University Librarian/OSU Press Director travels (May-June 2018)
May and June were unusually busy travel months for me. In May, I attended two meetings that I don’t typically attend—Center for Research Libraries Forum and Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) 40th Annual Conference. Both were held in the Windy City so I stayed with my fiancée Cara at her place in Chicago. I also went to AUP in San Francisco and ALA Annual in New Orleans.
CRL Global Resources Collections Forum, May 17-18
OSU Libraries is a long-time member of CRL and they have an in-person meeting every other year. This is the first time I have attended a CRL meeting. The forum was held in Chicago at the University of Chicago Gleacher Center. All of the sessions were recorded and are available at https://www.crl.edu/events/crl-global-resources-collections-forum-2018
The common themes at this year’s CRL forum:
Archival holdings are vulnerable, if not threatened, across the globe. Derek Petersen’s talk on African government records demonstrated this but he also questioned whether digitizing such records and opening them up in places like Uganda was a good idea. His point was that what works in the Western world may not work in other regions. It was startling to see photos of new facilities that had been built to house records but without adequate shelving, staffing, etc. to process them. I also liked the presentation from UTexas (Benson Collection) curators of a huge Mellon project to implement a post-custodial approach to curating documents related to documents related to Central American politics (Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador).
The use and potential reuse of data needs our attention. CUNY law librarian Sarah Lamdan raised the alarm regarding how commercial vendors like Lexis Nexis have ramped up their involvement (and profit gain) from the world of gathering data for surveillance purposes. They and others are contracting with US government entities like Homeland Security. There was a similar message from Irena Knezevic’s presentation on what big Agra companies like Monsanto are doing to commercialize research results—big data—that comes from farmers who may or may not know what their data rights are. Finally, I enjoyed Cliff Lynch’s presentation which built on his First Monday publication “Stewardship in the ‘Age of Algorithms.'”
Society for Scholarly Publishing 40th Conference highlights
SSP was kicked off with a series of Sponsored Sessions. These enable vendors to talk about their products and services and are clearly labeled in the program. I’m not sure why we don’t do this in “Libraryland.” They could be revenue generators plus a timesaver for all of us who want to learn about a vendor’s new product. Since they are clearly delineated as “sales talks”in the program, attendees can avoid them if they want to do so.
I was curious about all the publishing platforms that are available for scholarly publishers so I went to a Typefi Systems session on automation. The session covered several case studies demonstrating how investment in their platform improved productivity. Typefi Cloud allows production of HTML and PDF outputs and authors, editors, designers and others can keep using the same software (i.e. Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign), they are comfortable with to create scholarly works. This is helpful so authors don’t have to learn InDesign.
Diversity, inclusion, equity issues are an emerging topic in the publishing world. A panel covering this topic featured Jody Gray from ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services; Association for University Presses’ Executive Director Peter Berkery, and Jean Shipman from Elsevier. The panelists reported on efforts at their organization. I was keen to learn what Elsevier is up to but they are struggling as much as any of us in this arena. Everyone has the same challenges we have in terms of recruitment.
There were two awesome keynotes. First, Safiya Noble spoke about her new book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. https://www.playbackssp.com/2018-ssp-annual-meeting/14181-gs1 Her book is on my nightstand of books to read sooner rather than later. Noble also gave the closing keynote at AUP in San Francisco. I thought the AUP keynote might be a repeat but she did an excellent job of covering similar ground without being repetitive. The other keynote was by Steve Mirsky, an editor and columnist for Scientific American. His talk focused on how psychologist Robert Cialdini’s six principles of influence (reciprocity, commitment, social proof, authority, liking, scarcity) can be applied to changes we want to see in the scholarly communication environment. Mirsky has a lot of concern (as do many) about the preponderance of denial related to scientific evidence supporting evolution, climate change, etc. https://www.playbackssp.com/2018-ssp-annual-meeting/14181-gs2?html5player=true
I also went to several sessions where metadata and its role in machine learning or AI were the focus. A speaker from Science talked about the metadata they are collecting on authors (gender, ethnicity, degrees). That was a bit scary in regards to privacy concerns. He wasn’t altogether clear what they were doing with this data (supposedly kept internal) or how they were collecting it. (DON”T) Rage Against the Machine a session on Artificial Intelligence (AI) was another session on how use of AI can improve discoverability (ie., introduction of new music) online learning, prediction of things like revenue and other trends. There was also a good panel with 3 women and one male (the U of Utah AUL Rick Anderson, BTW) that was a really good conversation with considerable Q&A to engage with the audience.
The session on funders as publishers had representation from a library (as publisher of OA stuff), a faculty research from UC San Diego, an editor from AAAS, and rep from F1000. The response from the UL at the University College of London offered expected info in terms of their initiatives to run an IR and operate a relatively new OA university press. He also covered the political context in the UK—funders requiring OA. Library as publisher begs the question: What does it mean to be a publisher—pre-print server? What about distributing data or is publishing just mean being an entity that publishes publications?
All panelists addressed these questions:
What do researchers want from OA
- Publish in high quality journal read by peers; the researcher Maryanne Martone from UC San Diego repeated the term “prestige economy” to describe why researchers publish;
- Solid review process and short pub times
- Make it easy to comply with OA requirements
Perceived benefits of OA
- Access for scientists and for public
Perceived challenges of OA
- Non-productive conversations
- Quality comes at a cost
What are cost complications?
The AAAS editor focused on what he termed “transition pains” as funding migrates from subscriptions to APCs. He described a fragmented world in terms of sales because Europe will likely be APCs but rest of the world (including US) will be subscriptions. He said the transition would likely hurt smaller publishers more.
Martone asked what were the costs of unrecovered research? More to the point what were the costs of not going with OA. She mentioned the article on “long tail” data that has become dark so now the data is unavailable. She said there may be increasing ROI for funders through initiatives like bioRxiv, the biology preprint server. Also described that there is more than just articles that researchers need access but important scholarly outcomes include data as well as code. All research outputs need to be reusable. As a neuroscientist, Martone spoke to need to access big data because her field depends on integration. Mentions library license agreements that don’t allow machine-based access or text-mining.
The UCLondon UL Paul Ayris spoke about his campus’ coming adoption of new bilbiometrics. They are not going to allow the journal impact factor to be considered for P&T as the journal impact factor does not provide insight into the value of the actual article—it’s not at an article level.
FOLLOWUP: Martone, Lamden, Noble (yes, again) might be speakers we would consider bringing to OSU to talk about scholarly communication topics of interest to OSU faculty