Archive for the ‘Self-archiving: How and Why?’ Category

Mana’o Self Archiving Repository

After a long summer delay wondering what was up with the Mana’o repository, today I finally got word that yes, it is officially shutting its doors [it has unofficially been down all summer due to the operation being run on a personal home server]. Alex Golub, who spearheaded the project has asked others to pick it up – and I’m quite sure that with all the information cataloged in it that someone will do so.

I offered to help host the archive, as prior to studying anthropology I worked as a web developer and system administrator. And being the lazy bastard I am, I would never in a million years try to host something on my home server – far too much work.

What I would love to do, is to take the Mana’o archive, change its name to “The Open Anthropology Self Archiving Repository”, and to introduce a new form of “openness”. To do this, we need to step backwards a decade, back to the days when hundreds of small operations where trying to figure out how to make use of the internet. Back then, when servers often sucked, and when costs for bandwidth where more attrocious, people would use a Web 1.0 technology called “mirroring”.

So here is my proposal:

Open the Mana’o repository so that anyone who wants to can setup a mirror of it. Use basic internet technologies to manage the mirroring. Then we could invite multiple universities to participate. By inviting multiple universities to get involved, and anyone else interested, the project would become an “open project” of sorts. Libraries could contribute, and benefit from the openness, by contributing a little time to help catalog entries and ensure copyright issues are dealt with properly.

This is important because almost every university is currently developing its own institutional self-archiving repository, and due to this a lot of work is being redone over and over. Institutional repositories are also important, but they also tend to suck for the very same reasons Mana’o did – they can never get enough manpower.

Either way, I agree completely with Alex Golub that the repository is valuable enough that I’m not too worried about it not being picked up. One option is to host it on the Open Anthropology Cooperative, and that is a great start. But I really think bringing in multiple libraries and universities, and allowing them all to post their little logos for branding, will help in the long run.

Previous related posts:

“Why the delay”
https://nodivide.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/why-the-delay/

“Self-Archiving Repositories”
https://nodivide.wordpress.com/2009/05/12/self-archiving-repositories/


“Self-Archiving and Anthropology v2”

https://nodivide.wordpress.com/2008/12/30/self-archiving-and-anthropology-v2/

“Self Archiving and Anthropology – Not There Yet”
https://nodivide.wordpress.com/2008/11/12/self-archiving-and-anthropology-not-there-yet/

Mandated self-archiving, anthropology, and power

Steven Harnad suggests that institutions could mandate self-archiving to get researchers to comply, as opposed to voluntary policies that have proven ineffective.  The ineffectiveness of voluntary policies is backed up by my own research where very few professors were aware of the legalities behind it, many arguing it would not be legal due to copyright, even though the American Anthropological Association and the SSHRC both claim support of it.

That they are not aware, and not making their students aware, show how these voluntary mechanisms for achieving self-archiving are not working.

This pushes me to support self-archiving mandates.

But let’s integrate the discussions I’ve been having with Max, an anthropologist who has spent a lot of time with politically marginalized groups. He asserts he is a “reformed open access advocate”, who while having founded an open access journal KACIKE, has since developed concern over the way the accessibility of the internet leverages existing power relationships even more. Access on the internet is not equal, not only due to government support of particular media monopolies – but also in the way programs can be developed to harvest information.

Open Access works to balance out unequal distribution – by giving those without access, access. But once everyone has access, there are other ways for inequality to present itself. In order to compile all the information, it requires massive man power – as is found among thousands of Chinese citizens working as internet censors. Open Access makes it easy for these censors to filter information, to find names, places, targets, etc. By posting an article about Falong Gong on a blog, or in an Open Access journal, programs developed in part by companies like Google can scan through the information and “harvest” it. Posts on such topics are automatically tagged and saved away for a human to scan through later.

So what kinds of information are people harvesting? The U.S. military has offices setup where soldiers can earn “distance drilling credit” by gathering data online from “open source” sources. Since the information was all open source, I wish I could tell you what they harvest, but they take “open source” info, and turn it into an inaccessible, but “unclassified” database. (also see here.)

