News from the open access movementJump to navigation
Karla Hahn, The State of the Large Publisher Bundle: Findings from an ARL Member Survey, ARL Bimonthly Reports, April 2006. Excerpt:
There is no doubt that large commercial publishers’ bundles are a substantial part of research library collections. It is also clear that significant changes in library collections are underway. Cancellation projects are common. Shifts to e-only collecting for journal bundles are proceeding rapidly....Nondisclosure agreements are common, although more so with some publishers than others. Long-term contracts are similarly common. Cancellation of bundled titles has been effectively limited in recent years. Publisher’s archiving arrangements are unsatisfactory to at least a substantial minority of the community. Satisfaction with bundle pricing is decreasing through successive negotiations....With the majority of respondents reporting recent cancellation projects, the inescapable conclusion is that other segments of research library collections have been reduced to a greater extent in compensation for the protection afforded to bundles. This should be of concern to the library community and to publishers without the market power to gain similar protection for their titles. A few libraries believe they have [gained ground in renogotiating contracts], but a nearly similar number believe they are losing ground....
SPARC has created an FAQ on FRPAA for university administrators and faculty. Excerpt:
Andre Brown, Open Access Update, BioCurious, May 5, 2006. Excerpt:
Lautaro Vargas, EBI gives database boost to biotechs, Business Weekly, May 6, 2006. Excerpt:
The European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in Cambridge is heading a £11.4 million infrastructure project to provide the scientific community with free and unrestricted access to some of the world’s most important biological databases.
For more details, see the EBI press release (5/3/06).
PS: Apparently FELICS has no web site yet, but I'll blog the URL as soon as I discover it.
Tom Wilson and E. Maceviciute, Conference Report: Third Nordic Conference on Scholarly Communication, Lund 24-25 April, 2006, Information Research, April 2006. Excerpt:
Charles M. Vest, Open Content and the Emerging Glogal Meta-University, Educause Quarterly, May/June 2006. Vest is the President Emeritus of MIT. Excerpt:
Our goal [at MIT] is to provide free access --in a well-organized, searchable manner-- to materials for the almost 2,000 subjects we teach....OCW [Open Courseware] exists through the generosity of the MIT faculty who choose to share their approach to pedagogy, organization of knowledge, and educational materials in this way. It is a voluntary activity for faculty, and their response has been so positive that we have had no doubt about accomplishing the OCW mission....We know a lot about its use because it is highly instrumented, especially by user surveys that receive remarkably high response rates. Students at peer universities are augmenting their learning by using OCW. A group of unemployed Silicon Valley programmers used OCW to master advanced languages while they were between jobs. A university in Ghana has used OCW to benchmark its computer science curriculum and revise its courses. An underground university uses OCW as a primary resource to educate its 1,000 or so students, who are members of a repressed minority in their country and are not permitted to attend college or university. A professor in Baghdad has based his research on data available in an OCW subject....
Brian L. Hawkins, Advancing Scholarship and Intellectual Productivity: An Interview with Clifford A. Lynch, Educause Quarterly, May/June 2005. This is Part 2 of Hawkins' interview with Lynch. Part 1 was published in the March/April issues. Excerpt:
PS: I had to cut some very good comments on copyright and DRM. Read the whole interview.
Aliya Sternstein, Bill to expand online access to research, Federal Computer Week, May 3, 2006. Excerpt:
Senators have introduced the first bill mandating that taxpayers receive free online access to journal articles containing federally funded research within six months of the articles’ publication. Co-sponsors Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) announced yesterday that the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 would require agencies with annual research budgets of more than $100 million to implement a public access policy granting faster access to research supported by those agencies.
Magaly Báscones Dominguez, Economics of open access publishing, Serials, March 2006. (Thanks to Phil Davis.) Only this abstract is free online, at least so far. Excerpt:
This article is based on a study undertaken at CERN Library. After a short introduction to the open access movement, an analysis of some CERN Library open access journals from a number of publishers is presented. Open access publishing models are then applied to some of the most important journal titles in particle physics. The results give a picture of the possible implications and the cost of open access in the current environment. Publishers' open access offerings, CERN authors' reactions to open access and the probable impact for CERN as a research institution are then examined.
Clifford Lynch, Open Computation: Beyond Human-Reader-Centric Views of Scholarly Literatures, in Neil Jacobs (ed.), Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, Chandos Publishing, forthcoming 2006. Excerpt:
Traditional open access is, in my view, a probable (but not certain) prerequisite for the emergence of fully developed large-scale computational approaches to the scholarly literature. It may not be a sufficient prerequisite, particularly if the legal and systems architecture frameworks currently being developed and deployed to support traditional open access are not quickly adjusted to accommodate the needs of open computational access....
