Welcome back to a strange semester. While we can’t meet up together on campus, the Office of Scholarly Communication Services will continue to offer a full slate of online workshops to help students and early career researchers confidently steer their way through the waters of copyright and publishing. Here is what’s in store for the coming few months.
Publish Digital Books and Open Educational Resources with Pressbooks
September 15, 2020
If you’re looking to self-publish work of any length and want an easy-to-use tool that offers a high degree of customization, allows flexibility with publishing formats (EPUB, MOBI, PDF), and provides web-hosting options, Pressbooks may be great for you. Pressbooks is often the tool of choice for academics creating digital books, open textbooks, and open educational resources, since you can license your materials for reuse however you desire. Learn why and how to use Pressbooks for publishing your original books or course materials. You’ll leave the workshop with a project already under way! Signup at the link below and the Zoom login details will be emailed to you.
Copyright and Your Dissertation
October 19, 2020
This workshop will provide you with a practical guidance for navigating copyright questions and other legal considerations for your dissertation or thesis. Whether you’re just starting to write or you’re getting ready to file, you can use our tips and workflow to figure out what you can use, what rights you have as an author, and what it means to share your dissertation online.
Managing and Maximizing Your Scholarly Impact
October 20, 2020
This workshop will provide you with practical strategies and tips for promoting your scholarship, increasing your citations, and monitoring your success. You’ll also learn how to understand metrics, use scholarly networking tools, evaluate journals and publishing options, and take advantage of funding opportunities for Open Access scholarship.
From Dissertation to Book: Navigating the Publication Process
October 22, 2020
Hear from a panel of experts—an acquisitions editor, a first-time book author, and an author rights expert—about the process of turning your dissertation into a book. You’ll come away from this panel discussion with practical advice about revising your dissertation, writing a book proposal, approaching editors, signing your first contract, and navigating the peer review and publication process.
Copyright and Fair Use for Digital Projects
November 10, 2020
This training will help you navigate the copyright, fair use, and usage rights of including third-party content in your digital project. Whether you seek to embed video from other sources for analysis, post material you scanned from a visit to the archives, add images, upload documents, or more, understanding the basics of copyright and discovering a workflow for answering copyright-related digital scholarship questions will make you more confident in your publication. We will also provide an overview of your intellectual property rights as a creator and ways to license your own work.
We hosted a few workshops over the summer that might be of interest to you.
If you’re wondering what you can or can’t upload and distribute in your online courses, we’re here to help with answers and best practices. We will cover copyright, fair use, and contractual issues that emerge in online course design. The goal of the webinar is for attendees to gain a deeper understanding of the legal considerations in creating digital courses, and to feel more confident in their content design decisions to support student learning. This webinar is appropriate both for instructors and staff supporting online courses.
As part of the Digital Lifecycle Program, the UC Berkeley Library aims to digitize 200 million items from its special collections (rare books, manuscripts, photographs, archives, and ephemera) for the world to discover and use. But before we can digitize and publish them online for worldwide access, we have to sort out legal and ethical questions. We’ve created and released “responsible access workflows” that will benefit not only our Library’s digitization efforts, but also those of cultural heritage institutions such as museums, archives, and libraries throughout the nation.
In June, we welcomed 32 digital humanities (DH) researchers and professionals to the Building Legal Literacies for Text Data Mining (Building LLTDM) Institute. Our goal was to empower DH researchers, librarians, and professional staff to confidently navigate law, policy, ethics, and risk within digital humanities text data mining (TDM) projects—so they can more easily engage in this type of research and contribute to the further advancement of knowledge.
Other ways we can help
In addition to the workshops, we’re here to help answer a variety of questions you might have on intellectual property, digital publishing, and information policy.
- Check out our website for information on issues such as copyright and fair use, the scholarly publishing lifecycle and sharing research data, UC’s Open Access Policy.
- Interested in publishing your research Open Access? UCB Library can help defray the costs of an article processing charge (up to $2,500) or book processing charge (up to $10,000). See the Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII) for more information.
- Do you want to create an open digital textbook? Take a look at UC Berkeley’s Open Book Publishing platform (anyone with a @berkeley.edu email can signup for a free account), and get in touch with us about our Open Educational Resources (OER) grant program.
- Keep an eye on our events calendar for more workshops and trainings.
- Follow our blog and social media.
Want help or more information? Send us an email. We can provide individualized support and personal consultations, online class instruction, presentations and workshops for small or large groups & classes, and customized support and training for departments and disciplines.
This update is cross-posted from the Building LLTDM blog.
On June 23-26, we welcomed 32 digital humanities (DH) researchers and professionals to the Building Legal Literacies for Text Data Mining (Building LLTDM) Institute. Our goal was to empower DH researchers, librarians, and professional staff to confidently navigate law, policy, ethics, and risk within digital humanities text data mining (TDM) projects—so they can more easily engage in this type of research and contribute to the further advancement of knowledge. We were joined by a stellar group of faculty to teach and mentor participants. Building LLTDM is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Why was the Institute needed?
Until now, humanities researchers conducting text data mining in the U.S. have had to maneuver through a thicket of legal issues without much guidance or assistance. As an example, take a researcher scraping content about Egyptian artifacts from online sites or databases, or downloading videos about Egyptian tomb excavations, in order to conduct automated analysis about religion or philosophy. The researcher then shares these content-rich data sets with others to encourage research reproducibility or enable other researchers to query the data sets with new questions. This kind of work can raise issues of copyright, contract, and privacy law. It can also raise concerns around ethics, for example, if there are plausible risks of exploitation of people, natural or cultural resources, or indigenous knowledge.
Moving an interactive, design-thinking Institute online
After months of preparation, we had been looking forward to working and learning together at UC Berkeley, but the world had other plans for our Institute. Due to the global health crisis, we had to transform our planned in-person, intensive workshop into an interactive and relevant remote experience.
How did we do this? The pandemic meant we had to transition everything online, which of course presents challenges for a design-thinking framework. We are thrilled that our approach to interactive remote pedagogy was successful! (You can check out the schedule and framework in our Participant Packet.) The substantive content was pre-recorded and delivered in a flipped classroom model. Faculty created a series of short videos, and shared readings relevant to the legal literacies. We also provided the video transcripts and slides to participants to promote accessibility and accommodate multiple learning styles.
We used Zoom to meet synchronously for discussion in groups of various sizes. We used Slack for asynchronous communication, and interactive tools such as Mural for design thinking exercises like journey mapping so that everyone could live edit and collaborate. We capped each day with a “happy half hour” on Zoom as an informal way to get to know each other a little better, even from afar.
We also relied on an institute moderator and daily writing exercises to reinforce the design-thinking stages and learning outcomes. Each night, we reviewed the participants’ free-writes and began the next morning by reflecting back to the participants the themes from what they had shared.
