Tagged: institutional policies

DH09 Thursday, session 1: libraries!

June 25th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog 0 comments

The first paper was mine; naturally, I’m not going to blog it. But I’ll post a link to a PDF version of my talk here, and will Tweet it too. Stay tuned.


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DH09: ACH general meeting

June 24th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog 0 comments

The Association for Computers and the Humanities wants YOU to be a member. You get an OUP journal subscription out of it! And ACH, one of the organizations putting on this conference, is funded by its membership dues. Do it, folks.

Stefan Sinclair, chair of the ACH jobs effort, is putting on a jobs slam! Like speed-dating, but different. Job seekers are going to spend 30 seconds each presenting themselves, and perhaps they’ll get hooked up with jobs. But first, job opportunities:


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Elsevier gets sneaky

June 19th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog 0 comments

The large and influential academic publisher Elsevier seems to have quietly changed its publication agreement. From the sample agreement [PDF link]:

Assignment of publishing rights
I hereby assign to <Copyright owner> the copyright in the manuscript identified above (government authors not electing to transfer agree to assign a non-exclusive licence) and any supplemental tables, illustrations or other information submitted therewith that are intended for publication as part of or as a supplement to the manuscript (the “Article”) in all forms and media (whether now known or hereafter developed), throughout the world, in all languages, for the full term of copyright, effective when and if the article is accepted for publication. This transfer includes the right to provide the Article in electronic and online forms and systems. No revisions, additional terms or addenda to this Agreement can be accepted without our express written consent. Authors at institutions that place restrictions on copyright assignments, including those that do so due to policies about local institutional repositories, are encouraged to obtain a waiver from those institutions so that the author can accept our publishing agreement. (Emphasis mine.)

So, first they imply that institutions with institutional repositories restrict their faculty’s publishing opportunities by placing “restrictions on copyright assignments.” Not true: most institutions aim to educate their faculty about copyright and make sure that their researchers don’t sign away all rights in perpetuity without knowing exactly what they’re doing. It’s understandable that Elsevier wouldn’t like this, as they want exclusive copyright on work they didn’t perform (though, to be fair, are publishing).

Then Elsevier encourages authors to opt out of an enterprise that is proving to be a significant boon to academics (first and foremost providing them with visibility), implying that this is required for the authors to accept Elsevier’s apparently immutable publishing agreement. No contract is immutable before it is signed, but the language here does strongly suggest this, counting on most people just going along with it because they are unaware, or because they want to publish and don’t have time to pursue this with Elsevier.

It’s true that the very next paragraph, and its continuation later in the document, have different implications:

Retention of Rights for Scholarly Purposes (see Definitions below)
I understand that I retain or am hereby granted (without the need to obtain further permission) rights to use certain versions of the Article for certain scholarly purposes, as described and defined below (“Retained Rights”), and that no rights in patents, trademarks or other intellectual property rights are transferred to the journal.

The Retained Rights include the right to use the Pre-print or Accepted Authors Manuscript for Personal Use, Internal Institutional Use and for Scholarly Posting; and the Published Journal Article for Personal Use and Internal Institutional Use. […]

[definition of scholarly posting] Voluntary posting by an author on open Web sites operated by the author or the author’s institution for scholarly purposes, or (in connection with Pre-prints) pre-print servers, provided there is no Commercial Purpose involved. Deposit in or posting to Special Repositories (such as PubMed Central) is permitted only under specific agreements between Elsevier and the repository and only consistent with Elsevier’s policies concerning such repositories. If the author wishes to refer to the journal in connection with such posting, the Appropriate Bibliographic Citation should be used.

Further confusing: a scholar may post pre-prints to the websites that fit the italicized definition above, which would seem to include institutional repositories. Except Elsevier mentions repositories twice, and both in a permission-denied context: the second one is the Special Repositories such as PubMed.

Seems like language designed to mislead and bully, to me. Elsevier, would you please clarify?

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MLA: print no longer default medium

March 20th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog 0 comments

In case more evidence was needed that scholarly work created in media other than print is, well, scholarly work, MLA makes a statement (as reported by Inside Higher Ed):

Even in citations, print is the default no more. The seventh edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, released Tuesday, states that the Modern Language Association no longer recognizes print as the default medium, and suggests that the medium of publication should be included in each works cited entry. Moreover, the MLA has ceased to recommend inclusion of URLs in citing Web-based works – unless the instructor requires it or a reader would likely be unable to locate the source otherwise.[…]

The latest edition of the standard style guide for language and literary study is thinner than the last (and considerably less shiny) – thinner because it is the first to be complemented by a Web component. The password-protected Web site includes the full (and searchable) text of the handbook, plus 200 online-only examples, and a series of 30-plus-step narratives taking undergraduates through the process of writing a paper, complete with model papers available in PDF form and professors’ sample comments.

