Live-blogging the 2009 Vancouver PKP Conference

Category — Editor-Themed Sessions

From Pedagogy to Androgogy: Using OJS to Immerse Students in Peer-Review Publishing: The Session Blog

Original Abstract Title:  An Online, Open Access, Student-Authored and Peer-Reviewed eJournal in Biotechnology

Presenter: George M. Garrity

July 10th, 2009 at 9:30 a.m.

(Used with permission from George Garrity)

(Used with permission from George Garrity)

Background info

A course (MMG 445 Basic Biotechnology) taught at Michigan State University by George Garrity has been a leader in student open access knowledge publication. The curriculum ensures its students learn the rigorous method of peer review in their field by becoming both authors and reviewers. The course and website follow Creative Commons licensing and pay particular attention to intellectual property. The students hope to be published at the end of this course after surviving the said scientific methods of journal editing and learning about biotechnology to boot.

Session Overview

The session starts with Professor Garrity describing a 20-year old course description that claims to deliver thoroughly out-of-date biotechnology topics and methods.  You would think this would mean a zero percent class registration, but in contrast the class has been increasing in size every year and the university has placed a cap at 50 students!  Word of mouth has ensured that this important course for all students is continued.  Why is this course important you ask?  Garrity goes on to explain that there are 5 essential elements students need to possess and are rarely taught in school:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Open to new ideas
  3. Problem solving
  4. Critical reading and listening skills
  5. Ability to express oneself clearly (written and verbal)

He continues on to describe what happens in the real world and skills you need to possess to become successful in your field:

  1. work on multidisciplinary teams
  2. be adaptable
  3. ability to acquire new skills quickly.

He shows how the course has changed over the 10 past years and how the course has come from a traditional lecture based series to a now completely virtual university with all lectures given online and students able to blog/chat online with each other and professor at the same time.  He has instituted a blog for students to ask questions about the given weekly lecture (and this is the class participation mark).  The students do not get away with mindless, redundant questions either.  They will get thrown back to the students to revise.

(Used with permission from Prof. Garrity)

(Used with permission from George Garrity)

The course is structured into 4 assignments:

  1. Review paper (topic of their choice from Current Biotechnology) 30%
  2. Student Reviewer (4 other student papers) 30%
  3. Presentation of their paper 30%
  4. Class Participation 10%

Garrity and invited expert guest lecturers ensure that the whole process is valid and conforms to proper methodology. They also ensure that students are true to their said interests and get the work authored and reviewed in a timely fashion. The whole process  has to be completed in one academic semester (13 weeks).  There is a 70% acceptance rate and students are held to high standards.  He relates to the class the importance of publication and how the scientific community uses this process to communicate, gain recognition and as a tool of quality control.

(used with permission from author-Garrity)

(used with permission from George Garrity)

The student publications can be viewed online via the Open Journal System and have been thoroughly cited in Google scholar.  These review article have been cited by other peer-reviewed articles multiple times, have been published by Elsevier and have been used in hiring interviews.  Student Alumni have come back to class to give ringing endorsements of the reality of the class and well as to become teaching assistants or guest lecturers.

One of the biggest components is the no-tolerance policy on plagiarism which is painfully spelled out by Garrity in class and even goes on to tell the students how he will catch them.  You would think this would turn students off of the idea, but he still gives examples of multiple plagiarized papers each semester.

As stated above the course goes beyond plenary sessions to include the above unique writing as well as faculty and student-generated online videos. They do this using Web 2.0 online programs (Adobe Connect Pro/Skype) which are similar to Jove (Journal of Visualised Experiments).  Please see the YouTube tutorial below for an example of how Adobe Connect Pro works.   These are easy to use and cheap to install in the classroom.

(used with permission from George Garrity)

(used with permission from George Garrity)

Questions from the audience

Most questions centred around plagiarism and how he could detect the multiple examples.

