Against the Grain V35-2 April, 2023 Full Issue

Page 20

Publishing Integrity and Why Librarians Should Care

Begins on Page 12

If Rumors Were Horses

So glad to see spring — green grass and flowers all around us in Charleston and Sullivan’s Island. Hope your spring is as springy as ours.

Musically Minded

I used to play the piano but gave it up for the computer. However, I am now making plans to buy a small piano (assuming I can fit it in the house). Turns out my grandson George is taking piano and doing very well so I thought I would dust off my piano books and play with him. Of course he and the other grandkids are doing taekwondo, ballet, karate, golf, and learning to cook. Whew! Sounds like fun!

I remember being impressed when Ivy Anderson from California (now in Tennessee!) had an online piano concert not too long ago. Ivy has recently retired and has more time to play. I enjoy seeing photos of her beautiful neighborhood in Nashville and her regal collie Sadie.

c/o Katina Strauch Post Office Box 799 Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482 “Linking Publishers, Vendors and Librarians” ISSN: 1043-2094 VOLUME 35, NUMBER 2 APRIL 2023 TM WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN THIS ISSUE: Research Publishing Integrity...................................... 12 Maintaining Research Integrity at Scale Brings Challenges and Opportunities for Collaboration ...................... 14 Do Academic Libraries Have A Role In Ensuring Research Integrity? ................................... 18 Research Integrity: A Market Overview 20 ATG Special Report: Training Can Solve the Peer Reviewer Diversity Crisis .......................... 23 Op Ed — To Err is Human Pt2... 26 REGULAR COLUMNS Bet You Missed It ...................... 10 Reader’s Roundup..................... 29 Booklover ................................... 35 Legally Speaking ...................... 36 Questions and Answers ........... 38 And They Were There .............. 40 Let’s Get Technical .................... 45 Wandering the Web ................. 48 The Digital Toolbox ................. 51 Biz of Digital.............................. 53 Looking Over the Edge ............ 57 Back Talk .................................... 66 INTERVIEWS Brian Hole .................................. 60 PROFILES ENCOURAGED People, Library and Company Profiles ....................................... 62 Plus more ..................... See inside continued on page 8

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Against the Grain (ISSN: 1043-2094) (USPS: 012-618), Copyright 2022 by the name Against the Grain, LLC is published six times a year in February, April, June, September, November, and December/ January by Against the Grain, LLC. Business and Editorial Offices: PO Box 799, 1712 Thompson Ave., Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482. Accounting and Circulation Offices: same. Subscribe online at


Katina Strauch (Retired, College of Charleston)

Associate Editors:

Cris Ferguson (Murray State)

Tom Gilson (Retired, College of Charleston)

Matthew Ismail (Charleston Hub)

Research Editors:

Judy Luther (Informed Strategies)

Assistants to the Editor:

Ileana Jacks

Toni Nix (Just Right Group, LLC)

International Editor:

Rossana Morriello (Politecnico di Torino)

Contributing Editors:

Glenda Alvin (Tennessee State University)

Deni Auclair (De Gruyter)

Rick Anderson (Brigham Young University)

Sever Bordeianu (U. of New Mexico)

Todd Carpenter (NISO)

Eleanor Cook (East Carolina University)

Will Cross (NC State University)

Anne Doherty (Choice)

Michelle Flinchbaugh (U. of MD Baltimore County)

Joyce Dixon-Fyle (DePauw University)

Michael Gruenberg (Gruenberg Consulting, LLC)

Chuck Hamaker (Retired, UNC, Charlotte)

Bob Holley (Retired, Wayne State University)

Donna Jacobs (MUSC)

Ramune Kubilius (Northwestern University)

Myer Kutz (Myer Kutz Associates, Inc.)

Tom Leonhardt (Retired)

Stacey Marien (American University)

Jack Montgomery (Georgia Southern University Libraries)

Alayne Mundt (American University)

Bob Nardini (ProQuest)

Jim O’Donnell (Arizona State University)

Ann Okerson (Center for Research Libraries)

Anthony Paganelli (Western Kentucky University)

Rita Ricketts (Blackwell’s)

Jared Seay (College of Charleston)

Corey Seeman (University of Michigan)

Lindsay Wertman (IGI Global)

ATG Proofreader:

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A. Bruce Strauch Send correspondence, press releases, etc., to: Katina Strauch, Editor, Against the Grain, LLC Post Office Box 799 Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482 cell: 843-509-2848 <>

Authors’ opinions are to be regarded as their own. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. This issue was produced on an iMac using Microsoft Word, and Adobe CC software under Mac OS Monterey. Against the Grain is copyright ©2023

4 Against the Grain / April 2023 <> AGAINST THE GRAIN – ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS v.35 #2 April 2023 © Katina Strauch ISSUES, NEWS, & GOINGS ON Rumors .............................................................................................................. 1 From Your Editor 6 Letters to the Editor 6 Advertising Deadlines 6 FEATURES Research Publishing Integrity ......................................................................... 12 Maintaining Research Integrity at Scale Brings Challenges and Opportunities for Collaboration 14 Do Academic Libraries Have A Role In Ensuring Research Integrity? ............. 18 Research Integrity: A Market Overview ......................................................... 20 Op Ed — To Err is Human: Part 2 – Retractions in Scholarly Journals ............ 26 Back Talk — We Have Met the Enemy ............................................................. 66 ATG SPECIAL REPORTS Training Can Solve the Peer Reviewer Diversity Crisis 23 REVIEWS Reader’s Roundup: Monographic Musings & Reference Reviews 29 Booklover — Ethics: Past, Present, Future...................................................... 35 LEGAL ISSUES Legally Speaking — U.N.I.O.N.S. ..................................................................... 36 Questions and Answers — Copyright Column ................................................. 38 PUBLISHING Bet You Missed It 10 And They Were There — Reports of Meetings 40 TECHNOLOGY & STANDARDS Let’s Get Technical — Did the Academic Library Reach its Peak Effectiveness in the Late 1990s? Part 2: Technological Investments that Improved Access to Information 45 Wandering the Web — New In Town? 48 BOOKSELLING AND VENDING The Digital Toolbox — Whole Student Education: How Publishers and Librarians Support the Movement 51 Biz of Digital — More Than a Migration: Southern Appalachian Digital Collections’ Transition from CONTENTdm to Qi by Keepthinking, a Vendor New to Libraries 53 INTERNATIONALLY FOCUSED Looking Over the Edge — Ten Years of Knowledge Unlatched: Paving the Way for Diamond Open Access Monographs 57 ATG INTERVIEWS & PROFILES Brian Hole – CEO, Ubiquity Press.................................................................... 60 Profiles Encouraged 62

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From Your (jaunty) Editor:

Hey! Spring is in the air, and the warmer weather always makes me happy. It’s great to shake off the cold of winter and enjoy the carefree spring days. My daughter Illeana, son-in-law Sam, and grandkids Porter, George, and Teddy were here visiting recently on their spring break and it was wonderful to enjoy some time at the beach here on Sullivans Island with them. You can see a photo of the kids at the beach in Rumors on page 1. Happy days!!!

This issue of ATG is guest edited by Dr. Sven Fund, Managing Director at Fullstopp, and is on the subject of publishing integrity. And don’t be confused, the strikethrough on “Research” in the title of his paper is intentional as he believes this is a more accurate term! Read his intro on page 12 for more details. Thanks to Sven for putting together this crack issue!

We have featured articles from Adya Misra, Research Integrity and Inclusion Manager at Sage, on maintaining research integrity at scale; from Dirk Pieper from Bielefeld University Library in Germany on the role of the academic library; and a market overview from Samantha Green of Morressier.

Letters to the Editor

There’s also a Special Report from Gareth Dyke on solving the diversity crisis in peer review, and Part 2 of our Op Ed series from Daniel Dotson on retractions in scholarly journals.

Tom Gilson and Leah Hinds interviewed Brian Hole of Ubiquity Press on the recent acquisition by De Gruyter, and we have a snappy Copyright Questions and Answers column from our new column editor Kyle K. Courtney.

We also have a new Wandering the Web column editor! Do you remember that column from several years ago? Lesley

continued on page 9

Send letters to <>, phone 843-509-2848, or snail mail: Against the Grain, Post Office Box 799, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482. You can also send a letter to the editor from the Charleston Hub at

Dear Leah:

Thank you for granting me and my colleagues at the Africa Commons the opportunity to be part of the very timely and invaluable Charleston In Between Conference.

We appreciate you. Stephen Stephen Akintunde (Professor of Information and Library Studies at the University of Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria)


VOLUME 35 — 2023-2024

Dear Leah:

Many thanks for the opportunity to partake in the Charleston In Between Conference. I am particularly excited about Day 2 sessions which gave me a lot more information on innovations in AI.

I will also be pleased to receive the recordings next week. Best wishes, Perpetua

Perpetua Dadzie (Associate Professor, Univ. of Ghana)

Thank you Caroline. It was a pleasure working with you and sponsoring Charleston In Between. We appreciate the opportunity. Take care.

Kind Regards, Lorna V.

Lorna Vasica (Sales Manager, AIP Publishing, 516-576-2333) <>

We send our heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in “Charleston In Between: The Future of Scholarly Communication in a ChatGPT World,” a virtual conference held April 4-5! We were joined by over 400 registrants, in 15 countries outside the U.S., to do a deep dive on AI and its effects on our industry. Recordings have been sent to all registered attendees, and will be posted publicly on our YouTube channel next month.



Toni Nix <> Phone: 843-835-8604

Thank you, Leah Hinds (Executive Director, Charleston Conference, Charleston Hub) <>


6 Against the Grain / April 2023
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Rumors continued from page 1

Speaking of music, I look forward to emails from CMUSE because there’s always some musical tidbit to enrich your understanding. Lately I have learned a brief history of Jazz music, how music therapy works, and why music enhances our emotions.

Notes from Charleston

Hope y’all met and heard Buhle Mbambo-Thata’s keynote — We will get there together — at the 2022 Charleston Conference. Very upbeat and inspirational. Plus, Leah Hinds and I recently have had a conference call with Buhle and her colleague Gracian Chimwaza (Founder and Director of ITOCA) about a possible session in Charleston or a Charleston In Between! Buhle travels a lot and was recently in New Orleans and then London. Stay tuned for more updates!

Speaking of Charleston-in-between, we had a great sign up for our April session — The Future of Scholarly Communication in a ChatGPT World. We had 195 individual and 206 group rate registrations which included participants from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lesotho, New Zealand, Nigeria, Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago, and Zimbabwe. Besides the Charleston Conference, we hope to offer 2-3 virtual Charleston inbetweens! This one featured the amazing trio of Peter Brantley, Heather Staines, and Gary Price. We are always on the lookout for innovative and fast-breaking topics! Please write us at

The 2023 Charleston Conference Call for Papers opened today and we’re excited to see your proposals for topics and sessions. We’ve added a new thread for preservation, intended to highlight conference sessions that focus on digitization, archival practices, and other means of future-proofing collections. We’re also soliciting more proposals for the “Up and Coming” thread, designed to provide foundational information for those new to the profession, MLIS students or recent grads. There is a demonstrated need for more of these sessions from comments in our attendee evaluations and in conversations amongst the conference directors, so please consider sharing your knowledge!

Some important dates are coming up for the conference! Pay attention at! Vendor Showcase booth registration opens on Monday, June 12. Exhibitor booths sold out for 2022, so be sure to book early to save your spot! Conference registration and hotel guest room blocks will open on Wednesday, June 14. Hotel rooms go fast in Charleston too, so don’t delay!

Other Conferences and Related Notes

It was way back when that my husband Bruce and I went to the London Book Fair. There was lots of tension and bags were being searched because Salmon Rusdie had been threatened with death because of his book, The Satanic Verses. See one of the latest articles in the New Yorker “The Defiance of Salman Rushdie” by David Remick.

Which brings me to an article in the Bookseller on “AI And Rising Costs dominate conversations at packed-out London Book Fair.” Apparently now there are back-to-back meetings and standing room only events! Sorry I couldn’t be there.

Cool article in today’s New York Times (April 23) about baseball’s new rules. Baseball is 148-years old! My father and my two brothers and I grew up listening to baseball on the radio or even later on tv. I have heard the complaints about the games being too long and not as exciting as football. So the baseball powers that be have been listening and have made and will continue to make changes. Here’s hoping this will increase baseball’s popularity!

Just heard that the astute Richard Charkin has recently published a book, released on April 17, 2023: My Back Pages: An Undeniably Personal History of Publishing 1972-2022. I remember meeting Richard at one of the Fiesole Retreat years ago. Congrats Richard and I can’t wait to read it! “Richard Charkin’s experience as a publisher is unique among his generation. Over the past half century he has been (at different times) a scientific and medical publisher, a journal publisher, a digital publisher and a general publisher. He has worked for family-owned, publicly-owned, university-owned companies and start-ups. In this memoir he uses his unrivalled experience to illustrate the profound changes that have affected the identity and practices but not the purpose of publishing.”

NASIG’s Nominations and Elections Committee has announced the results of the 2023 Election. Here they are!

• Vice-President/ President elect: Paul Moeller (U of Colorado Boulder)

• Treasurer: Nicole Ameduri (Springer Nature)

• Member at large: Christian Burris (Wake Forest University); Heather Staines (DeltaThink)

Hooray and Congratulations all around!

And speaking of NASIG, one of our fantastic conference directors Courtney McAllister is the Vice President/President Elect! Courtney had a recent job change from her role at EBSCO to become a Solution Architect at Atypon. Congrats Courtney, and thank you for all you do for the Charleston Conference! In addition to all her other roles, Courtney will be organizing the poster sessions this year. We’re beefing up the in-person poster sessions by popular demand, so keep an eye out for more information to come.

Check out the preliminary program for the SSP 2023 Annual Meeting . Leah Hinds, our Executive Director of the Charleston Hub, will be attending and presenting alongside Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe for another installment of the Charleston Trendspotting series. Be sure to attend if you’ll be in Portland for the meeting! Session 1A on Thursday, June 1, at 10:30 am.

We’re Delightfully “Against the Grain”

On the ATG front, since we switched to online only, there are a few diehards (count me in) who prefer print. Okay! So we are exploring this option and are hoping for the best. If you know of a POD service that is worthwhile and not too expensive, let us know


8 Against the Grain / April 2023

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Do you have an idea or a burning interest in a topic or information need? If so, why not guest edit an issue of Against the Grain ? We are always interested in/looking for engaged librarians of any type — experienced or brand new! Or maybe you want to nominate someone? Try

We at ATG love new initiatives! This is why we are starting “Above the Fold” for which Caroline Goldsmith is recruiting new talent. Above the Fold will feature music/ album/concert reviews, pop culture, food/ restaurant reviews, new initiatives, games, and much more! Topics not necessarily related to librarians, publishers or vendors, but interesting and engaging for everyone. If you’d like to contribute an article for this new online column, please contact Caroline at <>! And be sure to check out our first article in the series by Marci Cohen, Assistant Head, Music Library, Boston University, “ Boygenius: The Record .”

That’s it for this issue. Be sure to send your Rumors to editors@ for inclusion in the future!

From Your (jaunty) Editor continued from page 6

Rice Montgomery (wife of Jack Montgomery, Charleston Conference Director Emeritus) is writing on resources that will help people who are moving to a new town. Thanks Lesley, and congrats on your recent move to Tulane University!

Last, but never least, we have our Back Talk column from Jim O’Donnell, where Jim asks ChatGPT to write his column for him! AI will never replace the wit and wisdom of someone like Jim, for sure! But the column is a fascinating look at how we can anthropomorphize and demonize animals (such as sharks!) as well as machinery (such as ChatGPT and other AI programs). Be sure to check it out on page 66.

That’s it, I’m heading back to the beach! We have to go while the getting is good, before the heatwave of summer arrives and burns us up.

Love, Yr.Ed.


9 Against the Grain / April 2023
more at
Ebooks |
| Comics | Streaming media

Bet You Missed It — Press Clippings — In the News

Carefully Selected by Your Crack Staff of News Sleuths

Let’s Read Underground Railway

Benjamin Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery (856) (author visited escaped slave communities in Canada); (2) Cheryl Janifer LaRoche, Free Black Communities and the Underground Railway (2014) (expands idea of the railway to organizations that purchased slave freedom); (3) Christopher Paul Curtis, Elijah of Buxton (2007) (YA novel about 11-year-old at railroad terminus); (4) Solomon Northrup, Twelve Years a Slave (1853) (the most well-known enslavement narrative); (5) Zora Neale Hurston, Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939) (uses symbolism of Exodus).

See: Kai Thomas, “Five Best,” The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 14-15, 2023, p.C8. Thomas is the author of the novel “In the Upper Country.”

The Joy of Paranomasia

Joyce Heitler long had an incurable case of paranomasia — an inability to stop punning. She made her first pun at age five and never stopped.

In the 1980s, she and Norm Crosbie created the International Save the Pun Foundation with an annual dinner with parody-musicals and a Punster of the Year Award.

One year’s winner, Gary Hallock, read the account of a fellow wooing an undertaker’s daughter. “Sadly, the situation turned grave, and he deep-sixed the plot when he realized he never cadaver.”

The Foundation lapsed around 2001, but the O. Henry PunOff is an annual competition that Gary Hallock runs in Texas.

See: Gregg Opelka, “Dinner Was Pun — They Ate My Words,” The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2023, p.A15.

Papaya and Dog

Nicholas Gray ditched Wall Street and opened Gray’s Papaya in 1975 on the corner of Broadway and 72nd Street — bamboo style lettering, 24-hr service, no seating. He slashed the cost of a dog from 75¢ to 50¢ and increased his sales from 500 dogs a day to 3,000. John Lennon and Samuel Jackson were regulars.

Two dogs and a drink is now up to $6.45, but Gray’s remains a NY landmark. It’s a regular spot in rom-coms that just says “New York.”

Carrie Bradshaw gets a free dog when her book is published. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan flirt there in “You’ve Got Mail.” Bruce Willis and Samuel Jackson chow down while waiting for a call from a bomber in “Die Hard With a Vengeance.” Anthony Bourdain visited in 2007. “Two dogs and a drink at that price is a hell of a deal,” pronounces billionaire Bobby Axelrod in the HBO Max series “Billions.”

See: Kevin Doyle , “Dogged Survivor,” The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 18-19, 2023, p.D9.

CEOs Can Learn to Code

Today’s CEO is paid more and achieves less than any in history. Now we find the Big Kahuna can be replaced by AI. Even McKinsey, so beloved of ruthless CEOs, figures 23% of the top dog’s day is spent reviewing financial performance and forecasting trends. All of which could be done by machines.

See: Zachary Crockett, “Yes, AI can replace the average CEO,” The Week, April 7, 2023, p.38.

When Newsrooms Were Noisy Fun Places

Lance Morrow is 83 and lives on an upstate NY farm. He began life as a privileged DC son of Hugh Morrow who worked for the Saturday Evening Post, his family mixing with Alsops and other Georgetown luminaries.

He went to Harvard and landed on the Washington Evening Star where he raised hell with Carl Bernstein and was secretely smitten with Mary McGrory.

He reminisces about the greats of journalism of his time — Joan Didion, John Hersey, Robert Caro, Tom Wolfe. He calls Henry Luce a “shadow president.”

When Henry Kissinger was asked what would history have been had Khrushchev been assassinated rather than JFK, Henry quipped he was certain Aristotle Onassis would not have married Nina Khrushchev.

See: James Rosen’s review of Lance Morrow’s The Noise of Typewriters, The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 24, 2023, p.A15.

Hours Press

Steamship heiress Nancy Cunard was a civil rights activist, anti-fascist and supporter of Dadaism and Surrealism. She took lovers as varied as Louis Aragon and Henry Crowder, a black jazz musician from Georgia.

Her publishing house Hours Press published Samuel Beckett and Norman Douglas.

See: “The Radical Divine,” excerpted from Anne de Courcy’s Magnificent Rebel: Nancy Cunard in Jazz Age Paris, Town & Country, March, 2023, p.102.

Solace of the Silver Bullet

In the same issue, a paen to the martini. “No other cocktail has so firm a grip on society and culture, showing up as a signifier of sophistication in everything from James Bond to The Queen’s Gambit. When Samantha threw a drink in her ex-lover’s face on Sex and the City, it wasn’t a Cosmo. It was a dirty martini.”

See: Mark Peikert, “I’ll Drink to That,” Id. p.122.


10 Against the Grain / April 2023


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NFTs and Crypto Currency in Joint Death Crash

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AI-ing the Brushstrokes

In 2022, digital artist Beeple sold his work Everyday at Christie’s for $69 million! And thus, Non-Fungible Tokens traded in digital currency became a serious thing — a revolutionary way of selling a new form of art.

Auction houses built up their digital art departments. Galleries set up separate wings for NFT sales. Hollywood talent agencies saw movie franchises. $2.6 billion of NFTs were sold, and everyone who got in was getting rich. This modern Tulipmania was “part Art Basel Miami Beach, part Davos, part Burning Man.”

In the crypto-crazed early ’20s, every crypto company had a raft of A-list celebrities on the payroll hyping NFTs — The Weeknd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Snoop Dogg, Diplo, Kevin Hart. Larry David did a Super Bowl ad. Jimmy Fallon and Paris Hilton discussed NFT shopping.

Cartoon Bored Apes were hyped as investment pieces of legitimate importance worth millions, and the Twitter hive-mind buzzed. Justin Bieber reportedly paid $1.29 million for his.

Then the bubble burst. One crypto company after the next went bellyup. The FTX crash and arrest of Bankman-Fried really got the public’s attention. And NFTs followed. Art auction sales collapsed in minutes.

It’s beginning to look like the crypto companies were using the hype to create artificial demand for crypto. The lawsuits have begun. And worthless NFTs are selling for a penny.

See: Nate Freeman , “The Apes of Wrath,” Vanity Fair , The Hollywood Issue, 2023, p.121.

Anthony Ayers was on vacation in England when he spied a dusty panel in an antique shop — Mary holding infant Jesus while a toddler John the Baptist looks on. Oak tree with a goldfinch in background, a symbol foreshadowing the crucifixion.

The shop owner incredibly wanted $30,000 for what he thought “might be from the Renaissance.” Undaunted, Ayers got Chicago pals to pool the money.

Ayers was convinced it was a Raphael who left fewer than 200 works. The latest to sell at Christie’s — a sketch no less — sold for $48 million!

Ayers indulged his quest until his death. Pigment and wood panel analysis put it in the right period. Now some 40 people who invested $500,000 are carrying on.

Art Recognition of Zurich uses AI to analyze brushstrokes and believes 97% probability they hit the jackpot. But is the computer flawless or just another tool? The paint has worn down with time, and all the great artists had their students and imitators.

See: Kelly Crow, “Is This Painting a Raphael or Not?” The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 18-19, 2023, p.C1.


11 Against the Grain / April 2023
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Research Publishing Integrity

Scholarly publishing is a branded business, with “integrity” at its core. Indeed, many in the industry and beyond think of prestigious journal brands, esteemed book series, and famous publisher names first when describing this space. There is one unifying factor that all these diverse, different, hopefully distinct, and even unique, brands have in common: None of them would be worth much more than the paper they use for printing without the guarantee of the quality they promise. Quality is the bedrock of publishing, the assumption that all actors in science and publishing adhere to a set of values and principles when conducting their research and disseminating results.

This invisible contract between members of the scientific community is often inaccurately referred to as “research integrity,” although the term “publication integrity” would be more accurate. This latter term would be better as it locates responsibilities more clearly among actors that have an impact on, and an interest, in an intact system.

This issue of Against the Grain is devoted in part to exploring the roles, mechanisms, and responsibilities of “publishing integrity.” We do not limit the conversation to owners of journals, book series, or other types of content: This issue aims to widen the horizon and include libraries and technology providers.

We are not primarily interested in what goes wrong in this issue but also why things go wrong and how different players in the ecosystem can collaborate to protect the heart of the publishing system as it currently exists. We also endeavor to provide an international perspective on this issue, especially as we live in a world where the standards discussed here are diverse.

Digitization, Volume, and Integrity

The digitization of academic publishing over the past two decades is intrinsically linked to a massive increase in the volume of published research. Notably, based on data, the number of scholarly works published in 2022 is more than five times the number published in 2000. Thanks to the evolution of the “Publish or Perish” paradigm into a KPIzation of the publication process, there is no end in sight to the inflation of article numbers. Researchers have to publish constantly and share their discoveries as rapidly as possible. They need to do this in order to get career recognition, promotion, and/or less teaching responsibilities from their universities.

Science publishers have adapted perfectly to this trend for volume. This includes the big traditional publishers as well as a range of newcomers who have created business models mainly dependent on volume — and volume increase. The infamous Big Deal, in which libraries were offered “all you can eat” options for scholarly content, led to heated debates around library choice and price discounts.

In an open access world, the Big Deal has survived, though in the much more acceptable form of Transformative Agreements (TAs). Combined read and publish agreements also offer the simplicity of unlimited use of the products scholarly publishers deliver, but now in two dimensions. These kinds of agreements make it easy for all parties involved to account for

the unplannable publishing and reading behavior of an institution’s faculty and its students.

A Changing Value Creation

Alongside this increase in volume, facilitated by a business model that can hardly go wrong, publishers have changed their approach to creating value. Many publishers today outsource a large part of the work on manuscripts to vendors around the world, employing relatively inexpensive labor — and increasingly sophisticated technology. This specialization in the value chain has left little but quality assurance to publishers. Brand names, decorated with impressive impact factors, altmetrics scores, and other quality signals, are tightly controlled by publishers as, it seems, the last bastion justifying their existence. Innovative technology companies have developed alongside publishers as they retrench from the value chain, filling the gap with techbased services to support them.

Publishing Integrity, Not Research Integrity

The integrity of the publication process is rhetorically oftentimes euphemistically confused as research integrity. There is overlap between the two, but the core of this problem requires clarity, not verbal confusion. The interests of academic publishers are just too aligned to push fraudulent behavior back into the science system. Indeed, publishers have proven over the centuries that they can safeguard the process of publishing key research in an ethical way. We’d argue that they should not try to throw spanners in the works now that they see growing challenges.

“Bad Actors” On The Offense?

Listening to conversations around publishing integrity and the general lack thereof today, it feels that academia has fallen into the hands of a new sort of mafia. Prestigious journals are being tricked into publishing research articles, and everything from obvious nonsense to manipulated datasets are being thrown at editorial offices. We only hear about these issues when things go wrong.

It is not all that easy, unfortunately. Incorrect incentives offered to researchers climbing the career ladder contribute a lot. “Wrong” often is a function of institutions trying to be objective.

An explanation involving dysfunctional incentives is too simplistic. Indeed, if this was true, we would assume bankers caused fraud just because they connected with other peoples’ money or similarly that doctors participate in patient organ trafficking. A dense network of laws and compliance rules prevent mass abuse and criminal behavior in these examples, and the same is true for scholarly publishing. What sounds most promising beyond defensive strategies is a long overdue reworking of the incentive system governing academic careers. Simultaneously, publishers and research institutions need to have an interest in safeguarding long-term success over shortterm gains.


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A Proposed Ecosystem Approach

Publishers are not the only ones with responsibility to avoid fraudulent and unethical behavior in an ecosystem with increasingly distributed responsibilities. This issue of Against the Grain brings together voices from all parts of this landscape, with thought leaders contributing insights from their daily work and future plans.

In this issue, Adya Misra from Sage takes a look at publishers as guardians of publishing quality, highlighting the importance of collaboration as well as the critical role organizations like the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) can play in this.

