The Limited Accessibility of Gifted Education Research

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This post:

  • reviews the current accessibility of gifted education research and finds it sadly wanting;
  • surveys and compares the nine leading gifted education journals; and
  • proposes immediate action to make a far larger proportion of the research they publish available free of charge to all potential readers.

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Background

One aim of this Blog is to make freely available to all readers the widest possible range of detailed, reliable and up-to-date information about the current state of global gifted education.

This effort is undertaken in the firm belief that – wherever they are in the world and whatever the nature of their involvement – everyone with an interest in securing effective gifted education can benefit considerably from knowing about provision and practice elsewhere.

While ‘policy tourism’ is highly inadvisable, ‘policy insularity’ is still more damaging, because it results in policy makers assessing their options from a position of comparative ignorance, without the benefit of information about how things are done in other countries.

Such myopia is outdated in a globalised environment. There is no advantage in – and much to be lost by – indulging a taste for policy xenophobia.

Unfortunately I am forced to ration the supply of this material, partly because a single human being with other responsibilities and commitments has limited capacity to devote to it, but also because many of the sources of information upon which these posts depend are severely restricted.

It is a matter of principle (and a source of some pride) that I avoid sources that are hidden behind paywalls and so only accessible to those who can afford to access them. I prefer to draw on material that is freely available online and, more often than not, to include hyperlinks to significant sources in my posts, so that readers can consult them if they choose.

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Putting Some Preliminary Cards on the Table

Frequent readers will know that I am guilty of harbouring some resentment towards academic researchers, primarily because I believe they have for too long dominated efforts to organise international and global collaboration in the field of gifted education – yet with an all too conspicuous lack of success.

As I see it, they tend to operate a closed shop which primarily benefits other academic researchers, and which restricts the availability of their work to those outside their charmed circle.

As an ex-policy maker – and now a blogger with enough idealism intact to believe that free-to-access online writing can make a real difference – I heartily dislike the restrictive practices that seem to underpin so much academic research, seemingly aided and abetted by academic publishing, its bedfellow and partner in crime.

Of course I recognise that there are pockets of good practice – and nothing I say here should be taken as applying to particular organisations and individuals, especially those mentioned later in this post.

But still I find it hard to ignore an insistent negative internal voice which marshals a superficially convincing quiver of barbed arguments:

  • The vast majority of gifted education research is only available to those who can afford the subscriptions, or else belong to an academic library, typically located in an institution of higher education, that will meet that cost on their behalves. Publishers typically charge over the odds for access to such material, so are likely to be making significant profits, out of all proportion to the relatively limited value they add to quality assurance and the dissemination process.
  • The vast majority of keynote contributions at state/regional, national and international gifted education conferences are allocated to the academics that have produced such research. They use these opportunities to present their published arguments in outline to the small minority of consumers who can afford the hefty fees, travel and subsistence costs necessary to attend the conference location. More often than not, they seize the chance to advertise the priced publications that contain their research, as well as any other materials they endorse or services they provide.
  • These researchers predominantly address each other, constantly engaged in an iterative, regenerative process whereby one research article begets another. The gifted education research industry is inherently self-obsessed, unhelpfully besotted with vacuous scholarship and research for research’s sake. Too few have anything substantive to say about effective practice or how to improve it. Too many are perpetually chasing citations, focused excessively on building their reputations and those of the institutions to which they belong.
  • There is comparatively little effort to promote fruitful partnership and collaboration, even within this research community, and still less between researchers and other more important stakeholder groups such as learners, parents, advocates, practitioners, educators and policy makers. Too often researchers are complicit in making these potential partners feel like second class citizens, while publishers are almost entirely absent from this process.

Such factors militate against the full and free exchange of information and data, especially about effective provision (and comparatively less effective provision too), open access to which is an essential prerequisite if we are to work collectively and collaboratively to improve the scope and quality of global gifted education.

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Salford Quays 1 by Gifted Phoenix

Salford Quays 1 by Gifted Phoenix

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Rant over.

It is all too easy to spout these anecdotal, impressionistic views without properly examining the evidence base (and all too easy for researchers and their ilk to criticise bloggers for indulging in such opinionated hearsay).

So what is the true position on the availability and accessibility of gifted education research and, more to the point, what action can be taken to improve matters?

Several previous posts have offered some partial solutions:

.‘Give priority to effective dissemination of high quality research, the professional development of young researchers, and collaboration between researchers and with the other stakeholder groups in gifted education. It could provide the basis for an international think tank dedicated to solving the problems that we face in contemporary gifted education.’

  • More recently I made clear my intention to host some open access gifted education research on this blog, alongside ‘An Evolving Gifted Education Key Documents Collection’ and in February 2013 I created a new section called ‘OpenGate Research’ inviting other gifted educators active via social media to send me links to open access research that might be considered for inclusion.

I soon discovered why the response was so muted. There is very little gifted education research freely available on open access terms. And what is available is also extremely difficult to locate.

So I determined to write this post, set against the broad backdrop of increasing advocacy for open access research, regardless of discipline, much of it driven by the academic research community, though not conspicuously so in the field of gifted education.

The first section analyses the contribution made by what I judge to be the nine leading specialist gifted education journals, taking them in alphabetical order.

Needless to say, I recognise that much gifted education research is published in other, smaller journals, typically with a national reach, or in different non-specialist journals. But broadly the same conditions apply, regardless of discipline. And where the international journals lead, the national journals follow.

I have attached an Appendix which contains full details of the current membership of review boards for all nine journals. Some names crop up again and again. Some journals maintain huge lists, but there is simultaneously a general sense of clique and narrowness which cannot be helpful to the field.

The mid-section of the post examines the rights allocated to authors of research articles by the publishers of these journals, as well as their emerging response to increased pressure for open access.

This provides a basis for the proposals in the final part of the post for making gifted education research much more accessible, entirely free of charge, to a much wider range of consumers

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The Top International Gifted Education Journals

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Comparison of Key Facts

The summary Table below summarises key information about the nine journals featured in this analysis. The subsequent text enlarges on this, providing further detail about editorial arrangements in particular.

