Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Correlation between early downloads and later citations

Tim Brody and Stevan Harnad, Earlier Web Usage Statistics as Predictors of Later Citation Impact, a preprint.

Abstract: 'The use of citation counts to assess the impact of research articles is well established. However, the citation impact of an article can only be measured several years after it has been published. As research articles are increasingly accessed through the Web, the number of times an article is downloaded can be instantly recorded and counted. One would expect the number of times an article is read to be related both to the number of times it is cited and to how old the article is. This paper analyses how short-term Web usage impact predicts medium-term citation impact. The physics e-print archive -- -- is used to test this.'

Conclusion: 'Whereas the significance of citation impact is well established, access of research literature via the Web provides a new metric for measuring the impact of articles – Web download impact. Download impact is useful for at least two reasons: (1) The portion of download variance that is correlated with citation counts provides an early-days estimate of probable citation impact that can begin to be tracked from the instant an article is made Open Access and that already attains its maximum predictive power after 6 months. (2) The portion of download variance that is uncorrelated with citation counts provides a second, partly independent estimate of the impact of an article, sensitive to another form of research usage that is not reflected in citations (Kurtz 2004). This study found a significant and sizeable correlation of approximately 0.4 between the citation and download impact of articles in physics and mathematics. This was based on Web downloads from the UK mirror only, and on those citations that could be automatically found and linked by Citebase. The true correlation may in fact prove somewhat higher once more download sites are monitored and automatic linking becomes more accurate. It will no doubt vary from field to field, and may also change as the proportion of Open Access content (now 10-20%) approaches 100%.'

SPARC releases guide to NIH policy and updated Author's Addendum

SPARC has released a Guide to the NIH Public-Access Policy, including helpful pages specifically for researchers (on the benefits of complying with the NIH request and suggestions on the most effective ways to do so) and librarians (on ways to inform and assist researchers).

At the same time SPARC has also released the finalized version of its Author's Addendum to help authors of journal articles retain the rights they need to authorize OA. The new version includes language for NIH-funded authors planning to deposit articles arising from their NIH-funded research in PubMed Central.

Updated FAQ on the NIH policy

I just updated my FAQ on the NIH public-access policy to reflect the final version of the policy released on February 3. I regret that I was too busy with travel and other work to get this out sooner.

Lynch-Keller conversation on March 10

On March 10, the ARCL will host a free webcast conversation between Clifford Lynch and Michael Keller. From the ACRL site: 'This free Webcast features a real-time conversation between Clifford A. Lynch, executive director, Coalition for Networked Information, and Michael A. Keller, university librarian, director of academic information resources, publisher of HighWire Press and publisher of the Stanford University Press, at Stanford University. The live Webcast will be held on Thursday, March 10, 2005, at 1 p.m. EST. Lynch and Keller will discuss issues that keep librarians up at night including: googlization, digital repositories, distance education and privacy. The participants will have the opportunity to query Keller and Lynch. Lynn Silipigni Connaway, consulting research scientist, Office of Research, OCLC, Inc., will moderate the session....The March 10 event is free, but registration is required.'

Friday, March 04, 2005

More on OA to data

The PLoS Medicine Editors, Why Bigger Is Not Yet Better: The Problems with Huge Datasets, PLoS Medicine, February 2005. Excerpt: ' "Publishing results in traditional paper based way in a journal hides too much information." This is the verdict of Markus Ruschhaupt and colleagues who, in a paper in Statistical Applications in Genetics and Molecular Biology (3: article 37), discuss a paradigm for the presentation of complex data—in this case, from microarray analyses. The title of the article, “A Compendium to Ensure Reproducibility in High-Dimensional Classification Tasks,” may not lend itself easily to a clinical audience, but the underlying message to clinicians could not be more important: that, currently, studies involving large datasets, especially ones that have a clinical outcome, are so poorly reported (or possibly so poorly done) that many are not reproducible....So how can we ensure that the wealth of data pouring out of microarray and other molecular diagnostic studies is turned into meaningful knowledge? The Microarray Gene Expression Data Society has proposed a set of guidelines (MIAME) for the reporting of microarray data, and that all such data should be deposited in public databases. But as Ruschhaupt and others have shown, disclosure of results and data is not enough, since there is little consensus on the appropriate statistical analyses and many are developed on a case by case basis, which may not be reproducible, even by the authors....An ultimate aim for reporting would be the type of compendium discussed by Ruschhaupt and colleagues --"an interactive document that bundles primary data, statistical processing methods, figures, and derived data together with the textual documentation and conclusions." '

More on open courseware beyond MIT

Jason Schwartz, Schools share class info across Internet, Daily Pennsylvanian, March 4, 2005. Excerpt: 'For the last four years, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been pioneering a system known as OpenCourseWare, which allows any Internet user to access materials -- including lecture notes, problem sets and quizzes -- from various university courses. Although six other American universities have followed in MIT's footsteps, Penn is not planning such a move....Penn "certainly [has] plenty of course sites available to the public," said Ira Winston, who is the information technology executive director for the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the School of Design. Winston noted that the "fundamental difference" between schools with OCW and Penn revolves around copyright issues. Whereas all intellectual property posted on OCW sites must be cleared and paid for, Penn professors are forced to restrict public access to all online copyrighted material....Still, Penn has made other efforts to allow the public more access to its professors' research, as the recently created Scholarly Commons program allows Engineering faculty to post papers online. "The primary reason that MIT is doing [OCW] is that its leaders believe in the benefits of openly sharing educational materials and knowledge," MIT OCW Communications Manager Jon Paul Potts said....Potts added that in addition to being a "a great boost to MIT's image," OCW has brought other perks to the institution. For example, it has reduced the need for a class-shopping period because students can preview a course on OCW before registering for it. It has also been a "wonderful recruiting tool" for undergraduate and graduate students as well as young faculty eager to "get their work out there," Potts said. He cited a survey of the MIT freshman class in which 8 percent of students responded that OCW was a factor in their decision to attend MIT....Potts noted that in addition to publishing courses online, one of MIT's main goals is to spread OCW to other universities. He added that MIT would offer advice and share technology with any school wishing to embark on an OCW program.'

