Monday, March 22, 2010

Proposals for Australian Research Publishing

This is to propose the Australian Computer Society (ACS) use its ACS Digital Library for free open source publishing of research material. The existing journals and conference publications should be incorporated into the library, made freely available and in paper format by subscription. The aim should be to make the publications profitable and self sustaining, so that new publications can be created. While I have previously been director of publications and chair of the ACS scholarly publications committee, these views are expressed as an ordinary member of the ACS.

ACS Publishing Background

The ACS produces three research publications:

  1. Conferences in Research and Practice in Information Technology (CRPIT),
  2. Australasian Journal of Information Systems (AJIS),
  3. Journal of Research and Practice in Information Technology (JRPIT) .

These are available online as free open source publications, via the ACS Digital Library. JRPIT is the oldest of these, having been created in 2000 by renaming the Australian Computer Journal, which had been published by the Australian Computer Society continuously since November 1967 (making it one of the oldest computer journals in the world).

These publications are all peer reviewed, so as to meet standards for academic publishing. However, they try to maintain a balance between articles that are of interest both to practising information technology professionals and to university and industry researchers. In particular, ACS has encouraged papers that report on activities that have successfully connected fundamental and applied research with practical application. Some publications have more emphasis on emerging research and others on professional practice.

Current production processes

While the publications are available via a digital library, only AJIS has all papers indexed in the library and is created using the library software. JRPIT and CRPIT are developed and indexed using separate production processes and software. JRPIT is provided on paper free to members on request and to subscribers. CRPIT is provided in bulk on paper to the relevant conference for distribution to delegates and by subscription.

During my term as Director of Publications and chair of scholarly publishing, web sites were set up for JPRIT and then for the newly established CRPIT. The designs of these publications were standardised, with the aim of using the same online support system later and being able to use print-on-demand for paper copies. Later the ACS digital library was created using the open source Open Journal Systems (OJS) software. The aim was to have all the publications placed in the library. AJIS was the first, and so far only, publication in the library. In 2006 I described the process to provide "Quality e-Publishing Support for the ICT Profession" at several events.

Later the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) expressed interest in having a digital library. For the ACS I cloned the ACS DL, using the same OJS software to create the IFIP Digital Library. After configuring OJS for IFIP, I handed over maintenance of the system to the Australian National University, under contract to the ACS.

Problems with the current process

Production of JRPIT is time consuming and expensive. Currently the production process of requesting reviews and producing papers is done manually. In addition paper production is done via traditional, production processes. CRPIT is less of a problem, as the editorial process is carried out by the conference organisers and there is bespoke software to handle online distribution. AJIS is produced using the OJS software used for the ACS Digital Library, but suffers from limited support as this is the only journal using the system.

Some Publishing Insights

After several years experimenting with publishing systems, teaching it to students at the ANU, and implementing systems for ACS, several points have become reasonably clear:

  1. Journals and conferences can use the same process: While journals and conferences have different aims, the academic papers published from the look very much the same and be produced and distributed using the same online support system. The developers of OJS modified it to produce Online Conference Systems (OCS). But for an organisation producing a series of conference publications (not just one), each conference can be treated essentially as a journal volume. For this reason I chose to use OJS to support the IFIP DL, even though it contains conference proceedings, not journals.
  2. Administration costs can be lowered with automation: Much of the time an effort with publishing is taken up with keeping track of drafts and reviewers comments. This process has been automated by the OJS software and saves a lot of time and effort, especially where this work has been done by volunteers or scarce academic staff. The automated system produces a better result, never forgetting to remind an author, or reviewer that their material is due and keeping track of their response times.
  3. No one cares about paper: There is no requirement to produce paper publications in order to meet academic standards. The standards are based on the content, not what format they are in. It is useful to have paper copies of publications available for marketing purposes and for those who want them. But when shown the cost of paper production, most people opt for an electronic copy. In practice you only need one paper copy to show people it is a real publication, they will then happily use the cheaper electronic version.
  4. Open Access works: Making publications freely avialable considerably increases the readership of the material.
  5. Location Doesn't Matter: Producing "Australian" publications in the online age makes little sense. People from around the world are happy to publish in JRPIT. With the advent of online conferences, they will be happy to take part. What matters is the reputation of the editorial team, the timeliness and rapid production of the publication.
  6. You can sell and give away the same thing: Professional organisations do not aim to make money from their publications, but can aim to at least cover costs. It is possible to give away publications online and still sell paper copies and special compilations. Also academic conferences publishing provides a useful "author pays" model.

