24 September 2015

Open Book Publishers celebrates 7th birthday

Today (24th September) is the seventh anniversary of the founding of Open Book Publishers.

CC-0. Portrait of an old man thought to be Comenius (c. 1661) by Rembrandt. Florence, Uffizi Gallery. Wikimedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Portrait_of_an_Old_Man,_Rembrandt.jpg. In The Scientific Revolution Revisited by Mikuláš Teich (2015)
Last time we blogged about OBP back in May they had published 55 titles, now the figure stands at 63! The University of St Andrews Library continues to contribute to the project by producing high quality MARC records for each book. MARC is a cataloguing standard for inputting metadata that makes sharing records between libraries easier. Libraries can download the MARC records we provide from the OBP website thus avoiding duplication of effort (see this page for more information).

George Washington Wilson, "Castle Urquhart.” 1867. Albumen print. Photographs of English and Scottish Scenery (Aberdeen: Printed by John Duffus, 1866-1868). British Library. http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/earlyphotos/c/largeimage53419.html. In Thomas Annan of Glasgow: Pioneer of the Documentary Photograph by
Lionel Gossman (2015)
"We can look back upon seven years of steady progress with satisfaction. 63 titles published. 700,000 book visits to our website. Readers from 207 countries. 400 readers per title every month. A library membership scheme with 70 members already enlisted. New partnerships bearing fruit. Our mission to change the nature of the traditional academic book and bring Open Access research to readers everywhere continues apace." Open Book Publishers Newsletter.

There are a further 19 forthcoming titles in the OBP catalogue, see the full list here. Forthcoming titles range from Twentieth-Century Russian Poetry: Reinventing the Canon to Advanced Problems in Mathematics: Preparing for University.

You can see each OBP title in our catalogue here: http://library.st-andrews.ac.uk/search/a?search=Open+Book+Publishers.

17 September 2015

BMC Ecology image competition

CC BY Catherine Markham http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12898-015-0053-9
Each year BMC Ecology runs an image competition designed to allow ecologists to capture in a single frame their personal perspective on the 'beauty and mystery of our natural surroundings'. These images also provide a window into their specific research area:
'Ecologists can then educate as they draw attention to some of the outstanding science being done, while featuring their research efforts in a visual, and fun, way.' BMC Ecology
The overall winning image entitled “Palestinian sunbird female forages on Echinops sp.” was captured by Mohamed Sheb from the Suez Canal University Ismailia, Egypt.

CC BY Mohamed Shebl http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12898-015-0053-9.

There were 9 winning pictures, and an additional 23 that were highly commended. We highly recommend taking a look. All the pictures are published under a CC BY attribution licence so sharing them couldn't be easier too. All the pictures were published as part of an editorial here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12898-015-0053-9

Here's some more!
CC BY Kainaat William http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12898-015-0053-9.

CC BY Kenneth J. Chapin http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12898-015-0053-9.

10 September 2015

New publishing initiatives: from authoring to archiving and beyond

Following on from our recent post on Outernet two recent announcements about new research publication platforms have attracted attention in the Open Access community:

Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO) journal 
Pensoft's RIO extends publication into areas it hasn’t been associated with – project proposals for grant funding and project-related reports, methods and workflows that rarely see the light of day. It also builds on current OA trends by supporting publication of data, software, and research articles much of which is increasingly the subject of funder OA mandates. It claims “the most transparent, open and public peer-review process”; Public, Formal peer review is optional and is a paid-for service. Work will typically be accepted on the basis of a “sanity check” and public peer review:
  • All outputs of the research cycle including grant proposals
  • Everything from STEM to HSS
  • Granularity – authors can pick and choose the services they need
  • Impact - category labels help define interdisciplinary research
  • It claims to be low cost
  • Submissions open November 2015
It builds on the ARPHA XML authoring platform that eliminates the need for typesetting and allows reviewers to comment directly on the manuscript text as well as providing a full submission and editorial system.

Ross Mounce and Daniel Meitchen, Open Access advocates who have a deep understanding of research methods and research publication are founding editors. Peter Murray-Rust, the Cambridge-based chemist and leading light of Open Access and Open Data sits on its Advisory Board. Murray-Rust is known to be in favour of transparency in the ownership, governance and structure of OA platforms as well as in peer-review. There is some evidence that supporting researchers are responding to perceived publisher self-interest and poor service and a desire to take back control of their publishing.

