About jaateixeira

Jose Teixeira is currently a doctoral candidate at the Information Systems Science department of Turku University. He worked and studied across many EU member states. He studied in Oporto University, IAE Aix-en-Provence, Turku School of Economics and Tilburg University, studying topics on computer science, information systems, management and economics. He also worked in the Industry for reputable companies such as Wipro, Tesco and Nokia. His research addresses the open-source software phenomenon from different economical point-of-views. More information on the researcher and its academic activities can be found at www.jteixeira.eu

A last post on academic publishing, open-access and bibliometric lists

Jose Teixeira photo
As an optimist young researcher I finally ”got it”. This blog post is my last ever public standing criticism on the academic publishing process, as an open-access activist I am already a persona non grata in certain academic circles. Most doctoral students simply research the world as it is, few others criticize and try to change the same world, but doctoral students should never criticize or try to change their own academic system (most probably will turn against them).

When in 1980, Tim Berners-Lee working for CERN, created the World Wide Web with the goal of easing the dissemination of research data and research publications, nothing would be like before. Researchers could exchange scientific knowledge by digital manners (faster, cheaper and without depending on the publishing business for printing and distributing knowledge via paper).  In terms of Information Systems research, it was almost in vain !!

The advantages of digitization were absolved by the publishers but not transferred to the researchers.  We are now paying many times more for accessing knowledge than in the early 80’s. The printing blocks disappeared, the typing process is now made by the researchers themselves, the paper format gave its way to pdf and distribution logistics are now run almost real-time on top of the Web. But since 1980, the price of academic publications increased three times more than the number of academic publications.

Researchers perform their research and send their papers as volunteers, reviewers and editors  filter and control the quality of papers also as volunteers. Then the publishers host a website, force the researchers to transfer their copyrights and then sell the same papers back to the same volunteers by exorbitant prices.

More recently, the publishers even start blaming the same volunteers for the increasing publications prices. The ”criminal” academics are pirating papers, and then publishers need to increase the their prices. Academics know, by data collected by several universities running printing blocks, that the price of publishing a printed journal booklet do not cost more that 3€ per page. But the same academics are paying as much as 30.000€ for four booklets as year. From the 30.000€ multiplied by the number of universities subscribing the academic journal, the publisher get fantastic profits. Plus and extra, they are more and more selling single article papers on the Web that can easily cost 100€.  The academics made most of the work and still they get almost nothing!!! All intellectual property and monetary gains are transferred to the publishers, researcher is left just with intangible academic prestige.

Open-access was fixing the issue. Universities and research institutions could act as self-publishers and if authors would pay a very small fee for publishing (i.e. 80€) the work would be published in public domain over the Internet without copyright transfers. But now with the imposed bibliographic lists, Information Systems researchers must publish on the same publications outlets that dominated the previous decades. No space for new journals. Even if an editorial board resigns from the traditional publishing model and lauches a new journal by open-access manners,  researchers will not get points by sending to the open-acess one.

Open-access journals were booming, in particle physics they only use open-access journals, in medicine and bio-technology open-access journals rank among the most prestegious, but Information Systems researchers lost the opportunity. Now with bibliometric lists, the emergence of open-acess journals was ihnibited.  Publishers won. I give up.  It was easy, the big publishers followed the same aproach as Francis Xavier when evagelizing India: Convince the Brahmins and they will convert the lower casts by themselves. Professors defined how and where everyone must disseminate their knowledge, and it was already diffused as in a proper pyramidal system.

I will see the budgeted funds from the national administrations flowing more and more to the publishers (for accessing knowledge) and less and less to the researchers (for producing knowledge). Doctoral thesis collections will be only unlocked with a credit card and researchers from the developing world will not a minimum chance of accessing fundamental knowledge by legal manners. For researchers I expect more precariousness while publishers are now safe,  they can continue exhibiting their journals on windows of pure gold and shinning glass.

I complained, debated, informed, raised attention. From prestigious academics I heard everything:  ”It’s a war that you need to win, we already won ours”, ”It’s not the right attitude to criticize the system” , ”If we all pay the subscription prices will go down”, ”Elsevier is a partially Dutch company”, ”What will happen to the wealth of America if we lose our leadership in the publishing industry”, ”You are right, but who are you to say it?”, ”You should forget ethical issues, they don’t matter for your career” , ”You must be on the top journal from the big brands and that’s it”. Some did not understand yet that this problem is affecting their end-of-month salary, many don’t care, others are too busy to do anything and me … I can’t do anything, I am just a doctoral candidate and public activism often turned against me.

