Monday, 30 January 2017

The effect of keyword repetition in abstract and keyword frequency per journal in predicting citation counts | SpringerLink



, Volume 110, Issue 1,
pp 243–251

The effect of keyword repetition in abstract and keyword frequency per journal in predicting citation counts

  1. 1.University of TehranTehranIslamic Republic of Iran

Cite this article as:
Sohrabi, B. & Iraj, H. Scientometrics (2017) 110: 243. doi:10.1007/s11192-016-2161-5


paper investigates an association between two new variables and
citations in papers. These variables include the abstract ratio (the sum
of repetition of keywords in abstract divided by abstract length) and
the weight ratio (the frequency of paper’s keyword per journal).
The data consist of 5875 papers from 12 journals in education: three
journals from each SCImago quartile. The researchers used
semi-continuous regression to model the data and measure the impact of
the proposed variables on citations. The results revealed that both
abstract ratio and weight ratio are statistically significant predictors
of citations in scientific articles in education.


ScientometricsBibliometricsCitation analysisCitation prediction

The effect of keyword repetition in abstract and keyword frequency per journal in predicting citation counts | SpringerLink » So your institute went cold turkey on publisher X. What now?


So your institute went cold turkey on publisher X. What now?

In: science politics

science politics
With the start of the new year 2017, about 60
universities and other research institutions in Germany are set to lose
subscription access to one of the main STEM publishers, Elsevier. The
reason being negotiations of the DEAL consortium (600 institutions
in total) with the publisher. In the run-up to these negotiations, all
members of the consortium were urged to not renew their individual
subscriptions with the publisher and most institutions apparently
followed this call. As the first Elsevier offer was rejected by DEAL and further negotiations have been postponed until 2017,
the participating institutions whose individual contract runs out this
year will be without continued subscription access – as long as they
don’t cave in and broker new individual contracts.

At first, this may seem like a massive problem for all students and
faculty at these institutions. However, there are now so many
alternative access strategies, that the well-informed scholar may not
even notice much of a difference. Here are ten different options, in no
particular order (feel free to offer more in the comments):

Keep trying to access the publisher’s site:
In many cases, the institutions have signed subscription contracts with
archival rights, meaning you have access to content that once was
subscribed. Moreover, many journals offer a ‘hybrid’ option, meaning
that some articles are made available open access by the authors paying
an extra fee. In both cases, the publisher site will still provide you
with access to the article in question, even though your institution has
not extended the subscription.

This is a solution for libraries which did not obtain archival rights
with the publisher. It keeps local copies of subscribed content
precisely for such cases. Ask your friendly librarian if you encounter
content that you know was once accessible but is now inaccessible – your
library will likely be able to assist you to get access via LOCKSS

Google Scholar:
Most entries in a GScholar search come not only with a non-publisher
version of the article, but even with several different access options.

For those of you who use PubMed, they link to various versions,
including the PMC version in their search results. I’ve also asked them
if they can link to other freely available versions. In many cases,
these version only become available after some embargo period.

You can copy and paste the digital object identifier (DOI) of any
article into services which locate a freely available version for you.
DOAI and oaDOI search preprint archives, researchgate or institutional
repositories for accessible versions.

For Twitter users, this hashtag attached to a link to the article will
alert other users of your need for this article. If someone has access,
they can send you the article.

Article payment: For
quick (but not free!) access to an article, just grit your teeth and
pay for the article (buy or rent). Some institutions are already
reimbursing such costs.

Contact author:
A less speedy option is to contact the corresponding author and ask
them for a copy of the article. I remember doing this via snail mail in
the days before the internet – and receiving “offprint-requests” as
pre-printed postcard forms (filled in with type-writer) for my articles.
That’s how old I am.

Inter-library-loan: Even if more and more institutions are dropping
their big deal subscriptions, there are still many subscriptions
around. Your library can likely get you the article via the many
different versions of inter-library-loan (“Fernleihe” in German). If you
don’t know how to use this service, ask your friendly librarian for

If all else fails, there still is the option of obtaining the article
from Sci-Hub. It covers roughly 50% of all articles, so there is a
pretty good chance you’ll get what you need there. I have written before
why I find Sci-Hub to be a necessary and effective form of civil disobedience.
There is a catch, however. In many countries Sci-Hub is considered
illegal as it offers copyrighted content for download. While there is no
definitive, generally accepted decision, there is a lawsuit pending
brought by Elsevier against Sci-Hub. Legal opinions vary, but an early
consensus seems to emerge according to which individual downloads, while
infringing, are unlikely to be prosecuted, but institutions which fail
to follow up on publisher complaints may at some point become liable.
Use at your own risk.

These are ten different options (9 of them completely legal) to
obtain scholarly content without a current subscription to the scholarly
journal in question. The statistics on article availability as well as
my personal experience suggest that almost every article will be
available via at least one or more of these options.

Importantly: if you find that you can indeed access most of the content you need to read via such means, let your librarian know that you are fine with dropping subscriptions – it will eventually allow your institution to be able to afford providing you with a modern digital infrastructure.

