The Publishing Research Consortium has just released the results of a 2015 survey on peer review for which I did the analysis and report. From the press release: PRC Report Reveals: Broad Support for Peer Review, Desire for Improvements Increasing Peer review still broadly supported, continuing preference for conventional, pre-publication, single or double blind peer review [read more]
Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the British Library, on behalf of the Global Research Council (GRC), hosted a workshop entitled Unlocking the future: Open Access communication in a global research environment in April 2015 to bring together publishers, funders, libraries and other stakeholders from across the world to discuss perspectives on open communication in a [read more]
The Publishing Research Consortium has just published my Peer Review: An Introduction and Guide. Here’s the blurb: Peer Review: An Introduction and Guide (by Mark Ware, published by the Publishing Research Consortium in September 2013) offers a readable overview of the processes used in peer review that assesses its strengths and limitations and looks at [read more]
The Thomson Reuters Forum of industry experts, of which I am a member, recently released a report addressing issues impacting scholarly research and attribution related to research data. The volume of scientific and scholarly research data available is projected to grow by a factor of 44 over the decade from 2010 to 2020, going from [read more]
My review of The Handbook of Journal Publishing, Edited by Sally Morris, Ed Barnas, Douglas LaFrenier, Margaret Reich has just been published in Learned Publishing. Here’s a short extract: Sally Morris and her co-authors promise us “a thorough guide to the journal publishing process, from editing and production through marketing, sales, and fulfillment, with chapters [read more]
I gave a presentation on Understanding how researchers and practitioners use STM information at the Association of Subscription Agents annual conference The 3 Rs: Reach, Readership and Revenues last month. The (over-long!) subtitle was How data analytics and field research are transforming our understanding of researcher and practitioner use of STM information, but more specifically [read more]
My review of Academic & Professional Publishing, edited by Robert Campbell, Ed Pentz and Ian Borthwick has now been published in Learned Publishing where it is (currently) freely available . I liked it, a lot: The fact that book publishing deadlines (especially multi-contributor works) sometimes means that the rapid pace of events can overtake some [read more]
STM have just published the third edition of The STM Report: An overview of scientific and scholarly journal publishing, by myself and Michael Mabe. This is a significantly updated and expanded version of our 2009 report – now 100 pages, and it’s free! As you’d expect, the sections on open access and new technologies are particularly heavily revised, [read more]
Scientific, Technical & Medical Information 2012 Market Size, Share, Forecast, and Trend Report (with Laura Ricci) Report for Outsell, Inc. (August 2012)
STM E-Books: 2012 Market Size, Share, and Forecast (with Laura Ricci). Report for Outsell, Inc. (June 2012)
Mobile in STM: Case Studies of Accelerating Change (with Laura Ricci). Report for Outsell, Inc. (May 2012)
STM in China: 2012 Market Size, Share & Forecast (with Laura Ricci). Report for Outsell, Inc. (April 2012)
Evolution of the STM Publishing Platform: An Industry Overview and Roadmap (with Laura Ricci). Report for Outsell, Inc. (March 2012)
I have a new report (jointly produced with CEPA for RIN) out today: Heading for the open road: costs and benefits of transitions in scholarly communications. We investigate the drivers, costs and beneﬁts of potential ways to increase access to scholarly journals. The report identiﬁes ﬁve different routes for achieving that end over the next ﬁve years, [read more]
I was pleased to have been invited to talk at the Association of Subscription Agents Annual Conference this week, because otherwise I would most likely not have gone and this would have meant missing an interesting meeting. Nearly all the talks were informative and engaging, and even if not one then usually the other. For [read more]
A contact mentioned to me that a large university press was drawing attention to a journal article by the economist Mark Armstrong to support their contention that non-for-profit (NFP) journal owners would be better off having their journals published by a not-for-profit publisher (i.e. themselves) rather than a commercial publisher. The article (published ironically enough [read more]
I don’t think so, although it’s not hard to find statements in the literature like these: “The peer review system is breaking down and will soon be in crisis: increasing numbers of submitted manuscripts mean that demand for reviews is outstripping supply” “The peer-review system … the foundation on which scientific advance is based, is [read more]
The summary version of a report I wrote earlier this year for Knowledge Exchange on submission fees in open access journals has just been published on the KE website. (pdf) Submission fees, in which an author pays a fee when submitting an article are already quite common in certain disciplines, notably economic and finance journals and [read more]
I’m down to talk under this title at the ASA Annual Conference next February 21/22. I’m going to base my talk on work that we’re doing with CEPA (Cambridge Economic Policy Associates) for RIN, the project on Dynamics of improving access to research papers. It’s going to be part of session titled The Subscription is [read more]
The contract for the “Dynamics of improving access to research papers” project was awarded to CEPA (Cambridge Economic Policy Associates) working in association with Mark Ware Consulting. This project is part of the Transitions in scholarly communications portfolio of projects that are being managed by the Research Information Network with a very diverse range of [read more]
Mark Ware Consulting has been commissioned by Knowledge Exchange (www.knowledge-exchange.info), a partnership of JISC (UK), SURF (Netherlands), DEFF (Denmark) and DfG (Germany), to conduct a study into the feasibility of submission fees in open access journals (i.e. as distinct from publication fees). An open access business model based on submission charges could have real advantages [read more]
STM has just released The STM Report: An overview of scientific and scholarly journal publishing. A follow up to my 2006 report, Scientific publishing in transition: an overview of current developments, this new report collects the available evidence and provides a comprehensive picture of the trends and currents in scholarly communication.
