Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, April 23, 2004

Incompleteness of the existing directories of OA-OAI archives

In an extended response to my posting yesterday on Tim Brody's Institutional Archives Registry, Klaus Graf reflects on the deficiences of the DOAJ and the existing directories of OAI-compliant archives. He does a good job of pointing out many European archives missing from the best directories, even the European directories. (PS: I think we all agree that we need at least one complete directory of the OAI-compliant archives. We could take good steps in this direction if the omitted archives Graf identifies would register themselves.)

Emerging technologies for heritage collections

The new issue of the DigiCULT Technology Watch (February 2004) is devoted to Emerging Technologies for the Cultural and Scientific Heritage Sector. It's a 215 pp. PDF file available in two editions, low res, 1.6 MB and high res, 13.6 MB). Excerpt (p. 177): "The 'open-access' approach to cultural discourse should help to remove the perception of memory institutions as 'ivory towers' for experts and the elite. Increased discussion and easier communication between different groups can only lead to an increased understanding between decision-makers and the general public in whose interest they are entrusted the custody of their artefacts."

Canadians petition against proposed copyright legislation

PetitionForUsersRights The Canadian Digital Copyright Forum has posted a draft of a petition to Canadian parliament arguing against suggested copyright legislation in Canada, posed in response to a recent ruling that file-sharing systems do not break the law. The petition alludes to another recent Canadian court decision, CCH Canadian Ltd v Law Society of Upper Canada, which many saw as jointly respectful of rightsholders and fair use. (See postings from 3/4 and 3/22.) The petition asks Parliament "ensure generally that users are recognised as interested parties and are meaningfully consulted about proposed changes to the Copyright Act and to ensure in particular that any changes at least preserve all existing users' rights, including the right to use copyrighted materials under Fair Dealing and the right to make private copies of audio recordings. We further call upon Parliament not to extend the term of copyright; and to recognise the right of citizens to personally control their own communication devices." See also the press release concerning the petition (also in draft.) (Source: Boing Boing)

Two letters on OA

The Back and Forth On Open Access, The Scientist 18(8), 10 (April 26, 2004). Two letters address questions raised by Gallagher's "Above and Beyond Open Access" (see earlier posting.) Frank Russo pens an enthusiastic response to Gallagher's article, making the familiar complaint of the inaccessability of toll-based journals, alluding to the possibility that "publishing companies are conspiring against open access" and calling for "open review" as a way around social networks that often hinder researchers. Ray Greek, MD, however, states that Gallagher's example of the debate in BMJ on animal models is an oversimplification, and that reams of data from a variety of subdisciplines are not being viewed by the model's proponents. Greek writes: "While I support the practice of open access and rapid response, it is not, even under the best of circumstances, the most thorough of examinations. To attempt and pass off such as a final answer to a controversial issue begs the question: 'Why would one say such a thing?'"

Sonny Bono lives in Russia

The Russian Duma just adopted a copyright reform measure retroacatively extending the term of copyright from 50 to 70 years after the author's death. (Thanks to Internet Law News.)

New contribution to the Nature OA debate

Marie Meyer, Open Access ignoring lessons of dot-com bubble, Nature, April 22, 2004. Excerpt: Like the dot-com failures, "Open Access advocates also shows signs of over-reliance on the Internet-changes-everything theory....Open Access advocates believe that they have found the formula for a profound change in the scientific publishing landscape. But isn't it more likely that Open Access will simply become a publishing subspecialty?"

Where are three of the submissions to the UK inquiry?

Tom Roper, Why is the open accesss debate not conducted openly? An April 23 posting to his blog. Roper asks why the CILIP, CURL, and SCONUL submissions to the UK inquiry are not yet online for public reading. When he put the question to the three organizations, he was told that "the Clerk of the Committee forbids the publication of evidence until the Committee has completed its discussions." (PS: My understanding is that there was such an embargo, but only until certain kinds of evidence could be delivered orally, which for most organizations was March 1 or March 8. Are CILIP, CURL, and SCONUL exceptions? Did they become free to post their submissions on April 21, when the "library panel" of witnesses testified? Many groups that initially kept their written submission offline at the Committee's request have now put them online. The best list of them is maintained by BMC.)

Whither access if articles airbrushed (or cyberbrushed?) from web sites?

