Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Another declaration of independence

On January 27, Editor in Chief Dominique Boullier and the entire editorial board of Les cahiers du numérique resigned from the journal and released an open letter explaining why. They point to CduN's high price and limited online access policy which "contradict our objectives as researchers". (PS: See my list of similar resignations.) (Thanks to Libre accès for announcing the story and Sebastien Paquet for translation help.)

More access for less in Brazil

Paulo Rebêlo and Katie Mantell, Brazil secures cheaper access to scientific journals, SciDev.Net, January 30, 2004. Excerpt: "The Brazilian government has negotiated a US$5 million reduction in the fees it pays to allow many of the country's researchers to gain free access to electronic versions of a large number of scientific journals. The government's 'journal website' (Portal de Periódicos), allows researchers across the country to access the full text of thousands of international journals, magazines and databases covering a broad range of subjects. Last year, the government funding agency responsible for the website, known as CAPES (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Staff), paid a total of US$20 million in individual agreements with international publishers in order to provide access to their publications through its website. But as a result of recent negotiations, CAPES will this year pay one quarter less. In addition, CAPES has also secured an increase of almost a third in the amount of content available through the website."

Friday, January 30, 2004

OA to Canadian dissertations

On January 20, the National Library of Canada started providing open access to doctoral dissertations on deposit at Theses Canada. (Thanks to Gary Price.)

Declaration on Access to Research Data From Public Funding

Today in Paris, ministerial representatives from 34 nations to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued the Declaration on Access to Research Data From Public Funding (scroll about halfway down the page). Excerpts:

Recognising that open access to, and unrestricted use of, data promotes scientific progress and facilitates the training of researchers;

Recognising that open access will maximise the value derived from public investments in data collection efforts; [...]


Work towards the establishment of access regimes for digital research data from public funding in accordance with the following objectives and principles:

Openness: balancing the interests of open access to data to increase the quality and efficiency of research and innovation with the need for restriction of access in some instances to protect social, scientific and economic interests. [...]

Interoperability: paying due attention to the relevant international standard requirements for use in multiple ways, in co-operation with other international organisations. [...]

Accountability: evaluating the performance of data access regimes to maximise the support for open access among the scientific community and society at large.

The signatory nations are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Russian Federation, the Slovak Republic, the Republic of South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Copyright transfer: read and sign, right? Wait! ....

Professor Stuart M. Shieber of Harvard University has posted two sample Alternative Copyright Assignments on his web site. One transfers copyright to the publisher but retains other non-commercial usage rights; the other is a license to publish the work but keeps copyright and all other IP rights in the hands of the author. (Note: Peter has added this to his list of what universities can do to help OA.)

OA in Nigeria

Some public universities use the term "open access" to mean "open admissions", and some use it in our sense to mean "free online access" to digital content. Distance learning in Nigeria will soon be both. For details, see Remmy Nweke's story, Prospects of E-Learning in Nigeria, in, January 29, 2004.

Live online colloquy on OA now over

I just finished answering a series of very good questions for the Chronicle of Higher Education's online colloquy on open access. The transcript is online and open to non-subscribers. I thank Lila Guterman and the Chronicle for setting this up and inviting me to be the guest. I thank all the readers who sent in questions and apologize to all whose questions didn't fit into the hour.

Free online access will help rebuild Iraqi medical system

Jennifer Upshaw, Marin doctors to go on mission to Iraq, Marin Independent Journal, January 29, 2004. Three California physicians are traveling to Iraq to help "rebuild Iraqi's medical system by helping physicians organize a professional society similar to the American Medical Association, create specialty societies in areas of expertise, and establish a network between the two nations that would open educational doors for Iraqi physicians." Part of the plan is "to offer free online access to the group's educational resources to a handful of foreign physicians." (PS: This appears to be subsidized toll access, not open access, but it shows that the subsidy that removes price barriers can be an important humanitarian tool. Open access is the way to make it systematic.)

