I am very happy to be again visiting the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities. Over the weekend, I participated in a wonderful conference on the “Anthropology of Performance” organized by the industrious undergraduate students in the Department of Anthropology here. The conference included work in all four of anthropology’s four sub-fields, plus folklore studies and social psychology. The student presentations were outstanding. The number of soon to finish students reporting on nearly complete senior theses was amazing and the quality of their research and presentations was very impressive. Congratulations to the students and to the faculty and advisers who are supporting them.
Today I get to reconnect with my friends at the library here. I will be participating in a very promising event on “Open Research and Learning: Collaboration, Connections, and Communities.” The event includes an amazing group of people. David Ernst, Director of Academic Technology in the UM College of Education and Human Development will discuss open textbooks. Astronomer Lucy Fortson will discuss open data, and University of Minnesota Press Director Doug Armato will discuss open publishing projects at the press. Copyright librarian Nancy Sims–whom you should certainly be following on Twitter (@CopyrightLibn)–will be the moderator. I will be talking about the ways that open access projects foster richer forms of scholarly collaboration. I am really looking forward to it and I am thankful that the kind invitation from the anthropology students has allowed me to reconnect with the scholarly communications community at Minnesota. Thank you to all of the faculty and researchers who have signed up for today’s event. Information on the event is online here.
Bad news abounds, but from the good news file comes today’s release of a letter sent by the President of the American Folklore Society, Diane Goldstein, on behalf of the society. (Diane is also my colleague here at Indiana University). The letter was a response to the recent Request for Information issued by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (part of the executive branch of the U.S. government charged with advising the president). The RFI focused on “Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications Resulting From Federally Funded Research.”
In the American Folklore Society’s response to the RFI, the society did two things of note. The AFS pointed to, and endorsed the careful and valuable submission that had already been made by the Association for Computers and the Humanities. In addition to supporting public access policies, the ACH statement (and by extension the AFS view) stresses the need for research policy makers working on this (and neighboring issues) to keep humanities research in mind as part of the larger (and relevant) research landscape.
The other theme brought out in the AFS statement is that the society has committed itself to sustainably pursuing public access goals as exemplified by its adoption of an author agreement for the Journal of American Folklore that is consistent with green open access practices (including repository deposit of the publisher’s final version) as well as its work (with the IU Libraries) on the Open Folklore project.
On a day in which SOPA and PIPA were prominent points of discussion, in a moment in which there are powerful interests also pushing the terrible Research Works Act, and on the day that the Supreme Court handed down a decision that signs off on a law that allows works to be taken out of the public domain and moved back into copyrighted status, I am proud to be a member of the AFS Executive Board working with colleagues who share a commitment finding pathways forward toward the full realization of open access scholarly communication in the public interest. Thank you to the Association for Computers and the Humanities for its leadership and for drafting an excellent position statement. Thank you to the White House for soliciting input on this vital public issue.
When the Association for Computers and the Humanities website comes out from under today’s SOPA blackout status, readers should be able to consult the ACH response to the RFI there. If you are in a hurry, the AFS website presents it alongside the AFS letter as a downloadable PDF. See here: http://www.afsnet.org/news/81409/AFS-Advocates-for-the-Humanities-in-Federal-Research-Policy.htm
Three cheers for the librarians who look after us, whether we know it or not. As a student, teacher, researcher, and citizen I work with a wide range of information resources everyday. Whether I step into a library building or not, a large proportion of those resources are available to me because librarians work to make them available to me. Even when I use resources that come to me without the direct intervention of librarians and library staff, I am benefiting from the worlds of education, research, and democratic governance, including values of access and privacy, that librarians work hard to foster and defend everyday. I cannot say thank you enough for their work.
In his round up on “Anthropology and Open Access” (dealing with HR 3699 and SOPA), Jason Antrosio at Anthropology Report has kindly cited my comment on Ryan Anderson’s Savage Minds post on these themes. Under my own by-line, here is what I said in response to Ryan’s post. (Ryan is the Savage Mind who kindly interviewed me on OA issues in anthropology a while back.)
It is crucial that faculty and graduate students are part of the push back (against SOPA and HR 3699) for a number of reasons. One of which is that we need, in doing so, to give the librarians a morale boost. They have been fighting for us on this front for decades with too few of us knowing or caring about it. They have been getting tired, really tired. The way that, on this one, faculty and graduate students have been unusually vocal, has been encouraging to them. We need their help. Keep it up.
Thankfully tons of smart people have been explaining the problems with H.R. 3699 and SOPA. I could list links all day. If you do not yet know about these issues, dive in quickly and get them figured out.
A bill (H.R. 3699) recently introduced in the U.S. Congress by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) aims to undo open access policies at NIH and to prevent the establishment of open access policies in other federal agencies. The large publishers, as represented by The Association of American Publishers, has expressed its love for this innocuously named “Research Works Act.” Open access advocates understand it as another terrible assault on the public interest and as instrument designed to not only mislead those who do not understand how scholarly research and its communication work but to more intensively transfer public resources into private, corporate hands. I am not going to offer an analysis of the bill and its contexts here.
In this note, I just want to highlight University of California Biologist Michael Eisen’s posting about the Research Works Act. After contextualizing and characterizing H.R. 3699, he points his readers to political contribution data available via MapLight. Looking into which members of Congress have received contributions from the large, multinational scholarly publisher Read Elsevier, Eisen notes that the largest recipient of Elsevier cash is Rep. Maloney (co-sponsor of H.R. 3699). He notes:
Dutch publisher Elsevier and its senior executives made 31 contributions to members of the House in 2011, of which 12 went to Representative Maloney. This includes contributions from 11 senior executives or partners, only one of whom is a resident of her district.
