Category Archives: Uncategorized

CUNY Joins Nationwide OER Degree Program

Today, Achieving the Dream launches a major OER degree initiative to support student learning and degree completion through the use of openly licensed learning materials. I’m very excited to announce that CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College, and Hostos Community College are among the 38 participating community colleges thanks to the vision and leadership of Marsha Clark and Ann Fiddler in the Office of Library Services, along with colleagues throughout CUNY Libraries. The full press release from Achieving the Dream  is reprinted below.

 Achieving the Dream Launches Major National Initiative to Help 38 Community Colleges in 13 States Develop New Degree Programs Using Open Educational Resources

OER Degree Initiative will accelerate use of openly licensed learning materials in higher education and cut costs to students while improving degree and certificate completion

SAN FRANCISCO—June 14, 2016—The national community college reform network Achieving the Dream (ATD) today announced the largest initiative of its kind to develop degree programs using high quality open educational resources (OER). The initiative—which involves 38 community colleges in 13 states (see attached list of participating colleges)—is designed to help remove financial roadblocks that can derail students’ progress and to spur other changes in teaching and learning and course design that will increase the likelihood of degree and certificate completion.

The annual costs of textbooks are about $1,300 per year for a full-time community college student and amount to about a third of the cost of an Associate’s degree. This cost, research shows, is a significant barrier to college completion. Students who don’t complete college are over 50 percent more likely than those who graduated to cite textbook costs as a major financial barrier, according to a study by the research firm Public Agenda.

Equally important, using digital and interactive open educational resources such as open courseware will encourage faculty to teach students in more engaging and dynamic ways and invite students to become more actively involved in their own learning. The initiative’s requirement to create entire degree programs using OER also will trigger a careful re-examination of course content and sequencing to build up-to-date, cohesive degree programs. These degrees will be available to a minimum of 76,000 students over a three-year period.

The effort is intended to spark more rapid adoption of OER within higher education, beginning with community colleges. Today, there are enough open educational materials to replace textbooks in required courses in four two-year programs: business administration, general education, natural or general science, and social science. But only a few colleges are using those resources. There is also a significant body of OER in computer science.

The OER Degree Initiative will create a library of high-quality, digital, open courses available to other institutions and the public at large. Making resources easily available to all is expected to encourage OER adoption even at non-participating institutions.

A Culture Change
“This initiative will help further transform teaching and learning in the nation’s community colleges,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “ Extensive use of OER will enable students to have access to more dynamic learning tools and a richer academic experience at a cost that will help more students complete their studies.”
Achieving the Dream recently unveiled a new approach to improving student success and completion that helps colleges develop institutional capacities essential to implementing sweeping initiatives like OER degrees. Leading the OER Degree initiative will allow ATD and the participating colleges to expand their understanding of impactful teaching and learning across entire degree programs.

“Through the OER Degree Initiative, these community colleges are simultaneously addressing two important challenges faced by educators and students: Not only will they provide their faculty the flexibility and academic freedom to align their open educational resources to curriculum objectives, but also, by lowering textbook costs, they will make it far more likely that their students will achieve the goal of attaining a degree,” said Barbara Chow, education program director at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.“
Colleges involved in the effort will need to integrate OER into their course redesign processes and update professional development to prepare instructors to use open, digital content most effectively,” said David Wiley, an international expert on OER and Chief Academic Officer of Lumen Learning, a key partner in the initiative. “Over the next three years, colleges will create systems and structures that better connect curriculum and pedagogy to what students need to learn to be successful in academic disciplines and the workplace.”

The $9.8 million in funding for the initiative comes from a consortium of investors that includes the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, the Shelter Hill Foundation, and the Speedwell Foundation.

Results of Previous Efforts
Colleges and states that have introduced OER initiatives have already seen significant results.

“Some of Virginia’s community colleges have led the way in using OER content exclusively,” says Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s community college system. “Studies of our institutions have shown that OER reduces costs and contributes to better grades, higher course completion rates, and faster degree completion.”

Tidewater Community college, for example, was the first community college to adopt an open educational resources degree which enables students to complete a two-year degree in business administration with no textbook costs. Tidewater’s “Z-Degree” program has experienced high student satisfaction levels, improved student retention, and an estimated 25 percent reduction in college costs for students (tuition and books).

Northern Virginia Community College’s pilot OER courses have increased pass rates by nine percent compared to non-OER courses.