Gareth Dyke, my colleague from Reviewer Credits, starts even earlier. Early career researchers (ECRs) often highlight the fact that many of them have never been trained in conducting peer review. This noteworthy contradiction between a lack of training while conducting the core element of research publishing was also discussed with much rigor at this year’s Academic Publishing in Europe (APE) conference. Gareth has some thought-provoking advice on how to tackle the issue within the workflow of research articles.

Samantha Green and Sami Benchekroun from Morressier spell out challenges as well as potential solutions around human (plagiarism, conflict of interest, ethical violations) and technically induced phenomena like data fabrication and AIgenerated content. Their view on the tech landscape provides us with a number of tangible approaches for the future.

ATG would not be complete without libraries’ views on their critical contributions to publishing integrity early on in the publication cycle. Academic institutions operate in a much broader setting of science and its code of conduct than tech providers or publishers. Dirk Pieper from Bielefeld University Library takes a closer look at the role he and his colleagues play.

Vigilant, Not Alarmist

Despite a heightened level of nervousness around publishing integrity given the drive for volume on the one hand and muchenhanced technological possibilities on the other, it seems that the bedrock for a well-functioning immune response is intact: Players across the spectrum not only agree in the importance of quality control in scholarly publishing, they are also developing responses to new challenges and threats to the system. These changes are happening at speed adequate to address these issues.

Make no mistake, the systemic issues publishing integrity are facing are not being resolved by pointing to anonymous bad actors or single cases. The volume of fraudulent “papers” is just too high, the degree of organization too widespread, and the technology at hand too sophisticated for business as usual.

Solutions presented in this ATG issue give ideas of how players in the ecosystem respond to a potentially existential threat to their operating model. This topic is, and remains, one of shared responsibility and that does not make things easier. Technological innovations will also put additional pressures on the system, with fast learning large language models being kindred companions for mass compilation of content. These are being smiled at by a few for their obvious shortcomings; most observers see the potential they hold for all of us in just a blink of an eye from now.

Quality — Well Defined

To some observers, a one size fits all approach to quality assurance does not make sense any longer — if it ever did. More sophisticated technology, it seems, calls for three replies: Visibility, transparency, and a graded approach.

• Visibility: Fraudulent behavior grows best in the shade, and visibility creates accountability for authors, reviewers, publishers, and institutions. Thus, by making the steps in quality assurance as much a part of the academic record which is visible to the community and the public as an end result, academia and publishing are best served. This is a central challenge for many existing infrastructures and some business models.

• Transparency: The days of smoky, dimly lit gentlemen’s clubs in providing quality in research publishing are definitely over; transparency wins over blind meritocracy.

• A graded approach: COVID research has shown us how important speed of publication can be, even at the expense of traditional patterns of quality assurance. No doubt instant publication in repositories has saved lives; there is no reason to not rely on a staggered approach in many other disciplines and publication formats.

The quality assurance system in academic publishing and hence the concept of publishing integrity needs an overhaul in our current paradigm with potentially game changing new technological capabilities and a system which is already under pressure. The articles complied in this issue of ATG have one uniting theme: Systemic challenges can only be addressed by players in the ecosystem working together. The concepts are out there, technology is at hand, and most arguments are exchanged. What is needed now is an effort, primarily from researchers themselves, to redefine “level of quality” and which signals around the publication process are needed to serve science and research best.


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Maintaining Research Integrity at Scale Brings Challenges and Opportunities for Collaboration

Publishers are often seen to be the ultimate implementers of research integrity principles, as we sit towards the end of the research process. Yet, as a publisher, we are likely to only see a subsection of research integrity matters brought to our attention while many others are being dealt with by institutions, funders or other regulatory bodies.

On a day-to-day basis, research integrity teams within scholarly publishing handle a variety of concerns brought to their attention. From a seemingly banal instance of minor plagiarism in a submission to more serious breaches such as image or data fabrication, duplicate publications, or peerreview manipulation; as the awareness and understanding of research integrity principles proliferate in the community, readers are increasingly alerting publishers to these breaches. Our primary function as publisher is to maintain the integrity of the scholarly record and help maintain reader’s trust in research. Publishers should investigate all concerns brought to them in accordance with guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) to ensure fairness, transparency of process and consistency in decision making across the industry. COPE is an independent organisation that provides the scholarly publishing industry with guidance and best practices on how to handle various ethical issues in journals publishing.

At Sage, we pride ourselves on the knowledge that each concern brought to us is independently validated by a central Research Integrity Team before following up with any external stakeholders. Our primary success in the creation of this centralised team is that we ensure consistency in decision making across our portfolio even in an era of increasing — and increasingly creative — attempts to thwart scholarly integrity. To do so successfully, we’ve found that many parties involved — authors, publishers, librarians, and more — should work together to combat misconduct at multiple stages of the scholarly workflow.

Why Are People Breaching Research Integrity Principles?

As the pressure to publish has increased tremendously in the last few decades, the publishing industry is increasingly seeing researchers taking shortcuts to generate a research article. The scholarly ecosystem has traditionally been built around trust; when we peer review a research article, we take the author’s claims at face value while doing some checks for feasibility of the study design, methodology and the study findings. And in some disciplines, it is appropriate to undertake a quick analysis of the numbers to check whether the results are correct.

However, peer-review was designed to illicit constructive feedback on research, not undertake a full reproduction of the research to ensure the authors work is genuine. Peer review remains a voluntary pursuit, and as such a reviewer cannot be expected to detect all the errors in the research or be in a position to detect misconduct in addition to providing commentary on the research contribution, plausibility of the findings,

and other feedback. Due to the limitations of peer review and the proliferation of publishing venues, combined with continued pressures to publish, there are increased opportunities for authors to breach research integrity.

As publishers seek to maximise their published output, there is a challenge in maintaining research integrity principles at scale. Publishers investigating research integrity concerns can often spend years resolving a single complaint; sometimes authors become unresponsive, or need additional time due to personal circumstances. Depending on the concern, additional review of data may be required, all of which takes time. This follow-up may lead to frustration among editors, authors and the complainant, and the inaccurate impression that publishers do not take these concerns seriously.

What Are The Most Challenging Research Integrity Concerns?

From my experience leading the research integrity team at Sage, there are a few concerns that are most challenging to address.

Third-party Involvement and Peer-review Manipulation

Authors are increasingly employing third-party services to submit their research to international journals. While many of these services have traditionally been related to language revision, some providers have taken steps to become scientific editors and provide a more technical revision. Many of these services are legitimate and help authors refine their research before submission to a journal. However, many providers have begun offering services around “guaranteed accepts,” “quick turnaround” and “rapid publication” to authors who may be struggling to get their research published or indeed have no research training but are expected to publish in order to get promoted in their academic role. These providers operate in specific subject areas and intercept the peer-review process at journals to facilitate easier or quicker acceptance.

More recently, these service providers have begun offering authorship slots to any researcher for a specific listed price without having to put in the effort required to write a research article. At the editorial office, this may look like significant changes to the author list towards the end of the peer-review process or after acceptance. We are starting to see websites advertising authorship slots across submission areas inviting researchers to pay a sum of money and receive an authorship slot without doing any research. Individuals posing as journal representatives are also approaching researchers with promises of help publishing their work. In many cases, authors provide their manuscript to a third party posing as a journal representative for a fee in the hopes of guaranteed publication.

Publishers are aware that these organisations pose as reviewers within journal submission systems in order to help


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accelerate the publication that may or may not have merit. Researcher Anna Abalkina has been instrumental in raising awareness of these commercial providers that are running a parallel publishing industry that poses a threat to research integrity and takes advantage of sometimes vulnerable authors.

While identifying these third-party actors can be a challenge, publishers often have circumstantial evidence that a submission is not genuine and comes from a third party based on prior knowledge, suspicious activity in their submissions system or recognizing patterns in submissions. Recent large-scale retractions in prominent publishers suggest that we are taking a stronger stance on these suspicious actors than ever before, removing their output from the literature and helping readers distinguish between trustworthy and untrustworthy articles.

Data Fabrication

Fabricated or falsified data is often tough to detect without resources and yet it has the potential to make an incredibly negative impact on the research community. There have been several recent high-profile instances where data was found to be fabricated or falsified by an author group or where there were serious concerns about the legitimacy of the findings. For instance, Ivermectin was touted as the COVID-19 miracle drug until a group of scientists looked at the evidence and found severe shortcomings in the published corpus. These recent instances have called into question not just individual research practices but also institutional governance for researchers, the role of peer review in detecting data fabrication and the role of the funder who may have provided grants to the authors.

Due to the complexity surrounding data fabrication and or falsification, specifically around limitations of sharing data that may be protected, many of these concerns may remain unresolved. Concerns raised on the PACE trial several years ago or the more recent Surgisphere study remain somewhat unresolved due to these competing issues of data confidentiality and data transparency. To deal with some of these issues, publishers are increasingly introducing stringent data policies where authors may be asked to provide the data underlying their figures at the time of submission or at later stages of review with the view that data sharing is likely to increase transparency and accountability as well as enable readers, students and other researchers to make use of the data provided to further the research questions posed.

Image Manipulation

In 2016, researcher Elisabeth Bik manually scanned 20,000+ articles across several journals containing potentially manipulated images. Her work highlighted the prevalence of this phenomenon and brought to the forefront some of the challenges associated with detection, investigation and follow-up of image concerns. Any form of data or image manipulation has been traditionally difficult to investigate as there are challenges around author intent. For example, a researcher may say that an image they generated confirmed the results but didn’t look good enough to publish, which led them to combine several different images to create one final image that looked appropriate. Alternatively, authors may routinely combine multiple images to create one final image that looks appropriate for a research article. In doing so, authors may be submitting images, results and conclusions that may be partially or completely incorrect. This can have an impact on the research community that relies on peer-reviewed literature to build their research as well as on readers or policymakers who may rely on the literature to form an opinion about a scientific phenomenon.

As this has become a significant issue, particularly for science, technology or medical (STM) journals, many publishers are now using a variety of image checking tools at various stages of the editorial workflow to identify concerns before they are published. While there is certainly more work to be done, as an industry, we have made significant strides in creating more robust policies and guidelines on image manipulation around what may be acceptable in a research article and what remains problematic.

Which Areas of Research Integrity Need More Attention?

Research integrity principles in publishing have become increasingly important in the last few years. Publishers are also increasingly addressing concerns of diversity, equity, inclusion and access which have strong links with research integrity. Some of the main issues include but are not limited to gender or racial diversity on editorial boards, citation inequality between genders or people who are racialized, publication of potentially harmful content in the publisher backfile and the potential misuse of academic free speech.

There have been some exciting developments in this area, spearheaded by a cross-publisher group formed in 2020 that has led the development of standard questions for self-reported diversity data collection and minimum standards for inclusion and diversity for scholarly publishing. However, recent research reports the stark inequalities faced by certain demographics when acting as reviewers, editors and authors which requires more attention.

Among conversations around barriers to entry and participation in scientific research more globally, publishers are increasingly adopting policies that combat some of these inherent biases in academia. For instance, in 2022, the World Conference on Research Integrity focused on the development of a Cape Town Statement that aims to promote equity and diversity in research collaboration. Several publishers have adopted the principles of the Global Code of Conduct to improve equity in research collaborations globally. These policies have been designed to ensure that the research we publish has not posed harm to its participants or any potential collaborators.

One of the continued frustrations within the academic community has been the speed with which some concerns are investigated and that readers are not appropriately informed of inaccurate research. We have heard this feedback at Sage and, while we are careful not to take short cuts in our investigation, we will urgently add Expressions of Concern to any article that has serious verifiable allegations where investigations are likely to take time.

Opportunities for Collaboration — What Can Authors Do to Uphold Research Integrity?

There are many steps authors can take to uphold research integrity principles. As publishers, we rely on research institutions to provide this support for new researchers to ensure that they are adhering to best practices in research conduct and reporting. Some of these include:

1) Agree who should be an author on the final publication and who will be added in the acknowledgements before starting the research to avoid disputes at a later stage;

2) Pre-specify a study protocol, considering registering the protocol on atrials registry for added transparency to clinical research;


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3) Considering registered reports, a publication format that allows the peer review of methodology before the research has begun and granting researchers an in-principle acceptance regardless of the results. This format allows researchers to maintain the integrity of the scientific method;

4) Approaching the institutional ethics committee before working with human participants to avoid the possibility of tough questions later on in the process;

5) Conducting the research using an appropriate study design, with suitably sourced materials with the appropriate permissions in place, preferably in writing to avoid disputes later in the process;

6) Sharing any datasets to a stable and public repository with the community to help other researchers who rely on datasets for their work, maximise research transparency and increase chances of your datasets being cited;

7) Ensuring the work conducted is of the highest possible standard, original and done by the authors and/or contributors.

Many publishers offer regular webinars for authors and reviewers to enhance their knowledge of publishing and peer review in partnership with active researchers and members of Editorial Boards. These are opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing on key developments in the industry and can offer different perspectives to authors. Sage regularly hosts webinars on how to be a peer-reviewer, offering advice to researchers on various aspects of peer review. This year we are aiming to host regions specific webinars to cater to a specific researcher cohort and engage with any specific challenges in peer-review.

What Else Are Publishers Doing To Be More Proactive In Upholding Research Integrity?

In 2021, the STM Association formed the STM integrity Hub to directly tackle some of the challenges publishers are facing by bringing us all in one room. This resulted in publishers collaborating on mechanisms, tools and workflows to eliminate untrustworthy content from our collective corpus for the first time. Concerns around text recycling, duplicate submissions and image manipulation are no longer a problem for just one publisher. Rejecting the submission at one venue will direct this low-quality submission to end up at a different venue, which we all agree is detrimental to the research community. By participating in this programme, publishers have demonstrated their commitment to research integrity and acknowledged that the problems we face are too big to tackle alone.

Many publishers are developing tools in-house or harnessing the use of third-party technology to proactively stop untrustworthy or low-quality content from entering peer review. While many of these tools are in their infancy, tools such as Turnitin, which detects text re-use and recycling, are continuously improving their offering to help publishers safeguard their submissions. We are increasingly seeing the development of research integrity checks on submissions and the use of artificial intelligence to speed up these checks so that reviewers can focus on reviewing the content of the research instead of questioning its authenticity.

COPE has recently introduced membership to research institutions and is providing opportunities for publishers and institutions to work more collaboratively on research integrity matters. This is a significant development, as we can understand other stakeholder’s constraints and perspectives more deeply.

How Can Librarians Be Involved?

Librarians serve as gatekeepers for research access (in traditional and open access publications), validating which serials are high-quality through subscriptions and by listing them on their websites, and pointing patrons away from publications that should not be trusted. But beyond that, librarians can:

1. Help to educate patrons on the problems, consequences and impacts associated with unethical research behaviour;

2. Help build institution-wide policies for academic integrity to prevent and combat misconduct;

3. Become advocates for “laws, policies, and regulations that advance information integrity” on a broader scale such as in government policy science frameworks;

4. Where time and resources permit, create quality data hubs to support data sharing.

Librarians wear many hats, and at Sage, we believe that they play a key role in supporting the research happening by students and faculty across campus. By working in parallel — and even in collaboration — with publishers, authors, and organizations like COPE, together we can continue to make small progress toward eliminating dubious scholarly practices and raising standards for high-quality research.


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Do Academic Libraries Have A Role In Ensuring Research Integrity?

At a first glance, the matter seems clear: academic libraries are responsible for supplying literature for research and teaching. Research funders, universities and the various scientific disciplines themselves establish rules to ensure good scientific practice in order to guarantee trust in research results. However, with the advance of the open access transformation, in which academic libraries directly or indirectly finance the publication of research results by paying publication fees or providing or supporting publication platforms, the traditional division of tasks between libraries and research is becoming blurred. Academic libraries, as an important player in a research-supporting information infrastructure, now contribute through their actions to whether or not tendencies, that endanger the integrity of research, will intensify or not. This applies in particular to developments in the scientific publication system.

Trust is a fundamental mechanism for reducing social complexity. The vast majority of a society, including academic librarians of course, cannot check the research results of an ever more differentiated scientific system themselves due to a lack of specialized knowledge and must trust that research results, that manifest themselves in publications, are produced according to the rules of good scientific practice. Moreover, the sheer number of articles in scientific journals is unmanageable. The importance of research integrity for its social acceptance is expressed by various international and national rules and recommendations for ensuring research integrity. At the international level, the OECD Policy Paper “Integrity and security in the global research ecosystem”1 can be cited as an example; at the national level, the “Guidelines for safeguarding good scientific practice” of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) 2 can be cited as one example. In addition, special institutions such as the Office of Research Integrity3 in the USA or the Research Integrity Office4 in the UK, are intended to promote research integrity. Last but not least, universities and other scientific institutions have set themselves appropriate rules.

What is meant by research integrity? The German Research Foundation formulates:

“Scientific integrity forms the basis for trustworthy research. It is an example of academic voluntary commitment that encompasses a respectful attitude towards peers, research participants, animals, cultural assets, and the environment, and strengthens and promotes vital public trust in research. The constitutionally guaranteed freedom of research is inseparably linked to a corresponding responsibility. Taking this responsibility into full account and embedding it in individual conduct is an essential duty for every researcher and for the institutions where research is carried out. The research community itself ensures good practice through fair and honest attitudes and conduct as well as organisational and procedural regulations. In different roles, scientific and scholarly societies,

research journals, publishers, research funding agencies, complainants, ombudspersons and the German Research Ombudsman also contribute to safeguarding good research practice; they harmonise their conduct in publicly or privately funded research with the principles of the Code.”5

The integrity of the research process is part of a broader scientific integrity. The latter includes general principles such as working lege artis, allowing critical discourse on research results, working according to professional ethical criteria, the responsibility of the management of scientific institutions and work units, and procedural rules in cases of suspected scientific misconduct. The integrity of the research process itself shall be ensured by following these guidelines:

• Continuous, research-accompanying quality assurance and compliance with subject-specific standards

• Clarification of the roles and responsibilities of the persons involved in a research project

• Carefully researching research that has already been made public on a proposed project. Consideration and acknowledgement of the current state of research

• Consideration of ethical and legal frameworks, consideration of possible misuse of research results, and clarification of rights of use

• Application of scientifically sound and comprehensible methods and standards in answering research questions

• Comprehensible documentation of all information relevant to the occurrence of a research result, in order to be able to check and evaluate results

• Establishing public access to research results, including the research data on which a publication is based, in accordance with FAIR principles, so that the traceability, connectivity and reusability of the research can be guaranteed

• Clarification of the contributions of individual persons and authorship to the research result

• Careful selection as well as examination of the seriousness of the publication organ in which the research results are to be published. In addition to publications in books and journals, research results can also be published in recognized repositories (subject repositories, data and software repositories, institutional repositories)

• Confidentiality to third-party material to which a reviewer or committee member gains access access to while taking part in review processes and discussions

• Archiving research data on which publications are based in an accessible and identifiable manner for at least a period of ten years.6


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The exemplary rules presented by the German Research Foundation are similar to most international, national and institutional rules. The OECD also emphasizes the importance of international cooperation as well as open and transparent communication and the sharing of information and data:

“Scientific discovery occurs in an interconnected, international ecosystem that collectively leverages intellect, know-how, talent, financial resources, and infrastructure from around the world. Freedom of scientific research and international collaboration are cornerstones of scientific progress. Open and transparent communication and dissemination of scientific information and data and sharing of research materials are essential for the global science ecosystem to operate effectively. Global challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and other complex socioeconomic issues cannot be tackled without international research collaboration.”7

So, what roles do libraries have in maintaining the integrity of research? They support researchers in researching the current state of research. They ensure public access to publications through several activities: purchasing or licensing, indexing, archiving, and enabling access to non-open access publications, operating repositories for storing and archiving publications and research data, funding or providing publication infrastructures (for example for journals or book publishing), directly funding or financially supporting fee-based open access publications. Although researchers and their supporting institutions are primarily responsible for maintaining the integrity of the research process and scientific integrity in general, libraries thus contribute indirectly to ensuring the integrity of research.

Libraries, however, are more directly involved in the scholarly publishing system, especially because they substantially cofinance it and help drive the open access transformation of the publishing system. The careful selection of a suitable and reputable publication outlet for research results is rightly the responsibility of the authors themselves in most regulations for ensuring good scientific practice, because they are ultimately responsible for the publication. However, with their funding, libraries bear responsibility for ensuring that undesirable developments in the scientific publication system do not get out of hand. This includes the fact that both non-open-access- and open-access- publishers are increasingly having to withdraw journal articles.8 Organized paper mills attempt to publish special issues of journals with publishers, whose publication fees are often financed by libraries.9, 10

What can academic libraries do in this environment?

Academic libraries should at least reclaim the subscription and publication fees they have paid for retracted journal articles and delisted journals. Perhaps they should pay subscription and publication fees for journals only listed on the Web of Science in the future, and otherwise use their financial resources to operate and build alternative publication infrastructures that do not create economic disincentives to abuse the scientific publishing system. In doing so, they would also contribute to ensuring the integrity of research.


1. OECD (2022). “Integrity and security in the global research ecosystem,” OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers, No. 130, OECD Publishing, Paris.

2. Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (2022). Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice. Code of Conduct.

3. ORI – The Office of Research Integrity. https://ori.hhs. gov/

4. UK Research Integrity Office.

5. Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (2022), p. 7.

6. Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (2022), guidelines 7-17.

7. OECD (2022), p. 4.

8. Retraction Watch Database. Blog: https://retractionwatch. com/ , Database: RetractionSearch.aspx?

9. Grove, Jack (2023). Quality questions as publisher’s growth challenges big players. Analysis shows Swiss publisher MDPI set up almost 56,000 special issues with a closing date in 2023. Times Higher Education News, March 15 2023. news/quality-questions-publishers-growth-challengesbig-players

10. Clark & Esposito (2023). —the brief: Not So Special, Issue 51, March 2023. not-so-special/


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Research Integrity: A Market Overview

Introduction: The Unique Challenge of Research Integrity

Issues of research integrity are ultimately issues of trust. Scientists need their work to be trusted in order to advance their careers, and to ensure their work has a broader societal impact. Publishers need the work they curate to be trusted to maintain their brand and ensure they can continue to pursue revenue and partnerships. Universities and institutions, many of whom now have Research Integrity Offices, also need to safeguard their reputation through the integrity of their researchers. Journal editors and reviewers work to maintain the impact of their publications, so do their best to ensure each piece of research upholds the highest standards, with the help of best practices and guidelines from organizations like The Committee on Publishing Ethics. Institutions, editorial teams, technology organizations, publishers, and more all play a role in improving research integrity. Those roles are under ever more pressure as the landscape of scholarly publishing changes faster and faster.

On top of the complexities of the market, and the different drivers for individual researchers, publishers, institutions, and technology organizations, we need to understand the root drivers of research misconduct in order to properly build solutions.

Research integrity issues become exacerbated when the system is under strain, as it is now with each year seeing a vast increase in submissions and a dwindling pool of reviewers, who often serve as one of the few checks and balances in the publishing process. Strains on the system lead to embarrassing retractions or slower publishing times, which diminish the impact and reputation of science in the public eye. The calls for change in publishing workflows and peer review come from all corners. The system does not work for reviewers, who spend huge amounts of time reviewing work with little credit or recognition. It does not work for editors or publishers, who invest resources on managing complicated processes that might be manual or not well integrated into the rest of their workflows. And it does not work for authors, who are under pressure to publish and have to wait for slow processes that prevent them from sharing their work efficiently. Increasingly, it also does not work for funders, who want the discoveries they’ve invested in shared the moment they are finished.

The Urgent Need To Scale

Research output has grown significantly year over year, scaling up to an incredible degree during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially. As a result, the publishing industry needs to be able to address this increase in volume, and identify research fraud and misconduct at scale.

Before exploring the role of technology to address research integrity, we must establish what has led to our currently strained publishing resources. Research misconduct happens when a system is under pressure. There are limited resources, and a constant call to do things faster. On the part of the researcher, they face immense pressure to publish, in order to

advance their careers and build their personal reputation. This pressure leaves them vulnerable to paper mills and predatory journals, and perhaps more likely to cut corners by engaging in misconduct themselves, or simply making a mistake because there’s little time to perfect a paper. Within our publishing and peer review workflows, there are issues of scale and a pressure to review more papers, faster in an article-based economy. When there’s less time to review each paper, there’s less time to evaluate and identify mistakes or issues that would make a piece of research unsuitable for publication.

The entanglement of business drivers, in which more papers leads to more profit, and reputational drivers, in which publishing papers advances an individual’s career, creates a perfect storm in which individuals and institutions might be tempted to sacrifice accuracy and quality for the sake of scale.

The issue of scale is where technology can have a true impact on scholarly publishing. Building modern, lightweight tools that add a protective layer of assessment for research misconduct will allow publishers to focus on curating the highest quality research at a significantly higher volume, with the confidence that their techstack is supporting their mission to improve research integrity.

The Role of Technology

Technology vendors have a powerful role to play in driving research integrity and supporting publishers’ efforts to detect and prevent common forms of fraud. Technology is uniquely positioned to detect many forms of research misconduct, including:

1) Plagiarism — Plagiarism can take many forms, from taking someone else’s ideas to copying their words without proper attribution. Software can efficiently scan potential research papers against massive databases of web pages and published works to identify areas with too much similarity.

2) Data fabrication — Whether intentional or accidental, the misrepresentation of data is the most common type of research fraud. Data fabrication can be uncovered with algorithms to analyze datasets in submitted works and create statistical models that check for errors and inconsistencies.

3) Analysis errors — Similar to data fabrication, errors can occur during the analysis or results section of a published article. Identifying those anomalies requires a series of automated tests for inconsistencies in statistical analysis.

4) Ethical violations — Ethical violations within a paper can include the manipulation of citations or an overabundance of self-citation. Software can review


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studies, their methods, and their citations against ethical guidelines.

5) Irreproducible results — The reproducibility crisis is well-documented in certain fields of science, in which experiments are not able to be replicated or repeated with the same conclusion. Technology that promotes sharing data, code, and more to perform post-publications reviews can identify reproducibility issues.

6) AI-generated papers — This emerging form of research misconduct occurs when language models are used to draft or complete article submissions. Identifying such language requires the use of additional machine learning models that have been trained to identify generated text, checking for features like repetition and unusual phrasing.

7) Conflicts of interest — Industry databases manage disclosures for authors and reviewers, and can collect and flag inappropriate affiliations or unknown conflicts of interest, especially those that can be challenging to self-report in blind or double blind reviews.

When an issue is as complex as research integrity, an “all hands on deck” approach is the most effective. By nature, scholarly publishing is a collaborative ecosystem, and technology vendors have a critical part to play. The unique approach that technology organizations have toward building tools, products, and solutions brings a valuable diversity of thought to the research ecosystem.

The current landscape of publishing technology is often insular, built in-house, and highly customized or custom-built. However, building effective, lightweight technological solutions is not part of the central mission of most publishing companies, and research integrity issues have been exacerbated by inflexible software that can’t adapt to identify emerging forms of fraud or expand to effectively accommodate the growth in research output. Publishers are unmatched in their ability to curate research and share it with the world, but to operate at the cutting edge of technology, they will need to partner with technology organizations.

Today, technology organizations approach product development with high levels of adaptability. Publishing workflows and infrastructure are complex, often intercut with manual processes. Detangling a publishing workflow to embed research integrity checks is complex without a technology partner that can supply modular solutions that easily integrate. The iterative development of technology and software brings flexibility to the publishing world.

