books corpus may also make use of those scans (the libraries got their own local copies of their scanned volumes, which is where the backbone of HathiTrust evolved). And because there was a decision rather than a settlement, it creates opportunities for others to make similar uses by looking to this ruling for guidance. Although the Authors Guild has expressed its intent to appeal (frustrating, but not surprising; it is also appealing last year’s summary judgement in its separate case against HathiTrust), this is yet another big win in the fair use column!

For more:
Ars Technica
New York Times

Myth-busting and a 6-year disembargo

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 10:27 am

Interesting news stories and projects usually come to light during Open Access Week, and this year proves no exception. I’ve seen libraries around the country host panels of faculty researchers, organize workshops for faculty and graduate students, offer outreach events for undergraduates, and post photos of displays demonstrating the true costs of accessing research. Lots of exciting engagement!

This morning, I call attention to two items that have caught my eye this week. The first is an article by Peter Suber, published on Monday in The Guardian. In his piece, Suber deconstructs 6 myths about open access. Those 6 myths are:

  1. The only way to provide open access to peer-reviewed journal articles is to publish in open access journals.
  2. All or most open access journals charge publication feesl
  3. Most author-side fees are paid by the authors themselves.
  4. Publishing in a conventional journal closes the door on making the same work open access.
  5. Open access journals are intrinsically low in quality.
  6. Open access mandates infringe academic freedom.

I strongly encourage you to go read the article, as Suber’s myth-busting is spot on.

The second item you should check out is Mark Sample’s Disembargo project. Sample is releasing from embargo his dissertation, one character at a time, over the course of 6 years. Earlier this year, the American Historical Association issued a statement strongly encouraging graduate students in history to embargo their dissertations for up to 6 years, claiming evidence – apparently, only anecdotal – that dissertations with shorter embargoes are less likely to be published as books, as publishers consider openly-available dissertations to be previously published. Many, including Sample, found this advice to be off the mark. As Sample explains in his ProfHacker blog post about his project, “Disembargo is an open access dissertation (my own), emerging from a self-imposed six-year embargo, one letter at a time. Every ten minutes Disembargo releases a single character—a letter, number, or space—from my final dissertation manuscript.” Sample goes on to share the questions that ran through his mind as he create his Disembargo project: “How does an academic embargo play out? Who benefits from an embargoed dissertation? How much value does withheld research accrue? And how long is six years when it comes to scholarly communication? To at least this last question Disembargo provides a satisfying answer: publishing six letters an hour is an excruciating pace that dramatizes the silence of a six-year embargo.” Indeed.

Take time to look at both of these items. Then mull over the implications of keeping research locked down and out-of-sight, thinking not of the challenges in changing the scholarly communication system as we now know it, but rather of the risks in not doing so.

Open Access Week 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013 8:50 am

ZSR Library is celebrating the sixth international Open Access Week, October 21-27, with three events to engage our campus community around this year’s theme, “Redefining Impact.”

Join us:
- Monday, Oct. 21 at 12pm for an informal, brown bag lunch conversation with colleagues. Ask questions about open access, and hear what others have to share.

- Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 4pm for a presentation on Altmetrics and Scholarly Impact, which will compare the emerging area of altmetrics with traditional impact measures (e.g., the Journal Impact Factor, Eigenfactor), and explore how altmetrics may be used.

- Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 2pm for an online discussion with Dr. Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Office of Scholarly Communications and the Harvard Open Access Project, who is an internationally-recognized leader of the open access movement.

Faculty, graduate students, research support staff, and undergraduate students are all encouraged to attend. For additional information about these events, or about open access generally, contact Molly Keener, Scholarly Communication Librarian.

Taking the sting out of the “sting”

Monday, October 7, 2013 4:34 pm

Did you hear the story last Friday on NPR’s Morning Edition about open access (OA) journals and peer review? About the OA “sting” from Science, “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?” Yeah. The “sting” has angered many OA advocates, me included, and has generated many responses; several of note are linked below.

