Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Review of SAGE at HighWire

Péter Jacsó reviews SAGE Journals Online since its move to HighWire Press. Excerpt: "This partnership between SAGE and HighWire Press is a typical example of being good for the goose and good for the gander. HighWire Press' impressive digital offering has been enhanced by a substantial number of social sciences journals and SAGE made the wise move to enhance the functionality of its digital journal assets. Even when the free period is over, users will enjoy free access to the bibliographic citations and abstracts of 60,000 articles from respected social sciences journals. Assuming, that is, that SAGE uses the same strategy that has been used for other HighWire Press-hosted journals: freebies and subscription options that are well-balanced for the benefit of everyone (except for the abstracting/indexing services)."

JISC supports Creative Commons

JISC has put up a page endorsing Creative Commons in anticipation of the October 4 launch of the UK edition of CC. From the JISC page: "Education resource repositories present many challenges to institutions for the management of educational materials. Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is dealing with copyright issues, for many an elusive and contentious issue. Creative Commons is a new way for authors, artists, musicians, film makers, programmers and others to make their creative works available to the world. Rather than the usual '(c) All Rights Reserved' approach that limits the use that can be made of works, Creative Commons provides a '(cc) Some Rights Reserved' licence. Creative individuals can use the Creative Commons website to automatically generate licences that fit their exact needs."

Deep OA to federal statutes

Cornell's Legal Information Institute (LII) has released a new, open-access version of the U.S. Code (the codified statutes of the U.S. federal government). By itself, this isn't unusual. The text is in the public domain and there are several other OA editions online. What makes this version distinctive is that the Cornell team has marked up the entire text in XML and released the XML source code under a Creative Commons license. The LII's purpose is to make re-use of public-domain legal texts as easy and inviting as possible. Before you can view the source, you must register and answer a few questions. But after that, you're in re-use heaven. For example, the XML tags define every section and subsection of the code, allowing pinpoint cross-referencing, linking, and searching. (Thanks to Steven Perkins.) (PS: I can't think of a better place to start this kind of "deep open access" than with the texts of public law. Kudos to Cornell's LII.)

October SOAN

I just mailed the October issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. In addition to the usual round-up of news from the past month, it takes a close look at the September activity on the NIH open-access plan. It reprints fascinating excerpts from an ancestral version of the open-access debate 30 years ago, when the disruptive technology was not the internet but photocopying machines. For no reason except maybe the fall colors, it also offers a haiku introduction to open access.

Update. I'm receiving more than the usual number of signs that issues are being trapped and rejected as spam. If you are a subscriber and didn't receive your copy by email, then please take two steps. First, tell your sysadmin to add SOAN to your spam filter's whitelist. Second, read the October issue, or any other issue, online.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Nature Methods launches

Today marks the launch of Nature Methods, a new journal from the Nature Publishing Group on methodology and lab techniques in the life sciences and chemistry. It's not an OA journal, but a limited number of subscriptions are available free of charge. Researchers wanting a free subscription may apply online. For more details, see today's press release.

CC on OA

Open Access Culture, Creative Commons Weblog, September 30, 2004. A musing on the author pays model of OA: "Advocates of open access to academic journals were clever to call their model 'open access' rather than 'creator pays'."

Unintended consequences of OA?

Frank Gannon, Open access and closed options, EMBO Reports 5, 921 (October 2004). Gannon's second editorial on OA in a year (see OAN posting 1/6/04) indicates that he is beginning to come around on the issue, touting the NPG/EMBO Molecular Systems Biology journal. Yet his enthusiasm is guarded, as he voices concerns about the NIH OA plan, that the unintended result of it may be that agency-supported authors are excluded from publishing in journals that do not go along. Gannon expresses reservations about the author-pays model, saying that it could cost institutions more than journal site licenses; "more successful groups or institutions will inevitably carry a greater financial burden for the dissemination of research (this does not take into account institutional memberships, or plans such as that of PNAS to defray author charges for subscribing institutions.) Furthermore, he comments on the potential loss of revenue for societies, who may have to instill higher than average author charges in an OA environment. For OA to work, he writes, "we will have to be vigilant to ensure it does not become a double-edged sword that generates unexpected exclusions or unacceptable restrictions."

OA "for now"

Webology is a new online journal in library and information science and "serves as a forum for new research in information dissemination and communication processes in general, and in the context of the World Wide Web in particular." Authors retain copyright and the journal is freely available, "for now." (Source: Diglet)

Survey on scholars' views of OA

Alma Swan of Key Perspectives Ltd. is conducting a survey of scholars' views on open access publishing and self-archiving. Please find time to share your thoughts.

More on eSciDoc

Bobby Pickering, German Government funds OA initiative, Information World Review, October 1, 2004. Excerpt: "The German government has awarded Euro 6.1m (£4.2m) to STM publisher FIZ Karlsruhe and the Max Planck Society (MPS) to develop a platform for web-based collaborative scientific work and self-publishing. The five-year eSciDoc project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), will provide another precedent for state funding of open access initiatives when the UK government responds to the HoC's Scientific Committee report released in June. MPS is a not-for-profit research organisation that signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities last October. The eSciDoc project will enable scientists in its 80 institutes to collaborate on research and publish their results on a long-term basis in open archives developed by FIZ Karlsruhe technology teams."

