University of California extends Open Access policy to all employees, using permissive language

The University of California Office of Scholarly Communication blog announced that the University OA mandate would apply to all University employees, not just tenured faculty. What is interesting, besides the obvious impact of such a huge and prestigious institution throwing its weight behind true OA, is the phrasing of the announcement (emphasis added):

Today the University of California expands the reach of its research publications by issuing a Presidential Open Access Policy, allowing future scholarly articles authored by all UC employees to be freely shared with readers worldwide.

While it may be unusual for associates of the faculty not to be able to publish scholarly work without the same permissions-setting privilege of the regular faculty, it is notable that the emphasis is not on prying off a sliver of the publishers’ privilege of restricting access, but on the authors being able to disseminate their writing to the world, almost making the publishers incidental–yet peer review, an advantage frequently cited as an advantage of publishers, is still available to authors who submit their work to publishers providing it.

OA would be created by the University of California authors placing their articles in eScholarship (UC’s open access repository), so this is common Green OA. The policy, and the institutional repository platform, also grants authors rights to reuse their articles and even to modify them in the future. The aspect promoted is that of increasing authors’ options, not wresting away control from publishers.

ABZU: guide to networked Open Access archaeological data

Suggested by ABZU, a guide to Ancient Near East studies materials, because of its Open Access collaborative nature. It is directed by the head librarian of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, a unit of New York University with interesting exhibits and docents at their museum in Manhattan. ABZU is a project of ETANA (Electronic Tools and Ancient Near East Archives), which supports archeological database development and geolocating archeological data. Thus it is related to other projects such as ArchAtlas and mapping activities in digital humanities in general.

Its collaborative nature was commented on in an interesting essay in Ariadne by ABZU’s creator (Charles Jones) about the impact of electronic communication on the nature of scholarly communication in archaelogy, which has been as slow, deliberative, and published-work based as the discipline itself–more akin to geology than biomedicine or high energy physics. This is another example of the changes as digital humanities develop.

University presses still looking for a new model

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.

Modernizing academic citation practices, and the power of expressive links

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.