Author Archives: David Jenkins

What was the first academic journal?

Well, like most things in academia, the question of which academic journal came first is contested.

Usually, it’s seen as being between Journal des sçavans, which was based in Parisand Philosophical Transactions, produced by the Royal Society of London.

It is not contested that Journal des sçavans was the first of these to be published. The first issue was published on January 5th 1665 whereas the first issue of Philosophical Transactions was published 60 day later.

However, the issue seems to be whether historians consider Journal des sçavans to be a “true” academic journal, with some believing that it didn’t contain enough original science to count.

Either way, the history of scholarly communications is fascinating and I look forward to digging into it some more to see what it can tell us about the future of academic publishing.

References

History of Philosophical Transactions. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2019, from The Secret History of the Scientific Journal website: https://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/philosophicaltransactions/brief-history-of-phil-trans/

McClellan, J. E. (2005). Scientific Journals. In A. C. Kors (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment (online). Retrieved from https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780195104301.001.0001/acref-9780195104301-e-652 (subscription-based resource)

The Royal Society. (2019). History of Philosophical Transactions. Retrieved June 27, 2019, from The Royal Society website: https://royalsociety.org/journals/publishing-activities/publishing350/history-philosophical-transactions/

Spinak, E., & Packer, A. L. (2015). 350 years of scientific publication: from the “Journal des Sçavans” and Philosophical Transactions to SciELO. Retrieved June 27, 2019, from SciELO in Perspective website: https://blog.scielo.org/en/2015/03/05/350-years-of-scientific-publication-from-the-journal-des-scavans-and-philosophical-transactions-to-scielo/#.XRSE8uhKiUm

Swoger, B. (2012). The (mostly true) origins of the scientific journal. Retrieved June 27, 2019, from Scientific American Blog Network website: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/information-culture/the-mostly-true-origins-of-the-scientific-journal/

Plan S – a primer

What is Plan S?

Plan S is a radical proposal regarding open access (OA) to research publications.

It was created by cOAlition S, a group of research funders co-ordinated by Science Europe. It includes UKRI (UK Research and Innovation), Wellcome, the European Research Council (ERC), the European Commission and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

What does Plan S propose?

The crux of Plan S is that peer-reviewed research publications resulting from grants that the coalition allocate:

“must be fully and immediately open and cannot be monetised in any way”

cOAlition S believe they have a duty of care towards research as a whole. Thus they favour OA because it helps research function more efficiently and have greater impact on society. They feel there is no justification for keeping research publications behind paywalls and that progress towards OA needs accelerating.

More specifically, Plan S requires that all peer-reviewed research publications funded via calls posted from 1st January 2021 must be:

  • Published in an OA journal where the content is OA immediately (gold OA)

OR

OR

  • Published in an OA repository where the content is OA immediately (green OA with no embargo)
      • At The OU, authors could comply by depositing their work in ORO, as long as the work meets all other Plan S requirements

Making research data and other outputs OA is encouraged and a statement clarifying policy regarding monographs and book chapters is expected by the end of 2021.

Other headlines include:

  • Publication in hybrid journals (i.e. subscription-based journals that charge a fee to make articles OA) will not be supported…
    • …unless the journal moves towards becoming fully OA within a defined timeframe under a “transformative arrangement”
  • Authors or their institutions must retain copyright
    • CC-BY is the preferred license
  • Publishers should charge reasonable fees for OA and make the structure of these fees transparent
    • Funders may even standardise and cap the fees they pay
  • A commitment to the responsible evaluation of research when allocating funds
    • The coalition states it will judge research on its own merit and not on things like the journal it was published in or metrics such as Journal Impact Factor
  • Compliance with Plan S will be monitored and non-compliance will be sanctioned

However, the devil is in the detail – there are a lot of elements to Plan S and we recommend reading it yourself to see which aspects might impact you.

What are people saying about Plan S?

There have been a LOT of reactions to Plan S and these are, predicatably, mixed. Some of the themes I have noticed are:

  • Many people support the aims of Plan S
  • There is concern it is too STEM-focused and will negatively affect AHSS researchers
  • There is concern regarding some of the implementation detail
    • e.g. the technical specifications regarding publications, OA repositories and other OA platforms
  • Some believe it will impinge academic freedom
    • i.e. to choose where and how to publish
  • There is concern about the effects it will have on smaller publishers and learned societies
  • The timescale is too ambitious
  • We have been here before
    • There have been statements, reports and policies made in the past which did not push through the radical change anticipated

 

What is next for Plan S?