Libraries should invest in a better alternative

Margaret Landesman, Price Increases Are Not the Problem, Charleston Advisor, January 2004. Excerpt: "It is troubling that so much of the discussion about scholarly communication focuses on journal price increases....But we know that the issue is not merely what we used to call 'inflation' and now more accurately label 'price increases.' Its not just about the price increases its about the price. On the other hand, advocates of Open Access publishing and archiving in their many combinations and permutations sometimes seem to be saying that libraries will never need to pay anybody for anything anymore. Which seems unlikely. There needs to be a place in the middle where common sense might reign. Not everything we need can be free but some of it can....To move in the general direction of such a state, libraries must help new publishing initiatives to establish themselves. But our current procedures often result in decisions that push us in the opposite direction, towards funding expansion of the title lists of expensive publishers while denying smaller lower-priced initiatives the ability to grow....To succeed in reducing this reliance [on expensive journals], librarians have to stop looking at themselves as collectors selecting and purchasing a group of items from a larger universe, and start seeing themselves as the people in charge of investing our institutions' limited resources wisely so that future collections will meet future needs."

EBSCO adds OA journals to its master list

EBSCO A-Z now offers access to almost 1,000 OA journals. Excerpt from the press release: "EBSCO A-to-Z now offers access to hundreds of free online journals, such as those found in the Directory of Open Access Journals, PubMed Central, SciELO and other portals. Spanning topics from language and literature to science and medicine, these journals are part of the A-to-Z master title database that provides link and coverage information to more than 40,000 unique titles from more than 530 database and e-journal packages from approximately 100 different providers. Using A-to-Z's online administrative module with its interactive Title Wizard, libraries can add these titles to their lists and make them available to patrons in a matter of minutes." (PS: Of course EBSCO users already have free access to these OA journals, and EBSCO is not charging for access to them. But this is still a win-win idea. It gives OA journals new visibility, especially through EBSCO's journal-level search engine, and it gives the EBSCO master list of titles new comprehensiveness and value.) (Thanks to Gary Price.)

CNI summary report on institutional repositories

CNI has posted a Summary Report of the December 8, 2003, CNI Executive Roundtable on Institutional Repositories. Excerpt: "There was a range of opinion and some very interesting observations about building the case for institutional repositories. Many participants believed that pilot projects were a particularly effective strategy; at the same time, there was a great deal of concern expressed about how we were developing de facto institutional repositories in inappropriate settings (for example, using proprietary learning management systems). There was also discussion about when to shift from a bottom-up pilot project approach to a more systematic and institution-wide one. Questions were raised about whether it was appropriate to frame institutional repositories as new initiatives (requiring new funding) as opposed to simply new expressions of ongoing core responsibilities. One participant also observed that 'we did not build the case for the Web.'"

DARE launched

On January 27 the DARE network of OAI compatible institutional repositories has been launched. Before a large audience of highly ranked representatives of Dutch universities these repositories, all up and running, were harvested with a harvester specially built for this purpose. The harvester will be further developed to become a national portal to the on line available scholarly literature in the Netherlandss and will remain on line. Come and visit The harvester has a number of features. One of these features is access to a large number of the full texts from the harvester site itself.

For a little more detail about this event, see -=(In Between)=-.

Open Access Databases

Nat Goodman, Among Databases, Open Access Is Growing Rare, Genome Technology Jan 28 2004. (free registration required) Excerpt: "[R]estricted access makes it harder for other databases to incorporate your data and produce an even better result. For example, my group develops public databases focused on specific diseases. We collect data from multiple, mostly public sources, and present the information in ways that are more useful for scientists working on our diseases. To preserve open access to our databases, we cannot incorporate data from...restricted sources, even if they allow downloads. Too bad. It means we have to spend time and money duplicating work already done. Delay, delay, delay."

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

RIAA fouling its own nest?

Alex Salkever, Big Music's Worst Move Yet, Business Week Online, January 27, 2004, points out that the RIAA's hardline subpoena tactics are not only turning customers off the music industry, but could threaten other online media industries as users seek sneakier forms of encryption and other obfuscation tools. (Source: Techdirt)

OA to society journals

Jim Pitman, A strategy for open access to society publications, a preprint posted to the author's web site, January 28, 2004. Pitman's strategy is to "encourage and assist" authors in archiving their preprints, to allow postprint archiving at any OA archive, but to host an OA version at the journal site only if the author pays a processing fee. Another part of the strategy is to appeal to authors, journals, and societies not to support journals with "regressive" policies on copyright or access. Pitman is the chair of the publications committee of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, a society publisher.

