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David Sobel, Internet Filters and Public Libraries, First Amendment Center, October 2003. Excerpt: "Technology has made real the First Amendmentís goal of unrestricted access to the full range of information. However, as Ithiel de Sola Pool warned in his 1983 book, Technologies of Freedom, government efforts to control new electronic media must be subject to close scrutiny. While new means of communication will 'open wider the floodgates for discourse,' he wrote, 'in fear of that flood, attempts will be made to shut the gates.' While de Sola Pool appears to have been prophetic in anticipating mandatory Internet content controls, it remains to be seen whether he was also correct in his conclusion that 'as long as the First Amendment stands, backed by courts which take it seriously, the loss of liberty is not foreordained.' The Supreme Courtís recent CIPA decision casts doubt upon that assessment, but it appears likely that the final chapter on mandated content controls has not yet been written."
Here's an excerpt from a November 13 posting to PAMnet by Sarah Stevens-Rayburn on a presentation at the November 3-4 meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Publications Board in Tucson: "The really fascinating conclusion he [Greg Schwartz of the AAS editorial office] has drawn, at least from my perspective, is that ApJ [Astrophysics Journal] papers that were also on astro-ph [an OA archive, a branch of arXiv] have a citation rate that is _twice_ that of papers not on the preprint server. Moreover, this higher citation rate appears to continue once the time gap disappears (that is, papers on astro-ph are viewed about nine months ahead of the journal paper, but after several years of availability, the astro-ph papers are still being cited at a significantly higher rate)." (Thanks to Michael Kurtz and Stevan Harnad.)
James Dalziel, Open Standards Versus Open Source in E-Learning, Educause Quarterly, 4 (2003) pp. 4-7. Not on open access, but a good discussion these two kindred concepts, showing for example how priced and closed-source software can comply with open standards. In our domain, think of the ingenta version of eprints, which complies with the open OAI standard. (Thanks to Gary Price.)
Paul David, The Economic Logic of "Open Science" and the Balance between Private Property Rights and the Public Domain in Scientific Data and Information: A Primer, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, March 17, 2003. Excerpt: "[O]pen science is properly regarded as uniquely well suited to the goal of maximising the rate of growth of the stock of reliable knowledge. High access charges imposed by holders of monopoly rights in intellectual property have overall consequences for the conduct of science that are particularly damaging to programs of exploratory research....Considered at the macro-level, open science and commercially oriented R&D based upon proprietary information constitute complementary sub-systems. The public policy problem, consequently, is to keep the two sub-systems in proper balance by public funding of 'open science' research, and by checking excessive incursions of claims to private property rights over material that would otherwise remain in the public domain of scientific data and information." (Thanks to Darius Cuplinskas.)
A working group of delegates to the ninth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-9) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has endorsed open access. "On improving information management, delegates agreed to promote open access to information as considered appropriate by Parties." (PS: This looks like a snapshot of a work in progress. I'll try to follow the news and report back later.)
Kate Worlock, Open Access: A step back in time? IMI Insights, October 2003, pp. 5-7 (accessible only to subscribers). An interview with Arie Jongejan, CEO of Elsevier's Science & Technology Division. Jongejan argues that the open-access movement rests on three myths: (1) "that traditional publishing models hinder access", (2) "that open access is a free and egalitarian business model", (3) "that the current publishing process adds very little to the content being published". In addition, he argues that open-access journals would have to charge authors $3500-4000 per article to cover their costs, and that upfront processing fees compromise peer review. He confines his criticisms to open-access journals, and supports open-access preprint exchanges and archiving.
The largest science funder in Austria, the Austrian Science Fund has just signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. (Thanks to Stefan Busch.)
Anselm Kamperman Sanders and others, Strategic Use and Adaptation of Intellectual Property Rights Systems in Information and Communications Technologies-based Research. A Thematic Report from the European Commission's European Research Area. (Thanks to Joost Kircz.) It looks relevant and I'd like to say more. But in 10 attempts to load the file and scroll past page 1, it has frozen my browser (MSIE 6.0) 10 times. This is the kind of PDF file that makes you hate PDF. I hope you have better luck.
