Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 16, 2005

More on the AIHE

The American Institute for Health Education (AIHE) now provides free online citations to medical literature. As before, if readers want full-text, AIHE will provide it at cost (photocopying plus any permission fees). Admittedly, this is not OA. But AIHE is not for profit and its service can be the next best thing for patients and researchers who need primary sources and don't have access to a medical library. For more on the AIHE, see the web site or our blog posting from September 26, 2004.

More on Canadian copyright reform

Terry Pedwell, Teachers, publishers at odds over proposed copyright changes, Globe and Mail, April 16, 2005. Excerpt: 'A battle has erupted between educators and publishers of Internet materials over proposed changes to Canada's copyright law. Teachers are worried they could face lawsuits for distributing material downloaded from the Internet to their students. But rights holders say legislating open access to the Internet would mean they won't get paid for their work...."Teachers, school boards, any educational institution potentially could be open for lawsuits," said [Harvey Weiner of the Canadian Teachers' Federation], who would like to see Ottawa legislate free access to public materials in cyberspace. "What we're asking for is clarity."...Provincial education ministers, outside Quebec, are pushing for the legal change, arguing that there should be free access to anything deemed publicly available and free of charge on the Internet. "If you put something on the Web because you want people to use it free of charge, this is what we want the right to do," said Nova Scotia Education Minister Jamie Muir, who heads a copyright consortium on the Council of Ministers of Education, of which Quebec is not a member. "The current legislation, technically, does not permit that."...[Weiner] said teachers don't want free access to material sold on the Internet, but only to material publicly available and free.'

Open government and OA to govt information

Todd La Porte, Being Good and Doing Well: Organizational Openness and Government Effectiveness on the World Wide Web, Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, February/March 2005. Excerpt: 'For several years advocates have argued that digital systems in public organizations have considerable promise to improve a wide range of government functions, both in the developed and in the developing worlds. Many countries are grappling with how best to realize that promise....After nearly a decade of use of the Web in governments around the world, we believe we have sufficient data to evaluate these systems' impact on government effectiveness and their contribution to increased public participation....[I]mprovement in effectiveness is caused by more openness in Web operations, but not the reverse.'

OA and the "fertile soil of dissatisfaction"

Charles Greenberg, Good old days? Biomedical Digital Libraries April 13, 2005 (provisional text). Abstract: 'Alternative models of subsidizing scholarly publishing and dissemination have germinated and gathered momentum in the fertile soil of dissatisfaction. Like the stubborn spring dandelion that needs but a small crack in the sidewalk to flower boldly, the first flowers of Open Access in library literature, including Biomedical Digital Libraries, have sensed their opportunity to change the existing paradigm of giving away our scholarship and intellectual property, only to buy it back for the privilege of knowing it can be read. Will biomedical digital library and informatics researchers understand their role in a new era of Open Access simply by desiring an immediate uninhibited global audience and recognizing the necessity of open access peer-reviewed literature to become self-sufficient?'

Interview with Mike Eisen

Spencer Reiss, Science Wants to Be Free, MIT Technology Review, May 2005. An interview with Mike Eisen, Berkeley biologist and co-founder of the Public Library of Science. Excerpt (quoting Eisen): 'Depending on who’s counting, 95 percent of research papers in the life sciences are still locked up by the big commercial publishers --Elsevier, Springer, and the rest. It's ludicrous at a time when the Internet has pushed the actual cost of distributing a research paper close to zero....[I]f research were freely available, people would build better tools to sift through and dig things out. And what if you're Joe Guy whos just been diagnosed with cancer? It's ridiculous that you can't read papers that your tax dollars have paid for that might be pertinent to your condition. And often your doctor can't either --we won’t even mention the doctor in Uganda. In the first issue of the Lancet --Elsevier's prime medical journal-- there was an editorial stating that the aim of the publication was to communicate the findings of science to the widest possible audience. Somewhere along the line, they became a business and lost touch with why they exist.... [Question: Why was the NIH policy weakened?] The forces of darkness surprised us....What we have now is an egregiously subsidized industry --they're given content for free and then paid tremendous amounts of money to process and distribute it. Peer reviewers mostly aren't compensated. In a lot of fields, even the people who oversee the peer-review process are volunteers. And of course, the research that went into the papers is already paid for. And then the publishers have the gall to insist that they own a copyright on the results.'

CAS protesting competition from OA PubChem

Associated Press, Company says free government information threatens its business, The State, April 15, 2005. Excerpt: 'CAS, formerly known as Chemical Abstracts Service, said the National Institutes of Health's PubChem database copies CAS' registry. It has asked the Bethesda, Md., health organization to change the way it compiles information. While CAS charges a fee for access to its registry, PubChem offers it free, threatening the company and its 1,200 employees, CAS President Robert Massie said. "For me to wake up one morning and find I have to compete with my own government is extraordinary," Massie told The Columbus Dispatch for a story published Friday. The information CAS provides - chemical properties, molecular diagrams, scientific-journal entries - is used by thousands of chemists and other scientists. CAS questions whether the information PubChem compiles violates copyright law. CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society, has tracked the field of chemistry since 1907. The CAS registry contains information on 25 million chemicals. Last year, NIH started PubChem to further medical research. Its 850,000 entries link molecular data to biomedical literature, said Jeremy Berg, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. He said PubChem does not have the same information as the CAS Registry. Gov. Bob Taft said in a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt that PubChem "threatens the very existence of CAS."'

(PS: This is ominously reminscent of the SIIA lobbying to kill PubScience.)

EU response to Google

Mark Chillingworth, Chirac to demand EU response to Google, Information World Review, April 15, 2005. The last we heard, Jacques Chirac was asking Germany, Spain, and Russia to join France in digitizing European books to neutralize the supposed edge that the Google library project would give to Anglo-American literature. Now Chirac is asking the whole EU. Excerpt: 'Jacques Chirac, the French President, is to propose a European-wide digitisation of European libraries to rival Google Print later this year. In a statement from the Elysee Palace, Chirac announced that the French culture minister, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, and the president of the National Library of France, Jean-Noel Jeanneney, will study the viability of such a plan....Chirac described equivalent access to the collections of European national libraries as "fundamental for the dissemination of knowledge"....President Chirac is expected to take the results of the De Vabres and Jeanneney study to the next EU heads of state meeting in June, where he will propose a co-ordinated alternative digitisation effort backed by EU money.'