Stevan Harnad's 10 years of OA activism

Richard Poynder, Ten Years After, Information Today, October 1, 2004. An informal history of the the past 10 years of the OA movement, starting with Stevan Harnad's 6/27/94 listserv posting making the "subversive proposal" that authors archive their eprints for free online access by all, and offering the Harnadian perspective on subsequent events. Excerpt: "Harnad also became an ardent advocate for the creation of a self-archiving toolkit that could provide the OA movement with the means to compete with the electronic platforms that publishers were developing as they began to offer subscription-based online access to their journals. It is no accident that many of the OA tools subsequently produced were developed at Southampton University, where Harnad moved shortly after posting the Subversive Proposal....[I]f the aim of the OA movement is to provide unfettered access to research on the Internet, does it matter whether this is achieved via OA publishing or through self-archiving? In the short term, yes, says Harnad, since placing too much stress on OA publishing threatens to slow the adoption of OA....What has become 'abundantly clear,' concluded Harnad, is that 'universities and research funders must extend their existing publish-or-perish mandate to mandate that the publications must be made OA --either by publishing them in an OA journal, wherever possible (5 percent) or publishing them in a non-OA journal (95 percent) and self-archiving them.'...Whatever transpires, it is clear that traditional publishers can no longer ignore open access. In Part Two, I will explore in more detail how publishers are responding and pose the question: Is the self-archiving roadmap as straightforward as Harnad claims, or even sustainable?"

Model language for helping authors retain key rights

SPARC has released two draft addenda for authors to add to their copyright transfer agreements with publishers. The addenda retain key rights for authors, enabling them to provide open access to their works without further permission. Draft 1.0 includes a Creative Commons public license, and draft 2.0 does not. SPARC welcomes public comment on them. For some background, see SPARC's page on Copyright Resources for Authors.

More on the NIH OA plan

Andrew Albanese, Battle Over NIH Research Steps Up, Library Journal, October 1, 2004. Excerpt: "Association of American Publishers (AAP) president Patricia Schroeder has sent a letter to Congress, as have a trio of AAP members. The letter from three members of the AAP's Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division raised tough questions and legitimate concerns about how the NIH policy would function practically, including whether the policy would be an 'unfunded mandate' or whether Congress would make money available to ensure compliance. It also attacked the NIH's core argument: that taxpayers should have access to taxpayer-funded research. 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 and patient and health policy advocates ( Also, 25 Nobel Prize winners have signed a letter to Congress supporting the plan. Four library groups also wrote to NIH director Elias Zerhouni to voice their support....The House Appropriations Committee has given the NIH until December to present a plan for offering open access to NIH-funded research. However, a draft statement from Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio) said lawmakers intend for the NIH to 'bring the various stakeholders to the table and work out a policy on more open access to biomedical research information, without specifying exactly which model will be adopted.' "

(PS: The last sentence does not reflect subsequent events. The statement from Rep. Regula quoted here was released in late July, before the House vote on September 9 and before Regula's floor colloquy with Rep. Istook on September 8. The House overwhelmingly adopted the original NIH recommendation, without amendment, and Regula's colloquy did not follow the July draft. Instead, it said that the NIH plan released on September 3 already "balances the interests" of stakeholders and praised it as "consistent with the language in our bill".)

Germany's largest state signs Berlin Declaration, launches OA initiative

Yesterday Hannelore Kraft, the State Minister for Science and Research for North Rhine-Westphalia, signed the Berlin Declaration for Open Access to Knowledge. North Rhine-Westphalia is the largest of Germany's 16 states and the first to sign the Declaration. The signature is just part of North Rhine-Westphalia's Digital Peer Publishing initiative (DIPP), launched on the same day. Excerpt from yesterday's press release: "The DIPP initiative, supported by the Ministry of Science with a sum of 600.000 Euros, will finance eight ejournals and their staff based at Northrhine-Westphalian universities and universities of applied science. Both with respect to software and in the handling of legal aspects, the initiative had to enter new territory both in designing new software applications as well as in legal issues. One of the new features are the 'Deutsche Freie Software Lizenz' (DFSL, German Free Software Licence Agreement), a type of exemplary contract for the use of newly developed software, another one is the 'Digital Peer Publishing Licence Agreement' (DPPL), which lays down rules for the further use of the content of material published through this channel....The aim of the North Rhine-Westphalian Initiative is to promote Open Access, the free on-line access to scientific without financial, legal or technical constraints."

Thursday, September 30, 2004

New Atom and RSS feeds, end of old RSS feed

Today (September 30, 2004) I added an Atom feed and changed the URL on the RSS feed for Open Access News. This will be the last message to be syndicated under the old RSS feed. If you have been an RSS subscriber, it's time to upgrade either to the new RSS feed or to the Atom feed. My apologies for the inconvenience. Details.

Journal of Neurochemistry -- free following 2 year embargo

Journal of Neurochemistry is published by the International Society for Neurochemistry. [JCR 2003 stats: Impact Factor 4.825; Immediacy Index 0.797; Cited Half-Life 6.5; 46th of 261 journals in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. Notably the Impact Factor has remained nearly rock steady between 4.825 and 5 over the last five years.] Journal of Neurochemistry - Fulltext v62+ (1994+) 2 year moving wall; Print ISSN: 0022-3042 | Online ISSN: 1471-4159.

