Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Presentations on open data

The presentations from the SPARC-ARL Forum on Open Data (at the ALA Annual confereence, New Orleans, June 24, 2006), are now online.

More on the Adelphi Charter, OA, and accountability for the public interest

The Creative Economy Forum is calling for a new body to regulate IP law in the UK to restore and maintain balance. From its July 20 press release:
Britain should set up a new body to regulate intellectual property in the public interest, according to the Creative Economy Forum. The body should be set up by statute and modelled on industry regulators such as OfCom. Its task would be to ensure intellectual property laws serve the public interest by encouraging more creativity and innovation. It would follow the principles of the RSA Adelphi Charter on Creativity, Innovation and Intellectual Property....

The new Office of Intellectual Property (OfIP) would take on all the Patent Office’s existing powers and responsibilities but operate within a policy framework shaped by the public interest. Government would have to account for the public interest instead of a narrow business focus as now....

Further information can be found in, Who Owns the Law? submitted to the Treasury Gowers Review of intellectual property.

The Adelphi Charter is an exemplary statement of balanced IP principles. It endorses OA in Principle 7. (For more details, see my newsletter for October 2005.)

In Who Owns the Law, John Howkins elaborates on the call for IP balance in the UK and annotates the relevant provisions of the Adelphi Charter. Excerpt:

7. Government must facilitate a wide range of policies to stimulate access and innovation, including non-proprietary models such as open source software licensing and open access to scientific literature.

Comment: The global General Public Licences (GPL) for free and open source software, the global Creative Commons licences, and Australia’s AEShareNet licensing protocols, are important and beneficial alternatives to proprietary systems. Governments should take the lead in supporting their equitable use in public procurement and education. Competition authorities should ensure users who wish to use alternative licences are not discriminated against. Any government education programme on IP should cover both proprietary and non-proprietary systems.

ALPSP response to the RCUK policy

The ALPSP has issued a press release on the new RCUK OA policy. Excerpt:
ALPSP is glad to see the long-awaited RCUK position statement on access to research outputs, and welcomes many aspects of the statement.

We are pleased to see that RCUK has recognised the differences between subject areas - both in terms of researchers’ varying attitudes to preprints, and the vulnerability of some journals to immediate or early self archiving - and has thus given individual Research Councils the flexibility to set their own policies.

We also welcome the emphasis on the importance of abiding by agreements signed with publishers....

Our main reservation about the statement is that Research Councils are not encouraged to make additional funds available – as, for example, the Wellcome Trust has done – to cover the costs of Open Access publication, which would allow immediate free access to the definitive published version, with all the functionality provided by the publisher’s site.

We are concerned, however, that one of the Research Councils - the Medical Research Council - has announced a policy which appears to restrict authors' freedom to publish wherever they believe is best for them. We are also worried that the 6-month maximum delay, which the MRC (like the Wellcome Trust) has prescribed, may be too short to protect subscriptions/licences for some journals, particularly those which are not in fast-moving fields or which are published relatively infrequently....

Publishers – particularly learned societies and other non-profit organisations – are strongly committed to maximising access....

We therefore look forward to working with individual Research Councils to develop workable policies and deposit mechanisms which will enable the earliest and widest possible access to both the data emanating from their research and the articles which report it, while at the same time ensuring that the business models which currently ensure the continuing availability of those journals in which scholars wish to publish are not threatened.


  1. It's true that the opportunities and obstacles for open access differ from discipline to discipline. But it's not true that this is a reason to oppose an OA mandate that applies across the disciplines. The best counter-example is FRPAA, which mandates OA for 11 funding agencies in the US federal government representing different disciplines. FRPAA mandates OA from them all and accommodates their differences by leaving them free in other respects to develop OA policies that reflect their unique circumstances.
  2. The ALPSP welcomes "the emphasis on the importance of abiding by agreements signed with publishers...." This is backwards. At the time researchers sign funding agreements with a Research Council, there are no publishing agreements to abide by. Grantees sign funding contracts long before they sign publishing contracts. Funders have the right to insist that their contracts be enforced, and that grantees may only sign subsequent publishing contracts subject to the terms of the prior funding contract. The Wellcome Trust OA policy is the clearest and strongest of all of the funder mandates to date because it is the only one to recognize this simple truth. In trying to evade this truth, or to evade its legal power to enforce its own interest in OA, the RCUK adds an incoherent proviso to its policy: we mandate OA but we ask grantees to defer to subsequently-signed contracts with publishers, therefore giving publishers the power to override the mandate. Here the ALPSP is praising the incoherent proviso.
  3. I agree with the ALPSP that all eight of the Research Councils ought to make additional funds available (or at leasat allow grantees to use grant funds) to pay the publication fees at OA journals or OA hybrids that charge fees --and I said so earlier this month in my newsletter. Not only is the Wellcome Trust willing to pay these fees on behalf of its grantees (as ALPSP notes), but so is the NIH. Funders ought to recognize that this is a true point of common ground between OA advocates and publishers.
  4. The OA mandate from the Medical Research Council (MRC) will only limit the freedom of authors to publish where they wish if publishers refuse to consider submissions from MRC-funded authors. So far, not a single publisher has done so. Publishers raised the same objection to the NIH policy, but the NIH called their bluff. To date no publishers have refused to consider submissions by NIH-funded authors. In fact, I don't know of any publishers who have refused to consider submissions by researchers funded by any of the agencies that encourage or require OA.
  5. Publishers have some commitment to access, of course, but publishers who oppose OA mandates (and even OA requests) from funders are obviously not committed to "maximising access". For most publishers of subscription-based journals, there is one commitment that comes ahead of the commitment to access: the commitment to limiting access, or the commitment to artificial scarcity, that protects revenue. We can have an honest disagreement on the merits of this position, but can't we have an honest acknowledgement that this is the position?
  6. The ALPSP looks forward to working with the Research Councils on their OA policies --but the purpose of this assistance or negotiation is to "ensur[e] that the business models which currently ensure the continuing availability of those journals in which scholars wish to publish are not threatened." In other words, change everything except our business models, which give us a temporary monopoly on research that we didn't conduct, write up, or fund. I don't expect that citizens of the UK will allow public funding agencies to put the interests of a private-sector industry ahead of the public interest in public access to publicly-funded research.

The digital transition: a publisher perspective

Michael Mabe, (Electronic) journal publishing, The UKSG E-Resources Management Handbook, vol. 1, 2006. Excerpt:
Despite all these gains, the move to digital forms of article creation and delivery has introduced challenges that no one could have anticipated. Versions of articles are proliferating. The final published versions in print are not necessarily the same as those available online. Articles are being made available earlier without page numbers, making citation problematical. What exactly is the definitive version of an article, where can it be found and what counts as the official publication date? How can a secure digital archive be created? Who should maintain it? How can it be financed? Should authors be allowed to put versions of their articles onto public web sites? If so, which version, and does it matter? None of these thorny issues existed in a pre-digital age, but they are fast becoming real practical obstacles to efficient scholarship rather than philosophical conundrums for debate at library and publishing conferences.

These challenges arise from two main features of digital documents: their infinite reproducibility without control and their infinite changeability without necessary sanction by any authority. In a paper world, scholarly publishing was ‘digital’: a document was published or it was not; if it was, then that version was the fixed official and final one. In an electronic world, scholarly publishing becomes ‘analogue’: a continuum of versions can exist of varying degrees of ‘published’ and ‘final’....

