Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Mary Minow on orphan works

Mary Minow has released her comment to the U.S. Copyright on the problem of orphan works.

Internet Archive on orphan works

The Internet Archive has released its comment to the U.S. Copyright Office on orphan works.

Public Knowledge on orphan works

Public Knowledge has released its comment to the U.S. Copyright Office on orphan works.

Free Culture on orphan works

Free Culture has released its comment to the U.S. Copyright Office on orphan works.

Duke Center on orphan works

The Duke University Center for the Study of the Public Domain has released its two comments to the U.S. Copyright Office on the problelm of orphan works, one on orphan works in general and none on orphan films.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Comparing Google Print and Google Library

Klaus Graf, Google Print und Google Library näher betrachtet, Google Print, March 25, 2005. A close look at the two Google projects, concluding (among other things) that most of the Google-hosted books mentioned in blogs recently are part of the Google Print project, not the Google library project. How to tell: for books in the library project, Google supports searches within the book.

APS announces open access physics education journal

The American Phyiscal Society has announced a forthcoming open access journal, Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research. "The journal will be distributed without charge, and financed by publication charges to the authors or to the authors' institutions." The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and the APS Forum on Education are co-sponsors. PRST-PER "will begin receiving submissions later this spring and anticipates publication in the summer of 2005."

Canadian copyright amendments help research and education

Paul Pival points out several ways that research and education benefit from the recent amendments to the Canadian Copyright Act.

Permanent access to scientific information

ICSTI and CODATA have launched a Prototype Portal on Permanent Access to Scientific Data and Information. From the site: 'The primary task of this portal prototype is to raise the visibility of the issues related to the permanent access to scientific data and information internationally. The objective for the portal, when operational, is to provide information about and links to: [1] Scientific data and information archiving procedures, technologies, standards, and policies; [2] Discipline-specific and cross-disciplinary archiving projects and activities; and [3] Expert points of contact in all countries, with particular attention to those in developing countries.'

More on inaccessible government information

Steve Aftergood, The Age of Missing Information, Slate, March 17, 2005. Aftergood details how under the Bush administration "government agencies have restricted access to unclassified information in libraries, archives, Web sites, and official databases." He provides several examples such as the removal of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Technical Report Library, omission of records from the National Archives and others. (Source: Library Juice)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Plasmid repository heralded

Melina Fan et al, A Central Repository for Published Plasmids, Science, Vol 307, Issue 5717, 1877 , 25 March 2005. Announces Addgene's efforts to build "a central plasmid repository where scientists can search for and request plasmids online." They say they will act as a clearinghouse, and not only include currently published plasmids but retrospective ones. They call for participation from researchers and publishers.

More on CERN's commitment to OA

CERN has signed the Registry of Institutional OA Self-Archiving Policies. Here's how Jens Vigen, the CERN Scientific Information Officer, described CERN's policy for the registry: 'The recommendation from the Berlin 3 meeting, held in Southampton in March 2005, on how the Berlin Declaration should be put in place is fully inline with the CERN policy that was actually presented at the same meeting: "(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 supportto enable that to happen." Point 1 has been the official position of CERN since November 2003 (Annex 1). Point 2 is the official position of CERN as of March 2005 (Annex 2). The full policy is described in the document CERN-OPEN-2005-006 [temporarily here], shortly available from [the CDS server].' CERN is the world's largest particle physics lab.

(PS: This is not only very welcome news for OA to physics literature and the momentum coming out of the Berlin3 meeting. It's also a nice kind of homecoming. Tim Berners-Lee developed the first web client and server at CERN in 1990, and in 1991 he and CERN released the technology for the free use of all, essentially launching the WWW as we know it --without which, OA would either be an idle dream today or float on a very different infrastructure.)

New report on ejournals

The Science Advisory Board has completed a new study, Future of Online Scientific and Medical Publishing. Excerpts from the study summary: 'In an electronic journals study of more than 1,900 scientific and medical researchers, The Science Advisory Board found that researcher’s assign greater value to online journals that directly aid in their career advancement. “Researchers are attracted to the “prestige-factor” of a particular journal, which is assessed both by its impact factor and reputation,” observes Tamara Zemlo, Ph.D., MPH, Executive Director of The Science Advisory Board. The primary attraction of the online versions of print journals is their immediacy: an overwhelming 88% of researchers want peer-reviewed articles posted online before the print version appears....Notwithstanding their affinity for electronic publishing, scientists and clinicians do not want cost to constrain their ability to publish papers or review others' work. Researchers indicated that fees related to these services should be nominal (less than $5/page). This value-consciousness influences scientists’ opinions regarding the open access publishing system where there was a negative bias towards authors' fees. However despite these objections, fees are not a key determinant for authors when deciding where to submit their papers. This perception also holds true for how they access information. For instance, the acceptance of pay-per-view is growing --from 4% of researchers in a 2001 electronic journals study to 18% in this study.'

(PS: This is just the summary. The report itself is either not online or very well hidden. I'd like to see it, since I suspect that the question about OA journals made it sound as if processing fees were to be paid by authors out of pocket rather than by author-sponsors such as employers or funders.)

