Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Making medical information more accessible

Adam Bosworth, Health care information matters, Google blog, November 30, 2006.  Bosworth is the Vice President of Google.  Excerpt:

At Google, we often get questions about what we're doing in the area of health. I have been interested in the issues of health care and health information for a while. It is now one of my main focuses here, and I've decided to start posting about it.   I've been motivated in this field in part by my personal experiences helping to care for my mother, who recently died from cancer after a four-year battle....[I]t was incredibly challenging to get the right information and help her make the right decisions. Often the health care system isn't well set up to address these issues. I believe our industry can help resolve some of these problems and ameliorate others.

In the end, one key part of the solution to these problems is a better educated patient. If patients understand their diseases better -- the symptoms, the treatments, the drugs, and the side effects, they are likely to get better and quicker care -- before, during, and after treatment....

Using the Google Co-op platform, Google and the health community have labeled sites and pages across the web making it easier for users to refine their health queries and locate the medical information they need. Do a search on Google about a medical issue or treatment like diabetes or Lipitor and you'll see some choices for refining your query, such as "symptoms," "treatments," and so on. If you click on "treatment," your search results are refined and reordered so that sites that have been labeled as being about treatment by trusted health community contributors are boosted in the rankings. Note that how trusted a contributor is --and thus how much they affect your search results-- is dependent both on Google's algorithms and on who the user decides they trust. For example, if my doctor is a Google Co-op contributor and I indicate to Google that I trust her, then when I search, the sites she has labeled as relevant will show up higher in my search results.

This is just the beginning of what our industry can do. People need the medical information that is out there and available to be organized and made accessible to all. Which happens to be our mission. Health information should be easier to access and organize....

We don't have any products or services to announce yet and may not for quite some time, but we thought we'd share a bit about the problems we're interested in helping out on even before we introduce solutions. As we explore these problems and continue to work on them, we hope to share more about our efforts along the way. Your help is welcome and, of course, if you're an extraordinary engineer with a passion in this field, we'd love to hear from you. Write to us at

PS:  I've written to Google, suggesting ways that it could help provide open access to medical research.

December SOAN

I just mailed the December issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue offers my predictions for 2007 and takes a close look at how the US mid-term election may affect OA. The Top Stories section takes a brief look at the CERN project to convert particle physics journals to OA, two major OA initiatives from India, two recommendations for OA mandates in Australia, the INSPIRE compromise in the EU, and the AAA decision to disband the AnthroSource Steering Committee for endorsing FRPAA. I'm continuing the Round-up experiment for another month, briefly recapitulating the OA developments from the past month not covered in the other stories.

Art museum drops reproduction fees for scholarly uses

Martin Bailey, V&A to scrap academic reproduction fees, The Art Newspaper, December 1, 2006.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  Excerpt:

In a move which could transform art publishing, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (V&A) is to drop charges for the reproduction of images in scholarly books and magazines. Reproduction costs now often make it difficult to publish specialist art historical material. The new scheme will come into effect early next year.

The V&A is believed to be the first museum anywhere in the world which is to offer images free of copyright and administrative charges. It also intends to take a “liberal” view on what should be deemed scholarly or educational. The new arrangements will normally apply to all books published by university presses. Free images will also be available for exhibition catalogues and journals such as Apollo and The Burlington.

Reproduction fees currently bring in just over £250,000 a year for the V&A, and it is estimated that around half this sum will be lost. However, administering the system eats into the profits, so the real loss is much less. Under the new scheme, publishers will be able to download images directly from the internet. Commercial publications will continue to be charged.

The V&A feels that it is important that readers see images of items in the collection, helping to fulfil its educational role and raise its profile internationally....

OA is here to stay

Paul Hutchings, Open Access now Openly Accepted, Kindle Research, December 1, 2006.  Excerpt:

There has been a sea change in attitudes to Open Access - using the internet to make scholarly research freely available.

At yesterday’s Online conference I was presenting findings from a study of NIH authors (slides and script) that makes clear their concerns about Open Access. My fellow speakers, both from publishers, had already taken a lot of these on board. Jan Velterop of Springer steered a reasonable argument between the science interests of scholarly communication and the ability of publishers to continue facilitating it, while Paul Peters of Hindawi Publishing showed that Open Access actually worked in the favour of smaller publishers like Hindawi.

It is now generally accepted that Open Access is here to stay and groups are concentrating on how to turn it to their advantage.

Guidelines to implement the Internet Manifesto support OA

IFLA and UNESCO have published the IFLA/UNESCO Internet Manifesto Guidelines (dated September 2006 but apparently released this week).  The new guidelines will help libraries implement IFLA's 2002 Internet Manifesto.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  Excerpt:

The IFLA Internet Manifesto was endorsed by the Council of IFLA in 2002. Since then it has been translated into 19 languages and adopted by library associations in 27 countries....[It describes shared values on the] freedom of access to information on the Internet.... The Internet Manifesto Guidelines are specific to Internet access programmes in libraries, and concern service policies and procedures that will lead to the implementation of the Internet Manifesto's values in everyday library work....

Alternatives to established norms are also springing up, such as new copyright frameworks like Creative Commons, a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative work available for others legally to build upon and share. Different forms of academic information sharing such as open access are complementing this movement, and underpinning the new emphasis on common resources is open source software, a movement with real potential to shift more power and decision making into the hands of individuals....

Whilst respecting existing intellectual property rights, librarians should encourage open access approaches to the provision of local content, on the basis of creative commons principles....

More on OARE

Barbara Brynko, The Spirit of Giving, Information Today, December 2006.  Excerpt:

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Yale University, and a host of leading science and technology publishers have created a way to bridge the scientific gap between the developed and the developing world with Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE), a new digital Internet library. Through this program, more than 100 developing nations will be able to access one of the world’s biggest collections of scholarly environmental literature at little or no cost. The annual subscriptions to the journals in this collection have the estimated value of nearly $1 million....

More than 200 international scientific publishers, societies, and associations have agreed to participate. Each of the more than 1,500 institutions (both public and nonprofit) that are eligible for OARE will have access to journals ranging from environmental chemistry and botany to urban planning and geology, which will be available through a portal in English, Spanish, and French....

“Working on such a project is both heartwarming and heartbreaking,” according to [Kimberly Parker, head of online collections for Yale University Library], who reported that with current access in many third-world countries, it may take up to 4 hours to download a single article. “But the project trainers in the field reported that even after waiting patiently for 4 hours, the scientist at the other end was thrilled to get the paper [and] share it with his colleagues, so he could continue with his research,” said Parker....

Progress on the World Digital Library

UNESCO and US Library of Congress host meeting on World Digital Library project, a press release from UNESCO, December 1, 2006.  Excerpt:

UNESCO and the Library of Congress will host today at UNESCO Paris Headquarters a meeting to pave the way for the launch of a World Digital Library, an internet-based repository of knowledge from all cultures and in all languages....It will be chaired by Claudia Lux, President-elect of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).

Other participants include representatives of national libraries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America. They will review major national and regional digital library initiatives already underway and discuss how these initiatives might relate to a World Digital Library....

The World Digital Library is to be developed in cooperation with UNESCO and other libraries and cultural institutions from around the world with the aim of promoting international and inter-cultural understanding, expanding non-English and non-Western content on the Internet, and contributing to scholarship.

The project will focus on digitizing unique and rare material and making it available freely on the Internet. This material is to include manuscripts, maps, books, musical scores, sound recordings, films, prints and photographs, and architectural drawings from libraries and other cultural institutions around the world....

Open Courseware is a worldwide movement

Jeffrey Thomas, Online Materials Broadening Global Access to Education, US Info (from the US Department of State), December 1, 2006.  Excerpt:

When the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced in 2001 that it was planning to offer free online access to educational materials from hundreds of its course offerings, the university in Cambridge said it hoped its OpenCourseWare (OCW) Web site would inspire other educational institutions to help create a “worldwide web of knowledge that will benefit humanity.”

Judging by the enthusiastic worldwide response to MIT’s gesture, the university appears five years later to be leading an international movement that is affecting education on every continent. Twelve U.S. educational institutions currently are participating in what has become an international consortium comprising more than 50 institutions in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America....

Friday, December 01, 2006

Emergency medicine researchers favor OA

R. M. Rodriguez and three co-authors, An evaluation of emergency medicine investigators’ views on open access to medical literature, Emergency Medicine Journal, December 2006.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far

Background: Scientists and governmental agencies have called for free universal access to research publications via the internet—open access.

Objectives: To examine the current medical literature reading practices of emergency medicine investigators (EMIs) and their views towards open access.

Methods: Surveys were mailed to the 212 corresponding authors of all original research articles published in years 2002 and 2003 in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, Academic Emergency Medicine and The Journal of Emergency Medicine.

Results: The most commonly read forms of medical literature reported by the 129 (61%) EMI respondents were hard-copy medical journals and online literature review services. 59% of EMIs were in favour of open access; 58% stated they would read a wider variety of medical literature; 21% believed open access would improve the quality of publications and 39% thought it would decrease the quality. When asked how a US$1500 fee for open access would affect their ability to publish research, 69% said it would greatly impede and 19% said it would slightly impede their research.

Conclusions: Despite concerns that open access may impede their ability to publish research and decrease the quality of publications, most EMIs surveyed favoured open access. They believed open access would increase and broaden their medical literature reading.

Two publishers defend OA

Don Hawkins, Open Access From the Publisher's Viewpoint, InfoToday blog, November 30, 2006.  Excerpt:

Much has been said about open access (OA) in the past couple of years, with a large part of the debate from the viewpoint of the author or reader. So I was particularly interested in two presentations discussing OA from the other participants —the publishers. Jan Velterop, formerly at BioMedCentral and now Director of OA at Springer, represented a large publisher, and Paul Peters, Sr. Director of Publishing at Hindawi Publishing Corporation in Egypt, represented a smaller publisher....

Velterop...noted that the value of publishing lies in the content, and the old subscription model of journal publishing (the only reasonable model in a print world) implies selling content. Some publishers think that OA undermines their rights, but publishers only have rights to content if they have been given to them, which is the usual case when an author transfers copyright to a publisher (a requirement for publishing). Velterop thinks that publishers should come to the conclusion that OA is a good thing, and then focus our energy on how to achieve it....