The Chinese government has intelligence/censoring staff working full time, and they have in effect created a very different internet than the one we can access here. They, like the U.S. government, make sure they can “sniff” through the most traffic possible online, so they force telecom companies to make sure there are “choke” points on the internet where all information flows through. This lets them setup powerful monitoring tools..

The point here is, that state and corporate powers are colluding to control and observe peoples internet use. Companies need to track transactions, just as much as some states need to track citizens. These technologies are extremely powerful, but only available to dominant groups.

Enter Open Access. We share everything online, but who benefits the most? The academics, and interest groups, we might expect to read anthropology articles? Or, in being so open, are companies like Google and state powers benefiting more?

Google scans through every single email I send, and receive, using a computer program that looks for advertising key words. They don’t actually read it, but they created the technology to do so, and now governments are getting into the game too.

So back to Falong Gong. Do I really want the information making its way into corporate/state databases? Because with Open Access, it will. With “closed-access” it probably will too, but not as quickly or easily – and those accessing it will have to know about it, select it, and go through it – as opposed to information being flagged or blocked automagically.

For anthropologists, the concern over “what should be shared” in a publication is nothing new and there are massive debates as to how one can ethically go about doing and publishing research. And since I’m dealing with OA, I’m not even talking about researchers who collude even more directly with military powers.

To mandate self-archiving would remove a “gray” area that currently exists for material no one can identify as “safe” or “dangerous” to share. Since the concerns over what kinds of research are proper haven’t yet been worked out, then I agree, mandates might be too extreme. At the same time, I’d rather research methods and topics be developed – that address the kinds of content that are damaging.

I stand by the idea scholarship is meant to be shared. So I’m excited to see what Max’s upcoming presentation, “Useless Anthropology”: Strategies for Dealing with the Militarization of the Academy” turns out.

[another angle against mandated self-archiving, is the need for culturally appropriate rules for dissemination – as argued by Kimberly Christen and demonstrated on the Mukurtu Archive project website. There are collaborations between communities and academia that develop into interesting research, but that demand other forms of publication. Mandated self-archiving universalizes the properness of “being open”, which has been shown to cause conflicts, and perhaps unnecessarily limits the kinds of publication that can be developed out of research.]

[and this doesn’t mean we can’t have self-archiving mandates, that allow for exceptions!]


Steven Harnad on self-archiving

I’ve never met the man, even though he teaches in Montreal, but if I was to put a face on his written voice, it would look something like this.

When the U.S. congress tried to pass a bill mandating the self-archiving of research, publishers bounded together to lobby against the bill. The American Anthropological Association signed on too.  The lobby group raised numerous arguments against self-archiving, and even claimed to speak on behalf of researchers – to which many have since argued it did not.

In response to Scott Jaschik’s article, “In Whose Interest?” (2006), Steven Harnad unleashes a powerful advocacy strategy:

“The AAA (and AAP and PSP and FASEB and STM and DC Principles Coalition) objections to the FRPAA proposal to mandate OA self-archiving (along with its counterpart proposals in Europe, the UK, Australia and elsewhere worldwide) are all completely predictable, have been aired many times before, and are empirically as well as logically so weak and flawed as to be decisively refutable.

But OA advocates cannot rest idle. Empirically and logically invalid arguments can nevertheless prevail if their proponents are (like the publishing lobby) well-funded and able to lobby widely and vigorously.

There are many more of us than there are in the publishing lobby, but the publishing lobby is fully united under its simple objective: to defeat self-archiving mandates, or, failing that, to make the embargo as long as possible.

OA advocates, in contrast, are not united, and our counter-arguments risk gallopping off in dozens of different directions, many of them just as invalid and untenable as the publishers’ arguments. So if I were the publisher lobby, I would try to divide and conquer, citing flawed pro-mandate or pro-OA or anti-publishing arguments as a camouflage, to disguise the weakness of the publishing lobby’s own flawed arguments.”

