Author Archive

Graphic honesty

Posted in Stuff on August 27th, 2014

wccsmall

Walt Crawford, August 20, 2014, Morgan Territory Regional Preserve

That’s me. By now, some of you may have seen smaller versions of that picture in various social media (Friendfeed, Facebook, Google+, Twitter), or the same version on my personal web page.

Technically, “Morgan Territory Regional Preserve” may be wrong–the picture may have been taken in the Los Vaqueros Watershed. We were hiking on the Whipsnake Trail, which is in both areas. It’s where the hiking group I usually spend Wednesday mornings with was a week ago.

When my wife saw the picture (one among several dozen posted as a “report” on the hike) she said it was a good one. I requested a copy from the photographer (Bill Leach, another hiker) and have now replaced my older picture with this one wherever I’m aware of an icon, avator or other picture appearing. (I’m sure I’ve missed one or two and will get to them when I see them.)

The previous picture was also from a hike, oddly enough also in Morgan Territory, but from two or three years ago. It replaced a considerably older picture.

I like using a current picture because it feels honest. (That this one is a really good picture doesn’t hurt.) It’s how I really look at very nearly 69 years old. I suppose I should have a snazzy younger picture ready for an eventual obituary (and actually we may have the perfect picture–oddly enough, not all that old), but I hope that’s a long ways away. I’ve seen enough authors and others who somehow never age in their publicity pictures; I’m not them, although I understand the urge.

Why am I posting this on a Wednesday morning when I should be on a hike? I just didn’t feel like it today; I probably skip one hike out of every four or five, either because of location (there’s one area I just don’t care for) or other reasons. (For those who know the east bay, today’s hike is also partly in Morgan Territory, but in a very different part of it–it’s a Finley Road hike, partly in Mount Diablo State Park, partly in Morgan Territory, with a little too much walking to get to and from the trailhead because there’s no parking anywhere nearby.)

One other note: Yes, that is a cheap floppy gardening hat rather than a snazzy Panama hat or other hiking hat. Why? Because I have a fat head, and this gardening hat is big enough to fit it. Most hats don’t.

No deeper meaning here.

 

Correction in Cites & Insights 14:9

Posted in Cites & Insights on August 26th, 2014

Thanks to the eagle eye of an early reader, I was alerted to an error on page 15, column 2, of Cites & Insights 14:9. While there are almost certainly grammatical and spelling errors in every issue, this one was a math error that changed the significance of the paragraph–and since it was caught so early, I did something I normally never do: I fixed the paragraph, added a “[Corrected 8/26/14]” flag, and reissued the publication.

If you’ve already read it or downloaded it and don’t wish to do so again, here’s the change:

In the paragraph beginning “Most of the university libraries…” (in the subsection “Elsevier journals–some facts”), I managed to reverse the British pounds to dollars calculation. Doing it properly means changing the last two sentences in the paragraph.

What was there originally:

Notably, assuming that a pound is worth $1.70, JISC struck a much harder bargain than American public universities in general: the range is from $7.36 to $49.27, with a mean of $18.45, less than half the mean for U.S. institutions. of course, the package may very well be different.

I was somehow dividing pounds by $1.70 rather than multiplying them. Fixing that yields this text:

Converting to dollars, the range is $21.27 to $142.39 with a mean of $53.37—higher than the U.S. figures except at the low end. [Corrected 8/26/14.]

My apologies for the error.

Cites & Insights 14:9 (September 2014) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on August 25th, 2014

Cites & Insights 14:9 (September 2014) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i9.pdf

This two-column print-oriented version is 18 pages.

For those reading C&I online or on an ereader, the single-column 35-page 6×9″ edition is available at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i9on.pdf

This issue includes:

The Front: Toward 15 and 200: The Report    pp. 1-2

I promised a list of supporters and sponsors and an overall report on the outcome of the spring 2014 fundraising campaign for C&I. Here it is. Oh, there’s also “A Word to the Easily Confused” about the definition of “journal,” the change in the masthead to “periodical” because some folks are easily confused, and the need for consistency when choosing to regard gray literature as worthless.

