News from the open access movementJump to navigation
Microtome Publishing has announced that it will create a print archive of the open-access Journal of Machine Learning Research. From the press release (October 12, 2004): "Open access journals such as JMLR make their contents freely and instantly available worldwide over digital networks. But access is only part of the role of a journal; long-term archiving must be managed as well. The archival status of digital data is untested over long periods, and in any case, the most optimistic expectations for digital archiving assume active maintenance (refreshing, migration) at relatively frequent intervals. Thus, the use of acid-free paper archiving is a prudent step for scholarly publications, at least until such time as alternative mechanisms have "shaken out" and demonstrated their potential for longevity....Microtome Publishing was founded by Stuart Shieber, Welch Professor of Computer Science at Harvard University, to provide just such innovative services in support of open access. According to Professor Shieber, 'Some open access journals have partnered with traditional publishers to provide print versions of their journals. Unfortunately, because they are geared toward traditional journal publishing, rather than print archiving, traditional publishers have continued legacy practices of printing multiple issues per year (as if the print version was needed for access), stipulating page counts and running backlogs, distributing in non-archival bindings, and operating at high overheads with concomitant high journal costs. Increasingly, traditional publishers are dropping print versions of open access journals because they can't make the types of profits they are used to. Open access print archiving is an effective alternative to traditional print versions of open access journals to provide for their long-term archiving economically and efficiently.'" For more information, see Microtome's backgrounder, What is Open Access Print Archiving?
(PS: Congratulations to Microtome. This is a useful service, introduced early enough in the revolution to accelerate it by helping OA journals answer concerns about preservation. If I may quote myself from 2002: "So far, paper is the only commonly used medium that we know can preserve texts for hundreds of years. There are many creative methods emerging for storing digital texts electronically with at least the security of paper....The only problem is that it will take hundreds of years to monitor the outcome of present-day experiments. But we don't have to choose between insecure storage and retreat from the digital revolution: the short cut to preservation is to print digital texts on paper.")
Helen Frankish, Publishing Wars, The Lancet, October 16, 2004. Excerpt: "Open-access movements are winning increasing support, aided in no small part by souring relations between librarians and traditional publishers. But can open-access advocates win over the academic societies that depend on publishing revenue to survive?...[W]inning over scientists and funders is just part of the battle. Some of the most vocal criticism of open access has come from the non-profit society publishers who depend on revenues from their journals to fund activities such as conferences, educational outreach programmes, and provision of scholarships and grants. Varmus says that some academic societies are being inattentive to their members' needs by sticking with the established business model. He suggests societies can raise funds in other ways 'such as increases in membership fees and increased rates for meetings and other activities'. But William Rosner, professor of medicine at Columbia University, New York, and member of the Endocrine Society Council, counters that it would be 'an enormous mistake' to prevent societies from supporting their other non-profit activities through publishing....There are easier and quicker ways, however, to bridge the information divide, argues Subbiah Arunachalam, an information scientist at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai, India. 'Rather than frittering away our energies setting up new open-access journals or trying to persuade existing journals to go the open-access way, one can make the playing field very nearly level if all researchers in the world self-archive their papers in institutional archives. Then everyone with internet access can access everyone else's papers.' "
NIH research: widening access, building collaboration, The Lancet, October 16, 2004. An unsigned editorial. Excerpt: "The accelerated way in which NIH's plan was devised has led the Association of American Publishers (AAP) to declare that they have felt "steamrolled" by Zerhouni's haste. Patricia Schroeder, AAP's president, argues that there has been a damaging failure to hold congressional hearings and establish an 'evidentiary record' about NIH's proposal. In a statement about an earlier version of this policy, released by a US House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee, she claims that if the idea were to be implemented unchanged, it 'would threaten the continued survival of many scientific, scholarly, and medical publications and professional societies'....But, as editors of a journal that publishes research funded by the NIH, we disagree with Schroeder's central claim. Widening access to research is unlikely to bring the edifice of scientific publishing crashing down. Schroeder provides no evidence that it would do so; she merely asserts the threat. This style of rebuttal will not do. Indeed, the aggressive rhetorical line taken by the AAP unnecessarily pits publishers against the interests of science and the public....[I]n our view, Zerhouni is on the right track. But as the AAP's reaction demonstrates, he needs to do more to explain the problem he is trying to resolve, describe more clearly the benefits of the solution he is attempting to introduce, and show that he is listening to reasonable criticism. Anxieties about version control, for example, are real, serious, and important. Multiple different published versions of the same work will serve neither science nor the public. A willingness to negotiate over the 6-month watershed would be a further welcome sign of goodwill."
