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Russell McOrmond, Open Access to State-Collected Geospatial Data, a blog posting, September 17, 2005. A call to Canadians to follow the US in providing OA to geospatial data. Excerpt:
While the Government of Canada should not have copyright at all, there are some specific types of works that should at least be released in a liberal copyright license. One example is state-collected geospatial data. There is a electronic petition hosted by the Open Knowledge Foundation Network (OKFN) that states that state-collected geodata should be openly available to citizens. I believe that Canadians need to include this issue in letters that they write politicians so that they recognize that reform (or abolishing) of Crown Copyright needs to be part of the shorter-term copyright issues to be dealt with. This issue has a personal side to me. The Masters Thesis of a close friend, Charles LaPierre, was a Personal Navigation System for the Visually Impaired. This involved the use of a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, a computer that did voice synthesis, and a software and map that could tell visually impaired people where they were. The existence of Crown Copyright, as well as the excessive costs and conservative licensing of government owned data, made doing this project far less feasible in Canada than in the United States. While there are many different reasons for a brain-drain of entrepreneurial Canadians to the US, it is important for Canadians to realize that Crown Copyright is one of those causes.
(PS: I encourage OAN readers to sign the OKFN petition. For more details, see my blog posting on it from August 21.)
Joanne Yeomans has posted a summary of yesterday's meeting at CERN, Open meeting on the changing publishing model (Geneva, September 16, 2005). Excerpt:
CERN today [Sept 16] took another step to advance its OA policy by holding a meeting of authors and key managers within the institution to discuss the different publishing business models. The aim was to consider the alternative systems for the publication of its future results in OA journals. Since nearly 80% of its own results are already available as OA copies in its institutional repository, recent policy at CERN has focused on OA publishing.
Bioline International (BI) has a grant from the Open Society Institute to incorporate 10 more OA bioscience and health journals from developing countries into the BI system. From today's announcement:
[S]cientific publishers from developing countries have difficulties raising the visibility of their journal publications, due to various financial and technical constraints. However, publishers increasingly understand the great value of open access as a way to incorporate local research into the mainstream knowledge base. Already, over 40 peer-reviewed journals are collaborating with BI, and for many publications, document downloads have increased by ten-fold as a result. In addition, one of the journals on the system reports a substantial increase in submission rates and a three-fold increase in citation impact over a three year period. Several publishers also report that the number of international authors submitting manuscripts to their journals has been steadily increasing, indicating that researchers now recognize and value the increased visibility and impact provided by open access. Journal publishers interested in providing open access to their publications should make contact with BI and submit [this form].
Learned societies argue open access depletes research funds, Research Fortnight, September 14, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
Learned societies have warned that the open access policy proposed by Research Councils UK this summer threatens to close journals and deprive societies of income for grants and other research activity. RCUK proposed, in June, that researchers funded by the research councils should be required to place resulting articles in either institutional or disciplinary repositories after a delay agreed with the publisher. Although the policy respects copyright, publishers are concerned that the large amount of information in repositories will mean libraries will not need journal subscriptions....Sally Morris, chief executive of ALPSP, told Research Fortnight researchers will not always respect embargo periods for journals, and that RCUK is “suggesting strongly to authors that it will be endeavouring to persuade publishers to reduce or eliminate them”. “At the very least we would want them to come out much more clearly and strongly in support of whatever embargo a publisher finds necessary to defend its journal,” Morris said. The Institute of Physics has already seen article downloads from its site diminish for journals whose content is substantially replicated in a repository, says ALPSP. Advocates of the open access model have criticised the learned societies’ stance, arguing repositories have been delayed long enough. Stevan Harnad from the Department of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, and a member the group who submitted a response to RCUK, said last week that there was already a “peaceful co-existence” between societies and the self-archiving research community in physics. But even if self-archiving does cause cancellations of journal subscriptions, it should be done regardless, he says. “Research is being done for the sake of research impact and progress, not for the sake of earning revenue for publishers, whether learned societies or not,” he said. Universities UK, which represents all the country’s universities, is supporting moves towards open access....RCUK is analysing responses and will be talking with learned societies, universities and libraries before it makes its final decision on repositories next year.
Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, has published a short list of criteria for scientists picking a journal in which to publish their work. Of course the list mentions niche, scope, peer review, impact factor, and turnaround time. But it also mentions OA journals and permission for OA archiving. Excerpt:
A researcher should also consider the number and location of people who will have access to his or her work. This can involve checking whether the circulation is national, regional or international; whether the journal is print only, print & online or online only; and where the journal is indexed. Open access journals are beginning to gain acceptance as an alternative to traditional, subscription-based journals, some of which now offer open access themselves after a restricted period. In some instances, the author must pay a publication charge, particularly for open access journals or the inclusion of color figures. However, author fees for manuscripts originating in developing and transitional countries can often be waived or sponsored by another organization....Finally, a factor that is growing in importance is the copyright/archiving policy of the journal. Now that search engines are increasingly capable of finding articles in online archives, it is important to consider whether the journal permits archiving pre-prints and/or post-prints in personal or institutional online repositories.
Pat Kane, Google Print: commonwealth or enclosure? EPS, September 13, 2005. Part of the EPS debate on the Google book-scanning project. Excerpt:
We live in strange times - when massively capitalised corporations like Google share the ambition of the most idealistic librarian, and the most utopian writer, to make the 'republic of letters' a genuine reality. Yet we can't just expect one strong player to make for a truly healthy and energetic game; others have to play their part....As a publicly listed corporation, Google has to partly think like a great municipal library. We're facing a real mutation of the standard economic model - or perhaps an addition to it, an "economics of sharing", in the words of Yochai Benkler - if they can do so successfully....I think most writers would respect the need for a tapered and gradual de-commodification of published works - some initially saleable product at a profitable rate, some period in which this gradually lowers in price, and then a return of the work to 'the digital commons', in which the work becomes part of the collective resource of a creative society. It's this trajectory that we need to defend against Google's potential mendacity - the 'act of evil' that attenuates fair usage, and extends copyrights, in ways that damage and dry up creative wellsprings. (To be fair to them, that's not their current rhetoric. But companies with quarterly market reports are not always the most consistent of creatures)....My dream is that there is actually a golden age of active, passionate readers and writers awaiting its moment - if we can get the cultural and commercial ecologies balanced properly. I think we may well entrust too much to a publicly-listed company to allow the 'digital republic of letters' to be rendered as 'Google Print for Publishers or Libraries'. But I shudder to think of the prospect of book houses becoming as glint-eyed about the pay-per-view possibilities of digital reading as record companies have been about digital listening....It's important that writers, readers and publishers come up with their own...vision that might help these world-inheriting geeks to enrich and extend our culture, rather than constrain and enclose it.