Recent developments at SciELO

SciELo -- Scientific Electronic Library Online is a multinational endeavor to provide Open Access to wealth of scientific research produced in Latin America and Spain. From the SciELO Model page:
SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online is a model for cooperative electronic publishing of scientific journals on the Internet. Especially conceived to meet the scientific communication needs of developing countries, particularly Latin America and the Caribbean countries, it provides an efficient way to assure universal visibility and accessibility to their scientific literature, contributing to overcome the phenomena known as "lost science". In addition, the SciELO model comprises integrated procedures for the measurement of usage and impact of scientific journals.
Here are some new and/or changed SciELO titles in 2005. Engenharia Agricola - Fulltext v24+ (2004+); ISSN 0100-6916. Brazilian Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery - Fulltext v19+ (2004+). Continues Revista Brasileira de Cirurgia Cardiovascular; Online ISSN 1678-9741. Clinics - Fulltext v60+ (2005+). Continues Revista do Hospital das Clinicas; ISSN 1807-5932. Revista Brasileira de Cirurgia Cardiovascular - Fulltext v12-18 (1997-2003). Continued by Brazilian Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery; Print ISSN 0102-7638. Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia - Fulltext v7+ (2004+); Print ISSN 1415-790X. Revista do Hospital das Clinicas - Fulltext v54-59 (1999-2004). Continued by Clinics; Print ISSN 0041-8781.

Will the RCUK support OA?

The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has issued its report on The Work of the Research Councils UK (dated March 16 but not released online until March 23). Ever since the government rejected (November 2004) the committee's OA recommendations (July 2004), we've wondered whether the independent RCUK might adopt some of those recommendations on its own authority. The new committee report is the first official sign that the RCUK might do just that.

Excerpt (§28, p. 16): 'We have already reported on the lengths that the Government went to in ensuring that there was only one response to our Report on scientific publications in 2004. The Research Councils, to whom many of our recommendations were directed, did not all share the view of Government expressed in the Government Response. They have since indicated that they are to set out their own policy, which is likely to be based on principles placing a high value on the public accessibility of publicly-funded research. Lord Sainsbury told us that Research Councils were "totally independent" in their capacity to make policy on this front". He added that, as Government funds the Councils, "inevitably there is some influence in terms of their performance and we have a responsibility to monitor performance. They are independent. They take that independence very seriously and, if we overstep the mark, they tell us to go away". OST confirmed that Research Councils were free to implement their policy, provided that it was funded from within their existing allocations. OST is well aware that, given Research Councils' existing commitments and the levels of funding required to pursue any change of approach, the Research Councils would be unable to proceed properly without Government support. In view of their reliance on Government funding, there is an obvious and unhealthy difficulty for the Research Councils in arguing strongly against a reluctance by Government to support a policy which the Councils believe will be of benefit to the research community.'

Grokster implications beyond entertainment

Doron Ben-Atar, Hollywood Profits v. Technological Progress, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 1, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Mostly on the Grokster P2P file-sharing case to be heard by the Supreme Court next Tuesday. But toward the end of the article, Ben-Atar draws conclusions on wider themes: 'Unable to go after actual violators of their intellectual property, the studios target P2P developers whose programs, among other things, facilitate some piracy. But it is impossible to contain the abuse of technology without undermining the free flow of knowledge that is the prerequisite for innovation. In order to prevent 12-year-olds from downloading their favorite movie, the plaintiffs and their allies in the Justice Department are threatening our most cherished economic assets -- the public sphere of knowledge and the conditions of intellectual exchange.'

New OA journal on freedom of information

Open Government: a journal on freedom of information is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal published by the John Moores University School of Business Information in Liverpool. Excerpt from Steve Wood's editorial in the inaugural issue (March 21, 2005): 'The idea for the journal came about from researching journals based on freedom of information and open government around the world. I noticed that there appeared to be for a gap in the market for a journal that would take a broad perspective on the topic of freedom of information legislation....Scope: [1] Freedom of Information legislation and information provision for citizens, [2] Comparative views of international freedom of information legislation, [3] Freedom of information legislation and the open government debate, [4] The impact of Freedom of Information on public administration, [5] Case studies from public authorities by FOI practioners, [6] Information Systems for managing records and FOI requests, [7] The relationship of Freedom of Information legislation and other access to information legislation.' Also see the press release.

Praise for Google Scholar, worries for Google Print

Marcus Banks, The excitement of Google Scholar, the worry of Google Print, Biomemdical Digital Libraries, March 22, 2005. Excerpt: 'This commentary describes exciting educational possibilities stimulated by Google Scholar, and argues for caution regarding the Google Print project....The educational effort about Scholar has already begun. The Georgia State University Libraries have developed a straightforward web page, which includes a search box for Scholar, the library’s e-journal list, and the library catalog. It is easy to foresee this page blossoming into a class about using Scholar, one goal of which might be to increase patron appreciation for the challenge of providing access to electronic scholarship. As patrons use Scholar and discover the barriers to obtaining research articles, they could be more receptive to the argument for open access publishing....At first blush I was swept up by the positive publicity surrounding [Google Print], because it is inspiring to contemplate the democratization of knowledge that has previously been sequestered inside some of the world’s leading research libraries. After I read Rory Litwin’s essay, "On Google’s Monetization of Libraries," I was forced to tamper my enthusiasm. Litwin argues that the e-commerce foundations of Google Print are antithetical to the principles of librarianship. Until now a library's resources have served as their own advertisement, but now they will become a vehicle for selling something else....Another concern about Google Print, as Litwin points out, is that it flattens the distinctions between materials that are used for different purposes. A chief reason universities select resources is because of their enduring value for scholarship; a chief reason Amazon stocks books is to make money. Google Print collapses this difference. My search for "gardening" might link to a priceless treatise by Linnaeus just above a link to Martha Stewart's annual review....My fear is that Google will reject such ideas [for mitigating the problems identified in Google Print], on the grounds that the library community knew what it was getting into. And Google would be right. In the admirable desire to improve access to their collections, some of our best libraries may have struck a Faustian bargain.' (Thanks to LIS News.)

