Sustaining the knowledge commons (open access scholarship)

It is with great pleasure that I acknowledge that Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has selected my proposal Sustaining the knowledge commons (open access scholarship) for funding in the amount of $71,000 Canadian for the period 2014 – 2016. This suite of research projects involves an open research approach; to facilitate sharing of knowledge in this area (both existing knowledge and new knowledge gained through this suite of research projects) I’ve created a new project blog, Sustaining the Knowledge Commons (open access scholarship) which can be found at A summary of the research proposal has been posted on this new blog and is copied below for the convenience of readers of IJPE. Watch for more on this as the research unfolds.

Sustaining the knowledge commons (open access scholarship)
Open access literature is digital, online, free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions (Suber, 2012). Open access to the scholarly literature is a public good that will “accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge” (Budapest Open Access Initiative, 2002). Much has been accomplished in transitioning scholarly works to open access in the past decade. The Directory of Open Access Journals lists about 10 thousand fully open access, peer reviewed scholarly journals. The relatively new Directory of Open Access Books lists over 1,500 open access scholarly monographs from more than 50 publishers. There are thousands of open access archives around the world, housing millions of documents. Hundreds of research funding agencies and universities require open access to the results of research they support, as listed in the Registry of Open Access Material Archiving Policies. However, much remains to be done, and in particular there is a need to address the challenge of ensuring sustainable funding mechanisms for open access publishing, especially high-quality publishing led by scholars that is free to prioritize the needs of scholars and the public good (as opposed to the single bottom line of profit).
The proposed research would create a macro-level analysis on the economics of an open access scholarly journal publishing system through the examination of three separate but related areas of research: 1. a thorough in-depth analysis on the article processing fees charged by some open access journals; 2. an examination of the resources needed by small not-for-profit scholar-led publishers (e.g. needs for editorial or technical support); and 3. supplementing the work of Edgar & Willinsky (2010) that found an average revenue of $188 per article for journals using Open Journal Systems, by factoring in infrastructure costs for journal hosting services. The proposed budget allocates over 80% to research assistantships as this proposal is my first step towards the creation of a research centre and the active participation of students is a crucial first step to the research centre. In addition, the proposed research will help university libraries to make prudent decisions to transition the underlying economics of scholarly publishing (currently the vast majority of funding for the system comes from university library budgets) from a subscriptions / purchase to an open access basis. An open research approach to knowledge dissemination will help journals and libraries struggling with the transition early on in the process through sharing knowledge to date through a dedicated website. This research falls under the SSHRC priority area Digital Economy. Knowledge gained through this project is expected to benefit the other newer “open” movements, including open education, open data and open government through the development of scenarios for transition that might be worth considering in these other areas.
This proposal builds on research developed for my 2012 doctoral dissertation, Freedom for scholarship in the internet age (Morrison, 2012) and published in First Monday (Morrison, 2013) that strongly suggest a potential for transitioning to a scholarly communication system that is more cost-effective than the current system as well as being fully open access.
The overarching objective is to understand how best to bring about the transition of published scholarly works to a knowledge commons. The knowledge commons is conceived of as a system where the world’s scholarly knowledge is available to everyone, everywhere, to draw from and contribute to, one that prioritizes the values and needs of scholars, scholarship, and the public good, and is open to all by default, with exceptions as necessary to accommodate other social values such as the right to individual privacy.
The specific objective of the proposed research is to address the question of how to transition the underlying economics of the system from a subscriptions / purchase model to one that funds works at the production stage. This research will develop a macro analysis of the economics of scholarly publishing that demonstrates the potential to transition the global spend of the world’s university libraries from support for subscriptions / publishing to support for open access production and to achieve significant cost savings at the same time. This issue was developed as part of my dissertation research (Morrison, 2012) and subsequently published in First Monday (Morrison, 2013).
The proposed research will make it possible to develop more accurate scenarios for the potential for overall transition of the scholarly publishing system by collecting and analyzing data on key components of the system: the current costs per article charged by existing open access publishers; the necessary future costs based on the actual resource needs of scholar-led publishers; and infrastructure costs for support services such as university library and university press journal hosting services. A more accurate economic analysis will assist university libraries with making the case to collaborate to transition support for scholarly publishing from subscriptions / purchase to support for production so that works can be open access.
The context section consists of several sub-sections, covering the history and present of scholarly publishing, the theoretical framework and major research to date on the three sub-projects.
Until the Second World War, scholarly societies published nearly all scholarly journals (Mabe, 2003, 2011). Journals were published in print and distributed to society members and subscribers, many of which were university libraries. After the Second World War, the commercial sector became involved in scholarly journal publishing, particularly in the area of science, technology and medicine (STM), areas of scholarship that the commercial sector in general had become interested in as technology was viewed as having the potential to open up new areas for commercial exploitation (Price, 1963). In the next few decades a “serials crisis” developed, as documented by the Association of Research Libraries (1989). Even the largest university libraries were no longer able to purchase all of the scholarly journals. Average journal prices increased at rates above inflation year after year. During the same period, scholarly monograph purchases by university libraries declined from about 3 – 5,000 copies per monograph to about 300 – 500 copies per monograph, causing a different kind of crisis in scholarly monograph publishing (Thompson, 2005). Brown (2007) describes a university press system in crisis.