Philip Jones, ALPSP calls for 'urgent' Google meeting, Information World Review, September 16, 2005. Excerpt:
Sally Morris, chief executive of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), has warned Google that its "temporary concession" not to scan copyright protected texts held in libraries was "still not enough" and has called on the giant search engine to hold an "urgent meeting" with representatives of all major publishing organisations, in order to work out a " realistic --and legal-- way forward", reports the Bookseller. She said that the ALPSP, which represents not-for-profit publishers, had advised its members that they should consider excluding all their publications, after Google said that publishers could opt-out individual titles. "We are also recommending (as suggested by Google themselves) that publishers can protect both in- and out-of-copyright print and electronic works by placing them in the Google Print for Publishers program instead." Morris' statement was part of a submission to a debate on traditional publishing in the "age of search", organised by the Publishers Association and Electronic Publishing Services (EPS)....Google, which is holding off scanning further copyright protected books until November, has claimed that its procedures do not infringe copyright protection. Morris disputed this: "We can see no possible argument that this is legal for works that are still in copyright; making digital copies of many thousands of copyright works in their entirety (and by a commercial organisation for its own purposes) cannot conceivably qualify as Fair Use." She also described Google's claim of ownership of the digital file of the scanned-in text as "ominous". However, she added that publishers were seeing the benefits from the Google Print programme, which was done on an 'opt in' basis: "A number of ALPSP member publishers participate, and they have been pleased with the increased hits, though as far as I am aware, actual print sales have not increased dramatically."
Lucy Sherriff, Open access to research worth £1.5bn a year, The Register, September 16, 2005. Excerpt:
The UK is losing out on its investment in scientific research to the tune of £1.5bn every year, according to advocates of open access publishing. Professor Stevan Harnad from the University of Southampton argues that because of the tradition of locking the results of publicly funded research away in research journals, the scientific community is not as free to build on and develop ideas as it should be. He calculates that if all published work was self-archived (i.e. made available online, after publication in a journal), the research impact would be the equivalent of a further £1.5bn investment in UK science, every year....In related news, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is to publish a paper recommending that access to publicly funded research must be broadened, both nationally and internationally. It says that R&D and the use of research is important to economic growth, and argues that open access would help maximise the return on investment.
The ALPSP/Charlesworth awards for 2005 were announced yesterday. Two items were of OA interest.
Jimmy Leach, Open access failings 'cost UK £1.5bn', The Guardian, September 16, 2005. Excerpt:
The UK is losing around £1.5bn annually because of its failure to embrace open access publishing, according to an open access advocate. Stevan Harnad, of the American Scientist Open Access Forum and professor of cognitive science at the University of Southampton, has calculated the potential return on the investment in scientific research findings that are being lost to the UK each year through what he views as the limitations of the current academic publishing environment....Prof Harnad calculates the value on the basis of the number of times research is cited by other researchers, known as research impacts. He claims that citation impacts are being lost to the UK each year by the inaccessibility of research papers. He revealed today that at least £1.5bn could be made each year through research impacts if a universal policy of self-archiving was adopted. "This is actually a conservative estimate," said Prof Harnad. "It also takes no account of the much wider loss in revenue from potential usage and applications of UK research findings in the UK and worldwide, nor the still more general loss to the progress of human inquiry."
The September issue of D-Lib Magazine focuses on institutional repositories. Here are the OA-related articles.
Mark Chillingworth, Springer owners prepare for floatation, Information World Review, September 15, 2005. Excerpt:
Springer Science and Business Media, the German scientific, technical and medical (STM) publisher is being prepared for a stock market floatation in 2006 or 2007 by its two equity owner Candover and Cinven....A source close to Candover told IWR that the timetable is for 2007, but it could come earlier. Adding that the aim at present is to have Springer "in good shape for an IPO" (initial public offering) in 2007....Derk Haank, Springer CEO has introduced changes to Springer which have improved the financial position of the company. Haank was recruited from rivals Reed Elsevier....Springer recently recruited Jan Velterop as its internal advocate for its open access publishing model Springer Open Choice.
(PS: I like the implication that creating an internal director of open access is part of Springer's strategy for shaping up the company in preparation for its IPO.)
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is about to release a report on scientific publishing, with special attention to OA issues. The press release, issued today, gives a good sense of the report's conclusions:
The OECD study analyses scientific publishing's new business models, including open access publishing, open access archives and repositories, and subscription bundling and site-licensing, their impacts on science and diffusion of knowledge; and the role of governments in enhancing access to publicly funded research.
Here's an excerpt from the forthcoming report:
Public funding and funding agencies (including private agencies) are very important in R&D and related activities that generate research data, databases and scientific publications. Access to public and government-funded research content is a crucial issue, and there is considerable potential for governments to provide a lead in enabling digital delivery and enhanced access to publicly funded scientific and technical information. The principle is to enable maximum access to findings from publicly funded research to maximise social returns on public investments. This general approach is captured in the Declaration on Access to Research Data from Public Funding adopted by OECD Science Ministers meeting in January 2004, which recognised “that open access to, and unrestricted use of, data promotes scientific progress and facilitates the training of researchers” and “will maximise the value derived from public investments in data collection efforts”, and entrusted the OECD to work towards the establishment of access regimes for digital research data from public funding.
