Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, November 13, 2004

NBC story postponed

The NBC Nightly News story on the NIH OA plan was bumped from last night's broadcast by the Scott Peterson verdict. (More bad news: now the words "Scott Peterson verdict" have appeared on Open Access News.) Stay tuned.

Access to publicly-funded information

On October 28, participants at the Russian National Library conference, Information as Public Domain: Access Through Libraries (St. Petersburg, October 27-29, 2994), issued the St. Petersburg Declaration. Excerpt: '[E]nabling access to public domain information produced by public authorities should become fundamental to the national information policies of all nations striving for democracy and freedom of human development. Public authorities, as well as libraries, archives and various information services providers should assume a primary responsibility for the expansion of openness and management of information as public domain. The mainstream principle of information management should be as follows: information produced by public authorities should be deemed publicly available, and any exceptions to this rule officially banning the said access should be justified, minimized and supported by the power of law. The national information policy and its legislative and regulatory support should be based on the presumption of openness of government information.' (Thanks to Zapopan Martín Muela Meza.)

All research institutions in Denmark join BMC

BioMed Central issued this press release today: 'Denmark has made a nationwide commitment to Open Access for the biomedical research it funds. All universities, hospitals and other research institutes in Denmark became BioMed Central members in October. The membership agreement covers the cost of publication, in BioMed Central's 120 Open Access journals, for all publicly funded researchers and teachers in Denmark....Scandinavia is now leading the world in its commitment to Open Access. Denmark's decision follows an announcement last month that Norway has agreed a national membership with BioMed Central. In May 2004, Finland became the first entire country to sign up for BioMed Central membership for all of its 25000 publicly funded researchers.' (PS: We first blogged this news on 10/21/04 when ScieCom broke the story.)

Journal of Machine Learning Research - new publisher/website

Journal of Machine Learning Research (JMLR) was founded in 2001 by editors who jumped ship from the Kluwer journal, Machine Learning. [See Open Access Lists - Journal Declarations of Independence #8] A SPARC Alternative, the JMLR has been published since 2001 by MIT Press. JMLR is an Open Access title, completely free on the web. They have been supported by libraries that agreed to purchase the print version, which was priced at $400 for 2004. This new journal achieved an ISI Impact Factor of 4.317 after only three years of publication. For financial reasons, in spite of the success of the new title, MIT Press wishes to discontinue publishing the print journal. JMLR has struck a deal with a new publisher, Microtome Publishing, founded by Stuart M. Shieber (Professor of Computer Science, Harvard). The print price will be $200 in 2005 -- a reduction of 50%. Note that the web site for Journal of Machine Learning Research has changed. (Many thanks to Bob Michaelson, Northwestern University, for mentioning this development on PAMNET.)

Friday, November 12, 2004

First Springer OA article

The first SpringerLink Open Choice article is offered in the SpringerLink journal Experiments in Fluids; below is the OpenURL link using DOI. R. Fei and W. Merzkirch. Investigations of the measurement accuracy of stereo particle image velocimetry. Experiments in Fluids 37(4):559-565 October 2004. [Received: 12 November 2003 Accepted: 10 June 2004 Published online: 20 July 2004] I included the submission and processing dates to illustrate that Springer Open Choice, like other Open Access models, appears to be tapping into pent up demand for straightforward ways for authors to make their research as widely visible as possible. Fei and Merzkirch selected an appropriate venue to publisher their article a year ago. Peter Suber reported on the Open Choice initiative in the August 2004 SPARC Open Access Newsletter, roughly the point at which the article was initially published online. As Peter notes in that item, and Derk Haank reiterated at the Charleston Conference last week, subscribers can expect reductions in the subscription prices of journals proportional to the percentage of articles which are funded under the Open Choice plan within those journals. (Thanks to Dana Roth, Caltech, for the timely tip.)

NBC story on the NIH plan

NBC Nightly News has filmed a story on the NIH open-access plan, and word is that it will air tonight. It may be preempted by other stories (don't say I didn't warn you), but I recommend watching or recording the show tonight. Even if it airs, it probably won't be available online afterwards.

More on the UK government response

Bobby Pickering, Open access publishing on the decline? Information World Review, November 11, 2004. Excerpt: 'The Government response was widely seen as a victory for the big academic publishers like Blackwell, Wiley, Nature and Reed Elsevier - none of whom issued any formal statement applauding the DTI-led attack on "author-pays" publishing. However, the UK's chief open access cheerleader, BioMed Central, was quick to criticise the stance taken. "The Government's response indicates that it regards as acceptable the status quo, in which traditional publishers take ownership of publicly-funded research findings and re-sell the right of access to those findngs. This situation, however, is strongly contrary to the interests of the research community and of the public at large".' (PS: Like most other articles on the government response, this one focuses on OA journals even though the original committee report focused on OA archiving.)

Will the Canadian govt charge for access to OA content?

Jack Kapica, Ottawa's copyright plans wrongheaded, experts say, Globe and Mail, November 11, 2004. Excerpt: 'Last week, the standing committee on Canadian Heritage resubmitted its recommendations for updating the Copyright Act of 1998 and ratifying the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaty....Among other things, the committee proposes that photographers keep the rights to their work and surfers would have to pay a levy for material even if was offered free of charge. Copyright holders could also shut down websites that they claim -- even erroneously -- are violating copyright, putting the burden of proof on the website charged. Michael Geist, who holds the Canada Research chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, and Howard Knopf, a Canadian copyright lawyer and director for the Center for Intellectual Property at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, have sharply condemned the proposals. Mr. Geist blames "an amazing lobby job" by the recording industry, and Mr. Knopf calls it a "travesty [and] an exercise in hyperbole." The committee's premise is that all work on the Internet is someone's property. You can read it or listen to it, but unless there is an explicit legal notice saying the material can be used, you would not be permitted to save a copy to disk or print it out without paying a copyright collective such as Access Copyright. "This last part is crucial," says Laura Murray, a Queen's University English professor who maintains a website called "It means that the bulk of sites used in educational settings -- [open access] resources designed by museums, libraries, universities, experts of various kinds -- that are intended for educational uses may be levied," with a government agency automatically charging for the content.'

