Jenseits von Infrastruktur. Neue Aufgabengebiete für Bibliotheken in der akademischen Publikationslandschaft

We built much of the infrastructure to publish academic content digitally and in open access. What are the next steps?

Dieser Post ging aus einem Vortrag für die Jahresversammlung der AG Informationskompetenz Schweiz hervor, die unter dem Titel “Publikationsdienste in Bibliotheken – was, wann, für wen?” am 25. September 2017 in Bern stattfand.

Ich habe das große Glück, dass ich seit einigen Jahren als Chef vom Dienst und Mädchen für alles im Publikationsbüro des Heidelberger Exzellenzclusters Asien und Europa direkt an der Schnittstelle zwischen Autoren, Technik, Bibliothek, Open Access und Verlagen sitze und somit einen guten Eindruck davon bekomme, welche Herausforderungen und Möglichkeiten sich für alle Beteiligten in der sich rapide ändernden wissenschaftlichen Kommunikationslandschaft ergeben.
Die meisten Fragen, die an mich gerichtet werden, haben entweder mit akademischem Schreiben auf Englisch zu tun (was ich seit vielen Jahre unterrichte) oder sie betreffen unsere Publikationsinstrumente, die wir seit 2009 am Cluster „Asien und Europa“ aufgebaut haben: unsere elektronische Zeitschrift Transcultural Studies, unsere Buchserie bei Springer, die seit 2010 erscheint, und eine neue Open Access Gold Buchserie, die wir im 2015 gegründeten Universitätsverlag heiUP publizieren. Während ersteres ein klassisches Beispiel ist für eine Kooperation von UB und Wissenschaftlern, die eine neue Zeitschrift auf OJS auflegen möchten, suchten wir für die erste Buchserie von Anfang an eine flexible Open Access Lösung mit einem renommierten Verlagshaus.
Wir entschieden uns für Springer, denn 2010 war dieser Verlag (wie in mancher Hinsicht bis heute) unter den führenden was Open Access betraf. Der Weg den wir  vereinbarten (dies war noch einige Jahre vor Springer Open anlief) erlaubt es uns die Bücher nach fünf bzw. vier Jahren Embargozeit als PDFs auf unserer Webseite zum Download freizugeben. Das ist eine eher ungewöhnliche Vereinbarung, die so vermutlich auch nicht ewig weiterlaufen wird, aber es erlaubt uns die Inhalte unserer Buchprojekte noch innerhalb der Laufzeit frei zugänglich zu machen.
Das dritte Publikationsinstrument entstand vor drei Jahren im Zuge eines Pilotprojekts, das die bereits angesprochene Gründung des Open Access Verlages heiUP unterfütterte: eine zweite Buchserie, diesmal komplett im Open Access Gold. Aufbauend auf die Arbeitsabläufe, Kooperationen und Erfahrungswerte, die wir in der Entwicklung und Produktion des E-Journals und der Springer Serie gesammelt hatten, wagten wir in einer engen Zusammenarbeit mit der Uni Bibliothek den Schritt in die Produktion von Open Access Gold Büchern vor Ort. Wir haben es bei diesem Projekt nicht nur geschafft Open Access Bücher ins Netz zu stellen und einen Universitätsverlag zu gründen, sondern auch zur Infrastruktur des Publikationsprozesses beizutragen: zum einen durch die Entwicklung eines XML-basierten Produktionsprozesses und zum anderen durch eine innovative Darstellung der HTMLs. Die Ergebnisse sind Open Source, das Projekt ist abgeschlossen, die Buchserie ist angelaufen, der Verlag ist gegründet und auf das zweidimensionale Interface bin ich besonders stolz.

Nun gibt es ja die weitläufige Vorstellung: if you build it they will come und wenn man sich die Bauwut betrachtet, mit der wir und zahlreiche andere findige Leute in den letzten Jahren digitale Instrumente und Werkzeuge rund um die akademische Kommunikation geschaffen haben, dann sollte man meinen, dass die verschiedenen Kommunikationsabläufe jetzt – weil leicht zu handhaben – akzeptiert und weit verbreitet sein müssten. Die Wirklichkeit sieht aber nach wie vor anders aus.

