Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, June 04, 2004

New JIME on educational semantic web

The current issue of the Journal of Interactive Media in Education is devoted to the semantic web in education.

OhioLINK and PLoS sign deal

The Ohio Library and Information Network (OhioLINK) has struck an interesting deal with the Public Library of Science.  For every faculty member in the 84 member institutions, OhioLINK will pay half the article processing fee charged by PLoS journals.  Only six of the 84 colleges and universities are already institutional members of PLoS.  From the June 2 press release:  "Helen Doyle, PLoS director of development and strategic alliances, said the OhioLINK program would 'help to catalyze a widespread transition to open- access publishing in science and medicine.' Doyle told the LJ Academic Newswire that OhioLINK and PLoS had discussed extensively the possibility of making OhioLINK an institutional member, but settled instead on the current arrangement."

More on Elsevier's business position

Jeremy Warner, Outlook:  Reed Elsevier, Independent, June 4, 2004.  Excerpt:  "As market leader with approximately 17 per cent of the global market, Mr [Crispin] Davies should be sitting pretty, yet he's under attack as never before from those who want to see scientific and medical research freely available to all over the internet. The Commons' Science and Technology Committee promises next month to produce a report on the issue....Yesterday, Reed appeared to make a small concession to the 'free to air' lobby. In future, all research that has been approved for publication in one of Reed's journals can be displayed free prior to publication in edited form on the researcher's or institution's website. Researchers can already display their work on their own websites after publication, so the move hardly represents a decisive break in the dam.  Even so, it's a concession which plainly weakens the business model to some degree. First publication rights have been conceded. It is indicative of the pressure Reed is under from its contributors that it has felt obliged to go even this far."  (PS:  Warner then gives some off-base commentary on OA.  For example, even if the Wellcome Trust is right that OA journals would cost much less to produce than Elsevier journals of comparable quality, "it's hard to see what the benefit to the scientific community might be."  Given this, it's hard to trust his commentary on anything else.)

More on Elsevier's new policy on OA archiving

Saeed Shah, Reed Elsevier gives in on free research, Independent, June 4, 2004.  Excerpt:  "Reed Elsevier has allowed academics who submit articles for publication in its science journals to make the research available for free on their personal or institutional websites.  The move was seen as a major concession to the 'open access' lobby - a movement among academics and university librarians that argues that published research should be made available to all scientists free....Arie Jongejan, the chief executive of the science & technology division of Elsevier, insisted the company's policy on publication was already much more 'liberal' than opponents suggested. He said the latest concession was 'what our critics and authors want'."

Further evidence on the representation of developing world interests in academic journals

One of the charges levelled against the author-pays model of open access is that it will make it more difficult for authors from poorer countries to get their research published. David Spurgeon, in a paper in this week's BMJ (BMJ 2004;328:1337) highlights a more significant problem: the under representation of '3rd world' health issues in the leading medical journals. This suggests that the chief issue facing poorer countries is not page charges, or even access to journals, but in getting funding for research on their principal health challenges.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

DOAJ launches article-level searching

Today Lund University launched Phase 2 of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). From the press release: "The new version of DOAJ now includes records at article level and a search functionality allowing users to search articles in potentially all Open Access Journals. The directory now contains information about more than 1100 open access journals, i.e. quality controlled scientific and scholarly electronic journals that are freely available on the web. As of today 270 of the 1100 journals are searchable on article level and both numbers are growing. Researchers can now search almost 46,000 articles through the Directory of Open Access Journals and be sure to get access to the articles." (PS: This is a major step forward in making OA content more discoverable, retrievable, visible, and useful. Kudos to Lotte Jorgensen, Lars Bjørnshauge, and everyone else on the DOAJ team at Lund!)