Proposed solution: use online production and distribution

  1. Retain current publications, with current names and editorial policies,
  2. Lower the cost by using the ACS Digital Library for production of JRPIT and CRPIT (as is done by AJIS),
  3. Cancel free paper distribution to members of JRPIT,
  4. Retain paper distribution to subscribers of JRPIT and CRPIT, (increasing the charges, if needed to cover the cost)
  5. Introduce POD (Print on Demand) to allow automated sales of one off copies of any of the publications.
  6. Investigate ebook formats for distribution of publications.
  7. Investigate electronic conferences, where delegates provide a podcast presentation and enter into an online discussion, instead of meeting in person. The OJS system already supports includsion of multimedia material, but its discussion facilitites may need suplimenting with something like the Mahara system used for ACS education.
ACS can first transfer JRPIT over to the production process used by AJIS, then CRPIT and lastly consider the development of new publications. This will require enhancements to the current system.

On a recent visit to Australia, Richard Charkin (Executive Director of Bloomsbury Publishing, London) pointed out that academic publishing had traditionally been very profitable and argued that it still could be. Richard also showed how Bloomsbury was now providing free online copies of academic books, as well as selling paper copies. Therefore I suggest ACS aim to make scholarly publishing self sustaining and profitable by 2015.

There may also be the opportunity for support from the Australian Government. As the Minister for Education has pointed out, education is now Australia’s third largest source of overseas earnings, at $15.5 billion in 2008 and supporting 125,000 jobs. Australia's ability to attract students is, in part, dependent on being seen as a place where there is excellence in research, particularly in the technical disciplines popular with the Indian and Chinese markets. Having both technical and professional papers published online and accessible from the computer screen of people in India and China (and published in by people in India and China) will help keep Australian educators credible.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Academic papers and citations

One of the tertiary institutions I teach at is applying for accreditation, so I have to submit a CV. The CV template asks for a publication and citation counts. While I have written a couple of books and dozens of articles, I have never worried if these count for academic purposes. I am not a career academic (only an adjunct) and receive no payment for research publications. So I entered "nil" on the form.

That looked a bit poor, so I thought I should look to see if I had written some papers which counted or had been cited by some formal papers (given that thouadns of people read my web site each day I assume someone must mention it somewhere). A search of Google Scholar listed one of my books:

[BOOK] Green Technology Strategies: Using Computers and Telecommunications … [HTML]
T Worthington - 2009 -
This book is about how to reduce carbon emissions and achieve other environmental benefits
by using computers and telecommunications technology. It is designed to be used within an
online course for profes- sionals, using mentored and collaborative learning techniques. ...
There were also 24 citations of my web pages in schollarly web pages:
Unfortunately none of these appear to count for academic purposes.

Eventually someone suggested the "H-index" which lead me to a reference to "Web of Knowledge". A search of that shows one paper:
Source: AUSTRALIAN COMPUTER JOURNAL Volume: 27 Issue: 1 Pages: 16-16 Published: FEB 1995

Times Cited: 0

Presumably none of the other publications which cited me were formal papers and so do not count. But one paper is better than none.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Google advertising campaign to sell green ebook

Prompted by a free voucher from Google, I started an AdWords web based advertising campaign for my "Green Technology Strategies" book. I set the campaign for $7.50 a day for a week and left it to Google's system to work out how many ads to put where (except none on my own web site). The result was 1,119 ads placed on average position of 4.1 (that is forth down in a list of ads), with Google's system automatically bidding US$1.39 per ad.

The result was only one "click" on the ad, at a cost of 50 US cents. There were no sales of the product advertised.

Admittedly, I set AdWords a tough challenge by trying to sell the most expensive, slowest to deliver hardback edition of the book (cheap instant ebooks sell best).

While this was a failure for book sales, I seemed to get more direct leads about my consulting business. It would appear that companies read the ad, did not buy the book, but thought "he wrote a book and so must be an expert on the topic, lets contact him".

Starting by running an advertising campaign which lasts a week is a good idea, as this will coincide with the tips Google sends you. Each week they send new advertuisers a mail message about one page long with some suggestions. The one tis week for me was on "Top tips for great keywords:

A great keyword is:

  • Ideally, 2-3 words long
  • Specific (keywords that are too broad or general will not reach users as effectively as keywords that are highly targeted)
  • Directly related to the text in your ad
  • Directly related to the page your ad links to (specified by the destination URL) ...
Apart from being a useful technique which educators could emulate, these email messages are very useful marketing. Promoted by this I started a new campaign, linking to the eBook, rather than the print edition:
Green Technology eBook
Computers can reduce energy use.
As used by leading universities.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Publishing round table National Library of Australia

Greetings from the National Library of Australia. Colin Steele organised a round table with Richard Charkin, Executive Director of Bloomsbury Publishing, London. There were 26 people present, about one third from the library, a third from the ANU and the rest from federal government agencies and universities.

