Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, October 23, 2004

More on the Wellcome Trust gala for PLoS Medicine

Tom Roper has posted his notes from the Wellcome Trust celebration of the launch of PLoS Medicine.

Friday, October 22, 2004

New issue of PSP Bulletin

The Fall 2004 issue of the Professional/Scholarly Publishing Bulletin is now online. In his Chairman's Corner column, Marc Brodsky shows the PSP at its most heroic --opposing the Treasury Department use of trade embargoes to limit the editing of scientific research articles-- and its most mystical --repeating its bizarre claim that toll-access literature can be more accessible than open-access literature. Excerpt: "There is a great concern among many PSP member publishers that [the NIH open-access] mandate would undermine many publications that provide wide and useful access --perhaps wider and more useful access than NLM could-- to biomedical research results." (PS: Since this is the only objection to the NIH plan mentioned in this issue of the Bulletin, it may be the PSP's principal objection. If so, it's the perfect point on which to place the burden of proof.)

The PSP has also put on its web site a template grassroots memo (DOC format) for members to use when opposing the NIH OA plan. It must be intended for external constituents, not the NIH, since it makes claims about the NIH and its OA plan that the NIH will know to be false.

Sources for OA books, music, movies

Scott Spanbauer, No-guilt downloads: free books, music and movies, PC Advisor, October 19, 2004. Excerpt: "A few brave free copies of their albums online and allow people to record and distribute their concerts for free. In most cases, the creators retain copyright to the books or recordings, but they permit fans to make copies for their own use. Many other works – books, music and films – are in the public domain. This means that you can download them, upload them, package and even sell them. The Internet Archive pulls together several long-standing, independent electronic book libraries, including the Million Book Project and Project Gutenberg, which account for more than 20,000 free books between them.'s Ebooks collection features, among other things, technical and historical works, and the Digital Book Index lists 90,000 titles, of which more than 50,000 are free....Most e-books reside in the public domain, though a small number of contemporary volumes have been released by their authors under the Creative Commons license. For an explanation of how this license works, visit or read Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig's free (of course) 2004 book Free Culture."

Thursday, October 21, 2004

ALPSP comment on the NIH OA plan

ALPSP has made public its October 10 comments on the NIH open-access plan. Excerpt: "Given the above initiatives, it is not clear that the scholarly community, nationally or internationally, is being deprived of access to any research literature – interlibrary loan is intended to fill any remaining gaps. If the requirement is to make the research accessible to the general public, we are not convinced either of the demand or of the benefit....While it is true that most publishers readily accede to their authors' requirement to post their articles online (although surprisingly few authors actually do so), they are concerned about the potential effect should this right ever be exercised by a significant majority of authors. We do not know what the 'tipping point' would be, but there must come a point at which librarians would consider it unnecessary to subscribe to a journal if most of its content were both freely available and readily retrievable." (Thanks to Nimrod Megiddo.)

OA enhances text mining

Hans-Michael Müller, Eimear E. Kenny, Paul W. Sternberg, Textpresso: An Ontology-Based Information Retrieval and Extraction System for Biological Literature, PLoS Biology, November 2004. From the abstract: "We have developed Textpresso, a new text-mining system for scientific literature whose capabilities go far beyond those of a simple keyword search engine. Textpresso's two major elements are a collection of the full text of scientific articles split into individual sentences, and the implementation of categories of terms for which a database of articles and individual sentences can be searched. The categories are classes of biological concepts (e.g., gene, allele, cell or cell group, phenotype, etc.) and classes that relate two objects (e.g., association, regulation, etc.) or describe one (e.g., biological process, etc.). Together they form a catalog of types of objects and concepts called an ontology. After this ontology is populated with terms, the whole corpus of articles and abstracts is marked up to identify terms of these categories. The current ontology comprises 33 categories of terms. A search engine enables the user to search for one or a combination of these tags and/or keywords within a sentence or document, and as the ontology allows word meaning to be queried, it is possible to formulate semantic queries. Full text access increases recall of biological data types from 45% to 95%." From the main text: "Access to the full text of articles is critical for sufficient coverage of facts and knowledge in the literature and for their retrieval (Blaschke and Valencia 2001); our results confirm these findings." (PS: Text-mining has spectacular potential for helping researchers find what they need, understand it, and stay abreast of new developments. As this article confirms, its powers are greatly enhanced if it has access to full-text literature. Enlarging the body of OA literature will give a boost to text-mining and improvements in text-mining will give a boost to OA.)

