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Michael Kenward, The Web that changed the world, Scientific Computing World, May/June 2004. In a one-page reflection on what the web has done for science in its 10 years of existence, Kenward gives half his space to open access. He briefly covers the New Journal of Physics, the Public Library of Science, the UK inquiry, and Google indexing of CrossRef. (PS: It's a nice question. If you had only one page to summarize what the web has done for science in its 10 year life to date, how much space would you give to open access?)
Yesterday was the last day of Global PR Blog Week 1.0 (July 12-16). In summarizing the discussions and activities of the week, Constantin Basturea blogged a note in which he wonders how the success of the OA movement will change life for PR professionals. Part of the "New PR", he argues, will be ask authors (both scholarly and non-scholarly authors, apparently) to provide OA to their articles through self-archiving.
Shankar Vedantam, WHO Wants to Start Drug Trial Registry, Washington Post, July 8, 2004. Excerpt: "The World Health Organization wants to establish an international registry of drug trials to ensure that the public finds out when medications do not work, as well as when they do, officials said yesterday. Pressure has been growing on pharmaceutical companies to fully disclose details of all clinical trials, not just those that support the use of their products. WHO officials said an international database, which would be modeled on registries in the United States and other countries, will be proposed to national health ministers at a meeting in November."
Ronald Phillips and three co-authors, Intellectual Property Rights and the Public Good, The Scientist, July 19, 2004. Excerpt: "For developing countries, access to new products, particularly drugs and seeds, is often a question of life and death. The market power inherent in intellectual property may restrict access by poorer consumers. Furthermore, coordination problems and the transaction costs involved in negotiating terms of access to patented innovations invariably raise the cost of producing and distributing inventions in developing nations. One example is 'golden rice,' which is enhanced for beta carotene (provitamin A). It provides hope for alleviating the severe vitamin A deficiency that causes blindness in a half-million children every year. Extensive patenting has hampered delivery of this rice to those in need; forty organizations hold 72 patents on the technology underlying its production. Problems with access to golden rice and essential medicines have stimulated debate on the obligations of American universities to facilitate the provision of goods for the public benefit. A recent symposium at the University of Minnesota addressed this question."
Tracey Brown et al., Peer Review and the acceptance of new scientific ideas, Sence About Science, June 24, 2004. A thorough exploration of peer review, particularly to help the public understand the process and learn to ask the right questions about controversial research results. For brief overviews, see the publisher's announcement and press release. The report endorses open access in several ways. For example, when "commercially generated scientific findings" must be disclosed prior to peer review, e.g. to prevent insider trading, then they should be accompanied by open-access data files to help researchers assess the reported findings (pp. xii, 28). OA journals may change the way they manage peer review but will not change the principle of peer review (p. 21). Self-archiving has created a new outlet for peer-reviewed articles (pp. 21-22). "Open Access may even increase the extent to which science is self-corrective because all qualified experts will be able to access all published papers" (p. 22).
Marla Misek, HighWire Press: Keeping the Scholars in Scholarly Publishing, EContent, July 1, 2004. Excerpt: "The goals of [Highwire Press], which today serves roughly 150 client publishers, were twofold: 'to improve the delivery of scientific research articles through the Web and to help reputable, small- to medium-sized scholarly publishers make the transition to the online environment both efficiently and economically.' Nine years later, the urgency of these goals is palpable. 'The basic problem set is unchanged,' [Michael] Keller laments. 'The aggressive consolidation of journals into a very small group of for-profit publishers, the unjustifiable pricing policies of certain publishers, the inefficiency and inadequacy of small-scale Web publishing efforts for professional journals, the inefficiency of editorial processes, the delays in publishing results, and the gross inadequacy of library acquisition budgets to maintain subscription levels in a hyper-inflated and expanding market' all fuel HighWire's mission....No matter how you slice it, 'there is an urgent, dramatic, critical struggle under way,' he says, 'between the needs of the academy and the dynamics of leveraged greed which controls scholarly publishing.' "
The Ibero-American Science & Technology Education Consortium (ISTEC) and its Digital Library Linkages initiative (DLL) have released a public statement on Open Access to scholarship and research in Latin America:
We, the members of the ISTEC Digital Library Linkages initiative, acknowledge the power of Open Access to make research and scholarly information more affordable and stimulate innovation, research, and economic development. Therefore, we vote to encourage all Brazilian research funding agencies, IBICT, and University administrations to study open access and implement policies that would encourage systems based on the principles of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access. Of special importance is ensuring that government funded research reach the public domain within a year after publication. We also believe that this is a fitting and symbolic celebration of the 50th Anniversary of IBICT.
