GMU Press Book Launch: Peacebuilding Through Dialogue

The University Libraries, Mason Publishing and the University Bookstore present

Peacebuilding Through Dialogue
Education, Human Transformation, and Conflict Resolution
Edited by Peter N. Stearns

Peter Stearns & Susan Allen

Peacebuilding Through Dialogue: Education, Human Transformation, and Conflict Resolution

Wednesday, March 20th
3:00-4:30 p.m.

Main Reading Room (2001)
Fenwick Library, Fairfax Campus

Peacebuilding Through Dialogue is an invitation to scholars, students, and engaged citizens to discover the power and versatility of dialogue as a peacebuilding practice. Edited by Peter Stearns, the book features thirteen authors considering dialogue in the context of teaching and learning; dialogue as part of personal and interpersonal growth; and dialogue in conflict resolution and other situations of great change. With its expansive approach, the book makes original and invaluable contributions to peace studies, civic studies, education studies, organizational studies, conflict resolution studies, and dignity studies.

Join us for a very special book launch event on Wednesday, March 20, featuring a conversation with volume editor Peter Stearns and contributor Susan Allen

Books will be available for purchase at the event.

This book is published by George Mason University Press in collaboration with the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue of Cambridge, Mass. 

Virginia Wine book and author event

The University Libraries, George Mason University Press,
and the University Bookstore

Virginia Wine: Four Centuries of Change

Featuring author Andrew Painter

Tuesday, April 10
4:30-6:00 pm

Main Reading Room
Fenwick Library, Fairfax Campus

Cover: Virginia Wine“[An] impressive work celebrating the collective and individual achievements of the commonwealth’s wine industry “
Gerald L. Baliles, Governor of Virginia 1986-1990

No state can claim a longer history of experimenting with and promoting viticulture than Virginia—nor does any state’s history demonstrate a more astounding record of initial failure and ultimate success. Virginia Wine: Four Centuries of Change presents a comprehensive record of the Virginia wine industry, from the earliest Spanish accounts describing Native American vineyards in 1570 through its astonishing rebirth in the modern era. The author chronicles the dynamic personalities, diverse places, and engrossing personal and political struggles that have established the Old Dominion as one of the nation’s preeminent wine regions, an industry that now accounts for nearly $1 billion in annual sales, with more than 275 wineries growing more than 30 varieties of grapes.

head shot of author Andrew Painter

Andrew A. Painter is an attorney specializing in land use and zoning. A Virginia native, Andrew has spent more than eight years researching the growth of its wine industry. He is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington, the University of Virginia, and the University of Richmond.

“A detailed, yet readable history that addresses an unmet need for a written record similar to those already available for the world’s more established wine regions. Virginia viticulture and winemaking have come of age, and deserve no less.”
Felicia Warburg Rogan, Founder, Oakencroft Vineyard & Winery

Refreshments will be provided.

The Mason Author Series is co-sponsored by the University Bookstore.

Book launch: Playfair

The University Libraries, George Mason University Press,
and the University Bookstore

Playfair: The True Story of the British Secret Agent Who Changed How We See the World

Thursday, March 22
2:00-3:30 pm

Main Reading Room
Fenwick Library, Fairfax Campus

Featuring author Bruce Berkowitz

Cover of Playfair by Bruce BerkowitzWilliam Playfair may be the most famous person you have never heard of. Best known today as the inventor of “statistical graphics”—the line, bar, and pie charts we all use today—Playfair was also a pioneer in strategic analysis, and a secret agent who carried out espionage and subversion against France on behalf of Great Britain.
This is the first book to uncover the full, true account of this remarkable, colorful man—undeniably brilliant, hopelessly flawed, and fundamentally important. Its pages reveal the astounding inventions and adventures of this larger-than-life swashbuckler, rogue, genius, and patriot.

“In addition to being a draftsman, inventor, company promoter, land speculator, economist, patriotic pamphleteer and bank-note counterfeiter, Playfair was a secret agent and international conspirator… He was adept at ducking and weaving from the truth, covering his tracks, mystifying his motives, and protecting his sources. Mr. Berkowitz’s Playfair is above all a work of ingenious detection and reconstruction.”
—The Wall Street Journal

Bruce Berkowitz is the author of several books and articles about national security, history, and international relations.


Refreshments will be provided.

The Mason Author Series is co-sponsored by the University Bookstore.

