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Kofi Annan, Science for All Nations, Science Magazine, February 13, 2004. The Secretary-General of the United Nations appraises the role of science in helping to realize the Millennium Development Goals. Excerpt:
If every nation gains full access to this broader world community of science and has the opportunity to develop an independent science capability, its public can engage in a candid dialogue about the benefits and risks of new technologies, such as genetically engineered organisms or nanotechnology, so that informed decisions can be made about their introduction into our lives. We are fortunate to live in an age that offers new opportunities for involving all nations in the great adventure of S&T....New forms of communication now allow scientists in even the least developed nations to join in research collaboration with colleagues in neighboring countries or on the other side of the world. For instance, the London-based Science and Development Network (www.SciDev.net) offers up-to-date information on science-related issues to the developing world and builds regional networks of institutions.
On January 23, the AAP Professional and Scholarly Publishers Division (PSP) released a public letter criticizing the U.S. Treasury Department for applying trade embargoes to scientific publications. The PSP believes the ruling not only violates the First Amendment rights of U.S. publishers, but violates the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which the Treasury Department was supposed to be enforcing. Excerpt: The Treasury Department ruling and regulations "constitute a serious threat to the U.S. publishing community in general and to scholarly and scientific publishers in particular. The threat is not only to the practical viability of publishing as an important export industry, if other countries perceive that the U.S. is trying to license and limit the submission and processing of manuscripts in ways that are inimical to traditional standards of the scholarly and scientific communities regarding the free dissemination of information, but also to the basic First Amendment right of publishers to be free of government-imposed prior restraints on publication. Several organizations are currently considering...a possible legal challenge to the regulations, as well as possible discussions with the Executive Branch officials and Members of Congress regarding possible revisions to the regulations or to the statutory authority governing their promulgation." (PS: I've criticized the PSP position on open access, but I applaud this position on the embargo of scientific publications.)
On January 29, the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) released a report, Rip-off 101, accusing book publishers of greedy practices that have precipitated a textbook pricing crisis. Also see the CALPIRG press release. CALPIRG hosts a non-profit online bookswap for students, and has persuaded Rep. David Wu (D-WA) to submit legislation (H.R. 3567) to investigate price gouging by the textbook industry. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) has introduced similar legislation in the Senate. The American Association of Publishers has written a reply to the CALPIRG report. (PS: I'm struck by the parallels to the journal pricing crisis and the dual response to create free and affordable journals. CALPIRG also calls for both, and there is a growing movement to create truly open-access textbooks. For example, see the story out Penn State earlier today.)
JISC is offering to fund a study examining the sustainability of the digital environment within the further and higher education sector. It is also offering to fund the development of overarching technical standards guidance to support JISC activities. In both cases, applications are due by March 12, 2004.
OCLC has launched ResearchWorks, a guide to the projects currently under way at its research lab, including links to working papers and demos. A good number of the projects facilitate the dissemination, sharing, and discovery of online scholarship. For example, check out the Errol project, which lets you browse the sets, metadata formats, records, and identifiers of all the OAI-compliant archives in the comprehensive UIUC registry.
JISC's JORUM+ Project has just released its eight-volume scoping study. The project will create an OA repository for learning materials. Excerpt from the executive summary: "The JORUM service will form a key part of the JISC's [Information Environment], providing the means by which access to, deposit of, and sharing and re-use of, freely available learning and teaching content can be undertaken by teaching staff and their colleagues....Over time, we believe that the JORUM service is likely to:...Form part of a landscape of related repository developments e.g. institutional and regional, utilising cross-searching, OAI and portal developments to share information about learning objects (LOs) and teaching support materials."
