Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, January 23, 2004

OA will transform scholarly communication

David C. Prosser, The Next Information Revolution - How Open Access repositories and Journals will Transform Scholarly Communications, Liber Quarterly, 13, 3/4 (2003) (accessible only to subscribers). Abstract: "Complaints about spiralling serials costs, lack of service from large commercial publishers, and the inability to meet the information needs of researchers are not new. Over the past few years, however, we have begun to see new models develop that better serve the information needs academics as both authors and readers. The internet is now being used in ways other than just to provide electronic facsimiles of print journals accessed using the traditional subscription models. Authors can now self-archive their own work making it available to millions and new open access journals extend this by providing a peer-review service to ensure quality control."

Update. I just found an OA edition of the preprint.

Interview with Brewster Kahle

Lisa Rein, Brewster Kahle on the Internet Archive and People's Technology, O'Reilly P2P, January 22, 2004. An interview with Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive. Excerpt:

LR: Let's talk a little bit about your philosophy [today]. Could you discuss what you mean when you talk about "Universal Access To All Human Knowledge?"

BK: "Universal Access To All Human Knowledge" is a motto of Raj Reddy from Carnegie Mellon. I found that if you really actually come to understand that statement, then that statement is possible; technologically possible to take, say, all published materials -- all books, music, video, software, web sites -- that it's actually possible to have universal access to all of that. Some for a fee, and some for free. I found that was a life-changing event for me. That is just an inspiring goal. It's the dream of the Greeks, which they embodied, with the Egyptians, in the Library of Alexandria. The idea of having all knowledge accessible.

Have you built a digital library with open-source software?

The Scout Report is conducting an online survey of librarians and others who have used open source digital library software to build and manage online collections. The web site does not mention a due date for responses.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

OA to historic Lithuanian parchments

A UNESCO grant has enabled the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences to digitize about 10% of its collection of 1,400 parchments and provide open access to the digital images. The 121 parchments in the project include royal privileges, papal bulls, international agreements, genealogical data, and related historical information from 1187 to 1500. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

More on the database bill

Declan McCullagh, Tech firms fail to squelch database bill,, January 21, 2004. Excerpt: "By a 16-7 vote, the House Judiciary committee approved an intellectual property bill that had been opposed by, AT&T, Comcast, Google, Yahoo and some Internet service provider associations. The proposal, backed by big database companies such as Reed Elsevier and Thomson, would extend to databases the same kind of protection that copyrighted works such as music, literature and movies currently enjoy....The controversial because, critics say, it would sidestep a U.S. Supreme Court decision that said facts could not be copyrighted. Wednesday's vote follows a 10-3 vote last October in a subcommittee. Now the measure likely will go to the House floor in preparation for a possible vote." More coverage.

UC report on scholarly communication

Challenge and Change: Scholarly Communication and the UC Community, UC, December 18, 2003. A report from the UC Scholarly Communication Seminars held in October and November, 2003. The report consists more of questions than answers, but the questions are good ones. Excerpt: "what incentives could encourage and support faculty experimentation with new means of scholarly publishing? What incentives, for example, would encourage journal authors and/or editors to favor low-cost or even open-access publishing venues over high-cost commercial ones? What incentives would encourage faculty to consider monograph publications that are delivered primarily in electronic form though potentially with some print-based analogs?... We have an established infrastructure that supports no-cost access to working papers are produced by UC faculty. The so-called eScholarship program manages (and distinguishes carefully between) both peer reviewed as well as non-peer reviewed materials. It attracts papers from over 100 UC ORUs and materials are heavily used. How can we increase the rate and breadth of adoption of this infrastructure? How can we develop it to provide a home for post-prints (that is, an open-access venue for peer reviewed journal articles that are also available from for-fee publishers)? How can we develop it to provide a home for papers presented to UC-based conferences and seminars?" (Thanks to CDLINFO.)