Endocrine Society urges delay on NIH plan

The Endocrine Society has issued a press release summarizing its letter to the NIH about the OA plan. Excerpt: 'The Endocrine Society today asked the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to delay implementation of its plan to enhance public access to scientific research. While The Endocrine Society supports the concept of open access, it cannot support the NIH's proposal, as it raises several concerns and questions that must be addressed before any new policy can be applied....We not only support free access to literature," writes Endocrine Society President Anthony Means, Ph.D., "we have invested our financial resources in developing and implementing definitive Web technology to accomplish this." The Society currently makes all accepted manuscripts from its four peer-reviewed journals immediately available, without charge, to the public through its Web site. All of the Society's final published content also becomes available, free-of-charge, after 12 months. The Endocrine Society's letter notes that the NIH plan duplicates existing resources; uses an untested publishing model [reply]; and leaves several unanswered questions regarding costs and measurements [reply]. The Society also conveys disappointment that in developing its plan for public access, the NIH failed to consult with established members of the scholarly publishing community [reply], many of whom have advocated for NIH funding increases in recent years. "The Endocrine Society is gravely concerned about the effect this wholesale shift in policy will have on the publishing models of the scholarly publishing community," [reply] notes the letter.'

More on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

I've blogged the fund-raising campaign of the open-access Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy before (here and here). But LIS News just posted a reminder, so I will too. SEP is a first-rate resource, a pioneer of peeer-reviewed OA, and with the help of committed readers, libraries, and other supportive institutions, can be the first OA resource supported by an endowment. Read the fund-raising web site for more details. (PS: I have no connection to the SEP except that it's in my field and I'm a regular user.)

More on the UK government response

Daniel Clery, Mixed Week for Open Access in the U.K., Science Magazine, November 12, 2004 (access limited to subscribers). Excerpt: 'Supporters of "open access" scientific publishing --in which authors pay the cost of publication and accepted papers are freely available online-- have received a public setback and a private boost in the United Kingdom in the past few days. The British government, saying it is "not obvious...that the 'author pays' business model would give better value for money than the current one," rejected recommendations from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee to fund some costs associated with open-access publishing. The committee promptly accused the government of buckling under pressure from scientific publishers. On the other hand, the Wellcome Trust --the largest funder of basic biomedical research in the United Kingdom-- threw its considerable weight behind open-access publishing. It announced that it will require researchers it funds to deposit papers in a public archive "within 6 months of publication." ' (PS: The committee report recommended mandatory OA archiving as a condition of public funding, exactly the condition that the Wellcome Trust will apply to Wellcome funding. The government response misunderstood or deemphasized this to focus on something secondary. Here Science Magazine is doing the same.)

Making the drug-trial registry system worldwide

Erika Check, WHO seeks system for tracking global clinical trials, Nature, November 11, 2004. Excerpt: 'The World Health Organization (WHO) hopes to earn international support next week for a far-reaching plan to set up a global tracking system for clinical trials. The WHO will solicit support for the tracking system at its Ministerial Summit on Health Research, to be held in Mexico City on 16–20 November. WHO officials are proposing to establish an Internet portal that will give easy access to clinical-trial registries around the world. They also want to create a unified system for assigning unique identifiers to trials.'

More on the UK government response

UK government rejects public access publishing proposal as US considers the issue, Research Research, November 11, 2004. An unsigned news story. Excerpt: 'As the US government solicits advice on its proposal to enhance public access to data from federally funded research by asking grantees to deposit results in a public archive once the work has been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals, the British government has rejected a similar proposal by a parliamentary committee to make results from publicly-supported research freely available.'

Studying the business side of OA journals

Variations on Open Access: a study of the financial and non-financial effects of alternative business models for scholarly journals, posted November 11. An overview of an important study co-sponsored by ALPSP, AAAS, and HighWire, and conducted by the Kaufman-Wills Group. Excerpt: 'The objective of the study is to determine the impact of open access on scholarly journals' financial and non-financial factors. In the first stage of the study, the researchers have surveyed two populations: [1] Full Open Access Journals. Journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. All 1,151 journals with deliverable email addresses received a questionnaire (some 200 journals in the Directory did not have deliverable email addresses). [2] Delayed Open Access Journals. Journals hosted by HighWire Press and participating in the 'DC Principles'. 184 journals received a questionnaire. The survey consisted of 33 closed-ended and 5 open-ended questions and addressed the following major categories: [1] Demographic: Including type of publisher, location of publishing offices, subject area, type of content published; [2] Financial: Including revenue models, sources of financial support, percentage of total each revenue type represents, revenue trends and expectations, current surplus or deficit; [3] Non-financial: Including print format, copyediting policy, number of internal/external peer reviews, services offered to Authors, copyright and permissions policies, pre/post-publishing rights of authors.' Also see a PPT presentation of the preliminary findings.

