Publish then publicise & monitor. Publication is not the end of the process!

Once your journal article or research output has been accepted and published, there are lots of things that you can do to spread the word about it. This blogpost has my own list of the top four ways you could do this (other than putting it on your CV, of course). I also recommend any biologists or visual thinkers to look at:
Lobet, Guillaume (2014): Science Valorisation. figsharehttp://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1057995
Lobet describes the process as “publish: identify yourself: communicate”, and points out useful tools along the way, including recommending that authors identify themselves in ORCID, ResearchGate, Academia.edu, ImpactStory and LinkedIn. (Such services can create a kind of online, public CV and my favourite for researchers is ORCID.) You may also find that your publisher offers advice on ways to publicise your paper further.

PUBLICISE

1) Talk about it! Share your findings formally at a conference. Mention it in conversations with your peers. Include it in your teaching.

2) Tweet about it! If you’re not on Twitter yourself (or even if you are!) then you could ask a colleague to tweet about it for you. A co-author or the journal editor or publisher might tweet about it, or you could approach a University press officer. If you tweet yourself then you could pin the tweet about your latest paper to your profile on Twitter.

3) Open it up! Add your paper to at least one Open Access repository, such as your institutional repository (they might also tweet about it). This way your paper will be available even to those who don’t subsribe to the journal. You can find an OA repository on ROAR or OpenDOAR. Each repository will have its own community of visitors and ways in which to help people discover your content, so you might choose more than one repository: perhaps one for your paper and one for data or other material associated with it. If you put an object into Figshare, for example, it will be assigned a DOI and that will be really handy for getting Altmetrics measures.

4)Be social! Twitter is one way to do this already, of course. but you could also blog about it, on your own blog or perhaps as a guest post for an existing blog with a large audience already. You could put visual content like slides and infographics into Slideshare, and send out an update via LinkedIn. Choose at least one more social media channel of your choice, for each paper.

MONITOR

  1. Watch download stats for your paper, on your publisher’s website. Measuring the success of casual mentions is difficult, but you can often see a spike in download statistics for a paper, after it has been mentioned at a conference.
  2. Watch Twitter analytics: is your tweet about your paper one of your Top Tweets? You can see how many “engagements” a tweet has, i.e., how many clicks, favourites, re-tweets and replies, etc it accrued. If you use a link shortening service, you should also be able to see how many clicks there have been on your link, and where from. (bit.ly is one of many such shortening services.) This is the measure that I value most. If no-one is clicking to look at your content, then perhaps Twitter is not working for you and you could investigate why not or focus on more efficient channels.
  3. Repositories will often offer you stats about downloads, just like your publisher, and either or both may offer you access to an altmetrics tool. Take a look at these to see more information behind the numbers: who is interested and engaged with your work and how can you use this knowledge? Perhaps it will help you to choose which of the other possible social media channels you might use, as this is where there are others in your discipline who are already engaged with your work.

 

Ultimately, you might be interested in citations rather than engagements on Twitter or even webpage visits or downloads for your paper. It’s hard to draw a definite connection between such online activity and citations for journal papers, but I’m pretty sure that no-one is going to cite your paper if they don’t even know it exists, so if this is important to you, then I would say, shout loud!

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Teaching Information Ethics at Humboldt University’s IBI

Amongst my other work, I teach two modules at the Berlin School of Library and Information Science (known as IBI), at Humboldt University:

  1. English for Information Professionals
  2. Information Ethics and Legal Aspects

Perhaps I’ll write about teaching English another day, for this post is all about teaching information ethics to international students on a Masters in Digital Curation programme. This whole course looks great for students, since they get to spend a year in Berlin as well as studying at Kings College London.

I lecture on the ethics module, and my co-tutor Boris Jacob leads the seminars: we work very collaboratively in our delivery of our materials, and of course we co-ordinate the module through the virtual learning environment, Moodle. We’re planning for the next cohort of students at the moment and we’re both going to present soon at IBI’s BBK about how we teach this course, and why Berlin is a particularly suitable place to teach information ethics.