The statement was drafted by participants in the Second International Symposium on Digital Libraries (Campinas, Brazil, May 17-21, 2004). IBICT is the Brasileiro de Informação em Ciência e Tecnologia. One result of the symposium is that ISTEC will soon sign the Berlin Declaration. For more details see the press release or our June 16 blog posting.
Oxford University Press punishes publication in Nucleic Acids Research A blog posting in medinfo weblog critiques the OUP policy for the NAR journal, pointing out that smaller institutions with fewer publications in the journal will save money on subscription costs, but larger institutions with more publications will pay increasingly higher fees.
Adam Penenberg, Searching for the New York Times, July 14, 2004. The visibility of NYT is reduced by its low ranking in Google. This in turn is due to its required registration and toll-access back-run. "It's not like the Times reaps a whole lot from its Web archive. The archive accounts for only 2 to 3 percent of the profit for its digital division....In fact, New York Times Digital earns most of its money from a pre-existing agreement with Lexis-Nexis, which brings in more than $20 million a year....So it's no surprise that Times management has no plans to completely open up its archive....[Says Aaron Schwartz:] 'A far more sensible position for the Times would be to charge for new news, not old news. Can you imagine the possibilities if it opened up its archive?' "
Stephen Foley, Investment Column, The Independent, July 15, 2004. Excerpt: "The merger of Taylor & Francis merger with Informa...reduced T&F's dependence on subscriptions to its academic journals, which account for well below half of the combined group's revenues. This could be important as the debate over 'open access' to such journals hots up. Rather than readers paying for access to scientific research, some organisations are experimenting with free access, with the cost of publishing instead being shouldered by the researcher, which pays for his or her article to appear. A committee of MPs reports on the issue next week, but the real test will be whether the open-access model proves commercially viable, and that could take much longer to establish. The threat to profits may not be as great as some in the City fear, but the fact that there is a debate at all reflects years of irritating subscription price rises. These are at an end."
D. Steinhauser and four co-authors, CSB.DB: A comprehensive systems-biology database, Bioinformatics, July 9, 2004. Only this abstract is free online: "The open access comprehensive systems-biology database (CSB.DB) presents results of bio-statistical analyses on gene expression data in association with additional biochemical and physiological knowledge. The main aim of this database platform is to provide tools, which support insight into life's complexity pyramid with a special focus on the integration of data from transcript and metabolite profiling experiments. The central part of CSB.DB, which we describe in this application note, is a set of co-response databases, which currently focus on the three key model organisms, Escherichia coli, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Arabidopsis thaliana. CSB.DB gives easy access to the results of large-scale co-response analyses, which are currently based exclusively on the publicly available compendia of transcript profiles. By scanning for the best co-responses among changing transcript levels CSB.DB allows to infer hypotheses on the functional interaction of genes. These hypotheses are novel and not accessible through analysis of sequence homology. The data base enables the search for pairs of genes and larger units of genes, which are under common transcriptional control. In addition statistical tools are offered to the user, which allow validation and comparison of those co-responses, which were discovered by gene queries performed on the currently available set of pre-selectable datasets. AVAILABILITY: All co-response databases can be accessed through the CSB.DB web server.
