Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, December 06, 2003

More on library cataloging of OA journals

Joan Conger has written a helpful summary of the ERIL list discussion thread on library cataloguing of journal records from the Directory of Open Access Journals. Thanks, Joan!

Friday, December 05, 2003

Tim Berners-Lee on institutional repositories

Stuart Weibel Interviews Tim Berners-Lee, OCLC, July 29, 2003. Among many other topics, they touched on institutional repositories:

Stu: Can you share your impressions of the developments in the area of Institutional Repositories such as the MIT-Hewlett Packard collaboration on DSpace? Are there impediments that must be overcome for such systems to play an important role in sustaining and promoting scholarly communication?

Tim: Projects such as SIMILE which will leverage and extend DSpace by enhancing its support for arbitrary schemas and metadata though the application of Semantic Web technologies are particularly important in facilitating scholarly communication. As I mentioned earlier, to the extent that data can be encoded in common syntaxes like RDF and described with public vocabularies, they can be more accessible and more useful. People and applications can draw better correlations, better connections, better inferencing, and these can lead us to more effective use of information. Perhaps nowhere in the academic environment is this more important than the area of scholarly communication.

The impediments to success are much the same as impediments in the larger Web. We currently lack an ethos for reliable web publication. We need a closer connection between the technology and the institutional commitments necessary to maintain persistent identifiers and namespaces. We need a realignment of legal constraints and recognition of fair use within the context of the new digital infrastructure. We need to avoid as far as possible the constraints of patents or monopoly at any of the layers of the infrastructure.

We also need to sustain the open connectivity - the linking among people, organizations, data, and ideas - that drive the growth and diversity of the Web. We need to build all of this on a foundation of solid, clean Web standards that will be of universal benefit - for scholarship, for commerce, and for public and private information spaces.

(Thanks to Bob Bolander.)

New issue of INASP Newsletter

The November issue of the INASP Newsletter is now online. This issue covers a handful of new networking and knowledge-sharing initiatives, primarily in Africa.

How to sign the Berlin Declaration

The signatory page of the Berlin Declaration has added this statement:
Governments, universities, research institutions, funding agencies, foundations, libraries, museums, archives, learned societies and professional associations who share the vision expressed in the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities are therefore invited to join the signatories that have already signed the Declaration.

Please contact:
Prof. Dr. Peter Gruss
President of the Max Planck Society
Hofgartenstraβe 8
D-80539 Munich

A statement to this effect was on the page on the day of launch (October 22) but removed a few days later. It's good to see it back.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Velterop responds to Jongejan

Jan Velterop has written a detailed response to Arie Jongejan's October remarks on open access. Excerpt from Velterop's response:
Toll-access publishing denies to the science community the benefit, and ignores the growing necessity, to search, mine and exploit all the available findings using the best tools available. As long as a substantial proportion of research is placed behind toll-access barriers such as operated by Elsevier and others, the ability of scientists to extract knowledge from the literature will be unnecessarily limited. The sooner Open Access becomes the universal method to publish science research findings the sooner will the active research scientists benefit from efficient and effective use of the findings of science.
Velterop is the publisher of BioMed Central. Jongejan is CEO of Elsevier's Science & Technology Division.


Here's how Thomson Derwent Databases describes its featured open access licensing:
An Open Access License gives you the freedom to access [our databases] without worrying about online costs. You simply pay a set fee per year covering all connect hour, online display, offline print, and SDI (Alert) charges.
The web site directs questions to

Paying for OA journal articles outside biomedicine

Richard T. O’Grady, Open Access? Open Wallets! BioScience Magazine, November 2003. Excerpt: "Major funding agencies and Congress need to acknowledge the changing landscape in online scholarly publishing and the consequences of shrinking library budgets that groups such as PLoS are bringing to light; they need to ensure that the research they have funded gets published online in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. This will be especially important as the trend away from institutional subscriptions and toward author-pay open access continues. Libraries and those who oversee their funding need to realize that, as they agitate for author-pay open access, their current budgetary and subscription decisions may well threaten the ability of many nonprofit scientific societies to continue producing high-quality, low-price journals and to reconfigure those journals for the online publication that libraries want. And society publishers need to recognize that after hundreds of years, the business model of paying for publishing operations primarily by selling print subscriptions to institutional subscribers is quickly being changed beyond recognition." O'Grady is the Executive Director of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

