Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, July 24, 2004

More on the UK report

Philipp Grätzel von Grätz, Britisches Unterhaus sagt "Ja, aber" zu Open Access in der Wissenschaft, Telepolis, July 23, 2004. Good overview of the recommendations in the July 20 UK report (in German). (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

July issue of Serials

The July issue of Serials is now online. Here are the OA-related articles. Only the TOC and abstracts are free online for non-subscribers, at least so far.(Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

Why and how to maintain institutional repositories

Susan Gibbons, Establishing an Institutional Repository, Library Technology Reports, Jul/Aug 2004. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: "Gibbons outlines the arguments for why libraries are the best organizations on an academic campus to run institutional repositories and why libraries should get involved early. Learn the steps for establishing an institutional repository, its range of uses, and its various features and applications. Gibbons evaluates what vendors systems are available, as well as costs and institutional support. Learn what's on the horizon for this innovative technology." (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

OA for developing nations

The May 1 issue of the National Medical Journal of India has two articles on OA. Unfortunately, not even abstracts are free online for non-subscribers, at least so far. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

Three tired objections still circulating

England's Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) has issued a press release (July 21) expressing "grave reservations" about open-access journals. It objects that the upfront funding model will compromise peer review (reply), that it will exclude work from poor countries (reply), and that it will allow research corporations that formerly paid subscriptions to get OA journals for free (reply). (Thanks to the NFAIS Information Community News.)

More on the US and UK actions for OA

The July 26 issue of Library Journal has brief news notes on the significant steps in the US and the UK for open access to publicly-funded research.

Tell your Congressional delegation to support OA

SPARC and Public Knowledge have each created action pages to help U.S. citizens send messages to their Congressional delegation supporting the House Appropriations Committee's recommendation that the NIH require open access to NIH-funded research. See the SPARC action page and the PK action page. Also see SPARC's new backgrounder, The Case for Open Access to Taxpayer-funded Research. "Open access to taxpayer-funded research is good for science, good for education, good for patients, and good for the American taxpayer."

Friday, July 23, 2004

NLM-NIH report on journal prices and OA

Last year Congress asked the National Library of Medicine (a division of the NIH) to write a report on "potential remedies" to the problem of "restricted access to vital research information":
Restrictions on access to research data. --The Committee is concerned by reports that there has been a significant change in the availability of research data internationally and a dramatic rise in medical research data subscription costs. NLM is encouraged to examine how the consolidation of for-profit biomedical research publishers, with their increased subscription charges, has restricted access to vital research information to not-for-profit libraries. The Committee would like a report by March 1, 2004, about potential remedies to ensure that taxpayer-funded research remains in the public domain and steps that can be taken to alleviate this restrictive trend in information technology.

The report was due March 1, 2004, but NLM got an extension on the deadline. In May, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni sent a 12-page report to Congress titled Access to Biomedical Research Information, and today SPARC made a copy available on its web site. It's no coincidence that the request for the report came from the same House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies that proposed earlier this month (July 14) that starting in FY 2005 NIH require open access to all NIH-funded research. The May report is a key part of the NIH OA plan proposed by the House Appropriations Committee. Excerpt from the report:

NIH supports the widespread availability of the results of the research it funds through a variety of mechanisms and publishing channels. PubMed Central serves as a trusted repository for long term electronic access to the biomedical literature and provides a key component of the infrastructure needed to support open access. NIH grant policies that foster sharing of research findings, permit use of grant funds to pay for publication costs, and emphasize high quality research as the basis for evaluating professional success contribute substantially to achieving the goals of open access. NIH will continue to pursue policies and support a variety of publication mechanisms that ensure that the public interest in advancing research, improving health, and achieving an effective return on federal investments is served.

OAN recognition

Can antitrust save academicpublishing?

Albert Foer, Can Antitrust Save Academic Publishing? American Antitrust Institute, June 28, 2004. A presentation at the ALA meeting in Orlando. Excerpt: "In thinking about the present state of academic publishing, four observations seem to be of particular pertinence. First, the industry has been marked by a large number of mergers, leading it to become more and more concentrated. Second, prices for academic publications have been advancing far faster than in the economy generally. Third, the Internet has revolutionized the ways in which academic information is being disseminated. And fourth, a new practice of so-called Big Deal Bundling has emerged as a way of sheltering some publishers from the 'storm of creative destruction' threatened by the Internet."

More on potential benefits of OA

Tom Morris,House of Commons call for open publishing, Pharyngula, July 23, 2004. Applauding the UK Report, Morris muses on potential benefits resulting from OA:
As for the aims that I think future scientific journal publishing should take? Simple. It shouldn't get in the way. By that I mean, the amount of red tape should be kept to a minimum. That is not to say that peer review should not be rigourous or that it should be easy. But it shouldn't be more complicated than it needs to be. Activists working to prevent the introduction of creationism in school biology standards could, perhaps, find sharper tools to fight creationists if they had access to more original sources for free or low-cost. Certainly, work like EvoWiki could be far, far extended if interested members of the public could read the original texts.

