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Peer review and the curious case of the Law review

Scholarly publishing is often presented as a paradigm of how scholarship should work: disinterested, rigorously peer-reviewed, and hence scrupulously fair. It came as a surprise to me to find there are some areas of scholarly publishing where this state of affairs is not quite the case. Legal publishing appears to be an exception to the above description. The Harvard Law Review, for example, is edited and published by law students at Harvard University Law faculty.

Single Figure Publications and nano-publications

Single Figure Publications is an interesting idea by William Mobley published in F1000Research. F1000Research is “a publishing platform offering immediate publication of posters, slides and articles with no editorial bias, [but with] transparent peer review” Mr Mobley proposes in his editorial that Single Figure Publications (SFP) should be a new format of short text pieces, shorter than a scholarly article, and, tantalisingly, close to machine readable. What does he mean by this? 




Libraries buy - and publishers sell

I subscribe to a number of library forums, and I was interested to read an invitation to contribute in a recent post. This sounds like an interesting initiative, I thought, so I looked at the proposal in a bit more detail. I was surprised with what I discovered. The call was for contributions to the "E-Resource Round Up" column for the Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship (JERL). To encourage library professionals to contribute, the editors state "This could be an ideal opportunity for you to report on programs that may benefit others in our profession". They helpfully provided some suggestions for what to write about, including "vendor activities and upcoming events". Plus, there was a gentle reminder that "contributions should not be published elsewhere". When I went to the website for this journal, it was available to subscribers only. I was invited to purchase the current issue, as an individual subscriber, at a cost of £122, or just the one article for £25. This is, after all, content about libraries created by library professionals as part of their working practice - being sold back to them, or in my case, as I declined the subscription offer, completely unavailable. 



Scribd: how to recreate the circulating library in digital form

Scribd puts me in mind of the circulating library. Early in the 20th century, many people consumed fiction from a circulating library - simply another name for a private library. Users were charged a fee for the privilege of borrowing books from the library. Instead of buying one book, the customer paid an annual subscription and could borrow books for a set time. Typically, the subscription enabled the user to borrow just one book at a time. For a higher subscription, the customer could borrow more books at once. 


Scribd home page


Faceted v hierarchical taxonomies - why all the fuss?

You might think that there need be no war over creating a taxonomy. When should you use a hierarchical classification, and when a set of facets? You might think it hardly worth bothering over. Yet some thesaurus experts fight to defend hierarchical taxonomies; you feel that if there were a pecking order of taxonomies (a nice idea, that), then hierarchical taxonomies would be ranked highest. If you don't believe me, try reading a recent post from Access Innovations, Down the Rabbit Hole.

Newspapers and magazines: beyond digital subscriptions

When newspapers started to become available on the Web, the first decision - and one that has never been completely resolved - was whether the content should be free to view or available only by paid access.


The paid model that emerged initially was a paywall, with regular annual or monthly payments, enabling the whole newspaper to be read. For some newspapers that method has worked well, but this method doesn’t take into account the many other opportunities provided by online access.

The Lean Startup, or how the best entrepreneurs don’t listen to customers


"We really did have customers in those early days— true visionary early adopters— and we often talked to them and asked for their feedback. But we emphatically did not do what they said." This startling admission appears in the first page of The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses, by Eric Ries (2011). Should we congratulate him on his fresh approach, or laugh at him for missing the only true guidance that product development can trust, that is, the customer? The truth is somewhere between the two. Ries has written a book that some have labelled a key management text of the 21st century, while to a more jaundiced eye it reads like so many business books that come from America, combining evangelical fervour with rather dubious and questionable statements that have not been tested.