Using a technology supplier to improve research integrity can also ensure a positive, modern, and efficient user experience (UX). The importance of UX cannot be overstated: UX and powerful human-centered design is a critical part of any type of technology today. It gives publishers a unique understanding of exactly what happens at each stage of a workflow, using that data to make improvements both for the user and for the publishing efficiency. We must also remember that publishing technology does not exist in a vacuum. Every other piece of technology researchers engage with in their personal and professional lives provides a very different user experience than many of today’s publishing technologies. For the next generation of researchers in particular, maintaining the status quo will not be acceptable for much longer.

An Integration Strategy

One of the most powerful aspects of the various types of research integrity tools is their ability to integrate with one another, and with traditional publishing infrastructure. Today, publishing infrastructure is already very complex, and it can be incredibly challenging to manage a large migration to new software. Technology suppliers have the ability to enhance existing publishing workflows, leading to a quicker fix for urgent research integrity issues.

Integrations allow the industry to collaborate across different organizations, and create a technology ecosystem surrounding publishing that can quickly and effectively adapt to meet the needs of publishers, and most importantly, researchers themselves. The interoperability of various modules, each expertly designed to solve a problem, leads to faster evolution and a collaborative landscape of technology. Building a technology solution to improve research integrity means bringing together many of those interoperable modules to meet the unique needs of each publishing community. End to end solutions are enhanced with an extra layer of checks and balances for things like plagiarism or conflicts of interest.

Addressing Emerging Technologies

The agility of technical suppliers and their ability to create modular, interoperable solutions, make them critically important to the publishing world for building a proactive approach to emerging technologies. Today, artificial intelligence and machine learning are perhaps the biggest players in the emerging technology landscape at the moment.

• AI-generated content — With the rise of ChatGPT and numerous other AI services, the need to identify and regulate AI-generated content is top of mind for many publishers. Although AI-written text is highly sophisticated, it may have unusual writing styles that differentiate it from the personal touch in human-written papers. Further, the use of AI in writing threatens the originality of scientific papers because AI tools usually include tortured phrases and plagiarized content in the paper, thus undermining ethical standards. AI-generated papers are not the original ideas of the author and we can use plagiarism detection software to analyze the text on a macro level: fighting AI with AI. Much has been written about how to regulate this phenomenon at the editorial level, but first we must be able to reliably identify when content is generated by AI.

• AI-enhanced peer review workflows — Using AI as an additional layer of checks and balances in peer review is a critical counterpoint to the aspects of research fraud made easier by machine learning. At the beginning of the process, algorithms can be used to evaluate the reviewer pool and automatically assign reviewers to new submissions, based on criteria from how much other reviewing work an individual is already in the middle of to their areas of expertise. These algorithms can also automatically assess conflicts of interest. Additionally, AI integrity checks can detect plagiarism, data fabrication or statistical errors. Peer review is a stressed system, with too few reviewers trying to shoulder the burden of too many papers, but all of the manual points of the process, checking for submission completeness, or formatting, can be offloaded to smart


21 Against the Grain / April 2023

technologies. This shift would make the process easier and more efficient for the humans at the heart of it.

• AI-supported trend analysis and taxonomies — One of the unique values of artificial intelligence is synthesizing vast amounts of data. Exploring the impact of machine learning at the discipline level opens up new opportunities to predict trends, chart the course of science, and even predict the future. Developing AI tools that can analyze publishing trends and predict where they will go in the future could support editorial decision-making, and even the launch of strategic new journals. Publishers can find gaps in their programs and fill them more proactively than ever before. This trend analysis could further be applied to the development of more nuanced and advanced taxonomies that draw connections between disciplines and pieces of research with ease. These taxonomies need not be static, or built from the top down, instead they would be a reflection of the global body of research.

• Knowledge translation by language models — For many fields of research, there are many different types of communities that would benefit from the latest research findings. Language models could not only make translation easier for global audiences, they could translate the complex, highly specialized jargon of a scientific paper into a summary that anyone and everyone can understand. Today, the process of producing a plain language summary is often secondary to the original article. It might be mandated by a

journal in order to improve the impact of scientific discovery, but it also represents an extra step of work for an already overburdened author. Language models could further analyze scientific articles and synthesize conclusions or discoveries most relevant for policy, for industry, or for the public, and create audience specific summaries that allow science communication to scale at a rapid and consistent rate.

The only limit of the applications of artificial intelligence in publishing is the human imagination. It’s a polarizing issue that publishing needs to be prepared to address. Technology organizations are perfectly positioned to act as guides to publishers through the minefield between harnessing AI’s potential and safeguarding against AI’s threats.


Technology organizations give scientific publishing the opportunity to address research integrity at scale. To truly improve research integrity, the publishing techstack needs transformation, with the help of a collaborative and competitive ecosystem of tech suppliers. Partnering with technology organizations to improve infrastructure and publishing workflows will allow publishers, editors, and individual researchers to focus on the cultural pressures that threaten research integrity. It is only with strategic partnership between organizations with diverse expertise that research integrity can truly be restored.


22 Against the Grain / April 2023

ATG Special Report — Training Can Solve the Peer Reviewer Diversity Crisis

Crisis in Peer Review

One recent study found that two-thirds of journal review requests get turned down. And during the pandemic, journal editors have had increasing trouble finding suitable peer reviewers for journal submissions. Where did it all go wrong? Or was it inevitably wrong from the outset?

Who Really Enjoys the Peer Review Process? Anyone?

Peer review is usually a daunting, exhausting process for both authors and article reviewers. No-one has a good time, or worse, gains much from this process; authors wait in breathless trepidation (and often fear) for comments to come back about their papers from reviewers via distant ivory-tower journal editors who themselves often struggle to find reviewers willing to work on articles in the first place.

When the wheels finally turn and an article is eventually published, authors tend to feel an enormous sense of relief: “I’ve survived peer review!” I wrote an eBook entitled “Peer Review Survival Skills” on just this topic (I had images of Bear Grylls battling through the wilderness in my head when I wrote it).

One of the key issues here is that limited training is often provided to editors, peer reviewers, and submitting authors. Best practices are out there, but are they being communicated to the key players in the peer review process? Often, participants (as we will see) are expected to “learn on the job” and so mistakes happen, compromising the whole process and publishing integrity as a whole.

Members of the third of our key groups, “reviewing researchers,” are often confused about the peer review process (e.g., common FAQs: Can I suggest peer reviewers, and if so, how?; How long does the process take?; How do I respond effectively when comments are returned?). Editors, if they are not professionals directly employed by publishers, are usually working academics who’ll use keywords for peer reviewer searches and then click buttons within manuscript processing systems like Editorial Manager and ScholarOne.

They’ll often have little insight into the peer reviewers they are selecting (especially if a paper is not directly within their own research area). These “reviewers” might be bad actors or set-ups by authors, again compromising the integrity of the process.

Mistakes happen. Articles get poorly peer reviewed, or worse: research papers end up getting published without being properly assessed. We’ve seen this recently: Clarivate has delisted a range of journals because of issues in peer review from the publisher side. It’s going to be informative to see how aggressive Open Access publishing models, often based around invited volumes of thematic articles and conference proceedings, will emerge from all of this.

Peer Reviewers

Spare a thought for peer reviewers, our focus in this article. These research authors (and they are always research authors, “reviewing researchers”) are often very unsure of how to peer review articles. With some notable exceptions, including the increasing use of open preprint servers, reviews (as part of article revision history) are often not published openly, so academics have little to go on. It’s very difficult to effectively review a new piece of research while simultaneously remaining objective and constructive. What are the key areas to focus on? Is it sufficient to comment on the language and presentation? What kind of review response should be provided if a methodology is clearly flawed or results are incorrectly presented?

Effective peer reviewing does develop with experience, of course, but as any journal editor will tell you, some “reviewing researchers” do a good and thorough job, while others are cursory, time-wasting, or downright rude. These are my Seven Dwarfs of Peer Review. Journal editors only seek one kind: Peer reviewers who are “in-depth, thoughtful and positive in their comments.” Training embedded within the peer review process can help.


23 Against the Grain / April 2023

I’ll never forget the first time I was asked by a journal to peer review a paper. I was working on my PhD in the UK and the article in question was co-authored by a more senior colleague whom I’d met several times at conferences. And a quite prestigious journal, as I recall. I was not sure what to do.

Arrogance kicks in a little. I’ve made it! The International Journal of X and Y has invited me to work as a peer reviewer. But there’s also imposter syndrome: “I’m not good enough — I don’t know enough — to get this done properly.”

My university did not provide any peer review training or any support at all. Mind you: I did not go looking for this either. I did not talk to my supervisor. I learned on the job and my only metric for “performing effective peer review” has been that journals have asked me to work on additional papers for them in the future.

A Solution: Peer Review Training Within The Workflow

The bulk of existing peer review training is made available on demand by publishers, editor associations, author services providers, or via researcher developer organizations like Vitae. The keywords here being “on demand.” I have to go looking for it, or I can get “accredited” to review for a particular journal or publisher by partaking in one of their course bundles. But where’s the incentive for me, a researcher? Many working academics take a dim view of the peer review process via publishers: “Why should I work for free for a journal which will then make a profit by selling the work on subscription?” Understandable. There’s no clear career development benefit for researchers.

Of course, publishers want to educate their peer reviewers to develop a pool of effective go-to researchers for their journals that they can dip into again and again. There is another way: for us to work with peer reviewers and show them that this process is actually a huge development opportunity. Learning to comment constructively and effectively on the work of others can be beneficial to your own career development.

Being positive about the work of others is a key transferable skill, but this is often not found in the peer review process. It’s human nature to think “let’s identify the issues with this article” when it’s placed in front of you for review, rather than “how can I help these authors to improve and get their work published.” It’s a different mindset. Many researchers who work as journal peer reviewers will not remain in academia: With attrition rates above 80% after PhDs and Postdocs, it’s key for us to share career enhancing transferable skills. What if your future boss gives you a document to comment on? You’d not want to be negative and find ways to bury it, you’d want to give comments to aid improvements.

This is the focus of our training at ReviewerCredits. Accrediting and identifying peer reviewers is one key aim, but we need to support researchers as they embark on article assessment, developing a pool of resources that they can use to become more effective. Learning about how peer review works, how it can be performed effectively, and what journals are looking for when it comes to a “good” review report will help authors better develop their own research articles and steer them more successfully through this process to acceptance.

Of course, every journal and area of study is different, but the fundamental basis of peer review remains the same: To quality control academic content that appears in our journals. A byproduct of the peer review process is to improve article content; of course, researchers often don’t feel that their papers have been improved by peer review, they’ve had to “survive” the process. Changing this mindset from both publisher and researcher perspectives is another key goal of ReviewerCredits.

Our innovative training programmes embedded in our accreditation process provide an overview of publishing and peer review for early career researchers (doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers) and help them develop transferable skills, which can be applied within and beyond academia. The programme can be tailored to meet the profile and learning needs of the participants, with a pre-workshop webinar (video on ReviewerCredit platform, free-to-view), workshop facilitation from highly experienced trainers (encompassing journal editors, peer-review best practice experts, and active researchers) as well as post-workshop review, evaluation, and accreditation.

Learning to be an effective peer reviewer means learning to assess the work of others critically in a positive and meaningful way. Positivity towards the work of others is key to collaboration and is also a transferable leadership skill.

Impacts On Research Integrity

Poor quality, poorly performed, or lacking peer reviews have a massive knock-on effect on research integrity as well as publishers’ bottom lines. One recent analysis found that the cost of a single article retraction exceeded $700,000. Obviously, publishers need to invest more in training researchers to act as effective, thoughtful, and constructive peer reviewers but also in building communities and engagement with their pools of quality control assessors.

We feel we have the solution at ReviewerCredits: A pathway for researchers to learn about the process of peer review, what journals need from them, and how they can be constructive and positive when commenting on the work of others. At the same time, peer reviewers are identified, accredited, and badged by the platform based on their skill level and number of successfully completed reviews for journals, with a positive, communitybased experience.

Publishers should work with researchers to enhance the peer review process. One way they can do this is by working with ReviewerCredits. We are living through a peer reviewer diversity crisis: By providing training and career development opportunities for researchers, we’ll enhance the pool of verified peer reviewers who are who they say they are; have interest in the journal editor connections on offer; and can provide robust, repeatable reviews for journals.


24 Against the Grain / April 2023

and Editorials

Op Ed — To Err is Human: Part 2

Retractions in Scholarly Journals


Mistakes happen. We all make them from time to time. But what does it say when our most respected sources — peer reviewed journals — publish mistakes? This is the second in a series of three articles on issues related to errata and retractions in scholarly journals. This article will focus on the frequency of retractions.


What happens when a submitted and accepted article goes beyond error correction? In such cases, this may rise to the level of a retraction, which is also tracked by Scopus using the document type “Retracted” for such items. Scopus was chosen for its wider title coverage than Web of Science and its ability to export data for analysis.

For the same time period 2012-2021 as the previous article on errata, there were 9,206 items listed as Retracted. The number of retractions is a much smaller number compared to errata (over 229,000), with only 94 journals containing more than ten retractions for this period. This document type in Scopus thus allows users to identify these and in the case for this article, see what journals, disciplines, and publishers tend to have higher number of retractions.

In order to find these retractions, all that needs to be done is to enter Scopus and conduct search for the source title and then limit to the document type Retracted. Finding all retractions is a bit more work, but a search for all fields using the following search should get every document indexed:

a* OR b* OR c* OR d* OR e* OR f* OR g* OR h* OR i* OR j* OR k* OR l* OR m* OR n* OR o* OR p* OR q* OR r* OR s* OR t* OR u* OR v* OR w* OR x* OR y* OR z*

For the purposes of this study, the items were limited to 2012-2021 content prior to search. After this point, to examine top titles:

1. The source type was limited to Journal and data about the types of document types was recorded.

2. The Retracted document type was chosen and refined.

3. Only journals with ten or more retractions were examined more closely.

4. A separate search was conducted to obtain total document counts for each journal. The totals were used to identify the percentage of documents that were retractions for each journal.

5. Journal Citation Reports was examined to determine each journal’s impact factor and its highest listed rank. Some journals were ranked in multiple fields, the highest ranking from these was recorded.

6. The current publisher for each journal was recorded.

7. I assigned broad discipline (e.g., medicine, physics) to each journal based upon the journal’s content coverage.

8. Journals with less than 10 retractions were excluded.

This resulted in 6,791 retractions for closer inspection. These items’ journals were examined to see how many total titles of all document types were indexed during this year range and to discover what percentage of their titles published were retractions.


Examining these titles, we see a similar pattern to errata in that medicine journals dominated the items examined. However, in this case, interdisciplinary titles took second place. But looking at the percentage of the retractions rather than title distribution, medicine’s percentage of retractions is more in the middle. Several disciplines had over 1% of their journal content titles indexed as retractions, but note these disciplines had only one or two journals examined. Biology was the area with more than two journals with the highest retraction rate from the journals examined. Medicine, a heavy hitter for errata, had a lower percentage than several areas, but still had the largest number of titles (37, or 39.4% of the journals). See Figure 1 page 27.

Examining the publishers of these titles, a smaller number of publishers was seen compared to the errata and commercial large publishers dominated. However, a few smaller publishers had three or more journals on the list, as seen in Figure 2 on page 28.

Examining the journal titles with the highest percentage of retractions is quite a different experience from examining the errata. In this case (see Table 1 page 28), one sees more:

• Niche titles than general titles

• Large commercial publishers

Similar to errata, the impact factor and rankings of journals were examined by using Journal Citation Reports and selecting the highest listed ranking. While not as high as the errata titles, these journals also had fairly high rankings and impact factors, indicating that these are, for the most part, not low-quality journals. Note only one title had no impact factor. See Figure 3 page 28.


In summary, examining the data for these journals with the most retractions published 2012-2021 revealed:

• Many reputable journals have published content requiring retractions.

• Publishers of all types are publishing content requiring retractions.


26 Against the Grain / April 2023
Op Ed — Opinions

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• Medicine has a lot of journals with retractions, but also medicine has a lot of journals in general.

• Medicine is not as dominant in the top retraction percentage titles compared to errata. What cannot be determined via the data for this study, or were not examined closer, but are potential areas to explore further:

• Why are these retractions happening?

• Are journals with less retractions doing something different?

Are other journals doing a better job at catching problems prior to publication?

Do they get less items requiring retractions to begin with?

Figure 1: Journal Title Count and Percentage of Retractions of Indexed Titles

Are they simply removing retracted items, but not notifying databases of changes?

Are they doing something different with how retractions are labeled?

Are items that should be retracted just not retracted (whether by authors or the journal)?

Are some journals treating these as errata or some other category rather than labeling as a retraction?


Against the Grain / April 2023
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• Could the editorial or peer review process do anything to lower the rate of retractions?

• Why does medicine seem to dominate the retractions, but not as much as errata?

• Whether items labeled as retractions were truly retractions (as opposed to being mislabeled).

• Are retracted items still available to view?

• At what point does the article get retracted (weeks, months, even years after publication)?

Next time, I will be sharing whether this matters in the sense of people using this content. In other words, are people citing content with errata or retractions?

Use this link to read Daniel’s Op Ed — To Err is Human Part 1

Daniel Dotson’s “Op Ed — To Err is Human Part 1: Errata in Scholarly Journals?” which appeared in our February 2023 issue (v.35#1, pgs. 28-30) is available on the Charleston Hub here:

Part three of this series will appear in our June issue.


28 Against the Grain / April 2023
Table 1: Highest Percentage of Retractions Figure 3: Impact & Best Rank for the 94 Retractions Journals Figure 2: Journals with 10+ Retractions by Publisher

Reader’s Roundup: Monographic Musings & Reference Reviews

Column Editor’s Note: “The horror! The horror!”

In many ways, this is an awful way to start a book review column. All things considered, there is nothing in this column that is truly a horror that librarians should avoid at all costs. But this famous quote from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness certainly pulled double meaning for me — especially during the week we had in Michigan recently.

An ice storm came through Southeastern Michigan (where I live in Ypsilanti) on Wednesday February 22nd. The steady freezing rain in a relatively small band just north of the Michigan-Ohio border took a damp day and turned it into a dangerous one. Over the course of the day, the trees developed a coat of ice on them, bringing down limbs, and with it, both steady power and Internet. Many people in the area (including a number of colleagues) lost power on Wednesday and it did not return until Sunday. We actually made it through the initial storm, only to lose power on Saturday when a transformer blew up. And amid these power outages, WiFi, especially via Xfinity, was in short supply. Without power and without Internet … truly, we were thrust into a “heart of darkness.”

Both the power outage and the fact that we have a review for Critical Insights: Heart of Darkness has me thinking about the new world of work and the new world of libraries. It has nothing to do with the quote I shared above, but instead on the reliance and need of electricity to do our work in and using the modern library.

I remember when I was a manager at the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh many years ago. We were located in two buildings: one in the Oakland neighborhood, near the University of Pittsburgh, and the other in the Strip District, the site of the current Heinz History Center. I cannot remember exactly when it happened, but there was a power outage in our Oakland building where the library and archives were located. It was Winter, so we knew at best, we could only work as long as the heat was working and the light was shining through the windows. Since we worked with archival and print collections, we had access to the tools of our trade. But around 2 pm, I sent everyone home. The light was not great and it was getting cool in the building. I had later heard that some people (or maybe one person) from the building that did not lose power were not happy that we got extra time off in our building. If this happened today, I would have sent everyone home to login from there. But alas, that was not the world of the mid 1990s.

The modern library practically does not exist without electricity and access to the Internet. We are so dependent on access to our library collections from wherever we are that any interruption is one that you cannot easily manage. It is not just about missing an episode of The Mandalorian (guilty Baby Yoda fan here), it is about connecting to news, articles, reports, books, and everything. And if you are an electronic only collection such as mine at Kresge Library Services, you are doubly impacted by any outage.

This brings up an important issue about the other major role of a library. The library continues to be critical as a community center and place where we can study. Many administrators have viewed the books on our shelves as storage. That is partly true, but unfairly stigmatizes the value of shelf browsing for our patrons. The real value of libraries, as many have said more eloquently than I am, is that of a “third place.” The first place is your home, and the second place is your work. The third place is where you can be outside in your community. This is a critical role for a library of every type.

In fact, during the recent ice storm last week, the Ann Arbor District Library stayed open on the first day, providing residents with an overnight warming center for those without power.1 I am so thrilled to live in a community that made their library available as a warming center to those who needed it. In many ways, the Ann Arbor District Library showcased heart during darkness.

We need to remember this is an important part of our role, in addition to making available reputable works for our community. And periodically, you can make lemonade out of lemons. So when we lost Internet and had power, I was able to get a good jump on this and the next column. I guess this is what’s possible when you are not searching for Baby Yoda and squirrels on the web all day. Speaking of which….

The works in this issue are mostly reference in nature and cover the academic needs of students as well as the health needs of community members. There also is a work focused on teaching banned books, something of critical value to public and school librarians everywhere. I very much appreciate the work of the reviewers who really dig into the work and provide context that may be missing elsewhere. Thank you to my reviewers for this issue: Kelly Denzer (Davidson College); Carolyn Filippelli (University of Arkansas – Fort Smith); Peter Hesseldenz (University of Kentucky); Susan E. Montgomery (Rollins College); Mechele Romanchock (Alfred University);


29 Against the Grain / April 2023
Cosmo and Runyon keeping warm during a power outage because of the ice storm, February 26th, 2023.

and Katherine Swart (Calvin University). As always, thank you very much for your work in bringing this column together.

If you would like to be a reviewer for Against the Grain, please write me at <>. If you are a publisher and have a book you would like to see reviewed in a future column, please also write me directly. You can also find out more about the Reader’s Roundup here (new site name) — https://www.

Happy reading and be nutty! — Corey

Evans, Robert C., editor. Critical Insights: Heart of Darkness. Ipswich, Massachusetts: Salem Press, 2019. 9781642652734, 308 pages. $105.00

Reviewed by Kelly Denzer (Collections Strategist and Discovery Librarian, Davidson College, Davidson, NC.)


The Critical Insights from Salem Press series explores popular and often complex works of literature providing students new ways of approaching the subject matter. Point in case, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1902), a central work in many high school and undergraduate courses on literature. Conrad’s novella is fraught with difficult themes, symbolism, and imagery of nineteenth century imperialism. The story centers on Charlie Marlow’s experience as a steamboat skipper for a Belgium trading company as he describes his encounters with other European colonizers and native African people during an expedition through the Congo. The story is based on Conrad’s own experience as a riverboat captain for a similar Belgium company in Africa in 1890.

In this Critical Insights volume, editor Robert C. Evans compiles a host of relevant essays addressing not only the themes of Conrad’s novella but also the criticism it has received over the twentieth and into the twenty-first century. Evans is

Guide to the ATG Reviewer Ratings

The ATG Reviewer Rating is being included for each book reviewed. Corey came up with this rating to reflect our collaborative collections and resource sharing means and thinks it will help to classify the importance of these books.

• I need this book on my nightstand. (This book is so good, that I want a copy close at hand when I am in bed.)

• I need this on my desk. (This book is so valuable, that I want my own copy at my desk that I will share with no one.)

• I need this in my library. (I want to be able to get up from my desk and grab this book off the shelf, if it’s not checked out.)

• I need this available somewhere in my shared network. (I probably do not need this book, but it would be nice to get it within three to five days via my network catalog.)

• I’ll use my money elsewhere. (Just not sure this is a useful book for my library or my network.)

a Distinguished Teaching Professor at Auburn University at Montgomery and editor of numerous volumes in the Critical Insights series. He authored many essays in this edition including a biography of Conrad that provides insight into Conrad’s early years living under the Russian Empire with his Polish nationalist parents in Eastern Europe. A time that was perhaps formative to his thoughts on imperialism, a main topic in Heart of Darkness.

This volume opens with an essay on the Heart of Darkness by University of North Texas Distinguished Research Professor, John Peters. Peters has written extensively on Conrad, serving as past President of the Joseph Conrad Society of America and current General Editor of Conradiana , the oldest journal in Conrad studies. Peters’ essay provides insights on the novella’s journey of self-discovery for Marlow’s character, the use of language and meaning, and the aspect of memory and experience which he notes is unusual for late nineteenth century literature. His essay serves as a good introduction to the novella and its unusual narrative style, as Marlow is both a character in a specific time and place, and a narrator recalling an event.

Each Critical Insights volume includes a Critical Contexts section and a Critical Readings section. The contextual essays explore the historical context broadly then drills down to more focused themes, such as light and dark in Heart of Darkness The Critical Readings section is the longest and covers diverse topics in the novella. Here, the first essay is an interesting comparison of the original manuscript draft to that of the final publication. Written by David Mulry, a professor of English and webmaster for the Joseph Conrad Society of America. Mulry discusses a significant revision of Mr. Kurtz, the ivory trader and head of a trading station believed to be dead, thus the reason for Marlow’s expedition. Kurtz is a controversial character of the story who did more harm than good in his intended mission by selfishly retrieving ivory from Africa and taking advantage of the native people.

The final entry in the Critical Readings section provides context around the milieu in which Conrad was writing through images of the Congo region instead of a written narrative. These were hand drawn by British artist Herbert Ward, French artist Victor Perard, and illustrator W. B. Davis during their time in the Congo region in the 1880’s. Evans notes these images are unique for Heart of Darkness scholarship and offer details about the interactions of the native African people and Western European colonizers at the time. In an earlier essay in this section, Evans provides a textual analysis of Herbert Ward’s 1891 book, Five Years with the Congo Cannibals where the illustrations were originally published.

In addition to students of Conrad’s novella, film students will also appreciate the references to Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” (1979) depicting the Vietnam War. Heart of Darkness is acknowledged by Coppola as the inspiration for the film and among other mentions in this reference volume, Gene M. Moore writes an essay discussing the issue of closure that both the author of the novella, and the writer of the script had in common. In the earlier mentioned essay by Mulry comparing the original manuscript and the final publication, he recounts Conrad’s anxiety over completing the manuscript on time and within the original size limit, growing from 30,000 words to closer to 40,000 as a novella.

The issues of European imperialism, slavery in Africa, colonialism, and ethics brought forward in Conrad’s novella carry with them a complexity, especially to today’s undergraduate or high school student. While it is not a summary of the novella, students assigned the work and looking for a better


30 Against the Grain / April 2023

understanding of these complex topics will appreciate the many perspectives represented in this volume. The diverse viewpoints taken up in the essays makes it an important addition to a high school or undergraduate library in particular, but this would be a welcome volume in any academic research library.

ATG Reviewer Rating: I need this in my library. (I want to be able to get up from my desk and grab this book off the shelf, if it’s not checked out.)

Evans, Robert C., editor, Critical Insights: Invisible Man. Ipswich, Massachusetts: Salem Press, a division of EBSCO Information Services, Inc.; Amenia, NY: Grey House Publishing, 2018.

9781682179192, 264 pages. $105.00

Reviewed by Peter Hesseldenz (Academic Liaison for Literature and Humanities, University of Kentucky Libraries, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky) <>

Over the years, there have been numerous volumes intended to introduce college students to Ralph Ellison’s sole novel, Invisible Man. The latest in this group is Critical Insights: Invisible Man from Salem Press’ series edited by Robert C. Evans. Like other books of this type, this volume contains a mix of critical essays, biographical material on the author, and other resources such as a chronology and a bibliography. This particular example is made worthwhile because of its many high-quality entries including some on subjects that are seldom explored, such as efforts to ban Invisible Man and critical responses to both Invisible Man the play and the film Ralph Ellison: An American Journey. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this work for today’s student, however, is its dedication to pointing out Invisible Man’s continued relevance though its connection to contemporary issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement and systemic racism.

