Visual discrimination test

Posted in Language, Stuff on February 9th, 2015

At least one of the three numbered terms below is the name of a physics subject repository. At least one is not.
arxiv
Can you tell which is which?

Comments open for a few days.

(A note: the terms appear as a screen capture from Word…because WordPress’ visual editor literally will not let me retain the proper glyph; it autotranslates it to X, no matter how I enter it. Cute.)

Open Access Journals: New Grade Summary

Posted in open access on February 4th, 2015

As noted in the current Cites & Insights, I’ve moved 580 DOAJ journals from Grade B to Grade A$ because the only reason to regard them as possibly requiring investigation is that they have APCs of $1,000 or more. That’s something to be aware of, and the justifications for high APCs still need discussion, but if an author has the money and finds the APC reasonable, there’s nothing else about these journals to raise concerns.

The Library Technology Reports issue this summer will reflect that change, but none of the existing C&I coverage does.

Here’s a table (that probably won’t appear in this form in the report) that shows the number of journals and 2013 articles in each grade, as revised.

Grade Desc. Journals %J Articles %A
A Apparently good

3,976

54.5%

177,077

48.4%

A$ Apparently good with high APC

580

7.9%

113,574

31.0%

B May need investigation

567

7.8%

40,273

11.0%

C Highly questionable

294

4.0%

25,284

6.9%

DC Ceased

263

3.6%

1,362

0.4%

DD Dying

93

1.3%

533

0.1%

DE Erratic

182

2.5%

1,554

0.4%

DH Hiatus?

145

2.0%

5,006

1.4%

DN New?

16

0.2%

98

0.0%

DS Small

374

5.1%

1,449

0.4%

E Empty

18

0.2%

EC Empty/cancelled

53

0.7%

N Not OA

165

2.3%

O Opaque

189

2.6%

X Unreachable or unworkable

386

5.3%

Total

7,301

366,210

If you draw the conclusion from this table that journals with high APCs publish a lot of articles, you wouldn’t be wrong.

Cites & Insights 15:3 (March 2015) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on February 3rd, 2015

Cites & Insights 15:3 (March 2015) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ15i3.pdf

The issue is 24 pages long.

If you plan to view it online or need working hyperlinks (at the expense of boldface working–someday, I’ll have a new computer and new version of Word’s PDF conversion and Acrobat), the single-column 6×9″ version, 46 pages long, is available at http://citesandinsights.info/civ15i3on.pdf

This issue includes the following:

Intersections: One More Chunk of DOAJ    pp. 1-10

Because there will be a published concise version of all this stuff–out this summer from ALA’s Library Technology Reports, working title “Idealism and Opportunism: The State of Open Access Journals”–I went through 2,200-odd additional DOAJ journals with English as one of the language options (but not the first one), and was able to add 1,507 more entries to my DOAJ master spreadsheet, which now includes 6,490 journals qualifying for full analysis and 811 that don’t. This essay offers some summary information on the 1,507 added journals and some overall notes on the full DOAJ set–including some new and replacement tables (there may be errors in tables 2.66 b and c and 2.67 b and c in earlier issues).

The essay also offers some details on “N” (not OA) journals, notes on very small journals, a few comments on opportunism, idealism and initiative–and the URLs for two spreadsheets offering anonymized versions of the DOAJ and Beall data. (Note that the DOAJ spreadsheet has just been changed to shift 580 “B” journals there because of $1,000-or-more APCs to a new “A$” subgrade, since the high APC was the only issue with them. The summary text in this issue has NOT been changed to reflect this refinement; the Library Technology Reports issue will reflect the change.)

The two spreadsheeets are on figshare and licensed with the Creative Commons “BY” license, making them available for any use as long as attribution is provided. Each spreadsheet includes a data key as a second page.

Words: Books, E and P,  2014    pp. 10-24

Bringing discussions of ebooks vs. (or and) pbooks up to date from the January 2014 essay. In most cases, “and” is now the prevailing attitude as ebook sales appear to have plateaued–although of course there are still those who say print books will die Because Digital and now, oddly, a few who say ebooks will die or are dead (which I regard as equally unlikely).