George Plosker, The Information Industry Revolution: Implications for Librarians, Information Today, November/December 2003. Reflections on a panel discussion with Gary Price and Stephen Abram at the 2003 meeting of the Special Libraries Association. Excerpt: "Based on feedback at presentations and on-site visits to well-regarded special libraries, we became increasingly concerned that professionals and researchers sincerely believe that searching the Open Web, particularly Google, is 'good enough.' Groups with degrees from excellent schools, Ph.D.s in environments that included technical R&D, and even biomedical and pharmaceutical professionals were using Google, not recognizing the significant differences in authority and quality between the Open Web and premium subscription content typically provided by the information centers/libraries....Craig Silverstein, the director of technology at Google,...recently stated that Google is now getting 250 million search requests per day! According to Searcher editor Barbara Quint, Google gets more searches in 3 days than all libraries combined globally get in 1 year. This volume and popularity have made electronic access to information ubiquitous --a good thing. What remains to be done is to inform and educate users that there is more to the content world than the Open Web." (PS: So far.)
PubMed Central has launched an About Open Access page drawing attention to the journals that provide open access to their contents through PMC. The page also announces an important new policy: "[I]n October 2003, PMC began accepting individual open access articles from journals that do not participate in PMC on a routine basis. For the specific conditions under which PMC accepts these articles, see the relevant PMC agreement (in Microsoft Word format)." The offer is open to all authors in the life sciences willing to release their work to "open access" as defined by the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing. (Thanks to George Porter.)
World-Information.Org has published its InfoPaper, an anthology of 18 short articles for delegates to next month's UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society. Each article addresses some movement or issue in the free exchange of information. I recommend the entire collection. However, it's a large (1.5 MB), slow-loading PDF without internal anchors to the separate articles. I've prepared a separate, fast-loading HTML edition of my own contribution, Open Access to Science and Scholarship.
Philipp Grätzel von Grätz, Wissenschaftliche Verlage in Bedrängnis, Telepolis, November 10, 2003. A brief survey of recent OA news, including the PLoS Biology launch, the Berlin Declaration, and the BNP Paribas report on the STM journal industry. Read the original German or Google's English translation. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)
Sam Vaknin, The Future of Online Reference (Part I, Part II), United Press International, November 11, 2003. A group interview with Patrick Spain, CEO of Alacritude (publisher of eLibrary and Encyclopedia.com), Troy Williams, founder and CEO of Questia, and Tom Panelas, Director of Corporate Communications of the Encyclopedia Britannica. The topic is how these online reference works and services compete with one another and how they compete with free or open-access alternatives. Excerpt:
[Vaknin] The long-heralded transition from free content to fee-based information may revive the fortunes of online reference vendors. But as long as the Internet -- with its 2,000,000,000 visible pages (and 5 times as many pages in its databases) -- is free, encyclopedias have little by way of a competitive advantage. Could you please comment on these statements?
The Cornell University Library is cancelling "several hundred" Elsevier journals and has explained the reasons why in a public letter. Excerpt: "We can no longer subscribe to so many Elsevier journals (including duplicates) that we no longer need. We must now free up some of the money spent on Elsevier journals to pay for journals published by other publishers that are more needed by our users. We have explained this to Elsevier in lengthy discussions, both through our research library consortium and then independently. We have tried in these discussions to broker an arrangement that would allow us to cancel some Elsevier titles without such a large price increase to the titles remaining --but Elsevier has been unwilling to accept any of our proposals. We are therefore planning to cancel several hundred Elsevier journals for 2004. The decisions on cancellations will be made on the basis of faculty input, as well as several years of statistical information on individual journal use....Once the cancellations are complete, we will list the titles on this site."
