Archive for the 'publishing' category

DOE to try a publisher-sensitive pubmed central-like database?

Somehow I got on a NITRD e-mail list (probably a project I was on) and through that list I recently got an announcement of a presentation on PAGES (Public Access Gateway for Energy and Science) which is described as "a web-based portal that will ensure that, after an embargo period, scholarly publications sponsored by the Department of Energy are publicly accessible and searchable at no charge to readers."

I immediately got all excited - sounds a lot like pubmed central and woo-hoo because DOE funds a lot of research in diverse fields.

Then I read down a little ways and saw some strange caveat-like things or, well, not really weasel words but look here (emphases mine):

PAGES is designed to take advantage of the public access efforts of publishers by linking, via digital object identifiers (DOIs), to DOE articles they make publicly accessible.  Each such article serves as the Version of Record, and it is hosted by the publisher.  Thus, PAGES will avoid duplicating the public access efforts of publishers.

When DOE articles are not publicly accessible, PAGES will focus on accepted manuscripts.  Specifically, after an embargo period, it will link, via URLs, to publicly accessible manuscripts hosted by institutional repositories.  For those instances where free public access is offered neither by a publisher nor by an institutional repository, the DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information will host the accepted manuscript and display it after an embargo period.  In both of these cases, PAGES will still provide DOI links to publishers’ websites, where articles may be accessed with a subscription or other transaction, thus maintaining a pathway to the Version of Record.

So this sounds very much like the authors were talking to the Executive Director of AIP, who was a DOE physicist (and administrator) prior to taking over at AIP. In his presentations and contributions to committees on scholarly communication he has put forth rental models, FundRef (a way to track research funding through CrossRef metadata), and links to the "version of record" at publishers all as ways to provide public access. I've already commented on rental models and knowing something exists and looking at the abstract may be intellectual access but it's not the real access that someone trying to do science needs. Publishers have long (and continuously) maintained that scientists are perfectly content with access and that, in general, access to the literature is just fine thank you very much.

So that's why I say "publisher-sensitive."

A couple of other weird things - we don't know the embargo period and it seems excessive not to even link to institutional repository copies until after the embargo. If the publisher allows immediate posting of the work in an institutional repository, then why wait? Seems strange.

Also no discussion of carrot, stick, mandate, or whatever. Will this be a condition of funding? Are they just going to crawl the web or whatever open repository harvester thingy to find these things? Hope authors volunteer publication information? Hmmm.

It looks like a similar presentation was given to CENDI.

In that presentation there's also this other thing that could have been written by publishers

Preserves the freedom of researchers to promote and disseminate their research, i.e., preserves researchers’ choice in selecting the journal to which they wish to submit manuscripts.

A bit of fud (maybe?) that publishers have been using in anti-mandate press releases is that mandates would force scientists to only publish in journals that would allow depositing of the manuscript thus taking away their freedom to select an appropriate venue. (seems to me if you publish a journal with lots of stuff funded by a mandate-having agency then you probably need to support compliance with the mandate, but that's just me.)

The original announcement also had this information:

Regardless of where DOE-sponsored articles or accepted manuscripts are hosted, PAGES will enable readers to search them all via a single search box.  Among the metadata thus returned by PAGES will be the DOI for the published article once that DOI is posted by the publisher.  PAGES will also be integrated with other DOE publicly-accessible R&D information and products, such as the 330,000 technical reports in the DOE Information Bridge

Over all definitely a good thing. I'm actually rather amused at how much they're trying to placate publishers. I guess they really don't want to get in to the lobbying and NIH-like battles. I can't say I really blame them. Limited money is best used elsewhere. I guess the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. It would be awesome if this got taken up by DOD. Really would be fabulous.

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Crazy response from reporting a missing issue

Feb 21 2013 Published by under publishing

I'm gonna have to name names but I'll say right now that I'm stating facts and also that nothing on this site represents the opinion or position of my employer.

I recently noticed that v25 n1 (1991) of the Journal of Composites is missing from the Sage website. We've licensed the whole backfile for this journal and we need an article from it.

I contacted technical support and their response was:

SAGE did not publish JOURNAL OF COMPOSITE MATERIALS in 1991.  I checked with our Publishing Technologies Department and the 1991 content you asked for is not available in our archives because the previous publisher did not have all past issues on hand when the title was transferred to SAGE.

I suggest that you look for the back issue at the Periodical Service Company.  This company has permission to sell back issues of our journals which are older than 2 years old.  They are major reprinters of academic journals and specialize in the supply of back volumes and back issues of out-of-print journals and serials.