More about future of libraries

The Future of Libraries, Threshold, Winter 2003, 13-17, is a forum featuring several perspectives on the library as a place and its role in education. The first essay by Clifford Lynch, "The New Dimensions of Learning Communities," summarizes an accessible digital world worth realizing: "The treasures that have been locked up in the special collections of our great libraries are now being opened up on the Internet in digital form, allowing students and the public to directly explore essential source materials that have historically been the priviledged preserve of a few advanced scholars who could travel to the places where the rarities were held." (Source: The Kept-Up Academic Librarian)

Eprints Handbook released

Les Carr of Southampton University has written an Eprints Handbook for all users of Erints, the open-source software for building and maintaining open-access OAI-compliant eprint archives. Quoting the press release: "The handbook is desisgned for...the system administrators who set up and maintain the archives, the departments or libraries that manage them, the authors who self-archive their papers in them, and the readers who use their contents."

Libraries in the age of the internet

S.A. Mathieson, Libraries embrace digital age, The Guardian, January 28, 2004. Excerpt: "Beyond capturing material, the next challenge will be to categorise it. The UK is making a start through the Resource Discovery Network, a group involving 70 research and educational organisations that selects and categorises high-quality websites of academic interest....The internet is not making librarians obsolete - instead, creating guides to the internet, the ultimate unsorted library, is their biggest job to date."

The British Library joins the DLF

The British Library has joined the Digital Library Federation. Quoting the press release: "Under CEO Lynne Brindley, the British Library has embarked upon a significant expansion of its digital library program, one that will benefit not only citizens of the United Kingdom, but readers and researchers everywhere. The decision by the British Library to join the Digital Library Federation signals not only the determination of the BL to exploit the possibilities for research and study as well as for communication and collaboration of digital information resources, but also the synergetic benefits to be gained in that expansion by joining the Digital Library Federation, a group of similarly activated and determined institutions."

Copyrights and patents in taxpayer-funded research

Laura MacDonald et al., Management of intellectual property in publicly-funded research organisations: Towards European Guidelines, European Commission, January 2004. From the executive summary: "The report is directed primarily at research universities and research centres funded by publics funds (collectively Public Research Organisations or PROs) to help them identify the processes, good practices and the implications of a more active involvement in the innovation process through the management of IPR....The majority of basic research in Europe is conducted by PROs. They have always been an important source of innovation. The report reviews the knowledge transfer processes and their evolution over the last 30 years. The processes evolved from an 'Open Science' model in which the PROs did not retain any intellectual property rights (IPR), to a 'Licensing Model' in which the PROs started to retain, protect and commercialise inventions based on their discoveries....However, over the last ten years, a third model, which we call the 'Innovation Model', has started to develop in Europe. In this model, the Licensing Model, which is still important, has been supplemented by a more active policy of collaborative research with industry....One of the main policy recommendations of our Group is that the adoption of the Innovation Model by European PROs should be encouraged as the most effective way to produce significant socioeconomic benefits at European level from publicly funded research results."

More on the database bill

The EFF has created a web site to help Americans send a message to their representative in Congress opposing the database bill. Excerpt: This bill "would surely chill innovation and research. Many legitimate activities - both commercial and not - rely on the availability of factual information. For instance, websites that perform price-comparisons for shoppers must use data from many different retailers, but that activity would likely violate DCIMA. Scientists require access to dozens, sometimes hundreds, of complete data sets to further their research, but DCIMA would allow anyone who has merely maintained one of those databases to initiate litigation. The Act has some vague language about limiting the liability of scientists and other groups, but it would take court battles to clarify it."

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

More Lila Guterman on OA

I've already blogged Lila's story, The Promise and Peril of 'Open Access' (Chronicle of Higher Education, January 30, 2004). But I overlooked two of her companion pieces in the same issue, (1) 2 Routes to Open Access: Archives and Institutional Subscriptions and (2) Publishers Fear Government Intervention (same author, source, date).