Es ist trotz aller Entwicklungen immer noch so, dass viele Wissenschaftler unengagiert und bisweilen sogar uninformiert sind über die Möglichkeiten, die ihnen offenstehen und über die Herausforderungen, die sie meistern müssen um international konkurrieren zu können. Dazu gehören Open Access und die Nutzung digitaler Werkzeuge ebenso, wie die nicht unerhebliche Hürde des Schreibens in einer anderen Sprache für einen Publikationsmarkt mit fremden Gepflogenheiten. VIelen Wissenschaftlern ist einfach nicht bekannt, was in der akademischen Kommunikationslandschaft passiert, welche Mechanismen dort zugange sind und was mit den Inhalten geschieht, die dort abgebildet werden.

Das hat verschiedene Gründe: Der wichtigste Faktor ist nach wie vor das Prestige-Gefüge in der Wissenschaft, aber auch der Zeitmangel spielt eine Rolle und vor allen Dingen der Mangel an Kommunikation – nicht nur was die Überzeugungsarbeit zum Publizieren im Open Access betrifft, sondern auch die Wahrung der eigenen Interessen. Gerade Jungforscher haben oftmals keine Ahnung was sie in Vertragsverhandlungen beachten sollten; es geht eher darum in einem relativ namhaften Verlag zu veröffentlichen, egal wie und zu welchen Konditionen, damit die für die nächste Bewerbung wichtige Zeile auf dem Lebenslauf steht.

Quelle: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/04/whos-downloading-pirated-papers-everyone

Das Ignorieren der Umstände, die Forschungskommunikation ermöglichen, fängt jedoch schon viel früher im wissenschaftlichen Kreislauf an, man denke zum Beispiel an Sci Hub.  Die Zugriffszahlen sind enorm, dabei sind sich viele im Wissenschaftsbetrieb nicht darüber im Klaren, wie prekär dieser „schwarze Open Access“ ist. Die politische Situation dieses Guerilla-Unterfangens ist alles andere als einfach und damit gibt es so gut wie keine Garantie auf Zugriff, Nachhaltigkeit, oder Langzeitarchivierung. Das ist allerdings zweitrangig, denn – egal wie fatalistisch es sein mag – es geht den Usern vor allem darum einfach und schnell auf Material zugreifen zu können.

Der Wandel der Kommunikationslandschaft und die Rolle der Bibliotheken

Tom Friedman Up in the Air (2009-2010), Tom Friedman Studio, CC-BY-SA

Es wäre aber völlig falsch, das Problem allein bei den Forschern zu suchen; es wurzelt nämlich viel tiefer. Der enorme Wandel in der wissenschaftlichen Kommunikation betrifft alle, die in diesem Metier zugange sind – ob sie dies nun wollen oder nicht. Dabei ist es durch die schnelle Veränderung keinem der Beteiligten möglich, eine auch nur mittelfristige Strategie festzulegen. Waren z.B. noch vor zwei, drei Jahren die großen Verlagshäuser damit beschäftigt eine Open Access Strategie zu entwickeln, oder im Fall der ganz Tüchtigen, eine Open Access Strategie festzuzurren, so sehen wir heute wie sich große Häuser wegbewegen von den Erstpublikationen und sich neu fokussieren auf Infrastrukturen und Daten.

Wir befinden uns also in einem dynamischen System, in dem sich alle Vorzeichen und Annahmen immer wieder ändern. Trotzdem kann man sagen, dass Open Access mittlerweile soweit ist, dass viele infrastrukturelle Anforderungen überwunden sind: es gibt viele technische Instrumente, mit denen man die verschiedensten Publikations- und Kommunikationsprozesse bewerkstelligen kann. Es geht jetzt darum, Verbindungen zu schaffen zwischen Technik, Fachcommunities, Förderungseinrichtungen und der weiteren Gesellschaft. Kurzum, es ist wert einen Versuch der Stabilisierung zu starten. Und dieser Versuch geht am sinnvollsten von den Bibliotheken aus.