(PS: I don't care if the motive is cooperation or competition. The more digitized books, especially free online digitized books, the merrier.)

More on Google Scholar and link resolvers

Norman Oder, Google Scholar Links with Libs, Library Journal, April 15, 2005. Excerpt: 'Google Scholar may be a useful tool, but when users search for an item, how do they know it's in their library's collection? When Google Scholar launched last year..., librarians working with the OpenURL standard—which helps resolve links in a user-specific fashion—recognized that link resolvers and Google Scholar would be a good match. Since February, some 28 libraries, mainly at U.S. universities, have been testing institutional access in a pilot project, using the link resolver product each has purchased. If a user is working at a computer in the library, the access information comes up automatically; if not, the user must set specific preferences when using Google Scholar. I don't think it'll compete with traditional A&I databases that are done well, but I imagine it would definitely compete with any providers that are searching the open web," observed John McDonald, acquisitions librarian at Caltech....Once a library authorizes the company providing the link resolver to give Google its holdings, Google then highlights links in Google Scholar results pages that cite items the library holds....While journal articles that have PubMed IDs and DOIs (digital object identifiers) typically turn up appropriate library links in a Google Scholar search, neither Acharya nor librarians interviewed could estimate what percentage of results lack those links. "Items like preprints and anything from institutional repositories are indexed in Google Scholar, but they're not going to have those identifiers," Caltech's McDonald said. "Libraries are going to have to work with Google to make sure there are other identifiers." '

(PS: On the last point, let's distinguish labels from context-sensitive links for link-resolvers. Labels would help. Searchers would like to know which articles coming up in a search are OA. But the OA content in repositories won't need context-sensitive links like the priced content. That's the whole point of OA. All users have access already and needn't be steered to a copy their library has bought or licensed.)

Friday, April 15, 2005

Library catalog data under a CC license

A consortium of Austrian public libraries is offering its catalog data under an Austrian Creative Commons license. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

UN report on OA for development

Calestous Juma and Lee Yee-Cheong, Innovation: Applying Knowledge in Development, UN Millennium Project, 2005 (large, 194 pp. PDF). Excerpt: '[p. xiii] The aim of this report is to share lessons learned from the past five decades of development practices. It is not a collection of recommendations of what countries should do but a source of ideas on how to approach development challenges....[p. 11] Open access publishing has the potential to make all published knowledge available to anyone with an Internet connection. The United Nations has been at the forefront in the drive to establish open access to information and technology....[p. 109] Compiling knowledge of best practices into freely accessible databases would be another way to use ICT to diffuse technology and encourage its appropriate adoption in developing countries....[p. 115] Open access to sequence data is an important tool for promoting innovation and should therefore be encouraged as part of the large pursuit to balance "open science" and proprietary incentives embodied in intellectual property rights....[p. 168-169] While the prospect of free, comprehensive Internet archives of scientific literature is compelling, the logistics of open access remain a source of uncertainty for some stakeholders in scientific publishing. The United Nations has championed the need to promote open access to information and technology. It can play a critical role in promoting the concept of open access....[p. 169] Unrestricted access to scientific data, such as genetic and molecular information, has revolutionized life science research in recent years; open access to the treasury of scientific and medical literature will have equally profound benefits for research. For research libraries open access will help contain the spiraling costs of subscriptions to scientific journals....[p. 170] In the long run the open access model will thrive when there is a redistribution of funding in the scholarly publication system. Costly individual and institutional subscriptions can be eliminated, freeing up funds from libraries, universities, and ultimately research grants --funds that could then be used to pay for publication charges. Many research-funding agencies --particularly those that invest in health, the environment, and other areas of concern to developing countries-- already acknowledge that the dissemination and sharing of information and data are crucial to the advancement of their goals. These agencies can do more to assert that open access publishing is an important mechanism to facilitate this global sharing of knowledge....[T]he digital divide should not prevent the international community from finding creative ways to promote access to knowledge. In fact, the existence of open access facilities such as the Public Library of Science should serve as a signal of the urgency of providing the infrastructure needed to link the developing world to the global fund of knowledge.' (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)

(PS: This is very encouraging, especially for the signs that the UN may increase its support for OA. The only thing missing is an approciation for the role of OA archiving alongside OA journals.)

Another IR on the horizon

ISI Web of Knowledge will include Medline content

Thomson Scientific has announced that ISI Web of Knowledge will soon incorporate content from Medline. From the April 7 press release: 'Today, Thomson Scientific, a business of The Thomson Corporation, announced that the ISI Web of Knowledge content will be enhanced with MEDLINE, which contains nearly eleven million records from over 7,300 different publications from 1965 to the present. The MEDLINE data will be augmented with all the unique capabilities of the ISI Web of Knowledge premier research platform, creating a unique version of MEDLINE’s comprehensive life sciences and biomedical bibliographic data. MEDLINE through ISI Web of Knowledge will include: [1] Citation Alerts that notify users when another author has cited their work. [2] Unique links to citation information within Web of science that allows users to track a work through time to discover its foundation and influence, as well as to uncover works with common citations to reveal hidden relationships between them.' (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

(PS: Medline is OA and ISI Web of Knowledge is not. This is a good case study in the commercial re-use of OA content.)

More on orphan works

Peter Hirtle has written an FAQ on orphan works for the April 15 issue of RLG DigiNews.

