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EContent has a brief, unsigned story (April 16, 2004) on the Thomson ISI report on the impact of OA journals. Excerpt: "According to Thomson ISI, a business of The Thomson Corporation, journals published in the new Open Access (OA) model are beginning to register impact in the field of scholarly research. Of the 8,700 selected journals currently covered in Web of Science, 191 are OA journals. The same established set of criteria that is applied to traditionally published journals is also applied to OA journals as part of the selection process."
Gerard van der Geer is the managing editor of Compositio Mathematica (CM), a journal owned by the Foundation Compositio Mathematica. CM was published by Kluwer until late last year, when van der Geer, frustrated by a long history of unwanted price increases, declared independence and moved the journal to the London Mathematical Society, which has been the publisher since January 2004. The LMS version of the journal is not free, but one-third less expensive than the older Kluwer edition. Note to those who would launch new journals: van der Geer was able to do this more easily than other editors who declare independence because Kluwer never owned the journal. Van der Geer sketches a brief history of the journal, including the move from Kluwer to LMS, in an opinion piece, We Can Make a Change in the May 2004 issue of Notices of the AMS. Excerpt: "We hope that mathematicians will send a message to highly priced journals by asking their libraries to switch subscriptions from expensive journals to less expensive ones. We appreciate how difficult it is to persuade libraries to take on anything new, but think of the consequences if no one shifts subscriptions: it will be a vindication of the attitude that mathematicians are price insensitive and publishers can charge what they like. Conversely, if libraries take on new subscriptions to less expensive journals, we can show that there is a point to publishers lowering prices." (PS: I've been following this story since September 2003 when the journal announced its move. Thanks to Rick Johnson, Raym Crow, and George Porter for different facets of the bigger picture. Also see my list of other journal declarations of independence.)
Peter Jacso, The Future of Citation Indexing - Interview with Dr. Eugene Garfield. Portions of this interview were published in the January issue of Online magazine, and now Jacso´ has made the complete article available on his website. Among other issues, Garfield considers the impact of open access material on citation indexing, particularly with respect to ResearchIndex, pointing out that the latter could become highly useful if its scope were increased to a wider range of disciplines and that now "it is dependent upon whatever journals and other materials are available free on the web ." He maintains that indexing and abstracting services still perform vital work for the information community because of the lack of standardization in citation and the number of citation errors. Furthermore, while a great deal of retrospective literature is digitized, much of it has not been indexed, so citation work is necessary both going forward and backward in time.
Mike Shanahan, Open-access journals are impacting science community, SciDev.Net, April 16, 2004. A short note on the new ISI study. Excerpt: "Thomson ISI, the company whose Web of Science tool dominates academic literature searches online, has announced that open-access journals are having an increasing impact in the world of scientific research."
Terry Anderson & Fathi Elloumi, editors, Theory and Practice of Online Learning. Athabasca University has released an online, open-source book under a Creative Commons license to support administration and teaching in online and distance education environments. See also the press release from Athabasca, Thousands flock to download "Theory and Practice of Online Learning." (Source: Online Learning Update)
Marcus Banks, Connections between open access publishing and access to gray literature, Journal of the Medical Library Association, April 2004. Excerpt: "The potential of open access publication to increase accessibility to peer-reviewed literature is cause for celebration. As we celebrate, we should not lose sight of the longstanding challenge of providing better access to the gray literature that provides an essential complement to peer-reviewed findings. We do not need to launch an open access movement to obtain this material, due to its lack of commercial significance. Instead, the challenge is to develop bibliographic resources of comparable depth as those available for the peer-reviewed literature....Despite the challenges ahead, open access will inevitably become the norm for scholarly communication. In the print-only era, publishers provided the indispensable function of distribution. In an electronic age, this indispensability is no longer true. Once a critical mass of scholars publishes in open access journals, their colleagues will follow. This is the time when viable business models for open access publishing will emerge....Just as open access to clinical literature is only possible in an online era, the CNLP's research highlights the power of computers to improve access to gray literature. Health sciences librarians should perceive these challenges as opposite sides of the same coin: open access removes economic barriers, and improved indexing of gray literature removes bibliographic barriers."
