Dissertation nun online verfügbar

Wie angekündigt ist meine Dissertation nun online als PDF-Download verfügbar, zu finden im Document Repository der Uni Zürich. Als Lizenz habe ich die “Creative Commons: attribution-noncommercial-no derivative works 3.0” gewählt. Das Dokument darf also frei bezogen und verteilt, aber nicht verändert oder kommerziell genutzt werden.

Die Onlinefassung ist seitenidentisch mit der gedruckten und ist vollständig durchsuchbar (Volltextsuche).

Zur Erinnerung, das Werk ist auch weiterhin als Buch direkt beim Verlag bestellbar. Einige Hintergrundinformationen zu dieser doppelten Publikationsstrategie hier.

As announced, my dissertation is now available online as a PDF download. It can be found in the document repository of the University of Zurich. I chose the “Creative Commons: attribution-noncommercial-no derivative works 3.0” license. This means that the document can be downloaded and shared freely, but cannot be changed or used commercially.

The online version is page-identical to the printed one and is fully searchable.

As a reminder, you can also order the dissertation as a book directly from the publisher. Some background information about this dual publication strategy can be found here.

some background information about the publication of my PhD thesis

copyright,Diss,Open Access,Uni — 11. Feb 2014

as previously reported on this blog, my PhD thesis has appeared as a printed book last summer. in addition to that, i am also going to publish it electronically as a PDF document in my university’s document repository (open access) next month (march 2014). in this blog post, i want to go into some details about this dual strategy, as i have been thinking long and hard about how to best approach the matter of this publication.

according to the PhD regulation of my university, i am required to publish my thesis in order to receive the PhD diploma. my university leaves me a choice between two options for publication: either the traditional way with a publisher, or an electronic publication. in the second case, i submit it as a PDF to the zentralbibliothek in zurich and they make it publicly accessible online.

the main issue for me was that i wanted both things at the same time: a physical book, printed on paper, as well as an electronic, open access (OA) compliant publication. i wanted the book, because i enjoy having a physical book in my hands more than having a PDF on my harddrive, but also because placing it in an established series would be good for my career: members of the scholarly community are more likely to discover it there and they recognize a certain ‘brand value’ in an established series / publisher. on the other hand, i wanted to have the open access publication, for two reasons. first, because i am convinced by the core idea behind open acess: that publicly-funded research results should be made available publicly. second, because distributing a PDF has a number of positive effects: people find it on google, people are allowed to spread and share it as they wish, people can link it on websites, search it (full-text search) etc. these things are very much in the interest of me as an author, as i want to make it as easy as possible for anyone to find, access and search my writing.

so my strategy was to approach publishers and see whether i can find one that will take the book, but allow me to do a simultaneous OA-publication. my hope for that was initially low, as publishers usually demand that you sign away all rights on the text before they accept it. this makes sense from their point of view, as they want to be sure that the author will not distribute it any other way (e.g. with another publisher or by himself), thereby hurting their sales. however, as the open access regulation of my university encouraged me to negotiate the rights with the publisher in that way, i thought i would give it a try.

at first, i contacted the editor of a well known book series in our field. he expressed interest in including the book in his series. unfortunately, he had recently handed over all rights on the series (both journal and monographs) to john benjamins, a commercial publisher. as i explained that i want to withhold the right for an OA-publication from the deal, he refused it immediately, saying that the publisher would not allow it. so i gave up on that and contacted the editor of a different series. he, too, was willing to accept the book right away. i brought up the topic of a OA-publication, and he had nothing against it. whether this was due to the fact that he did not fully understand what it was all about, or whether he simply didn’t mind, i don’t know. anyway, we agreed to go ahead with it and the book was in fact published there last summer. for some time during the process, i was nervous that the editor might ask me to sign an author’s contract which would rule out the OA-publication (from what i know, there is usually a passage about ‘granting exclusive rights’ to the publisher in those contracts, which i would have been unwilling to sign, obviously). however, i never signed any such contract and the book appeared anyway. so legally, i never gave away any rights on that work and i can still do with it what i want. that is what will allow me to upload it as a PDF to my university’s document repository come march of this year. if the editor would have asked me to sign a contract, i would have attempted negotiations with him to change the contract so that it reads ‘grants all rights to the publisher, except the one to store an electronic copy in the university’s document repository’. fortunately, it didn’t come to that.

the PDF publication is going to happen roughly 6 months after the book publication. i chose the embargo period of 6 months by myself, out of consideration for the publisher’s commercial interests. the uploaded PDF document will be page identical with the printed one and fully quotable. it will also have a prettier title page :)

another approach that i considered was to do an electronic publication first, then submit it to a publisher later. this would, among other things, have had the advantage that i could have avoided to submit 30 exx. to the zentralbibliothek (which was costly). the question is whether any publisher would still take it after it has already been published electronically (i would guess most publishers say no). the second point is that i wouldn’t know whether the printed version would have the same page numbering – depending on the publisher, they may want to set it in their own layout engine and it will result in a different page numbering. as i’m strictly against having two versions of the same text with differing page numbers in circulation, i ultimately decided not to go down that road.