Peters presented a strong case for OA as a benefit to scientific publishers. In his view, it has three compelling advantages:

  1. Launching new journals and expanding existing titles becomes much easier under the OA model. In the subscription world, increasing the size means increasing the price, which will lead to some cancellations. In an OA world, journal prices do not change when sizes are increased. By their nature, subscription barriers limit the distribution of an article, which in today’s Internet environment is a huge disadvantage. For established journals a publisher’s limited page budget can cause lengthy publication delays. OA journals can immediately publish an article as soon as it is ready.
  2. OA attracts authors because of its faster publication speeds. Attracting strong authors is the key to creating strong journals.
  3. OA increases competition in the market. Smaller publishers cannot compete in the current subscription market because many journals have a monopoly on their content. The lack of competition makes it difficult for smaller publishers to gain an edge. If authors have to pay the publication cost of their articles from a research budget, they are far more likely to consider the subscription price of a journal when deciding where to publish. If they publish in an OA journal, authors can be sure their article will be widely available, even if they submit it to a less prestigious journal.

In the subscription world, size of the publisher makes a big difference in its ability to compete. Promoting a small collection of journals to potential subscribers can be prohibitively expensive. Many small publishers must rely on word of mouth to increase their base of subscribers, but in an OA world, the author becomes the publisher’s sole customer so it can focus on services provided to the author.

I found it encouraging that these two speakers both presented a good case for publisher support of OA. Maybe there is hope yet that OA will become a widely accepted business model in the scholarly publishing world.

OA in India

Leila Fernandez, Open Access Initiatives in India - an Evaluation, Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research,  1,1 (2006).  Excerpt:

Abstract:   Developing countries have embraced open access with a view to promoting visibility of research done in these regions. Open access initiatives described in this paper are based on interviews with information professionals responsible for creation and maintenance of online research repositories in India. Open access journals, e-print archives and e-theses repositories are covered with an emphasis on the sciences including the physical sciences, mathematics and the biomedical sciences. Existing repositories were identified from the Registry of Open Access Repositories....Key contacts were facilitated by well-known local open access advocates. Participants were contacted by e-mail and sites visited wherever possible. Many universities in India are at present lacking in infrastructure for establishing institutional repositories, so most of the institutions visited were research institutes and informatics centres. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to ascertain the background of participants, institutional culture, software selection, nature of funding, submission policies and future plans of these repositories. Also covered were promotion methods, user feedback and institutional support. Barriers to setting up institutional repositories are identified in this paper. Special features are described. Based on participant feedback a list of best practices is presented. The study has definite implications for the role of Canadian librarians in the promotion of Canadian research.

OA library journal walks the walk

Jennifer Richard, Welcome to Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research,  1,1 (2006).  The editorial in a new OA journal.  Excerpt:

Our philosophy guarantees rigorous peer review and high standards for both theoretical and practical articles which are made freely and immediately available to everyone. No embargoes! The founding members of the editorial board and the Partnership Board were adamant about open access; so much so that many were not willing to support the journal if it was not truly open access. If librarians can talk the talk we have to be prepared to walk the walk and that’s what we’ve done with this journal.

Milestone for India's NIO repository

India's National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) has reached the 500th full-text deposit in its institutional repository.  For details see today's announcement.

Two OA journals for two Chinese societies

BioMed Central has recently launched peer-reviewed OA journals for two Chinese scientific societies.

House Dems try to save the EPA libraries

Yesterday the Democratic leadership of the House Science Committee issued a press release on the closing of the EPA libraries.  Excerpt:

In an ongoing effort to protect and preserve the vast environmental resources of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prominent House leaders today called on the agency to immediately stop efforts to close libraries across the country pending a review by Congress.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, Ranking Members Reps. Bart Gordon (D-TN), John Dingell (D-MI), Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) and James Oberstar (D-MN) expressed their serious concerns over the current implementation of "library reorganization" plans and the "destruction or disposition" of library holdings.

"It is imperative that the valuable government information maintained by EPA's libraries be preserved," wrote the Ranking Members.

This letter to the Administrator follows-up on a successful effort earlier this fall by the Congressmen to initiate a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation of current EPA actions regarding their libraries and informational resources....The GAO has begun its review. 

As noted in their letter to the Administrator, the EPA is closing libraries and dispersing resources in accordance with an Administration budget directive that has neither been approved nor formally enacted by Congress. 

Implementation of the library reorganization is proceeding at a rapid pace.  Reports of the library closures, information destruction, and property auctions continue to surface despite the objections to the plan raised by EPA professional staff, EPA employee union representatives and the American Library Association....

Also see the press release from the American Library Association praising the Science Committee letter. 

Walt Crawford on OA

Walt Crawford is soliciting feedback on how much he should continue to cover "Library Access to Scholarship" (mostly OA) in his newsletter, Cites & Insights

PS:  In January 2004 Walt announced that he was scaling back his OA coverage in part because I did it so well.  Fortunately he continued, even if he did scale back, and now he's raising the same question again, in part for the same reason.  My feeling is the same as it was then.  There are two reasons why my voice shouldn't exclude his:  he's good at this (see some examples) and we don't always agree.  Drop him a line and encourage him to keep it up. 

New blog on ETDs

An anonymous academic librarian in Belgium has launched a new blog on ETDs (electronic theses and dissertations), focusing on "recent free access publications" about them.  Welcome to another blog on OA.

UCI joins the Open Courseware Consortium

The University of California at Irvine has joined the Open Courseware Consortium.  For details, see yesterday's announcement.

New OA journal on the anthropology of religion

Anpere: Anthropological Perspectives on Religion is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal.  It publishes in English, Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian and apparently charges no author-side fees.  (Thanks to

OA for human welfare

Gavin Yamey and Calestous Juma, Improving Human Welfare: The Crucial Role of Open AccessScience Editor 29, 5 (2006) pp. 163-165.  Self-archived November 30, 2006.

Abstract:   Developing countries are increasingly improving their capacity to use scientific and technical knowledge to solve local problems. They are investing in communication infrastructure and improving technology policies. For such measures to be effective, those countries also need greater access to the world’s pool of knowledge.

Restrictions on access to scientific and health information are hindering progress, particularly in the world’s least-developed countries, and are impeding efforts toward global development. Essential information is locked away behind such barriers as journal subscription charges or individual article download fees. Journal articles are typically subject to restrictive copyright licenses that prevent reproduction, distribution, translation, or the creation of derivative works, all of which would help published work to be used for innovation. These restrictions are compounded by infrastructure inadequacies and lack of incentives for increasing the use of scientific and technologic knowledge in solving challenges in developing countries.

India should mandate OA to publicly-funded research

Subbiah Arunachalam, A Perspective on Open Access Publishing, Biobytes, December 2006.  Excerpt:

Much of research in India in the fields of science, technology, agriculture, medicine, social sciences, economics, etc. is funded out of taxpayers' money. A few years ago, a DST report quoted a figure of about 75% for the share of publicly funded scientific research. However the findings of these research programmes, usually in the form of research papers published in refereed journals, is not easily accessible even to Indian scientists at large let alone the public....[N]o library in India or for that matter anywhere in the world can afford to subscribe to all the journals [in which Indian scientists publish]. Also, some journal publishers fix their subscription prices at astronomical levels.

As a consequence research published by scientists at the Tuberculosis Research Centre in Chennai, which would be of great relevance to researchers say in a university in Maharashtra, may not be even noticed by the university scientists. Both groups receive funds from the same source, viz. the Indian Government, and yet what one does is not easily accessible to the other. What is more it need not be. The authors at the Tuberculosis research Institute may publish their papers in any journal they want to. But if, at the same time, they also place the papers in an interoperable institutional open access archive (or repository) anyone with an Internet connection can access it. This is precisely why enlightened institutions such as the Indian Academy of Sciences and the Indian Institute of Science are subscribing to the idea of open access. All eleven Academy journals are open access. Anyone anywhere in the world can access any paper published in these journals - full text and not just abstracts - through the Internet. The Indian Institute of Science is maintaining an open access repository of full text papers and they are on their way to placing every paper published by the IISc faculty and students in this repository. Currently they have more than 5,000 papers....But a vast majority of Indian scientists are not making their papers available via open access.

What can we the common people, the taxpaying public, do? Well in the USA they have an organization called the Alliance for Taxpayer Access....They have over 75 institutional members and they are fighting for open access to all publicly funded research. Through their advocacy, the Alliance members hope to change not only the US policy but also the attitude and behaviour of individual scientists.

Enlightened Indians in all walks of life could form a national organization similar to the US Alliance for Taxpayer Access and persuade the government to mandate open access all research publications resulting from public funding. The Alliance could write to major funding agencies and apex bodies (such as DST, DSIR, ICAR, ICMR, DAE, DRDO, Dept of Space, Department of Ocean development, UGC, etc.), the Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister and the science academies and professional societies urging them to adopt a comprehensive open access policy in India. In the US a bill is at an advanced stage of discussion in the Congress and in the UK six of the eight Research Councils have already announced their support to open access. The Wellcome Trust, one of the largest funder of life science research has mandated OA for all papers resulting from their support. Surely we in India can open up the scientific and scholarly literature.

PS:  Unfortunately the URL Arun used in the article for the ATA doesn't work.  I've replaced it with the correct URL

German journal publishes a special issue on OA

The current issue of Wissenschaftsmanagement is devoted to open access.  It contains 18 short articles, all but one in German.  Annette Schavan, Germany's Federal Minister for Science, wrote the editorial.  Most of the articles describe the OA activities of major German institutions like the Fraunhofer Society, the German Rectors' Conference, the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, and the Max Planck Society.  The one English-language article in the issue is "Open Science for an Open Society" (p. 22) by Ulf Dahlsten, Directorate General for the Information Society and Media European Commission.  (Thanks to Georg Botz.)

Free market principles to improve access rather than block it

John Sulston, Free market must serve, not restrain, research, Financial Times, November 30, 2006.  Sulston won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2002 and works actively for open access and open data.  Excerpt:

...[A] truly free market is not easy to achieve. It requires that participants have reasonably equal access to knowledge and opportunity. This does not come about simply by the removal of regulation. In science, as in business, there must be structures that ensure the well endowed do not use their position to block competition. In science this means that publication of papers, which are the tangible measures of achievement, should be accompanied by the open release of all information and materials required for the reported research, so that others may build on the work rather than needlessly duplicate it.

