Is Open Access a Realistic Possibilty

This week we were looking at the argument of publishing academic articles and the costs that go with it. I must start off by saying it’s not something I have given much thought. Lecturers bring the topic up from time to time but as far as I’m concerned while in university they are all free for me. Of course people will point out I incur costs through my education fees but I’m sure my education fees are wasted on much less worthwhile endeavours.

All three pieces I read looked at the option of open access and its validity and as with everything there are two sides to every story. The figures stated seem outlandish and the first piece I read “Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist” says it all in the title. The last article I read was the only one that tried to actually explain the outlandish costs “Open access: The true cost of science publishing” that publishers slap on. Something I can’t quite get to grips with is the variation in prices. Some articles cost less than a $/€100 with others going in to the thousands. The explanation of course comes down to hybrid journals and the importance of the subject matter as well as the peer review process but it still seems over the top.
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The debate about open access was discussed thoroughly in “Gold or green: which is the best shade of open access?” and while people seem to be pushing for this is doesn’t actually seem like a viable option to me. Costs would be shifted and the debate whether the average price per article would actually rise or fall is still unsure due to economic demands. Furthermore the lack of enthusiasm as it was put from researchers and research funders to deposit any manuscripts they publish in subscription journals in free online repositories seems an intriguing issue.The lack of a business model behind the gold open access coupled with the fact they seemed to have an agenda going in to it does not shine a good light on that route. However I would be worried if the green open access was adopted, there would be far too much to be waded through with everyone having their articles accessible. I admittedly don’t understand and would need to carry out further research which of course depends on the access I have to what’s published I suppose.

The general consensus is that open access is the way to go and it will eventually become the way. However coming from my economic background I can’t see why organisations would even entertain the idea of relinquishing any power especially if there is nobody forcing them, which there is not. Apparently this debate has been going on since the early 90s and from what I could ascertain will continue on for some time to come. Of course with anything technology has its impact. Many organisations are still dealing with antiquated workflows for arranging peer review, typesetting, file-format conversion and other chores. Whereas small start-ups can come up with fresh workflows using the latest electronic tools, some established publishers are.

Only time will tell and every vested party will have their say no doubt and keep a close eye but who eventually wins out is a mystery nobody can answer at this point in time.

Sources:
Open access: The true cost of science publishing Cheap open-access journals raise questions about the value publishers add for their money.(2013) Richard Van Noorden

Gold or green: which is the best shade of open access?

Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist. (2011) George Monbiot

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Alternative Career Paths

This week was all about asking the question if not a librarian what else can I be? For me though it’s asking a lot more than just that. It’s asking what am I going to do with my life? That is a terrifyingly daunting question for anyone but for me who is so unsure, it leaves me feeling uneasy.

The first reading this week Varejs, J. (2009) Careers and Education in Library and Information Science left me a bit bemused. While many of my fellow students are taking the M.L.I.S, I am not. I am doing a MSc in Information systems but I take the point of the readings and offering alternative careers. For me the article outlined the weaknesses of the L.I.S course and in particular how poorly it is viewed within the library community. A line that struck was that a lot of jobs are looking for the skills that are taught but they want someone with a different degree. However those skills were passed off as something you either have or you don’t and the fact you are being taught is neither here nor there. It didn’t have a positive spin at all.
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The second short piece 61 Non-Librarian Jobs for LIS Grads basically pointed out that you that there are options outside of working in a library and that you have to look for jobs that may not be advertised to you but are asking for the skills you have. This is all well and good but to tie into the first article, that in order to get these jobs you need to have other qualifications and that librarian’ constantly have to be improving themselves. To me it stank that your degree is worthless and you have to make it better. Well what’s the point in even doing it in the first place then if you are potentially working outside of the librarian field? The fact there was even an article on the matter was off-putting. What other field has to justify themselves?

While I may agree or disagree with the message I got from this topic is irrelevant, it was just the message it sent that sat uneasily with me. From a personnel point of view as I said I’m not actually doing an L.I.S but my degree doesn’t hold much more weight. I couldn’t honestly say what type of job my degree will get me. It’s all a bit of a mix bagged and while people will sit there and tell me, you can do x,y & z I would have to argue against them. I will have to justify myself getting a job more than anyone else coming off a different degree.

Its a question I am not looking ready to answer because I worry if I even can. I don’t know whats next but it is something I cant ignore for much longer.

Sources:
Mia Breitkopf: 61 Non-Librarian Jobs for LIS Grads

Varejs, J. (2009) Careers and Education in Library and Information Science

To Solve a Problem, Think Like a Mad Child

This week’s selected readings were highly interesting. I started off the Howard and Davis article which looked at how problems are solved. It took ideas, firstly evidence based practice (EBP) which deals with solving a problem with previously thought out solutions. Looking at what is already in place to solve upcoming problems essentially. Secondly was design thinking which brings in the concept of iterations which was an extremely important concept last semester in a class I took called system analysis and design. This idea is to go beyond what we already know and come up with new creative solutions to solve new creative problems. The article continued to try and create a hybrid between these two solution ideologies by taking the best of both.
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This brings me nicely to the second reading Bowler et al, It was quite a long reading but honestly the most interesting and one I know I am going to come back to again and again. It didn’t particularly throw up any new concepts I haven’t come across before but it did amalgamate them in to one piece. The corner stone of the article was user centred design (UCD). This idea is based on creating a solution by involving the user in the process. Quite often the user is ignored even though they are the one who will end up using whatever the product will be. In this article it looked at how the user searches for information. The idea of using social tagging was very interesting and kind of ties in to the crowd sourcing I spoke about last week. By combining the power of a lot of people you can eventually create a solution that benefits the greater majority.

Some of the best solutions are quite often the ones you are not thinking about. It is not always simple. I suppose that’s why people say geniuses tend to be a bit mad. So I am not sure if it is good thing to be sane all of the time. Even in the Bowler et al, article when they looked at participatory web interface design with children you can see the logic behind it. Children think in a completely different fashion to adults and come out with some extraordinarily creative thoughts. When trying to solve a problem or come up with solutions, it is important to think outside the box, or even think like a child or a mad man or a bit of both. While some of the solutions that are thought will be utterly useless by applying the thought process in the Howard and Davis article eventually a solution will created and it could be great.

Sources:
Howard & Davis 2011. Evidence Based Library & Information Practice

Bowler et al, 2011. Issues in User Centred Design in LIS