Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, March 09, 2007

IP and the conduct of science

The presentations from the AAAS symposium, Effects of Intellectual Property Protections on the Conduct of Scientific Research: Results of a Survey of U.S. AAAS Members (Washington, DC, January 16, 2007), are now online.

OA to conference presentations, restored

Ingrid Robeyns and some other members of the American Political Science Association (APSA) were surprised to find their conference presentations for sale at AllAcademic.  Robeyns wrote to AllAcademic twice, and got no response, and then wrote to the APSA twice, and got no response.  Finally she turned to blogging:

I’m annoyed for three reasons. First, I don’t like commercial organisations to make money out of other people’s efforts without their consent. I cannot recall that I ever gave this company permission to sell my work....

Second, I am a little annoyed with APSA, since it seems obvious that they are part of the deal; APSA obliges its annual meeting-participants to submit their papers prior to the meeting, as a condition of participation....

The final reason why I don’t like this company selling my work is that these are draft papers, and there are good reasons why some authors do not want to have their old drafts circulated until eternity....

It worked.  The next day, this comment appeared on her blog:

This is Michael Brintnall. I’m the APSA Executive Director. The annual meeting papers are not meant to be sold, and AllAcademic is taking them down. It was a mistake that caused them to be up for sale at that site, and we regret it.

The papers are on-line at as part of the PROL [Political Research Online] initiative. This is an open-access site, operated as a collaboration of APSA and a large number of other political science associations. It’s an extension of APSA’s PROceedings site, where papers are posted for each annual meeting, and it brings together scholarship from a host of other annual meetings too. It’s a good place to search for early scholarship, and I encourage you to use it. AllAcademic is the contractor that we use to set up the site. There was some recent confusion about their including our papers in their own for-sale data base. None of the papers from the project is meant to be at the AllAcademic site for sale and they are removing them.

APSA does hold the copyright on papers presented at the conference. We count on scholars presenting at the meeting to post their work; and the Council is right now considering ways to increase the response to this. I hope this hiccup with All Academic doesn’t fuel any cynicism about making early scholarship like this available on an open access basis – it’s the purpose of the project, and it’s what academic discourse is about....

PS:  I don't like the APSA's claim of copyright over conference presentations, but I do like its commitment to OA for them.  And I like the role of blogging in solving this problem. 

Open letter protesting high price of medical journal

Oliver Obst has written an open letter to the American Academy of Pediatrics to protest the high price of its journal, Pediatrics.  Obst is the Head of the Central Medical Library at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, and past Vice President of the German Medical Library Association.

From his blog summary (March 8, 2007):

As reported several times in the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics literally hinders the distribution of pediatric research through an exaggerated pricing schedule. As a result of this policy (obviously driven by profit generating purposes), the reputation of the American Academy of Pediatrics and her flagship journal Pediatrics is seriously on decline. Who will ever continue to publish in an journal which prohibits him reading his own paper because it’s to expensive for his library?

Today I send an Open Letter of Protest to the American Academy of Pediatrics to let them know, what their customers are thinking. Any answer will be blogged here.

From the letter itself:

Most recently you introduced a new pricing scheme which increases the license fee for Pediatrics for about 260%....Your price schedule made the reading of research articles in Pediatrics more complicated if not prohibitive. Based on our studies no pediatricians will come to the library to read or copy a paper on one of our three library PCs permitted to offer the online version, let alone our printed volumes. So the very result of your exaggerated demands is that our pediatricians will have to decide if they use their precious time maximizing care for children or running after printed volumes. Therefore: As long as you keep to this pricing scheme, you are no longer “dedicated to the health of all children”. Point....

A recent survey indicated that each fifth German medical library will cancel or has cancelled Pediatrics, a further 20% will go on without a site license. Only a minority of four libraries switch to the expensive site licenses....

The reputation of the AAP and her flagship Pediatrics is seriously on decline, because your policy is obviously driven by profit generating purposes, not by the advancement of science....

Course on OA at UBC

Andrew Waller, Open Access Course, OA Librarian, March 9, 2007.  Excerpt:

Fellow OA Librarian team member Heather Morrison will be teaching a course on OA this spring at the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies (SLAIS) at the University of British Columbia....The goals of the course are:

To provide overview of the basic concepts of Open-access. The open access movement is one of the key trends in librarianship today, one that presents librarians and archivists with challenges, but also significant opportunities for leadership. This course will provide students with an overview of open access, key definitions, how and why libraries and archives are involved in open access, trends, policies, and implications for librarians and archivists.

I haven't really checked but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that this is the first university course devoted to OA in its entirety (though I'm sure that OA is an element in many other courses these days)....

The full description for the course can be found [here].

Why faculty choose OA to publish in OA journals

Stefanie E. Warlick and K. T.L. Vaughan, Factors influencing publication choice: why faculty choose open access, Biomedical Digital Libraries, March 9, 2007.  Abstract:  

Background.  In an attempt to identify motivating factors involved in decisions to publish in open access and open archives (OA) journals, individual interviews with biomedical faculty members at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) and Duke University, two major research universities, were conducted. The interviews focused on faculty identified as early adopters of OA/free full-text publishing.

Methods.  Searches conducted in PubMed and PubMed Central identified faculty from the two institutions who have published works in OA/free full-text journals. The searches targeted authors with multiple OA citations during a specified 18 month period. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the most prolific OA authors at each university. Individual interviews attempted to determine whether the authors were aware they published in OA journals, why they chose to publish in OA journals, what factors influenced their publishing decisions, and their general attitude towards OA publishing models. Results & Discussion: Fourteen interviews were granted and completed. Respondents included a fairly even mix of Assistant, Associate and Full professors. Results indicate that when targeting biomedical faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke, speed of publication and copyright retention are unlikely motivating factors or incentives for the promotion of OA publishing. In addition, author fees required by some open access journals are unlikely barriers or disincentives.

Conclusions.  It appears that publication quality is of utmost importance when choosing publication venues in general, while free access and visibility are specifically noted incentives for selection of OA journals. Therefore, free public availability and increased exposure may not be strong enough incentives for authors to choose open access over more traditional and respected subscription based publications, unless the quality issue is also addressed.

Comment.  Here's how I put it in Open Access and Quality (October 2006):

I can accept...that most authors will seek prestige before OA, if they have to choose.  The mistake is to assume that they have to choose.

There are two reasons why there's no trade-off here.  First, there are already high-quality, high-prestige OA journals and their existence shows that nothing intrinsic to OA blocks that path.  Second, authors can publish in a prestigious TA journal and then deposit their postprint in an OA repository.  About 70% of TA journals already give blanket permission for this and many of the others will give permission after an individual request.

Brief primer on open journals

7 Things You Should Know About Open Journals, Educause Learning Initiative, February 2007.

Abstract:  Open journaling tools manage the process of publishing peer-reviewed journals online. They enable users to publish academic journals more easily and much less expensively than traditional methods. They also allow authors to track their submissions through the review process, as well as to access reviewer comments and revise and resubmit articles, which creates a sense of openness and transparency uncommon in traditional peer-reviewed publications.

Comment.  The article itself uses "open journals" in its title, but the splash page and abstract use the phrase "open journaling", which unfortunately suggests diary-writing more than scholarly publishing.  Look past it.  My only quibble with the article is that it suggests that all OA journals use open review.  Some do, some don't.  A journal's access policy is independent of its method of peer review.

BTW, the March installment in this series is 7 Things You Should Know About Creative Commons.

Launch of Freebase

Today Danny Hillis' Metaweb launched its first product, Freebase.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)  From site:

Freebase is an open, shared database of the world's knowledge....

Free + Database = Freebase

It's about film, sports, politics, music, science and everything else all connected together. Our contributors are collecting data from all over the internet to build a massive, collaboratively-edited database of cross-linked data. Its a big job and we're just getting started.

How free?

Really free. We want to make it possible for you to add high quality structured information to your websites, mashups and applications without worrying about restrictive corporate licenses. All data is licensed Creative Commons Attribution. We only ask that you link back to us.

Here are some details from John Markoff's article in yesterday's New York Times:

A new company founded by a longtime technologist is setting out to create a vast public database intended to be read by computers rather than people, paving the way for a more automated Internet in which machines will routinely share information....

He says [Freebase]...will help develop a realm frequently described as the “semantic Web” — a set of services that will give rise to software agents that automate many functions now performed manually in front of a Web browser....

Mr. Hillis envisions a centralized repository that...can be extended freely by those wishing to share their information widely.

On the Web, there are few rules governing how information should be organized. But in...Freebase, information will be structured to make it possible for software programs to discern relationships and even meaning.

For example, an entry for California’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, would be entered as a topic that would include a variety of attributes or “views” describing him as an actor, athlete and politician — listing them in a highly structured way in the database.

That would make it possible for programmers and Web developers to write programs allowing Internet users to pose queries that might produce a simple, useful answer rather than a long list of documents....

The system will also make it possible to transform the way electronic devices communicate with one another, Mr. Hillis said. An Internet-enabled remote control could reconfigure itself automatically to be compatible with a new television set by tapping into data from Freebase....

All of the information in Freebase will be available under a license that makes it freely shareable, Mr. Hillis said. In the future, he said, the company plans to create a business by organizing proprietary information in a similar fashion....

