Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, February 21, 2004

New Cites & Insights

The March issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now online. This issue has a long section on Library Access to Scholarship in which Walt describes in detail the major recent revolts against high prices and big-deal bundling, reviews some recent literature on OA, and defends OA against some new and old misunderstandings. He also has a section recommending the colloquy I gave for the Chronicle of Higher Education and some recent issues of my newsletter. (Thanks, Walt.) The issue also has a long and useful section on censorware, CIPA, and the arguments against mandatory internet filtering in libraries.

Profile of Sally Morris

In the February issue of Research Information, John Murphy profiles Sally Morris, the chief executive of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers. Quoting Sally Morris: "Research output is continuing to grow because research funding is growing, and output keeps pace with funding. But library budgets are not growing at the same rate, so the proportion of the available literature they can afford to buy is going down. One of the key problems for libraries is that journals are getting bigger, because more articles are being published in them. Therefore the prices are going up, and it's a vicious circle because, if you charge more, you lose customers, and if you put the price up to replace lost customers, you end up disappearing up your own fundament. Some people are experimenting with new models where the author pays for publication and then the articles are distributed free. They argue that the costs of publishing should be included in the research funding." (PS: Sally is one the major forces leading society publishers to experiment with OA.)

More on the UK inquiry

The February issue of Research Information has a brief story on the UK inquiry. Excerpt: "The committee will investigate pricing policies for scientific journals, particularly 'Big-Deal' agreements, as well as open-access initiatives. It will decide whether to recommend that the UK Government should encourage open-access projects - such as BioMed Central and the Public Library of Science - which represent a challenge to traditional pricing models of journal publishers. The chairman of the committee, Dr Ian Gibson, is a former academic from the University of East Anglia. He promised some 'very tough questions for publishers, libraries and government on these issues'. 'Journals are at the heart of the scientific process,' he continued. 'Researchers, teachers and students must have easy access to scientific publications at a fair price. Scientific journals need to maintain their credibility and integrity as they move into the age of e-publication.'"

Stanford votes

Ryan Sands, Fac Sen addresses costly journals, The Stanford Daily, February 20, 2004. Excerpt: "In response to the damaging effect of rising serial costs on campus budgets, the Faculty Senate passed guidelines yesterday for Stanford libraries, faculty and departments regarding academic journals. There were four guidelines passed regarding the budget strains on the libraries. [1] The first guideline encouraged faculty and libraries to support affordable scholarly journals by volunteering articles and labor in the production, review and editing of publications. [2] The second recommended that libraries refuse bundled subscription plans....[3] The third guideline encouraged Stanford libraries to scrutinize the pricing of journals and to discontinue subscriptions of disproportionately expensive serials. This guideline specifically singled out publisher Elsevier. In recent months, Elsevier has been criticized by other schools such as the University of California, Harvard University and Duke University, which have passed similar guidelines and academic journal restrictions. [4] The fourth guideline 'strongly asked' faculty not to contribute articles or editorial efforts to publishers and journals that engaged in exploitive pricing, but to look to other, more reasonably priced venues for disseminating their research." The Faculty Senate adopted the guidelines with only one dissenting vote. Another article in the same issue summarized the news more succinctly: the Faculty Senate "approved a motion that would encourage libraries to cancel exorbitantly priced journals from for-profit journal publishers and encourage faculty to withhold work from those publishers."

More on trade embargoes on scientific publications

Mary Curtius, U.S. Embargos [sic] Extended to Editing Articles, Los Angeles Times, February 21, 2004. Excerpt: "For U.S. publishers, changing so much as a comma in an author's work can be more than a delicate process. It can be criminal --punishable by fines of up to a half-million dollars or jail terms as long as 10 years. In a move that pits national security concerns against academic freedom and the international flow of information, the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control recently declared that American publishers cannot edit works authored in nations under trade embargoes. Although publishing the articles is legal, editing is a 'service' and it is illegal to perform services for embargoed nations, the agency has ruled. This week, one publisher [the American Chemical Society] decided to challenge the government and risk criminal prosecution."