To achieve this, Harnad supports self-archiving with 8 points:

All objections to the FRPAA proposal to mandate OA self-archiving can be decisively answered:

(1) Open access has been empirically demonstrated to benefit research, researchers and hence the public that funds the research, by substantially increasing research usage and impact.

(2) There is no evidence to date that self-archiving has any negative effect on subscription revenue.

(3) With an immediate-deposit/optional-access (ID/OA) mandate, deposit must be immediate (upon acceptance for publication), not delayed; only the access-setting (Open Access vs. Closed Access) can be delayed (“embargoed”).

(4) In recognition of its benefits to research, 94% of journals already endorse immediate OA-setting; so the semi-automatic email-eprint request feature of the Institutional Repository software (allowing would-be users to email the author individually to request and receive the eprint by email) will only be needed for 6% of articles, to tide over any embargo interval.

(5) OA is optimal for research and immediately reachable via self-archiving mandates right now; publishing models can and will adapt, if and when it should ever become necessary.

(6) In response to attempts to delay and filibuster the adoption of the self-archiving mandate by calling for more “empirical studies to test for its likely impact”: mandating self-archiving is itself the empirical test; the impact of the mandate can be reviewed annually to see what other effects it may be having — apart from the positive effects evidence has already shown self-archiving to have.

(7) The way to answer any suggestion that it is unfair to put publisher revenues at potential risk for the sake of general public access to a literature most of which none of the general public is ever likely to want to read is to note that OA is intended for the sake of the public benefits of the research that the public funds, which are maximized by making research maximally available to the users for whom it is mostly written, namely, researchers, so they can use and apply it in further research and applications, as intended, for the benefit of the public that funded it. (It will be publicly accessible to everyone else too, but only as a secondary benefit, not the primary rationale for OA, which is free access to publicly funded research, for researcher use, for public benefit.)

(8) All evidence indicates that voluntarism, invitations, etc. simply do not work to generate self-archiving, whereas mandates do.

(Harnad 2006)

http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/93-guid.html)

OA publishing in anthropology – some more notes.

Unresolved oppositions –

Alex Golub arguing toll-access publishing model is broken:

“If you think that making money by giving away content is a bad idea, you should see what happens when the AAA tries to make money selling it. To put it kindly, our reader-pays model has never worked very well. Getting over our misconceptions about open access requires getting over misconceptions of the success of our existing publishing program. The choice we are facing is not that of an unworkable ideal versus a working system. It is the choice between a future system which may work and an existing system which we know does not.”

(Golub 2007:6)

Stacy Lathrop arguing the system isn’t broken:

“Reading through old AAA Bulletins, Newsletters and Reports, a reader quickly discovers that at times when the AAA has reached bumpy finances, decisions were made by the executive board to assure publications are sustainable.”

(Lathrop 2007:7)

Stacy Lathrop on the extra costs many OA advocates ignore:

“Beyond that, an electronic publishing program should account for costs to market its electronic journals, for training users to use the new means of production, and for responding to users’ questions, problems and needs.”

(Lathrop 2007:7)

This point really caught my attention – what kind of marketing does the AAA do for its journals? In the survey of students I held last year, students were only aware of a few key journals. Online, well… AnthroSource champions all the AAA journals?

I imagine there is a market of librarians to which most journals try to target with whatever marketing budget they have – going for subscription income. Any editors care to share how they allocate their marketing budget, and perhaps share numbers? ie: how much is spent marketing?

My own gut reaction:

I don’t think “anthropology” as a whole is very good at marketing anthropology, aside to itself.  Part of my thesis was motivated from my life in the grad program, constantly explaining to my friends and acquaintances what anthropology is, and isn’t.

