Justify Just or Just Justify

The Journal of Electronic Publishing Vol 13 Issue 1, 2010-03-01

Typography needs to be considered as much in electronic publishing as in book production (Châtry-Komarek 2003; Peck 2003), because both books and e-texts should be readable: the material must be designed to be legible and to communicate meaning as unambiguously as possible. Among their tools, graphic designers need typographical skills as well as design skills for both books and websites. Design is not by itself sufficient to convey a message to book readers or Website visitors; the quality of the text is just as important. A reader should be assisted in navigating through text with ease, using optimal inter-line, inter-letter, and inter-word spacing and text justification, coupled with appropriate line length and position on the page.

Our Blook

The Journal of Electronic Publishing Vol 13 Issue 1, 2010-03-01

OurBlook is a collaborative Web 2.0 site that allows readers to exchange research and information on national and global issues. The goal of the site is to gather and effectively organize opinions and information from today’s leaders, in the hopes of collaboratively finding tomorrow’s solutions.

UP 2.0: Some Theses on the Future of Academic Publishing

The Journal of Electronic Publishing Vol 13 Issue 1, 2010-03-01

Much attention has been focused recently on the transition from the printed to the digital book, and some of these reactions—and invariably the ones featured in the media—have been extreme, ranging, at one end, from teeth-gnashing proclamations on the end of culture, if not civilization, as we know it and, at the other end, to apocalyptic euphoria verging on Rapture. To the true believers, the digital book, and the seamless connectivity it seems to make inevitable between everything ever written and everybody still reading, appears either as the final dagger in the heart of the literary culture or as the realization of the globalizing, utopian visions of writers such as Teilhard de Chardin, Marshall McLuhan, or Internet guru Ted Nelson. Both extremes, but with opposite affect and attitude, seem to take for granted the imminent precipitous decline, if not outright demise, of the printed book, notwithstanding that such books have held sway for four and a half centuries, during which they have been integral to and instrumental within immense religious, political, social, intellectual, scientific, and cultural reformations, revolutions, and upheavals.

Editor’s Note

The Journal of Electronic Publishing Vol 13 Issue 1, 2010-03-01

“Every civilization is, among other things, an arrangement for domesticating the passions and setting them to do useful work," Aldous Huxley wrote in Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. As we see it, electronic publishing is becoming civilized. We seem to have reached the end of the period of passionate conviction about what scholarly publishing should become, and are setting about the serious work of understanding what it has become. The articles in this issue of The Journal of Electronic Publishing start by accepting the new electronic landscape.

The Short-Term Influence of Free Digital Versions of Books on Print Sales

The Journal of Electronic Publishing Vol 13 Issue 1, 2010-03-01

A growing number of authors and publishers freely distribute their books electronically to increase the visibility of their work. These books, for both academic and general audiences, cover a wide variety of genres, including technology, law, fantasy, and science fiction. Some authors claim that free digital distribution has increased the impact of their work and their reputations as authors. But beyond increased exposure, a vital question for those with a commercial stake in selling books is, “What happens to book sales if digital versions are given away?”

Launching (and Sustaining) a Scholarly Journal on the Internet: The International Journal of Baudrillard Studies

The Journal of Electronic Publishing Vol 13 Issue 1, 2010-03-01

Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) was a French thinker, writer, and photographer who was named by the New Statesman (Hussey, 2003) as one of the 12 most important thinkers of our time (alongside of James Lovelock, E.O. Wilson, Martha Nussbaum, Peter Singer, Noam Chomsky, Jacques Derrida, Li Hongzhi, Kate Millet, Maulana Sayyid Abul-Ala Maududi, Antonio Negri, and John Maynard Smith). From 1968 through 2006 he published more than 45 books all of which have now been translated into English. At a broad level his work constitutes an effort to surpass traditional critical theory by providing constant challenge and provocation. There continues to be much interest in his thought around the world.