Since the end of the cold war and the subsequent triumphalism in the west, these principles have been under attack. “Free” is increasingly interpreted to mean unbridled competition, whether between individuals, companies or nations. This change is having its effect on science. Public companies are obliged to their shareholders to pursue maximum profitability. The disadvantage of depending on the free market for research and development is that areas that do not have the potential to yield financial return are neglected. Such areas are extensive in human health. Ninety per cent of the disease burden of humanity is served by less than 10 per cent of biomedical spending....

The persistence of this huge wealth gap is a tragedy. International relations are run on extremely competitive lines. When the EU or the US fails to get its way in trade negotiations they bypass the multilateral solution in favour of so called free trade areas. This is imperialism by another name. All the bilateral agreements of the US, for example, have included intellectual property clauses that favour its industries. The consequence is a race to the ethical bottom in trading standards....

There are serious consequences to acquiescing in this. Inability to work in certain areas, such as neglected diseases, is one. There are the restraints on data sharing, which is the essential foundation of science – for it is this rich medium that nourishes the shoots of future development. In the international consortium for sequencing the human genome we fought hard to keep the data open and were successful. Others are not faring so well. In both proteomics and meteorology, commercial considerations impede the open access that is needed for fields to move ahead. Another example is the practice of pharmaceutical companies manipulating data from drug trials....

More on the Medical R&D Treaty

Martin Enserink, WHO Panel Weighs Radical Ideas, Science Magazine, December 1, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

Lifesaving antiretroviral drugs have been available for a decade in wealthy countries, yet millions of HIV-infected people south of the equator still can’t get them. The medicine cupboard is equally bare for people afflicted by tropical illnesses such as visceral leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness, and Chagas disease, for which there are no truly good therapies. Western medical science has not done well by the world’s poor, and some critics blame this on its reverence for intellectual property (IP). Is it time to overhaul the IP protection system? A new working group hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) will consider that question in a series of meetings beginning next week in Geneva, Switzerland....

To produce new drugs for neglected diseases, [critics] say, the world needs a new R&D system that rewards not market sales but the potential to save lives and improve health. One such framework, which the IGWG [WHO’s Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property] may consider, is a hotly debated proposal for an international treaty to open up drug discovery, championed since 2002 by James Love, director of the Consumer Project on Technology in Washington, D.C. Under Love’s “R&D Treaty,” countries would agree to spend a minimum percentage of gross domestic product on medical research, including a portion for neglected diseases. In addition, the treaty would promote open access to research findings and possibly add R&D incentives. For instance, governments could award big monetary prizes for those who invent important new medicines. Manufacturers would then be free to produce and market them cheaply....

The treaty [was] recommended in a letter to the World Health Assembly by 162 scientists, health experts, and others last year....

PS:  For background see the draft treaty and past posts on it.  Disclosure: I signed the letter of submission and helped draft the treaty's OA provision (§13.1), which would mandate OA to publicly-funded research.

Patenting scientific principles and natural phenomena

Lori Andrews and three co-authors, When Patents Threaten Science, Science Magazine, December 1, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:

What if each generation of scientists was forbidden to use —or even think about— the theorems, principles, and natural phenomena that had been discovered or proven by the previous generation of scientists? Researchers may soon find themselves in that position as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) comes dangerously close to issuing patents on the basic building blocks of science itself. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in June 2006, Laboratory Corporation v. Metabolite Laboratories, and a solicitation by the USPTO in July 2006 for comments on proposed guidelines for patent examiners have raised questions about the delicate balance between a common body of knowledge and the exclusive rights over scientific information embodied in a patent....

Scientists may not have paid sufficient attention to the privatization of common knowledge because, in the past, they felt that research activities did not require approval from patent holders. The 2002 Madey v. Duke decision put an end to such protection. Scientists can be influential by helping policy-makers understand that open access to basic laws of nature, products of nature, and mathematical formulae is necessary for scientists to explore and innovate. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that fact, but, increasingly, the USPTO in granting such patents and the Federal Circuit in upholding them seem to have forgotten it.

PS:  For background, see my previous posts on Madey v. Duke.

Opening day at PPARC

Today the open-access mandate at the UK's Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) takes effect.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Major report on OAI interoperability

Martha Brogan, Contexts and Contributions: Building the Distributed Library, Digital Library Federation, November 22, 2006.  A major study (282 pp) of OAI interoperability from the DLF, one of the organizations, with CNI and NSF, that originally sponsored the development of the OAI-PMH.  Excerpt:

This report updates and expands on "A Survey of Digital Library Aggregation Services," originally commissioned by the DLF as an internal report in summer 2003, and released to the public later that year. It highlights major developments affecting the ecosystem of scholarly communications and digital libraries since the last survey and provides an analysis of "OAI implementation demographics," based on a comparative review of repository registries and cross-archive search services. Secondly, it reviews the state-of-practice for a cohort of digital library aggregation services, grouping them in the context of the "problem space" to which they most closely adhere. Based in part on online survey responses collected in fall 2005 from an online survey distributed to the original core services, the report investigates the purpose, function and challenges of next-generation aggregation services. On a case-by-case basis, the advances in each service are of interest in isolation from each other, but the report also attempts to situate these services in a larger context and to understand how they fit into a multi-dimensional and interdependent ecosystem supporting the worldwide community of scholars. Finally, the report summarizes the contributions of these services thus far and identifies obstacles requiring further attention to realize the goal of an open, distributed digital library system.

The new report aims to inform DLF's continuing efforts "to foster better teaching and scholarship through easier, more relevant discovery of digital resources, and a much greater ability for libraries to build more responsive local services on top of a distributed metadata platform," as articulated in its successful IMLS National Leadership Grant, "The Distributed Library: OAI for Digital Library Aggregation." Extending over a two-year period from October 2004 through September 2006, the grant enables DLF to prototype a "second generation" OAI finding system. Concurrently, it affords DLF the opportunity to address challenges identified in the 2003 survey and voiced by early OAI adopters. In particular, DLF is building a comprehensive OAI registry, establishing best practices for shareable metadata, improving communication between data and service providers, and developing curricular materials and training sessions to introduce OAI best practices to a widening circle of institutions (Shreeves et al. 2005).

Using the 2003 survey as a point of departure, this companion report takes a fresh look at the evolution of interoperability and federating heterogeneous content, especially as realized through implementation of the OAI protocol. It re-examines the original set of digital library aggregation services as well as representative new initiatives in an effort to identify trends - progress, needs, and challenges. How are they evolving over time? What have they achieved? What is impeding their progress? How do they envision their future? An online survey conducted in fall 2005 gathered baseline information from more than forty aggregators....

See especially these sections:

Access to health information in Bhutan

Steven William Glover and four co-authors, A review of health and access to health information in Bhutan, Health Information & Libraries Journal, November 29, 2006.  Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

Oxford supports OAI-PMH harvesting of its journal metadata

Oxford Journals offers faster and better access to metadata records with OAI-PMH functionality, a press release from Oxford Journals.  Excerpt:

Oxford Journals, a division of Oxford University Press, today announced that all abstracts and metadata for over 180 journals can now be obtained using OAI-PMH functionality.

The Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) offers any third party, including aggregators and libraries, the opportunity to acquire metadata records within a standard format.

The Oxford Journals OAI-PMH repository contains abstracts and metadata for all journal content, including the Oxford Journals digital archive, with records dating back to 1849. The repository is constantly updated with current issues, as well as articles published as Advanced Access, and provides a convenient location for harvesting metadata collections, or single article metadata.

“Providing OAI-PMH functionality offers third party aggregators and librarians a vastly improved way to extract metadata records from our content”, commented Pam Sutherland, Journals IT Director, Oxford Journals. She continued,

“Metadata can be harvested at any time, as frequently as required, and it’s now much quicker to access the data than via other mechanisms. The Oxford Journals repository is extremely flexible, and users can set their own parameters to obtain precise sets of metadata, sorting by journal, date, volume, or issue. A date-stamp has also been included within all records, even though this is an optional element of OAI-PMH, to allow harvesters to select all records from a specified date.”...

Comment.  This is smart and all journals (OA and TA) should do it.  (I've been recommending it since 2004.)  Inderscience seems to have been the first non-OA publisher to test its potential as a more effective and less expensive alternative to traditional marketing.  For details, see this Inderscience case study from 2003.

Limited copyright exemption for the Internet Archive

Nick Farrell, Internet Archive is free from DMCA, The Inquirer, November 30, 2006.  Excerpt:

After a long and expensive fight, the Internet Archive has been granted an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The Archive stores computer games and other old software for posterity, and runs the famous Internet Wayback machine. However, it feared that because it was copying others' work it could be in breach of the DMCA.

According to [a press release at] the outfit's website, thanks to the hard work of two law school students of Peter Jaszi of American University, Jieun Kim and Doug Agopsowicz, the Internet Archive and other libraries may continue to preserve software and video game titles without fear of going to jail.

The move cost it $50,000 of pro-bono lawyer time, and a spokesArchivist said that it would be jolly nice if the government could sit down and write a better law that could protect libraries and others archivists of the World Wide Wibble.

Permission granted and withheld

Rufus Pollock, UK National Statistics: Are They Open or Not? Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, November 30, 2006.  Excerpt:

I’ve used data a couple of times from the UK’s national statistics site.

The other day I went there to investigate their licensing as part of an effort to do a simple survey of the openness of various UK government agency’s data. To summarize their copyright statement (full details are in 1):

  • National statistics are under Crown Copyright
  • If you want to reproduce the statistics other than for research or private study you need a ‘core’ (now called PSI) click-use license

This is where it gets interesting. According to the PSI license (which I’ve textified and posted [here]):

“In this Licence, to reproduce includes the following non-exclusive rights throughout the world:

6.1 publishing the Material in any medium. This includes featuring the Material on websites which can be accessed via the internet or via an internal electronic network or on an Intranet;”

This seems to be pretty broad and cover anything I’d like to do....If this licence was effective it would mean that the data was openHowever further down the National Statistics copyright page one finds:

“Customers wishing to repackage and/or redistribute National Statistics material in their own products or services and allow their customers to use such material should contact with details of their request.”

This seems to imply that repackaging and redistribution require separate permission and are not covered by the PSI licence. If this is the case the freedom to reproduce granted in the click-use license is rendered completely void. All of this makes me wonder whether the National Statistics UK are able to see some special distinction between ‘reproduction’ and ‘repackaging/redistributing’ that’s not apparent to the rest of us.

Comment.  One of the chief benefits of making information OA is that users are spared the expense and delay of asking permission to make use of it.  Some providers understand this and provide blanket permission for certain uses in advance.  However, what they don't always realize is that this benefit is completely negated when the permission is vague or inconsistent.  Then conscientious users will still have to ask permission, denting their productivity, sometimes denting their budget, and increasing the unrelenting pressure to become less conscientious.