The Publishing Research Consortium has published a new report by Mark Ware Consulting today: Access by UK small and medium-sized enterprises to professional and academic information From the press release (pdf): Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with 250 employees or fewer, make up 99.9% of UK businesses, and represent 59% of private sector employment and [read more]
Against The Grain, a US-based newsletter, has its special issue on peer review out now. It includes an article by me, Current Peer Review Practice and Perceptions: The View from the Field. It’s not currently available online but I’ll be putting up a preprint version shortly. Other articles include Peer Review: The History, the Issues, [read more]
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I am working with Robin Beecroft of Searchlighter on the development of a web-based toolkit for scholarly communications in the UK. We have now launched a blog for the project which can be found here: http://rinsc.wordpress.com/ We plan to use the blog to post our research findings [read more]
Probably old news for most, but the Library Journal annual survey by Lee Van Orsdel and Kathleen Born is as good this year as ever: Reality Bites: Periodicals Price Survey 2009 (Library Journal, 15 April 2009). The authors are very pessimistic on the impact of the global recession and the prospect for library cuts. They [read more]
We’ve been awarded a contract to develop a web-based toolkit to support key stakeholders (especially research funders, higher education institutions, libraries and publishers) to apply the common principles set out in an earlier RIN document, the Research and the Scholarly Communications Process: towards strategic goals for public policy. I’m working with Robin Beecroft of Searchlighter on this [read more]
I’ve posted a new article on Web 2.0 and scholarly communication This was originally intended for Learned Publishing but they found it too journalistic for their style, and it also overlapped with other articles already in the pipeline. It’s possible I may expand the last section, We built it, why won’t they come?, into an [read more]
At last! a definition of semantic publishing I can understand and that tells me why I might want to bother: anything that enhances the meaning of a published journal article, facilitates its automated discovery, enables its linking to semantically related articles, provides access to data within the article in actionable form, or facilitates integration of [read more]
[Update: the new version has now been released: see The STM Report] I’m about to start an update/revision of the “Scientific Publishing in Transition” paper I wrote for ALPSP/STM in 2006, which attempted to provide an overview of journals publishing issues with data taken from published papers and reports etc. Obviously there’s been a lot of [read more]
The JISC-funded report “Economic Implications of Alternative Scholarly Publishing Models: Exploring the costs and benefits” by John Houghton et al. was released today: – press release – full report (pdf) From the report: A reduction of revenue to the publishing industry, should it arise, would imply a reduction of activity and employment in the industry. [read more]
Enjoyed this: Einstein was smart, but Could He Play the Violin? – the winner of the synchroblogging contest: Today is PLoS ONE’s second anniversary and we’re celebrating by announcing that the winner of the second PLoS synchroblogging competition is SciCurious of the Neurotopia 2.0 blog. “This fluent post captures the essence of the research and [read more]
Peer review in scholarly journals: Perspective of the scholarly community – an international survey (pdf, 1.4 Mb). A research report for the Publishing Research Consortium (January 2008).
A New York Times story from last week:Several major research libraries have rebuffed offers from Google and Microsoft to scan their books into computer databases, saying they are put off by restrictions these companies want to place on the new digital collections.The research libraries, including a large consortium in the Boston area, are instead signing on with the Open Content AllianceThe key issue is the terms of Google & Microsoft deals that prevent making the scanned material available to other commercial search services.
MPS Vice President Kurt Mehlhorn said negotiations to extend the deal failed because, according to an MPS evaluation based on factors including usage and comparisons with other publishers, Springer was intent on charging “approximately double the price” the organization regarded as “reasonable.”… Because the subscriptions taken out in 1997 included the electronic archive rights, which according to the contract stay in force beyond the termination of the same, the scientists will, however, continue to enjoy online access to the paid-for, older volumes of the journals.In other words, the “Big Deal” arrangements have been cancelled but the underlying subscriptions continue.
Their idea is based on“information arbitrage”, the opportunity that arises when breaking medical insights intersect with the demand for actionable, market-changing events in healthcareIn other words, they want to charge pharmacos, financial institutions, healthcare companies and others to participate and listen in on the community:Clients pay a subscription fee and in return can post questions to the Sermo community…. It’s not obvious to me that doctors will prefer to “talk candidly” with Pfizer’s shills over having to endure advertising on the site, and given the attention the pharma industry has received for some of its more dubious marketing practices (such as ghost-writing) and what has been seen as its undue influence over the whole medical profession (including, let us not forget, medical publishing), the arrangements are likely to come under some scrutiny from regulators.
From the blurb:Just published, this guide is designed to give an overview of the available rights and royalties software systems currently available. It provides an introduction and charts some of the main trends in the field and looks at the potential benefits offered by software systems for book and journal publishers.
One measure of the growing importance of blogs in scientific/medical communication is that the US National Library of Medicine has now provided guidance on how to cite a blog entry in an academic paper. All the research I have seen recently suggests that the number of scientists regularly reading scientific blogs is a very small proportion (certainly under 10% in most fields), and the proportion actively blogging is lower still, but there’s no doubt the trend is upwards.
The Hub is a destination site for researchers to share their views and build a dynamic, interactive community.Currently, the PLoS Hub for Clinical Trials features articles originally published in PLoS Clinical Trials, along with clinical trials articles from PLoS ONE.In the future, this new resource will expand to include articles from all the PLoS titles that publish clinical trials…. More details in the PLos FAQ at Questions about the PLoS HubsAt present, the Hub is little more than a filtered view of articles from PLoS Clinical Trials and PLoS ONE (which PLoS Clinical Trial is being merged into).
Macmillan has just announced that Richard Charkin will leave his position as CEO of Macmillan (part of the privately held Holtzbrinck Group) to join Bloomsbury as Executive Director:Richard Charkin moves on after ten years at Macmillan26 September 2007: Macmillan announced today that Richard Charkin will leave his post as CEO after exactly ten years with the company. He will take up a new position as Executive Director of Bloomsbury plc on Monday 1 October 2007.Richard commented, “It is exactly ten years since I accepted the job as Chief Executive of Macmillan and it has been the best ten years of my career.
It will be worth keeping an eye on Elsevier’s newly launched OncologySTAT, which provides advertising-supported free access for registered users to over 100 Elsevier oncology journals (press release).The site will provide a lot of information. OncologySTAT integrates a multitude of authoritative professional cancer information sources, such as peer-reviewed research, news and regulatory updates, a professional drug monograph and interactions database, chemotherapy regimens, and conference coverage into one easy-to-use online destination.
The UK All-Hands e-Science 2007 meeting took place on 10-13 September – the full programme with some links to presentation slides is here. Mostly very technical and/or infrastructural and rather a long way from the publishing process but it’s worth being aware of developments that potentially impact on publishing and the use of publications, e.g. [read more]
Ironically, perhaps because the sciences have led in the adoption of new forms of scholarly communication such as disciplinary repositories and online journals, they were less interested in supporting University-sponsored initiatives, while the Arts & Humanities faculty express greater interest in alternatives, the need for change, and a call for discussion and help.Senior faculty may be the most fertile targets for innovation in scholarly communication…. Because they are also involved in making academic policy and serving as role modelsfor junior faculty, their efforts at innovation are likely to have broader influence within their departmentsSome of these findings echo those of earlier surveys, such as the large-scale surveys undertaken by the CIBER group at City University (e.g. the dissociation between attitudes and behaviour.)The finding that faculty are conservative in their publication behaviour because of the pressures of the rewards and promotion system also won’t come as a surprise to most observers, however dismaying to advocates for new models.