This situation illustrates what I call irrational rationality (Morrison, 2012). Universities, through their libraries, fund a system where a small number of very large commercial publishers enjoy exceptional profits in the 30-40% range while in the same time frame they reduce or eliminate the modest subsidies traditionally provided to university presses. Every element of this system is rational. For-profit corporations are expected to return maximum profits to their shareholders. In tight financial times, it makes sense that universities cut services like university presses that serve the whole system but are not essential to their own operations. However, all of these rational elements add up to a system that funds extraordinary profits for a few scholarly publishers while threatening the existence of other scholarly publishers and even the careers of scholars who need to publish monographs and find it increasingly difficult to do so (Harley et al, 2010). The concept of irrational rationality builds on the intellectual tradition initiated by Weber (1968) in the nineteenth century, Lukács (1967) and Marcuse (1964) who articulated the difference between rationality based on values and goal-oriented or instrumental rationality. A real world society-wide example of this in modern society is the contrast between the common human value of having an ongoing ecosystem capable of sustaining a high quality of human life for ourselves and our children and our inaction on climate change, identified by the World Economic Forum (2013) as one of the ten top global trends for 2014.
Rather than analyze irrational rationality I propose a holistic or systemic approach. This is illustrated by my macro level analysis of the global spend on scholarly journal articles by university libraries (approximately $5.6 billion annually) and the global production of articles (approximately 1.5 million annually) (Morrison, 2013). In recent years the commons has emerged or re-emerged as one potential alternative. A number of scholars have written about the potential of information technologies to facilitate enclosure of intellectual property as an emerging stage of capitalism. In 1989, Mosco described this as the pay-per society in which emerges usage charges for things that used to be free or charged for on a blanket basis as having the potential to radically change society; Lessig (1999) makes similar arguments in Code: and other laws of cyberspace. Enzsenberger (1974) described the potential of new media to facilitate a new more democratic form of communication, while warning that social action would be necessary in order for the technology to fulfill this function. Ostrom’s (2000) groundbreaking Governing the commonseffectively debunks arguments against the impossibility of collaborative approaches such as Hardin’s notion of the “tragedy of the market” and provides substantive evidence of highly effective commons-based approaches. Heller (1998) warns about the tragedy of the anti-commons. Bollier (2007), Boyle (2003), Lessig (2004), Vaidhyanathan, and Hess & Ostrom (2007) discuss the enclosure movement and the potential of the commons in terms of culture, knowledge and information. Caffentzis (2012) focuses on the knowledge commons. In seeking alternatives it may be wise to consider the perspectives of other societies such as the first nations approach to intellectual property as articulated by Young-Ing (2006) and the idea of the gift in traditional societies as explicated by anthropologist Mauss (2002).
This research builds on macro analysis of the economics of scholarly publishing conducted by the International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers (STM) designed for the purpose of business planning for STM members (Ware & Mabe, 2012, 2009). The United Kingdom has been a leader in conducting in-depth economic analysis of the scholarly communication system at a national level. The Research Information Network (2008) released the report Activities, costs and funding flows in the scholarly communications system in the UK. Houghton and colleagues have conducted major macro-economic analysis of the potential for transition to an open access system at a national level. The most in-depth research, conducted in the UK, found that cost savings could be achieved with a full switch to open access by the UK for its own research with 3 different methods, with the smallest savings resulting from a full switch from subscriptions-based to open access publishing, greater savings with open access archiving, and the greatest potential savings through a more transformative approach, using open access archives with a peer review overlay (Houghton et al, 2009a, 2009b). This research also draws on global best estimates of the world’s scholarly peer-reviewed journal production (Björk et al, 2008, 2010).
The third project in the overall proposal deals with research on economic models for supporting open access, including Crow’s (2006) work on publishing cooperatives, and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition’s Income models for open access: an overview of current practice (Crow, 2009), and an overview of innovative models for support for open access focusing on collaborative support by libraries that I wrote as the literature review for a national survey on library and university press publishing (Taylor, Morrison, Owen, Vézina and Waller, 2013). One result of this survey was a finding that Canadian university libraries would be willing to support a number of different approaches to funding open access, with collaborative approaches being the one option that all libraries would support to some extent, and none would (a priori) oppose. Examples of collaborative models for support including the ongoing work of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to use library funding (similar to subscriptions) to build an endowment to fund ongoing open access for this scholar-led encyclopedia (Sanville, 2005). Another example: as of January 2014, the Sponsoring Consortium for Particle Physics Publishing (2014) is implementing a new fully open access publishing system for all articles in high energy physics, a remarkable accomplishment involving global cooperation among libraries and negotiations with all publishers involved in this area.
A key element for the macro analysis of the economics of scholarly publishing is the average cost per peer-reviewed journal article. Previous research indicates a wide range of actual costs, with Willinsky reporting a range from 0 to $20,000 per article (Willinsky, 2006). The low end of the range is made possible by the large percentage of work contributed by academics on a voluntary basis by scholars. Harvard’s Shieber (2012) explains how the high-impact peer-reviewed Journal of Machine Learning manages on $10 per article. My macro analysis (Morrison, 2013) illustrates the importance of this key element. If the average cost per article in an open access environment were $1,350 (the current cost per article for publishing in PLoS ONE), then libraries could fund a global system at one third the current global library spend. Even at an average cost of $2,000 – $3,000, substantial savings are possible. However, at an average of $5,000, the system would cost more than at present.