One of my favorite examples is a June 2004 policy by Johns Hopkins University Press (JHUP) allowing authors to self-archive JHUP journal articles in their institutional repository "provided the [repository] does not directly compete with either the Johns Hopkins University Press or Project Muse."

Access models to govt data in Denmark and Australia

The Free Our Data blog has two posts today on how Denmark and Australia charge for access to publicly-funded government data.

Home for the Royal Society's hybrid OA journal program

The Royal Society has created a home page for EXiS Open Choice, its hybrid OA journal program.  Although the program was launched in June 2006, and had an FAQ from the beginning, it didn't have a home page until yesterday or today.

Willinsky book now self-archived

Although John Willinsky's book, The Access Principle (MIT Press 2005), already had an OA edition, Willinsky has deposited another OA copy in dLIST.  The updated abstract:

This work is copyrighted by MIT Press and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License. MIT Press has granted permission to place a copy in dLIST. Readers can also purchase the book from MIT Press, which publishes it (see alternative location for details).

Following abstract is from MIT Press: Questions about access to scholarship go back farther than recent debates over subscription prices, rights, and electronic archives suggest. The great libraries of the past -- from the fabled collection at Alexandria to the early public libraries of nineteenth-century America -- stood as arguments for increasing access. In The Access Principle, John Willinsky describes the latest chapter in this ongoing story -- online open access publishing by scholarly journals -- and makes a case for open access as a public good. A commitment to scholarly work, writes Willinsky, carries with it a responsibility to circulate that work as widely as possible: this is the access principle. In the digital age, that responsibility includes exploring new publishing technologies and economic models to improve access to scholarly work. Wide circulation adds value to published work; it is a significant aspect of its claim to be knowledge. The right to know and the right to be known are inextricably mixed. Open access, argues Willinsky, can benefit both a researcher-author working at the best-equipped lab at a leading research university and a teacher struggling to find resources in an impoverished high school. Willinsky describes different types of access -- the New England Journal of Medicine, for example, grants open access to issues six months after initial publication, and First Monday forgoes a print edition and makes its contents immediately accessible at no cost. He discusses the contradictions of copyright law, the reading of research, and the economic viability of open access. He also considers broader themes of public access to knowledge, human rights issues, lessons from publishing history, and "epistemological vanities." The debate over open access, writes Willinsky, raises crucial questions about the place of scholarly work in a larger world -- and about the future of knowledge.

John Willinsky is Pacific Press Professor of Literacy and Technology at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of Empire of Words: The Reign of the OED and a developer of Open Journals Systems software.

The OA workshop at Online Educa Berlin

Online Educa tackles lifelong learning and open access, a press release from JISC, November 30, 2006.  Excerpt:

Delegates have been gathering for the world's largest e-learning conference which began in Berlin yesterday. The Online Educa conference on Technology and Supported Learning, now in its twelfth year, has attracted nearly 2,000 delegates from education, research, Government and commercial sectors from around the world....

Joint activities by JISC and SURF began in the afternoon with a workshop on open access. JISC Scholarly Communications consultant Fred Friend introduced the topic, saying that there were considerable economic, social and educational benefits to making research and other outputs available without financial, legal and technical barriers to access. It was also, he suggested, a question of giving more power to authors.

He outlined the two complementary routes to open access. Self-archiving or the deposit of a pre-print or post-print in an institutional or subject repository is one route, he said, while the other is publication through an open access journal....Both routes, suggested Fred Friend, will enable the opportunities provided by technological developments, such as data mining and text mining, to be realised....There are significant economic benefits to open access too, he continued, through the sharing of developments in medical research, for example, and through the value for money gains of publicly funded research being more freely available....

Amber Thomas, JISC programme manager spoke about JISC's work to encourage the establishment and development of repositories in the UK....

Erik Saaman of SURF spoke about open access initiatives in the Netherlands, such as DAREnet (research), LOREnet (higher education), Edurep (non-HE) and Driver (European), and the common technical architectures which underpin them....

Ryan Hargreaves gave an overview of Jorum, the free online repository for learning and teaching resources which is aiming to create a culture of sharing of learning and teaching resources....

John May of the SURF Foundation spoke about LOREnet which is aiming to create a similar 'community of sharing' in the use of online teaching materials in the Netherlands....

Traditional scholarly prestige and new forms of buzz

Paul Kobulnicky, Scholarly Reputations: Who's Got Buzz?  Educause Review, November/December 2006.  Excerpt:

While giving a presentation at a recent international meeting on institutional repositories, I responded to a member of the audience who questioned the motivation for faculty to participate in such repositories. The individual repeated the oft-mentioned position that scholars, by placing publications in such repositories, unduly risk their contractual relationships with publishers. I responded by acknowledging the concern and by describing options that minimize risk, but since I had the stage, I also wondered aloud about which "big win" choice scholars would make as time moves forward. Those of us who believe both in the rigor of peer review and in open access know that these are not mutually exclusive choices but rather are mutually beneficial elements in advancing scholarship. However, for the sake of the argument, I asked if scholars would choose (1) to have their work published in the premier journal in their field or (2) to have that work regularly come up on the first screen in an appropriate Google search. Although I made the statement to stimulate discussion in front of an audience, I believe that my straw-man choice raises issues that need to be discussed further....

[T]he choice between a prestigious scholarly publication and a high Google ranking was not really an either/or choice. No one should dismiss or diminish the value of using high editorial standards to point both the scholarly and the general communities to work of high quality. However, the placement of scholarship in an open-access institutional repository need not preclude publication in a prestigious title. Authors and their publishers can move to provide open access to their works in pre- and/or post-publication versions. From the perspective of return on social investment, open access to published works can create positive returns for both authors and scholarly publishers. My straw-man choice was contrived, of course: neither scholarship without perceived relevance nor scholarship evaluated only on Web buzz is desirable.

Within the classic and respected framework of scholarly review and selection, scholars need to think about the impact of contemporary, open information access and about the mechanisms that can be used to generate relevance in their work. They need to think about choosing appropriate metadata and about how others, not necessarily just their disciplinary peers, might seek and use their information. They need to think about the links that ought to exist between their work and the broader society that inevitably supports it. Finally, they need to give some thought to the very unscholarly but pragmatic aspects of their work: marketing and promotion, which contribute to the creation of scholarly reputations with "buzz" on the Web.

Jim Till's blog on OA

Be openly accessible or be obscure is a new blog on OA by Jim Till.  Jim is a University Professor Emeritus of medicine at the University of Toronto, a member of the Executive Committee of UT's Project Open Source | Open Access, a member of the editorial boards of two OA journals, Chair of the CIHR Advisory Committee on Access to Outputs of Research --and a former contributor to Open Access News when it was a group blog.  Welcome back to the blogosphere, Jim!

PS:  I thought I blogged this last week but now I can't find the post.  If it's really out there and just slipped through my net (and Google's), I apologize for the repetition.

Funding peer-reviewed journals

Dick Kaser, Funding Open Access, Information Today blog, November 29, 2006.  Excerpt:

I had a fascinating conversation at lunch with Anthony Watkinson (center), a publishing consultant and part-time lecturer at University College London. Just back from The Charleston Conference where he spoke on "The Future of Publishing in an Age of Uncertainty," he engaged me in a discussion about Open Access publishing.

I was not taking notes, but the bottom line seemed to be that Open Access is a publishing model still in search of a business model . . . or at least a sustainable funding base.

Though many institutions have pledged support of the idea, Watkinson observed, few have come forward with the money to pay for publishing papers in such a way that they can be offered free-of-charge to users.

Comments.  Depending on how Anthony fleshed out this comment, I could agree or disagree.  More specifically:

  • Today the Directory of Open Access Journals lists 2,480 peer-reviewed open-access journals.  That's about 10% of the whole in about 10 years.  Print and toll-access journals have had about 350 years to reach their current level of penetration.
  • A large minority of these OA journals (about 47%) are funded by author-side fees, usually paid by the author's research grant.  The majority are no-fee journals, supported by institutional subsidies and other methods.  These journals have business models.  Are they adequately funded?  Some probably are and some probably aren't, just like subscription journals.
  • Long-term, the best source of funding to pay for OA journals is the money now spent on TA journals.  So we're not facing an economic mystery, just a complicated choice.
  • To many informed observers, the subscription model is doomed.  For example, a public letter (January 2004) signed by the head librarians of the 11 campuses of the University of California, and Lawrence Pitts, Chair of the UC Academic Senate, asserted that the subscription model was "incontrovertibly unsustainable".  The uncertainties of OA business models must be considered together with, or compared to, the uncertainties of TA business models.

Athabasca University asks faculty to self-archive

Canada's Athabasca University has adopted an OA policy.  (Thanks to Virtual Canuck via OA Librarian.)  The policy:

Athabasca University requests that academic and professional staff deposit an electronic copy of any published research articles (as elsewhere accepted for publication) in an Athabasca University repository. The contract with the publisher determines whether the article is restricted (lives in the repository as a record of the University’s research but is not accessible online by searchers) or open access (accessible online by searchers).

From Terry Anderson at Virtual Canuck:

We argued that this policy was consistent with Athabasca’s commitments to access as “Canada’s Open University”. We had originally hoped that the verb “request” could be strengthened to “requires” but the fears of curtailment of so-called “academic freedom” scared some away and we compromised on the weaker “requests”. To support self-archiving, the AU library has installed a version of MIT’s DSpace known locally as AUSpace...

I was somewhat surprised at the lack of understanding of Open Access publishing and of the need for action on the part of individual scholars to insure that works funded by public funds are made available to the public. The hundreds of thousands of dollars spent annually by even small Universities like Athabasca on database services that provide full text of many (most) proprietary publications has lulled many academics into a sense that such services are available to all scholars. This is obviously not the case and especially not in areas of the 3rd world....

From Heather Morrison at OA Librarian:

Congratulations to Athabasca University for taking one small step forward. However, this is a weak policy, for two reasons, and I would strongly suggest that other universities considering an open access policy not emulate this one.

First, it requests rather than requires academic and professional staff to deposit published research. Experience has shown that policies that request deposit simply do not work, whereas policies that require deposit are extremely effective. Also, rather than beginning with voluntary compliance, the nature of open access is that it makes more sense to start with the requirement - because as soon as faculty and staff experience the impact advantage, and other advantages of convenience, with open access, from a requirement, they will quickly come to appreciate open access, and so they will happily voluntary self-archive.

