Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, December 11, 2004

New OA journal

Early in 2005, the Indian Association of Gastrointestinal Endosurgeons will launch a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal, the Journal of Minimal Access Surgery (JMAS). JMAS will not, apparently, charge author-side fees for accepted papers. From the web site: 'The JMAS, a quarterly publication, will be the first English-language journal from India, as also from this part of the world, dedicated to Minimal Access Surgery. The JMAS boasts an outstanding editorial board comprising of Indian and international experts in the field. The mission of the JMAS is to publish peer-reviewed articles in the fields of laparoscopic and thoracoscopic surgery, laparoscopic urology and gastrointestinal endoscopy. Although the Journal strives to publish quality articles submitted from around the world, there will be a strong emphasis on showcasing Minimal Access Surgery as practiced in the developing world. The JMAS looks forward to receiving the best of the material from centres around India and Asia.' (Thanks to D.K. Sahu.)

Putting the NIH plan into a larger context

Daithí Ó hAnluain, Calls for Open Access Challenge Academic Journals, Online Journalism Review, December 10, 2004. Excerpt: 'It was a bad year for scholarly science publishing. Next year could be worse. This year pressure mounted on publishers to increase access to research. In January, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development issued a declaration endorsed by 34 countries, that more effort was needed to broaden access to publicly funded research. In June the European Commission launched an investigation into the scientific, technical and medical publishing (STM) market. In July, a parliamentary committee in the United Kingdom published a report (PDF) that criticized many science-publishing practices. It urged funding agencies to mandate that publicly funded research be available in public archives. Now the National Institutes of Health wants the results of research it funds to be publicly available, for free, six months after publication in a peer reviewed scientific journal. At $28 billion last year alone, the NIH is the largest single funder of medical research in the world, generating over 60,000 articles a year....Across the world politicians, academics, librarians and patients are calling for greater access to the scientific record. So far, science publishers have resisted pressure to extend access any more than incrementally. The NIH plan increases that pressure....Moreover, the NIH is just one source of the 1.2 million articles published by scientific, medical and technical (STM) journals each year. But it does mark the beginning of a potentially seismic shift in the scholar-publisher relationship. Congress backed the NIH plan, signalling that politicians want public access to publicly funded research, potentially inspiring other governments to take similar action. (PS: This is one of the best attempts I've seen by the mainstream press to put the NIH plan into a larger context. I take issue only with the opening sentence, which presupposes that "science publishing" is limited to publishers who oppose open access.)

Update. Thanks to the flexibility of the Online Journalism Review, Daithí was allowed to change the opening sentence to this: 'It was a bad year for commercial scholarly science publishing.'

Firefox plugins for OA lit in classics

Ross Scaife has made some Firefox search plugins for open-access sites in classics.

Rising prices v. OA in Germany

Christiane Schulzki-Haddouti, Wissen wird wieder teurer, Berliner Zeitung, November 30, 2004. On the rising price of access to scientific literature in Germany and open access as an alternative. Schulzki-Haddouti makes clear that in Germany the problem is not just rising journal prices. It's also German copyright law and how German publishers are using it to shut down Subito, the inexpensive, publicly-funded document-delivery service. (Thanks to Netbib.)

More on the NIH plan

From a blog posting today by McPlunk: '[Deposit in PubMed Central has become] only a "recommendation" not a order that "grantees or smaller or not-for-profit publishers will [not] be harmed." Oh, were those the journals that got Neuroscience Conference participants to write in the NIH. Or was it the publishing giant Elsevier? Scientists really need to get organized around this issue. We all live in a "publish or perish" world, and these for-profit journals know this. I am so disappointed in the NIH for not adopting a stronger position.'

OA science journals is the hottest of hot topics

In October, the ACRL Science and Technology Section, the American Society for Engineering Education Engineering Libraries Division, and the Special Libraries Association Science-Technology Division co-sponsored a survey on the "hot topics" among sci-tech librarians. The preliminary results show that "open access journals in the sciences" is #1. (Thanks to EngLib.)

