Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Google's library project, the view from Yale

Laura Hartenberger, Google library returns no hits for Yale's books, The Yale Herald, January 14, 2005. Excerpt: 'Since October, excerpts from thousands of books from the world's largest libraries have been loaded onto the world's most popular search engine --but none of them have come from Yale....Although Yale is not among the schools involved in the project, its students stand to benefit from it by accessing certain online texts, and more generally, by having the prospect of a more unified university library community. Yale's Associate University Librarian, Ann Okerson, is content with Yale's currently passive role in the book digitization project. She views Google Print as a sign of cooperation between universities that could lead to future projects, potentially including Yale. "The fact that other peer institutions were able to come to agreement [with Google] signals that there can be a meeting of minds on digitization collaborations," she said. Though Okerson anticipates that Yale will contribute in some way to this online pooling of library resources in the future, she acknowledges that "it's too soon to know."'

More on the three new PLoS journals

John Blossom, in a blog posting yesterday in Shore Communications' Commentary: 'This adds some more comprehensive breadth to the PLoS offerings, but it it enough to tip the balance in favor of this particular flavor of Open Access? As much as there's an enormous amount of noise and open movement towards open access this year, there's still a lot of work to do on business models. The recently announced JISC financial support from the UK scientific community will certainly help to underwrite these efforts, and governmental underwriting may help to further seed author-fee publications - if publishing lobbyists don't choke off this vein of support. But there may come a day fairly soon when the cachet of ".org" begins to wear thin and organizations such as PLoS start to look for more substantial commercial models. This will probably mean less than full capitulation to the full-fee subscription models offered by existing journal publishers, but hopefully far more than the author-fee model, which neglects the inherent value of this content. There's lots of wiggle room to exploit the value of the content and its audience and still have the high sense of independent integrity that PLoS founders are seeking.'

(PS: I've read this several times and don't understand it. Why does Blossom think PLoS depends on the "cachet" of .org or that its current business model isn't "substantial"? Why wish to rely more on subscription models than upfront-funding models? How do OA journals "neglect the inherent value" of any content except, like other journals, by publishing some articles and not others? What's the "wiggle room" he mentions in the final sentence?)

More on the Google library project

Francine Fialkoff, Access by Google, Library Journal, January 15, 2005. An editorial. Excerpt: 'Is this initiative a boon or bane for publishers? One of my colleagues suggests the venture may be Google's way of putting pressure on publishers to digitize and make available all of their books online (many publishers are already on board to differing degrees with either new or backlist titles). Online excerpts like Amazon's Search Inside the Book feature have purportedly spurred sales, but it is not clear how putting backlist titles online, titles that account for a huge percentage of revenue, will affect trade book purchases. The impact is even more critical for the already financially strapped academic publishers, who rely on research institutions and scholars for monograph revenues. Another colleague suggests it may be time to buy stock in used book seller Alibris. Librarians can expect to hear more and louder chants of, "Why do we need libraries, anyhow, if everything is online?" The profession has grappled with that one for a long time. LJ's Librarian of the Year, Susan Nutter (on our cover), who has positioned her library at the center of the North Carolina State University campus, says, "I truly believe that you have to listen to [students and faculty] and do what they want….it's their library." Google's new effort only enhances the access librarians can give users, whether they are students or faculty, children or adults.'

More on the Google and IA book-digitizing projects

Andrew Albanese, Google To Digitize 15 Million Books, Library Journal, January 15, 2005. Excerpt: 'Dennis Dillon, associate university librarian at the University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin), called the program "brilliant." "A great leap forward," commented Michael Keller, head librarian at Stanford University --one of Google's partners in the project—noting that online book content has lagged far behind journal content....James Neal, Columbia University librarian, said, "It takes this bubbling pot of digitization water quickly to a boiling point."...Oxford University Press academic publisher Niko Pfund said he was cautiously optimistic: "Bottom line is that we're still creating and providing content --that's what we do-- vs. how that content is delivered, which is what we're talking about here. I can see that Google Print has great potential for generating additional print sales."...Google isn't the only game in town. Last month, the San Francisco–based not-for-profit Internet Archive ( announced partnerships with a number of international libraries as part of an ongoing effort launched in 2003 to scan books into "open access archives." Included are the Library of Congress, University of Toronto, and Carnegie Mellon University, as well as the Bibliotheca Alexandria in Egypt, Zhejiang University in China, and Netherlands-based European Archive. Supported by a range of public and private grants, the Internet Archive has pioneered digital archiving efforts for all formats, including audio and moving images. Currently, over one million public domain or "appropriately licensed" books have been committed to the archive, and over 27,000 are already available.'

