17 May 2023

First women’s footy game!

I became a card-carrying member of an AFLW team in season 1. I was finally pleased to see a women’s footy game in person – and a championship game, no less!

Over the weekend, Hamilton hosted the AFL Canada Cup, a tournament for North American women’s teams. I didn’t get to see the whole tournament, but I did make it for the final game between the Calgary Kookaburras (actually joint with Burnaby Eagles) and the Etobicoke Kangaroos.

Picture of Calgary Kookaburras in red playing against the Etobicoke Kangaroos in blue.

Unfortunately, things did not go well for the Kangaroos. And this wasn’t the final score, which I think was 50 to zero? Weirdly, I can’t find any definitive report of game results in the tournament.

Scoreboard showing Calgary 44, Etobicoke 0

External links

The AFL Canada Cup

Aussie-rules football Canadian-style

AFL Canada Instagram

16 May 2023

The “blog and secretaries” model of scholarly publishing

Steve Harnad has done much for open access. So I was surprised by a new article, in which he wrote:

In the old pre-digital days of S&S (“scientists and scholars” - ZF) publishing, the true costs of providing print-on-paper to would-be users required the services of another profession for the production and delivery. But (let’s cut to the quick) those days are over, forever. Online publication is not altogether cost-free, but the costs are so ridiculously low that all an S&S author needs pay for is a blog service-provider, rather like a phone or email service provider. ...

All other goods and services are now obsolete – or almost obsolete: scaled down to only the tiny, trivial cost per article of managing the peer review, by paying secretaries to run the software for soliciting and monitoring it.

This is such misleading characterization of what is required to run an online publication that I kind of can’t believe he wrote it. I think he knows better – I hope e knows better – but is oversimplifying to try to make a point.

Before I go on, I want to be clear. I am not about to argue here is not that journal prices are fair, or they could not be lower. When I commented on this article on Twitter, Bj√∂rn Brembs came in and provided what the article lacked: some real values associated with costs. 

What I want to comment on is Harnad’s characterization of the infrastructure of an online publishing platform. A blog service and a secretary is pretty much all you need, according to him.

In the last decade, there have been no shortage of people providing online scholarly platforms. Many of those are trying hard to move away from legacy academic publishing and the costs associated with those traditional journals.

Very few have been able to make the “blog and secretary” model work. There are possible exceptions, judging from this description of the Journal of Machine Learning Research. Keep in mind, though, that this description is now over ten years old. I am sure there are other niches for the “blog and secretaries” model, but I don’t think this is the way forward for all scholarly communication.

Preprint servers provide open access for readers without fee to authors. They are no legacy publishers, and would seem to be prime candidates for Harnad’s proposed ultra-lightweight publishing model.

This article describes how several preprint servers were struggling to get enough money to run. Since the article appeared in 2020, a of them – INA-Rxiv, ArabiXiv – are no longer taking new submissions.

Brembs mentioned Humanities Common as a model. It has expenses of about US$750,000 and is run by three major committees. This still seems a far cry from the picture Harnad paints of using off the shelf software and a skeleton staff.

Likewise, larger preprint servers have higher costs and a bureaucracy to sustain them. The big one, arXiv has a budget of US$4.8 million.

I would love to survey of researchers on their estimates of the costs of a preprint server and how many people it takes to keep them running. Prediction: I bet a lot of them would underestimate the cost and time it takes to do so, perhaps influenced by descriptions like Harnad’s.

External links

Publishers can’t be blamed for clinging to the golden goose

Popular preprint servers face closure because of money troubles

15 May 2023

“Publisher bans & DORA” roundtable recording and notes

Publisher bans & DORA

 Today, I was the moderator for the “Publisher bans & DORA” roundtable! Everything worked as it was supposed to, and we kept the discussion to a tight hour.

Thanks to my panelists Payal Joshi, Katherine Stephan, and Jennifer Coston-Guarini for joining me and keeping the discussion lively and interesting!

A video of the roundtable is on YouTube. I edited the video, but edits may not be processed by YouTube yet. If you see "dead air" at the start of the video, jump to 7:29.

I have saved some material on Figshare. Currently, it’s just the introductory material about events that inspired the roundtable. It may expand in the coming days.

External links

Recording of “Publisher bans & DORA” on YouTube

Notes and other material from “Publisher bans & DORA”

11 May 2023

I told you the Lemon test was important

I’ve been expecting new bills in the US that re-introduce “intelligent design” into schools. Reason? The Kennedy v. Bremeton School District ruling in 2022. 

Surprisingly, a lot of people do not seem to think this is likely.

But state legislators sure noticed the court case.

You may have heard that there was a bill introduced into the Texas legislature to require schools to display the Ten Commandments of the Bible (88R SB1515). It’s passed the Senate.

The analysis of the bill includes a section on the intent of the bill. And it’s super clear: the bill is being pushed because the Kennedy ruling said the Supreme Court was abandoning the Lemon test.

This legislation only became legally feasible with the United States Supreme Court's opinion last year in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, 142 S. Ct. 2407 (2022), which overturned the Lemon test under the Establishment Clause (found in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971)) and instead provided a test of whether a governmental display of religious content comports with America's history and tradition.

If the loss of the Lemon test was an open invitation for lawmakers to display religion in schools, why on earth would they stop with displays? Why would you not start to push for religious instructions in public schools?

09 May 2023

How article paywalls made (some) science more accessible

Everyone grumbles about paying for a single scientific article.

But you used to not be able to do that. Articles were bundled in journals, and if you wanted to read an article, you typically needed to find the entire journal issue. Your options to do that were limited.

You could subscribe to a journal in your field. Maybe. Journals superficially look like magazines, but they were rarely priced like magazines. Journals had small print runs, so the economics of printing journals were very different than printing magazines. So a year’s subscription for a journal would not run tens of dollars, but could be thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars for a year. (The Journal of Comparative Neurology was famously expensive. And continues to be, last I looked.)

If an article wasn’t in a journal you subscribed to (because nobody could subscribe to all the journals they would need), you had to hope a library subscribed to the journal if you needed a single article from that journal. But libraries didn’t subscribe to everything, either.

That left either interlibrary loans or sending postcards to authors asking for reprints. Both were time consuming. It could take weeks to get a reply, if you got one at all. It didn’t always yield results.

Yes, I know everyone wants knowledge to be free and we haven’t gone far enough and all that.

When you compare what getting a single article used to involve,being able to just spend some money to get a single article that you need on demand?

That improved people’s ability to get to the scientific literature.

Related posts

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