Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Fair use week

March 1-5 was Fight for Fair Use Week.

JISC grants to support OA

JISC is providing £150,000 to "allow four key publishers to move towards or continue open access delivery for some of their journals." The publishers are the Public Library of Science (for PLoS Biology), the Institute of Physics Publishing (for the New Journal of Physics), Lancaster University (for the Journal of Experimental Botany), and the International Union of Crystallography (for all the IUCr journals). Excerpt from Friday's press release: "Three of the four awards will mean the waiving of submission fees for all UK authors, while the fourth --with the Public Library of Science-- will include a 50% discount on the first 40 papers from the UK published in PLoS journals. The programme is the first in a three-year programme designed to encourage as much open access delivery of research findings as possible. Another invitation to publishers to tender for the second round of funding in the programme will be issued in early April. Alongside this programme, JISC, together with the Open Society Institute has also co-funded an author survey. Important results from the survey include: 92% of all authors surveyed support the principle of open access for all readers. Secondly, of authors who have experienced in an open access journal, 71% are more likely to do so again as a result of their experience. The full findings of the report will be published on the JISC web site within the next week."

Digitization and OA for cultural heritage

Klaus Graf, Digitalisierung Alter Drucke, a presentation at a Cologne workshop, March 5, 2004. He argues for the importance of OA to cultural heritage collections. Also see his brief English summary.

Friday, March 05, 2004

More on Elsevier journals

A news item in the 6 March 2004 issue of BMJ is: US universities threaten to cancel subscriptions to Elsevier journals. Several people, including Peter Suber, and Eric Merkel-Sobotta, director of corporate relations at Elsevier, are quoted.

OpenCourseWare and MIT's "intellectual philanthropy"

Lisa Currin, MIT's Double-Secret Hidden Agenda, eLearn. March 4, 2004. Currin reviews the background and the scope of MIT's OpenCourseWare, quoting the 'tute's Ann Margulies who expresses the wish that other institutions follow their lead in making educational materials available to a wide audience over the internet. The article reports that MIT may have as much as 2000 courses represented by 2007. Several faculty members relate their experiences with the program, including Prof. Ron Larsen, who with others aims to "create an online forum where practitioners, professors, and students can ask questions and share solutions." (Source: the Kept-Up Academic Librarian)

Petition against scholarly publishing embargoes

Persian Watch Center (PWC), Petition in support of immediate reversal of US Government Policy on Publication Ban from Trade Embargoed Countries including IRAN. The PWC, an Iranian-American Anti-Discrimination Council, has posted a petition urging the overturning of the U.S. Treasury Office OFAC publiction embargo. To date the petition has over 4000 signatures. Prof. David N. Rahni of Pace University argues that Soviet scientists were not similarly censored "for having been born and worked in a country run by a political system we did not then favor," and that the flow of ideas between people in different countries favored eventual political change. Furthermore, Rahni points out:
According to a recent Science Watch , Iran has become the second country after Egypt in the Middle East (excluding Israel, which is substantially larger in volume) in terms of number of scientific publications, especially in chemistry, neuroscience, and materials science. In just the past 10 years, Iranian scholars have nearly quadrupled their previous records. Isn't it paradoxical to regressively penalize the youth, the scientists, and the progressive reform-minded elements there simply because we aspire to see a change in the political system?

Source: Library Juice

CIC report on scholarly communication

Committee on Institutional Cooperation, Report of the CIC Summit on Scholarly Communication in the Humanities and Social Sciences, CIC, December 2, 2003. While the report is dated December 2003, it was released in February 2004. The CIC consists of the Big Ten universities plus the University of Chicago. In this analysis of scholarly communication, the focus is on books and gives only secondary attention journals, e.g. as rising journal costs lead libraries to cut into their book budgets. Two speakers, John Unsworth (p. 6) and Paul Courant (p. 7), called for free online access, apparently to books as well as journals. (PS: Thanks to Colin Steele.)

