Interview with a Lingua author

lingua-thumbNear the end of last year, the entire editorial board of Lingua, a prestigious linguistics journal published by Elsevier, resigned in protest of the publisher’s policies. This has resulted in a storm of news about the journal, including voices of support for the new journal Glossa and calls for the cancellation of Lingua. When I saw that someone I knew was an author on an article in the so-called Zombie Lingua, I had to know more about the experience of the authors while this turnover was happening.

My colleague (hereafter C), as it turned out, had no idea that the editorial board had resigned until I asked about it. C, who has asked to remain anonymous beyond the fact that they are an author currently living in Brazil, shared their responses to some of my questions. I have been given permission to reprint their responses below.


Lauren:  C, your experience with Lingua is so important. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

C:    To be quite honest, I wasn’t aware of the editorial board’s resignation until you brought it up. I had already been feeling quite annoyed with Elsevier’s policies.

Lauren:    No kidding? This was super public, I can’t believe that Lingua didn’t at least tell you!

C: It didn’t! After you told me, of course, I looked it up and found several articles commenting on it. I immediately supported the board’s decision when I found out it was due to the absurd pricing the publishing house practices.

Lauren: When did you submit your article to them?

C:  This was a volume organized by Guest Editors. It was first submitted in mid-2014. I mostly dealt with only Guest Editors. They had the contact with the journal. I only dealt directly with Lingua for the final stages before printing.

Lauren:  What drew you to submit to Lingua specifically?

C:  So that was the Guest Editors’ decision. This is a thematic volume, and it came out after a very productive conference. It seems Lingua is quite open to publishing special issues, and I guess that’s what drove the decision to publish with them.

Lauren: You said your contact with Elsevier and Lingua was only at the final stages. When did they first contact you?

C: That was in the beginning of November 2015. (ha! quite at the hype of the whole story!)

Lauren: Wow! What were they contacting you about?

C:  About all the bureaucratic part: publishing agreement, rights and access.

Lauren: And it seems that Elsevier kept you in the dark about the editorial board.

C: Well, pretty much! This story didn’t circulate much in Brazil. But this is probably due to the fact that authors here don’t really try to publish with major international journals, except for a few researchers.

Lauren: Regarding the agreement and the access options, what was your experience like with that process?

C:  My experience until then had been mostly publishing in journals in my home country, Brazil, which are all open access. When I read the agreement and the access policy (publishing rights are held by Elsevier, access is paid for), I was displeased. I truly believe open access and widespread circulation of ideas should be the main model in the academic world. My research (and that of many colleagues) is funded with public governmental money, and that knowledge is for everyone. This is different from commercial authorship.

I was just talking to my spouse about how our work resembles 19th century factory work… We produce and don’t have access to our own production, because we’re not the factory owners, so to say!

Lauren: It’s so true! What a great metaphor!

C:  Maybe it’s not just a metaphor: this is exactly what Marx describes. All the profit goes to whoever holds the means of production – in this case, distribution. In the many articles I read about Lingua‘s editorial board, someone said that researchers write the articles, they peer-review for free, they have all the work of selecting what should be published, the whole thing, and the profit goes to the major publishing houses. But the stellar reputation of some journals comes from the researchers.

Lauren: You mentioned that authors that you know do not really try to publish with major international journals. Can you elaborate – why is that?

C: There are a number of factors, including reasons outside the editorial world. A lot don’t master English well enough to elaborate an article in that language. You can think of it as another hindrance in the article manufacturing process: having to pay for someone to translate or review your paper increases the cost of publishing, so it’s just easier to publish in journals in your own language.

There are also cultural differences in how to report the results. It’s not just about knowing English, but having the article in the correct format for publishing “outside” – the whole “Objectives-Methodology-Results-Discussion” format.

