Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, February 05, 2005

More on the pricing crisis

Tracy Ke, As journal prices rise, libraries struggle, Duke Chronicle, February 4, 2005. Excerpt: 'Scientific publishing is big business. As the cost of science journals continues to skyrocket, with some increasing by more than 10 percent per year, librarians like Deborah Jakubs, vice provost for library affairs, struggle to keep up their collections. Meanwhile, Duke professors have started to react by refusing to submit manuscripts to certain commercial publishers who demand what they consider outrageous prices....Even though Duke spends more than 70 percent of its annual $8 million library materials budget on serials, it has been forced to cut more than $300,000 worth of journals and databases from the Perkins Library System....'The commercial publishers know this, especially those in the medical arena, and have charged horrendous prices,' said James Siedow, vice provost for research. 'The university libraries are being gouged, pure and simple.'...At Duke University School of Medicine, where scientific journals are important sources of cutting-edge research and patient-care information, Patricia Thibodeau, associate dean for library services and archives, has followed the national trend of trimming the Medical Center Library"s book budget in order to preserve its journals. Thibodeau does not see an end to price increases because many contracts for electronic journals and databases have annual increases built into them. 'In the past year, the usual increase was six to 10 percent, but some publishers charged 14 to 20 percent more for e-journals,' Thibodeau said....The physics department at Duke has responded to the rising cost of journals by passing a resolution calling everyone in the department to no longer submit papers to journals published by Reed Elsevier and to decline to edit for them. 'As more departments around the country join this effort, we hope that library journal costs may be alleviated for all,' Baranger said....Duke faculty said the rising costs of science journals will have little effect on undergraduate teaching or formal coursework in general. 'The place it has impact is on research--undergraduate, graduate and faculty. In all areas of our department, having the latest information about what others are doing is critical to our success,' Baranger said.'

For more on the pricing crisis, see the recent stories (for example, 1, 2, 3) on cutbacks at OhioLink, which I haven't been blogging because of the volume of more directly OA-related news.

New OA project from eIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) is launching a new Open Access Project. From the website: 'As many of you know, eIFL has been working closely with OSI's Open Access Project for the past three years. We are pleased to announce that we have formalized this partnership and will launch the eIFL Open Access Program in 2005. Through this Program, a Call for Interest will be issued for those eIFL member countries which would like to promote Open Access more widely within their countries. The selected countries will work with eIFL to hold Open Access workshops similar to that held in South Africa last July. The workshops will then be followed with assistance in establishing institutional repositories at leading research institutions within the country. In addition, the guides and manuals which OSI has developed under its Open Access Project will be adapted for use in the eIFL countries. More details about the Program and the Call for Interest will be announced in February. The webpage will be fully operational soon.'

More on the NIH policy

Peter Goodyear, Research papers available free on internet, EarthTimes, February 4, 2005. Excerpt: 'National Institutes of Health glean public money collected by way of taxes and routes it to around with 2,800 research facilities in the United States. Around 212,000 researchers working in these organizations publish more than 60,000 papers a year. But this huge wealth of information remains out of hands of the common public whose money was used to conduct the research in the first place....The agency has devised a voluntary plan under which peer-reviewed scientific studies funded by the health agency will be made available to the public. The papers will be put on the Internet from May on the searchable archive PubMed Central, at where anyone can access them free of cost. "With the rapid growth in the public's use of the internet, NIH must take a leadership role in making available to the public the research that we support," said Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, director of the agency.'

Friday, February 04, 2005

OA journals will save universities money

Malcolm Getz, Open-Access Scholarly Publishing in Economic Perspective, Journal of Library Administration, 42, 1 (2005) pp. 1-39. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'What is the prospect for migrating scholarly journals from paper to digital formats in a way that lowers university expenditures? Although many journals are published digitally, at least so far, the digital format complements paper, increasing university expenditures. Open-access publications that are free to readers and financed by publication fees paid by authors and their agents may both lower costs and allow scholarship to reach a larger audience. However, gains to universities may depend on open-access being quality-assured and controlled by not-for-profit publishers. Potential savings for a typical U.S. research library might be on the order of $2.3 million per year even as the same level of effort goes to reviewing and editing published articles as at present. To launch the initiative, provosts might adopt policies to support publication fees and not-for-profit publishers might invest in start up funds for editing and marketing open-access journals.' (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

More on the NIH policy

Lila Guterman, NIH's Final Plan for Free Access to Journal Articles Draws Fire From 2 Directions, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 4, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'Elias A. Zerhouni, the NIH's director, called the policy a compromise between advocates for immediate public access and organizations, particularly publishers and scholarly societies, that have spoken out against the NIH's involvement in the issue....The final policy may end up pleasing neither side of the debate. "I regret that the National Institutes of Health has scaled back its open-access policy," Peter Suber, director of the Open Access Project at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit group that advocates the free flow of information, said in a written statement. The policy, he said, "could significantly delay public access to publicly funded medical research. It could even mean that the public will never have access to some of it at all." A group of nonprofit publishers took issue with the NIH's rule for the opposite reason. They called it unnecessary and wasteful, given that many nonprofit publishers already maintain databases and make their contents free within 12 months.'

More on the NIH policy

Alex Barnum, NIH-funded research to be available free, San Francisco Chronicle, February 4, 2005. Excerpt: 'The policy, although watered down from a draft version, represents a major victory for a growing "public access" movement whose proponents argue that it isn't fair that consumers and libraries must pay high costs for access to results of medical research that has been paid for with their taxes....In announcing the new policy, NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni said the goal is to "change the landscape" of scientific publishing....The NIH scaled back its policy from an earlier version that had called for research results to be posted within six months of publication. The scientific publishing industry had criticized the policy, arguing that it would hurt profits and undercut the peer-review system that they support....Publishers argue that producing scientific journals is expensive. Journals play an important role in editing manuscripts and assembling panels of scientists to "peer-review" articles before they're published. If the contents of their publications are made available for free, some people will stop subscribing, they argue. Advocates of open access say the industry is over-dramatizing. Even though 60,000 articles are published each year as a result of NIH funding, they make up only about a third of all the biomedical literature appearing in journals. [PS: There are other reasons to think the policy would not harm subscriptions.] A number of factors are driving the move toward open access of scientific literature: the low cost of publishing on the Internet; the ease of accessing information online, both by patients and by researchers; and the rising costs of scientific journals....Michael Eisen, a UC Berkeley assistant professor of genetics and a co- founder of PLoS, praised the NIH's announcement Thursday. "It has the potential to be a transformative event," he said. "The federal government is the world's biggest sponsor of scientific research. It has the singular potential to change the way scientific information is made accessible." He said much depended on whether NIH grantees perceived the policy not just as a suggestion but as an expectation. It also depends, he said, on how the publishing industry responds, and whether it puts restrictions on scientists' ability to post their edited manuscripts to a public Web site. "The publishers would be doing a disservice to the public," he said, "if they actively work to impede this system." '

BMC on the new NIH policy

BioMed Central has issued a press release on the NIH public-access policy. Excerpt: 'BioMed Central welcomes the announcement of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) new public access policy....BioMed Central anticipates that many other funding bodies worldwide will now follow the example set by NIH. All NIH grantees now have a new factor to take into account when choosing where they wish to publish their research. To fulfil the NIH request, authors publishing with most of the traditional subscription publishers will be expected to go through a process of resubmitting their papers to the PubMed Central repository. In addition, they will often need to update their manuscript version with the changes introduced in the publication process, as many publishers specify that only the author's version of the manuscript can be submitted to archives. Those who choose to publish in any of BioMed Central's Open Access journals, which cover all areas of biology and medicine, are assured that the published version of their paper will be placed in PubMed Central for them, immediately and without any need for additional work from them....BioMed Central urges all researchers in the life and medical sciences to fulfil the NIH request and to submit their future manuscripts to one of the 130 Open Access journals published by BioMed Central.'

