Thursday, 24 April 2014

Open Access Policy for the university

If you are publishing in journals this will be of interest...

The university has a new Open Access Policy.  In essence this states that, "The university supports the principle of making publically funded and peer‐reviewed research available via open access."  This reflects HEFCE's policy of making open access a requirement for submission to the next Research Excellence Framework - for journal articles.  You can read more about HEFCE's stance here, along with details about the work they are doing in relation to monographs.

Open Access can either be through the 'gold' or 'green' routes:

Gold - is where the research is made available through publishing with an open access journal OR through paying a subscription-based journal to publish the article available on an open-access basis.  (Limited funds are available to pay the Article Processing Charge (APC) if that applies to the journal you are submitting to.  See the link below for the application form.)

Green - is where the research is made available via a repository (e.g. WestminsterResearch), where this is allowed by the journal that has accepted your work.  In this model the publisher sometimes imposes an embargo (i.e. you have to wait for a period before you have the right to include your research on WestminsterResearch), but some journals do allow immediate inclusion on an institutional respository.

More information is available about how this will work at Westminster on the WestminsterResearch pages (use the links in the grey sub-menu to navigate).  You should look particularly at the 'Information for our authors and open access policy' section, which gives links to two useful resources - SHERPA/JULIET and SHERPA/ROMEO.

These resources have been around for an age and give you a quick reference to what the policies of funders are in relation to open access (SHERPA/JULIET) and what the policies of individual journals are (SHERPA/ROMEO).  SHERPA/ROMEO will show what a journals policies are in relation to:
  • paid open access
  • the deposit to an institutional repository of: author's pre-prints (i.e. pre-refereed and not compliant with the HEFCE policy), author's post-prints (as published minus publisher formatting), and the publisher version/PDF. 

This new policy will give impetus to the use of WestminsterResearch as not just a record of published work, but as a repository of it; and in many cases you will already have the right to deposit the full-text of articles you have authored onto WestminsterResearch.

If you would like to discuss any of this with me, please get in touch.  I have been briefed, and I am also attending an update session next week where I could raise any issues that you wish to raise.

Further Reading

See my post on Open Access Search Tools

Open access - search tools

With the change in policy from HEFCE in relation to the REF, it looks like there is some impetus for these long-standing initiatives below to come into their own.  Most useful in this list, which I collated a couple of years ago, are CORE, DOAB, DOAJ, EThOS, OAIster, and PQDT Open.

CORE - an aggregated search of UK repositories (it's like Google Scholar for UK research repositories).  Further information.

DART-Europe - research theses from a consortium of European research libraries

DOAB - Directory of Open Access Books

DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals

EThOS [Electronic Theses Online Service from the British Library.  Selected items available for download after registration]

OAPEN [Open Access Publishing in European Networks] is a collaborative initiative to develop and implement a sustainable Open Access publication model for academic books in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

OAIster - a union catalogue of open access resources, provided by OCLC/Worldcat.  Further information

OpenDOAR Search - search contents of open access repositories listed on OpenDOAR [Directory of Open Access Repositories]

OpenDepot Search - search of e-prints from researchers at institutions that do not have an institutional repository

PQDT Open [Proquest Dissertations and Theses Open] - provides the full text of open access dissertations and theses available on the Proquest platform

ROAR Search - search contents of repositories listed on ROAR [Registry of Open Access Repositories]

SHERPA Search - search UK repositories listed on OpenDOAR [Directory of Open Access Repositories]

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Useful libraries and bookshops in London

I haven't shared this Google Map for a while, so here it is again.... There are a few updates in the Shoreditch area (where else?). There will be a few more updates soon I think, once I get hold of a copy of The Eyes (as the new edition is a special on London). Please share anything I have overlooked.

View Useful London Libraries & Bookshops - Photography and Film in a larger map

Too busy being busy

'Email has meant we just generate that hamster wheel of communications. We spend our days answering messages, batting things forwards and backwards; we have forgotten that that's not everything about work - that's just a part of work. When is the time you actually stop and think creatively; [when] you start to think about how we could do things differently: "how could I innovate the thing that I am doing here?" We don't do that because we are too busy being busy! '

More of this on the video below...

Thursday, 3 April 2014

EThOS [Electronic Theses Online Service]

Those groovy people at the BL have produced this video about the 'Ethos' service.  Search the collection now:

It’s a free research tool which gives access to much of the UK’s doctoral research. Search over 350,000 theses covering every subject area, and download over 100,000 straight away.

• Search and read theses on your topic;
• Find examples of how to structure and approach your thesis;
• Research the work of specific institutions or academics.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Breadth, depth, digital, print

This is a blog.  I am not an academic.  Inevitably, any of the very few interpretative elements here are going to be under-researched; probably unoriginal; frequently banal; sometimes plagiarised or poorly referenced and possibly wrong.  Individual posts are liable to be changed without notice - I may delete controversial statements written in haste or even add them.  Don't judge this by the standards that you apply to a journal article or an academic book.  If, by chance, I write something you think is interesting, don't use it without referencing me, but look first to see if someone with more authority has said it first, and said it better.  As sure as eggs is eggs, it will be out there...  and it will be a better reference.

