Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Jan Velterop, "To be useful, it must be open," Research Information, Spring 2003, pp. 10-11. A succinct statement of the case for open access and the BioMed Central business model for supporting it --in a print journal with no online access to articles even for subscribers. Excerpts:
Wide dissemination and visibility are the most important things for scientists. They would be happy for their articles to be photocopied or attached to e-mails and brought to the attention of everyone interested. Restriction of circulation is the last thing they want.

The problem lies in the traditional business models used. Nobody would deny that science publishing costs money. Publishers have to recoup their investments, so they impost artificial scarcity on the material they publish by forbidding unauthorised further dissemination. They use copyright to enforce that scarcity, even though it is not in the interest of the articles' authors. Not in science, at least.[...]

At BioMed Central we expect the research establishments, universities, and research centres, to foot the bill. They pay for research communication now in any case by forking out large sums for subscriptions and licenses. What we offer them is the opportunty to have articles peer reviewed and published for an amount to be paid by them, on behalf of the author, in advance, at the input side of the publishing process. We then set the article free from any constraints as to its distribution or use, thus doing justice to the real requirements of scientific research literature.

Jan Velterop is the publisher of BioMed Central.

On May 6, Peter Suber mentioned his response to misunderstandings by readers of a BMJ editorial defending open access. I've (somewhat belatedly) added a response about the BOAI.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Nancy Kranich, The Impact of the USA PATRIOT Act on Free Expression. From the Free Expression Policy Project. (Thanks to Terry Foreman.)

Alan Kotok has written a report on the sixth annual Open Forum on Metadata Registries (Sante Fe, January 20-24, 2003).

More on piracy from the public domain....A new bill before the Canadian Parliament would give a 20 year retroactive copyright term extension to a certain category of posthumously published work. The bill may be named the Lucy Maud Montgomery Copyright Term Extension Act, because Montgomery's unpublished diaries are among the works to be affected by the bill. (Montgomery is the author of the Ann of Green Gables novels.) A draft of the bill was open for public comment until March 7 of this year. (Thanks to BNA's Internet Law News.)

The May issue of First Monday is now online. It is devoted to selected papers from the Fourth Annual Conference on Libraries and Museums in the Digital World (February 26-28, 2003).

Paul Walfield has written a jeremiad against the ALA for fighting the Patriot Act. He argues that defending civil liberties is a mark of disloyalty, but proves only that he's loyal to a different country than the rest of us. (Thanks to LIS News.)

The papers from the Duke Law School conference on the public domain (November 9-11, 2001) have now been published in a special issue of Law and Contemporary Problems (Winter/Spring 2003). The papers are also available at the conference site.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Last month, the Royal Society released an important report, Keeping science open: the effects of intellectual property policy on the conduct of science. Excerpts: "Intellectual property rights (IPRs) can stimulate innovation by protecting creative work and investment, and by encouraging the ordered exploitation of scientific discoveries for the good of society. Although IPRs can aid the conversion of good science to tangible benefits, the fact that they are monopolies can cause a tension between private profit and public good. Not least, they can hinder the free exchange of ideas and information on which science thrives....Advances of technology and commercial forces have led to new IP legislation and case law that unreasonably and unnecessarily restrict freedom to access and to use information. This restriction of the commons in the main IP areas of patents, copyright and database right has changed the balance of rights and hampers scientific endeavour. In the interests of society, that balance must be rectified." (Thanks to the Internet Resources Newsletter.)

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

More on the fate of ERIC....The ALA and ACRL have posted their comments on the Departament of Education's plan for ERIC. The DOE's deadline for public comments is May 9.

Open Education (a grassroots organization advocating for open educational content) recently interviewed Professor Lawrence Lessig. These days, Lessig is shifting his attention away from the court and towards educating the public: "Losing in the court means that we have to do a lot more in the public space. We have to do a lot more work in convincing people of the importance of this."

Today's Fox News has a story on library resistance to the Patriot Act and the prospects for Rep. Bernie Sanders' Freedom to Read Protection Act.

A "viewpoint" commentary of mine is now openly accessible online. The citation is: Till JE, Success Factors for Open Access, Journal of Medical Internet Research 2003;5(1):e1. An example of an "incentive model" for fostering open access is proposed, where an agency or foundation that provides peer-reviewed grants-in-aid to researchers establishes an e-print archive.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Linda Watson, Ivan Login, and Jeffrey Burns, Exploring new ways of publishing: a library-faculty partnership, Journal of the Medical Library Association, 91, 2 (April 2003) pp. 245–247. A case study from the University of Virginia's Claude Moore Health Sciences Library (CMHSL) to educate faculty about the advantages of submitting their research papers to open-access journals, like those from BioMed Central, and having them archived in open-access archives, like PubMed Central. This is the first detailed case study of its kind that I've seen, describing both librarian strategies and faculty reactions. Congratulations to the CMHSL librarians for their initiative and vision!

Sandra De Groote and Josephine Dorsch, Measuring use patterns of online journals and databases, Journal of the Medical Library Association, 91, 2 (April 2003) pp. 231–241. From the abstract: "Users prefer online resources to print, and many choose to access these online resources remotely. Convenience and full-text availability appear to play roles in selecting online resources. The findings of this study suggest that databases without links to full text and online journal collections without links from bibliographic databases will have lower use. These findings have implications for collection development, promotion of library resources, and end-user training." (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

Dennis Brunning interviews Herbert Van de Sompel on OpenURL and SFX in The Charleston Advisor for April 2003. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

The reader responses to Saturday's BMJ editorial defending open access generally repeat familiar misunderstandings. They make depressing but required reading to see what open access is up against. I just did my part to answer some of them.

Monday, May 05, 2003

More on the Ohio bill that would bar some state-subsidized free information....Barbara Quint sounds the alarm in the May 5 Information Today.

Tony Delamothe, Fiona Godlee, and Richard Smith, Scientific literature's open sesame? BMJ, 326 (May 3, 2003) pp. 945-946. An important editorial from an important journal, advocating open access. Excerpts:
How could you make the results of the world's original biomedical research freely available to anyone who wanted them? This question remained hypothetical until the arrival of the world wide web, which allows distribution of material at only a fraction of the cost of distribution on paper. But publishing peer reviewed original research has some costs that the internet cannot magic away. Recently, a way to meet those costs has become clear. The goal of original research being free to everybody everywhere could be very close. [...]
This could be remedied if funding bodies earmarked just a few per cent of their research grants to cover article processing charges, recognising the costs of dissemination as a legitimate component of the total costs of research....Funders could go one step further and make open access publication a condition of funding. [...]
Surprisingly, another obstacle to the acceptance of the new model is likely to be academic institutions. While sharing the funding agencies' goal of achieving the widest possible dissemination of research findings, their reliance on journal impact factors as a surrogate for the quality of research protects the status quo.
The online editorial links to a growing list of reader responses.

More on the threat to ERIC....There is a new site for activists working to save ERIC, appropriately called SAVE ERIC. It's anonymous but seems to be the work of Robert M. Hayes, Professor Emeritus at UCLA, and Principal Investigator of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Clearinghouse on Entrepreneurship Education. (Thanks to InfoBits.)

Robert N. Diotalevi, An Education in ©opyright Law: A Primer for Cyberspace, Libres, March 2003. A thorough and detailed primar for academics, covering everything from the basic rules to the complexity of fair use and recent changes created by the DMCA and TEACH Act.

The May 1, 2003 edition of Marian Dworaczek's Subject Index to Literature on Electronic Sources of Information is now online.