Despite the lockdown, so much has happened, and indeed changed, since our last editorial in early April. The terrible killing of George Floyd has shocked us all, and the Black Lives Matter movement is challenging old ways of thinking. This has led many of us to focus more keenly on how we can make our organizations more inclusive and more equitable. If you are engaged in this thinking, we highly recommend the article by Niccole Leilanionapae‘aina Coggins, Gisela Concepción Fosado, Christie Henry and Gita Manaktala which explains how University Presses are working towards more inclusive practices. This includes ensuring a diversity of perspectives across staff, editorial board members, peer reviewers and authors. At Insights we are eager to follow their lead.
The last few months has also brought significant economic uncertainty to the university sector. The main aim of research libraries is to provide their students, academics and researchers with access to scholarly literature, but financial pressures mean they are facing tough choices. Many librarians must be wondering about the consequences of cancelling a ‘big deal’. Lisa Olsson, Camilla Hertil Lindelöw, Lovisa Österlund, and Frida Jakobsson have shared their experiences about this dilemma, and the consequences for Swedish researchers when the Bibsam consortium cancelled its journal agreement with Elsevier. This is a must-read article for any library facing similar hard decisions.
Another timely article, on a similar theme, is by Jennifer Bayjoo, Dominic Broadhurst, David Clay and Emma Smith. They give us their perspective from the University of Salford, a research-informed university funded by student fees and public money. They write about being locked into a costly system in which academic progression is still associated with the perceived prestige of a publisher. This system does not work for them and they propose a radical overhaul of scholarly communications which would lead to rewarding the quality and impact of research over the venue of publication.
Two recent articles in Insights focus on issues which have not previously had much airtime. William H. Walters points out that although major funding agencies require or promote data sharing, many researchers do not comply. He describes how data journals – those that publish data reports rather than conventional articles – are providing a new incentive for data creators to share their work. Jeanette Hatherill raises the question about what happens to research outputs when authors mistakenly publish in deceptive journals. Currently, there is no way for authors to retract these articles. There is a need for new guidelines for authors and editors so that this lost science can be recovered.
Martin Poulter and Nick Sheppard explore the role of Wikipedia in the Age of Disinformation. They argue that it occupies a distinctive place in the information ecosystem, providing universal free access to knowledge and linking informal discussion to scholarly publications. They suggest that universities can build this bridge by adding links to open access (OA) versions of cited articles in their repositories or linking digitized theses from biographies of notable alumni.
Traditionally, funding requirements and a focus on metadata and discovery have driven the development of institutional repositories. This is changing to a focus on the tangible benefits of university research. Susan Boulton’s article is a case study on how Griffith University’s institutional repository supports and shows the university’s societal impact. Susan’s takeaway message is about the importance of institutions talking to their library about increasing reach beyond the university and broadening engagement.
On a subject close to our hearts, Helen Fallon in her article ‘The librarian as academic author’ shares her story on how she began and continues to write for academic publication. We hope that you will get some ideas from her experiences and suggestions and will feel enthused to write for Insights yourself. We also collaborated with Helen on a free webinar about writing for journals – taking Insights as a case study. If you missed it, you can register for the recording of the webinar by visiting the website.
Finally, our thanks to our wonderful authors and peer reviewers. During these challenging times, while working remotely, juggling childcare and shopping for vulnerable relatives, they have still managed to find time to write, review and share their wisdom and insights.
Steve and Lorraine