PKP 2007

I’m attending the Public Knowledge Project‘s PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference 2007, and I’ll be entering brief descriptions of the events and my impressions over the next few days. Here’s the conference’s self-description:

The conference will provide opportunities for those involved in the organization, promotion, and study of scholarly communication to share and discuss innovative work in scholarly publishing, with a focus on the contribution that open source publishing technologies (such as, but not restricted to, PKP’s OJS, OCS, and OA Harvester) can make to improving access to research and scholarship on a global and public scale.

Major keynote and plenary speakers have now been confirmed. John Willinsky, the founder of PKP and the creator of OJS software will provide the opening keynote address. Raym Crow from SPARC will speak on publishing cooperatives and the various forms they might take for nonprofit publishers, including societies, university presses, and universities themselves. We are also pleased to welcome Anurag Acharya, Google Scholar’s founding engineer. Finally, Michael Geist will close the conference with his thoughts on the changes and challenges that lie ahead in the fields of communications, knowledge creation, and intellectual property.

To get an idea of the quality of the free, open-source software that the PKP is producing, have a look at the metadata that accompanies each paper described on the conference site (click on the on the right-hand menu). This data is exportable to citation software such as Endnote. That right-hand menu also has other good functions.

Today I went to a CLA workshop called Transitioning to Open Access on how librarians can engage in the practice of open access (OA). There were three presenters, Heather Joesph of SPARC, Kathleen Shearer of CARL, and Heather Morrison of the CLA. The presentations will be available on E-LIS later today.

Heather J.’s presentation was a overview of the state of OA, and a reminder of some of the major challenges faced by librarians and library systems that are involved in the support of OA projects, be they journals or repositories. She also highlighted the issue of author rights and talked on how to advocate policy support for OA initiatives. Her take away was that librarians can educate colleagues and administrators on OA realities, and can encourage the initiation of OA projects and OA-friendly policies. Toward these goals, she highlighted the DOAJ as a promotional tool, and announced the Canadian version of SPARC’s author’s addendum. In addition she recommended ROMEO database, and invited us to look forward to a SPARC database of publishers’ current copyright practices.

Kathleen Shearer of CARL
started out by noting that decision makers at Canadian universities have recognized the “unsustainability” of current publishing business models, under which research information is paid for three times (by the granting body, by the underpaid editorial work of professors, and by libraries who purchase journals). As evidence, she cited John Lorinc’s
The Bottom Line on Open Access
. She then outlined CARL’s history as a promoter and tester of OA projects with its Institutional Repository Program (almost all major Canadian research libraries now host repositories), and identified the next step as finding ways to populate these resources. CARL is now producing an “IR Advocacy Toolkit” (available in the spring), it initiating a discipline-specific Repository Pilot, is enriching its CARLCORE Metadata standard, and is developing tools to support the production of repository usage statistics.

Heather M’s presentation focussed on the CLA’s history with OA, and it was very instructive. The CLA endorsed OA principles in 2002, and has since moved to sign both the major international OA declarations, and has taken steps to make all their materials available in OA-compatible ways. To paraphrase her “We decided that our members do not join primarily for the benefit of getting a print publication delivered to their home, just in case they are caught out with nothing to read.” One of the major benefits, she said, of all this policy work at the CLA has been to make it much easier to respond when called upon to make contributions to public debates. As we heard several times in this workshop, publishers have sophisticated means to make their views known to government, and government has repeatedly called for input from other interest groups.

I won’t describe the rest of the workshop in much detail, except to say that there was an informed and discussion of some of the major issues facing improved OA in Canada, as well as some interesting solutions proposed. It was good to hear publishers and librarians calling for dialogue and collaboration, as well as to hear scholars speak to the core issues that will make OA publishing more interesting to them.

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