Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Journal reprint of mental health statement on OA

Pritpal S. Tambar, Galvanising mental health research in low- and middle-income countries: the role of scientific journals, Annals of General Hospital Psychiatry, March 1, 2004. Tambar uses the editorial space in this issue to reprint the public statement with the same title issued by 25 journal editors and the WHO on January 2004 in Geneva. One of the statement's recommendations is for journals to "participate in electronic dissemination initiatives or provision of free/open access through the journal's website."

New Bioline eprint archive for developing country bioscience

Bioline International has launched the Bioline International EPrints Repository, an open-access, OAI-compliant archive for bioscience, especially from developing countries.

More on the California eScholarship Repository OA journals

Jondi Gumz, University offers faculty alternatives for publishing research, Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 13, 2004. Excerpt: "Now there’s an alternative for faculty members who say their campuses can't afford skyrocketing prices for scholarly journals. The University of California is expanding its eScholarship Repository to include peer-reviewed journals online, giving faculty a less expensive way to publish their research and provide scholars worldwide with free access to their findings. The move came in response to complaints last fall by faculty that rising subscription costs were burdensome in light of budget cuts."

University of Utah feeling the pinch

Andrew Kirk, Library Struggles to afford journals, the University of Utah Daily Utah Chronicle, March 11, 2004. Excerpt: "About 25 years ago, academic societies began handing the publication of their journals over to commercial presses. The publishers then began steadily raising the prices of those journals. According to a coalition of academic libraries in Utah, many publishers have become monopolies, causing the prices to increase five times faster than the average rate of inflation over the past decade....Now, thanks to media attention the issue is receiving, researchers are working together with the library to oppose the monopolies....The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, which [Library director Sara] Michalak helped found, encourages competition in the communication market by sponsoring alternative forms of publishing, such as new journals.....Many researchers, especially in biomedical fields, participate in the alternative journals because they believe in broad access to information, she said."

More written testimony for the UK inquiry

The Electronic Publishing Trust for Development (EPT) has put its written testimony for the UK inquiry online.

Friday, March 12, 2004

More on the Royal Society position on OA

David Dickson, UK's Royal Society urges caution on open access, SciDev.Net, March 12, 2004. Excerpt: The Royal Society "has endorsed a call by the international InterAcademy Panel ? of which it is a member ? that researchers in developing countries should be given immediate free access to electronic version of all articles appearing in scientific journals, and that those elsewhere should enjoy such access one year after publication. But it cautions that a full-scale shift to open-access models of publication, in which the production costs of journals are covered by the authors of the papers they publish rather than the users of this information, could raise many dangers. For example, it says that research funding organisations ? of which the Royal Society is itself one ? might have to reduce the amount of research they could support...."

Opinion article on long-term digitial preservation

Frederick Miller, Disposable Scholarship, EDUCAUSE Quarterly 27(1), 2004. Miller discusses the imperatives for preservation of digitial material, remarking the trends towards licensing rather than purchasing content, the growth of digital information and the range and complexity of formats, and pointing towards potential solutions that "include open-source software such as DSpace from MIT and commercial products such as Documentum's Digital Asset Management capabilities." Finally he asks what might be useful strategies to employ technology to further education and research while avoiding a cascade of increasingly obsolete digital data. (Source: The Kept-Up Librarian)

Yahoo-OAIster agreement

Yahoo and OAIster have announced a win-win collaboration. An OA repository developed by OAIster will be indexed by Yahoo, increasing the visibility of the repository content and increasing the size and usefulness of the Yahoo index. (PS: Some of this material is undoubtedly in the Yahoo index already, not to mention the Google index. Yahoo is not getting as much new content as it seems, let alone exclusive access to that content. Yahoo is getting is a little new content but, above all, better metadata for that content and a regular feed from OAIster that makes crawling unnecessary. What OAIster gets is a little new exposure but, above all, better metadata for that exposure and more frequent and guaranteed refreshment within the Yahoo index. Thanks to Gary Price for a background conversation that helped me see the real win-win deal behind the hyped win-win deal.)

