Recently in Scholarly Communication Category

Article in the Chronicle examines the triumph and pitfalls of open access publishing. They also highlight an open source software that some libraries and institutional repositories are implementing to help faculty publish their society journals in an open and cost-effective way. Read more about Open Journal System.

Open-Access Journals Break Barriers to Academic Freedom
For scholars around the world, online open-access publishing--in the right hands--has the potential to provide a "Gutenberg moment."

An agreement between the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication and the American Physical Society (APS) was announced in April that would "facilitate faculty compliance with the University's open access policies when Harvard faculty members publish in the APS journals, comprising Physical Review, Physical Review Letters, and Reviews of Modern Physics" according to a joint press release.

Therefore APS acknowledges the open access license and allows all Harvard authors the right to post the published version of their article online or in the university's institutional repository without additional permission from APS.

If you are interested in posting your APS article to the UMN's digital conservancy, please let me know. The UMN libraries have our very own University Digital Conservancy where any UMN affiliate may deposit their peer-reviewed article with proper consent from the publisher. Doing so will make your work more visible in search engines like Google and Google Scholar and also allow anyone to download and read the official version for free.

Take a look at the UDC guidelines here.

A list of "green" publishers that have also agreed to allow published pdf's be made open access is available on the Sci-Eng library's web page for publishing. These include APS, AIP, AAS, and IEEE.

Publishing Contracts Workshop

"Case studies in publishing: Your choices in journal contracts"

In this 1-hour workshop, designated by OVPR to satisfy the
Awareness/Discussion component of the RCR continuing education
requirement, participants will work through two common decision points
raised by journal article contracts. Relevant context will be provided
on academic publishing issues such as copyright and author's rights,
cultural and economic norms, and promotion & tenure implications.
Practical strategies and helpful tools will be discussed.

Offered at

  • 3:30pm, May 13 in Walter Library First Floor, and
  • 9:00am, May 26 in Bio-Medical Library, Room 555.

Register at

A Copyright Story


In celebration of April 23rd, the 14th World Book and Copyright Day, proclaimed by UNESCO I wanted to share a copyright success story.

I was accepted for publication earlier this month in a journal owned by T&F. The "Transfer of Copyright Agreement" they sent was not great. It significantly limited my rights, namely it withheld:

  • the non-exclusive right to use, reproduce, distribute, and make derivative works of the article in all areas of my profession (not just teaching)
  • the ability to legally contribute this work, or some preprint form of it, to my university's institutional repository after an embargo period of 6-months (or other negotiable time period).

My first step was to send them the UMN's author addendum (pdf). This is a document approved by the CIC and provided by each of the big 10 universities that reclaims some of the copyrights I mention above. Read more at the library's scholarly communications page.

Rather than accepting the addendum, as other publishers have reportedly done, they sent me a second, secret copyright agreement that they "don't like to give out."

The appropriately named "Author or Company Owned Copyright Transfer" is an agreement that allows the publisher to use my work for the journal in this instance only and specifically states that the

Copyright of the manuscript remains in the author’s name and the author reserves all other rights.

So, bottom line, it was worth the trouble and it didn't hurt to ask (in this case). Any other successful copyright stories? Horrors?

For more info on the April 23rd, 2009 World Book and Copyright Day visit the website

Copyright Workshop-Feb 16, 2009

Who Owns Your Scholarship
A Workshop for Authors and Creators of Academic Works
Monday, February 16, 2009
2:30-4:30 p.m.
Great Hall, Coffman Memorial Union
Free to University of Minnesota community.

This event has been designated by the Office of the Vice President for Research to satisfy the Awareness/Discussion component of the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) continuing education requirement.

Reserve your seat now!

More on the SCOAP3 Open Access Project

In case you missed it, a SCOAP3 update from the Jan 26, 2009 Chronicle:

Physicists Set Plan in Motion to Change Publishing System

Rebelling against rising prices for the scholarly articles on which their discipline depends, physicists have joined with university libraries to create a nonprofit group to reshape how high-energy-physics journals are financed and distributed. But some librarians see problems with the plan.