But perhaps the AAA publishing program is sustainable – but just barely. And in this rough environment the change to OA is seen as being too risky. But why aren’t they at least promoting self-archiving? Or turning Anthro Source into a real community driven site? (As Alex Golub and others have been pushing for).

Stacy Lathrop. 2007. “Friends, Why Are We Sinking?.” http://0-www.anthrosource.net.mercury.concordia.ca/doi/abs/10.1525/an.2007.48.4.7

Alex Golub. 2007. “With a Business Model Like This, Who Needs Enemies?.” http://0-www.anthrosource.net.mercury.concordia.ca/doi/abs/10.1525/an.2007.48.4.6

Self-archiving repositories

Over the course of the research I tried, and perhaps failed, to get many teachers to self-archive their work. One teacher decided he prefered to archive the work on his website (we succeeded in posting around 15 of his articles to it), while another went along with my recommendation to use the Mana’o repository. Others (and here I have to admit I didn’t push it enough), showed interest in the upcoming Concordia branded repository.

Over the period, the teachers personal website was a constant challenge to keep up with. It contained too much disorganized material, and needed a serious revamp. The Mana’o experiment worked well after a few failed email attempts. And the upcoming Concordia repository? Well, it’s not ready yet.

Revamping websites, keeping repositories up to date, and general disorganization. What do they all have in common? They all demand time.

So why, if there is never enough time, is everyone reinventing the wheel? I think there is a need for a more collaborative archive, one that is run by an interest community – ala open source software projects. It would need funding and help from various academic institutions, but not depend on only one. It would also index all the repositories available to make searching easier. (eg, indexing on Mana’o hasn’t helped in terms of finding the paper through google or other search engines).

why didn’t the AAA setup a self-archiving repository again?  A number of my teachers still worry about the “credibility” of self-archiving their work, (no matter how hard I try to explain that the material has already been peer-reviewed… so what’s the worry…)…

Anyways, this is a rather empty post, since I don’t have time either – but once i finish this thesis I will, and maybe a cross-institution repository could be setup with enough funds to really push anthropologists to archive their work? Or can we get more funds to Mana’o – I’d love to see a developer hired for a year to really get it going!

Or are self-archiving repositories intentionally keeping a low profile, to avoid fist fights with publishers?

creative commons licensing, dissertations, and you!

Looking for a dumb idea? Here’s one – stop blogging as a way to “focus” on your thesis. That’s right, I’m back and I have nothing. Two weeks of “nothing”, strange as it sounds, produced absolutely “nothing”. This morning I decided to cut my losses, and went off in search of meaning and I found lots of it.

Looking for some good ideas? danah boyd suggests grad students should publish their dissertations using a creative commons license:

But I also want to make a plea to all of you grad students out there who are slaving away on your dissertations… Use Creative Commons. The forms you fill out when you file your diss under ProQuest encourage you to make sure to copyright your dissertation. While theft is part of the framing, it is also framed as being about you profiting off of doing so (and ProQuest brokering the sale of your diss). Realistically, 99% of all grad students are never going to see a dime directly from their dissertation. What’s the advantage of keeping “all rights reserved”? Why not let folks use it for whatever non-commercial purposes they deem fit (like teaching a chapter or two in class)? I mean… I would LOVE it if someone translated my dissertation. Or remixed it. Or turned it into a movie. That ain’t ever gonna happen, but still… why actively prevent it?

And while we’re at it… why not make it freely available? Part way through my dissertation, I realized that I had never read a dissertation. I was surprised to find that very few people make their dissertations easily available. Why? In some senses, the diss is quite embarrassing. It’s imperfect. You’re sick of it. But there are huge advantages to making it available. At the very least, it allows future students to get a sense of what they should expect. (There was nothing more nerve-calming than realizing that my mentors’ dissertations were totally sloppy at points.)

This blog has been using the creative commons license for a while now and I hope my thesis will too. I’ve also been looking into the open access publishing option available with ProQuest. Having referenced numerous papers produced and shared by grad students, I look forward to more being made available online. I also hope these papers make their way into self-archiving repositories, because it isn’t easy to find the thousands of great papers people post on their blogs!