Reflections on goals: social justice & effective empowerment
One of our priorities for the Institute was to invite a diverse pool of participants, including those involved in social justice research, in order to maximize the public value impact of Building LLTDM. We looked for demonstrated commitments to diversity and equity but could hardly have imagined the breadth and depth of experiences that applicants were willing to share. The selected participants research everything from understanding “place” data from community histories of historic African American settlements to the development of AIDS activist networks in communities of color; to portrayals of autism in literature; and more. Others demonstrated a commitment to bringing back the skills they learn to expand TDM opportunities for students and communities who have traditionally been marginalized or under-resourced. They also came from a variety of institution types, from research advising and support experience, professional roles, levels of experience with TDM, career stages, and disciplinary perspectives.
We are also moved by the participants’ own reflections on the experience. One of the last interactive exercises we hosted during the online Institute was a collective week-in-review discussion, and gratitude wall. We asked the participants to share what they were thankful for, highlighting other participants where possible. So many of the participants wrote about how valuable the learning experience was and how thoughtfully it was put together and delivered.
We can’t express the transformational impact of the week better than the participants, themselves. In Institute evaluation forms, they shared feelings like:
- “This is by far the best organized event that I have ever attended. The content was by far the most substantive. The faculty were by far the most engaged. A+ across the board.”
- “I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to engage with a diverse group of scholars (researchers and professionals)… The deliberately thought through breakdown and mix fostered incredibly valuable discussions and I would hope this kind of framework is used as a best practice for future DH institutes of all kinds going forward. Also, thank you for such an amazing virtual experience which I can only imagine took a tremendous amount of work to coordinate and plan with limited time to shift to an entirely different format–I was overjoyed to critically engage with complex subjects…”
- “This has been phenomenal. I don’t want to qualify it (by adding something like “…for having to be moved online”), because it’s been so, so good: well organized, thoughtful, and human throughout.”
- “There was clearly so much thought, care, and planning that went into the preparation of this institute, and it was an amazing opportunity to learn from a group of people — organizers, faculty, and participants — who all have such deep expertise. The video and readings lists alone are a huge resource, but to be able to process and reflect on that material together with a diverse group of people was really wonderful.”
Next steps, and our own gratitude
What’s next for Building LLTDM? The “Institute” is not over yet; only the 1-week training is complete. The cohort will be meeting again virtually in February 2021 to discuss how implementation of the literacies into our local communities and practices has gone. In the meantime, as the participants bring back the law and policy literacies they’ve learned to their home institutions, we are excited to see several cohort members already organizing their own post-Institute research subgroups, such as those whose TDM work relies heavily on social media content, and others who are exploring how to disseminate the Building LLTDM literacies within other instructional formats and frameworks.
As part of the grant, the project team will also be aggregating the resources from the Institute and developing supplementary material for an Open Educational Resource (OER). We know there is a large community of TDM researchers and professionals who may be interested in or who can benefit from these materials, and the OER will be made available for broad reuse in the public domain.
Thank you to all the participants for their insights and contributions, willingness to share, and flexibility in transitioning to a fully-remote Institute. Thank you to all the faculty for their unmatched legal and policy expertise, ongoing commitment to mentorship, and adaptability in content creation and delivery. And thank you again to the NEH for making such a meaningful experience possible.
On Friday, January 31, early career faculty, graduate students, librarians, and others joined us for Publish or Perish Reframed: Navigating the New Landscape of Scholarly Publishing. The event, hosted by the Office of Scholarly Communication Services, aimed to help everyone understand the behind-the-scenes workings of scholarly publishing, especially for the early career researchers and students interested in publishing.
Why are we concerned about the state of scholarly publishing? Things are looking rather sunny for UC authors, who publish nearly 10% of all scholarly literature in the United States. However, there are actually a lot of tensions in the scholarly publishing ecosystem today, and the landscape can be confusing or murky. One of the tensions has to do with access to research, as 85% of journal articles being published each year are still stuck behind paywalls, thus slowing scientific discovery because only people who have subscriptions can access and read it. Subscription prices of commercial scholarly journals continue to increase, while university library collections budgets continue to shrink–further constricting access to knowledge. Another challenge is ongoing publishing expectations: PhD students, post-docs, and young faculty are under ongoing pressure to publish in the most prestigious journals available in order to receive promotion and tenure, even though many of these publishing venues continue to be the most closed and expensive to which libraries subscribe.
The publishing lifecycle, stakeholder power, and library budgets
Rachael Samberg and Timothy Vollmer from the Office of Scholarly Communication Services kicked off the event by taking a closer look at the publishing lifecycle today. While this process can vary somewhat based on the nature of the research, there are some common aspects, such as (1) reading the works of others and then forming your own research, (2) creating a new knowledge product such as a written article, (3) submitting that work to a publisher which coordinates a peer review process, (4) publishing the work in a scholarly journal, (5) distributing the work via library subscriptions or open access, and (6) preserving the work.
The publishing lifecycle involves many different players, and power is not distributed equally amongst these various participants. For instance:
- The reading public or scholars at other institutions have an interest in reading the outputs of scholarship, but little power in demanding how it’s made available. They can’t vote with their feet and decide not to read a journal article they need for their research, the way you could with a car that was too expensive, and for which an equivalent car might be available from another manufacturer for less.
- The author has an interest in producing good quality work, but is in some ways beholden to needing it to be selected by reputable journals to build reputation and achieve career advancement.
- Universities are interested in recruiting and retaining high profile scholars and students—and also grants and donor funds—and the reception of scholarship created at the institutions affect their ability to do this. The more prestigious the publications, the better this reflects on the universities, so there is some pressure universities can exert over authors about the journals in which their authors should publish.
- Funders like federal agencies and philanthropic foundations want the research they support to make a societal and global impact, and are therefore interested in how that research is disseminated. Funders can require dissemination of work product, but they can’t necessarily interfere with academic freedom about where to publish.
- Libraries want to purchase or license access to the content to provide it to the readers at their universities or institutions. But they’re not the ones creating the content as a way to try to control costs, and further if they refuse to purchase or license content, their authors and universities will be affected
- Scholarly societies are interested in putting out high quality scholarship, but they may also wish to generate enough money to fund not only their publishing efforts but also other society operations like conferences or education—so this limits how “low they can go,” so to speak in terms of the price point for what they publish.
- Most of the market power—at least on the surface—lies with large third party commercial publishers, who stand poised to generate substantial profits in exchange for the opportunity to publish in or read their valued journals.
Many institutions aren’t lucky enough to have the millions of dollars needed to spend on getting subscriptions to high priced journal content. And if they don’t have that money and can’t subscribe, then the people affiliated with that institution can’t read the latest scholarship. In turn, if the institution’s scholars don’t have access to it, then their ability to use it to help them come up with new ideas and insights in their own scholarship is severely limited. So, scientific progress is hampered.
Open access publishing approaches
In order to understand how any stakeholders can encourage an open outcome, we’ve first got to understand what types of open access financial strategies exist. How is OA funded? If we replace the subscription system with OA end products, why would publishers stay in the game? If publishers are going to invest time and effort in publishing, how do they recover costs in an OA universe?
