Addressing the Alarming Systems of Surveillance Built By Library Vendors – SPARC

“On April 2nd, news broke that RELX subsidiary LexisNexis signed a multi-million dollar contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to reporting on the ICE contract by the Intercept, LexisNexis’ databases “offer an oceanic computerized view of a person’s existence” and will provide the agency with “the data it needs to locate people with little if any oversight.” 

While this contract may be new, it is just the latest development in an alarming trend that SPARC is following. Two major library vendors—RELX and Thomson Reuters—have been building sophisticated, global systems of surveillance that include online tracking technologies, massive aggregation of user data, and the sale of services based on this tracking, including to governments and law enforcement. 

Dollars from library subscriptions, directly or indirectly, now support these systems of surveillance. This should be deeply concerning to the library community and to the millions of faculty and students who use their products each day and further underscores the urgency of privacy protections as library services—and research and education more generally—are now delivered primarily online. …

As alarming as these surveillance technologies are in their own right, they may already be crossing into academic products. Surveillance researcher Wolfie Christl has reported ThreatMetrix tracking code is now embedded in the ScienceDirect website, raising serious questions about what patron information is being collected and toward what purposes….

The Library Freedom Project’s Vendor Privacy Scorecard highlights the many privacy concerns across a wide selection of library vendors….”

A Letter to Thompson Reuters – ASCB

“In April 2013, some of the original signers of DORA [Declaration on Research Assessment] wrote to executives at Thomson Reuters to suggest ways in which it might improve its bibliometric offerings. Suggestions included replacing the flawed and frequently misused two-year Journal Impact Factor (JIF) with separate JIFs for the citable reviews and for the primary research article content of a journal; providing more transparency in Thomson Reuters’ calculation of JIFs; and publishing the median value of citations per citable article in addition to the JIFs. Thomson Reuters acknowledged receipt of the letter and said, “We are carefully reviewing all the points raised and will respond as soon as possible.”…”

The presence of High-impact factor Open Access… | Barbaro | JLIS.it

[Abstract] The present study means to establish to what extent high-quality open access journals are available as an outlet for publication, by examining their distribution in different scientific disciplines, including the distribution of those journals without article processing charges. The study is based on a systematic comparison between the journals included in the DOAJ, and the journals indexed in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) Science edition 2013, released by Thomson Reuters. The impact factor of Open Access (OA) journals was lower than those of other journals by a small but statistically significant amount. Open access journals are present in the upper quartile (by impact factor) of 85 out of 176 (48.8%) categories examined. There were no OA journals with an Impact Factor in only 16 categories (9%).