Contributions already added into the Freebase system include descriptive information about four million songs from Musicbrainz, a user-maintained database; details on 100,000 restaurants supplied by Chemoz; extensive information from Wikipedia; and census data and location information.

A number of private companies, including Encyclopaedia Britannica, have indicated that they are willing to add some of their existing databases to the system, Mr. Hillis said.

Also see Tiim O'Reilly's article at O'Reilly Radar:

While freebase is still VERY alpha, with much of the basic functionality barely working, the idea is HUGE. In many ways, freebase is the bridge between the bottom up vision of Web 2.0 collective intelligence and the more structured world of the semantic web....

But once you understand a bit about what metaweb is doing, you realize just how remarkable it is. Metaweb has slurped in the contents of several of the web's freely accessible databases....It then turns its users loose on not just adding more data items but making connections between them by filling out meta tags that categorize or otherwise connect the data items, using a typology that can be extended by users, wiki-style....

Comment.  This could be extremely useful --to make search more intelligent, to create semantically-enhanced mirrors of existing repositories, to host uncopyrightable facts in interconnectable forms, to make OA data manipulable and queryable (not just accessible), and to enhance eprints by linking them to that kind of live data, to name just a few.  I'll be watching for specifically scientific and scholarly uses of Freebase.  If you notice any, please drop me a line.

Mobilizing librarians

Georgie Donovan and Karen Estlund, New librarians and scholarly communication: Get involved, C&RL News, March 2007.  Excerpt:

...Much progress has certainly been made in the last 20 years to devise solutions to the scholarly communication crisis, including:

  • the open access movement to provide scholarly information freely on the Internet;
  • new publishing models like BioOne, which is a cost-effective model for access to biological literature;
  • institutional repositories that offer access to scholarly works produced at specific institutions and other works that otherwise may not be published, such as data and supporting material;
  • education for faculty about retaining the rights to their works; and
  • legislation to ensure public access to research results funded by taxpayers.

Although the impact of these efforts is growing, this arena needs imagination, creativity, and energy to produce additional results....

Understanding something about the open access movement, copyright, and new models of publishing will assist a job search and serve you well in a new position....

[C]onnecting with colleagues who are interested in these issues can help early-career librarians form a network of partners for action. When a library is already conducting scholarly communication initiatives, you might join the efforts in designing programming and outreach for the campus, assist with the institutional repository, or instigate new actions....

With increased collaboration among librarians and others across campus, we can effect a transformation in the landscape of scholarship....

More on the HHMI-Elsevier agreement

Richard Monastersky, Hughes Institute's Deal With Elsevier Will Open Up Access to Its Researchers' Work, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 9, 2007 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

In the ever-shifting terrain of scientific publishing, two big players have jostled the field by reaching an agreement that would trade cash payments for making peer-reviewed manuscripts freely available six months after their publication.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the nation's largest private supporter of biomedical research, announced on Thursday that it would pay the publishing giant Elsevier to open up access to papers that scientists affiliated with the institute have published in any of the 2,000 journals in the Elsevier family, including the prestigious Cell Press line of journals.

According to the agreement, Elsevier would deposit the articles in PubMed Central, an online archive maintained by the National Institutes of Health, six months after they were published. The publisher would deposit versions of the manuscripts that had gone through peer review but had not yet undergone editing and formatting.

The agreement would satisfy the conditions of the Hughes institute's proposed policy on public access, which the institute is considering but has not yet adopted. "Our scientists would be free to publish in these journals, which they would not have been otherwise," says Avice A. Meehan, the vice president for communications at Hughes.

"It's a win-win situation," said Emilie Marcus, executive editor of Cell Press.

Thomas R. Cech, the president of Hughes and a Nobel-prize winning professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said that during discussions of the Hughes institute's proposed policy, investigators were particularly concerned that they would be unable to publish articles in Cell Press journals. The new agreement would pay Elsevier $1,000 for each article published in a Cell Press journal and $1,500 for each article in other Elsevier journals.

Those payments are within the range that a number of journals are charging to open up access to articles, said Mr. Cech. "There seems to be an emerging consensus that this is a viable business proposition and to some extent a fair price, to the extent that one can really know what a fair price is." ...

Peter Suber, the open-access project director at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit group that advocates the free flow of information, said the new agreement "is wrong and it's unnecessary."

Elsevier already allows authors to put up manuscripts on their own institutional repositories immediately upon publication. Because people can freely access those articles through search engines, there is not that much added benefit of paying to deposit the articles in PubMed Central six months after publication, he said. The Hughes institute "had more bargaining power in this situation than it appears to have recognized," he said.

But Mr. Cech said the agreement was worthwhile because it would make the papers freely available in the PubMed Central archive, "one of the most popular and robust and most central to the biomedical-science enterprise." ...

Mr. Cech acknowledged that the terms of the agreement may need revision in the not-too-distant future, given the pace of evolution in the publishing world....

More on the HHMI-Elsevier deal

Rick Weiss, Health Findings From Institute To Be Free Online, Washington Post, March 9, 2007. 

Activists who believe that the results of federally funded research ought to be available free to the public won a victory this week with a deal that will ensure Web posting of studies financed by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The Chevy Chase-based institute, which pumps $600 million a year into biomedical research, cut the deal with Elsevier, a Dutch publisher of science journals. Elsevier will post on the Web the manuscripts of all research involving Howard Hughes investigators, six months after the information appears in its journals.

In the past, Elsevier has said that free posting even after a year would undermine its subscriber base. The agreement offsets that risk by having the medical institute pay $1,000 to $1,500 per article.

Advocates praised the arrangement and said they hope to get legislation passed this year to mandate similar rules for all publicly funded research. Taxpayers should not have to subscribe to expensive journals, they say, to see results they have paid for.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) is expected to reintroduce legislation that would require free posting of government-funded research. Congress has been considering adding that requirement to the National Institutes of Health appropriations bill.


  1. This is the upside of the deal --free online access for early versions of Elsevier articles by HHMI-funded authors six months after publication.  For the downside, see my blog comments yesterday. 
  2. Yesterday we didn't know size of the fees that HHMI would be paying Elsevier.  The $1,000 and $1,5000 fees are much smaller than the $3,000 and $5,000 fees the Wellcome Trust is paying Elsevier in a similar but not identical deal struck last fall.  But they are still considerably larger than necessary to get what HHMI wanted from this deal. 

Does OA increase a journal's impact factor?

Mabel Chew, Elmer V. Villanuev, Martin B. Van Der Weyden, Life and times of the impact factor: retrospective analysis of trends for seven medical journals (1994-2005) and their Editors' views, Journal of the  Royal Society of Medicine, 100 (2007) pp. 142-150.  (Thanks to Jacob Bettany.)  Excerpt:

[Our objective was to] analyse trends in the journal impact factor (IF) of seven general medical journals (Ann Intern Med, BMJ, CMAJ, JAMA, Lancet, Med J Aust and N Engl J Med) over 12 years; and (2) to ascertain the views of these journals' past and present Editors on factors that had affected their journals' IFs during their tenure, including direct editorial policies....

Only one Editor stated that going online with free full access had increased his journal's IF, which had risen faster than those of specialty journals in the same publishing group that were not fully online....

PS:  As far as I know, only two of these journals (BMJ and CMAJ) have enough OA experience to make the claim in the second paragraph.  If so, that's one out of two reporting that OA increased IF, not one out of seven.

More on the HHMI-Elsevier deal

For my comments on the HHMI-Elsevier deal, see my blog post from yesterday. 

I wouldn't normally write a blog post merely to point to another of my own posts.  But after writing my first-draft blog comments yesterday, I realized that I was simply wrong about a key part of the agreement.  I deleted the comments, confirmed my new understanding, and wrote some new ones.  Unfortunately, the faulty comments were online during mid-day for European time zones.  Mark Chillingworth cited them on the IWRblog and perhaps others did as well.  (Fortunately, Mark's summary didn't repeat my error.)  Others may have read the first version without realizing that there's now a new version.

In my revised comments, note especially #10:  my apology for the confusion this caused.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Google facilitates data sharing

Darren Waters, Google helps terabyte data swaps, BBC News, March 7, 2007.  Excerpt:

Google is developing a program to help academics around the world exchange huge amounts of data.

The firm's open source team is working on ways to physically transfer huge data sets up to 120 terabytes in size.

"We have started collecting these data sets and shipping them out to other scientists who want them," said Google's Chris DiBona.

Google sends scientists a hard drive system and then copies it before passing it on to other researchers....

"We have a number of machines about the size of brick blocks, filled with hard drives.

"We send them out to people who copy the data on them and ship them back to us. We dump them on to one of our data systems and ship it out to people."

Google keeps a copy and the data is always in an open format, or in the public domain or perhaps covered by a creative commons license....

One of the largest data sets copied and distributed was data from the Hubble telescope - 120 terabytes of data. One terabyte is equivalent to 1,000 gigabytes.

Mr DiBona said he hoped that Google could one day make the data available to the public....

