Archive for November, 2009

Updates sent to Twitter, November 2009

Updates related to OA, sent to Twitter during November 2009:


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arXiv repository to be enhanced

Stimulus grant to enhance arXiv e-preprints for scientists by Bill Steele, Chronicle Online, Cornell University, November 17, 2009. Excerpts:

Soon, Cornell’s e-print arXiv of scientific papers will evolve from a simple database to a place where “authors, articles, databases and readers talk to each other” to help users identify a work’s main concepts, see research reports in context and easily find related work.


Other enhancements will provide interoperability with such research sites as PubMedCentral and provisions to allow scientists to contribute in newer, more flexible text formats.

Researchers might be more enthusiastic about participating in open access journals and repositories if they could see that their work was more accessible and usable, [Paul] Ginsparg suggested. “And perhaps the academic community will again play a role at the forefront as the semantic Web 3.0 rolls out,” he said. Academic publishing has lagged behind the commercial Internet in providing interactive enhancements that today’s students take for granted, he explained. “Configuring research communications infrastructure for the next generation of researchers requires getting into the heads of near-term future researchers — undergrads and grad students — coming of age in the Google/Facebook/Twitter era.”

Found via posts in [Digital & Scholarly] and [Open Access News].

Comment: The arXiv repository has been at the forefront of the Green route to OA. The proposed enhancements may once again permit it to play a leadership role. These enhancements are intended to add value of a kind that will enhance the appeal of repositories to a wider range of users.

Green OA mandates implemented by funding agencies and universities can be regarded as “sticks”, designed to push appropriate content into repositories. Enhancements of the kind being proposed for the arXiv can be regarded as “carrots”, designed to pull a variety of users toward repositories. The latter approach has, so far, received less attention from OA advocates than the former.

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Article-level metrics getting attention

The very interesting publication Article-Level Metrics and the Evolution of Scientific Impact Export by Cameron Neylon and Shirley Wu (PLoS Biol 2009(Nov); 7(11): e1000242 [Epub 2009(Nov 17)][PubMed Citation]) is receiving attention on FriendFeed [here] and Topsy [here] and has been bookmarked on Connotea [here].

There’s also a related blog post, A brief analysis of commenting at BMC, PLoS, and BMJ by Shirley Wu on her blog, I was lost but now I live here, November 18, 2009. Excerpt:

One of the many issues Cameron and I touched on was the problem of commenting. Most people probably aren’t aware of the problem; after all, commenting is alive and well on the internet in most places you look! But click over to PLoS or BioMed Central (BMC) and the comment sections are the digital equivalent of rolling tumbleweed.

Comment: A major long-term benefit of OA seems likely to be the development of a much more efficient and equitable system that will make full use of the potential of the Internet to facilitate the quality-filtration of new knowledge. The available set of relevant online resources continues to evolve rapidly.

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Information use by researchers in the life sciences

Life scientists’ information use – one size does not fit all, posted by Sarah Gentleman on Nature Network, November 2, 2009. Excerpt:

Key findings from the report include

  • Researchers use informal and trusted sources of advice from colleagues, rather than institutional service teams, to help identify information sources and resources
  • The use of social networking tools for scientific research purposes is far more limited than expected
  • Data and information sharing activities are mainly driven by needs and benefits perceived as most important by life scientists rather than ‘top-down’ policies and strategies
  • There are marked differences in the patterns of information use and exchange between research groups active in different areas of the life sciences, reinforcing the need to avoid standardised policy approaches

See also: Patterns of information use and exchange: case studies of researchers in the life sciences, Research Information Network, November 2, 2009. Excerpt:

The report was developed using an innovative approach to capture the day-to-day patterns of information use in seven research teams from a wide range of disciplines, from botany to clinical neuroscience. The study undertaken over 11 months and involving 56 participants found that there is a significant gap between how researchers behave and the policies and strategies of funders and service providers. This suggests that the attempts to implement such strategies have had only a limited impact.


If you’d like to contribute to the discussion, join our forum on Nature Networks and follow our hashtag on Twitter #casestudieslife

Found via: Patterns of information use and exchange: case studies of researchers in the life sciences | Research Information Network, posted by Bill Hooker to FriendFeed, November 8, 2009.

Comment: Found from an informal and trusted source of advice (with the help of a social networking tool, FriendFeed ).

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What’s the future of OA?

Tom Wilson, in a message sent to the BOAI Forum on October 31, 2009, suggested that “… any strategy [for the OA movement] evolved today on the assumption that the future is likely to be the same as the past is probably going to fail“. Other excerpts:

No one knows exactly how the ‘open access’ movement will pan out ….. Strong advocacy of repositories is strong advocacy of the status quo in scholarly communication. ….. scholars are increasingly taking matters into their own hands and producing free OA journals on some kind of subsidy basis and any economist will tell you that social benefit is maximised by this form of OA.

Stevan Harnad, in a response to the same Forum, has reiterated some of his well-known perspectives:

The purpose of the Open Access movement is not to knock down the publishing industry. The purpose is to provide Open Access to refereed research articles. ….. The way to take matters in their [scholars’] own hands is to deposit the refereed final drafts of all their journal articles in their university’s OA Repository.

Comment: My own opinion is that both perspectives are tenable. I agree with Stevan Harnad that the most important short-term goal of the OA movement is to “provide Open Access to refereed research articles“. I also agree with Tom Wilson that ”No one knows exactly how the ‘open access’ movement will pan out” over the longer term, and that “the status quo in scholarly communication” seems likely to be unstable.

However, if the “status quo” is identified as a somewhat bewildering variety of options for scholarly communication that are changing quickly as technologies evolve, and are varying from field to field (and even across sub-disciplines in the same field), then this “status quo” may persist for quite a few years, before a smaller number of “best practices” become firmly established.

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Updates sent to Twitter, October 2009

Updates related to OA, sent to Twitter during October 2009:

RT @pedromts: Should you be tweeting? Cell explains microblogging to scientists [October 29]:

First phase of PMC Canada has been launched [October 21]:

RT @BoraZ: #PLoS Medicine: Five Years of Access and Activism [October 21]:

Who Owns Medical News? [October 21]:

More about compliance with Wellcome Trust’s OA policy [October 15]: (via

Fwd: Open Access 101, from SPARC [October 15]: (via

Translational medicine gets a new journal [Author is skeptical. Not OA. Bench to bucks?] [October 10]:

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