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The Michigan Library Consortium has adopted a resolution endorsing Google Book Search. (Thanks to Library Journal Academic Newswire.) Excerpt:
Google will make searching of the digitized materials available at no charge to researchers around the world, while protecting the rights of copyright holders in display and reproduction of the digitized materials....[T]the work of libraries to make the world’s knowledge available to readers and researchers will be dramatically enhanced by the Google Book Search project and other such endeavors.
Google Book Search: No Library Links for Books in Copyright --Yet, Library Journal Academic Newswire, December 8, 2005. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
[D]oes Google Book Search let its users easily find a library version of a book? Not unless the book is out of copyright, and Google doesn't yet explain that. The third question in the Google Book Search FAQ reads as follows: "What is the 'Find it in a Library' link?" The answer: "When you click on 'Find it in a Library' we send you to the OCLC Worldcat where you can enter your zip code and find a local library that has the book." The reality is more complicated and less impressive. The "Find it in a Library" link only appears on books that Google has scanned from libraries, in the Library Project, not the much larger (as of now) collection of current books submitted for scanning by publishers....Google spokesman Nate Tyler told the LJ Academic Newswire, "Currently the links shows on books that we scanned from the library, which are, generally speaking, public domain books. We are not showing this link on books that are part of the publisher program, but we may do so in the future." Why the delay: "I guess that we're trying to create a tool for publishers to sell more books online." Should the FAQ be revised? "We can try to clarify that," Tyler said. "This product is still under development." Commented Chip Nilges, OCLC's VP for new services, "Google is working with us to place 'find in a library' links on all books digitized from library collections, and we're glad to have this placement, which complements the link from every monograph indexed in Google Scholar to Open WorldCat and the collection of 3.4 million Open WorldCat records in the Google main index." He added, "We'd of course like them to appear on every book in the Google Book Search program," but said that it was Google's call. OCLC publishes a standard linking syntax for Open WorldCat that anyone can use to embed a link to the "find in a library" service.
Dean Baker, Are Copyrights A Textbook Scam? Alternatives to Financing Textbook Production in the 21st Century, Center for Economic and Policy Research, September 2005. (Thanks to The Assayer.) Excerpt:
Textbooks are a large and rapidly growing expense for millions of college students. This expense is completely unnecessary – it results entirely from the fact that the United States relies on copyright monopolies to finance the production of textbooks. It is easy to design alternative systems for financing textbook production, which take full advantage of the possibilities created by the Internet and digital technology. Such alternatives could make textbooks very cheap or even free for students who are satisfied reading material on the web. Having college texts in the public domain will also give professors much more freedom in selecting material, since they would be able to customize their classes, assigning chapters from a number of different texts. It would take a very small commitment of public funds (e.g. 0.01 percent of the federal budget) to largely replace the revenue generated for textbook production through the copyright system. A system of publicly financed textbook production could co-exist alongside the system of copyright monopolies, allowing for a market test of the relative efficiency of the two systems. Such an alternative system could offer large savings to students, more flexibility to professors, and efficiency gains to the economy as a whole.
Arthur Sale, Comparison of IR content policies in Australia, a preprint, self-archived December 8, 2005.
Abstract: Seven Australian universities (of 38) have established institutional repositories (also known as IRs or eprint archives) that can be analyzed for content and which were in operation during 2004 and 2005. The paper analyses their performance and concludes that a requirement to deposit research output into a repository coupled with effective author support policies works in Australia. Voluntary policies do not, regardless of any author support, consistent with international data.
From the body of the paper:
Only QUT had a formal requirement for authors to deposit all research output in their IR during 2004 and 2005. All the other universities had voluntary deposit policies, and still have. Some universities in the sample profess little or no interest in the self-archiving of postprints, and see their repositories as serving other functions, or are working on other activities. Some universities are reported to have a Author Support (AS) approach to their authors; others do not. It is difficult at this stage to disentangle AS from a requirement policy through lack of a AS metric, though it probably has a significant impact. However the AS impact is believed to be less than that of having an effective and enforced deposit policy, even if only loosely enforced, which is the justification for this analysis....No Australian university with a voluntary policy collects significantly more than 15% of the DEST [Department of Science, Education and Technology] reportable content and most much less. This is consistent with international data for which 15% is accepted as an average limit. The DEST reportable content is itself estimated at being only 50% of university research output. QUT stands out at 4X higher than its nearest competitor (2005 data, 2.4X in 2004). Detailed analysis of QUT’s collection rates suggests that the deposit rate surged after March 2005, and that QUT can expect to have a final success deposit ratio for 2005 near 60% and a success ratio for 2006 documents nearer to 80%. The difference is attributed to the deposit policy coupled with good author support practices....A requirement to deposit research output into a repository coupled with effective author support policies works in Australia. Voluntary policies do not, regardless of any author support, consistent with international data. It is well overdue for DEST to rule that postprints of all research that Australian universities report to DEST must be deposited in an institutional repository, to take effect say for 2007. The costs to the universities are ridiculously small; the benefits from increased global research impact, and enabling Australians to access the research they fund through the public purse, are enormous.
Sonia Sarkar, DU library all set to go digital, The Pioneer, December 10, 2005. (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.) Excerpt:
The Delhi University's Library System (DULS) is all set to go digital. Besides launching a separate library website, which will help in getting all electronic resources available in the public domain, the library resources, including the books which are out of the Copyright Act, will also be digitised soon....As all kinds of primary and secondary sources of electronic texts, including journals, newsletters, encyclopedias, footnotes and bibliographies of scholarly articles, will be available, research papers in different subjects by students of foreign universities will also be just a click away. "The electronic journal is a hybrid. It springs from an effort to merge the informality, speed, and relative cheapness of network communication with the durable scholarship of the print world. The aim is to use the networked information sources in scholarly communication. The network-based electronic communication processes will survive and grow, at least as a supplement to the existing print-based system," said Dr S Majumdar, Librarian, DULS...."We are catalysing all available information in electronic form and putting it in a database form to help the students in accessing the right information in the shortest period of time," said Dr Majumdar. Not only the electronic resources available in free domain are included in the website but the electronic translation of the printed publications, to which the university library subscribes, will also be added in the list. To make it a perfect and user friendly website, the library staff members have turned into researchers looking for ideal links and hyperlinks. In addition to an online catalogue to assist the available library, the books, which are out of the Copyright Act, will be digitised. Trials run of electronic database for three months helpful for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses is already on with participation from 35 colleges, connected through the Intranet. Over 1,800 students have accessed such resource in the first month. "The aim of the trial run was to assess the usefulness of the data base on the basis of the access made by the faculty members, research scholars and students," said Dr Majumdar.
Charles W. Bailey Jr. has released version 60 of his monumental Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new version cites and organizes over 2,560 print and online articles, books, and other sources on scholarly electronic publishing.
The presentations from the CERN Colloquium on Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (Geneva, December 7-8, 2005) are now online. (Thanks to Alma Swan.)
Note especially Andrew le Masurier's presentation, which gives a preview of the final version of the RCUK open-access policy.