What a load of crap. I can purchase a copy of the missing issue but they can't do the same and digitize it? That's completely unsatisfactory. When I've reported missing or messed up issues to Wiley and Elsevier they've promptly corrected the problem. (how promptly varies, because they have to source the print, scan, add metadata, qc, etc., but they fixed it)
Aw, come on... we pay these boatloads of money this is bogus.

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WTH, Publishers? What part of NO MORE MONEY do you not get?

Feb 13 2013 Published by under publishing

Rant mode on.

We have one publisher of ebooks with a 13% increase. A journal publisher with a 7% increase. Another journal publisher with individual titles with as much as a 20% increase (promptly cancelled!).




Sequester? Government science cut backs? Military O & M money shorted? RDT&E money shorted?

No. More. You're gonna get cancelled and we'll have to deal with the pitchforks and torches. Hell, I have a travel ban on now even if the kids weren't preventing me from going to SLA and whatnot.

It's not just the small undergrad colleges. It's across the board.

End of Rant.

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Yay SUNY Potsdam, but pondering the fungibility of chemistry journals...

Sep 12 2012 Published by under information policy, publishing

Jenica Rogers, the Director of Libraries at the State University of New York at Potsdam, has blogged that their institution will not subscribe to a big ACS (American Chemical Society) journal package for 2013. The quote that they got would make this one package over 10% of their total acquisitions budget. The reason this is so notable is that ACS is also the accreditation body for chemistry programs, and there is a list of journals a program must have access to in order to be accredited. ACS has long held that the journals - with the exception of a journal on chemical education - do not have to be ACS journals.

In her blog post she mentions alternative subscriptions to Wiley packages, Royal Society of Chemistry packages, and combining those with Elsevier journals. For the purposes of accreditation, I totally get substituting journals from one publisher  for another. For doing the chemistry, this has not been the case. Publishers have banked on must-have journals... is this no longer the case? Surely it's different because they are a smaller school? Surely it's different if you already have a severely limited chemistry journal collection?


And yes, I'm on fire with 3 blog posts so close together 🙂

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US News reports on open access, sort of

Jul 26 2012 Published by under publishing

I guess we should be happy that the mainstream media is covering OA, but this article is a bit confused in places and probably does a little bit of harm.

Owens, Simon (2012, July 23) Is the Academic Publishing Industry on the Verge of Disruption? US News. Retrieved July 26, 2012 from

Confused: parallel with ebooks? This comparison is not really relevant or helpful. Academic ebooks have been steadily growing in use, and they don't, in general, require a specialized reader.
The modern version of peer review is much more recent than mid-1600s.

A bit of harm: publishing in a journal makes the work "unassailable"? (!?!?) Unable to be attacked, questioned, or defeated? and "the more prestigious the journal, the more unassailable the article becomes" - oh that's not good at all. All work should be questioned, regardless of publication venue. Eek.

OA fees are typically a few thousand dollars? Well, some are, but many are less than $1500.

publishers have asserted that because of the layers of editorial review prior to a manuscript's publication, the publisher owns the copyright of the manuscript

Um, no. The copyright is owned by the author or the author's employer in a case of work for hire. The author signs over copyright using an agreement. The publisher doesn't own the copyright just because they manage peer review. Some journals and conferences do peer review but the author just gives the venue exclusive publishing rights for a fixed, short period.


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SPIE just does things right

Jun 22 2012 Published by under publishing

I'm always complaining about publishers and the various messes they make ... so I think it's really important once again to mention SPIE and how they're good people.  SPIE is for optics and photonics folks, btw, but they also have some more general interest defense stuff from time to time.

First of all, SPIE only charges what it has to to support publishing. They've had 5% decreases in price several years and they've held steady in other years.

They're very responsive to librarian requests and have a librarian newsletter.

Finally, the thing that's prompted this post is how they're handling their migration. AIP is stopping hosting journals for organizations that are not member societies (that's confusing. henceforth they are only hosting journals for their member societies). So a bunch of publishers had to find new homes and SPIE is one of them. Some nice things:

  • lots of notice
  • e-mails with lots of details and updates
  • migration checklist
  • keeping the same URLs where possible and having permanent redirects elsewhere (other journals have cut over hard with no notice and no redirects!)
  • they're proactively working with SFX and with CrossRef to make sure that all goes smoothly
  • they're ADDING legacy content back to 1962 at no additional charge
  • they're even moving alerts over (this is very unusual)
  • they picked a platform that gives them lots of new features (see:

One of their primary competitors has had huge price increases without adding as much new stuff.

Bravo SPIE! Bravo!

One response so far

In favor of the HTML full text (am I the only one?)

Dec 20 2011 Published by under publishing, scholarly communication

Chatting with a society publisher last week they told me that it's hardly worthwhile doing anything with the html page because maybe only 10% of readers use it!  I guess I'm in that 10%.

