Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, February 19, 2005

More on the economics of OA journals

Comparing Traditional & Newer Open Access Journals, a press release from the Georgia Institute of Technology (February 19). Excerpt: 'Dr. Mark McCabe, assistant professor in the School of Economics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, studies the economic viability of a new approach to academic publishing called Open Access. On February 19 at the 2005 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting, McCabe will present "The Economics of Open Access Publishing: A Strategic Perspective," during a session entitled, "Changing Scientific Publishing: Open Access and Implications for Working Scientists." McCabe will present findings from his ongoing research on scientific communication with co-author Christopher M. Snyder of George Washington University. Their research compares the traditional business model of scholarly journals in which the "Reader Pays" for a (possibly electronic) subscription with the newer "Author Pays" or "Open Access" publishing model....With perfect competition between equal quality journals, Open Access appears efficient when distribution costs are minimal, and author and reader benefits are roughly equal. Under these conditions, Open Access maximizes the total net benefits for authors and readers and for society as a whole. However, if readers obtain disproportionate benefits from reading additional articles, it can be efficient to have positive reader fees in order to subsidize authors' submissions.'

Crispin Davis on university budgets and OA

Dan Milmo, Lancet publisher scathing about university funding in UK, The Guardian, February 18, 2005. Elsevier CEO Crispin Davis has criticized the UK government for inadequate funding of UK universities. Excerpt: 'The state of university funding in the UK is "unacceptable" and the government must act to preserve the global reputation of British academic institutions, the chief executive of media group Reed Elsevier said yesterday....In recent years the business has not fired on all cylinders, with an advertising downturn blighting its trade magazine business and pressure on academic library budgets affecting its scientific and medical journal division. Sir Crispin entered the debate on university funding by warning that the "right decisions" needed to be made to ensure that British universities produced high-quality research....Among some academics, the pressure on library budgets has created an interest in open access publishing, where scientific research is made freely available to everyone over the internet.'

(PS: He's right about the funding, of course, and his critique shouldn't be dismissed just because he's an interested advocate. But we should ask the background question: Would adequately funded universities still be interested in OA? The answer is that they definitely would be, and are (see examples here and here), and that they are interested in OA for the same reasons that they are interested in discovering new knowledge, disseminating it, and taking advantage of new technologies to do it better.)

Testimonial: OAN is the "paper of record" for the OA movement

Karen Schneider, a.k.a. Free Range Librarian, has classed Open Access News among the blogs worth reading. Excerpt: 'I track over 100 blogs, but I really like several dozen, and they are all over the map--news, librariana, literature, technology, opinion, humor, and other kibbles and bits. This week I'll talk about two very different blogs, one from academia/librarianship and the other from the world of books: Open Access News and Beatrix....It's fascinating to watch the open access movement develop, and this blog is its paper of record. Additional features include definitions of open access, a detailed timeline of the open access movement, and related links.' (Thanks, Karen!)

More on Berlin3

Southampton University's School of Electronics and Computer Science has issued a press release about the upcoming Berlin3 conference (February 28 - March 1). Excerpt: 'A meeting of international institutions which have signed up to Open Access (OA) could result in a united policy creating a huge growth in free access to research findings....The purpose of this meeting, which will include representatives from Europe, the US, India and Pakistan, is to implement the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, which has now been signed by 55 major international research institutes since its launch in Berlin in October 2003, an initiative widely hailed at the time as world-leading....The University of Southampton will be proposing a Unified Open Access Provision Policy, as a practical way to implement the Berlin OA Declaration based on the successful approach it has recently adopted and announced. It will suggest that universities and research institutions worldwide should adopt a policy that all of their published research journal articles (whether in OA or non-OA journals) are deposited - immediately and permanently - in their own institutional OA Archives, freely accessible to all potential users worldwide (rather than just to those whose institutions can afford the access-tolls of the non-OA journals).'

Friday, February 18, 2005

Commentary in JNCI

Importance of Communication Between Producers and Consumers of Publicly Available Experimental Data: Abstract of a commentary by Lance A. Liotta and co-authors in Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2005(Feb 16); 97(4): 310-314. An excerpt: "In an effort to assist others who are perfecting mass spectrometry platforms for profiling, ongoing experimental data were posted for public consumption. An unintended consequence of unrestricted access to experimental data is the risk of inappropriate conclusions drawn and publicly disseminated that could have been avoided by communication between the producers and consumers of the data".

