Open Access News

News from the open access movement


Saturday, August 28, 2004

VOA broadcast on OA

The Voice of America, 'Open Access' Science Journals Challenge Pricey Publications, August 28, 2004 (scroll to the third story). The full transcript is free online. You can also hear the broadcast in RealAudio or as an MP3. Excerpt from the transcript: "This month, a top publisher of biomedical journals, Cell Press, announced a new policy to allow free, on-line access to articles in its journals beginning one year after they first appear in print. The move was welcomed by some, but others described it as a defensive move in a growing battle over the cost of subscribing to scientific journals, particularly the cost charged to university libraries. 'On average we spend $5 million a year on journals, and for that we get about 11,000 [titles], so you can see that they average around four or five hundred dollars each,' said Bill Potter, who runs the University of Georgia library. 'We simply can't continue to afford those. Or if we buy these journals, that means we buy fewer books or fewer journals in the humanities and social sciences.'...Some scientists and the institutions who buy the journals they publish in, think its time for a new model for disseminating research. 'Our goal is to make the world's scientific and medical literature a freely-available public resource,' says Michael Eisen, co-founder of the Public Library of Science....'Traditionally, and largely today, [journals] recover their costs - and often make a healthy profit - by charging people to access the papers they have published,' said Dr. Eisen. 'And the problem with the model in which you charge people to access information is that you have to prevent access for people who haven't paid.' " (Thanks to Rick Johnson.)

Update. This piece seems to have been rebroadcast on September 4 under the new title, Debate Rises Over Soaring Costs of Biomedical Journals.

Publisher mergers raise journal prices

Mark McCabe, Law Serials Pricing and Mergers: A Portfolio Approach, Contributions to Economic Analysis and Policy, 3, 1, (2004). Abstract: "Using data from more than 400 legal serials, I estimate the impact of six publisher mergers on law serial prices during the period, 1990-2000. The results suggest that merger-related price increases were substantial during this period, even after accounting for secular price trends. Furthermore, these merger effects occurred across a broadly-defined portfolio of serial titles consisting of legal encyclopedias and treatises. For other types of serials, such as newsletters and looseleaf services, these effects were not observed. Based on the portfolio demand behavior of buyers, I offer an explanation for this result based on the degree of product differentiation at the level of the individual title. Of particular interest is the purchase of West Publishing Company by Thomson Financial & Professional Publishing Group in 1996. Despite a government-mandated divestiture of more than 50 titles, the results indicate that titles published by West-Thomson experienced a significant post-merger price increase." (PS: This edition of the article is freely accessible for users willing to register and have a subscription request sent to their library. Other users should read the edition at McCabe's web site.)

ACRL on the ATA

The ACRL has issued a press release announcing that it has joined the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. Excerpt: "ACRL has sent letters to Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and to members of Congress encouraging them to ensure that peer-reviewed articles on taxpayer-funded research at NIH become fully accessible. The letter to Dr. Zerhouni is available online."

ACIS update

The Academic Contributor Information System (ACIS Project) has posted an update describing some bug fixes and design changes. Background on the project: "We believe that scholarly authors are an important source of academic metadata. Individual academics are willing to share data about themselves, because it promotes their work. The data they can share is very useful when combined with the usual library-type documents data. In 2000, the idea was poineered by Markus Klink and Thomas Krichel through the HoPEc project in Economics. The ACIS project aims to create a general and powerful tool, which will help people implement the same idea in other areas than Economics."

Friday, August 27, 2004

Discussion of OA journals in linguistics

The Linguist List is currently running a good thread on open access journals. Unfortunately, the list software doesn't let me link to the thread itself. But here are the first four postings in the thread, 1, 2, 3, 4. (Thanks to Kai von Fintel.)

For and against the NIH OA plan

A short, unsigned story in the August 30 Library Journal describes the "heated debate" on the NIH open-access plan. Excerpt: "Calling a recent proposal by the National Institutes of Health to mandate open access archiving a 'radical new policy' included 'at the eleventh hour' by a U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) last week launched a counteroffensive....Meanwhile, a group of academic libraries and major library organizations joined a coalition to support open access to NIH-funded research. The Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA) is comprised of libraries, patient and health policy advocates, and others who will urge the NIH and Congress to move forward with plans to make the NIHís publicly-funded research freely accessible online."

Another book author choosing OA

Gregory Chaitin, Meta Math! The Quest for Omega. The full text is free online, and a priced, printed edition is forthcoming from Pantheon in September 2005.