The Financial Times today publishes a signed opinion piece by James Boyle, professor of law at Duke Law School,, and a co-founder of Science Commons, entitled The irony of a web without science, arguing in favour of the proposed US legislation that would require open access to authors’ postprint versions of articles a year after publication…. This is no Voltairean call to strangle the last commercial publisher with the entrails of the last journal rep. Commercial journal publishers and learned societies play a valuable role in the assessment and dissemination of scientific knowledge – though we might wish that the availability of worldwide, free distribution had not caused their prices to rise quite so sharply.
I have just uploaded a preprint of a new article, “Choosing a publishing partner: advice for societies and associations” (pdf), which is due to be published in Learned Publishing in its January 2008 issue.Abstract:For societies and associations seeking a publishing partner, the healthy competition between publishers means that the deals on offer have never been better…. This article, based on the author’s experience as a publisher-turned-consultant advising societies, offers a framework for selecting a partner based on a careful analysis of what the society needs from its publisher in the long term. We conclude that underlying the performance of the best publisher partners are a good understanding of the needs of societies and their journals; a strong service orientation; and an ability to plan strategically for each journal on the basis of facts and data.
From their press release:A new initiative was announced today to bring together like minded scholarly societies, publishers, researchers and other professionals in an effort to safeguard the scientific and medical peer-review process and educate the public about the risks of proposed government interference with the scholarly communication process.(That is, to campaign against research funders such as the National Institutes of Health mandating the deposit of authors’ postprints in open access repositories.)The criticism from the open access blogging community has been deafening, at least for those who hang out in the echo chamber that is the blogosphere. Blog posts are too numerous to mention but here are a few: Open Access News, Information Research Weblog, Peter Murray-Rust, A Blog Around the Clock (includes links to yet more comment), and lots more.The criticism ranged from the detailed and forensic (Peter Suber’s OA New entry cited above) through heavy-handed satire (The PISD Coalition) to the downright ugly (“lying profitmongering scum”).The storm in blogoland was picked up by the quasi-mainstream press in the form of Salon (“Science publishers get even stupider”) and Wired (“Astroturf Spreads to Science Journals: Publishing Industry Forms Front Group to Cheat Public”), whose writers both weighed in with their own brands of polemic.It was left to the ever-reliable John Blossom on ContentBlogger to give the voice to the kinds of worries that many in the mainstream STM publishing industry might have about PRISM:The primary problem with PRISM is that it seems to be advocating on a range of issues which, while valid in their own right, are more about fear, uncertainty and doubt – those familiar sales tools – than the real issues at hand….
But despite PLoS ONE having been surprisingly successful at attracting authors (given that authors have to pay $1250 publication charge for a journal with no impact factor and low peer review standards), it has been much less successful at getting users to comment on articles.PLoS ONE has therefore hired a well-known science blogger, Bora Zivkovic as Online Community Manager with the specific responsibility for drumming up comments…. It may be that the BMJ Rapid Responses were seen as simply an electronic version of an already existing (and popular) feature, the Letter to the Editor, whereas the Nature and PLoS One examples were wholly or partly attempts to develop new forms of peer review.
The advice to societies is to work out in advance exactly what it is you want from a publisher before you start the beauty parade: as in many things in life, if you don’t know what you want, you probably won’t get it.But it seems this “journal transfer market” is potentially under fire as a result of the decision by the American Anthropological Association to move their journals from the University of California Press to Wiley-Blackwell…. They’ve got a membership that in some disciplines is increasingly convinced that the way to do that is more openness in publication and more innovation in publication, but these societies have got sort of addicted to these revenue streams from their publication programs over the last few decades, and are trying to figure out if they want to make the transition to a new model and — if so — how do they navigate the transition.“Of course, the publishers (both commercial and not-for-profit) that are generating these addictive revenue streams argue that their model is the one that has delivered the biggest increase in access to literature ever: their retained capital allowed them to make the technology investments that Lynch speaks of, and the (consortia-based) licensing model has broadened access enormously while simultaneously cutting the average cost per journal article use by an order of magnitude or so.
TechTarget continues to show its older-established rivals how to do it in online B2B publishing:TechTarget Announces Record Second Quarter 2007 Financial Results: Financial News – Yahoo!Finance:Online revenues increase to record $16.3 million; up 27 percent over prior year quarterTechTarget, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTGT – News) today announced financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2007…. Adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, as adjusted for stock based compensation) increased by 31% to $7.6 million compared to $5.8 million for the comparable prior year quarter.“Q2 was a productive quarter for TechTarget.
Eric Schmidt Defines Web 3.0:Google CEO Eric Schmidt was recently at the Seoul Digital Forum and he was asked to define Web 3.0 by an audience member…. He said that while Web 2.0 was based on Ajax, Web 3.0 will be “applications that are pieced together” – with the characteristics that the apps are relatively small, the data is in the cloud, the apps can run on any device (PC or mobile), the apps are very fast and very customizable, and are distributed virally (social networks, email, etc).Most scientific publishers probably think of Web 3.0 (if at all) in terms of the semantic web.
SciVee’s creators hope that that the appeal of a video or audio explanation of paper will make it easier for others to more quickly grasp the concepts of a paper and make it more digestible both to colleagues and to the general public.SciVee was also discussed in the Fink & Bourne’s article Reinventing Scholarly Communication for the Electronic Age in the August issue of CTWatch Quarterly which I mentioned recently. It’s possible to add synchronised audio to powerpoint presentations using general (non-scientific) services like Slideshare but the SciVee implementation includes a lot of useful dedicated tools, such as links to the references and figures (which pop up in separate windows without interrupting the presentation), a link to the full text (ditto), the ability to switch between a view of the presentation slides and the abstract, which will make it much more useful for this particular application.
