Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, October 09, 2004

SAGE goes green

SAGE Publications now allows postprint archiving without case-by-case requests for permission. The new policy is limited to author home pages and institutional repositories, and does not extend to disciplinary repositories like arXiv. It does not allow deposit of the publisher's own PDF. These details are from the SHERPA/Romeo listing for SAGE. But also see the SAGE publishing agreement and press release. (PS: Despite the limitations on the permission, this is a major step forward. Like other publishers that have taken this step, SAGE deserves our thanks. Now the burden is on SAGE authors to take advantage of the opportunity. Stevan Harnad's journal-level supplement to SHERPA's publisher-level policy database now shows that 92% of surveyed journals are green and 69% allow postprint archiving.)

Users notice harms of publisher consolidations

David Mort, Users doubt benefits of consolidation, Research Information, September/October 2004. Mort summarizes the data from user surveys taken in 2001 and 2004. During that period, users said that publisher consolidations led to improved services, but also to reduced choices and increased prices.

Using OA to improve peer review

Ulrich Pöschl, Open Access: Interactive peer review enhances journal quality, Research Information, September/October 2004. Excerpt: "There are many good reasons for providing open access to scientific publications (economic, educational, and scientific aspects). Some of the most important advantages of free online availability of scientific information are the opportunities for enhanced scientific quality assurance. Unfortunately, these issues are often neglected in discussions and reports about open-access publishing. The traditional methods of scholarly publishing and peer review do not live up to the needs of efficient communication and quality assurance in today's rapidly developing and highly diverse world of science. A large proportion of scientific publications are careless, useless, or false. Furthermore, they inhibit scholarly communication and scientific progress....The most promising way to substantially improve mainstream scientific publishing and quality the implementation of a two-stage publication process, with interactive peer review and public discussion in scientific journals....This model offers an all-win situation for authors, referees and readers. Furthermore, its practical applicability has been successfully demonstrated by the interactive scientific journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). ACP and its discussion forum ACPD (Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions) were launched in September 2001 and are published by the Copernicus Society on behalf of the European Geosciences Union (EGU). EGU is one of the learned societies that signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access (click here for more information), and long before that it started to convert all of its scientific journals into open-access journals."

Update. For a slide presentation of the same thesis, see Pöschl's Open Access: Scientific Quality Assurance by Interactive Peer Review & Public Discussion.

Separating peer review and publication

Gunther Eysenbach, Peer-Review and Publication of Research Protocols and Proposals: A Role for Open Access Journals, Journal of Medical Internet Research, September 30, 2004. An editorial. Abstract: "Peer-review and publication of research protocols offer several advantages to all parties involved. Among these are the following opportunities for authors: external expert opinion on the methods, demonstration to funding agencies of prior expert review of the protocol, proof of priority of ideas and methods, and solicitation of potential collaborators. We think that review and publication of protocols is an important role for Open Access journals. Because of their electronic form, openness for readers, and author-pays business model, they are better suited than traditional journals to ensure the sustainability and quality of protocol reviews and publications. In this editorial, we describe the workflow for investigators in eHealth research, from protocol submission to a funding agency, to protocol review and (optionally) publication at JMIR, to registration of trials at the International eHealth Study Registry (IESR), and to publication of the report. One innovation at JMIR is that protocol peer reviewers will be paid a honorarium, which will be drawn partly from a new submission fee for protocol reviews. Separating the article processing fee into a submission and a publishing fee will allow authors to opt for 'peer-review only' (without subsequent publication) at reduced costs, if they wish to await a funding decision or for other reasons decide not to make the protocol public."

Friday, October 08, 2004

Genomics knowledge as a public good

Mike Shanahan, Global partnership needed to avoid 'genomics divide', SciDev.Net, October 8, 2004. Excerpt: "An international partnership needs to be created to share the benefits of genomics research and apply them to the needs of developing countries, according to a report launched yesterday (7 October) at the 4th World Conference of Science Journalists. The proposed Global Genomic Initiative (GGI) is described in a report called Genomics and Global Health written by Peter Singer and colleagues from the Canadian Programme on [Genomics] and Global Health at the University of Toronto....The report outlines the researchers' vision of the global approach — the GGI — needed to realise the potential health benefits of genomics research. They suggest that genomics knowledge should be considered as a global public good, similar to the status given to biodiversity or the ozone layer....[A] summary of Genomics and Global Health will be published in the inaugural edition of the open access journal PLoS Medicine."

