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JISC is willing to fund a study "to identify user-oriented services across [OA] digital repositories." Details from the announcement:
The JISC is inviting proposals to undertake a scoping study to identify sustainable technical and organisational models to support user-oriented services across digital repositories. In particular, open access repositories of interest to UK further and higher education are relevant. The study is intended to inform strategies to support access and use of repositories, with a view to the establishment of a national repository services infrastructure or framework. Funding of up to £50,000 including VAT and expenses is available for this study. The deadline for proposals is 13.00 hrs on Monday 24th October 2005. The study should commence by Monday 5th December 2005 at the latest. The study is expected to last 5 months. A final report should therefore be submitted by Friday 28th April 2006. The full Invitation to Tender is attached as a Microsoft Word document.
HyperJournal is looking for institutional partners who would like to provide OA to their content. From the announcement:
The HyperJournal ONLUS association is a non-profit organization whose objective is promoting Open Access to scientific and cultural content. It's main product is HyperJournal, an Open Source web application to publish electronic scientific Journals. HyperJournal is an advanced platform that uses Semantic Web Technologies (like RDF and OWL) to semantically-enrich its content. We are looking for libraries, universities, museums and any kind of cultural and research organizations that owns large collections of (possibly already digitized) periodicals in one of more thematic field. Existing collaboration with other similar institutions around Europe is a plus. If you are interested please contact us as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's a great story from yesterday's Google blog.
Howard and Melissa of Boca Raton, Florida, were the happy new parents of twins, a boy and a girl named Andrew and Carly. Though they were preemies born in mid-July, both babies were safely home two weeks later. "Then suddenly," Howard wrote to us, "Andrew had to be admitted to the ER. We thought it was for something little - but the doctors discovered something major." The doctors observed that his hemoglobin levels had dropped substantially - from 14 to 7 - since he was born...."Since hemoglobin is what takes oxygen to the brain," continues Howard, "the doctors wanted to do an emergency blood transfusion - and time was of the essence." But to the dismay of the parents, the doctors said the cord blood they had conscientiously saved would not help: They would need to use a stranger's blood, since there was no time to process theirs. "We were shaken and quite upset," Howard recalls. "Armed with only a cell phone - and a very low battery - I was able to Google [hemoglobin "premature infant"] and found a medical journal article claiming that it's perfectly normal for preemies to have their hemoglobin levels drop to 7 between the first and third months of life, and apparently this is especially true with twins." He showed the mobile screen citing this fact to the neonatalogists, who went off to research the issue for a couple of hours. They returned, says, Howard, "and sheepishly admitted that our son was indeed fine - no treatment was necessary." Howard concludes, "Google literally saved our newborn son from having to endure an extremely dangerous, and totally unnecessary, blood transfusion. Melissa and I really appreciated your help with this one."
(PS: See the Google blog posting for a photo of the healthy twins. Google deserves credit for supporting searches from mobile phones. Howard deserves credit for knowing how to run Google searches from his moble phone. (Do you?) David Trachtenbarg and Thomas Golemon deserve credit for their 1998 article on medical and surgical problems in premature infants. And the American Academy of Family Physicians deserves credit for providing open access to its journal, American Family Physician.)
Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society has issued a Roadmap for Open ICT Ecosystems (undated but apparently released September 9). It addresses the kind of openness that open-source software, open-access research, and open standards have in common --"a potent combination of connectivity, collaboration, and transparency." However, while it has detailed sections on open-source software and open standards, and a few references to open dissemination of public data, it doesn't seem aware of OA to research literature. (I'm writing a letter.)
The presentations from the DSpace Federation 2nd User Group Meeting (Cambridge, July 6-7, 2005) are now online.
From a press release of the UK Green Party, September 9:
The Green Party will vote tomorrow on proposed amendments to Intellectual Property Rights law....Matt Wootton, Green Party External Communications Co-ordinator commented:..."In the UK, excessive Intellectual Property Rights prevent access to and dissemination of vast areas of knowledge. Ninety-five percent of the works in copyright aren't available commercially in any form. Even worse, in the context of drug patents it means that, for instance, the majority of people with AIDS in developing countries die prematurely because they can't afford the drugs they need. Branded diet pills are more profitable, so that's what gets the funding. The proposed amendments aim to ensure that what rightfully belongs to the people is brought into the public domain." Proposed amendments would abolish Crown Copyright, a protection for most material originated by ministers and civil servants, and promote the Creative Commons, which offers a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors and artists. The Party would require Open Access publishing for publicly-funded academies.
Christian Bell, Keeping integrity without copyrighting, Calvin College Chimes, 99, 28 (2005). Excerpt:
Allow me to propose a radical thesis: Copyright is fundamentally incompatible with Christian scholarship....As Christian scholars, we must oppose the very notion of copyright and marginalize it as a selfish and idolatrous temptation that is squeezing the life out of our work....The problem is that copyright places restraints on both scholasticism and scholars; it locks ideas up under the ownership of particular people who are legally entitled to do whatever they want with it. Furthermore, any derivative use of copyrighted material must acknowledge — and frequently pay — for the right to use the original work. In doing so, copyright denigrates the communal nature of scholarship. When our scholarship is done for the church, it is not a stretch to say that copyright denigrates the communal nature of Christian worship also. The proper method — and the historical method — for Christian scholarship is for our work to be conducted by members of the body of Christ for the benefit and enjoyment of the rest of the body....The primary motivation of copyright is to protect two things: profit and pride. But neither of these are things that we ought to be racing to defend....Our objection to copyright is a denial of the implicit premise of “ownership” in copyright. Christianity asserts strongly and unequivocally that no human person owns his or her own thoughts. Our entire scholastic and intellectual endeavor is made possible solely by the grace of God — this is one of the fundamental tenets of our faith....Avoiding copyright of course raises questions about what the alternatives are. We can say succinctly that there are alternatives, including the public domain, Creative Commons licenses, and other alternative protections that keep the integrity of our work intact while ensuring that it stays free — both in terms of cost and in terms of freedom.
