Outsourcing Editing? Part I

I recently tweeted a question:

The question came to me after resurfacing from several intense months in the editorial office, where my team and I had been working at a fever pitch to complete an array of challenging publishing tasks: We produced two very demanding issues of our flagship publication Transcultural Studies, developed the content for Heidelberg University’s first MOOC, built the workflows and much of the website for heiUP, the university’s open access publishing house, which will be launched this fall. There were workshops and courses, conferences, one book series to be set up and another to be maintained, manuscripts to be edited, layouts to be created, reviews to be written, funding to be considered, not to forget business models to be tested.

Particularly the latter brings up the issue of whether editing academic manuscripts is necessary and affordable. While I firmly believe that good editing is at the core of good publishing (as I have argued elsewhere), the fact that most publishers, open access or for-profit, offer little of it, is irrefutable. (See for example the recent article by Lorenz M. Hilty “What do academic publishers still offer?”). But if publishers do not engage with the content they publish, how can they produce quality?

Hence my tweet. However, as I lifted my head above the parapet to survey the academic publishing landscape, I noticed that something was slightly different. It seems there has been a recent increase in the number of editing companies offering to plug the hole in the publishing workflow where in-house editing once took place.

This development is interesting insofar as it suggests that the need to secure quality control remains undiminished, while the financial responsibility for ensuring it is being thrown around like a hot potato. Many publishers let their authors pay for editing, either to maximise their profit or because they cannot stem the costs. The rationale is often peculiar: they may be shouting “we are the biggest,” or “most ethical,” or “most prestigious” publisher, but do not wish to pay what it costs to ensure those claims amount to more than posturing. So the solution is to saddle the authors with the bill. Some funding bodies may help cover some of the costs, if that kind of quality control is part of an APC for an open access publication for example, but if an author needs their manuscript edited, even after it was accepted for publication, chances are they have to pay for it out of pocket.

There are some exceptions: initiatives like Language Science Press or The International Journal of Dream Research recruit the community of a discipline into the production of their output. Then there are models where some editing is done on campus by students who are schooled and employed as assistants by the institution’s publishing branch, like Athabasca University Press. Heidelberg University is investigating this latter possibility, too. Last, but by no means least, it will be very interesting to see how The Open Library of the Humanities will fare with their new model. Most manuscripts, however, are edited during countless unpaid hours invested by journal editors, researchers, colleagues, and students.

Enter the editing companies. They make big promises, such as “quick turnaround,” “editors with university degrees,” “seasoned editors,” “guaranteed quality,” and feature countless exuberant, 5-star reviews along with impressive lists of customer names. That sounds amazing, not just to the lone author who is trying to get her book or article into the best possible state, but also to those managing journals, book series, or small publishing ventures, who consider outsourcing this aspect of quality control.

Editing, particularly copy-editing, is hard, time-consuming, at times soul-destroying work, so for those of us, who have some budgetary wiggling room, the often reasonably priced offers promised by these companies are a welcome option in a world where publishers no longer assume, or even give a damn about, the responsibility of editorial quality. It so happens that developing a sustainable business model falls within my remit as managing editor, which means I will find out more.

Starting this week in Hall 4.2 at the 2015 Frankfurt Bookfair, I am contacting some of these companies to see what kind of offers I receive. My sample will be a projected turnaround of several books and 4-6 journal issues that need editing work of various depth: from thorough copy-edits (including non-Latin script materials, bibliographies, and the like) to quick proof-reading.

I will analyse editing samples, engage in price negotiations, and discuss delivery times to form an opinion about whether editing companies can be trusted with some of our workload in the future.

I also hope to get input from colleagues and you about experiences with outsourcing editing, so I can place my results in a wider context. Once I have numbers, samples and feedback, I will write Part Two. Should be informative. Stay tuned!

Twitter Open Access Report – 24 September 2015

In Diamond Open Access Gets Real, Glyn Moody looks at how an overlay journal solves the cost issue that bedevils Gold open access, using the example of a new Diamond open access journal called Discrete Analysis: the online journal posts links to and descriptions of relevant arXiv.org preprints, after subjecting them to peer review.
Source: @rickypo

Stevan Harnad has an overview of where we are on the road to universal Open Access. In a nutshell, more institutions need to adopt better OA mandates.  The book is called Optimizing Open Access Policy.
Source: @SAHJournal

Awhile back I wrote about a Max Planck institute study that showed that the money circulating in the pay-to-publish system would be enough to transition the whole kit and caboodle to OA. Jan Velterop asks: if that’s true, why hasn’t the transition happened? It’s a very good question, and the answer seems to be that while switching to OA would be cost-neutral on a global or national scale, it wouldn’t be at the institutional level – some institutions would have to pay a lot more, and few want to be the first to make the leap. Read the whole post for more detail.