Stephen Pincock, Royal Soc. attacked on open access, The Scientist, December 9, 2005. Excerpt:
A group of 46 senior scientists accused the Royal Society this week of putting its own considerations above those of science by adopting a negative stance on the issue of open access publishing, in which scientific literature is made freely available via the Internet. The letter-writers argue that the Royal Society is disparaging open access to protect the interests of for-profit publishers – including the Royal Society itself -- while the Society accuses petitioners of harbouring their own conflict of interest....A spokesman for the Royal Society, which currently has 1274 Fellows, told The Scientist that the scientists' letter had been organized by BioMed Central (BMC), an open access publisher (and sister company to The Scientist). "We feel that is a piece of information that people should be aware of," he said. The spokesman noted that neither the letter nor the BioMed Central Web site made it clear that the publisher was behind the letter. The Royal Society has written to all letter signatories to point out this fact, he said. A spokeswoman for BioMed Central told The Scientist there was "no secret" the organization was involved. She said that the idea to coordinate the letter had emerged from widespread dissatisfaction among Fellows and the research community. In response, BMC and another open access publisher, Public Library of Science (PLoS), agreed to jointly coordinate the letter. BioMed Central drafted the letter, contacted some of the signatories and established the Web site where the letter is posted, the spokeswoman said. Robin Lovell-Badge, a researcher at the National Institute for Medical Research in the UK and signatory to the letter, told The Scientist he was contacted about the letter by Harold Varmus, Nobel laureate, president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and co-founder of PLoS. Lovell-Badge said he hadn't been aware that the letter was coordinated by the publishers, but knowing so makes no difference. "In fact it's rather insulting to [suggest] that I've been manipulated by BioMed Central, because I haven't." He added that science is "moving forward and the Royal Society will have to change or they'll be left behind."
(PS: Note this correction from Matt Cockerill. "Just to correct one minor factual error: the initial draft of the letter actually came from PLoS, not BioMed Central. It then went through redrafting involving input and changes from BioMed Central and from several FRSs.")
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently sends out annual OA reports on toxic pollutants as part of its Toxic Release Inventory program. It is proposing to cut back the reports to every other year. I urge US citizens to submit a comment before January 13 asking the EPA to continue the annual reports. The easiest way is to submit a comment is to use the action alert from OMB Watch, which will send copies of your message to Congress as well as the EPA.
Germany is buying national site licenses for many subscription-based journals. From yesterday's press release:
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will fund national licenses for digital publications in an effort to improve the provision of scientific library services at German universities. This decision was agreed by the DFG's Grants Committee on General Research Support at its meeting on 2 December 2005. Funding amounting to €21.5 million will be provided to pay for licenses for 30 large collections of literary works and publications as well as extensive volumes of journals and periodicals published in past years. This will give researchers in the humanities and natural sciences in Germany access to an important resource. From May 2006 on researchers, scientists and students at universities and research institutions throughout Germany will enjoy free online access to the databases and digital periodical archives of major international publishers.
(PS: This is subsidized toll access, not open access, even though it will feel the same to German readers at their desks. German authors should not be fooled, however, and will still want the increased audience and impact that comes from true OA. As far as I can tell, the national site licenses in the UK have not diminished the desire of UK researchers for true OA. The best evidence is the support for the draft RCUK policy.)
Subbiah Arunachalam, Indian science academies support open access, SciDev.net, December 8, 2005. A letter to the editor. Excerpt:
I read Barbara Kirsop's letter...on the appalling stand taken by the UK Royal Society on open access. Thankfully, the science academies in India are supporting open access. In fact, all the journals published by the Indian National Science Academy, currently presided over by a fellow of the UK Royal Society, are open access journals and one can search and download articles from volume 1, number 1. All 11 journals published by the Indian Academy of Sciences, also presided over by a fellow of the UK Royal Society, are also open access journals, and there are currently efforts underway to make all previous volumes open access. What is more, unlike the Public Library of Science and BioMed Central, these two academies do not charge authors (or their institutions) a fee for publishing their papers. They do charge for subscriptions to the print versions — as opposed to online versions — of their journals.
Heather Morrison, The Open Access Organizational Advantage: An Hypothesis, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, December 8, 2005. Excerpt:
The open access citation advantage has been amply demonstrated in many studies, which can be found through Steve Hitchcock's excellent bibliography....With universities and countries proceeding towards open access at different paces, here is an hypothesis which anyone interested in invited to test: There will be a strong positive correlation between open access and organizational impact....Organizational impact can be measured through such means as success at obtaining funding grants (whether measured by number or amount of grants), success at attracting top students (perhaps measured through traditional evaluation criteria by which students are considered for competitive programs), graduate student success, success at obtaining operational or capital funding through public or private sources, academic awards, student success in the workplace, and so forth....[Researchers who provide OA to their own work may find it easier to get grants from agencies that provide OA to the results of the research they fund.]...Top students are more likely to be attracted to a university with a strong open access mandate for two reasons. First, they are more likely to encounter the research published by the university's researchers and thus become interested in the university. Second, the university's researchers will benefit from the open access citation advantage - their work will be cited more often, and hence will be more obviously valued by the scholarly community. Good matches between graduate students and supervisors would appear to have some relation with common research interests - the more students who have access to our work, the better the chances that the grad student who would be a really good match will find us. A university that makes its work available to the world through an institutional repository is a resource for the community. Local media will find it easy to write about the university, and find local experts to interview. It makes sense that this would enhance the value of the university to the community, which in theory should help universities in their funding efforts....The real competition of the educational sector is not the other institutions - it is ignorance.
Lord Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, has publicly released his December 7 response to the open letter written by nearly 50 Fellows of the Royal Society in support of open access. Excerpt:
We certainly do not, as your letter implies, take a 'negative stance' to open access. We are simply concerned that open access is achieved without the risk of unintended damage to peer-review, quality control and long term accessibility of the scientific literature. The Royal Society is committed to the widest possible dissemination of research outputs. The Society is itself a delayed open access publisher (already providing free access after 12 months) and provides immediate access to researchers in developing countries and also to scientific papers that are of major public interest....However, the Society is not in favour of policies that might imperil scholarly communication by undermining the established subscription model of publishing before the alternatives (such as author-pays journals) have been fully explored and shown to be viable in the long run.
(PS: There's more but the online file is an image and I don't have time to rekey the rest. As with the earlier statement, most of the RS doubts focus on the viability of OA journals even though the RCUK proposal mandates deposit in OA archives, not submission to OA journals. I can't count the number of times this misunderstanding has been corrected, not only when the RS makes it but also when made by Lord Sainsbury and the UK government. Moreover, the RS call for more evidence overlooks the extensive inquiry on which the RCUK proposal is based, an inquiry in which the RS participated. Finally, the best way to gather evidence on the impact of OA archiving on journals is to adopt the RCUK policy, monitor the results, and keep the policy open to review and amendment. To demand proof of harmlessness as a precondition of the policy looks like a delaying tactic, especially when the RS doesn't acknowledge the existing evidence of harmlessness from physics, where OA archiving approaches 100%. If we all want the widest possible dissemination of research outputs, then let's get on with it.)
Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) introduced a bill into the U.S. Senate yesterday that would mandate OA to publicly-funded medical research within four months of its publication. Officially titled the American Center for Cures Act of 2005, the bill is informally known as the CURES Act. It would create a new agency within the NIH, the American Center for Cures (ACC), whose primary mission would be to translate fundamental research into therapies. The bill is very large and covers a lot of territory, but for our purposes the critical part is Section 499H. Like the existing NIH policy, the CURES Act would apply only to the author's final peer-reviewed manuscript, although copyright holders would have the option to replace it with the final published text. Public access would be provided by PubMed Central. The bill goes beyond the NIH policy in several important ways. It requires free online access and does not merely request it. It shortens the permissible delay to four months. It extends the OA policy beyond the NIH to research funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Healthcare Research. Finally, it explicitly says that non-compliance may be a ground for the funding agency to refuse future funding. The bill is co-sponsored by Thad Cochran (R-MS).
(PS: This is a major step. It would effectively mandate OA to all medical research funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, making it more effective and wider in scope than the NIH public-access policy. More later, I promise.)
Update. First a correction. The bill was introduced December 7, not December 8. Now some more links:
Donald MacLeod, Science academy defends open access policy, The Guardian, December 8, 2005. Excerpt:
The Royal Society, the UK's national academy of science, today hit back at critics of its "negative" attitude to making research freely available on the internet, claiming it was under attack from commercial interests. A letter signed by 46 society fellows, including two Nobel laureates, criticised the academy for opposing open access agreements, under which scientists agree to make their findings freely available on the internet as well as publishing them in academic journals. The letter had been coordinated by BioMed Central, a commercial publisher of open access journals, which stood to gain from open access publishing, said a spokesman for the society. BioMed Central admitted it had helped coordinate the letter, along with another open access publisher, the Public Library of Science, but said the initiative came from fellows angered by the Royal Society's position. The letter accuses the society of putting its own interests as the publisher of a learned journal before the interests of science. The increasingly heated debate has been sparked by proposals from the UK research councils to require scientists to make their findings freely available online as a condition of receiving grants. The Royal Society issued a statement denying it was taking a negative stance on open access and calling for a study of various forms of open access publishing. "We are simply concerned that open access is achieved without the risk of unintended damage to peer-review, quality control and long-term accessibility of the scientific literature." A spokesman added: "The Royal Society is absolutely supportive of the principle of open access and is committed to the widest possible dissemination of research outputs. The society is itself a delayed open access publisher, providing free access after 12 months, and provides immediate access to researchers in developing countries and also to scientific papers that are of major public interest - for example the results of the farm scale evaluation of genetically modified crops. "However, there is understandable concern that if researchers can access large numbers of final versions of journal papers from repositories, then they will not be prepared to subscribe to these journals. The society is not in favour of policies that might reduce scholarly communication by undermining the established subscription model of publishing before the alternatives (such as author-pays journals) have been fully explored and have been shown to be viable in the long-term." A BioMed spokeswoman said: "We have not made any attempt to conceal the fact we were involved, but nor did we brand it as a BioMed initiative because it isn't - it's very much fellows of the Royal Society writing to the Royal Society." She added: "It is in the commercial interests of BioMed that open access is successful, but it is also in the commercial interests of publishers and learned societies that the subscription model prevails."
Comment. The Royal Society is not "under attack from commercial interests." It's under attack from its own members. Four quick replies: (1) BMC has a financial interest in OA journals but not in OA archiving (apart from its small Open Repository service). I know that the RS is confused about this issue, but in fact the RCUK policy does not mandate submission to OA journals, only deposit in OA archives. (2) The RS has a financial interest in maintaining subscriptions. I believe that its subscriptions are not threatened by the RCUK policy. But if it wants to argue that its fears are justified, then it has to start by admitting its financial interest, which is much stronger than BMC's. (3) The Fellows of the Royal Society who have publicly criticized the RS position have no financial interest in the outcome and it's comical to suggest that they are acting in the interest of BMC rather than the interest of science. (4) If the role of the BMC in this affair means that the RS is under attack from commercial interests, then the OA movement is on much more solid ground to argue that it is under attack from commercial interests.
Yesterday on BBC's Radio4, John Sudworth interviewed Robin Lovell-Badge, head of genetics at the National Institute for Medical Research and a Fellow of the Royal Society, about OA and the 11/24 Royal Society position statement. The interview starts 45 minutes and 51 seconds into the program. (Thanks to Matt Cockerill.)
The December 05 / January 06 issue of Research Information is now online. The OA-related articles in this issue are a profile of Michael Mabe (including a recap of some of his doubts about OA) and an intro to the eSciDoc project from the Max Planck Society and FIZ Karlsruhe. The issue also includes two letters to the editor on OA, one from Stevan Harnad and one from Sally Morris.
Excerpt from Stevan Harnad's letter:
In the article 'Archive programmes gain momentum' in your October/November 2005 issue, Sally Morris of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) is quoted as saying that if 'the majority of papers from a particular journal become available for any researcher to find [in an institutional repository] it could lead cash-strapped libraries to stop buying that journal, which would make it no longer viable'. When I think of cash-strapped librarians I think of all the journals that they cannot afford for their institution's users. Not being able to buy a large proportion of the journals available means that their researchers cannot access and use research results. This has an impact on their research and progress. Cash-strapped librarians must cancel journals. They have nowhere near enough cash to buy access to all journals or even enough to meet their users' potential needs. Researchers, who are both the producers and the users of the research, can be forgiven for thinking about research access and impact rather than the cash flow to publishers. Is the public funding research, and are researchers conducting it, in order to ensure that cash flows from cash-strapped librarians to publishers' bottom lines? Morris also suggests that if readers access journals through repositories this will not show up in the usage data so a librarian might decide to cancel a subscription even though the same numbers of people still access the journal. Librarians must always cancel one journal in order to be able to afford another one. Their budgets do not enable them to subscribe to them all. But a self-archiving mandate does not affect this situation because it applies to the funded articles in all journals. All it does is provide a safety net so that when a librarian is forced to cancel a subscription the users can at least access the author's self-archived draft. Unless Morris believes that journals add no value that is worth paying for, this scenario does not spell the end of journals; just the end of needless access-denial and impact-loss for researchers, and a lessening of the stress for librarians.
Excerpt from Sally Morris' letter:
In reply to Stevan Harnad's letter, I would like to make clear that the concern of publishers about the possible impact on their journal subscriptions/licences of self-archiving in repositories, should the practice ever become widespread, is both rational and well-founded. As we made clear in our letter to Research Councils UK, many publishers are already noticing indications that when readers can find the same or even 'good enough' versions of content freely accessible on the web, they are happy to use it rather than the publisher's 'added-value' version. In particular, the Institute of Physics Publishing has noted that downloads are much lower for those journals whose full content is available in the arXiv physics repository. We believe that librarians are rational people, trying to cope with budgets which are inadequate to purchase all the resources their users require. It would, surely, be irrational not to cancel first those journals which your users can do without because they have access to - and are using - freely available versions of the same content. We are currently seeking more information about the role that free availability plays in librarians' cancellation decisions, but in the meantime simply denying that is has any role does not seem very sensible. We do not argue that publishers have a right to exist and to make money; of course publishing exists to serve scholarship, and not the other way round. Indeed, dissemination is at the heart of the mission of every learned society. We simply ask that those who are advocating policies which risk damaging, or even destroying, journals think about the consequences to scholarship: how would the management of peer review, and the 'branding' of articles as being of particular relevance and importance to a specific community of interest, be funded? And what would be the impact on learned societies' other activities (such as conferences, travel bursaries and research funding)? Simply to say that publishers could switch to an 'open-access publishing' model is not good enough - the evidence available to date (see, for example, our recent study and Mary Waltham's analysis for the UK's Joint Information Systems Committee) suggests that this is not always a viable alternative.