There is still a lot of uncertainty regarding the detail and implementation of Plan S, so all concerned will need to keep a watching brief.

What are responsible metrics?

“Responsible metrics” refers to the ethical and appropriate use of citation-based metrics (e.g. citation counts, Journal Impact Factor, H-index), altmetrics (e.g. how many times research is mentioned, used, saved and shared on blogs, social media and social bookmarking services) and other quantitative means of evaluating research.

It applies to everyone involved in using or producing these metrics e.g.:

  • researchers
  • funders
  • institutions (i.e. universities and other bodies that employ researchers)
  • publishers
  • organisations that supply metrics

The idea is to offer guidelines for good practice that help prevent scenarios such as:

  • a journal article being judged solely on the journal it is published in rather than on its own merit
  • universities focusing on improving their place in a ranking list, when the completeness of data and appropriateness of measures the list uses are contested
  • employers using arbitrary metric thresholds to hire and/or fire staff
  • the assessment of research in general being skewed by the fact that metrics can be gamed and/or lead to unintended consequences

Adopting a responsible metrics approach is seen as good practice across the research community.

The Metric Tide is an important report published in 2015, which helped foreground and frame discussion of responsible metrics (in the UK at least). It states:

“Responsible metrics can be understood in
terms of a number of dimensions:

Robustness: basing metrics on the best possible data in terms of accuracy and scope;

Humility: recognising that quantitative evaluation should support – but not supplant– qualitative, expert assessment;

Transparency: keeping data collection and analytical processes open andtransparent, so that those being evaluated can test and verify the results;

Diversity: accounting for variation by field, and using a range of indicators to reflectand support a plurality of research and researcher career paths across the system;Reflexivity: recognising and anticipating the systemic and potential effects ofindicators, and updating them in response”

Other important milestones in responsible metrics include the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), formulated in 2012, and The Leiden Manifesto for research metrics, which was published in 2015.

Expect to hear more about this issue as research funders begin to implement the principles of responsible metrics and demand that organisations receiving grants from them do likewise – see Plan S and Wellcome’s Open access policy 2021.

CANCELLED – Shut Up and Write sessions for postgraduate researchers (PGRs)

*Edit – 28.05.19 – Just to let you know that, unfortunately, the Shut Up and Write pilot has been cancelled due to extremely low interest.

This means that there will be no Shut Up and Write on Wednesday 29th May or Wednesday 5th June.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.

We will investigate whether to try running it at a different time later in the year.

If you have any feedback, please contact library-research-support@open.ac.uk *

Library Services are starting Shut Up and Write sessions for postgraduate researchers (PGRs) on campus in Milton Keynes*. Sessions involve meeting with other PGRs in the Library building, writing for 25 minutes at a time then taking a 5 minute break. The idea is to make academic writing more productive and social.

If you are a PGR then simply turn up, bringing anything you need to write and to make yourself comfortable.

The first session is Wednesday 1st May, 13.00-15.00, using desks on the second floor of the Library. Signs will be put up on the day to guide you.

Subsequently, sessions will take place every Wednesday, 13.00-15.00 in the same place (unless notified otherwise). This will run on a pilot basis for 6 weeks in the first instance. If successful, Shut Up and Write will be continued.

Contact library-research-support@open.ac.uk if you have any questions.

 

*Details of the Betty Boothroyd Library’s location can be found on our Contact us page and on the campus map.

Cite Them Right – help with citing and referencing different sources

Cite Them Right (OU login needed) is a service that helps you cite and reference different sources – accessible courtesy of an OU Library subscription:

If you have a specific source type in mind, all you need to do is use the search feature and choose from the results. If you’d prefer to explore Cite them right, you can browse using the categories in the menu bar. Each category expands to show you different types of sources you can reference. The ‘Basics’ section is a good place to start if you are looking for general advice about referencing.

Once you’ve found the source type you’re interested in, you can use a dropdown menu to view that source using different referencing styles. The You Try feature enables you to easily construct your own reference by replacing the example text with information relevant to your information source. You can either copy/paste your reference into your assignment or email it to yourself for later.

Cite them right works on your tablet or smartphones, so you’ll always have the guidance you need at hand.

It covers a wide variety of source types from books and journals to computer games, live performances, government and legal publications. It also covers a variety of citation styles, such as APA, MLA, Chicago and Harvard (author-date).

Improving the student experience – postgraduate researcher (PGR) survey about Library training

In May 2018 we surveyed postgraduate researchers (PGRs) at The Open University to find out what they wanted from Library training. The aim was to help ensure that training delivered to PGRs by the Library Research Support team met user needs.