(PS: I'm sticking to the secular arguments.)
Alaa Abd El Fattah, Open Content in Arab Countries, the first in a series of draft reports from the Global Scan of Open Content Projects (undated). Excerpt:
Even when taking into account that the Internet is mainly accessible to a younger, urbanized, elite audience, the community that understands itself as producing "open content" is still very small. It is made-up of a small, internally well-connected group of individuals, mainly from Egypt and Jordan, the two countries in the region most oriented towards the Anglo-American West. Most projects struggle with small number of contributors, placing a great burden on those who do contribute. The community centers around two main projects, the Arab Wikipedia and the free and open source software (FOSS) localization / documentation projects Arabeyes. They could be described as the core of the 'movement'. Relatively well-established, connected to the international scene, partly supported in some way or another by international NGOs, and thus enjoying comparatively high visibility, locally and globally.
Mia Garlick, A Review of Creative Commons and Science Commons, Educause Review, September/October, 2005. Excerpt:
[T]he high-profile nature of the digital music wars has overshadowed another debate taking place as a consequence of the impact of digital technologies on protected materials. This debate surrounds the access to scientific and academic research, teaching tools, and data. Creative Commons and its recently launched Science Commons project aim to promote balance in both debates....PLoS Director and co-founder Michael Eisen explained that PLoS adopted the Creative Commons Attribution License “because it ensures the optimal accessibility and usability while preserving the one thing that scientists value the most: attribution for their work.”1 Finally, another educational institution, Rice University, made its Connexions project available under a Creative Commons Attribution License. The Connexions project provides free scholarly materials and free software tools to create an online environment for collaboratively developing, freely sharing, and rapidly publishing scholarly content....Science Commons focuses on three areas: (1) licensing; (2) publishing; and (3) data. For each area, Science Commons has established a working group and a public listserv discussion group for participation by interested members of the community....In publishing, Science Commons is working to develop and support open-access publishing. Its first project is the recently launched Open Access Law Program, which is designed to make legal scholarship “open access”—freely available online to everyone, without undue copyright and licensing restrictions. The Open Access Law Journal Principles and the Open Access Law Author Pledge also enable both journals and authors to declare their commitment to open access....In the scientific and academic communities, the benefits that digital technologies offer in terms of facilitating the greater and more efficient dissemination of research and knowledge have not yet been fully harnessed....Science Commons is working to educate scientists; to provide standard contracts and technologies for institutional sharing and archiving; and to generally assist in reversing a lengthy, unintentional erosion of knowledge-sharing in the sciences and academia.
Erv Blythe and Vinod Chachra, The Value Proposition in Institutional Repositories, Educause Review, September/October, 2005. Excerpt:
[T]here is a developing realization today that although institutional repositories must have institutional organization, coordination, and investment, they will be successful only when they achieve broad and voluntary participation by individuals in the communities they serve....The deployment of IRs can be expensive. In creating such a repository, an institution makes an implied commitment that it will provide resources to manage the repository and will keep the contents preserved and accessible. Yet, ignoring institutional repositories may turn out to be even more expensive than deploying them....The value to the institution comes from the collocation, the interconnection, the archiving, and the preservation of the intellectual output of the institution. However, consistent and controlled exposure of the content will perhaps provide the greatest value. This suggests that individuals from outside the institution should have relatively easy and, wherever possible, open access to these repositories. IRs that lead to partnerships and collaborations with other national and global institutions also increase the exposure, utility, and value. To facilitate this broader access, it is expected that metadata from these repositories will be harvested by others to create search-and-access databases that may be organized along subject and/or geographic lines.... The term institutional repository has little appeal to faculty because it implies that the system is designed to support and achieve the needs and goals of the institution, and not necessarily those of the individual....In concluding its study, the University of Rochester team developed two strategies to address faculty’s lack of interest in and understanding of the repository concept. The first strategy involved approaching faculty on their turf and using terminology that stressed the benefits and capabilities of the repository for individuals (e.g., the term personal digital repository can be used to highlight the individually customizable aspect). The second strategy dealt with creating ways in which faculty could use the repository to showcase their achievements and to participate in the design of the digital space.
ALPSP is conducting a second survey of journal publishers. The new survey asks questions about their access policies, among other things. Quoting the announcement:
Since publication of the original survey [in July 2003] the market has continued to change. The ALPSP Learned Journals Collection has provided small publishers with the opportunity to participate in large-scale consortia licences. Pay-per-view has developed as an important revenue generator. The Open Access debate has become a major factor governing publishing policy, combining a threat to conventional subscription-based repositories. The new survey will update the data available in the first survey, and will be based on a broad, representative range of commercial, society and university press academic journal publishers, both not-for-profit and commercial. The findings from the new survey, to be carried out in the second half of 2005, will be published by ALPSP in February 2006. Journal Publishers are invited to take part in this survey. Completed questionnaires should be returned to Frontline Global Marketing Services Ltd, Rookwood, Bradden, Towcester NN12 8ED; Fax 020 8043 0310.