Wall Street Journal Reviews “Playfair”

William Playfair is best known today as a Scottish adventurer of questionable repute who happened to invent “statistical graphics”—the line, bar, and pie charts familiar today. Some may be aware of his theories explaining trade and investment, or his contributions to concepts like price indexes and measures of national power. Even those familiar with his work, however, will be surprised to learn that Playfair was, in fact, a secret agent. Working for top British officials, Playfair planned and executed clandestine operations against the radicalized French Republic. He may have changed the course of the French Revolution; he most certainly transformed statistics, economics, and strategic analysis.

In PLAYFAIR: The True Story of the British Secret Agent Who Changed How We See the World (January 2018), author Bruce Berkowitz uncovers the exploits of this remarkable, colorful man and his most audacious project—an operation to wreck the French economy with counterfeit money. Combining Internet Age methodologies with old-fashioned detective work, Berkowitz proves Playfair’s role in this long-rumored operation.

The Wall Street Journal published a review of Playfair in the paper’s Saturday-Sunday, January 13-14, 2018 edition. Reviewer Richard Davenport-Hines calls the book “a work of ingenious detection and reconstruction.”

Other excerpts from the review include:

“In addition to being a draftsman, inventor, company promoter, land speculator, economist, patriotic pamphleteer and bank-note counterfeiter, Playfair was a secret agent and international conspirator. He used his network of contacts to become a pioneer provider of “all-source” intelligence. He was adept at ducking and weaving from the truth, covering his tracks, mystifying his motives, and protecting his sources.”

Line chart by Playfair: Commercial and Political Atlas, 1786
Source: Wikimedia Commons

“Mr. Berkowitz’s fascinating visuals show how pie charts, bar graphs, trend lines and suchlike were developed and popularized by Playfair.”

“Mr. Berkowitz’s precision extends to his punctuation, which will delight old-style grammarians who like to see commas and colons used plentifully, and also correctly.”

“Mr. Berkowitz compares Playfair to Forrest Gump, but this frenetic optimist, both crafty and unlucky, who although constantly ambushed and battered by events, irrepressibly sprang back from his bad breaks, is more likely a cartoon character. He was the Wile E. Coyote of his age.”


A lifeline for online instructors: Best Practices in Online Teaching and Learning Across Academic Disciplines

Online courses have surged in recent years, making online teaching an inevitable part of higher learning. While convenient for students and faculty, the lack of facetime can be a challenge. Best Practices in Online Teaching and Learning Across Academic Disciplines (George Mason University Press, 2017) explores strategies for online teaching with an emphasis on distinct approaches for different academic disciplines. The book  offers innovative, practical and successful teaching tools from Indiana University East faculty in a wide range of disciplines designed to keep students engaged.

Best Practices covers online teaching and learning with a three-fold approach. Each chapter discusses and analyzes best practices and pedagogical approaches for online teaching. Attention is also given to instructional design and delivery, useful for course designers or academic administrators. Finally, the authors provide applicable and proven techniques that can be integrated into online courses across more than 15 disciplines.

The first and largest section of Best Practices opens with chapters for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Faculty across these disciplines, from English to Psychology, break down innovative and actionable teaching tools you can use for online teaching. Editor Ross C. Alexander notes, “Three chapters in particular—chapters three, seven and nine, dealing with composition, foreign languages, and drawing—may be of particular interest as they showcase disciplines that one may not typically associate with online teaching and learning, but are effectively taught using approaches and techniques described here” (Best Practices in Online Teaching and Learning Across Academic Disciplines, page 5).

The second section focuses on the natural sciences and mathematics. While these disciplines may also not be commonly associated with online instruction, the authors of these two chapters share why laboratory instruction online can be superior to a traditional, face-to-face model.

The third section handles professional programs, including education, economics and finance, and nursing. While online teaching is fairly common at the graduate level, these chapters zero in on these programs at the undergraduate level, which may not see as much online education. Faculty will learn how to support students on their way to becoming teachers, business leaders, or nurses.

With detailed examples, charts and rubrics, Best Practices provides faculty members the tools to design better curriculum and enhance online learning for their students.

Best Practices in Online Teaching and Learning Across Academic Disciplines

Edited by Ross C. Alexander. Paperback. 300 pages. George Mason University Press. $30.

