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Communication or Competition: Reading “Open Access: Toward the Internet of the Mind”

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Jean-Claude Guédon, one of the original attendees and signatories of the “Budapest Open Access Initiative” (BOAI) (2002), has written a moral history of the open access movement and a vision for the future of scholarly communication. In “Open Access: Toward the Internet of the Mind,” he provides a narrative of how open access (OA) has evolved (for better and for worse) and calls for an increase in support for cooperative, nonprofit solutions.

Guédon’s narrative revolves around international inequities in scholarly publishing and the damage that these inequities do to the health of communities around the world … and, by association, to all of us. The strength of this approach is that it makes the global exchange of knowledge everyone’s problem. Likewise, it reveals how a system that sort of, sometimes works for the wealthy, is a system that shuts out and excludes other voices. Like most entrenched systems of privilege, it can leave many of its beneficiaries blind, indifferent, or resigned to injustice. On the other hand, the difficulty of building a narrative around global issues is that local responses to the global problem can be hard to imagine. Guédon calls for broad, state-based and organization-based collaboration to build technologies and funding mechanisms to make scholarly communication open for everyone — free to readers, free to authors … which is to say: subsidized by universities, research funders, and governments. Ultimately, one might follow the money back to taxpayers … or, perhaps, “consumers” (a.k.a., students).

For an example of how this cooperative approach might work, Guédon uses OpenAIRE (https://www.openaire.eu/), a European Union supported archival and publishing network. For motivation, he calls all of us to focus on the value of communication (and community) above that of competition (and individualism). Citing William D. Garvey, he insists that the essence of the scientific enterprise is communication … not competition. Thus, authors would communicate with each other the results of their (peer reviewed) scholarship on a distributed, subsidized network such as OpenAIRE.

In his account, the reputation economy is the primary barrier to the global adoption of a shared infrastructure for scholarly communication. As long as individual countries, universities, libraries, journals, and authors rely on reputational rankings (especially the journal impact factor), the nonprofit, cooperative approach will be undermined. In a competition for individual reputations, authors will seek to publish in the existing “top ranked” venues … putting their best work there … and universities will continue to purchase these (if not pay-walled, high publishing fee) titles. In the reputation economy the rich get richer. Right now, comparatively, the “Global North” is rich and the for-profit publishing companies are very rich.

Guédon’s global narrative and account of OA at the crux of a conflict between communication and competition might leave some readers in the United States at a loss for what to do. Even if many U.S. authors might agree that communication is the goal of science, most have been fully co-opted by the competition for reputation. Likewise, the U.S. struggles to adopt non-profit solutions to providing healthcare for its citizens. It’s hard to imagine (particularly in the current political climate) a “big government” or cooperative, nonprofit solution to scholarly publishing. Arguably, many of the U.S. faculty members that edit, write, and review for for-profit publishers (mostly for free) have established (false) allegiances with these brands. When I talk to authors, many worry more about how OA will affect their publisher or their society … even when the journal is owned by one of the big five, for-profit publishers … than they do about how these publishers are draining the budgets of their employers.

So, what is it that Guédon would have a lone U.S. author to do? What is it that he’d want a U.S. academic librarian to do?

I agree with Guédon that scholarship grows best on a foundation of cooperative communication. All the same, I’m fairly certain that more than half of the people living in the United States would rather just let the rich get richer. And, in a political climate in which accusations against the “academic elites” stirs a large political base (e.g., from Wayne LaPierre (see Beckett)), I don’t expect to see much of an increase in public funding for a (non-profit) scholarly publishing infrastructure. On the other hand, if everyone rolls over in a fit of resignation … the world becomes a very dull place.

For my part, I’ll strive to fight the reputation economy. Particularly, reputation competitions based on proxies for quality — especially the journal impact factor. That means finding ways to help authors find more socially responsible, more humane, and more accurate ways of describing the value and importance of the work that they do. In the long run, these more humane approaches to “metrics” will not only alleviate global inequities in scholarship, but will support the health of the humanities (see, for example, HuMetrics), the social sciences, and, of course, libraries. (Librarians, stop offering to help people find journal impact factors … you’re feeding the monopolies and killing your own job.)

