February 2, 2012

The Battle Has Begun

Filed under: Uncategorized — Neil Godfrey @ 4:02 pm
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English: Open Access logo and text

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The Chronicle of Higher Education has a wonderfully encouraging article about academics taking on the tyranny of the academic publishing industry. The bottom line of the issue is the argument that publicly funded research should by rights be made publicly available.

It’s by Josh Fischman, A few excerpts:

A protest against Elsevier, the world’s largest scientific journal publisher, is rapidly gaining momentum since it began as an irate blog post at the end of January. By Tuesday evening, about 2,400 scholars had put their names to an online pledge not to publish or do any editorial work for the company’s journals, including refereeing papers.

. . . . .

Protesters . . . say Elsevier is emblematic of an abusive publishing industry. “The government pays me and other scientists to produce work, and we give it away to private entities,” says Brett S. Abrahams, an assistant professor of genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “Then they charge us to read it.” Mr. Abrahams signed the pledge on Tuesday after reading about it on Facebook.

Those views highlight a split that could spell serious trouble for journal publishers, and for researchers. Price complaints are not new, but some observers say this is the first time that the suppliers of journal content—the scientists—are upset enough to cut the supply line. But, if publishers are correct, those scientists could cut themselves off from valuable research tools.

According to the boycotters, Elsevier, which publishes over 2,000 journals including the prestigious Cell and The Lancet, is abusing academic researchers in three areas. First there are the prices. Then the company bundles subscriptions to lesser journals together with valuable ones, forcing libraries to spend money to buy things they don’t want in order to get a few things they do want. And, most recently, Elsevier has supported a proposed federal law, the Research Works Act (HR 3699), that could prevent agencies like the National Institutes of Health from making all articles written by grant recipients freely available.

. . . .

[T]he protest has also reached junior scholars like Mr. Abrahams of Albert Einstein, who has yet to gain tenure.

“I have three papers I’m hoping to submit in the next 12 weeks. One was destined for Cell, and another for Neuron,” also published by Elsevier, he said. “It would have been a real feather in my cap to publish there. But I won’t, based on this week’s discussions.” His work, focused on identifying genes related to autism, will go other places. “There are other good journals. And, long term, I’d like my library to be able to use its limited resources to better ends” than high journal prices, he said.

That could signal real problems for Elsevier, says Kevin Smith, director of scholarly communications at Duke University Libraries. “Librarians have long complained about prices and bundling journals together, and nothing has changed,” he says. “Now it’s not just the customers who are complaining. It’s the suppliers.”

Academic librarians may buy journals, but it’s the scientists who produce and submit articles that make them worth buying, he says. “If they are upset, there is a chance they may change the system.”

. . . .

Nor does the Elsevier infrastructure impress younger scholars like Mr. Abrahams. “It could disappear tomorrow, and I’d never notice that it’s gone,” he said.

There is also the related question of long-term preservation. Libraries have traditionally been the repositories for this purpose but online journal publishers have robbed libraries of that ability and have forced the academic world to trust private companies whose bottom line is the profit margin with the preservation of our research heritage.

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November 15, 2011

Measuring Your Research Impact

Filed under: Uncategorized — Neil Godfrey @ 1:08 pm

MyRI: An Open Access toolkit to support bibliometrics training and awareness

MyRI is a self-paced tutorial on tools that help you measure your research impact. There are 3 modules:

  • introductory overview
  • journal ranking
  • bibliometrics to support your career and research strategy.

You can view the modules online or download them. The material is licensed open access. There are also tailored materials for computer science and geography.

The UQ Library also has information and fact sheets to help you understand metrics and rankings and their use in grant and promotion applications.

November 11, 2011

CAIRSS Community Day

Filed under: Cairss Community Day — Neil Godfrey @ 8:14 pm

It was good to catch up with some old and make contact with some new colleagues in the university repository business. A hopelessly lost taxi driver caused me to be late for the first session that I particularly wanted to attend — ARC’s reps discussing ERA reporting. But fortunately I had a chance to spend some time chatting with the presenters afterwards to make up for this.