A recent multi-school study found that students using OER took an average fall semester credit load of 13.3, compared to 11.1 credits for students using traditional books. If this holds, students using OER would complete their degrees a full year earlier for a 60 credit-hour degree.

How the Initiative Will Work
ATD will help colleges make OER degrees critical elements of their student success efforts. Lumen Learning will provide technical assistance; SRI International will evaluate the initiative and conduct research on how OER degrees impact student success and the institutions providing them; and the Community College Consortium of Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) will facilitate a community of practice.

At the completion of the Initiative, all approved OER courses will be available through a comprehensive, easily accessible online platform.

Achieving the Dream will serve as initiative intermediary, managing grants to all the institutions, overseeing implementation, and ensuring programmatic fidelity. ATD will monitor college progress, provide guidance on change management and institutional transformation, and assure effective integration of OER Degree partner support and guidance.

Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree.

Colleges Participating in the OER Degree Initiative
Colleges and systems were selected through a competitive grant process based on their ability and capacity to implement OER degree programs, offer the full complement of degree courses quickly, or quickly scale the number of sections offered.

State Institutions
AZ (1) Pima Community College
CA (2) Santa Ana College
West Hills College Lemoore
CT (1) Housatonic Community College
FL (2) Broward College
Florida State College at Jacksonville 
MA (1) Bunker Hill Community College
MD (1) Montgomery College Foundation
MI (1) Bay College
MN (3) Distance Minnesota Consortium (Alexandria Technical and Community College, Northland Community and Technical College, Northwest Tech )
NY (9) CUNY Consortium (Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College, Hostos Community College)
SUNY Consortium (Clinton Community College, Herkimer Community College, Mohawk Valley Community College, Monroe Community College, Tompkins Cortland Community College)
NC (1) Forsyth Technical Community College
TX (8) Odessa College
Texas Consortium: Alamo Colleges (Northeast Lakeview College, Northwest Vista College, Palo Alto College, San Antonio College, St. Philip’s College), Austin Community College, San Jacinto Community College, El Paso Community College
VA (6) Virginia Community College Consortium (Central Virginia Community College, Germanna Community College, Lord Fairfax Community College, Mountain Empire Community College, Northern Virginia Community College, Tidewater Community College)
WA (2) Lake Washington Institute of Technology
Pierce College

Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams – working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

Event Announcement: Academic Works Posting Party at John Jay College

The Lloyd Sealy Library and the Office for the Advancement of Research at John Jay College invite you to an Academic Works posting party. Tuesday May 31, 1-3, in the Library classroom.  Come learn how CUNY’s institutional repository, Academic Works, can help maximize your research impact and your rights as an author. We will demonstrate how to post your work to CUNY’s Academic Works and chat about copyright and author rights over cookies and coffee.

Schedule
1:00  – 1:30  Formal presentation
1:30 – 3:00  Hands-on practice – post your own files to Academic Works using our computers

If you cannot attend our half hour presentation, please do feel free to drop by at any time from 1:30 to 3 for the hands-on session.  Bring your electronic files and we will post them together.  We welcome pdfs of published articles, conference presentations in PowerPoint or other form, book chapters, etc.

We will have coffee and cookies. Please RSVP to Ellen Sexton (Lloyd Sealy Library) so we get the quantities right.

Art History Pedagogy and Practice launches in Digital Commons

Art History Teaching Resources (AHTR), in partnership with the Office of Library Services, is excited to announce the launch of Art History Pedagogy and Practice (AHPP) on Academic Works’ Digital Commons platform. Published by AHTR, a practitioner-led open educational resource for educators who address art history, visual, and material culture, AHPP is the first academic journal dedicated to the scholarship of teaching and learning in art history (SoTL-AH). The result of a two year initiative, AHPP responds to a long-standing need to advance, collect, disseminate, and demonstrate pedagogical research specific to the discipline. The CFP  for the inaugural issue, forthcoming in Fall 2016, is available on the AHTR website.