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GTI GEI GCQ GCT HAS JEG JAA RR TDE
Publisher WCGTC Sage Sage Sage T&F Sage Sage T&F IRATDE
Editions per year 2 3 4 4 2 4 4 4 2
Number of pages* 176 101 147 151 72 150 70 75 199
Number of substantive articles* 20 7 6 4 4 8 3 8 7
Individual subscription $75^ £113# £141# £29 £85# £39 £39 £40# 0
Institutional subscription - £263 £144 £61 £309 £111 £111 £94 0
Cost per article 0 $25 $20 $25 £23.50 $25 $25 £23 0
Cost per past issue 0 £49@ £39x £9@ £171 £13@ £13@ £26 0
Earliest edition in online archive 1982 1982 1957 1978 1991 1988 1995 1978 2009

Notes

For an explanation of the various acronyms go to the commentary below

*Most recent edition

^ membership subscription

#individual subscription only available in print format

@ individual rate for print issue

x only an institutional rate for a print issue is provided

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What can be drawn from this initial comparison? On the face of it, Gifted and Talented International (GTI) seems particularly voluminous, but this was a special edition containing responses to a target article – the two editions produced in 2011 contain only 14 substantive articles between them, so a figure of seven per issue may be more typical.

If we divide the subscription cost by the number of articles it purchases, this gives a rough average cost per article of $5.00, equivalent to £3.25 in pounds sterling.

Applying this calculation to the other publications gives an approximate ‘value for money’ indicator for individual subscribers to each journal.

Average costs per substantive article are around: £5.38 (GEI); £5.87 (GCQ); £1.81 (GCT); £10.62 (HAS); £1.21 (JEG); £3.25 (JAA); £1.25 (RR) and of course 0 (TDE). On this measure, Talent Development and Excellence (TDE) is inevitably best value for money, while High Ability Studies (HAS) is clearly the worst.

The fact that four of the nine journals still appear only to offer individual subscriptions in print format, with no online option is, frankly, amazing. It would suggest that individual subscribers are forced to purchase the significantly higher individual subscriptions to secure online access.

Where they exist, these institutional subscriptions are more expensive in all cases, but the mark-up varies enormously. Institutional subscribers have to pay just £3 more for Gifted Child Quarterly (GCQ) but a whopping £224 more for HAS.

The cost of purchasing a single article from a journal archive is broadly similar across the subscription journals, ranging from around £13.00 for GCQ to £23.50 for HAS.

There is much more variation in the cost of access to an entire past issue, with HAS being three times more expensive than its nearest rival. However (with the exception of GTI and TDE which make online issues freely available), only HAS and the Roeper Review (RR) – both published by Taylor and Francis – seem to make past issues available in an online format, as opposed to print.

GCQ clearly has the best-stocked archive, covering a period of 56 years but, with the exception of newcomer TDE, all the remaining archives span a period of between 18 and 35 years. There is, therefore, a substantive back catalogue of gifted education research, some of it now very old and much of that almost certainly superannuated.

It is time to take a look at each journal in a little more detail.

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Salford Quays 2 by Gifted Phoenix

Salford Quays 2 by Gifted Phoenix

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Gifted and Talented International (GTI)

Gifted and Talented International  is the journal of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children (WCGTC).

It was first published in 1982 and typically appears twice a year, though the online archive contains a total of only 41 editions spanning this period of 31 years. There was only one edition in 2012 (August) and, at the time of writing (April), no 2013 edition has appeared.

Back in 2011 volumes did appear in August and December respectively, but the more recent publication history suggests that World Council members are currently not getting best value for their subscriptions.

The World Council says simply that the purpose of GTI is to:

‘Share current theory, research, and practice in gifted education with its audience of international educators, scholars, researchers, and parents.’

The online archive is described as available only to those with a membership subscription (currently US$75 per year) but open links can be found easily via a search engine, making GTI relatively more accessible than most of its competitors.

Owing to a printing error, the August 2012 edition omits the names of the editorial board, but the 2011 publications confirm that the Editor-in-Chief is Taisir Subhi Yamin of the International Centre for Innovation in Education (ICIE), lately President of the Council’s Executive Committee.

There are also five Associate Editors: Todd Lubart, Ken McCluskey, Peter Merrotsy, Trevor Tebbs and Dorothy Sisk (who edited the first edition in 1982).

A 34-strong ‘International Editorial Review Board 2009-2013’ includes several gifted education luminaries including Freeman, Gross, Persson, Renzulli, Subotnik, Treffinger, Gentry, Kaplan, Rogers, Shore and Touron. The dates suggest that the Board is refreshed every four years, with the next occasion scheduled for later this year.

More than a handful of the articles in the most recent August 2012 edition were written by members of this Board, suggesting that they are engaged to a significant extent in peer reviewing each other’s work. This is not atypical.

The submission guidelines say that:

‘Manuscripts submitted to the GTI should contain original research, theory or accounts of practice. Submission of a manuscript to the GTI represents a certification on the part of the author(s) that it is an original work, and that neither this manuscript nor a version of it has been published previously nor is being considered for publication elsewhere. If accepted by this journal, it is not to be published elsewhere without permission from the GTI.’

The sole exemption is for ‘conference papers included as part of conference proceedings’.

As we shall see, this requirement is not atypical either – none of these journals are interested in reproducing work that has been published already, presumably because they want to monopolise its supply in the market, at least in the short term, so as to maximise income.

There is apparently no demand from readers for recycled material, unless it is free of charge.

Publication seems to be handled in-house, or else sub-contracted to one of the organisations supplying the main editorial team.

As for copyright:

‘Authors of accepted manuscripts must transfer copyrights to the GTI which holds copyrights to all articles and reviews. Authors, may, of course, use the article elsewhere after publication, providing that prior permission is obtained from the WCGTC.’

Does this mean that authors are entirely free to re-use their articles whenever and wherever they wish, subject only to approval from the World Council, or does the Council adopt a set of standard permissions, similar to those operated by Sage and Taylor and Francis and set out later in this post?

If they do operate a set of standard rules, it would be helpful for them to be published. Conversely, if they do not, an explicit statement of that fact would be equally helpful.