I'm sure you've heard that researchers have sequenced the genome of the dog. But it's important to add that the sequence data are OA at several sites around the world (here, here, here, here, here, and here).
(PS: The fact that the sequencing effort cost $30 million was not an argument to restrict access to the data and meter it out only to paying customers. On the contrary, like most science, this was an investment in future research and future benefits, not an investment in an income-producing asset. Scientific research best repays the investment when it is shared among all who can make use of it.)
Good advice from John Blossom for publishers frightened of search engines and OA competition:
The solution is not to blame the newcomers to publishing but to learn how to adapt to a new landscape that will not have much tolerance for paying for things just because it suits outdated business models.
(PS: The context is book publishing and the clueless, almost other-worldly complaints of Francisco Pinto Balsemao, head of the European Publishers Council, blogged here yesterday. But Blossom's advice carries over to the domain of journals and self-archiving. If applied to the 11/24 Royal Society position statement, it could be translated this way: The solution is not to blame OA archiving but to learn how to adapt to a new landscape.... Or, as we've been saying for years, the purpose of OA is not to punish publishers who make excessive profits but to take advantage of new opportunities created by the internet to advance all the purposes of science and scholarship.)
Google is hiring a Strategic Partner Manager for Google Scholar. (Thanks to T.J. Sondermann.) From the job ad:
Google's rapidly growing content partnerships organization is looking for a Strategic Partner Manager who will be responsible for maintaining and growing strategic relationships with our Google Scholar partners. These partners include the top scholarly publishers, aggregators and repositories in the US and abroad. You will be in charge of managing existing partner relationships, recruiting new partners to join Google Scholar and representing Google's brand and interests to partners as well as at industry events.
(PS: Please forward the ad link to a few good people.)
Bozena Bednarek-Michalska, Free Access to Information and Knowledge or Educational Exclusion? World’s Trends versus Poland, Bulletin EBIB, 63, 2, 2005. (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)
Abstract: The article deals with transformations in the area of access to scientific resources that have occurred around the world in the past several years. In particular, the article discusses the open access and open archives model, as well as, changes in financing projects to create research study archives. Additionally, the current conditions surrounding this area in Poland are analysed.
Eileen Gifford Fenton and Roger C. Schonfeld, The Shift Away From Print, Inside Higher Ed, December 8, 2005. Excerpt:
For most scholarly journals, the transition away from the print format and to an exclusive reliance on the electronic version seems all but inevitable, driven by user preferences for electronic journals and concerns about collecting the same information in two formats. But this shift away from print, in the absence of strategic planning by a higher proportion of libraries and publishers, may endanger the viability of certain journals and even the journal literature more broadly — while not even reducing costs in the ways that have long been assumed....In reaching this conclusion, we rely largely on a series of studies, of both publishers and libraries, in which we examined some of the incentives for a transition and some of the opportunities and challenges that present themselves. Complete findings of our library study, on which we partnered with Don King and Ann Okerson, were published as The Nonsubscription Side of Periodicals. We also recently completed a study of the operations of 10 journal publishers, in conjunction with Mary Waltham, an independent publishing consultant....On the publisher side, the transition to online journals has been facilitated by some of the largest publishers, commercial and nonprofit. These publishers have already invested in and embraced a dual-format mode of publishing; they have diversified their revenue streams with separately identifiable income from both print and now increasingly electronic formats. Although the decreasing number of print subscriptions may have a negative impact on revenues, these publishers’ pricing has evolved [PS: i.e. soared] alongside the economies of online only delivery to mitigate the effects of print cancellations on the bottom line....Other journal publishers, especially smaller nonprofit scholarly societies in the humanities and social sciences and some university presses, are only beginning to make this transition. Even when they publish electronic versions in addition to print, these publishers have generally been slower to reconceive their business models to accommodate a dual-format environment that might rapidly become electronic-only. Their business models depend on revenues received from print, in some cases with significant contributions from advertising, and are often unable to accommodate significant print cancellations in favor of electronic access....In the past year or two, the movement away from print by users in higher education has expanded and accelerated....Ongoing budget shortfalls in academe have probably been the underlying motivation. The strategic pricing models offered by some of the largest publishers, which offer a price reduction for the cancellation of print, have provided a financial incentive for libraries to contemplate completing the transition....As demand for print journals continues to decline and economies of scale of print collections are lost, there is likely to be a tipping point at which continued collecting of print no longer makes sense and libraries begin to rely only upon journals that are available electronically....A disconcerting number of nonprofit publishers, especially scholarly societies and university presses that have the greatest presence in the humanities and social sciences fields, have a particularly complicated transition to make. The university presses and scholarly societies have been traditionally strong allies of academic libraries. They may have priced their electronic journals generously (and unrealistically). Consequently, a business model revamped to accommodate the transition may often result in a significant price increase for the electronic format. In cases where price increases are not predatory but rather adjustments for earlier unrealistic prices, libraries should act with empathy. If libraries cancel journals based on large percentage price increases (even when, measured in dollars, the increases are trivial), they may unintentionally punish lower-price publishers struggling to make the transition as efficiently as possible....The community has a need for collaborative solutions like Project Muse or HighWire, (initiatives that provide the infrastructure to create and distribute electronic journals) for the scholarly societies that publish the smaller journals in the humanities and social sciences. But if such solutions are not developed or cannot succeed in relatively short order on a broader scale, the alternative may be the replacement of many of these journals with blogs, repositories, or other less formal distribution models....The widespread migration from print to electronic seems likely to eliminate library ownership of new accessions, with licensing taking the place of purchase [PS: for electronic TA journals but not for OA journals]. In cases where ownership led to certain expectations or practices, these will have to be rethought in a licensing-only environment.
Klaus Graf has written an open letter (in German) to the Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen protesting the terms of its standard publishing contract that require authors to give up copyright and the hope of providing OA to their own work. He makes good use of the Max Planck Society advice: authors should "Take care when signing future contracts with publishers! For future submissions to commercial or not-for-profit publishers, please be aware that signing an exclusive license or a full Copyright Transfer Agreement might narrow any further personal or scientific use."
OCLC released a report today, Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources showing that "information consumers view libraries as places to borrow print books, but they are unaware of the rich electronic content they can access through libraries." From the press release:
"We wanted to know more about people's information-seeking practices and preferences, how familiar people are with the wide variety of e-resources libraries provide for their users, and how libraries compare to other information resources, particularly Web-based resources," said Cathy De Rosa, Vice President, OCLC Marketing & Library Services, and a principal contributor to the report....Among the findings of the report:...Respondents do not trust purchased information more than free information...."The information resource market—tools, content and access—is growing, not shrinking, providing more options and more choices to people using the Web to search for information and content," said Ms. De Rosa. "Libraries are seen as a place for traditional resources—such as books, reference materials and research assistance—and to get access to the internet. The results of this survey confirm that libraries are not seen as the top choice for access to electronic resources."