More on the UK inquiry

The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has released the uncorrected transcript of oral evidence given on March 1 by Robert Campbell (Blackwell), Richard Charkin (Nature Publishing Group), John Jarvis (Wiley), Crispin Davis and Arie Jongejan (both Elsevier). "The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings. Any public use of, or reference to the contents should make clear that neither Members nor witnesses have had the opportunity to correct the record. If in doubt as to the propriety of using the transcript, please contact the Clerk to the Committee." (PS: This is important material. It just came out and I'm still looking for the time to read it.)

More on the UK inquiry

Katie Mantell, UK science publishers give open-access warning, SciDev.Net, March 5, 2004. On Monday's testimony by the large commercial publishers before the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Excerpt: "Some of Britain's leading scientific publishers have warned a parliamentary inquiry that open-access publishing could undermine the integrity of the world's top journals. They say that open-access models --in which journals give free access to their content but charge authors to publish research-- could reduce editorial standards. This is because many scientists would not be able to afford the high costs required to cover editorial processing and production costs in top journals. As a result, journals would be forced to publish lower-quality papers, or favour more wealthy authors." Quoting Crispin Davis, CEO of Elsevier: "We think that the present model has served the scientific community very well --people often underestimate that." (PS: Will OA journals exclude the poor? No. Will they be forced to publish lower-quality papers or favor more wealthy authors? No. Has the present model served the scientific community well? No.)

Call for self-archiving

Katie Mantell, 'Self-archiving' urged for developing world scientists, SciDev.Net, March 5, 2004. On a widely distributed letter by Subbiah Arunachalam, Leslie Chan, and Barbara Kirsop, calling on authors from developing countries to self-archive. Excerpt from the SciDev article: "Many current initiatives to free up access to scientific research focus on the development of open-access journals, which provide free online access to users, normally covering their costs by charging scientists to publish their research. The authors of the letter welcome this as a long-term strategy. But they add that for those in the developing world who cannot wait, it is better to encourage researchers to archive their published research in institutional archives." (PS: This call is exactly right, but shouldn't be misunderstood as applying only to scientists and scholars from the developing world. Self-archiving benefits all researchers. If the concept is new to you, see the Self-Archiving FAQ.)

More on the science editing embargo

Lila Guterman, Congressman Says Treasury Department's Restrictions on Publishers Violate Law, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 5, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "Scholarly publishers' plight under trade embargoes has captured the attention of a Congressman. Rep. Howard L. Berman, a California Democrat, wrote to the U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday decrying its position that simple editing represents a prohibited service to authors in embargoed countries....Mr. Berman is the author of an amendment to the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 that exempted 'information and informational materials' from economic embargoes. But the foreign-assets-control office, known as OFAC, subsequently took a stricter view, exempting only 'information and informational materials' that had been 'fully created' by people in the embargoed countries and had received no 'substantive or artistic alteration or enhancement' in the United States....Mr. Berman wrote to OFAC's director, R. Richard Newcomb, that the office's interpretations of the Berman Amendment 'are clearly inconsistent with both the letter and spirit of the law' and called the restriction on editing 'patently absurd.'...Mr. Berman said that he would consider new legislation if OFAC does not reconsider. 'I feel strongly about this and intend to see it through,' he said."

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Canadian Supreme Court rules for plaintiff in copyright case

CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada, 2004 SCC 13. The Canadian Supreme Court upheld the appeal of the Law Society of Upper Canada which was sued by several legal publishers for having photocopiers in its research library and maintaining a photocopy distribution service "in person, by mail or by facsimile transmission" for the society's members. Excerpt from the court ruling:
"Research" must be given a large and liberal interpretation in order to ensure that users' rights are not unduly constrained, and is not limited to non-commercial or private contexts. Lawyers carrying on the business of law for profit are conducting research within the meaning of s. 29. The following factors help determine whether a dealing is fair: the purpose of the dealing, the character of the dealing, the amount of the dealing, the nature of the work, available alternatives to the dealing, and the effect of the dealing on the work. Here, the Law Society's dealings with the publishers' works through its custom photocopy service were research-based and fair. The access policy places appropriate limits on the type of copying that the Law Society will do. If a request does not appear to be for the purpose of research, criticism, review or private study, the copy will not be made. If a question arises as to whether the stated purpose is legitimate, the reference librarian will review the matter. The access policy limits the amount of work that will be copied, and the reference librarian reviews requests that exceed what might typically be considered reasonable and has the right to refuse to fulfill a request.

Some have remarked that this ruling constitutes a balance between user's rights and commercial interests. (Source: Interesting-People via Boing Boing Blog)

Science reader writes funds for author payments out of reach for non-U.S. scientists

Peter Celec, Open Access and Those Lacking Funds, Science 303(5663), 1467 (5 March 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) A Slovakian scientist comments on the lack of funds available to support author publication charges in his country, in contrast to U.S. scientists whom he says can draw upon funding bodies and/or their respective institutions; "I will have to read the articles from PLoS Biology--for free--and try to publish my work in Science or Nature--also for free."

JCI editor: "Open access already exists"

Ushma Savla, Open Access Already Exists, Science 303(5663), 1467 (5 March 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) The executive editor of the Journal of Clinical Investigation responds to recent press coverage on the one hand touting PLoS and BioMed Central as novel open-access experiments and on the other questioning the viability of open access journals. JCI has been open access since 1996 and Savla notes its high impact factor (14.051) for 2002. He writes that, to confront the inertia in the publishing industry, authors will need to think about what costs they might have to assume and what gains might they receive from an increased audience.

More on database bill stalemate

Andy Sullivan, US database-protection bill stalls in Congress, Reuters (via,) 03.03.04. Sullivan's report provides a few more details, illustrating how the Energy and Commerce committee "gave a negative recommendation" to the Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act, while voting for its own bill. "House Republican leaders now must choose between two sharply contrasting bills, a situation that could effectively kill both of them, several lobbyists opposing the measure said." Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), one of the proponents of the newly-introduced Consumer Access to Information Act, reportedly said that the DCIMA could, by placing serious restrictions on data and facts, could significantly hamper scientific research. "While the differences may be nuanced to many of us, the consequences could be disastrous," he was quoted. Evidently, the new bill emphasizes protection of "highly time-sensitive information, like stock quotes." However, one legislator complained that the bill approved by Energy and Commerce would provide insufficent protection for commercial databases. (Source: The Virtual Chase)

Conflict between house committees over extent of database legislation

Declan McCullagh, Weaker database bill gets House committee vote, CNET, March 3, 2004. McCullagh reports that the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a "limited version of a database bill," introduced on March 2. The committee reviewed H.R. 3872, "To prohibit the misappropriation of databases while ensuring consumer access to factual information," a.k.a. Consumer Access to Information Act of 2004. It appears to be a modified version of the bill approved by the House Judiciary Committee, namely the Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act (H.R. 3261), very likely in repsonse to opposition expressed by the Computer & Communications Industry Association, Google and other tech companies. The text of H.R. 3872 is about one-third the size of its counterpart, stating that the legislation prohibits other parties using ("free-riding on") another person's efforts and expenditures compiling a database and using the "information in direct competition with a product or service offered by the first person," and lacks the extensive sections on permissions and liabilities characteristic of the DCIMA. The fate of either piece of legislation now rests with the House Rules Committee, according to McCullagh. (Source: beSpacific).

NZ government buying journal access for 100 physicians

Two New Zealand government agencies are paying for 100 NZ general practitioners to have free online access to Clinical Evidence, a priced journal from the BMJ Publishing Group. The two organizations are PHARMAC, the NZ government drug funding agency, and the Accident Compensation Corporation, the agency administering NZ's injury compensation system. The free access is a pilot program administered by the New Zealand Guidelines Group, which is currently soliciting interest from NZ physicians. For more details, see the press release.