Citicorp sees OA threat to Elsevier

Nick Hasell, Larger capitalisation shares: Reed Elsevier, Times Online, October 9, 2004. Excerpt: "Reed Elsevier gave up some of this week's gains on concerns that a slowdown in revenue growth in the publisher's science division could leave its shares looking expensive. In a circular entitled Science Friction, Citigroup suggests the Anglo-Dutch media group is at a 'pivotal moment' in its history. Rogan Angelini-Hurll, an analyst, suggests Reed has been one of the best performers in its sector over the past four years....Mr Angelini-Hurll also says that price pressure and the emergence of 'open access' publishing will require publishers to invest more — either through internal capital expenditure or acquisition. On those grounds, Citigroup has moved from 'hold' to 'sell', while lowering its price target from 500p to 430p. Reed Elsevier fell 7p to 501p."

Direct and indirect benefits of OA

Heather Morrison and Andrew Waller, Open Access: Basics and Benefits, a preprint. Excerpt: "'Open Access' has emerged in recent years as a major development in the world of scholarly communication. It may have the potential to greatly alter the university publishing environment and change the ways in which everyone accesses research material, particularly scholarly journals. This article will take a look at the basics of Open Access (or OA) as well as some direct and indirect benefits of OA inside and outside of academe."

BMJ's hybrid OA

Kamran Abbasi, A hybrid for open access, BMJ, October 9, 2004. Excerpt: "Where does the BMJ stand on this issue that threatens the existence of many journals, particularly those that are published monthly or less frequently? We begin by charging for access to some of in 2005. We also begin by making a distinction between material that is original research, where authors have added most of the value, and our remaining content, where we believe we have added most of the value --imaginatively called 'value added content.' Original research will remain free from the time of publication, and sent immediately to PubMed Central --as it is now. Value added content will be free for the first week following publication and then again after a year. will still be free to people in the world's poorest countries, in line with the Health Inter Network for Research (HINARI) initiative. We will review these decisions next year, along with the subscription rate (see p 814). Additionally, we are researching authors' views on the 'author pays' model whereby authors pay a fee for all or some of the peer review, editing, and publication of their work. This fee --small compared with the cost of conducting research-- makes published research free to the end user. All this leads us to what we have begun calling the 'hybrid model' of scientific publishing, where authors might pay for peer review and publication of original research while libraries-- or readers-- pay for the value added content. We are not sure where all this will lead --the hybrid model may not work-- but we invite your views on this uncertain journey." Kamran Abbasi is the acting editor of BMJ. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

Copyright extremism chills scientific research

Heather Green, Commentary: Are The Copyright Wars Chilling Innovation? Business Week, October 11, 2004. Excerpt: "Scientists like to probe the unknown and pioneer useful technologies. But in the spring of 2001, Edward W. Felten discovered that such efforts aren't always welcome. A computer scientist at Princeton University, Felten took part in a contest sponsored by the Recording Industry Association of America to test technology for guarding music against piracy. He and his students quickly found flaws in the new antipiracy software and prepared to publish their results. But when the RIAA learned of the plan, it threatened to sue under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)....The lesson many scientists drew was that copyright protection takes priority over research. 'The legal tools that are being used to rein in bad behavior are so blunt that they block a lot of perfectly benign behavior,' Felten says. 'That worries me.' It's a concern that reverberates broadly in tech circles at a time when Congress is considering tough new antipiracy legislation....Intimidation isn't hard to spot in academia. Aviel Rubin, a Johns Hopkins University professor who last year uncovered flaws in electronic-voting software developed by Diebold Inc., says he spends precious time plotting legal strategies before publishing research connected in any way to copyrights. Matthew Blaze, a computer scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, avoids certain types of computer security-related research because the techniques are also used in copy protection....Nobody disputes that digital technology has created unforeseen dilemmas for copyright protection. But changing the laws to target versatile technology and scientific investigation rather than bad behavior is asking society to pay too high a price."

