Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, March 12, 2005

History of the TEI

Linda Cantara, The text-encoding initiative: Part 1, OCLC Systems & Services, 21, 1 (2005). Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'To present a concise introduction to and history of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). Design/methodology/approach - Presents the TEI from a literature-based, chronological perspective. Findings - The de facto standard for electronic text encoding in the humanities, the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), an international and interdisciplinary standard for the electronic representation of documents in the humanities, has influenced the development of the Extensible Markup Language (XML) family of standards, and has become an indispensable tool for building digital libraries. Practical implications - Reinforces the primacy of TEI in the creation of interchangeable electronic texts, particularly in humanities disciplines. Originality/value - The first part of a two-part column, explains how the TEI came into being, how it has influenced the evolution of world wide web standards, and why it has become an integral tool for digital library development.'

OA to scientific info for policy-makers

The European Commission has launched SINAPSE (Scientific Information for Policy Support in Europe). From the site: 'The main and general objective of SINAPSE e-network is to make better use of scientific knowledge in policy making. SINAPSE is open to all scientists, scientific organisations and anyone with an interest in science. In line with the efforts undertaken to develop new forms of governance, SINAPSE should facilitate the involvement of actors that cannot, at present, easily be consulted or share their knowledge/viewpoint. As a tool facilitating exchange of information within the scientific community and other actors concerned by science, SINAPSE will help in developing the European Research Area.' For more detail, see the EC Research page on SINAPSE, the EC press release, or the CORDIS News story. (PS: US policy-makers can use this service too. Wouldn't it be nice if legislators knew something about global warming, biodiversity, or evolution?)

Open-source tool from Elsevier

Elsevier has announced, an open-source, vendor-neutral tool to document an XQuery library. (Thanks to Jill O'Neill and James Governor.)

Free online video for UK academics

JISC has authorized free online access, at least by UK academics, to Educational Media Online.

Critique of DRM, esp. for developing countries

Cory Doctorow, Digital Rights Management: A failure in the developed world, a danger to the developing world, Electronic Frontier Foundation, undated (but announced by EFF on March 11, 2005). A policy paper submitted to the International Telecommunications Union, ITU-R Working Party 6M Report on Content Protection Technologies on behalf of the EFF and a handful of other public-interest advocacy organizations. Excerpt: 'A given nation's limitations and exceptions to copyright are a powerful means of boosting local industry and fostering domestic entrepreneurs. DRM can be used to overrule these priorities, so that foreign companies can trump local domestic policy with technological means....DRM systems cannot protect themselves, they require "anti-circumvention" laws to silence researchers who discover their flaws. Anti-circumvention laws have been used to silence and even jail researchers who embarrassed entertainment companies and DRM vendors with revelations about the failings in their systems....The success of the information society depends on digital content being accessible. Digital content must not be locked up behind technical barriers. Libraries must not be prevented by DRM from availing themselves of their lawful rights under national copyright law and must be able to extend their services to the digital environment. Long term preservation and archiving, essential to preserving cultural identities, maintaining diversity of peoples, languages and cultures and in shaping the future, must not be jeopardized by DRM....Many works are out of copyright or were not copyrightable to begin with. These works are a potential free library for developing world educators, researchers and development workers. DRM can be used by companies to assert ownership of these public goods.'

New OA journal in sociology

The Qualitative Sociology Review is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal from Lodz University. Though published in Poland, QSP is accepting articles only in English, at least for now. The submission deadline for the inaugural issue is March 30. From the site: 'In order to enable a free flow of information and to integrate the community of qualitative sociologists, we have decided to create an open-access, international scientific journal....There will be published empirical, theoretical and methodological articles applicable to all fields and specializations within sociology. Every submitted paper will be blind reviewed and quality-controlled by two reviewers and the high scientific quality level of the journal, remains in charge of the Editorial Staff and Consulting Editors....The main purpose of the Qualitative Sociology Review is to foster development of science and to enhance human knowledge . Therefore, the journal and all published articles are...available without special permission to everyone who would like to use them for noncommercial, scientific, educational or other cognitive purposes. We ask to mention the journal as a source of used data, since this will support our conception of an open-access to scientific knowledge and the idea of integration through understanding of social world....It is forbidden to charge for access to this journal or to put any limitations on the accessibility of published papers.'

Friday, March 11, 2005

March issue of Serials

The March issue of Serials is now online. Here are the OA-related articles. Unfortunately, only the TOC and abstracts are free online, at least so far.
  • Ian Gibson, Overview of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry into Scientific Publications
  • Tom Graham, Scientific Publications: Free for all? The academic library viewpoint
  • Ann Okerson, Open access: reflections from the United States
  • Jan Velterop, Open access: principle, practice, progress
  • Stephen Pinfield, A mandate to self archive? The role of open access institutional repositories
  • Martin Richardson, Open access: evidence-based policy or policy-based evidence? The university press perspective
  • Marie McVeigh and James Pringle, Open access to the medical literature: How much content is available in published journals?
  • Agnès Ponsati and Mercedes Baquero, An analysis of the use of digital collections in a scientific research library network: Part two of a case study from CSIC, Madrid, Spain
  • Chuck Hamaker and Brad Spry, Google Scholar

(PS: In the past when I've listed OA-related articles from new issues of journals, I've included deep links to the individual articles. But this takes time that I rarely have these days. As long as the article links are only one click away, through the TOC, I'll feel free to omit them.)

Another journal converts to OA

Hindawi Publishing has announced that The International Journal of Rotating Machinery has converted to open access, effective immediately. From the announcement: 'IJRM is edited by Prof Wen-Jei Yang of the University of Michigan, USA. The journal employs an open access model based on article processing charges to be paid by the authors' institution or research grant. The journal shall have an online edition which is free with no subscription or registration barriers and a print edition which shall be priced at a level reasonable for covering the printing cost. All articles published in the journal shall be distributed under the "Creative Commons Attribution License," which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Hindawi is currently working on retro-digitizing the back volumes of the journal and will make these volumes available online in the near future.' (PS: Kudos to Hindawi for this important step.)

