Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, June 19, 2003

David Reilly has an article on the financial health of Wolters Kluwer in today's Wall Street Journal. The article is not free online, but here's an excerpt. "[I]n Europe -- where Wolters is the dominant publisher of tax and legal information -- the company's growth is being stifled because 'in many countries, legal and fiscal information is being made free on the Internet,' said Maurits Heldring, an analyst with Kempen in the Netherlands, which has a neutral rating on the stock. 'That's a threat they may have underestimated and so far they don't have the real answer to counter that threat.'"

NISO has announced version 1.0 of the OpenURL Framework for Context-Sensitive Services. Version 1.0 will be used in a trial period starting now and ending November 1. To download the standard or offer comments on it during the trial period, see the NISO OpenURL web site.

LibLicense currently has a good discussion thread on library cataloguing of open-access journals.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Christoph Droesser interviews Harold Varmus on the Public Library of Science in today's Die Zeit. Read the original German or Google's English. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

In the June 9 Jamaica Observer, Steven Jackson gives a progress report on Jamaica's Access to Information Act, which requires open access to government records and full implementation of Phase One by October 1 of this year. (Thanks to LIS News.)

More on Madey v. Duke....After losing in federal Circuit Court court last October, Duke University appealed to the Supreme Court, supported by amicus briefs from the American Council on Education, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and 29 American colleges and universities. The Supreme Court hasn't yet decided whether to grant cert (accept the case for review), but on April 7 it did order Theodore Olson, U.S. Solicitor General, to submit a brief in the case. (More.) Olson submitted his brief in May. It opposes Duke and supports the Circuit Court's ominous ruling that the "experimental use" doctrine in patent law (a defense against infringement) does not apply to scientific experiments at research universities. I haven't found Duke's brief, but here is the pro-Duke brief by the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the pro-Duke brief by Public Knowledge and the Consumer Project on Technology.

More on open access to data....In March, the OECD Follow-up Group on Issues of Access to Publicly Funded Research Data issued its final report, Promoting Access to Public Research Data for Scientific, Economic, and Social Development. From the executive summary: "The findings and recommendations presented here are based on the central principle that publicly funded research data should be openly available to the maximum extent possible. Availability should be subject only to national security restrictions; protection of confidentiality and privacy; intellectual property rights; and time-limited exclusive use by principal investigators. Publicly funded research data are a public good, produced in the public interest. As such they should remain in the public realm. This does not preclude the subsequent commercialization of research results in patents and copyrights, or of the data themselves in databases, but it does mean that a copy of the data must be maintained and made openly accessible." For some background, see the note by Peter Arzberger and three co-authors in the July-August 2002 issue of D-Lib Magazine.

Derk Haank is resigning as CEO of Reed Elsevier's science and medical division, effective immediately, to become the CEO of Springer in early 2004.

Annalee Newitz has a supportive review of Public Library of Science in the June 16 AlterNet. In addition to telling the familiar story, she gives good detail on the motivations of Executive Director Vivian Siegel and co-founder Mike Eisen. Quoting Siegel, who left her position as Editor of Cell to join PLoS: "All the editors at Cell wanted to make our articles open-access, but [parent company] Elsevier didn't want to do it. When I pointed out that our position made me feel like I wasn't working for the benefit of the scientific community, my boss said, 'What? You think you're a scientist?' I realized I couldn't act on my principles and continue at Cell." Quoting Mike Eisen, a Berkeley biologist who wanted to write software giving genome researchers direct access to published literature on any given segment of the genome: "[T]he publishers said, 'No, it's our information.' That's when I recognized that the publishing system doesn't serve the scientific community. We couldn't build on other people's knowledge. It's a perversion of the principles of science....My research is dependent on [PLoS] succeeding." (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

JISC has bought institutional memberships in BioMed Central (BMC) for all 180 universities in the UK. The result is a major advance for open access to British biomedical research, and a major endorsement for the BMC business model.

Quoting Donald McLeod's story in today's Guardian: "In a landmark deal more than 80,000 biology and medicine researchers working at UK universities can now share their research findings freely with fellow researchers, postgraduates, students and the general public worldwide. The scheme covers 180 universities and colleges and researchers in the NHS in England. Research would be made available in freely accessible online journals, a committee of the funding councils announced today in a move which it is hoped will begin to make an impact on the staggering £76m a year that universities spend on learned journals....So the 80,000 deal by Jisc, a joint committee of the Higher Education Funding Council for England and other UK further and higher education funding bodies, with online publisher BioMed Central, is part of a wider movement by universities here and in the US to make scientific research freely available on the internet....This is the first step of many that funding bodies are taking to ensure the success of open access. For the academic and clinical research communities working in UK higher education institutions, one of the biggest hurdles to publishing in open access journals - cost - has been removed. Funding bodies are now moving to acknowledge that authors who publish in these journals are providing a service to the scientific community."

Quoting Scott Gibbens, Project Manager of the NHS Core Content Group, in the BMC press release: "This deal is really exciting for us as it gives us an opportunity to be leaders in free access electronic publishing. If someone from the NHS writes an article and publishes it in, say, The New England Journal of Medicine, our researchers then have to pay to access that article. The NHS will potentially pay many times to access research that it has funded and produced. We want our research to be freely available, to our researchers, and to everyone else."

Monday, June 16, 2003

In the June 9 issue of The Seattle Times, Mike Cassidy puffs ebrary for its policy of providing open access to literature. Ebrary provides free online access for reading, but charges for copying or printing, falling far short of true open access but still leagues ahead of most other commercial providers.

In today's issue of The Scientist, Catherine Zandonella reports that the University of California will launch open-access journals, starting this fall, using the tools and framework of its eScholarship Repository. Excerpt: "In a trend that could permanently alter the nature of scholarly publishing, several top research universities are setting up electronic superarchives to store and share their researchers' data. Some universities see these "institutional repositories" simply as a way to capture their intellectual output, but others aim to use their repositories as a means of launching open-access alternatives to conventional academic journals." In the remainder of her article she quotes some major players on the future prospects of open-access repositories, open-access journals, and priced journals.

In the June 4 Content Management Focus, Sandra Higgison shows why articles prepared with content management systems are often invisible to standard search engines. Skip to the second half of the article. (Thanks to Search Day.)

More on the GPO compromise....Miriam Drake reviews the controversy and its resolution in the June 16 Information Today.

The Council of Europe is considering a proposal requiring online media to offer a "right of reply" to anyone criticized by one of their authors. The requirement would not be limited to professional online media, but would extend to all online media, including chat rooms, discussion lists, and blogs. Declan McCullagh blasts the idea in his June 16 column, pointing out the obvious burden on blogs and online discussions, but also reminding us that a right of reply for TV stations in the U.S. did not trigger vigorous two-sided debate, but only insipid editorials that never criticized anyone for anything. Think about the consequences for scholarly journals. Assuming that scholars won't stop criticizing other thinkers and theories, will journals be willing to accommodate the right of reply? Or to avoid it, will they move back to print-only publication?