Intersections: Some Notes on Elsevier  pp. 2-16

A half-dozen subtopics (actually five subtopics and some miscellanea) involving Elsevier that haven’t been covered recently elsewhere in C&I.

The Back  pp. 16-18

Four mini-essays.

 

NOTE: One paragraph on page 15 of this issue includes erroneous (reversed) pounds-to-dollars calculations. Those have been fixed and the issue has been replaced. The net change: JISC did *not* apparently strike a much harder bargain with Elsevier; the UK prices are higher except at the low end, where they’re about the same.

More on the damage done

Posted in Libraries on August 19th, 2014

I’d like to call your attention to Wayne Bivens-Tatum’s latest “Peer to Peer Review” at Library Journal.

Go read it. Follow his advice.

You may also find it worthwhile to add to my LTR report–which is readily available for direct purchase–by looking at some other academic library patterns in Beyond the Damage: Circulation, Coverage and Staffing.

(I’d missed the “bilge” comment on WBT’s column on my 2013 book. But I do consider the source. Maybe it’s a form of praise…although I guess that source now has to condemn ALA for publishing further bilge!)

 

Clarifications

Posted in Cites & Insights on August 14th, 2014

Body of post deleted on the grounds of pointless semi-blind item and why bother?

Another meaningless musical post

Posted in Media on August 9th, 2014

Not sure why this stuck with me, but it did: a remarkable six-word lyric, to wit:

My heart cries out in desperation

which immediately precedes the chorus for the song (Ronnie Milsap, “Don’t Take It Tonight” if you’re too young to know it).

As far as I can tell, Milsap originated the phrase; Bing and Google show up other uses (mostly religion-related), but I’m guessing those authors copped it from Milsap, quite possibly without even realizing it.

In the original it is part of a love song–naturally, a lost love song.

Which brings me to the companion item: a remarkable little disquisition on happiness and love songs. This time the author is Harry Nilsson and it’s a bit long to quote without possibly being a copyright violation. So, instead, I’ll point you to the YouTube video:

I think the song’s hilarious in general (if you don’t know Nilsson, this is not, shall we say, his usual singing voice or accent). But the disquisition in particular comes as the spoken interlude in an otherwise-sung song, beginning right around 1:27 and running to 2:16.

For some of us, “…if everyone was happy…” is enough to trigger the whole sequence.

Have a nice weekend. (If you’re wondering, still happily married after 36.5 years. Tom Paxton wrote great lost-love/losing-love songs that didn’t refer to him either.)

Natureally, I’m delighted

Posted in Cites & Insights, open access on August 6th, 2014

My name appeared in a Nature news article today (August 6, 2014). Specifically:

The DOAJ, which receives around 600,000 page views a month, according to Bjørnshauge, is already supposed to be filtered for quality. But a study by Walt Crawford, a retired library systems analyst in Livermore, California, last month (see go.nature.com/z524co) found that the DOAJ currently includes some 900 titles that are mentioned in a blacklist of 9,200 potential predatory journals compiled by librarian Jeffrey Beall at the University of Colorado Denver (see Nature 495, 433–435; 2013).

and, later in the piece:

Bjørnshauge says that a small cohort of some 30 voluntary associate editors — mainly librarians and PhD students — will check the information submitted in reapplications with the publishers, and there will be a second layer of checks from managing editors. He also finds it “extremely questionable to run blacklists of open-access publishers”, as Beall has done. (Crawford’s study found that Beall’s apparently voluminous list includes many journals that are empty, dormant or publish fewer than 20 articles each year, suggesting that the problem is not as bad as Beall says.)

Naturally (or Natureally), I’m delighted to have my name show up, and a C&I issue linked to, in Nature. (It didn’t come as a complete surprise: the journalist sent me email asking about my affiliation–none–and, later, where I live.)