The shared techniques from simplest to complex were:

  • multiple different fonts in a paper
  • multiple writing styles in a paper
  • undergrad level English/grammar forging into graduate level writing and then back again
  • use of technically perfect writing, however strung together in such a way that it made no scientific sense

A specific technique he used centred around an “anchoring” word which is a word that shouldn’t be used commonly that appears.  He places this word with three or four surrounding words in google and tries to find wrong citations or mis-citations.  All evidences of plagiarism is reported back to the Academic Council and Dean.

Notable Accomplishments

The eJournal continues to increase in circulation with >92,400 downloads to date (Source).

Seven student articles have been downloaded > 2000 times and 23 papers over 1000 times (Source).

The eJournal has been chosen as the first place recipient in the 2007 MSU-AT&T Faculty-Staff Awards for Instuctional Technology.

Related Links

Open Journal Systems

Scientific Writing Reference texts

MMG 445 Homepage

YouTube Preview Image


July 10, 2009   1 Comment

Being an Open Access Press – the First Two Years: The Session Blog

Photo by C Gratham at PKP 2009

Photo by C Gratham at PKP 2009


  • Dr. Frits Pannekoek – President, Athabasca University, Bio
  • Walter Hildebrandt, Director, AU Press, Bio
  • Kathy Killoh – Journals and Digital Coordinator, AU Press, Bio
  • Shubhash Wasti – IT Systems Coordinator, AU Press, Bio

July 9, 2009, 11:30-am-12:30 pm. SFU Harbour Centre. Rm 1900


Athabasca University’s scholarly press, AU Press,  focusses on the dissemination of knowledge and research through open access digital journals and monographs and  through new electronic media.

Session Overview

The presenters illustrated Athabasca University’s journey over the past two years since the creation of their open access scholarly press: AU Press.

Part I – Views from above (Dr. Frits Pannekoek)

Dr. Pannekoek opened the presentation by reminding the audience that AU is fundamentally dedicated to removing all the barriers to learning and that they support the range of “open” initiatives in education including open educational resources, open data, open source software, as well as the  open access to scholarly work that is the primary work of AU Press.

1) International and National Context for Open Access

Dr. Pannekoek cautioned the audience that while they are advocates of open access, this view was not uniformly shared by all, as he was recently reminded while attending  the World Conference on Higher Education  in his role as president of the International Council on Open and Distance Education (ICDE).  Consequently, Dr Pannekoek believes that “we’ve got a big fight on our hands”, and  he listed the following issues  as significant barriers to further support for open access:

  • Support – the prevailing notion that  digitized materials never have adequate level of support
  • Quality –  the common assumption that the best model for learning lies in the traditional craft model (one-on-one relationship between professor and student)
  • Fraud – the fear of being plagiarised
  • Imperialism – the view in some quarters that the open access movement is another form of imperialism because it is largely controlled by the North

Dr. Pannekoek also summarized how people are reacting to the open access movement. In particular, he noted that we will face increasing regulation of the flows of knowledge (e.g. through funding structures) as well as commercial publishers who change their economic models to include more services that have traditionally been regarded as the domain of the universities themselves.

2) Philosophy behind starting up an open access university press

Dr. Pannekoek says it comes down to the basic question of “What can we do with the resources we have?”  Athabasca University spends upwards of 70% of their budget on academic salaries so they decided to use their resources to value what those people do and produce.

3) Open access business model

Athabasca introduced the “1% solution”. Here they  identified 1% of the budget in each area and dedicated it to scholarly communication and publishing. While they do solicit support from other areas, Dr. Pannekoek stressed the importance of looking within our own institutions for funding structures.

Part II – Not Either Or (Walter Hildebrandt)

Mr. Hildebrandt focused on six of issues important to the AU Press. First, he brought up the ideological issues related to open access publishing. These include considering the commoditization, privatization, and corporate control of knowledge in light of the public right to access publicly funded research. Next, he recapped the barriers and issues upon starting the AU Press. Here he recapped creating a charter, mandate, vision statement and goals and reviewed their funding arrangement. He also spoke of the initial skepticism at Athabasca University about expected revenue and of  potential  negative impacts of royalties of print publications.