Friday, January 14, 2005

Berlin 3 OA conference program

The provisional program for the Berlin 3 Open Access conference is now online. (PS: I normally publicize upcoming conferences only through my conference page and forum but I know that in this case many attendees and prospective attendees need this information ASAP.)

Al Gore, CC, and PLoS

Glenn Otis Brown, from a posting yesterday on the Creative Commons blog: 'A surprise visitor, one Al Gore, dropped in on our landlord and friend Mitch Kapor today, and we commoners took the opportunity to tell the former Vice President about Creative Commons and Science Commons. When Mark Resch presented Mr. Gore with a new Science Commons t-shirt and explained the concept, Gore said that it reminded him of something called the Public Library of Science. When we told him that PLoS is, indeed, under a Creative Commons license, he said, "Well, now, good for you." Nice guy, that Al Gore, and impressively in-the-know.'

More on the pricing crisis

The University of California Academic Council and university librarians have sent an open letter to UC faculty about journal price increases. Excerpt: 'Initial proposals from some of these publishers are at odds with both the extent and severity of UC’s budget situation and the seriousness of our purpose in pursuing a sustainable, long-term acquisition policy. These publishers uniformly derive their base subscription pricing for electronic journals from historical and outmoded campus expenditures for print materials; in addition, they often propose annual price increases that significantly outpace the Consumer Price Index. As you know, because of faculty action during the Elsevier negotiations, UC libraries achieved a multi-year agreement for access to over 1200 journal titles, lowered the base subscription cost, and eliminated the hyperinflation in the yearly price increases sought by the publisher. Now we ask you to support us in our resolve to say no to similar unfair or hyperinflationary price increases....The challenge is particularly troubling this year as we find ourselves negotiating subscription renewals for a large number of academic society publications. Over the past 15 years U.S. society journals have averaged 7.5% in yearly price increases, while, for the same time period, the Consumer Price Index has averaged a 3.1% yearly rise.1 Although there are notable exceptions - the American Physical Society lowered its journal prices this year - it appears that many societies are relying on similar hyperinflation library subscription price models....At the end of the day one simple fact remains: price increases at current levels are unacceptable and will restrict the number of scholarly publications available to each of us.' (PS: See my list of previous actions by the University of California system to combat rising journal prices.)

What digital scholarship needs

David Seaman, Scholars' Panel Explores Digital Scholarship Needs, CLIR Issues, January/February 2005. Excerpt: 'A basic problem for scholars who use digital resources is the lack of persistent identifiers --permanent and trusted Internet addresses-- for online objects....Another barrier to digital scholarship is the failure of faculty promotion and rewards structures to accommodate the shift from a print-based to a digital world of scholarly publishing and communications. "It is no accident that most humanists and social scientists working with digital media are post-tenure," one participant observed....While scholars at the DLF meeting favored the idea of having a long-term safe haven for their digital content (especially if it was curated by the library), they voiced concern about ownership rights to their work, how permissions would be managed, and what it would take to prepare material for a repository. They reemphasized that there was no link between the reuse of a scholarly asset and current faculty rewards systems. The scholars' reaction to sharable and harvestable metadata was far more positive. The creation of simple metadata records that can be harvested, such as those promoted by the Open Archives Initiative, is a first step toward building services that include records from many sites and arrange them in one service or portal. The scholars were interested in this mechanism as a way to help make their own work more visible and to gather references to related material.'

Thursday, January 13, 2005

More on the NIH public-access plan

Linda Watson, Enhanced Public Access to NIH Research Information: Implications for Open Access, Charleston Advisor, January 2005. Excerpt: 'While many publishers claimed that this proposal was hastily conceived, in fact, there is significant context for the principles behind it. First, is the NIH mission itself, which is “to uncover new knowledge that will lead to better health for everyone.” Second, Congress is very interested in protecting its investment in biomedical research, ensuring value to the American taxpayer, particularly as the NIH budget doubled over the past five years. Institutional researchers (and the journals who publish their work) have benefited significantly from this investment....One can also point to the example of GenBank in which researchers have openly shared information to the benefit of all for years, or to the scientific advances that were accelerated by the open sharing that characterized the Human Genome Project, and which permitted the rapid identification of the SARS virus. There is also context related to journals. In 1997, the National Library of Medicine transitioned access to MEDLINE from fee to free. This was highly praised in Congress as a significant step to making the results of research freely available to the American public and the world, although just the abstracts, not the full text. And in fact, the usage of MEDLINE, now integrated into PubMed, has skyrocketed over the intervening seven years to an estimated 677 million searches annually.'