SoTL in Art History

AHPP results from a two year initiative that sought to examine the ways in which art historians devote time, effort, and energy to classroom teaching, curriculum development, and student engagement. Generously funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, AHTR began preliminary research in 2015, which included a field-wide survey conducted by Randi Korn and Associates and a literature review assessing existing pedagogical scholarship in art history. These findings were synthesized in a White Paper  that demonstrated the need for SoTL-AH to be acknowledged as a legitimate area of intellectual inquiry by the institutions and communities encompassing academic art history. As a peer-reviewed journal devoted to SoTL-AH, AHPP will facilitate this process by providing scholars a forum to share research on pedagogical topics, and by encouraging further academic investigation and discourse around teaching and learning in art history

AHTR

AHPP builds on the success of AHTR as a platform to exchange ideas related to pedagogy in art history.  Founded on dual goals to raise the value of the academic labor of teaching and to provide peer support across ranks of tenured, tenure-track, and contingent instructors, AHTR began as a collaboration between Michelle Millar Fisher at the Graduate Center and Karen Shelby at Baruch College in 2011. Fisher, then a Graduate Teaching Fellow with a background in museum education, and Shelby, then an Assistant Professor of Art History, organized meetings where colleagues shared teaching materials and experiences. These gatherings suggested potential for a digital forum to connect a wider community of practitioners, and gave rise to the arthistoryteachingresources.org website, which launched publicly in 2013.  Since that time, the site has had more than 400,000 hits from over 91,000 educators in K-12, post-secondary institutions, and art museums, and from academic support staff including reference librarians and curriculum designers. AHTR’s administration has similarly expanded to a leadership collective of art historians, ranging in experience from early career scholars to those well established in the field, and an advisory network assembled for expertise and leadership in art history, museum education, and digital humanities, and united by their interest in advancing pedagogical research. The unique relationship between AHPP and AHTR will allow scholars access to diverse resources about teaching and learning, including lesson plans and the AHTR Weekly on the OER, and peer-reviewed articles published in the journal.

AHPP in Digital Commons

In choosing the Digital Commons platform, AHPP is enthusiastic to extend the relationship with CUNY that was first established when AHTR was born out of the Graduate Center’s New Media Lab with support from Baruch Learning and Technology Grants.  In keeping with the site’s origins, AHTR also contracted CHIPS, a New York web development studio known for innovative work with cultural institutions including The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Timeline of Art History and 82nd and Fifth, who had redesigned the AHTR website in 2014 to create AHPP’s logo and site design.

The editors, editorial collective, and advisory board of AHPP are excited to join the Office of Library Services in the broader open access movement and for the ways in which contributions to the journal will be utilized in the fields of SoTL, art history, and beyond. AHPP worked closely with Megan Wacha (Office of Library Services) and Jill Cirasella (CUNY Graduate Center) to develop editorial policies and guidelines that are transparent to authors and readers.

Why submit to CUNY Academic Works? John Jay’s Jeffrey Kroessler shares his story.

This guest post originally appeared as “CUNY Academic Works: Get your work out there!” in the Fall 2015 Newsletter of the Lloyd Sealy Library at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

In 2014 I published “Bombing for Justice: Urban Terrorism in New York City from the 1960s through the 1980s” in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Annual: Global Perspectives, a volume edited by Chief Librarian Larry Sullivan. How can you find this article? The answer is: you cannot. It exists only as a chapter in that book and is not indexed in any databases. Only a half dozen libraries have it on their shelves. Unless it is there you won’t know to search for it. How frustrating! All that research, inaccessible.

Enter CUNY Academic Works. I created an account and uploaded the piece. Now, entering the search terms terrorism, New York, and FALN in Google brings up the article. What had been locked away is now findable and citable, and the work can now join the scholarly discussion already in progress. Furthermore, everything entered into Academic Works can be accessed through OneSearch, the Library’s new search tool.

We assume that all our publications are captured by digital searches, but that is not the case. For American history, the primary database is America History and Life. If an article is not indexed there, it may as well not exist. My 2011 article in the Long Island History Journal, “Brooklyn’s Thirst, Long Island’s Water: Consolidation, Local Control, and the Aquifer,” is not in that database. Uploading it to Academic Works will greatly enhance the likelihood that researchers will find it. In addition, I uploaded a PowerPoint presentation to Academic Works on the same topic.

To reach a wider audience, faculty should submit their book chapters, research in progress, and presentations to this institutional repository. After all, publishing is pointless unless it finds readers.

Jeffrey Kroessler

Open Access @ CUNY IT Conference 2015

The City University of New York’s 14th Annual IT Conference is happening tomorrow and Friday, and I couldn’t be more excited to attend and participate. While many of the sessions are of interest to open access advocates, I thought it’d be helpful to identify those sessions that specifically focus on open access here at CUNY — and there are a lot of them! (Did I miss one? Add it in the comments!) Check out the conference website for descriptions of all the great sessions happening over the next two days.