in a way, you could say that i simply got lucky to find a publisher that didn’t stop me from doing a simultaneous OA-publication. and that is certainly true. however, i did have a backup plan in case that would have failed. if they would not have allowed it, i would have given up publishing with an established publisher entirely and done the electronic publication first. later, i would have printed some copies on my own account with one of the many print-on-demand services. for example, amazon has such a service. i have never used it myself, but it looks promising: it is relatively cheap, the author gets to keep the rights on his work, the book gets an ISBN number and appears in the amazon catalogue. it is relatively cheap as they print copies only when someone actually orders one, thereby eliminating the risk of printing too many exx. and sitting on a pile of books they can’t sell (what is called auflagenrisiko in german). that way, i could have had both the book and the OA-publication, too. as i had done all the typography and page layout by myself anyway, there is actually quite little that i would have missed out on by avoiding a publisher altogether. the only service that i could think of which the publisher provided for me (besides a few comments on the manuscript by the editor) is some advertising and sending out of review copies.

in conclusion, i would recommend anyone to think well about the conditions under which they sign away the rights on their work. authors should realize that they are in a strong position to negotiate, as the publishers depend on receiving good manuscripts. i would even go as far as to say that the publishers depend on the authors more than the other way around. while not everyone may have the chance to do a dual publication as i did, it is certainly worth trying.

i would also recommend against going with a traditional publisher simply for career reasons. first of all, if the book is any good then people will find out about it and read it anyway. it doesn’t really matter where it appears. in fact, going with a traditional publisher can very well lead to fewer people reading your work, as they tend to put such high prices on their books that very few people can actually afford to buy them.

nochmals über einige dubiose verlage

copyright,Uni — 8. Aug 2012

ich möchte auf diesen artikel bei taz hinweisen, wo die dubiosen geschäftsmethoden des VDM verlags thematisiert werden. zur verlagsgruppe rund um VDM gehören auch alphascript und betascript publishing, vor denen ich schon in einem früheren beitrag gewarnt habe, sowie eine unmenge weiterer, wohl hauptsächlich zur kundenverwirrung kreierter “subverlage”.

auch viele auf den ersten blick seriös aussehende verlagsangebote gehören zu dieser VDM-gruppe, etwa der südwestdeutsche verlag für hochschulschriften. diese locken junge wissenschaftler mit einem kostenfreien druck ihrer dissertation und einem print-on-demand angebot. wie ein betroffener in den kommentaren zum taz artikel schreibt, drängen sie den autoren aber unvorteilhafte verträge auf, an denen praktisch nur der verlag verdient (der genannte autor gibt an, ihm würden ca. 1.5% des verkaufspreises zufliessen) und aus denen man sich offenbar, wenn man einmal unterschrieben hat, nicht mehr lösen kann.

besonders dreist finde ich, dass sie anscheinend gezielt studierende und doktoranden anschreiben, um deren seminar-, magister- usw. -arbeiten drucken zu können. es wird wahrscheinlich darauf spekuliert, dass sich kunden dann alleine aufgrund des titels zum kauf solcher bücher entschliessen, ohne zu wissen, was sie eigentlich bestellen.

aus den informationen des taz-artikels habe ich folgende blacklist mit verlagen/reihen zusammengestellt, von denen ich unter keinen umständen bestellen würde:

Verlag Dr. Müller, Alphascript und Betascript, Lambert Academic Publishing GmbH & Co. KG, Südwestdeutscher Verlag für Hochschulschriften GmbH & Co. KG, Verlag Classic Edition, Saarbrückerverlag für Rechtswissenschaften, EUE Editions Universitaires Européennes, EAE Editorial Académica Española, PUA Publicaciones Universitarias Argentinas, Fromm Verlag, Dictus Publishing, Just Fiction Edition, Doyen Verlag.

vermutlich gehören noch mehr dazu.

academic publishers

copyright,Uni — 28. Nov 2010

have you ever wondered how academic publishers operate? phdcomics has an enlightening drawing:

phd comics
source: phdcomics
(click on image for original comic. )

so why can they get away with that? the truth is that it works simply because the scholars depend on them. for the scientists it’s “publish or perish”, and they need to publish in well-known journals in order to be noticed and make their name known to the scientific community.

this means that the scientific communities depend on the publishers in two ways: on the one hand, they depend on the publishers’ benevolence in order to get their research published, while on the other hand, they need access to the resulting journals, which means they (or rather: their libraries) have to shell out a lot of cash for the subscriptions. at the same time, the general public, who paid for both the salaries of the scientists who did the research and for the subscriptions bought by the libraries don’t even get free access to the results.