(PS: One of the two principal investigators on the study is my sister, Cara Kaufman. I have to say this as a disclaimer. But I hope that my own clear preference for OA does not affect Cara's well-earned reputation for objectivity. I don't have a finger in this study. She and her partner, Alma Wills, have done a superb job collecting data. Digesting the data will take more time, but the preliminary findings are already fascinating and useful. Don't take my word for it; that's the point of the disclaimer. Trust ALPSP, AAAS, and Highwire to hire a top-notch team and examine its work for yourselves.)

Another misunderstanding of the UK report recommendation

Ben Winkley, UK Govt "Unconvinced" On Open Access To Science Research, Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2004. Excerpt: 'The U.K. government said Monday it isn't convinced by a proposal to allow open access to scientific research on the Internet. The scheme, put forward in a Parliamentary Committee report entitled 'Scientific Publications: Free for All?', promotes free and unrestricted online access to science, technology and medical research. Under the system, authors pay for their articles to be published, but their research is then made available free of charge over the Internet. Currently, publishers pay authors for rights to their research, then charge subscriptions for journals." (PS: Two mistakes in a very short space: First, the proposal was for OA archiving, not publication in author-pays OA journals. Second, scholarly journals do not pay authors for their articles, and haven't done so since the first journals were launched in 1665. This is a key part of the argument for open access.)

UK govt minister responds to criticism

David Sainsbury, Open access is not only science publishing model, Financial Times, November 10, 2004 (access limited to subscribers). A letter to the editor in response to FT's editorial of November 9 criticizing the UK government response to the OA report. Sainsbury is the UK Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation, Department of Trade and Industry, and helped compose the UK government response. Excerpt from his letter: 'In your editorial on open-access publishing you seem to misunderstand both the government's position and the nature of open-access publishing. As was made very clear in our response to the Commons science committee, the government is very happy to see users of research in this country having a choice between traditional "subscriber pays" publishing and open-access publishing. That is why it is making certain that there is a level playing-field by encouraging the research councils to support scientists wanting to take the open-access route.'

(PS: Like the 11/9 editorial, this letter focuses on OA journals and ignores OA archiving, the primary recommendation of the select committee report. I'm still looking for a government response to the criticism that its reply gave primary attention to a secondary issue, and dismissed the report's primary recommendation about OA archiving with irrelevant considerations based on the economics of OA journals.)

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Society publisher to deposit all its journal articles in arXiv

The Council of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS) has decided to deposit all the articles from its four journals arXiv. Quoting from the new policy (November, 2004): 'Won't IMS lose subscriptions by placing all its journal articles on arXiv? After talking with many librarians responsible for subscription decisions (including those at U. C. Berkeley, Courant Institute, U. of Minnesota, and U. of Washington) we believe the answer to this question is not many. Librarians are telling us they want to subscribe to journals in a traditional journal structure as provided by Project Euclid, with more advanced searches than Google, and a pleasant means of browsing issues. Such facilities are not provided by arXiv. IMS plans to continue to work with Euclid to improve the quality and attractiveness of Euclid's offering, and to maintain the identity of Euclid as the primary source of IMS journal content which should be supported by institutional subscriptions....What should authors do next? If you aren't familiar with arXiv, visit arXiv and learn how to post your preprints there. Make a habit of doing so whenever you submit to a journal, and when a final version is accepted by a journal, update your preprint to incorporate changes made in the refereeing process, so a post-refereed pre-press version of your article is also available on arXiv. As far as we know, no journals in mathematics or statistics forbid posting of preprints on arXiv, though some journals in other fields of science and medicine do forbid it. For papers you are publishing with IMS, let us know if there is an arXiv version so we can update it with the published version as soon as that is available.'

At the same time the Council of the IMS agreed to submit the following paragraph to the NIH as a comment in support of its OA plan: 'IMS has recently adopted a policy of open access to its publications....IMS executives believe the public interest is well served by open access to peer-reviewed scientific publications, and that scholarly societies such as IMS can continue to flourish, with support from library and membership subscriptions, even if all of the content they publish becomes available on public digital repositories.' (Thanks to an 11/11/04 posting to the SSP list from Elyse Gustafson, Executive Director of the IMS.)

More on the UK government response

In a posting to the STLQ blog, November 9, 2004, Randy Reichardt pulls together comments from many sources (some already blogged here and some not) on the UK government response to the select committee OA report. (Thanks to George Porter.)

Three letters about OA in WSJ

There are three letters to the editor about open access in the November 10 Wall Street Journal. All three are in response to Charles Wysocki's 10/28 article, Publishers Oppose Plan for Free Access to Scientific Research, blogged 10/29. (1) Norman B. Anderson, CEO, American Psychological Association. Excerpt: 'The National Institutes for Health proposal for free access to research articles should be carefully studied for its potential effect on the quality and quantity of research and the possibility of unintended consequences.' (2) Jan Velterop, Director and Publisher of BioMed Central. Excerpt: 'While there's no doubt that traditional publishers do claim that U.S. taxpayers will ultimately pay for the NIH plan, isn't it also true that most of the current subscription income of the very same publishers ultimately also comes from taxpayers, via the many university and other publicly funded libraries?' (3) Paul Kincade, President, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Excerpt: 'Scholarly publishers oppose mandatory government-imposed rules, they have pointed out major flaws in the NIH proposal and they question a plan that would jeopardize their successful efforts to increase access in favor of an untested proposal created by people who have never successfully published a journal.' (Thanks to Carla Funk.)

