Designing a useful textbook for an open access audience – Q and A with Filipe Campante, Federico Sturzenegger and Andrés Velasco, authors of Advanced Macroeconomics: An Easy Guide? | Impact of Social Sciences

Textbooks play an important role in defining fields of research and summarising key academic ideas for a wider audience. But how do you do this for an open access audience that is potentially unlimited? We talked to Filipe Campante, Federico Sturzenegger and Andrés Velasco¸ authors of the recently published LSE Press book Advanced Macroeconomics: An Easy Guide, about how the field has changed in recent times, what makes their approach to macro-economics distinctive, and what rationales and ambitions lie behind producing an open access textbook.

Why most academic journals are following outdated publishing practices

“In his Medium article “Scholarly publishing is stuck in 1999,”

Springer Nature product manager Stephen Cornelius reproaches the outdated publishing practices many academic journals are using to produce online content. He notes that, despite decades of technological advancement, “research publishing seems stuck with those that were employed when it first went online.” Cornelius points to many areas of digital journal publishing that have been designed to mirror print publishing, such as journals formatting online articles as print-based PDFs, despite there being better ways to produce and present content online….

PDFs are rife with limitations as compared to HTML because, unlike HTML, PDFs:

Cannot support embedded multi-media research files such as videos
Have a poor layout for online reading, generally using columns that require readers to scroll up and down to read content on the same page
Are nearly impossible to read on mobile devices because PDFs are a static page (whereas HTML can be made to have a responsive design)
Do not easily allow for clickable references within the text
Are overwhelmingly not search-optimized for online browsers…

A recent article in The Atlantic titled “The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete“ explores the limitations of PDFs and the need for journals, particularly in STEM fields, to adopt internet-based publishing formats in order to support more dynamic presentations of research as well as to make it easier for readers to find articles online….”

 

An Open-Publishing Response to the COVID-19 Infodemic

Abstract:  The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed the rapid dissemination of papers and preprints investigating the disease and its associated virus, SARS-CoV-2. The multifaceted nature of COVID-19 demands a multidisciplinary approach, but the urgency of the crisis combined with the need for social distancing measures present unique challenges to collaborative science. We applied a massive online open publishing approach to this problem using Manubot. Through GitHub, collaborators summarized and critiqued COVID-19 literature, creating a review manuscript. Manubot automatically compiled citation information for referenced preprints, journal publications, websites, and clinical trials. Continuous integration workflows retrieved up-to-date data from online sources nightly, regenerating some of the manuscript’s figures and statistics. Manubot rendered the manuscript into PDF, HTML, LaTeX, and DOCX outputs, immediately updating the version available online upon the integration of new content. Through this effort, we organized over 50 scientists from a range of backgrounds who evaluated over 1,500 sources and developed seven literature reviews. While many efforts from the computational community have focused on mining COVID-19 literature, our project illustrates the power of open publishing to organize both technical and non-technical scientists to aggregate and disseminate information in response to an evolving crisis.

 

PDF Data Extractor (PDE) – A Free Web Application and R Package Allowing the Extraction of Tables from Portable Document Format (PDF) Files and High-Throughput Keyword Searches of Full-Text Articles | bioRxiv

Abstract:  The PDF Data Extractor (PDE) R package is designed to perform comprehensive literature reviews for scientists at any stage in a user-friendly way. The PDE_analyzer_i() function permits the user to filter and search thousands of scientific articles using a simple user interface, requiring no bioinformatics skills. In the additional PDE_reader_i() interface, the user can then quickly browse the sentences with detected keywords, open the full-text article, when required, and convert tables conveniently from PDF files to Excel sheets (pdf2table). Specific features of the literature analysis include the adaptability of analysis parameters and the detection of abbreviations of search words in articles. In this article, we demonstrate and exemplify how the PDE package allows the user-friendly, efficient, and automated extraction of meta-data from full-text articles, which can aid in summarizing the existing literature on any topic of interest. As such, we recommend the use of the PDE package as the first step in conducting an extensive review of the scientific literature. The PDE package is available from the Comprehensive R Archive Network at https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=PDE.

