Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Transformation of GPO focuses on electronic public access

Government Printing Office, Actions to Strengthen and Sustain GPO's Transformation, June 30, 2004. Excerpt (pp. 28-29): "Over the past year, the Public Printer has spoken with employees, stakeholders, and the Congress to help focus and refine a vision for GPO's future. On April 28, 2004, the Public Printer made his most clear and direct statement of his vision for GPO thus far, stating that GPO has 'begun to develop a new vision for the GPO: an agency whose primary mission will be to capture digitally, organize, maintain, authenticate, distribute, and provide permanent public access to the information products and services of the federal government.' "

Another contribution to the Nature OA debate

Mark McCabe and Christopher Snyder, The best business model for scholarly journals: an economist's perspective, Nature, July 16, 2004. Excerpt: "On one side of the market, authors benefit from greater impact and citations and thus prefer a journal that has more readers. On the other side of the market, readers benefit from content and thus prefer journals with more articles. Determining the optimal balance between these two sets of players involves measuring the benefits that each side obtains from greater or lesser participation by the other side, calculating the costs of adding (or subtracting) authors and readers, and then identifying the set of prices, i.e. the author fee and subscription price, that maximizes overall net benefits. Preliminary analysis of this problem suggests that optimal prices will differ depending on the degree of competition in the market for journals. At one extreme --a monopoly journal-- prices chosen by a profit-maximizing journal will typically be positive for both authors and readers, even if distribution costs are assumed to be zero....At the other extreme --perfect competition between equal-quality journals-- a continuum of equilibriums are possible, some of which favour readers and some of which favour authors, often including Open-Access as an equilibrium."

Rank government docs for OA

The US Government Printing Office (GPO) has compiled a list of print and microfiche government documents slated for digitization and open access. The GPO is now soliciting public comments to help put the list into priority order. Comments are due July 23. (Thanks to LIS News.)

At ALA meeting, sparks fly over OA

Open Access? Some Sparks Fly at ALA, a short unsigned news story in the July 6 Library Journal. Excerpt: "On June 27, the day after the New York Times ran a major story on the trend toward open access in STM publishing and the dismay of some librarians toward publisher Elsevier, a panel met at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Orlando --and some sparks flew. 'The whole debate has been turned into David versus Goliath,' declared Arie Jongejan, CEO Elsevier Science & Technology, the Goliath in this market. 'Parties like the Wellcome Trust [a supporter of open access] are not talking about coexistence.' "

More on CrossRef search

Cara Branigan, New search service creates 'Google for scholars', eSchool News, July 1, 2004. Excerpt: "Internet searches might become faster and more fruitful for students, scholars, and other academics as early as this year, thanks to a new pilot program being developed as a free service spearheaded by Google, the world's leading internet search engine. The initiative, called CrossRef Search, combines Google's popular search technology with the archives of up to 300 leading scholarly publications, allowing researchers to separate Google's typical search results from high-quality, peer-reviewed, scholarly content."

Access benefits of mod_oai

Phillip Long, Infectious Adoption, Syllabus Magazine, July 3, 2004. The first article I've seen on mod_oai, the tool by Michael Nelson and Herbert Van de Sompel to extend the reach of the OAI-MHP from the comparatively small body of content archived in OAI-compliant archives to the huge body of content streaming through Apache web servers. Excerpt: With mod_oai virally distributed as an Apache module "[l]arge amounts of data stored in digital repositories can then be found by students or faculty from their Web browsers, with minimal implementation overhead. What might this enable? From the browser of your choice you might be able to find articles, research reports, images of paintings from the Renaissance, or sound files of Woody Guthrieís original performances collected from the federated digital repositories of libraries around the Internet. All of this depends upon the continued hard work of creating the metadata that describes these resources, which librarians and information professionals are doing every day. They need more support for their valuable efforts, making what has been done accessible and useful reinforcing the value of this work and the ability for deep resources to surface."

