Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Some Educause presentations

Videos of some of the presentations at the Educause conference (Annaheim, November 4-7, 2003) are now online. See for example Anne Margulies speaking on MIT OpenCourseWare: A New Model for Open Sharing or Tracy Mitrano and Steven Worona on Copyright Policies: Past, Present, and Future. Unfortunately, the presentations from the panel on institutional repositories are not yet online. (Thanks to Gary Price.)

Friday, November 28, 2003

New issue of Jekyll

The September issue of Jekyll ("International Journal on Science Communication") is now online. Here are the OA-related articles.

Free online access to Japanese academic databases

Japan's National Institute of Informatics is offering non-Japanese students, scholars, and organizations free online access to two of its large academic databases (NACSIS-IR and NACSIS-ELS). The only condition is that beneficiaries must fill out a questionnaire once a year. (PS: This program was launched on July 11, 2003, but I didn't discover it today.)

Profile of PLoS

The Future of Scientific Publishing: Open Access to Scientific Research or Business as Usual? An anonymous article on PLoS and OA from the Fall 2003 issue of Focus, the newsletter of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. Excerpt: "Is the journals' ownership of copyright fair when the federal government has sponsored the research at taxpayers' expense and taxpayers must pay to access such research? A growing number of scientists are answering the foregoing question with a resounding 'no.'" Quoting Dr. Gary Ward, BWF 2001 New Investigator in Molecular Parasitology and a member of the PLoS editorial board: "Individual research programs are hampered by lack of access to published research. Most of us have experienced the frustration of knowing that a specific article that we need for our research or teaching exists but is beyond our reach."

Access barriers in Africa

While there are many opportunities for African universities to receive free or discounted electronic subscriptions to scientific journals, many universities are unaware of them or prevented from taking full advantage of them. That's the result of an INASP survey conducted by Sara Gwynn and revealed at a November 8 seminar of librarians at a meeting of the West African branch of the Standing Conference of African Universities in Accra, Ghana. (Thanks to LIS News.)

Update. Also see Katie Mantell, Africa 'needs better information about access deals', SciDev.Net, December 5, 2003.

Pitch Journal

Stephen Downes, November 27th, reports on Pitch, a new Open Access peer reviewed journal in educational research:
Now what's really interesting about Pitch is the peer review system. "Pitch uses a democratic method of peer review where all readers participate in the review process. Instead of sending submitted articles away for 12 months of secret review by three individuals, Pitch allows your peers to review your work. In Pitch everyone 'pitches in' to rate papers submitted to the journal."

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Open access in France

In a new posting to Archivalia, Klaus Graf links to several recent French-language articles and statements on open access.

Project Figaro is shutting down

Project Figaro is shutting down. It lost its EU funding after Utrecht University, a major partner, withdrew from the project. The remaining partners hope to pursue the original project goals without EU funding. Figaro was an innovative, EU-funded initiative to improve the speed and efficiency of electronic scholarly publishing. The name is an acronym (Federated Initiative of GAP and Roquade) based on the Dutch Roquade project and the German Academic Publishers (GAP), which combined to form the initiative in May 2002.

Scientists push for open access

The PLoS story is discussed in the latest online edition of Al Jazeera , one of the most popular newspaper in the arab world .The article also discusses the different perspectives of the open access publication and also includes a short note about the criticisms against this model.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Amazon takes another big step into the used-book business

Damian Reece and Charles Arthur, British Library opens a new chapter in its history: helping Amazon storm the antiquarian book market, The Independent, November 25, 2003. Amazon has licensed the records in British Library's book catalogue. In addition to records for new books, which are obtainable elsewhere, the BL catalogue contains 1.7 million records for books published before the advent of ISBN's. Amazon will use the records to create huge, efficient, online used-book market with one page per book. Potential buyers and sellers will be able to meet online to negotiate prices. (Thanks to LIS News.)

Scholar's Portal presentations

The presentations from the session on the Scholar's Portal at last summer's IFLA Meeting (Berlin, August 1-9, 2003) are now online.

JCI was open access in 1996

Ajit Varki, Open Access: The JCI has already shown it works, Nature, November 27, 2003 (accessible only to subscribers). A letter to the editor pointing out that the Journal of Clinical Investigation was free and online in 1996, long before PLoS Biology. Varki was the JCI editor at the time it converted to open access. (PS: For the record, Nature never said that PLoS Biology was the world's first open-access journal. And while JCI was a pioneer, it wasn't the first either. For the earliest OAJ's, see my timeline and let me know what I've missed.) (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)

Open access to books

Travis Hunter, Digital Library Publishes UC Books Online, Daily Nexus, November 25, 2003. The California Digital Library has added XML tags to the electronic editions of books published by the University of California Press, and is now offering 1,400 of the resulting ebooks free of charge to UC users. It offers 400+ free online to the general public, and promises to do the same for every UC ebook when it is "about two years old". Some of the books are fiction, and the rest monographs in all disciplines from the sciences to the humanities. (Thanks to LIS News.)

New LITA Legislation & Regulation Update

The November 21 issue of the LegReg NewsGram is now online. This is a thorough review of pending U.S. legislation that affects technology, libraries, free speech, privacy, the right to know, and related issues.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

National LambdaRail launches

Leander Kahney, Fast Track for Science Data, Wired News, November 17, 2003. On the launch of the first leg of the National LambdaRail, an optical, ultrafast network dedicated to scientific research. The first leg connects Chicago to Pittsburgh; the rest of the network should be activated before the end of the year. Given the size of modern research projects, from the human genome to 3D maps of universe, much larger pipes are needed to connect research centers if distributed researchers are to share data and tools. Funded by "a private consortium of universities and tech companies," the NLR is the "first step toward the kind of high-speed networks necessary to support the coming era of 'e-science.'"

High prices of conventional ejournals

Erica Youngstrom, Technology poses problems for journals, Yale Daily News, November 21, 2003. On the unexpectedly high prices of conventional electronic journals. Quoting Ann Okerson, Yale's Associate University Librarian: "Ten years ago -- everyone believed that electronic [journals] would be really cheap. I think there's a fair amount of disillusionment or disappointment that moving to [toll-access] electronic has not brought down costs or prices." The article doesn't mention the open-access alternative. (Thanks to Gary Price.)

Open content licenses under German law

Till Jaeger and Axel Metzger, Open Content --Lizenzen nach deutschem Recht, MMR, 7 (2003) pp. 431-438. Jaeger and Metzger don't specifically discuss open access, but do discuss the issues that surround OA licenses. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Digital access index

The International Telecommunications Union has produced the first Digital Access Index, ranking the world's countries by the degree of access its citizens have to computing technology and the internet.

More on Fedora v. Fedora

David Becker has a short article on the controversy in the November 21 He doesn't mention the first Fedora's open-access orientation or the irony of the second Fedora's heavyhanded use of trademark law given its own open-source orientation.

Survey on scientific publishing

The SciX Project is conducting an online survey on scientific publishing. Among other topics it covers attitudes toward open access. The results will be compared to those from a similar study three years ago. (PS: If you don't know the SciX Project, then check it out. It's an EC-funded open-access initiative focusing on business models for OA publishing, web services, and software supporting OA.)

Reuters covers OA

Patricia Reaney, Scientists Push for Open Access, Reuters, November 24, 2003. Excerpt: "Scientific publishing may never be the same again if a group of crusading researchers have their way. Just as the Internet transformed the way the public get information, the founders of the non-profit Public Library of Science (PLoS) want scientific research to be freely available to everyone....Dr Pritpal Tamber, of the London-based open access publisher BioMed Central, agrees. He argues that much of scientific research is publicly funded so it should be freely accessible to everyone."

Monday, November 24, 2003

More on the Elsevier boycott and cancellations

Jeffrey Aguero, Libraries to Cut Academic Journals, Harvard Crimson, November 24, 2003. Excerpt: "As to why journals have been targeted for reduction, Digital Acquisitions Program Librarian Ivy Anderson cited a marked increase in journal prices in recent years. 'Journal costs have been rising faster than healthcare,' said Anderson. According to Anderson, the journal industry has an inherent monopoly, as there is only one supplier of such publications as The Journal of the American Medical Association or Architectural Review, providing publishers with a captive market and a great deal of economic leverage." (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)

DOAJ update

Sara Kjellberg has sent out an update on the Lund Directory of Open Access Journals. The DOAJ now allows anyone to download all the directory records in comma-separated format. It also allows any OAI-compliant data service to harvest the directory metadata. The directory now offers a useful list of all its titles and has started work on Phase 2 of its construction, in which it will offer full-text searching of articles, not just searching of information about participating journals.

More on the Elsevier boycott and cancellations

Jennifer Murphy, Library struggles to fund access, Daily Bruin, November 17, 2003. Excerpt: "It costs the [University of California] millions of dollars a year about 50 percent of the UC's online materials budget to access the journals published by Elsevier, which provides access to over 1,100 online journals. But the cost of Elsevier journals does not match their use, said Biomedical Reference Librarian Janice Contini. Elsevier journals only comprise about a quarter of UC systemwide online journal usage, Cortini said." (Thanks to LIS News.)

Creeping copyright extremism

Jason Mazzone, Too Quick to Copyright, LegalTimes, November 17, 2003. On the tendency of corporations to claim copyrights on content in the public domain and to deny legitimate fair-use claims. Excerpt: "Congress should amend the Copyright Act to make actionable false claims to copyright in the same way that consumers may sue businesses for false advertising [PS: or better, in the same way that publishers may sue users for infringement]....If corporations with their teams of lawyers cannot distinguish between what is protected and what is free for public use, we can hardly expect teen-agers with their laptops to play by the rules."

When URLs die

Rick Weiss, On the Web, Research Work Proves Ephemeral, Washington Post, November 24, 2003. On another aspect of the preservation problem: that over time, many URLs die even when the target content is still on the web at another location. Based on the research of Robert Dellavalle, the article points to the Internet Archive and DOI-based persistent URLs as potential solutions. Excerpt: "A hodgepodge of other retrieval systems is cropping up, as well -- all part of the increasingly desperate effort to keep the ballooning Web's thoughts accessible. If it all sounds complicated, it is. But consider the stakes: The Web contains unfathomably more information than did the Alexandria library. If our culture ends up unable to retrieve and use that information, then all that knowledge will, in effect, have gone up in smoke." (Thanks to Jack Suber.)