OA to school policies makes them more effective

Garin Buttermore, tobacco prevention specialist for Youth & Shelter Services, Inc., believes that open access to school policies makes the policies more effective. He declared his belief after studying the tobacco-use policies from seven schools in Story County, Nevada. But he's willing to generalize beyond tobacco policies. "This information [in his report on the tobacco policies], as well as all school policies from violence prevention to school board elections, should be easily accessed and available."

GPO commitment to public access to government information

Judith C. Russell, the U.S. Superintendent of Documents, gave a presentation at the ALA Midwinter Meeting on what the Government Printing Office (GPO) and Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) are doing to promote public access to information. Excerpt: "[T]he one I want to emphasize the decision by the Association of Research Libraries to collaborate with GPO, and ultimately with the entire library community, on a national digitization plan, so that we can coordinate our efforts to digitize a complete legacy collection of U.S. government documents and make sure that the documents are available, in the public domain, for permanent public access." (Thanks to ShelfLife.)

Open Source Courseware

Andrea L. Foster, in 4 Colleges Collaborate on Open-Source Courseware , Chronicle of Higher Education Daily Report, January 22, 2004 (Access restricted to subscribers), describes the Sakai project, a partnership between Indiana University, MIT, Stanford and Michigan to produce open source course management systems and related software for academic institutions. Funding came from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation and the universities themselves. Sakai offers academic users an alternative to commercial course management applications, said to be used by some 80% of these institutions.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Epistolary analysis of the serials crisis

Klaus Franken, Die Zeitschriftenkrise, KOPS-Datenbank, December 2003. An exchange of letters between two fictitious scientific publishers, one English and one German, on the journal crisis in the STM fields. In German. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Open access good for scholars

Henk Ellermann, in a post to his weblog -=(In Between)=-: Open Access and Impact, January 21, 2004, relates how he is often questioned about the usefulness of open access for scholars and discusses its potential for increased impact. He cites a tool on the Citebase site, Correlation Generator, which shows the relationship between the number of downloads (from an open access archive) for a paper and the number of times it is cited. Such a correlation for Ellerman demonstrates good sense and that "Open Access is more than just a principe [sic], it is a working principle."

Open source in the life sciences

An unsigned column, "Industry and government must adopt open-source methods in the life sciences," Acumen v.1, no.3 (Sept. 2003), discusses how intellectual property protections may hamper research and points to an "emerging life sciences" open source movement, citing such examples as "the Human Genome Project, the Open Bioinformatics Foundation and the Public Library of Science." The column references an article in the same issue, Common Property, which reportedly covers these topics more in depth, but only the introductory paragraphs are available online.

Goldman Sachs downgrades Elsevier stock rating

From a Reuters story yesterday: "Goldman Sachs said on had downgraded Anglo-Dutch company Reed Elsevier (REL.L: Quote, Profile, Research) (ELSN.AS: Quote, Profile, Research) to 'in-line' from 'outperform' because of concerns over long-term pricing power in the scientific publishing market."

ACM position on the database bill

The ACM has taken a position against the database bill pending in the U.S. House. Excerpt:

ACM is a publisher and maintains an online digital library. While we have a vested interest in the protection of our copyrighted information, we also shoulder a responsibility for our discipline to promote public policies that advance the open interchange of information in ways that lead to advances in computing technology of benefit to society.

ACM has concluded that current US laws provide adequate protection for collections of data. Additional legal protections would impact the availability and use of data and information that have traditionally been in the public domain, including government-funded data that might not be available from any other source. The open sharing of data and information has been fundamental to the advancement of knowledge, technology and culture. Any broadly constructed effort intended to increase protection for commercial data collections would restrict public data collections, thereby imposing an unwarranted cost on the process of scientific discourse.

Accordingly, ACM agrees with the National Academies of Science, the American Libraries Association, the US Chamber of Commerce, and other scientific societies, public interest groups and businesses that do not see a compelling need to extend new legal protections for collections of data at this time.

