Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Mike Thelwall, Can Google's PageRank be used to find the most important academic Web pages? Journal of Documentation, 59, 2 (2003) pp. 205-217. From the abstract: "This paper reports on the outcome of applying the algorithm to the Web sites of three national university systems in order to test whether it is capable of identifying the most important Web pages. The results are also compared with simple inlink counts. It was discovered that the highest inlinked pages do not always have the highest PageRank, indicating that the two metrics are genuinely different, even for the top pages. More significantly, however, internal links dominated external links for the high ranks in either method and superficial reasons accounted for high scores in both cases. It is concluded that PageRank is not useful for identifying the top pages in a site and that it must be combined with a powerful text matching techniques in order to get the quality of information retrieval results provided by Google." (Thanks to Erik Arfeuille.)

Michèle Battisti, Libre accès à l'information scientifique et technique: état de l'art et perspectives, Revue Documentaliste, 40, 1 (February 2003) pp. 37-45. Abstract: "Organisé à Paris les 23 et 24 janvier derniers par le ministère de la Recherche, l'INSERM, le CNRS, l'INIST et l'ICSTI, un séminaire international s’est penché sur les conditions, les modalités et les perspectives de l’accès ouvert à l’information scientifique et technique : quelles conséquences pour la diffusion de l’IST ? Quels enjeux pour la communauté scientifique ? Quelle opportunité pour les pays en développement ? La présentation de plusieurs projets et initiatives a étayé les réflexions sur les modèles techniques et économiques à concevoir." (Thanks to Erik Arfeuille.)

Friday, May 02, 2003

NISO has issued a statment explaining that a pending patent application from a private company on similar technology will not interfere with the emerging OpenURL standard or its free use.

More on the news from the Public Library of Science....(1) It has has an online submission form for the first of its open-access journals, PLoS Biology. (2) It is recruiting PLoS Advocates, who will help spread the word about PLoS and open-access scientific publishing. (3) It has redesigned its web site and added a lot of important new content, including a very useful new FAQ and downloadable PPT slides to help describe PLoS and make the case for open access.

Following the recent NHS-Biomedcentral agreement the British Medical Journal has published an editorial supporting the view that charging authors to publish could provide free access for all.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Those who signed the PLoS open letter have been sent an email message about posters promoting PloS, and about a call for papers for it's first open-access journal, PLoS Biology. Submissions to PLoS Biology are being accepted from May 1, for a first issue to appear in October (online and print).

The AAP and the ALA have jointly sponsored a white paper by F. Hill Slowinski, What Consumers Want in Digital Rights Management (DRM): Making Content as Widely Available as Possible In Ways that Satisfy Consumer Preferences. The paper acknowledges the harsh criticism of the DRM currently used on ebooks, but is optimistic that the objections can be answered. Excerpt: "The first generation of DRM products was designed to protect content. In many ways, it may have done that too well. We see the second generation of DRM products being developed to promote ease of access to content while still protecting the author’s and publisher’s interests."

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Howard M. Dess and Myoung C. Wilson, The bewildering new world of scholarly communication: Helping faculty understand the issues, C&RL News, April 2003. On the pricing crisis, mentioning SPARC and some relevant conferences, but silent on open access initiatives.

Gerry McKiernan, Scholar-based Innovations in Publishing. Part II: Library and Professional Initiatives, Library Hi Tech News, 20, 3 (April 2003) pp. 19-27. (Not freely accessible online.) In this article, Gerry reviews DSpace, the Australian National University eprint repository, the University of Michigan Scholarly Publishing Office, SPARC, ELSSS, and The Stoa.

Yesterday's drew mainstream press attention to inequities of the Bayh-Dole Act. This is not directly related to open access, but the principles to which critics appeal are among those to which open-access proponents appeal. Quoting Michael Davis, law professor at Cleveland State University: "It's an embarrassment [that universities are allowed to profit from patents arising from government-funded research]....The government paid for all of the research and development. Taxpayers are essentially paying twice."

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

The webcast of the Harvard JOLT symposium, Copyright and Fair Use: Current and Future Prospects (2003), is now online. Panelists included Rep. Rick Boucher, Dan Gillmor, Gigi Sohn, Siva Vaidhyanathan, and Jonathan Zittrain. (Thanks to The Filter.)