Who else is on the Elsevier donation list? Any guesses? Yes, of course, Rep. Issa. (For the full list of Elsevier recipients, see here.)
Thank you to Professor Eisen for his work digging into this question.
The Association of American Publishers has issued a awful new press release expressing enthusiasm for the Research Works Act, H.R. 3699 describing it as “significant legislation that will help reinforce America’s leadership in scholarly and scientific publishing in the public interest and in the critical peer-review system that safeguards the quality of such research.”
This is just the latest in an endless, dispiriting series of commercial publisher FUD campaigns and efforts at the further corporate enclosure of public resources. Advocates for the public interest in scholarship will resist H.R. 3699 and those with vested profits in the terrible status quo will support it. As with FRPAA, as always, a key question is where will the scholarly societies stand? Another is whether any more academic authors and editors will wake up and consider their role in the perpetuation of a system that is not only dysfunctional but also increasingly corrupt and immoral.
Money in politics? Corporate personhood? Policies that harm the poorest and help the most affluent? Academic authors–many of you are not connecting the dots that lead to your own practices.
Another question is where do those AAP members that are not-for-profit university presses (Chicago, California, Hawaii, North Carolina, Illinois (sigh), Texas, Tennessee) stand? Is the AAP speaking for you on this one? Don’t forget PRISM, y’all.
Thanks again to Ryan Anderson for working with me on an interview exploring the basic issues relating to open access in anthropology and folklore. The second part of three has now been published on Savage Minds. As always I appreciate Savage Minds for hosting such considerations of these issues.
I was just scouting out a new academic book of interest to me using Google Books. I was able to browse chapters, study the table of contents etc. The book is published by one of the largest of the university presses. It can also be browsed in Amazon.com. On a subject where audio and video is relevant, the book has a companion website hosted by the press. Information on this companion website is available in the front mater for the book. Looking at this page in the Google Books representation, I saw the URL followed by:
To accompany “TITLE OF PRINT BOOK BY MAJOR UNIVERSITY PRESS HERE”, we have created a password-protected website where readers can access the recordings linked to the chapters.”
Access with username XXXXX# and password XXXX####.
The user name and password are presented as fixed text in the book and they are visible to everyone via the Google Books version.
What factors could account for the imposition of DRM (Digital Rights Management) in such a weak, permanently affixed, and circumventable form? Did they not put the media on a straight open platform because they promised the rights holders that it would only be available to purchasers of the book? (Including library users.) Are there actual advantages to doing things this way? How reliable a preservation framework is implied by the strategy used by this (very large) university press? Does anyone expect this website to exist and work (via this username and password) ten years from now? Is this standard operating procedure and I have just not noticed it yet?
What follows are the remarks and proposals that I offered during the libraries-focused event held today at Indiana University. Hosted by IU Provost Karen Hansen and Dean of the Libraries Brenda Johnson, the event was framed as “A Faculty Discussion on the Future of University Libraries.” I was one of eight members of the faculty invited to offer 5 minute reflections on the questions before the assembly. I took the opportunity to suggest that the time has come for the IU faculty to get moving toward a green OA mandate. A proposal towards that goal, and two related ends, are expressed in my comments, which I share here for those who might be interested. The opening remarks and slides by the Provost and the Dean did a nice job framing the issues and my fellow panelists all offered important reflections and goals. The event was very well attended and I thank everyone involved in organizing and attending the gathering. I think that the event was a good step forward towards additional discussions and the work ahead.
I want to thank Dean Johnson and Provost Hansen for their kind invitation to participate in today’s discussion. This afternoon, I wish to carefully offer three proposals while keeping to the allotted five minutes. This context explains my pre-preparation of these remarks.
I am not speaking on anyone else’s behalf, but my suggestions are conditioned by my past experiences, present commitments, and the collaborative projects on which I am working. My efforts as a curator, teacher, researcher, journal editor, library committee member, scholarly society board member, and collaborator working with disadvantaged communities still dealing with the legacies of colonialism, all shape my concerns and motivate my efforts as an activist for scholarly communications reform. My knowledge of the current scholarly communications system and its prospects have been profoundly shaped through my collaborations with librarians and technologists at the IU Libraries and I appreciate the many ways that they have supported and taught me. I have tremendous appreciation for all that the Libraries are doing to support my work and that of my students and colleagues.
I look forward to our discussions of the full range of topics surveyed by the Provost and the Dean, but my proposals focus on the activity that we once called publishing and the changing ways that the libraries engage with it. My hope is to provoke the faculty to take greater ownership in the work of scholarly communication and thereby to partner more meaningfully with our library in fostering a more equitable, ethical, sustainable and sensible communications and learning environment for ourselves, for the communities that need our work, for our debt-crushed students, and for every lifelong learner, regardless of their ability to pay to access our scholarship.
Later I will be very willing to provide needed background, but the most economical approach for me now is to just offer my three proposals for the faculty to consider. The IU Libraries are contributing in a number of key ways to an international effort to protect and improve the scholarly communications system, but without broader leadership here on our campus, there are limits to what can be accomplished. I have tremendous hope for what we might do by working together. Here goes:
- I propose that the Bloomington Faculty Council, in consultation with the Dean of the Libraries, the Office of the Provost, and the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs, begin formal work towards what is known as a green open access mandate for faculty on the Bloomington campus. With mandates already in place at Harvard, MIT, California, Oberlin, Kansas and hundreds of other institutions worldwide, we are prepared to take advantage of the experiences of those who have preceded us on this path. Our leadership in IT, our international commitments, the prominence of our scholarship, and the stature of our library insure our success in such a venture. Delay wrongly suggests that we are not an institution of the first rank. Read more