Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, May 12, 2007

More on the pricing crisis

Ashley Wiehle, SIUC library to cancel some serials, The Southern, May 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

Southern Illinois University Carbondale spends about $450,000 each year on books for the library - but that's pennies compared to money spent on academic journals and serials.
About 90 percent of the library's $5 million materials budget goes toward purchasing scholarly journals and magazines....

"Research at the university depends upon serials," said Susan Logue, associate dean for support services for Library Affairs. "Faculty depend on the journals to do their work and stay on top of their fields."

Logue is currently finishing a serials cancellation process, during which the library asked faculty members to choose from a list of the most expensive serials at the library which they absolutely must keep.

The library subscribes to about 30,000 titles, Logue said, and the price of the titles annually can run as high as $20,000....

Prices for serials can rise anywhere from 2 to 50 percent any given year, Logue said....

Although the library's $5 million budget hasn't decreased in recent years, it likewise hasn't risen, which means a decrease in buying power for the university, Logue said.

With only 10 percent of the library's budget going toward books, a 10 percent rise in the cost of serials - a realistic scenario, Logue said - could wipe out the library's entire budget for books.

"We've had to rob from the monograph (book) budgets to keep buying serials," Logue said....

Library staff put together a list of journals that have increased in 50 percent over the last five years....Those journals were put on the chopping block.  If faculty in each department determined they had to keep a journal on the cancellation list, the department was responsible for choosing a journal that could be cancelled instead, Logue said....

There are a number of organizations - notably the Association of Research Libraries and SPARC, the Scholarship Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition - that advocate a complete overhaul of the scholarly publishing industry.

Such organizations advocate open-access journals [and open-access archiving]...."Scholarly publishing initiatives are critical to changing the environment where research is published," Logue said.

Open-access journals with a rigorous peer-review system of research are cropping up, but it will be a slow process.

"I don't think the total solution to the problem is just to increase our budget," Logue said. "The solution to the problem is to break the cycle."

Alma Swan's new blog

Alma Swan has launched a blog, OptimalScholarship, which is bound to cover OA issues frequently and well.  Alma is one of the principals of Key Perspectives and one of the most prolific and data-oriented researchers into the state of OA and author attitudes toward it.  I've often cited her work in this blog.

From her inaugural post:

I've arrived! No, I'm not announcing my entry onto the blogging scene - though this is the inaugural posting. I'm referring to the description of me by a publishing industry representative, David Worlock, as both 'a fundamentalist' and 'shrill'. And what they say is that if people who disagree with you start calling you names, then they are taking you seriously.

Now first, let me say that I really like the 'fundamentalist' bit. I have always strived to avoid the superficial, speculative and emotional end of the spectrum and to base the views that I hold on facts, so far as I am able. So yes, I do fundamentalism. The 'shrill' label sits less easily, though. By the way, David was writing a critique of my recent invited essay for American Scientist on how Open Access can advance science. He was doing so in an article for Outsell Insights, a publication from Outsell Inc., for whom he is a senior researcher, that sells to the publishing industry.

So, let's examine 'shrill'. I was asked in my essay to define the ways in which Open Access advances science and there I was, thinking that I'd done so in moderated terms, supporting each point I was making with good data and reasoned argument. I detailed four ways in which science is advanced by Open Access: it enables greater visibility and, as a result, impact; it moves science along more quickly; it enables new 'Web 2.0' semantic technologies to work on scientific output, generating new knowledge by data-mining and text-mining scientific output in the vast single information space that Open Access provides; and it enables new tools that can measure impact and effectiveness in brand new ways, a boon to research managers and funders across the world. Shrill? I don't think so....

Worlock goes on to talk more about the marketplace, including pointing out that there are 'only' 2500 open access journals "though BioMed Central is in process of launching some more". Actually, it's bigger and more important than Worlock makes out. He paints a picture of near-stagnation, but things are moving fast. As predicted, a number of smaller publishers are now planning to move aggressively into the open access space, predominantly, but not solely, with article-processing-charge models. Yes, BioMed Central is in the process of 'launching some more', as Worlock puts it, though it would be more accurate to say that it is launching two whole new services - Chem Central and PhysMath Central - with a host of new journals in those disciplines. And Bentham, until now a subscription-based publisher, is about to project 300 new open access journals, across many disciplines, into the fray....

PS:  Welcome to the blogosphere, Alma!

U of Bremen plans for OA

The University of Bremen's Science Plan 2010 (February 23, 2007, p. 35) endorses the goal of providing open access and creating the infrastructure needed for it. 

Thanks to Eric Steinhauer.  Read his blog post in German or in Google's English.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The copyright problem in the German Parliament

Yesterday, Germany's Urheberrecht für Bildung und Wissenschaft (Coalition for Action for Copyright for Education and Research) issued a press release explaining to the German Parliament why OA doesn't conflict with copyright.  Read it in German or Google's English.

However its action was unavailing.  Today the upper house of Parliament seemed to accept the publishing lobby's argument that the evolving OA policy from the EU would violate copyright.  For details, see Stefan Krempl's story in Heise Online (in German or Google's English). 

My German and Google's English are not good enough for me to grasp the details of the publisher objections or the Parliamentary action.  If bilingual readers could help with summaries or insights on our forum (SOAF), I'd be very grateful.

Update. Donat Agosti has generously posted an English translation of four key paragraphs from Krempl's article.

Update. Also see Chris Armbruster's comments and clarifications on SOAF.

Update. Also see Bundesrat: Open-access-Modell soll wissenschaftliche Veröffentlichungen nur ergänzen, Institut für Urheber- und Medienrecht, May 11, 2007, and Google's English.