More on OA to drug trial data

Barry Meier, Bill Aims to Force Drug Makers to Register Trials of Products, New York Times, October 8, 2004. "Democratic lawmakers in Congress introduced legislation yesterday that would require makers of drugs and medical devices to register clinical trials of their products in a public database when they start and report the test results on it." (Source: iHealthbeat)

P2P for disseminating digital scholarship

Simson Garfinkel, Peer-to-Peer Comes Clean, Technology Review, October 6, 2004. Excerpt: "They're not just for file-sharing anymore: P2P networks are transmitting phone calls, blocking spam, backing up hard drives, and spreading scholarship....LionShare [is] a project started by Penn State University with a grant from the Mellon Foundation to create a series of networks for sharing scholarly information among academics. The system is designed to let individuals index and otherwise manage their personal files, then make these files available throughout a P2P network. 'Many instructors, scholars, researchers, and librarians across higher education institutions have "hidden" repositories of digital content used for teaching, research, and outreach stored on their networks or even individual hard drives,' reads the LionShare grant proposal. The goal of LionShare is to open up this content into a federated search system so that 'a single search query [could] reach all available repositories,' allowing academics to share photographs, sounds, instructional videos, and even PowerPoint presentations to a degree never before possible." (Thanks to Jon Ippolito.)

New OA journal

Innovate: journal of online education is a new peer-reviewed open-access journal focusing on "the creative use of information technology (IT) to enhance educational processes in academic, commercial, and government settings." Innovate is published by the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University and edited by James Morrison.

BMC adds 2 more journals

BioMed Central, a commercial Open Access journal publisher and hosting service for independent Open Access journals, introduced two more journals this week. Emerging Themes in Epidemiology - Fulltext v1+ (2004+); ISSN: 1742-7622. Emerging Themes in Epidemiology has taken an innovative tact in the peer review process. One of the two launch editorials explains the rationale and mechanics of involving PhD students in the editorial board and review process. Frontiers in Zoology - Fulltext v1+ (2004+); ISSN: 1742-9994. Frontiers in Zoology emphasizes a "... renaissance of integrative zoology as a modern and vigorous field of research...." All BioMed Central Open Access journals address the LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) concept through permanent archiving arrangements with PubMed Central, at the University of Potsdam in Germany, at INIST in France and in e-Depot, the National Library of the Netherlands' digital archive.

The open publication license

Andrew M. St. Laurent, The Open Publication License, ONLamp, October 7, 2004. Excerpt: "As discussed in part one of this article, open source principles may be less readily applicable to documents and other non-software works. Nonetheless, there are a number of licenses and projects directed at applying open source and free software licenses to such works. In my book, Understanding Open Source and Free Software Licenses, I discuss the Creative Commons....The Open Publication license (OPL), which we'll cover today, was originally crafted for use with software manuals, but can be used in connection with any kind of document."

More on OA to drug trial data

AstraZeneca has just provided open access to the clinical trial data for its drug Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium). I won't blog all future examples of OA to drug trial data, but it's worth blogging the early examples to prove that we're entering a new world of access. See the company press release. (PS: The AstraZeneca release is commendable and I'm commending it. However, it does not fulfill the conditions of the public statement from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors because the data are available only on the company web site and not from a central database managed by a non-profit organization.)

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Ocean Science & Ocean Science Discussions -- an update

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the European Geophysical Union (EGU) and Copernicus Gesellschaft are launching another pair of Open Access journals, Ocean Science and Ocean Science Discussions. The journals now have a website and ISSNs. Executive Editors David Webb and John Johnson and their editorial board are ready to accept submissions. Ocean Science covers the following fields: * Ocean Physics (i.e. ocean structure, circulation, tides and internal waves) * Ocean Chemistry * Biological Oceanography * Air-Sea Interactions * Ocean Models, physical, chemical and biological and biochemical * Coastal and shelf edge processes * Paleooceanography Ocean Science Discussions - Forthcoming; Print ISSN: 1812-0806 | Online ISSN: 1812-0822. Ocean Science - Forthcoming; Print ISSN: 1812-0784 | Online ISSN: 1812-0792.

Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research (FQS)

Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research (FQS), supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, is a peer-reviewed multilingual Open Access journal for qualitative research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research (FQS) - Fulltext v1+ (2000+); ISSN: 1438-5627. FQS is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

SciELO -- two more Open Access journals

SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) is a multinational Open Access online scholarly journal platform. SciELO's core constituency are the society- and university-based journals of Latin America and Spain. Acta Amazonica - Fulltext v34+ (2004+); Print ISSN: 0044-5967. Revista Espanola de Enfermedades Digestivas - Fulltext v96+ (2004+); Print ISSN: 1130-0108.

