Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Berkeley library reaffirms its BMC membership

In light of the news from Yale, the University of California Berkeley Library has made a point of reaffirming its institutional membership in BioMed Central.

Science journalists can link to full-text OA articles

Matthew Cockerill, Press coverage of research, embargoes and open access, BMC blog, August 10, 2007. 

…A significant benefit of open access publication is that it makes it possible for interested members of the public to dig deeper and find out more about the details behind the news story by looking at the original research article. For this to be possible, it is vital for the research to be available online when the news story appears. For this reason BioMed Central always ensures that research articles are published on the BioMed Central website on the same day that the press embargo lifts.

This week, for example, one of the most highly-accessed health stories on the BBC News web site described the surprising potential role for the Nile tilapia, a popular edible fish, in the fight against malaria. This research was published in the open access journal BMC Public Health, and with just a couple of mouse clicks, the interested reader is able to jump from the BBC website story to the journal home page, and then on to the original research article.  

To make the most of BioMed Central’s immediate open access policy, we encourage science and health journalists to include, wherever possible. a link from the online version of their story to either the original article, or at least to the relevant journal’s home page.

IR for Indonesia's U of Muhammadiyah Surakarta

David Wiley drafts a new open content license

David Wiley, Open Education License Draft, Iterating Toward Openness, August 8, 2007.  Excerpt:

...When I began recommending that people quit using OpenContent licenses [PS: which Wiley developed] and begin using Creative Commons licenses, I said it was one of the hardest things I had ever done. And it was.

Today I take the lid off the next most difficult thing I’ve done. As I describe below, I hate the idea of license proliferation. However, I feel that there are several convincing arguments that we need a new license at this point in the history of open content, and specifically in the history of open education....

The four main types of activity enabled by open content can be summarized as “the four Rs”:

  • Reuse - Use the work verbatim, just exactly as you found it
  • Rework - Alter or transform the work so that it better meets your needs
  • Remix - Combine the (verbatim or altered) work with other works to better meet your needs
  • Redistribute - Share the verbatim work, the reworked work, or the remixed work with others....

[W]hile copyleft strictly requires that all future generations of derivative works be free and open, copyleft significantly hinders the remix activity....

While promoting rework at the expense of remix - in other words, taking the copyleft approach - is fine for software, it is problematic for content and extremely problematic for education....

If we are serious about wanting the freedom to legally and frictionlessly remix educational materials, we have one of two choices: either ignore the OpenCourseWares, Wikipedia, and other copylefted open content of the world (i.e., work only with open content that isn’t copylefted), or forcibly constrain ourselves to one subset of the “open” content universe. Do you see the irony? ...

If the appropriate goal for a license is, as it appears, to make open content available without any restrictions, why not simply dedicate the works in question to the public domain? There are a number of problems with a public domain dedication....

The purpose of the new license is to create a way for people to license their works in such a way that:

  • applying the license is easy for authors and understanding the license is easy for users,
  • engaging in any of the four Rs of open content can occur in a completely frictionless manner,
  • the license imposes no restrictions on licensees, decreasing the chances of accidental discrimination against persons or groups, and
  • remixing is well supported, so that licensed content is legally remixable with any other content to which the remixer has rights, whether (c), CC, GFDL, or differently licensed, decreasing license incompatibility problems....

The draft license itself occurs at the end of the post.   For more on Wiley’s argument that proper licensing is a better solution for open content than the public domain, see his next post (August 9).

Friday, August 10, 2007

Another editorial calls for an OA mandate at the NIH

Public deserves access to NIH research work, Honolulu Advertiser, August 10, 2007.  An editorial.  Here it is in its entirety:

When it comes to how our tax dollars are spent, it's not too often these days that taxpayers can feel they're getting their money's worth.

So it's encouraging to see a measure in Congress designed to do just that.

Taxpayers pay about $28 billion annually to finance valuable research at the National Institutes of Health, resulting in more than 60,000 published studies yearly.

The problem is most of us never see those reports. The studies typically wind up in published journals that, in turn, sell the information to subscribers, commanding high subscription rates. Doctors, patients and the public need to pony up for the data.

And while NIH has a "voluntary initiative" calling for the taxpayer-funded research to be aggregated on a free Web site (PubMed Central), less than 5 percent of researchers comply.

That could soon change.

The House cleared a bill that would require NIH to provide free online access to its research articles within a year of publication in a peer-review journal. It's now up to the Senate to follow suit.

Publishers of the journals argue that mandatory public access holds potential copyright problems. And, of course, they worry that free access would discourage others from paying pricey subscription fees, affecting their bottom line.

The peer review system has value. But that doesn't mean publishers should continue to cash in endlessly. The bill allows publishers to continue the review process and sell journals for the first 12 months — catering to those who need the information quickly.

Beyond that, providing greater access will not only allow taxpayers to see the fruits of their financing, it also expands the chances of significant medical breakthroughs by allowing researchers to continue to build on valuable research. And that truly would maximize the return on our hard-earned tax dollars.

Free online content

Heise Online has launched a three-part series on Freie Inhalte im WebPart 1, on music, movies, and books, has been online since August 8.  Part 2, on research and education, was supposed to appear today but I haven't seen it yet. And Part 3, on crafts and knitting, will appear on August 13.

Update. Part 2 did appear on August 10: Susanne Schmidt, Friede, Freude und freie Eierkuchen-Rezepte. Read the original German or Google's English. This is an unusually thorough overview covering dozens of OA projects and organizations.

Another declaration of independence

Another Journal Board Resigns, Not Even Wrong, August 6, 2007.  (Thanks to Alexandre Borovik.)  Excerpt:

Last year about this time the entire editorial board of the Elsevier journal Topology resigned, this August it’s the turn of the Springer journal K-theory. The editors of this journal have all resigned, issuing the following statement:

Dear fellow mathematicians,

The Editorial Board of ‘K-Theory’ has resigned. A new journal titled ‘Journal of K-theory’ has been formed, with essentially the same Board of Editors. The members are A.Bak, P.Balmer, S.J.Bloch, G.E.Carlsson, A.Connes, E.Friedlander, M.Hopkins, B.Kahn, M.Karoubi, G.G.Kasparov, A.S.Merkurjev, A.Neeman, T.Porter, D.Quillen, J.Rosenberg, A.A.Suslin, G.Tang, B.Totaro, V.Voevodsky, C.Weibel, and Guoliang Yu.