Presentations from RIN conference

The presentations from the conference, Why needs libraries anyway? (London, April 30, 2007), are now online.  (Thanks to Colin Steele.)

This is the conference where last month's report, Researchers' use of academic libraries and their services (commissioned by RIN and CURL, undertaken by Key Perspectives) was originally presented.  Among other things, the report documents the extent of faculty ignorance of OA.

OA to species descriptions

Quentin D. Wheeler and Frank T. Krell, Codes must be updated so that names are known to all, Nature, May 10, 2007 (accessible only to subscribers).  A letter to the editor. 

Thanks to Donat Agosti for the alert and, since I don't have access, for this summary:

Wheeler and Krell [call for] changes in the Codes of Zoological and Botanical Nomenclature to assure that any new described species are immediately known to the universe. For that they require

  • First, require such registration before a name is formally available for use.
  • Second, require full text descriptions of species to be deposited by publishers or authors in a central, publicly open ‘bank’, free of charge, such as will be provided by ZooBank for zoological names....
  • Third, require electronic publications to include a ‘hot’ link to these banks of names and descriptions....

Agosti continues, as a comment:

The call for open access to systematic literature is not new, but coincides this time with the announcement of the Encyclopedia of Life, which is building very strongly on the published record. Within the Biodiversity Heritage Library component, they plan to scan in the [public-domain] legacy publications....

We need to rethink our own behavior. We should change the Codes, that open access to the publication is mandated, and with that that the species descriptions can be discovered online. We need at least to self archive our publications, not signing contracts with publishers which do not allow that....

Two more German institutions sign the Berlin Declaration

A German learned society and a German research institute have signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge:

PS:  VAAM's journal, BIOSpektrum, is published by Elsevier.  I assume that it's green and not gold, like other Elsevier journals.  Does VAAM's recent decision to sign the Berlin Declaration mean that it may strengthen BIOSpektrum's green policy, for example, to allow OA archiving in PubMed Central without anyone having to pay Elsevier a fee?

Pakistan plans OA portal for all its journals

Pakistani Journals to be available for worldwide electronic access through Online Portal, Associated Press of Pakistan, May 11, 2007.  Excerpt:

Under Digital Library Programme of Higher Education Commission (HEC), an open-access online portal will be established through which all journals published in Pakistan will be made available for worldwide electronic access.

The portal will allow international exposure of research conducted within Pakistan, and will assist in international peer-review process of indigenous publications.

Once implemented, "PJOL; Pakistan Journals Online" will have a fully searchable web interface similar to that of any other international electronic journal database....

Comment.  This is a big step.  So far I don't know more, such as how these journals have been supported in the past, how they'll be supported after the transition, and whether Pakistan also plans to adopt an OA mandate for publicly-funded research --which might be published in a non-Pakistani journal.

Open data on the semantic web

The slides from the WWW2007 session, Building a Semantic Web in Which Our Data Can Participate (Banff, May 10, 2007), are now online.  (Thanks to Wendy Seltzer.)

Update. Also see Peter Murray-Rust's blog notes on his own presentation.

Discussion group for Antipodean repository managers

Alison Hunter has created a new Google Group, Institutional Repository Community - ANZ, for repository managers especially from Australia and New Zealand.  From the site:

A Community of Practice list for all Institutional Repository managers in Australian and New Zealand universities, regardless of software platform, location, project, or readiness. Multiple institutional memberships are welcome. This is a single forum to inform, discuss, & share problems & ideas.

One early mailing added that "although non-Antipodean members will not be solicited, they won't be excluded either."

PS:  By my count, this is the third site/group/list where repository managers can swap tips and talk shop.  The first two are IR-Managers, launched by Dorothea Salo, and UKCoRR (UK Council of Research Repositories), launched by SHERPA, both in March 2007.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Automated abstracts to compete with Wikipedia

Sage eReference is worried about competition from Wikipedia.  In response, it's asking Google to produce 100-word abstracts for the SeR articles.  For details, see Mark Chillingworth's story in the May 8 Information World Review.

Comment.  I assume that Google will use text-summarizing software to produce the abstracts.  If so, the important news here is that Google is starting to apply these tools to scholarly content --a welcome development, especially if competitors drive up the quality for users.  But I don't get it:  how will this help SeR compete with Wikipedia?  The abstracts won't improve the quality of SeR's articles or make their existing quality more evident.  Moreover, SeR is is not OA.  People who turn to Wikipedia don't always want to edit but they do always want OA.

OA repository for Nordic arts and humanities

The Copenhagen University Library has announced An e-print archive for Nordic arts and humanities.  Excerpt:

We wish to provide a policy and a technical infrastructure that permits Open Access to research within the arts and humanities. We believe that this will result in a number of advantages with respect to the electronic accessibility and visibility of the arts and humanities research area. The initial aim is to make Nordic research available through an Open Access online electronic full text archive. The archive will primarily contain research e-prints in the form of preprints, reprints, working papers, book chapters, conference reports, invited lecture manuscripts etc. The archive will be setup, maintained and promoted by Copenhagen University Library and consortium members. Submissions of electronic text material to the archive will be decentral and take place at the local individual researcher, or research group level.

Nordbib has graciously granted the project 287.000 DKK (May 2007), as part of its financing programme (Work Package 2: Focus area on Content and Accessibility).

