Thoughtful piece on how big, for profit publishers are feeling squeezed by sites like academia.edu
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Earlier this week, I attended webinar, called “Open Access in the Humanities” led by Rupert Gatti. Dr. Gatti is a Fellow in Economics at Trinity College, Cambridge and Co-Founder and Director of Open Book Publishers. The presentation outlined the landscape and the challenges of Open Access in the humanities.
One point that resonated with me, given the centrality of monographs to the humanities, was a statistic that showed the relative dearth of new open access academic books in relation to new journal titles. Clearly there are combinations of reasons preventing a more robust move to open access in the humanities, both economic (the problem of financial capital: books (e or print) are more labor intensive) and sociocultural (the problem of cultural capital: in that humanities books are awarded status and prestige through publishing houses). Gatti’s presentation took on these challenges by seeking a sustainable ways to address these conditions, showing some exciting options moving forward.
The bulk of his presentation was spent on Open Books Publishers, a new publishing project for peer-reviewed open access monographs, which he directs. (See Open Books Publishers:
http://www.openbookpublishers.com/section/25/1/faqs ) This outfit has only published a few books to date, but their economic model, which includes a mixture of revenue from big name supporters, hard-copy and alternative format sales, and voluntary author-generated publication grant funding makes them an interesting new player in field.
Gatti also outlined other important initiatives. One of these was Knowledge Unlatched, (See: http://www.knowledgeunlatched.org/ ) a project which seeks long-term cost savings for institutions by sharing the costs of making HSS monographs available on a Creative Commons license. UC Libraries is part in one of their pilot projects. Another was Unglue It, ( https://unglue.it/about/) a project designed to help individuals and institutions join together to liberate specific ebooks “crowd-funding ” payments to authors and publishers so they they will relicense their works under Creative Commons licenses.”
It is exciting to see these different economic models being tried. While I can’t say they will all achieve the sustainability they desire, it is clear that their aim is to create cooperatives to address real costs.
This webinar was sponsored by UKSG, a group formally that United Kingdom Serials Group. UKSG has evolved into a network that encourages “the exchange of ideas on scholarly communication…spanning the wide range of interests and activities across the scholarly information community of librarians, publishers, intermediaries and technology vendors. More about their activities can be found here: http://www.uksg.org/
Ecce Emendator: The Cost of Knowledge for Scholarly Editors.
“…How is it that the role of editor has seemed to have disappeared? And how is it that the tremendous labor performed by editors has essentially been erased or degraded by the very system that depends on us?…”
Alan Rauch, past president of president of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ), and founding editor of Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology writes about the place of academic journal Editors in the new political economy of knowledge.
As the information environment shifts, and new publishing opportunities are presented to researchers, librarians and scholars planning on how to move forward need to reflect on the relationship between the research library, the scholar/author, and the functions of the academic press.
Having sheparded to publication some of the most remarkable academic books of recent years, Ken Wissoker, the editorial director at Duke University Press, is in a good position to explain the added-value the academic press provides to this relationship. And in an insightful blog post, he does just that, focusing on the work behind the scenes that has helped to make Duke University Press as successfull as it has become.
In a world a-buzz over the technologies of self-publishing and research data repositories, Wissoker reminds us of the importance peer review and editorial guidance have on the shape of the humanities and qualitative social sciences. Questioning arguments which herald the demise of university press book, he articulates a key difference between a report on one’s research and the proper work of the book.
Publication in the humanities and social sciences isn’t the reporting of research. It’s the production of a compelling argument, based on a combination of research and interpretation.”
By drawing our attention to this process, Wissoker contributes to a wider critique of an industry that too often sees knowledge as the direct result of the exchange of information, and libraries and publishers simply as the machinery of information transfer. By opening up the labor of the editorial and review process, he reveals the social form of the book. Rather than seeing it simply as a physical or digital vessel for content, one that serves as an obstacle between the reader and her or his access to pure research, the book is reimagined as dialogue between facts, interpretations and critical arguments, a conversation that is aided by the work of external reviewers and editors. In this light, the best books in the humanities and social sciences, not only transport facts, but take the reader through the construction of those facts by unfolding both the research process and the relationships which affect its trajectory.
