Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #77
September 2, 2004
Read this issue online
Praising progress, preserving precision
One sign of OA momentum is that more and more publishers are jumping on the bandwagon. Some are launching OA journals. Some are converting subscription-based journals to OA. Some are offering OA content in subscription-based journals. Some are widening access short of OA. And some are using the now-popular name of "open access" regardless of how well or badly it describes their access policies.
Can we welcome every initiative to widen access without abandoning our goal of fully open access and without diluting the definition of "open access"? I hope so. These goals are perfectly compatible. However, they are sometimes seen as incompatible and that holds us back. I regret that some initiatives to widen access dilute our useful term, and I regret that some attempts to resist dilution and pursue full OA criticize useful progress.
* What definition?
More than ever before I'm hearing the complaint that the term "open access" doesn't have a firm, common definition. This is not true, but it could become true if dilution and misuse of the term continue.
The three major public definitions of "open access" are contained in the Budapest, Bethesda, and Berlin public statements. Even though these three definitions differ from one another in small ways (which I explored in SOAN for 8/4/03), they agree on the essentials. Let me refer to them collectively, or to their common ground, as the Budapest-Bethesda-Berlin or BBB definition of open access.
Nearly all OA proponents agree on the BBB definition. When I defend the concept of open access against dilution, I'm defending the communal consensus embodied in the BBB definition, not my own private preferences. The three contributing public statements have unparalleled stature and influence within the OA movement. Only outsiders and newcomers might mistake this. And that, I believe, is part of the problem. Our growing success means that our message in one form or another, clear or garbled, is reaching new people who almost certainly do not know the BBB definition or its centrality for our work.
The best-known part of the BBB definition is that OA content must be free of charge for all users with an internet connection. However, the BBB definition doesn't stop at free online access. It adds an extra dimension that isn't as easy to describe, and consequently is often dropped or obscured. This extra dimension gives users permission for all legitimate scholarly uses. It removes what I've called permission barriers, as opposed to price barriers. The Budapest statement puts the extra dimension this way:
By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.The Bethesda and Berlin statements put it this way: For a work to be OA, the copyright holder must consent in advance to let users "copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship".
All three tributaries of the mainstream BBB definition agree that OA removes both price and permission barriers. Free online access isn't enough. "Fair use" ("fair dealing" in the UK) isn't enough.
Note that the three component statements of the BBB definition do not agree on exactly which permission barriers must be removed. There's room for variety here. BBB requires removing barriers to copying and redistribution. It doesn't require removing barriers to commercial re-use; authors can go either way on this. Two of the three BBB component definitions require removing barriers to derivative works.
One danger is the dilution of our term. That's why I'm reminding us of the BBB definition and its place in our history. But another danger is the false sharpening of our term. If we thought that the BBB definition settled matters that it doesn't settle, then we could prematurely close avenues of useful exploration, needlessly shrink the big tent of OA, and divisively instigate quarreling about who is providing "true OA" and who isn't.
The BBB definition functions as a usefully firm definition of "open access" even if it leaves room for variation. We should agree that OA removes some permission barriers (e.g. on copying, redistribution, and printing) even if it leaves different OA providers free to adopt different policies on others (e.g. on derivative works and commercial re-use). My personal preference, for example, is to permit derivative works and commercial re-use. But (as I wrote in FOSN for 1/30/02) I want to make this preference genial, or compatible with the opposite preference, so that we can recruit and retain authors on both sides of this question.
* Praising progress
One reason to praise forward steps is that they really do constitute progress, whether or not they reach full OA. If we had to choose between calling them "open access" and criticizing them, that would be a hard choice. But we face no such choice. Let's do both: praise the widening of access and stick to the BBB definition of the term "open access".
There's no contradiction here and no implication that the progress we are praising is all that could be desired. We praise students for improving without implying that they've improved enough. We praise good moves in politics, sports, and science without implying that further progress is unnecessary or impossible. We can speak clearly. If we want to say that widening access is good and open access is better, we can say that.
Time to get specific.