As Science reported recently, there is scepticism around making grant proposals public due to the competitive nature of research funding. It will be interesting to see how researchers re-use published grant proposals and whether research is done that wouldn’t have been done otherwise.  James Wilsdon’s recent report The Metric Tide pointed out that no firm conclusion can be drawn whether funded researchers receive more citations*.

Source: Priem, J. and Hemminger, B. M. 2012. Decoupling the scholarly journal. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience. Image licensed under CC BY-NC.
Ubiquity Press is developing an open source book workflow management platform in response to demands from authors and editors. The source can be found on GitHub. Its main aim is to assist with monograph publishing. This would make it a direct competitor to PKP’s well-established Open Monograph Press platform. PKP also provide the Open Journal System used at St Andrews to host the Journal of Terrorism Research and other Open Access titles.

Both platforms are the result of conversations between researchers and publishers criticising closed, traditional publishing on the one hand and supporting open, adaptable models on the other.  The effect is driving rapid change in the industry, as reported by Nature.

*Supplementary Report I: Literature Review

2 September 2015

Outernet: the first library in space

Outernet is a company that is organising a so-called ‘library in space’ designed to untether information from the restrictions imposed by the Internet. The Internet as a medium for transmitting information is of course a miraculous one, but access to it is highly dependent on communications infrastructure, which of course many developing countries lack.

Copyright Outernet 2015, https://outernet.is/

There have been projects in the past, and many on-going, to try and bring the Internet to the world on a universal level. One on-going project, which has been met with concerns over neutrality and data security, is the Internet.org project run by Facebook. Google’s Project Loon is another service that hopes to reach digitally isolated regions of the Earth. Project Loon uses balloons that travel around 20km above the surface of the Earth. The balloons utilise the wind currents at different altitudes to maintain their position relative to the Earth’s surface. The balloon can stay in the stratosphere for around 100 days, and can provide connectivity to a ground area of about 40km in diameter.

Outernet is a different sort of project to Loon and Internet.org. Where other projects aim to provide access to the Internet wholesale (although whether internet.org really does this is up for debate), Outernet is a project that seeks to distribute information uploaded to a library, and then distribute that information via satellite.

The lottery of where you are born, and therefore what information you have the rights to access, will eventually be cancelled out by Outernet.

-Outernet Chief Operating Officer Thane Richard International Business Times

Outernet began its operations in June 2014: “Since then we have moved quickly. Outernet is now multicasting on seven satellites covering 99% of humans with 1 GB/day and a test beam of 100 GB/day over Africa and Europe.” (https://outernet.is/about)

Outernet sell receivers called Lighthouses for $99, but they also offer instructions on how you can build your own. The receivers operate in a read only fashion allowing users to pick information (via a Wi-Fi enabled device) to view and download. Filling the shelves of 'Humanity's Public Library' posed significant challenges due to the limited bandwidth available via satellite. This is why the team behind Outernet decided early on to create a systematic set of guidelines for choosing what information should be shared (Outernet guidelines document). Essentially, the information is structured into four tiers.
Copyright Outernet 2015, https://librarian.outernet.is/en/
1. The Core Archive - this is relatively static and features content considered to be of high universal utility and importance. Such things include scientific studies, and classical works of fiction.
2. Globally Curated Content - Similar to the Core Archive but with a the additional emphasis on currency and regularly updated content.
3. Nationally Curated Content - this is information that is of local/national importance - effectively most of this information will be from newspapers.
4. Disaster information - information about natural disasters, wars, etc. is broadcast separately and given highest priority.

One of the early partners of the project was Harvard University, who agreed to upload content from their institutional repository DASH. Peter Suber, Director Scholarly Communications at Harvard said:

“Harvard supports open access to peer-reviewed faculty scholarship, and the participation of our open-access repository in Outernet is entirely consonant with our mission to enhance the distribution, visibility, and usage of Harvard research.” Outernet 2015

Syed Karim, CEO of Outernet, said:
“Broadcasting the academic content of one of the leading universities in the world is an enormous win for information equality.” Outernet 2015

Outernet also has partnerships with Wikipedia, the open access monographs publisher Project Gutenberg (http://blog.outernet.is/project-gutenberg-announces-partnership-with-outernet/), and Open Education Consortium; who offer free resources and tools for education.