Edgar and Willinsky’s (2010) survey of over 900 journals using the open source software Open Journal Systems found an average spend of $188 per article. This suggests that in addition to prioritizing scholarship this “renaissance of scholar-led publishing” described by the authors might be a great deal more affordable than the current system as well. The proposed research builds on the work of Edgar and Willinsky, aiming for a more accurate costing taking into account such elements as the cost of universities’ hosting and support of journals, as well as whether these new journals have factored in the necessary resources for sustainable open access publishing in the long term. For example, do these journals reporting such low costs have all of the resources needed to sustain their journals in the long term, or is there an over-reliance on volunteer labour with the potential for burn-out? If this is the case, what resources could be provided (copyediting, teaching relief, technical support and training, etc.) that would prevent this from happening? Currently I am conducting preliminary interviews designed to develop one or more focus groups and survey research and several interviewees to date have expressed their perspective that this research is very much needed.
This project draws on existing and emerging research on costs of the production of scholarly journal articles, including a major report conducted by the Wellcome Trust (2004) on the cost of open access journals, a body of research based on print journals relying on subscriptions as reported by Tenopir & King (1998), and the data gathered by the Sherpa RoMEO service on publisher open access article processing charges (based on publisher self-reported average prices and with an emphasis on UK-based publishers and the commercial sector). This project will supplement and extend existing knowledge about costs of producing scholarly journals articles through sampling open access article processing fees of journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, a broader and more international set than that included in the Sherpa RoMEO list, and by triangulating data from interviews, focus groups, surveys of scholarly publishers and infrastructure costs from case studies of university hosting and support services to develop a more accurate range of scholarly journal production costs.
A mixed methods approach is used because the macro level analysis of the potential for economic transition to support open access publishing requires several different types of variables.
Open Access Article Processing Charges
The Directory of Open Access Journals is a vetted list of about 10 thousand fully open access (articles freely available on publication) peer-reviewed journals. About a quarter of these journals charge article processing fees, with a small percentage charging article processing fees on a conditional basis (about two-thirds do not charge article processing fees). DOAJ notes whether journals charge article processing fees and provides a URL to look up information, but does not list the amount. A copy of the DOAJ list of journals charging article processing fees was made in November 2013 and the process of looking up the amounts was initiated in December 2013. Preliminary results indicate a skewed distribution with most of these journals published by relatively large publishers (20 or more journals charging article processing fees) or very small publishers (1 to 3 journals, with 1 being the most frequent number of journals). A stratified random sampling method is used to ensure that a selection of journals from large, medium and small publishers is included. Preliminary analysis indicates a much more complex situation than anticipated. While some journals have a straightforward article processing fee, a large portion have variable fees depending on such variables as location of author, membership in a society and article length. There is a wide range of article processing fees, from about $20 US per article to $5,000 per article. The purposes of this portion of the overall project are to capture another set of data for comparative purposes, a step which is advisable as some charges may change (e.g. one publisher, providing a complete set of article processing fees, advised that some of the journals’ charges might be changed the following month, and one rationale for this research is to track the possibility of the commercial sector raising prices at rates above inflation as happened with subscriptions), and to complete the in-depth analysis of existing charges. Examples of questions to be explored include whether some of the journals listed as charging article processing fees are actually producing both print and online open access journals, with traditional page charges for the print version and no open access article processing fee. Preliminary analysis suggests that this is the case for at least some of the journals.
Resource Requirements for Small Scholar-Led Journals in an Open Access Environment
This project builds on preliminary research in the form of informal interviews with editors of small scholarly journals currently underway. Responses to date for a call for participation sent to select scholarly publishers’ and open access listservs (Canadian Association of Learned Journals, Scholarly for Scholarly Publishers, Global Open Access List) indicate a keen interest among publishers in the results of this research. Inductive methodology will be used to develop one or more focus groups with publishers from the qualitative results of this research, to be held in conjunction with the annual general meetings / conferences of the publishers’ associations, and an online survey to be sent to stratified samples of open access and non-open-access scholar-led journals (i.e. scholarly society and independent scholar-led journals).
Infrastructure costs estimate
3-4 case studies of library publishing services will be conducted, representing different types and sizes of library journal hosting services. For example, the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) provides a collaborative journal hosting service for member libraries, while many other university libraries in Canada and elsewhere offer services targeted to their individual faculty members. An attempt will be made to include at least one larger centralized service and one individual institutional service, as well as organizations offering a slightly different package of services.
Macro analysis of costs for a global shift to open access
Results of these three research projects, in addition to other relevant information gleaned through an ongoing review of the scholarly literature and monitoring of related initiatives, such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Councils’ Aid to Scholarly Journals Program and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries’ open access group, will be used to develop cost projections for a global shift to open access based on the range of needed costs uncovered in the study.