Thursday, December 3rd, 2:15P

Digital Preservation: You Built It, But Can We Preserve It?
Despite the ease of creation, the web is ephemeral. The fleeting nature of websites present a challenge to repositories when a record needs to be preserved. The Graduate Center Library was recently presented with this challenge with the increase of submissions of online components to dissertations. This session will focus on the need to capture a snapshot, the limitations of current normative practices and some alternative approaches.

Friday, December 4th, 9:30A

Technical and Conceptual Challenges of Developing the CUNY Digital History Archive (CDHA)
This roundtable explores the process of creating a democratically produced digital archive on CUNY’s rich history. Presenters will describe the CDHA’s evolution and the decision to customize the Omeka web tool for the archive’s backend and online display. The presenters, which includes historical contributors, the Omeka programmer, lead scholar, archivist and project director, will demonstrate CDHA online collections and discuss the technical and conceptual challenges involved in archiving CUNY’s history.

From Blog Posts to a Peer-Reviewed Journal: Art History Pedagogy and Practice
Art History Teaching Resources (AHTR), a peer-supported CUNY faculty initiative, is developing Art History Pedagogy and Practice (AHPP), an e-journal devoted to scholarship of teaching and learning in art history that responds to the lack of pedagogical research in the discipline. This session will outline the process of building an open-access platform to advance, collect, disseminate and foster academic consideration of pedagogical practice and its scholarly value.

Friday, December 4th, 1:00P

Merging the Digital and the Experiential in Science Forward
In Science Forward, a CUNY-built scientific literacy course, students experience projects and digital materials that build community and contextualize the place of science in their lives. Presenters will highlight both field work and digital tools that make Science Forward a unique, accessible and necessary innovation. Presenters will give hands-on demonstrations of tools, examples of projects and discuss how other disciplines can develop opportunities that meld experiential learning and digital platforms.

Lowering Costs, Increasing Engagement: Open Source Online Readers in History
The History Department at Bronx Community College developed an in-house, open-access online primary source reader for its World History course. We edited nearly 100 sources and created an ePortfolio website for them. The website improves student learning by reducing barriers of access to documents and making documents portable. It continues to evolve to suit faculty who use it to increase student participation and to develop new metacognitive strategies.

Building and Crowdsourcing Faculty Resources with Open Educational Resources (OERs)
It can be difficult to efficiently convey expectations for a course to new teachers – especially adjuncts who often only have a few weeks (or days) to get acquainted with a syllabus before their first class. This session will discuss the benefits of using a simple, well-organized website to provide course material, how to strike a balance between standardization and academic freedom and opportunities for collaboration and crowdsourcing.

Friday, December 4th, 2:15P

Opening CUNY: Academic Works at Work
Academic Works, CUNY’s new open access institutional repository, collects and provides public access to the scholarly and creative works produced by CUNY faculty, students and staff. This program will show how opening content to the world impacts CUNY, as each speaker addresses collections at their institution: dissertations at The Graduate Center, Open Educational Resources at Brooklyn College, the “Save Hostos” archival collection at Hostos Community College and faculty research from across CUNY.

City Tech’s OpenLab: Community Innovation and Integration
This panel showcases recent OpenLab community-building innovations: faculty-generated repositories for General Education assignments and Open Educational Resources; First-Year Learning Communities’ shared spaces for interaction among faculty, students and peer mentors; The Buzz student blog for discussion and community building among students; and a usability study that surveys faculty engagement and recommends best practices. Presenters will highlight the OpenLab’s new mobile-friendly design and future initiatives, including cohort-based projects and collaborations across CUNY.

Why Be Open Access? City Tech’s Sean Scanlan Shares His Story

nano-screengrab

For Open Access Week 2015, Ursula C. Schwerin Library (New York City College of Technology, CUNY) is highlighting our college’s own open access journal, NANO: New American Notes Online. Why did NANO’s editor and founder, Sean Scanlan, opt to make his journal open access?

NANO: New American Notes Online‘s mission is to “invigorate humanities discourse by publishing brief, peer-reviewed reports with a fast turnaround enabled by new technologies.” Issues are themed and articles often incorporate multimedia.

Monica Berger: Why specifically did you choose to make NANO an open access journal? I read your Open Access Statement, but please tell us more about how you and others involved in the creation of the journal reached this place.

