A qualitative evaluation of The European Library

Evaluation of digital libraries assesses their effectiveness, quality and overall impact. In this paper we describe a qualitative evaluation of “The European Library” carried out by six highly qualified evaluators from the area of computer and library science. The findings – mainly usability issues – are presented along the ITF model and suggestions are given to overcome these findings.

URL : http://hdl.handle.net/10760/15519

Going beyond the textbook: The need to integrate open access primary literature into the Chemistry curriculum

Unrestricted, open access to scholarly scientific literature provides an opportunity for chemistry educators to go beyond the textbook, introducing students to the real work of scientists. Despite the best efforts of textbook authors to provide information about recent research results, textbooks are not a substitute for learning to use the primary literature. Chemical educators can use open access articles to develop research-related skills, to foster curiosity, and to cultivate the next generation of scientists. It is becoming increasingly important for chemical educators to teach undergraduates how online journals are changing the nature of chemical research.

Some institutions can not afford online subscription costs, and open access journals can be an important resource to provide practical experience. Open access publications eliminate the barriers to the central work of scientists providing chemistry educators (whether at well-endowed or economically limited colleges) with the key resources for enhancing student learning through current, relevant research.

URL : http://www.journal.chemistrycentral.com/content/5/1/18

The emergence of electronic books publishing in Spain

“After reference books and scientific journals, electronic books represent the next level of evolution in the digital revolution. Their presence in libraries and their level of knowledge on the part of users is still low. But the development of specific collections by the publishers, the development of increasingly refined online distribution systems and the improvements in portable reading devices (e-book readers) are causing a change in this situation, along with a turnaround on the production and consumption of such documents. In Spain, recent experiences by publishing houses are related to this new market, and they will change the current publishing scene in no time. This article discusses some of them and gives an outlook of future developments in the sector.”

URL : http://eprints.rclis.org/15459/

Back to the future: authors, publishers and ideas in a copy-friendly environment

How could scholars survive in a copy-friendly environment jeopardizing the established system of scholarly publishing in which scientific publishers seemed to be authors’ best friends? A backward itinerary across three German Enlightenment thinkers who took part to the debate on (unauthorized) reprinting shows us ways – usual and unusual – in which culture can flourish in a copy-friendly environment.

While Fichte endorsed an intellectual property theory, took the function of publishers for granted and neglected the interests of the public, Kant saw authors as speakers and justified publishers’ rights only as long as they work as spokespersons helping writers to reach the public. Eventually Lessing’s project was designed to foster authors’ autonomy by means of a subscription system that could have worked only on the basis of a free information flow and of direct relationships with and within the public itself.

Such a condition can be compared with the situation of ancient auctores, with one difference: while the ancient communities of knowledge were educated minorities, because of the limitations of orality and manuscript media system, we have now the opportunity to take Enlightenment seriously.

URL : http://eprints.rclis.org/handle/10760/15445

Open Science in Practice: Researcher Perspectives and Participation

We report on an exploratory study consisting of brief case studies in selected disciplines, examining what motivates researchers to work (or want to work) in an open manner with regard to their data, results and protocols, and whether advantages are delivered by working in this way. We review the policy background to open science, and literature on the benefits attributed to open data, considering how these relate to curation and to questions of who participates in science.

The case studies investigate the perceived benefits to researchers, research institutions and funding bodies of utilising open scientific methods, the disincentives and barriers, and the degree to which there is evidence to support these perceptions. Six case study groups were selected in astronomy, bioinformatics, chemistry, epidemiology, language technology and neuroimaging.

The studies identify relevant examples and issues through qualitative analysis of interview transcripts. We provide a typology of degrees of open working across the research lifecycle, and conclude that better support for open working, through guidelines to assist research groups in identifying the value and costs of working more openly, and further research to assess the risks, incentives and shifts in responsibility entailed by opening up the research process are needed.

URL : http://www.ijdc.net/index.php/ijdc/article/view/173

Peer Review in Academic Promotion and Publishing: Its Meaning, Locus, and Future

Since 2005, and with generous support from the A.W. Mellon Foundation, The Future of Scholarly Communication Project at UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) has been exploring how academic values—including those related to peer review, publishing, sharing, and collaboration—influence scholarly communication practices and engagement with new technological affordances, open access publishing, and the public good.