Björn Brembs takes up this subject in Many Symptoms, One Disease, concluding that collective action is necessary to take a public good from private hands, but the tricky bit is how to organize it.
Source: @brembs

Meanwhile, a group of German academics called the Ad Hoc Working Group Open Access Gold have put together a position paper to outline what exactly would be required to make the transition from the subscription model to Open Access. Here is a summary, and the paper is here (pdf).

Richard Poynder has an interview with BioMed Central founder Vitek Tracz to talk about F1000.com, an open science publishing and peer-review platform with which Tracz hopes to address the problems with the current model of academic publishing.
Source: @RickyPo

PLOS ONE has increased its APC by over 10% – this is the first increase since 2009, and they say it is in response to increasing costs. Read the update here.
Source: @RickyPo

The EC will hold a workshop in Brussels in October on new models of open access publishing. Details and registration here.

The Wellcome Trust funded an international study on behalf of the Public Health Research Data Forum to determine the key elements of good data-sharing practice.  The four most important elements were:

  • assessing the value and benefits of data sharing
  • minimising risks of harm and safeguarding the privacy and confidentiality of research participants,
  • promoting fairness and reciprocity,
  • instilling trust and trustworthiness among participants, communities, researchers and the wider public.

The Trust’s blog post has more detail, but it’s still pretty superficial, with no information on how to put these abstract principles into practice. However, the Forum has also put together a website, published a paper, and put out a special issue of the Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, and set up an online course, so there is more information to be found.
Source:  @AmandaClay

An editorial at Computerworld.com argues for Congressional action to enshrine the steps the Obama administration has taken toward open data in the United States. Most of the changes were the result of executive orders, which could be reversed when there’s a new chief executive in 2017, unless Congress passes legislation to make them stick.
Source: @computerworld

GreenBiz.com has an article on the recent growth of the open data movement, with  a summary of some of the open data initiatives implemented by cities worldwide. It’s a fascinating glimpse at the future, and raises some very good questions about which data cities choose to reveal, and what they conceal.

The Huffington Post has an article about how open data can help reach the UN’s next set of Sustainable Development Goals.

An infographic from the OECD (pdf) shows that putting computers in the classroom hasn’t improved student achievement, though it doesn’t have a lot to say about how those computers were used; there’s no reason to suppose that simply placing a computer in a classroom will improve outcomes. It’s safe to assume that traditional models of education will have to change to accommodate computers, but it may be too soon to say what form those changes will take. That might be a good subject for further study.

Inside Higher Ed has a story on another MOOC-based Freshman Year alternative. The Modern States Education Alliance, originally founded to accredit non-traditional education providers, has developed a program called Freshman Year for Free, which will create MOOCs designed to enable students to test out of freshman-level university courses. The MOOCs will be free, though there is still a fee to take a placement test.

We all know that learning by doing is more effective than passively absorbing information, but a new study seems to show just how much more effective it is. The article’s headline  rather misleadingly claims that Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative courses are six times more effective than MOOCs , and show lower dropout rates as well, but in fact the comparison is between MOOCs alone and MOOCs combined with ODI. The story is here, and the study can be accessed here.

Russia has launched a new online educational platform called Open Education (in Russian), designed to offer MOOCs to college students. Eight Russian universities are collaborating on the project, and other institutions will be able to join after 2016. In an article at Russia-Direct.org, Artem Kureev wonders if this is not an attempt to protect Russian students from Western influence.

The Harvard Business Review has a comprehensive report on “Who’s Benefiting from MOOCs, and Why“. Their study shows that even though MOOC users are mostly already-educated and already-employed residents of developed countries, students of lower socioeconomic status and lower education levels are also reporting tangible career benefits. Maybe not a revolution, but a step forward all the same.

In academic writing  news, 20 PhD students wrote dumbed-down summaries of their theses. Every dissertator should have to do this.
Source:  @Protohedgehog


The #africaopendata conference took place in the first week of September, and some of the presentations can be downloaded here.

Tampere, Finland hosted a 3-day forum on the future of open source, open data, and open content from 22.-24 September. Today is the last day, but you can follow them at @MindTrek_. The program is here.

Registration is open now for the Online, Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference in Hagen, 29-30 October. Here is the program.
Source: @OpenEduEU

Twitter Open Access Report – 14 September 2015

Michael Eisen is “shocked to see @wikipedia working hand-in-hand with Elsevier to populate encylopedia w/links people cannot access”. Indeed, it does seem rather opposite to everything Wikipedia stands for. The Elsevier article is here.
Source: @mbeisen

Europe’s Open Data Incubator (ODINE) has announced the first startups to receive development awards, including Sickly, which produced an app that tracks the spread of infectious disease among children, and InSymbio, an online portal that will link companies that produce bio-leftovers to companies that can make use of them. Read all about it. ODINE is still accepting proposals; interested startups can register at http://opendataincubator.eu/.

