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Paul G. Haschak, Reshaping the World of Scholarly Communication:...A Webliography, Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, Spring 2006. The full title is Reshaping the World of Scholarly Communication --Open Access and the Free Online Scholarship Movement: Open Access Statements, Proposals, Declarations, Principles, Strategies, Organizations, Projects, Campaigns, Initiatives, and Related Items-- A Webliography. Excerpt:
Since World War II, we have seen a proliferation of scholarly materials. In particular, there has been a tremendous growth in the size and cost of the primary journal literature. With prices continuing to rise at a rate greater than the general price index, the current scholarly communication system is becoming more and more unaffordable. The rise in the cost of serial subscriptions has forced academic libraries over the last several decades to cancel existing serial titles, add fewer and fewer new serial titles, and buy fewer and fewer books. In is apparent, that the crisis in the scholarly communication system not only threatens the well being of libraries, but also it threatens our academic faculty’s ability to do world-class research. With current technologies, we now have, for the first time in history, the tools necessary to effect change ourselves. We must do everything in our power to change the current scholarly communication system and promote open access to scholarly articles.
PS: Most of the sections are well-done and I commend Haschak for his work. But I have a few nits to pick. He includes my Guide, which I stopped updating in mid-2004 (conspicuously declared on the front page), and BMC's Open Access Now, which ceased publication in late 2004. On the other side, he excludes Open Access News, which I update every day, even though he has a section devoted to blogs and news.
Einar Fredriksson and Björn Ortelbach have written a Conference Report on APE 2006: Academic Publishing in Europe (Berlin, April 4-5, 2006). (Thanks to Arnoud de Kemp.) Excerpt:
Dr. Jurgen Renn (Max Planck Gesellschaft, MPG) gave his opening address on behalf of the MPG President Peter Gruss. He reflected on the current scientific journal, the MPG’s role and attitudes towards the current academic publishing process. Costs for the dissemination of scientific information have become research costs. He saw “open access” as a paradigm shift (of the order of Internet and the Web) and contrasted it with “toll access” currently practised by publishers. New media haven’t been optimally used by academic publishers, and examples of systems developed and run by scientists themselves were suggested as alternatives. He stressed that people need to look for new models. If we keep mapping existing structures to a new medium, we will create and not cross boundaries. Dr. Renn stressed that “open access” is not directed against publishers but is rather a transformation process towards a better infrastructure which publishers can also exploit. The development of “open access” should focus on long-term preservation and quality control....
Stevan Harnad, Dr. Ian's Gibson's Paradoxical Historic Role in the Transition to Open Access, Open Access Archivangelism, April 29, 2006. Excerpt:
Dr. Ian Gibson has written the foreword to Neil Jacobs (ed.), Open Access: Key strategic, technical and economic aspects, Chandos Publishing, forthcoming 2006 [PS: blogged here yesterday]. A scientist and British MP, Ian Gibson's role in the Open Access (OA) movement has been a remarkable one, and he will certainly get the historic credit for having shepherded-through the landmark UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology’s recommendation to mandate OA self-archiving. Historians and sociologists of science will find it especially interesting that Ian has done what he has done despite the fact that much of his admirable populist rationale for OA will prove to have been completely wide of the functional mark (though perhaps not of the practical, political mark).
What's wrong with publishers lobbying Congress to stop the federal government from providing OA to publicly-funded research? What's wrong with AccuWeather lobbying Congress to stop the government from providing OA to publicly-funded weather data? Lawrence Lessig hits the nail on the head in his May column for Wired. Excerpt:
Imagine if tire manufacturers lobbied against filling potholes so they could sell more tires. Or if private emergency services got local agencies to cut funding for fire departments so people would end up calling private services first. And what if private schools pushed to reduce public school money so more families would flee the public system? Or what if taxicab companies managed to get a rail line placed just far enough from an airport to make public transportation prohibitively inconvenient?...
Update. Stevan Harnad also liked this Lessig column. Here's the way he draws the conclusion for OA: "Distributed institutions [like universities] have the advantage of not being fixed lobbying targets, the way governments are....[U]nlike governments, the world-wide network of universities and research institutions need not heed the lobby from interests vested in preserving the restricted-access status quo at the cost of needless research access-denial and impact-loss to research, researchers, their institutions, and the public that funds them. They can mandate immediate self-archiving immediately."
SPARC Europe has named the Wellcome Trust the first winner of the SPARC Europe Award for Outstanding Achievements in Scholarly Communications. From the announcement:
As part of the Third Nordic Conference on Scholarly Communication: Beyond Declarations - The Changing Landscape of Scholarly Communication held in Lund, Sweden, the Wellcome Trust was presented with the first SPARC Europe Award for Outstanding Achievements in Scholarly Communications.
Stevan Harnad, Why we're doing well, The Independent, April 27, 2006. A letter to the editor. It's not online at the newspaper site, but a version is online at Stevan's blog:
Alma Swan, The culture of Open Access: researchers’ views and responses, in Neil Jacobs (ed.), Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, Chandos Publishing, forthcoming 2006, Chapter 7.
Abstract: In this chapter Alma Swan draws from the surveys undertaken by Key Perspectives Ltd into researchers attitudes toward open access. She describes the context in which researchers work, and how this leads to them valuing (or not) the potential of open access. Based on this evidence, she outlines a range of practical moves that can be made to configure open access as a solution to researchers’ very real needs and concerns.