now, of course i don’t want to suggest that the publishers don’t do any valuable work. they certainly do, as is also mentioned in the second part of the phdcomic:

phd comics
source: phdcomics
(click on image for original comic. )

still, the scientific communities should in my opinion think closely about whether or not the current situation is beneficial for them, and the tax payers should give it some thought, too. open access could play an important role in this, even if it’s just to create some competition for the established publishers. in addition, i have noticed with satisfaction that even in the old-fashioned humanities, some scholars have started to voluntarily make (some of) their work freely available on the internet. of course i strive to make my own publications available online, too, whenever legally possible.

a warning about “alphascript publishing” and “betascript publishing”

copyright,Wikipedia — 25. Jan 2010

i stumbled upon two seemingly identical publishing companies calling themselves “alphascript publishing” and “betascript publishing” (sometimes spelt “publishers” instead of “publishing”). they are churning out vast amounts of books on a very wide range of topics. on their webpage, they describe themselves as “one of the leading publishing houses of academic research”, producing “more than 10,000 new titles”. they “specialize in publishing copyleft projects”, and they do so “at no cost to our authors”.

now that description is not dishonest, strictly speaking, but it’s very misleading, and i’d even go as far as to call it deceptive. what these people actually do is to copy a selection of wikipedia articles, put a nice image on the cover, and sell it to clueless readers for exorbitant prices.

because of the licensing of wikipedia articles, this is in fact legal. copyleft essentially guarantees the right to use the material as you please, including commercially. but the way in which they do this, and especially the way in which they are presenting themselves on their homepage, seems just wrong. in the product descriptions, for example, they don’t mention wikipedia at all (cf. this). it seems pretty clear to me that their intention is to fool unsuspecting readers, counting on the fact that people will go ahead and order the books not being aware that they are paying a lot of money for something they could have gotten for free (and probably in a more up-to-date version) on wikipedia.

so: don’t buy books by these dubious publishers!

WikipediaSignpost 2009-08-17: Alphascript Publishing sells free articles as expensive books

update 25.5.2010
more links:
ms-studio: the wikipedia ecosystem expands (or: the good, the bad & the ugly).

scan: jellinek, geschichte der gotischen sprache, 1926.

copyright,Linguistik,Uni,VGS — 27. Jul 2009

max hermann jellinek, bekannter österreichischer germanist und philologe, starb im jahr 1938. wenn man zu seinem todesjahr die urheberrechtsschutzfrist von 70 jahren dazuzählt, landet man beim jahr 2008 – seine publikationen sind also seit letztem jahr gemeinfrei. aus diesem grund kann ich hier einen scan seiner “geschichte der gotischen sprache” legal zum download anbieten:

jellinek, max hermann: geschichte der gotischen sprache. berlin, 1926.

copyright in der sackgasse

copyright,off-topic — 14. May 2009

schon früher habe ich mich kritisch zum heutigen urheberrecht geäussert und eine erneuerung gefordert. dass es an der zeit ist, das konzept des “copyrights” an die heutige (digitale) realität anzupassen, betont nun auch lawrence lessig, rechtsprofessor in stanford. er fordert radikal: “das alte copyright muss weg”. und dies, wie im heise artikel nachgelesen werden kann, mit guten gründen. auch andere forscher äussern zich zunehmend kritisch und sprechen von “schutzexzessen”.

zur illustration noch einmal ein beispiel aus meiner eigenen erfahrung: in den letzten jahren habe ich mehrmals erfolglos versucht, gewisse ältere wissenschaftliche bücher zu beschaffen. da diese publikationen in sehr kleinen auflagen erscheinen, sind sie jeweils rasch vergriffen. also versucht man, den titel antiquarisch zu erwerben. doch bei selteneren titeln ist auch dies oft praktisch unmöglich. dort, wo es wirklich keinen weg gab, das buch selber zu erwerben, habe ich mir deshalb die mühe gemacht, das buch in einer bibliothek aufzustöbern, auszuleihen, und selber einzuscannen. diese scans würde ich nun gerne im internet veröffentlichen, damit andere interessenten nicht die gleichen hürden überspringen müssen, um an die inhalte zu kommen. das darf ich aber nicht. grund? urheberrechtsverletzung.

das heisst also:

  • das buch ist nicht mehr im buchhandel erhältlich
  • das buch ist auch nicht antiquarisch zu bekommen
  • weder autor noch verlag haben irgend einen vorteil von einem anhaltenden schutz des titels
  • ich habe mir die mühe gemacht, das buch zu digitalisieren
  • wegen dem geltenden urheberrecht darf ich meine scans aber trotzdem nicht im internet verbreiten.

ist doch absurd, oder nicht?

gerne drucke ich auch noch einmal eine geschichte aus meinem alten blog ab, die ich damals aus einer rede von richard stallman “nacherzählte”:

an author was in a legal dispute with his publisher to get back the right to (re-)publish his own work. he was trying to hand over his book to the public domain after it had gone out of print. however, the publisher wouldn’t allow it because they claimed it wasn’t completely out of print yet. so, because of the deal the publisher had forced on this author to get it published in the first place, he was denied the right to publish his own book!

man kann nur hoffen, dass lessig und seine kollegen in der politik gehör finden!