Archive for the ‘Cites & Insights’ Category

One sale gone, another started: 25%

Friday, November 20th, 2015

When you go to buy my books, always check the Lulu home page for discounts. Just a reminder…

I’m guessing there will be a series of brief sales for a while, but can’t be sure. In the meantime:

SHOP25 as a coupon code gets you 25% off print books (and calendars, if you’re so inclined) from now through November 23, 2015.

Coupon codes are case sensitive.

Another reminder: you’re not decreasing my net revenue (counted toward future research) by using these sale codes–I get the same net revenue.

For various reasons, I took a look yesterday at all-time Lulu sales (it takes me one minute to generate that spreadsheet and not much longer to go through it). I noticed something that, because it’s at such a low level, had slipped my attention.

To wit: yes, occasionally somebody does buy a Cites & Insights Annual edition. Excluding my own copies, there have been sixteen such sales over the years, with the most being 2007 (4 copies) and 2008 (3 copies); the only one with no outside sales to date is the latest, 2015. Since I produce these so I’ll have my own copy (if I include cost of paper and inkjet ink, it’s actually cheaper for me to buy one at my author’s price than it is to print out a new copy of each issue and have Fedex Kinko’s bind it in an ugly Velobind binding–and the result is both more handsome and more usable), this is a nice extra. Of course, it’s also a great way to have past issues on hand…

Five thousand pages!

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

I maintain a little spreadsheet to track word and page counts for Cites & Insights [with the slightly-out-of-date name “first10 length”]. I print it out every month ortwo but I don’t look at it very often.

And I missed a milestone of sorts: through the December 2015 issue (not including phantom issues that are only in the annual paperbacks), C&I has passed the 5,000-page mark: in all, 5,002 pages. (If you’re wondering, the longest volume was volume 9, 2009, with 418 pages; the shortest were volume 1 [252 pages including the preview issue], volume 2 [262 pages], and volume 11 [274 pages: the year C&I almost shut down for good].

Word count’s not at a milestone; it should hit four million words in two to four months.

No deeper meaning; just marking a wordy milestone. It’s a handsome set of paperbacks on one of my bookshelves–although the first five volumes are sort of ugly, being Velobound things produced at Kinko’s. In case you weren’t aware, volumes 6 through 15 are all available, $45 each [with occasional Lulu discounts: check the front page], with roughly half the proceeds going to continue C&I and my OA research. Oh, and on most of them you get a huge photo from our travels–all of them have such photos, but in all but two the photo’s a wraparound, 11″ high and close to 18″ wide. More information here.

Cites & Insights Annual, Two-Day Sale and a Non-Update

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

I have it down to do another teaser post to help convince folks that there’s loads of great stuff in The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014, either paperback or site-licensed PDF ebook–but given that there’s only been one copy sold in November to date, and indeed only one since October 22, maybe that’s a waste of my energy.

That’s the non-update: the total continues to be nine paperback copies and two PDF ebooks, with five copies showing up in Special arrangements (grants, donations, consulting, etc.) unchanged.

Meanwhile: if you do want the paperback–or any or all of my other self-published books–you can buy them today and tomorrow (November 19, 2015) for 20% off using the coupon code PRESALE20

[Any time you do buy stuff at Lulu, check the home page: it should show current offers.]

And then there’s the Cites & Insights Annual edition for 2015; I’ve now received my copy (and modified the cover, since the title was a little too far down the page).

Here’s the skinny:

Volume 15 is 354 pages long (including table of contents and indices) and, as usual, $45 (or $36 today and tomorrow).

Highlights of this 11-issue volume include:

  • Three full-issue essays related to Open Access: Economics, The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014, and Ethics
  • A fair use trilogy: Google Books, HathiTrust and miscellaneous topics
  • More pieces of the OA puzzle, mostly leading up to The Gold OA Landscape
  • The usual: Deathwatch, Ebooks & Pbooks; a eulogy to FriendFeed and some notes on Twitter; and more

And the indices that aren’t otherwise available.
The photo: the library at Ephesus–a familiar view if you own Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples but this is a slightly different photo and a considerably larger view

Oops: while Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples used a different picture of The Library At Ephesus, The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010 used the same picture–but much larger, with a little more touchup, and using’s auto-equalization, which yielded a slightly different color range.

