Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Harvard op-ed in support of OA

Gregory N. Price and Elizabeth M. Stark, Access for All, Harvard Crimson, April 27, 2007.  Price is a mathematics student and Stark a law student at Harvard.  They are founding members of Harvard College Free Culture.  Excerpt:

Our professors do the research. They write the papers and proofread them. They even do the peer review. Then they sign the copyright over to publishers, who don’t pay them a dime —they’re paid by grants and salary, our taxes, and tuition.

Harvard then pays again for the journals —many of them over $10,000 each— and most of us feel personally the bite each term when we buy our sourcebooks. Many of these cost upwards of $100 not because they’re on paper rather than online (printing costs pennies a page), but because of the fees charged by publishers like Elsevier (1,387 journals ranging across academia) and Wiley (348 journals), some higher than $1 per page.

That’s three ways we pay for the same research, writing, proofreading, and peer review. Even Harvard has found the cost too high, and has cut down on its subscriptions....

Most universities cannot begin to afford the journal prices for which even Harvard strains to pay....

If this situation sounds ridiculous to you, you’re not alone....

Peer review is as important as ever —nobody gets credit for work that doesn’t pass that scrutiny— but as these scientists have discovered, it doesn’t have to get in the way of open access....

Students can make several big contributions to this movement. Members of Congress need to hear from their constituents in support of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), a bipartisan bill to make taxpayer-funded published research —most scientific work in the U.S.— freely available. Students can explain to their professors why they should publish in open access journals when available, and better yet why the University should establish a freely-available repository for all Harvard researchers’ work. Best of all, seniors can set an example now by making their theses available to the world at [the new Harvard thesis repository]. Each of us can show politicians, faculty members, and present and future colleagues that we value open access to academic research. It’s up to us to say it: Knowledge is for everyone.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

On the road

I'm on the road with few opportunities to blog. I'll start catching up this weekend.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Two new OA journals from the University of Limoges

The Presses Universitaires de Limoges has launched two new OA journals:

  1. Nouveaux actes sémiotiques 
  2. The Arkeotek Journal ("devoted to the archaeology of techniques")

(Thanks to l'album des sciences sociales, one and two, via Klaus Graf.)

OA plus POD at Cornell

Cornell University has teamed up with BookSurge (a subsidiary of Amazon) to provide print-on-demand for the rare works that Cornell has digitized from its library and made OA on its web site.  For details, see Daniel Aloi's story in the April 24 Chronicle Online.

How IP law affects scientific research in four countries

The Science & Intellectual Property in the Public Interest (SIPPI) project of the AAAS has released five reports on the Effects of Intellectual Property Protections on the Conduct of Scientific Research.  Three are on intellectual property experiences of scientists in the US, UK, and Germany, one is on research-tool access in Japan, and one summarizes the other four.

Congratulations to SHERPA

SHERPA has won the SPARC Europe Award for Outstanding Achievements in Scholarly Communications for 2007.  From today's announcement:

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) Europe initiated the Award in 2006 to recognise the work of an individual or group within Europe that has made significant advances in our understanding of the issues surrounding scholarly communications and/or in developing practical means to address the problems with the current systems. In making the Award to SHERPA (Securing a Hybrid Environment for Research Preservation and Access) the judging panel noted their advocacy for the adoption of institutional repositories and their development of a suite of tools in support of Open Access, including OpenDOAR (a world-wide directory of repositories hosting freely available peer-reviewed publications), JULIET (a listing of funding bodies’ policies regarding deposit mandates) and RoMEO (listing publishers’ copyright policies in relation to articles deposit).

SHERPA was nominated for the SPARC Europe Award for Outstanding Achievements in Scholarly Communications by Dr Judith Wusteman of University College Dublin.  ‘SHERPA is a trusted source of information,’ said Dr Wusteman, and ‘SHERPA’s online services, namely OpenDOAR, JULIET and ROMEO, are its greatest contribution to Open Access and the development of institutional repositories.’  Dr Wusteman noted that a 2006 study by the Johns Hopkins University identified SHERPA’s OpenDOAR directory to be the best directory (out of 24 directories tested) of repositories worldwide.

Bill Hubbard, SHERPA Manager, said ‘I am delighted to be able to accept this award on behalf of the SHERPA partnership and in particular on behalf of the SHERPA core team at the University of Nottingham. We would like to thank SPARC Europe for the honour of being chosen for this award for our advocacy activities and online services in the area of Open Access repositories.  We are pleased that the community has found these to be valuable and are honoured by this recognition.