Charles W. Bailey Jr. has released version 59 of his authoritative Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography.
The AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) has published a report, AIDS Vaccines at the Crossroads, which includes policy recommendations for making progress toward an AIDS vaccine. One recommendation: "Provide open public access to research results including peer-reviewed articles of work funded by taxpayer dollars." Here's a longer excerpt from p. 41, after summarizing the NIH and Wellcome Trust policies:
AVAC calls on all NIH and other publicly-funded vaccine scientists to lead by example and post manuscript or publication materials with the government as soon as possible. Intramural researchers within NIH especially have few constraints on their ability to implement the policy to the benefit of community and trial participants. Other foundations could follow The Wellcome Trust lead. For further information go to [the Alliance for Taxpayer Access].(Thanks to Rick Johnson.)
Nature Reviews Cancer has released a collection of articles on cancer vaccines. The articles will be free online until February 2006.
Comment. NPG journals do this periodically and every time I ask the same question. If NPG is willing to forego revenue for the critical first six months, then why not increase usage, impact, and good will by making the articles free online forever? The six months of free access are subsidized, in this case by SAFC Biosciences. If the subsidy covers the peer-review, editing, and publishing --which is not clear--, then why is the trickle of revenue for access after six months worth the lost usage and impact?
Universities UK has endorsed the RCUK open-access policy. Unfortunately the links to its statement and press release are both dead at the moment. (Assume the problem is temporary and try them later.)
Meantime, you can get a sense of the organization's position from a BBC news story, Call for free access to research, September 7, 2005. Excerpt:
In a position statement, Universities UK supports moves to broaden access away from subscription-based journals and - more recently - [subscription-based] websites. The organisation argues that such academic material is vital to national productivity and well-being. Its intervention is the latest in a long-running debate about the public accessiblity of research findings. Universities UK says freeing up research would also increase the number of times it is cited by other academics - which in turn boosts researchers' claims to funding....The president of Universities UK, Professor Drummond Bone, said: "Publicly funded research undertaken in UK universities lies at the heart of a productive economy, as well as supporting the physical, social and cultural health of the nation. "Ensuring that the main outputs of research - ideas and knowledge - are disseminated widely is vitally important. "Universities UK supports moves by the research community and publishers to develop new publishing models that are based on the principle that research outcomes should be disseminated and freely accessed as widely as possible."...The universities say the subscription-based system of scholarly communication has served the research community well in the past but "now operates at a sub-optimal level". A key problem has been rapidly increasing journal prices - up 58% between 1998 and 2003, compared with a general inflation rate of 11%. Developments in electronic publishing have made possible a fundamental change, they argue. In a report last year, the House of Commons science and technology committee also called for publicly-funded research to be made freely available online in archived digital information banks....Universities UK says [non-profit learned societies] play a crucial role and the effect of any change on them should be monitored closely. But it says there are sustainable ways forward, probably involving a mixture of the current system and new ways of doing things, such as having those who fund the research meet the publication costs.
Total Cardboard is a two-year old Australian publisher that has started to publish open-access books. From the press release (after noting the controversy over Google's book-scanning project):
But at a deeper level, the very existence of Google’s project only highlights the fact that traditional publishers have failed to address the possibility of digitally distributing literature. Meanwhile, a few of the more progressive publishers are taking up the challenge, and making their own moves to put literary content online. According to John Mansfield, webmaster for the avant-garde small press Total Cardboard Publishing, ‘Most of the book publishers have basically ignored the possibilities of the web. I think they’re ignoring it because they’re happy with how their business is running, and a little bit afraid of losing control of their publications. But if you keep ignoring it you’re just going to get left out. You can’t stop the future.’ In this spirit, Total Cardboard has now established an ‘Online Reading Room’, where many of their publications are available in full as web pages. Asked if he is afraid that people will not buy their books when they can read them free online, Mansfield says ‘No, not really. Physical books still have something special to offer that will never be superseded by the internet, as far as I can see. We just see the Online Reading Room as a way for more people to be able to read our publications. If anything, I think it might increase sales, by increasing exposure.’
Danny Sullivan, Legal Experts Say Google Library Digitization Project Likely OK; Will It Revolve Around Snippets? Search Engine Watch, September 7, 2005. Excerpt:
Courts Unlikely To Stop Google Book Copying from InternetWeek has legal experts saying that copyright law over indexing books appears to be on Google's side....My favorite part:"If copyright law worked the way Google would like to see it working, then everyone in the world would be able to use the material unless the copyright holder explicitly told them not to, and even then it would be OK," says Allan Adler, the vice president for legal and government affairs for the Association of American Publishers. "That would be a very strange copyright system."As I've said before, that's exactly how things currently work with web indexing. The Association Of American Publishers doesn't appear to have minded Google indexing nearly 800 pages from the site over the years without permission, all of which have copyright protection. But books apparently are different....[S]ay I'm looking for a particular fact. I search for a book using Google Print. I find that there's a book that appears to match, but since the publisher hasn't given Google what I'd call "display" permission as opposed to "indexing" permission, I can't see the answer. Harm? Hard to show. Benefit? Easier to show. I didn't know this book might have an answer I needed. Now I do, and I might go get it.
