Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 29, 2005

UNC convocation on scholarly communications

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently held a two-day convocation on Scholarly Communications in a Digital World (January 27-28, 2005), touching at least briefly on OA. The nine white papers are online for all to read, and at least two faculty members (Jeff Pomerantz and Paul Jones) have blogged their responses.

Find a solution to the problem of orphan works

The U.S. Copyright Office is soliciting public comments on what to do with "orphan works". Quoting the call for comments:
The Copyright Office seeks to examine the issues raised by "orphan works," i.e., copyrighted works whose owners are difficult or even impossible to locate. Concerns have been raised that the uncertainty surrounding ownership of such works might needlessly discourage subsequent creators and users from incorporating such works in new creative efforts or making such works available to the public. This notice requests written comments from all interested parties. Specifically, the Office is seeking comments on whether there are compelling concerns raised by orphan works that merit a legislative, regulatory or other solution, and what type of solution could effectively address these concerns without conflicting with the legitimate interests of authors and right holders.

Comments are due by March 25. Reply comments are due by May 9.

(PS: The problem of orphan works is a serious one that keeps many works under copyright, or out of the public domain, much longer than necessary. The problem is aggravated by the fact that nowadays every scribble is copyrighted by default and requires no registration or renewal, and even further by the fact that the term of copyright is unconscionably long and likely to lengthened retroactively every decade or two. I support a policy solution through the Copyright Office. But at the same time I put more stock in the legislative solution represented by the Public Domain Enhancement Act and the judicial solution sought in Kahle v. Ashcroft.)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Author attitudes toward OA journals

Sara Schroter, Leanne Tite, and Richard Smith, Perceptions of open access publishing: interviews with journal authors, BMJ, January 26, 2005. Abstract:
Objective To explore authors' attitudes towards open access publishing and author charges, their perceptions of journals that charge authors, and whether they would be willing to submit to these journals.
Design Semistructured telephone interviews.
Participants 28 randomly selected international authors who submitted to the BMJ in 2003.
Results Authors were more aware of the concepts of open access publishing and author pays models than previously reported. Almost all authors supported the concept of open access, but few had submitted to an open access journal, other than the BMJ. Reasons for not submitting included lack of awareness of which journals publish with open access, and journal quality taking a higher priority in decision making than the availability of open access. Authors disliked the idea of author charges without institutional support and were concerned about implications for authors from developing countries and those without research funding. However, many said they would probably continue to submit to journals they perceived as being of high quality even if they charged authors.
Conclusions Authors consider perceived journal quality as more important than open access when deciding where to submit papers. New journals with open access may need to do more to reassure authors of the quality of their journals.
(Thanks to Benoit Thirion.)

Fair use and "digital environmentalism"

Robert Boynton, Righting Copyright: Fair use and "Digital Environmentalism", BookForum, February/March 2005. A review of four books, by David Bollier, James Boyle, Lawrence Lessig, and Kembrew McLeod. Excerpt: 'Once an arcane part of the American legal system, intellectual property law is now at the center of major disputes in the arts, sciences, and politics. People are increasingly aware of the role intellectual property plays in their everyday lives; they bump up against it every time they discover they can't print a passage from an e-book or transfer a song from their computer to their iPod....As amazing an effort as Google Print is (creating nothing less than a virtual "universal library of knowledge"), its logical goal --giving readers full access to the entire contents of that library-- will be undercut by our intellectual property laws....One of the most suggestive responses to this dilemma has come from Duke University law professor James Boyle, who, in his landmark book Shamans, Software and Spleens: Law and the Construction of the Information Society (1996), diagnosed the problem succinctly. "What we have right now is an exponentially expanding intellectual land grab, a land grab that is not only bad but dumb, about which the progressive community is largely silent, the center overly sanguine, and the right wing short-sighted." Boyle's subsequent work is an extended plea that we value the public domain. "Our art, our culture, our science depend on this public domain every bit as much as they depend on intellectual property," he writes....Digital environmentalism...[is] conservatives in the traditional sense of the term. "The point is not that copyright and trademark law needs to be overthrown," writes Bollier. "It is that its original goals need to be restored. Individual creators need to be empowered more than ever. The volume and free flow of information and creativity need to be protected. The public's rights of access and use must be honored. We must strike a new balance of private and public interests that takes account of the special dynamics of the Internet and digital technology."'