 

50 Movie Gunslinger Classics Disc 10

Posted in Movies and TV on January 29th, 2015

We’re back to b&w and the hour-long B-movie “programmers.” Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, to be sure.

The Lawless Frontier, 1934, b&w. Robert N. Bradbury (dir. & story), John Wayne, Sheila Terry, Jack Rockwell, George “Gabby” Hayes, Yakima Canutt, Earl Dwire. 0:59 [0:49]

The sleeve makes more of this plot than I think it deserves—but maybe that’s the missing ten minutes (out of an original 59 minutes!). What I got from the plot was horse riding, more horse riding, an occasional shot being fired, an idiot sheriff, even more horse riding, Gabby Hayes apparently can’t be killed with a knive in his back and bullet upside the head, more horse riding, really? a sheriff stupid enough to think that cuffing the outside of huge cowboy boots to a bed is somehow going to keep an outlaw trapped?, even more horse riding, and of course the woman in the cast winds up married to John Wayne, who’s the new and less stupid sheriff.

Even Yakima Canutt’s stunt riding’s not that great. Mostly for John Wayne completists. Charitably, $0.50.

Rim of the Canyon, 1949, b&w. John English (dir.), Gene Autry, Champion, Nan Leslie, Thurston Hall, Clem Bevans, Walter Sande, Alan Hale Jr. 1:10

This is more like it—even if there isn’t much real gunslinging (a fair amount of shooting, basically none of it precision or stunting). It’s a real movie with an actual plot, and long enough that it could be considered a feature rather than a programmer. Gene Autry—and this one’s late enough that it’s “A Gene Autry Production”—may not be the #1 singing cowboy and wonder-horse, but he’s a strong #2. And, of course, the character he almost always plays is named Gene Autry of the Flying A Ranch and his horse Champion.

The plot (yes, there is a plot): three prisoners have escaped, notably including one who staged a holdup netting $30,000 in silver (a lot of money at the time) and was caught and put away by Autrey’s father, the sheriff at the time. The escapee wants revenge, but also wants his $30,000, and the other two escapees are there to help out. Autrey just wants to win a stagecoach race as part of the town annual festivities (and with winning, a local hot number will go to the dance to follow), but a competitor has removed one wheel’s nut, so he craches; the competitor laughs at his request to take him back into town—and he limps (he twisted his ankle) two miles to a ghost town, formerly owned by the miner whose $30,000 was stolen. There, he meets up with the local teacher (female and a whole lot more interesting than the town floozie) who goes out there every couple of weeks and swears she’s heard the miner speak to her.

Meanwhile, the thugs have lost one horse and decided to steal Champion as a replacement—forcing him into a nasty-looking metal bit that he really, truly does not like.

That’s just the beginning. In the end, all is well (but no phony “and the hero marries the girl” ending), and along the way, it’s a solid picture. As usual, The Hero prefers fistfights to actual gunplay—and it’s Champion who deals the fatal blow to the chief villain. Along the way, we get to see Gene as his dad in a flashback. Only two songs, which is OK. Even though it’s 1:10, I’ll rate it as a B flick—whilch means $1 in this case.

Man from Music Mountain, 1938, b&w. Joe Kane (dir.), Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Carol Hughes, Sally Payne, Ivan Miller, Ed Cassidy. 1:00 [sleeve; 0:58 IMDB, 0.53 actual on the disc]

Perhaps a more typical Autry flick, with his cowhands all being singers and his sidekick being Smiley “Froggy” Burnette. Lots of songs, an interesting instrumental number with some surprising instruments, a couple of Burnette-written comedy songs—and enough plot to keep it moving. It’s an odd one, though: it starts with con men buying up an old ghost town and abandoned gold mine and selling lots (and shares) on the basis that the recent opening of Boulder Dam means electricity and water coming soon, and with hydraulic mining they can work the mine. It’s a con—and Autry, on his way back from a cattle run, spots it—but it takes in lots of people, including Froggy.

