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The face of scholarly publishing is changing and libraries are taking on the role of publisher for many scholarly publications, including those that don’t fit the mold of traditional presses. Initiatives at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are working to address strides in digital publishing, increasing momentum for open access research, and the need for sustainable publishing models. This year alone, The Illinois Open Publishing Network (IOPN) has released five new open-access multi-modal scholarly publications. IOPN represents a network of publications and publishing initiatives hosted at the University Library, working towards high-quality open-access scholarship in digital media. IOPN assists authors with a host of publishing services—copyright, peer review, and even providing assistance in learning the publishing tools themselves and strategizing their publications in what for many is a new mode of writing.
Open Access Week is upon us and this year’s theme, “Open for Whom?” has us investigating how open access benefits the student population here at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. According to the Open Access Week official blog, this theme is meant to start a conversation on “whose interests are being prioritized in the actions we take and the platforms we support” towards open access. They raise an important question: Are we supporting not only open access but also equitable participation in research communication?
To explore this question on our campus, on Monday morning, we set out on an initiative to see how much our students are paying for textbooks this semester and asked how free, open textbooks would help them. How might having access to open educational resources such as textbooks help our student body participate in research communication and the academic community of the University?
At the four major libraries across campus, posters were set up for students to anonymously indicate how much money they have spent on textbooks this semester. They did this by placing a sticker dot on the poster that best fit their expense range, as pictured below. Alongside each poster was a whiteboard with an open question that students could answer: “How would free, open textbooks help you?”
By Tuesday afternoon these boards were filling up with answers from students. While this was an open board to post their thoughts, of course, we had some humorous answers including: “More money for coffee, “I would cry less,” and “More McChicken.” However, despite the occasional joke, the majority of the answers focused on saving money. Many students commented on the tremendous cost of higher education and not only the high prices of textbooks but the additional costs of supplemental online workbooks provided by Chegg, WebAssign, or McGraw Hill – Connect. Students agreed that textbooks as resources for their education should be free and available. A worrying result of these discussion boards was students sharing the ways in which they illegally access textbooks in lieu of purchasing them; many sharing links to illegitimate websites.
So, open for whom? Open Access Resources (OER) offer a more affordable option for students and educators to access a quality educational experience. The Open Textbook Library describes open access textbooks as “funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed” and open for everyone’s use. Higher education institutions are gearing towards OER instead of requiring traditional textbooks and for students who are choosing between paying rent or purchasing textbooks, this can be life-changing.
Learn more about Open Educational Resources and how to find, evaluate, use and adapt OER materials for your needs.
What are you thoughts?
This is a guest blog by the amazing Kaylen Dwyer, a GA in Scholarly and Communication Publishing
As William Tringali mentioned last week, 2019 marks an exciting shift in copyright law with hundreds of thousands of works entering the public domain every January 1st for the next eighteen years. We are setting our clocks back to the year of 1923—to the birth of the Harlem Renaissance with magazines like The Crisis, to first-wave feminists like Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, and Dorothy L. Sayers, back to the inter-war period.
Copyright librarian Sara Benson has been laying the groundwork to bring in the New Year and celebrate the wealth of knowledge now publicly available for quite some time, leading up to a digital exhibit, The Sweet Public Domain: Honey Bunch and Copyright, and the Re-Mix It! Competition to be held this spring.
A collaborative effort between Benson, graduate assistants, and several scholarly contributors, The Sweet Public Domain celebrates creative reuse and copyright law. Last year, GA Paige Kuester spent time scouring the Rare Book and Manuscript Library in search of something that had never been digitized before, something at risk of being forgotten forever, not because it is unworthy of attention, but because it has been captive to copyright for so long.
We found just the thing—the beloved Honey Bunch series, a best-selling girls’ series by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. The syndicate become known for its publication of Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins, and many others, but in 1923 they kicked off the adventures of Honey Bunch with Just a Little Girl, Her First Visit to the City, and Her First Days on the Farm.