Yesterday ebrary announced an Institutional Repository Pilot Program. According to the press release, ebrary subscribers will have access to tools for "cost-effectively" creating an open-access repository for institutional theses and dissertations, technical reports, research articles, teaching materials, and other documents. The repositories would integrate with other library databases and licensed services, offer searching within and across documents, and allow users to highlight words and turn them into links to relevant information ("definitions, biographical information, maps, translations and more"). Ebrary will give early adopters 500 megabytes for each repository. (PS: Congratulations to ebrary for building another path to open-access archives and giving it some interesting new features. On the other hand, ebrary subscribers, and especially non-subscribers, should understand that there are already three open-source packages for building and maintaining open-access institutional repositories: Eprints (from Southampton), DSpace (from MIT), and CDSWare (from CERN). Moreover, these open-source packages create interoperable archives that comply with the standards of the Open Archives Initiative, on which ebrary is silent.)

Paul Schmelzer interviews Siva Vaidhyanathan in Eyeteeth, April 21, 2003. Excerpt: "Both democracy and creative culture share this notion that they work best when the raw materials are cheap and easy and easily distributed. You can look at any cultural development that’s made a difference in the world —reggae, blues, crocheting— you can look at any of these and say, y’know, it’s really about communities sharing....[L]ibrarians are our heroes. This is something that we really have to emphasize. The library is also not just functionally important to communities all over the world, but a library itself is the embodiment of enlightenment values in all the best sense of that. A library is a temple to the notion that knowledge is not just for the elite and that access should be low cost if not free, that doors should be open." (Thanks to LIS News.)

Victoria Reich, Diffused Knowledge Immortalizes Itself: The LOCKSS Program, High Energy Physics Libraries Webzine, April 2003. Abstract: "The LOCKSS model, 'Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe,' creates low-cost, persistent digital 'caches' of authoritative versions of http-delivered content. The LOCKSS software enables institutions to locally collect, store, preserve and archive authorized content, thus safeguarding their community's access to that content. The current version of LOCKSS software is restricted to electronic journals. Accuracy and completeness of LOCKSS caches are assured through a peer-to-peer polling and reputation system (operated through LCAP, LOCKSS' communication protocol), which is both robust and secure. LOCKSS replicas cooperate to detect and repair preservation failures. LOCKSS is designed to run on inexpensive hardware and to require almost no technical administration. The software has been under development since 1999 and is distributed as open source."

WIPO declared April 26 World Intellectual Property Day. Quoting the public statement by WIPO director general, Kamil Idris: "[R]espect for intellectual property rights is of benefit not only to creators but to society as a whole." There's a kernel of truth in this, but Idris has put it in WIPO's characteristically incomplete and one-sided form. He should have added, "Fair use, limited terms, first sale, and the public domain are of benefit not only to readers and consumers, but also to creators and to society as a whole."

The U.S. National Academies have launched a free electronic newsletter, IP@TheNationalAcademies. The quarterly will focus on IP-related events, reports, and projects at the National Academies, four of the most FOS-friendly of the U.S. federal agencies. Users may subscribe online.

The papers from last year's workshop, Freedom of the Media and the Internet (Vienna, November 30, 2002), have been collected into a free online book, From Quill to Cursor: Freedom of the Media in the Digital Era.

The presentations from the recent ALPSP seminar, Who pays for the free lunch? Alternative funding models for research communication (London, April 4). are now online. (Thanks to Colin Steele.)

Monday, April 28, 2003

Nancy Kranich has just released an excellent report, Special Projects on The Information Commons. Excerpt: "The technology that enables unfettered access is just as capable of restricting personal information choices and the free flow of ideas. The dream of a high-tech society is now threatened by the perils of a highly controlled society. To protect our most precious right in a democratic society - the right of free speech and inquiry - we must develop a more balanced public policy. The information commons is a crucial part of this quest to preserve free expression in the digital age." She closes the report with this wonderful quotation from James Madison (Letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822):
A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy ... [A] people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
Nancy Kranich is a past president of the ALA and currently a Senior Research Fellow with The Free Expression Research Project.

The April 24 InfoWorld contains another story on Tim O'Reilly's vow to publish books under the copyright terms in force in 1790 when the U.S. constitution was adopted: one 14 year term with the possibility of one renewal. The effect will be that O'Reilly books by consenting authors will enter the public domain far sooner than they would under the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. (Thanks to Brian Berg.)