Cites & Insights 15:11 (December 2015) available

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

The December 2015 issue of Cites & Insights (15:11) is now available for downloading at

This issue is 58 pages long. If you plan to read it online or on an ereader (ebook, tablet, whatever), you may prefer the single-column 6″ x 9″ edition, 111 pages long, at

This issue contains one essay:

Intersections: Ethics and Access 2015  pp. 1-58

No weird old tricks for reducing belly fat, but 102 items worth reading in a baker’s dozen of subtopics related to ethics and access (open and otherwise)–and #25 may astonish you! Or not.

No, it’s really not a listicle–otherwise I’d have to find 102 ads and free (or plagiarized) illustrations. It’s a bigger-than-usual roundup, with just a little humor (and a few exclamation points–and one interrobang).


Gold OA: The basis for going on (1 of 2)

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

At this point–seven weeks after The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014 was published–it seems like a good time to discuss the issues surrounding possible continuation of this full-survey research for another year (that is, covering 2015, done in 2016).

Part 2 will deal with finances: what it would take to make it happen.

This part deals with a related question: Since I’m not depending on this revenue to keep meals on the table or a roof over our heads, why do I need any revenue for it at all?

[No, nobody’s said that quite so flatly. Still: every time somebody says “there’s something wrong with charging for a writeup about open access or the research it took to do that writeup, because OA’s supposed to be free,” or something of the sort–which has happened every time I or ALA (or MIT) has published something on OA that carries a price–once I calm down, I turn it into the question above.]

Turns out, this is a philosophical question of sorts: Namely, what motivates me to do anything (other than lie around the house, do some housework, read books, watch TV, go for walks and like that)?

That question’s been clarified in my own mind over the years since it’s become clear that Cites & Insights itself is unlikely to attract significant contributions (the total has never reached the high three figures in a year, much less four figures). Here’s how I’ve worked it out in my own head, although I’m sure it’s an incomplete model.

I see four factors: Fun, Interest, Worth/Usefulness/Effectiveness, and Appreciation. Two are internal, two external.


I do some essays in Cites & Insights because they’re fun or amusing to me. Certainly true of The Back, The Middle, most Media essays (esp. old movies). That’s part of why I started looking at liblogging, library blogging and library slogans (and, for that matter, library use of social media): it was fun.

“Fun” and “interesting” can overlap in slightly unpredictable ways. It was, initially, fun to unveil the realities behind Beall’s lists, and in some ways it’s been fun to see how well Chrome/Google does or does not translate non-English journal websites (and to appreciate some of the blank verse generated by some translations).


I have lots of interests, and I’ll pursue an interest to what might possibly be considered extremes–I’m a completist in some areas. It has certainly been interesting to examine the Gold OA landscape in detail, and once I got well into it I realized that I wanted to see it through.

Interest certainly explains some ongoing features in Cites & Insights. I don’t find copyright discussions particularly amusing, but they’re interesting, just as one example.

But I have lots of interests, and could readily cultivate more. And time eventually does become a limiting factor. At this point, I don’t expect to live for more than 30 years or so–possibly quite a bit less, probably not much more. (For a long time, I’d pegged 93 as my desirable stopping point; I’ve moved that to 98–which gives me 28 more years–as long as I’m im good mental and reasonable physical health. I have no desire to live to 103 or 108 or some extreme old age–but ask me again 20 years from now, I suppose.) There are a lot of books I’d like to read and quite a few I wouldn’t mind rereading; there are a lot of movies I want to watch; I read and enjoy quite a few magazines (and one daily “paper”); there’s a fair amount of TV I enjoy watching (although probably very little by most people’s standards); lots of music to pay attention to; and… and… and…

So at a certain point I have to balance competing interests, especially since time is finite and some significant portion of it is taken up with household maintenance, family life, sleep (yes, I get 7.5 to 8 hours a day; no, I’m not willing to reduce that much), vacations, exercise and long walks/hikes, etc…

Balance isn’t much of an issue when I’m choosing a book that may take 4-5 hours to read or an essay that may take 5-10 hours to write. It’s a lot more of an issue when I’m contemplating a project that would probably take 500 to 600 hours over the course of six or seven months.

Which is to say: I find the ongoing story of gold OA interesting. Do I find it interesting enough to give up 500-600 hours per year of other stuff? Which brings us to:


When something’s fun and not too time-consuming, this and the final factor don’t come into play.

When it’s a question of balance and which projects are worth starting or continuing, this and the final factor definitely do come into play.

To wit: what is this worth (and how useful is it) to me and other people?

(Yes, this and the final factor overlap a lot. That’s how life is.)