More on the Web Citation Index (ISI-Citeseer collaboration)

Vincent Kiernan, New Database to Track Citations of Online Scholarship, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 12, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "Colleges frequently evaluate scholars in terms of how often their work is cited and whether they have published it in journals that are highly cited in general. Some departments have gone as far as to tout the collective 'impact factors' of their faculty members, and college libraries have used the citation statistics in deciding on whether to subscribe to expensive scholarly journals. However, scholars have complained that the lack of similar information about citations of online papers has discouraged them and their colleagues from disseminating their papers online, whether on Web sites and preprint servers or in repositories of papers that have not yet been peer-reviewed. The new database may encourage the use of preprint servers, which are databases containing the full texts of papers that have not yet passed formal peer review, and other online venues for scholarly research because scholars will be able to document the impact their work has had on others, said Mary Case, director of the scholarly-communication office at the Association of Research Libraries."

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 8 by Julia King (Institute of Physics), Sally Morris (ALPSP), Martin Richardson (Oxford University Press), Nigel Goddard (Axiope), Vitek Tracz (BioMed Central), and Harold Varmus (PLoS). "Any public use of, or reference to, the contents [of this uncorrected transcript] should make clear that neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings." (PS: This is the pro-OA testimony to supplement the generally anti-OA testimony given on March 1.)

OA to ancient manuscripts

Sarah Gauch, At a Mountain Monastery, Old Texts Gain Digital Life, New York Times, March 4, 2004 (free registration required). Greek Orthodox monks are digitizing and providing OA to 3,300 manuscripts (1.8 million pages of fragile and deteriorating paper) housed at the sixth-century Monastery of St. Catherine in Mount Sinai, Egypt.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

SHERPA climbs past expiring RoMEO

Project SHERPA has launched its edition of the index of publisher policies on copyright and self-archiving that we formerly knew as a table maintained by Project RoMEO. The table is still online, but RoMEO's funding has expired. The SHERPA edition will pick up where the RoMEO edition left off and continue to add updates. Moreover, it is now a searchable database. When you search for a publisher, or browse the list of publishers, you'll notice that SHERPA has retained the RoMEO color code. (PS: I recommend the SHERPA edition starting now. But it will take me some time to change RoMEO links to SHERPA links throughout my site.)

Japanese scientists in search of greater readership

Dennis Normile, Japan Ponders Starting a Global Journal, Science 303 (5664), 1559 (12 March 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) Normile reports on Japanese scientists' views that they can increase recognition of their research through publication of interdisciplinary, international journals from Japan. They point out that many Japanese scientific papers are published in U.S. journals, where the scientists are not party to the review process, and that meanwhile Japanese journals have suffered. It is not clear if such proposed journals would be open access. Normile points out that Japanese research has been widely disseminated through the J-STAGE (Japan Science and Technology Information Aggregator) web site, through which Japan's scientific societies make many of their publications open access; for one journal, Cell Structure and Function, it was stated that 92% of the online readership read the journal freely from abroad. However, one of the scientists quoted expresses skepticism about the launching of new journals and suggests that their proponents look to Nature and Science to see why they have an ongoing subscription and revenue stream.

Solid approaches to OA for libraries

Elaine Nowick and Claudine Arnold Jenda, Libraries Stuck in the Middle: Reactive vs. Proactive Responses to the Science Journal Crisis, Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship 39 (Winter 2004). Nowick and Jenda summarize library responses to the crisis in scholarly publishing costs and cite what they deem most useful approaches. They point how unsustainable costs limit scientists' access to each other's work. The authors praise recent library cancellations of expensive journals but are less enthusiastic about consortium purchases, saying they "are just another way of delaying the inevitable time when commercial publishers will again out-price the collective budgets and buying power of consortia as a whole." Laudable publishing models include library and scholar partnerships such as the Journal of Insect Science; low-cost alternatives either initiated by scholarly societies alone or in cooperation with SPARC; and open-access initiatives such as PLoS and BioMed Central. Library and scholar educational efforts, such as informing scholars about copyright alternatives and principles outlined in, for example, SPARC's Create Change, are highly touted. Nevertheless, the authors call for changes in the tenure and promotion system and a general change in librarian and scholar attitudes towards the publishing system from passive roles to active ones. (Source: The (sci-tech) Library Question)