Is OA gaining or losing ground?

Philip Aldrick, The Questor Column, Telegraph, February 18, 2005. Excerpt: 'For once, Reed Elsevier the largest quoted media company in Europe had nothing but good news to report at its full-year results yesterday. Sir Crispin Davis, chief executive, is more used to political bickering over "open access" scientific publishing, restructuring and problems in at least one of four markets. This time, he could afford a grin on the annual plod round Reed's worthy but unexciting legal, scientific, education and business divisions. "The outlook for all our markets is better," he said, as the company ramped up its dividend policy. The "open access" threat to the system of researchers subscribing to Reed's scientific journals also appeared to diminish. For the first time in seven years, the publishing method lost market share.'

(PS: What is Crispin Davis talking about? I haven't seen any report or any evidence to suggest that OA is losing market share. On the contrary, all the signs I've seen suggest growing acceptance, growing provision, and growing share. If there's more to Davis' claim than CEO-speak, then I'd like to know about it. Please post any contrary indications to SOAF or drop me a line.)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Google Scholar and the version control problem

Ed Pentz, CrossRef Search Pilot, CrossRef Newsletter, February 14, 2005. Excerpt: 'On January 27th, representatives from the CrossRef board and staff - Tony Durniak (IEEE), Gordon Tibbitts (Blackwell), Craig Van Dyck (Wiley), Ed Pentz and Chuck Koscher (CrossRef) - had a very productive meeting at Google regarding Google Scholar, CrossRef Search and establishing a more formal business relationship between CrossRef and Google. Google agreed with the principle that if there are multiple versions of an article shown in the Google Scholar search results, the first link will be to the publisher's authoritative copy. Google would like to use the DOI as the primary means to link to an article so CrossRef and Google will be working on this as well as a template for common terms and conditions for use of publishers full text content. The CrossRef Search Committee feels that CrossRef Search still provides a valuable service as a search focused on authoritative, peer-reviewed literature from a known set of sources. Google Scholar is a very broad search of all the web and includes any material that "looks scholarly" and the material comes from an unknown set of sources. Therefore, the schedule is for results from CrossRef Search to be delivered from Google Scholar starting in April (the results now come from the regular Google index).' (Thanks to Gary Price.)

More on open-source science

Kevin Davies, The 2005 Database Explosion, Bio IT World, February 11, 2005. Excerpt: 'The 2005 compendium of molecular biology databases compiled and published by Nucleic Acids Research shows a dramatic increase of 171 databases from 2004, bringing the new total up to 719. The compendium, which is restricted to freely available life science databases that do not require downloading of special software (because of firewall restrictions), is accessible online....Michael Galperin, an investigator at the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the NIH who coordinated the new compendium, says the compendium shows that "the open database movement is here to stay, and more and more people in the community (as well as in the financing bodies) now appreciate the importance of open databases in spreading knowledge." '

OA increases impact in astrophysics

Greg Schwarz and Robert Kennicutt Jr., Demographic and Citation Trends in Astrophysical Journal papers and Preprints, a preprint. Abstract: 'We have used data from ADS, AAS, and astro-ph, to study the publishing, preprint posting, and citation patterns for papers published in the ApJ in 1999 and 2002. This allowed us to track statistical trends in author demographics, preprint posting habits, and citation rates for ApJ papers as a whole and across various subgroups and types of ApJ papers. The most interesting results are the frequencies of use of the astro-ph server across various subdisciplines of astronomy, and the impact that such posting has on the citation history of the subsequent ApJ papers. By 2002 72% of ApJ papers were posted as astro-ph preprints, but this fraction varies from 22-95% among the subfields studied. A majority of these preprints (61%) were posted after the papers were accepted at ApJ, and 88% were posted or updated after acceptance. On average, ApJ papers posted on astro-ph are cited more than twice as often as those that are not posted on astro-ph. This difference can account for a number of other, secondary citation trends, including some of the differences in citation rates between journals and different subdisciplines. Preprints clearly have supplanted the journals as the primary means for initially becoming aware of papers, at least for a large fraction of the ApJ author community. Publication in a widely-recognized peer-reviewed journal remains as the primary determinant of the impact of a paper, however. For example, conference proceedings papers posted on astro-ph are also cited twice as frequently as those that are not posted, but overall such papers are still cited 20 times less often than the average ApJ paper. These results provide insights into how astronomical research is currently disseminated by authors and ingested by readers.' (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

