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Douglas G. Altman and three co-authors, Trials - using the opportunities of electronic publishing to improve the reporting of randomised trials, Trials, March 23, 2006. The lead editorial in this issue.
Abstract (provisional): This editorial introduces the new online, open access, peer-reviewed journal Trials. The journal considers manuscripts on any aspect of the design, performance, and findings of randomised controlled trials in any discipline related to health care, and also encourages the publication of protocols. Trialists will be able to provide the necessary detail for a true and complete scientific record. They will be able to communicate not only all outcome measures, as well as varying analyses and interpretations, but also in-depth descriptions of what they did and honest reflections about what they learnt. Trials also encourages articles covering generic issues related to trials, for example focussing on the design, conduct, analysis, interpretation, or reporting.
It turns out that some UK government agencies pay the Ordnance Survey, another government agency, for access to publicly-funded geodata. See the details at Free Our Data.
PS: In the US, the highly-regarded and publicly-funded Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports are not generally OA. Citizens who want copies often have to pay private-sector publishers, as do agencies of the federal government.
Andy Updegrove, Where (if anywhere) are the Boundaries of the Open Source Concept? Consortium Standards Bulletin, March 24, 2006. Excerpt:
Updegrove's article has spawned a Slashdot thread.
The Spring issue of the INASP Newsletter is now line. (HTML edition.) This issue has articles on Sri Lanka's National Science Library and Resource Centre (NSLRC), Scholars Without Borders, the Asia-Pacific Information Network (APIN), the Editing and Publication Association of Bangladesh, MedKnow Publications in India, talks between INASP and FAO at the Tunis WSIS pre-conference, government-subsidized electronic access to journals in India, and publishing a first-class journal on a shoestring in Nepal.
TextRelease has announced that GreyNet offers a New Road to Open Access. Excerpt:
Since the relaunch of GreyNet by TextRelease in 2003, authors both in the [Grey Literature] Conference Series as well as those contributing to The Grey Journal (TGJ) sign-on to a “non-exclusive rights agreement”. The authors remain free to deposit their own work in other online repositories, which they deem fit. This non-exclusive rights agreement further allows GreyNet to negotiate licensing and cooperative publishing exchange of the full text and metadata contained in its in-house content base."
Comment. In an email accompanying the announcement, TextRelease says that the grey road is a third path beyond the gold and green roads to OA. I must disagree. I applaud TextRelease for letting its authors deposit their work in OA repositories. But that's the green road. Many different rights agreements with publishers are compatible with OA archiving and TextRelease's agreement is just another in the series.
The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has published highlights of the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (Curtiba, Brazil, March 20-31, 2006). Excerpt:
The Secretariat introduced relevant documents (UNEP/CBD/COP/8/17, 17/Add.1, and 18). COLOMBIA stressed repatriation of information and, supported by many, collaboration with other initiatives. CANADA urged parties to provide free and open access to information and, supported by the EU, suggested reference to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. CHINA and CAMEROON highlighted supporting national clearing-house mechanisms.
BioMed Central issued a press release today announcing the addition of the Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry (BJOC) to PubMed Central.
Janice Hopkins Tanne, Researchers funded by NIH are failing to make data available, BMJ, March 25, 2006 (only the first 150 words are accessible to non-subscribers). Excerpt:
Most researchers who are funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) do not provide free public access to their papers by posting them on PubMed Central, says an NIH report. Mandatory posting may be necessary to ensure that free access is given in future, says the report. Prodded by federal departments and Congressional committees, the NIH last year announced a policy on public access to increase the availability of research that it funds. It asked researchers to submit their final, peer reviewed manuscripts to the PubMed Central database—the NIH's free digital archive of journal literature in the biomedical and life sciences—when their paper was accepted by a journal. However, less than 4% did so.
Carolyn Raffensperger, Reclaiming a Public Interest Research Agenda, On the Commons, March 23, 2006. Excerpt:
We – meaning you and I dear reader -- have paid for some really bad things through our public research dollars. Exhibit A: In the late 1990’s the research arm of the U.S. Dept of Agriculture teamed up with Delta and Pineland Co. to genetically engineer seed to make it sterile in the second generation, thus forcing farmers to buy seed every year. This rogue technology was named “Terminator Technology.” It’s not hard to see that Terminator was as anti-farmer and anti-consumer as any invention created. This hijacking of our research dollars prompted a group of us to draft a paper defining public interest research because we believed that when public money was involved, the public had a right to expect that research it funded would serve the public interest. It should add to the commonwealth and common health, not subtract from it. In that paper we said that public interest research “will be identified by its beneficiaries, the public availability of its results, and public involvement in the research. These key benchmarks identify public interest research:
Here are the OA-related excerpts from the paper Raffensberger wrote with 10 co-authors, Defining Public Interest Research (a 1999 white paper for the Science and Environmental Health Network; The Center for Rural Affairs; and the Consortium for Sustainable Agriculture, Research and Education) :
How are the data and results of publicly funded research kept in the public domain? Are they made available through the internet, public libraries, journals, press releases for media stories? Who decides how such results are used? ...Some would say that keeping information in the public domain does not rule out profit. The computer industry is experiencing the benefits of freely available programs and operating systems developed by volunteers. In some cases, companies continue to invest in systems they will not be able to own, and both the public and the company profit from the development this stimulates. But others wonder whether research that results in financial gain to universities, hospitals, and corporations qualifies as public interest research. American agriculture and society as a whole have benefited from the freely available information coming from publicly funded experimental stations and universities. This has begun to change, however, as patent laws assign ownership to information developed at public expense. While the privilege of patenting genes and organisms encourages investment in research and marketing to exploit these technologies, it also directs public money to private gain. When public funds have supported any aspect of research, it is difficult to reconcile the issuing of patents and the sealing off of proprietary information with the public interest.