Chicago Tribune editorializes against scholarly publishing embargoes

A license to traffic in ideas, Chicago Tribune, March 11, 2004. (Requires registration.) The newspaper considers the OFAC embargoes question, pointing out that, beginning in 1988, in cases of economic sanctions against other nations, Congress made an exception to "'information and informational materials,'" understanding that such free flow of information "is one of the best weapons in the American arsenal to spread freedom and combat tyranny." The law governing this is called the Berman Amendment, after its sponsor Rep. Howard Berman of California, who criticized the OFAC decision. The Tribune urges that the ruling "be abandoned," stating: "The professional editing of a book or scientific paper, however, hardly qualifies as providing aid to the enemy. Moreover, the prospect of a publisher being required to apply to the government for a license to edit a book is a chilling attack on freedom of speech." (Source: My Computational Complexity Web Log)

Providing OA to articles about OA

I've just worked out an arrangement with dLIST and E-LIS, two OAI-compliant eprint archives for library and information science. They are willing to accept any articles on the topic of open access, as long as the copyright holder gives permission. So the next time I blog an article about OA that is not itself OA, I will link to my page appealing to the author to deposit the article and make it openly accessible. If other subject-oriented blogs and newsletters do the same for their subject areas, more authors will get the message: Publish anywhere you like, but at least deposit your articles in open-access archives! (PS: I thank Anita Coleman of dLIST and Antonella De Robbio of E-LIS for their rapid agreement on this plan.)

Web site detailing publisher mergers and acquisitions

Mary H. Munroe, The Academic Publishing Industry: A Story of Merger and Acquisition. This resource, jointly supported by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Information Access Alliance, aims to sort out who owns whom in the publishing industry by presenting a series of timelines covering twelve major scholarly publishers. "A major finding of this research has been how many of the major imprints bought by academic librarians all over the world are owned by the same company, and how much, even in our own professional literature, we are purchasing from the same 12 companies. The story is sobering," writes Munroe. (Source: the (sci-tech) Library Question)

Articles on post-DL futures

The presentations from the workshop, NSF Post Digital Library Futures Workshop (Chatham, June 15-17, 2004), are now online.

More on the UK inquiry

JISC posted a short note yesterday on the Harold Varmus and Bob Campbell interview on the BBC. JISC's comment on OA: "Traditionally University researchers and other academic authors give papers they have written to publishers free of charge. These authors in turn have usually been funded to undertake their research, somewhat indirectly, by the taxpayer. Publishers will then use these papers to help populate the journals they publish, whether electronically or on paper. The irony, as some see it, is that the publishers then sell subscriptions to sets of their journals back to Universities, who are also funded through government. Thus it can be argued that the traditional models have the potential to hinder access to research, which has been publicly funded in the first place. This anomaly is exacerbated by the fact that subscription charges to journals, which institutions must pay, have risen above the cost of inflation. Open Access, on the other hand, which JISC is endorsing (through its Open Access Programme), means that researchers pay the publishers a fee when their papers are accepted for publication. This money comes out of their research grants, which can usually be sourced from public funds."

Relevant to the trade embargo question

In yesterday's, Elise Labott reported that the Bush administration plans to tighten the trade embargo against Syria. But despite the new stringency, "Washington will not object to the export of communications equipment related to Internet and cell phone use -- 'to allow for the free flow of ideas.' " Labott quoted an unnamed US official: "We don't want to have the Syrian people get their news in a vacuum." (PS: It's OK for cell phones to enter Syria, even though they can be used by drug dealers and terrorists, but not OK for scientific papers to leave Syria, at least edited by Americans, even though they will benefit everyone.) (Thanks to George Spafford.)

Yahoo and Open Access

In view of the recent news about more search-engine competition between Yahoo and Google (see, for example, Yahoo! Drops Google, Launches New Search Engine) an openly accessible message, Yahoo and Open Access, posted on 8 March 2004 by Sumir Meghani (Manager, Business Development, Yahoo! Search) to the American Scientist Open-Access Forum, is of interest. So is the response, Re: Yahoo and Open Access, posted on the same day by Stevan Harnad, the moderator of the AmSci OA Forum.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

OAI service providers

Gerry McKiernan, Open archives initiative service providers. Part III: general, Library Hi Tech News, January/February 2004. In this third installment of a three-part article, Gerry profiles the CILEA Open Archives Platform, ePrints UK, the NDLTD Union Catalog, OAIster, and the Public Knowledge Project Archives Harvester.