Where things get strange is that, between Autry’s counter-con (he salts the mine to con the con men into buying back the mining shares) and shootouts…well, he winds up making the con men’s case: The town winds up with electricity and a worthwhile mine. If he’d been in cahoots with the con men, he could scarcely have done a better job (but they probably wouldn’t have wound up arrested for killing one of his hands, a crime he doesn’t seem to take as any big deal). It’s missing five or minutes and possibly some plot development.

Do note that this is the 1938 Gene Autry flick, not the 1943 Roy Rogers flick with the same title prefaced with “The.” The sleeve description of the plot is just plain wrong—and the sleeve has the “The” from the 1943 flick. Anyway, it’s OK but nothing special. I’ll give it $0.75.

Public Cowboy #1, 1937, b&w. Joe Kane (dir.), Gene Autry, Smiley “Froggy” Burnette, Ann Rutherford, William Farnum, Arthur Loft, James C. Morton. 1:01 [0:53]

Another Gene Autry one-hour B-movie songfest with seven minutes missing—but this time, instead of being Gene Autry of the Flying “A” Ranch in some unstated location, he’s Gene Autry, a deputy sheriff in Grand Junction, Wyoming (ol’ Froggy’s the other deputy). And the aging sheriff and deputies have a real problem: a band of rustlers using airplanes and shortwave radio is ruining the local cattlemen. The rustlers have an interesting MO: the plane spots a herd on the move with relatively few cattlemen; they radio the main group telling them where to go; the main group—a truck full of horses, a couple of cars full of bad guys and a couple of big refrigerated trucks—kill off the horsemen, round up the herd into a makeshift corral, slaughter and skin them on the spot and load the carcasses into the trucks—adding the butcher’s signs later on.

There’s not much three guys with horses can do against this big high-tech gang, even if one of the horses is Champion. The townsfolk demand that the sheriff resign (egged on by the new editor of the local paper, that editor being—of course—young and pretty, since this is a singing cowboy movie). They bring in a hotshot detective agency to replace the sheriff and his deputies. There’s some entertainment (I find that I really don’t care for most of Autry’s written-for-the-movies songs, at least at this early stage, and the Burnette number is flat-out racist), and the deputies manage to spring a trap, showing up the modern detectives. It’s all a lot implausible, but not bad as B-movie entertainment. I’ll give it $0.75.

Suspension of disbelief and the Earth problem

Posted in Movies and TV on January 20th, 2015

Warning: This is a silly post. If you’re looking for significance, go elsewhere.

We’ve been watching Stargate: Atlantis (on DVD, from DVD Netflix–you know, the one that doesn’t have shows disappearing all the time because movie companies can’t tell it what it can and can’t circulate), roughly one episode a week, since we went through Stargate: SG-1 some time back.

On one episode we saw recently, we ran into a suspension problem: Namely, even given the grotesque level of suspension of disbelief needed to enjoy Atlantis, we found it difficult to believe this episode. (Hey, we enjoy Scorpion: we can suspend disbelief with the best of them.)

Here’s the situation:

The wormhole/scanning/whatever handwave required for Star Trek‘s transporter and, on a much more galactic scale, the Stargate is a classic handwave: you learn to accept it. (Einstein-Rosen? OK.) And one aspect you learn to accept is that it’s purely a transport mechanism: you can’t duplicate objects in the process because Science.

The episode in question involved a wraith Dart, the ships the wraiths use to harvest their victims by transporting them up to the ships and, later, draining the life force from them (because Evil). The Dart had crash landed or something, and the chief scientist could–of course–get it working again. And, under duress, the good guys were going to fly it up to a much bigger wraith ship and plant a bomb on the ship (and get somebody out or something–I’ve forgotten the extra bit).

But then, when you see the Dart, it’s tiny–with basically enough interior space for the pilot. Which raises the question: where do all those harvested folks go? Or, in this case, where will the other folks on this mission go while they’re rocketing off to the big wraith ship?