A poll at the web site shows an overwhelming majority of ACM members "strongly agree" with its position. (Thanks to C-FIT.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

More misunderstanding

Peter Gregory, Open to interpretation, Chembytes E-Zine, December 2003, p. 33. (Originally an editorial in Chemistry in Britain.) A skeptical review of OA, full of misunderstandings, by the director of publishing at the Royal Society of Chemistry. Excerpt: "Open archive initiatives would allow those who can pay to promote their own work, provide industry with a 'free ride', and could result in an overall increase in costs and a reduction in quality and reliability....[Peer review is expensive.] It can, therefore, be argued that abandoning this system will save costs but if quality control is still desired, decentralising the process will cost still more, reduce its reliability, and require additional investment of time and effort by users." (PS: A good example of an article in need of peer review.)

Presentations on OA

The presentations from the SPARC/ARL session, Open Access: Getting From Here to There (January 10), at the ALA Midwinter Meeting (San Diego, January 9-14, 2004) are now online.

IEEE Software issue on open source applications

The latest issue ofIEEE Software has several pieces on open source computing. Abstracts are freely available, but access to full text requires a subscription. (Source: Confessions of a Science Librarian

Will the Elsevier-UC deal have to be renegotiated?

Yvette Essen, Market Report, The Telegraph, January 20, 2004. Excerpt: "Worries that Reed Elsevier will have to renegotiate a major contract with the University of California made the publisher the main blue-chip casualty yesterday. The shares fell 10 to 481.25p despite the media sector rallying following activity among the radio stocks. Credit Suisse First Boston said Reed was slipping as a deal to publish journals with the university looks like it could face further pricing pressure. It is thought to be the largest single contract in Reed's scientific, technical and medical publishing division. The broker said that, days after the contract was signed, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced further cuts in state funding for the university. CSFB reckons this could lead to a cut in the university library's income, which may trigger a break clause to renegotiate the contract downwards." (PS: I never thought I'd mention Arnold Schwarzenegger on this blog.)

JISC surveys on OA publishing

JISC is running two surveys on open-access publishing, one for authors who have already published in an OA journal and one for those who have not. Responses are due by January 30, 2004.

Obstacles facing OA

Bo-Christer Björk, Open access to scientific publications - an analysis of the barriers to change? Information Research, January 2004. Abstract: "One of the effects of the Internet is that the dissemination of scientific publications in a few years has migrated to electronic formats. The basic business practices between libraries and publishers for selling and buying the content, however, have not changed much. In protest against the high subscription prices of mainstream publishers, scientists have started Open Access (OA) journals and e-print repositories, which distribute scientific information freely. Despite widespread agreement among academics that OA would be the optimal distribution mode for publicly financed research results, such channels still constitute only a marginal phenomenon in the global scholarly communication system. This paper discusses, in view of the experiences of the last ten years, the many barriers hindering a rapid proliferation of Open Access. The discussion is structured according to the main OA channels; peer-reviewed journals for primary publishing, subject-specific and institutional repositories for secondary parallel publishing. It also discusses the types of barriers, which can be classified as consisting of the legal framework, the information technology infrastructure, business models, indexing services and standards, the academic reward system, marketing, and critical mass." (Thanks to Mine Shinji.)

Profile of SciDev.Net

David Dickson, Science and Technology Communication for Development, PLoS Biology, January 2004. A profile of SciDev.Net for the PLoS Biology Community Page, by its director. Oddly, for this venue, Dickson does not even mention SciDev.Net's coverage and advocacy of open access.

Lessons for OA from the history of JSTOR

Frederick Friend, Looking from the Past to the Future, PLoS Biology, January 2004. A review of Roger Schonfeld, JSTOR: A History, Princeton University Press, 2003, drawing lessons from this priced service for the OA movement. Excerpt: "JSTOR's success has encouraged others to develop services that are more in accord with 2003 than 1993. One lesson Roger Schonfeld does not draw out is the pace of change in electronic publishing, and if so much has been achieved since 1993, what promise is held out by the next ten years'!"

