Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 02, 2005

April issue of SOAN

I just mailed the April issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. In addition to the usual round-up of news from the past month, it takes a close look at the differences between helping scholars and helping libraries, and the differences between helping both and harming publishers. It also looks at some of the obstacles to the goal of 100% open access and our progress in removing them.

Is Google's ambition deterring other digitization projects?

Cheryl LaGuardia, The World in a Database, Library Journal, April 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'Google twinge? I've been an avid Google fan since reading a 1999 Forbes article about the company. However, I feel uneasy about publishing enterprises like Project Torch coming to a dead halt because Google announced its library book digitization project (see LJ 3/1/05, p. 24). My concern, like that expressed by others in libraries and publishing, is that substantial scholarly publishing and digitization projects will not be funded in the expectation that "Google is going to do it anyway." We could lose --or postpone-- digital access to rare and unique material just because Google looms over the digital plain. Have a take on Google's sudden omnipresence in scholarly publishing?'

(PS: It's true that Google's ambitious digitization plan was one reason cited by Oxford University Press and the Mellon Foundation for cancelling Project Torch, which would have digitized backlist scholarly monographs. But in measuring Google's overall effect on other initiatives, remember that the same ambitious plan has stimulated France to launch a large digitization project of its own and to call on Germany, Spain, and Russia to join it.)

Friday, April 01, 2005

More on the Blackwell Online Open policy

Andrew Albanese, Blackwell Offers Open Access Plan, Library Journal, April 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'Blackwell Publishing, the leading publisher of society journals, has announced an open access publishing experiment, Online Open, to operate through 2006. Like Springer's Open Choice program, announced last year (see News, LJ 8/04, p. 16ff.), Blackwell's plan will create a hybrid system, in which open access articles are included in print subscription journals, with subscription prices adjusted, and Online Open articles will be freely available via the publisher's online journals platform, Blackwell Synergy. During the trial period, the Online Open fee will be fixed at $2500 or £1250. Blackwell officials say that Online Open submissions will be treated in the same way as any other article. Unlike Springer's Open Choice program, however, authors participating in Blackwell's Online Open program will not be required to sign over copyright to their articles, a key issue to supporters of open access.'

"Leaving scientific feudalism"

Jean-Claude Guédon, Beyond Open Access: The Political Economy of Knowledge, a public lecture at the University of Toronto lecture series on Open Source and Open Access, April 7, 2005. Abstract: 'The present debates about open access slowly bring about the need to look beyond the simply functional dimensions of self-archiving or open access journals to reach the level of what might be called a new "political economy" of knowledge. The complex, mixed roles of scientific publications are not there by chance. Instead, they represent the difficult materialization of protracted negotiations between various types of players beyond publishers and authors: librarians, research administrators and granting agencies are also involved in this process. Furthermore, none of these categories are homogeneous and, in particular, publishers act on behalf of extremely diverse crowds: scientists, of course, but also stockholders, and mixed, hybrid organizations abound. One of the more interesting facet of this whole debate, in the recent past, has been the question of how to build an open access world and why it has turned out to be more difficult than initially envisioned. The thesis of this talk will be derived from the fact that the real motivation behind publishing, from the perspective of authors, is visibility, authority, prestige, etc. The peacock-scientist wants to be nicely branded through journal titles. Out of this has grown a rich evaluation culture whose only flaw is that it is deeply ... flawed. To make open access work, the scientist-as-peacock has to be taken seriously and one must respond to his/her desires. A number of tactical and strategic recommendations will be made in this regard. The final result will be the vision that science as a competitive sharing of minds, as a system of distributed intelligence, will be much enhanced by open access even as individual scientist will find themselves leaving scientific feudalism to enter a true Republic of science at long last.' For those who can't attend, a webcast will be available here.

Improving full-text searching in science

Wolfram M. Esser, Fault-tolerant Fulltext Search for Large Multilingual Scientific Text Corpora, Journal of Digital Information, 6, 1 (2005). Abstract: 'In the work reported here, we present a new way of performing fault-tolerant fulltext retrieval on large text corpora, such as scientific encyclopedias. The weighted pattern morphing (WPM) technique introduced in this paper overcomes disadvantages of both the popular edit distance measure and the Soundex code approaches, yet keeping their flexibility. This algorithm handles phonetic similarities; common typing errors such as omission or transposition of letters, and inconsistent usage of abbreviations and hyphenation. After showing how WPM can be implemented efficiently, we present a novel method of how the weights of the internal penalty matrix can be automatically adjusted for even better results. Though the described technique can be applied without prior knowledge of actual user patterns, re-examination with a large number of online-user's patterns proves the portability of this fine-tuning approach. We further show how shifting the penalty matrix from one language to another can be accomplished. The described WPM technique is integrated into a large commercial pharmaceutical encyclopedia CDROM, an online dermatological encyclopedia, and an online-reference encyclopedia of parasitology research, thus also proving its "road capability".'

The cost of OA archiving for data

Bryan Lawrence, Function Creep and Institutional Repositories, an undated blog entry apparently posted today. Excerpt: 'The case for institutional repositories (IRs) is well made in Crow The Case for Institutional Repositories: A SPARC Position long as the definition of "digital collections capturing and preserving the intellectual output of a single or multi-university community" is appropriate. I think many of those who are considering establishing, funding, and running IRs are visualising IRs which encapsulate documents (whether published or not), but the natural tendency of many is to be (dangerously) all inclusive....The problem of course is that once one asks what a digital repository is for, one gets answers in terms of open access and preservation. Readers of my blog will know that I'm totally in favour of open access, but I don't believe too many of the folk who are advocating IRs including non-document data have thought too much about the preservation problems they will be entertaining with data as opposed to documents....Nationally, it is recognised that coping with the data deluge is a problem, yet most of these IRs seem to think that they can be set up with relatively modest investment. The idea that "institutional repository systems must be able to accommodate thousands of submissions per year, and eventually must be able to preserve millions of digital objects and many terabytes of data" is fine. However, it is only technically feasible for an institution at modest cost, if, and only if, one limits the format and variety of digital objects in the repository.'