William Jackson, Homes for copyright orphans, GCN, May 1, 2006. (Thanks to Chuck Hamaker.) Excerpt:
The Copyright Office is proposing legislation that would make it easier for libraries, universities and archives, including the Library of Congress, to digitize collections that contain “orphan works.” These orphans are the millions of unidentified but copyright works that are in danger of slipping into obscurity because their owners cannot be found....Although the law would apply to any users, universities, libraries and archives have a large stake in the issue because of programs making materials available online. The Library of Congress, for instance, has made millions of maps, photos, recordings and other materials available on its Web site at www.loc.gov. But digitizing and posting copyright material requires the copyright holder’s permission, which is not always easy to obtain. “The collections contain a massive amount of orphan works,” Prue Adler, associate executive director for the Association of Research Libraries, said at a recent seminar hosted by the Progress and Freedom Foundation. “This would be an enormous benefit to making these works publicly available.”
Alan R. Peslak, A review of national information and communication technologies (ICT) and a proposed National Electronic Initiative Framework (NEIF), First Monday, May 2006. Excerpt:
The Nature Publishing Group and the Allen Institute for Brain Science are partners in the OA Neuroscience Gateway. From yesterday's announcement:
Nature Publishing Group (NPG) and the Allen Institute for Brain Science are delighted to announce the launch of the Neuroscience Gateway, a free online resource for cutting-edge neuroscience and genomics research. The first update of the Neuroscience Gateway, which has been developed as a close collaboration between NPG and the Allen Institute, will be available on May 4th 2006 at www.brainatlas.org, and twice a month thereafter. The Neuroscience Gateway will provide a library of the latest papers, up-to-the-minute neuroscience news, and free access to highlights of key articles.
South Africa to make education more productive, India eNews, May 5, 2006. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
South Africa is exploring ways of using computing to make education more productive. ‘We intend to contribute to the digital commons,’ said Kim Tucker, a soft-spoken South African....Tucker, 45, is from the Meraka Institute (African Advanced Institute for Information and Communications Technology). The South African Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research manages the institute....South Africans are looking at other global tools [than Wikipedia] for education, including the Moodle, a free, open source learning management system and the Future Learning Environment (FLE3) from Finland. KEWL (Knowledge Environment for Web Learning), also a knowledge management system, is another useful option. ‘It’s much like the Moodle but with a lot of nice features,’ as Tucker puts it. There are some digital library systems, like Koha, and Greenstone, sharable and coming in from diverse parts of the globe. South Africa is also looking at the EXE (the E-learning XML Editor), a tool that makes it easy for educators to create educational content and store it in standards-compliant formats....
In the April 24 report on its March Council meeting, Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) restates its position on OA. (Thanks to the U of Toronto's OS/OA project.) Here's the report note in full:
Following on Council’s October 2004 approval in principle of open access --permanent, free, online access to the results of federally-funded research-- staff consulted with the social sciences and humanities community and reported on the options available to make open access a reality. The idea of open access to all research is widely accepted, but presents a number of implementation obstacles, and the community is by and large cautious. Rather than imposing mandatory requirements on researchers to publish via open access, Council chose to increase awareness of open access, pursue discussions with major stakeholders, and gradually incorporate open access provisions in research support programs.
For comparison, here's its position from October 2004:
The Open University UK has released a podcast interview with Simon Buckingham Shum on the university's Open Content Initiative. (The interview was released in March but I overlooked it until now.) From the description:
In this episode, we interview Simon Buckingham Shum --who leads the Knowledge Media Institute component of this newly announced “Open Content Initiative” (OCI) at Open University UK. In the interview, Simon discusses how OCI will be offering a new brand of university course materials freely over the internet (a la OpenCourseWare), and will also engage in several software/research initiatives to bring things like knowledge mapping, peer-to-peer collaboration, and Web 2.0 elements into the Open Educational Resources movement.
Richard Poynder, Why India Needs Open Access, Open and Shut, May 5, 2006. Part I of an interview with Subbiah Arunachalam. Part II will be published later. Excerpt:
Nature has released the API for Connotea. More detail from Ben Lund:
Barbara Fister, Public Funding = Public Access, ACRLog, May 4, 2006. Excerpt:
Another bill has been introduced in Congress to make publicly-funded research publicly available. The Washington post coverage portrays this as a rebuke to the lame response thus far to the NIH’s voluntary depository program. It also expands the domain of funded research beyond the biomedical sciences....Peter Suber mentions in his blog the bill’s three chief strengths: it makes open access a requirement, it has a six-month deadline, and does not rely on publisher consent. Needless to say the Association of American Publishers is not happy, but they’re not as quick to update their website as Peter Suber is so, as of this writing, you’ll have to take the Post’s word for it.
PS: Pat Schroeder, President and CEO of the AAP, has weighed in on the bill (the FRPAA) and was quoted in the Washington Post story. But she focused on the cost of conducting peer review and didn't draw the connection to the merits of the FRPAA. If she did, she'd have to argue that the FRPAA would undermine subscriptions at peer-reviewed journals, for which there is fear and speculation but no evidence. So far, the AAP strategy seems to be to make solid but irrelevant claims rather than relevant but unsubstantiated claims.