Through the digital exhibit, The Sweet Public Domain: Honey Bunch and Copyright, you can explore all three books, introduced by Deidre Johnson (Edward Stratemeyer and the Stratemeyer Syndicate, 1993) and LuElla D’Amico (Girls Series Fiction and American Popular Culture, 2017). To hear more about copyright and creative reuse, you can find essays by Sara Benson, our copyright librarian, and Kirby Ferguson, filmmaker and producer of Everything is a Remix.
If you are a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, you can engage with the public domain by making new and innovative work out of something old and win up to $500 for your creation. Check out the Re-Mix It! Competition page for contest details and be sure to check out our physical exhibit in the Marshall Gallery (Main Library, first floor east entrance) for ideas.
Wikipedia is a central player in online knowledge production and sharing. Since its founding in 2001, Wikipedia has been committed to open access and open editing, which has made it the most popular reference work on the web. Though students are still warned away from using Wikipedia as a source in their scholarship, it presents well-researched information in an accessible and ostensibly democratic way.
Most people know Wikipedia from its high ranking in most internet searches and tend to use it for its encyclopedic value. The Wikimedia Foundation—which runs Wikipedia—has several other projects which seek to provide free access to knowledge. Among those are Wikimedia Commons, which offers free photos; Wikiversity, which offers free educational materials; and Wikidata, which provides structured data to support the other wikis.
Wikidata is a great tool to study how Wikipedia is structured and what information is available through the online encyclopedia. Since it is presented as structured data, it can be analyze quantitatively more easily than Wikipedia articles. This has led to many projects that allow users to explore data through visualizations, queries, and other means. Wikidata offers a page of Tools that can be used to analyze Wikidata more quickly and efficiently, as well as Data Access instructions for how to use data from the site.
An example of a project born out of Wikidata is the Wikidata Human Gender Indicators (WHGI) project. The project uses metadata from Wikidata entries about people to analyze trends in gender disparity over time and across cultures. The project presents the raw data for download, as well as charts and an article written about the discoveries the researchers made while compiling the data. Some of the visualizations they present are confusing (perhaps they could benefit from reading our Lightning Review of Data Visualization for Success), but they succeed in conveying important trends that reveal a bias toward articles about men, as well as an interesting phenomenon surrounding celebrities. Some regions will have a better ratio of women to men biographies due to many articles being written about actresses and female musicians, which reflects cultural differences surrounding fame and gender.
Of course, like many data sources, Wikidata is not perfect. The creators of the WHGI project frequently discovered that articles did not have complete metadata related to gender or nationality, which greatly influenced their ability to analyze the trends present on Wikipedia related to those areas. Since Wikipedia and Wikidata are open to editing by anyone and are governed by practices that the community has agreed upon, it is important for Wikipedians to consider including more metadata in their articles so that researchers can use that data in new and exciting ways.
This is a guest blog by the amazing Kaylen Dwyer, a GA in Scholarly and Communication Publishing
Help us celebrate Open Access Week by joining us for a free screening of Paywall: The Movie on October 24th at the Independent Media Center from 7 – 9 pm hosted by the Scholarly Communication and Publishing Unit at the University of Illinois Library. The screening will be followed by a discussion moderated by Sara Benson, the Copyright Librarian, with panelists Sheldon Jacobson, Andrew Suarez, David Rivier, and Maria Bonn.
Full information about the event is available at this web address!
Paywall’s director, Jason Schmitt, estimates that scholarly publishing is a US $25.2-billion-a-year industry, a figure bolstered by soaring profit margins of 33% (compared to Walmart’s 3%, as cited by the filmmaker). This for-profit publishing model is further complicated by the fact that while most academic research is funded by the public, the articles remain behind expensive paywalls.
Then, one minute and 58 seconds into the documentary, viewers are hit with a paywall that asks them to pay $39.95 to continue watching. Jarring and unexpected, a paywall in a documentary still irritates. Yet for many of us, the paywalls we encounter for articles are just part of the routine that says, “Find another way.”
Schmitt says, “This profit has an implication—it limits amount of individuals around the globe who can solve the world’s most complex problems, and that affects us all.” The film specifically looks at how paywalls impact the global south, as a 2001 World Health Organization (WHO) survey found that 56% of research institutions in low-income countries did not have any subscriptions to international scientific journals.