In the past decade, we have had a lot of incentive to broaden the scope of our publication. There are a lot of sides to it. On the one hand, we’ve seen a major increase in public funding for universities and increased possibilities to participate in international conferences, for instance. That type of policy enables researchers to make international contacts and thus have greater opportunities to report their results to a greater audience.

During the past decade, there has also been great effort to make the transition between paper and digital printing, and in that process, there was a great incentive to make all of the journals open access. From a colleague of mine who works at a federal funding agency, this was partially motivated to make journal articles available to undergraduate students, and to motivate them to follow an academic career.

You can imagine that, being an underdeveloped country (yea, ‘underdeveloped’ is the right word, I don’t like euphemisms…), investment on education has been historically a struggle, and only now a number of young people can have access to college education. It’s a very different reality from Europe and the US, I guess. Here, the top universities are public (and most private universities are all for profit and do practically no research). So it makes a whole lot of sense that the results of publicly funded research should be open access. That is not to say we have not gone into the whole ‘publish or perish’ craze. There’s a new academic journal every other day here. Maybe this will be a step for our researchers to also start publishing in international journals, but this other side is still shy.

Lauren: What could a new journal in this field, for instance Glossa which was started by the former editors of Lingua, do to help overcome those barriers and encourage publication from more people in situations like yours and your colleagues’?

C: There has to be some kind of policy for non-native English speakers to publish more often in international journals. Even though we’re linguists and we know there’s no such thing as “right” or “wrong” in language use, and we know language variation is part of it, a lot of papers written by non-natives end up being discriminated due to unorthodox language uses, perhaps due to simple spelling mistakes or unusual syntactic structures. Even though the paper may have a solid methodology and interesting results, it’s considered “weak” due to form and not content – pretty much the same way speakers of certain varieties are considered “ignorant”, “lazy” and the like just for not using a standard variety. I understand scientific language as a genre has its conventions (and it has different conventions in different cultures), and it takes a lot of experience in a certain milieu to really start grasping those unspoken rules.

Editors could instruct reviewers to try and focus on content, and if the article is not clear or good enough due to language issues, reviewers should point these out separately. Having more natives from underdeveloped countries in the editorial board could also help overcome such cultural barriers — and not only non-native English speakers affiliated to North American and European universities, but also affiliated to institutions in underdeveloped countries as well. And some kind of “cultural quota” would not be a bad idea, say, publishing at least two articles of researchers affiliated to a non-North American/European university per issue. I know the whole quota debate is controversial and that it is contested even by groups who would benefit from such policy, but there are a lot of studies showing that quotas in the job market and quotas regarding access to undergraduate and graduate courses in the university work! They promote diversity, they help to empower underprivileged groups and to narrow the gap between “the ones who can” and “the ones who can’t” – all of which are part of the open access philosophy.



Thank you, C, for agreeing to let me post your experience and your ideas for helping to foster publication from scholars outside of North America and Europe.

Interrogating a Job Posting: Scholarly Publishing Specialist

This is a post in a series for linguists about how to read library-related job postings. I link to a job posting, copy the text, and annotate my comments in [blue brackets].  Please note that I am not a representative of this employer and that my analysis of their job posting may not reflect the employer’s precise thoughts on the job. This is for illustration only to show how I, as a potential job seeker, would view a posting like this and apply my knowledge and experience to the description and requirements. 

