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There are two new contributions to the Nature OA debate.
Editorial, Journal of Biology 3, 5 (2004). In an unsigned editorial, the journal reiterates its open access strategy, and points out four main benefits of its policy, namely: "First, authors are assured that their work is disseminated to the widest possible audience. Second, the information available to researchers is not limited by their library's budget - or their nation's wealth. Third, the widespread availability and central archiving of research articles enhances literature searching and facilitates meta-analyses of data. And fourth, the results of publicly funded research become accessible to all taxpayers, not just those with access to a specialist library." To the complaint against author fees, the journal points out that color images are free of charge, whereas some journals such as Cell charge as much as $1000 to publish them. The editorial concludes by urging authors to stay the course and support open access publishing.
There's a news item by Susan Mayor, Open access could reduce cost of scientific publishing, in BMJ 2004(8 May);328:1094. An excerpt:"... Sally Morris, chief executive of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, Worthing, said: 'It is suggested that publishing costs could be reduced by up to 30% by a move to Open Access. This is nonsense; most of the saving would be due to a move to online-only. Indeed, reduction of publishing revenues by 30% would put many very valuable journals out of business' ...".
Peter Williams and four co-authors, Information for the public about disease: usability issues in the development of the National Electronic Library for Communicable Diseases, ASLIB Proceedings, 1, 2 (2004) pp. 99-103. Only this abstract is free online: "The Institute of Health Sciences at City University has been funded by the Department of Health to construct a National Electronic Library for Communicable Disease to form part of the National Electronic Library for Health. As a final preparation for its launch, the developers have been conducting a number of experiments to test public understanding of the information housed and if the site is easily accessible and usable. This paper reports on the results of the usability tests, carried out in the Science Museum in February 2003. Data gathering was by questionnaire, observation and interview. Findings suggested a great appreciation of the site by members of the general public."
OpenCourseWare spreading worldwide, MIT Tech Talk, May 5, 2004. MIT released a survey of their OpenCourseWare (OCW) system users. "Among those using OCW are an educational technology instructor in Bangalore, India, a home-schooling parent in rural Kentucky, a university professor in Lagos, Nigeria, and a student at the University of Mississippi." The survey revealed several other phenomena, including course material translations into Spanish and Portuguese; a Chinese initiative to translate all the MIT courses, China Open Resources for Education (CORE); modules in Vietnam; and increasing interest from American universities to adopt similar models to OCW. The article quotes one user in the UK: " "There can be no greater hope for humankind than the belief that wisdom generated through increased learning will ultimately lead to a better world. With OCW, MIT has taken an ethical stand against the belief that knowledge should only be accessible to those who can pay for it or are in proximity to it." (Source: The Kept-Up Academic Librarian)
Michael Leach started a good thread on the DSpace-General list by asking whether anyone had written an authoring module for DSpace that would let the author click a button in order to submit a finished preprint to given journal (whose submission specs were already coded into the system) --and click another button in order to deposit the preprint in the institutional or disciplinary repository. Leach works for the Harvard Science Libraries and suggests that if others have not already written the code, then Harvard might give it a try.
Kristian W. Fried and Dieter Lenoir, EPA Environmental Science Database: Not Only for Americans, Angewandte Chemie International Edition 43(20), 2597 (2004). (Accessible only to subscribers.) Fried and Lenoir review the EPA Science Inventory database, freely accessible to the public since November 2003. (See earlier blog posting.) They also point out the interconnectivity between the EPA site and other U.S. government chemical and toxicological databases and herald a forthcoming (pending ratification_ European Union chemical database: REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals). Mainly, Fried and Lenoir contend that the EPA databases benefit scientists around the globe, not just in the U.S.