It’s over, no more activism. For now one,  I play with the dictated rules, and then with luck I might continue having a job in academia, and perhaps in a dozen years, I might still have the power and the energy to impact the system.

The publishers won the war, they also made martirs like the respectful Aaron Swartz (creator of RSS syndication system) that suicide last January before fighting a 35 years jail term for illegally downloading research papers from JSTOR archive from the MIT WIFI network. As Swartz pointed, researchers can not do more that adopting guerilla tactics on the underground.

Here in Finland, publicly sharing your own papers via a digital platform is a crime punishable with 3 years of prison. In many countries, publishers are even allowed to watch the Internet networks and Universities Information Systems to identify violations of their Intellectual property rights.  But we still have the right of self-archiving our working papers (of course publishers might refuse to publish your final peer reviewed version). But we have some power still, we can safely distribute our printed working papers by regular mail without anyone watching it.

I will personally continue  being active on the evagelization of the open-acess, but never more public manners. Just guerrilha tactics, underground and peer-to-peer. At least I know that many of my close research peers and the poor researchers from all over the world will sympatise with the guerillha open-acess activists.

Jose Teixeira, Doctoral Candidate in Information Systems Science


Continuing on academic publishing, bibliometric lists and other random bits (2nd part)

Jose Teixeira photo

Did we open the bouteille de champagne? TSEpustuksia blog platform went live for a bit more than a year. Thanks to the efforts of Jonna Järveläinen and others at the Department of Management at Turku School of Economics, now part of University of Turku (Finland). Teachers and researchers linked to the department have yet another mechanism to spread their academic thoughts and ideas by the informal and often interesting blog manners.

For my first blog post, on October 2011, I shared some research drafting ideas on open-source technologies for realizing social networks and applications. With some of the feedback collected from the blog post readers, I worked on it and successfully shared my research findings in the 8th International Conference on Open Source Systems (http://oss2012.org/), the number one conference in my field held this year in Tunisia. Some success was achieved, but the work further continues and I will try to share my research insights to a more generalist audience (some information systems generalist journal).

On my second blog post, on February 2012, I share some of my thoughts on how academic publishing works, mentioned the open-access movement and the newly introduced Finnish bibliometric list that will have a depth impact on scholar daily work. My last blog post ends with a table with the TOP20 generalist journals in Information Systems Science and their ratings according the Finnish, Norwegian and Danish bibliometric lists.I also provided information on either those journals were indexed by the publishing super-houses Thomson Reuters and Elsevier, together with access information in either it is an open-access journal or correspondent 1 year subscription price (the retail price cost that universities need to pay to publishing houses for being able to access to the content of the publication online).

Lue loppuun

On academic publishing, bibliometric lists and other random bits

I wrote in this blog, for more a less four months ago, on my research project on open-source technologies realizing social networks and applications. I got surprised with the amount of feedback received even if to our TSEpustuksia is just beginning. I am very grateful to all colleagues that continued adding value to our wordpress blog (at expense of their valuable time ) and I am now wondering what to write about for my second post.

The  obvious, would be to describe further more my previous previous topic, that I am now “packing” as a Delphi study aimed to the International Conference on Open Source Systems, that is the number one conference in my research field. However, I been wondering and there been more interesting and emergent topics that I could write about:

First of all, I am concerned with the amount of “Apple-prising” research invading the academia. On Havard Business Review we find at least three “Apple-prising” published items. After reading this post from James Allworth raising so much discussion I wonder where the prestige of Havard Business Review can go. After a carefully reading Tilson, Sørensen and Lyytinen (2012) best-paper at HICSS45 plus Ghazawneh and Henfridsson (2010) at ICIS2010, I reflect that either the authors are biased (research on Apple sells as high as Ipads) or many of the unknown-secrets of managerial sciences are already behind Apple corporate doors.

An second topic would be, as someone concerned with citizens digital rights, on how different governments (Finnish included) so fastly passed the ACTA bill. An treaty on intellectual property enforcement that was initially disguised as yet another trade agreement and is now rising high polemic and protests among many EU countries.

This matters to researchers, because many of the publishers that we work with are constituent designers, promoters and negotiators of the SOPA, PIPA and ACTA bills presented to USA and EU governments for ratification. Moreover, this would have a lot of impacts on how universities would run virtual learning environments, OpenCourseWare and in-house publishing operations with new spread costs.