As far as I can tell, Elsevier hasn't used the term "open access" for its postprint archiving policy. At least it didn't use the term in its June 3, 2004, press release. That's probably just as well. The policy does permit the public archiving of postprints, but under restrictions that probably violate the BBB definition of open access. (I say "probably" because much depends on how Elsevier clarifies the policy; see my list of points needing clarification in SOAN for 7/2/04.) I've praised the policy for making progress and haven't seen a good reason to retract that praise. I've also criticized it for the needless restrictions it puts on archiving. But despite the restrictions, it's still true that allowing postprint archiving is much better than not allowing it. That's praiseworthy progress.
The Lancet is an Elsevier journal covered by the new Elsevier postprint archiving policy. And The Lancet *does* use the term "open access" for its new policy. If The Lancet doesn't apply the restrictions that its parent Elsevier seems to require, then it could offer full OA. But even then, The Lancet is misleading when it says that "in any ordinary meaning of the phrase, The Lancet's content is now openly and freely accessible." At best, Lancet articles *can* be OA if authors take advantage of the permission to archive postprints. But because authors have been slow to take advantage of existing archiving opportunities, and still need to be stirred to action, we still have a long way to go. However, The Lancet postprint archiving policy is a major forward step that deserves praise. Let's praise it without stretching our terms.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is one of the most prestigious subscription-based journals to preauthorize postprint archiving and to offer immediate free online access to articles for which authors have paid upfront processing fees. (This policy will hold until the end of 2005 and then be reevaluated.) However, PNAS still asks authors to transfer copyright and still restricts most copying and redistribution. And it uses the term "open access" to describe the policy. The PNAS page on author rights and permissions doesn't yet reflect the new "open access" policy and might lift some of the restrictions that don't square with the BBB definition of open access. But even if it doesn't, the new PNAS policy deserves praise as a major step forward.
Thomson Derwent Databases offers what it calls "open access licensing". The benefit for users is paying a fixed fee for variable or unlimited use. But there's no connection to OA whatsoever. Quoting the web site: "You simply pay a set fee per year covering all connect hour, online display, offline print, and SDI (Alert) charges." Thomson is diluting the term "open access" and misleading its potential customers.
Springer has adopted a policy that it calls Open Choice. There's a lot right with it: free online access, permission for postprint archiving, and the possibility of reduced subscription prices. There's also a lot wrong with it: the high price for authors or their sponsors, the need to transfer copyright to Springer, and the limitations on use. (For more on Open Choice, see SOAN for 8/2/04.) But Springer can't be blamed for diluting the term "open access" and deserves credit for finding a different term.
Like Springer, the DC Principles deserve credit for avoiding the term "open access". We can praise the DC Principles for endorsing several forms of free access and criticize them for stopping short of full OA. But we can't criticize them for diluting the term "open access".
You get the idea. In evaluating new access policies, we needn't confuse the widening of access with open access. And we needn't confuse policies that stop short of open access with policies that make no progress. We can praise progress and criticize dilution of our term at the same time. We can praise policies for some progressive elements and criticize them for some regressive elements. If we take the trouble to do these things, then we preserve clarity about our standard, avoid undermining our useful term, and head off quarrels about what counts as open access.
I once wrote to a journal to make this kind of two-sided point, praising it for its steps toward widening access and protesting its use of the term "open access" as a synonym for "free" or "no-fee" access. In defense the editor replied, "I'm afraid that the term 'open access' has so many meanings it has almost no meaning anymore." Of course, if this were really true, then the journal would never want to use the term to describe its new policy. However, the editor's pessimistic assessment can become true by a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. If enough journals use the term loosely, then the term will become loose.
Let's avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy. "Open access" still means something. We encourage journals to misuse the term if we're only willing to praise the ones that use the term. Let's use the term according to the BBB definition and encourage others to do so as well. But then let's praise access policies that make progress, even if they fall short of the BBB definition.
* Educating newcomers, a burden of success
I was at a conference recently where someone seriously contended that "open access" has never been adequately defined, and as evidence cited a professional association that was having trouble defining it.
As a teacher, I was reminded of the many times that I watched students struggling to define a term or concept without consulting the book where it was clearly presented. The difference is that the students know or should know that the concept is well-defined in the book. But the professional association, and the person I heard at the conference, may have no idea that "open access" has a written definition in public documents that reflect, inspire, and shape the open-access movement. We shouldn't blame those who think that "open access" has never been adequately defined; we should blame ourselves for not making the definition better known.
