Thursday, October 24, 2013

Open Access and Authors' Rights

Today’s post will focus on -- and direct you to -- information regarding Open Access and authors’ rights. The OA movement seeks to not only capitalize on the diminished barriers to distribution (thanks to the Internet) but also to empower scholars to gain greater control over the content they publish. This empowerment can be done through an Open Access mandate or deposit requirement policies at institutions, though as we saw yesterday, these measures can have a negative impact on younger scholars. The other means of empowering authors is simply through increased education and advocacy.

Here’s a remarkable but perhaps not widely known fact: 70% of journal publishers allow you make some form of your article available online for free. This number includes proprietary publishers as well as Open Access ones. That’s a pretty high percentage, but what exactly does that mean? How restrictive is “some form of your article”? And where can you make your article available anyway?

If a publisher’s agreement from a proprietary publisher allows you to archive some form of your article, that agreement will specify whether it is the pre-print (the version of the article before it enters the peer review process) or the post-print (the accepted version of the article following the peer review process) that can be archived and made freely available. Information regarding the self-archiving policies of thousands of journals can be found at SHERPA/RoMEO, a comprehensive database from the University of Nottingham that lays out these policies in a very straightforward, easy-to-understand manner. This database complements the work done by Open Access journals, helping to clarify if an author has the right to make her published article freely available. Typically, the means to delivering articles are distinguished, in OA parlance, by color: “gold” refers to OA journals and “green” for archived OA content, either through an institutional/subject repository or on an author’s own website.

If you are interested in publishing your article with an Open Access journal, you should be aware that there are a variety of business models that make these journals free. For a window onto these models, I defer to Peter Suber:

OA journals pay their bills very much the way broadcast television and radio stations do: those with an interest in disseminating the content pay the production costs upfront so that access can be free of charge for everyone with the right equipment. Sometimes this means that journals have a subsidy from a university or professional society. Sometimes it means that journals charge a publication fee on accepted articles, to be paid by the author or the author's sponsor (employer, funding agency). OA journals that charge publication fees usually waive them in cases of economic hardship. OA journals with institutional subsidies tend to charge no publcation fees. OA journals can get by on lower subsidies or fees if they have income from other publications, advertising, priced add-ons, or auxiliary services. Some institutions and consortia arrange fee discounts. Some OA publishers (such as BMC and PLoS) waive the fee for all researchers affiliated with institutions that have purchased an annual membership.”

In addition, Suber notes that in the majority of cases (88%) the “author fee” is paid not by the author but by the author’s funder or employer. Or it is waived entirely. And, though the publication fee model has been abused by a number of predatory journals, red flags should not be raised if you are asked by an OA journal for payment in order to publish.

Resources such as Beall’s list of predatory journals, SHERPA/RoMEO, and SPARC provide excellent information for authors and provide very necessary advocacy for authors’ rights. But education and advocacy hardly stops there. Many libraries (like, lots and lots and lots and lots of ‘em) offer in-depth guides to help their institutions’ faculty and researchers navigate the maze of authors’ rights and to educate them about OA. On top of this, many universities include Offices of Scholarly Communication (or some similar body) that perform the necessary work to ensure that their stakeholders understand their rights as authors and help develop comprehensive publishing policies for their institution.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Happy Halloween

                     Halloween Display and Trick or Treating!

  •  What a great time of year! The leaves are changing , the temperature is getting cooler, and it is time to carve some pumpkins for Halloween. In preparation for Halloween, we have gathered some real gems from our collection about ghosts, witches, magic, black cats, and all things scary and put them on display. We hope you can take a moment and check it out.

  • Come by the Miller Information Commons on Thursday, October 31 from 2-9 and grab some cider and yummy treats. We will also have special Halloween buttons for you to take.All of us at the Miller Information Commons wish you a safe and Happy Halloween
                                 Happy Hauntings!

Open Access -- a pipe dream?