A UK-based Open Rights Group launched on September 6. From the site:
The Open Rights Group is committed to protecting your digital rights, to fighting bad legislation both in the UK and Europe, and to fostering a grassroots community of volunteers dedicated to campaigning on digital rights issues. Your civil and human rights are being eroded in the digital realm. Government, big business and industry bodies are taking liberties with your digital liberties, actions they could never get away with in the "real" world. Our goals are:  to raise awareness within the media of digital rights abuses,  to provide a media clearinghouse, connecting journalists with experts and activists,  to campaign to preserve and extend traditional civil liberties in the digital world,  to collaborate with other digital rights and related organisations,  to nurture and assist a community of campaigning volunteers, from grassroots activists to technical and legal experts.
Mark Chillingworth, JISC cash fuels philosophy for Stanford, Information World Review, September 8, 2005. Excerpt:
Funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) will keep the Stanford Enclyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) online as an Open Access resource to universities in the UK. Initial funding for SEP ended in July 2005 and Stanford University has been asking the academic library community to contribute to keeping SEP Open Access. SEP is an electronic encyclopedia, which can be constantly updated, unlike print publications. In the 10 years since launch, SEP has become a leading resource for academic users. Stanford University is unwilling to approach a commercial publisher to manage SEP, believing they will drive-up the cost of maintaining the encyclopedia.
Mary Waltham, Learned Society Open Access Business Models, JISC, June 2005. The document says "Confidential" more than once, but it was announced on a public list (JISC-Development, September 7) and the file itself is OA on the public web. Excerpt:
Higher education is not in a position to provide the injection of funds required to pay for increased print and online publishing costs as the volume of the research literature grows. For these reasons alternative models for publishing peer-reviewed research are required since existing business models for the scholarly communications system which rely most heavily on subscription fees paid by institutions are becoming unsustainable. Open Access business models have been widely promoted within the scholarly publishing community as the basis for transforming and resolving the funding problems of the communication of research, however precise data on revenues and costs of publishing peer-reviewed journals in print and online have been difficult to access....The focus of this study is an in-depth exploration of nine learned society journal business and pricing models in the context of their societies and the Open Access business model (See Section 2). Eight of the publishers are based in the UK and one in the USA. The study considers whether and how OA can be adapted by the representative sample of STM publishers who agreed to participate in the study by providing full circulation, revenue and cost data for 2002-2004 inclusive....The average cost per article for print and online publication (See Section 4) for all 13 journals in 2004 was £1,447 and per page was £144 but this average covers a broad range including one journal that is online only....Average revenue per article for all 13 journals in 2004 was £1,918 and per page was £194....The key requirements for a society journal business model to be financially sustainable are identified. These include covering costs and returning a modest surplus to re-invest in innovation and ongoing support structures such as new content and functionality, and archiving of existing content. The [upfront funding] OA model as currently construed is unlikely to meet all of these needs....The Open Access business model is attractive in principle to each of the publishers who participated in the study but there was deep concern expressed over the financial sustainability of a switch to this model across the board....Two key features seem most likely to influence the uptake of OA by authors as customers and publishers as service providers. Firstly, are articles that are OA from first publication cited, read and integrated into research more, and more rapidly than subscription-only access articles? Secondly, does an open access journal receive more high quality submissions than a competing subscription-based journal?
Sue Sparks, JISC Disciplinary Differences Report, JISC, August 3, 2005. Excerpt:
19. In terms of the single most essential resource, what stands out is the importance of journal articles for the medical and biological sciences; the importance of e-prints (pre and post) in the physical sciences and engineering; the broader mix in social sciences and the particular importance of books in languages and area studies....22. Most respondents in three of the five main groupings did not report problems in gaining access to research resources. Lack of reported problems was correlated with the availability of a research assistant of some kind, and this was more likely in the sciences. 23. However, in two of the five groupings, a majority reported problems and in the rest the minority was large. 24. The main problems were in gaining access to journals, conference proceedings, books and databases....35. Up to a quarter of researchers (with the highest percentages in social sciences and arts and humanities) do not know their copyright position in relation to journals or books. 36. The overwhelming majority of researchers in all disciplines do not know if their university has an institutional repository. 37. There is slightly higher awareness of subject-based repositories and this varied significantly between groups, with physical scientists having the greatest awareness. 38. Depositing behaviour among those that are aware of repositories varied considerably with half of physical scientists depositing routinely in the IR against 18% of medical and biological scientists. The highest proportion of respondents depositing in subject archives was also among physical scientists (44%) but the lowest was in arts and humanities. 39. There is a high level of awareness of current debates about open access across the board. 40. The majority of researchers in all disciplines favour research funding bodies mandating self-archiving.
