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Volker Schallehn, Institutionelle Publikationsserver am Beispiel der UB München, Zeitenblicke, October 2003. In German but with this English abstract: "Since November 2002 the University Library in Munich has been offering [an open-access] publication server for all kinds of scientific publications. The report describes the genesis and concept of the project against the background of the fact that online publications are more readily received than the traditional print media." (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)
Today Charles W. Bailey, Jr. released version 51 of his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new version cites over 2,000 books, articles, and other resources, in print and online, on scholarly electronic publishing.
An unsigned editorial in the October 25 Manila Times endorses the Public Library of Science. Excerpt: "The greatest benefit will be reaped by poor countries that are effectively cut off from the mainstream of scientific research. Knowledge is a magical commodity. The more it is used, the more it increases and becomes more valuable. The Public Library of Science has opened a way for researchers in all countries to tap into the latest developments in scientific research."
Misinformation alert. The editorial also says, "The Public Library of Science, however, may force us to rethink the concept of intellectual property. Open access makes present copyright laws unenforceable. They perhaps should be rewritten for the widest possible social benefit." Yes, copyright laws should be rewritten to serve the public interest. But no, they do not need to be rewritten in order to make open access possible, and PLoS does not make exising copyright laws unenforceable. PLoS uses copyright law by asking the copyright holder to consent to open access or, more specifically, to the Creative Commons Attribution License.
A ground-breaking article, Grand Challenges in Global Health, is openly accessible in Science, 17 October 2003 Vol. 302 No. 5644. The first author is PLoS co-founder Harold Varmus. Copyright of this work is retained by the authors, and another version is openly accessible via: www.gcgh.org. Supporting Online Material (PDF) is also available, via the Science website. [PS: I regard this openly-accessible article as an important step forward, both for Global Health, and for Open Access].
Lynne Herndon, President and CEO of Cell Press, has posted a message to the discussion groups most active in discussing the boycott, explaining the position of Elsevier and Cell Press. Excerpt: "Cell Press, while owned by Elsevier, has a different pricing model from ScienceDirect, the Elsevier electronic access platform. We have intentionally not bundled Cell Press journals with ScienceDirect to give institutions maximal flexibility in their choice of content."
Nancy Lin, ACLS History E-Book Project: Report on Technology Development and Production Workflow for XML Encoded E-Books, American Council of Learned Societies, October 3, 2003. The History E-Book Project will not provide open access to its books, but this report on the XML mark-up process, and the decisions that went into it, will be useful to open-access projects as well. (Thanks to Current Cites.)
E. Francesconi and G. Peruginelli, Access to Italian legal literature: Integration between Structured Repositories and Web Documents, a presentation at the 2003 Dublin Core Conference (whose other presentations are also now online). On the experience of designing and implementing an OAI-compliant archive of Italian legal literature.
Gary Wolf, The Great Library of Amazonia, preview article from the December issue of Wired Magazine. Fascinating detail on how Amazon solved the technical and legal problems barring the path to this useful service. Wolf also includes a conversation with Brewster Kahle on the Million Book Project, and a glimpse of a Lessig-Stanford project to offer open access to any book by a consenting copyright holder. (PS: The prospect of open access to books, even books that produce revenue for copyright holders, is suddenly a serious possibility, even if it's still over the horizon. Amazon's Jeff Bezos emphasizes that his step in that direction is small. But this modesty seems to be part of his plan to secure the permission and cooperation of publishers. At the same time, he encourages us to think more grandly about the steps that may lie beyond the one he has taken.)
Francis Muguet, Activity Report, October 24, 2003. A revealing, first-hand account of why open access is less prominently mentioned in the final documents of PrepCom3 (Geneva, September 15-26) than it was in earlier drafts. Muguet is the chair of the Scientific Information Working Group for the World Summit on the Information Society. (Disclosure: I'm on the steering committee of the working group but couldn't attend the September meeting.) He was on the ground in Geneva last month fighting tirelessly for open access. This is his report of the obstacles and inertia he faced and the outcome so far.
