‘Undue reliance’ on journal impact factor in academic evaluation | Times Higher Education (THE)

At least one in three research-intensive universities in North America examined by a study leaned on the journal impact factor of periodicals that academics had published in when making decisions on promotion and tenure, but the true proportion may be much higher.

The study, believed to be the first to examine the use of the journal impact factor in academic performance reviews, warns that there is an “undue reliance” on the controversial metric….

Among the documents from 57 research-intensive institutions considered by the study, 23 (40 per cent) referred to journal impact factors, with 19 of these mentions (83 per cent of the subtotal) being supportive. Only three of the mentions expressed caution about use of journal impact factors.

Of the documents that did refer to journal impact factors, 14 associated the metric with research quality, while eight tied it to impact and a further five referred to prestige or reputation.

The overall results, including large numbers of universities that offer few doctoral degrees, found that 23 per cent of review, promotion and tenure policies mentioned the journal impact factor, with 87 per cent of these mentions being supportive….”

‘Access is not really the main issue anymore’ | Research Information

The biggest challenge is the circularity of the entire structure of how we communicate with each other: things are tied up in a way that makes it very difficult to break up. The publishers, librarians, and faculty scientists all have very different perspectives, and it’s very difficult to cooperate when everyone has different perspectives and different interests. In a short phrase: it’s a social problem. 

Libraries, for instance, say “we would instantly drop our subscriptions, if we knew that faculty would be publishing elsewhere” because they don’t realise that if we publish elsewhere we risk our jobs. You just have to look up job ads for faculty or tenure track positions, and you’ll see we have to publish in certain journals if you want that job. Usually librarians are quite aghast or surprised when I tell them that this is the choice we have, they seem to see it as some subliminal self-stroking ego if we publish in certain journals. If one looks at our journal system and most journals that virtually guarantee you a job, those are journals that are also publishing the least reliable science. If you’ve done that for the last 30 years, then maybe it’s no surprise that we’re wondering about the reliability of science….”

Library-Mediated Deposit: A Gift to Researchers or a Curse on Open Access? Reflections from the Case of Surrey

Abstract:  The University of Surrey was one of the first universities to set up an open access repository. The Library was the natural stakeholder to lead this project. Over the years, the service has been influenced by external and internal factors, and consequently the Library’s role in developing the OA agenda has changed. Here, we present the development and implementation of a fully mediated open access service at Surrey. The mediated workflow was introduced following an operational review, to ensure higher compliance and engagement from researchers. The size and responsibilities of the open access team in the Library increased to comply with internal and external policies and to implement the fully mediated workflow. As a result, there has been a growth in deposit rates and overall compliance. We discuss the benefits and shortcomings of Library mediation; its effects on the relationship between the Library, senior management and researchers, and the increasing necessity for the Library to lead towards a culture of openness beyond policy compliance.

Worried About the Future of the Monograph? So Are Publishers – The Chronicle of Higher Education

From your perspective as the AUP’s new president, what are the most important issues facing scholarly publishers?

Crewe: Our biggest challenge remains the low sales of scholarly monographs, such as revised dissertations or scholarly books with a narrow focus in a small field. Libraries share copies, and individuals don’t purchase the new books in their fields as they did 20 years ago.

We want to publish these books. They are the building blocks of our own reputation and they are often groundbreaking, field-changing works. We’re looking for publishing grants to support them, and we try each season to publish enough profitable books to cover the losses on monographs.

But today’s model isn’t sustainable. There are a number of experiments under way to figure out how to publish specialized monographs in a freely available open-access format….”

Elsevier’s Presence on Campuses Spans More Than Journals. That Has Some Scholars Worried. – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Lyon, a librarian of scholarly communications at the University of Texas at Austin, listed scholarly-publishing tools that had been acquired by the journal publishing giant Elsevier. In 2013, the company bought Mendeley, a free reference manager. It acquired the Social Science Research Network, an e-library with more than 850,000 papers, in 2016. And it acquired the online tools Pure and Bepress — which visualize research — in 2012 and 2017, respectively.