Yahoo launches a search engine for CC content

Yahoo has launched a search engine specifically for Creative Commons content. It's still in beta, but it already gives users the power to limit searches to content that permits commercial reuse and/or content that permits derivative works. Until now, CC's own search engine read the machine-readable CC licenses and used the resulting information to affect search results.

Also see the CC announcement on the CC blog and Lawrence Lessig's posting on the Yahoo Search Blog. Excerpt from Lessig: 'It is hard to beat the excitement of these local CC-launches. But the launch today does it. Creative Commons will be just a piece -- a component -- designed to remove the uncertainty around what creators mean. Yahoo! will gather this creativity into a community. Our component helps people be clear about the freedoms they intend to give, and the freedoms they can rely upon.'

(PS: All search engines can offer this service and undoubtedly more and more of them will. As copyright locks down more content more tightly, searchers will want reuse rights almost as much as relevance. Search engines that find both will have an advantage. Conversely, authors and publishers who consent to grant more reuse rights than fair-use alone already provides should make their consent machine-readable for the next generation of search engines.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Access to US govt information in the digital age

James Jacobs and Shinjoung Yeo, Government Information in the Digital Age: The Once and Future Federal Depository Library Program, a preprint of an article to appear in the Journal of Academic Librarianship, May 2005. Abstract: 'Rapid technological change has caused some to question the need for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). We argue that the traditional roles of FDLP libraries in selecting, acquiring, organizing, preserving, and providing access to and services for government information are more important than ever in the digital age.'

From the body of the paper: 'While GPO has taken a leading role in developing online access tools and proposing "a new model for no-fee public access", the steps it is taking and the plans it is outlining are, at best, incomplete and, at worst, badly flawed. Oddly, even as GPO identifies the need for adequate funding for public access to government information it deprecates the role of depository libraries that provide large amounts of independent funding for long-term preservation and access to government information. While recognizing that it cannot rely solely on Congress for funds it nevertheless plans to increase the scope of its role without any long-term guarantee of adequate funding. While talking about public access it omits and avoids opportunities to assure that access will be free and fully functional. We believe the GPO’s proposed model will do more to endanger long-term access to government information than ensure it.'

BMC launches Cancer Gateway

BioMed Central has launched Cancer Gateway, the first in a series of open-access gateways on different medical topics. These gateways will bring together recent work from all BMC's journals on the topic as well as the topic-related recommendations from its Faculty of 1000 service. The Cancer Gateway, for example, draws on work from BMC's nine oncology journals.

Panel on the US policy on OA

Tomorrow at the Library of Congress in Washington there will be a panel discussion, Evolving Information Policy: Open Access and New Constraints, on U.S. government policy on access to government information, from the public access to publicly-funded research to post-9/11 security concerns. Elias Zerhouni, Director of the NIH, will give the keynote. Excerpt from the public announcement: 'Though the argument for broad access to health and medical research funded by taxpayers is particularly compelling, similar arguments could be made for most government research: Should the public have to pay a private sector publisher to learn from research supported by tax dollars? At the same time, the threat of terrorism and other security issues have motivated new exemptions from open access....What are the implications of these divergent initiatives, which on one hand promise unprecedented access to information generated by government funding, while on the other, take from the public purview information historically accessible to all?' For those who can't make it, the talks will be cybercast. (Thanks to Gary Price.)

More on the French response to the Google library project

Declan Butler, France takes on Google in scanning race, Nature 434, 425 (24 March 2005). (Access restricted to subscribers.) A news article reports on Chirac's call for digitizing French libraries a la Google, and includes speculation, particularly from Brewster Kahle, on whether competition in this arena would be healthy for public domain access to scholarly works.

Expensive report on STM journals and OA

BioInformatics has written a report, Scientific and Medical Journals on the Web (March 2005), which covers OA among other issues. The report is not free online, and a print edition costs $2,500. Registered users can get a free copy of the executive summary, which gives almost none of the report's conclusions. Excerpt from the summary: 'Since 2001, new developments such as open access publishing have raised even more questions for publishers. In order to facilitate broader dissemination of information, open access publishing would eliminate subscription fees collected by publishers and instead require authors to pay publishing costs. As a result, the report includes discussions of this alternative model from the author's perspective --including whether authors should be expected to pay a fee to publish their work, the effect of receiving payments on open access publishers' acceptance rates and copyright issues....When asked about open access publishing, more than a quarter of the respondents indicated that they strongly believe that the general public should be allowed to download, copy, redistribute or view a given work without restrictions. (Question 16).' Also see the press release.

(PS: I won't tell you how to spend your next $2,500 But it's a bad sign that the executive summary of this report misunderstands the upfront funding model for OA journals as an "author pays" model.)