Project deliverables

The following goals will be attained by the proposed project:

  • Proof of concept of an Open Access arts and humanities e-print archive for Nordic research
  • An operational technical infrastructure facilitating Open Access to Nordic arts and humanities
  • A policy for an Open Access research e-print archive
  • A Nordic knowledge network for Open Access e-print archives

PS:  Apparently the archive itself isn't yet online, but I'll blog the URL as soon as it's made available.

Copyright guide for ETDs

Damien O’Brien and Anne Fitzgerald, Copyright Guide for Research Students: What you need to know about copyright before depositing your electronic thesis in an online repository, Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law Project, May 2007.  From the OAK law front page:

This guide is designed to assist research students in managing copyright issues which they may encounter in writing and depositing their electronic thesis in an online repository. The guide provides a broad overview of copyright law and importantly addresses critical issues relating to the inclusion of third party copyright material in a students thesis. The guide aims to simplify these issues through the inclusion of two model third party copyright permission requests, which students can use to obtain permission from the copyright owner before including third party material.

The first half is a general primer on copyright unrelated to theses, repositories, or OA, and a useful section at the end introduces students to CC licenses.

BioOne offers free online access to society members

BioOne has launched the Free BioOne Society Member Access program.  From yesterday's announcement:

Building upon our continuing efforts to provide BioOne participating publishers and their membership with new services and benefits, we are delighted to announce the Free BioOne Society Member Access program. This groundbreaking program offers societies the option to provide their members free access to their publications on BioOne through referring URL authentication from a secure log-in area on the society website.

Report on Open Repositories 2007

Julie Allinson and three co-authors, What Is an Open Repository? Ariadne, April 2007.  A report on Open Repositories 2007 (San Antonio, January 23-26, 2007).  Excerpt:

...With the strap-line 'achieving interoperability in an open world', the conference promoted interoperability and openness in various ways, not just between repositories on a technical level, but also between development communities, technical implementers, librarians and repository managers....

The DSpace user group opened with a session dedicated to 'Governance and Architecture' where Mackenzie Smith and John Ockerbloom talked about the status and proposed new technical architecture of the DSpace software. Use of DSpace is international and growing, and the new architecture plans to support the community needs through growing modularisation....

Eprints took this conference as an opportunity to officially launch version 3.0 [8], a major upgrade over previous versions. Les Carr offered a detailed walkthrough of the software, illustrating the various new and improved features such as a more user friendly workflow, built-in LDAP authentication, support for publisher embargo periods, auto-suggest for author name entry and importing metadata from other systems....

Atsuko Takano covered the Chiba University institutional repository and the institutional repository movement in Japan. She introduced the "principle of principled promiscuity" whereby repositories, in order to encourage deposit, welcome everything....

Thursday was wrapped up by a session on Interoperability, where Carl Lagoze presented preliminary ideas about the new OAI-ORE [26] initiative and reported on a recent technical committee meeting. Lagoze introduced the resource-centric ORE as a companion to the metadata-centric OAI and outlined the ORE view of a compound digital object where constituent parts can be re-used and uniquely referenced. Julie Allinson went on to describe some related work in the U.K. to create a lightweight service for facilitating deposit across multiple repositories in a standard way....

The closing plenary session on Friday morning was on e-Science and e-Scholarship and opened with Julie Allinson who introduced a Dublin Core Application Profile for describing scholarly works which had made use of the FRBR application model and the Dublin Core Abstract Model to facilitate the capture of multiple descriptions for different entities. Matthias Razum talked about eSciDoc, a collaborative project between the Max Planck Society and FIZ Karlsruhe to create a scholarly information and communication platform that moves research organisations away from 'information silos' and supports the research process from idea through to completion. To close, C. Lee Giles introduced work on the ChemXSeer portal for the chemistry discipline. The repository will be truly hybrid, integrating scientific literature with experimental and analytical data, and automatically harvested materials with user submitted data.

The closing keynote came from Tony Hey, currently Vice President for Technical Computing at Microsoft and formerly the Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. Hey talked about e-Science and Scholarly Communication, presenting a vision of the direction that both will take in the digital age. Hey believes that we are on 'on the verge of a new type of science paradigm' that will see scientific research becoming increasingly date-centric, using computational methods to enrich the scholarly data lifecycle from data acquisition and ingest, through metadata and annotation, to storage and provenance. Linking experimental data with publications, analysis and statistical data are also critical elements of the cycle and Hey pointed to a range of examples to illustrate, including the ChemXSeer portal outlined by C. Lee Giles in the final plenary presentation. Hey ended his talk by making the case for open access and open document formats....

Australia's evolving vision for OA repositories

Andrew Treloar and David Groenewegen, ARROW, DART and ARCHER: A Quiver Full of Research Repository and Related Projects, Ariadne, April 2007.  Excerpt:

This paper describes three inter-related repository projects. These projects were all funded by the Australian Commonwealth Government through the Systemic Infrastructure Initiative as part of the Commonwealth Government's Backing Australia's Ability - An Innovation Action Plan for the Future. The article will describe the background to all three projects and the way in which their development has been inter-related and co-ordinated. The article will conclude by examining how Monash University (the lead institution in all three projects) is re-conceiving the relationship between its different repositories....

ARROW was initially envisaged as a total solution for the storage and access of digital materials. Work on the project demonstrated that it was too ambitious a project, and that building the tools necessary into a single space was unlikely to be realistic. The DART Project gave us the beginnings of an understanding of the type of tools that would be needed in the collaborative space we originally envisaged. As ARCHER progresses the linkages between it and ARROW will become stronger. Between them we envisage a 'curation boundary' - a software-based workflow that will use human intervention to decide what moves from the collaborative space that ARCHER represents, into the 'publishing' section that ARROW provides....

