* There does not seem to be a consensus among academic librarians regarding what is desirable in terms of humanities book offerings.
* Many librarians do not distinguish scholarly titles from academic titles. Librarians seem to lean toward known brands (e.g., EBSCO, JSTOR), irrespective of the content that these aggregators offer.
* Most libraries are still in the early stages of developing an e-book strategy, and many are unsure of which direction they should take.
* …there is no agreement amongst librarians as to which humanities content is considered necessary, which collections are essential, which aggregators to use or what fields to cover
* Most librarians surveyed believe that the various aggregators and publishers all offer the same (overlapping) content
A free online report/book, Chasing Sustainability on the Net (Juvenes Print Tampere, Finland, Oct 2012)…
“International research on 69 journalistic pure players and their business models”
For those not conversant with suit-speak, a “pure play” is an “internet only business”. Might there be some lessons in the report for academic and scholarly ejournals?
The AHRC’s final report Crowd-Sourcing Scoping Study: Engaging the Crowd with Humanities Research (Dec 2012)…
“[recording and saving] Ephemera and intangible cultural heritage form potentially the most productive category of asset for humanities crowd-sourcing…”
Details of a recent JISC survey in the arts and humanities and social sciences. They asked if OA publishers could be allowed to recoup their costs on open access, by selling print-on-demand paper copies of monographs. I guess this is consultation on the medium-range future, since the UK Research Councils and the HEFCE are both targetting journal articles and conference papers for OA first, not books (and thus presumably not monographs) or data.
What I’d want (and might pay for during a research project, instead of a free PDF) wouldn’t be print, but a nicely formatted .mobi ebook file for my Kindle ereader. But if a publisher’s Kindle monograph costs £65 (inc. shipping from the USA) and a simple PDF to Kindle operation is free, why would I not choose the latter, mangled formatting and all? Many others will simply read their PDFs on an iPad, Kindle Fire or other tablet.
However, it seems that for the moment print rules…
“Print still dominates reading preferences, but less so for early career academics”
Yet I really can’t see university managers standing for academics charging the departmental credit-card £50+ a time to get print monographs, once the PDFs are free online (as the legal requirement for OA widens out from just “research council funded” works to encompass all taxpayer-funded works). To save costs managers might present their stick-in-the-mud academics with shiny new £150 tablets, and tell them to read all future PDFs on that or lump it. Or, if print really is vital, the university might install a hired print-on-demand book-printing machine in the university’s printing works.
Also some interesting statistics in the article, from a JISC survey of 690 (presumably all in the UK)…
“Creative Commons licensing is not well understood by humanities and social science academics, not only was awareness of CC low at only 40 per cent [...] Familiarity with open access is at 30 per cent and awareness is at 50 per cent, although this was before the Finch report” [...]
Inside Higher Ed has a useful summary of new large-scale research on “How Readers Discover Content in Scholarly Journals”.
COAR report of 26th Oct 2012, The Current State of Open Access Repository Interoperability (2012).
A new Mendeley Global Research Report which crunches data from 2 million Mendeley users. Includes a section on “Why Open Access Makes a Difference”…
“The report reveals the extent to which a country’s GDP per capita and R&D expenditure per capita limit its researchers’ access to academic papers.”
On publisher distortion of the citation rate…
“60 per cent [of research academics] admit that they would add citations from a journal to their reference list before submitting their article to [that journal]“
“Over 20 per cent of researchers have been pressured by journal editors to modify their articles in ways that manipulate the reputation of the journal [...] Editors can manipulate their journal’s ranking by asking authors to include more citations of other articles in that very journal”
A new report, from commercial academic publishers, asked UK libraries what the results might be of the government’s plan for universal open-access with an embargo period of six months…
“Nearly a quarter of [the 210 libraries that responded] would cancel their humanities and social science subscriptions entirely.”
A further report suggest another problem — that papers simply won’t be presented by academics to their repositories…
“The PEER findings [...] indicated that the vast majority of academics did not self-archive their work even when asked to do so.”
Perhaps UK universities should declare that journal articles won’t count toward future career advancement, unless they are deposited in a timely manner?
A new JISC report released this month, “Benefits of Open Access to Scholarly Research to the Public Sector“, claims that the UK public sector saves £28.6 million through using open access content, although they still spend £135m a year accessing paywalled information.
The voluntary and charitable sectors were also surveyed, in another JISC report called “Benefits of Open Access to Scholarly Research for Voluntary and Charitable Sector Organisations“.
A new paper, “A study of the information search behaviour of the millennial generation” [those born between 1982 and 2000]. The paper found; erratic information search processes; only limited attempts to evaluate the quality / timeliness / validity of information found.
Academic papers should be made free to access within six months of publication, according to a draft policy from Research Councils UK (RCUK). They should also have a permissive licence (Creative Commons CC-BY), which would make their content free to use commercially if properly attributed.
A new JISC report, just released: Value and benefits of text mining.
An interesting new report from RIN, Access to scholarly content: gaps and barriers (Dec 2011).
* 79.1% in “industry and commerce” said their access to research papers was “easy to access”.
* When the same group was later asked more specifically about academic papers…
“In a later question, put only to those researchers for whom journal articles are important, respondents in all sectors rated their access as somewhere between ‘variable’ and ‘good’. Conference papers, on the other hand, were rated somewhere between ‘variable’ and ‘poor’.”