JISC grant program for open-access journals

JISC has launched a grant program for open access publishing. It invites proposals from "academic publishers or learned societies looking to move to an open access model for their journal(s)." The grants will go to a small number of applicants who "agree to waive open access submission and publication fees for UK HE staff for a one-year period." The application deadline is February 2, 2004. (Thanks to Fred Friend.)

Politics of open access

Dick Kaser, The Politics of Open Access, Information Today, December 2003. A summary of the pro and con arguments, with an accent on the skepticism expressed by the commercial publishers.

Elsevier defends its position

Bobby Pickering, Elsevier hits back at journal cuts, Information World Review, December 4, 2003. (Thanks to Gary Price.) Elsevier tries to put a good face on the wave of cancellations, saying that most negotiations with subscribers are going well and the cancellations are about removing duplicates and shifting from print to electronic. (PS: Can this really fool anyone who's been reading the angry public statements from libraries and universities?)

Innovative interfaces for ejournals

Gerry McKiernan, New Age Navigation: Innovative Information Interfaces for Electronic Journals, The Serials Librarian, 45, 2 (2003) pp. 87-123. Abstract: "While it is typical for electronic journals to offer conventional search features similar to those provided by electronic databases, a select number of e-journals have also made available higher-level access options as well. In this article, we review several novel technologies and implementations that creatively exploit the inherent potential of the digital environment to further facilitate use of e-collections. We conclude with speculation on the functionalities of a next-generation e-journal interface that are likely to emerge in the near future."

Another Elsevier cancellation looming

Librarians at North Carolina State University (NCSU) hate the expense and inflexibility of the bundling deal on offer from Elsevier. The NCSU subscription expires on December 31, and librarians want support from the campus to cancel ScienceDirect if negotiations with Elsevier don't produce an acceptable outcome. After hearing a presentation from the librarians, the NCSU Library Committee (consisting of faculty, staff, and students) voted unanimous support. The librarians also won the support of the Faculty Senate, the Staff Senate, and the Student Senate. The resolution approved by the Faculty Senate charges the NCSU library to maintain "strong and flexible control over the state funds entrusted to it." For more detail, see the December 4 issue of Library Journal Academic Newswire (not online), and Kenneth Ball, Senate Backs Libraries, Technician Online (the NCSU student newspaper), December 4, 2003. (PS: The University of Iowa is also considering the option of cancelling with Elsevier.)

Six months of free access

Nature is providing six months of free online access for some important articles on RNA interference. This temporary free access is sponsored by Qiagen, a company making biotech tools. (PS: Sponsored free access is a promising method of funding and should be explored. But why just six months? Does Nature really believe that the revenue it will receive from old articles will exceed the gain to science, and the journal itself, in making these articles freely available forever? Use the Qiagen money to pay for the first six months, when there may really be some lost revenue. But after that, when the revenue potential is insignificant, provide free access without a subsidy rather than revert to toll-access.)

Mark McCabe's OA research

The Library Journal Academic Newswire for December 2 contains a short overview of the open-access research funded by the Open Society Institute and undertaken by Mark McCabe. Excerpt: "Researchers and academic librarians may be increasingly disillusioned about the marketplace for e-journals, but the emerging open access movement in STM publishing may help change that, says Georgia Tech economist Mark McCabe. In a conversation with the LJ Academic Newswire, McCabe, an expert on the evolving STM marketplace, said that open access has made a strong first step toward success --and may offer the only 'socially sensible' solution to reversing STM inflation. McCabe is currently in the early stages of an Open Society Institute-funded study that will analyze various open access models vs. subscription-based models. He said that open access can succeed in STM publishing because it restores a concept to the STM market that has diminished in recent years: competition."