Richard, who I met in the library's cafe on the way in, is talking at forums in Melbourne and Sydney. Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research talked at the forum yesterday. In his speech "THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION: PUBLISHING IN THE 21ST CENTURY". He announced a book industry support group. The group has not been set up and its composition and role is unclear. Richard commented that the Minister seemed to be making it up as he was speaking.

Richard talked about Bloomsbury's role in publishing educational and scientific materials with "
Bloomsbury Academic". He talked about the tradition business model of publishing, with the separate roles of publishers and book stores. Publishers became more specialised an online delivery became available twenty years ago with Dialog and the like. There were also early CD-ROM books, such as the BBC Domesday Project. The point of this was that e-publishing is not new. One example was the spell check program based on a traditional paper dictionary. One large e-publishing effort was the Oxford English Dictionary.

Large digital scholarly publishing started around 1993 and was largely complete in five years. Scientific journals were traditionally published as a record: to be written, not read. Computer based systems allow the material to be easily searched. The science publisher's staff were scientifically trained and so comfortable with computers. Because the publisher had rights to re-purpose the material allowed for new databases, which Richard argued was a good thing (although in other ways publishers may have too much power). The last link in the chain were the university librarians, who were comfortable with digital materials.

Richard commented that scientific publishing has been very profitable for hundreds of years. The profit was an enabler for digitising publishing. Also university library budgets for subscriptions is a source of funds. He claimed that scientific publishing is now 99% digital. For leading journals, such as "Nature" all submissions are now digital. The print journal is now a sideline.

Book publishers are now being sucked into the maelstrom of electronic publishing. Book publishing is incredibly complicated (something I discovered recently with my new book "
Green Technology Strategies").

Unlike scientific papers, format matters for scholarly books and there are many different complex formats. The rights to books are very complex, with rights for different territories and in different languages. Some of the rights are unclear, as for example, is Hong Kong an "Open Market". A publisher might have the paper rights, but not digital rights, or may have the rights, but have agreed a royalty. This makes the metadata for the rights difficult to encode. Calculating royalties can be difficult when the book is available in different formats and modes, such as subscription.

Richard commented that the fear of book piracy may be more of an issue than piracy itself. There is also a fear of e-book sales cannibalising paper book sales. He also commented on the Macmillan verses pricing issue. With
Amazon Kindle e-books, he commented that the commercial arrangements were confidential (I see this as similar to software licences).

Richard said that many Kindle book sales are to regional areas and less developed nations. He speculated this was a new market of people who previously had difficulty getting access to books. There is a large market for English language books outside English speaking countries. I assume this is particularly the case for technical and scientific works, where English is the language of the discipline (such as Computer Science).

There are frustrations and delays with e-publishing still. This will require new systems and clarification of rights. Richard used the example of the Kindle edition of my book of what is possible, which took only 12 hours to be distributed.

There is needed a new emphasis on marketing of material. Also global agreements on copyright is needed. Richard argued copyright is workable and Creative Commons is an example of how it can be adapted to new needs.

He suggested that academic publishers need to de-specialise, so they find a new wider market.

Post Harry Potter, Richard decided to build Bloomsbury's academic publishing, with
Bloomsbury Academic. He commented that a fiction book goes through 25 intermediaries before publishing, making it difficult to make a profit. The academic publishing process has many fewer steps.

Net Neutrality by Christopher MarsdenBloomsbury set up " Bloomsbury Academic" which has adopted the Creative Commons licence, with "vanilla text" versions online for free, as well as selling e-book and print editions. I was surprised that a credible publisher had taken this innovative step and more surprised that I had not heard about it. I had a quick browse and found at least one book of interest ("Net Neutrality" by Christopher Marsden). But Bloomsbury need to improve their web site, as I could not find a web page about the book. He aims to publish a few hundred titles in five years, an at least break even. He accepts that this new initiative will not appeal to academic authors as much as prestige publishers, but will be attractive as the books will be much widely read and have the potential to become popular. The production process has traditional editors and quality controls.

The floor was then open for questions.

The first question was about Print On Demand (POD), such as the
Espresso Book Machine at University Bookshop and Melbourne University Library. Like me, Richard has doubts about the current machines, but they have potential for the near future (next year or so). Someone then commented that US publishers don't allow POD outside the US, because the US market is so large in itself and they do not have to try too hard. Richard also commented that due to the "thirty day rule" many books are now printed in Australia (unfortunately I could not find a web pages explaining the 30 day rule).