Wissoker’s argument in favor of a broader recognition of the social relationships of knowledge production may positively influence the way we imagine libraries too. It may help us to better organize the information environment of tomorrow by bringing into focus one the library’s most essential roles, its function as a generator and facillitator of compelling arguments.
See Ken Wissoker’s article posted on Scholarly Kitchen here:
For more of Ken Wissoker’s thoughts, see the interviews Adeline Koh has conducted with him for the Chronicle of Higher Education, beginning with “On Monographs, Libraries and Blogging”. See:
Why was an entire academic philosophy department moved to draft and circulate a critique of one of the latest trends to hit academia? Now that you’ve read David Michalski’s previous post on the promise of “slow research,” for those looking beyond the murky hype surrounding online education, read this incisive and thought-provoking analysis of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) from The Stanford Daily. (Stanford University is the home of Coursera, one of the earlier attempts to develop a MOOC curriculum).
What’s All the Fuss About Open Access? What Do I Need to Know, and How Does it Benefit Me?
Join us for a presentation by Pete Binfield (previously the Publisher of PLoS One, and now the Publisher and Co-Founder of PeerJ) as he provides an overview of the current landscape of Open Access publications; highlights some of the more innovative models that are being tested in the marketplace; talks about items such as article level metrics and open peer review, and shows how these new developments can benefit you as both a researcher and author.
Date: Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Time: 3-4 pm
Place: 1065 Kemper Hall
For more information about the event: http://blogs.lib.ucdavis.edu/schcomm/2013/05/06/peerj_may2013/
PeerJ website: https://peerj.com/
Hosted by the UC Davis Library
Read Richard Poynder’s excellent and thoughtful article on how large research libraries have been receiving their journal content in the form of huge all-inclusive provider-based bundles (the “big deal’ model so loved by the big providers has however not proved to be such a good deal for anyone else). And if you think “Open Access” is the solution to the problem, you should read what the author has to say about that as well.
Following the model of the Public Library of Sciences (PLoS) a group of Humanities scholars, librarians and technologists are setting up a similar platform for the Humanities, a platform for Open Access publishing that aims to be: “Reputable and respected through rigorous peer review, Sustainable, Digitally preserved and safely archived in perpetuity, Non-profit, Open in both monetary and permission terms, Non-discriminatory, Technically innovative in response to the needs of scholars and librarians”, and in doing so, help to solve the serials crisis caused by unsustainable institutional prices.
To learn more and to get involved visit The Open Library of Humanities:
Lately, it seems like Open Access (OA) has been in the news a lot:
Want to find out more about Open Access? What does it mean? Why do we care about it? What support exists for authors who want to publish OA?
UC Davis Librarians have created a new topic guide to help answer some of your questions about Open Access: http://ucdavis.libguides.com/open_access
Questions or Comments?
Contact: Amy Studer | email@example.com | (530) 752-1678
The following is an announcement from Professor Brian Kolner to members of the UC Davis Academic Senate and Academic Federation. Please contact him with any questions:
The University of California is considering adopting an Open Access publishing policy that will make the results of our published scholarly work accessible through the California Digital Library. The University Committee on the Library and Scholarly Communication (UCOLASC) and the Academic Council wish to get a sense of the campuses toward adoption of this policy. Please join us for a Town Hall Meeting on the following date and location
Friday, November 30, 2012
for a presentation and discussion. Following the Town Hall Meeting, we will launch a web forum on the Academic Senate web site (details to follow) for further comment. The Open Access draft policy, frequently asked questions, a slide presentation and other materials can be downloaded in advance at the following site:
We look forward to seeing you at the Town Hall on Nov. 30th.
Professor Brian H. Kolner
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of California, Davis