Archive for: August, 2010

Friday foolery: Save us, Digiman!

Aug 13 2010 Published by under Miscellanea

I am a huge nerd, I love cartoons, and I couldn't get by in life if I didn't laugh at myself and what I do a lot. (You may have noticed.) For those reasons, the über-colorful, über-cheeseball Team Digital Preservation series from Digital Preservation Europe is one of my favorite things ever.

The latest in the series was just announced, though it turned up on YouTube a couple months ago:

But don't just catch the latest; watch them all!

And while you're at it, why not take a few moments to think about your individual historical legacy and what you might want to do to preserve that?

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The Culture of Swag

Aug 12 2010 Published by under How Libraries Work

I am in the midst of obtaining more information from Nature regarding questions raised by my recent post and from commenters, which I hope to share soon.

While the economics of publishing are hard to ignore, the economics of marketing play just as large a role in scholarly communications. Where and to whom are publishers directing their marketing efforts? Are they marketing to me (the librarian), the scientist/researcher who submits articles, or their readers (who may be neither)?

One message is the marketing tone and expectations set at conferences and in professional practice. Publishers at library conferences gave (or used to give away, before the economy tanked)  a LOT of swag, gifts, parties, and the like. I can go into more detail but trust me - its like a Mardi Gras parade with the office supplies and tchotckes. This "culture of swag" is a pervasive and omnipresent part of the conference experience. It's almost impossible to attend a conference and not receive any swag. Is this a good thing?

In the past swag was a way to entice and retain customers for loyalty to a product or vendor. Most of the library content we buy today, after many rounds of budget cuts, fits into several categories. The first category are new products that we'd like to buy but can't afford. Swag can't change my mind in this scenario. The second category contains products which are only available from one source or required for a program accreditation, like Scifinder Scholar, so swag is wasted effort there as well. The last major category, vendors who provide similar services or products who might need swag to show their competitive advantage, is getting smaller all the time. The last two years have experienced many mergers by a select number of vendors (Proquest, OCLC, and EBSCO in most cases). In some casess swag might be effective, but these major players have all created fiefdoms of overpriced content and have bought out many competitors which might innovate within the market. Some of my peers have written in great detail about these three vendors and some of their business practices in their blogs, so I'll skip the details.  

Scientists and researchers buy a lot of content and equipment too, at least in the field of chemistry. What's interesting is that the marketing effort, or culture of swag, takes on a different tone. Prestige, visibility, and influence is the swag of choice. Publishing/refereering/editorial services will make you more influential among your peers, provide greater visibility for your work, and make sure your articles get published in the best journals. This kind of swag is less visible but no less tangible than a mousepad or T-shirt. And deep down I think many scientists know they are being given the swag to provide free refereeing, editing, or journal content if they get an article accepted.  Just like in libraryland its hard to attend a professional science conference meeting and not see this swag too. Scientific professional societies practice this form of swag as well, although the message is more easily disguised as service to the profession and enhancing the prestige of the profession rather than the individual. And in my opinion its as pervasive and omnipresent there as in library culture.

The problem is that this newer culture of sharing, disseminating, and distributing information (open access, open data, open source, open notebook science) doesn't rely on the culture of swag, at least as a traditional purchasing or behavorial tool. How can a publisher persuade me with swag if there's no subscription costs or the journal costs are underwritten from other sources than the library? How can this same publisher use the prestige/visibility/influence argument on a researcher when you can write a blog post that more peers can read than a peer-reviewed journal article? What if I can see how many people have read my article or blog post, accessed the data I've collected for a series of experiments, shared their data with mine, and I can then collaborate with them pre and post publication to correct mistakes, share additional insights, and improve upon the original concept or methodology? What if I can have my work openly reviewed by my peers, eliminating the fear of being scooped on an idea or denied credit for a major breakthrough or discovery, and have this approach considered valid for promotion and tenure in the academy? This environment strips away the artifice and destroys the culture of swag.

So keep the swag in mind when you make decisions on supporting a product or publishing and sharing your research results with peers. You might not be able to say no every time, or influence the giver that it's a waste of time. But its a start.

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Where are libraries in data curation?

Aug 12 2010 Published by under How Libraries Work, Tactics

The Association for Research Libraries has a pretty good report out (I consider it JISC-quality, which is saying something for me) on where its member libraries are on e-science, cyberinfrastructure, data curation, whatever you want to call it.