 

Lebert, Marie, A short history of ebooks

Table of contents:

1. Project Gutenberg, a visionary project

2. The milestones of Project Gutenberg

3. PDF, a pioneer format created by Adobe

4. Gabriel, a portal for European national libraries

5. The British Library and its treasures

6. From PDAs to smartphones

7. The first e-readers

8. E Ink, an electronic ink technology

9. Online dictionaries and encyclopedias

10. Experiments by best-selling authors

11. From OeB to EPUB as a standard format

12. Wikipedia, an encyclopedia for the world

13. The Creative Commons licence

14. From Google Print to Google Books

15. The Internet Archive, a library for the world

16. eBooks seen by some pioneers

17. A tribute to librarians around the world

18. A timeline from 1971 until now

IFLA signs the WikiLibrary Manifesto

“IFLA has endorsed the WikiLibrary Manifesto, aimed at connecting libraries and Wikimedia projects such as Wikibase in order to promote the dissemination of knowledge in open formats, especially in linked open data networks….”

Opening Up Scholarship in the Humanities: Digital Publishing, Knowledge Translation, and Public Engagement

Abstract:  Opening Up Scholarship in the Humanities: Digital Publishing, Knowledge Translation, and Public Engagement considers the concept of humanistic, open, social scholarship and argues for its value in the contemporary academy as both a set of socially oriented activities and an organizing framework for such activities. This endeavour spans the interrelated areas of knowledge creation, public engagement, and open access, and demonstrates the importance of considering this triad as critical for the pursuit of academic work moving forward—especially in the humanities. Under the umbrella of open social scholarship, I consider open access as a baseline for public engagement and argue for the vitalness of this sort of work. Moreover, I suggest that there is a strong connection between digital scholarship and social knowledge creation. I explore the knowledge translation lessons that other fields might have for the humanities and include a journalist–humanist case study to this end. I also argue for the value of producing research output in many different forms and formats. Finally, I propose that there are benefits to explicitly popularizing the humanities. In sum, this dissertation speculates on past, current, and future scholarly communication activities, and proposes that such activities might be opened up for wider engagement and, thus, social benefit.

Streamlined peer review and PubMed-ready XML: How Spartan Medical Research Journal is using Scholastica to grow

“When SMRJ was started, the editors used email and Word docs to track peer review, and they published all articles in PDF format. However, with the journal continuing to expand, the editors realized they were in need of an easier way to track submissions and a new publishing system to improve the journal’s online reading experience and chances of being added to relevant indexes. As a result, Chief Editor William Corser and Assistant Editor Sam Wisniewski began searching for publishing tools and services, focused on three key areas: streamlining peer review, modernizing the journal’s website, and producing XML for all articles.

After considering different options, Corser and Wisniewski chose to use Scholastica’s peer review and open access publishing software, as well as Scholastica’s typesetting service to produce PDF, HTML, and XML article files. Since making the switch, they’ve found that peer review is smoother for editors and authors and they’re making strides towards reaching their article discovery and indexing goals….”

The sharing of research data facing the COVID-19 pandemic | SpringerLink

Abstract:  During the previous Ebola and Zika outbreaks, researchers shared their data, allowing many published epidemiological studies to be produced only from open research data, to speed up investigations and control of these infections. This study aims to evaluate the dissemination of the COVID-19 research data underlying scientific publications. Analysis of COVID-19 publications from December 1, 2019, to April 30, 2020, was conducted through the PubMed Central repository to evaluate the research data available through its publication as supplementary material or deposited in repositories. The PubMed Central search generated 5,905 records, of which 804 papers included complementary research data, especially as supplementary material (77.4%). The most productive journals were The New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet and The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the most frequent keyword was pneumonia, and the most used repositories were GitHub and GenBank. An expected growth in the number of published articles following the course of the pandemics is confirmed in this work, while the underlying research data are only 13.6%. It can be deduced that data sharing is not a common practice, even in health emergencies, such as the present one. High-impact generalist journals have accounted for a large share of global publishing. The topics most often covered are related to epidemiological and public health concepts, genetics, virology and respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia. However, it is essential to interpret these data with caution following the evolution of publications and their funding in the coming months.

From the body of the paper: “In global public health emergencies, it should be mandatory to disseminate any information that may be of value in fighting the crisis. For this to be done efficiently, there is a need to develop agreed global standards for sharing data and results for scientists, institutions and governments.”

ETDplus Toolkit [Tool Review]

Abstract:  Electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) have traditionally taken the form of PDFs and ETD programs and their submission and curation procedures have been built around this format. However, graduate students are increasingly creating non-PDF files during their research, and in some cases these files are just as or more important than the PDFs that must be submitted to satisfy degree requirements. As a result, both graduate students and ETD administrators need training and resources to support the handling of a wide variety of complex digital objects. The Educopia Institute’s ETDplus Toolkit provides a highly usable set of modules to address this need, openly licensed to allow for reuse and adaption to a variety of potential use cases.