Archive for October, 2009

OnlineOpen

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Open Access. The concept is shaking up the publishing industry more than anything since the printing press. At its heart is a noble desire to disseminate knowledge as widely as possible, regardless of one’s means. But, it runs into the practical realities of economics, copyright, and how the web is run.

Websites offer great economies of scale, but they can not be run for free. I know. I’ve managed a huge public website (water.usgs.gov). Content must be organized, authenticated, checked for quality, maintained to changing standards, updated as needed (discussions, replies, and errata come to mind), monitored, and made available at high speeds all the time. You can’t do this on the cheap, which, unfortunately, seems the fate of too many government and university repositories. Maintenance is not glamorous, but once you put a journal paper online, you must serve it forever.

In an earlier posting, I talked about some of the problems which occur when duplicate, unofficial copies of papers appear on the open web. Nevertheless, some natural-resources agencies are beginning to insist the research they fund be made freely available to the public. The Wiley-Blackwell answer to this is OnlineOpen, whereby authors pay a fee to make the official online copy of their paper available to all. The process is compliant with all major public-access requirements. Authors and institutions are freed of the burden of serving the paper. Search engines see a single version for classifying and ranking. The paper is presented in the context of its journal, where it may be compared to other papers and more properly evaluated by readers. AWRA and Wiley-Blackwell have an obvious interest in making sure JAWRA’s content remains current and adjusts to current standards.

OnlineOpen papers can be identified on our website with the green “Free” icon next to their title. (Some papers are temporarily made free for promotional purposes as well.) Overall, I think OnlineOpen is a win-win situation for those who need it. Researchers get their work distributed in a legal, effective manner under an economically sustainable publishing model.

Linking to a JAWRA Paper

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

The preferred target of a link to a JAWRA paper is its abstract. Viewable by anyone, the abstract gives concise information about the paper, links to the PDF and HTML versions, provides instructions to those who do not have access, and links to related papers.

The simplest way to construct the link is to find the abstract with your browser, then cut-and-past the URL. Here’s an example with a recent paper:

Garrick, Dustin, Katharine Jacobs, and Gregg Garfin, 2008. Models, Assumptions, and Stakeholders: Planning for Water Supply Variability in the Colorado River Basin. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, (JAWRA) 44(2):381-398. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2007.00154.x

You can find this paper in the April, 2008 issue (Vol. 44, No. 2) table of contents. Then, just click “Abstract” and this address appears at the top of your browser:  http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119414237/abstract .

The above URL is fairly persistent, since AWRA and Wiley-Blackwell have an interest in making it so. However, for those who insist on a long-lived URL, you can use the Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-1688.2007.00154.x .

Now you know what those strange numbers at the end of a citation do! For more information on Digital Object Identifiers, see http://www.doi.org .

Copyright Issues

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

I’ve spent much of today on one of my least favorite tasks: dealing with copyright issues. JAWRA’s Copyright Assignment Form (CAF) gives authors certain limited rights to distribute their papers among colleagues. However, it does NOT allow authors to put our PDF of their paper on a public website!

Many “violations” are well-meaning attempts to give a paper more exposure, but there are unintended consequences:
1. Having two identical copies online confuses search engines and can lead to lower rankings.
2. Every hit on an unauthorized version is one less hit on the AWRA site, thus lowering our count of times a paper is viewed. Libraries and researchers watch this number.
3. Any Discussion/Reply or Errata are a critical part of the scientific record which only the official site can provide.
4. The official site maintains updated links to related articles by the authors and others, increasing the chances of citation.

Publishers, including Wiley-Blackwell, Inc., are getting better at finding copyright violations. Our approach upon finding a problem begins with me writing a gentle email to the author. Most quickly reply with apologies.

Authors can distribute their papers to colleagues, including students, in a variety of legitimate ways without using an open website. For a paper which must be freely available to the public, we offer Wiley-Blackwell’s OnlineOpen for an additional fee. I’ll cover this in a later posting.

So, authors, please take a little time to actually read the CAF before you sign it. We’ve gone to some effort to establish terms which are fair and let our official website do a good job of distributing your paper.