[A]ny saving in costs of digital publication is largely eaten up by the costs of new activities. Savings potentially range from 0 – 10% at most. For such economies to apply across the board, all journals would have to be produced as electronic-only publications. The reality is, however, that most customers still wish to be provided with a paper version as well as an electronic one. To do this requires the maintenance of two production tracks with all the old processes as well as the new ones. Paradoxically, the digital transition has resulted in publishers bearing a dual cost structure which is more expensive than the traditional paper world and which is unlikely to disappear until print itself disappears.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Library groups support FRPAA

Eight major North American library associations have released their July 12 letter to Sen. Susan Collins in support of FRPAA. The letter will soon be online here and here. Meantime I'm quoting from a copy that John Ober sent as an attachment to the ScholComm list. Excerpt:
We write in strong support of the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (S. 2695)....S. 2695 would promote widespread, affordable, and effective dissemination of scientific and scholarly research results. For this reason, we encourage the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to conduct hearings on S. 2695.

Federally funded research is a public resource collected at public expense. Importantly, increased access to this research accelerates the pace of discovery and innovation and fosters economic growth.

It is critical that this new research be readily available to physicians, researchers, and members of the public, including those who are unaffiliated with or working in locations remote from libraries that subscribe to in increasingly expensive journals and databases developed from federally funded research. Indeed, results of a recent Harris Interactive poll show that the majority of U.S. adults believe that federally funded research findings should be available for free to doctors and the general public....

[T]he Internet offers an unprecedented and cost-effective means to accelerate scientific advancement. S. 2695 recognizes this potential and helps to facilitate its realization. Its key beneficiaries include:

  • Scientists and scholars, whose research will be more broadly read and who will have fewer barriers to obtaining the research they need.
  • Funders, who will gain from accelerated discovery, facilitation of interdisciplinary research methodologies, preservation of vital research findings, and an improved capacity to manage their research portfolios.
  • Taxpayers, who will obtain economic and social benefits from the leveraging of their investment in scientific research through effects such as enhanced technology transfer, broader application of research to health care provision, and more informed policy development....

This legislation is not a threat to journals and the peer review process. The Federal Research Public Access Act contains two key provisions that protect journals and the peer review process:

  • A delay of up to six months in providing access to articles via the public archive (versus immediate access for journal readers).
  • Inclusion in the public archive of the author’s final manuscript rather than the publisher’s formatted, paginated version preferred for citation purposes.

In some disciplines, freely accessible online archives have proven to supplement journal readership, not replace it. In physics, for example....

If Congress were to pass S. 2695, the most significant day-to-day effect on investigators would be improved access to research and increased impact for their own work. A growing number of studies demonstrate that research is cited more often when it is openly accessible on the Web. The process by which investigators deposit their work is expected to be relatively simple. NIH, for example, estimates that submitting a manuscript to their archive usually takes an investigator just 3–10 minutes.

This legislation will not take funding away from research to any material extent. The NIH, for example, estimates that the cost of its public access program would be $3.5 million if 100% of the 65,000 eligible manuscripts were deposited annually. That is a tiny fraction (about 0.01%) of the agency's $28 billion budget. It is also a small fraction of the $30 million per year the agency spends on page charges and other subsidies to subscription-based journals....

The organizations signing the letter are the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), American Library Association (ALA), Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL), Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Medical Library Association (MLA), and the Special Libraries Association (SLA), and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).

Update. The letter is now online.

Stevan Harnad wins a poetry prize, supports FRPAA

The Andrea von Braun Foundation sponsored an unusual poetry competition associated with this year's Euroscience Open Forum (Munich, July 15-19, 2006). Eligible poems could address any topic covered by a session at the conference --including open access. For the outcome, let me turn you over to Alma Swan:
At the closing ceremony it was announced that Stevan Harnad had been awarded the prize for the best poem in English....There are no additional prizes for guessing what the topic is before you read it!

Stevan has told the Andrea von Braun Foundation that he wishes to donate his 300 euro prize to the Alliance for Taxpayer Access in the US so that, in his words "in a small way Euroscience (thanks to the Andrea von Braun Foundation) can lend a hand to promoting the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) in the United States. This small gesture toward closing the circle worldwide will help hasten a global synergy, from which all science will benefit."

What a splendid gesture from a remarkable person.

See Alma's post for the text of Stevan's poem, Publish or Perish.

PS: Double honors to Stevan. Congratulations on the prize (Stevan, we hardly knew ye) and deep thanks for the donation to the ATA, which was beyond the call.

Rapid new growth at OAIster

Heather Morrison, Dramatic Growth: July 20th Brief Update, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, July 21, 2006. Excerpt:
On June 30th, I reported that OAIster had grown by more than half a million records in the previous quarter, for a total of 7.6 million records, and predicted that OAIster would exceed a billion records sometime in 2007.

The pace of growth in the past few weeks has been dramatic indeed - OAIster now lists 8,754,367 records from 668 institutions - growth of more than a million records in less than 3 weeks. At this rate, an OAIster search will pass the billion mark much, much sooner than expected, likely in 2006.

The list of new institutions harvested recently is long, and impressive.

"Bill Gates has shown real leadership"

David Bollier, Is Hell Freezing Over? Bill Gates Embraces the Knowledge Commons, On the Commons, July 21, 2006. Excerpt:
The only story more newsworthy than “man bites dog” has got to be “Bill Gates champions open sharing and collaboration.” Yes, the high priest of proprietary software – whose company has ruthlessly used its copyrights and patents to stifle competitive and innovation – is now recognizing the virtues of the knowledge commons…. for AIDS research, at least....

One is tempted to snort at the hypocrisy that Gates has not applied the commons analysis to the development of Windows and other Microsoft products, whose proprietary code continues to thwart innovation and competition around the world. But let us be gracious. There will be time enough to learn how Gates squares the IP positions of his foundation and those of Microsoft. Indeed, given the company's recent agreement to include a new feature in Word that makes it easy to use Creative Commonslicenses in text documents, change may be afoot.

In the meantime, in the interest of finding an AIDS vaccine, Bill Gates has shown real leadership. His foundation is willing to acknowledge a truth that most other IP ideologues staunchly refuse to admit – that an open knowledge commons can be profoundly generative and innovative, and should therefore be actively promoted. Promising research results are now likely to arrive much sooner than otherwise.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Letter to Congress in support of OA

Progressive Secretary has composed a letter in support of FRPAA and an OA mandate at NIH. US citizens can have the letter mailed to their Congressional delegation with just a click. (Thanks to Dorothea Salo.)

Bill Gates puts an OA condition on AIDS research grants

From yesterday's press release from the Gates Foundation on a new funding program for an HIV/AIDS vaccine.

Five central facilities will be established, including three laboratory networks for measuring the immune responses elicited by vaccine candidates, a research specimen repository, and a data and statistical management center. As a condition for receiving funding, the newly-funded vaccine discovery consortia have agreed to use the central facilities to test vaccine candidates, share information with other investigators, and compare results using standardized benchmarks....In addition, the grantees are developing global access plans to help ensure that their discoveries will be accessible and affordable for developing countries, where the vast majority of new HIV infections occur.

Also see Marilyn Chase, Gates Won't Fund AIDS Researchers Unless They Pool Data, Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:

Frustrated that over two decades of research have failed to produce an AIDS vaccine, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates is tying his foundation's latest, biggest AIDS-vaccine grants to a radical concept: Those who get the money must first agree to share the results of their work in short order....

So far, attempts to come up with a vaccine that produces protective antibodies to block infection by the wily and shape-shifting AIDS virus have been a "miserable failure," says Nick Hellmann, interim director of HIV projects at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Now, Mr. Gates's family foundation is putting $287 million new, five-year grants behind the notion that pooling results can surmount the massive technical hurdles that have hindered individual, sometimes-competing efforts....Through such data sharing, Dr. Hellmann says, rival teams can build on successes, avoid pitfalls and eliminate redundancy. Even so, he says that a vaccine is "at least 10 years away."...

Grant recipients and outside observers were unsure whether data-sharing requirements of the grants could pose potential legal or patent conflicts with Mr. Gates's vow to respect intellectual property. Foundation officials said this week researchers would still be free to commercialize their discoveries, but they must develop access plans for people in the developing world. The foundation declined to make its attorney available to address these concerns....

