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I just mailed the September issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue takes a close look at the four hybrid OA journal programs launched in August (from BMJ, Wiley, Cambridge, and APS) and how the mid-term elections in the US could affect federal OA policies. The Top Stories section takes a brief look at three institutions that have adopted OA mandates, the growing provost support for FRPAA, the launch of Open Access Central and Chemistry Central, the CERN plan to convert particle physics journals to OA, progress in providing OA to avian flu data, and the Google Library project's new partnership with the University of California and new willingness to let users print and download public-domain books.
Peter Murray-Rust, Is Openness “ethically flawed”? PeterMR's blog, September 2, 2006. Excerpt:
PS: Peter Murray-Rust is a leader in the open data movement and moderator of the SPARC Open Data discussion list. I'm glad to welcome him to the blogosphere.
On Thursday I noted that the wiki of the Information Commons Interest Group of the Canadian Library Association had created a page on Open Access Advocates in Canada. The focus on Canada made sense to me, but I suggested that if the wiki added pages on other countries, then the set would form of a very useful networking tool and OA speakers bureau. I'm happy to report that my wish is coming true.
See the new page on Open Access Advocates Worldwide.
For now, it seems that all the pages except the one on Canada are stubs and only registered users can edit them. But monitor the site and make sure that you're listed.
When your conference or workshop needs a speaker, or when you're traveling to another country, browse the list. When your country is considering a national OA policy, make sure the local activists know about it and coordinate to shore up support.
Peter Jacsó, Open access to scholarly indexing/abstracting information, Online Information Review, 30, 4 (2006) pp. 461-468. Only an abstract is free for non-subscribers, at least so far. Excerpt:
The September issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine is now online. Here are the OA-related articles. For the first and third, not even abstracts are free online, at least so far.
Stevan Harnad, Perelman and Peerlessness, Open Access Archivangelism, September 1, 2006. Excerpt:
Heather Morrison, Andrew Waller, and Kumiko Vézina, Open Access: Policy, Academic, and University Perspectives, a presentation at the Canadian Library Association Conference (Ottawa, June 14-17, 2006).
Abstract: The landscape of scholarly communications is transforming into an Open Access environment. Policies are being set by national funding agencies and universities, among others. This session will present an overview of major policy issues, the academic (teaching faculty) perspective on open access publishing and self-archiving and what it all means in the real-world university (library) environment.
Rio Framework for Open Science, iCommons, September 1, 2006. Excerpt:
Mike Shanahan, Free 'wiki' textbooks planned for developing nations, SciDev.Net, September 1, 2006. Excerpt:
A US-based initiative plans to make new textbooks available for free on the Internet for university students in developing nations.
Melissa Hagemann and Teresa Hackett have written a report on the OSISA/eIFL Open Access Workshop for Southern Africa (Pretoria, August 21-22, 2006). Excerpt:
Speakers from Botswana, Canada, Egypt, Scotland, South Africa and the US were joined by over forty participants from nine southern African countries to discuss practical ways in which open access projects and policies can be implemented in the region.
Jocelyn Kaiser, Particle Physicists Want to Expand Open Access, Science Magazine, September 1, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
Particle physicists have come up with a novel way to promote free, immediate access to journal articles. Led by CERN, the giant lab near Geneva, Switzerland, they want to raise at least $6 million a year to begin buying open access to all published papers in their field....
Stevan Harnad, Self-Archive Now: No Need to Negotiate Rights, Open Access Archivangelism, September 1, 2006. Excerpt:
T. Scott Plutchak, Debating FRPAA, T. Scott, August 31, 2006. Excerpt:
There's been some chatter among my colleagues in the past week about a letter opposing FRPAA that is being circulated among the senior leadership of some of the research institutions in search of signatories. This is clearly in response to the supporting letters signed by provosts from around the country urging passage of the act. (The DC Principles coalition is behind the letter...).
Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Digital University/Library Presses, Part 8: Monash University ePress, DigitalKoans, August 31, 2006. Excerpt:
Two more provosts have added their signatures to the SPARC list of U.S. university presidents and provosts endorsing open access to publicly-funded research and the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (FRPAA).
Doug Lederman, Changing the Report, After the Vote, Inside Higher Ed, September 1, 2006. Excerpt:
The infighting is fascinating (read the full article), but in the end the commission agreed on this compromise language:
Comment. When I blogged the commission's report back in July, the paragraph on open source and open content was the only section I found worth excerpting.