IR presentations online

Most of the presentations from the workshop on Open Access Institutional Repositories (Southampton, January 25-26, 2005) are now online.

More on the NIH policy

Ted Agres, NIH announces 'open-access' rules, The Scientist, February 4, 2005. Excerpt: 'The new policy, effective May 2, 2005, "requests" that scientists voluntarily deposit electronic copies of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts with NIH's PubMed Central database "as soon as possible" after acceptance for publication. Authors can specify when their manuscripts would be publicly released, anywhere from immediately to 12 months after publication. The policy also places the burden on scientists to resolve any copyright disputes with journal publishers. "Scientists have a right to see the results of their work disseminated as quickly and broadly as possible," NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni said yesterday. "We urge publishers to work closely with authors in implementing this policy." Reaction from nonprofit medical and scientific publishers yesterday was sharp. The new rule "is wasteful of federal research dollars and a missed opportunity" to use existing Internet search technologies, representatives of six scientific societies representing nearly 30 nonprofit journals said in a statement....Supporters of open access were also critical of the new rule, calling it a "retreat" from NIH's earlier draft version, issued September, 3, 2004, that had specified public access within 6 months. "This policy is a step backward," stated Peter Suber, director of Public Knowledge's Open Access Project. "The policy is better than nothing, but it is a lot less than taxpayers deserved." '

More on the NIH policy

Erika Check, NIH reveals open-access policy, Nature, February 4, 2005. Excerpt: 'But both sides of the open-access debate also have voiced criticisms. Advocates of full open access to scientific literature are unhappy that the policy relies on voluntary participation from authors, and that it does not require public access within six months of publication - a deadline that Zerhouni had proposed in a draft version. "This is a retreat from the earlier version of the policy, and the retreat is unjustified and regrettable," says Peter Suber, director of the Open Access Project at Public Knowledge, a non-profit advocacy group in Washington DC. Suber and other critics also say that it would put researchers in the difficult position of having to negotiate between the NIH, which wants researchers to make their work available as soon as possible, and journals, which may want researchers to wait. Publishers and societies that draw income from publishing have also criticized some aspects of the policy. They object to the NIH's plan to archive papers on its own site, instead of simply directing the public to journal websites, branding it a waste of public money. NIH officials estimate that the archive will cost between $2 million and $4 million a year to run.'

More on the NIH policy

Jamie Talan, Public to get online access to studies, New York Newsday, February 4, 2005. Excerpt: 'Ordinary Americans will have access to some of the latest research findings within a year of their publication in scientific journals, the government announced yesterday...."NIH has found a reasonable path," said Dr. Donald Kennedy, editor in chief of Science, one of the most well-known and often-cited journals. Kennedy was not among the letter-writers, but agreed a six-month window could have "fairly serious consequences for some journals." Science has made its studies available to the public after one year for several years, Kennedy said....NIH dollars are gleaned from federal taxes, and the agency felt the public should have ready access to the findings from the funded research. "This will forever change the way the public gains access to scientific information," Zerhouni said. The program will cost the government agency $2 million to $4 million a year.'

More on the NIH policy

Andrew Hawkins, "NIH Public Access Policy Announced, Effect In May 2005", Washington Fax, February 4, 2005 (the article is not online). Excerpt: ' "The most significant change in the policy from that originally proposed is to provide more flexibility for authors to specify the timing of the posting of their final manuscripts for public accessibility through PMC," according to the public access policy, which was posted on the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts Feb. 3....[NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni said,] "We do want to encourage publication as soon as possible after the date of publication by the publisher, but we do recognize that flexibility will maximize participation, and that was the intent of the change. It wasn't to go from a six-month 'date-certain' to a 12-month 'date-certain' and nothing before that,' he said. "The spirit is maximum flexibility for maximum participation, recognizing that one size does not fit all." '

(PS: If the NIH really wants "maximum participation", then the policy should require participation, not merely request it. The "flexibility" introduced by reducing the requirement to a request will not ensure full participation. It will ensure that some grantees will participate and some won't.)

More on the NIH policy

Mary Mosquera, NIH to make research publicly accessible, Government Computer News, February 4, 2005. Excerpt: 'NIH wants to accelerate the public's access to published articles resulting from its funded research...."While this new policy is voluntary, we are strongly encouraging all NIH-supported researchers to release their published manuscripts as soon as possible for the benefit of the public," said NIH director Elias Zerhouni yesterday in announcing the final policy. NIH tried to balance the importance of public access with the needs of scientific authors and their publishers, he said....Scientists applying for new and competing renewal support from NIH will be able to provide links in their applications to their PubMed [Central] archived information, which will help streamline the application and review process.' (PS: This is a brief, undetailed, and uncontroversial summary of the news. It's blogworthy primarily because many federal government employees outside the NIH will read about the policy in this source.)

Journal of Medical Genetics experiments with OA

Eamonn Maher, The Journal of medical genetics and open access publishing: to choose or not to choose? Journal of Medical Genetics, February 2005. An editorial. Excerpt: 'This year the JMG will experiment with open access. This will take two forms: (1) During 2005, up to 20 papers from the UK will be published as open access articles at no cost to the authors; suitable papers accepted will be randomised to "open access" or "closed access". This has been made possible by financial support from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), a joint body of the Further and Higher Education Funding Councils of the UK....(2) Authors from countries other than the UK will be able to choose to pay a publication fee (£1200 ($2300)) to make their article freely available to all. If they decline, the article will remain behind access controls until it is 12 months old, but will be free thereafter as is our usual practice. Do note however that although any open access article is free for research and personal use, our reuse policy remains unchanged. Full details of this policy can be found on our website.'

More on the NIH policy

Jocelyn Kaiser, NIH Unveils Public Access Policy, Science Magazine, February 3, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'Supporting the policy were librarians, patient advocates, and some scientists who feel research articles should be free. In the other corner, publishers said that free access would bankrupt them and scientific societies dependent on journal income. After listening to both sides, Zerhouni has now issued a final policy that states NIH will wait up to 1 year. But there's another new twist: Instead of relying on the publishers' own policies for when articles can be posted, authors are "encouraged" to have NIH post their papers "as soon as possible." Authors "will negotiate" the timing with the publisher, says Norka Ruiz Bravo, NIH extramural research director. Neither side seems satisfied with the policy. "It's going to create a schism between authors and their publishers," complains Martin Frank, executive director of the American Physiological Society, who also thinks the government is infringing on journals' copyrights. Open access advocates, for their part, aren't happy about the "voluntary" aspect or the switch from 6 months to 12 months, by which time many journals make papers free anyway. Whether articles will become available any sooner "is a big "if,'" commented Sharon Terry, president of the Genetic Alliance.'

New tool for OA data in biology

The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) has released Oriel (Online Research Information Environment for the Life Sciences), a tool for gathering, navigating, querying, and analyzing genomic and bioinformatics data from distributed sites. Oriel has been tested on the OA E-BioSci and seems to be optimized for OA data sources. For more details, see the press release.