Tony Greiner, The Case of the Disappearing Article, Library Journal, April 15, 2004. Greiner follows an example of an article mysteriously disappearing from the electronic edition of Time and editions hosted by Ebsco and other aggregators. The particular incident involved contradictory statements by the publisher and the rightsholders as to the article's removal. The article could still be located in the print edition, and Greiner also cites valuable resources such as the Internet Archive and the Memory Hole. Nevertheless, Greiner points out the risks to the scholarly record if information can be struck from the record at will, if publishers act capriciously, and if scholars and librarians do not take responsibility for maintaining a valid record of publications. (Source: The Virtual Chase)

History of an important OA repository

Carol Ann Hughes, EScholarship at the University of California: a case study in sustainable innovation for open access, New Library World, 105, 3 (2004) pp. 118-124. Only this abstract is free online for non-subscribers, at least so far: "This paper describes the history of the University of California eScholarship program, a joint effort of the University of California Libraries in collaboration with the California Digital Library. It discusses the context that gave rise to the creation of the eScholarship Repository, the logistical issues involved in setting up a multi-campus persistent repository for scholarly output, and future issues to be addressed in developing experimental reconfigurations of the components of scholarly communication in collaboration with communities of scholars."

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Open letter on the scholarly communication crisis

On October 24, 2003, Gabrielle von Roten, President of the Conference of German-Swiss University Libraries (Konferenz Deutschschweizer Hochschulbibliotheken), sent an open letter (in German) to the Conference of Rectors of the same universities, describing the scholarly communication crisis and calling on the rectors to adopt remedial measures. Among other measures, the libraries wanted a network of OA document servers, mandatory deposit of eprints in the servers, the evaluation of research faculty in part through traffic and usage data from these servers, and the gradual elimination of exorbitantly priced publications. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Draft of WHO report on putting scientific knowledge towards improvements in health

WHO Report on Knowledge for Better Health. The World Health Organization released a draft of this report for comments. It will be presented at the World Ministerial Summit on Health Research in Mexico in November 2004, and aims to make more effective use of scientific and medical knowledge towards improving human health, particularly due to the urgent nature of certain diseases such as HIV, and the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of scientific research. A key component of this is access to information; see point 2 of the 7 points highlighted on the front page of the draft:
1. Science must be turned into action to improve people’s health; it must focus more on the "how" rather than the "why", "where" or "what" 2. Knowledge must be accessible to all, in a form which is useful and can be acted upon by different people and groups 3. All countries must create an environment in which research for health is seen as a systematic effort, and will thus flourish 4. Research must be conducted according to universal ethical standards thus ensuring that it will improve equity in health 5. A broader, more inclusive view of health research is needed and civil society has a vital part to play 6. Research is an investment, not a cost, and governments must spend on it 7. Action Plan needed-now!

(source: Jo Anne Boorkman, BSDNET-L)

Enhancements to the Institutional Archives Registry

Tim Brody's Institutional Archives Registry now organizes OAI-compliant archives by country, type (e.g. institutional, disciplinary, e-theses), and the software on which they are built. This is a very helpful innovation. Of course the registry continues to provide a graphic for each archive showing its growth over time. To mark the new plateau in functionality, Stevan Harnad has sent a message to several discussion lists calling on unregistered archives to register themselves.

(PS: Because no directory of OAI-compliant archives is as comprehensive or up-to-date as the DOAJ is for journals, I maintain a list of the better lists in order to help users find them all. Brody's registry, for example, offers better services, but fewer archives, than the other large lists. The largest at the moment seem to be the OAIster and UIUC lists. I support Harnad's call for registration, not to pick a favorite in the mix of lists but in order to get the benefit of Brody's useful tools for more and more of the existing archives. Why do we need a good list of all the OAI-compliant archives? Three reasons: (1) so that archives can register in one place and be assured that they will be noticed and harvested, (2) so that OAI service providers can learn which archives are eligible for harvesting, and (3) so that authors can learn where they may deposit their work.)