One lesson is that success is not enough if it encourages newcomers and bystanders who, through compound interest on initial misunderstanding, make our clear term fuzzy. Too many newcomers are trying to define "open access" contextually from contemporary discussion. Some by good luck start from informed discussions, but some by bad luck start from uninformed discussions.
It gets worse. Not only is there ignorance and misunderstanding about what "open access" means. This very ignorance and misunderstanding are taken as evidence that the term is only loosely defined. The self-fulfilling prophecy about the term's loose meaning is being fulfilled as we watch.
Not all the news is bad, of course. True understanding is growing alongside this ignorance and misunderstanding. New OA journals and OA archives prove it. A very large number of journal articles and newspaper stories prove it. The US and UK open-access proposals prove it.
The problem is that the meme of OA is spreading faster than accurate information about OA. Too many messages that introduce OA to newcomers, and recruit new allies and critics, define the term loosely or incorrectly. Very few point to the BBB definition.
The term "open source" has the same history of careful definition threatened by loose usage. For that matter, so do "evolution", "self-defense" and "Christmas". We're not unique and we're not doomed. We just have to appreciate that our term is not self-explanatory and that dilution causes and justifies further dilution.
I wrote my Open Access Overview (first posted June 21, 2004) precisely because our successes were bringing in newcomers who couldn't put their hands on a brief, accurate introduction. They could easily find lists of links or essay-length analyses that didn't start at the beginning, but not a primer that defined the basic concept and its major issues.
Let me close with two appeals:
(1) To friends of OA: Praise progress wherever you see it. If it doesn't amount to OA, then don't call it OA, but don't let that stop you from recognizing it as progress. Unless you speak unclearly, no one will mistake your praise for the claim that full OA is not possible or not desirable.
(2) To publishers experimenting with wider access: Keep up the good work, but please don't use the term "open access" for policies that don't meet the BBB definition. If you mislabel a policy as OA, then please don't mistake criticism of the label for criticism of the policy.
The BBB definition of "open access"
How should we define "open access"? From SOAN for 8/4/03
- Budapest Open Access Initiative (February 14, 2002)
- Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (June 20, 2003)
- Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, (October 22, 2003)
Thoughts on commercial use of FOS. From FOSN for 1/30/02
* Postscript. We're clearly entering an era of wider and easier access to research literature. This includes full OA in the BBB sense, but it also includes lots of kindred forms of access for which we don't have names. On the one hand, the absence of names will lead many people to call these kindred forms "open access", diluting our term. On the other hand, concocting a family of new names may be at least as confusing and harmful. The names would have to discriminate among fine and constantly changing variations on the theme. We could quarrel about which was the right name for a given policy, especially as the discriminations became finer and finer. Policy innovations could always develop faster than our vocabulary and there could always be more policy variations than names. We would feel pressure to invent ever new names to prevent the dilution of older ones. And as the access vocabulary grew, journals with evolving access policies would have to rename them every quarter.
I don't like that scenario and am certainly not advocating distinct terms for every distinct access policy. There are several alternatives to this ugly scenario. We can use descriptive phrases ("free after six months", "postprint archiving but only in institutional repositories") without trying to compress them into names. We can use a small number of terms (green, gold, OA, delayed OA, partial OA, free access) without trying to name every shade or wrinkle. When definitions differ, and the differences matter, we could use discriminating adjectives ("Budapest OA", "Valparaiso OA", "IFLA OA").
I only mention these alternatives to show that they exist. I don't have a preference among them and I don't delude myself into thinking that I could direct the evolution of language. I only want to argue that our central term has a usefully firm definition codified in public documents, that we should appeal to that definition in resisting attempts to stretch or dilute the term, and that we can do this without advocating a host of coinages to describe every different flavor of access.
The many kindred forms of access
Reflections on September 11 three years later
A bedrock principle of the open-access movement is that freedom promotes science. We mean freedom of information --freedom from price barriers, freedom from needless licensing restrictions, freedom from censorship. But this is just one facet of a wider and deeper thesis that can be traced back through Paul Feyerabend and Karl Popper to John Stuart Mill, namely, that science can only thrive in a free society where individual inquirers are free to defend disfavored or despised ideas and free to challenge orthodoxy and ideology.