OA for nano or nano for OA?

Charles Q. Choi, Nano World: Nanotech may not reach poor, World Peace Herald, March 11, 2005. Excerpt: 'Bryan Bruns, a sociologist with the Foresight Institute in Palo Alto, Calif., said the most important way governments could use nanotechnology to help the poor "would be to open access to knowledge through better policies on intellectual property, including full publication of publicly-funded research in ways that are accessible and affordable." Other strategies should include open-source licenses or 'creative commons' and non-exclusive licenses, he said, and these should be combined with free or low-cost access, prompt processing and full disclosure of patents, plus prizes for key technology innovations that serve the poor, such as cheap solar energy and affordable medical diagnostic tests.' (PS: Just one nano problem. How does nanotech help deliver OA? Does Bryan Bruns mean that OA could help deliver nanotech? That would make more sense.)

Resisting software patents and promoting OA

Becky Hogge, Patents for profit: dystopian visions of the new economy, Open Democracy, March 11, 2005. Primarily about software patents, but Hogge connects the topic to wider themes, including OA. Excerpt: 'The success of Open Source underlines the fact that knowledge is a different sort of resource to labour or land. While these are finite resources, knowledge can be infinitely replicated, and never more easily than in the age of the internet. The only tragedy of this commons, it seems, would be to censor it using strong-IP law. Because, as Open Source has shown, a solid commons of knowledge fosters a solid knowledge economy around its edges....Following the success of the Sanger Institute's open funding model in the race to annotate the human genome, question marks are beginning to appear over the direct linking of medical r&d to the balance sheets of Big-Pharma. Arguments are also rippling through the creative industries over the use and misuse of copyright law on the internet. And libraries, academies and archives are finally finding their voice over open access to knowledge....The knowledge economy increasingly touches every area of life – work and pleasure, professional and personal life – in every part of the world. It is vital that decisions over its future are made in a fair, accountable and democratic way. As agencies of governance recognise the value of knowledge as any kind of commons, muscular lobbyists for a strong-IP regime, keen to commodify knowledge for the new economy, will be drawn into the fray. These agencies must arm themselves with well-researched models of how knowledge performs in a commons environment. Software is a crucial part of this new landscape. The story of the EU Directive on Computer Implemented Innovation is closer to centre-stage than it appears.'

Text mining requires text access and more

Dietrich Rebholz-Schuhmann, Harald Kirsch, Francisco Couto, Facts from Text --Is Text Mining Ready to Deliver? PLoS Biology, February 15, 2005. Excerpt: 'Could we automatically analyse new scientific publications routinely to extract facts, which could then be inserted into scientific databases? Could we tag gene and protein names, as well as other terms in the document, so that they are easier to recognise? How can we use controlled vocabularies and ontologies to identify biological concepts and phenomena? Fortunately, there are many groups that are now seeking to answer these questions, precisely with a view to extracting facts from text....For all automated information-extraction methods, it is obvious that access to literature is crucial. Electronic access has, of course, already had a huge impact, but the structure and organisation of manuscripts could also be improved. For example, semantic tags could be integrated into the text.'

Defending an open internet for a safer world

On the anniversary of last year's terrorist attacks, Madrid is hosting an International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security. One product of the summit is The Madrid Agenda, a statement of principles by heads of state on how to preserve democracy in the face of terrorist threats. Another --from a working group led by Dan Gillmor-- is a set of principles on why an open internet is part of any democratic response to terrorism, The Infrastructure of Democracy: Strengthening the Open Internet for a Safer World. The current draft is on a wiki if you want to participate in its evolution.

The view from Oswego State University

Melissa Prince, Library posts journals online, The Oswegonian Archives (student newspaper at Oswego State University), March 5, 2005. Excerpt: 'Publishers are mostly at fault for such expensive costs, [Mary] Loe said. [Loe is the coordinator of collection development and special collections and interim associate director of the Oswego State University library.] Researchers, who are not paid for their work, give their articles to publishers. The library then has to pay whatever the publishers deem necessary. One Internet site, however, has created new open access communication. The Public Library of Science has information that is free for anyone who accesses it. At Oswego State, the School of Education has created open access journals as well. While it is promising for the future, Loe said it will take a lot more for such organizations to catch on. For scientists and researchers, reputation is everything. Individuals seeking prestige in their field, seek out more prominent publications, as they have a higher believability, and unfortunately higher prices. In order to make the shift, a cultural change is needed. "Open access will work only if professions in the field embrace it," Loe said.'

OA portal to US govt geographic data

Adena Schutzberg and Joe Francica, The Technology Behind the New and the Non-Technology Challenges Ahead, Directions Magazine, March 8, 2005. Excerpt: 'On January 31, the Department of Interior announced that ESRI had won the contract to update the Geospatial One-Stop (GOS) portal, also known as the core of the new solution is a metadata catalog. Remember that the website does not "hold" any data, but rather acts as keeper of metadata pointing users to data of interest. When you choose to look at or download some data, it's done from the source location, usually managed by the data's steward. That metadata catalog "exposes" itself in different ways for developers and end-users. The catalog service is a tool for developers. It allows them to "tap into" the catalog using a variety of standard methods including the OpenGIS Catalog Service for the Web (CS-W), via a text search, via a portlet (more on those later) and in a few other ways. These different ways to access the catalog programmatically mean that Web developers, even "non-geo" developers, can build specialized portals or websites for federal agencies or local or state governments that tap into the "big catalog" of geospatial metadata....The metadata catalog will support data harvesting as it has in the past via Z3950 (Isite), ArcIMS metadata, Open Archives Initiative (OAI), Web Access Folder and the OpenGIS Catalog Service for the Web (CS-W). Others methods, including manual uploads from data custodians are also supported. We learned that more than half the metadata currently indexed in is automatically harvested, an encouraging sign. GOS administrators are enlisting "ambassadors" to help bring new data custodians into the fold.' (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