More on the UK report

The Public Library of Science has issued a response (July 22) to the UK report, going beyond its press release (July 19) about the report. Excerpt from the new response: "The report released by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee represents an important step forward in the global movement for open access to scientific and medical literature. The Committee outlines a plan to store the entire 'published output' from UK institutions of higher education such that 'it can be read, free of charge, online' -- a watershed recommendation for its recognition that open access to government-funded scientific works is both desirable and achievable....It is worth noting that an Appropriations Committee of the United States House of Representatives recently passed a provision that would provide free access to works funded by the National Institutes of Health by a slightly different mechanism -- their mandatory deposition in PubMed Central, a single, centralized, free-to-use archive managed by the National Library of Medicine. While a centralized repository may offer several technological advantages over dispersed, locally managed repositories, at present, we are confident that any concerted effort by governments to make the results of publicly funded research freely available will ultimately have profound benefits for the general public, for scientists, and for science itself. The House of Commons report also acknowledges that open access publishing is 'a phenomenon that has already arrived' and addresses a number of common criticisms of the open access model....On virtually all of these points, the Committee concludes that the various practices and policies of open-access publishers like PLoS are preferable to the practices and policies of more restrictive publishers."

Another guide to OA resources

Brian Simboli, Non-Exhaustive List of Resources about Open Access Publishing. Simboli compiled this listing from responses to an OA query he submitted to the LIBLICENSE-L mailing list. His compilation includes links to overviews of OA, news, directories of OA journals, publishing economics, citation studies, fora, initiatives, cost studies and other resources gleaned from correspondents. (Source: LIBLICENSE-L)

On PLoS and BOAI

Byron Anderson, Open Access Journals, Behavioral and Social Sciences Librarian, 22, 2 (2004). Only this abstract is free online for non-subscribers, at least so far: "Open access journals may play an important in the development of peer-reviewed publishing. This column describes two recent initiatives in open access scholarly publishing: the Public Library of Science and the Budapest Open Access Initiative." (Thanks to Erik Arfeuille.)

Thursday, July 22, 2004

More on the UK report

British Library national digital archive endorsed by MP committee, an unsigned note in PublicTechnology.Net, July 22, 2004. Excerpt: "The Committee’s Report concludes that the current model for scientific publishing is unsatisfactory for both libraries and users. Libraries face major technological and organisational challenges in managing the growing number of digital materials. In addition, they are struggling to acquire the material their users need against a background of growing research output and rising prices for scientific journals. Highlighting the British Library's importance in underpinning UK scientific and technological research, the Committee argues: 'The British Library has a crucial role to play in the preservation of digital publications, both strategically and practically'. In its recommendations the Committee strongly supports the Library’s efforts to secure funding to develop the infrastructure for an effective national digital archive, and highlights the danger of inaction: 'Gaps of up to 60% in the deposit of electronically-delivered publications, including STM journals, represent a significant breach in the intellectual record.' "

More on the UK inquiry

Donald MacLeod, Shake-up for academic publishing, The Guardian, July 20, 2004. Excerpt: "Faced with the escalating cost of journals for academic libraries, the House of Commons science and technology committee is urging all UK universities to set up their own repositories to store their published research and make it available online free of charge."

More on the UK report

Open Access Publishing: broadsheet roundup and JISC's role, JISC, July 21, 2004. Since the UK report contains eight specific recommendations for JISC, and since JISC praised the report, JISC is pleased to note that the report is getting mainstream press attention. Here it summarizes a few of the leading stories.

Interview with Brewster Kahle

Stu Feldman interviews Brewster Kahle in the June issue of the ACM's Queue. Excerpt: "Imagine --all the world's information at your service with just a few clicks of the mouse. It's a dream that Brewster Kahle has held onto for the past 20 years and is now seeing through to reality in his role at the Internet Archive, where he serves as chairman of the board. The Internet Archive was founded in 1996 to build an 'Internet library' that will offer permanent access for researchers and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format. Kahle is the force behind that effort." Quoting Kahle: "There are four questions: Should we do this [create free universal access to all knowledge]? Can we do this? May we do this? And will we do this? The first question of should we do this, I'm going to take as almost a postulate of yes."

Why OA when societies take such good care of you

William J. Lindblad, Why is open access publishing the answer?, Wound Repair and Regeneration 12(4), 395-396 (July/August 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) Lindblad looks with a wary eye on OA publishing, pointing out such objections as the author-pays model, whether sufficient attention will be given to editing, the costs of archiving and maintaining and migrating to stable electronic archives, and whether authors, in keeping copyright, are ready to "pursue infringement." In contrast, Lindblad holds up societies such as his own and argues that authors assigning copyright to societies is better than giving it to commercial publishers. Yet he does not acknowledge that any transfer of copyright imposes restrictions on the author and readers, even as some (APS, for example) may be more liberal than others. Lindblad concludes by saying that his journals give authors for free what open access journals would make them pay for, and provide more stability. "So where is the need for open-access publishing?" he asks rhetorically.

An Anecdote About TSpace and Google

TSpace is an Institutional Repository at the University of Toronto. It's participating in the DSpace Federation Project. At the beginning of this week, my home Department, Medical Biophysics (MBP), set up a Community home page in TSpace. Within two days, the small initial content of this community had already been harvested by Google. This anecdote provides support for the view that Google is already giving a high priority to documents submitted to DSpace-based archives.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Nature on the UK Report

Declan Butler, Britain decides 'open access' is still an open issue Nature 430, 390 (22 July 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) A brief news article summarizes the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report and includes several quotes from Ian Gibson, the committee chairman, who notes the untenability of the current publishing system, suggests that OA experiments be closely watched, and explains the rationale behind urging government funding of OA. Gibson hopes the report leads scientists to greater awareness of OA issues; the article concludes: "According to a recent survey by the Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research at City University London, 82% of working scientists say they know little or nothing about open access."