In the admittedly few responses I’ve had a chance to read now that I’m back in the office (oh, why must such stories break when I’m on vacation?!), most focus on methodological flaws, including no control group, which are important to call out. DOAJ’s response calls attention to its recent work to clarify and tighten its criteria for inclusion. But what I’ve yet to see are a breakdown of numbers that show just how small a percentage of journals listed in DOAJ are actually “proven” negligent by this effort. If you only heard the NPR piece, then you’ll know that seemingly-big numbers of OA journals apparently don’t do peer review: 157, oh my! But what both the NPR interview and Science article fail to do is to put those numbers in useful context. 157 sounds big if you’re talking dollars, but not so big if you’re talking pennies. When it comes to the number of OA journals, this “sting” is counting change, not bills.

As reported in the article, 187 journals of the 304 identified to receive the fake paper were listed in DOAJ as of 2 Oct 2012 (167 in DOAJ, 121 in Beall’s list, 16 in both). That accounts for only 2.27% of all DOAJ journals on that date (the article notes there were 8250 titles in DOAJ). In the results, the real researcher behind the fake paper, John Bohannon, notes that 157 accepted the paper, but he does not continue to give DOAJ/Beall’s list/both breakdowns in the text of the article at this point. Of those 157, we don’t know how many are in DOAJ without digging into his data (which, frankly, given that I know how small a percentage we’re talking about, I’m not going to expend energy doing); all we know is that “for DOAJ publishers that completed the review process, 45% accepted the bogus paper.” But apparently only “106 journals discernibly performed any review.” From the article, we don’t know how many of that 106 were DOAJ titles, so that 45% sounds bigger and badder than it may be. Generously presuming all 106 were DOAJ titles, then 48 DOAJ journals appear to have faulty peer review. Those 48 journals account for a mere 0.58% of all DOAJ titles a year ago; as of last Friday, when DOAJ had 9948 journals, that’s only 0.48%. Turns out, the numbers are available: from a graphic in the article, it shows that 35 journals in DOAJ apparently accepted the paper without any peer review; 38 performed some level of peer review and still accepted the fake paper. So 73 journals in DOAJ have peer review problems. That’s a mere 0.88% of all DOAJ titles a year ago; as of last Friday, when DOAJ had 9948 titles, that’s only 0.73%. That’s not good, but it’s also not alarmist.

But even if all 157 journals (now, 158, per the author’s NPR interview Friday morning) that accepted the fake paper were DOAJ titles (again, I’m being intentionally generous), that’s still only 1.58% of all current DOAJ titles. I daresay in the traditional publishing realm, there are more than 1.58% of print journals that would be “proven” to have shoddy-to-no peer review, too.

Oh, and the journal behind this “sting,” Science? Yeah, it published the discredited and widely-maligned arsenic DNA paper in 2011, which slipped through its own peer review process (h/t, Michael Eisen’s response below). That lessens the sting a bit, doesn’t it?

Finally, a few final quibbles – and one concession – with the NPR piece, as that was my first introduction to the controversy, as it was for many:

  • The total number of journals listed in DOAJ was never noted, so the numbers context above was lost on the audience (and it’s murky enough in the actual article);
  • At no point in the interview it is mentioned that journals owned by Sage, Elsevier, and Wolters Kluwer – big name publishers of primarily traditional journals – were among the 157 accepting the fake paper; and,
  • To be fair, Bohannon did make a clear effort not to malign all OA journals while discussion his “sting,” which I appreciate, but unfortunately, most researchers who’ve been resistant to OA likely only half-heard that defense.

As Bohannon rightly pointed out during his NPR interview, we do need to identify disreputable publishers who are taking advantage of the low-to-no capital needed to launch an e-journal using the OA article processing fee model, who through negligence are casting OA publishing in poor light. But more than that, we need to address issues in the peer review process for all journals.

