Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, May 29, 2004

BMJ editor responds to Elsevier CEO

Tony Delamothe, 'Author pays' model raises hope of freely available research, Financial Times, May 29, 2004. A letter to the editor in response to Arie Jongejan's anti-OA article published on Wednesday. Excerpt: "From a company making margins of 34 per cent from publishing scientific research, Elsevier's Arie Jongejan understandably cannot resist the temptations of the status quo. But those of us who are less conflicted applaud Wellcome Trust's endorsement of the 'author pays' business model for underwriting the costs of scientific publishing, and its illuminating analyses of the peculiar economics of this market." (PS: In fairness, "author pays" is a misleading way to describe this business model, whether the phrase is used by friends or foes. In most cases the fee will be paid by the author's research grant or be waived. Many OA journals charge no processing fee at all.)

Friday, May 28, 2004

new OA math journal coming -- Probability Surveys

Project Euclid has announced that it will host a new, open access, digital journal from the Institute of Mathematical Statistics: Probability Surveys, with UC Berkeley's David Aldous as editor. Probability Surveys is a peer-reviewed e-journal which publishes survey articles in theoretical and applied probability. The first articles are scheduled to be available in early July. from SPARC E-News April/May 2004

More on the CERN decision to sign the Berlin Declaration

Richard Sietmann, CERN unterstützt Open Access, Heise Online, May 24, 2004. On CERN's support for OA and decision to sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access at the recent Berlin 2 meeting (Geneva, May 12-13). (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Intro to OA issues for German readers

Christian Flatz, Wandel im Publikationswesen? A note (in German) on the news page of the Medizinische Universität Innsbruck, briefly surveying the serials pricing crisis and OA as a potential solution. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Avoiding journal rot

George Porter writes an extensive commentary at the (sci-tech) Library Question on the fleeting nature of online journals, citing several horrific examples of when a journal ceases publication and the publisher does not deign to maintain the electronic archive (he also mentions a few instances of publishers following good practice and maintaining backfiles if a journal has ceased or changed publishers, etc.) He also highlights the LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe) project, praises the libraries and publishers who are participating, and chides the holdouts for their fecklessness.

Another contribution to the Nature OA debate

Daniel Greenstein, Not so quiet on a Western front, Nature, May 28, 2004. Excerpt: "I believe that the business model of commercial publishing, which once served the academy's information needs, now threatens fundamentally to undermine and pervert the course of research and teaching. Put bluntly, the model is economically unsustainable for us. If business as usual continues, it will deny scholars both access to the information they need and the ability to distribute their work to the worldwide audience it deserves....Will author charges sustain high-quality peer reviewed [open-access] publications? Perhaps not. But surely the combination of uncertainty and hope associated with this unproven model is vastly superior to the certainty and hopelessness that surrounds the current and failed commercial one....In this regard, is it not more appropriate to view the current Open Access business model as a starting point and catalyst for change rather than as a static form? Will the model work outside a small number of scientific disciplines? It may not, but should we not be encouraging various approaches, so long as each meets a range of agreed criteria concerning, for example, quality (peer review), price, facility of production, accessibility, interoperability and persistence?"

Editorial on PNAS open access

Nicholas R. Cozzarelli, An open access option for PNAS, PNAS Early Edition, May 27, 2004. Following up on PNAS's announcement of its open access option for authors (see earlier posting by Peter Suber,) Cozzarelli uses an editorial to explain the journal's approach to OA and their rationale. He lists current initiatives such as PNAS making all (except the latest) content available through PubMedCentral - including, by the end of this year, the complete backfile to 1915; extending free access to the developing world; and loosening copyright and reprint restrictions for authors, for example enabling them to post articles on their websites. However, the editor points out that PNAS is not supported by the National Academies or any other funding body, functioning "as a non-profit, break-even operation." His concern is financial support for OA: "Although I have no doubt that open access will be made to work for much of the scientific literature, I am not sure how." PNAS sees the open access option as a "compromise" and an "experiment," based on discussions of the editorial board and taking into account a survey of authors on OA's desirability. While not willing to take "substantial financial risk," Cozzarelli acknowledges that this interim step will keep PNAS in the OA picture: "Open access resonates particularly with young scientists. We do not want to lose the opportunity of publishing the important work of these researchers ..." He concludes by stating that the author-payment model may not work in the long term and that "the critical step is gaining institutional support" for OA.

