Thursday, March 08, 2012

Open Access Hat Trick

I'm this close--why not have one more post about open access?  So I just finished going through the "charge the author" buffet by Springer for my most recent article. I can confirm that the $3k fee for an open article is still in effect, and I also had the option of ordering a poster, re-prints in sets of 25, or paying $1500 for full color on my figures and I'm sure some other options that I'm forgetting.  So It's good to know that Spring is not stuck on a single method of charging authors for the taxpayer's intellectual property.

Then things took a turn for the completely bizarre.  Hopefully the link works for you.  If you do some digging you find out that Springer is actually happy to have you self-archive your work in pre-print form on say an institutional repository--which of course will be immediately harvested by google scholar with one lone provision. You have to wait 12 months after the print version comes out.

So what are we fighting about? If Springer wants to try charging people for their actual contribution to this process, copy-editing and making it look pretty I say go for it. I'm happy to provide a link to your version that costs money inside mine they've already downloaded that is free. I'm also happy to give Springer exclusive rights of distribution for 12 months, although I acknowledge that in some fields that time should be much shorter or maybe not involve a delay at all but in the case of my research, we're not going to lose any lives if there's a delay in wider distribution.

Am I missing something here? Why is the publishing industry paying for lobbyists and fighting this legislation as well as introducing their own when at least with Springer they're pretty close to seeing eye to eye already? Why not make this more public and promote some good will?

Monday, March 05, 2012

Can't go home in good conscience yet

So just saw this on FB via David Wiley, the publishers have decided to ramp up the crazy on open access.  Apparently their opposition to recent legislation is that it lacks "fair compensation to authors".

You know what system lacks fair compensation to authors? Oh right--it's YOUR system. It also lacks fair compensation to editors (of the non-copy variety) and reviewers. I think I know why you have the biggest profit margin, it's not just because you aren't paying any of us, it's because you aren't paying the right PR firm. If you can't get ahold of just how wrong you are, at least get someone who can put the right lipstick on your pig.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Research Works Act

I'm a little late to the party but recently heard about the Research Works Act. This is an effort out of the house to directly contradict an NIH policy that requires any research produced with government funding (e.g. taxpayer dollars) to be available for free to said taxpayers 12 months after publication.

Needless to say this is a horrible idea. It would constitute a bit of a blow to the open access movement. Now I've already established that I'm no fan of Springer so take this next bit with a grain of salt, but their statement about this legislation is cheeky at best. You want some measured, intelligent and constructive debate? Fine.

Your current value to the world of academic publishing is copy editing and typesetting. That's it. The research, the peer review, the editing--that's all done by academics who you don't pay. So in exchange for making sure our page numbers are in the right spot you have the highest profit margin of any US industry at 53% (or at least you did when I wrote this--looks to be an interactive dataset.

Now onto my favorite part. Your support for RWA in essence is that so called "green" open access is an unfunded mandate. That's really your position? That's your line in the sand? That NIH is requiring authors to do something when it's not clear where the money is coming from? Well your idea of "gold" open access is to charge me, an author, $3k to make my article free and open. I have a response to that:


I guess in a way, I can see why you think it would cost too much--because you charge $3k and all, but USU is perfectly capable (and already has been for several years thank you very much) of hosting it's own repository and they do it for considerably less than $3,000 per article. In a measured debate, you look bad.

I'm going to go investigate buying futures in your demise. Stop selling ice, the refrigerators are already in the kitchen.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Flash is not dead (yet)

So I fell into the trap. The trap of thinking that Flash was dead. It started, for me with the war between Jobs and Adobe. I wondered, when the iPhone and iTouch first came out without flash support how long the war could last. Flash had a huge developer/user base but Apple had huge market share in the mobile market. Not on a per device basis, but on sheer volume of Internet throughput (still no excuse for AT&T).

Then came what I thought was the final nail in the coffin. Adobe cut the Flash player out of mobile development. I thought they had basically given up. Here's the thing that few people are talking about. Adobe had a solution months ago: Adobe Air. The ability to build native iOS Apps from within Flash, or Flash Builder, or Flex. Boom. iOS done right? But last April Apple went out of their way to shut them down.

Now it's back. Here's a screen capture of an app I built in Flash CS 5.0 (old school I know) during faculty senate in about 20 minutes. I wanted to make sure the integration was meaningful so I experimented with connecting to the GPS data received by the phone. It works. And presumably the same functions would work on an android or a blackberry.