This book can be purchased from Amazon, or from your favorite independent bookseller.
George Mason University Press titles are distributed by the University of Virginia Press.


Table of Contents
Introduction: Ross C. Alexander, Ph.D.

Part One • Humanities and Social sciences

1    Communication Studies: Fostering Effective Communication in Online Courses
Rosalie S. Aldrich, Renee Kaufmann, Natalia Rybas

2    Composition and Writing: Embedding Success: Supplemental Assistance in Online Writing Instruction
Sarah E. Harris, Tanya Perkins, J. Melissa Blankenship

3    English: Facilitating Online Learning through Discussions in the English Classroom: Tools for Success and Stumbling Blocks to Avoid
Margaret Thomas-Evans, Steven Petersheim, Edwina Helton

4    Political Science: Engaging Students through Effective Instruction and Course Design in Political Science
Chera LaForge, Kristoffer Rees, Lilia Alexander, Ross C. Alexander

5    Criminal Justice: Calming, Critical Thinking, and Case Studies: The Politics, Pitfalls, and Practical Solutions for Teaching Criminal Justice in an Online Environment
Stephanie N. Whitehead, M. Michaux Parker

6    Psychology: Student misconceptions of psychology: Steps for helping online students toward a scientific understanding of psychology
Beth A. Trammell, Gregory Dam, Amanda Kraha

7    World Languages (Spanish and French): Best Practices in Online Second Language Teaching: Theoretical Considerations in Course Design and Implementation
Dianne Burke Moneypenny, Julien Simon

8    History: Teaching History Online: Old Struggles, New Pathways
Justin Carroll, Christine Nemcik, Daron Olson

9    Fine Arts (Drawing): Best Practices in Online Teaching for Drawing
Carrie Longley, Kevin Longley

10  Sociology, Anthropology, and Geography: Igniting the Passion:  Examples for Sociology, Anthropology, and Geography
Denise Bullock, Katherine Miller Wolf, Wazir Mohamed, Marc Wolf

11  Philosophy: The Proof is in the Pedagogy: A Philosophical Examination of the Practice of Backward Design
Mary A. Cooksey

Part Two • Natural Sciences and Mathematics
12  Biological Sciences: Online Teaching and Learning in Biological Sciences
Parul Khurana, Neil Sabine

13  Mathematics: Best Practices of Online Education in Mathematics
Young Hwan You, Josh Beal

Part Three • Professional Programs
14  Education: Building Online Learning Communities on the Foundation of Teacher Presence
Jamie Buffington-Adams, Denice Honaker, Jerry Wilde

15  Economics and Finance: Using Simulation Games to Engage Students in Online Advanced Finance Courses
Oi Lin Cheung, Litao Zhong

16  Nursing: Meeting QSEN Competencies in the Online Environment
Paula Kerler Baumann, Tonya Breymier, Karen Clark

Author Biographies

Playfair and the search for elusive truth

In our current political and social environment, it’s no secret that truth, and the value of truth, is taking a beating. When truth is under attack, fallacious theories get repeated and “alternative facts” promoted, and when a preference for the spurious is favored, the search for truth becomes ever more critical.

Of course, it can be argued, and frequently has been stated, that truth itself is elusive if not unattainable. “There is no such thing as absolute truth and absolute falsehood,” wrote Henry A. Rowland. “The scientific mind should never recognise the perfect truth or the perfect falsehood of any supposed theory or observation. It should carefully weigh the chances of truth and error and grade each in its proper position along the line joining absolute truth and absolute error.” (Rowland, Henry A. “The Highest Aim of the Physicist,” Science, New Series, Vol. 10, No. 258, Dec. 8, 1899, 825-833, as of November 6, 2017: )

Nevertheless, the job of historians, biographers, journalists, and others is to seek out the truth to the best of their ability, relying on facts. Facts can be discovered and brought to light, or manipulated and distorted; the difference is consequential.

This is why university presses exist: to reveal and elucidate facts and bring us ever closer to truth, or at least the threshold of truth.

In our new, forthcoming title, Playfair: The True Story of the British Secret Agent Who Changed How We See the World, author Bruce Berkowitz reveals a journey to uncover a truth that is often hidden, opaque, distorted, refracted by lenses of luck, fate, and personal conflicts of interest.

