Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, August 16, 2003

More on open access to data....In an August 12 op-ed piece in the NY Times, What You Do Know Can't Hurt You, Richard Friedman argues that drug companies routinely conceal studies showing adverse effects of their products. In his conclusion he calls for open access to the data generated by drug trials: "Public confidence in the safety and efficacy of S.S.R.I.'s, like all drugs, can be built only on full and representative disclosure of clinical research. To that end, the F.D.A. should publish on its Web site the results of all studies sponsored by drug companies. And for their part, drug companies should be required in their advertisements to list the number of trials that they conducted and published for each and every drug. These advertisements should also tell people how they can find the complete studies. For too long, drug companies have been allowed to tell us only the good news about their products. Now we're ready for the whole story." (Thanks to Ned Beach.)

Shelby Sanett, The Cost to Preserve Authentic Electronic Records in Perpetuity, RLG DigiNews, August 15, 2003.

Friday, August 15, 2003

The JORUM+ Project is creating an open-access archive for reusable learning objects. As part of the job, it has written a questionnaire "to identify members of the UK FE and HE community willing to take part in focus groups and interviews". All who fill out the questionnaire before September 29 will be entered in a drawing for a £20 Amazon voucher.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

In response to my posting yesterday on W. Wayt Gibbs' story in the September Scientific American, I got emails from two readers pointing out that many libraries demand, and get, access privileges for "walk-in" patrons. I know that's true and even Gibbs says so. However, Gibbs cites Deborah Lordi Silverman, journal manager at the University of Pittsburgh’s medical library, who says that libraries winning this concession from publishers are the exception. Gibbs also reports that many libraries deny walk-in patrons passwords to computers connected to licensed databases. Although these are library decisions, Gibbs points out that they are often forced by publishers' licensing terms. (PS: Does anyone have good data on whether libraries that have negotiated walk-in access to licensed content are the minority or the majority? What about libraries granting walk-ins passwords to networked computers? Does anyone know whether these two kinds of walk-in access are increasing or decreasing?)

The August 8 issue of Outsell's e-briefs (accessible only to subscribers) reports that drug companies are complaining that journals are too expensive. Excerpt: "Content buyers in the pharmaceutical industry, which is often criticized for its own pricing policies, are experiencing a taste of that same medicine. Frustrated information professionals are railing against huge price increases on industry listservs and discussion groups. In one example, the American Medical Association increased the price of a customer's global e-journals license by 900%. An irony is that many of those same publishers also earn substantial advertising revenue from the pharmaceutical companies that are now being hit with price increases."

An unsigned editorial in the Las Vegas Review Journal endorses open access, PLoS, and the Sabo bill. Excerpt: "Tax-funded research should be available to those who paid for it....Copyright and other intellectual property rights are also important, of course. But the underlying idea was to make scientific findings readily available -- not to sell monopoly rights for tax-funded research to profit-making companies which then, in effect, ration and limit their accessibility to the very taxpayers who funded the work. It's a new, electronic era. It's past time for the world of scientific publishing to catch up."

Carey Goldberg, Scientists seek open access to medical research, Boston Globe, August 14, 2003. A good story on open access, PLoS, the Sabo bill, and the resistance they face. Excerpt: "The open access battle taps into longstanding frustration among scientists, many of whom feel that they do all the work of the research, but then it is the journals that make money from it. As Patrick Brown, another scientist leading the open-access movement, put it, 'They're given publicly funded free stuff to own and control and make money off of.'" Quoting Alan Leshner, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, publisher of Science: "The notion of trying to increase access is a good one. [Nonprofit publishers are thinking,] 'Gee, I wonder if that will work. Just don't force me into it before we've tested it.' They have a hypothesis, so they should test the hypothesis, and if it works, it will become our theory, too."

Remember the July 7 public letter to WIPO asking it to organize a meeting in 2004 on open source, open access, and other "open and collaborative projects to create public goods"? (Disclosure: I was one of the letter's signatories.) The purpose of the meeting would be to find ways in which IP rules can assist, rather than retard, these beneficial projects. On July 10, WIPO Assistant Director General and Legal Counsel Francis Gurry published a gracious statement in Nature accepting the suggestion: "The use of open and collaborative development models for research and innovation is a very important and interesting development, especially in areas where technology approaches the domain of basic science and scientific discovery. The Director General of WIPO looks forward with enthusiam to taking up the invitation to organise a conference to explore the scope and application of these models as vehicles for encouraging innovation." But that was before Microsoft and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) made their wishes known. Jamie Love of the CPT, who organized the initial public letter, now reports that Microsoft and the USPTO have asked WIPO to reverse its July 10 decision and call off the meeting. According to Love, Gurry has said that WIPO is now "unlikely" to hold the meeting and that "The last thing WIPO wants to do is buy into a trade dispute." I'll keep you posted on further developments.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

W. Wayt Gibbs, Public Not Welcome: Libraries cut off access to scientific literature, Scientific American, August 11, 2003. Only the first two paragraphs are free online. Gibbs reports on the harmful consequences of two intersecting trends: (1) libraries are increasingly cancelling print versions of journals and paying only for online access and (2) journal licenses increasingly prohibit access to "walk in" patrons who are not employees or registered students of the subscribing institution. One result is that unaffiliated scholars and the general public have rapidly shrinking access to scientific and scholarly journal literature. Gibbs points to open access --in the form of the Public Library of Science, the Sabo bill, and institutional repositories-- as remedies. (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)

In a press release issued on August 13, the open-access Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) and the Society for the Internet in Medicine (SIM) announced an agreement to designate JMIR as the official journal of the Society for the Internet in Medicine. JMIR will replace Taylor & Francis' subscription-based journal Medical Informatics & The Internet in Medicine as the official journal of SIM.