BMC reduces processing fee for papers submitted with Publicon

BioMed Central has announced an interesting partnership with Wolfram Publicon, software for formatting technical documents in XML, XHTML, and MathML. From yesterday's announcement: 'Using Wolfram Research's new Wolfram Publicon software, authors gain the unique advantage of being able to submit properly structured documents ready for direct publication by BioMed Central, the leading Open Access publisher...."Publicon was created primarily for electronic publishing and is ideal for implementing the Open Access publishing model," said André Kuzniarek, manager of document technology at Wolfram Research. "It helps the STM publishing community simplify its publication processes."...As part of this partnership, Publicon is being offered at a specially discounted price. In addition, BioMed Central is giving a discount off the article processing charge to authors who submit their work using Publicon.'

From BMC's page on the Publicon partnership: 'Publicon also offers a BioMed Central article template, and supports export in BioMed Central's native XML format, which makes it an ideal tool for BioMed Central authors. Publicon notebook files authored using the BioMed Central template can be submitted directly to BioMed Central, and offer authors the following benefits: [1] a template which streamlines the process of creating a correctly formatted manuscript, [2] full support for complex mathematical formula and equations, [3] automatic conversion to XML within BioMed Central's production system, leading to: [3a] faster manuscript processing, [3b] avoidance of typographical errors introduced during XML markup, and [4] a £30 discount on the Article Processing Charge payable when the article is published.'

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Special issue of German medical journal on OA

The new issue of med information (Nr. 1/2, 2005), is devoted to open access. See the original German or Google's English. (Thanks to medinfo weblog.)

More on the Google projects

Paula Hane, Google's Projects Continue to Generate Shock Waves, InfoToday NewsLink, March 2005. Excerpt: 'Since Google introduced its initiatives that directly impact libraries and the information industry --Google Print, Google Library, and Google Scholar-- the buzz and debate continue to send shock waves through our landscape. Bloggers are commenting, librarians are investigating, vendors are wondering, and conference presenters are exploring the issues. And, the issues relate to some core questions: copyright, access, search problems (dates, multiple copies, etc.), digitization projects, distribution, partnerships, business models, and more....Much of the NFAIS conference seems to focus on if and how content producers should embrace new opportunities and business models in an age of Googlization. Discussions with Google representatives highlighted details of Google's three projects and Kaser reported that conference delegates "were urged to think about how their materials might be of use and interest to a wider market." Of course, the supposition is that Google would be the enabler to those wider markets....According to the [CrossRef Newsletter], 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....Some observers feel that Google has stepped up to tackle tasks that vendors and librarians should have taken on. It will be interesting now to see whether vendors and librarians can embrace the new challenges and opportunities presented to them.'

More on OA to books

Denise Nitterhouse, Digital Production Strategies for Scholarly Publishers, an OA offprint from the University of Chicago Press. On digital books, not journals, occasionally touching on OA strategies. Excerpt: 'One option for a publisher is to let a book go out of print, retain the copyright, and make PDF files of the book available on the Internet for free, as the Ohio State University Press does through its Open Access Initiative....Each press needs to develop its own process for deciding whether to put a book into a digital printing program that would extend its life. The University of Chicago Press examples and data illustrate how older backlist books, some more than a decade old, successfully live on in the CDDC SRDP program and continue to contribute to revenue. The MIT Press Classics Series has successfully brought many books back into print. Lightning Source, Harvard University Press's USIRP, and open-access initiatives provide other perspectives and models.' (Thanks to Ross Scaife.)

More on the Common Information Environment

JISC has published an interview with Paul Miller, Director of the UK Common Information Environment. Excerpt: 'The Common Information Environment (CIE) are a group of public sector organisations who recognise that a lot of the content that we are placing online for our own audiences is also of relevance and interest to many others across a range of domains. These organisations include the BBC, Becta, The British Library, and the e-Government Unit at the Cabinet Office....We want to deliver useful shared solutions for end users wherever they might be in the UK....Individually the members each have their defined audience. In JISC's case that would be staff and students within the UK Further and Higher Education community. Collectively, the CIE could be seen to serve everyone in the UK....We are trying to move away from a ribbon cutting culture of creating numerous websites each with tightly coupled sets of content behind them. We are trying to broaden access to what we already have. We estimate that at least two billion pounds have been spent on digitising content in the UK in recent years. Most of that is actually quite invisible to the end user....The CIE draws upon a wealth of work by JISC and other members, and seeks to add value to this, or to look at ways in which content and services prepared for one audience, FE and HE say, might be repurposed for use with another audience....[A] number of the CIE partners are very interested in how they might work with Google to see how a number of services that we are working on can become visible through Google Scholar and any future solutions in this area.'

ACRL releases toolkit for changing the scholarly communication system

The ACRL has released its Scholarly Communication Toolkit. From the site: 'This toolkit is designed to support advocacy efforts that work toward changing the scholarly communication system, and to provide information on scholarly communication issues for librarians, faculty, academic administrators, and other campus stakeholders. The toolkit aims to address these concerns in ways that meet the needs of the full range of academic institutions that make up the ACRL membership base. A primary goal of the toolkit is to summarize key issues and content to give readers quick, basic information on scholarly communication topics. The bibliography and webliography sections identify a few key items from among the wealth of information available. Graphics, powerpoint presentations, and other tools can be adapted for local use. The Action lists suggest ways in which, working together, we can affect change.' See especially the page on OA journals and OA archives.