XML Production Workflows? Start with the Web

The Journal of Electronic Publishing Vol 13 Issue 1, 2010-03-01

Book publishers have struggled in recent years to find ways to adopt XML-based editorial and production workflows. Complexity, unfamiliarity, and uncertainty about implementation details contribute to a kind of impasse among publishers—particularly small and medium-sized firms that lack the resources to maintain innovative IT departments that might push them into 21st-century processes. While the benefits of XML-based processes are trumpeted widely, and the general business case for adopting and investing in XML and related technology has existed for 20 years, gathering the energy and resources to move into an XML-based environment has eluded many. Could it be that XML-based workflows are simply too complicated to be readily adopted by smaller publishers? And if that is so, what are the implications as we move into the digital era?

10 years of CDK

Today marks (roughly) the tenth birthday of a fantastically successful open science project called the Chemical Development Kit (CDK).  At the time the skeleton of the project was set down on my office whiteboard, I was still the lead developer of Jmol, and Egon Willighagen and Christoph Steinbeck had contributed code to the Jmol project. Christoph’s pet code was a neat 2-d structure editor called JChemPaint, and Egon was working largely on the Chemical Markup Language (CML), although his code contributions were showing up nearly everywhere. Egon and Christoph were in the US for a “Chemistry and the Internet” conference and made a side trip by train to visit me so we could figure out how to unify these projects and to make a more general and reusable set of chemical objects.

The CDK waterfall whiteboard

The CDK waterfall whiteboard

The CDK design session was a fun weekend. In retrospect, they were some of the purest days of collaborative creativity I’ve ever experienced. We spent many hours and a lot of coffee hashing out some of the basic classes of CDK. The final picture of the whiteboard shows a classic waterfall diagram of what we were going to implement.

I’m the first to admit that my contributions to CDK were minimal. Egon & Chris ran with the design, expanded and improved it, implemented all the missing pieces, and released it to the world. It has become an important piece of scientific software, particularly in the bioinformatics community. Beyond Egon & Chris, Rajarshi Guha has been one of the prime developers of the software.

CDK is, by all objective standards a fantastic success story of open source scientific software. It has a large and vibrant user community, active developers, and a number of people (including myself) who browse the code just to see how it does something difficult. Egon has written a thoughtful piece on where CDK should go from here.

Happy Birthday CDK!

Full open access to articles – with library savings of over 70%

Update October 5, 2010: the currency reported in the STM report was USD, not UK pounds sterling. Thanks to Mark Ware, author of the STM report, for this information – and interesting example of open peer review in action! The USD currency is reflected in the STM report v1.1 on the STM website.

What this means is that my original figure (based on an assumption of US currency) of 64% savings is more accurate. I will rework the spreadsheet and re-release in the near future. Additional open peer review is welcome.

At the PLoS average article processing fee of $1,649 U.S. per article, or BMC average article processing charge of $1,560 U.S., libraries worldwide could fund full open access to the world’s estimated 1.5 million scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles produced every year at less than 30% of current annual global academic library journal expenditures.

The purpose of this broad-brush, macroeconomic analysis is to sweep aside the complexities of transitioning to open access, to view just how achievable open access is from an economic standpoint.

The method for calculating these savings involves:

STM Revenue

  • Take the total STM annual journal revenue as reported by Mark Ware for STM of 8 billion pounds sterling and convert to about 12.6 billion U.S.
  • Divide by .7 (approx. 70% of STM journal revenue is from academic libraries according to Ware)
  • This gives $8.8 billion USD annual revenue to STM from academic libraries alone

Full open access at PLoS or BMC rates

  • PLoS average rate: multiply # of articles / PLoS journal by article processing fee for that journal, add and calculate average
  • BMC standard rate is from BMC webpage
  • Multiply by approx. 1.5 million scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles per year as discovered by Björk et al

Calculate the ratio and voila! Libraries CAN have our cake and eat it too – full open access with cost savings.

One key point: the average cost per article matters. To keep things simple, this macroanalysis only considers one business model for open access, and only two publishers.

Data Sources

BioMedCentral standard article processing charge – from BMC website http://www.biomedcentral.com/info/authors/apcfaq Sept. 27, 2010.