Computer science -- energized for Open Access

Two forthcoming computer science journals, both specializing in theory, attribute their nascent existence to Donald Knuth and the editorial board revolt at the Journal of Algorithms. [For background on this topic, albeit from my perspective, read Commentary: The Crisis In Scholarly Communication and Journal of Algorithms Fallout Getting Noticed, Stanford U Takes Stand Against "Pricey Journals".] Logical Methods in Computer Science (LMCS) is a free, Open Access ejournal published through the International Federation for Computational Logic (IFCoLog). LMCS is an overlay journal, utilizing the Computing Research Repository (CoRR), the computer science portion of arXiv. Theory of Computing (ToC) is based at the University of Chicago Department of Computer Science, with mirrors IIT Kanpur and SzTAKI, Budapest. ToC cites the Electronic Journal of Combinatorics (EJC) as the source of its publishing model. Considering that EJC recently was added to ISI's Web of Science journal list, this seems like a reasonable choice of role models. Interestingly, Neil Calkin, a founding editor of EJC, is formally affiliated with LMCS. Calkin sits on the LMCS advisory board which includes Andrew Odlyzko and Krzysztof Apt.

Monthly Weather Review backfile grows

Monthly Weather Review has an expanded backfile, moving the horizon back to 1950. Monthly Weather Review - Fulltext v78+ (1950+); Print ISSN: 0027-0644 | Online ISSN: 1520-0493. According to the NOAA Central Library, Monthly Weather Review archival fulltext is free up through volume 101 (1973), the period during which the journal was published by various units of the federal government. The Allen Press/American Meteorological Society (AMS) website does not tout this free service. As I'm at an institution which has paid for archival access to the AMS journal archives, I'm unable to independently determine the actual behavior with respect to nonsubscribers. I've sent inquiries to Allen Press and to AMS. Monthly Weather Review - Fulltext v78-101 (1950-1973) [free]; Print ISSN: 0027-0644 | Online ISSN: 1520-0493. PS - Georgia Baugh (Saint Louis University) and Marie Schneider (NASA Ames Research Center) have independently verified the free portion of the archive.

More on the NIH OA plan

Alison McCook, Open access to US govt work urged, The Scientist, July 21, 2004. Excerpt: "A US House of Representatives committee has recommended that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide free access to all research it funds and asked the NIH to submit a plan by December 1, 2004 for how to implement the new policy in fiscal year 2005....'This is the policy that many of us have been advocating for some time,' Peter Suber, from Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., told The Scientist. 'It's an extraordinarily important step.' The response from publishers, however, was less positive. Barbara Meredith, vice president of Professional and Scholarly Publishing at the Association of American Publishers (AAP), told The Scientist that, if enacted, the NIH recommendation could undermine the sustainability of the publishing industry and exert a 'chilling effect' on NIH-funded authors by potentially limiting which journals accept their work....A similar system is already common in other subjects, like physics, [Robert] Campbell [of Blackwell] said, where researchers often publish in traditional journals then self-archive their papers. And they've found that papers listed in free archives often get more citations, which is ultimately good for the journal, he said. 'It seems to be working out,' Campbell told The Scientist. 'You could say it's a win–win situation.'...Suber argued that the US recommendation is 'perfectly compatible' with traditional business models, because it establishes a 6-month embargo before the research can be released, which is likely long enough for publishers to retain their subscription base. He added that last month, Elsevier...announced that authors could post a final version of their manuscript on a personal or institutional Web site....In addition, Richard K. Johnson, director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition [SPARC], said that journals that choose funding over quality will quickly develop a bad reputation. 'I can't see that this would change selection policies on the part of the journal,' he told The Scientist. Suber noted that the NIH is the largest science funder in the US federal government, and it is ultimately responsible to its own funder --the taxpayers, who deserve access to the research they paid for. 'The NIH does not work for the publishers. It works for the taxpayers,' he said."

Free UK access to Gale reference works

UK Colleges Receive Free e-Reference Books "In Perpetuity", Managing Information, July 21, 2004. Excerpt: "An agreement signed between JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee) and the publisher Thomson Gale will mean that every college in the UK will be able to gain access to the free content of twenty-one top electronic reference titles in perpetuity. The titles included in the Gale Virtual Reference Library - including the Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology, the Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, the six-volume Gale Encyclopedia of Science, and many others – have been specially chosen by representatives of the FE community for their quality and their relevance to the curriculum."

On the effect of the UK report

Richard Wray in the July 21 Guardian: "Reed Elsevier is pushing to raise the price of its academic journals by more than three times the rate of inflation despite a committee of MPs yesterday raising concerns that prices are already too high."

Agence France Presse in the July 21 ChannelNewsAsia: "Shares in [Reed Elsevier] rose 10-1/2 to 496-1/2 following a benign House of Commons Select Committee investigation into scientific publications, in which the Anglo-Dutch group is a major player. The market had feared that the Select Committee would recommend a move away from a subscription-based model to one based on open-access for all. However, the report fell far short of recommending the mandatory adoption of open-access."