What took considerably more time was setting up the certificate and provisioning profile so that apple could know who was writing code, what device they were writing for, and have a record of what the app name was. Keep in mind that all of this was purely for testing purposes--not for distribution either at an enterprise level or in the app store.

My takeaway from this experience is that apple is a much bigger barrier (did I mention it costs $99/year to even get on the testing ride?) to app development on iOS than Flash is but time will tell if that continues to be the case.

Note that the flash player is still dead dead dead, and that means no seamless integration with web browsers. No flash video players as the ubiquitous media wrappers. But as someone who uses an iPhone religiously I generally prefer native apps anyway.

I am now officially astounded at how long Flash has persisted. I've been teaching it for 9 years. It remains in my mind one of the best IDEs for people with no programming background, because you can engage in so much GUI development. I'll be curious to see when someone finally sticks a fork in it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Disparate business models

I'm struck by the stark contrast between Comcast and Netflix. Without getting into a bunch of details I lack the time to provide I'll just say the following. My relationship with Comcast feels like an abuse cycle. We have a billing fight, they try to increase my rates, I threaten to leave, they cut me a deal for 6 months and we repeat the dance.

Netflix is all happy and chipper that I'm cutting back on services (going streaming only), customer service answers my question right away and even gives me the old rates until the end of my service cycle despite changing their rates on September 1st. Not because I asked for it, but because that's the way they roll. Comcast on the other hand happily charges me a higher rate for a reduction in services partway through my billing cycle. Who does that to their customers?

The really scary part is that they are now a conveyer of content and a producer of it--I'm sure I'll be able to trust them to push my Netflix streams as fast as the Today show because they're so magnanimous.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CPU bottleneck since 2004?

So there seems to be a 6Ghz upper limit on processor speed that we can't break through since clear back in 2004. How did I miss that? As a result we've moved to doubling down so to speak with dual or quad core processor machines but only a handful of applications actually take advantage of that by offloading processes to multiple processors.

This seems like it prefaces a day of the designer, in which software engineers will have to be even more lean and mean than usual. As a side note, STATA (my favorite stats package ever). Offers licenses that take advantage of this but they want to charge for it. Who wouldn't right? It also prefaces a day of computing really starting to suck. We're supposed to double capacity every 18 months. I'm looking at buying a new macbook pro with a dual core processor that's pretty similar to what I have now and is almost 3 years old. Am I missing some nuance here?

Thursday, March 10, 2011


So I haven't been this excited about an alternate field of study in some time but just spent a couple of days with people who do work in sustainability. This would be things like designing urban renewal projects, fighting poverty or aids, or creating composting plans for a college campus. They are much more complex than that but that's the gist. They do a lot of work with teaching learners how to frame problems, design problem solutions, and execute problem solutions and they are using project and some problem based learning.

They deal with major complexity. They deal with almost any discipline under the sun. They are 10 years into being a field. They have so much energy they are their own renewable power source.

They make me tired. The oddest part is one of the big programs in this field is in Arizona. It would be like having the DNC headquarters in Logan Utah.

Monday, November 15, 2010

3k Washingtons, the price of open access

We've been asking about sustainability of open access for quite some time. Springer has the answer. If I pay a mere $3,000 my latest article (co-authored with Dr. Gulfidan Can) could be made available for non-commercial use via the creative commons license (with commercial use rights reserved by Springer).

They do allow for institutional reserve or personal web site productions of pre-print versions of the article . . . 12 months after it comes out.

You are working yourself out of having a respected journal. You will loose to publications that make articles available to everyone because they'll get more citations. You need a new business model. Think services, think access to full data, think high resolution graphics, partner articles with your textbooks about statistics (a link that says--do you want to know more about Cronbach's Alpha? or see other forms of reliability) or qualitative analyses (do you want to know how to do a comparative case study?). Think advertising for statistical or qualitative analysis packages. You can live off your current g index for a little while, and find some solace in the fact that academia moves at a glacial pace but the days of your current business model are numbered and the time to make changes is now. I don't think that adding a $3,000 check box for creative commons is going to cut it, although I respect that you are trying.

You want to draw a line in the sand for contributions via copyediting and formatting--terrific. Let us have our pre-print manuscripts from day 1. Or earlier for that matter. Our acceptance notification for this article came in July. We're going on 4 months of possible citations flushed away and the clock is still running. You want an edge on your competition--provide links to our pre-prints before the issue comes out. How about having citations for articles still in press as a way of pumping up the old g index?

