Does Project Muse help or harm scholarship by refusing to list freely available journals? On the role of the aggregatorPosted: June 13, 2012
Yesterday, I posted an essay reflecting on the stratification of content development and delivery processes in the music, commercial publishing, and scholarly and scientific publishing industries (Won’t Get Fooled Again).
At the end of the piece, I discussed the developing role of aggregators at the distribution and marketing end of the process. While there is no equivalent to iTunes in the scholarly publishing world, the aggregators fill a similar function to a certain extent with the institutional customers (particularly libraries) that are responsible for most of the purchases in this area.
In cooperation with record labels – active artists have always received from the music industry banking system more than banking. They’ve gotten…
1. editorial guidance
2. financial support
3. creative nurture
8. payment of royalties (the banking)
Mutatis mutandis, much the same can be said for other forms of publishing as well: scientific/scholarly and commercial book publication, even film development and distribution. In each case, historically, the distributors of the content also generally have been responsible to a greater or lesser extent for nurturing and supporting its development. Individual segments of the market have dropped or added to Townshend’s list of functions (adding peer review, for example, in addition to editorial functions, or focus-group testing final product before distribution). But on the whole, Townshend’s list is pretty complete. In the pre-Internet era, publishing was generally the province of highly vertically integrated organisations: the same group tended to oversee the production process from the submission of the original manuscript, idea, or prospectus to the final distribution of sales income.
Here’s a (slightly modified for coherence’s sake) deck from the talk prepared by Gillian Ayers and me for the Canadian Association of Learned Journals meeting in Waterloo ON on May 27, 2012.
Syndrome: Oh, I’m real. Real enough to defeat you! And I did it without your precious gifts, your oh-so-special powers. I’ll give them heroics. I’ll give them the most spectacular heroics the world has ever seen! And when I’m old and I’ve had my fun, I’ll sell my inventions so that everyone can have powers. Everyone can be super! And when everyone’s super… [chuckles evilly] no one will be.
Here’s a funny little story about how a highly specialised journal gamed journal impact measurements:
The Swiss journal Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica has a good reputation among voice researchers but, with an impact factor of 0.655 in 2007, publication in it was unlikely to bring honour or grant money to the authors’ institutions.
Now two investigators, one Dutch and one Czech, have taken on the system and fought back. They published a paper called ‘Reaction of Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica on the current trend of impact factor measures’ (H. K. Schutte and J. G. Švec Folia Phoniatr. Logo.59, 281–285; 2007). This cited all the papers published in the journal in the previous two years. As ‘impact factor’ is defined as the number of citations to articles in a journal in the past two years, divided by the total number of papers published in that journal over the same period, their strategy dramatically increased Folia‘s impact factor this year to 1.439.
In the ‘rehabilitation’ category, shared with 26 other journals, Folia jumped from position 22 to position 13.
The Lethbridge Journal Incubator is a pilot project hosted by the University of Lethbridge Library under the direction of Daniel Paul O’Donnell and supported by the University of Lethbridge School of Graduate Study.
The goal of the incubator is to address the issue of the sustainability of scholarly communication in an open access, digital age by aligning it with the educational and research missions of the University.In this way, the production of scholarly communication, which is often understood as a cost centre that draws resources away from a host university’s core missions, is itself transformed into a sustainable, high-impact resource that applies largely existing funding in ways that significantly increase the research and teaching capacity of the institution.
We are trying to build a single stylesheet to work with the documents of two independent journals. In order to get a sense of the work involved, we wanted to create a catalogue of all elements used in the published articles. This means loading as input document directories’ worth of files and then going through extracting and sorting the elements across all the input documents.
Here’s the stylesheet that did it for us. It is probably not maximally optimised, but it currently does what we need.