Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, May 07, 2005

A consortial repository

Charles Bailey has a useful two-part introduction (one and two) to OhioLINK's Digital Resource Commons (DRC) and Ohio Digital Commons for Education (ODCE). The DRC is essentially an OAI-compliant, open-access repository, built on Fedora, serving the 84 colleges and universities in the OhioLINK consortium. From the DRC home page: 'OhioLINK's Digital Resource Commons (DRC) is a content management service and repository that ingests, preserves, presents, and mediates administration of the educational and research materials of participating institutions. With the capability to store and deliver a virtually unlimited variety of digital file types and formats (including text, data sets, image, audio, video, streaming video, multimedia presentations, animations, etc.) the DRC is positioned to capture digital content from student and faculty researchers as it is produced and return it to users of the DRC upon request. Content is stored on enterprise-class servers and storage networks located close to the internet backbone, ensuring maximum availability and speed. OhioLINK's storage area network allows virtually unlimited storage space with massive offsite tape and disk backup systems ensuring the safety and security of content. Researchers can be assured that their materials will be available for the next generation through a rigorous schedule of media refreshing and a comprehensive catalog of content types that will enable digital preservationists to apply appropriate treatments to digital materials.'

Friday, May 06, 2005

Review of OurMedia

J.D. Lasica, Ourmedia: An Overview, Library Hi Tech News, 22, 4 (2005). Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'Purpose - To describe Ourmedia. Design/methodology/approach - The piece includes descriptions of the various media types Ourmedia handles, preservation issues, fair-use interpretations and upcoming developments. Findings - Ourmedia is a free open-source global repository for digital media. Originality/value - Provides information of value to information management professionals.'

Péter Jacsó reviews Google Scholar

Péter Jacsó, Google Scholar: the pros and the cons, Online Information Review, 29, 2 (2005). Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'Purpose - To identify the pros and the cons of Google Scholar. Design/methodology/approach - Chronicles the recent history of the Google Scholar search engine from its inception in November 2004 and critiques it with regard to its merits and demerits. Findings - Feels that there are massive content omissions presently but that, with future changes in its structure, Google Scholar will become an excellent free tool for scholarly information discovery and retrieval. Originality/value - Presents a useful analysis for potential users of the Google Scholar site.'

More on the public release of Celera's genome data

David Bollier, Open Science Triumphs Over the Proprietary Genome, On the Commons, May 5, 2005. Excerpt: 'Seven years ago, entrepreneur Craig Venter started the Celera Genomics Corp. in a brazen attempt to map and privatize information about the human genome. The company's stated goal was to become "the definitive source of genomic and associated medical information." Nobel Prize winner Sir John Sulston, the renowned scientist who led the Human Genome Project in Great Britain, said that "the whole future of biology came under threat" as a result of Celera's work. "For one company was bidding for monopoly control of access to the most fundamental information about humanity, information that is – or should be – our common heritage." Celera’s defiant propertization of genomic data violated some of the most basic principles of science as a commons. Because Celera refused to release its data to anyone but subscribers, it was difficult for scientists to independently verify Celera's data. Nor could they use the information make new discoveries and medical innovations. By contrast, in the best traditions of science, the rival Human Genome Project made its genomic data accessible to anyone as soon as possible. The good news, announced last week, is that Celera's business model has failed and open science has prevailed. The "Book of Life," in its entirety, will belong to all of us....The chief scientific officer of Celera's sister company, Applied Biosystems, told the Associated Press: "The data has more value to everybody as part of the public domain. Combining it with public data will overall help public science." A spokesperson for Craig Venter graciously, but incorrectly, said, "This is something he [Venter] has been in favor of all along." '

Statistical aids for identifying texts

Ryan Singel, Judging a Book by Its Contents, Wired News, May 5, 2005. On Amazon's cool tools for helping to identify books that fit your interests. Excerpt: 'Name that famous book from just these phrases: "pagan harpooneers," "stricken whale," "ivory leg." Or how about this one: "old sport." Yes, it's Herman Melville's Moby Dick and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, respectively, but the words aren't just a game. They are Statistically Improbable Phrases, the result of a new feature that compares the text of hundreds of thousands of books to reveal an author's signature constructions. The haiku-like SIPs are not the only word toys on the site. Customers can also see the 100 most common words in a book....While such services seem to have little value and have generated scant publicity, except from bibliophilic thrill seekers, web watchers say the madcap stats aren't just for kicks....Bill Carr, Amazon's executive vice president of digital media, confirms that this is a serious attempt to sell more books. "We've been spending a lot of time thinking, 'We have this rich digital content, how can we pull info out and expose it to customers that makes discovery even better?'" Carr said. "What you are seeing here are the fruits of a lot experimenting and brainstorming....One of the cool things is getting people to discover books that are not only related, but that they would have a hard time finding anywhere else."...Benjamin Vershbow, a researcher at the Institute for the Future of the Book, sees Amazon's SIPs as an automated version of tagging, a concept that fuels sites like, a bookmark-sharing site, and photo-sharing site Flickr. Both rely heavily on users attaching descriptive names to websites or photos so others can discover them. Vershbow found, however, that Amazon's SIPs work much better for nonfiction than for novels....Vershbow sees Amazon's data mining as part of a trend on the web where sites are learning to weave data sources together to create a new web experience. Amazon's Carr agrees. "We are pioneers here ... in that we have this amazing corpus -- no one else has a corpus of this magnitude -- and are finding exciting ways to leverage that content to make a better discovery process for customers." '

(PS: Open-access texts lend themselves to these kinds of fingerprinting, tagging, mining, and discovery tools. And the tools don't have to be provided by the publisher or host. They can be can be developed by third-party service providers. OA texts support layer upon layer of useful services --whatever we are clever enough to conceive and good enough to let loose.)