Second, it leaves the question of open access up to the publishers. Even setting aside the rights of the university, its students and alumni and taxpayer funders at a public institution like Athabasca - universities wishing to educate faculty members about open access would do well to also advise faculty members about their rights, too. Authors and scholars do not need to give up their copyright in order to have their work published; the only copyright that an author need give a publisher, is simply the right to publish; authors can do this and retain their copyright, too.

The vast majority of traditional publishers already routinely allow self-archiving of preprints or peer-reviewed postprints, or both....

As a proud former student [of AU], I would like to point out that, if Athabasca University's new open access policy is not exemplary in the area of self-archiving, AU has long been a leader in open access publishing, as the home of ICAAP, the International Coalition for the Advancement of Academic Publishing....

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Open data at the NSF

Chris Greer, The Digital Data Universe of the Future, a webcast of a 56 minute lecture at the Library of Congress, October 11, 2006.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  From the blurb:

Dr. Chris Greer of the National Science Foundation discusses efforts of NSF to develop a strategic vision that provides a national digital framework in which NSF can work with partners in public and private sectors to address data acquisition, access, usage, stewardship and management challenges in a comprehensive way. NSF's five-year goal is twofold: 1) To catalyze the development of a system of science and engineering data collections that is open, extensible and evolvable; and 2) To support development of a new generation of tools and services facilitating data mining, integration, analysis, and visualization essential to turning data into new knowledge and understanding.

Speaker Biography: Dr. Chris Greer's current responsibilities include strategic planning for cyber infrastructure for the biological sciences and digital data activities in the newly formed Office of Infrastructure of the National Science Foundation. He received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and did post-doctoral research at the California Institute of Technology.

The MRC's new FAQ on its OA policy

The UK's Medical Research Council (MRC) has launched an FAQ on OA.  There are some new points here even for those who have been following the evolution of the MRC's OA policy.  For example, the MRC will use the Bethesda definition of OA (Question 1).  It will also follow the Wellcome Trust in using a strict mandate:  grantees who want to publish in journals that don't permit OA archiving on the MRC's terms, including the maximum six month embargo, must negotiate with the journal or publish elsewhere (Question 9), although they may petition MRC to make a rare exception (Question 15).

Comment.  Kudos to the MRC for using the Wellcome-type mandate that doesn't let publishers set the embargo period.  As I've argued before, the legal basis of funder OA policies should be the enforceable funding contract (or a specially enacted government license), not the consent of a third party like the grantee's publisher.

Another field-specific blog on OA

Open Access Anthropology is a new blog from the same people who brought you the wiki of the same name.  Welcome to all involved!

PS:  This is a useful development.  I believe it's only the third blog devoted to OA in a specific field.  The first was in law (but is now dormant) and the second in LIS.

OA in physics and chemistry

Heather Morrison, Open Access in Physics and Chemistry, or, A Tale of Two Disciplines, a presentation at the McGill Library School, November 27, 2006.  Excerpt:

There are disciplinary differences in awareness of, and approaches to, open access and other types of "openness". It is likely that there are no great differences than the differences between physics and chemistry. Physics, as a discipline, has long been the leader in open access archiving, beginning in 1991 with the establishment of arXiv, and continuing with the CERN Documents Server. In physics, open access is mainstream, with open access archiving peacefully coexisting with traditional publishing. Physics is currently leading a push towards full open access publishing.

Chemistry, in contrast, has had very low rates of self-archiving of peer-reviewed journal articles, and traditional publishers, until recently, were fighting open access. However, a slightly different picture emerges when we consider the broader concept of "openness", as chemistry appears to be emerging as a leader in open data and open source science.

Cross-national co-authorship data could help the transition to OA

Salvatore Mele, David Dallman, Jens Vigen, and Joanne Yeomans, Quantitative Analysis of the Publishing Landscape in High-Energy Physics, a preprint, self-archived November 26, 2006.  

Abstract: World-wide collaboration in high-energy physics (HEP) is a tradition which dates back several decades, with scientific publications mostly coauthored by scientists from different countries. This coauthorship phenomenon makes it difficult to identify precisely the "share" of each country in HEP scientific production. One year's worth of HEP scientific articles published in peer-reviewed journals is analysed and their authors are uniquely assigned to countries. This method allows the first correct estimation on a "pro rata" basis of the share of HEP scientific publishing among several countries and institutions. The results provide an interesting insight into the geographical collaborative patterns of the HEP community. The HEP publishing landscape is further analysed to provide information on the journals favoured by the HEP community and on the geographical variation of their author bases. These results provide quantitative input to the ongoing debate on the possible transition of HEP publishing to an Open Access model.

More on the OA connection from the body of the paper:

These results are particularly relevant as they constitute a quantitative basis for the ongoing debate on the possible transition of HEP publishing to an Open Access model. No assessment of the economical implications of such a transition is possible without clear and uncontroversial data on the contributions of different countries to HEP scientific publishing, which is presented here for the first time....

The finding that 83% of HEP articles are published in just six journals and that 87% of the articles appear in journals published by just four publishers is particularly interesting. It demonstrates that the number of partners to be engaged with in a debate on a change of the HEP publishing model is relatively small. The worldwide collaborative patterns in HEP, which are quantified in this article, suggest that once a limited number of countries embrace an Open Access publishing model, a “domino effect” likely to spread this policy to other countries, through coauthorship links. Last, but not least, the assessment of the relative contribution to the worldwide production of HEP scientific results which takes into account the coauthorship phenomenon, presented in Table 2 and Figure 4, might constitute the basis for a model where each country or institution would contribute with their “fair share” towards the financial cost of Open Access publishing....

Background on the Bangalore model national OA policy

Barbara Kirsop, Creating a National Open Access Policy for Developing Countries, Open and Shut, November 29, 2006.  Excerpt:

Meeting in the idyllic surroundings of the Indian Institute of Science campus, in Bangalore, the 44 participants of the [Workshop on electronic publishing and open access, November 2-3, 2006] included scientists and OA experts from India, China, Brazil and South Africa, along with colleagues and OA advocates from a number of other countries....

[W]hy was it felt necessary to hold a workshop on OA so soon after the Salvador Declaration on Open Access for Developing Countries, held in September 2005?  The Bangalore workshop was not intended to be a venue simply for confirming acceptance of the principles of OA, but was convened to bring some of the most scientifically advanced developing countries together to report on progress, and consider a model National Open Access Policy that could be offered to governments, and their funding organisations, as a practical tool for driving OA forward.

The aim, therefore, was to take the next step towards ensuring the implementation of earlier OA declarations, not just to talk about OA....

[S]ince the cost of academic journals is prohibitive for many developing countries, scholarly communication is for them severely restricted.  This is a huge problem: A survey conducted by the WHO in 2003, for instance, found that in 75 of the poorest countries, 56% of the medical institutions had been unable to access any journals over the previous five years....

Furthermore, the cost of printing and distributing local journals means that much developing world research is 'invisible' to the rest of the world....As a consequence, the incorporation of regional knowledge into international programmes remains minimal. Yet with the growth of global problems — think only of HIV/AIDS, avian 'flu, environmental disasters, climate change or crop failure — it is essential that the countries in which these problems are most commonly experienced have access to research findings, and can contribute their crucial experience to finding global solutions.

Without both improved access and regional visibility, the science base of poorer countries will not be strengthened, and it is well documented that without a strong science base economies remain weak and dependent on others....

It is clear...that wherever researchers have embraced OA, the visibility, quality and the impact of local research has flourished, and subscriptions to OA journals have even increased — a clear indication that researchers were previously information-starved....

One Indian 'gently persuading' its scholars to deposit their articles by refusing travel support to those that do not archive their publications!...

It was agreed...that progress could be significantly speeded up if a model National OA Policy could be drawn up, and developing countries encouraged to adopt it.  It was also felt that this would be particularly effective if it was formally accepted by a group of local experts — of which there was no shortage at the workshop — who know and understand the problems faced by developing countries on the ground.  While there was vigorous debate on how to encourage adoption of such a policy, there was no dissent over the need for it, or of its basic form.

Specifically, the draft Policy document urges governments to require copies of all publicly funded research published in peer-reviewed journals to be deposited in an institutional repository as soon as publication is accepted and encourages government grant holders to provide open access to their deposited papers immediately upon deposit. Grant holders are also encouraged to publish in a suitable open access journal where one exists. This should be a condition for research funding for any papers partly or fully funded by the government....

All presentations, lists of participants and the draft model National OA Policy document are available on the workshop web site.

Who can read your past publications?

Jonathan Eisen, Has your scientific research been wasted? The Tree of Life, November 27, 2006.  Excerpt:

...I [am] somewhat depressed over something I did Sunday night. I decided to remove myself from the UC Davis internet proxy to see how many of my past papers that I have published I can obtain without the UC subscriptions. So I went to pubmed, and typed in my name (Eisen JA) and got most of my papers, which are listed at the bottom of this blog....And then I went to see how many of my papers were freely available and how many were not. What I was most interested in was - what is the deal with papers I wrote before becoming an Open Access convert? For many it is easy to figure out if they are freely available - Pubmed has a link saying "Free in PMC" which refers to Pubmed Central. For others, it was a little trickier.

The results were both good and bad and a summary is below. A few things struck me. First, a lot of my life's work is not readily available without paying other for it. In the day and age of the internet, this means that these papers will simply be read less and less as time goes by. And that makes me very sad. If I had chosen to publish those papers in other journals, anyone in the world could get them at any time. Thankfully I did publish many papers in journals like PNAS, and ASM journals, and NAR - journals that have now decided to release them to Pubmed Central. And also thankfully (but less so) I published some papers in journals that have at least made them freely available on their web sites.

Most surprisingly to me is that a reasonable number of my papers in Nature are freely available on the Nature web site as part of their Genomics Gateway program. Nature deserves serious kudos for doing this and they stand out compared to Elsevier journals (which do not seem to ever do this) and even Science. This is disappointing as Science is published by a scientific society but apparently does not seem to care much about access to publications....

Two library groups support draft CIHR policy

SPARC and CARL have issued a joint press release commending the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for its draft OA policy.  Excerpt:

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and CARL (the Canadian Association of Research Libraries) --together representing over 200 academic and research libraries across North America-- commend the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for the strength and timeliness of its Draft Policy on Access to Research Outputs.