HINARI overview

Barbara Aronson, Improving Online Access to Medical Information for Low-Income Countries, New England Journal of Medicine, March 4, 2004. An overview of the HINARI program. Excerpt: "Over the past two years, the World Health Organization (WHO) has worked with publishing improve online access to scientific resources as a way of supporting health professionals, medical researchers, and academics in developing countries. WHO helped to create the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI), which offers health and medical institutions in 69 of the world's lowest-income countries free online access to a large library of important international journals. This initiative has been expanded to include an additional 44 countries that qualify for access to the journals at a very low price. To date, 47 publishers from all streams of scientific publishing have joined HINARI to offer access to more than 2300 journals and other full-text resources. A total of 1043 institutions in 100 countries (of a total of 113 eligible countries) have registered for the program. Institutions in countries with a per-capita gross national product (GNP) of less than $1,000 receive free access to the journals (see Table). Institutions in countries with a per-capita GNP of $1,000 to $3,000 pay $1,000 per year. These institutions include national universities, professional schools, research institutes, teaching hospitals, and government offices. All staff members and students are entitled to this access."

Preserving and accessing digital science

Gail Hodge and Evelyn Frangakis, Digital Preservation and Permanent Access to Scientific Information: The State of the Practice, ICSTI and CENDI, February 2004. (Non-ICSTI members will have to register to see the report.) Excerpt: "This report focuses on operational digital preservation systems specifically in science and technology (S&T). It considers the wide range of digital objects of interest to S&T, including e-journals, technical reports, e-records, project documents, scientific data, etc....The OAIS Reference Model, which became an ISO standard in June 2003, has been adopted widely. All types of archives use the OAIS terminology and conceptual model. However, it is not as prevalent in the scientific data community for which it was initiated, partly because these organizations already had systems, customers, producers, and processes of a legacy nature. Efforts are underway among some data archives to minimally ingest Submission Information Packages (SIPs) and to produce Dissemination Information Packages (DIPs) in order to respond to the spirit of the standard. As systems are redesigned and the need for interoperability increases, it is likely that the OAIS Model will become more prevalent as the conceptual basis for scientific archives....[One job for the future:] Analyze the impact of Open Access (including author self-archiving), institutional repositories, and e-Science initiatives on digital preservation and permanent access, and identify a framework in which all these initiatives can be successfully achieved." Section 4.4.1 of the report gives a brief history of the OA movement and its implications for preservation. (PS: Note to the authors: my name is "Suber", not "Stuber".)

More on applying trade embargoes to scientific editing

Allan Adler and Marc Brodsky, OFAC's Interpretation of IEEPA's "Informational Materials" Exemption, AAP, January 23, 2004. An open letter analyzing the "information materials" exemption in the trade embargo statute (International Emergency Economic Powers Act or IEEPA) and arguing that editing scientific articles should fall within the exemption. (Thanks to Politech.)

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

More on Creative Commons licensing and independent publishing

Annalee Newitz, Some Rights Reserved, San Francisco Bay Guardian (February 25, 2004). A news article points out benefits of alternative copyright arrangements such as those offered by Creative Commons. The success of Cory Doctorow's novels is given as an example, as well as comments from sympathetic publishers such as the University of California Press. Newitz includes some background from recent publishing history and illustrates parallels with the Free Software Foundation. The Public Library of Science's CC licenses are noted. While Newitz's report generally lauds the "some rights reserved" model, some opposing viewpoints are presented, expressing confusion about how revenue would be sustained, or just stating comfort with traditional copyright models and permissions. (Source: Creative Commons: weblog)