Before we dive into OA funding approaches, one important thing to keep in mind is that publishing a scholarly article or book open access does not mean foregoing peer review or any of the other stringent editorial processes that ensure high quality scholarship. In fact, peer review can be even carried out in more cost effective ways for OA journals. At its core, open access is just an outcome: Scholarship is published online in a way that can be read and used by anyone, and without any financial, legal, or technical barriers other than gaining access to the Internet, itself.
Okay, so on to who gets paid and how. One approach to achieving OA is “green open access.” This “flavor” of OA means that authors or institutions make works that would otherwise only be available via a subscription freely available by depositing certain versions of their scholarship into online repositories, typically institutional repositories run by a researcher’s university (like the UC’s eScholarship), or even a funder repository like the NIH’s PubMed Central.
The version that can be deposited depends in part on the specific terms of the publication agreement the author signs with the publisher. You might be wondering, why on earth does it matter what publication agreement says? Well, in exchange for the publisher agreeing to publish a journal article—they often demand that authors relinquish some or all relevant rights to share or reuse the work. So, in order to publish in most commercial journals, the author must transfer their copyright to the journal. And unless their publication agreement reserves certain rights for the author, the copyright transfer means the author will no longer retain the necessary rights to publicly share the final article—even on their own course website or institutional repository.
So, if authors assign all their rights to publishers, why are they permitted to deposit certain versions of their work in a repository? There are two reasons. First, many publishers’ agreements now provide authors with permission to self archive what’s called the “post-print”— the final peer-reviewed article but that lacks the publisher’s final copy-editing and formatting. Second, institutional OA policies preemptively secure the rights for universities to host works notwithstanding the language of author publication agreements. These policies can attach to articles before an author ever signs a publication agreement.
This is what the UC’s Open Access Policy does. As a UC author, you have a right to deposit your post-print of your article into UC’s institutional repository called eScholarship at the time of publication. The UC takes a license to display the peer-reviewed version of your work, such that any publication agreement you later sign is subject to the UC’s pre-existing right..
There’s also “gold open access.” Gold OA means that what the publisher puts out online on its website—immediately upon publication of the article, whether in print or online—is free access to the final, publisher-version of the article. Typically these articles are shared under a Creative Commons license. Some gold OA publishers recoup production costs via charges for authors to publish (“article processing charges” or “book processing charges”) rather than having readers (or libraries) pay to access and read it. In general, gold OA is a system in which the author pays, rather than the reader paying. At the same time, the fees to be paid for publishing don’t actually have to be paid by the author. They can be covered by various sources, such as: research accounts, research grants, the university, the monies the libraries previously were spending on subscriptions to that journal, scholarly societies, and consortia. (Read on for the program the UC Berkeley Library runs to cover these fees.)
There’s also a type of gold open access that does not involve APCs. Here, the publisher provides permanent and free access to readers with neither author fees nor reader fees. Typically a society, organization, government, or endowment would be necessary to cover the cost of publication.
Empowering universities and authors
We explored what UC Berkeley is doing to leverage these open access models to make scholarship more available. The UC is pursuing a wide array of strategies to improve access to research, including many outlined in the Pathways to Open Access toolkit. To be sure, UC authors have been publishing their articles open access for years, and UC was one of the early institutions with a post-print, green open access policy. But Pathways to Open Access analyzed a panoply of additional funding strategies, and made recommendations for a plurality of approaches.
One example of a new strategy being pursued is negotiating transformative agreements. These types of arrangements have been supported by the UC systemwide faculty senate library committee, who pushed ahead the goal of replacing subscription-based publishing with open access by releasing a declaration of rights and principles to transform scholarly communication. These principles are now guiding the UC libraries in pursuing transformative publishing agreements.
The UC’s goal with transformative agreements is to both changing subscription agreements into agreements that enable open access publishing, and also reduce how much we are spending on the publishing enterprise to begin with. It’s important to emphasize that transformative agreements are just one of the ways the UC campuses and the UC Berkeley library are pursuing open access.
The University of California has been exploring different types of flexible models for transformative agreements. For instance, the agreement the UC has pursued with Cambridge University Press is a multi-payer model, where both libraries and authors (if they have grant funds) contribute to the open access publishing fee.
From the author’s perspective, the Cambridge transformative workflow attempts to minimize intrusion into the publishing process, while still working to incorporate authors into the payment process in some form so they understand the costs of publishing in a new landscape. Authors still choose their journal, submit their manuscript to the journal, and pass through the peer review process as normal; we’re not asking them to change how they do any of those things, especially how they select a journal. Once a manuscript is accepted by a journal with a publisher with whom we have a transformative agreement, then the author is asked to choose whether to publish open access or to opt out of the agreement and publish closed access. Of course, the Library prefers for authors to publish open access, and our intention is to make that the default option, but we don’t require this.
Assuming an author chooses to publish open access, they will be asked to coordinate payment of an APC. In general, this APC is discounted from the list price that the publisher may currently be charging. The library commits to paying a portion of every open access fee. We then ask the author whether they have research funding available which may be used to pay for publication. If they do, then the author pays the remainder of the OA fee. If they do not have research funding available for this purpose, then the library pays the remainder of the fee on the author’s behalf. In this way, authors engage with the payment process, and they contribute a portion of the cost if they have funding available to do so. However, authors without research funding are not disadvantaged, and we never ask an author to reach into their own pockets to make a payment.
Even if the UC hasn’t entered into a transformative agreement with a publisher, there are many other opportunities for authors to get involved in impactful OA decision-making. We discussed that one thing UC Berkeley authors can do right now is to take part in the existing UC open access publishing mechanisms, such as by depositing post-prints in eScholarship an. We also mentioned the UC Berkeley Library program called the Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII) that covers up to $2500 of an APC an author is charged for publishing in a fully open access journal.
Another way authors can empower themselves as scholars is by retaining various rights in the publishing process. Making smart decisions about copyright can help scholarly authors maximize the impact of their research by promoting greater readership and reuse . In most cases, the author of an article is the copyright holder, and authors maintain their copyright to the scholarship until they transfer all or certain rights to a publisher. Now, the publisher might ask for a full transfer of copyright. But as an author you don’t necessarily have to just sign the agreement a publisher presents to you. You can ask for an alternative wording, and sometimes they immediately just send you their alternate agreement with that change already baked in. Some publishers take a different approach through which authors keep their copyright and instead agree to share their work under an open license. For example, copyright in all Public Library of Science articles stays with the authors, but the authors agree to share the work under an open license, in this case the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license. This license permits unrestricted use and sharing provided the original author and source are credited. In the end, authors have choices to make, both in managing their rights through the author agreement, or even pursuing full open access journals that leverage open licensing.