Yesterday, we left off on a high note. Seemingly every stakeholder involved -- from authors to audience, institutions to commercial publishers -- are supportive of Open Access in one form or another. However, Open Access has yet to become the law of the land. What’s the hold up? Could it be that Open Access too good to be true?

While Open Access has many advocates it has garnered a fair amount of skepticism within the scholarly community. Perhaps the biggest bombshell to land on the movement fell just three weeks ago.In the journal Science, a report by biologist and journalist John Bohannon revealed that a faked scientific paper, riddled with intentional errors, had been accepted by over 150 Open Access publications, representing more than a 50% success rate with his submissions. This caused an immediate uproar among the OA community, with many commentators jumping to the defense of OA and questioning the validity of Bohannon’s study. And while it’s true that there is much to quibble over about how Bohannon conducted the study, it highlights some vulnerabilities of the OA movement.

The strongest indictment from Bohannon’s article -- and the one leveled against OA most often -- is of the lax peer-review methods of OA journals. Peer-review is an essential mechanism for ensuring the quality of published articles, but it can also a real drag on getting new research out to readers as quickly as possible. Many proponents of OA are looking to alternatives to the traditional peer review process (rather than getting rid of peer review wholesale) to speed up publication and to rethink how peer review shapes what is and is not available to researchers.

In Bohannon’s study, he says in many instances his article was accepted with no sign of peer review. The biggest culprits were so-called “predatory” journals, journals that are set up to take advantage of the “Gold” OA model, which asks authors (or the institutions they work for) to pay a fee for publication. These predatory journals are certainly bogus, and informing authors of the traps laid across the OA landscape by them is imperative. To say that there are bad OA journals out there is nothing new. In fact, to say that there are junky, predatory journals of any kind is a conversation that’s been happening for decades now. However, predatory journals have certainly received a great deal of attention within OA, and Science’s major “expose” is certain to stir up much conversation, probably not all of a positive kind.

In addition to questions regarding the quality of OA journals, many have begun to question if they are best served by publishing OA. As mentioned yesterday, concerns over promotion, tenure, academic freedom, and the like, play an important role in the debate surrounding Open Access. For young scholars, these matters are often out of their hands. Which is to say that if they wish to enjoy the benefits of promotion, etc., they will likely have to play by the rules of the body that grants them. The criteria for promotion will vary from institution to institution, but many worry that OA publishing is looked upon with distrust or skepticism. And many young faculty-members, some of whom would plant their flag firmly in the OA camp, must sacrifice their philosophical stance in deference to the demands of their career (or vice-versa, as the case may be). Alongside this, some are casting a skeptical eye towards mandatory electronic submission of dissertation policies found at many institutions. These policies, generated with the best of intentions for making research freely available, have begun to have unintended consequences for PhD students.  In response to concerns about the adverse effect dissertation-submission policies have on new graduates’ job placement, the American Historical Association has suggested a six year embargo for all history PhD dissertations. The AHA’s policy statement ignited a debate among academics, librarians, and administrators about the role OA plays in PhDs career advancement. Some argue that publishers are discouraged from signing on authors to revise their dissertation for publication if it is already available freely online, hindering the authors’ ability to land a teaching position. On the other side of the debate, OA advocates point to larger structural problems -- not the open availability of graduate work -- that add to new PhD’s professional struggles.

Is the system broken? Is OA nothing more than a pipe dream? Clearly not, but in order for it to move forward, it has to be done with a critical eye on the weaknesses in the OA system -- something that can be challenging when OA seems to offer such a positive alternative to the dominant proprietary landscape. I’ll wrap things up with links to two posts that take on the OA movement’s sometimes un-self-critical stance. Neither author -- J. Britt Holbrook and Diane Harley -- is an opponent of OA. However, both offer up the idea that the conversation around OA (and other alternatives to the traditional publishing cycle) might be reframed and brought to a more localized level (as opposed to the “totalizing” doctrine Holbrook sees governing the OA movement). It’s certainly food for thought as things move ahead. The traditional scholarly publishing cycle served the academy and researchers well for many years, but it shouldn’t be impervious to change. At the same time, it may not be in need of a wholescale transformation. Just a fair amount of tweaking.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What is Open Access?