Anne Culver, The Next Form of Text, Minnesota State University Mankato Reporter, April 27, 2006. (Thanks to William Walsh.) Excerpt:
Free textbooks. No, it’s not too good to be true. Ever since a St. Paul-based internet company began offering downloadable textbooks that contain advertisements, the concept of kicking costly textbooks to the curb seems within reach. Freeload Press offers about 20 accounting and finance textbooks, study guides and worksheets, which can be downloaded from the company’s Web site, freeloadpress.com, as free Adobe PDF files. Tom Doran, founder and CEO of Freeload Press, said the company came out with its first textbooks for class use this academic year. While no MSU professors currently use online textbooks in their curriculum, Doran said several MSU students have discovered the site on their own and downloaded textbooks. “[Students] love it,” Doran said. “We’re getting rave reviews. I’ve been in publishing for 25 years and I’ve never seen anything like it. Not only do we look pretty good in the students’ eyes, but so do the instructors.” Advertisements in the textbooks, which include fast food restaurants and photocopying services, are limited to 50 ads per 600-page textbook. Doran said the placement of the ads is “really subtle,” as they are embedded in the text in what he calls “study breaks” at the end of chapters.
Charles W. Bailey Jr. has released version 62 of his comprehensive Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new version cites and organizes over 2,680 print and online articles, books, and other sources on scholarly electronic publishing.
PAU Library to digitise research publications, Ludhiana Newswire, April 27, 2006. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
Dr M S Randhawa Library of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has decided to digitize all the available data in dissertations abstracts, research reports and research articles on CD archives. The digital data will also be put online shortly for easy and quick access....The library has the largest collection of agricultural books and periodicals in the region, numbering over three lakh.
Leo Waaijers, From Libraries to ‘Libratories’, Liber Quarterly, 16, 1 (2006). Only this abstract is free online, at least so far.
While the eighties of the last century were a time of local automation for libraries and the nineties the decade in which libraries embraced the internet and the WWW, now is the age in which the big search engines and institutional repositories are gaining a firm footing. This heralds a new era in both the evolution of scholarly communication and its agencies themselves, i.e. the libraries. Until now libraries and publishers have developed a digital variant of existing processes and products, i.e. catalogues posted on the Web, scanned copies of articles, e-mail notification about acquisitions or expired lending periods, or traditional journals in a digital jacket. However, the new OAI repositories and services based upon them have given rise to entirely new processes and products, libraries transforming themselves into partners in setting up virtual learning environments, building an institution’s digital showcase, maintaining academics’ personal websites, designing refereed portals and – further into the future – taking part in organising virtual research environments or collaboratories. Libraries are set to metamorphose into ‘libratories’, an imaginary word to express their combined functions of library, repository and collaboratory. In such environments scholarly communication will be liberated from its current copyright bridle while its coverage will be both broader - including primary data, audiovisuals and dynamic models - and deeper, with cross-disciplinary analyses of methodologies and applications of instruments. Universities will make it compulsory to store in their institutional repositories the results of research conducted within their walls for purposes of academic reporting, review committees, and other modes of clarification and explanation. Big search engines will provide access to this profusion of information and organise its mass customisation.
PS: The same issue of LQ contains a report by Raf Dekeyser on The LIBER Workshops on the “Open Archives Initiative” at CERN, Geneva. But it doesn't even have a free abstract online, or not so far.
The new issue (vol. 10, no. 3/4) of Internet Reference Services Quarterly is devoted to the tangled relationships between Google and libraries.
Purdue University is developing a Distributed Institutional Repository. Amy Page Christiansen has a short article about it in the current HPC Wire. Excerpt:
Purdue Libraries and Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP) are collaborating on an initiative that includes innovative software developed on campus to help researchers store, sort, archive, retrieve and manage large-scale data and information. The Distributed Institutional Repository is a Web-based data portal that provides tools and systems to manipulate large data sets and to help users understand the origins of data and learn about additional research applications using the same data. "The DIR is an architecture Purdue Libraries developed which utilizes a unique approach to pulling access together from a number of distributed repositories," said Scott Brandt, professor of library science and associate dean for research for Purdue Libraries.
The DIR developers are giving a public talk about it at Purdue on May 2.
If you read OAN regularly, then you already know about Neil Jacobs' forthcoming collection, Open Access: Key strategic, technical and economic aspects, Chandos Publishing, 2006. (I'll have a chapter in it on OA in the US.) To whet your appetite further, here's Ian Gibson's foreword to the book. Gibson chaired the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee when it undertook its 2004 inquiry into STM publishing and produced its exemplary OA recommendations.
The era of open access is dawning and it could not come a moment too soon. The rapid development of the internet and its increased use across the globe has meant that there is a wide and growing audience that is hungry and in some cases, desperately in need of information that traditionally few have been able to access.
The March issue of Access is now online. This issue features articles on Yale's OARE project (environmental research free online for developing countries), the OA repository at Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) open to research from any developing country, the new free content at Highbeam research, and progress at the DOAJ.
Steve Hitchcock, Nature brings the Semantic Web and enhanced citation, visibility to papers in EPrints, Eprints news, April 25, 2006. (Thanks to George Porter.) Excerpt:
Pertti Saariluoma, The Importance of the Free Flow of Information and Knowledge, Human Technology, April 2006. (Thanks to Kimmo Kuusela.) Excerpt:
To get new information to the right people at the right time requires knowledge producers to break down many different barriers. The barriers to the flow of information are not just geographic. A fissure can be found between universities and private companies, which tacitly means between scientific knowledge and product knowledge....Knowledge becomes significant only when it is expressed in practical terms, such as product development and other applications. However, information becomes knowledge and applicable only when built upon the ever-growing body of basic knowledge, which is discovered in the academic inquiry of the university. To achieve such a complementary fusion of knowledge, those interested in the creation and application of knowledge need to find ways to scale the fences that might separate them. Such fences involve the languages (both cultural and terminological) of the fields of expertise, the different social rules and forms of expression between and within organizations, a lack of trust, and varying goals and interests, to name a few, which create barriers to effective communication and the quality use of knowledge. One possible means of bridging the gap between these distinct cultures is through open access scientific publishing.
