Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 23, 2005

ALPSP presentations

The presentations from the ALPSP meeting, The Web and after: the future of scholarly e-publishing (London, April 8, 2005), are now online. (Thanks to Colin Steele.)

Open source for software, knowledge, and beyond

Geoff Mulgan, Omar Salem, and Tom Steinberg, Wide Open: Open source methods and their future potential, DEMOS, 2005. A book available in an OA edition and a priced, printed edition. From the blurb: 'The rise of the Internet has made it possible for knowledge to be created and shared in ways that emphasise its character as a common good, rather than as something to be owned....This open and collaborative approach to creating knowledge has produced remarkable results, such as the Linux operating system and the web-based encyclopaedia Wikipedia. In defiance of the conventional wisdom of modern business, open source methods have led the main underlying innovations around the Internet....From the formulation of public policy to more open forms of academic peer review, setting up mutual support groups for people facing similar health problems to collaborative forms of social innovation, the principles of open source promise to radically alter the we approach complex social problems....Just as it is now impossible to think about getting things done without considering the role of the Internet, so will it soon be impossible to think about how to solve a large social problem without considering the role of open methods.' (Thanks to Matt Cockerill.)

More on OA to data

Peter Murray-Rust, Open Data! A PPT presentation from the JISC Annual Meeting, April 12, 2005. A plea for OA to scientific data. Most data are not published along with the articles summarizing or analyzing them, and when they are, they are published in forms more useful for human scanning than machine processing. Scientists can and ought to change this by depositing their data files in OA repositories.

More on the Santorum bill

Sen. Rick Santorum's bill to stop the U.S. National Weather Service from providing open access to publicly-funded weather data is called the National Weather Services Duties Act of 2005 (S.786). The Carpetbagger Report notes that AccuWeather, one of the private, for-profit weather forecasters actively lobbying for the bill, is based in Santorum's state of Pennsylvania. Ed Bott has discovered that the family of Joel Myers, founder and President of AccuWeather, has donated money to Sen. Santorum.

The knowledge divide is more urgent than the digital divide

K. Oanh Ha, Developing world needs knowledge more than hardware, speakers say,, April 223, 2005. Excerpt: 'Is the digital divide dead? Yes, concluded speakers at a Santa Clara University symposium Thursday where participants agreed that throwing computers at the developing world isn't the answer to global inequity. What's really needed is a bridge to close the knowledge divide, according to the speakers....Speakers at the event, attended by about 200, talked about the importance of creating a "digital commons" -- a public, online space for knowledge that would help alleviate social and economic problems in poor countries, as well as inequities between the developed and developing worlds. Some said it was time to rethink intellectual property laws that often prevent poor countries from tapping into useful innovations and technology. "We should recognize that intellectual property rights are competing with basic human rights," said Raoul Weiler, head of a European think tank.'

The future of journal publishing, esp. in physics

Michael E. Peskin, Publication and the Internet: Where Next? APS News, April 2005. Excerpt: 'I believe, then, that the new technologies have enabled a change in the way physicists publish that is more profound than simply making journals available on-line. If we use these technologies wisely, we can shift to authors many of the responsibilities now managed by journals. We must, at the same time, identify the irreducible part of the journals' task that requires a professional staff, and a means to pay for their service. In this way, we can remake the literature in a way that improves its accessibility and allows it to grow to accommodate the future development of science.' (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

Does OA need DRM?

Richard Poynder, The role of digital rights management in Open Access, Indicare, April 22, 2005. Also available on Richard's blog. Abstract: 'Growing conviction that scientific progress will significantly benefit if scholarly articles and research papers are made freely available on the Web has given rise to the Open Access (OA) movement. While there is some awareness that OA articles may require digital rights management (DRM), there is currently only low-level interest in the topic, with many OA advocates maintaining that it has no relevance to OA. The issue is complicated by the fact that there are currently two ways in which research papers are made OA, each of which has different implications from a rights point of view.'

From the body of the article: 'Given the...struggle simply to make Open Access happen many OA advocates argue that worrying about DRM today could prove a distraction from the more important task of "freeing the refereed literature." Since many also view DRM as synonymous with the use of "technical measures" designed to restrict access, rather than as a broad set of tools for managing rights in a digital environment, there is a tendency to see DRM as an issue for proprietary interests alone. The danger is, however, that if the OA movement fails to engage with the topic those proprietary interests may set the DRM agenda, to the possible detriment of OA. Nevertheless, some preliminary work on DRM is being done by the OA movement, and the growing success of the Creative Commons (cf. sources) may encourage OA advocates to take a greater interest in the topic....What [the] narrow view of DRM overlooks, however, is that digital rights management implies something broader than access control alone. It can also be used, for instance, to ensure correct author attribution, to certify document integrity and provenance, to prevent plagiarism, and indeed to enable creators assert their rights in ways that encourage – rather than restrict – access.'