Interview with Melissa Hagemann on the OA movement

Sundar Raman interviewed Melissa Hagemann on the OA movement for radio station KRUU, February 22, 2007.  The hour-long podcast is available for downloading.  (Thanks to the P2P Foundation wiki.)  From the blurb:

Melissa Hagemann, my guest today on Open Views, is the program manager for the Information Program at the OSI. Melissa was profiled as a Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) Innovator in December 2006 for her work promoting and facilitating Open Access....

Melissa Hagemann is credited with being the strategist and visionary who brought all the disparate pieces of the scientific world into what is now a quite successful Open Access movement. With any global organization, particularly one taking on a well-established multi-billion-dollar publishing industry, there are issues to be resolved, and personalities to be juggled. Melissa's abilities to create the social network of scientists and researchers, and have them collaborate towards making their work available for no cost, online, to a global audience, is truly amazing considering the enormity of the task.

Haworth demands copyright prior to peer review

Charles Bailey has made an interesting discovery:

Haworth Press now has a policy of requiring a copyright transfer prior to peer review.

For example, the "Instructions to Authors" for the Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve states: "Copyright ownership of your manuscript must be transferred officially to The Haworth Press, Inc., before we can begin the peer-review process."

Incredible.  It's bad enough to demand copyright after peer review, when publishers only need the right of first publication.  But this goes much further in tying the author's hands.  Charles comments:

This raises the interesting question of what happens when a paper is rejected: Haworth now owns the copyright, so how can the author now submit the rejected paper elsewhere?

Here's another angle on it:  if editors or referees suggest changes to the manuscript, the author is no longer free to reject them and try another journal.  Author beware!

Update. See comments by Heather Morrison and Bill Walsh. Walsh's comment shows that the policy is not quite as bad as it looks.

HHMI and Elsevier strike a deal

HHMI and Elsevier Announce Public Access Agreement, a press release from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, March 8, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and Elsevier have established an agreement to make author manuscripts of articles published in Elsevier and Cell Press journals publicly available six months following final publication. It takes effect for articles published after September 1, 2007.

“This agreement speaks to our shared commitment to making research results freely available to the public and the international scientific community, as well as the significance of Cell Press and Elsevier journals to the communication of research discoveries,” said Thomas R. Cech, president of HHMI....

Elsevier will deposit author manuscripts of original research articles, along with an article's supplemental data, on which any HHMI scientist is an author - including HHMI investigators, group leaders and fellows at the Janelia Farm Research Campus, and other institute employees - to PubMed Central (PMC), the digital archive of biomedical and life sciences literature maintained by the National Institutes of Health. The author manuscript has been through the peer review process and accepted for publication, but has not undergone editing and formatting.

As part of the agreement, HHMI will pay Elsevier for the depositing service. Individual scientists will not be charged and HHMI will make quarterly payments to Elsevier based on the number of articles published.

The agreement with Elsevier and Cell Press comes as the Institute prepares to adopt a new policy that will require HHMI scientists to publish original research articles in journals that allow articles to be made freely accessible through PMC within six months of publication.

Comments.  I'm still digesting this.  But here are some thoughts.

  1. HHMI is the largest private funder of medical research in the US.  It agreed long ago to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals, and may have been the first funder anywhere to do so.  It's now about to adopt an OA archiving mandate for HHMI-funded research.  In many ways, it's the Wellcome Trust of the US.
  2. This deal addresses the fact that HHMI's forthcoming OA mandate is incompatible with Elsevier's current self-archiving policy.  If nothing is done, then either HHMI-funded authors would have to steer clear of Elsevier journals or Elsevier would have to refuse to publish work by HHMI-funded authors.  In this stand-off, who gives first?  I'm afraid it was HHMI.  It's a shame because I think it had more bargaining power than Elsevier.
  3. Elsevier already gives blanket permission for green OA (or author self-archiving).  But one restriction on that permission is that authors may only provide OA through their personal web site or institutional repository, and HHMI wants HHMI-funded research to be on deposit in PubMed Central.  Something had to give and it should have been Elsevier's self-archiving policy.  For this purpose, the distinction between IRs and PMC is arbitrary.  In openness, interoperability, and visibility to search engines, they are equivalent. If a PMC deposit hurts Elsevier, so does an IR deposit; if an IR deposit is harmless, so is a PMC deposit.  Elsevier could have adapted to HHMI without incurring new costs or risks.  Instead, HHMI paid it to adapt.
  4. BTW, if HHMI required its grantees to deposit HHMI-funded research in their own IRs, rather than PMC, and if all its grantees worked at institutions that had IRs, then this part of the problem would disappear. 
  5. If HHMI wanted to guarantee deposit, and not leave it to the initiative of authors, then I can see that it might pay someone to do the job.  But deposit in an OA repository is not difficult or time-consuming.  Les Carr and Stevan Harnad studied two months of log activity at a busy repository and found that the average deposit takes 10 minutes.  It's not worth thousands of dollars per paper, or hundreds, or even tens.  If the physical job of depositing papers is really what HHMI wants, it should put the job up for bidding.  I'm sure it could get a better deal.
  6. Under this agreement, Cell Press will reduce its permissible embargo on OA archiving from 12 months to zero.  That gave Elsevier a bargaining chip in the negotiation.  But Elsevier journals outside Cell Press already permitted immediate self-archiving; for them, the permissible embargo period has lengthened (for HHMI-funded authors), moving the bargaining chip back to HHMI.
  7. Last September Elsevier struck a similar deal with the Wellcome Trust.  In that case, WT paid Elsevier handsomely to permit immediate OA through PMC ($3,000 per Elsevier article and $5,000 per Cell Press article).  In the current deal, HHMI is paying for embargoed OA.  WT paid for access to the published edition, while HHMI is paying for access to a version that has undergone peer review but not copy editing.  Because WT wanted immediate OA to the published version, Elsevier bargained for, and won, compensation for the costs of peer review, as if it were providing gold OA.  But the HHMI payments don't cover peer review, don't buy access to the published edition, and can't be construed as buying gold OA.  HHMI is paying for green OA.
  8. By my count, Elsevier is making three changes in exchange for this money:  Cell Press is shortening its embargo period; Elsevier is adding PMC to the list of eligible repositories for OA archiving; and Elsevier is undertaking the labor of depositing articles in PMC.  Only the first has any bargaining significance.
  9. What's wrong with this picture?  HHMI is paying a fee for green OA.  Despite its fee, HHMI is not getting immediate OA.  Despite its fee, HHMI is not getting OA to the published version of the article.  With minor exceptions, Elsevier is getting paid for what it formerly allowed for free.  Elsevier (beyond Cell Press) is even lengthening its embargo period.
  10. When I first blogged some comments on the deal this morning, I mistakenly assumed that HHMI was paying for gold OA through Elsevier journals plus green OA through PMC.  But it's only paying for green OA through PMC with a six month embargo.  I deleted the first version of my comments soon after posting them and apologize for any confusion they caused.  But ever since, I've been wondering how I could have made that mistake.  Yes, the cheese falls off my cracker and doesn't need any special explanation.  But in this case I think I have one.  I just didn't expect that anyone would pay for green OA.  I ruled it out as absurd and looked for other interpretations.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Another study of author attitudes toward OA

Thomas Hess, Rolf T. Wigand, Florian Mann, and Benedikt von Walter, Open Access & Science Publishing: Results of a Study on Researchers’ Acceptance and Use of Open Access Publishing, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, March 7, 2007. 

From the executive summary:

This Management Report summarizes the main descriptive results of a study on researcher’s acceptance of Open Access publishing. The study was conducted in 2006 by the Ludwig-Maximilans-University Munich, Germany, in cooperation with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The main focus is centered on the question if and why scientists decide or do not decide to publish their work according to the Open Access principle without access barriers and free of cost to readers. With the responses from 688 publishing scientists it could be demonstrated that the general attitude toward the Open Access principle is extremely positive. However, many seem to be rather reluctant to publish their own research work in Open Access outlets. Advantages like increased speed, reach and potentially higher citation rates of Open Access publications are seen alongside insufficient impact factors, lacking long-term availability and the inferior ability to reach the specific target audience of scientists within one’s own discipline. Moreover the low level of use among close colleagues seems to be a barrier towards Open Access publishing.

Also see the short press release and the long one.  From the short one:

Researchers’ overall attitude toward Open Access publishing is very positive....Up to 91% of the 688 participants in a study conducted jointly between researchers at the University of Munich and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock describe their attitude toward Open Access publishing to be positive or very positive. However many show reluctance to use these new means of distributing their research work. While about two-thirds of the respondents indicate to have accessed Open Access literature before, only one third has published work in Open Access outlets. Advantages like increased speed, range and potentially higher citation rates of Open Access publications are seen alongside insufficient impact factors, lacking long-term availability and the inferior ability to reach the specific target audience of scientists within one’s own discipline. Moreover the low level of use among close colleagues seems to be a barrier towards Open Access publishing. 73% of the interviewees believe that their close colleagues do not use Open Access media for publishing their research findings.


  1. All the fears or reservations documented by this study can be answered.  But it reminds us that we still have a long way to go in educating authors.  If we distinguish obstacles from objections, this study is all about obstacles, and none of the obstacles amounts to an objection.
  2. The worries about impact factor, prestige, career advancement, and reaching the target audience have two kinds of answers.  First, show that the best OA journals already meet these standards and that more join their ranks every month.  Second, show that authors can publish in conventional non-OA journals, reap whatever advantages they have to offer, and still provide bona fide OA to their articles through self-archiving.  The researchers did ask authors about OA archives, not just OA journals.  But I can't tell whether they informed authors that OA archiving was compatible with publishing in non-OA journals.