Line chart by Playfair: Commercial and Political Atlas, 1786
William Playfair, Commercial and Political Atlas, 1786. Source: Wikimedia Commons

William Playfair, when he is known today, is remembered as the inventor of “statistical graphics,” including the line, bar, and pie charts that we still use regularly today (and built into Microsoft Excel). He’s a sometime-hero of the Infogeek community. Edward Tufte cited him extensively in The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, and called Playfair one of the great inventors of modern graphical design, who created the “first time series using economic data.” (Tufte, Edward, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Graphics Press, 1983, 9, 32-34, 64-65, 91-92)

William Playfair also pioneered strategic analysis, essential to our understanding of today’s world, and developed theories explaining international trade and investment while making contributions to important concepts like price indexes and measures of national power.

Yet Playfair is generally not well known, some of his contributions remain largely forgotten or ignored, and his reputation has suffered with characterizations by historians that he was a lightweight, flimflam artist, or worse.

As Berkowitz writes: “One might say Playfair is the most famous man you have never heard of. He appears everywhere; he knows everyone. Time and again, he’s at the hinge point of history: the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, the founding of the United States, the birth of modern economics, the Age of Napoleon. Documents and artifacts link him to influential ideas and famous men. He’s the Forrest Gump of his era—except, unlike Gump, he’s brilliant, and, unlike Gump, he’s not just an accidental witness stumbling on the scene—he’s shaping and driving events.” (Playfair: The True Story of the British Secret Agent Who Changed How We See the World, page 334)

Line chart from William Playfair, Commercial and Political Atlas, 1786
William Playfair, Commercial and Political Atlas, 1786. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Berkowitz’s marvelous book is as much detective story as biography, a history of Playfair, his exploits and inventions, as well as a history of how the facts and truth about Playfair have been obscured over time.

The booby trap pinning Playfair as a blunderer provides an illustrative example. Playfair apprenticed to James Watt, inventor of the steam engine, who is frequently quoted in articles about Playfair as claiming: “I must warn you, Playfair is a blunderer.”

The often-repeated quote makes an early appearance in James Watt and the Steam Engine, by Henry William Dickinson and Rhys Jenkins, first published in 1927. Statisticians Patricia Costigan-Eaves and Michael Macdonald-Ross wrote an influential article about Playfair in Statistical Sciences that repeated the quote. But an examination of the original source, Watt’s letters, finds that the quote is a misleading snippet of what is, in fact, Watt’s recommendation that Playfair receive a promotion: “I would recall Playfair who can do part of the business, & I think now you are at home you can contrive to gett him proper assistance—I must warn you that Playfair is a blunderer but I dare say he will be assiduous and obedient and plain direction must be given him.” While the word “blunderer” sounds a bit damning, it was a frequent epithet employed by Watt, even to himself. (Playfair, 344)

Historian Randolph G. Adams said, “Each generation has to rewrite history for itself-and some­times from the same sources used by previous generations.” (Romney, Rebecca and J.P. Romney, Printer’s Error: Irreverent Stories from Book History, Harper Collins, 2017, 284, quoting from Lawrence C. Wroth, Notes for Bibliophiles in the New-York Herald Tribune, 1937-1947, ed. Richard J. Ring, Ascencius Press, 2016, 128) Indeed, in Playfair’s case, the various misquotations, passages taken out of context, and even complete fabrications began to accumulate over time, taking on a life of their own, seeping into scholarship as well as popular media.

Line chart from William Playfair, Commercial and Political Atlas, 1786
William Playfair, Commercial and Political Atlas, 1786. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Another example uncovered by Berkowitz regards Playfair’s involvement in the first major political scandal in the newly formed United States. The so-called Scioto Affair was a land speculation gone bad involving Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington. One historian, Ephraim C. Dawes, largely pinned part of the scandal on Playfair. Berkowitz describes the historical puzzle as a bit like Akira Kurosawa’s famous samurai classic, Rashômon, where the witnesses all believe and describe different versions of the same event. Berkowitz shows how Dawes, however, was the great-grandson of Manasseh Cutler, and used his version of the affair to clear his relative’s name. A later historian, Theodore Thomas Belote, made Playfair the heavy, as a confidence man, embezzler, and schemer, without relying on historical evidence. Berkowitz uncovers the real story, however, by carefully analyzing original source documents, digging up existing transcriptions of letters that have disappeared, and discovering an unlikely source, a bilingual French schoolteacher who wrote her thesis and, later, a book published in French, about the tangled Scioto affair.