More on the NIH policy

Peter Gorner, NIH approves free access to publicly funded studies, Chicago Tribune, February 4, 2005. Excerpt: 'After years of heated debates and under pressure from Congress, federal health officials announced Thursday a historic new policy to give the public free access to scientific findings paid for with tax funds....Most publicly funded research studies are available only by buying expensive subscriptions to the journals that publish them, or on a pay-per-article basis. Under the new policy, when a woman with breast cancer goes online she would have access to a free central archive of the latest published studies, which could help her make better-informed decisions about treatment. Or a family seeking the results of clinical trials affecting a loved one no longer would be denied access to the information unless they were willing to pay. "I commend the NIH for encouraging scientists and publishers to make more federally funded research publicly available in a single, searchable archive. Taxpayers paid for this research, and they deserve prompt access to it," said Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, the ranking Democrat on the appropriations subcommittee that funds NIH....Considered the leading biomedical research institution in the world --as well as the largest-- NIH spends 85 percent of its $28 billion budget on competitive research grants and contracts to an estimated 212,000 researchers affiliated with 2,800 facilities in the United States. These scientists are conducting studies and experiments, and churning out an estimated 60,000 published papers a year. The journals, which get the papers for free, send them out for evaluation by scientific peers and handle distribution costs. The limited access to information and the high cost of subscriptions have been decried by researchers, libraries, physicians, health-care workers, students and universities....An earlier draft of the NIH plan that drew praise from Congress and patient-advocacy groups asked scientists to post papers online within six months of publication. The new plan would extend publishers' control to a year. The extension was not a case of caving in to the publishing industry, said NIH director Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni. "Our goal is to change the landscape of scientific publishing by opening up a venue for scientists to do the right thing. The goal is to make this research available to the public without damaging the peer-review process," Zerhouni said. "We're saying that scientists should release their findings as soon as possible for the benefit of the public. After all, the public paid for them." NIH expected that "only in limited cases will authors deem it necessary to select the longest delay period," Zerhouni said.'

More on the NIH policy

Rick Weiss, NIH Grant Recipients Are 'Asked' to Post Data, Washington Post, February 4, 2005. Excerpt: 'The highly anticipated "public access" policy -- which aims to make it easier for Americans to see the results of research they paid for with their tax dollars -- represents a compromise between competing forces that had lobbied the agency intensely during the past year. On one side were the publishers of highly profitable scientific journals who feared that free access -- even months after paper publication -- would undermine their subscription base. They were joined by some not-for-profit scientific societies that count on revenue from their print journals to support their research and training programs. On the other side were patient advocacy groups and others who argued that taxpayers should not have to pay subscription or per-article fees to see the results of federally supported medical research....Both sides expressed irritation with the decision....Proponents of quick access complained that the policy marks a retreat from an earlier version, floated by NIH in September, which had called for public access within six months. Even the 12-month deadline is voluntary, they noted....Former NIH director Harold Varmus, now president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and a longtime proponent of public access, called the new policy "a significant move" but echoed others' disappointment that it does not use stronger language....But the publishing industry's campaign to oppose NIH's efforts -- spearheaded by former House member Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.), who is now president of the Association of American Publishers -- also fell short of its goals. The AAP yesterday said it is "concerned" about the outcome. Not-for-profits also complained. "It's wasteful and duplicative of what we're already doing," said Martin Frank, chairman of the DC Principles Coalition for Free Access to Science and executive director of the American Physiological Society, one of several not-for-profit science organizations that Frank said already make their articles available to the public relatively quickly after publication. "The $2.5 million to $4 million that the NIH is going to spend on this could be better spent on biomedical research," he said....Both sides had at least one complaint in common: The policy leaves it up to scientists to decide when to make their articles public. That puts scientists in an awkward position of wanting to release them quickly to please the NIH -- their funding source -- and slowly to please their paper publishers -- upon whom they are equally dependent for professional prestige.'

NIH policy implementation plan

In addition to the policy itself, the press release, and the FAQ, the NIH has released an implementation plan for the policy. Excerpt from the implementation plan: 'The publisher may choose to furnish PMC with the publisher’s final version, which will supersede the author’s final version. Also, if the publisher agrees, public access to the publisher’s final version in PMC can occur sooner than the timing originally specified by the author for the author’s final version....Though the NIH anticipates that investigators will use this opportunity to submit their manuscripts, sending electronic copies is voluntary and will not be a factor in the review of scientific progress....Issuance of this policy is the beginning of a process that will include refinements as experience develops, outcomes are evaluated, and public dialogue among all the stakeholders is continued. An NIH Public Access Advisory Working Group of the NLM Board of Regents4 will be established. The Working Group will be composed of stakeholders that will advise NIH/NLM on implementation and assess progress in meeting the goals of the NIH Public Access Policy. Once the system is operational, modifications and enhancements will be made as needed with the Working Group, or a permanent subcommittee of the Board, providing ongoing advice on improvements.'

DC Principles coalition on the NIH policy

The journal publishers behind the DC Principles have issued a press release on the new NIH public-access policy. Excerpt: 'The final National Institutes of Health (NIH) rule on Enhanced Public Access to NIH Research Information is wasteful of federal research dollars and a missed opportunity to take advantage of available technology and existing efforts, according to a group of the nation's leading not-for-profit medical and scientific publishers....These publishers believe that NIH should take advantage of the fact that most not-for-profit publishers currently make all their content --not just NIH supported articles-- available for free to the public within 12 months. Not-for-profit publishers believe that the public would be better served if NIH created an enhanced search engine that works like Google to crawl the journals' full text articles and link to the final published articles residing on the journal websites.' (PS: To me this shows that the recent concession to publishers --lengthening the permissible delay past six months-- did not reduce publisher opposition, and therefore was not worth making.)

More on the NIH policy

Government-Financed Medical Research to Go Online, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 3, 2005. An unsigned news story. Excerpt: 'The policy is described as voluntary, and starts May 2. Articles will eventually be available in a Web-based archive managed by the National Library of Medicine, part of the NIH. "What we're really trying to do is create a momentum towards earlier publication while maximizing participation," Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, director of the NIH, said at a news conference. "We want to accomplish a change in the landscape of how scientific information is made available to the public while preserving the viability of the peer-review process which guarantees the integrity of that research." The issue of public access to scientific studies has been debated. Many feel the NIH should not be a conduit to the public for scientific research, but the agency's leadership felt the public had the right to see how its tax money was being spent. "We felt very strongly that change was needed," Zerhouni said. "Over 93 million Americans visit the Internet for medical information, and we strongly felt that it was not sufficient for us to maintain the status quo. Research is supported by the public, and it is essential in improving public health and public access to these publications."...Dr. Catherine D. DeAngelis, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), said, "I think it's great. This is nothing new for us. If it's important, we make it free to everybody in the world and everything [in JAMA] is free after six months. It's very important for the public to have access." A spokeswoman for the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) said that it already provided public access to much of its research for free. "Any material that's six months old or older is available on our Web site to the general public free of charge," said NEJM spokeswoman Karen Pedersen. "It just requires [online] registering." '

Update. The same story appears in Forbes for February 3, attributed to Amanda Gardner. Did the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reprint her story and delete her name?

PLoS on the new NIH policy

The Public Library of Science has issued a press release on the new NIH public-access policy. Excerpt: 'While NIH's Public Access Policy could, and PLoS believes should, have been stronger in several respects, it sets an important precedent for all sponsors of scientific research. "The US government has now endorsed the principle that the results of federally funded research should be freely available to the public," said Michael B. Eisen, Ph.D., co-founder of PLoS. "Scientists and the scientific community now have an historic opportunity make this principle a reality." PLoS urges all other funding agencies, in the US and abroad, to adopt the progressive components of the NIH policy, and to accompany them with stronger incentives for compliance and shorter periods of allowable delay prior to public access. PLoS urges all scientists to seize this opportunity to ensure that their works are made freely available to their colleagues and the public....PLoS commends NIH's commitment to establish a Public Access Advisory Working Group, also announced today, which will serve to monitor the implementation and effects of the new policy over the coming months and years. PLoS, itself, will be collaborating with other interested organizations to design and provide tools to make it as easy as possible for authors to exercise their vested authority to make their works freely available online as soon after publication as they see fit, as NIH has urged them to. PLoS thanks NIH Director Elias Zerhouni for his leadership on this important issue, and looks forward to an ongoing dialogue on the imperatives for timely public access to the products of publicly funded scientific and medical research.'