Andrew I. Dayton, Beyond Open Access: Open Discourse, the next great equalizer, Retrovirology, August 30, 2006.
Abstract (provisional): The internet is expanding the realm of scientific publishing to include free and open public debate of published papers. Journals are beginning to support web posting of comments on their published articles and independent organizations are providing centralized web sites for posting comments about any published article. The trend promises to give one and all access to read and contribute to cutting edge scientific criticism and debate.
From the body of the paper:
If you are reading this you are benefiting from the Open Access movement in scientific publishing. Open Access reduces the great divide between the haves and havenots of the scientific world, allowing anyone, anywhere on the planet with internet access to read with full text and graphics the latest scientific reports, unfettered by prohibitive subscription fees or lack of affiliation with a major institution to pay for them. That the process directly delivers to the public a product paid for by their taxes can only be considered a just and additional benefit. But access to cutting edge knowledge is not the only divide between the haves and the have-nots. Even Open Access leaves a vast inequality in scientific discourse. If you can’t afford to attend the latest scientific meetings (say, for instance, you work for the US government) or are not a member of a prestigious institution, you can be frozen out of cutting edge scientific discussions. You can neither query the major players nor contribute to the debates, unless your prestige or the media value of the subject matter is such to garner you a published letter to the editor. You can’t even witness the debates until they are published in review articles, by which time they are mostly over....
Dominique Babini and Jorge Fraga (eds.), Edición electrónica, bibliotecas virtuales y portales para las ciencias sociales en América Latina y El Caribe, Buenos Aires: CLACSO, August 2006. A book of essays on electronic publishing, digital libraries, and social science portals in Latin America and the Caribbean. The book exists in both a priced, printed edition and an OA edition. Most of the articles have implications for OA, but these are directly about OA:
The wiki of the Information Commons Interest Group of the Canadian Library Association has created a page on Open Access Advocates in Canada.
Comment. Great idea. Given the Canadian interests of the host, I understand why there aren't (yet?) pages on other countries. But if there were, this would be start of a very useful networking tool and OA speakers bureau.
BTW, I'd add the following Canadians: Michael Geist, Russell McOrmond, G.W. Brian Owen, and Sharon Reeves.
Jeffrey Young, U. of Michigan Adds Books Digitized by Google to Online Catalog, but Limits Use of Some, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 31, 2006. Excerpt:
Hernán A. Burbano, Funders should allow for cost of publication, Nature, August 30, 2006. A letter to the editor. Excerpt:
Open access to the literature allows scientists in the developing world to read original research papers for free, which contributes to scientific advancement. Nonetheless, in these same countries, funds are not sufficient to pay the publishing charges made by some publications, including 'open access' journals. For this reason, many journals waive fees for scientists from developing countries who submit to them.
Comment. I agree and have said so whenever it comes up, even if that means criticizing otherwise excellent policies like FRPAA. However, I'd also point out that the majority of OA journals charge no author-side fees at all.
Bobby Pickering, A soap opera storyline ends, Information World Review, August 30, 2006. Pickering is leaving IWR and reflects on some of the big issues he's covered in his three years there as editor. Excerpt:
The open access movement made an impact, but not as much as I expected. It will undoubtedly continue to be corrosive, as the rivals parry and thrust over the big pot of gold to be made from publicly funded research. Government committees have become involved and hearings have been held, in the US, UK and Europe - all very exciting stuff!
Comment. Just to clarify: There's a huge pot of money spent on scholarly journals every year (I've seen estimates in the $12 billion range). But those working for OA to publicly-funded research and, if successful, those hosting it, will not make any money from it. There's money to be made from some kinds of OA journals (BMC and Hindawi are for-profit publishers and Hindawi is already profitable), but all national policies aimed at OA for publicly-funded research focus on OA repositories, not OA journals.
The first Secretary-General of the new European Research Council (ERC) will be Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, the current President of Germany's Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). For more details, see Gretchen Vogel's story in yesterday's issue of Science.
Wendy M. Grossman, Galileo satellite's secure codes cracked, The Guardian, August 31, 2006. Excerpt:
Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Digital University/Library Presses, Part 7: HighWire Press, DigitalKoans, August 30, 2006. Excerpt:
Declan Butler, More on flu data access scheme, Declan Butler's blog, August 30, 2006. Excerpt:
Nature has an Editorial in this week’s edition — ‘Boosting access to disease data’ — on the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID) — see previous post. It also has a short news story — ‘Plan to pool bird-flu data takes off.’ [PS: Both are accessible only to subscribers.]