But we don't often hear the converse thesis: that science promotes freedom. Consider the kind of freedom described by Daniel Dennett in _Freedom Evolves_ (Viking, 2003). This is the freedom that arises from cognition and understanding, in particular, from understanding the effects of causes. This kind of understanding helps us anticipate harm and plan our actions in order to avert it. To use Dennett's example, when someone throws a brick at my head, and I duck to avoid it, then I have used my understanding to escape harm. There are several layers to this understanding. I have the sense of sight, not just touch; I don't have wait to be hit in order to know that the brick is coming. I understand that the brick will hit and hurt me if I don't move. I am able to turn this understanding into action that increases rather than decreases my chances of escaping injury.
This kind of understanding makes the inevitable "evitable". The brick that would inevitably have hit the uncomprehending creature failed to hit me. We can anticipate and control our future to a fairly high degree, at least compared to entities with primitive brains, like snails, or without brains, like ponds. This kind of anticipation and control is a large part of what we call freedom, perhaps the whole of it. As far as we possess it, we owe it to our sense organs, our brains, our science, and the culture that supports our science --our biological and cultural nervous systems. Science is like another, highly-refined sense organ telling us what's coming, whether it's harmful, and what might be done to avert it. The point is not that it's perfect, merely that it improves over time, amplifies our ability to convert the inevitable into the evitable, and thereby enhances our freedom.
Here's an example. We won't make ourselves free from the threat of terrorism simply by ratcheting up security at borders and buildings. On the contrary, even if that kind of surveillance effectively strengthens our security or negative freedom (from danger), it reduces our liberty or positive freedom (as citizens). Moreover, it only addresses symptoms, not causes, and therefore does not fully harness the understanding that fosters evitability. To enhance our freedom in the face of hatred we must diminish hatred itself. The snag is that we have no idea how to do this, or we have only feeble guesses. Our understanding itself is limited, partly because hatred is diffuse and elusive, and partly because we're implicated in it, both as objects of hatred and as haters. In the face of a large and complicated challenge like this, we can only start where we find ourselves and take modest steps. We may not know how to do the whole job (and we may suspect anyone who pretends to know), but we know a few elements that are sure to play a part: overcoming ignorance, sharing knowledge, and building new forms of cooperation.
If science doesn't play a part in the freedom we are trying to build, then we can be sure that we've misconceived that freedom, just as we would if free travel and free speech did not play their part in it as well.
Daniel C. Dennett, Freedom Evolves, Viking, 2003
Reflections on September 11, 2001
Reflections on September 11, 2002
Major OA developments in August 2004
This is a selection of open-access developments since the last issue of the newsletter, taken from the Open Access News blog, which I write with other contributors and update daily. I give both the item URL and blog posting URL so that you can read the original story as well as what I or another blog contributor had to say about it. For other developments, the blog archive is browseable and searchable.
Here are the major stories from August:
* The NIH open-access plan moves forward, gathers friends and foes.
- * The NIH open-access plan moves forward, gathers friends and foes.
- * The UK parliamentary report recommending OA continues to make news.
- * The US and UK open-access proposals inspire proposals in other countries.
- * Journals and journalists focus on OA business models.
Elias Zerhouni, Director of the NIH, has already convened three stakeholder meetings to air the issues raised by the open-access plan. The first, on July 28, was mostly for publishers. The second, on August 30, was for working scientists. The third, on August 31, was for patient and disease advocacy organizations. Sometime this month, Dr. Zerhouni will release a draft policy for public comment.
On August 30, 25 Nobel laureates from the United States released an open letter supporting the NIH open-access plan. "Science is the measure of the human race's progress. As scientists and taxpayers too, we therefore object to barriers that hinder, delay or block the spread of scientific knowledge supported by federal tax dollars including our own works....There's no question, open access truly expands shared knowledge across scientific fields."
The NIH sent a Fact Sheet on Public Access Publishing to the participants in the August 31th invitation-only stakeholder meeting on the open-access plan. "As the agency works towards the development of a policy statement on public access publishing, two important goals must be considered: first, the need to give the public taxpayers who support NIH research better access to the results of its investment; and second, the need for NIH to have a full compendium of research results including clinical trials outcomes that it can use to manage its research portfolio and monitor scientific productivity."
