This should not be my fight

I’ve probably said this before, but thinking about yesterday’s post reminded me of it once again.

That is:

This should not be my fight.

No, I haven’t gone to each site that wrote a story touting the Shen/Bj√∂rk article to point out the problems with the data–especially now that it’s clear what the response will be. Somebody should. They have the actual data.

But it shouldn’t be me. It’s really not my fight.

I didn’t even start out to discredit Beall’s lists. I did cross swords with him on his absurd notion that the Big Deal had solved the serials crisis, but I did a real-world study of the journals and publishers on his lists to get a reality check. I was fully ready to believe that the picture was as bleak as he painted it–and if that’s how the data had come out, that’s how I would have published it.

After all: I don’t publish any OA journals. I’m not on the editorial board of any OA journals. I don’t need publications for tenure (I’m retired and was never in a tenure-track position). I don’t make big bucks from speaking fees (haven’t done many appearances lately, and that’s OK). I sure as heck don’t make big bucks from the data gathering and analysis, although ALA Editions has published some of my work in the area (not big bucks, but some bucks and a venue I regard highly).

For that matter, I’ve been the subject of ad hominem attacks from Stevan Harnad as well as Jeffrey Beall, so I’m not even well-liked among all OA folks.

What I’ve been trying to do is see what’s actually happening and bring my 26 years of off-and-on experience with OA to bear in looking at what’s going on now and what’s being said. My mildly obsessive personality and retired status, and reasonably well organized techniques, have allowed me to do some large-scale studies that wouldn’t have been done otherwise. (With modest funding, I’d keep on doing them.)

It’s painful to see questionable results spread far and wide: it hurts good OA (the bulk of it) and probably doesn’t do much to questionable OA. It’s painful to see librarians and others take the easy way out, relying on a seriously defective set of blacklists rather than starting with an increasingly good whitelist (DOAJ) and working from there.

I’ll continue to provide facts and perspectives. (I’ve just subdivided a bunch of tagged items into a baker’s dozen subtopics within the overall “Ethics and Access” topic. That’s probably the December Cites & Insights; it might also be the January one, depending on how it goes.) I’ll continue to post the occasional post. I’m hoping some libraries, librarians, OA folks and others will eventually buy the book (which is apparently now available on Amazon as well as via Lulu; it may also be on Ingram, but I have no way of testing that). It’s always a pleasure to see my work being cited or used where it’s appropriate.

I’m not going away just yet…but as for coping with all the misrepresentations well, it’s not (or at least not entirely) my fight.

For those of you who need a Respectable Published Source:

I refer you to Open-Access Journals: Idealism and Opportunism, published by the American Library Association. That link gets you to the $43 40-page monograph (published as the August/September 2015 issue of Library Technology Reports). You can also go here to read the first chapter or order the ebook version (I believe you can also order individual chapters). If you’re in one of the several hundred libraries that subscribes to Library Technology Reports, it should already be available to you. (The link here is to one of two records for the series.)

Open-Access Journals: Idealism and Opportunism was professionally copy-edited, edited, and typeset. It was also reviewed by three professionals (two librarians, one other), although that wasn’t formal peer review. It’s concise, and includes not only real-world figures for 6,490 gold OA journals (in DOAJ) publishing 366,210 articles in 2013, it includes chapters on the “sideshow” of Beall’s lists, dealing with OA journals (including spotting questionable journals), and libraries and OA journals.

(It’s not a complete survey of DOAJ, because it doesn’t include journals that lack an English-language interface option. It also goes through June 30, 2014 rather than the end of 2014–thus, the 366,210 count is for 2013). It’s also, of course, far less detailed than The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014.

But it’s concise, well-edited, based on an actual survey rather than sampling, and published by what I consider to be the premier publisher in librarianship, part of the world’s largest library association. So it has that level of authority that my self-pubbed works may not have.

The author? Walt Crawford. (No, I’m not angling for extra money here: the fee for preparing the issue was a one-time fee, with no royalties. But the final chapters make it a great resource, and for those who require Reputable Publishers, you don’t get more reputable than ALA.)



Comments are closed.