New OA journal

Doping Journal is a new peer-reviewed OA journal, making its debut during the Athens Olympic games. The inaugural issue contains two IOC documents, two news stories, and one peer-reviewed article (in press) on doping in the Olympics.

FASEB letters opposing NIH OA plan

Paul Kincade, President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), has publicly released his August 17 letter to Elias Zerhouni, Director of the NIH, and his August 19 letter to Senators Specter and Harkin. Both letters oppose the NIH open-access plan. (PS: See my FAQ for answers to most of the FASEB objections.)

Good intro to OA journals

Dan Engber, Andy Gass, and Gavin Yamey, Who should own medical knowledge, Student BMJ, September 2004. Excerpt: "It is a depressingly familiar story. A group of medics in Indonesia search medical literature in preparation for a study. They want to arm themselves with as much knowledge as possible, so that their own research will build on previous work. But when they go online to access the crucial articles, they are out of luck: reading the papers requires exorbitant pay per view or journal subscription fees which they cannot afford. We are part [PLoS] of a grassroots movement of doctors and researchers who believe that medical research results should be a freely available public resource. Governments worldwide invest billions of dollars in medical research every year --the National Institutes of Health in the United States will alone spend $28bn (£15bn; €23bn) in the fiscal year 2004, yet the results largely remain in private hands, locked behind access fees and restrictions. Why is it so urgent to unlock this treasury of knowledge? Taxpayers deserve free access to the results of research that they have financed. Patients have the right to know the results of studies in which they participated and which are relevant to their condition. Researchers should be able to share knowledge to promote more efficient scientific progress....Open access publishers act as service providers, rather than owners of information. They charge a one time publication fee for what they do --mediating peer review, copy editing, electronic formatting, online hosting, and a few other tasks-- and in return they impose no restrictions on viewing and using the articles that they publish. If authors cannot afford the publication fee, it is waived, with no questions asked --inability to pay publication charges should not be a barrier to publishing in open access journals."

Reconsidering copyright for journal articles

Shalini R. Urs, Copyright, academic research and libraries: balancing the rights of stakeholders in the digital age, Program: electronic library & information systems, 38, 3 (2004) pp. 201-207. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: "Following an overview of the historical context of copyright legislation, this paper discusses copyright within the scholarly communication process and the role of libraries in providing access to copyright materials in the digital age. The argument is made that the balance of 'rights' and 'exceptions' that has been maintained for 300 years needs to be reconsidered for scholarly communications, such as theses and dissertations, as well as for articles in electronic journals. This type of information is fact-based, often resulting from public funds, and is part of the intellectual heritage of academic institutions, and so is very different to creative works within the entertainment industries."

Non-OA access to medical information

The PSP/AAP has released a document, How To Access Medical Information, which leaves the impression that there is no such thing as open access.

An appreciation of the Mellon Foundation

Maryelaine Block has written an appreciation of the Mellon Foundation for its many projects in support of digitization, scholarly publishing, and infrastructure for preservation, collaboration, and access.

Another TA journal converts to OA

The Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology (JBB) is converting to open access, effective immediately. Quoting from yesterday's press release: "JBB will adopt a mandatory open access model whereby authors will be required to pay an article processing charge of $495 for any article published in JBB. The journal will continue to have both an online (which is now freely available with no subscription or registration barriers) and print editions." JBB is published by Hindawi Publishing Corp. (PS: Kudos to JBB and Hindawi!)

More on access to drug trial data

Jamie Talan, Glaxo to reveal drug trial results, Newsday, August 27, 2004. Excerpt: "GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to disclose previously unpublished studies about its drugs, a move that settles a lawsuit in which New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer accused the company of hiding negative findings about the antidepressant Paxil....As part of the agreement, the company is establishing a registry that will contain the study protocols for all medicines the company makes and summaries of all results from clinical trials since 2000, including published scientific papers as well as studies that otherwise would never see the light of day."

An OA milestone for BMC

BioMed Central has received its 10,000th submission. Quoting its lead author, Jan Gläscher: "I strongly support the idea of open access and the unrestricted spread of knowledge within the scientific community. I think that authors should support BMC journals strongly by submitting high quality manuscripts to them." Quoting BMC: "In the years since BioMed Central launched in 2000, we have seen our submission rate grow rapidly as more and more researchers choose Open Access journals as the best home for their research."