More on the UK report

Richard Sietmann, Britische Parlamentarier für Open Access, Heise Online, July 21, 2004. The story in German.

More on the UK and US developments

Daniel Clery and Jocelyn Kaiser, Two Plugs for Open Access, Science, July 20, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "The nascent 'open-access' publishing movement got two high-profile endorsements this week. After a 7-month investigation, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee urges that papers produced by publicly funded research be put in free repositories soon after publication. And in a surprise move, a U.S. House committee has recommended that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) post its grantees' papers on a free Internet site. Scientific societies and for-profit publishers were stunned by the language, which they say would drive traditional journals out of business....A coalition of libraries and open-access publishers that pushed for the language says it does not require scientists to publish in open-access journals--just that their final manuscripts be made public. But scientific societies say subscriptions would dry up if essentially the same material were available immediately for free on the Web. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology points out that many journals already make full-text research articles freely available within 6 months or a year (the policy of Science). As the appropriations bill heads for a possible House vote this week, Representative Ernest J. Istook Jr. (R-OK), who wrote the language, and House Labor/HHS subcommittee chair Ralph Regula (R-OH) are preparing to issue a statement on the House floor that would modify the directive. It would say that the intent is for NIH to "bring all the stakeholders to the table to come up with a model" to improve public access, says Istook's spokesperson." (PS: The nascent open-access movement...?)

More on the UK report

The University of Southampton has issued a press release on the UK report. Excerpt: "The Committee has recommended that all researchers should self-archive their papers within a month of publication, and that universities should be funded to provide the facilities to allow them to do this. This fulfils the vision and principles under which the [School of Electronics and Computer Science] scientists have been working, as part of the Open Access movement. 'The Committee's conclusions, if followed by universities in this country, will improve the visibility and impact of UK research,' says Dr Les Carr, who has been leading the digital archiving research at ECS."

More on the UK report

Mike Shanahan, UK politicians back open access to research findings, SciDev.Net, July 21, 2004. Excerpt: "Ian Gibson, the chair the committee — who was a professor of biology at the University of East Anglia before being elected a member of Parliament in 1997 — said that that open access publishing was 'a very democratic way forward', along which publishing was moving gradually. Most of the report focuses on measures that the committee feels would increase the benefits to scientists....A central recommendation is the establishment of 'institutional depositories' to house research papers electronically so that they can be accessed for free. The report also recommends that UK research councils provide funds to authors wishing to publish in open access journals....Blackwell Publishing told the committee in evidence presented earlier this year that the open access model would present barriers to scientists in poorer countries, as many authors would not be able to afford the fee. But the committee argues that publishers could develop schemes by which authors from developing countries are paid for their submissions — in the same way that journals currently subsidise developing country access. In any case, says the report, because research output from developing countries is currently relatively low, such countries might find it easier to pay publication fees for a relatively small number of authors than to cover the costs of subscriptions to all of the journals they need."

Official links to the UK report

Scientific Publications: Free for all? is now online, both in HTML and PDF formats. So is the oral and written evidence (PDF for now, HTML to follow shortly). Until now the oral testimony was only available in the form of uncorrected transcripts (Sessions 1, 2, 3, 4) and the 38 written submissions had not been collected in one place and only some had been put online by their authors.

More on OA to data

The proceedings of the International Workshop on Open Access and the Public Domain in Digital Data and Information for Science (Paris, March 10-12, 2003) have now been published by the National Academies Press as an open-access book of the same title, edited by Julie M. Esanu and Paul F. Uhlir.

More on the Google-DSpace project

Mike McDonald, Google Crawls Into Academia, WebPro News, July 19, 2004. A brief note on the story.

More on the UK report

Rachel Stevenson, MPs call for biennial review of profits from science journals, The Independent, July 20, 2004. Excerpt: "As part of an overhaul of the system for publishing scientific material, the committee will suggest that all universities and public-funded research bodies publish all their research material online, free of charge....Reed has already said it will allow wider scope for authors to 'self-archive' by publishing their work on either their own or their university's website. And today it will make a statement to welcome the proposals. But its recent pronouncement on the issue raised eyebrows at the committee, which said it was 'in little doubt that Elsevier timed the announcement of its new policy on self-archiving to pre-empt the publication of this report'. It is understood that an inquiry has begun into whether the report was leaked to Reed, which has denied having any advance knowledge of the committee's findings."

More on the UK report

Bobby Pickering, MPs brand scientific publishing 'unsatisfactory', Information World Review, July 20, 2004. Excerpt: "In a report that committee member Paul Farrelly (Labour MP, Newcastle-under-Lyme) described as 'extremely balanced and heavily caveated', the committee recommended that all UK higher education bodies should establish institutional repositories 'on which their published output can be stored and from which it can be read, free of charge, online'. It also recommends that Research Councils and other government funded bodies should mandate their funded researchers to deposit a copy of all their articles in these institutional repositories. The committee's unanimous view was that the Government should intervene in the market to support and encourage open access publishing, but also to monitor how it develops."

More on the UK report

Call for freely available science, BBC, July 20, 2004. An unsigned story on the UK report. Excerpt: "[The report] wants publicly funded research to be made freely available online by means of archived digital information banks. At present, access is limited to those who can afford costly journal fees. These subscriptions have risen dramatically in recent years, and amount to several hundred pounds a year for some titles." If you have Real Player, then listen to Tom Feilden's audio story on the news, including interviews with several of the principals.