Tom Wilson, Institutional open archives: Where are we now? Library and Information Update, April 2006. (Thanks to William Walsh.) Wilson is the editor of the OA journal, Information Research. Excerpt:
So, where are we with IOAs [Institutional Open Archives] in the UK? Five years is certainly long enough to determine a trend, and it is clear that the trend is for growth. In search of the trend, I examined the sites of those universities in the UK with IOAs (26 in all)....[PS: Omitting notes in sites included and excluded.] The cumulative growth curve looks impressive, but the picture revealed by the annual number of items recorded suggests that, rather than growing rapidly, the curve has levelled out....In fact, the data shows a very patchy record for the 22 archives, and one institution, the University of Southampton, holds more than 50 per cent of all items recorded over the period. Had I included departmental archives, the prominence of Southampton would have been even greater, as the Department of Electronics and Computer Science has an archive of 9,342 items – more than the total in the institutional archive – and if these were included Southampton would hold more than 75 per cent of the new total of 19,168 items....[I]n general, the humanities and social sciences are less well represented in IOA than are science, medicine and engineering....This suggests that universities in the UK may be finding it very hard to get the message of IOA through to all their constituent departments....By any measure it can hardly be claimed that the concept of open archiving has taken off in British universities and I don’t think that any of its protagonists would claim otherwise. The movement is at an early stage, with something in the order of 12 per cent of UK universities involved and with a minuscule proportion of the total research output covered by the IOA. For 2004, a search of the Web of Science for papers by authors whose address included ‘England’ produced 58,710 items and, when we exclude the Scottish universities from the table (since Scottish addresses were not searched for), we find that fewer than 2,000 of these have been archived in institutional archives....
Comment. Wilson is right to point to the draft RCUK policy as exemplary. But it has not yet been adopted and it appears to be weakening under the onslaught of publisher lobbying.
The Free Curricula Center (FCC) is a new service for producing distributing OA textooks and other teaching and learning resources. (Thanks to The Assayer.) From the site:
The Free Curricula Center (FCC) helps students worldwide reach their educational potential by producing and distributing university level curricula that can be copied freely and modified cooperatively. Specifically, FCC serves as a focal point for the development and sharing of textbooks, instructor guides, and other educational materials. These materials, called free curricula, are released at no cost into the public domain or under an "open source" style license. This license allows anyone to make and distribute copies without having to pay, and to modify the curricula as long as those modifications are released under the same terms. The Center helps its participants work together to create textbooks, instructor guides, and other materials for the subjects in which they have expertise. We do this by providing online tools to help educators collaborate successfully and by proving a space on the Internet where students can have free, easy access to their finished products. We also serve as a link to the resources of others, and mirror their material when permitted....In short, the Center wants to do for educational curricula what open source software has done for computing: focus cooperative efforts to bring about low cost, high quality alternatives to commercial products.
FCC currently offers two OA textbooks, one in philosophy and one in statistics. Submissions are evaluated by one of four committees, depending on the discipline. Authors may choose from a variety of open licenses. FCC also hosts several discussion lists on FCC issues in different fields and a (currently small) set of working papers on OA-related issues. It welcomes submissions, new members for its committees, participants in its discussion groups, and donations. For more details, see the FAQ.
Andrew Kantor, Net writing new chapter for science journals, USA Today, March 23, 2006. Excerpt:
While the Internet is certainly affecting how the mainstream media works, there’s another area that the anyone’s-a-publisher paradigm is affecting: the world of scientific journals. The place I used to work, the American Chemical Society, just laid off a bunch of people who put its journals together, outsourcing the operation to the company that prints them. The move is indicative of the pressure scientific organizations are feeling as a new generation of scientists enter the lab having grown up in an Internet world. The ACS and other science societies (as well as private publishers) make a lot of money selling science-journal subscriptions to university libraries....Scientists’ standing in their communities is determined by where they’ve published and how often those papers are cited. And believe me, these folks keep careful track of all those data. So publishing those journals is a great business: You get your content free, then charge university libraries thousands of dollars for subscriptions. In other words, colleges pay to receive the papers their own faculty has written....For a scientist, publications are currency. The more you publish, the more you’re worth in terms of the pecking order and - more importantly - the better shot you have at getting grants. And it’s that economy that the Internet is poised to shake up....
Margaret J. Pickton and Joanna Barwick, A Librarian's guide to Institutional Repositories, a preprint forthcoming from eLucidate.
