What the RePEc Author Service offers authors

Christian Zimmermann, Keeping contact with authors, The RePEc blog, August 26, 2008.

One crucial aspect of RePEc are the regular mailing that participants get. … [A]uthors registered in the RePEc Author Service get an email every month with statistics, a list of new citations that were discovered, and some news about RePEc. Since we have started these emails, we noticed that authors have become much more diligent in making sure their profiles were up-to-date and that they have responded to suggestions made in the emails. …

ACM journal asks its readers to weigh in on OA

Elizabeth Churchill and Mark Vanderbeeken, Open, closed, or ajar? Content access and interactions, interactions, September/October 2008.  Excerpt:

…[W]hen our website went live earlier this year,…a number of people expressing surprise that only the first paragraphs of articles were available for download, unless one had a subscription to the ACM’s digital library. Currently, two pieces in each issue are available in their entirety on the interactions website….But a subscription to the magazine is needed to read the rest of the articles.

At CHI 2008 in Florence in April, a panel was held on whether interactions should or should not publish more articles and possibly the magazine in its entirety, for open download…Mark Vanderbeeken of the experience design consultancy Experientia and I spoke on this panel. We discussed some of our personal thoughts and experiences of open content, and discussed our perspectives on whether the content of interactions should or should not be freely available online. Some of the points we brought up there are reiterated here.

First and foremost, paraphrasing John Thackara, quality that is not communicated is simply not quality. To put it crudely, who cares how great the ideas are if we make barriers to hearing/reading those ideas so high that the ideas only reach a small in-group. Closed content is restricted content, and restricted content shared among the few is likely to have limited impact.

Secondly, digital publication of articles is simply not a replacement for a carefully designed printed artifact. In my mind the core product, the print magazine is not going away. Print and digital artifacts have very different properties, they invite a different interaction; the experience of the content is radically different. A magazine with its layout is very different from how I would lay the same content out digitally on the web….Digital artifacts should invite the reader to want, to desire the physical artifact. And vice versa….

Thirdly, there are many kinds of value aside from charging hard currency for content. Value may be purely non-monetary; it may be about personal satisfaction, or reputation and contribution to the community….

Experientia…has demonstrated that the paradigm that company information is proprietary and should be protected at all cost is now completely bypassed. Rather, an alternative approach is being taken there: everything not protected by NDA or of strategic value (e.g. the markets they plan to address in the next four months), should be open to all…All important content and ideas are published on the company blog, Putting People First….

The company has directly experienced several benefits of this approach: … [PS:  Omitting a list of 10 benefits.]

As the Experientia example suggests, the value-add of the open content is the ripple effect – the other things that become known which do generate monetary reward. In the case of scholarly journals and magazines like interactions, much of the labor of content production is volunteered, not for monetary gain. But the labor fits within a system where the rewards are very real – promotion of ideas, of products, of companies, of self, personal satisfaction, growth of future opportunities.

Before we get too carried away with all this happy, skipping, open sharing, printing a magazine costs money. The costs of production that need to be covered somehow are things like editing, illustrating, lay-out, printing, distribution, and archiving. Online distribution does not erase operating costs; funds are needed to cover platform and interface development and maintenance, promoting and archiving. The revenue model that is currently being followed to cover these costs is subscription, or what has been called “reader page charges”.

Other models that we can start playing with are:

  • free access after an embargo period: for those who want content immediately charge, but after a while the content can be made freely available…
  • author page charges: charge authors for the content
  • institutional, governmental and vested agency payment: many argument for open content in the academic domain argue that taxpayers have already paid for government funded work through taxes, so the results should be freely available
  • advertising: arguably the model that drives much of the internet
  • sponsorship is another possibility: this could be issue-based sponsorship or section-based sponsorship….

So the question is, what does open content mean for a magazine like interactions?

What are your views? Are you someone who would/do pay for the subscription, who would pay to download the articles…. do you have artful suggestions for business models not explored in this brief article? Please share your thoughts below!