Mr. Hildebrandt reminded the audience that AU Press publishes not just print or digitally, but both, and that they focus on certain areas of specialization. Thus far, their publications include twenty books, six journals, one website, and numerous author interviews, and  he very proudly pointed out AU Press’s four award winning books.

Next, Mr. Hildebrandt  reviewed some of their authors’ responses to open access monograph publishing. The concerns focused on issues around royalties and copyright control. On the positive side, authors reported increased citations and were encouraged that SSHRC encourages open access dissemination. But ultimately, as Dr. Hildebrandt says, people would “rather be read than not read”.

Mr. Hildebrandt concluded his part of the presentation  by touching on the future plans for the AU Press. By the year 2011 they plan to publish 30-35 books per year, more websites, more podcasts and videos , and to partner with other similar minded institutions.

Digital Publishing (Kathy Killoh)

Ms. Killoh focused on some of the details of AU Press publishing. First, she differentiated AU Press’s mandate of open access publishing from cutting edge e-publishing. For AU Press, open access publishing doesn’t mean all the  “bells and whistles”. Instead, they focus on placing publications online, for free, in PDF format.  They do see value added e-publishing (xml, epub, etc) as potential revenue opportunities in the future.

Ms Killoh also asked, “Is selling open access e-books an oxymoron?” For AU Press, apparently not.  She reported that, even though all this material is available for free on the web, they still sell many books (e.g. to libraries) that are made available through searchable databases by vendors.

Ms. Killoh also described some details of the author contracts and copyright at AU Press. Upon legal advice that the term is to vague, AU Press contracts avoid the term “open access”. Instead, they use the creative commons licences and refer to the specific terms within those licenses. The copyright  remains with the author, but the sign over licensing rights to AU Press. Royalties are negotiated individually for all contracts.

Finally, to conclude her portion of the presentation, Ms. Killoh took the audience on a tour of the AU Press website.

Part III – Hits and Sales – (Shubhash Wasti)

Mr. Wasti raised areas of further information that the AU Press needs  to more thoroughly evaluate the success of their open access publishing. They would like to know details of the number of visits they are getting for each publication. Preliminary data shows that their does seem to be some correlation between the number of downloads and the number of sales, but that the ratio is not constant. In the sample presented, the ratio of downloads to sales varies from a low of 3:1 up as high as 65:1. Additionally, AU Press would like to track the sales of printed books and investigate the relationship between the number of downloads and the number of sales. While the print sales seem “reasonable”, they would like to the relationship to a number of factors (e.g. subject area, demographics, accessibility from type of device, etc)

Discussion and audience questions

  • Terry Anderson’s book, The Theory and Practice of Online Learning , has become very well known in China, and  this could account for very high downloads of that book.
  • Question: How does the pricing of their print books compare to those of commercial publishers? Answer: They try to break even and to cover the cost of print because the cost of open access publishing is covered by the institutional support.
  • Question: What are the financial issues around keeping content online for a long time? Answer: They appear to be the same as the IT infrastructure issues that all institutions face. They need both an increase in capital and in operating budgets.

Related Links

July 9, 2009   3 Comments

Visibility, Quality and Empowerment: the Journals Online Project at INASP: The Session Blog

Presenter: Sioux Cumming, Session Abstract

July 9, 2009 at 4:00 p.m.


Sioux Cumming, originally from Zimbabwe, works with the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP). Sioux works on the INASP Journals Online project (JOLs) where there are now five JOLs (BanglaJOL in Bangladesh, NepJOL in Nepal, PhilJOL in Philippine, SLJOL in Sri Lanka and VJOL in Vietnam). Sioux identifies new journals to be included, works with the editors of the journals to load new issues and keeps the websites up to date. She records the statistics relating to the usage of the sites and produces newsletters for each of them. Sioux is also involved in training editors in the publishing workshops and she assists in the AuthorAID project.

Session Overview

INASP isn’t well known in the Western world. INASP’s mission is to increase worldwide access to academic information. PERii is INASP’s main programme. INASP negotiates deeply discounted licenses with journal publishers for developing countries. Less well known is INASP’s work to make local research well known to the rest of the world. So INASP is both trying to make western journals accessible to developing countries and getting developing countries journals accessible to the whole world. INASP is funded by Department for International Development (UK) and Swedish Cedar.