UPDATE (Dec. 21, 2016): There were several questions
as to the legality of #icanhazpdf. Sharing of scholarly articles among
scholars has been standard practice for decades, if not centuries.
Hence, sending individual articles to individual scholars has never been
illegal and still is not to this day. The Twitter hashtag merely brings
two scholars togather for this age-old standard practice. Even Elsevier
explicitly allows such sharing (PDF):

Scholarly sharing of articles [8 above]

Current ScienceDirect subscription agreements permit authorized users to
transmit excerpts of subscribed content, such as an article, by e-mail
or in print, to known research colleagues for the purpose of scholarly
study or research. Recipients of such scholarly sharing do not
themselves have to be affiliated with an institute with a ScienceDirect
subscription agreement.
h/t to Jochen Johannsen and Bernhard Mittermaier for the source.

UPDATE II (Jan.27, 2017): The latest version of the Open Access Button
also retrieves publicly available versions  of paywalled articles, much
like DOAI or oaDOI. However, it comes with a critical improvement over
these two services: it allows you to send a request for any articles
that isn’t already covered and the OAButton team will try to make it
available. In that way, the OAButton not only provides you with the
articles, but also expands the coverage of publicly accessible research,
such that ever more content becomes available without subscriptions.

is a wonderful development. More and more services providing you with
scholarly articles without a subscription. Remind me again, why do we
even have subscriptions? Subscriptions probably are the worst value for
money of any subsidized service our scholarly institutions provide us
with. We should cancel all subscriptions now, there is no need for them
and paying them constitutes fiscal irresponsibility, as far as I’m

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Does a Long Reference List Guarantee More Citations? Analysis of Malaysian Highly Cited and Review Papers by Nader Ale Ebrahim, H. Ebrahimian, Maryam Mousavi, Farzad Tahriri :: SSRN

Does a Long Reference List Guarantee More Citations? Analysis of Malaysian Highly Cited and Review Papers by Nader Ale Ebrahim, H. Ebrahimian, Maryam Mousavi, Farzad Tahriri :: SSRN

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Curating the Scholarly Record: The Development of the Scholarly Informat...

Bibliometrics as a Tool for Literature Review - Bridging Sciences


Bibliometrics as a Tool for Literature Review

Literature review can be a tedious process. With so many articles
to read, new researchers in a field can find themselves stuck, trying
to stay on top of all the readings required. In an effort to streamline
the process, bibliometrics can be a powerful tool to make the article
selection more efficient, adding a visual component to it.

Last November 10-11, I gave a talk on bibliometric methods at the 8th
joint PhD workshop of VU Amsterdam and FH Munster. I got really great
response from my talk, with people asking me to make a manual on the
topic. Though I only started using bibliometrics three months ago, I
found that learning the basics to be a very useful investment. In this
post, I will try to create a simple manual on the basics of the method.

Benefits of Bibliometrics

Especially for researchers, here are some things you would be able to do after reading this post:

  • Get an overview of the important publications in your field of study
  • Generate a database of important researchers and institutes in your field
  • Visualize how your field is connected


Though there are many ways to do this, I found using the Web of Science as database and the bibliometric software VosViewer and CitiNetExplorer to have the easiest learning curve. The process generally is composed of the following steps:

  1. Formulating keywords
  2. Downloading the articles from the database
  3. Generating the maps using the software

Formulating the Keywords

The first part is just the regular literature search on the Web of
Science. Most scientists would be knowledgeable already on this area,
having done literature search in the past. Though the basic search would
usually suffice, it would be more efficient to learn how to use the
advanced search with the Boolean operators.

For example, if you are researching on entrepreneurship in the
Netherlands. You want to search the terms entrepreneurship and
Netherlands together. At the same time, you might want to include
related words like business or industry and even the words Holland and
Dutch. With these in mind, your keyword search could be:

TS = ((entrepreneurship OR business OR industry) AND (Netherlands OR Holland OR Dutch))
This yielded 3,381 results as of Nov 2016. A preliminary look at the
results can then be done. At this point, you can decide to reformulate
the keywords or stick with the results.  The good thing is that you can
easily change your keywords if the list of articles fail to reflect your
intended outcome.

Downloading the articles

This part is the easiest yet most tedious. The problem with the Web
of Science is that you can only download 500 article data at a time.
Thus, if you have 3,000 articles, then you have to repeat the saving
process 6 times.

At the results page, what you want to do is click the down arrow
beside ‘Save to EndNote online’ and click ‘Save to Other File Formats’

Afterwards, save the first 500 records by typing at the records space
1 to 500. Also, for the record content should be with the cited
references. And finally, click send.

You will then have a text file containing information about the first 500 records.

To save the next 500, click again the down arrow and save records 501-1000, 1001-1500 and so on.

Using the Software

With the articles downloaded, it is now possible to analyze them with the software. Download  CitNetExplorer.
It’s just a matter of loading the text files into the program. It
automatically generates a map of the most cited papers in your set of
papers. This software is smart such that even if an article does not
have the keywords you used, it can still be included if it is cited a
lot by the papers in your database.

More importantly, it also shows the connection among these papers.
Through this, one can infer how the field developed and how ideas have
evolved over time. By being able to visualize how these papers are
related to one another, doing literature review then becomes a little
bit easier.