The next question was about markets and demographics. Ricahrd commented there was little science in trade publishing and it as more a matter of passion and reading the book. It occurred to me that the sort of data you get from web sites using tools like Google Analytics could be of use.

The next question was about the ability to produce large print books on demand. It was commented that this was very useful, but expensive from
Amazon POD (but an exclusive arrangement will not be used). I produced a large print edition of my latest book, simply by increasing the paper size. he Apple iPad also got a positive mention.

The next question was composite textbooks, made from chapters out of different works. Richard responded that US style textbooks are an outdated "Oldsmobile 1996" style of working, with a long production time and large costs. He doesn't think "chunking" (taking chapters from different works) is an interesting approach. The lecturer's notes are more interesting. Textbooks are bought by students in shops, whereas digital materials are bought by libraries. He suggested university libraries might buy a e-textbook site licence and then obtain reimbursement from students. Last year at ANU I selected an e-textbook available through the library for COMP2410 and this worked fine (we aren't charging the students extra for this).

The next question was why English and Dutch academic paper publishers think they can make money, but others can't. Richard's reply was that if you subsidise the publishing it will never make money. He argued that academic publishing can make money and university should not subsidise their presses.

One question was why aren't students demanding e-textbooks? One comment was that the text is no integrated into the course and students may never read the text, electronic or on paper. Richard replied that teaching English was producing the most sophisticated e-learning systems. Another comment was that the Australian Government's new publishing intuitive did not include educational institutions, who are a large source of the content, as well as consumers. It occurred to me that the e-learning initiatives funded by the federal education department for universities (
Education Network Australia: edna ) and TAFEs (Australian Flexible Learning Framework) could be usefully combined with the publishing initiative.

Richard commented that "printers" were not now seen as a significant part of the publishing business, but with POD this could become important again: "desperate industries tend to be ahead of the curve".

Another comment was about "Learn on Demand" rather than "Print on Demand". Students want to be able to select components of courses and texts in different formats as required. It seems a shame that the publishing people in this room did not know about all the excellent work being done on exactly this by people who probly a few doors down the corridor from them.

Richard expressed doubts that Google Books would earn significant advertising revenue and was likely done out of idealism. I am trying it out, by making my book avialable on Google Books.

One person commented that academic publishing online was still largely in the format of traditional books. Also better measures than citation index was needed. It occurs to me that some of the sophisticated measures available to web publishers could be applied.

Richard commented that the business model for Apple iPad was still not clear. He also amusingly commented that the market for e-books did not seem to be mobile younger business people as expected, but actually older people who wanted to read in bed without disturbing their partner. He also commented that the limiting factor in selling books was bookshelf space at home and there may be more shelf space in India (haing seen the book store at Bandglore airport and the public library in Panjim, Goa, I can agree). There were also comments about the iPad and Knidle being too big. In 1996 I predicted a
passport size (b7) PADD device, much like the Apple iPad.

There was then a discussion of the disposable nature of mass market paperbacks, particuarly romance novels.

Richard said how he saw no books in the canteen of the British Library, only laptops. He also said how good the canteen is. This I found surprising, as on my one and only visit as a reader at the BL, I found the food at the cafe very poor (along with the poor state of maintenace of the technology in the BL, poor customer relations and poor building design).

There was then a discussion of how quickly books go out of print and general agreement that e-publishing would eliminate this.

Richard asked if books could be e-published in 12 hours, why couldn't peer review be made faster. In fact with electronic support for publishing, this can be done. The systems automatically track how ling reviewers are taking, send them reminders and monitor their performance.

One comment was that books only count slightly more than journal articles for the Australian research ranking system. So a smart academic will chop their book into about five papers to maximise their ranking.

I commented that my e-learning course ended up being a printed book as well. Richard replied that several initiatives at Nature which started out purely electronic later produced print versions which were popular.

One audience member asked that if the academic author does all the production work, then what is the publisher for? Richard responded that authors always feel there publishers are not doing enough, but they do provide production, marketing and distribution services, as well as "love". One of the audience commented that the film industry has a different arrangement. It occurred to me that the modern publisher is more like a holywood studio, which actually does little of the film production.