Creative Commons and the "sharing" economy

Andy Raskin, Giving It Away (for Fun and Profit), Business 2.0, May 2004. Raskin documents the variety of uses people have made of Creative Commons licenses. In the case of one musician, sharing his work led to some commercial licensing deals. Most users are looking for name recognition first. Raskin describes the licensing variables (nice graphic) and relates experiences in CC publishing using Cory Doctorow and, of course, Lawrence Lessig as examples, while drawing parallels to open-source software. (Source: Boing Boing)

The best, latest data on journal prices

Lee van Orsdel and and Kathleen Born, Periodicals Price Survey 2004: Closing in on Open Access, Library Journal, April 15, 2004. A good review of the consequences of rapidly rising journal prices, and an excellent compendium of recent pricing data. Excerpt: "The fate of the Big Deal won't be decided by one renewal season, but there are other signs that the extreme-profit model in the scholarly communications market is about to meet serious competition. The competition is advancing under the flag of the Open Access/Open Archives Initiative (OAI). The movement draws its passion from the belief that the monopolistic pricing of the current system seriously limits access to information and threatens an important public good. By restoring copyright to authors and by providing free and global access to scientific information, open access seeks to break the stranglehold of scientific, technical, and medical (STM) publishers. While the economics of the new model are going to be debatable for some time to come, the movement has accrued positive attention in venues both inside and outside of the academy. If the OAI movement succeeds in creating competition as hoped, it may be the long-awaited antidote to skyrocketing journal costs." (PS: OA and OAI overlap in their missions and acronyms, but they are distinct. OA is basically free online access. OAI is a campaign to use a certain metadata harvesting protocol for online archives, most of which are OA. But not all OA is embodied in OAI-compliant archives, and not all OAI-compliant archives are OA.)

OA database of Russian literature and folklore

Alexander Osipovich, Virtual Archive, Moscow Times, April 16-24, 2004. An overview of the open-access Fundamental Digital Library of Russian Literature and Folklore (known by its Russian acronym, FEB). Quoting David Powelstock, professor of Russian literature at Brandeis University: FEB is "the most remarkable web resource for the study of Russian literature I have ever seen. I've been working with the [FEB section on the poet] Lermontov..., and it is hard to exaggerate how wonderful a tool this is....It's really phenomenal." Quoting Igor Pilshchikov, FEB's editor-in-chief: "In philology, as in other fields of the humanities, a great deal of effort is spent on routine tasks like searching. Traditionally, philologists spend about 80 percent of their time searching for material, and 20 percent actually analyzing it. With our site, this ratio can be reversed." (Thanks to Shelflife.)

More on the UK inquiry

Robert Walgate, UK risks 'losing science data', The Scientist, April 22, 2004. Summarizing yesterday's session of the UK inquiry, emphasizing the testimony on long-term access and preservation. Excerpt: "Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, sought the support of the UK House of Commons Select Committee for Science and Technology yesterday (April 21) for a £12 million, 2-year investment at the library, to create a long-term national depository for digital scientific information and publications....The lack of a public record is also inhibiting the development of digital publications, said Brindley....Ian Gibson, chairman of the committee and MP for Norwich North, read out a submission from the University of East Anglia: 'Not only is the university restricted in giving access to its neighboring research, professional, and educational concerns, but also in our regional role as a major source of scientific information for the public. This goes against the government's desire to make science and its workings more open and available to the public. In hard copy, you have equal access provided you understand it; online presupposes privileged access.' 'That's what we've been saying,' said witness Frederick Friend, consultant to UK academia's Joint Information Systems Committee. 'The answer to my mind is open-access publication…I'd urge the committee to recommend to the government that in any publicly funded research, the articles based upon that research be freely accessible over the Internet.' "

open access Journal of Neuroinflammation

Robert E. Mrak and W. Sue T. Griffin, Welcome to the Journal of Neuroinflammation 1, 1 (20 April 2004). The authors introduce their new open access journal, hosted on BioMed Central and dealing with "innate immunological responses of the central nervous system." Mrak and Griffin also outline their rationale for open access publishing:
Open Access has four broad benefits for science and the general public. First, authors are assured that their work is disseminated to the widest possible audience, given that there are no barriers to access their work. This is accentuated by the authors being free to reproduce and distribute their work, for example by placing it on their institution's website. It has been suggested that free online articles are more highly cited because of their easier availability. Second, the information available to researchers will not be limited by their library’s budget, and the widespread availability of articles will enhance literature searching. Third, the results of publicly funded research will be accessible to all taxpayers and not just those with access to a library with a subscription. As such, Open Access could help to increase public interest in, and support of, research. Note that this public accessibility may become a legal requirement in the USA if the proposed Public Access to Science Act is made law . Fourth, a country's economy will not influence its scientists' ability to access articles because resource-poor countries (and institutions) will be able to read the same material as wealthier ones (although creating access to the internet is another matter).

