Linked Research on the Decentralised Web

Author : Sarven Capadisli

This thesis is about research communication in the context of the Web. I analyse literature which reveals how researchers are making use of Web technologies for knowledge dissemination, as well as how individuals are disempowered by the centralisation of certain systems, such as academic publishing platforms and social media.

I share my findings on the feasibility of a decentralised and interoperable information space where researchers can control their identifiers whilst fulfilling the core functions of scientific communication: registration, awareness, certification, and archiving.

The contemporary research communication paradigm operates under a diverse set of sociotechnical constraints, which influence how units of research information and personal data are created and exchanged.

Economic forces and non-interoperable system designs mean that researcher identifiers and research contributions are largely shaped and controlled by third-party entities; participation requires the use of proprietary systems.

From a technical standpoint, this thesis takes a deep look at semantic structure of research artifacts, and how they can be stored, linked and shared in a way that is controlled by individual researchers, or delegated to trusted parties. Further, I find that the ecosystem was lacking a technical Web standard able to fulfill the awareness function of research communication.

Thus, I contribute a new communication protocol, Linked Data Notifications (published as a W3C Recommendation) which enables decentralised notifications on the Web, and provide implementations pertinent to the academic publishing use case. So far we have seen decentralised notifications applied in research dissemination or collaboration scenarios, as well as for archival activities and scientific experiments.

Another core contribution of this work is a Web standards-based implementation of a clientside tool, dokieli, for decentralised article publishing, annotations and social interactions. dokieli can be used to fulfill the scholarly functions of registration, awareness, certification, and archiving, all in a decentralised manner, returning control of research contributions and discourse to individual researchers.

The overarching conclusion of the thesis is that Web technologies can be used to create a fully functioning ecosystem for research communication. Using the framework of Web architecture, and loosely coupling the four functions, an accessible and inclusive ecosystem can be realised whereby users are able to use and switch between interoperable applications without interfering with existing data.

Technical solutions alone do not suffice of course, so this thesis also takes into account the need for a change in the traditional mode of thinking amongst scholars, and presents the Linked Research initiative as an ongoing effort toward researcher autonomy in a social system, and universal access to human- and machine-readable information.

Outcomes of this outreach work so far include an increase in the number of individuals self-hosting their research artifacts, workshops publishing accessible proceedings on the Web, in-the-wild experiments with open and public peer-review, and semantic graphs of contributions to conference proceedings and journals (the Linked Open Research Cloud).

Some of the future challenges include: addressing the social implications of decentralised Web publishing, as well as the design of ethically grounded interoperable mechanisms; cultivating privacy aware information spaces; personal or community-controlled on-demand archiving services; and further design of decentralised applications that are aware of the core functions of scientific communication.

URL : https://csarven.ca/linked-research-decentralised-web

Attitudes of North American Academics toward Open Access Scholarly Journals

Authors : Elizabeth D. Dalton, Carol Tenopir, Bo-Christer Björk

In this study, the authors examine attitudes of researchers toward open access (OA) scholarly journals.

Using two-step cluster analysis to explore survey data from faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers at large North American research institutions, two different cluster types emerge: Those with a positive attitude toward OA and a desire to reach the nonscholarly audience groups who would most benefit from OA (“pro-OA”), and those with a more negative, skeptical attitude and less interest in reaching nonscholarly readers (“non-OA”).

The article explores these cluster identities in terms of position type, subject discipline, and productivity, as well as implications for policy and practice.

URL : https://preprint.press.jhu.edu/portal/sites/ajm/files/20.1dalton.pdf

The fundamental problem blocking open access and how to overcome it: the BitViews project

Authors : Camillo Lamanna, Manfredi La Manna

In our view the fundamental obstacle to open access (OA) is the lack of any incentive-based mechanism that unbundles authors’ accepted manuscripts (AMs) from articles (VoRs).

The former can be seen as the public good that ought to be openly accessible, whereas the latter is owned by publishers and rightly paywall-restricted. We propose one such mechanism to overcome this obstacle: BitViews.

BitViews is a blockchain-based application that aims to revolutionize the OA publishing ecosystem. Currently, the main academic currency of value is the citation. There have been attempts in the past to create a second currency whose measure is the online usage of research materials (e.g. PIRUS).

However, these have failed due to two problems. Firstly, it has been impossible to find a single agency willing to co-ordinate and fund the validation and collation of global online usage data. Secondly, online usage metrics have lacked transparency in how they filter non-human online activity.

BitViews is a novel solution which uses blockchain technology to bypass both problems: online AMS usage will be recorded on a public, distributed ledger, obviating the need for a central responsible agency, and the rules governing activity-filtering will be part of the open-source BitViews blockchain application, creating complete transparency.

Once online AMS usage has measurable value, researchers will be incentivized to promote and disseminate AMs. This will fundamentally re-orient the academic publishing ecosystem.

A key feature of BitViews is that its success (or failure) is wholly and exclusively in the hands of the worldwide community of university and research libraries, as we suggest that it ought to be financed by conditional crowdfunding, whereby the actual financial commitment of each contributing library depends on the total amount raised.