Friday, April 22, 2005

Santorum wants to end OA to publicly-funded weather data

Robert P. King, Feds' weather information could go dark, Palm Beach Post, April 21, 2005. Excerpt: 'Do you want a seven-day weather forecast for your ZIP code? Or hour-by-hour predictions of the temperature, wind speed, humidity and chance of rain? Or weather data beamed to your cellphone? That information is available for free from the National Weather Service. But under a bill pending in the U.S. Senate, it might all disappear. The bill, introduced last week by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., would prohibit federal meteorologists from competing with companies such as AccuWeather and The Weather Channel, which offer their own forecasts through paid services and free ad-supported Web sites. Supporters say the bill wouldn't hamper the weather service or the National Hurricane Center from alerting the public to hazards - in fact, it exempts forecasts meant to protect "life and property." But critics say the bill's wording is so vague they can't tell exactly what it would ban. "I believe I've paid for that data once. ... I don't want to have to pay for it again," said Scott Bradner, a technical consultant at Harvard University. He says that as he reads the bill, a vast amount of federal weather data would be forced offline. "The National Weather Service Web site would have to go away," Bradner said. "What would be permitted under this bill is not clear - it doesn't say. Even including hurricanes." ' (Thanks to Alex Curtis.)

(PS: The argument used by Santorum --that government shouldn't compete with private-sector companies-- has been used against OA to research literature as well. If the private-sector companies are not repackaging and reselling publicly-funded resources, then this argument might be taken seriously. But when they charge customers for something already paid by the customers' taxes, then the argument collapses. For example, if the private weather companies collected the same data at their own expense, then it might be wasteful duplication for the government to do so as well. But if the companies want to use publicly-funded data, then their request to be the sole distributors is simply the request to rip off the public. Governments have an obligation to prevent that from happening, not an obligation to step back and let it happen.)

JISC briefing paper on OA

Alma Swan, Open Access, a JISC briefing paper, April 1, 2005. Also available in PDF. Excerpt: 'The Open Access research literature is composed of free, online copies of peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers as well as technical reports, theses and working papers. In most cases there are no licensing restrictions on their use by readers. They can therefore be used freely for research, teaching and other purposes....There are various misunderstandings about Open Access. It is not self-publishing, nor a way to bypass peer-review and publication, nor is it a kind of second-class, cut-price publishing route. It is simply a means to make research results freely available online to the whole research community....Open Access can be provided by various means. A researcher can place a copy of each article in an Open Access archive or repository or can publish articles in Open Access journals. In addition, a researcher may place a copy of each article on a personal or departmental website. Whilst all three routes to Open Access ensure that far more users can access such articles than if they were hidden away in subscription-based journals, the first two constitute much more systematic and organised approaches than the third and maximise the chance of other researchers locating and reading articles....There is accumulating evidence that shows that research articles that have been self-archived are cited more often than those that have not. Across most subject areas there is at least a twofold increase in citation rate. In some subject areas it is even higher. Moreover, the research cycle – where work is published, read, cited and then built upon by other researchers – is enhanced and accelerated when results are available on an Open Access basis. Would you not prefer to be able to access all the articles you need to read and use for your research, easily and without restriction?' (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)

(PS: This would make an excellent handout for faculty or administrators who need a primer.)

3 new journals from BioMed Central

BioMed Central released three new independent, Open Access journals this week, bringing the tally to 69 titles.

Chiropractic & Osteopathy - Fulltext v13+ (2005+). Continues Australasian Chiropractic & Osteopathy; ISSN: 1746-1340.

Behavioral and Brain Functions - Fulltext v1+ (2005+); ISSN: 1744-9081.

Globalization and Health - Fulltext v1+ (2005+); ISSN: 1744-8603.

Development agenda, hence a2k, back on track

I've tried to blog developments on the Access to Knowledge Treaty (a2k treaty) as they occur. However, I made a series of recent exceptions that you should know about. The a2k treaty is part of the larger Development Agenda proposed by 14 member nations to WIPO. For several months the entire development agenda has been stalled by opposition within WIPO and the details were too voluminous, complex, and unrelated to OA for me to blog. But I'm happy to say that the development agenda is moving forward again and that Art Brodsky has written a very clear account of the brouhaha for the Public Knowledge newsletter, In The Know. If you haven't been following the details, it's the best way to catch up. Thanks, Art.

Copyright stupidity

James Boyle, Deconstructing stupidity, Financial Times, April 21, 2005. Excerpt: 'Thomas Macaulay told us copyright law is a tax on readers for the benefit of writers, a tax that shouldn’t last a day longer than necessary. What do we do? We extend the copyright term repeatedly on both sides of the Atlantic. The US goes from fourteen years to the author’s life plus seventy years. We extend protection retrospectively to dead authors, perhaps in the hope they will write from their tombs. Since only about 4 per cent of copyrighted works more than 20 years old are commercially available, this locks up 96 per cent of 20th century culture to benefit 4 per cent. The harm to the public is huge, the benefit to authors, tiny. In any other field, the officials responsible would be fired. Not here. It is as if we had signed an international stupidity pact, one that required us to ignore the evidence, to hand out new rights without asking for the simplest assessment of need. If the stakes were trivial, no one would care. But intellectual property (IP) is important. These are the ground rules of the information society. Mistakes hurt us. They have costs to free speech, competition, innovation, and science....There are economic interests on both sides. The film and music industries are tiny compared the consumer electronics industry. Yet copyright law dances to the tune played by the former, not the latter. Open source software is big business. But the international IP bureaucracies seem to view it as godless communism. If money talks, why can decision-makers only hear one side of the conversation? Corporate capture can only be part of the explanation. Something more is needed. We need to deconstruct the culture of IP stupidity, to understand it so we can change it.' The rest of the article points to three specific causes, beyond corporate capture, of our copyright policy blunders.