Björk, Bo-Christer; Roosr, Annikki; Lauri, Mari. (2008). Global annual volume of peer reviewed scholarly articles and the share available via different open access options. ELPUB2008. Open Scholarship: Authority, Community, and Sustainability in the Age of Web 2.0 – Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Electronic Publishing held in Toronto, Canada 25-27 June 2008 / Edited by: Leslie Chan and Susanna Mornati.

PLoS average publication fee (2010): http://www.plosone.org/static/policies.action#pubfee

Research Information Network (RIN). (2008). Activities, costs and funding flows in the scholarly communications system in the UK Retrieved from http://is.gd/3Q7cm

Universal Currency Converter. Retrieved from http://www.xe.com/ucc/ September 27, 2010

Ware, Mark. (2009) The stm report: An overview of scientific and scholarly
journals publishing 2009. International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM). Retrieved from http://www.stm-assoc.org/ February 2010

To download a spreadsheet with calculations, go to the Economics of Scholarly Communication Dataverse.

This post is part of the Transitioning to Open Access and Economics 101 series, and is an update and correction of a post from 2009.

Video recordings of the 2nd Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing

  1. Open Access Publishing: Retaining the core, stimulating progress
  2. Open, free, or hybrid? Open access at the BMJ Group
  3. Establishing an Institutional OA Publishing Fund: The UC Berkeley Experience
  4. BioMed Central’s Membership Schemes
  5. PLoS Institutional Membership Program

Models for open access — many flavors

By Karen Grigg, Associate Director of Collection Services at the Duke Medical Center Library:
Open Access comes in a variety of flavors.  The two main types of open access are that of open access journals and self-archiving methods
Open Access journals are those that are freely available to the end-user.  Since the reader does not pay for content, costs must be subsidized by the author or the institution. Along with publication fees, submission fees are sometimes charged.
BioMed Central, an online publisher of free peer-reviewed scientific articles, is sustained by revenue from institutions. However, the new “Shared Support Membership” allows institutions and authors to share article costs.
Public Library of Science, or PloS, charges a publication fee that can be paid by the author or the author’s employer. PLoS also relies on donations from foundations.
Self-archiving allows authors to submit their own material online so that it is accessible to the public.  There are two main varieties of self archiving; institutional repositories (IR), and Subject Based Repositories.  IR are hosted by an institution, such as a university, and bundles all the research output of the institution.  Often, the work is done by librarians or IT staff.  One such IR is eScholarship from the University of California.  A subject-based repository is hosted independently of an individual institution, and bundles the research output of a subject of discipline.  Authors voluntarily self-archive their work on a pre-print server.  An example of a subject repository  is Arxiv, a repository for- physicists and mathematicians.  Finally, authors often post articles on their own web sites, but the ability to do so requires negotiation with the publisher.
There are also some hybrid models of open access. Some publishers allow authors to decide whether or not an article can be openly accessed.  Authors who would like their article to be freely available can opt to pay the publishing fee.  These fees can be several thousand dollars per article.  The Delayed OA model gives public access to journal articles after an embargoed period, often 6 months to 1 year.  With a Partial OA journal, certain parts of the journal; often editorials or abstracts, are freely available, while the bulk of the content is for fee. Finally, Retrospective OA allows access to older journal articles that have been digitized.
For more background on Open Access Models, see:
Zhang, Sha Li. “OCLC Systems & Services | The Flavors of Open Access.” OCLC Systems & Services 23.3 (2007): 229-34. Emerald. Web. 15 Sept. 2010. <http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1622087&show=html>.
“Peter Suber, Open Access Overview (definition, Introduction).” Earlham College — Richmond, Indiana. Web. 15 Sept. 2010. <http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm>.