OCLC contest for WorldCat records

OCLC is sponsoring a contest for the best new piece of software to do "something interesting and innovative" with WorldCat data and OCLC library services. The prize is $2,500 cash, a visit to OCLC, and the possibility that OCLC will incorporate your code into its library services.

Patent reform for promoting public access to information

Matthew Rimmer, The Race to Patent the SARS Virus: The TRIPS Agreement and Access to Essential Medicines, Melbourne Journal of International Law, October 2004. Abstract: 'This article considers the race to sequence the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus (‘the SARS virus’) in light of the debate over patent law and access to essential medicines. Part II evaluates the claims of public research institutions in Canada, the United States, and Hong Kong, and commercial companies, to patent rights in respect of the SARS virus. It highlights the dilemma of 'defensive patenting' — the tension between securing private patent rights and facilitating public disclosure of information and research. Part III considers the race to patent the SARS virus in light of wider policy debates over gene patents. It examines the application of such patent criteria as novelty, inventive step, utility, and secret use. It contends that there is a need to reform the patent system to accommodate the global nature of scientific inquiry, the unique nature of genetics, and the pace of technological change. Part IV examines the role played by the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization in dealing with patent law and access to essential medicines. The article contends that there is a need to ensure that the patent system is sufficiently flexible and adaptable to accommodate international research efforts on infectious diseases.' (PS: Rimmer concludes that, although the purpose of defensive patenting is often to promote public access to information, it can have the opposite effect. For the purpose of promoting public access to information, intelligent patent reform will be more effective than defensive patenting.)

New OA Journal of Maps

The Journal of Maps is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal from the Earth Sciences and Geography faculty at Kingston University. The first issue appeared on January 5. Although access to full-text articles and maps is free of charge, it does require registration, which will block crawlers and other research tools. Excerpt from Mike Smith's editorial in the inaugural issue: 'JoM emerged out of the desire for myself and colleagues at the Kingston Centre for GIS to publish bespoke maps. As an applied research group we collect (and map) spatial data for a variety of geographic disciplines, however the publication of such material is di±cult; a cursory survey of geography-related journals showed that map publication was uncommon and usually incurred high page costs. Maps are central to the process of understanding within spatially aware disciplines, through the use of maps to analyse, store and present spatial information. The lack of map publication is an undesirable effect of the modern publication process and weakens the value of research findings. JoM was established to redress the imbalance in map publication; the high page costs of printed maps is unavodiable and therefore JoM was only viable as an e-journal. This constraint presented the opportunity for us to "self-publish", thereby by-passing the whole commerical publication process. It was at this stage that we decided JoM should be open-access, with a nominal author fee to cover running costs....JoM wishes to actively contribute to the debate on map data and copyright, with a view to lessening the restrictions on map publication.' (Thanks to UKSG Serials-eNews.)

OA Intro now in Japanese

Mine Shinji has just translated my Very Brief Introduction to OA into Japanese. Thanks, Mine! (PS: I link to the known translations from the bottom of the English edition and welcome additional translations.)

Berners-Lee voted the greatest Briton of 2004

Tim Berners-Lee was just voted the greatest Briton of 2004. From today's Reuters story on the honor: 'Noted historian and panel member David Starkey said Berners-Lee's double acts of ingenuity and charity made him an automatic choice. "He chose not to commercially exploit his invention. He gave it away almost wilfully. If he had fully exploited it, he would make Bill Gates look like a pauper today," he said. Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1990 while at the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva to let his fellow scientists work together even when in other parts of the world. But instead of patenting his invention he chose to open access to all - and the rest is history. He was knighted last year for an invention that has been likened in importance to the wheel.' (PS: Berners-Lee still works for the World Wide Web Consortium in Boston, but in December took a second position in his native Britain as chair of computer science at the University of Southampton, the greenhouse of OA tools and ideas.)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Publisher bets that free online full-text searching will sell printed books