Challenges in Publishing for Promotion and Tenure
Benjamin Hermalin, Vice Provost for the Faculty, discussed some of the tensions within scholarly publishing as they relate to promotion and tenure, and provided some advice to new authors in making their way through the publication process. While the Office of the Vice Chancellor for the Faculty reviews all outside letters in each tenure and promotion submission, he said there’s still some conservatism in how tenure and review committees assess a scholar’s publishing outputs and impact. Hermalin advised young researchers to take a measured approach by understanding the particular requirements and publishing practices for their specific field, and aim for publishing several publications in high quality journals relevant to their area.
Of course, the question keeps coming up: How does a researcher get published in the top journals? No one knows the complete answer to this, but authors need to be systematic, and diligent. Hermalin advocated that it’s more important to work toward becoming a major contributor to one or two areas than to be a minor contributor to several fields of research.
Hermalin also talked about some of the challenges researchers face in determining when to publish. He noted that while an author shouldn’t send something out before they’re ready, they also shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good: getting the research off your desk in a timely fashion is best for your academic profile and chances for tenure down the road. He also suggested that authors not split their scholarly output too thinly: it’s better to publish a few substantial, in-depth papers on a particular topic than several separate publications that individually cover too little of the research endeavor.
Open publishing: A View from the Faculty
Philip Stark, Professor of Statistics and Associate Dean of the Division of Math and Physical Sciences, provided an on-the-ground perspective of open science, OA publishing, and how he deals with copyright and publishing contracts with commercial publishers. Stark showed several examples of how he marks up publishing agreements since he no longer gives any publisher an exclusive right to publish. He also showed how to strike language and amend it to retain copyright and other publishing rights, and said in his experience, most publishers have accepted these changes.
Professor Stark discussed one paper that he published open access through help from BRII. The paper analyzed gender bias in student evaluations, and Stark and his co-authors wanted it to be open access. But Philip was concerned that if they published it in an open access publication, his co-authors—who were a junior faculty and PhD student at the time—might not get as much recognition or impact from the paper than if they were to shoot for publishing in one of journals considered to be “high impact” under certain standards.j. However, the initial fears about publishing on ScienceOpen were unfounded, as the paper has since been widely accessed, cited, and freely downloaded over 70,000 times. Stark said he earned a much bigger impact publishing open access there than if it’d been published in a commercial journal.
Finally, Professor Stark discussed academic freedom in relation to faculty publishing choices. While many think the concept of academic freedom means that researchers are privileged with the ability to work on what they find interesting and important without outside pressure from the university administration, the reality is that faculty—especially early career researchers—are under ongoing pressure to publish in journals that will secure them tenure, or to obtain grants to support their (or their students’) research. In this sense, faculty publishing decisions are driven more by economic forces than the principle of academic freedom. Stark said that this temptation to publish in the most prestigious journal to advance your career is a persistent moral hazard because it challenges the more noble perceptions we have about academic pursuits and how the work of academics benefits science, and the public interest.
Certainly, no one had all the answers for simplifying the complexities of scholarly publishing, but by understanding the driving forces and power dynamics, early career authors can make informed choices that will carry their scholarship far both in impact and in their professional advancement.
University of California authors published about 50,000 scholarly articles last year alone—comprising nearly 10% of all research in the United States. Despite this tremendous productivity, UC scholars continue to experience a tension between publishing their research in ways that ensure readership or access, and perceptions about the effect of certain outlets and publishing choices on their research impact or career advancement.
Friday, January 31, 2020
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
In this panel, we’ll unpack the landscape of modern scholarly publishing by exploring economics and stakeholder power structures, and what the University of California is doing to address these issues through recent publisher negotiations.
We will also learn from publishing experts about how to maximize research dissemination, access, and impact through the decisions we make about open access, copyright transfer, and publication choices. Faculty will share publishing advice and guidance for early career researchers as they navigate their academic careers. They will also discuss how tenure and promotion practices are being adjusted to better reflect diversity in publishing outputs and venues. There will be a Q&A session at the end of the discussion.
Speakers will include:
- Benjamin Hermalin, Vice Provost for the Faculty; Professor of Finance and Professor of Economics, UC Berkeley
- Philip B. Stark, Professor of Statistics, Associate Dean, Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Regional Associate Dean (Interim), College of Chemistry and Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, UC Berkeley
- Rachael Samberg, Scholarly Communication Officer, UC Berkeley Library
- Timothy Vollmer, Scholarly Communication & Copyright Librarian, UC Berkeley Library
RSVP to join us for this timely conversation on current scholarly publishing issues.
We’re more than a month into the fall semester, and if you’re a graduate student or postdoc you’ve probably been thinking about some of the milestones on your horizon, from filing your thesis or dissertation to pitching your first book project or looking for a job.
While we can’t write your dissertation or submit your job application for you, the Library can help in other ways! We are collaborating with GradPro to offer a series of professional development workshops for grad students, postdocs, and other early career scholars to guide you through important decisions and tasks in the research and publishing process, from preparing your dissertation to building a global audience for your work.
- October 22: Copyright and Your Dissertation
- October 23: From Dissertation to Book: Navigating the Publication Process
- October 25: Managing and Maximizing Your Scholarly Impact
These sessions are focused on helping early career researchers develop real-world scholarly publishing skills and apply this expertise to a more open, networked, and interdisciplinary publishing environment.
These workshops are also taking place during Open Access Week 2019, an annual global effort to bring attention to Open Access around the world and highlight how the free, immediate, online availability of scholarship can remove barriers to information, support emerging scholarship, and foster the spread of knowledge and innovation.
Below is the list of next week’s workshop offerings. Join us for one workshop or all three! Each session will take place at the Graduate Professional Development Center, 309 Sproul Hall. Please RSVP at the links below.
Light refreshments will be served at all workshops.
If you have any questions about these workshops, please get in touch with email@example.com. And if you can’t make it to a workshop but still need help with your publishing, we are always here for you!
Workshop | October 22 | 1-2:30 p.m. | 309 Sproul Hall
This workshop will provide you with a practical workflow for navigating copyright questions and legal considerations for your dissertation or thesis. Whether you’re just starting to write or you’re getting ready to file, you can use this workflow to figure out what you can use, what rights you have, and what it means to share your dissertation online.
Panel Discussion | October 23 | 3-4:30 p.m. | 309 Sproul Hall
Hear from a panel of experts – an acquisitions editor, a first-time book author, and an author rights expert – about the process of turning your dissertation into a book. You’ll come away from this panel discussion with practical advice about revising your dissertation, writing a book proposal, approaching editors, signing your first contract, and navigating the peer review and publication process.
Workshop | October 25 | 1-2:30 p.m. | 309 Sproul Hall
This workshop will provide you with practical strategies and tips for promoting your scholarship, increasing your citations, and monitoring your success. You’ll also learn how to understand metrics, use scholarly networking tools, evaluate journals and publishing options, and take advantage of funding opportunities for Open Access scholarship.
