Open Access | Scholarly Communication |Academic Journals | Research
To democratise scholarly publishing, individual academics need to take action
by Jason Schmitt |
‘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
Academic and scientific research needs to be accessible to all. The world’s most pressing problems like clean water or food security deserve to have as many people as possible solving their complexities. Yet our current academic research system has no interest in harnessing our collective intelligence. Scientific progress is currently thwarted by one thing: paywalls.
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…
Leadership | Continuing Education | Professional Development | Influencers
by Steven Bell | Mar 20, 2019 | Filed in Opinion
If leadership is mostly learned rather than an innate ability, then continuous learning is a vital contributor to leadership growth. “Never stop learning” is good advice, but it is one of those tasks that’s easier said than done.
This column is predicated on the idea that no library leader is fully formed, possessing all the skills required for success. Rather, the path to leadership is one of continuous learning. I routinely see library literature and social media posts about low library worker morale and toxic leaders, leading me to question how it is that our profession has so many awful leaders. We have an abundance of leadership development programs. Many academic institutions have internal management and leadership programs. There is no dearth of opportunities to develop and improve as a leader. Possible causes for this failure are many, from library leaders simply not giving a damn to a total absence of self-awareness. For those leaders who do care about staff morale and strive for a workplace where staff want to be, constant learning is a must. So allow me to share some ideas that I’ve recently come across for making a stronger commitment to learning to be a better leader. Read more…
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 […]
It’s always a good time to think about the future, but somehow the beginning of the year seems an especially appropriate time. With the changes afoot in scholarly communication practices, sentiment, and business models, this couldn’t be a better time to consider what the target might look like. What are we all aiming for?
For the moment, let’s put business models aside and think about the form and flow of research and discovery. Is the article (pre- or post-publication), book, journal, etc — our current containers — and the byproducts that surround them the best we can do?
This month we asked the Chefs: What form might scholarly communications take in the future?
Joe Esposito: As Bill Clinton said, It all depends on what the meaning of “is” is. What do we mean by “the article”? If the article is a report on a specific research topic, then the article will be with us for a long time, as (barring witchcraft) we will always have research and a need to communicate results. The article will differ from what we mostly see today in that it will be integrated into a broad suite of services, from discovery to analytics, as the act of publication will be the equivalent of plugging into a network; the principal audience will be machines. From such small contributions great things will come. The standards for plugging in will be proprietary, as the not-for-profit sector cannot compete with the narrowly focused aims of someone bent on making money. There will be at most 2-3 such networks of information in every broad discipline, and perhaps only 2-3 overall. The key policy question of this future will not be access but antitrust. Silicon Valley witticism: A standard is a good thing; everybody should have one. Read more…
Today we consume five times more information every day than we did in 1986, an incredible amount that’s equivalent to a 174 newspapers…a day. That probably includes a lot of Instagram posts, but it’s not only social media. The corporate e-learning space has grown by nine times over the last 16 years, such that almost 80% of U.S. companies offer online training for their employees, making more information accessible to them than ever before.
One would think that this would translate into increased knowledge. Yet, unfortunately, this does not appear to be the case. Scores of average American adults on tests of general civic knowledge — the type of information you’d assume people would pick up from scanning through all this information — has remained almost constant for the last 80 years. On the corporate side, working professionals apply only about 15% of what they learn in many corporate training and development programs in many cases.
We’re consuming more information but not learning more. In short, we have become less productive learners. Read more…
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…