Vivienne Parry, A toenail in the door, The Guardian, May 6, 2004. Excerpt: "There's a touch of Through the Looking Glass about scientific publishing. In this topsy-turvy world, publishers obtain research results for nothing, have them refereed for nothing, print them in their journal and then - and this is sheer genius - sell the journal (for an arm and a leg) to the institution where the research took place. Make that several legs. The taxpayer or charity donor who footed the research bill can't see what they've paid for unless they too cross the publisher's palm with silver. That can't be right. Nor can it be right that publishers retain copyright on work that should belong to the author. This pernicious system creates knowledge paupers because new knowledge is only available to those with the cash to access it....Why aren't scientists bitching about this? First, because they are reluctant to change a system that has underpinned science since the 17th century. But there's a more fundamental reason....If you work in toenail science and the key journal in your field is the International Journal of Toenail Clippings, that's the journal you have to have, and the one you have to publish in, no matter what the cost (which rarely comes from your own pocket). In the vernacular, it's called 'having one over a barrel'....There are issues on costs and there will be a messy, sometimes bloody, interregnum as science publishing moves to a predominantly open access model. The most plaintive squeaks will come from the learned bodies, which will point to the fine initiatives, such as junior fellowships, made possible by their journal income. The best will develop other revenue streams, the worst will go to the wall. They should recall why they exist. To purvey science. To everyone....The mighty Wellcome Trust has already committed itself to open access and the research charities are bound to follow for they recognise the bang for buck they're getting for their supporters. The concept of a copy for the taxpayer is a compelling one. Science should embrace it wholeheartedly."
Sarah Hall, Research boss wary over web publishing, The Guardian, May 6, 2004. Excerpt: "The government would have to be 'pretty brave' to demand open access publishing for all publicly funded scientific research journals, a government adviser said yesterday. Professor Sir Keith O'Nions, the director-general of the Research Councils, yesterday said that it would be 'unwise' for ministers to demand that government-funded journals should be available without charge over the internet." (PS: The better policy is for the government to require OA to all taxpayer-funded research, but without specifying that it must be through OA journals. It could be through OA archives. That would insure that there was enough capacity to hold all taxpayer-funded research and at the same time preserve the freedom of authors to publish in the journals of their choice. Doubts about the OA journal business model, even though they are answerable, needn't enter the picture at all.)
Eric Lease Morgan has created a working demo of a search engine for full-text articles published in OA journals. He calls it DOAJI Search. Currently it searches a 19-title subset of the journals catalogued by the Lund DOAJ. (Morgan's "DOAJI" stands for "DOAJ Index".) He is frank about its limitations. But he could also boast about it with justification. DOAJI Search supports Boolean, phrase, field, and nested searches, in any combination. (PS: This is an excellent start on a very useful service. The DOAJ itself is planning a similar search engine to launch later this spring, perhaps even this month. Here's hoping that these two efforts will either collaborate or stimulate one another to improve, for the ultimate benefit of users.)
Effective April 8, 2004, ChemWeb.com was transferred from Elsevier Inc. to ChemIndustry.com, Inc., "the leading comprehensive directory and search engine for chemical professionals". The ChemWeb.com site provides, via a search box at the lower right of the page, a link to Chemistry Preprints, at the Chemistry Preprint Server (CPS; free registration is required). As of April 30, 2003, the CPS had archived a total of 881 preprints (plus 112 conference proceedings). Since April 8, 12 new preprints have been archived. Of the total of 881 preprints, 366 (42%) were classified as Physical Chemistry. On February 24, 2003, this percentage was the same (264/623=42%). Although I'm not a chemist, I've been gathering some data on the number of preprints in the CPS since the first preprint was archived there, on July 20, 2000. The number of Physical Chemistry preprints (and the total number of Chemistry preprints) has increased approximately linearly. Since September 1, 2000, conference proceedings have also been posted at the CPS archive. The number of these has also increased linearly.
Engineering Conferences International Symposium Series. So far one refereed and three non-refereed engineering symposia from 2003 and 2002 have been published on this open-access web site. Presentations, datasets and multimedia may also be included. Readers can receive e-mail notices when new volumes are posted to the website and can limit these alerts to a specific topic. (Source: Englib)
Mary Minow, You can help free old works from copyright - need your help identifying library collections, LibraryLaw Blog, May 3, 2004. On behalf of one of the lawyers pursuing the Kahle case, Minow asks librarians and archivists to identify works in their collections dating from 1964 to 1977 which could not be digitized under the current law, but which would enter the public domain if the lawsuit is successful. They also seek the total anumber of published print works from 1920-1950, to determine how many of these were not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. (Source: commons-blog)
cel4145 (a.k.a. Charles Lowe), Owning Knowledge: New Intersections of Intellectual Property, Technology, and Academia, Kairosnews, May 4, 2004. A proposal for a panel discussion at the 2005 Conference on College Composition and Communication includes the theme: "collaborative authorship and open access to information and creative works portend thriving knowledge formation in composition pedagogy and scholarship." Individual presentations explore this in terms of open source, the intellectual commons, new approaches to pedagogy, among others.
Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of the recent Anarchist in the Library, is guest blogging at Lessig Blog this week, talking about control of information and the "Free Culture" movement.
Tim DiLauro, Choosing the components of a digital infrastructure, First Monday, May 2004. Abstract: "This paper is based on a talk of the same name given at the IMLS–sponsored Web–Wise 2004 conference. The purpose of this paper --as with the talk before it-- is to highlight some issues and help inform the choices associated with developing digital environments within a single institution or among many. While the bulk of this discussion focuses on digital repositories as a key component of the digital infrastructure, persistent identifiers, assumptions surrounding digital preservation, and integration of digital library services are also discussed." Also see a video of the Web-Wise session covering DiLauro, Sayeed Choudhury ("Building the Digital Infrastructure"), MacKenzie Smith ("DSpace, an Institutional Repository System"), and Clifford Lynch ("Perspectives on the Emerging Digital Infrastructure"). (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey Jr.)
The April issue of Ariadne is now online. Here are the OA-related articles.
I posted my preprint on unbinding projects yesterday, and today Alf Eaton has already posted a chart showing just how many articles on HIV/AIDS might be eligible for unbinding. He covers all the articles on HIV/AIDS indexed in PubMed. I knew the volume would be large but didn't expect to see a measurement, especially this fast. Alf's chart makes me think that we should start with well more than 500 articles in the first wave, launch several projects on several sub-topics, or launch a small project soon to prove the concept and then repeat soon after for a better yield. Thanks, Alf.
J.D. Lasica, Darknet: An experiment in group editing. Lasica has posted chapters from a draft of his forthcoming Darknet: Remixing the Future of Movies, Music and Television, to be published by John Wiley & Sons (no word on open access or free download yet.) With it he has set up a wiki, encouraging readers to "participate in this effort by contributing feedback, edits, criticism, corrections, and additional anecdotes." Lasica says the entire book will eventually be posted to the site. (Sources: Boing Boing; the Shifted Librarian)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a website featuring an open database of agricultural exporters. You can use menus to limit searches to specific types of firm, product, firm location, export region, specialty product, or enter in a keyword search (product/company). A number of tutorials and information about exporting round out the site. (Source: ResearchBuzz)
Kevin G Becker et al, The Genetic Association Database, Nature Genetics 36, 431-432 (2004). (Access restricted to subscribers) Excerpt:
The increasing availability of polymorphism data has allowed more gene association studies to be carried out and the number of published genetic association studies is growing rapidly. Studies done secondarily to successful linkage studies over the last decade have also fueled the increase in published association studies. Although there are single-nucleotide polymorphism and human variation databases there is currently no public repository for genetic association data. It is difficult to query association data in a systematic manner or to integrate association data with other molecular databases. OMIM, the main repository of genetic information for mendelian disorders, is largely text based and is of a historical narrative design, making it difficult to compare large sets of molecular data. Moreover, OMIM archives mature, high-quality data of high significance, the standard in rare mendelian disorders. Although this data is useful, OMIM does not routinely collect findings of lower significance or negative findings. The study of nonmendelian, common complex disorders is often a struggle to find disease relevance with lower significance values, and often conflicting evidence. Negative data are often not reported or are marginalized into obscure and less accessible scientific journals, resulting in a publication bias favoring positive genetic associations. Here, we describe the development of a genetic association database (GAD; http://geneticassociationdb.nih.gov) that aims to collect, standardize and archive genetic association study data and to make it easily accessible to the scientific community.