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Review of Project Euclid

Gerry McKiernan, Project Euclid: Mathematics and Statistics Journals, The Charleston Advisor, July 2004. Excerpt: "By providing access to more than 30 significant mathematical and statistics journals within a common framework, Project Euclid has clearly realized its primary goal of addressing 'the unique needs of independent and society journals through a collaborative partnership with scholarly publishers, professional societies, and academic libraries'. Through its range of access and distribution plans (i.e., Euclid Prime, Euclid Select, Euclid Direct, and Open Access) and the associated varied subscription and pay-per-view options, it has achieved its goal of providing low cost access to its component journals. The low subscription pricing for a range of subscribers is particularly noteworthy. While it currently provides access to only one Open Access title (Annals of Mathematics), Project Euclid is to be commended for utilizing the Open Archives Initiative Metadata Harvesting Protocol (OAI-PMH) (OAI-2.0) that allows its article metadata to be harvested by such OAI Service Providers as Euler, OAIster, and Scirus, as well as for its plans to offer Open Access to backfiles of journals older than five years."

More on PLoS Medicine

PLoS Medicine will go live on 19 October 2004. PLoS Medicine will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development by scoring progress in reproductive health on September 6. PLoS Medicine - Fulltext v1+ (2004+); Print ISSN: 1549-1277 | Online ISSN: 1549-1676. Thanks to Susanne DeRisi (PLoS Web Manager) and James Butcher, editor, PLoS Medicine, for providing extra information following my post yesterday. Kudos to the handful of forward thinking institutions which have already cataloged PLOS Medicine (as documented in WorldCat): University of Colorado - Boulder; Yale University Library; Rush University Medical Center; Brandeis University Library; John A. Prior Health Sciences Library (Ohio State); George Mason University; and the University of Hong Kong Library. Exploring a bit further, WorldCat shows 167 libraries with holdings of the online edition and 109 with holdings of the printed PLoS Biology. PLoS Biology | PubMed mirror - Fulltext v1+ (2003+); Print ISSN: 1544-9173 | Online ISSN: 1545-7885.

Recap of DASER summit

Two articles in the current Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science & Technology recap the Digital Archives for Science and Engineering Resources (DASER) Summit which was held in Cambridge, Mass., in November 2003. Michael Leach gives an overview of each of the sessions and Beatrice R. Pulliam focuses on Clifford Lynch's keynote speech in which he asked his audience to consider "what needs to be in place for digitized content in the way of management, dissemination, continuity and preservation." (Source: ResourceShelf)

OA recommended at U of New Mexico

At a Tuesday meeting of the University of New Mexico Faculty Senate, "Barry Kues from the library committee spoke to Senate members about the inflation publishers charge for the subscription to their journals. He said this causes libraries to dig into funds that would be used for books to pay for these subscriptions. He recommended the use of open-access electronic publications. He also suggested the University libraries cancel subscriptions to Elsevier journals and said tenured faculty should submit papers to other journals." Kues is a professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UNM. (PS: The quotation is from Rivkela Brodsky's story in yesterday's Daily Lobo. If UNM acts on Kues' recommendations, it will be in good company.)

New portal for OA medical journals

Vinod Scaria has launched a beta version of Journal Central, a portal and search engine for open-access medical journals. The site is still under construction but already has separate lists of journals that are free for all and journals that are free for developing countries. It also has a useful subject index of all the journals listed. Vinod tells more about his plans in a posting on his blog.

Open overlay journals in mathematics

Greg Kuperberg, Scholarly mathematical communication at a crossroads, a preprint deposited at arXiv on August 26. Excerpt: "Lately many librarians and some mathematicians have warned that academia faces a serials crisis. Ultimately I do not think that scholarly mathematical communication is plagued by a crisis, but rather that it is at a crossroads. Computers and the Internet in general, and tools such as TeX, MathSciNet, and the arXiv in particular, have enormously improved mathematical communication. The question is whether, through leadership, we will greatly extend these gains, or, through complacency, we will only see marginal improvements. In my opinion, the math arXiv is a good foundation for further progress....If a journal is purely an arXiv overlay, then it need not take possession of its papers. So why should it wait for authors to submit to it? It could instead allow anyone to nominate ('submit') any arXiv article for review, whether or not it has been published elsewhere. Let us call such a review service an 'open journal'....Open journals have been tried before, both in connection with the arXiv and elsewhere....But existing experiments lack a crucial feature: They are not designed to substitute for journal names in the authorís list of publications."