PubHub is "A Repository of Foundation-Supported Reports" hosted by The Foundation Center. It's a searchable, browseable, open-access repository, "[s]tarting with the arts — and eventually including the full scope of philanthropic activity in the United States". It also supports current awareness by email. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)
Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the recently launched Open Access journal from Oxford University Press and INMPRC (Ishikawa Natural Medicinal Products Research Center) is now mirrored by PubMed Central. [Announced by Brooke Dine on the PMC-News mailing list.] Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine - Fulltext v1+ (2004+) Oxford | PubMed Central; Print ISSN: 1741-427X | Online ISSN: 1741-4288 PubMed Central is continuing to fill in gaps in their online archives with a backfile digitization project. Major chunks of backfiles have recently been added to Journal of Clinical Investigation and Infection and Immunity. Journal of Clinical Investigation - Fulltext v1-32 (1924-1953), v35 (1956), v38-71 (1959-June 1983), v72(4)-96 (October 1983-1995), v107+ (2001+); ISSN: 0021-9738 Infection and Immunity - Fulltext v1-26 (1970-1979), v31+ (1981+) 6 month moving wall; Print ISSN: 0019-9567 | Online ISSN: 1098-5522
The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has launched an emergency appeal to its members to stop the Appropriations Committee's open-access plan. AAP President Pat Schroeder has written to the members of the AAP, members of the Appropriations Committee, the NIH Director (Elias Zerhouni) and the President's Science Advisor (John Marburger) urging them to oppose the plan. She is asking AAP members to phone and fax their members of Congress today.
PS: Congress goes on summer recess a week from tomorrow (Friday, 7/23). Because the time is tight and the AAP opposition is strong, many AAP members will undoubtedly send messages. I recommend that friends of OA send messages in support of the plan to the same people. Here's contact info for the members of the Appropriations Committee, Elias Zerhouni, and John Marburger. Of these, the most important are the members of the Appropriations Committee and your own representatives in Congress.
Rick Johnson, Director of SPARC, just sent this message to SPARC members. I blog it here with his permission.
PS: This is extraordinarily important news. It sensibly focuses on OA archiving, which leaves authors free to publish in non-OA journals if they like. It sensibly avoids the mistakes of the Sabo bill, such as needlessly requiring the public domain rather than open access and needlessly interfering with patentable discoveries. The NIH is the largest funder of science in the US federal government, five times larger than the second-largest funder, the NSF. Expect opposition, and be prepared to support this proposal through personal and institutional letters to members of Congress. I'll report further details as I get them.
Jessamyn West, Free as in Tibet: ibiblio's cultural cultivation and community creation, OCLC Systems and Services, 20, 2 (2004) pp. 82-86. Only this abstract is free online: "ibiblio is a digital library hosted at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill that manages to be both a repository for cultural information and a resource for community building. The project has existed in many forms since the beginning of the web, and has maintained a core commitment to open source software and tools. ibiblio's maintainers have continually expanded the project's offerings in response to the availability of new technologies and the support of financial and technological partners. Their newest project is an open source weblog development and distribution system."
Charles W. Bailey, Jr. has released Version 54 of his unparallelled Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new edition cites over 2,150 print and online books, articles, and other resources on scholarly electronic publishing.
The Public Library of Science has issued a press release to anticipate the July 20 release of the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee report on its inquiry into journal publishing and open access. Excerpt: "As the second largest research funder in the world, the decisions of the British government have a global impact on access to science and medical research results, and will influence U.S. government policy and legislation....Recent analyses of open access publishing model by impartial and vested parties such as the Wellcome Trust have shown it to be cost-effective and sustainable."