I look at readership, citations, and things like that as indications of worth and usefulness. If an issue of C&I is only read 200 times over the course of three months, it apparently wasn’t found to be worthwhile or useful; if it’s read 2,000 times over three months, it apparently was worthwhile or useful.

Of course, worth can also have a financial aspect, which gets more into appreciation: do people find something sufficiently useful or worthwhile to pay for it?

I recognized that my series of books on liblogging had ceased to be worthwhile/useful about a year too late, when sales declined to pretty much nothing and readership for related C&I issues declined substantially. But I did eventually recognize it and stopped doing the series. (A ten-year recap might or might not happen; if it does, it will be at a “this might be fun/interesting” level, not a “people might be willing to buy this” level–there wouldn’t be a book.)

There have been other themes in Cites & Insights that have disappeared because it appeared that people didn’t find them useful or worthwhile. Indeed, I stopped doing individual HTML essays because there didn’t seem to be much demand for them (and it was clear nobody found them worthwhile enough to pay for) and they were never interesting or fun to do–while the single-column version of C&I has proven to be useful enough to keep doing.

As to effectiveness: that’s so hard to measure that I generally ignore it–but I do have to mention it within this discussion.

So how does the OA research fall on the interesting/worthwhile axis?

Journal Readership

Looking at OA-related issues of Cites & Insights over the past two years, including research-based ones and others, I find the following download numbers through this morning at 5:30 a.m. (but missing most of the last day of each month):

  • April 2014 (“The Sad Case of Jeffrey Beall”): 10,576, one of the highest total downloads figures ever — but in terms of effectiveness, I look at how often the lists continue to be used as the basis for policy or, sigh, “research,” and have to wonder whether there’s been any real effect at all.
  • May 2014 (“The So-Called Sting”): 4,126 downloads, a high figure.
  • July 2014 (“Journals, ‘Journals’ and Wannabes”): 5,121–a high figure, and since this was a full-issue essay, I can reasonably assume that the readership was entirely related to this essay.
  • August 2014 (“Access and Ethics 3”): 1,643, a decent-but-not-great figure.
  • October/November 2014 (“Journals and ‘Journals’: Taking a Deeper Look”): 1,704, another decent-but-not-great figure.
  • December 2014 (…Part 2): 1,669, another decent-but-not-great figure.
  • January 2015 (“The Third Half”): 2,783, a good solid figure, especially since it represents less than a year.
  • March 2015 (“One More Chunk of DOAJ”): 2,281, a good solid figure, but in this case the essay taking up most of the issue–“Books, E and P, 2014”–probably accounts for much of that, since that’s always been a hot topic.
  • April 2015 (“The Economics of Open Access”): 2,476, a good solid figure–and this one’s a single-essay issue.
  • June 2015 (“Who Needs Open Access Anyway?”): 1,595, a decent figure for five months.
  • July 2015 (“Thinking About Libraries and Access, Take 2”): 839 downloads–and this one’s a little disappointing because that essay was my own take on/beliefs about OA. This suggests that people are a lot less interested in what I think than in what I’ve found out through research. That’s OK, of course…but…
  • October 2015 (“The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014”): 2,169 downloads in the first seven weeks or so, which I regard as very good numbers, especially for the first couple of months.



This shows up in citations elsewhere, tweets and the like, but also in donations and sales (and, heck, speaking invitations–one of the coins of the realm, but there haven’t been any in a couple of years–certainly none related to this research).

When it comes to citations, I don’t have any real complaints; ditto tweets.

As far as donations: still in the low three digits, and that was mostly when I was offering a free ebook and production-priced paperback. None since the project was completed (other than two very small recurring donations that are for C&I, not OA research.)

As for sales…

Book Purchases

For the same period–the books appeared a couple of days before the October 2015 issue did–here’s what I show, not including my own copy: Seven paperback copies, one site-licensed PDF ebook. Total: Eight copies.

In other words, not even one-half of one percent of those who’ve downloaded the October 2015 issue have, so far, found the research sufficiently worthwhile to buy the full story.

Of course, there could be dozens, nay, hundreds of orders just waiting to go to Amazon or Ingram.

So where does this leave me? Wondering whether the effectiveness and demonstrated worth is enough to justify doing it again.

(If you’re wondering, I’d say total revenue counted toward this project–including all donations and all self-published book sales of any sort since September 1, 2015–is more than one-third of the way, but considerably less than halfway, toward being enough to make the anonymized spreadsheet available on figshare. It’s a bit more than one-fifth of the way toward making me think seriously about doing it again.)

Which brings us to Part 2, later today or maybe another day.