FT editorial criticizes UK government response

On November 9, the Financial Times published an unsigned editorial on open access. Excerpt: 'Although the angry MPs may have gone too far in accusing the Department of Trade and Industry of kow-towing to the publishing lobby at the expense of British science, the government should not have taken such a negative stance. A more measured response would have been to adopt some of the committee's suggestions for establishing Britain as a test-bed for open access journals, with publishing and peer review costs met ultimately by the research funding agencies, while making clear that there would be no precipitate move away from the existing system....The main reason for considering a change now is that computer and communications technology make it possible, for the first time, to disseminate research results far beyond the traditional purchasers of scientific journals, such as university libraries. There is a powerful ideological argument that the public, having funded the research in the first place, should not have to pay again to see the results....Although the lukewarm attitude of the government will disappoint open access activists, the publishing industry must recognise the growing international pressure for fundamental change. The Wellcome Trust is determined to introduce open access publishing through the £400m a year it spends on biomedical research and there are powerful voices for reform in the US and elsewhere in Europe. A fair compromise might be to give journals six months exclusivity and then guarantee free public access." (Thanks to Ray English.)

(PS: This is welcome support. However, like the government response itself, it focuses on OA journals, a secondary issue in the original committee report, and ignores OA archiving, the primary recommendation of the report.)

John Wilbanks to direct Science Commons

Creative Commons has named John Wilbanks to be the first director of Science Commons. Excerpt from John Borland's story in ' "Wilbanks' addition as leader of the new Science Commons branch...marks a very exciting new phase, as the Creative Commons model is tested in uncharted areas of intellectual endeavor," Lawrence Lessig, Stanford Law School professor and organization founder, said in a statement....A posting on the group's Web site says its board of directors had been considering moving into the area of science almost since inception but that it did not initially have the "expertise or technical capacity" to enter that realm. An intellectual-property system that allows sharing between scientists is particularly important, given research grants that often make results proprietary, as well as recent international changes in patent law that expand the scope of data protection, the group said. The "commons" approach could help introduce needed flexibility, it added. "Right at the historical moment, when we have the technologies to permit worldwide availability and distributed processing of scientific data...we are busy locking up that data and slapping legal restrictions on transfer," the Creative Commons site says. "Judicious balance is needed. The tendency to claim that property rights are never the answer, or that openness always solves all problems, must be avoided." ' Science Commons will officially launch on January 1, 2005.

Two detailed critiques of the UK government response

Stevan Harnad and Fred Friend have written detailed critiques of the UK government response to the select committee report on STM publishing and open access. Stevan's was posted to the AmSci Open Access Forum on November 8. Fred's was posted to Tom Roper's blog on November 11.

More on the NIH OA plan

Judith Wilkerson, Head of Serials Services at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, has publicly released her letter to the NIH in support of its draft OA plan. Excerpt: 'Intellectual property rights need to be retained by the author. However, usage permissions need to be sufficient to allow the content to be used by others, as long as the author gets credit for the work. Publishers only need distribution permissions (not exclusive). In much of the public discussion the term "open access" is being re-defined as "free to read on the web" and that is neither adequate nor accurate....NLM should not wait on the publisher to release an article to public access. Release should be an NIH policy decision, not a publisher decision....It is a public policy mistake to delay access to the public that paid for research and the US research community, especially if content is released immediately to third world countries that could be our enemies. It is not is the best interest of the country or its citizens. Nor is it fair.'

Wellcome and NIH OA plans

Jim Giles, Trust gives warm welcome to open access, Nature, November 11, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'The Wellcome Trust, Europe's largest research charity, has become the latest grant-giving body to throw down the gauntlet to academic publishers in the debate over open-access literature. All papers reporting the results of research funded by the trust will in future have to be placed in a central public archive within six months of publication, the organization said on 4 November. The move could bring the trust into conflict with publishers, who often hold exclusive rights on the use of such material. This in turn could restrict researchers' choices about which journals they publish in....Researchers funded by Wellcome could find that the new rules create some difficult choices. Some publishing houses, such as Elsevier, which publishes more than 1,800 journals including Cell and The Lancet, do not currently allow any version of a paper they have published to be placed on a public archive other than on websites restricted to the author's research institution. "This will put publishers and researchers in a difficult position," acknowledges Robert Terry, a senior policy adviser at the trust's London headquarters. But Terry believes that journals will modify their policies to allow papers to go to central archives. He points out that the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) is considering putting similar requirements on the research that it funds (see Nature 431, 115; 2004). "It would be quite a strange [biomedical] journal that didn't include research funded by the NIH and the Wellcome Trust," he adds.' (Thanks to Helen Doyle.)

(PS: Exactly. The charge that mandated OA archiving will limit authors' freedom on where to publish will only be plausible if biomedical journals declare that they will no longer accept work based on NIH- or Wellcome-funded research. So far, many biomedical journals have criticized the OA plans, but none has chosen to opt out and limit the freedom of authors.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Another major endorsement for the NIH OA plan

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has publicly released its November 9 letter to NIH in support of its OA plan. Excerpt: 'I am writing on behalf of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to express our support for the NIH’s proposal to enhance public access to NIH research information....The AAMC represents the nation's 125 accredited medical schools, nearly 400 major teaching hospitals, more than 105,000 faculty in 94 professional and scientific societies, and the nation's 66,000 medical students and 97,000 residents. Our member institutions receive more than half of the extramural research funding awarded by the National Institutes of Health, and the scholars and physicians whom we represent substantially contribute to and rely upon the vast body of medical literature affected by this proposal....Excessively large increases in subscription rates demanded by some for-profit publishers are forcing some of our institutions, solely for economic reasons, to discontinue subscriptions, thereby curbing the availability of some specialty journals to students and faculty.' The letter closes with four recommendations for the final version of the plan.