More on the Wikipedia

Daniel Pink, The Book Stops Here, Wired Magazine, March 2005. A detailed profile of the Wikipedia, including its complex, informal system of peer-based self-correction.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Bailey's Open Access Bibliography now OA

The full-text of Charles Bailey's Open Access Bibliography is now open access. Note that it's located at a different URL from the edition announced yesterday. The print edition is still for sale from the ARL. (PS: Scholars, start your engines.)

More on the Creative Commons search engine

Chris Sherman, Finding Free Content in the Creative Commons, SearchDay, March 3, 2005. Excerpt: 'Looking for photos, music, text, books and other content that's free to share or modify for your own purposes? The Creative Commons search engine can help you find tons of (legally) free stuff on the web....Today, the Creative Commons organization estimates that more than 5 million web sites link to its license. That's a lot of content, most of which is available for free or nominal charge. The Creative Commons search engine (powered by Nutch, which we've previously covered) makes it easy to find this content. You can search for Creative Commons audio, images, text, video, and other formats that are free to share online. You can also limit your search to works that you are free to modify, adapt, or build upon, or even use for commercial purposes. Search results are labeled with icons, indicating whether works are in the public domain, whether they can be re-used or modified and so on.'

(PS: As far as I know, the CC search engine is the only publicly available search engine to read the machine-readable CC licenses and make that licensing information available to users through annotations and search filters. However, any other search engine could add these features at any time. Why the delay? If they're waiting for a critical mass of CC content, I would think it's already there. If they're waiting for perceived user demand, then let your favorite search engine know that this is something you care about.)

New OA journal of education and development

The International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology (IJEDICT) is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal due to launch its first issue this month. From the site: 'IJEDICT aims to strengthen links between research and practice in ICT in education and development in hitherto less developed parts of the world, e.g., developing countries (especially small states), and rural and remote regions of developed countries. The emphasis is on providing a space for researchers, practitioners and theoreticians to jointly explore ideas using an eclectic mix of research methods and disciplines. It brings together research, action research and case studies in order to assist in the transfer of best practice, the development of policy and the creation of theory. Thus, IJEDICT is of interest to a wide-ranging audience of researchers, policy-makers, practitioners, government officers and other professionals involved in education or development in communities throughout the world.' (Thanks to Marcus Zillman.)

More on the Google and IA book-digitizing projects

Paul W. Taylor, Real-Time Sunshine, Government Technology, March 2005 . Excerpt: 'By one estimate, three-quarters of students rely "mostly on the Internet" for their homework, but powerful search engines could not show us what was not there -- namely books and their contents. That began to change in late 2003 when debuted Search Inside the Book, allowing users to pinpoint a text reference in context and call it up with a single keystroke.... year later, Google trumped's archive by an order of magnitude. In a $150 million alliance with Oxford, Stanford, Harvard, the University of Michigan and the New York Public Library, Google returned to its library roots with an aggressive campaign to build a digital library of possibly 30 million volumes -- roughly equal to the Library of Congress' book holdings (but excluding its 59 million manuscripts)....Alternatives to the Google Print library partnership appeared within 24 hours. A coalition composed of the nonprofit Internet Archive of San Francisco, Carnegie Mellon and other universities in Canada, China, India, the EU and Egypt have pledged to commit a million tomes from their combined digitized book collections to a free, text-based archive to "ensure permanent and public access to our published heritage," according to a statement. We are clearly much closer to the beginning of the campaign to digitize libraries than the end. Still, the herculean task of librarianship and the infusion of books make the Internet a more serious source of authoritative information. There is still time and considerable urgency to make the unique, authoritative public record held by government a primary source online. Citizens expect it, the historic values of transparency demand it, and government will be conspicuous in its absence if it fails to make it so. There is an old bit of librarian humor captured on a bumper sticker that reads, "Free the Bound Periodicals." It is time to do the same for the boxed public record.'