Abstract: Institutional repositories (IRs) are a recent feature of the UK academic landscape. You may already have one at your workplace (in which case you might be better to skip to the next article); you will probably have heard the term being bandied about by your colleagues; you might even have come across one when trawling the web. But what is an IR? Should your institution have one? And if so, how would you go about creating it? These are some of the questions we hope to address in this short article.
Should OAI-compliant repositories use copyrighted metadata and limit harvesting to those who have prior permission? Klaus Graf argues against the practice in this posting to InetBib (in German). For example, the Humboldt University Berlin uses copyrighted metadata in its repository and would like to forbid harvesting by commercial users. Graf argues that the HUB policy is counterproductive and that existing literature on copyright and OAI (such as Gadd, Oppenheim, and Probets 2003) do not adequately explore these issues.
Stevan Harnad, Optimizing MIT's Open Access Policy, March 22, 2006. A response to the steps discussed at MIT's last faculty meeting (blogged here 3/21/06). Excerpt:
MIT has proposed two OA policy steps: compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy and seeking consensus on copyright retention....
Comment. (i) I agree that the current NIH policy is flawed. But while we work on strengthening the policy, it's better for researchers to comply than not to comply. Researchers can deposit the same articles in their institutional repository, if they like. When PubMed Central is set up to harvest grantee articles from IRs, then we can recommend that grantees deposit in their IRs instead of, rather than in addition to, PMC. (ii) The MIT contract amendment does not seek to "retain copyright" for authors, only to retain the rights needed for OA and a few other important scholarly uses. It's true that authors don't need to retain full copyright in order to consent to OA, and it's true that most journals already give permission for postprint archiving (without the need for special negotiations or contract language). But something like the MIT contract amendment is needed for those journals that do not already permit postprint archiving. (iii) I fully support Stevan's recommendations in ##5-6.
S.A. Mathieson and Michael Cross, Ordnance Survey challenged to open up, The Guardian, March 23, 2006. Excerpt:
The inventor of the world wide web has called for more open access to Ordnance Survey (OS) mapping data - and may get his wish later this year. Sir Tim Berners-Lee told an Oxford University audience last week getting "basic, raw data from Ordnance Survey" online would help build the "semantic web", which he defines as a web of data using standard formats so that relevant data can be found and processed by computers. "There's a moral argument that says, for a well-run country, we should know where we are, where things are, and that data should be available," he said. Berners-Lee said it may be reasonable for OS, the premier state-owned supplier of public sector information, to continue to charge for its high-resolution mapping. But even if licences were required, he added, OS should make its data open to manipulation. "I want to do something with the data, I want to be able to join it with all my other data," he said. "I want to be able to do Google Maps things to a ridiculous extent, and not limited in the way that Google Maps is." The guest lecturer said he had discussed this with OS. "They are certainly thinking about this and studying what they can do. OS is in favour of doing the right thing for the country, as well as maintaining its existence, so I think there's a fair chance we'll find mutual agreement." OS said it was considering opening access to data, through applications programming interfaces (APIs) for example, but only for non-commercial use. "If it happens, it will be in the next six months or so," said Ed Parsons, chief technology officer. Parsons said OS provides universities with access to its data. "It's about expanding this to non-academic research," he said. However, those using APIs would be barred from competing with OS's paying customers, even on a non-commercial basis. "We're constrained by competition law," said Parsons. The BBC's Backstage project, which allows non-commercial re-use of BBC material, is a possible model.
For background on the Ordnance Survey's argument that "we're constrained by competition law", see a second article in today's Guardian, by Charles Arthur, Government organisations under pressure to make money. It contains a list of UK government agencies that are "required by law to make back in revenues what they cost to run." The Ordnance Survey is one of them, as are the UK Hydrographic Office, UK Meteorological Office, and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. Many others are not, such as the Environment Agency, the British Geological Survey, and at least three of the research councils. (The article only lists three of the eight RCs, and all three are in the 'no' column.)
HyperJournal has released version 0.5b. HyperJournal is open-source journal management software for OA, OAI-compliant journals.
This version features  Revamped interface, templates and styles.  Advanced roles for publishing workflow.  Issues management.  Basic "plugout" web service.  Several bug fixes.
BioMed Central has assisted another pair of independent Open Access journals to start publishing last week. Journal of Biomedical Discovery and Collaboration (March 13) and Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine (March 17) bring the total of the independent OA titles hosted by BMC to 89.
Journal of Biomedical Discovery and Collaboration - Fulltext v1+ (2006+); ISSN: 1747-5333.
Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine - Fulltext v1+ (2006+); ISSN: 1747-5341.
Charles W. Bailey, Jr. has issued an HTML edition of his Open Access Bibliography. It's the same text as last year's print and PDF editions, but the new edition lets you link directly to any of its major sections, such as Open Access Journals, Institutional Repositories, and Open Access Arrangements for Developing Countries. And it loads much faster.
Update (3/25/06). You can now link to every major section and subsection in the bibliography.
The December 05 / January 06 issue of Against the Grain is devoted to the Cancellation of Print Journals for Electronic Versions. It appears that each article focuses on non-OA ejournals.