Also, starting in August 2003, JMIR will be experimenting with a new fast-track model, where peer-reviewers are paid to deliver high-quality and speedy peer-review reports. All reviewers for JMIR are named when the paper is published, whether fast-tracked or not. For fast-tracked papers, JMIR will guarantee an editorial decision within 2 weeks after submission, and publication of the article within 4 weeks after acceptance. The fast-track fee (FTF) is US$ 150, non-reimbursable and payable before submission. For those papers that are accepted for publication, the regular article-processing fee (APF) of US$500 will be charged to cover copyediting and publishing costs. The APF will be in addition to the FTF, if the FTF has already been paid. (Disclosure: I've recently become a member of the editorial board of JMIR).

On August 12, the GPO and National Archives agreed on a plan to provide permanent online public access to more than 250,000 government documents. Quoting the U.S. Public Printer Bruce James: "GPO is committed to providing permanent public access to the online versions of the most important Government publications. That is why we are honored that NARA has recognized our commitment to making this information available today and to preserving it for future generations by making us an archival affiliate." (Thanks to LIS News.)

The August issue of DigiCULT.Info is now online. In addition to its usual, thorough coverage of the preservation of digital culture, this issue features a detailed story on the rescue of the BBC Domesday Project, which technological obsolescence had made unreadable less than 20 years after its creation. (I've linked to the low-res, 500k edition, but there is also a high-res, 3.5 MB edition.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

DSpace has launched a new discussion list, dspace-general, for "non-technical issues such as policies and services associated with DSpace". The new list complements dpace-tech, "a forum for implementors of DSpace to ask questions and discuss topics of a technical nature".

The September issue of Wired Magazine has a story on MIT's OpenCourseWare project. Until August 26, you'll have to read it in the print magazine. After that it will be freely available on the magazine's web site. Excerpt: "When MIT announced to the world in April 2001 that it would be posting the content of some 2,000 classes on the Web, it hoped the program --dubbed OpenCourseWare-- would spur a worldwide movement among educators to share knowledge and improve teaching methods. No institution of higher learning had ever proposed anything as revolutionary, or as daunting. MIT would make everything, from video lectures and class notes to tests and course outlines, available to any joker with a browser. The academic world was shocked by MIT's audacity --and skeptical of the experiment. At a time when most enterprises were racing to profit from the Internet and universities were peddling every conceivable variant of distance learning, here was the pinnacle of technology and science education ready to give it away. Not the degrees, which cost about $41,000 a year, but the content. No registration required."

Four papers commissioned by the Australian government to offer an independent analysis of its 2001 copyright reforms have now been released by the law firm that wrote them. The four papers address (1) libraries, archives, and educational copying, (2) liability of carriers, (3) DRM and its circumvention, and (4) rights and technology issues.

An unsigned editorial in the August 11 Pro-Physik presents open access as the solution to the serials pricing crisis. Read the original German or Google's English. The editorial presents GAP (German Academic Publishers) as a home-grown model, and BMC as a model from abroad. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

More on the halt of UCITA....Carol Ebbinghouse reports the story in today's Information Today, focusing on the response of librarians and consumers. Quoting Jean Braucher, law professor at the University of Arizona: "It is heartening to see NCCUSL backing away from a very flawed statute, but it will never be able to write sound law for the information economy until it takes to heart the criticisms of the user sector. The debate is not just 'politics.' There are fundamental policy problems with UCITA."

Monday, August 11, 2003

The Public Library of Science seems to be on track in its effort to attract important papers to its forthcoming open-access journals. One article in its queue --on new treatments for malaria-- is profiled in today's New York Times (free registration required).

The Charleston Advisor has given out its Third Annual Reader's Choice Awards. The Best New Product is èrudit, the University of Montreal's institutional repository, and the Most Improved Product is BioMed Central. Congratulations to Montreal and BMC! Congratulations as well to Ann Okerson for winning the one-time Five Star Award "for contributions to the library community in the licensing of digital content". Ann moderates the LibLicense discussion list. Reed Elsevier customer service won the Best Lemon Award.

Today's Tehran Times reports that Iran's Pasteur Institute has launched the world's largest digital library of biomedical literature. The library contains about 5 million documents, totalling 60 million pages. The documents are a mix of Iranian publications and texts from the general internet. (Thanks to LIS News.)

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Help me redesign this blog. It's about time, I know. I'm ready and I could use your help.

Edward Iglesias, Open Source Culture, a paper presented at the ACRL annual conference in April. A good review of the rise of free and open source software, trying to draw out its implications for libraries. Excerpt: "It is not news to anyone that subscription costs to journals have skyrocketed. This is largely due to the fact that journals are starting to market their products like the computer industry does licenses. In this way publishers control not only content, but, what may be done with that content once the user has it. This is an inevitable trend in the same way that the RIAA now makes their products unusable in any form except the one they dictate. Librarians and faculty have already started reacting to this hostile trend that threatens the very content we depend on to survive. New initiatives such as SPARC are forging alternatives to current journals with their exorbitant prices. Already places like Los Almos National Laboratories publish their field’s findings first and foremost in electronic form. Ever since 1990 when the Journal of Postmodern Culture became the first scholarly journal to be available in only electronic form the changes have been coming." (Thanks to Gary Price.)