Boris and I both have experience of having worked in the field, and we bring our practical knowlege as well as theory to the course. Being from the UK, I’m very much more aware of British (CILIP) and American (ALA) theory and principles, whilst Boris is a German (BID) who has also worked in Belgium, and therefore brings a very European perspective, and the students themselves (I speak of last year’s cohort: I’ve not met this year’s yet) also come from different lands, bringing their own cultural backgrounds to the course. We introduce them to theory and then encourage them to explore ethical dilemmas, and our goal is that they are able to identify such dilemmas when they come across them, and to find and apply theories that can help. So, what kind of themes do we cover? Here is a list of some of things that we explore in our course:

  • Ethical principles and codes of professional organisations
  • Plagiarism : what it is, how we might avoid it and why it’s different to breach of copyright
  • Neutrality : the classic library debates about how to handle customers with equality, and how to build collections
  • Intellectual property & copyright : what are the principles: how does this work in the students’ own lands & in what way is German law different from the UK?
  • Citizen contributions: ways to handle them, including the right to remain anonymous and data protection issues
  • Digital divides : where we might find these and how can information professionals help to overcome them
  • Open Access and Digital Rights Management: what happens when we put locks on content?
  • Information literacy : what belongs on the curriculum and why?
  • The Media : how can we learn from journalists’ ethical codes?

Well, that’s just off the top of my head… there’s lots more, and of course we like to incorporate news stories as well as the opportunities that Berlin has to offer. Last year was the premier of Citizenfour (Laura Poitra’s documentary about Edward Snowden) and of course Berlin’s Transmediale festival. Not to mention all the museums and exhibitions tracking communications, computing and spying that Berlin has to offer! I’m quite envious of those students, because Berlin is a great place to study, as well as their course being truly fascinating. At least I get to teach it!

Themes gleaned from APE 2014 (Academic Publishing in Europe)

This is a case study on finding out about a conference that you didn’t attend! I also include what I have learnt about what the APE 2014 conference covered.

There are blog posts from those who attended:

Richard Padley of Semantico blogged his reflections, on the theme of “the article of the future” and pointed out that the opportunity to move towards post publication peer review “puts pressure” on the concept of the version of record. He explores the question “could journal publishing therefore come to look a bit more like reference publishing, where there is an inbuilt assumption of updatability?” and considers the role of executable research objects, or outputs that are not prose text describing an output, but the output itself with the example of Github as a community site for software programmes and programmers as an alternative route to publication, than the journal. Other themes mentioned in his post are the reproducibility of scientific research, the evolution of the monograph and the shorter formats emerging from publishers and data mining and whether people will be able to extract meaning from articles without reading them!

(You can do an ordinary Google search to find blog posts. Or a Google blogs search. But I recommend going directly to wordpress or trying the blog search engine.)

There are slides on Slideshare, from those who presented:

Stephanie Dawson and Alexander Grossman of ScienceOpen.com, one of the new open access publishers presented slides describing a vision of the future of academic publishing. They stressed that research is becoming more open, as researchers use the Internet and blogs, and network with each other. ScienceOpen appears to be a site where researchers can read articles, network with each other, organise a collection of articles and publish articles to the community. It sounds a bit like Researchgate, Academia, Mendeley and their ilk (I shall dub them “RAM”!), but the question is, if it manages peer review and editing and makes the work public, is it not a journal? And if it makes work available A.S.A.P. and on open access, is it not also a repository? Apparently, the aim is to provide a freely accessible platform for researchers to share and evaluate scientific information, and it will aggregate open access articles to present to that community. As with the RAM sites, I believe that they will need to engage with the community in order to be successful, which is what the traditional journal does in order to attract submissions and peer reviewers, but on a much grander scale. Rather like F1000, too… it’s an increasingly crowded space! According to the slides, ScienceOpen will provide tools and support to the scientists and how it will make money is through publishing charges which include payment for: publishing of a final manuscript, copyediting, language editing, xml conversion and DOI assignment. I find that a clear breakdown of what you get for your “Article Processing Charge”. It’s due to be released in April 2014: I shall watch the space with interest!

Of course, there was plenty of Twitter activity:

See on Twitter itself, with the hashtag #APE2014, or if you want to find tweets that people have already found value in then you could search for that hashtag on a collation/curation site like Storify. (Why doesn’t Twitter’s advanced search page offer the option of looking for only tweets that have been re-tweeted or favourited?!) Here, we can see that someone from Springer tweeted that “social media activitiy around scholarly articles is growing by 5 to 10% per month” which appears to be a quote from a presentation by Stefanie Haustein, on Tweets and Mendeley readers.