The seventh edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, six years in the making, is available for purchase here.

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BU OA: reactions so far

February 19th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog 0 comments

Well! The news of BU’s adoption of an open access plan has spread far and wide. It’s been picked up by DigitalKoans, by the Associated Press, and by Inside Higher Ed among others. Peter Suber’s thoughtful response was one of the first, supplemented by further thoughts after the university published the document approved by the Faculty Council last September.

Institutional repository manager and librarian Dorothea Salo (University of Wisconsin) wrote an interesting post in which she characterizes BU’s initiative as something hybrid compared to what’s gone before. She writes:

It is not a mandate of any kind. It is not a typical rights-retention resolution, either; there is no author addendum attached. Instead, it is a fascinating middle-ground. It mentions gold as well as green OA. It mentions building a faculty publications database, not just an IR; this is important because like it or not, faculty publications databases have real-world uses for faculty and administrators that IRs simply don’t. It takes on tenure and promotion practices straightforwardly.

It is, in short, a start toward a university-wide open-access strategy. That’s fascinating, and to the best of my knowledge, completely novel. The breadth of the conversation is certainly a vast improvement over the library starting an IR all by itself that it then doesn’t promote or work to fill. It’s also an improvement over putting all the local open-access eggs in one basket, whether that basket is an IR or an author’s addendum or a gold-fee fund. Several open-access strategies are still in experimental stages… I think it makes an awful lot of sense to keep one’s implementation options open, focusing on policy and hearts-and-minds instead. [emphasis author’s]

Salo’s comments seem to me partly descriptive, partly suggestive of where we might want to place emphasis as we work on making this thing a reality. Certainly worth discussing, as I’m sure we will.

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BU's OA document

February 17th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog 0 comments

Here (PDF) is the document that describes BU’s current thinking on open access, and what we’re doing about it. Linked here is the version approved by the Faculty Council last September. We welcome and invite constructive feedback on this work in progress.

(Please note: I personally am involved in this project, but am acting more or less as the messenger. I will be unlikely to answer specific questions having to do with policy; other people monitoring this post, however, may be more useful. We’ll be discussing whatever comments we receive amongst ourselves, so if there is no overt reply, please be assured that your input is not only valuable but actively being included in the process.)

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BU takes step toward open access

February 17th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog 0 comments

We’re go! University Council Approves Open Access Plan, BU Today, 17 Feb 2009:

Boston University took a giant step towards greater access to academic scholarship and research on February 11, when the University Council voted to support an open access system that would make scholarly work of the faculty and staff available online to anyone, for free, as long as the authors are credited and the scholarship is not used for profit. […]

“This vote sends a very strong message of support for open and free exchange of scholarly work,” says [University Librarian Robert] Hudson. “Open access means that the results of research and scholarship can be made open and freely accessible to anyone. It really has increased the potential to showcase the research and scholarship of the University in ways that have not been evident to people.”

Of course, we’ll need to be implementing this, which is no trivial matter—just ask Dorothea Salo and the many, many other institutional repository managers out there. And BU is very aware of this:

“Open access will really highlight the tremendous productivity of our faculty,” says [MED professor of medicine Barbara] Millen. “Among the more important things needed to make it work is a collaboration between the libraries and our faculty to get their research onto the Web. It’s not an inconsequential task.”

Yep, they sure know it’s going to take a large amount of resources—and it looks like the university is willing to put in the effort to do this right. It’s a fantastic thing to be part of.

Any repository folk who happen to read this, please share your wisdom and the appropriate warnings. It’ll be a long (exciting!) haul.

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Digital humanities in the news

January 12th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog 0 comments

The past few weeks have been exciting for digital humanities and digital libraries projects, which are getting recognized and rewarded all over the place.

The Mellon Foundation has announced the recipients of its third annual Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration (MATC). Among the recipients are UIUC’s brainchild Archon, archiving and publishing software for archivists and manuscript curators; George Mason University’s Omeka, another web-based publishing platform for collections; King’s College London’s Pliny Project, a scholarly annotation tool; and Villanova University’s VuFind, a library resource portal designed to replace a traditional online catalog.

Mellon isn’t the only source of recognition for digital humanities projects. A collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Endowment for the Humanities has resulted in a fantastic opportunity for three major humanities projects, housed at UVA, UC San Diego and Tufts. Together, these projects will take advantage of 1 million hours of supercomputing time. This will allow humanities scholars to perform hugely computationally intensive research and processing of primary resources, be they Michelangelo’s David or linguistic corpora. Read UVA’s news release here.

