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Joseph Kraus

Joseph Kraus's Public Library

May 22, 15

"When Harvard University’s endowment fell by more than $10 billion during the 2008 financial crisis, it was a blow to the institution. But a lot of college presidents across the country considered the loss -- and the remaining $26 billion in Harvard’s endowment -- and thought that perhaps there were worse problems to have.

Harvard’s endowment has since rebounded. The university has cash and investments of nearly $43 billion, and is the wealthiest college in the country by more than $10 billion. Harvard is part of a prestigious pack of the 40 wealthiest universities in the country, which hold two-thirds of all the wealth among the 500 colleges rated by Moody's, which rates institutions that are financially sound enough to trade in public markets.

The rest of the pack have median cash and endowments of $273 million, or just 4 percent of the median $6.3 billion in cash and endowments at each of the wealthiest institutions, according to an April Moody’s report. The other 4,000 or so universities and colleges in the U.S. not rated by Moody's generally have even less liquid wealth.

These 40 richest universities have increased their assets by half since the recession, more than double the increases experienced by the least-wealthy universities rated by Moody’s."

May 22, 15

"Open-access advocates described the policy as the latest attack against institutional repositories. In 2012, Elsevier became more restrictive about authors depositing journal manuscripts in those repositories, which some interpreted as the publisher punishing institutions that had created open-access policies. The publisher says it was merely “pointing out to a number of repositories that they did not have agreements with Elsevier for their mandated policies,” according to general counsel Mark Seely.

Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC, said the latest policy update is an attempt to slow down the spread of open-access policies."

May 22, 15

"English is the global scientific language—and has been for some time. That much is obvious. What is not so obvious is why. Although Scientific Babel is presented as a history of the very idea of a global scientific language, Michael Gordin, a Princeton-based historian of 19th- and 20th-century physical sciences, is really interested in fathoming the ascendancy of English. Nowadays, Spanish is actually the European language with the most native speakers, but English has the most second-language speakers. And that’s what counts when it comes to being the global scientific language. Indeed, Spanish was never a serious contender in the global scientific sweepstakes.

Gordin has not been alone in trying to explain the rise of scientific English. Scott Montgomery, a scientifically trained professional translator, has published a couple of books devoted to this theme that complement Gordin’s: Science in Translation and Does Science Need a Global Language? Whereas Montgomery treats East and West as relatively equal long-term contributors to the idea of a global scientific language and focuses more directly on the costs and benefits of different sorts of translation practices, Gordin’s tight focus on the last 350 years of Western history enables him to provide a more vivid sense of the political stakes in plumping for one or another language."

May 22, 15

"Q: Is it good for science that there is a global language dominating scientific communication?

A: It depends on how you look at it. On the one hand, communication among scientists from different nationalities -- at conferences, at global universities -- is greatly facilitated by there being one agreed-upon language of communication. (There's no intrinsic linguistic reason why such a language has to be English; it happens to have turned out that way historically.) Collaboration has increasingly become a crucial feature of scientific development, and so the advent of a global language is positive. On the other hand, for those who have to learn English as a second (or third, or fifth) language -- an essential requirement of participating in today's science -- the burden can be very high. A student who displays no aptitude in learning this particular language, no matter how gifted in a scientific sense, is almost certainly locked out of educational opportunities, the relevant scientific literature and a career. There are other downsides, too, and how you tally up the total depends a good deal on your own linguistic background."

May 20, 15

"In the past decade there has been a significant increase in 'Gold' open access which sees researchers or their funders/ institutions paying to publish articles in freely accessible online journals. Research councils and governments – particularly in Europe – are also supporting a shift to OA, setting ambitious targets for the proportion of output to be published OA. At the moment, approximately 13% of research papers are published OA.

Some publishers have developed hybrid and offsetting publishing models as they seek to retain control over cashflow. However, the researchers at the Max Planck Digital Library don’t believe these transitional models go far enough. They are calling for ambitious transition plans and believe that the large scale transformation of business model of scientific journals is possible with no financial risk."