You can find videos on Youtube, mostly uploaded by Martijn Roelandse. I don’t find it the most useful way to discover the essence of a conference, but here is some footage from Day 2:

Finally, I wish that I could also search through people’s updates on LinkedIn…  but I think that might come in the future. I note that they’re integrating more closely with Slideshare and there are new features all the time.

“Extreme Open Access”

This was the intriguing title of yesterday’s public seminar at Humboldt Uni’s IBI, delivered by Laurent Romary who is Director of Research at INRIA at present, who has held other prestigious posts and who has long been an open access visionary. In fact his seminar also has a subtitle: “scholarly publication as a public infrastructure”, but I figured that just the short version might be more intriguing for the automated tweet from this blog!

You can watch online recordings of IBI’s BBK seminars in full (watch out for this one: it’s in English!), but below is my summary to intrigue you further…

For those wishing to learn about Open Access (OA), Peter Suber’s book was metaphorically described as a bible!

I agree wholeheartedly with Romary’s view that it is better for scholars and universities to think about scientific information policies, rather than OA, and that we should anticipate that what we do with our publications will have consequences for what happens to and what we should do with, our research data. Matters of cost, quality, useability and visibility are systemic and when we publish articles online then we have an opportunity to also use article-level metrics. University Vice-Chancellors and directors should understand such mechanisms and the opportunities available.

Romary displayed profits from Elsevier from 2002-2011 and commented that learned societies are often playing the same game (chasing profit!) as publishers, before going on to look at OA possibilities. He dwelt on the 2003 Berlin declaration on OA, which I believe is an ideal: it includes the right to copy further and for an item’s availability to be irrevocable. “Extreme Open Access” indeed!

In my opinion, the Berlin declaration version of OA is the kind of OA that institutional repository managers would love to have but can’t all reach. In my experience, it was an uphill battle to get content at all, never mind getting it deposited along with a true understanding of licensing rules and copyright: this was a hurdle that a number of repository managers in the UK chose to save for later. But the Berlin declaration version of OA is definitely something to aim for!

Romary’s description of green & gold OA was very careful to explain that the two can work alongside each other, and that the one does not exclude the other. In fact, he described how this could work very harmoniously in a “freemium” model, which is similar to the way “Only Connect… Discovery pathways, library explorations, and the information adventure.” (the “unbook” that I contributed to & blogged about here) was published. The unbook is free in its html format but also available to buy in e-book download format or in print: similarly, journal articles that have been paid for as gold OA articles or that appear in subscription journals can also be deposited into repositories, for green OA. The paid-for version will have advantages to the person who pays, eg the reader’s experience & choice of formats, or the article is deposited into the repository on behalf of the gold OA fee-paying author.

INRIA, where Romary works has an information policy, which includes a mandate to deposit into the repository, and (crucially, in my view) assessments and reports on staff will all be carried out based on the input of repository publications. I asked how well the mandate was being adhered to, but apparently it’s early days yet. There is a centralised budget in order to monitor payments of APCs, and presumably this can be balanced against subscription costs, although INRIA’s researchers may publish more than they read (if I understand correctly), so gold OA looks like being very expensive for them.

The OpenEdition and Episciences projects from France sounded particularly interesting, as a way of integrating a repository into broader research and publishing infrastructures. At this point, Romary described that a repository has to be sophisticated. (Yes please, but who will pay for that?!) By way of sophisticated, he elaborated on the importance of authority lists for authors, institutions and projects, of persistent identifiers, and of long-term archiving capability. I think that all repository managers would aim for that, but different repositories achieve it to different degrees.

It is precisely this fragmented repository environment that Romary described as a big challenge for the academic community, if they are to make the most of their repositories and of their publications. The advent of scientific social networks (like researchgate, mendeley, academia.edu, etc) does not help with this fragmentation. But the good news at the end was that we are still learning and developing an infrastructure that could serve the public and indeed be labelled as extreme open access.

At the end of the presentation, we discussed some further related issues, including whether peer review is a good mechanism for ensuring quality, and the advantages of open peer review. Perhaps more on those themes in a separate blog post…

Scholarly work by a hairdresser: what difference would OA make? And other questions!