Meghan Murphy, Univ. Press finds new home on North Pleasant St., The Daily Collegian, January 27, 2005. Excerpt: 'The UMass Press, the book-publishing arm of the university, recently moved to a new home in the East Experiment Station on North Pleasant St...."For many years, we relied on University funds to cover the remaining portion of our expenses," said Bruce Wilcox, the director of the UMass Press Office. But during the budget cuts last May, "there were severe financial pressures on the University... and we were told that we could no longer depend on funding."...In order to extend the reach of its publications, the Press recently joined forces with the Google Print Program, a feature run by the popular search engine. "When you go to a bookstore, you rarely buy a book without browsing it first, and now you can do that electronically," said Wilcox. Google digitizes the Press's publications, scans them, indexes the content, and then places them on secure servers. Then, readers can search for a specific part of the book as well as browse two pages forward and back from their starting point. "In an age in which many students do their research by sitting in front of their computer, it's important that our books are accessible electronically," Wilcox added. The Press also recently became a part of a similar program through, whereby readers can search through an entire book online. According to Wilcox, this will boost the sales and reputation of the Press by helping readers to decide if they want to buy the book online. "With these huge companies competing to be your gateway to information, we want to work with them... we want to make our books as successful as possible."'

Government needs print distribution until OA is ready

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) opposes the Government Printing Office (GPO) plan to stop the print distribution of important kinds of government information to the public through the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). From the AALL action alert (January 26): 'GPO's plan, which has not been approved by Congress, represents a major disruption to the FDLP's role of ensuring no-fee, permanent access to government information for the American public. GPO has not yet established a reliable system ensuring delivery, version control, authenticity, permanent public access and preservation of government information products they disseminate and make available online. Until such a system is fully functional and GPO can ensure permanent, no-fee and ready public access to electronic government information, GPO should not gut its print distribution program.'

Attention OA repository maintainers

Google and I have put together a set of tips to help configure scholarly repositories for full-text Google crawling. Please help by sending the URL to the people who maintain the repository for your institution or discipline.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Cell Stress & Chaperones on PMC

Cell Stress & Chaperones, long expected to be introduced at PubMed Central, debuted today. Choosing a different model from that previously seen on PMC, the metadata is hosted at PMC, but all articles link out to the publisher's website. Cell Stress & Chaperones - Fulltext v1-8 (1996-2003) 6 month moving wall. 2004 will be released soon; Print ISSN: 1355-8145 | Online ISSN: 1466-1268. (Thanks to Brook Dine and the PMC-News mailing list.)

Brief OA Intro now in Dutch

The roll continues: my Very Brief Introduction to Open Access has been translated into Dutch. The translation was done by a friend who does not wish for public credit. (PS: I list the known translations at the bottom of the English edition and welcome translations into additional languages.)

Greenhouse predictions for 2005

From the Greenhouse Associates predictions for 2005:

#1. If you thought the internet has nearly all the information anyone could ever want, consider this: it's about to start adding high-value content that previously was not online, or that was undiscoverable because it was behind a "pay wall." Several initiatives are particularly noteworthy. Google Scholar, launched in 2004, is making premium content from some of the most important academic and scholarly sources discoverable via its search engine. While users will still need to pay for the content once they find it (at terms set by each content provider), the discoverability of such content enhances the value of the internet enormously, and could increase the number of customers for premium content. At the same time, universities and research institutions are becoming publishers by implementing institutional repositories that make articles from their researchers available online directly as a complement to aggregators. These types of initiatives will alter the value proposition of intermediaries, such as aggregators, as search engines take over the content discovery role that such intermediaries have provided heretofore. Another Google initiative is even more ambitious. It will begin digitizing the physical collections of five top libraries....The project eventually will allow an internet user to search inside millions of volumes, seeing the pages exactly as they appear in the original works, including illustrations, charts and photos. While this project won’t bring much content online this year, eventually it will add rare content to the internet and expand the frontiers of information available online.