More on the UK inquiry

The Public Library of Science has put its written testimony for the UK inquiry online.

Dentists preparing to open wide?

In naming Anthony J. Smith the new editor of Journal of Dental Research, Stephen Challacombe made a point of saying, "With the increasing focus on Open Access issues in scientific publishing, Dr. Smith's perspectives will be critical to the continued success of the JDR." JDR is currently a subscription-based journal. (PS: Does Challacombe's remark indicate that Smith will be valued for resisting OA or promoting it? Neither the journal web site nor the press release on Smith's appointment gives a clue. Stay tuned.)

More on the UK inquiry

Catherine Brahic, UK hears open access evidence, TheScientist, March 10, 2004. Excerpt: " 'Unless we see a big change in the way that research is funded, open access isn't sustainable in any format other than as an experiment,' Julia King, of the UK Institute of Physics, told the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee. The institute publishes the New Journal of Physics, an open access 'experiment.' Harold Varmus, of the US-based open access group Public Library of Science, and Vitek Tracz, from for-profit open access publisher BioMedCentral (partner of The Scientist), underlined the need for transform the system. They argued, however, that open access was not a choice but an imperative....[Stevan] Harnad hoped that the next phase of the investigation [in April and May] will focus more on [self-archiving]: 'Here, I hope, the other road to open access will be given some of its due.' "

More on the California OA series

Marla Misek, eScholars of the World, Unite! The University of California Revolutionizes Publishing Paradigm, EContent, March 10, 2004. Excitement about the California series of OA journals (see previous post). Excerpt: "The academic world has been particularly traumatized by the rising costs of the traditional publishing paradigm. Because institutions of higher learning are fueled by the pursuit of knowledge, their need for access to research is unparalleled: faculty cannot advance scholarship if their research efforts are not made available to colleagues and other interested audiences, and students cannot grasp difficult concepts within their chosen disciplines without having access to a broad selection of resource materials. Every university and college is constrained by these challenges, but few have attempted to reinvent the wheel. The University of California is one of those few."

Launch/relaunch of California series of OA journals

The University of California eScholarship Repository is launching, or relaunching, a series of peer-reviewed, open-access journals using the repository as the publishing infrastructure. For more details, see yesterday's press release. When I first blogged this news last October, the series was a fledgling with ambitious plans. Now it publishes two journals, San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science and the University of California International and Area Studies Digital Collection. A third, Comitatus, will move from UCLA to the repository this spring. Also new are the repository's further plans for a seminar series and postprint service.

Presentations online

The presentations from the conference, Thinking Beyond Digital Libraries - Designing the Information Strategy for the Next Decade (Bielefeld, February 3-5, 2004), are now online. Several are on OA and OAI-compliant repositories.

caBIG nearing completion

The Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG) is a major OA project from the U.S. National Cancer Institute. The caBIG pilot was announced last July but the grid itself is now nearly ready for public use. Quoting yesterday's press release: caBIG "is an open-source, open-access, voluntary information network that will enable cancer researchers to share tools, standards, data, applications, and technologies according to agreed upon common standards and needs. caBIG will create an informatics infrastructure that will link teams of cancer and biomedical researchers as part of a collaborative network, or grid....caBIG is a unique and ambitious undertaking, as no known precedent exists for a bioinformatics engineering initiative of this scale. The National Cancer Institute envisions that caBIG will become 'the World Wide Web of cancer research.' Researchers from around the world will have open access to the common platform of caBIG, be able to use common tools, and rapidly convert, relate, and analyze data from different sources." For more details, see the FAQs or the caBIG Interactive Overview.

More on the UK inquiry

Katie Mantell, Open-access publishers reject unsustainability charge, SciDev.Net, March 9, 2004. Excerpt: "Last week, Britain's leading commercial scientific publishers, most of whom follow the traditional publishing model of requiring readers to pay to access content, lambasted the open-access model for lacking financial viability, and for threatening the integrity of the world's leading journals...But Harold Varmus, co-founder of the Public Library of Science (PLoS), an open-access publisher and advocacy group, told the committee yesterday that such arguments were 'completely false'. 'We have reviewers who [determine] what is accepted [in the journal],' he said, adding that the processes of peer review and editing scientific papers remain constant, however their costs are covered. 'We, as a publication, want our journals to be high quality – it's the only way we're going to be successful.' [The PLoS written evidence concluded that] 'In an open access system, these same parties would pay, but they would get far more for their money.'...Varmus encouraged other publishers to switch to an open-access model. 'Our goal now is not to take over the world but to make other publishers see the virtues of open access and experiment [with it],' he said."