Enforced data sharing, Dr. [Steve] Self predicted, "increases the pace of discovery enormously rather than waiting for the process of writing formal journal articles, waiting for them to be published, and [confirmed] by other labs."...

Comment. Kudos to the Gates Foundation. This is a big step forward, recognizing the truth that OA accelerates research and applying the principle that the more knowledge matters, the more OA to that knowledge matters. I have some questions about the program, but I expect that answers will emerge shortly. It's pretty clear that the Gates Foundation will host its own OA repository and require grantees to deposit their data in it. It appears that the requirement will apply only to data, not to articles published in peer-reviewed journals. I'd welcome clarification on that. I can't tell what steps the foundation will take, if any, to insure data interoperability. I can't tell whether the free online access will be universal, limited to developing countries, or some of each for different kinds of information. I'll blog more as I learn more.

Alma Swan elected to Euroscience governing board

Alma Swan has been elected to the Governing Board of Euroscience (the European Association for the Promotion of Science & Technology). Her election was announced at the Euroscience Open Forum 2006, which concluded in Munich yesterday. (BTW, the meeting had a important session on OA.) Alma is a biologist-turned-consultant on scholarly communication with a commitment to the advance of science and its communication. Her studies of open access for Key Perspectives are among the most important empirical studies of OA to date. Alma is also a member of Euroscience Working Group on Science Publishing (convened by Hélène Bosc). Congratulations, Alma!

OA outside the US and UK

Heather Morrison, A non-US non-UK perspective on OA (Open Access), in Heather Morrison (ed.), Proceedings Charleston Conference, 2004. Self-archived July 20, 2006.
Abstract: Open access is being talked about, and implemented, around the globe, by everyone from the U.N. to individual authors, editors, and publishers, and collaborative groups. As of October 2004, requests for a government mandate for OA had gone forward not only in the U.S. and the U.K., but also Croatia. The Scielo (Scientific Electronic Online) collections of Latin America are very substantial, fully open access journal collections. In the developing world, OA is seen not only as the best means to access the research results of others, but as an opportunity to contribute their own scholarly research findings. Outside the U.S. and the U.K., profits from scientific publishing are not common, and subsidies are not unusual. The author predicts that the present slow but steady growth in institutional repositories will be replaced in the near future by dramatic growth.

Toronto workshop on OA journals

Peter Stogios and Karla Badger, As of yet, not all doors are Open Access, Hypothesis, May 2006. A report on the University of Toronto's Workshop on Open Access Journals (March 9, 2006). Excerpt:

Is Open Access (OA) a reality? Do successful models of OA journals exist? What are the potential benefits and repercussions of a move toward OA journal establishment? Invited speakers sought to answer these questions in an event hosted by the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) at the University of Toronto in early March....

Leslie Chan, Director of New Media Studies at the U of T Scarborough campus, and Associate Director of Bioline International, provided a short course on open access....Chan outlined some of the potential benefits of Open Access: [1] Expanded research programs and manuscript publication by researchers in developing countries with access to a current knowledge base. [2] Strengthened institutional profiles or prestige resulting from the development of OA institutional repositories. [3] Increased exchange of material between disciplines. [4] Improved policy development, news reporting, and teaching with up-to-date public access to research results....

The development of Canadian OA journals was highlighted in this event. Gunther Eysenbach, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, introduced the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR)....David Moorman, Senior Policy Advisor for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) described the complexity of grant evaluation for OA journals....The day ended with a lecture from Richard Wellen, Associate Professor of Business and Society at York University...[who] suggested a potential loss of editorial vision, credibility, and effective indexing in an entirely OA system.

More on the UK debate over OA to publicly-funded data

Michael Cross, Public data drives public debate, The Guardian, July 20, 2006. Excerpt:

Four months after Guardian Technology launched the Free Our Data campaign, a meeting in London on a sweltering Monday evening firmly settled at least one question: are people really interested in public-sector information policy? The fact that at least 130 interested people packed the lecture theatre at the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts suggests that the answer is yes....

Since March, Guardian Technology has campaigned for the government to stop charging individuals, businesses and other public bodies to access and re-use non-personal information collected by government organisations. We argue that free access to data would benefit democracy and public accountability, and that the immediate - but comparatively small - loss in revenue to government organisations that sell that data (often to each other) would be more than made up by taxes generated by private-sector companies and people working in a newly stimulated knowledge economy.

At the debate, Paul Crake, programme director of the RSA, and Charles Arthur, editor of Guardian Technology, made this case to open proceedings. Professor David Vaver, director of Oxford University's Intellectual Property Research Centre, put the argument into a historical context - of a long tradition of government attempts to control the printed word, both for censorship and to guarantee authenticity (even of books like the Bible, initially) stretching back to the first printing press in England. The Crown's assumed retention of copyright contrasts with the US government's tradition, which assumes free public access. One consequence, Vaver said, is a potential conflict of interest: when government owns copyright, it has an asset it will always be tempted to turn into money, and that temptation may clash with a policy of free access....

Some participants had good news for our campaign. When the Office for National Statistics made data freely available through a "click use" licence, usage mushroomed, said Keith Dunmore. Natalie Ceeney, the chief executive of the National Archives, said that making census data available at the cost of reproduction had created a huge genealogy market.

If there was a consensus in the hall, it was that the Free Our Data campaign will not be easily won. Even modest suggestions generated vigorous repartee....

PS: An mp3 audio recording of the debate is now online and a transcript will be available soon.

Arun's presentation at Berlin 4

Subiah Arunachalam, Open access - current developments in India, in Proceedings Berlin 4 Open Access: From Promise to Practice, Max-Planck-Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) Potsdam-Golm, 2006. Self-archived July 19, 2006.
This is the text of an invited presentation (9 pages long) given at the Berlin 4 Open Access Conference, March 29th-March 31st, 2006, Albert Einstein Institute, Potsdam (near Berlin). Abstract: India, the second most populous nation in the world, is emerging as an important player in the world economy and geopolitics. In the nearly six decades since Independence, India has made considerable progress. A number of leading corporations, especially in the areas of automobiles, information technology and chemicals, have set up shop in India for manufacturing, business process outsourcing and R&D. Advanced countries look at India as a huge market to be tapped and a reservoir of English-speaking workforce that can be hired at a fraction of the cost they pay as wages in their home countries. About a million people work in software industry alone. And now India is increasingly looked up to for outsourcing R&D. In the past few months, many heads of states and governments – including President Bush - came calling and President Bush even spoke about the rather sensitive subject of cooperation in nuclear energy. Both the Vice chancellor of Oxford in the UK, the Rt Hon Chris Patten and the President of Harvard University Lawrence Summers in the US visited India recently and are keen to set up centres of excellence devoted to Indian studies. Indeed Harvard is planning to institute a dozen chairs in the new centre. Despite a long history of science, scholarship and philosophical inquiry dating back to millennia before the emergence of modern European civilization, India is struggling to keep pace with the West in science and technology. Although there are about 300 universities, and about the same number of government funded research laboratories under agencies such as the Departments of Atomic Energy and Space and the 1 Ministries of Defence, Agriculture, Science & Technology, and Ocean Development, India’s research output in science and technology, as seen from the Web of Science, is barely 2.5% of the world’s journal literature. What is more, in none of the subjects Indian papers on the whole are cited as often as the world average. It will not be wrong to conclude that India is contributing to growth of knowledge in the sciences sub-optimally. There is a crying need for strengthening higher education (and, indeed, education at all levels) and promoting excellence and innovation in research. India is investing millions of dollars to set up three institutions of excellence in science on the lines of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and six world class medical colleges and hospitals of the quality of the All India Institute of Medical sciences in underserved regions.