Digital commons presentations

Abstracts of the presentations at the recent meeting, IDLELO: The First African Conference on the Digital Commons (Cape Town, January 12-16, 2004), are now online.

Oregon to cancel hundreds of journal titles, again

Rising journal prices and flat budgets are forcing the University of Oregon libraries to cancel more than 300 subscriptions this year, on top of twice the number cuts last year. For details, see Chuck Slothower, University Libraries to cut several serial subscriptions, Oregon Daily Emerald, February 21, 2004.

Licensing problems for scientific ejournals

Ralf Flohr, Lizenzprobleme elektronischer Zeitschriften in wissenschaftlichen Spezialbibliotheken, Berliner Handreichungen zur Bibliothekswissenschaft, vol. 127, 2004. Abstract: "In der vorliegenden Arbeit werden rechtliche Rahmenbedingungen von elektronischen Zeitschriften, die von Bibliotheken auf dem Wege der Lizenzierung erworben werden, untersucht. Der Schwerpunkt liegt dabei auf den urheberrechtlichen Rahmenbedingungen und der Ausgestaltung von Nutzungsrechten in Lizenzverträgen. Darüber hinaus wird auch die vertragsrechtliche Seite von Lizenzvereinbarungen untersucht. Die Probleme sind am Aufgabenspektrum einer wissenschaftlichen Spezialbibliothek orientiert." Read the original German or Google's English. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Friday, February 20, 2004

National OA policies

The presentations from the meeting, National Policies on Open Access Provision for University Research Output (Southampton, February 19, 2004), are now online.

Lee on Harnad on self-archiving

Lee Miller, Author/Institution Self-Archiving and the Future of Peer-Reviewed Journals, Science Editor, September/October 2003. Lee's summary of Harnad's keynote address and subsequent Q&A at the Council of Science Editors Annual Meeting (Pittsburgh, May 2-6, 2003).

New issue of Science Editor

The January/February issue of Science Editor is now online. Not even abstracts are accessible to non-subscribers. Here are the OA-related articles --as far as I can guess from titles alone.

More on the OA threat to Elsevier

Raymond Snoddy, Publisher's profits come with a blurb of warning, Times Online, February 20, 2004. Excerpt: Elsevier CEO Crispin Davis "sought to calm fears that academic journal prices could be weakened by 'open access' publication whereby scientists pay to publish their papers and then make them freely available."

More on the Elsevier position on OA

Tim Burt, Reed shrugs off threat from free net rival, Financial Times, February 20, 2004. Excerpt: "Reed Elsevier, one of Europe's largest media groups, on Thursday defended its dominance of scientific publishing and scorned suggestions that a free internet rival could jeopardise its business model....[CEO Crispin Davis] also questioned...the value of publications that were not subject to tough peer review." (PS: Crispin Davis' public statements about open access need some peer review. Does he think that investors will not care that his assessments are this baseless and uninformed?)

More on the Creative Commons

Sandy Starr, The Creative Commons, Spiked, February 18, 2004. A good overview, as much on fair use and the public domain as on the details of CC licenses. (Thanks to ITRU Update.)

Versatility and importance of OAI

Roy Tennant, The Expanding World of OAI, Library Journal, February 15, 2004. Excerpt: "I recently called standards the "engine of interoperability" (LJ 12/03, p. 33), but I could have also called them the "building blocks of innovation." Standards, when done well, provide an important foundation on which new innovations can be built. Within the digital library community this is most evident in the development of the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). OAI-PMH was created in 2001 as a means to distribute metadata for digital objects, mostly papers in e-print repositories. Since then, it has not only been implemented widely by such repositories, it has also been used in unforeseen ways."

More on the OA threat to Elsevier

Russell Hotten, Reed Elsevier wards off threats as scientists keep publishing, Times Online, February 20, 2004. Excerpt: "The latest threat to Reed Elsevier comes in the form of 'open access' publishing where scientists or institutions pay for their own publication and make it freely available. If everyone did that Reed Elsevier would have a large hole in its business."

