Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, September 27, 2003

More on the Cathy Davidson article

Brian Weatherson has blogged some thoughts on Cathy Davidson's article on the scholarly publishing crisis in the humanities, along with links to other scholar-bloggers on the same subject. (Thanks to Darius Cuplinskas.)


Quoting Beatriz Busaniche of the University of Buenos Aires on the frustrations of hammering out an acceptable statement of principles at PrepCom3 for the World Summit on the Information Society: The Civil Society group "will insist that the proposal of the WSIS includes our priorities, such as development and justice for the South, human rights, gender equity, community media, education, public goods, free software and open access to scientific and technological information." The same view is strongly stated in a September 26 press release from the Civil Society group.

More on the database bill

William Wulf's Congressional testimony against the bill is now online. Wulf is the president of the National Academy of Engineering and testified on behalf of all the National Academies as well as the AAU, the ALA, and the ARL. Wulf defended seven principles, among them that "factual information" must remain in the public domain and that "[n]ew protection regimes should not create any doubt or controversy about the lawfulness of traditional and customary access to and use of factual information for not-for-profit science, research, and education." (Thanks to Lloyd Davidson.)

Oxford retreat presentations

The presentations from the Oxford University retreat, Authors to Readers: Who Are We Serving? How? and How Well? (July 24-26, 2003) are now online. The retreat theme was, "What is the likely shape of the library of the future? And how do we build collections for it?"

Friday, September 26, 2003

NEJM v. Pat Brown

Declan Butler, Open-access row leads paper to shed authors, Nature, 425, 334 (25 September 2003) p. 334. Accessible only to subscribers (free online excerpts). Butler details the dispute between the New England Journal of Medicine and PLoS co-founder and Stanford biochemist Pat Brown. NEJM refused to use the PLoS open-access license to publish an accepted paper co-authored by Brown. When Brown asked to have his name removed from the paper in protest, NEJM first refused to publish the paper at all and then reconsidered. In its public explanation, NEJM pretends that its responses to Brown were forced by copyright law.

Chronicle colloquy on scholarly publishing

Cathy Davidson, Understanding the Economic Burden of Scholarly Publishing, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 3, 2003. On the publishing crisis in the social sciences and humanities, which differs in interesting ways from that in the STM fields. Excerpt: "A sampling of essays written on this topic over the last three or four years makes it abundantly clear that what we do not need is more diagnoses of the problem. We've had lots of those: The problem is we have tied tenure to the publication of the book. No, journals are in trouble, too. It's the scholarly monograph itself. Or curtailed library budgets for humanities books. Price-gouging by commercial publishers of science journals, forcing libraries to spend less money on humanities and social-science publications...."

On October 2 at 1:00 pm ET, Davidson will participate in an online colloquy on the issues raised by her article. The colloquy, unlike the article, is accessible only to Chronicle subscribers. Users may submit questions ahead of time if they like. Here's how Chronicle describes the topic: "University presses are facing severe financial constraints. The cost of scientific journals keeps rising, making it more and more difficult for libraries to buy books and journals in the humanities and social sciences. Junior faculty members need to publish books to be promoted, but they can't find publishers for monographs. Professional organizations have begun to call on their members to tackle what they call the looming 'crisis in scholarly publishing.' What is to be done to deal with that crisis?" Cathy Davidson is the vice provost for interdisciplinary studies and a professor of English at Duke University.

Cool interface to digital museum

What's the state of the art for an inviting, enjoyable, intuitive, useful and simply cool interface to digital museum exhibits? My vote goes to History Wired, an experimental tour of exhibits at the National Museum of American History, a branch of the Smithsonian Institution. (Thanks to LIS News.) (PS: Imagine this sort of interface to scientific images, data sets, software, tools, even texts.)

Giving alums and the public what students have

Clifford Lynch, Life after Graduation Day: Beyond the Academy's Digital Walls, EduCause Review, Sept/Oct 2003, pp. 12-13. On growing alumni demands for access to the rich array of resources they had as students. Lynch recognizes that OA will solve this problem, but only for the OA content. The solution for non-OA content will depend in part on studies showing the demand or market for this content outside the academy and the degree of access to it from public libraries and other sources --studies that have not yet been done. (PS: Let me add another study to the list: how many students appreciate what their schools have made available to them beyond the public internet, and how many wake up to this only after they graduate?)

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Email access to Bailey's blog

Charles W. Bailey, Jr. maintains the indispensable Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog. He just made it even more useful by offering email subscriptions to the weekly updates.

More on the database bill

The database bill faced skepticism at Tuesday's hearing before two House Subcommittees. Members from both parties asked whether it was really necessary and whether it was compatible with the First Amendment. See the accounts in Network World Fusion and the Chronicle of Higher Education (free online excerpt). The bill is officially named the "Database and Collections of Information Misappropriations Act", but has not yet been officially introduced.

Survey on legal deposit in Europe

On July 16, The European Library released its Report on current practices among publishers regarding the deposit of digital publications. The report summarizes the results of a TEL survey of European publishers on legally mandated deposit of electronic publications into designated libraries (not eprint archiving by authors).

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Open-access scientific movies

The NSF has given a grant to Rutgers, the University of Washington, and Georgia Institute of Technology to develop Moving Image Collections, an open-access database of science-related moving images. Next year, the database moves to its permanent location at the Library of Congress. For more information, see the press release and Nancy Cohen's story in the September 19 issue of Open.