William New, Yale Conference Invigorates Access To Knowledge Movement, IP-Watch, May 5, 2006. Excerpt:
Heidi Lerner, Sharing Knowledge: Recent Trends in Search and Delivery Tools for Scholarly Content, AJS Perspectives, Spring 2006, pp. 32-34. (Thanks to Alexei Koudinov.) Excerpt:
The current buzzwords in electronic information delivery begin with the word “open”: open source, open content, open standards, open access, open archives. The trend towards making content and resources available on the Internet is spreading quickly throughout the academic world....Although the impact of these developments on the Jewish studies community may be minimal, it is growing every day....Jewish studies scholars internationally would benefit from the creation of an electronic repository into which authors can self-archive and make available their output. Israel Scholar Works is a new initiative that seeks to serve as a “digital archive for creative work by the faculty and staff of Israel Academic Institutions and Jewish scholars all around the world.”...As members of the Jewish studies scholarly community, we are in the best position to determine the value and usefulness of these tools [OA repositories, search engines, book digitization, blogs and RSS feeds]. We must take the initiative and familiarize ourselves with new Web-based technologies and services. This will enable us, individually and collaboratively, to expand the presence of easily accessible primary and secondary scholarly and research materials in the digital world.
Pamela Bluh, 'Open Access', Legal Publishing, and Online Repositories, Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, Spring 2006.
Abstract: This paper discusses the efforts of the Open Access movement to provide scientific and scholarly information over the Internet. The origin of the movement is described as are the benefits of free access to researchers in the scientific, technical and medical fields.
From the body of the paper:
Despite different philosophies, different management styles, and a different array of products and services, both SSRN and bepress are dedicated to providing scholars with the widest possible audience for their work and with giving their audiences access to that scholarship. They are enterprising, visionary organizations, skillfully harnessing the power of the Internet and successfully persuading scholars that long-standing, entrenched practices, procedures and points of view must be transformed. They are solidly committed to the principles of the Open Access Movement and are actively engaged in promoting the concept of open access within the legal community. These repositories are an underutilized tool for legal research policy. Policymakers and researchers should mine these resources for the gems they offer, free of charge.
Kathleen Fitzpatrick (via Bob Stein), Next Steps Following the April 24th Meeting, Toward the Creation of a New Scholarly Press, May 3, 2006. Excerpt:
On April 24, 2006, a group of academics, administrators, and researchers, all interested in figuring out how to rescue the scholarly book from what has begun to seem its imminent demise, met to spend a day discussing the future of that book in a networked environment. Our particular interest in hosting this meeting was to propose the formation of an all-electronic scholarly press. This document hopes to summarize both the substance of the discussion and the conclusions that we've drawn from it....
Graham Vickery and Sacha Wunsch-Vincent, Digital Broadband Content: Public Sector Information and Content, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, March 30, 2006. A report from the OECD on access to public sector information (PSI). (Thanks to Charles Arthur.) Excerpt:
Public bodies hold a range of information and content ranging from demographic, economic and meteorological data to art works, historical documents and books. Given the availability of information and communication technologies (ICTs) public sector information can play an important role in producing innovative value-added services and goods. Furthermore, these technologies also provide a wider population better access to educational and cultural knowledge. Both commercial opportunities and the wider spread of information have positive economic and social benefits....In some OECD countries access regimes allow commercial re-users have cheap and readily available access to PSI. They then add value to the public data and re-sell it to firms and consumers. Some studies argue that such open access regimes improve competitive market conditions for PSI re-use, stimulate economic growth and create jobs. However there are also arguments that commercial re-users may have low-cost access to data which was costly to create for the government, and that taxpayers may pay twice for the PSI content (once for creation of government content, and the second time when purchasing the content from a commercial re-user, although provided re-use is non-exclusive, users can also go to the original source for the original information, presumably at lower cost, but without value-added services). On the other hand, in other OECD countries, there are access regimes where the public sector holds public sector information for its own use or employs cost-recovery strategies that allow only limited and potentially expensive access. In this scenario there are arguments that potential consumers of this data may have only restricted access to it, and that this approach is more costly to the consumer and for the taxpayer. Moreover, the potential economic gains from development of new commercial activities based on PSI reuse may be foregone. The economic and equity arguments surrounding commercial re-use of public sector information and content are complex and deserve considerably more analysis and policy attention....Scientific information and research data is not included in this analysis as it has been a separate digital broadband content study [PS: September 2005]....
Charles Arthur, Should government charge ... and how much? The Guardian, May 4, 2006. Excerpt:
A week is a long time in politics. But six years, it seems, is not quite enough time in the civil service to carry out a study into the economic benefits of free data. In the Treasury's Spending Review in 2000, an interesting part discussed the knowledge economy - in particular whether public organisations should charge for their data, and if so, how much. [The report concludes that] some of the data generated is surplus to the running of government; it's simply there to generate profits, to offset the running costs of various departments. "As a result," the authors add, "the government is able, without abusing the dominant position it has in particular markets, to use pricing strategies which enable it to recoup at least some of the fixed costs of production." But that begs an important question that the Free Our Data campaign - which argues that government agencies should provide their data to the public for free - would like to see resolved....
