Listing entries tagged with open_access
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nibbling at the corners of open-access 05.09.2007, 9:09 AM
Here at the Institute, we take as one of our fundamental ideas that intellectual output should be open for reading and remixing. We try to put that idea into practice with most of our projects. With MediaCommons we have set that as a cornerstone with the larger aim of transforming the culture of the academy to entice professors and students to play in an open space. Some of the benefits that can be realized by being open: a higher research profile for an institution, better research opportunities, and, as a peripheral (but ultimate) benefit: a more active intellectual culture. Open-access is hardly a new idea—the Public Library of Science has been building a significant library of articles for over seven years—but the academy is still not totally convinced.
A news clip in the Communications of the ACM describes a new study by Rolf Wigand and Thomas Hess from U. of Arkansas, and Florian Mann and Benedikt von Walter from Munich's Institute for IS and New Media that looked at attitudes towards open access publishing.
academics are extremely positive about new media opportunities that provide open access to scientific findings once available only in costly journals but fear nontraditional publication will hurt their chances of promotion and tenure.
Distressingly, not enough academics yet have faith in open access publishing as a way to advance their careers. This is an entrenched problem in the institutions and culture of academia, and one that hobbles intellectual discourse in the academy and between our universities and the outside world.
Although 80% said they had made use of open-access literature, only 24% published their work online. In fact, 65% of IS researchers surveyed accessed online literature, but only 31% published their own research on line. In medical sciences, those numbers were 62% and 23% respectively.
The majority of academics (based on this study) aren't participating fully in the open access movement—just nibbling at the corners. We need to encourage greater levels of participation, and greater levels of acceptance by institutions so that we can even out the disparity between use and contribution.
AAUP on open access / business as usual? 03.01.2007, 2:26 PM
On Tuesday the Association of American University Presses issued an official statement of its position on open access (literature that is "digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions" - Suber). They applaud existing OA initiatives, urge more OA in the humanities and social sciences (out of the traditional focus areas of science, technology and medicine), and advocate the development of OA publishing models for monographs and other scholarly formats beyond journals. Yet while endorsing the general open access direction, they warn against "more radical approaches that abandon the market as a viable basis for the recovery of costs in scholarly publishing and instead try to implement a model that has come to be known as the 'gift economy' or the 'subsidy economy.'" "Plunging straight into pure open access," they argue, "runs the serious risk of destabilizing scholarly communications in ways that would disrupt the progress of scholarship and the advancement of knowledge."
Peter Suber responds on OA News, showing how many of these so-called risks are overblown and founded on false assumptions about open access. OA, even "pure" OA as originally defined by the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2001, is not incompatible with a business model. You can have free online editions coupled with priced print editions, or full open access after an embargo period directly following publication. There are many ways to go OA and still generate revenue, many of which we probably haven't thought up yet.
But this begs the more crucial question: should scholarly presses really be trying to operate as businesses at all? There's an interesting section toward the end of the AAUP statement that basically acknowledges the adverse effect of market pressures on university presses. It's a tantalizing moment in which the authors seem to come close to actually denouncing the whole for-profit model of scholarly publishing. But in the end they pull their punch:
For university presses, unlike commercial and society publishers, open access does not necessarily pose a threat to their operation and their pursuit of the mission to "advance knowledge, and to diffuse it...far and wide." Presses can exist in a gift economy for at least the most scholarly of their publishing functions if costs are internally reallocated (from library purchases to faculty grants and press subsidies). But presses have increasingly been required by their parent universities to operate in the market economy, and the concern that presses have for the erosion of copyright protection directly reflects this pressure.
According to the AAUP's own figures: "On average, AAUP university-based members receive about 10% of their revenue as subsidies from their parent institution, 85% from sales, and 5% from other sources." This I think is the crux of the debate. As the above statement reminds us, the purpose of scholarly publishing is to circulate discourse and the fruits of research through the academy and into the world. But today's commercially structured system runs counter to these aims, restricting access and limiting outlets for publication. The open access movement is just one important response to a general system failure.