Update (9/17/05). The full report is now online. Thanks to Lawrence Lessig for posting it.
The Medical journals backfiles digitization project is approaching completion (first blogged here 6/28/04) but still has funding to digitize additional journals.
If a journal consents to participate, then the full-back run would become freely available on PubMed Central (in good company). Future issues would also have to be deposited in PMC, though research articles could be embargoed for 12 months and other content (like editorials and reviews) for up to three years. In exchange, the sponsors will pay all the costs of digitization and give the journal a copy of the digital files to host on its own server if it wishes. The sponsors will also take responsibility for migrating the files to new formats over time, as needed, to keep them readable.
Susan Morrissey, Database Deadlock, Chemical and Engineering News, September 14, 2005. Excerpt:
After months of high-level correspondence, the National Institutes of Health and the American Chemical Society do not appear to be any closer to finding a mutually acceptable agreement regarding the scope of the agency’s [open-access] chemical database PubChem, which ACS argues will duplicate its [toll-access] Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry. In an exchange of letters last month, ACS President William F. Carroll and NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni proposed possible options for an amenable solution that would allow NIH to retain the intent of the database while leveraging existing private-sector chemical databases. Neither side has yet to agree to the other’s proposal, although both sides tell C&EN they remain committed to working out a solution....In a push to have this public policy issue addressed, ACS has taken its case to Congress. And as Carroll notes, both the House and Senate appropriations bills include language that urges NIH to avoid unnecessary duplication and competition; he adds that “we believe our offer constitutes a good platform for doing so.” For its part, NIH has countered the ACS proposal with one of its own. The six-part plan includes an opportunity for CAS to work with NIH to “validate or assign registry numbers for all PubChem structures.” In return, NIH would provide “reasonable financial compensation.” Also in the proposed plan is the formation of a new working group of outside chemical information providers and users to advise NIH on PubChem’s development. NIH has already moved to set up such a group by issuing a Federal Register notice earlier this month (C&EN, Sept. 12, page 27).
Three UK library associations have publicly released their August 25 comment on the RCUK draft OA policy. Excerpt:
CURL, SCONUL and CILIP would like to express their support for the RCUK interim position statement on access to research outputs. We believe that the statement is a reasonable and balanced approach to current issues and has the potential to make significant improvements to research communication. We would urge RCUK to adopt the statement as its policy as soon as possible. We believe that the principles outlined in paragraph 3 of the position statement are an excellent summary of the key priorities for the major stakeholders in the research community....We welcome the requirement (in paragraph 14) to deposit work funded by Research Councils in open-access repositories....We note RCUK’s caution with regards to the viability of the open-access publication charge model of journal publishing (paragraphs 25-27). However, we welcome confirmation that the Research Councils are willing to fund such charges. Such a move is likely to allow more extensive testing of the model – something which is certainly required....[P]aragraph [14.b] has two potential ‘loopholes’ that will mean that some who oppose it will be able to prevent authors or institutions from complying with the requirement. The first problem relates to the phrase “subject to copyright or licensing arrangements”. This allows publishers simply to change their copyright transfer agreements in order to prevent deposition in e-print repositories. Although the majority of large publishers currently allow deposition, we have reason to believe that some are reviewing their position on this. The second problem relates to the phrase that “deposit should take place at the earliest opportunity, wherever possible at or around the time of publication, in accordance with copyright and licensing arrangements.” Since no timescale is specified for deposit, it will be possible for publishers to introduce embargoes on articles. Oxford University Press has recently introduced a general 12 month embargo and is currently considering a 24 month embargo for some of its titles. They can do this and still say that they are fully compliant with the RCUK policy. We have reliable information that other major publishers are also considering the introduction of lengthy embargoes. If embargoes were widely introduced then there would be little change in the public accessibility of research outputs despite the introduction of the RCUK policy....We believe that a reasonable timescale for deposit would be ‘as soon as possible but no later than three months after publication’ (bearing in mind that an article is often completed 12 months or more before it is actually published).
Living Reviews is evolving. It was initially created as a software platform for the launch of Living Reviews in Relativity from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute). The online journal editing/publishing platform, developed by the Max Planck Society of Germany, is in its 8th year of relativity publishing and 2nd year supporting solar physics. Now an effort is underway to launch the first non-physics Living Reviews journal, Living Reviews in European Governance. All of the Living Reviews titles are Open Access.
Living Reviews in Relativity - Fulltext v1+ (1997+); ISSN: 1433-8351.
Living Reviews in Solar Physics - Fulltext v1+ (2004+); ISSN: 1614-4961.
Living Reviews in European Governance - Fulltext forthcoming; ISSN: 1813-856X.
Bernadette Toner, NIH Rejects ACS Offer to Host PubChem, Forms Group to Advise NCBI on Private-Sector Issues, GenomeWeb, September 14, 2005. Accessible only to subscribers. (There is no deep link to the article.) Excerpt:
After several months of discussions between the two organizations - and the involvement of the US House of Representatives and Senate, both of which addressed the issue as part of their 2006 federal appropriations recommendations - ACS in early August offered to develop and support a freely available database that would include data from NIH screening centers as well as other compounds with associated bioassay data. ACS pledged $10 million and 15 staff members over five years to support the project. NIH rejected the offer, however. In an Aug. 22 letter to ACS President William Carroll, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni said that his staff gave the "generous" proposal "very serious consideration," but ultimately determined that the "most critical aspects of PubChem would be lost in such a model."...In a move to put the squabble to rest, Zerhouni proposed a six-part "alternative structure" that includes a collaboration between CAS and NIH to assign registry numbers for PubChem structures and a promise that PubChem "will not disseminate information on chemical reactions, measured properties, methods, patents and applications, markush structures, or conference information." A key component of the proposal - and one that NIH has already taken steps to implement - is the creation of a working group comprising private-sector participants that will advise NCBI on issues of interest to commercial providers of chemical information....On Sept. 1, NIH issued a request for nominations for potential members of the working group, which will advise NCBI on a number of issues, including "avoiding unnecessary duplication with commercial information providers."...NIH continues to stand by its view that PubChem and CAS are "complementary" resources, Berg said. "You can go to the CAS resources to get chemical information, and then go to PubChem to get access to biomedical information. We've been working to try to find ways to work more synergistically with the resources that are out there, including CAS," he said.
