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Social Sciences Open Access Repository

Via John Postill’s Media/Anthropology  blog, a post about a new Open Access Repository for all the social sciences. “SSOAR [Social Science Open Access Repository] is geared towards a scholarly audience in the social sciences wishing to search quality-controlled content across disciplinary boundaries and to access documents directly and free of charge.” This is the first general Social Science OA repository we’ve found (hence our previous post on  EduPunk alternatives). I hope SSOAR succeeds, and that the other institutions (cough, cough, AAA, cough, cough) follow suit.

EduPunk Repositories

EduPunk, as I understand it, refers to scholars who, frustrated by the inferior tools offered by their universities, have embraced free online (i.e. “web 2.0″) social tools as a substitute. Much of the focus of EduPunk has been on teaching; for instance, using Google Groups instead of Blackboard. But I think Anthropologists should also think about Edupunk for Open Access archiving. Responses to Jason’s post make it clear that Anthropologists are sorely lacking in institutional repositories where they can store their work. As Peter Suber pointed out in his comment, if your university offers an institutional repository you should make use of it. But many of us are not so lucky.

There is, of course Mana’o, but as Jason pointed out, that has been off line for some time. It is possible that it will be resuscitated, but since it doesn’t look like the AAA is likely to offer a service which would compete with Anthrosource, I’d like to suggest that Anthropologists start looking at some of the Edupunk alternatives.

When I posted a query about this to the Open Access Anthropology Google Group, archaeologist Mike Smith pointed me to a great blog post he had already written by Digger on this topic:

So I did a little experiment. I fished out some conference papers I’ve given, a couple of journal articles, and a book. I posted them to four “put your stuff out there” locations online, all free:

Mendeley.com Mostly a reference management tool that lets you access your .pdfs from anywhere – especially helpful when I have references that overlap between work and personal. They do also have a Personal Profile page, where you can make your own work available as downloads for anyone. The site can be slow to load.

CiteULike Again, mostly a reference management tool, similar to Mendeley. You can make your papers available for download by anyone. I find it kinda clunky vs. Mendely, but have found a few references I didn’t otherwise know about.

Academia.edu Facebook for academics. With the ability to post papers for people to access, as well as posting research interests, joining groups of folks that share your interests, etc. Perk: you get email when someone searches on you or “follows” you, and you can see how many people have looked at your stuff. Note: it only -looks- like you need a university affiliation to be listed here. Scroll through, there is an “Independent Researcher” catagory.

SelectedWorks Strictly a portal to post your stuff and have it available. Folks can subscribe to get updates, but that’s about it for the acasocial framework. One perk: realtime reports about how many copies of your stuff have been downloaded. They also convert your .docs into .pdfs and index them.

Time passed. The results? Mendeley and CiteuLike, from what I can tell, did squat for me in the “making stuff available” department (though I’m sticking with Mendeley for managing references). Academia.edu – had a few folks peek at the papers; apparently there is a trickle of visitors coming in via Google, no Google Scholar links. I give it a meh.

The real winner here is SelectedWorks. I can see people are accessing and downloading my stuff. It is totally easy to update my site. And, time to Google Scholar for everything (book, journal articles, conference papers) = 1 month. Even though I didn’t provide full text for the book and one journal article, they’re now indexed in Google Scholar.

If your university has an account with SelectedWorks, it’s easy to get listed. But, you can be listed as an individual for free, it’s just not readily apparent. From their homepage, scroll to the bottom and click “Start a Site”. You will have to email them directly to get an access code (took < 1 day for me). That’s it. I found tweaking my abstracts to include words others might search for was helpful (Search Engine Optimization for scholarly papers, woot!), and the realtime download stats let me track that.

This is win-win, for writers (who get their stuff out there) and for researchers (who can find more stuff). It’s a little nerve-wracking to know that my stuff is being read, but I’m coping!

I am really impressed with SelectedWorks as well. I had forgotten that I’d signed up with an account some time ago. It took some time for them to get back to me, but as Mike Digger says, it is easy to sign up for a free account. Other options that Mike Digger didn’t mention include

There are certainly a lot of options out there now. But we also have to ask about the down side. What is lost when we post to an EduPunk archive instead of a proper institutional repository? For one thing, we loose a lot by not having proper metadata entered by a trained librarian, as was the case with Mana’o. And what about the legal issues? Open Access legal statements seem focused on personal websites and institutional repositories. There doesn’t seem to be language for something the kinds of services listed above… And, in his reply to my e-mail, Chris Kelty pointed out some other problems:

what is the eduPunk approach to archival persistence?  How would these tools allow for permanent findability and a certain sense that one can be sure it will stay available for a long time?  DOI numbers require an institutional home… COiNs data are easy to add to a blog post… Zotero can find things with this data… so maybe part of the blog post should be best practices for eduPunk  future-proofing…

All important questions to ask. I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments!

UPDATE: Changed author of blog post to Digger as per comments.