ATA expresses disappointment at delay of NIH announcement

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has publicly released its January 11 letter to Dr. Elias Zerhouni expressing disappointment at the delay in the announccement of the NIH public-access plan. From the letter: 'We are deeply disappointed by the delay in today's scheduled NIH announcement of its policy on enhanced public access to NIH research. We cannot understand, given the vital interest and importance of this research, especially to Americans awaiting the medical innovation that this public investment fuels, that there is any reason to further delay statement of a clear and open NIH policy. The NIH's ability to stimulate outstanding intramural and external medical research has grown tremendously in the past several years, with the approval of Congress and the active support of many stakeholders. Surely NIH must pursue its entire research mission with a strong commitment to transparency and access....In recent years, NIH has been entrusted with vastly increased public resources to address needs that are critical to the American public. With this comes increased expectations that the NIH will act decisively to encourage immediate dissemination and use of its research. For NIH to hesitate in moving down this path, when Congress and the public clearly expect and deserve progress, would be truly disappointing. We again urge you to implement a policy that reflects the agency's clear obligation to provide timely and complete access to its research.'

Editorial in a new OA journal

Eric Scott Sills and two co-authors, Article processing charges, funding, and open access publishing, Journal of Experimental & Clinical Assisted Reproduction, 2005. Provisional abstract: 'Journal of Experimental & Clinical Assisted Reproduction is an Open Access, online, electronic journal published by BioMed Central; its entire contents are available to the scientific and medical community free of charge to all readers. Authors maintain the copyright to their own work, a policy facilitating dissemination of data to the widest possible audience without requiring permission from the publisher. This Open Access publishing model is subsidized by authors (or their institutions/funding agencies) in the form of a single L330 article processing charge (APC), due at the time of manuscript acceptance for publication. Payment of the APC is not a condition for formal peer review and does not apply to articles rejected after review. Additionally, this fee is waived for authors whose institutions are BioMed Central members or where genuine financial hardship exists. Considering ordinary publication fees related to page charges and reprints, the APC at Journal of Experimental & Clinical Assisted Reproduction is comparable to costs associated with publishing in some traditional print journals, and is less expensive than many. Implementation of the APC within this Open Access framework is envisioned as a modern research-friendly policy that supports networking among investigators, brings new research into reach rapidly, and empowers authors with greater control over their own scholarly publications.' (Thanks to George Porter, who would have blogged it himself if he hadn't been surfing from an airport.)

More on the delay of the NIH announcement

Ted Agres, 'Open access' announcement scuttled, The Scientist, January 13, 2005. Excerpt: 'The National Institutes of Health (NIH) abruptly cancelled a teleconference with director Elias A. Zerhouni scheduled for Tuesday (December 11 [PS: actually January 11]), at which he was to announce "a new policy designed to accelerate the public's access to published articles resulting from NIH-funded research."...NIH spokesman Don Ralbovsky yesterday refused to discuss why the planned announcement had been cancelled. But Bush administration officials were reportedly concerned that the controversy might become an issue during confirmation hearings of Michael O. Leavitt, nominated to become the new secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), of which NIH is a component. Leavitt is scheduled to appear next week before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, as well as the Senate Finance Committee. Officials at several biomedical research organizations yesterday said they had heard reports that the White House, concerned about Leavitt's confirmation, had instructed NIH to cancel the open-access policy announcement—a matter that was first reported by Washington Fax, a daily science policy news service. "I have to question their logic," said one association official, who did not wish to be named. "With all the issues Leavitt will face, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security privatization, why are they so concerned about open access? They already have a controversial draft proposal in place. Why wouldn't Leavitt be asked about that?"'

Creating information commons

Paul Lima, Information liberation: Exploring the promise of information commons, Content Institute, November-December 2004. Excerpt: 'While respecting the right of corporations to charge for information, some information professionals are calling for fewer restrictions on the distribution of information and are lobbying for, or actively participating in, the creation of information commons -- a new way of producing and sharing information, creative works and democratic discussions. Information commons are like information portals -- digital repositories of thematically related information. The information may include scholarly journals, medical and scientific research, Supreme Court arguments, marketing and business data, or even information pertaining to knitting, culture or alternative news. Instead of being run by corporations, information commons tend to be run in a collective manner by like-minded individuals -- associations or university departments for instance -- and they are accessible to all....The development of information commons will help restore the balance, says [Marjorie Heins, a former ACLU lawyer, founder of FEPP and fellow of the Brennan Center for Justice Democracy Program at NYU School of Law]. But it will take a collaboration as well as financial support from governments, foundations and even corporate coffers to build a healthy system of open archives and commons projects, particularly in the scientific community where peer review is required to validate information before it is published. The alternative might be more neatly packaged information, but it also means less information from fewer sources distributed only to those who can afford it, something [Nancy Kranich, former American Library Association president and FEPP senior research fellow] finds ironic. "I thought it was all about eyeballs. That the value of information was getting it out there." ' (Thanks to Shelflife.)

