Last, but not least in our series of Open Index stories, we hear from Knowledge for All's Founding Director, Mark Leggott on the challenges and opportunities for better access to scholarly journal literature.
Full Name: Mark Leggott
Organization: University of Prince Edward Island and Knowledge for All
Title: University Librarian and Founding Director
Knowledge for All Username: mleggott
Role in the Knowledge for All Project: Director
As an academic librarian, it is my job to support users with sufficient access to resources and relevant literature to help them succeed - unfortunately this is a job made increasingly difficult due to consistently skyrocketing subscription costs for indexes and journals, and an absence of tools that are truly accessible and functional. It’s become a strenuous environment for libraries and librarians who continue to struggle with limited resources and more and more limitations being placed on their ability to serve their patrons well. This has major implications beyond just the library - we are setting a dangerous precedent for how we approach knowledge-sharing more broadly and for the ways that knowledge products, a lot of times public knowledge products, are shared and accessed. Our actions are saying that knowledge should only be available only to those who can pay the fees. The upside is that we are facing these challenges at a time when incredible opportunities to do things differently exist - as the movements around open access, open data and open source continue to grow and things like crowd-sourcing gain credibility, it’s in our hands to set a new precedent. This is what Knowledge for All represents.
My Vision for Change
As an open source/open data advocate I see tremendous opportunity to use the power of the Internet and human networks to do what no single company can do or sustain. An index to all scholarly knowledge is just a start, one that is inspired by the success of efforts like WIkipedia and other systems that show what a community can do when information is truly unfettered. My vision is to inspire others by giving them access to such information without barriers or expectations, and we hope that innovation will follow and produce new ideas and resources that were not previously possible.
Why I support Knowledge for All's Open Index
I created Knowledge for All to ensure that publicly funded knowledge is available to everyone, regardless of affiliation or financial situation. The e-mail I remember most after launching Knowledge for All was from a young person who left high school before graduating, who lamented the loss of resources to continue his education, under his own power, on his own time. I give my time and resources to Knowledge for All because I believe that a dedicated group of people can change the status quo; can provide everyone the opportunity to improve their situation.
After a brief interlude to share our wireframes, we return to our Open Index story series. Today we hear from David John Evans, System Development Coordinator at Knowledge for All.
In my experience of developing Web applications for academic libraries and archives, I have found that while open software sounds attractive in theory, often in practice there will be external factors which prevent institutions exploiting its advantages.
Many decision makers within academic circles will have a hands-off approach to information technology. Open source solutions in particular tend to have a hard time coming up against institutional inertia, with a pervasive attitude of "if we pay for it, it must be good". Once an institution is "locked in", however, they find that the vendor pays considerably less attention to them and their needs, they receive little or no support, and deficiencies in service can go uncorrected for long periods of time.
As someone who is committed to the ideals of the open software movement, I want to be able to help organisations avoid these traps as they save valuable resources in time and money.
My Vision for Change
If we are going to stand any chance of wresting control of indexes from corporate interests, it is important that we don't exchange one tyrant for another. Providing data in reusable, interoperable formats must be part of any solution we propose.
The fact that a solution such as the Knowledge for All index originates from that same academic community as it aims to serve will be a key factor in accumulating goodwill and eventually uptake from institutions.
Why I support Knowledge for All’s Open Index
As financial pressures are being felt in the sector, every opportunity to embrace the benefits of open data should be encouraged. I believe Knowledge for All is the right idea at the right time, and one that can be the first step in changing the infrastructure of electronic publishing for the benefit of everyone in the academic community.
What does open access to scholarly journal literature look like?
As we continue our week-long salute to open access, we are very pleased to share a preview of the Knowledge for All tool. Visit our wireframes, now posted to http://www.k4all.ca/wireframes for a closer look at the tool's interface and core functionalities.
We invite you to join in and collaborate as we build it: share your feedback on our wireframes with a comment on the page (just click the Add new comment button) and visit http://www.k4all.ca/community to learn more about how you can participate in developing the Knowledge for All tool. If you are interested in contributing to software/system development, make sure to join our Technical Working Group.
Pictured above: The Knowledge for All frontpage. Click over to http://www.k4all.ca/wireframes to preview more of the Knowledge for All interface.
The second in our series of Open Index stories, Knowledge for All Project Manager Amanda Stevens shares her insights on access to scholarly journal literature.