I already knew most of what was in the report proper owing to having read the preliminary report (what, me, obsessed?), so the good stuff for me was in the case studies. I loved this blunt assessment from UCSD (paragraphing and emphasis mine):

At present, there are three primary pressure points related to e-science/e-research support at UCSD: turf, money, and interest. In reverse order, with the exception of a few very high-end data generators amongst the faculty, e-science/research lifecycle management is not high on the list of faculty concerns.

  • The NSF’s best efforts notwithstanding, most researchers, at least locally, have been slow to wake to the data challenge. They seem to think, to the extent they think about it at all, that they’ve already got it covered or that they lack the funds to cover it and, therefore, it should be somebody else’s problem.
  • As a consequence, this campus at least, has committed funds for providing the infrastructure and services necessary to curate data for the long-term, in the hope, frankly, that sufficient faculty (and students, but mostly faculty) will avail themselves of both to make the enterprise self-sustaining. That’s the good news; the bad news is that it has committed only those funds and only with the understanding that the enterprise will become self-sustaining. Whether that proves to be the case remains to be seen of course.
  • Finally, there is an awfully large number of parties interested in what remains a still-ill-defined problem space. The associated ‘jostling’ makes calculating the right mix of those parties in the solution space doubly challenging.

What I hear through the grapevine suggests that the above is true at many more places than UCSD.

I would add to this that "self-sustaining" is an incidence of the "them that has the gold gets the services" anti-pattern. Grant-funded research does not produce all data worthy of note. I'm all in favor of earmarks from grants, don't mistake me—I just worry quite a lot that data services will exclude all but the well-funded.

As I read through the case studies, what struck me was that these are stories of pioneering individuals given lots of freedom and enough support to use it. I applaud those individuals (indeed, I know several of them personally), and I love what they're doing. I just—well, I'm a worrywart. I worry about them too. They're heroes, and just as in programming, one can't sustain an enterprise indefinitely on heroes. (We tried that, as I am rather tired of saying, with IRs and their maverick managers. It didn't work, unless by "work" you mean "burn out good people uselessly.")

So when do we move past the hero model of data curation? When will it be mainstreamed? I genuinely wonder.

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Disrupting with data

Aug 12 2010 Published by under Tactics

Fellow Scientopian DrugMonkey exults at the downfall of "supplemental materials" in a favorite journal. Also-fellow-Scientopian Christina wonders if that's an outlier or a trend harbinger.

Let's sit back and think about this. (What, you thought I was going to panic? Or go all spittle-flecked Data Are The Future How Dare They rabid? Nah, I'm good.)

One conclusion that jumps out at me is that the journal in question discovered that its processes didn't handle data well. This doesn't surprise me; handling data well is rather difficult, especially in these wild-west standardsless days. Rather than learn how, the journal bailed on it altogether. As a librarian with a strong interest in data management, that cheers me up remarkably, and I dearly hope more journals follow suit. As a librarian with a strong interest in Clayton-Christensen-disrupting the current journal universe, it cheers me even more.

See, one of the lesser-known bits of Christensen's market-disruption pattern is that the disrupting force needs to start out by "competing against nonconsumption." You can't take on the incumbent on its own turf; the incumbent will eat your lunch and you for dessert. (What's the lesson for institutional repositories here? Starting with peer-reviewed journal articles was a doomed strategy, that's what. Those are the crown jewels. The incumbents own those.) You have to find something else to work with, something unused or underserved that the incumbents turn up their august noses at—a low-end market, a different raw material—establish a market beachhead there, and expand your beachhead over time.

Well, isn't it interesting that a journal just turned up its nose at research data. Why, yes. Yes, it is. And now perhaps you see why I think that was a strategic mistake by the journal. Short-term, sure, it'll make their lives easier. Long-term, it gives us disruptive librarians an in, if we've got the will to take it.

Another interesting tidbit is how researchers were using supplemental materials to bolster their arguments. They weren't reluctantly turning this stuff over to the journal because the journal or their funder insisted. They thought their data helped their case—even, as DrugMonkey darkly hints, if only by snowing reviewers under with hard-to-interpret evidence. Are they going to stop thinking this suddenly? I wonder.

The paradigm case for data citation standards is giving credit to third parties for data they produced that you used. I wonder if that's the wrong case, large though it looms in the minds of nervous researchers who don't want to be scooped. Surely what's more likely at first is researchers wanting to cite their own data in a publication, wherever those data happen to be housed. That's how one gets around the stunt this journal just pulled, if one truly believes in one's data.