Good to hear from ANDS that ANDS is now a DOI minting service.

We had a Skype session with reps from Google Scholar. A brief moment of panic washed over us all as we learned that DOIs and handles are not the sorts of things internet crawlers primarily look for, but all were quickly reassured that as long as such URIs were included in the metadata records themselves there was no problem.

I picked up quite a few interesting ideas for repository services and design for the benefit of academics and the university as a result of the presentation from Curtin. QUT does some similar things, but good to know who as done the sorts of things that look good for us.

Also interested to hear UWA has a similar number of students as CDU. And I identified totally with Deakin’s project to systematize so much of their workflow. Why on earth do repositories still use hand-filled reporting pages and local file systems. Get everything automated into the repository itself!

The highlight for me was Dr Danny Kingsley’s report from the latest German Open Access Conference. Now here is where the ideas are at.  Had a great opportunity to catch up with a quick personal chat afterwards and look forward to following through on practices that will address questions of scalability in particular.

OA week ideas were discussed next. Nice of one can have a $2000 budget and offer a free i-pad for participation. We must work on that one.

Several other interesting tidbits came along — video repositories, NZ experiences, copyright matters, non-research items, and more.

It’s been a long but rewarding week. Looking forward to getting home 1 a.m. tomorrow morning!

November 10, 2011

Data citation and VIVO workshops

Filed under: eResearch Australasia 2011 — Neil Godfrey @ 4:41 pm

Today was about workshops. The first one addressed “building a culture of research data citations”. This filled me in on the core differences between handles and DOIs and how choosing between the two is a business decision. I had not fully grasped the role, nature and significance of DataCite until this workshop. Collected plenty of little flyers for research staff back at CDU, too, to introduce others to the whole concept of data citation.

 The afternoon — VIVO — specifically its use as an e-research tool. Particularly glad I went to this one since it filled me in on what is clearly a significant open source tool that is being taken up across America and Europe.
I have been raising the question of Topic Maps, but can see the potential of something like VIVO to fill this gap, and it is more likely to gain traction, I think, given what I understand is its wider versatility than TMs. Ontology building is what both are all about, of course, but I am glad I took the opportunity to ask about the process involved in beginning such an ontology for detail rich collections such as a specialist collection to do with aboriginal culture and languages, or a collection of a famous person. I got the most obvious answer: don’t attempt too much detail at the beginning. Start with the higher level concepts and stick with those  until ready and able to drill down into the details. — Integrated Ontology Editor and Semantic Web Application — DataStaR, an experimental Data Staging Repository — the VIVO site, “Enabling collaboration and discovery among scientists across  all disciplines — VIVO and ANDS — “Building an Australian user community for VIVO”

November 9, 2011

Day 3 eResearch Australasia Conference

Filed under: eResearch Australasia 2011 — Neil Godfrey @ 8:22 pm

Total attendance about 500. US, German, UK, NZ and Australian speakers and reps.

Opened with a video introducing us to The Cloud. This is where we are headed so that researchers will be able to focus on research rather than storage of mass data.

This morning’s plenary talk by Peter Fox of RPI was one of those that I find I can only take in at impression level and that motivates me to explore a whole lot of new activities under way I had no knowledge of till now. Peter Fox is talking about “Web 6.0”.

Peter spoke of data visualization, and this dug into something other than either inductive and deductive reasoning — abductive reasoning — coined by the Charles Sanders Pierce of Semiotics fame.

He challenged the old paradigm I have long taken for granted: that from data we move to the next level of information and then to knowledge. That’s not how things work in the real world. There is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between those three.

All the videos are on vimeo. Lots to explore about where we are headed.

Peter Fox is a Tasmanian, too. I keep hearing of Tasmanians making it big in the U.S. beginning with Peter Singer.

Paul Walk (UKOLN) followed with a talk on the developer community supporting innovation. Some interesting points and some I would like to question too — such as pros and cons of outsourcing one’s developing support.