The original ARROW bid envisaged a single underlying repository that would underpin all the research outputs of a university. The process of moving from ARROW to DART and now ARCHER has suggested an alternative model. This is based on two different kinds of repository: one optimised for collaboration and one for publication. As both ARROW and ARCHER move out of the project phase and into production, these ideas will be further developed, enabling a more mature assessment of the value of this approach. Until then, it is safe to conclude that ARROW is clearly a success in its own terms, DART has made significant advances and ARCHER is showing early promise.

More on Germany's Informationsplattform Open Access

Germans advocate Open Access online, Information World Review, May 10, 2007. 

A group of German universities have launched a web site to advocate the adoption of open access (OA) publishing. is backed by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and managed by the universities of Bielefeld, Goettingen, Constance and the Free University of Berlin.

By creating the German language platform the group hope to promote OA to scientific and political communities by providing a single source of comprehensive information on OA publishing. The German Research Foundation currently only recommends scientists to provide open access versions of papers that it has funded.

The site will provide users with information on the costs of OA publishing, its legal aspects and the strategies of OA publishing. There are also articles advocating the use of OA. These are targeted not only at scientific researchers, but also institutions, professional associations, libraries and publishing houses.

Funding for the platform will come from the German Rectors' Conference, Volkswagen Foundation and the German Initiative for Networked Information.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wisconsin also adopts CIC author addendum

On May 7, the University of Wisconsin at Madison adopted the Author Addendum drafted by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC).  (Thanks to Dorothea Salo.)

This is becoming a trend among CIC member institutions.  On May 3 the author addendum was adopted by the University of Minnesota and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Excerpt from the resolution adopted by the UWM Faculty Senate:

...Institutions and organizations around the world, including the CIC provosts, are leading initiatives to inform authors in all disciplines about their rights and how to retain them. When scholarship is published in journals or elsewhere, publishers typically ask authors to sign a transfer agreement, or contract, that describes the assignment of rights to the publisher of the intellectual property. These agreements often result in the deprivation of various authors’ rights such as the right to post the article on the public internet or to make copies for classroom use. According to traditional publication agreement, all rights—including copyright—are typically surrendered to the publisher.

The CIC provosts recognize the complexity of the issues involved in publication, but are nonetheless committed to helping our faculty make the most of their work and support the free flow of scholarly information in support of university missions. To that end they have distributed the attached Statement on Publishing Agreements along with the Addendum to Publication Agreements for CIC Authors.

The CIC provosts suggest that faculty authors consider a number of factors when choosing and interacting with publishers for their works. The goal of publication should be to encourage widespread dissemination and impact; the means for accomplishing this will necessarily depend on the nature of the work in question, the author’s circumstances, available suitable outlets, and expectations in the author’s field of inquiry.

The Library Committee amended the original CIC addendum distributed by the CIC provosts to include subsection 4 that was derived from ARL’s Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)....This sub-section is a default clause that states that in the event that the publisher publishes the article in the journal without signing a copy of the addendum, the publisher will be deemed to have assented to the terms of the addendum....

PS:  Kudos to all involved at Wisconsin, especially to the Library Committee which prepared the resolution and submitted it to the Faculty Senate.

Update. Also see the UWM press release.

Publisher view of how to balance rights

The ALPSP, AAP/PSP, and STM have issued a joint white paper, Author and Publisher Rights For Academic Use: An Appropriate Balance, May 2007.  From the announcement:

In particular, the White Paper notes that:

Academic research authors and their institutions should be able to use and post the content that such authors and institutions themselves provide for internal institutional, non-commercial research and education purposes; 

Publishers should be able to determine when and how the official publication record occurs, and to derive the revenue benefit from the publication and open posting of the official record (the final published article), and its further distribution and access in recognition of the value of the services they provide.  

From the full text:

Copyright transfers or exclusive licenses, even with the rights reserved by authors for academic uses as noted above, provide the legal basis for subscription and licensing activities, whether in the print or the digital environment and whether for journals or individual articles. Transfers or exclusive licenses ensure that publishers have the right to deal with uses beyond the ‘first publication right’, to facilitate electronic delivery and investments in such systems, and to manage permissions and similar rights management systems. Exclusive rights also provide a legal basis for publishers to administer copyright and permissions matters for authors and enforce copyright claims with respect to plagiarism and related ethical issues....

Exclusive rights are critical to administering the scientific record and ensuring viable business models for journals....

Recently, a number of funding agencies, public and private, have asserted a right to control the distribution of articles that result from funded research programs. Publishers generally recognize the importance of research funding, and the public interest involved, but are concerned about the potential to waste monies with unnecessary duplicate systems, confuse the scientific record, and undermine journal revenue, given the large volume of funding for scientific and medical research. Many publishers also question whether the goals of these agencies could be better met through alternative means (posting of abstracts or pre-prints, links to publishers’ own web sites, the actual creation of more consumer-oriented content). Publishers are gravely concerned that on one hand their investments in and contributions to the editing and peer-review systems are dismissed as trivial, while on the other hand these agencies insist that nothing will help to meet the agencies’ goals other than open public access to the articles that benefit the most from publishers’ contributions.

Most publishers in the scholarly community recognize, as noted above, that most academic or scholarly uses by authors of their own papers are appropriate and unlikely to harm business models. Typically publisher policies and publishing agreements note the retention or granting of permission for extensive use of author’s papers within the author’s institution, notably for teaching purposes, and posting of some version of the paper for institutional repositories and author personal pages....