The UC Berkeley community creates a vast array of knowledge and educational content, including thousands of journal articles, books, data sets, and other scholarly projects each year. UC Berkeley authors, like those throughout the University of California campuses, take to heart the university’s public research mission, and aim to make these materials broadly available, not just to researchers and students here, but to anyone around the world. The push for improved access to the research record is what led to the adoption of UC’s two open access policies, which help ensure that journal articles authored by UC Berkeley scholars can be made available to the public for free, without any financial, legal, or technical barriers to readership other than gaining access to the Internet, itself.
Headway with open access journal articles
Within the publishing enterprise, the creation of journal articles is a foundational activity for many faculty, as the UC conducts nearly ten percent of the academic research and development activity in the United States. So, it is not surprising that for authors writing journal articles, there are a variety of ways to make their research open access. For instance, UC’s open access policies guarantee that UC authors can deposit their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts into eScholarship, our institutional repository, where the articles may be read by anyone for free.
Another way the UC has been furthering open access is by negotiating transformative agreements with scholarly journal publishers (like the one with Cambridge University Press). These new arrangements repurpose the funds the library typically spends on subscriptions to instead subsidize publication costs—over timing shifting the bulk of payments to cover publishing rather than access to content, as more and more of that content becomes free to read.
Other local programs, such as the Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII), provide funding to help UC Berkeley authors pay for article processing charges that are sometimes required to publish in fully open access journals. (These up-front fees serve to replace revenue the publisher would have generated through library subscriptions.) In 2018-2019 the Library was able to defray the article processing charges for more than fifty UC Berkeley authors looking to publish in fully open access journals.
Ensuring books don’t get left behind
But for some disciplines, the scientific journal takes a back seat to other types of outputs such as scholarly monographs (a fancy term for books). In areas such as the arts, humanities, and social sciences, communicating knowledge through book form is just as common, and just as relevant, to scholarship.
Significantly, the audience for monographs is not just other faculty: Monographs form a key component of what gets assigned for student reading in university classrooms. Assigning open textbooks instead of commercial offerings can be a big help to students’ bank accounts. Some college textbooks cost over $200, and prices have risen 88% in the last decade. Rice University’s OpenStax has produced dozens of open textbooks, and recently reported that in 2019 alone, nearly 3 million students will save an estimated $233 million by using its open textbooks. The benefits of open access textbooks extend beyond just cost savings for students, though. When books are made available under open licenses that permit broad reuse, instructors may continually build upon, improve, and re-share these educational materials. And authors can communicate with diverse audiences and begin to address inequities in access to knowledge, as translations or localized and contextualized versions can be developed and used.
There’s no discrepancy in the overall quality or effectiveness of open textbooks versus traditional ones. A recent study confirmed previous research showing that students learn just as well from open textbooks as with commercial texts. Likewise, university presses follow the same peer review and editorial processes for the online versions of monographs as they do for the print versions. The only change, and benefit, is that the final text is available for free to read.
So, it is clear that we have an imperative when it comes to open access books: How can we work to open up long-form scholarship to the world to mirror the strides we are making with journal articles?
Publishing books under open access terms is increasingly common, but still somewhat slow to tip the balance relative to book publishing overall. A recent report on the state of open access monographs found that there are around 19,000 open access books in total, even though approximately 86,000 scholarly monographs are published internationally every year. Part of the impediment for publishers is navigating how to recover their investment for the production of open access books, and the concern for libraries rests in how to sustain the publishers that take on these projects. This is because monographs are typically more complex and costly to produce than a journal article. A journal publisher might ask for an article processing charge of between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to make up for what it would have received in subscription sales. But publishers estimate that producing monographs costs them anywhere between $28,000 and $40,000 in production and marketing costs that they believe they can’t recoup without print sales.
The good news is that some emerging funding models are helping to bridge the cost recovery gap— including work by groups such as the Open Humanities Press, Knowledge Unlatched, and TOME. The University of California Press also supports the creation of open access books, too, through its Luminos initiative. In these and other models, production costs can be outsourced, and there are multiple funding streams (including fairly large subsidies from universities and libraries) that can offset some of the publisher investment. Some university presses are also finding that offering online versions of books actually drive up sales for print-on-demand copies. So, it shows we still have a lot to learn about actual costs and cost recovery with open access books.
UC Berkeley has got your open access book covered
For all of these reasons, the UC Berkeley Library is committed to supporting the creation of open access monographs. In 2017 the Library expanded the BRII program so that Berkeley authors could publish scholarly books open access at zero or substantially reduced costs—making these books free and accessible to readers here at Berkeley, and everywhere.
In just two years, we have now supported more than a dozen authors in the creation of open access books, with everything from copyright guidance to publishing platforms to funding. (You can read more about some of these efforts here.) And through BRII, we have already funded the publication of three UC Berkeley authored or edited open access monographs hitting the digital shelves now (or soon). These books are available for free online under a Creative Commons license (which allows a variety of reuses), and typically offer multiple formats for reading on various mobile devices. Readers that still wish to enjoy the book on paper can do that as usually there’s also a print copy available for purchase, or more affordable print-on-demand options.
We are thrilled to be able to support such cutting-edge and important UC Berkeley scholarship. For instance, #identity: Hashtagging Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Nation, recently published by the University of Michigan Press, was edited by UC Berkeley’s Abigail De Kosnik (Associate Professor in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance, and Director of the Berkeley Center for New Media) and Keith Feldman (Associate Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies). #identity is made available for free in EPUB and PDF formats under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) license, or for purchase on the University of Michigan Press website.
The book contains essays from scholars affiliated with UC Berkeley’s Color of New Media collective, and explores social media through the lens of social justice movement organizing, the adoption of hashtags in online communications, and the “ways in which Twitter has been used by, for, and against women, people of color, LGBTQ, and Global South communities.” Feldman describes the book as attempting to address foundational questions such as: “Is the field of new media studies presumptively white? What do scholars of color and communities of color think about the field, and what kinds of interventions can be made along the way?”
Even though the idea to publish #identity as an open access book came midway through the publication process, all the authors thought that opening the book for free access and download was a positive move. Keith mentioned that as most of the essay contributors were graduate students or postdocs, it gave them an opportunity to share their work quickly and effectively, and start building their scholarly reputation.
What Is a Family? Answers from Early Modern Japan was published just this week on the UC Press’ Luminos platform. It was authored by Mary Elizabeth Berry (Class of 1944 Professor of History Emerita at UC Berkeley) and Marcia Yonemoto (Professor of History at the University of Colorado Boulder). What Is a Family is made available for free in EPUB, MOBI, and PDF formats under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (CC BY-NC-ND) license, or for purchase on the Luminos website.
Finally, Archive Feelings: A Theory of Greek Tragedy will be published in 2020 by Ohio State University Press. It was written by Mario Telò, Professor of Classics at UC Berkeley, and will be open access upon publication.
