Machine translation, internationalization, and the Open Review Toolkit

 

The Open Review Toolkit is designed to help create better books, higher sales, and increased access to knowledge.  All of these goals—especially increased access to knowledge—could be advanced if all books could be published in all languages simultaneously. Unfortunately, that’s not possible yet. But, machine translations can help us move in the right direction, and so the Open Review Toolkit has excellent support for hosting the same manuscript in many languages. In this blog post, I’ll describe our experience machine translating my new book Bit by Bit Social Research in the Digital Age into more than 100 languages. The process took just a few days and cost about 30 US dollars per language.

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Open Review Toolkit: Versioning

After my book, Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age, went through Open Review, I was excited that the First edition was finally ready to be printed and posted online. Then I ran into a problem.  How should I post the First edition online while preserving the Open Review edition and all of the accompanying annotations?  In this post, I’ll explain the problem in detail and describe what we ended up doing.

If you want to skip all the details, here’s what I recommend for other authors using the Open Review Toolkit:

If you are interested in the gory details, keep reading. . . .

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Open Review Toolkit: increased impact

Screenshot 2018-07-30 09.21.17.pngThe Open Review Toolkit is designed to lead to better books, higher sales, and increased access to knowledge.  In addition to these three goals, the Open Review Toolkit also likely leads to increased impact.  This claim is support both by my own experience—the citations to Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age have exceeded my expectations—and a recently white paper published by Christina Emery, Mithu Lucraft, Agata Morka, and Ros Pyne.  Emery and colleagues compare three impact metrics—citations, downloads, and online mentions—for about 200 open access books and 17,000 non-open access book.  They find that open access books have 50% more citations, 7x more downloads, and 10x more online mentions.  Their white paper, “The OA Effect: How does Open Access Affect the Usage of Scholarly Books?” explains their methodology and supplements their quantitative with interviews with authors and funders.

 

The Open Review of Bit by Bit, Part 3: Increased access to knowledge

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This post is the third post in a three part series about the Open Review of Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age.  This post describes how Open Review led to increased access to knowledge.  In particular, I’ll provide information about the general readership patterns, and I’ll specifically focus on readership of the versions of the manuscript that were machine translated into more than 100 languages.  The other posts in this series describe how Open Review led to a better book and higher sales.

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The Open Review of Bit by Bit, part 2: Higher sales

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This post is the second in a three part series about the Open Review of Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age.  This post describes how Open Review led to higher sales.  The other posts in this series describe how Open Review led to a better book and increased access to knowledge.

Before talking about sales in more detail, I think I should start by acknowledging that it is a bit unusual for authors to talk about this stuff.  But sales are an important part of the Open Review process because of one simple and inescapable fact: publishers need revenue. My editor is amazing, and she’s spent a lot of time making Bit by Bit better, as have her colleagues that do production and design.  These people need to be paid salaries, and those salaries have come from somewhere. If you want to work with a publisher—even a non-profit publisher—then you have to be sensitive to the fact that they need revenue to be sustainable.  Fortunately, in addition to better books and increased access to knowledge, Open Review also helps sell books. So for the rest of this post, I’m going to provide a purely economic assessment of the Open Review process.

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The Open Review of Bit by Bit, Part 1: Better books

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My new book Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age is for social scientists who want to do more data science, data scientists who want to do more social science, and anyone interesting in the combination of these two fields.  The central premise of Bit by Bit is that the digital age creates new opportunities for social research.   As I was writing Bit by Bit, I also began thinking about how the digital age creates new opportunities for academic authors and publishers.  The more I thought about it, the more it seemed that we could publish academic books in a more modern way by adopting some of the same techniques that I was writing about.  I knew that I wanted Bit by Bit to be published in this new way, so I created a process called Open Review that has three goals: better books, higher sales, and increased access to knowledge.  Then, much as doctors used to test new vaccines on themselves, I tested Open Review on my own book.

This post is the first in a three part series about the Open Review of Bit by Bit.  This post describes how Open Review led to a better book.  After I explain the mechanics of Open Review, I’ll focus on three ways that Open Review led to a better book: annotations, implicit feedback, and psychological effects.  The other posts in this series describe how Open Review led to higher sales and increased access to knowledge.

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