Even if I believe that those previous topics could deserve a space for discussion around our TSEpustuksia community, I decided to write about something more important, that might impact the day-to-day life of researchers in Finland: the bibliometric lists project, right now in production within the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies aka TSV.

Bibliometric lists are about publishing, one of the activities that most researchers must perform concurrently with other activities such reading, reviewing and teaching . As I got it from my supervisor, researchers get most of their sapienza by reading, but it’s what they write (publish) that most count to evaluation.

At middle of my doctoral studies I don’t know so much about publishing. But, as other doctoral students, I keep learning about it. First, by publishing few conference articles and a book chapter. However, besides the learning-by-doing,  there are many ways for a doctoral student to catalyze its knowledge on how academic publishing works. Some of the methodological courses help, reading essential literature, meeting editors, publication strategy seminars, etc, etc.

Outside our university setting, we can also learn interesting things about the academic publishing system, let’s take the example of the popular phd comic strips and from were I lent their comic originally published in 7/17/2009 from where I rip an explanation of the academic publishing contemporary business model.

It simply illustrates the business model of the reputed for-profit academic publishers such as Nature, Elsevier, Sage, Wiley, etc. Roughly explained, and using the roles of tax-payer, author, reviewer, editor and publisher it works like that:

  1. The tax-payer is, worldwide, the number one funder of research: He pays taxes and a small part is distributed to researchers at universities and other private/public bodies to do research that matters for society advancement.
  2. After performing the research work, researchers must share with the world their findings and contributions. He volunteers to send his paper for an academic publisher.
  3. Then the reviewers, also volunteers, perform peer-reviewing (an high effective quality control mechanism).
  4. The final word is with the editor. An well-reputed volunteer on the field will decide: ”to publish” or ”to not publish”.
  5. If the paper gets accepted, the publisher sends instructions to the author on how he must type/format his work before sending it for publication.
  6. Then the author transfers all the research copyright to the publisher by signing some form.
  7. The publisher then pack the paper on its website and sells it for-profit to the previous mentioned volunteers and other tax-payers for a max period of 50 years.

Lue loppuun

Open-source technologies facilitating social networks and applications


Online social networks are in vogue this days. Facebook is the primordial example, its currently the biggest social network within our WEIRD society (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic). Probably benefiting from being a USA and California based company, Facebook is also the online social network that most captured attention from the media, we are even able to see the Hollywood movie “The Social Network”dedicated to it.

I am personally very critical on Facebook. I don’t like their limited privacy settings or their site upgrading policy. As most of us know, within Facebook we are not just the users, we are the product. Corporate brand marketers quickly discover that targeting advertising based personal profiles and correspondent social graph work quite well. In last two years we saw marketing communication budgets flowing from traditional media, search engines and portals to social networks.

Advertisement on the traditional mass-media broadcast systems (tv, radio, newspapers) work almost as SPAM, meaning that everyone is seeing the Barbie commercial even if few of us are potential Barbie buyers. Google and other search engines can segment their users based on what they type and search for, extremely powerful ! However, from the advertiser point-of-view, I believe that Facebook raised the bar: adds can be targeted based on what we are (your profile);  based on our network connections (friends, groups, likes); and also on what we type and search for (as in the Google competitor).

From the users point-of-view, I personally think that Facebook does pretty bad things for their users: We can’t really remain anonymous, our privacy settings might change with the constant site upgrades or they might even trace we on the web after logging-out from the Facebook Internet site.  I also express sympathy with some of my “older” female friends constantly being targeted with “big size cloths”adds. I am also not convinced by both the tattoo and dissertation writing services suggested by Facebook to me.

However, I am mentioning Facebook because I admire them on the two following points related with my research interests. First of all, they successfully implemented a platform-based strategy.  By this I mean that, from the most early stage, Facebook exposed publicly on the Internet an open and well documented Application Programming Interface (API) that allowed any 3rd party software developers to access Facebook social graph and developed the so called Facebook apps.  According a Facebook press release, there are now 7 million apps, mostly developed by 3rd parties, adding value to Facebook, it’s users and partner advertisers. Competitors that followed a product-based strategy and established tight control over their own system seam to have lost the game. The second think that I admire on Facebook, is how they took different open-source software packages, integrate them, code the system and launch it in just a few days. Today’s Facebook system is still on top of a stack of open-source technologies. For this blog, I am writing about this second and last admiration on Facebook and I will follow report my views on the role of open-source software in realizing social networks and application.

