Red Light, Green Light: Aligning the Library to Support Licensing

Author: Roger C. Schonfeld

Abstract: In this piece, I propose that the academic library engage more robustly to take back control of its collections budget. I do not evaluate, and certainly do not critique, existing negotiating models. Fundamentally, I propose that libraries find ways to act with single purpose to strengthen their negotiating position. This proposal has not been “road-tested” at any institution of which I am aware. As written, it is organized around what a library might do, but readers may also find opportunities for groups of libraries to engage with some of these approaches through consortia and systems. It is my hope to contribute to ongoing conversations about how best to strengthen the library’s negotiating hand.

Citation: Schonfeld, Roger C. “Red Light, Green Light: Aligning the Library to Support Licensing.” Ithaka S+R. Aug. 17, 2017.


Scholarly Communication and the Dilemma of Collective Action: Why Academic Journals Cost Too Much

Author: John Wenzler

Abstract: Why has the rise of the Internet—which drastically reduces the cost of distributing information—coincided with drastic increases in the prices that academic libraries pay for access to scholarly journals? This study argues that libraries are trapped in a collective action dilemma as defined by economist Mancur Olson in The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups. To truly reduce their costs, librarians would have to build a shared online collection of scholarly resources jointly managed by the academic community as a whole, but individual academic institutions lack the private incentives necessary to invest in a shared collection. Thus, the management of online scholarly journals has been largely outsourced to publishers who have developed monopoly powers that allow them to increase subscription prices faster than the rate of inflation. Many librarians consider the open access movement the best response to increased subscription costs, but the current strategies employed to achieve open access also are undermined by collective action dilemmas. In conclusion, some alternative strategies are proposed.

Wenzler J. (2016). Scholarly Communication and the Dilemma of Collective Action: Why Academic Journals Cost Too Much. College & Research Libraries, 78(2), pp 183-200, doi:10.5860/crl.78.2.183


Academic Librarians as Knowledge Creators

Author: Donna Witek

Abstract: Despite support from national organizations like the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), pursuing research and scholarship remains a challenge for academic librarians, even when the literature connects these activities to greater effectiveness in the practice of academic librarianship. This essay examines the history and present state of the questions of faculty status and tenure for librarians, and relates these questions to that of performing scholarly research and creating and disseminating new knowledge as an academic librarian. It then offers as a case study my experience identifying and pursuing a research agenda in collaboration with a faculty colleague in another department at my institution, with the goal of both sharing what has worked for one academic librarian (n=1) while also critiquing the system within which that success has occurred. The essay concludes with a list of creative strategies academic librarians can put into practice to become successful knowledge creators in the field of library and information science.

Witek D. (2014). Academic Librarians as Knowledge Creators. The Journal of Creative Library Practice.


Opening the Publication Process with Executable Research Compendia

Authors: Daniel Nüst, Markus Konkol, Edzer Pebesma, Christian Kray, Marc Schutzeichel, Holger Przibytzin, Jörg Lorenz


Abstract: A strong movement towards openness has seized science. Open data and methods, open source software, Open Access, open reviews, and open research platforms provide the legal and technical solutions to new forms of research and publishing. However, publishing reproducible research is still not common practice. Reasons include a lack of incentives and a missing standardized infrastructure for providing research material such as data sets and source code together with a scientific paper. Therefore we first study fundamentals and existing approaches. On that basis, our key contributions are the identification of core requirements of authors, readers, publishers, curators, as well as preservationists and the subsequent description of an executable research compendium (ERC). It is the main component of a publication process providing a new way to publish and access computational research. ERCs provide a new standardisable packaging mechanism which combines data, software, text, and a user interface description. We discuss the potential of ERCs and their challenges in the context of user requirements and the established publication processes. We conclude that ERCs provide a novel potential to find, explore, reuse, and archive computer-based research.


Citation: Nüst, D, Konkol, M, Pebsema, E, Kray, C, Schutzeichel, M, Przibytzin, H, Lorenz, J. (2017) Opening the Publication Process with Executable Research Compendia D-Lib Magazine 23(1-2).