JISC reports that the Exchange for Learning (X4L) program has developed resources to help teachers create, use, and share online courseware. From the announcement:
The X4L programme has been developing online teaching materials and exploring the many issues involved in promoting the sharing of such resources. Susan Eales, Programme Manager of the X4L Programme, said: “Ensuring staff have the skills to repurpose learning materials was a main aim of the X4L Programme. All projects took this very seriously and have developed some excellent resources to support the staff involved. We have made this special site available in the belief that others may find these materials useful too. The site is a testament to all the dedication and hard work of all those involved in X4L.” The materials cover many different kinds of resources, some of which could be used immediately for staff development; others could be used as a basis to create your own staff development materials. The resources have been categorised based on topic, intended user and type of resource. The resources also come with additional information including descriptions of how the resource might be used in a staff development context.
The DLF Aquifer project has released the DLF MODS Implementation Guidelines for Cultural Heritage Materials and invites public comment on them until January 20, 2006. From the announcement:
The primary goal of the Aquifer Initiative is to enable distributed content to be used effectively by libraries and scholars for teaching, learning, and research. The provision of rich, shareable metadata for this distributed content is an important step towards this goal. To this end, the Metadata Working Group of the DLF Aquifer Initiative has developed a set of implementation guidelines for the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS). These guidelines are meant specifically for metadata records that are to be shared whether by the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI PMH) or other means and that describe digital cultural heritage and humanities-based scholarly resources. In order to ensure the Implementation Guidelines are useful and coherent, we are collecting comments and feedback from the wider digital library community.
William Davies, Open or closed: how the net will be won, VNUNet, December 7, 2005. Excerpt:
As this myth has it, the internet is home to a number of peace-loving communities, who use it to work collaboratively, create amateur cultural artefacts and naively resist the nasty capitalist world outside. But pitched against them are music publishers, proprietary software companies and film distributors, living only according to the laws of the marketplace. This is idealism versus realism; gift cultures versus economics. Both sides have an interest in sustaining this myth. Open source coders, Creative Commons publishers and the Wikipedia crowd use a subtly anti-capitalist ideology to win grass-roots support and persuade individuals to work for them for free. Meanwhile, the rights-holders that sit on the other side of the argument do not mind being represented as hard-nosed businessmen, given that this tends to win them credibility with governments. They are quite happy to acknowledge the idealism of their opponents, but can simply shrug and say that economic reality is different. But does any of this stack up? First, we must look at this notion that open access projects hold the moral high ground, but lack any economic underpinnings. This is false in both respects. One may have an innate dislike of cash, but it is not entirely clear why gift economies – such as open source coding – are morally superior to their closed access, proprietary alternatives. What do these communities have to say about the digital divide? What are they doing to mobilise IT in support of elderly or disabled people? Meanwhile, it is quite obvious that open access projects are intimately linked to the marketplace; indeed they are viewed by economists as very beneficial. Open source is big business, with large numbers of companies choosing to sell services on the back of free software, instead of selling the software itself....Economists have no problem explaining such phenomena. According to economic logic, the free exchange of information is not a threat to a successful market system, but an important component of it. Only in a culture where people are able to share advice, recommendations and samples does trade ever take place at all. So what about the second half of the frontier myth? Is it not the case that content industries are the scary face of successful capitalism? Again, not really. Morally speaking, it is preposterous to stereotype intellectual property (IP) law as a means of promoting the interests of business over those of the public. There are instances where IP extends too far, and we should ask whether or not businesses have too much protection....Things vary from industry to industry, but what we should not tolerate is the idea that economic logic points invariably to stronger protection, while moral logic to weaker protection. As difficult as it may be to accept, nothing in this terrain is black and white.
From yesterday's LANL Research Library News:
Rick Luce, Director of the LANL Research Library, has been honored by the Board of Directors of the Ibero-America Science and Technology Education Consortium (ISTEC) for his "support for the development of digital libraries in Latin America, and for your vision that resulted in the adoption of the Brazilian Declaration on Open Access in 2004." Rick received the award in November 2005 at a ceremony at the ISTEC headquarters in Albuquerque.
Helena Spongenberg, Group: Online Content Cannot Remain Free, Associated Press, December 6, 2005. Excerpt:
European publishers warned Tuesday that they cannot keep allowing Internet search engines such as Google Inc. to make money from their content. "The new models of Google and others reverse the traditional permission-based copyright model of content trading that we have built up over the years," said Francisco Pinto Balsemao, the head of the European Publishers Council, in prepared remarks for a speech at a Brussels conference. His stance backs French news agency AFP, which is suing Google for pulling together photos and story excerpts from thousands of news Web sites. "It is fascinating to see how these companies 'help themselves' to copyright-protected material, build up their own business models around what they have collected, and parasitically, earn advertising revenue off the back of other people's content," he said. "This is unlikely to be sustainable for publishers in the longer term." The news section of Google's Web site doesn't display ads. But the Mountain View, Calif.-based company depends on visitors clicking on ads in other parts of its Web site to generate a substantial portion of its revenue, which totaled $4.2 billion through the first nine months of this year. Responding to Balsemao's remarks, Google spokesman Steve Langdon said: "Search engines do not reproduce content. They help users find content by pointing to where it exists on the Web." Google removes Web sites from its news index if a publisher doesn't want the content listed, Langdon said. Balsemao said consumers were drawn online by free content but this needed to change, he said. "The value of content must be understood by consumers so that new business models can evolve. Industry must have legal certainty and the confidence that their intellectual property will be protected.
(PS: Note to Balsemao: Excluding your content from search engines is unlikely to be sustainable for publishers in the longer term.)
Anand Parthasarathy, Towards an all-digital book world, The Hindu, December 8, 2005. Excerpt, after reviewing the controversy over Google Book Search:
Meanwhile, nations like India have been prodded into their own initiatives to digitise and preserve their rich legacy of the printed word. The Digital Library of India was launched two years ago with the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science as the nodal agency with the backing of the Union ministry of Communication and Information Technology and the U.S.-based Carnegie Mellon University. Repositories of rare collections including Kanchi University, Sringeri Mutt, the Academy of Sanskrit Research at Melkote near Mysore, the Tirumala-Tirupathi Devasthanam, SASTRA Tanjore, various Tibetan monasteries as well as Rastrapathi Bhavan are partners in the DLI project. In a separate initiative, the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi has also begun digitising its huge collection of half a million titles including a priceless collection of newspaper cuttings. Sate-level initiatives include the digitising of all 17 volumes of Epigraphia Carnatica, with help from the Indian Council of Historical Research. A Bangalore-based company, Newgen Software, is turning the entire collection dating back to the 2nd century BC into CD format. Mysore is also home to the Vidyanidhi project, which seeks to create a single national database of PhD dissertations. Such regional and national initiatives aside, the world is slowly groping towards a model of information sharing where money or the lack of it should never be a barrier. The Open Access Initiative specifically targets access to scientific and research information, which is often denied to developing countries because they are sewn up by a handful of costly journals and their publishers. At the Tunis World Summit on The Information Society in November, Subbiah Arunachalam, distinguished fellow of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai, was one of a small group of committed scientists pleading for new seamless digital delivery systems for knowledge sharing. (See their monograph.) Hopefully, such academic initiatives, and the more hard-nosed ones from the Googles of the world, will make common cause in the global challenge of seamless, ego-less information sharing.