‘We are proud of the services that we offer - RoMEO, JULIET and OpenDOAR – and hope that these will make a contribution to the success of Open Access. Our thanks to all those who have contributed or helped to build these and we look forward to continuing community contributions.’ ...

PS:  Congratulations to everyone at SHERPA, especially to Bill Hubbard for his expert leadership.

Update.  Also see the SHERPA press release.

Update on Canadian OA policy

Heather Morrison, Open Access Policy Update, a presentation at Beyond Limits: Building Open Access Collections (Burnaby, BC, April 19, 2007).

Abstract:   This presentation explores the status of open access policy developments internationally, and particularly in Canada, as of April 2007. While open access resources are substantial, and growing rapidly, the primary issue for open access archives (institutional repositories) is content acquisition, and few researchers fully understand open access, illustrating an ongoing need for policy.

Open access policy initiatives are happening around the world. Sherpa Juliet lists more than 20 funding agency policies, from at least 10 countries. More than half the policies are by medical research funders. ROARMAP lists at least 40 institutional policies from at least 12 countries. Many more policy initiatives are in the works, such as the European Commission and the U.S. Federal Research Public Access Act.

In Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council adopted open access in principle in 2004, and recently initiated an Aid to Open Access Journals program, a one-year bridge program for SSHRC subsidized journals. Genome Canada has a strong open access policy for both published research results and data. Policy development is underway at the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the International Development Research Centre, and the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance.

Making IR deposits easier

Dorothea Salo, Repository middleware, Caveat Lector, April 24, 2007.  Excerpt:

I did a lot of IR marketing this week, despite my perfect awareness that IR marketing doesn’t work. For a tactic that doesn’t work, I did manage to come away with some contacts, and it appears that the IR made its way into some heads, and that’s all good.

But if marketing doesn’t work, what does?

Here’s the problem I’ve got: there’s a ton of material that’s IR-ready floating around, but I can’t get at it. My nose is mashed up to the window of other people’s hard drives, web servers, workflow silos, and collaboration tools. I want the stuff that comes out of those arenas. I just have no way to grab it.

Here’s the problem everybody else has got: they need the curation, preservation, and “put this important content somewhere safe (but otherwise out of my hair)” tools that an IR theoretically provides, but they don’t need the hassle of extra deposit steps. They need an “Archive It!” button....

I need middleware, and I need it badly....

[F]aculty want and need these tools, and IT is finally listening....

What DSpace and EPrints developers should be considering is how to hook IRs up to the firehose of research products those other tools are producing....[T]hat means an ingest API (no, not a command-line batch import tool, an API!) that is configurable enough to authorize certain tools for unmediated deposit and then prepopulate metadata fields with what those tools “know” about their content and the people who use them.

It’s a tall order, but I dearly hope it’s not impossible, because I want to get my IR’s ingest pipe connected to that firehose.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

80 select OERs

The Online Education Database has put together a list of 80 selected Open Education Resources.  (Thanks to Jimmy Atkinson.)

SVN as repository software and authoring environment

Peter Murray-Rust, What is an Institutional Repository for? A Scientist and the Web, April 24, 2007. 

...In preparing [a recent] presentation I looked around for repository models and suddenly realised I had been using one for years - Sourceforge....SF is a repository for computer code and manages complete version control and also a complete collaborative environment. I make a change to the code - it gets a new version number, but also I can still retrieve all previous versions. Also Any of my collaborators can make changes and I update seamlessly to include all their enhancements. So why not use the same software - SVN - to manage our repositories.

Publishing a scholarly manuscript is a complex workflow....BUT using SVN it’s trivial - assuming there is a repository.

So we do not speak of an Institutional Repository, but an authoring support environment....

[Co-authors] all edit the m/s. Everyone sees the latest version. The version sent to the publisher is annotated as such (this is trivial). All subsequent stuff is tracked automatically.

When the paper is published, the institution simply liberates the authorised version - the authors don’t even need to be involved.

The attractive point of this - over simple deposition - is that the repository supports the whole authoring process.

If you want to start, set up SVN - it’s easy and there are zillions of geeks who know how to do it. It’s free, of course, and also very good....