New OA journal for medievalists

Digital Medievalist is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal published by the University of Lethbridge and 'devoted to the use of digital tools and media in the study of medieval culture.' Its inaugural issue appeared this month. Apparently DM charges no author-side fees. (Thanks to Ross Scaife.)

Measuring the impact of OA journals

Alastair G. Smith, Citations and Links as a Measure of Effectiveness of Online LIS Journals, IFLA Journal, 31, 1 (2005), pp. 76-84. Excerpt: 'What lessons does this study have for users and publishers of LIS open access e-journals? First, e-journals in LIS are becoming a significant body of literature, as evidenced by the fact that they appear in significant numbers in ISI’s citation count, if not yet in the formal Journal Citation Reports. This means that authors can be confident that by publishing in e-journals, their work will be recognized and cited in mainstream literature. Second, analysis of links made to e-journals indicates that a majority are to article content, indicating that links are performing some of the functions of conventional citations. This indicates a maturing of e-journals as a medium. Third, e-journal publishers need to be aware of different measures of effectiveness. The Web provides a greater range of measures than are available in the print environment. As well as measures such as the Journal Impact Factor, based on conventional citations, measures based on numbers of links, such as Web Impact Factor, are available. It must be appreciated, however, that these are measuring different features than the conventional citation count. Further research needs to be conducted to evolve new measures.'

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Rick Johnson steps down at SPARC

Rick Johnson, founding Executive Director of SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), will step down on July 1, 2005. His successor will be Heather Joseph, founding President and CEO of BioOne. From today's press release: '"Rick's leadership of SPARC was crucial in making libraries an important force in the process of transforming scholarly communication," said ARL Executive Director Duane Webster. "The news that Rick is leaving is tempered, however by having someone of Heather Joseph's caliber and experience assume this critical role...." Joseph held a number of senior positions with publishing organizations in both the non-profit and commercial sectors before signing on to help launch BioOne in 2000. BioOne is a groundbreaking collaboration among scientific societies, libraries, academe and the commercial sector that works to transform the scholarly communication process by providing expanded access to scientific research results...."I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to an organization deeply committed to expanding access to information," said Joseph. "I look forward to the challenge of building on the strong foundation that Rick has built, and working to advance SPARC's important and ambitious agenda." SPARC Steering Committee Chair, James Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University, also expressed his deep admiration for Johnson's accomplishments at SPARC and for ARL's decision to move quickly with Joseph's appointment. "Rick Johnson is a dedicated and heroic champion for open access. The power of his leadership is nowhere more apparent than in the success he had in orchestrating a broad community of support for the NIH public access policy. Heather Joseph is a stellar choice to assume the leadership of SPARC. Her commitment to barrier-free access combined with her experience in scientific publishing make for a perfect leader to address the challenges presented by the transformation of scholarly communication." "Developing and running SPARC has been the opportunity of a lifetime," said Johnson." I'm grateful for the support libraries have given me and I'm proud of the progress we've achieved together. After seven years at the helm, it's time to catch my breath and make way for new leadership and fresh perspectives. I expect to do some consulting and travel and to spend more time with my family. Nonetheless, I remain energized by the issues SPARC is addressing, so I plan to explore new ways of contributing."'

(PS: The OA movement, especially in the US and Europe, has benefitted enormously from Rick's talents at coalition building, organization, and strategic thinking. He'll be missed in his role at SPARC, but fortunately he'll still be working for OA in new ways. Heather Joseph is a superb choice to take over at SPARC. Disclosure: SPARC publishes my newsletter, an arrangement that will not be affected by this transition.)

Plutchak notes on the Allen Press OA seminar

T. Scott Plutchak has written some notes on the Allen Press Seminar (Washington, D.C., April 13, 2005), which was devoted to OA this year. Excerpt from his notes: 'The most interesting day was the Allen Press Seminar in DC, primarily because of the nature of the audience. I heard Guy say that there were over 150 registrants, and I suspect less than half a dozen of them were librarians....Not unexpectedly, there was a certain amount of hostility from this audience to the NIH plan -- Betsy handled it extremely well. But there was also much more support for open access options among the group than I might have expected. It is very clear that even those publishers who wish they'd never heard the phrase were seeing the writing on the wall and looking harder at different economic models than they would have if they hadn't been pushed in that direction.'