OAI synergies with the Search/Retrieve Webservice

Robert Sanderson, Jeffrey Young, and Ralph LeVan, SRW/U with OAI: Expected and Unexpected Synergies, D-Lib Magazine, February 2005. Abstract: 'SRW/U (the Search/Retrieve Webservice) and OAI (Open Archives Initiative) are both modern information retrieval protocols developed by distinct groups from different backgrounds at around the same time. This article sets out to briefly contrast the two protocols' aims and approaches, and then to look at some novel ways in which they have been or may be usefully co-implemented. While using SRW as a search service to an OAI repository or aggregated data set is an obvious synergy, there are also many other useful architectures that can be constructed without bending the protocols' semantics.'

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

OA and the information crisis

David Prosser, Open Access: answer to the information crisis. A PPT presentation at the symposium, Information management in science and technology (Zurich, January 27-28, 2005).

Questions about the Google library plan

Roy Tennant, Google Out of Print, Library Journal, February 15, 2005. Excerpt: 'Since Google announced its initiative to digitize all, or major portions, of the book collections in select research libraries, I've struggled to figure out what to think of it (see "Google Is Adding Major Libraries to Its Database."). This is so difficult, in part, because we have so little information....Evidence to the contrary, we must assume that Google does not wish to get sued out of existence for violating U.S. copyright law. Therefore, it will be able to display only tiny snippets of books under copyright. According to [Elizabeth] Edwards [of the Stanford libraries], "Google will be responsible for determining what's in copyright and what's not if there are any questionable materials, and copyright will drive what will be fully displayed."...The problem is that determining what is in the public domain can be difficult....Without expensive research, the only works that can be displayed in full are materials published before 1923....The only thing we know for sure is that the public will have access to all pre-1923 imprints digitized and an unknown number of post-1923 books. Unfortunately, I can think of few situations where having access to only pre-1923 literature is a good thing....What does Google want out of all this? Will it be satisfied with context-sensitive ad placements next to displayed books, with ads for antidepression medication shown next to Hamlet's soliloquy? I wonder, too, how Google plans to compensate its many shareholders impatiently waiting for a killing on their investment. Like many things about this project, Google isn't saying.'

Tutorial on making PDF editions of digital scholarship

Ohio State University has produced an online tutorial, Create an Electronic Thesis or Dissertation Using Adobe Acrobat. The same tutorial should help scholars who want to make PDF versions of their eprints before depositing them in repositories.

More on MLI and PubChem

Bill Schu, Big Plans for Small Molecules, Genomics and Proteomics, January/February 2005. Excerpt: 'As part of its Roadmap for Medical Research, NIH is embarking on a sweeping series of initiatives to equip academic researchers with the same toolset available to most pharmaceutical companies. The effort, called the Molecular Libraries Initiative, is likely to have a profound influence on our understanding of biological pathways....What if that small molecule that didn't show much promise could have led to a cure for breast cancer? What if a small molecule that interacts with a gene and shows some toxicity could interact with some proteins in a biologically beneficial manner? Christopher Austin, MD, senior advisor for translational research for the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has perhaps been more haunted by these possibilities than most. In his previous position as a senior researcher at Merck & Co., he was familiar with the kinds of information that large pharmaceutical companies had access to, but that academic researchers did not. Of particular interest to Austin was information surrounding how small molecules interacted with proteins, DNA, and RNA. NIH is banking on the fact that academic researchers, if given access to heretofore unavailable libraries of organic chemical compounds or small molecules, can use those molecules to better understand the biological pathways associated with human health....Now, the NIH Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC) is poised to answer those questions. A coordinated effort will include at least four distinct groups within NIH, a handful of academic screening centers, and the creation of PubChem, a new [open-access] database that is to house hundreds of thousands of molecular structures. Many officials within NIH believe it is the most ambitious undertaking the group has embarked on since the completion of the map of the human genome.' (PS: PubChem data will be in the public domain.)