More on Connotea and social bookmarking

Call for BMJ to return to OA

Iain Chalmers, Restore true open access to, BMJ, April 16, 2005. A letter to the editor. Excerpt: 'I joined the BMA [British Medical Association] when it ran a principled campaign in opposition to Margaret Thatcher's proposals for "reforming" the NHS. There have been other occasions when I have felt proud to be a member....In contrast, I feel ashamed of the BMA's decision to restrict access to, and I am one of several people who have tried (so far unsuccessfully) to prompt debate about this decision at the annual representative meeting. Making available to the world without charge reflected creditably on an association of well paid professionals. At a time when the reputation of the medical profession is under attack from a variety of quarters, this generous spirited gift to the public could have been highlighted by the BMA. Instead, it decided that it would not continue to subsidise open access. I regard the creation of a fully open access as the most important single advance in medical publishing during my professional lifetime. Not only did it bring research, educational material, news, and views to a very wide readership at no cost to readers, it developed a unique forum for lively debate, engaging a wide variety of individuals and constituencies. The of 2005 is not what used to be, and I am already accessing it less than I used to now that the site demands passwords from me. Members of the BMA should be given the opportunity to debate at this year's annual representative meeting the decision to withdraw support for fully open access to I believe that decision has further tarnished a professional image that had actually been enhanced by the creation of the pre-2005' (Thanks to Jan Velterop.)

New OA journal from EMBO and Nature

Yesterday EMBO and the Nature Publishing Group announced the launch of their first open-access journal, Molecular Systems Biology. From the press release: 'The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and Nature Publishing Group (NPG) announce the launch of Molecular Systems Biology. This new online journal aims to fill a gap in the current literature. The first journal to be dedicated solely to the emerging fields of molecular systems biology and synthetic biology, Molecular Systems Biology is also the first publication to implement pioneering new systems biology technologies in the presentation of articles and their associated data....Molecular Systems Biology is currently the only journal in the field to accommodate authors submitting data sets in Systems Biology Mark-Up Language (SBML) and CellML, widely-used XML-based exchange formats for representing biological processes and communicating related data....Molecular Systems Biology is an open-access journal – another first for EMBO and NPG and an important catalyst for data-sharing. Publication costs will be met, in part, by a publication charge for each accepted article. The charge of £1700 ($3000) per article can be waived for authors who can justify that they are unable to bear the costs of publication, and also for authors from low-income countries.'

Post-NIH strategies for OA

Andrew Richard Albanese, Life After the NIH, Library Journal, April 15, 2005. Excerpt: 'On January 15, 2005, a standing-room-only crowd of librarians listened as a panel of experts, moderated by Columbia University's Jim Neal, voiced support for the National Institute of Health's (NIH) proposal to mandate free online access to the research it funds. On the dais at this SPARC/ACRL forum at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Boston, there was a librarian from the National Library of Medicine. There was an eloquent scientist. The star of the session, however, was a citizen named Sharon Terry. A former college chaplain, Terry is a leading voice in the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, a key ally with SPARC in lobbying for the NIH's access plan. She captivated librarians, even brought some to tears with the story of how she and her husband were reduced to "stealing passwords" and other schemes to access medical literature in libraries --literature that eventually helped them to help their doctors treat their two young children, both suffering from a rare form of cancer....In the wake of the NIH proposal, there is clearly more scrutiny than ever on the open access movement even though the NIH did not propose open access....[For SPARC] much of 2004 was devoted to pushing the NIH proposal, and much of SPARC's 2005 strategic plan concerning public advocacy is dedicated to monitoring and helping to market the NIH's final policy. That has some, including [Stevan] Harnad, questioning whether this is the best use of librarians' time and resources....The NIH policy, Harnad contends, is an example of the library community's very good intentions gone bad. "The NIH endorses back access, not open access," he explains. "I mildly supported the policy at a six-month delay, but at 12 months, and as a request, I got off the boat." Specifically, Harnad argues, the NIH policy in essence does little more than create a de facto embargo period of 12 months. "If this is how open access is being defined by the NIH, six months, or a year," Harnad says, "then of course that's what some people will do." In response, [Rick] Johnson [of SPARC] says it is a mistake to take the current NIH policy at face value and that the public discussion SPARC has helped fuel will crystallize into success for open access. "Without such a clear symbol of why we need open access, change on a broad scale would occur at a slower pace," he says. "I am convinced that Congress will not be satisfied with a de facto 12-month embargo, and I can't imagine the NIH will be either."'

(PS: It's misleading to depict this strategic disagreement as a rift, as if some OA proponents were happy with the weakened form of the NIH policy and some were not. All the parties Albanese discusses are unhappy with it. The fact that some see some forward steps to accompany the backward steps doesn't change that.)

The OA movement is "a powerful catalyst for change"

Lee Van Orsdel and Kathleen Born, Choosing Sides--Periodical Price Survey 2005, Library Journal, April 15, 2005. Excerpt: 'One indicator [of deep change] is the sharpened rhetoric that signifies growing consensus about the nature of the ongoing "serials crisis." Librarians are quick now to challenge anyone who suggests that an infusion of new funds from their institutions will solve the problem. Higher education itself is in a funding crisis and in no position to rescue library materials budgets. Nor will the crisis be solved by lower rates of annual inflation for journal titles. For decades we focused concern on annual price increases while base prices for scientific journals, in particular, cumulated into such a mass that the entire scholarly communications system has become unsustainable. As evidence mounts that the STM journals crisis has weakened other segments of the scholarly publishing market, including book publishers, virtually everyone concedes that change is necessary and that it must come quickly. Our "serials crisis" has, in fact, morphed into what some would call a crisis of public policy, pulling patient advocates, taxpayers, researchers, grant agencies, legislators, and antitrust lawyers into unlikely alliances with academic librarians --all united in pursuit of more open and affordable access to scientific information for the good of society as a whole. These alliances do not exclude scholarly publishers, many of whom welcome the benefits of opened access. Even publishers whose opposition is fixed would have to agree that the open access (OA) movement is pushing the market. But there is little agreement on how or to what extent....Despite rumors to the contrary, the OA movement remains a powerful catalyst for change....An ISI study found that the open access journals it tracks for impact are doing well, even when compared with very well-established traditional journals. As other studies of OA vs. toll-access articles emerge, indications are that OA literature will exceed toll-protected literature in both citations and downloads.'