The economics of open access

When we talk about the economics of open access, the conversation usually begins with the high cost of traditional journal subscriptions.  For a nice summary of the argument that the economics of journal pricing is out of control, this portion of the ACRL toolkit on scholarly communications is an excellent resource.  But that is only the beginning of the discussion.  There is a lot more to say about open access economics.
One great source to grasp the nuance of the issues is a 2009 issue of the journal Economic Analysis and Policy, which itself made the transition from toll access to open availability under a Creative Commons Attribution license.  A special issue of the journal was dedicated to the economics of open access; the full contents are linked to this blog post, which make finding them much easier.
I can especially recommend the first two articles in this special issue of EAP.  John Willinsky does an excellent job in “The Stratified Economics of Open Access” of analyzing traditional publishing market segments and looking at how each is experimenting with open access.  Conley and Wooders, in “But what Have you Done for me lately,” ask the very basic questions about what publishing an academic article should cost and what the most economically efficient model for scholarly communications might look like.
As I said, the conversation usually begins with high journal prices.  Open access is not a solution, per se, to the problem of journal costs, but it is a solution to the access problem that is created by skyrocketing prices.  For most academic authors, the issue of how much publishing really costs and how much of a university’s budget is actually going into shareholder value at Elsevier or Informa is very much secondary.  Their concern is how to get their work into the hands of those who need it and might be able to use it.  High subscription costs prevent that access and thus reduce the impact of scholarly work.  That is the problem that new models of distributing scholarship, most of which are forms of open access, can solve.
As Conley and Wooders’ article makes clear, open access is not free in the sense of being without any costs, although consumers of open access articles do get the information they need without charge.  Open access models are really about ways to streamline and redistribute the costs of publication so as to solve the access problem that is becoming so severe in the traditional system.
When we talk about the economics of open access, there are two factors that we should not forget.  First, the are costs, known as lost opportunity costs, associated with traditional publishing that are recaptured by open access.  Every time a researcher or teacher cannot get to the information she needs to do her work, or must obtain it by labor-intensive means like interlibrary loan or direct contact with the author, time and knowledge, which are both worth money, are wasted; open access reduces that loss.  Second, open access provides the benefit of greater impact to the scholarly authors of articles made accessible through the various OA models.  This benefit for the authors, like the benefit to the reader of quick and toll-free access, increases the overall value of research.  When we examine the economics of open access, the increased value of the research itself must be part of the equation.
Taken from Duke web site

Librarians and Libraries and Open Access

“Roses red and violets blue
stays unread
till paid by you”

How can librarians prove that their libraries still provide education?
Their situation is nohow a warming one. However, the solution couldn’t be more simple.


Complex Situation

Libraries order journals and books. The cost of academic material is climbing rapidly (from 1989 to 2003 by 315% according to ARL). This is possible because the market is dominated by a small number of large publishers who can demand very high prices for their publications. The world production of scholarly outputs, by contrast, has been at least doubled.
Even the most well endowed library cannot afford to provide all of the research material necessary for its students/researchers, let alone the one in the developing world. In addition, library budgets have been severely slashed everywhere.


Two Crises and the Damage Done

SERIALS PRICING CRISIS (in its forth decade according to Peter Suber)
  • costs climbing, number of journals growing, library budgets are being slashed
  • researchers must do without access to some of the journals critical to their research.
PERMISSION CRISIS (in its first decade according to Peter Suber)
  • legal and technological barriers are raised limiting how libraries may use the journals
  • legal barrier: copyright law, licensing agreement
  • technological barrier: digital rights management which blocks access to unauthorized users
Both crises impede research
and when research is impeded
so are all the benefits of research.

Peter Suber


Simple Solution

This would present an insoluble problem in the print machine era, however with internet technology available, both crises may be answered with Open Access to research material. The middleman can now be left out of the picture and mutual responsibility in promoting the wide dissemination of knowledge is now solely on librarians and publishers.
A report commissioned by the Wellcome Trust, for example, concludes that “open access is not only a practical, efficient and sustainable model for disseminating high-quality peer-reviewed research, but that it is a system that could also bring savings of as much as 30%
SPARC is calling recently for stories being collected for the OA Week about Open Access causing major swerve in specific scientific study. Thus, even if it didn’t prove as a money saving solution, it will, undoubtedly prove as a “community-saving” solution.