More on Information Rx

Lisa Greene, Doctors have prescription for peace of mind, Tampa Bay Times, February 15, 2005. 'Patients come in asking for costly vitamins never proven to help. Some swear they have cancer. Others demand drugs they're sure will cure them. They read it on the Internet so it must be right, they tell their doctors. But is it? Some of the nation's leading doctors are fighting back against what they say is rampant misinformation on the Internet. Nearly 4,000 doctors in six Florida counties - Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Sarasota, Manatee and Collier - are joining in a national pilot project called "Information Rx" to send people to more reputable Web sites....Doctors in the project will write "prescriptions" for two Web sites where their patients can get more information. The first, is the Web site for the U.S. National Library of Medicine, an arm of the National Institutes of Health. The second, is the Web site for the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation. The project is sponsored by those two groups and the AMA Foundation. Pilot programs also are under way in Iowa, Georgia and Virginia. The project is a sign of how much medical views have changed, said Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg, director of the National Library of Medicine. When Lindberg was a student 40 years ago, doctors often believed it best to keep patients in the dark.'

Launch of Serials Union Catalogue

JISC has announced the release of SUNCAT. From today's press release: 'The contents of journals and other serials represent an immense and invaluable resource for researchers in all subjects. However, the task of identifying, locating and accessing these serials, held by institutions across the UK, has up to now presented a significant challenge. The national Serials Union Catalogue (SUNCAT) was today launched to help meet this challenge. Funded by JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) and the RSLP (Research Support Libraries Programme) since 2003, and developed by EDINA at the University of Edinburgh in partnership with Ex Libris, the catalogue has achieved a critical mass of some 3.7m records. These are made up of records from national libraries, the largest UK academic library collections and international databases, such as the ISSN World Serials database and CONSER, the database of MARC21 serials records available from the Library of Congress. As a centralised catalogue of high-quality bibliographic records, SUNCAT will also provide librarians with a means by which local records can be upgraded through access to standardised high-quality records....SUNCAT will also be developed to integrate fully into the emerging national information environment, supporting and contributing to work in the areas of e-theses, repositories, electronic subscription information, online access to journals and electronic document delivery, amongst others. As such, SUNCAT will further develop as a key tool for researchers, librarians and others within colleges, universities and beyond.'

Opening the DOAR

The Universities of Nottingham (in England) and Lund (in Sweden) have announced that they are developing the Directory of Open Access Repositories (DOAR). From the web site: 'A new service is starting development to support the rapidly emerging movement towards Open Access to research information. The new service, called DOAR - the Directory of Open Access Repositories - will categorise and list the wide variety of Open Access research archives that have grown up around the world. Such repositories have mushroomed over the last 2 years in response to calls by scholars and researchers worldwide to provide open access to research information. DOAR will provide a comprehensive and authoritative list of institutional and subject-based repositories, as well as archives set up by funding agencies - like the National Institutes for Health in the USA or the Wellcome Trust in the UK and Europe. Users of the service will be able to analyse repositories by location, type, the material they hold and other measures. This will be of use both to users wishing to find original research papers and for third-party "service providers", like search engines or alert services, which need easy to use tools for developing tailored search services to suit specific user communities. The project is a joint collaboration between the University of Nottingham in the UK and the University of Lund in Sweden. Both institutions are active in supporting Open Access development. Lund operates the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), which is known throughout the world. Nottingham leads SHERPA, an institutional repository project that has helped establish Open Access archives in 20 of the leading UK research universities. Nottingham also runs the SHERPA/RoMEO database, which is used worldwide as a reference for publisher's copyright policies.'

DOAR is funded by the Open Society Institute (OSI), the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), the Consortium of Research Libraries (CURL) and SPARC Europe. For more details, see the DOAR FAQ.

Monday, February 14, 2005

OA to conference proceedings

Proceedings of Science is a new tool for providing OA to conference proceedings. From the web site: 'PoS provides a versatile tool taylored to your conference publishing requirements. Publishing your proceedings on PoS is inexpensive and access by the readership is open without registration or charge. Moreover, the online publication procedure is fast thanks to the software system that runs the entire editorial procedure. Conference organisers are thus provided with a very convenient, web-based tool for running the publication of the proceedings (or lecture notes). Authors are provided with personal pages with all the tools for producing and uploading their contributions....The aim of PoS is to offer a versatile, fast, inexpensive and open tool devised and run by the scientific community for the scientific community. The service will hence be open to all readers free of charge and the fees for publication will be kept low on a not-for-profit basis. PoS is organized by SISSA, the International School for Advanced Studies based in Trieste, making the most of its longstanding experience in the field of online publishing, creating and running electronic journals like JHEP, JCAP, JSTAT and JCOM.' (Thanks to STLQ.)

