An article in January 2nd’s Globe and Mail discussed various web tools that universities are using to ‘open the gates of the ivory tower.’ In her article, Elizabeth Church discussed a new search engine launched by Memorial University named Yaffle, which allows community members to search and uncover various Memorial research projects, opportunities for involvement, and learn who is working on what. Another project, by York University, summarizes various research projects into plain english (helped by a poet who holds a Research Assistantship) and places them on the website. The byline of the Knowledge Mobilization site: Turning Research into Action.
Both projects are in their infancy, but they are promising steps towards making research accessible. At York, there is only one summary available under the subject heading of history – Marc Egnal’s recent work on the economic causes of the civil war – but it is a fascinating example.
If you have a chance, please check out the linked Globe & Mail article and play around with the two sites. What are your thoughts, if any?
All the best in the New Year! Hopefully it will be an ‘active’ one.
This is an interesting article about two important tools to link the public to academic research. I did a quick search for history resources on Yaffle and found an extensive list of history projects. Unfortunately Memorial has not posted the research itself. Someone, like myself, interested in Newfoundland History, might try to search for a historian found on Yaffle, such as Sean T. Cadigan, on Google. They would find his articles in the Canadian Historical Review locked away on the Muse database as the first two hits, his somewhat more accessibly priced books from Amazon or Chapters as the second two hits, and a limited preview of one of his books on Google Books on page two. It would be great to see some of this research posted for free on the website along with the project descriptions. Despite this call for more open-access publishing, I do hope that all universities in Canada follow Memorial’s lead and develop Yaffle search engines.
On the topic of open access, I was reading a fascinating blog by Jim Till who is a Professor in the Medical Biophysics Department at the University of Toronto. His blog, “Be Openly Accessible or Be Obscure” has tons of links to working papers and specific information on Open Access journals and such. It focuses on scientific publishing but a lot of the points are applicable to us in the humanities as well. It’s worth a read: http://tillje.wordpress.com/
There have been some baby steps made towards Open Access journals in Canada. Labour/Le Travail and Left History both put articles online behind a rolling firewall. In the case of Left History, for example, we put articles online two years after they have appeared in print (https://pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/lh/issue/archive). York has a Digital Journal publishing project and maintain an Open Journal database, and they have helped the journal facilitate this content (https://pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/ydj).