Upcoming Discussion on The Cost of Textbooks

On Thursday, October 23 from noon to 1 p.m. in the University Student Center, the Poynter Library and USFSP Student Government will be sponsoring a panel discussion on the Rising Cost of Textbooks : What’s the Answer? There will be four panelists who will each be addressing the issue from a different perspective:

  • Mr. Jay Hartfield, Manager, USFSP Barnes & Noble Campus Bookstore (the bookstore perspective)
  • Dr. Han Reichgelt, Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, USFSP (the faculty and administrative perspective)
  • Ms. Tina Neville, Head of Library Research and Instruction, Poynter Library (the Library perspective)
  • Mr. Juan Salazar, Student Government Representative and Psychology Major
    (the student perspective)

I will take five minutes to introduce the topic and the panelists. Each panelist will then have five minutes to outline their perspective. After all panelists have spoken, those in attendance will be encouraged to share their comments and questions.

This discussion is one of a series of events being sponsored by the Poynter Library in commemoration of International Open Access Week and it is also one of the regular Lunch & Learn Series coordinated by the Division of Student Affairs. All students, faculty, and administrators will be invited and encouraged to share their experiences.


SHARE and Access to Research

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Association of American Universities (AAU), and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) have partnered to develop an initiative to ensure the preservation of, access to, and reuse of research. Called SHARE (SHared Access Research Ecosystem), the initiative is intended to “develop solutions that capitalize on the compelling interest shared by researchers, libraries, universities, funding agencies, and other key stakeholders to maximize research impact, today and in the future. SHARE aims to make the inventory of research assets more discoverable and more accessible, and to enable the research community to build upon these assets in creative and productive ways.” SHARE’s goal is to be a mechanism to increase open access to research data and to publications resulting from that research.

SHARE developed partially in response to the Obama administration’s February 2013 Policy Memorandum that called upon federal agencies with annual research and development budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with free and unlimited online access to the results of that research, including access to research data. With the federal government funding of billions of dollars in scientific research each year, there is a growing expectation that the results of this federally funded research will be openly and freely available to other researchers and to the general public in a timely manner in order to advance science and accelerate innovation, as well as lead to medical breakthroughs.

With the University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s renewed commitment to research, as articulated in the new Vision 20/20 strategic plan, it is critically important for USFSP’s faculty researchers to stay informed about all aspects of the open access movement and to understand their rights and responsibilities, especially if their research is funded by federal grant money. Through the USFSP Digital Archive, as well as through the research project being conducted on the management of research data at USFSP, the Library is positioned to assist College faculty in complying with federal funding guidelines.

To read more about the SHARE initiative, check out the Share Knowledge Base blog.

To learn more about the USFSP Digital Archive and how we are working in concert with SHARE and other international initiative on open access, contact me at hixson at usfsp.edu or the Digital Collections Team at digcol at nelson.usf.edu

How The Digital Revolution Can Fix Scientific Publishing

The TechCrunch blog recently posted an article by Daniel Marovitz, CEO of Faculty of 1000, discussing the need to revolutionize scientific publishing. The article, entitled How The Digital Revolution Can Fix Scientific Publishing And Speed Up Discoveries outlines the need for open access publishing and sharing of new research, including failed research, without ever using the words Open Access. He discusses the stranglehold that a few publishers have on scientific publishing, noting that:

The primitive publishing model employed by these publishers is actually a detriment to science. Research paid for by taxpayers is often restricted behind pay walls, major breakthroughs that could potentially save lives languish in articles whose publication is delayed for no reason. In some cases, published findings that have passed a traditional peer review process are subsequently found to be fraudulent.

In this brief article, he outlines a series of problems and solutions such as Delays in publishing. The solution he proposes includes a new breed of journal that “arranges formal, invited peer review for articles that have been published online before review, thereby allowing access to information usually months before a traditional journal.”

He also identifies Anonymity of peer reviewers as another problem with the current scholarly publishing model, noting that “Expert peer reviewers are by default working in the same area which may also make them competitors, creating incentives to be overly critical, or even to deliberately try to hold back a study that competes with their own work.” The solution he proposes is for journals to follow the lead of BioMed Central and publish the names of reviewers, which he believes will “foster a culture of transparency and dialogue, which are fundamental to good science.”