Focus on open data at upcoming XML event

Edd Dumbill, XML, the Web, and Beyond,, November 10, 2004. The program chair for next year's XML Europe conference discuses his plans. Excerpt: 'The Open Data track will address concerns at all levels, from business and policy through to implementation, and cover topics such as open government, business models and deployment issues for public-facing web services, open access to scientific data, licensing and intellectual property concerns, blogging and personal content, and the Semantic Web.'

The Messina Declaration

Thirty-two Italian university rectors and other delegates to a recent conference (Messina, November 4-5, 2004) have released the Messina Declaration on Open Access, in Italian and English. Excerpts from the English edition:

Whereas a global dissemination of scientific knowledge has a fundamental importance for the cultural and economic progress of society; [...]

Whereas a growing number of international initiatives have identified "open access" to scholarly literature as the basic dissemination tool for cultural heritage and research output; [...]

The records and delegates present declare to agree to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, wishing that this act will represent just the first and significant contribution from Italian Universities to a broader and faster dissemination of scientific knowledge.

The group has also issued a press release, but so far only in Italian. An English version will appear shortly, but in the meantime see Susanna Mornati's SOAF posting on the event (in English). For more background, see our blog posting from November 6.

More on the UK government response

Daniel Engber, British Government Refuses to Support Open-Access Approach to Scientific Publishing, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 10, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'The British government has rejected most of the recommendations by a parliamentary committee that favors making the results of state-supported scientific research freely available....The government's response was coordinated by the Department of Trade and Industry, which one lawmaker accused of bowing to pressure from commercial publishers. "It's not worth the paper it's written on," Ian Gibson, chairman of the parliamentary committee, said of the response. "They're obviously kowtowing to the industry." The publishers welcomed the government's response. A spokesman for Reed Elsevier, the world's largest publisher of scientific journals, called it "a clear statement of support for the current market and the current system, which confirms that the publishing market is competitive and innovative." Mr. Gibson, a Labor Party member of Parliament, also contended that the government had ignored the recommendations of its own Joint Information System Committee, an advisory group, and had favored instead the arguments put forth by the Department of Trade and Industry....In a written statement, [Jan] Velterop [publisher of BioMed Central] called the government's response disappointing and surprising. "The government," he wrote, "seems to have reached conclusions very different from those reached by the scientific community." Even without official endorsement from the government, the councils that disburse public funds for research may elect to follow the parliamentary committee's suggestions. The research councils are in the process of reviewing their strategy and are expected to issue a plan in January.'

The rise of OA institutional repositories

Leslie Chan, Supporting and Enhancing Scholarship in the Digital Age: The Role of Open Access Institutional Repositories, Canadian Journal of Communication, 29 (2004) pp. 277-300. Abstract: 'Scholarly communication and publishing are increasingly taking place in the electronic environment. With a growing proportion of the scholarly record now existing only in digital format, serious and pressing issues regarding access and preservation are being raised that are central to future scholarship. At the same time, the desire of scholars to maximize readership of their research and to take control of the scholarly communication process back from the restrictive domain of commercial publishing has prompted the proliferation of access options and experimental models of publishing. This paper examines the emerging trend of university-based institutional repositories (IRs) designed to capture the scholarly output of an institution and to maximize the research impact of this output. The relationship of this trend to the open access movement is discussed and challenges and opportunities for using IRs to promote new modes of scholarship are provided.'

Open, then closed, then open

Dibya Sarkar, NRC restores Web docs, Federal Computer Week, November 10, 2004. Excerpt: 'Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials have restored various documents to the agency's Web site a week after they removed documents that were deemed a threat to national security. NRC officials took down the Agency Document Access and Management System (ADAMS) Oct. 25 after several media organizations alerted officials that some documents contained floor plans and locations of nuclear materials. NRC's policy is to remove any documents that could possibly be used by terrorists. Officials decided to take ADAMS off-line to conduct a comprehensive security review and then restore documents in phases. "Last week's initial restoration of documents was a sign of the agency's commitment to remain as open and transparent as possible in our regulatory functions," said agency spokesman David McIntyre in an e-mail message....Several watchdog groups have criticized NRC for taking ADAMS completely off-line while officials scrubbed the site of sensitive documents. They support NRC officials' decision to remove some documents that could pose a risk but said completely taking down the site was a public disservice.' (Thanks to Patrice McDermott.)

Ejournals with RSS feeds

The University of Saskatchewan Library maintains a directory of ejournals with RSS feeds. (Thanks to ResearchBuzz.)

The patients' voice on the NIH OA plan

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access will hold a press briefing tomorrow (11/11) in Washington DC to present the patients' voice on the NIH OA plan. From today's press release: "Patient advocates and public interest groups are increasingly concerned that their voices are being left out of this critical dialogue between government and giant publishing interests at the sacrifice of legitimate citizen input, public health priorities and the urgency to advance the discoveries of biomedical research. This briefing will highlight the stories, concerns and needs of patient advocates and public interest groups in this important science dialogue." Sharon Terry of the Genetic Alliance, Pat Furlong of the Parent Access Project for Muscular Dystrophy, and Rick Johnson of SPARC will speak at the briefing.

Biomolecular simulations resource

Kaihsu Tai et al, BioSimGrid: towards a worldwide repository for biomolecular simulations , Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry 2, 3219 (2004) (Access restricted to subscribers.) Abstract: "BioSimGrid is a database for biomolecular simulations, or, a 'Protein Data Bank' extended in time for molecular dynamics trajectories. We describe the implementation details: architecture, data schema, deposition, and analysis modules. We encourage the simulation community to explore BioSimGrid and work towards a common trajectory exchange format."