Steps toward a better system of scholarly communication

John Unsworth, Not-so-Modest Proposals: What do we want our system of scholarly communication to look like in 2010? A presentation at the CIC Summit on Scholarly Communication, December 2, 2003 --and a strong, detailed endorsement of open access. Here are his seven steps to "a better system of scholarly communication":
  1. We all admit that most information is born digital now, even if that's not how it's published.
  2. Department chairs, even in History departments, accept the idea that quality and impact are what matter, not the quantity or the medium or the genre of publication
  3. Open Access becomes the new political correctness among content-producers
  4. Libraries insist on collecting digital content and universities support their effort to do so, out of an awareness that this is the key to a better world
  5. University presses normalize digital information to lower the cost of collecting and preserving it, and they perform a number of other functions that lower the cost of scholarship and increase its impact
  6. Provosts use subsidies, marketing, and university policy to encourage an ethos of open access among faculty, and to support open access principles as being in the best interest of all research organizations.
  7. Provosts use subsidies, marketing, and university policy to encourage collaboration between libraries and presses
Unsworth is the Dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Open source, open access, open courseware...

Peter Spotts, Who will build our digital future? Christian Science Monitor, December 4, 2003. Primarily about open-source software, but generalizing to other arenas in which "networks of strangers are challenging traditional firms with products that are just as good, more flexible --and often free." Spotts mentions the OpenCourseWare project and the Public Library of Science as related examples. Quoting Paul Saffo of the Institute for the Future: "You're seeing the first whispers of a gale on the horizon."

More on the database act

LIS News has collected a good list of links to recent news and comment on the database act. Some of its links are from the Slashdot discussion.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

DOAJ records in library catalogues

There's a good thread on the ERIL list on libraries that catalogue journal records from the Directory of Open Access Journals. (PS: All research libraries should do this. It's a good way to connect authors and readers, and to make both the library catalogue and the research literature more useful.)

New SPARC Open Access Newsletter

I just mailed the December issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. In addition to the usual round-up of news and bibliography from the past month, it answers the objection that foundations and universities can't require open access "until the infrastructure is ready", discusses the problem of achieving open access in countries and disciplines that pay authors for journal articles, and offers some advice to an undergraduate student about planning an academic career that combines open access with career advancement.

Monday, December 01, 2003

More on trade embargoes applied to scholarship

ACS imposes moratorium on some foreign papers, Chemical and Engineering News, November 25, 2003, p. 25 (accessible only to subscribers). An unsigned note reporting that the American Chemical Society (ACS) is following the IEEE in imposing "a moratorium on publishing journal articles that are written by authors in Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, or Sudan." The moratorium may be "temporary", however, because the ACS is applying for a license from the Treasury Department permitting it to publish articles by authors from embargoed nations. (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)

Copyright law can't block sharing of public domain info

Assessment Technologies (AT) sold a database that mixed copyrighted and public domain information. In fact, the PD info was collected at taxpayer expense. When a customer, WIREdata (WD) used the database to read the PD info and share it with others, AT sued for copyright infringement. Moreover, when WD tried to get the same data from the local governments that collected it, which are required by an "open records" law to share it with anyone for the costs of copying, the governments refused, fearing a copyright lawsuit from AT. Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit just issued a well-deserved smackdown to AT.
This case is about the attempt of a copyright owner to use copyright law to block access to data that not only are neither copyrightable nor copyrighted, but were not created or obtained by the copyright owner. The owner is trying to secrete the data in its copyrighted program --a program the existence of which reduced the likelihood that the data would be retained in a form in which they would have been readily accessible. It would be appalling if such an attempt could succeed.
Assessment Technologies v. WIREdata (decided November 25, 2003).

More on NLM standardized DTDs

An article by Robin Peek, NLM Proposes New Journal Standards, dated December 1, 2003, is in Information Today. For more details, see Archiving and Interchange DTD (last updated: November 5, 2003) . For a previous article by Robin Peek, see an item posted to this blog by Peter Suber on June 23, 2003.

Radical library conference presentations

The presentations from the conference, The radical library: taking up the challenge (London, November 13), are now online.