Bibliometrics as a Tool for Literature Review - Bridging Sciences

5 Ways to Promote Your Research on Social Media


you want people to read your papers, make them open access, and let the
community know (via blogs, Twitter, etc.) where to get them.”
Melissa Terras, University College London
5 Ways to Promote Your Research on Social Media

Social media has remodeled the collective sharing of ideas via online communities, networks, and blogs.
So, is it necessary for scientists to be an active part of the online world?
Well, check out our previous article:
media does not just benefit the general public, but also business
people, scientists and researchers, students, and teachers. Social media
is a free method for authors, researchers, and scientists to reach out
to the world and promote their work. It has now successfully become a marketing platform that offers benefits not only to researchers but also to their target audience.
It is
difficult for a scientist to only spread the results of his/her research
through posters and conferences. Social media platforms can offer a
much greater reach than a conference.
Thus, for
scientists, these tools offer a powerful platform to accelerate or
create new contacts with fellow researchers, increase article citations
and enhance communication between peers.
Listed below are five ways researchers can promote their research on social media and the internet:

1. Discuss the science that matters to you
The best
way to promote your research on social media is to keep your target
audience updated on the science that you are involved in. Researchers
can discuss or show how their science/research is being performed. This
can involve anything from videos or updates on how a particular research
project is progressing. Another good way is to talk about the science
behind research papers of interest, the set-backs faced while carrying
out a particular project, how this research will benefit society, etc.

Receive Free Grammar and Publishing Tips via Email

2. Be active on social networking sites (Twitter, LinkedIn, ResearchGate, Slideshare, Google+)
Being an active member of these networking sites will help you market your research effectively. For example, some research has shown
that scientific articles that are tweeted are more likely to get cited
compared to others. Additionally, researchers can upload their
presentations and build followers by being a part of Slideshare.
The University of Dublin offers a guide on promoting research
for the greatest impact. They mention that listing publications that
have been both published and are in the process of getting published on
ResearchGate, or LinkedIn will help promote your research.
Moreover, having a profile on LinkedIn and ResearchGate will help you
connect and collaborate with other researchers and make your research
more visible.

3. Consider micro video-blogging
As a
scientist, you can promote your research by making short videos that are
relevant to the topic using animations or live figures. A fellow
scientist will always be attracted to a video over a dry write-up. It is
also easier to retain a person’s attention via interactive videos.
There are numerous tools that can help you develop a good video, but
even simply telling about your research in a face-to-face video format
will work. Then, the video can be shared on social networking sites,
such as LinkedIn, Google+, your personal blog, etc. You can be sure that
your video will draw attention to your research.

4. Consider blogging
helps to bridge the difference between the real world and academia.
Scientists can blog about topics related to their research or discuss
the details of a research project after its completion and publication.
Blogging is a controlled way to showcase your scientific skills to the
research community. It is easy to share a tweet about your published
article, but a more detailed synopsis of your work can be listed on your

5. Monitor your promotion results and make changes accordingly
promoting your research paper, it is of utmost important to monitor the
results to determine the effects and reach of your research. Your
expertise in data analysis may even come into play here!
you can track citations of your publication by setting alerts on, e.g.,
Web of Science or on the publication’s website, if available. If you
have a website, your traffic can be monitored via Google Analytics. For
social media posts, most social media networks provide analytics, such
as the number of views, likes, and shares a particular video or post
A new and interesting tool for monitoring your research promotion efforts is Altmetric, which includes many useful features that are specific for understanding the reach of your scholarly content.
can then inform their grant agency about the impact of the study or
research on social media. Many funding agencies today welcome social
media promotion of your research projects!
If your posts are not successful or do not have the impact you had hoped for, set new goals and try new methods. Eventually, you will develop a formula that resonates with fellow researchers!

The ideas
for scientific promotion listed above are just a few of the many ways
you can promote your research on social media. Your research will gain
accolades if you promote it in a well-planned and systematic way.
We at Falcon Scientific Editing encourage you to be an active part of social media networking. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+
and let us know how your research is going. We may even reshare one of
your posts about your research to our audience of researchers!

What ways do you promote your research on social media? Share your methods with us!
Comments or Suggestions for our blog?

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Other articles you may also like:

5 Ways to Motivate Your Research Group to Write Papers

Publishing in an International Scholarly Journal: Tips from an Editor

Origin of the Journal Impact Factor and Its Importance for Researchers Today

About the Author:
Lavina Miranda PictureLavina
Miranda has a Master of Science in biotechnology from St. Xavier’s
College with expertise in molecular biology and microbiology. After
graduation, she worked as a content designer and E-tutor. To pursue her
passion for scientific research, she then joined the National University
of Singapore (NUS) in 2014 where her work included reprogramming
probiotics to become viable vessels for the treatment of superbug
infections. In her current role as a researcher at Kuwait University,
her project focuses on the effect of garlic (Allium sativum) on
the expression of insulin m-RNA and polypeptides in the tissues of
streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Apart from research, she also
enjoys exploring new places, socializing with people from different
cultural backgrounds, and dancing.

5 Ways to Promote Your Research on Social Media

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Academia, Not Edu – Planned Obsolescence


Academia, Not Edu

week’s close attention to open access, its development, its present
state, and its potential futures, surfaced not only the importance for
both the individual scholar and the field at large of sharing work as
openly as possible, with a range of broadly conceived publics, but also
some continuing questions about the best means of accomplishing
that sharing. As I mentioned last week, providing opportunities for
work to be opened at the point of publication itself is one important
model, but a model that may well have occluded our vision of other
potential forms: the ease of using article-processing charges to offset
any decline in subscription revenue possible as previously paywalled
content becomes openly available is so apparent as to have become
rapidly naturalized, allowing us to wave off the need for
experimentation with less obvious — and less remunerative — models.

