Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, October 21, 2006

OA infrastructure on European wish list

Daniel Clery, Panel Draws Up Shopping List, Science Magazine, October 20, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:

European researchers have compiled a wish list of 35 large-scale projects that they would love to see built over the next 2 decades. The projects...must be internationally important and open to all European researchers....

The road map was put together by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), a meeting place for officials and senior scientists from the European Union and individual nations to work out collaborations on big projects....

[Carlo Rizzuto, head of the Sincrotrone Trieste laboratory
in Italy, who led the road-map working group on physical sciences and engineering] hopes that the road map will help promote the idea of open-access facilities. “This mode of infrastructure has existed since the Middle Ages, but it still needs to be explained to politicians,” he says....

ESFRI members will present the road map next spring at a Paris meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on research infrastructure. Will that meeting result in a world road map? “Wouldn’t that be lovely?” says Wood.

PS:  For more background, see my blog post from October 19.

Hemai Parthasarathy at the Berkman Center

David Weinberger has blogged some notes on Hemai Parthasarathy's appearance at Harvard's Berkman Center yesterday.  Excerpt:

Hemai Parthasarathy who's the managing editor of PLoS Biology, is leading a discussion at the Berkman Center. She was an editor at Nature for five years....

PLoS has an "intrinsic tension" she says because most of the people who started the journal don't believe in elite publishing. "We think it's wrong for tenure committees to pass the buck" to the editors of the top-tier journals. That's why they've started PLoS One. It launches in November. "The idea is to take the editorializing out of the peer review process." It asks whether a paper is sound enough to be published, but not how important the paper is. "Publish everything worth publishing" that's submitted, and then put a layer of open peer review conversation about it. "When I was at Nature, I'd reject ten papers a week in neuroscience alone because they weren't important enough." Then the papers would be passed on to the next five journals, and you'd lose all the information generated in the reviewing of that paper. "It's incredibly inefficient." "Peer review is overwhelming scientists. Scientists are getting asked to review twenty papers a week."

PLoS' "impact factor" is high — the average number of times papers in that journal are cited. But the measure is flawed, Hemai says. E.g., reviews and notes don't get counted as articles but do draw citations, so the citations / articles number goes up; that's why more journals are running more reviews, etc....

PLoS will have some type of quantifiable ranking system based on the open peer review system. "We'll also do some topdown filtering. Some editorial board members will pick some articles from PLoS One to write about in PLoS Biology." ...

Charlie Nesson points out this is a fascinating example of Internet governance. "How can we help?" he asks. Hemai responds: "Make some of the subscription pool available to open access publications. And top down say that if you publish your papers in a way that other people can access them, that will be rewarded." MIT, she says, has been working with Science Commons to make a copyright agreement and negotiate with the journals to allow articles to be open access. E.g., Harvard could require its scientists to deposit their articles in an open access archive, and could negotiate with the non-open journals to permit that....

PLoS One is thinking about allowing revisions of papers to be published afterwards and associated with it. "The least publishable unit has been getting smaller and smaller as time goes by."

PLoS will be built on open source software. "Long term, anyone can start their own journal." (And maybe someday the journals are assembled on demand based on metadata because...wait for it...everything is miscellaneous.)

A new project to share archaeological excavation data

Eric Kansa, Archaeological Data Management and Sharing:, Digging Digitally, October 20, 2006. Excerpt:

Given that there are several teams working on data sharing initiatives, it is helpful to share perspectives and ideas that can potentially cross-fertilize efforts and hopefully facilitate collaborations. Chuck Jones and the Stoa Consortium alerted me to the impressive work underway on the Nabonidus project. Sam Wood of the Nabonidus Project kindly agreed to an interview to discuss their efforts with the DDIG community.

[Question] What is the rationale behind Nabonidus and what needs do you see it fulfilling? Is it primarily a project data management tool or a system for digital publication of project datasets?

[SW] Nabonidus was built to make the task of gathering and analyzing archaeological excavation data easy. We hope that Nabonidus will not only be a data management tool and a system for digital publication but will go much further.

The more data there is in Nabonidus the more useful a tool it will become. Firstly the archaeological community would gain access to this raw excavation data which is not an easy thing to do currently. And secondly we would get a new angle on the data with Nabonidus reporting tools and multiple excavation analysis. In our opinion the ability to search across multiple excavations with just a few clicks is very compelling....

[Question] On your blog (, you make it very clear that investigators retain ownership of content in your system. You also emphasize data privacy protection on your site. Is this in response to specific concerns from your user community? Do you think that most users have strong intellectual property concerns, and is this an important factor in shaping your development efforts?

[SW] Yes and yes! All our users have strong feelings about the ownership of their data. On the one hand they need to keep their data private to enable them to publish findings and papers. On the other hand they realize the need and benefits of sharing that data.

So we built Nabonidus so that users can decide how public or private their data will be. This can be set at an area or site level so projects can make some or all of their data public as they see fit. This means initially we won’t have a great deal of publicly available data but as users become comfortable with the system and publish their findings this public archive will grow....

Report on the eIFL meeting in Jordan

eIFL has written a report on its 2006 General Assembly in Amman, Jordan (September 10-12, 2006). Excerpt:

One of the ambitions of is to inform its members about cutting-edge issues and to attract top quality innovators from the information world. This year Anurag Acharya, Google Distinguished Engineer, explored the creation of union catalogues and offered his brainchild, Google Scholar, as a means for eIFL libraries to increase the visibility of their vast repositories. With the motto “Standing on the shoulders of giants”, Google Scholar aims to make the world's scientific literature universally accessible.

The Scholar project results from Acharya’s experience as a student in rural India when material in his local library was typically out-of-date. “I understand the problems facing students and researchers in developing countries,” said Acharya. “That is why I welcome the opportunity to engage with the eIFL community. I believe that Google Scholar can help to make masses of valuable research material accessible. Wouldn’t it be a suburb achievement if the next scientific breakthrough comes from a researcher in an eIFL country?”, enthused Acharya.

New participants learnt about eIFL licences and activities on open access, institutional repositories, open source software and intellectual property in the Newcomer’s Session....

OA and kindred openness movements in higher ed

David Wiley, Open Source, Openness, and Higher Education, Innovate, October/November 2006.  Excerpt:

With the growth of open source software and other related trends, a culture of openness is advancing from the edges of society to the core of academic culture. In this article I provide an overview of how the expansion of open source software in culture at large has affected the world of education, describe how the greater use of open source software in education has unfolded hand-in-hand with the development of open course content and open access research, and argue that this more comprehensive shift towards "openness" in academic practice is not only a positive trend, but a necessary one in order to ensure transparency, collaboration, and continued innovation in the academy....

Open tool for open educational content

Toru Iiyoshi, Cheryl Richardson, and Owen McGrath, Harnessing Open Technologies to Promote Open Educational Knowledge Sharing, Innovate, October/November 2006. Excerpt:

The Knowledge Exchange Exhibit and Presentation (KEEP) Toolkit, a set of software tools designed to help educators provide focused, detailed investigations and demonstrations of effective teaching practice, was developed in 2001 by the Knowledge Media Laboratory (KML) of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a specialized in-house software resource. However, within five years this software steadily evolved into the hub of a distributed community of over 10,000 users, and in 2006 it was released as open source—thereby making it possible for individuals and institutions anywhere to participate in this community. Encouraged by the rapid usage growth but concerned about sustainability, we saw that the best bet for long-term viability in the software would come from inviting our user community to participate in the KEEP Toolkit's future development.

In what follows we first provide an introduction to the key features of the KEEP Toolkit, illustrate its early application as a means of promoting shared inquiry into pedagogical practice, and address its role as a tool for documenting the pedagogical value of learning objects. We then discuss the factors that led us to pursue an open source approach to further software development, and we describe the stages that characterized our implementation of this approach....

PS:  KEEP includes integration with DSpace repositories.

Friday, October 20, 2006

From Elsevier to BioMed Central

Christopher Leonard, former Publishing Editor for theoretical computer science journals at Elsevier, has moved to BioMed Central.  (Thanks to Computational Complexity.)  He describes the transition on his blog for October 10:

After a hiatus of nearly a year, I'm glad to report that I am back working in the field of scientific publishing. I have been asked by BioMed Central to develop their physics, mathematics & computer science titles which will, like all journals published by BMC, be open access & free to read.