Milestone for Jorum

JISC has announced that 200 institutions now use Jorum, its OA repository for teaching and learning materials.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

OA momentum

R. Prasad, Open access to research papers gets a boost, The Hindu, July 20, 2006. Excerpt:
Of what use are papers if they get locked up and are not widely and freely available? More so, if the research has been funded by the government. Despair not. A paradigm shift is happening in the way research findings that get published in any journal — subscription based or otherwise, become available. A bill tabled in the United States Senate — Federal research Public Access Act of 2006 — when passed, will enable federally funded research work that gets published in subscription journals to become freely and widely available to anybody....

The U.S. is not the only country to take this view. The case for making free access to results of government-funded research published in journals, is gaining momentum in other countries and by many funding agencies. In April this year, the European Union Commission urged funding agencies to guarantee open access to results carried out using the Commission's funds. In the U.K., the Executive Group of Research Councils UK (RCUK) issued a draft position statement last month on making research work funded by them freely accessible on the Internet....

Providing free access to papers has been the basis around which 'open access' journals such as the PloS Biology and PLoS Medicine were started in 2003....In an announcement last month, PloS stated that the author's fee has been hiked from $1,500 to 2,500 in the case of PLoS Biology, PLoS Medicine and PLoS Clinical Trials. A news item in Nature published online on June 22...stressed with glee that PLoS lost almost $1 million last year and that its total income from fees and advertising covered just 35 per cent of the total cost....While many agencies are already ear-marking funds for the 'author pays' concept, the new thrust by governments and funding agencies will mean that more and more authors will stand to gain from the funding agencies' largesse....

The Royal Society, which till recently was one of the most vociferous critics of making published papers freely available, has already demonstrated its willingness to adapt itself....If implemented well, it will turn out to be a win-win situation for all.

European University Association taking steps toward OA

The European University Association (EUA) has created an Ad Hoc Working Group on Open Access. (Thanks to Eloy Rodrigues.) From the EAU announcement (July 10, 2006):
In response to the growing interest in the issue of Open Access to Research Publications, a meeting was held 29 June to bring together EUA Council Members who had expressed a strong interest in the subject to discuss future actions. The meeting aimed to review the involvement of National Rectors’ Conferences in current developments on the issue and to consider what complementary role and actions EUA could take at European level to ensure universities’ interests are represented in the ongoing debate. Additionally, the authors (Françoise Vandooren and Mathias Dewatripont, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium) of the recent report “Study on the economic and technical evolution of the scientific publication markets in Europe”, undertaken for the European Commission Directorate General for Research, were invited to present their findings and recommendations to the meeting.

A strong consensus emerged at the meeting that European universities have a clear vested interest in becoming actively engaged in the debate as a stakeholder, not least because of the public funding implications of the markedly rising costs of scientific journals for university libraries, and the potential prospects and opportunities that ICT and digital publishing developments provide for open access. It was felt that EUA should respond to the increasing prominence of this issue – emphasised by key conferences to be organised by the European Commission and the German EU Presidency in 2007 - by undertaking awareness-raising initiatives and developing policy positions at European level. The overall recommendation of the meeting was that EUA should establish an “Ad Hoc Working Group on Open Access” (chaired by Sybolt Noorda, VSNU, The Netherlands) comprised of experts in the field nominated by the National Rectors’ Conferences. The Working Group membership and work programme will be presented at the next Council meeting in October 2006.

PS: The group doesn't seem to have a web site yet. But when it does, I'll blog it.

Beyond access to effective sharing

Diane H. Sonnenwald, Challenges in sharing information effectively: examples from command and control, Information Research, July 2006. Abstract:
Introduction. The goal of information sharing is to change a person's image of the world and to develop a shared working understanding. It is an essential component of collaboration. This paper examines barriers to sharing information effectively in dynamic group work situations.
Method. Three types of battlefield training simulations were observed and open-ended interviews with military personnel were conducted.
Analysis. Observation notes and interview transcripts were analysed to identify incidents when group members erroneously believed they had shared information effectively and were collaborating successfully, i.e., a deceptively false shared understanding had emerged. These incidents were analysed to discover what led to these unsuspected breakdowns in information sharing.
Results. Unsuspected breakdowns in information sharing emerged when: differences in implementations of shared symbols were not recognized; implications of relevant information were not shared; differences in the role and expression of emotions when sharing information was not understood; and, the need to re-establish trust was not recognized.
Conclusion. The challenges in information sharing identified here may extend to other high stress, unique and complex situations, such as natural disasters. Recommendations for more effective information behaviour techniques in dynamic group work situations are presented.

PS: I like the way Sonnenwald shows that effective sharing is more complicated and difficult than access. An implicit premise, however, is that access is a necessary condition of effective sharing.

Editorial in a new OA journal

Stephan Arndt, Open access and article processing charges, Substance Abuse, Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, July 17, 2006. An editorial in the inaugural issue of a new OA journal from BMC. Excerpt:
Substance Abuse, Treatment, Prevention, and Policy uses a medium that provides the broadest possible worldwide readership. Articles can be freely read by anyone in the world without charge. Since the articles published here will hopefully help inform policy this is exactly the right target.

The traditional strategy for disseminating work has been to publish in paper journals that charge the readers directly or through society memberships. Typically, academicians subscribe to a few journals within their own specialized area. Articles within those journals are often aimed to a narrow audience and consequently, the articles are not widely read outside the particular field. Open access is an alternative.

Material in open access journals is equally available to anyone, anywhere free of charge at the time of publication. This fact alone is a huge advantage for this journal and for the authors. Since we aim to affect policy, the work here absolutely has to cross over and breakdown boundaries. Readers have access to this journal regardless of the financial resources of their region, libraries, or universities. Furthermore, common web searches such as through Google or Yahoo will point to relevant and freely accessible papers within the journal.

There are other advantages....

More on OA to publicly-funded data in the UK

RSA debate considers access to geographic information, a press release from the UK Ordnance Survey, July 19, 2006. The RSA is the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce --not the same as the Royal Society, which publishes scholarly journals. Excerpt:
Ordnance Survey was represented at a high-profile public debate on public sector information this week. Director General and Chief Executive Vanessa Lawrence was a panel member at the RSA lecture, Free our data: should public sector information be available to all for the cost of reproduction?

The event, held in London in association with The Guardian newspaper, attracted a 200-strong audience from government, academia, business and the voluntary sector....As well as geographic information, the debate considered the costs and accessibility of meteorological, hydrographic, census and local authority data.

Other panel members were Charles Arthur, Technology Editor of The Guardian, Paul Crake, RSA Programme Director, Carol Tullo, Director of the Office of Public Sector Information, and David Vaver, Director of the Oxford Intellectual Property Research Centre. The event was chaired by Derek Wyatt MP, Chairman of the All-Party Internet Group. The debate was audio-streamed live on the RSA website - - and is available to download free of charge in mp3 format. A written transcript is also due to be posted on the site.

Public libraries don't provide access to many scholarly journals

A testimonial from the anonymous author of the Toronto Food Blog:

Praise open access journals!

A little bird told me about the Anthropology of Food. It’s a bilingual webjournal devoted to the social sciences of food.

One of the things I miss most about being out of school is having access to periodicals, books and all kinds of sources that the general public doesn’t. As much as I love the Toronto Public Library system, the fact of the matter is that there are a certain number of academic sources that one can only have access to if they are part of an academic institution, which I find quite exclusionary and antithetical to a democratic society.

Free online access can help traditional publishers

Deloitte & Touche has published a new report, The net benefit of digital publishing. It's free for downloading for users willing to register. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.) Excerpt:
Fee or Free....Publishers should no longer think of themselves as just content publishers. Rather they must see their content as a means of supporting revenue-generating brands.

Journal churn fosters OA

Dorothea Salo, Journal Churn and Open Access, Caveat Lector, July 18, 2006. Excerpt:

OA News [has] posted details about a blowup at the Canadian Medical Association Journal that led to a new open-access journal with a similar theme. To me, this points to another reason to expect the scales to tilt slowly but surely in favor of open access: journal churn.