Channel View Publications is offering OA to the back runs of seven of its journals, and its parent company, Multilingual Matters, is offering OA to the back runs of 11 more. From the press release (undated but apparently released today):
This move applies to all titles and will create a searchable archive of all issues that are available online up to and including 2003 volumes. The range of volumes that are made available will be kept under review. Print copies of back issues will continue to be available for purchase....This announcement comes amidst increasing interest and, in some cases, concern surrounding access to scientific information. Channel View Publications believe that it is vital that publishers, academics and librarians continue to search for ways that research can be made available to the widest possible audience whilst maintaining the financial viability of the publishing process. In reality, given differences in funding, this will probably mean a combination of approaches depending on the size of journal, the geographical focus and the disciplinary areas. Some journals will opt for an open access, ìauthor paysî model (assuming funding is available), whilst others will retain a more traditional subscriptions model, but with efforts being made to allow wider access. Such efforts may include open access to back issues, as with the offer above, and/or geographical open access for institutions and academics that do not have the funding to subscribe (Multilingual Matters/ Channel View Publications already offer free or reduced price subscriptions to libraries in developing countries).
Donald MacLeod, Royal Society attacked for 'negative' open access stance, The Guardian, December 7, 2005.
A group of 46 distinguished scientists, including Nobel laureate James Watson, today strongly criticised the Royal Society, the UK's national academy of science, for its "negative" attitude to new online methods of publishing research. The row has erupted over so-called "open access" agreements, under which scientists agree to make their findings freely available on the internet as well as, or instead of, publishing them in academic journals. This is being strongly promoted by the UK's research councils, as well as bodies like the Wellcome Trust, as the most efficient way of disseminating scientific results from the research they fund but has been bitterly opposed by publishers and learned societies which produce their own journals. Last month the Royal Society, founded in 1660, called for caution in what it called "the biggest change in the way that knowledge is exchanged since the invention of the peer-reviewed scientific journal 340 years ago". The society warned that "the exchange of knowledge could be severely disrupted, and researchers and wider society will suffer the resulting consequences." This statement sparked a flurry of heated online exchanges between scientists around the world, including the elite membership of the Royal Society, and today culminated in an open letter signed by 46 of its fellows expressing disappointment with the society's attempt to delay implementation of the research councils' policy and accusing the society of putting its own interests above those of science. The signatories, including James Watson who discovered the structure of DNA, and Sir John Sulston, who headed the British end of the human genome project, state: "As working scientists who support open access to published research, we believe that the society should support Research Councils UK's (RCUK) proposal, rather than oppose it. "The proposed RCUK policy will ensure that the results of research funded by the research councils are made freely and rapidly available, maximising their utility not only to the scholarly community in the United Kingdom and around the world, but also to practitioners (including doctors and nurses) and to the British public whose taxes largely support the research. "In seeking to delay or even to block the proposed RCUK policy, the Royal Society appears to be putting the concerns of existing publishers (including the society itself) ahead of the needs of science. The position statement ignores considerable evidence demonstrating the viability of open access, instead warning ominously of 'disastrous' consequences for science publishing. We believe that these concerns are mistaken."
Jeffrey Young, Browser-Based Software Will Help Scholars Organize Information Found Online, Researchers Say, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 6, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
The Web browser has become an essential tool for many academics, a versatile window into books, journal articles, blogs, and other research materials. Why not create a customized browser with professors' needs in mind? That is the logic behind Firefox Scholar, a software package under development by researchers at George Mason University that will help users organize and cite materials they have found online. The open-source software, which developers plan to release free sometime next year, will plug into the popular Firefox browser, which is also open source. "A good way of thinking about it is incredibly smart bookmarking," says Daniel J. Cohen, an assistant professor of history at George Mason who is working on the project. "You're not just bookmarking the page, but you're automatically [capturing] author, title, all that info that scholars want to save."...For the browser-based software to work fully, however, digital archives must format their books and articles in a way that lets it sort out where elements like title, author, and other bibliographic information reside. Some digital collections already do that, and others could make minor adjustments to comply, says Mr. Cohen. Roy Rosenzweig, a professor of history and new media at the university, says the new browser would also allow researchers to automatically save a copy of an online article or Web page and make annotations on those saved pages. That's better than a shoebox full of notecards and photocopied articles, says Mr. Rosenzweig....A beta version of the software is expected by summer or later next year through the center's Web site.
Majied Robinson, Hindawi Open Access: Author-Pays Pays Off, EPS Insights, December 6, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
Hindawi Publishing Corporation represents a new breed of journal publisher. Less than a decade old and based in the Middle East, it publishes 31 mainly European and North American journals in niche STM fields. While many of these journals are supported by subscriptions, Hindawi sees its future in terms of Open Access publishing, and specifically OA publishing supported by author contribution. Can this OA model be economically viable? The ALPSP report "The Facts About Open Access" found that only a handful of OA journals were supporting themselves with author side charges - the rest relied on advertising and sponsorship. As for the major players, Springer's author fee service, Open Choice, had accepted only two dozen articles in the year following its introduction. This is not the case at Cairo-based Hindawi Publishing Corporation. Founded by Egyptian professor Ahmed Hindawi in 1997, the company has moved from publishing a handful of mathematics journals to engaging in OA in a serious way. Of its 31 journals (all fully peer reviewed), 12 are true OA, supported by fees raised by author submission of articles. The company claims to have grown by 40-50% in the past four years, and aims to keep growing at this rate for the next four to five years. Significantly, the company aims to maintain this growth by expanding the reach of its OA, author-pays model. In an interview with EPS, Hindawi's Senior Publishing Developer Paul Peters said that the company was looking to acquire more titles to digitise and make freely available (all articles published by Hindawi are available on a Creative Commons license), as well as the establishment of new journals in new fields....[One factor in Hindawi's success is price.] With the Springer Open Choice service, accepted articles can be published in the author's choice of journal (Springer's catalogue contains some very prestigious titles) but for this the author would be charged USD3,000. The ALPSP report found most charges were in the range of USD2,000 to USD4,700. It typically costs USD495 to submit an article to Hindawi journals, though some titles charge on a per-page basis.
Update. A full text copy of this article is now OA at the Hindawi site.
Forty-two Fellows of the Royal Society (FRS), including five Nobel laureates, have written an open letter (December 7) to the Royal Society dissenting from its November 24 position statement on OA. The letter remains open for more signatures. Excerpt:
As Fellows of the Royal Society, we would like to express our disappointment with the Society's recent position statement on open access to published research. The society's statement, which takes a largely negative stance on open access, appears to be aimed at delaying implementation of the Research Councils UK's proposed policy on access to research outputs. As working scientists who support open access to published research, we believe that the Society should support RCUK's proposal, rather than oppose it. The proposed RCUK policy will ensure that the results of research funded by the Research Councils are made freely and rapidly available, maximizing their utility not only to the scholarly community in the United Kingdom and around the world, but also to practitioners (including doctors and nurses) and to the British public whose taxes largely support the research. The RCUK policy has strong backing from librarians and academics, and has received official support from Universities UK, the organization that represents UK university vice-chancellors and principals. In seeking to delay or even to block the proposed RCUK policy, the Royal Society appears to be putting the concerns of existing publishers (including the Society itself) ahead of the needs of science. The position statement ignores considerable evidence demonstrating the viability of open access, instead warning ominously of 'disastrous' consequences for science publishing. We believe that these concerns are mistaken. The move towards open access to research literature builds on the tradition of making research data openly available, a standard that is well established within the scientific community. For example, free availability of genetic data, such as the genome sequences of humans, mice, pathogens and plants, has greatly accelerated the pace of research in both academic and commercial settings.