Another OA critique misses the target

Jeffrey K. Aronson, Open access publishing: too much oxygen? BMJ, April 2, 2005. A response to Sara Schroter et al., Perceptions of open access publishing: interviews with journal authors, published in the same issue of BMJ but released in January 2005 and blogged here at that time. Excerpt from Aronson: 'In their survey of the attitudes of a small sample of scientists to open access Schroter and colleagues don't actually trumpet its self evident benefits, but their call for evidence refers to the author pays model, not open access publishing itself, although open access will not be possible without an author pays scheme or something comparable. But scientists' opinions should not frame policy without supporting evidence. We need to ask whether immediate free access to readers, with whatever method of payment is used, would benefit science (not the scientists or the grant giving bodies, who are also zealous about this idea) and hence society....Why should we uncritically adopt this system? We already have a better one, operated by many journals currently and in increasing numbers, in which readers pay for immediate access and access becomes universally free after a delay, for example 12 months, as required by the National Library of Medicine and the Wellcome Trust in their current initiative to digitise back issues of journals. Schemes such as HINARI (Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative) and AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture) will maximise opportunities to access material that is published in this way. In any system the burden of cost should be spread across those who are advantaged....Who doesn't instinctively feel that free access on day one is basically desirable? But we need to be completely sure that if we open the tap on the cylinder of this 100% oxygen the benefit to harm balance will be favourable, for we will not be able to turn the tap off --there will be no way back to subscription based journal publishing.'

(PS: A few quick responses. (1) OA is certainly possible without an "author pays" funding model. All OA archives and a majority of OA journals provide OA without charging an author-side fee. (2) Aronson is right to ask that the debate turn primarily on the benefit to science and society. What's remarkable is his unargued claim that the current subscription-based system is "better", presumably by this criterion, even though journal prices are rising four times faster than inflation and major research universities have called the subscription system "incontrovertibly unsustainable". (3) No one says that we should "uncritically" accept OA, including Schroter et al. As Aronson himself acknowledges, they examine evidence and call for more evidence. (4) HINARI, AGORA, and similar programs only improve access for developing countries. (5) The NIH policy does not require public access. (6) Aronson assumes that only readers are advantaged by publication and hence that only readers should pay for it. But authors are also advantaged by publication, especially by OA which demonstrably increases an author's citation impact.)

More on the CERN commitment to OA

CERN has issued a press release on its OA policy (March 31). Excerpt: 'CERN confirms its commitment to open access to scientific information. At a meeting last Wednesday, the Organization's executive committee endorsed a policy of open access to all the laboratory's results, as expressed in the document Continuing CERN action on Open Access, released by its Scientific Information Policy Board (SIPB) earlier in the month. "This underlines CERN's commitment to sharing the excitement of fundamental research with as wide an audience as possible", said Guido Altarelli, current SIPB chairman. Open Access to scientific knowledge is today the goal of an increasing component of the worldwide scientific community. It is a concept, made possible by new electronic tools, which would bring enormous benefits to all readers by giving them free access to research results. CERN has implicitly supported such moves from its very beginning. Its Convention, adopted in 1953 by 12 European founding Member States, requires openness, stipulating that "...the results of its experimental and theoretical work shall be published or otherwise made generally available". However, it is only in recent years that the technology has been developed that enables this aim to be achieved in practice. It was this ideal of openness and sharing in a large community that led Tim Berners-Lee to invent the World Wide Web at CERN....The above endorsement followed earlier steps that CERN had taken in the past 18 months in the direction of Open Access: approval by the SIPB in November 2003 of the document An electronic publishing policy for CERN; signing of the Berlin Declaration in May 2004 at a meeting in CERN on its implementation (Berlin 2); and the presentation of its proposed plan at a meeting in Southampton in February 2005 (Berlin 3). The Southampton meeting passed a resolution that closely matches the steps advocated by CERN.'...The ever-increasing cost of traditional scientific publishing methods is another incentive towards changing the publishing model. The CERN Library is currently unable to offer complete coverage of even its core subjects. "Authors must continue to have the freedom to publish where they want," said Altarelli, "and currently only rather few journals have adopted Open Access with acceptable business models." The position of CERN as a leading international research laboratory and its advocacy of Open Access could cause this situation to change quickly.'