Canadian funding agency launches an OA repository

Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) launched its OA repository as a pilot project in December 2005 and has now made it official.  From yesterday's announcement:

Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is pleased to announce the launch of its Digital Library, the first Open Access Institutional Repository established by a Canadian research-funding organization. The IDRC Digital Library provides full access over the Internet to IDRC’s rich research archive....

The Digital Library is an institutional repository – a database driven by open source software that makes content freely available through the Internet, permitting users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to information, as long as the source is acknowledged and cited. More than 700 academic institutions and research organizations worldwide have established repositories since 2000, but IDRC is among the first funding agencies to do so....

Throughout its 35-year history, IDRC has believed that knowledge must be shared to bring about positive change in some of the world’s poorest countries. Soaring costs of accessing research literature, and difficulties in having research published in traditional journals are restricting the development of research capacity in the developing world.
The Digital Library will help IDRC research partners engage in the international dialogue on important development issues and increase the impact of their research.

“The IDRC Digital Library raises the bar considerably for information sharing,” said Rohinton Medhora, Vice President of Programs at IDRC. “By making sharing and collaboration much easier, the Digital Library will also strengthen IDRC-supported research networks. And by giving all stakeholders equal access, it will make it easier for research results to play a central role in public debate about development issues.”

OA repositories in Spain

Reme Melero has made a list of the OA repositories in Spain.  Most, but not all, already appear in OpenDOAR and ROAR.  The page also includes a Google custom search engine for searching across this set of repositories.

Update.  Also see the OAI harvester for Spanish repositories, from the Spanish Ministry of Culture.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Journey of a digital object

Remedios Melero and Jordi Prats Prat, The route of a homeless Digital Object from "Closeland" to "Openland", a presentation at the CERN workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication (Geneva, April 18-20, 2007). 

Abstract:   Once upon a time, as a result of a research project, a digital object was born in a toll access world, it grew up and it could not place where it could be free - visible, accessible and free of barriers. That is how it started its journey from ‘closeland’ to ‘openland’. During the journey it discovered a whole landscape of new concepts and forms which helped it be open to the scientific world. This is the summary of the story of a homeless digital object, which became an open access resource, improving its chances of availability and preservation. The aim of this presentation is to illustrate some concepts within the process of archiving digital objects in repositories to make them clear, following the story of digital object from its birth to its deposit in a repository, and beyond, to its discovery and use by more scientists, freely building relationships between the object and other objects to create new knowledge, but respecting the rights of the object’s original owner – the author. The story is told by different cartoon scenes in which the characters and the scenarios are related to the open access movement, open archives, repositories and archiving. As in any other classical tale the story begins by “once upon a time”. Definitions of ideas like open archives, OAI-PMH, self-archiving, curation, preservation, workflow, sets, bitstream among others will be represented throughout cartoon pictures in the panels.

Data-driven science requires open data

Peter Murray-Rust, Data-driven science - a scientist's view, a position paper for the NSF/JISC Repositories Workshop (Phoenix, April 17-19, 2007).  Excerpt:

...Our thesis is that the current scientific literature, were it to be presented in semantically accessible form, contains huge amounts of undiscovered science. However the apathy of the academic, scientific and information communities coupled with the indifference or even active hostility and greed of many publishers renders literature-data-driven science still inaccessible....

I use the neologism "hypopublication" ("hypo-" = "below", "low", or "insufficient") to emphasize the inadequacy of current publication protocols and the lack of hyperlinking or aggregatability. For example about 2 million chemical compounds are published each year (about half in patents) with insufficient semantics, metadata or hyperstructure. Vast effort is required to create useful data from these, and the current commercial processes seriously disadvantage the whole of science. It should now be possible to publish a fairly complete scientific record of an experiment, yet the current publication process continues to emphasize the "article" at the expense of the data. The article summarises the experiment and gives the essential impact factor (market indicator for tenure and funding) - the data are often missing or so emasculated as to be useless. It is the film review without access to the film.

Many scientific disciplines require publication - in textual form - of sufficient data for the experiment to be evaluated (though frequently not enough to allow replication). Some communities laudably insist on machine-parsable data including much bioscience (genomes, protein sequences and structures) and crystallography. Over the years they have managed to coerce the publishers to require authors to provide this information. If all communities did this, for all major kinds of data, then literature-driven science would become a reality. Note, however, that some publishers (such as ACS and Wiley) see such data as their property. Although "facts cannot be copyrighted", these publishers continue to insist on this and one senior representative recently told me that this was so they could "sell the data". To try to counter this I am promoting the concept of Open Data - including a mailing list offered by SPARC. The STM publishers have agreed that factual data is not copyrightable, but there is generally indifference in the academic and information communities to the importance of insisting on this.