The current phase of the project focuses on peer review in the Academy; this deeper look at peer review is a natural extension of our findings in Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An Exploration of Faculty Values and Needs in Seven Disciplines (Harley et al. 2010), which stressed the need for a more nuanced academic reward system that is less dependent on citation metrics, the slavish adherence to marquee journals and university presses, and the growing tendency of institutions to outsource assessment of scholarship to such proxies as default promotion criteria.

This investigation is made urgent by a host of new challenges facing institutional peer review, such as assessing interdisciplinary scholarship, hybrid disciplines, the development of new online forms of edition making and collaborative curation for community resource use, heavily computational subdisciplines, large-scale collaborations around grand challenge questions, an increase in multiple authorship, a growing flood of low-quality publications, and the call by governments, funding bodies, universities, and individuals for the open access publication of taxpayer-subsidized research, including original data sets.

The challenges of assessing the current and future state of peer review are exacerbated by pressing questions of how the significant costs of high-quality scholarly publishing can be borne in the face of calls for alternative, usually university-based and open access, publishing models for both journals and books.

There is additionally the insidious and destructive “trickle down” of tenure and promotion requirements from elite research universities to less competitive and non-research-intensive institutions.

The entire system is further stressed by the mounting—and often unrealistic—government pressure on scholars in developed and emerging economies alike to publish their research in the most select peer-reviewed outlets, ostensibly to determine the distribution of government funds (via research assessment exercises) and/or to meet national imperatives to achieve research distinction internationally.

The global effect is a growing glut of low-quality publications that strains the efficient and effective practice of peer review, a practice that is, itself, primarily subsidized by universities in the form of faculty salaries. Library budgets and preservation services for this expansion of peer-reviewed publication have run out. Faculty time spent on peer review, in all of its guises, is being exhausted.

As part of our ongoing research, CSHE hosted two meetings to address the relationship between peer review in publication and that carried out for tenure and promotion. Our discussions included: The Dominant System of Peer Review: Types, Standards, Uses, Abuses, and Costs; A Very Tangled Web: Alternatives to the Current System of Peer Review; Creating New Models: The Role of Societies, Presses, Libraries, Information Technology Organizations, Commercial Publishers, and Other Stakeholders; and Open Access “Mandates” and Resolutions versus Developing New Models.

This report includes (1) an overview of the state of peer review in the Academy at large, (2) a set of recommendations for moving forward, (3) a proposed research agenda to examine in depth the effects of academic status-seeking on the entire academic enterprise, (4) proceedings from the workshop on the four topics noted above, and (5) four substantial and broadly conceived background papers on the workshop topics, with associated literature reviews.

The document explores, in particular, the tightly intertwined phenomena of peer review in publication and academic promotion, the values and associated costs to the Academy of the current system, experimental forms of peer review in various disciplinary areas, the effects of scholarly practices on the publishing system, and the possibilities and real costs of creating alternative loci for peer review and publishing that link scholarly societies, libraries, institutional repositories, and university presses.

We also explore the motivations and ingredients of successful open access resolutions that are directed at peer-reviewed article-length material. In doing so, this report suggests that creating a wider array of institutionally acceptable and cost-effective alternatives to peer reviewing and publishing scholarly work could maintain the quality of academic peer review, support greater research productivity, reduce the explosive growth of low-quality publications, increase the purchasing power of cash-strapped libraries, better support the free flow and preservation of ideas, and relieve the burden on overtaxed faculty of conducting too much peer review.”

URL : http://cshe.berkeley.edu/publications/publications.php?id=379

Working Together to Reduce Plagiarism and Promote Academic Integrity: A Collaborative Initiative at Leicester

This staff student collaboration arose from a staff-led research project that examined the potential for an American-style honor code system to reduce plagiarism in higher education.

This system promotes the positive benefits of good scholarship, encourages students to take responsibility for their own learning and is based on a community of trust between staff and students. Students’ Union Education Officers, student course representatives and academic staff worked together to re-frame advice given to students on plagiarism in a more positive light.

This ongoing collaboration has resulted in joint recommendations from staff and students to the institution on how to reduce plagiarism and promote a culture of academic integrity.”

URL : https://lra.le.ac.uk/handle/2381/9108