This book, like others in the Critical Insights series, begins with a short introductory section before moving into the main body which is broken into three parts — Critical Contexts, Critical Readings, and Resources. One highlight of the opening section is an essay from Classics scholar Patrice Rankine (University of Chicago) in which he not only provides a useful introduction to the main themes of Ellison’s masterpiece, but also helps to make Invisible Man relatable for students. Rankine does this by describing the difficulty he had getting himself to begin this long and challenging novel, much less stick it out to the end. Even a great scholar can find literature challenging to get through, and important lesson for everyone, especially students.

The aim of the next section, Critical Contexts, is to introduce readers to the novel in four different contexts. In addition to the aforementioned article on attempts to ban Invisible Man by Phil Johnson, this section also includes the first of two essays by editor Evans covering the early critical response to Invisible Man. In it, Evans introduces quotes from representative critical works, both positive and negative, and notes trends and highlights. The next two essays in this section are more traditional literary criticism in that they examine specific themes in the novel. In an interesting piece, Nicholas Tredell looks at the way that Ellison uses sensory imagery, such as hearing and seeing, to describe and represent the protagonist in the novel. The last essay in this section, by Steven D. Ealy, focuses on Biblical allusions in Invisible Man

The heart of this volume is the Critical Readings section, which consists of eleven pieces that cover several different

types of writing. This first article, by Ellison biographer Arnold Rampersad, is an insightful look at how Ellison’s life is reflected in his work. As the transcript of a lecture Rampersad gave, this selection has an engaging and lively conversational feel. Another article by Evans summarizes several of Ellison’s early interviews about Invisible Man, including a few that have been difficult to find in the United States. Nicolas Tredell, in a second essay, looks at the role anger plays in the novel. Antonio Byrd’s piece explores Ellison’s thoughts on the craft of writing, while Lucas E. Morel adds two essays, one on individualism and another on the political implications of Invisible Man. Two additional works — Michael Germana’s “On Invisible Man: Past, Present, and Present Past” and Grant Shreve’s “Invisible Man’s Relationship with the Reconstruction Era” — look at how history and the past inform the novel. The Critical Readings section is rounded out by Evans’ second article on the critical responses to Invisible Man, this time covering the 1970s to the early 21st century, as well as the overviews of past reviews of the Invisible Man play and the documentary film Ralph Ellison: An American Journey. These last three entries will be helpful for students since they conveniently bring together material that would be difficult and time-consuming for them to find on their own.

Despite the plethora of information already available about Ellison’s great work, this volume will be a welcome edition for students. Its formula, which includes covering many aspects of Invisible Man using various writing styles, embodies Rankin’s characterization of the novel having “universal appeal.” This approach will help to provide a new generation of readers with tools for connecting with Ellison’s unnamed protagonist. To paraphrase the novel’s famous last line, this book speaks to us on many different frequencies.

ATG Reviewer Rating: I need this in my library. (I want to be able to get up from my desk and grab this book off the shelf, if it’s not checked out.)

Mercadal, Trudy, Ph.D., editor. Great Lives from History: Latinos, 2nd Edition. Hackensack, NJ: Salem Press. 9781642656794, 3 volumes, 1100 pages. $395.

Reviewed by Susan E. Montgomery (Research & Instruction Librarian/Professor, Olin Library, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL) <>.

In this three-volume reference work, updated and enhanced from the 2012 edition, Trudy Mercadal presents a collection of informative essays on 565 different individuals of diverse heritage. All the individuals included in this work have contributed to United States history, culture, and society. Part of the “Great Lives” series published by Salem Press, Great Lives from History: Latinos is an easy-to-use reference resource that will appeal to high-school readers and up. Each entry provides a good overview of the individual along with an annotated list of suggested readings that the reader can consult for further information.

Trudy Mercadal, Ph.D., a professor at Florida Atlantic University, is the editor of this comprehensive work. Mercadal has authored chapters in scholarly books on cultural studies and women in combat. The contributors to this volume represent a wide range of institutions and professional organizations and the entries are well-researched and written.

The volumes are organized alphabetically by the individual’s last name, with biographical data at the beginning of each entry,


31 Against the Grain / April 2023

along with highlights of the person’s notable achievement to warrant inclusion in this work. The essay body, between 1,0002,000 words, is structured in the same format throughout all three of the volumes: early life, life’s work, and significance. The entry also provides the Latino heritage for each person.

As I browsed through the pdf version of this text, which would have benefited from hyperlinks, I appreciated the diverse representation of individuals such as politicians, authors, celebrities, etc. as well as the combination of contemporary and historical figures who have made contributions worldwide. Most of the individuals included in the text had lineage to countries in Latin America. However, I found some entries in the volume quite surprising. One was the entry on the Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was born in the British West Indies, on the island of Nevis in the Caribbean. The entry points out that the island where Hamilton was born was originally named “Nuestra Señora de las Nieves” (Our Lady of the Snows) by Spanish conquistadores and later was renamed to Nevis by the British. The other unique entry was singer Julio Iglesias whose indicated heritage is Spanish (as in the country Spain). Iglesias’s music has earned him recognition in the United States, as he was awarded several Latin Grammys. The entry also highlights his humanitarian projects worldwide. I question including these two individuals in this volume. I was not convinced that either Hamilton or Iglesias could be identified as Latino when comparing them to other individuals in this volume or how the Latino identity is defined today.

These two entries highlight a potential shortcoming of the work. The recent discussions about diversity and inclusion in the United States have prompted a great deal of questions about identity. Identity is an intensely personal decision, and the choices people make as to how they identify cannot be presumed or generalized based on a single factor. A discussion about this aspect of identity and how heritage can inform a person’s identity would have enhanced the content presented in this work.

Thus, although this work is well-organized and detailed, it lacks a more formal discussion of the question of identity. How do you do define Latino and what aspects about a person’s lineage or heritage form who is Latino? Regardless, the depth and breadth of these three volumes offer readers a great jumping off point for their research.

ATG Reviewer Rating: I need this available somewhere in my shared network. (I probably do not need this book, but it would be nice to get it within three to five days via my network catalog.)

Nutrition, Obesity, & Eating Disorders Handbook & Resource Guide. Amenia, NY: Grey House Publishing, 2021. ISBN: 9781-63700-063-2, 400 Pages. $165 Print.

Reviewed by Carolyn Filippelli (Reference Librarian, Boreham Library, University of Arkansas — Fort Smith)


Nutrition, Obesity, & Eating Disorders Handbook & Resource Guide is one of the volumes in the Grey House Health & Wellness Guides. With its extensive content and its impressive listings of agencies, support groups, statistics, and web sites, it is a consumer health resource not to be missed.

This volume is conveniently arranged into four logical divisions: Section One: Studies & Statistics About Nutrition,

Obesity, & Eating Disorders; Section Two: Conditions Related to Nutrition; Section Three: Conditions Indirectly Related to Nutrition; and Section Four: Appendix & Indexes.

Section One provides an extensive explanation of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans: 2020-2025 from the USDA 2 These guidelines suggest dietary recommendations over the lifespan and contain practical and realistic recommendations for improving the nutrition and eating plans for persons of all ages.

Also included in this section are profiles for two eating plans that have been extensively researched and are currently of interest to many consumers. These are the DASH Eating Plan and the Mediterranean Diet. DASH standard for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” Practical applications of the DASH Eating Plan are shown through inclusion of suggested weekly menus. For the Mediterranean Diet, colorful illustrations are used to show examples of foods recommended by this diet.

As you might imagine, the section focuses on nutrient dense foods as the gold standard in one’s ideal diet. Eating plans should focus on incorporating these foods and minimizing saturated fats, sodium, and sugar. Instead of just basic guidelines urging the need for better nutrition, specific attention is given to actual plans such as “MyPlate Plans,” “Making Nutrient Dense Choices,” “Making Healthy Choices: One Day at a Time,” and examples of “GO, SLOW, and WHOA Foods” (from the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute). The use of realistic examples and detailed plans for showing how improvements in eating plans can be made practically and easily in everyday meals is a signal accomplishment. Practices that actually work are very useful to persons attempting to improve nutritional practices. Concluding Section One is extensive information on conditions such as Eating Disorders, diabetes, CKS (Chronic Kidney Disease), bone health, and Obesity.

Section Two addresses eleven medical conditions that are directly related to nutrition (or the lack therein). Among these are allergies, diabetes, eating disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, skin disorders & conditions, heart disease, hypertension, kidney and liver disease, obesity, osteoarthritis, and ulcerative colitis. Each condition includes both print and nonprint resources in sections titled: Agencies & Associations, Foundations & Research Centers, Support Groups & Hotlines, Journals, Web Sites, and Digital Resources. The unique connection made between specific medical conditions and nutritional influences is an important one. This connection is often overlooked and should be emphasized more often.

Section Three focuses on conditions indirectly related to nutrition continued with detailed resources on cancer, chronic pain, mental illness, substance abuse, stroke, and thyroid conditions.

This volume would make an excellent addition to consumer health collections in both public and academic libraries. It is a comprehensive “one stop” guide. College and university students would find it to be an excellent background resource for information on medical conditions and nutrition as well as a springboard to additional sources for research. The book is well written for a general audience with little jargon. The focus is on the average citizen who can take the recommendations and examples provided and act on them to promote a healthier lifestyle.

Although this guide does not focus on social determinants of health issues such as access to and affordability of health, it provides many practical and affordable suggestions for making eating and dietary improvements that are within the reach of most people. How far would a lifestyle based on a healthy


32 Against the Grain / April 2023

eating plan diet and good nutrition go in reducing the national rates of such medical conditions as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease? What would be the effect of good nutritional practices combined with exercise on insurance costs, reducing the incidence of common medical conditions, and in creating a healthier populace? Healthy America 2030 presents some aspirational guidelines for public health improvement. The nutritional advice and encouragement in this volume provide a guide that would help in improving national health indicators and the incidence of many common medical conditions.

ATG Reviewer Rating: I need this in my library. (I want to be able to get up from my desk and grab this book off the shelf, if it’s not checked out.)

Scales, Pat R. Teaching Banned Books: 32 Guides for Children and Teens, 2nd edition. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2020. 978-08389-4638 paper. 176 pp. $44.99.

Reviewed by Mechele Romanchock (Director of Libraries, Alfred University, Alfred, NY) <>

Addressing controversial issues has always been a formidable task for teachers and librarians. As book and curricular challenges hit the headlines with alarming regularity, it has only gotten harder. Many educators and librarians can be certain their every book choice will be scrutinized by a wide variety of community members, administrators, parents, or other stakeholders.

Pat R. Scales is a well-known and respected secondary school educator and former chair of the ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, past president of the Association of Library Services to Children, and past chair of the Newbery Committee, Caldecott Committee, and Laura Ingalls Wilder Committee. This expanded second edition contains resources for teaching thirty-two books “appropriate for readers ages 9-18.” Included are 9 of the original titles from the first edition and twenty-three new titles grouped according to themes of bullying, racism, bigotry, what Scales calls “tough choices,” other cultures, the past and future and, “This Was My Life,” that features two memoirs.

Each guide includes a short synopsis of the work, a suggested activity “before reading,” “group discussion” questions, “writing prompts and activities” as well as “read-a-likes” with a note indicating the connecting theme. The open-ended questions included in each guide are thoughtful discussion starters that use the plot points and themes of the title in question as context for broaching the controversial topics that sparked a ban or challenge.

Though most of the prompts and activities are title specific, many are adaptable and could provide inspiration for teaching read-a-likes, giving this volume more use beyond the 32 featured guides. This is a key factor to consider, as the majority of the titles are not what has populated ALA’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books list in recent years. While that is the case, these works may be found on the more extended lists of reported challenges to libraries across the United States. The author states in the preface, “I have chosen novels that because of their literary merit are most likely to be taught, or used in books clubs in public libraries.”

The selections are indeed of literary merit as Scales states, with many Michael J. Printz and Newbery medalists and honor titles included.

These 32 guides will be useful for teachers or librarians who wish to address censorship, the first amendment, and introduce young readers to the crucial societal practice of civilly discussing potentially polarizing themes by rooting that conversation in well-known modern classics. However, given the title is Teaching Banned Books, some readers may expect more titles currently making headlines for bans or challenges. Considering the frequency of bans and challenges to books with LGBTQ or racial themes, some readers may be left wanting for even more titles addressing these topics. Additionally, as with some other ALA Editions publications, it appears to be more expensive than it should be for a paperback of its length.

ATG Reviewer Rating: I need this available somewhere in my shared network. (I probably do not need this book, but it would be nice to get it within three to five days via my network catalog.)

Wilner, Lindsey L. and Megan E. Shaal (Eds.). Principles of Health: Anxiety and Stress. Ipswich, MA: Salem Press, 2020. 9781642656992, 400 pages. $165.00.

Reviewed by Katherine Swart (Collection Development Librarian, Hekman Library, Calvin University) <>

Principles of Health: Anxiety and Stress is the fourth book to be released in Salem Press’s Principles of Health reference book series. Available in print and as an ebook, this volume provides an overview of the types, sources, and treatments of common anxiety disorders, as well as several in-depth essays on specific conditions. With relatively easy-to-understand language, Anxiety and Stress is intended for upper high schoolers, undergraduates, and researchers. Editors Lindsey L. Wilner, Psy.D. and Megan E. Shaal, Psy.D. are independent scholars who coordinated a team of over 90 authors to produce this work. Though many of the contributors are also listed as independent scholars, the majority hail from well-known universities and colleges in the United States.

The 169 entries are arranged within seven sections. “Types of Anxiety and Stress” offers three to four-page overviews of the most common types of anxiety, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, and postpartum psychosis. Most entries include an introduction, a brief look at historical and theoretical perspectives, and a discussion of causes and treatments.

“Sources of Anxiety and Stress” continues with articles about common stressors that often lead to anxiety disorders. These include bullying, family dynamics, minority stress, and poor body image among others. The topic of separation and divorce is nicely divided into two entries: one for adult issues and one for children’s issues. As in the previous section, an introduction, a brief look at the literature on the topic, and discussions of diagnosis and treatment are usually covered.

The “Assessing Anxiety and Stress” section covers common anxiety


33 Against the Grain / April 2023

assessment tests such as The Beck Anxiety Inventory. Following this is a section of “Related Conditions,” including depression, eating disorders, and insomnia. Each three-to-four-page overview includes explanations of the types of conditions, historical perspectives, and treatment methods.

“Treatment, Therapy, and Coping” discusses traditional ways of dealing with anxiety that professionals might use, such as Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT), medications, and resiliency. “Complementary and Alternative Therapies” delves into nontraditional treatments like light therapy and herbal supplements.

Lastly, the “Conditions In-Depth” section highlights seven disorders and gives practical advice for how to receive a diagnosis, recognize symptoms, and seek treatment. For example, the generalized anxiety disorder portion includes information on screening, diagnosis, symptoms, risk factors, medications, other treatments, tips for talking with one’s doctor, and additional resources.

The volume includes occasional black-and-white photos, a glossary, bibliography, and index. While the index is extensive, I quickly found errors in it. For example, look up OCD in the index and it completely omits the Conditions In-Depth: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder section on pages 318-323.

Somewhat unevenly, the 169 entries either have a list of books and articles for further reading or simply have a list

in the citations. For example, some web references give an “accessed on” date, while others do not. The entry on “Ending Unhealthy Relationships” even contains three URLs and no other bibliographic data.

Aside from the typos and relatively minor problems, the work provides a useful overview of the common types of anxiety and stress, as well as current treatments and further reading. It is a good fit for an undergraduate library reference collection.

ATG Reviewer Rating: I need this in my library. (I want to be able to get up from my desk and grab this book off the shelf, if it’s not checked out.)


1. Booth, Dejanay. City of Ann Arbor opens 2 overnight warming centers following ice storm (February 23, 2023) — (accessed March 2, 2023).

2. default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_ Americans_2020-2025.pdf


34 Against the Grain / April 2023
2022 CHARLESTON CONFERENCE Videos available now on our YouTube Channel Charleston Leadership Interviews Plenary Session Videos

Booklover — Ethics: Past, Present, Future

“In our days morality has ceased to be a matter of such unquestionable certainty, and has been drawn into the wave of disintegration which is passing over our minds.” — Rudolph

Is this a foreshadowing, or does every generation of thinkers, philosophers, and writers see society in such a light? This reads like it is written for today, but in actuality it was penned by Rudolph Eucken in 1913 as part of a series of lectures. “Ethics and Modern Thought: A Theory of Their Relations” was the title of the Deem Lectures delivered by Eucken at the New York University from the end of February to early March of 1913. At the time Eucken was a Senior Professor of Philosophy at the University of Jena located in Jena, Germany.

Rudolf Christoph Eucken was awarded the 1908 Nobel Prize in Literature “in recognition of his earnest search for truth, his penetrating power of thought, his wide range of vision, and the warmth and strength in presentation with which in his numerous works he has vindicated and developed an idealistic philosophy of life.” These descriptors are acutely evident in these lectures. (My electronic highlighter was busy, as I needed to punctuate numerous passages as I read.) Oddly, even Eucken might have recognized this as he stated that the Deem Lectures “appeal less to students and philosophers than to the cultured public at large.” Maybe his insight is critical and the accolades worth dissection. The relevance or connection to a view of present times will at times seem eerie as this analysis moves forward.

If each title in the document represents an individual lecture then there were six. Their titles are:

I: The Ethical Problem in the Present Time

II: The Ethical Principle

III: A Defence of the Ethical Principle

IV: Evolution of the Ethical Principle

V: Morality and Religion

VI: The Present Status of Morality.

Let’s proceed by pairing quotes to accolades.

“His earnest search for truth”:

I: “Many of our contemporaries are of opinion that the revelations of modern science and the claims of modern life have destroyed the foundations of morality and made it untenable in the old sense.”

III: “Great shocks and strong emotions often produce new convictions or set free new forces within us.”

IV: “Morality undoubtedly has much to do in relation to our fellow-men; but does it not also find great tasks in the culture of the soul, — in spiritual work for the world, as expressed in science and art?”

“His penetrating power of thought”:

II: “The requirements thus formulated lead to a system of ethics. Its fundamental doctrine is man’s power to rise by free action to the higher plane of cosmic life, and to develop it with all the strength of his soul.”

III: “Our life thus becomes a struggle between freedom and fate; and to this struggle it chiefly owes its expansion and greatness.”

IV: “How often have the nations longed to return to simpler and more innocent beginnings!”

VI: “Another disadvantage for inner culture is the rapid pace of life, as compared to former times. While we are hastening from moment to moment, we have neither repose nor leisure for the culture of our inner man, for the development of a character, a personality. We are more and more in danger of being absorbed by the whirlpool of life, and robbed of all possibility of self-conscious action. Other perils also beset us. In our thirst for achievement and success, our moral judgment is often repressed; the accentuation of the battle of life can even make us indifferent to the moral quality of the ways and means employed by us. All this necessarily weakens morality, and makes it appear unimportant and shadowy.” (A philosopher’s perspective from 1913!)

“His wide range of vision”:

I: “The “social” ethics thus developed are further enhanced by the growing conviction that the traditional form of life in the community is capable — nay needful — of fundamental changes.”

II: “All this implies a great task for man. He is an imperfect and unfinished being, full of contradictions. He has to seek and achieve genuine life; he must penetrate from the sphere of effects to that of their causes; he must recognise the great cosmic movement as a personal concern of his own, and must thus give meaning and value to his life and aspiration.”

VI: “Every party and faction preaches some ideal of its own, the attainment of which will, it believes, unite men, making them good and happy. But these individual aims are very different in character; they are a cause of mutual hindrance, and they divide mankind in that which should be a means of union.”

“The warmth and strength in presentation”:

III: “The statesman wishing to raise his people from within, builds on such a capacity for inner growth, and believes in the realisation of new possibilities; so does the educator in his efforts to cultivate and ennoble men’s souls. Art and religion are ever at work, in order to discover new possibilities and bring them home to man.”

IV: “Moral life can quite well unite earnestness and joy, reverence and love — earnestness and reverence towards the superior majesty of a higher power operative to us, joy and love arising from the mighty presence of this higher power within us.”

“An idealistic philosophy of life.”

Eucken’s final statement in Lecture VI: “We believe also in the development in America of such moral strength as will successfully overcome all conflicts and lead to splendid results, for the benefit not only of the American nation, but of all mankind.”

Sometimes you just have to let the words of a laureate speak for themselves.


35 Against the Grain / April 2023


Legally Speaking — U.N.I.O.N.S.

I’d like to start this issue’s column by paraphrasing my last: this ... is about [unions], a topic that is wholly outside of my wheelhouse and required a lot of research so I could even think about what to write, let alone put it on the page. I live and work in Florida, a right to work state, where there are very few unions. But like any rational person, I watch the news and see the headlines about employees around the country unionizing. How exciting! These people are really looking out for each other!

Regardless of how you may feel about unions, the impact of their impact is often felt by all of us. When nurses in Minneapolis went on strike last year, one of my best friends was on the picket line instead of in the NICU tending to the babies she cares for so deeply. The nurses’ reason for striking? They wanted better pay and more control over staffing,1 issues that are commonly raised when union members decide to go on strike after failed negotiations.

Libraries and publishers, of course, are not immune from the impact of the impact of unions (and yes, I said that twice on purpose). In winter of 2022/2023, when the union members at Harper Collins went on strike, the effects were felt within weeks.

Before we dive into what this means for the rest of us, it’s important to understand the union setup at Harper Collins and why people went on strike in the first place. HarperCollins is the only major publisher to have a union.2 There are over 250 unionized employees, and those employees work in legal, marketing, sales, publicity, design, and editorial departments. HarperCollins is based in New York City, and the average salary for employees is $55,000 (I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that it would be hard to thrive on that salary in Manhattan). It’s also important to understand that HarperCollins is owned by NewsCorp, Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate, which routinely records record profits (can you hear the Succession theme song in your head, because I sure can!).

In October of 2022, after eleven months of contract negotiations with management, 95.1% of the union voted to strike. Their reason? According to the president of the union HarperCollins workers belong to, the workers were demanding a financially unsustainable workplace that is also inaccessible to people from a variety of backgrounds, while also ending the union’s status as an open shop.3 In the beginning, the gap in negotiations seemed insurmountable. Publishing, like libraries, is known for being an industry of white workers and low wages, so why were people striking now? It seems the nationwide increase in support for unions had an impact.

Many authors and agents reached out to HarperCollins in support of the striking employees, which prompted Brian Murray, President and CEO of the publishing house, to issue a press release where he extolled the employees, citing their hard work and passion, while also claiming to be disappointed that the efforts made by the company to come to an agreement were mischaracterized by the union. As with everything there are three sides to a story, and it’s hard to know what actually happened in the negotiations, we do know that the strike continued well beyond the December 6, 2022 press release.

On February 10, 2023, HarperCollins and the union reached a tentative agreement, ending the walkout that begun almost three months earlier. They announced increases to minimum salaries across levels, as well as one time lump sum bonuses paid to unionized employees.4

I’ve used a lot of my words in this column talking about the strike, itself, and very few words so far discussing what it means. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?! Well, it could mean nothing. Oftentimes we hear of strikes and the repercussions don’t trickle down to those of us who aren’t directly involved with the strike. But in this case, the reasons for the strike look a lot like reasons librarians could strike: as I stated before, publishing is dominated by white people, which impacts the kinds of books that get published, which impacts the books we put on our library shelves. And we all know, of course, that librarianship is also dominated by white people, which impacts the kinds of books that we put on our library shelves, which impacts the books we recommend to our users. The industry — from publishing to libraries — is broken, and all of us need to pay attention to the ways in which those who are brave enough to fight are pursuing the battle, in the hopes that changes can be made from the very top of the publishing world so our library users are positively impacted.

Another complicating factor in all of this is, of course, the absolute lunacy that is happening around the country with regard to censorship and book bans.5 As a result of the strike, many books were on hold or, if they weren’t on hold, they weren’t being reviewed online because reviewers were showing support for striking employees by not reviewing books published by HarperCollins.6 Those most likely to review books by LGBTQIA+ authors on things like TikTok, for instance, were refusing to review the books written by authors who are disadvantaged in


36 Against the Grain / April 2023

publishing as a show of solidarity, but that means even fewer people were made aware of newly-published books by authors from marginalized backgrounds, leading to even less exposure for these books and authors than there is in the best of times.

All of this is to say: WE NEED CHANGE. From the top of the publishing hierarchy on down, we need to change the way we think about authors, publishers, librarians, libraries, books ... all of it. And I know I’m not saying anything new, this has been shouted from the rooftops by people much more qualified than me for decades, but the HarperCollins strike has shed new light on the far-reaching impacts of treating employees unfairly, and it’s time for that to stop.

It will be interesting to see if workers at other major publishing houses attempt to unionize and, if so, how quickly their demands are met. Right now about 23% of librarians are represented by labor unions, as well, and if I had a crystal ball I think it would tell me that those numbers are going to grow as the general public becomes more supportive of unions in every industry. It’s my hope that the power of unions can be leveraged for the good of workers and the good of publishers, so we can fix an industry that has been comfortable with the status quo for far too long. Hats off to the unionized HarperCollins employees for getting the ball rolling.


1. minnesota-nurses-strike-hospitals-raises-tentative-deal

2. harpercollins-union-strike-publishing

3. An “open shop” model bars the union from collecting dues from all employees who are eligible to join.

4. Notably, about 2 weeks before the agreement was reached HarperCollins announced plans to layoff 5% of North American employees. But who could claim a relationship between a request for higher wages and increased diversity and layoffs?

5. I’m in Florida and I have FEELINGS.



37 Against the Grain / April 2023

Questions & Answers — Copyright Column

Column Editor’s Note: It is my absolute pleasure to take up this copyright column for Against the Grain. As an avid reader of the Copyright Q&A, I am always delighted to see questions from across the Charleston Conference community asking about copyright and a variety of related topics. And, of course, for the last three years I have read Will Cross’ clear and concise answers to complex issues. I can only hope to carry on his work of empowering the community by providing interesting answers. — KKC

LIBRARIAN ASKS: Many of the resources available to our patrons are licensed from vendors. These licenses are long and complex, but don’t often mention any type of use beyond “authorized uses” which are sometimes limiting. Does fair use apply to the use of those licensed resources of materials?

ANSWER: This is very interesting because, normally, fair use will actually survive general licensing disclaimers. Let us explore the broad topics first and then narrow in on the fair use part of the question.

Contract law is about enforcing promises. A contract is a promise or a set of promises for the breach of which the law gives a remedy. Licenses are most often granted within the context of a contractual relationship and often the same words used to create the license are also contained in the same instrument that also memorializes a contract. A license has been called a “contract not to sue.” For our discussion, then, a license or contract is a legal interest created by a titleholder (in many cases, the vendor) granting use-privileges to some non-titleholder (in many cases, the library). We will use the terms “license” and “contract” interchangeably.

A license is not all that matters when it comes to figuring out whether and how licensed collections can be (potentially) fairly used. But depending on the contract, you might not have made any specific promise about fair use, in which case, fair use (or another default legal right) will survive.

Contract law and fair use rights are separate sources of authority. You can seek permission (a license) to use a covered work, OR you can exercise your own rights under the law. If the copyright holder withholds permission, that doesn’t necessarily undermine fair use — why? Because fair use is the right to make certain uses without permission.