OA archiving in developing countries

Leslie Chan and Sely Costa, Participation in the global knowledge commons : challenges and opportunities for research dissemination in developing countries. A preprint. Abstract: 'Due to improving Internet connectivity and a growing number of international initiatives, knowledge workers in developing countries are now getting access to scholarly and scientific publications and electronic resources at a level that is unmatched historically. This is highly significant, particularly in areas of medicine, agricultural and environmental sciences, and development literature that are much needed if developing countries are to meet the Millennium Development Goals. At the same time, the Open Access movement and the growing number of Open Archive Initiative (OAI) compliant institutional repositories promise to provide even greater access to resources and scientific publications that were previously inaccessible. These low cost technology and interoperability standards are also providing great opportunities for libraries and publishers in developing countries to disseminate local research and knowledge and to bridge the South-North knowledge gap. This article reviews these recent trends, discusses their significance for information access in developing countries, and provides recommendations for knowledge workers on how to actively participate in and contribute to the global knowledge commons.' (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

Friday, December 10, 2004

Cerebrospinal Fluid Research -- new OA journal

Cerebrospinal Fluid Research is the 64th (these are getting to be large numbers) independent, Open Access journal hosted by BioMed Central. This title seemed to be gestating for quite a while, but has debuted with a substantial set of initial articles (an editorial, a commentary, two review papers, and two research articles). From the initial editorial:
Cerebrospinal Fluid Research is an open access, online journal that publishes manuscripts on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in health and disease in the broadest sense. The CSF, its composition, circulation and absorption play vital roles in normal and abnormal brain function. The CSF is important for normal chemical signaling, physical and chemical buffering, and for neurodevelopment. In disease states, the CSF impacts on neurodevelopmental disorders such as hydrocephalus and neural tube defects, brain inflammation, brain injury and repair, normal pressure hydrocephalus and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis. The CSF can be used as a tool for diagnosis, through composition analysis, and as a window for drug delivery to the brain.
Cerebrospinal Fluid Research - Fulltext v1+ (2004+); ISSN: 1743-8454. All BioMed Central Open Access journals address the LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) concept through permanent archiving arrangements with PubMed Central, at the University of Potsdam in Germany, at INIST in France and in e-Depot, the National Library of the Netherlands' digital archive.

Latest issue of Serials Review devoted to OA

The newest issue of Serials Review (vol. 30, no. 4) is devoted to open access. David Goodman was the special editor for this issue, which contains 12 major articles on the subject. The issue will be free online for 9-12 months. Thanks and congratulations to David. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

New OA journal; new economic model

The Online Journal of Nanotechnology will be a joint effort of Pty. Ltd. and the Institute of Nanotechnology.
The revenue received from the journal related advertising and sponsorship will be distributed according to the following general criteria: * Authors receive a revenue share of 50%. * Peer reviewers receive a revenue share of 20%. * The site administrators receive a revenue share of 30%. * This revenue share will apply throughout the on-line published life of the individual article or paper.
(Thanks to Randy Reichardt and The Sci-Tech Library Question?)

OA gains momentum

Howard Falk, Open access gains momentum, The Electronic Library, 22, 6 (2004) pp. 527-530. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'Journals being offered for open access have been on the increase for over a decade, growing to around 1,200 journals to date. Authors wishing to be published are charged a publication fee, and their papers are made available without any charge to the public. However, journals in the scientific and scholarly field, a total of approximately 25,000, are rarely offered for open access. International pressure from scientists wishing to unblock the barriers that stop the dissemination of research results has caused a rift with publishers, who fear a decrease in publishing revenues.' (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

OA in classics

Ross Scaife, Taking a wrong turn at the APA, The Stoa Consortium, December 8, 2004. Excerpt: 'An earlier post to this blog summarizes new NEH-funded work on the problems of digitizing Latin incunabula. The project will disseminate its results very broadly, through publication of data on freely accessible sites like Perseus and in other university digital libraries, application of extremely liberal Creative Commons licenses to program code, and so forth. In taking this approach, Rydberg-Cox and his colleagues have lots of company: a strong consensus has long since formed among classicists with the greatest relevant expertise that Open Access methods represent "best practice" in our field. Experiences from a full decade of scholarly electronic publication online have demonstrated that we can now reach a huge international audience that’s eager for the resources (texts, images, tools, analyses) we can make available concerning the ancient world. Against that background, the recent APA [American Philological Association] decision to create a members-only portion of its web site strikes me as an obvious mistake. I believe that what the APA has done represents an unimaginative and inadequate response to the opportunities afforded us in our networked world.' (PS: In the members-only section, APA members can find the APA journal, which members already receive in print form, book-discount offers, and certain documents and details for future APA business meetings.)