Jennifer Granick, Open Internet, We Hardly Knew Ye, Wired News, September 14, 2005. Excerpt:
[After Hurricane Katrina], some evacuees posted their whereabouts on existing sites like craigslist, others turned to a variety of new message boards created specially for evacuees. Almost immediately, there were too many sites to choose from. A grandchild looking for her grandmother, or a father for his son and wife, had literally dozens of online databases to search. The internet offered a solution....An international, ad hoc group of self-described geeks built a system that automatically combined information from the dozens of refugee listing sites into a single, searchable database...That database, at Katrinalist.net, is tangible evidence of the beauty and power of internet technology in the hands of well-meaning citizens. It's also an endangered species. In a few years, legal doctrines being aggressively pushed by corporations and law enforcement officials might prevent something cool and useful like this from ever happening again. In a variety of cases, courts are holding that people can't access internet computers without first getting authorization from the computer's owner....For example, many ISPs and some prosecutors are arguing that it's a crime to use unsecured wireless access points without the explicit permission of the owner. Antispam crusaders advocate blocking any e-mails that haven't been whitelisted first. Airlines like American and auction sites like eBay -- which want customers to visit their websites, view their ads and "join the community" -- have won court injunctions against companies that collect price information on plane fares or auctions to help consumers comparison shop. Under ancient legal theories like "trespass to chattels" and ill-advised modern laws like the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and state computer crime statutes, courts are holding that if you don't have authorization, you can't access computers. And if you can't access computers, you can't collect data about airfares, auctions or evacuees. The better world is one in which we don't need to seek permission or risk punishment to do cool stuff that makes the world a better place. In the early days of the internet, a lot of people felt that we'd found that better world. Thanks to the internet's open protocols, many of the most useful innovations, from the web to instant messaging to internet telephony, emerged without developers needing anyone's permission to run their cool new code....On the internet, having to ask permission first can kill the creation of a useful new tool. The law should treat the internet as open by default -- a public resource rather than a gated community. This doesn't mean that we can't protect our networked computers or data with copyright law, passwords, firewalls or perhaps even terms-of-service agreements. But rather than asking whether a user obtained permission to access computers connected to the internet, the law should ask whether the owner did anything to prevent public access.
Stevan Harnad, Maximising the Return on UK's Public Investment in Research, a preprint, September 14, 2005.
Abstract: The United Kingdom is not yet maximising the return on its public investment in research. Research Councils UK (RCUK) spend £3.5 billion pounds annually. The UK produces at least 130,000 research journal articles per year, but if it is worth funding and doing at all, research must be not only published, but used, applied and built upon by other researchers (‘citation impact’). The online-age practice of self-archiving has been shown to increase citation impact by a dramatic 50-250%, but so far only 15% of researchers are doing it spontaneously. Citation impact is rewarded by universities (through promotions and salary increases) and by research-funders like RCUK (through grant funding and renewal) at a conservative estimate of £46 per citation. If we multiply this by the 85% of the UK's annual journal article output that is not yet self-archived, this translates into an annual loss of £2,541,500 in revenue to UK researchers for not having done (or delegated) the few extra keystrokes per article it would have taken to self-archive their final drafts. But this impact loss translates into a far bigger one for the British public, if we reckon it as the loss of potential returns on its research investment. As a proportion of the RCUK’s yearly £3.5bn research expenditure, our conservative estimate would be 50% x 85% x £3.5.bn = £1.5bn worth of loss in potential research impact. The solution is obvious, and it is the one the RCUK is proposing: to extend the existing universal 'publish or perish' requirement to 'publish and also self-archive your final draft on your institutional website'. The time to close this 50%-250% research impact gap is already well overdue. This is the historic moment for the UK to set an example for the world, showing how to maximise the return on the public investment in research in the online era.
Also see the University of Southampton's press release on Harnad's research:
The UK is losing around £1.5 billion annually in the potential impact of its scientific research expenditure, according to one of the key figures in the global open access publishing movement. Professor Stevan Harnad, Moderator of the American Scientist Open Access Forum and Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science, has calculated the potential return on the investment in scientific research findings that are being lost to the UK each year through the limitations of the current academic publishing environment....He reveals today that the calculations of the value of research impact to be gained by a universal policy of self-archiving indicates a figure of at least £1.5 billion's worth annually. 'This is actually a conservative estimate,' says Harnad. 'It also takes no account of the much wider loss in revenue from potential usage and applications of UK research findings in the UK and worldwide, nor the still more general loss to the progress of human inquiry.' He is calling for a full acceptance of the RCUK recommendation. 'We know that 90 per cent of journals already endorse author self-archiving,' he says, 'and that over 90 per cent of authors will comply. 'This is a historic moment for the UK to set an example for the world,' he concludes, 'showing how to maximize the return on public investment in research in the online era.'