A third problem Marovitz identifies is what he calls the File Drawer Effect which is when “Scientists try to publish in the top journals in their field to compete for a small number of jobs” and “As a side effect, scientists don’t publish work that will not directly advance their career.” The solution he puts forward is to “encourage the publication of negative results, and even allow “research notes,” which can describe just a single experiment rather than a complex study. Researchers can also upload slide decks to Slideshare, and deposit data in repositories such as Figshare, or topic-specific databases.”

The final problem he identifies is Lack of Available Research Data which he defines as when “The underlying data behind published studies are also typically kept hidden while researchers try to build their careers by maximizing the number of new discoveries they can get out of the data they produced.” His proposed solution is to publish the research data and the analysis code. and he notes that there are an increasing number of repositories where such data can be hosted.

It’s a good article and it outlines many of the key issues succinctly. It would have been an even stronger piece, I believe, if he had acknowledged the efforts of the worldwide Open Access movement and the role that institution-based digital repositories, like the USFSP Digital Archive, can play in helping to revolutionize scientific publishing (indeed, all scholarly publishing). It would also have been a stronger piece had he acknowledged the effect that the Office of Scientific and Technology Policy has had by directing Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans not only to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication but also to require researchers to account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research. As I wrote in a previous blog post on Data Management, several library faculty received an internal research grant to investigate the needs for USFSP in this area.

Open Access to research results and research data matters to our faculty, our students, and our community. It’s a complex issue but it merits wide discussion within the University.

The Soaring Cost of Textbooks – What’s the Answer?

Textbooks are very expensive and represent a growing segment of the costs for a student to attend a college or university. According to a report of the US Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) published in 2014, textbook costs have gone up 82% during the last decade. The study found that the average student spends more than $1100 a year on textbooks. Because of the high cost, some students forego buying required textbooks for classes, thus putting their academic success in jeopardy. Of those 65% who reported that they did not purchase a required text because of cost, 94% of them indicated it hurt them academically. While the price of individual textbooks varies greatly, depending on subject matter and many other factors, the National Association of College Stores (NACS) reported that the average cost of a textbook in 2011-2012 was $68 dollars. Since textbook costs are increasing three to four times faster than the rate of inflation, that average price will have increased substantially in today’s market. For some classes, the cost of an average textbook will be far above the general average. On the NACS FAQ on textbooks, they reported that students estimated spending an average of $370 on required course materials during the fall 2013 term. Students and faculty at USFSP frequently ask the Library to purchase textbooks and put copies on Reserve. Unfortunately, the Library lacks the funding to be able to do this. The Library’s budget for buying all books has not gone up in a decade, even though the cost of buying books has gone up 49% in that same time period (according to data provided by YBP Library Services, a vendor that supplies books to thousands of academic libraries around the world). Much as the Library would like to accommodate the requests to purchase textbooks, the cost would be prohibitive and would further diminish our declining ability to buy the materials that are needed to support the academic programs of the University. What, then, is the solution for our students at USF St. Petersburg? The Poynter Library has had discussions with USFSP Student Government leaders for the past several years to develop partial subsidies of a Library Reserves textbook program. So far, those discussions have not borne fruit. USPIRG, the Student Public Interest Research Groups (SPIRGs) and others are now advocating the adoption of open textbooks. While students can save substantially through options like renting textbooks, buying used books, and bookswaps on campus, open access textbooks are seen as the long-term solution by many groups. SPIRG has produced an Affordable Textbooks Policy Guide that advocates for faculty to make use of and contribute to the creation of open textbooks and for their institutions to support them in this effort. As the SPIRG Policy Guide notes, “Not only are open textbooks more accessible, but they have the potential to save students $100 on average, per course, per semester. If every student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison were assigned just one open textbook each semester, it would generate over $6 million in student savings in just one year.” (see the full report at http://studentpirgs.org/sites/student/files/reports/POLICY%20GUIDE%20-%20Affordable%20Textbooks.pdf) There are currently hundreds of open textbooks available for use. Projects such as the Textbook Affordability Project are working to identify high-quality open textbooks from which faculty can choose. Open textbooks are one aspect of the broader Open Access movement that the Library has been working to promote through annual programs and through the USFSP Digital Archive. In a previous blog posting (Open Sesame), I provided Peter Suber’s definition of open access literature as:

  • digital
  • online
  • free of charge, and
  • free of most copyright and licensing restrictions

This fall, the Poynter Library will be celebrating Open Access Week October 20-26, 2014. Either during that week or at some other point this fall, the Poynter Library will be working with students, faculty, and other interested parties to discuss textbook costs and possible solutions. Check in with the Library after the fall semester starts for updates.