Another sign of the pricing crisis

The Harvard library is asking for a 2% above this year's budget, in order to counteract $2.3 million in cuts made the year before. Among the priorities for new money are journal and database licenses. For more detail, see the article in today's Harvard Crimison. (PS: If Harvard is having trouble, then every university is having trouble. We need a systemic solution that scales with growing knowledge.)

Will the Google library project add Purdue's engineering collection?

Gary Price, Is Google Ready to Ask More Libraries to Join Google Print Program? SearchDay, January 12, 2005. Excerpt: 'Is Google about to name another library as a member of the Google Print library digitization project? We haven't heard anything (but we're asking). The article: Google plans to enable students to search Purdue libraries in the university newspaper [reports] that Google has...requested a list of their collections. "James L. Mullins, dean of libraries, said Google has expressed interest in Purdue’s strengths regarding engineering and science and has requested a list of Purdue's collections." Btw, I'm surprised that the folks at the Googleplex just didn't search their own database (or a competitors) to find plenty of detailed info about what Purdue holds in their many library collections....Of course, Purdue's OPAC (online public access catalog) is also available on the web.'

Lessig commentary on Google library project

Lawrence Lessig, Let a Thousand Googles Bloom, Los Angeles Times, January 12, 2005. Lessig points out that much of the material Google would scan may be protected by copyright, which suggests necessary reforms to copyright law to enable such projects. (Source: Diglet)

Scirus and Google Scholar

Paula J. Hane, Getting "Scirus" About Scholarly Content, InfoToday Newslink, December 2004. Less a comparison of Scirus and Google Scholar than an interview with an Elsevier manager on the two services.

More on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Margaret Landesman, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Wants Libraries to do WHAT? Charleston Advisor, January 2005. On the fund-raising drive for the first-rate, open-access Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Excerpt: 'SEP's funding sources do not wish to become publishers. They fund start-ups....An established title of [SEP's] reputation has obvious appeal to publishers, reasonably priced and otherwise. This is where libraries absolutely have to get it right. We need to do whatever it takes to get SEP and other promising fledglings aloft and pointed in the direction of reasonably-priced nests....The partnership which has evolved to help SEP is a novel one. ICOLC (the International Coalition of Library Consortia), SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Research Coalition), Stanford University and Solinet have jointly made a plan to build a protected endowment (with guarantees and oversight) to permanently support an Open Access SEP. The idea (distinctly novel) is that every school in the world which has a philosophy department should put in money. In the U.S., the requested amount is $5,000 a year for 3 years for PhD institutions, $2,000 a year for MA ones, and $1,000 for BA institutions. This would raise $3 million. Stanford would raise another $1.25 million. That would do it....This is an idea which validates our ideals of both scholarship and librarianship in bringing to everyone, whether or not they can afford to pay, a high quality tool of permanent value....And if it gives us experience in developing possible models which will work in other situations that is a plus too. We need to invest in some risky new models. How else will we figure out which new models will fail and which will lead to long-term success?'

In the same issue, see the short piece by Edward N. Zalta, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: A Sketch of the Reasoning for Library Participation. Zalta is the editor of the SEP and succinctly makes the case for supporting a high-quality open-access resource.

Finally, in the same issue, see Heather Morrison's favorable review of SEP.

Improved filtering and current awareness at PubMed

PubMed now has a new feature called My NCBI, which adds user-defined filters and automatic email updates from saved searches. For more details, see yesterday's NLM Technical Bulletin.

Indian prime minister calls for increased public access to knowledge

National Knowledge Commission to rejuvenate institutions, Kaumudi Online, January 13, 2005. An unsigned news story. Excerpt: 'Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday announced setting up of a National Knowledge Commission to rejuvenate the country's 'knowledge institutions' and meet the challenges of the 21st century....The NKC, he said, would be shaped by a knowledge pentagon with areas for action to increase access to knowledge for public benefit, develop new concepts of higher education, rejuvenate Science and Technology institutions, enable application of knowledge by industry to enhance manufacturing competitiveness and encourage intensive use of knowledge-based services by government to empower citizens.' (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)

WAYS to bring about OA

Quirin Schiermeier, Science's next generation finds its own way, Nature, January 13, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'The idea of a global organization of young scientists was first conceived at the 1999 UNESCO World Conference on Science in Budapest, Hungary (see Nature 400, 100; 1999). The creation of WAYS [World Academy of Young Scientists] was then officially announced at 2003's World Science Forum in the Hungarian capital. The group's primary goal, says Gaell Mainguy, a French developmental biologist and the first president of WAYS, is to strengthen the voice of students and young researchers in both science and science-policy discussions at the global level....Candidate projects [for WAYS] online access to scientific literature....Serge Sawadogo, an immunologist from Burkina Faso...plans to build up free online access to journals for science students at the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso.'