But let's move beyond simply trying to reconcile OA with existing architectures of revenue and begin talking about what it would mean to reconfigure the entire scholarly publishing system away from commerce and back toward infrastructure. It's obvious to me, given that university presses can barely stay solvent even in restricted access mode, and given how financial pressures continue to tighten the bottleneck through which scholarship must pass, making less of it available and more slowly, that running scholarly presses as profit centers doesn't make sense. You wouldn't dream of asking libraries to compete this way. Libraries are basic educational infrastructure and it's obvious that they should be funded as such. Why shouldn't scholarly presses also be treated as basic infrastructure?
Here's one radical young librarian who goes further, suggesting that libraries should usurp the role of publishers (keep in mind that she's talking primarily about the biggest corporate publishing cartels like Elsevier, Wiley & Sons, and Springer Verlag):
...I consider myself the enemy of right-thinking for-profit publishers everywhere...
I am not the enemy just because I'm an academic librarian. I am not the enemy just because I run an institutional repository. I am not the enemy just because I pay attention to scholarly publishing and data curation and preservation. I am not the enemy because I'm going to stop subscribing to journals--I don't even make those decisions!
I am the enemy because I will become a publisher. Not just "can" become, will become. And I'll do it without letting go of librarianship, its mission and its ethics--and publishers may think they have my mission and my ethics, but they're often wrong. Think I can't compete? Watch me cut off your air supply over the course of my career (and I have 30-odd years to go, folks; don't think you're getting rid of me in any hurry). Just watch.
Rather than outright clash, however, there could be collaboration and merger. As business and distribution models rise and fall, one thing that won't go away is the need for editorial vision and sensitive stewardship of the peer review process. So for libraries to simply replace publishers seems both unlikely and undesirable. But joining forces, publishers and librarians could work together to deliver a diverse and sustainable range of publishing options including electronic/print dual editions, multimedia networked formats, pedagogical tools, online forums for transparent peer-to-peer review, and other things not yet conceived. All of it by definition open access, and all of it funded as libraries are funded: as core infrastructure.
There are little signs here and there that this press-library convergence may have already begun. I recently came across an open access project called digitalculturebooks, which is described as "a collaborative imprint of the University of Michigan Press and the University of Michigan Library." I'm not exactly sure how the project is funded, and it seems to have been established on a provisional basis to study whether such arrangements can actually work, but still it seems to carry a hint of things to come.
ecclesiastical proust archive: starting a community 02.09.2007, 7:46 AM
(Jeff Drouin is in the English Ph.D. Program at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York)
About three weeks ago I had lunch with Ben, Eddie, Dan, and Jesse to talk about starting a community with one of my projects, the Ecclesiastical Proust Archive. I heard of the Institute for the Future of the Book some time ago in a seminar meeting (I think) and began reading the blog regularly last Summer, when I noticed the archive was mentioned in a comment on Sarah Northmore's post regarding Hurricane Katrina and print publishing infrastructure. The Institute is on the forefront of textual theory and criticism (among many other things), and if:book is a great model for the kind of discourse I want to happen at the Proust archive. When I finally started thinking about how to make my project collaborative I decided to contact the Institute, since we're all in Brooklyn, to see if we could meet. I had an absolute blast and left their place swimming in ideas!
While my main interest was in starting a community, I had other ideas about making the archive more editable by readers that I thought would form a separate discussion. But once we started talking I was surprised by how intimately the two were bound together.
For those who might not know, The Ecclesiastical Proust Archive is an online tool for the analysis and discussion of Ã€ la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time). It's a searchable database pairing all 336 church-related passages in the (translated) novel with images depicting the original churches or related scenes. The search results also provide paratextual information about the pagination (it's tied to a specific print edition), the story context (since the passages are violently decontextualized), and a set of associations (concepts, themes, important details, like tags in a blog) for each passage. My purpose in making it was to perform a meditation on the church motif in the Recherche as well as a study on the nature of narrative.
I think the archive could be a fertile space for collaborative discourse on Proust, narratology, technology, the future of the humanities, and other topics related to its mission. A brief example of that kind of discussion can be seen in this forum exchange on the classification of associations. Also, the church motif which some might think too narrow actually forms the central metaphor for the construction of the Recherche itself and has an almost universal valence within it. (More on that topic in this recent post on the archive blog).
Following the if:book model, the archive could also be a spawning pool for other scholars' projects, where they can present and hone ideas in a concentrated, collaborative environment. Sort of like what the Institute did with Mitchell Stephens' Without Gods and Holy of Holies, a move away from the 'lone scholar in the archive' model that still persists in academic humanities today.