Belinda Isaac, Open access to research - but at what cost? IC Wales, September 14, 2005. Excerpt:
Research Councils UK (RCUK), the umbrella organisation of eight research councils, is proposing to make it a requirement of the grants it awards (and those awarded by its members) that research findings be archived in openly available repositories, either at the university where the research is being conducted or at a repository belonging to subject bodies....The costs of such an enormous undertaking on behalf of universities and other research institutions is being funded in part by the JISC, and by savings made by universities and other institutions from the fees which they would have otherwise paid to journals to secure publication of research findings....The move towards open access is not, however, without its shortcomings. There will undoubtedly be significant costs incurred by research institutions as they publish the research findings on their internet sites, from the costs of hardware storage space to the cost of personnel to sift, upload and archive the information. While the JISC may assist with this cost initially there is no guarantee that it will continue to fund what will undoubtedly be a growing burden in years to come. Anyone who has conducted research using the internet will know that one of the disadvantages of using it as a research tool is the varying quality of the material found. The peer review process used by many leading journals to sift material to be published ensures that the quality of published research is of a suitable standard and that that standard is maintained. Making all research findings available on the internet will not, at least initially, provide the same assurances of quality. No doubt over time certain institutions will develop a name for the quality of their research output, whereas others may not. In the meantime uncertainty as to quality will remain. For researchers, particularly in the scientific fields, one of the difficulties faced in connection with publication is the risk that early publication will undermine valuable patent rights. Patent protection is only available to novel inventions that display a sufficient inventive step....A further danger of open access is the potential loss of effective copyright and design right protection following publication, simply because it is much harder to control the reproduction of material once it is made available on the internet. Proving the date of first publication or even the originality of ideas and articles may also become increasingly difficult, thereby reducing the value (in commercial terms) of the initial research. One of the inevitable consequences of the Open Access initiative will be the loss of revenue for publishing companies which depend on publication fees as a primary source of income. Subscription fees may also be hit if readers find that the bulk of the material in which they are interested is being published elsewhere.
Comment. Wow. A second string of misunderstands in one day. A few quick replies. (1) The RCUK open-access policy is not likely to result in journal cancellations --hence in library savings-- even though other OA initiatives may well do so. (2) Running an OA repository is not expensive and brings direct benefits to the hosting institution by increasing its research profile and impact. Not supporting OA repositories would be even more expensive, by undermining the considerable national investment in publicly-funded research. (3) The work of depositing articles in OA repositories is distributed among the authors, who on average will only need 6-10 minutes to deposit an article. Authors who understand the benefits will do it from self-interest, to enlarge their audience and impact, and spend far less time on it than they spend e.g. bringing their work to the attention of department chairs, deans, and colleagues elsewhere. (4) Isaac seems to think that the deposited articles will bypass peer review, which is incorrect. The policy will only apply to articles that have been approved by the peer-review process at independent journals. (5) Isaac seems to think that the policy will force grantees to disclose patentable discoveries before they might be ready to do so, which is incorrect. The policy only applies to work that authors voluntarily publish in journals or present at conferences. (6) There is no copyright problem here. The deposited articles are under copyright. Authors remain free to transfer copyright to journals. In fact, the current draft of the policy even makes an exception to the OA mandate when journals insist on "copyright arrangements" incompatible with early or open access. (7) The policy will not disrupt the commercial value of articles, if only because scholarly journal articles have no commercial value in the relevant sense. Perhaps Isaac does not realize that journals do not pay authors.
The Crystallography Open Database is sponsoring an online Petition for Open Data in Crystallography. Some crystallography databases are already OA (e.g. those from the PDB, AMCSD, and NDB) and some are not (e.g. those from CSD, ICSD, CRYSMET, and ICDD). The petition is aimed at the second group. (Thanks to Armel Le Bail.)
Jesse Rogers, Online research database aims to expand, The Daily Pennsylvanian, September 14, 2005. Excerpt:
Looking over one of his older articles posted online, Computer and Information Science professor Fernando Pereira was surprised to find a surge in downloads. The article had been around for a while, he thought, and he no longer expected great demand. The renewed interest, he believes, sprouted from ScholarlyCommons@Penn, an open, online archive of University research. He submitted the article to the Commons -- which indexes submissions on Google and Google Scholar -- during the project's one-year test period, which ended at the end of this summer. However, Penn undergraduates hoping to find research on Scholarly Commons will have to wait -- unless they are looking for papers from the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Law School or the Department of Earth and Environmental Science. While current searchable scholarship is limited to these schools, Engineering Librarian Mary Steiner hopes to bring in research from departments across Penn's other schools....Steiner is also pleased with the amount of Internet traffic generated by Penn research, which she says is the result of making Scholarly Commons research available through the Google search engine.
Martin Frank and Jeff Glassroth, A harmful cure, The Washington Times, September 14, 2005. Excerpt:
News of the thyroid cancer that took the life of Chief Justice William Rehnquist sent thousands to the Internet to learn more about the symptoms and causes of this deadly disease....Most people find what they need by visiting patient-oriented sites and talking with their doctor, but in some instances, people want more. In an attempt to meet this need, NIH is spending millions of dollars to establish an online collection of manuscripts from articles based upon research it sponsors. While on the face of it this seems like a boon for the public, there is in fact a poison pill hidden in this gift from the federal government. NIH estimates that it underwrites only about 10 percent of the research published each year, a fact few members of the public realize. Moreover, much of this research involves cellular, molecular and genetic studies of disease, which do not have a direct impact on disease treatment. Second, and perhaps most important, NIH's collection will consist of research manuscripts that have been peer-reviewed but have not undergone technical review or copy editing. These are services publishers provide to improve clarity and safeguard against potential hazards such as dosage errors. A study recently conducted by one non-profit scientific publisher of a clinical journal found 214 possible errors in 129 peer-reviewed author manuscripts, the same type of manuscripts the NIH plans to offer to the public. Finally, the NIH program will not provide the public with access to review articles and commentaries, which are particularly valuable to the public because they provide interpretation, and context for new research findings. There are those who say patients should not have to wait at all for access to the kinds of technical reports NIH plans to post. Their slogan is "taxpayers should have access to research they paid for." These advocates conveniently dismiss the fact that there are real costs associated with publishing....Those pushing the NIH plan for public access claim that any taxpayer-subsidized article should be free to the public. But does that really make sense? The government also subsidizes wheat growers, but they still sell their grain, and no reasonable person asks those who produce bread from that wheat to give their bread away for free....The nearly 70 scientific and scholarly research publishers who comprise the DC Principles Coalition already offer the public free access to the final versions of all research articles they publish. At a time when research funding is already constrained, NIH should not divert its scarce resources to build a partial collection of incomplete and potentially flawed information in the name of public access. To do so is medically and morally wrong, and is ultimately not in the public's interest.