Journal of Autoimmune Diseases (JAD), as the title indicates, is wholly devoted to clinical and experimental research in the field of autoimmune diseases. JAD employs a double-blind peer review process, which is described at some length in the introductory editorial: David D'Cruz and Vitaly Ablamunits. Why do we need a new journal in autoimmunity. Journal of Autoimmune Diseases 2004, 1:1 JAD is an independent Open Access journal hosted by the for-profit Open Access publisher, BioMed Central. 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. Journal of Autoimmune Diseases - Fulltext v1+ (2004+); ISSN: 1740-2557.
Jeffrey N. Gatten and Tom Sanville, An Orderly Retreat from the Big Deal: Is It Possible for Consortia?, D-Lib Magazine, October 2004. Excerpt: "Wouldn't it be easier and less expensive to purchase only those titles from a publisher that serve one's users? Yet, OhioLINK's experience with the Big Deal demonstrates traditional title-by-title selection decisions amount to rationing information to our users....Big Deal title usage within a consortium may vary noticeably from institution to institution for any one title. However, overall relative use between institutions correlates highly. An orderly retreat using titles ranked by aggregate consortium data will affect member institutions differently on a title-by-title basis, but is likely to negatively affect almost all institutions to some degree. Overall, the negative impact should be minimal in that the correlation between institutions is strong and therefore should generally follow the aggregate data. "
Five Democratic senators have introduced the Fair Access to Clinical Trials Act. Excerpt from their press release (October 7, 2004): "In light of recent revelations that patients may have been harmed by the suppression of data from studies of medicines, Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA) and Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) today introduced the Fair Access to Clinical Trials (FACT) Act to ensure that physicians, patients, and the public have access to basic information about research studies on health care products and medicines. The law would apply to clinical trials for drugs and medical devices, and would require researchers to report all results as well as information for patients seeking to enroll in studies....'Patients suffer when drug companies cherry-pick the data about their products,' said Waxman. 'This bill will stop the industry from manipulating access to medical data.'...The FACT Act would create a clinical trials registry – an electronic database – for drugs, biological products, and medical devices. Such a registry will ensure that physicians, the general public, and patients seeking to enroll in clinical trials have access to basic information about those trials, and doctors have all the necessary information to make appropriate treatment decisions for their patients....Results of clinical trials are expected to be made available and maintained via ClinicalTrials.gov, a website established in 1997 and run by the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health."
(PS: The text of FACT is not yet on THOMAS, but I'll blog the URL as soon as it's available. ClinicalTrials.gov is OA and meets the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors conditions for an OA registry and database. Reminder that technology is cool: I wrote half of this blog posting on the sidewalk outside the Public Knowledge building in Washington during a fire drill.)
The University of Strathclyde Centre for Digital Library Research has launched SAPIENS, an ejournal portal and publishing platform. "SAPIENS" is an acronym for Scottish Academic Periodicals Implementing an Effective Networked Service. From the web site: "The SAPIENS service provides online access to a number of Scottish academic and cultural periodicals. SAPIENS delivers a range of publications using a variety of business models. For this reason the service offers a mix of access controlled and open access publications."
The Scottish Declaration of Open Access was officially launched on October 11 at a meeting of the Scottish Science Information Strategy Working Group. Excerpts:
The declaration uses the BOAI definition of OA. Funding agency signatories commit themselves (among other things) to "require as a condition of grant that publications resulting from funding are available on open access by means of self-archiving in an appropriate repository." University signatories commit themselves (among other things) to set up institutional repositories or work with other institutions on joint repositories, and to "encourage, and as soon as practical mandate" that faculty deposit their work in these repositories.