John Quackenbush, Data standards for 'omic' science, Nature Biotechnology 22, 613 - 614 (2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) Quackenbush reviews various efforts of standardization of data release in the bioinformatics community, in particular the area of DNA microarray analysis. One aspect is a requirement among many journals (including Nature) that data be deposited in a public archive. Quackenbush describes the development of the Minimal Information About a Microarray Experiment (MIAME) standard and its adoption by many journals and databanks. What remains to be done, the author suggests:
The greatest value of all of the 'omics' data that is being generated will probably come when we stop considering microarray or proteomic or metabolomic or any other data set as independent and realize that together they provide us with complementary views of the fundamental biological processes we are studying. Consequently, we need to consider methods that will place these diverse data into a common reference frame that can organize the information in a manner facilitating its interpretation.(This consideration of data as well as journal articles reminds one of a posting in the first Nature open access forum; see Gertstein and Junker, Blurring the boundaries between the scientific 'papers' and biological databases, 7 May 2001.)
J. Michael Homan and Linda A. Watson, STM publishing meets NIH digital archive: librarian service on the PubMed Central National Advisory Committee, Reference Services Review, 32, 1 (2004) pp. 83-88. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: "The PubMed Central (PMC) National Advisory Committee was established by the National Institutes of Health in 1999 to guide the development of a new, open-access digital repository of biomedical research reports. Headquartered at the National Library of Medicine's National Center for Biotechnology Information, PMC has achieved significant technical accomplishments, including a recommended publisher document type definition for digital archiving, but little interest in the use of the new digital archive has been shown by the medical publishing community. This article chronicles the evolution of the initial concept from digital publisher to digital archive and includes issues related to technology and the culture of scientific communication." (Thanks to Erik Arfeuille.)
Donald J. Waters, Building on success, forging new ground: The question of sustainability, First Monday, May 2004. Abstract: "This paper focuses on three factors that contribute to the sustainability of digital scholarly resources. First, the development of such resources depends on a clear definition of the audience and the needs of users. Second, the resource must be designed to take advantage of economies of scale. Third, to create an enduring resource, careful attention is needed to the design of the organization that will manage the resource over time."
Carol Hoover, Open access publishing - an idea whose time has come, Los Alamos National Laboratory Research Library Newsletter, May 2004. A brief, helpful primer that Hoover promises is only the first in a series on OA from the LANL Research Library Newsletter. Excerpt: "The current system of scholarly publishing is not sustainable. Today the LANL Research Library has a world-class journal collection in science and technology which is under siege and will not last without changes in scholarly publishing. So, why should you consider publishing in an open access publication?  Increased dissemination,  Articles can be cited sooner,  Articles potentially cited more frequently,  Institutional costs for scholarly publishing are decreased."
There are two new contributions to Nature's running debate on OA:
Richard Poynder, U.K. Academics and Librarians Disagree Over Open Access Publishing, Information Today, May 3, 2004. Excerpt: "Committee Chair Dr. Ian Gibson began: 'Libraries have told us that there is a crisis in the provision of scientific publications: publishers vigorously deny this. Who is right?' The librarians were clear there was a crisis. Describing the environment as monopolistic, they expressed concerns over excessive pricing, inflexibility over the “bundling” of electronic journals, inequitable copyright agreements, and restrictions on long-term access to digital material....Much of the discussion revolved around OA (Open Access) publishing. OA, said [Fred] Friend, is an appropriate response to the current monopolistic environment. 'What I would urge this committee to consider is the recommendation to government that any articles based on publicly-funded research should be freely accessible over the Internet.' "
Barbara Quint, CrossRef Search Uses Google to Provide Full-Text Access, Information Today, May 3, 2004. Excerpt: "CrossRef, a 300-member publisher trade association, has announced a pilot project called CrossRef Search that will enable users to search the full text of scholarly journal articles, conference proceedings, and other sources from nine leading publishers. Google will supply the search technologies and CrossRef the reference links to publisher Web sites....[The nine] initial publishers produce some 1,100 journals, according to [CrossRef executive director Ed] Pentz....The initial pilot will last throughout 2004. CrossRef plans to gather feedback from scientists, scholars, and librarians through e-mail forms and formal evaluations using external consultants....There are only two rules for joining the pilot program, according to Pentz. 'The publisher has to have all their content indexed through the way Google indexes and make the search box available to everyone at no charge.'...CrossRef has put no requirements on access issues. Each publisher can apply its own economic model, even if it does not include a pay-per-view option. Nor, during the initial phase, were there any mechanisms for guiding users to library holdings to which they might have ?appropriate copy? access. End-users, therefore, might find themselves reading abstracts for material they can find no way to access. Pentz believes that most of the nine initial participants offer some form of pay-per-view as do two-thirds of CrossRef?s members."