Africa Journals Online (AJOL) was established in 1998 and the experiences with that have led to improvements and led to the subsequent migration to Open Journal Systems (OJS). AJOL has now been transferred to a local host and managed by them, as INASP’s mandate is to always to pass on to local resources.

AJOL was a continent wide site with 26 countries represented (now with 350 journals), but in Asia, each country wanted its own site, so Nepal and Vietnam JOLs were followed by Bangladesh JOL and PhilJol and lastly SLJOL in 2008. So 5 country based JOLs have been created in the last couple years, to finally be followed by a continent wide journal – AsiaJOL.

Workshops are the primary tool for launching a journal online (JOL). Online tutorials, CDs or remote training are just not effective. Many of these editors have little prior experience with a website, so a series of 3-4 day workshops are needed. So first they bring editors together and discuss online issues (open access movement, being online, the need for a strategic plan), then another after we’ve established a JOL (more strategic issues, improving quality of the JOL, increasing visibility of the JOL and how to load content) and then a 3rd workshop is editorial (working with editors, working with reviews, how roles related and how to use peer review system online).

A lot of monitoring of JOLs is done. In summary, across the 5 Asian JOLs there are 133 journals of which 76% of the articles are full text (open access full text). This is different from AJOL, there is more buy-in to open access in these Asian countries. There are 6500 articles all together and there have been 1.3 million views of all these articles and 800000 visits since these 5 Asian JOLs started. These figures are small, but these are journals, which had not previously had wide circulation. More encouraging is that data is showing that people are coming from the US and UK to look at these JOLs, from 200 countries in total to view these journals.

INASP encourages editors to monitor their own views i.e. which articles are viewed most, which least and then to determine what course of action to take with this data. Testimonials are also collected and are important to funders.

INASP has provided a web presence to journals which had none before or were buried deep in university web sites. Now if you search for any of these journals on Google Scholar, they come up. This is a cheap and simple program for getting journals accessible. INASP pays the hosting charges. All journals become part of a community as editors and teams meet other from other disciplines in workshops. This develops a network of production teams. The workshops have been very successful, face to face contact is important. JOL newsletters are produced every 6 months and subscribing to them is an easy way to understand what is happening with a JOL.

Session Questions

Question: We need to collect research about the work of these journals, to see how increase in submissions is related to viewing and how this relates to numbers of reviewers. All this builds a research culture and community. We need to start showing the growth of this community.  How big is the submission plus review community, when you start to add these together we start to measure a research network, a research network enabled by this open access journal.
Answer: Yes, I agree. We do need to do this.

Question: Where did additional submissions come from?
Answer: Some journals are not yet accepting online submissions. For those that are, they are getting a lot from Nigeria, Turkey, Iran and India. Bangladesh journal of Botany has a lot of submissions from Turkey. So a lot of south – south communication is occurring.

References and Related Links



International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP)

Journals OnLine (JOL) Projects (INASP)

Bangladesh Journals Online (BanglaJOL)

Nepal Journals Online (NepJOL)


Philippine Journals Online (PhilJOL)

Sri Lanka Journals Online (SLJOL)

Vietnam Journals Online (VJOL)

July 9, 2009   Comments Off on Visibility, Quality and Empowerment: the Journals Online Project at INASP: The Session Blog

10 Years Experience with Open Access Publishing and the Development of Open Access Software Tools: The Session Blog

Presenter: Gunther Eysenbach

July 9, 2009 at 3:00 p.m.

Gunther Eysenbach

Gunther Eysenbach


Gunther Eysenbach is editor/publisher of the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), which has presently been established as the top peer-reviewed journal in the field of ehealth.

Eysenbach is also an associate professor with the Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (HPME) at the University of Toronto.  In addition, he is a senior scientist for the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation.  The JMIR boasts an impact factor of 3.0 which is highly ranked within other journals of health and sciences (Eysenbach2009).

