Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, June 07, 2003

In a June 2 posting I said that only an abstract was freely available online for the article, Documents and the communication of scientific and scholarly information: Revising and updating the UNISIST model, by Trine Fjordback Søndergaard, Jack Andersen, and Birger Hjørland, Journal of Documentation, 59, 3 (2003) pp. 278-320. I'm happy to correct the error. Co-author Jack Andersen has put the full-text article on his web site. (Thanks to Birger Hjørland.)

Friday, June 06, 2003

The important policy briefing, Open Access: Restoring scientific communication to its rightful owners, now appears on the European Science Foundation (ESF) web site. The briefing was written for ESF, but until now researchers could only access it at a SPARC URL. (See my April 8 blog entry about the briefing's first appearance online.) Researchers citing it should use the new ESF URL.

The presentations from the BioOne Publishers and Partners Meeting (Arlington, Virginia, March 14) are now online. (Thanks to the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog.)

Charles W. Bailey Jr. has just released Version 49 of his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new version includes over 1,900 books, articles, and other resources on scholarly electronic publishing.

In the June 6 Chronicle of Higher Education, Peter Monaghan profiles the open-access Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center and describes the efforts of E. Gene Smith to collect and digitize the texts on which it is based. (Monaghan's article is only available online to CHE subscribers.) All the TBRC texts are now available on disk, with the exception of a few passages on secret rites, omitted at the request of the Tibetan caretakers of the paper originals. The digital texts are slowly moving from disks to the web, where are they are available without charge. Those who want texts not yet online may order them on disk and pay whatever they are moved to pay. Quoting Smith: "There is an uneasiness in the Tibetan tradition about selling books or images. We like to try at least to cover the cost of postage [but do not even require that]. The idea is that we just don't want to be selling back the Tibetan culture to the Tibetans."

What will college libraries will be like in 2012? This is the question posed by an essay contest sponsored by Fairleigh Dickinson University and the New Jersey Association of Colleges and Research Libraries. Scott Carlson reports on the results in the June 6 Chronicle of Higher Education (accessible online only to subscribers). James Marcum, University Librarian at Farleigh Dickenson, also wrote about the contest in the May issue of D-Lib Magazine (free online).

Stevan Harnad, Why I Believe That All UK Research Output Should Be Online, The Times Higher Education Supplement, June 6, 2003. Online access to this edition is limited to THES subscribers. However, Stevan has put two toll-free versions of the article online, one short and one long (longer than the THES version).

There's currently a good discussion thread at LibLicense on whether the Cinven and Candover purchase of BertelsmannSpringer is good for libraries and scholars (because it brings new money into the industry and will create a second giant to compete with Elsevier) or bad (because scholarly journals don't compete with one another in the ordinary way, and because the Springer-KAP merger will raise prices).

On Wednesday, the Chronicle of Higher Education hosted a live colloquy on "Academic Blogging" with Eugene Volokh, law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles and editor of the Volokh Conspiracy, an academic blog on law and politics. The colloquy transcript is now online. The transcript is accessible only to Chronicle subscribers, although the accompanying article, Scholars Who Blog, is freely accessible. Excerpt from the colloquy:
[Ken Smith, Indiana University] If, as you say, blog posts are more like op-ed pieces than traditional scholarship, and tend to promote one's scholarship rather than carry out that scholarship, in what sense are blogs academic discourse?
[Eugene Volokh] Blog posts aren't scholarly publications, so they're not academic discourse in that respect. But academic blogs are ways for academics to try to promote their academic ideas, both to people in the field (whether academics, students, or practitioners) and to people outside it; so they are academic discourse in that respect. I worry less about whether to label blogging "academic discourse," and more about what benefits blogging produces. If it benefits the writers and the readers, then it's worth doing, just as op-ed writing is worth doing.

Pravin Sathe, Freedom of the Internet, AlterNet, May 29, 2003. Among other things, restates Lessig's important point from The Future of Ideas that, as we move from dial-up to broadband, we move from a system regulated to insure freedom of content to a much less regulated system allowing ISP's to suppress content they dislike.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

The Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine at the University of Natal is using a grant from Pfizer Pharmaceuticals to build a new HIV/Aids Information Gateway. Quoting Barry Kistnasamy, Dean of the Medical School: The Gateway is an "innovative concept in line with the growth in interdisciplinary research and the changing nature of scholarly communication....Researchers and scientists will have access to the avalanche of data on HIV/Aids, thus enhancing efficiency and effectiveness in their research endeavours." Quoting Pfizer CEO John Kearney: The Gateway "will hone the ability to access, retrieve and disseminate information to scientists across the world. We are confident this will result in reducing information overload and allow researchers to conclude research more quickly and accurately...."