Scholarly Communication at the U

In case you missed it, the 2008 Open Access day was October 14th and the library's Scholarly Communications office celebrated with a successful awareness campaign. Take a look at their web site for all the highlights

Cool OA facts:

  • More than 300 University of Minnesota researchers have published their research in open-access journals since 2003.
  • U researchers get a 10-15% discount when publishing in open-access journals from Public Library of Science (PLoS), BioMed Central, and Nucleic Acids Research, thanks to subscriptions by the U Libraries.
  • The University of Minnesota Press has just released Digitize This Book! The Politics of New Media, or Why We Need Open Access Now by Gary Hall, a pioneer in open access publishing in the humanities.
  • NIH-funded U researchers can get help from the U Libraries and SPA in meeting NIH’s open-access requirement.

Find out how to get involved at

Referee Compensation?


Recently the Journal of High Energy Physics announced on a listserv that will start giving “token compensation? to their reviewers. The SISSA rep. wrote to a library listserv: “Given that peer review is the most valuable asset of journals, in the spirit that scientific work should be remunerated, we have decided to allocate funds for this purpose and to pay a token fee for every referee report beginning in 2008. We strongly feel that this new practice in the policy of scientific journals is the right step on the way to further improve the quality of our peer review process. “

Shortly after, an American Physical Society person replied with a response re-announcing their efforts to acknowledge “outstanding? referees through their new award program (info and a full list of awardees). They argued, “Rather than pay referees, which would increase costs that would increase the price of the journals, the American Physical Society has recently
chosen to give recognition each year to a very small fraction of our 42,000 active referees.? ***Props to UMN winners: Allen Goldman, Alexander Grosberg, Cheng-Cher Huang, and Mikhail Voloshin****.

This raises some interesting questions about the services that researchers render, not only in physics, but in most scientific disciplines. For referees, how much time, effort, and energy is too much? When is a pat-on-the-back required to keep the status quo? And most importantly, as all journal publications go electronic, and some stop print all together, how much does the peer-review process actually cost?

If you, the authors, are writing, formatting, reviewing, and editing nearly all journal content (not to mention “publishing? to the arXiv), how much does it cost to provide access to the final result on the web? The reported $30 million a year, or $2000 an article, APS spends on publishing their nine journals seems outlandish considering most of the scholarly effort is pro bono (and APS is thrifty when compared to journal subscription pricing by Elsevier or Springer). Is there a less expensive way to manage an editorial workflow that could be web-based, partially automated, and accomplish the same thing?

If academic journal referees are cheap, shouldn’t the cost of peer-review be in the same ball-park?

More information:
Cost is not the real issue for most referees, its time. Check out this letter in the Jan 4, 2008 Science, “In Search of peer reviewers?
For a cost analysis of electronic journal publishing with a near-zero cost alternative, read “Fixing the Broken Toaster: Scholarly Publishing Re-Imagined? in a 2007 Science and Technology Libraries.
For a discussion of journal pricing and the SCOAP3 proposal that allows library’s to pay for the work produced in their country read “Free for All? in a 2007 issue of Symmetry Magazine.

As librarians continue to face difficult choices regarding publication formats, electronic preservation, and escalating journal prices the need for communication and partnerships within our research communities is greater than ever. This is why Terry Mahoney (IAC Tenerife, Spain) initiated and wrote the "Declaration Concerning the Evolving Role of Libraries in Research Centres." The document has been co-signed by several astronomy librarians and has now been sent to the International Astronomy Union in the hope that they will help to distribute it widely among astronomers and perhaps, eventually, have it adopted by the IAU as official policy.

Please read the full document here and I look forward to hearing your comments:

To blog or not to blog?
Nature Geoscience 1, 208 (2008)
Gavin Schmidt1

"Scientists know much more about their field than is ever published in peer-reviewed journals. Blogs can be a good medium with which to disseminate this tacit knowledge."

Read the full article

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