First breakout session was with Anna SHadbolt (Versi) — Building training into the value proposition of eResearch

Glad to catch up with another session led by Leslie Carr, the ePrints director. Hope his presentation is online. He was looking at the changing roles and services of repositories and their growing importance. Repository Scope is widening now to embrace research activity and business requirements.

A repository is no longer just a storage bin. It is becoming a sociological and technological phenomenon — a new way of doing research.

The listened to John Morrissey or CSIRO and ways of building data management services supporting a multi-disciplinary research organization. I  have made a note to get a copy of this presentation. Too much significant detail relevant to what I am doing to single out just  a few points.

Followed up with another interesting combined presentation of the Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV) and TROVE (NLA) and work done to take paper, digitize, and then go the next step to extracting useful data in useful formats through XL files and TEI. Basic OCR techniques are enhanced by the community. Caught up afterwards with Jane Hunter of UQ and was pleased to know of her contacts with Michael Christie’s project about preserving aboriginal cultures that I will be working on next year. More valuable contacts to benefit from the tools and experiences that are accumulating and will be most useful for our projects.

I then went to a semantic web technology session I had been looking forward to but unfortunately it was delivered at a level way above my head. Now I know I still have a hell of a lot to learn to really understand full applications of this.

The final plenary was by Jan Brase of DataCite: Riding the Wave — paradigm shifts in information access. See

Jan’s introduction was attention grabbing: a thousand years ago science was empirical; for the last few hundred years, theoretical; in recent decades, computational; and today, it is data exploration — unifying theories, along with experiment and simulation. Jan clearly has a librarianship background and was able to point out the importance of libraries as providers of information, as being consistent and also as a requirement to nowadays be a portal to information. Jan introduced us to the ways these services are offered by TIB, the German National Library of Science and Technology. This was eye-opening: how a library record might direct you to an Elsevier metadata record and a link that you must pay Elsevier lots of money to access (that is, the publication itself) — but on the same page will be a link to the data itself on which the publication is based — and that data is free.  Jan also showed us new ways of searching for information. Forget text searches: try visual searching, 3D sketching, — doing a sketch or even a simple line of a certain curve in order to locate information of the related architectural or statistical data, even if they are in text format in the database.

The values of being able to cite data itself (DOI’s — though ANDS uses handles) were enumerated — for one thing it makes falsification of research less easy — and more — were addressed. I took the chance to record the rest of this presentation and will outline more detail in future posts.

It was a wonderful major presentation with which to conclude the conference. I had a wonderful opportunity to talk briredly with Jan afterwards, too. I feel much more comfortable now that I’ve returned to Australia after my two year absence in Singapore. DataCite is the sort of operation I need to know more about to help me focus CDU’s upcoming digital collections, projects and datasets — and publications, too — in the “right” international direction.

Tomorrow is a workshop all day. And after that a day with CAIRSS — repository coordinators and so getting together. Then home. And then the time I’ve spent here this week will start to sink in, and emails will be sent and contacts renewed and the work of CDU will, I am sure, advance in the right direction with the best inputs available.

November 8, 2011

Day 2 pt 2 (pm) eResearch Australasia 2011

Filed under: eResearch Australasia 2011 — Neil Godfrey @ 5:23 pm

The afternoon sessions began with a major 4 person presentation on the 2011 Strategic Roadmap Research Infrastructure Process — and the response from the Australian eResearch Infrastructure Council.  The major challenges on a national basis were addressed — right down to the “simple” or grassroots challenge of the speed of change leading to variable understandings within the academic communities of what is needed, available, etc.

Rhys Francis presented a clear visualization of what eResearch infrastructure involves — look forward to sharing this in some detail later, too. There is a huge shift underway which will enable researchers to research “the real world” and to connect reality to experiment and theory: such is the finesse and complexity of new instruments. We are talking about moving from mere petabytes to exacomputing by 2020. But that leads to the personnel problem and building ways to ensure we have IT people who really can handle exascale computing by then. Scientists are going to have to give up building their own codes as much as IT people would never consider doing the discipline research themselves.