OA in action

Barbara Cohen, PLoS Biology in Action, PLoS Biology, January 2004. How the OA articles in PLoS Biology have already been used and how they can be used. Articles have been downloaded, modified and added to online encyclopedias where they are open to further modification, translated into other languages, and printed or transferred to CD-ROM for users without connectivity. All this is already permitted by the journal's Creative Commons license, so that users needn't wast time asking permission or pay fees to obtain it. Still to come: PLoS will work with software developers to produce tools for text- and data-mining of the XML versions of its articles.

Monday, January 19, 2004

More on the Elsevier troubles

Charles Goldsmith, Reed Elsevier Feels Resistance To Web Pricing, Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers, but also see this free online version). Goldsmith summarizes some of the protests against Elsevier prices and bundling policies, some of the recent cancellations, and the growing challenge from open-access journals. Excerpt: "[M]edia analysts are increasingly troubled by the threat that free online scientific research could pose to Reed's pricing power as ScienceDirect contracts come up for renewal. Reed's share price outperformed most media stocks in 2002 in large part on the strength of ScienceDirect; in 2003, Reed's share price fell more than 12%."

How does Elsevier respond to the protests against its inflexible and onerous bundling policies? Quoting Elsevier Science spokesman Eric Merkel-Sobotta: "It's like having a yearly magazine subscription, not liking the October issue and then saying, 'We want a refund."'

Protect the public domain

The EFF has a web form allowing you to send an email or fax urging your Congressional representative to support the Public Domain Enhancemen Act. If you're a US citizen, stop by and give this important campaign a quick boost.

NPR program on OA cancer research

Science Friday for January 16 gave half its time to Howard Chang of the Stanford Medical School, talking about his work on cancer progression and why he published it in PLoS Biology. (Thanks to the Creative Commons weblog.)

JISC buys ScienceDirect for UK universities

Today JISC and Elsevier announced a two-year agreement, starting this month, to provide ScienceDirect to all UK universities. (PS: This is not open access, but subsidized toll-access. But it's a major instance of it, forestalling for at least two years any UK participation in the wave of Elsevier cancellations sweeping the U.S.)

Analysis of publishers' copyright and archiving policies

Gerhard Beier and Ulla Tschida, Journal Publishers Approaches to Self-Archiving and Open Access : ZIM Briefing Paper, a preprint (without full-text) on the Max Planck Society eDoc Server, last revised October 14, 2003. Abstract: "Analysis of 80 scholarly publishers' copyright agreements - Selected examples from major publishers regarding self-archiving - Selected Reading and selected websites - Appendix A: Analysis of Copyright Transfer Agreements (CTA) and/or Licences of commercial Publishers and Learned Societies-Extracts." (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Update. When I first blogged this, only a citation and abstract were posted to the Max Planck eDoc Server. But now the full-text is online. (Thanks to Bernd-Christoph Kaemper.)

OCLC's vision

OCLC, 2003 OCLC Environmental Scan: Pattern Recognition, OCLC, 2003. A lengthy statement of OCLC's vision for information, libraries, and technology.

From the section on institutional repositories, scholarly communication, and open access: "The open access community is a broad-based movement with significant library support. See in particular the work of ARL in supporting SPARC, and the formation of the International Scholarly Communications Alliance (ISCA) by major library organizations worldwide that are dedicated to the pursuit of Open Access. The development of systems of e-print archives is supported by national initiatives in several countries."

From the section on preservation and persistence: "There is an overwhelming tension between the DRM community and the open access community and it?s getting worse."

