Unexpected idea in the packing area

Good stuff. The reference to Taylor makes up for the lack of reference to Humboldt. We might even think of the Tayloring of the university as its de-Humboldtification. Here’s a quote from Taylor on “scientific management”:

It is only through enforced standardization of methods, enforced adoption of the best implements and working conditions, and enforced cooperation that this faster work can be assured. And the duty of enforcing the adoption of standards and enforcing this cooperation rests with management alone.

It does seem many believe the university can benefit from such Tayloring ….

Phylopic Phryday Photo

Phylopic Phryday Photo

Haliaeetus by Steve Hillebrand/U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (source photo), T. Michael Keesey (vectorization)

The library, the cloud, and the digital scholar

Mark Carrigan and I have continued our discussion begun here about the difference between various media (in this case, blogs and Moleskine notebooks). We haven’t discussed aesthetics, yet — but, to be clear, I’m not into technophilia.

Dalek, you look maaaavelous! Makes me want to exterminate you.

Instead, our conversation took a turn toward libraries. Initially, I suggested that archiving and preservation were more of a problem for digital products than for physical books or notebooks. But that’s not quite right. After all, libraries are figuring out how to go digital while still archiving and preserving things.

I then suggested a comparison that I now don’t agree with: that the library is like a bank, while the cloud is like a mattress. (Yes, I apologized to libraries at the time for comparing them to banks.) Part of what I don’t like about this comparison is that it evokes security concerns. Yes, these exist and are legitimate concerns for folks storing things — even thoughts, such as in a blog — online. Privacy and trust are even bigger issues these days (I’m looking at you, NSA).

But when it comes to scholarly communication, I think we have additional needs — needs libraries fill, even if we don’t appreciate it.

I then suggested that a more apt comparison was the museum. That captures something that goes beyond mere security concerns and includes things like preservation and curation. But even that’s not quite enough. This post suggests ‘stewardship’ as the proper role of the library. To me, this is closer to what I was getting at. It includes a kind of sustainability angle. Libraries collect, preserve, and help disseminate our work with an eye to future generations.

Now, maybe we only care about that sort of stewardship for our official scholarly work — you know, books and articles. But if we’re serious about blurring the traditional distinctions of scholarly communication — and I am — then I think we also need to be concerned about the stewardship of our blogs. It’s this sort of vague awareness brought about by my engagement with libraries and librarians that prompted me to join this list of academic blogs being put together by Lee Skallerup Bessette (@readywriting).

As usual, though, the librarians are way ahead of us in thinking about this stuff philosophically. ‘We scholars’ really ought to engage with our libraries much more than we do. We might actually learn something.


A Reply to Schadt’s Rant on Strawberries, Open Access Licenses, and the Reuse of Published Papers

This rant has been lighting up the twittersphere — at least, the little corner of it inhabited by people I follow. And for good reason — it’s a good read, and the comments are also well worth reading!

A Rant on Strawberries, Open Access Licenses, and the Reuse of Published Papers | C.W. Schadt | ORNL-UTK Microbial Ecology Lab.

I’ve got something to add to the discussion that goes beyond a comment, which is why I’m replying here. In my reply, I’ll assume you have already clicked on the link and read the initial rant and comments. My basic point is this: this sort of reuse of published papers has little to do with open access (OA) or OA licenses.

It’s tempting to blame open access — publishers, licenses, and the whole OA movement be damned! To his credit, Schadt doesn’t do so. Instead, he expresses surprise mixed with a sort of indignation that someone could take his published, freely available paper, slap it into an anthology, and then sell it for profit — and all this without so much as a word to him or the other author of the paper. Schadt lists 5 reasons he’s really irked, which I won’t list here (all strike me as good reasons, and interestingly are reminiscent of many of the reasons humanists give in favor of CC-BY-NC licenses over CC-BY). But here is a more troubling paragraph:

Anyway, Im not sure who to be more upset with.  The “editor” and publisher that republished the article, or myself for not noticing the reuse clause in the open access license.  From now on I vow that I will pay closer attention to this, and it may influence where I end up submitting future papers.