The new journal is to be distributed by Cambridge University Press. The price is 380 British pounds, which is significantly less than half that of the old journal. Publication will begin in January 2008. We ask for your continued support, in particular at the current time. Your submissions are welcome and may be sent to any of the editors.

Board of Editors
Journal of K-theory

The subscription cost for the Springer journal had been $1590, $1325 for electronic-only access....

Update: Via the comment section, there’s the related news that

The Ecole Normale Superieure has chosen to no longer have Elsevier publish the journal Annales Scientifiques de l’École Normale Supérieure; the new publisher will be the non-commercial Société Mathématique de France. The Elsevier website states:

As of 2008 no longer published by Elsevier, please contact publisher Societe Mathematique de France for details....


  • Until the Journal of K-Theory has a web site, see the entry on it in the MathSciJournalWiki.
  • For 14 earlier examples of editorial boards resigning in order to launch a free or affordable journal elsewhere, see my list.  (It’s not up to date and I have several more examples in my offline notes; I’m just looking for time to put them up....)


Model self-archiving policy for universities

Stevan Harnad, Model University Self-Archiving Policy, Open Access Archivangelism, August 7, 2007. 

Summary:  Universities are adopting Open Access Self-Archiving Policies (which is a very good thing) but the policies are often not the optimal ones, and are sometimes even inadvertently reducing instead of enhancing the access potential of university research output. In this exchange with Prof. Andrew Colman of the University Leicester, and Prof. Diane Kornbrot of University of the University of Hertfordshire, the simple parametric tweaks are pointed out that can change an ineffective OA Policy into an effective one. They are:
(1) requiring rather than requesting deposit
(2) requiring deposit in the university's own Institutional Repository (IR) rather than in a central or discipline-based repository elsewhere
(3) requiring deposit of the author's peer-reviewed, accepted final draft, rather than the publisher's PDF (unless the publisher endorses PDF deposit)
(4) requiring deposit immediately upon acceptance for publication rather than after a publisher-imposed delay or embargo period
(5) during any embargo, deposits can instead simply be made Closed Access rather than Open Access (and the IR's "Fair Use" Button can send and receive eprint requests and eprints semi-automatically)

Swiss National Science Foundation adopts an OA mandate

Yesterday the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) announced an OA mandate to take effect on September 1, Open Access: Der SNF erlässt Weisung für die Umsetzung.  Read the announcement in German or in Google's English.  (Thanks to Susanne Göttker.) 

The policy requires OA archiving for the results of SNF-funded research.  Grantees may deposit their work in institutional or disciplinary repositories, and must apparently respect any embargo imposed by their publisher.  The SNF does not have its own repository and does not apparently plan to launch one.

The SNF encourages without requiring publication in an OA journal, and at least sometimes will pay the publication fees at fee-based OA journals.


  • Kudos to the SNF.  This will be a boon to Swiss research-authors and to all research-users.  It also comes at a good time, when both the US and the EU are considering OA mandates, and adds to the growing momentum for public funding agencies to mandate open access for publicly-funded research.
  • I’m reluctant to comment on specifics until I see a good translation.  But it appears that the policy requires grantees to respect any embargo requested by their publisher.  If true, this is a self-defeating mistake, since a very long embargo can effectively vitiate an OA policy.  SNS should put a cap on the maximum embargo, such as six or 12 months after publication.  It should also require immediate deposit even if switching access from closed to open is delayed until the embargo runs.

Update (8/11/07). Klaus Graf sends this addition and clarification: "In a nut-shell: Established embargos have to be respected. If no such embargo exists SNF will accept TA-only if the author has tried to get OA rights." (Thanks, Klaus.)

More on Yale and BMC

Andrea Gawrylewski, Yale dumps BioMed Central, The Scientist, August 9, 2007.  Excerpt:

Yale University's science and medicine libraries have decided to discontinue their membership to BioMedCentral (BMC), an open access publishing company, citing skyrocketing membership costs in a public statement issued last Friday (Aug 3)....

"The library paying for faculty publishing has not been supported by the institution, we haven't been giving additional money for this," said [Kenny Marone, director of the medical library]....

The costs of open access publishing in BMC are comparable to traditional subscriptions, Matthew Cockerill, publisher of BMC (a sister company of The Scientist) told The Scientist. But, he added, as opposed to fixed rates for subscription journals, open access publishing costs continue to rise as more authors submit their articles for publication, demanding more resources for peer review, layout, processing, and internet servers....

"We [paid for membership] initially because we did have the funds, we thought it was a good cause, and we wanted to support the content," Marone said. But with other scholarly journals increasing their publishing fees by 1000% in some cases, and a 45% increase in their bill for the electronic journal database EBSCO, the membership became unsustainable, she added...."The impact factor for some of the journals in BMC is not as high as for Nature or JAMA or The New England Journal of Medicine, and of course that always figures into decisions," Marone said....

Yale is one of 16 institutions whose BMC memberships have not been renewed thus far in 2007, leaving 107 member institutions in the US, and 209 international members....

"The fact that Yale dropped its membership does mean that other institutions might do so as well," Peter Suber, director of the Open Access Project at Public Knowledge, a public-interest advocacy group, told The Scientist in an Email. Even so, "institutional memberships make good sense for both open access publishers and universities," he added, "and I believe that BMC will continue to revise its terms to keep the program attractive to universities." ...

The bioscience library at the University of California, Berkeley, will also not be changing its BMC membership status, Beth Weil, director of the bioscience library, told The Scientist. Berkeley libraries pay a flat fee for BMC membership and encourage research funders to pick up the publication costs, while keeping a close eye on citation rates in all of their journals. "Most of the high impact, society journals do have charges, and they can be substantially more than BioMedCentral," Weil said. Dropping their membership was "a decision that Yale made, and that's fine, but I don't think it's one of those things that's going to ricochet around the library world." ...