As many of you will know, I left Elsevier late last year and went to work for an interactive music company called Digimpro. They are still going strong with their community-driven site, but the opportunity to get back into the STM world on a more (ahem) respectable side of the fence was too good to pass up....

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the people who were so understanding in my previous role and invite them to get in touch....OA is only getting stronger and it is time for the real scientists to enjoy the benefits that biologists and their medical friends have been enjoying for years!

PS:  While he was at Elsevier, Leonard played a role in the experiment to offer one year of free online access to Information and Computation.

Update. Also see the BMC press release (October 24) announcing Leonard's new role and Bryan Vickery's new position at Chemistry Central.

Two Google lawsuits merged

Marketwatch reports that U.S. District Judge John Sprizzo has consolidated two of the lawsuits against Google for its opt-out Library Program.  (Thanks to Barry Schwartz.)  The merged suits are those from the Authors Guild and five book publishers led by McGraw-Hill.  At the same time, Sprizzo said he wouldn't be able to decide the case until February or May 2008, leaving the parties plenty of time to settle.

OA page for an OA pioneer

The University of Zurich, one of the handful of universities with an OA mandate for faculty research, now has a web page on OA in German and English.  (Thanks to medinfo.)  On it we learn that the university's IR, ZORA (Zurich Open Repository and Archive), officially launched on October 13, 2006.  From the new page:

The University of Zurich was quick to recognise the importance of this movement and declared open access a strategic goal by formulating the following guidelines:

  • The University of Zurich requires their researchers to deposit a copy of all their published and refereed articles in the Institutional Repository of the University, if there are no legal objections.
  • The University of Zurich encourages and supports their authors to publish their research articles in open access journals where a suitable journal exists and provides the support to enable that to happen.

To achieve these goals there is a repository (Zurich Open Repository and Archive - ZORA), in which researchers of the University can present their publications. In addition, this website contains information for publishing with open access (overview: OA in brief).

Blogging the Open Scholarship conference

Here are some bloggers taking notes on the presentations at Open Scholarship: New Challenges for Open Access Repositories (Glasgow, October 18-20, 2006).

Murray-Rust on open scholarship

Peter Murray-Rust has blogged a preview of his talk at Open Scholarship: New Challenges for Open Access Repositories (Glasgow, October 18-20, 2006).  Excerpt:

Data as well as text is now ESSENTIAL - we should stop using “full-text” as it is dangerously destructive in science....

Need automated, instant, access to and re-use of millions of published digital objects. The Harnad model of self-archiving on individual web pages with copyright retained by publishers is useless for modern robotic science....


Other initiatives:

  • SPARC - Open Data mailing list

What must be done: ...[2] Insist that all authors’ works are their copyright and re-usable under commons-like license....[5] Pay publishers for what added value they provide, not what value they control. Create a market where publishers have to compete with other ways of solving the problem (Google, folksonomies, etc.)...

Improving discoverability, if not access

Jeffrey Pomerantz, Google Scholar and 100% Availability of Information, Information Technology and Libraries, 25, 1 (2006) pp. 52-56. 

Abstract:   This paper discusses Google Scholar as an extension of Kilgour’s goal to improve the availability of information. Kilgour was instrumental in the early development of the online library catalog, and he proposed passage retrieval to aid in information seeking. Google Scholar is a direct descendent of these technologies foreseen by Kilgour. Google Scholar holds promise as a means for libraries to expand their reach to new user communities, and to enable libraries to provide quality resources to users during their online search process.

From the body of the paper:

Google Scholar does not provide access to 100% of information resources in existence; but rather enables discovery of information resources, and allows for the possibility that these resources will be discoverable by the user 100% of the time.

Another OA mandate from the UK

The UK's Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) has decided to mandate OA to PPARC-funded research.  Excerpt from its new policy (October 19):
PPARC supports the sentiments in the RCUK position statement on research outputs and, following discussions with the other Research Councils, has decided that for grants arising from proposals submitted after 1 December 2006, it will be a requirement of the grant that the full text of any articles resulting from the grant that are published in journals or conference proceedings, whether during or after the period of the grant, must be deposited, at the earliest opportunity, in an appropriate e-print repository, wherever such a repository is available, subject to compliance with publishers' copyright and licensing policies. Wherever possible, the article deposited should be the published version.

In addition, the bibliographical metadata (including a link to the publisher's web site) must wherever possible be deposited, at or around the time of publication, in the relevant e-print repository.

This policy will be reviewed on completion, expected in 2008, of a project to be commissioned by RCUK, with the involvement of journal publishers, to investigate the impact of author-pays and self-archiving on research publication.

Comment.  This is an important development.  PPARC is the fifth of the eight Research Councils UK to adopt an OA mandate.  Here's the current tally:  five have mandates (BBSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, and PPARC), one has opted for mere encouragement (CCLRC), and two are still deliberating (AHRC and EPSRC).

New OA book on OA

Polimetrica has published an OA book on OA:  Giandomenico Sica (ed.), Open Access, Open Problems, Milan, 2006.  The entire book is free online (103 pp. PDF).  Here's the table of contents:

  • Giandomenico Sica, Preface
  • Antonella De Robbio, Open Access al centro dei nuovi scenari di e-governance
  • Takashi Kunisawa, A concrete step for building public electronic archives of reviewed papers
  • Derek Law, Open Access: national policy initiatives as an alternative to personal commitment
  • Peter Suber, Unbinding knowledge: a proposal for providing open access to past research articles, starting with the most important
  • Paul F. Uhlir, The emerging role of open repositories for scientific literature as a fundamental component of the public research Infrastructure

PS:  I thank Polimetrica for its willingness to publish on the subject of OA and for its willingness to make the entire book OA.  Polimetrica makes all its books OA, either immediately upon publication or after a certain number of copies have been sold.  For details see the page on its editorial policy.

New model site license permits OA archiving

The new Model NESLi2 Licence for Journals, updated October 2006, contains a very welcome provision on self-archiving.  (Thanks to Tom George.)

[Term]  The Licensee may:...allow Authorised Users and/or deposit in perpetuity parts of the Licensed Material of which they are the authors on any network including networks open to the public and to communicate to the public such parts via any electronic network, including without limitation the Internet and the World Wide Web, and any other distribution medium now in existence or hereinafter created.

The model license isn't yet in force, but JISC will use it as the basis for negotiating with journal publishers for future site licenses at UK institutions.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Giant publisher merger in the offing

The two powerful holding companies Cinven and Candover, which already own Springer, may buy Informa and create a Springer-Informa merger.

For details, see the news coverage.

For background, see Mark McCabe, The Impact of Publisher Mergers on Journal Prices.

Managing the transition to OA

T. Scott Plutchak has blogged an untitled post on the Society for Neuroscience annual conference, (R)evolution in Scientific Publishing: How Will it Affect You? (Atlanta, October 16, 2006).  Excerpt:

The six panelists...represent a broad spectrum of informed opinion about the current state of publishing, and it was clear that there is no longer (if there ever really was) any blanket "anti-open access" sentiment in the publishing world, if we understand "open access" in its simplest and broadest form.  There was strong support on the part of all panelists for experimentation in as many forms as possible.    Mark Doyle (American Physical Society) put it most clearly -- if we were inventing publishing today, we wouldn't set it up the way that it currently is.  We are tied to anachronistic structures that made sense in the print world, but don't any longer.  The question is how do we get from here to there -- that is, how do you take a publishing enterprise that is primarily dependent on subscription revenue and transition it to some other economic model (whatever that model may be) in a sustainable manner?  Virtually every publisher that I talk to is engaged in some sort of experimentation trying to figure this out.

If librarians are going to be an effective part of the discussion, and if we are going to have some influence on the  direction in which publishing evolves, we need first of all to recognize that this is a completely legitimate and extremely difficult question.  We also need to recognize that opposition to FRPAA (for example) or scepticism about "author/funder pays" are not equivalent to opposition to open access in the broadest sense....

Libre information short of OA?

The LIBRErian Manifesto, Librerian, October 18, 2006.  The first post to a new blog. Excerpt:

Libraries are the pillars of a free democracy. Access to quality information with a variety of sources and viewpoints is essential to an informed and free society, and libraries provide this access with a free (gratis) collection of unbiased, authoritative materials which will serve the needs of their communities....

