Journal Incubator Poster (Digital Humanities 2013)

There was a lot of interest in the Lethbridge Journal Incubator project poster yesterday at the Digital Humanities 2013 conference poster session at the University of Nebraska.

A thumbnail image of the poster comes below (there is also a letter-sized version). You can get the original PDF here

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Should I keep this blog? Should I retweet yours? Scholarly responsibility and new publication models

I’ve been engaged with on-line scholarly publication for almost two decades. For a while in the middle of the first decade of this century in fact, my most popular and most often cited publication was a 1998 webpage describing my plans for an electronic edition of the Old English poem Caedmon’s Hymn  Read the rest of this entry »


All should have prizes: Thinking about citation practice for the Visionary Cross Project

With the first meshes almost ready, and work beginning on writing up some of the results from our work on site in Ruthwell, authorship and credit questions at the Visionary Cross project are beginning to become more pressing.

Good practice, of course, would be to establish a system long in advance and stick to it throughout. The Visionary Cross project, however, has always operated as a relatively loose federation of scholars rather than a single project (more of a society, than a project in many ways) and, due in part to the long time it took to get major initial funding, crediting issues have until recently seemed quite far in the future. Read the rest of this entry »


Fixing a problem with broken stylesheets in OJS 2.3.6

In recent days, we have encountered a problem at Digital Studies/Le champ numérique that has resulted in problems with the display of a number of our articles.

The symptom is that the article breadcrumb and menu bar appear below rather than beside the right navigation bar, as illustrated below.

Screen shot showing layout problem in OJS

Screen shot showing layout problem. Article on left shows the broken style; article on the right has had the problem corrected.

After some investigation, we narrowed the problem down to an issue with how OJS handles HTML-encoded articles. Read the rest of this entry »


Chasing the (long) tail: Was the Readabilty subscription model really a failed experiment?

More on the changing business models (see my earlier entries, “Won’t get fooled again: Why is there no iTunes for scholarly publishing” and “Does Project Muse help of harm the scholarly community…“).

Readability is an app developer whose main product is software for improving the long-form online reading experience. I’ve not used it (yet), but it seems to involve a combination of applying an optimised style to existing content and suppressing the surrounding ads and navigation clutter (contrary to the comment feed on their blog, Readability doesn’t seem to extract and resell content without producer’s permission: it seems to be more like a specialised kind of browser plugin for viewing content you already have access to).

The original business model appears to have involved collecting subscription money ($5/month) from users who wanted a better reading experience and then distributing that money (minus a commission, I imagine) to the publishers who registered with them. There are aspects of this that you might quibble with–for example, had they thought they could communicate with the owners of every site their user base tried to read using their app? But on the whole it seems like an interesting and innovative idea: extracting some part of the capital required to produce content by selling a better experience in its consumption. And since I’d have thought they probably didn’t need to offer to share the money with the publishers (given that they were only reformatting the content), this is a business model that actually seems to have been constructive rather than purely exploitative.

And apparently one that doesn’t work. Read the rest of this entry »


“And in conclusion, funding for further research will be required”

Globe and Mail reporter Anna Mehler Paperny reported today on research that is pointing to a new treatment for people infected with the Ebola virus. After explaining how the treatment works and its implications, she concludes:

On a pragmatic level, getting this research published in a well-regarded journal could make it easier for Dr. Kobinger to ask for continued government funding in a cash-strapped environment.

What a pleasingly blunt statement about the economics of publication!


Does Project Muse help or harm scholarship by refusing to list freely available journals? On the role of the aggregator

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.

Read the rest of this entry »


Won’t get fooled again? Why is there no iTunes for scholarly and scientific publishing?

In the inaugural BBC John Peel Lecture, The Who‘s Pete Townshend described the music publishing business as being historically like “a form of banking in many ways”:

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

4. manufacturing

5. publishing

6. marketing

7. distribution

8. payment of royalties (the banking)

(A full transcript can be found here; video here (full) and here (excerpt))

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.

Read the rest of this entry »


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