Bradley Efron, Are Print Journals Obsolete? AmStatNews (membership magazine of the American Statistical Association or ASA), October 2004. Excerpt: "All of this concern about print journals could be dismissed as airy academic hand-wringing except for one fact: the ASA depends heavily on its journals for financial support, and, more seriously, for membership....This year the ASA has a task force examining the issue of electronic publication, under the experienced leadership of Karen Kafadar....One possible action concerns arXiv, an electronic repository for paper and preprints. (Imagine a CIS where the entire article is available.) Begun in the physics community a dozen years ago, arXiv now serves a wide range of mathematical disciplines. Recently a physics friend complained to me how inaccessible the statistics literature seemed without an arXiv culture. Maybe this won't be true for much longer. The Institute of Mathematical Statistics now plans to place all Annals papers in arXiv for universal access, and the ASA is considering following suit. The goal is to encourage a thriving arXiv section for statistics (probability is already up and running) where everyone would deposit preprints as well as published material. ArXiv doesn't seem to have put the physics journals out of business, but it seems likely to undercut their primacy as reporters of the physics scene." Bradley Efron is the president of the ASA. (PS: ArXiv is an excellent option for the ASA and would have the least disruptive effect on its journal. Efron's article includes some discussion of the NIH OA plan, but mistakenly concludes that its purpose is to punish expensive journals and their publishers; the primary purposes are to accelerate medical research and give taxpayers, including researchers and physicians, access to the research they have funded.)
Kamran Abbasi makes the case against impact factors in this week's British Medical Journal (BMJ 2004;329 (16 October), doi:10.1136/bmj.329.7471.0-h ): Let's dump impact factors
Library Journal staff, Elsevier's Scirus Science Search Engine Challenges Google, Library Journal, October 15, 2004. Excerpt: "Elsevier Science is throwing down the gauntlet to Google users, challenging them to switch to its Scirus search engine when scouring the web for scientific information. Though the publisher has come under fire for its pricing, Scirus has been available free since its 2001 launch. Amanda Spiteri, marketing director of Elsevier's ScienceDirect, told LJ that Scirus now has attracted more than one million users worldwide, a number 'beyond expectations.'...In addition to searching more than 167 million science-specific web pages, Scirus covers 18 million full-text articles and abstracts from journal sources that include Medline, ScienceDirect, BioMed Central,and preprint archives. Elsevier says that Scirus 'includes more coverage of proprietary and Open Access Initiative sources than any other free search engine.'...[Spiteri] admits there is some suspicion about Elsevier's motives but assures LJ that Scirus isn't a promotion tool for the publisher's products. Spiteri emphasized that Scirus features materials from a wide variety of sources and that results are branded so users can see where the information originated. Elsevier expects to 'benefit from the research output' generated by users to recoup its investment."
Andrew Albanese, BioMed Central Changes Pricing, Library Journal, October 15, 2004. Excerpt: "After receiving significant feedback from the academic library community, open access publisher BioMed Central (BMC) announced that it was reversing its decision to alter its institutional membership model for 2005. In early 2004, BMC announced that its institutional memberships for 2005 would be renewed calculated on an estimated 'per article published' basis....[The original] model, however, produced 'unfair side effects,' according to BMC officials, who noted that some institutions' faculty simply published more than others. Librarians, however, voiced concern over the proposed BMC plan for 2005, saying that a membership fee on a per article published basis would essentially shift the publication costs of researchers to the library --not something libraries' fixed budgets were well suited to handle."
Journal of Inflammation launched in late September. This peer-reviewed journal will cover the full range of inflammatory mechanisms at the cellular and molecular level and the healing process from a clinical perspective. Anti-inflammatory therapeutics and pharmacology are also within scope. Journal of Inflammation - Fulltext v1+ (2004+); ISSN: 1476-9255. Debuting this week is Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation (JNER). JNER focuses on the intersection of neuroscience, biomedical engineering, and physical medicine and rehabilitation. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation - Fulltext v1+ (2004+); ISSN: 1743-0003. 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.
Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network is hosted by the Smithsonian Institution. The site provides monthly reports of volcanic activity from around the globe spanning more than 35 years. With all the attention which Mount St. Helens is currently generating in the United States, I thought there might be a modicum of interest in this freely available resource. Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Fulltext 1968+; ISSN: 1050-4818.
Michael T. Clarke, When Information Is Free, What Will It Be Worth? Chronicle of Higher Education, October 15, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). A letter to the editor in response to Lila Guterman's 9/10 story (blogged excerpts) on the NIH plan. Excerpt: "The argument I did make is that if a critical mass of articles published in a journal were freely accessible elsewhere on the Internet [e.g. in PubMed Central], the current subscription model that has been used successfully by the scientific and medical community for 350 years would no longer be economically viable....Journals would be forced to recover the cost of publication by levying author fees. A move to this publishing system, known as the author-pays model, is precisely what open-access advocates are attempting to foist on scientific publishers through legislative mandate. And while it sounds good at first glance (who doesn't like the idea of everything being free for everyone?), this publishing model would introduce a number of problems with very serious implications for taxpayers, patients, and science itself....The third and most serious concern I raised is that an author-pays system would introduce an inherent, structural conflict of interest into the peer-review process, undermining the integrity of research. If an author whose research is being evaluated by a journal is also the principal source of that journal's income, we have a very serious problem." Clarke is the Senior Managing Editor of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
(PS: Three quick responses. First, Clarke knows that the NIH plan only calls for OA archiving, not for the forced conversion of non-OA journals to OA journals. But he argues that the former will lead to the latter. However, there are at least seven reasons to think that the NIH plan will not cause journals to lose subscribers; until Clarke can answer them, his worry seems to be groundless or speculative. Second, Clarke knows that Congress and the NIH are not pushing the idea that "everything [should be] free for everyone". So why weaken the argument with caricature? Third, the fear that OA journals will compromise on peer review in order to gather processing fees is understandable but completely answerable. Clarke could do more by responding to the answer than by repeating the objection.)
Paul Conway's October 7 talk at OCLC, Institutional Repositories: Is There Anything Left to Say? is now available as a PDF text file and an MP3 audio file.
Nicholas R. Cozzarelli, Kenneth R. Fulton, and Diane M. Sullenberger, National Academy of Sciences endorses National Institutes of Health plan for enhanced access to research information, PNAS Early Edition, October 12, 2004.
Vin Crosbie, Monitoring the Health of Paid Content for Physicians, ClickZ, October 13, 2004. On the mix of free and priced content from the New England Journal of Medicine.
More about the news item by Tim Lougheed in CMAJ 2004 (12 Oct); 171(8): 838, New online medical journal challenges conventions: I've posted an eLetter in response, entitled Misunderstanding Open Access. An excerpt from my response: "An important misunderstanding, not clarified in Tim Lougheed's otherwise-informative news article, is that "Open Access" (OA) is often identified only with "OA Publishing". Instead, there are two complementary OA strategies. ... One strategy involves OA archives or repositories (the "Green Road" to OA), while the other involves OA journals (the "Golden Road" to OA)".
The November issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now online. This issue has a long section on Library Access to Scholarship, commenting on the NIH OA plan and several recent articles for and against OA, including some of mine. Walt, an OA-independent, finds some of the recent anti-OA screeds deceptive and intemperate, some bordering on deliberate misrepresentation.
Journal of Molecular Diagnostics is published jointly by the American Society for Investigative Pathology and the Association for Molecular Pathology. In addition to implementing a one year moving wall, the journal has a compassionate access policy providing individual articles free upon request. Both societies are signatories of the DC Principles as attested to by the DC Principles logo on the journal website. Journal of Molecular Diagnostics - Fulltext v1+ (1999+) 1 year moving wall; ISSN: 1525-1578.