Open-source tool for creating OA to microarray data

The U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), a division of the NIH, has released open-source software for sharing and analyzing microarray data. Excerpt from the February 11 press release: 'The new tool will advance the NCI's goal of creating an information-sharing network modeled on the World Wide Web for cancer researchers as well as researchers in other fields. The open-source, open-access software tool, caArray version 1.0, developed by the NCI Center for Bioinformatics (NCICB), can be used to create public repositories of microarray data, linking scientists within an institution or around the globe. The tool provides the means for storing, accessing, and exchanging information created through standard platforms. Mechanisms to ensure the controlled and secure sharing of sensitive data are included.'

ACRL on the NIH policy

The ACRL has issued a press release on the NIH public-access policy. Excerpt: 'In letters to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt and NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni, ACRL congratulated NIH for having "taken a significant step to improve public access to NIH-funded research." The new NIH policy will make a large portion of NIH research openly available to the public in PubMed Central within a 12-month timeframe, following publication in peer-reviewed journals. The policy also gives researchers a clear opportunity to make their work openly accessible as soon after publication as they choose, without seeking publisher permission. Frances Maloy, ACRL President, and Ray English, chair of the ACRL Scholarly Communications Committee, expressed concern, however, that the NIH policy is voluntary on the part of researchers, in contrast to an earlier Congressional recommendation. They also noted that the policy would make all research deposited into PubMed Central openly accessible 12 months after publication - far longer than the six months called for in NIH's original draft proposal. "We believe that delays of up to 12 months, especially in biomedical fields, serve neither the interests of science nor the public," the letters state.'

More on the NIH policy

Jocelyn Kaiser, NIH Wants Public Access to Papers 'As Soon As Possible', Science Magazine, February 11, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'After collecting more than 6000 comments from both sides, Zerhouni on 3 February issued a final policy that states NIH will wait up to 1 year to post the papers, although it "strongly encourages" posting "as soon as possible." This "flexibility" will help protect publishers who believe earlier posting will harm revenues, he says. Norka Ruiz Bravo, NIH deputy director for extramural research, expects that authors "will negotiate" the timing with the publisher rather than relying on the publisher's policy for when articles can be posted. NIH will not track compliance or make public access a condition of accepting an NIH grant, she says: "We have no plans to punish anybody who doesn't follow the policy."...Neither side seems satisfied. A group of nonprofit publishers called the D.C. Principles Coalition argues that the $2 million to $4 million per year that NIH estimates it will cost to post 60,000 papers is an unnecessary expense because most nonprofit journals already make papers publicly available in their own searchable archives after a year. "We're concerned about the waste of research dollars," says Martin Frank, executive director of the American Physiological Society in Bethesda, Maryland. Frank also argues that the plan would infringe journals' copyright, and it might not stand up to a legal challenge. For their part, open-access advocates aren't happy about the "voluntary" aspect or the 12-month timeframe. Whether articles will become available any sooner than they are now "is a big 'if,'" says Sharon Terry, president of the Genetic Alliance and an organizer of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access in Washington, D.C. The request that authors try to have their papers posted as soon as possible puts them "in the untenable position" of trying to please both NIH and their publishers, says the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. The only group that seems pleased with the wording is the Public Library of Science (PLoS) in San Francisco, California, which charges authors publication costs and then posts papers immediately upon publication. "We have influence here," says PLoS cofounder Harold Varmus, president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. "The journal may say 12 months, but the journal also wants [the] paper. Researchers are going to be voting with their feet." But that assertion assumes researchers will feel strongly enough to raise the issue with publishers. Virologist Craig Cameron of Pennsylvania State University, University Park, says he will likely rely on the publisher's existing policy even if it's 12 months. "With everything I have to think about on a daily basis, it's not something I would spend a lot of time on," he says.'