The digital era is a revolution on par with the invention of movable type: information from a multitude of sources is now infinitely reproduceable and (theoretically) instantly available. This revolution, however, has been met with a new threat to freedom: the restriction of information through proprietary standards and restrictive usage licenses. Proprietary standards inherently limit the freedom to use and transmit information, as the standard owner has ultimate control over how, where and for what price the information will be accessed. Restrictive "user licenses" have eroded the doctrine of first sale to the point where publishers now assume the right to set access restrictions on digital information in perpetuity! Librarians have unwittingly decreased the freedom and availability of information by settling for proprietary formats and agreeing to the "license", rather than purchase, information.

No more. Now is the time for librarians to assert the right to promote the freedom of information for which libraries have always stood. Librarians must demand the aquisition of information which is sold, not licensed and standards which are open and free, not proprietary and legally-encumbered....

PS:  The authors give proper attention to open source software and open standards, but seem to be unaware of open access literature.

Review of OA index of library research

Péter Jacsó reviews EBSCO's Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (LISTA) in his Digital Reference Shelf for October 2006.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  Excerpt:

EBSCO has been generous to offer two open-access indexing and abstracting databases, Teacher Reference Center (TRC), and Library Reference Center (LRC). TRC has been enhanced and, as of mid-September, offers more than 1 million indexing/abstracting records. LRC also was much enhanced then replaced last November by LISTA, which includes also at least 5,000 records from the Information Science and Technology Abstracts (ISTA) database acquired by EBSCO a few years ago....There are tens of thousands of indexing/abstracting records related to library and information science and technology in ERIC, PubMed, NTIS, and some of the other government databases, but LISTA dwarfs all of these together in size and many other regards discussed below....

In spite of some deficiencies, this is an exceptionally useful database for librarians and information professionals who have now open access to the largest and most current indexing/abstracting database on library/information science and technology, as well as to half a million full text articles (if they subscribe to the most commonly licensed EBSCO databases)....

Usability-related OA journals

Stuart Church has put together a list of OA journals related to usability (or the user experience, UX), all from the DOAJ.

More on the Australian economic impact study

Eve Gray, The economic impact of access to research - the Australians count the cost and benefits, Gray Area, October 18, 2006. Excerpt:

The Department of Education in Australia has recently released a very important report on Research Communication Costs in Australia, in which John Houghton, Colin Steele and Peter Sheehan provide a cost and benefit analysis of existing and emerging alternatives for scholarly communications out of Australian institutions. An article in the Australian...provides an incisive summary of the findings, for those who want a rapid overview.

The results of this survey are startling, both for the high (hidden) costs that it reveals universities are paying in the current system and the high level of financial benefits that the report calculates could accrue from more open and effective dissemination of research results....

We could learn from this in South Africa. All too often, when problems with the commercial, 'subscriber pays' model of journal publication are raised and Open Access is mentioned, the response is an anxious query about where funding would come from to pay for a more open publishing system. What this reveals is a presumption that research dissemination is not the business of universities, but is outsourced to commercial providers. What it also reveals is that the academic community does not realise that it is already paying for scholarly publication, albeit in ways that universities do not conventionally track.

The authors of the Australian report have calculated the cost of the various contributions that are made by higher education institutions to the publication of journal articles. Computing the time involved in the various contributions of authoring, peer review, and editorial activities undertaken by university staff in their quest to get published, they come up with hidden costs of AUD19,000.00 ($14,000.00) per journal article. A scholarly monograph they estimate at AUD155,100.00 ($115,000.00).

The authors then go on to quantify the benefits of improved R&D access in Australia....

The conclusion of the report is that 'a move towards more open access may represent a substantial cost-benefit advantage' . As Peter Suber says in a comment on his blog: 'Taxpayers need to realize how much the return on their investment in research could be amplified by a transition to OA and how how much they are paying for every delay in that transition.' It is clear that South Africa would benefit from playing catch-up by getting moving on Open Access policies.

OA to British law, forthcoming

Heather Brook, At last, the price is right for access to our laws, The Guardian, October 19, 2006.  Excerpt:

The Guardian's Free Our Data campaign has notched up a victory in its quest to ensure the consolidated law of the land is available for every citizen free of charge.

The Statute Law Database has been an ongoing government project for the past decade, eating up hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money. In spite of this, officials at the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) had said the database would be run using a commercial strategy that would charge users for accessing the laws of the land....

The change of position came via an email, seen by the Guardian, sent by Clare Allison, the enquiry system project manager at the Statute Publication Office to testers of the Statute Law Database.

In it she says: "We are also pleased to announce that the website as it stands will be launched free to the public once piloting has been completed. A commercial strategy will still be developed next year, but will be looking at options that concern the commercial reuse of the data and the development of functionality that will serve the needs of the specialist user."

The UK is unusual in keeping secret and exercising strict copyright control over the consolidated law. Canada, Australia and the US all provide free access to the raw statute law data and there is either no copyright, or it is waived.

Roger Cook, chairman of the British and Irish Law Librarians Association welcomed the news of free access, albeit cautiously. "It's great that the database will now be free of charge but we need to keep an eye on it. The way this is worded it still leaves them the option to charge for it." ...

PS:  For background, see my blog postings from August 2006 and  June 2004.

OA journals in engineering

John Hunter has put together a list of 17 OA journals in engineering. I haven't checked to see whether they're all alread listed in the DOAJ.

MRC moves the page on its OA policy

The UK Medical Research Council has moved the page on its OA policy.

Old URL (now dead):

The new URL is literally too long to paste in here (sans dysfunctional line breaks) without disorting my blog format. I tried. So click here and take the URL from your browser window.

PS: What was wrong with the older, shorter URL? Could it at least trigger a redirect so that users interested enough to have bookmarked the old page could find the new one?

EU support for OA in the humanities

The EU has identified 35 research infrastructures for focused support.  From today's announcement:

Today the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) presented the first ever European Roadmap for Research infrastructures. The document presents 35 large-scale research infrastructures projects, identified by ESFRI as being of key importance for the development of science and innovation in Europe. The Roadmap will allow a common European approach to the development of such facilities, support the definition of priorities and aid the pooling of the significant financial resources needed for their development....

One of the 35 projects is OA.  From the companion memo describing the 35:

Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH)

The Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities will be based upon an existing network of Data Centres and Services. The model is however open and will be able to embrace new fields. It will also profit from European Cultural Heritage Online (ECHO), an Open Access Infrastructure to bring essential cultural heritage online, of which the MPG is the host.

An OA repository for Israel

Israel Scholar Works, an OA repository for Israeli and Jewish scholars worldwide, officially launched on October 14.  From the announcement:

Israel Scholar Works (ISW) is a digital archive (repository) for creative work by the faculty, staff and students of Israel Academic Institutions and Jewish scholars all around the world. Israel Scholar Works aims to facilitate innovation in the production and dissemination of Israel scholarship, to unite Israel and Jewish scholarship, to make it available to a wider audience, and to help assure its long-term preservation. Israel Scholar Works has published first postscript archive article and now open for submissions of a wide range scholarly publications....

While Israel Scholar Works present focus is postscript (or postprint) archiving of articles originally published in peer-reviewed journals and dissertations by Israel/Jewish scholars, in future the Repository will offer direct control over creation and dissemination of the full range of scholarly output, including pre-publication materials, conference proceedings, book chapters and teaching series. Importantly, it will cross disciplinary boundaries, giving it a wider scope than any journal or any small set of journals....

Sadly, "Israel does not have the level of Open Access activity that we see in any other part of the world with comparable levels of higher education and research," says Peter Suber....Israel Scholar aims to raise the profile of Open Access among Israeli scholars, librarians, university administrators, and government officials, and help bring Israel to a level of recognition for its OA activity commensurate with its levels of scientific research.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Access experiments at the LMS journals

Starting in January 2007, Oxford University Press (OUP) will publish three of the four journals of the London Mathematical Society (LMS).  The journals will not be OA, but they will have two unusual access policies.  First, subscribers will have online access to the full runs back to 1865 at no extra charge.  Second, each new issue will offer free online access to everyone for the first six months after publication and then move behind the subscription wall. 

The three journals are the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society, the Journal of the London Mathematical Society, and the Bulletin of the London Mathematical Society.

The journals are currently published by Cambridge University Press, where they have experimentally tried access policies similar to the ones coming at OUP.  During 2005, the Proceedings and the Bulletin offered free online access to the most recent two issues before moving them behind the subscription wall.  The same experiment is now in progress for the Journal during 2006.

LMS's fourth journal, LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics, will remain at Cambridge, where it is OA.  Or as the Cambridge site puts it, "access is free until further notice".