The OASIS OpenDocument Format (ODF) has been approved as ISO/IEC 26300. ODF is an XML-based, Open Source file specification for the storage of files produced by office productivity applications (word processor documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, etc.). ODF is already fully supported by the OpenOffice.org productivity suite, an Open Source software bundle issued under the GNU Lesser General Public License (GNU LGPL). OpenOffice.org editions are available in 65 languages and may be run on Windows (98/ME/NT/2000/XP), Mac OS, Linux, and Solaris, among other operating systems, even Windows 95. OpenOffice.org software can read and write to the proprietary document storage formats employed in the Microsoft Office suite.
Nick Anthis, Open Access and the Democratization of Science, The Scientific Activist, May 4, 2006. Excerpt (after summarizing the FRPAA):
Philosophically, it’s hard to hard to argue with open access. Considering the sizeable investment the public annually makes through its tax dollars, access to the dividends in the form of peer-reviewed scientific literature only makes sense. Currently, as is often pointed out, someone has to pay twice to access the scientific literature....However, it’s just as apparent that open access undermines the prevalent business model of scientific publishers....As the largest purchasers of scientific journals, university libraries stand to gain immensely from open access measures. Due to current budget restraints, many libraries have to pick and choose what journals to carry, limiting the access to the literature of the students and researchers who depend on those libraries. Not being able to access a research article slows down the research process....Paying for open access would require a significant investment of taxpayer money, but only a very small percentage of the population is likely to take advantage of free access to journals....
Comment. I just want to respond to one point: "Paying for open access would require a significant investment of taxpayer money, but only a very small percentage of the population is likely to take advantage of free access...." The justification for OA is to benefit reseachers first and lay readers second, or to benefit researchers directly and others indirectly. There's no assumption that every citizen or internet user wants to read peer-reviewed science. Researchers need access to this literature and all too often lack it because journal prices have been rising much faster than inflation and library budgets for more than three decades. Just as patients benefit when their doctors have access to research literature, citizens benefit when researchers have access to new work on trade deficits, computer security, earthquake prediction, avian flu, and global warming. Finally, of course, most citizens never drive on a given mile of publicly-funded highway, but that's not a reason to withhold public funding from the highway.
Richard Seitmann, Open Access: US-Gesetzesinitiative für freien Zugang zu Forschungsergebnissen, Heise Online, May 4, 2006. Read the original German or Google's English.
Glyn Moody, OpenStreetMap - Finding Our Way, Open..., May 4, 2006. Excerpt:
I wrote a little about the Guardian's campaign to obtain open access to [UK] Government-generated data (which we pay for), but here's an interesting alternative: generate it yourself. This weekend, a bunch of intrepid GPS users aims to map the whole of the Isle of Wight, and then to use this information to generate their own detailed maps, which will be in released under a Creative Commons licence. The overarching project is called OpenStreetMap, and it seems the perfect way to get public mapping data. Rather waiting for the Government graciously to give us our data back, let's take to the streets and do it ourselves: of the people, by the people, for the people. Now, if only I had a GPS device....
Comment. It's admirable that citizens are doing this, but it's a disgrace that it should be necessary. Taxpayers have already paid for higher-quality versions of the same data and (in the UK) must pay again for access to it. I hope the project achieves two goals: providing the useful data without charge, and shaming the government into changing its access policies. On what other fronts will citizens have to duplicate publicly-funded government labor in order to deliver the service that the government will only deliver for an extra fee? Road building? Vote counting? Public defense?
Bobby Pickering, CUP to modernise journal publishing, Information World Review, May 4, 2006. Excerpt:
Cambridge University Press (CUP) is planning to make big advances in the journal publishing market, following a £1m investment in a new back-end journal subscription system. The charity, which is technically the publishing division of the University of Cambridge, also expects to be back in the black in the current financial year, following four years of overall loss-making....
Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Strong Copyright + DRM + Weak Net Neutrality = Digital Dystopia? Forthcoming from Information Technology and Libraries, 25, no. 3 (2006). Excerpt (after summarizing a series of lock-down trends and the open access movement):
Given the uphill battle in the courts and legislatures, Creative Commons licenses (or similar licenses) and open access are particularly promising strategies to deal with copyright and DRM issues. Copyright laws do not need to change for these strategies to be effective....
Update (October 4, 2006). The published edition is now online, though only accessible to subscribers.