The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014: a brief note on numbers

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

oa14c300Here’s the tl;dr version: Go buy The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014, either the $60 paperback or the $55 site-licensed PDF ebook (the contents are identical other than the copyright page/ISBN). I try to be wholly transparent about my investigations, and I’m confident that TGOAL represents the most accurate available count for serious gold OA publishing (excluding non-DOAJ members, “hybrids” and other stuff). Oh, and if enough copies are sold, I’ll keep doing this research…which I don’t think anybody else is going to do and which, as far as I can tell, can’t really be automated.

Running the Numbers

Now that I’ve said that, I won’t repeat the sales pitch. You presumably already know that you can get a hefty sampling of the story in Cites & Insights 15:9–but the full story is much more complete and much more interesting.

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten involved or failed to get involved in a number of discussions about numbers attached to OA.

On September 30, I posted “How many articles, how many journals?,” raising questions about statistics published in MDPI’s Sciforum asserting the number of OA journals and articles–numbers much lower than the ones I’ve derived by actual counting. I received email today regarding the issues I raised:

Thank you for passing this on. I think it’s quite difficult to pin down exactly how many papers are published, never mind adding in vagueries about the definition of ‘predatory’ or ‘questionable’ publishers. The data on Sciforum are taken from Crossref and, on, shows about 300,000 OA articles published in 2014. The difference may depend on correct deposition (including late or not at all), article types or publishers just not registered with Crossref. I think ball-park figures are about the closest we can get as things stand.

Well…yes and no. I think it’s highly likely that many smaller OA journals aren’t Crossref members or likely to become Crossref members: for little journals done out of a department’s back pocket, even $275/year plus $1/article is a not insignificant sum.

What bothers me here is not that the numbers are different, but that there seems to be no admission that a full manual survey is likely to produce more accurate numbers, not just a different “ball-park figure.” And that “pinning down” accurate numbers is aided by, you know, actually counting them. The Sciforum numbers are based on automated techniques: that’s presumably easy and fast, but that doesn’t make it likely to be right.

Then there’s the Shen/Björk article…which, as I might have expected, has been publicized all over the place, always with the twin effects of (a) making OA look bad and (b) providing further credibility to the one-man OA wrecking crew who shall go nameless here. The Retraction Watch article seems to be the only place there’s been much discussion of what may be wrong with the original article. Unfortunately, here is apparently the totality of what Björk chooses to say about mine and other criticisms:

“Our research has been carefully done using standard scientific techniques and has been peer reviewed by three substance editors and a statistical editor. We have no wish to engage in a possibly heated discussion within the OA community, particularly around the controversial subject of Beall’s list. Others are free to comment on our article and publish alternative results, we have explained our methods and reasoning quite carefully in the article itself and leave it there.”

Whew. No willingness to admit that their small sample could easily have resulted in estimates that are nearly three times too high. No willingness to admit that the author-nationality portion, based on fewer than 300 articles, is even more prone to sampling error. They used “standard scientific techniques” so the results must be accurate.

No, I’m not going around to all the places that have touted the Shen/Björk article to add comments. Not only is life too short, I don’t believe it will do much good.

The best I can do is transparent research with less statistical inference and more reliance on dealing with heterogeneity by full-scale testing, and hope that it will be useful. A hope that’s sometimes hard to keep going.

Meanwhile: I continue to believe that a whitelist approach–DOAJ‘s tougher standards–is far superior to a blacklist approach, especially given the historical record of blacklists.



Cites & Insights 15:10 (November 2015) available

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Cites & Insights 15:10 (November 2015) is now available for downloading at

This print-oriented two-column version is 38 pages long. If you plan to read the issue on a tablet or computer, you may prefer the 6″x9″ single column version, 74 pages long, which is available at

Unlike the book-excerpt October 2015 issue, there’s no advantage to the single-column version (other than its being single-column), and copyfitting has only been done on the two-column version. (As has been true for a couple of months, both versions do include links, bookmarks and visible bolding.)

This issue includes the following essays, stepping away from open access for a bit:

The Front: A Fair Use Trilogy   p. 1

A few notes about the rest of the issue–and a status report on The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014.

Policy: Google Books: The Neverending Story?  pp. 1-18

Three years of updates on the seemingly endless Google Books story, which has now become almost entirely about fair use.

Policy: Catching Up on Fair Use  pp. 18-24

A handful of items regarding fair use that don’t hinge on Google Books or HathiTrust.