Ismael Peña, Web 2.0 and diffusion of research, ICTlogy.net, March 19th, 2006. A PPT presentation in Catalan but with this English-language abstract:
Buzzword or not, the Internet is changing and the so-called Web 2.0 applications might mean new ways to work in the research-education-diffusion field (i.e. the University field). This presentation’s goal is raising a reflection and showing a “good” practice in difusion of research, after Ismael Peña’s experience in the area of Public policies for development and ICT4D at the Open University of Catalonia and the use of blogs, wikis and other tools in his ICT4D personal portal.
Alexander Szalay and Jim Gray, 2020 Computing: Science in an exponential world, Nature, March 22, 2006. Excerpt:
[D]ata volumes are doubling every year in most areas of modern science and the analysis is becoming more and more complex....With data correlated over many dimensions and millions of points, none of the old steps — do experiment, record results, analyse and publish — is straightforward. Many predict dramatic changes to the way science is done, and suspect that few traditional processes will survive in their current form by 2020....As data volumes grow, it is increasingly arduous to extract knowledge. Scientists must labour to organize, sort and reduce the data, with each analysis step producing smaller data sets that eventually lead to the big picture. Analysing terabytes of data (one terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes) is a challenge; but petabyte data sets (of more than 1,000 terabytes) are on the horizon. One petabyte is equivalent to the text in one billion books, yet many scientific instruments, including the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, will soon be generating several petabytes annually....
Tom Hoffman, Bootstrapping Open Curricula: A Practical Proposal, eSchool News, March 20, 2006. Excerpt:
There is a lot of talk about generating curricula using open source methodologies, that is, roughly, allowing free distribution of curriculum materials while inviting outside contributions to the work, both on the grassroots level and engaging some big guns like IBM and the Hewlett Foundation. While I'm certainly philosophically supportive of these ideas and initiatives, I haven't seen anything yet that is sufficiently grounded in practical experience with either open source software development or curriculum design to get very far off the ground....
Two Berkeley professors and the NSF may continue to display and maintain their OA web site on evolution even though fundamentalists complained in federal court that it violated their religious beliefs.
Comment. This case is is a good example of a slam-dunk that's nevertheless critically important to win. If it had gone the other way, it could have crippled science, especially OA science. See my comments on it from last November, when the case was filed.
Chris Hancox, a GIS Officer at an unnamed council in the Anglian region of England, thinks that UK taxpayers pay eight times for publicly-funded geodata. The Free Our Data blog has posted his letter:
I look after all the maps for the council where I work and yes, even government departments and councils etc have to pay for Ordnance Survey data. Local government has interesting scenarios where the taxpayer will pay three times or more for Ordnance Survey Data. One of the most interesting scenarios is Planning Applications.
The OA PubChem from the US National Library of Medicine and non-OA DiscoveryGate from Elsevier MDL are now linked. DiscoveryGate subscribers get full access to both systems. PubChem users get free searching of both systems, and full access to PubChem results, but can only click through to DiscoveryGate content if they have a license. For example, see how DiscoveryGate structures show up in PubChem searches. From today's announcement:
Elsevier MDL and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have linked databases to make it easier and quicker for academic, government, pharmaceutical and other researchers to obtain more comprehensive information, improve decision making and support discovery breakthroughs. The NIH’s freely available PubChem database of small molecule data, designed to support links to outside chemical information resources, is now cross-indexed with the Compound Index hosted on Elsevier MDL’s DiscoveryGate® platform. “Now, researchers can immediately tell if information related to a specific chemical compound exists in the other system,” said Steve Bryant, director of the PubChem project. “From DiscoveryGate, links connect researchers directly to the relevant information from PubChem. Likewise, researchers using PubChem can link to additional information in DiscoveryGate (appropriate licenses required for accessing DiscoveryGate data sources). This integrated information provision improves the scientific community’s ability to rapidly conduct thorough research.” Lars Barfod, CEO of Elsevier MDL, added: “The value of DiscoveryGate is focused information, relevant to specific research questions, from a network of indexed and linked data sources. This collaboration with the NIH to index PubChem extends the scope of available content, and will help researchers find critical information while avoiding unnecessary, repetitious searches of multiple systems or data sources.”
JISC has announced a pilot LOCKSS project to preserve ejournals in the UK. From today's announcement:
The move in recent years towards provision of scholarly journals in electronic form has greatly enhanced the access to and availability of scholarly publications. However the arrangements for preserving long-term access to electronic journals are far from satisfactory. When subscribing to electronic journals, libraries no longer possess a local copy as they did with printed journals. They effectively lease the content of the electronic journals they subscribe to by remotely accessing it on publishers' servers over the computer network. The problem with this common practice is that access to entire back runs of electronic journals could be lost to academic libraries when subscriptions are cancelled or when journals cease publication. The uncertainty of continuing access is a major barrier preventing libraries from moving to electronic-only subscriptions. The recent endorsement of the statement "Urgent Action Needed to Preserve Scholarly Electronic Journals" by organisations such as the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) highlight the concern in the scholarly community over the long-term future of scholarly electronic journals. There is consensus that a solution to the e-journal archiving problem is urgently needed and that a technically and financially sustainable solution requires collaboration between libraries and publishers. Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe (LOCKSS) is a tool developed at the Stanford University Libraries to to address the issues surrounding e-journal archiving and preservation. Over 80 libraries and 60 publishers world-wide now are work together through the LOCKSS Alliance to preserve persistent access to a wide range of content ranging from commercial subscription content to non-profit open-access e-journals.