Dryad, Executive Director

“Dryad seeks an energetic and enthusiastic Executive Director, ideally with experience in scientific or biomedical research, librarianship, or publishing, to oversee development and operation of the organisation during a period of rapid growth and transformation. The role reports to the Board of Directors. Externally, the postholder will be responsible for building relationships with stakeholders, customers and users of the Dryad Digital Repository. Internally, key responsibilities include organisational leadership and ensuring Dryad meets its objectives through sound financial management and oversight Dryad meets its objectives through sound financial management and oversight of day-to-day operations, with the support of a small but growing staff. The Dryad Digital Repository is a curated resource that makes the data underlying scientific publications discoverable, freely reusable, and citable. Dryad provides a general-purpose home for a wide diversity of data types. Dryad is governed by a nonprofit membership organization and operates from a base in Durham, North Carolina. Membership is open to any stakeholder organization, including but not limited to journals, scientific societies, publishers, research institutions, libraries, and funding organizations.”

PLOS ONE Publishes its 100,000th Article

PLOS ONE publishes its 100,000th article – a pretty major milestone for a journal that has seen its fair share of momentous events, and a perfect opportunity to reflect on this journey.

 PLOS ONE began seven and a half years ago. On the day of its launch – as has become the legend in the PLOS offices – there was an earthquake in the Bay Area, heralding the tremors that would be felt through the science world as a result of the disruptive innovation underway. PLOS ONE was an aspirational idea for PLOS from the very beginning: our founders always intended to launch a multi-disciplinary, broad-acceptance journal that would shake off the vestiges of the print tradition – no limits to the scope of research, number of pages, or potential growth.

And grow it did. After two years PLOS ONE had published over 4,000 articles, by four years it was the largest journal in the world, and now seven years after launch has published 100,000 articles. The revolutionary model of PLOS ONE has been emulated the world over: virtually every publisher now has its own equivalent “megajournal.”

PLOS ONE is now a major force in the scientific literature. The top 2% PLOS ONE papers (by number of views) have been collectively viewed nearly 39 million times, cited on Scopus over 80,000 times, bookmarked by Mendeley readers over 150,000 times, tweeted over 59,000 times, cited 2,800 times on Wikipedia, and recommended over 300 times on F1000 Prime.

The enduring value of PLOS ONE to the scientific process lies in the solid union between the three following factors: speed to publication, high standards of science, and unrestricted scope of research.

