Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Tennessee fails test to provide public records

Associated Press, State has fared poorly in open access, Tullahoma News, December 3, 2004. Excerpt: 'The Tennessee Coalition for Open Government [TCOG] recently organized and conducted the state's first audit of public record accessibility....Members of TCOG include the Tennessee Press Association, representing print media, and the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters, representing electronic media. Other members include The Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists, citizen watchdog group Common Cause, and the state's four largest daily newspapers. Dr. Dorothy Bowles, a journalism professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and Kent Flanagan, former Tennessee bureau chief for the AP, co-chaired the project....Increasingly, media sources from across the state have reported instances where citizens have been denied public documents. Unfortunately, if a person is denied a record, the only remedy prescribed by law is to take the matter to court, an expensive proposition that many people will not pursue. This played a large role in Tennessee's low ranking in a 2001 joint study by the Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Better Government Association. The Volunteer State was ranked 45th of 50 states....More than 90 people from around the state were assigned to visit one, and in a few cases, two counties. The government offices had no prior knowledge of the audit. Steps were also taken to send auditors to counties where they were not known. The four documents auditors asked for were basic records that should be available under the state's Public Records Law.'

A library perspective on OA

Andrew Booth, The politics of e-access and e-funding in the library environment, Serials, November 2004 (accessible only to subscribers, at least so far). Abstract: 'The domain of e-journals well exemplifies 'competition for power and leadership between competing interests or stakeholder groups'. As a stakeholder with multiple perspectives: library manager, academic, author, peer reviewer and researcher and editorial board member, the author considers the conflicting arguments regarding the desirability of the open access model. Recent reports are challenging the received wisdom that the open access model is unsustainable. While allies and opponents are lining up on opposing sides of the battle lines there is hope of reconciliation in the vision of a mixed economy proffered by Delamothe and Smith. The resulting consumer choice is likely to be between the relentless pursuit of ever-changing open access publishing fashions or the predictable security offered by a long-term relationship with a traditional publisher.' (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.) (PS: This paper is based on a July 2004 presentation at a UKSG seminar. While the paper is not free online, the presentation is.)

One view of the pros and cons of OA

Hugh Look, Open access: look both ways before crossing, Serials, November 2004 (accessible only to subscribers, at least so far). Abstract: 'This objective view of the pros and cons of open access explores the situation as it was in early 2004 and considers some of the ethical dilemmas that can both arise as a result of changing business models and lead to the creation of new models. Some interesting theories are examined to demonstrate how easily a destabilizing effect could occur, and the likely impact of this on different communities in the world of scholarly journals is considered. Finally, a realistic view of the various possible future outcomes is given with a cautionary tale, some sound, unbiased advice and even a visit to the planet Magrathea thrown in for good measure.' (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.) (PS: This article is based on a presentation at the March 2004 UKSG conference. While the article is not free online, the presentation is.)

Webometrics of scientific research articles

Erik Thorlund Jepsen and four co-authors, Characteristics of scientific Web publications: Preliminary data gathering and analysis, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, December 2004. Only this abstract is accessible to non-subscribers: 'Because of the increasing presence of scientific publications on the Web, combined with the existing difficulties in easily verifying and retrieving these publications, research on techniques and methods for retrieval of scientific Web publications is called for. In this article, we report on the initial steps taken toward the construction of a test collection of scientific Web publications within the subject domain of plant biology. The steps reported are those of data gathering and data analysis aiming at identifying characteristics of scientific Web publications. The data used in this article were generated based on specifically selected domain topics that are searched for in three publicly accessible search engines (Google, AllTheWeb, and AltaVista). A sample of the retrieved hits was analyzed with regard to how various publication attributes correlated with the scientific quality of the content and whether this information could be employed to harvest, filter, and rank Web publications. The attributes analyzed were inlinks, outlinks, bibliographic references, file format, language, search engine overlap, structural position (according to site structure), and the occurrence of various types of metadata. As could be expected, the ranked output differs between the three search engines. Apparently, this is caused by differences in ranking algorithms rather than the databases themselves. In fact, because scientific Web content in this subject domain receives few inlinks, both AltaVista and AllTheWeb retrieved a higher degree of accessible scientific content than Google. Because of the search engine cutoffs of accessible URLs, the feasibility of using search engine output for Web content analysis is also discussed.'

JASIST issue on webometrics

The December issue of the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology is devoted to webomeetrics. Unfortunately, only the TOC and abstracts are accessible to non-subscribers. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

Developing an IR at the University of Virginia

Leslie Johnston, An overview of digital library repository development at the University of Virginia Library, OCLC Systems & Services, 20, 4 (2004) pp. 170-173. Only this abstract is free online: 'After over a decade of local digital content production and licensing of electronic journals and databases, and five years of development effort, the University of Virginia (UVa) Library is nearing the time when it can present an integrated discovery and delivery environment for its digital library. The UVa Library is actively developing a digital library repository based on the Fedora open source architecture; the first production release was set to launch in August 2004. The Library is simultaneously testing an implementation of OpenURL and metasearch tools. This article presents the UVa Library's development process in the context of its larger digital library development efforts, including local content production, the implementation of new digital services, and the integration of those services into a unified interface.' (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

OA to essential medical information

Christabel .E.L. Stokes and Manoj Pandey, Open Access to essential health care information, World Journal of Surgical Oncology, December 2, 2004. An editorial. The full text is OA but not yet in final form. Abstract: 'Open Access publishing is a valuable resource for the synthesis and distribution of essential health care information. This article discusses the potential benefits of Open Access, specifically in terms of Low and Middle Income (LAMI) countries in which there is currently a lack of informed health care providers - mainly a consequence of poor availability to information. We propose that without copyright restrictions, Open Access facilitates the distribution of the most relevant research and health care information. Furthermore, we suggest that the technology and infrastructure that has been put in place for Open Access could be used to publish download-able manuals, guides or basic handbooks created by healthcare providers in LAMI countries.'

