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

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.



Why did I choose those journals to publish in?

Palaeontologist, and PhD candidate at Imperial College, Jon Tennant breaks down ten papers published 10 different ways, all of which have Open Access copies available.

What I want to provide here are reasons for the choices I made of where to publish in order of time throughout my PhD, and the associated costs with that. Indicated costs are the APCs, or article processing charges, unless stated otherwise.

Source: Why did I choose those journals to publish in?

Can Fair Use apply to data? – Fair Use Week 2016

Did you know that data cannot be copyrighted?  It’s true, data is factual, not creative and as and such it falls outside the bounds of U.S. copyright law. This means you can’t expect the same types of protection, or restrictions when it comes to data. And yet… You can get in hot water for republishing someone else’s data, why is this?

It has to do with an important nuance in U.S. copyright law: facts cannot be copyrighted but their “representations” can be. The most common types of data representations are tables, charts, and graphs. Animations, videos, and audio sequences can also be data representations but the 2-D types are far more common. These data representations are considered to have a creative element and are subject to copyright as compilations. Nacy Sims (@CopyrightLibn), University Copyright Librarian for the University of Minnesota, does a great job of explaining this in the video “Making Decisions About Your Research Data.”

There’s another important piece of copyright law to be aware of in regards to data representations. If you’re lucky enough to have access to the data used to create a representation you can create your own, new, data representation to which you’ll hold the copyright. This is a way out of situations where you need to reuse one of your own data representations in a new publication but no longer own the copyright to the original. Instead of seeking permission from the copyright holder (usually a publisher) you can generate a new data representation, just make sure it’s different enough to not infringe on the original.

Sadly in many cases creating a new representation isn’t possible because the underlying data hasn’t been shared. This is just one of the many reasons why data sharing is important – data hoarding hampers research. If you find yourself without the data needed to create a new representation then you will need to rely on the Four Factors of Fair Use (or seek reuse permission from the copyright holder).

President Obama Nominates Dr. Carla Hayden for Librarian of Congress

Breaking news for Fair Use Week! President Obama just announced his nomination for Librarian of Congress: Dr. Carla Hayden.

If confirmed, Dr. Hayden will have a lot of “firsts” under her belt. She’ll be the first woman, first African-American, the first to enter the office with a 10-year term limit, and  the first to enter the office knowing that most work is produced, shared, and stored, digitally.  This is important because the duties of the Librarian of Congress include determining if a work is subject to DMCA prohibitions regarding technological access protection and also makes decisions related to the Fair Use of digital works.

Translation: the right to jailbreak your iPhone, remove DRM from old technology, digitize old videos, etc. are part of the Librarian of Congress’s duties.

President Obama’s introduction to Dr. Hayden was posted today on the White House blog.


NIH Compliance in Four Steps

This great infographic breaks down a complicated process into easy to follow steps
– Megan

Librarian Design Share

In 2013, when the National Institute of Health began enforcing its Public Access Policy to withhold or delay federal grant funding if peer-reviewed publications were not submitted to PubMed Central (PMC), it caused a great stir in the world of researchers and in the academic and medical library community.

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Open Access publishing discounts and more

The Office of Scholarly Communication is happy to announce the availability of a new web page that provides details on Open Access publication discounts available to Iowa State University affiliates.

The University Library is an active supporter of Open Access publishing. We work with publishers and other organizations to provide discounts to our researchers and scholars. We look for memberships that are equatable, affordable, and practical – ones that are a good balance of cost and community benefit.

While investigating the details of the discounts we also learned of a fantastic new journal that is currently waiving all article processing charges: Royal Society Open Science.

We’re excited about this journal because it embraces a lot of wonderful Open Access principles.  All articles will be published immediately online after acceptance and carry a CC-BY 4.0 license. RS Open Science will also provide article metrics, optional open peer-review and support of open-data. All in all pretty impressive! It’s unclear how long the APC waiver will be in effect but if you have an article ready to submit you may want to consider RS Open Science.