Tim Lougheed, New online medical journal challenges conventions, Canadian Medical Association Journal, October 12, 2004. On the upcoming launch of PLoS Medicine. Excerpt: "Whether this [upfront] funding model is sustainable is something PLoS intends to discover. Observers at other journals insist that the up-front charge is too low to maintain a high calibre of editing and presentation. Barbara Cohen, senior editor for PLoS, says additional revenue could come from educational grants as well as carefully defined forms of advertising, nor does she rule out increasing the author fee. 'At the moment we think that this is a figure that is reasonable,' she says. 'We will have to learn over time whether it's realistic.' Meanwhile, PloS has a US$9-million start-up grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Cohen says the online publication movement points to a need for systemic change, where science funders understand that 'the publication charge...should become an integral part of doing the research.' That change is starting to take hold. Last month, the US National Institutes of Health proposed a new policy of insisting on free Internet access for papers based on work funded by the agency, regardless of whether that work appears in a paid subscription journal. The NIH argues that public funds paid for this work, and members of the public should not have to pay to read about it." (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)
Klaus Graf has posted his notes (in German) on the Internationales Symposium für Informationswissenschaft (Chur, Switzerland, October 6-8, 2004). Thanks, Klaus, for taking the time to do this, especially for focusing on the OA issues. Again, I wish more scholars attending conferences would consider providing this useful service for interested colleagues who could not attend.
Greenhouse Associates, Can the Open-Source Model Work for Content? Greenhouse Associates, October 2004. On Wikipedia.
Greg Ross, The Bookshelf Talks with Lawrence Lessig, American Scientist (November-December 2004). American Scientist interviews Lessig on a number of OA and scientific publishing issues.
The presentations from the conference, STM Publishing - at the Crossroads? Challenges and Responses (Frankfurt, October 4-5, 2004), are now online.
Frederick J. Friend, Who protects the unprotected? INDICARE, October 10, 2004. Abstract: "Increasingly copies of journal articles and other academic content are made freely-available on the Web under an open access publication model. The benefits to readers, to authors and to society from toll-free access to research publications are being realised. Protection measures are still required to prevent abuse of authors' rights through plagiarism or unauthorised changes to the content, even though such abuse may only occur infrequently."
There are several stories about BIOS and open-source biology in the October 8 issue of the Australian Biotechnology News.
Karen Lowry Miller, Innovation Sails Free: The open-source idea is moving beyond guerrilla software, October 18, 2004. Excerpt: "[T]he basic idea of open-source design has been practiced for centuries --for example, by farmers who have crossbred crops, says Eric von Hippel, MIT's head of innovation and entrepreneurship. In the 19th century, once the patent for the steam engine expired, other inventors quickly made, and shared, long-awaited improvements. The radical success of Linux is making such freely revealed innovation (the term 'open source' really applies only to software) a hot idea again. After decades in which patents closed off the innovation process, open source has caught the attention of businesses because "it so violated accepted wisdom and [has] so clearly worked," says Yochai Benkler, a Yale scholar writing a book on the economics of peer production....Freely shared innovation is already seeping into pharmaceuticals, a field where most profits are gained from expensive patented drugs. The BioBricks project at MIT, for example, is trying to establish standardized tools and processes for basic DNA work....An open system also makes sense when the payback is too small to entice Big Pharma, as in the case of tropical diseases like malaria....The BIOS Initiative, recently launched by Cambia, an Australian nonprofit, aims to make publicly available an alternative technology to the patented method of inserting a gene into a plant. (People are free to patent any resulting discoveries.) A Web site called BioForge.net, modeled after SourceForge.net in software, will be a clearinghouse for open biology projects."
Eric Lease Morgan attended the recent Symposium on Open Access and Digital Preservation (Atlanta, October 2, 2004), took notes, and posted his notes online. Thanks, Eric! (PS: The presentations themselves are now online at the symposium web site. But for rapid orientation, Eric's notes are more useful than the presentations. In fact, they are so useful that I'm surprised that scholars attendindg conferences don't do this more often.)