Significant questions were raised and addressed at the end of this session. One was how to ensure the “tail end” of research data is not overlooked with the funding and attention on the “big end”. This ought to be addressed in the Roadmap.

Sad news — James Tizard passed away only in August. A James Tizard Memorial Prize was announced.

A later session was Lessons for data sharing from institutional repositories — presented by Rebecca from Swinburne. Much of this was familiar to me but interesting to hear the issues clearly spelled out and hearing other suggestions and experiences with the attempts to address these.

Attended another BoF (birds of a feather) session on user-facing data services and capability building.  This was  a practical experience and ideas sharing session, and I recorded several useful tips on ways to approach researchers and their supervisors, appreciations for their situations and state of knowledge about tools out there that they would use if they knew about them, tips on the choices of “champions” you select to lead as pilots for the sharing of the data, and the importance of simply listening — like a psychiatrist, don’t be afraid to pause long enough for them to come out; also doing ground work before meeting them, etc etc. Lots of tips to go over and write up as a checklist before next tackling key personnel.

Then dropped in on an eResearch experiences with education and training session. Belinda Weaver was dynamic as usual — again many useful tips and experience sharing on educational techniques for new students and staff recruits and PhD students. No time to list everything now but maybe after I return.

This was not entirely what I was looking for, however, so I left early and shared the time with a session on databases for the humanities. More personal contacts and sites to follow up here. Ideas ticking over now for how to assist with the new project we are looking at on preserving aboriginal languages and cultures in the Northern Territory.

Day 2 at eResearch Australasia 2011

Filed under: eResearch Australasia 2011 — Neil Godfrey @ 9:50 am

Began today with one an explanation of a new Government driven initiative to drive the open access of research data and publications: AusGOAL:[0]=1749 But the session raised a question that came up yesterday where I thought it was mentioned that the Australian Research Council was in its latest brief merely suggesting it w0uld be a “nice idea” if researchers published their findings OA. Must follow up this. The talk concluded with a call for a more activist Australian community — that is, those who want to take (Australian government?)  information and reuse it for community purposes.

Next session was about AURIN — a project to build e-infrastructure for Australian urban research. This is divergent —  it covers health, logistics, transport, forecasting, etc etc, so is not well integrated — a large disparate community.

AURIN is not about funding research itself but what was discussed were the challenges and progress and methods towards building infrastructure that does support research by leveraging tools that have been built as part of research grants. So a tool might have been developed that AURIN can take and make more robust and reusable. This is something good to know about and worth sharing with others back at CDU.

Next I attended a discussion on the state and progress of the TARDIS project — this is a repository for managing large scale scientific data along with linkages to the instruments used to collect the data and a data management system. By large scale we are talking about data from the Australian Synchrotron and how this is to be disseminated to university research centres and also indexed centrally.

Then listened to a session on ways of selecting a research data management platform. Lots of useful principles and advice here. Will have to share in more detail after I return at end of conference.

Finally this morning I visited a discussion on Provenance Aware Automate Quality Control. Again most useful. Provenance data is important for sharing and making sense and use of data, and sometimes the provenance data can be larger than the data file itself! This is still a proof of concept stage idea at this point.

More later after I attend the afternoon sessions.

November 7, 2011

eResearch Australasia 2011 conference

Filed under: eResearch Australasia 2011 — Neil Godfrey @ 5:04 pm

I’m at the eResearch Australasia conference in Melbourne — — and it’s been a great start. When I return to Darwin I’ll write up thoughts on some of the sessions in more detail. Right now the time is taken up at the presentations, discussion groups and workshops themselves, making new contacts and meeting old ones, encountering new perspectives, sometimes confronting, and sharing similar ones.

The opening Plenary Session by Bryan Heidon of the University of Arizona hit the issues that are at the heart of my responsibility for guiding research data management across the various research centres at Charles Darwin University. Bryan’s presentation was particularly a propos since he, too, has a librarian background understands the history libraries have in building up skills in data management, preservation and dissemination. The big problem — well at least one of them — is how to gather, organize and preserve all that “tail end” research data that sits on thumb drives or CDs stashed away in a researcher’s desk drawer or sits there on her hard drive in a spreadsheet or propriety format that is fast becoming all but obsolete.