Citizendium launches this week

The Citizendium project has issued its first press release, Co-Founder to Launch Edited Version of Wikipedia, October 17, 2006. Excerpt:

A major new encyclopedia project will soon attempt to unseat Wikipedia as the go-to destination for general information online.  Like Wikipedia, the Citizendium (sit-ih-ZEN-dee-um), or "the Citizen’s Compendium," will be a wiki project open to public collaboration.  But, unlike Wikipedia, the community will be guided by expert editors, and contributors will be expected to use their own names, not anonymous pseudonyms.

The initiative is being spearheaded by Wikipedia’s co-founder, Larry Sanger, who, after leaving the well-known wiki project, became one of its more vocal critics.  Sanger first announced the effort on September 15 at the Wizards of OS conference in Berlin.  Sanger, who holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Ohio State University, has taken a leave of absence from the Digital Universe Foundation in order to lead the new project.

This week, the fledgling Citizendium Foundation will launch a six-week pilot project open to potential contributors by invitation....

"Wikipedia has accomplished great things, but the world can do even better," said Sanger.  "By engaging expert editors, eliminating anonymous contribution, and launching a more mature community under a new charter, a much broader and more influential group of people and institutions will be able to improve upon Wikipedia’s extremely useful, but often uneven work.  The result will be not only enormous and free, but reliable." ...

News coverage.

Indian network will promote info sharing

Shabana Hussain, 'Knowledge Network' to connect academia, Mumbai Business Standard, October 18, 2006. Excerpt:

[India's] National Knowledge Commission (NKC), constituted by the government last year, is proposing to build a network which will interconnect educational and research institutes in the country. The network will allow universities and institutes like IITs and IIMs to share research data and information on a common network.

NKC is proposing to connect 5,000 entities in the country which would cover universities, academic institutes, research and development labs and libraries. It started studying the project, titled ‘Knowledge Network’, three months ago and expects to submit a report on the project shortly. Based on the report, NKC will make recommendations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh within the next 60 to 90 days....

US and Europe already have similar networks connecting educational and research institutes. In the US, it is the Internet2 which is a networking consortium comprising more than 200 US universities, in co-operation with 70 corporations, 45 government agencies, laboratories and other institutions. Europe has the GEANT network which is a multi-gigabyte pan-European research and education network. The GÉANT network connects 34 countries through 30 national research and education networks....

Comment. This project will not by itself enlarge the body of OA literature,  but it will overcome some access barriers that reside in India's information infrastructure.  Meantime, the NKC is considering proposals that address OA more directly.

Timo Hannay on harnessing the web for science

David Weinberger has blogged some notes on Timo Hannay's talk at Harvard's Berkman Center yesterday. Excerpt:

Timo Hannay is director of Web publishing at Nature magazine. His job is to help try to "make the most of the Web as a scientific communications medium." ...

He says that most scientists think about the Web in terms of open access. But he's not going to talk about that today, only because he wants to talk about some longer-term trends. He does think open access is incredibly important. He thinks it will happen primarily through mandatory archiving into accessible repositories....But the Web is more important than a cheap way to ship PDFs around. It can redefine scientific publishing and how science is done.

Scientific publishing is dominated by journals and databases. They tend not to talk with one another. But the chemical structures discussed in Nature Chemical Biology are entered into PubChem, an NIH database. Likewise, another site renders molecules into 3D and makes them available. But, as journals have moved online, they are becoming databases themselves. The articles are themselves structured entries, including article metadata, scientific metadata (e.g., which chemical entities, proteins, genes, etc. are described in the paper), structured data sets (e.g., System Biology Markup Language) accompanying articles, and more structure within the articles themselves (e.g., identifying genes as they are discussed) , including interactive figures that have the data underneath it. (The interactive figures are not yet online, he says.)

Likewise, he says, databases are starting to do peer review, further merging the publishing and database models....Journals and databases are becoming more like one another.

Peer review is ready to undergo revolution....

Timo talks about a system that analyzes papers at, notes the citations, and sends the paper out to the citations for comment and review.

Publish then filter or filter [then] publish? The Web likes the former. That's quite controversial, Timo says.

Timo talks about [scientific] blogging....

He talks about e-science....

The Web is bringing back to science its original sense of purpose....

Q: The barriers include psychological, cultural, infrastructure, and funding issues. Which are the most amenable to change and would make the biggest difference in enabling collaboration?

A: The social barriers --the norms and expectations-- are very difficult to change. The funders have the ability to change people's behavior with one stroke, e.g., mandating self-archiving. Journals also have influence. We [at Nature] require authors to put nucleotide sequences into the GenBank and require the accession number....

Q: (me) Doesn't the growth of processes other than peer review and open access constitute a threat to Nature?

A: In my view, developments of peer review are more of a threat to Nature than open access. Peer review has continuing value, but there is a threat. That's why Nature has to be out there experimenting and leading. There will still be a role [for] publishers to help people find what they need. Whether the incumbents are the best ones to do that we'll have to see.

Update. Timo's slides and a video of his presentation are now online.

Microsoft jacks up book-scanning program

Michelle Pauli, Deal takes Microsoft further into Google territory, The Guardian, October 17, 2006. Excerpt:

Microsoft's strategic shift into Google territory took another step forward today with the announcement that the software giant has signed a digitisation agreement with a digital scanning specialist, Kirtas Technologies.

The deal, which will enable Microsoft to forge ahead with its Live Book Search portal, indicates Microsoft's commitment to its move towards developing online and on-demand services and away from its traditional revenue drivers - the sale and licensing of software.

Its Live Book Search portal, to be launched early next year, will make available two strands of material: out-of-copyright scholarly material from educational establishments, and in-copyright books that are sent to Microsoft by publishers or authors and which are scanned by the company free of charge.

The former strand has proved the most successful for Microsoft so far. The libraries of the University of California and the University of Toronto (with 34m and 15m volumes respectively) signed up to the programme in June, and Cornell University Library announced a partnership with Microsoft this morning. The Cornell initiative will focus on works in the public domain and will allow free access to content to students and scholars all over the world....

Comment. The Google and Microsoft projects (along with all the other book-digitizing projects) could be seen as complementary rather than competitive.  For us, the more the merrier.  But insofar as they are competitive, we also win.  Imagine very wealthy companies racing to make more literature more usefully available to more people.  The least complementary aspect of the proliferating projects is the lack of coordination to reduce redundant book-scans.  But for now, even redundant scans work in our favor, limiting corporate lock-in and creating competition to make the overlapping editions more and more accessible.  Remember that Google didn't originally allow downloading or printing even for its public-domain books, but pressure from users and rivals led it to lift these restrictions in August.

Update. Also see the Kirtas press release and the Cornell press release.

Providing OA to library literature

Dorothea Salo, Open access to the library literature, Caveat Lector, October 17, 2006. Excerpt:

I’m shocked that nobody is calling me names. Instead, a productive discussion is starting about open access to the library literature....

[T]he costs and benefits of open access apply to us librarians too. We certainly have overpriced journals and trade publications. We certainly have journals that sold out and saw their prices soar. We certainly have journals and trade publications that ask us to sign ridiculous copyright-transfer agreements....

[T]here’s more value for us, in the long run [in providing OA to library literature] --it’s called “eating our own dog food.” We can’t reasonably go out and evangelize self-archiving to faculty when we aren’t doing it ourselves. We can’t evangelize open-access journals when we don’t publish in them....

I mean, our very own guidebooks militate against open access! I was reading the publication chapter in The Successful Academic Librarian last week (ambitious, that’s me) when I ran smack into (paraphrased) “There are open-access journals, but they aren’t well-known, so most librarians consider them dubious publication outlets at best.” Oh, great; thanks ever so, O Molder of the Mind of the Young. That isn’t even true, for $DEITY’s sake! Find me a techie librarian who doesn’t know about D-Lib and Ariadne. One.

So what is a librarian who publishes in the library literature to do? At a minimum, I suggest the following:

  • Read all copyright transfer agreements. It’s flat-out irresponsible not to. If you don’t like what you’re reading, ask if that’s the only agreement available, and be prepared to detail your concerns.
  • For those agreements that do not appear to allow self-archiving or do not address self-archiving, ask the editor “May I self-archive this paper?” Editors and publishers need to hear that their authors want to do this; we mustn’t let publishers hide behind “but our authors don’t care!” Just asking the question is not going to kill your acceptance chances (especially if you ask this after your paper is accepted!).
  • Whenever possible, submit your work to an existing open-access journal. Gold-OA has a chicken-and-egg problem; authors won’t submit to OA journals unless other authors do, and Molders of the Minds of the Young won’t give credence to OA journals until they know people (good people!) who publish in them. We don’t necessarily need to start more OA library journals. We need to utilize the ones we do have fully. (That said… watch this space.)
  • Know OA resources in our field. Use them, and point other librarians to them. I’m at DLIST all the time these days.