Catherine Zandonella, Open access: Will it spell the end of the medical library? Medicine on the Net, November 11, 2003. (Only the first page is accessible to non-subscribers.) Excerpt from the first page: "As if budget cuts werenít enough, librarians are buffeted by yearly price hikes for subscriptions to the scientific journals and information services that their physicians and researchers rely on most. Enter a possible savior: open access publishing. Instead of locking up scientific research in subscription-based journals, open access publishers make the articles freely available on the Internet. Anyone with a computer terminal and a phone line is free to print, copy, distribute, and reuse the article as long as they give proper attribution to the workís authors and publisher. But freedom has its price, and medical librarians could end up being the ones who pay it."
The November 8 issue of The Lancet (an Elsevier journal) contains a three-article series on open access. The three articles themselves are openly accessible.
German lawyer Thomas Stadler praises the July decision of a German court upholding the legality of deep linking. (The article is in German; for background, see my 10/9/03 blog posting.) He argues that deep linking is important for individual website authors, for ISPs, for search engines, and for research. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)
John Willinsky, The Nine Flavours of Open Access Scholarly Publishing, Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, 49, 3 (2003) pp. 263-267. A very useful survey of nine ways to provide open-access, with nine business models to match. Excerpt: "Now, the assumption here is not [that] information is, or somehow wants to be, free. Anything but. Open access begins with the fact that researchers are engaged in expensive, labour-intensive work that often employs highly sophisticated equipment, fully equipped and staffed laboratories. Researchers fly to distant archives and remote sites; they hire teams of graduate student research assistants; they devote years to studying a single body of work. Much of this work is underwritten by public institutions, government grants, and philanthropic endowments. The very extent of this largely public investment is what sets scholarly publishing apart from the more typical commercial model. The work represented in a research article has all been paid for in advance. The article arrives at the publisher's door, having already been financed, up to that point, as a public good."
Thomas Goetz, Open Source Everywhere, Wired Magazine, November 2003. Starting with open-source software, Goetz examines kindred movements across the landscape of the intellectual commons and gift culture, including a short look at the open-access movement as represented by Mike Eisen of PLoS. A brief but welcome look at open access in a wider context by a mainstream magazine.
The Ohio Library and Information Network (OhioLINK) has bought institutional memberships in BioMed Central for 84 institutions of higher education in the state of Ohio. This is the largest consortial deal for BMC in the US to date. Quoting the BMC press release: "The consortium, of Ohio's college and university libraries and the State Library of Ohio, was motivated to invest in BioMed Central membership because of current budget constraints on both their member libraries and the OhioLINK central budget. The combination of financial constraints and the continued rising costs of journal subscriptions stimulated the need to seek out alternative publishing models. Tom Sanville, Executive Director of OhioLINK, explains the commitment by OhioLINK to fund open access publishing for all 84 member institutions: 'We need economically sustainable access to quality research. We want to give our faculty the opportunity to publish through the most cost effective means possible, while simultaneously maximizing access to their research.'"
The November 6 issue of Nature is running two stories on legal troubles that might plague arXiv, the most used preprint exchange in all the fields of science and scholarsihp. The stories are accessible only to subscribers.
(1) The first (Defamation online) is an unsigned editorial noting that an article by CERN physicist Alvaro De Rújula, posted to arXiv on October 27, accuses Martin Rees, Britain's astronomer royal, of "claiming credit for other researchers' ideas". In the US, this would only be libellous if false, but in the UK it might be libellous even if true. Moreover, in the UK both the archive and the author might be liable, even though the archive does not read or approve the articles it hosts. In the OA movement, we usually distinguish archive deposits from true "publications", but any kind of exposure to third parties counts as "publication" for the purposes of defamation law. The editorial is accompanied by a short note by Jim Giles (Critical comments threaten to open libel floodgate for physics archive) reporting that arXiv founder Paul Ginsparg would remove a defamatory paper from the archive if advised by a lawyer to do so. Quoting Ginsparg: "ArXiv is just a mindless redistribution system. It's not implemented to be a global police force to detect or enforce professional ethics."