Chris Awre, Report on the 3rd OAI Workshop, D-Lib Magazine, April 2004. Good overview of the presentations for those who don't have time to view the webcasts and PPT slides. Excerpt: "This 3rd OAI Workshop, entitled 'Implementing the benefits of OAI', was held at CERN on 12-14 February 2004. CERN has also been the location for the first two workshops and this third workshop took place 18 months after the last one. The growing interest in OAI and the open access movement led to a big increase in the number of delegates to the workshop (from 120-190) this year and also the number of countries represented (27 this time). The workshop itself comprised a number of presentations, four tutorials, seven breakout groups and a panel discussion, plus plenty of time for discussion and interaction between fellow delegates."
Jonas Holmström, The Return on Investment of Electronic Journals - It Is a Matter of Time, D-Lib Magazine, April 2004. Abstract: "Libraries and publishers are increasingly using download statistics to measure cost-effectiveness. Proponents of open access have also used download statistics to prove that open access journals are more cost-effective than subscription based journals. In this article, I argue that these calculations are misleading since they do not consider the age of the articles downloaded. Some implications and recommendations for standards of measurement are discussed."
Tim Berners-Lee is the winner of the inaugural Millennium Technology Prize from the Finnish Technology Award Foundation. The prize of one million Euros goes to the inventor of the world wide web who put his invention into the public domain and never tried to profit from it. Congratulations to Tim Berners-Lee and kudos to the Finnish award foundation for an inspired choice. More coverage.
(PS: Berners-Lee invented the web, not the internet. We know that there were open-access initiatives on the pre-web internet. But it should be just as clear that open access blossomed on the web and owes much of its feasibility and current appeal to this revolutionary, royalty-free technology.)
Two new contributions have been added to the Nature debate on OA.
The presentations from the ALPSP conference, Scholarship-Friendly Publishing (London, March 26, 2004) are now online.
OpenTheGovernment has released its list of the Ten Most Wanted government documents currently kept secret from the American public. Number 10 on the list is one we've often covered here on the blog, Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports. A longer version of the Ten Most Wanted list is available in a PDF (unfortunately, for downloading, not browser display).
British Library In £10 Million Archives Program, Managing Information News, 14 April 2004. The British Library, in collaboration with a donor, announced the Endangered Archives Programme to fund the preservation of cultural archives that are at risk or have suffered neglect.
Allan Scherlen, Seeing the Sites: Latin American Studies Online: A Review of Free Peer-Reviewed Journals, Serials Review, Spring 2004. Abstract: "Public services librarians seeking to assist researchers in Latin American studies are increasingly augmenting their searches to include online publications not generally indexed in typical library journal and newspaper databases. Allan Scherlen introduces us to this multifaceted world of Web publications in Latin American Studies, centering on two free online peer-reviewed journals that offer an alternative to the traditional subscription model of journal publishing in Latin American studies." (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)
Dennis Normile, New Global Database Lends a Hand to Gene Hunters, Science 304(5669), 368 (16 April 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) "A database of annotated, full-length human complementary DNAs (cDNAs), compiled by an international team led by Japanese researchers, has been opened for public access. The database is expected to be a boon for research related to drug development, gene hunting, molecular evolution, and comparative genomics." The product is called "Human Full-Length cDNA Annotation Invitational," or "H-Invitational," resulting from a conference where researchers were chosen for the high quality of their data.
Thomson ISI has just released a report by James Testa and Marie E. McVeigh, The Impact of Open Access Journals. Excerpts:
The report presents data by discipline and year. In some disciplines there are OA journals in the top rank of impact factors, and in other disciplines there are not. In some disciplines, OA journals exceed the average ISI journal for citations to older articles (say, those from 1999) and in some fields they don't. Even if the performance of OA journals is in flux in all disciplines, this is a detailed and important snapshot that deserves close study. (Thanks to Jill O'Neill on Information Community News.)
The April issue of Portal is now online. Here are the OA-related articles. Only the TOC and abstracts are free online, at least so far.