More on Pakistan's digital library

'Pakistan only country to have digital library', Daily Times, April 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'Higher Education Commission chief Dr Attaur Rehman said on Sunday Pakistan was the only country where a digital library consisting of 17,000 science journals had been established. "We are living in the era of economic wars and we have made education a mockery since the inception of Pakistan," said Dr Rehman after laying the foundation stone of the Jamiat Delhi Siddiqui Community Cooperative Housing Society Ltd in Gulshan-e-Maimar. He said it was a matter of pride for Pakistan that it was the only country in the world in which a state-of-the-art digital library had been established. "This library has proved to be an effective source of reference and information for both researchers and students."' (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

MIT's report on OpenCourseWare

MIT has released the 2004 MIT OpenCourseWare Program Evaluation Findings Report (March 31, 2005). From the executive summary: 'Traffic to the OCW site is steady, increasing, and progressively global....OCW use is centered on subjects for which MIT is a recognized leader....Self learners most frequently use the site to enhance personal knowledge (58%), keep current in field developments (18%) or plan a future course of study (11%). Students primarily use the site to complement materials from a course they are taking (44%), enhance personal knowledge (32%) or plan a course of study (12%). Educators primarily use the site to enhance personal knowledge (25%), develop a course (23%), prepare to teach a specific class (18%) or enhance research (14%)....Lecture notes, full text readings, assignments and syllabi are identified by visitors as the most useful types of content....More than half of incoming MIT freshmen are aware of the site and many indicate it influenced their decision to attend the Institute; MIT upperclass undergraduates are almost all aware of the OCW site, nearly three-quarters use the site for a range of educational activities, and nearly all feel the site has had a positive effect on their student experience....The opencourseware model is being adopted by institutions in the US and internationally, both though affiliations with MIT OCW and independently.'

Interview with Melvin Day

Susanne Bjørner and Stephanie Ardito, Online Before the Internet, Part 9: Early Pioneers Tell Their Stories: Interview with Melvin S. Day, Searcher, April 2005. Excerpt:

[Day] My position [at NSF] was, if you're going to use public funds, then the public ought to benefit. And the way the public benefits is if they can talk to each other. You see, if we hadn't done that, you wouldn't have much of the national network that we have today.

[Searcher] This reminds me of today's Open Access argument.

[Day] I’ve heard about that, but I don't know very much about it.

[Searcher] Major funding for scientific research comes from the government. University researchers who are awarded government funds publish in journals that are owned by for-profit publishers, for which libraries and individuals have to pay thousands of dollars for subscriptions or the purchase of individual articles. Many say now that if the government is funding so much of this research, the findings should be available to the public for free, or for very little money, because tax dollars are supporting the activity.

[Day] I think that probably makes sense. Commercial publishers will make money regardless. I guarantee you they're not going out of business. They've taken advantage of that in the past, for some of the things that they charge. If the public didn't provide the funds for them to publish, a lot of research would not get published.

More on the NIH policy and OA in general

Carol Ebbinghouse, The Sidebar, Searcher, April 2005. Only this blurb from the TOC is free online, at least so far: 'Carol Ebbinghouse continues her examination of the open access debate, which seems to have little middle ground. This issue, she gives readers the tools to keep up with OA developments and also details the NIH situation.'

How librarians can help users find OA content

Jill Grogg, Linking Users to Open Access, Searcher, April 2005. Only this blurb from the TOC is free online, at least so far: 'Rather than an evaluation of the viability of OA, this article by Jill Grogg offers help for librarians who face the daily task of providing users with integrated access to quality scholarship, whether free or fee-based.'

Review of OA in developing countries

Leslie Chan and Sely Costa, Participation in the global knowledge commons: challenges and opportunities for research dissemination in developing countries, New Library World, 106, 3/4 (2005). The journal offers only the abstract free online, but see the OA edition of the full text at TSpace, the University of Toronto repository. Abstract: 'This paper aims to provide a review of recent trends in the Open Access movement, as well as to discuss the significance of those trends for information access in developing countries....Due to improving Internet connectivity and a growing number of international initiatives, knowledge workers in developing countries are now getting access to scholarly and scientific publications and electronic resources at a level that is unmatched historically. This is highly significant, particularly in areas of medicine, agricultural and environmental sciences, and development literature that are much needed if developing countries are to meet the Millennium Development Goals. The Open Access movement and the growing number of Open Archive Initiative compliant institutional repositories promise to provide even greater access to resources and publications that were previously inaccessible. These low cost technology and interoperability standards are providing great opportunities for libraries and publishers in developing countries to disseminate local research and to bridge the South-North knowledge gap. This paper therefore provides recommendations for knowledge workers on how to actively participate in and contribute to the global knowledge commons. The results and recommendations contained in the paper should be of interest to authors, policy makers, funding agencies and information professionals in both developing and developed countries.'

Thursday, March 31, 2005

New tools for OA content in NSDL

Eric Lease Morgan has launched MyLibrary@OCKHAM, a project to make OA content from the National Science Digital Library easier to browse, search, organize, and explore. From the site: 'This is MyLibrary@OCKHAM, a demonstration of how to make National Science Foundation Digital Library content more available through traditional libraries venues. This goal is accomplished in four steps: [1] Create a framework for storing relevent content using MyLibrary. [2] Harvest content from the NSDL OAI Repository, and save it to the underlying MyLibrary database. [3] Write reports against the database in the form of browsable lists. [4] Index the content to provide searchable interfaces....[The about page] briefly describes MyLibrary@OCKHAM, and how systems like it can be used to collect, organize, index, and disseminate OAI and open access content as targeted digital library services and collections. One of the stated goals of NSF-sponsored project called OCKHAM is to implement a Find More Like This One service. In other words, once a particular item is identified by the user as desirable implement a system whereby similar items can be identified and brought to the user's attention. Through the creation of a relatively large collection of items, allowing the user to select desirable characteristics from identified items, and through a bit of semantic analysis we hope to implement such a service.'