Wollen sie jedoch nicht nur Knotenpunkt der akademischen Informationsverwaltung sein, sondern zum Fanal für alle Beteiligten in der Wissensproduktion avancieren, dann müssen Bibliotheken zunächst zwei Aufgabengebiete abdecken. Beide liegen jenseits der Infrastruktur: es gilt kluge Angebote zu entwickeln, die die Entwicklungen in den Campus hineintragen und eine durchschlagende Kommunikationsstrategie, die das ermöglicht. Man sieht bereits  Bibliotheken, die diesen Weg beschreiten. Ein Beispiel ist die Anpassung der Personalstrategie, wie man an folgenden Stellenausschreibungen sieht.

Personelle Veränderungen. SFU Vancouver Stellenausschreibung vom August 2017

Personelle Veränderungen. SUB Göttingen Stellenausschreibung vom September 2017

Personelle Veränderungen. TIB Hannover Stellenausschreibung September 2017

Angebote wie diese sind wichtig. Allerdings reichen sie nicht wirklich aus, um den Wandel zu ankern. Aus der Fragmentierung der Wissenschaftslandschaft sind nämlich große Probleme in der Kommunikation und der Kollaboration erwachsen. Wir arbeiten, gerade in Deutschland, in einer Struktur, die oftmals Brückenschläge und Verknüpfungen erschwert, gerade wenn es um die Autonomie in der Beurteilung, Erstellung und Bewertung von Inhalten geht. Ein Beispiel: als wir vor einigen Jahren einen Schreibservice in Kooperation mit der Graduiertenakademie für auf englisch verfasste Dissertationen ins Leben riefen, bekamen wir unerwartet starken Gegenwind von einem Professor aus dem STEM Bereich, der sich regelrecht empörte über die Anmaßung unsererseits, auf irgendeine Art in die Inhalte seiner StudentInnen eingreifen zu wollen.

Petrus Spronk, Architectural Fragments, Photograph by Alan Levine, CC-BY-SA

Mit dem Angebot alleine ist es also nicht getan: Kurse, Dienste und die dazugehörigen Stellen sind nur ein logischer zweiter Schritt, der auf die bereits erfolgte Erstellung des technischen Instrumentariums folgt. Der dritte Schritt wird der wirklich große: wir brauchen ein konzertiertes Herangehen an die Kommunikation, das in vieler Hinsicht einen Sinnes- bzw. Kulturwandel auf dem ganzen Kampus erfordern wird. Dazu ist viel guter Wille erforderlich. Für die nötige Überzeugungs- und Aufklärungsarbeit brauchen die Bibliotheken hier Rückhalt nicht nur von Wissenschaftlern, sondern auch – und das ist ganz zentral – von der Hochschulleitung und der Politik.

Das wird eine formidable Aufgabe, denn bei unserem Thema geht es nicht so sehr um Forschungs- oder Lehrinhalte, sondern um ein Metathema, das seit Jahrzehnten zersplittert und oftmals hinter vordergründigen Inhalten verschwunden ist: das Handwerk des Schreibens, der Vorgang der Publikation und, vor allen Dingen, die Räson hinter beidem. Dieses Thema gilt es neu zu entdecken und beherzt anzugehen und zwar nicht nur auf institutioneller, sondern auch auf höheren wissenschaftspolitischen Ebenen. Wenn sich auch hier einiges in den letzten Jahren getan hat, so führt bis zum Abschluss des Wandels in der wissenschaftlichen Kommunikationslandschaft gewiss noch ein langer, verschlungener und steiler Weg.

Aber fahrende Scholasten schreckt das ja nicht. Also, wie man so schön auf Russisch sagt: Вперед!