Speed to publication:

Faster time to publication was the founding principle of PLOS ONE. It doesn’t just entail going from submission to publication more quickly (although that is also important). It means dramatically reducing the time from an author’s decision to publish their findings to the time those results appear in public. That time is often years in the old system of review, where subjective opinions of significance and scope lead to unnecessary rejections and resubmission to different journals. With PLOS ONE, where scientific rigor alone is assessed, this time window shortens to a few months.

High standards:

PLOS ONE instituted rigorous standards from the start. As the volume exponentially increased and the quality of the submissions became more variable, these checks became more important and more rigorous. For every paper the journal staff (over 100 strong, including 14 editors) now check each of the following before a manuscript is sent for review:

  • Competing interests
  • Financial disclosures
  • Quality of English language
  • Ethical approval for animal experiments
  • IRB approval for human experiments
  • Protocols and CONSORT for clinical trials
  • PRISMA for systematic reviews and meta-analyses
  • Cell line provenance
  • Field sample provenance
  • Humane endpoints in animal studies
  • Data availability
  • Plagiarism

The care that we take in reporting and oversight is rooted in PLOS’ commitment to this editorial responsibility.

Because of these checks, every PLOS ONE citation on a researcher’s CV shows that their work has reached high standards of reporting and oversight – something that matters a great deal to funders and institutions as the need for reproducibility becomes increasingly a part of their overall mission. This is an area where we feel journals can take a lead: high standards of reporting are the best way for the scientific community to regain the trust of the public and politicians in the wake of the recent spate of failures in replicating high-profile discoveries.

Unrestricted scope:

So many of the delays in sharing results are a result of journals putting unnecessary restrictions on the scope of the research they are willing to publish. Journals often withhold the release of negative findings because they are likely to be cited less, and will therefore lower their impact factor. Or they exclude papers purely due to the application of disciplinary boundaries. In this digital age, with no space restrictions on what can be published, such artificial limits only impede the flow of information. At PLOS ONE, we have thrown out these notions and will consider vital research across all subject areas (even seemingly strange and multi-disciplinary).

A heartfelt 100k thank you

The impact of PLOS ONE on scientific publishing has been tremendous and revolutionary. The world of scientific communication is a different place because of it, and that is something PLOS and its entire community of collaborators should be proud of.

The extraordinary PLOS ONE Editorial Board, reviewers and authors – who believed in the PLOS mission to accelerate research communication and gave their own time to review, edit and revise manuscripts – were critical to this transformation and share in this milestone. To each and every one of them PLOS ONE is eternally grateful.

So here’s to the 100,000th PLOS ONE article. Though thrilled to have reached this milestone, we are even more excited to see where the next 100,000 will lead.

The post PLOS ONE Publishes its 100,000th Article appeared first on EveryONE.

Kudos to five outstanding mathematicians, especially Terence Tao.

“From today’s NYTimes: “The…winners of the [$3 million Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics] are [Maxim Kontsevich, 49, of the Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies outside Paris;] Simon Donaldson, 56, of Stony Brook University on Long Island and Imperial College London; Jacob Lurie, 36, of Harvard; Terence Tao, 38, of the University of California, Los Angeles; and Richard Taylor, 52, of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J….Dr. Tao said [Yuri Milner, who funds the Breakthrough Prize with Mark Zukerberg] came to his office at U.C.L.A. in January. Mr. Milner had already announced that he would establish the math prizes, and Dr. Tao thought Mr. Milner wanted advice on whom they should go to. Instead, Mr. Milner told him one prize was going to him. Dr. Tao tried to talk Mr. Milner out of it, and suggested that more prizes of smaller amounts might be more effective in supporting mathematics. “The size of the award, I think it’s ridiculous,” he said. “I didn’t feel I was the most qualified for this prize.” …Dr. Tao said he might use some of the prize money to help set up open-access mathematics journals, which would be available free to anyone, or for large-scale collaborative online efforts to solve important problems.”
Comment. Kudos to all five for their important work. Kudos especially to Tao for how he plans to spend some of his prize money. 

Non-profit society publishers like to say that they put their revenue back into the scholarly mission of the society, including its journals, rather than pay it out as dividends to shareholders. That’s true. Tao’s plan would leverage part of his award money in the same cause to a greater degree. Here’s what I mean. Some society revenue goes to conferences and administrative salaries, not to journals. Some society journals are non-OA and some are OA, that is, some society revenue is spent to erect access barriers and some to remove access barriers. If Tao carries out his plan, he’d support OA journals rather than non-OA journals. He’d support OA journals directly, without supporting entire societies to subsume them. Finally, instead of recycling academic funds for the benefit of academics, which societies do at their best, he’d redirect non-academic investment dividends for the benefit of academics. Mathematicians have a word for this. The word is elegant.” …”

The Price of Big Science: Saturation or Abundance in Scientifc Publishing?