(Source: George Porter, SPARC Open Access Forum)

Lie down, take 2 aspirin, and read OA literature

If reliable medical information is free online, then doctors can "prescribe" it to patients who are ready to read it. That's the idea behind a new program launched today by National Library of Medicine and the American College of Physicians Foundation. The program encourages physicians "to "prescribe" information for their patients from MedlinePlus using a special 'prescription pad' during office visits." Quoting NLM Director Donald Lindberg: "Physicians have always known that an informed patient who takes an active role is a 'better' patient. We believe that both patients and their doctors will welcome this additional medical tool -- good medical information -- in their continuing efforts to provide good health care." More from yesterday's press release: "Today, 80 percent of U.S. adults online use the Internet to find health information, and most say it helps them get better health care, according to a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project....The ACPF and NLM program provides participating internists with a poster, bookmarks, and a supply of prescription pads on which they can write in a disease or condition and advise patients how to look up the information on MedlinePlus. The NLM's National Network of Libraries of Medicine will help patients who have questions about access to MedlinePlus." (PS: This superb public service depends on open access to peer-reviewed medical literature. MedLinePlus offers this and more: award-winning clarity and ease of use for the lay user. An excellent example of your tax dollars at work.)

Survey of faculty attitudes toward online journals

Vincent Kiernan, Professors Are Unhappy With Limitations of Online Resources, Survey Finds, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 22, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "In the survey, conducted last fall, 81 percent of the faculty members agreed that unavailability of journal articles was a 'substantial problem' for them, up from 68 percent in a similar survey conducted in 2000. In addition, 65 percent of those surveyed last year strongly agreed that 'the process of locating information in academic journal literature is tedious and often hit-or-miss, and the act of physically searching through hard-copy collections is much too time-consuming and onerous.' Fifty-nine percent had agreed with that statement three years earlier....Survey participants were given a list of possibly desirable characteristics of a scholarly journal and asked to select those that were 'very important' to faculty members. The characteristic that received the most votes -- from 87 percent of respondents -- was wide circulation. Three-fourths said a journal should ensure that its archives will be preserved indefinitely, 69 percent said publishing an article should be free for authors, and 58 percent said the journal should be available to readers free. Fifty-two percent said the journal should be highly selective." The study was conducted by Ithaka, the new Mellon-created umbrella organization for a series of upcoming initiatives in scholarly communication.

JISC to study LOCKSS

JISC is offering up to £40,000 to fund "a technical appraisal of the LOCKSS system and its potential UK applications." Proposals are due by May 20.

More on the UK inquiry

Richard Wray, Academics blame VAT for holding back internet publishing, The Guardian, April 22, 2004. Excerpt: "Lynne Brindley, the chief executive of the British Library, told a committee of MPs investigating the scientific publications market that the 17.5% tax [applied to online journals but not to print journals] was hampering the move towards the internet-based publishing of research....Frederick Friend, the director of scholarly communication at University College, London and a member of the joint information systems committee, defended the open access movement, saying 'any publicly funded research...the articles published through that research should be freely accessible over the internet.'...Select committee member Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, raised concerns that because under open access it is the author who pays for publication, standards may slip. But James Crabbe, head of the animal and microbial sciences school at the University of Reading and a self-styled convert to open access, hit back. He said: 'If that happened, nobody would publish in that journal....It only takes one bad paper in a journal for that journal to get a bad reputation.' "

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

OA repository for sheet music

Indiana University has launched an OA repository for sheet music. Quoting the press release: "The site currently provides access to metadata and some digital images from two sheet music collections from the Indiana University Lilly Library. Metadata is available for the approximately 24,000 pieces in the Lilly Library's Sam DeVincent Collection of American Sheet Music, along with digital images from over 1,000 pieces in this collection. Metadata for over 500 pieces from the Lilly's Starr Sheet Music Collection is available, as are digital images for most of the Starr items. This site supplements access to metadata for these two sheet music collections that has been available to Open Archives Initiative (OAI) metadata harvesters such as the Sheet Music Consortium, the UIUC Digital Gateway to Cultural Heritage Materials, and the University of Michigan's OAIster project since early 2003."

Brighten the Corner?