Draft CURL position paper on OA repositories

The July issue of CURLnews reports that on May 14 the CURL Task force on the Research Libraries Network finished the first draft of a CURL position paper identifying "areas of CURL activity that might have synergy with the goals of the RLN. These areas access repositories." Apparently the draft is not yet available to the public.

A society publisher defends itself against criticism

Peter Farnham and William Brinkley, Society Publishers Provide More Than Open Access, The Scientist, July 5, 2004. A response from the standpoint of progressive society publishers, especially the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), to PLoS criticism. Excerpt: "[S]ince 2001, a major group advocating the 'author-pays' model, the Public Library of Science (PLoS), has launched a broad-based attack on all business models for scientific publication other than its own....PLoS claims that charges greater than its own fees for publication are excessive....PLoS grants unrestricted free distribution rights to its journal content; however, it has no mechanism to insure the integrity of the record." (PS: ASBMB does a better job defending its various forms of free access than in rebutting the criticism that is hasn't gone further. PLoS has criticized non-OA publishers, but it hasn't criticized business models other than its own that find other ways to pay for OA. If the basic PLoS criticism is that the good works that society publishers fund with their journal revenue do not justify access barriers to their journals, then ASBMB has not yet answered the criticism.)

Swets includes OA journals from BMC

Swets Information Services has started to include BioMed Central's OA journals in its collection. Quoting Natasha Robshaw, head of BioMed Central's Marketing and Sales department, in yesterday's press release: "We are delighted that our journals will now be included in SwetsWise Online Content. Though our research content is freely available from our website, PubMed Central and other archives, this will provide Swets' subscribers with an easy way to find and download relevant research in our journals." (PS: The press release is new, but we blogged essentially the same news on February 12, 2004.)

New institutional repository at Curtin University of Technology

The Curtin University of Technology has launched an open-access OAI-compliant institutional repository. It has an excellent series of accompanying pages to explain the concept to faculty and administrators. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Springer's Open Choice program

Springer has launched Open Choice, a program to offer free online access by the article, at the author's choice. To exercise the option, authors or their funding agencies must pay a processing fee of $3,000 US, in addition to any page charges that may apply e.g. for color or extra length. Open-choice articles will receive the same peer review, production, and indexing, as non-open articles, and will appear in both the print and online editions of the journal. However, for Springer "open" only means no-fee access. Springer will hold the copyright and the only copying it will permit is for authors to put their own versions of the postprints in institutional repositories. Springer will decrease or increase its journal prices to match the amount of non-open content published in the previous year. If enough authors take advantage of Open Choice, then, subscription prices will go down. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Friday, July 02, 2004

Environmental Chemistry - first issue released

Environmental Chemistry, a fledgling journal from Australia's CSIRO, has released its first issue. As I mentioned in April, this is a new, free for 2004, journal from an historically reasonably priced publisher. The editorial board is diverse and spans the globe, including Nobel Prize winners Mario Molina and Sherwood Rowland. Environmental Chemistry - Fulltext v1+ (2004+); ISSN: 1448-2517

PubMed Central completes microbiology set

PubMed Central has completed the digitization of the complete run of Microbiology & Molecular Biology Reviews and its predecessors, Microbiological Reviews and Bacteriological Reviews. I learned of this development through Carole Myers, courtesy of the PMC-News mailing list. This is another significant step in the NLM's backfile digitization project. As noted by Gary Price in the ResourceShelf, there are additional journals to be digitized and deposited with PubMed Central, with funding from the Wellcome Trust and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). A preliminary list of journals for digitizing has been posted at the Wellcome Trust Library website. Microbiology & Molecular Biology Reviews - Fulltext v61+ (1997+) 1 year moving wall; Print ISSN: 1092-2172 | Online ISSN: 1098-5557 Microbiological Reviews - Fulltext v42-60 (1978-1996). Continued by Microbiology & Molecular Biology Reviews. Continues Bacteriological Reviews; ISSN: 0146-0749 Bacteriological Reviews - Fulltext v1-41 (1937-1977). Continued by Microbiological Reviews; ISSN: 0005-3678