On August 24, a large number of public-interest groups launched the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. The coalition formed to support the NIH open-access plan and open access to taxpayer-funded research. The members of the ATA include universities, departments, laboratories, libraries, journals, publishers, foundations, and groups that speak for patients, physicians, and taxpayers. Membership is open and all stakeholder groups that support open access to taxpayer-funded research are encouraged to join.
See especially the impressive list of patient advocacy organizations that have already joined. These groups see that OA to NIH-funded research will accelerate research and help conquer the diseases they are dedicated to conquering.
The ATA publicly released its August 26 letter to Elias Zerhouni, Director of the NIH, in support of the NIH open-access plan. "The widespread dissemination of medical advances and scientific findings is critical to obtaining the best return possible on our nation's investment in research. Unfortunately, most Americans effectively do not have access to the results of research paid for with their tax dollars....In the age of the Internet, it is no longer acceptable that millions of Americans lack access to this credible, peer-reviewed research to inform their work, their studies and their personal healthcare decisions."
Some ATA member organizations have issued press releases announcing that they have joined and explaining the reasons why. For example:
The Association of College Research Libraries (ACRL)
The Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL)
The link to the Appropriations Committee language describing the OA plan that I used in my last issue has since died. But the language can now be found at the ATA site. This version of the language, like the last, is unofficial.
The Professional Scholarly Publishing (PSP) division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) publicly released its August 23 letter to Elias Zerhouni, Director of the NIH. The letter spells out nine objections to the NIH open-access plan. At the same time the AAP released Pat Schroeder's cover letters to the science press and to Sen. Arlen Specter.
Paul Kincade, President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), publicly released his August 17 letter to Elias Zerhouni, Director of the NIH, and his August 19 letter to Senators Specter and Harkin. Both letters oppose the NIH open-access plan.
The Association of American Universities (AAU) outlined its position in an article, The House Appropriations Committee Enters Scholarly Publishing Fray, in its AAU CFR Weekly Wrap-Up, July 30, 2004, pp. 1-2. The AAU says that it has no position on the substance of the plan, but raises a couple of objections based on process.
I've written an FAQ on the NIH open-access plan, based on my article in SOAN for 8/2/04. It focuses on questions about what the report language would require and publisher objections to the plan. For example, it answers most of the objections raised by the PSP, FASEB, and AAU.
Here are some recent news stories on the NIH plan:
Judy Sarasohn, Accessibility Battle Flares, Washington Post, September 2, 2004.
Lila Guterman, NIH Proceeds With Plan to Provide Open Access to Scientific Papers, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 1, 2004.
Andrew Albanese, Publishers Protest at NIH, Library Journal, September 1, 2004. A brief note on publisher opposition to the NIH OA plan.
Richard Sietmann, Nobelpreisträger für "Open Access", Heise Online, August 31, 2004.
Anon., NIH Open Access Recommendation Spurs Heated Debate, Library Journal, August 30, 2004.
Dan Vergano, Scientists want research papers freely available, USA Today, August 29, 2004.
Jocelyn Kaiser, Seeking Advice on 'Open Access,' NIH Gets an Earful, Science Magazine, August 6, 2004.
Dee Ann Divis, House acts on research access, United Press International, August 4, 2004.
Also see the Slashdot discussion based on Divis' article.
Publishers Visit NIH To Protest Free Access Initiative, Library Journal, August 4, 2004.
* The UK parliamentary report recommending OA continues to make news.
Andrew Albanese, UK Report Calls for Publicly Available STM Research, Library Journal, August 15, 2004.
A catalyst for change, Open Access Now, August 2, 2004. An interview with Ian Gibson.
Richard Wray, Reed says enforced access plan is daft, The Guardian, August 6, 2004.
The Oxford Publishing Society is hosting a symposium on the OA recommendations in the UK report:
Where now? - the real cost of Open Access and its strategic implications for STM publishers (Oxford, September 30, 2004)
Here are some articles on *both* the US and UK open-access proposals.
Paula Hane, Developments in Open Access, Search, and More, Information Today, September 2004.
Walt Crawford, Library Access to Scholarship, Cites & Insights, September 2004.
Access all areas, The Economist, August 5, 2004.
Elsevier Faces More Choppy Water, Greenhouse Associates, August 2004.
Anon., Open Access News, University of Melbourne EIC prof lit and news alert, July 23, 2004.