Carsten Orwat, Digital Rights Management in Public Science, the report of the 4th INDICARE Workshop (Brussels, December 8, 2005). There were plenty of unsurprising suggestions for using DRM to block access to non-OA content. But here are some of the ideas for using DRM to enhance OA content and to mitigate its harms:
Instead of the publicly perceived definition of DRM ? mainly as a measure used by publishers to restrict access and control usages ? Mark Bide (Rightscom) pleaded for an understanding of DRM as an essential element of a trustworthy network computing environment. He also suggested talking about “Digital Policy Management” instead of Digital Rights Management, since not all digital policies are based on intellectual property rights. In his view, Digital Policy Management is about defining, describing, communicating and enforcing policies, which control access to and use of networked resources. This would be needed unless one would believe that all networked resources should be available for anyone to do anything they want. Thus, Digital Policy Management will be fundamental for the trusted identity of resources, people and organisations, and for the certainty in defining ways in which resources may be used. He saw this necessity for the future management of the network even in an era of “open everything” including open access, open archives etc....
Jonathan Zittrain gave his inaugural lecture yesterday as Oxford's first Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation. His title: The future of the Internet – and how to stop it. A webcast is available. The Oxford press release contains this tidbit:
Another issue explored during Professor Zittrain’s lecture, was the potential of the Internet for scholars and students around the world. He argued: ‘Universities should encourage or even require their faculties to publish in open access journals and to publish working papers ahead of final drafts, so that their work is not locked up by some journal copyrights which are increasingly testing the budgets of libraries who wish to subscribe.’
Comment. I applaud Zittrain for endorsing OA in his inaugural lecture. However, universities should require deposit in OA repositories not publication in OA journals (although they should encourage publication OA journals). (1) There aren't enough OA journals today and there won't be for some time. OA journals can easily grow in size but cannot as easily grow in number or scope. (2) Even when there are enough OA journals and they cover every research niche, a requirement to publish in OA journals would limit the freedom of authors to publish in the journals of their choice. (3) If the goal is OA, then universities needn't steer faculty away from subscription journals, at least when these journals consent to the OA archiving of peer-reviewed postprints, as about 70% of them do today. By contrast, (4) OA repositories are available today; (5) they scale quickly and easily; (6) they are compatible with the survival of conventional journals; and (7) they are compatible with author freedom to submit their work wherever they like. These are the reasons why all the OA mandates by funding agencies (public and private) focus on OA repositories, not OA journals.
From the Harvard Crimson report on "yesterday’s meeting of the Faculty Council --the highest governing body of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences":
Welch Professor of Computer Science Stuart M. Shieber ’81 made a presentation to the Council about reducing the cost of providing scholarly publications in the Harvard libraries. “The [scholars] are doing the writing, the editing, the reviewing, and they’re doing the reading,” Shieber said. “There’s a market failure that has resulted in this system.” Shieber suggested that open-access journals might provide a new option for scholars, although many options are still being discussed. “Printing and distribution in the day of the Internet can be done in a completely different way,” Shieber said. “Access can be done at essentially zero marginal cost to anyone.”
A group of Canadians has launched Citizens for Open Access to Civic Information and Data (CivicAccess). From the wiki:
Citizens for Open Access to Civic Information and Data (CivicAccess) is a group of citizens which believes all levels of government should make civic information and data accessible at no cost in open formats to their citizens. We believe this is necessary to allow citizens to fully participate in the democractic process of an "information society."
If you're interested, join the mailing list.
Michael Cross, Is NHS data there for any company - or just one? The Guardian, April 27, 2006. Excerpt:
Few repositories of public sector information contain more political dynamite than those in NHS data sets. This week it was NHS staff numbers; next week it could be surgeons' death rates. Earlier this year, the official custodian of the NHS's data raised eyebrows by announcing a special relationship with a commercial firm. At least one competing business has questioned whether a level playing field is possible under the new arrangement. The case provides an example of the potential conflicts created by the government's policy of earning commercial returns on public sector information - a policy challenged by Guardian Technology's Free Our Data campaign....
Brock Read, U. of California at Berkeley Offers Free Podcasts of Courses on iTunes, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 26, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
The University of California at Berkeley is making audio and video recordings of many course lectures available free to anyone -- on campus or off -- through Apple Computer's popular iTunes music store, campus officials announced on Tuesday. The university has already posted lectures from almost 30 courses, including seminars on computer science, psychology, and cyberculture, to the online store. iTunes users can download the lectures individually, or they can subscribe to semester-long podcasts, which transfer new sessions to their MP3 players when they connect those devices to their computers. Berkeley's project is the latest evidence of colleges' growing interest in offering podcasts of course material -- and in using iTunes to deliver those recordings....But Berkeley is unique among those universities distributing through iTunes in making its podcasts free to the public instead of restricting them to students and alumni.
Heather Morrison, Open Access: to Help the Helpers, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, April 26, 2006. An Open Letter to Gerald P. Koocher, President of the American Psychological Association (APA), and to all APA members. Remember that last week the APA Executive Director published an argument that OA to research literature was useless to most lay readers and therefore unjustified. (PS: See my response to that argument, blogged yesterday.) Excerpt from Heather's open letter:
There are a very great many good reasons why researchers and practitioners across many disciplines are enthusiastically embracing the potential of the internet to create, as the Budapest Open Access Initiative describes it, an unprecedented public good: open access to the scholarly literature that was never produced for the creator's profit. Today, my request is that the American Psychological Association give some thought to the potential of open access to help the helpers.