The Draft Policy will govern peer-reviewed journal publications, research materials, and final research data stemming from CIHR funding, It marks a significant step forward for Canadian science and puts Canada in the forefront of the global open access movement. CIHR is the major federal agency responsible for funding health research in Canada.

In its response to the Draft Policy SPARC presents three recommendations for refinement:  [1] That grantees be required to comply with the policy; [2] That the specifications for qualified archives and repositories should be explicitly detailed; and [3] That articles must be deposited immediately upon publication in an open archive, but to offer the flexibility of allowing the grant or award recipient to perform the deposit or to require the journal (or another agent) to make the deposit on the researcher's behalf and in compliance with CIHR requirements.

The SPARC letter also highlights the importance of access to data....

In its response CARL asks that CIHR work with stakeholders [1] To develop a Canadian-based solution for housing and making accessible the outputs of CIHR-funded research over the long term; [2] To implement a more structured approach to providing access to research data; and [3] To ensure that compliance to the policy is linked to future funding decisions....

The CARL letter is also supported by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).

"SPARC commends CIHR's goals as well as the overall draft policy, which is strong, timely and consistent with emerging practice internationally," said SPARC Director Heather Joseph. "We encourage CIHR to continue to move forward and implement a policy that effectively ensures the open sharing of CIHR research outputs." ...

The SPARC letter to CIHR is online [here].  The CARL letter is online [here].

More on the Bangalore model national OA policy

Frederick Noronha, Scientists push open access for developing nations, SciDev.Net, November 29, 2006.  Excerpt:

Scientists from Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India and South Africa have set guidelines for developing countries to freely access publicly funded research....

The guidelines were agreed at a workshop in Bangalore, India earlier this month (2-3 November) where 44 international participants — including scientists and policymakers — discussed ways to promote open access....

Scientists in the developing world have long complained that their work is invisible to scientists in North America and Europe, said Alma Swan, co-director of Key Perspectives Ltd, a UK consultancy company for scholarly information.  "Now the developing world has the opportunity to create the level playing field it has so long cried out for," she told SciDev.Net.

While participants agreed on the policy, there was lively debate on how to make governments adopt it, Barbara Kirsop, secretary of the UK-based Electronic Publishing Trust, told SciDev.Net....

Their policy urges governments to require all publicly funded research published in peer-reviewed journals be deposited in an institutional digital database as soon as publication is accepted. This should be a condition for research funding for any papers partly or fully funded by the government.

Eve Gray, a fellow at the Open Society Institute in South Africa said that policymakers in governments and institutions have the power to determine the reach of scientific research.  "They can make [the research] instantly visible, or they can fail their staff," she told SciDev.Net....

The workshop revealed that Bioline, an online publisher for developing countries, saw a huge increase in requests for scholarly papers when it became open access.  This shows "how much information was unused, unknown, un-accessed before open access", says Kirsop....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

An interview with John Houghton on the economic impact of OA

Kate Worlock, Exploring the Economic Impacts of Open Access:  An interview with Professor John Houghton, EPS IMI, November 2006 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

Professor John Houghton is the Director of the Information Technologies and the Information Economy Program, Centre for Strategic Economic Studies at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. He is one of the driving forces behind the EASI-OA research program, which aims to provide a coordinating focus for new research on the economic and social impacts of open access....He spoke to Kate Worlock about his preliminary findings, details of which were presented at the JISC Moving Towards Open Access conference in September 2006.

What were the driving issues behind your research?

Two things: some frustration with the debate on open access, and wanting to engage senior policy makers....

[T]he open access debate...seems to be all about costs. Economists are less interested in the level of cost than in which systems are most cost-effective – the cheapest way of doing things may not necessarily be the most cost-effective. This led to the idea of measuring the impact of, or benefits derived from, the content, as well as the costs of production and publication.

I was a co-author of a report for the OECD on scientific publishing a couple of years ago, with the intention of engaging high-level policy makers who weren’t involved in the debate among publishers, librarians and researchers and raising the issue of open access in their minds. I continue to try to frame the research in such a way as to engage senior policy makers.

In recent work we have looked at the potential impacts of open access on returns to investment in R&D. The Australian report follows on from that by looking at the costs and benefits of scholarly communication – although this is not be easy to do....

What are the key findings to date?

There are three key findings.

  • The costs of scholarly communication are substantial.
  • The potential impacts of enhanced access to content are also likely to be substantial.
  • Policy makers should note that access to content may be an important determinant of returns to R&D spending....

How do you believe that the move towards open access will shape up?

The movement towards open access is likely to be painful, messy and slow, involving many competing business models. Take-up will vary by discipline....

I do not see a long-term future for copyright-based scholarly publishing. The future for publishers probably lies in adding value to open access content through peer review, compilations and toolsets. Publishers will need to face a whole new range of competitors, including technology players such as IBM and software companies, who are focusing on the life sciences as a lead market.

Dutch national library will preserve the country's OA repositories

The National Library of the Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek) announced today that it will preserve the OA repositories in the country's Darenet network.  The details are in Dutch, but Wouter Gerritsma has posted a short English-language summary on his blog: 

Today it was announced that electronic documents deposited in the repositories of Dutch universities, connected through Darenet, will be curated by the National Library of the NetherlandsThis announcement (in Dutch) is a new compelling argument for the libraries who operate the individual repositories to convince researchers to deposit more of their work in these repositories.

With the leading position of the National Library in the field of sustainability archiving or curating electronic material we have one of the best opportunities to keep these copies accessible for future generations. If that is not going to convince them....

Comment.  It's important that these repositories will be preserved, important that the burden will be borne by a well-funded, well-respected library, and important that the repositories themselves will be freed to focus on removing access barriers to the nation's research output.


Open access helps when disciplines overlap, Research Information, December 2006 /January 2007.  Siân Harris interviews with Mark Cassar, manager for journal development at the American Institute of Physics (AIP).  Excerpt:

What has been AIP’s experience of open access?

Our mission is to diffuse physics knowledge but we also have to be able to stay in business and continue to serve the physics community. Open access is one of the biggest issues now. We have to try out different means of publishing and see what works for our different communities.

We are approaching open access in two ways. The first is the hybrid model. Our ‘Author Select’ option is now offered on all subscription titles. This has not really had a high uptake so far and if we were only looking at the uptake it could be deemed a failure. However, having this author-choice option does not disrupt the traditional model, but it gives those with a funding requirement to make their work open access an opportunity to do so. People who don’t want it don’t have to take it. It has been a good way to gauge the reaction to open access.

The other model is Biomicrofluidics, our new fully open-access, online-only journal. This is the first in a series; our plan is to launch more fully open-access titles. Although this journal is just starting, the response so far has been good. The biomicrofluidics community is smaller than the general physics communities but there is interest and we will probably know more about how it is going in six months or so. Open access is good for interdisciplinary titles such as this one. Being open access enables anyone to look at the full text. If this was a subscription title it might not be high on the list of priorities for subject-specific librarians because only a few researchers from their disciplines might be involved in this area....

What is AIP’s view of author self-archiving?

Our copyright policy allows authors to post the final PDFs of their articles on their own websites or the post-print versions on their employer’s website or institutional repository. Our main requirement with archiving is just that authors can’t charge for people to access their copies of the articles. We also have a policy to help authors to comply with funding-body requirements such as those from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The CCLRC, its OA repository, and its home-grown repository software

Catherine Jones, Collecting research output, Research Information, December 2006 /January 2007.  Excerpt:

The positive stance that many research councils take on author and institution self-archiving is a familiar topic. But this goes beyond passive support of the concept. Some research councils are also providing tools that help other organisations to build and maintain their repositories. One example of this is Scitate. This institutional-repository software support package has recently been launched by the UK's Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) and is the platform used by CCLRC's own repository.

CCLRC is one of the eight UK research councils and provides large-scale scientific facilities, rather than giving grants to individual researchers....The results of all this research [in CCLRC facilities] go into CCLRC's repository, ePubs, which has been externally accessible since May 2004. It has over 22,000 metadata records dating back to the mid-1960s, and more than 500 of these have full text attached....

The feasibility study [for the CCLRC repository] included a technology review to look at the well-established DSpace and ePrints tools. However, these software packages had been written with universities in mind, and were not easy to modify to the rather different requirements of a research organisation such as CCLRC. For this reason we decided, in late 2002/early 2003, that it would be more effective to write our own software to meet our needs. The resulting software, which underpins our ePubs repository, is known as Scitate.

The conceptual model for Scitate is based on IFLA's Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records. One of the major features of using this model is that it groups related works in the same metadata record. Examples of this are the ability to link the preprint with the final published version or having the conference slides and paper together. This reduces the number of near-duplicates in the collection....

CCLRC's ePubs implementation of the software uses the CCLRC source of staff information to link a particular author to their unique staff number. This means that if the author is inconsistent about how they name themselves on published works, all the works will be linked together to the approved form used within CCLRC. Authors who have been disambiguated are shown in italics....

ePubs...includes journal articles, preprints, laboratory technical reports, conference presentations and papers, theses and final project reports....

One of the remits of CCLRC is to exploit scientific and technical developments for the benefit of the UK, so we are now exploring the potential market for Scitate beyond our ePubs implementation....

Using the model developed by other suppliers, the Scitate software will be available for free download as an open-source product. However CCLRC is also offering support services to set the system up, to share our expertise in populating the repository, and to provide ongoing support and upgrades to the software....

PS:  Of the eight Research Councils UK, five require open access to the research they sponsor (BBSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, and PPARC) and two are still deliberating (AHRC and EPSRC). The CCLRC is the only one that has already decided merely to encourage it.

Review of Fedora

Maureen Pennock has written a short review of Fedora, the open-source software for OAI-compliant repositories.

OOPS translates the Johns Hopkins OpenCourseWare into Chinese

Lucifer Chu's Opensource Opencourseware Prototype System (OOPS) has struck again, translating the Johns Hopkins University OpenCourseWare site into Chinese.  For details, see the JHU announcement (undated but apparently released yesterday or today):

In April of this year, the School broke through an educational barrier when it launched its OpenCourseWare (OCW) site....And now, thanks to the Opensource Opencourseware Prototype System (OOPS), a program that translates educational resources into Chinese, the language barrier is being broken as well. OOPS has replicated the School’s OCW site in simplified Chinese (the language of mainland China) and in traditional Chinese (spoken in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan)....