Comment. It's amazing that any paper will still publish these canards. Some quick replies: (1) The primary beneficiaries of the NIH public-access policy are researchers whose institutions cannot afford access to journals with rapidly-rising prices. The benefits to lay readers are important but secondary. (2) If it's really a problem that, at best, the NIH can only provide free online access to 10% of the world's medical research, then I'd be glad to join Frank and Glassroth in a call on other stakeholders to provide free online access to the remaining 90%. (3) Everyone acknowledges that peer review is fallible. If that were a reason to make peer-reviewed texts harder to access, then science would slow to a crawl. In any case, free online access to peer-reviewed medical research raises the average quality of free online medical claims. (4) It's true that the NIH program doesn't cover review articles. If that's a problem, then let's expand the scope of what's free online, not shrink it. (5) No serious advocate of open access, and no one at the NIH, has ever said that publishing is costless. (6) Wheat is rivalrous, which means that possession or consumption by one person excludes possession or consumption by others. But knowledge is non-rivalrous. It can be shared with everyone without diminishing possession or consumption by anyone. There is a huge difference, therefore, between giving taxpayers free access to publicly-subsidized wheat and giving taxpayers free access to publicly-subsidized knowledge. (7) The cost of the NIH program is $2-4 million/year, which comes to 0.01% of the NIH's $28 billion budget. To complain that this money is not spent on additional research is to overlook or deny the demonstrable ways in which free online access increases the impact and utility of the funded research. (8) Frank and Glassroth know better. Every one of their simple errors and misunderstandings was raised and answered during the debate over the NIH policy.
'There's new business in online publishing!' Journalism.co.za, September 14, 2005. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
“A crucial step to press freedom is a sound economic business model,” said Matthew Buckland, publisher of the Mail and Guardian online, write Vanessa Haarhoff and Vuyo Fatman of the Highway Africa News Agency. This was said at a workshop yesterday when discussing online business publishing models. According to Buckland, online publishing in South Africa has been struggling and has battled to find viable business models. However, because of increased online advertising in the last few years, marketing is beginning to pick up....Kerryn McKay, researcher for the Creative Commons online business model, said that the ‘open content’ business model was the key to help developing countries. “This is content can be shared, accessible and derivatives can be created.” This idea of a business model fits in with the Creative Commons movement’s notion that creativity comes out of sharing. There has been contention about whether or not this type of model is sustainable. Heather Ford, director of Creative Commons South Africa, gave an example of the Human Science Research Council (HSRC), showing how the model works. The HSRC press have a publishing model called the ‘author pays’. In this model, the investment is shifted to the author, reports are published free of charge and books are printed on demand. Ford emphasised that a publisher needs to be open to change and be able to go back to the simple principles of publishing. “If you’re not open to change, you’ll keep making the same mistake.”
Simon Evans, The future of Australian Law Reviews, Basal Questions, September 13, 2005. Excerpt:
[T]he Research Quality Framework through its impact measures is likely to increase the pressure to publish in journals that publish full-text electronic versions in databases that international researchers are likely to access. Having a searchable website for the journal is not enough if international researchers are not going to search that website. (At the moment, this means Lexis, WestLaw, Ingenta or one of the other major databases. Perhaps Google Scholar will expand this set.) Journals have to decide how to reconcile this pressure from contributors with the exclusivity provisions in the licensing agreements that the database vendors want and the desirability of open access to the products of legal scholarship.
Matthew Cockerill has been named the new publisher of BioMed Central, succeeding Jan Velterop who stepped down in April. From today's press release:
Matthew Cockerill has been involved with BioMed Central since its launch in 1999, serving first as Technical Director and later as Director of Operations. Prior to BioMed Central, he played a major role in the creation of BioMedNet, a pioneering web site for biologists, which incorporated the Trends and the Current Opinion review journals. He has a PhD in Biochemistry, which he obtained working under the guidance of Tim Hunt at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. He also has a long-standing interest in the use of technology to structure and manage biological and medical knowledge. Cockerill said that his appointment has come at an exciting time for the company: "BioMed Central has made extraordinary progress in recent months. Open access is never out of the headlines, and BioMed Central is publishing more peer-reviewed research than ever before. The latest impact factors have shown that open access journals can more than hold their own against traditional journals, and with widespread support from institutions, funders, and scientists, it is clear that open access publishing is here to stay."...Vitek Tracz, Chairman of the Current Science Group commented: "I am excited by Matthew's new role as Publisher of BioMed Central. We have now worked together for some years and my admiration for the breath of his talents and the depth of his grasp of the complex issues facing science publishing today has grown and grown. I feel confident that we now have the right team led by the right person to face with confidence the exciting challenges ahead, which amount to no less than re-inventing the role of science publisher as a true partner of research scientists and medical practitioners."
Lesley Perkins and Heather Morrison, Open access : perspectives from SSHRC and NRC, a report on a session by Cameron Macdonald of Canada's National Research Council Press and David Moorman of Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council at the conference of the Canadian Library Association (Calgary, June 15-18, 2005).
Abstract: While both NRC Press and SSHRC are committed to OA in principle, they are struggling to find ways to implement it in practice that are acceptable to all parties involved. NRC Press provides free access to its journals to all Canadians, through the Depository Services Program, and allows authors to self-archive the final PDF of articles, after a 6-month delay. SSHRC is undergoing a major transformation, asking questions about how to decide which journals deserve subsidies. Currently, OA journals do not qualify for SSHRC subsidy funding, which requires a subscriber base. Perhaps this stipulation can be changed for the next round of competition for subsidy funding in 2007, but what criteria will be used to replace this rule? Will publishers even be necessary, now that institutional repositories are becoming a reality? The first speaker was Cameron MacDonald, representing the publisher’s view, to explain why authors and libraries need publishers. NRC Press is a not-for-profit (NFP) publisher, and the largest publisher of Science and Technology journals in Canada. NRC currently publishes 15 of its own journals, and another 17 under contract. Like many government agencies, NRC is mandated to be a cost recovery operation. Cameron, who was a librarian for many years before working for NRC Press, was quick to point out that NFPs support OA in concept, meaning they are supportive of more equitable access. But he added that he sees the OA movement as a response to a crisis, and that there is a lot of misinformation. He described the OA movement as a very new business model, and noted that it costs a publisher $2,000 to $3,000 to get an article out. Cameron’s talk followed the format of a series of questions and answers.