Such tremendous recognition of these projects is notable not only in itself but also in conjunction with the upcoming nomination of Elena Kagan to the post of the United States Solicitor General. During her tenure as the Dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan supported the activities of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and most recently welcomed copyright law scholar Lawrence Lessig back to Harvard, to (among other things) direct the Safra Foundation Center for Ethics. Having Kagan as the country’s Solicitor General is reassuring in this time of uncertain copyright law – proponents of open access and Creative-Commons-like open licensing will have an advocate in Kagan, who will (as Lessig discusses) affect policymaking on a federal level.

And speaking of policies and copyright, looks like the recording industry is looking to abandon mass lawsuits in favor of “more effective ways to combat online music piracy.” (WSJ) It’s about time; those costly lawsuits have been both ineffective in accomplishing the RIAA’s anti-piracy goals and a PR disaster (see above-linked article).

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An introduction to Creative Commons licensing

December 9th, 2008 in DigiLib BLog, Uncategorized 0 comments

Created by Jesse Dylan, this brief video provides an introduction to Creative Commons licensing. For more information, go to:


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SPARC 2008: The Policy Environment

December 4th, 2008 in DigiLib BLog 1 comment

The second day of the SPARC Digital Repositories Meeting 2008 in Baltimore was no less exciting than the first, but it was shorter, and also contained less information immediately useful to us at BU. So I nursed my wrists, which had flared up with RSI for the first time in weeks (sign of a good, informative conference, no?) and took fewer notes.

Description from the program: “One of the challenges facing all repositories is the establishment of policies that positively affect the submission, accessibility, and re-use of materials. The wide spectrum of deposit mandates and recommendations currently in effect reflect the diverse nature of governmental and organizational funding objectives. This panel will provide three perspectives on these policies, representing current practices in Europe, Japan and the United States.”

1. David Prosser, Director, SPARC Europe
“Public Policy Drivers for Change in Europe”

Scholarly community, as Prosser sees it, is being impacted by:

  • the knowledge economy;
  • accountability and assessment – value for money spent;
  • e-science/e-research; and
  • concerns regarding access to data and public sector information.

Measuring success can take many forms:

  • impact in the relevant fields measured by number of citations;
  • who is citing whom;
  • number of downloads for each published item;
  • patent registration; and
  • rate of technology transfer.

The EU’s open access policies are still “young” and in the process of being continually tested. It’s been accepted that some situations will require an embargo period for publication of items in a freely accessible repository. This is considered a sub-optimal course of action, so generally the embargo period is encouraged to be set at a maximum of six months, with the ideal being zero – any embargo at all is a compromise, as far as open access advocates are concerned.

Prosser quoted Daniel Coit Gilman, the first president of Johns Hopkins University, as saying the following about the university press in 1878: “It is one of the noblest duties of a university to advance knowledge, and to diffuse it not merely among those who can attend the daily lectures–but far and wide.”

[VZ: To this I will add a quote from the Massachusetts Constitution, to which I was pointed recently:

Wisdom, and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people, being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties; and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people, it shall be the duty of legislatures and magistrates, in all future periods of this commonwealth, to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them; especially the university at Cambridge, public schools and grammar schools in the towns; to encourage private societies and public institutions, rewards and immunities, for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country…

Promotion, rather than hoarding. Preserving rights and liberties by disseminating knowledge. Clear enough.]

[The speaker who described the situation in Japan was too difficult for me to understand, alas, from the back of the room. Tried to find his slides, and failed.]

3. Bonnie Klein, Defense Technical Information Center, USA
U.S. Federal Government Repositories & Public Access to Grant Research

The U.S. is running some federal repositories: CENDI, science.gov, worldwidescience.org. All of these are concerned with federally funded grant research, and provide venues for disseminating publication requirements, as well as distribution of and access to research results. CENDI is an interagency working group of senior scientific and technical information (STI) managers from 13 U.S. federal agencies. WorldWideScience is more of a portal, and was launched in 2007.

In all, 26 government agencies fund over 1000 grant programs, information on all of which is available on grants.gov. The results of work funded by government grants often must be published and/or disseminated openly, unless they’re classified. They take many forms. Publications are the characteristic product (journal articles, peer-reviewed papers, books, dissertations, abstracts, interim and final tech reports). Other common products of federal-grant-funded work are websites, new networks and collaborations, technologies and techniques, inventions, patent applications, licenses, new equipment.

Klein listed some disadvantages of publishing results, and I did not have time to write them down, but mostly they amounted to secret information. There’s a slippery slope between classifying information for, say, security reasons and hoarding it, but that seems to be a problem inherent to knowledge work – I doubt there will ever come a day when we’ll have completely rigid classification criteria for knowledge, given that we keep coming up with new stuff. So we’ll just have to navigate situations as they come up.

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