Upcoming launch of DARE's Cream of Science

The Dutch DARE program will launch its Cream of Science (Keurderwetenschap) project on May 10. From the web site: 'The [Cream of Science] will give access to the complete oeuvre of prominent scholars: at least ten of each of the fifteen Dutch university and KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) and NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research). Cream of Science will be the showcase of some of Netherlands's prominent research via DAREnet. Cream of Science is a highlight of the DARE (Digital Academic Repositories) programme. This project will add 25.000 records (mostly full text available) to the academic research output already available through DAREnet. Unfortunately not all publications of these prominent scholars are free accessible. Many publishers do not allow for their publications to be stored in local repositories, enabling them to be available on the internet for everyone. Many of these publications are either author versions or they are hidden behind toll gates and only expensive licenses will give access to them.' (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Launch of Israeli repository

Israel Scholar launched today Israel Scholar Works, an OA repository. Quoting from the site: 'Israel Scholar Works is a digital archive for creative work by the faculty and staff of Israel Academic Institutions and Jewish scholars all around the world. Israel Scholar Works aims to unite Israel and Jewish scholarship, to make it available to a wider audience, and to help assure its long-term preservation....Current scholar publishing models are not economically sound and do not serve the public interest. Academic researchers, faculty and students all over the world have access to a decreasing fraction of relevant scholarship. But new software tools and technologies are being developed, tested and implemented. Israel Scholar has the tools to make Israel Scholarship dissemination quick and efficient. Authors can easily submit necessary information and generate cataloging data using a web-based form from any Internet connection.' For more details, see the auxiliary page, Getting Ready To Archive Your Works. (Thanks to Alexei Koudinov.)

John Willinsky's book on OA coming in December

John Willinsky's book, The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship, will be published by MIT Press in December 2005. From the MIT blurb: 'A commitment to scholarly work, writes Willinsky, carries with it a responsibility to circulate that work as widely as possible: this is the access principle. In the digital age, that responsibility includes exploring new publishing technologies and economic models to improve access to scholarly work. Wide circulation adds value to published work; it is a significant aspect of its claim to be knowledge. The right to know and the right to be known are inextricably mixed. Open access, argues Willinsky, can benefit both a researcher-author working the best-equipped lab at a leading research university and a teacher struggling to find resources in an impoverished high school. Willinsky describes different types of access -- the New England Journal of Medicine, for example, grants open access to issues six months after initial publication, and First Monday forgoes a print edition and makes its contents immediately accessible at no cost. He discusses the contradictions of copyright law, the reading of research, and the economic viability of open access. He also considers broader themes of public access to knowledge, human rights issues, lessons from publishing history, and "epistemological vanities." The debate over open access, writes Willinsky, raises crucial questions about the place of scholarly work in a larger world -- and about the future of knowledge.' (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

More publisher alarm at Google Print

Philip Jones, Bloomsbury Exec Warns Against Google Print, The Book Standard, April 20, 2005. Excerpt: 'Bloomsbury chief executive Nigel Newton has warned UK publishers to beware the blandishments of Internet search engine Google. Newton argued that the project to digitize books and allow the content to be searched on Google could lead to the "Napsterization" of the publishing industry. The comment preceded a presentation of the Google Print project at the PA's annual general meeting, held today (April 19) in London. Newton said that he was "surprised" that a commercial organization such as Google had been invited to address the audience of PA members, which included representatives from all of the UK's major publishers. He warned: "We are being given an opportunity to undermine our industry. It may not seem inherently scary at the moment. But my concern is what this will lead to in 10 years. We are opening a Pandora's Box, and we have no idea where it will lead. We just don't know, once they have this material, what they will do with it." Tom Turvey, strategic partner development for Google, who has been marketing the Google Print project to publishers in the UK over the past few weeks, said that it was not in the business of upsetting its publisher partners. "The contracts are very specific about what we are allowed to do and not do. We have zero interest in riding roughshod over publishers who have signed up for the program. If it's not working, publishers can pull the books from the site." He stressed that Google had security in place to respect international copyright restrictions, and to prevent users from downloading the full text.'

More on OA to data

Geoffrey C. Bowker, On the Web, everything except sharing, Mercury News, April 21, 2005. Excerpt: 'Creating a digital commmons for data would help us tackle global problems....Take a problem like climate change: a problem hitting close to home this year, with floods as far south as San Diego and a sunny California winter in Seattle. It would be great if we could all just share our data and work out whether this global issue called for global management. However, the global community has a conflicting and confusing array of policies around data sharing. The European Directive on Databases recognizes producers of databases as adding creative content, which means that even if the underlying data is freely available, use of the database can be restricted to those who are willing and able to pay the access fee. So if an organization in the Bay Area wants to answer that climate change question, they had best be prepared to ante up. We need to be able to share our knowledge, wisdom and insights. We need a digital commons, which can bring together accessible data, technology to use it and an institutional framework for deploying it to best advantage. There is no simple market fix here: Markets don't think very well in 20- to 200-year time frames -- just the frames we need to be thinking in to address our urgent global problems. A digital commons, properly designed, can be a key tool for the protection of our great common heritage: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat.'