The promise of online publishing

Gene J. Koprowski, The Web: Online publishing ascending, United Press International, March 2, 2005. Mostly on news publishing but with this bit toward the end on academic publishing: 'Even academic publishing is being impacted. Recently, David Bricker of Indiana University sat in on a session at a conference sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science about online academic publishing. "Essentially," Bricker noted, "all the speakers said the same thing: traditional business models aren't working. For publishers to make money, something must change." There is no doubt online publishing is a threat to conventional print media, [Chuck] Richard [of Outsell] said, "but it is also a huge upside proposition for the publishing industry." '

OA Torah scholarship

Yashar Books has launched an Open Access Project, offering OA to books, articles, and discussion on the Torah. From the site: 'The Open Access Project is an experimental, cutting-edge plan for developing Torah scholarship. It utilizes interactive technology to bring people together to think about and refine ideas. This exciting new project can break down barriers and enable people --from different countries and very different backgrounds-- to collaborate in a vital exchange of ideas. Join us as we unfurl our sails and test new waters....Full articles (not just abstracts), essays, and sometimes even whole books, will be made available for free download on the Open Access webpage. We welcome you to submit your own papers, essays or dissertations for consideration of inclusion in the project. Think of it as a living, organic journal of Jewish scholarship....Anyone with Internet access can download Open Access contributions and then reprint and hand them out in class, pass them out in shul (synagogue) or fax them to friends. Anyone with email can forward the whole document or link to the free download. If you can find a new way to pass the word, we'd like to hear about it.'

Large-scale digital archiving

Jim Linden, Sean Martin, Richard Masters, and Roderic Parker, The large-scale archival storage of digital objects, Digital Preservation Coalition, Technology Watch Series, February 2005. From the summary: 'This report is intended to be of use to any digital repository that is looking at long-term archival storage issues, especially on a large scale. The British Library has national responsibilities for preserving and providing access to digital materials for the very long term. Many of these materials will be acquired under Legal Deposit legislation. However, the Library’s requirements are not unlike those of many large digital archives, and the case study presented here has wider application. This report describes the issues surrounding storage technology from the perspective of a digital repository. It covers the British Library’s thinking that led to conclusions about the design of a system for the preservation storage of digital objects, and the specific conclusions about the preservation storage architecture to adopt. The planning figure for the storage required was that it would grow to over 100 Terabytes (100 thousand gigabytes, or 100 million megabytes) in 3 years.' (Thanks to digitizationblog.) launches free alert system now offers a free email-based alert system for scientific research hosted on U.S. government web sites. For more details, see the press release, the Flash tutorial, or the PDF brochure.

More on OA to clinical drug trial data

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) have reintroduced the Fair Access to Clinical Trials Act (FACT Act) in the new session of Congress. Excerpt from Sen. Grassley's February 28 press release: 'Grassley said that "by making the clinical trial information publicly available we make the system for ensuring drug safety more transparent and more accountable. That ultimately leads to an even safer system and greater consumer confidence."...The bipartisan legislation introduced today is titled the Fair Access to Clinical Trials or FACT Act of 2005. It is similar to a measure championed by Dodd in the last Congress. Changes have been made to maintain as a registry for patients and physicians seeking information about ongoing clinical trials for serious or life-threatening diseases and to require the Food and Drug Administration to make internal drug approval and safety reviews publicly available.' The press release also includes the full text of Sen. Grassley's floor statement when introducing the new bill. (Thanks to ResearchResearch.)

More on Google's library project

Peter Suber, Le gigantesque projet de bibliothèque de Google, BiblioAcid, February 2005, pp. 9-11. Marlène Delhaye's French translation of my article, Google's gigantic library project, from SOAN for 1/2/05. (Thanks, Marlène.)

More on OA to digitized cultural heritage objects

In an Archivalia posting today, Klaus Graf criticizes the Weimarer Empfehlungen zur Herstellung von und zum Umgang mit Digitalisaten aus Nachlässen in Archiven und Bibliotheken (Weimar Recommendations for the Production and Distribution of Digitized Cultural Heritage Objects from Archives and Libraries, June 2004) for misunderstanding open access and especially the Berlin Declaration on Open Access, which it cites. The Weimar recommendations encourage free online dissemination of digital copies, but do not encourage copying, redistribution or other uses without permission of the digitizers.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Provisional recommendation from the Berlin3 conference

Participants in the recent Berlin3 Open Access conference (Southampton, February 28 - March 1) will issue a consensus recommendation for signatories of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to implement. The recommendation should be released soon, but Stevan Harnad and Andy Gass have posted a provisional version to the the AmSci OA Forum.
In order to implement the Berlin Declaration institutions should

1. Implement a policy to require their researchers to deposit a copy of all their published articles in an open access repository, and

2. Encourage their researchers to publish their research articles in open access journals where a suitable journal exists and provide the support [i.e. pay the processing fees] to enable that to happen.

AAP response to the NIH policy

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) issued a press release today on the NIH public-access policy. Excerpt: 'Publishers invest millions of dollars to support peer review, editing, abstracting, indexing, distribution, archiving, searching, access, and innovation. The NIH must avoid duplicating those efforts - otherwise taxpayers will truly "pay twice" for redundant versions of information or imitative platforms and tools. We call upon the NIH to work closely with publishers in the rollout of its public access policy. As the NIH goes forward with its plan, it must be careful to distinguish a professional and scholarly publishing environment that consistently delivers excellence, integrity, and innovation from one in which "free" access is subsidized through regulation. NIH fostering immediate free public access to content would risk undermining free market investments and models that have proven essential to authors and researchers.'

(PS: Two quick replies. (1) If letting private-sector publishers be the sole distributors of publicly-funded research means that taxpayers have to pay high prices to read it, then it's a bad deal and the government has a responsibility to fix it, even if the private-sector publishers are excellent, innovative, and heavily-invested. (2) The NIH's distribution system depends on a public subsidy, but so does the one represented by the AAP. Private-sector publishers depend essentially on at least three forms of public investment: publicly-funded research, researchers employed by public universities, and subscription fees paid by public universities with public funds.)