I came across a BBC magazine news item about a scholarly hairdresser (from May 2013) and it got me thinking. The hairdresser that the article is about, Janet Stevens, wrote a scholarly article describing how intricate Roman hairstyles were achieved by sewing the hair in place. The article apparently took her about 7 years to perfect so this seemed like a well-researched piece of work.

With my experience in academic libraries, I was interested in how an amateur scholar might achieve a published article, so I dug a little further (I Googled!) and a Wall St Journal article gives more information: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324900204578286272195339456.html

Neither the BBC nor the WSJ seem to have cited Janet’s scholarly article. This is something that I believe needs addressing, because her article has clearly made an impact beyond the scholarly world but how can it be found and measured, other than by citations? Besides, it’s annoying for people who want to read further. They should cite the article! So I’ll practice what I preach and here is a reference to the article itself:

Stevens, J. (2008) ‘Ancient Roman Hairdressing: On (Hair)Pins and Needles’, Journal of Roman Archaeology, vol. 21, pp. 111 – 132. Available online: http://www.journalofromanarch.com/samples/v21.110_adj.pdf [2 Sept 2013]

(I note that the journal doesn’t seem to issue DOIs, which is a shame, when it comes to encouraging and tracking citations.)

When I heard this story, as a Librarian I had two main questions:

1) How did she get access to the scholarly materials to research and write about her idea in a scholarly way, for publication? Is this an example of where Open Access (OA) could open up scholarship to amateurs in order to progress their work and the field they research in?

2) What if she knew she had to pay a fee of $1000 or more dollars (OA requires the payment of a fee for publication) in order to get published in a scholarly journal: would that have put her off writing about it or even researching it so thoroughly in the first place?

I note that the article is currently available as a sample, without the need to subscribe to the journal. Effectively, it is an open access article already and if articles of significance are opened up even without fees being paid right now, they most likely could be OA published in future, when the researcher has no access to funds to pay for publication.

I’m not going to find instant answers to my questions but the WSJ article has an important clue in the comments section. One commenter Quoted some additional material from Janet Stevens’ interview:

“A: I am an independent researcher, but my husband is a professor of Italian at the Johns Hopkins University, so I have library privileges there. We are friendly with colleagues in the Classics/Archaeology department and at the Walters Art Museum. They were kind enough to send me articles and clippings, read drafts and help with some picky Latin, though I try not to impose.”

Aha! The Library was important to her research: an example of the impact of a library. And her connections to the scholarly community were also important to her work: connections between scholars were also something that my work at the University of Warwick library attempted to facilitate. We came across many scholars who were working hard to maintain their connections with the scholarly world, after completing a PhD or as retired scholars, and so on.

Does this clue mean that OA would make no difference to a case such as this? I can’t know without asking the researcher herself. Beyond this particular example, the question on my mind, and often on the mind of many librarians is “how can OA and Libraries combine to support scholarship in the best way possible? ” This article illustrates what many librarians experience daily: “scholarship” takes on many guises.

Janet Stevens’ case is intriguing because it is the very fact that she did not come through the traditional route to scholarly publication that enabled her to have her ground-breaking insight into the topic.

The role of the library in supporting her work is particularly interesting to me. The library (and anything else, like possibly OA) that supports amateur scholars seems to me to be important, because the work of amateur scholars seems significant to the development of some research fields (like History, my own first discipline). In developing OA as a publishing model, we must be careful not to put barriers in the way of people like Janet Stevens.

However, that’s how it seems to me. My next question is, how typical is Janet Stevens’ work and experience? The WSJ mentions another example from the same journal, of a soldier who discovered a hitherto unknown Roman fort in Iraq. (Another article not cited properly. Like a good Librarian, I found it and here is a reference: Wood, G.A. (2004) The Roman fort at Qubur al Bid, Mesopotamia Journal of Roman Archaeology, vol. 17 p397 (Note that this one is only available online for a fee.) If one journal, published for 25 years has two such examples, there must be plenty of others out there.

What about other disciplines? Janet Stevens had access to the materials she needed to progress her work, but some disciplines require very expensive equipment indeed. What role do and “should” amateur researchers play, in the scholarly world? If they have or should have no role (which I contest!), then libraries and publishers don’t really need to support them.

