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Mike Dodd in PA Mediapoint has written the best summary I've seen to date on publisher opposition to the UK Legal Deposit Libraries Bill. (Thanks to LIS News.)
John Willinsky, Scholarly Associations and the Economic Viability of Open Access Publishing, Journal of Digital Information, 4, 2 (April 9, 2003). Abstract: "The paper considers a number of economic issues that scholarly associations are confronting in moving their journals online, with a focus on the possible viability of an open access or free-to-read format. It explores the current content overlap between subscription-based and open access sources, and considers how these redundancies favor open access publishing and indexing. It utilizes the tax returns for 20 US non-profit scholarly associations to analyze current publishing revenues against costs, arguing that the associations could make up the loss of revenue posed by the open access publishing model through cost savings and other revenue sources, while serving their membership better through the increased readership in an era of declining subscriptions. While the decision to publish journals in an open access format is by no means simply an economic one, the viability of open access publishing warrants serious consideration by scholarly associations that are currently determining what this new medium may mean for the circulation of knowledge." (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)
OCLC has published a report, Five year information format trends, which "presents data and forecasts about information format trends that will likely shape the information landscape of the future." Four areas are examined: traditional materials, scholarly materials, digitization projects, and web resources. There is a section on eprint archives. Posted in The Resource Shelf.
Is scientific self-censorship an unnerving and high-risk response to terrorism? How about ordinary, involuntary censorship? John Steinbruner, an arms control expert at the University of Maryland, is making the rounds of biomedical conferences advocating that an international body decide what may and may not be investigated, which pathogens may be shipped and where, and which scientists and research projects will be licensed to proceed. "[T]he oversight system he envisions would be mandatory and it would operate before potentially dangerous life sciences experiments are conducted. Even if the line of inquiry wins approval, access to results could be limited to those whose motives had passed muster under the proposed framework he has developed." Steinbruner calls it "just an extension of the normal peer review process".
The European Science Foundation has published an important policy briefing, Open Access: Restoring scientific communication to its rightful owners. The ESF hasn't yet endorsed the paper's position, but may do so in the future. The briefing argues for a model of scholarly communication combining open access, peer review, and the Open Archives Initiative (as did the BOAI). It briefly sketches the history of the open-access movement, the problems it solves, and the ways in which it solves them. It also sketches the ESF's previous work in this cause. Quoting from the conclusion:
The world of scholarly publishing is undergoing a profound transformation. Nobody can predict the outcome of this revolution, but it is of great relevance for the future of scientific research. The Internet has made possible the no-cost dissemination of scientific information through a variety of mechanisms. We encourage experimentation with these new mechanisms because they promise a publication process with improved global access to research results. Importantly, this move forward can also bring a reduced financial burden for libraries. Experimentation with these new publishing and distribution tools can be accomplished without compromising the high standards enforced by the traditional publication process – both with respect to scientific quality (through peer review) and to stability of access (through paper or digital archiving).The briefing was written by Alison Buckholtz, Raf Dekeyser, Melissa Hagemann, Thomas Krichel, and Herbert Van de Sompel.
CILIP is soliciting nominations for the 2003 Strix Award, given annually "in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the field of information retrieval". The winner should have made any of five kinds of contribution, one of which is the "development of, or significant improvement in, accessibility to an information service". CILIP is also seeking nominations for its Public Sector Award, for a " library or library authority that has instigated an innovative use of electronic resources". Nominations are both awards are due by June 27.
Dick Kaser interviews Kurt Molholm in the April issue of Information Today. Molholm is the director of the U.S. government's Defense Technical Information Center, which generally supports open access to unclassified research. The conversation ranges over the death of PubScience, the threat to the GPO, and self-censorship of scientific journals and government web sites disseminating scientific information. Quoting Molholm: "That's one of two big paradoxes I see as a government organization. First, more and more legislation is saying, 'We can't afford to fund you, so find ways of getting revenue yourself.' And now industry says, 'You're encroaching on my area.' The second thing is, they say, 'Conduct yourself like a business, but you don't have the same business tools.' [This] gets back to that same thing I've said before: equity versus profit. Government organizations are not in business to make profit. They are there to serve their constituencies, [which are] as much overseas as here."
The High Energy Physics Structure Project has a working online demo of an automated indexing and classification system for online research papers. Using the 50 top-cited papers from SLAC SPIRES, the project clustered the papers by theme, producing different clusters at different levels of generality. "The clustering was performed with an algorithm analysing the structure of the citation graph. The clusters obtained form the themes of the first level (the papers themselves form the themes of the zero level). Then the same clustering algorithm was applied to the set of themes of the first level, etc. This turned out to be a process convergent fast: at fifth level all the themes collapsed into a single theme, which is naturally called 'High Energy and Nuclear Physics'." (PS: This is a good example of the kind of sophisticated software that takes open-access articles as data for machines rather than as ends in themselves for human readers. It will make the papers more visible and useful than they already are. While it could be run on commercial databases, it will always be cheaper to run on open-access collections. This is why open-access collections stimulate the progress of indexing and classification software, and why the progress of this software stimulates authors and journals to provide open access to their articles. At the same time, of course, it answers the objection that open-access papers are not indexed in the traditional ways.)
David Mattison has a very comprehensive review of wiki content management tools in the April issue of Searcher.
The Australian Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) has released its final report on the Research Information Infrastructure Framework for Australian Higher Education. (The report is dated November 2002, but was released only three weeks ago.) It identifies three priorities for funding: (1) "discovery and management of research information", (2) "access to research information resources", and (3) "creation and dissemination of Australian research information". In pursuit of these, the report advocates funds for eprint repositories and digital theses and dissertations. To improve access to journal literature, it seeks the money for Australian libraries to buy 5-10 years' worth of the back runs of important journals. But it doesn't seem to recognize the potential for open-access journals.
Steven Epstein, Where Did All The Books Go? Syllabus Magazine, April, 2003. An overview of ebook projects, especiall open-access initiatives like Project Gutenberg and the Online Book Page. It also covers more scholarly and more flexible initiatives such as the DLF architectures for digital libraries, OAIster, and DSpace.