SocArXiv launches, brings sociology and social science into the open, with new grant support

SocArXiv, the open access, open source archive of social science, is officially launching in beta version today.

For more information contact: Philip Cohen, Director; pnc@umd.edu

December 7, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SocArXiv, the open access, open source archive of social science, is officially launching in beta version today. Created in partnership with the Center for Open Science, SocArXiv provides a free, noncommercial service for rapid sharing of academic papers; it is built on the Open Science Framework, a platform for researchers to upload data and code as well as research results.

By uploading working papers and preprints of their articles to SocArXiv, social scientists can now make their work immediately and permanently available to other researchers and the public, and discoverable via search engines. This alleviates the frustration of slow times to publication and sidesteps paywalls that limit the audience for academic research. Since SocArXiv is a not-for-profit alternative to existing commercial platforms, researchers can also be assured that they are sharing their research in an environment where access, not profit, will remain at the heart of the mission.

Since development was first announced in July, researchers have deposited more than 600 papers, downloaded over 10,000 times, in anticipation of SocArXiv’s launch. SocArXiv anticipates rapid growth in that number in the coming year as it establishes a reputation as the fully open repository for sociology and social science research.

“SocArXiv is an exciting opportunity to democratize access to the best of social science research,” said Katherine Newman, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “This will assist the nation’s academics in making clear to the public why their work matters beyond the ivy walls.”

“We are building the future of social science scholarly communication,” added SocArXiv director Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, which serves as the archive’s institutional home. “It’s past time for social scientists – and sociologists in particular – to bring their work out into the open, to make it better, faster, more accountable, and more transparent.”

While the archive welcomes all social science research, the program is building from a strength in sociology, a discipline that lacks a strong tradition of preprint publication and open scholarship. With the Center for Open Science developing the technology, SocArXiv is focusing on planning, community mobilization, outreach, and governance of the archive. To that end, the Open Society Foundations and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation have each granted the initiative at the University of Maryland $50,000 for the coming year.

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SocArXiv is a partner of the nonprofit Center for Open Science and is housed at the University of Maryland. Led by a steering committee of sociologists and research library leaders, it is dedicated to opening up social science, reaching more people more effectively, improving academic research, and building the future. Learn more at SocArXiv.org.

SocArXiv updates

building

Lots of exciting new developments and innovation in the works at SocArXiv. Here is a quick rundown. 

Everything described here is under development. The new services are public so people can start testing them out, offering feedback, and think about building tools to work with them. Everything in our partnership with the Center for Open Science (COS) is open source, open access, and non-profit.

  • COS has opened their general preprint server, now aptly described as “The open preprint repository network.” This is the system that hosts SocArXiv, and it will allow integration of papers from many different services, such as the giant arXiv (which is mostly math and physics), the new bioRxiv, and the new communities hosted by COS, which so far include SocArXiv, engRxiv, and PsyArXiv. At this site you can search all the preprint servers at once, or any combination of them. However, at present you can still only add papers to SocArXiv using our email deposit system (click Add your Preprints for instructions). This is temporary; soon you will be able to upload papers at the main site and identify which archive(s) you want to submit them to. All papers added to SocArXiv now will be in the database.
  • The COS preprint server is integrated with SHARE, the free, open dataset of the entire research life cycle (described here). SHARE currently includes 120+ sources, including all the preprint servers, a lot of institutional repositories, and the big public databases like PubMed and BioMed and DataCite. The beauty of this for SocArXiv users is it will allow us to generate, for example, lists or notifications for a school or department’s scholarly output, a keyword, or a conference or working paper series. SHARE is in process of upgrading to version 2 now, but people with interests in programming this sort of thing can visit the API documentation page (please be aware indexing is not yet complete).
  • COS has a new partnership with Overleaf, a company that offers a free LaTeX authoring platform, to support the automatic submission of manuscripts to the new preprint servers. LaTeX users should also check out the SocArXiv template authored by Christopher Marcum.
  • Our media highlights page includes a Bloomberg View post urging sociologists to give away working papers like our richer, more influential cousins the economists do; a column by Barbara Fister on the rapid advance of open access, and other news. You probably also want to read this thorough paper on the benefits of open scholarship for researchers’ careers.
  • SocArXiv director Philip Cohen has been accepted to represent the project at the OpenCon conference in Washington, D.C. this fall.