I’m not quite as delighted with the slant of that first paragraph (quite apart from the fact that Beall’s lists do not list some 9,200 “potential predatory journals,” they include publishers that publish or “publish” that number of journal names). Namely, I think the story is not that 900 “potentially predatory” journals appear in DOAJ with the loose listing criteria that site formerly used. I think the story is that more than 90% of the journals in DOAJ are not reflected in Beall’s list, given his seeming zeal to target OA journals.

But, of course, it’s the journalist’s story, not mine, and I do not feel I was quoted incorrectly or unfairly. (Incidentally, I don’t  have nits to pick with the second paragraph.)

I agree with Bjørnshauge that a blacklist is itself questionable.

Do I believe the much improved DOAJ will constitute a real whitelist? I’m not sure; I think it will be a great starting point. If a journal’s in the new DOAJ, and especially has the DOAJplus listing, it’s fair to assume that it’s probably a reasonably good place to be. (But then, I’m no more an expert in what journals are Good or Bad than Beall is.)

Anyway: thanks, Richard Van Noorden, for mentioning me. I hope the mention leads more people to read more about questionable journals than just Beall’s list. I strongly believe that the vast majority of Gold OA journals are as reputable as the vast majority of subscription journals, and I believe I’ve demonstrated that there aren’t any 9,200 “predatory” journals out there that are actual journals researchers with actual brains and a modicum of common sense would ever submit articles to.

A few readers may know that I’ve embarked on a related but even more ambitious (or idiotic) project, having to do with volume of articles and adding a new and very different control group. Dunno when (if?) I’ll finish the huge amount of desk work involved and produce some results. I do believe that, among other things, the results may shed some light on the apparent controversy over how prevalent APCs are among Gold OA journals… (And, incidentally, more financial support for C&I wouldn’t hurt this process.)

 

See chapter 1 free; save 15% on Cites & Insights Books

Posted in Cites & Insights on July 17th, 2014

Just a quick note on two semi-related issues:

Big-Deal Serial Purchasing: Tracking the Damage

If your academic library doesn’t already get Library Technology Reports–or even if it does–you might want to look at Chapter 1 of this report, the overview, which will provide a sense of the overall picture. To a great extent, the damage is in the details (covered in the other chapters), since a few very large academic libraries with strong budgetary support make the overall figures look better less bad than they otherwise would.

You can view Chapter 1 for free here. You can also purchase other chapters in e-form at that location.

(A reminder: I strongly believe that every academic library and academic librarian in the U.S. should be aware of this report, but not for personal gain–as with all Library Technology Reports, the writer–me, in this case–receives a single payment, so additional royalties don’t enter into it. I’m not complaining, and I’m delighted that LTR and editor Patrick Hogan saw fit to publish this.)

Beyond the Damage: Circulation, Coverage and Staffing–15% off the print version through 7/21/14

I’d like to think that dozens or hundreds of academic libraries/librarians will also find this book useful; it examines changes in the state of academic library circulation (no, it isn’t “down everywhere” or close to it), book coverage, and both professional and overall staffing relative to student population during the 2002-2012 period, using the same divisions of libraries as in the LTR report.

From now through July 21, 2014, you can save 15% on the print version by using the coupon code

DOGDAYS14

at checkout. The coupon code applies to all print books (technically, that’s not true, but it includes all the Cites & Insights print books–there’s a new economy category akin to mass-market paperbacks that isn’t included) in a single order, so it’s also a great time to buy Your Library Is... or one or more of the C&I Annuals.

Cites & Insights 14:8 (August 2014) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on July 15th, 2014

Cites & Insights 14:8 (August 2014) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i8.pdf

The two-column print-oriented issue is 32 pages long. A single-column 6×9″ version designed for online/tablet reading is also available, at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i8on.pdf   (The single-column version is 61 pages long.)