It is important to stress that "Open Access" - as currently practised - does not promote Open Data. The Budapest and other declarations make it clear that Open Access involves free, unrestricted access to all the data for whatever legal purpose. In practice, however, publishers ban robotic indexing of sites, cut off subscribers whom they opine are downloading too much content, and continue to copyright facts. The politicisation and complexity of the Open Access struggle means that Open Data currently has little community recognition and support. Yet Open Data is the single most important problem in data-driven science....

OA can create new business opportunities for publishers, which can help or hurt the academy

Don Waters, Doing much more than we have so far attempted, a position paper for the NSF/JISC Repositories Workshop (Phoenix, April 17-19, 2007).  Excerpt:

...Another area of vigorous innovation is also occurring on the edge of the traditional and formal system of scholarly publication that will deeply affect sustainability of new forms of data-driven scholarship.  For such scholarship to thrive, there is little question that data and other forms of content need to be open, in the sense that economic, intellectual property, and other barriers must be low enough to permit an easier flow of information into rich computational environments.  In many fields, these barriers are falling with innovations such as embargo periods, moving walls, toll-free access, and special forms of license.  Even the major publishers, like Elsevier, Wiley, and others are actively participating in these activities, opening their published content.  However, these publishers are not innovating in the direction of greater openness for its own sake, but to advance innovative new business opportunities built precisely around new forms of data-mining and other services that depend on open content.  The principle of openness thus is crucial in the formation of public policy for scholarship and may be necessary for new forms of sustainable businesses to emerge that support scholarship, but simple advocacy of openness for its own sake is not necessarily sufficient or wise.  Here are a few examples of how focused research in this area of rapid innovation could deepen and sharpen our thinking about economic and intellectual property policies....

Indeed, sophisticated publishers are increasingly seeing that the availability of material in open access form gives them important new business opportunities.  That is, they can begin to incorporate and recombine materials that they and other publishers have produced with data and other related materials in sophisticated databases, subject them to sophisticated search, data mining, and semantic algorithms, and then present these as services to a variety of specialized audiences willing to pay for the added value over and above the original content.  These may be desirable outcomes in the end, and certainly present opportunities for useful partnerships among scholars, libraries, and publishers.  However, what is worrisome about many arguments in favor of open access is the lack of strategic thinking about how open access material will actually be used once it is made available, and the faith-based assumptions that only beneficial consequences will follow from providing open access.

One worry is that open access to traditionally published monographs and serials will cannibalize the sales of smaller publishers, pushing them into further decline, and make it difficult for them to invest in ways to help scholars select, edit, market, evaluate, and sustain the new products of scholarship represented in digital resources and databases.  The bigger worry, which is hardly recognized and much less discussed in open access circles, is that the large, heavily capitalized publishing firms will exploit open access repositories, cherry-picking the most valuable open access products, combining them with the most valuable new databases and resources, and selling them back to the academy at a significant profit, while chasing out sources of capital from within the academic community that are desperately needed to advance scientific, humanistic, and social science study....

Monday, April 23, 2007

R. Stephen Berry on OA in chemistry

R. Stephen Berry, Thoughts on digital scholarship in chemistry, Create Change, April 19, 2007.  (Thanks to Chemistry Central.)  Excerpt:

R. Stephen Berry is James Franck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemistry and the James Franck Institute at the University of Chicago....Dr. Berry is an accolades fellow with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences, and member of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1997, he received the J. Heyrovsky Honorary Medal for Merit in the Chemical Sciences, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and in 1993 was honored with the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung Senior Scientist Award....

Do you see open access benefiting science?

I only see good....

What are some of the challenges and changes to publishing in your field?

There are some publishers that have been slow to give easy access to their publications on the Internet. This is a suicidal course for publications. Some of them see putting it up on the Internet as a way of losing revenue. People that take that view miss the important point. The value and attraction of a publication depends on it being accessible to readers. Unless it is accessible, they will lose authors, readers and they’ll die. I don’t think it’s a matter of choice....

What do you think of the proposals to require more open access to publicly funded research?

