Sustainability: Scholarly Repository as an Enterprise

The expanding need for an open information sharing infrastructure to promote scholarly communication led to the pioneering establishment of, now maintained by the Cornell University Library. To be sustainable, the repository requires careful, long term planning for services, management and funding. The library is developing a sustainability model for arXiv, based on voluntary contributions and the ongoing participation and support of 200 libraries and research laboratories around the world. The sustainability initiative is based on a membership model and builds on arXiv’s technical, service, financial and policy infrastructure.

Five principles for sustainability drive development, starting with deep integration into the scholarly community. Also key are a clearly defined mandate and governance structure, a stable yet innovative technology platform, systematic creation of content policies and strong business planning strategies. Repositories like arXiv must consider usability and lifecycle alongside values and trends in scholarly communication. To endure, they must also support and enhance their service by securing and managing resources and demonstrating responsible stewardship.


Confronting the Crisis in Scientific Publishing: Latency, Licensing and Access

The serials crisis in scientific publishing can be traced to the long duration of copyright protection and the assignment of copyright by researchers to publishers. Over-protection of scientific literature has enabled commercial publishers to increase subscription rates to a point at which access to scientific information has been curtailed with negative social welfare consequences. The uniformity costs imposed by such over-protection can be addressed by tailoring intellectual property rights, either through legal change or private ordering.

Current open access channels of distribution offer alternative approaches to scientific publishing, but neither the Green OA self-archiving nor the Gold OA author-pays models has yet achieved widespread acceptance. Moreover, recent proposals to abolish copyright protection for academic works, while theoretically attractive, may be difficult to implement in view of current legislative and judicial dispositions.

Likewise, funder open access mandates such as the NIH OA Policy, which are already responsible for the public release of millions of scientific articles, are susceptible to various risks and political uncertainty.

In this article, I propose an alternative private ordering solution based on latency values observed in open access stakeholder negotiation settings. Under this proposal, research institutions would collectively develop and adopt publication agreements that do not transfer copyright ownership to publishers, but instead grant publishers a one-year exclusive period in which to publish a work.

This limited period of exclusivity should enable the publisher to recoup its costs and a reasonable profit through subscription revenues, while restoring control of the article copyright to the author at the end of the exclusivity period. This balanced approach addresses the needs of both publishers and the scientific community, and would, I believe, avoid many of the challenges faced by existing open access models.


Sustainability of Open Access Services

“Although some services that support Open Access have developed a sustainable business model, many started as projects and continue to run on recurrent project funding or goodwill. If these are critical components of the evolving scholarly communication system the foundation of Open Access is vulnerable. Knowledge Exchange has commissioned this study as part of a larger programme of work to look at the issue of sustaining key services into the long term.

This report focuses on phases one and two of the programme. Phase one was a scoping exercise, carried out mainly through a literature review and an extensive stakeholder interview exercise, to describe the services that are currently available or would be valuable in the future. It also investigated what roles stakeholders could play in this future scenario.

Phase two was a stakeholder consultation and engagement exercise. The aim was to engage stakeholders with the work programme so that they could contribute their views, get involved with the work and have a voice in the thinking about future scenarios.

The key services are presented for three future scenarios: ‘Gold’ Open Access, fully ‘Green’ Open Access and Green’ Open Access supplementing subscription access as ‘Gold’ OA grows.

Three strategic areas are identified as having particular potential for future work. These are embedding business development expertise into service development; consideration of how to move money around the system to enable Open Access to be achieved optimally; and governance and coordination of the infrastructural foundation of Open Access. The report concludes with seven recommendations, both high-level and practical, for further work around these strategic areas.”


In science “there is no bad publicity”: Papers criticized in technical comments have high scientific impact

Technical comments are special types of scientific publications whose aim is to correct or criticize previously published papers. Often, comments are negatively perceived by the authors of the criticized articles because believed to make the commented papers less worthy or trusty to the eyes of the scientific community.