The social networking industry on the Internet

Social networking software, or at least something very similar to it, already exist for decads. The so called social networking Internet sites are a bit newer. However this king of software, where people expose their social relationships on networked computer-based systems, become very trendy strongly impacting both the Industry and the Academia at many levels. Commonly, people already refer to a social networking industry. The PC industry started long ago, the Internet industry is from my time.  Is the social networking industry the “big bang” industry of our youth generation ?

The following Figure, circulating on the Internet, illustrates how competitive the social networking industry is. Great news for its users, social networks platforms continue being developed and improved at a titanic pace, and its applications continue to pop-up. Not so good news for risk-averse investors, since there are so many competitive platforms on a market competing under network effects, the ones investing on the wrong player might lose everything. The quite noticed News Corporation controlled by Rupert Murdoch, sold on June 2011 the former social networking champion Myspace for $35 million after buying it six years before for $580 million, an  humiliating investment for the billionaire.

Unfortunately, Finland does not have any worldwide known or reputed social networking website. Hover there is some hope: I would like to mention http://www.heiaheia.com/ competing among a set of very competitive “social networked sports training diaries” players; of course the http://bambuser.com/ start-up here from Turku competing on “social video broadcasting”; and the Helsinki-based http://www.habbo.com/ implementing a social network for youngsters in the form a virtual hotel.

Investigating open-source technologies realizing social networks and applications

As previously mentioned, I am very interested on what role the open-source software phenomenon  plays as a enabler of the social networks and correspondent applications. A set of research question could be: Do social networking players use open-source software? Does the use of open-source bring competitive advantages to social network players? Are established social networks players using open-source software after the stat-up phase ? Do they contribute back to the open-source community (work up-stream)?

Thanks to some good contacts established thanks to Turku School of Economics, University of Oslo and University of Toronto, I already got some answers :).  However much more future research must be conducted to get a better and more rigorous understanding on how open-source technologies are realising social networks and its application. During past August, I was able to conduct short face-to-face conversations with employees from well know social network websites that I present in the  following list:

Guess I don’t need to present this one, everyone talks about it, USA-based.
The leading peer-assisted music streaming system, Sweden-based.
One of the most global social networks for the youth, Belgium-based.
One of the most promising social networks compliant with users-privacy and control, Greece-based.

The following table lists some of the open-source technologies used by the previous presented four players. I am aware that the table is for most of us a set of IT technicalities, however, after talking with employees from those well-known social networks,  I feel that this table is a important part of the recipe on how to very fast and with low capital costs implement something cool that everyone is talking about.

Technology function

Integrated open-source software packages

Client-side programing languages C, C++, Java
Server-side programing languages Python, Java, Scala, Ruby, PHP
Database/Persitence Mysql, ext3 file-system organic extensions
Server OS kernel Linux
Web server Apache, nginx, php-fpm, HipHop

Load Balancer

Object cache http://memcached.org/, jemalloc
Search and indexing Ubersearch, Unicorn, sphinxsearch.com/
Configuration Management http://puppetlabs.com/
Process orchestration gearman.org, cron
Network monitoring zabbix.org/
Backup systems bacula.org/
Version control CVS, SVN, GIT
Statistics/BI/DW hadoop.apache.org, hbase.apache.org, HIVE, Sqlite
Testing phpunit, seleniumhq.org/, jenkins-ci.org/

I would conclude arguing that open-source plays a very important role in innovation. On our multiple-case studies, it lowered the entrance barriers for start-ups that are now recognised as global and innovative. It’s however sad to see government initiatives aimed at protecting the business interests of the old and established traditional engineering houses. For instance, in Finland, regulatory requirements in health-care completely nulls possibilities for open-source medical software startups.  Innovation on Finnish health-care IT systems seams to be only allowed if it comes from Tieto, Logica, IBM, SAP, GE among other few giants.

__END__ … Continues in a next episode !!!

About the author:

Jose Teixeira is currently a doctoral student at the Information Systems Science department of Turku University. He worked and studied across many EU member states. He studied in Oporto University, IAE Aix-en-Provence, Turku School of Economics and Tilburg University, studying topics on computer science, information systems, management and economics. He also worked in the Industry for reputable companies such as Wipro, Tesco and Nokia. His research addresses the open-source software phenomenon from different economical point-of-views.