More on Celera's release of genomics data

Jocelyn Kaiser, Celera to End Subscriptions and Give Data to Public GenBank, Science Vol 308, Issue 5723, 775 , 6 May 2005. (Access restricted to subscribers.) Excerpt: "A once-deafening debate over access to human genome sequence data ended quietly last week. Celera Genomics Corp., the company that launched a commercial effort to sequence the human genome and then set about making money from the data, is closing its subscription-based database service and will release its genomic data on humans, rats, and mice to the public."

Two OA journals from Hindawi

Mathematical Problems in Engineering from Hindawi Publishing has just converted to open access after 11 years as a subscription-based journal. From the web site: 'The "Open Access" movement is a relatively recent development in academic publishing. It proposes a new business model for academic publishing that enables immediate, world-wide, barrier-free, open access to the full text of research articles for the best interests of the scientific community. All interested readers can read, download, and/or print any open access articles without requiring a subscription to the journal in which these articles are published. In this "Open Access" model, the publication cost should be covered by the authors' institution or research funds. These "Open Access" charges replace the subscription charges and allow the publishers to give the published material away for free to all interested online visitors. Mathematical Problems in Engineering is an open access journal. Publishing an article in Mathematical Problems in Engineering requires an "Article Processing Charge" of $50/page with a maximum of $500 which will be billed to the corresponding author.'

The Journal of Differential Equations and Nonlinear Mechanics is a brand new OA journal from Hindawi. From the web site: 'The Journal of Differential Equations and Nonlinear Mechanics will provide a forum for the modeling and analysis of non-linear phenomena. One of the principal aims of the journal is to promote cross-fertilization between the various sub-disciplines of the sciences: physics, chemistry, biology, as well as various branches of engineering and the medical sciences....Differential Equations and Nonlinear Mechanics is an open access journal. Publishing an article in Differential Equations and Nonlinear Mechanics requires an "Article Processing Charge" of $50/page with a maximum of $800 which will be billed to the corresponding author.'

DSpace upgrade

DSpace has released version 1.2.2. For details on what's new, see the announcement.

The UK Open Law project

JISC and BAILII agreement will make legal resources openly available to all, a JISC press release, May 5, 2005. Excerpt: 'A major new agreement will digitise thousands of core legal judgments and law reports and for the first time make these freely and openly available electronically. JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) and BAILII (British and Irish Legal Information Institute) today announced the Open Law project which has the potential to transform the delivery of legal teaching and public access to legal materials in the UK. Access to case reports and legislation are central to the teaching of law and the development of legal skills. Open Law will therefore focus on the core needs of staff and students on law courses at all levels. It will include around 200 of the most cited judgments in each of the core areas of the law course syllabus....The digitisation of these judgments and other reports means that the project will digitise a total over 40,000 pages....JISC's and BAILII's commitment to open access principles in this project will mean that the general public will also be able to access the most important legal materials for free.'

More on Oxford Open

Richard Wray, OUP widens open access trial, Guardian Unlimited, May 6, 2005. Excerpt: 'The drive to make scientific, medical and academic research more freely available on the internet got a shot in the arm yesterday as Oxford University Press widened its trial of open access publishing....Academics and publishers have debated the benefits of open access for years, with some commentators suggesting that making information freely available over the internet could destroy Britain's publishing community. Yesterday, Oxford Journals, part of Oxford University Press, gave authors in participating journals the option to pay for articles to be freely available online as soon as they are published. It also changed its rules so published authors can put their articles on their own websites a year after publication. The move "will allow us to collect valuable first-hand data on the demand for open access," said Martin Richardson, of Oxford Journals.'

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Call for comments on fair use in Australian copyright law

Philip Ruddock, Fair Use and Other Copyright Exceptions: An examination of fair use, fair dealing and other exceptions in the Digital Age, Attorney General's Department, Government of Australia, May 2005. Excerpt: 'The purpose of this paper is to invite comment on whether the Copyright Act should include a general exception associated with principles of 'fair use' or specific exceptions which would facilitate the public's access to copyright material in the digital environment....In general terms, a 'fair use' exception would introduce a general exception or defence to copyright infringement for activities that are determined to be 'fair'. This would allow people to use or copy copyrighted material for those purposes without needing permission from the copyright owner....A fair use exception, based on the model in the United States, would list a number of factors or principles of 'fairness' for a court to consider in deciding whether any activity should be an exception to copyright (ie outside the uses that the copyright owner is able to stop). A specific exception would identify a particular activity (eg. time-shifting) that would be an exception to copyright. The main difference between the two approaches is that a fair use exception would be openended and flexible while a specific exception would be more certain but confined by its scope. The Copyright Act currently contains a number of exceptions to copyright known as the 'fair dealing' exceptions. The fair dealing exceptions are also based on a concept of fairness but are confined to four specific purposes, such as study criticism and review. The Government is reviewing whether these and other current exceptions are adequate - or whether a new general exception based on 'fair use' or new specific exceptions might be appropriate.' Comments on this report are due by September 1, 2005. (Thanks to BNA Internet Law News.)

More on the ACS complaint against PubChem

Jocelyn Kaiser, Chemists want NIH to curtail database, Science Magazine, May 6, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'The American Chemical Society (ACS) wants the U.S. government to shut down a free database that it says duplicates the society's fee-based Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS). Government officials defend the site, called PubChem, saying the two serve different purposes and will complement, rather than compete with, each other. But ACS officials are hoping to convince Congress to stop PubChem unless the government scales it back....So far, PubChem includes information on 650,000 compounds, such as structures and biological assays, as well as links to PubMed, NIH's free biomedical abstracts database. It will grow to include data from the Molecular Libraries centers, which aim to screen thousands of molecules for biological activity. NIH expects basic researchers to use PubChem to identify chemicals they can use to explore how genes and cells work....But ACS claims PubChem goes far beyond a chemical probes database. It is, ACS says, a smaller version of CAS, which employs more than 1200 people in Columbus, Ohio, and makes a significant contribution to the society's $317 million in annual revenue from publications. Institutional subscribers receive data on 25 million chemicals, including summaries written by CAS experts and links to chemistry journal abstracts....Claiming that PubChem could wipe out CAS, Jacobs argues that NIH should abide by its stated mission of storing only data from the Molecular Libraries Initiative and other NIH-funded research....NIH officials counter that PubChem indexes a set of biomedical journals that overlaps only slightly with those CAS indexes and, unlike CAS, does not provide curated information on patents or reactions. "They have a vast amount of information that PubChem would never dream of including," says Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. PubChem's focus on biological information such as protein structures and toxicology is complementary, he says. NIH has offered to link entries in PubChem to CAS, but ACS says that wouldn't help.' (Thanks to George Porter.)