Reimagining the Digital Monograph: Design Thinking to Build New Tools for Researchers

Authors: Laura Brown, Alex Humphreys, Matthew Loy, Ron Snyder, Christina Spencer


Abstract: Scholarly books are increasingly being made available in digital form, joining in the print-to-digital transition that scholarly journals began well over a decade ago. Ten years of innovation have produced tremendous benefits for authors and readers of journal literature, and certainly some of this innovation is applicable to the digital migration of monographs. But the long-form scholarly argument presents some very different challenges, and its online migration is still in many ways in its infancy. The platforms that make monographs available to users often offer little in the way of specialized functionality for the different ways that scholars and students use these books. The JSTOR Labs group, an experimental product development team at JSTOR, undertook a user research and design process in order to better understand the wide variety of needs, behaviors, frustrations, and ambitions users bring to the task of reading scholarly books online, and to explore possible new paths to unlocking the value of the long-form argument in a digital environment. This paper is intended to do three things. First, we discuss the kinds of uses that readers have for scholarly books, and the opportunities for improving the usefulness of books for those purposes in a digital environment. These emerged from ethnographic research we carried out with a variety of readers of digital monographs and with a small working group of scholars, publishers, librarians, engineers, data scientists and user experience designers that we convened in partnership with the Columbia University Libraries in late 2016. Second, we discuss the design thinking process that we used to explore the landscape, how the group identified problems to solve, and how together we selected one opportunity ripe for new feature development that the JSTOR Labs team could prototype. Third, we describe the process we used to develop that prototype, and introduce the tool that we built, which we are calling “Topicgraph.”


Citation: Brown, L, Humphreys, A, Loy, M, Snyder, R, Spencer, C. (2017) Reimagining the Digital Monograph: Design Thinking to Build New Tools for Researchers, A JSTOR Labs Report – DRAFT FOR COMMENT




Posthumanities: The Dark Side of “The Dark Side of the Digital”

Authors: Janneke Adema, Gary Hall


Introduction: In What Is Posthumanism? Cary Wolfe insists “the nature of thought itself must change if it is to be posthumanist.”[1] Our argument, made manifest by this special issue of the Journal of Electronic Publishing, is that it is not only our ways of thinking about the world that must change if they are to be posthumanist, or at least not simply humanist; our ways of being and doing in the world must change too. In particular, we view the challenge to humanism and the human brought about by the emergence of artificial intelligence, augmented reality, bioscience, robotics, preemptive, cognitive, and contextual computing, as providing us with an opportunity to reinvent, radically, the ways in which we work, act, and think as theorists. In this respect, if “posthumanism names a historical moment in which the decentering of the human by its imbrication in technical, medical, informatics, and economic networks is increasingly impossible to ignore,”[2] then it generates an opportunity to raise the kind of questions for the humanities we really should have raised long before now, but haven’t because our humanist ideas, not just of historical change and progression (i.e. from human to posthuman, to what comes after the human),[3] but of the rational, liberal, human subject, and the associated concepts of the author, the journal, and copyright we have inherited with it, continue to have so much power and authority.

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The Post-Digital Publishing Archive: An Inventory of Speculative Strategies

Authors: Silvio Lorusso


Abstract: Recently launched, the Post-Digital Publishing Archive (P—DPA) is an online platform that allows users to systematically collect, organize, and keep track of art and design experiences at the intersection of publishing and digital technology. Filling a gap in the discussion, which is generally led by the narrative of innovation, P—DPA focuses on projects that investigate the social, cultural, and economic dynamics of publishing through a DIY approach, custom tools, and the counterintuitive employment of popular platforms. Like every archive, P—DPA embodies a specific attitude that is mainly expressed by the criteria employed to select the works and by the multiple relations among them. How can the materiality of such works be properly defined through a categorization system? What technological, processual, and signifying aspects need to be taken into account? By acting as an inventory of speculative strategies, P—DPA aims to become a reference point for designers and artists interested in publishing and indirectly extend its very notion.


Citation: Lorusso, S, (2016) The Post-Digital Publishing Archive: An Inventory of Speculative StrategiesThe Journal of Electronic Publishing. Volume 19, Issue 2: Disrupting the Humanities: Towards Posthumanities