Bloomsbury created for the
Qatar government. Also is creating Bloomsbury Qatar Publishing Foundation for publishing educational materials and Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Journals (couldn't find their web site) to do institutional repository with open access for Education City's research output. These are non profit actives established by Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned (موزة بنت ناصر المسند‎), chairperson of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

No AdWords Sales So Far

Yesterday, promoted by a free voucher from Google, I started an AdWords web based advertising campaign for my "Green Technology Strategies" book. This did not start well, as the spell checker in my Firefox browser does not work with the forms the Google AdWords system uses. As a result I misspelled "Telchinology" in the title of the advertisement. No one is likely to buy a book from someone who misspells the title. There is no way to edit the content of an existing ad, you have to delete it and start again.

With that done, I set the campaign for $7.50 a day for a week and left it to Google's system to work out how many ads to put where (except none on my own web site). I set AdWords a tough challenge by trying to sell the most expensive, slowest to deliver hardback edition of the book. I was going to attribute a sale of e-book to the campaign, but so far the ad hasn't been through Google's review process and so can't run on web sites (and hasn't appeared on the Google search).

Google do try hard to make AdWords easy to use, but there is still a lot to learn (and for traditional marketers, a lot to unlearn).

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Large print edition of Green Technology Strategies

Green Technology StrategiesThe large print edition of Green Technology Strategies is now available. After looking at the options for large print I took the easy way out and simply enlarged the existing typeset version to A4. This increases the print 130% to 14 points. This is a bit small for a for a large print book but has the advantage that the pagination and layout are the same as the regular edition. When I revise the book I will look at changing the font used and allow for a large print edition in the basic design.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Producing a large print book

With the e-book, paperback and hardcover editions of my book "Green Technology Strategies" available, I thought I might try a Large Print edition. These books use fonts of 16 to 20 points to make them easier to read for those with limited vision.

Guidelines usually suggest a sans serif font and wider spacing for large print books. For a novel, the larger font is usually accommodated by using smaller margins, a slightly larger page and increasing the number of pages in the book. But for a textbook, the page numbering can be significant.

The largest paper size offered by LuLu's print on demand service is A4 (8.26 x 11.69 inches). My PDF typeset original is designed for U.S. Trade (6 x 9 inch) with a 11 point Times Roman font. Simply by printing on larger A4 paper will enlarge the pages 130%, increasing the font to 14 points. This is a bit small for a for a large print book. I could reduce the margins to .5 inches (the minimum for LuLu), which would allow the text to be enlarged to about 138%, or about 15 points .

Other changes would require redoing the typesetting of the book. Currently I have just one typeset version for hardback, paperback and the e-book. Some of changes could be made to this with a large print version in mind, so the one original would work for all. As an example, a slightly larger font could be used for the standard editions, such as 11.5 point (up from 11 point) and slightly larger margins (1 inch up from .79). This would allow a larger large print version wile maintaining compatibility. Others require a different typesetting for the large print edition.

Times Roman is a serif font, which is not recommended for readability for those with limited vision. LuLu provide a limited range of fonts, which those in supplied PDF documents are converted to before printing (so it is best to start with one of these). Of the LuLu supported fonts, these are sans: Arial, Tahoma and Verdana. Of these Verdana looks the most suitable as it designed for readability at small sizes. Changing the font to Ariel adds about 10 pages to the book. Verdana is more generously spaced and ads about 20 pages. Increasing the font to 16 point would increase the book to 156 pages.

It might be worth changing the font for the e-book version as well as the large print edition. In fact it might be worth reversing the usual priority, where the print edition is seen as normal, and large print and e-book versions are derived from these. A standard size print edition with 11.5 point Verdana would look a little unusual, but be very readable.

Also adding 20 pages to the book might make it more marketable, with the customer feeling they are getting more (even if what they are getting is more white space). Originally I laid the book out to minimise white space, ignoring some printing conventions (such as starting a new chapter on an odd numbered page), so it looks a little crowded. Adding more white space, a larger font and larger margins would increase the book from 114 to 172 pages (a 50% increase).

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

What is a Bath Book?

It is a little frustrating getting my book "Green Technology Strategies" into the catalogue of the National Library of Australia. First I tried sending the details, then I tried an electronic copy, a preprint and finally a few weeks ago an actual published copy handed in at the library. So far the book has not appeared in the catalog. I found it in Trove, which indicates the details came from Libraries Australia, which is run by the NLA. Also I am curious as to why it is described as a "Bath Book".

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tales of a Sydney Summer Evening

The NSW Writers' Centre was the venue for the filmmakers of Sydney to assemble for Christmas drinks last Friday night. Somehow I received an invitation as one of the Twiteraity. The centre is located in the grounds of the former Rozelle Hospital, is a sandstone building. There are beautiful grounds with flowering trees, a veranda perfect for drinks on a warm summer's night and book lined rooms. Part of the site is occupied by the Sydney College of the Arts.

