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Andrea Ciffolilli, The Economics of Open Source Hijacking and Declining Quality of Digital Information Resources: A Case for Copyleft, Free/Open Source Research Community, April 2004. Abstract: "The economics of information goods suggest the need of institutional intervention to address the problem of revenue extraction from investments in resources characterized by high fixed costs of production and low marginal costs of reproduction and distribution. Solutions to the appropriation issue, such as copyright, are supposed to guarantee an incentive for innovative activities at the price of few vices marring their rationale. In the case of digital information resources, apart from conventional inefficiencies, copyright shows an extra vice since it might be used perversely as a tool to hijack and privatise collectively provided open source and open content knowledge assemblages. Whilst the impact of hijacking on open source software development may be uncertain or uneven, some risks are clear in the case of open content works. The paper presents some evidence of malicious effects of hijacking in the Internet search market by discussing the case of The Open Directory Project. Furthermore, it calls for a wider use of novel institutional remedies such as copyleft and Creative Commons licensing, built upon the paradigm of copyright customisation." (Source: Marcus Zillman via beSpacific)
Two brief pieces in the Times Higher Education Supplement, no.1639, 8 (May 7, 2004), provide contrasting views of open access. (Restricted to subscribers.) The Wellcome Trust's Mark Walport, in "Everyone's a Winner," reaffirms his organization's support of OA, touts their study which demonstrates its cost-effectiveness, and argues that fears of breakdown in quality and peer review "are unfounded." Arie Jongejan of Elsevier, on the other hand, is quoted in "Publishers Resist Revolution" as saying that OA journals "should come with health warnings about integrity, quality and access." Further concerns aired include prevalence of funding bodies in OA publishing at the expense of less well-supported researchers, and society publishers' belief that the author fees wouldn't even come close to sustaining the quality associated with their publications. (Source: Tom Roper's Weblog)
The Earlham College server, which hosts this blog, will be down for maintenance tomorrow, Saturday, May 15, from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. I'm sorry for the interruption of service.
Catherine Brahic, New journal crosses disciplines, the Scientist, May 14, 2004. Brahic reports on the Royal Society of London's new journal Interface, which will publish papers "relating to both physics and the life sciences." The journal posted its first paper last week and is freely accessible for 2004, but no subscription policy has been determined for thereafter. Comparisons to the IoP's PhysicalBiology (also offering one year free access, but will switch to subscription in 2005) are included. Doubts about the utility of printing the journal are expressed. (Thanks to George Porter, who notified the SPARC Open Access Forum mailing list of this title.)
John S. James, Improving AIDS conferences with online information, AIDS Treatment News no.398, 7-8 (27 Feb 2004). In order to improve the ability for scientists to make crucial connections at conferences, James suggests that less time at the actual event be taken up with presentations, which could be posted online prior to the meeting. The author also points out the following potential benefit: "Such a conference would be open to the whole world's scientific communities and other interested groups -- including the great majority of people who cannot fly to that particular city for the meeting. Working relationships could develop remotely as well as face to face."
Mark Glaser, Scholars Discover Weblogs Pass Test as Mode of Communication, Online Journalism Review, May 14, 2004. More on academic blogology, or the study of blogging, than the academic use of blogs, unfortunately. (Thanks to the NFAIS Information Community News.)
Bobby Pickering, Thomson ISI cites an equal impact, Information World Review, May 13, 2004. Excerpt: "Thomson ISI vice-president of development, Jim Pringle, said...'We're often asked by researchers "If I publish in an open access journal, will my work carry the same weight?", and we're now able to tell them, on the strength of this initial evidence, there is hardly any measureable difference.'...Pringle said OA journals had top-end and bottom-end profiles on the scale --just as traditional journals did. 'Let's take the Journal of Clinical Investigation, which is an open access journal that has an impact factor of 14.051, which is third highest of 74 in its disciplinary category "Medicine, Research & Experimental". Another example is BMC Cancer, which is at the lower end of its category --but it's a new journal and it can take a long time before it shows up on impact.' "
An important research project on OA, Open Access Communication for Science (OACS), now has a web site. The project is lead by Bo-Christer Björk of the Swedish school of Economics and Business Administration (HANKEN) and funded by the Academy of Finland. OACS focuses on three topics: (1) "Economics of the scientific publishing life-cycle process", (2) "Changing behaviour of scientists in seeking information", and (3) "New copyright arrangements taking into account open access publishing". The nine researchers associated with the project already have an impressive list of publications on OA and scholarly communication behind them.