Jacqueline Trescott, Historians Protest Smithsonian's Deals, Washington Post, April 26, 2006. Excerpt:
The Society of American Historians, a group that promotes excellence in historical writing, has suspended Smithsonian Books from its ranks in protest over the Smithsonian Institution's "increasingly commercial approach to its mission." The suspension itself will have little impact, but it is the latest symptom of friction between the Smithsonian's top managers and many of the nation's scholars. The latest criticism follows a month of public debate over partnerships the Smithsonian made with commercial businesses and the change in policy about access to its archives. In a resolution passed by the historical group's executive board yesterday, the society raised questions about the deal with Showtime Networks to create a series of 100 programs a year based on the Smithsonian collections and experts. But the historians also raised questions about a second contract, this one a publishing pact with HarperCollins....
Stevan Harnad endorses my comments yesterday on the new journal study sponsored by the RCUK, RIN, and DTI. And he takes them further, in this comment on his blog today:
The UK -- which had the undisputed leadership of the world in setting Open Access policy -- may now be losing that lead, allowing itself instead to get needlessly side-tracked and bogged down in irrelevant diversions and digressions, designed solely to delay the optimal and inevitable (and obvious, and already long overdue). Peter Suber's comments are spot-on, and say it all. The ball, already fumbled by NIH in the US and perhaps now by the RCUK in the UK too, will now pass to the European Commission and -- more importantly -- to the distributed network of individual universities and other research institutions worldwide. The leaders now are the institutions that have not sat waiting for national funder mandates in order to go ahead and mandate OA self-archiving, but have already gone ahead and mandated it themselves, for their own institutions.
He takes the thread further in second post today on How to test whether mandated self-archiving generates cancellations. Excerpt:
Rufus Pollock, Removing the nc: why license restrictions on commercial use are problematic and (frequently) unnecessary, Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, April 24, 2006. Excerpt:
Update. Rufus has posted a follow-up (May 2, 2006).
Lesley Perkins, Ego? What ego? OA Librarian, April 26, 2006. Excerpt:
One of the biggest challenges for academic librarians is getting faculty to deposit their articles into the university's institutional repository (IR), assuming there is one, of course. There are numerous reasons why faculty don't or won't deposit their articles, and there are numerous strategies, some more effective than others, for convincing them to do so. John Willinsky (UBC professor, and author of The Access Principle) believes the key is to appeal to their ego. Faculty love to see their work widely disseminated, read, praised and cited. It feeds their ego, they're human. But what's the hook? John suggests putting a section on the university website homepage that advertises the IR and the university's research output with a feature called "Faculty Article of the Day" (or week, if daily seems too arduous), with a link to the article in the IR. He claims that many faculty check their institution's homepage regularly to see what's new and which faculty member's work is getting attention. It won't take long before faculty realize that if they want their research featured on the homepage, they'd best find a way to deposit it in the IR. Why not go a step further and add the same feature to the university library homepage? Double-boost those egos, and increase access and exposure while you're at it?
PS: The Dutch take this idea a step further with Cream of Science, which showcases to the whole country --or, actually, the whole world-- the best work on deposit in Dutch OA repositories. The strategy has been very successful both in attracting readers and stimulating deposits.
Open Business has interviewed Yochai Benkler, author of The Wealth of Networks (Yale 2006, both in print and OA editions). Excerpt:
JISC announced the launch of PerX in September 2005, and today released an update on its progress. Excerpt:
Péter Jacsó, Puppy love versus reality: The illiteracy, innumeracy, phantom hit counts and citation counts of Google Scholar, a PPT presentation at the UKSG Annual Conference (Warwick, April 3-5, 2006). Hits GS-worship hard; hits GS harder.
The May issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now online. A full half of this issue (pp. 12-21) is devoted to Library Access to Scholarship. Walt reviews six months of news and comment on OA, including many of my own writings. He covers the launch of OA Librarian, the ACRL adoption of delayed OA for College & Research Libraries, Hindawi's expanding line of OA journals, the DC Principles Coalition proposal for rolling back the NIH policy, the OA experiment at JMLA, Erik Engstrom's confident misunderstandings of OA, Dorothea Salo's reflections on the obstacles to OA archiving, Jan Velterop's reflections on OA publishing, my review of OA in 2005 and my predictions for 2006, the Kaufman-Wills report, the analogy between OA and open source, Richard Poynder's proposal of a central OA organzation, Charles Bailey's overviews of OA --and more. You saw all of this here in OAN, but not with Walt's commentary. Have a look.
Toru Iiyoshi, Opportunity is Knocking: Will Education Open the Door? Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, April 2006. (Thanks to A.G. Rud.) Excerpt:
IBScientific (IBS) is a non-profit publisher, launched last year (July 5, 2005), specializing in OA journals from developing countries. Currently it publishes IBScientific Magazine and the IBS Journal of Science, both under CC Attribution licenses. Other details from today's announcement:
All our publications are peer reviewed and registered as journals. This initiative has taken Algeria as a case for proof of concept and has attracted the attention of both academics and policy makers. We are also launching a collaboration gateway, to harbor science peer-to-peer communication. This project also serve the scientific community in large and has received some support from UK researchers. Our nine month life so far has been very exciting and our growth has prompt us to organise a conference to improve awareness of the open access model and its role in future science publishing..., and we would like to draw your attention to this initiative. (The conference date is the 8th of July 2006, in London.)
PLoS Clinical Trials will officially launch in May but already has two preview articles posted to its web site.
Renate Ell, Publish or perish: self-archive to flourish, a posting on the ESOF2006 Conference blog, April 26, 2006. Excerpt:
“If I have been able to see further, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants” – this famous quote from a letter by Isaac Newton is still a wonderful metaphor for the work of scientists. Research is always founded on other research, and it becomes a foundation for others’ research – at least if other scientists can (afford to) access the relevant publication. With 24000 peer-reviewed journals worldwide, that can be difficult. But the internet now provides a new way to “become a giant”: Researchers can complement access to their own published journal articles by also “self-archiving” them on the web....