And this, Peter Murray-Rust, is partly why I believe institutions are not out of the data picture yet. The quickest, lowest-friction data-management service may well reside at one's institution. It's not to be found at a picky, red-tape-encumbered, heavily quality-controlled disciplinary data service on the ICPSR model, which is the model most disciplinary services I know of use. It's certainly possible, even likely, that data will migrate through institutions to disciplinary services over time, and I have no problem with that whatever—but when the pressure is on to publish, I suspect researchers will come to a local laissez-faire service before they'll put in the work to burnish up what they've got for the big dogs. (Can institutional data services disrupt the big-dog disciplinary data services? Interesting question. I don't know. I think a lot depends on how loosely-coupled datasets can be. Loose coupling works better for some than others.)

Finally, of course, we have further indication that the peer-review system is breaking down under load. (Professor In Training has an amusing growl that is yet further indication.) I haven't anything to say about that that Christina isn't better-placed to talk about; I'm just pointing to yet more evidence.

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Avoiding embarrassment via open data

Aug 11 2010 Published by under Praxis

Melody has a fantastic post on the Marc Hauser cooking-the-data-books scandal. I won't even recap; just go read it.

Individual researchers' cavils aside, science has a fairly compelling reason to push for open (or at least opener) data: turning away the Hausers of this world before they start gaming the system, as well as catching them before they turn into immense embarrassments. How much hay gets made over these scandals by anti-intellectual science-haters? "Any" is too much, but I'm guessing it's a lot.

No, of course open data is not a panacea, and human-subjects data particularly is sensitive and hard to make open—but even "openness to reviewers" can only help.

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Cautionary tale of change

Aug 09 2010 Published by under How Libraries Work

So it's been a fascinating and productive day here in Los Angeles; I've thoroughly enjoyed myself, and had my brain rattled in useful ways.

The day's final presentation, from Elisabeth Leonard, was all about change and change management in libraries. As she said, practically everything else that was said today (certainly by me!) fed into that theme.

I found myself thinking about the end of Neil Gaiman's Sandman (and no, I won't apologize for spoilers on this one). The plot of The Kindly Ones offers any number of hints—well, sometimes not hints, sometimes more like two-by-fours over the head—that Morpheus is not only allowing but orchestrating his own demise. At Morpheus's funeral, the librarian Lucien is asked why—why would Morpheus do that? Why did he die?

"Charitably," Lucien answers, "I think… sometimes, perhaps, one must change or die. And in the end, there were, perhaps, limits to how much he could let himself change."

I wonder how much that is true of libraries, particularly as we confront the challenges that scholarly communication and research-data management present us. (I wonder how much it's true of scholarly publishers, too. We certainly aren't the only profession in this boat.)

And in my very low, very discouraged moments (which are thankfully rather fewer of late), I wonder whether we should reach for the life preserver or the wrecking ball.

Anyway, I promised my slidedeck with speaker's notes, so here it is:

So are we winning yet?

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Friday foolery: The Dude abides (and seeks information)

Aug 06 2010 Published by under Miscellanea

One genre of academic literature in information science is the "information-seeking behavior" genre, often with an "of X" attached. I find this literature beyond useless for the most part, though some early work on underserved communities had its place, and I do know people making very sharp observations on changes in information seeking among researchers.

Despite my distaste for the genre, though, I have to love this preprint, if only for the utterly puerile amusement of seeing the PDF filename in my browser bar…

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Librariansplaining: The controlled vocabulary

Aug 05 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Fellow Scientopian Christina Pikas posted an examination of Stack Overflow's motion toward a controlled tagging vocabulary. Toward the end, she made me grin:

Ok, one of my ongoing jokes is how CS keeps reinventing LIS (well indeed they’ve taken over the term “information science” in some places) – so now Stack Overflow has reinvented taxonomy (not quite a thesaurus though, right, because no BT or NT just UF and U, lol)

A lot of librarians, me not least, grumble "we told y'all so" when we see computer science reinventing our wheels. What this means, of course, is that librarians haven't done nearly good enough a job explaining our wheels.

This is what Book of Trogool's "Jargon" category is all about. I mean to rename it to "Librariansplaining" (I'm sure Zuska or Janet will explain the coinage, if it isn't obvious already) as soon as I can sort out how to do that without borking category links.