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Why the NIH policy announcement was delayed

Bradie Metheny, NIH Public Access Publishing Policy Release Postponed, Washington Fax, January 12, 2005 (the article is not online). Excerpt: 'White House political strategy was behind the decision to postpone indefinitely an NIH teleconference set for January 11 to announce a new policy designed to accelerate the public's access to published articles resulting from NIH-funded research. The meeting was cancelled so controversy surrounding the policy would not slow down Senate confirmation hearings for Michael Leavitt, the President's nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services, sources close to the political and congressional affairs arm of the Administration said. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator and former Utah Governor Leavitt is schedule to appear before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee January 18. The Senate Finance Committee will consider his nomination separately on January 19.'

January issue of Learned Publishing

The January issue of Learned Publishing is now online. Only the TOC and abstracts are free online, at least so far. Here are the OA-related articles.

OpenURL to Google Scholar plugin

Openly Informatics has developed a Firefox plugin to add OpenURL support for Google Scholar. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

Call for a Canadian national digital library

Michael Geist, National Web library do-able, affordable, visionary, The Toronto Star, January 10, 2005. Excerpt: 'While the last decade centred on access to the Internet, the dominant issue this decade is focused on access to the content on the Internet. To address that issue, the federal government should again think big. One opportunity is to greatly expand the National Library of Canada's digital efforts by becoming the first country in the world to create a comprehensive national digital library. The library, which would be fully accessible online, would contain a digitally scanned copy of every book, government report, and legal decision ever published in Canada....By extending the library to government documents and court decisions, it would help meet the broader societal goal of providing all Canadians with open access to their laws and government policies. Moreover, since the government holds the copyright associated with its own reports and legal decisions, it is able to grant complete, unrestricted access to all such materials immediately alongside the approximately 100,000 Canadian books that are already part of the public domain.'

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

New Cites & Insights

The Midwinter issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now online. This issue features predictions by many other observers, including my own OA predictions for 2004 and 2005. Excerpt: 'Peter Suber offered 14 predictions for 2004 in the February 2, 2004 issue. You might want to look back at those predictions. I'd say he got 12 of 14 right and the other three at least partly right. (I haven't seen that much OA activity in the humanities and I don't believe Amazon's "Search inside the book" has either proved or disproved the concept that free online full-text triggers more sales of print books, although I believe that to be probable.) That's a remarkable track record, particularly given that some of the projections were neither obvious nor (I would have said at the time) likely.' (PS: I feel free to quote this since I didn't evaluate my own 2004 predictions this year.)

More on Google's library project

Klaus Graf reports that German readers do not have free online full-text access to all the public-domain books that Google is digitizing. By contrast, it appears that Americans do have such access. Klaus can get full-text access only by using Anonymizer with a US proxy. Eva Hornung reports that Google is blocking Irish users as well.

(PS: I've confirmed this with Klaus for at least one test case, Hamilton Wright Mabie's 1896 Books and Culture. I have full-text access from Brooksville, Maine, USA, through the link in the previous sentence. Do you? The book should be in the public domain under the laws of every country on Earth. Can anyone explain why Google is rationing access this way?)

SPARC partnership with E-Print Network

SPARC has announced its partnership with E-print Network, an OA service from Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) of the the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). From the press release (January 10): 'The [partnership] recognizes the contribution of the E-print Network to expanded availability and use of open-access scientific and technical research on the Internet. The E-print Network reveals a wealth of valuable research mainly in physics but also in chemistry, biology and life sciences, materials science, nuclear sciences and engineering, energy research, computer and information technologies, and other disciplines. The E-print Network utilizes a unique deep Web search capability that combines full-text searching through PDF documents residing on e-print Web sites with a distributed search across e-print databases. The Web search pulls to the desktop documents that are often hard to find. Users of the E-print Network, which was first launched as PrePRINT Network in January 2000, can perform full-text searches on over 16,000 Web sites and in 39 major databases of e-prints from around the world. All this content - close to 20 million pages of full text - is available to users at no charge. The E-print Network also offers a weekly alert service that provides patrons notification of new documents, as well as links to 2,300 scientific societies. "The E-print Network takes all these isolated islands of information and pulls them into a searchable whole, said Dr. Walter Warnick, director of OSTI. "The result is enhanced search, expanded audience, ease of scientific collaboration, and advancement of science."'