Among alternative models, as I noted, is author-originated sharing of
work, often in pre-print forms, via the open web. Many authors already
share work in this way, whether posting drafts on their blogs for
comment or depositing manuscripts in their institutional repositories.
And recently, many scholars have also taken to sharing their work via, a social network that allows scholars to build
connections, get their work into circulation, and discover the work of
others. I’m glad to see the interest among scholars in that kind of
socially-oriented dissemination and sharing, but I’m very concerned
about this particular point of distribution and what it might mean for
the future of the work involved.

Here’s the crux of the matter:

The first thing to note is that, despite its misleading top level domain (which was registered by a subsidiary prior to the 2001 restrictions), is not an educationally-affiliated organization, but a dot-com,
which has raised millions in multiple rounds of venture capital
funding. This does not imply anything necessarily negative about the
network’s model or intent, but it does make clear that there are a
limited number of options for the network’s future: at some point, it
will be required to turn a profit, or it will be sold for parts, or it
will shut down.

And if the network is to turn a profit, that profit has a limited
number of means through which it can be generated: either academics who
are currently contributing their work to this space will have to pay to
continue to access it, or the work that they have contributed will
somehow be mined for sale, whether to advertisers or other interested
parties. In fact,’s CEO has said
that “the goal is to provide trending research data to R&D
institutions that can improve the quality of their decisions by 10-20%.”
Statements like this underwrite Gary Hall’s assessment of the damage that the network can do to genuine open access:
“ has a parasitical relationship to the public education
system, in that these academics are labouring for it for free to help
build its privately-owned for-profit platform by providing the
aggregated input, data and attention value.” The network, in other
words, does not have as its primary goal helping academics communicate
with one another, but is rather working to monetize that communication.
All of which is to say: everything that’s wrong with Facebook is wrong
with, at least just up under the surface, and so perhaps we
should think twice before commiting our professional lives to it.

The problem, of course, is that many of us face the same dilemma in
our engagement with that we experience with Facebook. Just
about everyone hates Facebook on some level: we hate its intrusiveness,
the ways it tracks and mines and manipulates us, the degree to which it
feels mandatory. But that mandatoriness works: those of us who hate
Facebook and use it anyway do so because everyone we’re trying to
connect with is there. And as we’ve seen with the range of alternatives
to Facebook and Twitter that have launched and quickly faded, it’s hard
to compete with that. So with I’ve heard many careful,
thoughtful academics note that they’re sharing their work there because
that’s where everybody is.

And the “everybody” factor has been a key hindrance to the
flourishing of other mechanisms for author-side sharing of work such as
institutional repositories. Those repositories provide rigorously
protected and preserved storage for digital objects, as well as
high-quality metadata that can assist in the discovery of those objects,
but the repositories have faced two key challenges: first, that they’ve
been relatively siloed from one another, with each IR collecting and
preserving its own material independently of all others, and second,
that they’ve been (for the obvious reason) institutionally focused. The
result of the former is that there hasn’t been any collective sense of
what material is available where (though the ARL/AAU/APLU-founded
project SHARE is working to
solve that problem). The result of the latter is that a relatively small
amount of such material has been made available, as researchers by and
large tend to want to communicate with the other members of their
fields, wherever they may be, rather than feeling the primary
identification with their institutions that broad IR participation would
seem to require. So why, many cannot help but feel, would I share my
work in a place where it will be found by few of the people I hope will
read it?

The disciplinary repository may provide a viable alternative — see, for instance, the long-standing success of — but the fact that such repositories collect material produced in disciplines rather than institutions
is only one of the features key to their success, and to their
successful support of the goals of open access. Other crucial features
include the not-for-profit standing of those repositories, which can
require thoughtful fundraising
but keeps the network focused on the researchers it comprises, and
those repositories’ social orientation, facilitating communication and
interconnection among those researchers. That social orientation is
where has excelled; early in its lifespan, before it
developed paper-sharing capabilities, the site mapped relationships
among scholars, both within and across institutions, and has built
heavily upon the interconnections that it traced — but it has not
primarily done so for the benefit of those scholars or their

Scholarly societies have the potential to inhabit the ideal point of
overlap between a primary orientation toward serving the needs of
members and a primary focus on facilitating communication amongst those
members. This is in large part why we established MLA Commons,
to build a not-for-profit social network governed and developed by its
members with their goals in mind. And in working toward the larger goals
of open access, we’ve connected this social network with CORE,
a repository through which members can not only deposit and preserve
their work, but also share it directly with the other members of the
network. We’re also building mechanisms through which CORE can
communicate with institutional repositories so that the entire
higher-education-based research network can benefit.

Like all such networks, however, the Commons will take time
to grow, so we can’t solve the “everybody” problem right away. But we’re
working toward it, through our Mellon-supported Humanities Commons initiative,
which seeks to bring other scholarly societies into the collective. The
interconnections among the scholarly society-managed Commonses we
envision will not only help facilitate collaboration across disciplinary
lines but also allow members with overlapping affiliations to have
single sign-on access to the multiple groups of scholars with whom they
work. We are working toward a federated network in which a scholar can
maintain and share their work from one profile, on a scholar-governed network, whose direction and purpose serve their own.

So, finally, a call to MLA members: when you develop your member profile and share your work via the Commons,
you not only get your work into circulation within your community of
practice, and not only raise the profile of your work within that
community, but you also help support us as we work to solve the
“everybody” problem of the dot-com that threatens to erode the
possibilities for genuine open access.