Find works licensed with Creative Commons

Creative Commons, RDF-enhanced search PROTOTYPE. Now here's an interesting resource discovery tool. It searches for works licensed with Creative Commons. The search interface is rather primitive, but enables one to limit to media or format (e.g. video,audio). Moreover, the user can select "I want to make commercial use" and/or "I want to create derivative works" to further restrict search results. While the accuracy of searches is not yet clear, it can pull up some heretofore unseen and interesting (to say nothing of open) sites. (Source: creative Commons: weblog)

The IU faculty resolution on journal prices and open access

The resolution adopted by the Indiana University Bloomington Faculty Council on February 27 is online at IU. Excerpts:

Faculty and staff may wish to separate themselves from publishers whose business practices do not support open access. This could be done by withholding publications from their journals or choosing not to sit on their editorial boards.

Such a change in our university and departmental perspective will have many ramifications in our scholarly culture, since publication is a core value in our research and creative activities. In tenure and promotion decisions faculty and staff must be confident that there is departmental and university support for their decisions to publish in referred journals with more open access. [...]

[The Faculty Council] calls on all faculty, staff, and students of Indiana University Bloomington to work toward a more open publishing system by increasing their support of existing refereed journals and publishers whose practices are consistent with open access to scholarly communication and to support those who make such choices when considering tenure and promotion[.]

(Thanks to Corey Murata for the link to the resolution.)

More on Amazon's Search Inside the Book

Michael Banks, Amazon Opens the Books, Online, March 3, 2004. A good introduction to Amazon's Search Inside the Book service. Excerpt: "Ask serious, long-time researchers to name the most valuable benefit of Web access and they'll cite the ability to search the content of books, periodicals, newsletters, and newspapers. Such access has eliminated untold hours of paging through hardcopies and greatly enhanced information gathering. Of the categories of text publications made available online, books have lagged behind magazines and newspapers in full-text availability....Publishers currently collaborating in this project will be adding more books, and reports inquiries from dozens more publishers. This is the result of an increase in sales brought about by the search tool. The company has tracked a 9 percent increase in sales of books included in the 'Search Inside' database....Even with its limitations, for researchers, this new 'selling tool' stands alone as a truly invaluable information resource."

Indiana University is next

The Indiana University at Bloomington Faculty Council adopted a resolution yesterday encouraging faculty to support affordable and open-access journals. So far I have only the scanty details in Chris Freiberg, Council approves code revisions, Indiana Digital Student News, March 3, 2004. If anyone has the text of the resolution, please send me a copy.

PLoS profile

Helen Doyle, The Public Library of Science: Open access from the ground up, College & Research Library News, March 2004. Excerpt: "Despite the recent spike in press coverage, conference symposia, and electronic list discussions dedicated to the subject, open-access publishing is not a new concept or a nascent revolution. Both the idea and the practice of providing free access to scholarly literature in widely available; searchable archives have a long, rich history. In a sense then, the current spate of international interest in open access might be seen as a number of parallel movements, which are converging and gathering momentum due to a variety of forces, both internal and external to the scholarly publishing system. The Public Library of Science (PLoS), a relatively new player on the open access scene, is one piece of a dynamic and complex landscape of organizations, policies, beliefs, myths, constraints, and ideals about open access and scholarly publishing. As an open-access publisher and advocacy organization, PLoS is steadfast in its commitment to making the scientific and medical literature a public resource, so that anyone with access to the Internet can read and use the scientific discoveries that are generated through research largely funded with public monies. PLoS is also unwavering in its belief that such a system will better serve the scientific community, the public, agencies that fund research, universities and research institutions, and ultimately, the scholarly publishers themselves (though not perhaps with the profit levels enjoyed by some commercial publishers)."