Creative Commons taking off

Chris Nolan, Creative Licensing Scheme Grabs Artists' Attention, eWeek, September 29, 2004. Excerpt: "Is the intellectual property licensing scheme known as Creative Commons picking up steam? The answer, it seems, is a cautious "yes." And that—despite the organization's demurring --could have political implications. 'It's picking up,' Commons director Glenn Otis Brown says. 'The last six months, we feel like it's a completely different organization.' The licensing scheme's popularity is clearly growing, increasing by a steady 50 percent every fiscal quarter for the past year, according to the Commons' traffic and other records. More than 4 million sites—of the 5 billion searched regularly the Web—have some kind of license....And as evidence of the idea's popularity, [Danny Weitzner of the World Wide Web Consortium] cites a recent decision by Congress to require the National Institutes of Health to make the papers and studies it funds open and free to the public, not just available through journals or other costly or limited-circulation publications. 'There's beginning to be a kind of larger, open-access movement,'' Weitzner says.' " (PS: There's a connection but this isn't it. The NIH plan will not use CC licenses. Some open-access providers do and some don't. BTW, for newcomers, the open-access movement isn't just beginning.)

Funding to convert conventional journals to OA

JISC has announced another round of funding for publishers to convert conventional journals to open access. From the tender: JISC "invites proposals from publishers or learned societies looking to move to an open access model for their journal(s). JISC will award short term funding to a small number of publishers or learned societies who agree to waive open access submission and publication fees for UK Higher Education (HE) staff for a one-year period. There is funding of £150,000 available to support this Initiative in the 2004-05 Academic Year (1 August 2004 – 31 July 2005). The deadline for submission of proposals is 12 noon on Thursday 11 November 2004."

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Project Euclid -- coming attractions

Project Euclid provides a low cost platform for the online distribution of mathematics and statistics journals. SPARC has designated Project Euclid a partner in the SPARC Scientific Communities program. There are several titles due to debut at Project Euclid over the remainder of 2004 and in early 2005:
Nagoya Mathematical Journal Real Analysis Exchange -- due spring 2005 Probability Surveys -- new Open Access title from Bernoulli and IMS Communications in Mathematical Physics (1965-1996) -- an EMANI backfile project Pacific Journal of Mathematics

Acoustic Research Letters Online (ARLO) -- free journal from Acoustical Society of America

Acoustic Research Letters Online (ARLO) is a quarterly letters journal of acoustics, published by the Acoustical Society of America. Quarterly may be misleading in this usage. Volumes are designated annually, issues fill on an article by article basis, with pagination assigned based upon PDF formatting. ARLO is an online journal to facilitate rapid publication and to support multimedia expression within articles. A quick look at the Terms and Conditions of Use for ARLO shows how this free journal differs from an Open Access (OA) journal. For example, OA journals may be harvested in their entirety to facilitate data mining, whereas wholesale downloading of ARLO is not permitted. Acoustic Research Letters Online (ARLO) - Fulltext v1+ (2000+); ISSN: 1528-7853.

Two on "open source" biology

A Nature news article, Biologists launch 'open-source movement', and editorial (access restricted to subscribers) herald a program that sounds like a Creative Commons for biologists: Biological Innovation for Open Society (BIOS). "The initiative's first activities will be to gather a portfolio of research tools that can be used for free and to construct an easy-to-use database of patent information. It will also provide templates of licensing agreements for scientists who want to make their technologies freely available. In turn, users will be obliged to freely release innovations based on these techniques." The initative is supported by a $1,000,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Detailed look at the launch of PLoS

Will Harper, Publisher for the People, East Bay Express, September 29, 2004. A long, detailed, informal walk through the origins of PLoS and the nature of OA journal publishing. Excerpt: "For [Mike] Eisen and fellow critics of Big Publishing, the access issue cut to the heart of what science should be versus what it has become. The argument goes like this: The goal of research is to improve our knowledge. It's a cumulative process in which discovery begets discovery as scientists build on the work of their predecessors. But to unravel the mysteries of life and the cosmos, researchers need access to all available information, and that means journals, the main medium by which scientists communicate. By limiting public access now that electronic distribution is available, the journal industry is effectively working against the larger goals of science....It's still too early to tell whether PLoS has a sustainable business model. Critics say the real test for the young publisher will come after its $9 million grant runs out. 'PLoS is highly subsidized,' [Marc] Brodsky says. 'They are not making it on their $1,500-an-article charge yet.'...Ever the salesman, Eisen doesn't let the criticism get him down. He's thrilled, in fact: PLoS Biology has been more successful than he ever expected. And next month the publisher will release its second title, PLoS Medicine.