* “the motor industry, utilities companies, metals and fabrication, construction, and rubber and plastics.” reported the poorest access.
* “34.4 per cent of researchers and knowledge workers describe their current level of access to conference papers (in print or online) as `poor’ or `very poor’.”
* “Based on an analysis of the Labour Force Survey, CIBER estimates that there are around 1.8 million professional knowledge workers in the UK, many working in R&D intensive occupations (such as software development, civil engineering and consultancy) and in small firms, who may not currently have access to journal content via subscriptions.”
Published 1st Feb 2012: “UK Scholarly Reading and the Value of Library Resources: Summary Results of the Study Conducted Spring 2011“, a JISC Collections report. 1000 academics were surveyed, at six British universities.
A handy new four-page advocacy briefing sheet from Research Libraries UK Open access: impact for researchers, universities and society. Although note that it doesn’t mention the poor level of indexing and search findability.
Published at the end of September 2011, the book College Libraries and Student Culture: What We Now Know (ALA Editions). This from the Inside Higher Ed coverage of the research in the run-up to publication…
“… the Illinois researchers found something they did not expect: students were not very good at using Google. They were basically clueless about the logic underlying how the search engine organizes and displays its results. Consequently, the students did not know how to build a search that would return good sources. (For instance, limiting a search to news articles, or querying specific databases such as Google Book Search or Google Scholar.) Duke and Asher said they were surprised by “the extent to which students appeared to lack even some of the most basic information literacy skills that we assumed they would have mastered in high school.” Even students who were high achievers in high school suffered from these deficiencies, Asher told Inside Higher Ed in an interview.”
Seriously, they were surprised? Surely anyone who teaches undergraduates could have told them this?
UK students are in danger of becoming “illiterate” when it comes to technology, says a new Department for Education report which is due to be published today…
“Ian Livingstone, president of gaming publisher Eidos and author of a recent report into teaching tech in schools, has called for improvements to computing education ahead of a response to his report due out from the Department for Education today.”
As university presses stagger in the economic storm, the Australian Book Industry Strategy Group final report (PDF link) suggests a national publically-funded ‘publisher of last resort’…
“Australia needs a National University Press Network to print book and chapter-length research in the humanities and social sciences — research that, being too long for journals and not commercial enough for the struggling publishing industry, might otherwise never see the light of day.”
Personally I would be inclined to get such research out there for free, via blogs and personal websites, Amazon Kindle store, open repositories such as Archive.org, and print-on-demand services such as Lulu or CreateSpace. There seems to me absolutely no excuse for any research “never seeing the light of day” in the digital age, especially if you envisage selling only 50 copies or so. Impact assessment will apparently take little or no notice of where or by whom something was published, in future. So what does a publisher really give you? Proof-reading services, and a little bit of publicity, both things you can buy off-the-shelf from eLance and the like. If you really have to have a proof reader from within the discipline, they can also be found provided you’re willing to pay, among the thousands of humanities lecturers now languishing in unemployment. Even if the ‘buried’ text is somehow still in a yellowing typescript from before the Word processing era, how difficult can it be to pay an undergraduate £50 to scan and OCR it for you?
Reinventing Research? : information practices in the humanities (PDF link), a 2011 report from the UK’s RIN consortium. The report looked at all digital research resources, not just social media. The English Department at the University of Birmingham was one of the case-studies, which presents an interesting three-page snapshot of digital usage (or not — only two staff were bloggers) in a single department.
From the summary of the report…
“We found only limited use — except among philosophers — of blogs and other social media.” [...] there is little evidence as yet of their taking full advantage of the possibilities of more advanced tools for text-mining, grid or cloud computing, or the semantic web; and only limited uptake of even simple, freely-available tools for data management and sharing.”
There may also be some overestimation of usage of new media for the dissemination of research findings. This is something that may be increasingly important in the UK in future, as funding becomes partly dependent on the public ‘impact’ of public-funded research. This apparent overestimation doesn’t seem to be mentioned in the RIN report, but it was summed up in a comment from Dr. Michael Jubb, Director of the Research Information Network (RIN)…
“While they [researchers] say they’re using [these] tools for dissemination, in fact they’re not. When you look at the research results they’re not using these kind of tools to aid dissemination, they’re going back to conference papers and journal articles in the traditional way…”
He made the comment in the questions after a recent talk in Harrogate by Bill Russell (presenting huge-sample research which found that Skype and Google Docs were the most used of the new digital resources).
Such lackadaisical behaviour may be dangerous. Change is coming fast. It doesn’t seem that our academics may have a great deal of time and leisure in which to make the change…
“There is a new global race in scientific research and it’s so fast it may well be of world historical importance, a signal of a new, expanding Enlightenment, unconstrained by national boundaries, powered by multilateral institutions and open access publishing through the web, and, above all, by the belief, first put forward by one of the founders of the Royal Society, the Irish scientist Robert Boyle, that knowledge teems with profitable invention. Reading through the 144-page report [ Knowledge, networks and nations (Royal Society, March 2011) ], one can almost sense the authors — some of Britain’s most distinguished scientists — marveling at the findings.”