Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, November 26, 2004

More on Google Scholar

Catherine Brahic, Google launches free search engine for academic texts, SciDev.Net, November 24, 2004. Excerpt: 'The service has received mixed reviews from the academic community. Their main hesitation reflects Google's unwillingness to reveal who participated in the search engine's development. Duane Webster, head of the Association of Research Libraries told The Scientist there were concerns over this lack of information and with "Google's unwillingness to describe how it defines what is scholarly". Some proponents of the open access movement, which supports making all academic literature free to access online, have suggested that the service might better serve the community if it were to scan open access literature only. However, David Spurrett, a researcher at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, points out that his first concern is to find out what literature exists on a given topic. Only once he knows this, does he worry about which papers he can and cannot get hold of.' (PS: One correction. I haven't heard any proponents of OA wish that GS would only index OA content. But I have heard several wish that GS would either label the OA content or let users apply a filter to display only OA content. There's a big difference.)

What Google Scholar is still missing

Jay Bhatt enumerates eight omissions from Google Scholar in an ELDNET posting. (Thanks Randy at STLQ.)

The need for OA encyclopedias

Chris Blackall makes the case for open-access encyclopedias in a November 26 posting to Digital Encyclopedia.

OA journals debated in the Financial Times

Matthew Cockerill and John Enderby, Internet upstarts v traditional publishers, Financial Times, November 25, 2004. Two arguments, pro and con on OA.

Quoting from Matthew Cockerill: 'In the UK alone, billions of pounds of tax-payers’ money are spent annually on research, so the government might be expected to take a prudent interest in how the resulting journal articles are published, archived and made accessible. Surprisingly, though, copyright to publicly funded research articles is routinely signed over to publishers, who then sell limited, subscription-based access back to the scientific community. The cost of publishing a scientific research article is a tiny fraction of what it costs to do the research in the first place; yet publishers end up controlling access to the findings....A recent UK parliamentary committee report urged the government to help expand access to the results of research. But the government response was cautious and sceptical, and was concerned primarily with defending the interests of the traditional publishing industry. This has been perceived by some as a blow to the "open access" movement, but in fact open access, in the UK at least, has never been stronger....Similarly, open access publishing will not sound the death knell for scientific societies that publish traditional journals. In fact, far-sighted societies, including the National Academy of Sciences in the US, recognise that open access better serves their members' needs and are moving their funding model away from dependence on surpluses from journal publishing. If a scientific society is genuinely serving its members’ needs, there is no reason why such a transition should be problematic.' Matthew Cockerill is technical director and co-founder of BioMed Central.

Quoting from John Enderby: 'There is no reason why current publishing practices, which cover costs through library subscriptions, cannot be adapted and developed to fulfil these open access aims. Many journals, including those of the Royal Society, are already adapting and others will follow suit. The open access movement has put added pressure on journals to examine current practices, and that input is welcome in influencing developments. But this is only part of a more fundamental, long-running approach in which good publishers are responsive to the changing needs of authors, readers and librarians....Learned societies, including the Royal Society, rely on revenues from publishing to fund activities that benefit science, such as funding researchers and undertaking science communication programmes....For wider public access around the world it is possible to maintain free online archives and the Royal Society, along with many others, makes its papers free after 12 months. If the content of papers is of significant public interest it can be made available free of charge on publication.' John Enderby is vice-president of the Royal Society.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Amazon linking to cited books

Amazon has started linking to cited books. T.J. Sondermann points us to the example of David Weinberger's Small Pieces Loosely Joined. When you look at Amazon's page on the book, you see that Weinberger cites 14 other books. Amazon lists the 14 and links to the Amazon pages on each. When the cited book participates in Amazon's Search Inside the Book program, then Amazon also links to the individual pages containing the citations. (PS: It's curious that this useful service appeared just a few days after the launch of Google Search, which points users to citing --not cited-- works. But it's unlikely that Amazon could have put this together in just the last week. However, now that both services exist, let's see whether competitive pressure nudges Amazon to go beyond cited books to citing books, and Google to go beyond citing works to cited works.)

NIH summaries of two stakeholder meetings

The NIH has released its own summaries of two of the stakeholder meetings that preceeded the September 3 release of its draft plan. One is the August 30 meeting with "scientific community representatives" and the other is the August 31 meeting with "public interest community representatives".