Herbert Gruttemeier, The way to Open Access : French strategies to move forward, Library and Information Service (Tushu Qingbao Gongzuo), 50, 1 (2006) pp. 27-33.
Abstract: In France, the movement in favour of open access to scientific research output is getting increasingly coordinated and supported at the political level. The CNRS, leading research organization in Europe and signatory of the Berlin Declaration, has an evident strategic role to play in this development. Various initiatives that have emerged in the French academic world in recent years have led, for example, in early 2005 to the joint announcement, by four major research institutions, of a common policy to promote open access to published material and other types of digital resources, and to set up institutional archives. The article highlights some key issues of this policy, gives an overview of the current and past CNRS involvement in Open Access and describes the principal functions, as well as the related challenges, of the future institutional repositories.
At its March 15 faculty meeting, the MIT faculty discussed two OA-related topics: complying with the NIH public access policy and using an MIT amendment to modify standard publishing contracts and let authors retain key rights. Details in today's report from the MIT News Office:
Concerned that taxpayer-funded research is not accessible to the general public because of the tightly controlled, proprietary system enforced by some journal publishers, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is asking every NIH-funded scientist who publishes results in a peer-reviewed journal to deposit a digital copy of the article in PubMed Central (PMC), the online digital library maintained by the NIH. Not later than 12 months after the journal article appears, PMC will then provide free online access to the public.
The MIT contract amendment is closely related to the SPARC Author's Addendum drafted for the same purpose. The MIT amendment gives authors (among other things) the non-exclusive right to copy and distribute their own article, to make derivative works from it, and to deposit the final published version in an OA repository. MIT is the first university I know to present its faculty with a lawyer-drafted contract amendment for the purpose of retaining the rights needed to provide OA to their own work. Kudos to all involved. MIT faculty could change the default for faculty with less bargaining power.
Nicholas Cozzarelli, molecular biologist at Berkeley and Editor-in-Chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), died at his Berkeley home on Sunday. He was 67. From the obituary in the UC Berkeley News:
As editor-in-chief since 1995 of the main publication of the National Academy of Sciences, Cozzarelli changed the journal's methods for reviewing submitted manuscripts, according to Botchan, making it a scientific publication that now vies for prestige with the best. "Nick deserves almost the entire credit for making PNAS a high impact journal," said Arthur Kornberg, Nobel laureate and Stanford University professor emeritus of biochemistry. Cozzarelli was a post-doctoral fellow in Kornberg's laboratory from 1966 until 1968.
PS: On OA issues, and many others, Cozzarelli was a leader among editors of high-prestige, high-impact journals. He grasped the argument for OA very early and his willingness to experiment with PNAS was bold and canny. He will be missed.
The Spring issue of Grey Journal is devoted to OA. The articles themselves are not OA, at least so far, but here's the TOC and part of the editor's introduction from the email announcement:
Last December, delegates from sixteen countries worldwide met at GL7 in Nancy, France to address the principles of open access as they apply to grey literature. Information professionals from sectors of government, academics, and business presented results of research projects intended to facilitate open access to grey resources. These results no doubt will allow for the further assessment of information policies both within and outside their respective organizations.
Optics Express, the Open Access journal of the Optical Society of America, "... was recognized by Essential Science Indicators as having the highest percent increase in total citations in the field of Physics in both September 2005 and January 2006.
PS: It's not difficult to understand the explosive growth in citations to high quality, peer-reviewed research which is available without barriers.
Rachel Heery, Institutional Repositories, Focus on UKOLN, March 2006. Excerpt:
Deployment of repositories within institutions means many information professionals are facing unfamiliar implementation configuration and policy decisions. Institutional repositories might be considered as digital libraries in miniature, yet whilst many of the information management and technical issues are similar, repositories introduce the potential for significant changes in the workflow of delivering content from author to reader. After all, this is what open access is about. One of the areas of interest within the JISC Digital Repositories Programme is exploring how the user will interact with the emerging network of relatively small (at this stage) content collections. Will this be through search? or through citation linking? These end-user interfaces will rely on a level of interoperability in the way content is managed across the different repository software platforms, as well as on consistent identification of objects within the repositories. The JISC Digital Repositories Support team working across CETIS (Centre for Educational Technology Interoperability Standards) and UKOLN is addressing some of these interoperability issues, initially focusing with UK repository developers on the deposit of content into repositories, and with an international working group looking at a wider range of repository interfaces.