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Gifted Education International (GEI)

Gifted Education International is part of the Sage Publications stable.

Sage describes itself as ‘a world leader in our chosen scholarly, educational and professional markets’. Sage was founded in 1965 and has 700 employees based in offices in the US, UK, India and Singapore. It publishes over 400 journals per year covering some 40 different disciplines.

The Editor of GEI is Belle Wallace, Director of TASC International UK, who has fulfilled that role since 1981. A further nine Consultant Editors are named, six of them UK-based, including Barry Hymer, Hilary Lowe, Sue Mordecai, and Ian Warwick.

GEI is described as:

‘A peer-reviewed journal that provides support, information and guidance on all aspects of gifted education. It is essential reading for teachers, parents, lecturers in education, psychologists and social workers, administrators and anyone interested in the field of gifted education.’

The 19-strong Editorial Board features names such as Freeman, Landau, Maker, Moltzen, Renzulli and Jiannong Shi. There is significant overlap with the Review Board of GTI.

The statement of aims and scope emphasises: developing awareness of the needs of gifted learners; a focus on identification, especially of underachieving, disadvantaged and minority ethnic gifted learners; the production of curriculum extension materials; good practice in schools; guidance for teachers and parents on courses and activities; and reflecting ‘current national and international thinking’.

GEI is unique amongst the nine in appearing three times a year. Issues are scheduled for January, May and June respectively, but the recent publication history suggests a more flexible arrangement. Editions appeared in January, May and September in 2012, January only in 2011 and January, May, September and December in 2010.

A small selection of a dozen ‘Editor’s Choice’ articles are described as ‘free to access until 31 December 2012’ and the text promises that more articles will be added to this list ‘throughout the year’.

None of the articles seem free at the time of writing. If the page relates only to 2012, it is unclear why the publisher has left it online some three months after the offer has closed.

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Salford Quays 3 by Gifted Phoenix

Salford Quays 3 by Gifted Phoenix

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Gifted Child Quarterly (GCQ)

Gifted Child Quarterly is also a Sage publication described as ‘the premier scholarly journal of the National Association for Gifted Children’.

The home page tells us that GCQ has an Impact Factor of 0.750 and is ranked ‘38 out of 51 in Psychology, Educational and 23 out of 37 in Education, Special’. The source for this assessment is given as ‘2011 Journal Citation Reports® (Thomson Reuters, 2012)’.

Unfortunately, this service itself requires a subscription, so further information is not freely available to consumers. There is some irony in that.

On the face of it, the performance of GCQ is nothing to write home about, compared with other journals in its classes, though it does out-perform the only other journal in our sample that admits to inclusion in these ratings, namely High Ability Studies (see below).

GCQ has joint editors – Betsy McCoach and Del Siegle, both of the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut.  An Assistant Editor and Catherine Little, one of two Associate Editors are also based there; the remaining Associate – Gail Ryser – is at Texas State.

The Editorial Review Board is colossal – well over 100-strong. It features many of the most prominent names in gifted education, the vast bulk of them located in the USA.

The statement of the Journal’s aims and scope says that it:

‘publishes original scholarly reviews of the literature and quantitative or qualitative research studies… manuscripts offering new or creative insights about giftedness and talent development in the context of the school, the home, and the wider society. Manuscripts that explore policy and policy implications are also welcome.’

The information page on NAGC’s own website adds that it:

‘offers reviews and critiques of books and tests with an emphasis on scholarly texts, texts with policy implications, or instruments with potential use in assessing gifted children and youth. In addition, GCQ on occasion publishes special issues devoted to current topics of interest to the field.

GCQ also serves an archival function for the National Association for Gifted Children, publishing position papers and other official documents of the organization.’

Unless I have missed them, there are no helpful links to publishing agreements, so one assumes that the standard Sage provisions apply (see below).

GCQ appears on a quarterly basis – in January, April, July and October. The online archive covers the full publication history. Amazingly, 56 year-old articles from the very first edition are still not freely available, costing US$20 a pop to access.

The same price applies to the articles in the most recent April 2013 edition. This fixed pricing policy for already-published articles seems ubiquitous amongst our sample.

An institutional subscription for print and e-access costs £144.00 per year, while a print-only individual subscription is very similar at £141 per year. One assumes that many individuals pay the extra £3 per year to secure online access.

However, NAGC members have free access to the electronic archive. (It costs US$ 99 per year to be a member, though graduate students pay only $US 59).

Whereas the institutional subscription for GCQ is much cheaper than it is for GEI, the individual subscription is more expensive. (It may be that NAGC has negotiated its own prices with the publisher.)

NAGC runs a ‘GCQ Paper of the Year Award’ with detailed published criteria, the flavour of which can be conveyed by this extract embodying stylistic expectations:

‘The writing style of the article is engaging and appropriate for the topic and the GCQ readership using language that takes readers to a new level of understanding.  The writing is clearly focused, purposeful and leads to key points or conclusions. The article is technically sound, but results and discussion are accessible to a broad range of GCQ readers. Language and style make the article more elegant than one would normally expect.’

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Gifted Child Today (GCT)

Gifted Child Today is also a Sage publication, though directed more at teachers, administrators and parents.

The blurb says it:

‘includes articles about topics such as teaching strategies in gifted education, building a more effective gifted and talented program, and working with gifted children with learning disabilities. The Journal also…features information about raising a gifted child, how to tell if your child is gifted, and effective strategies for parenting a gifted child…

As the leading resource on teaching and parenting gifted children, Gifted Child Today includes regular columns by the nation’s most respected experts in the field of gifted education.’

This suggests that it is designed primarily – if not exclusively – for US consumption.

The Editor is Susan K Johnsen, located at Baylor University. She is assisted by a Managing Editor and an Associate Editor, both also based at Baylor.

There are some 24 names on the Editorial Board, including luminaries such as Cross, Ford, Gallagher, Kaplan, Olszewski-Kubilius, Roberts, Siegle and VanTassel-Baska.

Rather confusingly, the notes on manuscript submission say that:

‘Authors of accepted manuscripts must give SAGE exclusive right to publish content’

which, if correct, may mean that Sage’s standard provisions do not apply and that authors retain no publication rights whatsoever. I cannot believe that this is what is intended.