Publisher opposition to the NIH OA plan

The Professional Scholarly Publishing (PSP) division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) has posted the full-text of its August 23 letter to Elias Zerhouni, Director of the NIH. The letter spells out nine objections to the NIH open-access plan. Also see the cover letters from AAP President Pat Schroeder to the science press and to Sen. Arlen Specter, Chairman of the Senate Approriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the NIH. (PS: My FAQ answers most of the PSP/AAP objections.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Wheat and chaff

Roy Tenant, Metadata's Bitter Harvest, Library Journal, July 15, 2004. Excerpt: "I recently conducted my first harvest. Not pulling in corn or wheat but bibliographic records. Before long I had nearly 100,000 of them on my laptop, all describing free online resources held by five different libraries. Using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) it was a breeze --anyone could do it with the right software, of which there is much to choose from. But I could hardly believe the results....It was a complete mess. This mess is neither caused nor prevented by the harvesting protocol (OAI-PMH) and the guidelines for its use. The OAI developers specifically created an infrastructure with both a low threshold (a low barrier to implementation and use) as well as a high ceiling (the opportunity to create much richer interactions among collaborating institutions). It was brilliant, but it also sets up problems if the collaborative community of users doesn't apply a set of common guidelines and practices." (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

PLoS Medicine - October debut

PLoS Medicine has gotten a little more specific about the launch of the initial issue. Previously described as premiering in Fall 2004, indications now point to an October launch. PLoS Medicine will be the second Open Access journal from the Public Library of Science (PLoS), following the successful launch in October 2003 of PLoS Biology. PubMed Central will provide a mirror of PLoS Medicine, as it does with PLoS Biology.

A society journal from Oxford adopts author-choice OA model

The Journal of Experimental Botany has adopted the Walker-Prosser OA model. From Managing Editor Mary Traynor's explanation in the July 2004 issue: "From July 2004 authors of research papers published in the JXB will have the option to pay a small fee ($400) in return for making their paper immediately freely available online. If authors choose not to pay then their paper will remain under the usual subscription control. This Open Access experiment arises from a commitment to maximize exposure and extend availability, but why is such a radical approach necessary? Accessibility to the complete scientific literature is gradually assuming more importance as search techniques expand our horizons....Limited library budgets, increasing publication and subscription costs, and the introduction of the Big Deals in which libraries subscribe to large collections of journals all result in small, independent, often society-owned journals being squeezed out. If this situation continues a limited number of large journals will develop editorial monopolies potentially dictating the direction of research. A freely-available scientific literature would bring many additional benefits. It is a step towards an inclusive global community. Students from high school to PhD would be guaranteed access to all that they were interested in and the free availability of information would lend confidence to an ever more suspicious general public. Many small journals like the JXB are owned by learned societies that use profits to support very worthwhile work. In author-pays business models profits will be limited and may even dry up, so what is the future for the societies? Well it is up to them!" JXB is published for the Society for Experimental Biology by Oxford University Press. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

Open source science?

Philip Ball, The common good, news@nature.com, August 20, 2004. Ball considers open projects spearheaded by volunteers, such as the SETI@HOME distributed computing initiative and Project Gutenberg. Could the same approach be applied to scientific problems, scientific publishing and peer review?

Summary of OA conference presentations

Jocelyn A. Rankin and Sandra G. Franklin, Open Access Publishing, Emerging Infectious Diseases, July 2004. Summarizing the NNLM/CDC/Emory Open Access Publishing Conference (Atlanta, January 7, 2004). Excerpt: "The open access conference generated discussion about the scientific research dissemination process and the need to strengthen the connections between evidence-based research and healthcare action. With high quality, peer-reviewed scientific research becoming freely available on the Internet, possibilities for more rapid advances in scientific knowledge and ultimately improved public health are important. Collaboration between government and academia is necessary to make progress toward open access to scientific research." (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

The many flavors of OA

Carol Tenopir, Open Access Alternatives, Library Journal, July 15, 2004. Tenopir argues that and pros and cons of OA depend on how OA is defined. Excerpt: "Journal publishing and payment models are in flux. Author payments, membership fees, institutional commitments to repository development, and self-archiving in e-print servers or other web sites coexist with lease agreements and traditional subscriptions. No one answer is a panacea, capable of solving library budget woes, access to high-quality literature, and collection development issues. But neither is it time to throw out any of the options as we work to find the best models for libraries and scholarship." (PS: I should have blogged this article last month. Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr., for discovering that I hadn't.)