The Dust Still Hasn’t Settled. Reading the Results from Science Europe and Global Research Council Surveys

Last month Science Europe published a survey report on Open Access Publishing Policies in its Member Organisations. Based on two surveys conducted in 2012 and 2014 respectively it casts light on the progress – or lack thereof – in the implementation of #OA across the disciplines.
The data for the report is based exclusively on information provided by Research Funding Organisations and Research Performing Organizations who participated in both surveys. While methodologically this is a sound decision, it considerably limits the representative value of the exercise. A glance at the participants shows that most information was culled from (Western) Europe. With the exception of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, Eastern Europe is absent from the survey. Considering that the 2014 survey was of global scope, the reach of the results shrinks even more.
Nevertheless, it is a step in the right direction. Considering the ongoing fluctuation of the publishing landscape, the breakneck speed of technical developments, and the recent political upheavals that may yet play a role in the further pursuit of transnational open access to research, it is helpful and encouraging to see the first steps toward an overview coming from the very organisations who, in my opinion, hold the key to the success of the transition.
The report conveys a sense of direction and awareness of pressing issues, such as supporting new initiatives or establishing technical standards, which are crucial in the steps ahead. On the other hand, it also becomes clear that the mills do grind very slowly indeed: there is little more than encouragement and suggestion – we are still a far cry from a pan-European (leave alone international) Open Access Policy with bite.

Outsourcing Editing? Part II

Last fall, I wrote about the financial challenges of quality copy editing. The post grew out of having to develop a new editing workflow and a sustainable business model for our local publications. My plan was, as I wrote in October, to pursue contracts with some of our long-time freelancers and one or two additional providers. They arranged for a series of editing samples that tackled an excerpt from one of our typical texts. The quality was good and the price seemed fair but while we were negotiating, my erstwhile strategy was overtaken by developments within the university administration, which made outsourcing a lot more complicated.

With this change of administrative goalposts came the realization that we would have to produce Issue 2/2015 of our e-journal Transcultural Studies completely in-house because we would not be able to reorganize the outsourcing workflow in time for publication. It was only the second time we had to handle everything from submission to publication without the assistance of a freelancer. However, we did well: When we went live just before Christmas it had become evident that our team, consisting of two copy-editors, one layout-specialist and two assistants (all on part-time student assistant contracts except for one copy-editor who holds a 50% editorial assistant position), had grown enough to accomplish the production (read: from copy-edit to publication) of a book-length project (130 and 289 pages respectively) in about seven weeks. This includes two rounds of changes by the authors, as well as the production of pdfs (InDesign) and an html version.

After some internal discussions with the powers that be, we decided to shelve all negotiations with freelancers and instead test our internal workflow further with a larger manuscript. The project that became our next guinea pig contains some 25 essays of varying length and uneven linguistic quality, written—like most of our submissions—in English by non-native speakers. In short, this project was several times the size of the e-journal issue we had just tackled.

The task really stretched our capacities: First, we learned that our project management needs fine-tuning. There were redundancies due to oversights and varying competencies. We format according to the Chicago Manual of Style and some team members are more familiar with it than others, which translated into repeated rounds of checking. This is no big deal for an essay or two, but when there are two dozen essays to edit, this can consume many hours. Further developing copy-editing skills is therefore high on our agenda.

Second, there are divergent approaches to editing within the team. Some edit with a more pedagogical bent because they usually deal with student papers. Others come from a publishing background and approach problem solving in a more fait accompli way. The former may tell the author the nature of their mistakes, while the latter offer a take-it-or-leave-it alternative formulation instead. Both approaches have their merits and we will have to find an editing style that combines the best of both without prolonging the overall publication process.

Last but not least, we grappled with the question of how perfect a manuscript can get before it goes into layout. It is part of a good editor’s skill set to know when to let go and come to terms with the fact that no manuscript will ever be flawless. All editors have to weigh between production costs and perfect formulation and formatting. In all my years on the job, I have never been in a win-win situation when it comes to this. Something always has to give. How much that is or when the right time has come to let go is something that as a team we have to agree on.