OA news from Springer threatens Elsevier

Nick Hasell, Reed Elsevier, Wm Morrison, BAA, Exel, BOC Group, Times Online, July 3, 2004. Excerpt: "Reed Elsevier retreated further from last month's 12-month high as the spectre of 'open access' scientific publishing returned to weigh on the shares. Under this model, pioneered by US academic journals, content is provided free to the user and funded by the author, who is usually sponsored. This is a direct inversion of the traditional relationship, whereby an author contributes their research freely, with users paying for the content through subscriptions. But the tide appeared to be turning in favour of 'open access' after Springer, the German group, the world's second-largest academic publisher behind Reed, said it plans to offer scientific research through the model. Springer said it expects 10 per cent of publications to shift to open access, against the 1 per cent of articles that are currently offered through such platforms. Reed has previously said it expects that penetration to be limited to 4 to 5 per cent. Analysts suggested Reed may now be forced to follow Springer's more aggressive stance, possibly threatening the long-term growth of its scientific and medical division, which accounts for 29 per cent of revenues by 40 per cent of earnings. With the EU also looking at the prices charged by academic publishers, and a House of Commons report on scientific publishing due within weeks, Reed shed 6 1/2 p at 523p."

July issue of SOAN

I just mailed the July issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. In addition to the usual round-up of news from the past month, it takes a second look at the Elsevier policy on postprint archiving and some of the controversies that have already grown up around it.

New OA policy at Pediatrics

Michael Clarke, Open Sesame? Increasing Access to Medical Literature, Pediatrics, July 2004. An editorial announcing the journal's new OA policy. Excerpt: "Beginning in July 2004, however, Pediatrics will allow the authors of any accepted manuscript to elect to have their article published in the Electronic Pages [the journal's OA subset, formerly limited to editor-selected articles, OA since 1997]. Their article will be freely accessible on the journalís Web site immediately upon publication and they will pay no author fees. In addition to the content in the Electronic Pages, all policy statements, clinical reports, clinical practice guidelines, and technical reports of the Academy are made freely available the moment they are published. Furthermore, beginning in July 2004, access to all articles published in Pediatrics will be free 1 year after publication."

Three quick comments. (1) We learn another important detail about the new Pediatrics OA policy from Greg McConnell's article in yesterday's issue of American Academy of Pediatrics News. Authors who choose OA pay no fees, but their articles will not appear in the print edition of the journal. (2) Pediatrics is published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has signed the DC Principles. (3) Clarke's editorial misunderstands OA on one point. He assumes that OA is a business model. It isn't; it's a form of online access compatible with many different business models. Because he rejects the (misnamed) "author pays" business model, he thinks he's rejecting OA. He's not. When authors choose the new option offered by Pediatrics, the journal will provide true OA to those articles. I congratulate Pediatrics for offering this form of OA and for finding a way to do it without charging processing fees. I just hope that it starts to appreciate that the goal of OA can be reached by many different paths.

Two psychology journals open backfiles

Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, both published by the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, have recently released their fulltext backfiles, from mid-1996 through 2001. Future volumes are to be released for free access annually, maintaining approximately a two year lag. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis - Fulltext v29(3)-34 (Fall 1996-2001); Selected fulltext v28+ (1995+); ISSN: 0021-8855. ISI Total Citations in 2002: 2,015; Impact Factor: 1.105 Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior - Fulltext v66-76 (July 1996-2001); Selected fulltext v63+ (1995+); ISSN: 0022-5002. ISI Total Citations in 2002: 2,111; Impact Factor: 1.579 Thanks to Victor Laties, University of Rochester, executive editor of JEAB.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Effect of OA on scholarly communities?