Milestone for NJP

The open-access New Journal of Physics has published its 500th article. Excerpt from today's press release: "This milestone marks a culmination of continued editorial growth for NJP. Since 2001 the journal size has increased by more than 700% and with a readership now extending to over 130 countries, NJP has proved able to achieve wide and effective dissemination of its high quality content. Every NJP paper is downloaded hundreds of times within weeks of publication and to date there have been more than 330,000 article downloads. The official 2003 ISI Impact Factor for the journal is 2.48." (PS: This is an OA success story worth celebrating. NJP has been OA for six years --not as long as many successful non-OA journals, of course, but long enough to answer doubts about the underlying business model. NJP is published by the Institute of Physics and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

OA conference reports

Walt Crawford wants to edit and publish a series of open-access conference reports. Starting in January 2005, he'll publish signed, first-person accounts of "discussions and programs that relate to the broad foci of [Crawford's newsletter,] Cites & Insights: The intersections of libraries, policy, technology and media --and the people they serve." All the pieces in this series will be issued under Creative commons licenses. For more details see the December issue of Cites & Insights (pp. 1-3). Since conferences about OA fall within his ambit, consider sending him your narratives.

Elsevier buys bioinformatics firm, has plans for public-domain genome data

Reed Elsevier has purchased Inpharmatica, a British bioinformatics firm. Before you conclude that Elsevier is diversifying, perhaps as a hedge against losses in STM publishing, consider how it is explaining the new purchase publicly. Excerpt from David Finn's story in today's Financial Times: 'Kevin Brown, partner in Reed Elsevier Ventures, said Inpharmatica's bioinformatics was one of the "disruptive technologies" that could revolutionise the life science publishing industry. "This is 21st century publishing. We see it as the next generation in harnessing all the public-domain information post the Human Genome Project with what the pharmaceutical industry has within its firewall and the software to harness it all," he said.'

JISC speaks on the UK report and the government response

After reading the UK government response to the July report on STM publishing and open access, the MP's who wrote the report charged that the government ignored or even "neutralised" the expert advice from JISC. In that light, it's significant that JISC has now issued a press release, JISC Reaffirms Commitment to Open Access Publishing (November 8, 2004). Excerpt: "JISC's support for and commitment to open access publishing is well-known....[The JISC OA projects] have shown the enormous potential of open access publishing to bring about significant gains in terms of value for money for educational and research institutions and to allow the fruits of research to be made available to all who want and need to access them. JISC reaffirms its commitment to continue to evaluate its work in this and other areas and to ensure that the results are disseminated widely. In its response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report Scientific Publications: Free for All? the Government recognises the complexities of this ongoing debate. JISC welcomes the opportunity to contribute to this debate, through the continued development of open access models of publishing and of institutional repositories, and looks forward to working both with the Select Committee, the Government and all its key partners in ensuring that JISC continues to serve the needs of the education and research communities in the UK." The press release also links to JISC's full response to the original report.

More on the UK government response

UK government accused of 'kowtowing' to industry in scientific publications debate, CORDIS News, November 9, 2004. An unsigned news story. Excerpt: "The UK Parliament's Select Committee on Science and Technology has castigated the government for what it describes as an 'unhealthy collusion' with the publishing industry in the debate over free access to scientific research results....In its original report, the committee of MPs recommended that the government should support the creation of a national system of institutional repositories, in which higher education institutes could store their published output and thus facilitate access to it. It also asked the government to investigate the impact of introducing an 'author-pays' model of scientific publication, whereby researchers or their funders pay to publish their results in a journal, which is then made freely accessible to all....On the question of institutional repositories, although the government 'recognises the potential benefits of institutional repositories and sees them as a significant development worthy of encouragement', it says that 'each institution has to make its own decision about institutional repositories depending on individual circumstances.' Yet MPs argue that: 'By abdicating responsibility for implementing institutional repositories at a national level, the government severely limits the benefits that such repositories can yield for access to scientific publications.'...The chair of the Select Committee, Labour MP Dr Ian Gibson, said: 'The government is just supporting the industry. There is a collusion going on somewhere which is unhealthy. The DTI is apparently more interested in kowtowing to the powerful publishing lobby than it is in looking after the best interests of British science. This isn't evidence-based policy, it's policy-based evidence.' "

More on the embargo lawsuit

Robert O'Neil, Illegal Trafficking in Arms, Drugs, and International Scholarship, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 12, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "Most American scholars remain blissfully ignorant of the risks of international collaboration. Yet simply publishing in the United States an article co-written by a colleague from Cuba, Iran, or Sudan could subject the editor or publisher to criminal liability and fines of up to $500,000 or 10 years in prison. Such is the official interpretation of a ban that derives from the Trading with the Enemy and International Emergency Economic Powers Acts. What was not envisioned at that time was the bizarre extension of the export embargo by the agency charged with its interpretation and enforcement, the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, known as OFAC. That office has ruled that revising a piece for publication or enhancing it with notes or illustrations from any of the embargoed nations could, by being interpreted as the export of a forbidden commodity, violate the law. That ruling has now become the focus of a federal court suit, filed in late September by Arcade Publishing, the Association of American Publishers, the Association of American University Presses, and the PEN American Center, whose members have chafed under OFAC's draconian decree."