Licensing preprints for OA

Roger Clarke, A Proposal for Open Content Licensing for Research Paper (Pr)ePrints, a preprint, last revised April 15, 2005. Abstract: 'Many academic papers that are to be submitted to refereed conferences and journals have been previously exposed to the author's colleagues. The term 'preprints' has long been used to describe such documents. 'Departmental Working Paper' series were for many years a conventional vehicle for their publication. In the modern world, preprints are frequently transmitted electronically, variously as email attachments and as files available for download over FTP or HTTP. When a preprint is made available electronically, it is likely that the author provides the recipient not only with a copy, but also with a copyright licence. In most cases, however, the licence is only implicit, and the terms of the licence are unclear. This creates the potential for considerable uncertainties, and those uncertainties are of serious concern in the context of tension between for-profit publishers of refereed articles and the research communities that referee and edit them for-gratis, and depend on them for early access to information. This paper briefly reviews the open content and ePrints movements, considers the interests of the various stakeholders, proposes a set of licence terms intended to satisfy the needs of all parties, and concludes that a particular Creative Commons licence-type should be applied to all electronic preprints.'

Considering OA in geospatial information research

Adena Schutzberg, On Intellectual Property, Licensing and Publishing, Directions Magazine, Apri 14, 2005. A survey of publishing issues for geospatial information science. Excerpt on OA: 'That brings me to an "alternative" model for publishing, this one for scientific research. The model most of us know, involves scholars doing research, submitting it for review and one day, having it published in a prestigious journal. The journal itself would take no money from the author, but might run advertising and might charge quite a lot to individuals and libraries for a subscription. Enter the new model. In the geospatial arena, one might want to be published in the International Journal of Health Geographics. It follows the "new model" called Open Access. That includes "journals that use a funding model that does not charge readers or their institutions for access." To be part of the Directory of Open Access Journals, among other things, the journal must provide "fulltext, open access scientific and scholarly journals that use an appropriate quality control system to guarantee the content." International Journal of Health Geographics fits the criteria. It charges authors to be included, though the fee may be waived. Is that the best way to make scientific information available? Is it "better than" advertising and subscriptions? The jury is still out. However, it's worth noting that a recent study found free access journals are well-cited. About 5-10% of all scholarly journals now provide free access. (Just to be clear, Directions Magazines and its peers are considered trade journals. We use the traditional model where advertising and/or subscription fees support the business. Content, while sometimes scholarly, is more geared to the casual, but interested reader. These days, few geospatially related trade publications in the United States charge subscriber fees of any kind.)'

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Detailed look at the Google library project

Wade Roush, The Infinite Library, MIT Technology Review, May 2005. A detailed look at the Google library project and some of the controversies it has spawned, e.g. on Google's profit motive, the need for preservation after digitization, and user access rights.

Slashdot discussion of OA journals

There's a new Slashdot discussion of OA journals.

CISTI considers OA

The Canadian Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI) has released its Strategic Plan 2005-2010. Section 3.2 gives a misleading overview of OA: as if self-archiving didn't exist, as if OA journals charging author-side fees used an "author pays" model, as if most OA journals used this funding model, and as if some OA proponents argued that peer-reviewed literature was costless to produce. Then it draws some conclusions: 'This decade will see continuing experimentation with Open Access models and growing pressure on publishers to make journals partially or fully open access. This will have significant impacts on not-for-profit publishers, including CISTI's publishing program, the NRC Research Press. CISTI already provides free access for Canadians to the electronic versions of the NRC Research Press journals and monographs. This access is supported by funding from the Government of Canada through the Depository Services Program, administered by Public Works and Government Services Canada. However, CISTI relies on revenue from the sale of NRC Research Press publications outside of Canada. CISTI must be aware of and respond to trends regarding Open Access and will need to develop a new funding model for its publishing activities that will take these trends into account. Open Access may result in reduced collection costs for libraries. However, costs related to maintaining permanent storage and access may rise. As the trend to institutional repositories becomes a standard practice, CISTI is positioned to develop an institutional repository for NRC and may be called upon by the government to provide broader access to R&D outputs of Canadians through a national repository. New challenges and opportunities created by the outcomes of the Open Access movement will impact on CISTI's collection costs and policies and on how CISTI provides access to STM information in the new paradigms.'

Two of the CISTI strategic goals push in the right direction, though without committing the organization to OA: 'Goal 1: Provide universal, seamless, and permanent access to information for Canadian research and innovation. Goal 2: Enable researchers and entrepreneurs to advance and exploit knowledge through accelerated, innovative scientific communication.'

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

On publishing's future

Michael Peskin, Publication and the Internet: Where Next?, APS News 14(4), 8 (April 2005). (Access restricted to APS members. A preprint is available on the author's website.) Peskin argues that technological advances make it possible for authors to assume many of the functions provided by journals and "that the roles of distribution and archiving can, to a great extent, become the responsibility of the author if appropriate technical means are provided. The roles of refereeing and, to a lesser extent, indexing, require professional services. Following this path, we can save costs and improve communication at the same time." (sources; PAMNET-L, ResourceShelf)

Presentations on building IR's

The presentations from the SPARC session, Building a Successful Institutional Repository, at the ARCL 12th National conference (Minneapolis, April 7-10, 2005), are now online.

Does OA correlate with demand?

Jonathan D. Wren, Open access and openly accessible: a study of scientific publications shared via the internet, BMJ, April 12, 2005. Abstract: 'Objectives: To determine how often reprints of scientific publications are shared online, whether journal readership level is a predictor, how the amount of file sharing changes with the age of the article, and to what degree open access publications are shared on non-journal websites. Design: The internet was searched using an application programming interface to Google, a popular and freely available search engine. Main outcome measures: The proportion of reprints of journal articles published between 1994 and 2004 from within 13 subscription based and four open access journals that could be located online at non-journal websites. Results: The probability that an article could be found online at a non-journal website correlated with the journal impact factor and the time since initial publication. Papers from higher impact journals and more recent articles were more likely to be located. On average, for the high impact journal articles published in 2003, over a third could be located at non-journal websites. Similar trends were observed for the delayed or full open access publications. Conclusions: Decentralised sharing of scientific reprints through the internet creates a degree of de facto open access that, though highly incomplete in its coverage, is none the less biased towards publications of higher popular demand.'