May 20, 15

"I’ve heard the “what are they teaching in library school these days, anyway?” comments for as long as I’ve been an educator; it comes with the territory. It’s natural, and healthy, that all of us are invested in the process by which people become members of our profession. However, in the last few years, another couple of tropes have entered the fray: that there are too many students in our programs and that the number is growing; that there aren’t enough jobs for them; and that students and recent graduates feel betrayed and even lied to as a result. That has extended, in some conversations, into calls for somebody to do something about this, such as, perhaps, the American Library Association (ALA) through its accrediting functions. Taken together, these seem to indicate substantial questions or misgivings about LIS education and its infrastructure. As an educator and proud member of the profession, that’s concerning to me as well."

May 20, 15

"The modern world is all about sharing, driven by the borderless flow of information through the Internet. Pictures, articles, jokes, links, ideas, criticism — information has never been so free to move. And from open access to giant web-based data repositories, science in 2015 is increasingly based on shared knowledge and expertise.

Sharing should be equal, but some is more equal than others. The principals behind one genetic data-sharing project unveiled last week have described their initiative as a model of “scientific openness” that offers “broader access” to genetic data. Indeed, the name of the project — BRCA Share — trades on the idea of data freedom. The initiative focuses on clinical data concerning mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, which increase risk of breast and ovarian cancer."

May 20, 15

"On April 30, 2015, Elsevier announced a new sharing and hosting policy for Elsevier journal articles. This policy represents a significant obstacle to the dissemination and use of research knowledge, and creates unnecessary barriers for Elsevier published authors in complying with funders’ open access policies. In addition, the policy has been adopted without any evidence that immediate sharing of articles has a negative impact on publishers subscriptions.

Despite the claim by Elsevier that the policy advances sharing, it actually does the opposite. The policy imposes unacceptably long embargo periods of up to 48 months for some journals. It also requires authors to apply a “non-commercial and no derivative works” license for each article deposited into a repository, greatly inhibiting the re-use value of these articles. Any delay in the open availability of research articles curtails scientific progress and places unnecessary constraints on delivering the benefits of research back to the public.

Furthermore, the policy applies to “all articles previously published and those published in the future” making it even more punitive for both authors and institutions. This may also lead to articles that are currently available being suddenly embargoed and inaccessible to readers.

As organizations committed to the principle that access to information advances discovery, accelerates innovation and improves education, we support the adoption of policies and practices that enable the immediate, barrier free access to and reuse of scholarly articles. This policy is in direct conflict with the global trend towards open access and serves only to dilute the benefits of openly sharing research results."

May 20, 15

"I recently became a member of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and today was dismayed to see Jeffrey Beall’s article What the Open-Access Movement Doesn’t Want You to Know in the latest issue of its journal, Academe. (I joined because as a member of Virginia Tech’s Faculty Senate, AAUP has been helpful in advising us on increasing the role of Faculty Senate in university governance.)

For those who may not know, Jeffrey Beall is a librarian at the University of Colorado-Denver, and through his blog Scholarly Open Access exposes academic “predatory publishers” (pay-to-publish scams that perform little to no peer review) and other sketchy doings in academic publishing. While this is a tremendous service to the scholarly community, he has unfairly blamed these problems on open access as a whole. It became apparent just how off the rails Beall had gone when he published The Open-Access Movement is Not Really about Open Access in the journal TripleC (in the non-peer reviewed section; also see Michael Eisen’s response, Beall’s Litter). If you enjoy right-wing nuttiness (yes, George Soros is involved) you really should read it."

May 20, 15

"The Law of Amplification’s least appreciated consequence, however, is that technology on its own amplifies underlying socioeconomic inequalities. To begin with, the rich will always be able to afford more technology, and low-cost technology in no way solves that. There is no digital keeping up with the Joneses.

But even an equitable distribution of technology aggravates inequality. Students with poor high-school preparation will always find it hard to learn things their prep-school peers can ace. Low-income families will struggle to pay registration fees that wealthy households barely notice. Blue-collar workers doing hard manual labor may not have the energy to take evening courses that white-collar professionals think of as a hobby. And these things are even more true online than offline. Sure, educational technologies can lower costs for everyone, but it’s those with existing advantages who are best positioned to capitalize on them.