Klaus Graf, Wissenschaftliches E-Publizieren mit 'Open Access'- Initiativen und Widerstände, Zeitenblicke, October 2003. In German but with this English abstract: "In the sense of an 'Open Access' movement this article is an appeal for making scientific publications accessible in Internet free-of-charge and worldwide without any restrictive 'permission barriers'. It presents projects and initiatives in both the United States and Germany and advocates a stronger reception of American approaches here in Germany. According to this article, 'Open Access' is the answer to the crisis scientific literature is facing, which is not only reflected in the professional journal prices, but also means that an anthology is maybe subsidised four times by local authorities, and the state then has to buy back its own research findings from commercial publishing houses. There are also thoughts about providing 'Open Access' not only for books and articles. The article closes by dealing with the resistance and barriers to this idea and deliberating possible solutions, with an emphasis on the legal framework."
The October 24 issue of Science, volume 302, number 5645, contains a total of three "News Focus" contributions on open access, by David Malakoff, pages 550-554. In addition to the contribution that outlines the PLoS model and focuses on the cost per article, there are also brief comments on definitions of open access, and on the changes in publishing models by JHEP (see: Announcement on recent changes concerning JHEP) and BMJ (see: Paying for bmj.com).
David Malakoff, Opening the Books on Open Access, Science Magazine, October 24, 2003 (accessible only to subscribers). A detailed and serious survey of the open-access movement, long enough to be useful, focusing on PLoS and PLoS Biology. Among other things, Malakoff compares the processing fees charged by six open-access journals from six publishers, compares PLoS to other open-access publishing initiatives, flags the OA journals that had to retreat to priced access, and covers the debate over the Sabo bill and the viability of the open-access business model. (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)
The October 14 issue of Current Biology contains a wide-ranging interview with Greg Petsko, Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry and Director of the Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center at Brandeis University. (Accessible only to subscribers.) At one point CB asked him about open access.
In my mind, a free introductory offer to a journal doesn't amount to open access, even brief open access. But what about six months of free access? Is that a long introductory offer or an experiment with open access? You decide. The American Geophysical Union will launch Space Weather next week (October 28), and make it freely available online for the first six months of its existence.
The University of California eScholarship Repository has launched a series of open-access, peer-reviewed repository journals. A repository journal uses the institutional repository as the journal infrastructure. Submissions are deposited in the journal as preprints, and accepted articles are redeposited as postprints, labelled to show that they have been peer-reviewed. (PS: At other institutions, these are called overlay journals.) For this series of journals, the editorial boards must be units within the University of California system, although they may accept papers from scholars anywhere. The first journal in the series is San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science. For more detail on the series, see the page of policies or the FAQ.
Today Amazon launched its service for full-text searching of books. Currently it applies to 120,000 books from more than 190 participating publishers. That comes to more than 33 million pages, and undoubtedly Amazon will add more over time. The first search will show all (participating) books containing the search term. Users may then pick a book and follow-up and search for all occurrences of the term in that book. Search returns provide a small amount of context for each hit, and registered users can preview a limited number whole pages. While the preview pages are images, Amazon still highlights the occurrences of the search term on each page. The service is built in to every Amazon search box and supports phrase searching (but nothing more advanced). For more details, see the Amazon FAQ or press release. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)
Alison McCook, Researchers Boycott Cell Press, The Scientist, October 23, 2003. A good overview of the thrusts and parries. Quoting Peter Walter, one of the boycott organizers, on the prestige of some of the boycotted titles: "There's no point to having the little gold star attached to your papers, if your colleagues can't read them." Quoting Karen Butter, librarian at the University of California, San Francisco: the boycott should make Elsevier "think twice about their pricing strategy…because we can't afford it." Quoting Matthew Scott, of the California Digital Library and Stanford University: "People will turn more and more to [open access], because they're so fed up with being denied access."
Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, Critics Fear Database Bill Will Hinder Research, FoxNews, October 9, 2003. Excerpt: "[O]pponents say the encroaching legislation would prevent scientists from engaging in research and children from doing book reports. The legislation is so broadly written, critics say, that college professors writing research papers based on scientific databases or non-profit organizations publishing statistics on their Web sites could be subject to penalties." Quoting Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL): "I believe that Congress should not create property rights in facts." (Thanks to ShelfLife.)