Journal pricing study commissioned by OUP

A press release, New Pricing Study Sheds Light on Journals Pricing, announces a report made by LISU of Loughborough University,commissioned by Oxford University Press, showing among other data "average price increases by publisher ranging from 27% to 94% over the period 2000-2004." The report also favorably reflects on OUP, noting that among "biomedical journals from 2001-2004 Oxford Journals displayed both the lowest median price per page and also the second highest rate of growth in impact factor values (47%)." (Source: Ivy Anderson)

FindArticles database of freely available publications

Tara Calishain, RSS Feeds at, ResearchBuzz, October 06, 2004. Calishain mentions enhancements to, a database of freely-available articles from more than 900 magazines and trade publications, noting that Looksmart has improved the search features and now includes RSS feeds for searches that you can use to update your results.

More on OA and impact

L. Baudoin and four co-authors, Bibliometric indicators : realities, myth and prospective, Medecine sciences, October 2004. The article is in French. Only this English-language abstract is free online, at least so far: "The impact factor of scientific reviews, calculated by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), is increasingly used to evaluate the performance of scientists and programmes. Bibliometric indicators, originally designed for other purposes than individual evaluation, are very useful tools provided their interpretation is not extrapolated beyond their limits of validity. Here we present a critical analysis of appropriate uses and misuses of bibliometric data based on case studies. We also outline anticipated consequences of new information technologies, such as electronic journals or open access schemes, on the mode of science production, evaluation and dissemination in biomedical sciences."

OA database of NMR data

C. Steinbeck and S. Kuhn, NMRShiftDB - compound identification and structure elucidation support through a free community-built web database, Phytochemistry, October 2004. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: "Compound identification and support for computer-assisted structure elucidation via a free community-built web database for organic structures and their NMR data is described. The new database NMRShiftDB is available on []. As the first NMR database, NMRShiftDB allows not only open access to the database but also open and peer reviewed submission of datasets, enabling the natural products community to build its first free repository of assigned (1)H and (13)C NMR spectra. In addition to the open access, the underlying database software is built solely from free software and is available under an open source license. This allows collaborating laboratories to fully replicate the database and to create a highly available network of NMRShiftDB mirrors. The database contains about 10,000 structures and assigned spectra, with new datasets constantly added. Its functionality includes (sub-) spectra and (sub-) structure searches as well as shift prediction of (13)C spectra based on the current database material."

More on Springer's digitization program

Reuters has a story today on Springer's program to digitize its back run for priced online access. Excerpt: "Chief Executive Deerk Hank told Reuters in an interview at the Frankfurt Book Fair that he was spending $18 million to produce online versions of Springer’s journals, which include articles by Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity. Making content available online is a key battleground among scientific publishers including market leader Reed Elsevier, No. 2 Springer, and Wolters Kluwer as the Internet and tightening library budgets transform the industry....'It's not a highly profitable project, but we are proud that we are doing it,' Hank said about the digital back issues....Springer is now making one million digital pages a day...."

More on Google Print

Tara Calishain, Google Print, Google Print, Argh Argh Argh, ResearchBuzz, October 6, 2004. Tara asks two great questions. Excerpt: "What's the procedure for universities and other institutions which already have books indexed online? How can they add their books to the Google Print index? A Google rep tells me there's no program for those institutions at this time. There is a program for publishers to add content but nothing else at the moment....The second question is 'How is Project Ocean doing?' You may remember a reference in the February New York Times to Project Ocean. Lisnews has a good quote and rundown: 'And Google has embarked on an ambitious secret effort known as Project Ocean, according to a person involved with the operation. With the cooperation of Stanford University, the company now plans to digitize the entire collection of the vast Stanford Library published before 1923, which is no longer limited by copyright restrictions.'...Can you imagine what such a collection would do to something like Google Print? When I asked the Google rep about this, though, they pointed out that the article was speculation, and they don't comment on speculation. Okay." (PS: For the original mention of Project Ocean, see John Markoff's story in the 2/1/04 New York Times. The idea was to digitize all the public-domain books in the Stanford Library and then, presumably, provide OA to the texts or at least full-text Google searching.)