Our view is that the appropriate balancing of rights for academic journal publishing should be on these general terms:

  • Academic research authors and their institutions should be able to use and post the content that such authors and institutions themselves provide (as noted above, most publishers already provide for this) for internal institutional noncommercial research and education purposes; and
  • Publishers should be able to determine when and how the official publication record occurs, and to derive the revenue benefit from the publication and open posting of the official record (the final published article), and its further distribution and access in recognition of the value of the services they provide.

An important implication of the above view is that funding agencies, search engines, and other third parties who wish to use or distribute the publisher versions of journal articles should only do so upon consultation and under an agreement with the publisher.


  1. Academic research authors and their institutions should be able to use and post the content that such authors and institutions themselves provide for internal institutional, non-commercial research and education purposes....  This key sentence is unfortunately ambiguous.  Does the adjective "internal" apply only the word immediately following it in the sentence or to all the words following it?  If the former, then the document would allow OA postprints to be used for non-commercial research whether or not it was internal to the author's institution.  If the latter, then it would restrict the use of OA postprints so much that they'd have to be removed from OA repositories, which deliberately make their contents accessible to all users everywhere.  In that case, the document's position is one-sided, insufficient, and a retreat from the permissions most publishers already give to post to an institutional repository.  (BTW, the sentence in the announcement slightly supports the first reading by inserting a comma after "institutional", while the sentence in the body of the text slightly supports the second reading by omitting the comma.)
  2. Copyright transfers or exclusive licenses...provide the legal basis for subscription and licensing activities.... This is generally true.  But it's not a justification for those who think that "publication and licensing activities" are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
  3. The argument that publishers need exclusive rights to prosecute plagiarists is baloney.  First, the rights are rarely used this way.  Plagiarism is typically punished by the plagiarist's institution, not by courts --i.e. by social norms, not by law.  Second, if it's ever desirable to pursue a plagiarist in court and authors don't give publishers the right to do so on their own, then authors retain that right to use as they see fit.  Third, many authors would rather have a larger audience and impact than give their publisher the seldom-used legal tools to prosecute plagiarists.  Authors should make this decision, not publishers.  Finally, if an author discovers a plagiarist and the publisher really wants to get involved, the author can always delegate the publisher to act as his/her agent.  For this purpose, publishers do not need rights from the time of publication, nor do they need exclusive rights, let alone a policy to limit access to the author's work.
  4. The argument that OA policies at public funding agencies will lead to wasteful duplication is also baloney.  Some publishers are providing OA to some content when it's sufficiently old. But this is a far cry from providing OA to virtually all publicly-funded research within six months of publication. If ALPSP, AAP/PSP, and STM are saying that the voluntary efforts of their members will approach what FRPAA (for example) would mandate, then the duplication argument starts to make sense.  But in that case they have to stop arguing that OA to publicly-funded research would kill their revenues, kill their journals, and kill peer review.  They can't have it both ways.
  5. [F]unding agencies, search engines, and other third parties who wish to use or distribute the publisher versions of journal articles should only do so upon consultation and under an agreement with the publisher.... Fair enough but not really responsive.  The funder policies and proposals that these publishers oppose do not apply to the published version of an article.  They apply only to the final version of the author's peer-reviewed manuscript. 

A definition of OA for the German Parliament

Today the scientific services (Wissenschaftliche Dienste) of the German Parliament (Deutscher Bundestag) published a two-page document by Daniel Lübbert defining and explaining OA, Open Access: Freier Zugang zu wissenschaftlicher Information

PS:  Recall that the Bundestag is now debating the evolving OA policy for Europe.  The Lübbert definition is based on the Berlin Declaration but I can't tell whether it subtly spins the concept to help or hurt the case for OA.  Because the document is a PDF, I can't link to a machine translation. 

Profile of Matt Cockerill and BioMed Central

Jane Dudman, In the eye of the Open Access storm, IT Week, May 8, 2007.  Excerpt:

Matthew Cockerill is in the interesting position of having watched an idea grow from being dismissed as fantasy to its acceptance as fact.

When Cockerill joined BioMed Central as its first employee in 1999, he arrived at the dawn of open access (OA) publishing. “The idea of OA publishing was then pretty much unknown,” he says, “but we wanted to start from the ground up to build a web-based publishing company that would be streamlined without a lot of the inefficient stuff that seemed to have become part of publishing over time.”

Cockerill joined BioMed Central as its technical director, hired by Vitek Tracz, group chairman of the Science Navigation Group, a loose-knit group of companies involved in science publishing and other technology-driven areas. He is now the company’s publisher....

As OA has become accepted across the wider publishing market, the challenges facing BioMed Central have changed. “In the early days, the challenge was to get the scientific community to recognise there was an issue, and that research could be more effectively communicated, but that ceased to be a challenge about 18 months ago. That was the point where I think we realised that OA had grown to have a life of its own.” ...

“Soon, everyone else will be OA too, so there has to be enough extra reason to publish with BioMed Central.” Providing an excellent service to authors is vital.

Naturally, the maturing of the OA market has not been entirely smooth. While open access offers advantages, the market as a whole appears unsure about how to get there.

“One of the points we make is that it is no good spending money on research if the results then get trapped under a bushel.” ...

One of the questions about OA publishing is about how to make money from it. It’s a question that BioMed Central has had to face, and on which it has had to be flexible.

“You do need a different model for open access, given that you don’t have subscription revenue, and there were always going to be challenges in finding the model that works,” Cockerill says.