P.V Ramachandran and Vinod Scaria, Open Access Publishing in the Developing World: making a difference, Journal of Orthopaedics, 1, 1 (2004). The editorial in the inaugural issue of a new OA journal. Excerpt: "Scholarly publishing in the Developing world is still dominated by the conventional print technology, which is both expensive to produce and distribute. This has added to the burden of the low profit margin of publishers, which significantly hamper further investments. Moreover, the International readership of these Journals, are abysmally low which indirectly reflects in the low visibility and impact of these Journals....Open Access can change the scenario by a multi-pronged approach. Firstly by releasing the content in an open access license, which inherently includes reuse permissions, will make it available in different forms and different avenues free of cost. This significantly improves access. For example, a recent editorial published in Calicut Medical Journal was translated to vernacular language and republished in a popular health magazine, which made the article accessible to a community which had no access to the primary literature."
Alicia Ryan, Contract, Copyright and the Future of Digital Preservation, Journal of Science and Technology Law 10(1),(Winter 2004). Ryan views the access question in terms of preservation and argues that libraries and archives should be granted the right to copy digital works, copy web sites, and have the right to lend digital materials, especially in cases where the works are at risk or no longer commercially available. (Source: LawLibrary Blog)
Four first-rate liberal arts colleges in Minnesota (Carleton, Gustavus Adolphus, Macalester, and St. Olaf) have separately refused three-year renewals of ScienceDirect. Their decisions were independent, but they issued a joint press release. Excerpt: "While the reasons and decision processes were somewhat different on each campus, we are all convinced that the escalating prices for many scientific journals are unsustainable and that the time has come for change....Our faculties are aware that this decision will result in a painful reduction in a overall journal access in the short term. But they are supporting us because they understand that it is in the long term interests of our institutions to reassert control over our collections and to encourage new, more sustainable publishing models....Open access journals are a clear alternative to the unsustainable bundling of journals, which prohibits cancellations and which consistently increase at rates of 5-8% per year. We are working with other colleges and universities to address this crisis by supporting the work of SPARC, Public Library of Science, and other groups that seek to increase broad and cost-effective access to peer reviewed scholarship. In declining the Science Direct offer we are joining an increasing number of institutions signaling that we are serious in our demands for reasonable pricing for scholarly communication." The press release closes with five strong recommendations for the four campuses to consider:
(PS: See my list of other college and university actions against high journal prices, most accompanied by similar public statements.)
Rita Vine, Just Because It's Indexed Doesn't Mean You'll Find It, SiteLines, May 12, 2004. Vine, a librarian who specializes in web searching, finds problems with what many see as an advance towards accessing open content, the indexing of various databases in Google. She uses the example of PubMed and shows how a search in Google will be quite different from one in PubMed. The writer points out the detrimental effect of Google's page-ranking algorithm in this context:
In this example, I searched the keywords asthma children in Google. The result is a large results list. The sites in the first pages of results aren't particularly bad: Google weights certain domains, like cdc.gov, and medlineplus.gov more heavily and as a result the search results aren't completely overwhelmed by .com medical sites. But where are the results from PubMed? A search of the first ten pages of the asthma children search above reveals no PubMed citations. Why? Because these individual PubMed citations are hardly ever linked by other web pages, and as a result they receive a low PageRank in Google. The net effect? The low-ranked PubMed results sink to the bottom of Google's search results list for practically any medical topic.Vine explains further limitations to Google searching compared with PubMed, especially with respect to truncation and PubMed's ability to match keywords with like MeSH headings. While a tool that searches multiple databases is highly desirable, Vine remarks, it isn't useful if it doesn't search content effectively.