(PS: Wren's question is interesting and important, and I trust his results as far as they go. But we should beware of concluding that most high-demand or high-quality articles already exist in some OA form, or that high-impact leads to OA more than the reverse. I'm not saying that Wren himself makes these mistakes. On the first: many articles are not self-archived because their authors are unfamiliar with the process or too busy, variables entirely independent of the article's demand or quality. On the second: many archived articles may be highly cited because they are OA, not vice versa. To supplement Wren from this point of view, see the evidence that OA increases citation impact.)

More on open courseware beyond MIT

eduCommons is a new open courseware portal from Utah State University. From the front page: 'eduCommons does not grant credits or degrees, and does not provide access to faculty. eduCommons gives you open access to the materials used in a variety of courses.' For more details, see the FAQ.

OA to scholarship in history

Roy Rosenzweig, Should Historical Scholarship Be Free? Perspectives, April 2005. Excerpt: 'Although the original force of the initiative was diluted through industry lobbying, the NIH measure represents government recognition of the principle that research, especially government-supported research, belongs to the public, which should not have to pay the prohibitively high subscription charges levied by many scholarly journals. The new policy affects few historians, but its implications ought to give us serious pause. After all, historical research also benefits directly (albeit considerably less generously) through grants from federal agencies like the National Endowment for the Humanities; even more of us are on the payroll of state universities, where research support makes it possible for us to write our books and articles. If we extend the notion of "public funding" to private universities and foundations (who are, of course, major beneficiaries of the federal tax codes), it can be argued that public support underwrites almost all historical scholarship....The advantages of open access are fairly obvious and have been summarized well by key partisans such as Steven Harnad, Peter Suber, and John Willinsky. They note that journals benefit because their research is, in Suber's words, "more visible, discoverable, retrievable, and useful." Even more important, authors gain greater visibility, a bigger audience, and more impact. ...The most important beneficiaries of open access, however, are nonscholarly readers and citizens, who would gain entry to a world that is currently closed to them. Willinsky describes the lack of public access to electronic scholarship as "a secondary digital divide" that "affects health organizations in Indonesia, university students in Kenya,...anti-poverty organizations in fair participants in Wichita and high school history teachers in Charleston."...Open access to scholarship fits perfectly with the founding principles of scholarly societies....But the AHA [American Historical Association] is a publisher as well as a scholarly society and, as such, giving away the scholarship found in the AHR threatens the economic basis of both the Association and the journal. [Rosenzweig then considers six ways to for the AHA to provide OA without putting itself out of business.] ...Regardless of one's view of the merits of open access (and my own position is obviously in favor of much freer access), these approaches require careful consideration by historians—if only because external pressures (from government, from the rising tide of the open access movement) are likely to force us to re-evaluate our policies sooner or later. But the more important reason to consider how we can achieve open access is that the benefits of broad and democratic access to scholarship --benefits that are within our grasp in a digital era-- are much too great to simply continue business as usual.' (Thanks to Muninn.)

(PS: This is a beautiful argument for OA in history. I wish every discipline had a high-profile essay of this cogency to kick the ball forward.)

OA for archaeologists

Antonella D'Ascoli, Open Access Archaeology, Journal of Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Archaeology, March 30, 2005. The article and journal titles are in English but the article is in Italian, which I can't read. Google's English shows that it's a general intro to OA. (Thanks to Internet and Open Source in Archaeology.)

OA discussion at Rutgers (please open it up)

In the April 11 issue of The Daily Targum, the student newspaper of Rutgers University, there is a column by Sam Liao that apparently discusses faculty and library unhappiness with high journal prices. In the April 13 issue there is apparently a letter to the editor from Jim Niessen pointing out that many new journals are OA and that two are edited and published at Rutgers. I'd give you more details, and working links, but The Daily Targum not only requires registration to read the stories, but automatically gives registrants an email subscription to the paper. Sorry, Targum. It's not worth it.

Google Scholar and citation impact data

T.J. Sondermann, Scientific impact quantity and quality: Analysis of two sources of bibliographic data, On Google Scholar, April 12, 2005. Excerpt: 'I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day about what would happen if Google used some of their newly acquired cash reserves to purchase Thompson/ISI and their Web of Knowledge citation database and added those citations to Scholar. I can't begin to fully understand this analysis from a professor at UC San Diego [Richard K. Belew], but it seems that it might not even be necessary. [Quoting Belew:] "Until recently, Thompson/ISI has provided the only source of large-scale 'inverted' bibliographic data of the sort required for impact analysis. In the end of 2004, Google introduced a new service, GoogleScholar, making much of this same data available. Here we analyze 203 publications, collectively cited by more than 4000 other publications. We show surprisingly good agreement between data citation counts provided by the two services. Data quality across the systems is analyzed, and potentially useful complementarities between are considered. The additional robustness offered by multiple sources of such data promises to increase the utility of these measurements as open citation protocols and open access increase their impact on electronic scientific publication practices."'

AAP/PSP letter to the NIH

Marc Brodsky, writing for the Professional/Scholarly Publishing (PSP) Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), has publicly released his April 8 letter to Elias Zerhouni on the NIH public-access policy. Excerpt: 'Journal publishers are increasingly concerned that NIH will begin implementing its new Public Access Policy regarding the published results of NIH-funded research on the previously-announced date of May 2, despite the fact that the promised "Public Access Advisory Working Group" has not yet been established and likely will have insufficient time to adequately address a number of important implementation issues prior to that date....[U]pon submission of manuscripts to PMC, the authors will be expected to "choose an appropriate PMC submission agreement" to indicate what copyright restrictions, if any, apply to the manuscript. Surely authors, publishers and other stakeholders should be afforded an opportunity to review and comment on such agreements before they are actually used to implement the Policy....The practical implications of certain technical issues, such as the NIH's conversion of submitted manuscripts into an XML-based format and the PMC's use of embedded linking to deal with the question of "version control" between the published journal edition of the material and the author's submitted "final manuscript," need to be discussed with and among stakeholders before they become de facto aspects of implementing the Policy.'