Another university library becomes a digital publisher

Library's high-tech step into scholarly publishing, a press release from California State University at Sacremento, May 4, 2005. Excerpt: 'Sacramento State's University Library is about to enter the business of scholarly publishing. But rather than create books to fill library shelves, this press will publish "digitally" via the World Wide Web, a faster, more cost-effective way to disseminate academic resources to a worldwide audience. The press is the first of its kind within the CSU system....[O]ne of the press's first projects will be to publish selections from the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection, an archive of rare Greek documents and artifacts that was donated to the Library by Sacramento developer and philanthropist Angelo Tsakopoulos....The collection represents the kinds of challenges the press was established to meet. Its documents and artifacts are significant to the comparatively small community of Hellenic scholars located throughout the world, a niche audience that doesn't always draw the attention of commercial scholarly publishers. Freed from the physical and economic constraints of printing on paper, the press can make more of the collection available to scholars, while enabling them to search, download, e-mail and link to virtually any part of it --simple to do on a computer but much more difficult when information is only available in print....[University Library Dean Terry Webb] believes the press represents a step toward the transformation of libraries from information middlemen to information providers. "Libraries are very well-equipped to get into digital publishing, given librarians' familiarity with content and knowledge of digital equipment," Webb explains. "For our digital press, we plan to develop editorial boards to help us determine what publications would be good to produce and point us to worthwhile materials. We're not subject experts or editors, but we know how to organize information and we know important information when we see it. We can capitalize on that."' (PS: I can't tell whether the CSU digital press productions will be free of charge or merely affordable.)

Short, French intro to OA

Jean-Etienne Poirrier, Open Access Science : vers plus de liberté dans la diffusion scientifique, LogicielLibre.Net, May 3, 2005.

More on the Santorum bill

David Bollier, Privatizing the Weather, On the Commons, May 4, 2005. Excerpt: 'AccuWeather...accuses the government of undercutting its business, and has now prevailed upon Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania to introduce legislation (S. 786) that would require the National Weather Service to suppress a lot of its data and retreat to the pre-Internet era....More to the point, who's duplicating whom? AccuWeather relies upon the Weather Service's free data, then charges 15,000 customers for its proprietary work-ups. For AccuWeather/Santorum to demand that the Weather Service shut off public access to its data is essentially asking that AccuWeather be given a lucrative monopoly and have the public pay for it. Should libraries be shut down because they "compete" with bookstores? Should the national parks be eliminated because they offer an alternative to Kampgrounds of America? The Santorum bill is really about rank protectionism – for a cry-baby business and a vulnerable political ideology. AccuWeather wants a subsidized, competition-free business, and Republican ideologues want to stamp out a "bad example" of government meeting public needs more efficiently than private businesses. Making weather data (or court opinions or SEC filings) available as an open-access public good actually stimulates more business activity than awarding it to a fat-and-happy monopolist. An open-source data platform is more likely to stimulate innovation than a closed, proprietary one.'

More on OAI rights specification

Carl Lagoze, Herbert Van de Sompel, Michael Nelson, and Simeon Warner, Implementation Guidelines for the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting: Conveying rights expressions about metadata in the OAI-PMH framework, OAI, May 3, 2005. This updates a document first released in May 2003. Quoting from the announcement: 'The guidelines specify a mechanism for including rights expressions that pertain to the contents of the <metadata> parts of records in OAI-PMH responses. No new rights expression language has been created. Instead, the specification provides a mechanism to include existing and future XML rights expressions. Description of rights expressions associated with set and repository aggregations is supported through manifests of rights expressions in set and repository descriptions. The design has been guided by the need for simple and clear semantics that will allow service-providers to make harvesting and use decisions based on these rights expressions.'

More on the European book digitization project

Aisha Labi, European Union Officials Support French-Led Proposal for Digital Library of Europe's Literature, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 5, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'A French-led project to establish a digital library of European literary and cultural works -- begun in response to a U.S.-based library project led by Google -- was endorsed this week by key European Union figures. Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the 25-nation bloc, expressed his support for a European digital archive, as did a leading member of the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union. Earlier this year, Jean-Noël Jeanneney, president of the National Library of France, warned that plans by Google and five leading academic institutions and libraries in the United States and Britain to digitize and make available online the content of millions of volumes posed a risk to Europe's cultural heritage through "Anglo Saxon" domination of online information....Last month 19 European national libraries, including France's, announced their support for the digital project. They said the project was "aimed at a large and organized digitization of the works belonging to our continent's heritage." In the run-up to a summit of European culture ministers in Paris, six European leaders sent a letter to Prime Minister Juncker and José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, underscoring the priority they attach to the project. "The heritage of European libraries is unequaled in its richness and diversity," the leaders wrote. "However, if it is not digitized and made accessible online, this heritage could, tomorrow, not fill its just place in the future geography of knowledge."...As the culture ministers' meeting concluded, Mr. Juncker underscored his support for the European library project. At the same time, the European Commission announced that it would step up its efforts to preserve and exploit Europe's cultural heritage and that it would back that support with increased financing.'