Journals fail. New journals rise. Journals get bought and sold. Journals move. Journals break apart because of editorial dissension. Every time this happens, there’s another opportunity for a new (or newly-) open-access publication. It’s not even necessary that a journal go gold, though I’m certainly not against that and it does seem to be happening more frequently these days. Whenever a journal changes hands, someone reviews editorial policy, which is an opportunity for journals to go green, either by allowing self-archiving when it wasn’t previously permitted or by making self-archiving rights more explicit to authors.

The CMAJ/Open Medicine case looks on the surface like other editorial-board revolts, but I see a new wrinkle. Previous revolts (such as Donald Knuth’s from the Journal of Algorithms) took place specifically over access policies, usually too-high subscription prices. The CMAJ revolt, however, had to do with editorial freedom; open access for the new journal is a byproduct, a side benefit.

Why did that happen, and will it happen again? Worst-case, open access was the natural outflow of this specific situation only, and we should not expect other journals to follow Open Medicine’s example. Open access might simply be earning some rebel chic, in which case we can expect a few more examples like Open Medicine, but no widespread change. Or, best-case, the world has changed (or is changing) such that open access is now a natural choice for fledgling and metamorphosing journals....

[I]t seems to me a new or breakaway journal has two choices: manage itself indefinitely as a bootstrap operation, or find an ally that isn’t a society or a big publisher. Both options strike me as open-access-friendly. It’s just plain easier to bootstrap an open-access journal than a subscription one; subscription journals have to build a money-handling infrastructure that an open-access journal doesn’t. And I believe libraries, who have their own reasons for preferring open access, are the up-and-coming ally for new journals....


  1. Dorothea is right. Every occasion to rethink a journal's access policy favors OA. This would be true even if the process were random, but of course it's not random. As she points out, there are systemic incentives for new start-ups, and established journals trying to remain competitive, to consider OA. Some journals will still choose subscriptions, even high-priced subscriptions, but any percentage choosing OA will produce a net gain for OA.
  2. I mentally compare this phenomenon to the Brazil nut effect. Left undisturbed, mixed nuts in a can will not shift positions. But jiggle the can and the Brazil nuts will rise to the top. Stability protects the incumbents and flux opens windows of opportunities for new models. Flux doesn't negate the intrinsic advantages of subscriptions for publishers, but it negates some of the accidental advantages based on entrenchment, and even a small change in the balance of advantages slowly raises the position of the Brazil nuts in the mix.
  3. For more examples of editors leaving one journal to launch another in the same niche with friendlier access policies, see my list of journal declarations of independence. I plan to add the CMAJ → OM case as soon as OM actually launches.

IRs at ARL libraries

Charles W. Bailey Jr. has updated his list of institutional repositories at ARL libraries. By Charles' count, 43 of the 123 institutions (or 35%) have IRs.

More on Elsevier's hybrid or sponsored-article journals

Mark Chillingworth, Elsevier sponsors a more open-access article model, Information World Review, July 19, 2006. Excerpt:
Nuclear physics authors can opt to pay for their articles to be published in six physics journals published by Elsevier under a new Sponsored Articles scheme which the company insists is very different from open access.

Six Elsevier physics journals have adopted the Sponsored Articles programme, which allows authors to pay a fee to ensure that their article is available for free on the Elsevier online service ScienceDirect. Only articles that have already been accepted for publication will be offered the sponsored option.

Nick Fowler, director of strategy at Elsevier, is adamant that Sponsored Articles is not a form of open access or a U-turn by the company. Sir Crispin Davis, Elsevier chief executive officer, fully backs the scheme, Fowler said. “Davis is explicitly opposed to the author-pays journal model because if you are an author and you submit an article and I’m editor, who knows I’ll get paid if I accept your article.”

Elsevier is now looking to open up a debate on how the different access models are described. “We believe that Sponsored Articles is an accurate title. Open access is a confusing term that is used to describe four different models,” he said. Fowler believes that using the term OA to describe author pays, delayed open access and open archives is confusing.

The information industry has welcomed Sponsored Articles, but cynically believes it is only a response to the particle physics centre CERN adopting open access. “The timing of the announcement and the subjects they have chosen is too much of a coincidence,” said Fred Friend, JISC scholarly communications consultant. Jan Velterop, director of open access at STM rival Springer, agrees with Friend on CERN, but added: “That Elsevier is experimenting with new models is a good thing.”


  1. This article is a bit behind. Elsevier's sponsored-journal program began with six physics journals, but yesterday expanded to 34 journals in a variety of fields including biology, medicine, computer science, and mathematics.
  2. Nick Fowler and Crispin Davis are confusing OA, which is a kind of access, with certain editorial practices designed to prevent author-side fees from corrupting editorial judgment. Elsevier has a good firewall in place to insulate editorial judgment, but so do OA and OA-hybrid journals that faced this problem long before Elsevier. Elsevier is still accepting payments from authors (or author-sponsors), which is exactly what it criticized many OA journals for doing. If the Elsevier sponsored journals are not OA, it's because authors still have to transfer copyright and users still face needless permission barriers, not because Elsevier has a good editorial firewall. Elsevier's attempt to redefine OA journals as those without a good firewall is false, self-serving, and unnecessary.
  3. I have no problem with Elsevier's desire to shun the term "open access" or to use the term "sponsored articles". But "open access" is a kind of access, not a kind of business model or editorial practice. The fact that Elsevier's business model and editorial practice differ from those of some OA journals is not itself a reason to pick a new term even if there are other reasons to do so.

Elsevier expands its hybrid journal program

Elsevier has expanded its hybrid journal program to include 34 journals beyond the original six.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Reduced access to California-funded stem-cell research

Sandy Kleffman, Biotech industry no longer has to share stem-cell research, Contra Costa Times, July 14, 2006. (Thanks to Faster Cures' SmartBrief.) Excerpt:

A panel deciding what benefits California taxpayers will receive from their $3 billion investment in stem cell research agreed Friday to remove a discovery-sharing requirement that the biotech industry vigorously opposed. Biotech leaders had argued that being forced to freely share their patented inventions with California research institutions could stymie stem cell research by removing financial incentives for companies to get involved.

"We do not want to hurt this industry," agreed Jeff Sheehy, a member of the intellectual property task force of the state’s stem cell agency. "We have a policy that industry has told us will not work for them."...

[John] Simpson of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights said the policy should not have been eliminated. "I’m disappointed that they just yanked this," he said. "I think it needed to be tweaked. "This was too quick of a cave-in to biotech’s concerns."

The task force decided to retain a policy requiring that universities return to the state 25 percent of the royalties they receive in excess of $500,000 from licensing an invention....Before a company makes a product available to the public, it would have to have a plan in place to provide access for uninsured California residents. Therapies purchased with public funds would have to be provided at prices no higher than the federal Medicaid price. The stem cell agency would have "march in rights" to intervene if a company fails to follow its access policy or make its therapy available for public use. To ensure information is disseminated broadly, within 60 days of publication of research in a scientific journal, investigators must write a 500-word summary in lay person’s language to be posted on the stem cell agency’s Web site.

Introducing the Open CourseWare Consortium

Stephen Carson, OpenCourseWare Grows into a Movement, Open Educational Resources Newsletter, Summer 2006 (scroll to the fourth story).
An OpenCourseWare is a free and open digital publication of high quality teaching materials, organized as courses. The mission of the OpenCourseWare Consortium is to advance education and empower people worldwide through opencourseware.

The Goals of the Consortium: [1] Extend the reach and impact of opencourseware by encouraging the adoption and adaptation of open educational materials around the world. [2] Foster the development of additional opencourseware projects. [3] Ensure the long-term sustainability of opencourseware projects by identifying ways to improve effectiveness and reduce costs.