Ramifications of OFAC policy for co-authors from embargoed countries

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, U.S. Trade Policy Creates Confusion Over Co-Authorship, Science 304(1576), 1422 (4 June 2004) (access restricted to subscribers.) Bhattacharjee explores the implications of the U.S. Treasury Department's OFAC ruling that appears to prohibit co-authorship between U.S. authors and their counterparts in countries with which the U.S. has a trade embargo. An Iranian scientist's plight is described in detail, particularly how the release of his data may be hindered by this ruling. Discussion of the legitimacy of OFAC's jurisdiction over the issue and OFAC's potential willingness to consider individual cases ensues.

OA session @ ALA Annual, Orlando

OPEN ACCESS PUBLISHING MODELS: FLORIDA ENTOMOLOGIST AND THE BERKELEY ONLINE PRESS STS Publisher/Vendor Relations Discussion Group Orange County Convention Center, Rm. 206C Saturday June 26, 2004, 9:30 - 11:00 a.m. Speakers: Dr. Thomas Walker, Professor Emeritus of Entomology, University of Florida, Gainesville, on OA initiatives of the Florida Entomological Society and the Entomological Society of America. Dr. Aaron Edlin, Professor, Boalt Hall Law School and Department of Economics at U.C. Berkeley and co-founder, Berkeley Electronic Press on "The Berkeley Electronic Press Publishing Model." Interesting looking session. Florida Entomologist is a pioneering (v1, 1917), peer-reviewed entomology journal, which has pushed aggressively into the online world. It was the first OA title in BioOne. They've digitize and released the entire backfile for Open Access from their primary website. Berkeley Electronic Press (BE Press) has a complete suite of digital publishing tools and services. Although the economics and law journal sets, and a single title in chemical engineering, are subscription-based, BE Press recently launched an OA conference proceedings service, Engineering Conferences International.

Canadian funder discriminates against OA journals

The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL) is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal published by Athabasca University in Canada. It recently applied for funds from the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), but was turned down on the ground that it does not have at least 200 paying subscribers. IRRODL explained that it was an open-access journal, that it was peer-reviewed, that it had at least 6,800 regular readers, and that it was indexed in the DOAJ, but SSHRC was unmoved. IRRODL has been forced to launch an emergency appeal for 200 supporters to pay a token subscription fee of $10/year. "In the spirit of an Open Access journal your subscription will NOT provide any additional services to those available to unpaid subscribers. However, you will be demonstrating to SSRCH and other potential funders that you value IRRODL and support its decision to continue to provide free access to the journal...." (Thanks to James Farmer.) (PS: In the age of open access, it is inaccurate and harmful to use subscriber tallies as a measure of excellence or fund-worthiness. I invite SSHRC to change its policy or explain it.)

More on the new Elsevier policy

Lucy Sherriff, Reed says yes to science on the Web, The Register, June 3, 2004. A very misleading account of Elsevier's new policy. (1) This is not a "u-turn from [Elsevier's] previous position". Elsevier formerly allowed postprint archiving with case-by-case permission. Now it gives blanket permission in advance (for certain kinds of postprint archiving). (2) Elsevier does not limit authors to posting "plain-text" versions of their articles. (3) Elsevier does not limit authors to post only to their own personal web sites. (4) Elsevier does not require that there "be no external links to the re-published text".

More on Google's outreach to online scholarship

Paula Hane, The Latest on Factiva, Ingenta, Google, and More, Information Today, June 3, 2004. Excerpt: "Of greater interest and importance to researchers were Google's recently announced partnerships with traditional information industry companies, which continue its initiatives to include scholarly content....Ingenta joins organizations like IEEE, OCLC, and others that now have content indexed by Google....Extenza, another U.K. company, announced that Google is indexing the e-journal content (in either Adobe PDF or full-text HTML) held on its Extenza e-Publishing Services journal hosting platform....CrossRef, a 300-member publisher trade association that provides a cross-publisher reference-linking service, announced a pilot project called CrossRef Search that enables users to search the full text of scholarly journal articles, conference proceedings, and other sources from nine leading publishers. (See Barbara Quint's NewsBreak.) Not surprisingly, Google is supplying the search technologies, while CrossRef is providing the reference links to publisher Web sites....All of these publisher and vendor deals with Google raise the sticky issue of searching subsets versus the entire mass of indexed Web content. Will users of Google's general Web search engine really benefit? Will the scholarly articles rise high enough in search results to actually be found, or will they be buried in obscurity many thousands of results down? Placement is certainly an issue. Wouldn't it be more productive to search within slices of content?"