NeuroRX joins PMC

NeuroRX was introduced in 2004 by the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics. NeuroRX - Fulltext v1+ (2004+) 6 month moving wall HighWire | PubMed Central; Print ISSN: 1545-5343 | Online ISSN: 1545-5351. [Thanks to Brooke Dine at the PMC-News mailing list.]

NCBI promotes libraries AND free access

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has added a new wrinkle [1] to the LinkOut functionality in PubMed. LinkOut has been providing direct connections from article abstracts to fulltext articles for several years. LinkOut has been predicated on participating libraries uploading their journal holdings to address the "appropriate copy problem" [2]. With the swelling ranks of free online medical journals, NCBI has chosen to maintain an internal roster of free medical journals and provide credit to participating libraries through display of the library's logo. Actually, the Open Access movement is demonstrating to NCBI what many libraries understood in the late 1990's. A&I database vendors cannot use proprietary linking technologies, expecting every library to upload journal subscription information. OpenURL technology accommodates the fluid nature of today's electronic journal milieu. When a library decides to incorporate a new ejournal into its collection, a database record is modified locally and all A&I services which are OpenURL-compliant instantly reflect the new state of affairs for that library's patrons. [1] Szeliga T. New LinkOut Library Icons Option: Display on Free Full Text Citations. NLM Tech Bull. 2005 Jan-Feb;(342):e8. [2] Beit-Arie O. et al. Linking to the Appropriate Copy: Report of a DOI-Based Prototype. D-Lib Magazine 7(9) 2001 Sept.

Charles Bailey's OA bibliography

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals, ARL, 2005. This is the first large bibliography of open access. We're very fortunate that it's also a very comprehensive, well-organized, and useful one that should transform and accelerate research on OA. It is a priced book, but 22 of its 107 pages are OA --the table of contents, preface, and an introductory chapter on Key Open Access Concepts. See the ARL announcement for ordering information. Excerpt: 'The open access movement is reforming the system of scholarly communication by advocating free, online access to academic literature. This new bibliography presents over 1,300 selected English-language books, conference papers (including some digital video presentations), debates, editorials, e-prints, journal and magazine articles, news articles, technical reports, and other printed and electronic sources that are useful in understanding the open access movement. Most sources were published between 1999 and August 31, 2004; however a limited number of key sources published prior to 1999 are also included. Where possible, links are provided to sources that are freely available on the Internet (approximately 78 percent of the bibliography's references have such links). The bibliography is conveniently organized into the following categories: General Works, Open Access Statements, Copyright Arrangements for Self-Archiving and Use, Open Access Journals, E-Prints, Disciplinary Archives, Institutional Archives and Repositories, Open Archives Initiative and OAI-PMH, Conventional Publisher Perspectives, Government Inquiries and Legislation, and Open Access Arrangements for Developing Countries. The publication also includes a concise overview of key concepts that are central to the open access movement.'

(PS: You may know Charles as the man behind the monumental Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography, currently up to Version 57. You should also know his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog.)

Two new OA journals in biomedicine

Library Publishing Media has announced the launch of two new peer-reviewed, open-access journals, the Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine (JMGM) and the Journal of RNAi and Gene Silencing (JRGS). Both are now accepting submissions and expect to publish their first issues in August. Here's part of the Open Access Publishing statement from JMGM (but the same for JRGS): '[Open access] not only benefits the interested scientists and the public but also the authors, who receive inexpensive worldwide exposure and publicity to their work. Such unrestricted immediate access to their research ensures that their work is disseminated to the widest possible audience, considerably increasing its citation and impact. We strongly believe in the principles of open access publishing. Open access publishing of scientific literature is of benefit to all scientists, in particular those of DEVELOPING NATIONS where academic, medical and non-profit research institutions have limited resources, and libraries often have inadequate funds to subscribe to scientific literature with restricted access. Open access is also valuable in advancing the public understanding of science. Much of the research conducted in academic and public sector scientific organisations is publicly funded through taxes and donations, and increasingly the public are interested in free access to the results of this research.'

March issue of SOAN

I just mailed the March 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 the final version of the NIH public-access policy (released February 3) and offers some reflections on the long-term coexistence of open access and toll access.

Wide-ranging exploration of OA controversies

Carol Ebbinghouse, Open Access: The Battle for Universal, Free Knowledge, March 2, 2005. An unusually long and detailed exploration of the OA landscape and its controversies. Lots of links, lots of questions, and no single thesis for an easy summary. An especially good point: 'Ultimately, the players in the open access war include all of us, all consumers of knowledge, whether researchers working in a university library or science lab and possibly accessing "proprietary information" through a library contract; attorneys using individual Lexis or Westlaw contracts; businesspeople with corporate contracts; or cancer researchers tapping grant-funded content in research databases from around the world.'