OA debate on BBC radio

Ed Stourton interviewed Harold Varmus (PLoS) and Bob Campbell (Blackwell's) yesterday for the BBC Today program. If you have RealPlayer, then you can hear it. (Thanks to Roger Fenton.)

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Publishing embargoes: another country heard from

Isabel Gomez and Rosa Sancho, Support for Free Speech, Chemical and Engineering News 82(10), 5 (March 8, 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers. Two correspondents from the Center for Scientific Information and Documentation, of the Spanish Council for Scientific Research, report that they learned of the U.S. publishing embargo in part through a Cuban scientist's e-mail, telling that his work had been denied under the treasury department's restrictions. The authors go on to name a number of international and non-governmental organizations that, unlike the U.S. government they point out, "explicity recognize" the appropriateness of scientific exchange across national borders, and express wholehearted support for the American Chemical Society's decision to edit papers from scientists workikng in countries subject to the embargo.

The other side of trade embargoes

Karen W. Arenson, Researchers Say U.S. Barred Them From Cuba, New York Times, March 9, 2004 (requires free registration.) While this ostensibly has nothing to do with OA publishing, it does provide an interesting footnote to recent news on U.S. Treasury Department mandated embargoes on editing scientific papers from countries such as Cuba. When some 70 scientists tried to travel to Cuba for the Fourth International Symposium on Coma and Death recently, they were prohibited by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, who allegedly threatened some of the scientists with "criminal or civil penalties."
"They're trying to punish these countries they've identified as evil," said Stuart J. Youngner, a professor at Case Western Reserve University who helped organize the conference. "But the end result of this is an infringement on academic freedom, our freedom as citizens to travel and also damaging to science in the United States and around the world."
Update (3/10/04): Laura Spinney, US scientists blocked from Cuba, The Scientist, March 10, 2004. While the news article is similar to the one in the Times, it discusses under what criteria U.S. researchers may be allowed to travel to Cuba.

Update (3/12/04): Burton Bollag, Treasury Department Bars U.S. Scholars From Attending Conference in Cuba, Chronicle of Higher Education Daily Update, March 12, 2004. (Access restricted to subscribers.) In addition to the above, Bollag reports that OFAC sent a letter to the travel company handling transportation to and from the conference, saying "that in the Bush administration's view, the gathering was not an international conference, but a Cuban one." OFAC also requested a resume along with a list of justifications for attending the conference, but by then it was too late to provide such information since the conference had already started." Bollag also notes a letter from four groups, "including the Center for International Policy and the Latin America Working Group," protesting the OFAC action.

Update (3/12/04): Eric Sabo, Communism is not brain-dead:Cuban coma conference struggles on after US keeps researchers from attending, The Scientist, March 12, 2004. A report from someone who was actually able to attend the conference and the reaction to prohibitions on American would-be attendees.

Written testimony for the UK inquiry

We're starting to see the reappearance of public versions of written testimony for the inquiry into journal prices and accessibility conducted by the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Many of these submissions were initially put online and then taken off at the committee's request. Now that two sessions of oral testimony are completed, the committee is allowing the submissions to go back online. Here are the ones I know about so far.

For other written submissions, see my list in SOAN for 3/2/04. For now, I'm only blogging links to submissions that were missing from the SOAN list or dead at the time.

Public release of gene expression data

International Genomics Consortium, Nation's First Clinically Annotated, Publicly Available Gene Expression Database To Help Researchers Accelerate Cancer Treatment, March 5, 2004. The IGC announces a public database initiative, expression project for oncology (expO.) From the press release: "The goal of expO is to obtain and perform gene expression analyses on an annotated set of tumor and normal tissue samples and release all data into the public domain without intellectual property restriction." Key to the project are standards development, clinical annotations, and follow-up on treatment while maintaining subjects' privacy. Six drug companies are underwriting the initiative along with considerable help from IBM and Arizona State University, the latter of which will host expO's labs. (Source: ScienceDaily)