Free and priced online science for K-12

Robert Lackie and Robert Congleton have written a short guide to the Free and Fee-Based Online Science Resources for K-12 teachers and students.

Friday, December 03, 2004

OA and non-OA RSS feeds

Are RSS feeds open access? They are free of charge. But are you free to use them as you like? What if you wanted to braid your favorite three into one? Would you need the three authors' permission for that? Robin Good argues that RSS feeds should carry labels, like Creative Commons licenses, telling users what they are permitted to do with them. That would let some authors limit usage and let others remove permission barriers and provide open access. Good is not only encouraging the idea. He's also offering to create a directory of officially open-access RSS feeds. Sébastien Paquet comments: '[W]hy separate it? I think copyright information ought to be just one more field in a global directory that enables searches to be limited to reusable feeds. Robin says none of the 104 feed directories he knows about tabulates rights information. Pretty astonishing.' (PS: For the record, the RSS and Atom feeds for Open Access News are as OA as the blog itself. I use a CC license on the blog, and when I have time to figure out how to embed it in the feeds, I will embed it.)

UK and China agreement on e-Science

Scientists from the UK and China have agreed to work together to advance e-Science research and technology. From their November 24 press release: 'Leading researchers from the UK and China have agreed a partnership in the emerging field of e-Science....e-Science is already making a significant impact on advances in science enabled by the 'Grid' - a 21st century extension to the Internet. The vision of the UKís e-Science Core Programme is to allow scientists across the world to work together more effectively than ever before, sharing resources, data and knowledge. This agreement with CNGrid represents a significant step forward in international collaboration in this area.'

The struggle to open the US government

Dan Lopez and three co-editors, Veto Battle 30 Years Ago Set Freedom of Information Norms, National Security Archive, November 23, 2004. A fascinating account of how Gerald Ford was persuaded to veto the Freedom of Information Act (technically, amendments to strengthen the act) in 1974 by his chief of staff Donald Rumsfeld, Rumsfeld's deputy Dick Cheney, and government lawyer Antonin Scalia. Congress overrode Ford's veto. This account of the history is based on newly declassified documents. Excerpt: 'The 1974 Amendments to the Freedom of Information Act represent another milestone in the quest to secure the public's right to information. They were the product of a tumultuous time in U.S. political history and came on the heels of the problematic and secretive Nixon administration. Congress overwhelming supported the measures, and their passage was well received by the public. Since 1974, and subsequent amendment, the FOIA has allowed citizens to learn more about their family histories and personal files; it has brought to light government oversights, shortfalls, and transgressions; it has forced improvement in government regulations and activities; and it has broadened the publicís body of knowledge about its government, thus creating a more informed, effective citizenry.'

Highwire milestone

Highwire Press now hosts more than 3/4 million free online peer-reviewed research articles. Excerpt from the press release: 'Today, more than 780,000 free peer-reviewed, full-text articles are available at This open archive covers a wide range of not-for-profit titles. Over 90% of the articles in the government repository are already available for free in their complete context (the entire online journal, not just individual articles), with advanced full-text searching and toll-free reference linking, through HighWire. "There has been a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding about the chimera of 'free' access, mainly due to a failure to differentiate between responsible and rapacious publishers," stated Michael A. Keller, Stanford University librarian and publisher of HighWire Press. "Not-for-profit and society publishers, among them those associated with HighWire, offer break-even pricing models that equitably advance both the publishing and the research processes. The combination of these publishers' fair pricing policies and their voluntary opening of access to over three quarters of a million articles, clearly demonstrates their earnest desire to fully support the scientific and scholarly communication process." Through the HighWire free back issues program, participating journals make all their research content free after a brief delay. Currently, 50 journals on HighWire offer content free within six months or less from the day of publication, another 161 titles after a wait of twelve months or more, and all offer immediate access for members, subscribers or those on an authorized institutional network.'

OA to weather data

On December 1, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) adopted what is essentially an open-access and interoperability policy for weather, water, and climate data. Excerpt from the new policy: 'In furtherance of these policies, NWS [National Weather Service] will carry out activities which contribute to its mission, including collecting and archiving data...and providing unrestricted access to publicly funded observations, analyses, model results, forecasts, and related information products in a timely manner and at the lowest possible cost to users....To advance the weather, water, and climate enterprise, NWS will provide information in forms accessible to the public as well as underlying data in forms convenient to additional processing by others. NWS will make its data and products available in Internet-accessible form to the extent practicable and within resource constraints, and will use other dissemination technologies, e.g. satellite broadcast and NOAA Weather Radio, as appropriate. Information contained in databases will be based on recognized standards, formats, and metadata descriptions to ensure data from different observing platforms, databases, and models can be integrated and used by all interested parties in the weather, water, and climate enterprise.' For more details, see the NOAA press release on the new policy, the comments received during the public comment period, the Slashdot discussion, or our 5/16/04 posting on the National Research Council report, Fair Weather, whose recommendations led to the new policy. (Thanks to Alex Curtis.)

(PS: This policy is a victory for the public interest over private, for-profit weather services, like AccuWeather, who lobbied the government to stop providing free online access to taxpayer-funded weather data. In this way, the new NOAA policy is very analogous to the new NIH policy.)

JISC will fund repository projects

Early in 2005, JISC will launch a funding program for digital repositories, including eprint repositories. It expects to award about £2.5 million in grants every year for two or three years. While it's not yet ready for applications, it released a preview of the program today for those who want to prepare.

More on Kahle v. Ashcroft

Katie Dean, Fight for Public Domain Goes On, Wired News, December 2, 2004. Excerpt: 'Digital archivists aren't giving up on their efforts to free out-of-print books, movies and music from overreaching copyright laws, despite a recent setback in court. District Judge Maxine Chesney dismissed the case filed by Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, and Rick Prelinger, founder of the Prelinger Archives, in late November. The archivists allege that the government's sweeping changes in copyright laws are unconstitutional because they lock up creative works that should be returned to the public domain. The government filed a motion to dismiss, and the motion was granted Nov. 19. Kahle -- who wants to include out-of-print books and films in his nonprofit archive for educational and research purposes -- and Prelinger will appeal the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the next several weeks, said Chris Sprigman, a fellow at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society. Sprigman, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, said First Amendment matters are normally dealt with at the appeals court level of the judicial system anyway.' (PS: The District Court decision is now online.)

