ACLAIIR AGM & Seminar 2014 : the report

David Lowe, Head of European Collections at Cambridge University Library welcomed ACLAIIR to Cambridge for the AGM & Seminar 2014. The year has been a good one so far for Cambridge in terms of Spanish and Portuguese collections, with the acquisition of almost 2,000 comedias sueltas from the 17th to 19th centuries, and a gift of approximately 70 titles from the library of film-maker Jonathan Gili, son of the well-known Catalan publisher and translator Joan Gili. The library also received around 400 art books from the library of the late art expert Nigel Glendinning.

In Portuguese, the library has acquired 12 original first editions of Eça de Queirós. You can read more about this collection on the library’s European Collections blog.

The department of Spanish & Portuguese at Cambridge welcomes its first ever lecturer in Brazilian Studies, Dr. Maite Conde, and is pleased to report that enrolment  figures for Portuguese are increasing, with 100 students listed for the academic year 2013-14. Catalan is also on the rise, with the recent appointment of Prof. Brad Epps to Head of Department. Amongst many other areas, Prof. Epps has a strong interest in Catalan literature and film.

In further departmental news, Prof. Alison Sinclair, Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded project ‘Wrongdoing in Spain, 1800-1936’ is due to retire at the end of this academic year. You can find two blog posts which describe some of the pliegos sueltos in more detail on the British Library European Studies blog: ‘Orrible crimes and ghastly murders and Hell hath no fury… : More wrongdoing and further foul deeds in Spain.

OPEN ACCESS: The future of academic publication?

We were pleased to welcome some very knowledgeable speakers to our seminar on Open Access. Our first panel looked at OA from the publishing perspective, with Ellen Collins starting us off with her presentation about the work of OAPEN-UK. Ellen gave details of the ‘matched pairs’ pilot that OAPEN-UK is undertaking in order to try and provide evidence for the impact of OA on publishing models. 45 ‘like pairs’ of books have been identified, with one book in the pair being made available as an open access publication. The idea is gather information about the effect this has on the sale of the book, as there is currently very little evidence available about the impact of making a book open access. The project is focusing on the Humanities and Social Sciences, as these areas tend to use information in a different way to STEM (Science, technology & Medicine) subjects.

OAPEN-UK is working with stakeholders to help them understand the challenges and processes associated with open access publication. There has been a great deal of change over the last 3 to 4 years, and whilst libraries (particularly in academia) are following developments closely, large vendors and commercial suppliers have not been as involved. Problems with Document Rights Management and pricing coupled with a lack of incentive to change have led to inertia in this area. However, Ellen emphasised that this was a good time to try and encourage new processes and workflows in publishing culture that will allow all kinds of stakeholders to embrace open acces publications. There is something of a culture shock; for universities, the cost of publishing an OA book can be high. Quotes range from £150 per chapter to £11,000 per book. There are also issues of prestige tied up with traditional publishing models, and it can be difficult to get all publishers to be transparent about costs.

Whilst the main focus in the UK so far has been on the ‘gold’ route to open access publication, where a fee is paid to make a book available, Ellen hopes that future projects will also look at ‘green’ routes, where scholarly output is made available free of charge through an institutional or other open access repository.

Daniel Pearce, Senior Commissioning Editor for Humanities and Social Sciences journals at Cambridge University Press, stepped up to give the view from a major academic publishing house. CUP publishes around 325 academic journals and over 2,000 books a year in HSS (Humanities and Social Sciences) and STEM subjects, with a 50/50 split of content. OA is certainly a growing area, and CUP are fully committed and engaged with the topic. They offer green, gold and hybrid options, with some content being funded by APCs and others by funding bodies. CUP work closely with learned societes, many of whom are concerned about OA as a potential threat to their journal income. There is some trepidation around approaching open access initiatives, and a feeling that investment in editorial processes is paramount to preserve quality.

Currently CUP has 6 fully gold journals and 208 hybrids, although only 5% of articles published are in HSS subjects. OA is certainly growing however, and CUP are planning to launch more OA journals with two forthcoming in Economics and History of Science. However, gold is not always the answer, and CUP are investigating viable and sustainable green options.

Our final speaker of the first panel was Rupert Gatti, co-founder and the third Director of Open Book Publishers as well as a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, where he is a Director of Studies in Economics. Rupert firmly believes that the future of academic publishing is open access, and asked some searching questions about the role of the publisher in an OA world. He felt that it was important to prevent OA publishing models from revolving around platforms that could be monetised or monopolised. Traditional models were based around restriction, whereas open access models should be about dissemination. Rupert gave some examples of pre-peer review repositories such as arXiv and PubMed Central, post-peer review such as SciELO and DOAJ, and publisher platforms such Public Library of Science (PLoS).

Our second panel focused on the impact of open access on research and teaching from an academic perspective. Martin Eve, Lecturer in the Faculty of Media Humanities and Performance, University of Lincoln, presented an overview of scholarly economics and introduced the Open Library of the Humanities project. Take a look at Martin’s presentation for the full details:

Ernesto Priego, UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, is also Editor-in-Chief of The Comics Grid,   an open access, open peer review academic journal dedicated to comics scholarship. He highlighted some of the challenges faced by academics trying to fight the slowness and opacity of peer review processes, particularly early-career researchers or postgraduates. Ernesto also mentioned the researcher-led publisher Ubiquity Press founded at UCL as an open access publisher of peer-reviewed, academic journals. Although access and availability is key, Ernesto also emphasised the importance of appropriate licensing for academic material where one of the main issues is of restrictive terms of resuse.

Closing the session, Jenny Bunn from UCL’s Archives and Records Management programme addressed the topic of MOOCs. She pointed out that although making scholarly resources accessible is good, this alone is not sufficient: users need to be encouraged to engage with the material to really take advantage of open access. This applies to the general public even more so than academics. Jenny noted that the MOOC she ran at UCL, Introduction to Digital Curation, was an open course and participants did not have to be registered students. With 800 people on the course, this created a big problem for access to library resources as many of these are restricted to registered students of UCL.  It can be a real challenge to find accessible material that is truly open. One need look no further than the #icanhazpdf hastag on Twitter to see how academics across the globe are struggling to access the research they need for their work. Jenny echoed some of the earlier speakers when she stated that in some senses we had forgotten the reason we want to publish: to disseminate ideas, in order to share and connect with others. Jenny’s slides are available at the link below.

Jenny Bunn : Open Access Presentation

The seminar was a great forum to discuss these issues surrounding open access, and the question and answer sessions after both panels were lively and engaging. The debate continued at the wine reception and a good time was had by all. Many thanks to all those who participated in a very successful day.

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One thought on “ACLAIIR AGM & Seminar 2014 : the report

  1. Pingback: ACLAIIR AGM & Seminar 2014 : the report | ACLAIIR

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