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Comparing Published Scientific Journal Articles to Their Pre-print Versions

Academic publishers claim that they add value to scholarly communications by coordinating reviews and contributing and enhancing text during publication. These contributions come at a considerable cost: U.S. academic libraries paid $1.7 billion for serial subscriptions in 2008 alone. Library budgets, in contrast, are flat and not able to keep pace with serial price inflation. We have investigated the publishers' value proposition by conducting a comparative study of pre-print papers and their final published counterparts. This comparison had two working assumptions: 1) if the publishers' argument is valid, the text of a pre-print paper should vary measurably from its corresponding final published version, and 2) by applying standard similarity measures, we should be able to detect and quantify such differences. Our analysis revealed that the text contents of the scientific papers generally changed very little from their pre-print to final published versions. These findings contribute empirical indicators to discussions of the added value of commercial publishers and therefore should influence libraries' economic decisions regarding access to scholarly publications.
From [1604.05363] Comparing Published Scientific Journal Articles to Their Pre-print Versions

KU Libraries adds nearly 1,000 zines to radical lit collection

By their very nature, zines were almost meant to be enjoyed briefly, then fade away. The University of Kansas Libraries is now home to a substantial collection of fan-made, self-published magazines — better known simply as zines — that provide a window into politics, fandom, music, community, history and the idea of “do it yourself” communications both before and after the Internet became a dominant vehicle for communication and expression.
From KU Libraries adds nearly 1,000 zines to radical lit collection | The University of Kansas

The importance of teaching online privacy at the college

I really like the closing paragraph here! I might replace "The College" with "The College Library" :-) http://flathatnews.com/2016/04/04/the-importance-of-teaching-online-privacy-at-the-college/
If the College’s mission truly is to mold us into informed citizens and consumers, an excellent place for it to start would be with this issue of data security and online privacy. Even a brief session during orientation would be an improvement; if not to teach us how to be fully secure in our data, then simply to let us know that it is not, by itself, fully secure. An even better option, as suggested by Tracy Mitrano — an academic dean at the University of Massachusetts Cybersecurity Certificate Programs — would be a GER course in information literacy. Only then could the College say it produces truly informed citizens.
From The importance of teaching online privacy at the college | Flat Hat News

A spiritual successor to Aaron Swartz is angering publishers all over again

But suddenly in 2016, the tale has new life. The Washington Post decries it as academic research's Napster moment, and it all stems from a 27-year-old bioengineer turned Web programmer from Kazakhstan (who's living in Russia). Just as Swartz did, this hacker is freeing tens of millions of research articles from paywalls, metaphorically hoisting a middle finger to the academic publishing industry, which, by the way, has again reacted with labels like "hacker" and "criminal." Meet Alexandra Elbakyan, the developer of Sci-Hub, a Pirate Bay-like site for the science nerd. It's a portal that offers free and searchable access "to most publishers, especially well-known ones." Search for it, download, and you're done. It's that easy. "The more known the publisher is, the more likely Sci-Hub will work," she told Ars via e-mail. A message to her site's users says it all: "SCI-HUB...to remove all barriers in the way of science."
From A spiritual successor to Aaron Swartz is angering publishers all over again | Ars Technica

How to Make Psychology Studies More Reliable

There’s another way, says Eric Luis Uhlmann from INSEAD: Get your own studies independently replicated before they are published. He is leading by example. In August 2014, he asked 25 independent teams to repeat all of his group’s unpublished experiments, before he submitted them to academic journals.
From How to Make Psychology Studies More Reliable - The Atlantic

The Future of Academic Style: Why Citations Still Matter in the Age of Google

Academic style, however, is another thing entirely. This is not to say that there is not “style” in academic writing, contrary to both popular belief and a lot of self-skewering academic jokes. Academic style is dull, jargon-filled, overly ornate, hubristic, timid, and generally bad, and no one says so more than academics themselves. Eric Hayot dug into this reflexive disdain in a recent essay in the journal Critical Inquiry, exploring the oddities of the ways that literary scholars seem to think about scholarly writing, pointing out that “it’s weird for a profession to have one theory of language for its objects and another for its products.” If scholars genuinely care about academic writing, Hayot suggests, we might begin by giving up our contempt for the aspects that make it uniquely our own.
From The Future of Academic Style: Why Citations Still Matter in the Age of Google - The Los Angeles Review of Books