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New OA journal on sustainability

Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal published by a unique public/private partnership among the NBII (National Biological Information Infrastructure, a division of the U.S. Geological Survey), CSA (formerly Cambridge Scientific Abstracts), and CI (Conservation International). From the web site: 'Sustainability will facilitate communication among scientists, practitioners, and policy makers who are investigating and shaping nature-society interactions and working towards sustainable solutions....Author Fees [are] $1500 for accepted articles. These fees are currently being waived for authors, and are now paid for through the generous support of the NBII.'

From E.O. Wilson's editorial in the inaugural issue: 'The goal of the publication — to establish a forum for cross-disciplinary discussion of natural and social sciences, practices, and policies related to sustainability — is an important step toward creating achievable sustainable practices through buy-in and consensus....One way or the other, open access (which is not the same as free access) to scientific resources is inevitable. No doubt, it will take many years for institutions, publishers, librarians, authors, users (a.k.a., readers), and others to adjust to the new routes and costs of retrieving the information they need. Open access will certainly make all those involved in the production, distribution, and consumption of science more aware of how interdependent they are. Sustainability will play a central role in defining these components of community structure by presenting clearly written, robustly linked, and well-argued cross-disciplinary science in an open access forum.'

Update. Also see the CSA press release on the launch (April 22, 2005).

RCUK announces forthcoming OA policy

The Research Councils UK (RCUK) have publicly announced that they have agreed on an OA policy but are not yet ready to make the policy itself public. Here's the entirety of yesterday's announcement: 'RCUK has agreed [on] a position statement on access to and dissemination of the outputs of research funded by the Research Councils. This information was circulated to Vice-Chancellors in March, to give them an opportunity to comment before the document is finalised. RCUK expect to formally release the statement in its definitive form in mid-May 2005.'

Jan Velterop is leaving BioMed Central

Here's today's press release from BMC in its entirety: 'Jan Velterop, Director and Publisher of BioMed Central, will be leaving to pursue independently his many engagements as an advocate of Open Access to societies, funding institutions and publishers. Jan has been a key figure in the development of the Open Access model and its acceptance by the research community, and will now be extending his expertise to other organizations and interest groups. Matthew Cockerill and Anne Greenwood will take joint responsibility for publishing and other activities of BioMed Central as the business continues its rapid growth. BioMed Central wishes Jan great success for the future and we look forward to continuing to work together to advance the success of Open Access publishing.'

(PS: Jan is one of the true leaders of OA in general and OA journal publishing in particular. We should all be glad that his new line of work will still include OA advocacy.)

Chiropractic and Osteopathy: new BMC OA journal

Chiropractic and Osteopathy is the newest independent, Open Access to be hosted by BioMed Central. Although Chiropractic and Osteopathy is a new journal [see introductory editorial: Bruce F Walker, Simon D French and Melainie Cameron. Chiropractic & Osteopathy. A new journal. Chiropractic & Osteopathy 2005, 13:1 | doi:10.1186/1746-1340-13-1], puzzlingly, the volume numbering is consistently indicated as v13. Chiropractic and Osteopathy - Fulltext v13(?)+ (2005+); ISSN: 1746-1340.

Interview on OA

Peter Suber, OA is not just a technical question about how to finance journals or launch repositories, Libre Accès à l'information scientifique & technique (from INIST-CNRS), April 20, 2005. Eric Goetmann and Marie-Catherine Gunet interviewed me on the state of OA today. The interview was in English but it's also available in French. Excerpt: '[In response to a question about OA in Europe.] The cutting edge of the OA movement is now in Europe. In mid-2004, both the US and UK looked like they might mandate OA to publicly-funded research, a rational and long-overdue step. But by late 2004, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) had retreated from the strong policy recommended by the House of Representatives and the UK government had rejected the strong policies recommended by the House of Commons. In February 2005, however, the Berlin3 conference in Southampton issued exactly the policy we needed to move forward --namely, to require deposit in OA archives and to encourage publication in OA journals. The framers of this policy were largely European and most of the universities, laboratories, and funding agencies now signing on to the policy are European....[In response to a question about filling OA archives.] Too many scholars don't know about OA archiving and its benefits. For example, they may know about OA journals but not OA archives. They may know about OA archives but not realize that it only takes a few minutes to deposit their work. They may not know that OA significantly increases citation impact. They may not know that OA archiving is compatible with publishing in a non-OA journal. They may not know that 80% of surveyed journals allow authors to deposit their postprints in an OA institutional repository. They may have a groundless fear that archiving their preprints will make them ineligible for later publication, when in fact the number of journals with such policies is small and declining. Too many scholars overlook their self-interest and see OA primarily as a political gesture or an act of charity. They need to appreciate that OA will make their work more visible than any kind of priced publication (in print or online), and will make it easier for readers to find, apply, build upon, and cite. Scholars are very busy, but they're not too busy to do research that they love. They're not too busy to take unloved follow-up steps, like submitting their manuscripts to journals, responding to referee comments, sending offprints to colleagues, or sending updated bibliographies to deans or department chairs. They find time for these unloved steps because they understand the connection between them and career-building. What they have to understand is that OA is career-building, whether it is through OA archives or OA journals. Enlarging one's audience and impact is career-building.'