Peter Yu, SARS and the Patent Race, Writ, May 29, 2003. Excerpt: "In the past month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the British Columbia Cancer Agency, and the University of Hong Kong have been battling to patent the coronavirus that is believed to cause SARS. Although no institution can currently claim a monopoly on the treatments for the disease, the patenting race has sparked major concern in the public health arena. If an individual or an individual company could indeed obtain such a monopoly, the results could be disastrous."

PS: In a May 10 news story, the CDC said that its patent application was defensive only. Quoting Julie Gerberding, Director of the CDC: The Center worried that other patent holders "could potentially lock out competitors from being able to participate in the patent, or products of that patent. And so if there is going to be a patent issued, we would apply for it, so that we could ensure open access as we went forward."

The presentations from the recent conference, Electronic Theses and Dissertations Worldwide (Berlin, May 21-24), are now online. The site currently offers 47 presentation papers, organized by title and presenter. The site will soon offer Powerpoint presentations and other materials.

SPARC has announced a partnership with the open-access journal, Economics Bulletin. Quoting John Conley, professor of economics at Vanderbilt and co-founder of Economics Bulletin: "The problem as we see it is that the current business model employed by commercial publishers does more to inhibit than foster scholarly communication. Our hope is that the Economics Bulletin demonstrates that it [is] feasible to take back control of the publication process and produce high-quality, peer-reviewed journals on an open access basis within the academic community itself." For more details, see the SPARC press release.

Lauren Gelman has created a sensibly-worded petition to Congress to Reclaim the Public Domain. Add your signature today. (Thanks to LISNews.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

The Lund Directory of Open Access Journals was given the monthly Nice Web Site award by the Internet Resources Newsletter. Congratulations to the DOAJ!

David Messerschmitt has an online powerpoint presentation on Research library responses to the NSF cyber-infrastructure program. Messerschmitt is a member of the NSF Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Cyberinfrastructure. (Thanks to the Internet Resources Newsletter.)

Another story documenting that students prefer the internet to print libraries, this time from the newspaper of the University of Central Florida. Another occasion to make my usual two-sided point.

"Like parents irritated that their children aren't sharing expensive toys in a sandbox, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is encouraging scientists to be more openhanded with mouse resources they create with public funds. A draft policy that popped up on the NIH's Web site last week stops short of requiring NIH-funded researchers to share mouse strains with others, but it says failure to include a plan to do so in future research proposals may cause the shutoff of public funds to less than generous scientists." From a Peg Brickley story in today's issue of The Scientist.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Trine Fjordback Søndergaard, Jack Andersen, and Birger Hjørland, Documents and the communication of scientific and scholarly information: Revising and updating the UNISIST model, Journal of Documentation, 59, 3 (2003) pp. 278-320. Only the abstract is free online: "In 1971 UNISIST proposed a model for scientific and technical communication. This model has been widely cited and additional models have been added to the literature. There is a need to bring this model to the focus of information science (IS) research as well as to update and revise it. There are both empirical and theoretical reasons for this need. On the empirical side much has happened in the developments of electronic communication that needs to be considered. From a theoretical point of view the domain-analytic view has proposed that differences between different disciplines and domains should be emphasised. The original model only considered scientific and technical communication as a whole. There is a need both to compare with the humanities and social sciences and to regard internal differences in the sciences. There are also other reasons to reconsider and modify this model today. Offers not only a descriptive model, but also a theoretical perspective from which information systems may be understood and evaluated. In addition to this provides empirical exemplification and proposals for research initiatives."

RoMEO Studies 3: Elizabeth Gadd, Charles Oppenheim, and Steve Probets, How academics expect to use open-access research papers, a preprint submitted to the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science. Abstract: "This paper is the third in a series of studies emanating from the UK JISC-funded RoMEO Project (Rights Metadata for Open-archiving). It considers previous studies of the usage of electronic journal articles through a literature survey. It then reports on the results of a survey of 542 academic authors as to how they expected to use open-access research papers. This data is compared with results from the second of the RoMEO Studies series as to how academics wished to protect their open-access research papers. The ways in which academics expect to use open-access works (including activities, restrictions and conditions) are described. It concludes that academics-as-users do not expect to perform all the activities with open-access research papers that academics-as-authors would allow. Thus the rights metadata proposed by the RoMEO Project would appear to meet the usage requirements of most academics."