Joel Gurin has a summary of a World Bank policy paper that shows how open data is making for better medical care, more effective farming, better urban planning, and economic growth.  Read it here or check out the policy paper itself (pdf).
Source: @OpenDataRD

Now here’s an interesting development: EdX now has a GROOC – a MOOC for groups, rather than individuals – called Social Learning for Social Impact, about how to collaborate to promote social change.

A post on Class Central uses Learning Analytics to examine high MOOC drop-out rates, and observes that week 4 seems to be the critical point. The writers suggest shorter courses, recognition of intermediate steps, and using suspense to reduce the number of drop-outs. More details here.

Recent Conferences

The fifth PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference took place in Vancouver from August 11-14th. Videos from the conference are now up on the Program page, and Adrian Stanley has a recap of the conference up at Digital Science. Check out #PKP5 on Twitter for more on the conference.
Source: @digitalsci

The Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers held their annual conference from 9-11 September this year. Their blog has some good summaries of the panels, including one on revenue streams and another on peer review, and you can follow participants’ reactions on Twitter at #alpsp15.

The Association for Learning Technology’s annual conference ran from 8-10 September. Here is the program. Check out #altc on Twitter for links to conference reports and blog posts as they come up.

Open Access Tage Zürich was held from 7-8 September. The program page has links to abstracts and presentations for some of the talks (most of them in German).

The 19th International Conference on Electronic Publishing took place in Malta from 1-3 September. Proceedings can be found here: looks like some very interesting stuff on citizen science and open access, among other things.

Upcoming Conferences

The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association’s annual conference will be held this week from 15-17 September in Amsterdam. Here’s a look at their preliminary program, and the Twitter hashtag is #COASP.

The 32nd Österreichischer Bibliothekartag (Austrian Librarians’ Day) will also take place this week in Vienna from 15-18 September. Check out the program here, and keep an eye on #oebt15 for frequent updates.

The 2016 Open Education Global Conference will take place in Krakow next April; the theme is “Convergence through Collaboration”. Check out the call for papers here. The deadline is 16 November.

Twitter Open Access Report – 26 June 2015

Björn Brembs has some stinging words for publishers in the ongoing discussion about open access, ultimately calling for an end to subscriptions now. Read his thoughts here.
Source: @brembs

Here is a nice roundup of average publishing costs in Gold Open Access journals from American Libraries Magazine.
Source: @amlibraries

Amber Griffiths at [foam] points out that making scholarly publications Open Access is only a first step. Paywalls and subscriptions are not the only obstacles to public access to scholarly work; people also need to be able to understand what they’re reading. [foam] put together a mini workshop and came up with a few suggestions.
Source: @_foam

Green Open Access sure sounds like a good idea, but getting academics to deposit their papers has been a stumbling block, even with mandates in place. Turns out, when libraries solicit manuscripts directly from authors, they’re more likely to comply. Maybe they just weren’t getting around to it?
Source: @LSEImpactBlog

Coventry University hosted a Radical Open Access Conference on 15th & 16th June. Looking forward to the videos! Here’s a cool Storify of the event while we wait.
Source: @RadicalOA

Marie Lebert has put together a useful and fascinating chronology of the open access movement, from 1665 to the present.
Source: @RickyPo

Juan Pablo Alperin (@juancommander) of the PKP has a dissertation filed in the Stanford Digital Repository (Congratulations Juan!). It’s on the public impact of Open Access in Latin America, and shows that traditional scholarly use accounts for only 25% of the total use of research that was published open access. The link is here.
Source: @RickyPo

Here’s an overview of the progress on open access journals in Latin America, courtesy of SciELO. International and interoperable, it definitely looks like a model to emulate.
Source: @Euroscientist

South Africa’s Mail & Guardian has an editorial on how open data can support the work of the courts, arguing that making court documents public will bolster the public’s faith in the judiciary. “Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.” A similar movement is afoot in the U.S. state of Massachusetts.

A post on the Thompson Reuters Foundation’s website argues that we need to focus more on how open data can combat poverty and corruption. While a lot of work has been done on wholesale data harvesting, we need to think more about how we’re going to use it. Current results are long on anecdote, short on data. Read the whole thing here.
Source: @TR_Foundation

On a related note, participants at last month’s International Open Data Conference in Ottawa discussed ways in which open data can help us meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Lejla Sadiku summarizes their findings here, to wit: 1) greater participation is needed from the public; 2) The interfaces and tools at hand are not apolitical, and this needs to be taken into account; 3) It’s important to define the policy issues we want to address, and then look at the data through that lens.

Liam Earney of @JISC talks about what they’re doing to offset the costs of publishing in open access. Read it here.
Source: @HEFCE

Richard Poynder (@RickyPo) has a post on the probable effect of the big name publishers’ efforts to involve themselves in Open Access publishing. Overall, he’s not a fan:

“This is surely the long game publishers are playing: appropriate gold OA in a way that preserves their profits, while simultaneously seek to appropriate green OA in order to control it, and then gradually phase it out, thus ensuring a transition to a pay-to-publish environment that best suits their needs, and at a cost based on their asking price.”