Elsevier: harness the openness of new technologies

Karen Hunter, Scott Virkler, and Rafael Sidi, Disruptive technologies: taking STM publishing into the next era, Serials, March 2007.  All three authors work for Elsevier.  Only this abstract is free online: 

Publishers today face a world of 'unprecedented uncertainty'. The web, Google, social networking, wikis, blogs, RSS Feeds - technological innovation has and will con tinue to impact all aspects of our business and the way we interact with our customers. But with scientific information freely available and accessible on the Internet, can traditional publishing survive?  Indeed it can. While publishers have achieved a great deal using a traditional publishing model, we must now increase our level and speed of innovation to compete in today's technology landscape. We can do more than just survive - it is in fact an incredibly exciting time for the industry. The key to success and the challenge ahead lies in harnessing the openness and collaboration today's technologies present for the benefit of the scientific community and in adapting to our customers' new types of demands.

PS:  No, I don't know what this means either.  I'd love to have access to the full text and find out.

Update.  I just got my hands on a copy.  The article doesn't mention OA, even as a challenge.  But it does say the following:

Inarguably, Google, along with other search engines, is the leading disrupter of the publishing business. Google has changed the game for journal publishers and scholarly researchers by enabling free and easy access to information on every topic imaginable....

In the STM community, the social networking phenomenon is termed ‘open science’ and has enabled researchers and scholars to provide comment and reviews online in real time, allowing for far more collaboration than ever before. This openness is a positive advancement for science – we simply need to develop the processes and platforms that enable us to harness this effectively....

STM publishers are now focused on leveraging this unprecedented level of openness and information sharing. We no longer think of this technology as ‘disruptive’ – rather, it is an opportunity to grow and develop in ways never before conceivable, which has exciting implications for the scientific community. At the most basic level, for example, we at Elsevier have been working with Google and Microsoft to ensure our articles are fully indexed and therefore searchable on these services. If our customers’ first port of call is a large consumer search engine, or a speciality vertical search engine, then it is our responsibility to make sure our content is discoverable there....

We have before us the opportunity to provide an unprecedented level of collaboration and information sharing to the STM community – which can only be seen as a positive step towards the advancement of scientific discovery worldwide. To do this, we must not be afraid to disrupt our own businesses, because if we do not, someone else will.

A critique of the CERN plan for gold OA

John Harnad, Clarifying Open Access: its implications for the research community, Physics World, March 2007.  A letter to the editor.  I don't have a link to the online version and here excerpt the submitted version.  John Harnad is the Director of the Mathematical Physics Laboratory at the Centre de recherches mathématiques in Montréal.  He's also the brother of Stevan Harnad.  Excerpt:

When referring to open access (OA) publishing (January, pp 22--23), it is important to distinguish between two different approaches, sometimes called "Gold" OA and "Green" OA....

“Gold” OA is currently being advocated by Rudiger Voss and others at CERN. Viewed however from beyond the confines of a huge, well-funded, particle physics laboratory, this model may not be in the best interests of the research community. If the objective really is to provide universal access to scientific research, rather than merely finding ways to reduce journal subscription costs, “Green” OA can achieve this quite adequately, without transferring the cost burden to researchers.

Journals must generate revenue by one or more of the following mechanisms: subscription charges, direct support from public or institutional grants, advertising revenues, or page charges to authors. In most areas of physics direct grants to publishers or advertising revenue are not adequately available, so the choice boils down either to "subscriber pays" or "author pays". Relying solely on revenue from paper subscriptions while offering electronic versions for free is not a viable business model since most libraries would simply cancel their paper subscriptions. Gold OA journals therefore have little choice but to transfer the cost burden from subscribers to authors.

This would adversely affect most researchers....

Although some public funding agencies have expressed themselves in favour of OA, none have indicated willingness to increase their total funding to cover such extra expenses.

There is also a mistaken notion that “Gold” OA is more cost effective, because electronic papers are much cheaper to produce and distribute. But this has more to do with advances in technology than the OA model itself....It is also erroneous to expect that savings from libraries canceling paper subscriptions will somehow be passed directly to researchers as compensation for the extra costs imposed on them; the sources of such funding are generally completely distinct. Finally, the scientific quality of journals switching to the author-pays model may be adversely affected....

The ideal of open access can largely be achieved, however, simply by encouraging deposit of all publications in freely accessible archives. Naturally, such archives do not provide quality assurance through peer-review nor guarantees of long term preservation. But the parallel existence of “Green” OA journals with publicly accessible archives provides both, while making the results of scientific research universally available.


  1. “Green” OA can achieve [OA] quite adequately, without transferring the cost burden to researchers.  True.  But under the CERN plan, there would be no burden to researchers either.  Journals in particle physics would convert from TA to OA, and the institutions that formerly paid subscriptions would thereafter pay author-side publication fees.  Authors themselves would pay nothing.
  2. Journals must generate revenue by one or more of the following mechanisms.... This short list oversimplifies the situation.  The majority of OA journals charge no author-side fees and we don't know much about what business models they use instead.  But we do know that some receive direct or indirect institutional subsidies, and some generate revenue from a separate line of non-OA publications, auxiliary services, membership dues, endowments, reprints, or a print or premium edition.  None of these revenue sources appears on JH's short list.
  3. In most areas of physics...the choice boils down either to "subscriber pays" or "author pays".  The DOAJ lists 199 peer-reviewed OA journals in physics (excluding astronomy), of which 13 charge no author-side publication fees.  That's about 6.5%, even before the CERN plan takes effect.
  4. Although some public funding agencies have expressed themselves in favour of OA, none have indicated willingness to increase their total funding to cover such extra expenses.  The European Research Council is willing, although I believe its willingness was only made known this week.  The NIH has been willing for years. In any case, the point is moot for the CERN plan, since the publication fees will be covered by the members of the CERN-assembled consortium.
  5. There is also a mistaken notion that “Gold” OA is more cost effective, because electronic papers are much cheaper to produce and distribute. But this has more to do with advances in technology than the OA model itself.  Not true.  Several kinds of savings can be traced to the OA model itself:  OA dispenses with print (or prices the optional print edition at cost), eliminates subscription management, eliminates DRM, eliminates lawyer fees for licenses and enforcement, reduces or eliminates marketing, and reduces or eliminates profit margins.  Also note that one of CERN's findings in June 2006 was that "sponsoring all journals ready for OA at the time of the enquiry would require an annual budget of 5–6 Million €, significantly less than the present global expenditure for particle physics journal subscriptions."
  6. [T]he scientific quality of journals switching to the author-pays model may be adversely affected.  For the case on the other side, see my October 2006 article, Open access and quality.
  7. The ideal of open access can largely be achieved, however, simply by encouraging deposit of all publications in freely accessible archives.  Agreed! 

Update. John Harnad has now self-archived the full-text of his letter.

Update. Stevan Harnad has written a point by point response, sometimes agreeing with his brother, sometimes with me.

Notes on Rice's De Lange conference

Ben Vershbow has blogged some notes on the first day of presentations at Rice University's De Lange conference, Emerging Libraries: How Knowledge Will Be Accessed, Discovered, and Disseminated in the Age of Digital Information (Houston, March 5-7, 2007). 

Place for IR managers to talk shop

Dorothea Salo has launched an IR-Managers web site, which includes a blog, forum, and mailing list.  From the site:

The IR-Managers a resource and communications tool for librarians, programmers, and other professionals running digital repositories, with an especial focus on institutional repositories (IRs) in colleges and universities in the United States.

Although IRs are a focus of the various movements toward open access to the research and scholarly literature, this site is not intended for open-access advocacy. Although IRs are the focus of much technical investigation, this site is not purely technical. Instead, it is a gathering-place for people doing the immediate day-to-day tasks involved in planning, setting up, running, and recruiting content for IRs.

Nice touch:  the forum doesn't let spambots register but neither does it make you prove your humanity by reading an illegible string of letters and retyping it.  You'll only have to answer a question about open access.

The blog is now recruiting contributors.

Don't pay for green OA

Stevan Harnad, Trojan Horse from American Chemical Society: Caveat Emptor, Open Access Archivangelism, March 6, 2007.  Excerpt:

ACS Press Release: "...The ACS AuthorChoice option, first launched in October 2006, provides a fee-based mechanism for individual authors or their research funding agencies to sponsor the open availability of their articles on the Web at the time of online publication....ACS AuthorChoice also enables such authors to post electronic copies of published articles on their own personal websites and institutional repositories for non-commercial scholarly purposes...."

Dear colleagues,

I urge you to beware of the American Chemical Society's cynical, self-serving "AuthorChoice" Option.

This is an "offer" to "allow" authors to pay, not just in order to provide Gold OA...but in order to provide Green OA! (Virtually all other hybrid-Gold publishers are Green on author self-archiving, and do not presume to charge for it.)

In other words, ACS is proposing to charge authors for the right to deposit their own papers in their own Institutional Repositories. This ploy was bound to be tried, but I urge you not to fall for it! ...