Library groups endorse Geneva Declaration

Four major library associations --the AALL, ALA, ARL, and SLA-- have endorsed the Geneva Declaration. From their press release (September 27, 2004): "In recent years, our library organizations have been concerned about a number of trends that have combined to limit access to knowledge. These include, among others: [1] the lengthening of the copyright term which substantially delays works from entering the public domain; [2] the development of legal protections for technological protection devices without consideration of whether the circumvention of such a measure would be done for a lawful purpose; and, [3] the efforts to develop new protections for databases containing facts and other public domain material. Our organizations believe that these recent efforts to expand intellectual property rights have gone too far and must be brought back into balance. The development of a new agenda will give WIPO the opportunity to take a leadership role in re-crafting the necessary balance. In doing so, we urge WIPO to affirmatively seek to balance the rights of creators with the rights of users. This may call for the rollback of recent expanded protections or the development of new user rights to counterbalance them. We also urge WIPO to deal creatively with the issues raised by digital technology to provide appropriate levels of protection while also supporting the rights of users to effectively use the new technologies."

Organizations that support or plan to support self-archiving

The current "snap poll" on the front page of Information Today (bottom of righthand sidebar) asks this question: "Given recent developments and all the discussion of Open Access lately (read more), does your organization already support or plan to implement self-archiving of publications?" When I checked just now, the tally was 69% yes, 31% no.

More on the UK government response

Stephen Pincock, UK setback for open access, The Scientist, November 9, 2004. Excerpt: "The British government has largely rejected the advice of a parliamentary committee that had urged it to support more open access to scientific research, saying on Monday (November 8) that it has no plans to require researchers to deposit copies of their publications in free-access repositories....The committee members immediately labeled the government's response as obstructive and questioned whether the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which compiled the document, had watered down the views of other government departments and bodies....A spokesman for the DTI told The Scientist that the department was surprised by the statements from the Select Committee. "We submitted a response to their report in the normal way and consulted all the relevant people in government," he said. "JISC and other bodies saw a final draft of the response and as far as we were aware were content with it."...[Stevan] Harnad agreed with the committee's assessment, saying that "the government has declined to implement the select committee's recommendations because they have been persuaded by DTI (who were persuaded by the publisher lobby) that the report recommends mandating OA (author-pays) publishing, whereas it does no such thing: it recommends mandating institutional self-archiving of UK-funded research publications (articles)."...A spokesman for RCUK confirmed that the government's response did not prevent the research councils from implementing the recommendations if they so chose. But a decision on the matter may be some time off, he told The Scientist, as RCUK is in the process of formulating its position on open access and probably won't be finished doing so until some time in early 2005."

More on the NIH plan

Lou Pray, The NIH open-access proposal, LANL Research Library Newsletter, November 2004. An overview of the plan, borrowing from my FAQ. Excerpt: "The LANL Research Library is supportive of the Open Access movement and wants to know what LANL scientists think. Could this work?...We welcome your opinions on this controversial topic." (PS: I wish the note had relied on my FAQ even more. Currently the note gives the impression that the NIH is requiring publication in "essentially author-funded journals" and will do some, but not all, of the peer review. Both are untrue. The plan is about OA archiving through PubMed Central, not OA journals. It leaves authors free to publish in the journals of their choice. NIH will not do any of the peer review; it will simply host copies of articles published by peer-reviewed journals.)

OA to biodiversity info through the Conservation Commons

On November 20, the third IUCN World Conservation Congress (Bangkok, November 17-25) will adopt the Conservation Commons Statement of Principles. Excerpt: "The Conservation Commons is first and foremost an idea. It is the expression of a collaborative effort of the conservation community to improve open access to, and unrestricted use of, data, information, and knowledge related to the conservation of biodiversity with the belief that this will contribute to improving conservation outcomes. At its simplest, it encourages organizations and individuals alike to place documents, data, and other information resources related to conservation in the public domain....[O]pen access to, sharing, and use of biodiversity data, information, and knowledge resources by all sectors of society concerned with the conservation of biodiversity is essential both to empower them and to enable effective decision making....[G]lobal inequities directly restrict access to data, information and knowledge for many of the world’s people, with adverse impacts on the conservation of biodiversity....The Conservation Commons promotes free and open access to data, information and knowledge for conservation purposes." (Thanks to Donat Agosti.)

Open science in the face of copyrights and patents

Paul A. David, Can 'open science' be protected from the evolving regime of IPR protections? Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, 160, 1 (2004) pp. 9-34. Abstract: "Increasing access charges and transactions costs arising from monopoly rights in data and information adversely affect the conduct of science, especially exploratory research programs. The latter are critical for the sustained growth of knowledge-driven economies, and are most efficiently pursued in the 'open science' mode. In some fields, informal cooperative norms for timely sharing of access to raw data-steams and documented database resources are being undermined by legal institutional innovations that accommodate the further privatizing of the public domain in information. A variety of corrective measures are needed to restore proper balance to the IPR regime." (Thanks to Donat Agosti.)

More on the UK government response

Richard Wray, Confused decision on science publishing, The Guardian, November 9, 2004. Excerpt: "The government yesterday threw away an opportunity to carry out a thorough review of the way scientific research is disseminated. Instead of engaging constructively with the Commons science and technology committee and assessing the potential impact of moves towards "open access" to research, the government - led by the department of trade and industry - sided with the traditional subscriptions-based journal publishers....The government is, of course, within its rights to ignore select committees, but it could at least have properly read the report compiled by chairman Dr Ian Gibson and his colleagues in July. As the committee said yesterday, "Even when taken on its own, the government response is clearly unsatisfactory. It fails to reply to the substance of some arguments and appears to misinterpret others." In short, the government's response seems to have been based on a non sequitur....The select committee's main recommendation was for public funders of research to mandate their researchers to archive their articles on the web. It also wanted government funding for a central body to co-ordinate a network of institutional repositories, which, potentially, would have opened up scientific research to all. In its response yesterday the government dismissed both roads to open access [OA journals and OA archiving]. But the rationale for dismissing self-archiving was based purely on arguments against author-pays publishing; traditional publishers had lobbied hard against the author-pays model." (PS: As I read the original report and the government response, Wray's analysis is exactly right.)

