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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Recent research in open access publishing

By Diana Hodge

Publishing articles in OA journals is now a firmly established practice in academia. Most articles are still published in the mainstream commercial titles but OA has carved a niche for itself. The advent of OA publishing doesn’t seem to have provided much relief to university libraries who still pay enormous subscription costs to publishers for journal access but it has at least made some research content available free of costs to the end user.

Ramesh Pandita (2013) looks at the global growth in OA journals over the last ten years by analysing data taken from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Pandita finds huge growth: 34 OA journals in production in 2002, growing to 8518 in 2012. Perhaps unsurprisingly the US leads the world in the number of OA journals it produces and in the number of new OA journals it creates each year. Brazil comes in second with Australia 18th on the list with 123 OA journals, 1.44% of the world total.

It’s not just the number of journals increasing but the number of countries getting into OA publishing that is also growing rapidly; 9 countries in 2002 and up to 121 in 2012. Pandita draws a parallel between the strength of a countries OA publishing and its economic development suggesting that the freely available intellectual content is being used by the countries citizens to drive development.

Pandita paints a positive picture of OA progress but how findable is OA journal content? The research carried out by Joel Cummings (2013) suggests it might actually be more accessible to those outside the university environment who are searching freely on the web than to those inside institutions who are searching through aggregators. Cummings looks at the indexing of OA scholarly journals by three multidisciplinary full-text aggregation databases, Ebscohost Academic Search Complete, Gale Onefile and Proquest 5000 International. Data from the Journal Citation Reports (published by Thomson Reuters) was used to indicate the significance of these OA journals.

The results of Cummings investigations showed that very small percentages of open access journals were indexed in each of the full-text aggregators studied. A total of 7.9 percent of titles included in journal citation reports were OA journals, this might not be much but it is a 303.8 percent increase from the 2.6 percent reported in a 2003 study (McVeigh, cited in Cummings 2013, p. 173).

Ebscohost indexed 1,656 OA journals, that is, 25.7 percent of all the OA journals included in the DOAJ, while Proquest indexed 340 OA journals, 5.3 percent of titles in DOAJ, and Gale indexed 163, 2.5 percent of titles in DOAJ. Most were available in full-text and the majority were in English. Cummings also finds that there are more OA journals at lower rankings than at higher rankings being indexed by the three aggregators.

Cummings concludes that researchers who search outside these aggregators may have access to a greater range of OA journals; that is via either the library’s discovery layer or internet search engines…why do we always end up back at Google?.

To sum up both articles – there is more OA material available than ever before but it is not necessarily getting easier to find.

References  - both available in fulltext in ALIA Proquest Journals package.

CUMMINGS, J., 2013. Open access journal content found in commercial full-text aggregation databases and journal citation reports. New Library World, 114(3), pp. 166-178.

PANDITA, R., 2013. Growing Trend towards Open Access Publishing at Global Level: An Analysis of Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). International Research: Journal of Library and Information Science, 3(3), pp.565 – 578.

This article was first published in Incite 

Dr Diana Hodge, Manager Academic Library Services, Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences, University of south Australia.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

LARK Workshop

By Suzana Sukovic

Do you have a good research idea but don't know how to start? Do you have a research project in a pipeline or a dusty folder and you really want to do it, but never have time? Do you need some feedback and inspiration? 

If you live in Sydney, the answer to your research prayers is the LARK workshop.

When? 29 September, 1.30-5pm followed by drinks and dinner
Where? Our regular place - St.Vincent's College, Potts Point
Cost: $10 for ALIA members, $15 for non-members
For RSVP and further details, see Eventbrite

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Teaching the Expert Searcher; Smashing Learning and Searching Stereotypes?

By Janine Schmidt

"Professional Education in Expert Search: A Content Model" by Catherine L. Smith, Catherine L and Martha I. Roseberry, Journal of Education for Library and Information Science vol. 54 (4) Oct 2013 pp.255-269.
My attention was caught by this article which examines formal education programs for teaching library and information professionals to search effectively for information. Both the topic itself and the methods adopted for undertaking the analysis are of interest and have changed significantly. 
The study examines what is taught, rather than how it is taught, in library and information schools accredited by the American Library Association. It uses content analysis to examine the offerings of the schools, at the same time comparing the results with the literature on searching for information. 

The relatively recent history of search education is traced, with its initial emphasis on the use of Boolean operators moving on to source credibility and database design with the emergence of sophisticated search engines, end user searching and the decline of the role of the search intermediary. Despite the sophistication of search engines (or perhaps because of it), novice users in public and academic libraries and those with complex information needs remain in need of assistance from information professionals. Many libraries conduct training programs for their users in effective searching for information. The role of the expert searcher remains important in information-intensive subject areas like law and medicine and searching is included in accreditation guidelines and information professional competencies used by organisations like the Special Libraries Association. 

The study used content analysis and concept mapping to search and analyse curriculum content in course descriptions from the library schools. Perhaps surprisingly, the topics covered have changed very little. Three broad areas emerged. The first is the environment which involves an understanding of the information industry and the principles of information retrieval. The second relates to resources, sources of information, access tools and search methods, including information visualisation, front-ends and query languages. The third area concerns analysis, evaluating the results of searches, interaction with clients and the planning of searches. Scant attention seems to be paid to the new web-scale discovery search engines and the research evidence on client 

Numerous questions emerge from studies like this one. What is the role of formal education in a rapidly changing area? Does practice make perfect? How are skills best acquired and what makes effective learning? Is expert searching taught more successfully in a practical professional environment with real clients, genuine information needs and inquiries and the use of multiple databases and search engines? How are the web-scale discovery engines affecting expert searching and its teaching? Finally, how is expert searching being taught in Australian library schools? Charles Sturt University includes Searching for Information in one of its 16 units in the Bachelor of Information Studies program. QUT’s Master of Information Technology (Library and Information Studies) refers to identifying, accessing, evaluating and retrieving information resources to meet specific needs in its Information Retrieval unit while Curtin refers to advanced search strategies in its program. Perhaps closer collaboration between the practice and the teaching of the profession would bring better learning and smash the stereotypes more quickly. 

Originally published in Incite, February 2014 

Janine Schmidt is the Director of Mukurta Solutions