Open-source chemistry

Elizabeth Wilson, Open Source For Virtual Screening, Chemical & Engineering News, February 14, 2005. Excerpt: 'Call it the Linux of molecular databases. Chemists have unveiled a new online collection of 2.7 million commercially available compounds, already prepared for use in docking programs--and it's free. ZINC, which stands for ZINC Is Not Commercial, provides a much-needed resource for scientists in search of drug discovery leads, say its creators, associate professor Brian K. Shoichet and assistant adjunct professor John J. Irwin of the pharmaceutical chemistry department at the University of California, San Francisco....Free compound databases are beginning to crop up, however, such as Ligand.Info, ChemBank, and PubChem. But the compounds in many of these still aren't presented in a way that's easy to use in docking programs, and the databases require a lot of updating and maintenance, Shoichet says. Funded by NIH, and with the agreement of chemical companies like Sigma-Aldrich and Pharmeks, ZINC can be used with numerous docking programs. Shoichet and Irwin have produced three-dimensional structures from two-dimensional information, weeded out insoluble forms, and calculated properties such as protonation states and number of rotatable bonds.'

OA health portal coming to the EU

Here's an excerpt from EurActive's February 14 interview with Markos Kyprianou, the EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection.

[Q] During your hearing in the European Parliament you said the protection of patients' rights, including the right to information, was an area of concern to you. How would you improve the flow of information? Will you propose a 'directive on consumer / patient information' during your term in office (as one MEP suggested during your hearing)?

[A] Later this year I plan to launch an EU health portal. This will provide a single point of access to public health and health-related information produced by the EU and its agencies, as well as being a gateway to health information produced by member state authorities. My hope is that our health portal will improve the flow of information to patients and citizens, including in particular young people. I would like to see every EU country make some basic information available on-line about its healthcare system and link it to our portal. They should include practical information about how citizens from other parts of the EU can access treatment. Of course, we will have to rely on the individual healthcare system around the EU to publish this information on-line, and to keep it up to date. Having a directive on patient information would be one way of establishing a clear obligation for member states to do this I certainly do not discount this idea. However, I believe we can persuade national healthcare systems to publish more and better information without resorting to legislation. I am very encouraged by the active role member state authorities are playing in our health portal project.

Asking the right questions about OA

Andy Gass and Helen Doyle, The Reality of Open-Access Journal Articles, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 18, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'Although reasonable people can undoubtedly disagree about aspects of open-access publishing -- generally speaking, making journal articles available online at no charge -- one point is beyond dispute: The concept is no longer merely a theoretical possibility. It is time to move beyond rehashing tired arguments about whether open access poses a threat to publishers, professional societies, or research budgets. We should begin to discuss how best to use what open access gives us: the unfettered availability of scholarly literature. The strongest evidence that open access to peer-reviewed articles is here to stay, at least in the life sciences, comes from two developments: the increasing number of agencies and foundations that have begun to require or encourage free online access to publications based on research they have helped finance; and the growing number of journals that allow authors to make their papers freely available....How will the role of the research library change, as open-access scholarly communication becomes more widely practiced? To what extent will librarians be freed from the burdens of subscription management?...How will reduced legal barriers to reusing articles -- a stipulation of most formal definitions of open access -- affect teaching, research, and other scholarly activities?...Will open-access articles enable more researchers from less-developed countries to work on the frontiers of science?...Most important, what kinds of discoveries might result from searchable, open archives of peer-reviewed, full-text scientific literature?...The potential for open access to lead to new discoveries is its single most compelling asset, though one that is frequently overlooked....Open access is no longer just an idea to be deconstructed, analyzed, and reanalyzed. We now have information about how publishers are practicing it and how scholars and researchers are reacting to it. The really intriguing questions about the topic today deal with the reality of open access and its exciting promise.'

Editorial in support of CC for science

Beyond the Big ©, Scientific American, February 14, 2005. An editorial. Excerpt: '[T]he framers of the Constitution always intended to provide owners of creative works with only limited monopolies, ensuring that the public gets the right to fashion new works from old. Over the years, however, Congress, sometimes at the behest of media companies, has erected immense barriers to derivative works by extending repeatedly both the length and the scope of copyright protection....Copyright in its current form fails to strike a balance between the extremes of allowing total control over every work --"all rights reserved"-- and an anarchic system in which pirates steal wantonly without recompense to owners. Overly strong property rights can threaten the Internet as a medium capable of fostering dynamic interchange of ideas. In 2001 Stanford University legal scholar Lawrence Lessig set about righting this imbalance by becoming the leading force behind Creative Commons, a nonprofit group that furnishes a much needed middle ground that lets owners give up some but not all of their rights....The Massachusetts Institute of Technology exploits the licenses to give free access to excellent online course materials. Creative Commons has started a Science Commons effort that will even explore the open licensing of technology contained in some patents. The Public Library of Science already takes advantage of one of the licenses to specify the conditions under which scientific journal articles are made available free of charge. The Internet, as a universal publisher of sorts, needs to be more than an outlet for commercial interests. Nascent communities of artists, scientists and nonprofits want some way to share and rework one another's intellectual output without the enormous legal burdens that come with increasingly draconian rights management. The entertainment industry has been largely silent on this issue --its idea of innovation having been the launching of lawsuits against 10-year-olds to punish music pirating. In this environment, the introduction of Creative Commons's middle path of "some rights reserved" is surely a welcome arrival.'