Ayo Kusamotu, A paradigm shift from consumers to producers of works, Vanguard, April 26, 2006. A defense of open content in Nigeria. Kusamotu focuses on the arts and entertainment but appeals to general principles that apply to other domains as well.
The University of Southampton has issued a press release on Stevan Harnad, Southampton's globe-trotting archivangelist. Excerpt:
Southampton's globe-trotting 'archivangelist' Professor Stevan Harnad, is currently promoting the benefits of University Open Access Self-Archiving as invited keynote speaker in Europe, the United States and Canada. 'Self-Archiving' means researchers depositing their published articles in their own university's open-access web archives, making them accessible for free, for all users worldwide. Professor Harnad, one of the founders of the international Open Access movement and Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) is informing his audiences in five locations around the world that so far only 15 per cent of researchers are self-archiving spontaneously, even though studies from the University of Southampton have shown that self-archiving increases research usage and impact by a dramatic 25-250 per cent in all disciplines....
Steven Breckler, Open Access and Public Understanding, APA Online, April 2006. Breckler is the Executive Director of the American Psychological Association. Excerpt:
Over the past year, NIH has been working to establish and grow a policy on public access. The goal is to post all of the journal publications that result from NIH grants, in a form that makes the full text freely available to the public. When the policy was first introduced, contributions to the public archive were voluntary. Now NIH and some members of congress want to make the contributions mandatory – if your published journal article is supported in any way by a grant from NIH, you would be required to deposit the full-text article in the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central archive. APA joined with many other non-profit publishers of scientific journals to express concerns about the initial NIH policy. For one thing, NIH has not yet demonstrated that it can manage such a mammoth undertaking. Many of us also have serious reservations about concentrating so much gate-keeping authority in the hands of a federal agency. These agencies already control the direction of science through the allocation of funding. Under the new public access policy, it will be far too easy for the government to suppress research results that happen to be unpopular or politically unpalatable. It is an Orwellian nightmare for basic science. Perhaps the greatest concern, however, is the disingenuous premise on which the public access policy is based. In Publication No. 05-5775, NIH asserts the following:“Ensuring access to the full text of NIH-funded research publications will improve the public’s understanding and appreciation of biomedical research findings. Enhanced access to information strengthens and expands the impact of research while disseminating it in a timelier manner. The online archive will increase the public’s access to health-related publications at a time when demand for such information is on a steady rise.”
Comment. (1) The concern that NIH will be a gatekeeper that could suppress politically unpalatable results is completely misplaced. Breckler missed the fact that NIH is not the sole distributor of this research. The NIH policy only applies to articles published in independent journals. The NIH will only host copies of research published elsewhere. (2) On the benefit for lay readers, Breckler makes three mistakes. First, he mistakes the NIH priorities, which are to help researchers first and lay readers second. The policy puts it this way: "By creating an archive of peer-reviewed, NIH-funded research publications, NIH is helping health care providers, educators, and scientists to more readily exchange research results and the public to have greater access to health-related research publications. As the archive grows, the public will be more readily able to access an increasing number of these publications." Second, he assumes that the NIH policy has no other justification than to help lay readers, so that if this one is weak, the policy cannot stand. Breckler misses not only the primacy of the benefit to researchers, but its immensity. Third, he assumes that because helping lay readers is secondary, it is therefore negligible or can be satisfied through priced-access models. For some evidence to the contrary, see testimonies from Merrill Goozner, Kuan-Teh Jeang, Ray Corrigan, and (if you only have time to read one) Sharon Terry. BTW, there's a good thread at the AmSci OA Forum on the "lay reader" question.
Paradise Publishers plans to develop the world's largest collection of OA ebooks. From Monday's announcement:
Paradise Publishers Inc, a web based publishing firm acquired the website www.Free-eBooks.net earlier this month....The site currently generates over 26 million hits monthly and Paradise Publishers Inc. plans to increase traffic tremendously by creating the world’s largest free e-book online database. “We want to be people’s source of information” says Nicolas Gremion, Paradise Publishers Inc. President. “Similar to the Google model, we’re giving our users instant access to free info on any topic under the sun” he continues. “By providing great benefits to our visitors we shall continue to increase our traffic flow and elevate Free-eBook.net among the ranks of the most popular sites on the net, period”.
Peter Monaghan, Digital Dissertation Dust-Up, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 28, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
Virginia A. Kuhn, a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, was having dissertation trouble. Nothing unusual about that. But it wasn't that Ms. Kuhn was struggling to finish her thesis. The trouble was that officials at the institution could not figure out whether to accept it. Her thesis is not a printed document. It was born digital, in a multimedia format full of film clips, hyperlinks to other parts of the work, and other uses of electronic media....The biggest issue was copyright. Citing a snippet of text in a printed thesis is standard procedure, but including a piece of video or a still picture, which Ms. Kuhn says is critical to explain her points, can raise the ire of copyright holders, and sound the alarm among university attorneys. Although Ms. Kuhn lists detailed citations for all multimedia works in her thesis, she refused to ask permission to include them, because she insists that she should be able to cite them in the same way that print sources have long been cited. She says: "If you ask for permission, you're screwed because you imply that you legally need it." Instead, she says, "I'm doing all that's incumbent on me legally to establish fair use." The topic of the work, as it happens, is the challenges of adopting new technologies in teaching and learning. Even though university officials first approved her dissertation and tentatively granted her a doctorate in December, they quickly reconsidered and put a hold on her transcript while they deliberated on whether they could accept the thesis. Only in late March did the university grant her degree, after a nerve-racking delay....
