Papers is the name of a document management software service, one supposedly tailored to the STEM segment which originally was pitched to MAC users, but which now is more ecumenical in its approach. Springer Verlag is the big German publisher of academic and scholarly books and journals. The fact that the company has decided to get into the business of what happens at the other end of the food chain, that is, once the researcher has sought, found and acquired the relevant document, is revealing, perhaps, of management’s decision to try understanding better the needs and wishes of its primary customers. Attached is a link to an item in The Scholarly Kitchen in which one of the guys on the soup line pours us a nice bowl of information on the doc manager software scene overall and on the Springer connection.
PS; Interesting Toss away fact: Springer is the German name for the chess piece known in English as the Knight….although it’s often a horse’s head.Knight, horse, close enough. The German prefers to concentrate on function (“Springen” is to jump) while English on the form. Profound cultural meaning here? No, probably not.
Two scientists think they have come up with a method to increase Open Access publication. Peter Binfield and Jason Hoyt have been thinking about this and have come to the conclusion that they can launch a new OA journal, called PeerJ with manuscript submission processing costs of $99. That is very much less than the same fee at established OA publishers such as PLoS. Part of the program will rely on cos-cutting and part of the revenue stream will come from membership fees. The journal website can be seen here, and I picked the page where the bios are located so you can see who the innovators are.
here was also a write up in Ars technica
JSTOR is the online archive of electronic journal articles of scholarly character. It was set up as a non-profit company that would see to the preservation of and long-term access to important content in the academic record. Well, recently one Jason Schartzman, who has declared himself an Open Access crusader was pinched by the Feds for breaking into MIT’s computer network entering the Library’s subscription to JSTOR and downloading a very large number of articles. He did it as a protest against the lack of access to content that is behind pay walls. He thinks all these items should be freely accessible. The Feds disagree and a task-force of the US Constabulary arrested him and charged him with a laundry list of crimes. He pleaded not guilty and was released on 100K bail. There is a large segment of the academic community which agrees with him, but not with breaking into your school’s mainframe, or gathering a lot of material surreptitiously. The defendant has been in the spotlight before, with other internet exploits. It seems that this latest escapade was more of a PR stunt to dramatize the need for open access. But folks inclined to imitate should be aware that things like this can turn sour very quickly. Many campuses have armed police officers who are supposed to be checking up on things such as who’s on campus with burglar tools and a big satchel. All the downloaded material was returned to JSTOR. But, that’s not the only player. I think MIT might want to have a word to say here.
What? R. That’s it. Just R, a new or at least newish program language that has become a favorite among statisticians and other analysts, who like it because it is relatively easy to learn and very versatile. I hadn’t heard of it until today, when I ran across a story in the New York Times which describes it and tells its history. Two academics from New Zealand got togehter to share ideas about ways to make analysis tools easier for their students to use, and one thing leading to another, as the saying goes, they spent about 6 years banging out the first versions of a program language which they called “R”, the first initial of both their first names. R is released as free ware and has gone through a number of iterations, and improvements as professionals write add-on programs or suggest changes. Statisticians love it because it has some very powerful features and allows them to run numerous analytical operations without the need to program these in some other language. One of R’s creators is still teaching in Auckland, NZ and the other is working in cancer research here Statesside. Whether R will topple any of the existing tools is hard to say, but being free and easy to use are rather powerful incentives for adaptation. I’m glad I stumbled on this item, since it’s really the kind of thing we should be talking more about on this site. Keep an eye out for R.
I see I forgot to add the link to the Times story for which, pardon
I also received a note from a very knowledgeable colleague in Indiana, who mentioned that R is pretty hot among social scientists and is moving in on the territory once claimed by a commercial package called Stata. He also forwarded me a link to a discussion about R’s advantages or drawbacks.
The winner’s curse is a concept in economics: often the winner in a competition has paid more for the prize than it’s really worth. An item in the Oct. 9 issue of The Economist describes an analogy to the curse in the area of scientific journal publication. Competition is stiff for publication in the top tier journals, so the tempation is strong to inflate the significance of the article by claiming or suggesting important results beyond what the data support, just to get through the strongly guarded portals of the big journals. But, a study in PLoS Medicine, which the The Economist article summarizes, suggests that the winners in the publication auction also fall foul of the curse, in that subsequent analysis of the results very often shows that the published results were incorrect. Dr. JPA Ionnidis is one of the authors, and we all remember him as the spoil-sport who suggested some three years ago that most published research results are wrong. The authors suggest that the current system of publication distorts the results of scientific research, by conferring an unjustfied cachet on the work published by top-tier outlets, and explore some alternatives. There are two nifty green squares, one cogently stating the paper’s basic argument and the other a numbered list of possible alternatives to the current state.