More on Google Print

Barbara Quint, Google Print Expands Access to Books with Digitization Offer to All Publishers, Information Today, October 7, 2004. Excerpt: "Instead of limiting the program to digitally formatted extracts and descriptive material contributed by selected publishers, the expanded Google Print program now offers to digitize any and all books contributed by any and all book publishers. The company regards this as 'an important step in [its] ongoing efforts to make offline information such as books and other printed matter materials searchable online.' Most important for publishers and prospective readers alike, the presentation of bookish search results will appear at the top of result displays, accompanied by links to major online booksellers. Participating publishers will even get a share of the ad revenue Google expects to garner from ads attached to book result displays. The scanning of print books and addition to Google's search index will cost publishers nothing. Clearly Google will retain ownership of the scanned version of the texts. A representative indicated that the company has no plans at present to share the digitized copies with publishers or any Google partners or affiliates."

What OA means for libraries

Michael Leach, Open Access publishing: The promise and the reality for libraries, PPT presentation at the American Chemical Society Annual Meeting (Philadelphia, August 22-26, 2004).

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

OA anthropology

Christopher Kelty has edited a collection of articles, Culture's Open Sources: Software, Copyright, and Cultural Critique, just published in the September issue of Anthropological Quarterly. What's unusual is that this collection is open-access and released under a Creative Commons license, apparently a first for AQ. Excerpt from Kelty's introduction, describing the topic: "For business and management scholars, free and open source software represents an alternative model of software development --one that seems to challenge the conventional wisdom of industrial organization by allowing geographically far-flung individuals to collaborate in real-time and with great success on large and complex software systems. For economists and economically-minded researchers, it has generated a veritable 'infolanche' of speculation about the ostensible paradox of 'motivation:' why anyone would spend so much unpaid time building software only to give it away for free online. It is here that the old anthropological standby of the 'gift economy' has been given a new treble-mortgaged lease on life as a solution to the putative problem of motivation. For lawyers and legal theorists, free and open source software represent a new combination (a legal hack) of copyright and contract law --one that creates a 'privatized public domain' or 'commons' which has been the object of both opprobrium and advocacy." (Congratulations to Kelty and AQ for this step toward OA scholarship in anthropology.)

Genes VIII uses "open" references

Benjamin Lewin writes the following in the Preface of his book Genes VIII:
A word is in order about the choice of references. With widespread adoption of policies that allow free access to material after a reasonable delay, the advantages to the scientific community for transparency in access have been made abundantly clear. In these circumstances, I do not regard publications in journals that neither adopt this policy nor are widely available (often because they are unreasonably expensive) as legitimate contributions to the scientific literature. I see no point in citing publications to which many readers will not have access.
A vast majority of references are available via PubMed (example). Lewin has been an influential player in publishing. He founded Cell Press (sold in 1999 to Elsevier), and the web-based textbook company Virtual Text through which he publishes Genes. (My thanks to Ed Sponsler (Caltech) for providing this clear example of one of the benefits of Open Access -- an author's confidence that all readers of a book will have access to the supplementary readings.)

Endocrinology journals

Yesterday I posted a long message about free backfiles of endocrinology journals on the SPARC-OAForum. Suzanne Rosenzweig, from The Endocrine Society contacted me to correct a mis-statement about the society's commitment to the DC Principles. In her own words:
[The Endocrine Society was] (n)ot just a signer, Lenne P. Miller, Senior Director of Publications, was one of the originators of the DC Principles. The Society has a very strong commitment to the open dissemination of science.
Recent Progress in Hormone Research is (or rather used to be) a book published once a year. I am not aware of any books in the STM area where content is free after a given period. This is due to the nature of the publication and the value to the publisher of a small back list.
However, the issue is pretty much moot now that the Society journal, Endocrine Reviews, is adding an extra issue to its publishing schedule which will contain the focused content which has been the hallmark of RPHR. Endocrine Reviews' manuscripts are published online upon acceptance and are always free. Formatted and copyedited articles are free after 12 months.
The Endocrine Society publishes five serials: Endocrine Reviews - Fulltext v13+ (1992+) 1 year moving wall; ISSN: 0163-769X. Endocrinology - Fulltext v130+ (1992+) 1 year moving wall; ISSN: 0013-7227. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism - Fulltext v74+ (1992+) 1 year moving wall; ISSN: 0021-972X. Molecular Endocrinology - Fulltext v6+ (1992+) 1 year moving wall; ISSN: 0888-8809. Recent Progress in Hormone Research - Fulltext v56+ (2001+) [subscription required]; ISSN: 0079-9963.