Journals: how to get Google to index your articles

The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) has released a most helpful document, Enabling Google to Index your Full Text Content. Unfortunately it's only available to ALPSP members.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Conference presentations online

The presentations from the pre-conference to LIBER's 2004 Annual General Conference (St. Petersburg, June 28 - July 2) are now online. All are relevant to open access.

More on the NIH OA plan

The Genetic Alliance has written an open letter to Congressmen Regula and Obey supporting the House Appropriation Committee's recommendation that the NIH require open access to articles reporting NIH-funded research. Excerpt from the letter: "Today...most American taxpayers do not have access to the reports on biomedical research conducted with U.S. Government funds. Although the public paid for this research, informative, carefully screened reports on the research results are generally available only through costly journal subscriptions averaging thousands of dollars annually or via per-article purchases that can run $30 or more each. It is sometimes suggested that this information is not available to the 'homemaker in Nebraska' because she is ill equipped to deal with this information. We know, from our 600 members - disease-specific advocacy organizations - that the homemaker has many resources to help her use that information. The advocacy organizations help their millions of members digest this information, and the homemaker can bring this information to her doctor. In addition, this access is critical for the thousands of rare diseases - clinicians are unable to keep us with information on 6000 rare diseases, and patients must be the bridge to new knowledge....The Genetic Alliance also calls upon the U. S. Senate to ensure the inclusion of the House language in the final Congressional Appropriations report. This consumer-centered measure is a long over-due means by which to enhance public health education, speed the translation of genetic advances into quality, affordable health care, and inform and empower patients in their health care decisions. Ensuring the widespread dissemination of research knowledge is an essential and inseparable component of our nation's investment in research itself."

Update. The Genetic Alliance issued a press release on July 21 to accompany this open letter.

OA to govt docs through P2P

Kim Zetter, Downloading for Democracy, Wired News, July 19, 2004. Excerpt: "While legislators in Washington work to outlaw peer-to-peer networks, one website is turning the peer-to-peer technology back on Washington to expose its inner, secretive workings. But isn't offering copyright music and videos for download. The site, launched two weeks ago, has aggregated more than 600 government and court documents to make them available for download through the Kazaa, LimeWire and Soulseek P2P networks in the interest of making government more transparent and accountable....Although all of the documents on [Thad] Anderson's site are available elsewhere, they are buried deep in government and court sites or scattered among the sites of various government watchdog groups and media outlets. It took Anderson about four hours and 2,000 mouseclicks to download more than 13,000 documents related to Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force from the National Resources Defense Council's website and from Judicial Watch. But a visitor to Anderson's site can download a folder containing all of these documents in a few minutes with a couple of mouseclicks." (Thanks to LIS News, which rightly compares the service to LOCKSS-DOCS.)

More on the UK report

Stephen Pincock, UK committee backs open access, The Scientist, July 20, 2004. Excerpt: "Jan Velterop, publisher of BioMedCentral, a for-profit publisher of open-access journals, called the report an important milestone in the open-access movement. (BioMedCentral is a partner with The Scientist.) 'The overall really a ringing endorsement of the whole concept of open access to scientific material,' Velterop said. 'It definitely is a major development. I even think that with hindsight, we may look back on this as a turning point.'...Peter Suber, an open-access advocate at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., said he was delighted that the report 'doesn't merely endorse open access, but calls for a national commitment to open access --encompassing all UK higher education institutions, the British Library, the research councils, the government funding agencies, and government policymakers. The report recommends many steps, but properly focuses on the one step that will do the most good: asking government funding agencies to put an open-access condition on research grants and requiring grantees to deposit the full-text articles based on funded research in open-access repositories,' Suber told The Scientist....Just last week, the US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee also recommended that the National Institutes for Health (NIH) make research it funds freely available."

More on the UK report

Lila Guterman, British Parliamentary Panel Endorses Open Access to Scientific Literature, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 20, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "The report comes just days after a U.S. Congressional committee recommended requiring free access to papers based on research financed by the National Institutes of Health (The Chronicle, July 19)....The report recommended that all British academic institutions establish online repositories for researchers' published papers. It also recommended that government agencies require all researchers they finance to place copies of their articles in the repositories. 'These articles will be free for anyone who has access to the Internet,' said Ian Gibson, a Labor Party member who is chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, in an interview....The report also suggested that the government require researchers to maintain copyright to their articles if they receive government money. Most scientific journals currently acquire the rights to the articles they publish....Michael Eisen, a co-founder of the Public Library of Science, called the committee's concerns [about the upfront funding model for OA journals] 'important things to be worried about' and said he was 'ecstatic" at the report's overall support for open access. 'The current system is so inefficient and so irrational and so needlessly denies people access to knowledge that these concerns are really just things to think about along the way to open access,' he said."

More on the UK report

Clive Cookson, Call for shake-up in way scientific journals provided, Financial Times, July 20, 2004. Excerpt: "Researchers and publishers should be encouraged by the government to make a fundamental change in the way scientific journals are provided, the Commons science committee says, so that anyone with a computer can have free, open access to research findings....Ian Gibson, chairman, said the committee decided to investigate scientific publishing because the government - and many scientists - did not take the 'crisis' in university libraries and the provision of scientific information seriously enough."