Integrating digital libraries into scientific practice

Laura M. Bartolo and three co-authors, MatDL: Integrating Digital Libraries into Scientific Practice, Journal of Digital Information, August 23, 2004. Abstract: "Digital repositories can be catalysts for new knowledge by providing information space and tools to facilitate the work of students, educators, or scientists. The NSF NSDL Materials Digital Library (MatDL) is adapting existing open source 'tools', such as an image gallery and a version control system, to meet the needs of users within the materials science community. The tools are being modified to make submission to MatDL an easy step within a user's existing workflow and to avoid redundant effort. These satellite services provided by MatDL are intended to become an integral part of the user's 'laboratory or workspace'. The paper investigates whether digital repositories can expand their communities and collections by building tools that integrate a digital repository into researchers' workspaces. In the long term, it is anticipated that making submissions to MatDL an easy part of users' regular workflow will increase the likelihood that users will submit resources to the repository. Ultimately, the goal of integrating a repository into users' workspaces is to enhance the impact between research and education. Initial experience of providing these tools and responding to user feedback through MatDL is discussed." (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

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More on the Alliance for Taxpayer Access

The Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) has issued a good press release announcing that it has joined the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. Quoting ASERL President Barbara Dewey: "ASERL is proud to be part of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. American taxpayers have supported NIH-funded research for decades but economic constraints are increasingly impeding access to the results of that research. Today, we are asking for the results of these investments to be made freely available to taxpayers through an open access archive. Our faculty, students, and the general public would all benefit from this access." Quoting ASERL Executive Director John Burger: "The proposal presented for consideration by NIH and on Capitol Hill does not change the traditional peer review and scholarly publishing process. It simply ensures free public access to the archives of previously reported information that was funded by the American public. It's clearly the right thing to do."

Search interoperability for government info

The U.S. Categorization of Government Information (CGI) Working Group has released a Recommendation for Search Interoperability for public comment. Excerpt: "Because public access to government information is the basis of effective, accountable and transparent government, interoperability of government search facilities is essential. Adoption of a search service standard would serve the public interest by making government information more readily accessible through the diverse community of government information providers. Search interoperability also generates government-wide efficiencies: from increased information sharing, and from lowered costs for mechanisms needed to merge information from multiple government sources." Comments are due by September 27, 2004.

Lessig interview on Free Culture

Stefan Krempl interviews Lawrence Lessig (in German) in the August 20 Telepolis.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Turing Digital Archive

The Turing Digital Archive is an excellent collection of digitized facsimiles of historical source material from one of the pioneers of modern computing, Alan Turing. The archive is OAI-MHP compliant, and thus searchable through OAIster and other Open Archives Initiative metadata repositories. Quoting from the cover page:
This digital archive contains mainly unpublished personal papers and photographs of Alan Turing from 1923-1972. The originals are in the Turing archive in King's College Cambridge. It contains letters, obituaries and memoirs written by colleagues and used by Sara Turing for her biography of her son (Heffers: Cambridge, 1959); talks and publications on the Automatic Computing Engine, his work at the National Physical Laboratory, the theories of computable numbers, digital computers, morphogenesis and the chemical development of cells.

More on the US and UK proposals

Elsevier Faces More Choppy Water, Greenhouse Associates, August 2004. An unsigned news story. Excerpt: "Despite its recent concession granting authors limited rights to self-publish their articles that also appear in its journals, Elsevier's academic publishing business appears as endangered as ever. Committees of the British House of Commons and the US Congress recently released recommendations to set up free repositories for scientific research articles. These would become free alternatives to high-priced journals and repositories, such as Elsevier's Science Direct. Both government actions are big boosts for researchers and academic librarians, who have become vocal critics of the pricing policies of scientific journal publishers, especially Elsevier, which is the largest by far."

(PS: Both the US and UK proposals would make use of OA archives, not OA journals. OA archives are compatible with the survival of subscription-based journals. Moreover, Elsevier itself understands this compatibility and acted on it in May when it decided to permit postprint archiving. The heart of the US and UK proposals helps researchers without harming publishers. There are other provisions in the UK proposal that the stir the waters for Elsevier, such as price monitoring by the Office of Fair Trading. But OA archiving by itself should not be put in this category.)