Schadt admits that he should have paid more attention to the license under which the paper was published, and then suggests that he will have to consider whether he wants to publish future papers under the same license in the future. Ross Mounce (@rmounce) comments that Schadt shouldn’t blame the license, which is a good thing: CC-BY prevents authors from blocking reuse “for no good reason.” Of course, this leaves open the question of what would constitute a good reason for not wanting your paper republished without either your knowledge or your permission. It’s a good question, and one that is at the heart of the debate surrounding CC-BY. But the really good thing about CC-BY and cases like Schadt’s is that they draw our attention, or should, to the question of copyright.

In fact, it’s entirely possible for the same scenario to be played out anytime an author gives up her copyrights, whether to an open access publisher using CC-BY or not.

I know this because essentially the same thing happened to me. My co-author and I published this article in Issues in Science and Technology. You’ll notice that at the bottom of the page, it clearly states the terms of copyright:

Copyright © 2007. University of Texas at Dallas. All rights reserved. 800 W Campbell Road, Richardson, TX 75080-3021.

The hyperlink takes you to the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), where it’s possible* to obtain permission to republish the article. Once permission has been purchased (yes, it costs money that varies with the venue and circulation of the intended reuse), it’s possible — and now legally permissible — to republish the article.

See, the California Science Teachers Association did it here for an issue on “Ethics in Science” that can be purchased for what appears to be $10 plus tax.

Of course, all this was done without contacting either my co-author or me. I was surprised to find it one day on Google when searching for the hyperlink to the original publication. I wrote a nice (I thought) email to the California Science Teachers Association asking them why they had republished our article without contacting us first. They wrote back that they’d obtained the required legal permissions through CCC and were under no obligation to contact us. And, legally speaking, they were right. I still think this move is a breach of etiquette and is ethically questionable, even if it’s perfectly legal.

Now, I don’t mind supporting science teachers. I hope they made their money back, and then some. But it would have been nice to receive an email telling us how happy they were to republish our article — or even asking us whether we might be happy about it and would care to add it to our CVs. I might even have appreciated a free copy of the issue. It looks pretty interesting. Instead, I got the legally correct answer, which came off as a double rudeness.  Needless to say, that left quite a bad taste in my mouth, and I do not include this republication on my CV.

But my hurt feelings (or Schadt’s) aren’t the point here. I signed over my copyrights, which means my feelings are irrelevant. Schadt signed over his, which means the same. But it has nothing to do with whether the license is CC-BY or all rights reserved by the entity to whom one has signed over one’s copyrights. Once an author gives up her copyrights, she has no legal right to reassert them (short of obtaining permission from the new holder of those copyrights). This isn’t about open access or the CC-BY license. It’s about copyrights. This is what makes resources like SPARC’s author addendum so important.

I’m not upset with Schadt, who hasn’t done anything wrong. I’m not upset with Ross Mounce, either. I think this is a discussion we need to be having. (Oh, and like Schadt, to be clear, I’m not upset at strawberries, either.) What would be upsetting to me, however, is if cases like Schadt’s were used uncritically to disparage open access.  What would please me is if authors would take some time to educate themselves about copyrights. I promise it’s interesting — and it may even affect you, one day.


* When I click on the copyright hyperlink, I get the CCC site and it asks me to search for the article. I can’t find it by searching the title. There is an additional hyperlink on the article page that takes one directly to the CCC site to purchase permissions for the article here: For more information regarding reproduction of this article, please click here. However, when I follow the link and try to get a quick price quote, for some reason I keep getting a ‘sorry, we cannot process orders for international customers’ notice.

Springer has sprung — but we have to wait longer to see green

Here’s an excellent post by Richard Poynder (@RickyPo) containing an interview with Springer on their decision to increase the embargo for Green OA — where authors can deposit their published manuscripts in institutional repositories.

The increase is a fairly dramatic one: from no embargo period to one year.