Now, that being said, whether fair use survives a license will depend on the specifics of the contract.

For example, if there is language describing the limits of a license, such as a statement that a particular license is “for [SPECIFIC] use only,” (e.g., “for personal use only”), it should be read to leave fair use intact.

Or, if there is “contractual silence” (e.g., the license says nothing about it) about a particular fair use activity, should also be read to leave fair use rights intact.

However, language of clear prohibition or a promise not to engage in certain uses is most likely sufficient to surrender fair use rights. An example of clearly prohibitory language is

“User agrees not to…” or “User shall not…” This is a promise by the user not to exercise their fair use rights.

One other clause to consider is a fair use “savings clause.” This language is often recommended for standard inclusion in many library licensing agreement negotiations. This language typically is a statement such as “nothing in this agreement shall be interpreted to limit … the Licensing Organization’s or any Authorized User’s rights under the Fair Use ….” As you can see, this clause helps clearly preserve fair use rights for your authorized users by stating that even if there are terms in the license that limit, restrict, or prevent a fair use, they simply do not apply. An agreement with this kind of clear, broad savings language generally allows you to ignore contrary language elsewhere in the agreement as long as the use is otherwise lawful and fair.

Now, even if there is a fair use savings clause added during negotiations, sometimes a vendor might still get concerned about patron uses, even contractually protected fair uses. And maybe the parties do not know exactly what the fair use savings clause means. In a 20+ page license, it’s not always the library licensee that glazes over upon reading all these sections, the licensor may as well!

Suppose the licensor discovers a patron use that they find objectionable, and they contact you to express their objections. The fair use savings clause certainly can help clarify the patron’s right to use the materials fairly, but this would also be an opportunity that will require more discussion about the interpretation of the clauses, and potentially, an opportunity to educate, learn, and collaborate.

FACULTY MEMBER ASKS: I read about the lawsuit between some visual artists and the new AI company. I read that sometimes art is used to “train” the AI, and that might be infringement. How are these AI systems trained, and what are the legal implications?

ANSWER : Right now, we are watching enormous development in the artificial intelligence (AI) space. New tools like Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and ChatGPT allow everyday users to produce images, text, code, and other creative content using basic language prompts.

These AI tools were all developed using a process called “training.” But this isn’t training like Rocky Balboa running up the stairs in Philadelphia. These AI systems are “trained” to produce new creative works by subjecting the program to large amounts of previously existing works. A common training ground is the plethora of text and images that are found across the internet. Now, the key is that this training process may involve making digital copies of these existing text and images. OpenAI, for example, has stated that its programs are trained on “large, publicly available datasets that include copyrighted works.” Further, this process “necessarily involves first making copies of the data to be analyzed.”


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For even the novice copyright reader, creating copies — any copies — without express permission from the original copyright owners of the work could infringe the copyright holders’ exclusive rights. But this also might not necessarily be true.

And this, certainly, is one aspect of the lawsuit against Stability, a company that runs the AI tool Stable Diffusion. The case is titled Andersen et al. v. Stability AI Ltd. et al, No. 3:23-cv00201 (N.D. California 2023).

As the three artists outline in their complaint, Stability downloads and acquires copies of billions of copyrighted images to train their AI, known as Stable Diffusion. “Training images” are often gathered through web scraping billions of images from a variety of public websites. Stability stores the images and incorporates them into Stable Diffusion as compressed copies. Stable Diffusion then uses the training images to produce “new” images through a mathematical software process. The “new” images are based on the learning process and the training images.

Here, Stability downloaded or otherwise acquired copies of billions of copyrighted images without permission to train Stable Diffusion. These technically compressed copies were also made without the consent or compensation to the artists. The complaint calls it “a complex collage tool” and claims market harm; that the “new” images generated “in the style of” the original images compete in the marketplace with the original artist’s images.

While we are at the beginning stages of this lawsuit (and there are similar AI lawsuits filed by Getty Images in both the U.S. and U.K. courts), it is inevitable that transformative fair use will be raised as a defense.

Are there fair use decisions that are relevant to this scenario? Well, there have been a host of transformative fair use cases since its establishment in the Supreme Court in 1994. One relevant case that comes to mind is Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google Inc. — one of the most famous of all U.S. fair use cases, and its origins emerge from the worlds of libraries and technology.

In that case, the court considered Google Books’ scanning of the copyrighted works to be highly transformative because it digitized them and transformed expressive text into a comprehensive word index that helped readers, scholars, researchers, and others find books.

Similarly, the use was transformative in the sense that the search engine transformed book text into data that could be mined for research purposes, a completely new field of scholarship. It did not replace books because it was not a tool to be used to read books. The court found that Google’s use of books was “highly transformative,” as showing snippets and allowing readers to discover books and conduct research “does not supersede or supplant books” but rather “adds value to the original.”

The new transformative purpose in Google Books was different from the original purpose of the books in the massive corpus of millions of scanned books. Does this case have relevance in this situation? I would believe so, yes. My prediction is that it is inevitable that AI training, which involves scraping billions of images and text from the web, will be put through the lens of modern transformative fair use cases like Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google Inc. And whether the analogy is apt or distinguishing, it would appear we might have another fair use decision emerging from the AI litigation in the future.


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And They Were There — Reports of Meetings 2022 Charleston Conference

Column Editor’s Note: Thanks to the Charleston Conference attendees, both those who attended on-site and virtually, who agreed to write brief reports highlighting and spotlighting their 2022 Charleston Conference experience. In 2022, the conference moved to an asynchronous format: the inperson conference (November 1-4) was followed two weeks later by a virtual week (November 14-18) that included online-only sessions and presentations as well. Conference registrants had the opportunity to view recordings and see slides (if available), to re-visit sessions they saw “live,” or to visit sessions they missed. Without a doubt, there were more Charleston Conference sessions than there were volunteer reporters for Against the Grain, so the coverage is just a snapshot. In 2022, reporters were invited to either provide general impressions on what caught their attention, or to select individual sessions on which they would report.

There are many ways to learn more about the 2022 conference. Please visit the Charleston Conference YouTube site, videos?app=desktop, for selected interviews and videos, and the conference site, for links to conference information and blog reports written by Charleston Conference blogger, Donald Hawkins, chsconfnotes/. The 2022 Charleston Conference Proceedings will be published in 2023, in partnership with University of Michigan Press.

The first series of reports (published in our February 2023 issue v.35#1 ) featured reporters’ general impressions and memorable moments. The batch of reports included here provide a snapshot of individual sessions. Watch for the final batch of reports to appear in our June 2023 issue v.35#3. — RKK



Business and Open Education: Navigating OER in a Complex Information Environment

Reported by Shannon Tennant (Elon University) <>

Presented by Amanda Kraft (College of Charleston), Steve Cramer (University of North Carolina Greensboro) and Nataly Blas (Loyola Marymount University) — https://chsconf.cadmore. media/Category/2bb159e0-f7fd-4934-a20d-801719538ccd?retu rnautoscroll=%23item2bb159e0-f7fd-4934-a20d-801719538ccd

First presenters summarized results of the open educational resources (OER) survey from the Babson Survey Research Group. Compared to other disciplines, business faculty had lower awareness and utilization of OER despite high textbook costs. Barriers to OER adoption include faculty’s reliance on textbooks’

ancillary materials, lack of awareness and understanding of OER, and limited number of OER in the discipline. Kraft presented about an OER training and development course for faculty that included financial incentives. Cramer shared his experience writing and publishing a non-OER business textbook. Case studies are highly valued in business education and are not widely available except by expensive subscriptions. Blas described a three-year collaboration to create a textbook for a Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship class. The textbook was replaced by a reader that was a mix of library resources and other materials that were free or low-cost. Faculty and librarians worked together to create new case studies. Recommendations from the presenters included engaging with stakeholders and leveraging relationships; aligning OER projects to the institution’s goals (like BIPOC, first-gen); having “affordable” as the goal, not just “open”; recognizing the time commitment and specialized resources required; and leveraging existing databases and subscriptions.


Down Long Wiggled Roads: Familiar and New Health Sciences Information Places (22nd Health Sciences Lively Lunchtime Discussion)

Reported by Ramune K. Kubilius (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center) <>

Presented by Ramune Kubilius (moderator, Northwestern University Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center), Sarah McClung (University of California, San Francisco), Karen Gau (Virginia Commonwealth University), and Andrea McLellan (McMaster University) — https://chsconf.cadmore. media/Category/75a486ad-8d5e-4361-8100-a49a05987bea?retu rnautoscroll=%23item75a486ad-8d5e-4361-8100-a49a05987bea

NOTES: This no holds barred session was supported by conference sponsor, Rittenhouse. Gau’s presentation was prerecorded and she joined the on-site discussion virtually.

Almost two dozen on-site (and almost the same number during virtual week) participants attended the session. After brief greetings from Rittenhouse, moderator Kubilius provided a link to “Developments,” an annual handout spotlighting trends, events, and news noted since the last conference (i.e., scholarly publishing anniversaries, new products, open access, and transformational agreement pilots). Based on her own experience, McClung shared some “ins” and “outs” of grant writing and funding proposals for health sciences collections projects, including the value and complexity that partnerships bring to the process, and decisions about undertaking grant applications, considering the time required for a possibly


40 Against the Grain / April 2023

successful funding opportunity (or not), and the varying funding amounts. McLellan highlighted findings from a literature review (2018-2022) on virtual reality, as demand increases for library collections (especially medical), an undertaking that usually is in response to demand but that has staffing and budgeting considerations. Gau provided a snapshot of varied DEIA collections projects and pilots at various institutions, selected from those identified in an ongoing Medical Library Association Collection Development Caucus project. In the brief remaining time, a few questions from participants were fielded (virtually a small group shared highlights during a Zoom chat).

Presentation slides and the “Developments” list are deposited in the conference program and also can be found here: https://


Serving Readers by Serving Authors - Content Syndication to Make Discovery = Delivery

Reported by Leigh Ann DePope (University of Maryland College Park) <>

Presented by Judson Dunham (Elsevier), Todd Toler (Wiley), and Lisa Janicke Hinchliffer (University of Illinois) — https://

This Neapolitan session focused on a new practice between publishers called “Content Syndication.” Content syndication is an arrangement between publishers allowing one publisher to provide content from another publisher on their platform. It operates as a federated search on a publisher platform rather than through a library’s discovery service or catalog. The project allowed content from organic chemistry journals published by the American Chemical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley to be included in Elsevier’s ScienceDirect platform. The presenters found that some users, particularly in China and Asia-Pacific countries, are more likely to do native searches on the platform and with syndication, users found related content from the participating publishers as well as Elsevier. This put more content in front of the user and reduced the need to search multiple sites. It also ensures that the correct version of content was made available. However, users can still only access content based on the entitlements of their affiliated institutions. This reporter sees syndication as creating more pain points for libraries with user instruction and access troubleshooting. The presenters also felt that authors would perceive syndication as a mechanism to connect readers to broader content. This reporter can see the benefits of syndication for certain countries. The most important question from the audience centered around the problem syndication causes for providing access to walk-in or unaffiliated users. The presenters acknowledge this problem. Overall, content syndication sounds like it benefits users but the benefits to authors is unclear.

Why Should We Care About Bibliodiversity In Academic Book Publishing? The Implications of Regional Identity for American University Presses

Reported by Amy Lewontin (Northeastern University)


Presented by Charles Watkinson (moderator, University of Michigan Press and current President of Association of University Presses), Jane Bunker (Cornell University Press and President Elect of the Association of University Presses), Jason Fikes (Abilene Christian University Press), and Lisa Bayer (Georgia University Press) — Category/e6148b5a-99c2-4055-8758-7a5a218188b3

Watkinson talked about the unique value of university presses, and the global nature of them. He mentioned an online publication from the AUP, a guide for potential authors seeking information about publishing and peer review called Ask UP. He defined bibliodiversity as a term coined by a group of independent publishers sponsored by UNESCO, as a “cultural diversity applied to the world of books.” Watkinson added that bibliodiversity had much in common with biodiversity, and that, “in the same way as there’s threat to biodiversity, we’re seeing forces in our environment which are a threat to bibliodiversity.” Watkinson asked his colleagues to address the question, “what does biodiversity mean to you.” He also gave guidance on framing responses, referring to listening for a sense of “groundedness” in the regions the university press directors would be addressing and for listening for the care and ethics involved in publishing “marginal voices.”

Bunker discussed her work with several university presses, remarking that university presses excel at many things, and the one thing they do best is “acquire and market content that matters by authors who have a unique perspective.” Bunker also frequently referred to the important partnerships that university presses she has worked with to local institutions. Fikes talked about efforts at his press to “process the erasures and exclusions that settler colonialism and white supremacy have brought to our part of the world.” And Fikes discussed the Christian imprint at his press that works to make “faith in life understandable to everyday believers.” Lastly, Bayer discussed the importance of partnerships with the Library at her university. Fikes mentioned that those at university presses and librarians have different skill sets, but in working together, they make great partners.

More than One Way to Skin a Cat: Diverse Perspectives on Emerging Journal Models

Reported by Ana Noriega (Colby College Libraries)


Presented by Sarah Bosshart (Royal Society of Chemistry), Curtis Brundy (Iowa State University), Doug Way (University of Kentucky), and Krystie Wilfong (Bates College) — https://

This four-person panel discussed navigating the open access landscape from diverse perspectives — the society publisher (Bosshart), the mid-level research universities (Brundy and Way), and the small liberal arts college (Wilfong). The variety of choices made by institutions during the last three years


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(2019-2022), tells a much richer story than typically discussed in outlets like Scholarly Kitchen, offering a nuanced tale from which to glean valuable lessons for every library. Topics covered included reallocating funds from “big deals” or bundles (journal and monograph) to support OA initiatives, leveraging consortial strength to lend ballast to shrinking budgets, encouraging faculty on campus to use institutional repositories, and finding meaningful ways to employ the (then recently released) OSTP memo. This rich and diverse suite of resources & methods of employment offer fertile ground for future discussions of the open access publishing landscape.


Lessons from COVID-19 and Hitting the Restart Button: Perseverance and Evolution of Academic Libraries

Reported by Susannah Benedetti (University of North Carolina Wilmington) <> [virtual conference reporter]

Presented by Matthew Buckley (Saginaw Valley State University), Jennifer Culley (University of Nevada Las Vegas), Melissa Maria Johnson (Nova Southeastern University), and Cory Tucker (University of Nevada Last Vegas) — https://

Presenters described strategies and solutions they employed when COVID-19 hit, as well as long term implications for acquisitions, collection management, and budgeting. Process adjustments that have become permanent at UNLV include electronic resources becoming the format of choice and a switch to electronic invoicing and licensing. More hybrid and online courses have meant more need for eresources so even as the budget has stayed flat or decreased, they have increased allocations for streaming, digital research collections, and OA resources and initiatives, become less restrictive about format duplication, and recognized an increased need for assessment. Nova Southeastern University and Saginaw Valley State saw surges in the use of electronic resources when publishers opened up access in 2020, but, when they went back behind paywalls, many resources had been incorporated into the curriculum, creating a great challenge financially. For the future, the presenters identified key questions and takeaways: the best ways to continue to support physical materials, with significant decreases in their use; the need for strategy in collection building, with many initiating diversity audits; and the acknowledgement that the future will hinge on discoverability.

Licensing and Learning: What new research suggests about how streaming video can support student learning

Presented by Dylan Ruediger (Ithaka), Adam Frost (University of Toronto), Lisa Forrest (Davidson College), and Michael Carmichael (moderator, Sage) — https://chsconf. 6af4c?returnautoscroll=%23item71819f53-fdc1-4c1a-997bfa0cd9f6af4c

The key themes of this panel were that video (feature films, documentaries, and other content types) impact instruction and student learning. Hybrid or blended online learning is here to stay, and librarians, instructors, and vendors should work together to ensure access to resources. Ruediger previewed Ithaka’s survey about video in instruction. Faculty value video as an alternative to reading and because it increases student engagement. Most faculty use streaming video not DVDs. They reported that they rarely look for video from the library because they perceive web resources like YouTube to be easier and more accessible, though they worry about accuracy and algorithms pushing out inappropriate content. Frost, a cognitive neuroscientist, researched how video could improve student comprehension of academic articles. More than a thousand introductory psychology students were divided into two groups. One group read two scientific articles; the second group read the articles and watched videos prepared by the authors explaining their research. Testing showed that the students in the video group retained more of the material than those who did not watch videos. Forrest reinforced that faculty consider video integral to their teaching but are not using library resources or librarian expertise. More outreach needs to be done about streaming video availability, polices, and costs and to encourage faculty-librarian collaboration.

Navigating open access usage data for journals and books: a discussion of use cases, challenges and opportunities

Reported by Erika Boardman (UNC Charlotte) <> [virtual conference reporter]

Presented by Romy Beard (ChronosHub , Christina Drummond (University of North Texas), Matthew Goddard (Iowa State University), Andrea Lopez (Annual Reviews), and Tasha Mellins-Cohen (COUNTER/Mellins-Cohen Consulting) —

Beard, Drummond, Goddard, Lopez, and Mellins-Cohen explored a variety of perspectives regarding the emergence, potential uses, challenges, current initiatives, and future ideas surrounding open access usage data. From secure data transmission to the difficulties of distributed usage data of OA resources, the presentation did well shedding light on lesserheard challenges. Despite these challenges, the presenters spoke on existing projects, provided background information, and shared their professional insights and observations. The OA eBook Usage Data Trust project, Subscribe to Open (S2O) models, and the Community Consultation for COUNTER Release 5.1 were a few mentioned activities that are actively engaging


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open access initiatives. Goddard spoke on how possible use cases for OA data fall into two categories — advocacy and decision-making — and made great points on why institutions would incorporate OA usage data into assessment practices. Of notable mention, both Goddard and Drummond touched briefly on the importance of being more thoughtful about what usage is being gathered and what we intend to do with that data to make more informed decisions. Overall, the presentation was insightful and is guaranteed to invoke more conversations about the future directions of open access usage data.

Very Practical Accessibility Tasks for Acquisitions and Collections Teams

Reported by Kayla Valdivieso (Wellesley College) <>

Presented by Athena Hoeppner (University of Central Florida), Sara Duff (University of Central Florida), and Tina Buck (University of Central Florida) — https://chsconf.cadmore. media/Category/77247f18-8f80-4c26-a881-3d09636aa914?retu rnautoscroll=%23item77247f18-8f80-4c26-a881-3d09636aa914

In this session, the presenters discussed the importance of having accessible content and platforms and how to work toward accessibility in library collections. A failure to provide accessible content would be a civil rights violation, so the work must be prioritized. While it is difficult to advocate for accessible content with so many vendors and limited staff, the presenters have embarked on some practical projects including conducting a review of current vendor accessibility status and VPAT availability and systematically updating their licenses to include accessibility clauses. They highlighted the Library Accessibility Alliance ( as an integral resource for formal audits of vendors and their responses. A listener raised a thoughtful question: would the University cancel a resource if the vendor is not meeting accessibility standards? Since libraries need to be in line with University accessibility policies, one option is to file for an exception if a vendor is unable to meet the requirements due to small size and cost implications. If this is not the case, the library should look at what efforts the vendor is making to become more accessible and whether or not the vendor is making progress.

What role can libraries play in helping researchers get published? Sponsored by Springer Nature

Reported by Ramune K. Kubilius (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center) <>

Presented by Christoph Fuellenbach (Springer Nature), Mary Ann Baynes (Overleaf), Dennis O’Brien (Research Square) a1ce-8feb-4239-8cb5-ee1dc5218edc

The role of libraries expressed in the title actually only came up in the all too brief discussion portion at this session’s end. Each panelist presented brief highlights of the focus of their company’s work to serve researchers, especially those who write

and publish. Fullenbach mentioned realities for researcher authors — time constraints for writing and authors who may be non-native speakers of English. Nature’s survey findings (white paper is mentioned further) showed how researchers feel about the skills they need, their preference in training modalities. The perceived skills gaps to be closed in essence seem to have guided the focus of the company’s on-demand platform modules featuring bite-sized presentations by inhouse and external experts. Baynes observed that there is a growth in the numbers of collaborations, and the workflow tools they developed allow researchers to access what they need in the cloud from anywhere. O’Brien indicated that their service grew out of the recognition that writing and publishing is a worldwide “need,” but that language skills (specifically if weak in the language of publication) can result in rejection. Human and AI editing work in tandem, and post-publication services have grown. When the floor was opened for discussion, librarian audience perspectives varied about the supply and the relevant (or lack thereof) backgrounds and skills of librarians whose duties required that they work with researchers.

NOTE: The white paper mentioned is available for downloading in the Nature site (registration is required):


Data-Driven DEI Perspectives; Know Where You are, so You Know Where You Need to Go

Presented by Heather Staines (moderator, Delta Think), Robyn Price (Imperial College London), Beth Blanton (University of Virginia Libraries), Gwen Evans (Elsevier), Lori Carlin (Delta Think) — Category/ad30153d-94d3-4e4a-af66-92437e536bbb?returna utoscroll=%23itemad30153d-94d3-4e4a-af66-92437e536bbb

The speakers on this thought-provoking panel asked is there a role for quantitative data in making scholarship more diverse? My takeaway is yes, but to effect real change data must be the starting point for deeper reflection and collaboration between librarians, instructors, practitioners, publishers and scholars. Usage data of print collections can reveal evolving research trends and be used as evidence for investment in underfunded disciplines, to diversify acquisitions and support critical new research; new algorithms for analysing the geographical spread of authorship on course reading lists can provide opportunities for interrogating unconscious bias in what we perceive to be high quality research and promote new scholarship; data gathered at the point of journal article submission can help identify where authors might face barriers to getting work published and make editorial processes such as peer review more inclusive and equitable. All three speakers emphasised how change can only come from open dialogue across academic communities and building trusted relationships between stakeholders. Audience questions highlighted how data and discussion must be turned into action. Data is a powerful tool to identify areas for change and begin conversations but we must also acknowledge its limitations and see it as an evolving process.


43 Against the Grain / April 2023

NOTE: This session is available for viewing in the openly available conference YouTube site. The playlist can be found at: vgSc-PDG01ZxB0.


Two lively discussions in one room: Forecasting for uncertain futures; creative alternate funding options for library subscriptions

NOTE: Two lively discussions took place in one space, but separately, in two moderated groups that did not merge or interact. By happenstance, two “And They Were There” reporters attended this session, and each selected a different group’s discussion in which to participate...

(1) Thinking Beyond the Spreadsheet: Forecasting for uncertain futures

Reported by Christopher Vidas (Clemson University) <>

Presented by Xan Arch (University of Portland) and Annie Downey (University of Washington, Tacoma) — https://

The primary objective of this session was to provide library leaders with a forum in which they could exchange ideas about how to manage complex situations encountered by librarians in an environment heavily impacted by COVID, low staff morale, and changing perceptions on professional norms. The presenters shared their observations, but the small group discussions were especially engaging as participants highlighted problematic areas impacting their institutions.

During the small group segment, it was apparent that many attendees do multiple jobs with few options for resolving concerns about excessive workloads. Several individuals emphasized that their administrations do not fully understand what they do which made it more difficult to advocate for additional positions. It was observed that performing well, despite being short-staffed, sometimes unintentionally suggests that additional personnel are unnecessary.

Ultimately, this session acknowledged issues that continue to impact academic libraries everywhere. Knowing that many problems are widely shared may not help to resolve all of them, but it does help individuals to feel less isolated or discouraged. It was reassuring to hear that others had discovered ways to cope with or resolve some of the dilemmas faced by attendees. This session provided an intriguing look into academic library management.

(2) Creating Alternative Funding Options for Library Subscriptions



Presented by Genifer Snipes (University of Oregon), Lauren Reiter (The Pennsylvania State University), Steve Cramer (UNC Greensboro) — Category/7d0c20a2-97ab-47cc-b071-1033a7bd8a1c?returnauto scroll=%23item7d0c20a2-97ab-47cc-b071-1033a7bd8a1c

Three academic business librarians convened this session that harkened to the pre-pandemic era (and pre-online conferences). It truly was a lively in-person discussion with a minimal number of projected slides (though the murmur from the other group in the ballroom and the lack of microphones made it harder to hear). Alternative funding models mentioned by conveners (paraphrased by this reporter) included: sharing costs, supporting niche subject areas, seeking smaller sums (e.g., percentage from professorships), guaranteeing collection funds with each launch of a new department/program), consortial funding, etc. On large sheets of paper, small groups of participants, not just from the business academic world, recorded discussions that arose in response to the four suggested questions: 1) What do you see as specific strengths of the various types of alternative funding models?; 2) Are there particular alternative funding strategies...that you think would be attractive at your institution and why?; 3) What do you see as potential pitfalls and barriers for the various could you mitigate the risks; 4) How could these initiatives be used to build the library’s relationship with the broader campus or community?

NOTE: A summary of the session and discussions was later posted by Cramer in his blog: https://liaisonlife.wordpress. com/2022/11/10/beyond-the-budget/

As noted earlier, this issue contains the first portion of individual session reports we received from the 2022 Charleston Conference. Watch for the conclusion of session reports from the 2022 Charleston Conference to appear in the June 2023 issue of Against the Grain (v.35#3). In the meantime, you can visit the Charleston Conference YouTube site for selected interviews and videos, and the Charleston Conference site for links to conference information and blog reports written by Charleston Conference blogger Donald Hawkins.


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Let’s Get Technical — Did the Academic Library Reach its Peak Effectiveness in the Late 1990s?

Part 2: Technological Investments that Improved Access to Information

Column Editors: Kyle Banerjee (Sr. Implementation Consultant, FOLIO Services) <>

and Susan J. Martin (Chair, Collection Development and Management, Associate Professor, Middle Tennessee State University) <>

Column Editors’ Note: In this issue we’re pleased to submit part two of our three part article series. Part one appeared in ATG’s February 2023 issue (v.35#1, p.44). Watch for part three to appear in ATG’s June issue. — KB & SM

If attention to building and circulating the local collection was constant during the two decades preceding the millennium at academic libraries, there was also an imperative to change and evolve, particularly through investments in technology that improved access to information. Over the 1980s and 1990s, Lewis & Clark’s library experienced three breakthroughs in information access: an integrated library management system and online catalog, a local resource sharing network that enabled patron-initiated borrowing, and the proliferation of electronic access to periodical literature.

The need to move to a circulation and catalog system that would automate internal workflows and provide patrons an easy way to look up books in the collection was a common refrain in the administrative documents of Watzek Library in the eighties and early nineties. The library had in fact taken its first step towards automation in the 1970s when it began using OCLC to produce its catalog cards. An automation planning committee in the early eighties noted the patchwork of technology employed by the library to support its information delivery functions including OCLC cataloging, a home-grown acquisitions system running on the college mini computer, and PCs that connected to interlibrary loan networks and the DIALOG information service (Preliminary Automation Planning Committee, 1983).

According to Borgman (1997), library automation in the United States followed a pattern similar to Lewis & Clark with systems supporting internal functions like acquisitions and cataloging arriving first and public access catalogs emerging later.

By the early nineties, even students thought that the Watzek Library’s technology was behind the curve. For instance, one student wrote, “Get a computerized catalog system! What is this, 1960?” Another commented, “Go to computer card catalog. It’s 1 million times easier and more efficient” (Anonymous, 1990).

The library’s 1992/93 annual report pleaded for an automated system.