Thus, there is a tendency to think that criticized papers are predestined to have low scientific impact. We show here that such belief is not supported by empirical evidence. We consider thirteen major publication outlets in science and perform a large-scale analysis of the citation patterns of criticized publications.

We find that commented papers have not only average citation rates much higher than those of non commented articles, but also unexpectedly over-populate the set of the most cited publications within a journal. Since comments are published soon after criticized papers, comments can be viewed as early indicators of the future impact of criticized papers.

Our results represent one the most clear observations of the popular wisdom of “any publicity is good publicity”, according to which success might follow from negative criticisms, but for which there have been very few empirical validations so far.

Our results go also beyond, touching core topics of research in philosophy of science, because they emphasize the fundamental importance of scientific disputes for the production and dissemination of knowledge.


Open by default: a proposed copyright license and waiver agreement for open access research and data in peer-reviewed journals

Copyright and licensing of scientific data, internationally, are complex and present legal barriers to data sharing, integration and reuse, and therefore restrict the most efficient transfer and discovery of scientific knowledge. Much data are included within scientific journal articles, their published tables, additional files (supplementary material) and reference lists. However, these data are usually published under licenses which are not appropriate for data.

Creative Commons CC0 is an appropriate and increasingly accepted method for dedicating data to the public domain, to enable data reuse with the minimum of restrictions. BioMed Central is committed to working towards implementation of open data-compliant licensing in its publications. Here we detail a protocol for implementing a combined Creative Commons Attribution license (for copyrightable material) and Creative Commons CC0 waiver (for data) agreement for content published in peer-reviewed open access journals.

We explain the differences between legal requirements for attribution in copyright, and cultural requirements in scholarship for giving individuals credit for their work through citation. We argue that publishing data in scientific journals under CC0 will have numerous benefits for individuals and society, and yet will have minimal implications for authors and minimal impact on current publishing and research workflows.

We provide practical examples and definitions of data types, such as XML and tabular data, and specific secondary use cases for published data, including text mining, reproducible research, and open bibliography. We believe this proposed change to the current copyright and licensing structure in science publishing will help clarify what users — people and machines — of the published literature can do, legally, with journal articles and make research using the published literature more efficient.

We further believe this model could be adopted across multiple publishers, and invite comment on this article from all stakeholders in scientific research.


The Embedded Repository: Introducing an Institutional Repository to a New Audience Via Location-Aware Social Networking

Authors : Robin A. Bedenbaugh, Holly Mercer

The authors report the outcome of a partnership between a university marketing and communications department and a university library. The research aimed to determine whether providing links to institutional digital repository content on location-based social media is a viable marketing approach.

Foursquare Tips were added to locations on the Texas A&M University campus with links to repository content. The authors subsequently monitored repository traffic using Google analytics to determine how many users were being referred by the Foursquare service.

Research indicates that users will click through links on Foursquare to visit the institutional repository, and that they will explore further once they are there. This was an initial exploration. More data will be needed to determine precisely the best way to market services through location-based or location-aware services.”


Can’t surf, won’t surf: The digital divide in mental health

Background: New health information technology (HIT) increasingly plays a role in health care as technology becomes cheaper and more widespread. However, there is a danger that those who do not use or have access to technology will not benefit from HIT innovations, thus creating a “digital divide”.

Aims: To assess the extent to which mental health service users have access to, skills in using and appetite for various technologies.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was used to assess technology use and access patterns of 121 people from community mental health services. Data were analysed using logistic regression.

Results: Technology use and access were very similar to that of the general population with older individuals reporting less familiarity, access and confidence across a range of technologies. Black, minority and ethnic (BME) groups were more likely to access computers outside of their own homes than white individuals. Older participants experiencing psychosis indicated a desire to increase their computer use.

Conclusions: The findings reported here contrast with recent evidence suggesting that those who do not engage with technology are “self-excluders”. Furthermore, BME groups may need extra support regarding provision of technology in order to engage with HIT.