Summary of conference on IR's

Shirley Leung, International Conference on Developing Digital Institutional Repositories: Experiences and Challenges, Library Hi Tech News, 22, 2 (2005) pp. 14-15. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'Purpose - To outline some of the presentations at the International Conference on Developing Digital Institutional Repositories: Experiences and Challenges, held in Hong Kong, SAR, in December 2004. Design/methodology/approach - A brief description of some of the presentations at the conference. Findings - With increasing interest in the subject of institutional repository (IR) among academic and research libraries, the conference served as a useful and timely forum on the topic. Originality/value - A brief conference report of value to library and information management professionals on the theoretical and practical aspects of IR.'

The access principle

John Willensky, The Access Principle: The New Economics of Knowledge as a Public Good, a public lecture at the University of Toronto lecture series on Open Source and Open Access, March 31, 2005. Abstract: 'This presentation approaches open access and open source by returning to first principles. At issue today in scholarly publishing, Willinsky posits, is an access principle, that speaks to how a scholarly commitment to knowledge entails a responsibility to see to that knowledge circulate as widely as possible. Against growing restrictions on access to the growing body of scholarship and research over the last few decades, a broad range of practical and sustainable approaches has begun to emerge that utilizes new Internet technologies to improve access to the periodical literature. This presentation will outline ten new economic models of scholarly publishing, each of which is contributing to greater access, across the academic disciplines and involving the cooperation of private and public interests. The presentation will describe how this renewed realization of the access principle has immediate and direct consequences not only for scholarly work’s very claim to knowledge but for the quality of people’s lives. This presentation will draw on will be the research conducted by the Public Knowledge Project, as well as its experience in developing Open Journal Systems and Open Conference Systems, two of the open source solutions for open access publishing, now being used around the world in a variety of languages.' If you couldn't attend today, the webcast should soon be available here.

Progress report on an OA medical journal

Sandeep B. Bavdekar and D.R. Sahu, Path of Progress: Report of an Eventful Year for the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, 51, 1 (2005) pp. 5-8. How OA has transformed a local journal into an international one. Excerpt: 'The [OA] experiment has been immensely successful. The journal has grown in its reach, its popularity and its depth as can be seen from the upsurge in the number of submissions to the Journal [Figure - 1], rising citations received by published articles [Table - 1], [Table - 2] and growing numbers of web-site visitors [Figure - 2]. JPGM has shown that it is possible for journals in developing countries to implement, adhere to and sustain open access policies without losing on the paid subscriptions to the print version. More important, for journals with a small print circulation, open access acts as a boon allowing them to reach scientists in countries far and wide. There are additional gains too. By March 2005, close to 80% of the articles published in JPGM in the year 2002 (excluding Letters to editor and Images), have been cited by scientists. In addition, the number of citations received by the articles published in the journal has increased manifold [Table - 1]. The articles published in the journal are being quoted in the year of publication itself more frequently than ever before [Table - 2]. These are encouraging signs for smaller journals from developing countries. They demonstrate that not only are the articles published in the journal being read, but are also being cited.'

Which edition to self-archive?

In an InetBib posting, Klaus Graf asks (in German) which edition of their work scholars should archive when they don't have permission to deposit the publisher's PDF. Would it be too much work to ask scholars to add the final pagination to any edition they archive? What about making a two-layered PDF, with an image of the published text on the top layer and an OCR version of the text underneath for search engines to index? Will repositories even accept such two-layered PDF's? Do the best answers to these questions vary from discipline to discipline? Also see Graf's wiki contribution (in English) on these questions.

The promise of online access in Cameroon

John Willinsky and three co-authors, Access to Research in Cameroonian Universities, The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries, April 2005. Abstract: 'This study examines both the state of Internet access in Cameroon’s institutions of higher learning at the turn of the century and the perceptions of faculty, librarians, and graduate students of their current state of access to research literature in both print and electronic forms. It is based on a review of existing technologies at six of the seven universities in Cameroon and a survey of 91 faculty members, librarians and students drawn from six of the seven universities in Cameroon made during the academic year 2001-2002. The survey asked the participants about the current state of access to both print and online journals, while seeking to establish their priorities and interests for scholarly communication for the future. This work seeks to provide a greater understanding of the potential impact of the Internet on access to the scholarly literature in Cameroon and other developing countries. What was found as a result of this survey was both a source of concern and hope. Although university students, faculty and librarians in Cameroon had very limited access to the Internet, and often at personal expense, they saw the possibilities of this medium for increasing their access to scholarly resources. They saw it as a means of overcoming the currently unsatisfactory state of access to research, and a way to obtain online journals both from overseas and, more so among students, from Africa, which could be used for their research and teaching.'

INRIA's commitment to OA

INRIA, the French National Institute for Research in Computer Sciences and Control, has signed the Registry of Institutional OA Self-Archiving Policies. Here's how INRIA describes its OA policy on the registry policy page: 'INRIA (The French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control) is about to launch an Open Archive dedicated to its scientific publications. INRIA Chairman Gilles Kahn has signed the Berlin Declaration last June and strongly embraces the Open Archive Initiative. He is convinced that such an archive will increase INRIA's scientific visibility and impact, keep track of INRIA's scientific output, and be of use to the whole scientific community. INRIA's Open Archive is part of the HAL Open Archive, produced by the CCSD (Center for Direct Scientific Communication) of CNRS, originally for physicists. INRIA is now collaborating with the CCSD for the future evolution of HAL [Hyper Articles Online]. INRIA scientists and their research partners will be strongly encouraged to use HAL-INRIA as a repository for their research. Documents to be archived include mostly submitted or accepted contributions in Conferences and Journals, book chapters, but also tutorials, INRIA reports, presentations, self-archived dissertations and preprints. It will also be possible to archive the proceedings of conferences organized, chaired or edited by INRIA scientists. Free access to archived articles will be granted whenever compatible with the publisher's requirements. INRIA Scientists have been advised to check the editor' copyright policy on before signing any copyright agreement. Articles provided as LateX sources are automatically mirrored into ArXiv.'