Three more provosts have added their signatures to the SPARC list of U.S. university presidents and provosts endorsing open access to publicly-funded research and the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (FRPAA).
The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) is providing free online access to its three journals for SCB members in developing countries. The access is subsidized by a grant from The Nature Conservancy. For details see the August 24 press release.
PS: If full OA is out of reach, then why not free to all researchers in developing countries?
OhioLINK is recommending that Ohio scholars retain the rights they need for self-archiving and then that they actually self-archive. From its important statement of recommendations (approved in May, released yesterday):
The NIH is creating a database for human genetic data that will combine strong privacy protection for research subjects, open access for researchers, and incentives for researchers to deposit their data even before publishing on it. For more details, see yesterday's call for public comments or today's article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Sam Kean (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt from the Chronicle article:
The genetic information would be available on two levels. "Basic descriptive information" about each genome-wide association study would be available to the public, but the health and genetic data and some pre-analysis would be accessible only to researchers cleared by the NIH Data Access Committee. The NIH would also set up mechanisms to ensure that scientists who deposit results into the database before publication receive credit for their findings. Once results have been posted, any scientist could view them; but for a certain "grace period," only those who submitted the data could publish papers about it.
The University of California Libraries have released a new version of their Principles for Acquiring and Licensing Information in Digital Formats (dated July 2006 but apparently not released until yesterday). Excerpt:
Marian Dworaczek has updated his Subject Index to Literature on Electronic Sources of Information.
Oxford University Press has released data on the first full year of operation for Oxford Open, its hybrid OA journal program. Excerpt:
In the first year of launch, almost 400 papers have been published under the optional open access model across 36 of the 49 participating titles.
Google to allow free downloads of books, Associated Press, August 29, 2006.
Comment. This is big. Of the major book-scanning projects, Google's library project never rivaled the Open Content Alliance for barrier-free access to the resulting texts, even when the texts were in the public domain. Google is now lifting the two largest and most irritating barriers --those that blocked downloads and printing.
What barriers remain? Both OCA and Google restrict downloads to analog image files, even though they have digital text behind the scenes for searching. (Project Gutenberg is the best source for digitized public-domain books if you want the text in searchable, cut/pasteable form.) And last I heard, Google is still blocking access, without pattern or explanation, to users in certain countries.
So far, I've seen no announcement on the Google Book Search blog. (Why would Google let itself be scooped by the mainstream press?) Nor does the barrier-free access seem to have begun yet. Here's a public-domain 1897 edition of MacBeth scanned from Harvard's library. I can print it one page at a time, but I can't find a way to print or download the full text.
The University of New Hampshire library has publicly posted its May 24 proposal that the university should buy institutional memberships in BMC and PLoS. (Thanks to William Walsh.) Excerpt:
Stockholm University has decided to sign the Berlin Declaration and do something with deposits in its institutional repository. But I can't tell from the Swedish announcement whether it will require deposits or merely encourage them.
I'm already trying to get human help with the translation. But in the meantime, here's Systran's machine translation, which leaves the key question obscure:
On Stockholm's universities, a workgroup with representatives has from the four faculties and University Library a left letter to the headmaster with proposals to new policy concerning handling of Open Access publication. Headmaster Kåre Bremer has the 29/6 taken decisions on the basis of the workgroup's recommendations to sign the Berlin Declaration and to advocate that the researchers in possibly anxious deposits a copy of each published scientific article in the university's digital archives. More information: Letter from the workgroup for Open Access wide Stockholm's universities
Update. Here's an unofficial statement of the new policy from Ingegerd Rabow. (Thanks, Ingegerd!)
The Vice Chancellor's decision for Stockholm University says that
Andrés Guadamuz González, Open Science: Open Source Licenses in Scientific Research, North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology, Spring 2006.