The Georgetown University Press (GUP) has entered a partnership with Digital Georgetown, "the digital hub for Georgetown University's scholarship and research initiatives." Together they will produce OA publications from GUP's print back catalog and maybe even from new material. From yesterday's story in the Blue & Gray, the school paper:
There is a movement within many academic circles to make such materials more accessible by posting them online. A new partnership between Georgetown University Press and Digital Georgetown is a step in that direction. Digital Georgetown is an online hub for scholarship materials that launched in 2004 and is directed by Joan Cheverie, a former reference librarian at Lauinger Library. In recent months, Cheverie has been working with Hope Smith-LeGro, electronic editor at GU Press, to put collections of previously published research online. Their first project has been to post the proceedings from GURT, the Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics. In the past, the roundtable's work has only been published in book form. Recognizing that some scholars may be searching for specific information, GU Press wanted to provide the materials in format that is readily accessible. "We really view ourselves as an academic resource," Smith-LeGro said. GURT conferences from 1999 to 2001 are now online and free for any user of the site; conferences prior to 1999 are in the process of being transferred to digital format, Cheverie said. GU Press will continue to sell GURT books and will post the content online five years after the print date....Although publishing scholarly materials online is a developing trend at universities worldwide, the collaboration between an academic press and the library system is rare, Cheverie said. "We've found a great synergy in this partnership because we have such complementary missions," she said.
Walt Crawford, Building the Econtent Commons, EContent, March 21, 2006. On Creative Commons, the Google Library Project, and the Open Content Alliance. Excerpt:
What do you get when you combine a four-year-old licensing system and two possibly complementary projects to digitize substantial quantities of print information? With luck, a substantial ecommons: millions of digital items that can be used directly and as the basis for derivative works without infringing copyright. These projects should also result in full-text indexing for millions more items that won't be freely available online but can be acquired through libraries and booksellers....Pulling these threads together, OCA encourages use of Creative Commons licenses whenever that makes sense. That makes it more likely that a good deal of copyright material will be available under appropriate license, since Creative Commons licenses offer carefully drawn ways to "give away" some copyright control without losing copyright. Google isn't part of this combination yet, but it wouldn't take much to make the public domain works part of the greater whole. Creative Commons takes one tack toward building a commons of econtent (and physical content). OCA uses Creative Commons and the many open standards developed to share information where it can, and works to make major resources available to all without injury to any. There will be more such projects—not to undermine the rights of writers and publishers, but to provide a commons that we can use and derive new creations from.
Richard Poynder has posted his interview with Richard Stallman. This is the latest installment of The Basement Interviews, Poynder's blog-based OA book of interviews with leaders of many related openness initiatives. Excerpt:
Comment. (1) The freedom to redistribute is built into the BOAI vision of OA, which would remove permission barriers as well as price barriers. Some OA initiatives use central archives rather than distributed archives, but even they do not exclude the freedom to redistribute. (2) For some elaboration on Stallman's views on modifying scientific papers, see my newsletter for May 15, 2002: "Richard Stallman told me that he sees no good reason to use the GPL or copyleft for scientific journal articles....GPL makes more sense for software manuals or textbooks, where new developments create a need to modify the original text. But articles that report the result of an experiment, or the observations of a scientist, should not be modified."
The presentations and webcasts from the conference, Scholarship and Libraries in Transition: A Dialogue about the Impacts of Mass Digitization Projects (Ann Arbor, March 10-11, 2006), are now online. (Thanks to Elizabeth Winter.)
Siva Vaidhyanathan, Critical Information Studies: A bibliographic manifesto, Critical Studies, March/May 2006. Excerpt:
This paper takes measure of an emerging scholarly field that sits at the intersection of many important areas of study. Critical Information Studies (CIS) considers the ways in which culture and information are regulated by their relationship to commerce, creativity, and other human affairs. CIS captures the variety of approaches and bodies of knowledge needed to make sense of important phenomena such as copyright policy, electronic voting, encryption, the state of libraries, the preservation of ancient cultural traditions, and markets for cultural production. It necessarily stretches to a wide array of scholarly subjects, employs multiple complementary methodologies, and influences conversations far beyond the gates of the university. Economists, sociologists, linguists, anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, communication scholars, lawyers, computer scientists, philosophers, and librarians have all contributed to this field, and thus it can serve as a model for how engaged, relevant scholarship might be carried out. CIS interrogates the structures, functions, habits, norms, and practices that guide global flows of information and cultural elements. Instead of being concerned merely with one's right to speak (or sing or publish), CIS asks questions about access, costs, and chilling effects on, within, and among audiences, citizens, emerging cultural creators, indigenous cultural groups, teachers, and students. Central to these issues is the idea of ‘semiotic democracy’, or the ability of citizens to employ the signs and symbols ubiquitous in their environments in manners that they determine....
William Y. Arms, Digital Libraries. An OA edition of the book from M.I.T. Press (January 2000), with a new preface by the author (June 2005).
Mark Ware, ALPSP survey of librarians on factors in journal cancellation, ALPSP, March 2006. A 64 pp. report on the effect of OA archiving on library decisions to cancel journal subscriptions. The report (in print and PDF) costs £45/$80/€100 for ALPSP members and £90/$160/€200 for non-members. From the ad:
The question of whether self-archiving of preprints and/or postprints by journal authors is likely to have a significant impact on journal subscription numbers is currently a hotly debated issue of considerable policy importance for scholarly publishers. The moves by funding bodies and some institutions to request or require authors to deposit postprints has given more urgency to this issue as the archives are now likely to grow in number and more importantly in their content. This study was commissioned by ALPSP to ascertain what are the major factors contributing to journal cancellations, and thus to provide some new information for a debate that has inevitably so far been short of data.