Mentor Cana, A shift in scholarly attention? From commercial publishing to open access publishing, Infosophy, July 1, 2004. Excerpt:
In the process of the inevitable move from commercial publishing to open access, undoubtfully the entire dynamic of the publishing process will change. But change is not bad. A lot of realignments will occur. The moment established scholars start publishing in open access publications, the tide will turn.

Or, if there is resistance, a shift in the problems addressed by a certain filed or a discipline might occur towards those addressed in the open access journals due to their wider distribution and open access. It would appear then that the move towards open access publishing might even realign the types of problems addressed by a certain scholarly community.

Value of an OA article

Once upon a time, folk wisdom, and Cervantes, held that "a man's word is his bond." This evolved(?) into, "a verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on." The recent Parliamentary inquiry into Open Access and STM publishing, and documented in Open Access News, had proponents on both sides of an Open Access variation on that theme -- notably, those who contended that Open Access journals/articles were of profoundly dubious quality. As one who still believes in the value of a promise, I'd like to call attention to evidence, not just supposition, of the value and validity of, at least one, OA article. Microarray results: how accurate are they?. Kothapalli R, Yoder SJ, Mane S, Loughran TP. BMC BIOINFORMATICS 3: art. no. 22 2002 Currently cited 23 times in Web of Science, it was designated a 'New Hot Paper' by ISI's Essential Science Indicators service. To my surprise, the topic under which it appears as a New Hot Paper is Computer Science. New Hot Paper Comments, By Ravi Kothapalli. ESI Special Topics, May 2004 I remembered having seen a news item about the New Hot Paper designation at BioMed Central when I came across a citation in the bibliography of a current article in Plant Cell by a Caltech biologist. P.S. Plant Cell employs a 12 month embargo. HighWire edition and PubMed Central edition versions of the article which attracted my attention will be freely available in May 2005.

Will publishers add OA to their diet?

Damon Brown, Open-Access Journals Offer a New Way of Publishing, Journal of the American Dietetic Association 104, 1060-1062 (July 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) Damon gives an overview of the basics of open access publishing. In a section pondering challenges faced by OA he includes some comments from David J. Lipman, director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), who points out that author fees could easily be accomodated in research grants, representing a small portion of the average grant. Damon also writes that PLoS Medicine editor Barbara Cohen "believes that OA will actually widen the potential for excellent papers as well as research because of easier worldwide access and availability." At the same time, the article includes considerable remarks from skeptics of OA, including Alan I. Leshner of Science magazine, who maintains that $1500 wouldn't come close to covering costs of publishing an article, and that he doesn't see sustainable business models among OA journals: "The ultimate model will be different from both the author-pay model and the reader-pay model. It will be one model that combines them in some way. I just don't know what it will be."

Review and overlay of economics papers on the net

NAJ Economics: Peer Reviews of Economics Publications provides review abstracts to papers that have appeared freely on the web but have not yet been published in a journal (hence the acronym NAJ, not a journal.) Each citation contains a link to the paper and a link to a cached copy. (Source: My Computational Complexity Weblog)

Alternatives to OA

Greg McConnell, Online journals seek alternatives to open access, American Academy of Pediatrics News, 25, 14 (2004). The text is accessible only to subscribers, so I can't summarize it.

Update. The article is now (7/2/04) OA at the same URL. Perhaps it was just embargoed for a day. Excerpt: "With Pediatrics' current business model, all electronic articles are freely available after a year and some are freely available immediately. Also, beginning this month, Pediatrics will experiment with allowing authors to decide if they want their article to be published online for free. If an author chooses this free option, the only 'cost' to the author will be that the article won't appear in the print journal." (PS: This is a new OA option. When other journals offer OA by the article, at the author's choice, they charge a processing fee. Pediatrics' has the plus of no fee and the minus of no publication in the print edition. Definitely worth watching.)