Integrating institutional repository PDF's with other collections

Paula J. Hane, ebrary Announces New Technology, Custom Collections, and Partnerships, Information Today, January 10, 2005. Excerpt: 'ebrary has just announced new server-based technology, code-named Isaac. This technology lets libraries create and share remote collections of PDF content and create virtual portals that seamlessly integrate PDF documents from any remote collection, their institutional repository or content management system, as well as existing subscription databases. Several academic institutions are currently beta testing Isaac, which is scheduled for availablility in 3Q 2005.'

More on the Google library project

misseli, The Google deal (down on the Farm), Confessions of a Mad Librarian, January 11, 2005. Notes of a Stanford libraries employee meeting discussing the Stanford/Google collaboration. (Source:

IBM providing free access to 500 software patents

Steve Lohr, I.B.M. to Give Free Access to 500 Patents, New York Times, January 11, 2005 (free registration required). Excerpt: 'I.B.M. plans to announce today that it is making 500 of its software patents freely available to anyone working on open-source projects, like the popular Linux operating system, on which programmers collaborate and share code. The new model for I.B.M., analysts say, represents a shift away from the traditional corporate approach to protecting ownership of ideas through patents, copyrights, trademark and trade-secret laws. The conventional practice is to amass as many patents as possible and then charge anyone who wants access to them. I.B.M. has long been the champion of that formula. The company, analysts estimate, collected $1 billion or more last year from licensing its inventions. The move comes after a lengthy internal review by I.B.M., the world's largest patent holder, of its strategy toward intellectual property. I.B.M. executives said the patent donation today would be the first of several such steps John Kelly, the senior vice president for technology and intellectual property, called the patent contribution "the beginning of a new era in how I.B.M. will manage intellectual property."...On this issue, I.B.M. appears to be siding with a growing number of academics and industry analysts who regard open-source software projects as early evidence of the wide collaboration and innovation made possible by the Internet, providing opportunities for economies, companies and individuals who can exploit the new model....I.B.M. executives said they hoped the company's initial contribution of 500 patents would be the beginning of a "patent commons," which other companies would join. I.B.M. has not yet approached other companies, Mr. Stallings said. I.B.M. will continue to hold the 500 patents. But it has pledged to seek no royalties from and to place no restrictions on companies, groups or individuals who use them in open-source projects, as defined by the Open Source Initiative, a nonprofit education and advocacy group.'

Update. Also see IBM's press release and its details on the 500 patents and its pledge not to assert them against OA developers.

How OA promotes development

Calestous Juma and Lee Yee-Cheong, Innovation: applying knowledge in development, UN Millennium Project, Task Force on Science, Technology, and Innovation, 2005. A major UN report on how science can serve development. Part of the answer is "Open access to scientific and technical information" (pp. 168-171). From p. 33: "Open access publishing has the potential to make all published knowledge available to anyone with an Internet connection. The United Nations has been at the forefront in the drive to establish open access to information and technology." From p. 115: "Open access to sequence data is an important tool for promoting innovation and should therefore be encouraged as part of the large pursuit to balance 'open science' and proprietary incentives embodied in intellectual property rights." From p. 169: "The dissemination of scientific discoveries and ideas provides the foundation for progress in science and medicine. The more widely and freely accessible information is, the greater is the value of peer-reviewed research. For authors open-access literature maximizes the potential impact of their work. Anyone can access their manuscripts, increasing the likelihood that their works will be read, cited, and used as the basis for future discoveries." (Thanks to WorldChanging.)

Free Culture Festival

Croatia's Multimedia Institute will host a Free Culture Festival in Zagreb, January 12-15, to mark the January 14 launch of the Croatian version of Creative Commons. (Thanks to the CC blog.)

OA library of indigenous knowledge

T. V. Padma, Digital library to protect indigenous knowledge, SciDev.Net, January 10, 2005. Excerpt: 'South Asian countries will create a digital library of the region's traditional knowledge and develop laws to prevent such knowledge being misappropriated through commercial patents. The plan was announced at a two-day workshop held in Delhi, India, last week by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Participants at the workshop have begun drawing up a technical framework for classifying the region's traditional knowledge and linking it to the international patent classification system. The aim is to create a composite digital library comprising individual Traditional Knowledge Digital Libraries (TKDL) from each country in South Asia. Accessible using the Internet, the library will contain information on traditional medicine, foodstuffs, architecture and culture. SAARC will fund the infrastructure required, and individual nations will fund the costs of training and work. The meeting's delegates said South Asian nations could use the digital library to fight contentious patent claims by proving the prior existence of knowledge, as well as promoting research on novel drugs, enhancing the region's share of the global herbal medicine market and helping set the international agenda on intellectual property rights.' (PS: This is a case in which free sharing is the best form of protection, contrary to the premise of IP law. Or, it's a case in which protecting knowledge from IP locks serves the public interest better than protecting it from users.)