Want to go a little further? There are ways....  [PS:  Here cutting six good suggestions; see the whole post.]

Gutting EPA libraries and access to research

Budget cuts are forcing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cancel journal subscriptions.  From the October 9 press release of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is sharply reducing the number of technical journals and environmental publications to which its employees will have online access, according to agency e-mails released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). This loss of online access compounds the effect of agency library closures, meaning that affected employees may not have access to either a hard copy or an electronic version of publications.

Citing budgetary shortfalls, cancellations of online subscriptions will be felt more sharply in some EPA offices and regions than others....

In addition to technical journals, EPA is also canceling its subscriptions to widely-read environmental news reports, such as Greenwire, The Clean Air Report and The Superfund Report, which summarize and synthesize breaking events and trends inside industry, government and academia. Greenwire, for example, recorded more than 125,000 hits from EPA staff last year.

As a result of these cuts, agency scientists and other technical specialists will no longer have ready access to materials that keep them abreast of developments within their fields. Moreover, enforcement staff, investigators and other professionals will have a harder time tracking new developments affecting their cases and projects.

“EPA’s professionals need current information in order to do their jobs, but with each passing month, even these basic tools are being put off limits,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization has been drawing attention to EPA’s shuttering of its technical libraries. “EPA is entering its own Dark Age, where both the inward and outward flows of information are being strained through an ever-narrowing sieve.” ...

Comment. Just what we need in the face of global warming:  an under-informed agency leading the search for solutions in the nation most responsible for causing the problem. 

I wonder what percentage of the research to which the EPA no longer has access was funded by the EPA.  The agency provides OA abstracts to the research it funds, but doesn't yet require or even encourage OA to the full-texts.  Under FRPAA, however, the EPA would have to require OA to EPA-funded research.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

10th anniversary edition of Bailey bibliography

Charles W. Bailey Jr. has released an update to his his monumental Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new edition is not only version 64, but the 10th Anniversary edition. It cites and organizes over 2,780 print and online articles, books, and other sources on scholarly electronic publishing. Thanks and congratulations, Charles, on this remarkable 10-year run.

Australia debates the economic impact of moving to OA

Bernard Lane, Benefits of Free Access, The Australian, October 18, 2006. Excerpt:
Even a modest move towards making research results freely available could deliver $628million a year in economic and social benefits to the nation.  The claim is made by the first study to weigh the cost and benefit of a shift away from the system of scholarly communication based on expensive journals that are restricted to subscribers.

"There's a lot of interest internationally in this report to the federal Department of Education, Science and Training because people haven't done it before," said lead author John Houghton of the Centre for Strategic Economic Studies.

Assuming a 5per cent increase in access and efficient use of research results, the report estimates a $151million annual benefit for public sector R&D, $88million for higher education R&D and $12million for research funded by the Australian Research Council.

The findings come as the ARC and National Health and Medical Research Council consider adopting open access policies to encourage - but not require - grant recipients to disseminate their results widely....

Over 20 years the benefits of adopting a full system of open access digital repositories - making research widely available free of charge - would outweigh the $10million annual cost by 214:1, the Houghton report concludes....

The report has been seized upon by open access lobbyists such as Stevan Harnad of the American Scientist Open Access Forum, who used its conclusions to urge Harvard University to adopt a policy requiring academics to put their work in open access repositories. Queensland University of Technology is believed to be the first institution to have adopted such a policy....

[Colin Steele] called for senior university managers to get serious about open access and for the research quality framework to be used as an opportunity to make freely available the best work of Australia's scholars and scientists. Mr Steele questioned the value of so much public money being spent on big-publisher subscriptions.

But Mark Robertson, Asian president of Blackwell Publishing, the world's largest publisher specialising in academic societies, defended the industry.

Mr Robertson pointed to massive investment in web technology for subscribers and a host of open access experiments.

"What's interesting about the whole open access issue is that it's driven by librarians, whereas the actual researchers are not taking it up in huge numbers at the moment," Mr Robertson said....

Lawrence Cram, ANU deputy vice-chancellor for research, also sounded a cautious note. He thought a rapid take-off of open access would have to wait on the development of search engines more sophisticated than Google. He opposed any edict that academics use open access, especially an edict built into the RQF, and expressed surprise at the degree of benefit claimed for easier access by the Houghton study.  "Market forces are moving scholarly publication to increasingly open formats and I think it is better to let time take its course rather than mandate and run the risk of introducing another Betamax-type technology," Professor Cram said.

Comments.  I'm delighted to see the Houghton-Steele-Sheehan study get attention in the mainstream press.  Taxpayers need to realize how much the return on their investment in research could be amplified by a transition to OA and how how much they are paying for every delay in that transition.  Here are a few responses to the critics.

  1. If Mark Robertson is saying that the hybrid OA journal experiments are reasons to delay an OA mandate, he has things exactly reversed.  These experiments have a low uptake from authors and do very little to enlarge the body of OA literature or improve the return on the public investment in research.  The low uptake is not due to author opposition to OA; on the contrary, the evidence shows that an overwhelming majority of authors are willing make their work OA.  But when authors have to choose between paying a publisher to make their work OA and making their peer-reviewed manuscripts OA themselves, at no charge, it's no wonder they don't flock to the publishers' offers.  Hybrid OA journal experiments are welcome, even if they prove to be ineffective at solving the access problems now facing authors and readers.  But they're not welcome if they are ineffective and used as excuses to delay to derail more effective remedies.
  2. Lawrence Cram is confused about what OA is and why it's useful. (1) OA doesn't require search engines any better than those we have now --though it will benefit as search engines improve, like all other online content.  On the contrary, OA was useful 15 years ago, long before Google was launched, when arXiv began transforming how physicists and mathematicians communicate with one another.  (2) OA isn't a format, like Betamax.  It's a kind of access compatible with all file formats and all operating systems.  It's as if Cram objected to freedom of speech on the ground that we haven't yet agreed on a standard for ebook readers.  (3) Market forces are not producing significant amounts of OA.  They are producing no-risk, low-output OA experiments that (as Robertson showed) are more useful for protecting publishers from what they fear than for providing researchers with what they need.  When the gain to the public is on the order estimated by Houghton, Steele, and Sheehan (benefits 214 times greater than costs after 20 years), taxpayers and responsible government officials should be first to demand an end to the dawdling.

More on DRIVER

Tracey Caldwell, Europe starts to build an Open Access information network, Information World Review, October 17, 2006. Excerpt:

The EU is to network research papers across Europe to create a free public information resource.  The Driver project will use simple internet-based infrastructures to make accessible scientific and technical reports, research articles, experimental and observational data, rich media and other digital objects.

The European Commission’s research infrastructure unit will fund the 18-month project. During this time Driver (Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research) will prepare for the future expansion and upgrade of the infrastructure across Europe and aim to ensure the widest possible user involvement. Ten international partners are supporting the project.

Driver will help countries to create networks of open access (OA) repositories. It will build on existing institutional repositories and networks from countries including the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium and the UK....

Open access commentator Peter Suber welcomed the launch: “This is big. It should greatly increase the number of OA institutional repositories. Its testbed will demonstrate powerful new services, enticing universities to make their research output available to these services through local incentives to deposit. And it should make it much easier for public funding agencies in European countries to mandate OA archiving for all the research they fund.”

Podcast on open libraries and OA

Library Journal has posted a free podcast, Open Libraries Episode 1, in which Karen Coombs, Melissa Rethlefsen, and Dorothea Salo talk about different aspects of open libraries.  The hour-long podcast, moderated by Jay Datema, covers 27 mini-conversations, three of which are explicitly about OA and several others are about institutional repositories.  The web page includes a timeline to help you find the segments of interest.