Turns out they’re stored as patterns in the Dart, until they’re regenerated later. Now, remember, this method is used to provide food for the wraiths (only human essences are nutritious for them).

And, at that point, I said “Bullshit.” Because, if you’re storing patterns, there is no way you can’t recreate multiple copies of those patterns. Which means there’s no way the wraith can’t simply generate as many cloned humans, thus food, as they want.

I know, I know: the whole transporter/stargate/beaming method is ludicrous anyway. But at least–with the possible exception of one or two Star Trek episodes I’ve half-forgotten–at least it’s consistently ludicrous. You can’t use the transporter/stargate to clean up illness or the like, you can’t make copies, it’s always A goes in and is destroyed, while A comes out somewhere else, just exactly the same, immediately. If A can be stored in some little box, well, bullshit.

My wife had exactly the same reaction. Sure, it’s a silly point–“how much nonsense is too much nonsense?”–but there it is.

The Earth Problem

This one applies to both Stargates. It stems from the assumption that every group Our Heroes encounter on every planet is human or closely related to humans and speaks English–because, you know, they all spring from ancient Egyptians who conquered the stars. And, of course, spoke English.

Given that, it strikes me that, whenever Our Heroes come out of a stargate or Chappa’ai and ask the locals what planet they’re on, they’re going to get the same answer: Earth.

Because, realistically, we all live on earth, thus Earth. If you asked true natives in any land area where they were, they would presumably respond with some language’s version of “here” or “where we live” or “Ourland.” And, presumably, on alien planets the planet would be called by that language’s equivalent of “here”–that is, Earth.

Which could get confusing. Fortunately, Our Heroes rarely ask that question, and they refer to planets as a set of coordinates or magic numbers for dialing the Chappa’ai.

I know, I know: it’s TVSciFantasy. Don’t expect much. Certainly don’t expect the fairly rigorous internal consistency of, say, Buffy. It’s just good cheap fun. Which is OK by us. (Yes, someday I’ll rent one disc from season 1 of ST:TOS, on Blu-ray, just to see just how cheesy those sets and SFX actually look in high-def on a big screen. One episode should do the job.)

Really clever folks will have figured out what this post is. I just finished–sort of–the first draft of one major project. I’m not quite ready to start the next essay/project. This is what you call procrastination.

Mystery Collection Disc 43

Posted in Movies and TV on January 14th, 2015

Bail Out (orig. W.B., Blue and the Bean), 1989, color, “video,” Max Kleven (dir. & writer), David Hasselhoff (star and producer), Linda Blair, Tony Brubaker, Thomas Rosales Jr., John Vernon, Gregory Scott Cummins, Wayne Montario. 1:27.

We start with a thoroughly misanthropic bail bondsman, who drives his classic car to his mistress’s (I guess), has a quickie, then drives to work in a serious beater. Shortly we’re introduced to the three guys he relies on—for as little money as possible—to make sure bailed folks show up. One’s David Hasselhoff (W.B., which stands for Whitebread) back story unknown; one’s a former pro football player; one’s Hispanic with no apparent means of support. After seeing how clever they are individually, we see them in action together.

The person in question is a beautiful young heiress arrested because she was driving with her boyfriend in a car with 40 pounds of cocaine in the trunk. She says he was just some guy she met at a bar. She’s also supposedly disinherited. Anyway, the plot starts there, goes through several kidnappings, a number of drug lords, a demand for $5 million, the street price of the seized drugs, to her father (whose companies were pretty clearly being used to transport and store the cocaine), lots of shootings, and…well, it’s silly to try to keep up with the action. Let’s just say they—very definitely “they” (the trio and the young woman) conspire to get a better payday than the bail bondsman had in mind.