It was easy to tell who were the budding actors: the younger more stylishly dressed with business cards ready at hand (one I met was a part time property speculator, who having finished their NIDA course had one a scholarship to the NY Actors School at LA). It was more difficult to tell the editors from directors and writers. People would come up with a mindful of ham and a glass or Rose and say "are you a director or editor"? It was too difficult to explain I was a computer programmer, so I settled for saying "Writer: my latest book was released last week at an event with the Prime Minister", which stuck the right tone.

After confessing to doing web design I was asked for advice by a media PR person. I confused them by recommending they get a blog, as their target audience are journalists who have no interest in pretty layout,: they just want text. I had to explain that I did useful web sites, designed to communicate information, unlike those used in the creative industries (as an example the style over substance web site of the Australian Directors Guild with markup errors, accessibility problems and incrorrectly sized images). Only later did I realise ADG was one of the hosts of the party (it would be very difficult to work this out from their web site, or discover anything at all from their web site). As well as ADG, also hosting were Australian Guild of Screen Composers (AGSC), Australian Screen Editors Guild (ASE), Australian Screen Sound Guild (ASSG) and Women in Film and Television NSW (WIFT) and the all have much better web sites than ADG.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Future of Scholarly Communication

Greetings from the National Library of Australia in Canberra, where Dr David Prosser, Director of SPARC Europe is speaking on "Open Access and the Future of Scholarly Communication: Dissemination, Prestige, and Impact". He started by talking about the political imperative for access to information, both as a right and as a way to drive the economy. Governments which fund research are demanding measures of results, which provides an impetus for open access to increase use of research output, with e-science and e-research.

Dr Prosser pointed out that the revolution of the Internet is real, with 90% of scholarly journals online. The problem is that the new technology is matched with an old business model of subscription access. In some cases, access to one paper might cost several thousand dollars, even when the author of the paper gave away their copyright for free. He talked about how the traditional paper journal is a bundle of services which can be unbundled in the online environment. He jokingly congratulated Australia for no signing the "Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities", as those who sign tend to feel they need to do no more. Examples of successful open access polices were the Welcome Trust and US NIH (Professor Larry Clarke from NIH is a keynote speaker next week at HIC09 in Canberra).

Dr Prosser criticised the Australian Research Council for not requiring open access to funded research. That policy followed a submission to the ARC by Professor Arthur Sale FACS, which I signed on behalf of the ACS (along with other organisations).

Dr Prosser speculated on new forms of scholarly publishing online, with institutional repositories being used as a source and forum, more closely integrated to research. He used NanoHub as an example. He used the analogy where academic libraries have now integrated teaching spaces (learning commons).

For the future Dr Prosser asked if papers should be designed to be machine readable, rather than human readable. He asked if they should be static, or can they be updated as new results become avialable. He asked if wikis and blogs have any long term academic value.

There is a paper "Institutional repositories and Open Access: The future of scholarly communication" (Journal of Information Services and Use, 2003) and a copy of an older presentation by Daid available online, covering many of the topics in his current Australian presentation "Open Access and the Evolving Scholarly Communication Environment":


Open Access and the Evolving Scholarly Communication Environment

David Prosser • SPARC Europe Director


SPARC Europe

Scholarly Publishing &
Academic Resources Coalition

  • Formed in 2002 following the success of SPARC (launched in 1998 by the US Association of Research Libraries)
  • Encourages partnership between libraries, academics, societies and responsible publishers
  • Originally focused on STM, but coverage expanding
  • Has over 110 members in 14 countries
  • By acting together the members can influence the future of scholarly publishing

The Effect of the Internet

  • Opportunities for expanded access and new uses offered by
    • ever-expanding networking
    • evolving digital publishing technologies and business models
  • New dissemination methods
  • Better ways to handle increasing volume of research generated
  • 90% of journals now online

The Situation Today – Dissatisfaction at Many Levels

  • Authors
    • Their work is not seen by all their peers – they do not get the recognition they desire
    • Despite the fact they often have to pay page charges, colour figure charges, reprint charges, etc.
    • Often the rights they have given up in exchange for publication mean there are things that they cannot do with their own work
  • Readers
    • They cannot view all the research literature they need – they are less effective
  • Libraries
    • Even libraries at the wealthiest institutions cannot satisfy the information needs of their users
  • Funders
    • Want to see greater returns on their research investment
  • Society
    • We all lose out if the communication channels are not optimal.

Open Access

What is it?

Call for free, unrestricted access on the public internet to the literature that scholars give to the world without expectation of payment.