Remember, post papers here, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, email us to get involved or volunteer, and make a tax-deductible contribution through the University of Maryland here, watch the pronunciation video here.

SocArXiv goes to the American Sociological Association

See you at ASA! (And some updates on how you can get involved.)

We wrote previously to urge sociologists to upload their papers for the American Sociological Association conference. On the Scatterplot blog, steering committee member Dan Hirschman wrote to invite you to the annual blogger party, now including SocArXiv. It will be Sunday, August 21 from 4pm-7pm at The Pine Box Bar, 1600 Melrose Ave, in Seattle, and everyone is welcome.

At the party, or anywhere you see one, get a button! (with magnetic clips that won’t harm your clothes, and that you can stick to your fridge or filing cabinet later):

button-pic

And we have flyers, suitable for printing or sharing online (click to enlarge):

SocArXiv flyer

Or in PDF format, in black-and-white or color.

Please share!

Meanwhile, a few brief updates:

  1. We have more than 300 papers in the archive already, from people using the temporary email upload service. Check them out at SocArXiv.org (and, of course, upload your own). They are from a wide variety of disciplines, including sociology, communications, law, political science, geography, and others.
  2. We expect the full site to launch this fall. It will have full search and discovery tools, an easy form for entering your own author information, subjects and tags, and tools for editing papers online.
  3. Our partners at the Center for Open Science are working with Google Scholar to get papers indexed by their service (they are currently discoverable by Google, but not Scholar), and with SHARE to allow setting up feeds and notifications for papers posted to the site.
  4. The paper server has welcomed two new partners, in psychology (PsyArXiv) and engineering (engrXiv). Don’t worry about our work being arbitrarily separated between disciplines, though, as it is easy to post papers to different sections in one easy upload (described here).
  5. We have much more work to do. We are organizing working groups in four areas to develop the site, its features, and governance model. Please email socarxiv@gmail.com if you are interested in contributing to the Outreach, Governance, Interface, or Reviewing groups.
  6. Finally, we are preparing a fundraising campaign, to include individual and institutional donors. If you (or your institution) would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to SocArXiv through the University of Maryland, visit: http://go.umd.edu/SocArXiv, or email.

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Celebrate the 26th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by making your open scholarship accessible

 

 

Ensure that the future of open scholarship is available and inclusive for people who use assistive technology

By Judy Ruttenberg

SocArXiv is dedicated to opening up social science, to reach more people more effectively, to improve our research, and build the future. By applying a few simple principles and practices of universal design and web accessibility, you can help ensure that this future of open scholarship is available and inclusive for the community of readers and scholars who use assistive technology to render text to speech, braille, and other formats.

Whatever authoring software you’re using — most commonly Microsoft Word — you can create accessible documents by being mindful of a few basic principles: use of headers, lists and alt text to describe images; identification of document language, clearly identified column and row headers in tables, and the export to PDF as “tagged” to preserve these elements.

There are many guides available on the web providing step by step instructions. I particularly like the guides provided by the University of Washington, which has been a leader in accessibility and universal design for decades. If you are on a college or university campus, there are likely resources available to you locally if you have questions.

As we build this future of open scholarship in the social sciences, let’s make it really open by making it accessible to the global population of people with visual, physical, perceptual, developmental, cognitive, or learning disabilities that render print inaccessible.

Sociologists: Where’s your paper?

conversation-better

Thousands of sociologists are writing papers right now. As the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association approaches (August 20-23, Seattle) In the next month, many of them will perform an archaic ritual. They will send their paper to the discussant for their upcoming panel. The discussant will have the right to read and discuss any aspect of the paper at the conference — but not to share it with the public or other scholars.

Then, at the conference, the author will spend 15 or 20 minutes presenting some parts of the paper, and the discussant will verbally comment on it before an audience of 0 to 100 people, including at least a few people (the other panelists) with a demonstrated interest in the topic. Afterward, those who are interested may approach the author and ask for a copy of the paper.