The OpenCourseWare (OCW) Consortium is a growing collaboration of more than 100 higher education institutions and associated organizations creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model. Consortium members include universities from China, ParisTech "Graduate School", Japan OCW Consortium, India, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Thailand and Vietnam.

We are pleased to announce the unveiling of the OCW Consortium Portal now available. The site includes a basic cross-site search functionality for member institution sites, a list of participating institutions (linked to profiles of each school if provided), and information for other institutions or organizations who may be interested in sharing their content or supporting the movement. In addition, the site includes news from around the consortium.

The Lancet pays a tribute to PLoS Medicine, sort of

Clarice Audrey, Cuttings, The Lancet, July 8, 2006 (free registration required). (Thanks to George Porter.) Excerpt:
Perhaps the most extraordinary result [among the 2005 impact factors for medical journals] is that of LoSP [sic] Medicine. They have come in at 8.4 in their first year, hot on the heels of the BMJ. Whatever one’s views about open access, the performance of oSPL [sic] Medicine is remarkable and a tribute to the seriousness of the SLoP [sic] concept.

PS: What happened to proof-reading at The Lancet?

Self-archived chapters in the Neil Jacobs anthology on OA

Most of the chapters in Neil Jacobs' anthology, Open Access: Key strategic, technical and economic aspects (Chandos Publishing 2006) have been self-archived by their authors and Steve Hitcock has done real service in collecting the URLs in one place. (Thanks, Steve!) Excerpt from his blog announcement:
Here is the chapter list:

Swan, A.
Overview of scholarly communication
ECS EPrints, 28 April 2006

Charles W. Bailey, Jr.
What Is Open Access?
Author's server, 7 Feb 2006

Jean-Claude Guédon
Open access: a symptom and a promise
Université de Montréal, forthcoming August 2006

Andrew Odlyzko
Economic costs of toll access
Author's server, 11 July 2006

Kurtz, Michael and Brody, Tim
The impact loss to authors and research
e-Prints Soton, 12 July 2006

Chris Awre
The technology of open access
E-LIS, 17 July 2006

Swan, A.
The culture of Open Access: researchers’ views and responses
ECS EPrints, 28 April 2006

Harnad, S.
Opening Access by Overcoming Zeno's Paralysis
ECS EPrints, March 19, 2006

Sale, Arthur
A researcher's viewpoint
University of Tasmania EPrints Repository, 29 January 2006

Kiley, R. and Terry, R.
Open access to the research literature: a funders perspective
E-LIS, 12 May 2006

Matthew Cockerill
Business models in open access publishing
BMC Demo Repository, 5 May 2006

Mary Waltham
Learned society business models and open access
Author's server, 2006

Steele, Colin
Open all hours? Institutional models for open access
ANU EPrints Repository, 26 April 2006

Leo Waaijers
DARE also means dare: institutional repository status in the Netherlands as of early 2006
SURF, 12 July 2006

Suber, Peter
Open Access in the United States
E-LIS, 12 July 2006

Frederick J. Friend
Towards open access to UK research
UCL Eprints, forthcoming

Shipp, John
Open Access in Australia
Sydney eScholarship Repository, 2006

Sahu, DK and Parmar, Ramesh
The position around the world: Open Access in India
OpenMed@NIC, 10 June 2006

Clifford Lynch
Open Computation: Beyond Human-Reader-Centric Views of Scholarly Literatures
Author's server, 2006

Shadbolt, N., Brody, T., Carr, L. and Harnad, S.
The Open Research Web: A Preview of the Optimal and the Inevitable
ECS EPrints, 17 April 2006

July issue of Learned Publishing

The July issue of Learned Publishing is now online. Here are the OA-related articles. Only abstracts are free online, at least so far.

PS: On my fast internet connection, the link to the TOC timed out 10 times before I finally got through. The individual article/abstract links timed out every time and I still haven't been able to get through. I've had to guess from their titles which articles are OA-related.

From CMAJ to Open Medicine

Open Medicine is the new OA journal being launched by the former editors of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. From the site:
Open Medicine is a Canadian health and clinical medicine journal dedicated to furthering integrity, independence, and open access in scholarly publishing. Through research, reviews, practice pieces, news, policy, ethics and humanities, Open Medicine serves international researchers, policy-makers, practitioners and the public in furthering an understanding of health and health care, improving clinical practice, and encouraging open discussion and dialogue on all health-related issues.

This site is currently under development. We are accepting and reviewing manuscripts through this interim site.

OM will use CC attribution licenses.

OA journal on teaching composition at open-admission universities

Open Words: Access and English Studies is a new peer-reviewed, OA journal whose inagural issue (Fall 2006) is now online. The words open and access in the title refer to open admissions, not to OA in our sense, though the journal itself is OA. It's apparently produced by the English Department at the University of Akron and sponsored (but not published) by Prentice-Hall.

Two Spanish-language blogs on OA

On Friday, Carolina De Volder launched Acceso Abierto, a Spanish-language blog on OA from Argentina. It joins Open Access: la ciencia al alcance de tu ratón, a group blog written by seven Spanish librarians launched in April --which I don't believe I noted at the time. Welcome to them both!

S. R. Ranganathan and OA

Earlier this month Michael May announced that nine major works by Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan were now OA at the dLIST repository. In a SOAF posting today, May spells out the connection between Ranganathan's writing and OA:

Anita Coleman, editor of dLIST, has suggested [one, two] that the origins of contemporary OA appear in SRR's Five Laws, originally published in India in 1931.

Likewise, Judith Turner, Editor of Journal of Electronic Publishing, recently argued at a colloquium in Bangalore that the "roots" of OA can be traced to SRR....

In 1996, Finnish scholars Timo Kuronen and Paivi Pekkarinen demonstrated between SRR's Five Laws and OA when they argued that Five Laws could be applied to virtual or digital libraries with the addition of two supplementary laws, "Every reader his library" and "Every writer his contribution to the library" (Herald of Library Science, v. 35 n. 1-2, pp. 3-17). Kuronen and Pekkarinen envisioned a "citizen-centered civil society" in which "the virtual library may make available and accessible information which contradicts with the prevailing societal order."...

Discussing OA for research on the Ancient Near East

One of Arun's [Subbiah Arunachalam's] many appeals for OA has found its way to a discussion list on the study of the Ancient Near East, where it has stimulated a thread raising all the usual newcomer-questions. Experienced friends of OA who could join the conversation and answer the questions could help OA spread to this field. (Thanks to the Stoa Consortium.)

Another portal of free online journals

LivRe is a large portal of free online journals. From the announcement posted today to The Parachute:
Nuclear Information Center (Brazil) maintains a portal to easy the identification and access to free journals available on the Internet. It is the Portal LivRe! (Free!), nowadays registering 2,525 free journals. I am announcing the implementation of a multilanguage searching interface. LivRe! now can be accessed in Portuguese, English and Spanish....

LivRe! is the portal developed by CNEN - Comissão Nacional de Energia Nuclear (Brazilian National Nuclear Energy Commission), through its CIN - Centro de Informações Nucleares (Nuclear Information Center), aiming to ease the identification and the access to free journals available on the Internet.

The Portal covers scientific journals, magazines, bulletins and newsletters....The following data are available for each title: time coverage, language, secondary sources indexing the title, if it is a peer reviewed journal, optional comments and contents description, as supplied by the publisher.

Beyond displaying journals by initial letter of its title, searches can be done by title words and by subject field.  Searches can be refined selecting only peer-reviewed journals or only journals indexed by any secondary source.