DOAJ milestone

The Directory of Open Access Journals now lists more than 1,500 peer-reviewed, open-access journals. One minute ago, the tally was 1,513. For more details, see Lotte Jorgensen's announcement.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Comments on orphan works

The U.S. Copyright Office has posted the comments it received on the problem of orphan works. While these comments were due by last Friday (March 25), reply comments are due by May 9.

Automatic metadata generation: the state of the art

Jane Greenberg et al., Final Report for the AMeGA (Automatic Metadata Generation Applications) Project, submitted to the Library of Congress, February 17, 2005. From the executive summary: 'The work underlying the AMeGA project was guided by the following three goals: [1] To evaluate current automatic metadata generation functionalities supported by content creation software and automatic metadata generation applications; and review automatic metadata generation functionalities supported by integrated library systems (ILSs). [2] To survey metadata experts to determine which aspects of metadata generation are most amenable to automation. [3] To compile a final report of recommended functionalities for automatic metadata generation applications....The main finding [under Goal 1] is that there is a disconnect between experimental research and application development. It seems that metadata generation applications could be vastly improved by integrating experimental research findings.' (Thanks to LIS News.)

(PS: What's the OA connection? The more we can automate the generation of metadata, the more we can simplify and shorten the process of depositing eprints in OA repositories.)

Library alliance comment on orphan works

The Library Copyright Alliance has publicly released its comment to the U.S. Copyright Office on the problem of orphan works. The LCA consists of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), American Library Association (ALA), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Medical Library Association (MLA), and the Special Libraries Association (SLA).

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

More on the pricing crisis

Betsy Rose, Dimond Library budget creates journal cancellations, The New Hampshire, March 28, 2005. Excerpt: 'Those who wander down to the second floor of the Dimond Library [at the University of New Hampshire] may soon begin to notice the selection of print journals is decreasing on the shelves. The reason for the cancellations of journals is simple. It is because of inflation, according to Judith Brink, head of collection development at the Dimond Library....The inflation of the price of journals domestically has been 10 percent while the foreign inflation of journals has been 15 percent. The average equaling 11 percent inflation in journals, said Claudia J. Morner, Ph.D., the University librarian of the Dimond Library. The problem begins with the fact that the library budget for fiscal year 2004 (a fiscal year begins July 1and ends June 30) was $14,137,246 million while the budget for fiscal year 2005 is $14,618,696 million, which creates an increase of three percent. This means that the journals are inflating faster than the libraries budget, according to Morner....UNH is not the only school going through this. Most schools have been cutting journals, Morner said. "There isn't a library in this area or country that hasn't done it or is going to," Brink said.'

(PS: Letter to the editor: If the article attributes the problem to skyrocketing journal prices, then the title shouldn't attribute the problem to inadequate library budgets.)

OA repository for biblical studies coming

Paul Nikkel gives us a preview of a forthcoming OA repository for biblical studies. Excerpt: 'I cannot divulge the full plans right now but what we are working on will be independently funded providing a stable financial base for server and software maintenance as well as yearly digital copies of the repository available to any participating scholar. There are a few more aspects (such as an initial paid position for collecting and converting articles) that should help create critical mass but that's about all I can promise for now as we are working out the last few kinks in funding and other miscellaneous details.' Stay tuned.

More on Finland's OA recommendations

Kimmo Kuusela, Finland adopts official open access, CSC News, March 2005, p. 10. Excerpt: '[T]he Ministry of education in Finland put open access on the official agenda last autumn and appointed an authoritative committee to formulate recommendations on open access publishing for all main actors in the Finnish scientific research and publishing community. Like most similar projects elsewhere in the world, these recently released guidelines fall short of actually requiring or mandating anybody to provide open access to scientific and scholarly literature, but they do provide a comprehensive set of principles from which to start implementing the often controversial open access plans....The purpose of the recommendations is not to change the traditional standards used for evaluating the quality of scholarly publications, but to increase the visibility, discoverability, retrievability, usefulness, and impact of the Finnish research output. The two main methods to open access provision are (1) open access journals and (2) open access self-archiving, done by authors themselves....[S]cholars are to be encouraged to self-archive in this way all their [toll-access] articles in these new open access repositories....The working group also recommends that the funding agencies encourage the Finnish scientific journals to increase their open access provision. The committee asks the higher education institutions and research institutes to put all their own serial publications openly available via open access archives, and suggests that scholars should be recommended to publish their articles in open access journals whenever a suitable, high quality open access journal exists in their discipline....The lesson to be learned from the history of the open access movement from recent years is that the existence of even sophisticated technical infrastructure alone is not enough to attract scientists and scholars to offer their work to worldwide free online distribution. The more important prerequisite for the success of open access seems to be that research institutions and research funders should adopt a consistent policy, which states that the entire peer reviewed research output their scientists and scholars generate, should be openly accessible. Hopefully, the open access committee’s recommendations will help to implement such policies.'