L.S. Stavrianos wrote, “Each generation must write its own history, not because past histories are untrue but because in a rapidly changing world new questions arise and new answers are needed.” (Stavrianos, L.S., Lifelines from Our Past: A New World History, M.E. Sharp, 2004, 13).

The most remarkable discovery in Playfair is how the author uncovers evidence that William Playfair diligently proposed, planned, and executed the first covert operation in history to collapse a nation’s economy. By printing vast amounts of counterfeit assignats, the paper currency France had adopted to pay for their government and wars, Playfair hoped to dismantle the French economy, in 1793, hindering the French revolution on behalf of the British.

Cover of Playfair by Bruce BerkowitzUncovering the true story was a challenge: Playfair never bragged about it, he never even mentioned it in his unpublished memoirs, and Playfair pioneered and employed elements of espionage “tradecraft” often used today to hide his tracks. Berkowitz uncovered substantial evidence for the op during his journey of writing the book, including various documents and letters. Among them was Playfair’s original plan for the counterfeiting operation, written in his hand and dated March 1793, but lost until now, found among Playfair’s other correspondence to British Secretary of State for War Henry Dundas. Also among the evidence for the operation were physical specimens: three paper molds found at the Haughton Castle mill. Two of the molds were used for counterfeiting assignats, and a third used for making notes for Playfair’s Original Security Bank (a story in and of itself). Berkowitz’s book offers an amazing story of finding the molds, mislabeled and misplaced, in Newcastle’s Discovery Museum, as he describes, “…Like the last scene of Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark: warehouse workers box the Ark of the Covenant, slot it into a vast sea of crates, and the credits roll as the artifact vanishes into the maw of a bureaucracy” (Playfair, 240).

Berkowitz writes about the importance of examining original source documents when uncovering facts and revealing the elusive truth to a story: “Transcripts [and citations] usually don’t include marginal notes, scribbles on the backs of documents, addresses, and postal markings, all of which can sometimes provide clues to piecing together a story. Besides, there’s nothing like handling an actual artifact. It’s a physical connection between you and the man you’re trying to figure out” (Playfair, 239). For this reason, Playfair’s endnotes include references not only to the citation used but also, wherever possible, to the original source document.

Berkowitz writes: “Analysis should also be cumulative. Everyone builds on others’ work, adding information and insight along the way. (And, when necessary, making corrections.) It’s all part of the process of creating knowledge. By making the source material easier to obtain, we hope to encourage others to follow up with their own research” (Playfair, 372).

The book has been an incredible journey, for the author and for our new, fledgling university press. We look forward to your comments and reaction.


Playfair: The True Story of the British Secret Agent Who Changed How We See the World, by Bruce Berkowitz, will be published by the George Mason University Press in November 2017.

Order from Amazon or from your favorite independent bookseller. George Mason University Press titles are distributed by University of Virginia Press and Longleaf Distribution.


This blog post is part of UP Week 2017: A Celebration of University Presses

See also:

Why University Presses Matter by Daniel Heath Justice

Scholarship Making a Difference by Gary Kramer

Tools for Surviving in a Post-Truth World

Scholarship Makes a Difference, by Al Bertrand

The Struggle for Equality, Recognition, and Reward, by Athena Coustenis and Thérèse Encrenaz

Winning Hearts and Minds: Publishing that Matters, by Anne Brakenbury

Knowledge and Facts Matter, by Nicole Mitchell

Open Scholarship Initiative (OSI) 2016 Conference Papers

This Word Cloud is comprised of the compiled text of all OSI2016 conference papers

Facts and figures associated with OSI2016
Poster of OSI “By the Numbers”

Mason Publishing has published the papers from the inaugural Open Scholarship Initiative (OSI) Conference, held in April 2016 at George Mason University, in collaboration with the National Science Communication Institute and UNESCO. OSI is a multi-year effort to establish a new, global framework in which a wide variety of stakeholders will be able to work together over the long term to shape and manage the future of scholarly publishing. The final papers and workgroup presentations can be found and downloaded at —all have been published under a Creative Commons license. Links to individual papers are below.