More on the Gone With The Wind case

Victoria Shannon, One Internet, many copyright laws,, November 8, 2004. Excerpt: "Earlier this year, the Australian affiliate of Project Gutenberg posted the 1936 novel Gone with the Wind on its Web site for downloading at no charge. After an e-mail message was sent to the site last week by the law firm representing the estate of the book's author, Margaret Mitchell, the hyperlink to the text turned into a 'Page Not Found' dead end, At issue is the date when Gone with the Wind enters the public domain. In the United States, under an extension of copyright law, Gone with the Wind will not enter the public domain until 2031, 95 years after its original publication. But in Australia, as in a handful of other places, the book was free of copyright restrictions in 1999, 50 years after Mitchell's death. The case is one more example of the Internet's inherent lack of respect for national borders or, from another view, the world's lack of reckoning for the international nature of the Internet." (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

More on the UK government response

Shaoni Bhattacharya, UK government 'obstructing' open-access publishing, NewScientist, November 8, 2004. Excerpt: "The government’s response dismisses some of the open-access models the committee proposed it should back. 'The government's approach is to facilitate a level playing field so that the market can develop without any institutional barriers being put in the way of any particular publishing model,' it says....Jan Velterop, publisher and director, of open-access publishers BioMed Central, says he was disappointed and surprised at the government's response. 'The playing field is so unbelievably tilted, I can't see how saying it's all hunky-dory can make it level,' he told New Scientist. He believes that by not favouring even the possibility of open-access publishing, the government is severely skewing the field in favour of traditional publishers....However, representatives of the UK traditional scientific publishing industry welcomed the government's response. Traditional publishing models 'are competitive, transparent and efficient, with a strong record of both investment and innovation,' says Graham Taylor, a spokesman for the UK Publishers Association. 'They serve the research and academic communities and the British public well.'...The committee's original report stresses that 'a government strategy is urgently needed'. But the government's response states: 'The government is not aware that there are major problems in accessing scientific information, or that there is a large unsatisfied demand for this.' "

More on the UK government response to the OA report

The full text of the government response is now online (in HTML or PDF). Although it was released to the public yesterday, it is dated November 1. This lengthy document (71 pp. in the PDF ed.) contains the reply from the Science and Technology Committee to the government response, followed in Appendix 1 by the government response itself and, in Appendix 2, by five separate responses to the report from other government agencies (OFT, CURL and SCONUL, SHERPA, RCUK, and JISC).

Monday, November 08, 2004

UK government response to OA report

Today the UK government issued its response to the report on STM publishing and open access issued in July by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. The government response, prepared by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), was distinctly negative. I haven't yet seen the text, and it isn't yet online. I'll link to it as soon as I can, but in the meantime you can infer something about it from the anger of the MP's who drafted the report.

See Richard Wray, Government 'obstructs science access', The Guardian, November 8, 2004. Excerpt: "A committee of MPs has blasted as "obstructive" the government's response to its recent call for scientific research to be made more freely available to the general public....MPs on the committee believe the Department of Trade and Industry - which compiled the government response published today - has clearly tried to 'neutralise' the views put forward during hearings over the summer by other departments and academic experts. The committee chairman, Ian Gibson, said: 'The DTI is apparently more interested in kowtowing to the powerful publishing lobby than it is in looking after the best interests of British science.' The committee believes that a 'very positive' response to the committee's report, published in July by the joint information systems committee (JISC), an expert advisory body funded indirectly by the Department for Education and Skills, was 'watered down' following negotiations with the DTI."

Also see Saeed Shah, Anger as ministers block science publishing shake-up, The Independent, November 8, 2004. Excerpt: "A powerful committee of MPs will accuse the Government today of suppressing the views of its own advisers and "kowtowing" to the interests of the publishing industry by blocking a new system that would make the results of scientific research freely available....In a highly unusual move, MPs on the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee allege that the Government interfered with the work of its own experts, who sit on an independent body called the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and were initially positive about the new 'open access' publishing model....Ian Gibson, chairman of the committee, said he was 'pretty angry' and vowed that 'all hell will be let loose' when Parliament gets a chance to debate the matter. 'This is a really serious political battle. It is between what's best for the [publishing] industry and what's best for the public,' he said....The DTI told the science committee: 'In a market in which different organisations are competing to provide services to the academic community, the Government does not think it should intervene to support one model or another. The Government is also not convinced that the 'author-pays' model is inherently superior to the current model. Consequently, the Government's approach is to facilitate a level playing field so the market can develop without any institutional barriers being put in the way of any particular publishing model.'...Dr Gibson said: 'The Government is just supporting the industry. There is a collusion going on somewhere which is unhealthy. The publishers are very successful. They make money at the expense of public organisations such as libraries. The DTI is apparently more interested in kowtowing to the powerful publishing lobby than it is in looking after the best interests of British science. This isn't evidence-based policy, it's policy-based evidence.' "

(PS: I'll post updates as I can. However, I'm at a conference all day today and may not be able to catch up until tomorrow.)