I’ll also strive to build systems, workflows, and communities that value the communication in “scholarly communication.” That means working for and on nonprofit open access projects. Not only will that be where I’ll be writing, reviewing, and editing … but that’ll be what I’m advocating for on my campus and in my communities of scholarship. I do not control a large university library budget and I’m just one small voice supporting the reallocation of funds away from for-profit publishing, but my time is valuable and I plan to spend it well.

References

Beckett, L. (2017, May 1). “I agree 100%”: NRA members back Wayne LaPierre attack on “leftist zealots.” The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/01/nra-wayne-lapierre-guns-leftist-zealots

Budapest Open Access Initiative. (2002, February 14). Read the Budapest Open Access Initiative. http://www.budapestopenaccessinitiative.org/read

Garvey, W. D. (1979). Communication, the essence of science: facilitating information exchange among librarians, scientists, engineers, and students. Pergamon Press.

Guédon, J.-C. (2017, February 23). Open Access: Toward the Internet of the Mind. http://www.budapestopenaccessinitiative.org/open-access-toward-the-internet-of-the-mind

Mangiafico, P. (2016, May 31). HuMetrics: Building Humane Metrics for the Humanities. https://trianglesci.org/2016/05/31/humetrics-building-humane-metrics-for-the-humanities/

Written by Jere

June 19, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Opposition: realist or moralist?

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Masha Gessen, in “Trump: The Choice We Face“, describes two responses to injustice. One compromises, does it’s best to move power toward justice while praying to minimize complicity in its violence — this would be the realist. The other refuses to compromise, insists that it will not participate at any level in sustaining the life of injustice — this would be the moralist. On level days, I’m a realist and I think most people are. There’s just no way to navigate the many competing moral demands of one’s communities. The realist owns hypocrisy and does their best with it. On darker days and in my more indignant moments, I’m a moralist. (I have a long line of moralists in my family tree — so, perhaps it’s genetic.) As a moralist, I’m insufferable. But as a moralist, I am motivated. The realist feels a bit passive at times. The moralist may be less practical, but (from my experience) is more likely to get things done — though in fits and spurts and in so far as the fire burns. As for now — let it burn, let it burn.

Written by Jere

November 29, 2016 at 10:20 pm

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Kairos: such is the time

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Is it too late to really start a reading of liberation? The documents I knew of and did not attend to, whether by indifference or by ignorance. The forces these writers meant to oppose are unlikely to ever be banished. I know that. Surely, I knew that. And now, there are “demands” on one’s time … but (can I give myself an out) there always have been. What to read? What to do? And when to do it?

The God of the State: This god is an idol. It is as mischievous, sinister and evil as any of the idols that the prophets of Israel had to contend with. … It is the god of superior weapons who conquered those who were armed with nothing but spears. It is the god of … prison cells and death sentences. Here is a god who exalts the proud and humbles the poor–the very opposite of the God of the Bible who “scatters the proud of heart, pulls down the mighty from their thrones and exalts the humble” (Lk 1:51-52). From a theological point of view the opposite of the God of the Bible is the devil, Satan. The god of the … State is not merely an idol or false god, it is the devil disguised as Almighty God–the antichrist.

The Kairos Document, 1985. https://kairossouthernafrica.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/the-south-africa-kairos-document-1985

Written by Jere

November 21, 2016 at 9:04 am

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Where to begin after Trump?

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First, there’s no “after” Trump for readers of this bit of lament. Trump is “with us” now and has been for some time. As a person (he is a person) he is of no significance. A small mind, a bigot, an ego in need of the most shallow confirmations of greatness — the man is laughable. In most circumstances people like this should elicit pity — the emptiness, the vacuous wandering of an old man without a soul. But here a country, a time, finds itself appointing a fool as its administrator. And, so it is not Trump, but the people that have been “with us” all this time and the people want this evil, the people are and have been this evil. “We the people ….”