At the American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting, an open meeting of the ACS Joint Board-Council Committee on Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) was considered by many to be the ideal venue for a discussion between ACS membership, governance, CAS, and ACS Publications regarding the society's opposition to NLM's PubChem initiative. CHMINF-L has received two reports (W. D. Ihlenfelt and Gary Wiggins) of the non-discussion which resulted from ACS professionals' decision to proceed with marketing pitches rather than the advertised/promised open discussion. The decision to avoid member discussion/input has had the reasonably expected effect of angering many ACS members and led to the resignation of at least two members of the joint committee. The action is even more perplexing when one reads the resolution which the committee passed prior to the open session:
"The Joint Board-Council Committee on Chemical Abstracts Service (CCAS) strongly believes that the NIH PubChem Initiative is one of the most significant and potentially harmful challenges ever faced by CAS, and thus, the ACS as an organization. CCAS strongly supports the ACS in its efforts to resolve these issues. CCAS is seriously concerned that the current communication strategy is not reaching ACS membership. Therefore CCAS strongly recommends that the ACS: 1. Devise a more effective communication strategy to fully and accurately inform the ACS membership on this significant issue. 2. Involve the membership in appropriate dialog concerning this issue. CCAS encourages the communication strategy to utilize the strengths of the Society which include the Members, the Council, Local Sections, Technical Divisions, the Board and their related publications both written and electronic."
The September issue of the LANL Research Library Newsletter is now online. This issue contains short reports on an upcoming colloquium on EScience by Daniel Atkins, the awarding of the ANSI Meritorious Service Award to Herbert van de Sompel, the H-Index to measure the impact of individual scholars, and the debate on the RCUK draft OA policy.
What if your funder mandates OA and your publisher does not allow it? Daniel Lemire, a computer scientist at the University of Quebec at Montreal, knows where he stands:
If funding agencies start requiring open access, publishers could be in for a big change. They might be powerful compared to the average scientist trying to publish-or-perish, but the little scientist who must offer open access to his publications to keep his grant will suddenly grow some teeth. Would I risk my federal grant for the whims of a publisher like IEEE? Never.
(PS: The dilemma doesn't arise for the 70% of journals that allow postprint archiving, though it does arise for the rest. IEEE journals are in the green 70%.)
Birgitte Andersen, In the Shadow of the Intellectual Property Right (IPR) System, eGov Monitor, September 12, 2005. Excerpt:
Even though scientific inventions are not, in principle, allowed to be protected by patents, there is still an increased propensity to patent very fundamental inventions. Thus, in practice, the divide between science and technology is very blurred when it comes to patent policy. This comes partly from national policies encouraging universities to patent their scientific findings. For example, the US Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 encourages universities to patent their scientific findings and discoveries, and similar types of policies are now adopted worldwide....However, if the patent system helps certain ends..., it is still about taking very basic knowledge out of the public domain. Basic scientific findings should be kept in the public domain....It is the total openness of basic inventions from universities for multiple exploration paths in the market economy that makes the evolutionary process of technological advance more powerful, and it is from this advance we develop new science. Thus, the increased privatisation of scientific inventions or very fundamental knowledge is bad for the advance of both science and technology....We often hear the argument concerning the 'tragedy of commons'; about how goods and services become inefficient if they are open for all to exploit and use. However, there is also the other side; 'the tragedy of markets' when every bid of knowledge and creative expression become privatised.
Luisa M. Doldi and Erwin Bratengeyer, The web as a free source for scientific information: a comparison with fee-based databases, Online Information Review, 29, 4 (2005) pp. 400-411. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.) Only this abstract is free online, at least so far.
Purpose - The aim of this study was an evaluation of the web as a source of scientific bibliographic information. Design/methodology/approach - In order to give this evaluation a quantitative dimension, a comparison with the information obtained from fee-based bibliographic databases was performed. Based on a concrete search example in the field of plant production biotechnology, a comparative study of selected fee-based bibliographic databases (CAB Abstracts and Biosis Preview) and a search of the web with selected search engines (Scirus and Google) was carried out. A comparison of the information retrieved through the databases and that retrieved through search engines was conducted with respect to the quantity and quality of retrieved documents, search time, the cost of information, retrieval strategies, the reliability of information and the demands on the skills of the searcher. Findings - The surprising results of this comparison clearly indicate that the web, assuming a professional use of the medium, is not only a valuable source for scientific information, but also provides the scientific community with an instrument to make knowledge available and accessible for almost anyone. Originality/value - This study shows that the web has reached a certain level of maturity in regard to scientific and qualitative content and can be considered a worthwhile source of scientific information.
Ana Maria Ramalho Correia and José Carlos Teixeira, Reforming scholarly publishing and knowledge communication: From the advent of the scholarly journal to the challenges of open access, Online Information Review, 29, 4 (2005) pp. 349-364. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.) Only this abstract is free online, at least so far.
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the continuous evolution of scholarly publishing and knowledge communication as a result of the internet revolution. Design/methodology/approach - Information was obtained from a literature review of the main contributions on "self-archiving" - the broad term often applied to electronic publishing of author-supplied documents on the web without commercial publisher mediation. The paper analyses the impact of the open access movement, which came to fruition after the OAI Metadata Harvesting Protocol was established, as it creates the potential for interoperability between e-print repositories. It concludes by outlining the challenges for information managers in developing the full potential of open access. Findings - With regard to the future of self-archiving, particularly in relation to peer-reviewed journals, information managers have a very important role to perform within their organization. Originality/value - The paper highlights the benefits of publishing in e-print repositories for authors and their institutions. It points to the roles and responsibilities of information managers, primarily within academic and research institutions, in devising clear institutional policies and assisting users to self archive their papers for the benefit of their own organizations and the global scientific community.