Democritization of information

The presentations from the conference, On Democritization of Information with a Focus on Libraries (Mumbai, India, January 18-19, 2004), are now online. (Thanks to LIS News.)

More on the database bill

The American Library Association (ALA) has set up a web form allowing Americans to send their representative in Congress an email or printed letter opposing the database bill.

More on the Elsevier objections to OA

Adams Patrick, Reed Elsevier profits jump, Reuters UK, February 19, 2004. Excerpt: "Even as Reed Elsevier profits climb, its lucrative science publishing unit is under threat from a loose-knit group of academic institutions who are angry with high subscription fees for scientific journals. They are advocating an 'open-access' model where publication costs are borne by the author, and the journals themselves are free. '[Open access] has a one percent market share and we'll have to see how the market evolves and reacts to this,' Chief Executive Crispin Davis said. He raised a number of objections to the model, saying it could result in higher costs for research institutions and lower-quality research being published. Because not all research institutions have access to the Internet, where open-access journals are typically published, accessibility to scientific content could be reduced, Davis said. 'It would be very bad news for science if the current model went away,' he added." (PS: Note to the press. Hold Davis to these criteria, and investigate for yourselves whether OA will raise costs for research institutions, lower the quality of research, or reduce access.)

Preview of new hybrid journal

In May, Future-Drugs will launch Therapy, a new peer-reviewed journal using the Walker-Prosser method of supporting OA. That is, authors will have the option to pay a processing fee and have OA to their articles or to pay no fee and have conventional toll access to their articles. Future-Drugs is a commercial publisher whose seven other journals are entirely toll-access. Hence, this is another example of a commercial publisher experimenting with OA.

Elsevier CEO criticizes OA

Dan Milmo, Reed forced to bite the free access bullet, The Guardian, February 20, 2004. Excerpt: "Reed Elsevier chief executive Crispin Davis issued a robust defence yesterday of the media group's scientific publishing arm as it faces a growing threat from free access internet sites....Mr Davis said the rival business model accounted for only 1% of the market and had not proved its viability. He added that, by limiting itself to online publishing, open access excluded 30% of global institutions using scientific research. 'Open access has the opposite impact. It reduces accessibility to global content.'...It is quite clear that, for research universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, the cost for them will go up quite significantly.'" (PS: A breathtaking example of FUD. I'm delighted to let the question turn on whether OA widens or narrows access and whether it raises or lowers costs for universities.)

Thursday, February 19, 2004

More on Elsevier's record profits and position on OA

If you want details on Reed Elsevier's record profits during 2003, then see its press release, PowerPoint slides, or webcast on the numbers. In the PPT presentation, see slide 32 for the vices of open access and slide 33 for the virtues of Elsevier. (Thanks to Gary Price.)

Economic arguments for the public domain

Stan Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis, Seventeen Famous Economists Weigh in on Copyright: The Role of Theory, Empirics, and Network Effects, AEI-Brookings Joint Center, January 2004. On the powerful but unavailing amicus brief by 17 economists, including five Nobel laureates, supporting Eric Eldred and opposing the extension of the term of copyright. Excerpt: "The economists contemned CTEA [the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act] on the grounds that the revenues earned during the extension are so heavily discounted that they have almost no value, while the extended protection of aged works creates immediate monopoly deadweight losses and increases the costs of creating new derivative works." (Thanks to Politech.)

OA momentum during 2003

Peter Suber, Open Access Builds Momentum, ARL Bimonthly Report 232, February 2004. Adapted from Open access in 2003, which first appeared SOAN for 1/2/04. I thank the Report editors, G. Jaia Barrett and Kaylyn Hipps, for the work of adapting it.