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

New OA initiative from Oxford

Oxford University Press has announced an OA initiative, Oxford Open. From today's press release: 'Commencing July 2005, it will offer an optional author-pays model to authors of accepted papers in a range of Oxford Journals titles. Oxford Journals has also amended its post-prints policy to be compliant with the latest National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy....Oxford Open will give published authors in participating Oxford Journals titles the option to pay for research articles to be freely available online immediately on publication. The open access charge for each article will be £1,500 or $2,800, with authors being given the option to pay this amount once their manuscript has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication. Discounted author charges of £800 or $1,500 will be available to authors from institutions that maintain a current online subscription. Authors from developing countries will also be eligible for discounted rates. The online subscription prices of participating journals will be adjusted for 2007 and subsequent years, according to how much content was paid for by authors and thus freely available online during the previous year....In addition, and with immediate effect, authors who publish with Oxford Journals are entitled to upload their accepted manuscript ("post-print") to institutional and centrally organized repositories (including PubMed Central), but must stipulate that public availability be delayed until 12 months after first online publication in the journal unless the paper is being published within Oxford Open, in which case the post-print may be deposited and made freely available immediately the article is accepted for publication.'

(PS: I commend OUP for undertaking the author-choice OA experiment for its journals. I'm less sanguine about the new policy to permit postprint archiving for non-paying authors only after a 12 month embargo. On the one hand, OUP journals did not previously permit postprint archiving at all, except perhaps with case-by-case permission. I also commend OUP for permitting it now, and for its continuing accommodation of preprint archiving. But on the other hand, an embargo on postprint archiving slows research, limits author impact, and limits journal impact. I'm sorry to see OUP lend its weight to this harmful new trend. Saying that the postprint archiving policy aligns with the NIH policy is not accurate. The NIH "strongly encourages" authors to authorize public access to their postprints "as soon as possible" after publication.)

Title change: Annals of General [Hospital] Psychiatry

Annals of General Hospital Psychiatry, an independent Open Access journal published by BioMed Central, has changed title to Annals of General Psychiatry. The title change is reflected in volume 4, 2005. No ISSN change has been registered for the journal. BioMed Central is not doing much to differentiate the two titles, although PubMed Central has assigned a separate journal number.

Annals of General Hospital Psychiatry - Fulltext v1-3 (2002-2004) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN: 1744-859X.

Annals of General Psychiatry - Fulltext v4+ (2005+) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN: 1744-859X.

[Thanks to Jane Davenport via the PMC-News mailing list.]

More on Celera Genomics data release

Emma Marris, Free genome databases finally defeat Celera, Nature 435, 6 (5 May 2005). (Access restricted to subscribers.) Excerpt: "All Celera's genomic data, including more recent mouse and rat sequences, will be made available in the public databases of the US National Center for Biotechnology Information in Bethesda, Maryland, in July."

Review of Google Scholar

Martin Myhill, Review of Google Scholar, Charleston Advisor, accepted in December 2004, published in April 2005. Excerpt: 'Google Scholar has tried to grapple with [the deep or invisible web] in a number of intelligent ways. First, it draws on some of the latest scholarly, open access publishing ––especially from a number of quality resources now available on the Web such as those offered by BioMed Central. Open Access is a growing and undoubtedly significant arena as academics seek to find alternative means of publishing in an increasingly cost-driven sector. But Scholar has yet to be able to draw from much of the material available in the Open Archives Initiative (particularly in local repositories), often because of limitations in the original metadata provided by the originators or because Google has not been made aware of the content. As institutional repositories proliferate around the world, searching and linking these repositories could be a very laudable use for Google Scholar, particularly as this is an aspect most traditional academic information systems will find hard to grapple with for the time being. Second, content from a major access provider to electronic journal articles, Ingenta, is included (the default being pay-per-view access at article level if other authentication means fail, which sometimes happens erroneously, although that is not the fault of Scholar). [It will also crawl other priced content.]...Third, Google has recently added a "Scholar Preferences" option. Although offering just a small number of institutions as of the date of this review, this pilot development seeks to provide access to the electronic resources available to members of various institutions. It uses local authentication systems and OpenURL linking and is clearly added-value to the institutions involved.'

DFG position paper on electronic publishing and OA

In March, the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft or DFG) released a position paper on electronic publishing. The paper endorses OA and the Berlin Declaration, which the DFG helped to formulate and has already signed. If anyone can produce an English summary, I'll gladly quote or link to it. (Thanks to medinfo.)

New OA journal on bookbinding and the book arts

The Bonefolder is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal on bookbinding and the book arts. It was launched last fall and just released its second issue. (Thanks to Comme un trou.)

Open content in UK education

SchoolForge-UK, a project devoted to open-access content and open-source tools in education, has joined the Open Source Consortium. From today's press release: 'Schoolforge-UK, the community of individuals and organisations working to implement Open Content resources in UK education has announced its affiliation with the OSC, the independent voice of the Open Source Community in Europe. Schoolforge-UK will now drive the OSC's Education Working Group, with the aim of achieving widespread adoption of Open Source solutions in UK education. According to John Ingleby, Secretary of Schoolforge-UK, "The primary aim of Schoolforge-UK is to bring together individuals and organisations that advocate the use and development of open resources for UK schools and colleges. The OSC ably represents the UK and European Open Source community and it is a natural development to work with them on this common aim."'

Open archiving and related research environments

G.B, Wills and three co-authors, Virtual Research Environments: A Literature Review, a preprint, May 3, 2005. Excerpt: 'The accepted role of scientific and scholarly publication is to record research activity in a timely fashion, keeping others in the research community up to date with the current developments. Until very recently, it has been the case that printed journals were the most efficient method for the dissemination and archival of research results. Technical advances in the past decade have allowed the process of scholarly communication to take other forms, particularly in the dissemination and storage of articles via the World Wide Web....Open Archiving started with the aim of increasing the sharing and reuse of scientific information by promoting the development of interoperable archives of scientific literature. The most prominent example is the High Energy Physics (HEP) archive which currently has over 220,000 articles and 12,000 users a day. However, increased access for e-scientists to an article is not the final goal of an Open Archive. It also seeks to improve the impact of that article (the take-up of its ideas and the subsequent use, refinement or generalisation of its results). Running in parallel with the (sometimes lengthy) publication process and avoiding the toll-based access of journal subscription, the HEP archive allows physicists to increase the tempo of their literature by reducing the delay between the appearance of an article and the appearance of a citation to it to less than a month. The majority of these articles are subsequently refereed and appear in print journals, but the use of this 'direct dissemination' mechanism increases the speed of access to the latest scientific results and decreases the "impact delay" between projects.'