Google can get you so far, but not very far.  How far would you get researching an essay on "Walid Raad" using Google?  About as far as Wikipedia, and thousands of snippets of fact and opinion, with some analysis which you may or may not be able to evaluate.  The in-depth analysis is more likely to be found in academic sources.

Today's research environment is confusing.  You think its easy because there is so much information available, and it is keyword searchable, but information is not the same thing as analysis, nor is it the same thing as knowledge.  Two hundred thousand web-pages have quoted these lines from T. S. Eliot:
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
It must be true!

The digital environment is fantastic for pinpointing specific information.  So, if you have a reasonably distinctive term, Google can home in on it like an army of scud missiles.  It facilitates a particular type of research using keywords to search academic as well as non-academic sources.  You can trace the frequency of the word 'materiality' in books over 200 years, track down 3500 books which mention "Walid Raad," or wonder why there are so few journal articles that name-check this artist listed on Google Scholar.  It would be fairly tedious, but perfectly possible to curate rather than write an essay, using all this data: "Raad's work undermines the conventions of logical procedure and testament and makes use of our expectation of factual accuracy" etc etc.

I'm not knocking it. If you know what you're doing, you can construct a good list of references this way.  It is research on speed.

A few reservations, though.  What do you do if you are not researching a proper noun, when concepts are less easy to define or separate from other, everyday language?  What do you do if you are researching the idea of the 'family album' and Google starts to fail you?. And what are you overlooking, when you are skimming, scanning and - to use Katherine Hayles term - "Hyper reading"? Might you have got further in your understanding if you gone straight to a recent exhibition catalogue and read a few of the contextual essays?  Did the articles in the peer-reviewed journal Third Text appear in your searches?  Do you understand the difference between keywords and subject terms? (see here).

And what are you doing to your mind if you don't read full works and don't follow the logic of an argument from start to finish?  What if you can't assess the quality of a source, its perspective, or the credibility of individual arguments, because it is presented to you in a stream of Internet pages?.   What if you think a blogger has the same status as academic research? And what about all those sources that are full of wisdom that are not specifically related to your search terms???  What if you can't recall anything you've read from the mash-up of Internet sources?  What if the closest you have come to reading any key text is a a summary in a textbook such as Fifty Key texts in art history or worse a gloss of it on Spark Notes.

Digital culture is oriented towards information and the database; it is about harnessing vast quantities of data.  It is about speed.  There is a flattening out of traditional hierarchies.  It is less focussed on longer forms of analysis and discussion, and of authority, selection, and discrimination; and despite its breadth, what you tend to get is the specific.  It pushes you towards less but more focussed reading, less analysis, and more citation.  One can see the development of a kind of scavenger scholarship with more reliance on using breadth of references as 'evidence' rather than relying on strength of argument and analysis.  Even within the journals within library and information science I read articles that go something like this: “There is increasing evidence that Giraffes are lovely (Snavely, 2012, Smith 1999, Enfield, 2002, Zimbardo 2013, Paltrow, 2014)”).  Am I supposed to read and assess the evidence in these references?  Or are we to suppose that because a reference is in a peer reviewed journal, of whatever quality, it must be true?.  I am sick of articles with as many references as a PhD!.  Digital culture encourages people to cut and paste in preference to thinking; it encourages a combination of tunnel vision, and chaotic distraction. Social media just adds to the problem!

I know.  Its not all bad.  If you know what you're doing.  But, as argued by Hayles, Brabazon, Carr and others there needs to be a counterbalance - an appreciation of the different cultures of reading; one based in the traditions of print - slow, in depth, analytical - and one based in the digital world.  They are not mutually exclusive - you can have print culture online, and online culture in print.  We must live with both.  There is a need to encourage depth of understanding.  I see us like acrobats on a high-wire, stretched between the two cultures - print and digital. To situate yourself in either one is a mistake.

Further reading

Brabazon, T. (2013).  Digital dieting; from information obesity to intellectual fitness.  Ashgate

Carr, N. G. (2011).  The shallows; how the Internet is changing the way we think and remember.  Atlantic Books.

Hayles, K. (2012).  How we think; digital media and contemporary technogenesis. The University of Chicago Press.

Mann, T. (2001). The importance of books, free access, and libraries as places—and the dangerous inadequacy of the information science paradigm. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 27(4), 268-281. doi:

Muir, L. J. and Hawes, G., 2013.  The Case for E-book Literacy: Undergraduate Students' Experience with E-Books for Course Work. Journal of Academic Librarianship 39 (2013), pp. 260-274 DOI 10.1016/j.acalib.2013.01.002

Staiger, J. (2012).  How E-books are used; a literature review of the E-book studies conducted from 2006 to 2011.  Reference & User Services Quarterly, 51 (4).  American Library Association. doi:

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Reduce your file size for Blackboard / Turnitin

Issues can occur when students try to upload large essays/files to Bb and Turnitin.

Here are some guides to help reduce file size: 

Reducing the file size in Word & PowerPoint (converting to PDF)

Reducing file size in PowerPoint

Reducing file size in Word

Thursday, 16 January 2014

BL releases over 1 million images onto Flickr Commons

The British Library have released over a million images onto Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix or repurpose.  More information here.