Launch of Google Print

Google quietly launched Google Print yesterday. Still in beta, Google Print offers free full-text searching of participating print books and other print sources. Publishers cooperate for the exposure, for the links to publisher home pages, and for the "buy this book" links to online vendors. It also helps that Google will digitize the books at its own expense. If your Google search brings up a print book among the hits, you can browse a page or two of the book centered on the searchstring, but no more. You can also limit a search to the text of a given book. Google says it has disabled printing and image-copying when browsing book pages, but we'll see how long that lasts.

Profile of AnthroSource

Bonnie Nardi and five co-authors, AnthroSource: Designing a portal for anthropology, First Monday, October 2004. Abstract: "This paper investigates the information needs of anthropologists to inform the design of a portal, AnthroSource. AnthroSource will digitize the publications of the American Anthropological Association and provide services for anthropologists and others who use anthropological materials."

Call to Canada to avoid copyright extremism

Laura Murray, Protecting ourselves to death: Canada, copyright, and the Internet, First Monday, October 2004. Abstract: "Canada is at a critical stage in the development of its copyright law: it has not yet ratified the 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization 'Internet Treaties,' but it is poised to do so. This article analyses the rhetoric of 'protection' ubiquitous in Canadian discussions of copyright policy, and identifies among the various uses of the term both a problematic assumption that protection is or should be the primary function of copyright, and overblown claims about copyright's power to protect Canadian culture and creators. These 'common sense' ideas, fostered by rights–holder lobbies, emerge out of a peculiar Canadian history of cultural nationalism(s), but they may not promote the interests of Canadians. Ironically, while professing fear for their cultural sovereignty, and following the paths of their own internal political, bureaucratic, and rhetorical culture, Canadians appear to be constructing a copyright policy in complete harmony with the needs of American and international capital. I explore a proposal to license educational Internet use, endorsed by parliamentary committee, as one example of the relationship between protection rhetoric and policy development. By casting the Internet as more of a threat than an opportunity, copyright policy developers in Canada are gravely misunderstanding and threatening Canadians' use of this medium. The participation of Canadians in national and global interaction is crucial to the Canadian public interest, and must not be forgotten in the rush to protection. Beyond its analysis of this specific proposal, this paper calls for a copyright policy in line with the Canadian tradition of balancing private and public interests."

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

OMIM, Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man

One of the oldest Open Access resources is not a journal and predates the OA nomenclature. I'm referring to OMIM, Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man. Quoting liberally from the preface:
This database is a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders authored and edited by Dr. Victor A. McKusick and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere, and developed for the World Wide Web by NCBI, the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The database contains textual information and references. It also contains copious links to MEDLINE and sequence records in the Entrez system, and links to additional related resources at NCBI and elsewhere.
NOTE: OMIM is intended for use primarily by physicians and other professionals concerned with genetic disorders, by genetics researchers, and by advanced students in science and medicine. While the OMIM database is open to the public, users seeking information about a personal medical or genetic condition are urged to consult with a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to personal questions.
And thus, the qualms expressed by representatives of the commercial publishers during the UK hearings on scholarly communication are easily addressed.

WIPO moves toward IP balance

In SOAN for 10/2/04, I described two OA-friendly proposals submitted to the current session of WIPO: the Development Agenda and the Geneva Declaration. Yesterday, WIPO adopted the Development Agenda based in part on the moral force of the Geneval Declaration. I won't cover all the details of this major development, but I do want to point to some of the coverage. See Cory Doctorow's report for the EFF, WIPO Announces Plans to Support Public Domain, Open Source, 10/4/04. Then see Matt Whipp's report for PC Pro, UN body promises greater recognition for open source licencing, and Frances Williams' report for the Financial Times, WIPO to heed concerns of poor, both 10/5/04. Don't be mislead by the headlines, which emphasize open source over open access. The Development Agenda and Geneva Declaration are both general in their language and cover OA and a wide range of related issues. (The OA-related excerpts in SOAN make this clear.) The best place to follow further news on this story is the CPTech page on the Geneva Declaration.

Quoting from Jamie Love in Doctorow's piece for EFF: "For years, WIPO has pushed to expand the scope and level of intellectual property rights and told developing countries that this would help their development. Today WIPO supported an entirely different approach, which emphasized open source software, public domain goods like the human genome, patent exceptions for access to medicine, the control of anticompetitive practices, and other measures that have been ignored by WIPO for years. It represents a change in culture and a change in direction for WIPO. Many in the WIPO Secretariat opposed this, and few thought it would prevail, but today we are moving forward, on a different footing and in a positive direction, and WIPO will never be the same."