Comment.  Many subscription journals are thinking through the same question as interactions, a journal on the interactions between people and technology published by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).  But I haven’t seen another journal open the question to its readership.  Kudos to the interactions editors, and the ACM, for taking this open approach.

Update.  Also see co-author Mark Vanderbeeken’s blog post on the article, which quotes some dialog between Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko, the journal’s two editors in chief:

Jon: …It could be argued that interactions magazine should cost money because the content in it is worth something: The content has value. I suppose it could also be argued that the magazine should be free so that value can be shared by the masses. To which argument do you subscribe?

Richard: Neither. The content in interactions is worth something – it has great value, but that alone doesn’t mean that the magazine should cost money. And though you and I are working to broaden the scope and readership of the magazine, it isn’t intended for the masses, and it can be argued that we can extend the reach of the magazine more effectively if it does cost money. Open access to interactions content might become appropriate. Indeed, we’ve already begun to increase access in a couple of ways….

More on ZooBank

Splitters and Lumpers: why planet Earth needs taxonomists, AFP, August 31, 2008.  Excerpt:

…Today many biologists are clamouring for a new approach to cataloging the planet’s flora and fauna that goes beyond morphology and takes evolution into account.

A dozen competing theories have cropped up in the last decade, and at least one of them, called PhyloCode, has gained serious traction.

In other scientific disciplines, new ideas elbowing out old ones is a normal and essential process. But in taxonomy, renewal poses a special problem: how can you replace plant and animal names used for two-and-a-half centuries without causing chaos? …

In an effort to catapult the current classification system into the 21st century, a number of taxonomists have launched Zoobank, a Web-based [OA] registry of organism names. Some 1.8 million species are listed so far.

"The registry will be the central place where everyone can go look to see what is going on in the rest of the world," said [Richard Pyle, a zoologist and fish specialist at the Bishop Museum in Hawaii, and an officer in the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN)], who described it as the "most profound change in taxonomy since Linnaeus."

But even this seemingly common-sense step has created controversy, pitting advocates of Internet-based, openaccess publishing against traditional and powerful publishers.

Under the current system, a new species does not officially exist until the scientific report of its discovery appears in print.

PS:  For background, see our past posts on ZooBank.

Image search engine starts with images in OA articles

Songhua Xu, James McCusker, and Michael Krauthammer, Yale Image Finder (YIF): a new search engine for retrieving biomedical images, Bioinformatics, July 9, 2008.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Abstract:   Yale Image Finder (YIF) is a publicly accessible search engine featuring a new way of retrieving biomedical images and associated papers based on the text carried inside the images. Image queries can also be issued against the image caption, as well as words in the associated paper abstract and title. A typical search scenario using YIF is as follows: a user provides few search keywords and the most relevant images are returned and presented in the form of thumbnails. Users can click on the image of interest to retrieve the high resolution image. In addition, the search engine will provide two types of related images: those that appear in the same paper, and those from other papers with similar image content. Retrieved images link back to their source papers, allowing users to find related papers starting with an image of interest. Currently, YIF has indexed over 140 000 images from over 34 000 open access biomedical journal papers.

Comment.  The OA connection here is that YIF populated its index by harvesting OA papers at PubMed Central.  It might have been able to index the papers at TA journals.  But it would either have had to pay for access or use prepaid university access and risk running afoul of at least one of the dozens or hundreds of applicable licensing agreements.  This is a good example of how OA can free up users for innovative uses.

NIH takes two OA DNA databases offline to protect patient privacy

Jason Felch, DNA databases blocked from the public, Los Angeles Times, August 29, 2008.  Excerpt:

The National Institutes of Health quietly blocked public access to [formerly OA] databases of patient DNA profiles after learning of a study that found the genetic information may not be as anonymous as previously believed….

Institute officials took the unusual step Monday and removed two databases on its public website. The databases contained the genetic information of more than 60,000 cooperating patients. Scientists began posting the information publicly eight months ago to help further medical research.