Scholarly Publishing Specialist – Purdue University


 Contributes to the innovative and collaborative environment of the Purdue University Libraries (2015 ACRL Excellence in University Libraries Award Winner). Has a passion for Scholarly Communications [that is, disseminating and sharing the products of scholarly research] and keeps abreast of the latest trends and best practices, especially in Open Access [making scholarship free to read and use, usually against the wishes of major publishers]. Contributes significantly to the success of colleagues and projects in Scholarly Publishing and Purdue University Press. Advocates for Open Access and Open Publishing at Purdue [spreads the word about the programs and shows how the program benefits various stakeholders at the university]. Engages with faculty to explore best solutions for digital publication and preservation of all their work [helps faculty organize and save their stuff], leveraging evolving technologies for increasing global access to and discovery of Purdue research and scholarship [nerds out about new technologies and resources for sharing scholarship in lots of different outlets]. Imagines new opportunities for digital humanities, altmetrics [‘alternative metrics’ which show a work’s impact beyond the traditional measures of citation counts], and digital publishing to increase the impact of scholarship. Promotes a comprehensive view of the Libraries’ scholarly communications and publishing resources, for researchers on campus [tells people about all of the opportunities available to them through the library]. Collaborates with other areas of excellence in the Libraries (e.g., data management, digital humanities, and disciplinary liaisons) [you will bring your knowledge and expertise in academic publishing to different kinds of librarians who do different kinds of work]. Serves as a primary contact [person who can translate library services to academic needs] within Scholarly Publishing Services, for faculty, users, disciplinary liaisons, and technology partners (i.e., vendors) [you’ll be trying to figure out how academics can make use of new software tools that the library wants to get for them]. Coordinates and monitors the development and use of Purdue e-Pubs, Purdue’s institutional text repository [this is an institutional archive, or repository, where the research products of Purdue scholars are stored and shared; sometimes these are opt-in and sometimes they are automatic. this is something to ask more about]. Advances the understanding of, access to, and synergies with data and archival repositories [you’ll need to know where scholars can put their data and store their papers, and understand the mistakes they make when doing this] as well as all Scholarly Publishing Services, Purdue University Press, University Copyright Office and other units in the Purdue Libraries [you’ll get to talk to other librarians and units across the campus, get to know what they do, and involve them when appropriate].



  • Master’s degree. [in anything, it seems]
  • One year of communications, library, or related experience (e.g., publishing, media, marketing, scholarship etc.). [if you’ve written a scholarly paper and submitted it for publication, reviewed for a journal, helped edit a journal, even wrote a book review, this is relevant experience!]
  • Demonstrated, advanced written and verbal communication skills. [as a graduate student or a faculty member, you have a ton of experience here]
  • Excellent prioritization and project management skills. [if you can coordinate being on committees, writing your dissertation, and teaching a class, you have developed these skills]
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively, in a fast-paced environment [basically, grad school]. Strong analytical and decision making skills. [demonstrate that you can evaluate different things and decide between them. this can be anything from theories to statistical methods to field sites]
  • Ability to lift and carry 10-25 pounds frequently and 40 pounds occasionally. [to be honest, this probably won’t actually come up, this is usually a field that they are required to put in by the HR department]


  • Master’s degree in Library and/or Information Science or in a related field (i.e., communication, marketing, English). [Linguistics is definitely a related field]
  • Three to five years of professional experience. [How long have you been in graduate school or a faculty position?]
  • Experience with or knowledge of institutional repositories and/or digital publishing platforms. [You read journals, certainly. You search for them in databases. You probably have published in a journal or proceedings. A few minutes of research about your own institution will tell you if they have an institutional repository or not. If you had to create an ETD (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation), it probably went in a repository.]
  • Knowledge of issues related to intellectual property, Open Access, and copyright. [Did you have to get permissions to use figures? Have you ever run into a paywall? Do you know what a Creative Commons license is?]
  • Ability to create and deliver effective presentations for outreach and training. [If you have ever taught a class or delivered a lecture, you have experience here. ]
  • Ability to interact with faculty, staff and students across the disciplines and of diverse backgrounds. [Skills gained in committees, student groups, or teaching contexts can be relevant here.]
  • Ability to plan, execute, and, document effective practices, projects, services, and policies related to institutional repository and digital platform management. [If you have executed a research study and gone through the IRB, you have the skills that can apply here.]
  • Deep understanding of strategic communication and advanced interpersonal skills. [Linguists know ALL about strategic communication and interpersonal skills. Gricean Maxims anyone?]
  • Understanding of the core principles persuasive writing, marketing, advocacy and outreach. [This is the time to showcase your advocacy for linguistics or your particular subfield. ]

Additional Information: [Much of this will be explained to you if offered the job.]