More on the NIH policy

Randolph Schmid, NIH Seeks Speedy Public Release of Data, Associated Press (this copy from the Kansas City Star), February 3, 2005. Excerpt: 'Scientists should make their findings from new research available to the public promptly, and no later than a year after a study has appeared in print, the National Institutes of Health recommended on Thursday. "My goal is to change the landscape of scientific publishing" to increase public access to information developed with the NIH's financial support, said the institutes' director, Dr. Elias Zerhouni. Beginning May 2, NIH will strongly encourage researchers to make their findings available as soon as possible, he said. Most scientific findings are published in peer-reviewed journals. Subscriptions to various journals can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Patient advocates have complained that such costs limit access to this information. They have sought immediate and free access to research produced with the help of taxpayers, such as studies funded by NIH...."The chief problem with the new rule is that it could significantly delay public access to publicly funded medical research," Suber said in a statement, adding that since it is voluntary, some scientists could decide not to release their findings at all. "The new rule also creates a difficult dilemma for NIH-funded scientists by forcing them to choose between their funding agency and their publisher. The NIH will ask authors to choose early public release and many publishers will ask authors to choose late public release," he said.'

Thursday, February 03, 2005

PK on the new NIH policy

Public Knowledge has issued a press release on the NIH public-access policy. Excerpt: 'Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt today announced his department’s policy on open-access publishing of government-funded research. The policy requests the authors of scientific papers to make their work available for free, online as soon as possible and within 12 months of the official date of publication. Statement of Peter Suber, director of Public Knowledge’s Open Access Project: "I regret that the National Institutes of Health has scaled back its open-access policy. It is a retreat from the version the agency first proposed and for which public comment was overwhelmingly favorable. The chief problem with the new rule is that it could significantly delay public access to publicly-funded medical research. It could even mean that the public will never have access to some of it at all....This policy is a step backward from the House of Representatives' wishes that NIH 'require' free online access after six months. In the end it looks like the publishers had more clout with NIH than scientists or taxpayers. The policy is better than nothing, but is a lot less than taxpayers deserved."'

Enhancing the worldwide science commons

John Barton, Preserving the Global Scientific and Technological Commons, February 3, 2005, a position paper, or preprint, for the Access to Knowledge Treaty. Excerpt: 'Science and technology require a commons of data, ideas, and insight. Everyone benefits from the openness of that commons. A scientist or engineer is more effective if he or she has access to the work of predecessors – and this contribution will be greater if others have access to his or her work. The commons is global, not just national. Exchange of data and scientific communication across borders is not only part of the mythology of science; it also contributes to the rate of progress of science and technology. And the modern research-based corporation is itself global, combining research and personnel from all over the world.'

Toronto's Project Open Source | Open Access

The University of Toronto has launched Project Open Source | Open Access, "a cross-divisional, tri-campus initiative to develop a networked community to share knowledge, enhance coordination, increase awareness, and to encourage research and knowledge mobilisation in this area." Part of the project is a lecture series on OS and OA topics. (Thanks to Leslie Chan.)

More on the NIH policy

Maggie Fox, NIH Asks for Internet Access to Studies, Reuters, February 3, 2005. Excerpt: 'The U.S. National Institutes of Health, which spent nearly $20 billion last year funding research, urged scientists on Thursday to let the agency publish their studies on the Internet. Researchers receiving NIH grants should send their manuscripts to a free, Web-based archive managed by the National Library of Medicine as soon as they can, after first submitting them to medical or scientific journals, NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni said. "With the rapid growth in the public's use of the Internet, NIH must take a leadership role in making available to the public the research that we support," Zerhouni said. "Scientists have a right to see the results of their work disseminated as quickly and broadly as possible, and NIH is committed to helping our scientists exercise this right." The policy is a challenge to scientific journals that usually publish such research....Scientists can ask for a delay of up to one year to protect the profitability of journals, Zerhouni said. "My goal is to change the landscape of scientific publishing, which is paid for by the public," he told reporters in a telephone briefing....Disease advocates have complained especially loudly, saying they cannot find information they need without paying fees for an online peek at a study.' (PS: The criteria cited by the NIH support mandated OA and a shorter embargo period better than they support the actual policy announced today.)

Opening the gates for research and learning

Rory McGreal, Stealing the Goose: Copyright and Learning, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, November 2004. Excerpt: 'The Internet is the world's largest knowledge common and the information source of first resort. Much of this information is open and freely available. However, there are organizations and companies today that are trying to close off the Internet commons and make it proprietary. These are the "copyright controllers." The preservation of the commons and expanding access to digital content and applications are very important for distance educators. The educational exemptions for "fair use" in the United States and "fair dealing" in the Commonwealth countries are integral to any understanding of copyright, which was instituted for the dissemination of knowledge, and not, as is commonly believed, to protect the rights of the copyright owners. Copyright law was expressly introduced to limit their rights. Yet, these controllers are successfully turning a "copy" right into a property right. The traditional rights of learning institutions are being taken away. The balance for researchers should be restored. Research and learning must be allowed the broad interpretation that was intended in the original laws.' (Thanks to CIT Infobits.)

NIH policy on NPR

David Malakoff previewed the NIH plan in a story broadcast this morning on National Public Radio. Malakoff described the basic problem, the basic solution, and interviewed one supporter (Sharon Terry of the Genetic Alliance) and one critic (Martin Frank of the American Physiological Society).

ATA on the new NIH policy

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA) has issued a press release on the new NIH public-access policy. Excerpt: 'Public interest supporters of the NIH Enhanced Public Access Plan today declared the just-announced policy falls short of their expectations and long-standing recommendations. In a letter addressed to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Michael Leavitt, the Alliance for Taxpayer Access outlined its key concerns with the NIH plan: [1] The policy is entirely voluntary. Although NIH research in question is funded by taxpayer dollars, the agency is leaving the decision up to each author whether to make their research results available. [2] The policy lacks any definitive time frame or deadline by which NIH-funded research must be available for public use. [3] The policy puts grant recipients in the untenable position of trying to meet the contradictory expectations of their funding agency and their publisher....Rick Johnson, Director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), said, "Frankly, this just-announced policy is neither what we hoped for nor proposed and it falls far short of the 'bright light' of transparency that Dr. Zerhouni promised earlier this week in his ethics reforms....However, we are eager for it to succeed. The proof is in the pudding. The coming months will tell whether NIH inspires and leads the community of researchers and scholars to accept the public trust invested in them. Today we urge them to do so."...Sharon Terry, president and CEO of the Genetic Alliance [commented,] "If six months after enactment, we see a flood of NIH-funded research posted on PubMed Central, then we will be among the first to celebrate. However if the vast majority of taxpayer-funded NIH research produced during this timeframe is not yet available to be used by scientists, patients, physicians and all engaged in promoting public health, then NIH will have failed. It will have failed not only Congress and the President, but more importantly, it will have failed science and the American people. Until the outcome is clear, we can only state emphatically that NIH's foremost responsibility is to the taxpayer who paid for the research."...AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition Board Member, Robert Reinhard, expressed concern for the lack of incentive for researchers to provide prompt access: "The potential 12 month delay does not improve much, if any, upon the status quo. NIH guidance also should encourage pursuit of alternative publication venues that commit to free dissemination of knowledge to those who need it."...Johnson and other members of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access have long argued that there is no legitimate reason for NIH funded research to be withheld from taxpayers for any longer than is absolutely necessary, and that ultimately, it must be available immediately.'