The journal is quarterly, appearing in January, April, July and October. Like GEI, it offers an ‘Editor’s Choice’ collection, this time comprising some 30 articles. At the time of writing, these remain free to access and no time limit is given for the expiry of the offer.

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High Ability Studies (HAS)

High Ability Studies is the first of two in our sample published by Taylor and Francis Online, part of the Taylor and Francis Group (which incorporates Routledge amongst others).

Taylor and Francis call themselves:

‘one of the world’s leading publishers of scholarly journals, books, ebooks and reference works’.

They publish over 1,700 journals per year, more than four times as many as Sage, and are part of a bigger multinational company, Informa, which boasts 7,000 employees.

HAS is described as ‘the official scholarly journal of the European Council for High Ability’ (ECHA).

As noted above, it also has a rating from Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports 2011. The 2011 Impact Factor is 0.417 and the Ranking in the Education, Special Category is 28th of 37.

So the Impact Factor of HAS is much lower than the comparative score for GCQ, which is also five places higher in the Education, Special ranking.

ECHA’s site contains the strange (and poorly punctuated) claim that:

‘High Ability Studies is included in Social Sciences Citation Index this makes it the most important journal in Gifted Education’.

They appear conveniently to have forgotten the higher ranking attributed to GCQ.

The aims and purpose of HAS are described identically on the journal website and on ECHA’s own site:

‘It is a medium for the promotion of high ability, whether through the communication of scientific research, theory, or the exchange of practical experience and ideas.

…Far from being restricted to the traditional focus on high-level cognitive development, it also presents investigations into all other areas of human endeavour, including sport, technology, the arts, business, management and social relations.

…Consequently, the journal presents material which is relevant to researchers in the field, to managers who have highly able individuals employed, to policy makers who need to find frameworks by which to make the best use of high ability in society, to mentors, coaches, teachers, counsellors and parents of highly able children. Furthermore, the contents are not restricted to the study of manifest high level achievement, but include the identification and nurturance of unexercised potential.’

HAS also has an ‘Editor-in-Chief’, namely Heidrun Stoeger from the University of Regensburg, Germany. She is supported by an Editorial Assistant, also based at Regensburg.

ECHA’s own website (but not the Taylor and Francis website) mentions an Editorial Board, comprising Stoeger, Kurt Heller (Germany), Ernst van Lieshout (Netherlands) and Judy Lupart (Canada).

An International Advisory Board contains 37 gifted education luminaries from Europe and beyond, including Ericsson, Freeman, Gagne, Grigorenko, Heller, Moon, Sternberg, Subotnik, Tirri, Touron and Ziegler. The Editorial Board are also members of the Advisory Board.

HAS is published twice a year, in June and December. It was first published in 1996, but a predecessor ‘European Journal of High Ability’ was in existence from 1991 to 1995. The online repository contains both publications.

Although institutional subscription – print and online – cost £309.00 per year and print only individual subscriptions cost £85, ECHA members receive the journal free (presumably also in print mode). Individual membership costs Euros 60 per year.

The news and offers section of the website currently trails ‘free access to a selection of Inclusion and Special Educational Needs articles’. The initial link takes one to a page listing several articles, including three from HAS, but the links to these direct one back to the standard request for a payment of £23.50 per article.

There is however one small mercy for which to be thankful – a free-to-access ‘sample copy’, currently the July 2011 edition.

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Salford Quays 4 by Gifted Phoenix

Salford Quays 4 by Gifted Phoenix

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Journal for the Education of the Gifted (JEG)

Journal for the Education of the Gifted is another Sage title described as ‘the Official Publication of the Association for the Gifted (a Division of the Council for Exceptional Children)’.

The Editor of JEG is Tracy Cross of William and Mary College, who is also one of CEC-TAG’s Board of Directors. The Managing Editor is Jennifer Riedl Cross (presumably his partner) and the Assistant Editor is Lori Andersen. Both are William and Mary staffers.

Unusually, there is an Editorial Board – of 16 – and a parallel Advisory Editorial Board containing a further eight names. Amongst the 24 are: Yun Dai, Ford, Johnsen, Roberts, Mendaglio, Monks, Neihart, Olszewski-Kubilius, Robinson and Subotnik.

The description of the journal on the Sage website says it:

‘publishes articles that present:

  • original research with practical relevance to the education of the gifted and talented,
  • theoretical position papers,
  • descriptions of innovative programming and instructional practices for the gifted and talented based on existing or novel models of gifted education,
  • reviews of the literature in areas pertinent to the education of the gifted and talented, and
  • historical perspectives.’

It addresses:

‘topics such as the characteristics of gifted children, effective schools for gifted children, gifted children with learning disabilities, the history of gifted education, and building successful gifted and talented programs.’

JEG first appeared in October 1988 – and the first edition is included in the online archive even though the Sage home page unaccountably says the earliest edition dates from ‘January 1993’.

It is published on a quarterly basis, in March, June, September and December. While Sage is up-to-date, carrying the most recent volume 36(1) from March 2013, CEC-TAG is stuck in a timewarp meanwhile, offering as a sample of its wares the abstracts from Volume 34, now two years old.

Subscriptions to JEG cost £111 for institutional print and e-access and a competitive £39 for individual print and e-access. However, all individual articles, from the oldest to the newest, cost US$25 to access. (Why one price is shown in sterling and the other only in US dollars is not clear – but this seems to apply to all Sage publications.)

Members of CEC-TAG get access to the four annual issues of JEG plus the online archive. Membership seems to cost around US$ 140-170 per year depending on location, though the site is not entirely clear about fees.

The author’s terms are presumably the standard Sage offering (see below), though there is no link to these from the page covering manuscript submission.

There is however an additional note:

‘Submission of a manuscript implies commitment to publish in this journal. Authors submitting manuscripts to the journal should not simultaneously submit them to another journal, nor should manuscripts have been published elsewhere in substantially similar content. Authors in doubt about what constitutes prior publication should consult the editor.’

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Journal of Advanced Academics (JAA)

The Journal of Advanced Academics  is yet another Sage production. It too is quarterly, appearing each February, May, August and November.