One final thought about this hairdresser’s research: what about the preservation of research data? What happens to the mannequin heads that exhibit her work?! I note that the Journal of Roman Archaeology itself links to Youtube clips of her recreations.

Open Access (OA) and all that jazz!

Next week I’m due to visit Humboldt University’s IBI in order to participate in a students’ seminar about Open Access. I’m very much looking forward to it and thought I’d do a bit of reading to keep me up to speed on the OA themes that are trending at the moment.

A recently published article has come to my attention through a LinkedIn group I belong to: Opening Doors, by Rob Virkar-Yates

It describes some of the technical issues that need to be solved, in order to support OA, both at the “upstream” end, where articles are processed for publication, and “downstream” where articles are discovered and read by researchers. Here are a few of the issues raised in the article, along with my comments and thoughts!

1) Direct author-publisher transactions are not part of existing submission processes.
I noticed this when working at the University of Warwick Library: we had to chase both authors and publishers to get Gold OA Article Processing Charges (APCs) paid in time to spend the money allocated to Warwick by HEFCE, and the authors and departmental administrators found the processes rather frustrating and onerous, to the point where at least one author decided not to bother with Gold OA.

The article states that “the majority of academic institutions remain unclear as to how to integrate APCs into their workflows” and I’m sure that many institutions are still working it out: classic issues would be whether to handle OA financial transactions centrally or in departments, whether to use an intermediary service (see the recent RIN report on that topic), and how to ensure a fair and effective distribution of the money.

2) “Open Access is driving some exceptionally contentious changes to the peer review process.”
Virkar-Yates gives eLife and F1000 as examples of OA journals who are innovating peer review by bringing in more transparency about the way an article has been reviewed. I’m interested in the possibility that peer review might evolve as access to content is opened up, but if peer review in its traditional guise is working for academia, then it can work for OA journals just as easily as for subscription ones. That seems to be the conclusion of the Open Library of Humanities project (OLH) in a recently published UKSG e-news article. I’m cautious of worrying academics that the peer review system is under threat, because it’s contentious enough to consider a switch towards OA itself, never mind causing worry that existing, established methods for ensuring quality are about to be abandoned by publishers!

OA publication models do tend to favour bulk publishing, and in a scenario where there are more articles and more journals out there, researchers will need ways to differentiate amongst all the articles, to find the highest quality: they need to do this fairly quickly and efficiently as their time is limited. I think that the existing signs of quality, such as journal impact factor, prestige of the editor and authors, peer review practices, established position in the discipline, etc are likely to remain important for the time being at least. Even PLoS publishes journals that are tailored to disciplines, have lower acceptance rates and achieve higher impact factors than the bulk, cross-disciplinary journal, PLoS One, and OLH seems to be proposing overlay journals, on the bulk of content.

I can see why Virkar-Yates included this aspect, though: publishers of OA journals may find that there are opportunities to develop other aspects of their journals alongside the move to OA, and if you know that quality filters are important in an OA world, then you might want to find ways to add those in: instead of or as well as the traditional peer review.

3) Different formats for content.
The article says “It is now not uncommon for articles to be published with their associated data sets (or links to the data held in OA data repositories), supporting video, animation and other textual resources.” The electronic age has long since allowed publishers to experiment with the format of the journal, or the journal article. Indeed this has been happening with some titles I’ve bookmarked on Diigo, and there have long been disciplinary differences in journal article length, referencing styles, etc: the electronic journal has the capacity to be very different from the traditional print one, but the issue as Virkar-Yates points out, is how to support the different types of output, file formats, etc, on the same platform.

I wonder if the answer is not to offer more specialised types of publication, for different disciplines. I’m a big fan of the e-Crystals repository, and I’ve often wondered what we might do with data repositories, because they seem to me to be most discipline specific types of output, and most useful when they have metadata schemas designed around a specialist type of data and data need. I believe that, in a world of vast amounts of free content, it will be the way that researchers are enabled to handle that content that makes a product worth paying for, and I think this could require an element of specialisation. It’s an interesting space to watch: in Virkar-Yates own explanation of Green OA he points out that “Forty-one percent of all repository usage is through the University of Cambridge’s DSpace@Cambridge platform” and I know that its a repository that has long had a policy of taking all kinds of content, across all kinds of disciplines: is this a model for publishers to follow or should they concentrate on offering something different than repositories?