Comment. Kudos to Kuhn and UWM for standing by fair use, refusing to seek permission when it wasn't necessary, and helping future scholars face fewer permission barriers in writing up their research. If ProQuest will not accept dissertations that meet a university's academic standards and comply with copyright law, then universities should cut ties with ProQuest. At the very least, ProQuest acceptance should never be a condition of university acceptance.
The RCUK has announced an Analysis of data on scholarly journals publishing to be undertaken jointly with the RIN (Research Information Network) and DTI (Department of Trade and Industry). From the site:
Comment. (1) The RCUK has not said whether it will wait to announce the final version of its OA policy until the new study is complete and fully digested. But it looks as though it will. It looks as though the voices calling for delay have prevailed. (2) Remember that the RCUK's draft OA policy is already based on extensive fact-finding from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and summarized in its well-known report, Scientific Publications: Free For All? (3) The only relevant evidence not yet unearthed by previous studies is on the effect of high-volume OA archiving on journal subscriptions --outside physics, where we already know that high-volume OA archiving is either harmless or synergistic with journal subscriptions. But we cannot gather evidence on this question until we stimulate high-volume OA archiving in a field other than physics, e.g. by adopting a policy something like the RCUK's draft OA policy. Let's get on with it, adopt the policy, monitor the effects carefully, and be prepared to amend as needed. (4) Why does the list of "all the key stakeholders" omit researchers and universities?
The Dutch DARE program has launched a Profile Management System called PROMAS. From today's announcement:
PROMAS [is] a browser-based tool which integrates existing information from various academic data sources (CRIS, repositories, teaching info, plus others). PROMAS enables academics and institutes alike to create academic profiles in various formats, depending on the situation....Advantages are that the information is always up-to-date and only already existing information is being used. The HARVEX-project has realized not only a prototype, but a fully working production system. Core features of PROMAS are:  The system is explicitly directed toward archiving the results of academic labour and in so doing giving the opportunity to fully make use of the possibilities and objectives of the universities DARE repositories;  It gives the academics and institutions the possibility to strengthen the communicative aspects of their work toward the relevant stakeholders, by putting specific accents or structures in his profile which he / she thinks his stakeholders will find important;  It is in connection with the modern way in which communication and interaction take place in the academic community. Information is being communicated through (text) files in different formats (RTF, HTML, PDF) directed towards human reading and understanding. Information is also used more and more by stakeholders through harvesting meta-data by way of XML / RSS-feed standards (machine reading and understanding).
The Brazilian Institute for Information on Science and Technology (Instituto Brasileiro de Informação em Ciência e Tecnologia or IBICT) and the Biblioteca de Catalunya (National Library of Catalonia) have signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Acces to Knowledge.
ResearchNow from the Berkeley Electronic Press has been named to the Best Reference 2005 list by Library Journal. From today's announcement:
The [Library Journal] article says of ResearchNow, "This scholarly database just may be the face of the future in online publishing."...Access is available in two versions. ResearchNow Open Access provides quasi-open access to the roster of peer-reviewed, Berkeley Electronic Press journals, as well as completely unrestricted access to working papers, preprints and other "grey literature" from participating institutional and subject-matter repositories. ResearchNow Open Access is free to all readers. ResearchNow Full Access provides completely unrestricted access to the roster of peer-reviewed, Berkeley Electronic Press journals, as well as all new journals launched during the subscription period at no additional charge.
PS: Here's LJ's full statement on ResearchNow: "This scholarly database just may be the face of the future in online publishing, with content coming from three sources: 25 peer-reviewed bepress journals; working papers, preprints, and other 'grey literature' from institutional repositories; and items posted directly to the portal via the ResearchNow Upload Utility. Most notable: the file offers “quasi-open access,” as some content is unrestricted while other content requires a subscription."
The Dutch DARE program (Digital Academic REpositories) has launched the Scholars Economic Community, an OA repository and portal for the fields of education and labor economics. From today's announcement:
The aim of this site is to bring together researchers who work in the field of education and labor economics, by providing an online research environment. The Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA), Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam (EUR) and Vrije Universiteit (VU) have initiated this website.
Ronald K. Tompkins, The Surgical Journal of the Future: How Will It Appear? Surgery Today, May 2006. Only this abstract is free online for non-subscribers, at least so far:
Not since the invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg has there been such a revolution in the methods of dissemination of knowledge as is now being seen in the electronic media. The time-honored printed journal is becoming obsolete and open-access electronic journals and other technological innovations are rapidly reshaping the field of scientific publication. This paper will explore some of the forces driving these changes and what lies in store for the surgical journal of the future.
Michael Geist, Copyright Law and the Law, a guest post on Slaw, April 24, 2006. Four recommendations to Canadian lawyers on Canadian copyright reform. The fourth:
PS: Just one footnote: as Geist's own examples show, OA does not require copyright reform. It's lower-hanging fruit than any kind of copyright reform.
Antonios Liolios, Open-Access Journals: An Expert Interview With Gunther Eysenbach, MD, MPH, Medscape, April 24, 2006. Excerpt:
Gunther Eysenbach, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation at the University of Toronto and a Senior Scientist at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation. He is the publisher and editor of the Journal of Medical Internet Research, a full-text, open-access (OA) journal....
I can't cover the network neutrality debate in detail here because news with a more direct OA connection already takes all my time. But I wrote about it in the March issue of my newsletter and argued that compromising net neutrality will cause collateral damage to OA. To follow the news on net neutrality, and fight for the neutrality principle, I strongly recommend Save The Internet, a new and fast-growing coalition of good people and important organizations. Bookmark the web site, join the coalition, read the blog, and (if you're a US citizen) use the action alert to send a message to your Congressional delegation.
