Live-blogging the 2009 Vancouver PKP Conference

On Library Publishing and the Open Humanities Press: A Panel Presentation by the UCLA Library and the University of Michigan Library’s Scholarly Publishing Office: The Session Blog

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


Marta Brunner, Librarian for English and American Literature and Comparative Literature at the Charles E. Young Research Library at UCLA

Shana Kimball, Publications Manager in the Scholarly Publishing Office (SPO) at the University of Michigan Library

Session Abstract

Archived Video Stream of Session


This session provided the library perspective as a follow up to the previous discussion on the Open Humanities Press (OHP) and its involvement with digital monographs, or “liquid books” (Hall). UCLA is working in partnership with the Open Humanities Press to fulfil a number of open access ideals, while the University of Michigan Library is working specifically to produce and distribute many of the works housed by the OHP online.

Session Overview

Marta Brunner at the PKP Conference (courtesy J. Miller)

Marta Brunner at the PKP Conference (courtesy J. Miller)

Marta Brunner began the second half of the Open Humanities session by explaining her involvement with the online press. Originally she blogged the OHP and its endeavours prior to being contacted by one its founders, Sigi Jöttkandt, to be part of the body’s steering committee. Brunner has used her association with the OHP to bridge the dichotomous divide between research and library domains, which UCLA library has found to be an enormous asset.

“What future is UCLA library working to achieve?” Brunner asserted that this overarching question is the underlying motivation for the university’s work with the OHP. Furthermore, in light of the financial crisis and reduced budgets, open access issues are at a “watershed moment” where scholars and librarians will be working together to make more research freely available online. Brunner then outlined the library’s six fold vision, which ranges in order from most to least achievable:

1. UCLA seeks to be a flourishing hub of institutional repositories. While this is gaining ground many professors are still distrustful of online sources and perceive them to lack the same credibility as their print counterparts.

2. The library envisions itself as a curator of scholarly records. While this is considered a mandate for most university libraries, the “costs of migration” mean that “much content is overlooked” (Brunner).

3. UCLA hopes to disseminate an increasing amount of new digital media, which “enables semantically enhanced” (Brunner) products. The library has not been able to fulfil this goal on a large scale, but has created digital maps through the Hypercities project.

4. The library anticipates playing a greater role in providing open access content in classrooms. The UCLA library uses “a more liberal policy” (Brunner) towards content, which aligns neatly with the ideals of the OHP. One of the main benefits of this institutional leniency will be the increasing availability of cheaper text books spawned from more widely recognised open access scholarship.

5. The UCLA library hopes to be a paragon of a sustainable business model for housing and distributing open access content. Brunner used the comparison of the cost of a Toyota Corolla and the journal “Applied Polymer Science”: The periodical costs considerably more. Consequently, libraries will be facing economic crises as budgets are cut and journal costs stay high.

6. The most difficult goal to attain will be reducing to restrictive nature of academic tenure on open access scholarship. The generally perceived lack of authority of online sources continues to hinder the open access movement.

Shana Kimball at the PKP Conference (Courtesy J. Miller)

Shana Kimball at the PKP Conference (Courtesy J. Miller)

Shana Kimball began by posing a different question: “How do we scale a liquid book?” The University of Michigan Scholarly Publishing Office (SPO) seeks to provide an answer for this important query. Kimball outlined the role of the publishing branch of the library bOpen Humanities Press Panelefore explaining its core principles. The speaker then elaborated upon how these values guide the publisher’s work towards making research publications more cost effective, as well as elucidating on its partnership with the Open Humanities Press.

The University of Michigan publishing branch currently supports forty predominantly open access online journals, as well as a few print publications. The organisation also runs a “robust” reprint service for its online repositories and has published over 9000 titles on Amazon. Additionally, the SPO is working with the OHP to develop its online monograph (single subject books) endeavour as part of a pilot project whereby the university will “convert, host, provide access to, and archive” the series.

The University of Michigan Scholarly Publishing Office also operates with a set of six main beliefs to guide its aim of making scholarly publishing “more sustainable and scalable” (Kimball):

1. The SPO works at the peripheries of mainstream library services by providing copyright counsel in the copyright arena, cataloguing metadata, maintaining digital library functions and financing complicated transactions.

2. The SPO forms partnerships with other organisations to provide supplementary services, such as content sharing or publication conversions into digital forms amongst other enterprises.

3. The SPO believes strongly in protecting the rights of authors to use their own material as they see fit.

4. The SPO takes small, calculated risks that focus on perpetuating and promoting experimental texts, such as producing scholarly works within Comment Press that can be freely annotated.

5. The SPO provides a myriad of services that range from electronic publication to print on demand to content preservation.

6. The SPO is working cooperatively with the Open Humanities Press to extend its number of published series, as well as further enhance its reputation for high quality academic work. Authors will be able to choose to use a creative commons license while retaining copyright protection.

Ultimately, the SPO cannot attain the goal of supporting the OHP without creating partnerships with other bodies. Furthermore, the task of producing single monograph publications is a daunting one because the library / publisher relationship has been traditionally weak. Kimball concluded her presentation by welcoming interested parties to inquire about future collaborative endeavours and reaffirmed her organisation’s commitment to building the reputation of open access content, as well as being an agent of change in the advancement of the Open Humanities Press’ ideals.