Siân Harris interviews Eric van Amerongen, the CEO of Royal Swets and Zeitlinger, in the April issue of Research Information. Excerpt:
(PS: Is van Amerongen really unaware that OA journals have been performing peer review for more than 15 years? As of today, the DOAJ lists 1,086 peer-reviewed OA journals. What do investors think when they see a CEO make this kind of elementary mistake?)
Peter Rees, Will Banking Data Improve Research Output? Research Information, April 2004. Excerpt: "Experimental results have always gone missing or, perhaps, have simply not been properly recorded. If the margin of Diophantus' Arithmetica had been wider, Fermat might have been able to write out his proof of his last theorem. Being able to check Fermat's reasoning might then have spared generations of mathematicians from tearing their hair out in search of the missing solution. But what if all the important details of a scientific experiment could be captured electronically from the beginning, and published in a digital library for all to read, thus saving duplicated effort and erroneous conclusions? This could be one of the outcomes of eBank, a 12-month project that will look at how research data could be used over and over again for further research and teaching." eBank will use the open-source ePrints software, which will make the the data archive not only open access but also interoperable with other OAI-compliant archives.
David Mort, You Can't Read E-Journals When the Lights Go Out, Research Information, April 2004. Excerpt: "At the start of 2004, IRN established a User Panel of 30 leading STM Information Professionals in the UK....[A] significant minority of panellists also recognise the efforts being made to create viable digital archives and mention initiatives, such as: the Electronic Archives Initiative (EIA) from JSTOR; LOCKKS [sic]; and the work of the National Library in the Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek). The latter has set up agreements with Elsevier, Biomed Central, and Kluwer, to maintain digital access to archives. Librarians and information specialists are beginning to see that efforts are being made to preserve archives, but many are unsure about the long-term impact of these initiatives on their own institutions....Participants in the STM Information User Panel were asked the question 'Does your organisation have a disaster-recovery plan?' and a reassuringly high percentage - 67 per cent - stated 'yes'. Another 17 per cent said 'no', and 17 per cent did not know. None of the participants claimed to have any involvement in plan-development and monitoring."
Google is on a roll in acquiring rights to offer free full-text searching of priced online journals. It started indexing metadata for Ingenta journal articles in February and added full-text indexing in March. As Ingenta's Google-visibility rose, its usage rose dramatically. For example, Ingenta had 5.4 million Google-referred users in April alone. Today Ingenta announced that Google had finished its full-text index of existing Ingenta titles. From today's press release: "Although the crawler is authorized for full text access, all other users are subject to the usual Ingenta.com access control checks. If a Google user follows a search result that refers to text in the article itself, they will be presented with the abstract page on Ingenta.com and will either be authenticated for full text subscriber access by virtue of their IP address or username and password, or will be offered pay-per-view. 'We are extremely pleased to be working with Google to enhance the visibility of publishers' content,' commented Kirsty Meddings, Ingenta Senior Product Manager. 'Ingenta publishers already benefit from the widest third party distribution network within the industry, and now we are able to broadcast the availability of this key scholarly content to the huge global audience of Google searchers.'"
The Journal of Orthopaedics a new peer reviewed Open Access Journal published from the Department of Orthopaedics, Calicut Medical College and jointly funded by the Calicut Ortho Alumni Association and Prof PK Surendran Memorial Education Foundation was officially launched today. The Journal is the fifth Open Access Journal from the Institute and is thought to become one of the premier Orthopaedics Journals worldwide.
The April 12 issue of Library Journal has three brief, unsigned stories on OA.