OA to Dutch public TV images?

Joe Figueiredo, Dutch parliamentarians favour releasing public broadcast images into public domain, DM Europe, October 20, 2004. Excerpt: "Parliamentarians from Dutch ruling and opposition parties unanimously agreed that (most) images currently owned by Dutch public broadcasters should be released into the public domain and allowed to be distributed online. The four politicians - Kees Vendrik (Green Left), Ankie Broekers-Knol (Liberal Democrat), Martijn van Dam (Labour) and Nicolien van Vroonhoven (Christian Democrat) - who were participating in a debate at a symposium on copyright in Amsterdam last Friday also promised to ask the government to take action....However, Ms Van Vroonhoven did concede that rights to such material released into the public domain should be selective and vary according to usage. Her comments dovetailed nicely in with the symposium’s theme, Creative Commons (CC), and with recommendations made by Bernt Hugenholtz - professor in information law who sits on a government advisory panel on copyrights and is a proponent of CC - who told the symposium that this sort of licence is ideally suited for such public-domain material." (Thanks to BNA Internet Law News.)

Video of Poynder-Harnad interview

Richard Poynder interviewed Stevan Harnad about open access at the Internet Librarian International conference (London, October 10-12, 2004). The video of the interview is now online for those who couldn't attend (select dial-up or broadband). The files require Windows Media Player.

Improving access in sub-Saharan Africa

Ezra Ondari-Okemwa, Impediments to promoting access to global knowledge in sub-Saharan Africa, Library Management, August 1, 2004. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: "Knowledge-based societies have come to be identified with the advanced economies. Knowledge is now looked on as a new source of competitive advantage. Those economies where knowledge is created and used in large quantities may be said to enjoy a competitive advantage over those that do not create and use knowledge in large quantities. Sub-Saharan Africa is one region which needs to have access to global knowledge for its economic development. However, there are several impediments to promoting access to global knowledge in sub-Saharan Africa. The impediments are identified in the study and solutions to the impediments proposed. Research methods used are highlighted."

The case for OA to geospatial data

Modifying the INSPIRE Directive, an unsigned document, dated October 18, 2004, arguing that Europe's INSPIRE (INfrastructure for SPatial InfoRmation in Europe) should recommend open access to publicly-funded spatial data.

Update. Klaus Graf has identified the author of this document as Jo Walsh and added five additional links for those interested in this issue.

Neal Stephenson on OA to novels

Novelist Neal Stephenson participated in a communal interview on Slashdot yesterday, answering questions from Slashdot members. The final question was about OA to novels, using Creative Commons licenses. Has Stephenson considered it? Is it compatible with making money? Is it just a fad? His reply:

Publishing is a very ancient and crafty industry that existed and flourished before the idea of copyright even existed. When copyright came into existence, the publishing industry dealt with it and moved on. My suspicion is that everything that's been going on lately will amount to a sort of fire drill that will force publishing to scurry around and make some new arrangements so that they can get back to making money for themselves and for authors.

You can use the brick-and-mortar bookstore as a way to think about this. There was a time maybe five years ago when many people were questioning whether brick-and-mortar bookstores were going to survive the onslaught of online retailers. Now, if you take the narrow view that a bookstore is nothing more than a machine that swaps money for books, then it follows that there's no need for a physical store. But here we are five years later. Some bookstores have gone out of business, it's true. But there are big, beautiful bookstores all over the place, with sofas and coffee bars and author appearances and so on. Why? Because it turns out that a bookstore is a lot more than a machine that swaps money for books.

Likewise, if you think of a publisher as a machine that makes copies of bits and sells them, then you're going to predict the elimination of publishers. But that's only the smallest part of what publishers actually do. This is not to say that electronic distribution via CC is just a fad, any more than online bookstores are a fad. They will keep on going in parallel, and all of this will get sorted out in time.