Guide to scholarly search engines

Marcus Zillman, Academic and Scholar Search Engines and Sources, December 3, 2004. An extensive (32 page) collection of annotated links, in PDF format.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Particle & Fibre Toxicology -- new OA journal

BioMed Central's 63rd independent Open Access journal has debuted.
Particle and Fibre Toxicology is aimed at bringing together multi-disciplinary research findings towards a better understanding of how particles and fibres adversely affect the lungs and the body generally.
Particle and Fibre Toxicology - Fulltext v1+ (2004+); ISSN: 1743-8977.

Zerhouni on the NIH public access policy

Elias Zerhouni, NIH Public Access Policy, Science Magazine, December 10, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'A new National Institutes of Health public access draft policy is raising a tremendous amount of interest in the scientific, patient, and publishing communities. I would like to clarify what the proposed policy is, describe its rationale, and explain why the NIH thinks this is a reasonable, balanced policy that will serve all interests....Some are concerned that grantees or smaller or not-for-profit publishers will be harmed. This is why NIH elected to leave the decision to submit the author’s copy to PMC in the hands of the investigators and their publishers. We believe that this aspect, combined with the 6-month window, will preserve the critical role of journals and publishers in peer review, editing, and scientific quality control....The Internet is used increasingly to search for health-related information. For example, about 93 million Americans searched for at least 1 of 16 health topics online within the past year (4). In a 2003 survey, 58% of Internet users said they brought information obtained from the Internet to their doctor’s office (5). Now, research information is largely available only to scientists, clinicians, patients, and educators through personal subscriptions or at academic and hospital libraries. It is important for NIH to provide the public access to an electronic archive of the findings resulting from publicly funded research.' Elias Zerhouni is the Director of the NIH.

More on patientINFORM

Bernard Wysocki, Jr., Medical Publishers Propose Data Sharing, Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'Alarmed by a government proposal to make biomedical journal articles more widely and freely available [PS: the NIH public access plan], the scientific publishing industry has crafted an alternative plan to distribute some of its content free of charge to consumers. A consortium of leading technical publishers is expected to announce today [PS: now announced] a plan [PS: patientINFORM] to allow three patient-advocacy groups to select hundreds of timely journal articles, and to make the content available through the groups' Internet sites. The organizations are the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, and American Heart Association. The publishers include the Elsevier unit of Reed Elsevier PLC, John Wiley & Sons, Blackwell Publishing, and others....'We're getting a bad rap for not having original research information available to the general public,' says Brian Crawford, a vice president at Wiley who helped create the new plan." ' (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

Open access financial resource

Moneyscience Financial Intelligence Network. From the front page: "An open-access resource for academics and practitioners working in finance and economics, physics, applied mathematics and computing. MoneyScience aims to provide the web's most comprehensive aggregation in the field of quantitative finance." (Source: Marcus Zillman)

More on patientINFORM

Some supporters of the NIH public access plan have issued a press release raising questions about the forthcoming patientINFORM program. Excerpt: 'Rick Johnson, the Director of SPARC, and also a member of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, said, "Every effort to make credible research available to the public is a step in the right direction. However, given the current climate of positive change, this one is too little too late. It emerges from the publishing interests, not the patients, and will add only a select portion of taxpayer-funded research for public consumption. It is ironic that this limited experiment has only now emerged after a majority of public interest and patient advocates already have weighed in to support the NIH enhanced public access program."...Patient advocate Robert Reinhard, board member of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, said, "This is a troubling proposal. It appears to discriminate among people with different illnesses without justification. It would create a group of those who are 'in' and those with other illnesses who are excluded. In addition, many patients are scientifically savvy. Although well prepared lay explanations are always welcome, the proposal fails to respect all patients' direct right to know or their power to comprehend." "We worry about any attempts to confuse an overdue outreach effort by journal publishers with enlightened public policy," Johnson added. "This can be a positive move, but it does not begin to approach the public benefit that comes from having an electronic archive of publicly funded research available at the National Library of Medicine. The NIH PubMed Central archive is and remains the gold standard for how to make trusted, taxpayer-supported research accessible to more American families. It is well past time to settle for half-measures and half-hearted and regrettably patronizing attempts." '

Conference presentations

The presentations from the conference, Access 2004, Beyond Buzzwords (Halifax, October 13-16, 2004), are now online. The presentations from the preconference, Institutional Repositories: The Future is Now, are online at the institutional repository section of the University of Calgary repository. (Thanks to Science Library Pad.)