Open-source publishing system from Cornell

The Cornell University Library has a grant from the Mellon Foundation to develop an open-source publishing platform for online scholarship. The platform is called DPubS (for Digital Publishing System), which Cornell originally developed for Project Euclid. From today's press release: "DPubS will support peer review, have extensive administrative functionality, and will provide interoperability with other open source repository systems such as Fedora and DSpace....The DPubS beta version will be available in 2005, with final release scheduled for 2006. An initial meeting to elicit development recommendations from interested libraries and publishers is scheduled for late October at Cornell."

Doctors rely on online medical info

Wendy Lee, After shakeout, medical websites find new health, Boston Globe, August 23, 2004. Excerpt: "In fact, 64 percent of all US practicing physicians use online technologies for pharmaceutical-related products and services, according to a study released last week from New York market information firm Manhattan Research. The majority of these physicians -- 87 percent -- believe the Internet is a critical resource on information for prescription drugs and treatment options, with three-fourths admitting their behavior is sometimes or often changed as a result of what they found online, according to the study. In addition, about 39 percent of all US adults rely on the Internet for health information, according to the 2003 study by Manhattan Research....The top three most visited health, fitness and nutrition websites in June were WebMD, eDiets, and the US National Institutes of Health, according to Nielsen/Net Ratings."

Duke University Press expands into STM realm

A press release announces Duke University Press's foray into scientific publishing, mentioning that the publisher will add two science-oriented journals per year over a period of five years. Duke says they were encouraged by SPARC's Rick Johnson and their university librarian, David Ferriero, to undertake this venture, and that they and others "can play a key role in moving scientific and medical publishing back into the nonprofit sector, and thus help to counter the trend that has allowed certain large commercial publishers near-monopolistic control of the journals market, to the fiscal detriment of academic institutions.Ē (Source: Issues in Scholarly Communication - Georgia State University Library)

Americans for Taxpayer Access

A large number of public-interest groups today launched the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. The coalition formed to support the NIH open-access plan and these three principles:
  1. American taxpayers are entitled to open access to the peer-reviewed scientific articles on research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
  2. Open access to these reports will lead to usage by millions of physicians, public health professionals, patients, students, teachers, scientists, and others, and will deliver an accelerated return on the taxpayers' investment in NIH.
  3. Widespread dissemination of these reports is an essential, inseparable component of our nationís investment in science.

The members of the ATA include patient advocacy organizations, libraries, library associations, universities, and university departments. Membership is open and all stakeholder groups that support open access to taxpayer-funded research are strongly encouraged to join. For more details, see the ATA web site or press release.

Preserving OA to public documents in Utah

Don't lock up court records, Utah Daily Herald, August 24, 2004. An unsigned editorial. Excerpt: "When is a public document not a public document? The answer should be 'never.' But in the view of a committee of the Utah Judicial Council, public records should not be accessible by computer, only by written request and a visit to the courthouse. The fear is that electronic mining of entire databases -- even public ones -- can lead to invasions of privacy by unscrupulous commercial interests. This notion needs to be put to rest. Any public record as defined by Utah law should be available for inspection by the easiest and most cost-effective means available. The committee's draft report suggests that individual documents that are now available to the public ought to be available by computer. But it doesn't want to open the entire database to potential electronic mining. Its fears are unfounded. There is no reason to slow the flow of information."

Monday, August 23, 2004

Richard Posner on Eldred

Richard Posner is guest-blogging at Lawrence Lessig's Blog this week. In one posting today, he offers comfort to those who wanted Lessig to win the Eldred case in the Supreme Court: "If the Supreme Court had invalidated the [Bono Copyright Term Extension] Act, Congress could have retaliated by allowing states to grant copyright --perpetual copyright, if they wanted, which was the regime for most unpublished works until 1976. All this said, the net effects of the Act and therefore of the Eldred decision are probably bad. But the worst of them should be remediable fairly easily. Stay tuned." (PS: Also read Posner's several postings on fair use. For example: "The beauty of the old (pre-1976) copyright system, with its requirement of renewal beyond a shortish initial term (like 28 years), was that most copyrights, lacking commercial value by the end of their initial term, were not renewed, and so fell into the public domain, and so licensing costs fell to zero.")