The statement of aims and scope says that the JAA:

‘publishes articles that feature strategies for increasing academic achievement, programs that promote high levels of academic achievement and engagement, and programs that prepare students to engage in high-level and rigorous academics.

…articles may include the following topics:

  • Curricular and instructional differentiation
  • Programs and strategies for closing the achievement gap
  • Programs that provide enrichment or acceleration in advanced content areas.
  • Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Honors Programs.
  • Advanced mathematics and high-level reading strategies.’

The Editors are Michael Matthews, of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Matthew McBee of East Tennessee State University.

The Assistant Editor is an MA student also based at East Tennessee and there are two Associate Editors – Elizabeth Shaunessy of the University of South Florida and Jill Adelson of the University of Louisville.

Another long list of academics appears on the Editorial Review Board. Several seem to be younger, less established dons, but the more august representatives include: Callahan, Ford, Gentry, Gubbins, Moon, Olszewski-Kubilius, Piirto, Rimm, Rogers, Tieso, Tomlinson, VanTassell Baska and Worrall.

Almost all of the Review Board are USA-based although, somewhat queerly, in this list Matthew McBee’s East Tennessee employer has been relocated across the border in Canada!

The Journal’s stated publication policy says explicitly that it:

‘prohibits authors from submitting the same manuscript for concurrent consideration by two or more publications… prohibits as well publication of any manuscript that has already been published in whole or substantial part elsewhere.’

Subscriptions are identical to those for the JEG. An institutional subscription – both print and e-access – costs £111 per year, while an individual subscription on the same basis costs a respectable £39 per year. In both cases, the print-only alternative for individuals is much higher at £109, suggesting that these publications are atypical in seeking to encourage online access while reducing the production of hard copies.

According to the home page, the Journal was first published in August 1999, but the archive goes back a further four years to August 1995. Either way this is a relatively recent addition to the fold. All articles cost US$ 25 to access. A note on the archive says there are issues missing however.

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Roeper Review (RR)

The Roeper Review is the second Taylor and Francis publication in our selection.

Its aims and scope are explained thus:

‘The Roeper Review is an international, quarterly, refereed journal publishing scholarly articles that pertain to practice, policy, applied research, and theory in all dimensions of gifted education. Articles are thought provoking and often interdisciplinary. The Roeper Review aims to enhance the development of gifted individuals and the improvement of the world through more attention to giftedness, talent development, and creativity guided by ethical awareness. Diverse topics include: theories and philosophical analyses pertinent to giftedness, talent, and creativity; gender issues; curriculum studies; instructional strategies; educational psychology; elementary/early childhood/secondary education of the gifted; emotional, motivation, and affective dimensions of gifted individuals; differentiating instruction; teacher education; tests, measurement, and evaluation; and program development.’

The Editor is Don Ambrose of Rider University in New Jersey. The Managing Editor is Ann Ambrose, who is presumably related. There are also two Editorial Assistants and a Book Review Section Editor – Anne Rinn, from the University of North Texas.

A seven-strong Editorial Advisory Board includes Cross, Neihart and Tirri, while a much larger list of Contributing Editors names, amongst others: Borland, Delisle, Ford, Gagne, Olenchak, Piirto, Robinson, Rogers, Silverman, Smutny, Subotnik, VanTassel-Baska and Worrall.

The instructions for authors say that:

‘Each manuscript must be accompanied by a statement that it has not been published elsewhere and that it has not been submitted simultaneously for publication elsewhere. Authors…are required to sign an agreement for the transfer of copyright to the publisher. All accepted manuscripts, artwork, and photographs become the property of the publisher.’

This Journal also appears on a quarterly basis. A personal subscription is only available in print format and costs £40 per year. An institutional subscription – print and online – costs £94 per year. The online repository stretches back to 1978. Individual articles cost £23 to access (with permanent access to the issue charged at £26).

The section of the website called ‘News and Offers’ carries links to two separate priced publications written by Ambrose, the Editor. There is however, a section called ‘Featured Articles’ giving access to the full text of six articles dating from 2011. Free access is also given to the journal’s top-cited article, originally published in 2000.

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Talent Development and Excellence (TDE)

Talent Development and Excellence is different to its rivals in that it is already fully open access and published online by the International Research Association for Talent Development and Excellence (IRATDE).

TDE’s statement of purpose says that:

‘The articles contain original research or theory on talent development, expertise, innovation, or excellence. The Journal is currently published twice annually. All published articles are assessed by a blind refereeing process and reviewed by at least two independent referees. Users have the right to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of articles.’

This is the only reference to an expectation that the material to be published is original, so TDE is noticeably less insistent on this point than its peers.

The Journal was first published in 2009 and has appeared twice a year since 2010.

There are two Editors in Chief – Albert Ziegler of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and Jiannong Shi of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The remainder of the Editorial Board comprises Bettina Harder of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Wilma Vialle of the University of Wollongong, Australia and Xiaoju Duan of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Ziegler, Shi and Vialle are also members of IRATDE’s Executive Committee, as is Stoeger, the Editor of HAS.

TDE has an International Advisory Board with 15 members but also lists a further 21 ‘Ad Hoc Reviewers’. The Advisory Board includes: Grigorenko, Merrotsy, Porath, Sternberg, Touron and Vialle. Ad hoc reviewers include Heller, Rindermann and Urban.

While TDE articles are easily and freely accessible, the instructions for authors do say that:

‘It is a condition of publication that authors assign copyright or licence the publication rights in their articles, including abstracts, to the International Research Association for Talent Development and Excellence.’

However, this is open enough not to inhibit authors from making parallel use of their own work, since the license granted may presumably be of the Creative Commons variety. Some further clarification would be helpful.

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Salford Quays 5 by Gifted Phoenix

Salford Quays 5 by Gifted Phoenix

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More About the Rights of Authors Published in these Journals

As noted above, there is some lack of clarity about the rights enjoyed by authors published in the two independent journals in our sample and – even in the journals published by Sage and Taylor and Francis – it is not always entirely clear that the standard provisions apply in all respects.