AMA resolution to promote open exchange of sponsored research

Katherine Mangan, Medical Association Calls for End to Confidentiality Demands by Research Sponsors, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 9, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'The American Medical Association approved a resolution this week that aims to eliminate from research contracts the confidentiality clauses that prevent medical scientists from communicating their findings in clinical trials. The resolution, which was approved unanimously by the association's House of Delegates, "will make it easier for physician-researchers to discuss both the methodology and the outcome of clinical trials with their professional colleagues," without first having to get the permission of the company that paid for the research, said David G. Fassler, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont and a practicing psychiatrist. "Ultimately, it will enhance the open exchange of ideas and information, which is the very foundation of scientific research and medical practice," added Dr. Fassler, who worked on the resolution.'

Comprehensive guide to open content licenses

Lawrence Liang, A Guide To Open Content Licences, Piet Zwart Institute, December 2004. From the Introduction: 'In recent years copyright has moved away from being an esoteric and technical legal subject to one that affects musicians, designers, artists, students, authors, ordinary consumers, and more generally any one involved in any way in cultural production. Copyright stories assault us everyday in our newspapers, our emails and in the next few years, will play a very important role in determining the way we think of creativity; either in terms of property or in terms of collaboration. It is an issue in which content creators have a vital stake and certainly too important an issue to leave to the lawyers alone. This booklet serves as an introduction to the world of "open content licensing", a paradigm that is rapidly emerging as an important alternative to the existing model of copyright. The world of open content licensing (which we shall consider in detail as we go along) has great benefits for a large number of people. You could for instance be: ...A scholar, critic or essayist who wants his writing to be publicly accessible, to schools, libraries and the general public instead of signing over copyrights to academic journal and book publishers who normally do not pay their authors, but make public institutions pay a lot of money for these publications.' (PS: Readers of this blog will already understand the concept. But if you're bewildered by the sheer variety of open content or OA licenses, this guide is comprehensive, up-to-date, and clear.)

Debate on OA

Irrweg oder Notausgang? Börsenblatt, December 9, 2004. A debate on open access (in German) between Dietrich Goetze, former publisher at Springer, and Ulrich Korwitz, Director of the Deutschen Zentralbibliothek für Medizin in Köln. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

OA to German education research

Sandra Schaffert, Kostenlose Online-Literatur der Bildungsforschung, P@psych, April 3, 2004. In German but with this English-language abstract: 'A milestone in the short history of scientific publishing on the World Wide Web is the publication of the first scientific journal twenty years ago. Currently, a movement is forming that demands open access to texts in scientific journals. After giving a sketch about the history of online publishing and a short introduction to the open access movement and its goals, this text provides an overview about recent online literature concerning educational research in German language which is available for free. It can serve as a base for own literature research. The main focus of this documentation is on online journals in their different forms: retrospective digitising, parallel edition of a print version, or pure online journal.' (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Claudia Koltzenburg is blogging the Cologne Summit on OA

Claudia Koltzenburg is at the Cologne Summit on Open Access Publishing (Cologne, December 7-8, 2004), blogging her observations. Part I of her blog report is now online, summarizing the presentations (and much of the Q&A following the presentations) of Friedrich Bode, David Prosser, Mark McCabe, Barbara Cohen, Stevan Harnad, Donald King, Sally Morris, Tim Brody, Frank Gannon, Jan Velterop, Derk Haank, and Hans Reinauer. Thanks, Claudia!