Both the UCLA Library and the University of Michigan Scholarly Publishing Office acknowledge to importance of the Open Humanities Press and seek to propagate its principles to the wider academic community. However, achieving change and gaining acknowledgment is proving to be difficult due to general academic distrust, high operational costs, a system of reputation based incentives that favour established scholars, as well as an overwhelming amount of content through which to sort. The goals of the OHP are laudable, but there needs to be an economic compromise between open dissemination of information at no cost to the consumer and providing profitable rewards to creators, researchers or artists in order to perpetuate the transmission of knowledge. The University of Michigan SPO appears to be negotiating this difficult dialectic by working with open access supporters, while charging for unique services and publishing traditional print journals, which is referred to as the mixed approach (Schmidt et al., 2005). The UCLA library, on the other hand, is focussing on reducing costs by embracing predominantly open access works. It will be interesting to see which institution offers the more sustainable business model and if other libraries will adopt these new paradigms. Moreover, it illustrates that the new open access ethos is having to coexist with traditional print resources until an alternative, yet effective, system of rewards can be established.

Related Links

Open Humanities Press

UCLA Library

University of Michigan Scholarly Publishing Office


Comment Press


Albert, K. M. (2006). Open access: implications for scholarly publishing and medical libraries. J Med Libr Assoc, 94 (3), Retrieved July 9, 2009, from

Antelman, K. (2004). Do open-access articles have a greater research impact?. College & Research Libraries, September, Retrieved July 9, 2009, from

Schmidt, K. D., Sennyey, P., & Carstens, T. V. (2005). New roles for a changing environment: Implications of open access for libraries. College & Research Libraries, September, Retrieved July 9, 2009, from

July 12, 2009   Comments Off on On Library Publishing and the Open Humanities Press: A Panel Presentation by the UCLA Library and the University of Michigan Library’s Scholarly Publishing Office: The Session Blog

Free? What’s So Special About Learning? The Intellectual Property Argument: The Session Blog

Taken at the Open Medicine benefit fund-raiser; November 21, 2007 (Source:

Presenter: Dr. John Willinsky – Director, Public Knowledge Project. Professor, Stanford University and the University of British ColumbiaBio

July 8, 2009, 7:30-pm. Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue

Session Overview

Dr. Willinsky  set  the context for his address by using adoption of  Open Journal System to illustrate the expansion of open access. He noted that at the 2007 PKP conference, 1000 journals used OJS. Now, at  the 2009 conference, there are approximately 3000 OJS journals. Of these, he noted that 29% spend $0 on expenses and 24% reported no revenue at all. Dr. Willinsky noted that these figures indicate the emergence of a new, third kind of independent journal that can run on a zero budget economic model.

However, Dr. Willinsky asks us not to focus on this knowledge being free (as in beer). After all, scholarly work is not free: it is very labour intensive. Through the entire domain of research, curriculum development,  writing, editing, reviewing, and publishing in journals, scholarly work is expensive. Consequently, he argues for expanding the conversation about open access to scholarly publishing beyond the question of it being free. Instead, he asks us to reach back in time and recall how learning has long been treated as a type of (intellectual) property that is distinct from other (economic) properties.  “There is a distinction between the type of intellectual property we produce in education and that produced by Michael Jackson or Justin Timberlake, so why should it be treated the same?”

Using a number of examples to illustrate the point, Dr. Willinsky recounted the historical consistency of the university being recognized as something outside of the regular economy. He pointed out that by the 12th century there was already such recognition in that university members had many special rights including some rights of the clergy, the right of safe conduct, and the right to bring manuscripts across borders without paying tax. He also spoke about how scholarly contributions were recognized through acts of patronism from royalty and how rent controls were used in Oxford to protect students from being exploited by greedy landlords.

In particular, Dr. Willinsky notes that this different view of the property of education is rooted in John Locke’s  work on property. Locke spoke about property in two different ways: that we are given the work in common, and  that every man has property in his own body.  To Locke, because we labour (work), we have some claim to property based on the notion of  the right to exclude (enclosure). The intellectual property of learning is founded in these basic Lockean principles (e.g. labour invested and held in common), but it is somewhat different because it’s  value is not realized in the principle of exclusion. Instead, if we enclose intellectual property,  we reduce it’s value.  So the value of intellectual property is realized when it is shared and that value increases the less restrictive it is. Dr. Willinsky summarized this Lockean  argument about the intellectual property of learning as follows: we hold all this knowledge in common and we realize it’s value in the unrestricted circulation of this intellectual property.

Turning to some of the relevant legal aspects of the argument, Dr. Willinsky began by recounting the  fight over the licensing of books. In the 17th century, there was such excessive piracy that it removed the financial incentives for produce and publish books. Consequently, in 1710 the first copyright act (Statute of Anne) was passed to specifically recognize the rights of authors. Significantly, this statue was noted as an   “act for the encouragement of learning”.  Additionally, the act also recognized the right of universities to publish what ever they wanted and required publishers to provide to university libraries with 9 copies, on the best paper, of each book they published.

Moving to modern times, Dr. Willinsky  illustrated this special place that intellectual properties of learning have been given  with a number of examples:

  • Fair dealing (fair use in US) exceptions to copyright law. These include the  right to quote for non-commercial, critical and parody use and provides protection under the law for students and scholars.
  • The academic exception to intellectual property rights. Scholars have the natural ownership rights to all the  works they produce, unlike  other non-educational industries where workers don’t have those rights.
  • Patent law allows us to use patented material for learning without paying a fee.
  • Tax exemptions for university endowments in the US.

In closing, Dr. Willinsky asked the audience to take up the challenge as follows:

  • In our work he asks us to focus not on  making things free, but to promote the notion that the value of the work we do in education is realized in it’s sharing.
  • He asks us to look for opportunities to defend and experiment, to take advantages of opportunities to share our work, to expand our own policies moving toward open access, and to demonstrate the ways that intellectual properties of learning are different.

Related Links

July 10, 2009   1 Comment

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

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