It’s called ‘tail end’ data but only in the sense of a Brontosaurus tail. The ‘head data’ might be all the petabytes of data produced by high cost technologies but this other “tail end” data that is closeted away in researchers’ offices has a value that is also huge — though this is only noticed over time and through a cumulative series of small-scale uses.

Satellites produce what is really “proxy data” images of the environment but nothing replaces the value (it is “gold” by comparison) with on the field observers who can contextualize what is there. Hence the increasing value and contributions of “citizen science” for data collection. So Byran’s plenary session led to a later BoF (birds of a feather) session where we addressed the more “on the ground” issues needed for gathering and storing this data with metadata in such a way that will benefit other research interests in the long run. Why not develop simple “apps” for “citizen scientists” to photograph and forward the information they collect to scientists who can peer-review it and have it all (through behind the scenes algorithms, apps, etc) be stored and contextualized in repositories where it is shareable and resuable?

Of course we were also looking at ways to approach the research community, and addressing some stalwart problems, too — such as the current situation whereby in some areas, such as materials sciences, propriety rights are so strictly enforced that we are in those areas faced with a push to hide and isolate research data to all but those who want to immediately profit from it.

I also liked the session by Ann Morgan and Mark Baldock of the University of South Australia who shared architecture models they have developed for storage, preservation and sharing and reuse of research data through their research repository.

I found a huge crowd following me to rush off to the session on “Managing Sensitive Data Across the Data Life Cycle”, too. A couple of kiwis (New Zealanders for non-Australasian readers) led this one — David Eyers and Russell Butson. That’s going to be another key issue central to my responsibility to coordinate the management of research data across the various research institutions related to Charles Darwin University. Quite interesting. First time anyone has shared with me some specifics of where to start from the “sensitive/secure” data requirements perspective.

Finally I dropped in on another BoF session that was addressing the question of “How to hit the ground running with eResearch projects”. Lots of good tips and contrary viewpoints discussed regarding the place of the IT departments, libraries, research offices, — and the role of policies verses guidelines and which comes first and the pros and cons of each, and other stuff.

Some good contacts made, too.

Looking forward to day 2 tomorrow.

October 28, 2011

Open Access Benefits

Filed under: Uncategorized — Neil Godfrey @ 5:52 pm

Professor Mike Lawes at CDU presented a comprehensive talk on the benefits of open access for academics and researchers — in particular the need for archiving their work in their institutional repositories. As part of his presentation he made use of two slides from Stevan Harnad’s powerpoint on the Southampton University site:

Green OA means Green Open Access which means authors self archive into their institutional repository the articles they publish in any journals. (It is distinct from “Gold OA” which refers to authors publishing in any of the 3000 OA journals.)

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research and International, Professor Sharon Bell in her opening presentation also made a point of singling out the future of datasets belonging in the institutional repository for long-term safekeeping, too.

And both kept using that magic word “mandate”. Everyone in Australia knows of QUT’s success with this word. Much of course depends on the politics of each place — and the tactics of how it is presented perhaps, too.

Professor Peter Morris of the Menzies School of Health Research gave an interesting take on the ethical responsibilities of open access within the context of concrete benefits to the wider community. Pity time had run out and not everyone was able to stay for his presentation. Hopefully it will be available “open access” soon.




October 18, 2011

Wanted: Library Technology Support Officer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Neil Godfrey @ 11:10 am

Exciting career opportunity at Charles Darwin University – HEW 6/7 Library Technology Support Officer

Hi Everyone,
We have an exciting job opportunity available now – Library Technology Support Officer HEW 6/7. Lots of cool technology to keep you interested and great staff and client community at CDU to work with and support.

Location: Casuarina Campus
Base salary of $60,740 – $72,232 per annum plus superannuation employer contribution of 17%. District Allowance may apply. Conditions include 6 weeks annual leave.
Continuing full-time appointment
Closes 25th October

Full details here:

Apply here

Main CDU vacancies page here

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