Report on OAI workshop

Gerard McKiernan, Gaining Independence with e-Print Archives and OAI: Report on the 2nd. Workshop on the Open Archives Initiative, October 17-19, 2002, Journal of Internet Cataloging, June 30, 2004. The text is accessible only subscribers, at least so far.

Update. Gerry has posted an OA edition of his article to his university server. He's also posted his News of the Field column from the same issue of the same journal, which contains program notes on four other OA-related conferences and profiles of nine recent OA initiatives.

Thomas Walker presents entomological societies approach to OA

Thomas Walker, Two Routes to Open Access. Powerpoint slides for a talk given at the American Library Association conference, June 26, 2004. Explanatory notes are included in .pdf. Walker's talk recaps how the Florida Entomological Society and the Entomological Society of America moved towards open access publishing; the former made all its papers freely available on the web and only recently instituted author charges, while the latter provided open access by the article through author payments. Neither saw a precipitous decline in subscriptions, and have (as Peter Suber points out) come up with a sustainable business models that recover costs. Walker maintains a website, Web Access to Traditionally Published Journals, which lists a number of useful references about open access, with a section particular to the entomological societies. (Source: the (sci-tech) Library Question)

JISC and SURF combine to help authors understand copyright and OA

JISC and SURF are joining forces to help scholars understand their rights under copyright law and how to use them to their advantage. From JISC's press release, dated today: "The dissemination of scientific information by digital means such as the Internet is a growing trend. It is also expanding possibilities for making information widely accessible at reasonable costs. Present copyright practice, however, often poses obstacles to taking the best possible advantage of such possibilities. To place this issue on the international agenda and to provide practical guidelines to institutions of higher education the JISC and SURF, its counterpart in the Netherlands, have decided to combine forces, budgeting £100,000 (EUR 150,000) for a joint project....The project comprises five parts and will run for a year....[In the fifth part of the project] an analysis will be made of copyright aspects in the Netherlands and United Kingdom with regard to 'Open Access': i.e. the free availability of scientific information over the Internet."

Searching large collections

The August 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology is devoted to Document Search Interface Design for Large-Scale Collections. Only the TOC and abstracts are free online to non-subscribers.

Call for OA to rare Jewish documents recovered in Iraq

Eric Greenberg, Fate of Rare Document Trove Remains Unclear as Iraq Regime Takes Charge, Forward, July 2, 2004. Excerpt: "With political authority in Iraq now formally turned over to a fledgling local government, the fate of a cache of rare and historic Jewish documents rescued by American soldiers from destruction in Baghdad remains up in the air....Pearl Berger, outgoing president of the Association of Jewish Librarians and dean of libraries at Yeshiva University, called for open access to the Iraqi Jewish collection and said that the damaged texts must be restored and preserved both physically and digitally. 'We trust that the unique and rare documents, especially records of the Jewish community, will be preserved and made available to the widest possible audience for consultation and research,' she said."

Banking on biobanks

Hans-E Hagen & Jan Carlstedt-Duke, Building global networks for human diseases: genes and populations, Nature Medicine 10, 665 - 667 (2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) The authors describe a recent research forum where participants explored "examples of national networks for the genetic study of human disease and at the potential for future collaborations between scientists in North America and Europe with science communities elsewhere, particularly in developing and restructuring countries." Specific databanks ("biobanks") And their scope are highlighted and the utility of increased data sharing is advocated, while Hagen and Carlstedt-Duke also consider issues of public funding, commercial interests and intellectual property.

Let your users search the DOAJ

The OA journal, Neurobiology of Lipids (NoL), has added an article-level search box for the Directory of Open Access Journals to the NoL web site. The search box defaults to searching NoL, but also enables users to search the other OA journals participating in the DOAJ's article-level search program. Kudos to Alexei Koudinov, the NoL editor, for this useful innovation. (PS: This is an excellent way for OA journals to help their users and promote OA at the same time.)