Abstract:  Science policymaking is facing a rapidly changing landscape. Rapid growth and globalization of science are complicated by the proliferation of venues for publications, which continue to grow in number at an exponential rate. The growth rate is nullifying the hypothesis about its trajectory put forth by Derek de Solla Price (1961 and 1963); he suggested that science would reach a saturation point. In fact, the current system is proliferating, not just in numbers of published articles but also in the geographic location where knowledge is produced and in the types of venues for output (such as open source). The knowledge production system shares features with complex systems, so we propose a complex systems model to test the hypothesis. The model is designed along a stock and flow relationship between knowledge creation and obsolescence that tracks closely with actual numbers. The model further suggests that the publication system will continue to see exponential growth, and with this, may have experienced a phase shift from operating under conditions of scarcity to one of abundance. Abundant systems are characterized by openness, collaboration, and sharing—all features seen in contemporary science. Policymakers may need to shift policy toward scanning and integrating abundant knowledge to account for its proliferation and distribution across the growing knowledge landscape.?

National Data Service

“The National Data Service is an emerging vision of how scientists and researchers across all disciplines can find, reuse, and publish data. It is an international federation of data providers, data aggregators, community-specific federations, publishers, and cyberinfrastructure providers. It builds on the data archiving and sharing efforts under way within specific communities and links them together with a common set of tools….”

Materials Data Facility launched in support of Materials Genome Initiative | National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois

“The National Data Service Consortium is launching a materials data facility for the advancement of materials science research through open data access and sharing.

On the third anniversary of President Barack Obama establishing the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI)—a multi-agency effort to transform materials science research in the United States through a national infrastructure—a consortium of research universities, national laboratories, and academic publishers announced the Materials Data Facility today.
This new facility is being established as a pilot program under the National Data Service (NDS) and will provide a repository where scientists can preserve and share materials research data, produced by both simulations and experiments.

NDS is a new emerging vision for a national data infrastructure that enables the discovery, reuse, and publication of data for scientists and researchers across all disciplines. Sharing in this vision, the Materials Data Facility will push the MGI’s goals of doubling the pace of development of advanced materials research….” • View topic – Open Source Revolution is Coming and it Will Conquer the 1%

” … Steele started off as a Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer. After four years on active duty, he joined the CIA for about a decade before co-founding the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, where he was deputy director. Widely recognised as the leader of the Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) paradigm, Steele went on to write the handbooks on OSINT for NATO, the US Defense Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Special Operations Forces. In passing, he personally trained 7,500 officers from over 66 countries.

In 1992, despite opposition from the CIA, he obtained Marine Corps permission to organise a landmark international conference on open source intelligence – the paradigm of deriving information to support policy decisions not through secret activities, but from open public sources available to all. The conference was such a success it brought in over 620 attendees from the intelligence world … Last month, Steele presented a startling paper at the Libtech conference in New York, sponsored by the Internet Society and Reclaim. Drawing on principles set out in his latest book, The Open-Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth and Trust, he told the audience that all the major preconditions for revolution – set out in his 1976 graduate thesis – were now present in the United States and Britain.  Steele’s book is a must-read, a powerful yet still pragmatic roadmap to a new civilisational paradigm that simultaneously offers a trenchant, unrelenting critique of the prevailing global order. His interdisciplinary ‘whole systems’ approach dramatically connects up the increasing corruption, inefficiency and unaccountability of the intelligence system and its political and financial masters with escalating inequalities and environmental crises. But he also offers a comprehensive vision of hope that activist networks like Reclaim are implementing today … 

Elsevier’s 50-day tease. From +Elsevier: “The new Share Link service…allows…

“From +Elsevier: “The new Share Link service…allows authors and their network to access their final published articles on ScienceDirect for free for a 50-day period.”
Comment. OA is better. It’s not limited to 50 days. You can get OA by publishing your work in an OA journal (“gold OA”) or by publishing in a non-OA journal, including an Elsevier journal, and depositing a copy of your peer-reviewed manuscript in an OA repository (“green OA”). If you haven’t done this before, here’s how. 
Note one of Elsevier’s arguments for its new offer: “Researchers who publish in academic journals understand the necessity to expose their papers to the widest audience possible.” That’s true. But it’s an argument for real OA, not a 50-day tease. A more precise formulation makes Elsevier’s true statement false: “Researchers who publish in academic journals understand the necessity to expose their papers to the widest audience possible for 50 days, and then keep them locked behind a paywall.” 
Another Elsevier argument for the new offer: “The new Share Link service makes it easy for authors to share their articles so they can get more exposure and more citations.” That’s also true. But it’s also an argument for real OA, not a 50-day tease. If you really want more exposure and citations, do you want to stop with a 50-day window onto a global audience, or do you want an ongoing global audience?
Elsevier is right that 50 days of free online access is better than no free online access. But watch it try to make that case without making the case for full-bore OA.”