Source: @jeroenson

The Atlantic finds an unanticipated benefit to MOOCs in the results of that Harvard/MIT study from back in April – as you’ll no doubt recall, the study found that a surprising number of participants were teachers. The Atlantic article notes that professional development courses for teachers, handed down from on high, are generally seen as a waste of taxpayers’ money and teachers’ time. But what if teachers could choose their own professional development courses? Enter the MOOC.

Educause Review has an article on how the social aspect of higher education is missing from most MOOCs, and how they might be improved by adding more opportunities for interaction such as meet-ups in the real world, Google hangouts, and opportunities to form groups based on shared learning objectives. Other ideas include getting students to act as citizen scientists, and using games like Civilization V and the Total War series to get students more engaged in the content. The article is longish, but definitely worth the time.
Source: @laurapasquini

Recent Conferences

In the last post, I listed the wrong hashtag for the CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication, which took place last week in Geneva. The correct hashtag is #OAI9. The OpenAIRE blog has a list of take-aways here, and of course you can keep an eye on the hashtag for more summaries and reflections. There’s a searchable Twitter archive here, and a nifty interactive visualization here. See anyone you know?
Source: @mhawksey

The video proceedings from the European Commission’s conference last week, Opening Up to an Era of Innovation, can be accessed from this page.

The LIBER conference is just winding up, and the #LIBER2015 hashtag has been particularly entertaining these last few days.

Twitter Open Access Report – 11 June 2014

Martin Eve (@martin_eve) discusses the relative merits of switching subscription journals to open access, as well as gold OA journals, with and without APCs, here.

Mike Taylor sketches some possible futures of gold versus green open access scholarly publishing, concluding with a plea to avoid in-fighting in the OA movement. The important point is not whether access is green or gold, but whether it’s open or closed. Read it here.

Panthea Lee at Reboot observes that we risk getting too bogged down in the technical details of making Open Data a reality, without clarifying the big political questions, like what kind of change do we want to see, and how will opening up data bring about that change? Read it here.

FIFA’s been in the news lately for a corruption scandal that was decades in the making. Here’s a look at how Open Data might prevent future such incidents, courtesy of the Open Data Institute.

The Center for Open Data has launched an interactive impact map to map open data use cases around the world. It has a lot of great examples of exactly how open data can provide economic growth and social benefits.

The European Commission has a pilot project to finance gold OA publication for certain projects, working through OpenAIRE. The policy guidelines are here, and there will also be a workshop to provide further information for interested applicants, on 24 June at the LIBER conference in London.

The Scholarly Kitchen has a nice roundup of the SSP Annual Meeting from multiple viewpoints.
Source: @scholarlykitchn

University College London has launched the UK’s first fully open access university press. Publications will be freely available in digital format, and commercially available in print and e-book formats. Check out the press release here.

Johns Hopkins University has a Mellon Foundation grant to develop a means of distributing open access monographs, called Project Muse. Read the press release here.
Source: @KUnlatched

NYU also has a grant from the Mellon Foundation, this one to develop infrastructure to create a new kind of open access monograph. The Enhanced Networked Monograph will feature new workflows for the creation of monographs, and new ways for readers to interact with the texts. Details here.

Meanwhile, in public education, the State of New York put up a library of academic materials to help state educators meet Common Core standards, and the materials have been downloaded over 20 million times, by users across and even outside of the United States. The public demand for open education resources is clearly strong and growing. Read all about it here.

The eLearning Africa Report 2015 is available for download here, with loads of information on how technology is driving education and development all over the continent.
Source: @eLAconference

The Washington Post has another piece on the folly of treating a college education like a commodity. “Yet most public discussion of higher ed today pretends that students simply receive an education from colleges the way a person walks out of Best Buy with a television.” This is an important contribution to a debate that desperately needs to be reframed.
Source: @scholarlykitchn

The last post mentioned the EMOOCs Stakeholders Summit that took place last month. You can now listen to podcasts of some of the talks here.

PhD coach Olga Degtyareva has a 40-minute interview on how to beat procrastination and stick to a writing routine, here.

Recent Conferences

The 3rd International Open Data Conference took place in Ottawa at the end of last month, and had a lot of really interesting outcomes. Their homepage has some great links to recaps, and you can follow #IODC15 on the homepage, as well as on Twitter.

The Open Data Science Conference took place in Boston immediately after the Ottawa conference. The slides are available from their homepage, and you can find links to podcasts and recaps at #ODSC.

The 10th International Conference on Open Repositories will wrap up today in Indianapolis. Follow #OR2015 for the latest.

Upcoming Conferences

The CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication will take place in Zürich next week, 17-19 June. Follow developments at #OAI92015 and on the event homepage.

