I have longed to write that headline for 30 years, and now Twitter and the Scholarly Web have done it for me! Go to https://AcademicsSay and you will see what I mean. Stuff, not that other stuff, you understand (http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/comment/opinion/the-scholarly-web-30-january-2014/2010843.article explains everything). Appropriately for Twitter, this new service organized something very topical: the Six Word Peer Review. Some items truly representative of academic (and all) our states of mind emerged. I liked “Why didn’t I think of this”, for example, and “Your data contradict my theory Reject” has the right touch to become a classic, while THES observes the accurate truth of an astronomer whose contribution was “Cite Me Cite ME Cite Me”.

Elsewhere the calm waters of academe were less disturbed, though it seems to me to have been another momentous week for STM announcements. As an indicator of change this interview with Duke University about using articles instead of textbooks seems to me to have real resonance (thanks to Adam Hodgkin of Exact Editions):
http://blogs.plos.org/blog/2014/02/03/an-interview-with-david-johnston/#.Uu-yjhoXJFo.twitter:
“Students are asked to read open access journal articles that cover the main aspects taught in the course. In this case we have focused on using PLOS ONE articles that are now all collected into the Marine Megafauna Collection over at PLOS Collections. We have also developed an iPad app that is useful for teaching marine megafauna-based classes called Cachalot. This app, available on the iTunes store for free, incorporates the PLOS ONE articles with other content written by experts around the world and is released under an open access license. We are not using the app directly in the online class this time as it is only available on iOS, not through the android or web-based platforms – yet.”

So whatever we think about the ongoing debate in scholarly communications concerning the limited impact of OA in research, we may be looking at much greater impact in Higher Education. How ironic would it be if the real impact of OA was on textbook publishers and not on journal publishers. And how equally ironic it would be if the journal research publishers, so long the butt of academic malice, were able to flex their business models and go into fresh territory just as pressure mounts on the journal as the first instance, first peer review point of publication. Macmillan, through their Digital Science subsidiary, have long been the laboratory of experimentation in software and services for supporting research workflow, which I would broadly argue is the direction of progress for those who wish to escape the self-publishing, post-publication peer review which is to follow (flood metaphors come easily in the UK this month). Each to his own Ark, say I, but I am very interested that two large and historically traditional players have chosen Macmillan Digital Sciences vessels this week. I was impressed in the first instance by the Taylor and Francis decision to adopt figshare. Putting all of the evidential data, videos, tabular matter, graphs, filesets and datasets for each T&F article onto figshare immediately gives T&F authors a clickable link that they and their readers can use in T&F Online, but it also creates a new route to the online service, and a new source of metrics. Each figshare entry has a Datacite DOI so that the evidential material can be cited in its own right. This is a practical step which puts users first.

This new service went live on 30 January, as Springer were consummating another deal with the Macmillan Digital Science people (http://www.springer.com/about+springer/media/pressreleases?SGWID=0-11002-6-1453458-0)
“Whereas altmetrics were used in the past at Springer for annual journal reports and editorial board meetings, or to track a journal’s performance, now this information is being gathered and shared widely with authors, SpringerLink users and the general public as well,” commented Martijn Roelandse, Senior Editor at Springer. “Springer is always trying to find new ways that it can make SpringerLink and the research we publish more useful, and partnering with Altmetric to provide this data fits perfectly with that mission.” Altmetric said:
“Providing this information on SpringerLink to readers, researchers and the general public is a great way of showcasing the wider impact and influence of each article, which is increasingly important to scientists everywhere.”
The number of shares for any given article will now be listed alongside citations on articles’ abstract pages on SpringerLink. While the “citations” link will redirect users to springer.com, the “shares” link will send users to Altmetric (altmetric.com)where they can dive into the discussions around any given piece of research.”

So in the space of a few days two major players indicated that they could no longer withstand the pressure to provide data for articles and data about articles. And at the same time the traditional provider of services to researcher/authors and to information about impact also gave notice of changes to come. First Thomson Reuters made a major announcement about the renewal of Web of Science. In its tug of war with Elsevier SciVal, doing nothing at this point clearly spells disaster, so we find the emergence of a next generation strategy that embraces further development of the landmark agreement with Google Scholar, the provision of the Chinese Science Citation Database and of SciELO (citation data from Spanish and Portuguese language sources) will help, with the Korean database to come. Google means going Open Web, and that helps too. Users who have complained about delays in Open Access article coverage will be pleased to see that being addressed as well.

Yet for many watchers the most interesting Thomson Reuters announcement of the year so far came on 31 January, with the launch of Pro-View eReader Platform 1.8. While it feels to me as if ProView has been around a long time, I recognize that this may be because of an in-bred scepticism that the eBook is the answer, rather than a very transitory step towards an answer. But I have never seen a giant publisher do something like this: an eReader, globally available, Windows and Mac, iPad and Android, capable of importing ebook content from any Thomson (law, tax, science, finance etc) source along with the requisite productivity tools. Users can filter and search notes, highlights, bookmarks; they can move those elements into new editions, even where the text changes; and of course they can create and export PDFs of their own. And you can get this app in any/either Appstore. Seems to me like one of those changes where we all scratch our heads and say “Wonder how we got by without doing this already!” (http://thomsonreuters.com/proview)

A long week of many announcements and rather too many publishing press releases. Come to think of it, we might post some of them at “Shit Publishers Say”. Could be wildly popular on Twitter.

keep looking »