The June issue of Against the Grain is now out. This issue is guest-edited by Steve McKinzie and devoted to changes in scholarly communication. Not even the TOC and abstracts are online, at least not yet. Here are the OA-related articles. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)
Free and/or Open Access to the journal literature is not an American, British, or European issue or cause. It appears to be part of the wellspring of the scientific community. Following are a handful of biomedical journals, and a math journal, from Colombia. Some are currently listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, some are very new arrivals from SciELO, or more specifically, SciELO Colombia. Colombia Medica - Fulltext v25+ (1994+); ISSN: 1657-9534 Revista Colombiana de Cancerologia - Fulltext v7+ (2003+); ISSN: 0123-9015 Revista Colombiana de Cardiologia Fulltext v8(2)+ (March/April 2000+) Fulltext v9+ (2001+) ISSN: 0120-5633 Revista Colombiana de Obstetricia y Ginecologia - Fulltext v49+ (1998+); ISSN: 0034-7434 Revista Colombiana de Matematicas Fulltext v1-27 (1967-1993) Fulltext v28+ (1994+); Tables of contents v1+ (1967+) ISSN: 0034-7426 Revista de la Asociacion Colombiana de Alergia, Asma e Inmunologia - Fulltext v7(3)+ (March 1999+); ISSN: 0123-6849
University of California Press, following the pioneering lead of the National Academy Press, has released 400+ books for public consumption. I've mentioned both of these excellent resources in the past. What sparked my interest today was a citation to an outstanding treatise on the evolution/revolution of scientific thought and understanding. Rocke, Alan J. The Quiet Revolution: Hermann Kolbe and the Science of Organic Chemistry. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1993. Some additional sources of online books to which one can link, without fees or contracts: University of California Press eScholarship Editions - Additionally, UC Press provides linking assistance, with MARC and MODS records that can be loaded into library catalogs, and a spreadsheet with key bits of information for those who simply wish to add the URL to existing records. E-Editions - University of Nebraska Press Baen Books Hoover Institution Books Online National Academy Press Reading Room
Barbara Meyers, Open Access: A Matter for Definition, Society for Scholarly Publishing, Issue Status Report, June 2004. Excerpt: "This is the first Issue Status Report published by the Society [for Scholarly Publishing]. It came about in response to member requests that SSP declare a position regarding open access publishing. From its beginnings, SSP was predicated on the concept that the Society would serve as a neutral forum for all opinions generated by the numerous perspectives arising from the diversity of its membership --a membership spanning the communication process from author to reader."
Bill Moyers, Democracy in the Balance, Sojourners Magazine, August 2004. A wide-ranging address overlapping with OA issues in one spot: "We are also losing the historic balance between wealth and commonwealth....That drive [for enclosure] is succeeding, with drastic consequences for an equitable access to and control of public resources, the lifeblood of any democracy. From land, water, and other natural resources to media and the broadcast and digital spectrums, to scientific discovery and medical breakthroughs, and even to politics itself, a broad range of the American commons is undergoing a powerful shift in the direction of private control."
The German Digital Peer Publishing Lizenz (DIPP) has been translated into English. Excerpt from the Preamble: "The new communication possibilities allow academic content to be disseminated in a decentralised manner - in a fast, transparent way, closely related to research. Scientific researchers are regularly interested in making their findings widely available at a high level of quality. It goes without saying that the individual's work is respected, and recognised and secured for example by citing the author. The aim of this Digital Peer Publishing Licence is to ensure that this process takes place in a fair, transparent and secure way for all those involved. This Digital Peer Publishing Licence provides the contractual basis for publishing documents in e-journals as described above. The licence allows any user to pass the document on in electronic form, e.g. to make it publicly available in networks." (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)
Stevan Harnad, Les Carr, and Steve Hitchcock, Letter to the Editor on Open Access, The Independent, July 14, 2004. Excerpt: "Publishers could convert their journals to an OA business model, so that rather than the user-institution paying the publication costs per journal subscribed to, they are paid by the author-institution, per article published. However, out of the 24,000 journals published today, only 5 per cent have so far made the transition to become open access journals, whereas around 80 per cent allow authors to make OA copies of their own articles. The only difference between the publishers therefore is that Springer offers authors the choice of paying for OA, and Reed Elsevier does not. But authors who want the benefits of OA now do not have to wait until they can pay their publishers to provide it for them. They can already do it themselves with a few keystrokes, for free, today."