My own feeling is that the focus on research results supported by government funds or funds from nonprofit institutions is almost mandatory....The whole justification for such research is the public goods it produces. A public good is one that an economist defines as something whose value does not diminish with use. Scientific public goods are unusual in that their value increases with use. The more they’re used, the more valuable they become....

[T]he only way that the funder of the research can achieve their goals is to do whatever it can to get results disseminated as widely as possible....

What recent improvements or changes in this area are encouraging?

The pressure on those resisting some form of open access is getting greater and greater....[H]ow a publisher will maintain their economic viability and still offer open access is a challenge publishers will simply have to come to terms with....

PLoS ONE version 0.6

PLoS ONE has upgraded to v. 0.6.  From the PLoS blog:

The PLoS ONE 0.6 release candidate is now live. This release candidate features Browse by Subject, Browse by Publication Date and a bunch of user registration/login/profile updates/fixes. The features implemented and bugs fixed in RC 0.6 include:

Red Hat supports open-source science

Matt Asay, Red Hat: Let's open source science next, Open Sources (a blog for InfoWorld), April 19, 2007.  Excerpt:

Red Hat, ever the open source innovator, has kicked off a partnership with the University of North Carolina and the North Carolina Research Campus to help germinate the open source mindset and mechanics in biotechnology, bioinformatics, public policy, and healthcare research....

As Joanne Rhode, Worldwide EVP of Operations at Red Hat, suggests, and as Allison echoes in her blog, this is about making open source bigger than software:

Our goal is to make collaboration and open source come to life in the field of clinical research. With our partners, we will identify specific projects where the sharing of information will lead to better, more accurate research. In turn this research will enable real-life solutions to be developed across both the public and private sector at the North Carolina Research Campus....

But as more and more research becomes corporatized, instead of government or university-led, we're in danger of losing "pure science." Open source science mitigates against this.

Kudos to Red Hat for thinking outside the software box. Open source is a methodology and a mentality that...will bring integrity and value to software. Surely, it can help to do the same in other areas, like clinical research.

Also see Stephen Shankland's article in and Matthew Aslet's article in Computer Business Review Online.

SAE may lift its notorious DRM

If you remember, the MIT libraries canceled their access to the Society of Automotive Engineers' digital library when the SAE refused to lift its onerous DRM.  Now Randy Reichardt reports that the SAE has heard from more angry customers and may back down.  Excerpt:

I am happy to report the following news. I was on the phone a few moments ago with a reliable contact here at the University of Alberta, who returned today from attending the SAE Congress in Detroit this week. According to my source (who remains anonymous until the "official" word gets out), the SAE Publications Board heard from many of its academic members regarding the SAE Digital Library (DL). A number of professors read SAE the Riot Act regarding both its airtight DRM restrictions as well as the DL licensing options, which are currently based on the estimated number of downloads per year. Having been made aware of how restrictive these policies are to its members and customers working in educational settings, SAE has apparently recognized the error of its ways.

As a result of the concerns brought forward by some of its membership, the word is that SAE has committed to rescinding its DRM policy, and change its licencing options to allow for an unrestricted number of downloaded papers and standards per educational site. Potentially this could happen within the next few weeks.

Scholarly communication moving toward mass-market blog-like tools

David Rosenthal has blogged some notes and reflections on the NSF/JISC Repositories Workshop (Phoenix, April 17-19, 2007).  Excerpt:

In his perceptive position paper for the workshop, Don Waters cites a fascinating paper by Harley et al. entitled "The Influence of Academic Values on Scholarly Publication and Communication Practices". I'd like to focus on two aspects of the Harley et al paper:

  • They describe a split between "in-process" communication which is rapid, flexible, innovative and informal, and "archival" communication. The former is more important in establishing standing in a field, where the latter is more important in establishing standing in an institution....[PS:  Omitting the second aspect here.]

In retrospect, I believe Malcolm Read made the most important observation of the workshop when he warned about the coming generational change in the scholarly community, to a generation which has never known a world without Web-based research and collaboration tools....

I'd like to try to connect these aspects to Malcolm's warnings....In my presentation I used as an example of "Web 2.0 scholarship" a post by Stuart Staniford, a computer scientist, to The Oil Drum blog, a forum for discussion of "peak oil" among a diverse group of industry professionals and interested outsiders, like Stuart. See comments and a follow-on post for involvement of industry insiders.