Margaret Phillips, Keeping Online Information Accessible for E-governance and E-democracy, National Library of Australia, 2004. Abstract: "Democracy, governance, consultation and participation all depend on the availability of authentic and reliable information. Government agencies at the federal, state and local levels, as well as educational and research institutions, are producing increasingly large volumes of information in electronic formats only. While Australia has done more than most countries to date to address the need to identify, collect, store and preserve publications and organisational records in electronic formats, large amounts of information are still at risk of loss." (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)
Charles W. Bailey, Jr. has issued Version 53 of his monumental Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. Version 53 cites more than 2,100 books, articles, and other resources on scholarly electronic publishing.
Michael Keller, Casting Forward; Collection Development After Mass Digitization or Doing One's Part: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally, Charleston Advisor, April 2004. Excerpt: "We are at the cusp of projects that will dramatically increase the amount of carefully selected, extensively validated, widely consulted, and often cited information available through the internet. Only a few considerations hinder us from providing our readers, our students, and our faculty with vastly improved opportunities to search, to read, to cite, and to exploit the digitized contents of our libraries. And for publishers, those few considerations hinder the next level of exploitation of their publications, whether issued in the past decade or the past centuries. Significantly those hindrances are not mechanical."
Manoj Pandey, Steven D Heys and Albert B Lowenfels, World Journal of Surgical Oncology: One year of Open Access publishing, World Journal of Surgical Oncology 2, 14 (12 May 2004). The editors reflect on one year of their online journal and affirm their belief in open access publishing. "It is important that advances in Surgical Oncological practice should be available to all those involved in the care of the patient, no matter where they are in the world," particularly if funds and other resources are scarce, they point out. Furthermore, Pandey and company cite the internationality of their journal's editorial board, "and its global reach due to open access offers one of the fastest disseminations of new knowledge and technical know-how that there is." At the same time, they comment on the journals' peer reviewing and acceptance, noting that 57.6 per cent of the 52 papers submitted to the journal were accepted. Finally, the editors quote some usage statistics, noting that several papers were downloaded more than 3000 times.
Mohd. Aqil, Open access publishing: a boon for scientific community, Medical Science Monitor 10(5), LE5 (May 2004). (Free with registration.) Aqil writes a laudatory letter praising open access journals (in particular Medical Science Monitor,) calling OA "a win-win situation for everyone," and remarking how it increases convenience and rapid access to scientific information. As for whether some journals are more reliable than others, Aqil states inclusion in indexing and abstracting services would be a helpful indicator of quality. The writer does not agree with the author-payment model, however, and suggests that OA journals might best be supported by advertising. Finally, he touts the benefits of OA for scientists in the developing world and opines that "the best" will be encouraged by it.
Binu V. John, Affordability of medical journal subscriptions in developing countries, The Lancet 363(9417), 1325-1326 (2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) John's letter points out the disparities in journal subscription costs between the United States and, for example, his own India, where an "annual personal subscription to The Lancet could cost a physician in a developing country a month's income ($195)." However, he does not regard open access as a solution but rather sees a similar disparity:
It is unreasonable to expect scientists from resource-poor countries to pay $1500 towards article processing charges to publish in journals such as PLoS Biology. Such high fees will dissuade scientists from sending their articles to these journals or will make scientists reliant on pharmaceutical companies, even for research which they have otherwise done on their own limited budgets. Many journals do allow authors to apply for that amount to be waived, but scientists would hate having to beg for charity to get their work published.