Charleston preconference summary

The December issue of the NASIG Newsletter Cris Ferguson summarizes the presentations from the Charleston preconference, The Journals Revolution: A Primer.

Conference summary

Charging for digital copies of museum holdings

Simon Tanner, Reproduction charging models & rights policy for digital images in American art museums. The report from a Mellon-funded study of over 100 American museums. Undated but apparently released on November 11. From the executive summary: 'This study explores the cost and policy models adapted by US arts museums in arriving at pricing structures for delivering imaging and rights services. It examines the new market realities and opportunities cultural institutions face due to the transition to digital collections. One hundred US art museums were surveyed and in-depth interviews were carried out with 20 museums....Museums do not carry out image creation or rights and reproduction activity because of its profitability....The primary driving factors for providing these services are [1] to serve the public and educational use, [2] to promote the museum and its collections, and [3] to serve publishers and commercial picture use....Most museums are setting pricing on the perceived market rate rather than with reference to the cost of actual service provision.' (Thanks to CNI.)

Swedish higher ed group signs Berlin Declaration

The Swedish Association of Higher Education (SUHF) has signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge. From yesterday's press release: 'By joining the other signatories of the Declaration, SUHF wishes to express its support for the new possibilities now occurring in the systems of dissemination and provision of access to scientific knowledge. The aims and goals inherited in the Berlin Declaration on Open Access are completely in line with the recommendations adopted by SUHF in a recent report on scholarly communication issues. Challenges ahead are the further strengthening of quality control issues and the recognition of Open Access publications in the funding and promotion systems. By signing the Declaration the SUHF wishes to encourage the Swedish scientific community to take active part in the development of issues addressed in the Declaration.'

Thursday, December 02, 2004

More on Google Scholar

Deborah Asbrand, The Search for Science, MIT Technology Review, December 2, 2004. Excerpt: '[Google] Scholar's broad reach, however, underscores a glaring limitation in science publishing. To access an article that appeared in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, for example, users will still need to visit a research library that subscribed to the publication. Those who live near Harvard University, though, would be out of luck: the school cancelled its subscription in January as a cost-cutting measure. So did Cornell University, citing the $2,178-a-year subscription cost. Industry giant Elsevier offers a different story. The company will sell users a copy of the five-page article -- for $30...."[GS may draw attention this problem] when doctoral-level searchers find something relevant to their work and then find out that their university no longer subscribes," points out Peter Suber, open-access project director for Public Knowledge in Washington, D.C....Until now, the general population hasn't had access to most research, says Michael Eisen, a faculty member in the molecular and cell biology department at University of California at Berkeley and co-founder of the Public Library of Science, an open-access organization. With Google Scholar, anyone from medical patients to inquisitive readers can follow up on an interesting article with do-it-yourself online research.'

More on Elsevier

Saeed Shah, Reed Elsevier earnings forecast disappoints market, The Independent, December 2, 2004. Excerpt: 'Reed Elsevier, the publishing giant, warned that trading in the science journals market remained tough. The company's shares fell 3 per cent to close at 473.5p. As well as the news on Reed's science arm, some in the City were disappointed that the company did not raise its earnings guidance for 2004....Reed said that [journal] prices would rise by less than 5 per cent this year. To counter its critics, it added that it would publish 4 per cent more articles in its journals in 2004. Also, in response to claims that it is losing the loyalty of scientists to the alternative "open access" publishing model (where there are no subscription charges), Reed said that articles submitted by researchers for possible publication were up 7 per cent this year.'

Google Scholar visualization tool

Alf Eaton has developed a bookmarklet that returns an interactive visual map of the citation patterns from a Google Scholar search. Excerpt from his description: 'Double clicking on any of the nodes will load a new set of papers which cited the selected paper - in other words, opening up new nodes moves forward in time through citations. Clicking on the 'info' box will open a window with a link back to Google Scholar, from where you can get to the full text.' (Thanks to the Jill O'Neill on the NFAIS Information Community News.)

Mellon president on MIT's OpenCourseWare

MIT World is hosting a webcast of William Bowen's October 4 lecture, Community Discussion on Open Sharing and OpenCourseWare. Bowen is the president of the Mellon Foundation. The webcast includes remarks by MIT President Charles Vest and MIT Provost Robert Brown.

Editorial: Open Access to essential health care information

Christabel E. L. Stokes and Manoj Pandey.Open Access to essential health care information. World Journal of Surgical Oncology 2004, 2:42.
Abstract: Open Access publishing is a valuable resource for the synthesis and distribution of essential health care information. This article discusses the potential benefits of Open Access, specifically in terms of Low and Middle Income (LAMI) countries in which there is currently a lack of informed health care providers - mainly a consequence of poor availability to information. We propose that without copyright restrictions, Open Access facilitates the distribution of the most relevant research and health care information. Furthermore, we suggest that the technology and infrastructure that has been put in place for Open Access could be used to publish download-able manuals, guides or basic handbooks created by healthcare providers in LAMI countries.

Harvard Human Rights Journal

From the website:
The Harvard Human Rights Journal is an annual publication compiled and edited by the students of Harvard Law School in cooperation with the Harvard Human Rights Program. The Journal publishes cutting-edge human rights scholarship by academics, practitioners, and students. In doing so, we provide a forum for cross-pollination and the exchange of ideas from a variety of international perspectives.
Harvard Human Rights Journal - Fulltext v12+ (1999+); Tables of contents v1+ (1988+); ISSN: 1057-5057.