More on patientINFORM

As previously announced, a group of leading US voluntary health organisations and international publishers are planning a new initiative called patientINFORM, intended to allow patients direct access to Latest Research. Cynics might see this as an attempt by publishers to head off the accusation that they deny the public access to original research. Whatever the skepticism, there is a question and a concern about this initiative. Firstly the question. Since many papers in peer reviewed journals are flawed in some way will patientINFORM critically appraise papers before publicising them? Secondly the concern. Even where they are accurate individual papers alone are not the best basis for informed choice. Wouldn't it be more useful if the initiative focused on publicising the findings of systematic reviews? (And shouldn't they be made freely available to the public?)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Upcoming launch of patientINFORM announced

A group of voluntary health organizations and scientific publishers today announced next year's launch of patientINFORM. From the press release: 'Scheduled to launch as a pilot project in Spring 2005, patientINFORM is a free, online service dedicated to disseminating original medical research directly to consumers. A collaborative effort of leading voluntary health organizations, scholarly and medical publishers, medical societies, and information professionals, patientINFORM will provide patients and their caregivers with online access to up-to-date, reliable research for specific diseases. Participating voluntary health organizations will integrate the information into materials created for patients and link to free full-text research articles and additional selected material on journal websites....This groundbreaking initiative is being driven by recent trends indicating that public awareness of clinical research, heightened by media coverage and fueled by the spread of broadband Internet, has led more and more patients to go online to find the latest information about treatment options. Still, even many knowledgeable consumers can find it difficult to fully understand, evaluate, and make sound decisions based on what they learn from their Internet research. "The health literacy problem has been called a 'silent epidemic' because many patients are embarrassed or intimidated and do not seek help to understand difficult or complicated information. The result is that a crucial part of their medical care is missing, and so they put their health at risk," said Richard Kahn, Ph.D., chief scientific and medical officer of the American Diabetes Association.'

OA archiving with Eprints software

Madhuresh Singhal and Francis Jayakanth, Archiving scientific literature : an experience with e-prints archive software, an essay in S. Parthan et al. (eds.) Proceedings in Information Management in e-Libraries, Kharagpur (India), 2002, pp. 321-334. The OA edition was deposited in RCLIS just this month. Abstract: 'The world of academic publishing is undergoing many changes. Paper based publishing is being supplemented by electronic archives. In certain areas, preprint distribution has completely moved away from the paper-based system in to a fully electronic system called eprints, based on open archives., hosted by Los Alamos National Laboratory, is considered the premier example of such e-print archives in the area of physics research. The Open Archive Initiative (OAI) develops and promotes interoperability solutions that facilitate the efficient dissemination of contents amongst the different e-print archives. The e-prints or electronic pre-prints provide an almost wholly automated and highly efficient organizational framework and distribution mechanism, which is web based. E-print software, developed by the electronic and Computer Science Department at the University of Southampton ( is one such tool, which helps us to build e-prints archive. In this paper, we have discussed the implementation of this software by archiving couple of papers published in the Journal of Indian Institute of Science.' (Thanks to ResearchBuzz.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The freedom to publish

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has issued a bargaining advisory on The Freedom to Publish [and] The Freedom to Disclose Risks. Excerpt: 'A commitment to the unfettered transmission of knowledge is a core value in the academic community. Scholarship, education and research are best served by the unconstrained sharing of information. This openness has been challenged at various times by religious, political, state and commercial interests. Today, with growing concerns about terrorism, there is a resurgence in demands for research secrecy from the state. As universities and colleges are increasingly encouraged to commercialize, pressure is also growing to accommodate the private sector need for secrecy – a need arising from a desire to deter competition, suppress negative product information or ensure patentability of research results....CAUT recommends that the following clause be negotiated into your collective agreement.

Freedom to Publish

The University is an open environment for the pursuit of scholarly work. Academic freedom and critical inquiry depend on the communication of the findings and results of intellectual investigation. The Employer shall not interfere with a member's freedom to publish the results of scholarly inquiry and research, except for limitations imposed by duly constituted university research ethics boards.

The Employer shall not enter into or administer any research requiring permission or approval of government, industry or other sponsors for the researchers to publish the results of their work. The only exception shall be a publication delay of no more than sixty days from the conclusion of a research project to allow the statutory protection of intellectual property.