Google Scholar and Google Print

Daniel Terdiman, A Tool for Scholars Who Like to Dig Deep, New York Times, November 25, 2004. Excerpt: '"For scholars and researchers of every stripe, [Google Scholar] will be enormously helpful to be able to sit at their kitchen tables with a regular Internet connection and get access to papers we formerly found only by trudging to a university library," said Emily Shurr, a Duke University instructor in leadership training. "It could be a huge timesaver, and it could force us researchers and scholars to refine our craft." One side effect of Google Scholar is that academics may realize they have been missing out on a lot of potential resources. "It's going to be interesting, because we're trying to explain to our faculty that the price of scholarly journals is just skyrocketing," said Daniel Greenstein, the librarian for the California Digital Library ( of the University of California. "As they go to Google Scholar, they're going to find a bunch of stuff we don't have access to, and I think that could end up creating a degree of frustration that could reflect badly on the publishers." To Anurag Acharya, the engineer who designed Google Scholar, that is a Pandora's box well worth opening. "The way I look at it, our goal is to allow researchers to at least find that the content exists," Mr. Acharya said. "Not knowing about a paper that is relevant to your work is much worse than actually knowing it exists but not being able to get to it immediately."...And Laura Driussi, the assistant marketing director at the University of California Press, said Google Scholar may hint at the promise of a potential gold mine: the linking of Google Scholar to Google Print (, a service that makes it possible to search the entire texts of tens of thousands of books. "If you searched for one of our books on Google Scholar, you'll only see the citation, because the books aren't online," she said. "But we do have 1,500 books on Google Print, and they could make that information available to Google Scholar." '

More on Google Scholar

Google Scholar Offers Access to Scholarly Publications Metadata, and Librarians Take Note, an unsigned news stroy from Library Journal, November 29, 2004. Excerpt: 'Google has announced plans to work with academic publishers to release Google Scholar. The partnership will offer access to the metadata of scholarly publications, including those documents currently held behind subscription paywalls and not previously spidered by the company....A specific list of publishers allowing their work to be indexed was unavailable at press time. The service does take advantage of OCLC's Open WorldCat, which puts library catalogs in front of Google spiders, as well as the linking service CrossRef, which earlier this year pioneered a Google search project with 29 academic publishers including Blackwell's and Springer and a number of university presses....Since the launch announcement, librarians have been buzzing about what Google Scholar will mean to both their profession and the academic enterprise. Gary Price, a librarian, writer, and editor who edits the popular "ResourceShelf" weblog, emphasizes a vital but often overlooked component: marketing library resources and services. The discussion, he noted, is not about Google-bashing, but about looking at Google's success and learning from it. The librarian's challenge: to find ways to get users to use these library resources as instinctively as they now use Google. "Otherwise, what are we spending all this money on?" he asked.'

11 African journals to be free online

The African e-Journals Project is digitizing the back runs of 11 journals for free online access starting in 2005. The files will be hosted by Michigan State University.

Conference proceedings on institutional repositories

The presentations from the conference, Institutional Repositories: The Next Stage (Washington, D.C., November 18-19, 2004), are now online.

Conference proceedings on chemistry journals

The presentations from the conference, Are Chemical Journals Too expensive and Inaccessible? (Washington, D.C., October 25-26, 2004), are now online. (Thanks to David Rasmussen.)

OA in Germany

Hans-Joachim Wätjen, Open Access in Deutschland - Sturm im Wasserglas oder ein Weg aus der Informationskrise? A PPT presentation from InetBib 2004 (Bonn, November 3-5, 2004.) (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Conference presentations now online

The presentations from the symposium, Spreading the word: who profits from scientific publishing? --a session within the larger Euroscience Open Forum 2004 (Stockholm, August 25-28, 2004)-- are now online. (Thanks to Helene Bosc.)


Mary Youngkin, Access Marries Archive: BioMed Central/PubMed Central: An Open Access Partnership, Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries, November 23, 2004. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'BioMed Central, an independent publisher, and PubMed Central, the U.S. National Library of Medicine's digital archive of life sciences journal literature, have formed a partnership to provide secure open access to the full text of peer-reviewed scientific journals. BioMed Central's model of pay-to-publish vs. subscription is controversial, but offers promise in a movement away from expensive institutional subscriptions, copyright release, and restricted access. Librarians can contribute to this Open Access movement by becoming educated on the issues and by advocating for change at their institutions.'