As part of a free trade deal with the U.S., Australia has agreed to extend the term of Australian copyright 20 years. As in the U.S., the term is now 70 years after the death of the author. The effect is to slow the flow of all future work into the public domain and retroactively delay the transition to the public domain of 20 years' worth of previously published work. The extension is as controversial in Australia as it was in the U.S. and for the same reasons. See Fergus Shiel, Libraries caught in copyright changes, The Age, February 11, 2004. Quoting Colette Ormonde, copyright adviser for the Australian Library and Information Association: "The outcome is bad for libraries. It is bad for students. It is bad for researchers. It is bad for all information users. We have agreed to a very restrictive US copyright regime with no clear dispute mechanism....[I]t will cause huge problems. People who have been using information that is in the public domain will suddenly have to pay for it." More coverage. (PS: It was wrong for the US to put private interests ahead of the public interest in a vibrant, continually-fed public domain, and wrong to pressure Australia to do the same. If copyright harmonization is important, then the U.S. should repeal the Bono Act and adopt the shorter Australian copyright term.)
SwetsWise Online Content has recruited 10 new publishers, including BioMed Central. For more details, see the Swets press release. (PS: This is another instance of the intriguing trend of aggregators to offer access to OA journals alongside priced journals, giving users a more comprehensive array of sources and giving OA journals new visibility through the aggregator's search service. See last month's announcement that EBSCO A to Z had added nearly 1,000 OA journals to its collection.)
The presentations from the CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication: Implementing the benefits of OAI (Geneva, February 12-14, 2004), are now online. For most presentations, there are both PPT slides and video online. (PS: I spoke at this conference and am writing this note from Geneva.)
The link in yesterday's posting on the Elsevier written testimony is already dead. Apparently the testimony was removed from the Elsevier site at the request of the House of Commons. However, another copy is still online at the Reed Elsevier site. But it may not be there long. (Thanks to Jan Velterop.) (PS: The House of Commons is asking witnesses to refrain from posting their testimony online until at least March 1. After that, we should expect to see most of the submissions. I'll post URLs here as I learn them.)
The January issue of Learned Publishing is now online (only the TOC and abstracts are accessible to non-subscribers). Here are the OA-related articles.
Elsevier has submitted written testimony to the committee. Breathtaking. I'm at a conference and don't have time to write a reply. But it asserts that UK academics already have adequate access (but only because JISC paid dearly for it), that OA journals don't perform peer review or don't do it well (same old, same old), that the OA journal business model is untested and unsustainable (despite being more viable than the Elsevier model, which the U of California called "incontrovertibly unsustainable"), and more. (Thanks to Gary Price.)
Brandy Karl, How the Current Congressional Database Protection Bill Would Go Beyond Current Law, and Why It is Unconstitutional and Misguided FindLaw's Writ, February 11, 2004. Karl, a third-year law student at Boston University, demonstrates how the Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act (DCIMA) is essentially "An Unconstitutional Attempt to Copyright Uncopyrightable Material," shows examples of how databases are and are not protected by copyright law, and argues against its enactment: "A free society does not hoard its facts and ideas -- but that is just what DCIMA protects and encourages." (Source: The Virtual Chase)
Azeem Azhar, The Microsoft Killers, Prospect, no.95 (February 2004). Azhar reviews the history and growth of open source software and the spread of the open source model into education (such as MIT's OpenCourseWare) and academic publishing (such as BioMed Central.) "The open access movement aims to increase distribution of research through journals unhampered by restrictive licensing regimes and high subscription costs-indeed, it has been doing so for several years, and some of them have become essential sources for scientists." The author also notes the British parliament's inquiry into the costs of scientific publishing. An interesting discussion of "public goods" explores the benefits people gain from participating in open source projects. Azhar's concluding points summarize how open source models are sustainable in the marketplace and represent real challenges to large, heretofore dominant companies. (Source: SciTechDaily)
Richard N. Armstrong, Editorial, Biochemistry 43 (1), 1 -2, 2004. In an editorial inaugurating his tenure as editor-in-chief of the American Chemical Society's Biochemistry, Armstrong concludes by inviting ACS members who advocate open access policies to make their views known to the society:
While the ACS was an industry leader in developing electronic archives for its journals, it has yet to implement what the majority of scientists agree is in the best interest of science: a free, publicly accessible electronic archives policy. This has been embraced by competing publications of other scientific societies, particularly those in the realm of biology. I know that some potential authors and reviewers refuse to publish in or review for ACS journals because of this policy. This is obviously not good, as it will ultimately erode the impact of ACS journals. The archives policy is, as it should be, in the hands of ACS governance. ACS governance is ultimately in the hands of the membership. If you believe, as I do, that this is an important issue, become part of the solution and make your thoughts known to the ACS Publications Division, the Publications Committee, and Board.