First of all, call the $3k what it is, it's an opportunity cost--it's what you think you will loose in revenue from this one article because libraries may cancel their subscription to the journal as a whole if they can get the article for free. The actual cost of making this open access as opposed to making it available only to subscribers is negligible. In addition to providing services you could also lower your costs. Get it out of your head that your are in the business of printing journals. You are in the business of publishing journals. Drop the hard copy, kill the infrastructure, stop renting that warehouse, kill all your shipping costs, stop giving your open access competitors such a cost advantage.

Print based journals are uniquely positioned to dominate this landscape, they have the best editors with the best reviewers, their journals have the best reputations (for now). They need to leverage that in a way that puts them on top of where academic research is headed: open access.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Attenuation of Effect Sizes

So here's what I wanted to present at BYU last week but we hadn't finished our analysis yet. At AERA we're presenting a new meta-analysis about the quality of the research done in PBL. Quick rundown--still looking at student learning outcomes comparing PBL with traditional learning. We coded for research design, the degree to which the study reported validity of their measures, reliability of their measures, and the internal threats to validity present in each study.

The stand-out finding is reliability:

When studies report no reliability information on their measures, effect sizes are .20--a small effect favoring PBL that is pretty close to the overall mean for the past several meta-analyses done. When they engage in strong reliability reporting (meaning something along the lines of a
cronbach's alpha for their actual sample rather than falling back on data from someone else's study) then effect sizes jump to .47, a medium effect.

True random designs show larger effect sizes that favor PBL over traditional learning too.

The consistent trend seems to be that we are hamstringing the PBL literature base with weak research designs and little attention to measurement. When we pay attention to those things, and presumably reduce measurement error and a priori group differences--PBL shows improved student outcomes. Almost double what we find as a norm.

Figure design shamelessly stolen from Brett Shelton.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Red air, red state, blue resident

Some of my favorite responses to our local newspaper's question about what Cache Valley residents intend to do toward reducing pollution with the cold season and inversion coming up. Some context: Because we live in a big bowl and have periods of almost no temperature change we get air that is neigh on unbreathable. Think NYC, or LA. We have "yellow air" and "red air" alerts when we're cautioned to not go outside and exercise because it can damage our lungs. We have University of Utah researchers doing breathing tests on our kids on red air days like we're the proverbial canaries in a coal mine. We've shot for the stars and obtained a level of air quality that requires federal intervention.

Here are the quotes:

"Absolutely not! First there was this huge hole in the ozone...Hmmm haven't heard much about that the last several years, huh? THEN they had us all believe that global warming was actually we continue to shatter cold records weekly!! Funny how that talk is ALSO starting to fade now, huh??

I inversion does trap air in the winter within this valley, however, the inversion is not an automatic thing that happens each year. But when it does occur, no doubt some bad air gets trapped..but that is life! Too bad! "

" Yes, I'm going to buy corks for my neighbors' cows. "

" Yes, I plan to ask CVTD to discontinue operation so that we can eliminate the exhaust emissions from engines of empty and near-empty buses. " CVTD is our local bus system. It's a no-fare system supported by tax dollars, some of the buses even run on natural gas

" Limiting my contribution to air pollution isn't the only consideration. Far from it. I plan to drive my vehicles when I feel it necessary. Oh, and I don't pay much attention to those silly flashing signs that indicate red or yellow air day. It's such a trivial aspect to my overall decision to drive to where I drive.

I'd like to see the Nibley CVTD run eliminated. It seldom has very many, if any people on it, but it sure spews out a lot of exhaust. "

" HELLL NO!!!! "

" Because cows produce so much methane, I will eat as many steaks as I can to reduce the cow population. "

" In the interest of seasonal fairness, I'm committed to producing equal levels of pollution throughout the year. "

" Feedback has the right idea, spend more time at the beav and cut back on pollution at the same time, win/win. On top of that I will ride my bike on any weather permitting day, even though its more for exercise than helping the pollution since I don't think its all that big of a problem here. "

" While reducing air pollution for the sake of public health and comfort is a noble goal the cost of such reductions can be measured in the millions of dollars in time and productivity if it even costs on average 5 minuets per person per day.
Reduce pollution when you can but keep in mind the cost of your actions, don't use it as an excuse to reduce productivity. "

" I plan to warm up my diesel truck an extra 10 minutes every morning!


" Inversions are natural and occur in many places. The idea that we cause Cache Valley inversions has no supporting data.

Human induced climate change is unproven. There is no evidence that human production of CO2 is driving the temperature. All we have, at the moment, is debate about the idea. "

How do you get to a place where your response to those personally working towards improving everyone's air quality is not only "no" but "no, and screw you for trying." How does that happen exactly?