My first preprint submission

My last post was about open access – making sure that your work is freely available after publication. However, I have also been experimenting with preprints – posting articles prior to publication for open peer review. PeerJ is one publishing model that has been gaining traction recently. They also offered free publication for a trial window and have a monkey as their mascot, so how could I resist? My paper, “Continental variation in wing pigmentation in Calopteryx damselflies is related to the presence of heterospecifics” is available now (with all the data used in the paper) at the PeerJ preprint site, while the manuscript is in review at the PeerJ journal. I thought it worthwhile reflecting on the experience and my growing support for this idea.Read More »

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Be sensible about open access, but it’s still a good thing!

In a recent paper published in Trends in Plant Science, Anurag Angrawal presents a few “reasons to be skeptical of open-access publishing” (Angarwal, 2014) in order to stimulate debate over the current open access (OA) publishing model. Ironically this is behind a paywall so I thought I would summarise the content, which is more reasonable than the title suggests. Here is the gist of the four problems:Read More »

A nice review of the demands of open science

The journal Psychological Inquiry has just made an issue on open access science open access.  I’ve flicked through a couple of articles and they look like a thoroughly interesting combination of pros, cons, and speculations.  In particular, the opening article states the needs of an open science movement very clearly in its abstract:

We call for six changes:

  1. full embrace of digital communication;
  2. open access to all published research;
  3. disentangling publication from evaluation;
  4. breaking the “one article, one journal” model with a grading system for evaluation and diversified dissemination outlets;
  5. publishing peer review; and
  6. allowing open, continuous peer review.

I think these six principles sum-up the needs of the research community quite well.  We are working in an out-of-date and horribly expensive system that is not benefitting scientists or those who use the science.  There has always been pushback against these kinds of measures (see the response in the same issue of Psychological Inquiry by the editor of a different journal), mostly along the lines of “it’s too hard” or “that won’t work”.  However, those sorts of arguments are undermined by a number of journals which are doing precisely these things extremely well.  I’ll mention Cryosphere as an example that I have had experience with.  A few small changes could go a very long way towards improving the system, and we cannot let the editors and publishers try to convince us that it cannot be done!

While we wait for the open access revolution, self-archive!

I’ve just had a paper published on open access in ecology and evolution, so I thought I would let you know what it’s all about.  I wrote a few weeks ago about how you can often post more of a scientific paper online without violating copyright than you might think.  I went through a couple of journals in which I had published articles, and tried to work out what I could self-archive.  The answer was usually “quite a lot”!  Then someone in the comments popped up and mentioned the SHERPA-ROMEO website, which allows you to search for the name of the journal in which your paper has been published and then shows you the policy on self-archiving.  Well, being the data-lover that I am I decided to check out the rest of the journals in ecology and evolutionary biology (all 165 that were listed on Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports).  The results were pretty interesting…

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How much of an academic paper can you post online? Most of it!!

Edit: As was pointed out in the comments, you can find self-archiving info for most journals at http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/ [h/t Laurent]

I have been a bit frustrated about scientific publishing, as you might have been able to tell if you read some of my earlier posts on open access in academia.  I posted earlier this week about Aaron Swartz and the legal predicament in which he found himself when he downloaded huge numbers of scientific papers.  I was frustrated at the lack of access that most people experience to academic publishing, but didn’t want to resort to breaking the law to remedy the situation.  However, a certain amount of that frustration could have been relieved had I just taken the time to figure out where the boundaries lie in the copyright documents that I sign when I publish papers.  I decided to have a look to see how many of my rights remain, and I was quite interested to find out that I can post a reasonable amount of information on the web without breaking any laws.  As ever, this isn’t legal advice.  However, there do seem to be a few generalities that others can use to guide the release of their publications depending upon the publisher that owns the journals within which their papers are published:Read More »

The (current) limits of open access and #PDFtribute

EDIT [18/1/13]: At almost exactly the same time as I was posting about how the revolution was coming, the revolution started.  Mathematicians are setting up community-run, open access journals independent of larger publishers.

I had never heard of Aaron Swartz before he died.  Swartz was 2 1/2 years younger than me and spent his life working on, with, and around the internet and its various limitations.  I have a lot of respect for what he accomplished, not only in terms of the technical progress that he was a part of, but also because of his philosophy about open access to information.  In the wake of his death, supporters took to Twitter to post free copies of their publications, whether or not the material was in the public domain.  This reflects Swartz’s actions in downloading millions of academic papers from the MIT network which precipitated the court case that he was fighting when he chose to end his life.Read More »

Open Education I: Why is open access to education important?

Classroom
Are classrooms outdated? (image by Flickr user frwl)

I have blogged before about why I feel that open access to research and educational materials is an important step forward for society.  This promotes the learning of those who struggle to access conventional learning modalities (e.g. lower socioeconomic groups who are traditionally excluded from universities) and those who are simply casually interested in learning something new without the need to commit to long-term and expensive courses.  The release of data also helps to facilitate the verification of findings in the scientific sphere to avoid the problems associated with scientific publishing.

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