Genome Research adopts OA model

Genome Research (GR), a journal published by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press (CSHLP), has just announced that it has adopted the author-choice model of open access (what I sometimes call the Walker-Prosser model). Quoting from the press release (September 27): "Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press announced today that authors of papers in its journal Genome Research can now choose to have their papers made freely available online immediately upon publication. This option will incur a publication surcharge of $1,000. As a founder member of the DC Principles Coalition, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press is committed to making research results as widely available as possible. Papers published in Genome Research can already be read without restriction at the journal's website six months after publication and copies of these papers are deposited with the National Library of Medicine's database PubMedCentral....Its diversity of financial support is an important reason that the "immediately open access" option is possible for Genome Research and the surcharge has been set at a level that anticipates the continuation of multiple revenue streams. 'We recognize that if a large proportion of authors choose immediately open access, librarians may come to feel it is not worth continuing to subscribe to Genome Research' [John] Inglis [Executive Director of CSHLP] said. 'We plan to engage the library community in a dialogue as our experience with this option grows, to make sure the journal's ability to contribute to the advance of science isn't undermined.' "

On Google news and copyright

Adam L. Penenberg, Google News: Beta Not Make Money, Wired News, September 29, 2004. Penenberg explores why Google News, a site that crawls multiple news sites and gives readers a choice of sources to view, remains in beta. He explains that Google cannot derive advertising revenue from others' headlines and lead paragraphs or risk violating copyright law. Evidently, Google News has run into copyright troubles in other countries such as Germany and Hong Kong. Ironically, Penenberg notes that Google's founders sent a cease and desist letter to one who devised RSS feeds for Google News, saying they don't allow "'webmasters to display Google News headlines on their sites.'" (Source: Scripting News)

Archiving software for numeric data collections

The Virtual Data Center has released version 1.0 of its open-source software for archiving numeric data.

New social work journal

Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics is a new peer-reviewed open access journal. From the editorial: "Early in the conception of JSWVE, the committee decided that the online publication must not have a subscription fee. Not only is the editorial board made up of volunteers, the publisher must be a volunteer. " (Source: Behavioral Sciences News

OSI grants program for OA journals

The Open Society Institute Information Program has announced a new grants program for open access journals. OSI is providing $50,000 "to support the publication in open access journals of articles by authors residing and working in countries where the Soros foundations network is active." The funding covers article processing fees charged by OA journals for accepted articles and will be paid directly to the journals. The program covers all open-access journals and all disciplines. Journal publishers may apply online.

OA and security

Emily Singer, Scientists stumped by dual push for open access, secrecy, News@Nature, September 28, 2004. Excerpt: "The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) is increasingly moving to adopt schemes that promote open access to scientific information. Most scientists favor the plans, but the push is adding confusion over how to balance openness with simultaneously rising security concerns about biodefense research. Beginning in October, the NIH plans to require grant applicants to describe how they will make their data available to other scientists. The agency has also announced plans to make all NIH-funded research papers freely available six months after publication. There is other support for the open sharing of data as well. The US National Research Council in September released a report firmly advocating continued public access to genome sequences of microbial pathogens, saying the benefits of sharing data outweigh the potential risks. But as spending on biodefense research continues to grow, some scientists and administrators are concerned over the lack of specific criteria for judging sensitive content."

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Journal of Insect Science -- excellent OA journal; multiple sources

Journal of Insect Science (JIS) is an Open Access journal with several years of independent publication history. As documented in Peter Suber's list of 'Journal declarations of independence', Henry Hagedorn resigned as editor of a similar, commercially published journal and founded this free, online-only competitor. Hagedorn was assisted by SPARC in founding the journal. JIS is currently designated a SPARC Leading Edge journal. The University of Arizona Library has been instrumental in the launch and continued operation of JIS. JIS, as an Open Access journal, is an excellent candidate for LOCKSS or a LOCKSS-type arrangement. Fortunately, in addition to the JIS website, BioOne has included it as an OA title. Now, PubMed Central has become another repository for this title. Journal of Insect Science - journal website | BioOne | PubMed Central - Fulltext v1+ (2001+); ISSN: 1536-2442. (Thanks to Brook Dine at the PMC-News mailing list.)

OA increases impact in philosophy, political science, electrical engineering, and mathematics

Kristin Antelman, Do Open-Access Articles Have a Greater Research Impact?, College and Research Libraries, September 2004. Accessible only to subscribers, at least so far. Abstract: "Although many authors believe that their work has a greater research impact if it is freely available, studies to demonstrate that impact are few. This study looks at articles in four disciplines at varying stages of adoption of open access --philosophy, political science, electrical and electronic engineering and mathematics-- to see whether they have a greater impact as measured by citations in the ISI Web of Science database when their authors make them freely available on the Internet. The finding is that, across all four disciplines, freely available articles do have a greater research impact. Shedding light on this category of open access reveals that scholars in diverse disciplines are adopting open-access practices and being rewarded for it." (Thanks to Ray English.)

Update. Kristin has put an OA edition of her article on her personal web site and another copy in E-LIS. Thanks, Kristin!

More on the embargo lawsuit

John Dudley Miller, Publishers sue US OFAC, TheScientist, September 28. Excerpt: "A coalition of publishers' and authors' organizations sued the Department of Treasury yesterday (September 27) to force it to stop banning the American publication of works written by authors in four trade-embargoed countries. The federal lawsuit filed in New York City asks for a temporary injunction against the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which regulates ongoing US embargoes against Iran, Cuba, Libya, and Sudan. The regulations violate the First Amendment and US law, publishers claim, because they require them to obtain government licenses before they can "substantively edit" manuscripts before publication."