Yes, of course, far less than half the population of the United States voted for him. Yes, many voted against him. But this is how rulers are installed — democratically or not, without the will of at least some of the people, they cannot rule. Without the will of the many people that permitted, whether by cowardice or by kindness, a political discourse to give room to rises such as these, such rulers find no court of play.

There is no “after” Trump. Trump has been with us and will be with us. That he raises his hoary head now with no adornments, with no subterfuge, with no etiquette to blunt the edges, only makes the truth that much clearer. There’s no hiding now behind feigned principles. With rulers such as this, you are with him or you are the opposition.

Written by Jere

November 14, 2016 at 9:33 pm

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Dewey and the “Poorly Educated”

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Every few years in this last decade or so I have returned to a reading of Roderick S. French’s 1998 essay, “Dewey for administrators: Notes for an esthetic of administration in a democratic society” (free to read with registration at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23740049). In one season, it reads as a manifesto — a call to all that a university could be as a liberating engine for a true democratic society. In another season, such as this one, it reads as a lamentation for an idea that never quite took hold — one of a gutted liturgy, words without presence. When a presidential candidate can gain traction by declaring “I love the poorly educated,” John Dewey’s dream of liberal education as a liberating force, has failed. The dream is dead, not because it could not work, but dead because so few ever believed in it. If French did not know it was dead, he knew it was dying. If Dewey did not know it was dead, he knew it faced all but insurmountable odds.

French’s essay opens with a “meditation” on the work of academic administration. Having recently left his position as the Vice President for Academic Affairs at George Washington University, he prods the faculty reader to move beyond the knee-jerk distaste for the assumed drudgery of committees, meetings, bylaws, memos and budget reports and to pause before assuming the typical us-versus-them attitude toward administrators. French calls for faculty to pursue their administrative works with creativity and zeal. Leaning on Dewey, he emphasizes the work as both a personal and a social force for liberation:

The biggest single obstacle to all administrative innovations on our campuses is the rapid conversion of unreflective practices into untouchable “traditions.” Liberation (Dewey’s word) from “convention in practice and intellection procedure” is the daily goal of every true academic administrator. (p. 336)

Few have entered careers in higher education with a vocational longing for administrative work, so French is not preaching to the choir here. But it’s a good soul check — a reminder that administrative work may (with effort) be lifted above the habitual slog.

But French is not merely seeking a way to lift the spirits of a bored scholar, languishing in their appointment as department chair. He aims to ignite an administrative passion for Dewey’s vision of a liberal education — one that does not merely replicate class stratification; but, rather, one that enables its students for humane employment and full democratic participation. Succinctly put: “whether or not an education is ‘liberal’ is not defined by the subjects offered but by whether or not it is liberating for those who undergo it” (p. 347).

While one might argue that contemporary universities are facilitating the liberation of their students (perhaps by exposing them to new ideas and by opening the doors of the professions), Dewey had other liberations in mind. He saw a need for the “interfusion of knowledge … of vocational preparation with a deep sense of the social foundations and social consequences of industry and industrial challenges in contemporary society” (348). On this point, “higher education” has failed. Universities have given themselves to the marketplace–they sell any education a tuition dollar will buy. In the marketplace the university works less to educate and more to monitor the tollgates of opportunity. The rankings, admission rates, test scores, and average starting salaries of our graduates speak less of a liberating education and more to the (usually pre-existing) economic status of our students. It’s “deplorable” that too many of our graduates are fast-tracked into a couple of decades of educational debt; it’s “deplorable” that so many are merely credentialed for the professions without an “interfusion of knowledge” to the social consequences of those professions.

Sensing, perhaps, that rank-and-file faculty have, themselves, been mis-educated, French calls for administrators to work to put the public back in education and to put education back in the public. It’s a tall order. In my opinion, it’s just not possible without dramatic changes in the economic and social structure of the United States. Maybe the best of the best Dewey-esk administrators will manage to put a dent into the machine, but by and large our universities are outcomes of an economic system and are not positioned to be reformers of that system. In such a world, when white people with a college education support one candidate (+14 Clinton) and white people without a college education support another (+25 Trump), we are not witnesses to the liberating effects of an education. We are witnesses to the fact that we are all “the poorly educated.”