More on the NIH plan

Dee Ann Divis, NIH moves closer to open access, United Press International, December 6, 2004. Excerpt: 'The House also would have required researchers to submit their articles, not just request a copy, as NIH plans to do. The distinction makes little difference, said Howard Garrison, director of the Office of Public Affairs at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Though not all FASEB societies feel strongly about the NIH proposal, many oppose it. "Certainly 'request' is much better than 'require,'" Garrison told United Press International. But "when you are dealing with your funding agency, it is hard to see that as a request." Some members of Garrison's organization and others in the community are worried the landscape will continue to change. Many are concerned other research funding organizations will follow NIH's lead and mandate open publication of their affiliated journal articles. NIH funds only 10 percent of biomedical research, but policy changes at a handful of key organizations could put large swaths of research into open forums. As far Sharon Terry is concerned, that would be fine. Terry, president and CEO of the Genetic Alliance, is a leading advocate of free access. Though she now is a high-profile patient advocate, and has been promised access to any article by publishers, she still has trouble, she said. "[The publishers] claim that anybody with a personal need would get the article," Terry told UPI. "When I talk to the people in the support groups I work with, they are surprised at [the promise of access], because that is not an obvious thing on any of these Web sites ... The few times that we did try that we did not hear back." Terry said the current process creates "huge problems. In the last week I've tried 30 times the access articles I couldn't get ... It's over and over a problem for us."'

Péter Jacsó reviews Google Scholar

Péter Jacsó reviews Google Scholar in the December issue of Péter's Reference Shelf. Excerpt: 'Google Scholar has enormous gaps in its coverage of publishers' archives, and implicitly in the direct links to the full-text documents therein. The citedness scores of documents displayed in the results lists have great potential for choosing the most promising articles and books on a subject, but they often are inflated. The prominent display of the citedness scores could help the scholars and practitioners whose libraries don't have access to the best citation-based systems, such as Web of Science and Scopus, or to the smartest implementations of citation-enhanced abstracting indexing databases, like some on CSA and EBSCO. Google should take a page from the best open-access services and repositories, such as CiteBase, Research Index and RePEc/LogEc, which handle citing and cited references and citedness scores much better than Google Scholar. Google's crawlers, which many scholarly publishers and preprint servers let in to their archives for this project, picked up information for many redundant and irrelevant pages and ignored a few million full-text scholarly papers and/or their citation/abstract records. With the exception of the authors' name field, Google treated the items in the huge archives as any of the zillions of unstructured pages on the Web. Google Scholar needs much refinement in collecting, filtering, processing and presenting this valuable data....I promise that I will write a hagiographic review about Google Scholar when it is done, and done well.'

Monday, December 06, 2004

Online access to American Journal of Human Genetics

Ramune Kabilius (Galter Health Sciences Library, Northwestern) reminded me that the publisher's archive of American Journal of Human Genetics becomes freely available six months after publication.
American Journal of Human Genetics - Fulltext v60(6)+ (June 1997+) 6 month moving wall (UChicago Press) | Fulltext v70-72(2) (2002-February 2003) (PubMed Central); Print ISSN: 0002-9297 | Online ISSN: 1537-6605.
PubMed Central has a very limited collection at the moment, but it will outstrip the University of Chicago Press collection in the not too distant future. The PMC back issue scanning project will eventually produce free content back to the initial issue of the title.

OA to law in developing countries

Daniel Poulin, Open access to law in developing countries, First Monday, December 2004. Abstract: 'Securing a widespread and, whenever possible, free, access to legal information has become important everywhere. Open access has higher stakes in developing countries where access to law is often difficult. In this particular context, free access to statutes and case law could significantly contribute to a better establishment of the rule of law and an overall consolidation of national legal institutions. Never before have better conditions existed for a wider circulation of law. The Internet and related technologies have dramatically revolutionized the possibilities of cheaply providing high–quality, low–cost access to national legal documentation. In this article, elements of a strategy aimed at developing open access to law in developing countries are put forth.'

Immaterial? Hardly ...

Open Access to Online Journals Critical for Scientific Advancement, MRS Bulletin, October 2004, 679-681. E. Todd Ryan argues in a letter that publisher's restrictive subscription costs and access policies hinder scientists in keeping up with the literature, and he urges the Materials Research Society (MRS) to adopt an open access policy. Steven C. Moss of the MRS responds with a discussion of OA's pros and cons and speculation on what the MRS should do. The link leads to a .pdf file; scroll one page to access the letters on OA.