Yale's decision is part of the growing pains associated with the transition from the traditional publishing funding model to an open access funding model, said Cockerill. "That transition is made difficult by the fact that library budgets are already tied, subscriptions have a lock in." ...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

German funders take different roads on OA

Martin Ragg asked Germany's Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Federal Ministry of Education and Research or BMBF) for its position on OA.  The answer is that BMBF neither requires nor encourages OA.  But the final reports for BMBF-funded research are available to the public, in hardcopy.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  Read the German original or Google's English.

By contrast, Germany's primary research funder, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft or DFG, has mandated OA since January 2006.

HTML for OA journals and repositories

Peter Sefton, Why not HTML for online journals? People need the right tools, PT's Outing, August 8, 2007.  Excerpt:

I have already mentioned this blog post lamenting the use of PDF instead of HTML in an online journal:

In short, choosing to use PDF rather than HTML tends to make the content less open than it otherwise could be. That feels wrong to me, especially for an open access journal! One could just about justify this approach for a journal destined to be published both on paper and online (though even in that case I think it would be wrong) but surely not for an online-only 'open' publication?

One of the commenters nails the issue:

Go find 'em a workflow that produces good HTML as well as PDF, and I'm sure they'll sign right on.

Posted by: Dorothea Salo....

The workflow that produces good HTML as well as PDF is what we're after with the ICE-RS project. I talked about the project in my paper for the ETD 07 conference. I use ICE to write this blog, and you get both HTML and PDF. And the e-Journal of Instructional Science and Technology (e-JIST) is published in ICE, meaning that all the papers are in HTML and PDF. Anyone who wants help trying out ICE contact me.

Now why is that paper of mine only available in PDF at the moment?

It's because it's a real pain to add it to the Eprints software we use at USQ – you have to upload the HTML and all its images and so on one at a time....

It would help for the Open Access community and repository software publishers to help drive the adoption of HTML by making OA repositories first-class web citizens. Why isn't it easy to put HTML into Eprints, DSpace, VITAL and Fez?

To do our bit, we're planning to integrate ICE with Eprints, DSpace and Fedora later this year building on the outcomes from the SWORD project – when that's done I'll update my papers in the USQ repository, over the Atom Publishing Protocol interface that SWORD is developing.


  • I strongly support tools to improve the quality, handling, and professional uptake of HTML. The sooner we have HTML editions of scholarly eprints, next to or instead of PDF editions, the better. HTML and PDF files can both be OA, but HTML facilitates re-use of the content and PDF (deliberately) retards it.
  • “ICE-RS” stands for Integrated Content Environment for Research and Scholarship.

Update. Peter Sefton writes: "If anyone out there is hearing about ICE for the first time, via Dorothea [Salo] or Peter Suber or Peter Murray-Rust we'd be happy to help you try it out for your research and/or scholarship. Drop me a line."

The politics of OA policy

David C. Prosser, Public Policy and the Politics of Open Access, 2007.  Apparently a preprint.  Self-archived August 8, 2007.

Abstract:   In the five years since the launch of the Budapest Open Access Initiative in February 2002, one of the most striking developments in the scholarly communications landscape has been the increasing interest taken in open access at a policy level. Today, open access (in the form of both self-archiving and open access journals) is routinely discussed and debated at an institutional-level, within research-funding bodies, nationally, and internationally. The debate has moved out of the library and publisher communities to take a more central place in discussions on the ‘knowledge economy’, return on investment in research, and the nature of e-science. This paper looks at some of the public policy drivers that are impacting on scholarly communications and describes the major policy initiatives that are supporting a move to open access.

From the body of the paper:

Our community has two important roles to play in ensuring that research outputs are made available to all. The first is to engage with policy makers at all levels to encourage mandates and strong open access policies. This means not just within our own institutions, but with the funding bodies and at the political level, both nationally and internationally (especially at the European Union level – please write to your local member of the European Parliament explaining why open access is an important issue). We need to continue to show wide support for open access so please do sign the open access petition and encourage others at your institution to do as well.

Secondly, we need to continue to build and support excellent open access resources. Implement a repository at your own institution, help researchers who wish to launch a new open access journal, support the Directory of Open Access Journals by taking out a membership, etc. The combination of mandates and excellent open access platforms and resources will help to create a new scholarly communications environment in which all have access to the fruits of publicly-funded research and we can bring all of the world’s brains to bear on the pressing research problems we face today – not just those lucky enough to be at institutions who can afford subscriptions.

Free culture party coming to a city near you

Heather Ford, 50 Parties Club, Hblog, August 8, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Jimmy Wales...suggested that we start a ‘50 free/sharing culture parties club’ where people around the globe hosted parties in their city and invited member of the free culture fraternity - Wikipedians, Creative Commoners, open access-ers, free software-ers and those interested in finding out more about free/sharing digital culture.

We’ve had an amazing response. Jimmy started a Facebook group that has 148 members after just 10 hours and we have parties planned for Cape Town, Chennai and Austin....

OA for 400+ historically significant medical films

JISC and the Wellcome Trust are providing OA to 400+ films important in the history of medicine.  From today's announcement:

Over 400 films are to be digitised and made freely available online for the first time, thanks to a new collaboration between the Wellcome Library and JISC Collections.

The material consists of over 100 hours of moving image content from the Wellcome Library’s unique and historically significant collection of medical films.

Featuring in the archive are films exploring global health issues and how they have been tackled, including footage on malaria – a 1946 film shows huts in Kenya being sprayed with DDT to check an epidemic; films that illustrating advances in public health care looking in particular at immunization, and the introduction of free-to-all health services; and some of the medical greats of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as Ivan Pavlov’s famous research - he was best known for first describing the phenomenon now known as classical conditioning in his experiments with dogs.

All items are to be digitised over the next 12 months and made freely available via the Wellcome Library's web site and JISC's Film & Sound Online service....