RoMEO Studies 2: Elizabeth Gadd, Charles Oppenheim, and Steve Probets, How academics want to protect their open-access research papers, forthcoming from the Journal of Information Science. Abstract: "This paper is the second in a series of studies (see Gadd, E., C. Oppenheim, and S. Probets. RoMEO Studies 1: The impact of copyright ownership on author-self-archiving. Journal of Documentation. 59(3) 243-277) emanating from the UK JISC-funded RoMEO Project (Rights Metadata for Open-archiving). It considers the protection for research papers afforded by UK copyright law, and by e-journal licences. It compares this with the protection required by academic authors for open-access research papers as discovered by the RoMEO academic author survey. The survey used the Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL) as a framework for collecting views from 542 academics as to the permissions, restrictions, and conditions they wanted to assert over their works. Responses from self-archivers and non-archivers are compared. Concludes that most academic authors are primarily interested in preserving their moral rights, and that the protection offered research papers by copyright law is way in excess of that required by most academics. It also raises concerns about the level of protection enforced by e-journal licence."

RoMEO Studies 1: Elizabeth Gadd, Charles Oppenheim, and Steve Probets, The impact of copyright ownership on academic author self-archiving, Journal of Documentation, 59, 3 (2003) pp. 243-277. Abstract: "This is the first of a series of studies emanating from the UK JISC-funded RoMEO Project (Rights Metadata for Open-archiving) which investigated the IPR issues relating to academic author self-archiving of research papers. It considers the claims for copyright ownership in research papers by universities, academics, and publishers by drawing on the literature, a survey of 542 academic authors and an analysis of 80 journal publisher copyright transfer agreements. The paper concludes that self-archiving is not best supported by copyright transfer to publishers. It recommends that universities assert their interest in copyright ownership in the long term, that academics retain rights in the short term, and that publishers consider new ways of protecting the value they add through journal publishing."

Starting with the June issue, Searcher magazine will run a series of articles on "the genesis of the first online industry, which surfaced in the late 1960s, and served primarily information scientists; documentation experts; government researchers in educational, scientific, technical and medical fields; and librarians." The article in the June issue includes reminiscences by Carlos Cuadra (of ORBIT) and Roger Summit (of Dialog) on Medline, ERIC, and their interaction with early commercial services.

Gordon Bell and Jim Gray, two scientists at Microsoft's Bay Area Research Center, have proposed less government spending on supercomputers and more on data storage. The argument is that "innovation in data-storage technology is now significantly outpacing progress in computer processing power" and that supercomputers are less necessary in the era of inexpensive Beowulf clusters of Linux boxes. The implication is that the government funds not spent on supercomputers would be spent on an open-access infrastructure for collecting, sharing, and preserving scientific data, although I haven't seen the open-access consequences spelled out anywhere yet. For other details, see John Markoff's story in today's New York Times (free registration required) and the discussion in Slashdot.

The Council of Europe has released a Declaration on Freedom of Communication on the Internet. Among other provisions, the Declaration calls on European nations not to restrict the internet more than other media, not use filters except to protect vulnerable groups, not to impose liability on ISPs for content they distribute, and to guarantee anonymous surfing. News coverage. (PS: I haven't yet found the Declaration itself online. If anyone finds the URL, please let me know.)

Sunday, June 01, 2003

The ACRL has made webcasts of the sessions of its National Conference (Charlotte, April 10-12). This includes a one hour and five minute webcast of the session, Scholarly Communication: Taking Stock, Charting Next Steps, featuring Ray English, James Neal, Jean-Claude Guedon, and David Shulenburger. However, in a very bad precedent, the ACRL has decided that access to the webcasts will not be free, even to ACRL members. Prices range from $25 for students to $160 for non-member institutions, far more than Jack Valenti would charge for admission to a Hollywood movie.

Peter Wayner writes 'Last month, I released the text of Free for All under the new Creative Commons license . About 1000 people have downloaded the book since then. That's great news and it's already had an effect on the demand for dead tree editions. The lowest asking price on Amazon's used book market has gone from $2.45 to $3.45 as people bought up the lowest priced editions. That's a jump of 40%! I'm not enough of an Enron accountant to claim that such a movement in a thin marketplace is a true example of casuality, but it's a datapoint.'