In the end we took too many hours for the copy-edit. It would have been undoubtedly cheaper to outsource the task to a freelancer for a fixed price. But I consider the difference as an investment. As we hone our skills, we will get better and faster and thus more cost-effective. Since the next excellence initiative is around the corner and the tremendous challenges of publishing competitive English-language output in the humanities and social sciences by non-native authors is unlikely to go away, an experienced resident editing team will be able to offer indispensable support not only to in-house  publication projects, but also to resident scholars who wish to place their work with high-profile international publishing houses.

We received the next book manuscript a couple of weeks ago for copy-edit. Let’s see how much we have improved. Part three on this topic will follow.

 

Twitter Open Access Report – 21 January 2016

PLOS has an interview with John Willinsky on where open access publishing is headed, a very interesting update from a pioneer in the field. You can listen to the “PLOScast” (heh) here.

It’s the Netherlands’ turn to head up the EU Council, and it looks like they’ve hit the ground running: Education Minister Sander Dekker is using the opportunity to push for wider implementation of open access in scientific journals, and a conference on Open Science is scheduled for early April. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bert Koenders is challenging app developers to come up with ways to make better use of open data. But wait, there’s more! Should be an interesting six months.

Can open data solve some of the PR problems that have plagued police forces in the United States have had recently? Seattle’s City Council is pushing its police department to open access to their data on civilian complaints and discipline. They hope this will cut the costs associated with disclosure requests, and increase police accountability. The Stranger has the story here.
Source: @RickyPo

The Guardian reports that ODINE, the Open Data Incubator Europe, has announced its next round of startup grant recipients, including, among others, an Austrian effort to increase public access to legal information; a Finnish app that will tell you whether your roof wants solar panels; and a German initiative to clean up city air – a timely idea, since the city of Stuttgart has an air pollution alert in effect this week.

Another Guardian article (also sponsored by ODINE) sees open data having a profound effect on activism and charity in the coming year. Governments will start to see data as infrastructure, journalists and charities will make better use of data to hold governments accountable, activists will start working to fill the gaps, data literacy will come to be regarded as a basic skill, and technology will race to keep up with the changes.

The peer review process has come under scrutiny lately, with some arguing that the process needs to be more transparent. Some like-minded academics have now launched the Peer Reviewers Openness Initiative: put simply, the Initiative asks that “reviewers make open practices a pre-condition for more comprehensive review.” You can read more about it and add your name here.
Source: @SciPubLab

A Canadian site has an interesting post on How Open and Free Content Will Transform Post-Secondary Education, which lays out the reasons for and implications of open educational resources and points out that we are in the middle of a massive paradigm shift. I kind of knew that, but it is good to be reminded.
Source: @RickyPo

A white paper on MOOCs (in German) asks whether MOOCs are hype or helpful, and concludes that they won’t revolutionize education, but they will become increasingly important, and schools should engage with them or risk being sidelined. You can read a more detailed summary or download the paper from here.
Source: @ayeshaasifkhan

The Conversation has an editorial suggesting that teaching students to write better would help them avoid plagiarism. I’d say it has a great many benefits other than that, but sure: if that’s what it takes to persuade more universities to teach students how to write, rather than assuming they’ll bring that skill to college with them, then let’s focus on that aspect. Whatever gets them in the door.
Source: @ConversationUK

Recent Conferences

Knowledge Exchange celebrated their 10-year anniversary in Helsinki on 30 November and 1 December last year. Here is a two-part Storify: Part 1. Part 2. And #KEevent15 has some good follow-up Tweets as well.

The last two days have seen some interesting Tweets from Academic Publishing in Europe’s 2016 conference in Berlin. All presentations were recorded and should be up soon, so follow #APE2016 on Twitter for the latest.