On the opening day of the Founding Conference of Expatriate Arab Scientists (Doha, Qatar, April 24-26, 2006), Harold Varmus argued for open access. That's all I've been able to find out. The conference has no web site and the presentations are not online. If you have more info, please drop me a line.
Update (4/29/06). Here's the program for the Doha conference.
William H. Walters, Institutional Journal Costs in an Open Access Environment, forthcoming from the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.
Abstract: This study investigates the potential impact of Open Access pricing on institutional journal expenditures in four subject fields at nine American colleges and universities. Three pricing models are evaluated: the Conventional Model (the current subscription model), the PLoS Open Access Model (based on the fees currently charged by the Public Library of Science), and the Equal-Revenue Open Access Model (which maintains current levels of total aggregate spending within each subject field). Because institutional disparities in publishing productivity are far greater than institutional disparities in library holdings, the shift from a subscription-based model to either Open Access model would bring dramatic cost savings (greater than 50%) for most colleges and universities. At the same time, a small number of institutions—the top research universities—would pay a far higher proportion of the total aggregate cost.
Comment. Let's distinguish two claims: (1) high-output universities will pay more than low-output universities for OA journals, and (2) high-output universities will pay more for OA journals than they now pay for subscription-based journals. The Cornell study of August 2004 and its December 2004 supplement made both claims. But as I've often argued, the Cornell calculation relied on three false assumptions: that all OA journals charge author-side fees, that universities will pay all those fees, and that the average fee is $2500. Walters also makes both claims, and also relies on the first two of these three false assumptions. Most of Walters' argument is devoted to first claim, and he sheds good light on it. However, I think most observers already agreed that the first claim was true, and no more surprising than the fact that high-output universities pay more than low-output universities for journal subscriptions. When Williams asserts the second claim, he improves upon the Cornell calculation primarily by using more sensitive estimates of the size of the author-side fees. He still assumes that all OA journals charge fees and that universities would pay all of them.
I'd like to see Phil Davis (for Cornell) and William Walters refine their calculations to take two known truths into account: that fewer than half of all OA journals charge author-side fees (only 47% according to the Kaufman-Wills study) and that some sizeable percentage of those fees will be paid by funding agencies rather than universities. If the calculations are refined in these ways, we'll find that the first claim remains true and that the second claim is false.
Jeffrey Young, National Archives to Stop Letting U.S. Agencies Secretly Withdraw Documents, Chronicle of Higher Education (accessible only to subscribers), April 28, 2006. Excerpt:
Hoping to restore its reputation among scholars and members of the public, the [U.S.] National Archives and Records Administration said last week that it would stop making secret agreements with government agencies that allow them to withdraw documents from the archives for national-security reasons, without public notice, and to restore the documents' classified status. The move came the same day that officials disclosed that the archives had secretly made a deal with the Central Intelligence Agency soon after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The agreement allowed CIA agents to remove items from the archives without leaving any public record of what had been removed. Allen Weinstein, who has been the archives' director since last year, said last week that he had learned of the agreement only the week before, and that he had immediately rushed to denounce it. He sought, successfully, to get the agreement declassified...."There can never be a classified aspect to our mission," said Mr. Weinstein, in a written statement. "Classified agreements are the antithesis of our reason for being."..."We really are going to be much more transparent in our actions with agencies," added [Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the archives]. "Our mission is to make documents available, and we take that very seriously."..."This whole episode has been a genuine scandal for the archives," said Steven Aftergood, who directs a project at the Federation of American Scientists that tracks government secrecy. "One expects a certain degree of mischief from the CIA and other agencies — they mislead people all the time," said Mr. Aftergood. "That has been not been the normal experience at the archives....It is important that the archives be a champion of access to records and not a tool of other agencies that might have an interest in shaping perceptions of that record," added Mr. Aftergood.
Jenniffer Howard, UCLA to Announce Vast Online Encyclopedia of Egyptology, Chronicle of Higher Education (accessible only to subscribers), April 24, 2006. Excerpt:
The University of California at Los Angeles will unveil plans on Friday for what appears to be the world's first online, peer-reviewed encyclopedia devoted to ancient Egypt. The UCLA Encyclopedia of Egypt, which won a $325,000 grant this month from the National Endowment for the Humanities, will include material in Arabic as well as English....Users can preview the site [here]. During the project's first phase, which will take about two years, the editorial team plans to commission and publish some 650 entries. The first commissions will go out this summer, and some contributions may be up on the site as early as this fall, depending on how long they take to navigate the writing and peer-review process....In time, the encyclopedia will contain as many as 4,000 entries alongside a wealth of visual materials: terms in hieroglyphs, maps, photographs. Anyone with a Web browser will be able to use the English-language "open version," which will include abstracts in Arabic. A fuller version will provide, for a fee, complete Arabic translations along with such frills as three-dimensional "virtual reality" models of temples and other historical sites. "We have to be self-sustaining," Ms. Wendrich says, explaining the split-level system. "We have to create some kind of income." She points out that anyone with an Egyptian e-mail address will be able to browse the enhanced version gratis. "It's very important that Egypt has access to its culture and heritage," she says.
The RCUK still have not finalized their draft OA policy. But today they published their Science in Society Strategy, which contains a clue to their current thinking about OA. Excerpt:
AIM 4. Increase public awareness of the developments, achievements and impacts that flow from Research Council funded research....