More on fund raising for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Philosophy encyclopedia seeks funds, Stanford Daily, May 3, 2005. An unsigned news story. Excerpt: 'The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, or SEP — one of the most widely used philosophy resources on the Internet — is attempting to raise more than $1 million to keep online access free. The encyclopedia is the brainchild of John Perry, professor of philosophy, and Edward Zalta, senior research scholar at the Stanford Center for the Study of Language and Information, or CSLI. Zalta is the encyclopedia's principal editor...."Basically, the SEP is trying to raise a $4.125 million endowment, and this will cover its annual budget of just under $200,000," Zalta said. "If we can do that, we can keep the SEP open-access and freely available for the long-term." This leaves about $1.125 million for Stanford to raise from private and corporate contributors. "We will ask for small donations from professional philosophers, readers in other academic disciplines and our non-academic readers," Zalta said. "We will also be asking for larger contributions from private individuals with an interest in philosophy."...Encyclopedia entries are contributed by distinguished professors and philosophers from around the world. They are also solicited by invitation from the encyclopedia’s editorial board, which includes three Philosophy Profs. Ken Taylor, Dagfinn Follesdal and Allen Wood. Zalta stressed that the encyclopedia is a perpetual work-in-progress. "Authors are given Web-based, remote-editing access to private copies of their entries on our server," he said. "As new ideas and research are published, they can update their entries." The fact that access to the encyclopedia is free is significant to its student users.'

(PS: SEP is a pioneer in encyclopedia innovation, OA in the humanities, and OA business models. It's the first significant OA resource to attempt to fund itself from an endowment. Here's hoping it succeeds.)

Arie Jongejan on OA and Swets

Bobby Pickering interviews Arie Jongejan for Information World Review, May 4, 2005. Jongejan was formerly the CEO of Elsevier's Science and Technology Division and is now the CEO at Swets. Excerpt:

IWR: Is open access really a threat, or is it on the decline?

AJ: I'd actually hoped to escape that question with my move. But seriously, I don't know! I wouldn't be surprised that after the initial buzz, the year ahead will show a cool-down. It's like journals, producing the first issue is never a problem, It's the second, third and sixty-seventh that count - and prove the ultimate viability of the idea.

IWR: Could OA ever be an opportunity for Swets?

AJ: Yes, perhaps even more opportunities than in traditional publishing where the intermediary's role involves matching the needs of 60,000 customers with the products of 60,000 publishers. With OA we have millions of authors at thousands of institutes who submit to thousands of publishers, and money flows that are vastly more complex than in the current system. Needless to say, Swets' expertise lies in facilitating such complex flows.

More on the European book digitization project

Indalecio Alvarez, EU chief proposes online culture library, Washington Post, May 4, 2005. Excerpt: 'The European Union is backing calls to put European literature online amid fears that plans by Internet giant Google to create a global virtual library could wipe out Europe's diverse cultural heritage for future generations, officials said yesterday. "We have to act," said Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, at a meeting of culture ministers and 800 artists and intellectuals in Paris. "That's why I say 'yes' to the initiative of the French president [Jacques Chirac] to launch a European digital library. I say 'yes' because Europe must not submit in the face of virulent attacks from others." Six EU members -- France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Spain -- on Thursday asked the European Union to launch a European digital library after 19 national libraries signed a motion urging action against the plans by the California-based Google.'

(PS: Yes to digitizing European books and putting them online. Yes to supplementing the Google book digitization project. We shouldn't forget that the Google project will include books by European authors in European languages. But even if it heavily favors Anglo-American books, as it probably will, is that a "virulent attack"? Is talk about a virulent attack the only way to raise money for such a good purpose?)

Nuggets from the literature on IRs

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., The View from the IR Trenches, Part 1 and Part 2, DigitalKoan, May 3-4, 2005. Charles goes through the journal literature on institutional repositories (IRs) and picks out nuggets. This is a very helpful way to catch up on a lot of valuable literature.

Update. Charles has since added Part 3 and Part 4.

Harold Varmus on OA

Harold Varmus, Science, Government, and the Public Interest, the William D. Carey lecture delivered at the AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy (Washington, D.C., April 21-22). Excerpt: 'This dream of freely accessible public knowledge has been around for a long time, long before the digital age. In 1836, the head of the British Library said: "I want a poor student to have the same means of indulging his learned curiosity, of following his rational pursuits, of consulting the same authorities, of fathoming the most intricate inquiry as the richest man in the kingdom...." We now have the technical tools to make this vision a reality. The advantages to scientists, to students, and to the growing number of interested citizens everywhere in the world are obvious. What stands in the way? First, concerns about how we will pay the costs of open access publishing. But these costs will inevitably be less overall than the escalating and increasingly unaffordable costs of the traditional, subscription-based, restrictive model of publishing that we currently use. And government is already covering most of those costs in the US, through grants that pay for laboratory subscriptions, for page and color charges, and, through indirect payments, for libraries. Second, concerns about the fate of scientific societies that support other worthwhile activities with revenues from their journals. There is no doubt that some societies, those dependent on such revenues, will have to adjust their business plans and obtain more revenue from membership fees, meetings, and other services. The first objective of any scientific society, just like any union or guild, should be to optimize the working conditions for its scientists; surely making the scientific record freely accessible and more usable should be the paramount consideration. Third, concerns about the survival of revered and expensive-to-produce journals like Science and Nature. But the open access movement is addressed to primary research reports, not to the costly, entertaining, and important "front matter" of these journals---the news, editorials, obituaries, gossip, book reviews, and mini-reviews.....The government also has a role to play here. Publication should be viewed as part of the cost of doing research (in most fields it is also a very small part of the cost, less than 1%); the government should expect to pay publication costs, even when they are shifted from reader to author, just as they do now; and rapid open dissemination will augment the value of the research by promoting its use as a public good. A firm statement of those principles, including an expectation that science supported by public money will be publicly available, will help cement the resolve of scientists, who know that open access publication should and will happen, to make it happen soon.'