  • A background check will be required for employment in this position.
  • FLSA: Exempt (Not Eligible For Overtime) [This means you should get a regular schedule with defined working hours.]
  • Retirement Eligibility: Defined Contribution Waiting Period. [You will have a 401k or equivalent and the University will chip in after a set amount of time that you work for them.]
  • Purdue University is an EOE/AA employer. All individuals, including minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. [Be ready to demonstrate how you bring diversity to the workplace.]


#LSA2016 wrap-up

For the first time in years, I attended the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America.

Also for the first time, I spent more time during a conference in meetings and networking than I did in talks.

So here is a quick wrap-up of some of the things I was involved in and some highlights for me:

How to LSA introduction with Eric Potsdam

I helped kick off the LSA this year with an orientation session that I co-hosted with Eric Potsdam. Because of our difference in interests and fields, I probably never would have had a chance to talk to Eric, and for this alone I’m happy to have done this session. We tag-teamed to introduce newcomers to the LSA meeting to the important parts of the handbook and give advice about things to do and things to not do. A practical upshot of this was that suddenly all of the new people at the LSA became my instant friend, and they were able to recognize me throughout the conference. I was approached with questions, with smiles, with ideas, and this was quite wonderful. I felt like I had a couple hundred new best friends.

Advocacy Day

Much like my experience at OpenCon in 2014, I participated in Advocacy Day for the LSA. I met with staff of my two senators, Bob Casey and Patrick Toomey, and staff of my representative, Mike Doyle. I’d been to Congressman Doyle’s office with OpenCon in 2014, so this was familiar. Senator Toomey had mini smiley cookies from Eat ‘n Park in his office, and all of them had relics from their homes in Pennsylvania. I had good meetings with everyone, talking about linguistics research going on in Pennsylvania. Today, I followed up with e-mails thanking them for their time and sharing more information about our discussions. I hope this is the beginning of in-roads with politicians for the sharing of important social science work. If you’re in PA, particularly if you’re in the Pittsburgh area, and you do social science work, please feel free to send me any press releases about interesting research developments you’re involved with. I’d be happy to pass them along to my contacts in the offices there.

Committee on Scholarly Communications in Linguistics

This is a new committee and I’d only talked to these folks via the Internet previously. It was great to meet in person and talk about things like DOIs, data citation, and standards for sharing data. There are so many new avenues to pursue out there that I’m very glad to be involved in this committee for the LSA. It’s also a nice connection to my day job.

Linguists Beyond Academia Special Interest Group

This SIG was formed last year and I am thrilled to be part of it. I’m still technically in academia, but doing something a bit different from the traditional tenure track faculty job. We held a salon, which was a semi-structured event designed to get people introduced to each other and talking about common interests, and a mixer, which was a more traditional networking event. I got the chance to talk to so many people who were interested in libraries and relate my story of how I’m qualified to work in the library and how my linguistics training helps. Lots of ideas were shared and in our official SIG meeting, we developed a plan to address some of these great ideas. I’m looking forward to great things from this group.

Word of the Year 2015

If you haven’t heard yet, the American Dialect Society named singular they as the 2015 Word of the Year. I was there for the nominations as well as the voting, which are always some of the most exciting times at this conference. These events certainly generate the most press! I can say that I’m very happy with the WOTY for 2015, and I’m personally a they-user on Facebook. I have supported singular they for a long time in writing, as many of my students will attest, and so I am delighted by this. I’m still not sure that it really represents something about 2015, but I’m glad it’s getting some attention. Here is an article on the topic for those interested: Time Magazine: “This Pronoun Is the Word of the Year for 2015”

Open Linguistics Textbook 

This was relegated to some chatter on the side at a Starbucks, but I’m perhaps more excited about this than many other things! Stay tuned!