Widen dissemination, accelerate research, enrich education, share learning among rich & poor nations, enhance return on taxpayer investment in research.


Use existing funds to pay for dissemination, not access.

Budapest Open Access Initiative

Two complementary strategies:

  • Self-Archiving: Scholars should be able to deposit their refereed journal articles in open electronic archives which conform to Open Archives Initiative standards
  • Open-Access Journals: Journals will not charge subscriptions or fees for online access. Instead, they should look to other sources to fund peer-review and publication (e.g., publication charges)

What are Institutional Repositories (Open Archives)?

Essential elements

  • Institutionally defined: Content generated by institutional community
  • Scholarly content: preprints and working papers, published articles, enduring teaching materials, student theses, data-sets, etc.
  • Cumulative & perpetual: preserve ongoing access to material
  • Interoperable & open access: free, online, global

The Benefits of Institutional Repositories

  • For the Individual
    • Provide a central archive of their work
    • Improved discovery and retrieval
    • Increase the dissemination and impact of their research
    • Acts as a full CV
  • For the Institution
    • Increases visibility and prestige
    • Acts as an advertisement to funding sources, potential new faculty and students, etc.
    • Helps in administration, e.g., Research assessment and evaluation
  • For Society
    • Provide access to the world’s research
    • Ensures long-term preservation of institutes’ academic output

What is a Journal?

Scholarly publishing comprises four functions:

Current model:

  • Integrates these functions in journals
  • This made sense in print environment




for future use




of research


Certifying the


of the research





The Four Functions - Repositories




for future use




of research


Certifying the


of the research








  • Certification gives:
    • Authors – Validation of their work (important for promotion and grant applications)
    • Readers – Quality filter
  • Journals provide peer review and give a ‘quality stamp’ to research and authors
  • Journals should be open access

The Four Functions of a Journal




for future use




of research


Certifying the


of the research







Open Access


How the pieces work together









Interoperability Standards


e.g.: by



e.g.: peer review


e.g.: search tools, linking


e.g.: by library

Theory Into Practice
- Institutional Repositories

  • GNU EPrints – Southampton
  • D-Space – MIT
  • CDSWare – CERN
  • ARNO – Tilburg, Amsterdam, Twente
  • Fedora – Cornell University / University of Virginia

  • DARE – The Netherlands

Theory Into Practice
- Institutional Repositories

OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access Repositories)

  • An authoritative directory of academic open access repositories
  • List of over 1425 repositories
  • Can be used to search across content in all listed repositories
  • Gives information on repository polices (copyright, re-used of material, preservation, etc.)

Theory Into Practice
- Open Access Journals

  • Lund Directory of Open Access Journals ( – lists over 4250 peer-reviewed open access journals
  • PLoS Biology (launched 2003), PLoS Medicine (2004), PLoS Computational Biology, PLoS Genetics, PLoS Pathogens (2005)
  • BioMed Central (published over 54,000 papers)
  • Documenta Mathematica (Ranked 24th of 214 mathematics journals listed by ISI)
  • SPARC Europe has helped to launch the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA - to represent the interests of open access publishers

Open Access – Making the Transition

  • Give Authors the choice:
    • If they pay a publication charge the paper is made open access on publication.
    • If they do not pay the publication charge the paper is only made available to subscribers.
  • Over time, as proportion of authors who pay increases subscription prices can fall
  • Eventually, entire journal is open access

Open Access – Making the Transition

  • A number of ‘traditional’ publishers are transforming their closed access journals into open access journals:
    • Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS)
    • Oxford University Press
    • American Institute of Physics
    • Company of Biologists
    • American Physiological Society
    • American Society of Limnology and Oceanography
    • Springer
    • Blackwell’s

The Power of Open Access – Self Archiving

  • For 72% of papers published in the Astrophysical Journal free versions of the paper are available (mainly through ArXiv)
  • These 72% of papers are, on average, cited twice as often as the remaining 28% that do not have free versions.

Figures from Greg Schwarz

  • Tim Brody from Southampton has shown that papers for which there is also a free version available have, on average, greater citations than those that are only available through subscriptions

The Power of Open Access – Journals

  • Open access PNAS papers have 50% more full-text downloads than non-open access papers

  • …and are on average twice as likely to be cited

What Institutions Are Doing


    • Set-up and maintain institutional repository.
    • Help faculty deposit their research papers, new & old, digitizing if necessary.
    • Implement open-access policies

Open-access journals:

    • Help promote open access journals launched at their institution become known externally.
    • Ensure scholars at their institution know how to find open access journals and archives in their fields.
    • Support open access journal ‘institutional memberships’ (e.g. BioMedCentral, PLoS)
    • Engage with politicians and funding bodies to raise the issue of open access