Session Overview

Eysenbach have a condensed version during his session discussion due to time constraints but he managed to give the audience the key elements of where JMIR began to its present developments.  He referred to the main concepts of JMIR being described as triple ‘o’ (open access, open source, open peer-reviewed).  The basis of his talk was to explain the evolution and modifications that JMIR uses to continue to develop and publish online medical journals.

JMIR has developed a system that allows many facets of the publishing of journals to interface with online Web based technologies.  JMIR’s structure uses the concept of OJS but also has adapted the business model to keep up with the ever changing structures of the Web.  For example, JMIR has developed a system that re-bundles the topics of the journal collections called eCollections to place common topic journals together.

There are three levels of membership/subscription.  Individual membership, institutional membership and institutional membership B (Gold).  The online business model supports complex innovations such as the generating of electronic invoices for members, automatic word check for plagiarism of author submissions and fast track editing options.

JMIR also experimented with open peer-review systems and found that approximately 20% of the authors want open peer-review but JMIR continues to look at this issue and currently has a section on the submission form for authors to be self assigned or editor assigned.  The editors can view what is called the Submissions Dashboard to get a visual charting of the various submissions and the status whether it me a fast track edit or not and the editor can track the submissions status.

JMIR’s system also integrates XML into OJS with conversion scripts and the system can edit XML files online.  Also, there is WebCite which is an on-demand archiving system used so that readers and authors can have the same version of file.

Audience Input

Questions arose around copyright issues which Eysenbach addressed that JMIR uses “fair use” policies and that submission forms invite authors to inform the journal if they want their work archived or not.

Costs of membership for developing countries was also a question from the floor and Eysenbach responded to inform the audience that various models are currently being looked at – possibly increasing membership fees to subsidize developing country authors but the issue around subsidizing criteria has yet to be worked out.  This was recognized as a dilemma.


Eysenbach, G. (2009). Open Access journal JMIR rises to top of its discipline. Retrieved July 7, 2009, from

Related Links

Research at University Health Network


July 9, 2009   Comments Off on 10 Years Experience with Open Access Publishing and the Development of Open Access Software Tools: The Session Blog

Questioning “Accessibility”, Conceptualizing Diversity, and Practising Inclusion: The Session Blog

Date: July 9, 2009

michael felzcak

Presenter: Michael Felczak, PhD student, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University. Online editor for the Canadian Journal of Communication, a researcher at the Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology and at the Applied Communication Technology Lab at SFU, as well as researcher and developer for PKP.

Session Overview



Michael began with the following quote, adding clarity by framing it in today’s expanded use of internet, to set the stage for his presentation:

“The power of the web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” – Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines were reviewed. The main idea is to provide text alternatives for non-text content. This enables people with text tools to use it with assistive devices to access content.

Today, he focused on video in particular because it is being used so widely today. For example, a text transcript would be satisfactory to meet guidelines to accompany with the video. Restricting our understanding in terms of disability, doesn’t really address the needs of others online.

What about users with internet connections one day, but not the next? Downloading the video would still allow access if no connection.

What about users with expensive internet connections? Paying for each megabyte every time they access your site costs money.

What about users with slow or unstable connections? If they could download and save it offline, they could view it later.

What about users relying on mobile devices…developing countries, students, or faculty who use the latest gadgets? Flash support is starting to appear on some devices, not others. Apple isn’t interested.

These examples show we need to broaden our conception to be more socially inclusive.

We can improve if we:
1. provide direct download options

2. multiple file formats for Window, Apple and Linux

3. offer high and low resolution files for download options. Content shouldn’t download unless you click play. [In some cases, it begins downloading right away, tying up bandwidth.

– a third of all Dell notebooks are Linux
– developing countries are using Linux
– non-profits provide free PCs using Linux

We should also license audio/video using Creative Commons to allow sub-titles or use in other languages and allowing local distribution on other media.

We encourage CC symbol and use.