Plant science journal backfiles

Plant Journal, from the Society for Experimental Biology, is a highly regarded journal in the plant sciences (ISI JCR 2003: 6/136 (Plant Sciences); Impact Factor: 5.914). Free access, although delayed for a year, is available through Blackwell Synergy. Plant Journal - Fulltext v3(4)+ (April 1993+) 1 year moving wall; Print ISSN: 0960-7412 | Online ISSN: 1365-313X. Plant, Cell & Environment, while also well regarded (ISI JCR 2003: 10/136 (Plant Sciences); Impact Factor: 3.613), is available, free of charge, after a 3 year embargo. Plant, Cell & Environment - Fulltext v20+ (1997+) 3 year moving wall; Print ISSN: 0140-7791 | Online ISSN: 1365-3040.

International Microbiology goes OA

International Microbiology, the official journal of the Spanish Society for Microbiology, moved from Springer Link to SciELO España for online publication at the beginning of this year. Currently, there are three major online repositories of fulltext content for International Microbiology -- one fee-based and two Open Access. International Microbiology; Print ISSN: 1139-6709 | Online ISSN: 1618-1905 - Fulltext v4(4)-6 (December 2001-2003) from Springer. Fulltext v7+ (2004+) via SciELO Spain. Fulltext v1+ (1998+) from the journal's website. International Microbiology is indexed by Web of Science, Medline, and BIOSIS, among other A&I services.

OA repositories

Bryon Anderson, Open Access and Institutional Repositories, Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, August 3, 2004. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: "One recent response to the crisis in scholarly publishing has been the advent of open access journals housed in institutional repositories. This column describes some of the trends and drawbacks of these new initiatives that leverage the traditional strengths of educational and research institutions to further open up access to scholarly journals." (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

Content development for institutional repositories

Paul Genoni, Content in institutional repositories: a collection management issue, Library Management, 25, 6 (2004) pp. 300-306. Only this abstract is free online: "Many libraries are facing the challenges to develop and manage an institutional repository. This paper addresses the issue of content in repositories, and suggests that librarians need to approach the task of content development by applying some of the procedures and skills associated with collection management within more traditional environments. It also considers the types of content that might be suitable for institutional repositories, and notes that several recent Australian reports have recommended the need for a more standardised and regulated approach to the content of institutional repositories. It is argued that this is inappropriate."

Disruptive technologies in scholarly communication

Susan Lafferty and Jenny Edwards, Disruptive technologies: what future universities and their libraries? Library Management, 26, 6 (2004) pp. 252-58. Only this abstract is free online: "Christensen's Theory of Disruptive Technologies predicts that mainstream organisations and industries can be made obsolete by new technologies that change the whole paradigm of the industries in which they operate. This paper demonstrates the relevance of the theory of disruptive technologies to academic libraries, higher education and the academic publishing industry. The way universities are organised and how they operate could change radically; scholarly communication could be transformed, placing academic publishers at risk; academic libraries may become irrelevant as new business models emerge. There are strategies that these organisations might adopt to limit the effect of such technologies and/or preferably transform them into sustaining technologies."

Call for OA at a major humanities organization

The Vice President of the American Philological Association (APA), Barbara McManus, has called on the organization to consider open access: "I was somewhat troubled by one element in several of the candidates' statements, reflecting the opinion that electronic editions of research tools have made access 'democratic' or 'available to all.' People at large research universities tend to forget that subscription-only services like the online edition of L'Année philologique or Project Muse are not available to scholars at the hundreds of smaller institutions that cannot afford such specialized services. When e-publication does get on the APA agenda, it is crucial that Open Access has a prominent place in the discussion, and I hope that continued grass-roots pressure from classicists will ensure that this does happen." (Thanks to The Stoa Consortium.)

Another step toward PubChem

The NIH has awarded the contract for the Small Molecule Repository to Discovery Partners International. The Small Molecule Repository will be part of the larger Molecular Libraries Initiative, which will include the open-access PubChem. From today's press release: "A significant aspect of the Molecular Libraries Roadmap will be the development of a large publicly accessible cheminformatics database, PubChem, which will be developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), as well as a variety of informatics tools. It is anticipated that all Molecular Libraries activities, including this Repository contract, will interface with PubChem and with other planned cheminformatics systems. Also, as part of the contract, DPI will create and maintain a Molecular Libraries Repository website, describing the program.

Not the way to fight high journal prices

Harvey Rice, Lawsuit alleges fraud in sale of subscriptions, Houston Chronicle, August 22, 2004. Excerpt: "Some of the biggest companies in the international scientific publishing business are accusing Scholarly Publications Inc. of fraudulently purchasing individual subscriptions at low rates and reselling them at institutional rates that can be as much as 10 times higher." (PS: The defendants say it's all a misunderstanding. But if it's true, then here's a tip. Spend your court-ordered community service working for open access. It costs even less than individual subscriptions, it scales to the entirety of the literature, and it's legal. Thanks to Gary Price for the link.)