#8...A number of major city libraries and state library consortia have cut deals to allow their patrons free access to premium databases from such providers as Thomson and EBSCO, among others. Importantly, these deals allow library patrons to access the databases from outside the walls of the libraries -- via the internet, with a library card number. So far, public access to such databases seems to remain a well-kept secret. Sooner or later, though, savvy politicians will try to take credit for it and the word certainly will get out.

Historical archives turning to digitization and OA

Martha Irvine, History goes high-tech on the Net, Associated Press (this copy from the Tacoma News Tribune), January 25, 2005. Excerpt: '[W]hile the Wisconsin Historical Society contains one of the largest American history archives anywhere, fewer people have visited in recent years – 40 percent fewer than in 1987. More and more of them, including students at the nearby University of Wisconsin, turn to the Internet as their basic research tool. So the historical society and many other institutions with large collections are doing something they see as a way to survive: They're going digital – creating and uploading images of many items in their collections for all the Web to see. "History belongs to everybody. It shouldn't be locked away in dark rooms," says Michael Edmonds, deputy administrator of the Wisconsin Historical Society's library archives division. "It should be on everybody's laptops at Starbucks."...[Digitization and open access are] a trend that Edmonds calls "revolutionary" – and necessary. "Our future depends on us being able to turn our collections inside out – to show people what we have," he says.'

Good answer to reader question about OA

Billie Peterson, Tech Talk: Open Access, Library Instruction Round Table News, December 2004, pp. 9-12. In a Q&A column, a reader asks in effect: What is open access and why should I care? Peterson gives an unusually detailed and careful answer with many references for further reading. (PS: The only rub is that this online newsletter prints URLs as textstrings, not active links, so users have to cut and paste them into their browsers.)

Purdue IR will accelerate research

Kristen Sutherland, Repositories enhance researching process, Purdue Exponent, January 26, 2005. Excerpt: 'Soon Purdue students may be able to access their syllabuses, dissertations and any other research materials they may need while they sit in their pajamas. Information Technology at Purdue [ITaP] and the University's libraries have been working together to bring the latest technological developments to Purdue's libraries, specifically digital repositories. Digital repositories provide a way for written products to be stored digitally, said James Mullins, dean of libraries...."[At MIT, DSpace] meant that faculty could make anything they wanted available digitally."..."Institutional repositories are an ideal way to capture, preserve and disseminate the intellectual output of a university," said a press release for ProQuest Information and Learning, a company that recently developed its own digital repository....Although Mullins admitted that the program would be expensive, he said it would be worth it in the end. Keeping up to date on printed journals costs the libraries $500,000 a year, with prices increasing steadily. In creating a digital repository, the first step for ITaP and Purdue's libraries will be to work with document items that are not copyright controlled, and then to begin cataloguing massive data sets. With this alternative to the present model of published documents, we can change the speed of research and learning," said Mullins. "Before, it wasn't easy for people to find data reported in research findings. Now this will speed up (the process)."'

Impact and OA

Atmospheric scientist Bryan Lawrence, in a blog deliberation about impact factors: 'Of course it's easy to produce such a list [of high to low impact journals], but given my own priorities change, surely so too do the communities - are we really a normal distribution? What about people working in areas where there are simply less people working? Should academic research rankings depend on the herd? I'm sure the RAE normalises these things somehow, but it's still rather discomforting. And what about Open Access publishing? Those in the scholarly publications game know that the world is moving towards Open Publishing. There is evidence that open access publishing increases impact, but most of us don't quite match that with our subliminal ranking of journals with our actions. It is certainly true now that i am far more likely to read a journal article if I can get to it online, and that is starting to sway my decision about where to publish.'