Lyon said she started considering institutions’ dependence on Elsevier when the company acquired Bepress two years ago. She was shocked, she recalled in a recent interview.

“It just got me thinking,” she said. Elsevier had it all: Institutional repositories, preprints of journal articles, and analytics. “Elsevier, Elsevier, Elsevier, Elsevier, Elsevier.”

Scholars are beginning to discuss the idea of Elsevier-as-monolith at conferences and in their research. Not only are librarians and researchers speaking openly about the hefty costs of bulk subscriptions to the company’s premier journals, but they’re also paying attention to the products that Elsevier has acquired, several of which allow its customers to store data and share their work….”

Paywalls block scientific progress. Research should be open to everyone | Jason Schmitt | Education | The Guardian

“Academic and scientific research needs to be accessible to all. The world’s most pressing problems like clean water or food security deserve to have as many people as possible solving their complexities. Yet our current academic research system has no interest in harnessing our collective intelligence. Scientific progress is currently thwarted by one thing: paywalls.

Paywalls, which restrict access to content without a paid subscription, represent a common practice used by academic publishers to block access to scientific research for those who have not paid. This keeps £19.6bn flowing from higher education and science into for-profit publisher bank accounts. My recent documentary, Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, uncovered that the largest academic publisher, Elsevier, regularly has a profit margin between 35-40%, which is greater than Google’s. With financial capacity comes power, lobbyists, and the ability to manipulate markets for strategic advantages – things that underfunded universities and libraries in poorer countries do not have….”

Let It Flow: The Monopolization of Academic Content Providers and How It Threatens the Democratization of Information: The Serials Librarian: Vol 0, No 0

Abstract:  The monopolization of academic journal publishers concentrates power and valuable information into the hands of a few players in the marketplace. It has detrimental effects on how information flows and is accessed. This, in turn, has profound effects on how a nation progresses. Placed in a theoretical framework, utilizing the marketplace of ideas and the economies that coincide, this article takes a look at the history of Elsevier in order to chart this course toward monopolization. It exhibits the effect it has already had on the academic community, while offering two models of Open Access as a much sounder option.

The Federal Courts Are Running An Online Scam – POLITICO Magazine

“Every day, dozens of hungry reporters lurk inside something called PACER, the online records system for America’s federal courts. These days, they’re mostly looking for the latest scraps of intel on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian inference into the 2016 presidential election. And everyone, from lawyers to researchers to activists, uses the system to find similar criminal cases, track the latest arrests of terrorism suspects or argue for sentencing reform.

But I’m here to tell you that PACER—Public Access to Court Electronic Records—is a judicially approved scam. The very name is misleading: Limiting the public’s access by charging hefty fees, it has been a scam since it was launched and, barring significant structural changes, will be a scam forever….

The U.S. federal court system rakes in about $145 million annually to grant access to records that, by all rights, belong to the public….”

Traditional scientific publishers have repeatedly undermined moves towards open access | Evidence & Reason

I recently read a profile of Alexandra Elbakyan and her pirate library, Sci-Hub. Sci-Hub provides free access to a huge number of scientific papers which would otherwise be locked away behind paywalls and only available if you paid a huge fee. The traditional scientific publishers are not happy with that, have sued her several times and continually try to take down her site. I think, given the current realities in science, that Sci-Hub is necessary until the publication process can be reformed.

I have a colleague with whom I talk about publication practices in science and that sort of thing and, while we generally agree, we do differ on our attitudes to traditional publishers. He has often said that he doesn’t want to drive them out of business and would like to work together with them to solve the problems. I have generally maintained that they are antiquated relics from the print age who serve no real purpose, add little to no value to the scientific enterprise and oppose necessary reforms in science. …

One of their more ridiculous complaints is that they need more time. Springer Nature suggested a phased transition approach would help. This is blatant stalling. They cannot seriously suggest that they have not had time to think about these issues and come up with a plan. They seemed similarly unprepared when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said all the research they funded had to published as open access in the beginning of 2017 and discussions around open access have been ongoing for many years!…”