But doesn’t an author already have copyright on his work? What does the creative commons license add? Well for one thing, it makes the kind of copyright explicit, and allows for some control over how the work will be used. Christopher Kelty was recently asked this question in response to his book “Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software”:

“I understand the purpose of Two Bits, and the thesis behind the other assignments, however, I found a fundamental problem with the idea of “sharing” as promoted here. At the bottom of your About page there is a link “Material on this site released under a Creative Commons By-NC-SA 3.0 License. On this page, you are encouraged to “share” and “remix” the work, but only if you “attribute” it, and that the work you create is “noncommercial” and “shared alike.”

I understand that there is the element that you can change a text, but you still have to refer back to the original and as the Two Bits site indicates, leave the author’s name on the work. Given this then, how is the Creative Commons Attribution basically any different than citing a work that you write about?”

Kelty responds that the creative commons license at least clarifies copyright and usage issues:

“If I had put the site and book online without the CC-BY-NC license on it (i.e. relying only on the full power of copyright), you would have no rights whatsover to do anything with it. Arguably, you would only barely have the right to read it, since in doing so you would be making an unauthorized copy. You would certainly have no right to re-distribute it, change it, or remix it, whether for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

So the CC license gives you the right to do that, and yes, it does that subject to certain restrictions– that you attribute the source work to me (though you would own the copyright on the modified work), and that you refrain from competing with Duke. You retain your “fair use” rights (which generally covers the right to cite a work in another context) regardless of whether there is a license or not… but fair use is a tricky and limited doctrine… it should cover more than just citation, and in some ways the CC license is just a clear and explicit legal green light to you to exercise, at minimum, your fair use rights.

A more radical gesture would be to dedicate the book and the writings here to the public domain, which would in principle mean that you could do whatever you want with it, no restrictions.”

Isn’t the main idea to simply allow people to access academic research more easily? Not for some! Beyond the price-barrier issue are arguments against controlling ideas through intellectual property rights. See Rich’s post “Fuck Creative Commons” where he writes:

“Acceptance for the license is growing globally and their legality has been proven in court. However, I feel there is a type of evil greed that undercuts the good intentions of the foundation, hidden in its subtle support of the existing copyright structure.”

So within the “open access” movement are numerous competing ideals. Stephen Harnad argues that most researchers goals for open access to research can be satisfied by breaking down the price-barrier. Self-archiving and open access journals can achieve this. There are also more radical arguments against intellectual property.

Personally, I don’t see how I can remix an essay licensed with the creative commons any differently than I can one published in a ‘locked down’ journal. How I use material in an academic context isn’t really controlled by legalities, but by academic tradition. Legally I can cite Wikipedia.  Morally I want to cite Wikipedia.  Some teachers won’t let you anyways.

I do see how making the material free to access online helps me and other researchers tremendously. But if someone wanted to take paragraphs from my blog, post them in a collage, then throw paint all over it as some sort of art installation – well do I really care if they attribute my work? Nope.  So maybe in some ways I disagree with my own use of the creative commons license.

At least I get to use the fancy logo which might be a rhetorical trick to establish authority and value!

+1 to remixing other peoples great blog posts.

self-archiving and anthropology v2

The original self-archiving and anthropology post I wrote reads like an attack on the Mana’o repository, based on a single email server issue. I consider the original post one of my worst (the post is one of those written-in-the-moment blog specials that did not turn out so well). After re-sending my emails to the repository, and successfully incorporating one of my professors articles into the archive, I can say they do an amazing job and I’m amazed at how simple the process is.

I checked out the copyright legalities before sending in the article, but this was unnecessary as the project team does all this work for you. It really is as easy as sending an email, with the desired work one wants to be self archived attached.

Many thanks to the Mana’o Project for making self-archiving so easy for anthropologists! Now I have an excellent example to convince more professors to embrace OA.