In response to his hopes for what Paywall will accomplish, Schmitt says, “Open access is important to accelerate innovation and growth in a worldwide community of scholars, scientists and practitioners…I feel this documentary could play a role in exciting a worldwide conversation about access to scholarship in a digital age.”
We look forward to the screening and we hope you will join us next Wednesday at the Independent Media Center!
About the Panelists:
Sheldon Jacobson is a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, applying research and advanced analytics to address societal issues facing our nation. His recent article, “Push Versus Pull,” in Communications of the ACM looks at some of the problems with open access publishing.
Andrew Suarez is an associate professor of Animal Biology at U of I, focusing on the social organization and developmental plasticity of insects to address the fundamental questions in ecology, evolution, and behavior. His article, “The Fallacy of Open Access,” in the Chronicle of Higher Education addresses solutions we should be seeking in addition to open access publishing.
David Rivier, associate professor of cell and developmental biology at U of I, brings expertise in bioinformatics and scholarly publishing within the sciences.
Maria Bonn, an associate professor at the ISchool, previously served as the associate university librarian for publishing at the University of Michigan Library and was responsible for initiatives in publishing and scholarly communication. Her research remains focused in that area as well as networked communication and the economics of information. Among her contributions to the open access conversation are, “Free exchange of ideas: Experimenting with the open access monograph” (College and Research Library News, 2010) and “Maximizing the benefits of open access: Strategies for enhancing the discovery of open access content” (College and Research Library News, 2015).
Although the push for open access is decades old at this point, it remains one of the most important initiatives in the world of scholarly communication and publishing. Free of barriers like the continuously rising costs of subscription-based serials, open access publishing allows researchers to explore, learn, build upon, and create new knowledge without inhibition. As Peter Suber says, “[Open access] benefits literally everyone, for the same reasons that research itself benefits literally everyone.”
Peter Suber is the Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication; Director of the Harvard Open Access Project; and, among many other titles, the “de facto leader of the worldwide open access movement.” In short, Suber is an expert when it comes to open access. Thankfully, he knows the rest of us might not have time to be.
Suber introduces his book Open Access (a part of the MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series) by writing, “I want busy people to read this book. […] My honest belief from experience in the trenches is that the largest obstacle to OA is misunderstanding. The largest cause of misunderstanding is the lack of familiarity, and the largest cause of unfamiliarity is preoccupation. Everyone is busy.”
What follows is an informative yet concise read on the broad field of open access. Suber goes into the motivation for open access, the obstacles preventing it, and what the future may hold. In clear language, Suber breaks down jargon and explains how open access navigates complex issues concerning copyright and payment. This is a great introductory read to an issue so prominent in academia.
Guest Post by Kaylen Dwyer
Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license so they are free to access, use, remix, and share again.
Last year, the Common Knowledge blog discussed the cost of OER to professors and institutions in grants, time, sabbatical funding, and more. Yet professors felt that the main barrier between OER and the classroom were not these hidden costs, but rather lack of awareness, the difficulties of finding texts to use, and the monumental task of evaluating the texts and tools they did find.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s study, “Fixing the Broken Textbook Market,” determined that many students chose not to buy their textbooks due to the costs despite concern for their grade, and felt that they would benefit from open resources. Even as textbook costs have skyrocketed and faculty awareness of OER continues to increase, only 5.3% of classrooms are using open textbooks.
Enter OASIS (Openly Available Sources Integrated Search), a search tool recently developed and launched by SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library. OASIS addresses the main frustration expressed by faculty—how do I know what I’m looking for? Or even what open sources are out there?
The easy-to-use interface and highly selective nature of OASIS are both evident from the front page. At the outset, users can start a search if they know what they’re looking for, or they can view the variety of OER source types available to them—textbooks, courses, interactive simulations, audiobooks, and learning objects are just a few of the tools one can look for.
Users can also refine their search by the source, license, and whether or not the resource has been reviewed. For those who need a text which has already been evaluated, this certainly helps. At launch, there are over 150,000 items available coming from 52 different sources like Open NYS, CUNY, Open Textbooks, OER Services, and SUNY. And, as a way to increase awareness of the tool and open resources, OASIS also created a search widget that libraries and other institutions can embed on their webpages.