And now I'm going to librariansplain about controlled vocabularies, and explain Christina's in-joke. It may help you to read some of the earlier posts in this category first:

In those posts, I talked about how librarians divide up the world of knowledge into teensy-tiny slivers of "aboutness" in order to help lead you from one item of interest to another. One of the pieces of dividing up knowledge is naming the slivers. When you start doing that, as Christina noted, you run into some human-language problems really quickly:

  • Synonymy. Istanbul or Constantinople? It's our business, as well as the Turks'.
  • Homonymy. I say "bat." Do you say "Chiroptera" or "baseball"? And if librarians decide to use the word for the baseball apparatus, what should we do so that the Chiroptera-fanciers can find stuff they want?
  • Terminology change. Nobody calls it a "horseless carriage" any more. To make matters worse, the first name something new gets is often not the name that sticks. Social changes also loom large here; some of the cruft that can accumulate in a naming system is kyriarchical cruft.
  • Granularity. Knowledge is infinitely divisible. Naming systems have to decide at what level separate names are warranted. It can also help to indicate relationships up and down the granularity chain; for example, one could call "weblogs" a subcategory of "social software." Or not.

So when librarians "control a vocabulary," we come up with a naming system that avoids the above pitfalls as much as we can manage.

Various types of controlled vocabularies exist; I don't propose to describe them all here. Instead, I'll describe the type that Christina was referring to: the thesaurus. (No, not the synonym dictionary. This is different. Hang with me while I explain.)

Thesauri cope with granularity by establishing "broader-term" and "narrower-term" relationships between terms. So in an entry for "Social software" you might see "NT: weblog, wiki, social-networking service." Likewise, in a "Weblog" entry you may well see "BT: social software." This doesn't absolve the vocabulary-builder of the responsibility to choose the granularity of terms wisely, but it does help.

Homonymy and synonymy are often dealt with via "use" and "use for" relationships. If a vocabulary-builder decides that Istanbul is the preferred term, the entry for it will probably include "UF: Constantinople." Likewise, Constantinople's entry will say "U: Istanbul." This can also help with terminology change sometimes: an entry for "Automobile" might contain "UF: Horseless carriage."

As for "bat," controlled vocabulary terms often have "scope notes" that help to disambiguate homonyms and explain the intended granularity for the term. A scope note would make clear that "bat" for purposes of this vocabulary means the thing you smash a homer over the left-field fence with.

The last relationship between terms that thesauri include is the "related term," which is exactly as vague as it sounds. In an entry for "bat" you might see "RT: Baseball." These have to be used sparingly and with care, or we risk sending you off on wild-goose chases; in some way or other, almost everything is related to almost everything else.

So now I have librariansplained the thesaurus, and you understand Christina's joke. The last thing I'll add is that many library journal-article databases use thesauri underneath. The user-interface for them, however, is appallingly, stunningly bad in the implementations I know. Better UI ideas would be extremely welcome.

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What do librarians need to know about how you communicate?

Aug 04 2010 Published by under How Libraries Work

So this weekend I'm off to California to give a short talk aimed at helping the Electronic Resources and Libraries conference think about its programming. I've been asked to talk about scholarly communication, institutional repositories, and open access (surprise, surprise).

My slidedeck is done, though I'm still tweaking patter:

So are we winning yet?

I'll post a version with patter after the talk, but for now, I thought I'd throw this out for discussion: What do you, scientists, want librarians to know about how you communicate with other scientists? Where do you feel uncertain about the process? Where do you think it's coming up short? Do you think the process should change, and if so, how and how not?

I'm aware that librarians get stuck in our own thought-bubbles just like everybody else—I myself am certainly no exception. Here's a stab at bursting the bubble.

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Nature - the rebuttal/defense

Aug 03 2010 Published by under Open Access

Just as the excitement was heating up on the recent House hearings on open access to research results, I got an email from Nature to its customers earlier today. As an institutional subsciber to some of their journals, I along with many of my peers got to read directly from Steven Inchcoombe, Managing Director of the Nature Publishing Group about the current status of costs and what to expect for 2011. 

I have to admit I've become hardened in my old age to these letters - in most cases they are thinly veiled attempts to explain corporate decisions that have backfired with customers or are unpopular for some reason. Why else would someone write such a letter? The only other time I get emails from a publisher is when there is a training webinar for a new interface, a new book alert, or the occassional Holiday greeting from a sales rep.

But I digress - I'll pull out the highlights and give some commentary from my perspective.

As expected Inchcoombe begins with the mission of NPG:

NPG’s core mission has always been to serve the interests of science and scientists. We do this best by focusing on Nature's 1869 mission to communicate the most important and valuable scientific information to the broadest possible audience.