More on scientific paper embargoes

Rudy M. Baum, Counterproductive Restrictions, Chemical & Engineering News, January 26, 2004, p.5 (access restricted to subscribers). An editorial in C&EN decries U.S. Treasury Department rulings that make it illegal for American scientific publishers to publish results from researchers in countries subject to U.S. trade embargoes, such as Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Cuba. Baum notes that the American Chemical Society received 195 submissions from such countries, most from Iran. While ACS is involved in efforts with other societies to urge that the rulings be overturned, Baum points out that "under no circumstances can ACS be a partner to violating U.S. law." Finally, the editor bids ACS members to address the subject with their legislators and concludes by saying while embargoes may be useful diplomatic and political weapons, "they should not be extended to blocking the free flow of scientific information." (Note: see earlier postings by Peter Suber from 10/03/03, 10/17/03, 11/03/03 and 12/01/03 in this weblog and in the SPARC Open Access Newsletter for background and further discussion of this issue.

Openness in university IT

John M. Unsworth, The Next Wave: Liberation Technology, Chronicle of Higher Education, Volume 50, Issue 21, Page B16 (January 30, 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers). Another of the "10 IT Challenges" columns, this article discusses the trend towards open courseware, open source and open access, as opposed to expensive subscription- and license-based alternatives. A section "Toward a New Model of Scholarly Communication" offers a summary of university institutional repository initiatives, the promotion of open access and the downsizing of subscriptions to expensive journals.

Backlash against OA models?

Stephen Downes, 2004: The Turning Point, Ubiquity v.4,no.46 (January 20-26, 2004). Downes offers an assessment of "issues that will change the way we use the internet." One section, headlined "Attacking Open Content," says that media industries will attempt a backlash against freely-available alternatives to their products. Alongside open courseware and open source, Downes mentions "Open access journals are forcing publishers to retrench." He sees the attack happening on both "legislative" - through intellectual property and legal channels - and "promotional" - or negative advertising on the stability of open content. Finally, Downes calls such attacks "a last desperate gasp before the bottom falls out of the content industry completely... Content is well on its way to being a value-add, something that you might attach to a product, but not something that is the product. Apple uses music to sell iPods, not iPods to sell music." (Source: The ((sci-tech) library question)

Challenges of digital copyright law for academia

Andrea Foster, Intellectual Property: Digital-Copyright Law Is Ripe for Revision, Chronicle of Higher Education, Volume 50, Issue 21, Page B14 (January 30, 2004) (access restricted to subscribers). One from a series " IT: 10 challenges for the next 10 years," this article discusses the interests of universities in revisions to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, with specific attention to fair use of publications in course materials and mollifying software anti-circumvention laws for study of computer systems and access to digital materials. Pressure for congress to review the DMCA may also come from industry advocates such as the RIAA, unhappy with recent rulings limiting their ability to supoena file sharers.

OA will improve legislation

Janneke Mostert, Diffusing information for democracy: an insight of the South African Parliament, Library Management, 25, 1 (January 2004) pp. 28-38. (Only the abstract is free online.) A nice argument that open access is needed for effective legislation, not just for effective research. From the abstract: "The paper concludes that democracy can only be sustained if information is freely available, and utilised to its fullest potential by the legislators so as to be enabled to actively participate in all the parliamentary functions."

New issue of Learned Publishing

The January issue of Learned Publishing is now online. (Alternative site.) Here are the OA-related articles. Except where noted, only the TOC and abstracts are free online.

Monday, January 26, 2004

The need for digital preservation

Scott Carlson, The Uncertain Fate of Scholarly Artifacts in a Digital Age, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 30, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: Some authors "wonder whether we are entering a digital dark age or a bright new era for scholarship. The raw materials of research -- novels, notes, artwork, letters -- are being produced on computers and saved on floppy disks and hard drives. Many scholars fear that these materials are in danger of ending up in the junk heap, trapped in obsolete computers. Others say the information age could be an age of plenty, an age when scholars reconceive their habits of research to cope with mountains of data, which then yield bold new discoveries. That future, however, will depend on digital-archiving strategies that are just now being planned. They have not yet been tested, or paid for." (PS: For an article focusing on the same problem in the sciences, see Robert Dellavalle et al, Going, Going, Gone: Lost Internet References, Science, October 31, 2003. Thanks to Harlan Onsrud.)

OA from KP

Kaiser Permanente, the non-profit health insurer, now offers open access to physician-approved healthcare information. From today's press release: "Kaiser Permanente launched the member portion of its new site last July, giving open access to the general public. The site received the highest accreditation award in the industry by URAC, a Washington, D.C. health care accrediting organization and a leader in the accreditation of health Web sites. URAC acknowledged that Kaiser Permanente's Web site incorporates rigorous standards that protect consumers' interests while providing quality information and services....The new site offers free, non-commercial access to more than 40,000 pages of physician-approved health-related information -- covering about 1,900 topics, 6,000 medical tests and procedures -- to anyone and everyone, with no password needed. The general public can access much of the site's valuable health information by visiting the Members' section."