On October 14, a UNESCO Ministerial Round Table Meeting (Paris, October 9-10) issued communiqué, Towards Knowledge Societies. The communiqué ranks "universal access to information and knowledge" on a par with "freedom of expression" as a priority for the world community. Excerpt: "No society can claim to be a genuine knowledge society if access to knowledge and information is denied to a segment of the population. We therefore affirm the need for universal access to information and knowledge. By access we imply: infrastructure and connectivity; content; affordability; information literacy; know-how for use and development; education; and, the free flow of opinions and ideas." For more detail, see the meeting press release.
Quirin Schiermeier, Open Access Wins German Support, Nature, October 23, 2003. A short note on the Berlin Declaration. Excerpt: "Open-access backers say this is the first time that they have won formal support from all major research organizations in a large nation. The [Max Planck Society], for example, is changing scientists' employment contracts, requiring them to return the copyright of their work to the society. Researchers will still be able to publish in scientific journals, but after a grace period --the length of which is still being discussed-- their papers must be deposited in at least one online repository."
George H. Pike, Database Protection Legislation Introduced in Congress, Information Today, October 20, 2003. An overview of the bill and the controversy surrounding it. Excerpt: "Critics of the bill continue to argue that contract, trespass, misappropriation, and unfair competition law all provide adequate database protection, as does the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. More to the point, they contend that providing factual information with proprietary protection would violate constitutional copyright, commerce, and free speech provisions. Finally, they argue that continuing uncertainty in the language of the legislation, including the absence of a fair use clause, will chill research, restrict further database development, and impede competition in the database marketplace."
Kim Zetter, Students Fight E-Vote Firm, Wired News, October 21, 2003. On the student "civil disobedience" campaign to link to the Diebold corporate memos. The memos allegedly show that for years Diebold knew about large security holes in its voting software and yet sold it without warning to various U.S. jurisdictions. The memos were copied and leaked to the press by a hacker who found another kind of security hole in Diebold's FTP server. Diebold is taking legal action to remove the documents and links from the web. Quoting Luke Smith, a Swarthmore student participating in the campaign: "They're using copyright law as a means of suppressing information that needs to be public." Also see the student press release.
Massey Beveridge and three co-authors (all from the University of Toronto), The Ptolemy project: a scalable model for delivering health information in Africa, BMJ, October 4, 2003, pp. 790-793. An innovative project in which the University of Toronto Library makes its full electronic holdings available without charge to 100 East African surgeons through proxy servers in Toronto. The cost of adding these 100 affiliates to the university journal licenses is borne by the university. The holdings include the full texts of all 20,000 of Toronto's licensed journals, hundreds of medical textbooks, and many open access resources. Beveridge calls on other universities to adopt the project and extend its benefits. The project has received publicity from SciDev.Net and the BBC. The BBC story on the project quotes Beveridge: "The cost of having a few hundred affiliates in Africa is negligible for the university library. Any other university could do the same thing."
Today the Australian government gave a network of institutions $12 million to improve Australia's research infrastructure. Four major projects will share the funds: (1) Meta Access Management System Project (MAMS), (2) Towards an Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (APSR), (3) The Australian Research Repositories Online to the World (ARROW), and (4) Australian Digital Theses Program Expansion and Redevelopment (ADT). All four, but especially the last three, will greatly accelerate the implementation of open access in Australia. Kudos to the visionary Australian Department for Education, Science and Training, which awarded the grant.
Do public interest groups have a right to link to illegally obtained corporate memos? Do ISP's have a right to host pages containing such links? Is the company's copyright claim controlling even when the public interest is strong (in this case, exposing large security flaws in the manufacture of voting machines)? We may find out now that the EFF has decided to defend the linkers (Independent Media Center) and ISP (Online Policy Group) against the infringement claim by the corporation (Diebold). For more details, see the EFF press release and a campaign to support the linkers through electronic civil disobedience.
(PS: It used to be the case that the press had a right to publish whatever it got its hands on. If leaking or theft are crimes, then only the leaker or thief could be punished, not the publisher of the leaked or stolen material. See e.g. Justice Marshall's concurring opinion in the Pentagon Papers case. Did the New York Times win that case only because government documents are not copyrightable? If that case held, among other things, that publishing illegally obtained documents is protected by the First Amendment, then can linking to such documents be unprotected? If the President's claim of national security didn't prevail against the First Amendment in that case, will a corporation's claim of copyright infringement do so in this one? Did the DMCA change this fundamental right of the press, and if it did, will the statute take priority over settled constitutional law?)
