Reporting on the ALPSP international conference, 10-12 September 2014.
While I am at this (learned society) publishers’ congress, our Board of Directors have sent on September 11 a message to all employees at TU Delft announcing that the way forward is open access. Open access so that contributions to science are spread, read and re-used. In the Netherlands, State Secretary Dekker recently expressed his views on the transition of Dutch academic publications to Open Access, which he hopes to achieve within five years in 60% of the cases.
A few days in London, that’s what you think. However, the ALPSP meeting is based in a hotel (Park Inn) at Heathrow, so the only thing you see (and hear) is the airport.
Keynote opener was Amy Brand from Digital Science. She presented an overview of the products (a lot fall under Digital Science) that help taking away pains from the researchers. “Pain is the mother of invention”. Products or services I had not heard of before were: Sparrho, Sciencescape and Uberresearch.
A bit about libraries
The first day (being only the afternoon) held (after the keynote) two things. A library panel (I think that those were the only librarians, apart from me, present) and the presentations of the Innovation Award (winner to be announced Thursday September 11). Surprise surprise, I liked the library panel. The topic was about whether we (librarians / publishers) were competitors or customers. Jill Taylor-Roe asked us to recalibrate the collaboration. Would it be better together? Graham Stone tried to tickle the audience (as you will understand mainly publishers) by explaining that repositories actually help in impact. “It is not about stealing. We have paid, we link and drive usage”. At his university (Huddersfield) they now have their own Press, and publish their undergraduate journal with severe peer reviewing. As Jill also pointed out, Graham said that libraries and publishers are both contributors (not competitors) to advance science. The really important people are the authors, not the librarians or the publishers.
Seven nominations for the Innovation Awards, 5 minutes each. Wow! I liked (but information might not be complete;-) BioRXiv , initiated by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, as I understand a good filter to proceed to journal publications. Another success was presented by Frontiers from Open Science platform, where open access journals are being (openly) peer reviewed, with top scientists as Editors, and maximising impact for authors. They even started a Frontiers for young minds! With an Editorial board of kids. Last one I mention is Edifix (from Inera), where inaccurate references are something from the past.
Impact and relevance
A panel opened the next day, but it was lively enough to attend. I especially appreciated the contributions from David Smith (IET) and chair Toby Green (OECD). Take a look at OECD’s Freemium Access publishing, more or lest the differentiated access Amy Brand presented the day before. It is a mixture of free (just reading) and premium (paying, for downloads or usage). With David I had a nice chat afterwards, where we discussed the typical behaviour of engineers i.e. IET noted having a very low percentage of mobile traffic on their platform. I spoke also with the panellist from Thieme who claimed that open access would leave libraries without a job. What we see in Delft is that we advise in the publication route and start to administer apc’s, so I did not agree with his observation.
Melinda Kenneway opened an interesting session on metrics. I had heard Mike Taylor from Elsevier at the APE, but his story this time was different, he advocated the use of multiple or mixed metrics, not bibliometrics or altmetrics, but choosing the right answers based on the questions of the customers. We also had the joy of listening to Euan Adie, founder of Altmetric. He defines altmetrics as everything in metrics that is not citations, resulting in a broader view of impact. An idea that popped up in my head when he talked was whether we (as librarians) should be starting to tweet much more about the Delft publications, as part of our workflow.
In the afternoon presentations on “cracking the discovery code” were scheduled. where EBSCO, Sage and Graham Stone (again, see day before) talked. Graham’s university was the first Summon client in the UK (2009). I liked the way he referred to the discovery system as a tool that is “levelling the playing field, giving every journal a fair chance” and warned us, librarians, to avoid the desire making minilibrarians out of our users. I also made a note to look at the TERMS – top 14 deal breaks when licensing electronic resources, that he cocreated, so I will definitely get back to his presentation.
Fiona Murphy chaired the final session of the day on big data. There was in that session not much new for me, though it struck me that the underlying message was that we should be careful. We should not make confusing correlations, will need human interaction to structure the data, and need to make authors aware how to correctly cite data. I learned from my neighbor, one of the nominees for the Innovation Award from Inera, that 20% of the provided data citations have incorrect doi’s. We can of course also have fun, e.g. with the autocomplete text Google makes (why is UK so … cold).
Text mine or yours or …
On Friday morning we had our final sessions. Both were interesting. Gemma Hersh from Elsevier explained their Text and Datamining policy and went through the criticism received, via a.o. LIBER. They have changed a few things since, e.g. users are not asked anymore to provide a project description when they register for mining. The fact that registration is needed however will not be changed, according to Hersh. CrossRef is now working on a cross publisher solution. The talk by researcher Lars Juhl Jensen (here is his blog) nicely touched upon some of these issues. Jensen gave a wonderful talk about what text and data mining is all about, and that researchers like himself just want to be able “to take it, mine it and make it publicly available”. Furter reading about this (and other) sessions at the alpsp blog.
The final session had open access as topic. Chair Wim van der Stelt from Springer tried to bring some different angles to the discussion. We had people from Wiley, Royal Society and BMC talking about flipping your subscription journal, learning from starting an open access journal and having the dialogue with your customer, respectively. I liked the contribution by Jackie Jones (Wiley). She gave the Wiley criteria to flip or not to flip. Obviously parameters such as rejection rate, submission level, funder behaviour and proven open access success in the discipline are relevant in this decision. Phil Hurst (The Royal Society) mentioned that they only would be launching open access journals. He referred to the SPARC page, that summarizes why open access is a big benefit. I did not really get an answer when asking when the time would come that the default for launching a new journal would be open access, realizing that large publishers also could drive the change and influence behaviour. Well, I wrote earlier about that of course! Though we all agreed at the congress that our authors and researchers are the most important stakeholders, perhaps some other stakeholders might influence the direction publishers are taking;-)