University of Leicester launches Sirsi Resolver

From a Sirsi Corporation press release (January 10, 2005): 'Sirsi Corporation announced today that the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom has launched Sirsi ResolverTM to integrate access to all university electronic resources. Sirsi Resolver uses the most powerful OpenURL reference linking technology available today to maximize investments in e-resources by bringing users together with the resources they need. With Sirsi Resolver, libraries can completely integrate all the information resources that are available to users – regardless of where those resources are maintained. "Until now, users wanting to use electronic journals have had to look at a number of services in turn to find out which best met their needs," said Christine Fyfe, university librarian. "In 2004, however, the University of Leicester Library implemented a powerful new system from Sirsi, which allows users to locate electronic versions of more than 10,000 journals with ease." '

Alternative futures for STM journals

David Goodman, Alternative Fates for the STM Journal System, a PPT slide presentation at the meeting of the Special Libraries Association, June 8, 2004. Abstract: 'The likely alternatives for Scientifc journal publishing under the various proposed systems of open access are presented. The prediction is made that the dominance of conventional journals will end between 2007 and 2009.'

Tool for creating and sharing knowledge in developing countries

Today India's National Informatics Centre, the Open Knowledge Network, and UNESCO announced the launch of eNRICH, open-source software "for the creation and exchange of locally relevant knowledge within and between communities in developing countries." For more details, see the press release or the eNRICH site.

Monday, January 10, 2005

More on the Southampton OA policy

Paul Justice, Free Access to Research, eLearning Scotland, January 10, 2005. Excerpt: 'Until now, the databases used by universities to collect and disseminate their research output have been funded on an experimental basis by JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee). The University of Southampton is the first in the UK to announce that it is transitioning its repository from the status of an experiment to an integral part of the research infrastructure of the institution.'

New Nature policy on self-archiving

The Nature Publishing Group has announced an important new policy on self-archiving. From today's press release:
As of January 2005, authors of original research papers published by Nature Publishing Group (NPG) will be encouraged to submit the author's version of the accepted, peer-reviewed manuscript to their relevant funding body's archive, for release six months after publication. In addition, authors will also be encouraged to archive their version of the manuscript in their institution's repositories (as well as on their personal web sites), also six months after the original publication. This policy has been developed to extend the reach of scientific communications, and to meet the needs of authors and the evolving policies of funding agencies that may wish to archive the research they fund. It is also designed to protect the integrity and authenticity of the scientific record, with the published version clearly identified as the definitive version of the article....We plan to actively support the self-archiving process, and we will take further steps in the coming months to facilitate this.

(PS: This is a significant step. It applies to all NPG research articles and all funders, although not all funders have set up their own repositories yet. It also operates as a retroactive endorsement of the NIH public-access policy. It even goes beyond the NIH policy, which requests that NIH-funded authors deposit copies of their publications in PubMed Central, by signalling that Nature will never refuse the NIH request or encourage its authors to refuse the NIH request. On the contrary, Nature will encourage its authors to comply with it. However, it also has the effect of trying to apply the six-month embargo to archiving at the author's institutional repository and personal web site.)

Another new OA medical journal

The Journal of Clinical Reports and Images is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal. JCRI publishes only clinical reports and images, all of which (including PDF copies of articles) may be reproduced without charge for non-profit research purposes. (Thanks to Vinod Scaria.)

Brief review of some recent OA developments

Paul Guinnessy, Publishers Experiment With Open-Access Journals, Physics Today 57(12), 34-35 (December 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) A short magazine news piece highlights some recent OA developments, particularly with respect to physics journals. The NIH proposal is discussed, yet it is noted that many physicists already deposit papers in arXiv, since journals permit them to do so. Optics Express is cited as an example of OA. The AIP's experiment with author charges is also mentioned. Lastly, the author warns that OA could hurt scientific societies, suggesting that these organizations might no longer be able to fund activities supported by publishing revenues.