Dreams of flu data, Nature, March 16, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). An unsigned editorial. Excerpt:
"Confidentiality of sensitive national outbreak surveillance data assured!" This prominent guarantee on the website of the South East Asian Nations Infectious Diseases Outbreak Surveillance Network says it all. Open sharing of data often ends when it could compromise trade or other national interests....
David Bradley, Interview with Steve Bryant, Reactive Reports, Issue 53, March 20, 2006. Bryant is a Senior Investigator in the Computational Biology Branch of the National Center for Biotechnology Information at NIH. Excerpt:
Barbara Quint interviewed EBSCO VP Michael Gorrell about recent changes at the company. Here's a bit on OA:
As for future plans, Gorrell indicated that the functionality in the service lets people link out to open access sources already. He also said that EBSCOhost reaches a lot of open source publications. Customized links let people search OpenURL links. Gorrell explained that EBSCO knows that people want access to wider content, the kind often supplied by Google Scholar. The company has plans underway, including some that librarians should find “very pleasant.” Stay tuned.
PS: EBSCO started linking to OA content at least as early as January 2004.
Helen Clarke reports that Statistics Canada is moving from a TA model to an OA model for its electronic publications. To recover its print costs, it will still charge for its print publications. The transition should be complete by April 24, 2006. Clarke quotes from an SC memo that I can't find at the SC web site.
Stevan Harnad, Opening Access by Overcoming Zeno's Paralysis, forthcoming in in Neil Jacobs (ed.), Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, Chandos Publishing, 2006. Self-archived March 19, 2006.
Abstract: Open Access (OA) means free access for all would-be users webwide to all articles published in all peer-reviewed research journals across all scholarly and scientific disciplines. 100% OA is optimal for research, researchers, their institutions, and their funders because it maximizes research access and usage. It is also 100% feasible: authors just need to deposit ("self-archive") their articles on their own institutional websites. Hence 100% OA is inevitable. Yet the few keystrokes needed to reach it have been paralyzed for a decade by a seemingly endless series of phobias (about everything from piracy and plagiarism to posterity and priorities), each easily shown to be groundless, yet persistent and recurring. The cure for this "Zeno's Paralysis" is for researchers' institutions and funders to mandate the keystrokes, just as they already mandate publishing, and for the very same reason: to maximize research usage, impact and progress. 95% of researchers have said they would comply with a self-archiving mandate; 93% of journals have already given self-archiving their blessing; and those institutions that have already mandated it are successfully and rapidly moving toward 100% OA.
Australian libraries are reluctant to join the Google Library Program until the lawsuits against it are resolved. Munir Kotadia has details in today's ZDNet Australia.
Libertas Academica is recruiting editorial board members for two forthcoming OA journals: Oncogenomics and Biomarker Insights. Pass the word to colleagues who might be interested.
The site says nothing about Oncogenomics, but already has a web site for Biomarker Insights. Excerpt:
Biomarker Insights is a peer-reviewed, open-access research journal where those engaged in biomarker research can turn for rapid communication of the latest advances in the application of biomarkers toward the discovery of new knowledge, and toward the clinical translation of that knowledge to increase the efficacy of practicing clinicians....The speed of reporting advances in biomarkers, the open access model, and the highest editorial standards with which Biomarker Insights is produced will have the combined effect of maximizing the benefit to the advance of the field.
The Free Our Data blog has noted that Tim Berners-Lee endorses the project (for OA to publicly-funded geodata in the UK) and promises details next week in The Guardian. Stay tuned. At the same time, however, the bloggers make this point:
The interesting point about Sir Tim, of course, is that he could have patented his work in developing the hypertext protocol (what if CERN had had a requirement that workers’ ideas were patented?) and perhaps made a lot of money - although equally, the Web would not have been taken up with the same excitement if one had had to pay a licence fee for every web page served or link clicked. Sir Tim said as much in 2004 (original article seems to have disappeared.)
Arthur Sale, The impact of mandatory policies on ETD acquisition, a preprint forthcoming in D-Lib Magazine, 12(4). Self-archived March 15, 2006.
This paper analyzes the data now available in Australia's coordinated Electronic Theses and Dissertations gateway to show the impact of high-level institutional policy decisions on population of the individual repositories. The paper shows that just like research article repositories, voluntary ETD deposition results in repositories collecting less than 12% of the available theses, whereas mandatory policies are well accepted and cause deposit rates to rise towards 100%. Modeling of the PhD and Master process in Australia is also carried out to indicate the delays and liabilities to be expected if mandatory policies are applied only to newly enrolled candidates.
Update (4/18/06). The D-Lib version of the article is now online.
Bryan Lawrence has blogged some notes on his Oxford seminar on communicating science. Excerpt:
I...concluded the big question is really how to deal with self publishing and peer review outside the domain of traditional journals, because I think for many their days are numbered (possibly apart from as formal records). Most of the ensuing discussion was predicated on the assumption that I was recommending blogging as the alternative to "real" publishing, despite the fact that earlier I had introduced the RCUK position statement on open access and I then went straight on to introduce Institutional Repositories and the CLADDIER project. So, let me try and be very explicit about the contents of my crystal ball.