The online publisher will experience cost and time. Windows, Apple and Linux all require technology tools. Each time you use audio and video, you can convert the files to other formats quite easily. SUPER, by eRightSoft, is the popular tool for converting files. See the slides online for the various tool formats and details.

Final notes:
– start with the original each time to convert files and avoid loss of quality
– the higher the resolution, the higher the file size
– similar problems and principles apply to audio
– many free resources and guides are available online

Audience Discussion and Questions:

[Please note that questions and answers have been paraphrased]

1. Are there no standards that apply for video and audio? In theory, yes, but in practice, Windows wants their standards, Apple wants theirs, etc.  It comes down to this – as a publisher, can you do a little extra to do the work or do you want to force your readers to do the work of finding a reader? I think it makes sense for the publisher to do a little extra work and save readers the time.

2. <Question not heard> In NA, we assume everyone connects the same way and we design tools to interact with content in that context. We  need to rethink this.

3. Comment: As someone who came from performing arts, I did quite a bit of research on voice description, for example. A low vision patron viewing the video can still access the content if someone is describing movement,etc. This could be included.

4. Comment: I think it’s very healthy to revisit everything that is done so that it improves. Issues with accessibility are very important and we’re seeing mobile access growing, and access to indigenous areas, are very important. It’s more than providing tools, it’s showing them how to use it, how to use it safely, and it’s a daunting task. You need a large team. I’m glad to be here and see this room full of people talk about an important aspect: allowing people of different cognitive abilities and others to access and understand content. Thank you.

5. Do you have any resources for simple language symbols, in terms of translating a text so that it’s more readable for a more visual learner? The blogger suggested that resources requested may be available from Dr. Rose at CAST, the Universal Design for Learning website listed below.

Presentation link: to be added by conference organizers.

Related Links:

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Converter software from SUPER

Universal Design for Learning, CAST

July 9, 2009   Comments Off on Questioning “Accessibility”, Conceptualizing Diversity, and Practising Inclusion: The Session Blog

On Open Humanities Press: A Panel Presentation by Members of the OHP Steering Group: The Session Blog

July 9, 9:30AM – Fletcher Challenge Room 1900


Barbara Cohen, Director of Humanitech, University of California, Irvine.  Steering Group, The Open Humanities Press.

Gary Hall, Professor, Media and Performing Arts, Coventry University, UK.  Co-founder of The Open Humanities Press.

Session Abstract

Archived video stream of session


Launched in May, 2008, The Open Humanities Press (OHP) is a scholar -led open access publishing initiative that currently publishes 10 journals.  Central to OHP’s vision are goals articulated by the Budapest Open Access declaration (2002) to remove barriers to scholarly literature, accelerate research, enrich education and share the learning of the rich world with the poor.

Session Overview


Photo: J. Miller - PKP Conference

Barbara Cohen started the session with what she called “Open Access 101”, a quick survey of some basic principles and recent initiatives focused on ideas of giving free and open access to peer-reviewed scholarly literature on the Internet.   This background is important context to consider in relation to the principles and goals driving The Open Humanities Press (OHP), an open access publishing house that launched in 2008 with 7 journals (now 10).  Central to OHP’s vision are goals articulated by the Budapest Open Access declaration (2002) to remove barriers to scholarly literature, accelerate research, enrich education and share the learning of the rich world with the poor.  Cohen went on to note that despite the fact that most scholars prefer to read electronic copies of articles, the Internet is still perceived by many Humanties scholars as being an unsuitable publishing medium for serious humanities research.  In a 2008 talk at Irvine, Sigi Jӧttkandt, one of the co-founders of the OHP, characterized this perception where the Internet was seen as “a sort of open free-for-all of publishing” medium in stark contrast to trusted, peer-reviewed paper-based scholarly journals.  The OHP was envisioned as a means to overcome this perception by bringing high-quality editorial standards and design processes to the field of Humanities scholarly publishing on the Internet.  It was essential for the founders of the OHP that scholars felt that its journals would be good places to publish.  The founders of the OHP feel that their stragegy of developing an open access publishing house has been a good way to gain the trust of the scholarly community in the humanities.