Accessing and preserving data

Tony Hey and Anne Trefethen, The Data Deluge: An e-Science Perspective, forthcoming in F. Berman et al. (eds.), Grid Computing, Wiley. The preprint is on Hey's web site. Abstract: "This paper previews the imminent flood of scientific data expected from the next generation of experiments, simulations, sensors and satellites. In order to be exploited by search engines and data mining software tools, such experimental data needs to be annotated with relevant metadata giving information as to provenance, content, conditions and so on. The case for automating the process of going from raw data to information to knowledge is briefly discussed. The paper argues the case for creating new types of digital libraries for scientific data with the same sort of management services as conventional digital libraries in addition to other data-specific services. Some likely implications of both the Open Archives Initiative and e-Science data for the future role for university libraries are briefly mentioned. A substantial subset of this e-Science data needs to archived and curated for long-term preservation. Some of the issues involved in the digital preservation of both scientific data and of the programs needed to interpret the data are reviewed. Finally, the implications of this wealth of e-Science data for the Grid middleware infrastructure are highlighted."

Also see Why engage in e-science? Library Information Update, March 2004, an anonymous commentary on the Hey-Trefethen article. Excerpt: "Librarians may not have noticed, but there is a revolution going on - the democratisation of science. This is a sub-agenda of the campaign to persuade researchers to deposit their research results in open access archives. It is not all about breaking commercial publishers' monopoly of copyright in scientific journals. It means that someone who didn't do the original research will be able to analyse someone else's data and even win the Nobel Prize, using that data. And it reflects the fact that, in science and engineering, at least, the data changes. This creates its own challenges, because research databases have complex metadata and you need to make sure that the metadata also changes appropriately - which is where librarians come in."

Wired considers the database legislation

Kim Zetter, Hands Off! That Fact Is Mine, Wired News, March 3, 2004. The Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act has drawn widespread opposition, as reported here and elsewhere, because of its implications for the potential monopolization of factual and public domain material. Zetter notes that the bill will be reviewed by the U.S. House commerce committee on Thursday. Proponents of the act include "the Software and Information Industry Association; Reed Elsevier ...; and Westlaw..." Joe Rubin, an executive director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, remarks on the bill's opponents (which include Yahoo, Google, library organizations and a variety of investment firms): "'All of the companies opposed to the bill produce some of the most massive databases in the world, yet they feel they already have adequate protections for them.'"

IEEE launches its first free online journal

The IEEE has launched an OA edition of its five-year old subscription-based journal, Distributed Systems. It appears that the OA edition, which is the IEEE's first free online publication, is only a subset of the monthly priced edition.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Presentations on interoperability and repositories

The presentations from the conference, Breaking Boundaries: Integration and Interoperability (Melbourne, February 3-5, 2004), are now online.

More on the embargo of scientific editing

John Dudley Miller, Publishers steamed by US ban, The Scientist, March 2, 2004. Excerpt: "Most scientific societies are defying or ignoring the rule, which applies to all US publications. Theoretically, their refusal exposes their editors and officers to fines of up to $50,000 and 10 years or more in jail, should the government decide to prosecute, which so far it has not done. A number of technical and general publishers are considering suing to overturn the long-overlooked federal regulation behind the ruling, and many scientific groups are considering donating substantially to that cause. But a Treasury Department official in the center of the fracas told The Scientist that he favors a new reinterpretation that would please all sides."

Lessig on the Eldred argument

Lawrence Lessig, How I Lost the Big One, Legal Affairs, March/April 2004. Lessig's first-person account of the oral argument before the Supreme Court in Eldred v. Ashcroft. Lessig's many well-wishers tell him that the case was unwinnable. But after a year's reflection, he disagrees. He offers fascinating detail on how he constructed his argument, with one eye on the particular judges he would face in court and another on his own reading of the constitution. He's very hard on himself: "Honey, I shrunk the Constitution." (Thanks to Internet Law News.)