I won't argue with this but rather suggest others besides scientists read the publications and have a stake in the costs and publishing models.  Shouldn't NPG consider this broader audience to become more successful? Isn't creating ever smaller subsets of specialized titles contradictory to the original 1869 mission? 

Apparently not, as at the end of the letter we see there are two more Nature titles slated for introduction in 2011:

In 2011, two new interdisciplinary journals will join the Nature family. Launching in April, Nature Climate Change will publish exceptional original research across the physical and social sciences, and will be the first Nature journal to publish peer-reviewed content from the social sciences community. Nature Biomedical Engineering, launching in October 2011, will strive to become a forum to bring biologists and engineers together, publishing research covering the wide scope of biomedical engineering. 

This is in addition to other recently released new titles from NPG, of which Inchcoombe was happy to remind us: 

In April this year we introduced Nature Communications, an online-only, multidisciplinary ‘hybrid’ journal, with subscription and open access options. We have been delighted with the community response. Nature Communications celebrated its 1000th submission in July, and will publish more than 100 articles this year. To date, there has been a 40% take up of the journal’s open access option.


In January we launched the open access journal Cell Death & Disease. This was followed in July by Nutrition & Diabetes, and Clinical & Translational Gastroenterology, with more launching later this year.

And lest we forget, Nature has also acquired content from other publishers, bringing the NPG prestige and brand to their names:

Now that Scientific American is fully integrated into NPG, it has been a year of development and investment in the magazine’s future. We have had to take some challenging and unpopular decisions with respect to institutional pricing, and we’ve had some critical feedback from the library community. Overall the magazine is now stronger, and we are investing heavily in its development. Mariette DiChristina was warmly welcomed as Scientific American’s new Editor-in-Chief, supported by newly-appointed Executive Editor Fred Guterl and an expanded board of advisors.


Seven journals published by NPG on behalf of societies offer open access options, with more expected to follow later this year.

The letter also mentions pricing models and financial information, of course, so we can learn straight from the source on the recent pricing promises and changes for upcoming year:

 Two years ago we announced we would keep increases on NPG-owned journals below 7% for 2009, 2010 and 2011 list prices, and we have delivered on this promise. Nevertheless, there has been extensive discussion about NPG’s 2010 and 2011 price increases in recent months. Unfortunately and despite our efforts, confusion has arisen between list prices and volume discounts for consortia. So let me be clear; on site licenses for NPG-owned journals there was a 3.5% increase from 2009 list price to 2010 list price. The 2011 list price increase for NPG-owned journals will be 4.5%.  List prices for society journals are set independently in consultation with individual societies. Site license list pricing for academic customers will be published shortly on the NPG Librarian Gateway.

While the percentage increases may sound reasonable, the actual cost paid by each institution is not public, nor (to the best of our knowledge) is it the same for all insitutions. So a customer paying more will have a larger increase. I would respond to Nature that since I don't know what others are paying, how can I know I'm getting a fair price? In the past when I've called our sales rep for ejournal site license costs they have asked for FTE information on our campus and responded with a price quote. To my knowledge no other vendor makes an ejournal subscription this secretive and private on each individual title. Most publishers will give any matter of bundled discounts for subscribing to multiple titles, but the price for one title is almost always listed publicly.

Next we learn future price increases will actually take effect before the year in question even begins, as they decribe further:

In 2010, prices will come into effect on 1 December for Nature-branded journals, and 1 September for academic and society journals. In 2011 and in future years, list prices will come into effect in on 1 October 2011 for all NPG titles. Therefore, 2012 list prices will come into effect on 1st October 2011, for both Nature-branded and NPG’s academic journals. This synchronizes the pricing cycle for all of the journals we publish.  We are announcing this change as early as possible to facilitate your budgeting process. We expect to announce 2012 list prices for NPG-owned journals in April 2011. Meanwhile, NPG will continue to quote prices locally in each of our four invoicing currencies (USD, GBP, EURO, YEN).

It's unclear from the letter if this early pricing scheme will have some overlap during implementation or if subscribers will be charged for one year of content without getting access for a full year. I'm assuming Nature will take the high road and give customers access to what they paid for, for the subscription term agreed upon. But I would check the license agreement carefully before signing. Let's also not forget the differential pricing for international currencies - NPG is not required by law (if I am correct) to follow the current exchange rates for converting money from euros to pounds to dollars and yen. Many a commerical publisher has scaled foreign currency subscription costs in the past to make more money from American insitutions when the US dollar was strengthening, using older weaker exchange rates to set their prices.  Has Nature done this? I don't know, because I only see a US dollar quote from them for ejournals. Again I cannot know if I'm being overcharged.