James Boyle, Expanding the Public Domain, ARL Monthly Report 241, August 2005. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.) Excerpt:
During the last 10 years there has been a frenzied and intensive debate about the desirable limits of intellectual property policy. For much of that time, if you said amazingly bland and banal things like: we should have balance, or it’s important to think about the inputs for creativity as well as protecting outputs, or we should not commoditize facts and ideas, you could be labeled as a communist, an anarchist, or, rather confusingly, both. So, what I think I’m going to do is produce a stunningly banal set of ideas....[The "internet threat" argument for tightening copyright protection] is not a dumb argument, but it is wrong. It’s not dumb in that there is a real problem. The Internet does lower the cost of copying, so it will magnify the amount of illicit copying. But it will also magnify the amount of licit copying. And it expands the size of the market, makes it easier for you to distribute things, lowers your advertising costs. On balance, are intellectual property holders better off or worse off? Well, even economists don’t think that you can decide that in the abstract. They say you actually need evidence, right? Here’s another remarkable thing about intellectual property policy over the last 10 or 15 years: it is almost evidence-free....[W]e have evidence [from the US and European experience with their different database laws] showing that less protection has been better for innovation than more protection. But you could spend days listening to arguments about database rights, and you’d never hear these facts mentioned. Additional evidence shows that publicly generated data turns out to spur more economic activity if provided at marginal cost --close to zero-- than if it is provided in order to recoup its cost of production. Europe puts into public weather-data generation about half of what we do in the US, and it gets a nice return of about a six- to eightfold boost in production. The US puts in twice as much, and gets back a 39-fold increase in production. Why? The information is initially provided for free, but a massive secondary industry --the private weather industry-- takes the publicly funded data and adds value to it. They employ more people, pay more taxes, and are an enormous portion of the economy....My points are: lowering copying costs brings benefits, as well as costs. And we need evidence before we make policy. Banal and boring, right?...It’s time to think about expanding the public domain, not just defending or salvaging it....What we have to do now is to think of all of the ways in which we can use the wonderful technology that is available to us, and build a public domain that people can get access to practically, but also a public domain they are aware of.
eIFL.net has started work on its project, Advocacy for Access to Knowledge (apparently it has no web site yet). The project is funded by UNESCO's Information for All Program (IFAP). From the UNESCO announcement:
With a grant of USD34.000 the project "Advocacy for Access to Knowledge: copyrights and ibraries" will work with networks of library consortia, mainly in former Soviet Union countries to raise awareness, build capacity, expertise and resources in current copyright issues and identify how they relate to the application of ICTs.
PubChem now contains structures from LipidMAPS (LIPID Metabolites And Pathways Strategy).
BTW, PubChem now contains 4,266,460 substances and 3,235,601 compounds. To find the current tallies, go to the search page, select substances or compounds from the drop-down menu, and then search for "all [filter]" (without the quote marks).
The August 2005 issue of Thomson's In-Cites features a profile of Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics, an OA journal whose impact factor just bumped it into the top 50% of journals in geosciences, only three years after its launch. APC is published by the Copernicus Society. Quoting APC editor Ulrich Pöschl:
The high and increasing citation rates of ACP are certainly due to multiple reasons, most of which are related to the advantages of its interactive open access journal concept (freely accessible two-stage publications with public peer review and interactive discussion as detailed on the journal website)....The interactive open access journal concept of ACP has been designed to foster scientific discussion, maximize the effectiveness and transparency of scientific quality assurance, enable rapid publication of new scientific results, and make scientific publications freely accessible....research and teaching are increasingly inhibited by a lack of scientific information density, accessibility, and reliability, and there are many good reasons for the increasing number, strength, and public recognition of initiatives and declarations aiming at worldwide open access to scientific publications (economic, educational, and scientific aspects). Some of the most important advantages of free online availability of scientific information are the opportunities for enhanced scientific quality assurance, which are unfortunately often neglected in discussions and reports about open access publishing....ACP has been the first major open access journal in the field of geosciences, and it certainly has been the first journal with two-stage publications, public peer review, and interactive discussion....[O]pen access publishing indeed allows [us] to enhance scientific quality assurance by interactive forms of review and discussion open to the whole scientific community.
Bill McCoy, Universal Access to All Knowledge (and other ambitions), a blog posting, September 9, 2005. Excerpt:
Brewster [Kahle] is also pushing the envelope on the legal front of copyright doctrine. As I see it, even though DRM is now common in the audio world, and iTunes is a $500M+ business for Apple, this licensed content model couldn't gain a mass market until "open" MP3 audio had become widely utilized. Most law-abiding users iPods have many more MP3s ripped from their CDs (fair use), than FairPlay AAC files bought on iTunes. IMO we need to (metaphorically speaking) establish the MP3 for e-Books. Open access to a body of uncopyrighted texts is a key piece of that puzzle.
Also see David Rothman's response to McCoy on TeleRead, September 10.
Bill McCoy over at Adobe is out with a smart post [PS: quoted above] telling how consumer-level standards can be good for paid digital content. OpenReader territory, in effect! Good for you, Bill. On top of that, you’ve recognized how free content from organizations like the Internet Archive can also help. What better way to popularize e-books than for a robust public domain to entice consumers to go digital?...To think of all the hundreds of millions in revenue that the e-book industry lost over the long run when Microsoft yielded to the proprietary format faction! Yes, Dick [Brass] and Steve [Stone] wanted [Microsoft to adopt] a standard format at the consumer level, not just LIT everywhere. As noted, the soon-to-be-unveiled v. 2 of the OpenReader site will tell how open standards culd help Adobe and Microsoft and other existing players. We’re eager to help everyone make the transition to an open e-book format, which, far from being anti-corporate, would grow revenue. Being good for us ordinary folks does not necessarily mean that something will be bad for the giants.