Danielle Douglass, Hamilton Library Suffers Devastating Budget Cuts, Ka Leo O Hawaii, February 09, 2004. The University of Hawaii at Manoa's newspaper reports that the university library was forced to cut its serials budget by half a million dollars. Several librarians comment on the loss, noting the impact on research at Hawaii. The relatively high price of science journals is noted. Then article quotes one librarian as saying: "Science publishers feel that they can charge a lot ...There's a big movement in science now to create so-called free sources and open-source journals ... but it hasn't grown to the extent that you can get rid of the really big name journals that are very expensive." (Source: librarian.net)
The March issue of the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology is now online. Here are the OA-related articles (only the TOC and abstracts are free online).
Lee Strickland, Breaking News on the Database Front, Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, December/January, 2004. A very good background piece in case you came to this issue late. Excerpt: "What is certain is that this legislation may serve to undercut our basic national information policy. Facts are public domain, while the particular expression of ideas based on those facts may be protected for a limited time. This policy has been the historic foundation of our economy and system of government and must remain so. Continued legislation in the realm of intellectual property, with implications evident only after years of application and judicial decision, are worrisome indeed."
Lorrin R. Garson, Communicating Original Research in Chemistry and Related Sciences, Accounts of Chemical Research, ASAP Article, February 10, 2004. (Access restricted to subscribers.) Garson delivers a lengthy review of the history of publishing in chemistry, noting successful journals and indexing services such as Chemical Abstracts. He surveys the current journal publishing landscape, giving a passing mention of Elsevier and contrasting them with players in the open access landscape (PLoS, BioMed Central, others,) noting: "The viability of such endeavors is dependent upon attracting authors and efficient operations and, in some cases, upon publishers freely making their materials available. Ultimately success is dependent upon the financial support of journal purchasers-unless subsidies are provided from granting agencies or the government." The two major non-profit chemical society publishers (ACS and RSC) are referenced; however, the author documents that publications from these societies constitute only a small percentage of articles included in Chemical Abstracts, and that chemists contribute greatly to commercial journals. Garson remarks that electronic-only journals have not been successful (notably the RSC's PhysChemComm ceased in early 2004,) judging by slow growth in the number of articles published; in particular, the Internet Journal of Chemistry showed a surprising decline. Similarly, chemists have not rushed to place their papers in preprint archives, "possibly because of greater commercial activities in chemistry;" the Chemistry Preprint Server has attracted only about 700 articles over a three-year period. The author touches on publishing economics, pointing out that transition to electronic distribution has not reduced costs as may have been hoped, largely because of publishers' expenditures in information infrastructure while simultaneously distributing print journals. A brief mention is given to institutional repositories and similar efforts in academia to assert more control over producing and retaining information. On the question of journal prices, the author notes that many of the costs can be attributed to "the increase in research output" and "submission inflation." He goes on to name many of the innovations brought about by electronic journals, including embedded multimedia, computer code, spectra, web sites, while pointing the development of various forms of XML such as the chemical (CML) and mathematical (MML) markup languages. Garson concludes that due to the difficulties new publishers will face in getting name recogntion and recovering their costs, the name publishers will retain their lofty position in the marketplace.
Yesterday the University of Connecticut Faculty Senate adopted a resolution that asserts the vital interests of all faculty and students in access to scholarly literature, condemns "the business practices of some journals and journal publishers [as] inimical to these interests", calls on senior faculty "to reduce their support of journals or publishers whose practices are inconsistent with the health of scholarly communication by submitting fewer papers to such journals, by refereeing fewer papers submitted to such journals, or by resigning from editorial posts associated with such journals", and calls on administrators "to reward efforts by faculty, staff, and students to start or support more sustainable models for scholarly communication."