More on postprint archiving at the U of California

Prior to its launch of the eScholarship Postprints program (February 2005), the University of California's Office of Scholarly Communication undertook a Mellon-funded study, Postprint Repository Services: Context and Feasibility at the University of California. The final report was released on March 31. Excerpt from the executive summary: 'A key set of questions appear at the intersection between publisher policies on transferal of copyrights and the knowledge and behavior of authors with regard to their intellectual property. At the center of the intersection is the publicly accessible "postprint" and its standing as a viable additional copy of research results that retains quality control (peer-review) of the published record while overcoming significant barriers to access and impact. In August 2004 the OSC set out with the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to better understand the context for, and to assess the cost, viability, and potential use of a repository for open-access distribution of UC faculty article publications. In particular, it pursued six research objectives that collectively would provide baseline data about: [1] the number and proportion of UC faculty articles that can be made available for simultaneous distribution in an open-access postprint repository; that is, articles that appear in journals whose publishers do not prohibit open-access postprint distribution; [2] faculty attitudes toward managing copyright in their work as a means of enabling its open-access distribution....UC faculty published 3.8% (26,000) of the 680,000 articles in a sample of 4,300 scholarly journals indexed by Thomson Inc.'s ISI services in 2003. 76% of those publications are in journals that do not preclude simultaneous open-access distribution of some form of the research results, for example, via an open-access postprint repository....

Recommendation 1. The University of California should develop and encourage widespread faculty adoption of a postprint repository that leverages the existing infrastructure of and is managed by the University's eScholarship program....
Recommendation 3. The Office of Scholarly Communication should analyze the potential demand for repository services....Further, it should develop and practically assess marketing opportunities to ensure widespread adoption and use of the repository by UC faculty....
Recommendation 5. Widespread faculty acceptance and use of the repository will require the coordinated actions of diverse university constituencies. The Office of Scholarly Communication should be advised by a group able to inform and monitor repository progress, and to mobilize action or influence thinking in those constituencies....
Recommendation 7. The Office of Scholarly Communication should formally document and evaluate the repository's development to provide a route-map for others interested in hosting similar initiatives.' (Thanks to John Ober.)

BioMed Central Update

Biomed Central's current Update includes a heading, What can you do to promote Open Access?. Excerpt: "Peter Suber, editor of the highly popular Open Access News, has produced an excellent, extensive list of practical steps people can take to move Open Access forwards".

The pricing crisis at the U of Minnesota

Cati Vanden Breul, U libraries confront higher journal costs, Minnesota Daily, April 20, 2005. Excerpt: 'In order to provide students and faculty with access to published research, the University subscribes to thousands of scholarly journals, some of which cost up to $20,000 a year per subscription. Because of the increasing cost of these journals, the University has been forced to cancel approximately 2,000 subscriptions in the last two years alone, said Wendy Lougee, director of the University Libraries....Part of the problem, Lougee said, is that publishers are making large profits by charging authors thousands of dollars to print their research and then making the public pay an additional fee to read it....Taxpayers also lose out, because their money funds the research in the first place, but most cannot afford to read the results, Lougee said. For this reason, the National Institutes of Health have encouraged researchers who receive funding through the institutes to make their research accessible to the public online for free in the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central, Lougee said....But publishing online presents a problem for some researchers, because to receive tenure, professors need to be published in prestigious journals, [Stephen] Ekker [professor of genetics] said. "The reality is that when you are a researcher or an educational scholar, your scientific credentials are largely judged by what kind of publications you generate," he said. Ekker said he hopes open-access publications, those freely available to the public, will soon be seen as more credible. Charlotte Tschider, a University of Minnesota graduate student, said researchers should not have to pay journals to print their work. "I don’t think that’s fair," Tschider said.'

(PS: Quick response to Stephen Ekker: You can publish in any prestigious journal that will accept your work and still have OA. If the journal is not itself OA, then you can deposit a copy of your article in an OA repository. Quick response to Charlotte Tschider: You've been hearing the misinformation that OA journals use an "author pays" model. When OA journals charge author-side fees, they are usually paid by the author's funding agency or employer, or waived, not paid by the author out of pocket. And most OA journals don't charge author-side fees at all.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

OA government geo data may be removed from web

James Fallows, An Update on Stuff That's Cool (Like Google's Photo Maps), New York Times, April 17, 2005 (free registration required). After discussing Google's maps and aerial photos, Fallows adds a word on a retrograde U.S. government policy. Excerpt: 'Next up, public access to publicly financed data. Previously I mentioned the Bush administration's admirable decision to let the National Weather Service keep distributing its data on free Web sites, rather than funneling it through commercial services. But now the administration is proposing an enormous step in the opposite direction. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or N.G.A., is the main map-producing office in the Pentagon. Its detailed topographic studies, produced at public expense, have for decades been the basis of many other products; in particular, virtually every chart used by the nation's airlines relies on the agency's data. Citing security concerns and a few other reasons, the administration now proposes to withdraw all of its aeronautical material from public use on Oct. 1. Through June 1, the N.G.A. will accept comments on this proposal at its Web site, Check out its arguments, plus the case for continued openness, made at the press-release portion of, and let the agency hear from you.' (PS: For more details, see my blog posting from February 11, 2005.)