Canada should adopt a policy similar to NIH OA plan

Michael Geist, Tackling innovation deficit a balancing act, Toronto Star, September 27, 2004. Excerpt: "The federal and provincial governments urgently need to adopt policies that foster innovation by increasing access to, and dissemination of, cutting-edge Canadian knowledge and research in order to correct the imbalance between dollars spent on research and educational materials and the corresponding outputs to the Canadian research and education communities....First, Canada must begin to think about new ways to disseminate its publicly funded research....Canada spends billions of tax dollars on research only to "buy back" that funded research through the marketplace or by subsidizing universities, which are effectively forced to repurchase their own research through journal subscriptions. Late last month, a group of Nobel prize winners in the United States (which faces the same dilemma) issued a public letter calling on their government to link public research funding with public dissemination of the results. Canada should jump at the chance to adopt a similar model that would tie free, public dissemination to all publicly funded research. Such an approach would still leave room to commercialize the research results, while providing Canadians with an unprecedented innovation opportunity and a more immediate return on its research granting investment."

Presentations on OA

Many of the presentations from the conference, JPGM GOLD CON: 50 years of medical writing (Parel, Mumbai, India, September 23-26, 2004), are now online. See especially the 13 presentations on open access in Part IV.

Optics Express -- OA journal from Optical Society of America

Optics Express is a long-running Open Access journal from the Optical Society of America. Optics Express is published biweekly and is ranked 5th among optics journals in ISI's JCR 2003; Impact Factor 3.22, Immediacy Index 0.54. Optics Express - Fulltext v1+ (1997+); ISSN: 1094-4087.

NIH officials speak about the OA plan

Janet Coleman, "Open access would cost NIH roughly $2.5 million, agency's Lipman estimates," Washington Fax, September 27, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "Preliminary estimates of the cost of offering all NIH-funded research studies on the National Library of Medicines’s PubMed Central digital library are around $2.5 million and not the $100 million some critics have suggested, NLM Director Donald Lindberg, MD, said. NLM National Center for Biotechnology Information Director David Lipman 'worked up a budget of actual estimated costs…multiplied by everything under the sun and came up with $2.5 million,' Lindberg told the NLM Board of Regents Sept. 21....Lipman noted that 'there's been some very strong negative the publishers' to NIH's open access proposal. The proposal, which provides free public access to the studies six months after publication, 'minimizes' any financial impact to the publishers by the six-month wait, Lipman noted....Publishers, however, have also argued that 'somehow this is a new government role, and the government should not be doing this.' That argument, Lipman said, is 'disconcerting because the government has been doing this, and libraries have been doing this, for over a century. NLM has had a mandate to archive the literature for over 150 years, and archiving is simply making sure there's access for the future. While they [use phrases] like "this is government as gatekeeper," in reality this is government and libraries just following through on the kind of commitment they have to archiving that's always existed.' "

AAU endorses the NIH OA plan

The American Association of Universities (AAU) has released a Statement on the NIH Public Access Proposal. Here is the statement in its entirety:

AAU strongly supports efforts to achieve the widest possible dissemination of the results of federally funded research, and the association commends the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for its proposal to increase public access to published results of NIH-funded research. Making research results freely available to the public six months after those results are published should not only benefit the public through expanded access to information but should benefit scientists and advance science through wider dissemination of new knowledge.

We appreciate the recognition by NIH of the need for any such proposal to preserve the quality of scientific information through peer review, editorial, and scientific quality-control processes. The basic elements of NIH’s proposal appear to be consistent with this goal. NIH’s stated intention to work with affected parties during the further development of this initiative should achieve the goal of expanding public access in ways that preserve the quality of published scientific information. AAU will submit comments on the proposal and looks forward to working with NIH and other affected parties toward this goal.

(PS: This endorsement is very important. The AAU represents the leading research universities in the U.S. and Canada and carries great weight with Congress on issues relating to higher education, copyright, and scholarly communication. The statement is undated but was apparently released yesterday, September 27, 2004.)

Another misreading of the NIH OA plan

House Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill Includes "Open Access" Language, FASEB News, August 2004 (scroll to p. 4). An unsigned news story. "The FY 2005 House Labor-HHS appropriation bill contained more than just disappointingly low funding levels for NIH. The bill also included report language that would in essence force all NIH funded research to be published in an 'open access' format through the National Library of Medicine (NLM), rather than through the current system of established scientific publications." (PS: The "rather than" is an inexcusable misreading of the NIH plan, which only applies to articles that have been accepted and published in independent, peer-reviewed journals. I doubt that anyone at FASEB reads biology journals this carelessly. So why read the NIH OA plan this carelessly? Or did the unnamed author of this piece understand the plan and choose to "mobilize the base" with misinformation?)

More on the embargo lawsuit

Christina Hoag, Publishers sue Treasury over Cuban works, San Luis Obispo Tribune (and many other Knight Ridder Tribune papers), September 27, 2004. Excerpt: "Seeking to overturn restrictions against publishing works from Cuba and other blacklisted countries, a group of scholarly publishers and authors on Monday sued the U.S. Treasury Department. 'Ideas should not be embargoed,' said Janet Francendese, editor in chief of Temple University Press, one of five publishers that have frozen Cuban projects for fear of being fined from the Office of Foreign Assets Control....According to OFAC, presses must obtain licenses to publish works from embargoed nations, which also include Iran and Sudan, or risk fines of up to $1 million or prison sentences of up to 10 years....'How can the United States uphold our position as a beacon for the free exchange of ideas and science if we ourselves censor authors because of where they live?' asked Marc Brodsky, chairman of the AAP/PSP."