Open Access – Appealing to All the Major Stakeholders

  • To the funders of researcher – both as a public service and as an increased return on their investment in research
  • To the authors – as it gives wider dissemination and impact
  • To readers – as it gives them access to all primary literature, making the most important ‘research tool’ more powerful
  • To editors and reviewers – as they feel their work is more valued

Open Access – Appealing to All the Major Stakeholders

  • To the libraries – as it allows them to meet the information needs of their users
  • To the institutions – as it increases their presence and prestige
  • To small and society publishers – as it gives them a survival strategy and fits with their central remit

A Changing Environment

“It is one of the noblest duties of a university to advance knowledge, and to diffuse it not merely among those who can attend the daily lectures--but far and wide. ”

Daniel Coit Gilman, First President, Johns Hopkins University, 1878 (on the university press)

An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good.

Budapest Open Access Initiative, Feb. 14, 2002

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Future of Scholarly Communication in Europe

Dr David Prosser, Director of SPARC Europe will speak on "Open Access and the Future of Scholarly Communication: Dissemination, Prestige, and Impact", at the National Library of Australia in Canberra, 14 August 2009.
ANU Division of Information and the National Library of Australia Present:

Open Access and the Future of Schollarly Communcation: Dissemination, Prestige, and Impact

Dr David Prosser
Director, SPARC Europe

Friday 14 August, 12.30-1.30pm
Conference Room, 4th Floor, National Library of Australia
Parkes Place, Canberra, ACT

This lecture is free and open to the public.

Enquiries: T: 02 6125 2981 E:

The internet is having a profound impact on the 300-year-old model of scholarly communication. New technologies allow for new modes of interaction between researchers, and a wider audience of administrators, funders, governments and the general public. The lines between formal and informal communication are becoming increasingly blurred and
publishers and librarians find themselves playing new roles in the scholarly communication chain. One of the most powerful new ideas to emerge with the development of the internet is open access – the notion that the scholarly research literature should be made available
to readers free of charge. This presentation describes current developments within the scholarly communications landscape and provides an indicator of possible future directions.

David Prosser was appointed the first director of SPARC Europe in October 2002. Previously, he spent ten years in science, technical, and medical journal publishing for both Oxford University Press and Elsevier Science. During this time he was involved in all aspects of publishing from production through to editorial and financial management of journals.

Before becoming a publisher he received a PhD and BSc in Physics from Leeds University,UK.

SPARC Europe is an alliance of European research libraries, library organizations and research institutions, providing a voice for the community and the support and tools it needs in order to bring about positive change to the system of scholarly communications.

Its members represent over 100 leading academic and research institutions in over 14 European countries. ...

From: Open Access and the Future of Scholarly Communication: Dissemination, Prestige, and Impact, ANU, 2009

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Science in Islam Hapmered by Poor PR

The Collins Class Submarine StoryScience and Islam: A History by Ehsan Masood (Icon Books Ltd , 2009) gets a good review in New Scientist ("Time to acknowledge science's debt to Islam?, Jo Marchant 25 February 2009). Both the book and the reviewer look for explanations for science not being as prominent in the Islamic world. However, I doubt this is a real phenomenon and may be just bad marketing on the part of science. As an example I visited the Museum of Technology and Islam the day after it opened in Istanbul. By now I assumed I would easily find details of the museum and its fascinating exhibits on the web. But the museum seems to be hard to find and Masood's book has no mention of the Museum.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR)

The Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) provide a useful service where they chart how many new entries there are in open access repositories. The information is presumably automatically extracted from the repository. As an example, for the ACS Digital Library:

ACS Digital Library (410 records)

Thumbnail of
Records Deposited per Day
Running Other softwares (various), based in Australia and is registered as e-Journal/Publication
Registered on 2006-12-05
Cumulative deposits: 410 total [table] [graph]
Daily deposits in last year: 1 days of 1-9, 1 days of 10-99, 0 days of 100+ [table] [graph (PNG format)] [interactive graph (requires SVG format support)]
OAI Interface: Identify List Metadata Formats List Sets [harvest status]
100% freely accessible fulltext (* estimate)
The ACS Digital Library provides international quality magazines, journal articles and conference papers, covering innovative research and practice in Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). This service is provided free to the ICT profession by the Australian Computer Society (ACS) as part of its commitment to ensure the beneficial use of technology for the community. It includes: Australasian Journal of Information Systems (AJIS), Journal of Research and Practice in Information Technology (JRPIT), and Conferences in Research and Practice in Information Technology (CRPIT).

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