Communication & Technology Watch Quarterly’s August issue is devoted to The Coming Revolution in Scholarly Communication & Cyberinfrastructure, guest-edited by Lee Dirks and Tony Hey of Microsoft. I haven’t had time to read it yet but there looks to be a lot of interest, including these that I turned to first:The Shape of the Scientific Article in The Developing Cyberinfrastructure, by Clifford LynchWeb 2.0 in Science, by Timo Hannay…
These publications are the primary source of information for everyone involved in scientific research, allowing them to understand the current scientific models and consensus and making them aware of new ideas and new techniques that may influence the work they do…. When misinformation makes its way into the literature, it may not only influence career advancement and funding decisions; it can actually influence which experiments get done and how they are interpreted.
The Scientist : Yale dumps BioMed Central:Yale University’s science and medicine libraries have decided to discontinue their membership to BioMed Central (BMC), an open access publishing company, citing skyrocketing membership costs in a public statement issued last Friday (Aug 3)…. The libraries have covered the costs of membership on behalf of the university and its researchers but can no longer absorb membership fees that have grown in excess of $30,000 over the past year, Kenny Marone, director of the medical library, told The Scientist.
Haworth Press, Inc. to be acquired by Taylor & Francis:The Haworth Press, Inc. published of 194 scholarly/academic journals and approximately 150 books/monographs yearly, announced today that it would be acquired by Taylor & Francis.Haworth launched in 1979, and publishes in the areas of social work, librarianship, mental health, social work, gender studies, and then additional fields of pharmaceutical science, business, and agriculture/food science.
Since I cover peer review from time to time (sometimes seriously, other times less so), I couldn’t resist this from BMC’s Matt Hodgkinson’s blog JournalogyA new way to find reviewers – the ouija board:Authors of manuscripts submitted to our journals can suggest potential peer reviewers.A recent submitting author took advantage of this to suggest…His former supervisorWait, it gets better….His dead former supervisorWait, wait, it gets even better…..His dead former supervisor, indicated with (deceased)Guys, who last had the ouija board?
JISC announced its RepositoryNet project on 17 July:Repositories are important for universities and colleges in helping to capture, manage and share institutional assets as a part of their information strategy.
Extract:And then yesterday my friend Jerry McDonough of the University of Illinois’ Graduate School of Library and Information Science forwarded me a talk that he gave recently at the British Library called, “We Are Not Alone: The Role of the Research Library in a Suddenly Crowded Information Universe.”… But notice that this decrease is already well underway by 1995, when electronic journals did not have anything like the degree of penetration into library collections that they have today.“
The Istanbul Declaration signed at the recent OECD World Forum looks interesting, calling on governments to make their statistical data freely available online as a “public good”:[quote]It’s not entirely clear to me how much different this would make to access, given that major Western governments like UK and USA already make their statistical data available. [check this]What does look really interesting, though, is the potential to combine this raw access to data with new online tools like Swivel, ManyEyes and MappingWorlds that allow ordinary users to manipulate, visualise and share datasets.
Shelfari is “a social interactive social media site for book lovers”.Using Shelfari, you can create a personal shelf of your books, see what your friends are reading, get and give recommendations for what to read next, create book lists, and even share your opinion on a book with friends or the growing Shelfari community.It intends to make money from affiliate marketing/referrals:we aren’t running any ads on the site…. So when you buy a book through Shelfari on Amazon or another service, Shelfari gets a percentage of that revenue.The service is also neatly integrated into Facebook, which must surely increase its uptake potential.True to form, “Fantasy” and “Science Fiction” are among the most popular tags, and the DaVinci Code is the most commented book, but it’s not all bad, and there’s plenty of real books too.File under “nice”.
Topic PagesMechanisms of immune tolerance to allergensSerine ProteasesIt takes a bit of imagination to envisage how useful these pages could be when presented with such a bare-bones attempt.Perhaps it’s unfair, but I couldn’t help comparing these Topic Pages with the Nature Publishing Group’s Reports, which also offer an aggregation of information on particular topics (albeit aimed at a broader audience, with a mix of news and science), e.g.: Nature Reports Stem CellsNature Reports Climate ChangeIt seems unlike Elsevier to show publicly such an unfinished product – compare for example the extensive global testing and refinement programme that preceded the Scopus launch. In fairness, Elsevier clearly intend to develop the products before the official launch and to offer considerably expanded functionality, including (it sounds like) social features:At the official Topic Page launch later this year, the functionality of the Topic Pages will allow scientists and researchers to alter the content and provide feedback, allowing each topic to be shaped by the suggestions made by the research community.
But that doesn’t take into account the effectiveness of a site, because again people could be visiting a site due to it being highly ranked in Google – yet when they click through they find rubbish content and so very quickly leave.Compete (a R/WW sponsor) has a good measure called ‘engagement’, which measures things like Daily Attention and Average Stay…. Reading a blog, using instant messaging, and using web search are utterly different — the idea that one metric can be used as a yardstick to compare them is absurd on the face of it.Karp goes on to point out that for many advertisers, all these measures (pageviews, visits, time spent, etc.) are really proxies for action by the users, i.e. clicks (or preferably conversions):Google makes money by selling actions, i.e. clicks.No wonder more than half of all online advertising revenue goes to Google.
All large publishers have such schemes, primarily as a response to the introduction of policies by research funders (such as the National Institutes of Health in the US and the Wellcome Trust in the UK) requiring authors to deposit a version of their accepted articles in a public archive.Springer had gone rather farther than most, however, with the appointment in 2005 of Jan Velterop as Director of Open Access, who had made public statements about Springer’s commitment to real open access, e.g. with the use of a licence based on the Creative Commons licence.Murray-Rust thought about publishing an article under Open Choice and decided to look at some existing examples to see what he got for his money…. Velterop went on to blame the copyright line and Rightslink buttons on inflexibilities in the Springer production system and flaws in their Rightslink implementation, which is hardly great PR for the publisher — the “cock-up rather than conspiracy” defence.He also pointed out that Springer had made some articles Open Choice without author payments to help measure usage (there presumably not being enough take-up by authors to produce any valid statistics on differential usage?), and that Springer had made some articles retrospectively Open Choice by agreements with various Dutch institutions.