Elimination of free riding is the wrong goal

Mark Lemley, Property, Intellectual Property, and Free Riding, a preprint. Excerpt: "In this article, I suggest that the effort to permit inventors to capture the full social value of their invention - and the rhetoric of free riding in intellectual property more generally - are fundamentally misguided. In no other area of the economy do we permit the full internalization of social benefits. Competitive markets work not because producers capture the full social value of their output - they don't, except at the margin - but because they permit producers to make enough money to cover their costs, including a reasonable return on fixed-cost investment. Even real property doesn't give property owners the right to control social value....The goal of eliminating free riding, then, is ill-suited to the unique characteristics of intellectual property. Efforts to permit intellectual property owners to fully internalize the benefits of their creativity will inevitably get the balance wrong."

Tim Berners-Lee on the semantic web

Mark Frauenfelder interviews Tim Berners-Lee on the semantic web in the October issue of the MIT Technology Review. Quoting Berners-Lee: "Exciting things are happening in the life sciences. The big challenges such as cancer, AIDS, and drug discovery for new viruses require the interplay of vast amounts of data from many fields that overlap --genomics, proteomics, epidemiology, and so on. Some of this data is public, some very proprietary to drug companies, and some very private to a patient. The Semantic Web challenge of getting interoperability across these fields is great but has huge potential benefits." (PS: The benefits of OA function as incentives to make content OA. As time goes on, the benefits of the semantic web will be among the chief benefits of OA.)

More on Canadian copyright reform

CBC News staff, Educators pan web copyright proposal, CBC News, September 23, 2004. Excerpt: "Six national education groups don't like proposed changes to copyright laws, saying they hinder web use for teaching purposes. The standing committee on Canadian Heritage has recommended the creation of a licensing scheme, which would cause students and teachers to pay to use online material that's now free....They want an amendment to the rules allowing teachers and students use of publicly available web material."

US provides OA to most patent applications

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is now providing open access to most new patent applications. There is an exception for applications covered by confidentiality laws, and the delay between filing and OA dissemination can be up to 18 months. However, even with these exceptions about 90% new applications are now OA. The OA system fulfills a 1999 directive from Congress. If the achievement sounds minor, consider that at the time Congress issued its directive, before patent applications were digitized (let alone put online or made OA), pending applications would make a pile of paper 27 miles high. For more details, see Anne Harding, US Publishes Patent Application Files Online, The Scientist, September 27, 2004.

Bibliography on OA and citation impact

Steve Hitchcock, The effect of open access and downloads ('hits') on citation impact: a bibliography of studies, The Open Citation Project, to be continuously updated. A very useful collection of the studies and evidence. Now I have a single page to which I can refer people when I cite the proposition that OA increases citation impact.

Copyright and OA for electronic theses

Theo Andrew, Intellectual Property and Electronic Theses, JISC Legal Information Service, September 22, 2004. Excerpt: "This briefing paper is concerned with outlining the issues which arise for an institution which is considering adopting electronic theses and dissertations for student work....[T]here may be no single answer to what should be open public knowledge and what should remain private....Certainly the majority of institutions in the UK that have begun the process of adopting electronic theses have taken the middle-ground by electing to place their ETDs online reflecting the ethos of Open Access; to maximise research visibility, usage and impact, without changing their present format of thesis examination....It is recommended that the approach to the use of copyright taken by the Budapest Open Access Initiative be adopted. Generous rights for users combined with content protection for authors and institutions is advocated: 'The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.' "

More on the lawsuit to lift the trade embargo on journal editing

The AAP/PSP maintains a useful web page collecting documents, press releases, and other information related to its lawsuit against the US Treasury Department to lift the trade embargo on scientific editing. And while you're at it, see the AAP/PSP press release on the lawfuit.

OA info sharing reverses power in the pharma industry

Cheryll Barron, Big Pharma snared by net, The Guardian, September 26, 2004. The story of how injured families used open access listservs, blogs, and other web tools to collect evidence and build a movement to prove that GlaxoSmithKline was marketing a harmful drug for adolescent depression. Excerpt: "These activists had toiled in deepest obscurity - some of them, for a decade - until their discoveries were featured on a Panorama programme, 'Secrets of Seroxat', in autumn 2002....The outcry that followed forced GSK to make a stunning admission. In June 2003, it corrected its prescribing instructions for Seroxat, revising its estimate of the risk of withdrawal symptoms from one in 500 to one in four....Infinitely more frightening than that reluctant confirmation of a drug's potential for harm was that in the years GSK spent denying it, this pharma had the backing of institutions that we, the public, rely on to protect us from poisoning by prescription....The internet was 'groaning with evidence'; over time, the 'cover-up became more obvious as the weight of scientific evidence got stronger and public protest grew'. Those are quotations from a magisterial history and analysis of the antidepressant crisis by two leading campaigners, Charles Medawar and Anita Hardon, in Medicines Out of Control?, a new book recommended by the Lancet as essential reading for members of the parliamentary committee examining pharma influence on health policy, whose hearings began last week. As critical to the pharmas' outing as the raw data on the internet was this medium's capacity for handling complexity - at the speed of firing neurons....Some of these sites also feature open access to years of correspondence between the activists and regulatory officials and pharma executives. Postings like these have allowed rapid international co-ordination between the campaigners."