ACS re-announces its hybrid journal program

The American Chemical Society has re-announced its hybrid journal program AuthorChoice.  Yesterday's press release is essentially the same as the original press release from August 14, 2006.  If ACS has changed any of its terms or policies, it didn't point out the changes and I haven't noticed any.

To review, first see my nine questions for hybrid journal programs.  Of the nine, the ACS gives a good and welcome answer to just one:  it will let authors deposit articles in repositories independent of the ACS.  It gives unwelcome answers to three more:  it does not let participating authors retain copyright; it does not promise to reduce its subscription prices in proportion to author uptake (hence using the double charge business model); and it will apparently charge its AuthorChoice fee even to authors who want to self-archive.  It leaves us uncertain on the remainder:  Will it let participating authors use OA-friendly licenses?  Will it waive fees in cases of economic hardship?  Will it force authors to pay the fee if they want to comply with a prior funding contract mandating deposit in an OA repository?  Will it lay page charges on top of the new AuthorChoice fee?

I can't remember whether the ACS permitted no-fee, no-embargo self-archiving before it adopted the AuthorChoice program (and SHERPA has already been updated to reflect AuthorChoice).  If ACS was green, then the new policy steps backwards by charging for what used to be free.  If it was not green, then the new policy combines a forward and backward step:  allowing self-archiving but only for a fee. 

It's not unusual for publishers to retreat on their self-archiving policies when they adopt hybrid journal programs.  But the most common form of retreat is to add an embargo to their permission for postprint archiving, not to add a fee.  Wiley's hybrid program (FundedAccess) is one that adds a fee, even for (perhaps especially for) authors under OA mandate from their funder.

It's bad enough to charge for self-archiving and retreat from green OA in order to advance a low-uptake form of gold OA.  It's worse to charge for self-archiving, as if it cost the publisher money, when all the publishing costs are already covered by subscriptions.

Note that as the ACS policy is currently worded, it only charges the fee for self-archiving the published edition of an article.  Unless the ACS revises the policy, I would assume that authors who want to self-archive the final version of their peer-reviewed manuscript, rather than the published edition, needn't pay anything.

Update. Jane Smith of SHERPA tells me that ACS was a RoMEO white publisher before adopting AuthorChoice. It allowed authors to self-archive only the title, abstract, figures, and tables from an article, not the full-text of the peer-reviewed manuscript. (Thanks, Jane!)

OA/TA book series launched by U of California Press

The University of California Press has launched a new monograph series in literary studies called FlashPoints.  Each book in the series will have an OA edition and a priced/printed edition.  From the site:

...Each FlashPoints book will be available in an innovative dual format: as a free digital edition, which will allow the work to reach a broader international audience, and as a reasonably-priced paperback....

"FlashPoints is a wonderful initiative. It puts the University of California Press at the forefront of new humanities publishing projects. The free online version will, I am confident, not only make these books more widely available, but also sell more hard copies too. Double publication of this sort is the way of the future for books in the humanities. I applaud the enterprise of the enterprise of the FlashPoints editorial group."
—J. Hillis Miller, Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature, UC Irvine...

"I think this is an excellent solution to the current crisis in humanities publishing. It will also reestablish UC Press's important commitment to scholarship in literature and the humanities."
—Michael Davidson, author of Ghostlier Demarcations: Modern Poetry and the Material Word...

PS:  This is not UCPress's first sally in dual-edition publishing.  Each volume in its GAIA (Global, Area, and International Archive) series is published in OA and TA editions, and about 400 (or 20%) of UC's eScholarship Editions are OA. 

BTW, this is exactly the kind of OA monograph publishing the AAUP encouraged university presses to explore in the Statement on Open Access it released last week.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bavarian State Library joins the Google Library project

The Bavarian State Library has joined the Google Library project.  From today's announcement by Google's Jens Redmer: 

...My fellow German national Johannes Gensfleisch, much better known as Gutenberg, created a machine that changed the way mankind gained access to information forever. We all know the incredibly positive impact his press had on the development and dissemination of culture. In our era, digitisation can substantially improve access to information in a similar fashion. Today, everyone with internet access — regardless of age or location — can discover information on their specific subject of interest, in almost any language, with only a few strokes on a keyboard. I find that absolutely fantastic....

That is why today, I am truly excited and pleased to announce a significant step towards enriching our multilingual index: we are adding our largest non-English library to the Google Books Library Project, thanks to a new partnership with the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library)....

As one of Europe's most important and renowned international research libraries, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek will add more than a million out-of-copyright books to the program, from well-loved German classics by the Brothers Grimm and Goethe to extensive collections previously only available to those able to consult the library's stacks. In addition to German-language works, the library's collection includes numerous out-of-copyright works in French, Spanish, Latin, Italian and English. Some of the works of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek date back to the very first moments of book printing....

Also see the library's announcement, in German.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

OA presentations at the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences

Donat Agosti has written a report on the meeting, Open Access: Vom Prinzip zur Umsetzung (Bern, March 1, 2007), sponsored by the Schweizerische Akademie der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften (Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences). Excerpt:

This meeting has been organized by the SAGW to explain their members “open access”, using mostly speakers from other academic fields in Switzerland....

[T]he very eloquent contribution by Yola de Lusenent...was a comment on recent initiatives and meeting at EU-level....

Alexander Borbély’s and Matthias Töwe’s thoughtful and comprehensive overview on open access pointed to the heavy bias in empiric studies and presentation of data, journals as main publication form rather then monographs, and race for fast (and first) publication of data in highly competitive fields as the reasons why open access is more advanced than in fields like the humanities....

At the end of their lecture the scene was set with

  • an overview of existing repositories in Switzerland
  • an explanation of the different roads to open access (green and gold)
  • different business models and its strength and weaknesses explained, such as how USD3,000 for open access by Elsevier can be justified with their huge profits
  • a statment that through Swiss institution about 43% of all the of the 24,000 journals world wide can be accessed...
  • a conclusion, that there is no single business model for open access emerging, but that open access could be seen as a discovery tool to find literature which would not be discovered otherwise and might lead to higher sale
  • open access leads to better citation indices
  • open access is not equal to dropping peer review and thus loss of quality control....

Bas Savenjie (Utrecht University)...made the point, that all the material before 1996 ought be made available, because before that time nobody would sign a copyright transfer agreement stating that the dissemination through electronic media is regulated. An in fact, the large publishers (e.g. Elsevier, Blackwell) are scanning and using increasingly the backlogs of their journals without asking the authors for copyright wavers, and thus similarly infringing the authors copyright....

Barbara Kalumenos (Elsevier) explained the publishers side, stressing that they are at the moment in a test phase. She introduced the notion of ‘sponsored article’, that is an article in a hybrid journal that the authors pays USD3,000 in the Elsevier case to make open access, as opposed to by subscription only – which, as Johannes Fournier (DFG) pointed out is USD3,000 profit. Kalumenos then went on to point out, that there seems to be no interest in the science community, since only for 0.1% of the articles this option has been chosen....

At the final open discussion the road towards open access in Swiss public funded research was outlined: first the repositories need be built up – Zora Zürich or Reso are advanced examples, and then a mandate ought to be implemented. Dieter Imboden (president of the “Forschungsrat” of the the Swiss Science Foundation) announced that a policy including a mandate is being adopted, but that control and installation of the repositories will not be part of SNF business; Funding will be available for paying towards oa related publishing costs. Any further moves are contingent upon the scientists to comply with the Green road (self-archiving) before the Gold road will be considered.

The Wellcome Trust's OA digitization projects

Jane Dudman, Wellcome Trust makes Open Access changes, Information World Review, March 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

Robert Kiley [is the] head of e-strategy at the Wellcome Library....The purpose of the Wellcome Library, which is entirely funded by the Wellcome Trust, is to underpin research, learning and understanding of medicine’s enduring impact on society by developing, preserving and providing free public access to its collections....

The trust is carrying out a major project to digitise its historic collection of medical journals. The project began in 2004 and will create a digital archive providing free access to medical journals via PubMed Central, the online medical service from the US National Institutes of Health, with which the Wellcome Library has a close association. The earliest archived journal in the digitisation project dates from 1809 and the archive will also include current and future journals, which has meant getting agreement from a wide range of publishers....

The library has digitised all 200,000 images in its collection, making them fully accessible via its website, and is now starting to think about what should be its next major digitisation project....

Collaborative working is an important aspect of the library. Backfile digitisation is part-funded by the US National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the UK Joint Information Systems committee (JISC)....

 Negotiating with publishers over the rights involved in the backfile digitisation project has not always been easy. The arrangement is that the library digitises its existing journals, making them freely available and giving the publisher a copy; in return for that, the publishers have to deposit all present and future articles, although they have some ability to embargo specific material for six months. Not all publishers are happy with this, acknowledges Kiley, but the clear objective of the Wellcome Library is open access, he points out....

The open access principle applies not only to the journals held by the library, but also to the extensive research work funded by the Wellcome Trust, which provides £450m a year in UK research funding and is responsible for publishing about 4,000 papers a year....

Soft and hard TPM barriers to ejournals

Kristin R. Eschenfelder, Every Library’s Nightmare? Digital Rights Management and Licensed Scholarly Digital Resources, a preprint self-archived March 5, 2007. 

