How to be Popular (in Edinburgh Research Explorer)

Edinburgh Research Explorer • www.research.ed.ac.uk

These are conclusions from a survey of the Top 100 MOST POPULAR downloads from Edinburgh Research Explorer in August 2019, it contains some VERY obvious biases and doesn’t reflect the breadth, depth, or usefulness of the repository as a whole; and shows that whilst OPEN ACCESS can reach a wider audience, it can also be ignored by a wider audience.

1. STEER CLEAR OF SCIENCE

Top 100 downloads in Edinburgh Research Explorer by school: science and Non-science
Fig i. Top 100 downloads in Edinburgh Research Explorer by school: science and non-science

Research items from science-related schools made up 18% of the Top 100, dropping to 12% in the Top 50 and 0% in the Top 10.


2. DON’T COLLABORATE

Edinburgh Research Explorer: Downloads (x) vs. No. of authors (y)
Fig ii. Edinburgh Research Explorer: Downloads (x) vs. No. of authors (y)

With each additional author, the number of items and the average number of downloads decreased.


3. YOU DON’T HAVE TO WRITE IN ENGLISH, BUT IT HELPS

In the Top 100, one item was written in Italian, the remainder in English.
Curiosly, that was also one of only five items that month, that failed to find an audience outwith the UK.


4. GO OPEN-ACCESS

8 of the Top 100 items didn’t offer Open-Access Permissions, they averaged 25% fewer downloads than the overall average.

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Beginning of a new ERA

We are pleased to announce that the Edinburgh Research Archive (ERA) has recently had a lot of work done to improve it’s looks, add new functionality and clean up some of our collections data.

For those of you who are not familiar with ERA it is is a digital repository of original research produced at The University of Edinburgh. The repository contains documents written by, or affiliated with, academic authors, or units, based at Edinburgh that have sufficient quality to be collected and preserved by the Library, but which are not controlled by commercial publishers. Holdings include around 27,000 full-text digital doctoral theses, 1,500 masters dissertations, and numerous other project reports, briefing papers and out-of-print materials. In October 2019 we recorded 223,000 visitors to ERA who downloaded 51,984 items.

Details of some of the improvements are listed below:

Software upgrade The DSpace platform was upgraded from version 4.2 to 6.3
Face lift Visual redesign and styling ERA to make it more appealing
DOI allocation New functionality to assign DOIs to deposited items

New domain

New URL => era.ed.ac.uk
Fix subject terms Change scanning metadata information to be stored in dc.relation.ispartof and not dc.subject.

Log-in expiry time Set login expiry time to an hour.

Date-format Go from yyyy-mm-dd to dd-mm-yyyy

UX improvements
Move Edit Item button up, to the top of the bar, customise drop down list to have most used elements at the top.

Default language boxes Give “en” as default to language boxes.

Of all the new improvements I am most excited about the new functionality to assign Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to items deposited in ERA. All new items will be automatically assigned a DOI, and we will investigate how to do this for the rest of the nearly 35,000 items already online.

Three Decades @ the Crossroads of IP, ICT and Law conference

At the beginning of the month, the Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP), part of the Faculty of Law of the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium, celebrated 30 years of existence. Although their newsletters are only occasionally in English, I have been following their activity for a few years now and I was impressed of their expertise in the areas of data privacy, information rights management and intellectual property rights.

One aspect that I really appreciate at all these conferences organised in Belgium (or nearby) is the wide range of participants: postgraduate students and academic researchers, lawyers from law firms, magistrates from national courts, representatives from industry (Microsoft, Google, Facebook etc), from organisations representing the rights of authors and publishers, from national governments and various EU bodies. These participants come from an area that is within a 2-3 hours train journey from Brussels – this means Benelux, western Germany and northern France. Personally, I find the diverse background of participants and the cultural differences fascinating.

The programme of the conference was really packed with three key-speakers (morning, lunchtime and late afternoon) intertwined with two parallel sessions of four panels each.

The most interesting presentation amongst the key speakers was that of Karen Yeung (Birmingham Law School) about Regulation and technological innovation: Myths, memes and the marginalisation of law. She encouraged the participants to abandon the romantic infatuation with 21st century technological innovation in favour of a more level-headed, clear-eyed view of public policy and regulation vis-à-vis technological innovation. She (successfully, in my opinion) argued against some of the current myths:

Myth Reality
All innovation is intrinsically ‘good’ Not all innovation is good. Even beneficial innovation may have damaging side effects.
The tech entrepreneur is a moral hero They (usually male and white) take risks with the rights and interests of others.
The equivalence of old v new technology Comparisons must attend to ALL effects, not merely functional performance.
Regulation stifles innovation Regulation also stimulate and accelerate innovation.
The law cannot keep up with the pace with technological innovation Over-simplification – problems arise due to uncertainty in effects and identification of appropriate norms.
The governance of the tech innovation should be left to the markets Markets are undemocratic. Reliance on post litigation is inadequate.
 