More on how online access increases impact

Narayana S. Murali and six co-authors, Impact of FUTON and NAA Bias on Visibility of Research, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 79, 8 (2004) pp. 1001-1006. From the abstract: 'A comprehensive search identified 324 cardiology, nephrology, and rheumatology/immunology journals on-line until May 2003. The status of these journals was ascertained in MEDLINE as having FUTON [full text on the net], abstracts only, and NAA (no abstract available). Impact factors for all available journals from the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) were abstracted....FUTON bias is the tendency to peruse what is more readily available. This is the first study to show that on-line availability of medical literature may increase the impact factor and that such increase tends to be greater in FUTON journals. Failure to consider this bias may affect a journal’s impact factor. Also, it could limit consideration of medical literature by ignoring relevant NAA articles and thereby influence medical education akin to publication or language bias.' (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)

(PS: The Murali study shows that online access (free or priced) increases impact. But if online access to priced articles has this effect, then online access to free articles should have it a fortiori.)

Monday, March 28, 2005

New OA journal on public deliberation

The Journal of Public Deliberation is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal published by the Berkeley Electronic Press. The inaugural issue is now online. From the site: 'The principal objective of JPD is to synthesize the research, opinion, projects, experiments and experiences of academics and practitioners in the emerging multi-disciplinary field and political movement called by some "deliberative democracy." By doing this, we hope to help improve future research endeavors in this field and aid in the transformation of modern representative democracy into a more citizen friendly form.'

Teaching library users about access barriers

Tony Horava, Access policies and licensing issues in research libraries, Collection Building, 4, 1 (2005) pp. 9-11. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'Pupose - This paper discusses the importance of incorporating licensing issues in access policies for electronic resources in research libraries. The implications for patron understanding of basic legal issues and the role of the library in managing and acquiring these resources are investigated and discussed. Design/methodology/approach - A survey of various research libraries was undertaken to examine what is provided to patrons in terms of conditions of use for electronic resources. Literature relating to the management and provision of electronic resources was examined. Findings - It was found that few libraries provide key licensing information to their patrons. This has important consequences in terms of the patron's lack of awareness of restrictions on use, as well as the costs, complexity, and consortial involvement in acquiring these resources. Research limitations/implications - A comprehensive international review of the trends and practices of research libraries regarding access policies and licensing issues would build upon this paper's findings. Practical implications - Library patrons are not receiving adequate information about the resources they are using. If more research libraries would consider what licensing information is made available to patrons, there could be changes in patron understanding and perception of the library. This will impact the profile of the library in academia, and the changing role of librarians in collection development in the digital environment. Originality/value - The paper will be of value to research libraries involved in the acquisition, management and delivery of electronic resources to its patrons, and to librarians involved in collection development and management.' (Thanks to Charles Bailey's Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog.)

Profile of Amazon's Open Search

Richard W. Wiggins, Amazon’s New OpenSearch Enables Search Syndication, Information Today, March 28, 2005. Excerpt: 'This month Amazon introduced a new service called OpenSearch, which allows a content provider to syndicate the ability to search the provider's site. Announcing the new service at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology conference, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos proclaimed the OpenSearch mantra: "We want OpenSearch to do for search what RSS has done for content." Amazon describes OpenSearch as an example of "vertical search." At the conference, Bezos demonstrated searching for "Vioxx" in a conventional search engine. Most of the results in a linear hit list will present the most popular Web pages containing that term. But if you use Amazon's A9 as your search engine, you can select PubMed as one of your trusted "columns." Then search A9 for Vioxx and you’ll see scientific and clinical results from PubMed in addition to the traditional Web results....OpenSearch makes it possible for any content provider to export the functionality of its local site search engine to other Web sites. Amazon argues that traditional search engines often cannot do a good job of indexing content at specialized Web sites and that local search engines may understand local content far better: "Different types of content require different types of search engines. And most of the time, the best search engines for a site are the ones written by those that know the content the best" (from the OpenSearch FAQ). ...RSS traditionally has been used to feed news or article headlines to a cooperating Web site, which uses an "aggregator" to interpret the XML content and turn it into HTML, formatted as the receiving site sees fit. OpenSearch allows a content provider such as NASA or The British Library to export search functionality to other sites instead of headlines.'

More on DOAR

The Directory of Open Access Repositories - DOAR, Access, March 2005. An unsigned news story. Excerpt: 'A new service is being developed to support the rapidly emerging movement towards Open Access to research information. The new service, called DOAR - the Directory of Open Access Repositories - will categorise and list the wide variety of Open Access research archives that have grown up around the world. DOAR will provide a comprehensive and authoritative list of institutional and subject-based repositories, as well as archives set up by funding agencies - like the National Institutes for Health in the USA or the Wellcome Trust in the UK and Europe. Users of the service will be able to analyse repositories by location, type, the material they hold and other measures. This will be of use both to users wishing to find original research papers and for third-party service providers, like search engines or alert services, which need easy to use tools for developing tailored search services to suit specific user communities.'

More on the NIH public-access policy

NIH calls on scientists to speed public release of research publications, Access, March 2005. An unsigned news story. Quoting Elias Zerhouni, Director of the NIH: 'With the rapid growth in the public's use of the internet, NIH must take a leadership role in making available to the public the research that we support. While this new policy is voluntary, we are strongly encouraging all NIH supported researchers to release their published manuscripts as soon as possible for the benefit of the public. Scientists have a right to see the results of their work disseminated as quickly and broadly as possible, and NIH is committed to helping our scientists exercise this right. We urge publishers to work closely with authors in implementing this policy. In developing this policy, we made a concerted effort to balance the importance of this archive to NIH's public health mission, with the need to provide flexibility for authors, their institutions, and publishers in those cases where immediate release is not possible. NIH recognizes the importance of preserving quality peer review and the viability of a diversity of publishing models. Nevertheless, we expect that only in limited cases will authors deem it necessary to select the longest delay period.'

