Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Freeing Information: Is it Time to Make Peer Reviewed Research Free? is the title of an article by Lee Dye on "A few leading scientists are asking a simple question that could have a profound impact on how information about scientific research is disseminated. Here's the question: Why shouldn't scientific research be available to anyone anywhere in the world, free of charge?". The article goes on to talk about converting journals to free electronic dissemination, but unfortunately doesn't mention the possibility of self-archiving.

Edward Felten, the Princeton professor who stood up to the music industry when they nastygrammed him over his white-paper on the security flaws in the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), has started a weblog called "Freedom To Tinker" where he keeps track of legal threats to tinkerers, the people who pry open technology to understand how it works, to improve it, or to make interoperable devices. The site was unavailable earlier this week: Felten's ISP shut off the site, because the site had appeared on a list of "spammers" published by an outfit called SpamCop (here's Felten's account of the incident). (Thanks to Vitanuova, Boing Boing Blog, and McGee's Musings for relaying this to me!)

In exchange for a $2.3 million grant from Microsoft, the University of Waterloo has not only instituted a programming course in Microsoft's C# language, but required it for all incoming CS students. This is a naked case of sacrificing academic integrity for money. The curriculum of a university is the prerogative of its faculty, not of donors. (Thanks to Margaret Kane for

The O'Reilly Network has posted a transcript of Lawrence Lessig's keynote speech on copyright at the Open Source Convention in late July. His four theses: "(1) Creativity and innovation always builds on the past. (2) The past always tries to control the creativity that builds upon it. (3) Free societies enable the future by limiting this power of the past. (4) Ours is less and less a free society."

More on Janis Ian....After she defended the free online distribution of music in an an article in Performing Songwriter Magazine, she was flooded with emails showing support and asking questions. She's now written a follow-up article and has given permission for it to be copied to other sites.

An informative thread about BioMed Central and new publishing models is available via Stevan Harnad's archive of the American-Scientist-E-PRINT-Forum.

Friday, August 16, 2002

Licensing may be replacing the first-sale doctrine for more and more digital content, but how about for printed books? Read this comical, disturbing account of Omnicare's attempt to attach a shrinkwrap license to a physical book. (Thanks to LIS News.)

The July issue of Information Research is devoted to the semantic web.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

"As the Semantic Web is to the Web, so is the Semantic Grid to the Grid."

Steven Krause wants to know how to list "innovative, intellectually valuable, well-researched, self-published Web sites" on his CV when looking for an academic job. Any advice for him? (PS: I'm an academic with refereed and unrefereed articles online, but unfortunately I'm in no position to offer advice. I had tenure before the web was invented. But the question is important and I'd like to see how others would advise people in Steven's position.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

The Yale University Library has just released its report on the first year of its 1.5 year Mellon planning grant for preserving electronic journals through electronic archives.

Dan Gillmor's latest column is a call to join the copyright debate. "...I'm convinced that we can preserve our rights, if we can only persuade Congress that they're worth preserving. There's little or no constituency for fair use and other rights, partly because lawmakers are only hearing one side. But if the community of readers, listeners, viewers, scholars, researchers and others who don't 'own' copyrights doesn't at least challenge the terms of the debate, it will surely lose....When copyright owners extend the copyright terms of existing works, as they've done repeatedly in the past, they are taking works that would otherwise enter the public domain and keeping them private. That is a theft from the public, from you and me, and it surely amounts to tens of billions of dollars. So who's the real pirate?"

More on PubSCIENCE....In today's Chronicle of Higher Education, Andrea Foster brings us up to date. The Department of Energy can't legally shut it down until the end of the public comment period on September 8. However, it showed its hand when it told Stephen Miles Sacks, editor of Scipolicy: The Journal of Science and Health Policy, that PubSCIENCE would not exist in 30 days.

A letter of mine, written in response to an article in the Canadian publication University Affairs, was self-archived (via a Kepler "archivelet") on June 13, 2002. The letter was published (with some typographical errors in the URLs!) in the June/July issue of University Affairs, but the published version isn't available online. The self-archived version includes a link to archives which contain the original article (the article is available online, as a PDF file). I've found that the letter has now been cached by the Google search engine. So, it took Google less than 2 months to find the self-archived version of the letter.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002 is a free online mathematics encyclopedia and repository edited by Nathan Egge and Aaron Krowne. It's designed to fill the gap created by the removal of MathWorld from the web because of copyright problems (summary in FOSN for 11/26/01). To avoid MathWorld's fate, Egge and Krowne protect the contents of PlanetMath with the GNU Free Document License. (Thanks to Jean-Claude Guedon.)

Monday, August 12, 2002

More on archiving momentum....On April 15-20, 2002, the National Centre for Science Information and the Indian Institute of Science hosted a workshop in Bangalore on Developing Digital Libraries using Open Source Software, focusing on eprints and Greenstone software.

In March the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore hosted two workshops on electronic publishing and interoperable open archives. The workshops addressed editors and support staff of Indian non-profit STM journals, and focused on the advantages, economics, technology, and nuts and bolts of electronic publishing, especially in open archives.

Charles W. Bailey, Jr. has released Version 44 of his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The bibliography cites over 1650 print and online books, articles, and other resources on scholarly electronic publishing.

In today's New York Times, Sarah Milstein reports on the current generation of software to facilitate peer review at scholarly journals, its advantages for journals and authors, its rapid adoption by most journals, and the reasons why some journals are moving more slowly.

David Bollier, Stopping the Privatization of Public Knowledge: The Endangered Public Domain,, August 1. The second of a three-part series by Bollier, summarizing his recent work on the enclosure of the commons, especially the information commons.

Quoting Fred von Lohmann, attorney for the EFF: "Fair use, free expression, and legitimate science have all suffered collateral damage in Hollywood's war on piracy. How many more scientists, hobbyists, and legitimate competitors have to be threatened or sued before we all admit that the DMCA is not working?"

Quoting Bollier: "Preserving the information commons may not be a topic of kitchen-table conversation just yet. But it is fast becoming a hot issue. With a few more turns of the screw by the content autocrats -- snooping on people's computers, lawsuits against individual file-sharers, intrusive new attempts to control personal behavior -- the fledgling movement to reclaim popular control of the information commons may explode into a mainstream juggernaut. None too soon."

The first installment in Bollier's three-part series came out on July 25.

Slashdot members are discussing ways to make library borrowing anonymous, to protect patrons from the FBI's new power to search and seize library records under the USA PATRIOT Act. (Thanks to LIS News.)

According to the BioMed Central Update for August 09, 2002, one thousand peer-reviewed articles have now been published in BioMed Central online journals by 3855 distinct scientists, and a majority of references are now linked to online full text versions, using a combination of linking information from PubMed, PubMed Central and Crossref to ensure the maximum coverage.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

November 21-22, 2002. CARL/ABRC will host a conference ("Research, Innovation and Canadian Scholarship: Exploring and implementing some new models for scholarly publishing") on the lessons learned from its ongoing project to launch and monitor archives at seven Canadian universities. The conference program and registration information will soon appear at the CARL web site. (PS. In FOSN for 8/8/02, I incorrectly gave the dates for this conference as November 21-11. I thank Leslie Chan for catching and correcting the error.)

On August 7, the California Digital Library launched the International and Area Studies Digital Collection, an open-access, peer-reviewed repository of articles, monographs, and edited volumes. Some of the volumes are published in hardcopy by the University of California Press.

PS. This is the CDL's second archive. The first was the eScholarship Repository, which logged its 10,000th full-text download on July 22. (Thanks to Greg Tananbaum.)