OASIS is one step closer to getting OER into the classroom, providing equal access and increasing the discoverability of texts.
Check it out here!
*Edits on original idea and original piece by C. Berman by Billy Tringali
As a former art history student, I’m incredibly interested in the how the study of art history can be aided by the digital humanities. More and more museums have started allowing the public to access a portion of their data. When it comes to open data, museums seem to be lagging a bit behind other cultural heritage institutions, but many are providing great open data for humanists.
For art museums, the range of data provided ranges. Some museums are going the extra mile to give a lot of their metadata to the public. Others are picking and choosing aspects of their collection, such as the Museum of Modern Art’s Exhibition and Staff Histories.
Many museums, especially those that collect modern and contemporary art, can have their hands tied by copyright laws when it comes to the data they present. A few of the data sets currently available from art museums are the Cooper Hewitt’s Collection Data, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts metadata, the Rijksmuseum API, the Tate Collection metadata, and the Getty Vocabularies.
More museum data can be found here!
This post was guest authored by Scholarly Communication and Publishing Graduate Assistant Paige Kuester.
A few months back, the Commons Knowledge blog featured a post about a new feature from Impactstory called “Unpaywall.” Read that article here. This is still a relatively new tool that aims to find open access versions of articles if they are available. You can click on the lock that shows up on an article’s page if it is green or gold, and Unpaywall will take you to an OA version of that article. If only a grey lock shows up, then there is no OA version of that article that this feature can find.
Similarly, the Open Access Button’s goal is to get you past paywalls. This is an older extension than Unpaywall, but is still being updated. This one works by bookmarking the button, and once you happen upon a paywalled article, you click on that bookmark. It also has a feature for when the article is not available: emailing the authors directly. The authors are then encouraged to deposit their articles in a repository, and either send a link to that or send the article directly to OAB so that they can upload it to a repository. Of course, if the author’s rights contract does not allow them to do this, then they can decline. OAB is also working with interlibrary loan departments in order to utilize this tool in those systems, which is supposed to eventually reduce the cost of sending articles between libraries.
I decided to test out the Open Access Button in order to write a fantastic blog post about it and how it compares to Unpaywall, and honestly, I came out a bit disappointed.
Maybe I just picked the wrong articles or topic to search for, or I’m just unskilled, but I had little success in my quest.
My first step was to install OAB, which was easy to do: I just dragged the button to my bookmarks for it to chill there until I needed it.
I used Google Scholar to search for an article that I did not have access to through the University. We do have a lot of articles available, but I did manage to pin one down that I could not get the full text for.
So I went to the page.
And opened my bookmarks to click on the
Open Access Button.
And then it loaded. For quite a while.
The article wasn’t available. But it gave me the option to write a note to the author to request it, like I mentioned above. Awesome. I wrote my note, but when I went to send it off, I arrived at another page asking me to supply the author’s email and the DOI of the article.
An unexpected twist.
Okay, fine. So I searched and I searched for the first author but to no avail. I did, however, find the second author’s email, so I put that in the box. Check.
Next, the DOI. I searched and I searched and I looked up how to find an article’s DOI. Well, my article was from 1992 so the reason I couldn’t find one was probably because it didn’t have one. There was no option for that, so what next?
I installed Unpaywall to see if I would have more success that way. First, I had to switch from Safari to Chrome because Unpaywall only works on a couple of browsers. It was also easy to install, but I could not get the lock to show up in any color on the page, which is something that has happened to me many times since, also.
I ended up interlibrary loaning that article.
Additional experiences include OAB saying that I had access to an article, but sending me to an institutional repository that only members of that school could access. Unpaywall was more truthful with this one, showing me a grey lock. Another article let me send a message to the author in which they had thankfully found the author’s emails themselves, but I never heard a response back. Unpaywall would not show me any type of lock for this one, not even grey.
Both of these applications are still rather new, and there are still barriers to open access that need to be crossed. I will continue to try and implement these when I come across an article that I don’t have access to because supporting open access is important, but honestly, interlibrary loan was much more helpful to me during this venture.