Omeka + BookCore = A Lightweight Repository for Open Access Book Pulishing

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Monograph Publishing / Open Access / Technology

When talking about Open Access to technologists, developers etc. the focus quickly shifts to repositories as well as the issue of automated metadata exchange. Essentially repositories are huge document stores that allow for the systematic description of documents with metadata. Additionally contemporary repository systems like DSpace, Fedora, Opus etc. usually provide a standardized OAI-PMH interface allowing data aggregators to harvest data from the repository and to include this data into their own catalogues. That’s an important feature which comes at considerable cost with the above mentioned systems. Even though they are Open Source they are designed for huge collections of Open Access publications and are thus rather complex. Installing and maintaining them easily becomes a full time job.

For small and medium publishers in the area of Open Access DSpace and the like are just too big, too powerful, and too complicated. Thus, we searched for a different solution. And we found one. Read More

Introducing the Open Access Journal Canvas

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Journal Publishing / Open Access

A while back we published the infographic „How to Start an Open Access Journal“ on this blog. Drawing on existing research on Open Access journals and the experiences we gained in the Hybrid Publishing Lab we originally assembled the poster for a workshop with a group of scholars interested in starting their own Open Access journal. Recently my colleague Andreas Kirchner and I have been conducting another workshop with doctoral and postdoctoral researchers from the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture at the Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen on the same topic. We took this occasion as an opportunity to create an “Open Access Journal Canvas” (PDF) which supplements the poster.

Open Access Journal Canvas Read More

Paving the Road to Open Access

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Links / Open Access

Christoph Kratky, current president of the Austrian Science Fund, published an insightful piece on the state of Open Access in Nature. For Kratky the disequilibrium between local OA policies and global publishers remains one of the biggest challenges the Open Access movement faces:

Yet despite this progress, a worrying imbalance remains between the efforts of research funders (including organizations that perform research), which can act only at a local level, and big publishing houses, which act globally. As a result, countries and institutions have different OA policies and behaviours that form a confusing patchwork. Some have explicit OA policies; others do not. Some require; others recommend. Some offer funds to pay for OA costs; others do not. Some have opted for ‘gold’ OA, which demands that publishers make papers freely available; others prefer ‘green’ OA, which allows researchers to archive the work.

This cannot be resolved on a national level according to Kratky. As a consequence he calls for Europe to take a leading role in the efforts to make publicly funded research outcomes available for free.

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Open Access (Books) vs. Double Dipping: An Ongoing Struggle

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Business Models / Open Access

The dispute amongst scholars and policy makers about which road to take to Open Access (gold or green) revolves to a great extend around the problem (or danger) of double dipping. It is widely acknowledged that publishers ought not to be allowed to charge twice for scientific publications, that is scholars and their public funders on the one hand and publicly funded libraries and readers on the other hand. On first glance this claim seems to be quite obvious as well as its solution appears to be trivial: when published open access a text has to be put online free of charge. Yet, that’s only part of the story.

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A victory for Open Access in Germany? Not quite!

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Yesterday the German parliament passed a law granting scientists the right to make their research available online after a period of twelve month independent of former agreements with publishers. On first glance this appears to be a good thing. Yet as always the devil lies in the detail. The law excludes the regular everyday research done in universities. This limitation has been justly criticized. Moreover the legislation falls short in another respect which is especially important to the humanities: The legal right is limited to publications in periodicals. Scholarly monographs and papers in edited volumes therefore cannot be made legally available online after the embargo period. So it comes back to the question under which conditions book publishers allow authors to make their books Open Access.

Heinz Pampel put together a great overview (in German) of the debates around the so-called ‘Zweitveröffentlichungsrecht’ on his blog

Another challenge for digital publishing: A quick and dirty thought piece

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The recent launch of the Digital Public Library of America and the Internet Archive’s release of a vast collection of historical software once more shows that the quest for Open Access to scientific publications is just one side of the story of scholarly digital publishing. Especially in the humanities the findability or even accessibility of historical resources on the Internet is considered to be of great importance. Even if their scope is not limited to scholars the DPLA and its European pendant Europeana as well as the Internet Archive provide invaluable resources for researchers all over the planet. Read More

Open Access Is Not Necessarily Good

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Open Access

Late last year Jeffrey Beall published an update to his list of Predatory Open Access Publishers. The list grew from 23 questionable publishers in 2011 to 225 in 2012.  With his list Beall reminds us that there is not just good in Open Access publishing:

The gold open-access model has given rise to a great many new online publishers. Many of these publishers are corrupt and exist only to make money off the author processing charges that are billed to authors upon acceptance of their scientific manuscripts.

The author pays business model opens the gates for fraudulent publishers looking to earn quick money that researchers are willing to spend in exchange for the publication of their articles. Even worse usually it’s not their own money because the fees are paid for by universities or other funding organizations.  Spending someone else’s money is easy. Therefore generally acknowledged standards for good Open Access publishing are needed.

What could these standards be? Beall gives a number of reasons why publishers are included in his black list. Yet, these are tentative criteria that just allow to identify possibly predatory journals or publishers. So the question remains how good is to be discerned from bad.

Update: Bealls comment encouraged me to take a closer look at his list of criteria for determining bad Open Access publishers. And he is right to a certain extend. I have been both too quick with my judgment and too imprecise. There are quite a few good criteria in place that allow authors and readers to decide whether a journal publisher is trustworthy or not. Nevertheless not all academic disciplines rely on journals as their primary means of publishing. Especially in the humanities there is still a strong emphasis on publishing books. In this realm some of Bealls criteria still apply, but some might be misleading. Even well renowned academic book publishers do not have a formal editorial or review board. What if one of these traditional publishers turns Open Access? Should it be labelled predatory?