More on trade embargoes on scientific publications

Geoff Brumfiel, Publishers split over response to US trade embargo ruling, Nature, February 19, 2004. Quoting Fredun Hojabri, an Iranian chemist living in San Diego: "The ruling makes publication by Iranians in journals published in the United States practically impossible." Quoting Allan Adler, head of legal and government affairs at the Association of American Publishers: "The government should not be in the business of restricting this kind of first-amendment activity."

IFLA president on shrinking the public domain

Eva Pressl, Information Needs Are Legitimate, IFLA Net, February 17, 2004. An interview with IFLA President, Kay Raseroka, on the IFLA participation in the World Summit on the Information Society. Excerpt: "[T]here is a tendency that copyright is extended and surrendered to the forces of the free market. We think that this is wrong and unfair, because no information is created ab initio. People do not produce material from nothing, they use public good that is provided for example in libraries. And surely the moment copyright expires is the time to feed the products and research results back into the public domain. We are willing to wait for a certain period of copyright, a time span that enables authors to recoup their costs and generate profit. But the extension of copyright (for example that of Mickey Mouse) is destroying the public good and distorting the original intention of copyright. Maybe it is time to reintegrate the moral rights into copyright or (for all concerned) to ask the question of what is morally right in the area of access to information?" (Thanks to Gary Price.)

More on the OA challenge to Elsevier

Richard Wray, Open access threat to Reed's publishing empire, The Guardian, February 19, 2004. Excerpt: "There will be smiles all-round at Reed Elsevier today, with the Anglo-Dutch publishing group expected to report annual profits of more than £1bn for the first time in its long history. Yet again a strong set of results from the group's scientific and legal publishing divisions will have made up for continuing weakness in Reed's business and education markets. But storm clouds are gathering on the horizon. Reed's highly lucrative scientific publishing empire, which has a tradition stretching back to 1580, is under threat from the growth of a new system of publishing on the internet known as open access." Quoting Jan Velterop, publisher of BioMed Central: "The main difference between us and Reed is efficiency. Elsevier is cobbled together from a great many companies acquired over time. There is massive inefficiency in the system. We have started from complete scratch. We are a very much leaner and very much meaner machine."

More on trade embargoes on scientific publications

The American Chemical Society has decided to edit and publish articles by authors from Iran, Cuba, and other embargoed nations, contrary to a ruling by the U.S. Treasury Department. After the Treasury Department handed down its ruling in September 2003, the ACS adopted a temporary moratorium on papers from embargoed countries while it explored its options. But on Tuesday it decided to lift the moratorium. As part of its investigation the ACS talked to the president's science advisor, John Marburger III, members of Congress, and officials from the Treasury Department. The ACS is considering a challeng to the constitutionality of the ruling. Quoting Robert Bovenschulte, president of the ACS publications division: "Fundamentally, the moratorium put us at odds with our own ethical guidelines....It is, frankly, inimical to the advancement of science, which is a worldwide activity....The principle is that we should consider what to publish based upon its scientific merit, and that's it. Full stop." Quoting Mark Seely, a lawyer for Reed Elsevier: "This is a classic First Amendment, prior-restraint issue. We can't tell beforehand what's okay unless we apply to the government for permission to publish." Quoting Doug Campbell, spokesman for Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), who has introduced legislation to reverse the Treasury Department ruling: "The government should not be telling American citizens who they should and shouldn't talk to. It serves our interests to share information with people who live under oppressive regimes and hopefully, through that process promote democracy and rule of law." For more details, see Lila Guterman, Chemical Society Lifts Moratorium on Publishing Papers From Embargoed Countries, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 19, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers) and Kevin Coughlin, Chemists to accept reports from Iran, Newark Star-Ledger, February 19, 2004.

