Reimagining the Digital Monograph Design Thinking to Build New Tools for Researchers

“Digital scholarly book files should be open and flexible. This is as much a design question as it is a business question for publishers and libraries. The working group returned several times to the importance of scholarly book files being available in nonproprietary formats that allow for a variety of uses and re-uses…. Another pointed out that the backlist corpus of scholarly books in the humanities and social sciences is an invaluable resource for text-mining, but the ability to carry out that research at scale means that the underlying text of the books has to be easy to extract. “It’s so important to be able to ‘scrape’ the text,” one participant said, using a common term for gathering machine-readable characters from a human-readable artifact (for example, a scanned page image)….Whether a wider group of publishers and technology vendors will feel that they can enable these more expansive uses of a book file without upending the sustainability of the scholarly publishing system is a larger question than this project sought to answer….Our working group also pointed to other challenges for the future of the monograph that have little to do with its visual representation in a user interface: for example, what might be a viable long-term business model for monographs, and whether a greater share of the publishing of monographs in a free-to-read, open-access model can be made sustainable….As interest continues to grow in extending the open-access publishing model from journals to scholarly books, publishers and librarians are working to understand better the upfront costs that must be covered in order to operate a self-sustaining open-access monograph publishing program—costs that have been complicated to pin down because the production of any given scholarly book depends on partial allocations of staff time from many different staff members at a press, and different presses have different cost bases, as well….”

‘Guerilla Activist’ Releases 18,000 Scientific Papers – MIT Technology Review

“Yesterday, in response to this week’s indictment of a 24-year-old Harvard researcher and Internet activist [Aaron Swartz] for allegedly hacking into MIT’s network and collecting nearly five million scholarly articles, a second hacker released more than 18,592 (32 gigabytes) of subscription-only research obtained from the same service. The second man identified himself as Greg Maxwell, a 31-year-old “technologist, recreational mathematician, and scientific hobbyist” from northern Virginia….Maxwell says he released the papers for similar reasons. He says the papers come from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and were published before 1923, which means they’re in the public domain (his claim has not been independently verified). “This knowledge belongs to the public,” he argues. For the sake of scientific progress, Maxwell says, such databases shouldn’t keep research under lock and key at all, let alone beyond their copyright expiration, as is the current practice. “Progress comes from making connections between others’ discoveries, from extending them, and then from telling people,” he says….”  

Royal Society frees up journal archive

“The archive [of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society] was digitized in 1999 by JSTOR, the US-based archive for academic journals, for a sum in the ‘high five figures in US dollars’. Royal Society commercial director Stuart Taylor says they have been thinking about making part of the archive free for some time. As digitization of print works gets easier and cheaper, “we do not feel it is justifiable to continue charging for access [to out-of-copyright material]”, Taylor said. The Royal Society’s pay-per-view income for the entire archive (including papers after 1941) amounts to less than 0.5% of their total publishing revenues.

In July, programmer Greg Maxwell uploaded nearly 19,000 articles from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, all of them published before 1923, onto the file-sharing website The Pirate Bay (in stated support for computer coder Aaron Swartz, who is still facing a federal indictment for downloading over 4 million articles from JSTOR). The Royal Society’s release today means that the articles Maxwell uploaded are all now free to view. Maxwell’s action did not affect the Society’s decision, says Taylor….”