Elsevier has hired Erik Engstrom as the new CEO of its Science & Medical Division. This by itself is not OA news. But David Litterick's account of the hiring in The Telegraph gives more space to open access than to Engstrom. Excerpt: "One of Engstrom's first challenges will be to deal with the potential threat to the Elsevier business of the 'open access' publishing model which some analysts claim could significantly hit margins and which has already weighed on the company's share price....At present [OA journals] account for just 1pc of the entire market but the model is gaining momentum. Springer, the German group, has already made some moves to embrace open access, and it could receive a further boost from a House of Commons science and technology committee report due to be published next week."
The complete run of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy has now been digitized and mounted at PubMed Central. Part of NLM's backfile scanning project, this places over 30 years of cutting edge biomedical research within reach of anyone with an Internet connection. (Thanks to Carol Myers, PMC-News mailing list.) Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy - Fulltext v1+ (1972+) 6 month moving wall; Print ISSN: 0066-4804 | Online ISSN: 1098-6596
Open Access: are we at the tipping point? A short, unsigned note from the July 13 BioMed Central Update on the Springer Open Choice program and Oxford's plan to convert Nucleic Acids Research to OA. Excerpt: "Richard Roberts, a Senior Editor for NAR and a past Nobel Prize winner, said 'Open Access is the future of scientific publication and one that we should all work hard to make successful.' BioMed Central salutes Nucleic Acids Research, its Editors and its publisher Oxford University Press for making the journal a fully Open Access publication. We hope many other publishers and journals will follow the example of Nucleic Acids Research and Oxford University Press."
Andy Gass, Helen Doyle, Rebecca Kennison, Whose Copy? Whose Rights? PLoS Biology, July 13, 2004. Excerpt: "One of the truly revolutionary implications of open-access articles, however, is that we simply do not know the full range of their potential applications. They are available for any use that any entrepreneur can envision, so long as the authors of the papers are properly credited. The only certainty, then, is that the utility of open-access research articles will be limited solely by the imagination of those that are inspired by the possibilities—rather than by legal constraints."
Harvard has received a $5 million gift to support its Open Collections Program, whose mission is to digitize and provide open access to material from the Harvard libraries. The donors are Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, both historians and both Harvard alums. Quoting Harvard president Lawrence Summers: "Intellectually curious people from every corner of the globe will have free access to such information, for the benefit of their studies, their interests, and their work." For more details, see the press release.
The July 3 issue of The Lancet has a few more letters to the editor about OA than I noticed or blogged earlier.
(1) Maria Francisca Ham describes the harm caused by the toll-access business model in Indonesia and China. "Only by contacting the authors and overseas friends could we finally read the articles and do the research. The same frustrating experience also happened to doctors in China. It is unquestionable that the user-pays system has harmed communication of research findings to the medical community in these countries, and its consequences for the improvement of medical services is obvious."
(2) Vivien Siegel of PLoS defends OA publishing against Brian Crawford's criticism in the 11/8/03 issue. "[T]he two largest private funders of biomedical research in the world now recognise the value of and need to support open access. Why? The internet makes it possible to share medical knowledge more widely than ever before. In an online world, it is also possible to attribute a fixed cost to the services that publishers provide --and to pay for virtually all of them before publication....Contrary to Crawford's claim, it simply is not true that 'the [corporate] publisher has no reason to limit the dissemination of information'. If it were, they would remove the password protections from their websites and make authors' works available to anyone who wanted to see them."
(3) Anthony Costello and David Osrin describe their responsibility to ensure wide dissemination of their research on children's health. "The issue of open-access or closed-access electronic publication presents us with a new ethical dilemma. Our priority for submission of articles is steadily shifting from a consideration of impact factor to the assurance of broad dissemination. Free and full-text internet access to research findings for scientists, policy makers, and health professionals is preferable, particularly in poor countries where access to most journals is denied. Faced with the option of submitting to an open-access or closed-access journal, we now wonder whether it is ethical for us to opt for closed access on the grounds of impact factor or preferred specialist audience."
The Chronicle of Higher Education will host an online colloquy on Fair Use and Academic Publishing tomorrow, July 14, at 1:00 pm Eastern time. The guest expert will be Wendy Seltzer, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Seltzer will answer questions about fair use from members of the public. Participants can wait until tomorrow at 1:00 or submit their questions in advance. Afterwards the Chronicle will post an OA transcript of the colloquy.