If the financing target is not reached, then all contributions are returned in full and if the target is over-fulfilled, then the surplus is returned pro rata.

URL : The fundamental problem blocking open access and how to overcome it: the BitViews project

DOI : http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.488

 

Mapping the Publishing Challenges for an Open Access University Press

Authors : Megan Taylor

Managing a New University Press (NUP) is often a one-person operation and, with limits on time and resources, efficiency and effectiveness are key to having a successful production process and providing a high level of author, editor and reader services.

This article looks at the challenges faced by open access (OA) university presses throughout the publishing journey and considers ways in which these challenges can be addressed. In particular, the article focuses on six key stages throughout the lifecycle of an open access publication: commissioning; review; production; discoverability; marketing; analytics.

Approached from the point of view of the University of Huddersfield Press, this article also draws on discussions and experiences of other NUPs from community-led forums and events.

By highlighting the issues faced, and the potential solutions to them, this research recognises the need for a tailored and formalised production workflow within NUPs and also provides guidance how to begin implementing possible solutions.

URL : Mapping the Publishing Challenges for an Open Access University Press

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3390/publications7040063

Co-citations in context: Disciplinary heterogeneity is relevant

Authors : James Bradley, Sitaram Devarakonda, Avon Davey, Dmitriy Korobskiy, Siyu Liu, Djamil Lakhdar-Hamina, Tandy Warnow, George Chacko

Citation analysis of the scientific literature has been used to study and define disciplinary boundaries, to trace the dissemination of knowledge, and to estimate impact. Co-citation, the frequency with which pairs of publications are cited, provides insight into how documents relate to each other and across fields.

Co-citation analysis has been used to characterize combinations of prior work as conventional or innovative and to derive features of highly cited publications. Given the organization of science into disciplines, a key question is the sensitivity of such analyses to frame of reference.

Our study examines this question using semantically themed citation networks. We observe that trends reported to be true across the scientific literature do not hold for focused citation networks, and we conclude that inferring novelty using co-citation analysis and random graph models benefits from disciplinary context.

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_a_00007

Intellectual and social similarity among scholarly journals: An exploratory comparison of the networks of editors, authors and co-citations

Authors : Alberto Baccini, Lucio Barabesi, Mahdi Khelfaoui, Yves Gingras

This paper explores, by using suitable quantitative techniques, to what extent the intellectual proximity among scholarly journals is also proximity in terms of social communities gathered around the journals.

Three fields are considered: statistics, economics and information and library sciences. Co-citation networks represent intellectual proximity among journals. The academic communities around the journals are represented by considering the networks of journals generated by authors writing in more than one journal (interlocking authorship: IA), and the networks generated by scholars sitting on the editorial board of more than one journal (interlocking editorship: IE).

Dissimilarity matrices are considered to compare the whole structure of the networks. The CC, IE, and IA networks appear to be correlated for the three fields. The strongest correlation is between CC and IA for the three fields.

Lower and similar correlations are obtained for CC and IE, and for IE and IA. The CC, IE, and IA networks are then partitioned in communities. Information and library sciences is the field in which communities are more easily detectable, whereas the most difficult field is economics.

The degrees of association among the detected communities show that they are not independent. For all the fields, the strongest association is between CC and IA networks; the minimum level of association is between IE and CC.

Overall, these results indicate that intellectual proximity is also proximity among authors and among editors of the journals. Thus, the three maps of editorial power, intellectual proximity, and authors communities tell similar stories.

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_a_00006

Defining predatory journals and responding to the threat they pose: a modified Delphi consensus process

Authors : Samantha Cukier, Manoj M. Lalu, Gregory L. Bryson, Kelly D. Cobey, Agnes Grudniewicz, David Moher

Background

Posing as legitimate open access outlets, predatory journals and publishers threaten the integrity of academic publishing by not following publication best practices. Currently, there is no agreed upon definition of predatory journals, making it difficult for funders and academic institutions to generate practical guidance or policy to ensure their members do not publish in these channels.

Methods

We conducted a modified three-round Delphi survey of an international group of academics, funders, policy makers, journal editors, publishers and others, to generate a consensus definition of predatory journals and suggested ways the research community should respond to the problem.

Results

A total of 45 participants completed the survey on predatory journals and publishers. We reached consensus on 18 items out of a total of 33, to be included in a consensus definition of predatory journals and publishers.

We came to consensus on educational outreach and policy initiatives on which to focus, including the development of a single checklist to detect predatory journals and publishers, and public funding to support research in this general area.

We identified technological solutions to address the problem: a ‘one-stop-shop’ website to consolidate information on the topic and a ‘predatory journal research observatory’ to identify ongoing research and analysis about predatory journals/publishers.

Conclusions

In bringing together an international group of diverse stakeholders, we were able to use a modified Delphi process to inform the development of a definition of predatory journals and publishers.

This definition will help institutions, funders and other stakeholders generate practical guidance on avoiding predatory journals and publishers.

URL : Defining predatory journals and responding to the threat they pose: a modified Delphi consensus process

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1101/19010850