Of all the many conferences I have attended over the years—certainly more than a few hundred—OSI was the most diverse in terms of stakeholder representation from a variety of different fields and perspectives in scholarly publishing. OSI2016 convened high-level (CEO/Dean/Director) delegates from across the research and academic publishing sphere to chart the future of scholarly publishing and open access. In all, 196 delegates attended OSI2016, representing 12 countries and 15 stakeholder groups across 184 institutions, including 50 major research universities (25 percent of delegates), 37 scholarly publishers (19 percent of delegates), 24 government policy organizations (12 percent), 23 scholarly libraries and groups, 23 non-university research institutions, 17 open knowledge groups (9 percent), eight faculty and education groups, and more. Countries represented include the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Singapore, and South Africa.

OSI workgroup sessions and subsequent conference papers seek to answer broad, foundational questions: What do we mean by publishing? Who should decide what is and isn’t open? What are the moral implications for open and what are the usage dimensions? Other topics included the tensions between impact overload and underload; the status of preservation mandates and repositories; peer review systems and options for reform; and tracking the impact of research through impact factors and alternative metrics. The different ideas and perspectives the participants led to a wide range of ideas on how to improving the way that research is published, shared and accessed.

The What is Publishing (1) Workgroup (DOI: looked at the evolving scholarly publishing ecosystem and determined that the needs of researchers are not being met by the current system. Instead, they recommend a change to disaggregated services—unbundling the products and services that publishers currently provide and letting market forces drive the development of, and demand for, a new and improved à la carte world of knowledge artifacts and knowledge management tools.

OSI2016's "What is Publishing 1" workgroup—at work
The “What is Publishing 1” workgroup—at work

Meanwhile, the What is Publishing (2) Workgroup (DOI: envisions a future publishing paradigm that is net­worked, open, and significantly more dynamic than the traditional model; their recommendations include identifying gaps in evidence and knowledge and working to define unmet publishing and dissemina­tion needs of scholars.

The What is Open? Workgroup (DOI: found that the scholarly community’s current definition of “open” captures only some of the attributes of openness, which instead exist along a broad spectrum of attributes. Their framework proposes an alternative way of describing and evaluating openness based on four attributes—discoverable, accessible, reusable, and transparent—the “DART Framework for Open Access.”

Who decides the future of open access and who has the power to make decisions that can affect the future of open access? The Who Decides? Workgroup (DOI: examined stakeholders and their power as actors of change. Their report offers three possible change scenarios: in the way scholars are evaluated, the way some innovations in scholarly publishing can be nurtured, and the way cooperation can empower a “global flip” of existing research journals to open access.

The Moral Dimensions of Open Workgroup (DOI: considered the moral foundations of knowledge production and access that underlie models of scholarly publishing. Their report identifies seven moral dimensions and principles to open-access scholarship and data, recognizing the moral responsibility to maximize the benefits of scholarly publishing for the larger society.

The Usage Dimensions of Open Workgroup (DOI: identified definitions, priorities, and themes, including the character of research outputs and the actual research workflow process, as well as economic considerations.

Delegates from the OSI2016 Usage Dimensions Workgroup
OSI2016 Usage Dimensions Workgroup

Two groups examined how scholarly publishing tools and products are evolving. The Evolving Open Solutions (1) Workgroup (DOI: considered barriers to openness, such as flawed incentives, and how these barriers can be overcome. Their recommendations included defining an ideal future and an alter­native system for funding, tenure, and promotion.

The Evolving Open Solutions (2) Workgroup (DOI: assessed the most significant challenges confronting academic publishing over the next 3-5 years and proposed recommendations centered on themes of culture change, funding/sustainability, and the unique infrastructural requirements for different disciplines and diverse forms of research output.

The Open Impacts Workgroup (DOI: identified three areas for a new framework for understanding the impact of open: measuring openness, utilization measures, and understanding economic impacts of open.

The Participation in the Current System Workgroup (DOI: focused on authors, who play a critical role in the scholarly communications system as the original content creators, are in many or most cases the original rightsholders, and are generally the ultimate decisionmakers when it comes to how, when, and where to publish their work. Envisioning a “perfect world” for authors, the group made recommendations for reforms, messaging, and research that could address many common author concerns and create a more hospitable framework for authors to participate in the open publishing system.

The Information Overload & Underload Workgroup (DOI: discussed access as a core aspect of the issue of overload and underload—both access to research materials and access to venues where one can contribute to the scholarly corpus. The group explored factors and causes of information overload and underload, and developed ideas for social and technology solutions addressing these issues.