Library of Alexandria releases FreeScience software

The Biblioteca d'Alessandria (BdA) has released FreeScience v. 1.1.0, free software for building OAI-compliant repositories and accessing OAI-compliant content elsewhere online. FreeScience also creates a P2P network of participating scientists and supports direct communication among them through instant messaging and text conferencing. Although FreeScience is free software, it is not apparently open source.

Zerhouni to Congress on the NIH policy

Dr. Elias Zerhouni, director of the NIH, testified before the House Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations yesterday on his budget request for fiscal year 2006. Here's what he said about the NIH public-access policy: 'On February 3, NIH announced our historic public access policy. For the first time, the public will have access to peer-reviewed research publications that result from studies funded by NIH, and scientists will have a new pathway to make their NIH funded research known to the public that funded it. Starting in May of this year, research results will be more readily accessible to you, your constituents, your staff, the public at large, health care providers, educators, and scientists. We are moving to maximize participation while encouraging scientists to submit their final manuscripts as soon as possible, within 12 months of final publication. The policy creates a permanent archive to preserve vital research findings, which will be a searchable compendium of these research publications. The compendium will be used to manage NIH more efficiently and to help our scientists and many other stakeholders better understand the NIH research portfolios, monitor scientific productivity, and, ultimately, help set research priorities.'

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A society publisher on the NIH policy

Richard Dodenhoff, Online Usage Soars, The Pharmacologist, March 2005 (scroll to p. 20). On the non-OA ejournals published by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), with an extensive discussion (pp. 21-23) of the NIH public-access policy. (Thanks to Michael Rogawski.)

One nugget before getting to the NIH discussion: 'The biggest boost [in usage] by far came from being indexed by Google in the summer of 2004. Earlier that year ASPET signed an agreement allowing Google to crawl the journal sites so they can be fully indexed. Google quickly outpaced PubMed and Medline in referring users to ASPET's journals. This has been the case for other scientific journals as well. Likewise, Yahoo refers more users to the Society's journals than the NIH sites.'

On the NIH policy: 'ASPET makes all of its online journal content freely available after 12 months. The Society has not made a decision as to how soon accepted manuscripts from its journals may be released through PMC. An obvious concern for ASPET and many other societies and publishers is the effect that free access through the NIH will have on subscription sales. There are several hotly contested points of view on this topic. Some feel that free access will have no impact. Their reasoning is that libraries must have full journal content, not just the NIH-funded research. And, the final publisher's version is desired --sometimes necessary-- because of errors caught in copyediting. Some journals already release manuscripts after a short or no delay. On the other hand, the library community has been vociferous in supporting open access in general and the NIH policy specifically. Some librarians see it as a solution to rising subscription prices and clearly think they will be able to cut subscriptions. If a significant number of articles from a journal are free immediately at PubMed Central, a library may decide that it can use inter-library loan or document delivery to get the remaining content and do without a subscription. Many society publishers like ASPET feel that the NIH policy is unnecessary because our journals make their content freely available after 12 months. The NIH policy creates a duplicate system that takes money away from research to serve needs that are already being met by journals such as ASPET's....Neither those for or against the NIH policy can guarantee the outcomes they predict. We can be sure, however, that if subscription cancellations accelerate, there will be no way to replace that income and no going back.'

ETD2005: Sydney, Australia - Call for Papers

..evolution through discovery: ETD2005 - 8th International Symposium on Electronic Theses and Dissertations, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia 28th - 30th September 2005 We are pleased to announce the Call for Papers for ETD2005: evolution through discovery the key international conference tackling important issues of open access to scholarly research. Join this worldwide movement by being involved - your ideas and contributions are important. Please see the three conference themes. To submit an expression of interest or abstract online, please see the Call for Papers on the conference website. We look forward to seeing you at the conference. Andrew Wells, Chair, ETD2005 Conference Tony Cargnelutti, Chair, Program Committee, ETD2005 Conference

BMC milestone

BioMed Central recently recorded its 25 millionth article download. In fact, by the time it could publish the milestone, its download tally was over 26.5 million. From its annnouncement: 'These figures mean that, on average, each article published in a BioMed Central journal has been downloaded more than 3,500 times. This is based solely on access statistics from the BioMed Central website. You can add to this number all the downloads from PubMed Central and the other open archives where the articles have been deposited. Published figures from a leading subscription-based STM publisher indicate that over the same time period, each article published in their journals was downloaded considerably less than 500 times (on average).'

More on the IEEE deliberations about OA

There's now a Slashdot thread on the IEEE plans to experiment with OA. Unfortunately, both the IEEE article and the Slashdot discussion incorrectly assume (1) that "author pays" is the only business model for OA journals, and (2) that OA journals are the only form of OA.

Richard Roberts and Peter Banks on OA

Rachel Pepling, Open Access: Roberts and Banks debate publishing policies for online scientific literature, Chemical and Engineering News, March 7, 2005. A Point-Counterpoint on OA. The Point is by Richard Roberts, 1993 Nobel laureate in medicine, director of biomedicine at New England Biolabs, and senior executive editor of Oxford's OA journal, Nucleic Acids Research. Roberts was one of the 25 U.S. Nobel laureates in science to sign an open letter to Congress in support of the NIH public-access policy. The Counterpoint is by Peter Banks, publisher for the American Diabetes Association, member of the steering committee for patientINFORM, and president of the Society of National Association Publications, representing 300 nonprofit publishers. (Thanks to Jason Bobe.)

