London Day 11: New Publishing Models and Their Discontents

Screen Shot, Ubiquity Press Home Page
Screen Shot, Ubiquity Press Home Page

This morning, we had a rather spirited discussion on open access and various other publishing business models. We keep coming back to the same ones: the traditional subscription model, which often results in readers not being able to afford access to read journals; the author-pays model, which potentially flips the situation such that some authors may not be able to afford to publish in journals, and various models in which publishing activities are subsidized by various governments, trusts, or other sources, which is sustainable as the long as the source is both willing and able to continue to supply the funds.

There are also various attempts to reduce disparity, in which access for institutions and researchers who cannot afford it is subsidized in some way, either by institutions who can or by another funding source, which unfortunately are not a cure-all, especially for institutions and researchers who find themselves not meeting the criteria for subsidized access, but not able to afford access on their own.

As the entire discussion seemed to revolve around solely academic researchers, I asked around, and nobody seems aware of much research done on the ways various publishing models impact those researchers who aren’t affiliated with an academic institution.

After this, we had a presentation by Caroline Wilkinson of Ubiquity Press, a researcher-led publisher of open access academic books and journals. One of the models they’re experimenting with is the metajournal, which contains data papers, as well as papers for research products such as software. The data paper includes a DOI and information about the dataset, which is not published as part of the journal, but rather archived elsewhere in a repository. Wilkinson acknowledged that this isn’t so much a new and unique thing, but rather a way to fit data publication into the traditional model of academic publishing and citation with which researchers are familiar, and for which they are traditionally rewarded. Ubiquity is not the only publisher trying the data paper model, and I’m interested to see if this sort of attempt to fit data sharing into traditional research communication patterns will ultimately be successful. Unfortunately, conditions in the room made it difficult to hear the entire presentation, but I’ve signed up to receive more information about Ubiquity’s various efforts online.

After an extremely hot bus ride, as London is in the middle of an unusual heat wave, we finished the day at Elsevier, where we heard presentations on a variety of products, including Library Connect for librarians and Publishing Campus for early career researchers.

These seem to be similar to what Bloomsbury is attempting to do with the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, offering free content and building community, only here not around a specific product, but around Elsevier as a publisher. I am hoping to get more information about how people in the targeted communities are currently using these resources, or even if they are in substantial numbers, especially as I realized at some point during the presentation that I had actually heard of Library Connect back in my practitioner days, but can’t remember if I ever signed up for the newsletter or visited the site at any point.

Supplementary: Yes, it does actually get that hot on London public transportation.

To read:
The Battle for Open: How Openness Won and Why It Doesn’t Feel Like Victory, Martin Weller (open access book about open access from Ubiquity Press)

London Day 11: New Publishing Models and Their Discontents

London Day 9: Sharing, Data and (Lack of) Digital Preservation

King's College London, Strand Campus
King’s College London, Strand Campus

This morning began with a presentation by Carol Tenopir, adapted from one given earlier this week to Elsevier, on article and research data sharing. This was followed by a presentation by Graham Patron from CEDA (listed on their website as the Centre for Environmental Data Archival, but according to our speaker, recently changed or in the process of changing to the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis) on data and data centers.

Some takeaways from the morning:

  • There is a strong culture of “bootleg” sharing of academic articles.
  • Discipline continues to be the biggest predictor of sharing behavior.
  • There is an emerging change in behavior in that people are beginning to cite versions of articles other than the published version of record.
  • Article sharing is seen as a positive good by researchers. This contrasts with research done on data sharing, in which “sharing” and “reuse” are often seen as dirty words.
  • In the case of data, we may need to separate preservation from access.
  • What is needed is not just repositories that can provide access to data, but a variety of other services for accessing and interpreting data, including support for both search and browsability, persistent identifiers, and peer review of data sets.
  • There is an argument to be made for keeping even bad data–for example, after an article has been retracted–so that it is available and discoverable by other researchers.
  • While we talk a lot about ensuring the persistence and stability of data sets, there seems to be no long-term funding models that ensure the persistence and stability of data centers themselves, and possibly no agreement on whose role and responsibility this is.

The afternoon was spent at the National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum. We were allowed to tour the library itself, as well as see some of its impressive collections, including some very old arts books. Unlike the British Library, the NAL proved to be an example of an institution that is not taking much advantage of digital technology, either for preservation or for collection access. According to our guides, this is primarily due to a lack of resources, including both lack of funding and lack of staff for digitization activities. It may also be the case that much of this difference could also be attributed to differences in library missions and priorities, but it was difficult to tell from our brief tour.

After this, we had a bit of time before the museum closed in which we were able to tour the exhibits before we went home. My favorite: What Is Luxury?, which served as a reminder that the definition of luxury changes with culture and technology, and brought to mind a discussion during a recent trip to New Mexico in which someone pointed out that we could again enter an era in which paper books would fit into this category.

London Day 9: Sharing, Data and (Lack of) Digital Preservation