Abstract:   This study explored what technological protection measures (TPM) publishers/vendors of licensed scholarly resources employ by assessing the use restrictions experienced in a sample of resources from history/art history, engineering and health sciences. The analysis develops a framework of use restrictions that distinguishes between soft TPM - which discourage use - and hard TPM - which strictly limit or forbid uses. Within soft TPM, the framework identifies six use discouraging TPM: extent of use, obfuscation, omission, amalgamation, frustration and threat. The study concludes that these soft TPM are common in licensed scholarly resources. Further, while hard TPM are less common, they are not unknown.

Presentations from Rice's De Lange conference

Rice University is releasing live webcasts of the presentations from its De Lange conference, Emerging Libraries: How Knowledge Will Be Accessed, Discovered, and Disseminated in the Age of Digital Information (Houston, March 5-7, 2007), as they occur.  The webcasts will also be archived for later viewing. 

ResourceShelf has created a link-list of the talks.  On today's program, watch for James Boyle on Science Wars: The Next Generation, Paul Ginsparg on Read as We May, Harold Varmus on Open Access Publishing in the Biomedical Sciences, and Brewster Kahle on Universal Access to Human Knowledge.

Update. At least some of these talks are also being presented in Second Life.

ERC will pay fees at fee-based OA journals

From Matt Cockerill on the BMC blog

Some good news for researchers applying for grants from the recently launched European Research Council (ERC).The council's grant application guidelines confirm that publication costs (such as BioMed Central article processing charges) can be included as part of the direct costs of the grant. ERC funding also includes an indirect component, and  BioMed Central encourages institutions to consider allocating a fraction of this to a central fund to support open access publication by ERC-funded authors.

PS:  For details, see the ERC grant application guidelines at pp. 12, 35.

The ERC is one of the first public funding agencies (after the NIH) willing to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals.

Update (3/31/07). The March 30 version of the guidelines is now online. The policy is unchanged and still appears on pp. 12 and 35.

Data sharing and data hoarding in high-stakes medical research

RPM, Intellectual Property and Open Access to Biomedical Data, Evolgen, March 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

...It seems that the areas where collaboration and open access should be encouraged -- because of the direct implications on human health -- are those in which hoarding and isolation are most predominant (the evidence here is purely anecdotal). On the other hand, less competitive research disciplines (not all, but many -- systematicians and naturalists are notorious for hoarding field samples) are more open with their data. When the public health benefits of the research are greatest, the openness of the data appears to be the worst....

Which brings us to Indonesia. Within the past year, Indonesia has been affected by multiple outbreaks of bird flu (influenza strain H5N1). Indonesian researchers have collected data on these outbreaks, but they are not sharing the data with the international community (Revere and Glyn Moody have both commented). They are treating the samples as a national treasure, not free for the international community to plunder. A discussion of whether their motives are ethical or not leads to interesting debates, but what I find more interesting is whether they are an exception or the norm.

Is the Indonesian hoarding of bird flu sequences any different from researchers hoarding data on measles or other viral samples? Is the Indonesian government committing a much worse "crime" against open access than other scientists? Or is what they're doing nothing compared the hoarding of data that goes on in other areas of biomedical research?

Wiley-Blackwell launches an OA journal of clinical drug trials

Wiley-Blackwell is launching a new peer-reviewed OA journal, Archives of Drug Information (apparently no web site yet).  From yesterday's announcement

Wiley-Blackwell announced the launch of Archives of Drug Information (ADI), a new open access, freely available peer-reviewed journal, dedicated to publishing the results of drug studies. This journal will help to address requests for transparency voiced by societies, health care practioners, patients, media, and the government to disclose clinical trial information.

ADI is unique because it will publish not only results of clinical trials and drug studies but also articles on inconclusive and/or negative clinical trials, early drug development, routine drug-drug interaction, pharmacokinetic studies, and other low-profile areas that are traditionally overlooked. The first articles will be published online April 2007.

"ADI will provide an unbiased, scientific home for high-quality information that should be in the public domain but currently resides on file somewhere," says Dr. C. Michael Stein, editor of Archives of Drug Information. 'It will also help prevent scientists in drug development from repeating mistakes or following the same blind alleys others have explored because that information has never been published." ...

With ADI, it will be possible for everyone to freely search every published article to locate specific trials, methods, and experimental results....

PS:  Note that ADI will be a full OA journal, not a hybrid under Wiley's Funded Access or Blackwell's Online Open.  I believe it's the first full OA journal for either company.  The press release doesn't say whether ADI will charge author-side publication fees.

Berkeley will study faculty willingness to adopt new models of scholarly communication

The University of California at Berkeley has received a Mellon grant to study the changing nature of scholarly communication, including open access.  From the March 2 announcement:

The Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) of the University of California, Berkeley has been recently awarded a grant of more than $400,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to continue its research into the changing nature of scholarly communication and publication practices in the networked age. The new project, Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An In-depth Study of Faculty Needs and Ways of Meeting Them, under the direction of principal investigators Jud King and Diane Harley will extend and complement CSHE’s first phase of research, which considered the importance of faculty values and the vital role of peer review in faculty attitudes about their publishing behavior, especially as it relates to the viability of new electronic and open access publication models. Capabilities afforded by new technologies, pressures associated with the purchasing power of library budgets, challenges to economic viability for university presses, and the pricing structures of the publishing industry make this research especially timely for the academic and publication communities at large.

Many of those involved in supporting new publishing and communication ventures see “the lack of willingness of the faculty to change” as a key barrier to moving to more cost-effective publishing models in an environment of escalating costs and constrained resources. However, the planning study confirmed that, in order to be attracted to newer forms of communication, faculty need to view them as useful to their own careers­ --both in making a name for themselves within their field and in gaining advancement at their university. Although faculty values and reward systems will still figure prominently, the new project will expand investigations to capture additional factors that affect faculty choice, in particular, what faculty members find to be most useful....

Monday, March 05, 2007

Free knowledge

Freie Netze, Freies Wissen, an OA book (Free Nets, Free Knowledge) by 17 authors, February 28, 2007.  Read it in the original German or in Google's English.

See especially Chapter 8:  Digitale Freiheit für Forschung und ForscherInnen (Digital Freedom for Research and Researchers).

OA education

Richard Baraniuk, Open Access Education - Building Communities and Sharing Knowledge, a public lecture at Rice University, March 5, 2007.  A webcast will be available shortly.  Baraniuk is a Professor of Engineering Rice University and the founder of Connexions.

More on costs to universities for gold OA

Bruno Bauer, Kommerzielle Open Access Publishing - Geschäftsmodelle auf dem Prüfstand : ökonomische Zwischenbilanz der "Gold Road to Open Access" an drei österreichischen Universitäten, GMS Medizin - Bibliothek - Information 6, 3 (2006).  Self-archived March 2, 2007.  In German but with this English-language abstract:

Librarians amongst many others point towards Open Access Publishing as being the loophole in the current library and journal crisis. However, Open Access Publishing could entail higher costs for the university as a whole even though spendings for journals will cease.

There is only a small number of published studies on BioMed Central's and PloS' business models. The same lack is valid for established commercial publishers with their hybrid models of Open Access Publishing. In common current business models of Open Access Publishing will not reduce stress on a libraries' journal budget.

Financial consequences of a paradigm shift to Open Access Publishing will be presented for three Austrian universities by way of example. Journal expenditure (print and online) and numbers of published papers by university members will be taken into account to point out the aftermaths of a total shift towards Open Access Publishing.

Comment.  My German isn't strong enough to read this article with the care it deserves, so I apologize in advance if this comment is off-target.  Bauer appears to conclude that some universities will pay more in author-side fees for OA journals than they pay now for subscriptions.  His abstract suggests it and he refers to two articles asserting that conclusion (Phil Davis et al. and William Walters).  However, he doesn't refer to my article exposing the false assumptions in these earlier calculations.  I can't tell whether Bauer himself relies on the same false assumptions --in particular, that all OA journals charge publication fees and that universities would pay all of them.

Building ejournals with Drupal

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., E-Journal: A Drupal-Based E-Journal Publishing System, DigitalKoans, March 5, 2007.

Roman Chyla has developed E-Journal, an e-journal management and publishing system based upon the popular open-source Drupal content management system.

Here is a description from the E-Journal site:

This module allows you to create and control own electronic journals in Drupal—you can set up as many journals as you want, add authors and editors. Module gives you issue management and provides list of vocabularies (to browse) and archive of published articles. This module is more sophisticated than epublish.module and was inspired by Open Journal System. Our workflow is not so rigid though and because of the Drupal platform, you can do much more with e-journal than with OJS - potentially ;-).

An example journal that uses E-Journal is Ikaros .

Two models for subsidizing publication fees at fee-based OA journals

Jim Till, Scenarios about paying for OA, Be openly accessible or be obscure, March 2, 2007.  Excerpt: 

There’s an ongoing debate about ways to pay the costs of OA, especially during the transition phase between traditional business models and newer OA-oriented ones. There are several potential sources of substantial revenues. One focal point for the debate has been on revenues from academic institutions (a major source of support for knowledge dissemination), relative to revenues from funding agencies (a major source of support for knowledge generation).

