Category Archives: Recommended Reading by NSR

On big publishers embracing the textbook revolution

In an article for Fast Company, Steven Melendez writes:

“The digital revolution has been rocking the academic publishing applecart for years. Students bristling at the price of books—an intro biology text can cost hundreds—have been turning to alternatives like book rentals and e-texts.

Increasingly, there is a new challenge from the growing Open Textbook Revolution—and traditional bookmakers, after years of opposition and lawsuits alleging copyright infringement, are trying to get a piece of the action as their glossy hardbacks get tossed aside.

Open texts are free academic materials written by educators and professionals that are peer-reviewed and licensed to be freely downloaded…Thanks to investments by universities and private foundations, many of the free online peer-reviewed texts are on par with the big bucks’ books in terms of depth and production values—and they’re rapidly gaining traction.”

Read the full article here.

How enormous is Sci-Hub? And does its size signal the end of paywalled research?

According to biodata scientist Daniel Himmelstein (University of Pennsylvania ) and his colleagues, who recently conducted a survey that investigated the impact of the web site and its repository, “Sci-Hub can instantly provide access to more than two-thirds of all scholarly articles.  The self-proclaimed “first pirate website in the world to provide mass and public access to tens of millions of research papers” (as stated on its homepage)  continues to grow rapidly while still facing legal issues.

Himmelstein’s study (published on July 20th on PeerJ Preprints) found that Sci-Hub’s reach is even greater for research papers protected by a paywall (instant access is provided for 85 percent of all papers published in subscription journals). In a conversation with ScienceInsider, Himmelstein said that the results of the study could mark ‘the beginning of the end” for paywalled research.

When asked if librarians would ever endorse Sci-Hub over paying for journal access, Himmelstein said: “I don’t think librarians would ever endorse it, given the legal issues of instructing someone to do something illegal. But in a way they already do. There are many libraries nowadays that can’t provide 100% access to the scholarly literature.”

When asked if there was anything publishers could do to stop new papers from being added to Sci-Hub, he said: “There are things they could do but they can really backfire terribly. The issue is, the more protective the publishers are, the more difficult they make legitimate access, and that could drive people to use Sci-Hub.”

A necessary reminder: Sci-Hub continues to grow and more and more of its users attend affluent universities

“A research paper is a special publication written by scientists to be read by other researchers. Papers are primary sources necessary for research – for example, they contain detailed description of new results and experiments. Papers we have in our library: more than 58,000,000 and growing.”

So states the homepage of Sci-Hub, “the first pirate website in the world to provide mass and public access to tens of millions of research papers.” Just who is downloading all these pirated papers? According to this article in Science Magazine, which is almost a year old but still intriguing and highly recommended to NSR readers not familiar with the unstoppable force of Sci-Hub: EVERYONE. Continue reading A necessary reminder: Sci-Hub continues to grow and more and more of its users attend affluent universities

The truth about paying for news online — hardly anyone wants to do it (but all want quality)

ReutersBad news first: readers do not want to pay for news online. Period. But readers of all ages, including the millennials–the age group closely watched on all things e-content consumption–want their news to come from trusted source.  According to a Reuters poll conducted back in April, 81 percent of the 1240 respondents said that a news brand is synonymous with trusted content but two thirds of them said they wouldn’t pay for any content if available to them online, regardless of who is behind it.

Digiday recently interviewed Reuters commercial director Jeff Perkins on the challenges of news organizations dealing with such findings. The interview may be read here; some more highlights below:

  • the future of how millennials consume news will mostly be influenced by virtual reality, wearable devices, and artificial intelligence
  • the reports of “the homepage” being dead or dying have been greatly exaggerated
  • the millennials consume most news via social media, particularly Facebook, followed by LinkedIn and Twitter

Also recommended reading on the subject of news publishers’ survival: As e-reading moves to mobile, how will news publishers make money? [TeleRead]

More proof eReading improves literacy–more reasons to do more with eBooks

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‘Just learned about the results of some recent experiments in using tablets and e-reading to foster literacy in children in very different environments, including rural Ethiopian villages (from an article on TeleRead). Stories like this matter. They serve to remind content creators, publishers, technological innovators, educators, librarians, and parents that ebooks or digital content (or whatever term rings your bell) can, in fact, improve literacy — and improve it dramatically regardless of geography, economic status, or national background.

Imagine a kid in an Ethiopian village benefitting from e-reading (and having access to the same content) as a kid in the United States or any other industrialized nation. Imagine a world in which knowledge and information know no geographic restrictions.

If that’s not enough to motive the professionals among us to be less afraid of the unknown and more willing to go beyond a “safe sale” or a “safe purchase,” then we are all continuing to fail ebooks (not the other way around).

Recommended reading this week:

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