The presentation is open to anyone — who happens to be physically in the room — and the paper is now “out there,” but in just about the least accessible form possible: a verbal presentation, with slides. This can all lead to good conversations and exchanges of information and insights. This conference presentation goes on everyone’s CV. The whole thing is “public” in the way that public was defined 100 years ago.

Of course, technology has changed this. People send the papers electronically now. Some share them with friends and colleagues. Some papers are already under review at peer-reviewed journals. And some are posted on personal websites or in institutional repositories. But the vast majority are not available outside the room of the conference.

Technology — and social organization — now allow us to improve on this process dramatically. That paper can be posted on an open-access paper server and shared much more widely (see instructions for SocArXiv here). Other panelists and colleagues who are attending the conference can read the paper before the session, maybe commenting, or deciding to attend the session and be part of the conversation. Other researchers can learn from the work and respond, too. Members of the actual public can see what’s going on and respond. In short, the research can come out of its shell.

ASA2016: Tag, share, build community

When you submit your paper at SocArXiv.org, you get a permanent URL. If you put this on your slides and handouts at the conference, interested readers get to your work immediately. Further, when you tag your paper with the ASA2016 tag (very simple instructions here), anyone can browse over and read it. Tag with your session number (tell your fellow panelists!) or a tag for your department, working group, or Twitter hashtag. Build your community, widen the circle, promote inclusivity, make your work matter more.

Worries

Here are some common concerns about posting conference papers, with responses:

What if the paper isn’t ready, or is wrong?

It is understood that these are usually not “final” versions of the paper. In fact, the conference rules require it, forbidding papers that have been “published prior to the meeting or accepted for publication before being submitted to organizers for consideration.” But you are already presenting it to the people who are most likely to see and care about its flaws: other researchers at the conference. Widening the circle may be worrying or intimidating, but that’s part of what you’re trying to do. We believe the benefits (to the researcher and public) outweigh the risks. Of course, if you have errors in the paper you want to find that out as soon as possible and get it right. Being wrong now is part of the normal workflow — being wrong later can be a major problem.

What if someone steals my ideas?

The program at the conference is good for stamping your work as your own. It’s a recognized form of notification for the academic community. But it doesn’t actually include the content of the paper. Posting the paper on a public server, time-stamped for all to see, is even better protection, especially for junior scholars. Of course, bad people can do bad things, but they probably are already. And with a public, citable version, at least you have the norms of the profession on your side if any dispute arises. As our Center for Open Science partner Jeff Spies pointed out, finding a like-minded scholar early in the process gets you a collaborator — finding them later gets you a competitor.

What if posting my paper discourages a journal from publishing it?

No respectable journal prohibits publishing papers that have been shared in working-paper form (and the ASA rule cited above doesn’t prohibit sharing in this form). The conference presentation is already public, it’s just public in a much less open and inclusive way. When you subsequently publish the paper, you can update the version on SocArXiv, and provide a link to the journal version. The link you receive with your submission is permanent and will always take people to the current version of the paper. (For specific journal policies, check out the RoMEO database.) And of course you can remove it from the archive if you choose.

Open is your friend

We have already written some more about why posting your paper to SocArXiv is a good idea, for you and your research, and the wider community. By using what (to the user) is pretty simply technology, we can make our work better, faster, and more engaging. We hope you will try it out.

At the conference, display the Where’s Your Paper? SocArXiv button to let people know you posted yours (or support those who did). And come to the 13th Annual ASA Blog Get-Together & SocArXiv Party: Sunday, Aug 21 from 4pm-7pm, at The Pine Box Bar (1600 Melrose Ave, Seattle).

The conversation gets better when someone says, “Where’s your paper?” and the answer is: “Here.”

The server is open now in a temporary, preliminary form. We want to hear from as many people as possible about what they need from an open archive. And we need people to get involved as moderators, reviewers, and volunteers to build the organization.