If you haven't self-archived, try it with this demo

The folks behind Eprints, the archiving software, have put together a Demonstration Eprints Archive. One purpose is to demystify the process of self-archiving for scholars who have never tried it. From Stevan Harnad's email announcement: 'For those of you who have never self-archived a paper, or who have questions, uncertainties or doubts about how easy/difficult, slow/fast it is to self-archive, please try out Demoprints....Demoprints is there for those who have not yet self-archived, or are thinking about or planning to create an institutional OA archive, or have definite ideas (pro or con) about self-archiving, yet have never actually done the keystrokes. All you have to do is register (as you will in any archive), and then deposit a paper. You may be surprised at how fast and simple the thing turns out to be.' Also see the new paper by Les Carr and Stevan Harnad, Keystroke Economy: A Study of the Time and Effort Involved in Self-Archiving.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Defense of OA from Pfizer Inc.

Here are some of Ross Mayfield's notes on Janet Liggett's presentation at Buying and Selling eContent 2005. Liggett is with Pfizer Global Research & Development. 'Open Access is a revolution in pricing structure, institutional repositories provide new challenge in finding information, author archiving. It stands things on its head and encourages cost to be moved away from the reader, an important feature regardless of who pays for it eventually. Senior Scientist leaving Pfizer, but wanted to continue working in academia and asked if its possible to continue accessing their archive, but licensing makes it impossible, so a retiree that we want to keep working as a society is restricted from doing so. This is why Open Access matters.' (PS: Liggett's presentation is not itself online, at least so far.)

More on orphan works

Katie Dean, Copyright Reform to Free Orphans? Wired News, April 12, 2005. An overview of the problem of orphan works in U.S. copyright law and some of the solutions recently suggested to the U.S. Copyright Office.

OA can improve access to medicine

Jennifer Borden, An Interview with author, Jennifer Washburn, CorpWatch, April 11, 2005. Jennifer Washburn is the author of University, Inc. Quoting Washburn: 'Yale University exclusively licensed publicly funded research that developed the AIDS drug, D4T, to Bristol-Myers. Later, students at Yale, together with Doctors Without Borders, tried to expose the fact that the university was actually profiting off of this patent, while the drug was too expensive for the vast majority of people who suffer from AIDS throughout Africa and the world. If universities were more focused on protecting the public domain and insuring broad access to their research, this would not have happened.'

Maryland OA forum webcast

If you missed the University of Maryland forum, Ownership and Access in Scholarly Publishing on April 6, 2005, the webcast is available for viewing. The forum is three and a half hours long.

More on open-source biology

BioModels is a new initiative in open-source biology using Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML). From the BioModels web site: 'For computational modeling to become more widely used in biological research, researchers must be able to exchange and share their results. The development and broad acceptance of common model representation formats such as SBML is a crucial step in that direction, allowing researchers to exchange and build upon each other's work with greater ease and accuracy. The project is another step: an international effort to (1) define agreed-upon standards for model curation, (2) define agreed-upon vocabularies for annotating models with connections to biological data resources, and (3) provide a free, centralized, publicly-accessible database of annotated, computational models in SBML and other structured formats.' BioModels is co-sponsored by the European Bioinformatics Institute (in the UK), the Keck Graduate Institute (in the US), the Systems Biology Institute (in Japan), and Stellenbosch University (in South Africa).

From the SBML site: 'Advances in biotechnology are leading to larger, more complex quantitative models. The systems biology community needs information standards if models are to be shared, evaluated and developed cooperatively. SBML's widespread adoption offers many benefits, including: (1) enabling the use of multiple tools without rewriting models for each tool, (2) enabling models to be shared and published in a form other researchers can use even in a different software environment, and (3) ensuring the survival of models (and the intellectual effort put into them) beyond the lifetime of the software used to create them.'

The PLoS Community Journals

Patterson M, MacCallum C, Parthasarathy H, Sedwick C (2005), The PLoS Community Journals. PLoS Biol 3(4): e129. An Editorial. Excerpt: "... our relationship with the PLoS community journals is one of strict editorial independence. There is some overlap of membership on the editorial boards of PLoS Biology and the community journals, reflecting a level of dedication to open access, but as with all scientists who serve on multiple editorial boards and reviewers who review for multiple journals, these individuals are governed by confidentiality. That said, if an author would like a manuscript that has been turned down by one journal to be passed on to another, along with the reviewers' reports and their identities, we are happy to cooperate, subject to the permission of the reviewers. This can help to expedite the review process, saving time for authors, editors, and reviewers."

Monday, April 11, 2005

More on OA theses in the UK

Mark Chillingworth, Consortium to deliver electronic theses, World Information Review, April 11, 2005. Excerpt: 'JISC, the Joint Information Systems Committee, is funding the development of an electronic resource that will provide access to academic theses. In collaboration with the British Library and the Consortium of Research Libraries in the British Isles (CURL), Electronic Theses Online will be available in 12 months time. Electronic Theses Online will provide electronic access to full-text theses and details of electronic institutional theses repositories. The central repository is being developed by the British Library. The partners are developing a web interface that will provide cross searching of theses and will protect the intellectual property rights of the theses authors.'

Call for OA archives in archaeology and history

Alun Salt, Isn't Arxiv Wonderful? April 10, 2005. A blog posting calling for OA repositories like arXiv in archaeology and history. Excerpt: 'My guess is that Arxiv exists because Physicists are likely to be able to scoop each other with their work. Also their work can absolutely be built upon for future work. Much Ancient History and Archaeology is art. It's improved by wider reading, but I don't need to have read the latest pomo theory to work on my own projects. Further technophobia is an endearing character quirk in the Arts rather than a sign of academic incompetence. I don't think it's a long term problem. Researchers who are more interested in spreading their ideas than supporting established structures will have greater influence on successive generations and there will be a move to open access publishing, because researchers who ignore it will be ignored.'