(Thanks to the Creative Commons blog.)

Another straw-man argument

Georg Siebeck, Freibier für Wissenschaft? Börsenblatt, October 21, 2004. Another critique of OA based entirely on misunderstandings --e.g. that OA is only justified if there is a dark conspiracy among publishers to limit access, that OA journals compromise on peer review, that the current system is working well, and that OA advocates think publishing is costless. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Denmark strikes nationwide agreement with BMC

ScieCom reports that Denmark has purchased BioMed Central institutional memberships for all the universities and research institutions in the country, just as Norway did on October 18. So far I haven't seen an announcement at the BMC site or a press release, but I'll report further details as they unfold.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

More on eSciDoc

The European Commission Headlines service has a story on Germany's eSciDoc project. Excerpt: "Recent moves by Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) should further boost this important cause [of scientific communication]. The Ministry – under its national eScience programme – granted funding to two German organisations, FIZ Karlsruhe and the Max Planck Society (MPS), to develop a new on-line platform to help scientists collaborate better over the web. The main aim of the 'eSciDoc' project is to build an integrated information, communication and publication package for web-based scientific work so that scientists in the 80 MPS institutes can better collaborate together. The results of the first pilot stage will be shared with other scientific organisations in the hope that the platform may eventually be opened up to an even wider audience....The five-year project...will focus on making their end product as scalable and open as possible to ensure that it reaches a wide range of scientific disciplines and has a suitable international infrastructure. The service should address all aspects of scientific communication, say the developers, including the creation and editing of information, data sharing, publication of findings, and the long-term storing and archiving of research material."

Limited access is the greatest barrier to searching the literature

Tamara Zemlo of the Science Advisory Board surveyed scientists on the greatest obstacle to searching online research literature. Quoting today's press release: "Almost 80% of the 1,400 respondents stated that limited access to full-text documents was the most annoying aspect of online literature searches. It far exceeded the other complaints of broken hypertext links, copyright restrictions and inadequate search engines. Such sentiments will be sweet music to the ears of Public Library of Science (PLoS) founders who espouse the philosophy that unrestricted access to scientific and medical literature will accelerate progress in these critical fields. Their model of offering full-text and data of published research article --available free of charge anywhere in the world-- is still being tested.. Time will tell whether the scientists, who in theory embrace the nobility of this idea, will choose to publish their own findings in such a venue." (PS: The site gives no details on the date or method of the survey.)

Zurich presentations on OA

The presentations from the Symposium on Open Access to Knowledge and Scholarly Communication (Zurich, October 15, 2004), are now online.

German recap of OA debate

Open access --aber wie? NZZ Online, October 20, 2004. An unsigned introduction to OA for the general reader (in German), building on some of the pro and con arguments raised at the October 15 Symposium on Open Access to Knowledge and Scholarly Communication in Zurich. (Thanks to Donat Agosti.)

Scholarly texts on the web

Rune Dalgaard, Scholarly Collections on the Web: Media Recofigurations at Play, Human IT, 7, 2 (2004). Abstract: "With the Internet a new medium has become available for communicating scholarly texts. This article focuses on the World Wide Web (the Web) as a global, hypertextual archive for scholarly texts and its significance in reconfiguring the corpus of scholarly texts. The first part addresses the Web in light of hypertext theory and a media theoretic perspective, concentrating on its roots in issues related to the flood of information and its qualities as a medium. The second part will zoom in on the actual use of the Web as a publication and archival medium for scholars, with a focus on two different scholarly archives [the ACM Archive and the Rossetti Archive]. The article concludes with some general reflections on the Web as an archive of archives based on the concepts of network and complexity."

OA projects win Charleston Advisor Reader's Choice Awards

The Charleston Advisor has announced its Fourth Annual Reader's Choice Awards. The Five Star Award for an Individual was awarded to Herbert van de Sompel for his work on OpenURL. The Five Star Award for an Initiative was awarded to the NIH for its open-access plan. The Best Pricing award went to Project Euclid for its reasonable and varied pricing, including OA. And the Best Effort award went to the Public Library of Science for its high-quality open-access journals. Congratulations to all the winners.