AAAS presentations

The presentations from the AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy (Washington, D.C., April 21-22) are now online. The forum had a session on The Future of Scientific Communication with presentations by Carol Tenopir, David Stern, and Donald King. It was also the occasion of the annual William D. Carey lecture, given this year by Harold Varmus.

BMC integrates with Google Scholar

BioMed Central has started adding links to Google Scholar from BMC articles that are more than a month old. The links run GS searches for articles linking to the BMC article. For example, when you visit this BMC article by Paul Spellman and Gerald Rubin (Journal of Biology, 1, 5, 2002), you'll find the GS link in the lefthand sidebar, along with links to the article's references, related articles in PubMed, and citations from BMC. Clicking on the GS link pulls up 99 articles that cite the Spellman and Rubin article.

OA and the U.S. Government Printing Office

James A. Jacobs, James R. Jacobs, and Shinjoung Yeo, Government Information in the Digital Age: The Once and Future Federal Depository Library Program, a preprint forthcoming from the Journal of Academic Librarianship, May 2005. Excerpt: 'GPO's recently released strategic plan lists three "essential missions." Two of these missions conflict with each other. The mission of providing "free and ready public access" to electronic documents conflicts with the mission of distributing electronic documents "on a cost recovery basis."...In order to charge for digital information, it is necessary to reduce functionality of or limit access to that information until payment is made....To use such tools to provide a technical solution to GPO's conflicting missions could greatly diminish free public access to public information....The easiest way to ensure that information is freely available for all is to distribute government information to FDLP libraries. FDLP libraries are required by statute to make such information freely available to the public. Anything short of this (e.g., creating non-legislated partners without this mandate, relying on private sector partners) endangers the free access of information by removing the information from the legislatively required free-access system of the FDLP....There is no inconsistency between, on the one hand, the government and libraries providing fully functional digital government information for free to the public and, on the other hand, the private sector adding value to that government information and creating new information products....The library community, the FDLP libraries specifically, and all citizens must realize that we cannot accept promises from GPO that it will be able to find a technical and economic solution. GPO must state specifically how it will do so and how it will guarantee the policy of free citizen-access to public information that is fully functional – not crippled with access restrictions....Democracy depends on citizens being able to easily find and freely use information about their government.'

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Archive interoperability in Tasmania

Arthur Sale, De-unifying a digital library, First Monday, May 2005. Abstract: 'The University of Tasmania decided to explore using a unified digital library for all its research output: journal articles, conference papers, higher degree theses, and other types. This decision is in advance of the state of the Australian national indexing systems. The digital library also uses OAI–PMH protocols for harvesting, which one of the national repositories does not as yet. The paper describes the context, reasons for the University's decision, consequences and outcomes, and the development of software to talk to the Australian Digital Theses Program.'

The AUT boycott of Israeli universities

The UK Higher Education Union (AUT) decided on April 22 to conduct an academic boycott of two Israeli universities. The decision has generated many news stories and declarations from academic and political organizations --too many for me to blog here. But there is an OA connnection, which I'll mention once and then move on. The connection, and my own position, were well put by Andrew Marks, a Columbia University biologist and editor of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, in an interview on August 31, 2003. Quoting Marks: 'Academic freedom and preserving open access to scientific information is a universal issue. The concept of excluding a specific group - in this case Israelis - based on politics potentially leads to very dangerous endpoints. The open exchange of ideas is fundamental to biomedical research and the advancement of learning and fighting human diseases. Who decides whether someone's political viewpoints are acceptable in the scientific world? Politics simply cannot be used as a litmus test for who can and cannot pursue scientific research.'

When I blogged Marks' comments in 2003, I got critical email from boycott supporters. Some argued that Israeli policy was deplorable and some argued that what is at stake here is human rights rather than "politics". Let me reply to these objections quickly if only to head off similar emails this time. Both miss the point, which is about the wisdom of academic boycotts, not the wisdom of Israeli policy. When scientists boycott good science because of the nationality of the scientist, then they are simply hurting themselves, hurting innocent colleagues, hurting science, and failing to make any gains in changing the national policies they deplore.

Update (May 27, 2005). The AUT has voted to end the boycott.

Skeptical survey of OA issues

Christian Gerini, L' « Open Access », pour une réelle liberté de la communication scientifique : état des lieux et problématiques, Communication et information scientifique, April 26, 2005. In French --with no English abstract.

OA in France

Gabriel Gallezot, Le Libre Accès (Open Access): partager les résultats de la recherche, Communication et information scientifique, April 19, 2005. The article is in French, but with this English-language abstract: 'This text presents Open Access movement. After having []placed this movement in scientific communication context, the author consider his definition and the associated goals, in particular his implementation and the nature of the documents be able to share. The development of Open Access mouvement is observed through its use in France and the Open Archive example.'

More on Trojan Horse PDFs

James Jacobs argues that my comments on Trojan Horse PDFs (from yesterday's issue of SOAN) apply to government information, not just to scholarly journal articles. Excerpt: 'These are important issues for government information as well. Governments at all levels rely heavily on PDFs, but this kind of technology will, once available, surely spread to other document distribution formats where control, access, permission, rights, and authenticity are issues. This is very relevant to free, public, fully functional, permanent access to government information. Imagine trying to use the digital government documents that we do manage to get into our libraries (through deposit, if GPO will deposit them, or through downloading and web-crawling projects) if they are still controlled by GPO or the issuing agency in the way Suber describes. There are many questions that need to be asked as GPO (and other government publishers) look for ways to use technology to address the issue of authenticity and as GPO attempts to provide "free and ready public access" to electronic documents....'