Full Name: Amanda Stevens
Organization: Knowledge for All
Title: Project Manager
Knowledge for All Username: amanda
Role in the Knowledge for All Project: Staff
As a freelance, self-employed information management consultant, I find myself consistently doing research-oriented work without access to scholarly journal databases. I usually work for non-profit organizations that do not have the funds to pay for subscriptions to scholarly databases.
For me the issue is not so much access to full-text articles, as there is a fair amount of free and open access content available or I can purchase a single article from a publisher if needed, but rather access to a comprehensive search tool. Google Scholar is inadequate because it is not precise enough, and the only way for me to access subscription-based scholarly journal databases is to search on-site as a guest at an academic library. Even then, I have to search in multiple databases to find what I want and learn a new interface each time.
I usually end up borrowing login information from student friends so I can access databases from home, but I worry about a day when I don't have any more student friends. And I worry that on the whole non-profit organizations and other organizations with limited budgets are not getting access to research and data they need to deliver effective services and programming.
My Vision for Change
Ideally everyone will have barrier-free access to scholarly research, regardless of finances or institutional affiliation. This research is publicly funded and researchers provide articles to journal publishers for free, so there is no justification for ridiculously high content and database subscription fees.
I think the biggest challenge to realizing this vision is convincing libraries and researchers to take a risk by challenging commercial publishers and supporting open access alternatives. But with critical mass and cooperation, the vision is achievable.
Why I support Knowledge for All's Open Index
As the only comprehensive, interdisciplinary, open scholarly journal search tool, Knowledge for All provides a significant alternative to commercial databases and a useful compliment to the open access publishing movement's free full-text content. And Knowledge for All's collaborative development model ensures sustainability and relevance to the scholarly community.
The first in our Open Index story series, Knowledge for All Director Joe Velaidum shares his insights on challenges in access to scholarly journal literature. Share your story at http://www.k4all.ca/your-story.
Full Name: Joe Velaidum
Organization: University of Prince Edward Island and DiscoveryGarden Inc.
Title: Professor, and VP of DiscoveryGarden
Knowledge for All Username: jvelaidum
Role in the Knowledge for All Project: Board Member
As with almost every other academic, I was truly ignorant about the "business-side" of my academic publications. As a graduate student, we are all told that we must publish in order to get a tenured position, and the vast majority of us become professors in order to add to the body of knowledge in our respective fields. So we follow the rules, and try to publish as much as we can so that we can (a) find a job and (b) participate in our academic community. Most of us do not think about how our work is then indexed by large publishers, so little did I know what a stranglehold publishers have on my academic work, who has the opportunity to read it, and the tremendous fees they charge our institutions for indexing. Our universities are funded by the public for the public good, and research should be easily accessible to everyone. The more I became involved with libraries and librarians, the more I learned about how the current licensing fees worked, and the more concerned I became. As fewer options become available, prices publishers charge for their services can increase exponentially, and access to knowledge becomes threatened. This, to my mind, runs against the very idea of the university itself. Also, as I became involved in data asset management and open source technologies, I knew that there was a better alternative. This alternative would leverage the very best of collaborative tools, would save institutions massive amounts of money, and most importantly would ensure that knowledge is available for everyone!
My Vision for Change
I would like to see professors taking an active interest when they publish. They should know the terms their journal has put on their publication, and they should argue for open access to their work. Publishers should be made to account for the public money that is spent to produce academic scholarship, and should be required to ensure that all works be available to everyone at a reasonable price. They should also adopt new technologies that would enable them to lower their costs and partner with institutions to ensure that knowledge will be available to everyone - now, and in the future.
Why I support Knowledge for All's Open Index
I support Knowledge for All's Open Index because I know publishers will keep pushing their business model as far as they can until there is another alternative. Their subscription rates will continue to rise, making prohibitive for some institutions to access scholarly literature. We can, and will, show another, better, alternative. As a professor and a Vice-President of an open source data asset management company, I can bring expertise as a producer of academic knowledge and technical knowledge as to how we may build a better system for everyone.
It's almost here - the 5th annual Open Access Week kicks off tomorrow! Knowledge for All is thrilled to join in the global salute to open access this year with our own schedule of "Open Index Week" festivities. To start things off we've asked members of the Knowledge for All community to share their stories on the challenges they've faced with access to scholarly journal literature and their hopes for how Knowledge for All's open index might tackle them.
Stay tuned to our News area tomorrow for the first in our series of Open Index stories from Knowledge for All Director, Joe Velaidum. We invite you to share your own story as well at http://www.k4all.ca/your-story.