Self-archiving, esp. in medicine

Tim Lougheed, Providing open access to research, one article at a time, Canadian Medical Association Journal, March 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'Advocates of unrestricted public access to scientific research are moving beyond online journals --which are increasingly available only to subscribers-- toward encouraging researchers to offer direct access to their published work. This practice of self-archiving, initially adopted by the technically eager, is now formally encouraged by many academic agencies, research institutions, and even some of the journals that published the articles in the first place. In January, for example, the Nature Publishing Group started encouraging its authors to self-archive the final version of their articles 6 months post-publication....Self-archiving is integral to the open access initiative, which aims to make scientific research publications as widely and freely available as possible. A cornerstone statement describing open access, drafted at a meeting of the Open Society Institute in Budapest in 2001, carefully distinguishes self-archiving from self-publishing....For others, open access is an ethical issue. Dr. James Till, Senior Scientist Emeritus with Toronto's University Health Network says patients and their advocates need access to the latest research. "If you're trying to decide on the best available treatment, 6 months is a huge amount of time," he says, referring to the Nature policy. "Unless authors can self-archive a final, edited, peer-reviewed version as soon as it's been accepted, in an archive for example, it's not open access." '

Stealth copyright impeding research in psychology

Seth Powsner and David Powsner, Cognition, Copyright, and the Classroom, American Journal of Psychiatry, March 2005. A letter to the editor. Excerpt: 'Many psychiatrists are unaware that the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is protected by copyright. Its 20 questions were published in 1975 in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. This journal’s copyright notice forbids unauthorized reproduction of the examination. However, clinical experience suggests that unauthorized copies are routinely distributed to trainees and staff. We recently became aware of this while preparing an article for publication....The MMSE has become the most widely accepted test of cognitive status, the Journal of Psychiatric Research has been purchased by Elsevier, and a corporation has been formed to license MMSE commercial rights....Computer professionals worry about stealth patents --patents held quietly until there is a market to control. Has psychiatry fallen afoul of a stealth copyright? For years, we taught trainees to use a copyrighted examination. Must they purchase examinations from Psychological Assessment Resources in order to conduct interviews without risk of a lawsuit?...Computer programmers established the Open Source Initiative to avoid copyright battles. Software contributed to Open Source Initiative is free for copying, with an understanding that refinements will be contributed back. Psychiatrists have assumed this model for years, openly publishing their techniques and technical improvements. Psychiatrists need tests such as the MMSE and, like psychologists, should respect intellectual property rights. For teaching, we need consensus --teach any effective interview technique, even a commercial one, or teach only open, freely available techniques.'

More on the serials crisis

Tamara Traubman, Budget cuts hit university libraries hard, Ha'aretz, March 2, 2005. Excerpt: 'Dr. Y. gives a course every year in the humanities and social sciences faculties of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. But recently, he says, he has been having difficulty. At the end of the semester, he asked his students to write papers, but when they went to the library to gather information, they were unable to find updated material in the field. The number of new acquisitions for the social sciences library has dropped by 80 percent over the past four years - from 2,915 to 556, Haaretz has learned. "In certain fields, hardly any books and periodicals are being bought," Y. says. In the end, he was forced to bring them books from his own home. This phenomenon is common to all the universities in Israel today. The libraries are the major victims of the massive cuts in budgets for higher education. In many libraries, acquisitions have dropped by 50 percent or more....M., who recently completed a doctorate at Tel Aviv University, says..."The university subscribes to one out of every four publications and new research is not easily available in the libraries. In certain fields, the lecturers prepare a book list knowing that the students will have to use older or partial materials."...Over 14 years, the price of a subscription to a scientific periodical has tripled, and universities are buying fewer books so that the market has virtually disappeared in several fields. Until the 1960s, most books were published by small publishing houses that belonged to non-profit organizations. Since then, a small group of large corporations, notably Elsevier Reed, have taken them over and raised prices. They force the universities to buy packages of journals, and those who try to break up the package find that the individual publication costs them more than the entire package. The universities have hardly any leverage for bargaining. Prof. David Degani, academic director of the Technion's library, says: "There is a constant struggle to decide which materials to give up. Clearly we are below the acceptable minimum right now." '

More on the Berlin3 conference

Donald MacLeod, Academics thrash out open access details, The Guardian, March 2, 2005. Excerpt: 'International open access to research papers on the internet has taken a crucial step closer after a meeting at Southampton University this week, supporters have said. A gathering of 60 academics, publishers and university librarians this week thrashed out practical steps to promote open access - something backed last year by the Commons science and technology committee but so far rejected by the UK government after strenuous lobbying by publishers....Stevan Harnad, a professor of cognitive science at Southampton and a leading advocate of open access, believes that universities have found a way around previous objections by encouraging academics to self-archive their research papers in repositories at their own universities. These papers would then be accessible by anyone via the internet, providing the author agrees....The Southampton meeting was called to put flesh on the bones of the Berlin declaration. Speaking after the meeting, Professor Harnad said it was the "optimal and inevitable solution". He added: "Everybody will benefit from it - researchers will be able to access what they could not before and the impact of their research will go up. At last those who agree open access is a good thing know how to provide it."'

More on the Medica R&D Treaty

Eva Tallaksen, World 'needs global R&D health treaty', SciDev.Net, March 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'According to the proposal, submitted to the World Health Organization Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Health, and the World Health Assembly Executive Board on 24 February, parties to the treaty would each have to devote a proportion of their gross domestic product to medical research. Through a mechanism modelled on the way that greenhouse gas emissions can be traded through the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, countries would be able to earn credits against their funding commitments by, for instance, transferring technology to developing countries.....There is a growing feeling among [supporters] that while investment in health research is greater than it has ever been, the existing focus on commercial production of patented drugs has not succeeded in providing drugs to those who need them most. They hope to encourage the focus to shift towards making effective therapies more widely accessible by, for instance, making the results of publicly funded research freely available through 'open access' agreements, and encouraging medical researchers worldwide to share more information.'