There are two letters to the editor on open access in the November 6 issue of Nature. Both are accessible only to subscribers. (1) The first is from me, responding to John Ewing's letter in the October 9 issue. Ewing argued that open-access journals exclude poor authors who cannot afford to pay their processing fees. My letter answers this objection but was edited for length. I have a longer (and openly accessible) answer to this objection in SOAN for 11/2/03. (2) The second is from Martin Dufva, from the Technical University of Denmark, arguing that we might see illegal online swapping of copyrighted scientific articles in the future, just as we now see illegal online swapping of copyrighted music. "The open-access alternative is immune to such copying activities because the articles are available free of charge."
Update (11/07). The link to my letter is now dead. Here's a new one that works (thanks to Jull Livingston).
SPARC and PLoS, two of the largest and most effective open-access advocacy organizations, have entered a partnership. Excerpt from the SPARC press release: "The alliance aims to broaden support for open-access publishing among researchers, funding agencies, societies, libraries, and academic institutions through cooperative educational and advocacy activities....'Both PLoS and SPARC recognize that open access speeds the progress of science and medicine, which is of substantial public benefit,' said Vivian Siegel, Executive Director of PLoS. 'Working together, we hope to demonstrate these benefits to scholarly publishing stakeholders on campuses, in the lab, and at funding agencies. SPARC members can make open access a reality by educating faculty about the benefits and future of open access within their campus community and at conferences they attend.'...'PLoS is a breakthrough initiative,' said SPARC Director Rick Johnson. 'It has brought enhanced credibility and a new public platform to open access publishing. PLoS has shown that if stakeholders want open access badly enough, old habits and systems can give way to new opportunities. SPARC looks forward to working with PLoS toward realignment of the way we pay for scholarly communication so that the public benefits of open access can be broadly realized.'"
Todayís Times (London) newspaper carries two short reports on open access publishing by Nigel Hawkes, the paperís Health Editor. The first covers the Cell Press dispute, and refers to a report by the French Bank BNP Paribas which estimates the income from STM journals as $8bn per annum. The second outlines the academic publishing process. It claims that for many years journal publishing was a cottage industry, until 'the late Robert Maxwell proved with Pergamon Press that scientific publishing could be lucrative'.
The WIPO Committee on Copyright and Related Rights agreed to draft a webcasting treaty by April 1 of next year. Excerpt from Declan McCullagh's story in Thursday's News.com: "Jamie Love, who works for the Ralph Nader-affiliated Consumer Project on Technology, says the treaty is worrisome because it creates an additional legal protection for works in the public domain that are Webcast. 'Say there's a film that's out of copyright and in the public domain, but it's in the vault of some movie studio,' Love said. 'If you got it from the broadcast, you're not allowed to make a copy. You have to go to the original source.' In other words, anyone viewing a Webcast of material that falls outside of copyright --such as a government-created documentary or a very old movie or audio recording-- may not be able to freely store and redistribute that content....'Broadcasters see this as a way to extend rights to noncopyrighted information,' said Love, who attended the WIPO meeting in Geneva." (PS: Like the Bono Act that retroactively extended the term of copyright, this is piracy from the public domain.)
The Erasmus University of Rotterdam (EUR) has added to its library catalog all the open-access journals from the Lund Directory of Open Access Journals, as well as the Lund Directory itself. This is a good example of how libraries can help researchers discover and use OA information. Ask your university library to do the same. (Thanks to Henk Ellermann, In Between.)
On October 31, the European Union Copyright Directive took effect in the UK through implementing legislation called the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003. In VNUNet.com, Dinah Greek analyzes how the new law will affect research. Excerpt: "It sets out new rules to protect digital rights management by bringing in draconian measures to protect anti-copying technologies. Now it is illegal to break copyright mechanisms and offenders could face unlimited fines and jail even if carrying out this task for legitimate reasons such as research. The directive has the potential to affect research into a number of technology areas. For example, an academic researcher studying cryptography methods would be unable to publish their findings if they discovered flaws in a commercially available product, if it intended to break the anti-copyright measures....Additionally, this has altered what researchers can legitimately use for publication and teaching. The older provisions on fair dealing [called "fair use" in the US] allowed researchers to make use of copyrighted material, in certain circumstances, for purposes of research or private study. Now it is likely that companies, teachers and researchers will have to obtain a licence to copy protected material." More coverage.