(PS: The letter shows that the Royal Society did not speak for its Fellows or even consult them on this question.)
Bioinorganic Chemistry & Applications is an Open Access journal published by Hindawi Publishing. The journal's raison d'être "... is to publish original research ..." "...relating to metalloenzymes and model compounds, metal-based drugs, biomaterials, biocatalysis and bioelectronics, metals in biology and medicine, metals toxicology and metals in the environment, metal interactions with biomolecules and spectroscopic applications." Bioinorganic Chemistry & Applications - Fulltext v1+ (2003+); ISSN: 1565-3633.
Stevan Harnad, DASER 2 IR Meeting and NIH Public Access Policy, Open Access Archivangelism, December 5, 2005. Excerpt:
This is a summary (from my own viewpoint) of the Washington meeting this weekend sponsored by American Society for Information Science & Technology (ASIST)....DASER 2 rehearsed some familiar developments, highlighted some of them, and brought out one potentially important new one (re. the NIH Public Access Policy)....[T]argeting the self-archiving of institutional peer-reviewed science/engineering article output, in order to maximise its visibility, usage and impact, rather than digital curation in general...was not the urgent priority [of the DASER meeting]. Indeed, there are good reasons for expecting that if the IR movement first puts its full weight and energy behind the focussed archiving of 100% of each institution's own OA IR target content, that will itself prove to be the most effective way to launch and advance the more general digital-curation agenda too....The only IRs that are well along the road toward toward 100% OA are the ones that also have an institutional self-archiving requirement. Without that, spontaneous OA self-archiving is hovering at about 5% - 15% globally. Which brings us to the last and newest development reported at DASER: The NIH Public Access Policy is flawed and failing -- its deposit rate is at about 2%, which is even below the global average for spontaneous self-archiving. But the good news is that NIH has realized this, and is planning to do something about it. The question is: what?...First, it is important to face the 3 flaws of the current NIH policy very forthrightly. Here they are, in order of severity: (1) Deposit is requested rather than required. (2) The request is not for immediate deposit but deposit within one year of publication. (3) The request is for deposit in PubMed Central (PMC) rather than in the author's own IR, from which PMC could harvest it....NIH can have what it wants -- 100% of its funded content in PMC within a year of publication -- while still requiring the author's final draft to be deposited immediately upon acceptance for publication, (preferably in the author's IR, harvestable by PMC, but absent that, directly deposited in PMC). That leaves only the question of how to set the access-privileges, and now those can be merely the subject of a (strong) request to set them to OA immediately upon deposit -- but with the option left open (sic) for the author to set access instead as restricted to institution-internal and PMC-harvestable (or, for PMC, PMC-administrative-only) if the author has reason to prefer that (the reason presumably being that the article is published in one of the 7% of journals that are not yet green on immediate OA self-archiving)....[T]his policy will immediately drive up NIH deposits from their current 2% level to 100%, because deposit will be a fulfilment condition on receiving the NIH grant. But no, it is not true that it will not generate immediate 100% OA. For it can generate that too, with a far smaller delay-loop than 12 months: something more of the order of a few minutes to 12 hours at most.
Naomi Lubick, Open access wide open, GeoTimes, December 2005. Excerpt:
Open-access publishing has been heralded both as the savior of scientific literature and the death of publishing, but after less than a decade of the practice, its impact remains uncertain. A new review [PS: the Kaufman-Wills report, 10/11/05] indicates that the success of these free and open journals also remains to be seen. About 1,600 journals have followed the open-access model, whereas more than 20,000 non-open-access journals are regularly published around the world. The movement to make scientific journals freely available has been growing worldwide in recent years, with added attention in the United States due partly to a policy introduced last year by the National Institutes of Health. The federal agency encourages its researchers to enter their papers in an online database open to the public, within six months of publication....The big surprises, says Sally Morris, head of the ALPSP, came from data showing that the majority of open-access journals responding did not charge author fees to publish their research, which is a different policy from two-thirds of non-open-access publications. Open-access journals tend to be “more reliant on grant funding or internal subsidy, which is slightly invisible,” Morris says, including staff, computing resources and other services provided by a university or other institution. Those subsidies are significant for the journals, of which, on average, are in their sixth year of publication — the general time period when most new journals can be considered established, editorially and financially. Morris says that for most open-access journals, editorial oversight was higher than expected, but not quite as high as the peer-review standards set by more established journals. Three-quarters of these journals also copyedit texts, but to a lesser extent than non-open-access publications do. When removing the two largest publishers of full open-access journals, which account for almost half the total number reporting, the trends were similar for both open- and non-open-access publications, however. The survey’s “diversity of responses and strategies” indicates “the diversity of content types, mission, need, audiences” and other factors for journals, says Michael Jensen, director of publishing technologies for the National Academies Press, in Washington, D.C. That breadth, he says, is “probably more indicative of the transitional characteristics of this peculiar period in scholarly publishing.” Indeed, journals’ practices and business plans vary widely, as do the accepted practices across disciplines, Morris points out. Some traditional journals now make their content free after a limited amount of time during which readers must pay to access content. “What I think will happen,” says Christian Toelg, director of business development for NEC Laboratories America, “is that you will be able to find many research papers online for free, either through Web search[es] or digital archives. What will make the difference will be the services you get on top of the actual content.” Value-added activities, such as copyediting, he says, eventually may allow publishers “to make up for lost content revenue with service revenue.”
The new issue of Library Hi Tech (vol. 23, no. 4, 2005) is devoted to open-source software for libraries. Some describe open-source software used for OA, such as Rida Benjelloun's article on Archimède, the archiving software, and John Willinsky's article about Open Journal Systems, the journal management software.
C. Neal Stewart, Jr., Open-Source Agriculture, ISB News Report, December 2005. Excerpt:
Computer software is amenable for duplication, modification, and improvement and therefore has greater utility and value … DNA as well. Sharing software freely has enabled the open-source movement and has led to numerous innovations in operating systems and products. What about open-sourcing DNA–is that the key to agricultural innovation and feeding an ever-growing population? One person who thinks so is Richard Jefferson, of GUS reporter gene fame, who is the director of CAMBIA and its new offshoot, BiOS (Biological Innovation for Open Society). BiOS and other organizations such as PIPRA (Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture) are promoting open access to biological innovations targeted to agricultural improvement, especially for crops most important to the developing world. Currently there are relatively few companies, located mainly (about 75%) in the private sector, that hold patents on crucial agricultural biotechnologies; however, Jefferson believes those few companies could be using those patents to "dominate then destroy an industry." Alternatively, he is advocating parallel engineering -–that is, the creation of redundant inventions to endow freedom to operate. A perfect example of this is the TransBacter system -–the ‘new Agro'3–in which bacteria other than Agrobacterium tumefaciens were shown to transfer DNA stably into plant genomes. Indeed, CAMBIA is providing free access to Sinorhizobium meliloti, Mesorhizobium loti, and Rhizobium sp. NGR234 as Agrobacterium alternatives. Much work remains to increase the transformation efficiency provided by these bacteria, but the research is seminal. CAMBIA allows researchers to use these bacteria for free in non-profit and for-profit research and product development; but, in return, the recipient must pledge to make any subsequent improvements freely accessible to others....Whether the CAMBIA/BiOS, PIPRA, or some other organization ultimately succeeds in facilitating increased access to the biotechnological tools of agricultural science, the beginning of the 21st century should be noted for initiating these important steps toward agricultural equity between North and South. Who knows what will eventually work, but matters as weighty as political instability, mass starvation, and world economic depression could weigh in the balance of the eventual outcome.