Excerpt from Roberts: '[With OA,] no longer would poorer institutions be discriminated against because, in principle, everyone with a computer and Internet access could read the full scientific literature, not just scientists and university scholars, but teachers, high school students, and the general public. Diabetics wishing to find out more about the possibilities for curing their disease through stem cell research could go to the primary literature and avoid the free junk science that pervades the Internet. For this to happen, we need to revise the way we finance and disseminate the scientific literature. We all need "open access."...While opposition was expected from commercial publishers, surprisingly, many scientific societies, including the American Chemical Society, and some disease-related foundations are against open access, even with a delayed release. They fear the negative impact on their finances, arguing that profits from journal subscriptions subsidize many worthy programs that societies frequently support. I have not yet heard a sound argument as to why library subscriptions to journals should bear the financial burden of these causes. Wouldn't a scientific society better serve its members' interests by supporting open access to the literature in its field?...Currently, we have the paradoxical situation that much of the research entering the scientific literature has been paid for by taxpayer dollars or through charitable contributions to foundations, societies, and universities. Yet much of that literature is inaccessible without expensive subscriptions. Worse still, the content of a scientific paper is given to the journals for free, yet many publishers demand page charges, color charges, and other fees before they will publish the work. The editorial and review process is often done for little or no remuneration, yet still when I wish to read the article adjacent to my own in a journal, I have to pay a fee to do so. The publishers --whether commercial or scientific societies-- are laughing all the way to the bank. We know there is enough money in the system to finance the production of the scientific literature because it exists now. The scientific literature should belong to the scientists who created it, not the publishers.'

Excerpt from Banks: 'Unfortunately for the taxpayer, there is little hard evidence for the advertised public benefits of open access and some reason for concern about costs and unintended consequences. Roberts and his colleagues claim three essential taxpayer benefits for open access: accelerating the conduct of research, eliminating a type of alleged double billing in which taxpayers pay to read the results of research they have already funded, and making accessible to patients the results of research studies that might hold life-saving treatments. The first claim is dubious. For-profit and nonprofit publishers now routinely allow open archiving of postprints (pre-copyedited manuscripts accepted for publication), and more than 800,000 final manuscripts are freely available in full text at HighWire press. It is highly doubtful that access to research articles is a rate-limiting step in the advancement of science. Nor is the second argument more compelling. The costs of disseminating research are distinct from the costs of conducting it, just as the taxpayer-funded development of weapons systems has costs distinct from their deployment. If the taxpayer wishes to gain access to research, it will require federal support for the costs of distribution that are now largely borne by private parties. The third argument of the Nobel Laureates...does not bear scrutiny. For example, a search of PubMed reveals that 7,756 papers on breast cancer were published in 2004. The vast majority are in basic or preclinical fields, many from obscure journals, and have no immediate applicability to patient care....Open access is therefore an extremely cost-inefficient way to deliver critical information to patients --and a strategy that may actually be detrimental, by providing an overwhelming volume of information that makes uncovering the few truly relevant clinical findings harder.'

The article includes rebuttal points from Roberts and Banks as well.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Improving scientific literature through OA

Mark Liberman, Raising standards --by lowering them, Language Log, March 7, 2005. Excerpt: 'Improve the (professional) scientific literature. Here's a three-point plan: [1] Open access on the web for all scientific publications, with durable doi-style references. [2] Open access on the web for all data and programs involved in scientific publications. [3] Standard APIs for references in all scientific publications, and methods for inducing trackbacks across all achives of such publications. Point 1: Open access lowers encourages people to read (and evaluate!) primary sources, not just someone's summary. More people reading more papers is good. Point 2: All the data and programs behind published claims should be published in electronic form, so that readers can check methods and results, try alternative models, and (most important) build on others' work. This shortens the half-life of mistakes, and accelerates the spread of good ideas. Point 3: Now that nearly all journals, proceedings etc. are on the web, there's no excuse not to make it trivial to extract the citation graph (i.e. who cites whom for what). Then users can wander around in the graph, use it to calculate value via the analog of page-rank, and do all sorts of other neat things. The way things are currently done, finding the citation graph is a non-trivial exercise in text analysis and reference normalization, even for the documents that are not hidden behind a publisher's barrier. This is one place where "semantic web" ideas really ought to be imposed....All this stuff is happening anyhow. Let's do it faster.'

More on the DOAR

Tracey Caldwell, Repository directory builds on OA lists, Information World Review, March 8, 2005. Excerpt: 'Fears that a new British-Swedish directory of open access repositories would add nothing to the open access (OA) cause have been allayed. OA guru Stevan Harnad originally questioned in an email list the value of the DOAR, a co-operative effort of the Sherpa team at the University of Nottingham and the University of Lund, Sweden, commenting that perhaps it was "reinventing the wheel". However, Bill Hubbard, Sherpa project manager, has since clarified that the DOAR will build on and enhance existing archives registers, and Harnad has been reassured with the direction it is taking. Hubbard said: "The Directory of Open Access Repositories will indeed build on what we have. We intend to build on the work that has been done in a large number of existing lists - some small, some large - and try to pull together some features and develop new ones."..."This work obviously depends on accurate and complete descriptions of repositories. We will be looking into how we can advise repositories to add to their descriptions to allow them to be more efficiently located and their contents searched." The project will last 18 months initially.'

More on OA to CRS reports

Chuck McCutcheon, Demand for Public Information Is Surging, Newhouse News Service, March 8, 2005. A good general survey on secrecy and public access to U.S. government information. Excerpt: 'Some activists say the Bush administration is not entirely to blame for limiting access. They note that members of Congress have blocked the public from easily obtaining background reports from the Congressional Research Service, an arm of the Library of the Congress. House Administration Committee Chairman Bob Ney, R-Ohio, and other lawmakers who favor restricting availability of the reports maintain that while the service is publicly financed, its mission is to provide information to Congress and not the public. They say making all reports public could inhibit lawmakers who want to learn more about sensitive topics. Anti-secrecy activists reject such arguments. "The dominant trend in the government is to increase controls on what had previously been public information," said Aftergood, who includes links to Congressional Research Service reports in Secrecy News. "That's a troubling trend, because what it does is lower people's expectations for what kind of information they can obtain. We'd like to raise people's expectations."'

