You can go home again

I give a talk at my alma mater Georgia Tech on Thursday:

Thursday, February 2, 2012
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Instructional Center, Room 205
Join CEE and Dr. David Levinson of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota as he speaks about network structure and travel behavior on Thursday, February 2, 2012 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM in the Instructional Center Room 205 (behind ISYE building). A light lunch box will be provided.

Transportation networks have an underlying structure, defined by the layout, arrangement and the connectivity of the individual network elements, namely the road segments and their intersections. The differences in network structure exist among and between networks. This presentation argues that travelers perceive and respond to these differences in underlying network structure and complexity, resulting in differences in observed travel patterns. This hypothesized relationship between network structure and travel is analyzed using individual and aggregate level travel and network data from metropolitan regions across the U.S. various measures of network structure, compiled from existing sources, are used to quantify the structure of street networks. The relation between these quantitative measures and travel is then identified using econometric models.

Dr. David Levinson is a faculty member in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota and Director of the Networks, Economics, and Urban Systems (NEXUS) research group. He currently holds the Richard P. Braun/CTS Chair in Transportation. In academic year 2006-2007 he was a visiting academic at Imperial College in London. He has authored or edited several books, including The Transportation Experience and Planning for Place and Plexus, and numerous peer reviewed articles. He is the editor of the Journal of Transport and Land Use.

The Cost of Knowledge – Boycotting Elsevier

A growing set of researchers are boycotting Elsevier, a major academic publisher, details at: The Cost of Knowledge. From that website:

“Academics have protested against Elsevier’s business practices for years with little effect. The main objections are these:

  1. They charge exorbitantly high prices for their journals.
  2. They sell journals in very large “bundles,” so libraries must buy a large set with many unwanted journals, or none at all. Elsevier thus makes huge profits by exploiting their essential titles, at the expense of other journals.
  3. They support measures such as SOPA, PIPA and the Research Works Act, that aim to restrict the free exchange of information.”

The long review process is another complaint, but this is journal or editor specific, rather than Elsevier as an organization.
For those in the field of transportation research, Elsevier is an oligopolist and the dominant player at that, it publishes the well-known Transportation Research parts A – F and other journals in the transportation field (Research in Transportation Economics, Transport Geography, Accident Analysis and Prevention, Transport Policy, and Journal of Air Transport Management, as well as the new Economics of Transportation: Journal of ITEA)

Basically this is a collective action / coordination problem, someone has to coordinate academic publishing. Some money needs to be collected somewhere. Papers don’t typeset themselves. The problem is the charge for this service is outrageous, allowing Elsevier in particular to collect excess rents (monopoly profits).

I have not yet joined the boycott, I am still debating internally. Words are cheap, actions have consequences. While undoubtedly I could get by, my students careers may be hurt if they were unable to publish in some of the highly ranked Elsevier journals. I count 7 papers currently under review in Elsevier journals and I don’t want to restart the process on all of them. I have published other papers in Elsevier journals. And of course, all this may flop.

In transportation we need more alternatives. There are not enough open content journals, and only a few other serious non-Elsevier choices. We have the following significant English-language non-Elsevier journals I am familiar with, (this list seems like a lot, but few have the reach or the legacy of the TR journals, and many are specialized):

* indicates open access.

[Did I miss any (I intentionally excluded journals from Bentham and SCIRP)?, a more comprehensive list is maintained by Robert Bertini here, a list of Open Access journals in Transport is here and Transportation is here ]

There are also lots of journals in adjacent fields (Safety, OR, Planning, Regional Science, Geography, Civil Engineering, etc.)

I have done what I can with JTLU, but I can’t operate 15 open access journals, other people need to step up. We need new models.

The whole publication field is in flux, Public Library of Science and arXiv have been around a while in the sciences, and a new initiative called Faculty of 1000 is promoting “post-publication” peer review in biology and medicine.

Previous posts on Elsevier:

Linklist: January 31, 2012

Metropolis Mag on The Socialist Car: Automobility in the Eastern Bloc:

“the collection of essays edited by Lewis Siegelbaum, is a fascinating look at automobile use, production, and urban planning behind the Iron Curtain. It reveals a system that, if far from socialist or egalitarian in origin, created a culture of automobile use distinct from the western world.”

Minnesota's Gas Tax Rate is Low by Historical Standards and Shrinking
Minnesota’s Gas Tax Rate is Low by Historical Standards and Shrinking

Carl Davis sends me to: Historical Gas Taxes for 26 States from Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (Minnesota’s is shown here) Building a Better Gas Tax – a set on Flickr

Why We Reason: How To Generate A Good Idea :

“The modern day coffeehouse can be found in the office buildings of the most innovative companies. At Pixar, for example, Steve Jobs insisted that the architect positioned the bathrooms at the center of the building so that the animator could easily strike up a conversation with the designer who could bounce ideas off of the COO. ” [internalizing economies of agglomeration]