[M]y own basic

Blogs are bringing the tools of scholarly communication to the mass market, and with the leverage the mass market gives the technology, may well overwhelm the traditional forms.

Why is it that Stuart feels 2-3 times as productive doing "blog-science"? Based on my blog experience of reading (a lot) and writing (a little) I conjecture as follows:

  • The process is much faster. A few hours to a few days to create a post, then a few hours of intensive review, then a day or two in which the importance of the reviewed work becomes evident as other blogs link to it. Stuart's comment came 9 hours into a process that accumulated 217 comments in 30 hours. Contrast this with the ponderous pace of traditional academic communication.
  • The process is much more transparent. The entire history of the review is visible to everyone, in a citable and searchable form. Contrast this with the confidentiality-laden process of traditional scholarship.
  • Priority is obvious. All contributions are time-stamped, so disputes can be resolved objectively and quickly....
  • The process is meritocratic. Participation is open to all, not restricted to those chosen by mysterious processes that hide agendas. Participants may or may not be pseudonymous but their credibility is based on the visible record. Participants put their reputation on the line every time they post. The credibility of the whole blog depends on the credibility and frequency of other blogs linking to it - in other words the same measures applied to traditional journals, but in real time with transparency.
  • Equally, the process is error-tolerant....Because the penalty for error is lower, participants can afford to take more creative risk.
  • The process is both cooperative and competitive....
  • Review can be both broad and deep. Staniford says "The ability for anyone in the world, with who knows what skill set and knowledge base, to suddenly show up ... is just an amazing thing". And the review is about the written text, not about the formal credentials of the reviewers.
  • Good reviewing is visibly rewarded. Participants make their reputations not just by posting, but by commenting on posts. Its as easy to assess the quality of a participant reviews as to assess their authorship; both are visible in the public record.

Returning to the Harley et al. paper's observations, it is a commonplace that loyalty to employers is decreasing, with people expecting to move jobs frequently and often involuntarily. Investing in your own skills and success makes more sense than investing in the success of your (temporary) employer. Why would we be surprised that junior faculty and researchers are reluctant to put effort into institutional repositories for no visible benefit except to the institution?

More generally, it is likely that as the mechanisms for establishing standing in the field diverge from those for establishing standing in the institution, investment will focus on standing in the field as being more portable, and more likely to be convertible into standing in their next host institution.

It is also very striking how many of the problems of scholarly communication are addressed by Staniford's blog-science....

Why did arXiv arise? It was a reaction to a process so slow as to make work inefficient. Successive young generations lack patience with slow processes; they will work around processes they see as too slow just as the arXiv pioneers did. Note that once arXiv became institutionalized, it ceased to evolve and is now in danger of losing relevance as newer technologies with the leverage of the mass market overtake it....Almost nothing in the workshop was about speeding up the scholarly process, so almost everything we propose will probably get worked around and become irrelevant....

[H]ere's my prediction for the way future scholars will communicate. The entire process, from lab notebook to final publication, will use the same mass-market blog-like tools that everyone uses for everyday cooperation. Everything will be public, citable, searchable, accessible by automated scholarly tools, time-stamped and immutable. The big problem will not be preservation, because the mass-market blog-like platforms will treat the scholarly information as among the most valuable of their business assets. It will be more credible, and thus more used, and thus generate more income, than less refined content. The big problem will be a more advanced version of the problems currently plaguing blogs, such as spam, abusive behavior, and deliberate subversion. But, again, since the mass-market systems have these problems too, scholars will simply use the mass-market solutions.

More on OA to UK theses and dissertations

Tracey Caldwell, EThOS begins in earnest, Information World Review blog, April 19, 2007.  Excerpt:

Some of the most innovative research output in the UK will finally shake off its cloak of invisibility in two years’ time with the roll-out of a service that will take UK doctoral theses out of rarely visited library stacks and into the online mainstream.

In January, more than 70 higher education institutions said that they intended to join the Ethosnet project, which is now starting to digitise past doctoral theses in preparation for the Electronic Theses Online Service (EThOS) in 2009.

The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and the Consortium of Research Libraries in the British Isles (CURL) have developed the prototype for the project and the British Library will run it.

EThOS will offer full text access to UK theses through a single web interface. This will include theses digitised and stored electronically by the British Library as well as other theses held electronically by universities....

