ISI 6314 spring 2014: Syllabus

SPRING 2014, TUESDAYS & THURSDAYS MAY 1 – JUNE 10, 17:30 – 20:30, DMS 111-61 and online

Professor:             Heather Morrison
Office:                     Desmarais 111-02
Tel:                            613-562-5800 ext. 7634 (e-mail recommended)
Office hours:       by appointment
Course blog:       

Course description

An overview of publishing and its role in today’s information landscape. The course examines various types of publishers, their role in the communications ecosystem, their business models, use of formats and standards, strategic planning, and intellectual property issues. The challenges addressed include the multiplicity of communication technologies and supply/distribution channels, publishers' efforts to transform their operations for the digital age, open access, and the dynamics of global partnerships, collaboration, and competition.

Course objectives and learning outcomes

·       understanding the range of publishing motives and operations (e.g. from disseminating or preserving information and culture, profit motive)
·       understanding the roles of intermediaries (libraries and library services, aggregators etc.)
·       researching and assessing publishing operations
·       interacting with publishers (purchasing, licensing) basics: copyright including open access and creative commons, and contract law, negotiating
·       familiarity with major trends in publishing (physical to online formats, technical considerations in information and metadata production, libraries and information professionals’ roles in information production)
·       familiarity with the work of publishing (writing, editing, review, acquisition)
·       practical publishing experience (class production of a book or journal, peer review, editing)

Language of instruction


Students may submit their work in either English or French in accordance with the University of Ottawa’s Regulation on Bilingualism:

Citation style

American Psychological Association (APA) style. Required.

Teaching methods
The spring 2014 ISI 6314 will be a blended in-person / online class, with one class per week in-person (generally Tuesday, may vary depending on the schedules of guest speakers), and one class per week online (generally Thursdays).
The course will involve a mixture of lectures and guest lectures, class discussion, peer learning and peer review, hands-on activities and exercises, including class production of a journal using Open Journal Systems (thanks to University of Ottawa library). Although there will be significant group work and discussion in this class, all evaluation will be done on an individual basis.
Evaluation methods and distribution of grades
Evaluation in this class will involve a combination of brief practical exercises and one major class project (group production but marked individually). In order to keep the class on track it is essential that assignments be handed in in a timely fashion. For these particular assignments no late submissions will be accepted. 

Major class project

The major class project will involve production of a journal issue, to be published open access on the web. The articles will consist of the final essays for this class, developed in a series of stages including a pre-print which is marked by the professor and peer reviewed by two other students, and edited by another student before the essay is published. Students with concerns about privacy of posting their work online should contact the professor early in the semester. 

The production of the journalwill be a group effort. Individual efforts of students undertaken towards this group effort are recorded in a summary of class participation. 

With the exception of the final version of the essay, assignments should be handed in using Virtual Campus (Blackboard Learn).

Assignment Due Date Weight
Essay pre-print:                                                      20%
May 20th, noon 20%
Peer reviews (2) May 27th, noon 10%
Final essay June 10th, noon 20%
Reflection & participation June 17th, midnight 20%
Brief assignments (max. 1 page) (pass / fail); approx. 6 Various 30%

Essay pre-print:                  due:        May 20th noon
The essay pre-print is an early version of the class term paper, to be edited and reviewed by classmates.  6 - 12 pages, double-spaced. Late submissions will not be accepted.
Peer reviews (2):               due:        May 27th noon
Each student will be asked to provide peer reviews (1 – 3 paragraphs) for the essay pre-print for two different student colleagues, following a supportive constructive criticism approach which will be part of the course content.
Essay (final published version):                  due June 10th at noon, for publication as part of the final class.

Potential essay topic areas include the following. Note that many of these topics are extremely broad in nature and should be narrowed considerably.
·       open access journal or monograph publishing
·       open textbooks
·       future of newspaper publishing (in Canada?)
·       economics of investigative journalism
·       future of book and/or magazine publishing (in Canada?)
·       new formats: publishing data, blogs, wikis, etc.
·       citizen journalism
·       book self-publishing

Reflection & participation:  a 1 -2 page summary of your participation in class and contributions to the class project will be used in conjunction with the professor’s notes to develop a combined reflection and participation mark. For example, if you did behind-the-scenes technical or graphics work to support the publication, this should be noted in this piece. Due June 17th.

Brief assignments (pass / fail):  the brief assignments are a maximum of one page. Some assignments will involve preparation for class discussions, others will be completed during class time. The total mark will be divided between all brief assignments (maximum of 6 per semester). For example, if the total number of assignments in 6 and you complete all of the assignments on time, your mark will be 6/6. If you complete 5/6, your mark will be 5/6 or 83%. Examples of potential brief assignments:

1.     choose one or two publishers from a list, conduct some very basic research on the company (e.g. read the About page on the website, consult one or two other sources from a list provided the professor), and prepare a very brief, informal presentation on your findings for the class.
2.     act as Editor for another student’s paper, i.e. read the two peer reviews, summarize and add your own comments (in class).
3.     read and critique an author / publisher contract for class discussion (remember, this is pass/fail – legal expertise appreciated but not expected)
4.     research 1-2 software options for book or journal publishing for brief presentation in class
Required and recommended readings

There are no required readings for this class, as the emphasis is on independent student research. 

Recommended Readings and Resources

Allen, N. (2010). A cover to cover solution: how open textbooks are the path to textbook affordability. Chicago: the Student PIRGs. Retrieved March 12, 2014 from
Brevini, B.; Hintz, A.; McCurdy, P. (2013). Beyond Wikileaks: Implications for the future of communications, journalism and society. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. (available online through University of Ottawa library).
Brown, L. (2007). University publishing in a digital age. n.p.: Ithaka. Retrieved March 6, 2014 from
Crow, R. (2009). Income models for open access. Washington, D.C. Scholarly publishing and academic resources coalition (SPARC). Retrieved March 12, 2014 from
Morrison, H. (2013). Economics of scholarly communication in transition. First Monday 6:3. Retrieved March 12, 2014 from
Project Censored: the news that didn’t make the news (various dates). Retrieved March 12, 2014 from
Public Knowledge Project (n.d.). Education and training. Retrieved April 4, 2014 from Web-based resources for learning to work with PKP tools including OJS and scholarly publishing (editing and business aspects).
Suber, P. (2012). Open access. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. Retrieved March 6, 2014 from
Thompson, J. B. (2005). Books in the digital age : The transformation of academic and higher education publishing in Britain and the United States. Cambridge: Polity.
Thompson, J. B. (2010). Merchants of culture: The publishing business in the twenty-first century. Cambridge: Polity.
Winseck, Dwayne (2010). Financialization and the “crisis of the media”: the rise and fall of (some) media conglomerates in Canada. Canadian Journal of Communication 35:3
Windsor Public Library: how to write, publish, and sell a book
Academic Regulations
Please consult the University of Ottawa’s regulations on:
·       Plagiarism:
·       Examinations & Grading:

Calendar of activities and evaluations
The following calendar indicates which are in-person class dates, confirmed guest speakers, and selected assignments only. Specific dates for brief assignments and details will be made available at a later date.
Class #
Assignments Due
May 1
Introduction. Guest speaker: Tony Horava, Associate University Librarian, University of Ottawa Library (confirmed).

May 6

May 8

May 13

May 15

May 20
Guest speaker: Jeanette Hatherill, Scholarly Communication Librarian, University of Ottawa Library (confirmed).
Essay version 1
May 22

May 27

Peer reviews (2)
May 29

June 3

June 5

June 10

Final post-peer review essay & book or journal publication in class

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