The Association for Linguistic Evidence 

I participated in a couple of sessions for TALE, one of which was a panel on outreach to stakeholders of linguistic evidence. I discussed scholarly publishing, and how locking the work of ours behind a paywall is really counter to the mission of outreach. Everyone in the room was very receptive, although when I described how the monetary aspect of scholarly publishing works, I saw a few eyes go wide. Yes, people, the publishers profit off of our freely given labor and then charge our employers to access the results of our work. Amazing, right? The talk was very successful and I had a good time interacting with the other panelists and hearing questions and thoughts from the audience. It was also nice to connect with colleagues.

John Rickford’s Presidential Address

The fact that John Rickford decided to talk about applications of linguistics in the courtroom was a gamechanger for this LSA. Outreach is so important, and his illustrations from the Trayvon Martin case were horrible; I hope they opened the eyes and the minds of everyone present. Rickford urging us to “get off our linguistic asses” and do public engagement resonated through the crowd. I really hope this year sees a sea change for this in the field, and I could say that I was there when it began.


Did you attend the LSA? What were your impressions? What did you enjoy the most?

My Experience: Negotiation and Conflict Resolution MOOC

I’m taking this course from Open2Study, an online learning platform, titled “Negotiation and Conflict Resolution,” which is offered from Dr. Andrew Heys at Macquarie University. The course is four weeks long and I joined two weeks late (oops), so I’ve had some catching up to do. In the past two days, I’ve completed the first week of the class.

In the first week (or 2 days, for me), I’ve learned about ways of thinking about conflicts and negotiations. The topic I was most familiar with was framing, since this is a direct corrolary to the idea of framing in linguistics. Most interesting so fa, for me, has been the discussion of two different approaches to negotiation. These two approaches depend on the kind of resources or outcome involved.

The first is a distributive negotiation, where there are a finite number of resources that must be allocated — everybody gets a ‘piece of the pie,’ so to speak. The other is an integrative negotiation, in which there is no ‘fixed pie’ of resources. In an integrative negotiation, there may be a kind of complex relationship to map out. Dr. Heys uses an example of two scholars who share a team of researchers. Scholar Joe is methodical and has a lot of long-term projects that require diligent attention of the research team. Scholar Ann has a number of flash insights or quick projects that require a lot of attention by the research team for a short period of time. In a distributive negotiation, one might conceive of the time of the researchers as a fixed pie – there are 4 of them who each work 25 hours per week, for example, and that would be 100 hours of research to split between Joe and Ann. That does not exactly work the best for this situation, since Joe and Ann have different needs at different times, so splitting the hours – when Ann might need all 100 in two days and none the rest of the time – is not the best approach for this negotiation. So in this case, an integrative negotiation may work, and Ann and Joe need to figure out how to expand their perceptions of the resources available. This may take the form of one of the researchers being better suited to Ann’s type of work, and so Ann has access to this researcher first, and Joe will only assign her projects that can be done at any time instead of requiring diligent, methodical attention.

I’m an out-of-the-box thinker generally, and I’m always trying to find other ways to solve problems. I’m never satisfied with “your half, my half” type of agreements except where they make sense. I like for things to work together as a system. That lends itself well to the integrative style of negotiation, but this course has given me a few ideas for ways to frame negotiations to better reflect this style.

A few notes about the platform to end this post – Open2Study is a nice platform with embedded YouTube videos, an interactive transcript, and a comment section underneath each video that looks to be the same for each module of the course. Each video is followed by a quick quiz which requires thoughtful consideration for each of the responses. Each module ends with an assessment of 10 questions in this class, and (at least for this course) the assessment was actually somewhat difficult and required a good mastery of the topics.