Lots more to come next week! For a full schedule of Open Index Week events visit http://www.k4all.ca/Open-Index-Week
Toronto, ON, Canada, October 11, 2011 -- With just short of a year of operations under its belt, Knowledge for All, the global project to open up scholarly journal literature, is on a fast track to transforming the way academic journal content is shared, discovered and accessed. What began as a bold response to unreasonably high subscription fee hikes for proprietary journal databases is now a coordinated effort to place scholarly journal literature at the fingertips of those who seek it - all at the much more reasonable price of, well, free. To celebrate year one of project development, Knowledge for All is hosting the first ever Open Index Week (visit www.k4all.ca/Open-Index-Week for a full event schedule) - a five day showcase of how far the project has come and where it will go next. A salute to the globally celebrated Open Access Week, the web-based event kicks off Oct 24th and invites universities, libraries, academics, researchers, students and the public at large to learn about the project, share their insights and join in the collaborative effort to open scholarly knowledge to everyone.
In ten months Knowledge for All has grown from innovative proposal to active venture. The project has attracted a passionate group of experts and practitioners from the international library and academic community to round out its Board of Directors and assembled a global team of staff to guide project development. Together, they’ve successfully launched the project into its initial Planning and Development Phase and developed a comprehensive Strategic Plan to chart the course toward product launch scheduled for November 2012 (the full Strategic Plan is published at http://www.k4all.ca/strategic-plan and invites public comments on its pages). “We’ve got a really committed team together with a lot of great energy building around the project - we look forward to having others join in and collaborate to grow it even further”, says Michelle Gruda, the project’s Engagement Coordinator in Toronto.
As an open, collaborative project, Knowledge for All represents an opportunity for all members of the international library and academic community, along with creators, managers and seekers of scholarly journal literature across the board, to take access to scholarly knowledge into their own hands. Over the last 15 years alone, the cost of journal subscriptions has increased by over 180% with rates for academic journal databases rising exponentially as well. Combined with funding cuts and dwindling resources for libraries and other curators of scholarly journal content, gaining access to the latest academic research and analysis has become an expensive game.
Knowledge for All is making an innovative play to change the rules. It’s proposed product is a single, comprehensive search tool for scholarly journal literature, free for anyone with an internet connection to access, use or customize. The project builds on the strengths of the open access, open data and open source movements to develop the first tool of its kind that connects seekers of scholarly journal literature across the globe with a comprehensive collection of published works.
Open Index Week will celebrate gains made over the last year toward the project’s vision for better access to scholarly journal literature and invites others to join in and participate as Knowledge for All moves from vision to reality. For a full schedule of Open Index Week events visit www.k4all.ca/Open-Index-Week and register to get involved in the Knowledge for All project at http://www.k4all.ca/get-involved.
As Knowledge for All gears up for Phase 2 of project development, Board Members and Staff have been busy drafting a Strategic Plan to guide activities moving forward. We are pleased to announce the Phase 2 Strategic Plan is now complete and posted to the project website at http://www.k4all.ca/strategic-plan.
As always, feedback is welcome and encouraged. Please share your insights, suggestions and questions by clicking the add a comment button on the Phase 2 Strategic Plan page or any related page. You can also connect directly with page authors by clicking on their hyperlinked name at the top of any page (e.g. Submitted by amanda on Mon, 03/21/2011 - 11:25). This will take you to their profile page where you can use the contact form to send a direct message.
If you would like to get involved in a particular aspect of project development addressed in the Strategic Plan, we invite you to join one of the project’s working groups. Participation is open to all institutions or individuals with expertise and insights to share in support of ongoing project development - just click to join and group and start collaborating!
Knowledge for All is hiring a full-time term System Development Coordinator to develop a prototype article database and related technological infrastructure using the Islandora digital asset management framework. The System Development Coordinator will also provide technical support to the project as needed, which could include data harvesting, website development, and installation and maintenance of software.
See the full job posting for more details.
In July we had the privilege of attending and presenting on the Knowledge for All project at the Open Knowledge Conference in Berlin. Attended by an exciting mix of people dedicated to opening up access to content and data in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, the conference offered 2 days packed with stimulating presentations and workshops on a wide range of topics. Our presentation of Knowledge for All's working content, technology, and governance models garnered a great deal of excitement, as well as useful feedback and suggestions. In addition to presenting, the highlight was connecting with people working on the Open Knowledge Foundation's working group on Open Bibliography, who are doing similar work on collecting and opening up bibliographic data and would like to work together and share resources. Our presentation is attached below.