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

New OA journal of education research

Bildungsforschung is a new peer-reviewed, OA journal whose first regular issue will be published this month. From the web site: 'bildungsforschung is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal that aims to foster communication between interdisciplinary writings across the whole range of research about education.' (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

More on the orphan works problem

If you plan to submit a comment on the orphan works problem to the U.S. Copyright Office before the March 25 deadline, the easiest way is to use the new web form launched by Free Culture, the EFF, and Public Knowledge. The site sponsors will make sure your comment is properly formatted (non-trivial) before passing it on to the Copyright Office. From the site: 'For designers, academics, artists, musicians, and filmmakers, using copyrighted works can be a huge headache. It can be impossible to find out if a particular work is still under copyright or not. And even when people would happily pay to use a copyrighted photo, passage, or video clip, it's often impossible (or extremely costly) to find the copyright holder. When this happens, everybody loses. Artists can't realize their creative vision, academics can't clearly communicate their ideas, and copyright holders don't get paid. Even worse, important pieces of our culture get needlessly locked away. Right now, the US Copyright Office is asking for public comment on the "orphan works" problem, so now's our chance to make the system work better....Orphan works are -- broadly speaking -- any copyrighted works where the rights-holder is hard to find. Because the cost of finding the owner is so high, creators can't build on orphan works, even when they'd be willing to pay to use them. In many cases the works were abandoned because they no longer produced any income. In most cases, rights holders, once found, are delighted to have their work used.' For more details, see the Public Knowledge page on orphan works.

(PS: If we had a good solution to the orphan works problem, then more works would be legally eligible for OA. It's that simple. A good solution would make it easier (1) to find rights holders for the purpose of requesting permission, (2) to use work without permission when the rights holder could not be found after a reasonable effort, and (3) to move works from the domain of copyright protection into the public domain when the rights holder no longer cared to enforce his/her rights. Please submit a comment to the Copyright Office and do what you can to ensure that we get such a good solution in the U.S.)

Google scanning project: another view

Fister, Barbara. Google's Digitization Project: What Difference Will it Make? Library Issues, 25(4). March 2005. Note: Mountainside Press (the publisher of Library Issues) is making this article freely available without subscription through March 7. After that it reverts to subscriber-only access. Contributed by to Bernie Sloan (ILCSO).

Nonsubscription costs of ejournals and the savings over print

Roger C. Schonfeld and Eileen Gifford Fenton, Digital Savings, Library Journal, March 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'Without question, the ongoing transition from print to electronic periodicals has challenged librarians to rethink their strategies. While some effects of this change have been immediately apparent --greater breadth of material, easier access, exposure to new sources, publisher package deals, and open access-- the broader outcomes on library operations remain unclear. Subscription pricing issues aside, the evidence thus far suggests that the transition to digital resources now underway will save money.' (PS: The savings noted here are for electronic editions of TA journals, not for OA journals. But Schonfeld and Fenton focus on library costs beyond subscription prices.)

Critique of the upfront funding model for OA journals

David Stern, Open Access or Differential Pricing for Journals: The Road Best Traveled? Online, March 1, 2005. Abstract: 'Open access (OA) is becoming a reality, with new cost models under development. The various cost models will have serious short- and long-term implications for libraries and dangerously impact the scholarly communication network. I believe that the adoption of the OA model for journals will create serious instabilities within the existing scholarly publication industry. OA, as a business model, is neither necessary nor desirable. With or without the often-discussed author charges approach, it would be almost impossible to obtain the same amount of total revenue through selected libraries as now exists from the much larger base of library subscriptions. Tiered or differential pricing (and services) among the existing subscribers would be a far more logical approach to supporting a modified scholarly journal distribution network.'

(PS: A lengthy critique of the upfront funding model for OA journals. It does not address OA archiving. Stern's argument will take some time to digest, but it seems to assume that OA is a business model rather than a form of access compatible with many different business models, that virtually all OA journals charge author-side processing fees and that these fees would always be paid by universities, that OA journals are just as expensive to produce as TA journals, and that preserving the "commercial aspects of the existing journal publication system" is a criterion. It also assumes, at least in asides, and inconsistently, that the upfront funding model was proposed as a diversionary tactic by TA publishers and that OA depends on altruism more than self-interest.)

More on the Southampton OA workshop

Stevan Harnad, Southampton Workshop Tackles Open Access, Information Today, March 2005. Only this brief abstract is free online, at least so far: 'The "successful" 2-day conference at Southampton University focused on the leadership, direction, and launch of open access institutional repositories.'

The web as a medium for scholarship

Rune Dalgaard, Scholarly Collections on the Web, Human IT, 7, 2 (2005). Abstract: 'With the Internet a new medium has become available for communicating scholarly texts. This article focuses on the World Wide a global, hypertextual archive for scholarly texts and its significance in reconfiguring the corpus of scholarly texts. The first part addresses the Web in light of hypertext theory and a media theoreetic perspective, concentrating on its roots in issues related to the flood of information and its qualities as a medium. The second part will zoom in on the actual use of the Web as a publcation and archival medium for scholars, with a focus on two different scholarly archives. The article concludes with some general reflections on the Web as an archive of archives based on the concepts of network and complexity.' (PS: Dalgaard does not specifically discuss open access, a surprising omission in light of the topics he sketches in the abstract.)