More on the French response to the Google library project

Andy Carvin, Chirac Declares War on Google Library Project, Digital Divide Network, March 22, 2005. Excerpt: 'There is no such thing as scarcity when it comes to how much information you can put online. It's not like there are only 100 terabytes of available space on the Internet that will eventually run out, preventing others from publishing content....So President Chirac, please go ahead and encourage Francophone libraries to put their collections online. But don't stop there. Encourage individuals and their communities to become content creators and citizen journalists as well. Encourage French universities to adopt open courseware initiatives, and fund French nonprofits to create community media portals like the new Ourmedia project. Bankroll Francophone nations in Africa to make sure their enormous wealth of cultural content can go online, as can their people, with the skills to become content creators in their own right. Please, go ahead and do all of those things. But don't frame this as a cultural war or counter-offensive against "Anglo-Saxon" Internet culture; giving all cultures the opportunity to share their knowledge, wisdom, literature and history via the Internet will benefit everyone, whether they speak English, French, Arabic, Vietnamese or Wolof. The war shouldn't be against English-language domination. It should be against ignorance, illiteracy and attempts to control who has access to knowledge. By that standard, the Google library project is hardly an enemy; rather, it's one of the best allies we have.'

Why OA matters

Mike Carroll, So What? Open Access Law, March 22, 2005. Two quick answers to skeptics who hear about OA (especially for U.S. legal scholarship) and say "so what?" Excerpt: '[1] Open Access Increases an Author's and Journal's Impact. Legal authors generally write scholarly articles to analyze, influence and persuade. Editors of most law journals also seek articles they believe are most likely to influence the development of the law and legal discourse. Empirical studies done on the literature in other disciplines demonstrates that open access increases the number of times an article is read and cited -- the indicia of impact. See, e.g., [Steve Hitchcock's] bibliography of such studies. The consistent finding in other disciplines that open access improves citation rates strongly suggests that open access legal articles also should enjoy greater impact. [2] Open Access Improves International and Interdisciplinary Dialogue. The skeptic may argue that law is different from other disciplines because most of the audience for legal scholarship has access to the relevant databases on Westlaw or Lexis. There are reasons to doubt this claim. Even if it were true, however, the audience for American legal scholarship is growing as legal discourse becomes increasingly international and interdisciplinary. Few lawyers outside of the United States and far fewer academics in other disciplines have access to American commercial legal databases. In my own experience with open access, having one of my articles on the commodification of music posted on the Legal Scholarship Network...has led to a productive dialogue and professional friendship with Marc Perlman, an ethnomusicologist at Brown University.'

JISC report on digital repositories

Rachel Heery and Sheila Anderson, Digital Repositories Review, JISC, February 19, 2005. Excerpt: 'The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) Digital Repositories Programme is initiating a programme of work to assist deployment of digital repositories within the learning and research communities. This review is intended to provide useful background information for participants in this call....The recommendations made by this report are based both on a review of current activity and on contacts made with a number of interested parties....Scholars need to share their research results (and the data these are based upon) more quickly and easily than is available to them through the usual publishing route and are therefore arguing that their publications should be deposited in e-print repositories, and the underlying data in either institutional or subject repositories for sharing with others. However it seems that this is sporadic and more advanced in some subject areas than others. In the research context, scholars are more likely to think along subject lines and to share, and indeed be working with colleagues based at different institutions nationally and globally....

'Concluding Recommendations....[3] Repository developments should demonstrably be set within the strategic aims of the host institutions or funding bodies and clearly relate to the strategic aims and objectives of the organisation bidding for funds – buy-in from institutional and other senior management must be assured for future sustainability. For example, JISC should consider funding projects seeking to use e-print repositories to support the RAE process. [4] Repository developments should, depending upon their primary focus, relate to the processes and practices of research, teaching or learning – buy-in from the community is unlikely to be extensive unless this happens. JISC should identify current practice of researchers, teachers and learners, and seek to base services on supporting their needs. [5] Support for the research infrastructure should be undertaken in collaboration with the Research Councils and in particular, with the RCUK Digital Curation and Archiving Working Group....[7] Continued support will be required for establishing institutional repositories – JISC may wish to consider funding a co-ordinating 'focus' initiative to provide technical support and support with policy and advocacy issues. [8] A different kind of support may be required for those institutions unable to provide their own repository infrastructure. JISC may want to consider providing a national service that smaller and less well funded institutions could use to provide repository services and functions on their behalf. JISC. [9] As more and more content becomes available it will become increasingly important to join-up content held in different places. JISC may want to consider funding projects that seek to find and link content held in different types of repository e.g. e-prints with data; learning objects with publications, and to investigate the challenges posed. [10] JISC should consider funding further technical development to support the provision of additional repository services. These could include 'smart tools' for automatic data extraction, automatic classification etc....[11] JISC should also address the issue of sustainability of repository software. [12] JISC should consider further work on IPR and authentication/authorisation mechanisms that would allow some content to be widely shared, and others to be available to more limited groups e.g. students studying on a particular course, or colleagues working on a research project. [13] JISC should consider investigating how more informal networks for sharing content and pre-prints might be supported, and mechanisms for incorporating shared content into a more managed repository framework at some point in the lifecycle.'

Also see the report's Annex 1 (Focus Group Report), Annex 2 (Software Developers Survey), and Annex 3 (Teaching and Learning Perspective).