Creating open textbooks with Pressbooks
Another way we’re supporting open access textbooks is through the UC Berkeley Open Book Publishing Platform. The platform runs on PressbooksEDU, an easy-to-use web publishing tool that lets authors design and publish books and open educational resources (OERs) online. Anyone with an active @berkeley.edu email can use this digital publishing software for free. Our office worked with UC Berkeley faculty during the 2017-2018 affordable course content pilot program to explore how instructors could shift from using traditional textbooks to using (or creating) open textbooks. We estimated that switching to open educational resources could save students more than $100 per course.
With grant funding, copyright, and publishing support from our office as part of our OER program, John Wallace, lecturer in the Japanese Department at UC Berkeley, was able to write and recently publish his new book, Interpreting Love Narratives in East Asian Literature and Film. It’s available as a PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats, and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) license.
Interpreting Love Narratives was, for John, an exercise in writing a book in a new way. He noted that many small traditional presses in the language fields are quite narrow in the form, length, and substance of monographs they will consider taking on. However, with the PressbooksEDU publishing format, John was able to find the freedom to write and organize a book to meet his own needs. One benefit to digital production and editing is that since contemporary fields like neuroscience are changing so fast, his book can be easily updated. “It’s liberated me to make statements based on scientific developments that at least I could do something about if the ship turned in a different direction,” said Wallace.
Improving affordability to student textbooks is a major reason John took on writing an open access book. In his Japanese grammar class, the books typically assigned to students cost anywhere from $50 to even $100. “I can’t do it. These students don’t have a lot of money,” he said. “So instead, I’m going to put together my own materials.”
Wallace sees a bright future for open access books. He thinks that open and online is going to be the primary format for how people are publishing things. “I can’t imagine given the costs and the process of the traditional system against the alacrity and agility and distribution power of open…I don’t see how it can’t be the winner in the long run.”
If you’re considering publishing an open access book and are seeking funding and guidance, or are an instructor looking to get involved in creating or adopting an open educational resource, please get in touch! Also, if you’re interested in learning how to use Pressbooks, check out the workshop on October 15. We are here to help bring your work to the widest possible audiences.
It’s that time of year again. Students are back on campus, classes are in session, and the Library’s Office of Scholarly Communication Services is here to help everyone hit the ground running with resources and workshops on digital publishing, copyright, and open access to research.
As usual, there’s a lot going on!
On September 25 we’re hosting a workshop on Copyright and Fair Use in Digital Projects. With pretty much everyone being a digital creator these days, the training will help you navigate copyright, fair use, and other rights related to including third-party content in your digital project. We’ll also provide an overview of what your intellectual property rights are as a creator and ways to license and share your own work too.
We’re happy to again present a series of publishing workshops to guide graduate students and postdocs on a variety of copyright, publishing, and scholarly impact issues. On October 22 we’ll be talking about copyright questions and legal considerations for your dissertation or thesis. October 23 we’re hosting a panel discussion on how to navigate the publication process from dissertation to first book. The event will include discussion from a university press acquisitions editor, a first-time book author, and an author rights expert. And October 25 we’re wrapping up the week with a workshop that will provide participants with practical strategies and tips for promoting your scholarship, increasing citations, and understanding scholarly reach and metrics.
There are lots of ways the Office of Scholarly Communication Services is here to help faculty, students, and staff. A quick rundown:
- Check out our website which has helpful information on a variety of topics, including copyright and fair use, the scholarly publishing lifecycle and sharing research data, UC’s Open Access Policy and OA funding opportunities, and much more.
- Interested in creating an open digital textbook? Take a look at UC Berkeley’s Open Book Publishing platform (anyone with a Berkeley email can signup for a free account), and get in touch with us about our Open Educational Resources (OER) grant program.
- Keep an eye on our events calendar for more workshops and trainings.
- Follow our blog and social media.
Want help or more information? Send us an email. We can provide individualized support and personal consultations, in-class and online instruction, presentations and workshops for small or large groups & classes, and customized support and training for departments and disciplines.
We are thrilled to share that the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded a $165,000 grant to a UC Berkeley-led team of legal experts, librarians, and scholars who will help humanities researchers and staff navigate complex legal questions in cutting-edge digital research.
What is this grant all about?
If you were to crack open some popular English-language novels written in the 1850’s–say, ones from Brontë, Hawthorne, Dickens, and Melville–you would find they describe men and women in very different terms. While a male character might be said to “get” something, a female character is more likely to have “felt” it. Whereas the word “mind” might be used when describing a man, the word “heart” is more likely to be used about a woman. Yet, as the 19th Century became the 20th, these descriptive differences between genders actually diminish. How do we know all this? We confess we have not actually read every novel ever written between the 19th and 21st Centuries (though we’d love to envision a world in which we could). Instead, we can make this assertion because researchers (including David Bamman, of UC Berkeley’s School of Information) used automated techniques to extract information from the novels, and analyzed these word usage trends at scale. They crafted algorithms to turn the language of those novels into data about the novels.
In fields of inquiry like the digital humanities, the application of such automated techniques and methods for identifying, extracting, and analyzing patterns, trends, and relationships across large volumes of unstructured or thinly-structured digital content is called “text data mining.” (You may also see it referred to as “text and data mining” or “computational text analysis”). Text data mining provides humanists and social scientists with invaluable frameworks for sifting, organizing, and analyzing vast amounts of material. For instance, these methods make it possible to:
- Detect racial disparity by evaluating language from police body camera footage;
- Develop new tools to enable large-scale analysis of television series and photographs; and
- Capture and design new physical representations of naturally occurring laughter
Until now, humanities researchers conducting text data mining have had to navigate a thicket of legal issues without much guidance or assistance. For instance, imagine the researchers needed to scrape content about Egyptian artifacts from online sites or databases, or download videos about Egyptian tomb excavations, in order to conduct their automated analysis. And then imagine the researchers also want to share these content-rich data sets with others to encourage research reproducibility or enable other researchers to query the data sets with new questions. This kind of work can raise issues of copyright, contract, and privacy law, not to mention ethics if there are issues of, say, indigenous knowledge or cultural heritage materials plausibly at risk. Indeed, in a recent study of humanities scholars’ text analysis needs, participants noted that access to and use of copyright-protected texts was a “frequent obstacle” in their ability to select appropriate texts for text data mining.
The good news is that the NEH has agreed to support an Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities to help key stakeholders to learn to better navigate legal issues in text data mining. Thanks to the NEH’s $165,000 grant, Rachael Samberg of UC Berkeley Library’s Office of Scholarly Communication Services will be leading a national team (identified below) from more than a dozen institutions and organizations to teach humanities researchers, librarians, and research staff how to confidently navigate the major legal issues that arise in text data mining research.
Our institute is aptly called Building Legal Literacies for Text Data Mining (Building LLTDM), and will run from June 23-26, 2020 in Berkeley, California. Institute instructors are legal experts, humanities scholars, and librarians immersed in text data mining research services, who will co-lead experiential meeting sessions empowering participants to put the curriculum’s concepts into action.
In October, we will issue a call for participants, who will receive stipends to support their attendance. We will also be publishing all of our training materials in an openly-available online book for researchers and librarians around the globe to help build academic communities that extend these skills.
