Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Lucky Canadians. They have a Privacy Commissioner named George Radwanski and he takes his job seriously. Here's an excerpt from his Annual Report to Parliament 2001-2002: "The fundamental human right of privacy in Canada is under assault as never before. Unless the Government of Canada is quickly dissuaded from its present course by Parliamentary action and public insistence, we are on a path that may well lead to the permanent loss not only of privacy rights that we take for granted but also of important elements of freedom as we now know it. We face this risk because of the implications, both individual and cumulative, of a series of initiatives that the Government has mounted or is actively moving toward. These initiatives are set against the backdrop of September 11, and anti-terrorism is their purported rationale. But the aspects that present the greatest threat to privacy either have nothing at all to do with anti-terrorism, or they present no credible promise of effectively enhancing security. The Government is, quite simply, using September 11 as an excuse for new collections and uses of personal information about all of us Canadians that cannot be justified by the requirements of anti-terrorism and that, indeed, have no place in a free and democratic society." (Thanks to Politech.)

Friday, January 31, 2003

Many of the presentations from the Academies of Science conference, Open Access as Means to Promote Academic Publishing (Budapest, January 16-18), are now online.

SPARC has published the comprehensive SPARC Institutional Repository Checklist & Resource Guide, by Raym Crowe. There is also a PDF version. From the Introduction: "Institutional repositories contribute as a logical extension of a university's core mission and as a channel through which to increase institutional visibility. However, they can achieve far greater results in synergy with a network of interoperable open access repositories. Further, they build on a growing grassroots faculty practice of self-posting research online....Moreover, they can be introduced by reallocating existing resources, usually without extensive technical development....In sum, institutional repositories offer a strategic response to systemic problems in the existing scholarly journal system --and the response can be applied immediately, reaping both short-term and ongoing benefits for universities and their faculty and advancing the positive transformation of scholarly communication over the long term."

In the February issue of Wired Magazine, J. Bradford DeLong describes the difficulty of maintaining Project Gutenberg. It's not the law or technology of open access, although shortening the term of copyright would help. Primarily it's digitization and proofreading. "Project Gutenberg...has failed to achieve any form of critical mass. It's not a high priority for governments. It hasn't attracted large donations from foundations. Since the whole point is to create a free universal online library, it won't be driven by markets. And as an open source project, the positive-feedback loops are not strong enough. The work is time-consuming and boring."

Upcoming Seminar: Preserving Digital Content (and the Opportunities It Holds) for the Long Haul. A one day conference/seminar scheduled for March 4, 2003 in Philadelphia. It's co-sponsored by the National Library of Medicine and the American Medical Publishers Association. From a blurb, "The program features presentations on three electronic journal archiving strategies - Elsevier's agreement with the Royal Library of the Netherlands, NLM's PubMed Central, and JSTOR from the perspectives of publishers who have chosen each strategy and the organizations that are maintaining the archives. The broader digital archiving landscape will also be covered, including initiatives of the Library of Congress, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Council of Library and Information Resources, the Mellon Foundation, and NLM's "Profiles in Science", which makes the papers of Nobel Prize-winning scientists accessible via the Web." Originally posted by Gary Price in The Resource Shelf

Thursday, January 30, 2003

The results of the zetoc user evaluation are now online. Zetoc is the online tool (free to JISC-sponsored institutions) for Z39.50-compliant access to the British Library's Electronic Table of Contents database.

Since its release last November, about 2,000 institutions have downloaded DSpace, MIT's open-source software for hosting open-access, OAI-compliant archives. Now MIT has asked six research universities --Columbia, Cornell, Ohio State, Rochester, Toronto, and the University of Washington at Seattle-- to help it test and refine the software, write documentation, and build a critical mass of content in the interoperable member archives. The Mellon Foundation is supporting the consortium, which will be called the DSpace Federation. For details see Dan Carneale's story in the Chronicle of Higher Education or the DSpace press release. ,

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

The Budapest Open Access Initiative has just released two important guides to open-access publishing.
  1. Guide to Business Planning for Converting a Subscription-based Journal to Open Access (991K)
  2. Guide to Business Planning for Launching a New Open Access Journal (686K)
Both guides were written by Raym Crow and Howard Goldstein.