Knowledge-sharing and the public domain in India

Public Domain in India, World-Information.Org, December 12, 2004. An interview with Lawrence Liang, a researcher with India's Alternative Law Forum. Quoting Liang: 'One thing that the first generation of research does not do is address the larger problem of the ecology of knowledge, which is a much larger debate about how knowledge is produced, distributed, shared, etc. We address this question following three different avenues. The first refers to a response to the public domain problem, especially as configured through the liberal US constitutional discourse. The second is the emergence of the entire free software and open source movement, and the challenges that it throws up in terms of models of production of knowledge. The third avenue concerns the globalization of the media industry, and the emergence of a highly vibrant grey economy. We feel that the earlier model of IP protection does not capture these three parts. It does not address the public domain question, the collaborative knowledge production question, and the question of the grey economy.'

Licensing open-source science

Philip H. Albert, Is the GPL OK for DNA? LinuxInsider, March 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'The burgeoning open-biology movement cannot assure those who create new developments that the creations can be freely used and still prevent proprietization of the technology. But proponents of open-source biology might be able to create a commons where information can be presented without restrictions. They might also create owned pools of patents licensed under GPL-type terms, with the understanding that not all contributions can be controlled and not all of the rights can be obtained. The Science Commons is a new project of the Creative Commons (the organization that developed a number of models for copyrighted works licensing) for promoting the use and access of scientific data. The Public Library of Science was formed in response to the restrictive licensing of scientific journals that limited availability of that information. These movements are ideal for dissemination of information, but merely having information is not enough. Free use requires that recipients be able to use what they learn. Open-source biology might work by just distributing developments and using community pressure to encourage everyone to follow the spirit of sharing. With dual licensing, those who restrict have to pay for that right, raising money to fund free development. If the patents were truly blocking, then they could be pooled and only licensed to those who agreed to open standards.'

Calling on OS activists to support OA

Christopher Frenz, Voice Your Opinion to the NIH, Linux Journal, March 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'NIH's new policy is set to go into effect in May 2005, and while it represents a step in the right direction, it still is a far cry from a true open access requirement. In addition to being an optional program, the program also allows articles to be delayed for up to a year before they can appear freely, in order to protect the interests of the publisher....The original proposal had called for a mandatory program that would require all NIH-funded studies to be archived within a period of six months....[A]s believers in the ideals of openness and freedom, we as Linux enthusiasts should rally behind the cause of open access to scientific literature. Doing so provides us with yet another forum for showing the world how the free exchange of ideas and information can benefit us all. In order to voice your support of open access to the National Institutes of Health, e-mail comments can be sent to Alternatively, you also can write to your local Congressman or Senator in support of open access, as NIH's open access plans were presented to Congress at the end of 2004. Congressional contact information can be found at and, respectively.' (PS: Good analysis and advice. Just one suggestion: it's easier to find contact info for members of Congress through Congress Merge than through and

Monday, February 28, 2005

News from the Berlin3 conference

Richard Wray, Keystroke strategy for open access, The Guardian, March 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'The movement to increase free online access to scientific research will receive a boost today as academics, publishers and librarians thrash out a new plan for open access....[A]t a two-day meeting in Southampton yesterday and today, delegates from across the world of scientific publishing will be presented with a new plan for open access. Stevan Harnad, professor of cognitive science at the University of Southampton, will present a proposal that could revolutionise how academics and the public view research....Known as the "keystroke strategy", Prof Harnad's plan, which has already been put in place at his own university, calls for all academics who have had research papers accepted by journals to place information about the paper - such as its title and author, known as metadata - on a university's own archive for all to see. Alongside that should be a copy of the article itself. He also believes that universities and research funders should require that their researchers comply. Some universities already do this and a statement from the UK's major research councils about this subject is expected soon. The keystroke comes into play because some publishers will not allow publication of articles elsewhere. Prof Harnad and others are proposing that academics prepare both their metadata and articles for publication, publish their metadata and then decide whether or not to hit the final key to upload the article.'

On other subjects: 'Delegates to the Berlin No 3 open access conference yesterday, however, heard Alma Swan, of the market researchers Key Perspectives, who has studied the impact of a long-established physics repository on two learned societies. She found their journal subscriptions had merely declined in line with the rest of the market and "learned societies are not going bankrupt as a result of self-archiving"....Delegates also heard from Tony Hey, who works with the government as director of E-Science UK to foster better sharing of scientific data, about recent steps to have not just research but data freely available on the internet from research laboratories such as Cern in Switzerland. "We're trying to do what the internet was built for," he said.'

Project Euclid slates 2 more titles for 2005

Proceedings of the Japan Academy, Series A, Mathematical Sciences and Tohoku Mathematical Journal are now listed as being available on Project Euclid in Spring 2005. These titles join the previously announced introduction of Project Euclid versions of Nagoya Mathematical Journal and Real Analysis Exchange. The four titles coming this spring span the four different economic models supported by Project Euclid. Real Analysis Exchange is being added to Euclid Prime. Tohoku Mathematical Journal is the fifth entrant in Euclid Select. Proceedings of the Japan Academy, Series A, Mathematical Sciences joins Euclid Direct, wherein Project Euclid provides a distribution site, but all contracts are established with the publisher. In this case, licensing is handled through the Japan Academy. Finally, Nagoya Mathematical Journal will be the fourth Open Access title at Project Euclid. Nagoya Mathematical Journal will join Annals of Mathematics, Communications in Mathematical Physics (1965-1996), and Probability Surveys in Project Euclid's Open Access collection.