Building LLTDM team member Matthew Sag, a law professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and leading expert on copyright issues in the digital humanities, said he is “excited to have the chance to help the next generation of text data mining researchers open up new horizons in knowledge discovery. We have learned so much in the past ten years working on HathiTrust [a text-minable digital library] and related issues. I’m looking forward to sharing that knowledge and learning from others in the text data mining community.”
Team member Brandon Butler, a copyright lawyer and library policy expert at the University of Virginia, said, “In my experience there’s a lot of interest in these research methods among graduate students and early-career scholars, a population that may not feel empowered to engage in “risky” research. I’ve also seen that digital humanities practitioners have a strong commitment to equity, and they are working to build technical literacies outside the walls of elite institutions. Building legal literacies helps ease the burden of uncertainty and smooth the way toward wider, more equitable engagement with these research methods.”
Kyle K. Courtney of Harvard University serves as Copyright Advisor at Harvard Library’s Office for Scholarly Communication, and is also a Building LLTDM team member. Courtney added, “We are seeing more and more questions from scholars of all disciplines around these text data mining issues. The wealth of full-text online materials and new research tools provide scholars the opportunity to analyze large sets of data, but they also bring new challenges having to do with the use and sharing not only of the data but also of the technological tools researchers develop to study them. I am excited to join the Building LLTDM team and help clarify these issues and empower humanities scholars and librarians working in this field.”
Megan Senseney, Head of the Office of Digital Innovation and Stewardship at the University of Arizona Libraries reflected on the opportunities for ongoing library engagement that extends beyond the initial institute. Senseney said that, “Establishing a shared understanding of the legal landscape for TDM is vital to supporting research in the digital humanities and developing a new suite of library services in digital scholarship. I’m honored to work and learn alongside a team of legal experts, librarians, and researchers to create this institute, and I look forward to integrating these materials into instruction and outreach initiatives at our respective universities.”
The Building LLTDM team is excited to begin supporting humanities researchers, staff, and librarians en route to important knowledge creation. Stay tuned if you are interested in participating in the institute.
In the meantime, please join us in congratulating all the members of the project team:
- Rachael G. Samberg (University of California, Berkeley) (Project Director)
- Scott Althaus (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
- David Bamman (University of California, Berkeley)
- Sara Benson (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
- Brandon Butler (University of Virginia)
- Beth Cate (Indiana University, Bloomington)
- Kyle K. Courtney (Harvard University)
- Maria Gould (California Digital Library)
- Cody Hennesy (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities)
- Eleanor Koehl (University of Michigan)
- Thomas Padilla (University of Nevada, Las Vegas; OCLC Research)
- Stacy Reardon (University of California, Berkeley)
- Matthew Sag (Loyola University Chicago)
- Brianna Schofield (Authors Alliance)
- Megan Senseney (University of Arizona)
- Glen Worthey (Stanford University)
On October 16-17, 2018, University of California (UC) libraries hosted a working forum in Berkeley, California, called Choosing Pathways to Open Access (CP2OA). Sponsored by the University of California’s Council of University Librarians (CoUL), the forum was designed to enable North American library and consortium leaders and key academic stakeholders to engage in action-focused deliberations about redirecting subscription and other funds toward sustainable open access (OA) publishing.
More than 120 participants arrived from more than 80 institutions, nearly 30 states, and four Canadian provinces. The goal was for everyone to leave with their own customized plans for how they will repurpose subscription spends within their home organizations or communities—and more broadly, through collective efforts, move the OA needle forward.
CP2OA was admittedly a gamble: Could library stakeholders spend two days immersed in a design thinking process, wrestling with the nitty-gritty of numerous OA funding strategies, then depart with actionable steps for making OA a reality? When CoUL approved the forum, they charged the Planning Committee (that’s us) not only with putting the forum together, but also with reporting back to them about whether this grand experiment worked. We have followed up with participants and analyzed the data, and the results are clear: Through CP2OA, the UC libraries have helped to inspire meaningful change.
With that, we hereby announce our Planning Committee’s report to CoUL analyzing forum outcomes. To keep CP2OA momentum going, our report also synthesizes forum outcomes into recommendations for further collective action by CoUL to advance OA. The report’s recommendations reflect our personal opinions as Planning Committee members, and are not an official statement by CoUL, nor should publication of this report be seen as CoUL’s endorsement of our recommendations. We are thrilled that CoUL will be considering our recommendations at its upcoming June meeting, and further note that some of our recommendations reflect efforts already underway within various UC libraries.
We encourage you to check out the full report to see why the format of CP2OA was so successful, and to learn more about everything it inspired. We also understand you may just want the highlights, so … without further ado:
CP2OA Forum Outcomes
Two months after the forum, we surveyed participants about their perceptions of the forum, and any actions they had taken as a result of having participated. Our survey response rate was approximately 48% (58 responses), and revealed the following:
- Perceptions of the forum were almost universally positive, with some participants describing the forum as “exceptional,” “highly effective,” “energizing and motivating,” and a “model for how we should be engaging professionally.” Participants found the forum structure particularly conducive to enabling action.
- Though just two months had passed between the CP2OA forum and the time when we polled participants, more than 75% of responding participants reported having taken action toward advancing open access. Fifty percent (50%) of those who took action embarked upon what we categorized as “concrete” actions—that is, express steps such as starting pilots, undertaking publishing data analyses, and negotiating with publishers. The remaining 50% undertook at a minimum conversations and outreach within or external to their libraries.
- Some examples of concrete next steps included: (1) formation of a group providing consultations and support for transitioning society publications to open access (http://www.tspoa.org); (2) first OA investment by an institution that had not yet formally engaged with OA; (3) commitment to requiring OA in upcoming license negotiations with a STEM publisher; (4) formation of OA values statements to guide institutional investment; (5) pursuit of transformative (e.g., offsetting or “read and publish”) agreements through which an institution’s publications are made OA as part of an overall subscription license agreement; (6) building OA publishing into promotion and tenure considerations; and (7) increased institutional repository deposits and outreach.
Planning Committee’s Recommendations to CoUL
In advance of considering our recommendations this summer, CoUL has already approved some right off the bat, including:
- Making available the CP2OA Planning Committee’s report and all CP2OA public-facing documentation so that other institutions can have a blueprint for replicating or tailoring CP2OA to their needs. CoUL also approved a second round of CP2OA reporting so the Planning Committee could check in on forum participants’ progress later in the year.
- Continuing CoUL’s efforts to develop a public toolkit to support other institutions seeking to engage in “big deal” (large subscription journal package) re-negotiations that include OA components, and/or to engage more generally in transformative (e.g., offsetting/read-and-publish) agreements.