Save the date – Open Access Week 19-23 October 2009

From the PLOS website:

After the resounding success of our first ever Open Access Day in 2008, where we had nearly 130 participating organizations from almost 30 countries, we are pleased to announce that this year’s events will be scheduled during the week of 19-23 October 2009.

Why a week rather than a day? When we asked for feedback from the folks taking part last year, while they said that they had enjoyed the “event-in-a-box” approach, many of them found that cramming everything into one day was tricky (especially given international time differences) and that spreading activities over a week to suit their individual needs would be easier.

What is also particularly pleasing about choosing this week is that 19 October is PLoS Medicine’s fifth birthday so any planned community-led events to celebrate this important milestone can do double duty.

The organizing forces behind Open Access week remain unchanged from last year namely: PLoS, SPARC and Students for FreeCulture but we also wish to add a technology partner who could assist us with streaming live web coverage of round table discussions or talks from prominent advocates and post event delivery. So if you are reading this and you work in this field or have significant experience of it and want to join the team please email Donna Okubo (dokubo@plos.org).

We will be launching our Open Access Week 2009 site shortly but in the meantime, you can sign up here.

University Press as a Service

Planned Obsolescence has a post about the announcement “that the University of Michigan Press is being restructured as an academic unit housed under the University of Michigan Library,” noting that the interesting thing about this is the “transformation of the press from a revenue center to something more like a service organization within the institution.”

Congressional bill would block Open Access

Reposted from Savage Minds.

Important post from Change Congress over at Huffington Post:

You may have heard of Big Oil, but have you heard of “Big Paper”? We know, it sounds absurd, but check this out.

Right now, there’s a proposal in Congress to forbid the government from requiring scientists who receive taxpayer funds for medical research to publish their findings openly on the Internet.

This ban on “open access publishing” (which is currently required) would result in a lot of government-funded research being published exclusively in for-profit journals — inaccessible to the general public.

Why on earth would anyone propose this? A new report by transparency group MAPLight.org shows that sponsors of this bill — led by Rep. John Conyers — received twice as much money from the publishing industry as those on the relevant committee who are not sponsors.

This is exactly the kind of money-for-influence scheme that constantly happens behind our backs and erodes the public’s trust in government.

A notice from Change Congress’s Facebook page suggests action you can take. (Reproduced here after the jump.)

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Open Monograph Press

Via digital humanities guru Dan Cohen, I learned about an exciting new Open Access initiative. I’ve long known about the Public Knowledge Project’s Open Journal Systems (OJS), which is used to power many peer-reviewed Open Access journals, but it seems that one of the people involved in that project, John Willinsky, is taking it to a new level with his proposed Open Monograph Press (OMP). As far as I can tell OMP is basically the same idea as OJS, with one important difference:

Our technical approach to monograph publishing involves one substantial change in software development over the approach used previously by the Public Knowledge Project. After building dedicated systems both for conferences and for journals, we are merging the software from these systems into a series of common modules that can be recombined in various forms to produce systems for journals, conferences, and monographs. The systems will share modules, and take advantage of a common platform for purposes of upgrading the software, adding translations, and other developments.

OMP’s great extensibility allows for a wide variety of uses and new features, from annotation, to scheduling, to financial transactions, etc. The many possible uses are described in his paper. It seems like a really exciting project!

Mandatory Wikipedia Edits?

(Reposted from Savage Minds)

Nat Torkington reports that the RNA Biology journal (published by Nature) requires authors to submit at least one Wikipedia article on their research before they will publish their article. This is partially because the publisher, Nature, has something called the RNA WikiProject which syncs each night with related Wikipedia articles.

I thought this was interesting because I know there is a certain hesitancy among scholars in the social sciences to post their own research findings to Wikipedia for fear that it might hurt their efforts to publish material later on. Anthropology isn’t like the sciences, in that some of our “findings” might not even meet Wikipedia’s increasingly stringent standards for what qualifies for an article – and we certainly don’t subscribe (as a discipline) to Wikipedia’s concept of a “neutral point of view”; still, I think that there is a lot of basic information we acquire during the course of our research which is perfectly suited for Wikipedia. What would happen if American Anthropologist required that all authors make some substantial Wikipedia edits on their topic before considering their article for publication?

Some Open and Some Not So Open Links

Recently John Holbo at Crooked Timber posted a thought piece about how nice it would be to have “JSTOR for books.” Of course, we here at OAA would like everything to be fully Open Access, unlike the JSTOR model adopted for most of the AAA publications. But the reason I mention Holbo’s post is that it provoked some interesting comments, full of links worth mentioning. They range from commercial subscription sites, like Safari Books Online, which is what provoked the discussion in the first place, to the radical fringes of the Open Access movement – Guerilla Open Access. Here are some of the links, please feel free to suggest others:

UPDATE: Google just announced that it will be offering libraries subscription access to out-of-print (but still under copyright) books which it has scanned.