Institutional repositories and research assessment in the UK

Michael Day, Institutional repositories and research assessment, a supporting study for the ePrints UK project, v. 0.1 (draft), December 2, 2004. Abstract: 'This study concerns the potential role of institutional repositories in supporting research assessment in universities with specific reference to the Research Assessment Exercises in the UK. After a brief look at research evaluation methods, it introduces the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), focusing on its role in determining the distribution of research funding, the assessment process itself, and some concerns that have been raised by participants and observers. The study will then introduce institutional repositories and consider the ways in which they might be used to enhance the research assessment process in the UK. It will first consider the role of repositories in providing institutional support for the submission and review process. Secondly, the paper will consider the ways in which citation linking between papers in repositories might be used as the basis for generating quantitative data on research impact that could be used for assessment. Thirdly, this study will consider other ways in which repositories might be able to provide quantitative data, e.g. usage statistics or Webometric link data, which may be able to be used - together with other indicators - to support the evaluation of research.'

Sun opens access to 1,600 software patents

Sun Microsystems is not only opening the source code for Solaris but opening access to 1,600 Solaris software patents for open-source developeprs. From yesterday's press release: 'Sun Microsystems, Inc. today announced the largest single release of patent innovations into the open source community by any organization to date, marking a significant shift in the way Sun positions its intellectual property portfolio. By giving open source developers free access to Sun(TM) OpenSolaris related patents under the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL), the company is fostering open innovation and establishing a leadership role in the framework of a patent commons that will be recognized across the globe. "As the largest business contributor to the open source community, Sun has always been an ardent believer in open standards and the open source process going back to the inception of this company," said Scott McNealy, Chairman and CEO, Sun Microsystems, Inc. "The release of more than 1,600 patents associated with the Solaris(TM) OS far eclipses any other vendor's contribution. Today represents a huge milestone for Sun, for the community, for developers and for customers."' The Sun announcement follows the similar announcement from IBM earlier this month that it would open access to 500 software patents for open-source developers.

On today's Southampton conference

Donald MacLeod, Academics fight to break 'stranglehold' on journals, The Guardian, January 26, 2005. Excerpt: 'Hopes of opening up research findings to a wider readership and breaking the stranglehold of publishers over academic journals will be aired at a conference at Southampton University today. Southampton, the first UK university to make all of its academic and scientific output freely available, announced that its repository will in future be an integral part of its research infrastructure. Advocates of open access won the backing of MPs last year but have not yet succeeded in convincing ministers. The escalating cost of journals - and the rising number published - is a major headache for university libraries, but supporters of open access argue there is a moral case for making findings freely available. They hope it will increase the influence of British science internationally and help researchers in developing countries where expensive journals are hard to access....Professor Stevan Harnad, one of the founders of the open access (OA) movement, argues there are two roads to open access - the 'golden road' of publishing in an OA journal (author-institution pays publication costs instead of user-institution) and the 'green road' of publishing in a non-OA journal but also self-archiving the article in an OA archive. He believes self-archiving by researchers should be mandated by universities and funders such as the research councils. (The influential Wellcome Trust, which awards grants of £1.2bn a year, has come out strongly in favour of open access publishing.)'

More on OA to clinical drug trials

The Swiss drug company Roche will launch an OA database for its clinical drug trial data. From the company press release (January 21): 'Roche announced today that it is establishing a global clinical trial protocol registry to disclose information about new Phase II to Phase IV studies at or before their start. In addition, the company will create a global clinical trial results database for key results from completed trials. The new registry and results database will enable the coordination of data Roche publishes and ensure that ultimately, there is one global source for all Roche-sponsored clinical trial data. Both the clinical trial registry and results database, which will be hosted by an independent, neutral entity, will be available to the public via a website by the end of the first quarter 2005. The name of the organisation will be announced in due time....The Roche approach is in accord with and even exceeds the information disclosure principles published earlier this year by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry Associations (EFPIA).'

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

More on the Leavitt confirmation hearings

I don't believe that the transcripts of Mike Leavitt's confirmation hearings are free and online yet. But if you can't wait, the Federal News Service now has priced online transcripts for the two days of the hearings, January 18, before the Senate Healath, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and January 19, before the Senate Finance Committee. Excerpt from the latter:

SEN. WYDEN: [...] The second point is the press in the last few days has been reporting that the National Institutes of Health is going to reduce substantially a proposal to make research that the taxpayers have funded available to the country. Now, I'm sure you're just starting to get into this. But I would find it helpful if you could just tell us about your commitment to making sure that the public does get access to this information, because these reports in the last couple of days that come from sources within the department are pretty troubling.