Abstract: In recent years, there has been growing interest in the area of open source software (“OSS”) as an alternative economic model. However, the success of the OSS mindshare and collaborative online experience has wider implications to many other fields of human endeavor than the mere licensing of computer programmes. There are a growing number of institutions interested in using OSS licensing schemes to distribute creative works and scientific research, and even to publish online journals through open access (“OA”) licenses. There appears to be growing concern in the scientific community about the trend to fence and protect scientific research through intellectual property, particularly by the abuse of patent applications for biotechnology research. The OSS experience represents a successful model which demonstrates that IP licenses could eventually be used to protect against the misuse and misappropriation of basic scientific research. This would be done by translating existing OSS licenses to protect scientific research. Some efforts are already paying dividends in areas such as scientific publishing, evidenced by the growing number of OA journals. However, the process of translating software licenses to areas other than publishing has been more difficult. OSS and OA licenses work best with works subject to copyright protection because copyright subsists in an original work as soon as it is created. However, it has been more difficult to generate a license that covers patented works because patents are only awarded through a lengthy application and registration process. If the open science experiment is to work, it needs the intervention of the legal community to draft new licenses that may apply to scientific research. This article will look at the issue of such OA licenses, paying special care as to how the system can best be exported to scientific research based on OSS and OA ideals.
Kate Worlock, ARL: A Glimpse Into The Future For Institutional Repositories, EPS Insights, August 29, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
The ARL survey received responses from 71% of its members, and offers some interesting insights into how IRs are set up and managed by research organisations. 43% of respondents had an operational IR, with 35% planning an implementation in 2007; 22% had no development plans. The top three reasons for setting up an IR were to increase global visibility of, preserve, and provide free access to the institution's scholarship....
India and Japan have signed a memorandum of understanding on scientific cooperation. One short article says that the two nations plan to cooperate on "open access database" [databases?], but doesn't elaborate. A longer article doesn't mention open access at all. If anyone has more detail on the possible OA story here, please drop me a line.
Elaine Peterson, Librarian Publishing Preferences and Open-Access Electronic Journals, Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, Summer 2006.
Abstract: Librarians have often led the way in championing Open-Access (OA) journals on the Internet as an alternative to established journal titles that are subscription based. In the discipline of Library and Information Science [LIS], all types of journals continue to be published—paper and electronic, subscription-based and free. Using a survey, this article explores how some librarians view OA titles. The article collects suggestions for editors of OA journals. The article also asks questions about the relationship of OA journals to the promotion and tenure process for academic librarians.
From the body of the paper:
Comment. Until OA journals in LIS are more successful at attracting authors, it's critical that authors make their work OA through repositories, no matter where they publish. LIS is unusual for having two excellent OA repositories: E-LIS and dLIST.
In his talk on Saturday at Chinese Wikimania 2006, Jimmy Wales reiterated his view that he will not accept Chinese government censorship as a condition for restoring access to the full Chinese version of Wikipedia. The Chinese have blocked access to full official version since last October and replaced it with an unofficial, censored abridgment.
Mark J. McCabe and Christopher M. Snyder, The Economics of Open-Access Journals, May 2006. A preprint self-archived July 14, 2006. (Thanks to DocuTicker.)
Abstract: A new business model for scholarly journals, open access, has gained wide attention recently. An open-access journal's articles are available over the Internet free of charge to all readers; revenue to cover publication costs comes from authors' fees. In this paper, we present a model of the journals market. Drawing upon the emerging literature on two-sided markets, we highlight the features distinguishing journals from examples economists have previously studied (telephony, credit cards, etc.). We analyze the efficiency of equilibrium author and reader fee schedules for various industry structures and for various assumptions about journals' objective functions. We ask whether open-access journals are viable in these various economic environments.
From the body of the paper:
On a superficial level, our analysis suggests there is merit to both sides of the debate. Consider the “possibility results” derived from our numerical examples. We showed it is possible for open access to emerge in equilibrium with profit maximizing journals. This was true for various journal market structures ranging from monopoly to Bertrand competition. We showed it is possible for open access to be socially efficient. On the other hand, all of the numerical examples had nonopen- access equilibria. Indeed, we provided additional examples (see footnote 14) in which open access did not emerge in any competitive equilibrium. We also provided a range of cases in which the second-best social optimum (second best in the sense journals are constrained to earn non-negative profit without external subsidy) did not involve open access.