Academia, Not Edu – Planned Obsolescence

Dear Scholars, Delete Your Account At Academia.Edu



Dear Scholars, Delete Your Account At Academia.Edu

historian, digital humanist and baseball fan
privatized platforms like look to monetize scholarly
writing even further, researchers, scientists and academics across the
globe must now consider alternatives to proprietary companies that aim
to profit from our writing and offer little transparency as to how our
work will be used in the future.

In other words: It is time to delete your account.

Screenshot of the delete function on
Screenshot of the delete function on
At first glance, looks like a win-win situation. The
platform allows users to create a profile, upload their work, tag
certain interests and then to tap into large networks of people with
like research interests among the almost 47 million users from around
the globe. But looks–and names–aren’t always what they seem.

It Is Not A “Real” .edu

First and foremost? That web address is more than a little deceptive. As Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Associate Executive Director and Director of Scholarly Communication at the Modern Language Association (MLA) remarked on her blog, “the first thing to note is that, despite its misleading top level domain (which was registered by a subsidiary prior to the 2001 restrictions), is not an educationally-affiliated organization, but a dot-com,
which has raised millions in multiple rounds of venture capital
funding.” Historian Seth Denbo probably said it best when, almost a year
and a half ago, he warned scholars that they were providing free data
to a for-profit company rather than participating in an open-source,
non-profit often associated with .edu domains. 

Paying For Status

Last year at this time, the site received a hefty amount of criticism
due to its emailed queries to scholars asking if they might want to pay
a “small fee” in exchange for getting papers “recommended” on the site.
In other words, they were offering to signal boost publications in
exchange for money. This was met with quite a bit of backlash from users
and some especially bad PR, which essentially seemed to kill the
initiative. However, the site remained committed to figuring out how to
get more money from users by introducing the “premium feature“ in late December.

Recommended by Forbes
This feature allows users to get special data analytics about who is
reading their papers, including the “role” (i.e. the rank) of the person
looking at their work. Emails even go out to users letting know the
percentile (a top 4% scholar!) of the person downloading their work. Are
we supposed to somehow value that a full professor looked at our work
over, say, an adjunct? The new feature is academic class politics to a
new level–and it only promotes the further stratification of the

Screenshot of the new premium feature from which allows you to see the status of the person looking at your work.
Screenshot of the new premium feature from which allows you to see the status of the person looking at your work.
Open Access, Non-Profit Alternatives

What, then, are the alternatives for people who want to freely
distribute their work? It turns out there are a number of choices for
people both connected to a university and outside of them.

Institutional Repositories: Many universities and colleges
in fact have their own institutional repositories for research. At the
University of Iowa, we have Iowa Research Online,
which grants space to undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and
many other researchers to house their work. There is in fact a
consortium of repositories from the Big Ten schools called the Big Ten Academic Alliance
that then begin to connect networks of scholars in a searchable
database–although it is admittedly a much smaller network than exists at

Zenodo: Another repository for research data is called Zenodo. It
is funded by the OpenAIRE Consortium (an open access network) and CERN,
the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The site is a
non-profit and integrates easily with your GitHub account. It allows users 50 GB of storage for each dataset, though you can contact them and lobby for more.

(Please note that after the original publication of this article, digital humanist Ethan Gruber launched his migration tool to allow people to migrate documents from to Zenodo: tool [here] and blog post on the technique [here].)

Humanities Commons: Humanities Commons is
a non-profit network open to all scholars to post their work and access
the scholarship of others. As they say on their site, it “is a
project of the office of scholarly communication at the Modern Language
Association [MLA]. Its development was generously funded by a
grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.” They work with the institutional repositories to help preserve scholarship online and keep it both protected and free.

Many of the open access platforms that do not seek to monetize
scholarship are in fact funded by government foundations like the
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and National Endowment for
the Arts (NEA), in addition to those privately funded by the non-profit
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Humanities foundations are thus even more
imperative to scholars who wish to share their work freely without fear
of having their scholarship used for profit. It is also one reason that
last week, the news that the NEH and NEA
may be cut due to budget restrictions caused so much worry. Humanities
scholars rely on these entities not only to fund our work, but often
also to preserve open access to it in the future. In the interest of
full disclosure, I must say that I too have benefited greatly from
funding from both the NEH and the Andrew W. Mellon foundation in my own

As Eric Kansa, founder of the non-profit Open Context and
an advocate for open access platforms told me about data privacy,
“One’s research interests and interaction with scholarship (and networks
of other scholars) get monetized by It’s troubling, because those data can be given to the state. Giving
up privacy for access is not a form of ‘open access’ I can endorse.”
Moving our papers away from is then about taking possession
of our work and deciding what we do with it, rather than allowing a
private company to use our scholarship for profit. 
Comment on this story

Dear Scholars, Delete Your Account At Academia.Edu

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Slides 2017 - Create an Audio/Video Slides for your Research

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Create an Audio/Video Slides for your Research

Open access and academic publishing – an interview with Dr. Martin Paul Eve | University Affairs


Open access and academic publishing – an interview with Dr. Martin Paul Eve

By MELONIE FULLICK | January 19, 2017
The current state of academic publishing is something we should all be thinking about,
given that it’s a means of disseminating the knowledge generated by
academic research — much of which is publicly funded yet inaccessible to
the public. Publishing is also significant because of the key role it
plays in academic careers, where it serves as a gatekeeping mechanism.