I also like how Open2Study has a personal ‘classroom’ for the user that shows you where you need to go and what’s up next in your classes. This is very helpful to keep track of things. The only drawback that I’ve found is that there is no available mechanism to speed up the videos. I like to listen to the videos at 1.5x speed, but that is not an option here because they are using embedded YouTube videos. While this does make me slow down and listen, I also regret not having the option available when I get to familiar content.

So that ends my first report about this course. I’ll check in again at the end of the course and share how the rest of the 4-week MOOC went.

Open Access Week in Pittsburgh wrap-up

OAlogoWow, what an Open Access Week! There were so many great events going on around the globe, but I want to share my wrap-up of our activities here at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

We kicked off our celebration a week early on October 15th with a lecture from Dr. Sheila Corrall of Pitt’s iSchool. Her talk, entitled The Open Movement in Higher Education, was a broad overview of where the Open Movement started, where it went, and where it is going. I got a lot out of this talk. There is a recording available if you want to watch it yourself!

The marquee event at Pitt, co-sponsored by CMU, was a panel discussion on Open Peer Review entitled In Broad Daylight: Innovation and Transparency in Peer Review. Our esteemed panel included: Brandon Stell of PubPeer, Larry Kane representing the University of Pittsburgh and F1000 Research, Lenny Teytelman of, and Josh Nicholson from The Winnower. Our panel was moderated by Jackie Smith, Professor of Sociology at Pitt and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of World-Systems Research (and also a friend of the library). Besides a really great session, I also had the privilege of showing our panelists around the University (including our beautiful Cathedral of Learning) and having two meals with them. I was able to participate in so many excellent conversations about many different topics, and I think that was the highlight of the week for me. A recording of our panel presentation is available here.

Carnegie Mellon hosted two presentations by Francine Berman of the Research Data Alliance on the need for a healthy ecosystem for data stewardship, preservation, and use. We’re still in the process of getting the presentation materials uploaded, but stay tuned to the following links for more information:
Got Data? Building a Sustainable Ecosystem for Data Driven Research
The Research Data Alliance: Building Community and Infrastructure for Data Sharing World-wide

2015-10-21 17.18.17

“Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh” by Lauren B. Collister, CC-BY

Finally, I participated during the week as well. I gave a talk for the local chapter of the Special Libraries Association which was attended by librarians from all types of libraries, including public libraries, corporate libraries, academic libraries. Inspired by the library ethos of “Free to the People,” the idea behind my talk was to present different ideas for small steps that librarians of all kinds can take to being more open. We had a fantastic discussion and several new links were made among participants. I also had a really great time learning about particular challenges faced by different kinds of libraries. If you’d like to view the presentation materials, here is the record of my talk “Open for All: Embracing Open in Your Library”.

Believe it or not, we have ONE MORE event to go: The Colloquium on Open Data and Research Futures. This will be this Thursday, October 29, at the Mellon Institute Library at Carnegie Mellon and will be a discussion of the role of Open Data in the future of research. For more information about the event, click here.

That concludes my wrap-up of Open Access Week in Pittsburgh! How was your OA Week?

Troll around in WoW with us for a great cause


Running of the Trolls Banner by Arcane Ratsel

Hello, faithful blog followers. I am here to promote a fantastic event that I am helping to organize: the first annual Running of the Trolls!

What is this? Well, it’s a charity event to benefit the Trevor Project. Unlike many other charity events, however, there is no cost of entry, and the entire thing takes place digitally in the online game World of Warcraft.

How do I participate? Easy, just join us in WoW at 9PM EST on June 27th. Create yourself a level 1 troll character with brightly colored hair of your choice, and join a whole horde (get it?!) of others for a race across the virtual countryside. For more information on participation, including what server to join and what to do if you’re not a current WoW player, check out this post.

Is it really a race? Not really. Mostly, if you get to the end without dying (or even after dying a few times, because in WoW death is not permanent), you’re considered a winner.

