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Weekly Wisdom #60 by Paul Gray and David E. Drew

DOWNLOAD COUNTS. Tenure and review committees like candidates who develop a personal reputation and hence reflect glory on the institution. Impact factors are one crude measure.  Another is the Download Count.  That is, if you have an academic publication that is accessible on the Internet, is anybody reading it or, better, downloading it?  Some publishers maintain download counts and send them to authors.  If you are fortunate to receive download counts, keep them.  They are handy at tenure and performance review time.

Graham Steel – Publish or Parish

This post is by  Graham Steel who has been been actively involved in Patient Advocacy work for over 10 years. Graham acted as Vice-Chairman for a UK Charity, the Human BSE Foundation 2001 – 2005 and then as Information Resource Manager for the CJD International Support Alliance (CJDISA) 2005 – 2007.

More recently, his activities have been focused more on Patient Advocacy generally, but mainly upon Neurodegenerative conditions such as Motor Neurone Disease. He also is involved in and advocating for Open Access/Science/Data and now acts in un-renumerated advisory capacities to the Open Knowledge Foundation, the Public Library of Science (PLoS) and most recently, Digital Science

–So pretty much completely out of the blue, I received this tweet from Charlotte to which I tweeted back with “sure”. Read more

Martin Paul Eve on Open Access Week

This post is by Martin Paul Eve,  a researcher at the University of Sussex working on the novels of Thomas Pynchon. Until recently he was chief editor of the postgraduate journal Excursions and he has just launched a gold-standard, libre OA journal, Orbit: Writing Around Pynchon. He is speaking as the opening plenary at the UK Scholarly Group next year on auto-subversive practices in academic publishing and has a forthcoming book chapter on Open Access in the edited collection, Zombies in the Academy.

For several years now, academic libraries worldwide have played host to Open Access week, an international celebration of the revolution in academic publishing. For the same number of years, a question has circulated among participants at these events: “is 20XX the year of the tipping point?” It is that question, after a brief excursion into the history of Open Access, that I wish to address. Read more

Journal of Peace Conflict and Development: Making Our Own Mark

In today’s post the Editorial Board behind the Journal of Peace and Conflict Development talk about how their journal is marking its mark in the changing world of academic publishing. This post was written by Benita Sumita and Roberta Hollanda Maschietto, doctoral researchers in Peace Studies, University of Bradford with input from the editorial board members of the Peace Conflict and Development journal.

“Can we improve our credibility without being ranked?” This potent question raised by one of the editorial board members defines the struggles that lie ahead for the Journal of Peace Conflict and Development (PC&D) nearly a decade since its founding. Apart from the continuing – now ever-more severe – funding constraints, the Journal is faced with having to prove its credibility through more mainstream avenues. It seems the PC&D is not visible within the UK’s mainstream cottage-industry of academic publishing and assessments, which has presumably led to a loss of the meagre financial backing the Journal received the last nine years. All these concerns need to be viewed within the contexts of the current climate of financial pressure in UK’s Higher Education and the increasing tendency to measure the quality, impact and ranking of journals by the number of times their articles are cited. It is perhaps time to question and rethink the systemically flawed nature of academic impact assessment rather than the credibility of a Journal such as PC&D that has made its own mark by reaching a wide and diverse national and international readership and attracting submissions from established scholars and practitioners. Read more

We Ask Ken Wissoker: Do We Need to Rethink Academic Publishing?
Image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pumpkincat210/with/3416918382/

Image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pumpkincat210/with/3416918382/

Continuing to gather responses to the Guardian article by George Monbiot on the broken model of academic publishing, we asked Ken Wissoker, Editorial Director at Duke University Press, to wade into the debate. Here’s what he had to say:

I thought Monbiot’s article was very valuable for getting the word out about how the big publishers – especially Elsevier – but also Taylor and Francis and Wiley-Blackwell have extracted as much money as possible from university libraries. Elsevier pioneered this, coming up with big packages of journals that universities needed and pricing them as high as possible.  Universities with researchers in those areas (mostly science and medicine) had to pay or they weren’t supporting their professors. Since every journal was unique intellectual property, there was no competition and no market. If a library wanted to cancel a journal, Elsevier didn’t lower the price of the collection. This really was wealth extraction in a frightening and damaging form. So the article’s account of all that was a good wake-up call for those, including many academics, who were not aware of these changes over the last ten or fifteen years.  He is totally right about the infuriating way these arrangements cut out anyone without access to a university library. Read more

We Ask Martin Paul Eve: Do We Need to Rethink Academic Publishing?

In his Guardian article, George Monbiot makes an excellent case against the existing academic publishing industry. Knowing that Martin Paul Eve would have much to say, we asked if he’d like to address Monbiot’s points in advance of his talk at the UKSG next year.

George Monbiot builds a good case against the corporate publishing machine that dominates the academic world and his article has had portions of the Twittersphere buzzing. I am due to speak in the opening plenary of the UK Scholarly Group conference next year – the biggest gathering of librarians and academic publishers – to make a similar argument: we don’t need academic publishers. While I won’t reiterate every aspect of Monbiot’s piece, there are several aspects, here, that are worth unpicking, especially where I diverge from Monbiot’s stance.

Firstly, Monbiot approaches, but never directly engages with, the driver of prestige in academia. He mentions the necessity of publishing with high impact factor journals and states that we can “start reading” new OA journals, but can’t “stop reading the closed ones”. Actually, we can, but only if people stop publishing therein. This will not happen in the UK because of the Research Excellence Framework and its insistence that the higher “impact” band a journal, the more weight a piece will have. This is a delegation of the critical task of the researcher into the arms of a commercial entity. While peer review serves as a useful filter, merely trusting this, based on journals which achieve their prestige based on rejection rates, is a foolish move, driven by the equally foolish baseline of a research assessment dependent on corporations. The REF, alongside competition for academic jobs, drives this system.

Secondly, publishers are able to use institutional libraries as a shield to hide a researcher’s autosubversive behaviour. Consider that, by publishing in a closed, proprietary journal, a researcher actually limits his or her own access to material by constricting his or her own institution’s library budget. This is not how it appears to the researcher, though, because the spend is at one remove. Researchers publish for prestige and it is the library’s fault if material is not forthcoming. Open Access supported by commercial entities does make a researcher aware of the problems, because in this case they will be asked to pay up front. However, most reactions from researchers to this tend to be: “I don’t want to pay, let us revert to the model where I didn’t pay”. In this way, publishers have built a “command and control” system for an entity that functions, in its obfuscation, distribution and resilience, in a mode most akin to a piece of computer malware. Libraries must educate researchers of their own complicity in this web. Read more