An OA journal from a society publisher

Ricardo Guerrero and Mercè Piqueras, Open access. A turning point in scientific publication, International Microbiology, September 2004. A detailed survey and defense of OA journals. Excerpt: "The future of the Open Access Initiative has been the subject of heated discussion among scientists, publishers, learned societies, librarians and even government funding agencies and individuals in charge of setting scientific policy. The main questions being debated are: (a) should all scientific literature be open access?, (b) if so, how should the costs of publishing be met?, and (c) who should cover these costs?...International Microbiology is now immediately available (i.e. as soon as the articles are placed on the Internet) at its own website and at a public repository, SciELO Spain....Like other journals published by most scientific societies, International Microbiology is not expected to make a profit. Nevertheless, publishing --either in print or electronically-- implies significant costs, which are continuously increasing and have to be covered....The main problem of open access [publishing] that must be solved is making journals accessible not only to readers but also to authors who cannot afford to pay the page charges in order to have their articles published. Otherwise, those authors will be forced, as a researcher from Slovakia stated in a letter to Nature on March 5, 2004, 'to read the articles from PLoS Biology --for free-- and try to publish [their] work in Science or Nature --also for free.' " International Microbiology is published by the Spanish Society of Microbiology.

OA to ornithological archive

SORA (Searchable Ornithological Research Archive) is an open-access archive of the back runs of five journals of ornithology, with a sixth to come soon. The ongoing journals provide their content with a moving wall of what looks like five years. Some of the back runs go back 120 years. SORA is collaborative project from the American Ornithologists Union, the Cooper Ornithological Society, the Association of Field Ornithologists, the Wilson Ornithological Society and the University of New Mexico libraries and IT department. (Thanks to ResearchBuzz.)

More on how OA to the journal literature can help books

Robert Samuel, Shedding light on academic press, The Duke Chronicle, October 20, 2004. How rising journal prices force libraries to buy fewer books, and how this harms scholars in the humanities. Excerpt: "In the meantime, there are some ideas for lowering journal costs. One popular concept is 'open-access' publishing, which is part of the ideology that knowledge created by universities should be available for all to access. While many other science publications are owned by corporate conglomerates that can drive up costs, 'open-access' publishers do not seek profit; this is similar to how monographs are published in the university press system, where profits are a luxury rather than a goal. '[Open publication] is getting a lot of publicity because it basically puts the cost of publishing on the submitter of the paper,' the libraries' [Deborah] Jakubs said. 'There's a lot of debate about open access. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t get two or three articles saying "open access is good," "open access is bad." '...Publishing monographs on the Internet is not yet a serious alternative, but that has not stopped some junior faculty from experimenting with the boundaries of the World Wide Web. Assistant Professor of English Matt Cohen is following the normal route of working for tenure as he researches and writes a monograph. At the same time, Cohen is one of several scholars laboring to archive the works of Walt Whitman on the Internet, a project he views as indicative of the future of academic publishing."

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

More on the PLoS Medicine launch

Janice McCallum, The Lancet vs. PLoS Medicine Is No Open and Shut Case, Commentary (the Shore Communications blog), October 19, 2004. Excerpt: "It is no coincidence that Elsevier, the publisher of The Lancet, distributed a press release to announce that the number of registered users of The Lancet's website has surpassed 1 million on the same day that the Public Library of Science (PLoS) launched its new medical journal, PLoS Medicine. PLoS is headed by some of the leading proponents of the Open Access movement, and in its own words is 'committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource'. The primary target of the Open Access movement in its drive to change the current model for pricing and distributing scientific and medical information is none other than Elsevier, the world's largest publisher of STM journals....To end on an ironic note, it is quite likely that 'open' access to basic scientific and technical research information will occur with or without external intervention as an expected consequence of technological advances in digital publishing and the economics of Web distribution."