And, in case we're unclear about the importance of NPG journals,  there's information on the value:

We believe NPG publications continue to represent excellent value for money. Our Impact Factor results are an indicator of the quality, relevance and usage of our journals. They reflect our editors’ success at attracting, selecting and communicating the most important and valuable scientific information to the broadest possible audience, as well as the exceptional authors and referees that we are privileged to work with. Nature is the number one weekly science journal for the third consecutive year, and its 2009 Impact Factor is its highest ever (34.480). Perhaps more significantly, it is also the most highly cited science journal, with 483,039 citations in 2009. Nature leads a strong portfolio, with 15 journals ranking #1 in their categories, including Nature Geoscience, which received its first Impact Factor this year (8.108).

I understand there must be some metrics with which to measure quality. But within the scientific community there is increasing disagreement on whether journal impact factors are appropriate measures to judge the quality of science being produced. It would be helpful to see Nature share more information on alternative metrics such as article-level downloads, Eigenfactor rankings, author h-indexes of highest accessed articles, or any number of newer metrics that are more reflective of the author or the individual article. Other publishers, such as PLoS, are doing this and they've have been enthusiastically received by scientists.

Besides impact factors, Nature assures us they are aware of the trends in publishing, like Open Access:

Our open access program continues to be the focus of our growth. Open access options are now available on 50% of the 50 academic journals we publish, including all 15 academic journals owned by NPG.


We were one of the first publishers to reduce site license prices significantly to reflect open access uptake. The price reductions we implemented in 2009 were significantly greater in monetary value than the income from article processing charges. In keeping with our open access pricing policy, confirmed in March, the 2012 site license prices of all NPG-owned journals with an open access option will be based only on the amount of subscription content and the selectivity and level of developmental editing of the journal.

All well and good, and reasonable to scale subscription costs to reflect the amount of open access content. A brief glance at the current issues of Nature Neuroscience and Nature Cell Biology, however, doesn't give much information on which articles are open access and which are not. How am I to know? So lowering prices isn't helpful if I don't know how much content is OA and how much is from the subscription.

To be fair to Nature, they also provide deposition services for research output:

Our liberal self-archiving policy and free manuscript deposition service remain an important part of our open access offering and service to authors. Since July 2008, NPG has deposited over 2400 manuscripts in PubMed Central (PMC) and UKPMC.

While that's heartening news, a quick trip to see SHERPA/RoMEO's summary of archiving policies for Nature paints a slightly different story. SHERPA classifies Nature as a yellow publisher, as archiving of the publisher's version of the work is not permitted (the pre-refereed version can be archived.) This is slightly more restrictive than the blue (can archive post-print (ie final draft post-refereeing) or publisher's version/PDF) or the green (can archive pre-print and post-print or publisher's version/PDF) categories. Nature does provide a six month embargo on content, which is encouraging.  A quick of several additional titles suggests the yellow category is uniform across titles from NPG.

Discouraged about this current state of affairs? You can look forward to more updates in the future:

Our work to enhance our two flagship titles continues. Over the past year we’ve been gathering feedback on Nature and Scientific American from reader panels and focus groups. Their input is helping us develop these products so that they remain essential resources for today’s reader, in every medium – print, online and mobile. We look forward to sharing more news of the changes we have planned later in the year.

So there you have it - I left out a paragraph about a new iphone app and an upcoming ipad app but that's pretty much everything of import.

Am I suprised? Not really. In an earlier post on my personal blog I wrote that "Nature is not your friend." I still think that while they are trying to show a good face on the surface, underneath money and profit are guiding the decision-making. Here's an excerpt from that post:

Anyway, why is Nature (or any commercial publisher, for that matter) not your friend? They are in business to make money, not ensure that you are productive and/or earn funding or increase your ROI. That new journal that looks tailored to your research program? It's another channel to produce revenue. That handy pre-print service? Another mechanism to acquire your research output.

My advice: always read the fine print and look more closely behind the press releases. There is always more information that gives a more complete picture. I could go on, like the $5,000 open access article charge for Nature Communications, or information that their preprints service, NaturePrecedings, does not guarantee your submitted content will be freely available in perpetuity, unlike the preprint servers not created by publishers, but I think you see the point. Nature is not (necessarily) your friend.

Note: The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and not those of her employer or institution.

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