“Digital technologies have created more than one kind of revolution. Let’s call this one the access revolution.” - Peter Suber*

Our celebration rolls on. But, in case you were wondering, we’re not celebrating alone! Open Access Week is an international event that for six years running has been promoting and advocating for Open Access in the academic community. The implications of Open Access are numerous and the potential beneficiaries span the globe. Our library, as well as many others, are using this week to call special attention to this phenomenon that will help shape research and scientific discourse in the years to come.

Without recounting the history of the Internet, or, for that matter, the history of scholarly communication, let’s just say it’s easier and cheaper now to share scholarly work to a worldwide audience than ever before. This new notion of access -- virtually cost-free and not limited by distance -- has transformed how we think about scholarly publishing.

The academic publishing landscape prior to the Internet depended on publishers to take on the costs associated with distributing scholars’ work. Publishers continued to serve this essential function even as work began to move online. However, improved online indexing and search capabilities as well as ever-increasing connectivity of users has provoked researchers as well as users to look for alternatives to the ever-increasing costs of proprietary online databases. Advocates of Open Access want to take advantage of these changes and share, with the consent of the author or copyright holder, literature that is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most licensing and copyright restrictions.

The primary audience for Open Access is found at academic and research institutions, but not limited to the world’s elite institutions. In fact, the goal of OA is to level off the access disparities among institutions, which can result from the high cost of databases. The impact may be minimal on a researcher at, say, Harvard, who has access to the world’s top research through the university’s numerous English language databases (English being the lingua franca of scholarship today). However, her counterpart at Manouba University in Tunisia may benefit greatly from having access to the top class work of colleagues in a number of different countries (and languages) that might otherwise be behind a paywall. Overcoming these “access gaps” can have a positive impact on scholarship in places not privileged with excess grant money or state-of-the-art facilities. At the same time, those authors who choose to make their work freely available could expect greater visibility, retrievability, usage, and impact.

Article impact is key for faculty and researchers looking for promotion, tenure, additional grant funding, and the like. This is one attractive benefit of OA for authors. In addition to this, by diminishing the barriers to distribution, this access revolution has actually granted author’s a great deal more autonomy and authority over their own content. Peter Suber, one of the OA movement’s most prominent advocates, notes that those writing scholarly works are uniquely positioned to take advantage of our current technological moment. Why is that? Well, because scholars sort of write for free (Suber, 10). This is putting things simply, but when comparing authors writing novels (for example) and those writing for academic journals, it’s important to point out that compensation for publication happens directly for the former (through advances, sales, royalties, etc) and indirectly (through academic promotion, tenure, grants, etc) for the latter. Seldom are editors, reviewers, or authors paid for their work in producing a scholarly journal. Rather, their goal, alongside advancing their careers, is to spread information and helped facilitate the pursuit of knowledge. And yet, in spite of these lofty goals, scholars often do not have full control over their work; instead, rights are typically signed over to the publisher once an article has been accepted for publication. Sounds a little crazy, but at one time it may have seemed a sensible trade-off given that a) the author had little to no expectation of profiting from that work, and b) the author had little to no means of sharing that beyond a small circle of colleagues.

Times have changed, and, slowly but surely, the scholarly publishing landscape is changing with them. In the last few years, scholars and administrators at a number of institutions have taken up the charge of Open Access. In addition, certain funding agencies have mandated that any research produced using their funds must be made openly available. Some journal publishers are even responding to these initiatives and are attempting to be more transparent about the rights authors have to their own work. How much OA will help shape traditional publishers’ models or how much these publishers will fight back against OA policies and mandates remains to be seen.

Below are a few key resources to know about if you would like more information about Open Access. And don’t forget to stop by the library, grab a button, and join the crusade!