UC policy on cataloging OA resources

The University of California Libraries have adopted a policy (May 13, 2004) for the cataloging, linking, and management of OA resources. The policy includes criteria for what counts as an OA resource (based primarily on the BOAI) and procedures for nominating and approving OA resources for cataloging. Faculty who want a certain OA resource to be catalogued may fill out an online request form.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Elsevier permits postprint archiving

Elsevier now permits important kinds of postprint archiving. Authors may post the final editions of their full-text Elsevier articles to their personal web sites or their institutional repositories, but not to repositories elsewhere. The OA edition must be author-made, not Elsevier's PDF or HTML, and must include a link either to the journal's home page or the article's DOI. Stevan Harnad announced the good news to multiple listservs, based on an email from Karen Hunter, Elsevier's Senior VP for Strategy. (PS: This is a breakthrough. Permission for postprint archiving is all that authors need to provide OA to the final, peer-reviewed editions of their own work. Elsevier deserves our thanks for adopting this most helpful policy. Elsevier authors --past, present, and future-- should take advantage of the new policy without delay. Other publishers should imitate it. Universities that haven't already done so should accommodate it by launching institutional repositories.)

Gateway for neuroscientists

The Neuroscience Database Gateway is a pilot project of the Society for Neuroscience's Brain Information Group. The gateway provides links to 76 disparately-hosted databases, accessible from one page, or browsable by category (e.g. experimental data sites, knowledge bases, sites with software and related tools.) The Brain Information Group was "charged with evaluating the current status of neuroscience databases; assessing future directions of neuroscience data management, data sharing, and database interoperability; and promoting enhanced awareness of the potential for databases to benefit the neuroscience community." Surveys of members of the neuroscience committee helped identify the need for a centralized gateway. (Source: Science Netwatch, Science 304, 1221 (28 May 2004.))

3 more BMC OA journals mirrored by PMC

PubMed Central mirrors all of the BioMed Central OA material. The newest PMC archives are for: Harm Reduction Journal Fulltext v1+ (2004+) Online ISSN: 1477-7517 International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity Fulltext v1+ (2004+) Online ISSN: 1479-5868 Retrovirology Fulltext v1+ (2004+) Online ISSN: 1742-4690

Elsevier CEO criticizes OA journals

Arie Jongejan, The formula works, so don't tinker with it, Financial Times, May 26, 2004. Elsevier's Science and Technology CEO defends the status quo and criticizes OA publishing. Despite the title, there's a lot more of the latter in this article than the former. His criticisms of the OA journal business model will be familiar to anyone who has been following the debate. (PS: Jongejan's chief criticism is based on the misunderstanding that OA journals charge authors, rather than author-sponsors, and holds that the OA journal business model will exclude the poor. I've replied to this objection elsewhere. Jongejan offers no criticism of OA through archiving, and no defense against the mounting criticism, from universities and financial analysts, that the Elsevier business model is unsustainable.)

HINARI v. OA archiving

Barbara E. Kirsop, Leslie Chan, Subbiah Arunachalam, Open Access Archives for the global distribution of research publications, BMJ, May 26, 2004. A letter to the editor in response to Srinivasa Katikireddi's article about HINARI published on May 15. Excerpt: "The recent review of the HINARI project was timely and highlighted the great imbalance between access to essential research information. In this programme, collaborating publishers have agreed to make material available where it will not adversely affect their commercial interests. While this is a valuable development of immediate importance, it does not seem to us that this is the best policy in terms of sustainability....Those of us working to establish mechanisms to improve access to research information believe that OAA provides enormous and sustainable benefits. The establishment of institutional archives brings greatly increased visibility to the research output of institutions and is already showing a three- to five-fold increase on the research impact of articles archived in this way. This policy can therefore lead to immediate benefit, and is low-cost, equitable and highly appropriate as a means of levelling the playing field for access to information."

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Protest against treasury department prohibitions

Kenneth R. Foster, Call for action to protect free exchange of ideas, Nature 429, 343 (27 May 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) Foster takes issue with the recent US Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) ruling, which, even though it reversed an earlier decision preventing the IEEE and others from editing papers from authors in embargoed countries, "the same ruling 'would consider a prohibited exportation of services to occur when a collaborative interaction takes place between an author in a Sanctioned Country and one or more US scholars resulting in co-authorship or the equivalent thereof'." the writer points out how this ruling hurts scientific collaboration with foreign nationals; "scientists and engineers in Iran and other embargoed countries are just the sort of people to whom Western democracies should reach out." He concludes his letter calling upon scientific societies in the U.S. and elsewhere to protest the ruling.