The European Commission will hold a conference on 22-23 June in Brussels on Opening Up to an Era of Innovation, which will address infrastructure for open science, among other things. The program is here.

London will host the LIBER Conference from 24-26 June. You can follow the excitement at @LIBEReurope and the conference homepage.

Early registration is now open for the 7th  Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing, which will take place in Amsterdam, 15-17 September. The conference page is here, the registration page is here.

Twitter Open Access Report – 21 May 2015

The Hague Declaration, signed by over 50 organizations, calls for changes to intellectual property laws to open up access to data. SPARC Europe has a brief notice and links to further information here, as well as an invitation to sign the declaration.

Richard Poynder (@RickyPo) has an interview with John Willinsky (@JohnWillinsky), including a great deal of background information to place his contributions in context. It’s a fascinating read, and the link to the .pdf is here.

OpenAIRE2020 has launched a pilot project in cooperation with Liber to set up a €4 million fund to cover the publication costs for research articles meeting certain criteria. Though it currently only covers journal articles, if the project is successful we can hope for a similar initiative for monographs. More information here.
Source: @JVLazarus

We don’t report on every new OA journal that launches (because there are so many lately, yay!), but Social Media + Society is an emerging field that may be of particular interest to our particular community. Follow them at @SocialMedia_Soc

The Open Data movement is creating some very interesting opportunities for journalists and publishers in Africa. The Media Online has a few examples of innovative data use here.

The Open Data Research network is conducting a long-term, multi-country study on the impact of open data in developing countries. More detailed information is here, and an article at phys.org has a few examples, here.

Dorothy Bishop of the Wellcome Trust has a proposal in the Guardian for an alternative approach to publishing scientific articles. She envisions a cooperative model based on open access and collaboration. Details here.
Source: @SPARC_EU

COAR has released a statement against Elsevier’s new sharing and hosting policy, asserting that it does the opposite of what it claims. Inside Higher Ed has more detail on the matter.

In an interview with Fortune magazine, Coursera’s CEO says Colleges Will Survive the Online Education Revolution. It’s an interesting look at the differences between the online and the on-site experience, with some nuanced and realistic assessments of where we’ll probably go from here.

On the other hand, maybe it isn’t MOOCs that will kill the university system. The Open Library of Humanities has a very interesting CfP on The Abolition of the University. Details here.
Source: @martin_eve

Katy Jordan has collected data on MOOC completion rates plotted against other variables such as total enrollment, length of course, and grading policy. Check it out here.
Source: @ayeshaasifkhan

The Australian National University has collected a list of resources for graduate students that looks really useful, here.
Source: @gemma_s_king

Recent and Upcoming Conferences

The EMOOCS 2015 conference just ended, and the proceedings are already available for download on the conference website. Follow the #eMOOCs2015 hashtag for first impressions, and stay tuned for conference reports. In the meantime, you can read Inge Ignatia de Waard’s (@ignatia)liveblog of the keynote here, in which Dave Cormier talks about “rhizomatic learning” – a model of education as the roots of a plant, which can grow in any direction without defined boundaries.

The next OpenCon Community Call will be on Wednesday, 27th May, at 4pm CET. Information on how to join the call can be found here.

The 3rd International Open Data Conference is happening next week in Ottawa, Canada. The conference page is here. Registration is now closed, but following the #IODC hashtag on the 28th and 29th should be interesting.

Another conference will take place on the same weekend in Warsaw: Open Research Data: Implications for Science and Society. The website is here.

Two days later, Boston Massachusetts will host the Open Data Science Conference. It looks like a busy weekend, with 72 presentations and 21 workshops. The program can be found here, and the hashtag to follow is #ODSC.

The 10th International Conference on Open Repositories will take place from 8th-11th June in Indianapolis, Indiana. The full program is available here, and you can follow the conference at @OR2015Indy.

Twitter Open Access Report – 7 May 2015

A recent study by the Max Planck Digital Library recommends redirecting the money now locked in the scientific journal subscription system toward an open access model, and shows that it could be done without incuring any further costs. The abstract is here, and the whole document is here (pdf). Björn Brembs has some serious reservations here.
Source: @maxplanckpress

Could #opendata solve the problem of global food security? The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative thinks it’s worth a try. Read about it here.

The Inter-American Development Bank has launched an open data portal where anyone can access raw data on education, labor markets, gender participation, among other things, for Latin America and the Caribbean.  The portal is here.

The European University Association has an Open Access Checklist for Universities. Nice to have all the relevant information in a single document, here.

