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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Sunday, July 01, 2007

    First Bloomsbury Conference on e-publishing and e-publications (2)

    Day 2 (Report on Day 1, here) introduced three new drivers of change: open access, web 2.0 and new technology, and changes in scholarly communications. If one topic was guaranteed to spark debate it was open access, and various papers on or around the topic generated some lively discussion on both sides of the argument: publishers - from Graham Taylor on Day 1 onwards seemed nervous, and a little bit defensive, about the idea while other speakers saw it as a natural progression in scholarly publishing. It seemed to me that if institutional repositories began setting in place mechanisms for peer review and generating journals from the repositories another step might have been made... and indeed there is work being done on OVERLAY journals.

    Geoffrey Bilder from CrossRef took as his theme three trends:
    • Researchers don't want to read
    • The edge is the new centre
    • The publishing value chain is shrinking
    and used Web 2.0 to demonstrate a brave new world. He also asked, "Why do we publish articles that synthesise data, which is then mined back out of the article? This is a paper-based model - we could just be publishing the data electronically." Michael Jubb highlighted the gap between discovery and access (particularly the 'subscription barrier') and welcomed the CIBER/Centre for Publishing e-Book Observatory which through Deep Log Analysis enhanced by qualitative research would help funding bodies and others to understand the research process.

    I think it was Michael who also made the point that there is nothing new about open access - authors have always forwarded offprints of articles!

    The afternoon panel began with four papers: Martin Richardson of OUP asked where are mainstream journal publishers with new models? He was followed by Leo Walford, Sage Publishing, who talked about making journals more accessible. Matthew Cockerill of BioMed Central looked at new, emerging, and potential models, and Sue McKnight finished by challenging everyone with a list of library hates, and a shorter list of library loves on e-resources culled from an e-mail straw pole of academic librarians. This was particularly interesting for me as without exception, the issues raised are those with which we deal in our collection management training! The question was also raised as to whether librarians are lazy with regard to collection building - simply taking what e-resources are offered!

    After a short question and answer session with the afternoon's panel - including a request for a Medium Deal instead of a Big Deal for journals - the librarians in the audience did not agree with Graham Taylor's opening remarks that the Big Deal was working! Also the comment that there was no need for journal articles to look like the print model - why don't they (and e-books) make more use of the electronic environment to enhance the content? There was also more evidence of a lack of collection development policies (CDPs) and the comment that it would be useful to share them. From the Chair, Anthony Watkinson reminded us of the UK Research Reserve Project (UKRR) aims to establish a co-ordinated and sustainable system to coordinate the collection of printed journals and monographs held in UK libraries so as to preserve them permanently and make them accessible to researchers and others who wish to consult them.

    Finally, Richard Charkin rounded off the day by refusing to predict the future and offering a reprise of the June 2nd Google laptop heist. [It was an elegant way of making the point about opt-in/opt-out, if you first accepted that Google was breaching copyright with Google Book Search.] Quoting Darwin (in whose lecture theatre we were) he ended: 'It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.'

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