Jonathan Band, The Google Print Library Project: A Copyright Analysis, apparently a preprint, n.d. After a detailed analysis of the four factors of fair use under U.S. law, Band concludes that Google's scanning of copyrighted books is lawful. Excerpt:
Stepping back from the technicalities of the four fair use factors, it becomes clear that the Print Library Project is similar to the everyday activities of Internet search engines. A search engine firm sends out software “spiders” that crawl publicly accessible websites and copy vast quantities of data into the search engine’s database. As a practical matter, each of the major search engine companies copies a large (and increasing) percentage of the entire World Wide Web every few weeks to keep the database current and comprehensive. When a user issues a query, the search engine searches the websites stored in its database for relevant information. The response provided to the user typically contains links both to the original site as well as to the “cache” copy of the website stored in the search engine’s database. Significantly, the search engines conduct this vast amount of copying without the express permission of the website authors. Rather, the search engine firms believe that the fair use doctrine permits their activities. In other words, the billions of dollars of market capital represented by the search engine companies are based primarily on the fair use doctrine....Moreover, authors are aware that an ever increasing percentage of students and businesses conduct research primarily, if not exclusively, online. Thus, if books cannot be searched online, many users will never locate them. The Print Library Project is predicted upon the assumption the authors generally want their books to be included in the search database so that readers can find them. But if a copyright owner does not want Google to scan her book, Google will honor her request. Contrary to the AAP’s assertion, this opt-out feature does not turn “every principle of copyright law on its ear.” Rather, it is a reasonable implementation of a program based on fair use.
Matthew Hirsch, Commons cause, San Francisco Bay Guardian, September 7-13, 2005. Excerpt:
Techies are forging some strange alliances to enlarge the public domain....A Wal-Mart representative came to Berkeley last month as an envoy of culture and democracy. Seriously. In a federal hearing that could help determine the future availability of art and literature to the public, a Wal-Mart rep named Joe Lisuzzo called on Congress to rewrite copyright law so that more creative works can enter the public domain. Specifically, Lisuzzo and Wal-Mart are pushing the government to change the way it deals with "orphan works," which are described by the US Copyright Office as "copyrighted works whose owners are difficult or even impossible to locate." Orphan works can be literally anything from an old film clip to a line of computer code to a haiku scribbled on the back of a napkin. As the law stands, anyone who wants to reproduce an orphan work or tweak it into some novel creation (à la sound collagists Negativland) has to hunt down the copyright holder for permission or risk getting sued. At the Aug. 2 hearing, held in a conference room at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall law school, Lisuzzo encouraged the feds to make it easier for folks to use orphan works. Talk about strange bedfellows: In this particular battle Wal-Mart is on the same side as librarians, intellectuals, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an activist group that spends much of its time wrangling with big corporations....So why the hell is Wal-Mart involved in this discussion?...Lisuzzo says the company is itching to make copies of old photos for customers but can't do so unless the customers can prove they own the rights to those pics. "We're in a situation as a retailer where we'd like to do nothing more than take their money, but we can't because of our policy and the law," Lisuzzo testified at the Berkeley hearing.
ERIC, the gigantic and venerable database of OA research in education, has added new content for the school year. Excerpt from the announcement: 'ERIC is pleased to announce the availability of a substantial amount of new 2004 and 2005 content. Highlights of this content addition include approximately 20,000 new records for users to search, more than 10,000 bibliographic journal records from more than 300 current journals, and over 1000 ERIC documents (most documents and some journal articles are available in full text). To provide access to as much new material as possible, ERIC has included more than 9000 journal records that have been acquired, but only partially processed. These records provide searchers with useful information even though abstracting and indexing work is not complete. All of these partial records will be fully processed in the near future. You can identify a partial record by the yellow tag indicating "In Progress" under the title in the search results. Please continue to visit as new content will continue to be added on a weekly basis throughout the year.'
At least for OA content, will OA indexing services outperform conventional, priced indexing services? Here's one symptom and comment from Outsell Now, the blog of Outsell Inc. Excerpt from a September 6 posting:
Blog search engine Technorati has introduced a new "Blog Finder" service. In contrast to its main search index, which allows users to search individual blog posts, this allows users to search for blogs that deal with specific subjects. The indexing system is based in part on the tags that individual bloggers apply to their posts and blogs – meta-data about content provided directly by authors....The blog and RSS worlds are ripe for the kind of enhancements that organize and make finding and using blogs and feeds more efficient. Just as magazines and journals spawned an abstracting and indexing (A&I) industry to help people find stuff, blogs are now getting their own tools. This time, however, the relief is coming not from the traditional A&I publishers; they seem to have left the room. Thousands of students will enter universities this fall unfamiliar with the traditional abstracting and indexing tools used to find information in their fields, but many will be intimately familiar with the way tech-based solutions such as Google News and Technorati are organizing vast content domains. Many information industry companies have ceded territory to tech-based interlopers by not getting there first.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has put together a collection of links to OA information on human, animal, and environmental health for survivors and rescuers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The Bureau of Intergovernmental Council for UNESCO's Information for All Program will meet in Paris, September 14-16, 2005. From today's press release:
Among the issues that will be addressed by the Bureau are the situation of the IFAP Special Fund, a visibility plan for IFAP, the dissemination and use of the “Policy Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Governmental Public Domain Information”, the preparation of the Programme and Budget of the Organization for 2006-2007 and the participation of UNESCO in the forthcoming second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society....The Information for All Programme was established in 2001 to foster debate on the political, ethical and societal challenges of the emerging global knowledge society and to carry out projects promoting equitable access to information. It reflects the growing awareness that information is playing an increasing role in generating wealth and development, and that participation in the "global knowledge society" is essential for social and individual development.
Physiological Genomics is changing its OA policy for 2006. Currently PG uses an author-choice hybrid model. Authors of accepted articles who pay a $1500 processing fee get open access and needn't pay page or color charges; authors who don't pay the fee get traditional toll access. Starting January 1, 2006, the OA processing fee will go down to $750, but authors who want OA will also have to pay the full complement of page and color charges. It's not clear whether or how often the total tab will exceed $1500. PG is published by the American Physiological Society. (Thanks to Matt Cockerill.)