Jonah Goldberg, JSTOR & Gate Keepers, The Corner on National Review Online, April 11, 2004. Goldberg blogs about how, when he has put in a plea for a scholarly article, someone has answered his request through their institution's subscription to JSTOR. He laments how much scholarly material is simply out-of-reach for those without journal subscriptions or access to an academic library. Sound familiar?
If academics are dedicated to the spread of human knowlegde, if librarians are even more dedicated to the dissemination of learning via the printed word, why shouldn't such a resource be available to everyone? Why create firewalls and gatekeepers to human wisdom, if that is what scholarly research is? Don't get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with Nexis-Lexis charging for its services. They are a for-profit enterprise. But universities and libraries are not. They serve a different mission. So why keep the common man out of the intellectual Promised Land?
Responses from librarians and others can be read by scanning further up the page. Goldberg summarizes the open access question, as readers have communicated it to him. He then reprints a few e-mails extolling the virtues of the subscription-based model and the worthiness of JSTOR. One correspondent, however, while bashing the majority of librarians and the ALA, would urge some private funding for OA. Also, Goldberg eventually clarifies his original posting, remarking that JSTOR is a non-profit. (Source: SHUSH - a website for the conservative librarian)

More on the UK inquiry

Francis Muguet, who chairs the WSIS Working Group on Scientific Information, has posted a comment on today's session of oral evidence in the UK inquiry. Excerpt: "We are extremely disappointed with this inquiry that seemed to start on excellent premises. One can clearly see that the oral testimony schedule is completely unbalanced in favor of publishers. There are fours panels for publishers vs one panel for Libraries and only one for Academics ( not even completely, since one of the witnesses is not a scientist ) ! It is most incredible that scientists are given such a disadvantaged treatment ( Note that the The Royal Society testified as a publisher...and it shows...). Among the academics, not one eminent British figure of the Open Access movement ( such as Dr. Harnad from the University of Southampton) is called to speak on the floor....No foreign people, not even one soul from developing countries, have been invited as witnesses. How the UK International Development Policy in relationship to Science can be seriously considered without discussing on the floor the very recent WSIS conclusions ? The irony is that Committee' secretary replied to us that "Your written evidence was very thorough and, because of this, the Committee decided that it did not need any further information from you." Is this a joke ? ...The media and psychological impact is quite different. The UK parliament committee is not making every effort to implement the WSIS recommendations."

More on the UK inquiry

There was another session of oral testimony today in the UK inquiry into journal prices and accessibility. I haven't yet seen an official transcript from the UK House of Commons or even newspaper story on the session. In fact, even the web page announcing today's line-up of speakers, which was online for the past month, has been changed and no longer describes today's session. I'll report more as I see more. But if it went as planned, then the House and Science Committee heard from the following witnesses today: Lynne Brindley (British Library), Peter Fox (Cambridge University Library), Frederick Friend (JISC and University College London), Di Martin (University of Hertfordshire), Jane Carr (Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society), James Crabbe (Animal and Microbial Sciences, University of Reading), Nigel Hitchin (Mathematics, Oxford), D.F. Williams (Tissue Engineering, University of Liverpool), and John Fry (Microbial Ecology, Cardiff University). More later.

Alternative funding model for OA journals

There's a good discussion thread on LibLicense about an alternative funding model for OA journals from non-profit publishers. The basic idea, proposed by David Goodman, is that the publisher would drop subscriptions and provide OA, authors would pay processing fees per accepted article, and (the new part) libraries and other former subscribers would be "invited to contribute, at a suggested amount of about 3/4 of the current rate (with the proviso that any library that can contribute only a smaller amount is welcome to do so)." If you want to contribute to the discussion, please read David's original posting in its entirety, not just this brief summary.

Author experiences of copyright policies at law journals

Michael Froomkin has launched Copyright Experiences, a "wiki...intended to let legal academics (and other interested parties) share information about copyright experiences with law journals and other legal publishers." Because it's a wiki --a web page that any reader can edit--, publishers have a chance to respond to user comments and clarify their policies. (Thanks to Harlan Onsrud.)

More on mod_oai, "Getting OAI-PMH for free"

Last week when I first blogged mod_oai, it shared a web page with the Digital Library GRID where it was not fully described. But now it has a web site of its own. Excerpt: "The aim of the project is to create the mod_oai Apache software module that will expose content accessible from Apache Web servers via the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH)....The [OAI] protocol has had a considerable impact in the field of digital libraries but it has yet to be embraced by the general Web community. The mod_oai project hopes to achieve such broader acceptance by making the power and efficiency of the OAI-PMH available to Web servers and Web crawlers." Mod_oai is a joint project of the Old Dominion University Digital Library Research Group (Michael Nelson) and the Los Alamos National Laboratory (Herbert Van de Sompel) and funded by the Mellon Foundation.