The OA discussion at the Society for Neuroscience

Jake Young has blogged extensive notes on the OA discussion at the Society for Neuroscience annual conference, (R)evolution in Scientific Publishing: How Will it Affect You? (Atlanta, October 16, 2006).  For a summary of Young's summary, see Dave Munger's blog notes.  Excerpt from Munger's briefer version:
  • The current "market-based" scholarly publishing system is primarily paid for by governments: Researchers and libraries get grants, and the grants pay for subscriptions to journals.
  • This system limits access: not everyone has access to libraries, and not all libraries have equal access....
  • All the panelists agreed that since it's all government money anyway, the same research could be published under an "open access" model and made freely available to all.
  • Not to belabor the point, but this would be a better system.
  • The problem comes when you get down to details: the Public Library of Science, for example, already publishes several excellent journals in this way, but requires authors to pay a fee of up to $2,500 when the work is published, to cover editing, typesetting, and administrative costs. This could be a problem because not all researchers can afford the fee, so good research may go unpublished. (However, additional grants could be made available for these cases. Remember, it's all the same pile of money.)
  • The bigger problem appears to be that publishers are unwilling to let go of their empires: Elsevier publishes over 1,500 journals, and makes a tidy profit doing so. Moving to a completely new model would be economically unstable to them, so they prefer to stick with the old system.
  • Publishers appear incapable of understanding that there are other ways of distributing information. I'd like to see some wikipedia-style journals, some efforts to peer-review blogs, and some other, more efficient models developed. While peer review is a very good idea that shouldn't be abandoned, it's not necessarily the only way to distribute reliable research results.

Another journal converts to OA

The Journal of Chiropractic Education has converted from TA to OA. JCE is the official journal of the Association of Chiropractic Colleges. (Thanks to Annietv600.)

PS:  I can't tell whether the new incarnation of JCE will charge author-side fees; the web site doesn't yet say.

OA to Spanish medical journals

M.F. Abad García, A. González Teruel, and C. Martínez Catalán, [Open Access and Spanish Medical Journals], Medicina Clínica, September 30, 2006.  The article is in Spanish and so far I only have this PubMed entry without an abstract.

Calling for an OA alternative to Library Journal

Getting Serious About an OA Journal for Librarians, The History Librarian, October 16, 2006.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  Excerpt:

Earlier today, Dorothea [Salo] posted about her experience publishing with Library Journal/Elsevier and more recently, Sarah expressed some distaste for publishing with LJ/Elsevier again in the future....

It’s time to think more seriously about this:  there needs to be an open access journal for librarians that can be the equivalent of Library Journal or better.  How many librarians have to rely on either American Libraries or Library Journal for their professional development?  How many are satisfied with this?

Now, I know that there are a number of open access journals that are related to librarianship, but I don’t think that many of them are widely read by librarians in the U.S. - at least, not the ones that relate to librarianship in general....

The case for valuing access more than usage

Jan Velterop, The use of usage, The Parachute, October 16, 2006. Excerpt:

...Suppose we can be confident that we understand the statistics [on journal usage], does usage determine the value of journals and articles in the first place? I’m aware of the adage publish or perish, but not of one that says read or rot or download or be damned. Isn’t the value therefore more in the availability of a publication than in its usage? Isn’t there a strong value element of ‘just-in-case’ in scientific literature (like the value of insurance – where you’d probably avoid actual ‘usage’)? ...

Isn’t it so that a manuscript with potentially interesting information is only made actually interesting if the outcome of a process of peer-review shows that it’s been formally accepted and acknowledged by the scientific community as worth adding to the body of literature, and labelled as such (with a journal imprimatur)? And isn’t there then more value in the label it carries (imprimatur, certification, however one calls it) than in the information itself (which may well already be out there in cyberspace and often is)? ...

As an information exchange, many journals may already have lost their role. The internet is definitely taking over. But ‘usage’ of a journal as a formal recording and validation service has not disappeared. Arguably, that service is more valuable now than ever, given the difficulty of establishing the integrity of information available on the web.

In my view that means that the economic underpinning of journals by placing a monetary value solely on download usage is outdated. Much of the monetary value should, instead, be placed on the service of formally publishing the material. In an ‘author-side-payment’ model that is explicitly the case and such a publishing model also means that open access, i.e. universal availability, can be the natural condition of the formal, officially published articles.

More on OA and peer review

Stevan Harnad, Premature Rejection Slip, Open Access Archivangelism, October 17, 2006. Excerpt:

Summary:  Richard Poynder's essay on peer review is thoughtful and stimulating but quite wrong! Peer review is like water-quality control: Everyone shouldn't have to risk doing it all for himself. (And it has nothing to do with OA, which is about making the filtered, quality-controlled water free for all.)

Comment. I read Richard's article differently.  As I read it, Richard never said that readers should have to do peer review on their own and neither did the open-review advocates whom he discussed without endorsing.  Nor did he find that OA intrinsically favored any particular model of peer review, as opposed to affording certain opportunities that some journals will seize and others will not.

Notes toward the Bangalore Commitment to OA

Stevan Harnad, The Bangalore Commitment: “Self-Archive Unto Others as You Would Have Others Self-Archive Unto You”, Open Access Archivangelism, October 16, 2006. Excerpt:
Summary:  There is no need for developing countries to wait for the developed countries to mandate Open Access (OA) self-archiving: They have more to gain because currently both their access and their impact is disproportionately low, relative to their actual and potential research productivity and influence. Lately there have been many abstract avowals of support for the Principle of OA, but what the world needs now is concrete commitments to its Practice. Under the guidance of India’s tireless OA advocate, Subbiah Arunachalam, there will be a two day workshop on research publication and OA at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore on November 2-3, at which the three most research-active developing countries – India, China and Brazil – will frame the “Bangalore Commitment”: a commitment to mandate OA self-archiving in their own respective countries and thereby set an example for emulation by the rest of the world.

OA to neuroscience literature

Alexei Koudinov and Svetlana Nekrasov, Developing Universal Open Access to Neuroscience Literature, a presentation at the Neuroscience 2006 conference (Atlanta, October 14-18, 2006).  Also see Alexei's blog notes on the presentation. 

New contributors to the Open Content Alliance

The Boston Library Consortium, Indiana University, University of Alberta, University of Georgia, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have joined the Open Content Alliance.

Monday, October 16, 2006

New "for authors" service at DOAJ

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is offering a new service.  (I forwarded the announcement to SOAF on Saturday but forgot to blog the news.)  The new "for authors" service lets authors look up journals by keywords and find both full OA journals and hybrid OA journals.  Even better, users can filter the results and choose to look only at the no-fee journals or the fee-based journals.

Comment.  This is a very useful new service.  Authors looking for journals that will offer OA to their articles will want to scan both the full and hybrid OA journals. 

It appears that only full OA journals, and no hybrids, appear in the main directory of OA journals.  I only tested it on a handful of hybrids, but the pattern seems to hold.  If true, this was the right decision.  Readers looking for OA literature will be more interested in full OA journals than hybrids; and if they want to look at the hybrids, they can use the new "for authors" service.

I just hope the DOAJ will stop calling the fee-based journals "author pays" journals.  Given the frequent availability of fee waivers and sponsors to pay on behalf of authors, the term "author pays" is false and misleading. 

Beyond citation counts to reading measurements

Donald W. King, Carol Tenopir, and Michael Clarke, Measuring Total Reading of Journal Articles, D-Lib Magazine, October 2006. Excerpt:

Abstract:   There have been hundreds, perhaps thousands, of studies of journal reading by professionals in such fields as science, engineering, medicine, law, social science and the humanities. These studies have been done for many reasons, including research to better understand professional communication patterns and the role this plays in their work. Some studies also focus on providing specific information to journal system participants such as publishers, librarians, other intermediaries and their funders. In this article we present a description of a little used but powerful method of observing reading by scientists. This method is designed to measure the amount of reading of specific journal articles and entire journals to complement exclusive observations of electronic journal hits and downloads, transaction logs, limited counts of citations to journals or articles and rough estimates of total amount of reading by professionals compared with total number of articles published.

From the body of the paper:

Results of the analysis in this article show that surveys involving amount of reading from Table-of-Contents complement other estimates of amount of reading of articles and journals, and overcome their flaws. However, with recent open access concerns with cost of publishing articles, this method provides a more accurate means of estimating the article (and journal) cost per reading. This information is important to publishers, libraries and their funders....

