Publisher and Institutional Repository Usage Statistics (PIRUS 2)

Yesterday I attended a seminar – Counting Individual Article Usage – which reported on the results of the JISC funded PIRUS 2 Project.

It was a full day, with many interesting speakers. In the morning the talks focused on the project itself, while afternoon talks covered the bigger picture.

All About PIRUS 2

  • Hazel Woodward started things off by setting the stage and providing us with the aims and objectives of the PIRUS 2 project. These can be found here. Basically they were looking at the viability of creating a system that can bring together usage (download) data, at an article level, from publishers and repositories, in a standardised format.
  • Peter Shepherd from COUNTER then gave a review of the organisational, economic, and political issues involved with the project. Cost allocation hasn’t been explored fully, but currently publishers would be expected to carry the brunt of the costs with repositories also contributing. Politically, there are still a lot of issues that remain (one being whether publishers and repositories are actually willing to provide their own data, and willing to pay for such a service).
  • Paul Needham then took us through the technical side, and showed us that, yes, it is technically feasible to collect, consolidate, and standardise “download event” usage data from a number of different providers.
  • Ed Pentz from CrossRef then talked about the importance (and relevance to PIRUS) of DOIs, and also described ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID).
  • Paul Smith from ABCe spoke about their possible role as auditor for PIRUS.

The bigger picture

  • Mark Patterson from PLoS, then gave an interesting talk, describing some of the new alternative impact metrics (some that PLoS now provides). He cited people such as Jason Priem (see alt-metrics: a manifesto) and commented that changing the focus from Journal to article, would change the publication process.
  • Gregg Gordon from SSRN also spoke of alternative methods to measure usage, and also noted the importance of context when thinking about usage.
  • Daniel Beuke from OA Statistik then gave a review of their project (very similar to PIRUS) set in Germany. It would be interesting to see how these two teams could work together. These projects (along with SURE) have worked together under the Knowledge Exchange’s Open Access Usage Statistics work (see here for their work on International interoperability guidelines).
  • Ross MacIntyre then spoke about the Journal Usage Statistics Portal, another JISC supported project
  • Paul Needham then gave us a demonstration of the functioning PIRUS database and we closed the day with a panel discussion.

Unfortunately, I felt not enough emphasis was placed on demonstrating the usefulness of PIRUS 2 and the data that it could potentially generate. The political side of the discussion would also have been very interesting to delve into further.

Interesting things that kept popping up:

  • The importance of standardisation of author and research names (ORCID)
  • The need for metadata description standard (e.g. whether the paper is peer reviewed)
  • And the need for all publishers to use DOIs

Some of the questions I’m still thinking about:

  • Are publishers really willing to share this data?
  • What can a publisher really gain from this type of collation of usage data? And a repository?
  • To make it most useful everyone would need to contribute (and have access?) What would be the competitive advantage to having access to this data if everyone has access?
  • We now know it is technically feasible, but is it economically and politically feasible?
  • Are we ready to place value on these alternative metrics of usage (i.e. not Journal Impact Factor)? Who says we are ready? Are institutions ready? Will this usage data count as impact in the REF?
  • What about other places people put articles – personal web pages, institutional web pages, etc. – could this data be included?
  • What about including data from the downloads of briefing papers, working papers, and preprints? Doesn’t usage of these also signify impact?
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Peer review: open to enquiry

The House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology has announced an equiry into peer review.

This seems timely: I’m more and more hearing people wondering if peer review as we know (and love?) it is threatened/challenged/becoming redundant in the web 2.0 environment. Though I think this enquiry is more probably a response to concerns that the current system may be insufficiently robust: the second of the review’s terms of reference mentions “strengthening” peer review.

Would we like it “strengthened”, if this means giving reviewers more power and responsibility? Or is there a case for making it more open – even for publishing research without traditional peer review and letting the academic community give its verdict on the value and significance of the work? (There’s an article on this by Axel Boldt in Journal of Scholarly Publishing, 2011, 42/2, 238-242, DOI10.3138/jsp.42.2.238 – but unfortunately it’s not open access … Also a provocative blog by Paul Fyfe at Florida State University)

Such a significant change in the way scholarly communications are validated won’t happen overnight. But is it a desirable development?

Sussex Research Hive Seminar Series

Just came across the Sussex Research Hive Seminar series available here. This seminar series is organised by the University of Sussex Library (and funded by SAGE) in order to support their research community, but the slides (with recorded audio) are publicly available, and definitely relevant outside their institution.  Topics covered already include:

  • The future of research communication
  • Engaging the public with your research
  • Conducting research in the digital age: ethics, copyright, and the Digital Economy Act

And upcoming will be:

  • The future of research development and careers, and
  • Working with the REF

Definitely look like an interesting list of talks and speakers. Take a look.

More OA Journals from Big Publishers

Wiley has recently announced Wiley Open Access, “a new publishing program of open access journals”. They plan to launch a number of OA journals in 2011, including MicrobiologyOpen, Ecology and Evolution, and Brain and Behavior. There is currently no mention of the pricing model for these new journals (that I could find), but we can only assume the cost will be similar to the existing $3000 US they are charging for their OnlineOpen option for their other journals, or perhaps a bit cheaper in order to successfully compete with others.

So what does this mean that big publishers are becoming more and more “interested” in open access publishing? We recently saw Nature Publishing Group release their new Scientific Reports, and don’t forget SAGE Open as well. Perhaps more will follow? Will publishing in OA journals begin to become more popular? And what will this mean for the “green road” to open access?