More on the UK government response

Stephen Pincock, UK gov't unsure on open access, The Scientist, February 3, 2005. Excerpt: 'Echoing its earlier response to a parliamentary committee report that advocated state support for the open-access model of disseminating scientific findings, the British government said earlier this week (February 1) it had no intention of requiring researchers to deposit copies of their publications in free-access repositories....Peter Suber, an advocate of open access who is based at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., told The Scientist the second government response suffered from the same shortcomings as the first one. "It gave primary attention to OA journals, when this was only a secondary issue to the committee report, and it dismissed the primary recommendation of the report, on OA archives, without any attempt to answer the committee's arguments," Suber said. "It's all the more surprising because the committee criticized the government for these shortcomings in November, and the government had little reason to write a new response except to answer this criticism."...In the United Kingdom, attention is now focused on RCUK, which is currently drawing up a common policy on open access....A spokesman for RCUK told The Scientist that the policy decision was moving forward. "RCUK is in the process of getting endorsement of its position from all of the seven Research Councils and the Arts and Humanities Research Board, and this is expected to take at least a number of weeks," he said.'

Medical History -- first PMC title from Wellcome grant

Medical History is the first journal to be digitized and mounted through PubMed Central under the Medical Journals Backfiles Digitization Project. Medical History is published by the Wellcome Trust for the History of Medicine at University College London. NIH and the Wellcome Library have notices posted about the digitization project. Medical History - Fulltext v1-16 (1957-1972); ISSN: 0025-7273. (Thanks to the PMC-News mailing list.)

NIH public-access policy finally released

The NIH has finally released the language of its public-access policy, which will take effect May 2, 2005. This is essentially the same version of the policy that I described as weakened and watered down in yesterday's issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. I refer you there for my comments on it.

My bottom line: There are three main problems with today's version of the policy. First, it's a request and not a requirement. Taxpayer access to publicly-funded medical research should be guaranteed. Second, it lengthens the delay on public access beyond six months, at the grantee's discretion. Previous versions of the policy used a six-month embargo, which was already a compromise with the public interest. And third, it puts grantees in the painful and risky position of having to choose between their funding agency and their publisher. The NIH will ask grantees to choose public release as soon as possible after publication, and many publishers will ask grantees to choose public release as late as possible. It's better than nothing but a lot less than the taxpayers deserved. In the end it looks like the publishers had more clout with the NIH than scientists or taxpayers.

Canadian strategy for research and scholarly communication

William Birdsall et al., Towards an Integrated Knowledge Ecosysstem: A Canadian Research Strategy, CARL/ABRC, January 2005. The final version of a report for the Canadian Association of Research Libraries / L'Association des bibliothèques de recherche du Canada (CARL/ABRC). From the executive summary: 'Technological advances are greatly enhancing scholars' abilities to communicate, report, review and distribute research results and are greatly increasing the accessibility of research artefacts. New communication and dissemination methods and formats that take advantage of the unique capabilities of the Web are challenging traditional methods of collecting, publishing, storing and preserving research. These methods and formats are calling into question the traditional vehicles for disseminating scholarly material. New methodologies are increasing the speed at which knowledge is produced, and they are allowing new knowledge to be produced that would not have existed without means of the technology....New priorities set by governments to improve the impact of research have resulted in greater accountability. There is a growing expectation that research results will be accessible beyond the research community to practitioners, the general public, and public policymakers, among others. The economics of scholarly publications continue to have an impact on various components of scholarly communication. Over the past two decades, there have been significant increases in the prices of research publications, most notably in science, technology and medicine....e "open access" movement, which calls for the free availability of academic research literature, was born out of discontent with rising costs and has led to the launch of open access journals and the creation of institutional repositories....Recommendation 3: The Government of Canada should move ahead as rapidly as possible with the process of formulating and implementing a national strategy of research and development on the dissemination of scholarly knowledge.' (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)

SIIA coming around?

Chuck Richard, More from SIIA, Outsell Now, February 2, 2005. Notes from the SIIA Summit. Excerpt: ' "Google as the Devil" is no more. What is new is the event's – and the traditional information industry's – apparent new attitude toward Google (and by association, the rest of the open Internet as a force in the industry). No longer are businesses describing how they are protecting their turf from Google. Most are actively working with Google on some level, and more importantly, many are going way beyond that, working with other sites and channels that do not involve Google. Kelly Gay of KnowledgeStorm noted that her company has over 80 partner sites that generate leads and traffic. There is an upbeat tone to those discussions, as if everyone has figured out that the openness of the internet is an advantage, not a threat.' (PS: Note to SIIA. If the openness of the internet is an advantage, can you try to undo the damage you caused by lobbying to terminate the funding for PubScience?)

More on the WIPO development agenda and OA

Brazil reshapes debate on intellectual property, Reuters, February 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'This year, the U.N.'s World Intellectual Property Organization, which critics say traditionally has worked to tighten patent rules, is expected to loosen them under a joint Argentine-Brazil initiative that could, for example, improve access to patented AIDS drugs....Advocates of open-source technology say society is morally obligated to increase access to knowledge and that science produces better results faster under a collaborative research model.'

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

John Ziman, 1925-2005

John Ziman died on January 2. His vision of science, and its need for collaborative work and open communication, inspired many of today's open-access advocates. For details on his life and career, see Jerry Ravetz' obituary in The Guardian.

Jan Velterop, publisher of BioMed Central, wrote this testimonial to Ziman: 'May his insight that "scientific research is essentially a corporate activity, in which the community achieves far more that the sum of the efforts of its members" and his observation that "the failure to be aware of some small piece of published knowledge may be very costly indeed" (both expressed in the 1960's, well before the internet made open access a potential reality), live on and motivate many to help bring about open access to science.'

Here's an excerpt from Ziman's book, Public Knowledge (Cambridge, 1968): 'There is not much doubt that, in a purely factual sense, Science is a form of Public Knowledge. The whole procedure of publication and citation, the abhorrence of secrecy, the libraries full of periodicals and treatises,...Freedom to learn and freedom to teach, cosmopolitanism and internationalism, conferences, abstract journals and encyclopedias -- all are in the service of the mutual exchange of information. If there is, indeed, a technical crisis in these procedures,...then Science itself will be severely hampered....The absolute need to communicate one's findings, and to make them acceptable to other people, determines their intellectual forms.'

More on the Google library project

Declan Butler, Publishers irritated by Google's digital library, Nature 443, 446 (3 February 2005). (Access restricted to subscribers.) Butler reports of Google's evident neglect to secure permission from publishers for digitization of texts in its collaborative project with major research libraries. Sally Morris of ALPSP comments that no such deals have been made, and Terry Hulbert of IoP remarks: "Google should have spoken to the learned societies and publishers" prior to announcing the project. However, Google claims it is "working closely with publishers." Meanwhile, Peter Kosewski of Harvard University Library "says the library believes that the way Google intends to handle copyrighted works is consistent with the law."