More on the UK report

Richard Wray, MPs back free access to research results, The Guardian, July 20, 2004. Excerpt: "The 118-page report stops short of fully endorsing the open access publishing movement, where authors are charged for their research to be made freely available to everyone on the web, but 'strongly supports' further experimentation with this new business model....But advocates of open access warmly welcomed the report as heralding a dramatic change in the way scientific research is disseminated. 'The report reinforces our view that the current system of publishing the results of scientific research is failing both science and the public at large,' said Dr Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, the world's largest medical research charity." (PS: Like other reporters covering this story, Wray confuses OA through journals with OA itself. The report fully endorses OA through repositories and only stops short of a full endorsement for OA through journals.)

More on the UK report

David Litterick, MPs damn profits of scientific publishers, The Telegraph, July 20, 2004. Excerpt: "MPs have launched a stinging attack on the scientific publishing industry and called on the Government to press for change 'as a matter of urgency'....The committee called on publishers to keep profit margins 'at a reasonable and sustainable level'. Reed Elsevier, which has the largest market share in scientific publishing, has an operating margin of 34pc, the MPs noted. It also accused publishers of inflating the cost of peer review - the method by which research is validated by other scientists - 'to justify charging higher prices'....Vitek Tracz, chairman of BioMed Central, an open-access publisher, welcomed the report. He said: 'The report recommends that the UK research funding bodies mandate free access to all their findings. It is time for the publishing model to change.' "

More on the UK report

Jeremy Warner, Outlook: Reed Elsevier, The Independent, July 20, 2004. Excerpt: "With more than 35 per cent of the global market for scientific publishing in UK hands (besides Reed Elsevier, there's Taylor & Francis and Blackwell Publishing), Britain doesn't so much lead this industry as dominate it. There is no other global industry where this is the case. You might have thought the body politic would be careful to nurture and encourage such an outstanding British success story. Regrettably, that's not always the case. Dr Ian Gibson, chairman of the Commons Science and Technology Committee, has long had a bee in his bonnet about scientific publishing, which he seems to think profits excessively at the British taxpayer's expense, and for choice he would have mandated a complete upheaval in the way the industry operates by moving it from a subscriber pays basis on to an author pays, open access model. Fortunately his bark has turned out to be worse than his bite....Though the report is generous in its support for the open access model, it stops well short of recommending mandatory adoption. Rather its tone is that the market should decide." (PS: This is not how I read the report. It wouldn't mandate OA through journals, but it would mandate OA through institutional repositories. Like many others, Warner confuses OA through journals with OA itself.)

More on the UK report

Here are three press releases from friends of open access.

From PLoS: "The report released today by the Science and Technology Committee of the United Kingdom's House of Commons, 'Scientific Publications: Free for All?' insists that the 'published output' of UK higher education institutions must be made available such that 'it can be read, free of charge, online,' and provides a practical roadmap for achieving this goal. 'The report makes clear that open access is the only acceptable outcome for publicly funded science,' said Public Library of Science (PLoS) co-founder Dr. Michael B. Eisen, 'and challenges scientists, publishers and research funders to make open access happen rapidly.'...In conjunction with other recent developments in the UK and the United States, this report suggests an international consensus growing in support of the open access movement."

From BMC: "Crucially, the report recommends that UK research funding bodies mandate free access to all their research findings. 'This will lead to a profound change in the way that scientific literature is published, and validates the author-pays "Open Access" publishing model which we at BioMed Central pioneered,' Tracz remarked....Some UK funders have already shown great support for the Open Access publishing model. By signing agreements with BioMed Central, JISC and NHS England have made it possible for many UK researchers to publish free of charge in Open Access journals. The Committee recommends that UK Research Councils follow this lead and make funds available to pay author charges. This would mean that all publicly funded UK researchers would be able to make their research findings Open Access, at no cost to themselves. 'This support will help to ensure the success of the author-pays model of publishing,' said Tracz."

From JISC: "JISC today welcomed the Report of the Science and Technology Select Committee and indicated its support for its recommendations, published today. These recommendations will enable research funded by the UK taxpayer to be made available to a wider readership than the present scholarly publication system allows....In particular the Science and Technology Select Committee’s support for institutional repositories will build upon the work of the JISC FAIR (Focus on Access to Institutional Resources) Programme. The institutions participating in the FAIR Programme have established repositories for the work of their academic staff, and the Committee’s support for these developments will encourage all UK academic authors to improve access to the results of publicly-funded research through this route."

Pharmaceutical journals from AAPS

AAPS, the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, publishes a couple of free, online journals in the area of pharmaceutical research and development. One of the journals has undergone a title change, with the appropriate assignment of a new ISSN for the new title, in the last couple of months. AAPS PharmSci - Fulltext v1-6(2) (1999-2004). Continued by AAPS Journal; ISSN: 1522-1059. Indexed by PubMed, Web of Science. AAPS Journal - Fulltext v6(3)+ (2004). Continues AAPS PharmSci; ISSN: 1550-7416. AAPS PharmSciTech - Fulltext v1+ (2000+); ISSN: 1530-9932. Indexed by Chemical Abstracts, PubMed. AAPS also publishes a subscription only title, Pharmaceutical Research, through Kluwer.