Library Leadership for the Digital Age

To understand the demands for digital leadership, they conducted a comprehensive study of successful digital organizations, as defined by the extent to which they met their mission and achieved profitability. They found ten surprisingly consistent practices among these digital leaders, and for purposes of making the case for digital leadership in libraries; I am borrowing their ten descriptors of successful digital organizations as my headings and adding some interpretation to connect these practices from a broader context of organizational types specifically to academic libraries. . So what are these successful digital organizations doing? 1. Building a comprehensive digital strategy that can be shared broadly and repeatedly across the organization. 2. Embedding digital literacy across the organization. 3. Renewing focus on business fundamentals 4. Embracing the new rules of customer engagement. 5. Understanding global differences in how people access and use the Internet. 6. Developing the organization's analytical skills. 7. Focusing on the customer experience. 8. Developing leaders with skill sets that bridge traditional and digital expertise. 9. Paying close attention to cultural fit when recruiting digital leaders. 10. Understanding the motivations of top talent.
From

Publicly Funded Research Should Be Publicly Available #FASTR

When you pay for federally funded research, you should be allowed to read it. That’s the simple premise of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (S.779, H.R.1477), which was just passed out of a major Senate committee. Under FASTR, every federal agency that spends more than $100 million on grants for research would be required to adopt an open access policy. Although the bill gives each agency some flexibility to develop a policy appropriate to the types of research it funds, each one would require that published research be available to the public no later than 12 months after publication.
From Tell Congress: It’s Time to Move FASTR | Electronic Frontier Foundation

San Jose State University library attack highlights safety issues

“Academic libraries, in particular those that are at public institutions, want to allow walk-in access, certainly,” said Ann Campion Riley, president of the Association of Research and College Libraries and acting director of libraries at the University of Missouri at Columbia. “But we do have to balance that with security concerns for students and other users.”

From San Jose State University library attack highlights safety issues

Handful of Biologists Went Rogue and Published Directly to Internet

It was a small act of information age defiance, and perhaps also a bit of a throwback, somewhat analogous to Stephen King’s 2000 self-publishing an e-book or Radiohead’s 2007 release of a download-only record without a label. To commemorate it, she tweeted the website’s confirmation under the hashtag #ASAPbio, a newly coined rallying cry of a cadre of biologists who say they want to speed science by making a key change in the way it is published.

From Handful of Biologists Went Rogue and Published Directly to Internet - The New York Times

Should All Research Papers Be Free? - The New York Times

Possibly the biggest barrier to open access is that scientists are judged by where they have published when they compete for jobs, promotions, tenure and grant money. And the most prestigious journals, such as Cell, Nature and The Lancet, also tend to be the most protective of their content.

“The real people to blame are the leaders of the scientific community — Nobel scientists, heads of institutions, the presidents of universities — who are in a position to change things but have never faced up to this problem in part because they are beneficiaries of the system,” said Dr. Eisen. “University presidents love to tout how important their scientists are because they publish in these journals.”

From Should All Research Papers Be Free? - The New York Times

At Calif. Campuses, A Test For Free Speech, Privacy And Cybersecurity

A controversy over a secretly installed data monitoring system is simmering at university campuses across California.

Last summer, hackers broke into the computer network at the UCLA medical center. A few months later, the University of California system's president quietly ordered a new security system to monitor Internet traffic on all UC campuses.

"And the people who had to put the box in place were ordered to do so and also ordered to keep quiet about it," says Ethan Ligon, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of California, Berkeley.

From At Calif. Campuses, A Test For Free Speech, Privacy And Cybersecurity : All Tech Considered : NPR

This renowned mathematician is bent on proving academic journals can cost nothing

But in the four years that have passed, little has changed. Despite a decades-old "open access" movement — which aims to put research findings in the public domain instead of languishing behind expensive paywalls — the traditional approach to publishing remains firmly entrenched.

So Gowers is now launching his second attack, this time with a lot more intention.

This week, he debuted a new online mathematics journal called Discrete Analysis. The nonprofit venture is owned and published by a team of scholars. With no publisher middlemen, access will be completely free for all.