Preserving institutional repository content in Australia

The Australian government has launched the Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories. From the web site: 'The APSR Project aims to establish a centre of excellence for the management of of scholarly assets in digital format. It has an overall focus on the critical issues of the access continuity and the sustainability of digital collections. It will build on a base of demonstrators for digital continuity and sustainability, embedded in developmental repository facilities within partner institutions. It will contribute to national strength in this area by encouraging the development of skills and expertise and providing coordination throughout the sector. It will actively provide international linkages and national services.'

More on Google Scholar

Web cheats get online for Google Scholar, Freelance UK, November 24, 2004. Excerpt: 'While this aspect of the service [sorting by citations] has been embraced by users, academics in particular have expressed concern about a 'copy and paste' culture, emerging in the wake of Google Scholar. They say the accuracy and speed of the search engine could lead to a rise in how much information in essays is simply lifted from online sources. According to the Plagiarism Advisory Service (PAS), a quarter of students have cheated by lifting material off the web and passing it off as their own. The group already provides universities with special software to detect rogue students, which it said it would keep on using as a more powerful alternative to Google. The Scholar search is a website that other academics argue should be welcomed, and if used properly - could actually aid the fight against conscious plagiarists. They argue that if Google is used correctly, it could well deliver quick and reliable information for students and academics alike, without leading to an increase in internet lifting. This is because students, who currently seem undeterred by plagiarism laws, would in the future be more cautious about their sources given the advances of Web searching.'

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Charleston presentations online

The presentations from the 24th Annual Charleston Conference, All the World's A Serial (Charleston, November 3-6, 2004), are now online. (PS: I hear from participants that David Goodman deserves kudos for arranging the strong OA presence at the conference. Thanks, David!)

More on Google Scholar

Google Now Targets Premium Content, Greenhouse Associates, November 2004. Excerpt: 'With its recent launch of Google Scholar, a search service covering academic content, such as peer-reviewed books, articles, papers, theses, preprints, abstracts and technical reports, Google made one of the most significant moves in its history. Moving beyond searches of the free web, Google has put itself squarely in the premium content world, an arena heretofore dominated by high-priced aggregators and secondary publishers whose mission has been helping users discover the existence of original content....Google offers academic publishers, societies, universities, and other content providers a potentially enormous channel for making their content more discoverable, while keeping them solidly in control of their own content and advertising.'

Indian biomedical repository announced

In January 2005, the Indian MEDLARS Centre in New Delhi will launch IndMED, an open-access, OAI-compliant repository for biomedical research. It will host not only Indian research, but research from any scientists around the world who do not have local institutional repositories. The MEDLARS Centre and the new repository are funded by the government of India. (Thanks to Naina Pandita on the AmSci OA list.)

More on Google Scholar

Doug Payne, Google Scholar Welcomed, The Scientist, November 23, 2004. Excerpt: 'Open-access publisher BioMed Central (which is a partner with The Scientist) also welcomed the new service. BioMed Central Publisher Jan Velterop said in a statement that the tool maximizes the opportunities offered by Open Access journals and open repositories. "We, along with others in the scientific community, have been talking to Google about offering a service like this for some time. We are very pleased that they have taken this step," Velterop said. However, Michael Eisen, co-founder of another open-access publisher, Public Library of Science (PLoS), pointed out that people using the service will face an important obstacle—many of the articles are only available to journal subscribers. "While Google may have the noble goal of making 'the world's scientific literature universally accessible,' the fact remains that most of the articles returned in a Google Scholar search can only be accessed by those fortunate enough to have a subscription to the relevant journal," he told The Scientist. A PloS spokeswoman added: "Google will find that they can better serve their searchers' needs for access to complete scholarly articles by 'flagging' as open access or ranking more highly those that are freely available online. Such a system would minimize people's frustration at finding an article that looks perfect for their research needs but discovering that they are unable to access it. This frustration is already quite evident in the various threaded discussions occurring online." '

More on Google Scholar

Javier Hernandez, Google Offers Journal Searches, Harvard Crimson, November 23, 2004. Excerpt: 'Cheryl M. LaGuardia, head of instructional services for Harvard College libraries and an avid Google user, said that Scholar has the potential for success, but she sees some limitations....LaGuardia said current library resources, like JSTOR (a subscription service to which University affiliates are granted access), give users access to a wide range of free [PS: that is, pre-paid] articles that users of Google Search have to pay for....LaGuardia said she is looking towards a tool called CrossRef to blend the ease of Google with existing library systems. The utility is being developed by Google in conjunction with 29 major academic publishers. "It will be the nexus between Google and scholarship," she said.'