Judith Blake, Bio-ontologies—fast and furious, Nature Biotechnology 22, 773 - 774 (2004) (access restricted to subscribers.) Excerpt: "Beyond dictionaries or thesauri, bio-ontologies formally represent relationships between defined biological concepts, such that the vocabularies can be used both by humans and by computers to exchange and explore information. The pace with which bio-ontologies are implemented and adopted by the scientific research community will have a significant impact on the ability to integrate, explore and infer knowledge from scientific data. This development will also influence the evolution of traditional scientific publishing towards reports that are seamlessly linked to online informatics resources."

Computer security implications for OA

Dov Greenbaum et al, Computer security in academia—a potential roadblock to distributed annotation of the human genome, Nature Biotechnology 22, 771 - 772 (2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) Greenbaum and colleagues discuss how threats to computer security such as viruses, worms, hacks and the like increase the cost of computer maintenance to institutions and imperil openness and interoperability for researchers wishing to access each other's data. "Free and broad dissemination of ideas between independent laboratories and the public is the hallmark of research," they write. Apart from dire scenarios of overstretched IT departments, and increasing restrictions that may result, the authors suggest "creating a community-wide system of identity management and authentication (perhaps via Shibboleth). This would greatly help in the interoperation of tools within a federated database framework."

More on Google and CrossRef Search

Péter Jascó reviews the CrossRef Search Pilot in his column, Péter's Digital Reference Shelf, Thomson Gale, June 2004. Excerpt: "Make no mistake, I like Google....I appreciate how smart and nibble it is with 3.5 billion Web pages of mostly unstructured text with no metadata, no tagged and marked fields to identify author, publication date, subject and the likes. But I am not impressed by its...modest ability in handling a collection of about 2.5 million scholarly articles that are endowed with consistently used rich metadata. These articles were presented to Google (whose spider could not crawl these pages) on a silver platter by nine well-known publishers for the CrossRef Search Pilot project." (Thanks to Gary Price.)

Update. See Jascó's supplement to this article, presenting "some findings of [his] research about the significant differences between searching the publishers' archives through their native search engines and through Google's special index".

OA recommendation to the EU 7th Framework Programme

Lilian van der Vaart, Quo Vadis Academia? A Triptych, April 22, 2004. A position paper inspired by Holland's DARE Project written for the EU 7th Framework Programme. Excerpt: "Although creation and communication of new knowledge are equally important, the latter process has been relatively underexposed in the scientific research domain. Universities and research institutes rarely have an articulated scientific communications policy, let alone a matching strategy and infrastructure. Yet, the appropriate technology is available. It is time realise an irreversible breakthrough in the flow of research results to education, to professionals, to society and, not the least, to the scientists themselves. A concerted effort at EU level could give the decisive push. Recommended R&D and related policy priotities for Europe in FP7:...[The EU should adopt] a European Research Charter...The Research Charter should define generic guidelines for open access to (publicly financed) research results and include recommendations to European Governments and the research community."

More on Elsevier's new postprint archiving policy

Elsevier has issued a press release (June 3) describing the policy-change. Excerpt: "Now, no permission is required for authors to revise and widely post the final version of the text, provided that the posting contains a link to the home page of the journal in which the article was published, and that the posting is not used for commercial purposes -- such as systematic distribution or creating links for commercial customers to articles." The restriction on commercial reuse is new since the Karen Hunter email that first announced the policy-change. The press release includes a link to the "interesting comments" in my article about the new policy in yesterday's issue of SOAN. (Thanks to David Prosser.)