Equitable access to research in Africa

The International Council for Science (ICSU) and the National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF) have agreed to set up an ICSU Regional Office for Africa. From today's press release: "The ICSU Regional Office will be responsible for the promotion of increased participation of scientists from Sub-Saharan Africa in ICSU programmes and activities. It will also assist ICSU and its Unions in their strategic planning to ensure that African priorities are taken into account in setting the international agendas. Through collaboration with the international science community, the Office will assist in scientific capacity building in Africa. Further, it will promote scientific networking and support already existing networks active in the region....Through this international network, ICSU coordinates interdisciplinary research to address major issues of relevance to both science and society. In addition, the Council actively advocates for freedom in the conduct of science, promotes equitable access to scientific data and information, and facilitates science education and capacity building."

More on the PLoS Medicine launch

Richard Wray, Lancet faces free access competition, The Guardian, October 20, 2004. Excerpt: "The assault on Reed Elsevier's lucrative scientific publications business will increase this week with the launch of an open access competitor to its medical journal the Lancet. The launch of PLoS Medicine, backed by the US Public Library of Science, comes as the government prepares its response to a recent select committee report into scientific publications which called for publicly funded research to be made freely available to all....To date the open access publishing industry has captured a tiny proportion of the overall market but initiatives designed to broaden the number of people who are able to read research are gaining support. Over the summer the Commons science and technology committee recommended that public funding for research should be conditional on the final research report being made freely available through online archives operated either by universities or individual academics. The government is to respond within the next few weeks and is expected to shy away from a direct challenge to established scientific publishers."

New OA journal Pty. Ltd. of Australia and the Institute of Nanotechnology of Scotland have announced the December launch of the Online Journal of Nanotechnology (no web site yet). Quoting the press release: "The Online Journal of Nanotechnology is based on a free access publishing model, coupled with what is believed to be a unique development in the field of scientific publishing – the distribution of journal revenue between the authors, peer reviewers and site operators....The revenue received from the journal related advertising and sponsorship will be distributed according to the following general criteria: [1] Authors receive a revenue share of 50%. [2] Peer reviewers receive a revenue share of 20%. [3] The site administrators receive a revenue share of 30%. [4] This revenue share will apply throughout the on-line published life of the individual article or paper....Ottilia Saxl, CEO of the Institute of Nanotechnology commented, 'It is our hope that by adopting this publishing model we will ensure that the latest developments in nanotechnology are available to the widest possible global audience. For too long, access to money has been the key to access to knowledge. We hope to change this by making nanotechnology knowledge inclusive, not exclusive.' "

Clinical Molecular Pathology -- new from PubMed Central

Clinical Molecular Pathology was an offshoot of the Journal of Clinical Pathology. The Association of Clinical Pathologists publishes JCP with the BMJ Publishing Group, using HighWire Press as their online publishing platform. After the 2 year run as CMP, the title changed to Molecular Pathology. With volume 57 (2004), the journal was reincorporated into JCP. Clinical Molecular Pathology - Fulltext v48-49 (1995-1996); ISSN: 1355-2910. Molecular Pathology - Fulltext v51-56 (1998-2003) 1 year moving wall; Tables of contents and Abstracts v50; Print ISSN: 1366-8714 | Online ISSN: 1472-4154. Journal of Clinical Pathology - Fulltext v51+ (1998+) 1 year moving wall; Print ISSN: 0021-9746 | Online ISSN: 1472-4146. All three titles will eventually be available through PubMed Central, although JCP is likely to continue the embargo policy. BMJ has committed to providing Open Access backfiles, through volume 1, of all of their titles on PubMed Central.

More on the PLoS Medicine launch

PLoS has issued a press release to announce the launch of PLoS Medicine. Excerpt: "A new general medical journal launched this week with a non-traditional publishing model is the latest top-tier venue for publishing important, peer-reviewed biomedical research, and is being called the first major, international journal to be introduced in more than 70 years. Unlike most medical journals which are available only through costly subscriptions, PLoS Medicine is available free of charge and accessible to everyone through the Internet, at PLoS Medicine is published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), a coalition of researchers and physicians founded in 2000 by Nobel Prize winner and former National Institutes of Health Director Harold Varmus, M.D. Typically, the world's most credible medical research is published in journals that are almost exclusively available to an elite audience that can afford to pay subscriptions that can cost thousands of dollars a year. PLoS Medicine's introduction is being hailed by thousands of people who support open access to medical research, many of whom have begun an international movement for free access to medical research....'There's growing recognition by government and private research institutions that publication of research is the last step in the scientific process. We believe funding can be generated at the front end by the organizations that sponsor the work, rather than at the back end through ever increasing subscription rates,' said PLoS Executive Director Vivian Siegel. 'Independent economic evaluations support open access as a viable publishing model. PLoS expects to achieve sustainability within five years through a comprehensive publishing plan.' "