Twitter Open Access Report – 16 November 2015

The big news of the past few weeks has been the mass resignation of Lingua’s editorial staff. They’re leaving Elsevier over the latter’s refusal to convert the journal to open access, and plan to launch their own OA journal, which they will call Glossa. Ars Technica has the story, as does Inside Higher Ed and a host of other outlets. Here’s a nice roundup from Kai von Fintel.
Source: @RickyPo

We mentioned an EC workshop on Alternative Open Access Publishing Models in the last Report. You can now download all the presentations from that workshop from the EC website, here.
Source: @DigitalAgendaEU

While information wants to be free, the work of disseminating it does carry some costs. The Chronicle of Higher Education has a look at what the real costs of publishing are, and how open access publishers try to cover them. Read it here.
Source: @chronicle

Two Reports ago, we talked about what would be needed to make the leap to Open Access en masse. Martin Haspelmath (@haspelmathhas an idea: high-profile research institutions like the Max Planck Institute and the Wellcome Trust could create and fund their own journals; well-run journals with solid peer review practices would increase the prestige of the institutions, and running these enterprises as a public good rather than a profit-machine would free up money for research.
Source: @RickyPo

Sofie Wennström of the Stockholm University Library has a summary of the #AlterOA workshop and a call for higher-level support for sustainable OA. Read it here.
Source: @SofieWennstrom

The Open Access Spectrum Evaluation Tool ranks journals on their openness, and you can filter your search by different aspects such as reuse rights, machine readability, etc. Very useful when you’re deciding where to submit your article.
Source: @ayeshaasifkhan

Here’s a storify of Open Access Week tweets.
Source: @nxtstop1

Martin Tisne has a post on why Open Data is necessary at the Open Government Partnership Blog, wherein he points out, among other things, that it can be used to hold goverments to account. Medium.com has a very interesting case in point: a white paper about how Open Data helped uncover corruption in Myanmar’s jade industry.

A post on Yorokobu.es notes that MOOCs only have a 7% completion rate, and the headline offers some solutions for retaining them, though the article itself has more to say about predicting which users will drop out. The author does not stop to wonder why it’s so important that students complete the course, or whose priorities are being served when they do.

Tech Crunch has a more nuanced take on the once-popular notion that MOOCs would destroy the university system. As colleges become prohibitively expensive, the college degree will lose its status as the only qualification worth having, and MOOCs will be ready to step in and fill the gap – so, more of an end-run than a head-on collision.
Source: @TechCrunch

Martin Ebner has a presentation on where MOOCs are headed at the TU Graz’s e-learning blog (in German, but easy enough to follow even if you’re not fluent). Check it out here.
Source: @mebner

In an article in The Atlantic, Victoria Clayton wonders why academic writing is so unnecessarily complex. She blames elitism and tradition, as well as the disconnect between academics and the public, but notes that current moves toward Open Access might force academics to write more accessibly – after all, what is the point of making your work available to the public if they can’t understand it?

Twitter Open Access Report – 19 October 2015

A Dutch initiative called LingOA has launched, in which the editorial boards of five linguistics journals have begun the process of leaving their publishers or renegotiating their agreements in order to publish with Ubiquity Press in association with the Open Library of Humanities. Here is the press release from the University of Nijmegen.

Times Higher Education has an infographic showing that universities’ journal bills are rising due to the need to pay APCs for open access publications – because subscription charges are not going down, the APCs are currently an added cost. The headline seems to imply that OA is the problem, but shedding those subscriptions would seem to be the best way forward.

International Open Access Week officially starts today, 19th October, with 229 events listed on the website so far! Perhaps this is not the week for sleep.

On 6 November, @martin_eve will be in Helsinki to talk about The Humanities in the Digital Age: Access, Equality and Education. Dr. Eve will discuss the context and controversies around Open Access, and discuss alternative models for publishing research.

Speaking of context and controversy, @StephenPinfield has used discourse analysis tools to look at the state of the debate on Open Access. He comes up with 18 propositions which are too long to go into here, but the article is definitely worth a look.
Source: @ClareHooperLUP

The EU’s Research Commissioner, Carlos Moedas, has called on scientific publishers to accept that open access is the way of the future, and adapt their business models accordingly.
Source: @scibus

One of the obstacles to a broader and speedier transition to open access is a lingering doubt about the quality of such publications. After all, traditional publishers have had decades, some of them centuries, to build up a reputation. Utrecht University is hosting a workshop led by @jeroenson tomorrow, 20 October, to address such concerns and teach interested researchers how to assess the quality of an OA publisher, and which metrics are used to determine quality. Information and registration here.