OA to traditional knowledge

T. V. Padma, Digital library to protect indigenous knowledge, Access, March 2005. Excerpt: 'South Asian countries will create a digital library of the region's traditional knowledge and develop laws to prevent such knowledge being misappropriated through commercial patents....The aim is to create a composite digital library comprising individual Traditional Knowledge Digital Libraries (TKDL) from each country in South Asia. Accessible using the internet, the library will contain information on traditional medicine, foodstuffs, architecture and culture. SAARC will fund the infrastructure required, and individual nations will fund the costs of training and work....The planned initiative follows the success of India's own TKDL, which will be used as a model by other South Asian nations. India created its library after fighting a successful but costly legal battle in 1999 to revoke a US patent for the use of turmeric to heal wounds - a property well known in India for generations....In 2003, there were almost 15,000 patents on such medicines in the US, European and UK patent offices' registries. However, according to the institute's Director Virender Kumar Gupta, none of the 131 academic journals used by patent examiners when deciding whether to grant a patent is from developing countries such as Brazil, China or India.'

Another TA article about OA

E. Abraham and two co-authors, The NIH Public Access Policy and ATS Journals, American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, 32 (2005) pp. 249-50. Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far. (PS: ATS stands for the American Thoracic Society.)

More on the Yahoo CC search engine

Matt Hines, Yahoo adds search for 'flexible' copyright content,, March 28, 2005. Excerpt: 'Lawrence Lessig, the Stanford Law professor who serves as Creative Commons' chairman, said the new exposure offered by Yahoo's search should help attract significantly more attention to the group's efforts. "Yahoo has always been about adding human brains to computer algorithms, to create something more than either alone. This innovation is in that line," Lessig said in a statement. "By giving users an easy way to find content based on the freedoms the author intends, Yahoo is encouraging the use and spread of technology that will enable creators to build upon the creativity of others, legally."...Yahoo said it, too, is dedicated to promoting a "more flexible set of copyright laws." The company also says it hopes that more flexible agreements will create a "remix culture" that reflects a new generation of creative works. Creative Commons has also been delving into the patent arena, calling for more flexibility in sharing scientific data and discoveries. The group says the current patent process has become too inflexible and often awards too much protection to ideas that aren't genuinely unique.'

More on OA to royalty-producing content

Philip Dorrell, Published Digital Information is a Public Good: The Case for Voted Compensation, March 2, 2005. An argument for OA to both royalty-free and royalty-producing content. Excerpt: 'This paper is a call for reform. There needs to be more awareness of what is wrong with the prohibition-based intellectual property system that the world has imposed upon itself, and how much we all lose if we fail to consider more effective alternatives. In summary: [1] Published digital information is a public good. [2] Existing intellectual property law treats published digital information as a private good, which it isn't. [3] This error results in a self-imposed "information poverty", in the midst of plenty. [4] We have decided to impose this poverty on ourselves (via our democratically elected governments), for our "own good", so that content creators can get paid. [5] Actually, we could just directly decide to pay the creators, without the self-imposed poverty. [6] Voted Compensation is a practical means of introducing a system for paying the creators of content in a manner which is no longer linked to the prohibition of copying, distributing or re-using that content. [7] Although there are various problems that could arise in the implementation of such a system, they are probably much less serious than the problems already occurring in the current system of copyright (and patents), and we should all start thinking about how a practical alternative compensation system could be implemented.'

More on the Yahoo Creative Commons search engine

Richard Poynder, The Open Wars, Open and Shut, March 28, 2005. Excerpt: 'With the launch of Yahoo Search for Creative Commons we are reminded once again that in the digital networked world two different publishing models continue to battle for mindshare: one open, the other closed. Which is the more sustainable in the long term? And what relevance does the wider movement for open content have for the debate about Open Access?....For OA publishers like BioMed Central (BMC) and the Public Library of Science (PLoS) the service is of immediate interest, since both publish under CC licences....This, says BMC's technical director Matthew Cockerill, is good news for OA. "Scientists make increasing uses of Internet search engines such as Yahoo to search the literature. The collaboration between Creative Commons and Yahoo is important as it means that scientists can now easily identify articles (such as those published by BioMed Central) that can be freely downloaded, redistributed and used to create derivative works. Possible applications of this include text mining, specialised subject specific databases, and digital archiving/preservation systems." ...For researchers who provide OA to their papers by self-archiving them the new service will have less immediate appeal, since self-archiving usually means continuing to publish in traditional subscription-based journals and then depositing the papers in an institutional repository. Since publishers routinely acquire the copyright in papers they publish self-archiving authors will not be able to archive them using a CC licence....But where do we go from here? Commenting on the new Yahoo service on his blog OA researcher Peter Suber says: "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."'

Sunday, March 27, 2005

OA and document delivery

Mike McGrath, Interlending and document supply: a review of the recent literature, Interlending & Document Supply, 33, 1 (2005) pp. 42-48. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'Purpose - To provide a review of the most recent literature concerning document delivery and related matters. Design/methodology/approach - The article is based on a broad range of published works, including papers, books, reports and web sites. Findings - Finds that Open Access does not seem to have a great impact on document delivery at present but its influence is growing and may well accelerate. Originality/value - This review is a useful source of information for librarians and others interested in document delivery.'

My writings about OA

I just made a bibliography of my writings about open access, or at least those pieces that focus less on news and more on opinion, commentary, and analysis. I made it for a publisher, but once I had it, I thought I should put it online and keep it up to date.