As a cable TV movie (my assumption: too cheaply done for a real movie, too much nudity—including the manager of a hot-sheet motel who greets renters in the altogether—for network TV: turns out I was wrong, it was a “direct to VHS” job), it’s—well, it’s Hasselhoff. It’s amusing (if you discount all the shootings, but they all seem to be bad guys, although in this case it’s hard to tell who the good guys would be). It is a long way from classic cinema. Oh, and it includes the assumption by various Hispanics that nobody in LA can understand Spanish. The quartet (the daughter and the three operatives) make an amusing group. What more can I say? Charitably, taking it as a so-bad-it’s-good action comedy, $1.25.

The Night They Took Miss Beautiful, 1977, color, TV movie. Robert Michael Lewis (dir.), Gary Collins, Chuck Connors, Henry Gibson, Victoria Principal, Gregory Sierra, Phil Silvers, Sheree North, Stella Stevens. 1:40 [1:37]

See, this is what happens when you take a three-month break from watching old movies. As I was thinking about doing this writeup, I thought “I could be really silly and suggest that this mediocre TV-movie was in the Mystery Collection, not some collection selling the presence of Name actors.” Ah, but here it is: in the Mystery Collection. (It was pretty clear it was a TV movie before going to IMDB.)

The biggest mystery is why the collection of mostly-TV stars you can see in the summary took part in this exercise in poor low-budget “drama.” I guess money is the answer.

The plot, such as it is. We start in the Miss Beautiful beauty pageant, where emcee Phil Silvers tells bad jokes, introduces the five semifinalists who will be flown via seaplane to the site of the final contest (huh?), and does the worst job of singing a bad beauty pageant closing song I’ve ever endured. Then we get the incredibly old prop-job seaplane, with two “cleaners” being left at the plane by ground personnel who take them at their word that they’ll walk back to the Miami tower. Then the contestants and emcee and a couple of other people—including one pilot who’s “dead-heading it” on a charter flight to pick up his next flight—are in the plane, it takes off, and the cleaners hijack it.

They’re a little but incredibly crazed group who just want $5 million and a ride to Nicaragua, and so far they’ve only killed one copilot. What they get, though, thanks to Feds who take over from the airport’s security, is an attempt to wipe them completely off the face of the earth—contestants and other hostages included—because (ahem) the government was using a cheapo charter flight and one of the contestants to smuggle a cigar case (one cigar tube) full of incredibly deadly virus that would kill all of Florida if it escaped to a “friendly nation” that works on antidotes to such viruses. (OK, that’s a spoiler, but it comes out very early in the movie and you can’t really spoil a flick like this.) Anyway, first attempt to bomb them all to oblivion fails because the radio messages aren’t coming from the hideout (an abandoned base in the Florida Keys, I think) but from a boat…and the job of blasting them so thoroughly that the virus is completely destroyed is done so well that the government folks can and do rescue the hijacker who was in the boat, and who of course tells them where the hostages actually are.

Oh, never mind. We get forced beauty pageantry. We get various stupidity. We finally get a touch of heroism by flying a seaplane straight into the sea. And I say “there’s 97 minutes I’ll never get back.”

Awful awful awful. A waste of good talent. I could commend the scenery, but they managed to shoot it so cheaply that you don’t see much. If only for the talent, I’ll give it $0.50.

Mysteries, 1978, color. Paul de Lussanet (dir.), Rutger Hauer, Sylvia Kristel, David Rappaport, Rita Tushingham, Marina de Graaf. 1:28.

A stranger comes to town…

That’s one of the classic beginnings for any plot, and I’m tempted to summarize this flick with the line above followed by:

…the stranger dies.

That’s a little cryptic, but so is this movie. Technically, it’s not quite the end of the plot, as the little person (“the midget,” David Rappaport) who narrates much of it winds up defacing one of the two (or three) women who (apparently) drove the stranger to his end (somehow). The stranger is an agronomist: that much is clear, and it’s the only clear thing about him.

For what it’s worth, this is an (apparently faithful?) adaptation of a novel by the same name by Nobel laureate Knut Hamsun. So there’s that. It’s filmed entirely on the Isle of Man.