Reed Elsevier has record profits, responds to OA

Patrick Barrett, Reed revels in bumper profits, The Guardian, February 19, 2004. Excerpt: "Anglo-Dutch publisher giant Reed Elsevier enjoyed its most profitable year ever last year, recording profits of more than £1bn for the first time....Turnover for 2003 increased 1% to £4.925bn and the group reported strong growth from its science and medical business, where revenues were up 8%, and in its legal unit LexisNexis, where revenues rose 3%....Reed Elsevier executives are unlikely to be celebrating for long though. With growing interest in a new system of publishing scientific research papers called 'open access', where scientists pay for their work to be published and in return receive free access to journals, the company's lucrative scientific publishing business is being challenged....In a joint statement the Reed Elsevier chairman, Morris Tabaksblat, and the chief executive, Crispin Davis, said they saw no need to change. 'We remain firmly of the view that, whilst the market will always accommodate a variety of different initiatives and funding approaches, subscription-based journal publishing is the most effective and efficient way to deliver to researchers a huge volume of high quality peer reviewed research. We will however continue to monitor initiatives such as the 'author pays' publishing model and assess how effectively they serve the needs of the scientific and research communities.'"

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Digital format registry will make archives more useful

David Seaman, The Global Digital Format Registry, CLIR Issues, January/February 2004. Excerpt: "Academic institutions are beginning to create digital institutional repositories into which the intellectual capital of a college or university can be preserved for reuse --gathering up not just the articles and books of the completed scholarly endeavor but also the data sets, presentations, and course-related materials that faculty generate. As this process moves forward, it becomes obvious that these institutions also need to save information about the many computer formats in which this mass of material expressed itself." Also see the prototype registry hosted by the Harvard University Libraries.

Oxford encouraged by OA experiment, will continue

Oxford University Press is encouraged by the results of its experimental use of an OA business model for Nucleic Acids Research, a journal rated by ISI as one of the top 10 "hottest" of the decade in biology and biochemistry. The first stage of the experiment was to make the annual Database issue OA. The issue appeared last month with "a record number of peer-reviewed papers - 142 in total - with 90% of authors agreeing to pay the £300 author charge." OUP will continue the experiment with the annual Web Server issue, planned for July. Quoting Martin Richardson, Managing Director of the OUP Journals Division: "We are delighted with the results of our experiment so far. and whilst open access remains a young and economically unproven model for publishing research, as a University Press we are keen to take a leading role in responding to the changing needs of the research community. We entered this experiment in a spirit of careful exploration, eager to collect and analyse as much data as possible before deciding how to progress with OA. We are gaining valuable feedback from the author and subscriber communities, as well as tracking usage and citation data. Our first-hand experience is allowing us to better understand the challenges a publisher might face when transforming a journal from one business model to another....It's still early days, but as long as our experiments continue to receive the support of authors then NAR can continue to move towards an OA business model. The real test will come as we begin to increase the author charges to reflect the true publishing costs; by taking a staged approach we hope to work with authors, their institutions and funding bodies to explore how a transitional period would work."

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

PLoS founders nominated for Wired Rave Awards

The three founders of the Public Library of Science --Pat Brown, Mike Eisen, and Harold Varmus-- have been nominated for Wired Rave Awards, in the "scientist" category. Winners will be announced March 15 in the online edition of Wired Magazine.

First LOC database to be OpenURL-compliant

The Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS) is the first Library of Congress database to be OpenURL-compliant. (Thanks to Gary Price.)

Profile of the Medical Library Association

Patricia L. Thibodeau and Carla J. Funk, Quality Information for Improved Health, PLoS Biology, February 2004. A profile of the Medical Library Association and its commitment to open access.

Using OAI repositories for complex digital objects

Jeroen Bekaert, Lyudmila Balakireva, Patrick Hochstenbach, and Herbert Van de Sompel, Using MPEG-21 DIP and NISO OpenURL for the Dynamic Dissemination of Complex Digital Objects in the Los Alamos National Laboratory Digital Library, D-Lib Magazine, February 2004. Abstract: "This paper focuses on the use of NISO OpenURL and MPEG-21 Digital Item Processing (DIP) to disseminate complex objects and their contained assets, in a repository architecture designed for the Research Library of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. In the architecture, the MPEG-21 Digital Item Declaration Language (DIDL) is used as the XML-based format to represent complex digital objects. Through an ingestion process, these objects are stored in a multitude of autonomous OAI-PMH repositories. An OAI-PMH compliant Repository Index keeps track of the creation and location of all those repositories, whereas an Identifier Resolver keeps track of the location of individual complex objects and contained assets. An MPEG-21 DIP Engine and an OpenURL Resolver facilitate the delivery of various disseminations of the stored objects. While these aspects of the architecture are described in the context of the LANL library, the paper will also briefly touch on their more general applicability."