Monday, September 27, 2004

Another straw-man argument

John Ewing, Open Access to Journals Won't Lower Prices, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpts with interposed comments:

Journals publishing is in crisis. For years, subscription prices have gone up rapidly, with the average annual increase now close to 10 percent; some journals cost three times as much today as they did a decade ago. The budgets of university libraries have fallen far behind, forcing librarians to cancel subscriptions....Scholars and librarians have become increasingly unhappy about the state of affairs, and they demand action. So what action do they suggest? They want to change the way in which publishers collect the money. Go figure....By the time people realized that electronic journals did have costs -- editing, hardware, and software, for example, are not free -- what had been considered a side benefit (open access) had become an ideology.... (PS: One more time, in case anyone is listening: No serious OA advocate ever said that OA literature was free to produce, merely that there are better ways to pay the bills than by charging readers and creating access barriers.)

Will open access solve the real problem of scholarly publishing, the exorbitant and unsustainable prices of journals? We are asked to accept on faith that changing who pays will somehow magically change how much we pay altogether. The only evidence to support that argument is a calculation that multiplies the number of articles in all scholarly journals (at present) by a per-paper charge (which is highly uncertain). The calculation shows that the total charges to authors are less than the total revenue from all present subscriptions.... (PS: No serious OA advocate ever said that merely changing the source of payment also changes the amount. Note, however, that changing the source does remove a potent access barrier for readers. In any case, the asserted calculation is relevant and important. But why withhold the numbers? Show us the numbers and then we can talk constructively about whether they are accurate.)

But as access has increased during the past decade, journal prices have continued to escalate. In spite of that deepening crisis, we now focus on access....Scholars and librarians have to stop dealing with high-priced journals, as authors, editors, referees, or subscribers. Soon the publishers of less-expensive journals will grow, and those of more-expensive journals will decline....Will cutting off ties to high-priced journals be easy? Surely not. But it is far more likely to solve the problem of prices than changing the way we collect the money. No magic is needed. We have only to focus our attention on the real problem. (PS: It's hard to believe that Ewing thinks that OA advocates do not share his complaint about journal prices or even his remedy. But OA advocates have more than one remedy. Let's remember why high prices are harmful. The primary reason is that they force cancellations and non-subscriptions, and therefore decrease access. OA gives primary attention to the primary problem. OA archiving increases access even if journal prices do not change. OA journals increase access and reduce prices, to zero, even if conventional journal prices do not change. So yes, let's try to reduce conventional journal prices, using Ewing's methods among others. But let's not wait for that effort to succeed, and let's not settle for lower access barriers when we could have none at all.)

Open Repository web site

BMC's Open Repository site is now ready for visitors and gives us details about the levels of service, features, and prices. Some of the (optional) features are high-end, like file conversion and XML markup. Institutions that think they can do it all for themselves should at least take a look at what's on offer.

More on Cornell's DPubS

Scott Carlson, Cornell Will Offer Open-Source Package for Producing Electronic Journals, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "Cornell University will release an open-source software package that will help colleges, university presses, and libraries put out journals and monographs electronically. The software, called DPubS, for Digital Publishing System, was originally designed to produce Project Euclid, Cornell University Library's collection of electronic mathematics and statistics journals. The software helps editors and publishers manage the production process for journal articles and other text. A beta version of the software will be available in 2005. The production of DPubS is being supported through a $670,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation."

Creative Commons needs wider exposure among academics

Andrea Foster, Alternative License for the Arts Fails to Catch On in Academe, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "Creative commons, an effort to get artists and scholars to give up some control of their works so that they can be more freely distributed, is struggling to gain a foothold in academe. Two years after the project was announced, only a few college programs regularly use the group's licenses to grant access to online works. And few faculty members and scholars have independently chosen to use a Creative Commons license for their works. Intellectual-property experts say that's because most academic publishers require professors to hand their copyrights over to publishers....'So many academic authors haven't received the news yet that they have rights and responsibilities regarding what they do with their copyrights,' says Michael W. Carroll, an assistant professor at Villanova University School of Law who serves on the board of directors of Creative Commons. 'There's an inertia in just signing on the dotted line when the publication agreement comes in, and handing over the copyrights to serial and book publishers.' When Creative Commons was started, Mr. Carroll had said that the academic community was a natural fit for the group's licenses. He says he still believes that, but he adds that Creative Commons needs to promote itself more to colleges and professors."

More on CC's Science Commons

Andrea Foster, Who Should Own Science? Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "Creative Commons is a group that developed an alternative copyright system to make literature, music, films, and scholarship freely available to the public. Now it plans to do the same for scientific and technological research. The new project, called Science Commons, will encourage universities to voluntarily forgo some of the protections of patent and trade-secret laws in order to make scientific research more accessible to other universities, researchers, and the public through an alternative licensing scheme....Leaders of the new project see themselves as helping researchers, university administrators, and company officials negotiate uniform licenses under which institutions would give up some ownership rights, allowing scientists at different institutions to build on each other's discoveries more easily. So far, Science Commons' developers have offered few details about the new licenses, saying they are only in the beginning stages of the project, which will be formally unveiled this winter."