Open education for healthcare in developing countries

The People's Open Access Education Initiative is a new open education project focusing on medical education in developing countries.  From the home page:

Help to build Public Health capacity in low- to middle-income countries, using open education resources freely available on the Internet

This education will involve partnerships and collaboration across the global and digital divides, and will be both credible and affordable

"A learning resource that is freely available, which makes use of already established material and seeks to modify it appropriately for local use"

From the about page:

Most low to middle income countries (LMIC) currently have to cope with a wide range of health problems that interfere with their future economic development. Public health is a major priority, especially the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis and common infectious diseases, as well as the emergence of chronic disease epidemics. A trained workforce of health professionals is essential, but local universities being vastly oversubscribed for face to face courses and fees for overseas universities, including e-learning distance programmes, are higher than can be afforded by most potential students in these countries. Internet-based e-learning has the exciting potential to deliver high quality learning resources anytime and anywhere, and although access is by no means universal it is improving quickly....

Our solution

Develop educational context around freely available open educational resources on the Internet – This is an open activity, to be developed in partnership across the global and digital divides. We are in development phase, and hope eventually to move towards the establishment of a ‘Peoples Open Access University’....

Grid computing for data crunching and sharing in the humanities

Tobias Blanke, Beyond books: grid technologies for arts and humanities research, International Science Grid This Week, August 8, 2007.  A look at the grid computing projects of the UK’s Arts and Humanities e-Science Support Centre.  Excerpt:

...Although arts and humanities data may not ever be automatically produced on the scale of “gigabytes per hour,” a lot of data already exists that is of genuine interest to arts and humanities researchers....

Just one example is the Shoa Multimedia Archive of Holocaust survivors’ testimonials in the United States, consisting of 200 terabytes of compressed data and several petabytes of uncompressed data....

These are small volumes of data when compared to applications in the sciences, but they are still difficult to handle on a single computer....

Automatic processing is relatively easily when you’re dealing with numbers and sensor measurements, but with unstructured information such as that in texts or multimedia formats, complicated statistical calculations are required before knowledge can be extracted. This brings exactly the kind of challenges that grid computing and e-science can address.

And yet, in the opinion of the Arts and Humanities e-Science Initiative in the UK, grids are not just about processing power and incredible data scales. Grids stand for the development and deployment of a networked infrastructure and culture through which resources can be shared in a secure environment.... 

Interview with Open Library's Aaron Swartz

Scott McLemee, Open Library, Inside Higher Ed, August 8, 2007.  Excerpt:

Open Library is a new online tool for finding information about books – even (perhaps especially) for titles that are out-of-print, scarce, or likely to find one reader per decade, if even that....If a text is available in digital format, there is a link. you to it. Citations and excerpts from reviews will be available. Likewise, cross-references to other works on related topics. A user of Open Library can see the cover of the book and, in some cases, search the contents....

The basic framework is being established by my appallingly accomplished young friend Aaron Swartz — who, at the age of 21, has already helped create RSS (that was in his early teens), published a couple of computer-science papers, and developed Infogami, a system enabling his digitally clueless elders to set up their own websites.He studied sociology as an undergraduate at Stanford University, presumably in his spare time....

Q: How is Open Library funded? Are you working on it full time? And how many people are involved in the project?

A: It’s currently being funded by the Internet Archive, with the help of some state and federal library grants. We have some volunteers, but also about 5 people working full-time (a couple programmers, a designer, and a product manager).

Q: What will Open Library offer that you can’t already find online? What was missing from the existing array of online book-data resources – WorldCat, Google Books, Amazon, etc. – that makes it worthwhile to create a new one?

A: ...I’m often looking for interesting books on an obscure topic. I can look on Amazon, but its coverage of out-of-print books is pretty poor. (In my experience, most of the really interesting books are out of print.) I can search an academic library or WorldCat, but the quality of data is pretty weak — you can get basic bibliographic info, but no reviews and weak search and a painful interface and most require a subscription.

So I wanted to build a site where one could more easily find those hidden great books, by combining all the data we have on them in one place and letting the people who love them go back and annotate and highlight them.

Q: With any Web 2.0 project, the question of safeguards comes up. Are any built in? I mean, to keep people from going through and systematically attributing the complete works of Shakespeare to Francis Bacon, or whatever.

A: Our plan is to leave it open and then lock things down as need be....

Q: Will you be asking permission before incorporating data from, say, an academic library’s online catalog?

A: Yes, we’re talking to the academic libraries to make deals on how to import their catalogs. Our main pitch so far has been that this is an opportunity to contribute to a public commons — contribute your library catalog to the public, and not only make it available to interested library users everywhere, but also contribute to a system where you’ll get back everyone else’s work, just like libraries have done with RLG.

Q: Open Library will also serve as a central directory for books available in digital formats. Some such material is freely available to everyone (e.g., the Project Guttenberg editions). And some of it has more limited access. Will you link to the latter? And do you have a policy or opinion about dealing with Google Books?

A: Yes, we hope to link to everything interesting — free or not, although obviously we prefer free and can do more with it. We’re planning to link to Google Books and we’re hoping we can get copies of their public domain books.

Q: Do you have a long-term plan to make digitizing books part of the Open Library project? Or does it make more sense to leave that kind of initiative to others?

A: The Internet Archive has a big book digitization project....We hope Open Library can raise money to increase their scanning....

Q: So what is your sense of the master plan for this project? The future course of development?

A: We’re taking it step by step. Our first goal is to get catalog information for every book — a big project in itself....

After that, we want to work on improving the book-reading interface for books that we have scans of. We’re hoping to make the scanned text into a wiki as well, so that people can fix typos and correct errors in our processing (OCR) of the scan....One idea is a “Scan this book” button on every out-of-copyright book, where for $50 to $100, we’ll page the book from a library, deliver it to the scanners, and then email you a PDF of the book and put the full text online, with a little nameplate thanking you for funding it.

And then, of course, we want to expand beyond just books. We’re eager to do the same thing with journal articles: one open site where we list every journal article, all the journal articles by a particular author, sorts by subject and topic, the abstracts and references, and links to places where you can find a full text copy....


Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Two announcements from DRIVER

  1. German DINI intensifies collaboration with DRIVER for digital repositories
  2. The German Initiative for Networked Information DINI starts the new project "OA-Netzwerk", which will push the national network for Open Access repositories to an even higher level. Germany is an important advocate for Open Access and the establishment of institutional repositories: The international registry for Open Access repositories OpenDOAR shows that Germany has the highest number of repositories in Europe while the DINI Certificate for repositories has led the way for approving a high quality standard to individual repositories.

    "OA-Netzwerk", funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG, will now address further aspects of best practice in operations as well as data quality that is designed to build an advanced national node in the international repository infrastructure of DRIVER. The project is also related to the construction of Demonstrators for usage statistics on repository contents and citation analysis that are candidates for a further extension of the DRIVER Repository Service Suite.

  3. Researchers asked for their opinion - August 2007
  4. The DRIVER Search service is due to go live in testing phase later this month. The European research community is being asked to participate in a usability survey of the new service. The survey is being led by the University of Ghent and offers researchers a chance to make a significant contribution to the development of the service. Anyone interested in participating in the survey is asked to contact for further details.

Cornell joins the Google Library project

Cornell University Library becomes newest partner in Google Book Search Library Project, a press release from Cornell, August 7, 2007.  Excerpt:

Cornell University Library is partnering with Google Inc. to digitize materials from its superb collections and make them available online. 

“In its quest to be the world’s land-grant university, Cornell strives to serve the scholarly and research needs of those beyond the campus.  This project advances Cornell’s ability to provide global access to our library resources...” said Cornell President David J. Skorton.

Google will digitize up to 500,000 works from Cornell University Library and make them available online using Google Book Search.  As a result, materials from the library’s exceptional collections will be easily accessible to students, scholars and people worldwide, supporting the library’s long-standing commitment to make its collections broadly available.

“Research libraries today are integral partners in the academic enterprise through their support of research, teaching and learning. They also serve a public good by enhancing access to the works of the world's best minds,” said Interim University Librarian Anne R. Kenney.... 

Cornell is the 27th institution to join the Google Book Search Library Project, which digitizes books from major libraries and makes it possible for Internet users to search their collections online.  Over the next six years, Cornell will provide Google with public domain and copyrighted holdings from its collections.  If a work has no copyright restrictions, the full text will be available for online viewing.  For books protected by copyright, users will just get the basic background (such as the book’s title and the author’s name), at most a few lines of text related to their search and information about where they can buy or borrow a book.  Cornell University Library will work with Google to choose materials that complement the contributions of the project’s other partners.  In addition to making the materials available through its online search service, Google will also provide Cornell with a digital copy of all the materials scanned, which will eventually be incorporated into the university’s own digital library.

Google's OA mandate for research on Google data

Google is sharing data with researchers under an interesting proviso:  the results of their research on the data must be OA.  From Dorothea Salo on SOAF:

Sue Dentinger of the Library Technology Group at the University of Wisconsin at Madison noticed that the new University Research Program for Google Search appears to require open access to the results of research on Google-provided datasets:

This research program is being made available to members of the academic community. Each applicant must review and adhere to the full terms, which include the following restrictions:

  • …The program may be used exclusively for academic research, and research results must be made available to the public….

Section 2.2 of the program's Terms of Service reads:

2.2 Use of Data and Attribution. The Service is being made available to you with the intention of furthering the public good through academic research. You agree that any scholarly works produced from research conducted using the Service (the "Scholarly Work") shall be made available to any member of the public on reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms, that copies of the Scholarly Work will be freely available to the public online, and notification of the existence of such works must be made to all interested parties without bias.

This is novel, I believe. It is like a funder OA mandate, except that Google is providing raw materials for research rather than direct funding.

Comment.  Dorothea is right:  this is novel and Google’s mandate is like a funder mandate except that Google is providing data rather than money.  Kudos to Google, both for sharing its data with researchers and for requiring that researchers share the results of their research in turn. 

Historians contributing to Wikipedia

Ralph Luker, Historians and Wikipedia, Cliopatria, August 2, 2007.  (Thanks to Karen Winkler.)  Excerpt:

Whatever its flaws, Wikipedia has become a significant influence in history education. Some of our colleagues have determined to improve it with their own contributions. Here are some instances in which they have assumed significant responsibility for their fields:

Here, in alphabetical order, from Ancient Egypt to West Virginia, are over 30 other specialized history Wikiprojects, with lists of their contributors. There are, obviously, many gaps -- fields that are not covered. Think of them as opportunities.

Comment.  I applaud this.  I stand by the recommendation I made in a SOAN article from July 2005:

If you're an expert on a certain topic, then make sure that Wikipedia includes the fruits of your expertise….You may not have a high opinion of Wikipedia, but there are two reasons not to let that stop you.  First, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If experts add or enhance articles to reflect their expertise, then Wikipedia will deserve respect to that extent.  Second, Wikipedia is an increasingly common first stop, and probably last stop, for non-academic users looking for information.  If you want to be visible to non-academic users, then it's an eyeball destination that you can easily join.  (…Don't give up your standards, but don't judge this resource from mere presumptions without firsthand knowledge.)

Access to research and access to medicines

Gavin Yamey, Access to university research and innovations, PLoS Blog, August 6, 2007.  (Thanks to Gavin Baker.)  Excerpt:

I've long believed that there are parallels between the global campaign for open access to the biomedical literature and the campaign for access to essential medicines.

For a start, both information and medicines can promote health and save lives. Indeed the late James Grant, former executive director of Unicef, argued that, “the most urgent task before us is to get medical and health knowledge to those most in need of that knowledge. Of the approximately 50 million people who were dying each year in the late 1980s, fully two thirds could have been saved through the application of that knowledge.” ... 

What's more, intellectual property rights are impeding both the dissemination of knowledge and of drugs. In the case of knowledge, many traditional publishers own the copyright to the research that they publish and restrict access to it so that they can profit from selling the works. In the latter case, there have been several highly publicized cases of drug patents impeding the world's poor from accessing life-saving medications....