A blog of Google Scholar news

T.J. Sondermann has launched a blog devoted to Google Scholar.

Monday, November 22, 2004

DOI's for scientific data

Norman Paskin, Digital Object Identifiers for scientific data, a presentation at the 19th International CODATA Conference, The Information Society: New Horizons for Science (Berlin, November 7-10, 2004). From the abstract: 'The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a system for identifying content objects in the digital environment. DOIs are names assigned to any entity for use on Internet digital networks. Scientific data sets may be identified by DOIs, and several efforts are now underway in this area. This paper outlines the underlying architecture of the DOI system, and two such efforts which are applying DOIs to content objects of scientific data. DOIs provide persistent identification together with current information about the object....DOIs can be used for any form of management of data, whether commercial or non-commercial.'

ATA comment on the NIH plan

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has publicly released its comment in support of the NIH plan. (It was public on listservs several days ago but just appeared on the ATA web site.) Excerpt: 'The alliance is composed of universities, libraries, voluntary health agencies, and other entities seeking the benefits of greater access to research results. We believe American taxpayers are entitled to open access to the peer-reviewed scientific articles on research funded by the NIH. Open access to these reports will lead to usage by millions and will deliver an accelerated return on the taxpayers' investment in NIH. Widespread dissemination of these reports is an essential, inseparable component of our nation's investment in science....Those whose access is impeded include research scientists at institutions that cannot afford increasingly costly journal subscription and licensing fees, practicing physicians without university affiliations, public health officials, hospital staff, non-profit patient and disease advocacy organizations, and individual patients and their families. Today's constraints on access hinder the flow of knowledge and pace of discovery, and ultimately subvert the public's investment in science.'

EEVL access to free online journals

Gary Price, An Exceptionally "EEVL" Search Resource, SearchDay, November 22, 2004. Excerpt: 'One of the most respected engineering gateways on the web has just released four new databases providing free access to hundreds of online scientific and technical journals. I've written several SearchDay articles about the Resource Discovery Network (here, here and here). The RDN is an amazing set of non-commercial subject directories and other tools) including EEVL a subject gateway where the focus is on engineering, mathematics, and computing. If you've never visited EEVL and the other RDN sites, you should. EEVL has now launched four new subject-focused databases that provide free access to a couple of hundred ejournals in several disciplines. The computing database searches the content of 60 freely available full-text ejournals in computing. The math database searches the content of 28 freely available full-text ejournals in mathematics. The engineering database searches the content of 160 freely available full-text ejournals in engineering. The last one is a metasearch of the three databases described above.'

Congress approves the NIH public access plan

The House-Senate conference committee has approved the NIH public access plan. Here's the official language, quoted in an ARL/SPARC press release:

The conferees are aware of the draft NIH policy on increasing public access to NIH-funded research. Under this policy, NIH would request investigators to voluntarily submit electronically the final, peer reviewed author's copy of their scientific manuscripts; six months after the publisher's date of publication, NIH would make this copy publicly available through PubMed Central. The policy is intended to help ensure the permanent preservation of NIH-funded research and make it more readily accessible to scientists, physicians, and the public.

The conferees note the comment period for the draft policy ended November 16th; NIH is directed to give full and fair consideration to all comments before publishing its final policy. The conferees request NIH to provide the estimated costs of implementing this policy each year in its annual Justification of Estimates to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. In addition, the conferees direct NIH to continue to work with the publishers of scientific journals to maintain the integrity of the peer review system."

(PS: Congress has spoken and NIH is cleared to go. NIH may revise the draft text of of its plan in light of the public comments it received. But after that, it can begin to implement the new policy. There were many steps in the process before this one, but this is the step that took us from proposal to approval. Thanks to the House Appropriations Committee and the NIH for getting the ball rolling. Thanks to the members of the House-Senate conference commmittee for resisting the intense lobbying campaign from publishers. And thanks to all of you who sent commments to your Congressional delegation and the NIH.)