Price barriers as influence barriers

Mike Masnick, Why Newspaper Archives Remain Fee-Based, a blog posting on today's TechDirt. Excerpt: 'Mark Glaser's latest article for the Online Journalism Review takes a look at the debate over whether or not newspapers should open up their archives for free. It includes a quote from Martin Nisenholtz, CEO of New York Times Digital, scoffing at the idea they should open up their archives: "We're not about to give away something that the marketplace is paying a huge premium for already -- unless you could get a lot more than that premium in some other way, which you can't, believe me, there's no way. There's no analysis to show that Google AdWords gets you anything close to what we make on archives on the Web -- never mind all the money we make on the after-market sales. It's so ridiculous as to be laughable." Of course, that's making a few assumptions, which might not prove to be true, such as the idea that the only way to get other revenue out of free content is Google AdWords. Google AdWords is one solution, and an easy one, but like most easy solutions, it's probably not the most lucrative. If that's all the NY Times is considering, they need to hire someone with a bit more business sense. It also doesn't take into account the importance of how much influence a news organization has, and how they can lose much of it by closing off their content.' (PS: How much of this analysis --Mike Masnick's or Mark Glaser's-- transfers to scholarly journal publishing?)

Archiving ejournals

Ramune Kubilius, Sieze the E-Journal: Models for Archiving symposium: report, Journal of the Medical Library Association, January 2005. Excerpt: 'A half-day symposium, "Seize the E-Journal: Models for Archiving," was held, May 26, 2004, after the conclusion of MLA '04, the 104th Annual Meeting of the Medical Library Association (MLA), in Washington, DC.' This is a summary of the presentations and discussion.

OA and the ecosystem of scholarly communication

Rick Forsman, Life and death on the coral reef: an ecological perspective on scholarly publishing in the health sciences, Journal of the Medical Library Association, January 2005. Excerpt: 'Management guru Warren Bennis says that leaders are all too often "thwarted by an unconscious conspiracy to preserve the status quo", and many would say that describes those faculty members who would like to ignore electronic publishing and the new possibilities it presents. Some faculty and librarians actively strive to sustain the status quo, often in direct conflict with those seeking to push change through promulgation of new online journals. We need to convince our fellow librarians and faculty colleagues that change is essential, it is in their best interest, and it merits action....With the advent of HighWire Press, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, PubMed Central, BioMed Central, BioOne, the Open Archives Initiative, and the Public Library of Science comes the chance to transform scholarly communication in very fundamental ways....Open access and related publications are beginning to have a huge impact on the print world. They are being cited as widely and used even more frequently than print journals for the same subject disciplines. If ever we had a chance to help break the old mold and design a new one for the future, this is that time. The free market demonstrates the continual failure of many would-be commercial firms. It appears that electronic publishing may well reduce the stranglehold of monopolies and, at least for a time, restore a freer free market. MLA members are key players in that marketplace, and we are more than mere buyers. By working with faculty colleagues, we can play a role in controlling the supply of resources to various publishing vehicles as well as the way they are accessed. If we do not take a part in this revolution, we will surely be its victims....If we accept the application of a biological ecosystem as a model that aptly fits the publishing world, we must pay attention to the chain of interdependencies in that model and not just focus on one factor, such as open access versus for profit. We must acknowledge the complexities, our incomplete understanding of the fragile dynamics, and the danger of well-intended but ignorant meddling.'

February issue of SOAN

I just mailed the February issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. In addition to the usual round-up of news from the past month, it takes a close look at recent revisions that water down the NIH public-access policy. The Top Stories section includes notes on the new self-archiving policy from Nature and the three new OA journals from the Public Library of Science.

Update. I'm having trouble with the list software. So at least for the next few hours, the February issue will only be available online.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

More on the UK government response

Richard Wray, Open access moves a step closer, The Guardian, February 2, 2005. Excerpt: 'Proponents of free, unfettered access to scientific research were given a boost yesterday when the government said it did not oppose so-called open access publishing, although it "does not want to force a premature transition to a different system". In its second response to a report from a committee of MPs last summer, the government also backed moves to allow academics to archive articles published by traditional houses such as Reed Elsevier on the web. "The government recognises the potential benefits of institutional repositories and sees them as a significant development worthy of encouragement," the government said. It stopped short, however, of agreeing to MPs' demands that money be made available to help universities set up online archives.'

More on the UK government response

Mark Chillingworth, Government sticks by its OA policy, Information World Review, February 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'In its response to the House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee's 14th Report of Sessions, released today, the Government stood by the decisions made last summer in response to the Scientific Publications: Free for all? report. The Government's latest 4-page riposte curtly outlines its position - accepting that institutional repositories offer "potential benefits" and deeming them "worthy of encouragement". But it believes it is up to individual institutions to make their own arrangements. It also confirmed it is continuing to opt for a "market-driven" solution to the question of OA publishing.'..."The most positive aspect of this response is that the Government has stated it is willing to work with the Research Councils UK towards a common policy on the author pays model," said Fred Friend, a Joint Information Systems Committee consultant on open access publishing....The Research Councils UK, a government scientific funding body, will release an open access policy later this year based on the views of the scientific community.'

More on OA at Boston College

Matt Villano, Electronic Publishing >> Book 'Em, Syllabus Magazine, February 1, 2005. Mostly about priced electronic textbooks, but touches on OA, especially at Boston College. Excerpt: 'eScholarship [the Boston College repository] began back in 2002, when Bob Gerrity, head of systems at the school library, spearheaded a plan to replace the school's tradition of microfilming dissertations with a push to publish them online. For $6,000, the school licensed Digital Commons software from Berkeley Electronic Press to digitize the documents and catalog them in an online database. By 2003, between doctoral dissertations and senior theses from the school's undergraduate honors program, BC had amassed a few hundred original works. At the same time, Gerrity also used the same software to support the publication of Web-only journals, and spent weeks gauging faculty interest in editing them...."We pay millions of dollars a year for subscriptions to scholarly journals that publish research produced by our own faculty!" he fumes. "There had to be a different way to approach the whole system."...BC now pays ProQuest $35,000 per year, but the school receives an unlimited amount of database storage for that fee. Starting in June, Gerrity says he plans to take full advantage of the option for limitless growth, rolling out the repository to the campus at large....Across academia, a number of other organizations, the Digital Library Federation for one, are pushing for the very same thing. At the heart of the effort is an initiative called Open Access, launched at a 2001 meeting of the Open Society Initiative in Budapest to deliver scholarly content in ways that enable users to access it with any form of technology, from any place, at any time. The initiative calls for the free availability of all peer-reviewed journal articles, and also includes any unreviewed pre-prints that scholars might wish to put online for comment, or to alert colleagues to important research findings...."Open Access is certainly something we're looking into," says [David] Serbun, the VP of Houghton [Mifflin]. "The issue for us is money; there is a cost that goes into authoring, developing, revising, and reviewing the content that somewhere, at some point, someone has to bear."'

From print to repository

Yesterday eCopy announced that its scanning software now integrates with some document management systems, enabling users to scan paper documents, route the searchable PDF to a specific repository, and then annotate it with metadata. For more details, see the press release. (PS: It appears that this system only works with some document management systems and not with any that are likely to be part of an OA institutional repository. But it shows that we're getting very close to eliminating the ergonomic hurdle to self-archiving older articles that are only available in print form.)

Free downloading and copying of library e-books

Susan Gilmore, King County library lets you copy its e-books, The Seattle Times, January 31, 2005. Excerpt: 'For audio-book addicts, the King County Library System has something for you and you don't even have to set foot in a library. Last November, the county library became the first in the nation to allow people to download audio "e-books" to home computers. An e-book can be downloaded from the library's Web site onto a computer and either burned to a CD or transferred to an MP3 player. For free.' (Thanks to LIS News.)