Two venerable OA archives join forces

Today the NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS), the largest OA repository of scientific articles and abstracts in the world, and, the oldest and most-used scientific eprint archive, announced a partnership to offer a joint, customizable current-awareness service. ADS is hosted by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), and arXiv is hosted by Cornell University. From today's press release: 'Sifting through these huge research archives presents an ongoing challenge. In April 2005, ADS and arXiv will join forces to improve the services they offer scientists by implementing three separate customizable Web and e-mail alerts. Now, scientists around the world will be automatically notified when preprints or journal papers relevant to their research field are published. "A researcher essentially can get a customized front page of a newspaper with all the breaking news in their field," said Smithsonian scientist Michael Kurtz (CfA), who originally conceived the ADS system. "You can see who's interested in you and read the latest work by people you're interested in. You also can follow your favorite topics and see which topics are most popular with everyone else." These changes will apply to an existing Web/e-mail notification system called "myADS." This personalized service has been available for about a year, and approximately 20 percent of astronomers use it. The planned upgrade is expected to draw a large influx of physics users as well as more astronomers. "The capabilities of myADS are unique and rather powerful," said Guenther Eichhorn (CfA), ADS project scientist. "We use advanced AI [artificial intelligence] techniques to deliver exactly the information that scientists want and need."..."It's the best thing since two pieces of sliced bread were assembled to make a sandwich," said Paul Ginsparg, Professor of Physics and Information Science at Cornell University. MyADS now will offer three e-mail notifications, containing information on new preprints, astronomy journal papers, and physics journal papers. Preprint notices will be distributed weekly, while astronomy and physics notices will be distributed each time those databases are updated, roughly every two weeks. The same information also will be available via custom web sites for each myADS user.'

Searching corporate contracts

From a Nextance/Oraclce press release (April 5, 2005): 'Nextance Support of Oracle XML Database Gives Visibility into Key Unstructured and Structured Data Found Only in Contractual Agreements. Nextance announced working with Oracle to accelerate the industry's adoption of XML databases as the only technology standard capable of managing the intrinsically complex mix of both structured and unstructured data within contractual agreements -- the cornerstone of all business relationships. The advantages that XML delivers are most pronounced in Enterprise Contract Management solutions, with contracts containing a significant and untapped reservoir of unstructured language -- such as revenue sharing models, exclusivity rights, intellectual property ownership, fees and penalties -- which are essential in properly measuring the risk and reward potential of customer, supplier and partner relationships. "There is a tremendous wealth of business-critical information hidden in contractual agreements, but it is complex, highly variable from business unit to business unit and will change over time," explained Donald Feinberg, vice president and distinguished analyst of Gartner's data management and integration group. "Therefore, to conduct business with both eyes open, you need an architecture that can capture and harvest this complex data more effectively than the traditional relational databases in production today.'

(PS: Nextance and Oracle say this service provides "open access" to corporate data, but it's not clear what they mean by the term. The service will certainly provide more intelligent searching of contract terms, but it probably won't be free of charge. In any case, think of how useful it would be to search across journal copyright transfer agreements looking for journal policies on self-archiving, author re-use, and rights retained by authors.)

Monday, April 18, 2005

More on the BBC Creative Archive

Katie Dean, Flexible Copyrights Hop the Pond, Wired News, April 18, 2005. Excerpt: 'The British Broadcasting Corporation recently unveiled a license that will allow the public to access free television footage, films and sounds from some of the largest media archives in the United Kingdom....[T]he effort is seen by copyright-reform advocates as a great development for sharing and building upon old works....The Creative Archive License, originally scheduled to launch last fall, borrows from the U.S.-based Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that develops and promotes flexible copyright licenses around the world. The license permits free use of materials as long as users credit the original author, use them in the United Kingdom for noncommercial purposes and agree to license what they make under the same terms. In addition, the work may not be used for political or derogatory purposes...."We have an obligation to the public to make that material accessible to the extent that that is possible within the terms of copyright law," said Richard Paterson, head of knowledge for [The British Film Institute], which holds 200,000 films and 400,000 television programs.'

More on the NIH policy

Greg Rienzi, NIH Begins Public Access Policy, The Johns Hopkins University Gazette, April 18, 2005. Excerpt: 'The published findings of some of the nation's leading health researchers will soon be a click away for the masses....A chief aim of this new public access policy, announced on Feb. 3, is to make NIH-funded research more readily accessible to the public and to scholars. It is also intended to create a stable, searchable and permanent online archive of peer-reviewed research resulting from NIH funding, of which Johns Hopkins is the largest recipient....While the scientific publishing community has concerns about how this will impact journal viability, many groups have hailed the policy's ratification as a historic step in giving taxpayers free access to discoveries for which they paid...."I, for one, will be very interested to see how the system works and the level of participation," said [Chi] Dang [vice dean for research at the School of Medicine and The Johns Hopkins Family Professor in Oncology Research], who has five manuscripts on track to be published in the next six months. "Ultimately, frankly, it's a laudable and honorable thing to do. Information should be made as freely accessible as possible. What will go online is not someone's opinion. It's real peer-reviewed science."...Timothy Hays, NIH's project manager for the public access policy implementation, said that both author and publisher will hold copyrights of the manuscripts and that use terms will be clearly stated on the PMC. As to the long-term economic impact of the policy, publishers are making individual assessments and will likely retool their business models accordingly, according to [Kathleen] Keane [director of the JHU Press]. The JHU Press, which publishes more than 50 journals, has followed this issue very closely. Keane adds that the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers, of which JHU Press is a member, has been working with officials at the NIH to have their concerns addressed. Hays said that NIH will be listening to all "stakeholders" in the coming months in an effort to further refine the policy.'