Slashdot discussion of open-source bioloty

There is now a Slashdot discussion of the Biological Innovation for Open Society (BIOS) initiative, a.k.a. open-source biology.

New detail on Google Scholar

Barbara Quint, Google Scholar Focuses on Research-Quality Content, Information Today, November 22, 2004. Excerpt: 'While not removing any sites from the main Google service, Google Scholar enables specific searches of scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, pre-prints, abstracts, and technical reports. Content includes a range of publishers and aggregators with whom Google already has standing arrangements, e.g., the Association for Computing Machinery, IEEE, OCLC's Open WorldCat library locator service, etc. Result displays will show different version clusters, citation analysis, and library location (currently books only). Although claiming coverage "from all broad areas of research," early evaluation seems to show a clear emphasis on science and technology, rather than the arts, humanities, or social sciences. Anurag Acharya, principal engineer for Google Scholar, stated that the goal of the service was to "make it easier to find content, open access or not."...When asked about OAIster specifically, Acharya regretted that OAIster "doesn't give us all the information we need. Its metadata is often incomplete. It's not OAIster's fault. They do a wonderful job, but the data providers do not always provide full information...[I]t remains a data source under consideration."...Google does insist that, to participate in Google Scholar, sites must provide access for non-subscribers to bibliographic citations and abstracts....Acharya admitted that [quality filtering] was "a tricky issue in general, but quality will reflect naturally in the way things are ranked. We do not decide what is scholarship and what is not scholarship, but if something is not as important, it will not get as good a ranking on the corpus. Good material will gradually bubble up."...Acharya said: "We try to identify multiple versions and cluster them when we give results. We will give the alternative sites and the number of versions."...I also asked if Google planned to provide sorting by availability (immediate open Web vs. controlled access). Not at this time, though he thought it an interesting idea.'

Two letters to the Chronicle

The Chronicle of Higher Education for November 26 has published two letters to the editor in response to John Ewing's article from the October 1 issue. One letter is from Jennifer McCabe, Health and Human Services Librarian at James Madison University. The other is from me. Jennifer's letter is accessible only subscribers, at least so far, but an unabridged copy of mine is available on SOAF.

Quoting Jennifer McCabe's letter: 'Mr. Ewing goes on to ask: "Who says information must be free?"...I would note that it is our tax money that allows much research to take place. And the fact that scholars must cede all copyright to their intellectual output is unconscionable and antithetical to the educational ideal of discourse and sharing of information. Finally, Mr. Ewing suggests that scholars and librarians simply stop dealing with high-priced journals. This is like suggesting to senior citizens that they just take less medicine since drugs are so expensive....Librarians have chosen instead to support the open-access model. Rather than walking away from high-quality journals, we have chosen to nurture competition among journals, with the hope of forcing publishers to be more reasonable about their prices.'

Quoting Peter Suber's letter: 'John Ewing...writes as if advocates want open access only as a means to reduce journal prices. This is mistaken. We want open access itself. As readers, we want open access because it removes barriers to the literature we need for our research and teaching. As authors, we want it because it gives us a much larger audience....No serious advocate has ever said that open-access literature costs nothing to produce. The central claim has always been that there are better ways to pay the bills than by charging readers and creating access barriers....It's important to remember why high prices for journals are harmful. The primary reason is that they decrease subscriptions and therefore access. Open access gives primary attention to the primary problem, which is access....Let's keep trying to reduce prices using Ewing's methods, among others. But let's not wait for that effort to succeed, and let's not settle for lower access barriers when we could have none at all.'

Medscape Poll: Overwhelming Support for NIH OA Plan

Medscape ran a poll for one week in late October asking for an up-or-down vote on the NIH OA proposal. Of 910 respondents, an overwhelming 88% voted in favor of the proposal. A slightly greater proportion of nurses favored the proposal (92%) than physicians (88%). The results are in line with a similar poll conducted in January showing Medscape readers favored open-access publishing by 95%.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

More on Google Scholar

Laura Rohde, New Google Scholar search service aimed at academics, The Industry Standard, November 18, 2004. Excerpt: 'The new service accesses information from resources such as academic publishers, universities, professional societies and preprint repositories, [Google] said. Because the service automatically analyzes and extracts citations and presents them as separate results, users can find references to older works that may only exist offline in books or other publications.'

