Disruptive forces in the “staggeringly profitable” business of academic publishing

There is an excellent long read in today’s Guardian: Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science?

Learn how academic publishing became so profitable, the rapid increase in library subscription costs (the serials crisis) and the start of Big Deals, and the development of open access as an alternative to subscription publishing (see also my other posts on open access).

Sci-Hub, a different way of disrupting the subscription and paywall model, is in the news at the moment: US court grants Elsevier millions in damages from Sci-Hub – though it’s far from clear if or when they may receive any of it:

Meanwhile, Finnish researchers have launched a boycott against Elsevier: “The group behind Tiedonhinta.fi statement urges researchers to refrain from peer review and editorial duties for journals owned by publishing giant Elsevier.  The boycott is launched on a new website nodealnoreview.org. The site welcomes also signatures from international colleagues all around the world, who are worried about cost of and access to research literature in their own countries.”

Anthology of interest 2

Interesting things I’ve been reading/watching/listening to recently:

đź“– What we’ve learned from #ExpertDebate – Wellcome’s Director Jeremy Farrar reflects on the issues that mistrust of expertise raises for researchers.  He warns us to beware double meanings when talking science: these 5 words have different meanings in the context of science vs everyday usage: theory, significant, risk, determine, predict.

đź“˝ The closing keynote of UKSG Conference 2017: Post-Truth: the role of publishers and librarians by Charlotte RouechĂ©, Professor Emeritus of Digital Hellenic Studies at King’s College London (and here is her ORCID record).  In a post-truth era where fake news proliferates, she asks us “What are you doing to preserve truth and honest thinking?”  We are all researchers, and it’s not good enough to say it’s not our problem.  She emphasises the importance of linked open data, and highlights 5-star Open Data – how to make your data open, re-usable, and linked (includes examples, and costs/benefits for each level).

👂 Copyright or Wrong – Leading copyright lawyer and author Richard Taylor asks whether copyright is an analogue law in the digital age.  Featuring German MEP Julia Reda, and Monty Python.

đź“– Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags by Tim Marshall.  I learned a lot from Tim’s previous book, Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics, so I had high expectations!  I devoured Worth Dying For and will soon re-read it to make sure I can remember as many as possible of Tim’s observations and anecdotes.  He has a dry sense of humour too!

📽  … While awaiting the arrival of the copy you’ve ordered, watch this video of Tim speaking about The Power and Politics of Flags (public lecture at LSE).

đź‘‚ I’m really enjoying the current BBC World Service series 50 Things That Made The Modern Economy.  Wondering how the development of air-conditioning might be linked to Ronald Reagan winning the 1980 US Presidential Election?  Listen to the episode on air-conditioning and then catch up with all the others.   Each episode is only 9 minutes long, and all of them will give you something to think about.

đź“– How We Got “Please” and “Thank You” – Why the line between politeness and bossiness is a linguistic mirage (and the idea of the tacit calculus of debt).

On which matter, thanks for reading 🙂

So long, Sunderland – and some data-related unfinished business

After nearly four and a half years at the University of Sunderland, I’m moving on to a new role at ORCID, as their Education & Outreach Specialist.  For most of my time at UoS, I’ve been the E-Resources Librarian and the Law Librarian, which has been a very interesting combination of roles.

When I started at UoS in 2012, we still had Classic Athens authentication and Single Sign-On running in parallel, EDS was implemented but needed more work, and EZproxy was hardly used.  Since then, the use of Classic Athens has been discontinued and SSO has been fine-tuned to give different access permissions to different types of users, EZproxy authentication is in place for all platforms which support it, and I’ve overseen the successful migration of our old EDS to the new EDS FTF.

I’ve enjoyed teaching others about various e-resources topics, especially while dressed as a pirate.  Other subjects included licences and subscriptions,  journals and platforms, and hyperauthorship.

Writing and editing my chapter on Open Access for the Legal Academic’s Handbook helped me to distill and refine my ideas in this field.  Participating in Helsinki University Library’s International Staff Exchange Week 2014 was an excellent experience and further fuelled my Suomi-philia.  And developing a framework for Professional Practice Forum helped to develop communications and nurture relationships within our Senior Library Staff team.

My participation in UKSG has grown from attending the 2013 conference (where I first heard about ORCID), the 2014 conference, being invited to join the UKSG Research & Innovation Sub-Committee, and then being elected to UKSG Committee.  I’m looking forward to carrying on this role in my new job, and glad that ORCID is fully supportive of my involvement.

I would like to thank the colleagues who have helped to realise many of these projects, especially Rachel Webb and Ian Frost, trusty allies in periodicals and IT.