NSF grants for "universal access" and digital libraries

Florence Olsen, NSF to fund digital government, Federal Computer Week, May 2, 2005. Excerpt: 'The National Science Foundation's Information and Intelligent Systems Division plans to award up to $12 million in grants for basic research related to digital government, universal access and digital libraries in fiscal 2006.' (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

Swedish Research Council supports OA

Last week I promised to blog an English translation of the Swedish Research Council decision to support open access. Here's an English translation by Ingegerd Rabow. (Thanks, Ingegerd!)

The Research Council Supports Open Access

The Internet and the growth of publicly available archives and Open Access Journals have led to discussions challenging traditional scholarly publishing in prestigious international journals. Requests have been made that results from publicly funded research should be rapidly available in university archives or other databases.

The Board of the Research Council has decided to sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access, which means an undertaking to strive to make research results freely available as quickly and widely as possible.

Source: Forskningskommunikation Och Science & Society Nyhetsbrev Nr. 3, April 21, 2005.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Berkeley Faculty Senate resolution

In March, the University of California at Berkeley Faculty Senate adopted a Scholarly Publishing Statement of Principles. Excerpt: 'Retaining control of one's scholarly output will allow Berkeley faculty greater freedom to disseminate their work, therefore increasing others' use of it and maximizing the impact of their scholarship....All those involved in the process of academic review will not discriminate against alternative venues for scholarly communication....The Academic Senate and the campus administration will provide appropriate incentives and tools for faculty to establish alternative scholarly outlets, serve on and lead relevant editorial boards, and submit their scholarly work to such ventures....The faculty and administration of the University of California, Berkeley will support the Library’s efforts to curtail unsustainable pricing structures even if this sometimes means losing access to titles.' (Thanks to John Wilbanks.)

Google founders elected to American Academy

Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences along with 194 other notable Americans such as William Rehnquist, Sidney Potier, Tom Brokaw, Tony Kushner, and Art Spiegelmann.

Two from Charles Bailey on IRs

Charles Bailey has found 20 institutional repositories among the 123 ARL member institutions. He adds, 'This list was complied by a quick examination of ARL libraries' home pages, supplemented with a bit of Google searching. I certainly wouldn't claim that it's comprehensive, and I would welcome additions. (Quick note to ARL library Web site managers: put a highly visible link to your IR on your home page.)'

He follow up that list with brief bibligraphy of IRs. '[W]e don't need to just conjecture about how IRs will be structured and supported. Nor do we need to simply speculate about the issues that they will face. IRs exist, and we can "ask" their managers these questions by examining the articles that have been written about them....Below is brief bibliography of interesting articles about IRs that are notable for providing insider views. You'll note that many of them are about UK IRs. The UK has been in the forefront of the IR movement.'

OA as part of the remedy for the politicization of science

Sanford Lakoff, The Disconnect Between Scientists and the Public, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 6, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'Many scientists -- including 28 Nobel laureates -- believe that the Bush administration is politicizing science to an unprecedented degree. Rather than just complain, however, they and others who share their concern should rally behind efforts focused on critical social priorities, and in the process promote a better appreciation of the need to take science and scientists seriously....Because the politicization of science is inescapable, scientists have to educate the public to understand technical issues, and the public has to exercise good sense in judging scientists' credentials and coming to grips with their discoveries and inventions....If ordinary voters are to make well-informed decisions about such complex matters as therapeutic cloning, hydrogen-based fuel cells, and genetically modified crops, they need more help than they can get from tabloid journalism and talk shows that deal more in sensationalism than reason....A direct assault on the administration's ideological fixations and on public ignorance risks provoking partisan defensiveness and populist ranting about elitism. Practical efforts to tackle critical social problems may be more effective in focusing public attention on widely shared goals and helping to increase respect for science.'

(PS: If Lakoff is right, then OA has a role to play in the solution. Part of the work can be done by translations or popularizations, which are compatible with TA. But part of work must be done by opening access to the primary literature for public exploration.)

More on the Rick Johnson and Jan Velterop resignations

Lila Guterman, 2 Open-Access Advocates Step Down From Their Posts, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 6, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'Richard K. Johnson, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, said he would resign on July 1, to consult part time and take time off. The coalition, known as SPARC, is an alliance of libraries that works to cut costs in scientific communication. Mr. Johnson has spoken forcefully about the crisis libraries face as journal prices have gone up, and has worked to promote free, online access to scientific journals. "We've accomplished something very important with the emergence of open access as a public-policy issue," he says. "I'd like to step away from it when I think we are at a high point." He will be replaced by Heather Joseph, who is president and chief operating officer of BioOne, an aggregation of biological research journals that are available free online. SPARC helps run BioOne. "Rick has built an incredibly strong program and an incredibly important and ambitious agenda," says Ms. Joseph. "I'm hopeful we can work towards collaborative solutions of lowering barriers to access." A day earlier, BioMed Central announced that Jan Velterop, its director and publisher, would be stepping down to work as an advocate for open access. BioMed Central is the largest open-access publisher, with more than 100 journals. Mr. Velterop told The Chronicle that he preferred to work on thinking about the movement's future, on spreading it to more publishers and scientific societies, and on helping the ones that might struggle to develop a business model. Mr. Velterop has not set a departure date. His duties will be taken over by two current BioMed Central employees, Matthew Cockerill, who has been named director of operations, and Anne Greenwood, who has become managing director. Mr. Cockerill says he looks forward to continuing to expand BioMed Central. Now that the business is running smoothly, he says, "we're reaching the end of the beginning." '