Barbara Quint, Future of the NIH Open Access Policy, Information Today, October 11, 2004. Excerpt: "Hallelujah! The day of liberation has come! And only the first of many more, I would predict....Basically, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), funder of at least a quarter of the world's best medical research, will mandate that all grantees and contractors submit electronic copies of finished manuscripts for full-text release through PubMed Central, the National Library of Medicine's popular medical research site. Comments may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org through Nov. 2 [PS: recently extended to Nov. 16]....The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations helped bring this about by pushing and prodding the NIH, but (and this is important) no statutory language was needed. It only took a change in NIH procedures and the boilerplate language in its grants. So if other federal research and development funding agencies wanted to follow suit, they too might not need legislative action to make it happen....This is a tremendous breakthrough. If Congress stays interested, it could accelerate the momentum of the open access movement exponentially. Already heads of other federal information agencies are queuing up for their chance to press for open access....We've long wearied of hearing obscenely rich STM commercial publishers crying "wolf" if their annual profit increases ever dropped within waving distance of single digits. No one listens anymore. However, this time long tails and hot yellow eyes may actually have come into view. If publishers are waiting for the community of librarians to pick up pitchforks and come to their rescue, they'd do better to find some trees to climb....As information professionals, we may look back on this NIH policy change as the moment in time when open access began its final victory."
The same issue of Information Today has an article on the NIH plan by Robin Peek, The Politics of Publishing, but it's not OA.
Barbara Quint, All of OCLC’s WorldCat Heading Toward the Open Web, Information Today, October 11, 2004. Excerpt: "Excited by the 'resounding success' of the Open WorldCat pilot program, the management of OCLC, the world's largest library vendor, has decided to open the entire collection of 53.3 million items connected to 928.6 million library holdings for 'harvesting' by Google and Yahoo! Search. A letter from Jay Jordan, president and CEO of OCLC, went out to members on Oct. 8. Currently, the Open WorldCat subset database contains about 2 million records, all items held by 100 or more academic, public, or school libraries --some 12,000 libraries all told. The new upgraded Open WorldCat program will automatically include all of the 15,000-plus OCLC libraries that contribute ownership information (holdings) to WorldCat, unless the library asks to have its holdings excluded. In January 2005, Open WorldCat will officially graduate from a pilot program to a permanent 'ongoing program'; however, the database will be open for 'harvesting' to Google and Yahoo! Search as early as late November 2004."
Update. For more on this story, see the links, info, and suggestions by Gary Price and Steven Cohen on ResourceShelf.
The current Snap Poll at Information Today asks this question: "Given recent developments and all the discussion of Open Access lately, does your organization already support or plan to implement self-archiving of publications?" To vote yes/no, and leave a comment about OA, go to the IT front page and look for the poll in the lower righthand corner. You can also view the results without voting. When I looked a minute ago, the results were 71% Yes, 29% No, and all the written comments supported OA.
Alex Steffen, Averting the next plague, WorldChanging, October 6, 2004. Excerpt: "[P]ublic health experts remind us that any successful model for preventing (or at least containing) such an outbreak [a "major global epidemic"] will have a number of moving parts, many of which are now missing -- greater foreign aid for health care in the developing world, full implementation of international public health agreements and reporting infrastructures, rapid response ability, more open access to scientific information, etc."
The Indian Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health has launched a new, peer-reviewed, open-access journal, Journal of Indian Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. From the web site: "JIACAM accepts manuscripts on all aspects of child and adolescent mental health....JIACAM follows the policy of Open Access to Scientific literature. Copyright of articles belongs to the respective authors unless otherwise specified."
The ALPSP has written a response to the report of the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on STM publishing and open access. (The response is undated but was released c. October 5.) Excerpts:
The Committee's recommendations on self-archiving in institutional repositories are, in fact, in line with the policies of a growing number of publishers, as our own and other studies have shown. However, discussions will be needed about possible time delays post-publication (6 months was suggested by the US Appropriations Committee in its recommendations for research funded by the National Institutes of Health), and about what version of the article the author should be permitted to deposit.