Lastly, there is some unfinished business concerning EBSCO EDS and Single Sign-On.  Bref, EBSCO and Eduserv are proposing a change to how users log in to EDS, so that they will also  immediately be logged in to their personal folders.  This solution will appeal to libraries, as users often struggle with the current situation where you log in first to the system, and then again (with different credentials) to access your personal folders.  However, this change involves sending users’ personal data outside the EU, and therefore has Data Protection implications.  Here is my most recent communication to Eduserv on the matter, sent in advance of last week’s webinar “Approaches to authentication – evolution, security, options for the future”:

I would like to ask you about how the use of EDS and SSO fits with the Data Protection Act (1998) requirements that personal information used by organisations is not transferred outside the European Economic Area without adequate protection.
I have made this enquiry before have been told that it is up to the organisation to decide if EBSCO’s use of servers outside the EU complies with the DPA (really?).  This respondent also quoted the Safe Harbor framework, appearing not to know of the EU Court of Justice decision in 2015 that the Safe Harbor regime did not provide a valid legal basis for EEA-US transfers of all types of personal data.
I wonder if someone at this webinar may be able to provide a better response.  I urge Eduserv and EBSCO not to pass this matter back to individual organisations alone, but to offer some advice and guidance about the implications, especially as many library staff making decisions about implementing the EDS & SSO option may not be aware of the legal implications.

I have not yet had a response from them, and the recording of the webinar has not yet been released so I don’t know if it was addressed during the session.

Library colleagues, please be alert to the implications, keep asking Eduserv and EBSCO about this, and don’t let your users’ data be released without adequate legal and ethical safeguards.

The 10 commandments of experimental data

Here is the original French version by Charles Nepote:
Les 10 commandements de l'expérimentation data

  1. À apprendre, pas forcément à réussir, tu chercheras
  2. Des hypothèses tu formuleras ou l’exploration tu assumeras
  3. Tes réussites comme tes échecs tu partageras
  4. À la diversité des profils et contributeurs tu veilleras
  5. Frugalité, agilité, simplicitétu chériras
  6. Un accès aux données tu obtiendras
  7. De l’intérêt des données tu ne préjugeras pas
  8. Dans des univers nouveaux, les données tu chercheras
  9. Face aux données, un esprit critique tu garderas
  10. À ces principes tout le monde adhérera

And my quick-and-dirty English translation:

  1. You will seek to learn rather than succeed
  2. You will formulate hypotheses or take an exploratory approach
  3. You will share both your successes and your failures
  4. You will be alert to diversity among candidates and contributors
  5. You will seek frugality, agility, and simplicity
  6. You will make your data accessible
  7. You will not prejudge the appeal or point of your data
  8. You will seek data in new fields
  9. You will maintain a critical eye when faced with data
  10. Everyone will adhere to these principles

Sounds like an excellent manifesto.  Feel free to improve upon my translation!

Anthology of interest

A mixed bag of interesting things from last week:

qwant

  • Trombino at Festival du court mĂ©trage Clermont-Ferrand – fab way to display conference delegates’ photos and affiliations (and it’s searchable).  As well as being there on the website, it was also showing on a large screen at the conference centre (randomly switching between images every few seconds).  I can imagine this working well at an event like UKSG Conference.

trombino

Recent recommended reads: governance, geography, feminism

In an era of disinformation, educating yourself and others is an act of resistance 🙂 Here are my recent highly recommended reads:

The Blunders of Our Governments by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe [publisher | WorldCat] – gives an overview of some examples of bad government decision-making, and then outlines the circumstances which allowed these blunders to happen.  There are lessons here for all organisations – for example:

  • Brainstorming Murphy’s Law – think about all the things that can go wrong, and plan for them.
  • Objection is often misconstrued as obstruction – listen to criticisms and pay attention to potential pitfalls.
  • Ensure that the people responsible for the idea are accountable for the outcome.
  • Rather than just focusing on lauding innovations, which may be poorly thought-out or badly delivered, reward those whose initiatives are still in place several years down the line.

Prisoners of Geography: ten maps that tell you everything you need to know about global politics by Tim Marshall [publisher | WorldCat] – a fascinating tour of how physical geography influences borders and nations.  “Strip out the lines of nation states, and the map Ivan the Terrible confronted is the same one Vladimir Putin is faced with to this day.”

Men explain things to me by Rebecca Solnit [publisher | WorldCat] – I would particularly recommend this 2014 edition, with its beautiful paintings by Ana Teresa Fernandez.  Seven essays on the theme of gender and power – essential reading for everyone.