Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Julie Claire Diop, Librarians Target Science Publishers, Newsday, April 18, 2003. A brief overview introducing the mainstream audience to the dysfunctional market in scholarly journals, with vollies and replies from each side. Publishers think scholars and librarians don't appreciate the value they add. Librarians think they are being gouged. "Stanford biochemistry professor Patrick Brown has tried to change the paradigm by co-founding the Public Library of Science, which plans to offer its online journals for free by charging professors $1,000 to $1,500 per published article. 'We intend for Reed Elsevier to change or die,' Brown said. Reed Elsevier said if it really were so cheap to offer journals online, the Public Library of Science would not have needed a $9 million grant for start-up costs."

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

At an April 7-8 conference of French and American scientists at Stanford University, "José Achache, associate director of the European Space Agency, discussed the question of whether providing open access to Earth observation from space should be viewed as an opportunity for researchers or a threat to security." I'd like to hear more, but this summary of the conference proceedings says no more about it. Can any participants provide more detail?

Now that sequencing the human genome is essentially complete, what's next? For Thomas Murray, director of the Hastings Center, there are a host of ethical questions to work through, including "what genome research can and should mean in the developing world and intellectual property issues that range from ownership of genes and tissues to free and open access to researchers' genome data."

Hisayoshi Harada, Digitizing, Archiving, and Preserving Japanese Cultural Heritage, RLG DigiNews, April 15, 2003.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

The University of Cincinnati has launched the Academic Journal Policy Database (AJPD), which currently covers over 1700 journals. For each, it links to the journal's home page and to its page of policies e.g. on transferring copyright or accepting previously disseminated work. Registered users of the database (registration is free of charge) can update entries, add new entries, annotate journal records, and participate in a discussion forum. No registration is needed to search or browse the collection. At the moment, AJPD draws special attention to a journal's policy on accepting ETD submissions (electronic theses and dissertations), and in the future will draw attention to other specific policies. The AJPD overlaps somewhat with Project Romeo, which tracks journal policies on copyright and eprint archiving. The two projects are in conversation to see how to minimize duplicated labor.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Elizabeth Gadd, Charles Oppenheim, and Steve Probets, Self-Archiving: The 'Right' Thing? An Introduction to the RoMEO Project, SCONUL Newsletter, Winter 2002. From the introduction:
In higher education today there are many calls for change in the scholarly communication process. A number of alternative publishing models are being advocated in the hope of counteracting ever-increasing journal price increases. One suggestion is that academics ‘self-archive’ their research papers either by making them available on their own web pages, or by submitting them to an institutional repository or a subject-based archive (e.g. ArXiv, CogPrints). It is argued that self-archiving will ‘free’ the research literature from expensive ‘toll-gate’ access, thus offering academics greater visibility and impact for their work....[There follows a short description of the self-archiving process.] Seems straight forward? Unfortunately not. In fact, the whole process is encumbered with rights issues that could hamper the success of the movement. It is these issues that the RoMEO (Rights metadata for open archiving) project has been funded by the JISC’s FAIR programme to identify and address.
From the conclusion:
The aim of the RoMEO project is to ensure that copyright issues do not hinder the development of author self-archiving via institutional repositories. It hopes to do this by assessing the key rights issues for each stakeholder group through a series of surveys, and by making recommendations that address those issues. The project team would be grateful if readers would advertise the surveys (available [here]) as widely as possible to relevant parties in their institution.

More on the state-level DMCAs....Have they interfered with science or scholarship yet? "Steganography and honeypot expert Niels Provos may risk four years in prison by completing his Ph.D." Provos is a grad student at the University of Michigan, and has protected himself by moving his research papers and software offshore. The Michigan version of the DMCA "makes it a felony to possess software capable of concealing the existence or source of any electronic communication." But according to Provos, "Concealing the existence of communication is my dissertation, and concealing the source of communication takes place in honey nets."

More on the new German copyright law....Burton Bollag reviews the controversy in the April 14 Chronicle of Higher Education. "A hotly contested copyright law adopted on Friday by Germany's Parliament gives universities and research institutions considerable leeway to digitally distribute copyrighted materials among students and scholars without paying extra charges. The law has been welcomed by academics. But academic publishers, who fought tooth and nail against the bill, say it will force them out of business."

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Brian Lavoie, The Incentives to Preserve Digital Materials: Roles, Scenarios, and Economic Decision-Making, a white paper from OCLC, April 2003. Abstract: "Economic issues are a principal component of the research agenda for digital preservation. Economics is fundamentally about incentives, so a study of the economics of digital preservation should begin with an examination of the incentives to preserve. Securing the long-term viability and accessibility of digital materials requires an appropriate allocation of incentives among key decision-makers in the digital preservation process. But the circumstances under which digital preservation takes place often lead to a misalignment of preservation objectives and incentives. Identifying circumstances where insufficient incentives to preserve are likely to prevail, and how this can be remedied, are necessary first steps in developing economically sustainable digital preservation activities."

Martina Habeck, Compromise reached over German copyright bill, The Scientist, April 10, 2003. Publishers say that the new copyright bill makes it too easy for scholars and libraries to make unauthorized digital copies. But on the other side, "[p]roponents of open-access publishing models argue that the bill blocks the way to a free information society....Following heated debates in the national press last week, the German Parliament's legal committee decided yesterday to strike a compromise between the opposing sides. The wording of the controversial paragraph 52a will not be changed, but during a transitional period that will end in 2006, its implementation will be under close scrutiny. If the publishers' worries become reality, the bill will be corrected."

The Cornell University Library has scanned 441 historical monographs (about 160,000 pages) and put them online free of charge. While all the monographs are in the public domain, Cornell claims a copyright "in the images, underlying encoded text, selection, indexing, and display of materials" and authorizes personal and research use only. Commercial use and reproduction require permission. The scanned text images are not searchable, but are presented in a very readable high resolution. See for example page 1, volume 1, of Harriet Martineau's translation of The Philosophy of Auguste Comte, London, 1896. (Thanks to the Scout Report.)

NISO has launched a MetaSearch Initiative to set standards for cross-database searching. I can't tell from the web site whether NISO knows about, or has any use for, the existing OAI standard. If anyone learns the answer to this question, perhaps by attending the upcoming Strategy Workshop (Denver, May 7-8), please let me know.

Gerry McKiernan, "Scholar-based Innovations in Publishing. Part I: Individual and Institutional Initiatives," Library Hi Tech News, Vol. 20, No. 2 (March 2003) pp. 19-26. Online access limited to subscribers. Here in Part I Gerry surveys arXiv, CogPrints, RePEc, California's eScholarship Repository, Glasgow's ePrints Service, and Ohio State's Knowledge Bank. Part II will appear in issue No. 3, and Part III will appear in No. 5.

How are the many metadata standards related to one another and to the organizations that create, disseminate, and use them? See the wonderful MetaMap and be prepared for extraordinary complexity and extraordinary clarity in taming and presenting it.

According to it's latest update, BioMed Central now supports Athens authentication, an "Access Management System for controlling access to web-based subscription services".