MR. LEAVITT: I know very little about the specifics of this issue, but I can just tell you in principle that I believe that research that's made available by government funded research ought to add to the knowledge of an informed public generally and ought to be readily and easily available.

SEN. WYDEN: I appreciate that. Let's try to get it down to that short turnaround time, the six months, because otherwise the taxpayer pays twice. The taxpayer pays first when their tax dollars go for the research, and then they've got to shell out more to a scientific publisher. And those publishers fought the department. There's no question about that. And I appreciate your answer. [...]

MR. LEAVITT: Thank you.

OA journals have little effect on TA journal cancellations

Joshua Clarke, Global Electronic Collection Trends in Academic Libraries, The PCG Vantage, Issue 4, 2004 (no deep link, scroll to the second article). Excerpt: 'Based on a survey developed by Publishers Communication Group (PCG), the following is an extract from a report that is intended to be the first in an annual series titled Global Electronic Collection Trends in Academic Libraries....Key findings include: [1] 84% of respondents reported that their institution had cancelled print subscriptions when the content was available electronically. [2] The leading factor influencing the collection of electronic resources is library policy, followed closely by the preference of faculty members and of students. [3] The majority of respondents (67%) indicated that their institution catalogs or indexes peer-reviewed Open Access journals. [4] Only 9% of respondents' institutions have cancelled a subscription when comparable content was available through an Open Access publication.....It is perhaps no surprise that Open Access publications were a hot topic for many librarians contacted with 66% indicating that their institutional catalogues or indexes peer-reviewed Open Access journals on a regular basis. In many cases, Open Access journals are managed just as traditional subscriptions are handled, entered directly into the library catalogue.....Librarians were asked if the availability of peer-reviewed Open Access journals influenced the decision process for the acquisition of subscription journals and paid electronic content. 57% of those who responded reported that the availability of Open Access journals did not influence collection habits....Although the majority of those responding to questions about Open Access journals reported that they have not had a significant impact on the collection habits of the library, many also indicated that some changes had been made to recognize their availability. Specifically, 9% explained that they have replaced subscriptions to journals with a peer-reviewed Open Access journal of equal quality when available. However, the majority of respondents (60%) preferred to supplement their collection with links to peer-reviewed Open Access journals.' (Thanks to Linda Watson.)

Unexpected general readership for OA scholarship

Heather Morrison and Michael McIntosh wrote a review of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for the January issue of The Charleston Advisor (already blogged here). Yesterday the Advisor published their letter to the editor, updating their review. Excerpt: 'With respect to the lack of general articles, SEP editor Ed Zalta provided an interesting explanation. When SEP was first written, it was designed for professional scholars. it came as a surprise to find how many others were interested in using this open access tool - high school students, undergrads, and the general public. It is primarily this new, unintended audience which is most likely to want to read the general articles. There may be a lesson here for the open access movement as a whole. Perhaps the reasons many have not sought out this kind of resource in the past is not lack of interest, but rather lack of access. This underscores the authors' belief that this resource is useful for libraries of all types, and it would make sense for all to participate in the funding effort.'

OA to program data, open interfaces, open file formats

Dion Almaer, Opensource Code versus Open Access to Data, OpenXource, January 23, 2005. On OA to program data, but many of the points transfer to research data. Excerpt: 'There are occasions when opensource code really isn't a big deal. Mike [Cannon-Brookes] talks about an email client as a good example. Does your company need to see the Outlook source code? Would that give you a lot? (apart from maybe fixing some Outlook bugs!). No, with tools like these, I don't really feel that opensource offers a big win. This is where open data matters more. You do not want your company to be locked in to a particular vendor or product. You want to be as flexible and loosely coupled as possible, allowing yourself to move in an agile fashion when it makes sense for the business. Let's take a look at an example and see how we feel about things: [1] Product A is opensource software. It uses a proprietary binary format for its data. [2] Product B is closed source software. Its data format is very open though. There is an XML format with a published schema in which you can validate against. The format is also part of a standard, which other products also support. In this case, although in theory it is possible look into product A to be able to munge the binary format, I would much rather be interfacing with product B unless I was wanting to extend product A to do something.'