Many of [the 3,000 patents granted to universities in 2001]...are for drugs that could save lives in the developing world, a situation that is being challenged by a vocal coalition of students and faculty across North America working to ensure that universities' innovations reach those who need them the most: the global poor. The coalition, called Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), was in the news recently, for scoring a victory at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

Meetings between the local student chapter of UAEM, top UBC administration, and UBC's University-Industry Liaison Office (UILO) has led to the UILO publishing a draft of a new global access strategy to guide the commercialization of future UBC discoveries. The UILO is currently seeking public feedback in order to further shape the guidelines "to ensure that they will be effective in increasing the social impact and global reach of UBC research discoveries." If you’re a supporter of “open access to innovation,” why not send them your input?

Update. See the good comments of Steven Salzberg.

More on Project StORe

Graham Pryor, Attitudes and Aspirations in a Diverse World: The Project StORe Perspective on Scientific Repositories, International Journal of Digital Curation, 2, 1 (2007).    (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

Abstract:   Project StORe was conceived as an initiative to apply digital library technologies in the creation of new value for published research. Ostensibly a technical project, its primary objective was the design of middleware to enable bi-directional links between source repositories containing research data and output repositories containing research publications. Hence, researchers would be able to navigate directly from within an electronic article to the source or synthesised data from which that article was derived. To achieve a product that directly reflects user needs, a survey of researchers was conducted across seven scientific disciplines. This survey exposed the spectrum of cultural pressures, preferences and prejudices that influence the research process, as well as a range of practices in the production and management of research data. Aspects of the research environment revealed by the survey are considered in this paper in the context of repository use and, more broadly, the requirements, roles and responsibilities necessary to good data management.

From Medline abstracts to OA full-text

Yasunori Yamamoto and Toshihisa Takagi, OReFiL: an online resource finder for life sciences, BMC Bioinformatics, August 6, 2007.  Abstract:

Many online resources for the life sciences have been developed and introduced in peer-reviewed papers recently, ranging from databases and web applications to data-analysis software. Some have been introduced in special journal issues or websites with a search function, but others remain scattered throughout the Internet and in the published literature. The searchable resources on these sites are collected and maintained manually and are therefore of higher quality than automatically updated sites, but also require more time and effort.

Description: We developed an online resource search system called OReFiL to address these issues. We developed a crawler to gather all of the web pages whose URLs appear in MEDLINE abstracts and full-text papers on the BioMed Central open-access journals. The URLs were extracted using regular expressions and rules based on our heuristic knowledge. We then indexed the online resources to facilitate their retrieval and comparison by researchers. Because every online resource has at least one PubMed ID, we can easily acquire its summary with Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terms and confirm its credibility through reference to the corresponding PubMed entry. In addition, because OReFiL automatically extracts URLs and updates the index, minimal time and effort is needed to maintain the system.

Why do online-only OA journals use PDF?

Andy Powell, Open, online journals != PDF ?  eFoundations, August 6, 2007.  Speaking of the International Journal of Digital Curation (IJDC):

...I mention this partly because I helped set up the technical infrastructure for the journal using the Open Journal System, an open source journal management and publishing system developed by the Public Knowledge Project, while I was still at UKOLN - so I have a certain fondness for it.

Odd though, for a journal that is only ever (as far as I know) intended to be published online, to offer the articles using PDF rather than HTML.  Doing so prevents any use of lightweight 'semantic' markup within the articles, such as microformats, and tends to make re-use of the content less easy.

In short, choosing to use PDF rather than HTML tends to make the content less open than it otherwise could be.  That feels wrong to me, especially for an open access journal!  One could just about justify this approach for a journal destined to be published both on paper and online (though even in that case I think it would be wrong) but surely not for an online-only 'open' publication?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

BMC response to Yale

If you recall, Yale dropped its BMC membership on Friday.  Today BMC Publisher Matthew Cockerill posted a response on the BMC blog.  Excerpt:

[W]e welcome the opportunity to clarify BioMed Central's approach to sustainable funding for open access publishing.

The main concern expressed in the library's announcement is that the amount payable to cover the cost of publications by Yale researchers in BioMed Central's journals has increased significantly, year on year. Looking at the rapid growth of BioMed Central's journals, it is not difficult to see why that is the case....

An increase in the number of open access articles being submitted and going on to be published does lead to an increase in the total cost of the open access publishing service provided by BioMed Central, but the cost per article published in BioMed Central's journals represents excellent value compared to other publishers.

The Yale library announcement notes that it paid $31,625 to cover the cost of publication in BioMed Central's journals by their authors in 2006, and that the anticipated cost in 2007 will be higher. But to put this into context, according to the Association of Research Library statistics, Yale spent more than $7m on serial subscriptions. Nonetheless, we do recognize that library budgets are very tight and that supporting the rapid growth of open access publishing out of library budgets alone may not be possible....

If library budgets were the only source of funding to cover the cost of open access publication, this would be a significant obstacle. Fortunately, however, there are other sources of funding that are helping to accelerate the transition to open access.

Biomedical research funders around the world already spend billions of dollars to support research activity....

The Wellcome Trust report estimated that on average the cost associated with publishing a peer-reviewed research article is less than $3000, and further estimated that this represented only 1-2% of the typical investment by a funder in carrying out the research that led to the article. It is not surprising therefore, that major biomedical research funders such as NIH and HHMI now encourage open access publication, and are willing to provide financial support for it. BioMed Central's list of biomedical funder open access policies provides further information.

Authors may, of course, pay [for] articles from their own grant funds, and around half of articles published in BioMed Central journals are indeed paid for in this way. However, relying on authors to pay for the cost of open access publication themselves puts open access journals at a significant disadvantage compared to traditional journals, which are supported centrally through library budgets, and so are often perceived to be 'free' by authors.

That is why BioMed Central introduced its institutional membership scheme, which allows institutions to centrally support the dissemination of open access research in the same way that they centrally support subscription journals, thereby creating a 'level playing field'.