Library community comment on orphan works

Prue Adler, Update on Library Community Filing on Orphan Works, American Library Association Washington Office Newsline, March 22, 2005. Excerpt: 'The library community will be filing comments with the U.S. Copyright Office in support of a proposal to change copyright law to address issues surrounding orphan works. Orphan works are those copyrighted works whose owners are difficult or even impossible to find....The library associations are working with many in the non-profit community including library associations, the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic, the College Art Association (CAA), the American Historical Association, cultural institutions, and public interest groups in developing a "legislative fix" to the Copyright Act to address the issues associated with orphan works. The hope is to draft a legislative solution that many communities and constituencies can support. There is a strong sense that if many organizations and interests can coalesce behind one proposal, this could be helpful in moving the discussions forward....In the interim, the following is an outline of the draft proposal. [1] The definition of an orphan work is a work for which the copyright owner cannot be reasonably located....[3] The use of orphan works should apply to all types of uses, not-for-profit and for profit....[5] The proposal calls for a "reasonable efforts search" by "qualified users." A reasonable effort would be an effort to identify and locate copyright owners in good faith, using location tools and other resources, and that is considered reasonable under the totality of the circumstances. Such a user is an institution or individual who uses an orphan work after conducting a reasonable search. [6] The proposal will provide general guidance to the user as to what constitutes a reasonable effort, e.g. use of "best practices" developed by relevant professional organizations (e.g. from CAA, the library community, etc.) and information from the Copyright Office. [7] Once a reasonable effort has been conducted, a user may use an orphan work without limitation unless or until an owner comes forward. If an owner does come forward, new use of that work would require permission. Previous use could continue.'

(PS: Remember that if you want to submit comments on the orphan works problem to the U.S. Copyright Office, they are due by March 25 --this Friday. Reply comments are due by May 9. The easiest way to submit a comment is through the web form created by Free Culture, EFF, and Public Knowledge.)

New OA journal on community informatics

The Journal of Community Informatics is new peer-reviewed, open-access journal published by the Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN). Here's an excerpt from Michael Gurstein's editorial in the inaugural issue (Fall 2004): 'The Journal of Community Informatics (JoCI) has as its mission to present the work of those concerned with enabling communities with ICT, to provide a forum for the creation of a professional and critical discourse on the strategies and impacts of this enterprise; to help create a framework and a legitimation for those who choose this as the focus of their professional efforts; and to act as one hub among many for linking the various networks of those with interests related to community-based technologies. The Journal will include an identified section for professional peer-reviewed papers as a means to create and carry-forward a tradition of the highest quality and broadest base of systematic research. It will also include an opportunity for discussion and feedback from practitioners and policy analysts as to the application and significance of this research for practice and policy. The Journal finally, will look to act as a focal point for the broader range of professional but non-academic research with a concern for CI....It should also be noted, that the JoCI is using the Public Knowledge software produced by the Public Knowledge Project at the University of British Columbia. Our intention is that the Journal have the widest possible reader (and user) ship and it was felt that an on-line and Open Source journal would most closely achieve this.'

Electronic textual editing

The Text Encoding Initiative Consortium is publishing a volume of essays on Electronic Textual Editing. The book will be printed and priced, but there is also an OA edition of the full-text, at least in a preview version. The OA edition was itself set up in TEI XML format. (Thanks to Ross Scaife.)

New OA journal on AIDS research

Kailash C. Gupta, What does the marriage of Open Access with online publication bring? AIDS Research and Therapy, December 14, 2004. An editorial in the inaugural issue of a new OA journal from BioMed Central. Excerpt: 'Several journals are published on acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) research, but none of them appear to be Open Access. To eliminate or to abate the scourge of AIDS, it is important that the knowledge acquired through research be disseminated as soon as possible....Dissemination of the latest knowledge in basic science and its application to AIDS therapy and prevention is of paramount importance. To date, this has been accomplished with several excellent print journals dedicated to HIV-1 and the disease caused by it, AIDS. Many of them are now accessible online. However, we are launching the first Open Access journal in the AIDS arena – AIDS Research and Therapy. The purpose of this journal is not to compete with or replace any of them, but to provide a unique platform where both basic research and clinical science can be studied side by side to contemplate, design, and develop applications of basic science in preclinical or clinical research. The overarching goal of the journal is to communicate emerging knowledge at a faster pace with an aim to accelerate bed-side research by taking into consideration the latest bench-side accomplishments. An additional benefit of an Open Access, online journal is enormous cost savings for libraries and institutions in terms of the high subscription rates and archival of the old journals....Rapid dissemination of science is crucial for the progress and survival of human kind. Let the wheel of communication roll at the fastest pace and to the widest possible world.'

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Four French research agencies agree on common OA archiving policy

Four major French public research agencies --INRA, CNRS, INRIA, and Inserm-- issued a joint press release today announcing a common policy to launch OA archives to disseminate their research output. All four agencies were among the original signatories of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge (October 22, 2003). So today's news is not that the agencies endorse OA, but that they are implementing their commitment through OA archives. Under their new, common policy, they will encourage their researchers to deposit their publications as well as their raw data in the new institutional repositories. This step is a direct result of the Berlin3 meeting (Southampton, February 28 - March 1, 2005), though the agencies also cite the Gibson committee report from the UK House of Commons (July 20, 2004) and the NIH public-access policy (February 3, 2005).

At the same time, INRA and CNRS have signed the Registry of Institutional OA Self-Archiving Policies. INRIA and Inserm may sign soon as well.