OOPS is the brainchild of Lucifer Chu. In 2003, Chu, known for translating J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings into Chinese, read an article in Wired magazine that described Asian students trying to use MIT’s OCW.

“I was deeply touched,” he says. “After I read the article, I thought, what if?” Chu quit his job at a publishing house and founded the OOPS project to translate MIT’s OCW site for Chinese-speaking people. When the Bloomberg School’s OCW site went live, Chu knew OOPS had to translate it, too.

“Johns Hopkins and MIT are really generous,” Chu says. “The [OCW] materials are all in English, and what I’m trying to do is help give them to developing countries.” Part of the OOPS mission is to reach out to less fortunate people through the donation of knowledge, Chu says. OCW embodies that....

The translation, as well as the design and programming, is done by some 1,700 like-minded volunteers recruited largely by email and word of mouth. The “OOPSers,” as they’re called, include CEOs, professors, engineers, accountants, musicians, designers, lawyers, doctors and students.

After translation, the pages are reviewed by an editor and proofread. The pages must be approved by the OOPS review board composed of content experts in the field before being published on the site.

When Chu founded OOPS, he created a server with two old computers he hid in the dormitory of National Central University in Taiwan, where he is an alumnus. Last year, the university found out. “But I persuaded them that what we’re doing is a good thing,” Chu says. So much so that the university agreed to provide a server. Today, there are six or seven servers at different universities in China, all dedicated to posting translated course content from MIT, the Bloomberg School, Utah State University, and the Japan OCW Alliance. OOPs has completed 55 courses, and 1,020 courses currently being translated

Comment.  I love the OOPS story and found a few more details in an article from the March 2005 Taipei Times.  Chu made $27 million translating The Lord of the Rings into Chinese and now spends 16 unpaid hours per day making making open content available to Chinese readers. 

Free software to integrate text, data, mining tools, and OA abstracts with OA articles

CiteXplore is free software from EMBL-EBI to integrate research articles and data files, and to connect both with text-mining tools.  From yesterday's announcement

Today the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) launches CiteXplore, a new freely accessible literature resource service.

Biological researchers require two crucial sources of information: scientific literature published in peer-reviewed journals and databases storing key biological data such as DNA and protein sequences, functions and structures of molecules and microarray data. Tools that integrate these two sources of information are desperately sought.

EMBL-EBI scientists have developed CiteXplore, a tool that links electronic literature resources to bioinformatics databases, to fulfil this need. It integrates abstracts from various resources including the US National Library of Medicine’s MEDLINE database of abstracts from peer-reviewed biomedical journals, biological abstracts from patent applications from the European Patent Office, and Chinese Biological Abstracts from the Shanghai Information Center for Life Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences. From these abstracts CiteXplore links to full-text articles at various locations such as PubMedCentral and publisher websites.

CiteXplore also provides a direct link between the scientific literature and the EMBL-EBI’s biological databases. “When you are reading an abstract describing a specific gene or protein, typically you want more information on it, for example its sequence or its function, as well as easy access to the full paper,” says Peter Stoehr, who coordinates CiteXplore. CiteXplore uses powerful text-mining tools developed by EMBL-EBI researchers to link literature and databases automatically, so that at the touch of a button the biological terms are identified in the text and you can call up the record of the molecule that you are looking for.

In future, the range of literature resources hosted in CiteXplore will be extended for better coverage of other domains such as plant science, agricultural and food sciences, and to integrate it with UK PubMedCentral, a recently launched project led by a consortium comprising the British Library, University of Manchester and EMBL-EBI.

Comment.  Note that CiteXplore doesn't merely integrate text, data, and mining tools.  It also integrates OA abstracts (even for non-OA articles) with full-text OA copies or versions that may exist in repositories around the web.  It doesn't do this for every non-OA article with an OA version somewhere, but it's the first tool I've seen to make a systematic start.  This is important because there are far more OA abstracts than OA full-text articles. 

Another provost for FRPAA

Kumble Subbaswamy, Provost of the University of Kentucky, has added his signature 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 tally is now up to 131.

Profile of Ray English

Heather Morrison, Ray English, or: the Open Access Genie, OA Librarian, November 27, 2006.  Excerpt:

Of the many great pleasures of this year's Charleston conference - one of the highlights, for me, was the opportunity to meet the opening keynote speaker Ray English.  Ray's topic, building on the conference theme of Unintended Consequences, was Unintended Consequences of the Profit Motive: Or Why the Open Access Genie is Out of the Bottle.

In a nutshell, Ray is questioning whether the focus on profit - and the subsequent price increases for serials so far above inflation that today's 8% increases (still, far above inflation) are portrayed as "good news"- is the reason behind the unleashing of the open access genie....

Ray has been one of the leaders of two of the most active associations in open access, since their inception: SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and [Academic] Research Coalition, and the Association of College and Research Librarians (ACRL) Scholarly Communications Committee....

In the words of Rick Johnson, Founding Executive Director of SPARC and currently SPARC Senior Advisor:

Ray has been a chief contributor almost since the founding of SPARC....He has been a leader within the Open Access Working Group (OAWG), a SPARC-organized framework for collective advocacy of open access as a public policy matter. And now, of course, he is the chair of SPARC....Ray has been especially energetic in his support of expanded public access to taxpayer-funded research. He has been tireless in his efforts to mobilize library support and communicate this to the U.S. Congress....Bottom line: he's amazing. I benefitted gratefully from his wise counsel throughout my years as SPARC's director.

SPARC did not begin as an organization for open access advocacy, of course - rather, the original purpose was, and remains transformational change in scholarly communications. In Ray's words, Open access emerged as a visible movement after SPARC got started and it's clearly become the most powerful strategy for transformational change....

Ray's advice for the OA Librarian?
I think the most important thing anyone in the US can do at this point is to support the Federal Research Public Access Act. There are a variety of ways to do that, from individual letters to Congress to developing more organized support. In terms of access to information I think it's probably the most important bill that's ever been introduced into Congress. I'd also encourage all librarians to work at the campus level to inform / educate faculty about scholarly communications issues....

For all your contributions to transforming scholarly communications, Ray - past, and hopefully long into the future - thank you.

PS:  Ray deserves all this appreciation and more.  Read the full post for laurels and details I had to omit from this excerpt. 

OA to Norwegian anthropology

Lorenz, Open Access to Indigenous Research in Norway,, November 28, 2006.  Excerpt:

More and more theses in Norway are published in digital archives and are freely available in full text. In MUNIN - the digital library of the University in Tromsø (Northern Norway), you can download eight master theses in indigenous studies. They look very interesting....

See the full post for the eight theses with links and abstracts.

More on India's Universal Digital Library and Million Book Project

N. Balakrishnan and three co-authors, Digital Library of India: A Testbed for Indian Language Research, TCDL Bulletin, 3,1 (2006).  (Thanks to Frederick Noronha.)

Abstract:   This paper describes the goal of the Universal Digital Library Project (UDL) and presents the approach taken by – and the technological challenges associated with – the Million Books to the Web Project (MBP). The Digital Library of India (DLI) initiative, which is the Indian part of the UDL and MBP, is discussed. DLI fosters a large number of research activities in areas such as text summarization, information retrieval, machine translation and transliteration, optical character recognition, handwriting recognition, and natural language parsing and morphological analyses. This paper provides an overview of the activities of DLI in these areas and shows how DLI serves as a multilingual resource.

OA book goes into second print edition

According to IB Weblog, the first edition of Walther Umstätter's festschrift is out of print and the publisher, Humboldt University Berlin (HUB), has ordered a second edition.  Nothing unusual there, except that HUB itself has already provided OA to the full contents.  (Thanks to netbib.)

PS:  I take this as further evidence that OA editions of full-text books needn't undermine sales of the priced/printed editions.

Does copyright obstruct access to science?

George Sandberger, Behindert das Urheberrecht den Zugang zu wissenschaftlichen Publikationen?  Zeitschrift für Urheber- und Medienrecht, 50, 11 (2006) pp. 810-817.  The article is not online even for subscribers.  Thanks to Eric Steinhauer, who also provides a brief summary (in German).

Oxford hybrid journals support deposit in independent repositories

Oxford University Press Announces Agreements with NLM and SIMID SA, a press release from Oxford Journals, November 28, 2006.  Excerpt:

Oxford Journals, a division of Oxford University Press has announced a new agreement with the National Library of Medicine (NLM) that will allow all content published as open access under its Oxford Open model to be available from PubMed Central. The agreement is designed for authors publishing with Oxford Journals to meet the requirements of their funding bodies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who request all NIH-funded content to be deposited into PubMed Central within 12 months of online publication. The new agreement means that all content published under Oxford Open will be immediately deposited into PubMed Central by Oxford Journals directly. Oxford Journals has published almost 2000 open access articles in 2006 through its Oxford Open models, including optional open access for 49 journals, and full open access with Nucleic Acids Research.


  1. One of my criteria for a good hybrid OA program is that the journal automatically deposit participating articles in an OA repository independent of the publisher or at least allow the author to do so.  I applaud Oxford for taking this step. 
  2. However, another of my criteria is that journals should not interfere with authors' prior funding contracts.  I can't tell whether Oxford will make authors pay the Oxford Open fee if they want to fulfill their pre-existing obligation to deposit their peer-reviewed manuscript in an OA repository.

Monday, November 27, 2006

New issue of Library Hi Tech

The new issue of Library Hi Tech is devoted to Academic information services: new paradigms, the presentations from the Bielefeld conference of nearly the same name (February 7-9, 2006).  Here are the OA-related articles; only abstracts are free online, at least so far

Impact of e-science on libraries

Tony Hey and Jessie Hey, e-Science and its implications for the library community, Library Hi Tech, 24, 2 (2006) pp. 515 - 528.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far.

Abstract: Purpose – The purpose of this article is to explain the nature of the “e-Science’ revolution in twenty-first century scientific research and its consequences for the library community.

Design/methodology/approach – The concepts of e-Science are illustrated by a discussion of the CombeChem, eBank and SmartTea projects. The issue of open access is then discussed with reference to arXiv, PubMed Central and EPrints. The challenges these trends present to the library community are discussed in the context of the TARDis project and the University of Southampton Research Repository.

Findings – Increasingly academics will need to collaborate in multidisciplinary teams distributed across several sites in order to address the next generation of scientific problems. In addition, new high-throughput devices, high-resolution surveys and sensor networks will result in an increase in scientific data collected by several orders of magnitude. To analyze, federate and mine this data will require collaboration between scientists and computer scientists; to organize, curate and preserve this data will require collaboration between scientists and librarians. A vital part of the developing research infrastructure will be digital repositories containing both publications and data.