Tony Hammond of NPG has now blogged an account of his recent talk on OTMI at the BioNLP 2007 conference (Biological, translational, and clinical language processing):I was fortunate enough to talk early in the morning while people were still lively (talk is here) and there were several questions afterwards both in the Q&A and later during the breaks and the poster session at end of the workshop…. That is, most of the features are parametrized and it is up to individual publishers to determine e.g. whether a snippet is a paragraph or a phrase, whether snippets are randomized or not, etc.Of course OTMI is far from being the only game in town as regards text-mining or semantic enrichment of STM literature.
Both Google and Google Scholar are slowly incorporating an increasing amount of this content, and these data will be appearing in search results for Google and Google Scholar.This will make Google Scholar significantly more useful as a research tool.In his comment on the move, Peter Suber said:This is notable for a wide range of reasons…. In contrast to the various European newspaper publisher-related lawsuits, Elsevier has clearly felt that…their ability to execute business strategy is unimpeded by encouraging greater content exposure….But this misses the point that the only part of the content that Google will reveal via its search engine is the part that is already publicly available – in most cases, the article’s abstract and bibliographic record, while the full article content will remain behind the same access controls as before.
Saur Verlag GmbH, which since 2005 has also included the programme of Max Niemeyer Verlag. Through this acquisition Walter de Gruyter will become the market leader in the subject areas classical studies, philosophy, German studies, linguistics and English and Romance studies, as well as in library sciences and general library reference works.
To take an extreme case, Yahoo reported a couple of weeks ago that the Chinese authorities were considering a move to try to end the confusion caused by the fact that more than a billion people are now sharing just 100 surnames, and 93 million have the family name Wang.More pertinently for this publishing, the problem of author disambiguation has long been an issue for searching bibliographic databases such as PubMed/Medline…. The idea here is that a copy of the database (in this case, Medline initially) would be placed on a wiki, and the authors and their colleagues – that is, the scientific community at large – would do the necessary work.At present the WikiAuthors proposal appears stalled, pending the development of other WikiMedia projects (e.g. WikiProteins).I was struck by some similarities with Spock, the current hot new search engine.
From Matthew Cockerill’s post on the BioMedCentral blog:uBioRSS is a nifty service from the MBLWHOI Library at Woods Hole, which harvests bibliographic information about new articles from publishers’ RSS feeds, and then passes them through the uBio taxonomic classification system which identifies any species that are mentioned in the article, and classifies the article appropriately.This makes it possible to browse the literature taxonomically, so that, for example you might view a list of all the latest articles on cetaceans far more easily than can be done using plain text search.uBioRSS is a great example of the way in which semantic enrichment can add value to the literatureOf course it’s not new for third parties to add tagging to content e.g. to improve the search experience (e.g. product names – Google Product Search, place names – MetaCarta, etc.) but this is a nice example of what can be easily done with STM content. I’m sure this sort of thing will become increasingly common.
I was a bit surprised to see in his presentation “Online Advertising in Scholarly Journals:the Opportunities, Risks, and Rewards” to the STM Spring Conference in April, Richard Newman of the American Medical Association felt it necessary to explain how Google’s AdSense and AdWords programmes work…. Anyway, if you’re looking for a primer on online advertising, covering the different kinds of advertising, the size and growth of the market, challenges and innovation, current and future trends, and lots of links, I can recommend this recent post on the MediaShift blog: Your Guide to Online Advertising – From time to time, I’ll give an overview of one broad MediaShift topic, annotated with online resources and plenty of tips.
This is the description from the conference website:a standard by which the owners of content published on the World Wide Web can provide permissions information (relating to access and use of their content) in a form that can be recognised and interpreted by a search engine “spider”, so that the search engine operator is enabled systematically to comply with the permissions granted by the owner. ACAP will allow publishers, broadcasters and any other to express their individual access and use policies in a language that search engine’s robot “spiders” can be taught to understand.(For more information, see also the Wikipedia page; the official ACAP website)ACAP was conceived in January 2006 and born some 9 months later at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
In my note about the launch of Nature Precedings last week, I said incorrectly there were 64 submissions on the launch date and gave the breakdown by subject category. This made a rather obvious error – my numbers assumed that each submission was in only one subject category, whereas course many have multiple categories.
Extract:Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle.The cow jumped over the moon.The little dog laughed, to see such a sight.And the dish ran away with the spoon.The reviewers felt that not enough data was presented to support your claims…. In addition, several of the reviewers felt that the word ‘diddle’ was inappropriate, and should have been replaced by the more scientifically correct, ‘Hey fornicate fornicate.“ Because of these, and other problems, we are sorry to inform you that your manuscript has not been accepted for publication.
Overall they recommend that:Recommendation 1: Guidelines should not be so prescriptive as to stifle the experimentation thatis needed with Web 2.0 and learning and teaching that is necessary to take full advantage of thepossibilities offered by this new technology.From a publisher’s perspective, these recommendations could be important:Recommendation 2: JISC should consider funding projects investigating how institutional repositories canbe made more accessible for learning and teaching through the use of Web 2.0 technologies, includingtagging, folksonomies and social software.Recommendation 6: JISC should consider funding a study to look at how repositories can be used toprovide end-user (i.e. referrer) archiving services for material that is referenced in academic publishedmaterial, including Internet journal papers. Part of this consideration should extend to copyright issues.Recommendation 3: JISC should consider funding work looking at the legal aspects of ownership andIPR, including responsibility for infringements in terms of IPR, with the aim of developing good practiceguides to support open creation and re-use of material.Other blog coverage: see Brian Kelly (UKOLN) on UK Web Focus.The Read/Write Web blog today published a round-up of some of its recent coverage of Web 2.0 in e-learning in e-learning 2.0: All You Need To Know.
Timo Hannay’s announcement is here and the press release here.The site is very nicely implemented, with all the Web2.0 features we have come to expect from Nature Publishing Group, including tagging (documents and people), voting for articles, and open discussion on articles, etc. Perhaps not surprising, by far the largest single subject category is Bioinformatics, with 20 documents…. Nature hopes the stature of the partners will allay fears about Nature’s plans for possible future control of the content.The site differs from some of the earlier preprint sites (like arXiv in physics) in that it accepts powerpoint presentations as well as journal article preprints, e.g. this interesting presentation: Open Notebook Science Using Blogs and Wikis.
The UK Serials Group has now published the final report on the feasibility study into developing and implementing journal Usage Factors (UFs).The summary says that “based on these results it appears that it would not only be feasible to develop a meaningful journal Usage Factor, but that there is broad support for its implementation.”