Microbiology journals from sfam

Society for Applied Microbiology (sfam) is the UK's oldest microbiological society. Several of their journals, distributed via Blackwell Synergy, have implemented delayed/embargoed access to fulltext. Notably missing from this list is a fourth sfam journal, Environmental Microbiology, which does not provide any fulltext access without a current subscription. Cellular Microbiology - Fulltext v1+ (1999+) 2 year moving wall; Print ISSN: 1462-5814 | Online ISSN: 1462-5822. Journal of Applied Microbiology - Fulltext v82(3)+ (March 1997+) 3 year moving wall; Print ISSN: 1364-5072 | Online ISSN: 1365-2672. Letters in Applied Microbiology - Fulltext v24+ (1997+) 3 year moving wall; Print ISSN: 0266-8254 | Online ISSN: 1472-765X.

Monday, July 19, 2004

UK House committee releases its report on open access

About 90 minutes ago, the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee released the long-awaited report on its inquiry into journal prices and open access, Scientific Publications: Free for All? Here's my summary of the major recommendations:
  1. The government should provide funds for all UK universities to launch open-access institutional repositories.
  2. Authors of articles based on government-funded research should deposit copies in their institutional repositories.
  3. The government should appoint a "central body" to oversee the launch of the institutional repositories, their networking needs, and their compliance with "technical standards needed to provide maximum functionality" (presumably the OAI metadata harvesting protocol).
  4. The government should create a fund to help authors pay the processing fees charged by open-access journals. The committee is not yet ready to endorse the upfront funding model for OA journals (which it calls the "author-pays" model), but wants to create such a fund in order to promote further experimentation with the model.
  5. The government should develop a wider, long-term open-access strategy, including open-access journals, "as a matter of urgency".
  6. Universities should develop their "capacity to manage" the copyrights that faculty will increasingly retain in the future.
  7. These steps can and should be undertaken without jeopardizing "rigorous and independent peer review".
  8. The government should fund the British Library to take on the long-term preservation of digital scholarship.
  9. Because the market for science and scholarship is international, the government should "act as a proponent for change on the international stage and lead by example".

The full report (a 118 page PDF file) will soon be available at the committee's page of reports. (It's still night time in England.) In a posting to SOAF, I've quoted extensively from the report's conclusions and recommendations, for those who don't have time to read the full report.

Update. The full report is now online (HTML or PDF).

Open Access to ophthalmology

Here are eleven freely available online ophthalmology journals. Most are Open Access, which is not coincidental when a list contains numerous entries from SciELO and BioMed Central. Two embargoed titles, British Journal of Ophthalmology and Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, are part of the enormous free scientific literature collection at HighWire Press. British Journal of Ophthalmology is further noteworthy since it is on the short list for retrodigitization, back through volume 1, at PubMed Central. Archivos de la Sociedad Espanola de Oftalmologia - Fulltext v77(11)+ (November 2002+); ISSN: 0365-6691. Arquivos Brasileiros de Oftalmologia - Fulltext v64(5)+ (September/October 2001+); ISSN: 0004-2749. BMC Ophthalmology - Fulltext v1+ (2001+) (BioMed Central) (PubMed Central); ISSN: 1471-2415. British Journal of Ophthalmology - Fulltext v81+ (1997+) 1 year moving wall; Print ISSN: 0007-1161 | Online ISSN: 1468-2079. Bulletin de la Societe Belge d'Ophthalmologie - Fulltext no272+ (1999+); ISSN: 0081-0746. Digital Journal of Ophthalmology - Fulltext v3+ (1997+); ISSN: 1542-8958. Internet Journal of Ophthalmology & Visual Science - Fulltext v1+ (2000+); ISSN: 1528-8269. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science - Fulltext v40(8)+ (July 1999+) 1 year moving wall; ISSN: 0146-0404. OSL - Oftalmologica Santa Lucia - Fulltext v1+ (2001+); ISSN: 1666-1346. Review of Ophthalmology - Fulltext v3+ (2003+); ISSN: 1081-0226. Revista Cubana de Oftalmologia - Fulltext v8+ (1995+); ISSN: 0864-2176.

Mental health - 3 fulltext journals of varying degrees of openness

In descending order of openness, here are three journals from the mental health field. The publishing models range from Open Access, to embargoed, to a frozen slice of fulltext. eCOMMUNITY: International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction - Fulltext v1+ (2003+); ISSN: 1705-4583. Evidence-Based Mental Health - Fulltext v1+ (1998+) 1 year moving wall; Print ISSN: 1362-0347 | Online ISSN: 1468-960X. Journal of Mental Health Policy & Economics - Fulltext v1-3 (1998-2000); Print ISSN: 1091-4358 | Online ISSN: 1099-176X. Thanks Paoshan Yue and Alex Grunfeld for bringing eCommunity to my attention.

On academic publishing costs

Robert E. Filman, Not Free, But Relatively Inexpensive, IEEE Internet Computing 8(4), 4-6 (July/August 2004). Filman doesn't mention open access as such, but argues that the public perceive web publishing as "naturally free." He points out the value of peer review and editing towards producing a quality publication and that journal publishers "offer certification, which remains one of the few places that people ignore price tags." Democratization and economic efficiency afforded by the internet threaten traditional publishing, he writes, suggesting that print journals will be "valuable antiquities." While Filman calls the internet a "disruptive technology" for academic publishing, he seems to be stuck in the paradigm of the print journal.