We asked about the topics PGRs wanted training on, their preferred mode of delivery for training, the timing of sessions and communication regarding sessions. The survey got a good response rate.

You can read a report of our findings, which was produced in May 2018, here: pgr-survey-about-library-training-report-may-2018

Since this report was written, we redeveloped our programme of training for PGRs in response to survey findings as far as possible. For example:

  • We have made video recordings of all our online and blended training sessions available via the View Previous Recordings page of the Research Support online training room (OU login required)
  • We designed and delivered  a series of three online training sessions on advanced literature searching during October-November 2018
    • These were popular and will be re-run in February 2019, details TBC
  • We designed and delivered an online training session on systematic reviews
  • We produced a new “Copyright and your thesis” guide
  • We continued to deliver synchronous online and face-to-face training between Monday-Friday, 9-5
  • We took a new approach to communicating our training offer via email, which enabled us to reach Affiliated Research Centre (ARC) students and continued to promote training via the Graduate School Network (GSN)
  • We have implemented a standardised feedback mechanism for all our training sessions
  • We are implementing an annual review process of our training programme for PGRs

Online library training – advanced literature searching and systematic reviews

We are happy to announce a series of online Library training sessions on advanced literature searching and systematic reviews. These are aimed at postgraduate researchers but any interested research staff are welcome to attend:

Advanced literature searching 1 (online)

Date – Monday, 22.10.18

Time – 15.00-16.00

 This session involves reflecting on a model of the literature search process in order to (re)conceptualize literature searching, increase confidence with the process and assess the model in relation to your practice. We will then look at formulating and revising a search strategy in order to perform a systematic and comprehensive search – this includes choosing databases, choosing keywords and recording your searches.

Please note that you are required to undertake a brief exercise in advance of this session and be prepared to discuss your thoughts on the exercise in the session itself. Details of this exercise are on the booking page.

To book a place, please go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/advanced-literature-searching-1-tickets-50694626994

Advanced literature searching 2* (online)

Date – Wednesday, 31.10.18

Time – 11.30-12.30

This session involves identifying techniques for narrowing and broadening searches and when to apply them in order to construct and revise a search strategy. We will then identify and reflect on means of saving and exporting search results, this will allow us to manage search results effectively and understand the benefits of doing so

Please note that you are required to undertake a brief exercise in advance of this session and be prepared to discuss your thoughts on the exercise in the session itself. Details of this exercise are on the booking page.

To book a place, please go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/advanced-literature-searching-2-tickets-50695850654

Advanced literature searching 3* (online)

Date – Monday, 05.11.18

Time – 10.00-11.00

This session involves analysing search results using the CRAAP framework in order to identify the most appropriate papers on a topic and revise your search strategy. We will then describe and apply a scoping search process in order to establish the extent of the literature that exists on a topic.

Please note that you are required to undertake a brief exercise in advance of this session and be prepared to discuss your thoughts on the exercise in the session itself. Details of this exercise are on the booking page.

To book a place, please go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/advanced-literature-searching-3-tickets-50696279938

Systematic reviews* (online)

Date – Monday, 17.12.18

Time – 14.00-15.30

This session will describe, apply and reflect upon the methodology of a systematic review in order to ensure attendees understand what systematic reviews involve and feel more confident in undertaking them.

This is an advanced session that builds on existing knowledge of database searching. It gives attendees knowledge of how to carry out structured, comprehensive searches to help them undertake systematic reviews on their own.

To book a place, please go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/systematic-reviews-tickets-50696809522 

*Note – Advanced literature searching 1, 2, 3 and Systematic reviews are designed to complement each other. You are very welcome to attend (or watch the recordings of) whichever of the sessions you need but please note that familiarity with content from previous sessions may be assumed and won’t be recapped in detail.

All sessions will take place online in the Research Support online training room. We plan to make video recordings of all sessions available to watch via the View previous recordings link in this room.

You can also download  a printable PDF detailing these sessions: Library online training for researchers-Autumn-Winter-2018

 

We look forward to seeing you at the training!

Learn about research metrics across disciplines with The Metrics Toolkit

The Metrics Toolkit is a new resource that allows you to learn more about a wide variety of research metrics (a.k.a quantitative research indicators). It will also help you decide which ones to use in particular cases, according to the type of impact you hope to measure, the kind of research output involved (e.g. journal articles, books, datasets) and the academic discipline in which you are working.

The Metrics toolkit was developed by two academic librarians and a director of a metrics company, in conjunction with an advisory board of four researchers and one academic librarian. The project is supported by Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, Altmetric and FORCE11.