November 25, 2020

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Specialised information bank to benefit scholarly publishing

Researchers from Australia’s Curtin University will help create a new international data trust to improve the measurement and analysis of open-access (OA) books.

According to a recent press release, this will be delivered through a US$ 1.2 million (AUD$1.75 million) project funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

About the initiative

The trust is believed to be the first of its kind in the world for scholarly publishing as it will enable universities to share and analyse data within a specialised information bank.

This will allow member organisations to share data while retaining trust among members.

Professor Cameron Neylon and Associate Professor Lucy Montgomery from the Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative project will lead the University’s team for the two-year initiative.

The project will be delivered in partnership with the University of North Texas, the University of Michigan, the Educopia Institute and the Book Industry Study Group (BISG).

Professor Montgomery explained that the project involved the development of a system for sharing data about the usage of OA monographs.

Background

OA monographs are scholarly books that are free to read online and are distributed without licensing restrictions.

Researchers do not merely create knowledge to share with each other. The team wants to learn how people in communities around the world are reading and using the information and insights available to them through open access books.

Books have been relatively slow to develop as open access resources, compared to other forms of academic publishing, and there have been few ways to measure their extent and impact.

Benefits

This project will develop a world-leading repository of data about open access monographs.

Publishers and platforms have been cautious about sharing their data on these books in the past.

However, this online bank of information will be administered by members and will operate in an environment of trust.

Professor Neylon highlighted that the new information repository would open up new opportunities for analysis.

The data trust will ensure the responsible use of metrics related to ebooks and will enable an understanding of how specialist scholarly books are being accessed and used.

Ultimately, they want to understand who is reading the books, where those people are from, and what impact these books are having by being open access.

This is a great opportunity to develop a new window into the way knowledge is shared around the world, way beyond what is currently being achieved by counting citations, which can be a very misleading measure of influence and impact.

Other initiatives

Information-sharing is essential as there is a myriad of learnings to be gained from data.

In the Philippines, for instance, a data-sharing agreement was recently signed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) with TransUnion Philippines.

Under the agreement, DTI will provide Publicly Available Data of business enterprises to the company. This will allow the company to develop a “firm bureau database” in order to expand distribution of its credit information not only to individuals but to firms as well.

This partnership signals greater collaboration between the government and the private sector in using data analytics to help in policymaking and program development.

Meanwhile, Vietnam launched an e-government information sharing and monitoring system. The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) launched a system to serve e-government development in the country.

It will help monitor and analyse information to detect possible threats and warn the relevant ministries, agencies, and localities to ensure network security for e-governance.

After a 6-month trial period, when it is officially put into operation, the system will be expanded nationwide.