Our most obvious need is for an integrated automated library system. Tremendous savings in staff time could be realized if you had the use of such a system. This year

we filed and revised over 18 yards (55.5 feet) of catalog cards, for instance. We typed up cards and pockets and made lists for more than 3,500 reserve items that could have been put on reserve by scanning a barcode. It also seems ironic that through the Internet our students can do keyword searches of library catalogs from PSU to Australia, but they have to use a manual system to find what they have in their own library.

In the early spring of 1993, the college took a major preparatory step for an automated system by initiating the MICROCON project. A team of over a half dozen temporary data entry workers set up shop for several months in the library’s special collections reading room to convert approximately 80,000 pre-OCLC cataloging records to machine readable format (Smith, 1993).

In November 1993, the College applied to the Murdock Trust for half the funds needed to purchase an Innovative Interfaces integrated library system and online catalog. The grant application emphasized that the library was a “chief priority” of the current college presidential administration.

The introduction of a fully automated and integrated library catalog at Lewis & Clark is an imperative educational objective. The College’s administration is committed to offer library services as imaginative and innovative as the scholarship of its users.

According to the grant application, the online library catalog was instrumental for the college’s general education courses which included “a program of information/electronic instruction embedded in content courses that teach students how to locate and apply information available in libraries” (Mooney, 1993).

The Trust awarded the funds in the summer of 1994 and the system went live for public use on January 18th, 1995. The grant follow-up report affirmed the achievement of the project goals and noted the “stunning speed with which library holdings can now be searched” (Lewis & Clark College, 1995).

From today’s perspective, it’s hard to imagine a piece of software for the library being the centerpiece of a major institution-level initiative with direct attention of the president. Integrated library systems and their discovery interfaces are now part of the standard plumbing of academic library operations. They are not a particularly unique or strategic asset for a university and they compete with many other search tools to provide access to information.


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Beyond integrated library systems, the 1980s and 1990s offered technological opportunities to share resources more efficiently between libraries. Besides the national bibliographic utility and interlibrary loan network OCLC, Watzek Library was a member of three local resource sharing networks in the 1980s and 1990s: NAPCU (the Northwest Association of Private Colleges and Universities), PORTALS (Portland Area Library System), and Orbis.

Though NAPCU was the earliest consortium to which Watzek Library belonged and PORTALS arguably the most influential in the early 1990s, it was the Orbis consortium that ultimately transformed resource sharing for Lewis & Clark and most other academic libraries in the Pacific Northwest.

A group of five public universities in Oregon founded Orbis with a grant from the Meyer Memorial trust. The consortium quickly expanded in 1995 to include a number of private institutions including Lewis & Clark. In 1997, Orbis introduced patron-initiated borrowing over the Internet using Innovative Interfaces’ INNREACH software. This allowed patrons to search, request and receive books in just two days from a unified catalog that merged the holdings of the richest academic library collections in the state. (McKeil and Dooley, 2014; Breeding, 2013).

Orbis was a powerful combination of geographically situated collections, networked technology, and willingness to share on the part of the participating libraries. It demonstrated that with careful planning, cooperation, and technology, academic library leadership could envision and develop a program that vastly expanded the information universe available to their patrons.

In the quarter century since its founding, Orbis (now the Orbis Cascade Alliance) has grown to encompass Washington and Idaho academic libraries and added programs for electronic resources, archival support, a shared integrated library system, and eBooks. Even twenty-five years later, amidst an abundance of digital resources, Summit, the descendent of the Orbis borrowing service for physical books, remains highly utilized at Lewis & Clark.

The Orbis Cascade Alliance Consortium continues to develop and adjust its programs as the needs of its members evolve. Due to copyright and licensing, the very popular Summit book interlibrary loan service isn’t easily replicable in the world of eBooks, though the Alliance does have a very successful shared eBook purchasing program.

If Watzek Library took a sudden leap forward with the systems that it used to manage and access books, the technology it used to find and deliver periodical articles followed a more gradual, but nonetheless revolutionary, path of change. By 1980, librarians were providing students with online literature searches through a computer connected by modem to the DIALOG service. Watzek’s 1980-81 preliminary annual report projected a total of 200 such searches by the end of June. According to Acting Library Director Vicki R. Kreimeyer,

For less than $3,000, literature searches have been performed through the enormous quantity of indexed materials in all disciplines, tailored to individuals’ needs, and resulted in complete bibliographic print-outs which enable the individual to then locate the most pertinent material.

In the mid-1980s, the library acquired indexing and abstracting databases such as MLA Bibliography on CD-ROMs that students could use without librarian intervention. By the mid-1990s, they were networked together in a local area

network. This environment of self-service electronic searching led to increased use of interlibrary loan, according to an annual report published in 1992.

The CD-ROM databases became even more popular this year. Three more databases and one new workstation were added. We now have a total of five workstations and ten databases plus numerous census disks. There has also been a tremendous increase (23%) in interlibrary loan requests, attributable, at least in part, to CD-ROM use and the breadth of materials that become known due to the ease of literature searching that CD-ROMs provide (Heras, 1992).

The reference desk was also busier and busier with queries increasing from 11,200 in 1990/091 to 15,359 in 1996-1997 according to the annual reports for the library published for those years. Students could search the electronic databases on their own but needed assistance in getting the actual articles from the periodical stacks, microform, or interlibrary loan.

By the end of the twentieth century, full text databases with direct access to complete articles were part of the library’s offerings. The library’s 1998-99 annual report points to the availability of online articles as a likely reason for declines in reference questions, microfiche reshelving, and interlibrary loan requests.

Soon, the library would have the JSTOR digital periodical archive and an increasing number of electronic journal subscriptions. By 2010, students would access the vast majority of article content over the Internet while reference questions would drop to a quarter of what they were in the late 1990s (Dahl, 2010).

In the next article, I will examine the role of the library building as well as staffing and fiscal support in the 1980s and 1990s, ending with an analysis of how the value proposition of academic libraries has changed since the turn of the century.

Works Cited

Anonymous. 1990. In folder: Patron Suggestions, 1990s. From Watzek Library Archive. Lewis & Clark College, Special Collections and Archives.

Aubrey R. Watzek Library Annual Report 1996/97. 1997. In Folder: Annual Reports, 1990s. From Watzek Library Archive. Lewis & Clark College, Special Collections and Archives.

Borgman, Christine L. 1997. “From Acting Locally to Thinking Globally: A Brief History of Library Automation.” The Library Quarterly 67 (3): 215–49.

Dahl, Mark. 2010. Watzek Library 2009-2010 Annual Report. Lewis & Clark College. ld.php?content_id=27712365

Heras, Elaine C. July 12, 1991. Aubrey R. Watzek Library Annual Report 1990/91. In Folder: Annual Reports, 1990s. From Watzek Library Archive. Lewis & Clark College, Special Collections and Archives.

Heras, Elaine C. August, 1992. Aubrey R. Watzek Library Annual Report 1991/92. In Folder: Annual Reports, 1990s.


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“From today’s perspective, it’s hard to imagine a piece of software for the library being the centerpiece of a major institutionlevel initiative with direct attention of the president.”

From Watzek Library Archive. Lewis & Clark College, Special Collections and Archives.

Heras, Elaine C. July, 1993. Aubrey R. Watzek Library Annual Report 1992/93. In Folder: Annual Reports, 1990s. From Watzek Library Archive. Lewis & Clark College, Special Collections and Archives.

Heras, Elaine C. July 23, 1999. Aubrey R. Watzek Library Annual Report 1998/99. In Folder: Annual Reports, 1990s. From Watzek Library Archive. Lewis & Clark College, Special Collections and Archives.

Kreimeyer, Vicki R. May 27,1981. Vicki R. Kreimer to Dr. John Brown - Provost. Preliminary Annual Report. Aubrey R. Watzek Library. 1980 - 1981. From Watzek Library Archive. Lewis & Clark College, Special Collections and Archives.

Lewis & Clark College. 1995. Final report on the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Library Automation Project (PORTALS) Lewis & Clark College. In Folder: Automation. From Watzek Library Archive. Lewis & Clark College, Special Collections and Archives.

McKiel, Allen, and Jim Dooley. 2014. “Changing Library Operations: The Orbis Cascade Alliance.” Against the Grain 26 (4): 75.

Mooney, Michael. November 4, 1993. M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust General Application Form. In Folder: Automation. From Watzek Library Archive. Lewis & Clark College, Special Collections and Archives.

Preliminary Automation Planning Committee. 1983 (approximate date). Preliminary Automation Planning Committee Report. In Folder: Automation. From Watzek Library Archive. Lewis & Clark College, Special Collections and Archives.

Smith, Betty Ann. April 4, 1993. Betty Ann Smith, Technical Services Coordinator to Elaine Heras, Acting Director. Third Quarter Report, FY 1992-93. In Folder: Annual Reports, 1990s. From Watzek Library Archive. Lewis & Clark College, Special Collections and Archives.


47 Against the Grain / April 2023
Read Online Now:

Wandering the Web — New In Town?

About the Column Editor: My husband and I moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, a city we have visited at least a dozen times over the years, so I could start my Catalog Librarian career at Tulane University Libraries’ Technical Services Department in November 2022. I earned my MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in May 2022, with a focus on information organization and reference services. I also have over a decade of experience working at large university libraries, so I am happy to have the opportunity to catalog various resources in an academic setting. In my spare time, I enjoy fiber arts (knitting, crochet, sewing), landscape watercolor painting, and hunting in quaint antique shops for treasures to use in mixed media art pieces.

“So, you’re new in town?” A Review of Online Sites that Can Help People Who Are Moving Within the U.S.

Due to job promotions, my husband and I have moved several times over the years within the United States. We always consider the demographics of a new city before we relocate. This includes examining the overall cost of living and finding out whether a particular area has a thriving cultural community, sponsors music festivals, and has one or more art museums, city or county parks or other sightseeing or leisure activity venues. Such searches also can include browsing through reviews of local restaurants and seeing if the town or city has adequate hardware stores or other amenities. Some areas offer online sites that rate local hospitals and smaller medical facilities. I always check out the ratings of veterinary clinics and house sitters for cats or dogs. Smaller towns might not have a well-developed pet care system, so it’s crucial to find out this information before you relocate. Most importantly, it is extremely helpful to house hunt well in advance, taking advantage of the numerous Multiple Listing Services (MLS) that provide an easy way to quickly scan the housing market and assemble a “wish list” that you can give to your realtor. Some MLSs will note additional information on the real estate maps like flood zones, locations of gas stations and grocery stores, and some will show noise levels throughout the city by indicating sites of local commuter or international airports, for example. Using real estate aggregators will save time in the long run by allowing the professionals involved in helping you find a place to live to narrow the scope of your house search. The following sites are a sampling of online resources you can use to take some of the guesswork out of your move, to help you to become a well-informed consumer, and to help you to relocate with confidence, knowing you have thoroughly investigated your new community ahead of time.

Niche — Learn the demographics before you move. https:// is my go-to online resource for quickly finding the overall demographical information for cities around the U.S. If you type niche in your favorite search engine’s search box, you most likely will find that the Niche website will appear first in line. The popular site never fails to retrieve information about cities in the U.S. and it’s sometimes embarrassing to look at the “grades” that the demographic researchers at Niche will assign to your favorite town or city for the quality of public schools,

housing, whether the area is good for families, crime and safety levels, nightlife, and diversity. The Overall Niche Grade is enclosed in a green circle, a data source is provided for how these grades are calculated, and the photograph at the top that is customized for the specific city notes additional information, such as an additional ranking for Best Cities for Young Professionals in America or Best Places to Live in America. Personalized reviews that give 1-5 star ratings are listed at the top of each city’s page. These are real-world assessments by people who have lived in the area.

Clicking on links within each page of your chosen town or city will help you to access detailed statistical data. An impressive number of facets are provided so you can conduct an advanced search of Area Type (city, city neighborhood, suburbs, towns); the grade for public schools; information about the cost of living in a particular area; how important is walkability to you; are most citizens homeowners or not, and so on. The search choices are extensive, an interactive map is available for each city, and Niche even links to by OJO (https://www.movoto. com/), which is a real estate site that helps you do a deep dive into the nearby home market.

Nextdoor —

Get to know others in your new neighborhood, find out about local events, situations to look out for, like property theft, and other activities both negative and positive that are occurring in your neighborhood. Out of interest, I tried to find out whether Nextdoor is considered social media or is an app or a website, and if members can chat on Nextdoor. According to their website, Nextdoor is “an app for neighborhoods where you can get local tips, buy and sell items, and more.” You can, in fact, chat with a neighbor. When looking at their personal profile, click the Message link below the neighbor’s name, enter a subject title, and send the message by clicking Send. Folks build camaraderie by interacting on this local site that provides much useful information. You can buy all kinds of things, from empty moving boxes — which I have to admit we gave away after unpacking from our recent move — to used furniture. Neighbors will broadcast information about local criminal activities, which is helpful when petty theft of packages off front porches is not being covered by the city’s standard news channels. Recently on the New Orleans Nextdoor site, my husband and I found out about a large alligator couple that had wandered into a bayou near City Park that is used by kayakers! These kinds of recommendations, advice, classifieds, and important alerts are invaluable.

Only in Your State — OnlyInYourState — Discover What’s in Your Own Backyard is an attractive and colorful website that is extremely easy to use. According to Comscore, “an American-based global media measurement and analytics company” (“Comscore,” 2023), OnlyInYourState is ranked as being the second largest travel and information site on the web, with millions of social media


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fans and newsletter subscribers. (I think Tripadvisor officially is the world’s largest travel website, or at least that’s what they contend on their homepage at

A dropdown menu along the top of the viewing screen includes seamless access points to information about all 50 U.S. states, to major cities, to a Get Featured link that concisely explains how OnlyInYourState works, and to a Subscribe page where you simply check the little boxes next to as many states as you like so you will automatically receive timely articles in your area. There is also a Nominate page where you can submit an attraction. Telling OnlyInYourState about your favorite places helps the site to “cover the country’s best hidden gems, unique attractions, and little-known destinations.” The nomination page allows you to describe why you love the state or city and upload photos if you like. Lastly, like all good reference websites, there is a handy search box where you enter keywords. I searched New Orleans where I just moved, and within 0.26 seconds, the OnlyInYourState search retrieved 144,000 results, including links to relevant websites that advertise or discuss tours and excursions, activities and things to do, and links to local attractions’ and restaurants’ online sites. Enticing fullcolor photos and map graphics on the home page encourage you to browse the Bucket List featured attractions, the Latest Articles and What’s Popular around the U.S.

Multiple Listing Services (MLS)

Save time when house hunting by browsing Multiple Listing Services (MLS). Here is an excellent article that explains the concept of enormous home listing databases: https://www. As the article (referenced below) points out, the term “multiple listing” along with its underlying principles first appeared in 1907, when real estate agents would congregate to share information that could help them to connect with potential buyers (Ericson, 2022). Personal interactions at offices or conferences evolved into today’s online system that is searchable by many parameters, including neighborhood trends, home features, and of course, price. The overarching national database is composed of hundreds of regional databases that generally answer to local realtors and their listings. (https:// truly is the most extensive, “with 99% of all MLS-listed ‘for sale’ properties in the U.S.” (Ericson, 2022). Searching for a new domicile can be daunting, and the MLS can help with the arduous task by providing full-color photos of each room in a house for sale, maps of the neighborhood, property history, environmental risk such as flood zones, room sizes, whether the house has a garage and/or fenced yard, and many other bits of important information.

Searching for Quiet Neighborhoods

When peace and quiet are a must, you can find out what local areas are considered to be noisy or potentially unsafe by browsing through two of the real estate aggregators’ articles: and The research article takes a hard look at the environment in terms of what factors tend to increase local noise levels. Highways, hospitals and stadiums bring on the volume levels, and this trade article doesn’t pull any punches regarding the noisiest neighborhoods in the U.S. by making use of the U.S. Park Service’s maps of noise (Garcia, 2019).

The article on neighborhood safety levels rightfully points out that your real estate agent is not legally allowed to answer the delicate question of neighborhood safety, due to the Fair Housing Act (Runkle, 2022). This article not only points you in the right direction to conduct your own online research; it also adds links to online tools, such as AreaVibes ( (Both articles reviewed in this section are fully referenced below.)

Family Health Care

Find out the location of reputable doctors and hospitals for yourself and your family ahead of moving. https://www. and https://comradeweb. com/blog/17-best-hospital-healthcare-medical-websites/ Find a Hospital allows you to search hospitals by name and location; ascertain specialties, Healthgrades Award Recipient Hospitals, and other hospital awards and ratings; and look up patient safety track records. is a short read kept updated by a digital marketing company that maintains the website lists of best hospital, healthcare, and medical websites. While it would be easy to get lost reviewing the many links, it would be well worth the effort to become familiar with the healthcare system that is available in your new hometown.

Pet Sitters

Looking for a reputable pet sitter and/or dog walker? Check out (, which advertises Loving pet care in your neighborhood. The site allows you to book trusted sitters and dog walkers. Search facets feature simple check boxes for Dog and/or Cat; you can ask for boarding, house sitting, doggy day care information; and scheduling is set up like a hotel booking with zip code or address information, drop off and pick up days, and the size of your dog (small at 0 to 5 pounds up to giant dogs at 101+ pounds). There are other pet sitting sites on the Internet. This is just one of the sites that will allow you to relax while at work or on vacation, knowing your beloved pet is in good hands. An additional bonus is you can connect anywhere with the Rover app.

Finding the Right Vet for Your Beloved Pet

Finding the right vet for your beloved pet is yet another stressor when you are planning a move. The site at https://pets. is a sort of one-stop shopping site for maintaining pet health. has links to a Healthy Dogs Center, with articles on diet and nutrition, puppy care, preventive care, common conditions, and behavior and training. Similarly, the Healthy Cats Center link provides updated information on preventive care, common conditions, cat behavior, diet and nutrition, and kitten care. All links are accompanied by full-color photographs of charming pets. Care essentials include quizzes, slideshows, and so many helpful and informative articles.

Stressed Out But Moving On…

There are many websites and online articles on the Internet that discuss how stressful it is to move or how to handle the stress of life changing events in general, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole since I am not a professional counselor. I will, however, round out this article by offering a couple of interesting and well-written articles that provide helpful suggestions on this topic. Please see the References below for the full citations to these articles.


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Why Moving is So Stressful (And 3 Things You Can Do About It) discusses how “moving to a new location can be exhilarating for some people, but it can be overwhelming for others” (Stevens, 2021). The VP of Marketing at Bellhops Inc. wisely points out the many reasons, including anxiety over a pending job, a new culture or location, and even an unfamiliar home layout, not to mention the stresses brought on by moving costs. Mr. Stevens describes signs of excessive stress, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms of stress and depression, and goes on to give useful advice to combat the stress of moving. The article combines what could be considered pop psychology with sound ideas, and Mr. Stevens is careful not to overstep his boundaries, emphasizing the need to seek medical and professional psychological assistance for severe mental health issues. Overall, the information is accessible and interesting, as well as useful.

Dealing with Moving Stress: Tips to Cope & Manage Anxiety is an excellent blog entry that specifically covers the topic of moving. The coauthors discuss how “a big move can be stressful for a number of reasons” and provide “some simple ways to deal with moving stress to keep you and your family happy during the big transition” (Malkowski & DiMillo, 2023). Tips include helping your child cope with moving anxiety, moving with a disability, moving a senior, and moving resources for seniors and people with disabilities. Timely, streamlined, and bulleted information cover many issues and take DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusivity) factors into consideration. This is not your usual article on how to pack or find a mover, and it’s well worth your time to browse the fairly long article that features photographs and a carefully curated reference list of similar articles on topics associated with moving, including data links that indicate how many times each article has been shared online.


Comscore. (2023, February 12). In Wikipedia. https://

Ericson, C. (2022, October 4). What is the MLS? The Multiple Listing Service, Explained [Trade article]. com/advice/buy/what-is-the-mls-multiple-listing-service/

Garcia, M. (2019, October 24). Calm Down About Noisy Neighbors: Highways, Hospitals and Stadiums Bring the Volume [Trade article].

Malkowski, E., & DiMillo, R. (2023, January 11). Dealing with Moving Stress: Tips to Cope & Manage Anxiety [Blog]. a,most%20stressful%20event%20in%20life

Runkle, L. (2022, May 9). Is Your New Home in a Safe Neighborhood? How to Find Out [Trade article]. https://

Stevens, H. (2021, December 7). Why Moving is So Stressful (And 3 Things You Can Do About It). Bellhop. https://www. Symptoms%20of%20Stress%20when%20 Moving&text=Moving%20to%20an%20unfamiliar%20 area,and%20be%20quick%20to%20anger


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The Digital Toolbox — Whole Student Education: How Publishers and Librarians Support the Movement

Whole student education. It’s a phrase we hear a lot these days, but what exactly does it mean?

In short, whole student education is a philosophy of educating students not only in their chosen field of expertise, but also ensuring they leave college with the tools to be productive members of society and active participants in their communities. This can mean anything from interdisciplinary working knowledge of thoughts and theories of subject areas from across the school, to how to create sound and intellectually honest judgments based on a self-actualized worldview; from learning how to engage civilly and work toward a common good, to becoming fully aware of one’s place in society and how their work and studies contribute and are meaningful to themselves and others.

American Psychological Association (APA) Chief Publishing Officer Jasper Simons offered some insight into whole student education from a publisher’s perspective.

OverDrive Academic: How can publishers support institutions that want to lean into the whole student movement?

Jasper Simons: Depending on where an institution is on their path, different publishers might have different solutions to offer. If there is disagreement on the validity of the “whole student” concept, more scholarly resources might be beneficial to share among internal stakeholders. On the other hand, if there is broad commitment within the institution but a lack of knowing how to practically proceed, more applied content forms might be more appropriate.

OD/A: Trade publishing is an industry that capitalizes on trends, from YA and dystopian themes to dragons and Amish romance. Academic publishing does not sway too easily based on any trends. Do you think the whole student movement may change that? If so, please elaborate.

JS: Academic publishing is an excellent method for reporting out on advances in any field. The journal research article, as its predominant vehicle, has stood the test of time. But research shows that students benefit from different ways of engaging with content. At the APA, we have developed several new tools for the classroom. Academic Writer and PsycLearn are publishing innovations that take the science of learning and apply them in novel ways to create a new experience for students that is more hands-on.

OD/A: How do publishers decide what to publish?

JS: As a professional association, the APA works closely with its community of experts to understand trends in our field. A strong connection with both thought leaders and emerging scholars in one’s domain is essential to gauging new opportunities for publications. Our door is always open for new book ideas!

OD/A: What is the most challenging aspect of the academic market for publishers?

JS: The collaboration between publishers and the library community has enabled the broad dissemination of academic content across the world. We are proud of the value we add to the scholarly enterprise. This goes well beyond managing peer review, even though that is not always well understood by the public. The curation, enrichment, preservation and dissemination of research findings makes academic publishing, in my opinion, a noble profession; but it is also a profession whose value is too often hidden.

To better understand how academic libraries are addressing whole student education, we spoke with a humanities librarian for collection management at Appalachian State University (ASU) and Laura Egan, head of collection strategies at the University of North Dakota (UND).

OD/A: Does your school have any initiatives or programs that are specifically designed to support the concept of whole student education?

ASU: Instructors in certain areas (such as education or psychology) are more likely to design their coursework around the “whole student.”

We have a program where instructors, librarians, etc. can fill out a form from Student Affairs expressing concerns about a student. Often, changes in a student’s performance and motivation are symptomatic of a problem or trauma that needs attention. At another university, I’ve used Starfish.

UND: Yes, the Chester Fritz Library at the University of North Dakota has undertaken a couple of initiatives related to whole student education this past year, with the support of funding from UND Student Government and the North Dakota State Library.

UND Student Government used to provide annual funding for purchasing popular reading materials and hadn’t for many years, so our popular reading collection was becoming outdated, with updated materials coming only from staff donations or department purchases that overlapped with a more popular audience. Our Dean of Libraries and Information Services spoke to Student Senate about this need, and they responded by providing $5,000 in funding to support popular reading and named the bill after one of the library’s Peer Research Consultants, Avery (“Allocation for Various Enjoyable Readings for Y’all”). The Senate bill likewise encouraged us “to continue exploring audiobook and accessible material opportunities to prompt the growth of resource accessibility for students.”


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“Libraries should provide both print and electronic resources — as well as making physical space — for mental health.”

OD/A: Colleges and universities already invest significant resources supporting students with advisors, job placement, extracurricular activities, etc. With that mind, is there a need to have a broader view of how those resources work as a whole for student outcomes?

ASU: There could be more department-level initiatives that provide instructors with more information on this approach and opportunities to develop coursework and syllabi with this in mind.

UND: We had already been looking into streaming options for audiobooks thanks to an earlier request from a faculty member who wanted to offer audiobooks “aimed at improving student well-being and success.” She gave the example of audiobooks such as Atomic Habits and talked about how students could download and listen to such self-development books while doing other activities such as working out or commuting. She was particularly interested in audiobooks that supported student wellness and life-long learning. At the time, the faculty member planned to tap a fund specific to supporting student mental health. While that specific project didn’t pan out, it did encourage us to look into eBook and audiobook options for students.

As we looked into different options for eBooks and e-audiobooks, we reached out to other academic libraries in the state who had already started offering this option to students and found the state library was already starting a statewide academic library consortium through OverDrive Academic, partially to spend some of the funding they had received during the pandemic. Thanks to the state library’s support, we now have over a dozen academic libraries in our state participating in the North Dakota Academic Consortium, including several tribal colleges. And the Atomic Habits audiobook that was one of the instigators of our interest in the Libby library reading app already has 10 checkouts since our consortium went live in November.

Our second project supporting student wellness developed from a state library “Library of Things” grant. Our popular reading selector, Brittany Fischer, along with a couple other librarians, Alfred Wallace and Brian Garrison, applied for the grant. One of their focuses for the grant application was things that could support student mental health. Thus, they included things like yoga mats, light lamps and essential oils diffusers in addition to things like small vacuums and sewing kits. The grant reviewers noted that their application was one of the best they had ever received and were particularly impressed by their focus on student wellness.

OD/A: We’ve seen academic libraries fill unmet or trending needs in supporting issues like mental health and EDI/DEI. Is the whole student movement an area of opportunity for libraries to be able to provide content to students in the form of eBooks, audiobooks and video?

ASU: Yes, libraries should provide both print and electronic resources on mental health, as well as making physical space for mental health. They could do this by providing quiet study areas, collaborative spaces, stationary bikes (for kinesthetic learners), assistive technology rooms, etc. Exam time would be a good opportunity to draw attention to these resources and to provide yoga or meditation sessions, silent raves and other activities that help students tune into their bodies and calm their minds.

UND: Higher education students already had a lot to deal with, many moving out on their own for the first time and learning how to take care of themselves (including laundry!), developing new friendships, exploring what they may want to do for a career, navigating who they want to be and what their values are independent of their parents. The pandemic made everything harder. Fewer students were taking classes on campus, less activities were offered to help students make new friendships and people were fearful of getting sick, not to mention the periods of isolation during quarantine when they did. We started offering a book drop off service for students stuck in quarantine, as well as promoting the public library’s Kanopy and Libby streaming options, since we didn’t yet have our own. Now that students are back on campus, many have fallen out of the habit of getting together in person and are still re-learning how to make new friends. This means anything the library can do to help with their personal health and development, whether that’s providing space to gather, personal development audiobooks they can listen to while doing something else or light lamps they can check out, we see as supporting the university’s vision of a commitment to our students and bettering people’s lives.