The Open Library of Humanities launched on 28 September, with 7 journals to begin with, and certainly more to come. There are no APCs for authors – the project is funded by a consortium of libraries, and more institutions are joining every day.
Source: @openlibhums

Most of the discussion around open access publishing seems to focus on journal articles, but publishing OA monographs throws up a different set of challenges. Guide to Open Access Monograph Publishing, a book addressing these issues, has now been published and can be downloaded here.

OA is making huge strides in Latin America; in many ways, they are well ahead of Europe. Here’s a look at the OA publishing landscape there: Made in Latin America: Open Access, Scholarly Journals, and Regional Innovations. [pdf]
Source: @stevehit

Predatory journals have been drawing negative attention to the open access movement – are they a serious drawback to this kind of publishing, or is the threat overstated? Chenyu Shen and Bo-Christer Björk of BioMed Central have conducted a study on such journals and have concluded that the problem is restricted to a few countries.
Source: @BioMedCentral

LERU (the League of European Research Universities) has issued a statement asserting that “Christmas is over”: with the results of researchers’ labor locked behind paywalls, soaring subscription fees, and often exorbitant APCs, for-profit publishers are getting a lot of free money. This should stop, says LERU, who will call on the EC to speed the transition to open access. You can read and sign the statement here.
Source: @Jeroenson

@timeshighered reports on a study that finds that open peer review produces better results than the traditional, single-blind model. One of the study’s authors speculates that reviewers might behave better if they know their comments will be seen by the public.

The Guardian has an article about how some European cities are using open data to get smarter, with a few nifty examples of what the new technology can do for citizens.

In “MOOCs Making Progress after the Hype has Died”, Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller talks to Don Huesman about how MOOCs will move forward now that rumors of their death turn out to have been somewhat exaggerated. She points out that the initial hype was that MOOCs were going to put universities out of business, and when, after two years, that hadn’t happened yet, they were said to have failed – but that was never the point of MOOCs in the first place, so you can’t really call it a failure. They are attracting students, including students outside the reach of traditional universities, and it looks like they will continue to do so.

Meanwhile, a report in the Stanford News claims that MOOCs haven’t really worked out, but again, the hype was overblown, and it’s a bit much to expect anything to completely reshape education in three years.

MIT is launching a pilot project that will offer a “Micro-Master’s” in Supply Chain Management, combining MOOCs and on-campus education to effectively halve the price of the degree.

“Students who do well in a series of free online courses and a related online examination offered through MIT’s MOOC project, MITx, will “enhance their chances” of being accepted to the on-site master’s program, according to a university statement. Students who come to the program after first taking the MOOCs will then essentially place out of the first half of the coursework, so they can finish the degree in a semester rather than an academic year. That effectively makes the master’s program half the usual price.”

Source: @chronicle

Next month is NaNoWriMo! Folks in academia might want to consider #AcWriMo, a solid month to dive in, focus on that dissertation or article, and Get It Done. Also an excellent excuse to stay inside and avoid all that weather.

Recent Conferences

The presentations from last month’s Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing (#COASP) are online now.
Source: @Nancydiana

Sebastian Nordhoff has a nicely succinct summary of the workshop on Alternative Open Access Publishing Models held in Brussels last week. It seems there was a lot of information flying around, but not much time for discussion, given the tight scheduling. Overall, though, some exciting new possibilities were discussed, and although the workshop was  organized by a political body, there were surprisingly few calls for political action. #AlterOA is bound to be interesting on Twitter for the next few weeks.
Source: @langscipress

Upcoming Conferences

University College London will host an Open Access Conference on 21 October from 2-5 pm, where a group of Open Access luminaries will discuss the current OA landscape and various emerging publishing models. Sounds fascinating. Hope someone blogs about it after.

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 – 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.