Archive for March, 2014


New Website Brings Innovative Dimension to Open Access Research Articles

JournalClick (http://www.journalclick.com) has announced plans to improve the way that open access information is explored. In addition to the traditional “click and go” search function, JournalClick have incorporated an innovative new algorithm that notes the current document topic and offers a listing of what other users have viewed, in much the same way as the Amazon ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought’ feature. This approach allows people to quickly find a much wider range of research materials relevant to their studies, saving them a lot of search time.

While open access material is a goldmine of information, the sheer volume of content makes finding relevant publications a difficult, time consuming and often frustrating task. Even the most skilled of researchers can find themselves sifting through information for hours on end. That is where JournalClick comes in.

The function is the first of its kind and adds enormous value to the world of open access material. Not only does it make the search process faster and more efficient but it also immensely broadens the scope of search results and has the potential to direct users toward information that they may not otherwise have found. This could have an extremely positive impact on the quality and diversity of future scholarly research.

JournalClick was founded in 2014 by Dan Almour, a publishing expert with over five years of experience in the industry. The company aspires to bring a communal aspect to open access research, incorporating an innovative “Top Suggestions” algorithm that tailors content according to what is currently being viewed.



Students launch open access button to map the impact of paywalls

The Open Access Button was launched at the Berlin 11 Student and Early Stage Researcher Satellite Conference in late 2013. The Open Access Button, created by two students, is a new browser plugin that allows users to report when they hit a paywall and cannot access a research article. After a user reports not being able to access research, the Open Access Button records the user’s location, their profession, and why they were looking for the research. The software then integrates this information onto a map to create a real time, worldwide, interactive picture of the access problem. Three days after the launch, the Open Access Button had approximately 1,900 users and has mapped 873 paywalls. The Open Access Button is licensed under CC-BY and a MIT open source license. Additionally, the data will be open for researchers. Said one of the students: “I realized there was a problem when, time after time, I ran into barriers accessing articles relevant to my research. My university is able to afford subscriptions to many journals, and yet I still can’t access everything I need. It made me wonder how many others have had the same experience, and how it is impacting people across the globe.”

Learn more about the button with the Open Access Button Info Sheet.



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SRI Talks To: Professor Diane Watt


As part of the “Surrey Research Insight talks to” series we caught up with Professor Diane Watt. Diane is a Professor of English Literature and Head of the School of English and Languages. Diane came to the University of Surrey in 2011. She was previously Head of English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University. Diane works on medieval literature, women’s writing, gender and sexuality. Her books include Medieval Women’s Writing (2007), Amoral Gower (2004) and Secretaries of God (1997). In this interview we asked Diane about her Medieval research, the book “The History of British Women’s Writing, 700-1500” which Diane co-edited as well as how she makes sure historical examples of women’s writing is given publicity in mainstream media.

1: You are a member of the International Medieval Congress, what drew you to research the Medieval period?

I have always been interested in the Medieval period. As an undergraduate I studied Archaeology and Medieval History alongside English Literature and Language. I really enjoyed reading Medieval texts: not just the work of Chaucer, but poetry by anonymous writers. One such work was ‘The Owl and the Nightingale’,  poem attributed to someone called Nicholas of Guildford, but no one is really sure who he was or if he really existed. As an undergraduate I was astonished to learn that there are also some books by Medieval women, and I was curious to learn more.

2: As mentioned before your work delves into the Medieval era but also examines many other historical time frames including Early Modern Literature. How important is it to establish a historical context for your work?

Traditionally, within universities, Literature is classified in terms of historical periodization as well as by form or genre. So, in other words, we might look at Early Modern theatre (the plays of Shakespeare or Marlow, for example), or at the Victorian novel (such as the work of the Bronte sisters). Different forms and genres emerge or become dominant in different centuries or periods. Readers are often concerned with what an author meant, but how can we ever be sure what an author’s intention was? Establishing a historical context helps us understand the broader social, political and religious dimensions of a text. However, if we focus exclusively on a single historical period, we miss connections across time. The divide between the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period is a very real one—major religious and intellectual changes took place with the Reformation—but there are important continuities as well, and it is vital that we do not overlook these.

3: In the book “The History of British Women’s Writing, 700-1500” which you edited you look at the literary history of women’s writing in this period. How much did you learn about the lives of women during this period when looking at their writing?

I co-edited this with a colleague, Dr Liz Herbert-McAvoy, and we worked with a large team of international researchers on the book, which is itself only part of a much larger international project looking at the History of British Women’s Writing from the Middle Ages to the present day. Our team uncovered a wealth of interesting material.  For example, one of the more well-known Medieval Welsh women poets, Gwerful Mechain, wrote an erotic poem in celebration of women’s genitals that in many respects anticipates The Vagina Monologues, a play which continues to shock people today. My own essay in this book looks at the Medieval English mystic and pilgrim, Margery Kempe, and explores her difficult relationships with other women, such as her maid and her daughter-in-law. We just don’t get insight into these sorts of relationships between women if we only look at texts by men.

4: Women’s writing in the historical context that you research has the potential to not be given a large amount of publicity in the mainstream media. As an academic do you work to engage the public so they are more aware of women authors in these periods of history?

One of my books, The Paston Women: Selected Letters, provides modernized versions of letters written by women from a fifteenth-century Norfolk family. This book makes the original letters far more accessible to the general public. Occasionally I am contacted by media companies, including the BBC, to give advice on radio and television productions. Increasingly I use social media (twitter, facebook, and blogs) to engage the public and raise awareness. I have written some online articles on the importance of studying women’s writing, such as this recent piece in The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/women-will-be-left-out-of-review-sections-as-long-as-theyre-left-out-of-the-classroom-24001. I also experiment with more innovative forms of public engagement, such as stand-up comedy! Last year, I took part in one of Bright Club Guildford’s live shows. My set is on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOSdWihRlHM. I will stop at nothing to get the message out there that everyone needs to read the work of women writers.

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The open access biomedical journal PeerJ first gained attention in late 2012 for offering academics extremely low publishing fees. Now, one year later, the Times Higher Education reports that the journal seems well positioned to offer a sustainable alternative to traditional academic publishing models.

PeerJ’s model represents a departure from traditional models in that academics pay a one-off fee to become lifetime members. They can choose from the basic model, which permits them to publish one article per year for life for a one-off fee of $99 (£59), to a more comprehensive model which permits unlimited posting for life at $299. These costs represent a significant reduction on normal gold open access publishing fees, which typically range from between $1,350 to $2,900 for publishing in PLoS, to $5,000 in some Elsevier titles.

The journal has also been helped on its path to sustainability by gaining support from some prominent Universities in the UK and US who have taken out subscriptions for its individually designed and costed ‘institutional plans’.
The journal has been attracting praise for the quality, speed and transparency of its peer-review and editorial process, its formatting and the advent of a preprint server which allows researchers to submit early versions of articles for comment and review.

There are still some concerns that the need for all co-authors of an article to be members of PeerJ in order to publish would mean that, according to Kent Anderson, editor-in-chief of the Scholarly Kitchen blog on academic publishing, publishing here might ultimately be “unlikely in practice to work out much cheaper for researchers and was likely to become more administratively complex”.

There are also concerns that the influence of prestige on author’s publication decisions means that, according to PeerJ’s co-founder, Dr. Binfield, journal publishing is “not a terribly price-sensitive market”.
Whilst these concerns remain, Dr Binfield seems persuaded that the lifetime membership model represents an opportunity for significant long-term cost reductions, and another important step in the move towards open access.
Read more about the Peer J project

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