Dorothea Salo, Marketing an IR, Caveat Lector, March 18, 2006. Excerpt:
The inaugural issue of the ChemRefer Newsletter (March 2006) identifies a handful of high-quality, open-access articles and journals in chemistry.
Frederick Noronha, Indian net archive named finalist for Swedish award, HindustanTimes, March 20, 2006. Excerpt:
OpenMED, an open access Internet archive for research works on medical and allied sciences that is hosted by an Indian government body, has been nominated as a finalist for the prestigious Stockholm Challenge 2006 award.
PS: OpenMed is hosted by the ICMR-NIC Centre for Biomedical Information, Bibliographic Informatics Division, National Informatics Centre. Congratulations to everyone at NIC.
Michael Crichton, This Essay Breaks the Law, New York Times, March 19, 2006. An op-ed. Excerpt:
The Earth revolves around the Sun. The speed of light is a constant....Elevated homocysteine is linked to B-12 deficiency, so doctors should test homocysteine levels to see whether the patient needs vitamins. Actually, I can't make that last statement. A corporation has patented that fact, and demands a royalty for its use. Anyone who makes the fact public and encourages doctors to test for the condition and treat it can be sued for royalty fees. Any doctor who reads a patient's test results and even thinks of vitamin deficiency infringes the patent. A federal circuit court held that mere thinking violates the patent.
Iryna Kuchma, Melissa Hagemann, and Rima Kupryte, Open access : OSI and eIFL’s work on the international level, activities in Ukraine on the national level, a presentation (in English) at the 6. seminar za knjižnice u sustavu znanosti i visoke naobrazbe (Zagreb, March 3-4, 2006).
Abstract: Overview of activities in the field of open access funded by Open Society Institute and backed up by eIFL is given. From general information about OSI, eILF and open access activities we come to practical solutions in a few countries included in OSI programs. Finally, situation in Ukraine is described i.e. national strategy about open access is described, from negotiations and activities on governmental level to solutions for end users.
Marianne Winslett interviews Moshe Vardi in the March issue of SIGMOD Record. (Thanks to Computational Complexity.) Excerpt:
How can computer science go about changing its publication culture? Are there areas that move just as fast as we do, and have journal papers and conferences, but conferences are not the primary vehicle? I have questions about the basic model of scholarly publications. And I find it fascinating that it is difficult to have a conversation about this on a big scale, and make changes on a big scale. We are very conservative. It is interesting that computer science has been one of the slowest disciplines to move to open access publications. Other disciplines are way ahead of us in using online publications.
PS: Vardi is one of the editors of the OA journal, Logical Methods in Computer Science.
Peter Sayer, Google scans French literature for Book Search support, InfoWorld, March 17, 2006. Excerpt:
Google has at least one supporter [among French publishers] in the form of Michel Valensi, founder of publishing company Editions de l'Eclat, who boasts of being the first French publisher to sign up for Google's partner program. Partners' books are searched in the same way, but a whole page of the book is displayed, rather than just a fragment, with links to online stores carrying the book. Google has scanned 100 of Eclat's books, which have been searched 60,000 times leading directly to 600 online sales, Valensi said. The Google deal is just an extension of what Valensi has been doing since 2000, though, when he published the first free, online edition of a book he was also selling on paper -- a French translation of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola's 15th century text "Oration on the Dignity of Man." In the previous six years, Valensi said, he had sold just 1,500 copies of the book, but in the six years since he began giving it away online, he has also sold 6,000 paper copies. Now, his company's Web site links to about 35 such books, and in time he hopes to offer the whole catalog this way.
Timo Hannay, Linking Up Research Papers Using Tags, You're It! March 16, 2006. Excerpt:
OA doesn't just remove access barriers for individual users connecting to individual articles online. Here are two good examples of how OA sets users free to make less common uses --without asking permission and without paying a fee. From the March 16 issue of the PLoS E-Newsletter for Institutional Members:
Carolyn Raffensperger, The Tragedy of the Anti-Commons in Science, On the Commons, March 18, 2006. Excerpt:
Few argue with the premise that the public should be the primary beneficiaries of publicly funded research and technology development. But how they should benefit is the subject of hot debate. The U.S. government’s approach has been to facilitate the transfer of technology into the market by privatizing it. The idea is that the technology will be made available to the public only if a company can have exclusive access to it and effectively protect its investment. Since the 1980’s Congress has passed numerous pieces of legislation to streamline the transfer of drugs, agricultural materials and other technologies into private hands. The most important single law is the Bayh-Dole Technology Transfer Act. This approach has resulted in what some have called the tragedy of the anti-commons – excluding people from a non-depletable commons resulting in its under-use. For instance, NIEHS and other agencies spend millions of dollars on pharmaceuticals and then transfer them to private companies who profit from the publicly funded research. Patents and licenses prevent other companies from making cheaper, more accessible versions of the drugs. By making the public pay twice, the market is actually a method for excluding the public from the very things it paid to have created....