Anti-trust action against publishing monolopies

Mary Case, Information Access Alliance: Challenging anticompetitive behavior in academic publishing, College & Research Libraries News, June 2004. Excerpt: "While mergers and acquisitions in publishing reflect a general global trend, librarians have been concerned with the growing concentration within scholarly publishing, especially as it has affected scientific, technical, and medical (STM) journals and legal serials publications. Enhanced revenue, improved efficiencies, and reduced costs are often mentioned by companies as the justification for mergers. Within scholarly publishing, however, librarians have watched the number of companies shrink while prices rise and service declines....All members of IAA are devoted to finding alternative models of scholarly communication. All are promoting efforts to move to an open access environment. But we all also know that it may be several years before the current systems are transformed. In the meantime, Taylor and Francis continues its aggressive acquisitions campaign, and Candover and Cinven have indicated their desire to purchase a third scholarly publisher. If our efforts can stop or even slow the pace of mergers of STM and legal publishers, we can perhaps constrain price increases in some small measure and allow libraries to allocate resources to support new models of scholarly publishing."

US research chief wants to improve research access for practicing physicians

John Marburger, Creating the Infrastructure to Improve the Public's Health, OSTP, May 20, 2004. Marburger is the Director of the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). In this public lecture, he outlines some reforms for the management of federally funded research. He does not endorse or even mention OA, but he does say the following: "Most 'structured' output from federally sponsored research is in the form of peer-reviewed scientific publications. For clinical research, this is not an ideal form. Unfortunately, such publications are the coin of the realm in research universities, and efforts to change them tend to encounter obstacles at the institutional level. Some of the same cultural biases regarding appropriate research outputs may exist in the peer review process for evaluating clinical grant proposals. I am not sure what the cure is, but one symptom that needs to be addressed is the relatively lower impact of clinical research papers on clinical practice compared with the impact of basic science research papers on the course of scientific research. This is an important issue. Agencies can certainly encourage 'use of research' either by directly requiring it in the grant agreements, by establishing grant programs specifically for 'use' activities, or by less direct means. NIH, the Agency for Healthcare Quality Research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Veterans Affairs all have a responsibility to transfer knowledge across the health research and health care spectrum -- to identify bottlenecks and address them effectively." (PS: If the problem Marburger is describing here is that clinicians don't have subscriptions or institutional access to most peer-reviewed journals, then OA is part of the solution.)

Harvard Open Collections Project

The Harvard University Library Open Collections Project released a prototype of its first collection, Women Working, 1870-1930. Eventually, the website will provide access to thousands of digitized books, manuscripts and images. Recently digitized items may be browsed at the website. The Open Collections Project describes itself thusly: "The goal of the Harvard Libraries Open Collections Program is to increase the availability and use of textual and visual historical resources for teaching, learning, and research by selecting resources from the Harvard Libraries in broad topic areas, putting them in digital format, and providing access to them through the World Wide Web and the Harvard Library catalogs." (Source: Peter Scott's Library Blog)

Mathematics Journals - food for thought

'Mathematics Journals - food for thought and links' is the title of a recently added segment on Stephen Wills' Journals - pricing rant and useful links. Wills is a mathematics lecturer at University College Cork. Wills notes the Knuth/JoA/ACM TALG situation and Rob Kirby's 1997 open letter and 2000 math journal price surveys, among other math-specific issues. He cites the Barschall case as a cautionary tale. In addition, he maintains an excellent set of free and Open Access math journal links.

View on e-journal evolution

Jeanne Galvin, The Next Step in Scholarly Communication: Is the Traditional Journal Dead?, Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, v.5 no.1 (Spring 2004). Galvin reviews the development of electronic journals and the open access movement and considers the acceptance of both by scholarly communities. She points out disadvantages of traditional journals and how these are countered by e-publication, OA and institutional repositories. Furthermore, Galvin discusses new concepts in scholarly publishing: "David Rodgers has suggested that the structure of publication will change from one marked by discrete milestones, such as peer review and acceptance, to a continuum more closely resembling the scholarly process. He proposes that the unit of transaction should be the idea, rather than the article. Smith recommends a 'deconstructed journal' which does not need a publisher and is based on subject focal points." However, combatting academic inertia is viewed as the biggest obstacle to changes in publishing. (Source: Peter Scott's Library Blog)

Happy birthday to us

The Open Access News blog is two years old today. Our first posting appeared on May 26, 2002.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Evaluating HINARI

Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi, HINARI: bridging the global information divide, BMJ 328, 1190-1193 (15 May 2004). Considers the success of the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI) initiative, pointing out that while one million users downloaded articles via the project in 2003, costs and reliability of internet access may hamper usage. The author also notes that not all key journals in a given field are available through HINARI. Furthermore, the article provides a map showing countries taking advantage of the project and includes suggestions for realistic goals and comparisons to similar access initiatives.