Indian repository for mathematics and statistics

The Indian Statistical Institute in Bangalore has launched an open-access Digital Library of Mathematics using DSpace. For more detail, see the announcement from Dr. M. Krishnamurthy, the Institute Librarian.

Publisher-library-scholar cooperation

Haekyung Jeon–Slaughter, Andrew C. Herkovic, and Michael A. Keller, Economics of scientific and biomedical journals: Where do scholars stand in the debate of online journal pricing and site license ownership between libraries and publishers? First Monday, March 2005. Abstract: 'The emergence of e–journals brought a great change in scholarly communication and in the behavior of scholars. However, the importance of scholars' behavior in the pricing of scientific journal has been largely ignored in the recent debate between libraries and publishers over site license practices and pricing schemes. Stanford's survey results indicate that sharply increasing costs are the main reason for individual subscription cancellation, driving users to rely on library or other institutional subscriptions. Libraries continue to be a vital information provider in the electronic era and their bargaining power in the market and the importance of roles in scholarly communication will be increased by branding and a strong relationship with users. Publishers' strategy for thriving in the electronic era is not to lose personal subscribers. Cooperation among the three sectors — scholars, libraries, and publishers — promises optimal results for each sector more than ever.'

PLoS announces PLoS Pathogens

The Public Library of Science today announced the launch of PLoS Pathogens, the newest peer-reviewed, open-access journal in its line-up. From the press release: 'The Public Library of Science (PLoS) today announces the launch of PLoS Pathogens, an international open-access, peer-reviewed journal. The journal is accepting submissions at, and commences publication in September 2005. PLoS Pathogens aims to address research on pathogens including bacteria, fungi, parasites, prions, and viruses...."PLoS Pathogens provides a much needed single venue for publishing outstanding and rigorous papers in the broad field of pathogen research," states John A. T. Young, Editor-in-Chief of PLoS Pathogens and Professor in the Infectious Disease Laboratory at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. "The open-access component of this journal is critical because of the extensive scientific and public interest in this field." PLoS Pathogens emerges as an imperative open-access journal in a field that has important global medical, agricultural, and economic consequences. PLoS Pathogens is accessible to all, and immediately searchable via PubMed. In addition, the authors retain the copyrights, and give scientists all over the world immediate free access to all content. PLoS Pathogens provides an excellent peer-review system and rapid turnaround, with a team of leading academic editors. "The Public Library of Science is delighted that such an outstanding group of scientists in the field of pathogen research are launching PLoS Pathogens," states Dr. Michael Eisen, Co-Founder of PLoS. "This journal is among a new generation of open-access journals that serve the scientific community without the subscription barriers that block access to so many important journals in the field. We believe these communities can lead the way in developing innovative ways to make use of the growing library of freely available scientific discoveries, and continue to propel the emerging and evolving themes in pathogenesis forward." '

More on caBIG

Mike Martin, Cancer Researchers Think Big with caBIG, Sci-Tech Today, March 8, 2005. Excerpt: 'To cure cancer, researchers will have to "think big." That's why the National Cancer Institute (NCI) inaugurated the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid, or caBIG, an open-source, open-access information network that will enable researchers to share tools, data, applications and technologies according to common standards. "We believe caBIG will become the World Wide Web of cancer research and will accelerate the development of exciting discoveries in all areas of cancer research," said Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D., director of the National Cancer Institute. caBIG is indeed big -- so big, it may be unprecedented. "The WWW grew out of the particle physics community and its need for data sharing," said Michael Ochs, director of bioinformatics at the Fox Chase Cancer Center. "However, caBIG is an undertaking that involves a much more diverse community and many more types of data and analysis, so I think it is unprecedented within the science community."..."Most, if not all, therapeutic developments in cancer require work at multiple centers," Ochs told NewsFactor. "With new high-throughput technologies, the data load cannot be handled on paper or in simple spreadsheets." The US$20 million caBIG project will provide an infrastructure to make data sharing much easier by linking teams of cancer and biomedical researchers.'

New OA journal on Foucault

Foucault Studies is a new, peer-reviewed, open-access journal hosted by the Queensland University of Technology. From the site: 'There have been concerns that a journal focused specifically on Foucault's work runs the risk of imprisoning this famously iconoclastic thinker within the strictures of a scholarly orthodoxy with rigid rules of inclusion and exclusion. In the social sciences and other applied fields, one frequently encounters researchers struggling to understand Foucault and to apply his thought while fighting an uphill battle against entrenched prejudice concerning his and other similar ideas in their own very pragmatically oriented fields....The name 'Foucault' on the cover of this journal is thus an open invitation for scholars to depart from conventional disciplinary strictures while still performing their own rigorous research. Foucault's name serves here as an invitation, not the name on the door of a closed club....The journal is available online, and is free to anyone who wishes to use it. This seems appropriate given the global reach of interest in Foucault and the wide internet usage by Foucault scholars and researchers in general. It also means that the journal is free from external constraints.' For more detail, see Richard Byrne's story in the March 8 Chronicle of Higher Education. (Thanks to Ray English.)