In order to ensure that funding of open access publication is sustainable, we have encouraged institutions to set aside a small fraction of the indirect funding contribution that they receive from funders to create a central open access fund.

Over the last several months, BioMed Central has hosted workshops on the issue of sustainable funding for open access at the UK's Association of Research Manager's and Administrators annual conference and at the Medical Library Association's meeting in Philadelphia [see report]. Further such workshops are planned.

In this way, by helping research funders, administrators, VPs of research and librarians to work together to provide sustainable funding channels for open access, we aim to "provide a viable long-term revenue base built upon logical and scalable options", as called for in [the] statement from Yale's library....

Update. See Bill Hooker's comments, including this math:

A quick fiddle with biology + medicine data from the Journal Cost-Effectiveness database gives an average price per article of around $12 for toll-access journals, but that's (one subscription)/(total no. articles). The question is, how many subscriptions do they sell -- that is, what is their income/article? We know what BMC makes per article: about $1600 on average. If an average toll-access journal sells just 135 subscriptions per year, they're bringing in more per article than BMC.

Interview with Klaus Graf

Frank Schulenburg, Im Gespräch: Klaus Graf über Wikisource, Archivalia und den anhaltenden Kampf um gemeinfreies Kulturgut, Göttingischen unparthenischen Correspondenten, August 7, 2007.  An interview with Klaus Graf, one of Germany's leading OA advocates, on the campaign for OA to cultural heritage.  One lesson:  The challenge for libraries, archives, and museums is to raise funds for OA, not to develop DRM for cultural heritage projects.  Read the interview in the original German or in Google's English.

Publishing linked data on the web

Chris Bizer, Richard Cyganiak, and Tom Heath, How to Publish Linked Data on the Web.  Apparently a preprint; undated but apparently July 27, 2007.

Abstract:   This document provides a tutorial on how to publish Linked Data on the Web. After a general overview of the concept of Linked Data, we describe several practical recipes for publishing information as Linked Data on the Web. 

Monday, August 06, 2007

PubMed v. HighWire

Thomas E. Vanhecke and three co-authors, PubMed vs. HighWire Press: A head-to-head comparison of two medical literature search engines, Computers in Biology and Medicine, September 2007.  Not even an abstract is free online.

Update. A couple of colleagues have sent me the paper. Here's the abstract:

PubMed and HighWire Press are both useful medical literature search engines available for free to anyone on the internet. We measured retrieval accuracy, number of results generated, retrieval speed, features and search tools on HighWire Press and PubMed using the quick search features of each. We found that using HighWire Press resulted in a higher likelihood of retrieving the desired article and higher number of search results than the same search on PubMed. PubMed was faster than HighWire Press in delivering search results regardless of search settings. There are considerable differences in search features between these two search engines.

Jon Udell on access to public data

Hugh McGuire, Interview: Jon Udell,, August 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

Jon Udell...[was] formerly the blogger-in-chief at Infoworld [and is] now working with microsoft. He’s been writing recently about public data, and I wanted to find out why....

2. what do you think is the most compelling argument for making public data available to citizens?

Well it’s ours, our taxes paid for it, so we should have it. But the compelling reason is that we need more eyeballs, hands, and brains figuring out what’s going on in the world, so that when we debate courses of action we can ground our thinking in the best facts and interpretations....

8. what do you think are the connections between open access to public data and other similar movements - free culture, free software etc?

There’s an arc that runs from free and open-source software, to open data, to Web 2.0-style participation, and now to the collaborative use of software, services, and public data in order to understand and influence public policy.

9. with your crystal ball, where do you think the confluence of these movements will take us in, say, 5 years?

I’m sure it won’t happen that soon, but here’s what I’d like to see. Imagine some local, state, or national debate. The facts and interpretations at issue are rarely attached to URLs, much less to to primary sources of data at those URLs and to interactive visualizations of the data. We spend lots of time arguing about facts and interpretations, but mostly in a vacuum with no real shared context, which is wildly unproductive. If we could establish shared context, maybe we could argue more productively, and get more stuff done more quickly and more sanely.

Ask the Senate to support an OA mandate at the NIH

NIH public access moves forward in House; full Senate to consider, ACRL Legislative Update, August 1, 2007.  Excerpt:

Recent Developments: We've had a wonderful development recently in the ongoing effort to establish widespread public access to federally funded research. On July 19, the full House voted to pass the FY08 appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies. It included language that would require the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to make the results of funded research publicly accessible within 12 month of publication in peer-reviewed journals. (See H.R. 3043 section 217, pg 76-7.)

Current Status:  This is a big step toward making the policy a success; however, we need your help now more than ever. We expect that the full Senate will vote on their respective appropriations measure after the August recess. It is very likely that an amendment will be made on the floor of the Senate to delete or weaken the language about the NIH public access policy. It's critical that you express your support for the current language to your Senators during August.

Action Needed:

  1. Send a thank you note if your Representative voted yes to pass the House appropriations bill (check the roll call). Your legislators want to hear from you and need to know they did the right thing.
  2. Contact both of your Senators during August. While a phone call, e-mail or fax would work, consider taking advantage of the fact that they are home for the August recess. Make a visit to the local district office or invite your Senators to visit your library. Urge them to maintain the language put forth by the Senate appropriations committee on the NIH public access policy. Find talking points and contact info in the ALA Legislative Action Center.... 
  3. Talk about this issue with leaders on your campus -- your government relations office, library advisory committee, faculty senate -- to enlist individual and institutional support.

For additional background, listen to an interview with Heather Joseph of SPARC, read the last two issues of ACRL's Legislative Update, and go to the Alliance for Taxpayer Access website....


  • I support this call.  The House has approved the bill and now it's time to contact the Senate.  The vote hasn't been scheduled, but it's already overdue and could come very soon.  Time is short.  Spread the word!
  • For more background on where the bill stands now, see my SOAN story from last week, Progress toward an OA mandate at the NIH, one more time.