ATA on the launch of the NIH policy

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has issued a press release on the official launch of the NIH public-access policy --which took place today. Excerpt: 'The Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), a coalition that supports making taxpayer funded research accessible to the public, called today's rollout of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) "Public Access Policy" a positive step but voiced concern that the voluntary nature and discretionary timeframe of the policy may work against achieving the ends sought by NIH and Congress. "The NIH policy establishes an important precedent," said Sharon Terry, CEO of the Genetic Alliance and an ATA spokesperson. "Not only does it recognize the taxpayers' right of access to publicly funded research, it also acknowledges that if research is readily available it will be used by millions to solve problems. That means an enhanced return on our investment in NIH."...On Friday (April 29) NIH issued a notice containing details on implementation of the policy. It restates NIH's expectation that "only in limited cases will authors deem it necessary to select the longest delay period." In anticipation of the NIH policy, several journal publishers have announced policy changes that some observers believe thwart NIH's objectives. "It's disappointing to see journals announce their policies for NIH-funded authors," said Peter Suber, who is open-access project director for Public Knowledge and writes the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. "In each such case so far, journals are resisting the NIH request for public access 'as soon as possible' after publication and demanding embargoes of six or 12 months. This will slow down medical research and violate the NIH's own criteria for the policy."..."Although we believe NIH should and could have been more vigorous in advancing these laudable goals," said Rick Johnson, executive director of SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and a founder of the ATA, "we will be the first to offer our congratulations if the vast majority of NIH-funded research becomes available to all potential users in PubMed Central soon after publication. But if participation is weak or access is delayed too long, as will soon be evident, NIH must act to strengthen the policy and achieve its goals." '

May issue of SOAN

I just mailed the May issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. In addition to the usual round-up of news from the past month, it takes a close look at two publisher worries about self-archiving --that it will erase their brand and that it will create copies whose download counts they can no longer monitor. I discuss a good solution to the first and a bad solution to the second.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Summary of the April 8 ALPSP meeting

Kurt Paulus has written a summary of the ALPSP conference, The Web and after: the future of scholarly e-publishing (London, April 8, 2005). Excerpt: 'David Nicholas [from the CIBER centre at University College London]...suggested that growth in institutional repositories and open access will 'add to the digital fog' and may lead to stratification of services: first class (paid) and standard class (free)....David Hoole of Nature Publishing Group...[reported that Nature] is also investing in the required technical infrastructure to allow for syndication, personalization of news feeds (Urchin), reference management (Connotea) and looking at both sponsored and author-pays open access. Nature of course comes from a position of strength and has an array of content that can be more easily developed into new products than can conventional small research journals. It also has the benefit of substantial advertising revenues not accessible to most scholarly publishers....At the US National Academy of Sciences, as Diane Sullenberger explained, the Proceedings (PNAS) are run as a break-even operation, deriving revenue solely from authors and subscribers. In addition to giving free access after six months, and a free archive back to volume 1, PNAS is pushing out the boat on paid-for open access ($1000/article) and is finding that the proportion is increasing – 16% in 2005 so far, varying with subject. OA papers are certainly read more and sooner, but it is not yet clear whether they are cited more and sooner or whether OA will encourage subscription cancellations.' (Thanks to Colin Steele.)

Action alert against the Santorum bill

The EFF has posted a web form for U.S. citizens to ask their Senators to oppose the Santorum bill. Excerpt from the accompanying text: 'The National Weather Services Duties Act (S.786) would ban NWS [the National Weather Service] from "competing" with private entities by making it unlawful for the agency to publish user-friendly weather data and barring NWS experts from speaking one-on-one to news agencies. Why? Because Senator Santorum believes that companies like AccuWeather would make more money if they didn't have to compete with "free." That's right - he believes you should pay twice for your weather information in order to line the pockets of the private weather industry, which *already* benefits from repackaging the data that tax-funded agencies like NWS give away. That's not only unfair, it's a bad precedent for our national information resources. Help stop S.786 by sending a letter to your Senators today!'

More on DRM in scientific publishing

The April issue of INDICARE is devoted to DRM in scientific publishing and libraries. The articles have been posted as completed and I've already blogged the most relevant to OA. But now I can blog the issue's editorial by Knud Böhle. Excerpt: 'When we posted our call for papers for this issue on "science, higher education, and libraries" to an e-mail list of librarians the immediate reply was that DRM has no business in this field at all because of its character as a space of academic freedom. Open Access would be the appropriate answer (cf. INETBIB 2005). The four thematic articles we present in this special issue all recognize the special status of this field, however the authors come to a rather different conclusion about the role of DRM in there. In other words, sympathy for the rights of creators and cultural institutions like libraries makes them advocate prudently for a cautious use of DRM systems in these areas. The use of DRM technology in this field need not necessarily be a fall from grace of mankind. First it seems to be often overlooked that the expression of rights is not per se the enforcement of rights, and that well received approaches like Creative Commons are in first place this: a transparent expression of rights. Therefore, talking about CC is also talking about DRM. Second, what DRM technology is and what it is not depends. For example, safeguarding integrity and authenticity of documents is safeguarding rights of creators and consumers. Technologies guaranteeing integrity and authenticity such as digital signatures or watermarks are in this sense contingent. A one man's security technology is another man's DRM technology. Third, in some cases DRM systems may indeed be a solution to leverage fair use exemptions. In the library context these include the right to lend, the right to preserve, the right to supply documents to third parties, the right to share.'

More on the threat to OA weather data

Maeve Reston, Storm over weather service initiatives, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 26, 2005. Excerpt: 'Sen. Rick Santorum has introduced legislation that would limit the information that the National Weather Service can provide to the public....Some have criticized the legislation as a giveaway primarily intended to help Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather, whose employees have contributed to Santorum's campaign fund. But a spokeswoman for the senator dismissed that assertion as being without merit. Foes of the legislation view the bill as a major change to the role the National Weather Service plays, one that could drastically restrict free information for the public as well as airplane pilots and farmers, who are among some 6 million people who each day access weather service data on the Web pages of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA...."The legislation appears to be aimed at restricting or closing off a free information service for consumers and, in turn, benefiting one or two big companies that sell weather forecasts and other information," said [Dan McLaughlin, spokesman for Sen. Bill Nelson]. "For Pete's sake, no one suggests shutting down the post office because FedEx has a system of delivery," McLaughlin said. But private weather companies have argued that the legislation is necessary to protect their rights in the marketplace. One of the companies advocating for the bill is AccuWeather in State College, Pa., whose employees have contributed at least $5,500 to Santorum since 1999, according to Federal Election Commission reports.' (PS: Note that this story appears in a major paper in the home state of Sen. Rick Santorum.)