More on Google Scholar

Richard Wray, Google puts new slant on scholarship, The Guardian, November 22, 2004. Excerpt: 'Following moves to make scientific research freely available, Google Scholar allows any internet user to search for keywords in theses, books, technical reports, university websites and even traditional academic publications....As well as improving access to research for students and professionals, Google Scholar offers a chance for the general public to get better access to scientific data....Rather than ranking results by the number of "hits" or visits they have received, Google Scholar ranks results in order of relevance, which includes the number of times the research itself has been cited by other academics. "Google tends to be quite useful but the way it displays hits means you get the hits that are most widely accessed," said Mike Joy, senior lecturer in computer science at the University of Warwick. "In an academic context, that's not what you want."...The new tool comes as a debate rages within the publishing world over so-called open access to scientific research....But until now searching for these articles has been a complex process for the general public. Google Scholar presented a significant step forward for the open access movement, said Jan Velterop, of the open access publisher BioMed Central. "We are very pleased Google have taken this step. This will really increase the access to and visibility of research deposited in repositories - it's a huge boost to the drive to provide open access to research," he added.'

U of Namibia launches institutional repository

The University of Namibia has launched an open-access, OAI-compliant institutional repository. (Thanks to the EPT.) (PS: On November 1, we blogged the news that the U of Namibia senate was considering a policy to encourage faculty to provide OA to their work through OA journals, OA repositories, or both. I haven't heard of any action on that yet.)

How are publishers responding to the OA challenge?

Janice McCallum at Shore Communications posted this short analysis to Commentary, the Shore blog, on November 17: 'In the STM realm, publishers are faced with a similar trend toward open access for research articles that have historically been packaged into print journals for distribution. However, the response to the trend toward free access to previously premium content has been quite different in the STM environment [than in the B2B or business info environment]. STM publishers like Reed Elsevier and Thomson are positioning themselves as providers of "solutions" to their constituent user groups in order to extract a premium. (Note, there is still an option for the open access content to be provided on an ad-supported basis.)'

(PS: What does this mean? In software, "solutions" is ad-speak for "programs" or perhaps "good programs". What does it mean in STM publishing?)

American Psychological Association comment on NIH plan

The American Psychological Association has publicly released its comment on the NIH OA plan. Excerpt: 'APA shares the goals of broad dissemination of research results to the scientific community and to the public, and we applaud the intent of NIH's draft policy on open access. However, we believe that these goals can be achieved in ways that are far more efficient than those proposed by NIH. Further, we are concerned that the current proposed policy may have a number of unanticipated and damaging consequences for the integrity, diversity and impact of scientific results....Rather than requiring the full, final manuscript to be deposited in PubMed Central (PMC), limit the deposited material to a full citation, including the final, published abstract. This will allow NIH to build a searchable electronic resource of NIH-funded research, but without creating an undue burden on itself, on publishers, or on authors. Each such deposited record should include a hyperlink to the publisher's own system for [presumably non-OA] access to the complete publication....Creating a repository of technical and scientific publications is not the most effective way to inform the public about new and emerging health care research findings. A better approach is to create daily press releases, weekly news alerts.' (PS: What burden on authors? OA to full-text is a benefit to authors, not a burden. What burden to NIH? Providing OA to full-text is no more burdensome than providing OA to abstracts. Researchers need access to full text, not just abstracts or press releases.)

At the same time, Merry Bullock, the Executive Director of the American Psychological Association, published an article about the APA position, What is Open Access? in the Psychological Science Agenda, November 2004. Excerpt, after describing OA and the NIH plan: 'Where does psychology and where does APA fit into the picture? One outcome of such a policy, which would likely expand to cover all federally funded research, not just that funded by NIH, would be to shift who bears the cost of scientific publishing away from publishers and subscribers to authors and funders. Many believe such a shift this would have a host of unintended consequences across science fields on the vitality and quality of science. One consequence would be a decrease in the number of journals, thus reducing the available number of high quality publication outlets. Another is a decrease in the resources available for the editorial and peer review infrastructure. Reducing the value added by the peer review and editorial processes would take away an important piece of the process that ensures rigorous and high quality science. In addition, shifting to an "author pays" model may undermine attempts to increase diversity in science if easier access to scientific publishing requires access to greater financial resources. At present only about a third of published articles in psychological journals report a source of funding. These concerns are articulated in APA's comments on the proposed policy (available here in PDF format).'