Sean Scanlan: Thank you for inviting me to share my ideas on Open Access and academic journals. My journal was conceived to be Open Access from the beginning and I’d like to tell that story now.

In 1997, when I was getting my Master’s degree in English at the University of Missouri St. Louis, I applied to go to a critical theory conference at Cornell University. I met people from all over the world, and one of my friends, Thomas, was from Kerala, India, and he was the most excited person I’ve ever met to be at a literary conference. The reason that he was so excited was that his travels and commitment to come to New York relied upon a funding operation that exceeded the usual travel funds of his university by an enormous factor. Simply put: everybody he knew had contributed to his arrival at Cornell.

But I didn’t understand the core issue of what scholarly access meant until Thomas and I talked about libraries. During our down time, we often visited the main library at Cornell. It was a thing to marvel at—nearly 8 million volumes. Many times he said to me: there is nothing I could not accomplish with such a library at my home institution. And now, after seeing this, I feel that there is nothing I can accomplish back in Kerala.

“Why is that?” I asked.

“Because I have to compete to get my work published in US journals against scholars who have access to all this.”

Even though I was in the US, it hit me that my small state university had a small fraction of Cornell’s holdings, and so I too would face such access problems. I’ve talked to many colleagues who have shared a story or two about not getting at a vital piece of research due to access. I realized that the institution of the academy, an institution that I thought was ethical and open to all had a dirty secret: it had good qualities but it was grossly unequal. Scholars should not be limited to their small research holdings, they should not be constrained even by small consortiums of libraries, they should be able to access world-class holdings.

In addition to Thomas’s story, I want to add an idea I gleaned from the legal scholar Eben Moglen, who has written about intellectual property and sharing. He argues that potential Shakespeares and Einsteins of the world should not suffer because of a lack of scholarly resources—but as of now, they do. Why? Because rules that protect intellectual property have been contorted to protect not the thinker, but the employer of the thinker.  Intellectual property rights now are ways to provide funding streams to publishers who want to not only cover their costs, but also provide shareholder returns. If universities were selling sneakers, then perhaps such a profit model would be ethical, but education is not sneaker selling, especially not public university education.

In fact, the public university has an ethical obligation to make, at the very least, some of the research it produces available for no cost to the public. This is not only ethical, it will help bring in new students, new teachers, and even more funding. Sharing scholarly information is the way that new scholarship is enabled, and the result of newest, best ideas will be growth in a following of eager students and eager faculty. And following them will be increased resources. This happens all the time, look at those research institutions that have promoted cognitive neuroscience or digital humanities.

Open Access is an idea accelerator and impact accelerator, thus, it is resource generator, only certain factions cannot see this very positive event horizon.

The last part of this longish answer borrows from a blog post by Daniel Cohen who writes about Digital Humanities and the cost of publishing online. He says the Social Contract of Scholarly Publishing is what happens between authors, editors, and readers. This contract says that readers will read published work if they know that the manuscript has minimal errors, that the footnotes are accurate, that the fonts and navigation systems are clear and high quality. But does it matter if it is printed on paper, if the book is hardcover, if the imprint has grudging respect? I want to propose the idea of the Public University Social Contract. Such a contract improves the supply side of Cohen’s metaphor by putting more into the editing and less into the prestige of paper and bindings, more into the fast turnaround of publishing—and less into the cues of name-brands. The Public University Social Contract would state that publishing means sharing above all else—not as money-loser, but the complete opposite: as a way to enhance the missions of educate and improve knowledge, validate, build-upon, and propagate conversations and collegial bonds: in short to build trust among a vastly larger network of scholars, thereby gaining the respect of the world, so that Thomas can cite a vast number of articles and books, and so that Thomas’s work can, in turn, get cited by scholars at City Tech and beyond.

Sharing and Ensnaring… by Beth Evans

At the start of Open Access Week, Oct. 19 – 25th, we offer a reflection on sharing and scholarly communication by:

Professor Beth Evans, Coordinator of Digital Scholarship Initiatives & Electronic Services Librarian, Faculty Fellow to the Office of the Dean of Humanities and Social Science,  Brooklyn College, bevans@brooklyn.cuny.edu

Sharing and Ensnaring: When Collaborative Research has a Run in with the Law and Racial Profiling

The abuse of authority by law enforcement is, unfortunately, not a new topic in the news.  From the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri to the choking of Eric Gardner in Staten Island, New York, headlines cry out the injustice and we all begin to wonder if those hired to protect us present the greatest threat to our safety.