Copyright and self-archiving

Anita S. Coleman and Cheryl Knott Malone, Copyright Transfer Agreements and Self-Archiving, a conference hand-out. Abstract: 'Concerns about intellectual property rights are a significant barrier to the practice of scholarly self-archiving in institutional and other types of digital repositories. This introductory level, half-day tutorial will demystify the journal copyright transfer agreements (CTAs) that often are the source of these rights concerns of scholars. In addition, participants will be introduced to the deposit processes of self-archiving in an interdisciplinary repository and open access archive (OAA), such as DLIST, Digital Library for Information Science and Technology. Editor's Note: This is a 1-page summary of the tutorial at the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL '05), June 7, 2005, Denver, Colorado. It does not include the actual tutorial. Contents: Introduction, Learning Outcomes, Topics to be covered, About the Presenters, and References.'

More TA skepticism of OA journal peer review

Randy Dotinga, Open-Access Journals Flourish, Wired News, April 11, 2005. Excerpt: 'But if the researchers pay, doesn't it turn journals into servants to authors, like the vanity-press publishers who publish anything for the right price? "In our capitalist society, one of our basic tenets is who pays the fiddler calls the tune," said Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, editor in chief of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, at the national meeting of the Association of Health Care Journalists in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on April 1. It's possible, Drazen said, that an open-access journal would find itself in deep financial trouble and loosen its standards about the papers it accepts. The researchers, possibly from drug companies, will be "more likely to get their paper published because they can afford to get their paper published, and that's exactly the wrong reason."...As for the vanity-press charge, [Gavin] Yamey [senior editor at PLOS Medicine] said his company makes exceptions for authors who can't pay. Editors aren't in the loop on those decisions, however, "so that cannot influence our decisions on which papers to publish."'

(PS: Dotinga gives a lot of space to the objection that OA journals corrupt peer review and very little space to the PLoS rebuttal. There's a lot more that can be said to answer this canard, apart from the fact that only 47% of OA journals even charge author-side fees.)

Update. Wired has published two short letters to the editor on Dotinga's article, one from Patrick Cates and one from Stevan Harnad. Both correct misimpressions left by Dotinga and strengthen the case for OA.

New software for OAI-compliant archives

Symposia is new software from Innovative Interfaces for creating and maintaining OAI-compliant repositories. From the March 31 press release: 'Innovative Interfaces announced today its plans to offer a full-featured institutional repository system. Called Symposia, this Open Archives Initiative (OAI)-compliant solution provides all that a community needs to collect, manage, and promote its knowledge assets more effectively than ever before. "Institutional repositories offer libraries an opportunity to lead their communities in yet one more critical area," says Innovative's Chairman and CEO Jerry Kline. "Librarians are ideally positioned to create and maintain repositories and we are actively working with libraries to ensure that Symposia meets their needs in this exciting new arena."...Innovative's product will support content creators, such as academic faculty or public officials that desire to or are mandated to make their work available to the widest group possible. It will also help library professionals embrace a new opportunity for community engagement. Symposia is designed specifically for users involved in day-to-day knowledge management—the actual creators, managers and consumers of this content—rather than exclusively for IT specialists. Content creators will find that Symposia allows them to submit both "born-digital" and converted documents such as word-processing files, scans, image files, webpages, and more to the repository with the same ease as sending email....Symposia will include an efficient form for Web-based submission of material and an elegant searching tool for public access. Library staff will benefit from a Java-based client for effective management of repository metadata. Metadata will be stored in XML and will be made available for harvesting via the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting as a data provider. This will facilitate indexing by search engine crawlers and harvesting by other information managers worldwide. The repository will also harness other established and sophisticated metadata schema: Qualified Dublin Core and METS (Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard).' (PS: Symposia is still forthcoming and doesn't yet have a web page.)

More on OA to books

A new Slashdot thread is collecting links to individual OA books and collections of OA books. An unsigned posting to Science Library Pad adds a few more links.

Choosing OA and getting tenure too

Trebor Scholz, Interview with Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito, Institute for Distributed Creativity, April 2, 2005. Excerpt (quoting Ippolito): 'A new initiative we are working on, the Maine Intellectual Commons, is exploring this question. One of our University of Maine colleagues, Harlan Onsrud, has recommended re-writing the tenure review criteria to favor open access publications over pay-for-access journals....Prioritizing open access publications is a hard thing to push through a university, however, because of all the bureaucratic hoops you have to negotiate, from the administration to the faculty senate to the unions. So Harlan suggested the short-term goal of simply re-writing the forms on which people submit their tenure applications. The top slots would be filled with open access categories. This would essentially not change the criteria but would make professors think twice when they realize that they do not have anything in these first four slots for open access books or articles.'

Another journal response to the NIH policy

Mike Rossner, The NIH policy on enhancing public access to publications resulting from NIH-funded research : Can we streamline the process for our authors? Journal of Cell Biology, March 28, 2005. Excerpt: 'We are strongly in favor of the establishment of an archive of NIH-funded research; in fact, we would prefer to see a truly complete, electronic archive of all the scientific literature established, with limited access controls that allow publishers to recoup their costs. This is where we believe the NLM should direct their efforts. To ensure that the final, published version of a paper is what is included in such an archive, we are willing to give the NLM all of our content as pdf files. This would prevent any problems of quality control related to html interpretation across platforms. We have been told by the NLM, however, that they want our complete html content, because they want to build a full-text search engine. It is a useless duplication of effort for the NLM to host html (or SGML, or XML, or whatever comes next) simply for the purpose of full-text searching --Google and other search engines are currently indexing our full text, and already far more users arrive at our content via Google than via PubMed. If, despite the duplication, the NLM goes ahead and develops a full-text search engine, we have offered to allow them to index our text by crawling our website. In addition, the text content of pdf files can be indexed for searching, which is how full-text searches of our content from before 1997 are done on our website. The current NIH policy is a misguided attempt to achieve laudable goals. We hope they can be convinced to reconsider how to achieve those goals.'

Richard Poynder interviews Alma Swan, Part 2

Richard Poynder, Roller Coaster Ride, Open and Shut, April 10, 2005. Part 2 of Richard's interview with Alma Swan. (See Part 1.) Excerpt:
RP: Which, in your view, is the optimal way of providing OA: green or gold?