One of the recurring points in our conversation at the Institute was that the Ecclesiastical Proust Archive, as currently constructed around the church motif, is "my reading" of Proust. It might be difficult to get others on board if their readings on gender, phenomenology, synaesthesia, or whatever else would have little impact on the archive itself (as opposed to the discussion spaces). This complex topic and its practical ramifications were treated more fully in this recent post on the archive blog.
I'm really struck by the notion of a "reading" as not just a private experience or a public writing about a text, but also the building of a dynamic thing. This is certainly an advantage offered by social software and networked media, and I think the humanities should be exploring this kind of research practice in earnest. Most digital archives in my field provide material but go no further. That's a good thing, of course, because many of them are immensely useful and important, such as the Kolb-Proust Archive for Research at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Some archives such as the NINES project also allow readers to upload and tag content (subject to peer review). The Ecclesiastical Proust Archive differs from these in that it applies the archival model to perform criticism on a particular literary text, to document a single category of lexia for the experience and articulation of textuality.
If the Ecclesiastical Proust Archive widens to enable readers to add passages according to their own readings (let's pretend for the moment that copyright infringement doesn't exist), to tag passages, add images, add video or music, and so on, it would eventually become a sprawling, unwieldy, and probably unbalanced mess. That is the very nature of an Archive. Fine. But then the original purpose of the project doing focused literary criticism and a study of narrative might be lost.
If the archive continues to be built along the church motif, there might be enough work to interest collaborators. The enhancements I currently envision include a French version of the search engine, the translation of some of the site into French, rewriting the search engine in PHP/MySQL, creating a folksonomic functionality for passages and images, and creating commentary space within the search results (and making that searchable). That's some heavy work, and a grant would probably go a long way toward attracting collaborators.
So my sense is that the Proust archive could become one of two things, or two separate things. It could continue along its current ecclesiastical path as a focused and led project with more-or-less particular roles, which might be sufficient to allow collaborators a sense of ownership. Or it could become more encyclopedic (dare I say catholic?) like a wiki. Either way, the organizational and logistical practices would need to be carefully planned. Both ways offer different levels of open-endedness. And both ways dovetail with the very interesting discussion that has been happening around Ben's recent post on the million penguins collaborative wiki-novel.
Right now I'm trying to get feedback on the archive in order to develop the best plan possible. I'll be demonstrating it and raising similar questions at the Society for Textual Scholarship conference at NYU in mid-March. So please feel free to mention the archive to anyone who might be interested and encourage them to contact me at email@example.com. And please feel free to offer thoughts, comments, questions, criticism, etc. The discussion forum and blog are there to document the archive's development as well.
Thanks for reading this very long post. It's difficult to do anything small-scale with Proust!
Posted by jeff drouin at 07:46 AM
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tags: Online , academia , archive , blogs , books , digital , encyclopedia , folksonomy , hypertext , literature , multimedia , narrative , network , novel , open_access , pedagogy , peer_review , photography , publishing , reading , search , social_software , tagging , technology , textuality , university , web , wiki , writing
national archives sell out 01.22.2007, 10:21 AM
This falls into the category of deeply worrying. In a move reminiscent of last year's shady Smithsonian-Showtime deal, the U.S. National Archives has signed an agreement with Footnote.com to digitize millions of public domain historical records -- stuff ranging from the papers of the Continental Congress to Matthew B. Brady's Civil War photographs -- and to make them available through a commercial website. They say the arrangement is non-exclusive but it's hard to see how this is anything but a terrible deal.
Here's a picture of the paywall:
Dan Cohen has a good run-down of why this should set off alarm bells for historians (thanks, Bowerbird, for the tip). Peter Suber has: the open access take: "The new Democratic Congress should look into this problem. It shouldn't try to undo the Footnote deal, which is better than nothing for readers who can't get to Washington. But it should try to swing a better deal, perhaps even funding the digitization and OA directly."
Absolutely. (Actually, they should undo it. Scrap it. Wipe it out.) Digitization should not become synonymous with privatization.