C&EN readers decry publishing embargoes

Scientific Censorship, Chemical and Engineering News 82(9), 4-5 (March 1, 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) Two letters in the latest Chemical and Engineering News express incredulity and disapproval of the U.S. Treasury Department OFAC rulings. C.A. Carroll remarks: "Contact with the scientific and intellectual members of those hostile countries can only demonstrate the advantages of free and open exchanges." And Cecil A. Fox points to scientific advances in countries such as Cuba, "in cancer therapeutics, in pediatric vaccines, and in humanized monoclonals" that American researchers cannot access. Fox classifies the OFAC decision as "blind ignorance" and muses: "By comparison, the Luddites were enlightened activists."

"...the current model is breaking up"

From Outsell's e-briefs for February 27, 2004: "Not a week goes by without new actions and declarations within the academic world regarding the serials crisis and the growing willingness of libraries to push back on major publishers offering unattractive bundled access deals. What's new now is that the resistance (and the attendant support for open access alternatives) is moving up and out of the library to higher levels of university administration. Explicit criticisms of traditional publishers are often part of these declarations - particularly Elsevier, which continues to be the lightning rod for academia's frustrations. This week's latest examples: - William Destler, Provost of the University of Maryland, issued a statement of support for the actions of the university's libraries in canceling access to bundled collections in order to retain the ability to cancel specific Elsevier titles. - The Faculty Senate at Stanford University adopted a resolution supporting library moves to cancel some subscriptions and encouraging faculty to withhold articles from certain publishers. There is increasing solidarity among the libraries whose budgets are in the middle of the crisis, the faculties whose members contribute the content, and the university administrators who wind up paying the bills. They are taking action to regain control over the millions they spend on content, even at the short-term cost of disrupted consortial deals. Whether or not open access ultimately gains ground as an alternative, it's clear that the current model is breaking up."

Editorial supports Lofgren bill

What copy rights? An unsigned editorial in the March 2 Mercury News. Excerpt: "A record of 0-3 in the courts is not heartening; for copyright reformers, it's a signal to turn up the heat in Washington. If the courts won't uphold consumers' rights, then Congress, which created the problem by passing a bad copyright law, must. Three times in the past three years, federal courts have banned the distribution of technologies that let consumers make copies of the digital works that they own....In both cases, the judges upheld the law but provoked a bigger question: What can consumers do when copyright holders deny them basic rights, like making personal copies, that they have had in the non-digital world with videotapes, records and books? Apparently not much....Last year, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren of San Jose introduced a bill that would explicitly allow purchasers of digital works to use them in the same ways that courts have said they could use videotapes and records. The latest court decision should prod Congress to get off the dime and pass it."

Bodleian will improve online records of print journals

The Bodleian Library will use a $1.14 million grant from the Mellon foundation to improve the free online bibliographic records of the 110,00 print journals in its unmatched collection. See the details in the January issue of CURL News.

SHERPA overview

Bill Hubbard, SHERPA: Opening Access to UK Research, CURL News, January 2004. An introduction to SHERPA for UK librarians, by the project director. Excerpt: "Each partner in the project is building its own repository to house the research findings of its own academic members of staff. By adopting OAI-PMH metadata standards for these eprint repositories...these records can be cross-searched along with those of other institutions' repositories. This is an immensely powerful ability, as it delivers quality-marked research findings, free, immediate and direct to an academic's desktop. Search services are provided by so-called 'service providers'. Since they only look at registered repositories, the search results are not clogged by the thousands of junk results that plague normal web-based search-engine results. In this way, e-prints of research papers can be searched and read by academics worldwide, facilitating the wide and rapid dissemination of research. Researchers are able to disseminate their material quickly and easily into their subject communities and in return, their work is built on and cited."

OA database on geriatrics

The University of South Carolina has launched GeriatricWeb, a peer-reviewed, open-access database of medical literature on geriatrics. USC built the database with a grant from the National Library of Medicine, which paid for the labor of six people over 18 months. For more background, see Jon Turner's story in the USC student newspaper for March 1.

