Paywalls block scientific progress. Research should be open to everyone

Open Access | Scholarly Communication |Academic Journals | Research

To democratise scholarly publishing, individual academics need to take action
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‘It’s a case of either giving broad society access to scientific advances or allowing these breakthroughs to stay locked away for financial gain.’ Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Paywalls, which restrict access to content without a paid subscription, represent a common practice used by academic publishers to block access to scientific research for those who have not paid. This keeps £19.6bn flowing from higher education and science into for-profit publisher bank accounts. My recent documentary, Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, uncovered that the largest academic publisher, Elsevier, regularly has a profit margin between 35-40%, which is greater than Google’s. With financial capacity comes power, lobbyists, and the ability to manipulate markets for strategic advantages – things that underfunded universities and libraries in poorer countries do not have.

Furthermore, university librarians are regularly required to sign non-disclosure agreements on their contract-pricing specifics with the largest for-profit publishers. Each contract is tailored specifically to that university based upon a variety of factors: history, endowment, current enrollment. This thwarts any collective discussion around price structures, and gives publishers all the power. Read more…

 

 

 

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Paywall:L The Business of Scholarship (CC BY 4.0)

Open Access | Paywall | Academic Libraries | Scholarly Communication Jason Schmitt Published on Sep 5, 2018 Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, produced by Jason Schmitt, provides focus on the need for open access to research and science, questions the rationale behind the $25.2 billion a year that flows into for-profit academic publishers, examines the […]

You’re a Researcher Without a Library: What Do You Do?

Research | Reference | Libraries | Open Access

by Jake Orlowitz | Nov 15, 2017 | Medium

Investigating solutions for frustrated scholars, nonprofits, independent learners, and the rest of us.

The world of publishing is evolving frantically, while it remains frustratingly fragmented and prohibitively expensive for many. If you’re a student who just left your academic library behind only to discover you are now locked out of the stacks; a startup researching water usage in Africa and keep hitting paywalls; a local nonprofit that studies social change activism, but all the latest papers cost $30 per read… This article is for you. Read more…

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Personal archiving : preserving our digital heritage Ed. Donald T. Hawkins | review

Personal archives | Digital preservation | Electronic records managment

Reviewer: Stephanie L. Gross, MSLIS


Personal archiving : preserving our digital heritagePersonal archiving : preserving our digital heritage by Donald T. Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reviewer bio:

I am an academic librarian whose primary responsibility is to oversee the electronic reserves component of Springshare LibGuides. Recently I was appointed to serve on the task group to explore, report and advice the establishment of an institutional repository at my university. Having already read much literature concerning IR, I have begun widening my reading to include material that examines IR and its various components from a variety of viewpoints, academic, technical and personal.

Review:

This book is an anthology created by specialists in libraries, archives and technology. It is a rich, yet succinct, volume compiled as a primer for lay individuals who are involved in archiving personal material. Much of the focus is on preserving, organizing and sharing memorabilia. However, true to expectation, an equal emphasis is given to the preservation of digital files from various formats. Some attention is devoted to records management, although that is from a more introductory, philosophical perspective. What I believe to be the strength of this work is its practical advice to both lay and professionals alike. It is specific and technical enough to satisfy academic librarians who are not trained as archivists. Often we are tasked with aiding and guiding library users (students and faculty) in the preservation of their personal data. Those who are interested in understanding specific aspects of establishing and maintaining an institutional repository, including the compilation and promotion of best practices will certainly need to research further. However, this handbook does indeed list and annotate various resources (e.g. Library of Congress, Internet Archives) which is extremely helpful. There are two chapters dedicated to the preservation of email from faculty, scholars and researchers. Much is made of the chronic conundrum of “store and ignore”, benign negligence, concerning the backing up of files and precious data. The mandate to keep up with current technology, upgrading equipment and the appropriate hardware and software is underscored. (A pitch for able institutions to take on this responsibility is made, especially regarding work by scholars and communities.) Budgeting is given sufficient space to gain an appreciation of the magnitude of the demands on resources, both monetary and human. The final chapters look into the future, including intelligent discussions and projections relating to issues of ownership, copyright and social media. Although various software firms and websites are mentioned by name and have already disappeared by the time of this writing, their absence does not diminish the usefulness of their mention. The principles and philosophy of the services remain valid into the present.

Recommended audience:

Public libraries, academic libraries, special libraries, archives, museums

Recommended added subject heading:

Institutional repositories.
Digital libraries.

View all my reviews

BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google by John Palfrey [review]

Libraries | Advocacy | Digitization | Data preservation | Book review

Reviewed by Stephanie L. Gross, MSLIS

BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of GoogleBiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google by John Palfrey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reviewer bio:
I am an academic librarian whose main responsibility has been to establish and maintain a large database for electronic reserves. I have a solid background in public service, and have mentored library school students and recent graduates for over 10 years. I am conversant in issues relating to access and technology relating to digitization of materials as well as those born-digitally. Since I follow library news on a daily basis, I read this book more as a review of the known, while noting sources for future use. Most of those concerned digitization of material and aspects relating to institutional repositories. A second focus was based on a new work responsibility, that of personal librarian to undergraduate honors students.

Review:
This volume was written by a “feral” librarian with a law degree. It included the major areas where and how libraries are ever-relevant today: users, spaces, platforms, hacking, networks, preservation, education and copyright. Noteworthy highlights for me were the discussions of how some librarians and advocates are reinventing libraries while acknowledging their tradition roles in democratic society. Public, academic, school and special libraries were included. The ‘hybrid-ness’ of libraries is emphasized, along with the innovative factor of digitization of a variety of materials. Risks are involved when print is not saved to backup data. “Data rot” happens when technology fails, but also when newer forms outpace older, obsolete ones. Budgets are stretched to accommodate both digital and analog materials. The author calls for the ‘collaboration’ among librarians, the establishment of library networks, consortia, and private as well as public funding. The conundrum of copyright, data rights and collection policies was briefly examined.

Additional Subject headings might include:

Digital libraries
Web archiving
Digital preservation
Archival materials – Digitization
Library materials — Digitization
View all my reviews

Emerging Trends in Libraries for 2016 Stephen Abram, MLS

On the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attack dissenting voices must be protected

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Reaffirming our commitment to protecting free expression

On the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, PEN International has issued a statement aimed at encouraging governments to protect critical voices and freedom of expression.

IFLA and dozens of other free-speech organisations, institutes, and associations have added their signature to the statement in support of the crucial principles outlined and addressed.

The statement calls on all Governments to:

  • Uphold their international obligations to protect the rights of freedom of expression and information for all, and especially for journalists, writers, artists and human rights defenders to publish, write and speak freely;
  • Promote a safe and enabling environment for those who exercise their right to freedom of expression, and ensure that journalists, artists and human rights defenders may perform their work without interference;
  • Combat impunity for threats and violations aimed at journalists and others exercising their right to freedom of expression, and ensure impartial, timely and thorough investigations that bring the executors and masterminds behind such crimes to justice. Also ensure victims and their families have expedient access to appropriate remedies;
  • Repeal legislation which restricts the right to legitimate freedom of expression, especially vague and overbroad national security, sedition, obscenity, blasphemy and criminal defamation laws, and other legislation used to imprison, harass and silence critical voices, including on social media and online;
  • Ensure that respect for human rights is at the heart of communication surveillance policy. Laws and legal standards governing communication surveillance must therefore be updated, strengthened and brought under legislative and judicial control. Any interference can only be justified if it is clearly defined by law, pursues a legitimate aim and is strictly necessary to the aim pursued.

Read the full statement: English | français