Commentary on Google Scholar, Google Print

Marcus A. Banks. The excitement of Google Scholar, the worry of Google Print. Biomedical Digital Libraries 2005, 2:2. Abstract: In late 2004 Google announced two major projects, the unveiling of Google Scholar and a major expansion of the Google Print digitization program. Both projects have generated discussion within the library and research communities, and Google Print has received significant media attention. This commentary describes exciting educational possibilities stimulated by Google Scholar, and argues for caution regarding the Google Print project. Biomedical Digital Libraries is an independent Open Access journal hosted by BioMed Central.

The people behind institutional repositories

Carol Hixson has posted the results of her informal survey on institutional repositories. The survey focuses on the people implementing IR's, how many are involved at each responding institution and what backgrounds they have. Institutions that would like to respond after the fact may send their responses directly to Carol.

JISC renews funding for NJP

From the new issue of Librarian Insider, the newsletter of the Institute of Physics (p. 2): 'In a key development for New Journal of Physics (NJP) and its open-access publishing model, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the UK has announced an extension to its current funding agreement with the journal to December 31, 2005. This means that all staff members of eligible higher and further education institutions in the UK can publish work that they submit to NJP before the end of 2005 without charge. In the last 12 months NJP has seen the number of worldwide article submissions rise by more than 50% and its readership extend to over 150 countries. There have been more than 400,000 downloads of NJP articles and last year saw a significant jump in the journal's Impact Factor to 2.48.'

Finnish Ministry of Education recommends OA

On March 18, the Open Access Scientific Publishing Committee of the Finnish Ministry of Education issued a 38-page report on open access (in Finnish only). The abstract is available in Finnish, Swedish, and English. From the English abstract:
The committee was appointed to put forward recommendations for the promotion of open access to scientific and scholarly publications in Finland. The recommendations were to be addressed to research funding agencies, organisations conducting research and scientific publishers....The committee's recommendations concern publications of all researchers residing in Finland, comprising those studies that will be published in Finland or abroad for which the authors do not expect payment....The aim of the recommendations is not to change the traditional standards used for evaluating the quality of scholarly publications, but to improve access to and the availability, distribution, visibility, usability and usefulness of the publications....[T]he committee recommends that:
  • Higher education institutions and research institutes, individually or jointly, set up the necessary open access online archives in which researchers can deposit copies of their publications for free access on the internet;
  • Researchers are encouraged to deposit copies of their publications in these open access electronic publication archives with a view to rapid accumulation of material in them.

The committee has separate recommendations for funding agencies (pay processing fees at OA journals, encourage grantees to deposit their work in OA repositories), universities (encourage faculty to submit their work to OA journals and deposit it in OA repositories), journals (offer OA to their articles and allow authors to archive postprints in OA repositories), libraries (support distribution of metadata and full-texts of OA research, support the creation of OA repositories throughout the country), and the Ministry of Education (implement these recommendations). (Thanks Kimmo Kuusela.)

Open search engines

Stefan Krempl and Robert Smith, Greens warn against sides effects of search engines, Heise Online, March 21, 2005. On the campaign to get search engines to disclose their ranking algorithms. Excerpt: 'The parliamentary group of the Greens in the Bundestag, the lower chamber of Germany's federal parliament, is especially worried about the "googleising" of society and current trends in the area of search engines. Hence with a 23-page booklet, which has been published on the Web site of the parliamentary group, the MPs want to re-enliven the debate about the market dominance of the net portals, the somewhat obscure ranking of search engines and the at times opaque ways in which user data are used....Consequently the spokespersons of the parliamentary group welcomed initiatives that aimed at understanding the mode of operation of the dominant search engines whilst at the same time, for instance, attempting to collect extant Net content in a decentralized manner, a way of proceeding that, for example, SuMa, the German Society for the Promotion of Search Engine Technology and Free Access to Knowledge has truly taken to heart....Thus in Mr. Neymanns´s opinion it was important "to strengthen alternatives to the current market leader Google." This could be accomplished, on the one hand, by the use of existing but less well-known search engines or meta-search tools, and on the other, as the Greens point out, through projects dedicated to creating decentralized catalogues and search engines, of which the academic Project Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE) is an example, or by fostering the growing interest in "free search engines," which disclose their algorithms. As early as mid 2004 the Bundestag had already dealt with topics of a very similar nature.'

More on open-source chemistry

Geoffrey Hutchison, Pros and Cons of Open Source Chemistry, It's a puzzle (a blog), March 20, 2005. Hutchison's observations on the recent meeting of the American Chemical Society and on a couple of recent articles (one, two) on open-source software in science.

"Retaining copyright" may not be enough: look at the fine print

Since 2002, Nature has not asked authors to transfer copyright, but only an exclusive license-to-publish. Now Alexei Koudinov reports that Science Magazine has adopted a similar policy. See the Science contributors FAQ, especially the question whether Science requires authors to transfer copyright.

(PS: The Science pages are not dated and I can't tell how new or old its policy is. These policies look progressive, but study the details. For example, normally authors who retain copyright have all the rights they need to self-archive their postprints in any kind of repository without any kind of delay. But while Nature lets authors retain copyright, its license to publish asks for exclusive rights to "publish, reproduce, distribute, display and store" the article "in all forms, formats and media" "for the full term of copyright" and specifically builds in a six-month embargo on self-archiving. The license to publish at Science has all the terms just mentioned from the Nature license except that Science allows self-archiving without an embargo, though only to personal web sites, not repositories. One nice feature of the Science license, especially if it is new, is that it retroactively extends the author re-use rights to all authors of previously published papers in Science. Let's hope that one day Science retroactively recognizes the right of author self-archiving where self-archiving is most useful to them and their readers, in interoperable repositories.)