Calicut Medical College Alumni Association announces its Open Access Medical Journal

The Calicut Medical Journal .The Calicut Medical College Alumni Association, one of the strongest Medical School Alumni Associations in India has announced that it would publish an open access Medical Journal.The Journal would be the second Online Open Access Medical Journal from India[after OJHAS ]. It is envisaged to become the premier Open Access Biomedical Journal. Inaugural issue debuts October 2003.It seems that Indians are all set to capitalise on the Open Access oppurtunity.It should be a role model for journals from the developing world to join the bandwagon and reap maximum benefits of the new wave.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Free Nature guide to scientific conferences

Nature has launched NatureEvents, a multidisciplinary, open-access database of scientific "conferences, meetings, courses, symposia, fora and programs" --and their proceedings and presentations.

More on the Lucy Maud Montgomery bill

Canadian MP Chuck Strahl is trying to block an attempt to extend the term of Canadian copyrights. He has introduced a motion to delete the term-extension language (popularly called the Lucy Maud Montgomery provision) from the larger library and archive legislation in which it is embedded.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Library law news


OCLC owns the trademark to the Dewey Decimal System and charges libraries $500/year to use it. OCLC is suing New York's Library Hotel for organizing its 10 floors to correspond to the 10 Dewey categories and stocking individual rooms with books reflecting that category. OCLC seeks three times its own damages or three times the hotel's profits, whichever is greater. OCLC lawyer Joseph Dreitler said with a straight face that visitors to the hotel web site "would think [the hotel managers] were passing themselves off as connected with the owner of the Dewey Decimal Classification system." No, sir, no more than we think other hotel owners are passing themselves off as connected to the owner of the natural numbers. Also see the Slashdot discussion.

$100 million open-access brain atlas

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has donated $100 million to create the open-access Allen Brain Atlas. Quoting the press release: "Through a collection of gene expression maps, brain circuitry and cell location, the Atlas will illustrate the functional anatomy of the brain. Building a publicly-accessible research tool that overlays structural imagery of the brain with specific details about the locations and functions of active genes will be carried out on an unprecedented scale, representing an immense advance in brain science." More press coverage. (PS: This is clearly the most expensive open-access development project ever launched and funded. Kudos to Paul Allen, not only for funding a project that no other funder could handle, but for realizing that the resulting knowledge will be more useful when openly shared than when locked up and metered for paying customers.)

New issue of OAN

The September 22 issue of Open Access Now is now online. This issue features an interview with the editors of PLoS Biology, a profile of the Lund Directory of Open Access Journals, and a news story on the struggle between copyright and open access at Antbase and AntWeb.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

First year of public access to EU documents

A September 9 report from the European Parliament examines the EU's first year under the policy of public access to government documents. It finds that the public has access to 68% of Commission documents, 89.1% of Council documents, and 98.7% of Parliament documents. The report also criticizes a handful of practices that hinder public access to government documents --such as not disclosing how national delegations voted, not recording meetings on anti-terrorism measures, and not uniting the many online repositories of government documents. (Thanks to QuickLinks.)

Internet censorship rising

On September 19, Privacy International and the GreenNet Education Trust released their report, Silenced: an international report on censorship and control of the Internet. Among the report's major conclusions are (1) that internet censorship is commonplace around the world, and increasing, (2) that the 9/11 attacks have been used to justify restrictions previously rejected, (3) that censorship in developing nations is implemented by technologies developed and sold by the Western democracies, and (4) that corporations will soon surpass governments as threats to internet freedoms.

Old news I should have discovered earlier

On July 15, the EU started soliciting bids to write a report to be entitled, The Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication Markets in Europe. Excerpt from the tender: "The general purpose of the study is to provide an analysis of the recent economic and technical evolutions of the scientific publication markets in Europe and their implications on the different actors and stakeholders, including users. The study should notably answer the following questions: What are the main changes? What and who is driving change and why? If their [sic] is any resistance to positive change what/who is blocking? What are the consequences for the users (in its broad meaning: authors, readers, libraries)? The study should also identify possible actions that could at European level contribute to increase the diversity and quality of scientific publications, while guaranteeing better conditions of access, exchange, dissemination and archiving. In this context it will in particular examine whether, and in which circumstances, an EU directory of scientific publication could, by increasing the visibility and use of publication channels, be useful." Bids are due by September 25 --next Thursday.

Data sharing in anatomy

Douglas Steinberg, Anatomy Goes Digital, The Scientist, September 22, 2003. Why digitizing and sharing anatomical data is difficult, and what progress is being made to do so. Excerpt: "One difficulty plaguing all computer-based efforts to describe model organisms has been many researchers' reluctance to share data. This problem is 'slowly being resolved,' Koslow contends, because 'people are understanding why it's important to do [that].' Yet he acknowledges that few rewards exist for sharing data or analyzing other investigators' data, and ethical guidelines for sharing are still under discussion.* Another hindrance, says Hall, is that contributing to model-organism Web sites is 'not an accepted way to get recognition' professionally, even though many sites name their contributors. He describes the act of providing data as still 'very much altruistic.'"

* Here Steinberg cites Daniel Gardner et al., Towards Effective and Rewarding Data Sharing (Neuroinformatics, 1, 3, 2003), which is freely available online for users willing to register. When looking for this article online, I found that Neuroinformatics has also produced a very useful bibliography of its Data Sharing Publications and Reports, which is freely available even without registration.

DOAJ counter

The Lund Directory of Open Access Journals has added a counter to the front page. When I visited just now, it listed 529 journals in the directory. (Thanks to Darius Cuplinskas.)