OA journals, pro and con

Robert T. Sataloff, Open access: Publishing future or finale? Ear Nose & Throat Journal, October 19, 2004. Excerpt: "Proponents of open-access publication believe that all scientific information should be available to the scientific community at no charge. Harold E. Varmus, president and CEO of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, is one of the most outspoken leaders of this movement. He and other open-access advocates support creation of online journals that charge no subscription fee. Rather, they charge authors a publication fee, usually between $500 and $1,500. One might assume that such fees provided by authors would be sufficient to sustain these journals. However, this incorrect assumption is one of several issues in the paradigm that warrant closer scrutiny....The response of traditional publishers has not always been above contention. In many cases, price inflation for indispensable journals has been (arguably) unreasonable. Some libraries have had to pay more than $20,000 a year for selected journals (Brain Research costs more than $21,000; Nuclear Physics A and B costs $23,000—and there are others). Neither individuals nor libraries can sustain spiraling subscription costs indefinitely....The ideal solution to the current publishing problem is not clear. However, it is clear that the entire scientific community needs to work closely with commercial and nonprofit publishers, libraries, and open-access advocates to develop a paradigm that will permit communication and dissemination of peer-reviewed scientific information in a manner that is cost-effective and sustainable for readers, authors, and distributors of scientific content."

More on applying trade embargoes to science

John Dudley Miller, IEEE restores services, The Scientist, October 19 2004. Excerpt: "The world's largest technical professional association [the IEEE] has restored most of the free services it withdrew from members living in Iran, Cuba, and Sudan nearly 3 years ago out of concern that continuing to provide them might violate US trade embargoes against those countries."

JISC joins the DLF

Monday, October 18, 2004

More on the PLoS Medicine launch

Saeed Shah, US Public Library of Science launches rival to 'The Lancet', The Independent, October 18, 2004. Excerpt: "A major new 'open access' journal for medicine is launched today, putting it in direct competition with the established publications in this lucrative area including Reed Elsevier's The Lancet. The Public Library of Science (PLoS), a US-based not-for-profit organisation, is behind PLoS Medicine, which it said was 'the most significant international general medicine journal to emerge in over 70 years'....The peer-reviewed PLoS Medicine is likely to be of interest beyond the world of academic publishing and medical research. Patients interested in the latest medical research will be able to read articles freely in the journal, which will contain a summary for a lay audience. Dr Virginia Barbour, a former executive editor of The Lancet, who is a senior editor of PLoS Medicine, said the publication was aimed at everyone 'from patients to professors'. She said: 'People do want to read about this. Talk to anyone with a chronic disease or with a child who has a serious illness.' "

Norwegian agreement with BMC

The Norwegian Health Services Research Centre has negotiated an agreement in which Norway will (1) buy BioMed Central institutional memberships for "all universities, polytechnics research institutes and hospitals in Norway" and (2) pay processing fees on articles accepted at BMC journals "for all publicly funded researchers, doctors and teachers in Norway." Quoting Arild Bjørndal, Medical Director of the NHSRC, in today's press release: "Open access is the way forward in medical publishing. We must put a stop to the way that scarce public resources are used; first to fund research and then again to pay to be able to read the results of that same research. Our institution is striving to improve access to reliable and relevant research for everybody; hence we want to encourage Norwegian researchers to publish through open access solutions like BioMed Central....Creating better access to research information is one of the means to stimulate a more evidence based health service in Norway. "

Notes on Zurich OA conference

Claudia Koltzenburg has written useful notes on the Symposium on Open Access to Knowledge and Scholarly Communication (Zurich, October 15, 2004). Thanks, Claudia!

