Sunday, June 17, 2007

NASIG 2007: How does digitization affect scholarship?

This was probably the best session I attended.

Ithaka,, is an organization that studies the advance of technology and how it can/should be managed. Their mission is to help academic institutions to adapt to and use technology.

The presented, Roger Schonfeld, started by asking the audience what characteristics a scholarly journal should have (format, aggregated?, open access?, indexed where?, commercial or non-profit?, sustainability) in order to develop a framework for analyzing the affects of digitization.

Two side markets = a system comprised of at least two user groups who need each other which is characterized by a platform (or intermediary) that balances the interests of both groups (sides of the market). He used the credit card network as an example where the merchants and the card holders are the two groups and the card companies are the platform or intermediary. The concept of two-sided markets is the framework that Ithaka used to examine their question about the affect of digitization on scholarship.

The two sides of the scholarly journal are readers and authors. One of the motivations that operates between the two groups is quality (high quality authors attracts high quality readers and high quality readers attract high quality authors). This characteristic is static in relation to the format in which the journal is published (the exchange mechanism = format = platform that joins the two groups).

In the traditional pricing model, the reader side involves subscription fees and on the author side are pages charges and advertising fees. The question is how are/should they be distributed?

Demand side
What are the sources of value of a journal on the (librarian) side? (audience participation)
- research/curricular support
- impact factor
- use
- ARL ranking
- Preservation of the record of scholarship
- Accreditation
- Platform stability
- Areas of collection emphasis
- Peer review
What are the sources of value of a journal on the reader side?
- findable
- usefulness and credibility of content
- currency
- author quality
- accessibility
- relative importance to field
- do they publish in it?
- Peer review
- Indexing
- Impact factor (as a proxy for quality)
Supply side
What are the sources of value of a journal from the advertiser’s perspective?
- number of subscriptions
- quality of reader
- reader’s interest in products
- cost
- findability
What are the souces of value of a journal from the author’s perspective
- reputation with colleagues
- how widely read / cited
- circulation
- speed of publication
- peer review
- impact factor
- cost to submit
- marketing and promotion

Findings from a survey of 4100 faculty members about the characteristics important to authors:
The most important characteristic was circulation (80% of participants sad that this characteristic was very important), no cost to publish (65%), preservation is assured (60%), highly selective (50%), accessible in developing world (45%), available for free (35%).
- authors submit to journals that can maximize the impact of their work on their field
- some disciplinary differences in the above data
- how has the impact of a journal changed in recent years? (digitization, more widely accessible)

Their research question is how does digitization effect the system of scholarly communication?

They’ve collected data (cited by and citing characteristics of 100 journals in each of three disciplines) and are in the process of data analysis which should be published/available in the late summer or early fall. They used regression analysis (Poisson process).

- the higher the frequency of citation, the lower the number of citations in that article (graph).
- digitizeding the journal-title years has increased inbound citation by between 7 and 17% (confidence interval)
- the effect grows steadily as the materials are available online longer
- different sources of online availability (channels) offer different effects; e.g. 3-15% increase occurs when there is one channel and 8-18% increase occurs when there are a large number of channels through which a journal is available
- questions raised: Are some channels more effective than others? Do some channels yield more impact? Is wide availability the key?
Results when the data are restricted to 1995-2005 in order to look at effects of/on born digital journals
- there is a strong and significant effect from digitization (but more analysis is needed)
- the publisher web site is not always the optimal distribution mechanism to increase citations
- longer embargos decrease the ability of a give channel to increase citations
- more questions: disciplinary variation? Effects of source item year of publication?

Their preliminary conclusion is that digitization does have a storng and significant effect on scholars’ ability to find and cite revelant reference give an advantage to
He’s obviously passionate about his topic and a very natural speaker which makes him very engaging. This is a fairly sophisticated research project and he did a very good job of explaining it in terms that were pertinent and understandable to librarians; partly because of the really good questions that the audience asked. Probably this will be my favorite session. It would be interesting to see what else Roger and his colleagues have done.

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