The second largest STM (science, technology, medicine) publisher, Springer Science+Business Media, has purchased the Open Access publisher BioMed Central (BMC). BMC is supposed to remain an autonomous and independent business unit within the Springer corporate structure, and nothing is supposed to change in the day to day operations. It’s a canny move. Springer wants to be on both sides of the stream to see whether Open Access publishing really pays off as a serious busniess model, and owning an OA publisher in addition to having a quite large stable of conventional publishing products is a good way to do it. BMC picks up at least some prospect and promise of help from a very large organization. I wonder what will happen a year from now.
The NIH has issued an updated FAQ on the policy mandating deposit in PubMed Central of final manuscripts reporting on research funded by NIH grants. The FAQ document itself is rather lengthy and contains links to the text of the policy statement and to supporting resources, such as the list of those journals which automatically deposit the manuscript without further action by the author(s).
The faculty at Harvard Law decided to follow the lead set earlier this year by their other colleagues, and make their publications Open Access. An institutional server will host the publications, which will be searchable through Google Scholar, and other services. The HLS professoriate voted unanimously to adopt OA release of scholarly work conducted there, and this move increases the visibility of OA archiving as a means of disseminating scholarship. By little and little, the notion is gaining ground that personal or institutional archiving of one’s own academic work is a plus for researchers, since the accessibility of these works rises dramatically when they are placed online. There are a number of unanswered questions about all this, and the roles of traditional publication and online archives will, at the least, need to be revised. But the benefits to individual scholars in having their work known are hard to deny.
The Scholar’s Space has a very useful item on this point which you can read at:
The Arts and Sciences Faculty at Harvard University adopted a plan whereby the ‘final draft’ of any manuscript accepted for publication would be placed on the University’s web site, unless the author(s) specifically requested that this not happen. This step would make default Open Access (OA) publication the norm, which is probably a first. Other institutions have considered this policy but the big H has done it. Some things are not clear, at least not from the news reports. Can faculty impose a “blanket” delay, or must each final draft be restricted by separate action? What happens when coauthors split over releasing the pub on the School’s site? Lots of potential for discord there, no? And, what exactly is the “final draft?” I think some of these will be easier to solve than others, but there’s no way around the fact that this is a very big boost for OA publication. The new issue of Nature has a short news item on this, and notes that this policy would conflict with the editorial policies of Cell, Science, and, well Nature So, we shall see. Do the publishers accomodate themselves to Harvard or Harvard to the publishers?
On Dec. 26, 2007 the President signed legislation instructing the NIH to adopt measures to ensure the deposit, in an Open Access archive, of reports describing the results of research funded by the Institutes, “in whole or in part”. A “voluntary” program initiated in 2005 failed quite miserably and now the lawmakers mean business. NIH created a set of policies to implement the legislation. Essentially, if you take NIH funding, you MUST see to it that the final accepted manuscript, with supporting materials, is archived in the NIH’s electronic repository PubMed Central.
There are probably some questions, so here’s a suggestion: Follow the link below and READ CAREFULLY Prof. Peter Suber’s analysis of the NIH policy and what it means and how authors should act. (Note: Prof. Suber’s background is in philosophy and law, both disciplines requiring careful attention to texts. He is also a committed advocate of Open Access publishing.) No matter how you feel about this measure, or about OA generally, you will profit by reading this careful and detailed summary. DO NOT TRY TO SKIM OR SPEED READ through this. Print it out, go someplace quiet and READ IT ALL, MORE THAN ONCE. The article contains a number of internal links to official NIH documentation and the FAQ. There is also a good discussion of some open questions, and a quick summary of threatened legal action on the part of publishers who feel that their Ox is being gored.
The article is entitled The Mandates of January and describes an astonishingly large number of OA mandates issued by various bodies and agencies. These are worth reading too, but to get to the NIH case, scroll down until you read: “The day after Christmas, President Bush….” That’s it.
Finally, there’s a long backstory to this, but in essence what has happened is that Congress has bought the “equity/justice” argument saying reports of publicly funded research should be generally available without further costs or fees. Congress is also intriqued by the suggestion that easier access to research will speed up the development of improved diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, maybe even cures. This may not be true, but nobody in Congress wants to be seen opposing a measure that might result in treatments or even cures. So, the gloves are off.