When I originally blogged Adam Hodgkin's article, A topsy turvy e-world (The Bookseller, April 1, 2004), it was only available online in a toll-access edition. Adam asked The Bookseller for permission to deposit the postprint in E-LIS, an OAI-compliant repository for library and information science, and it agreed. I'm happy to report that there is now an OA edition of the article at E-LIS. I won't make this elaborate second announcement for every TA article that becomes OA. But I'm doing it in this case because it's the first success --that I know about-- in my call to authors to provide OA to their articles about OA. Thanks to Adam for trying this option and thanks to The Bookseller for its cooperation.
Now about the article: Adam argues that OA to primary literature in journals may stimulate the market for "secondary publications which abstract, assess, cite and measure or increase the accessibility of all the free, open access, primary literature." If true, this is a reason for some publishers of priced literature to welcome and support OA.
Bruce Neville, Scholarly journals take a new form, Daily Lobo (student newspaper at the University of New Mexico), April 15, 2004 (registration required for the second of two pages). Excerpt: "The monopolistic commercial publishers that control many of the top scholarly journals are dependent upon the researchers to write, review and edit the manuscripts that they publish and sell back to the researchers by way of their libraries. Researchers are searching for ways to take back control over their scholarly output. Many, but unfortunately not all, professional societies are not bound by the profit motive of the commercial publishers and can make their members' research available at a more reasonable cost. The Association of Research Libraries and other organizations have formed SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, which publishes journals to compete directly with those of commercial publishers. Some SPARC journals have already overtaken their intended targets in scholarly reputation [and impact factor]."
In an editorial in the April issue of Information Research, editor Tom Wilson asks his readers to comment on the possibility that this OA journal might "become only partly open access" in the future. "And, if you are seriously concerned, are you prepared to persuade your institution to contribute to its survival? ...[W]e seem to have a successful journal here and it is rather surprising to me that, following my efforts to secure the future of the journal, only two universities appear to be seriously interested in taking on the journal. A publisher is also interested and would probably make the journal open access to non-institutional IP addresses (that is, anyone accessing from a home computer would continue to use the journal freely, while institutions would pay) and to institutions in certain countries in the developing world and Central and Eastern Europe." (Thanks to Filipa Melo.)
Donald MacLeod, Google launches research archive project, The Guardian, April 13, 2004. Excerpt: "The world's most popular search engine has turned its attention to the problem of digging out scholarly gems from the mass of material thrown up by its internet searches....Cranfield University, which does most of its research geared to business and industry, was one of the universities to use the DSpace model, but wanted to make its research better known. As Simon Bevan, the university's systems information manager, commented today: 'You can make papers available electronically, but are people going to find them? Because everybody uses Google, papers are suddenly far more accessible and usable and retrievable.' He added: 'It is a means for us to spread the word about Cranfield, for business to buy into our work and find out what we do.' "
Jim Giles, Publishers go head-to-head over search tool, Nature 428, 683 (15 April 2004). (access restricted to subscribers.) A news article reviews recent proposed innovations of ISI and Elsevier, particularly the Scopus search engine, which one commentator describes as "definitely a threat to ISI."
Steve Buckingham, Data's Future Shock, Nature 428, 774 (15 April 2004). Nature's technology feature focuses on bioinformatics data sources, and features a sidebar "Exploring the public domain," which documents freely-available resources including journals such as the Nucleic Acids Research database issue and the variety of databases searchable through NCBI's Entrez and European organizations such as the European Bioinformatics Institute and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.
EContent has an unsigned story on the new Google project to index DSpace repositories, Google Teams up with Colleges to Test Searches of Scholarly Materials, April 13, 2004. Excerpt: "The project is intended to allow users to direct their searches to on-campus repositories of scholarly materials that contain copies of academic papers, technical reports, drafts of articles, and other work by a university's professors. Scholars can choose whether their works will be available to all Internet users or only to others on their own campuses. The participating universities have tagged all the materials with metadata tags."