To Make Open Access Work, We Need to Do More Than Liberate Journal Articles | Opinion | WIRED

“[A] truly successful academic open-access system will have to be based not just on ethics … but on the narcissism of the professoriate. There have to be rewards for publicly disseminating good and useful work, in addition to shame for walling off one’s writing….”

What’s the priority of open access for the IEEE Computer Society? Thomas M.…

“Thomas M. Conte and Roger U. Fujii are running to be the next president of the IEEE Computer Society. In their campaign statements, Conte makes OA a priority and Fujii is silent on the subject.
“From Conte: “As Vice President of Publications for the last two terms, I have strived to make all Computer Society publications Open Access: freely available to everyone around the world. Meanwhile, I reject the idea that Open Access somehow means we must compromise the quality of our publications. IEEE leadership tells us that this future is “scary” —publication subscriptions funding IEEE headquarters will go away. I do not think that’s scary at all. Rather, the IEEE’s bureaucracy must shrink accordingly.” …”

Publishers Lunch Job Board: Marketing Coordinator Open Access

“The Marketing Specialist is a unique and pivotal role within the marketing team at BioMed Central (BMC) which will build brand awareness for BMC across the Americas and meeting aggressive submission targets in the U.S. and Brazil for 2014. The Marketing Specialist will report to the Marketing Director and will work closely with the Editorial Director….”

Is this a scam or a new low for Elsevier?

I got the following mail today. I genuinely don’t know whether it’s a scam or an unacceptable spam from Elsevier:

Measurement <>

9:54 AM (18 minutes ago)

Dear Dr. Peter Murray-Rust,
You have received this system-generated message because you have been registered by an Editor for the Elsevier Editorial System (EES) – the online submission and peer review tracking system for Measurement.

Here is your username and confidential password, which you will need to access EES at
Your username is: REDACTED
Your password is: REDACTED

The first time you log into this new account, you will be guided through the process of creating a consolidated ‘parent’ profile to which you can link all your EES accounts.

If you have already created a consolidated profile, please use the username and password above to log into this site. You will then be guided through an easy process to add this new account to your existing consolidated profile.

Once you have logged in, you can always view or change your password and other personal information by selecting the “change details” option on the menu bar at the top of the page. Here you can also opt-out for marketing e-mails, in case you do not wish to receive news, promotions and special offers about our products and services.

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I went to the sites and although they had Elsevier logos they were of low quality and didn’t have the normal branding that is so beloved of Elsevier.
So I think it’s a scam with fake emails and URLs.
But if it isn’t, then it’s appalling. To take me and my email into a company system, add me to the system without my permission is appalling. If it turns out to be Elsevier I shall write to David Willetts, MP.
And of course they are wasting their time as I have publicly committed to have nothing to do with helping Elsevier.

Content Mining hackday in Edinburgh; we solve Scraping


[P Murray-Rust, CC  0]
We had our hack day in Edinburgh yesterday on content mining.
First, massive thanks to:
  • Mark MacGillivray for organising the event in Informatics Forum
  • Informatic Forum for being organised
  • Claire and Ianthe from Edinburgh library for sparkle and massive contributions to content mining
  • PT (Sefton) for organising material for the publishing and forbearance when it got squezzed in the program
  • Richard Smith-Unna who took time off holiday to develop his quickscrape code.
  • CottageLabs in person and remotely
  • CameronNeylon and PLoS for Grub/Tucker etc.
  • and everyone who attended
Several participants tweeted that they enjoyed it
Claire Knowles @cgknowles Thanks to @ptsefton for inviting us and @petermurrayrust for a fun day hacking #dinosaur data with @kimshepherd@ianthe88 & @cottagelabs
So now it’s official – content mining is fun!. You’ll remember we were going to
  • SCRAPE material from PLOS (and other Open) articles. And some of these are FUN! They’re about DINOSAURS!!
  • EXTRACT the information. Which papers talk about DINOSAURS? Do they have pictures?
  • REPUBLISH as a book. Make your OWN E-BOOK with Pictures of DINOSAURS with their FULL LATIN NAMES!!

