The open access (OA) movement has a lot of moving parts. For example it has led some research funding agencies to mandate that research publications resulting from grants should be made publicly available. A recent memo from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy requires federal science agencies to prepare a policy for making the published results of scientific research available to the public. The Smithsonian Institution is now working to formalize its policy.
Several years ago the National Museum of Natural History hosted a visitor from Science magazine who gave a presentation for authors on strategies for getting published in that journal which boasts a low 7% acceptance rate. The session contained some helpful tips and the speaker ended his talk with some humor by speculating (somewhat facetiously, perhaps) on the top 10 future trends in scientific publishing. Referring to the recent growth in co-authorship, one of his “predictions” was that someday the list of co-authors for an article would exceed the length of the article itself. While that may have seemed amusing, few realized that within a short time the Smithsonian Research Online (SRO) database of scholarly publications would add an article which includes over 3000 co-authors and approximately the same number of words in the article’s body of text.
The evaluation of research quality is a task which is attracting attention as the world turns more and more to evidence-based decision making. The work of scientists and historians are regularly reviewed by institutional administrators to ensure a high quality of scholarship and to determine where to deploy scarce resources. One of the most relied-upon components of research assessment is the review of publications authored by a particular scholar. And although publications are difficult to objectively evaluate, the standard method for many years was to use the journal impact factor. This method measured the number of times the articles from a particular journal were subsequently cited by other publications, for which a numeric score was assigned to the journal. It soon became prestigious for scholars to have their papers published in a journal with a high impact factor.
Routine processing of library books frequently means using shelves and other spaces as staging areas for incoming and in-process items. As gifts and purchased books are acquired, cataloged and labeled, librarians typically work on them in batches, sorting on to separate shelves those which have not yet been searched in the catalog or which represent additional copies for the collection or which require a certain level of cataloging, etc. As they move through the processing of getting them to the library and ultimately, the reader they are moved from place to place in the back-rooms of library work areas.
I have met with several federal science library groups in recent weeks and among other things felt a great sense of relief on discovering that most of them face the same issues in managing digital content as we do at the Smithsonian Libraries.
During the week of January 16-19th, I visited the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) to discuss several matters relating to the Smithsonian Research Online (SRO) program and to offer technical support and training to STRI library staff. I was accompanied from Washington by Digital Services Head, Martin Kalfatovic, who was to attend a three-day Encyclopedia-of-Life meeting at Barro-Colorado Island during the same week. Together we met with Oris Sanjur (STRI Associate Director for Science Administration), Vielka Chang-Yau (STRI head librarian), Angel Aguirre (librarian), Klaus Winter (STRI scientist) and Eldredge Bermingham (STRI Director). Everyone was in agreement that STRI-authored publication data ought to be collected in one place and that the SIL is doing a good job of coordinating this program across all Institution units. The Director and Associate Director will discuss the specific needs of their unit and report back to SIL, who will propose a workflow to accomplish this. Meanwhile, I held a brief introduction to the bibliographic tools, EndNote and Zotero for STRI library staff and volunteers. While more »
At the recent Berlin 9 Open Access meeting, a pre-conference session on open access publishing featured speakers who detailed the required innovations in publishing business models necessary to both make scholarship freely available and to ensure sustainability. Among the speakers was Dr. Neil M. Thakur of the National Institutes of Health. His presentation centered on an aspect of open access that I have not seen discussed before. Thakur opened with a central question of how to do more with less and he listed three options: work longer, work cheaper or create efficiencies in productivity. It was the latter (and only realistic) option that he concentrated on. Making scientific publishing more efficient requires open access to the literature but for reasons that have previously been overlooked. In the past, advocates for the open access to scholarly literature have emphasized two audiences which suffer for lack of access to literature: scientists who work at under-funded organizations and who are unable to afford increasingly high subscriptions to scholarly journals, and motivated more »