BioMed Central has established a series of annual awards for the best research made OA in a BMC journal. From the site:
Michael Carroll, Copyright in "Pre-Prints" and "Post-Prints", Carrollogos, May 3, 2006. Excerpt:
In some quarters of the Open Access movement, some confusion has arisen with respect to copyright law and the many iterations through which an article goes. The comments that follow describe how U.S. law looks at "pre-prints" - the version of an article first submitted to a publisher, and "post-prints" - the author's final manuscript incorporating changes made after peer review. I wrote these comments in response to the question whether an author could grant a Creative Commons license to use a pre-print after having signed away all rights under copyright to a publisher. These comments are for your information and are not legal advice.
Carroll is a law professor at Villanova University and a member of the Board of Directors at Creative Commons. Carrollogos is his new blog, which will often cover copyright and OA issues. Check it out.
Michel Vajou, L'Open Access : une problématique à l'âge de raison?, written for the upcoming iExpo conference (Paris, May 31 - June 1, 2006), March 20, 2006. (Thanks to Marlène Delhaye.)
Graham Greenleaf, Philip Chung, and Andrew Mowbray, Emerging Global Networks for Free Access to Law: WorldLII's Strategies, Journal of Electronic Resources in Law Libraries, 1, 1 (2006).
Abstract: Those who value free access to law need to respond to the increasingly global nature of legal research, and the fact that most countries still do not have effective facilities for free access to law. The free access to law movement, centred around University-based Legal Information Institutes (LIIs), is assisting and encouraging the development of free access law facilities in many countries in the developing world. While doing so, it is also creating a global network of interconnected free-access legal research facilities on the Internet. This network is becoming comparable to the global legal research facilities provided by the multinational legal publishers. The free access to law movement is explained: its history, methods of cooperation, and Declaration on Free Access to Law. Public policies to maximise free access to law are advanced to explain why it is not good enough for governments to provide access to law through their own websites. Instead, a 'competitive model' is advanced, stressing the right of others to republish legal information. The task of developing global legal research is explained through categorisation of the elements of the visible and 'hidden' webs of legal information, and the implications this has for tools that LIIs must develop. This helps explain the modestly decentralised global free access to law network which is emerging, based on independent national and regional LIIs, with a smaller number of 'hubs'. The World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII), one of the hubs of this network, is explained in detail, particularly as a locus of five strategies to advance global free access to law. It is a Legal Information Institute in its own right with a focus on international content such as the decisions of International Courts and Tribunals. It is an 'incubator' of LIIs, hosting collections of national databases which may and have matured into separate LIIs. Third, WorldLII is an integrator of LIIs, providing not only a combined search of 439 legal databases from 55 countries (and growing by 25% per year), but also far more targeted searches such as those limited to one type of document (eg legislation) drawn from all its collaborating LIIs. More sophisticated forms of integrations are becoming possible as LIIs cooperate more closely, such as cross-LII hyperlinks, and global 'Noteups' of legislation and cases. WorldLII is primarily an English language interface to all LII content, but aims to go beyond that in a number of ways. Interfaces in other languages to the shared data set will better emerge elsewhere, but WorldLII may have an interim role. Finally, WorldLII is a platform for more systematic global legal research beyond the content held by its collaborating LIIs. Its tools are the WorldLII Catalog and WorldLII Websearch providing access to over 17,000 law websites worldwide, and 'Law on Google' (translating WordLII's searches into Google's search language and limiting their scope to law).
Senate Bill Would Require Online Posting of Federal Research, News blog of the Chronicle of Higher Education, May 3, 2006. Excerpt:
Two U.S. senators, eager for access to the results of taxpayer-financed research, introduced a bill on Tuesday that would require that the results of such research be posted free on the Internet. If the bill is enacted, each federal agency that spends more than $100-million yearly on research, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, NASA, and eight others, would have to create an online repository and require its grantees to place their research papers in it within six months of publication. The bill goes further than a policy in place at the NIH for the past year that merely requests posting in its repository, and suggests doing it within 12 months of publishing (The Chronicle, February 4, 2005).
Rachel Heery and Andy Powell, Digital Repositories Roadmap: looking forward, JISC, April 7, 2006. Excerpt:
Tom Sanders, Microsoft touts open research, IT Week, May 3, 2006. Excerpt:
Microsoft Research has talked up the way that its research arm is sharing information with the educational community at a company event at its Silicon Valley campus. Working with universities is vital, argued Roy Levin, director of Microsoft Research in Silicon Valley, because academia is driving innovation....George Johnson, associate dean in charge of special programmes at the engineering department for the University of California Berkeley, said that Microsoft Research is typifying the approach of "first the science, then the company".
Bill would open scientific research access, United Press International, May 2, 2006. A short, unsigned article apparently based on the ATA press release. Excerpt:
The Alliance for Taxpayer Access announced its support Tuesday for a Senate bill that broadens access to federal scientific research. The bill, called the "Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006," was introduced by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. The proposal would require federal agencies that fund more than $100 million in annual external research to make electronic manuscripts of peer-reviewed journal articles stemming from their research publicly available via the Internet.
