Pragmatism vs. Idealism and the Identity Crisis of OER Advocacy

Author: Rajiv Sunil Jhangiani

Abstract: The open education (OE) movement is in its adolescent years and experiencing an identity crisis as it is pulled towards both pragmatism (marked by an emphasis on cost savings, resources, and incremental change) and idealism (marked by an emphasis on permissions, practices, and radical change). In this article, I describe these tensions (free vs. freedom; evolution vs. revolution; and resources vs. practices) before going on to argue in favour of a nuanced resolution to this Eriksonian crisis that reflects the diverse needs and motivations of educators. The merits of an integrated approach and its implications for the future trajectory of the OE movement are discussed.

Citation: Jhangiani, R. S. (2017). Pragmatism vs. idealism and the identity crisis of OER advocacy. Open Praxis, 9(2), 141-150. doi: 10.5944/openpraxis.9.2.569


Women Working In the Open

Author: April Hathcock

Abstract: In this blog post, April Hathcock discusses diversity, inclusion, and representation in scholarly communication. The post discusses the work left to be done in terms of dismantling sexist and racist under-representation within the profession, but also proffers a collaborative list of women working “in the open.”

Citation: Hathcock, A. (2017, June 20). Women working in the open. In the Open. Retrieved from

A longitudinal study of independent scholar-published open access journals

Author: Bo-Christer Björk, Cenyu Shen, & Mikael Laakso

Abstract: Open Access (OA) is nowadays increasingly being used as a business model for the publishing of scholarly peer reviewed journals, both by specialized OA publishing companies and major, predominantly subscription-based publishers. However, in the early days of the web OA journals were mainly founded by independent academics, who were dissatisfied with the predominant print and subscription paradigm and wanted to test the opportunities offered by the new medium. There is still an on-going debate about how OA journals should be operated, and the volunteer model used by many such ‘indie’ journals has been proposed as a viable alternative to the model adopted by big professional publishers where publishing activities are funded by authors paying expensive article processing charges (APCs). Our longitudinal quantitative study of 250 ‘indie’ OA journals founded prior to 2002, showed that 51% of these journals were still in operation in 2014 and that the median number of articles published per year had risen from 11 to 18 among the survivors. Of these surviving journals, only 8% had started collecting APCs. A more detailed qualitative case study of five such journals provided insights into how such journals have tried to ensure the continuity and longevity of operations.

Citation: Björk, B.-C., Shen, C., & Laakso, M. (2016). A longitudinal study of independent scholar-published open access journals. PeerJ, 4, e1990.

What researchers want

Author: Martin Feijen

Abstract: A literature study aiming to understand how researchers currently handle research data storage and access, what problems they encounter, and what their needs are. Unlike many reports that address these issues from the library, institution, or other service provider’s perspective, this report outlines key findings about the motivations and interests of researchers, and provides guidance to libraries and universities about how to shape their services to meet the researchers where they are.

Citation: Feijen, Martin. What Researchers Want. SURF Foundation. Feb. 2011.


A model open access journal publication agreement

Author: Stuart Shieber
Abstract: This blog post from 2014 provides language that can serve as a model for publication agreements between an open access journal and authors submitting their work to it. Rather than the traditional approach requiring the author to grant all rights in the work to the journal, this language has the author granting only what the journal needs to publish, and keeping all other rights for the creator of the work. The post explains what each paragraph in the agreement aims to do, and how it will protect the interests of both the author and the publisher while making the work open access. The comment section below the post also has useful discussion that further explains the reasoning behind some of the clauses.
Citation: Shieber, Stuart. “A model OA journal publication agreement.” Blog post. The Occasional Pamphlet. Harvard Blogs, 19 February 2014.


A manifesto for reproducible science

Author: Marcus R. Munafò, Brian A. Nosek, Dorothy V. M. Bishop, Katherine S. Button, Christopher D. Chambers, Nathalie Percie du Sert, Uri Simonsohn, Eric-Jan Wagenmakers, Jennifer J. Ware & John P. A. Ioannidis

Abstract: Improving the reliability and efficiency of scientific research will increase the credibility of the published scientific literature and accelerate discovery. Here we argue for the adoption of measures to optimize key elements of the scientific process: methods, reporting and dissemination, reproducibility, evaluation and incentives. There is some evidence from both simulations and empirical studies supporting the likely effectiveness of these measures, but their broad adoption by researchers, institutions, funders and journals will require iterative evaluation and improvement. We discuss the goals of these measures, and how they can be implemented, in the hope that this will facilitate action toward improving the transparency, reproducibility and efficiency of scientific research.

Citation: Munafò, M. R., Nosek, B. A., Bishop, D. V. M., Button, K. S., Chambers, C. D., Percie du Sert, N., Simonsohn, U., Wagenmakers, E.-J., Ware, J. J., & Ioannidis, J. P. A. (2017). A manifesto for reproducible science. Nature Human Behaviour 1.


Copyright and the Use of Images as Biodiversity Data

Authors: Willi Egloff, Donat Agosti, Puneet Kishor, David Patterson, Jeremy A. Miller

Abstract: Taxonomy is the discipline responsible for charting the world’s organismic diversity, understanding ancestor/descendant relationships, and organizing all species according to a unified taxonomic classification system. Taxonomists document the attributes (characters) of organisms, with emphasis on those can be used to distinguish species from each other. Character information is compiled in the scientific literature as text, tables, and images. The information is presented according to conventions that vary among taxonomic domains; such conventions facilitate comparison among similar species, even when descriptions are published by different authors. There is considerable uncertainty within the taxonomic community as to how to re-use images that were included in taxonomic publications, especially in regard to whether copyright applies. This article deals with the principles and application of copyright law, database protection, and protection against unfair competition, as applied to images. We conclude that copyright does not apply to most images in taxonomic literature because they are presented in a standardized way and lack the creativity that is required to qualify as ‘copyrightable works’. There are exceptions, such as wildlife photographs, drawings and artwork produced in a distinctive individual form and intended for other than comparative purposes (such as visual art). Further exceptions may apply to collections of images that qualify as a database in the sense of European database protection law. In a few European countries, there is legal protection for photographs that do not qualify as works in the usual sense of copyright. It follows that most images found in taxonomic literature can be re-used for research or many other purposes without seeking permission, regardless of any copyright declaration. In observance of ethical and scholarly standards, re-users are expected to cite the author and original source of any image that they use.