Ned Stafford, Open Access Europe, The Scientist, October 22, 2003. On today's release of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. Robert Schlögl of the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society noted that the Berlin Declaration has been signed by all the major research institutions in Germany and France, and many in Norway, Hungary, and the rest of Europe, while nothing comparable has been done to gather the support and endorsement of major US research institutions. "Europeans are faster this time. We have overtaken the Americans." (He's right, of course.) Schlögl also pointed out that the Max Planck Society is earmarking "several hundred thousand euros" to cover transition costs in converting to open access.
Meredith Salisbury, Killing the Copyright, GenomeWeb News, October 22, 2003. On the Sabo bill, and the passionate support and opposition it has triggered among scientists and scientific organizations. Salisbury endorses improved access, probably including open access, but thinks critics of the bill have good questions about its scope --questions that careful drafting could have answered. "Perhaps the good thing that will come from it now is the debate it's sparked on how best to arrange for public access, since nearly everyone agrees that that's a good cause."
David C. Montgomery, Marketing Science, Marketing Ourselves, Academe, September/October 2003. A Dartmouth physicist reflects on the loss of academic autonomy and the rise of profit-oriented research within universities. Excerpt: "We have inherited a legacy of credibility that may not last much longer if we proceed in the directions we are going....The present rush on university campuses to channel faculty time and energy toward pursuing marketable products for corporations, or new weapons for government agencies or the military, endangers that credibility. It seems to me sheer folly to blur deliberately the distinctions between, say, an industrial engineering laboratory (which seems, by the way, a wholly proper and legitimate institution) and a university science department. They may look the same on the outside (though they shouldn't), but if they are functioning correctly, what they are after is totally different. Similar distinctions can undoubtedly be drawn between a think tank and a political science department, or an advertising agency and an art department." (PS: For detail and documentation on the trend that Montgomery is lamenting, see Eyal Press and Jennifer Washburn's excellent article, The Kept University, Atlantic Monthly, March 2000.)
England's National Health Service (NHS) has launched the open-access NHS Trusts Clinical Trials Register, which assigns a unique International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN) to each randomized, controlled trial funded by the NHS. The ISRCTN will help researchers track the publications that result from a given trial. For more detail, see yesterday's press release.
The 2003 Annual Meeting of the American Council of Learned Societies took place in Philadelphia, May 9-10, 2003. The presentations from the one public session, Crises and Opportunities: the Futures of Scholarly Publishing, are now online. See the separate pages by Carlos Alonso, Cathy Davidson, John Unsworth, and Lynne Withey.
On October 20, the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) and Association for Research Libraries (ARL) issued an undated Statement on Scholarly Communication. The statement signals the cooperation of university presses and libraries in negotiating the transition from the age of print to the age of electronic communication. It doesn't address open-access issues, but comes close in the concluding paragraph: "We are in a period of transition in scholarly communication brought about by economic stresses on libraries, presses, and higher education and by opportunities for new roles among all of the participants in the system created by new technologies. What each library and press does complements the work of the other and completes the cycle of scholarly communication, for readers without access to scholarship are as crippled as scholarship without access to readers. As their roles evolve, AAUP and ARL will work together to create a strong system of communication for scholars of the future so that knowledge may continue to advance, for the good of all." (PS: The ARL is a staunch defender of open access and was one of the first institutional signatories of the BOAI.)
In yesterday's Chronicle of Higher Education, Andrea Foster reports (accessible only to subscribers) on the call for an Elsevier boycott, previously reported on SOAF. Peter Walter and Keith Yamamoto, two biologists at the University of California at San Franciso, have called for a worldwide boycott of six journals from Elsevier's Cell Press on the ground that their prices are prohibitive. Walter and Yamamoto ask scientists not to submit articles to the journals, referee articles for them, or serve on their editorial boards. Quoting Walter and Yamamoto: "We can all think of better ways to spend our time than providing free services to support a publisher that values profit above its academic mission." Foster notes that the boycott may steer some high-quality articles from Cell Press journals to PLoS Biology.
The long-awaited Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities was released today by the Max-Planck Society, European Cultural Heritage Online (ECHO), and the participants in the conference on Open Access to the Data and Results of the Sciences and Humanities (Berlin, October 20-22, 2003). The signatories include representatives of the major scientific and scholarly societies in France and Germany. Institutions that did not participate in the drafting may still sign it by contacting Dr. Stefan Echinger.