BioMed Central adds RSS feeds for open access journal content

BioMed Central, Receiving content from BioMed Central and The Scientist as an RSS headline feed. BMC recently announced the availability of RSS feeds for their online journals. This page explains how to get a feed for any BMC journal (e.g. "by adding /rss/ onto the journal URL." They've also included a feed listing the latest articles added to the BMC server, as well as lists of most viewed articles for each title and the BMC platform as a whole. This is another way for users to select content of interest and receive it seamlessly through a desktop news aggregator or web-based news aggregator. Talk about increasing exposure to open-access publications! (Source: The (sci-tech) Library Question)

OA for French medieval history research

Pierre Portet, Gratuit / Payant : quelques réflexions sur les modèles de diffusion de l'information historique sur l'Internet, La Lettre de la liste Ménestrel, March 2004. An argument for open access to journals and research in the field of French medieval history. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Opening access to the deep web

Alex Wright, In search of the deep web, Salon, March 9, 2004. The next generation of deep-web search engines will give the public what it needs and deserves but has not been getting: free online access to government documents. Excerpt: " 'The U.S. Government Printing Office has the mandate of making the documents of the democracy available to everyone for free,' says Tim Bray, CTO of Antarctica Systems. 'But the poor guys have no control over the upstream data flow that lands in their laps.' The result: a sprawling pastiche of databases, unevenly tagged, independently owned and operated, with none of it searchable in a single authoritative place. If deep Web search engines can penetrate the sprawling mass of government output, they will give the electorate a powerful lens into the public record. And in a world where we can Google our dates, why shouldn't we expect that kind of visibility into our government?"

Deep-web search engines are also opening access to research literature. "For example, when gene researchers identify a new DNA sequence, they usually submit the sequence to the National Institutes of Health's GenBank -- a public deep Web resource -- before submitting it to journals for publication." Wright also gives a mini-picture of the OA movement apart from any connection to deep-web search engines.

Finally, on a very different front, search engine relevance algorithms provide a quality filter that challenges some of the traditional functions of peer review. "And as more scholarship finds its way onto the Web, page-ranking algorithms are also providing an alternative quality rating system to the traditional scholarly peer review that journals have always employed....While page ranking won't replace the scholarly review process anytime soon, the expansion of public Web search engines will put downward pressure on the premium that publishers can command. 'I don't think [page ranking] is more reliable,' says [Peter] Lyman [professor of Information Management and Systems at Berkeley], 'but I do think it's perceived as legitimate. The cost of creating formally quality-controlled information may drive people to consider lower-cost alternatives.' " (Thanks to Al Magary.)

Pro-OA testimony in the UK inquiry

Richard Wray, Open access publishers close ranks, The Guardian, March 9, 2004. On the testimony yesterday from PLoS and BMC before the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Excerpt: "Two of the leading open access publishers of scientific journals yesterday mounted a spirited defence of their embryonic industry in the face of criticism from traditional publishers such as Reed Elsevier that it is uneconomic and risks debasing scientific research. Harold Varmus, president of the US-based Public Library of Science, told a committee of MPs last night: 'We want ... every poor student to be able to satisfy his learned curiosity just as a rich person does.' Branding the subscriptions of traditional publishers as 'intolerably high', he rejected criticism that open access - where publication is paid for by the author - will lead to vanity publishing as 'rubbish'. 'The most important thing is we want our journals to be high quality, that is the only way we are going to succeed.' "

End of MRC comment period on its OA policy

On February 29, the comment period closed on the Medical Research Council's call for comments on how or in what form it should promote open access. The MRC is the largest public funder of medical research in the UK, analogous to the NIH in the U.S. In the preface to its current policy, the MRC says, "We see it as our duty to encourage all those whom we support to make the results of all their research publicly available." (PS: I'm sorry I didn't know about this call for comments while it was still open.)