But what are those standard provisions? The two publishers set out broadly similar arrangements, but they are not identical. In both cases they seem unnecessarily complex and are difficult to interpret.

I stop short of suggesting that this complexity is deliberate; nevertheless, it is highly likely that it hinders the full exploitation by authors of the flexibilities granted to them.

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Sage

Sage’s policy is that authors of articles sign a funding agreement:

‘under which the author retains copyright in the work but grants SAGE the sole and exclusive right and licence to publish for the full legal term of copyright.  Exceptions may exist where assignment of copyright is required or preferred by a proprietor other than SAGE. In this case copyright in the work will be assigned from the author to the society.’

This may be the source of the statement I drew attention to in respect of GTC, above, but – as we shall see – there are several exemptions to this apparently blanket statement.

Somewhat ironically, the primary justification Sage offer for this practice is that ‘we seek to bring your article to the widest possible readership’.

A secondary justification is to enable Sage to ‘ensure adequate protection against infringement of copyright’.

Author’s rights can vary according to the journal. Sage advises that authors check for any journal-specific policies (though, as we have seen above, these are not always clear and explicit). In the absence of such arrangements, one must assume that the standard provisions apply.

These are summarised in the general statement of policy, but the detailed version is squirrelled away in a Word document available from the penultimate hyperlink on this page.

Contrary to my expectations before I researched this topic, authors already enjoy a fair amount of flexibility under current ‘closed access’ arrangements.

Permission is not required for an author to:

  • Distribute photocopies for teaching purposes or to supply an article ‘on an individual basis to research colleagues’ provided this is on a ‘not-for-profit basis’.
  • Circulate or post on any repository or website the original version of the article – so without any amendments consequent upon peer review – and to do this at any time.
  • Post the final version of the article, as accepted for publication, on any repository or website at least 12 months after publication. However, the repository must be ‘non-commercial’ (which presumably means that no charge can be made for access).
  • Republish the article in a printed publication that the author, has ‘written, edited or compiled provided that this is at least 12 months after publication and ‘reference is made to first publication by SAGE/SOCIETY’.

In all these cases, Sage requires a hyperlink to the online journal where the article was first published and a standard acknowledgement. Any other requests must be forwarded for consideration by Sage.

Several restrictions are specified:

  • The SAGE-created PDF of the published Contribution may not be posted at any time’. (Why this must be the case is not explained. It seems an arcane distinction when the text is likely to be identical to the version as accepted for publication. Presumably there is nothing to prevent the author creating his own PDF using SAGE’s style guide and templates.)
  • Each time the article is used – or indeed any part of it – it must include ‘the copyright notice that appears on the issue of the Journal in which the Contribution is first published and a full bibliographic citation to the Journal as published by SAGE’.
  • Copies of the article, or any part of it, cannot be ‘sold, distributed, or reproduced for commercial purposes’ – a term explained in this context as exploitation for monetary gain, whether by the author or a third party, or ‘for indirect financial gain by a commercial entity’.
  • The Contribution, or any part of it, shall not be used for any systematic external distribution by a third party (e.g., a listserve or database connected to a public access server).’

The distinction between ‘systematic external distribution by a third party’ and posting the article on any repository or website is not explained.

It is not clear whether providers of repositories fall within or outside the definition of ‘third party’ (see Taylor and Francis’s alternative formulation below).

The distinction between a repository and a database is fine indeed and may simply be a matter of terminology. Greater clarity on this matter would be highly desirable.

It does seem though that the author has to place the article rather than a third party.

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Taylor and Francis

Taylor and Francis’s policy is even more extensive, and supported by a detailed Q and A, but is ultimately very similar.

The section on copyright says:

We recommend that authors assign copyright in journal articles to Taylor & Francis or the journal proprietor (such as a learned society on whose behalf we publish). Our belief is that the assignment of copyright…allows Taylor & Francis… to properly manage both an author’s and proprietor’s intellectual property rights (IPR) associated with the article, and to act on an author’s and proprietor’s behalf when resolving allegations of plagiarism, abuse of moral rights, or infringements of copyright…Most importantly, we believe assignment enhances the reputation and prestige of the journal, its proprietor, its editors and editorial board, its peer review processes, and the added value we bring.’

Quite how assignment of copyright enhances the reputation of a journal is not explained.

The rights retained by authors allow them to:

  • Share the original version of the article – prior to peer review – in either print or online format, provided that this is undertaken on a non-commercial basis.
  • Post this original version on the author’s ‘own website for personal or professional use, or on your institution’s network or intranet or website, or in a subject repository that does not offer content for commercial sale or for any systematic external distribution by a third party’, provided it is accompanied by a standard acknowledgment carrying a link to the relevant Taylor and Francis journal. (This is a slightly different take on ‘systematic external distribution by a third party’ to that adopted by Sage, in that it suggests that the third party is someone not linked to either the author or the author’s institutional intranet/website or any subject repository, regardless of whether that belongs to the author’s institution.)
  • Post the accepted version of the article – subsequent to peer review – ‘on your own website for personal or professional use, or on your institution’s network or intranet or website, or in a subject repository that does not offer content for commercial sale or for any systematic external distribution by a third party’, as long as this is not the pdf version prepared by the publishers and provided that ‘you include any amendments or deletions or warnings relating to the article issued or published by us; in compliance with the embargo periods detailed below’ and that there is a specific acknowledgement carrying a link to the relevant journal. The publishers will even deposit the article in ‘any designated institutional repository with which Taylor & Francis has a Deposit Agreement’.
  • The embargo periods which must expire before the accepted version is made available are 12 months for science, engineering, behavioural science and medicine and 18 months for arts, social sciences and humanities. (It is not entirely clear where gifted education journals sit, since many include material originating in behavioural science as well as social science traditions. However, there is a list of embargo periods by journal which, although it appears to relate only to open access routes – see below – specifies an 18- month embargo in the two cases in which we are interested.)
  • Share with colleagues on a non-commercial basis copies of an article in its published form as supplied by Taylor & Francis as a digital eprint or printed reprint’. It is not clear what distinction there is, if any, between T&F’s ‘digital eprint’ and SAGE’s ‘SAGE-created PDF’. On the face of it, T&F’s seems to be granting additional rights here, compared with its rival. (Moreover, there seems to be no restriction on the number of colleagues, who constitutes a colleague and how the article in this form is to be shared.)
  • Make printed copies for ‘lecture or classroom purposes’ or include the article in a thesis or dissertation if it is not to be published commercially, or present the article at a meeting or conference and distribute printed copies to attendees, or use the article ‘in personal compilations…or other publications of your own articles’, or ‘expand an article into book-length form for publication’, or ‘facilitate the distribution of the article on a non-commercial basis if the article has been produced within the scope of your employment, so that your employer may use all or part of the article internally within the institution or company’.