GPO plan for OA to government information

On April 6, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) released its draft plan for the national Collection of Last Resort (CLR). Excerpt: The CLR "supports the GPO mission to provide comprehensive, timely, permanent public access to U.S. Government publications in all formats....Access copies of the stored digital objects will be available for online use by the public and for print-on-demand and document delivery services....The CLR is primarily created to support the [Federal Depository Library Program] goal of no-fee permanent public access, but also supports other GPO information dissemination and preservation programs, including print-on-demand for publications sales." Two principles guiding the CLR are (1) "The public has a right of access to public information" and (2) "The Federal Government should not allow cost to obstruct the people's access to public information." The draft says that "[t]his plan will continue to evolve as public comments are received" but gives no address or deadline for comments. (Thanks to the NFAIS Information Community News.)

New issue of the INASP Newsletter

More on the Google-DSpace initiative

Sharon Cantor, Google plans scholarly search tool, Daily Pennsylvanian, April 21, 2004. Summarizing last week's story in the Chronicle of Higher Education and adding the Penn angle. "The Penn Library and the School of Engineering and Applied Science are developing a similar pilot project -- which has also not been announced to the public -- that will use an internal search engine to access faculty-submitted scholarly materials, according to Van Pelt Library Director Sandra Kerbel. Beginning sometime this summer, Penn's scholarly archives will be searchable from the University Web site, the Library Web page and other locations on the Penn Web network. Penn's project will also allow it to link to the Google site in the future."

BMC publishes OA conference proceedings

BioMed Central now publishes open-access conference proceedings as supplements to its open-access journals.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

More on the OECD declaration on OA to publicly funded research data

Access to research data is critical to science, an unsigned note in the European Commission's Research Headlines, April 21, 2004. On the OECD's January 30 Declaration on Access to Research Data From Public Funding. Excerpt: "Unfettered access to data from publicly funded research is crucial to advancing science and the public good. However, inconsistency between governments and within the scientific community hinders the open access ideal, an OECD committee recently concluded....The OECD invites governments to develop a set of guidelines which ensure 'optimal, cost-effective access' to digital research data resulting from publicly funded research."

If we could start from scratch

Paul Ginsparg, Scholarly Information Architecture, 1989-2015, Data Science Journal, February 2004. Abstract: "If we were to start from scratch today to design a qualitycontrolled archive and distribution system for scientific and technical information, it could take a very different form from what has evolved in the past decade from preexisting print infrastructure. Ultimately, we might expect some form of global knowledge network for research communications. Over the next decade, there are many technical and nontechnical issues to address along the way, everything from identifying optimal formats and protocols for rendering, indexing, linking, querying, accessing, mining, and transmitting the information, to identifying sociological, legal, financial, and political obstacles to realization of ideal systems. What nearterm advances can we expect in automated classification systems, authoring tools, and nextgeneration document formats to facilitate efficient datamining and longterm archival stability? How will the information be authenticated and quality controlled? What differences should be expected in the realization of these systems for different scientific research fields? Can recent technological advances provide not only more efficient means of accessing and navigating the information, but also more costeffective means of authentication and quality control? Relevant experiences from open electronic distribution of research materials in physics and related disciplines during the past decade are used to illuminate these questions, and some of their implications for proposals to improve the implementation of peer review are then discussed."

Access in the future tense

The presentations from a May 2003 CLIR conference on digital preservation have been released in a new CLIR report, Access in the Future Tense, April 2004. For a quick overview, see Abby Smith's article of the same name in the March/April issue of CLIR Issues.

OA upsets world of scholarly journals

Stéphane Foucart, Le "libre accès" aux résultats de la recherche bouleverse le monde des revues savantes, Le Monde, April 16, 2004. On the launch of PLoS Biology, its immediate success and prestige, the enthusiasm for it among scientists, and how the growing evidence of its sustainability will cause OA business models to spread to other journals. (Thanks to Libre Accès à l'information scientifique & technique.)