How orphan works affect research in history

The problem of orphan works affects every sphere of copyright, from entertainment to science. In a public draft of her comment to the U.S. Copyright Office, Elizabeth Townsend describes some of the specific problems that orphan works raise for historians.

(PS: Remember that if you want to submit comments on the orphan works problem to the U.S. Copyright Office, they are due by March 25 --this Friday. Reply comments are due by May 9. The easiest way to submit a comment is through the web form created by Free Culture, EFF, and Public Knowledge.)

More on the WHO commission on IPR and public health

The World Health Organization (WHO) has posted a summary of the Third Meeting of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (Brasilia, January 31 - February 4, 2005).

More on Fedora 2.0

Fedora Version 2.0 Open-Source Repository Supports XML and Web Services, Cover Pages, March 18, 2005. A very extensive (unsigned) article profiling the software, diving into some technical detail on its three open API's, listing the 23 institutions using the software, and offering a slew of links to related tools and literature.

New OA journal on social work

Social Work & Society is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal from the Digital Peer Publishing (DiPP) program of Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia. From the journal site: 'Social Work and Society is dedicated to critical analysis of the relationship between social work, social policy, the state and economic forces. It provides a forum in which conventional views can be challenged, theories about the status and mission of social work in society can be developed and ways for social work to act politically and responsibly can be identified. The journal aims to engage in truly international debate by including discussants from countries all over the world. In doing so, it is committed to constructing discursive relationships between research, theory, education and practice....Social Work and Society is a peer-reviewed journal published three times a year by the Group of Editors of Social Work & Society. It is an Open Access Publication that is available free of charge. It consists of sections for papers, research reports and book reviews, a forum section with country notes, documents and announcements, a section for critical essays, social reports and country reports and the online-forum SociaList for comments and discussion. Social Work and Society is an online-only journal that is not distributed in hard copy. Social Work and Society is an international journal using English as a standard language. Articles, papers, and reports will be primarily published in English.'

DiPP has also announced the launch of Afrikanistik Online, another new OA journal, though AO web site is still under construction.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Early results of the Google library project

There's a new Slashdot thread on the first full-text, public-domain books to appear online in the Google library project.

(PS: The first trickle of books may be growing, but it did not start this month. Google-digitized books appeared online at least as early as January, when I blogged an example.)

OA as a form of author control

Cees de Blaaij, Two Worlds: About Bars and Stars in Scientific Information Publishing: An Analysis of Open Source Ideology As a Means of Self-controlled Publishing, An International Journal on Grey Literature, Spring, 2005. The journal doesn't offer even an abstract free online, at least so far. However, the full-text is OA in a volume of the GL6 [Grey Literature 6] Conference Proceedings, January 2005. Abstract: 'Scientific publishing has become very profitable for several publishing companies. Information in our age has become a first rate economic asset. Another consequence is that smaller publishing companies have gradually been taken over by bigger ones. Ergo there is less competition and more concentration of economic power in the publishing sector. At the same time it has become more important for the mammoths of the publishing industry to protect these interests and give it a sturdy legal basis. This approach has triggered significant changes in intellectual property laws on a global scale. Global diversity of intellectual property became a global standard because economic powers wanted to control distribution channels to reach customers. This development did not benefit large groups of authors in general. Especially those authors who had and still have contractually obligations to the bigger publishing companies cannot make their scientific information accessible to the larger public. The simple reason for this is that the price for consumers - like libraries - has become too high. Furthermore that authors have transferred their rights to the publisher. This has resulted in a Catch 22 situation: "you-can-check-out-any-time-you-like but-you never can leave". In less poetic words: this "for profit" approach has caused an access crisis in scientific information because the ideological and legal basis of the scientific information chain has been disturbed. This article reviews this situation and analyses the viability of present efforts for publishing scientific information (including grey literature) via other kinds of publishing modes based on "open source ideology". This approach benefits authors of scientific information in general, but especially the authors of grey literature because of the public nature of this type of information. An open source approach counterweights the present economic policies of big publishing houses. The sharing of knowledge is the primary goal based on public interest. Secondly the problem of public access is guaranteed and thirdly the author(s) have more self-determination. They have more control of their situation.'

OA repository for Indian theses and dissertations

The National Centre for Science Information (NCSI) of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has launched an OA repository for electronic theses and dissertations (etd@IISc). From today's announcement: 'etd@IISc repository has been developed to capture, preserve and disseminate research theses of our institute. We expect the repository to grow in the coming days. etd@IISc is compliant to ETD-MS metadata specifications recommended by NDLTD and is also OAI v 2.0 compliant. etd@IISc grew out of two trainee projects in the NCSI IKM training programme. This service complements ePrints@IISc - the research publications repository of IISc operational for about 2 years now. It is growing steadily and is receiving significant accesses from around the world, with about 15,000 abstract/ full text views per month.'

Presentations on OA archiving

The presentations from the Open Access Institutional Repositories workshops (Southampton, January 25 and 26, 2005), are now online.