Making IRs indispensable to campus users

Tyler O. Walters, Strategies and Frameworks for Institutional Repositories and the New Support Infrastructure for Scholarly Communications, D-Lib Magazine, October 2006. Excerpt:

Institutional repositories (IRs) are proliferating as they become an indispensable component for information and knowledge sharing in the scholarly world. As their numbers increase worldwide, a new phase of IR development is emerging. Moving beyond their initial functions, IRs no longer serve solely as a place to store, organize, and access content. With rapidly changing technologies, users now desire and expect transportable content that can be utilized within various digital environments and reused in multiple formats, and they need forums for the rapid exchange of ideas with both on-campus and external communities. In response, universities and the libraries hosting IRs are looking for ways to weave their repositories into the "information fabric" of their campuses' academic and business processes and catalyze changes in scholarly communications more broadly.

This article will examine emerging IR developments and explore how IRs can help create a new infrastructure to support scholarly communications and digital research. The experiences of the Georgia Institute of Technology (GT) Library and Information Center while building its IR, SMARTech, and designing related services will be reviewed as an exemplar university....

Under this program, the Digital Initiatives Work Group began to provide technical support services to produce traditional scholarly communications in digital form. Initially, the Group worked to:...Provide technology/production support services to create open access e-journals and other e-publications, providing preservation and accessibility via SMARTech....

Harvesting metadata records containing "asset actions"

Robert Chavez and six co-authors, DLF-Aquifer Asset Actions Experiment: Demonstrating Value of Actionable URLs, D-Lib Magazine, October 2006.
Abstract:   Metadata records harvested using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) are often characterized by scarce, inconsistent and ambiguous resource URLs. There is a growing recognition among OAI service providers that this can create access problems and can limit range of services offered. This article reports on an experiment carried out by the Digital Library Federation (DLF) Aquifer Technology/Architecture Working Group to demonstrate the utility of harvestable metadata records that include multiple typed actionable URLs ("asset actions"). The experiment dealt specifically with digital image resources. By having for all images a consistent set of well-labeled URLs (e.g., pointing to thumbnails, in-context presentations of images on data provider's Website, or medium and high resolution views), the service provider was able to insure consistent results across repositories of content from multiple institutions. With predictable retrieval, advanced features such as thumbnail result displays, image annotation and manipulation, and advanced book bag functions are possible. It was even possible to overlay for use with this widely dispersed content a locally developed digital object collector tool from the University of Virginia. Results illustrate the potential of asset actions and support the need for further work at the community level to define and model actionable URLs for different classes of resources, and to develop agreements on how to label and convey these URLs in concert with descriptive metadata.

Deepening repository interoperability

Herbert Van de Sompel and five co-authors, An Interoperable Fabric for Scholarly Value Chains, D-Lib Magazine,  October 2006.

Abstract:   This article describes an interoperability fabric among a wide variety of heterogeneous repositories holding managed collections of scholarly digital objects. These digital objects are considered units of scholarly communication, and scholarly communication is seen as a global, cross-repository workflow. The proposed interoperability fabric includes a shared data model to represent digital objects, a common format to serialize those objects into network-transportable surrogates, three core repository interfaces that support surrogates (obtain, harvest, put) and some shared infrastructure. This article also describes an experiment implementing an overlay journal in which this interoperability fabric was tested across four different repository architectures (aDORe, arXiv, DSpace, Fedora). We detail the implementation choices made in the course of this experiment.

From the body of the paper:

[I]t is possible to build scholarly value chains across heterogeneous, distributed repositories by introducing an interoperability fabric consisting of a shared data model for the representation of digital objects, a format to serialize digital objects into surrogates compliant with that data model, three core repository interfaces (obtain, harvest, put) that support surrogates, and some shared infrastructure. And, through the introduction of a repository-centric identification approach combined with a lineage concept, it has also shown that it is possible to record audit trails of scholarly value chains into the very foundation of the scholarly communication system. 

This work reflects growing interest in the notion of repository federation. Related work such as the CORDRA effort, the Chinese DSpace Federation, and the Dutch DARE project also suggest that object re-use across various contexts is achievable through the introduction of a shared interoperable layer. The recent "Augmenting Interoperability" meeting...further demonstrates the growing interest in leveraging the intrinsic value of scholarly digital objects beyond the borders of the hosting repository.

We believe that interest in this type of federation is sufficiently strong to move beyond prototypes and to support an effort to formally specify this next level of interoperability across repositories. Such an effort would help realize the vision of a natively digital, repository-centric scholarly communication system. Through the support of the Mellon Foundation a two-year international initiative to define this interoperability fabric has started in October 2006. The initiative is aptly named Object Reuse and Exchange (ORE), and it is coordinated by Carl Lagoze and Herbert Van de Sompel. In the same manner that work on the OAI-PMH began, this initiative will start with the appointment of an international advisory board and technical committee.

PS:  For more background, see the ORE announcement from last Friday.

A nuanced look at OA and peer review

Richard Poynder, Open Access: death knell for peer review? Open and Shut, October 15, 2006. Another superbly detailed study by Richard.  This excerpt only scratches the surface:

A frequent criticism of Open Access (OA) is that it will lead to the traditional peer review process being abandoned, with scientific papers simply thrown on to the Web without being subjected to any quality control or independent assessment. Is this likely? If so, would it matter?

The argument that OA threatens peer review is most often made by scientific publishers. They do so, argue OA advocates, not out of any genuine concern, but in the hope that by alarming people they can ward off the growing calls for research funders to introduce mandates requiring that all the research they fund is made freely available on the Internet....Whatever the truth, there is no doubt that STM publishers are currently very keen to derail initiatives like the US Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA)...a primary reason [they]  give for their opposition to such initiatives is that it would "adversely impact the existing peer review system." ...

Since both methods [publishing in an OA journal and self-archiving a postprint published in a TA journal]...require that papers are peer reviewed, OA advocates point out, publisher claims that making research OA necessitates foregoing the peer review process is factually inaccurate.
And while it is true that some researchers also post their preprints in IRs prior to having them peer reviewed, they add, this is done solely in order to make their research available more quickly, not to avoid peer review....

There is, however, a second strand to publishers' claims that OA threatens peer review. If OA is forced on them, they say, they will not be able to survive financially, either because they will discover that there is no stable long-term business model for OA publishing, or because the increasing number of papers researchers post in institutional repositories will cause academic institutions to cancel their journal subscriptions. This poses a threat to peer review, they add, since if publishers exit the market there will be no one left to manage the process.

However, these claims are also rejected by OA advocates, who argue that most publishers have already accommodated themselves to self-archiving. Indeed, they add, there is no indication at all that self-archiving negatively impacts journal subscriptions....

The problem for OA that [experiments with open review at Nature, PLoS ONE, Philica, and Naboj] are complicating an already confused picture, and leading to a great deal of misunderstanding about the relationship between OA and peer review.

The consequences of this were amply demonstrated at the beginning of October, when an Associated Press news story about PLoS ONE and Philica was published. As is usual with AP stories, the article was syndicated to multiple newspapers — and with every republication the headlines became increasingly alarmist.  The Desert Sun, for instance, reprinted the article with the headline and subtitle: "Online journals threaten scientific review system: Internet sites publishing studies with little or no scrutiny by peers"; The Gainesville Sun, published it with the headline, "Online publishing a threat to peer review"; and The Monterey Herald went with: "Academic journals bypass peers, go to Web."

"Is this routine editorial carelessness or spreading paranoia?" asked OA advocate Peter Suber exasperatedly on his blog.
The answer, perhaps, is a bit of both. Certainly, the spreading confusion is a boon to publishers bent on killing the various proposals intended to make OA mandatory — since it is causing many to conclude that OA represents a serious threat to the scientific process.

The paranoia reached a peak when the AP article attracted the attention of Harvard's college newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, which responded by publishing a muddle-headed editorial called "Keep Science in Print"....Unfortunately, pointed out Suber, The Harvard Crimson editorial was seriously flawed, failing on at least two important counts. "First, it confuses open review with non-review. Second, it assumes that all online-only journals (open access and subscription-based) use open review — i.e. that traditional peer review requires print."

For those impatient to see OA prevail, the spreading confusion is very frustrating. What OA advocates therefore need to do, suggests Harnad, is insist on keeping discussions about reforming peer review separate from the debate about OA. So while agreeing that peer review "can be made more effective and efficient", Harnad insists that any discussion about reforming it "should not be mixed up with — or allowed to get in the way of — OA, which is free access to the peer-reviewed literature we have, such as it is."
Conflation, however, seems inevitable — not just because the public is confused, but because, as Suber recently pointed out, "there are a lot of exciting synergies to explore between OA and different models of peer review." A good example of the way in which these are being explored at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, he added, was mentioned by Herbert Van de Sompel during the Nature debate on peer review....