Tag research on SocArXiv to create communities of scholarship

Now that SocArXiv has a quick-and-easy email drop set up for you to upload papers, it’s time to start thinking about how the system can improve the quality and impact of our scholarship. Even with this very simple (for the user) technology, we can already facilitate enhanced collaboration among scholars and public sharing of scholarship — and when those two goals are met together, it is to the benefit of both.

Here’s one way: tagging papers.

I don’t have to tell you that hashtags on Twitter and other social media platforms have proven to be an effective tool for rapidly organizing many people around key ideas and events. We can use the same concept on SocArXiv, using the simple tools already provided by the Open Science Framework (OSF). Now you can upload a paper, essay, bibliography, dataset, code, or any other research product (assuming you have the right to distribute it), and tag it, allowing instant discovery and sharing among scholars and the public simultaneously.* When different people use the same tag, they and their work are brought together for themselves and others to see and share.

Here’s how.

First, the instructions for uploading a paper. These are copied from the SocArXiv upload page.

Send an email to the following address(es) from the email account you would like used on the OSF:

The format of the email should be as follows:

Subject
Preprint Title
Message body
Preprint abstract
Attachment
Your preprint file (e.g., .docx, PDF, etc.)

Once sent, we will follow-up by sending you the permanent identifier that others can use to cite your work; you can also login and make changes, such as uploading additional files, to your project at that URL. If you didn’t have an OSF account, one will be created automatically and a link to set your password will be emailed to you; if you do, we will simply create a new project in your account. By creating an account you agree to our Terms and that you have read our Privacy Policy, including our information on Cookie Use.

It’s very simple, free, and takes just a couple minutes.

Your paper is now a project, in OSF parlance. When you click on the link provided, you see the page for the project, which includes a link to the paper. If you are the project owner, you can now add tags.

Here’s the project for my paper on race and genetics. As a SocArXiv submission, it is automatically tagged with socarxiv and Preprint (note that, unlike on Twitter, these tags are case sensitive). See how I have added the tags scientific racism, genetics, and race.

tags1

Now if you click on that tag, you will see all the OSF files that have the race tag, like this:

tags2

This shows a list of 11 items with the race tag from across the OSF. If this were your group’s tag, and you wanted to share it with other scholars, journalists, or the public, you could give them the link to this page:

https://osf.io/search/?q=(tags:%22race%22)

You can narrow your search by clicking on one of the tags associated with race, which are listed under “Improve your search.” For example, if you want to limit the search to SocArXiv papers that use race, you click on the socarxiv tag, and get this URL:

https://osf.io/search/?q=(tags:"race")%20AND%20tags:("socarxiv")

You can similarly tag your supplemental materials added as “components” (see the Add Component button above), including data and code, which you can story on OSF or other file sharing services.

Scholarship communities

This simple tagging tool allows for relatively spontaneous grouping of scholarship, as when someone says, “We need to organize the recent work on police violence,” and people start uploading and tagging their work. But it just as well facilitates more organized efforts. Just as such groupings use Twitter hashtags to pull people together, we can do the same thing with scholarship using SocArxiv and the Open Science Framework. Groups that might benefit from this tool include:

  • Working groups on a research topic
  • Panels for an upcoming conference
  • Departments or groups within departments
  • Sections of the American Sociological Association or others
  • Scholar-activist groups

Any such group can simply share the instructions above and notify participants of the associated tag.

In this early stage, we are just developing the tools and standards for the site. This simple functionality is already very powerful, but we are looking for ways to improve it and offer more options. People trying it out now will help with this development process. We hope you’ll consider it. And if you want to be involved with the development of SocArXiv, sign up for updates by emailing socarxiv@gmail.com.

* Note also that you are not limited to not-yet-published work. If your work is published in a journal that allows posting of preprints, you can post your author-submitted version on the server. The RoMEO database can tell you the preprint policy for many journals.

Why you should post your papers to SocArXiv

 

why-socarxiv

By Elizabeth Popp Berman

Academia.edu. ResearchGate. Your personal website. You have lots of options for posting your preprints online. Why should you upload them to SocArXiv?

Because you want them to reach people, and because you believe in open access to social science.