Successful new OA journal

The Journal of Multidisciplinary Evaluation is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal published by Western Michigan University (WMU). It was launched in October 2004 and published its second issue last month. The success of the venture prompted WMU to issue a press release (March 25, 2005): 'The new Journal of Multidisciplinary Evaluation...has had over 6,000 hits from more than 100 nations --a feat its creators call "unheard of" for a brand new academic publication. The peer-reviewed journal, edited and published by members of the doctoral program in WMU's Evaluation Center, is also striking a blow, its editors say, for academic communication and unfettered access to new information. It's bypassing the profit-driven world of academic publishing and making information available free to those who need it most. The international response to their offering is gratifying but not surprising because the need is very real, says Dr. Michael Scriven, a longtime leader in the discipline who joined the Evaluation Center faculty last fall and serves as co-editor with his former WMU colleague Dr. E. Jane Davidson, who is now working in New Zealand. "I've been pleased with the response, but I expected it," Scriven says. "A precedent was set by Gene Glass, who serves on our editorial board. His groundbreaking free access journal, Educational Policy Archives, has more readers downloading articles then there are readers for all the main paper-based educational research journals put together." Scriven says the new journal's mission is focused on putting evaluation knowledge in the hands of students and teachers around the globe, including many who are in other disciplines but want to learn about evaluation as a tool to enhance their work. The journal is also about combating the skyrocketing prices of journal subscriptions. It's a development that has sparked open warfare between scholars and commercial publishers. University libraries worldwide are canceling subscriptions to academic journals, the prices of which range from a few hundred dollars to as much as $25,000 annually. And many scholars say the academic world needs to wrestle control back from commercial publishers and keep the emphasis on sharing information rather than turning a profit....Is this the wave of the future for academic journals? Scriven says he's already been approached for advice from editors who want to publish a new philosophy journal online. "I'd guess that in 10 years, about 50 percent of journals will be published online," he says. "The price of the alternatives makes it insane to publish any other way."'

Special issue The Electronic Library on ebooks

The new issue of The Electronic Library (vol. 23, no. 1, 2005) is devoted to Electronic Books. Only the TOC and abstracts are free online, at least so far.

More on the French response to Google

Mark Liberman, Europe's response to Google to be managed by... Microsoft? Language Log, March 26, 2005. Excerpt: 'I don't want to encourage any facile Microsoft-bashing here. I often use Microsoft software, generally without complaints, and I have a lot of respect for the research carried out at Microsoft Labs. Still, the idea of Bill Gates being enlisted by Jacques Chirac to defend the world's citizens from the crushing domination of American culture... Well, words fail me, that's all.'

OA and development needs

Ann Whyte, Landscape Analysis of Donor Trends in International Development, Rockefeller Foundation, 2004. Mostly on non-OA development issues but at one point touching on OA. Excerpt (p. 67): 'There is a fierce debate about the costs of access to scientific and scholarly information. A revolution is occurring in journal publishing with initiatives that provide free access, and other experiments to transfer the costs from readers to authors. Donors need to take account of these changes in providing support to higher education....The development of capacity for managing knowledge networks is likely to be one of the areas in which more donors will invest in the future. However, it is still uncertain (some would say unlikely) that developing regions like Africa can become competitive in a globalizing world through the intensified use of ICTs, when other countries have such a head start. National governments and donors may have to consider investing in alternative routes to economic competitiveness rather than only through the development of a knowledge economy. This debate is being taken up by the Scientific Committee for Africa, which is part of the UNESCO Forum on Higher Education Research and Knowledge.' (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)

(PS: Three quick replies. (1) It's very misleading to say that OA journals shift costs to "authors" when they usually shift costs to author-sponsors such as employers or funding agencies. (2) Donors should consider supporting OA archives as well as OA journals. They are less expensive than OA journals and easily scale up to handle the research output of an institution or country. (3) The question isn't whether Africa, for example, can "become competitive" with regions that have a "head start" in ICT's, but whether OA archives and OA journals are more affordable and more effective than the current subscription system at accelerating research and bringing about all the benefits of research, including economic development. For some issues, it makes sense to compare Africa with other regions, but for this issue we have to compare OA with non-OA.)

Another TA article on OA

Hampton, Full Text Access to NIH-Funded Research, JAMA, 293 (2005) p. 1440. Not even an abstract is free online for non-subscribers.

New access policy at Stem Cells

Curt I. Civin and three co-authors, Open Access, Rapid Publishing: No Longer a Thing of the Future, Stem Cells, 23 (2005) pp. 456-457. Not even an abstract is free online for non-subscribers.

Update. I just got a copy of the text. Here's an excerpt: 'The spirit of open access is something Stem Cells has fostered for some time. The journal already offers every published paper to all readers online after 1 year --the same time frame that the NIH policy specifies for submission of NIH-supported research articles that have been accepted to peer-reviewed journals. And coming soon there's even better, faster news on the journal's horizon: Stem Cells EXPRESS. With this new feature, Stem Cells will present online --within 2 weeks of acceptance-- all manuscripts accepted for publication as Rapid Communications. To be sure, these will not be copy-edited, final versions; but they will be searchable in Medline and citable, and they will be posted and accessible to subscribers far earlier than their corrected, edited, proofread versions....And beyond Rapid Communications, we plan to gradually expand the online "ahead-of-print" publication of accepted manuscripts to include every manuscript we accept.'

(PS: Just to be clear: The new policy is not OA. Access to Rapid Communications is still limited to subscribers. Moreover, the 12 month embargo is tolerated but not encouraged by the NIH, which "strongly encourages" free online access "as soon as possible after publcation".)