IEEE on open access

Trudy E. Bell, Information Free-For-All?, the Institute 29(1), 1, 13 (March 2005). Bell reports mostly watchful skepticism from the IEEE concerning open access. While one prominent member remarks on the inevitability of OA and that the IEEE should "experiment now," other officials express concern about the viability of author-payment models, that they could hinder members in developing nations from publishing. Archiving and maintaining the infrastructure to ensure access to publications is another major concern. (Source: beSpacific)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Discussion of the Blackwell Online Open policy

OA archiving, esp. in developing countries

David Dickson, Open access archiving: an idea whose time has come? SciDev.Net, March 7, 2005. Excerpt: 'As controversy continues around demands for open access to refereed published research, significant progress is being made by those campaigning for the more modest goal of applying the same open access principles to archiving. Researchers in developing countries are among those with much to gain....Last week the movement took another important step forward when many of the same proponents, meeting in Southampton University in the United Kingdom, reached consensus on a resolution stating that institutions who agreed to sign up to the Berlin declaration should "implement a policy to require their researchers to deposit a copy of all their published articles in an open access repository." Significantly, this commitment was given priority over a second one, encouraging researchers to publish their papers in open access journals "and provide the support to enable that to happen"....But if the OA publishing model is still struggling to gain acceptance, open access archiving, in contrast, is moving ahead robustly....Last week's meeting in Southampton, for example, heard from organisations already [setting up institutional repositories] that range from the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) to the Max Planck Institutes in Germany, the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France, and all universities in the Netherlands....At the same time, scientific publishers are becoming more amenable to adapting their copyright rules in a way that gives scientific authors the right — under certain conditions — to publish their papers in institutional archives....But so far, the uptake of OA archiving in developing countries has been relatively low....There are various reasons for this slow response. One factor is an economic one....Another may be the innate conservatism that many universities in the developing world have inherited — and in some cases maintained — from their colonial past....A further dampening factor may, ironically, be the success of various schemes that have been introduced (with publishers' support) to give the poorest developing countries subsidized access to selected journals in a way that is free to the end user....Looked at in terms of local capacity building, therefore, OA archiving should be given much higher attention in policy circles within developing countries that it does at present....At the follow-up to the Southampton meeting, which is due to take place in Potsdam, Germany, in October this year, one participating organisation, the Electronic Publishing Trust for Development, is already proposing a session on OA and developing countries.' (Thanks to Barbara Kirsop.)

More on the importance of retaining copyright

Anat Roeh, Court to Maariv: Cope with AllJobs site, Ha'aretz , March 7, 2005. An Israeli court has ruled that a web site may copy and redistribute a newspaper's classified ads without seeking permission first. Excerpt: 'In this particular case, there is no information theft because the information does not belong to Maariv [the newspaper], but rather to the advertisers, who are simply using the daily newspaper as a platform. The judge stated that the advertisers have an interest in their notices being published in other places apart from Maariv, and said the job-seeking public is similarly interested in "an accessible site that enables them to easily survey job offers. As for Maariv's argument that people are liable to refrain from purchasing the newspaper and will instead surf Ozer's site, [Judge] Zaft responded: "The Internet poses new challenges to businesses that relay information to the general public via old platforms. The public has an interest in promoting initiative....The paper must find a way to exist alongside it."' (Thanks to BNA Internet Law News.)

(PS: This is not about scholarly publishing, but it's a welcome precedent with fascinating implications for scholarly publishing. Scholarly authors have the same interests as advertisers in seeing their work disseminated as widely as possible, not just to paying subscribers. Scholarly readers have the same interests as job seekers in having ready access to the scholarship or job ads that others are trying to disseminate. All of us have an interest in taking advantage of new technology and asking older business models to find a way to exist alongside it.)

More on the Blackwell Online Open program

Mark Chillingworth, Blackwell opens its arms to OA, Information World Review, March 7, 2005. Excerpt: 'Society publishers Blackwell Publishing has entered the Open Access (OA) fray with the launch of Online Open, an author pays model. Blackwell has adopted an author choice and payment scheme similar to Springer Open Choice, announced last year...."Publishing journals online is still in its infancy and we are likely to see a range of business models emerge over the next 10 years," said Blackwell's Gordon Tibbitts, of the mixed economy that is emerging in journal publishing. The Oxford based publisher will closely monitor the results of the experiment and share the results with the societies it publishes for. "Blackwell developed this service so that those authors with the appropriate funding and who want to make their articles available through open access don't need to find alternative publications for their work," said Bob Campbell, Blackwell Publishing President.'

More on the Google library project

Mark Herring, Don't Get Goggle-Eyed Over Google's Plan to Digitize, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 11, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers. Excerpt: 'Digitization is big news; it's a good idea; and it's inevitable. But let's not get all goggle-eyed over Google right away. Here are five reasons not to tear up your library card quite yet. [1] Copyright. A recent Chronicle article ("Google Will Digitize and Search Millions of Books From 5 Top Research Libraries," January 7) was one of the few early reports to mention copyright. Current copyright law, to say nothing of Congress's continuing interest in increasing the length of time that works are protected by copyright, should give everyone at Google heartburn....[2] Past failures. Four other companies have tried to do just the sort of digitization that Google is undertaking, and they have had problems....[3] Preserving books. Yes, the new machines that Google has can digitize pages with incredible speed. But no matter how fast (and faster, in this case, may not be better), digitization is not good for books, however good it may be for the reader....[4] Google's future....It would be very easy for libraries to become overreliant on Google, with pressures on them from every side to reduce costs. In that case, what would librarians do if Google suddenly vanished or went out of the digitization business?...[5] Ecological concerns. Whenever any of us arrives at a Web site that has information we need, what do we usually do after checking out the first or second screen? We hit the print button....Besides, the portability, convenience, and even comfort of a book are integral components of our intellectual lives. No one has yet made a convincing case that it's time to give up on books -- or libraries.' (PS: It should go without saying, but Google's purpose is not to make us give up on books or libraries.)