The OLH and Jisc have formed a collaboration that will make the transition to open access easier. More information here 

OAPEN UK hosted a series of workshops last month to look at various business models for open access monographs. The outcome of these workshops is posted here, including an overview of the various models, the strengths and weaknesses of each, and a list of attendees.
Source: @oapenuk

Members of Science Europe adopted four common principles on open access publisher services at their General Assembly meeting on April 15th. The four new principles are 1) indexing in the DOAJ, Web of Science, Scopus, or PubMed; 2) the author retains copyright with no restrictions; 3) publications must be sustainably archived; and 4) the full text, metadata, supporting data, citations, and publication status must be machiine-readable. Details here.
Source: @CameronNeylon

Academia.edu has a paper on The Emergent Learning Model, written for the 11th International Scientific Conference eLearning and Software for Education. Fred Garnett and Nigel Ecclesfield contrast the resource scarcity in which our current formal and hierarchical institutional model of education developed, with the resource abundance brought about by the advent of the web, and the informal social processes of learning that it engenders. They discuss a framework for integrating the new possibilities for learning into the existing educational model, arguing that current strategies have had too much old and not enough new.

In the last update I mentioned a project to develop a model for co-operative higher education in the UK. If you’re interested in participating, an invitation is here.
Source: @josswinn

Der Spiegel reports that the German Federal Court of Justice has given university libraries the right to digitize their inventory, in order to make it available to all students. Read the article here (in German).

A New York Times article makes a strong case for post-secondary education as a public utility in College for the Masses
Source: @paulbacharach

…while an article in Slate outlines the dangers of applying neoliberal economic models to public utilities in A Good Professor Is an Exhausted Professor.
Source: @paulbacharach

A Times Higher Education (THE) study has found that the cost of developing a MOOC varies widely across institutions, which is to be expected at this point in their evolution. Details here.
Source: @timeshighered

Arizona State University is offering students the opportunity to bypass the usual admissions process and complete their freshman year via MOOC, in cooperation with EdX. There’s been lots of discussion around this. The US News report keeps it neutral, Wall Street Journal looks a bit more supportive, and the New York Times also seems fairly hopeful, but John Warner over at Inside Higher Ed calls ASU a super-predator. The Brookings Institution calls it a boon for students and a blow to traditional universities, which certainly raises the question of who the universities are supposed to be “for”. 

A report (.pdf) commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the past and present state of distance and online learning observes that the sweeping predictions of the Death of the University at the hands of upstart MOOCs were perhaps a bit overwrought, and MOOCs are really just another way to learn

Cambridge University Press is launching an open access monograph publishing service, with support for both Gold and Green models. More here.
Source: @Paperity

ScienceOpen introduces peer review by endorsement, featuring non-anonymous, open, expert, post-publication peer review to answer some of the faults in the current process. Read the announcement here.
Source: @Science_Open

Recent Conferences

The ACRL’s conference last month is still producing some read-worthy tweets under the #acrl15 hashtag. You can watch Lawrence Lessig’s keynote speech, and if you’re not in Germany, you can watch the wrap-up video too. There’s also a good write-up on the Library Journal site.

The Royal Society held a symposium on the Future of Scholarly Scientific Communication (Part 1) on the 20th & 21st of April to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Scholarly Transactions, the first science journal. Follow the #FSSC hashtag for a lot of interesting discussion. There will be a Part 2 on 5-6 May.

Global Young Faculty held a conference on Open Knowledge and the potential of digital publishing in academia on 27 April in Essen. The conference page is here,  and #gyf3ok hashtag has been busy lately.


Twitter Open Access Report – 16 April 2015

In “Social Sector Knowledge Sharing: A Manifesto for 2015 and Beyond”, Lisa Brooks notes that the open  access ethos is nothing new for the social sector, though it has been somewhat haphazardly applied. Her “starter manifesto” advocates a more systematic approach to sharing and publishing information. Check it out here.
Source: @MarketsForGood

Nature has a review of the UK’s progress toward open access, noting that it’s currently difficult to track RCUK-funded papers, so it’s hard to know if authors are complying or not. There are also questions about the cost, and about the sustainability of the gold model. Read the article here.
Source: @NatureNews

At Recht.nl, Leo van der Wees argues that the Dutch Open Access mandate needs more teeth. At the moment it only applies to articles, and the details are unclear and therefore easy for authors to ignore. Unless the mandate is strengthened, it will have no effect at all. His full argument can be read here (in Dutch).

Two professors at the University of Regina have written a book, “Free Knowledge: Confronting the Commodification of Human Discovery”. You can purchase a hard copy or download a free PDF here.
Source: @openatvt

An opinion piece by Justin Podur argues that universities are experiencing a kind of mission creep as administrators take on more functions. Their focus on income streams and market forces lead them to make decisions that are not in line with the central purpose of a university, which is to create, develop, and share knowledge.  Read it here.
Source: @RethinkingUni

The Social Science Centre in Lincoln is launching a year-long research project to develop a model for a co-operative university in the UK, including pedagogical approaches, business plans, constitutional rules, and a model for federation. The project starts this month, and will wrap up in March of next year. More detailed information here.
Source: @martin_eve

