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My h-index is 16

June 5, 2012

(After a long period of inactivity I have decided to resurrect this blog. Some of the reasons are obvious: free time, having trouble giving up a hobby, OA is heating up again and more importantly, the need to keep notes and thoughts in one location. I hope to continue blogging often if not as vigorously as before.)

Watching GoogleScholar progress the past few months, I decided to try building my profile page. After little effort I found my h-index to be 16. Since moving away from my academic career in summer of 1997, I ceased publishing in research journals – one exception was my letter in Science mag in 2003.


As other people have noted GS has really matured and so it made sense trying to build my own profile. And that is true. Except for a couple of duplicates in a list of 48, everything appears correct. I do recall being a coauthor on 8-10 one-page long abstracts and a book chapter and they are missing from this list.

There is another purpose too.

Having come from a southern part of India, like a number of researchers, I have not been immune to the author name ambiguity. Like many, I started off my research career publishing with my middle name and so a number of my citations ended up with “A Babu” as author. Halfway through the research career as the name ambiguity became a problem (more in my personal life) I decided to start publishing with my family name (hence “A B Akella”). (Have a laugh). The GS profile is an opportunity to list my academic output all in one place.

Back to the h-index. Although I am no longer in academic research, knowing of citations to the past work provides satisfaction that the work has some validity. So what else is the profile good for. I don’t know. Perhaps noticeable by some potential employer, who can tell. Also, as the saying goes, some beautiful things in life are free and GoogleScholar is one of them.


Nature Essay – Trial by Twitter

January 21, 2011

Here is a well balanced essay just appeared in Nature stressing post publication peer review – the tag line sums it up all:Blogs and tweets are ripping papers apart within days of publication, leaving researchers unsure how to react

The major problem as I see it is:

Journals have had a little more success with post-publication peer review in the form of comments to the online versions of their papers. But the discussion is hardly vigorous, largely because the journals have usually solicited these post-publication critiques on their own websites, rather than on popular social networking sites.

And a solution appears to be on the horizon:

Given the vagaries of such measures, there is a growing interest in methods that would aggregate and quantify all of the online responses and evaluations of a paper — producing what Neylon and some others are referring to as ‘alt-metrics’ — and compare it with more conventional metrics

altmetrics home
Has Journal Commenting Failed
Twitter Survey Report (Sept 2010) on scribd
More stats for the PLoS alt-metrics study

Can FREE Make Money?

November 2, 2010


An earlier post here reproduced a PEW survey data showing 90% of the general public being comfortable with FREE news content. In the STM publishing arena, the results of the famous Ithaka Faculty Survey 2009, released in April 2010, indicated 40% of the 3,025 respondents to consider gold OA “very important” although the open access option of a journal as the publishing venue was of lowest priority compared to half a dozen other things. In line with the evolving FREE concept, a couple of highly respected STM journals (Nucleic Acids Research and Journal of Clinical Investigations) already made the move to gold OA. So it would be interesting to see if the FREE content providers balance their books; let us see a few examples:

YouTube – I earlier wrote about my YouTube viewing experience. In a report last month analysts expected the Google-owned site to bring in around $450 million in revenue this year and earn a profit. This will be a turnaround year for the video content distributor since Google acquired it for $1.65 billion in 2006. YouTube is now a well rewarding place for advertising (without being a major irritant to the viewers).

Newspapers – Like a lot of people I enjoy the pleasure of having FREE access to the New York Times but suspect it is going to go away some time in the future. As paid newspaper subscriptions are showing a rapid decline (and here) free community newspapers are gaining ground and they are becoming profitable – few years ago no one would have imagined community news sites making millions.

STM journals – PLoS’ profitably is now well known and is reflected in the fact that gold open access is gaining ground. In a randomized study of published literature in 2009 available on ISI and Scopus databases, it was recently estimated that 2/3rd of the open access literature is in dedicated gold open access journals. Discipline wise the gold open access literature constitutes a significant percentage of the published literature in 2009: 14% each for Medicine and Biology, 5.5% for Chemistry and 3% for Physics and Astronomy. Open access journals from Copernicus Publishers are also being profitable. According to one Executive Editor of ACP, the journal and its 15 sister publications by EGU (mostly young), with a combined output of about 2000 articles per year, currently have a turnover of 2 million euros per year.

Since making the move to gold OA, Nucleic Acids Research (NAR) and Journal of Clinical Investigations (JCI) are doing well both academically and financially. It was reported that in 2008, NAR ‘achieve[d] a financial surplus similar to that achieved under its former subscription model’ while JCI’s ‘revenue from publication charges is coming closer to covering the cost of publishing’. Both NAR and JCI currently have impressive impact factors – 7.479 and 15.387 resp.

The STM journals mentioned above all follow the author-pays model charging the authors an APC (article processing charge) and one question is: is that the only viable alternative to the subscription model. Most, if not all, of the non-STM online content providers rely on ad revenue. Internet advertising revenue currently shows a double digit growth with total revenue of over 12 billion dollars during the first half of 2010 and the future appears all bright.