From This renowned mathematician is bent on proving academic journals can cost nothing - Vox

The Plain Person’s Guide to Plain Text Social Science

As a beginning graduate student in the social sciences, what sort of software should you use to do your work? More importantly, what principles should guide your choices? These pages offer some answers. The short version is: you should use tools that give you more control over the process of data analysis and writing. I recommend you write prose and code using a good text editor; analyze quantitative data with R or Stata; minimize error by storing your work in a simple format (plain text is best), and make a habit of documenting what you’ve done. For data analysis, consider using a format like RMarkdown and tools like Knitr to make your work more easily reproducible for your future self. Use Pandoc to turn your plain-text documents into PDF, HTML, or Word files to share with others. Keep your projects in a version control system. Back everything up regularly. Make your computer work for you by automating as many of these steps as you can.

From The Plain Person’s Guide to Plain Text Social Science

The manuscript-editing marketplace

Launched in October 2015 and still in beta testing, Peerwith is a forum through which researchers can find and negotiate with service providers such as editors, translators, statisticians and illustrators to improve their research papers. The site boasts “hundreds of experts”, most of them with expertise in the social sciences and humanities. Users post a job request detailing the subject area of the document, its length and the desired turnaround time. Experts then bid for the job, and both experts and users rate each other afterwards. Peerwith's business model is akin to freelance marketplaces such as Upwork, says co-founder Joris van Rossum, who left the journal publisher Elsevier to start his firm, except with a strictly academic focus.

From The manuscript-editing marketplace : Nature News & Comment

Libraries are Leading the Charge in Open-Access Publishing Revolution

There are always ways to free your work for less money, of course. You could start a Wordpress blog and post the whole thing there, or publish with a print-on-demand independent press, or even self-publish on Amazon. Like the rest of the publishing industry fringe, this is a wild and woolly world where things like review standards aren’t always up to academic snuff. Getting people to actually read your stunning work of self-published genius can be something of an uphill battle because you don’t have a big, well-respected name behind your book to certify that yes, this thinker is thinking worthwhile thoughts. Free open access has potential, of course—scads of it—but until a large institution throws its weight behind the concept, it’s likely to remain a fun social theory set in a hypothetical world where things don’t cost money.

From Libraries are Leading the Charge in Open-Access Publishing Revolution — Blog — Foreword Reviews

Yahoo Webscope: A reference library of interesting and scientifically useful datasets

The Yahoo Webscope Program is a reference library of interesting and scientifically useful datasets for non-commercial use by academics and other scientists.

All datasets have been reviewed to conform to Yahoo's data protection standards, including strict controls on privacy. We have a number of datasets that we are excited to share with you.

Yahoo is pleased to make these datasets available to researchers who are advancing the state of knowledge and understanding in web sciences. The datasets are only available for academic use by faculty and university researchers who agree to the Data Sharing Agreement.

From Webscope | Yahoo Labs

When does peer review make no damn sense?

The part of the above quote I want focus on, though, is the phrase “non-peer-reviewed.” Peer reviewed papers have errors, of course (does the name “Daryl Bem” ring a bell?). Two of my own published peer-reviewed articles had errors so severe as to destroy their conclusions! But that’s ok, nobody’s claiming perfection. The claim, I think, is that peer-reviewed articles are much less likely to contain errors, as compared to non-peer-reviewed articles (or non-peer-reviewed blog posts). And the claim behind that, I think, is that peer review is likely to catch errors.

And this brings up the question I want to address today: What sort of errors can we expect peer review to catch?

From When does peer review make no damn sense? - Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

Open-source textbooks gain in push for college affordability

An early adopter of open source textbooks, Neth said he turned to the new technology out of frustration with spiraling prices of commercial textbooks.
"It's seeing the costs go up every semester and almost feeling powerless," Neth said.
Universities and state governments are lining up behind the cause as a way to make college more affordable. The open textbooks, produced with publicly available material, are issued to students for free or a small fraction of the hundreds of dollars they typically spend annually on books.

From Open-source textbooks gain in push for college affordability

Project Seeks to Preserve the Digital Scholarly Record

“None of the individual institutions, including UVA, had a model that committed to long-term preservation solutions,” Sites said. “We each had a model in which we were keeping content until it broke, and we were faced with questions of how to preserve the digital works of our scholars for the long term.”

From Project Seeks to Preserve the Digital Scholarly Record | UVA Today

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