New Open Access Now

The January 19 issue of Open Access Now is now online. This issue contains an editorial on open access in 2003, a group interview with three British journalists on how OA is affecting mainstream media, news stories on the inquiry in the UK House of Commons and the new PubMed Central policy to offer OA to individual articles from journals that do not otherwise participate in PMC, and a profile of HINARI.

Interview with Martin Blume on OA

R. Ramachandran, 'We have to be able to recover our costs', Frontline, January 17, 2004. An interview with Martin Blume, Editor-in-Chief of the American Physical Society. The whole interview is on OA issues and worth reading. But here are a few excerpts:

[RR] What is your reaction to the recently launched open-access journal PLoS Biology of the Public Library of Science and the basic philosophy of PLoS? Does the APS subscribe to the idea of free access to its archives and current issues of journals?

[MB] We would very much like to be able to provide open access to our journals. Again, we are not for making loss. We have to be able to recover our costs. The Public Library of Science --let me characterise it this way-- is open-access to readers but is toll-access to authors. We are the other way around. We are open-access to authors but toll-access to readers. Only one of our journals has page charges or article charges and that is Physical Review Letters and there it is essentially voluntary....But if we went to open access for readers, we have to recover the costs in some other way. We have to charge somebody for it and there would still be a problem.

[RR] Has the Ginsparg e-print archive impacted the APS journals in any way?

[MB] We make use of it. We mirror it as you know. We were the first mirror in the U.S. We use it for submissions, for example. We link to it so that if people refer to an article [in the e-print archive], we link to the article. Authors can post their articles in the e-print archive in advance of submission. In fact, we make use of that. We send the referee to the e-print archive [for downloading and refereeing]. It saves us money. In addition, we allow the final (published version) to be posted on it so that whatever is published is there. It is a form of open access. Most of the articles of high energy physics get into the e-print archive. Still this does not stop people from submitting because they want the peer review and the peer-reviewed version to be read. So, to answer your question, it has not impacted and it provides us with the benefit.

[RR] But has open access to the e-print archive impacted your subscription base?

[MB] Not that we can see. In point, this is a consequence of our collection of articles and a consequence of the fact that the e-print archive has things going back 10 years perhaps, growing during that time, but before that it is only the APS archive containing everything that we published since 1893.

(Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)

Lengthy introduction to OA

R. Ramachandran, The 'free access' debate, Frontline ("India's National Magazine"), January 17, 2004. A refreshingly long and detailed introduction to OA issues for the general reader. Ramachandran concludes that OA is superior to subscription models, especially for developing countries, that OA archives should be adopted now, and that the financing model for OA journals still needs experimental testing and confirmation. (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Open letter encouraging NIH to support OA

Richard Johnson, Director of SPARC, has written an open letter to Dr. Elias Zerhouni, Director of NIH, asking him to support open access. The letter is co-signed by the directors of the American Library Association, the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries, the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Medical Library Association. Excerpts:
Being aware that the National Institutes of Health is engaged in a review of its policies regarding the dissemination of research conducted with NIH funding, we encourage NIH support of open access to journal articles documenting agency-funded research....

Although the potential of the Internet to reduce costs and expand dissemination was widely anticipated, experience has shown that vested publishing interests --immune from normal market forces because of their control of "must have" content-- have blocked the realization of these potential benefits. This situation impairs scientific investigation and impedes the fullest sharing and application of research findings....

[T]he subscription-based journal model currently prevalent no longer maximizes access to research material. Nor is it economically sustainable. After years of active engagement in market-based experiments aimed at introducing competitive forces to achieve expanded dissemination of research, our organizations have concluded that open-access business models are a highly promising means of addressing the fundamental needs of science and medicine in a digital age....

[T]he opportunity to maximize U.S. taxpayers' return on their investment in NIH will not be fully realized until the power of the Internet and corresponding new financial models are embraced. We encourage NIH to unleash this potential by earmarking a portion of NIH grant funds to be used only for open-access publication and recommending to grantees that they avail themselves of this option.