Lessig on copyright extension

Lawrence Lessig, They're Not Worthy, Wired Magazine, January 2005. Excerpt: 'This New Year's Day, a wonderful thing will happen in Europe that won't occur again in the US until 2019: Copyrights on music and television recordings will expire. After a half century of monopoly protection granted artists in exchange for their creative work, the public will get its justly earned free access to an extraordinary range of both famous and forgotten creativity. Libraries, archives, and even other creators can spread and build upon this creativity without asking permission first....Such a yearly event doesn't happen in the US anymore because Congress repeatedly extends the term of existing copyrights. The last extension in 1998 - the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act - was the 11th for existing works in 40 years, delaying any copyrighted song from entering the public domain for another 20 years. This practice is now inspiring copycats in Europe to similar plunder....This spiral will not end until governments recall a simple lesson: Monopolies are evil, even if they are a necessary evil. We rightfully grant the monopoly called copyright to inspire new creative work. But once that work has been created, there is no public justification for extending its term. The public has already paid. Term extension is just double billing. Any wealth it creates for copyright holders is swamped by the wealth the public loses in lower costs and wider access.'

More on the new Southampton OA policy

Lucy Sherriff, Southampton Uni goes Open Access, The Register, January 10, 2005. Excerpt: 'Southampton University has made all of its academic and scientific research output available for free on the web. The University said the decision marks a new era in Open Access to research in the UK; it will host workshops for other academic institutions thinking of making a similar transition. Southampton describes the self-archiving project's purpose as "to make the full text of the peer-reviewed research output of scholars/scientists and their institutions visible, accessible, harvestable, searchable and useable by any potential user with access to the Internet". This is not a bypass of the traditional publishing mechanism, but another form of access to already published material....Southampton's ePrints database has run as an experiment since 2002. It was established as part of a project to explore issues around Open Access publishing. The repository provides a publications database with full text, multimedia and research data, and it will now become a core part of the university's publishing process. "We see our Institutional Repository as a key tool for the stewardship of the University's digital research assets," said Professor Paul Curran, deputy vice-chancellor of the University. "It will provide greater access to our research, as well as offering a valuable mechanism for reporting and recording it. "The University has been committed to Open Access for many years. The fact that we are now supporting it with core funding is another tangible step towards its full achievement."'

More on OA to drug trial data

Rita Rubin, Drugmakers to voluntarily post info online about clinical trials, USA Today, January 7, 2005. Excerpt: 'The prescription drug industry's main trade group announced Thursday that its member companies will begin voluntarily posting information about ongoing clinical trials for all diseases this summer on a government Web site. Drug companies have come under fire in recent months for allegedly withholding unfavorable research findings, and the American Medical Association as well as some members of Congress have called for mandatory reporting of all clinical-trial results. Under current law, drug companies are required to post information at only about trials of drugs for serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions. "We're doing this because our industry recognizes that sometimes what the law requires doesn't give patients all they need," Billy Tauzin, the former congressman who now serves as CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), said in a statement Thursday. At least two congressmen on Thursday said PhRMA's voluntary plan, which is to go into effect July 1, is inadequate.' (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

New OA medical journal

The International Journal of Medical Sciences is a new peer-reviewewd, open-access journal. From the press release: 'Articles include original research and review, important case reports and analysis, short research communications presenting novel research ideas and timely research finding, and reports of new drug development and clinical trials. The Journal serves wide ranges of international audiences of medical researchers, pharmaceutical employees, specialized and general clinicians. Submissions of papers in areas of basic medical sciences are welcomed as well as papers in clinical and experimental research related to the studies of human diseases. The Journal publishes in both online and print. The online version is open access to the public to maximize the distribution of information. Full texts of all articles will also be made available in PubMed Central, the US National Library of Medicine's biomedical journal information archive, and in the digital archive of National Library of Australia.'

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Highwire Open Archive milestone

Highwire Press now has over 819,000 free online full-text articles. From the January 3 press release: 'Participating HighWire-hosted publishers have been steadily growing the world's largest collection of open access, high-impact scholarly research online. Today, more than 819,000 free peer-reviewed, full-text articles are available at This open archive covers a wide range of not-for-profit titles, with twice as much content as the current, NIH-funded repository, PubMed Central. 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....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....The pace of adding free articles is rapidly increasing, and HighWire expects to cross the one million mark during the year 2005.'

A search of The Informatics Review

A search of the archives of The Informatics Review, using the key words "Open Access", yielded only a few links. One of these, a link to Vol.7 No.2, Jan 15, 2004, included, at the bottom of the page, this short (but flattering!) comment about a freely-accessible webpage of my own: "RESEARCH ETHICS: INTERNET-BASED RESEARCH: A wonderful resource whose purpose is to anyone interested in Internet research ethics: List Mining, and Open Access to find relevant information".

TA editorial on OA

R.W. Burry, Open Access, Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry, 53, 1-2 (2005). Apparently an editorial. Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.