More on OA to drug trial data

Colleen Egan, Clinical Drug Trial Registry Could Have Mixed Results for Drug Industry, iHealth, October 5, 2004. Excerpt: "A high-stakes battle is raging in Congress as pharmaceutical companies, legislators and citizens debate whether drug makers should be required to fully disclose the results of clinical drug trials on the Internet.....Peter Suber, open access project director for advocacy group Public Knowledge, said that the main benefit to posting drug trial information online is to make the negative outcomes as prominent as the positive outcomes, which Suber said should help neutralize what he called the one-sided information presented in ads and scientific journals. While it may not be realistic for patients to go online and pore through dense drug studies, Suber said patients will at least indirectly benefit from the availability of the information to researchers and their physicians.....'Once the data are freely available online, I wouldn't be surprised to see data-mining tools emerge for their exploration and analysis,' Suber said. 'These tools will...bring the data to groups that wouldn't have had much use for them before, such as students, and increase the data's utility for the groups that had been making routine use of them.' "

Govt employees restricting use of public-domain images

Are webcam images of Mt. St. Helens made by U.S. Forest Service employees in the public domain? Brian Carver makes a good case that they are. But if so, then the Forest Service has to scrap the terms of use it wants to impose on the public. (Thanks to the Creative Commons blog.)

New issue of Open Access Now

The October 4 issue of Open Access Now is now online. This issue features an interview with Sharon Terry on OA for patients, patient families, and patient-advocacy organizations, a news story on the new OA journal from NPG/EMBP, another news story on the medical editors' call for OA to drug trial data, a commentary by Jan Velterop and Matthew Cockerill on the NEJM editorial endorsing the NIH OA plan with the qualification that journals should hold copyrights, and a call to readers to submit their comments on the NIH OA plan before November 16.

BMC myth paper now in French

BioMed Central, 11 « mythes » de l'Accès Ouvert décodés, BiblioAcid, September 2004. A French translation of BMC's (Mis)Leading Open Access Myths.

Open-source anthropology

P. Kerim Friedman, Open Source Anthropology, a wiki article editable by anyone. Excerpt: "While it is true that many anthropology journals never recoup their publication costs, the system of barriers which serve to protect their meager revenue comes at the expense of accessibility. These barriers make it all but impossible for those outside of well-endowed academic institutions to access that knowledge, undermining the lofty goals of producing a 'shared anthropology.' Anthropology lags behind other disciplines, especially the medical sciences, in adopting new models of financing and distributing peer-reviewed journals, known as 'Open Access' which allow everyone to access journal articles freely online."

OA to government information

Gita Widya Laksmini, Because the public have the right to know, Jakarta Post, October 5, 2004. Excerpt: "It is clear that information is the oxygen of democracy, without it democracy suffocates. Therefore, it is essential for democratic nations to secure legal protection on freedom of information, because without open access to public information, the democratic nature disappears....On Sept. 28, the international community commemorated the World's Right to Know Day. It was a day when numerous organizations from various countries around the globe met in Sofia, Bulgaria, to launch a global movement for the promotion of the right to information as a basic human right, to access government-held information and to establish open and transparent governance. The hope is that there will come a day when all governments in the world recognize their obligation to guarantee the right of each individual to access to information on what the governments are doing."

Monday, October 04, 2004

Delivering OA in the UK

Alma Swan, Paul Needham, Steve Probets, Adrienne Muir, Ann O'Brien, Charles Oppenheim, Rachel Hardy, and Fytton Rowland, Delivery, Management and Access Model for E-prints and Open Access Journals within Further and Higher Education, EPIC and Key Perspectives (undated but released c. October 4). Excerpt: "This study describes a delivery, management and access model for e-prints and open access journal content for UK Further and Higher Education commissioned by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)....[T]he archives that are being created are not being filled with e-prints quickly enough to provide open access to the bulk of UK scholarly literature. There are political and cultural influences responsible for this slow progress, including inertia on the part of authors, most of whom are still not yet voluntarily self-archiving their work. There are ways in which this inertia may be overcome, including mandating the self-archiving of e-prints of published articles by authors in institutional e-print archives. The recent report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology recommended (in Recommendation 44) mandatory depositing of eprints in institutional repositories. This mandate could be implemented by the institutions themselves or by research-funders....The study therefore recommends the 'harvesting' model...constituting a UK national service founded upon creating an interoperable network of OAI-compliant, distributed, institution-based e-print archives. Such a service, based on harvesting metadata (and, later, full-text) from distributed, institution-based e-print archives and open access journals would be cheaper to implement and would more effectively garner the nation’s scholarly research output."