Rick Weiss, Bill Seeks Access to Tax-Funded Research, Washington Post, May 3, 2006. Excerpt:
A smoldering debate over whether taxpayers should have free access to the results of federally financed research intensified yesterday with the introduction of Senate legislation that would mandate that the information be posted on the Internet. The legislation, which would demand that most recipients of federal grants make their findings available free on the Web within six months after they are published in a peer-reviewed journal, represents a rebuke to scientific publishers, who have asserted that free access to their contents would undercut their paid subscription base. It also signifies that some members of Congress have lost patience with a voluntary plan initiated a year ago by the National Institutes of Health. That plan encouraged but did not require recipients of NIH grants to make their findings public within a year after publication. In the first six months of that program, only about 4 percent of eligible researchers bothered to do so....
PS: I actually had more to say about the bill. I mentioned its three chief strengths: requiring OA, imposing a firm six-month deadline, and resting on a government license rather than publisher consent. But that said, it's still a very, very good bill.
Sergios Theodoridis, President’s Message, EURASIP, March 2006. Theodoridis is the President of European Association for Signal, Speech, and Image Processing (EURASIP), which publishes four OA journals through Hindawi Publishing. Excerpt:
Since EURASIP’s major decision to adopt the Open Access (OA) model for all its new journals, I have developed an interest in trying to keep up with related publications and adopted policies and actions by various scientific organizations and bodies concerning the OA philosophy....In a world of an unprecedented complexity, information and knowledge access models that transcend professional classifications, national boundaries, and social barriers are timely and necessary. The OA philosophy affects not only the publication of scientific research, but also the way large databases, such as the genomes of animals and plants, can be accessed.
Here are some helpful official links on the FRPAA:
And here are a couple of unofficial ones:
When I have time, I hope to go back and blog excerpts from some of these docs.
I just mailed the May issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue takes a close look at Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) just introduced in the US Senate by Senators John Cornyn and Joe Lieberman. The FRPAA mandates OA for federally funded research and imposes a firm six month deadline. The Top Stories section takes a brief look at the EC report calling for an OA mandate to publicly-funded research, the developing OA policy at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, NIH-Director Elias Zerhouni's public admission that the NIH policy might need a mandate, two recent clues to the RCUK thinking about OA, a new call for OA to biodiversity data, an "email-eprints" button for Eprints and DSpace archiving software, and the beta of Microsoft Live Academic Search.
Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (FRPAA) in the US Senate today. This is giant step forward for OA, even bigger than the CURES Act that Senator Lieberman introduced in December 2005.
Like CURES, FRPAA will mandate OA and limit embargoes to six months. Unlike CURES, it will not be limited to medical research and will not mandate deposit in a central repository. It will apply to all federal funding agencies above a certain size --including the NIH, NSF, NASA, EPA, and eight Cabinet-level Departments. It instructs each agency to develop its own policy, under certain guidelines laid down in the bill. Some of those agencies might choose to launch central repositories but others might choose to mandate deposit (for example) in the author's institutional repository. But all must insure OA "as soon as practicable, but not later than 6 months after publication in peer-reviewed journals".
For more deails, see Sen. Cornyn's press release:
In an effort to increase taxpayers' access to federally funded research, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Tuesday introduced the bipartisan Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006. The legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.). The bill requires every federal agency with an annual research budget of more than $100 million to implement a public access policy. The policy must ensure that articles generated through research funded by that agency are made available online within six months of publication. Cornyn said: "This legislation is a common-sense approach to expand the public's access to research it funds. And it will help accelerate scientific innovation and discovery." Lieberman said: "Tax payer-funded research should be accessible to tax payers. Our bill will give researchers, medical professionals and patients in Connecticut and throughout the nation access to scientific discoveries and advancements that can help bring new treatments and cures to the public."
I'll also have an article about the bill later today in the May issue of SOAN.
Comment. This is a superb bill: informed by the arguments for OA and the shortcomings of the NIH policy. It's one more sign that legislators are not treating the NIH policy as a precedent but taking every opportunity to improve upon it: going beyond a request to a requirement, beyond long or indefinite embargoes to firm deadlines, beyond biomedicine to all disciplines, beyond publisher consent to a federal purpose license that does not accommodate publisher resistance, and at least possibly, beyond central to distributed archiving. The FRPAA adds momentum to the CURES Act and the lesser but potent pressures on the NIH to convert its request to a requirement. It will give taxpayers access to the non-classified research they fund with their taxes. It will make a very large and useful body of research even more useful than it already is by sharing it with all who can apply or build upon it. In both respects it will increase the return on the taxpayers' enormous investment in this research.
Contemporary Management Research is a new peer-reviewed, OA journal hosted by Scholarly Exchange. From today's announcement:
CMR covers business management research from a global perspective, with interests ranging from traditional management topics to e-commerce and Internet marketing. The Academy of Taiwan Information Systems Research sponsors the journal, with an international editorial board.
Jaan Valsiner, "Open Access" and its Social Context: New Colonialism in the Making? Forum: Qualitative Social Research, March 2006.