Academia is often envisioned as an ivory tower set far apart from the gritty reality of urban streets.  Its workforce of faculty do not struggle as do many African-Americans with the challenges of unemployment. They support themselves through the work of their minds and eschew a livelihood of selling loose cigarettes outside of a neighborhood bodega.  So when law enforcement comes down with a heavy hand on a college campus and throws its weight at an innocent, we are shocked by the setting, but should hardly be shocked by the racism implicit in the abuse of authority.  Moreover, when this racist and heavy-handed move into our ivory tower has found its way in because of the welcome tendency of academics to be eager to share openly their scholarship, alarm bells must ring and those who champion open access must make ready to face the threat.

In May of 2015 the United States Department of Justice Department arrested Xi Xiaoxing the chairman of Temple University’s physics department, and a Chinese-born, naturalized American citizen, on wire-fraud charges. What might have been treated as a breach of contract civil case had the individual involved not been Chinese-born, the DOJ pursued the case as though Professor Xi had been spying when he shared, what they thought was, sensitive, American-made technology with China.  As it turned out, the U.S. government was wrong in its accusations, and “did not understand — and did not do enough to learn — the science at the heart of [Professor Xi’s] case.”  The government’s misunderstanding of the blueprints upon which it based its argument was hardly a comedy of errors and came closer to a tragedy that almost destroyed a scholar’s career.

This was not the first time that the U. S. government egregiously went after a Chinese-American with accusations of spying. In the fall of 2014, the FBI arrested Sherry Chen in Wilmington, Ohio, a flood-caster at the National Weather Service.  They accused her of secretly passing information about American dams to high-ranking Chinese officials.  Chen, like Xi, was exonerated, but not first without suffering in her personal and professional life.

American scientists and researchers like others often work collaboratively or consult with colleagues both close and abroad.  The open access movement in scholarly communications, championed by librarians, is meant to encourage such work.  With the paywalls knocked down around published information and communications made easy through readily-available internet access, it is common place for colleagues to share neither a lab nor a nation.  Nonetheless, research thrives, the miles between the researchers melt away, and the public can only benefit from the fast and easy dispersal of valuable scientific information.

Reporting recently in the New York Times on the awarding of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, William J. Broad observed that “[t]his week’s three Nobel Prizes reflect the globalization of science, which the United States often dominated in the last century.”  In addition to the awarding of the prize to Chinese doctor Youyou Tu for her discovery of a malaria therapy, the Nobel committee awarded half of the prize to be shared by William C. Campbell, formerly of Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research in NJ, and Satoshi Ōmura, emeritus professor at Kitasato University in Tokyo, Japan for their discoveries of therapies used against infections caused by roundworm parasites.

This was not the first time researchers, separated by thousands of miles and international borders, shared a Nobel Prize for collaborative work.  In 2014, the committee awarded another shared Nobel Prize, this one in Chemistry to Eric Betzig of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Virginia, Stefan W. Hell of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry and the German Cancer Research Center in Germany and William E. Moerner of Stanford University in California for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy.

No FBI agents or Department of Justice came after the Irish-American William Campbell for working with the Japanese Satoshi Omura, Nor did they surround the suburban homes of Eric Betzig and William Moerner for their liaison activities with the German scientist Stefan Hell. But would things have been different for both sets of Nobel laureates, had the year been 1943 and any American scientist seen in a relationship with a citizen of an axis nation was immediately suspect? We know that during the Second World War, innocent Japanese-American citizens of all walks of life were seen as dangerous to American security and were rounded up en mass for no reason other than the nationality of their ancestors. Lives were put on hold and creativity and productivity were squashed, all in the name of an approved policy of racial profiling for the sake of national security.

If the open access movement in scholarly communications is to survive and thrive, ill-guided interference by governmental authorities in the work of researchers in any nation, often nourished and grossly contorted by unhealthy xenophobia and profiling, must be kept in check. If not, researchers will close themselves in their labs, turn off contact with the outside world, and the pace of innovation and life-saving creation will grind to a halt. Little new research will be produced, open to all or otherwise.