Update. JISC, the report funder, has issued a press release on its conclusions (October 5, 2004). Excerpt: "Setting up and providing a centralised UK service for depositing and redistributing e-prints would be costly. It would also omit content submitted to 'distributed institutional, subject-based, and open-access journal archives.'...[The report] sets out a rationale for any new work undertaken by JISC in the area, with detail and emphasis on three specific themes: technical issues, preservation of research and political and cultural factors that need to be considered. The report also suggests recommendations for those who wish to self-archive, what steps could be made for research led institutions to establish e-print archives and how data providers, service providers and software developers need to work together to develop compatible metadata."

More on open-source biology

Karen Dearne, BIOS to break biology's tech barrier,, October 5, 2004. Excerpt: "Biologists are launching an open source movement to break the stranglehold of large corporations that dominate the biotech field and put vital science research tools into the public domain. The Biological Innovation for Open Society (BIOS) initiative, funded by a $US1 million ($1.3 million) grant from the Rockefeller Foundation announced last week, aims to make technology more readily available to biologists everywhere. BIOS supporters say the latest genetics and biology tools should be freely available to researchers over the internet, but instead access is typically restricted by commercial patents and prohibitive licensing fees."

Harvard science libraries enter repository field

A group of science librarians in the Harvard library system are working on a DSpace-based repository, the Harvard Sciences Digital Library. Michael Leach, physics and geology librarian and David Osterbur, biology librarian, informed a library group that a pilot project is now visible on the Harvard Physics Library server, featuring several physics theses and a geological report with color plates. According to Leach and Osterbur, the HDSL will aim to attract, as well as theses, scientific papers, video, serials, datasets and teaching and learning objects. While MIT's DSpace is divided into communities, the initial plan with HDSL is library-focused, with librarians expected to faciliate the process of collecting, disseminating and securing rights to repository objects.

More on the embargo lawsuit

Lila Guterman, Groups Sue U.S. Agency Over International Publishing Rules, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 8, 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 last week sued the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces regulations against countries that are under U.S. trade embargoes. The lawsuit asks the court to strike down regulations that require publishers to request licenses for editing articles and books by authors in embargoed countries, such as Cuba, Iran, and Sudan. The Treasury Department office has argued that editing papers and books by foreign authors provides them with a service, and thus violates trade embargoes. The plaintiffs in the case include the Association of American Publishers' Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division. 'Publishers should not have to go to the government to ask permission, or for a license, to publish,' says Marc H. Brodsky, chairman of the division."

OA to U.S. government reports

Aliya Sternstein, GAO policy reflects security concerns, Federal Computer Week, October 4, 2004. How some U.S. government agencies decide, and how they ought to decide, when to provide open access to their documents and reports. Excerpt: "More than 99 percent of the 1,400 reports, testimonies and legal documents that GAO officials publish annually are listed and available to the public on GAO's Web site. For a publication to be designated NI, or non-Internet, agency officials must convince GAO officials that the document contains information too sensitive to post on the Web. 'We work in concert with the agency to determine an NI designation,' said Jeff Nelligan, GAO's managing director of public affairs. 'The whole point is to make the information not as easily available, given the agencies' concerns.' However, some critics of the policy say the designation appears to be made arbitrarily. 'The only criteria they seem to have is that an agency asks them to do it,' said Patrice McDermott, deputy director of the Office of Government Relations at the American Library Association. 'There are legitimate reasons that information wouldn't be put out on the Internet, but they need to have clear criteria.'...Reports not published on the Web are still available to the public by mail or fax, but only on request....As GAO officials impose access restrictions, their counterparts at the National Institutes of Health have moved toward a completely open publishing policy. In a recent Federal Register notice, NIH officials said all researchers who receive public funding must make the results of their studies, regardless of the content, accessible and free to the public via the agency's Web database, PubMed Central."