"A utopian possibility that one should explore to the limit"

Peter Monaghan interviews McKenzie Wark, author of A Hacker Manifesto, in the January 28 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt, quoting Wark: 'Until the late 60s, one thought of copyright or patent as a kind of limited device, in the context of thinking of knowledge as something that should be shared. Intellectual property turns it into the equivalent of a private-property right. That's equivalent to the enclosure of the commons, in my view....Information has really peculiar qualities. My possession of some piece of it does not deprive you of it. So the usual laws of scarcity don't apply. With the rise of digital technology, for the first time we have something that can, at least in part, really escape from scarcity....That presents a utopian possibility that one should explore to the limit. But what one finds is that we are increasingly shoving information back into the logic of the old economy of scarce things by legal and technical means....If you're a programmer, or a musician, or a philosopher, or a biologist, or a chemist -- those tend to be fairly separate cultural worlds. But all that we make is now rendered equivalent in the marketplace by the privatizing of information, by intellectual property. So the first thing is to see a common interest that isn't really addressed by completely privatizing information. It's not in the interest of the United States or any country to make information available only to those who can pay for it. That's not how you advance science. That's not how you advance democracy.'

TA editorial on OA

Gavin Jamieson, Open access: the future of academic publishing? Cardiology in the Young, October 2004 (online edition January 21, 2005). Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

The Delhi Declaration

On January 21, 17 countries that are home to 60-70% of the Earth's biodiversity (the Like Minded Megadiverse Countries, or LMMC) agreed to the Delhi Declaration of Megadiverse Contries on Access and Benefit Sharing. From the press release of the Indian government: 'The New Delhi Ministerial Declaration of Like Minded Megadiverse Countries on Access and Benefit Sharing, issued here today, at the end of five-day meet of the Megadiverse countries, also stated that the proposed international regime on access and benefit sharing (ABS) should include "mandatory disclosure of the country of origin of biological material and associated traditional knowledge in the IPR (Intellectual Property Right) application, along with an undertaking that the prevalent laws and practices of the country of origin have been respected and mandatory specific consequences in the event of failure to disclose the country of origin in the IPR application"....The onus of benefit sharing must also be shared by the user country to create an enabling environment and confidence through legislative measures so as to ensure compliance of PIC [prior informed consent] stipulations and equitable sharing of benefits as visualized in the [Convention on Biological Diversity].' (PS: The Delhi principles focus on sharing genetic resources and money generated from them. It's not clear whether it would increase or decrease access to the associated traditional knowledge.)

Fedora 2.0 released

The University of Virginia and Cornell University have announced the release of Fedora 2.0. Fedora is one of the major open-source packages for creating and maintaining open-access, OAI-compliant scholarly archives. From the release notes for 2.0: 'Fedora 2.0 is a major release that culminates Phase I of the initial Fedora project that began in October 2001 and ended in October 2004. Fedora 2.0 includes significant new features and improvements including the introduction of the Fedora Object XML (FOXML) schema as the new internal storage format for objects, introduction of the Resource Index that provides enhanced search capability, introduction of a Batch Modify utility, upgrades of all third party libraries, performance enhancements, and a number of bug fixes.'

UK government response to committee report on OA

The UK government released a new response (dated January 26, released February 1) to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's response (November 8, 2004) to the government's rejection of the committee's report (July 20, 2004) on open access and STM publishing. Excerpt: 'The Government should be supporting the best and most cost effective way possible to channel scientific outputs and at the moment it is not demonstrable that the 'author pays' model is the better system....DTI has not sought to neutralise the views of JISC....The Government has not decided against the author-pays model, but does not want to force a premature transition to a different system. To strongly endorse or reject the author-pays approach would not be in the interests of allowing the market itself to evolve to meet the needs of authors and the wider academic community....The Government recognises the potential benefits of Institutional Repositories and sees them as a significant development worthy of encouragement. But it believes that each Institution has to make its own decision about Institutional Repositories depending on individual circumstances.'

(PS: This response suffers from the same problems as the government's November response. First, it focuses more on OA journals than OA repositories, when the committee report did the reverse. Second, it dismisses the primary recommendation --for mandated OA for taxpayer-funded research through OA repositories-- without addressing the committee's evidence and arguments. In November the committee criticized the government for precisely these two failings, and in this response the government is repeating them.)

How Google Scholar serves scholars

Carol Tenopir, Google in the Academic Library, Library Journal, February 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'The material in Google Scholar is not just the peer-reviewed journals available in systems like ScienceDirect, Web of Science, or SciFinder; it also includes bibliographic information about books (scholarly or not) from the OCLC WorldCat database, book reviews, and links to publishers' web sites. Occasionally, other material sneaks through, but my sample searches largely retrieved mostly relevant, relatively scholarly materials. A search of "genome project" retrieved several thousand records. The first few screens were mostly articles in PubMed and other full-text journal sources (some available only when my IP address was recognized as coming from a subscribing library and others only as pay-per-view), a few abstracts, a book description, and some dead links. Searching for "geysers" yielded similar results but with more books and book reviews. WorldCat provided the nearest library that holds the title when I put in my zip code as prompted....On the full Google, "geyser" took me to the National Park Service sites, spring water companies, tourist companies, and more. The few truly academic things were buried. Google Scholar seems to have solved this problem....Google Scholar has real potential to provide easy, one-stop access to articles in both subscription journals and items in institutional repositories, open access journals, and e-print servers. Although the beta version does not yet include Open Archives harvested materials, the power of identifying academic materials buried in a sea of web flotsam is enticing. But easy access to multiple sources unwittingly highlights a multiple version problem. Preprints, revised versions, and final versions of articles all get retrieved.'

More on the Cornell calculation

Andrew Albanese, Cornell: Open Access Costly, Library Journal, February 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'A task force convened by the Cornell University Libraries (CUL) has delivered a sober assessment of author-pays open access (OA) publishing. Given the number of articles published by Cornell faculty members, the library system could "see its expenditures rise significantly if the library used its current subscription funds to pay for author fees." Instead, the task force predicts both subscriptions and open access publishing will coexist for the foreseeable future, particularly when subscriptions are "administered by scholarly societies, university presses, and academic libraries." ' (PS: For my thoughts on the calculation that OA journals would cost research institutions more than TA journals, see my comment on this blog posting from 1/23/05, last week.)

Library principles on access to knowledge

Several library groups have drafted a set of principles for the WIPO Development Agenda and its forthcoming Access to Knowledge Treaty. Excerpt:

1.1. All works created by governmental authorities should be in the public domain.
1.2. Published works resulting from government-funded research should be publicly available at no charge within a reasonable time frame.
1.3. Facts and other public domain materials, and works lacking in creativity, should not be subject to copyright or copyright-like protections.
1.4. Consistent with the Berne Convention, the term of copyright should be the life of the author plus 50 years. The term of copyright should not be extended retroactively. [...]
3.2. Copying of individual items for or by individual users should be permitted for personal research and study. [...]
4.2 The goals and policies set out in this document are important statements of national and international principle and should not be varied by contract.

The principles were formulated in December 2004 and released onlaine January 26, 2005, by American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), American Library Association (ALA), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), Medical Library Association (MLA), and the Special Libraries Association (SLA).

(PS: These principles are excellent: brief yet comprehensive, clear, and with perfect pitch for policy. The library groups welcome the endorsements of other organizations. Please talk to your group about signing on.)