Jean Nicholas Druey, Information Cannot Be Owned, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, Research Publication No. 2004-05, April 2004. From the abstract: "Apart from technology, the information age has up to now badly served its idol. It has failed sufficiently to recognize specific features of information. This is shown with respect to the question whether legal rights on information can take the form of ownership. The answer is negative considering that communication by its very nature is free and constitutes a basic value, and furthermore that law is itself information and cannot systematically dispose of information flows. Analyzing the phenomenon of information, the differences of its properties as compared with those of a physical object are illustrated and assessed as fundamental; ownership would therefore be for information a Procrustean bed leading to mere arbitrariness. Intellectual property, although granting exclusive rights concerning information is not by itself opposed to these findings. But the conflict arises, if its purpose of shaping competitive advantages is spoiled to the detriment of information flows by lack of neutrality in two senses: the lack of balance between the title holder’s value generation and the reward, and of neutrality towards the various kinds of communicative relationships." (Source: beSpacific)
Bobby Pickering, Wellcome says OA will reduce publishing costs, Information World Review, May 12, 2004. Excerpt: "The Wellcome Trust has launched an all-out attack on commercial STM publishing in a new report that claims that open access will wipe as much as 30% off the publishing costs of scientific articles....Dr Mark Walport, director of the trust, said: 'As a research funder we have to question whether it is right that we, and others, are in the position of having to pay to read the results of the research we fund.'...Walport said the main aim of the report was to start a dialogue with learned societies to encourage them to embrace OA. 'It's time for serious discussion, particularly with the learned societies which, as the report makes clear, should have nothing to fear from a new publishing model.' "
Extenza announced today that Google will index all its ejournals. Quoting the press release: "Extenza, based in Abingdon, UK, provides conversion and hosting of journals for publishers as well as subscription and usage statistics management for libraries. Google is the foremost search engine on the web and has been expanding its reach into the academic and scholarly journal marketplace. 'Increasingly, users are turning to Google as the place to locate information in the academic marketplace. Extenza has recognized that enabling the indexing of content by Google, with the publishers' agreement, helps users find that important piece of data that they are seeking. For publishers, this drives utilization and traffic to their content, with potential benefits in revenue.' said Ruth Jones, General Manager of Extenza e-Publishing Services."
Mark Chillingworth, JISC seeks common ground with information providers, Information World Review, May 6, 2004. Excerpt: "JISC has appointed Paul Miller as director of the common information environment (CIE), giving him the main task of tackling the confusion and scepticism surrounding CIE among information providers and professionals....CIE aims to link academic, health and museum online libraries. A subject-based interface, probably a portal, will connect users to public information. 'There is a lot of content out there in different silos and there is value in being able to move amongst them more easily,' said Miller....Information suppliers are concerned that CIE will open up their resources to free public access, damaging licence agreements. 'This needs clarifying, it is a complex issue,' said Ciaran Morton, Dialog executive vice-president. Morton supports the CIE; he sees public sector opportunities for improved taxonomies and purchasing agreements. 'As an aggregator, it would seem odd if we were against it.' Miller assures the industry that the CIE would not break licences, but would look at integrating protected content into the CIE for subscribers to access."
Mark Chillingworth, Google refines scientific search with CrossRef pilot, Information World Review, May 10, 2004. Excerpt: "Google's search engine has finally made a major move into the scientific publishing community, following the announcement of a one-year trial initiative with index-linking specialist CrossRef....CrossRef Search offers full-text searching across the scientific journals and conference papers available from the [nine participating] publishers....It is expected other publishers will join the scheme in time. 'The aim is to have all publishers join and create a ubiquitous search,' Tibbitts said. 'Users don't care where information is published, they just want access, it is better to have something that everyone can use,' said Peter Wrobel, managing editor of Nature."
Research should be free on web, an unsigned story in today's London Times. Excerpt: "Universities currently access research material through subscriptions to journals. But open-access online publishing would scrap subscription fees, leaving the researchers to pick up the tab for the cost of having their work peer-reviewed. A study commissioned by The Wellcome Trust, which spends more than £400 million a year on research, suggests that open access is the only economically viable option for institutions."
A new study by the Rand Corporation concludes that the U.S. federal government took too much open-access information off government web sites after the terrorist attacks of September 11. Quoting an AP news story (May 10): "The Rand Corp. said the overwhelming majority of federal Web sites that reveal information about airports, power plants, military bases and other potential terrorist targets need not be censored because similar or better information is easily available elsewhere....Advocates of open government said the report shows the Bush administration acted rashly after the suicide attacks when it scrubbed numerous government Web sites. 'It was a gigantic mistake, and I hope the study brings some rationality back to this policy,' said Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' project on government secrecy. 'Up to now, decisions have been made on a knee-jerk basis.'" (Thanks to Internet Law News.)