These provisions are chock-full of subtle distinctions, clearly subject to (legal) interpretation and not at all straightforward for any intelligent layperson to understand.

But it is clear that all authors of articles that appear in the seven journals published by Sage and Taylor and Francis are free to post the pre-peer review version elsewhere, in a place where it can be openly accessible, entirely free of charge. Moreover, they can also post the peer reviewed version on the same terms following an embargo period that is, at most, 18 months from the date of publication.

These rights exist now and, it would seem, entirely independent of any progress towards open access publishing of the green and gold varieties. Unfortunately, though, it seems that they are honoured more in the breach than the observance.

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Emerging Practice on Open Access Publishing

Open access arrangements are even more obtuse and convoluted and there is space only for a brief summary which may be misleading in some respects. I have to admit that I don’t fully understand some of the distinctions set out below.

On the Taylor and Francis side, both HAS and RR carry a badge saying ‘Routledge Open Select’. This means that they are ‘hybrid open access journals with gold open access option’.

Under gold open access:

‘You can choose to publish in a subscription journal and pay a charge [£1,788] to make your article freely available online upon publication via our Open Select program. The majority of our journals offer this option – those that do have the Open Select logo on the journal’s home page. If you don’t wish to pay the APC [the charge] then you can take up the green open access option (available on all of our titles).’

Under green open access:

‘You can make your work freely accessible by posting your Author Original Manuscript (AOM) (PDF) or Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) (PDF) into your institutional or subject repository…You may post the AOM at any time, and you may post the AAM after an embargo period, following publication of the Version of Record (PDF) of your paper.’

These provisions can be applied retrospectively to any author who has signed a copyright agreement. Moreover, from 1 April 2013, Taylor and Francis are offering a range of Creative Commons licenses for articles published on an open access basis:

‘The author is asked to grant Taylor & Francis the right to publish her or his article as the final, definitive, and citable Version of Scholarly Record. In turn, Taylor & Francis will make the article in its entirety freely available on Taylor & Francis Group’s online platform, Taylor & Francis Online, immediately on publication, with no subscription fee or article pay-to-view fee or any other form of access fee or any publication embargo being applied. Reuse conditions will be subject to the license type chosen by the author.’

Meanwhile SAGE say that all their journals ‘offer Open Access options which are compliant with major funder mandates including RCUK, NIH and Wellcome Trust.’

They already publish some journals that are fully open access while – in the case of others:

‘Authors can choose to make their article immediately available as Open Access for an Article Processing Charge in otherwise subscription-based journals – the SAGE Choice program. Authors can also deposit articles published non-OA in any SAGE journal in their own institution’s repository (the Green OA route)’

The second option is confusingly described as both ‘non Open Access’ and ‘Green Open Access’. Are these two options really identical? If they are, then, what advantage exactly is being secured by virtue of a Green Open Access arrangement?

Under the Taylor and Francis rubric there is at least the newly-added advantage of a Creative Commons license, but I could find no reference to that in Sage’s arrangements.

‘Sage Choice’ is the alternative (so-called ‘gold’) open access route requiring authors to pay an upfront fee to the publishers:

‘For the majority of journals published by SAGE the fee per article is $3,000USD/£1600GPB in Science, Technology and Medical fields, and $1,500/£800 in the Humanities and Social Sciences. ‘

Such payment will:

‘enable articles to be immediately available on SAGE Journals to non-subscribers…as well as to subscribers to that journal…

Those authors who do not wish to use this service will be under no pressure to do so, and their article will be published free of charge, in the usual manner. All existing policies on author posting of the final version will then apply.’

It seems more than likely that, in future, an increasing proportion of open access articles is likely to appear on the publishers’ own websites and/or in repositories elsewhere, but the impact to date on the seven gifted education journals produced by these two publishers seems negligible.

I could not find on Taylor and Francis’s website a handy list of those HAS and RR articles published under the ‘Routledge Open Select’ Badge, which might suggest that few authors have yet taken up the option. Nor could I find any repository on Sage’s website containing a tranche of open access gifted education research.

So, pending the eagerly awaited open access revolution, what steps might the global gifted education community take now to radically improve access to the stock of gifted education research, before the grass grows any longer under our feet?

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Salford Quays 6 by Gifted Phoenix

Salford Quays 6 by Gifted Phoenix

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A Way Forward

I cannot pretend to have conducted an exhaustive exercise, but preliminary efforts suggest that very little of the gifted education research which appears in these nine journals – or any other gifted education research for that matter – is currently also stored in repositories that are accessible to potential readers outside the institutions that house them.

Yet, as we have seen, even before the introduction of more widespread open access, there is already provision for all articles published by Sage and Taylor and Francis to be made accessible in such fashion.

Assuming that other journals have adopted broadly the same terms – and those without clear terms do not stand in the way – we already have the makings of a system-wide solution.

How might that work?

The most obvious solution would be to set up a dedicated gifted education repository to collect all gifted education research (or to use a generic education research repository to undertake that task).

Several precedents already exist, but there would be running costs that could not be met by charging for access to the service, since that simply replaces one paywall with another (and would anyway be prohibited by the standard terms outlined above).

It might be possible to fund a free repository by topslicing, say, a 10% fee from subscription and other charges levied by the paywalled journals, though that would mean passing the cost on to subscribers in practice, since the publishers and their partners would simply raise fees to ensure that their margins weren’t affected (assuming they could be got to agree to the levy in the first place).

It is impossible to estimate the income that such a levy would generate because there is apparently no information in the public domain about the number of subscribers to each journal.

