Reinventing University Publishing, day one, pm session

by Paul Maharg on 17/03/2015

This is Changing Horizons, the first panel session after the keynote which I had to miss.  Also missed first two presentations in this session.  Third up, Belinda Tiffen, Director Library Resources Unit and Scott Abbott, UTS ePRESS Project Officer, UTS, – ‘Keep calm and unlock research: reinventing UTS ePRESS.  Focused mostly on OA academic journals, a platinum OA model (free to read and free to publish in).  Books are not really their business but they’ve published 23 to date.  Their future plans, after 10 year celebration?  Belinda showed the roarmap on OA publishing. Problems with predatory publishers, measuring impact (because research impact measures still favour traditional metrics).  13 changes they wanted to make, some of them as follows:

  1. branding to increase visibility and ‘saleability’.  Original site was an out of the box OJS.  Now they have a more visual site, with covers for the journals having visual identities.  Article downloads doubled in 2014, possibly as a result of rebrand.  Journal managers pleased with the changes.
  2. They use uniform CC-BY licences across the board – for libre OA.
  3. HTML and PDF formats, to remove technical barriers to reuse.
  4. Added DOI, to maximise impact through increased findability
  5. Use of iThenticate to increase quality and reduce editor workload – serious stats presented here re plagiarism, questionable data analysis, etc.
  6. measuring success — includes qualitative measures such as assessments by external bodies.  Used measures such as getting journals in DOAJ.  Citations have risen since 2010 for a typical journal, Portal, as have downloads, and the global distribution of readers and authors has diversified.  Alt metrics show this too, eg Fb likes, and articles saves in Mendeley.

They also want to expand monograph publication.  Also they’ve begun MediaObject — written by artists and researchers, which is a multimedia, peer-reviewed publication.  How can they create sustainable business models?  No firm plan yet on that, still experimenting. Eg use of students’ creative art on the site.  Freemium models retain open access but provide value-added series.  Eg for a monograph — Lace Narrative explores intersections between the handcrafted milieu and technology.  Imagine the free online book with basic content, with paid for supplementary digital resources, or hard copy limited editions of the work(s).    Global Open Access — they took the approach of Dominic Babini, CLASCSO, 2014.  It’s a collaborative freemium model, with secure basic open access (no fee for users, no fee for publishing), and with research output in shared interoperability. So they work collaboratively with other presses into OA, and the Open Library, as well as Google Books and Amazon.

Mention was made at questions about COPE which I hadn’t heard about — must find out more.  Very good session – again, because staff are freely talking about practice as well as theory.

The second afternoon session, chaired by Lorena Kanellopoulos, Manager, ANU Press, is on publishing options and OA monographs.  First up, Jason Ensor, Research & Technical development manager, Digital Humanities, and Michael Gonzalez, Associate Librarian, U of Western Sydney – ‘It’s time to pull out the stopper: rethinking impact in post-print scholarship’.  Difficult to hear speaker.  They seem to use a collaborative framework between School of Hums and Comms Arts and UWS Library, and use NTRO – non-traditional research output or Now taking research outside.  They developed the Journal Finder – help researchers publish by providing information on how a journal counts towards a particular field.  They’re trying to upturn academic publishing, by breaking the container, ie questioning what an article is.  Articles can talk to other articles, with loose formatting requirements.  There’s scope for recognition of non-traditional outputs, merging raw data with article, even data-only articles.  Peer review…  Peer reviewers are invited by volume editors.  Peer review pros could be published with accepted original draft submission, in full.  Disclosure of PR identities to public and authors makes the whole process public and limits intergeneration gatekeeping, eg peer reviewer stats published @  On Rights… Author holds copyright with no restrictions, may post any version to any repository or website; generous reuse dan remixing rights (CC BY Licence) open source model of software development.  Publishing…  Variation on social reading platform / journal management software for packaging original submissions, peer review reports and final versions.  Semantic publishing where the citable unit is an argument or passage (nice granulation).  So rethinking everything!  New ways of reading, rethinking containers, impact, (measuring networks rather than leaderboards) open research: access + content + data.  See  They showed the project – looks interesting.

Next up, Ben Johnson, HEFCE on Monographs and OA.  He first set out the funding environment of HEFCE, place of the REF.  OA: Finch Report and govt policy; Research Councils introducing policy (and Wellcome Trust), and in 2014, funding bodies introduced Green Policy.  HEFCE’s view is that publications arising from publicly funded research should be made as widely and openly available as possible.  Monographs not covered.  Why just journals?  Because digital publishing is normal, lots of opportunity, text reigns supreme (?), manuscripts are shared, there is academic acceptance of OA there, and Finch settled models of Gold and Green access.  On monographs, he believed this is still unthinkable.  I DON’T agree this stance — the funding councils really need to lead the culture, not follow it, if they subscribe to open access as an approach.  Monograph publishing inhabits the same ecology of journal publications.  University Library budgets are under huge pressure, though, from commercial publishers of journals, and therefore there’s less to spend on monograph publication.  HEFCE have researched the issue, led by Geoffrey Crossick, with an expert reference group.  Main findings?  Don’t change anything…  Why?  Books still matter as a means of academic comms, authors want control over the materiality of the books they write; libraries are moving towards e-books and PDA; print books have distinctive advantages over e-books at the moment.  I don’t understand how these are arguments for the status quo…?  And surely the argument of the last clause is debatable.  Problematic, surely, in that library acquisition of monographs is severely curtailed because of the steep rise of journal acquisition costs…?  Still — I haven’t read the report so can’t comment on it.  Need to go off and read it.

Good session though!  Thought provoking, and very useful to get a sense of the innovations and the cultures of scholarly publishing in Australian HE.

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