Cohen described OHP’s key goals as: advocating Open Access in the Humanities; fostering a community of prestigious Humanities scholars; promoting intellectual diversity, and exploring new forms of scholarly collaboration.  A strong peer review model was seen to be key to the success of the OHP in developing a level of creditability and trust amongst Humanist scholars, and to that end, the OHP has gathered a prestigious, rotating editorial board, as well as a strong steering group, all without any operating budget.  The OHP also has worked to bring  open access content to its readers in journals that share high production values and effective leveraging of new technologies such as PKP’s Open Journals System and, in the future PKP’s Open Manuscript Press software.

Gary Hall


Photo: J. Miller - PKP Conference

The second speaker, Gary Hall, picked up the importance of open access initiatives with books and monographs.  Such initiatives were particularly significant in the Humanities because scholars in these disciplines place such emphasis on books over journal articles.   Hall discussed several book projects that are underway with The OHP, describing these efforts as focused upon a new cultural studies project, liquid books with a fluid structure up to the challenge of exploring the potential shape of the book to come.  The first of these books has been published as New Cultural Studies: The Liquid Theory Reader.  Hall was particularly interested in the potential of experimental projects that would allow scholars to challenge traditional concepts of the codex by expanding to include the range of materials/media found within printed books: excerpts, snippets of media, clips from multimodal texts.  Such an exploration is an important response to the emerging landscape for digital texts, a landscape influenced by the proliferation of books scanned by Google and reading devices from ipods to Kindles.

Hall also indicated his interest in creative ways to employ open access and open editing strategies in liquid books that were free for anyone to read, write, remix, and reinvent to produce alternate parallel versions of books.  Such acts of distributed writing and editing within liquid texts would, Hall hoped, raise critical challenges to traditional notions of authorship, intellectual property, authority, etc.  This potential dismantling of the authority of the text was a particular challenge for open access initiatives, as they ran the risk of reinscribing and reproducing traditional approaches and limits of current knowledge production, this time in an electronic space. Drawing upon Derrida, Foucault and Barthes, Hall offered that open access could bring interrogations of academic authorship so as to loosen up these notions, making them less fixed and rigid (more jello-like).  By recognizing some wobbles in the smooth surface of academic publishing, scholars would be in a good position to delineate and respond to shifts in power and authority increasingly evident in decentralized forms of writing such as MyTimes (a cross between the associated press and an RSS reader), Wikipedia (a networked, distributed and very liquid work), and other such fluid sites for knowledge production.   Such a redistribution and decentring of traditional authority could help scholars to avoid replicating the current centre/periphery dynamics of knowledge production and dissemination, an imbalance that sees 90% of the world’s scientific research being published by just 15 countries.

Question Period

During the question period, one member of the audience identified a contradictory tension that seemed evident in the presentations offered in the session.  On the one hand, the speakers stressed a need to establish the credibility of academic publishing.  On the other hand, it was clear that there was also a keen interest in exploring the boundaries of new media (and traditional academic practice) so as to destabilize the model of academic publishing alongside the decentring of other concepts like authority (authorship), and the very form of scholarly writing be it journal articles or monographs.  Keeping these things in balance is quite a challenge, especially when many scholars are as intent on building credibility in these new forms of academic scholarship at the same time as others are intent on destabilizing the very units and processes that have long characterized academic discourse.  This somewhat anxious tension seems to describe aptly the stance of Humanist scholars exploring new cultural studies.

Related Links

The Open Humanities Press – Website for The Open Humanities Press, with links to their current journals: Cosmos and History, Culture Machine, Fast Capitalism, Fibreculture, Film-Philosophy, Image and Narrative, International Journal of Žižek Studies, Parrhesia, Postcolonial Text, Vectors.

Hall, G. (2008). Digitize This Book!: The Politics of New Media, or Why We Need Open Access Now (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press).

Jӧttkandt, S. (2008). Free Libre Scholarship: The Open Humanities Press. Irvine, 3 April, 2008.

Jӧttkandt, S. and Hall, G. (2007).  Beyond Impact: OA in the Humanities.  Brussels, 13 February, 2007.