Fair pricing requires price transparency

Philip M. Davis, Fair Publisher Pricing, Confidentiality Clauses and a Proposal to Even the Economic Playing Field, D-Lib Magazine, February 2004. Abstract: "Fair pricing requires transparency in the marketplace. The use of confidentiality clauses may result in higher prices for all library consumers. This opinion piece advocates for the construction of a publicly available, SPARC and ARL endorsed database through which libraries can share price and licensing details. This article is based on a plenary speech at the Charleston Conference on Collection Development, November 7, 2003."

Plans for PLoS Medicine

An editorial by Barbara Cohen, PLoS Medicine, in PLoS Biology 2004(Feb); 2(2), outlines plans for the launch of PLoS Medicine in the autumn of 2004.

Monday, February 16, 2004

More on applying trade embargoes to scientific publications

On February 9, at the invitation of the IEEE, David Mills addressed a "summit" of scholarly publishers on the intersection of U.S. trade law and freedom of the press. Mills is the Treasury Department official in charge of licensing U.S. journals to edit articles by citizens of Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and other embargoed nations. The IEEE issued a press release after the meeting but did not summarize Mills' remarks beyond his use of diplomatic courtesies (e.g. that he welcomes dialog with IEEE). The IEEE has been fighting the application of trade embargoes to scientific publications since before Treasury Department ruling came down last September, but it has agreed to abide by the ruling that embargoes do apply. Also see the IEEE's web site on the controversy. (Thanks to Gary Price.)

New, improved DOAJ

On February 8, the DOAJ introduced a few improvements. (1) It's now OpenURL-compliant. (2) It has tweaked the user interface and added a useful subject tree. (3) It has tweaked its OAI server, adding DOAJ subject terms and LCC codes to the records and making each top-level subject a set.

Exemplary self-archiving policy at QUT

Only this week did I learn about the exemplary self-archiving policy at Queensland University of Technology. It was adopted last September, but took effect on January 1, 2004.

Material which represents the total publicly available research and scholarly output of the University is to be located in the University's digital or 'E-print' repository, subject to the exclusions noted. In this way it contributes to a growing international corpus of refereed and other research literature available on line, a process occurring in universities worldwide.

The following materials are to be included:

  • refereed research articles and contributions at the post-print stage (subject to any necessary agreement with the publisher);
  • refereed research literature at the pre-printed stage (with corrigenda added subsequently if necessary at the discretion of the author);
  • theses (as prepared for the Australian Digital Theses (ADT) process);
  • un-refereed research literature, conference contributions, chapters in proceedings, etc. [...]

Material to be commercialised, or which contains confidential material, or of which the promulgation would infringe a legal commitment by the University and/or the author, should not be included in the repository.

(Thanks to Carolyn Young.)

Amplifying the call to boycott expensive journals

Christopher A. Reed, Just Say No to Exploitative Publishers of Science Journals, Chronicle of Hgher Education, February 20, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "It's time for universities, en masse, to take their cue from these smaller-scale insurrections and to just say no to extortionate journal-subscription costs and pay-for-view access to electronic versions of back issues. That will require boldness among administrators and librarians, along with some 'bribing' of faculty members to change their behavior....Researchers don't think too much about that as long as their institutions pay. They like electronic access because of its desktop convenience and superior search capabilities. What's more, they advance their careers with appointments to editorial boards, and that has effectively silenced the scientific leadership from speaking out against the proliferation of overpriced journals, many of them not of the highest quality. The journals market is dysfunctional. Researchers do all the work, give away the product, and express almost no buying preferences. They see journals being paid for out of someone else's budget....While such restructuring of the scientific-journal culture might seem drastic, our present course is fiscally unsustainable and unconducive to the best and most efficient research." (PS: Reed seems unaware of the open access movement.)