This issue includes the following:

The Front: Once More with [Big] Dealing   pp. 1-2

If you read the June 2014 issue, you may be aware that “Big-Deal Serial Purchasing: Tracking the Damage” wasn’t available when I thought it would be.

It’s available now; this brief essay offers the link to the ALA Store page for the Library Technology Reports issue and notes the complementary book for those academic librarians with deeper interests.

I believe every academic library should pay attention to this issue of LTR. If your library subscribes, it should be available now (electronically) or in a few days (in print form). If it doesn’t, you should buy the issue as a separate. Some of you really would find Beyond the Damage: Circulation, Coverage and Staffing useful as well.

Words: Doing It Yourself  pp. 2-18

Notes on self-publishing and whether or not it makes sense for you (or for your library to assist with).

Intersections: Access and Ethics 3  pp. 18-32

A range of commentaries having to do with open access and ethics over the past 18 months or so–and a couple of brief followups on previous essays. (You may notice that one Very Large Journal Publisher doesn’t show up much in this essay. Its time will come.)

What’s not here: the list of C&I supporters and sponsors. I’ll add the three names (yes, three) in a later issue.

The Final Economist

Posted in Media on July 10th, 2014

It arrived on Monday–two days later than the cover date, but that happens sometimes.

It’s sitting in the special throne room plexiglass stand used to hold magazines being read in the throne room.

For the last year, it’s been the only magazine there–because it takes more than a week of throne room visits to get through an issue.

I never actually paid for The Economist; it was a Magazines-for-Miles deal using airline miles from one of several airlines I never plan to use again. Even at the absurd $0.02/mile exchange rate (which most people now think grossly exaggerates the worth of airline miles), the “price” was nowhere near $160, the one-year subscription price; I think it was around $60.

I’m one of those readers: I read most magazines cover to cover, and we subscribe to a lot of magazines. (Including ones that come with various other arrangements–e.g., VIA, On Investing, AARP The Magazine, Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife, and now the new ACLU magazine–it’s something over two dozen.)

So next week I’ll go back to having a mix of magazines in the throne room stand–Fast Company (well suited to the location), some of the infrequent “comes because you do something” magazines, maybe Fortune if I’m ahead on other things.

I decided not to renew some months ago–quite apart from the $160/year, which is more than we spend on any four magazines, much less one.

A few of the reasons why:

What I Won’t Miss

The strained British/slang/invented language the “newspaper” uses.

The feeling that the only difference between “leaders” (editorials) and other articles is that the leaders are explicitly slanted.

The constant slagging of the U.S. and especially Obama.

Added 7/11: I especially won’t miss the frequent admonitions for the U.S. to get into another shooting war.

The special definition of “liberal” used when business or markets are involved.

The sheer volume of it all.

What I Will Miss A Little

Being better informed (to the extent that you can filter out the slant) about a range of nations and economic issues.

Some of the special sections.

I might say “The World in 2014″–but I never received that special issue, and by the time I realized I should have received it, it was far too late.

What I Will Miss The Most

I’ll miss this enough that I’ll probably start extending my library visits so I can catch up with recent issues (I’m assuming they keep at least four back; if not, I’ll have to start going more often).

The final page, especially when there’s no obvious candidate for the obituary of the week.

I find the final page superb. I plan to keep reading it.

[By the way, in case any silly person thinks the only reason I'm dropping The Economist is the price and thinking of giving it to me: Please don't. Contribute a third of the cost, or a little less, say $50, to Cites & Insights.]

In some ways, I’ve liked having a weekly magazine. Time is such a shadow of its former self that I’d find it sad to take (I read it for years, back when there was some substance to it). I might look at The Week or, less probably, Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Most likely, I’ll get used to not having a weekly–after all, I do still read the daily, even if via Kindle Fire 8.9.


This blog is protected by dr Dave\\\\\\\'s Spam Karma 2: 104075 Spams eaten and counting...