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Open access to drug trial research

Barry Meier, New York Times June 3rd, highlights an open access related issue in medical research - that of non-publication of potentially important research (free password required for online edition) about the effectiveness of drugs. In this instance the drug is Paxil, and the specific issue is the non-publication of unfavourable results:
These days, most drug trials are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. And for more than a decade, a growing number of medical experts have been urging drug makers to release more trial data and to create uniform means of disclosing results through central registries, so that policy makers and doctors can easily learn the results. Those advocates argue that such central databases are necessary because drug companies, as well as medical journals and researchers, tend to spotlight only trials that show positive results.

More on Elsevier's new policy on postprint archiving

Richard Wray, Reed allows academics free web access, The Guardian, June 3, 2004. Excerpt: "The move could make the 200,000 articles Reed Elsevier publishes every year freely available on the internet. Karen Hunter, Elsevier senior vice-president, strategy, explained: 'There was a desire in the market from many authors and many institutions to have an official record of their institution's intellectual output. We have listened and we have responded.'...Deborah Cockerill, assistant publisher at rival open access publisher BioMed Central, said Reed's move 'merely scratches the surface of the fundamental problem with the traditional publishing model which is based on controlling access. They are offering a series of limited forms of access - so partial compared with open access so that it won't threaten the subscription model.' "

more on Probability Surveys

David Aldous, editor of the forthcoming OA journal, Probability Surveys, has created a website with the initial call for papers, the editorial board, and a running count of submitted and proposed papers. Probability Surveys will be hosted by Project Euclid and will be co-sponsored by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and the Bernoulli Society.

Institutional repositories from a library perspective

H. Frank Cervone, The Repository Adventure, Library Journal, June 1, 2004. Excerpt: "The digital repository genesis has been short, beginning in late 2000 when the UK's University of Southampton released a software package called EPrints. Since then, the movement to establish digital repositories has gained momentum....Implementing an institutional repository raises complex questions about organizational resources and strategies, as well as questions about roles and responsibilities. After all, many institutional repository projects are motivated by the desire to change the current model of scholarly communication. This change, if successful, would place the responsibility for publishing material on scholarly institutions, taking the commercial publishers largely out of the picture." (PS: One quick correction. Repositories do not perform peer review, and those who want to use them to change the current model of scholarly communication do not want to bypass or abolish peer review. The goal of those supporting repositories is to complement peer-review providers, like journals, not to replace them.)

June issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter

I just mailed the June 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 close look at Elsevier's new policy to permit postprint archiving, the primacy of authors in the campaign for open access, and a promising new method for providing open access retroactively to important research articles.

Update. One hour later, I'm already getting automated responses from a handful of servers around the world telling me that they've blocked the issue for one reason or another. Here's a first: the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal blocked it because it triggered the "MONEYSCAM" spam profile. If you are a subscriber and did not receive your copy by email today, then first read it online (all issues are archived online), and second, talk to your ISP about adding SOAN to its spam whitelist.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

More on DOAJI Search

Eric Lease Morgan's DOAJI Search (first blogged here May 5) was just named nice web site of the month by the June issue of Internet Resources Newsletter. Congratulations Eric!

OA to images and image metadata

The W3photo Project is creating photo archives with OA images and OA image metadata. The OA metadata will include semantic-web information designed to make the images "more available to the visually impaired".

Theologians take notice

AKM Adam, Openness, Publication, and Scholarship, AKMA's Random Thoughts, May 28, 2004. AKMA summarizes an ongoing discussion from several theology scholarship blogs on "open source" scholarship.