David Prosser on the UK report and government response

David Prosser has two articles in the December issue of High Energy Physics Libraries Webzine: (1) Science and Technology Committee Report on Scientific Publications and (2) Science and Technology Committee Report on Scientific Publications - The UK Government's Response. Excerpt from the second: 'In what may be the most important sentence in the response, the Government noted that 'Many of the issues raised in the Select Committee Report are being taken forward by bodies funded either through Government or their agencies.' So, while refusing to directly take up any of the recommendations, the Government is not stopping those initiates towards widening access being advanced by its agencies. In particular, two agencies are working towards open access. The first is Research Councils, UK (RCUK), which acts as a representative body of the seven UK Research Councils (which together spend over £2 billion each year on research). RCUK is currently working on a policy for access to the research literature for publication early in 2005. There is nothing in the Government's response to stop the Research Councils from making it mandatory for researchers to deposit their papers in local repositories.'

OA in Cuba

Ricardo Arencibia Jorge and and two co-authors, Cuban Science and the Open Access Alternative, High Energy Physics Libraries Webzine, December 2004. Abstract: 'Science in Cuba has experienced extraordinary development since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, in spite of the blockade to which Cuba has been subjected by the United States Government, and thanks to the support and cooperation of the countries that were part of the former Socialist Block. However, after the destruction of the Socialist Block, the Cuban economy suffered through a restructuring process that included the reorganization of the traditional systems for spreading scientific information. At that moment, it was necessary to use alternative means to effectively publicise, to the international scientific community, the information generated by Cuban scientists and scholars. This paper briefly reviews this new era, the institutions that led the process of change, and the future projections based on knowledge of the digital environment and the creation of electronic and open access information sources.'

Sunday, December 05, 2004

More on OA to weather data

Daniel Terdiman, Weather Data for the Masses, Wired News, December 4, 2004. Excerpt: 'The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this week began providing weather data in an open-access XML format, alleviating concerns that commercial providers would continue to play a dominant role in how weather data gets to the public. Previously, the data was technically available to the public, but in a format that's not easily deciphered. Taxpayers fund the NOAA and the subsidiary National Weather Service, which gathers weather data from thousands of locations and uses massive computing firepower to predict the weather. Commercial weather providers like AccuWeather and The Weather Channel then massage the data, supplement it with their own and turn it into consumer-friendly websites and TV weather segments. The commercial weather providers make more than $1 billion in revenue each year from sales to media, transportation companies, farmers and financial traders, according to Barry Myers, AccuWeather's executive vice president. That arrangement rankled some. "The public should not have to pay twice for access to basic government information that has been created at taxpayer expense," wrote Ari Schwartz, an associate director of the nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology, in a July 28, 2004, essay....Earlier this year, NOAA made the data available in XML as a test, called the National Digital Forecast Database. After receiving comments from the public and commercial providers, the agency made the decision permanent this week. Now anyone can get information in an XML format directly from the National Digital Forecast Database website. "There was pressure on the National Weather Service not to make that information available," said Jamais Cascio, a writer for WorldChanging, an online pro-environment publication. But now "anyone with XML skills can build a reader," Cascio said. "It takes a minimal amount of XML knowledge to cobble together a weather program, and that's exciting."'

More on Google Scholar

Dan Box, Business Tools: Google Scholar, Times Online (Business Section), December 5, 2004. Excerpt: '[T]he team at Google has a touchingly innocent approach to convincing authors to grant access to their work for publication, free, on the internet. "Your work likely has great value to a number of people who may not know it exists," they write. "By including your articles in Google Scholar, others will be more likely to find them, learn from them, cite them and build on the foundation you have laid."'

(PS: Box's attempt at business-savvy condescension comes off as cluelessness about academic culture. Researchers write journal articles for impact. (Did Box think journals paid for them?) It doesn't matter whether researchers put the accent on advancing knowledge or advancing their own careers. Increasing their impact is serious business and the very best reason for researchers to provide OA to their work and to make sure it's indexed in visibility and retrieval tools like Google Scholar.)