Update. Claudia has now posted Part Two of her Zurich notes.

More on OA to drug trial data

Jim Rosack, Leading Medical Journals Toughen Requirements for Publication, Psychiatric News 39(20), 2, October 15, 2004. Excerpt: "In a bold undertaking, the editors of some of the world's most prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals announced in September that they will 'require, as a condition of consideration for publication, registration in a public trials registry' for all articles written about clinical trials ... The group of 11 editors, known as the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), said that for any clinical trial that starts enrollment after July 1, 2005, the trial must register "at or before the onset of patient enrollment." (Source: Markham's Behavioral Health)

Message from the PLoS founders on their new journal

Michael B. Eisen, Patrick O. Brown, Harold E. Varmus, PLoS Medicine --A Medical Journal for the Internet Age, PLoS Medicine, October 19, 2004. Excerpt: "The Internet is awash with medical information....Go to any search engine and type in the name of a disease or drug, and you will be directed to hundreds of sites, ranging from the sound and useful to the quackish and dangerous. Google 'medical' and you get 85 million pages, 'drug,' 40 million, and 'health,' 230 million. But something is conspicuously missing. The most reliable medical information on the Internet --the contents of peer-reviewed medical journals-- is hidden from the public and most of the world's physicians. Although most medical journals are available online, their publishers limit access to those who choose, and can afford, to pay for access. This should not, and need not, be so....The established medical publishers have turned their back on the opportunity to make the latest and best medical information available to anyone with an Internet connection. With the launch of PLoS Medicine, we are embracing this opportunity....But we aim to be more than just an open-access alternative to established general medical journals. We are determined to make PLoS Medicine the best medical journal in the world by providing outstanding original research and new ideas; thought-provoking, educational, and imaginative features for readers; and the fastest, fairest, and most rigorous peer review for authors."

Opening editorial in PLoS Medicine

Virginia Barbour, James Butcher, Barbara Cohen, and Gavin Yamey, Prescription for a Healthy Journal: Take monthly, at no cost; reaches six billion, PLoS Medicine, October 19, 2004. Excerpt: "So in starting afresh, what should a new medical journal retain, and what should it ditch? Most obviously, we should throw out the old way of disseminating information. In today's electronic age, it is no more difficult, and it is only minimally more costly, to provide access to one million people than it is to one person. So the revolutionary idea of anyone being able to read any article is possible. This idea—open access—which completely challenges the old subscription-based publishing model, is the driving force behind the launch of PLoS Medicine. You can download and distribute articles without restrictions (feel free to make a thousand copies, translate articles into other languages, put articles into books—just give the author proper credit)....PLoS Medicine will not accept advertisements for pharmaceutical products or medical devices. Our open-access license allows free distribution of articles, so PLoS cannot benefit from exclusive reprint sales."

PLoS Medicine -- inaugural issue released

PLoS Medicine, the second Open Access journal launched by the Public Library of Science, has released its inaugural issue. PubMed Central access is not yet available, but should be expected before the end of this week. PLoS Medicine - Fulltext v1+ (2004+); Print ISSN: 1549-1277 | Online ISSN: 1549-1676.

More on OA to drug trials

M.B. Tumber and K. Dickerson, Publication of clinical trials: accountability and accessibility, Journal of Internal Medicine 256, 271-283 (2004). Only the abstract is freely available online:
Publication of findings from clinical trials is a necessary step in the research continuum, to provide a record of the work done, convey information to the community, and support translation of research into clinical practice. Systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials are now widely regarded as the highest level of evidence in determining the effect of an intervention on an outcome. They largely depend on internationally accessible, published reports of all trials undertaken. Investigators and their institutions or organizations have responsibility for reporting their clinical trials accurately and completely, including disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. To ensure evidence-based health care, issues relating to accessibility and accountability of clinical trial results require immediate action.