Changes to academic publishing both reflect, and contribute to,
broader trends within academe; and they point to a range of critical
questions. Within the contexts and constraints of established
institutions and practices, what possibilities are opened up by recent
technologies and new organisational forms? How could publishing change
in (and differ across) the various academic areas and fields? How might
the increased competition for academic jobs, and the smaller proportion
of scholars with permanent positions, affect publishing and associated
labour? Can we maintain the accessibility and quality of publications
and the process of peer review while also ensuring compensation for the
work involved? What about digital publication and circulation – will
(paywalled) journal publishing eventually become obsolete?

This post explores some of those questions by way of an interview with Professor Martin Paul Eve,
who is an all-round expert on, and active promoter of, open access
academic publishing. Professor Eve is chair of literature, technology
and publishing at Birkbeck, University of London, and the author of Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies and the Future. Among many other things,
Professor Eve also gave evidence to the U.K. government’s business,
innovation and skills committee inquiry into open access, in 2013, and
with Dr. Caroline Edwards he is a co-founder of the Open Library of the Humanities
(OLH), in which 16 Canadian institutions are already participating. The
following interview focuses on OLH and on the issues of access to
knowledge (in the form of peer-reviewed research) that underlie its

Dr. Martin Paul Eve.
For the benefit of readers who aren’t familiar with OLH,
could you provide a bit of a description of what it does and how it

The Open Library of Humanities is a charitable, not-for-profit, open
access publisher of peer-reviewed humanities research material that I
co-founded with my colleague Dr. Caroline Edwards. The OLH currently
publishes (or financially supports) 18 journals and in our first year of
operation we made over 900 scholarly articles available at no charge to

Unlike other open access publishers, though, the OLH has a different
economic model. In a move to abandon subscriptions so that there is no
cost to read academic research work on the internet, many publishers are
turning to so-called Article Processing Charges (APCs); a fee to be
paid by the author, their institutions, or their funders. This is not a
fee to bypass peer review, but rather a fee to cover the publisher’s
labour (and surplus/profits). It is a substitution for subscription

In our disciplines, however, it is far harder to see where this money
will come from (Taylor & Francis for instance has an APC of about
$2,000). Our model works differently. Instead of asking authors or
funders to pay when work is accepted, we have over 200 libraries paying
us an annual amount that looks like a subscription. The change
though is that with the money from that fee, we make all our work openly
available. So yes, even if libraries don’t pay, their academics can
submit and read the work. We know, though, that this is not how
libraries and universities think. Universities should exist for the good
of society, not for exclusionary gain. The fact that so many libraries
have supported this non-classical economic model so that research work
can be broadly accessible is the proof.

You mentioned in another interview that this idea was
coalescing at the end of 2012/early 2013, as part a broader discussion
about scholarly publishing; three years later, OLH has been running for
over a year and has participants at more than 200 institutions. How did
you get started with a project of this size, let alone get it running
within such a short period — and especially when the process involves so
much consultation and buy-in from so many different groups?

I often wonder to myself: were I able to go back in time and warn my
previous self how much work and how difficult the whole thing would be,
would I still do it? I like to think the answer is “yes” because I
believe in higher education and that research work should be accessible
to anyone who is interested. But it is hard to say when speaking in such
hypothetical terms.

We began by simply floating the idea online of creating something a
bit like the Public Library of Science (PLOS) in the humanities. When I
put up an initial web page, we had over 200 emails overnight from
interested parties, so the demand seemed clear. We also realised early
on, though, that we’d need to play the prestige game very carefully. The
whole academic system of certification and accreditation is built on a
symbolic economy of prestige. This makes it very hard for new players to
enter the arena since they do not yet have a track record and many
academics fear that they will lose out on career progression (or even
jobs) if they do not play the game that hiring panels expect.

That said, some early supporters gave us a boost. We’re immensely
grateful to David Armitage, for instance, the Lloyd C. Blankfein
Professor of History at Harvard, who said of the OLH that “there is
hardly a more important project in train for scholarship in the
humanities today.” We also assembled committees of high-profile
academics to ascertain what they felt would be needed to make an idea
like OLH work. And we listened and we structured the platform around the
advice we received. For instance, the first version of the OLH was
going to be based on Article Processing Charges, as is PLOS. But the
committees baulked at this and so we had to design a new, untested model
for the ongoing economic support of academic journals. We also had to
balance the desires of hard-line open access enthusiasts against a
distaste for full open licensing among some of our disciplinary
communities. We had to handle the more radical thinking of some
technologists against the traditions of the humanities and the need to
ensure their continuity.

We also had to work out how to establish and govern a charitable
company; something with which I was totally unacquainted before we began
the enterprise (I feel I should here mis-cite Bones McCoy from Star Trek:
“Damn it Jim, I’m an academic not a businessman”). Generous support
from the University of Lincoln; Birkbeck, University of London; and the
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation made this all possible. Indeed, we spent
those setup years travelling the world and telling academics,
librarians, societies, and publishers what we wanted to do and gaining
their trust, support, and feedback.

As a result we managed to go from rough idea at the end of 2012/2013
to a platform launch in September 2015. That’s not a bad timescale but
we did nonetheless receive criticism that it was too slow (one person
wrote, paraphrasing, that “the OLH has to-date not published a single
article”). And this is the dilemma. If you spend time planning things,
people criticize you for taking too long. If you rush into it, people
criticize you for not planning.

You’ve said that “Cooperation can solve the budget crisis in
scholarly communications where competition has failed us.” How does the
OLH model (and maybe open access overall) function as cooperative?