Tech “ethics” will fix any problems

Ethics cannot provide legitimate and effective social protection against impacts of tech innovation.

 

Her conclusion was that “innovation is not only a technological process, but a profoundly human and socially embedded one” and therefore it is crucially important to bring the law into the heart of discussions about how to govern technological innovation responsibly as it cannot be left to the market. Even if it means swimming against the tide.

The morning parallel sessions were about a) Security, b) AI and GDPR, c) Content moderation and d) Personalised medicine. I choose to attend the one about ‘Content moderation’. The first part of the session was dedicated to ‘Content regulation & illegal and harmful content’ where an interesting debate developed between an in house counsel representing Facebook and everybody else in the room a representative of an NGO active in the fields of intermediary liability and surveillance policies including law enforcement access to data. In the second part of the session, the discussion was centred around ‘Content regulation & copyright’ with Google’s European IP manager, a Leuven IP academic, a representative from an artists’ management organisation and another person from a media company as panel members. The discussion floated around art. 17 (former art. 13) of the European Copyright Directive and its implications on the royalties paid by YouTube to artists and on YouTube copyright policy and so on. Already under pressure from the other speakers and the audience, Google IP manager tried to get some respite with a (misjudged) joke about lawyers which, considering the audience and (cultural) circumstances, just added more gas on his pyre and – surprisingly – I found myself agreeing with one of Disney lawyers, who was sitting next to me.

The afternoon sessions were a) Data markets, b) Smart cities, c) Food and sustainable development goals and d) From paper to bits – the legal development of electronic evidence. I decided to attend the Smart cities session as I presumed that they will talk about face recognition software, smart lampposts etc and I was not disappointed. The speakers talked about SPECTRE project (no relation with the evil organisation from Bond movie, it merely means Smart-city Privacy: Enhancing Collaborative Transparency in the Regulatory Ecosystem) and ‘Googlization of urban infrastructure’ and about Smart Public Spaces.

It was another hugely worthwhile conference, with a great variety of interesting topics relevant for my field but also for my colleagues. Congratulations to CiTiP researchers and collaborators for three decades of work at the forefront of IP, ICT and Law!

KU Leuven: Library (Bibliotheek)

FORCE2019

     

 

From 15th – 17th October, Library & University Collections played host to FORCE2019 – a leading international conference bringing together an interdisciplinary group of professionals interested in scholarly communications, research data management and open science.  This is the annual conference of FORCE11 (Future of Research Communications and e-Scholarship).

We hosted a day of workshops at the Edinburgh Grosvenor Hotel followed by the main conference at Murrayfield and an evening reception at Ghillie Dhu.  A small group of delegates also visited the library on Friday 18th and were impressed by the digital wall, the makers space and our Nathan Coley artwork.

More than 300 delegates from 23 countries attended the event and initial feedback has been excellent in terms of the content, the venue and the organisation.  Two comment which spring to mind were that this was “a real A-List conference” and “a splendid event and a galaxy of gathering”.

The local organising team, chaired by Fiona Wright have every reason to be incredibly proud of doing such a fantastic job to bring this conference to Scotland, and to the University of Edinburgh.

The programme was jam-packed with superb speakers, including Professor Lesley McAra as our opening keynote.  I don’t have time for a fuller write-up right now but you can see lots of great ideas on Twitter via the hashtag #FORCE2019.

-Dominic Tate, Head of Library Research Support

COPE European Seminar

On Monday I attended the COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) European Seminar in Leiden.  Cope has been around for over 20 years, and began as a relatively informal group of concerned journal editors, and has grown since then into an organisation supporting editors, authors, peer-reviewers and publishers.  COPE intends to start a programme for university members as part of its new strategic plan.  Publishers and editors who raise ethical issues with universities often are faced with a wall of silence and are not informed about the outcomes of investigations, as universities seek to maintain privacy. What follows are some notes on the discussions of the four of the  main topics covered at Monday’s seminar.

Text Recycling

The first session of the day looked at Text Recycling – and the findings of some research undertaken in the US through the Text Recycling Research Project – textrecycling.org.

Text recycling is ethically neutral – sometimes it is appropriate and is not always inherently inappropriate.  It is often known as ‘self-plagiarism’ – but as one publisher later remarked – sometime the ‘self-‘ part is lost and people end up discussion plagiarism, which is quite distinct from text recycling.

The research surveyed around 300 editors of top journals across STEM, social sciences and humanities.  The responses indicate that editors apply different standards as editors than they do when they are authors.