Monday, January 31, 2005

PubMed Central adds 7 new BMC titles

Catching up from a spate of end of year independent journal launches at BioMed Central, PubMed Central added seven new titles last week. BMC deposits copies of all of the Open Access journals which they host in independent repositories to ensure the long term availability of the content. A new wrinkle, at least to my knowledge, is that BioMed Central is a participant in the LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) initiative. Frontiers in Zoology - Fulltext v1+ (2004+) from BioMed Central | from PubMed Central; ISSN: 1742-9994. Emerging Themes in Epidemiology - Fulltext v1+ (2004+) from BioMed Central | from PubMed Central; ISSN: 1742-7622. Journal of Autoimmune Diseases - Fulltext v1+ (2004+) from BioMed Central | from PubMed Central; ISSN: 1740-2557. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation - Fulltext v1+ (2004+) from BioMed Central | from PubMed Central; ISSN: 1743-0003. Immunity & Ageing - Fulltext v1+ (2004+) from BioMed Central | from PubMed Central; ISSN: 1742-4933. Australia and New Zealand Health Policy - Fulltext v1+ (2004+) from BioMed Central | from PubMed Central; ISSN: 1743-8462. Cerebrospinal Fluid Research - Fulltext v1+ (2004+) from BioMed Central | from PubMed Central; ISSN: 1743-8454. (Thanks to the PMC-News mailing list.)

Two German OA resources

German scholars should note (1) MetaGer, a search engine for German university eprint repositories, and (2) the OA section of DigiZeitschriften, which links to the digitized and OA back issues of historic German journals, some going back to the first half of the 19th century. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Nature's new archiving policy

Tracey Caldwell, Nature opts for new policy on archiving, Information World Review, January 31, 2005. Excerpt: 'Nature Publishing Group (NPG) has changed its self-archiving policy to allow authors to publish articles on a funding body's archive site six months after publication. Previously, authors were only permitted to self-archive their contribution on their personal websites. Now, authors of original research papers published by NPG will be encouraged to submit the peer-reviewed manuscript to their funding body's archive, their institution's repositories and their personal websites for release six months after publication....Peter Suber, editor of the Open Access News blog...told IWR: "This is a significant step. It even goes beyond the NIH 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 website." Suber told IWR: "I hope [the embargo on self-archiving] does not become a...standard as that is contrary to the public interest....I would not like to see [an embargo] applied where it had not been before." '

(PS: The first quotation in this article is taken my blog posting of 1/10/05, which I wrote before I confirmed that Nature was indeed trying to introduce a six-month embargo on self-archiving. My position now is that the policy makes an advance by encouraging self-archiving, and not just on personal web sites, but that it makes a very regrettable retreat by attempting to add a six-month embargo on self-archiving. I'll say more in the February SOAN, which will mail in a day or two.)

January issue of Ariadne

The January issue of Ariadne is now online. Here are the OA-related articles.

New OA journal

Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture (WPCC) is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal from the University of Westminster. The first issue appeared in November 2004. WPPC has a priced, print edition for those who want it. The submission guidelines do not mention processing fees.

OA to California-funded stem-cell research

David Shatto is trying to persuade the State of California to provide open access to California-funded stem-cell research. From his public announcement yesterday: 'California will soon start spending $3 billion over 10 years on biomedical research. How it handles the breakthroughs it makes can bring tremendous benefits - not only to Californians, but for all humanity. The organization that will decide how these breakthroughs are controlled has a lot of pressure from many different competing interests. I'm starting a project that would urge them to do what Jonas Salk did with his polio vaccine in the early 1950's - make all breakthoughs freely available to all humanity.' Also see the Slashdot thread he has launched on this topic. (PS: I hope all OA supporters in California can join David in this effort.)

Good mainstream intro to OA

Glennda Chui, Taxpayers pay twice for health research, San Jose Mercury News, January 31, 2005. Excerpt: 'The National Institutes of Health spends billions of tax dollars each year to investigate human disease. But if you want to find the latest research on a particular illness, good luck. The results are published in journals. Most require subscriptions or per-article fees to access their pages over the Internet. Subscription prices have been going up three times faster than the rate of inflation, averaging more than $1,000 a year in some fields; reading a single article can cost $30. Consumer advocates, scientists and librarians are challenging that system. In this Internet age, they say, with the cost of disseminating information falling fast, why should the public have to pay for it -- especially when their taxes funded it? "We had trouble getting papers about our kids' disease when our kids were diagnosed, and we still have trouble," said Sharon F. Terry of Potomac, Md., whose sons have a rare genetic illness. She is president and chief executive of Genetic Alliance, a coalition of advocacy groups and health professionals....When scouring the Web for information, she said, "inevitably you come up against a screen that says for $30 you can have this article. That's just unconscionable. We already paid for those articles. They're funded by taxpayer dollars." Spurred by complaints from the public and Congress, the NIH is considering a policy that would make the results of research it sponsors available to the public, for free, within six months after it is published. And a small but growing number of scientific and medical journals are offering their articles to readers for free -- part of an "open access" movement that's been gaining momentum for a decade. The movement is "one of the most exciting and radical events in publishing in recent years," said an October report by Thomson Scientific....According to the Association of Research Libraries, the price of the average journal subscription shot up 215 percent from 1986 to 2003, more than three times the rate of inflation....This has forced many libraries to cut subscriptions. "Our faculty are the ones generating this knowledge," said Karen Butter, university librarian for the University of California-San Francisco. "And then they're giving it away, in many cases to commercial publishers, who are then selling it back to us." She said UCSF has had to prune its collections "down to the bare bones."..."We're getting away from the world in which scientific information was going to belong to everybody, and was going to be out there for everybody to use and build on, and toward a world in which information is a private commodity," said Michael Eisen, a biologist at the University of California-Berkeley and one of the founders of PLoS. In an open letter in August, 25 Nobel laureates appealed to Congress to make the results of government-funded studies, "including our own works," available to the public without delay.'

Sunday, January 30, 2005

More on the costs of publishing ejournals (OA and TA)

Todd Carpenter, Heather Joseph, and Mary Waltham, A survey of business trends at BioOne publishing partners and its implications for BioOne, Portal, October 2004. Abstract: 'This paper describes a survey of BioOne participating publishers that was conducted during the fall of 2003. In that survey, BioOne collected data from 18 not-for-profit publishers on circulation levels, scholarly output in terms of pages and articles produced, revenues, and expenditures. From eight of the publishers, complete profit, loss, and circulation information was gathered, while the remaining 10 publishers only provided circulation data and answered general operations questions. This information was then compiled to compare the business operations of these publishers against industry-standard benchmarks to assess their business practices and to examine the effect of recent trends on publishers’ revenue streams and costs. The paper also explores these data in relation to shifting to a publishing model based not on print but electronic subscriptions.' (Thanks to Jonas Holmström.)

OA journal publishing: successes and issues

Lynne Horwood and Shirley Sullivan, The Open Access model of research publishing, a preprint. An unusually detailed and careful survey of the issues. Abstract: 'New models of research publication have been developing in recent years. Examples include the open access journal model (such as BioMed Central (BMC)) and Public Library of Science (PLoS)), and growth in number and content of institutional and subject based repositories. Open access publishing, in particular, has made spectacular inroads over the past 12 months. The paper will discuss features of open access journal publishing, the benefits they offer to academic institutions and the responses from the publishing, library and academic communities.'

Access to digital scholarship in Africa

Daniel Gelaw Alemneh and Samantha Kelly Hastings, Ensuring Universal Access for the Global Information Flow: Responding to the Demands of Scholarship in the Digital Age, a PPT conference presentation. Abstract: 'This presentation was presented in Session 6.4 – Reports of Current Research (Juried Papers), at the 2005 ALISE Conference [Boston, January 11-14, 2005]. It uses 20 slides to summarize current situations and developing trends of information technologies. It raises an important issue in the development – globalization, which emphasizes the efficiency of modern technologies in delivering information to people around the world. Africa is used as a case to illustrate how local policies have played important roles in the process of information globalization.'