Category Archives: Current Topics

Worth a Read: Open Access and the transformation of academic publishing

This short piece by Brad Weiss provides a reflection on Cultural Anthropology’s transition to open access publishing and a thoughtful discussion of the questions which drove this decision and the subsequent questions which exiting from Wiley-Blackwell has raised.

After the American Anthropological Association began publishing its journals through Wiley-Blackwell in 2004, critics from the Society for Cultural Anthropology wondered:

why should academics give the products of their scholarly labor—in the form of both their articles and their work as reviewers—to a for-profit press that generates its revenue by selling those products back to our home institutions in the form of (rather expensive) library subscriptions?

This question sparked the beginning of a journey towards open access. Read the rest of the story here:

Open access and the transformation of academic publishing: A view from Cultural Anthropology

Parachute Researchers and Openness and Biopiracy

Interesting article at NPR’s Goats and Soda by Nurith Aizenman.  It discusses the concept of parachute researchers “Scientists from wealthy nations who swoop in when a puzzling disease breaks out in a developing country

Researchers drop in. They take specimens. And they head home and don’t share. That’s no way to fight an epidemic. Can they do things differently when it comes to Zika?

Source: Scientists Fighting Zika Vow To Stop Parachute Research, Share Discoveries Quickly And Widely : Goats and Soda : NPR

It is of relevance to some of the discussions we have been having on the ICIS project regarding biopiracy and the risks of the commons.  Although I note – I think this article did not quite get into a key aspect of the issue which is that even if researchers share everything there are still possible risks for the countries where samples have been taken.  This may be a major topic for a future ICIS meeting so stay tuned.

 

Looking at Open Science through the Prism of a Social Dilemma

The journal First Monday just published a paper by Kaja Scheliga and Sascha Friesike from the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society. The article is titled “Putting open science into practice: A social dilemma?” What follows is an abstract of the paper.

The essence of open science is to make the whole research process transparent and accessible. The idea of open science can be traced back to the days of the emergence of the scientific journal system when scientists started to publish their insights in the form of scientific papers instead of anagrams. In its current form, open science has gained a new dimension thanks to the internet which provides scientists with the technological means to share their insights on a potentially global scale.

Continue reading Looking at Open Science through the Prism of a Social Dilemma

Virtual Itineraries Through the Speculum Romanae

Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae, A125, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.
Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae, A125, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

The University of Chicago Library takes a cue from nearly 500 year old publishing practices  to curate personalized, “individually bound” introductions to their digital collection of the Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae:

In 1540 Antonio Lafreri, a native of Besançon transplanted to Rome, began publishing maps and other printed images that depicted major monuments and antiquities in Rome. These images were calculated to appeal to the taste for classical antiquity that fueled the cultural event we call the Renaissance. After Lafreri published a title page in the mid-1570s, collections of these prints came to be known as the Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae, the “Mirror of Roman Magnificence.” Tourists and other collectors who bought prints from Lafreri made their own selections and had them individually bound. Over time, Lafreri’s title page served as starting point for large and eclectic compilations, expanded and rearranged by generations of collectors.

Continue reading Virtual Itineraries Through the Speculum Romanae

Quick post – papers for sale

Well, this is much more elaborate than I could ever have imagined: For Sale: “Your Name Here” in a Prestigious Science Journal – Scientific American.  Seems that there are services out there to help people write, in essence, bogus scientific papers filled with pithy somewhat reasonable sounding phrases about certain topics.  Seems we could all use some more comprehensive full text analyses of papers to try and flag such activities.

An important read on “Impact Factor Mania” from Arturo Casadevall & Ferric Fang

Really important article in mBio: Causes for the Persistence of Impact Factor Mania.

Full citation : Casadevall A, Fang FC. 2014. Causes for the persistence of impact factor mania. mBio 5(2):e00064-14. doi:10.1128/mBio.00064-14.

In the article the authors discuss what they call “Impact Factor Mania” and outline what they believe the causes of it are (hyper competition for funding and jobs, paucity of objective measures of the importance of scientific work, hyper specialization of science, benefits to selected journals, benefits to scientists, national endorsements and prestige by association).  They then discuss some of the problems with such mania including distortions in the scientific enterprise, inability to accurately predict impact, ignoring many important studies, limited correlation between IF and article citation, imperfection of citation rate, delay in communications, and creation of perverse incentives.  They discuss some of the existing proposals for reform including DORA and a boycott of high impact journals.  And finally they discuss what scientists can do including: reforming criteria for funding and promotion, use of diverse metrics, increase interdisciplinary interactions, encourage elite journals to become less elite, and a return to essential scientific values.

The article is a perfect follow up on our recent “Publish or Perish” meeting.

Sarah Kendzior @sarahkendzior on “What’s the Point of Academic Publishing?”

In the run up to our meeting on “Publish or perish? The future of academic publishing and careers February 13 – 14, 2014 at UC Davis” I am going to be writing some blog posts about the topics of the meeting.  Just as I started to do a few web searches for one such post – I discovered a very timely article published a few days ago in Vitae: What’s the Point of Academic Publishing?.  The article is by Sarah Kendzior who is a writer who I have interacted with a few times here and there (she writes for Al Jazeera English and writes a lot about Academia).  It is an interesting read.