A. Malcolm Campbell, Open Access: A PLoS for Education, PLoS Biology, May 2004. Excerpt: "During the past three years, I have taught an undergraduate course in genomics in which I capitalize on a confluence of two trends in the field: public domain databases and open-access journals....First-year students use Genome Browser and BLAST to determine the molecular causes of cystic fibrosis and Huntington disease, respectively. The benefit of public databases and open-access literature to educators is obvious and immediate. Images can be used in lectures, and papers can be distributed easily and on short notice for class use. There is no need to worry about limited access due to subscription costs nor an obligation to obtain copyright permission from publishers, which is a bothersome and sometimes expensive process for busy faculty members. By reducing nonproductive busy work for faculty, open-access journals have already created an environment that is improving undergraduate education today with long-term benefits in creating research-ready graduate students. Students who are exposed to publicly available literature through their coursework often develop an expectation that all research papers will be freely available to them from any computer and become frustrated if they do not have access to all the journal articles they want and need to read."
Helen Doyle, Andy Gass, and Rebecca Kennison, Open Access and Scientific Societies, PLoS Biology, May 2004. Excerpt: "Reaching a 'steady-state' system of open-access publishing by scientific societies will require three critical components: recognition that open access serves societies' members and missions; diversified revenue streams not solely dependent on subscription or site-license fees; and society publishers' making use of recent innovations in journal production and dissemination, which can dramatically reduce the costs of publishing....As open-access journals become more established, however, and as the benefits of open access to scientific and medical literature become more apparent to society members, the demand for the broadest possible dissemination of research is only likely to grow."
John Zarocostas, WHO boosts internet access to clinical trials, the Lancet 363(9416), 1206 (10 April 2004).(Access restricted to subscribers.) Zarocostas reports in a brief news piece that the World Health Organization (WHO) will post clinical trial information in the ISRCTN Register, a a database of randomised controlled clinical trials, each assigned an International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number(ISRCTN). "Until now there has been no easy mechanism to make WHO research easily available to researchers––particularly those in developing countries whom it affects most," the article states. "The register should make it easier for the scientific community to track and keep up to date with current research developments, WHO says."
The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has posted the uncorrected transcript of the oral testimony from May 5. The witnesses in this transcript are Keith O'Nions (Director General of the Research Councils), Rama Thirunamachandran (Director of Research and Knowledge Transfer, Higher Education Funding Council for England), and John Wood (Research Councils UK). "Any public use of, or reference to, the contents should make clear that neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings." (Thanks to David Prosser.)
Lance Fortnow, Page Charges, My Computational Complexity Web Log, May 8, 2004. Fortnow notes that both the ACM and SIAM, small scientific societies, have begun levying page charges for articles published in their journals. He expresses his disagreement, saying that the fees could be spent otherwise, for example paying a graduate student's way to a meeting. Fortnow concludes: "We have problems in our field with expensive for-profit journals and papers that never appear in refereed journals at all. We need to encourage authors to send their articles to journals run by the non-profit societies. We should not then send them a bill for doing the right thing."