The serials crisis in French

The inaugural issue of BiblioAcid (March 2004) was devoted to La 'crise des périodiques'. It contains the following articles, the first three of which are translations from English originals.
  • Walt Crawford, L'accès des bibliothèques au savoir
  • Christopher Reed, Dites non aux éditeurs de revues scientifiques profiteurs
  • Philip Davis, Juste prix, clauses de confidentialité et une proposition pour équilibrer le jeu économique
  • Marlène Delhaye, Une alternative aux revues commerciales : les revues en Accès Ouvert
(Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

More on the value of society publications

Dana Roth, Electrochemical Journals, AIP's Scitation, Cost-Effectiveness, the (sci-tech) Library Question, May 28, 2004. Roth shows how the Electrochemical Society publishes journals of value. First, the ES has joined the AIP's Scitation platform so that its content may be searched, linked and accessed (with subscription) with that of other scientific societies. Second, Roth presents a table of cost-effectiveness comparisons which reflect favorably on the ES compared with commercial journals in the same discipline. He goes on to say that scientific society publishers are not part of the journal cost problem, but then expresses a dim view of OA publishing:
the questionable suggestion that scientific research should be freely available ignores the essential contribution of publishers in providing mechanisms for peer-review and sustainable publication. Proposals for authors posting their articles on the WWW (self-archiving) or paying substantial charges for publication (Open Access journals) are problematic in the sense that these two approaches are highly unlikely to produce a critical mass. Peer-review, editing and formatting, distribution and archiving are serious concerns that should not be dismissed or ignored.
While Roth seems to blur the distinction between free and open access, one can recognize the importance of the publishing services that he lists and which are still being sorted out in the OA environment.

OA to critical texts in the history of science

Klaus Graf, Open Access und Edition, Archivalia, May 31, 2004. An online version of Graf's upcoming presentation at the conference Vom Nutzen des Edierens (Vienna, June 3-5, 2004). Graf defends OA not only for journal articles, but also for cultural property [Kulturgut] in archives, libraries, and museums, and to handwritten original manuscripts and scholarly editions of the primary texts of science. (In German.)

More on Google's embrace of OA scholarship

Robin Peek, Googling DSpace, Information Today, June 2004 (not online). I wish I could give you an excerpt but I have no access myself.

More on removing OA info from govt web sites for security reasons

Sarita Chourey, Feds map risks of GIS: Guidelines seek balance between security, access, Federal Computer Week, May 31, 2004. Excerpt: "Rand Corp. officials say that open access to geospatial data does not pose much of a national security risk. A recent report from the company found that much of the information available is not sufficiently unique, critical or current to be of much use to terrorists....The library community supports open access to government documents. But Linda Zellmer, who heads Indiana University's geology library and served on the working group, said she is 'not sure it's sensible to have some of this information out.'...However, Zellmer said that some information has been public for such a long time that potential attackers already possess it. 'I don't think taking it down is going to do much good,' she added."

SPARC Europe director also responds to Elsevier CEO

David Prosser, Academic libraries back open access publishing system, Financial Times, May 29, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). A letter to the editor in response to Arie Jongejan's anti-OA article published on Wednesday. Excerpt: "Arie Jongejan ("The formula works, so don't tinker with it", May 26) describes the current system of scientific publishing as "stable, scaleable and affordable". Unfortunately, his customers do not agree....More researchers are turning to open access journals, more publishers are converting their existing journals to open access (including the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), and funding bodies around the world see the importance of open access to ensure the widest possible dissemination of the research they fund."

Sunday, May 30, 2004

More evidence that permission barriers endanger preservation

J. Carlos Fernández-Molina, Contractual and technological approaches for protecting digital works: their relationship with copyright limitations, Online Information Review, 28, 2 (2004) pp. 148-157. Abstract: "To deal with the new circumstances arising in the digital environment, with its particular conditions for the access, distribution and use of intellectual works, three distinct approaches exist: legal (copyright laws are modified to adapt them to the new context), technological (systems designed to control access and use of works), and contractual (through licenses to regulate the conditions of use of the works). The joint use of technological measures and licenses, together with the laws that protect both, are seriously endangering the effectiveness of the limitations to copyright set forth by law to benefit libraries, their users and citizens in general. This represents a strong privatisation of access to information. Using as a point of reference the laws of countries that are on the front lines of this terrain - the USA, the European Union and Australia - some problems created by the new forms of protection of intellectual works are examined."