Abstract: I claim that what is called "open access" is actually a transformed form of traditional ("closed") access, and is "open" only by its obviously appealing label. As a re-organizational move of institutionalized kind, it benefits the economically powerful --usually "first world" based-- research groups and corporations, and leads to new economic limits for the publication of innovative research emanating from less affluent researchers and laboratories. By shifting the costs of scientific publication from the recipients (journal subscribers) to the authors of published articles, "open access" creates a social scenario of one-sided information flow rather than a new form of "openness" in scholarly communication. By monopolizing the sources of scientific communication the "open access" initiative defeats its stated purpose. The articles [on OA] in the reviewed Special Issue of Historische Sozialforschung have productively outlined a whole range of specific issues related to this rapidly developing social movement in scientific communication, but have failed to analyze the wider sociological nature of the ongoing negotiations of the control over scientific communication channels of which the "open access" movement is a part.
Comment. (1) One of Valsiner's complaints is OA journals charge author-side fees, creating a barrier for indigent authors. But he's unaware that the majority of OA journals charge no author-side fees and many of the rest waive fees in case of economic hardship. (2) He's unaware that OA archiving raises no such barriers at all. When he discusses OA archiving, he changes the subject to its dependence on peer review, a supposed colonizing force. (3) He's unaware of the extensive support for OA in developing countries. But I suppose that if he were aware of it, he would dismiss it as ideologically deluded. (4) He claims that OA simply replaces the old publisher monopoly with a new "collective monopoly" of ISPs, who control online access. This would be a slightly interesting point if the access barriers imposed by ISPs were slightly comparable to those imposed by expensive journals. (5) He asserts: "It is thus a convenient illusion for scientists that by eliminating publishers' 'access boundaries' access to scientific information becomes 'open.' Rather, access becomes 'closed' in ways that are socially controlled by new players in the commercialization of the newly created Internet world. It is, in a sense, a process of 'closing down openings' in unison with 'opening up closures.'" This puts word-play ahead of serious analysis.
Elsa Wenzel, Google Scholar beta, ZDNet, May 2, 2006. A comparison of Google Scholar and Microsoft Live Academic Search. Excerpt:
Overall, we found Google Scholar beta to be a more rigorous and customisable research tool than its rival, although Windows Live Academic Search better integrates its finds with the brand's other services.
Jan Velterop, Of free riders and bad pennies, The Parachute, May 2, 2006. Excerpt:
In the open access debate, 'free riders' keep popping up like the proverbial bad pennies. Free riders are those who profit from open access to research articles, where in the subscription model they had to pay for access. Even UK parliamentarian Ian Gibson, in the last paragraph of his recent foreword to Neil Jacobs' book, sees free riders as problematic. But are they? Once research results are published (i.e. made public), in any model, whoever sees a possibility to benefit (or profit) from applying the knowledge found in these research results, is free to do so. In fact, a strong commitment to and concomitant spending on research in a country is usually seen as closely associated with a strong economic performance and development of the economy. So why is it that free use of the results themselves, representing 99% of the cost of research, is not problematic but, instead, is rightly seen to stimulate the economy, yet free access to the published results, representing a mere 1% of the cost of research, is regarded as a problem?
Comment. Jan is right, but my answer to the free-rider objejction is slightly different. A free rider in the relevant, pejorative sense is not just someone who uses a resource without paying, but someone who ought to pay instead. In this sense, there are no free riders on OA literature, any more than there are free riders on broadcast television and radio. When content is distributed free of charge, then everyone is invited to use it without paying, and nobody who does so can be criticized as a free rider.
The papers from the Harvard Berkman Center conference, Bloggership: How Blogs Are Transforming Legal Scholarship (Cambridge, April 28, 2006) are now online.
Here's an excerpt from one of them, Lawrence Solum's Blogging and the Transformation of Legal Scholarship (thanks to William Walsh):
Does blogging have anything to do with legal scholarship? Could blogging transform the legal academy? This paper suggests that these are the wrong questions. Blogs have plenty to do with legal scholarship - that’s obvious. But what blogs have to do with legal scholarship isn’t driven by anything special about blogs qua weblogs....The relationship between blogging and the future of legal scholarship is a product of other forces - the emergence of the short form, the obsolesce of exclusive rights, and the trend towards the disintermediation of legal scholarship. Those forces and their relationship to blogging will be the primary focus of this paper....The transition from exclusive rights to open source requires publication in formats that provide full text searchability and the use of copyright to insure that scholarship can be freely downloaded and duplicated. The trend toward disintermediation reflects the diminished role of traditional intermediaries such as student and peer editorial boards and the growing role of search engines such as Google. These trends are the result of technology change and the fundamental forces that drive legal scholarship. Each of the three trends, the short form, open access, and disintermediation reduces search costs and access costs to legal scholarship. Reducing costs has other important implications, including the facilitation of the globalization of legal scholarship and the reduction of lag times between the production and full-scale dissemination of new scholarship. Each of these important trends is facilitated by blogs and blogging, but the blog or weblog is only one form that these trends can take. Blogs express and facilitate the fundamental forces that are already transforming legal scholarship in fundamental ways.