* The US and UK open-access proposals inspire proposals in other countries.
An August 3 editorial in The Hindu calls on India to follow the US and UK in mandating open-access archiving for taxpayer-funded research. For Access to Science Publications, The Hindu, August 3, 2004.
In an August 7 article in The Age, Allan Fels calls on Australia to adopt the open-access proposals in the UK report. Allan Fels, How to bring knowledge to the entire planet, The Age, August 7, 2004.
Colin Steele made a similar argument on July 26. Colin Steele, World's knowledge base should be open to all: Are you free? Australian Financial Review, July 26, 2004.
For background, showing that Australia was moving in this direction before the US and UK acted, see the following:
Frameworks for Assessment of Australian Reseach Quality, a press release from Australia's National Scholarly Communications Forum, June 5, 2004.
Malcolm Gillies and Colin Steele, Outcomes of the Round Table on Changing Research Practices in the Digital Information and Communication Environment, NSCF, June 1, 2004.
At the same time, without mentioning the US or the UK proposals, Canada and Scotland are considering similar plans.
The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) has written a Brief to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, June 29, 2004. The brief recommends ways in which Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) might transform itself, especially to promote new and more effective forms of scholarly communication. It recommends (p. 4) that the SSHRC sign the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI), "work actively" toward the BOAI's goals, allocate a percentage of each SSHRC research grant to OA journal publication fees, consider requiring SSHRC grant recipients to deposit their work in OA archives, and work with other Granting Councils to develop a Canadian national policy for open access to taxpayer-funded research.
The Scottish Science Information Strategy Working Group has written a draft Scottish Declaration of Open Access and made it public in mid-August. The draft will be finalized, signed, and probably released after an October 11 meeting at the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Mark Chillingworth, Scots declare support for open access, Information World Review, August 19, 2004.
Richard Wray, Commercial publishers face Scottish open access challenge, The Guardian, August 20, 2004.
* Journals and journalists focus on OA business models.
Journals continue to experiment with business models that allow them to provide free or open access to more of their content. Journalists continue to write about them. Here are some of the developments in August.
On August 31, BioMed Central consulted "with librarians and funding bodies about future mechanisms for funding Open Access publishing."
Also see Mark Chillingworth, BioMed Central seeks Open Access advice, August 9, 2004.
Nature has returned to its experiment with subsidized access, offering six months of free online access to a collection of articles on proteomics. The no-fee access is subsidized by Sigma-Aldrich. By my count, this is Nature's third use of the subsidy model.
The Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, from Hindawi Publishing, converted to OA.
The Journal of Experimental Botany, from Oxford, adopted the Walker-Prosser OA model.
Starting in January 2005, Cell Press will provide free online access to the archive of Cell Press journals back to 1995, with a 12-month moving wall to exclude recent issues.
Also see Bobby Pickering, Cell Press gets the open access notion, Information World Review, August 21, 2004.
Contributions to Economic Analysis and Policy, published by the Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress), adopted an interesting variation on the OA model. Abstracts are fully OA. To see full-text, users have to register and consent to have a subscription request sent to their institutional library. This may not be new, but I didn't know about it until this month when I tried to read Mark McCabe's article on publisher mergers and journal prices. On the plus side: this is free online access to full-text. On the minus side: it blocks software that would crawl the full-text for searching, indexing, summarizing, mining, or other kinds of processing and analysis. (Or, it makes software access depend on a deceptive hack.) Here's a link to McCabe's article for those who want to see how the system works.
Elsevier CEO Crispin Davis defended his company's business model, but unfortunately missed the target. See Philip Aldrick, Reed boss denies 'profiteering', Daily Telegraph, August 6, 2004, and my blog comments.
Springer CEO Derk Haank gave an interview to the Financial Times that left the impression that Springer's new Open Choice plan is offered in bad faith to generate low uptake and provide the basis for a rebuke to OA proponents. See Stephanie Kirchgaessner, New leaf for chief of Springer, Financial Times, August 5, 2004, and my blog comments.
Also see Richard Poynder, Put Up or Shut Up, Information Today, September 2004. Poynder interviews Derk Haank, former chairman of Elsevier Science and current CEO of Springer, about the Open Choice program.