In a message on the subject “Re: Failing business models“, posted to the American Scientist Open Access Forum on February 24, 2007, Heather Morrison outlined two scenarios. In Scenario A, a funding agency permits the budget of a research grant to include funds that may be used for the dissemination of research results, “let’s say $3,000“....She predicts that Scenario A would result in “competition in the scholarly publishing industry, and ultimately better quality services at lower prices“.

In Scenario B, grantees don’t need to make such choices. Instead, the funding agency permits the $3000 to be used to pay APFs for OA, but these funds cannot be used for other purposes....She predicts that Scenario B may lead to increasing inefficiencies in the scholarly publishing industry, and an upward spiral in APFs.

In a letter entitled “CIHR’s proposal to mandate self-archiving“, published in the January 2007 issue of University Affairs, Stevan Harnad commented that “Unlike the Wellcome Trust’s self-archiving mandate in the United Kingdom, CIHR’s does not offer to fund publishing in an Open Access journal. Apparently CIHR did not feel it had the spare cash for this. This is quite understandable....No need to take it from research funds at this time, when it is not yet either necessary or affordable“.

Note that the draft policy of the CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research) can be regarded as an example of Scenario A, while the OA policy of the Wellcome Trust can be regarded as an example of Scenario B.

What might be the implications for academic institutions if they (and funding agencies) capped APFs to achieve OA at $3000 (US)? The most enlightening discussion of this issue that I’ve seen has been in a series of messages posted to the LIBLICENSE-L Mailing List on the subject “Re: Institutional Journal Costs in an Open Access Environment“. I found one of these messages, posted by Ray English on April 26, 2006, to be of particular interest. His comments were about a study that looked at “journal costs in four scientific fields for a representative group of academic and research libraries of different sizes“. The particular study that he reviewed didn’t take into account the question of grant funds supporting OA publication fees. Nor did it take into account other possible sources of revenue for open access other than publication fees. And (if I understood correctly), it was assumed that all journals would charge an APF to achieve OA, and that the only way to obtain OA to articles was via OA (or hybrid) journals (that is, OA to self-archived articles was tacitly assumed to make a negligible contribution).

His entire message should be read, but the conclusion that I reached on the basis of his comments was this one. In a scenario where the APFs to achieve OA are paid entirely from institutional (not granting agency) funds, and the fees are capped at about $3000 (US) for all journals in the four scientific fields, then “there would be substantial savings for all of the institutions in the study” in comparison with the current situation.

Furthermore, “Savings would be greatest for the comprehensive universities (around 90% or more of current costs), somewhat smaller (but still very large) for the liberal arts colleges, smaller still for the doctoral universities … and smallest for the largest research institutions. But there would still be significant savings even for the latter group“.

If this interpretation is correct, then Scenario A (outlined above) should be attractive from the perspective of institutions that currently pay substantial amounts to support knowledge dissemination. This same scenario should also be attractive from the perspective of funding agencies that have decided to support not only knowledge generation, but also (at least to a limited extent) OA-based knowledge dissemination. Of course, from the perspective of publishers, Scenario A seems likely to yield less revenue over the longer term than will Scenario B. This is because, as predicted by Heather Morrison, Scenario B might lead to less competition, and perhaps even to an upward spiral in APFs....

Update. See Stevan Harnad's comment.

Strategic advice for achieving OA

Nicholas Bramble, Preparing Academic Scholarship for an Open Access World, Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, Fall 2006.

The Open Access (“OA”) movement, which seeks to promote the free distribution of scholarly material on the public Internet, aims for nothing less than “universal availability of a comprehensive source of human knowledge and cultural heritage.” Open Access initiatives have great potential for facilitating widespread distribution of scholarly literature and multiplying the ways in which students and teachers can make educational use of this content.

Although Open Access tools have been available for several years, academic researchers have not yet adopted these tools in large numbers. This Note seeks to address this phenomenon by discussing what a more expansive impact — and a richer feedback loop, beyond one’s immediate disciplinary peers — might mean for the future of academic work. Part II defines Open Access, discussing how it works and how a shift away from subscription journal-based publishing might affect knowledge-sharing in universities. Part III examines the primary concerns fueling academic resistance to Open Access. Part IV criticizes this resistance and asserts that it could be overcome through a more thorough understanding of Open Access and its impact, in conjunction with institutional advocacy and legislative attempts to ensure public access to publicly funded research. Finally, Part V offers some provisional normative conclusions as to how we can most effectively use the law in conjunction with institutional advocacy to create open regimes of scholarly publishing....

Bramble hasn't merely self-archived his article.  As an experiment, he has also made a wiki out of it.

OA to folk music journal

The complete backfile of the journal, Folklore and Folk Music Archivist, is now OA, thanks to the hard work of Indiana University's Archives of Traditional Music.  (Thanks to Open Access Anthropology for the alert.)

Brussels Declaration defends current inefficiencies

John Blossom, E.U. Initiatives to Force Open Access Raise Protests from Publishers, Content Blogger, March 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

...The "Brussels Declaration on STM Publishing" a carefully crafted list of statements that attempts to justify the value of current publishing models to the scholarly community and institutions consuming their research....

[I]n sum the declaration is a statement that says, in effect, that scholarly publishers and the peer review process that supports their publishing processes work just fine and should not be challenged significantly. This is not unexpected, but it is disappointing nevertheless.

Scholarly publishers have recognized rightly that their trade is at a major crossroads given the pending E.U. legislation. Pushing forward with government-mandated open access without clear methods to support peer review processes required to generate that research may indeed pose a hazard to the integrity of academic research. But in truth this will be the case regardless of whether the E.U. open access initiative is passed or not. Existing publishing models for scholarly research may be sustainable indefinitely, but the open access movement has created already an important beachhead in the marketplace that questions not just the profit motive but the exiting peer review process. In essence the publishers are saying, "Let's keep our current inefficiencies because this is the only way that we can guarantee monies to sustain peer reviewing of papers." Yet as the demand for print journals diminishes and as more interactive peer review processes unfold through the open access initiative the necessity of high-priced journals pricing to maintain existing peer review methods is likely to be challenged strongly in the open marketplace.

Scholarly publishers are so tied to their existing revenue models that they fail to see even greater opportunities for profits in the processes that lead up to final publication. Although access to finalized juried publications is important, it's more important overall to researchers wishing to stay on the edge of important scholarly work to be a part of the discussions and modifications that lead up to the finalization of a paper. The peer review process as it exists today exposes new ideas to too narrow an audience for critique and enhancement prior to final publication. Instead of using today's print-based inefficiencies as the basis for journal pricing publishers should consider developing access to pre-publication materials through community-based online publishing as the basis for premium pricing. This will ensure better input from topic-oriented communities and relieve both publishers and governmental agencies from the need to focus on protecting copyright of finalized materials as the basis for scholarly publishing profits....

[C]ontent producers of all kinds need to adjust to the idea that controlling copies of content is not as important as managing the communities that generate it and consume it. Copyright still has an important place in publishing but increasingly it will revert to a secondary role as licensing access to private communities whose communications are at least as valuable as finished works of authorship gains center stage. In the marketplace of ideas, people will gravitate towards being in on the key conversations far more than they will the minutes of those conversations. By focusing too intently on the threat to existing monetization models scholarly publishers are likely to be bypassed as other well-funded efforts move past the copyright model and towards more dynamic ways to generate value from scholarly publishing. The Brussels Declaration will to little if anything to change these realities.


  1. Blossom is right that scientists are more interested in being part of the key conversations than simply reading the minutes afterwards.  But I'm not sure how he imagines that publishers could generate revenue from this.  I'd like to hear more, since I'd like to multiply models for "moving past the copyright model and towards more dynamic ways to generate value from scholarly publishing."  Is he suggesting free postprints and priced preprints? 
  2. It's true that open review and open access are growing at the same time, and it's no accident that open review is being tried at more OA journals than non-OA journals.  But OA is compatible with every kind of peer review; OA doesn't intrinsically favor open review; and today most peer-reviewed OA journals still use variations on the theme of conventional review.  Despite the synergies between them, removing access barriers and reforming peer review are independent, overlapping projects.

More on data sharing in big science and big industry

Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, The New Science of Sharing, Business Week, March 2, 2007.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)  Excerpt:

Earlier this month, Swiss drugmaker Novartis did something rather unusual—and almost unheard of in the high-stakes, highly competitive world of Big Pharma. After investing millions trying to unlock the genetic basis of type 2 diabetes, the company released all of its raw data on the Internet. This means anyone (or any company) with the inclination is free to use the data—no strings attached....

So why the giveaway? "These discoveries are but a first step," says Mark Fishman, president of the Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research. "To translate this study's provocative identification of diabetes-related genes into the invention of new medicines will require a global effort."

In other words, the research conducted by Novartis and its university partners at MIT and Lund University in Sweden merely sets the stage for the more complex and costly drug identification and development process. According to researchers, there are far more leads than any one lab could possibly follow up alone. So by placing its data in the public domain, Novartis hopes to leverage the talents and insights of a global research community to dramatically scale and speed up its early-stage R&D activities....