More on fund-raising for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

In its campaign to raise funds for the open-access Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, SOLINET has received a challenge grant from the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). From yesterday's press release: 'The Challenge Grant will provide up to $500,000 to match $1.5 million in funds raised from other sources. The Challenge Grant matching funds are available from now through July 2008. Fund-raising is being coordinated by three partners with SOLINET: the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC), the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Research Coalition (SPARC) of the Association of Research Libraries, and Stanford University. All funds raised by the library community through SOLINET, ICOLC, and SPARC will be placed into an endowment dedicated to providing ongoing operating support for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a dynamic, web-based, open-access reference work. This endowment will enable the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to remain freely available to all users, as it has been since established in 1995. The fund-raising plan for the endowment seeks to obtain the majority of its support from the library and philosophy communities. It provides a new model for libraries to support open-access publications. If successful, the model will save libraries from paying subscription fees for future access to the content of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy....Commitments in support of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy can be registered at'

Free IoP access for the UK

From a JISC press release (January 24, 2005): 'In a move to open-up access to scientific research, an initiative announced today will provide free access to the UK's biggest archive of physics research, saving libraries at UK universities £30,000 each. A special agreement, announced today by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and the Institute of Physics (IoP), will make the contents of the IoP's digital journal archive between 1874 and 1998 permanently accessible to higher and further education institutions in the UK. The deal will have a major impact on physics education and research in this country by making some of the most important discoveries of the last 130 years freely available for the first time. The archive includes over 110,000 articles and over 1.5 million pages of physics research including papers by Sir John Fleming, Sir Ernest Rutherford, Niels Bohr, Lord Rayleigh and Sir Edward Appleton.'

Update. See Mark Chillingworth, JISC secures IoP archive deal, Information World Review, January 28, 2005.

German translation of OA Intro

Klaus Graf has now translated my Very Brief Introduction to Open Access into German. Thanks Klaus! (PS: See the bottom of the English edition for links to the known translations. If you can help with an additional language, please do.)

Monday, January 24, 2005

Electronic Journal of Boundary Elements

The Electronic Journal of Boundary Elements (EJBE) is available online. The journal publishes fully reviewed papers dealing with all aspects of the Boundary Element Method (BEM), also known as the Boundary Integral Equation Method (BIE). Subscription to the electronic form of the journal is free of charge. This journal is published by the Rutgers University Libraries using an open source framework developed from components of the Open Journal System, a part of the Public Knowledge Project at the University of British Columbia and the FEDORA (Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture) Project. Why are the Rutgers University Libraries undertaking this new role? First, academic libraries like those at Rutgers understand fully that the current model for the dissemination of scholarship cannot be sustained. Second, the mission and roles of the academic library are being transformed through the application of technology, and that technology can be used to transform the process of publication. Third, journal publishing complements the Libraries' key role in supporting scholarship within the academy. Finally, the Libraries have a traditional role in the preservation of scholarly materials, and they can offer the continuity and perpetual access to digital materials that cannot be readily matched by other sources. Electronic Journal of Boundary Elements - Fulltext v1+ (2003+); ISSN: 1542-3891. (Many thanks to Karen Wenk, Science Digital Initiatives Librarian, Rutgers, who brought this to my attention.)

HW Wilson adding OA journals to its database

Mark Chillingworth, OA journals join HW Wilson abstracts, Information World Review, January 24, 2005. Excerpt: 'US academic database publisher HW Wilson is embracing open access publishing by adding 38 OA journals to its Education Full Text database. The company is adding 49 new journals in total to Education Full Text, and simultaneously boosting its Readers' Guide Full Text database with the addition of 25 magazines.'

