Cited more often than the norm 
Justin at Daily Nous quotes the statistic that "82 per cent of articles published in humanities are not even cited once." Turning this around, only 18% are cited.

I was curious about how my own papers fared in this regard. Starting with data from Google Scholar and correcting some, 68% of my publications have been cited. One of the corrections was to dismiss articles which were only cited by me in another article. Counting self-citations, the rate jumps to 78%.

In a more self-serving mood, but the quality of my work is only one factor here.

Another factor is that all of my papers are readily available on-line. Once there's a draft worth sharing, I post it to my website. I update it with my final draft once it's accepted for publication, and I continue to make it available. The result is that people who are puttering around on a topic are likely to come across my work, and then they can cite me. This is certainly how forall x, my open-access logic textbook, has come to be cited 11 times. And I have some conference papers and working drafts which have been cited even though they've never been available anywhere but on my website.

In discussions of whether to post papers on-line or not, people underrate the advantages. People who notice my work because it's on-line almost never tell me about, but sometimes they do cite me.

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Ergo, ego 
Ergo, a new open access philosophy journal, recently posted its first issue. It includes a long introductory essay by Franz Huber and Jonathan Weisberg explaining why they think the new journal is important. One reason, they write, is that "By partnering with publishers instead of open access initiatives at university libraries, we effectively give our work over to middlemen from whom libraries must then buy it back."

I have begun to feel this in my own research. When I find a reference to a recent article and my university doesn't get the journal, I stop short. Often I do the work to get my hands on a copy, but sometimes I don't. And scholars all over the world face that same situation. So the article is not read as much and is not as influential as it could be if it were readily available for download.

My recent practice has been to e-mail the author of the paper and ask if they could send me a PDF. The response tends to be friendly and enthusiastic. In some cases, authors hadn't even realized that their paper had finally been published!

To sum up, I am an enthusiastic supporter of open access journals in general and Ergo in particular. So I'm especially pleased that they have accepted my paper Science and rationality for one and all.

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Open fire 
At the Creative Commons blog, there's discussion of a recent report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund about the the impact of expensive textbooks. It documents something I had observed anecdotally in my own classes, that lots of students decide not to buy textbooks because of the cost and that their performance in classes suffers for it.

I agree with the core of the findings and with the sentiment that open textbooks are a good thing, but there is one aspect that's worrisome.

The study includes this factoid: "82% of students felt they would do significantly better in a course if the textbook was available free online and buying a hard copy was optional. This is exactly how open textbooks are designed."

It does not surprise me to learn that this is what many students feel. However, we know that students do not relate to text on screen in the same way they relate to text on paper. It is harder to read actively and mark up a text on screen; in some contexts, it is simply impossible. Although a free online version is an improvement on an expensive hard copy that they refuse to buy, an affordable hard copy which they buy or print would be even better.

As tablets and e-readers proliferate, this may change, but it would be premature to pretend we are already in that brave digital future.

My own book, forall x, is not designed for online consumption. It is intended to be used as a hard copy, and on line distribution is a way for people to freely get the print-ready files. I use electronic resources similarly in other courses. In history of philosophy, for example, it's a way of cutting out the margin that book publishers and the bookstore would add to public domain material. So the report conflates open access versus commercial books (whether there are license fees or not) with online versus hardcopy (how the student interacts with the content).

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Florida and the last mile of logic 
Back in 2007, I opted to change the license for my logic textbook, forall x. The removal of the Non-Commercial provision meant that, since then, people have been allowed to sell copies of the book and of any derivative works they might make. At the time, I wrote this:
There is little danger that a publisher will sell an overpriced deluxe edition of forall x, because the Sharealike provision would preclude them from exercising restrictive rights over it. The content would still be free.

I was perhaps a bit too optimistic.

A while later, a company began selling a poorly made ebook version on Amazon. I wrote a review telling people not to buy it and pointing them to where they can download it for free.

Today I discovered that University Press of Florida is offering forall x for $32.50. They assigned it an ISBN and everything. Their product page does not have any product description at all. If you do a search, though, the description includes information about how to get a copy from Lulu where it's available for $8.50.

They also have the title slightly wrong: "Forall x: Introductory Textbook in Formal Logic" rather than "forall x: An introduction to formal logic"

At the same time, the Senate is considering legislation to support more open licensed textbooks in an effort to make college textbooks affordable. We need to remember that an open license only saves the bit that would be paid to the author. The last mile is getting the text into student hands, which requires not screwing them on printing costs.

UPDATE nov19: I just spoke with someone at UPF. They print the book on-demand for Orange Grove, an imprint which has offered it on Amazon since 2009. So it was already something I knew about, really.

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Problems in logic and the application of terms 
Brian Leiter has a recent post which I'll quote in full:
Open-access textbooks
Here's one in logic, that will be familiar to many readers.

The link is to a page for Arguments: Deductive Logic Exercises by Howard Pospesel and David Marans. The book was originally published in 1978 and has been long out of print. Rights have reverted to the authors, who have made scanned PDFs available for free.

The frontmatter includes the statement, "Permission is hereby granted for reprinting this work in whole or in part if, and only if, the material includes [this disclaimer]." The right to reprint is something, but it is not actually open-access. The book is free to share, but only inside a password locked PDF. Nobody can use the problem sets in another context or adapt them for somewhat different purposes. They can't even typset it properly to make it anything besides the image files of scanned pages.

Regardless, the book is kind of nifty. One thing that people who teach logic inevitably need is more exercises, either to assign as homework or to use as exam questions. And that's all Arguments is, page after page of sentences and arguments. They are divided into chapters, but numbered continuously. I was amused to find this in the middle of the book:
299 "He whose TESTICLES are crushed or whose male MEMBER is cut off shall not ENTER the assembly of the Lord."
Deuteronomy 23:1
(Universe: people)

I used to be able to identify translations of the Bible just from how they translated this one verse. Pospesel and Marans have used the Revised Standard Version.

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