Update. NoL has now added a PubMed Central search box to the same page.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Homology, Homotopy and Applications (HHA) joins Euclid Prime

HHA originates from the A. Razmadze Institute of Mathematical Sciences, which is under the auspices of the Georgian Academy of Sciences and Tbilisi State University. HHA is mirrored and freely accessible from the University of Wales, Bangor; Rutgers University; McQuarie University; and by EMIS - European Mathematical Information Service.
Homology, Homotopy and Applications (HHA) is a fully refereed international journal dealing with homology and homotopy in algebra and topology and their applications to the mathematical sciences.
Print editions are produced by International Press of Boston. International Press and Project Euclid are cooperating to provide HHA in the Euclid Prime subscription package. Inclusion in Project Euclid increases the visibility of the journal and brings it into the cross-journal fulltext search platform for the Euclid collection. Homology, Homotopy & Applications Fulltext v5(2)+ (December 2003+) from Project Euclid Fulltext v1+ (1999+) from EMIS ISSN: 1512-0139

More on the Burdman article in the NYTimes

Cynthia Lan, Open Access Publishing Continues to Stir Debate, AAAS SIPPI, June 28, 2004. A summary of Pamela Burdman's June 26 article in the New York Times. Excerpt from Lan's summary: "Some critics of open access publishing agree with the motivation behind open access, but are wary of completely abandoning the traditional business model of publishing....Whatever the eventual outcome, the pressure towards open access publishing is beginning to have an impact on traditional publishers. A few well-respected publications are seriously considering adopting an open access model of publication, and even Elsevier, the world's largest academic publisher, is allowing academics to post papers that have been accepted for publication on their own institutions' web sites."

Recent issue of Science & Technology Libraries

It looks like I forgot to blog the OA-related articles from the combined 1-2 issue of vol. 24 (2004) of Science & Technology Libraries. Only the abstracts are free online to non-subscribers, at least so far.

The shared future of Eprints software

The presentations from the invitation-only conference, Putting Eprints Software into the User Community (London, June 23, 2004), are now online.

More on OA to environmental data

Dora Ann Lange Canhos, Paul F. Uhlir, and Julie M. Esanu (eds.), Access to Environmental Data: Summary of an Inter-American Workshop, 4-6 March 2004 Campinas, Sao Paolo, Brazil, CODATA (undated but apparently released June 30, 2004). Excerpt: "Scientists in many Latin American countries already have significant capabilities and data resources that would be of benefit to North American researchers through increased collaboration. Latin American researchers similarly would be afforded new or enhanced capacity-building opportunities and greater exposure to North American data management principles and know-how of direct relevance to their activities. The primary focus of the workshop, therefore, was on access to environmental data, which is a topic not adequately addressed from a scientific and technical data management and data policy perspective....The workshop participants recommend that all nations in the Americas participate in global and regional cross-boundary sharing efforts for environmental and geospatial data....Participants recognised the importance of access to environmental data and the impact of data access policies on environmental research. The workshop participants recommended that current environmental data access policies in the Latin American region be identified and documented for distribution to interested parties, with the long-term objective of providing information to identify issues and to help develop amendments to such policies that may be needed to promote access to environmental data."

Elsevier sounds the alarm

Richard Wray, Open access jeopardises academic publishers, Reed chief warns, The Guardian, June 30, 2004. Excerpt: "The rise of open access publishing of scientific research could jeopardise the entire academic publishing industry, according to the chief executive of Reed Elsevier, the world's largest publisher of scientific journals. Writing in the company's in-house Review newsletter, Sir Crispin Davis warned that asking researchers to pay for their work to be published but then making it freely available on the internet 'could jeopardise the stable, scalable and affordable system of publishing that currently exists." (PS: Unfortunately the current system is not stable, scalable, or affordable.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Enhancements to