The Free Expression Network has issued a public statement, Editing a Scientific Manuscript Is Not 'Trading with the Enemy', April 12, 2004. Excerpt: "The undersigned organizations protest application of Treasury Department trade embargo rules to scientific, literary and artistic work originating in countries that are currently the subject of an American trade embargo. This is a violation of the First Amendment right of Americans to read and learn from writers, artists, and thinkers of all nations....While the recent clarification from OFAC resolves some issues, it leaves many unanswered. OFAC reiterates that any 'substantive or artistic alterations or enhancements' of a manuscript from an author in a sanctioned country is prohibited without prior government approval, and that 'a collaborative interaction' is considered 'a prohibited exportation of services.'...There is no claim that these restrictions are necessary to protect the United States from terrorism, nor are they likely to persuade these countries to adopt policies that advance US interests. Indeed, it appears that they serve no purpose other than to keep Americans ignorant of work done by scientists, writers, and artists in certain parts of the world."
The statement is signed by American Association of University Professors, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression American Civil Liberties Union, American Library Association, First Amendment Project, National Coalition Against Censorship, Peacefire, PEN American Center, and the People For the American Way Foundation. (Thanks to C-FIT.)
The April issue of PLoS Biology contains correspondence entitled Avoiding URL Reference Degradation in Scientific Publications. The correspondence is about possible use of the Internet Archive as a way to archive a Web site an author has cited. The response from PLoS points out some drawbacks to this approach, but encourages "further input on this issue from the scientific and medical community".
Norm Medeiros, Of budgets and boycotts: the battle over open access publishing, OCLC Systems and Services, 2004. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: "This article recounts the history of electronic journals, and the evolution of library processes to manage them. The article reviews recent controversies regarding the future of electronic publishing, and describes one important and innovative electronic publisher, the Public Library of Science."
Jean Kumagai and William Sweet, U.S. Treasury Department Issues Free Press Ruling, IEEE Spectrum, April 12, 2004. Excerpt: "To the immense relief of IEEE members and its journal editors, the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) ruled on 2 April that IEEE may resume peer review, editing, and publishing of scholarly manuscripts submitted by authors living in countries under U.S. trade embargo....The American Institute of Physics and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, among others, refused to comply with the OFAC rules. IEEE's position angered some of its members, especially the 1700 in Iran. More than 5000 members signed a petition calling upon IEEE to reverse its position....The ruling does not, however, resolve all the issues of serious concern to IEEE members in embargoed countries. In the four affected countries --Cuba, Libya, Sudan, as well as Iran-- members still are prohibited from being elevated to a higher-grade membership; using IEEE e-mail alias and Web accounts; accessing online job listings; and conducting conferences under the IEEE name. Nor does the OFAC ruling, which applies specifically to IEEE's publishing activities, necessarily extend to other publishers. In its letter to IEEE, OFAC also effectively ruled out joint research projects and coauthored papers between scientists in the United States and their peers in embargoed countries. IEEE leaders say they will continue to work those issues with OFAC."
The April 9 issue of Science Magazine has two OA pieces on the lifting of the trade embargo on editing submissions from citizens of embargoed nations.
The presentations from the DSpace User Group Meeting (Cambridge, March 10-11, 2004) are now online.
The Old Dominion University Digital Library Research Group has launched two new projects, Digital Library GRID and MOD_OAI (temporarily at the same web address). From the web site: "Google does an incredible job at providing discovery services of the 'shallow' web' to the general public, we envision a similar quality, sustainable, free discovery service for students and researchers for parts of the 'deep' web. The parts of the deep web we refer to in this vision are digital libraries and collections that are exposing their metadata using OAI-PMH (Protocol for Metadata Harvesting)....A search user will be able to access a research paper, preprint, a technical report, an image of a great painting, or a performance of a musical piece in a few seconds from thousands of libraries scattered all over the world....We will develop the software tools to:
For more details, see the grant proposal to the Mellon Foundation.
The new issue of Library Hi Tech News is now online (vol. 21, no. 3). Here are the OA-related articles. Only the abstracts are free online.
Helen Doyle, Andy Gass, Rebecca Kennison, Who Pays for Open Access? PLoS Biology, April 13, 2004. The first in a series of responses to widespread misunderstandings about OA. Excerpt: "Here we address...the perception that the publication-charge model puts an unfair burden on authors. Subsequently, we will address concerns about the long-term economic viability of the open-access model, the integrity and quality of work published in open-access journals, and the effect that open access will have on scholarly societies....Perhaps the real misconception about the unfair burden that open access places on authors resides in the terminology --the term 'author charge' is itself misleading. Publication fees are not borne purely by authors, but are shared by the many organizations whose missions depend on the broadest possible dissemination and communication of scientific discoveries."