NRC removes its OA content, then restores some

NRC Blocks Access to Online Reading Room, Then Restores Some Access, Library Journal, December 2, 2004. A short, unsigned news story. Excerpt: 'The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) blocked public access to its online reading room, then restored some documents, according to OMB Watch. The blocking started Oct. 25 after media reports said the site might contain some documents that could be used by terrorists; they included floor plans and locations of nuclear materials related to a possible application for a high-level waste repository. However, said OMB Watch, rather than selecting specific documents for removal, the agency blocked all public access to that portion of the site. Although NRC by November 4 restored some documents, the agency would not provide a specific schedule for reviewing and reposting the rest of the documents....OMB Watch noted that, "It is unclear what standards the agency is using to determine what information could be useful to a terrorist." '

Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, First Series

Reading through the December issue of Choice I stumbled upon a rare gem of early American scientific publishing. Using an IMLS grant, the Ewell Sale Stewart Library of the Academy of Natural Sciences has digitized the entire first series of Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.
Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia - Fulltext First Series v1-8 (1817-1842); ISSN: 0885-3479.
The website provides details on the techniques used in the digitization in addition to the historical and scientific bounty of the journal proper. Whether one's research interests run to ornithology, entomology, ichthyology, or botany, American scientific luminaries of the first half of the 19th century wrote major pieces in this early giant of American scholarly communication. The article which caught my eye initially is John James Audubon's prospectus for his monumental Birds of America.

December issue of SOAN

I just mailed the December issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. In addition to the usual round-up of news from the past month, it takes a close look at the Congressional approval of the NIH public access plan and the UK government response to the open-access recommendations from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Among the news stories given shorter takes are a series of national OA initiatives launched in November, the Kaufman-Wills study of open-access journals, and Google Scholar.

Elsevier's forecast

Jeffrey Goldfarb, Reed sees stronger 2005, Reuters UK, December 2, 2004. Excerpt: 'The publisher said the market for science research is "challenging" as academic library budgets remain tight. Migration to electronic products also is picking up, cannibalizing some revenues as costs decrease. Scientific publishing, the biggest of Reed Elsevier's four units, faces a potential challenge from a movement to make journals freely available in an "open access" model. "The scientific journals business operates in an environment of continuing weak funding growth for the majority of customers which does constrain the market opportunities," the company said.'

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

More on Google Scholar

Gary Price, Google Scholar Documentation and Large PDF Files, SearchEngineWatch, December 1, 2004. Excerpt: 'Google would be doing themselves a favor in offering better documentation and disclosure about what Google Scholar does and doesn't offer. Yes, it's only a beta but this type of info should have been available from day one. First, Google should let users know what publishers they're working with and also remind people that some material in Google Scholar is culled directly from the open web....Second, they need to offer the Google definition what is and isn't "scholarly" material....Third, for several years its been documented (not directly by Google) that they don't crawl more than 101kb of an html web page. It's also been noted since Google began crawling PDF files that they might not crawling the full text of larger files.'

More on public access to drug trial data

Free the Academic Drug Tests, an unsigned editorial in the New York Times, November 30, 2004. Excerpt: 'Academic medical centers represent the top rung of medical research in this country and are widely thought to be impartial and independent. So it is disheartening to find them signing restrictive contracts with pharmaceutical companies that allow the companies to dictate what drug testing data can be openly discussed and published. The manufacturers of drugs and medical devices are already under increasing pressure to list all of their clinical trials and results in public databases. Now academic medical centers will need to clean up their own practices to help prevent suppression of information about the safety and efficacy of drugs. The collaboration of academic institutions in industry practices that distort perceptions of important drugs was spelled out by Barry Meier in yesterday's Times (Contracts Keep Drug Research Out of Reach). The drug and device industries annually funnel millions of dollars into many medical institutions to pay for clinical trials of their products. The hitch is that contract clauses typically give the company that finances the trials enormous sway over when, how or even if trial results are made public....A few of the most prestigious medical centers have managed to negotiate contracts that give them the final say on publishing the results of multisite clinical trials, but a much broader approach is needed. With the industry on the run for its secretive practices, the time seems ripe to revive the notion of a standardized contract for all institutions that would ensure researchers' access to data and prompt publication of results.'

Three OA issues on Einstein from the New Journal of Physics in 2005

To celebrate 2005, the International Year of Physics, the open-access New Journal of Physics will publish three special issues devoted to Einstein's legacy. Of course, all three will be OA. From the web site: 'Next year, declared the 'International Year of Physics' by the United Nations to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Einstein's annus mirabilis, will constitute a 12 month international focus on physics. To celebrate the centenary, New Journal of Physics will publish in 2005 three specially invited Focus Issues related to Einstein's groundbreaking work. Featuring contributions from the very leading exponents worldwide, the three collections of original research papers and reviews will form a unique open-access resource in these important areas of physics.'

More from Lord Sainsbury on OA

Donald MacLeod, Warning over 'cost' of free science publishing, The Guardian, December 1, 2004. Excerpt: 'Open access publishing could cost UK universities and the government dearly, the science minister, Lord Sainsbury, warned MPs today. In a regular science question time session with the science and technology committee, which is campaigning vigorously for research articles to be made freely available in universities and libraries, Lord Sainsbury denied that the government was balancing the interests of the publishers with those of researchers. At the moment about 10% of the costs of publication were borne by private industry which subscribed to the journals, he said. Under a free access system all the costs would fall on the government and the universities. And as UK scientists published a disproportionately high share of journal papers internationally, the UK would be in a negative position, he argued...."It is a not a matter of balancing interests - the government should be supporting the best and most cost-effective way to channel scientific output," said the minister.'

(PS: A few quick comments. First, Lord Sainsbury is the UK Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation, Department of Trade and Industry, and helped compose the generally negative government response to the Gibson committee report. Second, this concern is all about OA journals, not OA archiving, the same confusion displayed in the government response to the report. Third, even within the world of journals, it overlooks evidence that OA journals have lower costs. Fourth, OA journals can cover their costs without charging users, which is the whole point; it doesn't matter that some users have the means to pay. Fifth, the renunciation of "balancing interests" contradicts the assurance in the government response to the July report that "the Government's approach is to facilitate a level playing field.")