Forthcoming titles at BioMed Central

BioMed Central has added three new titles to the roster of independent Open Access journals under active development. The queue of announced independent OA journals is currently 10 titles deep. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine; ISSN: 1746-4269. Plant Methods; ISSN: 1746-4811. Saline Systems; ISSN: 1746-1448.

Launch of EMBRACE to facilitate access to bio data

The European Union has awarded 8.3 million Euros to the EMBRACE Network of Excellence program. "EMBRACE" stands for "European Model for Bioinformatics Research and Community Education". From the EMBRACE web site: 'The objective of EMBRACE is to draw together a wide group of experts throughout Europe who are involved in the use of information technology in the biomolecular sciences. The EMBRACE Network of Excellence will optimise informatics and information exploitation by pure and applied biological scientists in both the academic and commercial sectors. The network will work to integrate the major databases and software tools in bioinformatics, using existing methods and emerging Grid service technologies.'

From the February issue of Scientific Computing Newsline: 'The objective of the EMBRACE initiative is to enable providers of life science data to create searchable interfaces to their databases that conform to a common set of standards. By applying this method to Europe's largest and most widely-used biomolecular databases, the consortium hopes to maximise the access to and value of these resources. "Many elegant and powerful computational biology tools are under-utilised," said consortium member Erik Bongcam-Rudloff from Sweden's University of Uppsala. "EMBRACE will allow us to unlock their potential by standardising access to them." See: and'

More on Google's library project

Steve Johnson, How Google will scan the world, 1 book at a time, Chicago Tribune, February 25, 2005. Excerpt: 'As Google prepares to create the world's most comprehensive digital library, it's getting harder not to think of the company as the next Microsoft, morphing from a friendly Internet helper with a cutesy name into an awesome and inescapable force of digital nature....And then there's the small matter of accumulating vast chunks of humankind's recorded knowledge. Even as you read this, Google scanners are busy making bits and bytes out of books from the Harvard, Stanford, Oxford and University of Michigan libraries, as well as from the New York Public Library, a project that ultimately could total more than 57 million volumes....For now, though, Google remains mostly well-liked because the core of its business, the search engine, is so good. And the book-scanning project it's taking on seems more altruistic than not because Google is bearing the enormous (and, of course, unspecified) cost of copying the books into the digital world...."We're very anxious to make sure this is of real service to our own users and a public good, as well," [Sidney] Verba [Director of the Harvard University Library] says. "We're very sensitive to not having somebody come back and say, 'Look, you've just turned over to a monopoly something that should belong to the world.'" ' (Thanks to Bernie Sloan.)

Open courseware beyond MIT

Jeffrey Young, 'Open Courseware' Idea Spreads, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 4, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'When the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced an ambitious plan to give away online materials for every course, officials wondered whether other colleges and universities would follow suit. The answer? Sort of. Nearly four years after the start of MIT's OpenCourseWare project, several colleges met to unveil their own plans to publish extensive sets of course materials -- such as syllabi, lecture notes, and quizzes -- and encourage anyone to use them freely. There is one major difference: No one other than MIT is pledging to give away every course. And most of the newcomers expect to convert only a handful of courses per year to an open format....The growth of these giveaways marks a major philosophical shift from the mid-1990s, when many colleges and professors thought they could rake in profits selling course materials online...."I'm not surprised right away that it's a little slow to take off," says Frank Mayadas, program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. "Regardless of the motivation and desire, it just isn't going to take off like wildfire" because of the cost....Representatives from MIT and six other U.S. universities that are starting open-courseware projects met at MIT in February to trade tips on how to manage their projects. Representatives from Chinese universities attended as well, as did officials from, a coalition of universities in Portugal, Spain, and several South American countries that is working to translate MIT's course materials into Spanish and Portuguese. The U.S. institutions represented were the Harvard University Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, Tufts University, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor's School of Information, the University of Notre Dame, and Utah State University.'

Open source + open access + handhelds in Africa

Julian Siddle, Kenyan school turns to handhelds, BBC News, Februrary 28, 2005. Excerpt: 'It is a pilot project run by EduVision, which is looking at ways to use low cost computer systems to get up-to-date information to students who are currently stuck with ancient textbooks....[Quoting EduVision's Matthew Herren:] "The E-slates connect via a wireless connection to a base station in the school. This in turn is connected to a satellite radio receiver. The data is transmitted alongside audio signals." The base station processes the information from the satellite transmission and turns it into a form that can be read by the handheld E-slates....Mr Herren says this would vastly increase the opportunities available to the students. He is currently in negotiations to take advantage of a project being organised by search site Google to digitise some of the world's largest university libraries. "All books in the public domain, something like 15 million, could be put on the base stations as we manufacture them. Then every rural school in Africa would have access to the same libraries as the students in Oxford and Harvard." ' (PS: This is a misunderstanding of the Google book-scanning project, but it's a fair assessment of the promise of OA literature in literature-poor but net-connected parts of the world.)

Sunday, February 27, 2005

More on the new FAQ for the NIH public-access policy

The new and improved FAQ for the NIH public-access policy includes (on page 10 of the PDF), an example of the kind of language that an NIH-supported author might add to a copyright agreement with a publisher: "Journal acknowledges that Author retains the right to provide a copy of the final manuscript to NIH upon acceptance for Journal publication or thereafter, for public archiving in PubMed Central as soon as possible after publication by Journal.".