In the early days, BioMed Central did not make any charges. Its journals still do not have colour figure charges or submission fees. But there is an article processing charge for most of the open access articles published in BioMed Central journals. On average, the charge is between $1,200 and $1,500.

“Our costs are very low if you compare them with other OA and traditional publishing costs, but it is a still a shift,” Cockerill acknowledges....

Cockerill points out that major research funding bodies, particularly the Wellcome Trust, have expressed support for this publishing model. BioMed Central maintains that there is no inherent reason why OA publications supported by article processing charges cannot be sustainable and profitable.

Nonetheless, adapting to changing markets can be painful. In mid-2006, several BioMed Central journal editors expressed concerns about increases in article processing charges, about a new code of conduct and about increasing overlap between existing and new journals. At the time, Cockerill acknowledged that there were issues that needed improving, and said the company was working on them....

Cockerill points out that the policies of fund providers such as Wellcome and CERN have helped the market move forward. “That has made it easier, because we are not the only ones encouraging OA. Overall, we have made huge strides towards getting the OA model right. We have realistic article processing charges and our institutional payment models are also now realistic, so all the building blocks are in place.”

Cockerill says that as a result BioMed Central is very close to breaking even. “That’s not just nice for us as a company, but hugely important in terms of the wider OA market. We are so high profile – we want to show that open access can work in the real world.” ...

Encyclopedia of Life

A group of research institutions and two foundations have launched the Encyclopedia of Life, an OA, multimedia compendium of biodiversity on planet Earth.  From yesterday's press release:

Many of the world’s leading scientific institutions today announced the launch of the Encyclopedia of Life, an unprecedented global effort to document all 1.8 million named species of animals, plants, and other forms of life on Earth. For the first time in the history of the planet, scientists, students, and citizens would have multi-media access to all known living species, even those that have just been discovered.

The Field Museum, Harvard University, Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole), Smithsonian Institution, and Biodiversity Heritage Library joined together to initiate the project, bringing together species and software experts from across the world. The Missouri Botanical Garden has become a full partner, and discussions are taking place this week with leaders of the new Atlas of Living Australia....

The effort is spurred by a $10 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and $2.5 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation....

Over the next 10 years, the Encyclopedia of Life will create Internet pages for all 1.8 million species currently named. It will expedite the classification of the millions of species yet to be discovered and catalogued as well. The pages...will provide written information and, when available, photographs, video, sound, location maps, and other multimedia information on each species. Built on the scientific integrity of thousands of experts around the globe, the Encyclopedia will be a moderated wiki-style environment, freely available to all users everywhere....

To provide depth behind the portal page for each species, the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), a consortium that holds most of the relevant scientific literature, will scan and digitize tens of millions of pages of the scientific literature that will offer open access to detailed knowledge. In fact, the BHL now has scanning centers operating in London, Boston, and Washington DC, and has scanned the first 1.25 million pages for the Encyclopedia....

Also see the news coverage.

Update. Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson conceived this project. See a 20-minute video in which he describes its central place in the fight to preserve our planet's biodiversity.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

An OA repository on governance

Melissa Fraser, IGLOO Library, Special Info & Musings for Ottawa IM Professionals, May 7, 2007.  Fraser is the Content Services Specialist at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo.  Excerpt:

I would like to introduce you to an exciting new free resource on global governance issues: The IGLOO Library [from CIGI]. The IGLOO library is a completely digital, entirely open access online repository consisting of several unique collections on global governance issues. These collections were created to serve the needs of practitioners, researchers, academics, and students.

The Web Resources collection consists of an index of over 3 million websites on economics, international institutions, energy, international law, environment, peace & security, health, science & technology, humanitarian issues, and social & political development.

The Electronic Documents collection consists of over 5,000 PDF and word documents from our content partners. These content partners include research centres, universities, and non-governmental organizations such as the Academic Council of the United Nations System (ACUNS), the Brookings Institutions, International Crisis Group, Overseas Development Group (ODI), and the Parliamentary Centre. Electronic copies of these documents are stored within the library to ensure continued access and are protected by a creative commons license....

The News collection provides access to headlines from over 300 international news sources....

The IGLOO library could also serve as a platform for you to preserve and share your documents. You can submit publications and links to the library for public access to gain exposure for your host organization’s work. We are a young library and have been developing our collection through the generous document sharing of content partners. We are always searching for new partners who can provide us with new materials for our collections and ideas for information dissemination and preservation....

More on the OA Journal of Medical Case Reports

David Bradley, Open access medical records, ScienceBase, May 8, 2007.  Excerpt:

Medical case reports serve a vital role in medicine....Case studies provide unique insights into the rare side effects of new medications, early warning indicators of potential new diseases, unexpected associations between diseases or symptoms, and much more. Indeed, it was through case reports in the medical literature, that the earliest information on AIDS, Lyme disease and toxic shock syndrome emerged.

In recent years, however, economic and ethical pressures have led research journals to publish fewer and fewer medical case reports. The main pressure seems to be that such papers are of limited interest when read in isolation and more problematic from the publishers’ point of view are unlikely to be highly cited. Many research journals tout citation counts as a major selling point both to authors and subscribers, so poor-selling papers are unattractive to the marketing team.

The end result, is that a vast wealth of unique scientific data is simply lost.

Michael Kidd, Professor and Head of the Discipline of General Practice at the University of Sydney, hopes to change all that. He is founder of the open access (OA) Journal of Medical Case Reports. The OA approach taken by this journal means that medical case reports can find an audience regardless of citation concerns. By utilizing the OA publishing model, interesting case reports can reach the medical profession where previously they would simply sink without trace. With open access to this information, doctors can easily compare symptoms and treatments between patients and researchers and can sift through thousands of reports to formulate hypotheses and search for patterns and correlations. Who knows when the next AIDS or Lyme disease will emerge. Case reports might provide the first hints from the unfortunate “early adopters.”