Helping librarians help faculty make their work OA

ARL, ACRL, SPARC Provide Free Access to Archive of Author Rights Webcast, a press release from ARL, August 4, 2007.  Excerpt:

Understanding Author Rights [is a] one-hour webcast...aimed at librarians working with faculty on author rights. The sponsors are underwriting costs to make the archive (recorded June 18, 2007) freely available to the broader community.

To access this Elluminate recording, you will need a free LearningTimes account....

Also see the Author Rights Resources handout from the webcast....

A journal article is often the culmination of years of study, research, and hard work. The more the article is read and cited, the greater its value. But if authors give exclusive control to the publisher in the copyright agreement, use may be limited. Many authors wonder:

  • Can I post my articles on a course Web site? What about in an institutional repository?
  • Can I give copies of my published article to my class or colleagues?
  • Is it okay to post articles in NIH's PubMed Central?
  • Can I include sections of my article in later works?

Many libraries want to answer these questions and help authors modify publishers' copyright transfer agreements to keep key rights to their articles. Educate faculty on your campus before they transfer ownership of their intellectual output and help them understand the consequences and options....

[The presenters are] Julia Blixrud, Assistant Director for Public Programs, SPARC, [and] Trisha Davis, Rights Management Coordinator, Ohio State University Libraries.

Interview with Hal Abelson

Gary Anthes, Meet the nerd who's already shaping the future, IT Business, August 6, 2007.  An interview with MIT Computer Scientist Hal Abelson --one of the co-founders of Creative Commons, one of the co-creators of MIT's Open Courseware project, and a critic of “fossilized and myopic” computer science departments everywhere.

Reading the fine print of a publisher's self-archiving policy

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Publisher Author Agreements, DigitalKoans, August 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

According to today's SHERPA/RoMEO statistics, 36% of the 308 included publishers are green ("can archive pre-print and post-print"), 24% are blue ("can archive post-print (i.e. final draft post-refereeing)"), 11% are yellow ("can archive pre-print (i.e. pre-refereeing)"), and 28% are white ("archiving not formally supported"). Looked at another way, 72% of the publishers permit some form of self-archiving.

These are certainly encouraging statistics,…[but] publishers’ recently liberalized author agreements still raise issues that librarians and scholars should be aware of.

Looking deeper, there are publisher variations in terms of where e-prints can be self-archived. Typically, this might be some combination of the author's Website, institutional repository or Website, funding agency's server, or disciplinary archive....[A] problem arises when the agreement limits the author's deposit options to ones he or she doesn't have, such as only allowing deposit in an institutional repository when the author's institution doesn't have one or only allowing posting on an author's Website when the author doesn't have one.

Another issue is publisher requirements for authors to remove e-prints on publication, to modify e-prints after publication to reflect citation and publisher contact information, to replace e-prints with published versions, or to create their own versions of postprints. Low deposit rates in institutional repositories without institutional mandates, suggest that anything that involves extra effort by authors is a deterrent to deposit. The above kinds of publisher requirements are likely to have equally low rates on compliance, resulting in deposited e-prints that do not conform to author agreements. To be effective, such requirements would have to be policed by publishers or digital repositories. Otherwise, they are meaningless and are best deleted from author agreements.

A final issue is retrospective deposit....[I]t is very important that publishers clarify whether their relatively new self-archiving policies can be applied retroactively. Elsevier has done so:

When Elsevier changes its policies to enable greater academic use of journal materials (such as the changes several years ago in our web-posting policies) or to clarify the rights retained by journal authors, Elsevier is prepared to extend those rights retroactively with respect to articles published in journal issues produced prior to the policy change.

Elsevier is pleased to confirm that, unless explicitly noted to the contrary, all policies apply retrospectively to previously published journal content....

Unfortunately, many publishers have not clarified this issue....

Much progress has been made in the area of author agreements, but authors must still pay careful attention to the details of agreements, which vary considerably by publisher. The SHERPA/RoMEO—Publisher Copyright Policies & Self-Archiving database is a very useful and important tool and users should actively participate in refining this database; however, authors are well advised not to stop at the summary information presented here and to go to the agreement itself (if available). It would be very helpful if a set of standard author agreements that covered the major variations could be developed and put into use by the publishing industry.

Libraries and the book-scanning projects

The Library as Search Engine, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 5, 2007 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

At the Technology Forum, a discussion of online archives and their role in academe brought together Daniel Greenstein, associate vice provost for scholarly information and university librarian at the California Digital Library of the University of California; Adam Smith, group business-product manager for the Google Book Search and Google Scholar programs; and Danielle Tiedt, general manager of Windows Live Premium Search. Following are excerpts from their introductory remarks. Scott Carlson, a senior reporter at The Chronicle, was the moderator.

Greenstein: Libraries are really all about access....So when folks from Microsoft and Google want to make books widely accessible, it generates a lot of enthusiasm among a lot of librarians. And it is hard to underestimate the power of that promise of public access to vast quantities of information, especially for public institutions like the Universities of California and Michigan and others that are involved in these activities, whose collections are built with public funds and managed as a public trust....

There are 10 campuses in the University of California, each with its own library. Two or three years ago, the campuses sponsored an investigation into the use of their online catalogs. What we discovered did not surprise us: These cataloging systems are discovery systems that are basically designed according to a conceptual framework developed 40 years ago, and they do not provide what people now expect from searches.

We did all of these user studies, and I remember one showing academics looking for material. They had two screens up on their computers — one the library catalog, and the other Amazon's search inside a book. And they were using Amazon to search inside the book before they made a decision about whether or not they wanted to get it off the shelf.

What folks are actually looking for in a library search is the kind of search and discovery that they are getting on the Internet....

Smith: ...Google Book Search is a historic effort to make the full text of all the world's books searchable. We are doing this to make books as easy to search as Web pages are today....

One of the key attributes of Google Book Search is going to be comprehensiveness. For it to really be a powerful tool, we need to ensure that you can search all the world's books....

Where copyright law allows, we will give users more access [than just a discovery tool]; where it does not, we will show what is effectively an enhanced card catalog....