New Open Access Now

The December 1 issue of Open Access Now is now online. This issue features an editorial on the need for an unambiguous "open access" label, an interview with Les Grivell on searching and processing scientific literature, news on OA initiatives in Australia, and a profile of the Berlin Declaration.

"Open source genetics"

Anna Salleh, Push to free up biotech tools for all, ABC News in Science, December 1, 2003. On Australian geneticist Richard Jefferson and his new Biological Innovation for Open Society (BIOS) project --which has no web site yet. BIOS will provide open access to the tools of biotechnology. Excerpt: "Jefferson said the tools of innovation were being withheld from the public and from innovators themselves, stifling competition, fair play and creativity. 'For example, access to the fundamental tool used to transfer a gene into a plant, Agrobacterium transformation, is controlled by a handful of large companies,' he said. Jefferson called for a 'democratisation of innovation' based on 'open source genetics'. Central to this concept was a distinction between the tools of innovation and the products of innovation. Tools of genetics and modern biology should be made freely available just as computer programming tools were shared in the open source software movement, he said." (PS: Also see the Slashdot discussion.)

Sunday, November 30, 2003


OCLC has launched Extensible Repository Resource Locators (ERRoLs) for OAI Identifiers. ERRoLs provides cool URIs (roughly, permanent or persistent URLs) to metadata, content, or services in registered, OAI-compliant archives. For more detail, see Henk Ellermann's explanation and example.

Persistent URLs for free online resources

Valerie Bross and Naomi Kietzke Young, The PCC/CONSER PURL Project: Improving Access to Free Resources, The Serials Librarian, 45, 1 (September 2003), pp. 19-26 (not even an abstract free online). On the Persistent URL (PURL) project for free online resources from CONSER.

Canada's SYNERGIES project

Rowland Lorimer, Online Social Science and Humanities Journal Publishing in Canada and the SYNERGIES Project, The Serials Librarian, 45, 2 (December 2003) pp. 61-86 (accessible only to subscribers). Abstract: "Dysfunctional commercial scientific, technical and medical journal publishing is stimulating efforts to achieve greater, wider dissemination of scientific research for less cost. Various schemes, including open access to online publishing, have been proposed. The need to maintain the selectivity and focused intellectual energy of journals is paramount. The SYNERGIES project [PS: apparently no web site yet] will assist the community of Canadian social science and humantities journals to migrate online and will enrich the research record by allowing for the publication of associated data sets and other primary documents, theses and monographs, preprints and other unpublished content in the nontextual media. The project aims to serve Canada's cultural and research interests and facilitate research innovation in a variety of disciplines."

Coping with user expectations for OA to everything

Jina Choi Wakimoto, Electronic Resources: Approaches in Providing Access, Journal of Internet Cataloging, 6, 2 (March 2003) pp. 21-33 (accessible only to subscribers). Abstract: " With the explosion of information readily available via the World Wide Web, library patrons come in with certain misconceptions and walk away disappointed when their expectations are not met. Common user misconceptions include that everything is available on the Web in full-text, and that the local library subscribes to the materials the user wants or needs. Today's patrons expect access anytime and from any location. How realistic is this picture, and how can librarians best provide access to these web resources? This paper describes the current online environment and various approaches to provide access to the resources available electronically --title lists, databases, and integration into the OPAC."

Sharing and stealing

Jessica Litman, Sharing and Stealing, a preprint posted to SSRN. From the abstract: "The purpose of copyright is to encourage the creation and mass dissemination of a wide variety of works. Until recently, most means of mass dissemination required a significant capital investment. The lion's share of the economic proceeds of copyrights were therefore channeled to publishers and distributors, and the law was designed to facilitate that. Digital distribution invites us to reconsider all of the assumptions underlying that model. We are still in the early history of the networked digital environment, but already we've seen experiments with both direct and consumer-to-consumer distribution of works of authorship. One remarkable example of the difference consumer-to-consumer dissemination can make is seen in the astonishing information space that has grown up on the world wide web....This paper...proposes that we adopt a legal architecture that encourages but does not compel copyright owners to make their works available for widespread sharing over digital networks...." (Thanks to C-FIT.)