More on the French response to the Google library project

Aisha Labi, France Plans to Digitize Its 'Cultural Patrimony' and Defy Google's 'Domination', Chronicle of Higher Education, March 21, 2005. Excerpt: 'President Jacques Chirac of France has asked the head of the country's national library and the minister of culture and communication to plan a French-led project that would make millions of European literary works accessible on the Internet. The move appears to be a response to a warning from Jean-Noël Jeanneney, president of the National Library of France. In an essay in the newspaper Le Monde in January, he said that plans by Google and five leading academic institutions and libraries in the United States and Britain to digitize and make available online the content of millions of volumes posed a "risk of a crushing domination by America in defining the idea that future generations will have of the world"...In a statement released by his office, Mr. Chirac said that he had asked Mr. Jeanneney and Mr. Donnedieu de Vabres to "analyze the conditions in which the wealth of the great libraries of France and Europe could be made more widely and quickly accessible on the Internet." Mr. Chirac said that because of their "exceptionally rich cultural patrimony, France and Europe must take a determining role" in such a project....Yet French officials insist that their project should be seen not merely as a reaction to Google, but in the context of existing French and European efforts to make information available online. "I really stress that it's not anti-American," said an official at the Ministry of Culture and Communication, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "It is not a reaction. The objective is to make more material relevant to European patrimony available."...A spokeswoman for Google responded to the French announcement by saying that "we are supportive of any effort to make information accessible to the world." Sidney Verba, director of the Harvard University Library, one of Google's collaborators, also welcomed the French project. "It's a fine idea," he said. "The more of this sort of work that can be done around the world, the better off everyone will be."' (PS: Chirac, Google, and Verba are all exactly right. The more, the merrier.)

Another journal policy on NIH-funded authors

Biochemical Journal has announced its policy on how it will deal with NIH-funded authors. Excerpt: '[P]apers accepted for publication in the Biochemical Journal will be deposited automatically in PubMed Central (PMC), the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature, 6 months after the publication date of the issue. Authors will not have to expend additional time and effort on the deposition process themselves. The authentic, final copy-edited version of Authors' articles will be placed in PubMed Central without the need for further work from them.' BJ is published by The Biochemical Society.

(PS: On the plus side, BJ will not oppose author participation in the NIH public-access program, will make the deposit in PMC itself, and will deposit the final, published version of the article. On the minus side, BJ is trying to control the author's decision and will insist on a six month embargo, contrary to the NIH request that authors permit public release "as soon as possible" after publication. Opposing the NIH request in this way not only opposes the public interest in rapid public release of publicly-funded medical research, but creates precisely the dilemma we feared in which authors must choose between conflicting requests from their funder and their publisher. My advice to NIH-funded authors publishing in BJ: either accept the BJ offer and self-archive your paper outside PMC immediately after publication, or decline the BJ offer, deposit your article in PMC yourself --it's as easy as sending an email attachment--, and request public release through PMC immediately after publication. You could also avoid the dilemma that BJ is creating for its authors by submitting your work to another journal.)

More on the Beilstein J of Organic Chemistry

Ann Thayer, Open-Access Organic Chemistry Journal Debuts, Chemical and Engineering News, March 21, 2005. Excerpt: 'The Beilstein Institute for the Advancement of Chemical Sciences, in Germany, with help from online publisher BioMed Central, is launching the Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry. The peer-reviewed publication will be the first major open-access journal in this field, its sponsors say....Beilstein Institute Director Martin G. Hicks announced the new journal last week at the ACS national meeting in San Diego. The institute will cover publishing costs to make the journal’s content available without charge. Individual issues will be freely available, while an annual print archival edition can be purchased at cost.' (Thanks to Yong Liu.)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

OA in Biblical studies

Stephen Carlson's blog, Hypotyposeis, has been discussing the need for OA repositories and journals in the field of Biblical Studies.

(PS: For those following this thread, there's been a lot of work on how OA increases impact since Steve Lawrence's pioneering work in Nature. For example, see Steve Hitchcock's thorough and continuously updated bibliography.)

More on the pricing crisis

The University of Haifa Library has launched a page on high journal prices, Taking a stance on expensive publishers of journals. Excerpt: 'Commercial publishers take advantage of their control (monopoly) of knowledge created mainly in universities, and sell their journals at high prices. In order to get online access to the required journals, academic libraries are forced to acquire bundled packages which include all the publisher's journals, and they are not allowed to cancel any journal. This is a heavy burden on library budgets. Top universities have started a campaign against Elsevier, the publisher leading the above process. Cornell University Library has decided demonstratively not to acquire the Elsevier bundled package, although the price of individual journals is higher, and as a result, the saving is small and the bibliographic loss is significant. Other universities, including the Israeli university library consortium, Malmad, have conducted a long and insistent negotiation with Elsevier without much success. The commercial publishers are determined to keep prices high, and the universities cannot give up the need for information. Academic staff members abroad, who are aware of this situation, suggested taking steps against expensive publishers, such as not publishing with them, not refereeing, refusing participation in editorial boards of their journals. It was also suggested to take an active public stance against expensive publishers and publicize the steps taken against them. Another solution which is in development now is the creation of new electronic journals which will not be dependent on commercial publishers.' The page includes a list of links to related sites and information. (Thanks to Israel Scholar Communication Scrolls.) (PS: Also see my list of university actions against high journal prices.)