The Boston Library Consortium has adopted an Agreement to Extend Author’s Rights (available in Word or PDF formats) and plans to use it on member campuses to educate faculty about their rights and help them retain the rights they need to authorize OA. Like the SPARC Author's Addendum, the Agreement is a carefully drafted amendment to a standard copyright transfer agreement. (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)
Excerpt from the Agreement: 'The parties agree that wherever there is any conflict between this Amendment and the Publication Agreement, the provisions of this Amendment are paramount and the Publication Agreement shall be construed accordingly....Once the Article has been published by Publisher, the Author shall also have all the non-exclusive rights necessary to make, or to authorize others to make, the final published version of the Article available in digital form over the Internet, including but not limited to a website under the control of the Author or the Author’s employer or through any digital repository, such as MIT’s DSpace or the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central database.'
Excerpt from the BLC announcement: 'The agreement [was] initially developed by MIT, a Consortium member....This tool will be used by member libraries to raise author awareness on their respective campuses. This document, offered as an attachment, will provide an easy way for authors to secure their rights. The BLC will work with its members to encourage use of this document. Board President Cathy Norton notes: “This will show our solidarity with our authors and help them gain control of their intellectual property rights in the digital library. The Consortium’s adoption of this agreement demonstrates to libraries and publishers that we care about the output of our institutions by preserving it at the local level and making it openly accessible for students and researchers.” The Consortium is an association of 19 academic and research libraries founded in 1970. Members include: Boston College, Boston Public Library, Boston University, Brandeis University, Brown University, MIT, Marine Biological Lab/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Northeastern University, State Library of Massachusetts, Tufts University, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, University of Massachusetts Boston, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, University of Massachusetts Lowell, and University of Massachusetts Medical Center, University of Connecticut, University of New Hampshire, Wellesley College, and Williams College.'
Electronic Publishing Services (EPS) has launched an online debate on this question: Google and the Book Publishers: Is the Age of Search bringing exciting new opportunities for publishers, or is it the beginning of the end? Unlike most other EPS initiatives, this one is OA. The first contribution (and so far, the only one) is from Adam Hodgkin, founder of xrefer. I won't excerpt all coming contributions, but I'll kick things off by excerpting Adam's:
Google Print is a brilliant vision of how the world of books can bloom and enrich our lives in the 21st century, and Google has the commitment, the technology platform and perhaps the cash to make it happen....This is a very big picture: the Google vision is that ALL printed literature should be searchable on the web and available for strictly limited inspection and for unlimited consultation and free reading in the case of out of copyright books. All books should be searchable in this system, but many of them will not be at all readable through Google Print. Free reading will be available for out of copyright books and in the case of books which the author and publisher wish to see freely available....The Google Print vision is not necessarily a vision of Open Access, it is a programme for improved access. The web is being used as an index and a guide to available literature. We may also hope that Google (and its competitors) will develop sufficiently strong advertising revenues, to be shared with publishers and authors, so that more in-copyright titles will become available for free (electronic, advertiser supported) reading, but that is another matter and the subject of another discussion between Google and the publishers and rights holders. Whether Google Print will be a massive jolt in the direction of Open Access mainly depends on the extent to which advertising can become a primary source of revenue for published materials. This is an interesting but subsidiary question the answer to which we will find out in due course....The pronouncements of official spokespersons of the publishing industry put me in mind of medieval monks declaiming “Of course books should remain chained: they are precious, too valuable to be let loose, the library is the best place to read a book, and Canon Law says that they should remain in the library”....The initial reaction of many librarians has been much more welcoming and positive, which is perplexing when you think about it, because it would seem that the traditional role of the librarian is much more threatened by Google Print than is the publisher....These are ‘red line’ issues, but I have not mentioned the publishers putative Maginot line – our ultimate deterrent: a prohibition on scanning. For it is simply that a Maginot line: it may deter Google Print for Libraries, but it is a fixed line of defence with no value in the mobile action and strategy of a web economy....Google Print will work and it will be good for authors, publishers, readers, and even for librarians but as we noted the librarians ‘got’ the web a long time ago. They know that there will be even more need for librarians if the web becomes our primary library. Ditto for publishers. At least it will mean that we no longer have the mildly disagreeable task of putting books ‘out of print’. Google Print can look after the long tail, whilst we concentrate on growing a new one.
David Utter, Google Print Probably Legal, WebProNews, September 5, 2005. Excerpt:
Copyright practice isn't copyright law, and the latter seems to be on Google's side even though publisher interests claim otherwise. Once November rolls around, Pat Schroeder and her Association of American Publishers will either have to file a lawsuit or back down....Legal experts quoted by InformationWeek think the public good of the project, coupled with existing "fair use" doctrines, will work in Google's favor. The fair use angle will probably be the hinge upon which the case turns....It could even get a bit worse for publishers with regards to out-of-print works. Google could potentially partner with a print-on-demand company to deliver copies of books publishers no longer produce. Revenue would be split between Google, the printer, and the author; the publishers receive zero.
The presentations from the IFLA meeting, Open access: the option for the future!? (Oslo, August 13, 2005), are now online.