Sorry, but I really can’t summarize this one. Either the print is flawed or the color is deliberately somewhat artistic and sometimes oversaturated. It’s moody, it’s odd, it’s…well, it was good enough to keep me watching through the whole thing, so even though I end up no wiser or more satisfied than when I began, I’ll give it $1.00.

Corrupt (orig. l’assassino dei poliziotti, also Copkiller or Order of Death). 1983 (sleeve says 1977, IMDB says filmed in 1981), color. Roberto Faenza (dir.), Harvey Keitel, John Lydon, Leonard Mann, Nicole Garcia, Sylvia Sidney. Ennio Morricone (composer). 1:57 (1:33).

I see that the last post on a disc’s worth of movies was in June 2014—and here it is January 2015. That’s the power of OA investigation: I’ve only watched four movies in seven months instead of the usual one a week.

Or, actually, make that 3.3 movies—because I was unwilling to waste another hour on this piece of crap after struggling through the first half hour of perhaps the worst Morricone score I can ever image hearing (“highlighted” by an awful repeated “country” song set to a classic Tchaikovsky melody) and a plot that—if I could make sense of it—was just terrible people doing terrible things, partly while wearing badges.

I guess it’s about a series of cop killings in New York, with the cops all on the drug squad (I guess?), with a detective who has two apartments and an apparent second identity (but with no attempt at disguise—the sleeve says he’s leading a double life as a drug dealer, but that doesn’t show up in the first half hour), and with a young lunatic (Lydon of the Sex Pistols, in apparently—and deservedly—his only acting role) with an extreme British accent who claims to be American and says he’s the killer, which he apparently isn’t. Or is. I dunno. Perhaps all is revealed later in the movie. He gets locked up and tortured by this detective (Keitel).

And, well, I just couldn’t. I didn’t give a damn what happened to Keitel. I didn’t give a damn what happened to Lydon. I never wanted to hear that song again or more of Morricone’s “here’s a sting because this bit of film matters!” score. A cheapo Italian flick. No rating.

Corrections for December and January Cites & Insights

Posted in Cites & Insights on January 11th, 2015

I got fancy with gold OA analysis in these two issues, adding breakdowns by 27 individual subjects as well as by larger subject groups and major areas.

Unfortunately, I used the wrong column in preparing some of the tables in both issues. The error is consistent: I used the sum of articles 2011-2014 rather than the 2013 article count.

Change in correction: For most tables, this turns out to be a matter of clarification, not correction: To wit, for “Volume” in Tables 2.30 through 2.54 and all tables 2.55-2.65 that have “Volume” as a column heading, the numbers in Volume represent the total number of articles January 2011-June 2014. That’s consistent with the usage in some (not all) earlier tables, so no correction is required.

Actual errors:

  • December 2014: In tables 2.66a and 2.67a, the “Articles” counts are also the sum of 2011 through June 30, 2014; the $/article figures are simply wrong (they represent 2013 potential revenues divided by 2011-2014 article counts) and should be ignored. Clarification: For Tables 2.66b-c and 2.67b-c, the “Article” and “$/article” figures represent total article volume and potential revenue volume for 2011-2014. This means you can’t reasonably compare them to Tables 2.66a and 2.67a.
  • January 2015: Tables 3.33 and 3.34 contain the same errors–the Articles counts include 2011 through mid-2014, making the $/article figures meaningless.

The March 2013 issue will have correct tables for DOAJ (including an additional 1,500-odd journals). I’ll add corrected tables for Beall (including journals in DOAJ) and OASPA (including journals in DOAJ), to make direct comparisons feasible.

My apologies for the errors.

Cites & Insights 15.2 (February 2015) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on January 4th, 2015

Cites & Insights 15.2 (February 2015) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ15i2.pdf

The two-column print-oriented version (with non-working links but with boldface) is 24 pages long.

A single-column 6×9″ version optimized for online viewing and with working hyperlinks (but without boldface), 46 pages long, is available at http://citesandinsights.info/civ15i2on.pdf

For those of you tired of open access facts and figures, this issue has less than half a page (on page 3) devoted to open access.