King, J., Lynch, C, Willinsky, J. (2009) Open Access in the Humanities. Podcast.  University of California, Irvine.

July 9, 2009   2 Comments

Open access journals copyright policies: an analysis of the information available to prospective authors: The Session Blog

Thursday, July 9, 2009 @ 11:30
SFU Harbour Centre (Earl & Jennie Lohn Rm 7000)




Marc Couture (Science & Technology professor at Tele-université: Université du Quebec à Montréal’s distance education component)

Session Overview

Session Abstract

Marc Couture presents his research findings about the availability of copyright policies on open access journals. He addresses the assumptions about copyright, the statistics related to his study and recommends a framework for publishers to use with respect to making copyright decisions that take into account the best interests of both the author and publisher.


Couture urges authors to become aware of the copyright policies associated with the journals they are interested being published in. He establishes some basic assumptions he operates on about copyright prior to his research including: copyright is important to authors, the deal between the author and publisher involved in publishing an article must be legally and ethically fair and that the interests of the journal, the author and the end-user (the reader of the article) must be equally taken into account.


The guiding question for Couture’s research was “where can information on copyright be found on open access journals websites?” Specifically, Couture was looking to see if a prospective author can infer from the website who will keep copyright, what rights the author will retain and what permissions will be given to end-users. 300 journals (representing 251 publishers) from the DOAJ list were randomly selected and scoured for any form of copyright that could include statements, Creative Commons (“CC”) licenses, transfer/license forms etc. Key results indicate that copyright information was not easy to find – 9% of journals did not have copyright information and 63% of journals had copyright information buried on an “other page” (ie. not a home page or specific copyright page). Additionally, copyright policy was not consistent across journals; something that prospective authors need to be acutely aware of.

Couture points to the relevant issue of semantics in relation to copyright statements. He identifies key words found in copyright statements ranging from ambiguous terms, such as “make available” and “copy” to more precise terms, such as “photocopy” and “display publicly”. “Use” is the umbrella term that envelops all terms and copyright statements that rely on “use” to direct the reader are clearly poorly defined. An example from a copyright statement is given:

“the full text of articles can only be used for personal or educational purposes?”

The uncertainty that lies within the statement is demonstrated in attempting to answer two questions

–    Can a teacher post the article on his website?
–    Can an engineer working in a company distribute printed copies of the article to her team member?

In addition to the ambiguity of specific words, Couture points out that too many words is no better than too few words.  Another factor that requires clarification is whether or not everything that is not explicitly forbidden is permitted. Couture poses this question as an example to publishers that if their exact intentions are not stated, prospective authors and end users might derive incorrect assumptions about copyright.


As a result of his research, Couture wanted to create a proposal that would define the outline of a software tool which could help a journal by generating, through a series of inputs, a clear and unambiguous statement indicating copyright policy that could be add to a website.  The key, he says, is generating simple text that is aimed at authors and end users. This is a work in progress and Couture would like to see the publisher approach the grid from the viewpoint of “what do I want as a publisher?” rather than “what do I want to forbid the author from doing?”.

The exact content of copyright policies are investigated and Couture notes that about half of the journals require a transfer of ownership from the author to the publisher. This leads to Couture’s secondary motive – establishing the divide that exists between the desires of authors with regards to copyright and the reality of publishing. Couture would like to see what he refers to as “fair practices” whereby there is no transfer of copyright, no more rights than required are granted to the publisher and broad end user permissions are in place (in the form of CC licenses).

Couture’s presentation makes it clear that the copyright policies of open access journals lack a common sense of purpose or consistency and that publishers should make copyright clarification a priority.

Related Links

Article – “The facts about Open Access”

Directory of open access journals

Related Reading

Hoorn, E., & van der Graaf, M. (2005). Towards good practices of copyright in Open Access Journals. A study among authors of articles in Open Access journals. Pleiade Management & Consultancy.

July 9, 2009   Comments Off on Open access journals copyright policies: an analysis of the information available to prospective authors: The Session Blog