The term “cooperative” has different meanings in different contexts.
There’s a formal organizational structure called a “cooperative” that
refers to co-ownership of an enterprise by its employees. I didn’t quite
mean that but rather the underlying principle of working in concert
rather than relying on free-market competition.

To explain this, I have to give a brief background to the economics
of scholarly communications. Since 1986, according to ARL statistics,
the cost for each institution of subscribing to the full range of
journals that its academics and students require has risen by an
estimated 300 percent above inflation. There are many reasons
for this. One is that the mass expansion of higher education has led to
greater publication volume. However, there is also the matter of vast
profits and quasi-monopolistic practices among large publishers.

Indeed, the largest publisher of scientific journals, Elsevier (RELX
Group), makes an approximate 35 percent profit. As I’ve pointed out
before, this is double the profit rate of oil and pharmaceutical
companies. Clearly – despite the efforts of Elsevier’s supporters to
equate such exorbitant profits with charitable surpluses (the most
frequent comeback I get to the preceding fact is: “even OLH has to make a
surplus”… Yes, but it’s hardly the same as a 35 percent profit!) –
something is going very wrong with the market here.

So why hasn’t free-market competition solved this problem? Well,
goods in the scholarly communications market (academic journal articles
and books, for example) are not substitutable goods. When an academic
needs to read a specific piece of work, only that article or
book will do because the content is, usually as a precondition, unique
and novel. Companies like Elsevier who own the copyright on up to 40
percent of the supply in certain disciplinary spaces know that academics
need the work they possess. So there is no competition in this sense;
unique non-substitutable goods that are required for academic work are
for sale at whatever rate the owner demands.

Open access and article processing charges do not necessarily resolve
the crisis of library budgets, though. Hybrid open access refers to the
conditions where publishers run a journal as a subscription entity but
allow authors to pay a charge to make a specific article openly
available. The problem here is that, without offsetting of the amount
paid, the charges just mount and mount on top of subscription revenue.
Because the people paying – the library – are not the same as the people
submitting and reading – the academics – there is little sensitivity to
such pricing from those who have the most agency within the system.

For me, this all amounts to a failure of scholarly communications
practices to act like a market. And perhaps we don’t want it to be one.
This is why I proposed cooperation as a way in which library acquisition
staff can escape the failure of market competition. By pooling
resources – as does the OLH by gathering small amounts from a moderate
number of libraries – on a not-for-profit basis, we see a better use of
budget than market competition was able to deliver. Indeed, across our
200 supporting institutions, we estimate that the approximate average
paid was $1,000. This works out at just $55 per journal per institution.
Alternatively, this is $1.10 per institution per article (many of the
articles in our first year comprised cheaper back-content import
though). However, if we flip this around and focus on the 118,686 unique
users who visited article pages in our first year, this is just $0.008
per institution per reader. And this gets cheaper as more institutions

That’s why I advocated for a form of cooperation. Do not focus on the
problem of “free riders” and the fact that even if one pays, others get
access for nothing. Instead focus on what such non-classical economic
thinking can actually deliver.

Some have described the academic publishing industry as a “racket,
running on huge amounts of free labour while charging academic
institutions, and individual researchers, exorbitant fees to read papers
— and subsequently enjoying huge profit margins. How much labour do
publishers actually perform and can they really justify charging as much
as they do?

First, there’s a bit of a problem with referring to “publishers” as a
homogeneous group. It spans the giants of Elsevier, Taylor &
Francis, Wiley, Oxford University Press down to tiny university presses
that barely break even. It runs from for-profits through charities.
Publishers are many things.

Publishers perform, though, a variety of labour functions. There’s a
(pretty eked-out) list of 96 things publishers do on the (pretty
conservative) Scholarly Kitchen blog.
However, I think that the labour function is mostly coordinating peer
review, platform maintenance, typesetting, copyediting, proofreading,
digital preservation, legal, accountancy, marketing (which is partly
dissemination and partly business-model based) and general business
overheads. List cultivation and actual editorial input might be placed
here for some humanities disciplines, but whether this is a needed
function or part of a business strategy remains hazy for me. Running OLH
is a full-time day job for me and my colleagues at the moment. I tend
to get up early and do my academic research reading and writing from
6:30 a.m. until 10 a.m. before then doing a full day of OLH work.

Publishers undoubtedly do things that we want and continue to
require. However, I do not see why (as above) this should legitimatize
extortionate levels of profit so that we can exclude others from reading
research. One recent criticism I saw, for instance, was Daniel Allington comparing scholarly communications to a bar
(as the old jokes always go) in a Twitter reply and deriding OA
advocates for calling publishers “parasites.” Yet, Marx himself noted
that “capital is dead labour” describing it as “vampire-like.” To call
the profit-rates of mega companies a “racket” or “parasitical” is not to
deride the labour of their employees or even the desired labour
function. It is metaphorically to label such huge companies as a rentier
group who use a variety of canny business strategies to feed off
universities and achieve market dominance. Taylor & Francis, for
instance, wrote in their annual shareholder report
that their revenue stream was “dominated by subscription assets with
high renewal rates, where customers generally pay us twelve months in
advance. This provides strong visibility on revenue and allows the
businesses to essentially fund themselves, with minimal external capital
required.” They believe that “it is a uniquely attractive mode.”