Heather Morrison, Open Access: For Maximum Value, Share With All, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, September 5, 2005. Excerpt:
One of the reasons why open access to the scholarly research articles just makes sense is because much of the research is funded by taxpayer dollars. At first glance, it might appear to make sense to provide access only to the taxpayers in your own country. However, there is a very special quality about scholarly knowledge; it gains in value the more it is used....For example, if people in a neighbouring country read what our researchers have learned about how to protect or repair the environment, there is a good chance that the winds and waters that cross our borders will be a little cleaner....Let's say our goal is to cure a particular type of cancer. We fund some research on the topic. We give away the results. A researcher in another country reads the results, and conducts more research. By sharing our research results openly, we have in effect expanded the research team - at no additional cost to our own taxpayers. Open sharing leverages the tax dollars, so that what we invest in research yields more - for everyone, including for us. By sharing the results openly with all, we all move forwards to the cure for that type of cancer just a little faster....The mapping of the human genome occured in record speed, precisely because researchers in many countries shared their knowledge openly, and worked collaboratively.
Fakir Balaji, Indian classical treasure-trove goes digital, Hindustan Times, August 30, 2005. (Thanks to LIS News.) Excerpt:
A million rare manuscripts, palm leaves, copper plates and age-old classical literature are to be digitised under a project jointly undertaken by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the Indian ministry of communications and information technology. CMU will provide proprietary software and hardware to the Digital Library of India (DLI) for $5 million. "In collaboration with the SV Digital Library (SVDL) of the Tirumula Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), we have started scanning as many manuscripts, palm leaves and age-old books to host them on our portals in digitised form," CMU director Kiran Kumar told IANS. "We have scanned about 130,000 documents from 31 digital centres across the country. The target is to reach about a million mark by 2008 so as to preserve our rich cultural heritage for posterity," he added. Using the latest technology, the DLI has also roped in academic experts to translate and document the hoary literary material from 14 digital centres in southern India and upload it on its web sites for browsing by the public free of cost.
JISC has announced PerX, the latest project in the JISC Digital Repositories Programme. From the press release (September 5):
The Pilot Engineering Repository Xsearch project - PerX - will look at the potential usefulness of a subject-based approach to digital repository resource discovery and develop a pilot service to provide subject resource discovery across a series of repositories of interest to the engineering learning and research communities. This pilot will then be used as a test-bed to explore the practical issues that would be encountered by a full-scale subject resource discovery service. Maintenance issues will be measured, end-user attitudes will be analysed, and various sustainability models for possible future fully fledged subject-based services will be investigated. Digital repository work within engineering is not well supported compared with other disciplines, and uptake and usage of digital repositories by the engineering community has been disappointingly slow. The findings of the Project will help to understand why this is the case. Advocacy materials will be produced which are expected to improve the situation. Although it is concerned specifically with engineering information, the findings of the project are also likely to be of interest to those involved in digital repositories in other subject areas.
The Institutional Repositories & Research Assessment (IRRA) project has added a useful "about" page. Excerpt:
Research assessment is a complex activity involving decisions made by researchers, research managers, administrators, institutional committees, and Vice Chancellors. The final submissions will be transmitted through a set of web services to HEFCE, collated and passed on to 25 discipline-specific panels, who then need to refer back to the evidence originally submitted by the individual researchers to be able to form their judgements. The process by which six years of research output for each institution are selected to field the strongest possible set of submissions across a whole institution will involve a complex set of political and pragmatic trade-offs, informed by what-if analyses of the submissions and complicated by the need to second-guess the criteria of the various assessment panels. An Institutional Repository (IR), as a managed collection of its institution's research outputs clearly has a place to play in at least part of this process, however it is played out.
The HyperJournal project has released HyperJournal 0.4 RC1, the first release candidate of the open-source software for OAI-compliant journal management. From the site: 'If everything goes well we will release a stable release, wich will be suitable for production use, near the end of september 2005.'
Richard Monastersky, Online Journal Will Cover Physics-Education Research, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 9, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
Researchers who study physics education have come of age. The nascent field has at times met ignorance and outright hostility within the larger world of physics, but the American Physical Society is launching a journal this month devoted to the topic. Physical Review Special Topics -- Physics Education Research will be an open-access journal, published only online. The Physical Review series contains some of the most respected publications in the discipline, so the new publication will help lend some credibility to physics-education research, says its editor, Robert J. Beichner, a professor of physics at North Carolina State University. "The field is seeing it as a sign that we've grown up and we're now in the big leagues," he says. The new journal represents an experiment for the society, which has never before published an open-access publication that requires authors to pay production costs. The society has one other open-access electronic journal, but its costs are supported by large accelerator laboratories. Authors in the new journal will have to pay $700 per article, plus an additional charge depending on its length. But financially strapped scientists need not worry. The journal has received grants totaling $20,000 a year to pay for papers when authors cannot meet the publication costs. Like most scientific-journal publishers, the physical society is trying to navigate through the new open-access world. Martin Blume, the society's editor in chief, says the new journal is "in keeping with my mantra, which follows the instructions on a bottle of spot remover: 'Try first on an obscure part of the garment, where you can tell if it works and you can tell if it does any damage,' which is a good rule in this business."