More on the NIH OA plan

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has issued a response challenging the conclusions drawn by the American Physiological Society and its outside counsel on the legality of the proposed NIH OA plan. Excerpt from the ATA response: 'Legal scholars advising the Alliance for Taxpayer Access quickly dismissed the faulty analysis made by the American Physiological Society's outside counsel suggesting the National Institutes of Health's public access plan will infringe copyright claims of grantees and publishers. (The claims were included in the APS comments filed with the NIH this week.) In rebuttal, intellectual property expert Michael Carroll stressed that the NIH proposed policy is "completely consistent with the scope of NIH's license and mission," and labeled the APS analysis a "fatally flawed house of cards."...Carroll is an expert on intellectual property and Internet law, and teaches on the law faculty at Villanova University School of Law. According to Professor Carroll, "The publishers acknowledge that NIH has always had license to reproduce, publish and archive the research results that it has paid for. It is explicit; there is no question about that. Their analysis is built on the false premise that NIH is making a change to copyright law. The fact is, in all cases, NIH grantees must give NIH a royalty-free, nonexclusive, and irrevocable license for the Federal government to 'reproduce, publish, or otherwise use' the material and to authorize others to do so for Federal purpose. Nothing in this proposal alters the terms of NIH's license and consequently, copyright law is not an obstacle for the NIH to move forward." ' (PS: My take on the APS legal brief is entirely in line with the ATA response.)

NBC story bumped again

The NBC Nightly News story on the NIH OA plan was bumped again last night. Sorry for the false alarm. Stay tuned for the next semi-reliable advanced notice of the broadcast.

JISC and SURF agree to work together

JISC and SURF have signed a major agreement. From the November 19 press release: 'JISC (the [UK] Joint Information Systems Committee) and SURF Foundation (the equivalent organisation in the Netherlands) have signed an agreement that will not only cement the already considerable areas of cooperation between the two organisations but also establish the grounds for even closer collaborative approaches in the future, ensuring that the UK and Dutch education and research communities remain at the forefront of both European and worldwide developments....The agreement will have immediate impact in the following key areas: sharing of information to contribute to the strategic development of both organisations; a commitment to knowledge networks and the further development of joint innovation programmes.' (PS: JISC and SURF are both leaders in the funding and development of OA. Their new agreement is a good sign for the advancement of OA in Europe.)

Launch of the Conservation Commons

On November 19, a coalition of conservation groups officially launched the Conservation Commons. (We blogged a preview on November 9.) From the press release: 'The creation of a "Conservation Commons" was announced today at the 3rd IUCN World Conservation Congress in Bangkok, Thailand. Birdlife International, Conabio (Mexico), The South Africa National Biodiversity Institute, Conservation International, UNDP, The Natural History Museum (London), The Brazilian Center for Environmental Information (CRIA), NASA, Chevron-Texaco and many others have come together to endorse common principles calling for free and open access to conservation information. Data and information required for effective conservation is fragmented and difficult to find. Hailed by Jeff McNeely, IUCN Chief Scientist, as "the single most important initiative in conservation today", the initiative seeks to break down barriers to access.' For more information see the Conservation Commons Statement of Principles, which focuses on the need for open access to conservation information.

Libraries and web filters

Irina Trushina, Freedom of access: ethical dilemmas for Internet librarians, The Electronic Library, 22, 5 (2004) pp. 416-421. Only this abstract is free online: 'Libraries depend on ethical principles more than any other institution because library services are essentially human-oriented. Most national ethical principles for librarians are represented as professional ethic codes. Each of them eventually consolidates the ideology, the paradigm of national library services. Comparative analysis of national library ethic codes indicates the intellectual freedom principle as the key point and the superior ethical value for library services. With Internet technologies implemented in library services, the principle acquires a new significance and grave problems. Recent information filtering capacities provide a radically new censorship level, including anonymous censorship, violation of user privacy in Internet communications. On the one hand, librarians must follow the intellectual freedom principle, on the other, libraries are humanistic institutions, and librarians have a moral responsibility to the patrons, adhering to the value of human life. This paper discusses these issues as they relate to the Internet as well as the correlation of professional codes and their implementation in library practices.'