Mark Chillingworth, Elsevier reviews its journal models, Information World Review, April 24, 2006. Excerpt:
Elsevier is assessing new pricing models which could see archive databases attached to journal subscriptions. The scientific publishing giant is collaborating with major libraries and believes there is demand for a return to title by title subscriptions with the added benefit of access to comprehensive databases. Elsevier senior VP Karen Hunter...believes that the information and publishing sector is in a period of unprecedented uncertainty. “How we make relevant information available and make a business case is not clear,” she said. Elsevier is assessing new models to understand what scientific users will pay for. “Publishers cannot give anything up,” she said of existing services, but also had to modernise and look for new services. “What publishers have to avoid is what happened to computers: every year users expected a better product for a lower price,” she said, referring to the decline of the PC market.
Tara Calishain, Find Available Academic Materials With Google Maps, Tech Talk, April 23, 2006. Excerpt:
A very smart cookie at Wayfarer has put together a Google map of university podcasts, Webcasts, and OCW (that's open courseware). It covers academic material around the world. As with any Google maps, you can zoom, click and drag the map location, and so on. I zoomed, clicked and dragged over to North Carolina and saw that Duke University archives some of the lectures from its mathematics department. If that's a little too heavy for you, there are plenty of other things to explore on the map, including Stanford's iTunes collection (some great music in there!), Harvard Extension School and Lectures, and lectures from the BBC. When I tried it, the Wayfaring site was running a little slowly....
Roberto Di Cosmo, Publication scientifique: le rôle des États dans l’ère des TIC, February 17, 2006. Apparently a preprint. (Thanks to the INIST Libre Accès blog.)
This morning the ALPSP released its response to the UK Gowers Review of Intellectual Property. Excerpt:
Open Access (the provision of free online access for all to scholarly research articles) is an aim which is closely aligned with the objectives of many of our members, particularly learned societies. For example, the mission of the Royal Society of Chemistry is ‘to foster and encourage the growth and application of [chemical] science by the dissemination of chemical knowledge’; that of the British Ecological Society is 'to advance and support the science of ecology and publicise the outcome of research, in order to advance knowledge, education and their application'; and that of the Society for Endocrinology is 'the advancement of public education in endocrinology'.
The response also has sections on mass digitization initiatives, like the Google Library project; fair use; DRM; orphan works; CC licenses, and other OA-related topics.
Comment. (1) ALPSP is right that OA serves the missions of many of its members. (2) ALPSP is right that when articles are deposited in OA repositories, they attract some readers away from the published versions at publisher web sites, as measured by downloads from the publisher sites. However, there's no evidence to date that decreased publisher downloads translate into decreased subscriptions. Library subscription decisions are orthogonal to user download decisions. (3) The ALPSP's own March 2006 study found that high journal prices far surpass OA archiving as a cause of journal cancellations. (4) ALPSP is right --if I may paraphrase-- that retention of copyright is neither necessary nor sufficient to allow authors to self-archive. It's not necessary because authors don't need the full bundle of rights in order to authorize self-archiving. It's not sufficient in the sense that many journals (for example, Nature and Science) say that they let authors retain copyright but in the fine print insist on exceptions that deprive authors of the right to self-archive. However, retaining copyright simpliciter or without qualification is more than enough to allow authors to self-archive. (5) Funding agencies that encourage or require OA archiving are not amending copyright law, not making funded work uncopyrightable, and not interfering with the freedom of authors to transfer copyright or the freedom of publishers to acquire and hold copyright. (6) The Gowers commission should understand that the rationale for encouraging or requiring OA archiving is to make research literature more accessible, visible, discoverable, and useful. Even if publishers could document harm to themselves, which they have not yet done, funding agencies have a right to lay down conditions making the work they fund benefit more stakeholders rather than fewer. Public funding agencies in particular have a right, and obligation, to put the public interest in access to publicly-funded research ahead the economic interests of a private-sector industry. (7) Funder policies will not undermine peer review. One reason is that journals charging subscription fees are not the only providers of peer review. Another is that the funder policies only apply to articles already published in peer-reviewed journals.
Chris Reed, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry (University of California, Riverside), offers the following modest proposal on CHMINF-L:
Richard Feinman has written a press release from the future on how OA might evolve in the next 2.5 years. Excerpt:
December 1, 2008. Budapest. The quiet frozen surface of the river stands as counterpoint to the heated discussions in the Duna (Danube) Hotel where representatives of governments, libraries, universities and major publishing houses are trying to hammer out guidelines for the implementation of a Universal Open Access Protocol (UOAP)....Scheduled for 2009, UOAP would make the contents of all scholarly publications free without subscription. The UOAP operation is to be funded by a consortium of government agencies, private foundations and commercial sources and follows a period of ad hoc funding and substantial confusion in the world of scientific journals, a situation which dates to the event now known in the publishing world as Nature Day of which the conference is the first anniversary.
Alma Swan, Open Access - what has been going on? A presentation delivered at the CERN OAI4 workshop, (Geneva, October 20-22, 2005). Self-archived April 22, 2006.
Abstract: New gold journals, alchemy at work on existing journals, hybrids and chimaeras; new repositories, growing repositories, empty repositories; Anglo-Saxon governments in a tizz; funder fudges, funders holding firm; employer moves; gold publishers, green publishers, grey publishers, green publishers going grey; authors - yes, no, don't know; Dutch cream, Scotland the Brave, the QUT-ting edge; Google; Jan Velterop.
Andy Carvin blogged some notes on Jamie Love's talk at Yale's Conference on Access to Knowledge (New Haven, April 21-23, 2006). Excerpt:
Why "access to knowledge?" It's a common brand for different movements - blogging, open access, creative commons, free software, etc. Developing countries said this is the one term that resonated with them. And we felt that it represented enough of what all these groups were working on that it was a good catch-all phrase for the collection of movements. Like Richard Stallman says, language is important. How can anyone argue against "access to knowledge?" That's a good thing, right?