Update. Sainsbury's views from this interview are summarized in the December 3 issue of CORDIS News.

LOCKSS now does format migration

David Rosenthal, Thomas Lipkis, Thomas Robertson, and Seth Morabito, Transparent Format Migration of Preserved Web Content, a preprint in arXiv. Abstract: 'The LOCKSS digital preservation system collects content by crawling the web and preserves it in the format supplied by the publisher. Eventually, browsers will no longer understand that format. A process called format migration converts it to a newer format that the browsers do understand. The LOCKSS program has designed and tested an initial implementation of format migration for Web content that is transparent to readers, building on the content negotiation capabilities of HTTP.'

The LOCKSS press release adds this: 'On November 15, 2004, The LOCKSS program demonstrated transparent format migration of preserved Web content at the National Archives Partnerships in Innovation Symposium, National Archives at College Park, Maryland....Our implementation is capable of transparently presenting content collected in one Web format to readers in another Web format, with no changes needed to browsers. The reader need take no special action to cause this to happen, nor even be aware that it is happening. This appears to be the first time that a production digital preservation system has demonstrated transparent format migration of live content collected from the Web for end users.'

Conference presentations

The presentations from the conference, Copyright, Scholarship, and the Case for Open Access (University of Maine, November 20, 2004), are now online.

Pinker on OA

Steven Pinker is interviewed in the November 9 issue of Current Biology (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'Any views on the 'electronic revolution' in journal publishing? It's about time. It's insane that large publishers can enjoy the unpaid labor of authors, referees, and editors and then force librarians to pay through the nose. In the age of the Internet all they can offer is prestige, which, as our colleagues in the humanities would say, is a social construction. Editorial boards can perform a prestige transplant and move en masse to new electronic journals.' (Thanks to Matt Cockerill.)

One journal editor's case for open access

Paul Revere, Open Access, Open Sesame, November 30, 2004. A pseudonymous blog posting. Excerpt: 'The whole point of publishing a blog is for others to see it. For that they need open access to it. You would think that would be the whole point about science, too: Open Access. Unfortunately that is not how scientific publishing has worked until recently. Even now the vast majority of scientific papers aren't accessible unless you have priviliges at a library that carries the journal or you have a subscription. That is beginning to change and this post is to alert readers to an extremely significant trend in scientific publishing. In the interests of full disclosure, I am a co-Editor-in-Chief of an Open Access journal. I don't make a penny from it although the publisher does (more on the publisher's business model, below). I spend a lot of time and effort arranging for peer-review, counseling authors and doing all the other things good editors do because I believe strongly in the principle that good and reliable science should be available without charge to any one on this planet (and in this case, has an internet connection and a browser). This is especially true for the majority of work in this country supported by tax-payer's money through NIH.'

Open source and open access for national security

Robert David Steele Vivas, Information Peacekeeping, a PPT presentation to be given at the Peacekeeping Intelligence Conference in Stockholm (December 2-3, 2004). Excerpt from the OSS.Net press release: 'There are three bright spots within the U.S. Government that offer a multi-billion dollar return on investment within the open content side of Information Operations. If the Secretary of State will sponsor an Open Source (Information) Agency as the 9-11 Commission recommends on page 413, with a focus on support to public diplomacy, and if the Secretary of Defense will sponsor a Defense Open Source Information Program, we can, within the year, double or triple what can be known and acted upon in relation to global issues affecting not only our national security and prosperity, but the security and prosperity of all Nations.' Steele is a proponent of intelligence reform the CEO of OSS.Net.

E-publishing academic books in Australia

Louis Perry, Promise and pitfalls of e-printing, The Australian, December 1, 2004. Excerpt: 'The biggest argument for e-publishing in the academic world is that it can deliver research and information to more people in many more places - making academic work more accessible and transparent. But critics of the medium argue that it does nothing to improve the financial viability of academic publishing. Melbourne University Publishing's publisher and chief executive Louise Adler is one of e-publishing's biggest champions in Australia...."I think electronic publishing is going to be, for peer to peer publishing, increasingly the way of the future," Adler says. "The audience is too small, the specialised nature of the academy and the specialised nature of the people and their disciplines mean that it is inevitable that e-publishing will become more pervasive.'

CiteULike is a site you'll like

Here's how CiteULike describes itself: 'CiteULike is a free service to help academics to share, store, and organise academic papers that they are reading. When you see a paper on the web that interests you, you can click one button and have it added to your personal library. CiteULike automatically extracts the citation details, so there's no need to type them in yourself. Because your library is stored on the server, you can access it from any computer. You can share you library with others, and find out who is reading the same papers as you. In turn, this can help you discover literature which is relevant to your field but you may not have known about. When it comes to writing up your results in a paper, you can export your library to either BibTeX or Endnote to build it in to your bibliography.'

Here's how Tara Calashain described it in today's ResearchBuzz: 'Just let me take a moment and sigh with happiness. Huaaaahhhhh. Thank you....Once you've registered CiteULike provides you with a bookmarklet. Add th' bookmarklet to your toolbar. After you've added it, look for an article of interest at one of the research sites CiteULike supports. Supported sites include PubMed, HubMed, CiteSeer, and ScienceDirect. I went to PubMed and found "Balance disorders in the elderly and the benefit of balance exercise." After looking at the abstract and confirming it was something I'd be interested in, I clicked the bookmarklet. I was taken back to CiteULike and given a place to add keywords for the article and some notes. I did that and was kicked back to the article. But now I had a pointer in my library....[Y]ou may be more interested in browsing what OTHER people are interested in....This list is available as an RSS feed. There are also lists of the most popular tags on the right, from networks to game theory to microbiotics. All these are available as RSS feeds.'