Japanese OA journal on surface science

The Surface Science Society of Japan publishes the all-electronic, open access e-Journal of Surface Science and Nanotechnology. Coverage begins with volume 1 in 2003 and volumes are archived on the J-Stage server. The journal also serves as a repository for some conferences in the field (papers published in separate issues can be accessed through one link) and will evidently publish topical collections ("virtual journals") culled from its issues. (Source: EEVL New Resources)

More on Free Culture and open content

Suw Charman, Something for Nothing: The Free Culture AudioBook Project, Chocolate and Vodka, May 24, 2004. Charman blogs a recap of Lawrence Lessig and Cory Doctorow's experiences with releasing books as free downloads under Creative Commons licenses. The derivative audio versions of Lessig's Free Culture (in multiple languages and multiple file formats) are also discussed. Of this initiative's success, Charman writes: "Given the legal right to do so, people will build upon a work in unforeseen creative ways." As for the questions of copyright and potentially lost revenue, the blogger comments:
Digitalisation and free distribution of content is not an erosion of copyright either. It's an assertion of a different sort of copyright - the right to allow the public copy freely and legally that which the author and publisher releases for such copying. It is freedom for the author to renounce the extremes of 'all rights reserved' and 'no rights reserved' and tread instead the more beneficial middle path of 'some rights reserved'.
(Source: Boing Boing)

Australian Group of Eight Statement on Open Access

Today Australia's eight leading research universities (the Group of Eight) released a Statement on open access to scholarly information. In the statement, the Group of Eight Vice-Chancellors "record their commitment to open access initiatives that will enhance global access to scholarly information for the public good." They pledge to support OA initiatives at their respective universities, to support "digital publishing practices" that provide high-quality scholarship at lower cost, and to examine their "criteria for promotion" in light of the new OA publishing models. (Though dated "April 2004", the statement was released today.)

Canadian vet jnls on PMC

PubMed Central now provides free, not Open, access to both peer-reviewed journals from CVMA-ACMV. Canadian Veterinary Journal Fulltext v43+ (2002+) ISSN: 0008-5286 Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research Fulltext v66+ (2002+) ISSN: 0830-9000

Government wants to organize its fugitive OA documents

Florence Olsen, GPO hunts fugitives, Federal Computer Week, May 20, 2004. Excerpt: "Government Printing Office officials are looking for so-called fugitive documents and plan on sending a Web crawler out to find them. As more federal agencies publish government information on Web sites without notifying GPO, important documents that should be indexed, catalogued and preserved for public access in the Federal Depository Library Program have instead become 'fugitive' documents, according to GPO officials. Their answer to the problem is to use Web crawler and data-mining technologies to find them. GPO officials request that companies with those technologies submit proposals by June 2 for services they describe as 'Web harvesting' in a recent solicitation for bids." (PS: The fugitive documents are already OA, but that's not enough to satisfy the government's responsibility to index and preserve them. I like the way this story makes clear that indexing and preservation are not parts of OA but new layers of value laid on top of OA.) (Thanks to LIS News.)

More on Carleton, Gustavus Adolphus, Macalester, and St. Olaf

Today's issue of Library Journal has an unsigned note, Four Small Minnesota Colleges Say No to the "Big Deal". Excerpt: "Barbara Fister, librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College, said that the problem goes beyond the Science Direct contract: 'We tend to demonize Elsevier to some extent, but a lot of publishers, including some scholarly societies, are also part of the problem. In general, we need to make clear to publishers that libraries aren't an endless supply of revenue. We've hit the wall.' Fishel says Macalester has increased its support of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and became members of open access publisher Public Library of Science. 'We are monitoring the open access initiative closely,' she says, noting that faculty outreach will also play a large role in bringing about much needed change."