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Doubts about OA at publishing conference

Siân Harris, Industry Prepares for the Future, ResearchInformation, January/February, 2005. Notes from the meeting, Online Information 2004. Excerpt: '[T]he trend towards free, online access could add a complication to the archiving issue. Many publishers are starting to permit material to be displayed on personal websites or submitted to institutional repositories and funding body archives. While strongly encouraged by government enquiries and industry regulators, this trend could lead to confusion. The terms under which material can be self-archived differ from publisher to publisher, so material available can range from raw research results, through preprints, to the final versions that have passed the peer review and editing processes of a journal. The publisher arrangements also restrict how soon these repository versions can be accessed after the official publication date. Thus, there could be several different versions of the same article available at different times, with little way for a search tool to compare their validity. There is also no guarantee of completeness in this process. With self-archiving, the onus is on individual researchers to submit their material to their websites or repositories, but there is often no obvious incentive for them to do so. According to the chief executive of The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), Sally Morris, about 90 per cent of publishers permit self-archiving but very few authors do it. 'There is not very much content in institutional repositories yet, and a lot of what does go in is not journal articles at all,' she said. There is also considerable uncertainty about the success of the full open-access model, where everything is free to view and authors [PS: or their employers or funding agencies] pay to publish their work.'

CytoJournal's OA funding model

Vinod Shidham, Anthony Cafaro, and Barbara Atkinson, CytoJournal's move to fund Open Access, CytoJournal, February 10, 2005. Abstract: 'CytoJournal is published by an independent publisher BioMed Central, which is committed to ensuring that the peer-reviewed biomedical research is Open Access. Since its launch, BioMed Central has graciously supported the processing of all the articles published during CytoJournal's first 6 months. However, for long term viability, CytoJournal has to achieve financial viability to support publication expenses. From 1st March, 2005, authors will be asked by the publisher to pay a flat article-processing charge. This editorial discusses how a significant proportion of authors may not have to pay this fee directly under a variety of different mechanisms such as institutional and society memberships with BioMed Central.'

Launch of the Open Source Press Association

The The Raw Story has issued a press release, Writers, publications to launch open source alternative press association, February 11, 2005. Excerpt: 'Raw Story editors, along with several other independent progressive journalists and publications, will be launching the Open Source Press Association (OSPA) [PS: no website yet] as an alternative to media agencies such as the Associated Press. The OSPA will function on four levels: ethics in journalism, alternative press membership, networking and projects, resources, anti-smear council, and resources and distribution....The arm of Resources and Distribution will allow members to share legal council, have free access to knowledge bases; including a proprietary OSPA knowledge base, provide a single RSS feed of information, syndication and aid in distribution. Members will have access to publishing, agents and educational resources as well. The OSPA is designed to bypass the sometimes inaccurate and unquestioning reporting of the mainstream press. It is designed so that journalists like the late Gary Webb are able to find work; so that publications working hard to get the truth out are not silenced by financial burdens or smear campaigns. It is designed to allow for the true fourth estate the media to be reborn in truth and founded in ethical principles, not corporate bottom lines.'

Michael Crichton on OA to publicly-funded research

Peter & Helen Evans, Michael Crichton on Science Policy,, February 3, 2005. Excerpt: 'On Friday, January 28th, Michael Crichton, MD, spoke at the American Enterprise Institute on Science Policy in the 21st Century. His latest book, State of Fear, is the product of three years of examining environmental research, activism and policy. Dr. Crichton, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, as well as a best selling author with more than 100 million copies sold worldwide, addressed the audience as an informed citizen concerned with how politicized research results in distorted conclusions and misguided government policy....As an aside, he suggests that the results of publicly-funded research should be available to the public on the Internet.' (Thanks to Terry Foreman.)

(PS: If Crichton has said more about this than just the aside at the AEI talk, I'd be grateful for any pointers.)