More on Google Scholar

Leigh Dodds has blogged an account of how Google Scholar worked with Ingenta to index its content. (Thanks to T.J. Sondermann.)

SURF signs the Berlin Declaration

The Dutch SURF Foundation has signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge. Excerpt from today's press release: 'Signing the Berlin Declaration is a logical step for SURF. The fact is that the foundation puts a great deal of effort into ensuring that valuable scientific information is distributed widely. According to Prof. Dr. Wim Liebrand, Director of the SURF Foundation: 'Information arising from publicly financed research is a public resource that should be available to everyone. "Open Access" brings us a step closer to this goal, and SURF is pleased to be able to play an active part in the process.' In 2003, for instance, it established the so-called DARE Programme, an initiative that is engaged in setting up a network of 'Digital Academic REpositories'. In addition, SURF has for a number of years devoted attention to the issue of copyright in the matter of scientific communications. Its support for and promotion of Open Access is a logical extension of its policy in this area....For users, Open Access in fact means free access to scholarly publications. For authors it means a wider readership as well as increased visibility and therefore greater impact.' Also see the new SURF page on open access.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

AIDS and access to AIDS information

Thomas Scalway, Democratizing HIV Communication, Development Outreach, October 2004. Excerpt: 'The relationship between AIDS and information access is not entirely straightforward. The highly networked, such as business elites, politicians, and others prosperous within the information economy, are often also heavily affected by AIDS. But partly through access to information and the right to speak out, HIV amongst these groups remains less prevalent, and less immediately associated with disease and fatality. The early fight for rights, treatment, care, and prevention of AIDS amongst the gay community in the north shows how communication can mitigate the impact of the epidemic....The "Access for All" theme needs to be seized upon by those working with AIDS and communication. Access to information, access to public debate, and access to a media that can speak for, to and across communities are all good rallying calls. All of us working with or for the media could usefully apply this slogan to bringing the communities most affected by HIV/AIDS into the discourses that determine the response.' (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)

Google Scholar, Firefox, and OpenURLs

Peter Binkley (University of Alberta Libraries) has "... built a Firefox extension that adds OpenURL 0.1 links to the results lists in Google Scholar. The functionality is pretty basic but it shows what might be possible. Ideally, Google will build this functionality directly into Google Scholar, and we'll be able to integrate Google Scholar fully with our local access systems. In the meantime, this extension is fun to play with. It is by no means perfect, but it is perhaps a taste of what we have to look forward to. You'll need the latest version of Firefox to use it (1.0, not the 1.0 preview)." Instructions for modifying the package are posted . It's easier if you have all the source files and rebuild the package from scratch. This allows institutions to brand the OpenURL icon, as well as specify the local OpenURL resolver.

Thanks to Congress and the NIH for approving access plan

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has issued a press release (November 29) thanking Congress and the NIH for approving the NIH public access plan. Excerpt: 'The Alliance for Taxpayer Access, a national coalition of organizations that support enhanced public access to published NIH-funded research, today expressed appreciation to Congress for signaling support through the year-end omnibus appropriations bill for the proposed NIH policy. The conference report for this legislation recognized specifically that the policy will make research results more readily accessible to scientists, physicians, and the public. Rick Johnson, spokesman for the Alliance and director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), added his praise for leaders on Capitol Hill and at the NIH. "Congressional leaders and NIH Director Elias Zerhouni have listened respectfully to all voices in this debate on how to expand access to the published results of NIH-funded science. They agree with us that NIH's primary responsibility is to serve science and to improve human health. We are proud partners with both to ensure that the conduct, scientific review and dissemination of research truly serve the public's interests. We firmly believe the compromise path that NIH has identified, to make research available six months after publication, will address this opportunity intelligently without threatening publishers' livelihoods." Johnson also noted, "Sunday evening, in its highly-regarded news series called 'Fleecing of America,' the NBC Nightly News underscored the human cost of restricting access to taxpayer-funded research." The story highlighted a cancer patient's campaign for open access to NIH research.'

Comments from Zerhouni on objections to the NIH plan

Shirley Haley, Omnibus conferees support NIH public access publishing plan; NIH asking for time, Washington Fax, November 29, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'Wild claims about the cost of the project have been part of the misinformation out there about the plan, Zerhouni said. "The investments in capital, people and experience all have already been made." The cost will be "incremental, minimal," he said, recalling estimates of $2 million to $4 million the agency already has made public. "We're comfortable with the projections," he said....It's all about archiving, not publishing, the NIH director stressed. Zerhouni said he finds it unacceptable that in this day and age, with the electronic capabilities of the Web, the Internet and so on, that five or 10 years from now "NIH would not have a comprehensive archive, a portfolio" that it can share with scientists to see what's been done and what hasn't and with the public...."We do not want to be a publisher." In fact, he noted, journals come to the agency asking for help in preserving their publishing history...."We want to achieve the goal of public archival access," Zerhouni said, stressing that the agency wants to find a model that provides a "collaborative, cooperative win-win for science" that covers journal publishers of all sizes and on all publishing schedules....Responding to comments that placing pre-publication manuscripts on PMC will result in confusion among versions and possibly exposing the public to wrong and harmful information that will be corrected too late in the published article, Zerhouni noted that "the quality is there" by the time a manuscript is peer-reviewed and accepted for publication....Besides, he pointed out, "The published copy is going to appear first." If there is a "dangerous difference" between the manuscript and the published article, it will be discovered before the manuscript is opened up to the public six months after the published article appears, he explained.'

More on OA to data

Peter Arzberger and eight co-authors, Promoting Access to Public Research Data for Scientific, Economic, and Social Development, Data Science Journal, November 29, 2004. Abstract: 'Access to and sharing of data are essential for the conduct and advancement of science. This article argues that publicly funded research data should be openly available to the maximum extent possible. To seize upon advancements of cyberinfrastructure and the explosion of data in a range of scientific disciplines, this access to and sharing of publicly funded data must be advanced within an international framework, beyond technological solutions. The authors, members of an OECD Follow-up Group, present their research findings, based closely ontheir report to OECD, on key issues in data access, as well as operating principles and management aspects necessary to successful data access regimes.'