Open Access Week: For additional information about Open Access Week, visit the event’s homepage to see what other institutions are doing to celebrate.

SPARC: SPARC is coalition of research and academic libraries whose aim is “to create a more open system of scholarly communication.” Consisting of many initiatives, SPARC is one of the most important advocate organizations for Open Access. SPARC’s “How Open Is It?” guide outlines the core components of Open Access.

DOAJ: The Directory of Open Access Journals is a comprehensive lists of all open access journals that meet the Budapest Open Access Initiative’s standards of quality. Thousands of journals, from numerous countries and covering every imaginable discipline, can be found here for free.

Sherpa/ROMEO: An excellent resource for publisher’s policies on copyright and author agreements. Lays out the different ways in which in which (pre-prints, post-print, embargoed or not) authors may archive their work from one journal to the next.

*Suber, Peter. Open Access. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2012.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Welcome to Open Access Week at the MIC!

Welcome to Open Access Week! This week, the library will be highlighting the role that Open Access (OA) plays in the scholarly community, what OA resources are available for both student and faculty use, and what the future holds for resource sharing for colleges, universities, and other research institutions.

Check back each day this week for additional information about Open Access. And be sure to grab a button  (and an informative handout) on your next visit to the library.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October New Books!

Our new books for October are on display at the Champlain Library! There are titles on topics from business and neuroscience to poetry and race including these titles:

Stop by and check 'em out today, or browse the full list of titles online!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

godbox: Art on Display at the Library

godbox by Chris Thompson
  • Can algorithms be art?
  • How have recent discoveries in neurology changed our concept of freewill?
  • Can the vernacular of video games and data-visualization be used as an artistic medium?
  • What is the difference between an artwork and a scientific experiment?


On display in the Champlain College Library, godbox, a hybrid artwork-scientific experiment examines how recent discoveries in neurology are changing our notion of free will.  It uses software algorithms to evoke involuntary reactions in viewers by stimulating three distinct levels of cognitive perception. The artificial swarming flies ability to cause a sense of revulsion, relies on subconscious pattern recognition processes occurring in the reptilian portion of the brain.  Likewise, when patterns of social interaction between flies emerge from the complexity activity occurring on the table— groupings, attraction, sex, birth, death—our limbic system’s obsession with social behavior is stimulated.  Finally, if individual flies appear to exhibit unusual behavior, venture beyond their environment and encounter and overcome obstacles  it could be our cerebral cortex’s desire to organize patterns of behavior into structured narratives.

Employing artificial intelligence algorithms, and complex systems theory, godbox, probes the “hyperactive pattern recognition machine” that is the human mind. Like the evolutionary neurology research that inspired it, godbox challenges fundamental beliefs including our notions of love, religion, culture and individuality. 

The Technology

godbox is a custom hardware and software simulation written in the Java based, Processing programming framework, using ReactiVision’s multi-touch, fiducial object recognition software libraries.  It is based upon the same technology as Microsoft’s $10,000 Surface touch table, but much, much cheaper. It employs infrared led light sources and a hacked PS2 camera to capture reflections of objects on the table surface invisible to the human eye, through a technique known as Frustrated Total Internal Reflection (FTIR).

About the artist

Christopher Thompson is a second year graduate student in Champlain College’s Emergent Media MFA program. Previously he was curator of Burlington’s BCA Contemporary Art Center. Prior to that he served as Chief Technology Officer at Gardener Supply Corp and Advanced Technology Director at Jager Di Paola Kemp Design.


Special thanks to the Core Division and the Champlain College Library for sponsoring this exhibit.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New Yorker cartoons now in ArtSTOR!

Fun news:  Our campus license to ARTSTOR now includes access to 2,000 New Yorker cartoons!  

To get to ArtSTOR, use the library website at, and choose the "Article Databases" link at the middle of the screen, then choose Art & Design or look under "A" for ArtSTOR.  Enjoy!