The UK has created an open-access national archive and adopted a new "legal deposit" law requiring UK creators of new digital content to put copies into the archive. Publishers have permission to delay deposit in order to avoid undermining the market value of their offerings, for example, of stock forecasts. Apparently some websites are also exempt because they are too ephemeral. More news coverage. (PS: Does anyone know whether any embargo periods or exceptions apply to scholarly journals?)
JISC has purchased a UK-wide license to Early English Books Online, a digital collection of 125,000 full-text books published between 1473 and 1700. (PS: To recoup its considerable costs, EEBO offers only priced access, with selected free samples. Hence, the newly funded access throughout the UK is not so much open access as subsidized toll access, analogous to what faculty and students have through their university library.)
In October, ACRL, ARL, SPARC, and SPARC Europe updated the Create Change web site and brochure, both already among the most effective tools for educating faculty and librarians about the serials crisis and the best options for overcoming it. The brochure text is free online for institutions that want to customize it for their own circumstances. Print copies are available for a low price. The web site and brochure are available in English, Japanese, and Catalan.
Maggie Jones, Archiving E-Journals Consultancy --Final Report, JISC, October 2003. When libraries license ejournals and do not own their copies, how can they be assured of long-term access to their contents? The report considers many options, including open-access journals (p. 19), LOCKSS (pp. 20-21), and eprint repositories (p. 22). The report's 13 recommendations are summarized at pp. 30-31. Excerpt: "Although there is no imminent danger of loss of content to licensed e-journals, there is an urgent need to provide a co-ordinating archiving service for the UK, which can develop in stages. Beginning with a dedicated resource to act as a central liaison between publishers and libraries, and to explore viable options for ensuring continued access to licensed content. This will provide the necessary reassurance to UK libraries that archiving of e-journals content will be followed up on their behalf, without committing potentially vast sums on establishing a UK repository."
Emerald has called for nominations for its 2004 Research Fund Awards. The Fund will "consider proposals...which are based on the objective of increasing the effectiveness of the scholarly knowledge creation and transmission process." (PS: This is less OA-friendly than it looks, and more like mitigation than generosity. The Fund is based on Emerald's copyright revenue and the awards are limited to scholars who have transferred a copyright to Emerald --i.e. it's based on the profits from raising access barriers and limited to authors who have consented. Here are three better ways to give back copyright revenue in order to support the effectiveness of knowledge creation and transmission: convert Emerald journals to open-access, let authors retain copyright, or permit them to deposit their Emerald postprints in OAI-compliant archives.)
The IMLS Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections hasn't been updated in two years. So it's good news that it will be taken over and kept up to date by NISO.
UNESCO is currently hosting a "virtual exhibition" on Building Knowledge Societies. The exhibition consists of annotated links to projects in several areas: creating knowledge, preserving knowledge, sharing knowledge, and transmitting knowledge. It includes some open-access projects, but not as many as it should, given its focus.
The UNESCO Social and Human Sciences Documentation Centre maintains a directory of open-access journals in the social sciences. It currently lists 367 journals.
Excerpt from a notice in the November 9 issue of Kerala Next: "The first on-line open access medical journal from Kerala, [the Calicut Medical Journal], launched by the Kozhikode Medical College Alumni Association a week ago, has been drawing good response from all over the world. The decision of the world-famous open access e-print archives, Cog Prints, to archive the journal has also contributed in its big success, says P V Ramachandran, Professor of Radiodiagnosis, Kozhikode Medical College who is also the editor-in-chief of the journal. On the launching day itself, the site has registered 5,000 hits....'Open access journal is the best possible method for information dissemination among medical scholars from the third world countries,' [Ramachandran] said."