How do you raise money? This isn’t just an excuse to hang out in WoW with some awesome people. We also have a fundraising page for the event. Our goal is $1,000 USD for the Trevor Project! A lot of people pledge a certain amount of money for each person that shows up. (We recommend in the cents range to keep within your budget, as over 1300 people showed up at one previous event!)

What is the Trevor Project anyway? The Trevor Project is a nonprofit that focuses on suicide prevention for LGBT youth. They have an amazing helpline, including telephone, chat, and text message. They also have incredible resources on their site to help anyone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts or who is looking to support a friend or loved one in need.

If you need help with suicidal thoughts, please contact the Trevor Project. Their phone line for those in the US is 1-866-488-7386.
You can also get help online in the US or elsewhere

Where can I get more information? Follow our Tumblr for updates. You can also follow the Running of the Gnomes Facebook page! (This page is for our October event to raise money for the Tuohy Breast Cancer Vaccine.)

Who do I contact for help? You can post on the Facebook page or tweet @Dravvie or @parnopaeus with questions!

New Article: LOL through the ages.

Today another article of mine is out in The Conversation, entitled “How do you haha? LOL through the ages.”

Published under a CC-BY-ND license, it is now also in the Washington Post under the headline “The surprisingly long, unfunny history of LOL.”

Looking for an outlet to write something along these lines? I cannot recommend The Conversation enough for this. The editor I’ve worked with, Nick, has been helpful and always interested in the topics I’m writing on, and he is always updating me on the new places that my articles are picked up. This is a nice way to get exposure with little pressure and generous deadlines.

How CC-BY-ND worked for my article and gave me a lot of great opportunities

The header of my article in The Conversation.

The header of my article in The Conversation.

Back in early March, I received an e-mail from my graduate school advisor referring me to a call from an online magazine called The Conversation for linguists who can write about language in texting, including emoticons and symbols. Nothing else could have been more in my research wheelhouse than that, so I was excited to take the opportunity to talk about this fascinating area of research for a general audience.

A few e-mails of introduction later, I was working on a draft of an article incorporating years of research into emoticons and symbols — the research on emoticons done by other people, and symbols mostly by myself. Most of this information was gained from my graduate school work on my Master’s Thesis and Dissertation, so it was fairly easy to put it all together. The Conversation had a great interface for doing this kind of work, and I really enjoyed working with my editor, Nick Lehr, who put images and captions to add flair to my article and helped me clean up the language. (Thanks Nick!)

Ultimately, on April 6th, the article was published under a CC-BY-ND license. I was proud of the final product and shared it on social media.


The header of my article in Quartz.

Then, the article started to be picked up. Because of the CC license and its settings, I had already given my consent to have the article re-published in other places as long as it was attributed to me (and it was not changed). That meant that it could be freely republished without my knowledge. The next thing I knew, the article was in Quartz and the New Republic. They all changed the headline slightly, but most of them complied fairly closely with the original.

The header of my article in the New Republic.

The header of my article in the New Republic.

I guess people all over the world like to read about emoticons, because with my permission (because the ND part of the license does not allow for derivatives), the German website Netzpiloten translated my article into German and republished it too. This is a particularly interesting experience for me because I only know very rudimentary German, having more experience in Dutch, so reading my own article is education for me too. Additionally, I’m getting tweets in German from readers, which I unfortunately cannot always answer because my command of the language is just not very good.

My article in Netzpiloten

My article in Netzpiloten

That was not the end of the story about this article, though. It turned out that the spread of the article meant that more people read it, which led to further opportunities for me to talk about this research and have it reach more people.

To my surprise, last week I got a call from KPCC, the Southern California NPR station, mentioning that they had read my article in Quartz and asking if I wanted to appear on their show Air Talk. It was my first time on the radio and I was really nervous (more about that in a separate post), but ultimately I had a great conversation with host Larry Mantle, fellow guest and linguist Tyler Schnoebelen, and several callers about the way English is changing to accommodate technology. You can listen to the recording here. Now I’ve been contacted by another radio station for another appearance — after they read my article in the New Republic! Stay tuned for more information about that one — hopefully I’ll get more information about that later today.