Over the years I've had so many problems with pdfs. They crash. They crash Adobe, they crash the browser, they crash the computer... and they can (and sometimes do) have malware embedded so pose a security risk. MPOW, like many other security-minded organizations, has it set up so all pdfs must fully download and be scanned before displaying. So this creates lots of temporary files to clog up the computer and it also makes irrelevant all those stupid frames publishers put around their pdfs.

Granted, when I need to print, I want the pdf. I use the pdf for my own reading that I want to suck into Mendeley.  My customers typically want pdfs.

But when I'm reading out of vague curiosity or browsing to pick out a fact (that is, if they don't pull out the tables and graphs separately), or checking to see if the article is any good... it's all html. If I'm going to read the whole thing, I'll frequently use the Readability plugin (I'm getting old).

So don't do away with the html, please, for me? And Sage?  Please add html full text (thank you in advance)!

One response so far

We need to work together to save the Statistical Abstract of the United States

Mar 22 2011 Published by under publishing

There are only a few references that are in every type of library including corporate libraries, government libraries, academic libraries, public libraries, and school libraries. Some sort of dictionary. Some sort of almanac (they’re cheap and they answer a ton of questions). The Statistical Abstract of the United States. You wouldn’t believe how many questions can be answered with this book alone. If your answer isn’t in this book, then you can find a table with the right sort of information and use the detailed citation to find the fuller information from the original data source. I’ve used it online, but I really prefer the print because it ends up being much faster. It’s one-stop shopping for lots of different government statistics from lots of different sources.

We just heard through multiple sources that the entire Statistical Compendia Branch of the Census Bureau is slated to be defunded in 2012 (Iris has info and links to a govdocs listserv).  So not only will we lose this vital tool, we’ll also lose the State and Metropolitan Area Data Book and the County and City Data Book. I used these all the time in the public library to answer lots of questions about Maryland and our county.

I really can’t overstate the importance of these resources to finding and using government statistics information.


I would encourage you to write your senators and congressmen to see if we can save this important tool.

5 responses so far

Another Ebook Rant

Feb 25 2011 Published by under information policy, publishing

Oh, this just kills me. It's absolutely despicable, and I don't mean cute like the movie.

(via Jill Hurst-Wahl) see this blog post from Bobbi Newman.

You know how I keep going on and on about ebooks and licensing? How you don't own them? DRM and all?

Well, one of the largest ebook providers to public libraries, Overdrive, has announced that "purchasing" a book on their system means you only get 26 check-outs. Then the book will disappear. (insert really unladylike language here).

One positive for libraries wrt ebooks has been the return on investment - but this could mean that a book costs about $1/checkout. That's totally not sustainable. I used to see books with more than 200 lifetime checkouts. Considering the fact that this would also include people renewing books (there is no real renewal, you have to check the book out again) if they didn't finish reading.

In print books you have the first sale doctrine. Here you are purchasing a block of uses (like we used to do with First Search databases for the librarians in the crowd). No point in models where you "buy" books at all. You should just get access to the database and pay an annual subscription.

We had a vendor try some crazy thing where we would pay them for all of their ebooks, but each one could only be downloaded once - ever. (crazy, huh? and this was tens of thousands of dollars).

Oh, oh, and another thing. They want to audit that you're not giving library cards to people outside your geographic area. Boooogus.

Overdrive should just stop carrying books from that particular publisher. Yeah, we would complain, but the principle is important.

7 responses so far

You don't buy ebooks

Feb 16 2011 Published by under information policy, publishing

Let me say that again: You don't buy ebooks. You license them.

You don't buy ejournals, you license them. In most cases, you stop paying, you no longer have access.  Ebook collections in the library? In most cases, you stop paying, you no longer have access.

Unfortunately, David Dobbs just learned this the hard way. iBooks you licensed disappear if your phone has been unlocked or jailbroken and you do the update. You broke some aspect of the license so they stop their part of the license - providing the content.

Remember when Amazon pulled back copies of Orwell books from Kindles? It didn't matter if you held up your part of the license in that case, they found that a third party had broken the law.

Libraries are trying to write licenses to have "perpetual" access but in many cases this only applies if you license individual books, not collections. We also like schemes that provide a backup like LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, or Portico. AND we do everything we can to make sure we hold up our end of the license (no bulk downloading, only the people who are supposed to have access do, etc.). This is why we sometimes seem like the watchdogs for the publishers.

Just get your stuff from a library, then when it goes poof you can just check it out again. Or if not, maybe a third party (like B&N or Amazon) would prevent the iBook issue (if not the other issues).

7 responses so far

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