Slovenian translation of OA Intro

Franc Viktor Nekrep has translated my Very Brief Introduction to Open Access into Slovenian. Thanks Franc! I welcome other translations and will link to them from the English edition.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Access to Knowledge Treaty

WIPO is considering an Access to Knowledge Treaty as part of its development agenda. (In case you've forgotten, this is not your father's WIPO. The development agenda has promising implications for OA.) If you have ideas for the treaty, then send them to the a2k (Access to Knowledge) email list or to Jamie Love.

Here are some excerpts from my proposal: 'Signatory nations should put an open-access condition on publicly-funded research grants. By accepting a grant, the grantee agrees to provide open access (OA) to any publications that result from the funded research. The funding agency should give the grantee a choice of methods for providing OA to the resulting publications. Grantees should be able to choose between OA journals and OA archives (also called OA repositories). The OA archives should meet certain conditions of accessibility, interoperability, and long-term preservation. The interoperability condition could be satisfied by complying with the metadata harvesting protocol of the Open Archives Initiative....Signatory nations should provide funds and technical assistance for all universities and research centers in the country to set up and maintain their own OA repositories. One condition of government assistance should be that the institution adopt a policy to encourage or require its researchers to deposit their research output in the repository....Signatory nations should provide funds and technical assistance for digitizing and providing open access to the nation's cultural heritage. Signatory nations should sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.'

Will universities pay more for OA journals than TA journals?

Henk Ellermann, Open Access more expensive? DigiLib, January 23, 2004. Excerpt: 'In a not so recent report by Phil Davis and others called Report of the CUL Task Force on Open Access Publishing Presented to the Cornell University Library Management Team, August 9, 2004 the idea that Open Access is cheaper for a university than a subscription based model was challenged. They estimate the cost for publishing an article in an Open Access Journal to be 1500 dollars or, probably, more. At Cornell there are 3636 Cornell first author articles, meaning that this publishing mode would cost them 5 and half million dollars (at least). Since Cornell currently spends around 4 million dollars for scholarly resources this means they will pay more and actually get less. Exit Open Access? Of course this is not the case, and it is not even concluded by the authors of this report....First of all, Open Access is not just about university economics, nor even just about economics. If the discussion is to be focused on economics then it is imperative to broaden the scope and consider the detrimental effects of the "access by subscription" model on the free flow of information and knowledge that is in itself extremely important for any modern economy. This is not done in this report, the focus is on "library economics" only. Another economical point that has not been taken into account in this report is the cost of buying back articles that have been handed over to publishers. I am refering to, of course, the use of copyrighted material in books and educational materials. I would like to see an estimate of these "costs" too and preferably even an estimate of how much is not re-used this way because of the copyright issues.'

(PS: Henk is right. There are other considerations missing from this kind of calculation as well. (Cornell's isn't the only one; there was another at Yale last year.) One of the main considerations is that universities will not be the only institutions to pay OA journal processing fees. Funding agencies will pay many of them, especially in biomedicine. Another is that many OA journals --most of the journals listed in the DOAJ-- do not charge any processing fees at all. Another is that universities can provide OA, through institutional repositories and policies encouraging their use, without having to fund OA journals. There are also many miscellaneous considerations that are difficult to take into account. For example: processing fees are highly variable; universities already pay an array of page charges and other fees that would disappear under OA; universities can reduce some of the processing fees for their faculty with institutional memberships at BMC and PLoS; OA will reduce many library expenses beyond subscriptions, such as ILL, licensing, and user authentication; and finally, high-output universities tend to subscribe to more journals than low-output universities, and therefore as OA journals spread, high-output universities will save more than other universities through the conversion, cancellation, or demise of subscription-based journals.)

French translation of Very Brief Intro to OA

INIST-CNRS has produced a French translation of my Very Brief Introduction to Open Access. (PS: This is a great example of what can happen when OA removes permission barriers. INIST-CNRS didn't ask for "translation rights" and didn't have to. I pre-authorized this and other scholarly uses of the text by making it OA. I'm delighted and welcome other translations.)