The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL) is an open-access journal that just solicited 200 paying subscribers? Why? To satisfy a benighted funding agency that believes journals are only worthy of funding if they have at least 200 "paid subscribers".
Starting in 2005, the new open-access (or free-access) edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) will include an institutional membership automatically with every institutional site license. The memberships will give authors from those institutions a 25% discount on the $1,000 processing fee PNAS charges to publish an accepted article.
David Worlock gave a presentation at the OECD conference on the Information Economy, June 3, 2004, Changing Business Models in the Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishing Market.
David Stern of the Yale libraries, wrote a guide to "the current pricing models that are being tested for supporting Open Access to electronic journals". I don't agree with all his conclusions, but he's the first to attempt an annotated catalog of the major business models. See David Stern, Open Access Journals: revenue beyond author charges.
Coming up later this month
Here are some important OA-related events coming up in September
* Sometime in September the NIH expects to publish a draft policy statement on the open-access plan, and launch a period of public comment. According to a hand-out that NIH sent to participants in the August 31 stakeholder meeting on the plan, "This draft policy will take into account the input that NIH receives on this issue and present a clear description of the agency's position and planned actions in the area of public access. In December, NIH will report to Congress on its consultations and proposed next steps."
* On September 7 the U.S. Congress reconvenes after its summer recess. Sometime in this session the NIH open-access plan will come up for a vote in the House. The Senate Appropriations Committee will consider the plan and may or may not recommend a version of it for a vote. If the two chambers differ in their appropriations bills, they will work out the differences in a conference committee. The usual deadline for all this work is October 1, the start of the next fiscal year, but Congress does not always meet the deadline.
* September 30 marks the end of the BMC memberships that JISC bought for all 180 UK universities. I'm pleased to report, however, JISC has agreed to renew them.
* Notable conferences this month
CODESRIA Conference on electronic publishing and dissemination
Dakar, Senegal, September 1-2, 2004
Content: Creation, Management and Access in Network Environment (PLANNER 2004, sponsored by INFLIBNET)
Manipur, India, September 4-5, 2004
Digital Resources for the Humanities
Newcastle, September 5-8, 2004
Digital Library --Advance the Efficiency of Knowledge Utilization (sponsored by the National Library of China and the China Digital Library Corp.)
Beijing, September 6-8, 2004
European Conference on Digital Libraries
Bath, September 12-17, 2004
Digital Futures Academy: from digitization to delivery
London, September 13-17, 2004
Towards a Continuum of Digital Heritage: Strategies for a European Area of Digital Cultural Resources
The Hague, September 15-16, 2004
From open access to open learning
Bangkok, September 15-18, 2004
Open Innovation! Auf der Suche nach neuen Leitbildern (in German) (open access is among the topics)
Berlin, September 16-17, 2004
Open Access: Removing the Barriers (ASIDIC Fall 2004 meeting)
Phoenix, September 19-21, 2004
JPGM GOLD CON: 50 years of medical writing: International conference on journal writing and publishing (sponsored by the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, INASP, and WAME); includes a one-day session on Electronic Publishing and Open Access
Parel, Mumbai, India, September 23-26, 2004
The Serials Ecosystem: Perspectives on the Transition from Print to Electronic Journals
University of New Brunswick, September 25-26, 2004
Sixth National Russian Research Conference on Digital Libraries
Pushchino, Russia, September 29 - October 1, 2004
Where now? - the real cost of Open Access and its strategic implications for STM publishers
Oxford, September 30, 2004
Access to health information in developing countries: the role of information and communication technology
London, September 30 - October 1, 2004
* Other OA-related conferences
* I've added 14 new conferences to the conference page since the last issue. In the next few days I'll delete the second asterisk marking them and the new entries will blend into the rest of the collection.
* Bloglet, the blog-to-email service for Open Access News, has been flaky again. Let me repeat that Bloglet is unreliable and beyond my control. It's often down without explanation. When it's up, it often sends out corrupted emails that garble the text. When it's working as advertised, it still deletes the titles, bylines, and direct links to individual blog postings. I encourage friends of OA to read the blog on the web or through its RSS feed.
Open Access News weblog
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This is the SPARC Open Access Newsletter (ISSN 1546-7821), written by Peter Suber and published by SPARC. The views I express in this newsletter are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of SPARC.
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