Joab Jackson, 2.0 plumbs depths of federal data, Government Computer News, June 29, 2004. Excerpt: "The 2-year-old portal now can reach 47 million agency pages as well as databases, drilling down into what researchers call 'the deep Web.' 2.0, which went live last month, takes a further step toward unifying the presentation of hits found by the portal's Distributed Explorit engine. The original portal could only group the results according to the databases from which they came. Version 2.0 presents the hits in one set, ordered by their usefulness to the searcher....[S]cientific users have particular search needs that cannot be met by a commercial engine. They generally look for a set of documents, not a single page, and often they want all the material that exists about a topic. A search term such as 'pesticides' spans agency research at the Agriculture Department, NASA, the Navy and other agencies not ordinarily associated with pesticides, said Eleanor Frierson, who co-chairs the Alliance and is deputy director of the National Agricultural Library. Furthermore, commercial search engines do not index databases, where most scientific papers are stored. So researchers until now have had to go from agency site to agency site, hunting down relevant information....The alliance continues to recruit agencies for The portal has pointers to an estimated 90 percent of government research, but some areas remain untouched. An agency interested in joining the alliance has to pay $7,500 per year and ensure that its own content is ready for searching."

Putting more escholarship where students are looking for it

Columbia Study: University Students Gravitate to Electronic Resources, a short, unsigned news story in today's Library Journal. Excerpt: "The issue, ultimately, is getting search engines to be able to access deeper collections, as new projects by Yahoo and Google emerge. 'We'll see the current generation we accuse of doing research in their pajamas develop highly sophisticated searching strategies to find high quality information on the web,' Abby Smith, director of programs at the Council on Library and Information Resources, told the Times. 'It's this transition period we're in, when not all high-quality information is available on the web--that's what we lament.' "

More on the JISC-Wellcome OA journal archive

Richard Wray, Wellcome's £1.25m plan boosts open access, The Guardian, January 29, 2004. More on the Medical Journals Backfiles Digitization Project, which Wellcome is sponsoring with JISC and the NLM (blogged here yesterday). Excerpt: "With £1.25m of funding, [JISC and Wellcome] have persuaded several publishers, including Reed's rival Wolters Kluwer and privately owned Blackwell's, to hand over the archives to some of their most historically important medical journals. Robert Kiley, head of systems strategy at the Wellcome Library...explained that, as well as placing back issues of journals on the web for everyone to access, several publishers have agreed to make future issues freely available after a set period of time. 'We recognise that publishers still have to sell their journals,' he said. 'But we do not want this to be a static archive.' All research papers published in participating journals should be freely available on the internet within a year of publication, with other journal content freely available within three years."

Monday, June 28, 2004

New OA journal

The Boston College Libraries and the Council for Exceptional Children are launching an open-access journal, Teaching Exceptional Children Plus, to start publishing in September. (Thanks to Michelle Baildon.)

Another editor skeptical of OA

Jim Thornton, 'Free' peer-review publishing, BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 111, 515-516 (2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) Thornton does not see open access publishing as viable. Among his criticisms are: "It is not automatic that funding journals from advertisers rather than subscriptions will raise standards. We already have plenty of advertising-funded journals ... They rarely publish the best research." The editor also has low regard for author payment models, comparing this mode of publishing to a "vanity press." He has many questions for models based on government funding, particularly the worry that it would prejudice publishing towards government-supported research. Then Thornton makes a statement that causes one to wonder how closely he has been following scholarly publishing issues: "Publishers' profits are often claimed to be excessive, but it is difficult to see why. The business is fiercely competitive and publishers can always be undercut by established competitors or new entrants. Barriers to entry are low, as evidenced by the hundreds of small independent and university based concerns." Thornton goes on to remind readers that publishing isn't free, but it seems he does his readers a disservice by lumping together free access and open access. As Peter Suber has said many times on this forum, OA doesn't claim to be free but open.