Big publishers testify in the UK inquiry

David Hencke, Science journal publishers defend profits, The Guardian, March 2, 2004. On the first session of oral testimony before the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. This session heard from the large commercial publishers. Next week, the supporters of OA will have their chance. Excerpt: "The biggest publishers of scientific journals last night defended their huge profits, in front of MPs, against the rising challenge of new 'open access' internet publishing....They were facing critical questions from the Commons science and technology committee under Dr Ian Gibson, Labour MP for Norwich North, about overcharging for journals and having a monopoly over publications. MPs were also pressing them about the challenge from free articles available on the internet - which are paid for by the authors....All the publishers warned that if the system changed it would mean lower standards, the end of peer review and scientists having to rely on patronage from their universities - since it could cost up to £30,000 to publish each paper. Mr Campbell [of Blackwell] and Mr Davies [of Elsevier] said that institutions such as Oxford, Yale, Stanford and Imperial College, London, would be faced with huge bills to subsidise their staff so they could publish their work." (PS: Did they really say £30,000 per paper? Do they think this obvious exaggeration will be more credible to the committee than the testimony next week from PLoS and BMC on the actual costs? On the peer review smear, see my detailed response.)

New issue of SOAN

I just mailed the March issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. In addition to the usual round-up of news and bibliography from the past month, it takes a close look at the priorities for the OAI community, the argument that OA accommodates the explosive growth in knowledge better than toll access, and the objection that the upfront funding model corrupts peer review at OA journals.

Monday, March 01, 2004

More skepticism on OA

Les Grivell, Access for all? EMBO Reports 5, 222-225 (2004). Grivel considers the OA movement, giving weight to questions of whether changes to copyright law would harm the scientific enterprise, why OA journals have not yet become as cited and established as their toll counterparts, what may hinder authors to self-archive, and whether the movement to OA will be more gradual than proponents urge.

More on Cornell's Internet-First University Press

Scott Carlson, Cornell Tries a New Publishing Model: Scholarship on Demand, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 5, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "Cornell University has started a publishing venture that will provide scholarly publications online free, offering readers the option to pay for a printed copy. Officials at Cornell hope that the publishing model will be one that other colleges will adopt, reducing their dependence on costly journals and trimming the need for storage space. The project, called the Internet-First University Press, is one of the first to utilize DSpace, a free software tool designed by programmers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to archive scholarly works....One of the press's main challenges, Mr. Cooke says, is convincing faculty members that the Internet model of publishing is just as valuable as publishing in established journals. All of the professors who have signed on so far are tenured, Mr. Cooke says, adding that he used his status as a former dean of the faculty to win them over."

Will Columbia be next?

The Columbia University Senate heard a report last Friday on the rising costs of scholarly publications, but has not yet considered any action. See Megan Greenwell, CU Senate Postpones Resolution Yet Again, Columbia Spectator, March 1, 2004.

More on the Web Citation Index

Barbara Quint, Thomson ISI to Track Web-Based Scholarship with NEC's CiteSeer, Information Today, March 1, 2004. Excerpt: "With the Open Access movement bringing Web-based scholarship to increased prominence, leading A&I services that have long provided the access tools to identify scholarship face new challenges. Thomson ISI, a longtime leader in netting scholarship, primarily through citation patterns, has launched a new initiative to handle this problem. It will collaborate with NEC Laboratories America to create a comprehensive, multidisciplinary citation index for Web-based scholarly resources. Due out in early 2005, the new Web Citation Index will tap a number of technologies developed by NEC, primarily the 'autonomous citation indexing' tools of NEC's CiteSeer software. CiteSeer has been highly praised for its strength at monitoring and connecting research for computer literature." The new service will index OA journals as well as OA archives, and embrace journal articles, preprints, conference proceedings, technical reports. Some but not all of the results will be available to users free of charge.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

OA for cultural heritage archives

Klaus Graf, Open Access für Archivalien, Archivalia, February 17, 2004. Reflections on OA for cultural heritage archives, including reflections on copyright issues. Read the original German or Google's English.