The issue includes:

The Front  pp. 1-3

Notes on readership, 2014. Also a few notes on “the fourth half,” partially likely to appear in the March 2015 issue.

The Middle: Deathwatch 2014!  pp. 3-15

That’s right! After a one-year hiatus, it’s time for another Deathwatch, and this one does include a few death of books/death of libraries items.

Policy: ©: Going to Extremes  pp. 15-24

Starting with 69 citations on copyright extremism (from both sides), this roundup includes two dozen items that still seemed worth noting.

 

The books of 2014

Posted in Books and publishing on December 31st, 2014

I could recount blog activity for 2014, but that would be really brief and boring. I would promise to do better in 2015, but don’t know that I will…

As for the year in general: I certainly didn’t plan to spend much of it visiting some 16,000 journal and publisher websites some 23,000+ times in all–but Beall’s fast-growing list concerned me enough to try to want to add some, y’know, facts to the discussion. As a result of spending hundreds (I’m not even thinking about how many hundreds) of hours on the single project that turned into four projects, I really didn’t make much headway on watching old movies–instead of the usual one or two per week, I think I managed one a month, maybe less.

But I did do OK on book-reading, mostly library books. My annual goal continues to be 39: three books each time I go to the library–one genre fiction alternating between mystery and science fiction/fantasy, one “non-genre” fiction, one nonfiction–and going to the library at least once every four weeks (that’s the circulation period in Livermore). Anything more than that is gravy.

This year, it looks like I read 58 books, or, rather, I started 58 books and finished 55 of them. (I gave up on three books, two of them to my considerable surprise because they’re by authors I like in general: to wit, Connie Willis’ All Clear and Gene Wolfe’s The Urth of the New Sun. The third was John Barth’s Once Upon A Time–and, you know, I’ve liked Barth a lot as well.)

The pleasant surprise is just how many books I liked enough to give A or A- grades–although that includes starting to read Robert Parker again and reading some of the Discworld books (in mass-market editions) that have been sitting on my shelf before the pages yellow completely.

Here’s the list, including an astonishing 30 books in all, in no particular order:

The Long War Terry Pratchett & S. Baxter
Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby Ace Atkins
James and the Giant Peach Roald Dahl
Jingo Terry Pratchett
Back Story: a Spenser novel Robert B. Parker
Bad Business Robert B. Parker
Chance Robert B. Parker
Telegraph Avenue Michael Chabon
The Christmas Train David Baldacci
The Science of Discworld Terry Pratchett & others
Fatal Voyage Kathy Reichs
How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n’ Roll Elijah Wald
Mary Ann in Autumn Armistead Maupin
Cross Bones Kathy Reichs
Bones to Ashes Kathy Reichs
The Know-It-All A.J. Jacobs
The Last Continent Terry Pratchett
I’m Feeling Lucky Douglas Edwards
Hush Money Robert B. Parker
Fire and Rain David Browne
The History of a Hoax…Old Librarian’s Almanack Wayne A. Wiegand
Raising Steam Terry Pratchett
The Monuments Men Robert M. Edsel
Double Deuce Robert B. Parker
The Camel Club David Baldacci
Sudden Mischief Robert B. Parker
Inherent Vice Thomas Pynchon
The Human Division John Scalzi
Hundred Dollar Baby Robert B. Parker
The Fifth Elephant Terry Pratchett

Of those 30, 27 came from the library; three of the Pratchett books were among the seven on my bookshelf as the year began; and some Beta Phi Mu members (I’m not one–I don’t have an MLS–but my wife is or was) may have spotted the odd book out, Wiegand’s charming little chapbook.

Also fair to note that I’m either an easy grader (probably true for books) or I’m good at selecting library books–normally by browsing–that I’ll like. Another 18 books got B or B+ and two more got a middling B-. Only seven books that I finished got C+ or lower, most of them badly-written or seriously ahistoric nonfiction, and only one book earned a D even though I read the whole thing.