Responses worth reading:

Updated 8 Oct 2013 to correct numbers above, and to link to the following, many of which unpack the flawed “methodology” behind the “sting”:

Wake Forest supports FASTR access to research

Monday, September 30, 2013 11:21 am

On Friday, September 27, 2013, Provost Rogan Kersh made a public commitment to Wake Forest University’s ongoing support of open access by signing the “Open Letter to the Higher Education Community,” in support of the proposed Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) bill. FASTR, introduced to both the House and Senate in February with bipartisan support, seeks to ensure that Federal agencies with $100 million+ of annual extramural research funding make the outcomes of taxpayer-funded research openly, publicly available. FASTR builds upon the success of the National Institutes of Health’s Public Access Policy, the first U.S. public access policy enacted in 2008, and compliments the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s February 2013 memorandum directing Federal agencies with $100 million+ annual R&D budgets to provide public access to publications and data, plans for which were submitted by agencies last month.

Provost Kersh’s signature is the latest in a series of public commitments made by Wake Forest Provosts to encouraging broader open access to research, building on former Interim Provost Mark Welker’s signing of the Berlin Declaration in November 2011, and former Provost Jill Tiefenthaler’s signature of a similar letter supporting the Federal Research Public Access Act, the earlier iteration of the FASTR legislation, in May 2010. While Congress’s energies are currently focused on the looming midnight deadline to halt a government shutdown, hope remains that once we are past this current showdown, strong bipartisan support of FASTR will continue to grow, boosted by the support of institutions across the academic community. Proudly, Wake Forest is once again among them.

Fair use infographic

Friday, August 23, 2013 3:19 pm

Do you love infographics? Do you love fair use? Do you love libraries? Then you’re going to love the new infographic from ARL, American University’s (AU) Washington College of Law, and AU’s School of Communication about the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries. You can find the full-size PDF and 8.5×11″ PDF files here.

Impact of impact

Monday, July 8, 2013 2:08 pm

If you’ve been around the scholarly journal publishing scene, either as an author or a librarian, you’ve likely heard talk of impact. Often, that’s impact with a big “I” – the Journal Impact Factor. Published annually each June by Thomson Reuters, the impact factor is a metric that ranks journals by the average number of citations to articles published in that journal in the preceding two years. Researchers look to it when identifying top journals in their field. Librarians look to it when making collection decisions. P&T review committees look to it when assessing journal quality and influence.

The 2012 impact factors were recently announced, and one journal in particular saw a precipitous 16% drop in its impact score from 2011 to 2012. The journal? PLoS ONE. Now, PLoS ONE is a revolutionary journal, and not just because it is open access. It is a massive, multidisciplinary, rapid peer-reviewed journal that has been making waves since 2006. It publishes tens of thousands of articles a year, and its early success – its impact – is only serving to increase annual publication rates. As one blogger explains, the fall in PLoS ONE’s impact factor is the victim in PLoS ONE’s own success.

But is it a victim? Notice that when I quickly explained the impact factor above, I noted that it is a metric, not the metric. Too often, impact factors are (mis)used as an evaluative tool to quickly assess a journal’s influence, and by extension, the presumed influence of an author’s article/research. But it only counts citation rates, and citations can be gamed. Citations also aren’t the only measure of impact, as not every use of an article will be cited in a formal publication. What about articles that get blogged? Tweeted? Facebooked? Picked up by news media? Shared by patient advocacy groups? Incorporated into classroom teaching? How are those legitimate impacts being measured? Not by impact factors, that’s for sure.

Enter altmetrics. Recognizing that the scholarly ecosystem has evolved beyond paper-based journal publication and citation to include online tools for discovering, indexing, and sharing influential articles, altmetrics “reflect the broad, rapid impact of scholarship in this burgeoning ecosystem.” ImpactStory and Plum Analytics are two altmetrics tools to aid researchers in assessing the broader, richer impact of their research. I don’t know much about either one, yet, but what I do know is exciting! In the coming months, I’ll be exploring altmetrics in greater detail, and expect to share what I learn with you here. Stay tuned!


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