Librarians Act Today and Envision the Year 2025

That librarians are strong advocates for Open Access is obvious when recognized that SPARC, one of the strongest OA organization on a global level, was founded by the research library community.
Other than that, librarians are:
  • educating faculty and administrators on campus about Open Access
  • building digital repositories for OA journals/books
  • supporting OA journals (which make more than 20% of peer-reviewed journals today)
There are weak spots to the movement with librarians not always being as engaged as
they should, but the idea is still in its growth process and the awareness is yet to be raised.
The latest report, Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Higher Education in 2025, sponsored by ACRL, provides nine likely, high-impact scenarios for the future of higher education and the supporting role of librarians, and it is abbreviated in bullet points by Philip Davis from Scholarly Kitchen: http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2010/09/22/future-of-academic-librarians/

Taken from InTech

Librarians are self-archiving at twice the global baseline rate

Holly Mercer reports that the self-archiving rate in library and information science is nearly 50% among librarians (and double the 20% global baseline even among nonlibrarians). Nevertheless, not even all articles for which immediate OA self-archiving has been endorsed by their publishers (c. 58-68%) are yet being self-archived even in library and information science, let alone the over 90% after embargo (or the 100% that can be deposited immediately in Closed Access allowing the semi-automatic eprint-request Button to provide Almost-OA during any embargo).

Among the potential solutions, the most important and effective one is for institutions and funders to mandate self-archiving. (Several library faculties have already taken the intiaitive of doing this.)  It is also important to make institutional repository deposit the official mechanism for submitting publications for institutional and national performance review (see Liège model).

One slight correction: Alma Swan’s reported rate of 49% self-archiving was not for total articles; it was just the percentage of authors who said they had self-archived at least once. (And both Alma’s studies and those of others have found that authors are often not sure what they mean when they say they have self-archived!) This too will be self-corrected as self-archiving mandates, with their links to research assessment, grow.

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum

Coping With Scarcity: Mandate Green OA Before Subsidizing Gold OA

Another university has committed some of its (scarce) resources to subsidizing costly Gold OA publishing of some of its refereed research output without first mandating cost-free Green OA self-archiving of all of its refereed research output.

University of Michigan is the 9th university to commit to COPE. Only two (Harvard and MIT) of the nine COPE signatories to date are among the 170 institutions, departments and funders that have already mandated Green OA self-archiving for all of their refereed research output. The other seven COPE signatories should first emulate Harvard and MIT on providing Green, before provisioning Gold.

For the record: An institution or funder committing to COPE (or SCOAP3 or pre-emptive Gold OA “Membership” deals) is fine after the institution or funder has already mandated Green OA self-archiving of all of its refereed research output; but it is both wasteful and counterproductive before (or instead):

Against Squandering Scarce Research Funds on Pre-Emptive Gold OA… 15 May 2009  

Pre-Emptive Gold Fever Strikes Again… 23 Apr 2009  

On Throwing Money At Gold OA Without First Mandating Green OA 28 Mar 2009

University of California: Throwing Money At Gold OA Without 8 Mar 2009  

Conflicts of Interest in Open Access… 1 May 2009  

Green OA is no threat to grants: Pre-emptive Gold OA, today, might 24 Jan 2007

More OA Somnambulism: Conflating the Journal Affordability and… 5 Mar 2009  

SCOAP3 and the pre-emptive “flip” model for Gold OA conversion 23 Jun 2008

Harvard’s Stuart Shieber on Open Access at CalTech and Berkeley… 17 Apr 2009

Publisher anti-OA Lobby Triumphs in European Commission… 13 Jul 2007

Physics World: The CERN Gold OA Initiative 8 Mar 2007  

On “Open Access” Publishers Who Oppose Open Access Self-Archiving 3 Mar 2007  

Gold and Green Keynotes at IATUL 2007 11 Jun 2007  

Cliff Lynch on Open Access 12 Jan 2007 

Journal Affordability, Research Accessibility, and Open Access 14 Jun 2008  

Clarifying the Logic of Open Choice: I (of 2) 23 Mar 2007  

OA Primer for the Perplexed: I 25 May 2008  

Critique of EPS/RIN/RCUK/DTI “Evidence-Based Analysis of Data…” 8 Oct 2006