In my own house these realizations are leading to realignments. First as a consumer — I have one child in college and two on the way–and then as an educator. As a consumer I’m looking for colleges with racial and economic diversity at graduation, not merely at admission. I’m also looking for equitable outcomes for diverse students — and for schools that make social justice and civic action self-conscious features of the curriculum. As an educator, (not as an “administrator,” but as a lowly Scholarly Communications Librarian), I’m thinking about how my work does and does not contribute to the public “interfusion of knowledge.” While academic librarians are passionate about providing access to knowledge, the truth is that their piece of the university budget does much to reify the role of campuses as gatekeepers for the wealthy. The millions (that’s not an exaggeration) that we spend on subscription-only access to the scholarly literature that our own authors write is an easy case in point. Yes, we’re pushing an increase in open access dissemination and, true, some universities (like MIT) are starting to show signs that they might realign subscription budgets, but these efforts are too little and (largely) too late. We, the multi-degreed, but “poorly educated,” are slow to learn.

References

French, R. S. (1998). Dewey for administrators: Notes for an esthetic of administration in a democratic society. The Centennial Review, 42(2), 333–352. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23740049

Gambino, L. (2016, October 16). “I love the poorly educated”: why white college graduates are deserting Trump. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/16/white-college-graduates-donald-trump-support-falling

Special Collections Research Center, Gelman Library. (n.d.). Guide to the Roderick S. French papers, 1969-2013 MS2296.UA. George Washington University. https://library.gwu.edu/ead/ms2296.xml

Chozick, A. (2016, September 10). Hillary Clinton Calls Many Trump Backers “Deplorables,” and G.O.P. Pounces. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/11/us/politics/hillary-clinton-basket-of-deplorables.html

Suls, R. (2016, September 15). Educational divide in vote preferences on track to be wider than in recent elections. Fact Tank, Pew Research Center. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/15/educational-divide-in-vote-preferences-on-track-to-be-wider-than-in-recent-elections/

Finnie, E. (2016, April 11). Using library content licenses to shape the scholarly communications landscape. In the Open. http://intheopen.net/2016/04/using-library-content-licenses-to-shape-the-scholarly-communications-landscape/

Written by Jere

November 6, 2016 at 6:53 pm

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Preprints in Poetry: Why am I doing this?

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First, a confession:
Yes, I write poetry. In fact, I’ve written poetry slowly but persistently for more than three decades. Most of it is complete garbage; some of it has been published in literary journals. But a great deal more, of modest quality, has never been published, submitted or shared. The last fifteen or so years have been largely dedicated to a single form — five couplets, generally not rhyming; ghazals, loosely understood and (at times) loosely “after” Ghalib.

Second, my profession (of late):
For better or worse, the pace of my poetry composition slowed to a trickle when I became a librarian. It slowed even more when I became an advocate for open access and a tenure-track Scholarly Communications librarian. But new professions lead to new questions and new vantage points. Questions like: what is publishing, after all? And, if my scholarly work can be freely shared ahead of publication as a “preprint” in an institutional repository, why should my poetry wait for the dusty wheels of paper-based publication?

Third, why I shouldn’t do this:
Well … you tell me. Or, if you’re drawing some blanks (beyond the professional embarrassment I hint at in my “confession” above), here are a few objections that I expect some would hold: But will poetry publishers hesitate to publish these works once they discover that I am distributing them here? (Who cares. That’s their loss. And I don’t submit poems to journals, but for invitations.) But am I missing out on the benefits of publication from a reputable press, including the prestige and the money. (Really? Am I? What money? What prestige?) But, do you really think you can find readers for your work without the help of a traditional publisher? (I can count the readers that I care to have on two hands. Maybe by sharing “preprints” my readership will enter the double-digit range. Maybe not. But again, remember, I’ve been writing poetry for many years without sharing more than a few dozen poems–so, clearly, readership has not been a high priority for me.)