Cuban science -- a selection of 15 Open Access journals

The majority of these titles include fulltext content beginning in 1995 or 1996, relatively early in the evolution of web-based electronic journals. This is merely a sampling of the Cuban journals available online. There are a couple of major repositories of Cuban science which I have mined for these titles, Revistas Medicas Cubanas and SciELO Cuba. Revista Cubana de Cardiologia y Cirugia Cardiovascular Fulltext v10+ (1996+); ISSN: 0864-2168 Revista Cubana de Cirugia Fulltext v37+ (1998+); ISSN: 0034-7493 Revista Cubana de Educacion Medica Superior Fulltext v9+ (1995+); ISSN: 0864-2141 Revista Cubana de Endocrinologia Fulltext v6+ (1995+); ISSN: 0864-4462 Revista Cubana de Enfermeria Fulltext v11+ (1995+); ISSN: 0864-0319 Revista Cubana de Estomatologia Fulltext v33(2)+ (May/August 1996+); ISSN: 0034-7507 Revista Cubana de Hematologia, Inmunologia y Hemoterapia Fulltext v11+ (1995+); ISSN: 0864-0289 Revista Cubana de Higiene y Epidemiologia Fulltext v33+ (1995+); ISSN: 0253-1751 Revista Cubana de Medicina Fulltext v34+ (1995+); ISSN: 0034-7523 Revista Cubana de Medicina General Integral Fulltext v11(2)+ (March/April 1995+); ISSN: 0864-2125 Revista Cubana de Medicina Tropical Fulltext v47+ (1995+); Print ISSN: 0375-0760 | Online ISSN: 1561-3054 Revista Cubana de Oftalmologia Fulltext v8+ (1995+); ISSN: 0864-2176 Revista Cubana de Pediatria Fulltext v69+ (1997+); ISSN: 0034-7531 Revista Cubana de Plantas Medicinales Fulltext v1+ (1996+); ISSN: 1028-4796 Revista Cubana de Salud Publica Fulltext v21+ (1995+); Print ISSN: 0864-3466 | Online ISSN: 1561-3127

When public domain rubs against commerce

Kathleen Burge, Fighting to be free: Thoreau lover denied bid to give out book at Walden, Boston Globe, July 19, 2004. Eric Eldred, as part of his Internet Bookmobile campaign that shows people how to download free books from the internet, was recently at Walden Pond distributing free copies of the public domain Walden when he fell afoul of park officials who asked him to leave for handing out literature without a permit. It also became clear that Eldred's actions might eat into the profits of the Thoreau society, which sells copies of Walden at the pond, and which would make it difficult for Eldred to get any kind of permit.

More on Google indexing of OAI-compliant archives

Kinley Levack, A Giant Leap for Academia? Google Ventures into DSpace, EContent, EContent, July/August, 2004. Excerpt: "DSpace is open-source software designed to assist colleges and universities in creating, managing, and maintaining digital repositories. There are currently about 125 schools using this software, but no tool existed that enabled searching across repositories instead of just within them. [PS: Untrue, but these tools are not as popular or comprehensive as Google.] Enter Google into DSpace. Google and 17 partner schools have joined forces on a pilot program to enable searching among DSpace repositories....Although both sides have been tight lipped about the project, representatives from DSpace have commented that the agreement with Google is not exclusive and that they are open to working with other search engine companies or even developing their own technology. Plans with Google continue to move forward, though, and if all goes well with the pilot, then Google may launch the program under its Advanced Search section within the next few months."

More on the NIH OA plan

Andrea Foster, House Committee Tells NIH to Post Research Results Online and Make Them Free, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 19, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "In a coup for the open-access movement, the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has recommended that the National Institutes of Health provide the public with free, online access to articles resulting from research it has financed. The recommendation is included in a report that accompanies a spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services for the 2005 fiscal year. The report says that within six months after an article is published, the NIH should make available researchers' final manuscripts via PubMed Central, a popular digital archive maintained by the National Library of Medicine. The Association of American Publishers is aggressively pressing members of Congress to gut the open-access language in the report, saying that the recommendation is worded like a requirement and would threaten publishers' ability to decide when and if to make articles free."

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Barriers to health info are barriers to health

Fiona Godlee, Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Dan Ncayiyana, Barbara Cohen, and Abel Packer, Can we achieve health information for all by 2015? The Lancet, July 9, 2004. Abstract: "Universal access to information for health professionals is a prerequisite for meeting the Millennium Development Goals and achieving Health for All. However, despite the promises of the information revolution, and some successful initiatives, there is little if any evidence that the majority of health professionals in the developing world are any better informed than they were 10 years ago. Lack of access to information remains a major barrier to knowledge-based health care in developing countries. The development of reliable, relevant, usable information can be represented as a system that requires cooperation among a wide range of professionals including health-care providers, policy makers, researchers, publishers, information professionals, indexers, and systematic reviewers. The system is not working because it is poorly understood, unmanaged, and under-resourced. This Public Health article proposes that WHO takes the lead in championing the goal of 'Universal access to essential health-care information by 2015' or 'Health Information for All'. Strategies for achieving universal access include funding for research into barriers to use of information, evaluation and replication of successful initiatives, support for interdisciplinary networks, information cycles, and communities of practice, and the formation of national policies on health information." (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)