Goodbye for now

The Scholarly Communication @ISU Libraries blog is closed but Scholarly Communication services continue at the Iowa State University Library.

Please see: for the most up to date information on what we’re up to and how to contact us.


New Heroes for the Next Presidency

Former Harvard Librarian Robert Darnton outlines a partnership between the newly appointed Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, and a (presumptive) new President Clinton, calling on them to join forces to “champion Open Access” and “restore the Public Domain” in a piece published on October 27, 2016 in The New York Review of Books.

Regardless of your politics, the piece is an interesting read that examines how the original purpose of many of our nation’s laws have strayed from their original purpose over the years leading to the current landscape of pay-to-access knowledge.


Taking a Principled stance – the Scholarly Commons — Unlocking Research

A thoughtful and thought provoking summary of the recent FORCE11 Scholarly Commons Workshop from Dr. Danny Kingsley (Cambridge). The section on outreach may be of particular interest to Landgrant researchers or those looking to understand, or improve, their research’s Broader Impacts.

We were meeting to discuss the draft of 18 Principles of the Commons – an attempt to define what the community considers the attributes and behaviours of a person who is fully participating in research. The Principles are broadly separated into four major themes of being Open, Equitable, Sustainable and Research & Culture Driven.

via Taking a Principled stance – the Scholarly Commons — Unlocking Research

Elsevier patents online peer review

Making waves in the scholarly communication world this week is the news that Elsevier has been awarded a U.S. patent for “online peer review system and method”. I admit, when I first saw this, I thought it had to be a joke. Turns out it’s not. You can see the patent for yourself at U.S. Patent: Online peer review system and method (U.S. Patent No. 9,430,468).

While it’s too early to tell exactly how this will play out and Elsevier has denied any nefarious plans, the news has raised a number of concerns among advocates for open access and open source publishing, mostly regarding how the patent will be enforced (if it can be enforced at all) and what it might mean for scholars as well as smaller publishers.

Considering Elsevier’s often negative reputation, it probably isn’t much of a surprise that the patent has been met with a fair bit of suspicion.

If you’re curious, recent articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education and InfoDocket give more information.

New guide: Understanding Predatory Publishers

As with all industries, academic publishing isn’t all smiles and rainbows, it has its share of spam and scams. I’d only been at my job at Iowa State for about 3 months before I got an email inviting me to submit an article to a journal only referred to by a three-letter acronym. My warning bells went off – and rightly so – the email was from a predatory publisher.

A predatory publisher is an opportunistic publishing venue that exploits the academic need to publish but offers little reward for those using their services.

It’s not always easy but usually five minutes of investigation is enough to know if the publisher is a legitimate business that values academic research or one that’s just looking to make a profit. To help others with this process I recently published a Library guide called Understanding Predatory Publishers. The guide works in tandem with the guide on Journal Evaluation Tools which provides resources on how to look up rankings like Journal Impact Factors, SCImago stats, publishing frequency, and more.

As a disclaimer: each author needs to decide for themselves what they expect from their publisher. As a librarian, my bar may be a little higher than most, so take the advice offered as a starting point, not an end point.



A preprints server for chemistry

Not to be outdone by other preprint archives that have been announced in the past few months, the American Chemical Society (ACS) has announced plans to establish a preprint server for chemistry: chemRxiv. ChemRxiv will follow in the footsteps of arXiv and other preprint servers in hosting publicly available, pre-peer review copies of papers and data.

While details, including a potential launch date, are scarce at this point, ACS is currently “in the process of inviting interested stakeholders to participate in helping to shape the service ahead of its anticipated launch.”

Some scholarly communication updates from the world of engineering:

This past weekend saw the launch of engrXiv, “a free, open access, open source archive for engineering research and design” which accepts and provides access to preprints in all disciplines of engineering.

Working with the Center for Open Science, engrXiv will “provide access to not just engineering papers but also important engineering assets such as data, code, and design and computational models. It will also provide an environment for public peer review of these engineering assets.”

engrXiv follows in the same vein as the well-known, and the more recently announced bioRxiv and SocArXiv.  engrXiv’s steering committee notes the site is intended to be pronounced “Engineering Archive,” and that going to will redirect you to engrXiv.

Learn more at


The Electrochemical Society (ECS), a small, nonprofit society which focuses on energy storage, clean energy, and clean water, has embarked upon a mission to make all their content open access without charging author or reader fees.

Called Free the Science, this initiative plans to convert the entire ECS Digital Library to open access by 2024, and ECS will fund the access entirely themselves.

Learn more at,, or

OA as norm for EU in 2020

European Union is off to a busy summer. ARS Technica reports that EU research ministers have published a commitment to make “open access to scientific publications as the option by default by 2020.”


Read more here:

Elsevier buys SSRN, and some good news!

Elsevier acquired SSRN for an undisclosed figure.

Nature makes a good point: In an environment where more and more is available free online, “Elsevier is starting to attract more academics to its sites by providing services such as online scholarly social networks and preprint servers.”

That being said, this is a great resource for visualizing scholarly communication workflows, from start to finish.

If you click on the “Datacards” tab you can select different workflow collections. For example, Elsevier. This will show you Elsevier products that can be used in each step of the process. The great thing, Open Science is also an collection. Also, under the “Datacards” tab you will find all 101 tools listed. Clicking on the tool will bring you to a page with more information (example: Paperity)

Elsevier can’t buy everything—and even more than that, open source developers have a plethora of open scientists/scholars with a plethora of needs.