If it hadn’t been originally licensed with a Creative Commons license, it’s unlikely that my article would have spread to those outlets, and then I would never have gotten these radio appearances. Those producers of the radio station saw the re-published articles, not the original, which has made this all possible. This is another real-world example of how the Creative Commons licenses can benefit your work by having it be shareable and republishable in different outlets.

Article at The Conversation

I wrote a little article about emoticons, symbols, and other fun things in Online English for The Conversation. The article has also been picked up by the New Republic, as part of the magic of Creative Commons licenses.

In many casual discussions of language and the internet, it’s not uncommon to hear about how such “textspeak ruins language” – how technology has made everybody lazy with their speech and writing. Major media outlets such as the LA Times, the BBC and The Daily Mail have all bemoaned the ways in which people communicate through technology.

Of course, language does change when it’s used to text or write messages on the internet. It’s even become the focus of the field of linguistics known as Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC). Although it specifies computers in its name, CMC refers to the study of interaction facilitated by technology like computers, mobile phones and tablets.

And contrary to the idea that these innovations are corrupting language, they actually demonstrate a creative repurposing of symbols and marks to a new age of technology. These evolutions of language are swift, clever and context-specific, illustrating the flexibility of the language to communicate nonverbal meaning in a nuanced, efficient manner.

You can read the rest here.

Well, well, look who’s at it again

It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of Elsevier, but this recent round of behavior is abhorrent.

Originally, Ross Mounce shared the story that Elsevier had sold him an article that was originally published Open Access with Wiley and licensed CC-BY-NC-ND. To quote Ross:

The article was originally published online by Wiley. As clearly indicated in the document, the copyright holders are the authors. The work was licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

The terms of this widely used license clearly state: “You may not use the material for commercial purposes.

Wiley respect this license. They make this content freely available on their website here. The authors, or their research funder or institution probably paid Wiley money to make sure that the article could be made freely available to the world.

But tonight, Elsevier were selling it to me and all the world via their ScienceDirect platform.
This is clearly an illegal copyright infringement.

This article was licensed Open Access through a hybrid-style OA agreement, where the author publishes in a subscription journal (in this case, Clinical Microbiology and Infection) and pays a fee to make it Open Access. The author chose to apply a CC-BY-NC-ND — which has the non-commercial clause — to the article.

However, as pointed out in an article at Times Higher Education, a clever clause in the author agreement permits resale of this article:

“Use of Wiley Open Access articles for commercial, promotional, or marketing purposes requires further explicit permission from Wiley and will be subject to a fee”

This made think back to my blog post about the labyrinthine licensing language at the Elsevier Open Access journal Ampersand I went back to check the license agreement, and guess what appears in the “Rights Granted to Elsevier” section?

The exclusive right to publish and distribute an article, and to grant rights to others, including for commercial purposes. (Source.)

Sounds familiar – it’s a very similar clause to what appears in Wiley’s author agreement that makes this behavior legal. It appears that the CC license that you are paying this Open Access journal to apply to your article is only valid for the author and the reader. The publisher has exempted themselves, allowing themselves to make money off of your article — above and beyond what they charge you for making the article open in the first place (whether by a hybrid OA fee or an Article Processing Fee). As Barbara Fister said in her article, “It may be legal, but it isn’t right.”

Ross Mounce has called this whole fiasco the end of Hybrid OA. I think it’s just the beginning, because clearly even the Open Access journals published by Elsevier are a hybrid in some sense of the word. It’s not just the Hybrid OA articles that can receive this treatment, but rather any article published with Elsevier, whether subscription, OA, or hybrid.

These major publishers may be trying to put on a good face for Open Access, but I simply cannot believe that this is a good-faith effort, not with this kind of thing happening over and over again.

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