Jeffrey Young, Scientific Publisher to Offer Search Engine for Article Abstracts, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 14, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "About 50 colleges are participating in the test of the search tool, called Scopus. It searches journals from many publishers, and is expected to be widely available this fall. Company officials will not say how much the service will cost. Libraries that subscribe to the service can customize it so that users can go directly from search results to the full text of an article if the college has an electronic subscription to the journal, or to catalog information if the college has a paper copy. Scopus also searches a selected group of academic Web sites. The tool seems designed to compete with Thomson ISI's popular Web of Science search engine....Like its competitors, Scopus can point readers to all articles that cite a particular scholarly work. But Elsevier officials say their service includes material from nearly twice as many journals as Web of Science, which indexes about 8,700 titles. [Scopus indexes over 14,000 journals.] 'That's going to have quite a major impact on the citations,' says Harriet Bell, a senior marketing manager for Elsevier. 'You'll get to see articles that cited your papers that you wouldn't get from the Web of Science.' "
Rihcard Koman, Free the Orphans: A Look at the Case of Kahle v. Ashcroft, O'Reilly Network, May 6, 2004. Koman relates an anecdote of an editor who wanted to republish some journal articles, but the copyright holder was deceased and his heirs could not be located. Such works are the "orphans" referred to in the title; "works that would have gone out of copyright when their creators failed to renew a copyright claim under the old law but which are now kept in prolonged copyright" (as a result of the Copyright Act of 1976's elimination of copyright renewal.) That forms the basis of the Kahle case, as it challenges the constitutionality of such "automatic, implicit copyright."
Les Carr has written an account of the Open Access Workshops in Chennai, India (May 2-4 and 6-8, 2004). Excerpt: "The workshops were attended by 50 scientists, research managers and librarians from a wide range of research institutions from India....The workshops covered essential background (Open Access philosophy, the theory of the Open Archiving Metadata Protocols, issues of document and metadata formats) but majored on the practical aspects of using, installing and configuring EPrint archives, with a particular focus on the budgetary and management resources required for setting up a pilot project within each organistaion to establish an institutional archive." The workshops were funded by the Open Society Institute, the International Development Research Centre of Canada, The British Council, and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in India.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) has launched a three-year fundraising campaign to assure its long-term survival as a high-quality, peer-reviewed, open-access encyclopedia. SEP is asking libraries attached to institutions with philosophy degree programs to make three annual contributions to an SEP endowment. These contributions can be classified as subscriptions, donations, or memberships, depending on what local policies permit. If enough libraries participate, then SEP will meet its goal on time and will be OA forever after. If the SEP fails in the future, the endowment will be dissolved and donors will get pro-rated refunds. The benefit for libraries is that they will pay much less this way than if SEP had to adopt a subscription-based access model. The benefit for users is that this first-rate OA resource will remain OA and have the funds it needs to continue to grow at its present level of quality. If it works, SEP will be the first OA resource supported by an endowment. The plan includes contributions from Stanford University, a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and assistance from ICOLC, SOLINET, and SPARC. For more details, see the ICOLC Call to Action.
(PS: I'm excited in part because I've always thought that endowments are the most secure and sustainable form of OA funding, even if they are the hardest to build. This plan already has the support of the host institution, major library groups, and the major funder in the field. It has a real shot at success and could make endowments a realistic possibility for other OA resources as well. Moreover, the SEP has proved its value over time and deserves this commitment and support. Online and OA since 1995, edited by Ed Zalta, and peer-reviewed by the Stanford philosophy department, the SEP pioneered the idea that published encyclopedia articles can be updated in real time to keep pace with the changing state of scholarship.)
The May/June issue of Health Affairs includes an editorial Global Health Policy And Free Access To Information.
Finland's National Electronic Library has negotiated institutional memberships in BioMed Central for every university, polytechnic, and research institute in the country. Quoting BMC's Natasha Robshaw in today's press release: "Finland is leading the world in its nationwide commitment to Open Access, and this is a huge boost for the Open Access movement. We look forward to other nations making the same strides to support making research findings freely available."
Blaise Cronin, Scholars and Scripts, Eyeballs and Epistemes: What it Means to Publish, the PPT slides from his April 29, 2004, public lecture at OCLC. If you prefer to hear the lecture, OCLC is providing an MP3 file. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)
Vikas Kamat asked Eugene Garfield what he thought about OA journals. In particular, does he think they will "dilute the quality of scholarship?" Garfield's reply: "I have tried to avoid public comment on the Open Access issue. But a simple answer to your question is NO!!"