Citation: Willi Egloff, Donat Agosti, Puneet Kishor, David Patterson, Jeremy A. Miller,  2017. “Copyright and the Use of Images as Biodiversity Data” 


Reassembling Scholarly Communications: An Evaluation of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Monograph Initiative

Authors: John W. Maxwell, Alessandra Bordini, and Katie Shamash


This report is a consideration of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s 2014–2015 scholarly communications initiative, which focused on helping to develop new capacity in the monograph-publishing ecosystem.

This report looks at thirteen projects funded through the initiative in 2014 and 2015. The proposals came from different stakeholders in the monograph ecosystem: university presses, libraries, faculty, and one consulting organization. They include studies of the economics of monograph publishing; plans to develop new faculty or staff competencies; the development of new software systems to support the production or publication of scholarly works; and the development of new operation and business models that aim to streamline and find efficiencies in the infrastructure for producing and distributing scholarly works.

The range of the funded projects is very broad. This appears to be a result of the open-ended way the Mellon Foundation invited proposals; innovation in digital publishing is an experimental process requiring imagination, an open mind and relative freedom from preexisting drivers and operational assumptions. The Foundation’s approach seems to have been to seek out interesting projects and ideas in a variety of places, and to look for opportunities to help move these ideas forward, without being overly directive about particular outcomes. This, we believe, is appropriate to the task of advancing a very complex tradition of scholarly communication, especially in an apparent time of crisis.

Citation: John W. Maxwell, Alessandra Bordini, and Katie Shamash (2017) Reassembling Scholarly Communications: An Evaluation of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Monograph Initiative (Final Report, May 2016). The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 20(1). DOI: 10.3998/3336451.0020.101



Source: Reassembling Scholarly Communications: An Evaluation of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Monograph Initiative

Untangling Academic Publishing: A history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research

Author(s): Fyfe, Aileen ; Coate, Kelly; Curry, Stephen; Lawson, Stuart; Moxham, Noah; Røstvik, Camilla Mørk

Abstract: Since the Second World War, academic publishing practices have had to cope with enormous changes in the scale of the research enterprise, in the culture and management of higher education, and in the ecosystem of scholarly publishers. The pace of change has been particularly rapid in the last twenty-five years, thanks to digital technologies. This has also been a time of growing divergence between the different roles of academic publishing: as a means of disseminating validated knowledge, as a form of symbolic capital for academic career progression, and as a profitable business enterprise.
This briefing paper aims to provide a historical perspective that can inform the debates about what the future of academic publishing should look like. We argue that current policy regarding open access publishing, and many of the other proposals for the reform of academic publishing, have been too focused on the opportunities and financial challenges of the most recent changes in digital communications technologies and have given undue weight to commercial concerns.
We show that the business practices and the cultural significance of academic publishing have been significantly transformed since the late nineteenth century as increasing government funding drove the expansion and professionalization of the research community, a process that accelerated rapidly after the Second World War. We examine how academic publishing practices have responded to the increasing number of researchers and publications worldwide, the changing expectations of academic workloads and outputs in the higher education sector, and the new business models in the publishing industry.
A key phenomenon has been the growing importance of published works as career-defining tokens of prestige for academics. Although the new technologies that emerged in the late twentieth century offer great potential for improving the speed and efficiency of scholarly communication, the publishing model has been relatively slow to change.
The key themes of this briefing paper are:

  • the business of academic publishing
  • the role of publishing in academic careers
  • and the tangled and changing relationship between them

Citation:Fyfe, Aileen, Coate, Kelly, Curry, Stephen, Lawson, Stuart, Moxham, Noah, & Røstvik, Camilla Mørk. (2017, May 25). Untangling Academic Publishing: A history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research. Zenodo.


Toward the Geoscience Paper of the Future: Best practices for documenting and sharing research from data to software to provenance

Authors: Gil Yolanda, Cedric H. David, Ibrahim Demir, Bakinam T. Essawy, Robinson W. Fulweiler, Jonathan L. Goodall, Leif Karlstrom, Huikyo Lee, Heath J. Mills, Ji-Hyun Oh, Suzanne A. Pierce, Allen Pope, Mimi W. Tzeng, Sandra R. Villamizar, Xuan Yu

Abstract: Geoscientists now live in a world rich with digital data and methods, and their computational research cannot be fully captured in traditional publications. The Geoscience Paper of the Future (GPF) presents an approach to fully document, share, and cite all their research products including data, software, and computational provenance. This article proposes best practices for GPF authors to make data, software, and methods openly accessible, citable, and well documented. The publication of digital objects empowers scientists to manage their research products as valuable scientific assets in an open and transparent way that enables broader access by other scientists, students, decision makers, and the public. Improving documentation and dissemination of research will accelerate the pace of scientific discovery by improving the ability of others to build upon published work.

Citation: Gil, Y., et all (2016). Toward the Geoscience Paper of the Future: Best practices for documenting and sharing research from data to software to provenance. Earth and Space Science, 3, 388-415.