In June, CoUL will be addressing the other proposals in our report, including:
- Engaging the UC academic senate with OA in promotion and tenure
- Expanding institutional staffing and support for identification and evaluation of, and decision-making relating to, OA publishing investments and transforming the scholarly publishing landscape
- Dedicating collections funds across campuses to be used for supporting OA publishing
- Funding new data analyst positions to provide further inward-facing support for data-driven OA investments by UC libraries as well as outward-facing consultative support to the community beyond UC
- Collective investment in UC Press OA publishing
- Increasing support for monograph subventions for UC authors
- Collective investment in transformative cooperatives or non-APC approaches to OA publishing
- Committing to enhancing eScholarship, including expansion of OA publishing services
- Exploring opportunities for collective investment in open source infrastructure to support OA publishing
We will keep the community updated about how CoUL responds to these recommendations, as well as any UC collective next steps.
In the meantime, we hope you will share in some of the excitement that CP2OA has generated and continue your own journeys toward helping to transform our scholarly publishing ecosystem.
Onward to open access!
- Rachael Samberg (UC Berkeley; CP2OA Co-chair)
- Donald Barclay (UC Merced)
- John Renaud (UC Irvine)
- Lisa Schiff (California Digital Library)
- Allegra Swift (UC San Diego)
- Anneliese Taylor (UCSF)
- Mat Willmott (California Digital Library)
Our Library is thrilled to have digitized some unique materials from 1923 and shared them with the world for Public Domain Day 2019. We thought we’d dig deeper here on the Office of Scholarly Communication Services blog about why we were able to do all this without infringing anyone’s copyright.
Grab your popcorn, because here we go!
What is copyright, and what’s the public domain?
Despite seeming daunting at times, at its core, copyright is surprisingly straightforward: Copyright laws give authors of expressive works (imagine: paintings, musical scores, essays, articles, novels, screenplays, and the like) exclusive rights over their creations for limited periods of time. Unless some exception applies (we’ll say more below), the person or entity who holds copyright is the only one who can publish, reproduce, adapt, perform, or display that creative work for as long as the copyright protection lasts. Providing authors and artists these exclusive rights is intended as a reward system to encourage them to write and make things. But, these rights do not last indefinitely because perpetual protection would stymie innovation–since other scholars and artists would not be able to build upon the existing works.
This time-limited incentive framework originated from Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which empowered Congress to create laws meant promote the “progress of science,” which they intended broadly). The copyright laws that Congress subsequently created grant authors what is often referred to as a “bundle” of time-limited exclusive rights. There are some important exceptions to an author’s exclusive rights, such as fair use–which is intended to promote scholarship and research by allowing otherwise-protected uses of a copyrighted work.
You can begin to see that if a scholar is writing a book or article that reproduces or adapts someone else’s creation, the scholar may need the copyright holder’s permission if the work is still protected, and the scholar’s intended use exceeds what’s considered “fair” (a target sometimes hard to nail down).
A key point in this reward framework is that copyright protection does expire–and when it does, the works enters what is called the “public domain.” Public domain works can be used by anyone for any purpose, without having to ask the author’s permission first. When materials enter the public domain, suddenly it becomes possible to adapt or excerpt them in any fashion without worrying about whether one’s use falls within the fair use exception, or whether the author’s permission is needed.
With an entire year’s worth of U.S publications now entering the public domain, scholars and artists have a rich new crop of unrestricted content with which to play.
How long does copyright last?
What is so special about 1923, and why is it the magic number right now for the public domain? In 1998, Congress amended the copyright laws such that many works published from 1923 through 1977 received an extended grant of copyright protection for 95 years from the date of their creation. When the clock struck January 1st, 2019, those 95 years were up for anything published in the United States in 1923. Now, and for the next few decades unless Congress changes the laws again, each time we mark a January 1st, a new year’s worth of once-copyrighted material will enter the public domain.
This January 1st public domain extravaganza will not carry on indefinitely, though. For many U.S. works created after 1977, the length of copyright protection is actually the author’s lifetime plus 70 years–rather than a set 95-year period. That means, to determine the public domain status of a work written in, say, 1985, someone would need to investigate whether the author is still alive and, if not, whether 70 years have transpired since her death. (The period is even longer for corporate-authored works.)
Complicating matters even further is the fact that there are many publications published between 1923 and 1977 that are already in the public domain, even though 95 years have not yet transpired since their creation. This is because certain procedural requirements applied during that time period that obligated authors to take extra steps to either receive or extend their copyright protection. Here’s an illustration: Imagine two authors each wrote an autobiography in 1977. One of those autobiographies is still protected by copyright, but the other is already in the public domain because the writer failed to publish it with a copyright notice (sometimes designated as “©”), which was a formality required at the time. These days, copyright protection applies automatically, and it is not necessary to include a copyright notice on one’s work or register the work with the U.S. Copyright Office to receive protection.
In fact, some of the items we digitized for our Public Domain Day project were technically already in the public domain! We could have digitized them earlier, but it’s actually quite challenging for individual libraries to research the registration and formalities compliance of materials on an item-by-item basis. Now that it’s 2019, we can safely digitize 1923 without having to dig into each item individually. (By the way, HathiTrust, an online digital library, has been trying to distribute the work of identifying more titles from 1923-1977 that have entered the public domain. They have organized a Copyright Review Program to help spread the item-by-item labor across multiple institutions.)
Why does the public domain matter for scholars?
You can start to see that these laws regarding copyright duration can be extraordinarily complex. But, sifting through all of them can be critical for campus scholars if they wish to use or republish portions of other people’s creative works in their own scholarly writing. Fortunately, our Office of Scholarly Communication Services helps the campus navigate these nuances, as well as evaluate whether their scholarly intentions may fall within the fair use exception.
Certainly, the more material no longer protected by copyright, the clearer everything becomes for scholars seeking to use it. If writers wished to adapt those 1977 autobiographies mentioned above into a movie, or to republish large portions from them in their research, the prospect of doing so becomes a lot easier with the autobiography that has entered the public domain.
The public domain also offers another boon for scholars: More content to freely text mine.
Text mining describes a research approach in which scholars use automated methods to identify, extract, and analyze patterns and trends in large volumes of digital content. For instance, text mining techniques have made it possible for scholars like UC Berkeley’s David Bamman to extract language from novels to understand how depictions of gender have changed in fiction since the eighteenth century, or analyze the rhetoric of campaign speeches to make predictive determinations about audience response. Having more material in the public domain can help with that by removing potential copyright barriers as scholars access and republishing the text being analyzed.
Many of our campus scholars ask important questions about socio-cultural trends. Often, the content they need to study–let’s say content embedded in scientific journals–is protected by copyright. Our office helps these researchers understand that their text mining research methodologies can be fair use. However, if the researchers also want to share the content that they are analyzing with others–so that other scholars can verify the algorithms being used, or query the text for different questions–then, researchers might be pushing the limit of what is a “fair” amount of republishing or redistribution of copyright-protected text. Again, as more content enters the public domain, these barriers disappear.
We hope this Public Domain Day 2019 explainer has helped clarify the mechanics and frame the significance of what happened on Jan. 1. If you’d like to learn more or need some copyright help, be in touch!