In fact, studies confirm exactly this: Well-educated men with office jobs disproportionately complete MOOC courses, while lower-income young adults barely enroll. The primary effect of free online courses is to further educate an already well-educated group who will pull away from less-educated others. The educational rich just get richer.

So what is to be done? Unfortunately, there is no technological fix, and that is perhaps the hardest lesson of amplification. More technology only magnifies socioeconomic disparities, and the only way to avoid that is nontechnological: Either resolve the underlying inequities first, or create policies that favor the less advantaged."

May 18, 15

"The goal of this blog is to share insights and tips related to discovery of and access to science and technology information. The audience for these insights is science and technology librarians.

Science and technology librarianship spans many subject areas from engineering to natural sciences to environmental and health sciences but all posts will have science and technology as their common connection.

A resource or tool will be identified that is intended to help users with science and technology questions. Resources vary from scholarly articles and white papers to data sets and computer code. Short tips and/or tricks will be presented to facilitate discovery and access. Tips and/or tricks that are common in one person’s work may be new and helpful to another.

The science and technology librarian community will learn about tools to make their work easier and will have the opportunity to improve their skills. Both should lead to improved service to library users.

Participation from outside the committee is welcome."

May 14, 15

"Spam has become an issue of concern in almost all areas where the Internet is involved, and many people today have become victims of spam from publishers and individual journals. We studied this phenomenon in the field of scholarly publishing from the perspective of a single author. We examined 1,024 such spam e-mails received by Marcin Kozak from publishers and journals over a period of 391 days, asking him to submit an article to their journal. We collected the following information: where the request came from; publishing model applied; fees charged; inclusion or not in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ); and presence or not in Beall's (2014) listing of dubious journals. Our research showed that most of the publishers that sent e-mails inviting manuscripts were (i) using the open access model, (ii) using article-processing charges to fund their journal's operations; (iii) offering very short peer-review times, (iv) on Beall's list, and (v) misrepresenting the location of their headquarters. Some years ago, a letter of invitation to submit an article to a particular journal was considered a kind of distinction. Today, e-mails inviting submissions are generally spam, something that misleads young researchers and irritates experienced ones."

May 14, 15

"In this communication I give a brief introduction to Valiant's probably approximately correct (PAC) theory, provide an extension that goes beyond Valiant's ideas (and beyond the domain for which this theory was meant), and come to an interpretation in terms of research evaluation. As such, PAC provides a framework for a theory of research evaluation."

May 13, 15

"I wrote yesterday, in a grumpy state, about the restrictiveness of copyright and licensing of screenshots in academic material. Today brings happier news.

The ever-excellent Laura Quilter sent me the following advice:

It’s not that “there is an argument” for fair use – this is a quintessential fair use. There is 0% chance Warner will sue over screenshots in an academic paper or book. Getting Warner’s litigation machine in action is expensive, and this case would be a certain loser for them. Certain, definite, 100%, no chance in hell of winning. I’d argue de minimis.

In this instance, I actually don’t blame Warner: They say they will not license such uses. That’s because licensing screenshots for academic purposes will make them very little money, and they would have zero chance of winning a litigation over a use that exceeded the scope of the license. They actually aren’t asserting any rights they can’t enforce. They “have a policy against” anyone doing things, but that’s not enforceable; they won’t license the uses, but that doesn’t preclude fair use. In other words, it’s just not worth it to them to license this, and it’s easier to just say “no” than to substantively evaluate the individual requests for “academic” or exploitative uses.

Some publishers are more responsive to fair use than others, and you might try looking for publisher policies that are more reasonable, and helping your publisher to understand. At this point, Warner has indicated their disinterest in licensing, but has no conceivable interest in litigation, so honestly, your publisher should take it as an all-clear to go forward on several bases: (1) “they don’t care”, and (2) it’s fair use."

May 08, 15

"While subject repositories successfully fill a scholarly communication niche in particular disciplines, they have not been recognized for the important role they play in promoting global scholarship. Repositories such as AgEcon Search1 make valuable and unique contributions by increasing publishing options for researchers and thus exposing and distributing research produced in the developing world.