The Novartis collaboration is just one example of a deep transformation in science and invention. Just as the Enlightenment ushered in a new organizational model of knowledge creation, the same technological and demographic forces that are turning the Web into a massive collaborative work space are helping to transform the realm of science into an increasingly open and collaborative endeavor. Yes, the Web was, in fact, invented as a way for scientists to share information. But advances in storage, bandwidth, software, and computing power are pushing collaboration to the next level. Call it Science 2.0....

Indeed, in just about every discipline, plummeting computing and collaboration costs are encouraging the formation of large-scale research networks. A decade ago, disciplines such as astronomy were still driven by small groups of scientists keeping observational data proprietary and publishing individual results. With projects like the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, astronomy is now organized around massive data sets that are shared and coded by the community.

The free and open exchange of information and ideas will provide astronomers with an unprecedented map of the universe in a fraction of the time it would have taken using conventional methods.

As large-scale scientific collaborations become the norm, scientists will rely increasingly on distributed methods of collecting data, verifying discoveries, and testing hypotheses not only to speed things up but to improve the veracity of scientific knowledge itself. For example, rapid, iterative, and open-access publishing will engage a much greater proportion of the scientific community in the peer-review process....

There will always be aspects of scientific inquiry that are painstakingly slow and methodical. But scientific institutions can take steps to encourage mass collaboration. Discarding the outmoded, manual data-permission policies that currently thwart the ability to share data would enable scientific Web services to weave together information from all of the world's databases. Teams of scientists that invest heavily in collecting data, and understandably feel justified in retaining privileged access to it, could apply Creative Commons licenses that stipulate rights and credits for the reuse of data, while allowing uninterrupted access by networked computers.

Leading scientific observers already expect more change in the next 50 years of science than in the last 400 years of inquiry combined. As the pace of science quickens, there will be less value in stashing new scientific ideas, methods, and results in subscription-only journals and databases, and more value in wide-open collaborative-knowledge platforms that are refreshed with each new discovery. These changes will enhance the ability of scientists to find, retrieve, sort, evaluate, and filter the wealth of human knowledge, and, of course, to continue to enlarge and improve it. Meanwhile, faster feedback cycles from public knowledge to private enterprise, enabled by more nimble industry-university networks, will allow new knowledge to flow more quickly into practical uses and enterprises....

In order to stay ahead, Intel needs to expand into new offerings and find ways to add value to chips, which are increasingly low-cost commodities. The problem for companies like Intel is that the kind of exploratory research required to renew product roadmaps and identify disruptive innovations is the most costly and risky. So like a growing number of businesses in fast-moving, tech-intensive industries, Intel is sharing these costs and risks through an open and collaborative model of industry-university partnerships....

And rather than wrangle over who gets to control and exploit the fruits of joint research efforts, Intel and its academic partners sign Intel's open collaborative research agreement, which grants nonexclusive rights to all parties....

The bottom line is that sharing knowledge and data in scientific communities is not just good playground etiquette, it's about growth, innovation, and profit. By sharing basic scientific data and collaborating across institutional boundaries, companies like Novartis and Intel are challenging a deeply held belief that early stage R&D activities are best pursued within the confines of secretive laboratories. As a result, both were able to cut costs, accelerate innovation, create more wealth for shareholders, and ultimately help society reap the benefits of scientific research more quickly....

What's more, this logic of sharing doesn't apply only to science. "Just as it's true that a rising tide lifts all boats," says Tim Bray, director of Web technologies at Sun Microsystems (SUNW), "we genuinely believe that radical sharing is a win-win for everyone. Expanding markets create new opportunities." Under the right conditions, the same could be said of most industries, from automobiles to other consumer products....

Sunday, March 04, 2007

India's publicly-funded open courseware

Yesterday I drew attention to Utah's publicly-funded open courseware.  Today I learned that India also has a publicly-funded OCW project in the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL).  NPTEL is jointly sponsored by the seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).  It started offering free online courses in June 2006 and by June 2007 expects to have 4,600 hour-long streaming video lectures for 110 courses.  (Thanks to K. Mangala Sunder.)

Unlike other OCW projects, NPTEL offers teacher-student interaction through course-specific workshops and threaded discussion lists.

10 success stories in open education

How the Open Source Movement Has Changed Education: 10 Success Stories, Online Education Database, March 1, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Open source and open access resources have changed how colleges, organizations, instructors, and prospective students use software, operating systems and online documents for educational purposes. And, in most cases, each success story also has served as a springboard to create more open source projects....

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)...
  2. OpenCourseWare Consortium...
  3. Wikipedia...
  4. Project Gutenberg...
  5. Linux...
  7. Mozilla Firefox...
  8. Google...
  9. Instructors...
  10. Students...

Open archaeology prize

Eric Kansa, DDIG Related Events in Austin, Digging Digitally, March 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

...My home organization (the Alexandria Archive Institute) recently won some funding to host an event that will help acquaint archaeologists with the changing world of scholarly communication. We will host an “Open Archaeology Reception” [at the Society for American Archaeology 2007 Annual Meeting] on April 27 (7-8pm, at the conference hotel). The event will provide some free sushi and information about resources and incentives for open scholarship. We will also [announce] an Open Archaeology Prize, aimed at encouraging free and open publication of high-quality archaeological datasets.

How effective is the U of Zurich OA mandate?

Klaus Graf, Open Access: Wie umsetzen? Archivalia, March 4, 2007. Signs that the OA mandate at the University of Zurich is not yet widely followed.  Read it in the original German or in Google's English.

Gold OA publishers and green OA mandates

Stevan Harnad, On "Open Access" Publishers Who Oppose Open Access Self-Archiving Mandates, Open Access Archivangelism, March 3, 2007. 

Summary:  The online age has made powerful new benefits for research possible, but these benefits entail a profound conflict of interest between (1) what is best for the research journal publishing industry and (2) what is best for research, researchers, universities, research institutions, research funders, the vast research and development (R&D) industry, and the tax-paying public that funds the research.

What is at stake is (1) a hypothetical risk of potential future losses in subscription revenue for publishers versus (2) actual, ongoing losses in current research impact for researchers. How this conflict of interest will have to be resolved is already clear: Research publishing is a service industry; it will have to adapt to what is best for research, and not vice versa. And what is best for research is Open Access (OA), provided through research funders and universities mandating the OA self-archiving of all their researchers' peer-reviewed research output.

The conventional (non-OA) publishing industry's first commitment is of course to what is best for its own business interests, rather than to what is best for research and researchers; hence it is lobbying vigorously against the many OA self-archiving mandates that are currently being adopted, recommended and petitioned for by the research community worldwide.

But what is especially disappointing, if not deplorable, is when "OA" publishers take the very same stance against OA itself (by opposing OA self-archiving mandates) that non-OA publishers do. Conventional publisher opposition to OA will be viewed, historically, as having been a regrettable, counterproductive (and eventually countermanded) but comprehensible strategy, from a purely business standpoint. OA publisher opposition to OA, however, will be seen as having been self-deluded if not hypocritical.

I close with a reply to Jan Velterop, of Springer's "Open Choice": Jan opposes Green OA self-archiving mandates, because they would provide OA without paying the publisher extra for it. But all publishing costs are currently being paid for already: via subscriptions. So opposition to Green OA self-archiving mandates by a hybrid Gold "Open Choice" Publisher sounds very much like wanting to have their cake and eat it too (even though that is precisely what they like to describe Green OA advocates as trying to do!).

For more on gold OA publishers and green OA mandates, and more in response to Jan Velterop, see Stevan's second post from March 3, Ceterum Censeo....  Excerpt:

I like my friend Jan Velterop's good-natured replies (even though, I cannot, of course, agree with most of what he says)....

(1) Jan is for OA; so am I.
(2) 100% OA can be had by (i) converting journals from subscriptions to publication charges, with (ii) author/institutions paying the publication charges, and (iii) the journals providing the OA (Gold OA).
(3) Or 100% OA can be had by (i) leaving journals as they are, (ii) with user/institution subscriptions paying the publication costs, and (iii) the author/institutions providing the OA (Green OA), by self-archiving their published articles.
(4) If and when Green OA ever makes subscriptions unsustainable, then the journals can convert to Gold and institutions can redirect their subscription savings to pay for their author' publication charges.
(5) But Green-driven conversion to Gold requires Green first.
(6) Neither Gold OA nor Green OA is happening spontaneously fast enough, despite their substantial demonstrated benefits to research.
(6) Green OA can be (and is being) accelerated by research funder/employer self-archiving mandates that are already being adopted, proposed and petitioned for.
(7) These Green OA mandates are being delayed by lobbying from some publishers.
(8) One would have expected Green OA mandates to be opposed by (some) non-OA publishers, but supported by all OA advocates, including (all) Gold OA (and hybrid Green/Gold) publishers.
(9) So the anomaly is the failure of (some) Gold OA or hybrid Green/Gold publishers to support the Green OA mandates, in some cases even actively opposing them.

Jan "challenges" me, in return, to say whether as an OA advocate I would support a Gold OA mandate that would forbid fundee institutions to use research funds for subscriptions, allowing them to be used only to pay OA publishing costs.

I can answer quite explicitly: If such a Gold OA mandate were also coupled with a Green mandate, and were ensured of wide, quick adoption, whereas a simple Green mandate alone was not, then I would definitely support the Green/Gold mandate....