Update. The transcript is now online, OA for all.
Anne H. Margulies, The OpenCourseWare Initiative: A New Model for Sharing. MITWorld hosts streaming video of lectures from MIT's departments. The latest offering features Anne Margulies' talk on the MIT OpenCourseWare initiative, given on March 23, 2004, that related OCW's popularity among learners and educators worldwide and discussed its prospects for growth and adoption among other institutions.
Matthew J. Cockerill, Delayed impact: ISI's citation tracking choices are keeping scientists in the dark, BMC Bioinformatics 5, 93 (2004). Cockerill editorializes that ISI's impact factor system harms new (and particularly open access) journals since ISI may not begin following a journal for perhaps two years and then won't rank its impact until at least two years after. He uses BMC Bioinformatics as an example, showing that ISI began tracking it in 2002, but impact statistics may not be released until 2005. Many scientists consider a journal's impact factor before submitting their work. Cockerill demonstrates how BMC Bioinfomatics "unofficial" impact factor, calculated with ISI's criteria, gives the journal a favorable ranking. He writes optimistically that soon ISI will face competition in the citation analysis area (e.g CiteBase, Elsevier's Scopus, among others) and argues "ISI should reconsider its policy on citation tracking, and should introduce a policy of immediately tracking any peer-reviewed journal that meets basic quality standards and which can provide reference list data in an appropriate form to allow automated analysis."
Marcum, Deanna B. The DODL, the NDIIPP, and the Copyright Conundrum, Portal, July 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). After quoting the vision statements from the Distributed Open Digital Library (DODL) and the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), Marcum makes this comment: "What a wonderful prospect these two vision statements hold out. Vast quantities of recorded information and knowledge will be easy to access by scholars, students, and other researchers around the world and will be safely preserved for access by generations of researchers yet to come! Such a scenario will empower us all, and it is all now becoming technologically possible. Alas, it is not going to happen. That is, it is not going to happen as fully as it could. Not without another kind of collaboration --a collaboration that finds ways to reconcile global library access with individual intellectual property rights." (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)
Gerry McKiernan, Open Archives Data Providers. Part II: Science and Technology, Library Hi Tech News, 21, 5 (June 2004) pp. 22-30. Featuring Bioline, the CERN Document Server, the Digital Library for Earth System Education, and Organic Eprints.
Rüdiger Wischenbart, Wissenschaft ist kein Freibier, Perlentaucher, July 9, 2004. A survey of recent news about scholarly publishing and copyright, building up to a summary of the journals pricing crisis and the emergence of open access. Read the original German or Google's English. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)
Bettie Sue Masters and Judith S. Bond, A professional society's take on access to the scientific literature, Nature, July 8, 2004. Excerpt: "The Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), the flagship journal of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), will celebrate its centennial in 2005....More recently, JBC has provided free, on-line, full text searchable access to every published article since its inception in 1905. The [ASBMB Journal of Lipid Research (JLR)] now also provides free, on-line access to every published article since its founding in 1959. Many other journals are now following suit but only a few have succeeded in achieving the goal of making their entire contents available in such a form. This activity was undertaken with the view of providing a vital service to the biological sciences community but it was not done without considerable thought and concern about its financial implications. The cost of this process was in excess of $700,000. The financial stability of the ASBMB and our business model for publishing has allowed our non-profit organization to take on such expenses, to serve our readers, authors and science. Our expenses are paid by a combination of sources, primarily by page charges to authors and subscriptions to individuals and libraries. In a recent survey of over a 1,000 JBC authors, over 80% preferred this mode of covering expenses to other models, such as authors or institutions paying all the costs."
James Robinson, MPs to call for free online access to science journals, The Guardian, July 11, 2004. Excerpt: "A powerful group of MPs will this week call for legislation to force scientific publishers to make their journals available free of charge on the internet. The recommendation will be included in a report by the House of Commons Science and Technology select committee, which will call on the government to support so-called 'open access' websites that do not levy a charge."