Creators of the databases had taken steps to mask the identities of the patients….However, the independent study released today reported that a new type of DNA analysis could confirm the identity of an individual in a pool of similarly masked data if that person’s genetic profile was already known….

"It’s possible, but the likelihood is quite low" that a patient’s privacy could have been violated, said Dr. Elizabeth Nable, head of the institute’s genetic oversight body, in an interview Thursday evening. "We wanted to err on the side of caution." …

Researchers favor public access to large pools of such data to speed the pace of medical innovation, but the privacy and public policy implications of such moves are still being understood.

Most patients in the databases signed consent forms after being promised their information would remain private….

JISC Scholarly Communications Group modifies its plans for OA

The JISC Scholarly Communications Group revised the description of its mission today, including the way it described its plans for OA.

From the previous edition:

…[To] identify the desirable characteristics of an ideal open access system, addressing both the deficiencies of the existing system and optimising the opportunities that the digital age enables….

From the new edition:

…To identify the desirable characteristics of the scholarly communication system, addressing both the deficiencies of the existing system, considering the behavioural factors which drive scholarly communication, and optimising the opportunities that the digital age enables;

To establish an evidence base for desirable models (including but not exclusively Open Access) that would be valuable to the community, taking into account disciplinary differences; …

Medical Journals: adding value to primary content

With primary research literature becoming increasingly accessible through a variety of channels, the role of the traditional journal is being called into question. Many journals are developing features to interpret or supplement their primary content. This seminar will present examples of some successful developments and will help delegates consider what might be suitable for their own journals.

An OA chemical database for document searching

Antony Williams, Chemistry Document Markup and Free Access Structure-Based Searching of Publications, ChemSpider Blog, August 29, 2008.

… A lot of effort is being expended in “text-mining” publications, post-publication, to index these articles and make them searchable not only by text but by the specific language of chemistry, chemical structures. …

We are considering a system whereby authors are asked to contribute to the availability of a free online service for performing structure and substructure-based searches of chemistry articles. While the submission of journal articles is already a lot of work … we hope that authors will support a service whereby they can upload their own articles to a “validation and mark-up service”. …

The result of this project will be a way for publishers to link their articles directly to a free access chemistry database and use a series of web services to enable other capabilities (to be defined). It will also allow articles in Open Access and non-Open Access publications to searchable by the “language of chemistry”. …

We are also going to provide a Microsoft Word add-on which will allow users to prepare articles for publishing using similar technologies. …

Notes from Kyrgyz OA conference

Iryna Kuchma, “Open Access and Web 2.0: Improving the scientific communications” workshop, eIFL, August 28, 2008.

On August 2-3, 2008 Kyrgyzstan Library Information Consortium in collaboration with eIFL.net and American University of Central Asia organized the workshop “Open Access and Web 2.0: Improving the scientific communications” for Kyrgyz librarians. Seminar presentations (all in Russian) are here.

The Kyrgyzstan Libraries Information Consortium coordinates open access projects in Kyrgyzstan. Among them [are] a pilot open repository in the American University of Central Asia, [and] a national open repository for ETDs (CRAD) … There are plans to enrich this repository with any scholarly content materials not only from Kyrgyzstan but also from Central Asia. This new shared open repository for Central Asia will be discussed at the 9-th International conference “Issyk Kul 2008: Libraries and democratization of society”, that will take place on the 1st to 5th of October 2008 in Kyrgyzstan.

Among other plans: launching Open Access declaration in Kyrgyzstan to encourage the funders of the research to mandate open access, … creating a directory of open access scholarly content in Russian language, publishing and disseminating advocacy kits in Russian language about open access for scientists, scholars and students, creating intellectual property policies in research institutions to support open access self-archiving, …

Open Access was also presented at the BarCamp Central Asia 2008 – the first non-conference [sic] of such kind in Central Asia (the presentation in Russian is here) that took place the same days – August 2-3, 2008 in the American University of Central Asia. …