Astronomy journal launches an OA edition

After 16 years of TA publication, the astronomy journal, Meta Research Bulletin, has added an OA edition.  (Thanks to SpaceBanter.)  MRB is published by Meta Research.  From the journal's about page:

Meta Research is supported by individual memberships, donations, expeditions, and sale of publications.  Our quarterly Meta Research Bulletin is separate from Membership. The electronic edition is open access, with Members receiving a notice of publication and a brief summary. The print edition is [priced]....

Making your OA publications easier to find

PublicationsList is a new tool from Textensor that lets authors make an online linked list of their OA publications.  From today's announcement: launched to improve access to self-archived and open-access academic publications

Now there is nothing stopping every researcher having a professional and up-to-date list of their publications on the web.

[PublicationsList is] a new easy-to-use, on-line service designed to let researchers maintain a comprehensive public record of their research output with links to full text versions of papers.

With growing interest in open access journals and institutional repositories, an author's home page still remains the obvious starting point to access their work. But all too often personal web pages are out of date or do not link to full text versions of papers even when they are available.

Textensor's new designed to make the process of maintaining a comprehensive publications list on the web as quick and straightforward as possible. For most researchers this is the single most important aspect of their web presence.

Authors who already have their publications organised in reference management systems can simply upload the file to have them all imported in one go. For biomedical researchers, the system will also accept identifiers from PubMed, the central repository of bioscience papers, then fetch all the required data automatically.

Links can be included to full text versions of each paper and, where the publishers allow it, PDF files can be uploaded directly. This means the service can be used for individual self-archiving although Textensor anticipates that most users will prefer to link out to the various journal websites or institutional repositories where their work is already archived. The system will also host abstracts, keywords, and the author's own notes about their publications. These can be particularly useful, for example to indicate where a more recent publication supersedes an earlier one, or to add links to related work.

The key feature of is that it focuses on the requirements of the individual and remains a fixed point as they move between institutions in the course of their career and publish in a range of journals. To this end, it also allows the user to include their contact details and bibliography, and their papers are listed at a straightforward and memorable URL such as "". Hosting publications on is free for research students and there is a low cost subscription for academic staff....

German copyright proposals would reduce access and impede research

Germany's Coalition for Action on Copyright for Education and Research (Aktionsbündnis: Urheberrecht für Bildung und Wissenschaft) issued a press release on April 19 calling on Germany's Bundestag to reject copyright proposals that would impede research and adopt proposals that would promote and facilitate research.  Read it in German or Google's English.

Rainer Kuhlen, Speaker for the Coalition, has been kind enough to send me some additional details on the press release and copyright proposals:

As one of the means to put some pressure on the German law makers, in their final phase to pass a highly science and education unfriendly copyright law (the second attempt since 2003), we have encouraged [the 600+] professors [who signed the Coalition-sponsored Göttingen Declaration on Copyright for Education and Research, July 5, 2004] to write a letter to politicians in parliament and government. This is what the press release is about. In this letter we have concentrated on five aspects:

  1. Section 52b will allow access to digital material of a library from special work spaces within in the library only (on the spot use). We will be forced to go to the information rather than information should come to us (for instance campus-wide).
  2. 53a will concede publishers a monopoly for electronic document distribution; libraries and services such as subito will no longer be allowed to provide their clientele with electronic information, in case market will offer electronic retail services (what publishers increasingly do).
  3. We invite our politicians to take care for the problem of orphan works (what they have not done so far) and this as liberal as possible We support the position of the German Research Society (DFG): Orphan works should be seen and treated as being in the public domain until the rights holders claim the copyright. To ensure the freedom of research and educational use it is imperative, from the DFG's point of view, to guarantee that the digitisation of public domain or orphan works does not set new precedents concerning new copyright or exploitation rights over digital works."  
  4. We oppose any use of digital rights management in science and education; and, finally,
  5. We support the proposal of the German Bundesrat, the chamber of the states, to modify 38 UrhG so that the embargo time which is now 12 months will be reduced to six months at most, and, what is even more important, that this right cannot be overcome by contract, so that any agreement which give publishers an exclusive and unlimited right for their publication will be illegal. We believe that this can be a first (although insufficient) step towards open access publishing in institutional repositories. The government has rejected this proposal so far. In general they argue that open access is by no means restricted by copyright laws....

Update.  Also see Stefan Krempl, Professoren schlagen Alarm wegen der Urheberrechtsnovelle, Heise online, April 20, 2007