Excerpt from the body of the article: 'In recent years, the debate on e-science has tended to focus on the "open access" to the digital output of scientific research, namely, the results of research published by researchers as the articles in the scientific journals....This focus on publications often overshadows the issues of access to the input of research - the research data, the raw material at the heart of the scientific process and the object of significant annual public investments. In terms of access, availability of research data generally poses more serious problems than access to publications....The findings and recommendations presented here are based on the central principle that publicly funded research data should be openly available to the maximum extent possible. Availability should be restricted only by legitimate considerations of national security restrictions; protection of confidentiality and privacy; intellectual property rights; and time-limited exclusive use by principal investigators. Publicly funded research data are a public good, produced in the public interest.'

Integrating Google Scholar with paid library licenses

By now you know that Google Scholar links to both OA and non-OA sources. When it links to a non-OA source, you learn that the source exists and that it may be relevant to your search, but you have to pay, log in to or visit your library, or turn to another means for full-text access. If your library has purchased a license to the relevant journal or database, then you have prepaid, no-fee access through the library. But so far GS is not integrated with your library so that you can't click through from the GS hit page to your library's authorized copy. Until now. Art Rhyno, a Systems Librarian at the University of Windsor, has developed a bookmarklet to build the needed bridge between GS and your licensed library resources. Quoting from his description: 'Basically, all of the links to [GS] search results get prepended with a specified web address for the library's reverse proxy. Since our web proxy is not likely to be of use to you, the idea is that you copy the bookmarklet to a web server on your own site, and change it to reflect the proxy address in use at your organization.' (Thanks to Library Cog.)

The Distant Libriarian has another solution to this problem, though it depends on changes at the GS end.

Monday, November 29, 2004

AAPPS bulletin

Not very much content yet, but yet another example of the global appeal of free and open publishing models. AAPPS bulletin | Association of Asia Pacific Physical Societies bulletin - Fulltext v13+ (2003+); Tables of contents v1+ (1991+); ISSN: 0218-2203.

"It's time to get in the game"

Michael Geist, Copyright Reform is Not a Spectator Sport, Canadian Association of University Teachers Bulletin, November 2004. Excerpt: 'It is time for teachers, researchers, education administrators, librarians and students to speak out loudly against proposed policies that threaten the use of the Internet within Canadian schools by establishing unnecessary copyright license fees that seek to extend the term of copyright to the detriment of Canadian historians, and that introduce new legal protections that threaten to chill scientific and security research. They should further seize this opportunity by presenting a positive vision of reform that could benefit Canadian research and the broader community.' (PS: Good advice. Pass it on. The rest of the article is very good on the details: what is threatening in current reform proposals and what Canadian researchers can recommend instead.)

NBC story on the NIH plan

NBC Nightly News finally ran its story on the NIH plan --last night. Sorry I didn't have notice to alert you in advance. The good news is that you can view the clip over the net, at least for a while. The bad news is that NBC has done all it can to discourage deep linking. So bear with me: First go to the MSNBC front page. Then look down the left column for News Video and click to open its sub-menu. Click on News Video Front Page. Scan the bottom half of the page for the clip on the Fleecing of America. Click to play. (PS: I suspect the clip will be displaced by newer ones in a matter of days, so try this soon.)

More on the NIH plan

Meredith Wadman, NIH head stands firm over plans for open access, Nature, November 25, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'The director of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has hit back at critics of his proposal for a freely accessible literature archive. In an interview with Nature, Elias Zerhouni accused scientific publishers of floating "doomsday scenarios" in which the archive causes widespread cancellations of journal subscriptions and drives smaller publications out of business. He stressed that submission of papers on NIH-funded research would be left to the discretion of authors. But publishers rejected his assurances, saying that researchers would feel pressured to submit their papers for fear of losing out on future NIH grants. Zerhouni's comments came on 16 November, at the end of a 60-day public discussion period that generated more than 6,000 comments on the proposal....Many scientific publishers oppose the [NIH plan], saying that offering their articles for free could drive journals out of business. They add that inaccuracies will be preserved in PubMed, because the policy proposes that articles be posted before copyediting and correcting. But patient-activist groups and librarians have been vocally supportive. They argue that the archive would improve public education, communication between scientists and the translation of biomedical advances into healthcare. Zerhouni last week dismissed some of the publishers' fears, accusing them of releasing "misinformation" about the impact on subscriptions....The NIH is scheduled to submit a final version of the policy to Congress by 1 December, but Zerhouni says that the flood of comments makes it almost certain that this deadline will slip.'

More on Kahle v. Ashcroft

John Borland, Court nixes lawsuit fighting copyright law,, November 24, 2004. Excerpt: 'A lawsuit brought by a group of Internet archivists against recent congressional actions expanding copyright protections has been dismissed by a federal judge. The case was led by Net pioneer Brewster Kahle, whose most recent Internet Archive project aims to make a huge digital archive of Web sites and other media. The court's ruling, issued late last week, marks another setback for a movement of activists and scholars against expanding legal protections for artistic works. Kahle and his allies contended that Congress' lengthening of copyright-protection terms --even when an author's work didn't request further protection-- had radically transformed traditional copyright law. They asked the courts to rule that much of this recent copyright law change was illegal, which potentially could have opened up large amounts of books, movies and music created in the 1960s and 1970s to public domain use....Kahle and another public domain-based archive had sought to distribute so-called orphan works, or books and other works that were still under copyright but no longer in print or available to the public. That was not possible under the recent round of copyright extensions, they said. Kahle said Wednesday that the decision would be appealed, and that they had always planned to fight the primary battle in the appellate courts. The court had not directly addressed what he said was the primary thrust of the case--a change in laws to automatically renew copyrights, instead of requiring copyright holders to reregister, he said. "The key component of the district court ruling is that the judge did not consider the main aspect of this case, which is the changing of the contour of copyright law from opt in to opt out," Kahle said. "That has dramatically changed what's under copyright, and even more ominously, changes the nature of what can be put on the Internet."' For background, see the Stanford Law School page on the case.