Author attitudes toward OA archiving

Eugenio Pelizzari, Academic staff use, perception and expectations about Open-access archives, an abridged edition of a master's dissertation for New Castle University. From the abstract: "This study surveyed the academic population of the faculties of Economics and Law of the University of Study of Brescia, Italy. The survey sought to determine knowledge and use of Open-Access archives in the different disciplines, and to verify the conditions stated by the authors to participate in an Institutional Open-Access initiative....Results show that 44 percent (25/57) of the authors knows about the existence of Open-Access initiatives and archives. Among the people who answered that they were aware of the existence of Open-Access archives, only 4 percent (1/25) affirmed they had already used them to deposit papers, while 33 percent (16/48), among those who declared to use materials free available on the web, affirmed to have used an Open-Access disciplinary archive. Sixty-one percent (41/62) of the respondents answered they were prepared to personally archive their own scientific or educational material on an institutional repository, once the conditions that they request have been fulfilled."

"Copyright horror stories"

Robert S. Boynton, The Tyranny of Copyright, New York Times Magazine, January 25, 2004: The article discusses consequences of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, efforts by Lawrence Lessig and others through Creative Commons and other venues to retain rights for content users, concerns of authors and content creators, and the question of micropayments for content usage. (Source: beSpacific)

Chronicle story and colloquy on open access

Lila Guterman, The Promise and Peril of 'Open Access', Chronicle of Higher Education, January 30, 2004 (accessible even to non-subscribers). A major overview of OA, its progress, its critics, and its future. Excerpt: "The good guys, in the eyes of many scientists and librarians, are the revolutionaries offering an alternative to the publishing status quo. They are creating online journals that charge no subscription fees. These agitators for change want to rescue librarians from the tyranny of prohibitively costly journals -- upwards of $20,000 per year -- and to empower researchers who, because of the expense, often have difficulty keeping up with new developments in their fields. Instead of charging subscription fees, the new online journals require the authors to pay, charging fees that range from $500 to $1,500 -- a small sum compared with, say, most biomedical-research grants from the National Institutes of Health."

This Thursday, January 29, from 1:00 to 2:00 pm Eastern time, the Chronicle will host a live online colloquy on open access. I will be the guest and answer questions posed by online readers. The colloquy is open to non-subscribers, and readers may start posting questions at any time. If you can't monitor the colloquy in real time, the Chronicle will publish a transcript afterwards.

Pharmaceutical industry and high-priced journals

Users Tell the Rest of the Story, Outsell, January 23, 2004 (only summary available online) reports the frustrations of several pharmaceutical companies with respect to expensive journal subscriptions. Evidently, the American Medical Association generated a furor when raising one institution's license "900%." A group of these companies, then, surveyed their users and found that they didn't regard such journals as "must-haves" and were to consider alternatives, including cancelling expensive subscriptions. The report notes that many of the pharmaceutical companies pay for advertising in journals and then face high subscription prices. (Source: The Virtual Chase)

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Wanted: anecdotes about open access

I'm looking for vivid and persuasive anecdotes that show the benefits of open access and the harms caused by the lack of it. Go back through your memories, email boxes, and conference notes to reassemble stories that can help change minds. Don't send them to me directly, but to our discussion forum, where everyone can make use of them. I'll keep the call for anecdotes on the blog sidebar for the foreseeable future.

More on the database bill

Roy Mark, House Panel Sparks Database Controversy,, January 23, 2004. Quoting Mark Erickson, director of federal policy for NetCoalition: "The Supreme Court ruled in 1991 that facts can't be copyrighted. All intellectual property has a finite life. Any sort of legislation that creates a new property right in facts can have a profound impact. It can drive up the cost of data and potentially give the owners of the new protection the ability to charge for using the facts in a downstream distribution." Quoting Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA): "[This bill] is mischievous in that it will lock away facts from public access....This bill is testament to the power that one company can muster," referring to Reed Elsevier, one of the largest and most energetic backers of the bill.