Erik Mõller and Benjamin Mako Hill have launched a wiki to coordinate efforts to define the term "free content". (Thanks to the CC blog.) For them, free content includes the "freedom to make improvements or other changes, and to release modified copies", a freedom not included in some of the major definitions of OA and not in high demand for the major focus of the OA movement (peer-reviewed research articles). If you're comfortable with the rough and ready distinction between "open access" and "open content" that has grown up in the past couple of years, then this effort is on the open content side. But if you think the OA/OC distinction is permeable or even misleading, then the new definition project may overlap significantly with OA. For more details, see the announcement of the definition initiative.
The May issue of Searcher is now online. Three of its articles are OA-related (but only one is OA itself).
Arthur Sale has distilled his experience as a researcher, founder/manager of an OA repository, and student of repository policies, into an excellent list of suggestions for getting authors to deposit their work. Excerpt:
Effective author support policies involve a plethora of activities, and are well exemplified by the activities undertaken at QUT, Queensland University and here [University of Tasmania]. No doubt in many other places. They include (but no university does all):
Stuart Blackman, BioMedCentral faces angry editors, TheScientist, May 1, 2006. Excerpt:
Open access publisher BioMedCentral (BMC) is facing a potential revolt from a number of the editors at its independent journals, who are upset with how the journals are being managed. Several editors of the 93 independent journals published by BMC have told The Scientist that they are considering taking their journals to other publishers.
Richard Gallagher, publisher of TheScientist, has A word about BioMedCentral in the same issue. Excerpt:
Some of you may be wondering why The Scientist is today publishing a news story that on the face of it seems quite critical of BioMedCentral, our sister company. It's a fair question, and one with a simple answer: We are commited to covering significant developments, in science publishing and elsewhere, that are likely to be of interest to our readers, irrespective of the source of the story. This particular article is a test of the editorial independence of The Scientist, and it is a test that has been passed. The co-owner of The Scientist, who also owns BioMedCentral, has not tried to influence the story in any way. I believe in open access, and the editorial position of The Scientist is to support its development. BioMedCentral and the editors of the independent journals that they publish are passionate about open access. Together they are blazing a new trail in publishing, and inevitably this will result in some conflict. Transparency is needed in working out these growing pains. Sweeping issues like the ones raised in the story under the rug would be far more damaging in the long run.
Colin Steele, Open all hours? Institutional models for open access, in Neil Jacobs (ed.), Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, Chandos Publishing, forthcoming 2006. Self-archived April 26, 2006.
Abstract: Conclusion: In H G Wells’s ‘Country of the Blind’ the “one-eyed man is king’, while Canadian author Margaret Atwood has said, “an eye for an eye only leads to more blindness”! Many in the academic community remain “blind” to OA issues and are often constrained in taking action by historical practices, and more importantly by reward systems, both perceived and real. They thus occupy the academic institutional “country of the blind”. Informed institutional leadership, combined with vibrant advocacy programmes and enhanced reward systems, is required for relevant eyes to be opened to the nature and benefits of OA. Institutions now have the chance to accelerate the OA scholarly communication process. Such “action does not require total agreement with the OA movement's beliefs and proposals, but it requires an active engagement with them.”(Bailey, 2005) This “engagement” with individual researchers in institutions will be the key to scholarly communication change.
R. John Robertson, Stargate: Exploring Static Repositories for Small Publishers, Ariadne, April 2006. Excerpt:
Heather Morrison, Open Access: to Leverage the Research Dollar, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, April 30, 2006. Excerpt:
For the research funder, here is yet another reason why the results of research should be openly accessible, as soon as possible: immediately on publication - or before: to leverage the research dollar. Why? The way science works is in a series of steps, or like a puzzle. The goals of research are broad: finding cures for cancer, learning how to prevent or treat heart disease. These kinds of goals are rarely reached through a single study. Rather, each piece of research brings us just one step closer to the goal....When we fund one step in this research, we achieve more when more researchers are able to get on with the next steps, and we achieve the most when the results are shared as openly and quickly as possible, so that as many researchers as possible can get on to the next steps as quickly as possible.
Mark Leggott, The Psychology of Open Access, Loomware, April 30, 2006. This is a comment on Stevan Breckler's criticism of the NIH policy published last week. Breckler is the Executive Director of the American Psychological Association. Excerpt:
Library Student Journal is a new peer-reviewed, OA journal published by LIS students at the University of Buffalo. It expects to start accepting submissions in May --which starts tomorrow. (Thanks to Sabina Jane Iseli-Otto.)
Update. I just learned that Buffalo LIS students have also created The Firebrary, an OA digital library of the Buffalo Fire Historical Society. (Thanks to Jessica L. Fadel's announcement on Diglib.) Is it something in the water?