Intersections: Tracking the Elephant: Notes on HathiTrust  pp. 24-38

Pretty much what the title says, and again the main thrust appears to be fair use. (The elephant? Read the essay, including a little bit of Unicode.)


pubs_since_1994.htm finally up

Monday, September 28th, 2015

For the thousands (well, hundreds (well, tens (well…anybody?))) of avid readers of Cites & Insights August-September 2015 who, wondering about the quotes in “A Few Words, Part 2,” clicked through to find the bibliography…

It’s (finally) there, such as it is:

My apologies for the slight delay in getting it ready. The fact that I’ve seen zero instances of anybody looking at the first part of the bibliography may have influenced the priority with which this part was prepared…

(But hey, there are lots of 404s on, as usual: I could convince myself that those were all folks looking for the second part of the bibliography. I could convince myself that I look like a slightly older George Clooney, too, but it would be equally absurd.)



The Gold OA Landscape and Cites & Insights 15:9 – Update 1

Friday, September 18th, 2015

The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014 appeared September 10, 2015 in PDF ebook form and September 11, 2015 in paperback form. Cites & Insights 15:9 (October 2015), which is an excerpted version of the book, appeared September 12, 2015. (The link here is to the single-column version, for good reason.)

So it’s basically been a week since the most comprehensive study of serious Gold OA (as evidenced by listing in the Directory of Open Access Journals) was made available. I thought a status update might be in order–especially since the availability of anonymized data for this project, and continuation of this research for 2015 (done in 2016), depend so heavily on the takeup of this report.

The Issue

As of 5:09 a.m. this morning (September 18, 2011), Cites & Insights 15:9 has been downloaded 956 times; it may very well have reached the thousand mark by now. That’s a gratifying number: it means lots of people are interested. It’s also gratifying that people are apparently paying attention: more than 90% of those downloads are of the more-readable 6×9″ single-column version.

(“More readable” in this special case because tables that use all of a 6×9″ book text body are involved–although the single-column version is generally more readable if you’re reading online. Normally, I prefer and push the two-column print-oriented version, the one I actually try to make look good. This is by no means a normal issue.)

If one out of every ten people who download this issue find it worthwhile enough to contribute $10 to Cites & Insights (link on the home page), we’d already be two-thirds of the way to assuring full availability of the anonymized dataset and one-third of the way toward continuing this research next year. But that’s like saying “if all refereed articles were published in OA using the apparent efficiencies of SciELO, it would cost less than $250 million a year for the world’s entire output, saving close to $10 billion for other purposes”–it may be true, but it makes some wildly improbable assumptions.

The Book

As this is written (9:15 a.m. on September 18, 2015), people or institutions other than me have purchased two copies of the book–one each paperback and PDF. That’s a start–and about one-sixteenth of the “dataset availability” goal or one-26th of the “continued research” goal.

I’d love to announce more general availability of the paperback, but Lulu’s requirements are that I have to not only order but “approve” a copy of the book first. I haven’t received the book yet, so can’t do that yet…and it can be up to eight more weeks after that before the book shows up on Amazon or Ingram. So, well, it’s gonna be a while. (Meanwhile, to be sure, each copy purchased through non-Lulu sources would only count one-third as much for my goals.)

The Goals

Basically, both acknowledgment of the work (and the 956 downloads help a lot there!) and some modest revenue from book purchases, C&I contributions, or some direct form of funding.

I’ll probably do more posts, now and then, pointing out interesting things in the data. I’ll do more status updates when/if there are significant changes.

Cites & Insights 15:9 (October 2015) out

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

The October 2015 Cites & Insights (15:9) is now available for downloading at

The issue is 36 pages long–but you may find the 73-page single-column version at easier to read, and it’s slightly more complete. (I had to delete columns from some tables to get them to fit into the narrower column without reducing type to 6 or 7 points, which I regarded as unreadably small.)

The issue consists of one essay:

Intersections: The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014   pp. 1-36

This is an excerpted version of the book of the same name, including roughly half the text, none of the dozens of graphs, and about one-third of the overall content (at least by pagination).

It provides all the overall numbers for this first comprehensive study of serious gold OA publishing (where I define “serious” as “included in the Directory of Open Access Journals“), and a few examples of what’s in the subject coverage–but it omits most subject details and a number of secondary aspects of the overall coverage.

It should give you a good picture of where things stand with gold open access throughout the world, not just in English-speaking (or English-publishing) countries. While some of you (and your libraries) should and will find the book worth purchasing (I hope), this report should be enough for many of you.

The only added material is a brief introductory note with links to the book site.