Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: June 21, 2019

Plan CAt last week’s Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference in Philadelphia, there were some wonderful presentations and discussion on topics of inclusive access, textbook subscription models, open access, writing and publishing strategies, and the overall trends in the changing landscape of academic publishing. This week’s collection of articles from around the web extend that discussion with some of the same topics present in our list.

As you ponder the future of textbook and academic authoring and publishing for yourself, I encourage you to consider the thoughts of Rob Siltanen, “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Here’s to changing the world. Happy writing!

Can a health-insurance model bring ‘equitable access’ to the textbook market?

An experiment now underway at the University of California at Davis aims to lower costs for students and to guarantee them access to all assigned course materials while assuring publishers of a continuous market for their products. It’s still early, but I think this “equitable access” approach — in which all students pay the same book fee every term, no matter the course or discipline — could revolutionize the textbook business at a time when costly textbooks have become a barrier to many financially needy students.

Do authors have any power over publishers?

A goal of open access is a reduction in barriers to knowledge for no additional cost. In fact, the Budapest Open Access Initiative envisioned an open access world could be achieved at lower cost than traditional publishing. More recently, the University of California’s Pay it Forward project relies on the idea that authors will exercise their market power to put downward pressure on article processing charges (APCs). But as a scientist, my evaluation criteria are predominately centered around ‘more papers in higher ranking journals’. I am doubtful that authors have ever had much market power and, to the extent that we do, I have no expectation we will be using it to push down fees.

The artisanal PhD

While I don’t deny the pleasures of the artisanal when it comes to homewares, food and coffee, I am less sure that it’s a great idea when applied to research, at least if my experience counselling candidates is anything to go by.

Open research in practice: Moving from why to how?

Today’s research knowledge can be harvested and data analyzed faster than has been possible in all previous generations combined. As a result, Open Research practices and outputs face a number of tensions between initial intentions and unforeseen consequences. And so our questions about Open Research are also changing — from “why” to “how” — amidst growing awareness that the required skill sets, both technical and social, are not yet part of the standard training programs for researchers.

The joys of creative re-description

The creative moment comes when you dream up a re-description, a new name for something. Your research has said that a, b and c are important. If there isn’t already an existing name for a,b, and c then you get to create the name for what a.b.c mean. You decide on what this new category (a.b.c.) is going to be called.

Why I adore email

The number of emails these days is problematic for many people, particularly professionals. Efforts are being made to reduce the volume of email – and this is a good thing, in principle. Yet some of the methods people are choosing don’t seem to me to be solving the problem.

Open and equitable scholarly communication: An ACRL research agenda

Last week the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) released a new research agenda for scholarly communication identifying needed areas of research to foster a more open, inclusive, and equitable scholarly communications system. The report, Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications: Creating a More Inclusive Future, was developed under the leadership of ACRL’s Research and Scholarly Environment Committee (ReSEC) and prepared by Nancy Maron and Rebecca Kennison with contributions from Paul Bracke, Nathan Hall, Isaac Gilman, and Kara Malenfant. Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications will be of interest to anyone seeking to understand current library perspectives on scholarly communications.