The Repositories & Preservation Workgroup (DOI: found that while repositories are a vital tool in modern information management and a key component of preser­vation and long-term availability, they are not well-suited to the multitude of stakeholders in the modern scholarly publishing system. Among their recommendations for strengthening repositories and standardizing preserva­tion processes are building new workflows and an ecosystem that will better ensure long-term access and preservation.

The Peer Review Workgroup (DOI: focused on peer review in the context of open scholar­ship and found that while greater openness and transparency would improve accounta­bility, minimize bias, and encourage collaboration, there are significant challenges as well as a great variation in readiness across disciplines and publishing mod­els. The group recommended facilitation of peer review outside the traditional publication process—for example, in the context of preprint servers and after publication—with incen­tives for broad participation.

The Embargoes Workgroup (DOI: categorized publication embargoes into four main types and focused on two: post-publication and subscription embargoes. Their recommendations include creating an evidence base for embargoes by funding a global survey of key stakeholders. They propose questions for the survey that would provide meaningful data about the is­sues surrounding embargoes.

The Impact Factors Workgroup (DOI: focused on the uses and misuses of the Journal Impact Factor (JIF), with a partic­ular focus on research assessment. The group’s recommendations include active support for the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) by research funders, higher education institutions, national academies, publishers and learned societies as well as the creation of an international “metrics lab” to ex­plore the potential of new indicators and the wide sharing of information on this topic among stakeholders.

Finally, the At-Large Workgroup (DOI:, of which I was a member, was the largest and most diverse in terms of stakeholder representa­tion, observing workgroup conversations during the meeting and used their wide-angle lens on the evolution of these questions and proceedings in order to develop some high-level takeaways on the OSI conference. These included observations on the format and process of the conference, the widespread theme of changing scholarly needs and outputs, the primacy of promotion and tenure in discussions on change in scholarly publishing, stakeholders and missing voices at OSI, the influence of impact, and recommendations going forward toward OSI 2017 and beyond.

This Word Cloud is comprised of the compiled text of all OSI2016 conference papers
Word Cloud of compiled text of OSI2016 conference paper

The At-Large paper discusses some of the common themes found throughout the workgroup sessions and papers. This word cloud—created from the compiled texts of all sixteen conference papers—also highlights the most frequent terms and themes discussed at OSI2016.

If you are interested in attending OSI2017, to be held in April 2017 at George Washington University, email or visit our contact page at: 

Participate in the 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication Survey

What research tools do you use to accomplish your work? How do your research habits compare with those of scholars in other parts of the world? To identify trends at Mason, we urge you to participate in the 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication Survey.

Why participate? You will learn how your use of digital research tools compares to that of your peers, and you may discover some new tools. You will inform Mason Libraries about which tools you use so that we can optimize library services and resources to better suit your needs. And you will be contributing to a global effort to chart the evolving landscape of scholarly communication.

This survey, created by researchers at Utrecht University, is part of an international effort to study adoption and use of innovative digital tools for scholarly research and publication.

Results of this international survey, as well as the final anonymized dataset, will be posted on the 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication site. Mason Libraries will share our community’s anonymized dataset and produce a publicly available report. In addition, survey results will help Mason Publishing, part of the Mason Libraries, evaluate alternative metric (altmetric) services we might offer to help you track the attention your scholarship receives.

The Innovations in Scholarly Communication Survey ends February 10, 2016. Visit today to participate!

Global survey of scholarly communication tool usage

101Innovations_website image

The availability and use of digital tools supporting the research workflow—tools for discovery, analysis, writing, publication, outreach and assessment—has exploded in recent years. Several major companies involved in publishing, distribution, and discovery have entered the “research services” space, along with numerous start-ups, large and small.

Here at George Mason University, for example, tools such as Zotero, Omeka, and PressForward have been developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media to help researchers organize, cite, curate, and publish research and collections.

Bianca Kramer and Jeroen Bosman, researchers at Utrecht University Library, are conducting a global survey on the use of digital tools in the research workflow. Kramer and Bosman have developed the “101 Innovations in Scholarly Communications” website, blog, database, examples of workflows, presentations, and posters supporting this project. Kramer and Bosman provide an excellent launching pad to explore the changes underway in research and scholarly communication; their database now includes more than 575 tools.