As the open access movement blossoms, its supporters should continue to critically evaluate the parallel development of openness and transparency in the peer review process….while all manner of electronic journals are experimenting with reader input on published material, little is known about the scientific value of post-publication review in the modern era of open access publishingPeer review is a surprisingly active area for discussion and experimentation, given that has been the standard approach for about 400 years. For instance the American Medical Association runs an four-yearly International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication.Some example of new approaches to peer review: Nature’s open peer review trial: authors were invited to have their submitted manuscripts placed on an open website where anyone could review and comment on them.
I did a short piece on the launch of two online ad networks (Reed Performance Network and GlobalSpec) a couple of days ago.Now Scott Karp has a very interesting post on Publishing 2.0 on online ad networks and in particular on Openads, the open source ad serving software company…. But for highly targeted advertising, independent niche publishers have a unique relationship with their readers, and are in the best position to judge what is most relevant to their readers (and Google has shown that relevancy is a huge driver of advertising value).
RPN is fully transparent, giving publishers complete control over which advertising campaigns run on their website, while letting advertisers see all websites where their ads will appear.On the same day, GlobalSpec (a specialised search engine covering engineering and technical industries) announced the launch of the Industrial Ad Network, an online banner advertising network designed to reach members o the manufacturing, industrial, technical and engineering community. From the press release:Companies who participate in GlobalSpec’s Industrial Ad Network can include their banner advertisements on more than 200 Web sites within the industrial sector, resulting in millions of targeted impressions each month.
This, in turn, allows them to solicit community feedback and establish priority over their results or ideas.A bioinformatics resesarcher, Pedro Beltrão, who has been participating in the beta testing, has a posting about it here…. Despite the long-time success of subject-based preprint servers in other disciplines (arXiv in physics, RePEc in economics, etc.), there has been very little interest to date, and indeed some active hostility, to the idea in biomedical research.
Under the agreement, Google will digitize “significant portions from CIC library general collections,” with each university to contribute “collection areas of particular strength and distinction.”… as a part of the agreement, the consortium will be able to create a “shared digital repository” that will enable CIC librarians to access the full content and “collectively archive and manage” as many as five million public domain works held across the CIC libraries.
From publishers’ perspectives, the parts about open access will be of particular interest:The vision for 2010 refers to the wish that a “high percentage of newly published scholarly outputs [be] made on available on terms of open access” and speaks of “a growing recognition of the benefits of making academic content more available”…. Universities UK was:“firmly behind” JISC’s approach to the development of open access repositories, suggesting that repositories were “vital to universities’ economies and to the UK economy as a whole.”Although Universities UK has recently produced a Policy Brief on open access (I blogged about this a few days ago here) the presentation is much broader (although it opens with a slide on OA), covering efficiencies in managing academic assets, data-driven science, lifelong learning and preservation.
The service had been previously announced and commented on earlier (e.g. see Barbara Quint’s excellent piece in Information Today from April).Scitopia is a federated search portal – that is, the search terms are sent simultaneously to the publications websites of the member societies, and the returned results ranked and presented on a single page. At present soem 3 million articles are covered.The full list of societies is given on the Scitopia website, and includes a number of American Institute of Physics member societies, plus ASME, SIAM, IEEE, Institute of Physics, etc. Some patents and (US?)
A summary version is available for download from the BL website (see the link at foot of page here), with the full version available on request.According a 2002 paper by Tenopir & King cited in the report, some 15% of articles read by scientists are older than five years. Furthermore the author, Jan Willem Wijnen reports that: “Analysis of usage statistics of STM publishers’ platforms has revealed that about 20-25% of the downloaded articles are at least five years old.
From the Guardian’s Saturday story:Anti-arms trade campaigners and writers at Reed Elsevier’s scientific journals last night welcomed the publisher’s decision to stop organising defence shows.Reed said yesterday it would sever its ties with arms fairs, bowing to pressure which included complaints from customers, shareholders and academics writing for its titles…. At the time neither of us had heard the news, and my contact said that they were under pressure from within the society membership not to place the contract with Elsevier because of this defence industry link.
Universities UK – the representative body for the executive heads of UK universities and is recognised as the umbrella group for the university sector – has published a Policy Briefing entitled Publishing research results: the challenge of open access.It has not attracted much comment, perhaps out of embarrassment, because it is an extraordinarily unbalanced and partial review. For example, it ignores completely two reports (one written by myself, and the other by Chris Beckett and colleagues at Scholarly Information Strategies) which presented studies into the potential impact of self-archiving on journal subscriptions.
An article in Fast Company from last September talked about how users are adding iMixes to the iTunes Music Store (ITMS), and how this creates value:“McGuire and his research partner, Derek Slater of Harvard University, predict that recommendations by music consumers online will drive 25% of all Web-based music transactions by 2010, up from less than 10% today…. EndNote has some of the iTunes functionality (though with a very clunky old-fashioned interface) but it doesn’t link to a single source like iTunes links to ITMS, so that there is no way for users to create and share recommendations directly through EndNote.
Apple has announced the launch of iTunes U, a dedicated area within the iTunes Store. iTunes U features free content – including course lectures, language lessons, and lab demonstrations, as well as more promotional content such as sports highlights, and campus tours — from such leading universities as Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Duke University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Shame that there is nothing from UK universities, though – don’t they want to promote themselves to the iTunes generation?
I hadn’t realised until today that two reports I wrote for ALPSP were available via Amazon: ALPSP Survey of Librarians on Factors in Journal CancellationOnline Submission and Peer Review Systems It’s tremendous the way that a tiny publisher like ALPSP can get global distribution this way. In this case, I assume that ALPSP’s supplier, the print-on-demand company Lightning Source provides the catalogue feed to Amazon.
From the press release:Elsevier, a leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical (STM) information, has announced that more than 900 leading research libraries and corporations from all over the world are participating in the trial of eBooks on ScienceDirect…. Following the launch, approximately 50 newly published titles will be added to the eBooks list on ScienceDirect each month, offering researchers unparalleled integration and linking between the latest online book and journal information.
A nice article by James Surowiecki in the New Yorker on feature creep:Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, allowing us to do things more quickly and efficiently. But too often it seems to make things harder, leaving us with fifty-button remote controls, digital cameras with hundreds of mysterious features and book-length manuals, and cars with dashboard systems worthy of the space shuttle.