Excerpt: "The Internet has fundamentally changed the practical and economic realities of distributing scientific knowledge and cultural heritage. For the first time ever, the Internet now offers the chance to constitute a global and interactive representation of human knowledge, including cultural heritage and the guarantee of worldwide access....Our mission of disseminating knowledge is only half complete if the information is not made widely and readily available to society. New possibilities of knowledge dissemination not only through the classical form but also and increasingly through the open access paradigm via the Internet have to be supported."
The Online Journal of Health and Allied Sciences has announced that it would archive the entire publication in CogPrints. This would mean the entire contents of the Journal from 2002 will be archived permanently at CogPrints and would be easily and openly accessible.Other Open Access Journals from India like the Asian Student Medical Journal and Internet He@lthhave also decided to archive their content at CogPrints.
John Houghton, Colin Steele, and Margaret Henty, Changing Research Practices in the Digital Information and Communication Environment, Department of Education, Science and Training, Commonwealth of Australia, August 2003. Excerpt: "We find that there is a new mode of knowledge production emerging, changing research practices and bringing new information access and dissemination needs. Adjustments will be required to the existing research information and scholarly communication system to accommodate these changes, but new opportunities are emerging for more cost-effective and sustainable information access and dissemination....Open access digital repositories, operating in parallel with existing commercial publishing mechanisms, may provide a major opportunity to develop a sustainable information infrastructure for both traditional and emerging modes of knowledge production. Together, they provide the foundation for more effective and efficient access to, and dissemination of scientific and scholarly information." (Thanks to Charles Bailey's Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog.)
Ahmad Naeem Khan, Pakistan set to launch digital library, OneWorld, October 17, 2003. The library will launch in January 2004 and include 5,000 full-text journals. It will not be online, or at least not at first. It will be distributed to Pakistani universities on CD's. I can't tell whether the texts on the CD's are open-access or simply purchased by the Pakistani government. If any readers know, please drop me a line. (Thanks to LIS News.)
John Walker, The Digital Imprimatur, September 13, 2003 (revised October 9). The co-founder of Autodesk pulls together the grounds for pessimism about the future of the openness of the internet. Excerpt: With the advent of the internet "[i]ndividuals, all over the globe, were empowered to create and exchange information of all kinds, spontaneously form virtual communities, and do so in a totally decentralised manner, free of any kind of restrictions or regulations....Indeed, the very design of the Internet seemed technologically proof against attempts to put the genie back in the bottle....Earlier I believed there was no way to put the Internet genie back into the bottle. In this document I will provide a road map of precisely how I believe that could be done, potentially setting the stage for an authoritarian political and intellectual dark age global in scope and self-perpetuating, a disempowerment of the individual which extinguishes the very innovation and diversity of thought which have brought down so many tyrannies in the past."
Grant Gross reports for the IDG News Service that Rick Boucher proposed several amendments friendly to libraries and scholarship, but they were all defeated or withdrawn before the bill was adopted by the House Judiciary Committee. One of Boucher's amendments "would have prevented database owners from using the bill to protect legal materials produced by federal courts or any legislative materials. 'These are documents prepared for the public at the public's expense,' Boucher said." But committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) objected to this amendment and the Republican members fell in line and voted it down.
Jonathan Zittrain, The Copyright Cuffs, CIO Magazine, October 15, 2003. Zittrain answers the question: Why do law professors specializing in internet law tend to hate copyright? Excerpt: "Without decrying the concept of taxation, every tax professor I've met regards the U.S. tax code with a kind of benign contempt, explaining it more often as a product of diverse interests shaped from the bottom up than as an elegant set of rules crafted by legal artisans to align with high-level principles about the most just way to redistribute resources or to maximize social welfare. Copyright is like that too, and while I hate its Platonic form no more than the typical tax maven hates tax, I find myself struggling to maintain the benign part of my contempt for its ever-expanding 21st-century American incarnation....The cost of making no change at all must also be soberly assessed, all the more so because the Internet heralds such a staggering potential for the rapid transformation and evolution of ideas. This is not about the crass ripping-off of CD tracks but about a possible Jazz Age of creation enabled by technology."