Gerhard Schneider, Open Access als Prinzip wissenschaftlicher Publikation, German-language text of a lecture to a library conference in Leipzig, March 23, 2004. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)
Michele Langlois et al, Restrictions impeding web-based courses: a survey of publisher's variation in authorising access to high quality on-line literature, BMC Medical Education 4,7 (2004). The authors report on the difficulty of securing access to scholarly articles for web-based instruction. Half of surveyed publishers charged additional costs for using electronic versions of articles in a course, even if the institution already maintained a subscription. More than half of the publishers would allow the institution "to reproduce exracts of published work at no fee." The article goes on further to discuss the increased use of the web for course materials. Finally, the authors conclude, "the permission request process has been expensive and has resulted in reduced access for students to the relevant literature. Variations in the responses from publishers suggest that for educational purposes common policies could be agreed and unnecessary restrictions removed in the future." (Source: BentleyBlog)
Henk Ellermann, Google Searches Repositories: So What Does Google Search For?, -=(In Between)=-:, April 12, 2004. Ellermann puts the brakes on enthusiasm for Google's proposed federated repository searching, reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education on Friday, April 9 (see earlier OAN posting.) His questions relate to the actual number of documents concerned; press accounts have said the 17 repositories hold an average of 1000 documents, but Ellermann's calculations show a number considerably smaller. He maintains that the repository movement has a long way to go to attract and index content and provide reliable access, that there be something for Google users to search and find.
Tracey Logan, File-sharing to bypass censorship, BBC News, April 9, 2004. Ross Anderson of Cambridge University, one of the first to advocate P2P file-sharing, now wants to extend the practice to the distribution of news. Not only would P2P networks bypass censors, they would break the monopoly of major news syndicators. Quoting Anderson: "The effect of peer-to-peer networks will be to make censorship difficult, if not impossible. If there's material that everyone agrees is wicked, like child pornography, then it's possible to track it down and close it down. But if there's material that only one government says is wicked then, I'm sorry, but that's their tough luck". (PS: Of course the same networks could be used for research data and articles, preprints and postprints. This would aid in preservation and freedom from censorship, but would hinder efforts to measure traffic and usage.)
Mitra Taj, Library cuts new books from budget, Arizona Daily Wildcat, April 9, 2004. The University of Arizona library will cut journals and books by 16% over the next two years, in response to tight budgets and rapidly rising journal prices. Quoting Stephen Bosch, associate librarian: "Sixteen percent is going to be a big reduction. We’ve done the easy stuff to keep our heads above water. [The impact now will be] noticeable, if not painful. [The library is dealing with about 9 to 10 percent inflation per year.] If we have a set budget, after two to three years, things cost 20 to 30 percent more than when we started." The library expects to cancel 3,000 journals, drop 7,000 new book orders, and cut $250,000 worth of electronic databases. (Thanks to LIS News.)
Peter Levine at the University of Maryland is about to propose that "[t]he University (or perhaps the University and Prince George's County, where we are located) would launch a peer-reviewed [open-access] journal for high-quality research on the community. Anyone would be eligible to submit articles, maps, datasets, and images, but submissions would be peer-reviewed and publication standards would be high." (Thanks to commons-blog.) (PS: Peter's specialization is research about communities by community members, both to produce useful knowledge and to promote civic engagement. This is a perfect use for open access.)
Victoria Stagg Elliott, Journal free for all: The electronic future of scientific publishing, American Medical News, April 19, 2004. Excerpt: "Even without legislation, signs of change are becoming visible. Scientific journal publishers, editors, contributors, clinicians, readers and librarians long have shared the goal of increasing access to published scientific and medical information to speed progress and improve care. This goal, however, seemed unachievable when paper was the only way to publish. Now market forces and the ease of distribution through electronic publishing have led traditional journals to allow free access to an increasing number of their papers online, particularly the older ones." Stagg interviews both OA skeptics and OA supporters.