Monday, April 19, 2004

NSF helps Cornell preserve digital mathematics

NSF has given the Cornell University Library $450,000 " to create a system for the long-term preservation and dissemination of digital mathematics and statistics journals." Excerpt from the press release: "Although scholars, teachers, and students appreciate having 24/7 access to e-research literature, this new publishing model has created a major challenge for librarians. Now, libraries no longer own copies of the journals to which they provide electronic access --they only have licensed access to the digital literature, and that access is limited to the period of time covered in their contract with the publisher. Librarians question whether they should rely on the publishers to maintain long-term access to those e-journals or if they should collaborate with each other, and with publishers, to develop digital archives."

Editorial favoring the DC principles over OA

Sanford J. Shattil, Open access, yes! Open excess, no!, Blood Journal, May 1, 2004. An editorial endorsing the DC Principles, keeping its distance from OA, mistaking the upfront processing fees for "author fees", and never quite explaining what "excess" means in the title. Shattil asserts that if Blood used the upfront funding model, it would have to charge at least $2700 per article. It's not clear whether this figure includes surplus for the society publishing Blood, the American Society of Hematology. (Thanks to Virginia Barbour.)

OA in the humanities

Peter Suber, Promoting Open Access in the Humanities, a preprint based on a January 3, 2004, presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Philological Association in San Francisco. Excerpt: "Open access isn't undesirable or unattainable in the humanities. But it is less urgent and harder to subsidize than in the sciences. Progress is taking place, and as more humanists come to understand the issues, and the strategies that work, we should expect to see progress continue and accelerate. For example, humanists may have fewer reasons for preprint archiving than STM researchers, but most of the advantages of preprint archiving still apply in the humanities and they are starting to have an effect. Humanists may feel less urgency to launch peer-reviewed, open-access journals, and find it harder to do so without funding for processing fees. But there are still reasons to launch such journals and other funding models to sustain them. Humanists may be more skittish about offering open access to their books than to their journal articles, but there are reasons why informed authors will choose to try the experiment."

Personalizing access to scholarly journals

Jette Hyldegaard and Piet Seiden, My e-journal - exploring the usefulness of personalized access to scholarly articles and services, Information Research, April 2004. Abstract: "The paper presents the results of a user evaluation study exploring the usefulness of personalized access to scholarly journals and services with regard to the information behaviour of scientists. The aim was to investigate what factors would be critical to personalization, what personalization features would be relevant and to what extent profile and behaviour based personalization would be acceptable. Three providers of personalized access to scholarly journals and services formed the basis of the study. The user group was fourteen doctoral students. Personalization was found to be associated with expectations of increased efficiency compared to traditional searching, emphasizing the need for functionality oriented features such as search alerts. Profile based personalization was to some extent positively associated with reduction of information overload. Various quality indicators were found to affect the perceived reliability of a service, making trust a critical theme when establishing a personalized user experience. The study suggests implications for the digital library when designing for a personalized information environment." (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

Dialog charging for access to free NASA information

Barbara Quint, Dialog's New AeroBase File Uses Federal Data Source, Information Today, April 19, 2004. Dialog has added AeroBase, a database on the aerospace industry, to its list of other offerings. However, Quint has discovered that AeroBase charges users for information that NASA provides to the public free of charge through its Scientific and Technical Aerospace Reports. AeroBase doesn't mention that the information comes from NASA and is uncopyrightable. On the contrary, it asserts that the information is "provided by Dialog" and claims that "AeroBase contains copyrighted information". There may be an innocent explanation for the way Dialog is misleading consumers. The NASA contract prohibits use of the NASA name or initials without the agency's permission and Dialog may have thought that it was not allowed to disclose the source of the information. Quint talked to a NASA official who said that permission "would certainly have been granted if requested" (Quint's paraphrase). We'll see whether Dialog seeks permission and discloses the true source and the true copyright status of the information even if it doesn't disclose that NASA offers an OA version of the same information. Dialog is a division of Thomson.

More on the end of the trade embargo on editing

Robin Peek, OFAC Removes Editorial Restrictions from IEEE, Information Today, April 19, 2004. Peek summarizes the OFAC ruling and the views of those who think the ruling does not resolve all the First Amendment problems created by the original embargo.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Crispin Davis: why the sci-mag barons are right

Writing in today's Observer newspaper, Crispin Davis defends Elsevier and other established publishers: "Let's look at three key questions at the heart of this debate. First, what value do established science publishers deliver to research communities in the internet age? Second, how well does the structure of the science publishing industry serve its communities? Third, could the new 'author pays to publish', or 'open access', model improve science publishing?"