We also have a donor who has provided funds to support the purchase of LGBTQI+ materials for a number of years. Part of our university’s mission is to “Foster a sense of belonging and a campus culture that celebrates the unique ways we connect and contribute to UND,” including a commitment to “Cultivate physical and online campus environments that are welcoming, safe, healthy and inclusive.” One of the composition instructors who helped select materials to purchase for this collection noted that the collection “reflects an acceptance and belonging at UND that I hadn’t seen so deliberately stated up until I got to have a hand in recommending titles to be part of this collection and see the finished product. And that is a really powerful, incredibly meaningful thing.” Thus, making materials available related to equity, diversity and inclusion has an impact on helping people feel like they belong. Along those lines, the Pride Center has also recognized the Chester Fritz Library as LGBTQ-friendly.


As the library already cuts through higher academia on a multidisciplinary level, it’s a natural starting point for whole student education at any university. The library is well positioned to take the campus lead to effectively encourage growth in both academic and traditionally non-academic endeavors, thereby supporting students’ holistic wellbeing during their years on campus and into the future.


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Biz of Digital — More Than a Migration: Southern Appalachian Digital Collections’ Transition from CONTENTdm to Qi by Keepthinking, a Vendor New to Libraries

(Cataloging and Metadata Librarian, Hunter Library, Western Carolina University, HL 111, 1 University Drive, Cullowhee, NC 28723; Phone: 828-227-3801) <>

and Beth Thompson (Department Head, Content Organization and Management, eResources, and Technology, Hunter Library, Western Carolina University, HL 107, 1 University Drive, Cullowhee, NC 28723; Phone: 828-227-3728) <>

Column Editor: Michelle Flinchbaugh (Acquisitions and Digital Scholarship Services Librarian, Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery, University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250; Phone: 410-455-3544) <>


Western Carolina University (WCU) has been developing a robust digital collection since 2005 using the content management system (CMS) CONTENTdm, an OCLC product. Like many other institutions, we found CONTENTdm to have issues we could no longer ignore, such as inadequate search results, an outdated structure, and slow load times. We desired a modern, easy-to-use back end with an attractive web presence that provides better search results than CONTENTdm. We knew that a better-performing CMS that meets the expectations of a current digital user would improve the cultivation and use of our digital collections.

WCU partnered with University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA), a neighboring university who also used CONTENTdm as their CMS and had collections that were similarly focused on the Southern Appalachian region. Ultimately, this partnership led to the formation of the Southern Appalachian Digital Collections (SADC) collaboration, which we aim to expand to future partnerships throughout the region. Together, WCU and UNCA applied for and were awarded an LSTA project grant to hire a digital collections management consultant to help us research alternatives to CONTENTdm and lead us through the selection process.

To start this process, we ranked our top 14 CMS specification priorities. Because we did not have the resources to support open-source options, we were looking for alternative proprietary vendors. Using the list, the consultant reached out to nine vendors that appeared to meet most of the criteria based on their website information. The consultant then viewed a demo from each of the nine vendors and gave them a sense of our budget, client type, and uses; they also asked each vendor to address the 14 CMS specification priorities. The consultant led us through the CMS vetting and selection process. In all, our list of specifications for a replacement CMS included:

• Cloud-hosted and web-based

• ADA compliant: WCAG 2.0 or better

• Ability to separate and manage records by institution and accommodate large collections

• Accommodates team workflow and intuitive design

• Access to CSS, HTML, JavaScript to customize the user interface

• Global update/mass editing feature

• Supports live editing and updating

• Allows users to search for items/record within and across organization and collections

• Library of Congress (LOC) and Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) terms automatically loaded

• Full text searching (including OCR items)

• Manages and displays compound items

• Support search engine optimization (SEO)

• Ability to create local authorities

• Intuitive navigation and use

We later added a few other requests, including a report creation functionality, support for linked data fields, and the ability to link out to other websites.

After reviewing each vendor demonstration with the project team and asking questions based on our needs and workflows, our consultant and the team concluded that Keepthinking met all our top CMS specification priorities. Keepthinking showed they have a strong platform which could accommodate our complex collections, and they could also accommodate WCU’s new partnership with UNCA. We proceeded to hire Keepthinking to develop, migrate, and host our digital collections to their CMS, Qi, and to build a website that would enhance discovery. (See Figure 1, page 54.)

Company Background

Located in London, Keepthinking was established in 2002 and has less than 50 employees. As stated on their website, “Keepthinking is a unique software and digital design agency, offering innovative content and collection management software solutions, as well as design and development of web and mobile applications. Qi is Keepthinking’s content and collection management framework.” Qi (pronounced “Q-I”) uses a database server built in MySQL, and it is a relational database scripted using PHP 7.4. It facilitates asset management, enables library staff to run item-level edits easily and seamlessly within the system, and is an easy-to-use web-based application. Most favorably from the metadata perspective, it allows for locally customized controlled vocabulary lists that are designed to accommodate local authority records while linking out to


53 Against the Grain / April 2023

controlled authorities using an API with easily configured validation rules.

Keepthinking’s website states that the company has worked with over 200 organizations including museums, art galleries, libraries, archives, private collectors, magazines, and other cultural institutions. Their typical clients are galleries and museums that heavily focus on art collections and that use metadata structures and field configurations differently than libraries. Many of Keepthinking’s clients have used Qi as a CMS for physical materials, and Qi is designed to monitor things like physical movements of objects that we do not normally incorporate into a digital asset management system (DAMS). Despite some significant hiccups that we have encountered in this unique collaboration with Keepthinking, we have found Qi to be a desirable alternative to CONTENTdm for libraries that cannot support open-source solutions.

Challenges and Collaboration

As excited as we have been to explore using a new CMS that is used in the GLAM world outside of libraries and that was most highly recommended by our consultant, we have faced considerable challenges with developing our requirements for this system with Keepthinking. Most of our challenges have stemmed from being one of Keepthinking’s first library clients as well as one of the first (if not the first) to use Qi as a digital collections platform. We have experienced communication barriers working with a company that is not familiar with our industry-standard specifications and terminology. In hindsight, we should not have taken for granted that Keepthinking would be precisely familiar with what we meant when we expressed our specification priorities using library terminology. We often found that specific terms and phrases could mean completely different things to the developers than they did to us, so in retrospect, our shared understanding and meaning was not something we should have taken as a given.

For example, while our original specifications included the ability to manage and display compound objects, we experienced unexpected hurdles in acquiring this functionality in our system prior to the launch of the new CMS and website. We found amid the migration process that executing the structure and website display of compound objects was a challenge. Compound object management became a long-standing issue. At one point, we found ourselves defending the entire concept of compound objects to the developer, who was proposing that our system would be more usable if search results displayed page-level records instead of object-level records for compound objects. At times, we felt that we were having to reinvent the wheel, conceptually.

Ultimately, we were able to communicate our requirements with Keepthinking successfully, and they developed a usable configuration for managing and displaying compound objects. Still, we continue to contend with some discrepancies in our shared understanding about terminology included in our original primary specifications and requirements. Notably, we are still advocating for the ability to perform batch edits to existing items, a requirement that will likely incur additional development costs. In this example, Keepthinking considers our original specification “global update/ mass editing feature” to have been satisfied by a global search and replace feature that is far too broad for us to feel comfortable using. For the most part, Qi has met our needs satisfactorily, and it is an improvement from our experiences in CONTENTdm. However, we would strongly caution any institution considering thirdparty vendor options that do not typically work with libraries to explicitly define the terminology shared in your specifications and requirements. It is easy to underestimate how exclusive some of our jargon and general practices are to our field.

The website Keepthinking built is more attractive than what we had with CONTENTdm. Discovery is different, and some things work better. For example, CONTENTdm did not have exact search matches display in the top results, whereas Qi does, and Qi’s search box offers search suggestions that CONTENTdm’s website did not.


54 Against the Grain / April 2023
Figure 1: Partial View of Object Record Display in Qi Figure 2: A Subject Record Display in Qi

However, we are still struggling with other essential website search features, such as Boolean searching, full text searching, and search filters for faceted searching. We also discovered, as the first library to migrate their digital collections with Keepthinking, that we had more robust metadata in our records than they were accustomed to, which provided challenges for both the backend organizational structure as well as the whole migration. Keepthinking has a heavy hand in metadata control, and they currently require us to work through them to add updates and improvements to existing records at an additional cost.

Migration from a Metadata Perspective

We leveraged the opportunity that the migration presented to refine our metadata application profile (MAP), consolidate many collection-level metadata element sets, and set metadata enrichment and remediation goals. The MAP revision was straightforward from our perspective, barring the issues we faced working with a vendor who was not familiar with the metadata schema we use in libraries or with the metadata configuration typical to CONTENTdm. Specifically, there was at times some confusion between field names that Qi conventionally employs and standardized metadata elements, but those differences were relatively easy to communicate about and resolve. Both WCU and UNCA use the Dublin Core schema and continue to use it in our new shared system, in accordance with DPLA requirements as specified by our hub coordinator and metadata harvester, DigitalNC.

From the developer’s perspective, the metadata analysis and migration were far more complex than anticipated, primarily because they were unfamiliar with the way that CONTENTdm enables collection-specific metadata profiles, which ultimately creates unique and duplicative fields for each collection. So, when we initially stated that object records had an average of ten metadata fields, they took this to mean that our system used about ten fields in total, when the number was far higher. They were able to accommodate us nonetheless and successfully transferred our existing metadata elements and object relationships to the new and revised MAP.

Because our institutions were long-time users of CONTENTdm and had nurtured a growing digital collections program through the years, we had developed 23 digital collections with unique collection-level metadata profiles. Naturally, over time, some of these metadata elements had deviated slightly from established internal consistency, and many were established as local fields that were unique to specific collections. In our transition to Qi, we moved away from collection-level metadata profiles and created one global MAP. This change was necessary because Qi does not accommodate collection-level element sets the way that CONTENTdm does, but it was also favorable because it helps facilitate internal consistency in metadata creation across collections, as well as interoperability with external systems through long-term use.

Our first step in developing a new MAP in Qi was to conduct a detailed internal analysis of our entire element sets across all digital collections between both institutions, which we accomplished in two passes. The first phase of analysis focused on identifying fields to be discarded, and the second phase entailed more nuanced decisions about how all the remaining

fields would be used and represented in the new system. During both phases of our analysis, we systematically solicited group input from the members of our project team, as many of them could contribute valuable knowledge and institutional memory about the development of these collection-level element sets.

At the outset and between both contributing partners, we had a total of 162 metadata fields pre-migration. In the first pass of our analysis, we determined that 139 (85.8%) of these fields were unique to only one specific digital collection. Several of these unique fields were used minimally in metadata records, and most of them were redundant across collections. Most importantly, very few of them represented unique local information that warranted collection-specific elements. We selected 83 of the 162 fields for removal in the first phase of our internal analysis, and we ultimately removed a total of 87 (53.7%) extraneous fields.

The second phase of our analysis entailed making more actionable decisions about how to incorporate the remaining 75 metadata elements in our configuration. 22 (13.6%) of these remaining fields were kept intact without any changes. These unchanged fields include your usual suspects with Dublin Core: essential fields like Title, Description, Subject, Contributor, Creator, Language, Type, and Format were taken from one collection they appeared in and remained unchanged. 27 (16.7%) other fields that we needed to retain but were duplicative were merged with the kept fields. 9 (5.6%) of the fields were simply renamed to align with standardized field names — for example, “Medium of Original” became “Format,” and “Source Institution” became “Repository.” (See Figure 3 above.)

Some remaining metadata elements could not be deleted, renamed, or merged with more standardized fields so we adjusted these unique fields to be qualifiers of other fields. For example, the “Advisor/Director” element that was unique to our restricted electronic theses and dissertations collection was changed to a qualifier of Contributor. A multitude of Date fields was consolidated into one, with qualifiers retaining additional pertinent information like “Date of Interview” and “Date Depicted.” Map scale, Dimensions, Duration, File Size, and Pages were all wrangled into the newly renamed Extent field as qualifiers. From our original number of 162 fields, 15 (9.3%) are now used as qualifiers. Finally, two new fields were created: Rights to incorporate the DPLA requirement for and Contributing Institution to indicate which partner institution contributes materials.


55 Against the Grain / April 2023
Figure 3: Metadata Field Decisions

Beyond revising our metadata application profile and configuration during the initial implementation of Qi, metadata issues relating to the migration have revolved around metadata remediation, normalization, and enrichment. We have been planning general post-migration metadata cleanup projects that are currently at a standstill as we continue to negotiate with Keepthinking about the development of a batch editing feature. During the migration, we negotiated for the development of a batch importer that allows us to import metadata records from .csv files and ingest media files to the system using an FTP. The development of this importer was separate from our original bid and contract, and we now hope this importer can be expanded to include a batch editing functionality.

It has been challenging to convey to the developers at Keepthinking that importing and editing objects at the item level cannot sufficiently accommodate our usual workflows. Several times, Keepthinking has cited concerns about data integrity and consistency as a justification for discouraging us from pursuing development of batch editing capabilities for Qi. Unexpectedly, these conversations have raised issues around proprietary concerns about our metadata and the role of metadata specialists at our institutions. Nonetheless, we are confident that as we continue to explicitly communicate our requirements and negotiate, we will have a system that effectively meets our functional requirements in this regard.

Outside of not having the ability to update records in batches for the time being, Keepthinking has provided us with a vocabulary remediation tool that has proven immensely helpful. One of our institutions had historically sustained their digital collections program by inviting volunteers and students to create and review metadata. As a result, contributors who had little to no training in the authorized vocabularies had been applying subjects to records, quite taking the “control” out of our controlled vocabularies. Vocabulary remediation has been a primary focus of our metadata cleanup and enrichment goals from the beginning of this migration, and it would have been an unfathomable undertaking without Qi’s list term reduction tool. (See Figure 4 below.)

The reduction tool allows you to deduplicate similar terms by selecting multiple terms and merging them into one preferred, authorized or locally controlled term. This function merges all the terms’ associated object relationships as well as the terms themselves. The reduction tool has been used to clean up all our controlled vocabulary lists, but the great emphasis has been on using it for our topical subjects. The first phase of our topical subject cleanup focused solely on deduplicating terms that were entered erroneously or could be merged with authorized headings. Over seven months, three metadata specialists worked away at this and deduplicated 4,505 topical subject terms from our original list of 12,876 terms, cutting down the size of our topical subject list by 35%. We are now in the process of analyzing our local controlled vocabularies. Future phases of vocabulary remediation will entail deduplicating, moving, and standardizing name and geographic subjects and analyzing our strategic approach to using geographic subdivisions, so the Qi reduction tool will continue to be put to good use in the future.


As we near the end of our first year online, we are evaluating our migration, including taking account of features we are pleased with and requirements we are still trying to attain. Working with a company that is in a different country and new to libraries does come with some challenges that should be considered. We discovered some language barriers including terminology differences, time challenges for live meetings, and overall communication and expectation challenges. While working with an independent developer, we learned not to assume they would provide typical library content management system functionalities, structures, and workflows that we come to naturally expect. Still, this vendor has offered a new way to configure our metadata, which we have found useful.

We are hoping that in the next year our workflow challenges will lessen as we grow our partnerships and our collections and improve the overall experience with our new digital collections platform. Overall, we are glad that we made the transition from CONTENTdm to Qi. While we are working through some ongoing challenges, we are enjoying a more modern interface to work in as well as a more attractive and browsable website. As Keepthinking continues to adapt Qi to the needs of libraries’ digital collections, they will have a potential framework for migrating collections for institutions like ours in the future and could prove to be an attractive DAMS solution for other libraries.


Keepthinking, accessed February 2, 2023, https://

Southern Appalachian Digital Collections, accessed February 2, 2023, https://

“Describing Your Materials (Metadata Guidelines),” DigitalNC, accessed February 2, 2023, https://www.


56 Against the Grain / April 2023
Figure 4: The Reduction Tool in Qi Allows You to Select Multiple Terms and Merge Them with One Preferred Term.

Looking Over the Edge — Ten Years of Knowledge Unlatched: Paving the Way for Diamond Open Access Monographs

With contributions from Neil Christensen, Olaf Ernst, Ph.D., Elaine Lambert, Alexandra Brown, Pablo Markin,

, Wilson de Souza, and Max Mosterd

Column Editor: Dr. Sven Fund (Managing Director, Fullstopp GmbH, Berlin, Germany; Phone: +49 (0) 172 511 4899) <>

The year was 2013. Frances Pinter, the former CEO of Manchester Press, and Lucy Montgomery, a professor at Curtin University, collaborated with 13 academic publishers to launch a global library crowdfunding campaign aimed at making a collection of scholarly monographs Open Access (OA) upon publication. The campaign sought to cover the cost of publishing 28 monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) without financial burdens to authors or readers. Initially, the pilot required 200 libraries to participate in crowdfunding, but nearly 300 libraries from various parts of the world supported the initiative, making it a success.

Thus began the story of Knowledge Unlatched (KU), a proofof-concept experiment aimed at addressing a well-known challenge in OA publishing — finding equitable, sustainable ways to publish OA scholarly publications without requiring fees from authors or readers. Fast forward to 2023, and KU’s efforts now include hundreds of publishers and institutions from around the globe, who join forces to “unlatch” hundreds of books each year. These efforts have enabled us to make scholarly titles open and available beyond the confines of institution walls, ensuring that the benefits of OA are widespread and universal.

From a small-scale pilot project, KU has evolved into a global initiative transforming the landscape of OA publishing. In

This is the first submission in a brand new column for Against the Grain titled “Looking Over the Edge” that will be guest edited by Sven Fund. Sven has more than 20 years experience in scholarly and trade publishing. He worked for Bertelsmann, SpringerNature, and De Gruyter. In 2015, Sven became the Managing Director of Knowledge Unlatched, the innovator in Open Access that was acquired by Wiley at the end of 2021. At Wiley, Sven is responsible for the integration of KU and its products, like oable, into the Wiley portfolio. On the side, Sven is a novice in beekeeping, runs ReviewerCredits and teaches at Humboldt University in Berlin (librarianship) and Hochschule der Medien in Stuttgart (innovation in publishing).

many ways, the endurance of our OA efforts underscores the power of experimentation and collaboration to drive positive change in scholarly communications. As we head into our tenth pledging cycle this spring and celebrate a decade of library crowdfunding campaigns, it’s the right time to reflect on the impact of our efforts to date. And with Diamond Open Access (DOA) recently drawing increasing attention in academic circles, KU’s contributions to the sustainability of DOA are particularly worth noting.

Over the years, our willingness to test different approaches and business models to eliminate Book Processing Charges (BPCs) for authors — the key distinction of DOA — has resulted in the unlatching of over 4,000 peer-reviewed books across a wide range of HSS disciplines. Moreover, our community-driven efforts have created a network that serves diverse academic needs and reinforces OA as a global phenomenon that benefits many stakeholders, including authors, researchers, institutions, libraries, and publishers.

Insisting On Equity

Widely considered a more equitable form of Gold OA, DOA relies on funding from institutions to cover the entire publishing process, ensuring that researchers can share their work without paying fees to publishers. Although DOA encompasses a range of OA publications and infrastructures, it has gained the most attention and traction on the journal side of publishing, where it is positioned as a viable alternative to the Gold OA model reliant on Article Processing Charges (APCs). Current estimates1 suggest that up to 29,000 academic journals use DOA as a publishing model, a third of which are registered in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Studies also point to the diversity of the DOA landscape, which spans countries, continents, disciplines, and languages. Given their increasing popularity in Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe — considered emerging OA publishing markets where researchers do not have the same access to closed scholarly content as those in more affluent countries and where authors cannot afford the steep cost of APCs — DOA journals are much more multilingual than APC-based journals (38% compared to 14%).2

In response to last year’s Office of Science and Technology Policy memo3 urging US institutions to make federally funded research publications publicly accessible without embargo, 13 Ivy Plus libraries wrote a letter 4 emphasizing the global equity issue with the APC model for journals. The letter cited “convoluted and demeaning APC waiver procedures” that may result in unaffordable fees for authors and researchers in lower-


57 Against the Grain / April 2023

income countries. According to the letter, equitable opportunity for global scholars to contribute to academic literature is “as important for the integrity and usefulness of scholarship globally as is the open accessibility to read.” Across the Atlantic, in their open letter5 to UK library directors, a group of UK researchers also advocated for equitable OA publishing, highlighting DOA and Subscribe-to-Open (S20) as new approaches that do not exclude authors in the Global South. These recent efforts point to the recognition of DOA in the scholarly community as a sustainable solution to the lingering issue of inequity.

Although much of the current discourse surrounding OA and DOA centers on journals and articles, the need for equity has extended to monographs — the long-form scholarship that remains the primary vehicle for HSS publishing. It came as no surprise when the global scholarly community recently began to apply OA agendas and policies that used to only apply to journals to monographs. In late 2021, for example, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) announced that new monographs that acknowledge UKRI funding should be OA from January 2024, preferring immediate OA but allowing an embargo period of up to 12 months.6 This announcement marked a significant step in cementing the OA monograph’s reputation as a vital form of academic expression and an integral part of OA publishing. However, authors of monographs continue to face steep processing fees when publishing their books Gold OA, with some fees running as high as 20,000 USD (with an average median BPC of around 12,000 USD).7 As a result, ensuring equity and access to funding has been as relevant for monographs as for journals.

Embracing Globality

KU’s commitment to providing equitable opportunities for authors to contribute to scholarly literature is central to its evolution. Through our innovative “pledging” model for monographs, we have paved the way for authors to publish their research without incurring BPCs. Collaborative institutional crowdfunding involving hundreds of libraries worldwide supports this model well and allows us to achieve our equity goals and remain at the forefront of DOA.

We take pride in the globality of our approaches, from the content we’ve published in partnership with 150-plus publishers, including small university presses, independent publishers, and large corporations, to the collections built in collaboration with librarians from every corner of the globe. Our in-house book packages are curated by 286 librarians that make up the KU Selection Committee, 154 of whom are located in the Global North and 132 in the Global South, together representing 42 countries and six continents. The democratic voting process that takes place each year on our website is open to all members of the KU Selection Committee and ensures that KU’s collections echo the voices of librarians worldwide who select content based on the quality and relevance of the proposed topics rather than merely the affiliations of the authors.

KU’s legacy of publishing content with a global reach is evident in the success of books like Social Theory after the Internet: Media, Technology and Globalization (UCL Press), one of KU’s most-used titles. Authored by Ralph Schroeder, a professor at the Oxford Internet Institute (University of Oxford), the book was published as part of the KU Select collection in 2018 and has had more than 200,000 downloads worldwide. DOA has made it accessible to researchers and students in countries like India and China, who may otherwise have limited access to books. “I have received many emails from those and other countries, thanking

me that the book is freely available,” revealed the author in an email recently, adding that 200,000 is many more downloads than all of his other books combined.

Our collections feature diverse content that speaks to the multi-ethnicity and internationality of our authors, whose affiliations range from the prestigious institutions in the US and the UK to the lesser-known universities in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America. And our staff is also highly diverse, with KU team members hailing from the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Israel, and Brazil, among other countries.

While we believe that DOA is essential in helping scholars achieve global impact, we also strive not to exclude from the narrative the scholars who have traditionally had insufficient access to institutional funding, such as contingent, independent, unaffiliated, and early career researchers. To this end, we are experimenting with ways to reserve a certain percentage of unlatched titles for researchers who would otherwise have no opportunity to take advantage of the no-fee approach to OA.

Navigating the Future

As DOA continues to gain momentum, we hope our commitment to collaboration and experimentation serves as a model for the wider academic community. By promoting equitable access to knowledge and breaking down the barriers that prevent scholars and researchers from accessing the information they need, KU has helped to foster a more open and inclusive academic landscape. And although our OA offerings have increased significantly over the years, and the number of supporting institutions has more than doubled since the 2013 pilot (now approaching 680), our mission to try to make what is complex with OA simpler and more equitable for those we work with and serve remains unchanged. We will continue to experiment with different models that support DOA and evolve in the areas that deal with access to equitable opportunities and brokering the funds needed to support OA publishing efforts worldwide.

In recent years, we have extended our efforts beyond monographs to support the publishing of journals through several Subscribe-to-Open initiatives, resulting in the flipping of 50 closed journals in the fields of anthropology, politics, math, and water management to OA. Along the way, we have recognized the importance of supporting the publishing of other emerging types of peer-reviewed content, including academic blogs and videos. We have also been investing in OA infrastructures to contribute to the discoverability of OA content (Open Research Library) and the workflow management of various OA processes in institutions (Oable).

And what better time than the present to rethink the structure and purpose of our multidisciplinary collection of monographs well-known to librarians, KU Select, and align it with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? Aiming to eradicate poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that people everywhere live safely and prosperously, SDGs may only be realized through improved access to information and knowledge sharing. We first embraced this clear link between SDGs and OA two years ago when we launched our focus collection on Climate Change. This year, we take our commitment to publishing SDGrelevant content to a new level by dividing KU Select into seven packages matching the breakdown of SDGs: SDG 1 (No Poverty), 3 (Good Health and Well-being), 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), 13


58 Against the Grain / April 2023

(Climate Action), and 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions). The collection remains subject to evaluation by the KU Selection Committee, but unlike in previous years, it will no longer be divided into larger academic disciplines.

These are just some ways we have expanded our horizons over the years without straying from our core belief: that OA must remain an equitable and global process embracing diversity, experimentation, and pressing social issues. And in this ever-evolving process, change remains the only constant. The writing is on the wall: just as the world needs to support the idea that those who have must help support those who do not have, academic publishing needs models that serve as the great equalizers in the story of knowledge dissemination. We see KU as a unique facilitator of OA equity and simplicity, aiming to make the OA process as simple as possible so that researchers can focus on knowledge production rather than administration.

In the words of Elaine Lambert, KU’s Account Manager for North America, who has been with KU from the beginning and has seen it grow since the earliest days, “knowing that we have a lot to do with enabling thousands of researchers to publish their books OA free of charge while allowing other researchers to access those books freely never ceases to inspire.”


Bosman, J., Frantsvåg, J.E., Kramer, B. Langlais, P. Proudman, V. OA Diamond Journals Study, Part 1: Exploring collaborative community-driven publishing models for Open Access. Science Europe and cOAlition S Report 2021. record/4558704#.ZDZgfHZBxPY

Executive Office of the President. Office of Science and Technology Policy. Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, August 25, 2022. https://www.

Harvard Library Communications Office. IPLC Letter to the Office of Science & Technology, March 3, 2023. https://library.

An open letter from UK Researchers to UK library directors regarding the UK’s reliance on read-and-publish deals with publishers, March 10, 2023. d/1ZAlPDvECb5Zm1pqAf0I1f0sjcBqPbkPGMvGIhaCz6lM/edit

Shaw, P., Phillips, A. & Gutiérrez, M.B. The Death of the Monograph?. Pub Res Q 38, 2022. 382–395. https://doi. org/10.1007/s12109-022-09885-2

OA Monograph Charges (BPCs). Open APC website. Accessed March 29, 2022.