Instead of allowing free access to published articles immediately (albeit in institutional repositories rather than on the journal websites), folks without subscriptions will now have to wait a year to see published research. I wonder how many researchers will now choose to publish in non-Springer journals as a result of this decision.

The digital scholar

I couldn’t sleep last night, so I opened up my computer. That’s guaranteed not to help me sleep, of course. But the work of a digital scholar is never done.

I checked Twitter while my Outlook inbox was updating. It’s interesting how these two digital tools work in concert. Twitter is ephemeral and invites quick scans. Email, it turns out, slows me down. And, since email also takes longer to load, I usually start my day checking Twitter first.

Today, I hit on a tweet by Mark Carrigan (@mark_carrigan) to this post on the Sociological Imagination blog. It’s worth reading in its own right, but it also led me to look up Martin Weller’s (@mweller) book The Digital Scholar, which is available to read free here, and which is related to this blog. I’ve just started to read it, but there’s something approaching a phenomenology of digital scholarship going on there. I’ll be interested to compare it with Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s (@kfitz) Planned Obsolescence, which also has an associated blog. I wonder how much each of them are having similar thoughts to mine. It’s interesting to be able to discover community in the digital realm. I even doubt that the ease of communication these days (in the sense of Bataille’s ‘weak communication’) interferes with the sort of communication (in the sense of Bataille’s ‘strong communication’) that makes community possible.

As I was flitting back and forth between email, this post, and twitter, Mark Carrigan tweeted something about the difference between blogs and physical notebooks. I think he’s right that there’s a difference. I also think one can still use blogs much as one used notebooks in the past. I’m doing so here. But I’ll also publish this post so others can add their thoughts to mine.

On being tweeted to the top

Our results show that scientists who interacted more frequently with journalists had higher h-indices, as did scientists whose work was mentioned on Twitter. Interestingly, however, our data also showed an amplification effect. Furthermore, interactions with journalists had a significantly higher impact on h-index for those scientists who were also mentioned on the micro-blogging platform than for those who were not, suggesting that social media can further amplify the impact of more traditional outlets.

via Opinion: Tweeting to the Top | The Scientist Magazine®.

I’m surprised there’s no mention of altmetrics in this piece. Results are relevant for altmetrics, though. Hoping they’ve published the study in more detail somewhere so I can check it out.

In any case, this is a quick and thought-provoking read — though it appears that it’s more about being tweeted to the top than tweeting to the top (two are interestingly related, however, I suspect).

The Humanities, Declining? Not According to the Numbers. – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Recently, Nate Silver, the statistician who has become famous for the accuracy of his analyses of polling data, has weighed in on the inexorable decline of the humanities, and has found, using “numbers” and “arithmetic,” that “the relative decline of majors like English is modest when accounting for the increased propensity of Americans to go to college.”

“In fact, the number of new degrees in English is fairly similar to what it has been for most of the last 20 years as a share of the college-age population,” Silver said. “In 2011, 1.1 out of every 100 21-year-olds graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English, down only incrementally from 1.2 in 2001 and 1.3 in 1991. And the percentage of English majors as a share of the population is actually higher than it was in 1981, when only 0.7 out of every 100 21-year-olds received a degree in English.”


The Humanities, Declining? Not According to the Numbers. – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Science, Freedom, and the American Way | iCHSTM 2013 blog

Conferences, lecture tours, exchange programs, textbook translations, and science clubs promoted the idea that science functions best without government oversight. More than a vague postwar ideology, this was official U.S. policy, both at home and abroad. Of course, in reality, U.S. investments in applied R&D, particularly for military applications, dwarfed funding for basic research by several orders of magnitude, but this fact did not deter American science attachés, State Department science advisors, embassy officials, and other low-level diplomats from actively promoting a vision of science that stressed independent, undirected scientific research.

But with the end of the Cold War, scientific self-governance no longer packs the same ideological punch. Appeals to scientific freedom are comfortable and familiar, but they’re not going to save the NSF.

via Science, Freedom, and the American Way | iCHSTM 2013 blog.