More on Google Scholar

Mark Chillingworth, Google unveils beta Scholar, Information World Review, November 29, 2004. Excerpt: 'Information professionals have responded to the new service by airing concerns that Scholar confines the role of librarian to the dustbin. But Jan Velterop, BioMed Central publisher, believes they should embrace it. "It offers a future for them building repositories. With Google Scholar, repositories can disseminate information, which is essentially what a library is," he said. Google Scholar looks like being a bigger headache to A&I services like ISI Web of Knowledge and the newly-launched Scopus from Elsevier. The Dutch publisher was sanguine about its new rival. Marike Westra, Elsevier communications manager, thought it presented no challenge at all: "Scopus is designed for librarians and researchers." BioMed?s Velterop countered: "This is a threat to Scopus, it is better and it is free."...Google Scholar could be the key to institutional repository growth. "It makes them easier to find and to see how repositories can be a good resource," Velterop said. "It points to a future where repositories can be linked and validated, which is a boost to OA and the way science works." OA publishers such as BioMed Central see Google Scholar as a major ally for their cause. Velterop said: "It's a huge boost to the drive to provide open access research."

Error correction and OA for bioinformatics data

Lee E. Eiden, A Two-Way Bioinformatic Street, Science Magazine, November 26, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). An editorial. Excerpt: 'The rapid emergence of Web-based bioinformatics systems reflects the research community's attempts to embrace the biological complexity uncovered by high-throughput genome, transcriptome, and proteome data acquisition and the sheer size of the modern scientific endeavor. If information systems can match this complexity, biology will be enriched as a result. If not, scientific excitement may paradoxically be dampened by data flow....A primary ingredient for massive exchange of information among multiple bioinformatics tools and databases is curator tagging of input information to enable proofreading and data correction....Coupling a robust curator/user interface with the obligate entry of signaling data into a centralized repository upon publication, analogous to obligate submission of new DNA sequence information, is one way to combine greater intensity of curator/user interaction with increased database population, fostering greater data reliability. This might help both to accelerate the growth of cell signaling bioinformatics and to increase genuine open access to the knowledge derived from taxpayer-supported research.'

Libraries and OA

Jean-Michel Salaün, Libre accès aux ressources scientifiques et place des bibliothèques, Bulletin des bibliothèques de France, November 28, 2004. In French with this English-language abstract: 'Free access to scientific resources and the role of libraries In the field of scientific publishing, the movement for open archives has led to changes which the author of the article analyses from four points of view. The first highlights the relationship between libraries and publishing and its destabilisation due to digitization. A more historical approach identifies the contribution of three parallel movements: the development of the web, the saturation of the publishing industry and international scientific politics. An approach per discipline gives an overview of ongoing evolution. Finally an economic approach puts the accent on added value from the various players, its remuneration and the limits of the consideration afforded to available documents.'

Mexico Statement on Health Research

The Ministerial Summit on Health Research met in Mexico City on November 16-20, 2004, and issued the Mexico Statement on Health Research. Excerpt from the statement: 'We the Ministers of Health and other participants from 58 countries...[are] conscious of the need to...[p]romote access to reliable, relevant, and up-to-date evidence on the effects of interventions, based on systematic reviews of the totality of available research findings...[and] call for action by...[a]ll major stakeholders, facilitated by WHO secretariat, to establish a platform linking a network of international clinical trials registers to ensure a single point of access and the unambiguous identification of trials [and] [a]ll major stakeholders to strengthen or to establish activities to communicate, improve access to, and promote the use of reliable, relevant, unbiased, and timely health information.' For more information see the WHO page on the summit meeting, Kamran Abbasi's editorial in BMJ expressing disappointment that the summit did not accomplish more, and Barbara Kiser and Priya Shetty's news story for SciDev.Net.

More on the Review on Access to Health Information

The November issue of the INASP Newsletter is devoted to the Global Review on Access to Health Information in Developing Countries. All the articles are relevant to OA. Excerpt from Neil Pakenham-Walsh and Fred Bukachi's introduction to the issue: 'This special issue of the INASP Newsletter is dedicated to the "Global Review on Access to Health Information in Developing Countries", a major initiative proposed by representatives of 20 leading health organisations worldwide (see box on inside cover). The Review aims to assess progress over the last 10 years, lessons learned and ways forward to improve access to relevant healthcare information. The Global Review started with the publication of a discussion paper in The Lancet (July 2004). The paper points out that much has been achieved over the last 10 years, but that the majority of the world's healthcare providers remain isolated from the information they need. It suggests "the system" isn't working and emphasises the need for greater understanding. It says a Global Initiative is required to address information needs and it calls on WHO to champion the road to "Universal Access to essential health information by 2015"....We invite you to join us and over 1500 other professionals worldwide who are committed to improve access and use of relevant health information in developing countries. To follow progress join "HIF-net at WHO" (Health Information Forum-net at WHO): send an email to with your name, organisation and a brief description of professional interests.'

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Preview of public comments on the NIH plan

Jocelyn Kaiser, NIH Flooded with comments on public access proposal, Science Magazine, November 28, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'NIH received about 6000 comments by the 16 November deadline. A brief review of the first batch of 800 or so--the only ones NIH made available by press time--indicates support from librarians, patient advocates, teachers, and individual scientists. But although some major research organizations back NIH's proposal, many scientific societies and commercial publishers have called for NIH to delay or scrap it. NIH has tallied a preliminary count based on 95% of the responses submitted on a Web form. NIH officials caution against drawing conclusions because large organizations only got a single vote, and some people didn't answer all the questions. Of those who did, however, four of five clicked "agree" to the concept that research results should be freely available.'