Visitation spikes and decays

Z. Dezsö and five co-authors, Dynamics of information access on the web, Physical Review E, June 30, 2006. Only the abstract of the published version is free online, but the preprint is OA at arXiv. (Thanks to the PLoS blog.)
While current studies on complex networks focus on systems that change relatively slowly in time, the structure of the most visited regions of the web is altered at the time scale from hours to days. Here we investigate the dynamics of visitation of a major news portal, representing the prototype for such a rapidly evolving network. The nodes of the network can be classified into stable nodes, which form the time-independent skeleton of the portal, and news documents. The visitations of the two node classes are markedly different, the skeleton acquiring visits at a constant rate, while a news document's visitation peaks after a few hours. We find that the visitation pattern of a news document decays as a power law, in contrast with the exponential prediction provided by simple models of site visitation. This is rooted in the inhomogeneous nature of the browsing pattern characterizing individual users: the time interval between consecutive visits by the same user to the site follows a power-law distribution, in contrast to the exponential expected for Poisson processes. We show that the exponent characterizing the individual user's browsing patterns determines the power-law decay in a document's visitation. Finally, our results document the fleeting quality of news and events: while fifteen minutes of fame is still an exaggeration in the online media, we find that access to most news items significantly decays after 36 hours of posting.

Comment. This paper studies visits to news sites, where the decay in user demand is very rapid. I'd like to see someone study the decay rates for peer-reviewed articles in different disciplines. (Publishers undoubtedly have the relevant data but I haven't see a systematic cross-disciplinary collection and comparison.) I suspect that we'd find a wide range, with faster decay rates in the sciences than the humanities. I also suspect that citation curves would track the decay curves, starting after some lag time and declining with a gentler slope. Studying the decay rates would help us predict citations and determine when, strictly by the standard of publisher revenues, embargoes are too short (opening access before the demand has spiked) or needlessly long (blocking access after the demand has spiked). Even with good data on decay rates, however, it would not follow that a funding agency setting a maximum embargo for its OA policy should give top priority to publisher revenue. But good data would help evaluate publisher objections to proposed embargo periods.

Profile of HubMed by its creator

Alfred D. Eaton, HubMed: a web-based biomedical literature search interface, Nucleic Acids Research, 34 (2006), special Web Server issue.
Abstract: HubMed is an alternative search interface to the PubMed database of biomedical literature, incorporating external web services and providing functions to improve the efficiency of literature search, browsing and retrieval. Users can create and visualize clusters of related articles, export citation data in multiple formats, receive daily updates of publications in their areas of interest, navigate links to full text and other related resources, retrieve data from formatted bibliography lists, navigate citation links and store annotated metadata for articles of interest. HubMed is freely available [here].

Monday, July 17, 2006

July First Monday

The July issue of First Monday is now online. This issue contains selected papers from FM's conference, Openness: Code, science and content (Chicago, May 15-17, 2006), all of which are OA-related. Many others from the same conference were published in the June issue.

Innovations at the U of California

The University of California is the SPARC Innovator for July 2006. From the SPARC announcement:
The University of California Office of the President (UCOP) launched the UC Office of Scholarly Communication in 2004 to support and coordinate a plethora of diverse, cutting-edge initiatives that help scholars and researchers regain control of their work, while exploring innovative means of scholarly communication. This simple organizational act represented the culmination of work conducted over a ten-year period by UC administrators, faculty, and librarians who took a focused, activist stance to change the status quo. In the late 1990s, for example, UC initiated the California Digital Library and as part of it, the eScholarship repository. Since then it has moved from strength to strength. For example, it has developed groundbreaking contracts with publishers which have helped to curtail hyperinflation in the price of online journal subscriptions; developed guidance for faculty on ways to manage intellectual property and retain copyright; developed, through the academic faculty senate, a series of white papers advocating shifts in scholarly communication; established innovative new scholarly publishing programs and forged an electronic publishing alliance between the CDL and the University of California Press; and created a Scholarly Communication Officers group comprising senior librarians at each of the 10 UC branches to harmonize local and system-wide planning and action. For its extraordinarily effective institution-wide vision and efforts to move scholarly communication forward for the benefit of its faculty, students, and the public, SPARC has named UC a SPARC Innovator....

According to John Ober, Director of Policy, Planning, and Outreach co-director – with Catherine Candee – of UC’s Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC), the [California Digital Library or CDL] “was built from a set of principles that explicitly included the need to influence the marketplace for scholarly content to become more sustainable.”...

UC’s faculty have taken an even stronger position with regard to copyright management. In 2006, the Faculty Senate endorsed a proposal recommending to the President that the University’s copyright policy be amended to enable open access to UC research....

New draft of US government report recommends open content initiatives

The U.S. Commission on the Future of Higher Education has released the second draft (July 14) of its report and recommendations on US higher education. The first draft came out on June 22.

Neither draft says anything about open access to research literature, though the second draft contains an endorsement of open courseware (p. 16) missing from the first:

The Commission encourages the creation of incentives to catalyze the development of open-source and open-content projects at universities and colleges across the United States, enabling the open sharing of educational materials from a variety of institutions, disciplines, and educational perspectives. Such a portal could stimulate innovation, and serve as the leading resource for teaching and learning. New paradigms manifested in initiatives such as OpenCourseWare, the Open Knowledge Initiative, the Sakai Project, and the Google Book project hold out the potential of providing universal access to both knowledge and higher education.

Note that even the second draft is for "for discussion purposes only" and is not final.

Update. The third draft came out on August 3, 2006, and doesn't mention OA either. The open-source/open-content recommendation above survives unchanged.

More on the RCUK policy

Michael Kenward, Debate widens on open access, Science Business, July 17, 2006. A short note on the new RCUK policy.

Two Irish universities collaborate on IRs

Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork have announced that they will collaborate on a range of research projects including institutional repositories. It's not clear whether they will build a consortial repository or simply swap tips and tools for separate repositories.

Should professional discussions be OA?

Kelly Sears Smith, Behind Closed Doors: Should Professional Lists Give Public Access? Dream Tree, July 16, 2006. Excerpt:
A professional online discussion forum of which I'm a longtime member is in the midst of a serious conversation about whether or not the membership accepts being indexed by a service that will make our posts googlable. For one, the service that indexed our listserv did not request permission, which is a clear breach of courtesy. For another, some list members have confessed they are rather freer on the list, given that people must join to participate and read, than they might be elsewhere on the web. Those who are concerned about unwanted internet exposure have expressed a variety of reasons for this concern, including [1] cyberstalkers, [2] unwanted exposure of their views to employers, colleagues, students, personal acquaintances, [3] use of sig file and other info for spamming, [4] possible exposure to government surveillance.

Of course, some other list members have said they feel comfortable with the list's being indexed, not fearing the reaper in any of its forms. A few, especially the professional writers among us, welcome the attention by anyone interested in their writing or ideas.

A compelling argument made by one or two was that professional / expert conversation was a public service, and so we ought to give open access to our remarks. Yet others questioned whether we shouldn't get paid for our expertise, as consultants, rather than giving it away (I think that generally goes against scholarly culture, at least the one in which I was formed). Personally, I'm eager to give away what I know, if it will help anyone. Like many academics, I'm only too glad to be asked....

More on OA in law

Michael J. Madison, The Idea of the Law Review: Scholarship, Prestige, and Open Access, a preprint forthcoming from the Lewis & Clark Law Review. (Thanks to Michel-Adrien Sheppard.)
Abstract: This Essay was written as part of a Symposium on open access publishing for legal scholarship. It makes the claim that open access publishing models will succeed, or not, to the extent that they account for the existing "economy of prestige" that drives law reviews and legal scholarship. What may seem like a lot of uncharitable commentary is intended instead as an expression of guarded optimism: Imaginative reuse of some existing tools of scholarly publishing (even by some marginalized members of the prestige economy – or perhaps especially by them) may facilitate the emergence of a viable open access norm.

More on Microsoft's book scanning

Tracey Caldwell, Microsoft hands copyright control over to publishers, Information World Review, July 17, 2006. Excerpt:
Microsoft has moved further into searching copyright material with its Windows Live Books Publisher Program. Launched in May, the program will be expanded within the coming weeks to accept submissions in digital form, in addition to the print material currently being processed. This follows Microsoft’s recent move into searching copyrighted content within journals with the Windows Live Academic Search service.