Scopus demo

Elsevier has launched an online demo of Scopus, its forthcoming bibliographic database. (Thanks to Colin Steele.)

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Survey of the STM publishing industry

David Mort, STM Information Market Still Looks Healthy, Research Information, undated but apparently released today. A survey of the financial condition of the STM publishing industry --that doesn't mention open access once. Mort summarizes the findings of The European Online Information Market 2004, a June report from IRN-Research (priced at £600/$1,100). His article is accompanied by a series of invidividual corporate profiles, which are more like press releases written by the companies themselves than independent analyses of their policies and financial health.

Praising Google and OA

Hamish McRae, Google changes whole relationship between knowledge and people, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 22, 2004. Much of what McRae says in praise of Google applies even better to open access. Excerpt: "But for the world, the ever-greater capability of search engines, coupled with the ever-growing pile of information on the Net, is changing the whole relationship between people and knowledge. We cannot all be experts, of course, but with a decent basic education, a reasonable command of English and a bit of time, we can have a working knowledge of almost any specialist subject. Just as the car democratized physical mobility, this collection of technologies democratizes intellectual mobility. Because we are still in the early stages of the revolution -- we are perhaps where the car was in 1910 -- it is hard to see the social consequences of a Googled world....As search engines develop, power will shift to two groups: the top-branded institutions to which people will be directed and the clever and talented individuals who know how to find their way around the system. The top-branded institutions' reach will be increased and the talented people will be liberated from the second-ranked ones. That goes for governments, too. The more information people can discover about the performance and competence of government, the more able they are to call them to account."

OA helping bring science to the public

An invisible hand? The Economist, August 19, 2004. An unsigned news story on the Allais effect in physics, which seems to show a pendulum pick up speed during a solar eclipse. Excerpt: "If the effect is real, it could indicate a hitherto unperceived flaw in General Relativity --the current explanation of how gravity works. That would be a bombshell....So attempts to duplicate Dr Allais's observation are important. However, they have had mixed success, leading sceptics to question whether there was anything to be explained. Now Chris Duif, a researcher at the Delft University of Technology, in the Netherlands, has reviewed the evidence. According to a paper he has just posted on arXiv.org, an online publication archive, the effect is real, unexplained, and could be linked to another anomaly involving a pair of American spacecraft." (PS: This is a nice case of a mainstream newspaper reporting an interesting scientific puzzle for lay readers. Would The Economist have noticed the story if the Chris Duif paper had not been OA in arXiv? Maybe yes, maybe no. Would it have linked to the paper for readers who wanted to follow up? No.)

Anti-OA letter and response

Frank Spilhaus, Spreading the word, The Economist, August 19, 2004. A letter to the editor in response to the unsigned story on OA, Access all areas, from August 7. Excerpt: "Your article on 'open access' to scientific literature is shockingly one-sided ('Access all areas', August 7th). As with most utopian visions it contains fatal flaws. Open access depends upon payment for all costs of publication by the author, or the supporter of the research, to replace the income currently made from subscribers. In many countries, government would become the principal source of funds for science publication. This sets up a system that can be politically controlled. Will researchers be allowed to publish politically incorrect work in subjects ranging from embryos to global change? Will interference such as forbidding co-authorship with residents of the state's enemies, as happens in America under the guise of financial sanctions, become the norm?...There are disciplines, notably mathematics and some areas of theory, that are not funded well enough to support a non-subscription model of publication. It may be easy to find money in a large space or medical programme but what about the lone scientist working in his garret?" Spilhaus is the Executive Director of the American Geophysical Union. (Thanks to Matt Cockerill.)

(PS: Three quick replies. First, the upfront funding model for OA journals does not change the way research is funded, only the way its dissemination is funded. Most funded research was funded by governments long before OA found its feet, and OA has not changed this pattern. Even if government funding were hazardous, it's a hazard independent of OA. Second, the upfront funding model is not the only funding model for OA journals; other models will work better in fields less well-funded than the natural sciences, and OA archiving delivers OA without the need to fund OA journals. Third, who is better off, a lone scientist in a garrett with open access to the literature or a lone scientist in a garrett with toll access to it?)