Fourth, but poetry on Github? Huh?
A poem is a work in progress until the author stops working on it. Even then, some poets revisit and revise published poems — sometimes for the worse. I want to share my poems in a form that permits a degree of versioning. Yes, I could do that in Google Docs, but I wouldn’t want Google to wake up one day and delete my account. And, Google Docs adds a counterproductive technical complexity to the file in its efforts to give people a full-featured word processing tool. After consulting with two colleagues in my university library’s Center for Digital Scholarship, I opted for GitHub. As a code repository, GitHub lets me write poems in a text editor, save and share them in Markdown, and keep track of even the most insignificant changes. Ultimately, given the simple structure of the Markdown syntax and the features of code repositories, moving my poetry repository from GitHub to another digital platform will be relatively easy. (I’ll be asking our Digital Humanities guru, Caitlin Pollock, for help when the time comes.) Maybe there’s some tool out there that does a better job of versioning … maybe, I’m behind the curve and others are sharing poetry in a similar way somewhere else. O.K. Yes, I could do that too ….

Fifth, what you will find in my GitHub poetry repository:
To get this project started, I’ve posted eight poems. Read these, and others at: https://github.com/jereodell/poetry

I write poetry longhand. Most of my poems go through three to five revisions before I even bother to type them. Most of the poems that I type are not revised much. But, I have found that poetry readings force me to revise — when I read a poem aloud a few years after typing it, I usually hear things that I don’t like. But I don’t give many readings these days. (Maybe I should read my poems to my parrot. He’d probably like that.)

I’ll be crawling through much of the work that I’ve written in the last twenty years and posting it bit by bit. I’ll also be posting new works. But, I don’t plan on letting anyone know what’s new and what’s not. I hope that this process, among other things, gives new energy to my efforts at revision. I also hope that a few people will bother to read one or two poems now and then. I’m not expecting a crowd, but my GitHub poetry repository may be “forked” and the poems may be re-posted, printed, and shared. For now, I’m sharing everything under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license. (Go ahead, tell me why I shouldn’t do that.)

Finally, thanks for reading.

This “readme” was first posted on August 23, 2016 at: http://ulib.iupui.edu/digitalscholarship/blog/preprints-in-poetry

 

Written by Jere

August 23, 2016 at 11:41 am

Dear Authors, Don’t Feed the Beast

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If you’re reading this, you probably already know that scholarly publishing is broken. Yes, it “works” for some people, some of the time. If you’re a for-profit publisher you’re probably raking in a 30-40% profit margin (Taylor). I doubt you think that’s a “broken” model. But if you’re an employee of a university, it’s broken and you’re broke … even if you don’t know it. Your university cannot afford to subscribe to the journal literature that your faculty and students want to read–in many cases, your university cannot afford to subscribe to the literature that your faculty and students write. You’re so broke that there’s really no way to crawl out of the hole you’re in–go ahead, raise tuition again, underpay a bunch of adjuncts, force your STM faculty to bring in their salaries in grants, and stop hiring people to teach classes in the humanities. Do it if you want to, but that’s not going to help. Why? Because:

  • Journal prices rise annually by 6-7%–a similar increase is expected for 2016 (Bosch & Henderson).
  • The average price to subscribe to a single journal will top $2,000 in this year.
  • The average price for journal subscriptions in the sciences is absurd. The average price for journals in Chemistry and Physics in 2015 was $4,276.00 USD.
  • What does that really mean? If our gasoline prices had increased over the years at the same rate, we’d now be paying more than $30.00 per gallon. Would you even bother to own a car in that world? (Odell).
  • For-profit publishers have increased their monopoly control on the journal literature you write and read. More than 50% of all articles published are owned by just five companies–70% if you’re in the Social Sciences. (Larivière, Haustein, & Mongeon)
  • Authors do not get royalties for journal articles & they generally do not own copyrights for their work published in journals–which explains, in part, that 40% profit margin.
  • Even so, some subscription journals charge authors page, color, and submission fees. The Journal for Clinical Dentistry, for example, charges authors $800.00 USD per page and then hides the article from all but subscribers. Perhaps that was the only way to publish a glossy print mag for dentists in the 1980s, but JCD is currently ignoring the existence of the Internet & living in a fantasy world where people still read print journals. (JCD)
  • Electronic distribution be-damned, page charges continue to burden university budgets. One institution found that they were paying another 15%-18% on top of the price of subscriptions for page charges in pay-walled journals (Gray).
  • Never missing an opportunity to double-bill and price-gouge their customers, many subscription journal publishers offer authors a choice to make their article open access … for a fee, of course. Libraries call these “Hybrid Open Access” journals, but it should be called predatory publishing.
  • The same big, for-profit publishers charge a typical fee of $3,000 per article if authors want to take advantage of the OA “option”–in 2014 the average Hybrid-OA fee was estimated to be $2,727 USD (Bjork & Solomon). That’s more than the university is probably paying for a subscription. Is it any wonder that the funders are threatening to turn off the tap? (Matthews).
  • Meanwhile, readers want access to your article. Information inequities are so bad that some researchers have a stark choice–starve (go without the literature they need to do research, make good public policy, and treat patients) or break the law (use a pirated copy they found with #icanhazpdf, ResearchGate, or SciHub) (Gardner & Gardner; Murphy)
  • Is it any wonder, then, that by one estimate, the average journal article has fewer than 10 readers? (Biswas & Kirchherr).

So, dear scholarly authors, why do you do it? Why do you give your labor away to publishers that make good profits on your work at the expense of your employers, tax payers, and students? Why do you give your articles to companies that hold your work for ransom? Why do you feed the beast?

You have options. They’re not as hard as you think. Look for best journal for your readers and for the future of your profession. Don’t believe the myths. Look for the evidence. P&T is not the problem you think it is. Self-archive your peer-reviewed manuscripts in an institutional repository, like IUPUI ScholarWorks, for free. Choose a trusted, affordable OA journal. Think before you submit.

Don’t feed the beast.

References

Biswas, A., & Kirchherr, J. (2015, April 9). Citations are not enough: Academic promotion panels must take into account a scholar’s presence in popular media. Retrieved from http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2015/04/09/academic-promotion-scholars-popular-media/

Björk, B.-C., & Solomon, D. (2014). Developing an effective market for open access article processing charges. Retrieved from http://www.fnr.lu/en/content/download/11999/65286/version/1/file/Open+Access+Final+Report_130314.pdf

Bosch, S., & Henderson, K. (2015, April 23). Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On | Periodicals Price Survey 2015. Library Journal, 140(7), 35. http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/04/publishing/whole-lotta-shakin-goin-on-periodicals-price-survey-2015/

Gardner, C. C., & Gardner, G. J. (2016). Fast and Furious (at Publishers): The Motivations behind Crowdsourced Research Sharing. College & Research Libraries, crl16–840. http://crl.acrl.org/content/early/2016/02/25/crl16-840.short

Gray, A. (2015). Considering Non-Open Access Publication Charges in the “Total Cost of Publication.” Publications, 3(4), 248–262. http://doi.org/10.3390/publications3040248

The Journal of Clinical Dentistry – Information for Authors. (2015, May 28). Retrieved March 26, 2016, from https://web.archive.org/web/20150528200811/http://www.jclindent.com/Information.html

Larivière, V., Haustein, S., & Mongeon, P. (2015). The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era. PLOS ONE, 10(6), e0127502. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0127502

Matthews, D. (2016, March 24). Wellcome criticises publishers over open access. Times Higher Education (THE). Retrieved from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/wellcome-criticises-publishers-over-open-access

Murphy, K. (2016, March 12). Should All Research Papers Be Free? The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/13/opinion/sunday/should-all-research-papers-be-free.html

Odell, J. D. (2016). The Lewis Journals-to-Gas-Price Inflation Index, Chemistry and Physics 2015.https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.3081787.v1

Taylor, M. (2012, January 13). The obscene profits of commercial scholarly publishers. Retrieved from http://svpow.com/2012/01/13/the-obscene-profits-of-commercial-scholarly-publishers/

Written by Jere

March 26, 2016 at 11:34 am