(Incidentally, such data really ought to be released by publishers and refreshed on an annual basis, since authors have a reasonable right to information to help them assess how many readers a given journal is likely to attract to their article, and which is therefore likely to be the better option.)

Without a levy of this kind – whether on journal subscriptions, or membership fees for organisations such as the World Council and ECHA, or both – a repository would be dependent on sponsorship and so not financially sustainable in the longer term.

An alternative and more sustainable approach might just work, but it would require the full commitment of all parties and a degree of flexibility and goodwill from publishers.

It would operate as follows:

  • Journal publishers might henceforth deposit the final version of any articles over five years old (so published in 2008 or earlier) in their own open access repositories, subject only to the right of any author to opt out within a prescribed period. Those opting out would need to good reason, rather than simply choosing to retain a paywall around their work. The URL from which each article could be obtained would be included in the ‘access options’ listed alongside the article in the archive of the relevant journal. (Publishers might want to negotiate a period longer than five years, maybe 10 at most, but the nearer to five the better. The fundamental justification is that articles of a certain age have limited marketability, so the income publishers can derive from them is comparatively marginal.)
  • All authors of gifted education research articles published since 2008 might be requested to ensure that those articles have been deposited in an open repository of their choice. Authors could choose the publisher’s repository or a different repository. There would be no right to opt out. In the case of articles less than 12/18 months old (whichever applies), the pre-peer review version would be deposited, to be replaced by the post-review version as soon as the embargo has expired. Journal publishers would require authors to deposit with them the URL from which the relevant article could be obtained, which they would include under the list of ‘access options’ within their archive. These actions would be encapsulated in the publishing agreement – ie they would be a condition of publication. The publisher would be responsible for monitoring links and securing from authors new links when old ones expire. Once any article is five years old, it automatically falls into the first category above and is (also) housed in the publisher’s own repository. At that point, authors can remove it from their own chosen repository if they wish.
  • All new articles submitted for publication would be subject to agreement that the author in question would store their article – initially the pre-peer review version and subsequently the post-review version – in an open repository. As before, this could be the publisher’s repository or another of the author’s choice. As before, journal publishers would include the URL in the list of access options when they publish the edition of the journal containing the article. The publisher would once more be responsible for monitoring links and securing new ones from authors. These provisions would be incorporated in the publishing agreement.
  • It would be open to any party to publish a cross-repository database of links to such documents, or a comprehensive search engine, but only on a non-commercial basis. This would ensure that articles could found easily and free of charge regardless of where in cyberspace they are located. Publishers might wish to invest in such a project as a way of drawing consumers to their priced services.

The limited additional costs to publishers attributable to the extra work involved in these arrangements would be drawn from their profits. They could, if they wished, increase subscriptions to meet those costs.

It cannot really be argued that this strategy would deprive publishers of any significant income as a consequence of declining demand for their journals, because they are essentially ensuring that existing permissions, already available to authors, are universally acted upon. But instead of those rights being optional, they now become largely compulsory.

Besides, their only substantive loss would be attributable to the removal of their capacity to sell access to articles and issues more than five years old (which must surely be limited, since relatively few will be paying the current rates). Any loss beyond that should already be built into their business planning assumptions, albeit as a worst case scenario.

Yet these comparatively slim financial losses for publishers would buy universal free access to a vast library of gifted education research ending, once and for all, the harmful and divisive practice of restricting access to those who can afford to pay.

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Gilding the Lily?

While we are about it, several additional but complementary reforms might be introduced.

Here are some ‘starters for ten’:

  • First, publishers should offer a guarantee that the information they publish about a journal on their website is fully up-to-date and 100% accurate. Any failure to satisfy the guarantee would result in a fine, the value of which would be used by publishers to offset the costs of administering the service outlined above.
  • Second, publishers should be fully transparent about subscription and purchase rates, providing annually updated data showing the number of subscriptions in different categories and the countries from which they originate. This should extend to the number of purchases of archived articles and issues of each journal. Authors and readers can then understand more clearly the reach and likely impact of each journal and the level of interest in their (currently paywalled) archives.
  • Third, no individual should be allowed to serve on the editorial/review board of more than one international gifted education journal and every board should be fully refreshed every three years. The peer review process would thus be opened up to a wider range of academics and other stakeholders, and ideally established as part of the professional development process for younger, relatively more inexperienced academics. The old guard would need to step aside.
  • Fourth, every journal should ensure that no more than 10% of the articles it publishes are authored by any member of its editorial/review board, thus opening up publication to a wider range of individuals. Journals should go out of their way to attract work from new authors in the field and should be less precious about contributions being never-before-published, particularly if the material has appeared previously in a different format, such as a dissertation or blog post.
  • Fifth, a new open access online ‘overlay’ journal should be established which would republish annually a selection of the most influential gifted education research, dissertations and the most influential posts from the blogosphere. The choice would be made by a representative committee from nominations made to them in the course of the year.
  • Sixth, further efforts to break down unhelpful distinctions between blog posts and research articles should also be actively explored, including proper citation of blog posts in research articles and the development of more open social media-driven versions of peer review, based on peer-to-peer discussion between writer and reviewers, rather than traditional assessment of a text by one or more reviewers deemed to be (more) expert in the topic.

You may have further suggestions to add to this list!

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Taken together, this basket of reforms would remove at a stroke one of my two excuses for failing to be a more productive blogger.

It would help to improve the quality of gifted education research, opening it up to wider scrutiny by a more inclusive audience with a different set of expectations, more closely attuned to meeting the needs of gifted learners, their parents, carers and educators.

And it would also establish the reputation of publishers and researchers alike as more significant, more active collaborators in our collective efforts to improve radically the global incidence of high quality gifted education.

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GP

April 2013

2 thoughts on “The Limited Accessibility of Gifted Education Research

  1. [...] The Limited Accessibility of Gifted Education Research [...]

  2. […] Salford Quays 1 by Gifted Phoenix . Rant over. It is all too easy to spout these anecdotal, impressionistic views without properly examining the evidence base (and all too easy for researchers and their ilk to criticise bloggers …  […]

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