Originality/value – The paper provides a synthesis of e-Science concepts, the question of open access to the results of scientific research, and a changing attitude towards academic publishing and communication. The paper offers a new perspective on coming demands on the library and is of special interest to librarians with strategic tasks.

The case for putting new creative work into the public domain

Peter Saint-Andre, Who's Afraid of the Public Domain?  A preprint, version 1.0, November 26, 2006.  Excerpt:

You know who you are. You like to write, compose, draw, paint, sculpt, photograph, perform, or engage in some other creative activity. You are what I call a creative individual.

Most people make five assumptions about creative individuals [and copyright]:

  1. Creative individuals would not produce their works without the possibility of making money from them.
  2. Creative individuals are endowed with the inalienable right to control who may copy or modify those works, since without that "copyright" they would not be able to make money from their creative output.
  3. Copyright is a straightforward extension of physical property rights and therefore a creative work is a form of intellectual property.
  4. To protect the rights of creative individuals, governments may legitimately prevent others from copying or modifying creative works.
  5. It is only government-enforced copyright that keeps a creative work safe from the ravages of violation and abuse; when it is no longer so protected, it lapses into a fearsome state of desuetude and disregard called the public domain.

These assumptions seem as natural as the air we breathe. I know, because I made them, too....Yet slowly but surely I began to question those assumptions. Eventually I overcame completely my fear of the public domain. Although I place all my works in the public domain, I know that the decision to do so is not easy. I've written this essay to share my conclusions....

OA repository for Flemish marine research

The Flanders Marine Institute (Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee, VLIZ) has launched the Open Marine Archive.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  From the site: 

The Open Marine Archive gives free access to the digital collection of the work of Flemish/Belgian marine researchers. It holds peer-reviewed articles, pre-prints, locally published articles, press releases, reports, symposium contributions, presentations, scientific posters, theses, photos, videos, etc.

The purpose of OMA is to give immediate, permanent and free access to published and non-published research results of Flemish/Belgian marine scientists. This enhances the visibility, distribution and use of these results, and it supports a much better scientific communication.

This initiative will only be successful with the active support of the marine research community. Each Flemish/Belgian marine scientist is invited to contribute to this digital marine archive and to post their own publications....

Society journals superior in price and quality to commercial journals, but should still consider OA

Kimberly Douglas and Dana L. Roth, Looming Threats To Society Journals, Chemical and Engineering News, November 20, 2006.  Excerpt:

Now is not the time for members of professional scientific societies to be complacent or unengaged. The American Chemical Society Publications Division, as well as other learned society publishers, such as the Royal Society of Chemistry, may be overly confident that the obvious high quality of their journals will ensure their position against commercial competitors.

In addition, when they resist open-access efforts, society publishers appear to be more aligned strategically with commercial publishers' short-term perspective than with the research community's need to easily access all relevant content over the long term.

Societies need to adhere closely to their members' needs, even if that means a break with their for-profit counterparts. University faculty and administrators need to engage with librarians to ensure that the best decisions are being made for the long term....

It is time for library administrators to enforce and for university faculty and administrators to support a journal quality and cost-effectiveness metric....

If a given journal is so expensive that it is not cost-effective and is therefore not selected to be part of a library's offerings, the individual readers can purchase needed articles themselves, order them through Interlibrary Loan, or look for adequate substitutes on the Web. Such availability constitutes substitution for library purchases and is an important alternative to constrain commercial publishers' unrelenting demand for cash....

Professional societies do a better job of combining quality and cost-effective publishing than most commercial publishers do....

Free job ads at Nature

Job listings at Nature are now free to post as well as free to read.  For details, see the Nature press release.  (Thanks to Timo Hannay.)

Minho OA conference by webcast

The Second Annual Open Access conference at Portugal's University of Minho is now in progress (November 27-28, 2006).  If you're not in Minho, you can follow the events through a streaming webcast.

Greetings to my friends who are speaking or participating!

Official version of the Bangalore model OA policy for developing countries

The National Open Access Policy for Developing Countries has now been posted at the web site of the conference that drafted and announced it (Workshop on electronic publishing and open access, Bangalore, November 2-3, 2006).  We should regard this as the official version for citing and linking.

PS:  For background, see my post from November 22, 2006.

Internet Archive wins education award

The Internet Archive (IA) has won the Microsoft Education Award from the from the San Jose Tech Museum's Tech Award program (awarded by the museum, funded by Microsoft).  From the acceptance speech by Rick Prelinger, the IA Board President: 

...Our grateful thanks to the Tech Awards for recognizing us. I'd also especially like to thank Microsoft, the sponsor of our category. Microsoft has generously supported our bookscanning efforts and is helping us to work with our partners to build an open library....

Universal access to knowledge is a lofty goal and a fiendishly difficult project. But it's now within our grasp.

Can we do it? Certainly. The technology to digitize the world's legacy of cultural materials exists. The infrastructure to make it accessible is propagating throughout the world.

Will we do it? Well, that's up to all of us....[W]e need to think carefully about the barriers that separate knowledge from those who desperately need it. In many parts of the world, access to knowledge can mean the difference between health and sickness, between education and ignorance, and between stability and a precarious existence.

Openness and interoperability made the Net work....Openness and interoperability will make it possible for the world to enjoy universal access to information. We need to make sure that openness is at the core of all of our efforts. We hope that cultural material will be shared and distributed as freely as the law allows.

This is the great opportunity of our era. It's a bigger task than any single organization or company can or should achieve by themselves. Through partnerships with public and private entities, with for-profits and non-profits, we hope to do our part. Please join us.

HighWire milestone

HighWire Press has launched its 1,000th journal site.  For details, see today's announcement.

Another society journal converts to OA

The European Association for Theoretical Computer Science (EATCS) has started an OA trial period for its journal, the Bulletin of the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science, starting with the current issue (October 2006).

For background, see Vladimiro Sassone's Letter from the Bulletin Editor in the current issue (pp. 6-7):

Rejoice!, as the Bulletin of the EATCS is going Open Access! Yes, starting from the October 2006 issue, the Bulletin will be freely available on the EATCS web site for a trial period of unspecified length; retrospectively, the past issues from no 81 (October 2003) will also be available electronically. EATCS members will be able to opt for a printed copy in addition to the default PDF one....

The Council of the EATCS, recognising the high quality reached by this publication during its many years of activity, convened that the Bulletin must take up the challenge of becoming more widely available beyond the circle of EATCS members, if it is to keep improving. This is expected to enlarge our readership and, therefore, provide our authors and editors with a well-deserved, higher return for their excellent work and contribute to further raise quality standards. With its decision, the Council turns the Bulletin from ‘just’ a “members’ benefit” to a high-visibility item, an icon to speak up for the entire Association and promote its activities. In this sense, this is a “promotion” for the BEATCS, and indeed a source of satisfaction for me. Of course, going OA is a momentous choice from the Council: the Bulletin has been among the chief Association’s members’ benefits for over 30 years, and before committing to it for good we need to collect feedback from our members and from the community at large, and assess the return. This is the reason to start with a trial period....

Also see today's blog post by Luca Aceto, a member of the EATCS Council:

...[The current issue] of the Bulletin marks an important date in the life of this publication in that it is the first volume that is available freely on the web from the moment of its publication. This is a one year open access experiment that I hope will be continued in the future. If you have not done so already, I warmly encourage you to become a member of the EATCS, also to support the open distribution of the Bulletin.

I firmly believe that having the Bulletin open access will further increase its quality and impact, turning it into an even more useful and widely read publication than it already is....

Update (October 2007). It's been a year since the trial period began, and all issues since then have been OA. It looks like the OA trial period was a success and the journal's OA policy is no longer an experiment.

Defining open science

Bill Hooker, The Future of Science is Open, Part 2: Open Science, 3 Quarks Daily, November 27, 2006.  Excerpt:

In Part 1 of this essay, I gave an outline of the scholarly publishing practice/philosophy known as Open Access; here I want to examine ways in which the central concept of OA, the "open" part, is being expanded to encompass all of science....

In a 2003 essay, Stephen Maurer noted that:

Open science is variously defined, but tends to connote (a) full, frank, and timely publication of results, (b) absence of intellectual property restrictions, and (c) radically increased pre- and post-publication transparency of data, activities, and deliberations within research groups....

Best and most open of all (in my opinion), Jean-Claude Bradley has coined the term Open Notebook Science, by which he means:

...there [exists] a URL to a laboratory notebook (like this) that is freely available and indexed on common search engines. It does not necessarily have to look like a paper notebook but it is essential that all of the information available to the researchers to make their conclusions is equally available to the rest of the world. Basically, no insider information....

For what I am calling Open Science to work, there are (I think) at least two further requirements: open standards, and open licensing....

Metadata and associated standards are going to be increasingly necessary to scientific communication and analysis as more and more of it takes place online and as datasets grow ever larger and more complex....

In a similar vein, Open Licensing also provides a kind of infrastructure -- in this case, for dealing with intellectual property issues....

In short, Open (Access + Data + Source + Standards + Licensing) = Open Science....

[In the] third installment...I will try to show what Open Science looks like now, in its infancy, and to sketch some of the directions in which it might grow.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

France has a nationwide archive, now needs a policy to fill it

Stevan Harnad, Access Archiving in France, Open Access Archivangelism, November 25, 2006.  Excerpt:

Franck Laloë (2006) Les archives ouvertes (AO) et la communication scientifique directe (CSD). Une présentation à la réunion du CNRS sur les archives ouvertes (Paris, 16 novembre 2006). (blog Libre Accès INIST)

Bravo to France and to Franck Laloë for the progress of the French national repository, HAL! As noted before in the AmSci Forum, it just might be that France -- an exception among western nations in this regard -- is a sufficiently centralised country to be able to manage 100% self-archiving of its research output of 120,000 articles per year in a centralised national archive (HAL) instead of a distributed network of Institutional Repositories (IRs).

But what is unlikely is that France is so much of an exception that it will be able to do this without a national self-archiving mandate. (See the graphs of HAL's current and projected growth rate in Franck's presentation and draw your own conclusion about whether and when 100% OA is likely to be reached in France without a mandate. Its present deposit rate seems to be about 12% of French output, which is about the international average for spontaneous [unmandated] self-archiving.)

The advantage of such centralisation, however, is that one national mandate will be enough....