Monday, March 08, 2004

More on the Royal Society's UK testimony

Stephen Pincock, Royal Soc[iety] down on open access, TheScientist, March 8, 2004. Summarizing the Royal Society's skeptical views on OA journals and the implications of funding them for British science, as well as some responses around the UK to the Royal Society's views. Excerpt: "The society, Britain's national science academy, is due to give evidence on Monday (March 8) to a hearing of the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology....The Royal Society's view is at odds with that of the Wellcome Trust, which distributed £400 million to the life sciences this year in funding grants. European and US institutions have also supported the open access movement....The society itself publishes journals on a subscription basis, and [John] Enderby [Royal Society Vice President] added: 'At the Royal Society, 92% of our income from journal subscriptions is generated overseas, representing a significant injection of cash for UK science because, as a learned society, any surplus generated is used to support scientific research'....[BioMed Central President Jan] Velterop expressed disappointment at what he called the Royal Society's 'parochial view' of science. 'Learned societies use their surpluses well, no doubt, but they should realize that their surpluses effectively represent subsidies from institutions and countries who may not be able to afford their subscriptions much longer, and that the UK institution libraries subsidize many similar scholarly societies abroad (rarely, though, in developing countries), rather cancelling out the perceived financial benefits for the UK,' he said."

OJHAS editorial supporting OA

Vinod Scaria, Open, Online and Global: Benefits of BioMedical Journals Going Online and Open, Online Journal of Health and Allied Sciences, 4, 1, (2003), an editorial endorsing open access and documenting how OJHAS itself grew in visitors, incoming links, and visibility since adopting OA. Excerpt: "Open Access publishing is perhaps the future of scientific communication in developing countries. The landmark success of many new Open Access Journals in India and other developing countries speak for this. The sad fact is that most publishers are not really aware of the new perspectives offered by Open Access and are often reluctant to convert their existing publication to Open Access. Since most scholar societies interested in experimenting with Open Access Journals are little aware of the intricacies of this domain, a support organisation comprising of Open Access publishers is the need of the day. This would enable more Open Access Journals from developing countries emerge successful, both regionally and internationally. This would help disseminate research from developing countries more effectively."

Seeing past the fee v. free dichotomy

A recent Outsell briefing by Chuck Richard, Content Vendor Best Practices: Busting up Fee vs. Free, February 13, 2004, argues that "fee versus free" is a false dichotomy that distorts the practice of many healthy publishers and, if believed, could distort their strategic thinking as well. From the free online abstract: "For commercial content vendors, the Briefing provides clear and concrete examples to show that there is indeed a huge market for content that includes both for-pay and blended models." I haven't read the report itself (it costs $895) but the TOC shows that it includes a section on STM publishers.

Scientometric wars

Bobby Pickering, Elsevier prepares Scopus to rival ISI Web of Science, Vnunet, March 8, 2004. Excerpt: "Elsevier is developing Scopus, an online STM bibliographic database service, due for release in Q4 2004. It will compete head-on with Thomson ISI's Web of Science....Elsevier is making the site available for free until May in return for intensive feedback on usability....It will offer access to an estimated 80% of peer-reviewed scientific literature, and lay claim to being the world's largest scientific, technical, medical and social science database (although ISI Web of Science, with back files to 1945 and 8,500 journals, will dispute such claims)....Thomson ISI, meanwhile, has upped the stakes in this new power game for market dominance by announcing a collaboration with NEC to create a comprehensive multidisciplinary web citation index....Significantly, the Thomson-NEC service will embrace citations and index links to open access publications --something that Elsevier is unlikely to favour."

OA publishing guide from SciDev.Net

The Science and Development Network (SciDev.Net) has released its Science Publishing Quick Guide. From the front page: "This guide explores various approaches --from 'open-access' publishing and self-archiving to differential pricing initiatives-- to using the Internet to increase access to scientific information in the developing world." The guide contains sections on OA news, opinion, and feature articles. Three new articles were written just for the guide: (1) David Dickson, The promises and perils of a technological revolution, (2) Helen Doyle, Open access can shrink the global knowledge gap, and (3) Subbiah Arunachalam, India's march towards open access.

More on the UK inquiry

The Royal Society has publicly released its written testimony to the UK inquiry. The testimony is highly skeptical of the business model of OA journals. Quoting the Society's March 8 press release: "Sir John Enderby, Vice President of the Royal Society said: 'The Royal Society wholly supports the widest possible dissemination of science, particularly to developing countries. However, we are concerned that the model currently proposed for 'open access' journals, where scientists pay a fee for each paper they have published, is an unsustainable one which could also significantly impact on UK science funding. There are still a lot of issues to resolve before the scientific community could have confidence in this approach to publishing.' "