ACS widening access two ways

Sophie Rovner, ACS Broadens Article Access, Chemical and Engineering News, March 7, 2005. Excerpt: 'The American Chemical Society is broadening access to research articles published in its scholarly journals. The society is introducing two experimental policies that define how readers can view free digital versions of the articles beginning one year after publication. The first policy represents a response to public access guidelines recently released by the National Institutes of Health....NIH encourages authors whose work it funds to submit their peer-reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Central, the agency's free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. ACS has decided to take on the task of submission to PubMed Central on behalf of its authors, according to Robert D. Bovenschulte, president of the society's Publications Division. ACS will authorize PubMed Central to make the authors' versions of unedited manuscripts available to the public 12 months after the edited, final articles are published by ACS. ACS's second policy experiment may have even more far-reaching consequences. ACS authors already had the right to distribute up to 50 free digital reprints by directing interested readers to a unique ACS website address for their final published articles. Now ACS will allow unlimited free access to published articles via these same author-directed online links by eliminating the limit one year after publication.'

OA and the developing world

Subbiah Arunachalam, Open access and the developing world, National Medical Journal of India, November/December, 2004. (I'm linking to the version that Arun submitted to the NMJI, since the published version is not yet online, even for subscribers.) Excerpt: 'Fortunately, the advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web has also opened up another means to do away with the inequality in the field of accessing research information. Imagine that every author makes the full text of his/her papers (preprints or post-prints) available on the Net so anyone interested in the papers anywhere in the world can access them with a few keystrokes and mouse clicks....A key point is that the cost to archive an article and make it freely available to the entire world in perpetuity is a tiny fraction of the amount to produce the research in the first place. This is, moreover, consistent with public policy goals for what is in large part publicly funded research....Experts such as Stevan Harnad believe that interoperable e-print archives set up by institutions will be better than centralized subject-specific archives....For the developing country institutes, sharing their research with countries facing similar research priorities has clear benefits, and making their research 'visible' internationally will lead to many other advantages. In summary, archiving already published research in interoperable institutional archives greatly benefits global science at almost no cost. This could be done now, without changing established publishing practices. For developing country science and medical research this offers enormous opportunities. Maybe WHO, ICMR, Ministry of Science and Technology and UGC should consider supporting the setting up of OA Archives for medical research publications. Both the National Institutes of Health, USA, and the Joint Information Systems Committee of the UK, are trying to implement mandating of open access archiving of publicly funded research in their respective countries. Developing country governments will do well to mandate that all publicly funded research is made available through interoperable institutional open access archives. India should lead the way for the rest of the developing world.'

Sunday, March 06, 2005

OA in Kansas

Roger Martin, Research Findings Should be Made Accessible to Public, Kansas City Info Zine, March 6, 2005. Excerpt: 'After the doctors had given up on him, Lorenzo's dad, played by Nick Nolte, went on a tear. He researched everything known about his son's disease and came up with a treatment. Today, Lorenzo's dad would probably have to live near a major university with a giant subscription budget to access the latest research. Here's one example. It costs about as much to buy a year's subscription to the Journal of Applied Polymer Science as a 2005 Toyota Corolla. The price of each approaches $13,000....While faculty still give their scholarship to society and commercial publishers [without payment], those entities increasingly charge extraordinary prices for their journals. Between 1990 and 2000, medical journal prices went up 184 percent; science and technical journals, 178 percent. You could call it pricing power, or you could call it greed, but in either case, the National Institutes of Health is upset. Last month, it urged researchers who get any NIH support to release their findings to the public ASAP -- and no later than a year after publication. Richard Fyffe, KU assistant dean of libraries for scholarly communication, wants to make it easier for researchers to do that. He's asking faculty and staff to submit manuscripts and publications for posting on a Web site called KU ScholarWorks. He says, "There's no real consolidated picture anywhere of the actual output of the KU research community." Most journals are starting to loosen up a bit, Fyffe says. Some now allow scholars to post a version of the paper they submit for publication. Others let scholars post a corrected manuscript or even the final publication. Fyffe says, "A lot of scholars and publishers realize that research done at tax-exempt institutions should be open."...New ideas are the scholar's gift to us. Not all of them will be interesting or, except to other experts in the scholar's field, understandable. Very few will save the Lorenzos of this world. But if taxpayers are helping to pay for discovery, they should be able to lay hands on the latest research findings -- and for less than the price of a Toyota Corolla.'

New OA journal on research practice

The Journal of Research Practice is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal. A prepublication version of its inaugural issue is now online. From the site: 'The Journal's scope is not defined in terms of academic disciplines. It cuts across disciplines and fields by drawing out the living dimensions of research unfolding through history, culture, research communities, professions, and of course the lives of individual researchers. The Journal seeks to study the evolving patterns of thinking and practice that underlie open inquiry in any domain. The scope also includes topics such as research training, research design, research utilisation, research policy, and innovative forms of research. The Journal targets all researchers, scholars, research-inclined professionals, and research students, irrespective of their disciplinary background. It seeks to attract reflective articles on the dynamics and challenges of research practice in context, as well as articles presenting experiences and learning from research carried out in an innovative way.'

Ukrainian workshop on OA

The presentations from the Open Access Scholarly Communication Workshop (Kyiv, Ukraine, February 17-19, 2005), are now online. From the conference site: 'Workshop participants...recommended Ukrainian authorities to ensure the right of individuals and public to access information and knowledge and to guarantee that intellectual property regimes are not the obstacles to the public’s access to knowledge, to encourage research and higher educational institutions to practice open access, to put an open access condition to state funded researches (except reasonable exceptions) and to provide state fund and technical assistance to research and higher educational institutions to set up and maintain an open access repositories (a condition of government assistance should be that the institution adopt a policy to encourage or require its researchers to deposit their research output in the repository except reasonable exceptions), to support ICT development in libraries, archives, museums and other organizations providing access to information and to provide state fund and technical assistance to open access to cultural heritage.' Also see Iryna Kuchma's report on the workshop.