Interview with Peter Suber on Open Access – Library Journal, Sept. 30, 2015

Here are thoughtful comments on OA from Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication (OSC), Director of the Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP), a Faculty Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and Senior Researcher at the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC):

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/09/opinion/not-dead-yet/an-interview-with-peter-suber-on-open-access-not-dead-yet/#_

And here is a recent article on a study of the use of Subject Repositories:

“The Role of arXiv, RePEc, SSRN and PMC in Formal Scholarly Communication”  (DigitalKoans)

Xuemei Li has self-archived “The Role of arXiv, RePEc, SSRN and PMC in Formal Scholarly Communication.”

Here’s an excerpt:

The four major Subject Repositories (SRs), arXiv, Research Papers in Economics (RePEc), Social Science Research Network (SSRN) and PubMed Central (PMC), are all important within their disciplines but no previous study has systematically compared how often they are cited in academic publications. In response, this article reports an analysis of citations to SRs from Scopus publications, 2000 to 2013.

 

 

 

Elsevier: Ever More Evil (aka Why Do Authors Boycott Elsevier?)

(Note: This post has been updated and expanded to match the post at the Graduate Center Library blog.)

You may have heard of the Cost of Knowledge, a site where researchers publicly express their upset with the business practices of the publisher Elsevier and commit not to contribute to Elsevier journals. As of today, 15,034 researchers have pledged to boycott Elsevier as an author, editor, and/or peer reviewer.

You might wonder: What has Elsevier has done to cause so many researchers to boycott them?

A primary complaint is their exorbitant product pricing — pricing that allows them to profit richly (with profit margins close to 40%) off nonprofit organizations such as academic libraries. (The Graduate Center Library pays dearly for its subscriptions to Elsevier’s Scopus database and ScienceDirect “big deal” journal package (which, yes, includes many essential journals but also includes many journals that are never used). So dearly that our other collection choices are severely constrained.)

Of course, as is the norm in scholarly publishing, Elsevier does not pay its authors — the creators of its journal content — for their work. So they’re reaping huge profits off free labor. And that brings us to another major complaint: their treatment of authors. Elsevier recently released a new article-sharing policy for authors, and it is not good for authors.

To their credit, sort of, they’ve corrected a horrifying problem with their earlier policy — namely, the bizarro policy of allowing authors at universities without open access policies to make their accepted manuscripts open access, but not authors at universities with such policies (i.e., “You retain the right to post if you wish but not if you must!”).

But…instead of introducing better terms across the board, Elsevier’s new policy imposes worse terms across the board. Specifically, their new policy imposes embargoes on ALL accepted author manuscripts, many of them 24- or 36-month embargoes, and some of them 48-month embargoes! This means that authors cannot broadly share (e.g., in CUNY Academic Works) their peer-reviewed manuscripts (we’re just talking about the final manuscript versions, not the publisher’s PDFs) until those very long embargo expires.

Needless to say, many researchers are very upset. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), and 21 other groups have released this statement of opposition:

On April 30, 2015, Elsevier announced a new sharing and hosting policy for Elsevier journal articles. This policy represents a significant obstacle to the dissemination and use of research knowledge, and creates unnecessary barriers for Elsevier published authors in complying with funders’ open access policies. In addition, the policy has been adopted without any evidence that immediate sharing of articles has a negative impact on publishers’ subscriptions.

Despite the claim by Elsevier that the policy advances sharing, it actually does the opposite. The policy imposes unacceptably long embargo periods of up to 48 months for some journals. It also requires authors to apply a “non-commercial and no derivative works” license for each article deposited into a repository, greatly inhibiting the re-use value of these articles. Any delay in the open availability of research articles curtails scientific progress and places unnecessary constraints on delivering the benefits of research back to the public.

Furthermore, the policy applies to “all articles previously published and those published in the future” making it even more punitive for both authors and institutions. This may also lead to articles that are currently available being suddenly embargoed and inaccessible to readers.

As organizations committed to the principle that access to information advances discovery, accelerates innovation and improves education, we support the adoption of policies and practices that enable the immediate, barrier free access to and reuse of scholarly articles. This policy is in direct conflict with the global trend towards open access and serves only to dilute the benefits of openly sharing research results.

We strongly urge Elsevier to reconsider this policy and we encourage other organizations and individuals to express their opinions.

If you are also upset by Elsevier’s new policy, you can add your name to the statement.

And if the new policy has made you reconsider your willingness to contribute to Elsevier publications, you may want to consider signing the Cost of Knowledge pledge.

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Image is © Michael Eisen, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license