Daily Archives: September 10, 2007

Use PRISM To Start A Dialogue On Open Access

In a previous post I argued that developing free and open source library systems should be an ethical issue for academic librarians. Promoting open access to scholarly literature is another ethical issue we face.

PRISM, an anti-open access group of the Association of American Publishers, has launched a nasty PR campaign that attempts to demonize open access publishing by using simple slogans to equate open access with lack of peer review, government censorship, and theft of intellectual property. (I know, it’s funny, but they are actually saying this stuff. Good thing librarians know how to evaluate information, right?)

As noted in the SPARC letter to members,

the launch of this initiative provides a timely opportunity for engaging faculty members, researchers, students and administrators in dialogue on important issues in scholarly communications.

Exactly. This is the perfect time to initiate or re-initiate a campus-wide committee on scholarly communication on your campus, start a committee at your local ACRL chapter or statewide consortium, or host a lecture or forum on open access.

Most encouragingly, the Association of Research Libraries has produced an excellent issue brief with talking points that effectively counter the PRISM propaganda. ARL points out:

On peer review-

The peer review system, based almost completely on the voluntary free labor of the research community, is independent of a particular mode of publishing or business model.

On intellectual property-

Researchers themselves write and peer review the articles without receiving any payment from publishers. The federal government provides substantial public funding for scientific research. Existing and proposed policies concerning public access to federally funded research attempt to create balance between the contributions made and benefits received by publishers and allow them to continue to profit tremendously from the pool of content this funded research generates.

In addition, academic bloggers have not been shy taking on PRISM’s distortions. And if you need more ammo or a broader overview of the issue, Open Access and the Progress of Science is a well-written argument for open access to science literature in general and proposes the simple solution that scientists just deposit their papers in repositories as soon as they are peer reviewed.

Peter Suber, of course, is always a good source for debunking anti-open access arguments. One of the anti-open access claims is that open access will result in journal cancellations by libraries and collapse of the whole scholarly publishing system. (Well, how about the collapse of the exorbitant profiteering barrier access scholarly publishing system?) Suber points out, however, that open access in physics has not led to journal cancellations by libraries, and that this is in fact slowing the move from toll access to open access.

The question for librarians, higher ed administrators and scholars then, is why hasn’t open access in physics led to journal cancellations? Do we really want to set up two systems, an open access repository system while maintaining the old system with publisher embargoes so that libraries will have to maintain subscriptions? Do we really want to “partner” with the kind of companies that have launched such a deceptive and distorted PR campaign?

With PRISM, commercial publishers are acting like cornered rats. Maybe this shows that open access is at a tipping point. Let’s make sure it tips the right way.

Carnival Of the Professoriate – Part II

Now I’m going to call this the Carnival of the Professoriate. I hope you enjoyed Part I, and have perhaps added a few faculty blogs to your reading since the first Carnival. The nice thing about faculty blogs is, that like librarian blogs, they are abundant so you shouldn’t limit yourself to just a few. Keep exploring the fac-blogoverse. To help in the endeavor, here are a few more faculty blogs that you might find of interest. A little further down I’ll share a few tips for finding more faculty blogs.

PrawfsBlawg is a team faculty blog, and it appears most of them are associated with law schools. They also have regular posts from guest contributors. A recent post reflects on the difference between classes that go well and those that don’t. The author writes “I think the difference lies in my taking the time to think about my goals for the class. There have been times when I’ve walked in all fired up to talk about a doctrine, yet when we get to the big punchline, the “why are we talking about this?” question . . . I don’t have an answer.” We probably all deliver a better learning experience when we’re clear on the outcomes.

So you think faculty don’t care about being on library committees. Well, it might make a difference when a faculty member is the only one on the committee. At least The Cranky Professor thinks so. Seems this faculty member is the only one left on the committee, and the situation seems to have the Professor punchdrunk with visions of power – to get favored books – and who knows what else.

Over at The Mind of Dr. Pion, the doctor shares some observations about graduate students, and wonders if they really understand what faculty do – and if they know what they are getting themselves in to by entering a career in higher education. What he’d really like to do is help grad students to understand the realities of academic life.

If you like frequent posts be sure to take a look at Philosphy Factory, written by a community college philosphy teacher. A recent post explores a problem at the Factory caused by a student who wants a grade change – after a year has gone by. This professor is going to try some preventive measures with some new syllabus language.

Don’t you wish more faculty would promote the library to their students. That’s exactly what the author of Notes of a Neophyte does in a recent post directed to the new liberal arts student. Among a list of tips for success was this sage piece of advice: “Learn your way around the library or system of libraries and its resources NOW. Your future life as a writer of research papers will prove much easier and more efficient.” Take a look at the full list of suggestions for new students.

I’ll finish with a post by the Tenured Radical - not a new blog as I mentioned it last time – but Radical has a good post that welcomes the new professors to campus. There’s not only some humorous looks at new faculty here, but some good advice as well. As I read it I thought that some of it would make equally good advice for new academic librarians, especially those on the tenure track.

So now that you’re getting a taste of faculty blogs you want to discover more of them. And perhaps you’d like to see who blogs in your subject area. There are two primary directories for the fac-blogoverse. They are the Academic Blog Portal (which includes a section for academic librarian blogs) and BlogScholar.com. Both are worth exploring, and you’ll likely find your discipinary specialty represented at one or the other. A favorite approach of mine for getting to know faculty blogs is to do a daily check of Inside Higher Ed. Just go to the home page and look for the section titled “Around the Web”. They usually feature two faculty blogs a day. IHE also sponsors it own blogs that are worth following. And my final tip for finding faculty blogs is to explore the blogrolls of other faculty blogs. Crooked Timber or Cliopatria both have good blogrolls, but exploring them can be hit or miss – set aside a time to do some browsing.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this carnival. Now who’d like to host another one?