Scott Sherman writes in the Nation (“University presses under fire“) that university presses are scorned by librarians enamored of Open Access. He also hints at a cultural difference, with presses following the hallowed craft of attracting authors, nurturing them through editing, negotiating with an editorial board, designing the book, marketing, getting new titles reviewed; whereas libraries are more concerned with currency and access than physical books (despite the sentimentality of many librarians).
Sherman calls on foundations to give presses money to keep presses alive. He cites the Ithaka report (2007) calling for a new collaboration for a shared vision of scholarly communication (whatever it may be). Instead of simple infusions of cash to keep presses afloat, he suggests renewed support for modernization (digitization). Perhaps a return to first principles is called for. Newspapers are struggling with their old business model, but they are critical as news-gathering organizations. Book publishers, and their cousins the booksellers, are still a potent force for disseminating creative work and giving points of view a voice (think of feminist and minority publishers and newspapers, and the book stores being gathering places for thought communities.) Digitization will result in consolidation (as is happening with newspapers), but is flexible enough to offer immediacy, access, and individuation as rewards for taking the plunge into the future.
Patrick Dunleavy (of the London School of Economics and Political Science) proposes not only a streamlining, but an expansion of the potential of referencing (“Academic citation practices need to be modernized: references should lead to full texts wherever possible“). Starting with a call for journal abbreviations to be less esoteric and volume and issue numbers to lose their importance, he points out that references now should be links, i.e., URLs, so we are pointing readers not to hyper-specific slivers of the source, but acquainting them with the whole scope of the source. Page numbers are now passé (and subject to change over time).
Most interesting, however, is his call for links to be more than identifiers of precise snippets: make the link text a short phrase from the passage, so the reader can click on the link and then search within the resulting page for the referenced passage. But beyond that, making a greater portion of one’s own text the link text results in a more expressive link (a usability principle–an extension of the deprecation of “click here” links) that connotes the argument made by the linked article, and thus offers more useful direction to the reader. Also, links can be skimmed for in a page, and possibly extracted, grouped, and sorted.
Peter Suber, proponent par excellence of Open Access, has put forth an opinion less controversial than it seemed at first. He advocates that scholars should cite Open Access works preferentially. As Sean Burns of the University of Kentucky in libfocus points out, he is not proposing that paywalled sources be neglected, but that Open Access versions of such articles be cited.
The U.S. National Science Foundation showed its support for research data per se in a press release about the Research Data Alliance (RDA). The RDA is a new organization with an open structure–still not heavily populated yet–for researchers and data professionals to come together in comment boards and occasional face-to-face meetings. When it finally gets going it should be a nice complement to IASSIST.