Elsewhere in mergers and acquisitions, the University of Texas Austin is the newest partner in the Google library project.
laurels 11.20.2006, 7:01 AM
We recently learned that the Institute has been honored in the Charleston Advisor's sixth annual Readers Choice Awards. The Advisor is a small but influential review of web technologies run by a highly respected coterie of librarians and information professionals, who also hold an important annual conference in (you guessed it) Charleston, South Carolina. We've been chosen for our work on the networked book:
The Institute for the Future of the Book is providing a creative new paradigm for monographic production as books move from print to the screen. This includes integration of multimedia, interviews with authors and inviting readers to comment on draft manuscripts.
A special award also went to Peter Suber for his tireless service on the Open Access News blog and the SPARC Open Access Forum. We're grateful for this recognition, and to have been mentioned in such good company.
clifford lynch takes on computation and open access 08.09.2006, 7:33 AM
Academic Commons mentions that Clifford Lynch has written a chapter, entitled, "Open Computation: Beyond Human-Reader-Centric Views of Scholarly Literatures" in an upcoming book on open access edited by Neil Jacobs of the Joint Information Committee. His chapter, which is available online, looks at the potential computational analyses that could be formed by collecting scholarly literature into a digital repository. These "large scholarly literature corpora" would be openly accessible and used for new branches of research currently not possible.
He takes cues from the current work in text mining and large scale collections of scholarly documents, such as the Persus Digital Library hosted by Tufts Unviersity. Lynch also acknowledges the skepticism that many scholars hold to the value of text mining analysis in the humanities. Further, he discusses the limitations that current intellectual property regimes place on the creation of a large, accessible scholarly corpora. Although many legal and technical obstacles exist, his proposal does seem more feasible than something like Ted Nelson's Project Xanadu because the corpora he describes have boundaries, as well as supporters who believe that these bodies of literature should be accessible.
Small scale examples show the challenges Lynch's proposal faces. I am reminded of the development of meta-analysis in the field of statistics. Although the term meta-analysis is much older, the contemporary usage refers to statistical techniques developed in the 1970s to aggregate results from a group of studies. These techniques are particularly popular in the medical research and the public health sciences (often because their data sets are small.) Thirty years on, these methods are frequently used and their resulted published. However, the methods are still questioned in certain circles.
Gene Glass gives a good overview of meta-analysis, concluding with a reflection on how the criticisms of its use reveal insights on fundamental problems with research in his field of education research. He notes the difference in the "fundamental unit" of his research, which is a study, versus physics, which is lower level, accessible and generalizable. Here, even taking a small step back reveals new insights on the fundamentals of his scholarship.
Lynch speculates on how the creation of corpora might play out, but he doesn't dwell on the macro questions that we might investigate. Perhaps it is premature to think about these ideas, but the possible directions of inquiry are what lingered in my mind after reading Lynch's chapter.
I am struck by the challenge of graphically representing the analysis of these corpora. Like the visualizations of the blogosphere, these technologies could not only analyze the network of citations, but also word choice and textual correlations. Moreover, how does the body of literature change over time and space, as ideas and thoughts emerge or fall out of favor. In the humanities, can we graphically represent theoretical shifts from structuralist to post-structuralist thought, or the evolution from pre-feminist to feminist to post-feminist thought? What effect did each of these movements have on each other over time?
The opportunity also exists of exploring the possible ways of navigating corpora of this size. Using the metaphor of Google Earth, where one can zoom in from the entire Earth down to a single home, what can we gain from being able to view the sphere of scholarly literature in such a way? Glass took one step back to analyze groups of studies, and found insight on the nature of education research. What are the potential insights can we learn from viewing the entire corpus of scholarly knowledge from above?
Lynch describes expanding our analysis beyond the human scale. Even if his proposal never reaches fruition, his thought experiments revealed (at least to me) how knowledge acquisition occurs over a multidimensional spectrum. You can have a close reading of a text or merely skim the first sentence of each paragraph. Likewise, you can read an encyclopedia entry on a field of study or spend a year reading 200 books to prepare for a doctoral qualifying exam. However, as people, we have limits to the amount of information we can comprehend and analyze.
Purists will undoubtedly frown upon the use of computation that cannot be replicated by humans in scholarly research. Another example is the use of computational for solving proofs in mathematics, which is still controversial. The humanities will be no different, if not more so. A close reading of certain texts will always be important, however the future that Lynch offers just may give that close reading an entirely new context and understanding. One of the great things about inquiry is that sometimes you do not know where you will end up until you get there.