Tao Zhu and six co-authors, Construction and characterization of a rock-cluster-based EST analysis pipeline, Computational Biology and Chemistry, November 28, 2005. Only this abstract is free online for non-subscribers:
Open access to vast amount of expression sequence tags (ESTs) data in the public databases has provided a powerful platform for gene identification, gene expression studies and comparative/functional genomic studies. To facilitate management of large-scale EST data, high performance cluster and analysis softwares, especially parallel softwares, are fundamentally essential. We reported herein a convenient approach to construct a high performance computating (HPC) cluster based on popular Rocks and a perl-scripted analysis pipeline for EST pre-processing, clustering, assembling and annotation and any other desired analysis modules through parallel computing. We tested the system using different datasets on increasing nodes. Our present results showed that the cluster and pipeline accelerate the EST analysis without artificial interference.
Denys N. Wheatley, Cell biology as the basis of a better understanding of cancer, Cancer Cell International, November 30, 2005.
Abstract: Clinicians will argue that cancer can only really receive the treatment that is needed through thorough understanding of medicine. However, even empirical approaches to therapy result in experimental analysis of the agencies involved on test cells, usually in culture. From the obverse perspective, cell biologists will argue that until we fully understand cell cycle regulation, tumour management will be too imprecise to make the best advances. A forum is needed whereby the fundamental studies on cells prior to, during and after transformation in vitro can be freely reported (open access) and discussed. The action of anticancer agents and cancer preventative substances can more easily be studied in vitro before the often excessive complexity of making similar studies in experimental and human cancers is tackled. Cancer Cell International is committed to providing such a forum. Ironically within a few months of launching this open access journal, Elsevier had much the same idea, and there one has to pay for the privilege of downloading vital papers in this biomedical field.
Gopala Kovvali, New paradigms, New Hopes: The Need for Socially Responsible Research on Carcinogenesis, Journal of Carcinogenesis, November 21, 2005.
Abstract: It has been three years since the publication of the first article in the Journal of Carcinogenesis; it was the editorial that espoused the need for the launch of the journal. Having seen three springs and three falls, it is time to ask where we are as a journal and where we want to be in the years to come. The past three years have been satisfying publishing years for JC, given the fact that it is an online publication with processing charges paid by the authors under the open access model and there has been stiff competition from the established print journals. The quality of manuscripts published in JC is very impressive and I am confident that it will only improve as the journal grows. Scientists seem to be conditioned to measure the quality of a journal and the articles it publishes in terms of 'impact factor'. I am glad that JC has made a significant impact on the carcinogenesis research community and I am sure that an impact factor for the journal will follow soon.
JISC has a short report on the OA session at Online Educa Berlin 2005 (Berlin, November 30 - December 2, 2005). Excerpt:
JISC had a joint stand at the conference exhibition with Dutch counterpart the SURF Foundation. The two organisations also came together for a session on Open Access Publishing. Dr Malcolm Read, JISC Executive Secretary and Leo Waaijers of SURF gave a brief update on their own organisations’ activities in this area. Leo Waaijers spoke first about SURF’s repositories programme DARE and one of its outputs, the Cream of Science, which makes the research papers and articles of nearly 200 Dutch academics freely available. However, he said, while much was being done, there was still a lack of international awareness about the benefits of making research outputs freely available. But it is not only research outputs, but also doctoral theses, conference proceedings and other scholarly materials that could be made available in this way. Dr Malcolm Read, speaking for JISC, said that the fruits of publicly-funded scientific research should be made publicly available through institutional repositories. There is a place for publishers to add value to research outputs, he said, but a balance needed to be established that gave greater control of research outputs to the authors who conducted the research and the institutions which funded them. A debate followed in which the subjects of advocacy and communications, copyright, and digital literacy were prominent. A consensus emerged which suggested that while national and international organisations needed to take the lead, real change would only emerge once institutions themselves became convinced of the need to address this issue.
Steve Heller, Open Access/Open Source/Open Data and the IUPAC International Chemical Identifier (INChI), a PPT presentation delivered at the 1st German Conference on Chemoinformatics (Goslar, November 13-15, 2005).
Sarah Thomas, Advancing Scholarship Through Library Collaboration, in Eerland Kolding Nielson et al. (eds.), Advancing Scholarship Through Library Collaboration, in Die Innovative Bibliothek: Elmar Mittler zum 65. Geburtstag, Muenchen: K.G. Sur, 2005, pp. 67-75. Self-archived August 23, 2005. Thomas is the University Librarian at Cornell University. (Thanks to Joe Esposito.)
Abstract: This paper traces the history of library cooperation, from early attempts such as the Farmington Plan through successes in tech services and collection development, and from national to international cooperation. The author suggests that the only way libraries can now successfully confront the societal and economic pressures they are now facing is through continued cooperation. This continued cooperation might be realized in the creation of regional repositories, the pooling of information and data, or continued collaboration with creators of information via open access and institutional repositories. Every division of the library, including acquisitions, cataloging, and digitization, will need to be involved in this continued collaboration for the library to continue its success in the twenty-first century.
From the body of the paper:
More recently, [librarians] have been building institutional or digital repositories to make available a broad spectrum of original works—electronic books and articles, but also multimedia, coursework, data, and other types of materials. With tools such as DSpace and Fedora to enable repository development, librarians are serving as potential catalysts in the deconstruction of the present journal publication model, which, in its existing form is economically unsustainable. They facilitate the uncoupling of the publication of research from peer review, tenure and promotion decisions, and simple dissemination. Journal and e-book management software enables the library to enter into the realm of the publisher even more directly, but with a different motivation than commercial publishers seeking a return on investment. The widespread availability of open source software such as DSpace, Fedora, and DPubS allows multiple institutions to participate in the maintenance and enhancement of products in a way that distributes the cost effectively and inexpensively. This in turn will allow librarians to become a new breed of publisher. The Open Access movement promoted by SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Research Coalition) is taking hold, with an increasing number of journals being made freely available to readers. Research libraries have, therefore, at least two modes for disseminating scholarship in a low- or no-barrier form. They can build repositories for local or disciplinary-based information, which then, using protocols such as OAI (Open Archives Initiative), can be harvested and federated by search engines. Alternatively, they can use journal management software to bring the editorial efforts of scholarly societies, universities and academic departments to the public. In either case, they contribute to advancing timely, economical access to scholarly literature in way that has the potential to transform the present unsustainable construct into a vibrant endeavor. They bring to the table their experience with metadata, digital libraries, content, and users in a way that strongly enhances collaboration with authors, editors, and peer reviewers.