Comment. As you can tell from the abstract (repeated in the body of the paper), McCabe and Snyder assume that all OA journals charge author-side fees. We know, however, that the majority of OA journals charge no author-side fees at all. When I pointed this out in response to another McCabe-Snyder preprint, dated June 2006, McCabe wrote to explain that he and Snyder acknowledge other OA business models in their ongoing research. They show that author-side fees can fluctuate down to zero, depending on other variables, and that one of the key variables is the availability of institutional subsidies. But we're still waiting for the paper that will correct, rather than reinforce, the false impression that all or even most OA journals charge author-side fees.
Katarina Tomasevski, The State of the Right to Education Worldwide: Free or Fee: 2006 Global Report, Copenhagen, August 2006. This is a major, 281-page report surveying the laws and practices of 170 countries. There is no executive summary, but here's a short overview from the splash page:
Yesterday Jared Benedict's Libre Map Project came to a successful conclusion. (Thanks to Boing Boing.)
Jared bought electronic copies of 56,000 topological maps from the U.S. Geological Survey. These maps are in the public domain but were not yet OA. Or more precisely, not all were OA and not all the OA maps were OA from the same site. Jared's project was to raise $1,600 to cover his expenses and then give the maps to the Internet Archive for permanent OA hosting. Yesterday he met his fund-raising goal and the 300 GB of data are on their way to the IA.
Sandra Braman, Transformations of the Research Enterprise, Educause Review, July/August 2006. Excerpt:
Large research projects are more likely to involve working with the results of data from multiple studies at multiple sites across multiple time periods than working with single studies alone. High-performance computing has made it possible to analyze much larger aggregates of data, expanding vision across space and time in ways previously not possible. Researchers working with such datasets need...institutional arrangements that ensure access to that data irrespective of where it resides or in what form....
Barbara Quint, Institutional Repositories on Target: ARL Survey and Scopus/Scirus Features, Information Today NewsBreaks, August 28, 2006. (Thanks to George Porter.) Excerpt:
Institutional repositories (IRs) form a key component in the open access movement to bring scholarly research onto the open Web. Librarians and their clients regularly search digital IRs in pursuit of scholarship, but now more and more research librarians have begun to envision institutional repositories as a responsibility, involving themselves in the creation, maintenance, promotion, and advocacy of IRs. The Association of Research Libraries has surveyed its members to collect baseline data on this potentially transforming, technological realignment of scholarly communication. Scholarly publishers also have their eye on the phenomenon. Elsevier has introduced a new “Search Sources” feature for its Scopus users; the feature allows librarians to customize interfaces to direct their users to specific institutional repositories and special digital subject collections. It appears that the new Scopus feature will simply allow librarians to preset the content preferences in Scopus that users of Scirus, Elsevier’s free scholarly search engine, can set for themselves on a search-by-search basis, using the Advanced Search features. Scopus announcements also encourage Scopus clients to open their institutional repositories to the expanding Scirus Repository Search Program.
Lyn Jeffery, Access to scholarly communication in Virtual China, August 27, 2006. Excerpt:
Kam Shapiro, Bibliography and Summary: Electronic Peer Review Management, University of Michigan Scholarly Publishing Office. Undated. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.) Excerpt:
A variety of software tools are now available that enable the electronic management of peer review processes for scholarly journals. These tools promise to facilitate efficient and centralized control and/or supervision by journal staff of the submission, assignment, tracking and publication of articles though the web, as well as enabling a central archive of various tasks performed....The specialized features available vary widely, but the more highly developed programs share many characteristics....Despite their different “bells and whistles,” the workflow process is relatively constant across most of the software reviewed here. This no doubt reflects the relatively standard elements of peer review processes across multiple journals. That said, a primary concern for editors is the adaptability of any software to the idiosyncrasies of their process. However, editors may not appreciate the extent to which their processes resemble those of other journals.
Open access electronic journal gaining acceptance, The Hindu, August 27, 2006. Excerpt:
The open access electronic journal is an indication of how science communication will shape up in the 21st century, K. Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation of India, said on Saturday.
Comment. Surely Reddy knows that OA journals perform peer review. Is it possible that the paper misunderstood a point he was making about preprint repositories? As of today the DOAJ lists 2,350 open access peer-reviewed journals.
Update. An August 28 story on Reddy's talk, from South India's News Today, suggests that when Reddy discussed the absence of peer review, he was talking about preprint exchanges, not OA journals.
Adam Rogers, Get Wiki With It, Wired, September 2006. Excerpt:
Randall Stross has a story in today's New York Times, on Freeload Press, the company publishing ad-supported free online textbooks.