Next Section
Global publishing landscape

The bias toward the Western world in the publishing arena has been well documented. Many rankings (e.g., journal impact factors) are calculated using data from Thomson Reuters (Web of Science) or other Western-based entities that include only a fraction of the total corpus of published works. A recent study found a clear correlation between gross domestic product (GDP) and both journal placement and citation performance.2 This bias confers a negative impact on the advancement of research in and about the developing world, since “access to scholarly information from the developed global North does not necessarily provide relevant knowledge pertaining to context-specific issues in Africa.”3

Investigation of why this bias exists reveals serious challenges in publishing research conducted in the developing world and in discovering it once it has been published. "

May 07, 15


The Open Access Network (OAN) looks to tackle head-on the challenge of implementing open-access (OA) business models in all academic disciplines, beginning with the humanities and social sciences. The OAN provides a broad and transformative solution for sustainable OA publishing and archiving that is complementary, not competitive, with other OA funding approaches.

The OAN model, as spelled out in our white paper, proposes that all institutions of higher education contribute to systemic support of the research process itself, including its scholarly output. It is a bold rethinking of the economics of OA by way of partnerships among scholarly societies, academic libraries, and publishers funded — in the long term — by an institutional fee structure based on a student-and-faculty per-capita sliding scale. Core to the model is its insistence on broad institutional support of the scholarly communication infrastructure itself, not on any particular format (e.g., books, journals, website)."

May 06, 15

"Ending the scourge of DRM has long been an important goal for EFF, and the need has only increased in recent years. As the evidence mounts that we're already deep into what EFF Special Consultant Cory Doctorow has dubbed the War On General Purpose Computing, efforts like the Free Software Foundation's International Day Against DRM take on a new meaning.

It's not just about what we can do with the books, music, movies, and games that we buy, though that remains an important fight. It's a matter of basic consumer rights and security."

May 06, 15

"The Hague Declaration aims to foster agreement about how to best enable access to facts, data and ideas for knowledge discovery in the Digital Age. By removing barriers to accessing and analysing the wealth of data produced by society, we can find answers to great challenges such as climate change, depleting natural resources and globalisation."

May 05, 15

"You use the phrase “forensic bibliographic reconstruction” – tell me what that means.
Some interlibrary loan (ILL) requests are very routine: the user is able to provide a citation that includes complete information for all of the relevant fields needed for a lending institution to fill the request, and all we need to do is find out which institutions hold the item and submit the request.

For other items, however, it can feel more like being a forensic scientist, or an archaeologist attempting to reconstruct an artifact from its broken shards. The person provides us with some evidence—the pieces of information that he/she knows about the document—but some key facts are missing. It’s up to us to assemble more information about the item in order to gain a fuller understanding of the item needing to be tracked down, much like a forensic specialist would piece together physical evidence to support a criminal investigation, using the available clues. What type of item is being referred to? Is it a straightforward book or article, or is it something more obscure (grey literature, or possibly a conference presentation/panel discussion that completely lacks a published counterpart)? Once we know what we’re looking at, we can then focus on its publication and library holdings status. Does it exist as a circulating item in our lending network? What if it doesn’t? Is there a vendor source for it? Is it archived online? Can we determine if it was once available, but is now (for all intents and purposes) lost to scholarship? Who might we contact for more information? Is the author still alive? Reconstructing the history and potential availability of the item can be a time-consuming and multi-step process."

May 04, 15

"The rapid growth of open access policies at U.S. institutions and around the world suggests that more and more scholarly authors want to make their work as accessible as possible. Elsevier is pushing hard in the opposite direction, trying to delay and restrict scholarly sharing as much as they can. It seems clear that they are hoping to control the terms of such sharing, in order to both restrict it putative impact on their business model and ultimately to turn it to their profit, if possible. This latter goal may be a bigger threat to open access than the details of embargoes and licenses are. In any case, it is time, I believe, to look again at the boycott of Elsevier that was undertaken by many scholarly authors a few years ago; with this new salvo fired against the values of open scholarship, it is even more impossible to imagine a responsible author deciding to publish with Elsevier."

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