How to convince researchers and management

The Newsletter for May/June 2007 has some notes on the Sensitization Workshop for Institutional Repositories and Open Access for Scholarly Communication (Maseru, Lesotho, April 24-26, 2007).  Excerpt:

...Susan Veldsman attended this important event for the library community in Lesotho and for Swaziland. Hussein Suleman, Eve Gray and Monica Hammes were the resource people who joined her. This meeting was well attended by 40 librarians (systems, acquisitions and information), researchers, lectors, registrars and PVC’s of institution.  The presentations were well received and attendees were left inspired and motivated.

The action points that were identified at the end of the workshop by ways of discussion groups were:

How to convince researchers and management

  • Do more research on IR/OA to be better informed, look up other archives that are Open Access;
  • Spread the message by word-of-mouth;
  • Set up steering committees;
  • Look into cost implications to convince management;
  • Approach IT people for more support, then approach management/researchers;
  • Install and experiment with open software for IR’s;
  • Find active researchers who publish and mentor, find management champions;
  • Try to determine how they will resist and deal with this by formulating active policies;
  • Educate researchers and management;
  • Argue for immediate recognition of research.

More on OA in the humanities

Mark Chillingworth, Business is booming for humanities, IT Week, May 8, 2007.  Excerpt:

Scientific publishing may have grabbed the lion’s share of attention over the past year or two due to the ongoing open access debate, but humanities and social science subjects often pull in more students to an institution.

As a result, the information industry has been adapting to meet the needs of students, academics and libraries alike. Among the changes in this sector are backfile digitisation, increased web access, an expansion of portfolios and rising interest in business-related studies. The same forces of consolidation that are blowing through other sectors have also left their mark....

Open access publishing has so far has shown little presence in humanities. [David Bull, journals director at Palgrave Macmillan] believes open access could wreak more damage in the sector than it could in science. “Our content remains valuable for a longer time,” he says of the damage that processes such as the six-month embargoes from the likes of the Public Library of Science could do.

But Wiley Blackwell’s Carpenter doesn’t believe the humanities community is very different. “They are less sensitive about open access arguments,” he says.

Emerald has begun experimenting with an open access programme....


  1. The Public Library of Science provides immediate OA and doesn't use embargoes.  David Bull must have been thinking of funding agency policies, which encourage or require OA after an embargo period.
  2. It's true that OA is moving more slowly in the humanities than in the STM fields, but it's just as desirable and attainable in the humanities as it is in other fields.  It's also picking up speed.  Here are the major developments from 2006 alone (from my review of OA in 2006): 
  3. The US National Endowment for the Humanities adopted a policy to favor applications that promise OA for their results.  The long-awaited report from the American Council of Learned Societies not only recommended OA for the humanities, but recommended OA mandates by funders and supportive actions by universities.  The EU funded the Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH).  The OA Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy took large strides toward building its endowment.  MediaCommons began to self-assemble as a cooperative OA book press for the humanities.  The Karman Center for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Bern committed itself to OA for all its future projects.  The Task Force on Electronic Publication for the American Philological Association and Archaeological Institute of America recommended that American classicists self-archive and may later recommend that American classics journals convert to OA.  Eight classicists issued an open letter to colleagues calling for more OA in the field.  Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council reaffirmed its support for OA, though it still stops short of a mandate.  JISC and two of the UK Research Councils --the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-- are extending the UK's e-Science program to the arts and humanities.  The AHRC is covered by the general RCUK commitment to OA but is still deciding on the exact form of its own policy.  The British Academy wrote a report showing how UK copyright law hindered scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.  The Modern Language Association recommended tenure reforms to encourage digital publication and departmental rewards for it.  And there was wider recognition, approaching a consensus, that the journal pricing crisis in the sciences is a major cause of the monograph crisis in the humanities --and that OA will help both.

Increasing the visibility of the OCA's OA books

Rick Prelinger, Access to our digitized books, Prelinger Library blog, May 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

It shouldn't be so difficult to get to our scanned books, but right now it is. There's full-text search of most of our online titles (and almost two hundred thousand Open Content Alliance titles as well) thru MSN Live Search, but there need to be easier ways to find books.

In the next month or so, we're going to try one way of exposing our books a little more widely, which is to generate annotated bibliographies by subject....

When our books are publicized, people read them; this BoingBoing post led to almost 5,000 downloads of two books on the 1939 Westinghouse time capsule. On one title, the Book of Record of the Westinghouse Time Capsule, the number of downloads is close to exceeding the number of copies printed, which tends to suggest that scanning obscure texts is a good thing.

New LIS portal and repository for SE Europe

Kosson is a new LIS portal for Romania and southeast Europe.  It includes an OA repository for self-archiving by community members.  (I can't tell who counts as a community member.)  Also see Kosson's English-language brochure.

No-fee OA journals for the developing world

Pertti Saariluoma, Open Access Publishing As A Bridge Across The Digital Divide, Human Technology, May 2007.  (Thanks to Kimmo Kuusela.)  Excerpt:

...[T]he free flow of knowledge remains essential for development of all societies....

One major challenge facing many developing countries is that their researchers have very little access to contemporary scientific literature....

Because many researchers in developing countries face an unreliable electricity supply, poor Internet connections, as well as a lack adequate computer equipment, appropriate software, and even technological expertise..., the opportunities to get their research into the international arena is severely compromised....