There are some advantages to participating in the survey:

  • You’ll be able to benchmark yourself against your peers—after completing the survey you can opt in to be provided with a visualization of your use of digital tools compared to your peers.
  • Institutions/universities can receive a customized URL that will allow them to see digital research tool usage within their institution/university.
  • You’ll contribute to the international effort to chart the evolving landscape of scholarly communication.

Anyone carrying out research (from Master’s students to professors), or supporting research (such as librarians, publishers and funders) can participate.

Faculty and students from George Mason University should take the survey from our custom survey ULR, which will allow Mason Publishing and the University Libraries to compare (anonymous) data from Mason peers.

The survey will run until February 2016.

It takes about 10 minutes to complete and you can opt to receive a visual characterization of your workflow compared to that of your peer group via email.

Kramer and Bosman’s report on the survey’s preliminary results indicate that through October 31, 2015, the survey has generated more than 5,373 responses, primarily from faculty and PhD students. Disciplines are fairly well distributed although Life Sciences has taken the lead with 1,903 responses. Kramer and Bosman also reported on the differences, to date, between librarians and researchers (Faculty/PhD students/Postdocs) regarding the use of tools to measure impact, such as Altmetric, Impactstory, Scopus, JCR, and others. Researchers are using traditional impact factor tools while librarians are using or recommending altmetric tools at a higher rate than their researcher counterparts.

For more information on this survey and its results so far:

From free, open source tools like Zotero, to Thomson Reuters’ EndNote, from to Google’s Ngram Viewer, the availability of new digital tools is changing the way students, faculty, and other researchers are creating, sharing, and processing information. This revolution is not being televised.


University Press Week:

This post is part of the #UPWeek blog tour.

Visit the other University Press blog posts on today’s topic, The Future of Scholarly Publishing:

Indiana University Press

Oxford University Press

University Press of Colorado

University Press of Kansas

University of North Carolina Press

University Press Week and the #UPWeek Blog Tour

University Press Week kicks off today with several University Presses participating in the #UPWeek blog tour. (Mason Publishing/George Mason University Press will participate in the blog tour tomorrow.)


First, essential reading is University Press of California’s Alison Mudditt’s guest post on the Scholarly Kitchen blog, discussing the important contributions made by University Presses. Alison interviews luminaries such as Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Associate Executive Director and Director of Scholarly Communication, Modern Language Association; Niko Pfund, President and Academic Publisher, Oxford University Press; Jon Cawthorne, Dean of Libraries, West Virginia University; and Leila Salisbury, Director, University Press of Mississippi, to gather insights on the contributions that university presses make to scholarship and scholarly communication. As Alison mentions, its not hard to find articles about the decline or perceived obsolescence of University Presses, but regarding UPs, there is more than meets the eye: more University Presses have opened than closed in recent years, for examples, but it’s the closures (or near closures), that get the attention).

(If you missed Alison’s first post on Scholarly Kitchen, discussing open access and monographs, you can find it here.)

The University Press of Florida takes readers on a brief food tour of Florida and some of the marvelous cookbooks they have published over the years. University Presses are known, and should be known, for their fine publications of academic monographs, but often overlooked are other fine publications by UPs, such as novels, poetry, childrens books, and cookbooks. Here we’ve got such delectable treats as Mango and the Versailles Restaurant Cookbook. This certainly whets our appetite for more University Press books!

The University Press of New England talks about the amazing success of author Marc Solomon and his book, Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits—and Won. Here’s an author with a great book, great timing, and the willingness and ability to tirelessly publicize the book. Yes, we love authors like this!

Speaking of meeting the press, the University of Mississippi Press writes about the surprising results of their collaboration with an independent bookstore and a daily newspaper.

Take a POP QUIZ about University Presses and their books, courtesy of the University Press of Kentucky‘s blog. Their quiz reveals surprising facts about members of the Association of American University Presses . I’m not sure if I did good or bad, I guess it all depends, but I answered 7 out of 10 correctly.

University of Nebraska Press, one of those UPs with a great track record of publishing literature, publishes some facts about their staff. Yes, indeed, real people work at University Presses!

University of California Press mentions some of the surprising facts about University Presses, such as their open access books and journals. What, Open Access?! That is surprising!

University of Wisconsin Press talks about some of their mystery fiction. talks about some of their mystery fiction. If you think it’s a mystery why University Presses are publishing murder fiction, you haven’t been paying attention.