Microsoft has worked hard to avoid the barrage of criticism Google faced when it launched the Google Books Library project to digitise copyright material. Microsoft’s Clifford Guren, director of partner evangelism, Windows Live Books, said: “To be clear, we are only scanning and indexing in-copyright books with the expressed permission of the rights holder.”...

Book publishers have responded positively to Microsoft’s latest initiative. [Elsevier will participate.]...Gwenyth Jones, vice president of publishing information systems and technologies at John Wiley & Sons, also expressed interest in working on Books Publisher: “Search engines can provide an important service to end users.”

More on OA to ETDs

Sharon Reeves, John Hagen, and Christine Jewell, Unlocking Scholarly Access: ETDs, Institutional Repositories and Creators: Highlights of ETD 2006, the 9th International Symposium on Electronic Theses and Dissertations, a preprint forthcoming in Library Hi Tech News, August 2006. Excerpt:
The conference was organized around four tracks: open access, open source, intellectual property and institutional repositories....

All four keynote presentations were absolutely stellar. Peter Suber’s opening keynote address on open access and Jean-Claude Guédon’s closing plenary address on ETDs and institutional repositories in an open access environment really tied the whole conference together. To set the stage, in his opening address Peter Suber (Earlham College)...made a strong case that ETDs are one of the genres most suited to open access, noting that theses and dissertations undergo rigorous review and might even be the most useful resources for a researcher, yet ironically dissertations can be the least accessible. He went on to advocate that universities mandate open access for ETDs and to suggest solutions for issues identified by various stakeholders.

In the parallel session on Open Access that took place later the same day, a team from the University of Waterloo described its university’s recent decision to require students to submit ETDs. Waterloo implemented the first ETD submission program in Canada in 1999. Over the past seven years faculty have become more comfortable with the idea of electronic publishing as scholarly information in electronic format has become ubiquitous and at the same time students have become increasingly enthusiastic about ETDs. The presenters identified key factors in the preparation for required electronic submission as communication with all stakeholders and promotion of the benefits of open access, along with adequate instructional and software support. The University of Waterloo is the first Canadian university to mandate electronic submission of theses and dissertations....

In a thoughtful and amusing closing keynote address Jean-Claude Guédon (Université de Montréal) neatly tied together the conference themes of open access, ETDs and institutional repositories (IR). He talked about examples of the open access movement, such as open access journals, ETDs and self-archiving in institutional repositories. Guédon went on to point out that faculty at many institutions have the option to deposit their work in an IR but are resistant to do so because they don’t recognize the benefits. Some feel that their work does not receive a high enough profile in a mixed content institutional repository. Guédon recommended putting all peer reviewed papers and articles in one section of the repository and ETDs in another. He suggested that ETDs could be a test bed for faculty submissions, i.e. if ETDs are better used and cited than faculty research then faculty will realize the impact and value of institutional repositories and make contributions....

Profile of MediaCommons

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Introducing MediaCommons, if:book, July 17, 2006. Excerpt:
I've got the somewhat daunting pleasure of introducing the readers of if:book to one of the Institute's projects-in-progress, MediaCommons.

As has been mentioned several times here, the Institute for the Future of the Book has spent much of 2006 exploring the future of electronic scholarly publishing and its many implications, including the development of alternate modes of peer-review and the possibilities for networked interaction amongst authors and texts. Over the course of the spring, we brainstormed, wrote a bunch of manifestos, and planned a meeting at which a group of primarily humanities-based scholars discussed the possibilities for a new model of academic publishing. Since that meeting, we've been working on a draft proposal for what we're now thinking of as a wide-ranging scholarly network -- an ecosystem, if you can bear that metaphor -- in which folks working in media studies can write, publish, review, and discuss, in forms ranging from the blog to the monograph, from the purely textual to the multi-mediated, with all manner of degrees inbetween....

Our shift from thinking about an "electronic press" to thinking about a "scholarly network" came about gradually; the more we thought about the purposes behind electronic scholarly publishing, the more we became focused on the need not simply to provide better access to discrete scholarly texts but rather to reinvigorate intellectual discourse, and thus connections, amongst peers (and, not incidentally, discourse between the academy and the wider intellectual public)....

"Long term open access to electronic PhD theses" in the UK

Theses unbound: consultation on a national e-theses service for the UK, an announcement from JISC, July 17, 2006:
The UK currently lacks a coherent national service to support access to, and preservation of, electronic PhD theses. At present, PhD theses are discovered by potential users in a variety of more or less ad hoc ways, and delivered to those users largely by physical document delivery. It is widely recognised that PhD theses are an under-exploited research resource, and that when they are made available electronically, their use increases substantially.

JISC has funded an 18 month project, EThOS, whose aim is to deliver a fully operational, easily scaleable and financially viable prototype UK online electronic PhD theses service, and supporting infrastructure. JISC wishes to consult relevant stakeholders in the higher education community about their views on a range of issues relating to e-theses, and on the extent to which the EThOS model is a suitable basis for a sustainable, national service designed to ensure long term open access to electronic PhD theses.

Further information on the proposed model and a link to the survey can be found at: Consultation.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Correlation between traditional and URL citations

Kayvan Kousha and Mike Thelwall, Google Scholar Citations and Google Web/URL Citations: A Multi-Discipline Exploratory Analysis, in Proceedings International Workshop on Webometrics, Informetrics and Scientometrics & Seventh COLLNET Meeting, Nancy (France), 2006. A Web/URL citation is a reference that spells out an article's URL.
Abstract: In this paper we introduce a new data gathering method “Web/URL Citation” and use it and Google Scholar as a basis to compare traditional and Web-based citation patterns across multiple disciplines. For this, we built a sample of 1,650 articles from 108 Open Access (OA) journals published in 2001 in four science and four social science disciplines. We recorded the number of citations to the sample articles using several methods based upon the ISI Web of Science, Google Scholar and the Google search engine (Web/URL citations). For each discipline, we found significant correlations between ISI citations and both Google Scholar and Google Web/URL citations; with similar results when using total or average citations, and when comparing within and across (most) journals. We also investigated disciplinary differences. Google Scholar citations were more numerous than ISI citations in our four social science disciplines as well as in computer science, suggesting that Google Scholar is a more comprehensive tool for citation tracking in the social sciences and perhaps also in fast-moving fields where conference papers are highly valued and published online. The results for Web/URL citations suggested that counting a maximum of one hit per site produces a better measure for assessing the impact of OA journals or articles, because replicated web citations are very common within individual sites. The results can be considered as additional evidence that there is some commonality between traditional and Web-extracted citations.

OA to data from the Spitzer space telescope

Joe Chavez, Spitzer science archive interface, International Society for Optical Engineering, June 30, 2006.
Abstract: The Spitzer Science Center (SSC) provides a set of user tools to support search and retrieval of Spitzer Science Archive (SSA) data via the Internet. This paper will present the system architecture and design principles that support the Archive Interface subsystem of the SSA. The Archive Interface is an extension of the core components of the Uplink subsystem and provides a set Web services to allow open access to the SSA data set. Web services technology provides a basis for searching the archive and retrieving data products. The Archive Interface provides three modes of access: a rich client, Web browser and scripts (via Web services). The rich client allows the user to perform complex queries and submit requests for data that is asynchronously downloaded to the local workstation. Asynchronous download is a critical feature given the large volume of a typical data set (on the order of 40 Gigabytes). For basic queries and retrieval of data the Web browser interface is provided. For advanced users scripting languages with Web services capabilities (i.e. Perl) can used to query and download data from the SSA. The archive interface subsystem is the primary means for searching and retrieving data from the SSA and is critical to the success of the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Bepress eyes the Middle East

Bepress is now actively marketing its OA repository service and OA databases in the Middle East.