This was a point made by Andrew Odlyzko, a mathematician who heads the University of Minnesota's Digital Technology Centre, in a recent response to Harnad on the American Scientist Open Access Forum. "I think you go too far by denying that Open Access has anything to do with peer review," he said. "For many (including myself), Open Access is (among other things) a facilitator of the evolution towards an improved peer review system."...

CC needs your support

Creative Commons has launched its second annual fund-raising campaign. From the CC blog:

This year's campaign boasts multiple ways to support CC. You can show your support directly - by making a donation and/or purchasing CC swag at our online store; or indirectly - by including a "Support CC 2006" button in your website, blog, etc. This year, we are offering a new T-shirt, new and improved vinyl stickers and hipster buttons. Check out the options at our new support pages....

For those of you who gave last year and wonder what your support achieved, below is a very brief overview:...

  • From January 2006 to July 2006 there was a growth from 40,000,000 to 140,000,000 linkbacks to our licenses!
  • Creative Commons licenses were ported and launched in Bulgaria, Malaysia, Denmark, Mexico, Peru, Mainland China, Colombia and Malta.
  • We initiated discussions about Version 3.0 of our licenses. The proposed Version 3.0 amendments clarify aspects of our licenses in response to important community feedback and, significantly, spin-off a US license and a treaty-based international license....
  • ccPublisher 2.2 was refined and now has the capacity to make it easier for repository operators other than the Internet Archive to develop a customized version of ccPublisher that will upload works to another repository for hosting Creative Commons licensed work. There are currently 5 translations of ccPublisher that were developed by some of our volunteer international supporters - we can never thank you enough.
  • In June 2006 Microsoft released a Creative Commons plug-in that can be downloaded and gives users of their Microsoft Office Suite the ability to CC-license their Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents....

PS: Please support this good cause if you can.

Martin Richardson on Oxford's OA experiments

KnowledgeSpeak has interviewed Martin Richardson, Managing Director of Oxford Journals. Excerpt:

Q:  What are the key insights that you have gained from your experimentations on publishing models and open access? Will the findings from these experimentations have any impact on your current business model? If yes, in what ways?

A:  With our open access experiments, we set out to provide data for a robust analysis of the consequences of adopting open access business models. We’ve launched a number of different models, including full open access with Nucleic Acids Research, sponsored open access (Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine), and optional open access for 49 journals through Oxford Open.
Three recent studies looking at the impact of open access on our authors, usage, and citations (see [our] report), have shown that immediate open access does seem to help increase usage, but also that the increase is not as high as may have been expected. In fact, there may be several factors driving up online usage, including the impact of search engines, so open access may be just a small factor. It’s still far too early to see the long term effects of open access on usage from these experiments, and much more data need to be collected. We will continue to report our findings in 2007.

We also published results from the first full year of Oxford Open in July. The journals taking part in the initiative represent a wide range of subject areas, and the level of interest in ‘author-pays’ open access models varies tremendously between disciplines, from ~10% of authors selecting the open access option in the Life Sciences, compared with ~5% in medicine and public health, and ~3% in the humanities and social sciences. A few life science titles in the areas of molecular and computational biology have seen up to 20% uptake, and in recognition of this, the 2007 subscription prices for these titles have been adjusted to reflect the expected proportion of open access content in the future.

These results show that while open access is beginning to be embraced in some subject areas, the level of uptake is generally quite low, and it is therefore likely that open access will be only one of a range of models that will be necessary to support the requirements of different research communities. We will continue to monitor uptake in 2007, and to share the results of our experiments with the community to help develop a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of open access and subscription-based business models....

Comment. To be precise, the low uptake Oxford has experienced in some fields is for fee-based OA, not for OA itself. 

Copyright reform in Australia

The Australian government has proposed some copyright reforms that will benefit research and education, for example, by permitting circumvention and widening the fair-dealing exception for universities and libraries. The content industry interest-group, Copyright Agency Limited, is fighting back. (Thanks to CAUL.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Position statement on open chemistry

Chemists Without Borders has adopted an Open Chemistry Position Statement, October 12, 2006. (Thanks to Heather Morrison.) Excerpt:

Within the vision of Chemists Without Borders, Open Access to the traditional scholarly, peer-reviewed journal literature is the library, a global library with equal access to our shared knowledge for all. Open Access is necessary to development of equitable access to chemistry education and research opportunities in both the developed and developing world. Chemists Without Borders strongly supports Open Access, as defined in the Budapest, Berlin, and Bethesda statements, and the measures necessary to implement open access, such as funding agencies requiring open access to the results of the research they fund, and educating researchers about Open Access.

Open Source Science promises more rapid advances in research through open sharing of research information at all stages of the research process. Open Source Science means more opportunities for collaboration, whether to facilitate Chemists Without Borders projects or provide researchers with more opportunities for participation in international research collaborations. Chemists Without Borders strongly supports Open Source Science within the context of Open Access....

Open Access to the traditional scholarly, peer-reviewed journal literature advances the vision of Chemists Without Borders in several ways. Indeed, with respect to this literature, open access epitomizes Chemistry Literature Without Borders, as it means equal, barrier-free access to scholarly knowledge for everyone, everywhere....

There are many approaches to the sharing of scientific information throughout the research process; Chemists Without Borders encourages experimentation with approaches that meet the criteria of open access along with open source....

PS:  For background, see the first and second drafts.

Why astronomy is unique

Stevan Harnad, The Special Case of Astronomy, Open Access Archivangelism, October 14, 2006. Excerpt:
Summary:  Astronomy is unusual among research fields in that all research-active astronomers already have full online access to all relevant journal articles via institutional subscriptions (because astronomy has only a small closed circle of core journals). Many astronomy articles are also self-archived as preprints prior to peer review and publication, but usage all shifts to the published version as soon as it is available. Self-archiving, even where it is at or near 100%, has no effect at all on subscriptions or cancellations. The Open Access (OA) citation advantage hence reduces to merely an "Early Access Advantage" in astronomy, because all postprints are accessible to everyone. There is also the much-reported positive correlation between the citation counts of articles and the proportion of them that were self-archived. This is no doubt partly a self-selection effect or "Quality Bias" -- with the better articles more likely to be self-archived. But this is unlikely to be all or most of the source of the OA advantage even in astronomy -- let alone in most other fields, where the postprints are not all accessible to all active researchers. The most important component of the OA advantage in general is that OA removes the access and usage barriers that prevent the better work from having its full potential impact (Quality Advantage). In astronomy, where those access barriers hardly exist, there is still a measurable OA advantage, but mostly just because of Early Advantage (and self-selection). With all postprints accessible, Competitive Advantage is restricted to the prepublication phase; Usage Advantage (downloads) can be estimated: downloads are doubled by universal online accessibility. And the Quality Advantage no doubt persists (though it is difficult to estimate independently).

What's holding back the OA policy at the SSHRC?

Stevan Harnad, Canada's SSHRC Just Keeps Spinning Its Wheels, Open Access Archivangelism, October 14, 2006. Excerpt:

Comments on Richard Akerman's blogged notes on David Moorman's SSHRC talk at Institutional Repositories: The Next Generation (Ottawa, October 10, 2006)

"SSHRC has embraced OA in principle, but [it's] a big challenge going from principle to action"
Five out of the eight UK Research Councils (BBSRC, CCLRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC) nevertheless seem to have managed to go from principle to action...
"Does SSHRC have a policy? No. There is more to this than just mandating OA."
Four out of the eight UK Research Councils (BBSRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC) nevertheless seem to have managed to mandate it, and Canada's CIHR seems to have managed to propose to mandate it...
"Figure out how to support OA journals. Conducting experiments to figure out best approach."
Why is SSHRC fussing about supporting OA journals instead of mandating the self-archiving of SSHRC research output? Is SSHRC a research funder or a journal funder? The OA mandate pertains to the former, not the latter: to maximizing the access and impact of SSHRC research output, not to the budgeting of SSHRC's journal subsidies. Journals SSHRC may happen to be subsidising have nothing to do with the mandate in question....

"grant[s] can't have post-award conditions, e.g. can't require article deposit"

Nonsense. If publishing the research in a peer-reviewed journal can be a grant fulfillment condition, so can self-archiving the article....