The Winter 2004 issue of the SciX Newsletter is now online. This issue contains a pre-release overview of the SciX Open Publishing Services (SOPS) software, which creates and maintains OAI-compliant repositories, manages electronic journals and conference proceedings, and supports the MS Office Task Pane, Office Smart Tags, citation management software, and RSS feeds.
SAIL e-prints (Search, Alert, Impact and Link) is an e-prints repository interface which searches some 60 open access repositories in the sciences. You can search all or a specific repository or limit to one or more disciplines. With registration one may enable alerting functions. A project of La Biblioteca dell'Area di Ricerca di Bologna (Source: Marcus Zillman)
Guha Krishnaswami and David S. Chi, Clinical and Molecular Allergy: a new open access journal that addresses rapidly evolving information in the field of allergy and immunology Clinical and Molecular Allergy 2:1, 2004. The authors announce the launch of a new open-access journal to publish papers in the study of "all clinical and molecular aspects of allergic disease," stating that at present there is no journal covering both areas of research, and that their journal will publish reviews and articles focusing especially on molecular diagnostics and therapeutics in the allergy research community. They have chosen BioMed Central as their host, remarking "online journals provide novel ways of disseminating medical information," and commenting on a streamlined editorial and publishing process and greatly increased through BioMedCentral and PubMedCentral.
If advertising is part of an ejournal's funding, whether the journal is OA or conventional, then it matters how well it stacks up against other ejournals as a site where advertisers want to spend their money. A new report from Bioinformatics analyzes the ejournal market in the life sciences with this in mind. The full report costs $2,900, but the executive summary is free to users willing to register. Quoting the press release: "The best place to advertise has always been where potential customers congregate, and life science executives are challenged to place their online ads at the sites that contain the best mix of content and features considered useful by scientists....Since many Web sites vastly differ in focus, quality, depth and functionality, the report suggests that suppliers be more discriminating when spending their online advertising budgets, otherwise they may be tarnished by associations with sites that disappoint, lead astray or misinform."
JISC is willing to award funding up to £30,000 for a study to forecast a delivery, management and access model for eprints and open-access journals within further and higher education. Applications are due by noon on March 10, 2004.
Public Knowledge has set up a web form for sending your representative in Congress a fax opposing the database bill. Quoting PK's analysis of the bill: "Information that falls outside the already-established categories of intellectual property is a shared resource, a public good, and one that is enriched rather than diminished by policies that increase rather than decrease everyone's access to it....The core [principle] of the Copyright Act is that mere information and ideas are not protectable. Further, under Feist v. Rural Telephone, only the creative expression and/or assembly of information is protectable. Indeed, neither the Framers of the Constitution, nor the Supreme Court in interpreting the Copyright Clause, has ever taken so broad a view of Congress' powers as to suggest that Congress can put a price tag, not just on copyrighted or patented works, but on every fact worth knowing....Our leaders and policymakers should strive to make it easier and less costly --not more difficult and more costly-- for citizens to have access to public information. This should be the goal even when that information has been assembled or reassembled by a small number of commercial enterprises."
Christine Lamb, Open Access Publishing Models: Opportunity or Threat to Scholarly and Academic Publishers, Shore Communications, February 9, 2004. The 28 page report costs $397, and considerably more for yearly updates and on-phone or on-site advisory services. From the synposis: "Since the introduction of the Web, scholarly peer-reviewed journal publishers have been wrestling with how to survive and thrive in a market that facilitates and encourages the free exchange of electronic content when their traditional business models are heavily reliant on print-based pricing and distribution. One emerging alternative to traditional journal is 'open access' – providing lawful free access to journal content online and funding its production through other models such as charging contributors for the privilege of peer review and branded publishing. This report defines the major attributes of the open access movement, analyzes the marketplace for open access, its business models and drivers, cost structures and funding, highlights and analyzes the major product and marketing attributes and overall effectiveness of six open access providers: BioMed Central, the Public Library of Science, The Scientific World, the Public Knowledge Project, The Berkeley Electronic Press and The Company of Biologists." Also see the press release.
Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Love affair with Reed begins to cool, Financial Times, February 9, 2004. An assessment of Reed Elsevier's financial health. Excerpt: "Most analysts agree that Reed is fundamentally strong. But there is growing evidence that the company's scientific publishing arm, which contributes about 28 per cent of sales and 40 per cent of profits, is being threatened. This is because of significant cutbacks in journal buying by some of Reed's largest customers, and scientists' increasing interest in cheaper alternative electronic publishing methods." Crispin Davis, Elsevier CEO, thinks the wave of cancellations in the US is a "red herring" and not representative of future trends. Beverlee French, director of shared digital content at the University of California's digital library, disagrees. Quoting French: "There are times when we librarians go to the academic faculty with budget problems and they say 'your job is to get more money'. This time, after seeing we spent $8m on Reed's electronic journals in 2003, they said 'we will be behind you if you decide to walk away'." (Thanks to David Prosser.)
Leigh Watson Healy, Revolution in the Land of the Giants, Outsell, January 22, 2004. The latest Competitor Assessment for the STM industry by Outsell, which is selling the 36 page PDF file for $1,095. Quoting from today's press release: Outsell, Inc., the only research and advisory firm that focuses exclusively on the Information Content (IC) Industry, today released new details in the serials crisis currently pitting libraries and academic institutions in open revolt against the publishers that serve them in the $11 billion Scientific, Technical & Medical (STM) information sector. Outsell's new Briefing, Competitor Assessment: STM - Revolution In The Land Of The Giants, contains detailed and actionable data and predictions for both buyers and sellers in the STM market. 'The transformation of STM publishing goes way beyond the widely reported Open Access threat,' said Outsell's Chief Analyst, Leigh Watson Healy. 'Open Access is just one symptom of the overall disease, and there are other ways that the market is responding. Much like Napster's shakeup of the music industry, the world is changing -- but there are plenty of opportunities for smart sellers to prosper and smart buyers to get more value for their shrinking budgets. The entire industry is witnessing a revolution in the making.'" (Thanks to Jan Velterop.)
On January 30, Cornell University launched Internet-First University Press, an open-access book publisher built on Cornell's DSpace institutional repository. Quoting from the press release: "Just when the recording, music and publishing industries are going all-out to stop people from making their products available on the Internet, a new publishing venture at Cornell University is challenging traditional scholarly publishing by taking the opposite approach: Make the full text of a new book freely available on the Internet, and give readers the option to buy the printed book. The new "open access" publisher, known as Internet-First University Press, launched recently with a catalog announcing four original manuscripts and several titles that have been out of print. Soon to be added are monographs, Cornell graduate student theses and, eventually, an online scholarly journal. The project also is publishing multimedia materials, including videos and collections of photographs....'What this model does, I propose, is reduce the financial risk for the publisher by eliminating the need for a large inventory,' says J. Robert Cooke, Cornell professor of biological and environmental engineering and former dean of the faculty, who is principal investigator for the project....'Faculty members value having their scholarship read, and the open-access approach provides immediate, worldwide access,' Cooke explains. 'Our first authors are all distinguished faculty with no need to build up their résumés. They have no pressing financial need or were smart enough to know they weren't going to get much money anyway.' Mostly, he points out, books written by academics and published by a university press have a narrow audience."
Also see Elizabeth Thomas, Schools make scholarly texts available on Web, The Daily Pennsylvanian, February 6, 2004. On the Cornell project and related digital library projects at Penn.
John Cox, Where Are the Industry, the Profession and the Art Headed? Charleston Advisor, January 2004. Good overview of recent publisher mergers and their implications for scholarly publishing. Cox's view of OA are generally skeptical. But he offers this: "One thing I do know is that a number of major commercial publishers are involved in contingency planning if Open Access reaches the 'tipping point' at which the whole industry switches business models. Open access will not lead to the demise of the large commercial publishers. If anything, they might well pick up the idea and run with it while the rest of the community continues its debates. Let us wait and see if Open Access is a substantive development, or little more than another bout of rhetoric that enables us to ignore the very real stresses in scholarly publishing."