About 15 people passed through and Richard Smith-Unna and Ross Mounce were online. Like all hackdays it had its own dynamics and I was really excited by the end. We had lots of discussion, several small groups crystallised and we also covered molecular dynamics. We probably didn’t do full justice to PT’s republishing technology, that’s how it goes. But we cam up with graphica art for DINOSAUR games!

We made huge progress on the overall architecture (see image) and particularly  on  SCRAPING. Ross had provided us with 15 sets of URLs from different publishers, all relating to Open DINOSAURS.


APP-dinosaur-DOIs.txt APP CC-BY articles, there are more that are free access but I have on… 4 days ago
BioMedCentral-dinosaur-articlelinks.txt BMC article links NOT DOI’s, filtered out ‘free’ but not CC BY articles 4 days ago
Dinosauria_valid_genera.csv List of valid genera in Dinosauria downloaded from PaleoDB. It includ… 4 days ago
Elsevier-CCBY-dinosaur-DOIs.txt 3 Elsevier CC BY articles 4 days ago
FrontiersIn-dinosaur-35articlelinks.txt FrontiersIn 4 days ago
Hindawi-dinosaur-DOIs.txt Pensoft & Hindawi 4 days ago
JournalofGeographyandGeology_DOI.txt Koedoe-DOI.txt PDF scan but CC BY from 1986 2 days ago
MDPI-dinosaur-DOI.txt MDPI one article 4 days ago Added one Evolution (Wiley) article 4 days ago
RoyalSocietyOA-dinosaur-DOIs.txt just one 4 days ago
SAJournalofScience-DOI.txt 1 CC BY article on African dinosaurs 2 days ago
SATNT-DOI.txt 1 CC-BY article in Afrikaans 2 days ago
Wiley-CCBY-dinosaurs.txt Added one Evolution (Wiley) article 4 days ago
peerj-dinosaur-DOIs.txt 8 PeerJ article DOIs 4 days ago
pensoft-dinosaur-DOIs.txt Pensoft & Hindawi 4 days ago
plos-biology-dinosaurs-DOIs.txt 20 PLOS Biology 4 days ago
plos-one-dinosaur-DOIs.txt first commit 4 days ago
Hard work, and we hope to automate it through CRAWLING, but that’s another day. So could we scrape files from these. Remember they are all Open so we don’t even have to invoke the mighty power of Hargreaves yet . However the technology is the same whether it’s Open or paywalled-and-readable-because-Cambridge-pays-lots-of-money.
We need a different scraper for each publisher (although sometimes a generic one works).  Richard Smith-Unna has created the quickscrape platform In this you have to create a *.json for each publisher (or even journal).
The first thing is to install quick scrape. Node.js, like java, is a WORA write-once-run-anywhere (parodied as WODE write-once-debug-everywhere). RSU has put a huge amount of effort into this so that most people installed it OK, but a few had problems. This isn’t RSU’s fault, it’s a feature of dependencies in any modern language – versions and platforms and libraries. Thanks to all yesterday’s hackers for being patient and for RSU breaking his holidy to support them. (Note – we haven’t quite hacked Windows yet, but we will). For non-hacker worksops – i.e. where we don’t expect so many technical computer experts we have a generic approach to distribs.
Then you have to decide WHAT can be scraped. This varies from whole articles  (e.g. HTML) to images (PNG) to snippets of text (e.g. licences) What really excited and delighted me was how quickly the group understood what to do and then went about it without any problems. The first task was to list all the scrapable material and we used a GoogleSpreadsheet for this. It’s not secret (quite the reverse) but I’m just checking permissions and other technicalities before we release the URL with world access.
You’ll see (just) that we have 15 publishers and about 20 attributes. Who did it? which scraper (note with pleasure that RSU’s generic scraper was pretty good!). Did it work? If not this means customsing the scraper. 9.5/15 is wonderful at this stage.
The great thing is that we have built the development architecture. If I have the Journal of Irreproducible Dinosaurs then I can write a scraper. And if I can’t it will get mailed out to the Content Mine communiaty and they/we’ll solve it.  So fairly shortly we’ll have a spreadsheet showing how we can scrape all the journals we want. In many instances (e.g. BioMedCentral) all the journals (ca 250) use the same tecnology so one-scraper-fits-all.
If YOU have a favourite journal and can hack a bit of Xpath/HTML then we’ll be telling you how you can tackle it and add to the spreadsheet. For the moment just leave a comment on this blog.