The Internet Advertising Bureau issued its year-end report for 2006: Internet advertising revenues (“revenues”) in the United States totaled $16.9 billion for the full year 2006,with Q3 accounting for $4.2 billion and Q4 totaling $4.8 billion. Internet advertising revenues for the fullyear of 2006 increased 35 percent over 2005.For the third consecutive year, revenues post record results—Total revenues for the 2006 fourthquarter ($4.8 billion) increased 14 percent from the 2006 third-quarter total of $4.2 billion, and 33percent from the 2005 fourth-quarter total of $3.6 billion.
Ovid Partners with Global STM Publisher Springer Science+Business Media to Expand E-Book OfferingsFrom the press release:More than 800 Titles Spanning Core Medical Specialties Will Be Available on Books@Ovid for Purchase or SubscriptionOvid will offer more than 800 medical and health sciences titles to medical organizations globally, including hospitals and hospital consortia, medical schools, and medical departments or entities within a higher education institution, government organization, or corporation…. Key titles coming to Books@Ovid include AJCC Cancer Staging Atlas, Medical Informatics, and Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery, widely considered must-have, “core” resources in their respective disciplines.
Extract:This map was constructed by sorting roughly 800,000 published papers into 776 different scientific paradigms (shown as pale circular nodes) based on how often the papers were cited together by authors of other papers. Links (curved black lines) were made between the paradigms that shared papers, then treated as rubber bands, holding similar paradigms nearer one another when a physical simulation forced every paradigm to repel every other; thus the layout derives directly from the data.
I’ve just written a short article describing a framework for helping publishers decide whether they should develop and host their own proprietary online journals systems, or whether they should outsource this activity…. The article will be published in Learned Publishing in its July issue.
Peter Suber has published his annual predictions for all things Open Access-related in the December Open Access Newsletter. His main predictions in outline: more Open Access policies from funders and universitiesinstitutional repositories will continue to spreadfunding agencies with weak OA policies will come under pressure to tighten themthe key issue for funder mandates will be the length of the embargopublishers that are not already “Green” (i.e. allow authors to post versions of their accepted articles) will come under pressure to become somore publishers will adopt hybrid OA policiesbook publishers will come to see that free online full-text *reading* will increase net salesThere are also links to the previous years’ predictions, so you can check out his track record: a quick look shows he’s much more right than wrong.
Extract from the FT.com alert:Houghton Mifflin is close to announcing a deal to be sold to Ireland’s Riverdeep in a deal worth nearly $5bn that will offer a lucrative exit to the private equity backers of the US publishing group.According to people familiar with the matter, Bain Capital, Thomas H Lee Partners and Blackstone are expected to make about 3.5 times their money from the deal after three years of ownership.The transaction is structured as a reverse takeover, with Riverdeep, a Dublin-based company, creating a new company to acquire Houghton Mifflin, based in Boston, for a cash consideration of $3.3bn.The new company will also acquire Riverdeep, which itself was taken private in 2003, using paper at $6 a share…. The new company will be based in Ireland to take advantage of 12.5 per cent corporate tax rates and the favourable treatment of royalties earned on Ireland-registered intellectual property sold to subsidiaries in the US and elsewhere.
It’s a long piece – over 12,500 words – but thoughful and insightful, and goes well beyond the usual rhetoric.I’m not the first to commend it; Peter Suber and Stevan Harnad have both praised it highly: Peter said “if I were convening a meeting on long-term strategy, I’d assign this article in its entirety as background reading…. Read it and make up your own mind.”Over on The Parachute, though, Jan Velterop concedes that while it is well-written (too well written, in fact, since because of this “one may not easily spot that some of his observations are presented as foregone conclusions, yet are not supported or warranted”) but takes issue with a couple of points.
the grand vision of the DML is feasible: with today’s technology, it is actually a tractable task to put all 50 million pages of the past mathematical literature online.The older literature is particularly important in mathematics:Unlike researchers in many other disciplines, especially in the sciences and engineering, mathematicians rely heavily on past literature while working at the frontiers of research. Having that literature available electronically would have a large impact on current research in mathematics.The DML project is actually a fairly loose federation of separate digitisation projects, including Numdam (a French project supported by CNRS providing delayed open access to digitised maths journals), Göttinger Digitalisierungs Zentrum (the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft programme for retrospective digitisation of library materials), and Emani (an archiving & preservation project ).
From the FT.com news alert (Friday Nov 17 2006):US group buys Blackwell PublishingBy Pan Kwan Yuk and Mark OdellJohn Wiley & Sons, the US-listed publishing house, on Friday agreed to buy Blackwell Publishing, the Oxford-based academic publisher, for £572m in cash and debt.The deal may put an end to the long-running feud between the 10 Blackwell family members who control one of Britain’s biggest and best-known privately-held businesses.Blackwell, which traces its history back to a 12-square foot bookshop opened in 1879 in Oxford, has two businesses: publishing and retailing…. Marrying them together makes perfect sense both commercially and for the benefit of the global academic and professional community.“Wiley, which publishes scientific, technical and medical journals, encyclopaedias and online products, said it had already received irrevocable commitments from the principal Blackwell shareholders.The transaction is expected to be completed by early 2007.JP Morgan Cazenove advised Blackwell.
A story from data-recovery experts Ontrack UK’s list of Top 10 data disasters: Ontrack UK – Top 10 List of Data Loss Disasters of 2006:Beware of Bananas – A customer left an old banana on the top of his external hard drive which proceeded to seep its contents into the drive, ruining the circuitry. The drive would no longer run, but Ontrack was able to clean the drive and repair the circuit board so the drive would spin long enough to recover his data.
Underlying operating margins are improving with good revenue growth and further cost efficiency.The market marked Elsevier’s share price down ~4% in response to the Harcourt news:“Shares in Reed Elsevier, the publishing group, fell on Thursday after it warned that revenues would be ”broadly flat“ at its US-based Harcourt Education subsidiary…. The one billionth article download has also been counted by industry-standard measurements as Elsevier is fully COUNTER compliant”Elsevier to expand eBooks programmeIWR reported a couple of days ago that “Elsevier plans to launch 4,000 scientific and technical books online next year, a major expansion to the resources already available on STM database ScienceDirect .”The expanded programme will include ebook titles published since 1995, with approximately 50 titles added to the ebooks list on ScienceDirect each month.