Over at Publishers Weekly, marketing expert David Vinjamuri argues that libraries and publishers should forget their rivalry and work together. Particularly when brick-and-mortar bookshops are disappearing, libraries still have the space to showcase new books. Read more here.
Source: @ApostropheBooks

A group of academic editors have resigned from the editorial board at Scientific Reports, in protest at its new paid-for fast-track peer review option. Their concern is that it will create a two-tier system that disadvantages certain fields and researchers from poorer institutions and/or countries, and that it will be unable to ensure scientific neutrality. Scientists wishing to sign in support of this letter can do so here.
Source: @kaveh1000

Daniel R. Shanahan of BioMed Central has a proposal for an entirely new model of publication for research articles. Technological innovations now make it possible to replace the current model of multiple publications appearing in multiple journals with a single evolving document. The abstract is available here, and the full version will be available shortly.
Source: @Science_Open

A report on the ALA site looks at how academics resort to ethically dodgy P2P sharing of scholarly material because the Interlibrary Loan system is proving inadequate. Read the whole thing here (PDF).

@Impactioneers hosted its first #MOOChour, “the ultimate Twitter chat on anything MOOCs” on April 14th. Follow the hashtag to see the conversation.
Source:  @jimangei

Anant Agarwal has an article on LinkedIn about the future of MOOCs. Up to now, the mission has been to scale education up, make it more widely available. The next step is to make MOOCs more personal, for instance by creating smaller groups within a class to collaborate on projects, or by applying the “Choose Your Own Adventure” model used by video games to create adaptive and personalized responses to individual students. The article, along with three short video interviews, can be found here.
Source: @Impactioneers

Here is a link to a report on the results of a survey on MOOCs in Europe. It shows that MOOC use is still increasing , but that Europe’s cultural and regulatory diversity presents different challenges than those that face MOOCs in the U.S. The site also links to a collection of 15 position papers for European cooperation on MOOCs.
Source: @tore

A fair few opinion pieces have pointed to the low completion rates as a sign of the failure of the MOOC model, but is that really a valid measure of a MOOC’s success? As part of the OER15 panel on MOOCs and OERs, Open Education Europa invites the public to weigh in on this assumption in the comments here.
Source: @OpenEduEU

April’s European MOOCs Scoreboard inlcudes more than 1250 courses! It shows that MOOCs are becoming more popular, especially in Spain and Britain. Check it out here.
Source: @OpenEduEU

Umberto Eco’s “How to Write a Thesis” has finally been published in English. The LSE has a book review here. The New Yorker’s review is here.
Source: @jetpack/@newyorker

The Guardian lists 15 top tips for finishing your Ph.D thesis, from people who’ve been there and done that.
Source: @GdnHigherEd

For people just starting their thesis, Harvard University has some advice here (PDF).
Source: @ANU_RSAT

Recent conferences

Library Journal’s roundup of last month’s Association of College and Research Libraries conference (#acrl2015) is here.

Scholastica has a roundup of the Library Publishing Forum (#LPForumhere.

Adam Smith has some reflections on #uksg15 here.

The OER15 conference wrapped up yesterday. The #oer15 hashtag should be busy over the next few days.

The SPARC_COAR conference is happening now! Check the conference page for a link to the conference live stream. The hashtag to follow is #coarsparc2015.

Today is the last day of the London Book Fair. There’s a great video feed on the Book Fair homepage, and loads to see at #LBF15.

Twitter Open Access Report – 2 April 2015

The Guardian has an article about a percieved “war” against the Humanities in British Universities, with arguments that could be applied to other countries as well. The essential problem is that austerity-obsessed government officials are unable to see the value of something that can’t be monetized. Read it here.

Knowledge Exchange has looked at the reasons some researchers share their data, and what obstacles they overcame, in hopes of finding ways to motivate more of their colleagues to do the same. They conclude that funding bodies can help make it worthwhile for the more reluctant researchers to share. Find a summary here.
Source: @Jisc

A science librarian argues that the panic over “predatory” open access journals focuses on the limited problems caused by a few bad actors, and we’d do better to focus on bigger issues, like the faults in the peer review process. She also points out that the big commercial journal publishers may deserve the “predator” label more than the few bogus OA journals floating around. Read the article here.
Source: @RickyPo

Nick Brown has some reservations about the funding model of Open Access Journals, particularly that it pushes the cost of publishing from the reader to the author, creating doubts about quality control, and that it doesn’t address the flaws in the current peer review system. He also worries that the line between legitimate and “spam” OA journals will blur, as the former see a financial reward for accepting dodgy research, while the latter improve their phishing techniques. Read his blog post here.
Source: @eacorrao

Should reviewers of academic journals be paid, and if so, how? They generally do the work for free, despite the massive profits drawn by the publishers, but Publons and Collabra are looking at ways to pay their reviewers. Ulrich Herb discusses their approach in “(Wie) sollen Gutachter wissenschaftlicher Journale entlohnt werden?” Read it here.
Source: @scinoptica

Nikolai Slavov suggests that we can solve the peer review problem in academic publishing by making peer reviews publicly available. Read his blog post here.
Source: @eacorrao

The Academic Book of the Future is a two-year project funded by the AHRC, in which a cross-disciplinary team will look at new developments in academic practices and expectations for the monograph. Details here, website here, blog here, and they have a Twitter handle too: @AcBookFuture. The project’s capstone will be Academic Book Week (follow at #AcBookWeek) taking place in November across the UK.
Source: @eacorrao

The New York Times has an article on a perhaps unexpected benefit of MOOCs: “Free Online Courses Keep Retirees in the Know”. Read it here.

Are MOOCs the long-awaited revolution in higher education? In a speech at the Open Polytechnic Kuratini Tuwhera, Sir John Daniel argues that it is an evolution, not a revolution, but it still needs to be managed. He uses the model of a triangle balancing quality, access, and cost: changing one side will affect the other sides in ways we might not appreciate, but technology offers the opportunity to increase access while reducing costs, without reducing quality. Watch his talk here.
Source: @paulbacharach

Open Education Europa invites interested parties to participate in a panel on “MOOCs and OERs for Web Talent” at the upcoming Open Education Conference (OER15), by contributing to an online discussion beforehand. A description of the panel and link to the invitation to contribute can be found here.
Source: @OpenEduEU

Harvard and MIT have conducted a study on MOOCs which indicates that participation is growing steadily. The study also showed that people who opted for the paid-for certificate were more likely to finish the course, and that a surprisingly high number of participants were teachers. Details and implications can be found here.
Source: @seyitayo

Lots of useful things in the Acwri Weekly, read it here.
Source: @Acwri

Recent Conferences

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) held its conference from 25-28 March in Portland, Oregon. The program is here, and the hashtag is #acrl15.

The Library Publishing Forum took place 29-30 March at Portland State University in Oregon with keynote speakers @martin_eve and @JohnWillinsky.  The program can be found here, and the hastag is #LPForum.

UKSG held their annual conference in Glasgow from 30 March to 1 April.  More information, including how to access the video recordings of the sessions, is here. You can also follow them on Twitter with the hashtag #uksg15.

Upcoming Conferences

This year’s Open Education Conference, titled ‘Mainstreaming Open Education’, will take place on 14th & 15th April in Cardiff, Wales.  The conference web page is here, and the #OER15 hashtag is up and running.

A conference titled “Open Access to Research: Understanding Policy, Preparing for the Future” will take place on 15th April in London.  It will focus on the costs of making research open, and the funding available. More information here.

The joint COAR-SPARC conference, “Connecting Research Results, Bridging Communities, Opening Scholarship”  will take place in Porto, Portugal on 15th & 16th April. The program is here.


Twitter Open Access Report – 19 March 2015

UNESCO’s Open Access curriculum is now online! Check it out here.
Source: @NestoriSyynimaa

LERU (The League of European Research Universities) embraces Open Access, calls for fundamental change in the finances of journal publishing. More here.
Source: @eacorrao

The FASTR Act, a push to ensure permanent public access to publicly funded scientific research, was reintroduced in the U.S. Congress. More here.
Source: @OpenAccessHulk

In “Copyright, Open Access, and Human Rights”, Kevin Smith of Duke University analyzes a report, prepared by Farida Shaheed for the UN, which asserts that access to science and culture is a fundamental human right, and that current intellectual property legislation should be limited in scope so as not to contravene this right. More here.
Source: @martin_eve

The benefits of open access are limited where internet access is restricted. Zimbabwe’s TelOne is moving to expand ADSL coverage to the whole country. More here.
Source: @VenturesAfrica

OpenAIRE is looking into open peer review to address some of the problems with the current model. Details here.
Source: @OpenAIRE_eu

SPARC Europe has launched an Open Access Diary to track news and developments in open access throughout Europe. More here.
Source: @oatp

Time Magazine joins the legions of people asking, Will Technology Kill Universities? A number of experts answer the question here. (Spoiler: probably not.)
Source: @RickyPo

“We’re still in the first phase of the education revolution.” The Future of the Collegiate Campus, here.
Source: @Nathan_Bee

Some Upcoming Conferences

A conference in Warsaw this May will look at Open Research Data: Implications for Science and Society. The call for papers closes March 31st. Details here.

SUNY Brockport will host a one-day conference on Publishing in Libraries on Friday, 20 March. The conference schedule is here.

The Westminster Higher Education Forum, with support from Elsevier, will hold a one-day conference on The Future for Open Access and the Move Towards Open Data in London on Thursday, 26 March. More information can be found here.

The Library Publishing Coalition will hold its second annual Library Publishing Forum at Portland State University from 29-30 March. The keynote speakers will be Martin Paul Eve and John Willinsky. The program is here, and you can follow the action with the hashtag #LPForum.