4) Lack of authentication when access is open
“A signed-in user is a known user, so publishers need to get more consumer-savvy and work out ways to incentivise registration under OA.” Good point, but I think that a lot of publishers have got this covered with their alerting services, saved lists of references and saved search history options that researchers need to sign in for. Joining this sign-in process together with other social media authentication would probably be better for researchers than signing in through institutional logins, and with many platforms the publishers don’t know so much about researchers other than what institution s/he belongs to after authentication, in any case. But perhaps that is precisely what they need to know, so that they can tell Libraries what an invaluable product they are subscribing to!

5) Optimisation for Google by removal of paywalls
Well, this makes sense to me, even though I am a Librarian. I don’t think we’ve been burying our heads in the sand, as the author claims that we have: we’ve simply been trying to point out to researchers that Google doesn’t access all the content that they need, and that there are more powerful ways of searching than the simple keyword that Google uses, when it comes to scholarly content. That doesn’t mean that we would be against Google indexing that scholarly content, if it did it well. In fact, Librarians have also been trying to teach researchers how to get the most out of Google and Google Scholar.

6) Multiple & portable devices
“…all content platforms, and particularly Open Access platforms, need to face up to the very real and pressing technical challenge of how to seamlessly deliver content across multiple untethered devices.” Says it all, for me!

7) Hybrid journals where some content is OA, some is behind a paywall
I’ve never been a fan of hybrid journals as an OA solution, because there isn’t a way for our researchers to know when an article is available to them as an OA one, when their institution doesn’t subscribe to that particular journal. One of the things I used to tell researchers to do when they wanted an article, was to search Google for an OA version. It’s one of the things that I used to have to check document supply request forms for, and frequently found, even some years ago. Hybrid is better than no OA at all, but as Virkar-Yates points out, there is a real issue around the metadata at article level, to make sure that open access content is in fact accessible!

Virkar-Yates’ article prompts much thought and that touches on some very important issues, but there are more that I’d like to consider:

a) Monographs
This topic is suggested in Virkar-Yates’ article, when he discusses output format variety, but monographs seem to me to be a specific issue. OLH are investigating this topic over the next few years, Open Book Publishers have just won an award and the Wellcome Trust have just announced plans to extend their OA policy to include monographs and book chapters, according to this Times Higher Education article, although I note that this extension does not include the CC-BY (Creative Commons Attribution) requirement that exists for journal articles.

b) Copyright
One of the hurdles for OA is to differentiate between access by a reader and access that allows further copying: five years ago, when I was establishing Warwick’s repository, WRAP, it seemed clear to me that the priority was to allow readers to have access. Every item in WRAP had a cover sheet explaining that the copyright remained with the publisher or author and that copying of the repository item was not granted by the repository. Allowing Creative Commons licences to be attached to items was a development that I would have liked to have added (and I know that Loughborough University’s repository has always asked for one), but I knew that there were already a lot of hurdles to deposit and that frankly, a requirement to add a licence that the author had never seen before and quite often did not understand would be one hurdle too many.

I expected that WRAP could overcome it in time and indeed I can see amongst the latest additions to WRAP that some do have cover sheets explaining that a CC licence applies. The RCUK OA policy expects the copyright issue to be addressed, as they have followed the Wellcome Trust in making requirements for not only OA, but also CC licences. A large national body like the RCUK has a way of reaching and influencing researchers that a new repository manager does not have!

c) Platinum OA
This was described in an Information Research article from 2007, and it’s essentially where researchers publish OA journals for themselves. It doesn’t quite fit the remit of Virkar-Yates’ article, in the sense that most researchers won’t be able to do this and be at the cutting edge of technology in publishing practice! But in the rise of OA, there has been a rise in the number of OA journal titles (as evidenced by the reported titles listed by the DOAJ, which the Virkar-Yates refers to), many of which originate from the research community.

My final thought is that I should read the recent JISC/RLUK survey report, on the attitudes and behaviours of researchers, which apparently reveals their reliance on open access… but that’s too much for one sitting!