Launch of PLoS Medicine

PLoS Medicine launches today. An online press release online, however, giving yesterday as the launch date, seems to be both misdated and prematurely released. Here's an excerpt, however, unaffected by the dating problem: "PLoS Medicine [is] the most significant international general medicine journal to emerge in over 70 years....PLoS Medicine represents a wind-change in scientific publishing, as it is an 'open access' publication, available freely to all without a subscription charge. The Wellcome Trust and the publisher, the Public Library of Science (PLoS) share a mission to promote open, unrestricted access to scientific and medical research....The inaugural issue, now available on the web and in print, features peer-reviewed research articles on topics as diverse as the global burden of disease and cellular changes in smoking-related lung disease, written by highly-respected clinicians. The journal also contains exciting debates on controversial issues, commissioned expert perspectives on published studies, and summaries of research for non-specialist physicians and lay summaries for patients. 'The promise of free, online primary research articles has recently made extraordinary progress in the UK's House of Commons, the US Congress and National Institutes of Health, and research institutions around the world, including the Wellcome Trust,' states Dr. Harold E. Varmus, Nobel Laureate, former National Institutes of Health Director, and a co-founder of PLoS. 'PLoS Medicine intends to be among the world’s premier general medicine journals, publishing important, peer-reviewed original discoveries freely available to all.' "

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Japan Memory Project

K. M. Lawson, The Japan Memory Project, Frog in a Well, October 17, 2004. A blog posting. Excerpt: "Three visiting scholars (Sakakibara Sayoko, Roy Ron, and Wakabayashi Haruko) from the University of Tokyo's Historiographical Institute gave a talk this week at Harvard about their massive Japan Memory Project. The project consists of a collection of online databases of mostly pre-modern primary sources....Many of these sources have been digitized through the project and their indexes can be searched online. Also, many of the documents, maps and other visual sources can be viewed and downloaded directly from their site, but depending on the database, may only be available to scholars visiting the institute....The presenters argued that over the last few years there has been a considerable shift in the thinking of the institute towards moving materials online and providing more open access to these materials. Whereas getting into the institute in the past was apparently something of considerable difficulty, now anyone working with a professor and university they 'recognize' can get access by filling out an application. While I still find this elitist for an institute which is close to being a public Japanese archive (their handout says that the 'responsibility for compiling historical materials [was] transferred from the Cabinet' to the university in 1888), I'm glad that things are gradually opening up."

Editorial in new OA journal

Robert E. Mrak and W. Sue T. Griffin, Funding free and universal access to Journal of Neuroinflammation, Journal of Neuroinflammation, October 14, 2004. An editorial in a new OA journal launched in April. The provisional abstract: "Journal of Neuroinflammation is an Open Access, online journal published by BioMed Central. Open Access publishing provides instant and universal availability of published work to any potential reader, worldwide, completely free of subscriptions, passwords, and charges. Further, authors retain copyright for their work, facilitating its dissemination. Open Access publishing is made possible by article-processing charges assessed 'on the front end' to authors, their institutions, or their funding agencies. Beginning November 1, 2004, the Journal of Neuroinflammation will introduce article-processing charges of around US$525 for accepted articles. This charge will be waived for authors from institutions that are BioMed Central members, and in additional cases for reasons of genuine financial hardship. These article-processing charges pay for an electronic submission process that facilitates efficient and thorough peer review, for publication costs involved in providing the article freely and universally accessible in various formats online, and for the processes required for the article's inclusion in PubMed and its archiving in PubMed Central, e-Depot, Potsdam and INIST. There is no remuneration of any kind provided to the Editors-in-Chief, to any members of the Editorial Board, or to peer reviewers; all of whose work is entirely voluntary. Our article-processing charge is less than charges frequently levied by traditional journals: the Journal of Neuroinflammation does not levy any additional page or color charges on top of this fee, and there are no reprint costs as publication-quality pdf files are provided, free, for distribution in lieu of reprints. Our article-processing charge will enable full, immediate, and continued Open Access for all work published in Journal of Neuroinflammation. The benefits from such Open Access will accrue to readers, through unrestricted access; to authors, through the widest possible dissemination of their work; and to science and society in general, through facilitation of information availability and scientific advancement."

New OA journal

The Association of Surgeons of India has launched an online, open-access version of the Indian Journal of Surgery. The OA edition will charge no processing fees and be archived in Bioline. (Thanks to D.K. Sahu.)