Human Technology: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Humans in ICT Environments has, from its very inception, envisioned open access to knowledge and collaboration among multiple disciplines as its key benefits. Funding from the Agora Center at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, has allowed, so far, articles from around the world to be considered, peer-reviewed, accepted, and published without the need for author-funded page fees and for the content of all articles to be fully available to individuals in higher education and industry no matter what the economic status of a researcher’s country....

Of course, publishing a journal does take financial resources. Therefore all open access journals remain ever challenged in maintaining the necessary funding flow. But we at Human Technology know the vital role we play in serving the scientific community, and so we continue to pursue the means it takes to allow researchers, no matter what their financial circumstances, to submit quality articles....We can’t fully resolve the complexity of the technical, material, and access...issues of the digital divide faced by researchers in developing countries. But we can—and do—address some of the strain by lifting somewhat the burdens of access to quality research and in providing the opportunity for any knowledgeable researcher to contribute to the international discussion....

Gathering and disseminating clinical drug trial data

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) and an associated Search Portal

The idea is to gather together the world's clinical trials, published and unpublished, and provide OA to their results.  When launched, the ICTRP contained 50,000 trials from the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

From the ICTRP front page:

The mission of the WHO Registry Platform is to ensure that a complete view of research is accessible to all those involved in health care decision making. This will improve research transparency and will ultimately strengthen the validity and value of the scientific evidence base.

The registration of all interventional trials is a scientific, ethical and moral responsibility.

From the page on results reporting:

Once a trial is registered, full transparency and accountability requires that all of the trial's results be made available to the public in a timely manner....

Online databases in chemistry

Chembiogrid maintains an annotated list of Chemistry Databases on the Web.  It appears that all or most of them are OA.  (Thanks to Jean-Claude Guédon.)

Monday, May 07, 2007

German copyright objections to OA for the EU

Stefan Krempl, Skepsis im Bundesrat gegenüber Open-Access-Publikationen, Heise Online, May 7, 2007.  The upper house of Germany's Parliament has copyright problems with the EU's OA recommendations.  Read the original German or Google's English.

PS:  It looks like German publishers are raising the familiar objection that an OA mandate for publicly-funded research will undercut publisher revenues.  But my German and Google's English are not strong enough for me to know for sure.  I'd be grateful if bilingual readers could shed light on problem in our forum.

Amplifying a whole university's research impact

Karen Herland, Increasing the impact of the academy, Concordia Journal, May 3, 2007.  Excerpt:

Imagine if all of the most current research in your field was just a few keystrokes away. Similarly, imagine if your latest paper could be read months before its slated journal publication.

Depending on the culture of your discipline, the scenario may seem like a dream or a nightmare. On April 25, Stevan Harnad, Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Science at UQAM, presented the possibilities of what he sees as inevitable in the next couple of years.

Harnad came to sing the praises of open access. Under this system, faculty self-archive peer-reviewed papers in their university’s institutional repository so that others can freely access that research.

William Curran, head of Concordia’s Library, said in an email that “the whole philosophy and pedagogical role of the library ‘business’ is to provide access, i.e., open access to the compendium of the world’s knowledge.” He anticipates that Concordia will have an institutional repository within the year for, at minimum, completed theses and research papers, “which represent the intellectual output of the university.” ...

Using figures based on Concordia’s output [Harnad] said that we had averaged three citations for every one of the 3,323 articles our researchers had published in peer-reviewed journals between 2002–06. He extrapolated that with open access, “your citation impact would have been well over four…These are big steps, in a logarithmic scale, so three to four is a huge jump.”

It may not seem like much, but Southampton University in the U.K. (where Harnad taught) has a citation level above that of Columbia and Yale. Harnad said that it was precisely because Southampton was “the first (institution) to mandate, not request or invite, but mandate, that all post-print articles be deposited.” ...

OA and out-of-the-way universities

Open access can neutralize some of disadvantages of smaller universities and let their other advantages come to the fore.  Thanks to Donat Agosti for pointing out the example of wildlife biology at the University of Montana:

"And with the Internet, working in an out-of-the-way town like Missoula [Montana] is no longer the disadvantage it once was. “People say the library is small,” said Tammy Mildenstein, a graduate student who travels between here and the Philippines to study flying foxes. “But why not get it online and watch deer out your window?”" (NYTimes, May 6, 2007)

A very nice strong statement, that access to online libraries allows to move a away from the big science centers to the places, where the questions arise, be it Montana or increasingly in the developing world. We just need to assure that all our studies are open access or at least in self-archives.

OA medical books

Daniel Sigulem, Paulo L. Salomão, and Maykon Andersom Pires de Novais have collected more than 680 free medical books in English, Spanish, and Portuguese on their site at the Medical School of the Federal University of São Paolo. (Thanks to Jean-Claude Guédon.)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Self-archiving on the rise

Jingfeng Xia and Marija Dalbello, Self-Archiving as an Emergent Scholarly Practice: An Assessment of Self-Archiving in Institutional Repositories, apparently a preprint.  Self-archived May 5, 2007.

Abstract:   This research focuses on faculty perceptions of repositories to build an understanding of the perceptions that contribute to the success and sustainability of self-archiving in institutional repositories and develop criteria for practice. In addition to identifying the emergent cultures of self-archiving held by the faculty, we develop objective measures of success and sustainability of institutional repositories based on an empirical study of a significant sample of repositories nationwide and internationally.

PS:  Although self-archived in dLIST, only the abstract is free online, at least so far.