Monday, January 4, 2010

Fun with new open access journals...

Science is an incremental process, and the foundation upon which new results and discoveries are built is composed largely of previous research. It almost goes without saying that the long-term stability and accessibility of such previous research is fundamental to what we do as scientists. This is why accurate, long-term archiving of published, peer-reviewed research is such a big deal. The recent rise of Open Access journals has raised many questions about how we should deal with long-term archiving.

Accurate archiving of peer-reviewed research means that, once a paper has been published, its identifying attributes - page numbers, volume, etc - should not be changed. Otherwise, this creates a duplicity in the literature and makes it difficult to track down potentially important pieces of information. This is why journals are (in my experience, anyway) uncompromising on any further changes once a paper has been officially published.

I was thus surprised to find that a paper I published in 2006 has had, at some point, a change in page numbers. The journal in question is Evolutionary Bioinformatics Online, published by Libertas Academica, which has been the subject of some prior discussion here on Dechronization (see this previous post ). The original version was 2006:257-260, now shifted to 2006:247-250 and any attempts to find the 257-260 version on the Evol Bioinfo website will fail - those original page numbers are now part of a different article.

This is - at most - a mild annoyance. Still, it is pretty difficult to track how people are using the software I described in that note, because ISI does not have a record of the article using original pagination - which is what people (including myself) generally cite. So - citing the 257-260 version effectively falls into a black hole. But this does raise some worrisome questions about the long-term management of information, especially if this is not an isolated incident. Has anyone had similar experiences with LA or other open access publishers (or non-OA publishers, for that matter)?

9 comments:

Susan Perkins said...

Yikes! This sounds like a nightmare.

Glor said...

Dude, page numbers are so 2007! Evolutionary Bioinformatics Online needs to do the DOI revolution. I can't believe they aren't using the system, but I couldn't find DOIs for even their most recent publications.

Kevin Zelnio said...

Wow, I was going to say it shouldn't matter because they DOI shouldn't EVER change. But you know what they say about when you assume...

Hege F. said...

As a biologist-turned-librarian I recognize it as a nightmare! I'd think the problem would be generally related to electronic archiving, though. I cannot see how Open Access archiving calls for any more changes in pagination than any other archives.

Unique ideintifiers such as DOIs work well, but only if they're actually there and used...

Ned said...

You should still be able to tally up citations via a WOS cited reference search. It is surprisingly common for people to give the wrong page numbers or even issues & volumes in their lit cited so the hyperlink number you get with a web of science citation is almost never the full count.

Not that this makes what you're talking about any less annoying

sergios-orestis kolokotronis said...

I am surprised to see an OA publisher using page numbers. BMC and PLoS use a single alphanumeric code instead of page numbers. Someone who knows how DOIs are requested can illuminate me here... is a DOI that expensive (why isn't LA using it)?

There's also an alternative to DOI called handle (HDL) - that's what the AMNH uses for its publications (all freely available, btw). If one can cite and download a Bull Amer Mus Nat Hist paper published in 1881 by using a simple unique digital identifier, present-day online-only OA publishers should make it at least equally easy to cite and fetch papers.

sergios-orestis kolokotronis said...

By the way, Firefox has a couple of very handy features of possible interest to this thread: an add-on that resolves DOI/HDL URIs while browsing, and two search engines (where one usually googles in the upper right text field next to the address bar).

Rod Page said...

There's always Google Scholar: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=11235521853625347449&hl=en&as_sdt=2000 to track the citations (24 to date)

Rod Page said...

Curse bloger's stupid way of handling URLs. Try this.