6 colloquium on issues in scholarly publishing, there were two points on which almost everyone agreed: The high costs for journal subscriptions charged by commercial publishers in recent years are unsustainable, and the ability to distribute articles electronically has fundamentally changed academic research and publishing.The colloquium, sponsored by Stanford University Libraries, invited presenters from Stanford and other institutions to discuss issues including ways in which institutions and scholars are responding to the ongoing crisis in journal pricing…. Bergstrom presented data comparing journal costs in 2004 that showed that the price-per-page of for-profit journals was about three times the average price-per-page of nonprofit journals.I think it is a shame that these discussions don’t reflect the reality that (for the larger publishers, i.e. those most criticised) the headline journal subscription price per title is no longer the only, or perhaps not even the most important, measure of the price of a journal.
The 40.3% year-on-year growth meant that online ads in the UK now represent 10,5% of the advertising market, and is considerably larger than the radio, outdoor and consumer magazines sectors, and is approaching the share taken by national newspapers (11.4%)…. IABUK anticipated that online would overtake national newspapers by the end of 2006.I was pleased to see that spending on interruptive formats, including pop-ups, is declining and now represents 0.7% of all online ads.
A couple of days ago I blogged on a new survey by Chris Beckett and Simon Inger of Scholarly Information Strategies looking at whether or not self-archiving of authors’ journal articles on open archives would be likely to lead to cancellation of journal subscriptions by libraries.I had also conducted a survey of librarians’ opinion on the same topic earlier this year which received responses from 340 librarians (report available on the ALPSP website here; free summary article here)…. (Incidentally, on a related point, I noted that Thomson’s Reynold Guida’s slides from his presentation on this at the Charleston conference included the point that “[WoS/arXiv integration] Provides links and citation data at article level as an incentive for every researcher to post work on IRs ”.)(6) Looking at the headline question of the new study, there’s enough in just the Part 2 findings to at the least suggest OA archives will be a factor in cancellations.
I blogged a note the other day about the development of libraries and library services on Second Life, the online virtual environment. Information Today’s blog had a piece from the Internet Librarian 2006 conference about the InfoIsland Library:InfoIsland Library, the new library service that’s been built within the virtual-reality world of Second Life.
Microsoft has demonstrated a wonderful new program, Photosynth, at the recent Web 2.0 conference. It’s a bit hard to explain in words – much better to view this video of a demonstration given by Microsoft’s Gary Flake – but this is what Microsoft’s site says about it:Our software takes a large collection of photos of a place or an object, analyzes them for similarities, and displays them in a reconstructed three-dimensional space.With Photosynth you can:Walk or fly through a scene to see photos from any angle.Seamlessly zoom in or out of a photo whether it’s megapixels or gigapixels in size.See where pictures were taken in relation to one another.Find similar photos to the one you’re currently viewing.Send a collection – or a particular view of one – to a friend.The potential applications are tremendous – it’s hard to see who couldn’t benefit from this, from archaeologists and architects to zoologists.
The articles are written in non-technical language and will be useful to students, educators, scholars, professionals, as well as to the general public.The Need for a New Reference on the EnvironmentThe motivation behind the Encyclopedia of Earth is simple…. The remainder is of poor or unknown quality.This illustrates a stark reality of the Web: digital information on the environment is characterized by an abundance of “great piles of content” and a dearth of “piles of great content.”
It has recently signed agreements with academic institutions including the Great Western Library Alliance consortium (US), the University of Chicago (US), the University of Manchester (UK), the University of Oslo (Norway), the University of Jordan, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology/ETH, the Akademintorg / Russian Foundation for Basic research consortium, several members of the KESLI consortium (Korea) and several institutes in India…. The company has introduced a special offer, wherein customers who purchase the 2007 eBook Collection before the end of 2006 get the electronic versions of all Springer books published in 2005 and 2006 as well.
Any modification of the article needs to be approved by the curator before it appears in the final, approved version.Herein also lies the greatest differences between Scholarpedia and traditional print media: while the initial authorship and review processes are similar to a print journal, articles in Scholarpedia are not frozen and outdated, but dynamic, subject to an ongoing process of improvement moderated by their curators…. They have some big names signed up to write articles (e.g. Lorenz on the Butterfly Effect, Mandelbrot on Fractals and Mandelbrot set, etc.) but every article I tried to look at just had a “coming soon” stub like this:Remains to be seen whether Scholarpedia will prove any better at getting over-committed superstars to deliver on time than conventional publishers!
Earlier this year I conducted a “quick’n’dirty” survey of librarians’ attitudes to the availability of self-archived journal articles as a possible substitScholarly Information Services have now done a much more sophisticated piece of research on the same topic, commissioned by the Publishing Research Consortium. According to the summary:“Overall the survey shows that a significant number of librarians are likely to substitute OAmaterials for subscribed resources, given certain levels of reliability, peer review andcurrency of the information available.
Mind you, whenever I read these kind of growth rate predictions given to a tenth of a percentage point I’m always put in mind of Scott Adams. In The Dilbert Future he said that there are only two ways for predicting the future: “nutty methods” such as reading horoscopes, tea leaves, tarot cards or crystal balls, or methods that “put well-researched facts into a sophisticated computer…
Connecting for Health (part of the NHS in England) has not renewed its contract with BMJ Publishing which made access to Clinical Evidence freely available at the point of use to doctors, CfH has chosen a rival service, Prodigy Knowledge, which is supplied by the vendors of the Prodigy clinical software systems…. According to its own website, “Clinical Evidence summarises the current state of knowledge and uncertainty about the prevention and treatment of clinical conditions, based on thorough searches and appraisal of the literature.
Now the UK library systems vendor Talis and the Alliance Library System have just issued a joint press release, announcing their work together to extend and enhance current Info Island/ Second Life Library capabilities through the establishment of a brand new island inside the virtual world; Talis Cybrary City…. Features like a coffee shop and open-air reading rooms are also a reflection of Jade’s desire to create ‘a social atmosphere for residents who prefer not to go to clubs.’Though the library has yet to begin producing articles, Jade says the institution will take an active role in acquiring content….Visitors to the library will access its holdings through searchable and browsable terminals linked to a r/l database that will return a notecard visitors will be welcome to keep, free of charge.
Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oölitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-pole. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo [Illinois] and New Orleans will have joined their streets together and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen.