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Carl T. Bergstrom and Theodore C. Bergstrom, The costs and benefits of library site licenses to academic journals, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online, January 8, 2004. Abstract: "Scientific publishing is rapidly shifting from a paper-based system to one of predominantly electronic distribution, in which universities purchase site licenses for online access to journal contents. Will these changes necessarily benefit the scientific community? By using basic microeconomics and elementary statistical theory, we address this question and find a surprising answer. If a journal is priced to maximize the publisher’s profits, scholars on average are likely to be worse off when universities purchase site licenses than they would be if access were by individual subscriptions only. However, site licenses are not always disadvantageous. Journals issued by professional societies and university presses are often priced so as to maximize subscriptions while recovering average costs. When such journals are sustained by institutional site licenses, the net benefits to the scientific community are larger than if these journals are sold only by individual subscriptions."
I just moved, revised, and enlarged my list of what you can do to help the cause of open access. The new version has separate sections on Universities (with subsections on Faculty, Librarians, Administrators, Students, and Other), Journals and publishers, Foundations, Learned societies, Governments, and Citizens. While this version of the list is more comprehensive than previous lists, I reorganized and relaunched it precisely to make it easier to revise and enlarge in the future. There's a lot more to say. I welcome your ideas and suggestions.
Michael Birnbaum, Human Research and Data Collection via the Internet, Annual Review of Psychology 55, 803 (2004). Only the abstract is freely available online. A California State University professor discusses potential advantages for data collection and data sharing in psychological studies conducted over the internet, points to a variety of freely-available resources including data collection forms, free software and programming tools, as well as web sites documenting studies in progress.
Today's issue of the Times Higher Education Supplement has a story, Archive site takes off, on SHERPA, its new partners, and its work on behalf of eprint archiving. But two problems: the story is accessible only to subscribers and it mistakenly identifies SHERPA as an Open Access Service Provider. SHERPA is running a brief correction on its web site, which JISC repeats and amplifies a bit on its own site. (Thanks in part to Gary Price.)
Farhad Manjoo, in Is the war on file sharing over?, Salon, January 15, 2004, explores whether it is reasonable for the RIAA and recording industry advocates to claim victory over illegal music downloaders, in light of lawsuits, new sales models such as iTunes, and a Pew study that appeared to show a decline in file sharing as a result of the threat of prosecution. (A recent New York Times article indicates quite the contrary.) He writes: "When file sharing advocates say that the recording industry can make more money by loosening its restrictions, their calculation might seem easy to dismiss as wishful thinking. But a close examination of the economics of file sharing indicates that, if the restrictions are loosened cleverly, this may very well be the case." Manjoo goes on to discuss proposed "blanket licenses," that might enable listeners to pay a fee and download all they can hear. (Free to subscribers, or for watching a brief commercial.) (Source:Techdirt)
The official memorandum from the provosts of Duke U, North Carolina State U, and U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to the faculties of the same three universities is now online. Excerpt: "As many of you know, the member universities of the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) have decided to discontinue the consortial arrangement by which they provided access to electronic journals published under the Elsevier Science imprint....The breakdown of negotiation with Elsevier is only the most extreme symptom of a much larger problem. Academic libraries across the country have faced escalating costs to sustain the scholarly communication system for years. The Association of Research Libraries reports that, over the past fifteen years, serial costs for member libraries have increased 215% while the Consumer Price Index has increased by only 62%....In the immediate term, our libraries will work with you to minimize the impact of this particular decision on your research and teaching....At the same time, they will begin to explore with you new models of scholarly communication that may, in the long term, help reduce costs and make scholarly information more widely available." (Thanks to Gary Price.)
Joseph Schwartz, Campus to drop journal contract, U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Daily Tar Heel, January 16, 2004. Quoting Joe Hewitt, associate provost for libraries: "We are trying to cancel enough [journals] so that our payments to Elsevier will be about the same as they were last year."
Kenneth Ball, Libraries cancel Elsevier contract, North Carolina State University's TechnicianOnline, January 16, 2004. Excerpt: "The NCSU libraries, along with the rest of the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN), have decided not to renew their contract with Reed-Elsevier, which provided member universities with electronic access to journals published under the Elsevier Science imprint."
Martha Brogan, A Survey of Digital Library Aggregation Services, Digital Library Federation, 2003. Excerpt: "This reports provides an overview of a diverse set of more than thirty digital library aggregation services, organizes them into functional clusters and then evaluates them more fully from the perspective of an informed user. Most of the services under review rely wholly or partially on the Protocol for Metadata Harvesting of the Open Archives Initiative (OAI-PMH), although some of them predate its inception and a few use predominantly Z39.50 protocols. In the opening section of this report, each service is annotated with its organizational affiliation, subject coverage, function, audience, status, and size. Critical issues surrounding each of these elements are presented in order to provide the reader with an appreciation of the nuances inherent in seemingly straightforward factual information, such as 'audience' or 'size.' Each service is then grouped into one of five functional clusters:  open access e-print archives and servers;  cross archive search services and aggregators;  from digital collections to digital library environments;  from peer-reviewed 'referratories' to portal services;  specialized search engines." The open-access eprint archives receiving special attention are arXiv, the NASA Technical Report Server, and PubMed Central. (Thanks to David Seaman.)
OCLC and IMLS are funding a project to learn how people use electronic information resources. Quoting Brenda Dervin, professor of communication at Ohio State and principal investigator for the project: "We know a lot about who is using these electronic resources, when they are using it and where. But there is just a dabbling of research on the hows and whys. We want to know how people are choosing their electronic resources, why they are choosing some resources over others, and how they are fitting it into their personal and professional lives." (Thanks to LIS News.)
Jonas Holmström, The Cost per Article Reading of Open Access Articles, D-Lib Magazine, January 2004. Abstract: "The measure for calculating cost per reading (CPR) of journal articles is reviewed, and a way to adapt this measure to articles in open access journals is proposed. The traditional subscription based publishing model is compared with the open access model, and similarities are identified and used when calculating CPR for the two different types of publishing. Challenges with interpreting statistics are discussed as well as the difficulty of estimating the number of readings from the number of downloaded articles. Finally, the potential use and implications of the CPR measure for open access publishers and institutions are discussed."
The January issue of D-Lib Magazine is now online. Here are the OA-related articles.
Carol Ebbinghouse, If at First You Don't Succeed, Stop!: Proposed Legislation to Set Up New Intellectual Property Right in Facts Themselves, Information Today, January 16, 2004. An excellent, critical review of the database bill pending in the US House. This bill would devastate civic, political, economic, and scholarly life in the US. But here are some excerpts limited to the scholarly: "A university professor might be precluded from gathering weather information from a variety of Web sites for use in a paper that argues for or against the increase of global warming.....Will performing interlibrary loans, preservation projects, circulating material, and/or creating bibliographies, or providing access to commercial and/or Internet databases violate the terms of H.R. 3261? There is no guidance as to what libraries, schools, research, and educational institutions can and cannot do with databases. The vagueness of the text and the lack of definitions of terms used in the bill could lead to expensive lawsuits to gain judicial interpretations and limits on liability....Library patrons share data, competitive intelligence, price lists, etc., as well as scientific, technical, and business factual and legal research with employers, clients, co-counsels, classmates, professors, corporations, public agencies, charities, family members, and myriad others. Will they open themselves up to lawsuits and temporary and permanent injunctions? Could they be held liable not just for damages alleged by plaintiffs, but additional damages up to twice that amount? Could they have their equipment impounded? It is quite possible."
Peter Gruss, in a letter titled Open Access to Science and Culture, Science 303, 311 (16 January 2004) (access restricted to subscribers), remarks on German scholarly societies and other European institutions efforts to promote open access publishing, particularly with the Berlin Declaration. He references European Cultural Heritage Online (ECHO), which encourages holders of cultural resources to make such material freely available. Admitting questions about how dissemination of scholarly literature should be supported in an open access environment, Gruss writes: "But is it really necessary to answer every question before supporting the right idea? Like the Web, science cannot be steered by central organizations. Good science finds its way forward, which means that good science finds efficient and effective instruments to be successful. However, science alone might not be strong enough to break existing legal and financial barriers, which is why research organizations like the Max Planck Society feel obliged to give the vision of open access a chance."
The URL Clearinghouse is a database made freely available by the libraries of the State University of New York at Albany, and maintained by Laura B. Cohen, Network Services Librarian/Webmaster. It contains records for 48 journal and database vendors and gives specific instructions on how to link to a particular vendor's resources, including shortcuts, syntax to avoid, all to provide shortcuts and time-saving techniques. The Clearinghouse welcomes additions to the vendor list and suggestions and also includes a list of URL types, demonstrating that practices may vary from vendor to vendor and documentation may be lacking. (Source: Peter Scott's Library Blog)
An anonymous story in Stuff.co reports that the New Zealand Ministry of Education has paid for all primary and secondary schools in the country to join the licensing package purchased by large public and academic libraries. Citizen access to these resources begins on March 4. (PS: This is subsidized toll-access, not open access, but an interesting use of government funds to widen access for all citizens in a country.)
Kurt De Belder built an innovative OAI-compliant institutional repository for the University of Amsterdam, with funding from SURF. Among the nice features are a powerful search engine that supports field searching, indexing by Scirus along with the OAI-compliant search engines, a long-term preservation arrangement with the Royal Library of the Netherlands, and a "Document of the day" highlighted on the front page with a link. It has an easy way to pull together publication lists for individual authors (such as this one for J.F.A.K. van Benthem, whom I used to read in my past life as a logician). An associated site provides OA to Amsterdam dissertations, and highlights a "Dissertation of the day".
Karen Hunter, Scholarly Publishing: 12 Observations on the Current Situation and Challenges for the Future, Library Connect, December 2003, pp. 2-3. Observation #3: "The current preoccupation with 'free access' rests on false assumptions." Her reason: "Education is not free to students and information in support of education is not free either --any more than food, computers or football stadiums...."
(PS: Wow. I haven't heard this misunderstanding in years, and never expected to hear it again, let alone from the Senior VP for Strategy at Elsevier. From the start, proponents of OA acknowledged that OA literature costs money to produce and merely argued that there are better ways to cover these expenses than by charging readers or their libraries for access. I don't know anyone who defends OA literature on the ground that it costs nothing to produce. Most defenses are explicit in disclaiming this canard. Here, for example, is an entry from the BOAI FAQ, now almost two years old: "[Question] Isn't this wishful thinking? Do you really believe that online archives and journals are free? [Answer] 'Free' is ambiguous. We mean free for readers, not free for producers. We know that open-access literature is not free (without cost) to produce. But that does not foreclose the possibility of making it free of charge (without price) for readers and users....") (Thanks to the NFAIS Information Community News.)
Richard Wray, Dotcom boomer takes on Reed, The Guardian, January 15, 2004. Russell Shepherd made millions selling Everyform to Reed Elsevier, and is investing the proceeds in Emplaw, an Elsevier rival providing free and affordable information news and commentary on UK employment law. Excerpt: "Emplaw is the latest assault on the dominance of firms like Reed in the specialist sector. In March, a committee of MPs will begin a series of hearings into the growing trend among academics for 'open access' publication of research reports on the internet....There is an intense debate within academic circles about how open access should work and how much academics or the institutions they work in should pay for publishing. The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, based in West Sussex, is at present carrying out the first proper analysis of open access periodicals and is due to report later this year."
Bonita Wilson: "Those providing content on an openly accessible web site should make clear what content can be freely reused and what cannot."
Alastair Dryburgh and Jill Cousins have written a white paper called Open Access - Threat or Opportunity? [PDF format], to help publishers consider their response to the Open Access movement.
Jean-Patrick Connerade, Scandals stem from the low priority of peer review Nature 427, 196 (15 January 2004) (access restricted to subscribers). A letter to Nature argues that premium value be placed on peer-reviewing activities, making it one of the criteria for academic advancement and funding recipience. The author advocates for this to prevent "embarrassing fiascos and to ensure that the publication process remains reliable." In doing so, he makes rather an unfortunate generalization, setting up a difference between a peer-reviewed paper, and a "paper that has been uploaded by its authors onto some electronic archive," implying that papers in such archives have not been refereed and are lacking in quality.
Paul Gilster, How to get the data out, the Raleigh News Observer, January 14, 2004. Excerpt: "Vast amounts of data are tied up in prestigious journals requiring expensive library subscriptions. When I needed an article by physicist Raymond Lewis on current work on anti-matter containment for a book chapter I was working on, I found the citation online in a journal called Advances in Space Research. The cost to read the entire article was $30. A few such articles quickly add up....The Public Library of Science (PLoS) changes the ground rules of academic publishing....Having just paid $110 for four NASA papers that were produced with the aid of taxpayer dollars, I find myself unusually sensitive to the cost of information. The open-access model offers great advantages to researchers and their institutions, not to mention the libraries that support them, but it will have to get past one huge hurdle. Specifically, prestige." (Thanks to Rosalind Reid.)
The Open Society Institute has announced the release of the second edition of its Guide to Institutional Repository Software by Raym Crow. The new edition covers two packages omitted from the first edition, ARNO and FEDORA, and reflects comments and suggestions made by users. OSI will issue regular updates in the future.
Today PLoS issued a press release describing the new program. Excerpt: "'Institutional memberships,' says Dr. Helen Doyle, PLoS Director of Development and Strategic Alliances, 'are one way to provide an incentive for scientists in less well-funded disciplines, as well as those in developing countries, to publish in open-access journals.' The memberships, which are available to universities, libraries, funders of research, and other organizations, offer sizable discounts on publication fees for affiliated authors --meaning that a scholarly institution, private foundation, or corporation could substantially reduce any financial barrier to publishing in PLoS Biology that its researchers faced....'We already waive all fees for any authors who say they can't afford them,' Doyle adds, 'but we hope that Institutional Memberships will help assuage the concern that open access journals are unsustainable in fields with less funding.'"
Today's issue of Library Journal has two stories on the continuing struggle between academic libraries and Elsevier: one on the UC-Elsevier contract, which cancels around 200 journals, and the other on the decision by the four universities in the North Carolina Triangle Research Library Network not to renew ElsevierScience, with the effect of cancelling around 1,300 journals.
Dwight Deugo, Creative Commons: The boundaries of intellectual property, ADTmag.com, January 13, 2004. A good introduction to CC, the problems it solves, and how it solves them.
A reader opinion poll on open access is taking place at Medscape. The polling question: "Movement toward open access publishing, or free access to peer-reviewed research articles, has recently gained momentum in some areas. Do you favor or oppose open-access publishing?" The poll runs Jan 8 thru Jan 15. Current numbers indicate that open access is favored by a whopping 94%.
David Becker, Congressional leaders promise action on tech, CNEt News, Jan. 10, 2004, reports on criticisms of RIAA made by Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) and Sen. Joe Barton (R-TX) at a panel of the recent Consumer Electronics Show. Sununu described the RIAA subpoenas as "heavy-handed" and "not what the DMCA was intended to do." Barton was paraphrased as remarking that content providers "need to come up with business models that accomodate modern technology and attitudes," rather than alienating a whole generation of customers. (Source: Boing Boing Blog)
Carl T. Bergstrom and Theodore C. Bergstrom, "The costs and benefits of library site licenses to academic journals, PNAS Early Edition, January 8, 2004 (abstract freely available). A study published in PNAS last week examines insitutional site license subscriptions to online journals and whether users benefit from such arrangements. They report: "If a journal is priced to maximize the publisher's profits, scholars on average are likely to be worse off when universities purchase site licenses than they would be if access were by individual subscriptions only." In contrast, they write, university press and society journal site licenses benefit the scientific community because the subscription prices are closer to the costs of producing the journal. It's also noted that some societies fund their activities with subscription monies and the scientific community also gains from these. In the latter instance, the university libraries play a key role negotiating and providing online access for users at their institutions. So for reasonably-priced journals, institutional access is viewed as a good per-capita value. University libraries' recent cancellation of Elsevier titles reflect problems with such pricing. At one point in the article, the authors point out that for a lot of journals the price reflects what users are (have been) willing to pay, rather than actual production costs. While the authors suggest reasonably that libraries coordinate efforts not to subscribe to high-priced journals, potentially bringing down the cost, they do not consider the open access model and the possibility that authors could bring an alternative solution to the subscription problem by contributing to and supporting OA journals. (Thanks to Peter Suber for his comments.)
Starting this month, Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) will be open access. EHP is a peer-reviewed journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a division of the NIH. For more information, see the EHP open access page or press release.
Eric Ferreri, Colleges ax journals deal, the Durham NC Herald-Sun, January 12, 2004. Excerpt: "Having grown weary of the continuously escalating prices of academic journal subscriptions, four local universities [U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke, North Carolina State U, and North Carolina Central U] are taking something of a stand against the world's major publisher of scholarly research....Spokesmen for Elsevier did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this article....'It's been steadily getting worse for a decade,' said Robert Peet, a UNC biology professor whose departmental library spent $419,000 on 986 journal subscriptions in 2002-03. 'Now it's not sustainable at all. Nobody can pay for it.'"
William Watson, Napster for Nerds, Montreal Gazette, January 13, 2004. On the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), a multi-disciplinary eprint archive, which provides OA to most of its contents and priced access to some. (PS: Watson doesn't understand the economic distinctiveness of giveaway literature and falls back on platitudes of his field, economics, that apply best to more conventional sectors of the economy. Moreover, either he or his editor picked a headline making the inane and inaccurate comparison to Napster.)
Andrew Porter, Has Reed's Mr 10% lost his golden touch? Fears over growth at Crispin Davis's empire, London Times, January 12, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). On Elsevier's slowing rate of earnings growth. Excerpt: "And there has been another problem, also in America: the science-publication division has been hit in a revolt by academics and institutions....In addition, there has been unrest in the scientific community about some of Reed's methods of doing business. In America, the Public Library of Science, a non-profit organisation, launched a drive to make scientific and medical literature more accessible. It has made its first scientific journals freely available online. And in another move that will irritate Reed, Congressman Martin Sabo is sponsoring a bill that seeks to exclude any government-funded scientific research from having US copyright protection....In a further worrying development, two University of California scientists have proposed a boycott of six of Reed's biology journals, accusing the company of charging exorbitant fees."
Excerpt from Yvette Essen's financial report in today's issue of The Telegraph: "Publishing group Reed Elsevier was left on the shelf, shedding 5 to 451p. Traders speculated that the Anglo-Dutch group, which hit a peak of 550p last June, could face increased competition from UK independent publishing house BioMed Central, which is meeting with Lehman Brothers and fund managers today."
CLIR, New Digital Initiatives Have Import For All Higher Education, CLIRinghouse, November/December 2003. Excerpt: "Two major digital initiatives announced at the 2003 fall forum of the Digital Library Federation (DLF) have far-reaching import for the future of scholarship and teaching in universities and colleges throughout the United States and beyond. One --the Distributed Open Digital Library initiative-- will make more holdings of major research libraries accessible universally in an online, collaborative digital library. The second initiative --the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program-- will engage multiple institutions in R&D work on ways to ensure long-term access to digital resources."
Zachary Zimmerman, Learning the Language of Systems Biology, BioIT World, December 15, 2003. An interview with Princeton geneticist David Botstein.
(Thanks to Jason Bobe.)
Outsell has released 13 predictions for the information content industry in 2004. Here's prediction #6: "The Open Access movement in scholarly and scientific publications will gain legitimacy."
In a separate, downloadable report to accompany the predictions, Outsell says this about open access (p. 9): "The Open Access movement in scholarly and scientific publications will gain legitimacy as it transforms from a loose collection of disjointed initiatives into a new model backed by major universities and institutions worldwide....Academic institutions and the scholarly publishing world have been at loggerheads for years over the increasing cost of journal subscriptions. The irony is that most scholarly content is created by individuals employed by universities, who are then required to pay for it again in the form of published works. The new Public Library of Science is only the most prominent in a series of open-access challenges to the scholarly publishing industry, which finds itself in a real crisis situation as users and the organizations they work for start to revolt. As steam gathers under institutional archiving initiatives like DSpace, the infrastructure will be in place to support peer-to-peer from the get-go. Where there is a will, there is a way, and technology is providing the 'way' to enable creative new solutions for distribution, access, and sharing of scholarly content. Watch for even more radical and flexible knowledge-sharing initiatives in this space that will increasingly call into question the structure of an entire publishing sector."
The American Anthropological Association has dramatically cut the prices of its journals without making them open access. Starting this month, the AAA will start phasing in a program to give members access to electronic editions of all 29 AAA journals at no charge beyond membership dues. (Dues for a typical faculty member are $145/year.) Libraries will be able to get all 29 journals for less than the present cost of the leading five. The AAA expects to have 10 journals available at these prices by 2005 and the rest soon after. In each case, the full back run of the journal will be available at the AAA portal, AnthroSource, along with datasets, audio, visual, and other material. Quoting Rebecca Simon, assistant director for journal publishing at the U of California Press, which is taking over the AAA journals: "I think everyone is really excited about the idea of creating an electronic community that will contain such a core of the scholarship in a particular discipline...That hasn't been attempted before in the social sciences." Quoting Suzanne Calpestri, anthropology librarian at UC Berkeley and chair of the AnthroSource steering committee: "[Open access is] a controversial topic. That's not where we are right now." For more details, see David Glen, Anthropology Association Will Give Electronic Journal Subscriptions to All Members, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 16, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers).
Brock Read, AskERIC Finds a New Home, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 16, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "A popular [free] online repository for educational data and advice has found a new home [at the University of Syracuse's Information Institute] after the U.S. Department of Education discontinued it in December....'We're very disappointed that the Department of Education actively stopped AskERIC,' said R. David Lankes, the director of AskERIC and the new project. 'But we think we can build a good infrastructure to keep the project alive.'"
Rita Gudermann, Wem gehört die Mona Lisa? Die Zeit, January 8, 2004. On the conflict between the digital rights to images of classical artworks, even public-domain artworks, and historical scholarship that would like to reprint such images. Historian and OA advocate Klaus Graf argues that commercializing artworks in this way violates a museum's commitment to share knowledge and culture, especially when the artworks were purchased with the help of taxpayer funds. Also see Graf's entry on the Gudermann story in his blog, Archivalia.