British Web Archiving Project

A project from a consoritium featuring the British Library and others will archive more than 6000 web sites, Ingrid Marson reports in British Library plans to archive whole UK Web, ZDNet UK, June 24, 2004. (Source: The Virtual Chase) Evidently the archive will include discussion forums, weblogs and "informal material," along with government documents. "One of the problems faced by the consortium is that, due to UK copyright law, permission is needed before a site can be archived. The British Library is working with the government to extend the law to allow them blanket access to all Web sites ..." From another article by Marston, Saving Shakespeare's Blog, CNet, Juen 24, 2004, we learn that a "First Folio of Shakespeare, two Gutenberg Bibles and the scribbled lyrics to 'I Want to Hold Your Hand,'" are among the materials under consideration for archiving. (Source:LIS News)

More on OA to drug-trial data

Victoria Stagg Elliott, Drug controversies prompt call for clinical trial registry, American Medical News, July 5, 2004. Excerpt: "Clinical trial registries are not a new concept. More than 300 exist. The largest, run by the National Institutes of Health, is available online....Advocates say the sheer number of registries makes the process of finding trials too cumbersome for patients and scientists alike. And many trials aren't registered anywhere. Also, no repositories include unpublished data resulting from trials....There is significant concern, however, about making unpublished data, which have not yet gone through the peer-review process, more publicly available....While scientists are worried about how lay people would interpret such information, pharmaceutical companies are worried about another angle -- trade secrets....Still, advocates say that much of the information companies are seeking to protect is already out there. A universal trial registry would simply make it easier to find. Such a repository would also make companies less likely to be accused of hiding things."

Major project to provide OA to historic medical journals

JISC, the Wellcome Trust, and the U.S. National Library of Medicine are joining forces to digitize 1.7 million pages of historically sigificant medical journals for OA distribution on PubMed Central. For details see today's press release from JISC, the home page of the Medical Journals Backfiles Digitization Project, or the project FAQ.

More on OA to publicly-funded weather data

The National Weather Service has proposed OA to the weather data collected at taxpayer expense. According to a new Slashdot posting, Accuweather president Barry Myers is trying to mobilize the private weather forecasting industry to block the new policy and force the government to charge the public for access to its data and tools. Please comment on the new policy (by email or web form) before the June 30 deadline; the opponents of OA will be doing so.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

OA initiatives in India

Raja Simhan, Take it, it's free, The Hindu Business Line, June 28, 2004. An overview of OA, especially in India, based on interviews with Leslie Chan, Leslie Carr, and Subbiah Arunachalam. Excerpt: "While even well endowed institutions in developed countries find it difficult to retain journal subscriptions, the situation in developing countries, including India, is worse. Besides, researchers in the rest of the world do not really read much of the work that Indians do. Further, if Indian scientists publish their papers in expensive journals, even their Indian colleagues do not read them, as not many institutions in the country subscribe to these costly journals, says a scientist....Open Archiving will help developing country scientists by making their work instantly available to the rest of the world's scientists. Easy availability will lead to greater use, and more citations, visibility and prestige. The idea of open access is yet to pick up in India, and a few more institutions are now trying to set up open access servers." (PS: This article's heart is in the right place. But it makes some elementary errors not attributable to Leslie, Les, or Arun, such as understating STM journal prices by more than an order of magnitude and confusing OA with OAI and OAIster. But look past them because they don't affect the picture of OA initiatives in India and the needs they will serve.)

The self-archiving initiative 10 years later

Stevan Harnad, The 1994 'Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing' at 10. A note cross-posted to several OA-related lists on the 10th anniversary of Harnad's first posting on what he later called self-archiving. Excerpt: "[S]o 'subversion' too misses the mark: The objective of OA is not to subvert or reform the publication system (either toward online-only or toward OA publishing). It is to maximise research impact by maximising research access, right now: To put an end to all further needless research impact loss, once and for all, at last."

July Learned Publishing

The July issue of Learned Publishing is now online. Here are the OA-related articles. Only abstracts are free online to non-subscribers, at least so far.