Here’s to 2015 being at least as good in books. (Looking at this list, I’m surprised I gave The Last Continent an A-; at the time, I noted that it was the least satisfying Discworld novel I’ve ever read.)

Oh, and Inherent Vice was a pleasant surprise, given that I’d basically given up on Thomas Pynchon after having been an early fan.

One note there: “Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby” is a Spenser mystery written by the writer Parker’s estate chose to continue the series. It’s very good…and is what started me reading Parker again after an absence of 20 or 30 years. I’m sure I’ll wind up rereading some books I’ve previously read. That’s fine with me. I will surely read Atkins’ other Parker books.

Those of you who look at this list and say “Sheesh. He sure doesn’t read much Serious Literature or Truly Worthwhile Nonfiction” are entirely welcome to your own opinion. You may be right.

Do we need OA megajournals in humanities & social sciences?

Posted in open access on December 29th, 2014

I can’t answer that question, of course. I can offer some factual input.

I’ve now looked at all of the journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals (as of May 2014) that have enough English in their interface for me to be able to (a) determine whether the journal charges article processing fees (or submission fees or whatever) and, if so, how much those fees amount to, (b) determine that they are in fact publishing refereed scholarly articles and (c) determine how many such articles they’ve published in 2011, 2012, 2013 and the first half of 2014.

That caveat is because somewhere north of 2,000 journals in DOAJ either didn’t have English or Eng as one of the languages in their DOAJ record or, when I went there, did not have enough English for me to be able to do those things. So I’ve only looked at 7,301 DOAJ journals (plus another 6,949 “Beall journals”–most of them not actually journals–that weren’t in DOAJ at that point and another 401 OASPA-member journals that weren’t in DOAJ, in many cases because they’d ceased publishing).

Within those 7,301 journals, here’s, briefly, what I found for humanities & social sciences, omitting the few journals with unknown/unstated APCs–there are a dozen such journals in this group):

Humanities alone

(OK, so my definition of humanities may not be the same as yours, but set that aside…)

  • Journals with APCs that published some articles between 2011 and June 30, 2014: 38 journals, publishing around 1,750 articles in the first half of 2014, around 3,200 in 2013, around 2,800 in 2012 and around 2,150 in 2011. (Median APC: $300.)
  • Journals with no APCs–free on both sides–that published some articles between 2011 and June 30, 2014: 745 journals, publishing around 5,850 articles in the first half of 2014, around 12,700 in 2013, around 12,850 in 2012, and around 11,400 in 2011.
  • That adds up to around 15,900 articles in 2013 and around 15,600 in 2012; the 2014 numbers may be slightly lower, but a lot of these journals only post issues once a year, so it’s too early to say.

Humanities and social sciences (which includes all of the above)

  • Journals with APCs (as above): 270 journals, publishing around 8,200 articles in the first half of 2014, around 14,500 in 2013, around 13,500 in 2012 and around 10,200 in 2011. (Median APC $203.)
  • Journals without APCs (free on both sides): 1,930 journals, publishing around 16,100 articles in the first half of 2014, around 37,700 in 2013 and the same in 2012; around 33,650 in 2011.
  • That adds up to around 52,000 articles in 2013 and around 51,200 in 2012.

So I guess the question is: are there tens of thousands of worthwhile articles out there that aren’t getting published because there aren’t enough good OA journals in HSS? Note that the average no-fee humanities journal only publishes about 17 articles a year; if each one added four more articles–probably not an overwhelming addition to the presumably-volunteer editors’ workloads–that would take care of another 3,000-odd articles.

I’m not part of the academy or The Academy. I don’t know what’s actually needed. I am a little suspicious of grand schemes…but that’s just me.

If you’re wondering: I will have a some summary figures and notes on the completion of this absurdly large investigation in the March 2015 Cites & Insights, out some time in February 2015; a thoughtful, edited, complete, coherent view (with advice for librarians) will appear in the summer from a publisher I regard as highly reputable, but it will carry a price.

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