Free video content hosting companies now even have royalty sharing models (like Hulu) where content can be shown online with an occasional commercial, with royalties to the rights holder. Since winning the court battle against Viacom, YouTube/Google seems to be adopting the royalty-sharing model as well. As YouTube’s head of user experience explained in a recent TED presentation this appears to be an idea worth spreading.

There certainly are ways to make money while providing content FREE.

15 Tablet Devices Soon to Compete with iPad

October 4, 2010

Read the report here

Recent Releases from Elsevier

September 15, 2010
Thumbs up

source: wikipedia

Nowadays almost not a single day passes without me noticing something new on Elsevier products. Here are some of interest that were released in the past few days (in random order):

Elsevier and eMolecules Collaboration Enables Easy Sourcing of Chemicals via Reaxys

Reaxys, one of the best utilized chemistry applications service product gets an enhancement through an integration with eMolecules.

Chemical procurement of commercially available compounds is now incorporated into the reaction and substance search workflow. Research chemists can now immediately access the eMolecules ordering page, complete with full quantity, pricing and vendor information, all via the eMolecules icon. It becomes part of the overall research workflow, the chemist can order the desired compound and easily continue with their reaction or substance query.

Elsevier to Release Content APIs

Content APIs are not new to the news industry, they are almost everywhere but I haven’t come across one from STM publishers.

… it [Elsevier] would open content APIs to some of its biggest scientific and technical databases, including ScienceDirect, Scopus, and its new SciVerse Hub, giving users a way to build customized applications that offer intelligent discovery and search across Elsevier and web content, beginning Aug. 30. The content API will be available to limited users in Q4 2010.

Elsevier Launches Geofacets, a New Tool to Help Geoscientists….

Obviously Elsevier knows its customers’ needs well.

Geofacets, a search and discovery tool which delivers relevant content from Elsevier’s market-leading earth sciences journals. Geofacets will help geoscientists in the oil and gas industry spend less time searching and formatting content and more time on analysis and interpretation to identify and characterize potential sources of hydrocarbon resources.

New and Unique Tool Eases the Process of Finding Article Reviewers

This is an addition to the Elsevier’s Editorial and peer review system (EES) providing a suggested list of potential reviewers to submitted manuscripts (and an obvious first step in automating the process).

Accessible from within EES, editors can search by topic or by name and check for any conflicts of interest. The search is based on the Scopus algorithm for ranking published articles; potential reviewers are listed based on the number of their relevant articles, drawn from over 13,000 journals in Scopus. The results of the search will suggest potential reviewers and provide editors with information to help determine their suitability based on their published work, citations, h-index and conflicts of interest checks with the manuscript under review – previous co-authorship or affiliation to the same institute.

Elsevier Introduces SciVerse, an Innovative Platform for Accelerating Science

This is the ultimate integration solution targeting content into a single service, which will make it easier to access information and encourages collaboration in the science community.

A multi-phased initiative aimed at accelerating science through applications targeted to specific researcher needs, at launch SciVerse will include SciVerse Hub beta, a module that integrates ScienceDirect, Scopus and targeted web content from Scirus, Elsevier’s science-specific Internet search engine. SciVerse Hub beta allows for a single search across its integrated content with results ranked by relevancy and without duplication, saving valuable researcher time.

PharmaPendium launches pharmacokinetics module

This is an enhancement to the existing product to serve the pharmaceutical R&D professionals.

With the Pharmacokinetics Module, R&D professionals can model therapeutic windows faster and more accurately than previously possible and discover which preclinical experimental data is predictive of human response, which is not, and why. Users will have the ability to filter comparative data sets for decision support according to a wide variety of fields and special designations, including drug name, species, disease state, food effects, concomitant drugs, route, and exposure parameter.

Elsevier Appoint MD to Lead Transofrmation of Science+Technology Books Division

As always the philosophy behind new hirings is to play catch-up….The $4.5 billion university textbook market is currently dominanted by Pearson PLC, Cengage Learning and McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

Elsevier and the S&T Books group understand that the work we are doing here today will lead to scientific and technological advances in the years ahead.

‘Stop the Avalanche of Low-Quality’ Vs ‘Discovery Deficit’

September 2, 2010

Two items came to my attention during the last couple of months – both with diametrically opposing views of the publishing landscape. Following these items a number of responses showed up as blog pieces and interactive comments and I wanted to take some time to gauge the pulse of commentators and perform my own analysis (see further below).