AS: You ask this as though it's an either/or situation, yet both methods co-exist at the moment, both are growing, and both have their place. For instance, some journals have already converted to gold, some are in transition, and there are now plenty of born-gold journals. But it will not be possible to successfully convert all existing journals to a gold model, at least not without major disruptions to the businesses of some publishers, and not in a hurry. For this reason alone the Green Road is also important. [...]

RP: What does 14 years of arXiv tell us about the impact of self-archiving on traditional journals? Can the two things co-exist?

AS: It appears so. I asked both APS and IoPP what their experiences have been in carrying out their business activities alongside this massively successful example of a self-archiving repository. They both said that they had not noticed any greater downturn in subscriptions to those journals that cover the same sort of physics as arXiv than for any of their journals covering other areas of physics. [...]

RP: How do mean: minimal? [AS had just said, "governments should only get involved in the most minimal way."]

AS: I mean that if research is funded by a government (i.e. the public) then that government has the right and duty to make sure the results from it are available to all. Governments shouldn't have any role, however, in dictating how commercial publishers operate in a free market economy. And neither party needs to start interfering with a researcher's right to choose which journal they publish in. [...]

RP: My final question then: Reed Elsevier's CEO Sir Crispin Davis implied — if not directly stated — in The Guardian recently that the simple answer to solving the scholarly communication crisis is for governments just to pump more money into libraries? Does he have a point?

AS: No.

OA resolutions at the U of North Carolina

On March 4, 2005, the University of North Carolina Faculty Council adopted two resolutions in support of open access. Here they are in their entirety.

Resolution 2005-7. On Faculty Ownership of Research. Be it resolved that, to the extent permitted by law, UNC-CH faculty are the owners of their research and should retain ownership, or use other means to foster open access publication wherever possible.

Resolution 2005-8. On Scholarly Communications. Be it resolved that the Faculty Council encourage the Provost to:

  1. create a task force on scholarly communications to continue the work of the Scholarly Communications Convocation and to report back on the issues, problems and an on-going mechanism to propose and implement solutions,
  2. create a task force on establishing an institutional repository to determine the feasibility of such and to outline potential contents, indexing, etc.,
  3. work with department chairs to review tenure and promotion standards to recognize publishing in non-traditional sources, and
  4. urge department chairs to discuss the problems in scholarly communications with their faculties.

Some of the Faculty Council discussion of the resolutions is included in the minutes of the March 4 meeting. Excerpt: 'Prof. Laura Gasaway (Law) reported on the Scholarly Communications Convocation that took place at the Friday Center, January 27-28, 2005. She said that the planning committee’s report (attached to these Minutes) [PS: not yet online] is preliminary; the committee intends to prepare a full, comprehensive report that should be ready in April. She said that is likely that the full report will contain recommendations in addition to those included in the preliminary report. Prof. Gasaway singled out for special praise the disciplinary white papers that were presented at the Convocation by Professors Robert Peet (Biology), Frank Dominguez (Romance Languages), Jack Snoeyink (Computer Science), James Peacock (Anthropology), and Jocelyn Neal (Music). She said that papers of this nature have not been done elsewhere in American higher education....Prof. Richard Weinberg (Cell & Developmental Biology) said...that he could not imagine why his work, which had been supported by federal funding, should become the property of a privately-owned journal.'

Gap in the blog's coverage

When technical problems with Blogger stopped me from uploading new postings to Open Access News, and when I couldn't wait any longer for a fix, I sent two emails of OA news to the SPARC Open Access Forum, one on the evening of April 10 and one on the morning of April 11. Please see those emails to catch up on what you've missed. If I have time in the coming hours or days, I'll re-blog the important items from them.

Update. I've now re-blogged the major news stories from the two SOAF postings.

OA at the University of North Carolina

Greg Steen, Faculty touts online journals, The Daily Tar Heel, April 11, 2005. Excerpt: 'The UNC Faculty Council recently passed a resolution asking professors to publish their research in open-access journals that offer articles free of charge, another unique spawn of online innovation. By doing so, researchers say, they would save money and win back the rights to their own work. "You don’t have to be a Marxist to figure out that the workers are getting screwed," said Paul Jones, a clinical professor in the schools of Information and Library Science and Journalism and Mass Communication. "If I was a publisher and I could say it with a straight face, I would say I add value at every step." A paper written by Sarah Michalak, head University librarian, and Research and Special Projects Librarian Judith Panitch states that the cost of physics journals has risen 36 percent in the last five years to an average cost of $2,543 per subscription. Such numbers make Jones a proponent of open-access publishing. He said he hopes it will force the major journals to be more reasonable in their pricing. In addition, most traditional publications require researchers to give up the rights to their work, in effect preventing their universities from using the work without paying royalties. The Faculty Council passed two resolutions March 4 that show its intentions to circumvent traditional avenues of research publication. The resolutions call for professors to publish in open-access journals whenever possible and to form a task force to study the issue.' (PS: I'll try to blog the Faculty Council resolutions shortly.)

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Blogger is working again, sporadically. Since Friday, April 8, however, I've been almost entirely unable to update Open Access News. In fact, on Friday I was unable to finish uploading the previous version of the file, so that for about a day OAN was fragmented as well as frozen. On Saturday it was simply frozen. I apologize for the poor service. These problems occur now and then but rarely for more than a couple of hours. This has been the longest downtime since I launched the blog in June 2002.

The problems seem to lie with Blogger itself. It's possible that the ultimate problem at Blogger didn't last as long as my total downtime, but the rush of Blogger-bloggers trying to catch up afterwards caused my FTP sessions to time out again and again.

As glitches recur, I'll post messages to the SPARC Open Access Forum about the problems and any progress in solving them. See Friday's message, for example. The Blogger problems have already lasted long enough that I've had to send news items to SOAF that I would normally have posted to the blog. (Read SOAF, subscribe to SOAF.)

My conference page is unaffected and up to date.

I hate to write housekeeping notes when I could be writing about OA instead. But I hate unexpected and unexplained downtime even more. If you visited OAN during its frozen state, thanks for coming back.