Richard Monastersky, ArXiv Creates Archived Comment System, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 9, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
Compared with scholars in other academic fields, physicists have a reputation for forging ahead in the digital landscape. The World Wide Web came out of a particle-physics lab, and physicists pioneered the concept of making scientific papers freely available to all. For more than a decade, physicists have been posting their manuscripts on a public database, known as ArXiv, even before they submit the work to journals for publication. Now the same preprint site, hosted by the Cornell University Library, is taking another leap forward: creating an archived comment system to accompany the papers. The process works like this: A physicist with a blog writes about a particular paper in ArXiv and links to that paper. Using a protocol called TrackBacks, the blogger's Web site sends a notification, or a "ping," to the ArXiv site, which then provides a link to the blog next to an abstract of the original paper. Now anybody who examines a paper on ArXiv can read what others have written about it. In theory the process will promote a more free-flowing exchange of ideas among scientists. In the past, physicists would react to papers by talking in hallways or writing formal responses. The new process allows them to offer "quicker feedback that wouldn't necessarily otherwise propagate very widely," says Jacques J. Distler, a professor of physics at the University of Texas at Austin. He has lobbied for such a system for years in conversations with Paul Ginsparg, a professor of physics at Cornell who started ArXiv in 1991 and now serves as an adviser. Mr. Ginsparg asked the library staff at Cornell to enable TrackBacks, which they did late last month. Most of the comments on ArXiv so far appear to come from Mr. Distler. Only a handful of physicists have blogs and can take advantage of the option right now, he says. But he expects more to follow as they learn about the feature. The system won't allow just anybody to comment on papers. "We imagine that blogs associated to professional physicists, or other professional academics in other fields, will be permitted," says Mr. Ginsparg in an e-mail message. The ArXiv software is set up to reject TrackBacks from anonymous sites. "The aim, as ever, is to avoid anything remotely resembling Usenet-newsgroup-type free-for-alls," he writes.
(PS: Instead of merely saying that ArXiv supports comments, we could say that ArXiv has taken the first step toward supporting open peer commentary or retroactive peer review.)
Open Access, Salt Lake Tribune, September 5, 2005. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
The University of Utah is working to give the public access to new research, often taxpayer-funded, without hefty subscription costs.  The Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences and J. Willard Marriott Libraries are building a free Internet repository for U. studies. Because many publishers have relaxed copyright laws, researchers also can store their final manuscripts in the electronic archive.  The libraries have purchased memberships in open access journals, to encourage U. researchers to publish in them.  The Eccles Library encourages [NIH-funded] faculty to submit electronic versions of their final manuscripts to PubMed Central, published by the National Library of Medicine, which releases research after publication.
(PS: On the first of these: It's not in the power of publishers to relax copyright laws. For preprint archiving, no publisher cooperation is required. For postprint archiving, publishers have relaxed their demands in the copyright transfer agreement.)
The four presentations from the AHRC meeting, E-Publishing: Research Strategy Seminar on E-Publishing in the Arts and Humanities (London, May 24, 2005), are now online. The meeting focus was on OA publishing and OA archiving.
Tim Poulus, Open access publishing close to a new milestone, Communications Breakdown, September 5, 2005. A summary of the RCUK draft OA policy and the debate surrounding it, with some thoughts about its consequences. Excerpt:
How is this relevant? If the RCUK pushes ahead, which I expect it will, publishers like Elsevier Science have two options: continue the way they do and hope things will blow over, or (partially) adopt open access publishing themselves (like Springer and Blackwell). I believe open archiving poses an equal threat, because of the advent of Google Scholar (which still needs a lot of work). As soon as the majority of grant giving societies adopt open access publishing, scientists will be forced away from prestigious journals like the ones Elsevier Science owns. As of October 1 open access will get a boost from both the RCUK and the Wellcome Trust....Growth of open access [journals] and open archiving threaten traditional publishers because they could be either substituted (if they fail to act) or they will see their margins plummet (if they adopt the new model themselves, partially or wholly).
Comment. One quibble. If Tim is saying that the trend represented by the RCUK will "force [authors] away from prestigious journals", then I can't agree. The funding agencies are encouraging or requiring deposit in OA archives, not submission to OA journals. OA archiving is compatible with publishing in non-OA journals. In fact, about 80% of non-OA journals already allow their authors to deposit their postprints in OA archives.
UNESCO has posted a brief summary of the presentation by Koïchiro Matsuura, UNESCO's Director-General, at the workshop, Creating the Information Commons for e-Science (Paris, September 1-2, 2005). (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.) Excerpt:
Mr Matsuura located UNESCO’s engagement with the theme of the Workshop in the context of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process, informing the participants of UNESCO’s strategic emphasis on building knowledge societies and “how certain principles can best be operationalized, namely, freedom of expression; respect for cultural and linguistic diversity; universal access to information; and equal access to quality education for all.”...[T]he Director-General highlighted “the interdependency between sharing technological and scientific knowledge and accelerating development”, and the importance of universal access. He said that, following the Geneva phase of the WSIS, UNESCO is stressing the need to translate agreed principles into concrete action, including the area of e-Science. It supports the search to find new ways of using technology to facilitate access and to build new models for sharing scientific information through networks, the development of standards and metadata, and online repositories (the “information commons”). “We recognize that sharing digital scientific information and data has an important role to play in the building of knowledge societies,” said the Director-General, adding that “we are prepared to take responsibility for coordinating multi-stakeholder implementing teams dealing with the Action Lines that fall within UNESCO’s competency such as science.” Noting that the Workshop “anticipates the Action Lines of the WSIS Plan of Action”, the Director-General welcomed its “practical, policy-oriented and experienced-based approach”, an orientation “which is exactly right at this juncture for addressing the challenges we face.”