One problem I see with the “Gold” OA model (explanation provided here)
when author fees are involved, is that there’s an assumption that
everyone publishing is affiliated with an institution and has access to
institutional funding that can cover the cost. Many of those who want to
publish are early career academics who may not have institutional
support. To me it seems that the author-facing charges would inhibit
access to publishing for a lot of scholars. OLH has avoided this by
rejecting author fees; how does its funding model work? Would it be a
viable option beyond the humanities?

Yes, I agree with your assessment here. I think this comes from the
fact that many OA models have developed in the sciences, where much
research work requires (and has) external funding that can budget for
such charges. This is not universally the case, though. (And one
criticism of OA is the fact that it grew from the sciences and is being
applied elsewhere. I have long argued, though, that the benefits to the
humanities of open research work are as great as those for the sciences;
we just need a different implementation strategy.)

As above, OLH operates on a consortial funding model. Many libraries
pay a relatively small amount into our central budget. We then make work
openly available. There is precedent for this in arXiv, Knowledge Unlatched, and, to a lesser extent, the SCOAP3
purchasing consortium. It’s not a totally new idea. But it is the first
time that a publisher has run its entire business model on this for
front-matter serials publication.

The key part of what we’re doing, though, is participating in schemes
to “flip” journals that were subscription to an open access model. In
some cases, this involves an editorial board leaving a publisher – as
did the editorial board of Lingua – while in others it involves
us working with the university press to fund their journal; as with the
University of Wales Press. We currently have two other university
presses discussing flipping more substantial portions of their lists
through the OLH model.

Certainly, though, there is no reason why what we’ve done could not
be expanded beyond the disciplines in which we operate. However, we’d
need to grow more rapidly and have more initial capacity if we were to
run an Open Library of Science, for instance. Indeed, we’d need upfront
funder investment to expand our consortium size at a swifter rate and to
a higher level than we currently plan.

A lot of the discussion about “openness” has been about the
sciences; your area is the humanities (and that’s the topic of your
book). I have to apologise for not having read it yet — but what would
you say are the specific challenges for the humanities (and perhaps for
the social sciences as well) when it comes to open access scholarly
publishing? How might those compare to what’s going on in STEM areas?

There are several challenges that are more pronounced in the
humanities so I’ll just touch on a few here: the importance and
prominence of monographs; the inclusion of third-party copyrighted
material as an integral component of work (say in art history); and the
different funding climate.

Monographs are tricky. They cost a lot more, they often have trade
crossover, and they sometimes gain a broader audience by being available
for sale in print. Certainly, I personally do not want to read 80,000
words on a screen for cover-to-cover reading. But that doesn’t mean that
there isn’t merit in having books openly available; particularly as
these can cost $100 or so per copy. In any case, a task force has been
set up in the U.K. to plan a transition scheme to enable OA monographs
by the mid-2020s. I’ve also sketched out some initial challenges in this space on my blog.

The third-party copyright matter is also a bit of sticking point.
Without such inclusions work is often severely impoverished. When
analysing images, if the image is not there, the evidence to back up the
point is not clear; this is also an access issue. Getting clearance for
images for unlimited online dissemination can be tough since galleries,
libraries, archives, and museums are often not accustomed (yet) to such

Finally, as above, the transition to OA in the humanities looks
harder, since it is unclear whence the funding for APCs will emerge.
Opponents of OA also argue that the journal costs in the humanities for
subscriptions are lower than in the sciences, implying that they think
the fuss isn’t worth it. Yet I have never worked at an institution that
has subscriptions to every journal that I need for my research work, on
the grounds of cost, so I’m not buying this.

None of this is to say that there aren’t specific challenges for the
humanities but I prefer to think of the opportunities. Imagine a world
where humanistic knowledge and inquiry – that is, research work about
culture and humans – was available freely to every human on the planet.
Is that not a goal worthy of overcoming a few hurdles?

What do you think are the most salient critiques of open access for academic publishing?

There are lots of very poor attacks on OA that I am tired of
defending but the ones that are most salient seem to me to be the
pragmatic critiques. How are we actually going to do this? How can we
achieve that universal library for anyone who is interested in reading,
without discriminating on their ability to pay? Usually, these critiques
don’t come with answers. They point out the dire economic circumstances
for the humanities, the difficulties of freeing subscription revenue
etc. These are useful when they provide models to warn us of the
challenges and dangers. But I am also interested in how we move from
theory to practice. My book on OA (itself open access from Cambridge
University Press) is designed as a theoretical basis on which the OLH or
others can operate. It’s not a sales pitch for the model it’s just that
I am not content with merely philosophising about the world; the point,
after all, is to change it.

So much about the academic profession is shifting; I know
this is always the case — and we are always acutely aware of our own
time, particularly when it comes to technology and its effects. Given
the nature of academic institutions, what changes to scholarly
publishing (as knowledge dissemination) do you think might unfold within
the span of your career?

This is the kind of question that can come back to haunt the
interviewee and I’m very wary of such futurology! It’s also worth noting
that things move at a glacial pace within the academy.

However, things I see happening already include a desire for open
access among early career humanists. If at least some of them want it,
then it is likely to happen. Data sharing in various ways is also on the
up. I hope that we will see books available openly online for the good
of all. I also hope that text and data mining provisions through the
availability of semantically rich research articles can help us to more
accurately understand the scholarly web and its contents.

Melonie Fullick
Melonie Fullick is a PhD candidate at York University. The topic of her
dissertation is Canadian post-secondary education policy and its effects
on the institutional environment in universities.
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Open access and academic publishing – an interview with Dr. Martin Paul Eve | University Affairs