ASIDIC focuses on OA

The Spring 2004 issue of the ASIDIC Newsletter has a special section on Open Access Publishing (pp. 9-11). The section contains three short contributions (no direct links, unfortunately):
  • Helen Doyle, Public Library of Science (PLoS): Committed to Making the World's Scientific and Medical Literature A Public Resource
  • Edwin Sequeira, PubMed Central
  • Miriam Drake, Access to Government-Funded Information

More on the launch of PLoS Medicine

Scott Allen, News from Boston's medical and scientific community, Boston Globe, May 25, 2004. On the upcoming launch of PLoS Medicine. Excerpt: "Backed by such science heavyweights as Harvard's E.O. Wilson and genetics pioneer James Watson, the San Francisco-based Public Library [of Science] aims to make the latest research available for free to the general public to foster debate, relying on grant money and a fee charged to authors for publicizing their work....Over at the New England Journal of Medicine in Waltham, editors are taking the upstart in stride, saying they plan no special efforts to fend off the challenge. 'We are interested to see the progress of this type of experiment and whether they and others can improve on the current publishing model,' said New England Journal spokeswoman Sandra Jacobs. But the New England Journal, JAMA and Britain's Lancet have drawn one line in the sand: They all turned down PLoS's request for an ad soliciting scientific papers."

Open source search interface to Project Gutenberg

Mazarin enables one to search both title and author or full text of Project Gutenberg's more than 10,000 books. (Source: Slashdot)

Monday, May 24, 2004

Publisher offers backward OA

Richard C. Flagan and Philip Hopke, Open access to the Aerosol Science and Technology archive, Aerosol Science and Technology 38(2), iii (2004). Flagan and Hopke announce that their journal will offer an open-access moving wall, in that content older than two years will be freely available on the journal's web site. The following year another volume will be freed up, and so on. Aerosol Science and Technology is published by Taylor and Francis for the American Association for Aerosol Research; the latter evidently negotiated the partial open-access policy, recognizing "that researchers need to share their results with the society that provided the funding to perform the research."

Interoperability between libraries and learning environments

Neil McLean and Clifford Lynch, Interoperability between Library Information Services and Learning Environments – Bridging the Gaps, IMS Global Learning Consortium and the Coalition for Networked Information, May 10, 2004. Excerpt: "The primary purpose of this paper is to explore potential interactions between information environments and learning environments, with emphasis on work that needs to be done involving standards, architectural modelling or interfaces (as opposed to cultural, organizational or practice questions) in order to permit these two worlds to co-exist and co-evolve more productively. The emphasis is to map a large amount of territory from a relatively high and thus necessarily superficial level, identifying questions and framing issues, and in some cases suggesting avenues forward. Our hope is to open a dialog both with the global library communities in higher education and between these communities and the communities involved in instructional technologies and management. A secondary but important purpose of this paper is to position this dialog within the context of the IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS) specifications activities as a means of both facilitating the discussion and building on existing standards efforts; in this sense, we construct at least one view of the questions as addressing the positioning of library information services within emerging e-learning environments."

More on 2.0

Paula Hane, 2.0 Launches with New Relevance Ranking Technology, Information Today, May 24, 2004. Excerpt: " has served as the gateway to reliable information about science and technology from across Federal government organizations since its launch in December 2002. Now, the interagency alliance has launched 2.0, hailing it the 'next major step in government science information retrieval.' The new site offers additional content, technological enhancements, and a newly-developed relevancy ranking technology that helps patrons get to the best documents quickly. 2.0 lets users search across 30 databases from 12 government science agencies (up from 10 agencies in version 1.0), as well as across 1,700 Web sites—that’s 47 million pages, with results presented in relevancy ranked order. Use of the site remains free with no registration required."

Five OA favorites

Stephen Wildstrom, Quick Fixes for Web Info-Junkies, Business Week, May 31, 2004. Some of Wildstrom's favorite OA sites, including five in math and science: Mathworld (Wolfram), Scienceworld (Wolfram), MathSciNet (American Mathematical Society), arXiv (Cornell and NSF), and the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences (Neil Sloane, AT&T).

Publishing for accessibility

The presentations from the TSO workshop, Publishing for Accessibility (London, April 28, 2004) are now online.

PNAS offers OA option

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has introduced an OA option for authors. Quoting today's press release: "PNAS authors may opt to pay a $1000 surcharge to make their articles available for free via PNAS Online and PubMed Central immediately upon publication. PNAS will offer this open access option as an experiment until December 31, 2005. PNAS will then continue to move toward an author-pays open access model, maintain the option in the same or modified form, or discontinue it. By introducing this option, PNAS strengthens its commitment to making the scientific literature more freely available than ever before, and hopes that its support of open access will encourage other scientific publishers to follow suit. PNAS will evaluate author participation and the financial impact of the open access option on PNAS revenue. 'The benefits to science of unfettered access to the literature are obvious,' says Nicholas R. Cozzarelli, PNAS Editor-in-Chief....'The challenge of open access is how to pay for it.' "