Data Management

For the past few years, USFSP faculty have grown accustomed to hearing about the Open Access movement from me as Dean and other Poynter Library faculty. The movement in support of open access to scholarship is based on the premise that research conducted in whole or in part with public money should be available to the tax-paying public without barriers. The Poynter Library’s primary means of supporting open access has been through the establishment of the USFSP Digital Archive, in particular the collections highlighting student and faculty research and scholarship. We have been promoting faculty research and scholarship by establishing digital portfolios in the Digital Archive for all faculty members who gives us their CVs. We investigate copyright restrictions on past publications, we create records in the Digital Archive for all articles and other creative output that faculty want highlighted, we add in full-text of articles where possible and abstracts and proxied links where copyright restrictions do not allow full-text, and we help faculty review their publishers’ agreements so that they retain as much control as possible over their intellectual property.

Our latest endeavor to assist faculty with their research is in the realm of data management. The Open Access movement is growing to include data. In a policy memorandum released 2/22/13, OSTP Director John Holdren directed Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans not only to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication but also to require researchers to account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research. In spring 2014, a group of library faculty, with my support, wrote an internal research grant to investigate the University’s compliance mechanisms for data management at USFSP and suggest modifications. Later in the fall, the Library will be organizing a faculty forum with an expert speaker to discuss the issue and help all faculty prepare for the new requirements from granting agencies. Stay tuned here or contact me or your library liaison for more information.

Open Access and Federal Policy

On February 22, 2013, the Federal Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a policy memorandum directing Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication. The policy also requires researchers to do a better job of accounting for and managing the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research. OSTP has been looking into this issue for some time, soliciting broad public input on multiple occasions and convening an interagency working group to develop its policy. Visit OSTP’s website to learn more about the policy and the process leading up to it: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/02/22/expanding-public-access-results-federally-funded-research

In an unprecedented convergence of opinion from both sides of the open access issue, the Association of American Publishers praised the new policy, which it said “outlines a reasonable, balanced resolution of issues around public access to research funded by federal agencies.” Likewise, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) also praised the policy calling it “… a watershed moment. The Administration’s action marks a major step forward towards open access to scientific research.The Directive will accelerate scientific discovery, improve education, and empower entrepreneurs to translate research into commercial ventures and jobs. It’s good for our nation, our economy, and our future.” To learn more about the new policy and the reaction to it, read Jennifer Howard’s article in the Chronicle of Higher Education “White House Delivers New Open-Access Policy That Has Activists Cheering” at http://chronicle.com/article/White-House-Delivers-New/137549/?cid=wb&utm_source=wb&utm_medium=en

To learn why open access to research matters to students and faculty, both as users and creators of information, check out any number of presentations and articles in the USFSP Digital Archive under the subject “open access”

Open sesame!

This week (October 22-28, 2012) is Open Access Week, a week when the worldwide academic and research community celebrates the open access movement and works to increase awareness of faculty, students, and the general public of the benefits – immediate and potential — of Open Access.

Open Access (OA) literature has been defined by Peter Suber, a world-renowned expert on the topic, as:

USFSP has an open access digital archive established in March 2011 and hosted by the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library at http://dspace.nelson.usf.edu/. The first such archive established within the USF System, the USFSP Digital Archiveis is for the faculty, students and staff of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg to publish, deposit, archive, and share journals, conference or other presentations, pre and post-print articles, instructional resources, student projects, theses, dissertations, and university archival materials. The archive currently has more than 4700 items, including:

Open Access is one part of a growing open worldwide movement that encourages the free sharing of the world’s knowledge. Whether through Open source software, Open access (to research), Open data, Open content, Open courseware, or Open educational resources, the world’s researchers, government and private funding agencies, and taxpayers are pushing for anyone anywhere to be able to get the data and information they need to live and learn successfully.

Check out the USFSP Digital Archive and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you can find.