Peter Suber, Unbinding Past Medical Journals: A proposal for providing open access to past research articles, starting with the most important, a preprint. I put this online now partly to benefit from reader comments and partly to stir interest in the idea it describes. Abstract: "If an authoritative scholar or organization assembled a bibliography of the most important previously published research articles on a subject of urgent public need, such as the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS, then the journals that published those articles might be persuaded to provide open access to them retroactively. This article discusses the costs and benefits to journals that participate in such a project and calls on scientists, journals, public-interest organizations, and foundations to experiment with such projects in order to accelerate research on topics where it is most needed."
I just mailed the May issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. In addition to the usual round-up of news and bibliography from the past month, it takes a look at the Credit Suisse First Boston report on the STM journal industry, the case for OAI archiving in the age of Google, and two distractions that can lead friends of OA to lose their focus and waste energy.
Stevan Harnad, Letter to the Editor: Accelerating the Transition to the Optimal and Inevitable, Information Today 21(5), 16 (May 2004). Stevan Harnad responds to Richard Poynder's article "the Inevitable and the Optimal" on the UK parliamentary inquiry on scientific publishing (see earlier blog posting). Harnad takes issue with Poynder's concern that self-archiving and library mass cancellation of journal subscriptions may lead to "a hodgepodge of (frequently unrefereed) self-archived material, " and feels that the Information Today reporter is troubling himself unnecessarily. Harnad points out the longevity of self-archiving and the distinction between the question of access and the question of subscription costs, saying that self-archiving has to do with article by article access and could scarcely create a "hodgepodge." Poynder, in his extensive reply, is not so sure, however. He sees the transition to OA as much more drawn out, and feels that indexing and searching tools such as OAIster are not yet up to the task of satisfactorily accessing self-archived material. Furthermore, Poynder disagrees with Harnad about the access/subscription distinction, maintaining that for librarians the issues are very much intertwined, and expressing his concern "that the greatest casualty of the scholarly publishing crisis will be the traditional goodwill between librarians and academics."
Paula Hane, Project Gutenberg Progresses, Information Today 21(5), 28 (May 2004). Hane reviews Project Gutenberg's growth from being the first "e-book" publisher in the early 1970s to hosting an online library of more than 10,000 freely available books today. The publisher aims to have one million books available by 2015. Gutenberg also features an RSS feed listing new additions and a selection of audio titles and electronic editions of sheet music.
The Petition for Users' Rights under Copyright law in Canada (see previous blog posting) has been officially launched, with links to a press release and instructions on how to sign the petition (in English and French). (Source: Chris Brand via Peter Suber)
Catherine Candee, Fat Cat Publishers Breaking the System, Syllabus Magazine, May 1, 2004. On OA institutional repositories, especially the California Digital Library and eScholarship Repository. Excerpt: "Out-of-control costs for scholarly publications have fueled new digital repository initiatives. The scholarly publishing system is broken. At research universities everywhere, scholarly work --in the form of articles, books, editing, reviewing of manuscripts-- is handed over to commercial publishers, only to be bought back by the libraries at huge cost. Libraries scramble to judiciously stretch shrinking budgets for growing runs of books and journals --books and journals that are critical to the research and teaching activities of the university's faculty who, as authors and editors, contribute so generously to the publishers who sell them. The arrangement is bankrupting research library budgets and swelling the profit margins of commercial publishers....Although CDL has never strayed from its original mission, we now have infrastructure in place that allows us to focus on creating systemic change in the way authors and readers work. We have technologies that allow broader, freer, more creative uses of text and data and we can begin to fashion badly needed services for the classroom, office, and lab."
The UK Observer newspaper covers the Wellcome report on Open Access: "Free online publication of scientific research - so-called open access - could cut scientific publishing costs by 30 per cent and still provide a viable business model, according to research released by the Wellcome Trust" more...