1. Bosman, J., Frantsvåg, J.E., Kramer, B. Langlais, P. Proudman, V. OA Diamond Journals Study, Part 1: Exploring collaborative community-driven publishing models for Open Access. Science Europe and cOAlition S Report 2021. ZDZgfHZBxPY

2. Bosman, J., Frantsvåg, J.E., Kramer, B. Langlais, P. Proudman, V. OA Diamond Journals Study, Part 1: Exploring collaborative community-driven publishing models for Open Access. Science Europe and cOAlition S Report 2021. ZDZgfHZBxPY

3. Executive Office of the President. Office of Science and Technology Policy. Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, August 25, 2022. uploads/2022/08/08-2022-OSTP-Public-Access-Memo. pdf

4. Harvard Library Communications Office. IPLC Letter to the Office of Science & Technology, March 3, 2023. iplc-letter-office-science-technology-policy

5. An open letter from UK Researchers to UK library directors regarding the UK’s reliance on read-and-publish deals with publishers, March 10, 2023. com/document/d/1ZAlPDvECb5Zm1pqAf0I1f0sjcBqPbk PGMvGIhaCz6lM/edit

6. Shaw, P., Phillips, A. & Gutiérrez, M.B. The Death of the Monograph?. Pub Res Q 38, 2022. 382–395. https://doi. org/10.1007/s12109-022-09885-2

7. OA Monograph Charges (BPCs). Open APC website. Accessed March 29, 2022. apcdata/bpc/

59 Against the Grain / April 2023

ATG Interviews Brian Hole

CEO, Ubiquity Press

ATG: Can you tell us a little bit about your background, and how Ubiquity Press came to be?

BH: Ubiquity was founded both from a concrete need for new publishing services and a sense that most existing publishers were not well-aligned with the values of the research and library communities.

Our origins are back in 2008, when I went back to university to do a part-time PhD in archaeology after several years working in publishing. My department had a student journal in our department that had been running for 20 years and was very highly regarded, but was limited to a small print distribution only, so it was time to take it online. At the same time, I was doing my research in India and came to realize that access to publications was still a significant issue for the greater part of the world, and it became clear that we should also go open access if we wanted to maximize the journal’s readership. In a modern context, it was also clearly indefensible to exclude more than half of the global scholarly community from “our research,” while at the same time pretending that science was all about collaboration and community.

The problem was that there were no publishers at that time really willing to support open access in the humanities, especially with an affordable APC. There were also no commercial journal hosting platforms available at a price point that worked for student and departmental-based publishing. My experience in previous roles, such as at Elsevier, was that such systems are far from trivial to build and that there was already a large amount of duplicated effort with multiple proprietary systems out there. Because of this, we decided to work with an open source platform, Open Journal Systems. Our approach was to professionalize the front end, and this worked very well. All of a sudden, the articles were getting high views and downloads and many other journals at the university began asking for similar help.

I founded the company because of this demand and the journals platform has now grown to over 800 titles around the world. Some of our core values came from this beginning — to always be 100% open access, to base our core products on open source, and to provide all services at a fair and affordable price. We similarly began publishing open access books early on due to demand in the humanities, and soon had a successful small press.

At this point, we realized that there were many institutions out there trying to do the same thing but finding it difficult, so we decided to make our platform and services available to them to run their own presses. This really took off, and we now support the open access operations of 35 university presses around the world, the majority of which were newly founded. A key mission of the company is to support the growth and

diversity of university-based publishing, and we’ve very proud of having catalyzed a significant resurgence.

We added repositories to the platform when Bepress was acquired by Elsevier in 2017, as we were working closely with libraries and understood that there was now a need for a reasonably priced cloudhosted platform, based on open source to limit vendor lock-in.

One of the biggest wins over this time was that we were able to attract a really talented team, all completely dedicated to open access and open source. It’s this team and its integrity that makes us a great partner for our customers, just as much as the platform and technology.

ATG: Can you tell us how the acquisition of Ubiquity Press by De Gruyter developed? What is it about De Gruyter that made it an attractive suitor?

After ten years we found ourselves running a successful and self-sustaining business, which we felt was having a positive impact on the world. We still believed that the company had the potential for significantly more growth and impact though, and for this we needed investment to help us invest in areas such as product development and sales and marketing. We decided that we needed an investment partner with industry knowledge to help us grow, but also with aligned values.

We spent much of 2022 speaking to over 30 possible investors. We cast the net fairly wide, but did exclude certain companies where the values gap was obviously too great. In the end we decided that for many reasons De Gruyter was by far the best fit, both for us and our customers.

The deal involved De Gruyter obtaining ownership of the company, but also very importantly they also agreed to make the significant investment we were looking for to help the company continue growing and to reach its potential. Mindful of the way in which other acquisitions have often resulted in a damaging of the acquired company’s brand and effectiveness, they agreed that Ubiquity should continue to run independently and to pursue the same mission. This involved agreeing to continue our customer charter, which guarantees our commitment to open access and open source. Without this agreement, we could not have gone through with the deal.

Another key factor was that we respect De Gruyter as a company, both in terms of the people and the way they do business. We confirmed a strong cultural alignment with them in talks, and also did our due diligence into the way the company was run and would run in future. The last thing we wanted was to join a large, profit-blinkered corporation. It gave us a lot of confidence that De Gruyter will remain family-owned and independent, with no stock-market flotation or other external investor pressure. They also maintain healthy but reasonable


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profit margins. We knew that this would be an important factor for our community, many of whom quite fairly oppose the excessive income of the larger players, which siphon off precious institutional funding to line investor pockets.

Since the acquisition, De Gruyter have been absolutely true to their word, and we are now very happy to be moving ahead and scaling up independently but with their valuable help. They also have a very well aligned partner program for university presses that complements our open access offerings very well, so while both offerings will be independent there is also scope to offer very effective packages for customers together.

Finding such an appropriate partner was not easy, but we are very happy that the company now has a perfect long-term home, with the support it needs to continue moving forward in alignment with our vision and values.

ATG: In what ways will the De Gruyter acquisition affect Ubiquity Press’ overall governance? How will your duties as CEO be impacted?

BH: We will continue to run the company the same way under De Gruyter’s ownership. Our Partner Advisory Board, made up of customer representatives, will continue to oversee our adherence with the customer charter, which also remains unchanged.

My role and those of the senior management team stay the same as well. There have been no changes to staff (other than many new hires), and we are all committed to pursuing the company’s mission and growth.

ATG: What about your commitment to the broader research community? Will Ubiquity Press maintain its general and partner advisory boards? Will the Ubiquity Community Portal continue to operate? Can your press partners expect the same level of innovation from the Ubiquity Press platform?

BH: We have always considered ourselves a researcher-led publisher because our mission and values were informed by my experience during my PhD and my years working at the British Library. I don’t necessarily recommend simultaneously founding a company, having a family and pursuing a PhD if you like getting eight hours of sleep a night, but it really helped us to understand the needs and frustrations of researchers and the growing open science community from within.

Brian Hole is the CEO of Ubiquity, and original founder. An active researcher in the field of archaeology, he also has strong roots in the academic community. Previous roles included platform development at Elsevier and data publication at the British Library. A passionate advocate for open scholarship and changing the culture of publishing, Brian speaks regularly at conferences and workshops on these topics. Brian is based in Thessaloniki, Greece.

We will be expanding our general advisory boards to help us keep and expand this focus. I finally finished the PhD, so we’re appointing several early career researchers to the board to help us chart a course that meets their needs.

We’ve now hired a larger community team, so our community portal will also be growing and providing for more interaction among our partners.

Due to the investment we’ve received, we’re now able to accelerate innovation and product development. This also enables us to double-down more on many of our values and commitments that are important for the research and library communities. For example, with a bigger team we are now able to dedicate more time to involvement in open source communities, and to developing more features for the community-owned codebases we make use of.

ATG: Are there specific ways that being part of De Gruyter will help you and the Ubiquity team be a more effective open research publisher and provider of open publishing services? And how will the acquisition impact your mission to accelerate change towards open access and open science?

Really as described above, this gives us a lot more resources to pursue our mission and be more effective. A next step in our evolution will see us enabling a lot more integration of our platform, to enable more synergy across the research lifecycle in open science. Our repositories are adding preprint functionality for example, that can integrate seamlessly with the journal platform. They are also being developed to provide fully professional storage and access to research data and content such as video for the journals and books.

ATG: Can you share some of your immediate and long-range plans and/or goals for the future?

BH: Right now, we’re completing the new hires that came with the investment and getting the expanded areas of the company such as development and sales and marketing running. Following that, our mission is to keep developing our products and services as described, and to have the greatest impact we can. We really believe that there is not only enormous potential for growth in university presses, but also a critical need for the important role they play in publishing and society. We similarly feel there is a similar need for more and better institutional repositories, to drive the sharing of open content and open science.

ATG: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Charleston/ATG community?

BH: A great part of having an expanded team is that we now have the bandwidth to be present at a lot more events, so we look forward to seeing more of the community in Charleston going forward!

ATG: That’s great to hear, Brian. Thanks for taking the time to update us on the company and the acquisition, and we look forward to hearing more updates in the future. And hopefully to see you in Charleston!


61 Against the Grain / April 2023


Morressier GmbH, Invalidenstrasse 5, 10115 Berlin, Germany


BORN AND LIVED: Born and raised in Berlin, currently living in Washington, DC.

EARLY LIFE: Passionate hobby sailor.


FAMILY: Wonderful wife and our two incredible kids.

IN MY SPARE TIME: Out and about with the family.

FAVORITE BOOKS: Many and always changing.

PET PEEVES: Many small ones.

PHILOSOPHY: Everything is possible — always.

HOW/WHERE DO I SEE THE INDUSTRY IN FIVE YEARS: This is a question I think about all the time. In five years, I hope this industry has made big, big changes. We’re at a unique moment in time for scholarly publishing, and we need to really embrace technology and the changes it can bring to our industry. I would like to see a completely revolutionized publishing infrastructure, with the modern agility to change and evolve as the world does. This infrastructure would give publishers flexibility to scale, and would apply technology to improving research integrity from end to end. With our internal workflows sorted, public trust in science in five years will be stronger than it has ever been before.

Morressier GmbH, Invalidenstrasse 5, 10115 Berlin, Germany <>

BORN AND LIVED: I grew up in the Green Mountains in Vermont, and now live in the Boston area.

EARLY LIFE: Mostly reading in the woods.

FAVORITE BOOKS: Sentimental favorite: The Phantom Tolbooth, for teaching me the power of words. Current favorite: Galileo’s Middle Finger, Alice Dreger

PET PEEVES: Rushing and being late.

PHILOSOPHY: Always be curious.

HOW/WHERE DO I SEE THE INDUSTRY IN FIVE YEARS: I think there’s untapped potential for scholarly publishing when you view ‘sharing science’ as much more than putting an article on the Internet. Science communication, and information literacy, are critical skills for everyone, and scholarly publishing seems uniquely positioned to revolutionize the development of those skills. How can accurate, high-quality research rise above the noise in today’s information ecosystem and influence our lives, our decision-making, and our society? This is an area I would like to see scholarly publishing explore much further. This type of change needs

to start from within, investing in infrastructure so we move efficiently and scale effectively, with greater confidence in the validity of new science. That initial investment will create the space for publishing to not only share science with the world but communicate it in effective, evidence-based ways that lead to tangible change.




Prior to joining SAGE, Adya has worked in senior editorial roles at PLOS and PeerJ bringing together subject level expertise in molecular biology, medicine and public health along with hands on experience in publication ethics/research integrity principles. Adya has a broad interest in evidence based research, science communication and research integrity, all of which have developed via initiatives at various employers and in her previous life as an academic researcher. Adya currently leads a global research integrity team at SAGE that oversees the resolution of post-publication ethics cases as well as lead on the development of initiatives to prevent breaches of research integrity. Adya sits on a number of cross-publisher working groups that are looking to develop solutions, processes, policies and technology to uphold the highest principles of Research Integrity in scholarly publishing.

IN MY SPARE TIME: Adya spends most of her spare time in the Irish Sea in her kayak or on her paddleboard.

HOW/WHERE DO I SEE THE INDUSTRY IN FIVE YEARS: I see a lot more collaborative efforts set up across the industry among stakeholders that have traditionally not worked together on solutions. We are already seeing unprecedented levels of collaboration among publishers in upholding research integrity, in future I see research institutions working more closely with publishers and funders to create holistic and meaningful changes to the ecosystem and working to removing some of the undesirable incentives that push people to breach research integrity principles.

Universitätsstr. 25, 33615 Bielefeld, Germany

Phone: +405211064049


BORN AND LIVED: 30.03.1967, Heide.

PROFESSIONAL CAREER AND ACTIVITIES: Dirk studied political sciences and economics and became an academic librarian afterwards. He is engaged in open access and open science for some years now, including projects like BASE (, OpenAPC ( and other ones.

FAMILY: Married, one daughter.

IN MY SPARE TIME: Playing soccer.


PET PEEVES: Cat hair allergy.


62 Against the Grain / April 2023

PHILOSOPHY: “We do not take even our own observations quite seriously, or accept them as scientific observations, until we have repeated and tested them. Only by such repetitions can we convince ourselves that we are not dealing with a mere isolated coincidence, but with events which, on account of their regularity and reproducibility, are in principle intersubjectively testable.” Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery

MOST MEMORABLE CAREER ACHIEVEMENT: Hopefully some contributions to fully achieve open access and open science in the near future.

GOAL I HOPE TO ACHIEVE FIVE YEARS FROM NOW: Visting the record collection of the British Library.



ETH Library, ETH Zurich


Rämistrasse 101, 8092 Zürich

Phone: +41 44 632 21 35 <> •

BACKGROUND/HISTORY: Almost simultaneously at the time that ETH Zurich was founded as a “Federal Polytechnic School” in 1855, a library was set up that focused on literature concerning the technical and natural sciences. Today, the ETH Library is the central university library of ETH Zurich and the largest public scientific and technical library in Switzerland and functions as a national centre for literature and information on natural and engineering sciences. Furthermore, it operates the ETH Zurich University Archives and the ETH Board Archives, and is also responsible for the curation and further development of the culturally and historically important collections at ETH Zurich.

NUMBER OF STAFF AND RESPONSIBILITIES: Head count: 204 (167.4 FTE). Student assistants 108 (31.99 FTE).

OVERALL LIBRARY BUDGET: Roughly CHF 50 Mio. (Media costs and personnel as main items of expenditure.)

TYPES OF MATERIALS YOU BUY: Databases, journals (since 2020 e-only), books (textbooks, eBooks etc.), objects (i.e., building materials), DVD, prints/drawings, maps/geodata, audiovisual media, etc.

WHAT TECHNOLOGIES DOES YOUR LIBRARY USE TO SERVE MOBILE USERS? To serve mobile users, the ETH Library’s discovery system ( has been designed using a responsive web design (RWD) approach. This approach takes into account the range of devices and device sizes and enables automatic screen adaptation, regardless of whether the content is viewed on a tablet or a smartphone. The technology used in this approach is AngluarJS.

DOES YOUR LIBRARY HAVE AN ILS OR ARE YOU PART OF A COLLABORATIVE ILS? The ETH Library uses the Ex Libris Alma/Primo VE integrated library system for managing its collections and providing discovery services to its users. The Alma/Primo VE system is a cloudbased platform that enables libraries to manage electronic, digital, and physical resources through a single interface. In addition to using Alma/ Primo VE, the ETH Library is also a member of the Swiss Library Service Platform (SLSP), a national collaborative initiative that aims to create a shared infrastructure for library services in Switzerland. Through SLSP, users can access resources and services from different libraries across the country, including the ETH Library, using a single search interface.

DO YOU HAVE A DISCOVERY SYSTEM? Yes, the ETH Library uses Ex Libris Primo VE as its discovery system (

Primo VE is a powerful and flexible discovery tool that provides access to the ETH Library’s vast collection of electronic and physical resources, including books, journals, databases, and other materials.


a core task of the Section Research Support Services and mainly lies within the responsibility of the subject specialists and the specialists for acquisition.

ETH Library has an Acquisition Profile providing detailed information about the range of acquisitions for every subject. The same principles apply to the acquisition of holdings. The ETH Library endeavours to provide a broad range of premium information resources to all customers and to render the corresponding services. It thereby allocates the existing financial means as efficiently as possible. Thus, in January 2020, the acquisition strategy was adapted to electronic journals (e-only), as there has been a strong decline in the circulation of printed journals and the request for copies (document delivery).

ETH IS ONE OF THE LEADING LIBRARIES IN THE WORLD. WHAT ARE THE MAIN STRATEGIC TOPICS YOU AND YOUR MANAGEMENT TEAM ARE WORKING ON RIGHT NOW? In 2019 ETH Library developed a new strategy 2020–2024 and defined the following main strategic topics / goals:

Offering integrated support along the value chains in teaching and research

Building strategic alliances and networks

Use co-Creation to develop services

However, from the beginning the library had agreed on a strategic approach (and agility) that would allow for further topics if they proved useful. Therefore the following spects have been added:

Open Science / Open Data (in close collaboration with various groups/people from ETH Zurich’s central bodies

Transformation of publication system

The further development of the Swiss Library Service Platform SLSP

HOW DO YOU SEE THE ROLE OF THE LIBRARY DEVELOPING WITHIN ETH AS AN INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION? As ETH Zurich’s globally networked knowledge hub ETH Library is the trustworthy partner and service provider for teaching and research. We are customerfocused initiator for the generation and further development of knowledge and its transfer to society. We seek to support and accompany our customers more effectively, efficiently and ergonomically as they pursue their knowledge- and information-related activities. In doing so, we are also helping to make the world of yesterday, today and tomorrow more comprehensible.


Open science is a topic that not only concerns (and affects) ETH Library but is crucial for research (and teaching) across ETH Zurich and beyond. Therefore, ETH Library aims at being a respected partner and – where appropriate coordinator — in dealing with all aspects regarding open science.


63 Against the Grain / April 2023

Since the beginning of 2023, the director of ETH Library is a member of DelOS (Delegation Open Science) of swissuniversities (the umbrella organization of the Swiss universities). The goal of this delegation is to observe, anticipate, and coordinate the developments within the domains of Open Science and scientific information.

In addition, the topic of Open Science will be fully integrated into the “value chains” in research and teaching through networking, co-creation and technical skills.


Specific technical knowledge and skills (KI) will be needed to adapt to a changing environment Networking will play a part in finding the right partners for developing new services, acquire skills needed and sharing knowledge and resources.

Acquire the skill to be able to move in ever complex environments People will be motivated to acquire new skills / competences. Both ETH Library and ETH Zurich offer a great range of course and put a focus on continuing education, supporting staff both financially and in non-material ways.

THERE IS A LOT OF TALK ABOUT CO-CREATION OF INNOVATIVE SERVICES AND PRODUCTS WITH OTHER PLAYERS WITHIN THE ACADEMIC PUBLISHING ECOSYSTEM. TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT IT AND YOUR APPROACH TO BRINGING INNOVATION TO THE LIBRARY. Co-creation is one of our strategic goals. We follow an integrated approach by involving all sections (crosssectional) and actively integrating the respective experts from various fields / competences and stakeholders. Thus — within the last two years — we were able to further develop existing services and offer new ones to support research: Bibliometrics / Scientometrics, Digital Scholarship services and research data management.

We have also follow a bottom-up approach and offer a platform where library staff can contribute ideas to improve services or organizational matters within the library.



Generally, ETH Library perceives changes as challenges — both positive and negative i.e., both exciting and frightening. Some of the main challenges are:

• Changing job requirements — on the one hand it is exciting to see how profiles are changing in the library (e.g., from “classical” librarians to data managers), but it is increasingly more difficult finding the right people.

• Foresight is a big topic – both at ETH Zurich and ETH Library. However, despite all efforts we can only anticipate possible trends and we need to stay agile enough to act quickly once faced with unpredicted changes.

• Digitization / KI of all aspects of life will have an impact on how the Library develops and offers services and how we will interact with our customers.

• ETH Zurich will face significant budget cuts in the next (hopefully only few) years and ETH Library’s will receive fewer funds. While this is hurtful and will postpone many projects and plans, it also give ETH Library a chance to assess its services and make changes accordingly.

• On the upsites sharing services and commodities in larger networks can be a chance to offer services more efficiently (and at a lower cost). On the downside, however, ETH Library loses its autonomy to act quickly, adapt to changes and pull out of services if necessary.

ETH Library, Rafael Ball, 27 March 2023


64 Against the Grain / April 2023

Back Talk continued from page 66

they’ve developed is getting shaky. But that’s been true at least since the invention of nuclear weapons … or gunpowder. Excitement about technology and its risks is really excitement about human beings and their social and moral limitations. We have met the enemy, Pogo says, and he is us. Chatbots? Just let them curl up on your lap and cuddle, until you need to swat one on the nose with a newspaper when it makes a mess.

ChatGPT responds:

Postscript: I didn’t ask Alexa my question, but I did pose it to ChatGPT. The worst aspect of the result is that I asked for 1,000 words and only got 518. No student looking to cheat on a writing assignment is going to accept that kind of inadequate response! If you can bluff your way vacuously for 518 words, you can bluff your way for 1,000 — even a chatbot should know that. But which version do you like better?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionized the way we live, work, and communicate, and the field of writing is no exception. Today, AI technologies are being used to generate content for various purposes, including writing columns for publications like Against the Grain.

The impact of AI on writing columns for Against the Grain can be seen in several ways. First and foremost, AI has made it possible to generate high-quality content quickly and efficiently. With the help of sophisticated algorithms and machine learning models, AI tools can analyze vast amounts of data and generate insightful, engaging, and thought-provoking content in a matter of seconds.

For example, AI-powered writing tools like GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) can generate entire articles, including columns, based on a given topic or prompt. These tools use natural language processing (NLP) techniques to understand the context of the topic and create content that reads like it was written by a human. This technology has the potential to significantly reduce the time and effort required to write a column, enabling writers to focus on other tasks.

Moreover, AI can also help writers to generate ideas for their columns. AI-powered tools can analyze the topics and themes that are popular on social media, news websites, and other platforms, and provide writers with suggestions for topics that are likely to generate interest and engagement. This can be particularly useful for writers who are struggling to come up with fresh and interesting ideas for their columns.

However, despite the benefits of AI in writing, there are also concerns about the impact of AI on the quality and authenticity of written content. For example, some experts worry that AI-generated content may lack the creativity, nuance, and emotional depth that is characteristic of human writing. Additionally, there is a risk that AI-generated content could be used to spread misinformation and propaganda, as it may be difficult to distinguish between content written by humans and that generated by machines.

Furthermore, some writers may feel threatened by the rise of AI in writing, as they worry that machines could eventually replace them in the workplace. While it is true that AI-powered tools can generate content more quickly and efficiently than humans, it is important to note that machines are not capable of the same level of creativity, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking that humans possess. Therefore, while AI may be a useful tool for generating content, it is unlikely to replace human writers entirely.

In conclusion, AI has had a significant impact on the field of writing, including the creation of columns for publications like Against the Grain. While AI-powered tools can generate high-quality content quickly and efficiently, there are concerns about the impact of AI on the quality and authenticity of written content. As such, it is important for writers to be mindful of the potential benefits and drawbacks of AI in writing, and to use these tools in a responsible and ethical manner. Ultimately, the best approach is likely to be one that combines the strengths of AI and human writers, resulting in a more productive, efficient, and creative writing process.


65 Against the Grain / April 2023

Back Talk — We Have Met the Enemy

The deadline for Back Talk is here again and the thought occurs irresistibly: could I get ChatGPT to do it for me?

I have a lot of recurring obligations to produce a few paragraphs of thoughtful prose, so wouldn’t it be nice if I could muse aloud in my living room something like, “Alexa, write me a thousand words on the effect of artificial intelligence on writing columns for Against the Grain,” and call it a day? I have a lot of beanie baby friends who’d be glad to have more time to distract me.

We’re not there yet. The explosion in discussion of this topic has been fueled by the promotion and marketing surrounding ChatGPT, an LLM product whose ancestry and patronage includes Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and Microsoft — the company that specializes in cumbersome operating systems and super elaborate software that take decades to stabilize at a pretty mediocre level of performance. I’m not going to pay any attention to OpenAI’s business model and prospects: what will be, will be, and I wouldn’t bet against them, because in the world of technology systems, the mediocre may very well prevail. There’s always a good chance, of course, that they’ll get a lot of venture capital, burn through it, and go broke when they can’t find a way to make money on the deal. There’s always hope.

But what does this excitement tell us?

OK, in the first place, real progress in artificial intelligence has already happened and more will happen. I drive a thirtyone year old car that I bought because it had two then-new technologies that I thought could save my life, both of which were, in a primitive way, AI-powered. Anti-lock brakes can ingest larger quantities of data faster and more reliably than I can, can evaluate the data, and can then issue mechanical commands faster and more reliably than I can. Pretty good. Air bags are a little less smart — they ingest data and have one command to issue, which they do with an appreciable rate of false positive errors — but they can keep me alive too. We are all getting used to ways in which we’re letting machines do things they can do better than we can because they process data so well.

But the idea that a machine can do things with words as well as or better than we can — that’s a different story. I’m happy

to point to the skepticism of some very smart people — like Noam Chomsky in his essay in the New York Times “The False Promise of ChatGPT” (3/8/23) — who think that any credible prose from AI is a long way off, but I’m also aware that we’re likely in for a flood of verbal trash of very little value. (It’s really interesting to me that the scholarly journal business has taken the position that ChatGPT can’t be an ”author” because it is not able to take responsibility for what it has produced. That “take responsibility” category will get a lot of attention now — see, for example, the current investigation of research misconduct at Stanford University, whose written policy is that every name on an author line should be that of someone who is fully accountable for everything in the article.)

Here I have one thought of my own though. What I find interesting is the way in which we get our brains into a twist whenever we start comparing some other entity competitively to human beings — whether it’s computers or extraterrestrial beings or animals. Just a few weeks ago, I fell into a wonderful book by the late British philosopher Mary Midgley, Beast and Man: the Roots of Human Nature (London 1978). In that book, she takes apart — quite humorously — the way people talk about animals. We make two mistakes: we anthropomorphize them and we demonize them.

We make animals humanlike when we name them and talk to them (and think they understand English) and imagine that they have emotional lives like ours. We’ll even do that when talking about ants in a hive. But then we demonize them into wild ravening destructive antihuman creatures. The example that struck me was the shark. A shark is a modest creature, doing what he evolved to do, doing what it takes to stay alive and comfortable. This involves some violence towards other creatures and a non-vegan diet. But just how terrifying is a shark? Count up, Midgley suggests, the number of human beings attacked by sharks in a year and then look around to ask just what human beings do to sharks. Which one is really the wild animal? Are human beings really so special? We’re not only mostly non-vegan, but also our violence to other creatures includes, atrociously, our own kind.

I was ready to read Midgley, I think, because of the AI conversations going on around us. We anthropomorphize machines and we demonize them. They’re going to do all the same sorts of things we do, only better — and we’re afraid of the competition — but they’re mindless and destructive, and heaven help us if they achieve some kind of mental autonomy. The risk there, of course, is not the machines, but it’s the humans. Design a machine to use its very basic skills — processing lots and lots of 1s and 0s rapidly — to do destructive and hurtful things and you won’t like the results.

Now, I wouldn’t disagree for a minute if someone said that we are reaching the point where the ability of human beings as a species to control themselves in the use of the technologies

66 Against the Grain / April 2023 <> ADVERTISER’S INDEX FOR ADVERTISING INFORMATION CONTACT Toni Nix, Advertising Manger, Against the Grain, Charleston Hub <> • Phone: 843-835-8604 2 ACS Publications 68 Against the Grain 11 The Charleston Advisor 47 Charleston Briefings 25 Charleston Conference 2023 34 Charleston Conf. 2022 Videos 67 Coherent Digital 5 Cold Spring Harbor Lab Press 27 Emery-Pratt 15 INFORMS 3 Optica Publishing Group (formerly OSA) 9 OverDrive 7 Rittenhouse
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