Butterfly effect in OA eprint repositories

Jon Kleinberg, Cornell professor of computer science, is studying the propagation of influence by studying email lists, blog networks, and the arXiv repository of scientific eprints. Excerpt from the Cornell press release: "The researchers tested their algorithm [for identifying influential people] on another kind of network, the pattern of co-authorship in scientific papers. Their data pool was the online E-print Archive of physics and mathematics publications, commonly known as the arXiv, maintained by Cornell University Library. People were considered to be linked when they co-authored papers. The studies ignored any real-world information, such as whether two people might be at the same institution. In simulations Kleinberg and colleagues found that their method significantly outperformed methods that rely solely on counting links or measuring the distance between candidates and the rest of the network. Kleinberg also has been studying the way networks grow over time, working with David Liben-Nowell, a Ph.D. student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One goal is to try to predict where new links will form in a network. In the arXiv network, the researchers hypothesized that two people who haven't been linked would be likely to form a link if they are near one another in linkage terms. What they found, however, was that the number of hops was not the best measure of nearness. The reason, Kleinberg says, is the 'small world phenomenon' -- the fact that everyone is on average 'six degrees of separation' from everyone else -- so counting the number of hops between people doesn't help. 'It's better to look for people who have many different short paths connecting them,' he says. 'This is an interesting open question with a lot of room for further research.'" (PS: Yes, and this research will be relevant to building new and better metrics for the impact of OA research articles.)

Semantic web now a W3C standard

On February 10, the W3C approved the standards for RDF and OWL, the final components of the semantic web standard. See the detailed W3C press release or Frank Cervone's gentler introduction, W3C Delivers Standards for the "Semantic Web", Information Today, February 16, 2004.

OA needed to prevent "looming water crisis"

The International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO) have released a position paper, Harnessing Science and Technology for Sustainable Development: Water, Sanitation and Human Settlements, designed to set the stage for the upcoming Twelfth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (New York, April 19-30, 2004). Excerpt:
Strengthening the public domain for science and ensuring free and open access to scientific data and information are essential steps in the construction of an equitable information society and in preventing the looming water crisis. [...]

[E]ven where the hardware is available [to close the digital divide], scientific data and information in many areas are not universally and openly accessible. IPR regimes, data base protection legislation, and the cost of some scientific journals are still contributing to a very significant knowledge divide in science and technology in general and S&T for sustainable freshwater management in particular.

Barriers to research are also barriers to the benefits of research. The ICSU/WFEO paper is one of the first to be specific in connecting OA to the solution of an urgent public-health problem.

New issue of Open Access Now

The February 16 issue of Open Access Now is now online. This issue contains an interview with Richard Smith of BMJ, reflections from Hakan Leblebicioglu on editing an OA journal (Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials), and news stories on the WSIS call for OA and the conversion of the NIH journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, to OA.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Free article on human stem cells

An article, published online by Science on Feb. 12, 2004, on the topic Pluripotent Human Stem Cells from Somatic Nuclear Transfer, is freely accessible (with registration).

OA monitoring at Outsell

In Open Access Rumblings, February 13, 2004, Outsell notes three recent OA stories: (1) the MIT refusal to sign multi-year contracts with Elsevier and Wiley, (2) the declaration of independence at the Journal of Algorithms, and (3) the resolution adopted by the University of Connecticut Faculty Senate. Outsell's comment: "As we've predicted, the multifaceted revolt against big scholarly publishers and more frequent calls for Open Access alternatives have not abated....At many universities, the faculty and library have joined together in recognition that their collective weight can have a huge influence on the future of publishing practices. We're not yet to the point where any specific solutions are gaining critical mass, but we are clearly at a point where awareness of the issue is gathering steam as gaps and dysfunctionality in the current scholarly publications process become more visible."