You know that posting your work online can extend its audience—to academic peers, journalists, and the wider public—by getting it out from behind journal paywalls. But papers at a personal website aren’t always picked up by academic search engines, and they lack the metadata to maximize your visibility.

And new corporate intermediaries are trying to insert themselves between your research and others’ ability to read it. Uploading to sites like Academia and ResearchGate will reach some of your colleagues. But not every researcher has (or wants) an account, and they’re not designed to provide access to the broader public.

More importantly, while they provide a free service now, these are for-profit enterprises that have to find a way to monetize the content you provide—your research. Academia, for example, recently floated the idea of asking users to pay “a small fee” for papers to be “considered” for recommendation by peers. Expanding access to knowledge is not these companies’ primary mission.

The last couple of years have seen smaller endeavors—first Mendeley, and now the Social Science Research Network (SSRN)—swallowed up by Elsevier, the 800-pound gorilla of for-profit academic publishing. With a trend toward consolidation and a drive to make money, these sites do not have the best interest of social science in mind.

SocArXiv: the open-source alternative

SocArXiv is the noncommercial, open-source alternative to this enclosure of the commons. Uploading your papers to SocArXiv provides a fast, simple way to make your work available and discoverable to the widest possible audience—while also linking you to an emerging community of social scientists and a rapidly developing set of research tools.

We won’t spam everyone (or anyone) you’ve ever met with requests to sign up. And through our link with the Open Science Framework, you’ll also be able to upload data, code, documentation, presentations, and any other files related to your research, and have the option of inviting comments and discussion of your work.

Using SocArXiv is good for you. But it’s also good for social science. Developed in collaboration with the Center for Open Science (COS), SocArXiv’s sole mission is to maximize access to social science and improve its quality. And because we’re noncommercial, we can keep service to social science at the heart of our mission.

In addition, the partnership between SocArXiv and COS means that archiving preprints is just the beginning. COS, home of the Reproducibility Project in psychology, provides free, open-access tools to support data sharing, project collaboration, and pre-registration of studies. As it grows, SocArXiv also plans to develop peer review options, support research communities, and public open-access electronic journals. Like COS, we want individual incentives for researchers to align better with good scientific practices.

How do I start?

Getting started is quick and easy. As we roll out, we have implemented a temporary process for collecting papers. Take five minutes to follow these three easy steps and help us reach a critical mass:

  1. Email socarxiv-Preprint@osf.io from your primary email address.
  2. The subject of the email should be your paper title. The body of the email should be your abstract. Attach the paper as a pdf, Word document, or other file.
  3. Hit send.

That’s it. An Open Science Framework account will be created for you, and your paper will show up here at the temporary site. If you want, you can add tags to make it easier to find. When the full site rolls out, your paper will automatically be included.

You can upload any documents or files you have not specifically signed away rights to share. This includes conference papers, working papers, datasets and code. For most journals, you have the right to post a preprint—and sometimes the published version—of a publication. SocArXiv will track multiple versions of papers, so readers see the most up-to-date while a historical record is retained.

Concerned about journal restrictions? RoMEO maintains an extensive list of journal copyright policies that will reassure you. In sociology, for example:

  • The American Journal of Sociology allows archiving of both preprints and final published versions, as do open-access journals like Sociological Science and Socius.
  • Other ASA journals, including the American Sociological Review, the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Psychology Quarterly, Sociological Methodology, Sociological Theory, Sociology of Education, allow preprint posting with a link to the published version.
  • A wide range of journals in which sociologists publish, including Administrative Science Quarterly, Criminology, Demography, Gender and Society, Journal of Marriage and Family, Politics and Society, Social Forces, Social Problems, Socio-Economic Review, Sociological Forum, Theory and Society, and many others, have similar policies.

Imagine if anyone, inside or outside academia, had access to all your research, and could reach it through a simple open web search. Social science doesn’t have to be walled off. Help us make open access a reality. Add your research to SocArXiv.


Visit SocArXiv.org for more information or to sign up for updates. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook. To make a tax-deductible contribution to SocArXiv through the University of Maryland, visit:http://go.umd.edu/SocArXiv.