George S. Machovec, Open Access and Scholarly Publishing, Charleston Advisor, January 2004. Introduction to a special issue devoted to open access. Excerpt: "This issue of The Charleston Advisor has a special focus on open access and the scholarly publishing crisis. Libraries are canceling journals at an ever-increasing pace due to declining or static materials budgets and the high price of journals. The scholarly community has acknowledged this dilemma for some time and many new initiatives have arisen to provide alternate publishing models. Initiatives such as local institutional repositories, SPARC (Scholarly Publsing and Academic Resources Coalition), BioMed Centgral, PubMed Central, PloS (The Public Library of Science), BioOne and others have each approached the problem in unique ways. Some initiatives provide low-cost publishing venues for existing societies, others have launched new journals to challenge high-priced commercial counterparts and some use new funding models to pay for their efforts."
Elizabeth D'Antonio-Gan, Open Access and the STM Publishing Crisis: A Medical Librarian's View, Charleston Advisor, January 2004. An argument for OA: "[T]he time is ripe for libraries and librarians to become more proactively involved not just as consumers of scientific information but as partners in the Open Access movement to counter the STM publishing crisis." But D'Antonio offers two cautions as well: "One of the challenges to this STM publishing paradigm change lies within the ability of alternative publishers to provide access to its free literature through mainstream scientific indexing services such as Chemical Abstracts, MEDLINE, EMBASE, etc. A secondary challenge is to provide a prestige generating tool for authors to address their need for professional recognition and metrics for promotion and tenure documentation much as the journal impact factor rating does. Over time, as seminal work gets published in Open Access journals and cited authors choose Open Access over the established STM journals, alternate validating tools will most likely be accepted by the scientific community."
Also see D'Antonio's extensive review of BioMed Central in the same issue.
Barbara Quint, OECD Ministers Support Open Access for Publicly Funded Research Data, Information Today, February 9, 2004. Good overview of the Declaration on Access to Research Data From Public Funding with some clarification not yet published elsewhere. Excerpt: "Some confusion arose as to whether the 'open access' advocated by the OECD signatories included the research results usually published in journals or was restricted to the large digital data sets of raw research material used by multiple researchers, e.g., the Human Genome project. Daniel Malkin, head of the OECD Science and Technology Policy Division of the OECD Directorate for Science and Technology in Industry, when asked for clarification, indicated that the focus was on data sets. However, when asked if the Declaration specifically excluded finished research products, as in published material, he earnestly pointed out that there is no such thing as a 'finished' research product. He quoted Professor Ryoji Noyori, president of RIKEN and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, who attended the conference and stated, 'Science is a never-ending journey.' Daniel [actually "David" --PS] Prosser, director of SPARC Europe, an alliance of European research libraries, library organizations, and research institutions, and an advocate for open access, commented that 'the language and the logic would seem to apply to both data and its interpretation in research results.'"
The act is still law and the controversy about it hasn't disappeared just because the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality last year. David Rothman recommends that Democrats ask the primary candidates to take a stand on reversing the act. In a note to a Democrat listserv in Virginia, he describes his attempt to persuade Sen. John Edwards to do so, and urges other Democrats to borrow or adapt his strategy with other candidates. (Thanks to LIS News.)
Brock Read covers the story in the February 9 Chronicle of Higher Education, Editorial Board of Scientific Journal Quits, Accusing Elsevier of Price-Gouging (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "The Board of Directors of a scholarly journal popular with computer scientists and mathematicians has resigned en masse, accusing its distributor, Elsevier, of making the publication too expensive for many college libraries to afford....Zvi Galil, another editor of the journal and dean of the school of engineering and applied science at Columbia University, said that Elsevier had increased the subscription rates unnecessarily, because production costs for the journal had not risen recently. 'Basically, we do all the work,' Mr. Galil said, 'and the company makes all the profit.'...Mass resignation might be an extreme tactic, but a growing number of editors worry that inflated costs will keep their journals from reaching a scholarly audience, said Daniel Greenstein, librarian for systemwide planning at the University of California. 'We're seeing a lot more of this happening as faculty begin to understand their role in the commercial aspect of the journal business,' he said." (PS: See my list of other cases of mass resignation.)