Copyright law is inherently jurisdictional.  Across most jurisdictions, there are no laws which address the issue of text recycling.  Scholarly publications were not the publications people has in mind when they were designing the copyright laws.  Almost universally, authors are the initial holders of rights in their work – with the exception of a handful of universities with assert ownership. But, authors transfer rights to publishers.  This makes it difficult for authors to be able to re-use work in a publication by a different publisher.  Fair use could cover this so we need to make sure that authors use their rights on fair dealing as asking for permission when it isn’t necessary erodes authors rights and sets new legal precedents.  Once example was given from the publishing contact of the New England Journal of Medicine which actually cited US Fair Use law in the contract – but how would that apply to an author from another jurisdiction?

The next phase of the work will be looking at model guidelines, contracts, policies etc., which can be adopted by anyone.  So – there will be more to come on this.

Predatory Publishing

Defining predatory publishing is a problematic activity because new journals and young journals will have similar practices.  In practice – there are a number of reasons why predatory publishers continue to operate.  Authors whose English is not that good find it harder to get published in reputable journals.  Reviewers can’t be bothered to work through broken English so good research is overlooked because of language issues.  International pressure on rankings means authors are under pressure to publish and some researchers hope that recruitment panels won’t look in too much details at the venue and just count the publications on a CV.

So, what is to be done?  COPE was behind the Think. Check. Submit. initiative to encourage authors to be aware of predatory or bogus journals.  In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission in the US took OMICS to court and they received a fine of $50.1M. There is definitely a role for institutions to play in helping to educate authors.

Countries have become globally competitive about the status of their universities.  Makes a job that should be a passion and a love, and turns it into some crazy thing.  We can’t expect everyone to publish in top-citation English language journals.

Predatory publishing is a large problem and is centred in India in the Hyderabad region.  At one recent meeting, a representative of one organisation which publishes everything it receives, made a representation that they thought that COPE was causing the elitist system through insisting on the application of peer review!  He thought they were giving more researchers a voice by publishing everything. So, this shows that there are genuinely-felt differences of viewpoint on this matter.

Retraction Guidelines Update

There will be separate guidance for expressions of concern, letters to the editor and commentaries, and for corrigenda and errata. The main purpose of retraction is to correct the literature and to retain the integrity of the research record and not to punish authors.  Unreliable data could result from honest mistakes, naive errors or research malpractice.

Partial retractions are not helpful as they call the whole article into question.  Corrections are a better route to follow. Sometimes editors can jump straight to retraction before considering all the options available to them.

People worry that retractions undermine science but actually it is part of the process of earning and maintaining trust.  Elsevier point out that people only have to deal with these issues very rarely, so it’s important to have clear guidance.  If an article is in a subscription journal they make it open access on retraction.  We need to recognise that misconduct is a systematic characteristic of science.  Retractions get a lot of attention – but it is not always the best approach.  Elsevier retract about 200-220 articles per years – so about 1 in 5000.

At Elsevier, all retractions need to be approved by a panel of three Elsevier staff.  It is an Editor’s decision to retract, if approved by the staff.  There is also a “tombstone process” so that readers can see what was once there.  Elsevier use a series of templates for editors to use in the retraction process and authors always are informed.

Editors need to be aware that they do not necessarily understand all the pressures people are under and that they don’t know what else is going on in their loves.  Also, that they don’t know what the impact of this retraction will be – but that it is very likely to have an impact on the author’s career.

Ben Goldacre is working on “retract-o-bot”.  https://ebmdatalab.net/retractobot/  This should alert authors when an article they cite is retracted.

One audience member pointed out that universities are gaming the publication system – publish or perish and the whole impact factor “fetish” has gone too far.  This is one of the reasons why COPE is seeking to get universities as members, although it is also recognised that these concepts are very deeply ingrained in many institutions and disciplines.   Some EU funder panels are now insisting that applicants do not use H-index and impact factors in application forms and CVs – so change may start to come.

Ethical Considerations for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Editors

COPE has commissioned some work to be done with Routledge to better understand the ethics challenges faced by AHSS journal editors.  COPE was previously perceived as being very STM focussed and this is something they wish to change.

The most widespread ethical problem in AHSS publishing is addressing language and writing-quality barriers whilst remaining inclusive.  In AHSS we are not just dealing with data all the time but with people’s opinions – so disputes can be much more inflammatory.   There have been issues with hoax articles with people trying to discredit gender and identity studies.  There is also a problem of  tensions between quality and global representation – more attention should be paid to peer-reviewer diversity. Political differences between authors and editors can be very problematic for journals.  There are currently few opportunities for mentoring of early-career researchers in publication ethics in AHSS subjects – something which should be improved.

From my point of view there is considerable scope for research libraries, and in particular those of us working in scholarly communications to take more of a lead to engage our authors with the ethical matters to do with publication, peer-review and editorial activities, and this is something I shall be seeking to develop with the team at Edinburgh.

-Dominic Tate, Head of Library Research Support