Another journal policy on NIH-funded authors

James N. George and Sanford J. Shattil, Letter to authors and readers regarding the new NIH policy on public access, Blood, April 7, 2005. Excerpt: 'The ASH [American Society of Hematology] copyright transfer agreement will be modified to allow authors to deposit their accepted manuscripts in the PMC database if they choose to do so.... Authors submitting their accepted manuscript to PMC must specify that the manuscript can be made public no sooner than 1 year after final publication in Blood....ASH will further require that authors add the following disclaimer to the manuscript before sending it to PMC:
This author-produced electronic version of a manuscript accepted for publication in Blood has not yet been subjected to final copyediting, fact checking, and proofreading and is not the definitive publisher-authenticated version that will be published in Blood in print and online. The American Society of Hematology (ASH) and the Editors of Blood disclaim any responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in this early author-produced electronic version of the manuscript or in any other version derived from it by the National Institutes of Health or any other third party. The final publisher-authenticated version of the manuscript will be made publicly available on the Blood website 12 months after its publication in Blood.
....One of the myths promulgated by Public Access advocates is that online publishing does not cost any money.'

(PS: This is heel-dragging. The NIH request is for public access "as soon as possible" after publication. The Blood disclaimer is designed to frighten readers away from the public-access edition of the text even though it has been approved by Blood's peer-review process. BTW, no serious OA advocate ever said that online publishing, even OA publishing, was without costs. To say so at this late date, after this old misinformation has repeatedly been corrected, is to show that one is not paying attention.)

Resolution from the U of California

On March 10, 2005, the University of California Systemwide Library and Scholarly Information Advisory Committee adopted a Resolution on The University’s Role in Fostering Positive Change in Scholarly Communication. Here it is in its entirety:
Scholarly communication is in a state of crisis that threatens to compromise the University of California's core mission. The crisis reduces the UC community's access to scholarly materials and limits the dissemination of UC's scholarship. A failure to respond will jeopardize UC's pre-eminence, its contributions to scholarly inquiry and the progress of knowledge, its effectiveness in teaching and learning, and its service to the citizens of California.

It is critical that the University, and the worldwide academic community of which it is a part, regain control of and strengthen scholarly communication processes. In these pursuits the committee:

  • Calls upon the University to continue and extend its efforts to:
    • lead the academic community in its work toward effective and sustainable scholarly communication systems;
    • support publications and publishing innovations that disseminate scholarship to the broadest set of readers at the most affordable cost;
    • establish and sustain repositories and alternative publishing mechanisms that enable the broadest dissemination of UC's scholarship;
    • develop incentives and support for faculty use of effective, sustainable scholarly publishing mechanisms;
    • leverage its libraries' buying power to break the cycle of hyper-inflation in the cost of scholarly material by refusing to pay unsustainable prices.
  • Calls upon the University's faculty to continue and extend their efforts to:
    • seize every opportunity to regain control of and maximize the impact of their scholarly communication;
    • manage their intellectual property in ways that allow retention of critical rights, in order to ensure the widest dissemination of UC's scholarship and its unfettered use within the University to support teaching and research;
    • recognize and value their colleagues' use of any venue for scholarly communication that meets standards of excellence in selection and peer-review;
    • eliminate affiliations with publishers whose publishing and pricing practices reveal a focus on profits at the expense of open scholarly publication;
    • support library actions that attempt to break the cycle of hyper-inflation in the cost of scholarly material even when such action reduces access to material.

(Thanks to John Ober.)

Sunday, April 17, 2005

More on the PLoS position on the NIH policy

Andy Gass and Helen Doyle, PLOS Position on NIH Public Access Policy, Science Magazine, April 15, 2005. A letter to the editor accessible only to subscribers, at least so far.

More on Trojan Horse PDF's

Joe Brockmeier, Unexpected features in Acrobat 7,, March 30, 2005. Brockmeier gives more detail on the Remote Approach technology that lets authors or publishers insert JavaScripts into their PDF's to track when and where their documents are being read. For example, Brockmeier reports that the spyware doesn't work unless the reader is using Acrobat 7. (Thanks to Chuck Hamaker.)

(PS: When I first blogged this technology, the news was that Remote Approach was developing scripts that would let publishers remotely disable PDF's and make them unreadable. Apparently that nightmare technology, which would make PDF's unacceptable for self-archiving, is not yet available.)