Robert A. Baron, Reconstructing the Public Domain, originally delivered at a NINCH Copyright Town Meeting, March 23, 2002. From the abstract: "This paper advocates the development of a strong public domain as a remedy to the copyright industry's success in convincing Congress to increase the length and scope of copyright. To revitalize the public domain, and to reveal the means by which our copyright system has been induced to lose its traditional balance between interests, public and private, the author collects and analyzes the rhetorical language and metaphors employed by advocates for a tight copyright regime and by proponents of a strong public domain."

Steve Gillmor interviews John Perry Barlow on copyright, fair use, and the compensation of authors and artists in the January 24 InfoWorld.

Southampton University is trying to create a complete list of eprints adopters. But many who have downloaded the software have not registered themselves. If you use eprints, please send an email to Stevan Harnad with the URL of your eprints archive. If interested, see the registered users and sites using eprints.

Monday, January 27, 2003

A NIMH workshop in July 2001 brought together scientists, publishers, lawyers, and FOS proponents to make recommendations about data archiving in animal cognition research. The NIMH released the group's report on January 15. Excerpts: "Researchers should be strongly encouraged, though not required, to archive their data....Data archives should be free, open, and user-friendly." is a free online index of doctoral dissertations in progress. (Thanks to C-FIT.)

Richard Clarke is resigning from his position as cybersecurity czar for the Bush administration. Bad news: he's the only member of Bush's security team willing to say in public that the DMCA is stifling scientific research into encryption and computer security.

The Netherlands Institute for Scientific Information Services (NIWI) has launched the Networked Research and Digital Information group (NERDI), an interdisciplinary research team investigating how information and communication technologies are reshaping the production of knowledge, the conduct of science, and the nature of research.

In the Winter 2002 issue of the PSP Bulletin (from the Professional Scholarly Publishing division of the AAP), Pieter Bolman of Elsevier has a brief editorial argument against open access and specifically against the Public Library of Science. This issue has already mailed in hardcopy but is not yet online. (When the online version is ready, it should be available here.)

Bolman has three specific arguments. (1) Asking the author or author's sponsor to pay the costs of dissemination might corrupt the peer-review system. (2) Open-access literature is not assured of long-term preservation. (3) If publishers didn't hold the copyrights on articles, then they couldn't afford to digitize their back runs; the cost of seeking all the separate permissions would be prohibitive.

Here are three quick replies. (1') We don't know how PLoS will do this, but BMC doesn't ask authors or their sponsors to pay the dissemination fee until after an article is accepted. (2') Commercial publishers of priced electronic journals do not provide for their long-term preservation unless they see future market potential in it. Libraries, who traditionally perform this function by more inclusive criteria, are generally prohibited from doing it by the licensing terms imposed by publishers, for example, terms that prohibit libraries from migrating content to new formats and media to keep it readable as technologies change. By contrast, open access gives all the permissions needed for long-term preservation in advance, without charge. See my recent article on the permission crisis for more detail. (3') It's true but irrelevant that digitization would be prohibitively expensive if we had to ask permission of all the authors of all the articles in all the back issues. If Bolman is suggesting that publishers or digitizers would face this expense if we'd had open access all these years, then he's clearly mistaken, even if we disregard the fact that open-access literature is digital from birth. Open access means never having to hunt down the copyright holder to ask permission. Copyright holders who consent to open access consent in advance to all uses of their work other than distributing mangled or misattributed versions. Transferring copyright and permitting toll-access aggravates the digitization problem for everyone but the publisher and aggravates all other permission problems as well. Open access removes permission barriers just as it removes the barrier of price.

More grassroots resistance to the Patriot Act....You know that over 20 American cities have adopted resolutions repudiating the Patriot Act, sometimes instructing city police and librarians not to comply with unconstitutional FBI requests. In an editorial in yesterday's Honolulu Advertiser, Robert Rees calls on Hawaii to become the first state to do so. (Thanks to LIS News.)

BIOSIS has launched BiologyBrowser, a free portal for biologists containing news, online reference sources, expert-filtered web links, discussion forums, and an email newsletter. (Thanks to UKSG Serials eNews.)

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Andrew Odlyzko has made several contributions to the FOS debate, including a piece on PLoS in Nature in 2002 and most recently a piece to be published later this year by BMJ books on peer-review, in which he argues for the 'continuing growth of other types of feedback that scholars can rely on', as part of open academic publishing on the Web.