More on the lawsuit against trade embargoes on scholarship

Kevin Coughlin, Suit pits free speech vs. 'trading with enemy', The New Jersey Star-Ledger, September 27, 2004. Excerpt: "A university is squeamish about publishing a birders' guide to Cuba. Another nixed an encyclopedia of Cuban music. A geology journal spiked a paper by Iranian scientists on methods for predicting earthquakes. The reason: Fear of whopping fines and jail time for 'trading with the enemy.' Trade sanctions against Cuba, Iran and other embargoed nations are curbing free speech, according to U.S. publishers and authors who plan to sue the government today....That dispute has left some publishers worried they must seek a license to publish works from embargoed countries -- or risk $1 million fines and criminal prosecution, say the plaintiffs, who include author Salman Rushdie. 'It's un-American to ask for permission in advance to publish articles or books,' said Edward Davis, the coalition's lead attorney."

More on trade embargoes on scientific editing

Lila Guterman, Publishers Will Sue U.S. Government Over Limits on Editing Articles by Scholars in Embargoed Countries, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 27, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "Calling restrictions on publishing contrary to the First Amendment and acts of Congress, a group of publishers' and authors' associations expects to file suit today against the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces regulations against countries under a U.S. trade embargo. The lawsuit, which will be filed in federal court in New York, asks for an immediate injunction against enforcement of the regulations, which require publishers to file requests for licenses to edit articles and books by authors in embargoed countries, such as Cuba, Iran, and Sudan. The suit also asks the court to strike down the regulations....The plaintiffs in the case are the Association of American Publishers' Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, the Association of American University Presses, the PEN American Center, and Arcade Publishing. Marc H. Brodsky, chairman of the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, said that months of discussion with government officials had been fruitless. 'Publishers should not have to go to the government to ask permission, or for a license, to publish,' he said in an interview last week." (PS: Some of the plaintiffs are strong critics of OA, but on this issue we stand together.)

OA licensing under German law

The presentations from the workshop, Alles, was Recht ist - E-Journals im Visier (Köln, June 17, 2004), are now online. The workshop addressed legal aspects of scientific publishing, especially licensing for open access. (Thanks to the GAP Bibliographie.)

New at ERIC

ERIC, the OA database for the field of education, has announced the resumption of its content-acquisition program, its new content-selection criteria, and its new ability to accept electronic submission of conference papers.

More on the ATA and the NIH OA plan

A new alliance to support open access, an unsigned news story in Access, September 2004. Excerpt: "Access to scientific and medical publications has lagged behind the wide reach of the internet into U.S. homes and institutions, says the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. It argues that subscription barriers limit U.S. taxpayer access to research that has been paid for with public funds. That taxpayer access removes these barriers by making the peer reviewed results of taxpayer-funded research available online, and for no extra charge to the American public. To achieve this, the Alliance for Taxpayer Access supports applying the developing practices of Open Access as defined by the Budapest Open Access Initiative in February 2002."

More on the EC inquiry into STM publishing

An effective scientific publishing system for European research, an unsigned news story in Access, September 2004. Excerpt: "Following hot on the heels of the UK government's recent enquiry into STM publishing, the European Commission is studying the economic and technical evolution of the scientific publication markets in Europe, the results of which will be available in 2005. The objective is to determine the conditions required for optimum operation of the sector and to assess the extent to which the Commission can help to meet those conditions. The study will deal with the main topics of the current public debate, such as the future of scientific publications, the risks associated with increases in their price in terms of access to information for researchers, open access to research findings for all and the need to reconcile authors' rights and the economic interests of publishers....The Commission's study will answer the following questions: What are the main changes in Europe? What and who is driving change and why? If there is any resistance to positive change, what/who is blocking it? What are the consequences for users (authors, readers, libraries)? The study will therefore seek to identify measures at European level which could help to improve conditions governing access to and the exchange, dissemination and archiving of scientific publications while guaranteeing a high level of quality, diversity and protection of authors' rights."

Open access to open learning

The presentations from the conference, From Open Access to Open Learning (Bangkok, September 15-18, 2004), are now online. A report on the major OA-related presentations, with a few photos, is also available in the September issue of Access magazine.

OA neuroscience project

The Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation (GNIF) has launched the Living with a Brain Disorder project. From today's press release: "GNIF is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing open-access information about neurological and psychological health. GNIF aims to gather information about brain disorders beyond that normally available through medical sources. Qualified volunteers will interview individuals suffering from a variety of brain disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and autism....The project results are going to allow the GNIF researchers to draw conclusions about the various brain disorders and the socio-geographical etiologies, the impact of stigmatization on sufferers, and the accessibility of related medical information and treatment."

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Until there is OA, and even after

The American Institute for Health Education (AIHE) is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to put "medical research articles into the hands of patients and their families." AIHE will provide citations by email or full-text photocopies by snail mail. Clients with access to a good research library --or a lode of OA literature-- might only want citations; others might want full-text. AIHE has some topics already prepared in its catalog and will research others on request. When clients want full-text photocopies, AIHE obtains permission from the copyright holder and pays any required fees. The service is not free, but is offered on a non-profit basis with discounts for "patients in need". (PS: I like the way AIHE mitigates access problems today, before OA is widespread, and can provide valuable research assistance, without changing business models, even in the age of abundant OA.)

Santander presentations now online

The presentations from the 9th European Conference of Medical and Health Libraries (Santander, September 20-25, 2004), are now online. Several are OA-related.