Stop the Avalanche of Low-Quality

The first appeared as a commentary item titled ‘We Must Stop the Avalanche of Low-Quality Research’ in the well respected Chronicles of Higher Education. Not recognizing any of the author names I initially  ignored it as routine rhetoric but for the numerous comments the article attracted – 179 in all during the 4 weeks time the commenting was open (CoHE articles hardly get comments in double digits). Primarily basing on a 2009 article in Online Information Review, where it was found that 40.6 percent of the articles published in the top science and social-science journals were cited in the period 2002 to 2006, the authors argue that

–          Too much publication raises the refereeing load on leading practitioners
–          The productivity climate raises the demand on younger researchers.
–          Libraries struggle to pay the notoriously high subscription costs
–          The amount of material one must read to conduct a reasonable review of a topic keeps growing
–          Older literature isn’t properly appreciated, or is needlessly rehashed in a newer, publishable version
–          More isn’t better. At some point, quality gives way to quantity.

And they suggest the following fixes:

1)      limit the number of papers to the best three, four, or five that a job or promotion candidate can submit
2)      make more use of citation and journal “impact factors,”
3)      limit manuscripts to five to six journal-length pages, as Nature and Science do, and put a longer version up on a journal’s Web site.

As much one is familiar with the arguments the suggestions are hardly new –  #1 is currently followed by independent committees/bodies on their own, #2 the H-factor is widely used where it matters most (in China) and #3 doesn’t even apply to the web centric publishing although PNAS opting to take this track (actually for an entirely different reason, that of  turning the journal into a mag format).

Relating to #2, a much better opinion piece was published in Nature earlier this year that triggered a very healthy discussion and a full length commentary. A while ago I also noticed Scholarometer that seem to have some promise (I will review that at a later date).

As someone always trying to gauge the pulse of the community I found the follow up comments to the article highly valuable and informative. Although a majority of the comments dealt with the issue of the main article (‘stop the avalanche’), a significant number commented on alternate choices (‘publish everything’ and ‘search technologies’).  Having no familiarity with an appropriate quantitative methodology I decided to build my own quantitative metrics for the three notions. I first imported the comments into a doc file (turned out to be around 20 pages) and then deleted entire comments and text pieces that are of no relevance to the topic of the article (9 pages). I then tried to build a word cloud of the comments but since these are free form words the resulting cloud didn’t make any sense. I decided to manually count the comments to build the following metrics supporting the three notions (of the 178 comments only 87 directly addressed the issue raised by the authors):

stop the avalanche:
agree 0
disagree or implied to disagree 78
not clear 9
publish everything:
favor or implied to favor 22
no mention 65
search technology as an option:
recommend or implied to recommend 15
no mention 72

Very useful, isn’t it. The idea of the main article got almost zero support while at the same time a significant percentage of the commentators voluntarily expressed alternate viewpoints – 25% voluntarily suggested the ‘publish everything’ approach and 17% voluntarily recommended ‘search technologies’ to take over.

Discovery Deficit

The second item appeared as an entry on Cameron Neylon’s blog. To quote the article:

The great strength of the web is that you can allow publication of anything at very low marginal cost without limiting the ability of people to find what they are interested in, at least in principle. Discovery mechanisms are good enough, while being a long way from perfect, to make it possible to mostly find what you’re looking for while avoiding what you’re not looking for.  Search acts as a remarkable filter over the whole web through making discovery possible for large classes of problem. And high quality search algorithms depend on having a lot of data.

Academic publishers have not yet started semantic enrichment of content. No one doubts that once the trend starts the real cream of the web will start floating and as a number of commentators to this post pointed out (or implied) this is the ‘ultimate route’.


August 19, 2010

As a subtle reminder to the continuing impact of open access on the publishing landscape, the BMJ Group yesterday announced the launch of BMJ Open, an open access online journal.  BMJ Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Medical Association publishes, along with about 30 other journals, one of the world’s longest (170 years) and widely read (over a million online users) medical journal, the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The announcement appearing as an entry on their official blog (BMJ Open – launching autumn 2010) states:

Not only will the journal publish traditional full research reports, including small or low-impact studies, but we intend to shed light on all stages of the research process by publishing study protocols, pilot studies and pre-protocols. The journal will also place great emphasis on the importance of data sharing; raw data will be linked to at its repository or hosted online as supplementary material wherever possible.

This emphasis on transparency will continue with research protocols and reviewers’ comments being published alongside final papers … Peer review will be open, and the criteria for acceptance will be that the research was conducted in a transparent and ethical way.

Authors will be asked to pay article-processing charges on acceptance, although waivers will be available on request. The ability to pay will not influence editorial decisions; payment requests will be made on acceptance.

Although the announcement doesn’t mention the amount the authors are charged, a typical open access service at BMJ (branded ‘Unlocked’) costs little over $3000.

Earlier in June, the Group placed an employment ad for the Managing Editor of BMJ Open where in it was  mentioned that

BMJ Open is a pure Open Access journal – which will publish a high volume of medical research articles which might be rejected from the BMJ or BMJJs [the BMJ family of journals] or which might be otherwise submitted to a journal outside the BMJ Group. There is no medical equivalent of this type of “mid-tier” publication which therefore fills a gap in the market.

So here is a PLoS ONE style journal for clinicians.