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Mark Leggott, American Chemical Society vs. Open Access to Research, Loomware, May 20. 2005. A blog posting. Excerpt: 'I've been wondering when this behemoth was going to role over and notice that the academic world was starting to freely share research information. ACS has long been the publisher of a very powerful and unique database of research in the area of chemistry and related disciplines. There is a wealth of information in the SciFinder Scholar system, but unfortunately, it remains out of reach for many academic institutions as it is simply too expensive. The University of Winnipeg was only able to subscribe to this system in the last year via a new pricing model for undergraduate institutions. Before that our chemists had to go to another larger institution to do research - an act that was itself frowned upon. This product, more than any other, has long symbolized the problems with our current academic information environment. It is the music industry of the academic world - crying wolf because they have failed to adapt to a knowledge industry that passed it by decades ago....ACS has locked up the worlds chemical metadata for far too long and they just don't get it. Fortunately, that problem has been slowly righting itself with the development of even more advanced web tools as well as better access to scholarly information via systems like Google Scholar (you may remember ACS's earlier attempts to get Google to stop using the word Scholar...give me a break). A good example is the National Institute for Health's PubChem database, which provides free access to a good subset of information about organic molecules and their biological impact. Just think: for the first time ever, students and scientists have free and unfettered access to information that can help make new discoveries....ACS has started rallying the government troops in the U.S., claiming that this terrible product provides information to scientists for free using, gasp...stutter, public funds! Surely this cannot be allowed!...Surely someone in the government will realize that this steals directly from ACS's coffers - lovingly filled by academic libraries that subscribe to their expensive, SciFinder Scholar database? Surely someone will understand that these publicly funded institutions can't be allowed to redirect money from ACS's coffers to other needs? Our universities and struggling students must continue...Oops - I think I just let the cat out of the bag! ACS gets most of their money from taxpayers too!'
JISC signed the Berlin Declaration on May 10 and issued a press release about it on May 20. Excerpt from the press release: 'At an international conference in the Netherlands last week, the Chair of JISC's Integrated Information Environment Committee, Reg Carr, signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities on behalf of JISC. The declaration commits signatories to the "new possibilities of knowledge dissemination not only through the classical form but also and increasingly through the open access paradigm via the Internet". Through its work to support the development of institutional repositories and such initiatives as its open access programme, JISC has been exploring alternative models of publishing and dissemination of research outputs, including open access publishing.'
Skull Base is the latest addition to PubMed Central. Quoting the Aims & Scope from the publisher's website:
Skull Base is a multidisciplinary journal that publishes original articles containing clinical and experimental information of use to the practicing skull base surgeon. The journal draws from the expertise of Anatomy, Maxillo-Facial Surgery, Neuro-Opthalmology, Neuro-Radiology, Neurosurgery, Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and Plastic Surgery. Highlighting new technologies and surgical innovations in clinical studies, the journal publishes results and significant problem cases. Peer-reviewed articles include original contributions, reviews, case reports and clinical problems relative to the skull base from all medical surgical disciplines.
Skull Base - Fulltext v13 (2003) [additional years forthcoming]; Print ISSN: 1531-5010 | Online ISSN: 1532-0065.Skull Base is produced in a joint effort by the skull base societies of North America, Europe, Germany, Japan, and Korea. [Thanks to Brooke Dine, PMC News.]
Open Access News will be offline for 3-6 hours tonight starting at 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. The Earlham College server will down for maintenance. Apologies for the inconvenience.
The May 21 issue of BMJ publishes three letters to the editor on OA.
The British Academy has issued report on E-resources for research in the humanities and social sciences (May 2005). Excerpt: 'This Review was prompted by the fact that the nature, provision, and availability of research resources is rapidly changing under the impact of ICT; and that this may have mixed consequences for HSS [humanities and social sciences] researchers' access to resources, both e- and non-e...and the form of resources may also be affected by national policy responses to views on resource supply in STM, e.g. the open access publication movement....There appears to be rather little interest in HSS learned societies in the trend towards open access, primarily because their subscription charges are lower and hence are under less pressure, but perhaps also because it may be difficult for a small or medium society to develop an appropriate business model for a radically new mode of operation which....There is a very widely-held feeling in the STM community that since author material is prepared electronically, and most of the serious editorial functions including peer review are not paid, there is no real cost justification for the size of publishers' subscription levels. Researchers, institutions, and funders see these levels as impediments to the flow of ideas....The principled arguments for journal OAP, under either model, apply to HSS as much as STM researchers. HSS and STM researchers have the same interests in control issues. HSS researchers can therefore benefit from STM community initiatives. But the HSS community could gain from being more directly involved, and not leaving OAP matters to national bodies. So far, there has been little interest in, or pressure for, OA from the HSS community. This is not through conservatism, but primarily because the funding agencies' investment in HSS research is much smaller in absolute terms than that in STM....However while many in HSS seem to see OA as nothing either actually or potentially to do with them, it is important that HSS bodies and individuals consider the implications of OA developments in STM for HSS....OAP for HSS thus justifies more investigation, both in its own right and as a response to rising library costs that are squeezing HSS purchases....We believe that pressures towards open access are likely to increase in STM, and that this will have knock-on effects for HSS, in addition to internal pressures in HSS and SS especially. So we think it important that HSS takes an interest in what is happening and, in particular, seeks to ensure that any moves to OA for STM do not damage HSS, and may rather be positively exploited....REC[ommendation] 20: that responsible parties in HSS express public support for the principle of wide and ready access to research outputs and other research resources. REC[ommendation] 21: that relevant bodies monitor open access developments to ensure that these do not have a negative impact on HSS, and in particular on individual HSS producers through naive applications of 'author pays' policies.' The report also contains an extensive discussion of OA repositories that I didn't have space to excerpt here. (Thanks to Clifford Lynch.)
The May 20 issue of Science Magazine contains an interview with Bruce Alberts (accessible only to subscribers) on the occasion of his retirement as President of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Excerpt (quoting Alberts): 'I think that the community should push for access to scientific information as quickly as possible. We tried [with the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences] to see how short we could make it. We actually tried only a 2-month delay. But the next year a number of librarians told us that they would wait the 2 months and not subscribe, saving the money for other journals. And so with regrets, our publication committee decided to let it slip to 6 months. It's an experiment, and maybe someday we'll move it ahead to 5 months. But 6 months has allowed us to maintain our subscription base. In fact, for 146 countries it's free immediately. But for scientists in the countries that can afford it --U.S. and Europe and Japan-- we ask them to pay.'
Christopher Gutteridge has won the 2005 UKUUG Open Source Award for his work on GNU Eprints, the open-source software for open-access archives and repositories. From the University of Southampton press release: 'UKUUG (UK Unix and Open Systems User Group) has made its 2005 Award to Christopher Gutteridge of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, for his work on the Open Archive Software: GNU EPrints. Christopher, who has been a systems programmer and web developer since 1997, has been developing and supporting GNU EPrints 2 package over the last four years. The package is now used worldwide in universities and research institutions to enable researchers to share their research effectively, via the web, and to provide accessibility to scientific findings. "EPrints is both a practical tool and the crystallization of a philosophy," said Christopher. "It enables research to be accessible to all, and provides the foundation for all academic institutions to create their own research repositories." The School of Electronics and Computer Science has been one of the prime movers in the global movement towards open access publishing. The University of Southampton is the first UK university to announce that it would be establishing its own institutional repository and requiring all its academic staff to self-archive their research.' Congratulations, Christopher!
The EBSCO Electronic Journals Service now contains OA content from more 100 BMC journals. From the EBSCO press release (May 18): 'Articles from more than 100 open access journals available from BioMed Central are now available via EBSCOhost ® Electronic Journals Service (EJS). Access to this content – more than 8,700 articles from over 100 journals – is available to customers who sign up for the BioMed Central package on EJS. BioMed Central research articles are “open access” and are immediately and permanently available online without charge. Some journals require an institutional or personal subscription to view content such as reviews. Research articles published by BioMed Central are archived in PubMed Central and are permanently accessible and searchable....BioMed Central open access journals are also part of the extensive EBSCO A-to-Z...master title database. A-to-Z offers access to hundreds of free online journals, such as those found in PubMed Central, the Directory of Open Access Journals and the Free Medical Journals package.'
Peter Murray-Rust, John B.O. Mitchell, and Henry S. Rzepa, Chemistry in Bioinformatics, a preprint. Abstract: 'Chemical information is now seen as critical for most areas of life sciences. But unlike Bioinformatics, where data is Openly available and freely re?usable, most chemical information is closed and cannot be re?distributed without permission. This has led to a failure to adopt modern informatics and software techniques and therefore paucity of chemistry in bioinformatics. New technology, however, offers the hope of making chemical data (compounds and properties) Free during the authoring process. We argue that the technology is already available; we require a collective agreement to enhance publication protocols.'
Same authors, Communication and re-use of chemical information in bioscience, also a preprint. Abstract: 'The current methods of publishing chemical information in bioscience articles are analysed. Using 3 papers as use-cases, it is shown that conventional methods using human procedures, including cut-and-paste are time-consuming and introduce errors. The meaning of chemical terms and the identity of compounds is often ambiguous. valuable experimental data such as spectra and computational results are almost always omitted. We describe an Open XML architecture at proof-of-concept which addresses these concerns. Compounds are identified through explicit connection tables or links to persistent Open resources such as PubChem. It is argued that if publishers adopt these tools and protocols, then the quality and quantity of chemical information available to bioscientists will increase and the authors, publishers and readers will find the process cost-effective.'
India has decided to offer OA to defense maps, formerly limited to military and government users.
The goal is open access to scientific information on the Internet, an unsigned news story, Innovations Report, May 20, 2005. Excerpt: 'The Swedish Research Council now officially stands behind this vision, having signed an international Declaration for Open Access. "Research findings funded by governmental resources must be available to everyone, not only to those who can afford to pay," avers Pär Omling, director general of the Research Council. A fundamental principle in research is the free exchange of information and maximal dissemination of research findings. Against this background, together with the ever more rapid development of the Internet, the Berlin Declaration was formulated nearly two years ago. Thus far, it has been signed by some fifteen organizations associated with universities and research, most of them European. The Research Council is the second Swedish organization to sign, after the Association of Swedish Higher Education. Signatories pledge to encourage researchers to make their findings readily available on the Internet, to develop methods for the quality assurance of online publishing, and to strive to recognize open publications in assessments and appointments....The Research Council is now launching efforts to see how it can work practically to promote open access, as a financier. By the fall, ahead of next year’s round of applications for research funding, Director General Pär Omling wants to have a concrete plan of action.' (PS: Here's an English translation of the Swedish Research Council's statement on OA, blogged here on May 3.)
SPARC has issued an action alert to save PubChem from the lobbying by the American Chemical Society to shut it down. Excerpt: 'The American Chemical Society (ACS) is calling on Congress to shut down the NIH's PubChem, a freely accessible database that connects chemical information with biomedical research and clinical information, organizing facts in numerous public databases into a unified whole. It is a critical component of NIH's Molecular Libraries Initiative, which in turn is a key element of the NIH strategic "roadmap" to speed new medical treatments and improve healthcare. ACS claims that PubChem competes with Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS). In reality, PubChem and the Chemical Abstracts Service databases are complementary, not duplicative. If ACS succeeds in eliminating [PubChem], scientific progress will be throttled. ACS lobbying efforts are targeting: the Ohio delegation in Congress, Rep. Ralph Regula (OH), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, and Senator Arlen Specter (PA), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. Please consider contacting Rep. Regula (tel. 202-225-3876, fax 202-225-3059> and Senator Specter (tel. 202-224-4254, fax 202-228-1229). If you live in Ohio, please also contact your U.S. Representative and Senators (Ohio delegation contact information is available at http://www.senate.gov/ and http://www.house.gov/.)
'Situation.  ACS/CAS has expressed concern that PubChem is a threat to the financial survival of the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS). PubChem provides free access to its database; CAS charges a fee for researchers to use its database. ACS has demanded that NIH shut down PubChem or substantially alter it so as not to compete with CAS.  NIH met with ACS officials to seek a solution that would resolve the society's concern. Since the initial meeting, there have been multiple communications between NIH and ACS leadership. ACS has effectively broken off discussions, leaving the issues unresolved. NIH is willing to continue discussions with ACS/CAS to benefit the scientific community and biomedical research. For example, NIH has said it is willing to link to the CAS database, essentially providing CAS with access to a new market. Medical researchers infrequently use CAS at this time.  Opposition to PubChem is from the ACS leadership. It is not clear if ACS members are aware of the issue and if they would agree with the ACS leadership's position.  NIH staff analysis shows that PubChem and CAS overlap relatively little in terms of content.'
Cornell University has issued a press release (May 17) to accompany its recent Faculty Senate Resolution on open access (May 11). Excerpt from the press release (we've already excerpted the resolution): 'The resolution, introduced by the University Faculty Library Board, responds to the increasingly excessive prices of some scholarly publications and encourages the open access publication of scholarship....The resolution urges tenured faculty to cease supporting publishers who engage in exorbitant pricing, by not submitting papers to, or refereeing for, the journals sold by those publishers, and by resigning from their editorial boards if more reasonable pricing policies are not forthcoming. Examples of Cornell faculty and librarians who have already taken action include: Eberhard Bodenschatz, professor of physics, who became the editor in chief of the New Journal of Physics, a successful open access journal. The journal is financed by author charges, is free for all readers through the world-wide web, and provides a less-expensive, high quality scholarly alternative. W. Brutsaert, W.L. Lewis professor of civil and environmental engineering, publishes his work in society journals. He notes most commercial journals do not levy page charges and states "this is a seductive tactic for academic authors, who are invariably strapped for research funds. But it is definitely a poisoned gift. The pricing structure of many commercial journals has gotten so totally out of hand that many libraries can no longer afford to subscribe to them. As a result, authors who continue to give preference to commercial over society journals will go increasingly unread by their colleagues." Karen Calhoun, Associate University Librarian for Technical Services, recently resigned as assistant editor for the journal Library Collections, Acquisitions and Technical Services because of publisher Elsevier's pricing policies; she also chose to seek publication of a scholarly article in a different journal.'
Stephen Pincock, Wellcome insists on open access, The Scientist, May 19, 2005. Excerpt: 'Britain's Wellcome Trust said today (May 19) that after October 1 of this year, all new grant recipients will be required to post any papers arising from the funded research in an open-access repository...."The Wellcome Trust policy is superior to the NIH policy in two key respects," said Peter Suber, a proponent of open access at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind. "First, it's a requirement, not a request. Second, it does not permit delays longer than 6 months. Assuring early, widespread access to important research results is in the funder's interest, the researcher's interest, and the public interest." There may be a third respect in which the Wellcome policy is superior, Suber said via E-mail. "I'd have to see more details on the policy to be sure, [but] it appears that the Wellcome Trust is making deposit in PMC (or UK PMC) a simple condition of funding. If so, it's a contractual obligation of the grantee made prior to any copyright transfer agreement with a publisher. Hence, the grantee's publisher would have no standing to interfere." A spokesman for the trust confirmed that the new policy would make archiving within 6 months a grant condition. Roughly 3500 papers each year arise from Wellcome Trust–funded research, and the new policy means that after October 2006, all of those will be freely available within 6 months of publication. "If journals want to publish some of those… they'll have to accept that," he said. Stevan Harnad, an advocate of open access at the University of Southampton, UK, said there were problems with the Wellcome approach. "Wellcome's policy of requiring self-archiving is a great improvement over NIH's requesting it," Harnad said in an E-mail. "However, requiring it to be deposited in PMC or UKPMC is a big and unnecessary strategic mistake." Wellcome should have required researchers to deposit articles in a repository held by his own institution, from which it could be harvested by PubMed Central or its UK version, Harnad said....Harnad also said the Wellcome Trust should have required immediate deposit upon acceptance for publication. "Research progress is not based on 6 or 12 months delay in access to research findings," he said. Responding to this criticism, the Wellcome Trust spokesman told The Scientist: "We would prefer immediate release, but we're allowing a 6-month delay because we realise this is a big step and we have to approach it in a pragmatic way."'
RGRP, Government-funded Free Information for Chemists 'Unfair' Competition for Private Monopolies, Digital Rights Network, May 10, 2005. Excerpt: 'Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), a subsidiary of the American Chemical Society (founded 1909), is unhappy because the Federal Government has funded an open scientific database called PubChem that *might* compete with their service. CAS President Massie stated: It would not only injure us significantly, it would put information for free in the hands of world scientists and do it all with taxpayer money. For me to wake up one morning and find I have to compete with my own government is extraordinary. (The fact that much of the money paying for subscriptions to the CAS come from taxpayer-funded scientists seems to have passed him by). While CAS just contains 'facts' which, at least under US law, don't yet have protection this hasn't prevented ominous talk about copyright and whether the government is overstepping its bounds in its provision of free information to scientists. Perhaps sensing their weak legal position CAS has taken its concerns direct to politicians. For example Ohio Governor Bob Taft has been persuaded to write a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt stating that PubChem threatens the very existence of CAS....This whole situation is rather ironic given that the ACS was orginally a learned society. However with a chief executive on over a $1 million a year it now appears to be more of a publishing conglomerate, jealously guarding its IP rights and more than happy to thwart access to knowledge and the progress of science if it harms their bottom line. (Readers might recall that the ACS also recently threatened action against Google over the use of the term scholar in google scholar project claiming this infringed on their product called Scifinder Scholar).'
Bernadette Toner, ACS Accuses NCBI's PubChem of Copying Its CAS Registry; Is Compromise Possible?, Bio1nf0rm, May 16, 2005. Not even an abstract is free online. But Jan Velterop has posted some excerpts to SOAF: 'Christopher Austin, senior advisor for translational research at NHGRI and a principal leader for the Molecular Libraries implementation group, told BioInform that he and other NIH officials were "flabbergasted" by ACS' claims. "Both the topic and the ferocity with which that has happened has taken us by surprise," he said. "ACS wants us to strictly limit the information in PubChem to only that information that comes out of the molecular library screening centers, and not allow data from any other source to be present in the database," he said. "The problem with that is that it would downgrade the value of the database to the community." Austin noted that all of the 850,000 compounds currently in PubChem have come from publicly available databases --most of them NIH-funded resources-- in an effort to populate it with some chemical information before the first data from the screening centers comes online later this year. "All the compounds that are in PubChem have been in the public domain for years and years," he said. This effort to aggregate disparate public chemical data into a single resource was long overdue, Austin noted, pointing out that if the Human Genome Project had followed a similar model, "[and] you wanted to find the human genome, you would have to go to five different databases to find it, which makes absolutely no sense, and would radically impede the progress of research."'
Jan adds this comment: 'Elsewhere, Eugene Garfield has been quoted as saying: "It is remarkable that the same society that accepted millions of dollars in grants from the NSF for establishing the chemical registry system, now objects to the government's use of the data."'
The Public Knowledge Project has released version 2.0 of Open Journal Systems, the open-source journal manangement software specially for OA journals. From the press release: 'The Public Knowledge Project is delighted to announce the release of Open Journal Systems, Version 2.0. This open source journal management and publishing software represents a complete rewrite of OJS v1.X, based on two years of working with the editors of more than 250 journals using OJS.' The new version can handle multiple journals from a single installation, individual and institutional subscriptions, delayed OA, increased security, multiple rounds of peer review, editorial ratings of reviewers, automated reminders to reviewers, OAI-compliant indexing, new reading tools, and more extensive online help.
The American Chemical Society released a public statement and FAQ (May 18, 2005) on its complaint that the US government should not provide OA to chemical data through PubChem. Excerpt: 'As things stand, in PubChem, NIH has created a mini-replica of the CAS registry, and a replica poised to expand. That replica will, over time, post an insurmountable threat to CAS' survival for the very reason that it is a taxpayer-supported service. The fact that the data collected into PubChem is "public domain" is completely irrelevant. Assembling information and publishing it in a variety of forms is what the private sector does. We believe that taxpayers should not fund the entry of NIH into the information industry more broadly than is necessary to disseminate the information whose creation it funds.' (PS: I'll post responses to this statement as I find them.)
The May issue of ScieCom.Info is now online. It's largely in Swedish, but there are English versions of the three OA-related articles.
The Johns Hopkins Digital Knowledge Center has undertaken A Technology Analysis of Repositories and Services. From the site: 'The Digital Knowledge Center (DKC), working with the University of Virginia (UVA), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and an extensive network of collaborators, will conduct an architecture and technology evaluation of repository software and services such as e-learning, e-publishing, and digital preservation. The result will be a set of best practices and recommendations that will inform the development of repositories, services, and appropriate interfaces. This project is funded by the Mellon Foundation.' For more information, see the report by Sayeed Choudhury and Jim Martino presented at the CNI Spring 2005 Task Force Meeting. (Thanks to DigitalKoans.)
The 2005 Benjamin Franklin Award in Bioinformatics was awarded to Ewan Birney, a bioinformatician at the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, England. While the award was announced in January, it became official today. From today's press release: 'Dr. Birney is being honored for his advocacy of placing human genome sequence data into the public domain via the Web. He has helped to ensure the free flow of this information as co-leader of the Ensembl project, an open access software system that provides annotation data on 16 vertebrate and other large genome sequences including chimpanzee and dog. "Dr. Birney has been a steadfast advocate of open access to the materials and methods used in bioinformatics, for which this award was created," says Jeff Bizzaro, founder of The Bioinformatics Organization. "His work at the EBI in Cambridge, England exemplifies his innovative spirit and cutting-edge thinking." "I support the open release of data because if you can grow the common area everyone works on, it furthers scientific discoveries," Dr. Birney says.'
Ben Wallis, Moving from IP to A2K, Consumer, Spring 2005. Excerpt: 'A2K – an acronym for Access to Knowledge – is about widening the public's access to knowledge which is currently restricted by the rules of intellectual property (IP)....The public's access to knowledge is increasingly hindered by unbalanced IP rules that favour IP holders to the detriment of consumers. There is an urgent need to establish a treaty, or at least principles, to redress this imbalance as part of a 'development agenda'. This should be done in forums and meetings dealing with IP protection....What’s the vision? An overarching vision of A2K is of a treaty that asserts the human right to knowledge, and includes exceptions where there are IP rights.' (Thanks to Manon Anne Ress.)
The spring issue of Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship is devoted to Open Access Journals. Here are the major articles:
Here are some comments on OA by Jeff Drazen, editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. The occasion was a conference (March 31 - April 1, 2005) sponsored by the Association of Health Care Journalists. I'm quoting from the transcript, but video is also available. '[I]n 2003...SARS came along. We put our articles up for free on the web as soon as we could possibly get them out. And I know they do this at both the JAMA and the Annals, when there’s something that the public needs to know about today as opposed to tomorrow; we put it out there free. We're not trying to make 10 bucks by selling the articles. We want that information out there so it can be used. SARS was a case in point; Women's Health Initiative is another case in point. As journal editors we say if you need to know these data now, they are up there free....Now [PLoS is] planning to charge $1,500 a paper, but a journal like ours or the Annals or JAMA, we get hundreds of papers for one that we may publish. We put a lot of work into stuff that we don't publish. We figured it would cost about $30,000 a paper we charge the authors to put it up, which seems a little unreasonable. So we can have a journal that doesn't put a lot of work into the peer review process, do it cheaply. We can get the stuff up online. But the economics here are a little concerning because the author is paying too. And in our capitalist society one of our basic tenants is who pays the fiddler calls the tune. If the author is paying to have their article published, we generally call that advertising....[On the NIH policy:] And we want to know who is accessing our content. We'll serve it up free on our website. I'm sure all the other journals feel the same way. You find one of our articles, you come to our website, you can have it free six months later. No problem....Now there's a conflict of interest of here because [the NIH] signs the checks that the authors use to do the research that allow them to write the paper. So to say that [grantees are] doing this voluntarily is a little crazy because you'd be biting the hand that feeds you....I'm a...citizen of the United States and my country bought Yellowstone National Park. But when I show up at Yellowstone National Park, they still charge me $20 to get in. Now my country may have paid for the research, but if there's a value added, and we think the journals an add value, it's okay to pay a small fee, $9.95 for the first six months in our journal....Do we want unedited manuscripts out in the public domain?...Do we want multiple versions out there?...So finally is open access a problem? I don't think so and I think that Harold [Varmus] in 1999 had a problem; he solved it. But it's no longer a problem....And these stories about the mother whose daughter had cancer and she couldn't get the vital information to save her daughter's life is totally bogus. If you want that information, you can get it at a very nominal charge. But what we want is information that's available but correct. That's where the editors, at least I stand, and other editors with us. Open access is important. Open access to the right information.' (Thanks to Michael Rogawski.)
The ARL has published its Strategic Plan 2005-2009. Excerpt: 'Guiding principles....We promote and advocate barrier-free access to research and educational information resources.....Strategic Direction I: ARL will be a leader in the development of effective, extensible, sustainable, and economically viable models of scholarly communication that provide barrier-free access to quality information in support of teaching, learning, research, and service to the community....As ARL moves forward in this direction, some expected outcomes in the next five years include: Outcome A: ARL will have provided leadership for the implementation and assessment of selected new models of scholarly communication (e.g., addressing such issues as cost and use/impact of open-access articles and licensed journals; future of monographic publishing; continuing access to data and other varieties of content beyond traditional published literature). Outcome B: There will be growth in the number and quality of appropriately linked digital repositories used by ARL libraries to archive and manage scholarly output....Preferred Future. At the beginning of the retreat, participants discussed a preferred future for ARL. What could and should ARL look like in 2012? The result is the following list of desired characteristics....In 2012, ARL will provide leadership in the transformation of scholarly communication. ARL will support and facilitate the emergence of economically sustainable channels where content is openly available to the scholarly and scientific communities along with associated services that maximize enduring discovery and interdisciplinary use of the content.' (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)
The Wellcome Trust officially announced this morning that it would mandate OA to all Wellcome-funded research, starting October 1, 2005. There have been many unofficial previews of this announcement since at least November 2004. From the press release: 'The Wellcome Trust has announced that from 1st October 2005, all papers from new research projects must be deposited in PubMed Central or UK PubMed Central – once it has been formed - within 6 months of publication. The move comes as part of a drive from the UK's biggest medical research charity to push forward open access publication of scientific literature, making findings freely available to those who want to see them....The Wellcome Trust is the UK's biggest non-governmental funder of biomedical research spending £400 million producing almost 3500 papers each year. Dr Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "Digital archives such as PubMed Central add enormous value to research. Everyone, everywhere will be able to read the results of the research that we fund. PubMed Central provides a link from research to other papers and sources of data, and greatly improves the power and efficiency of research. Digital archives are only as good as the information stored in them. That's why we feel it's important to encourage our researchers along this path – one I hope others will follow." '
(PS: Kudos to the Wellcome Trust. It's the world's largest research funder, public or private, willing to mandate OA to the results of the research it funds. The reasons it has given for this policy apply to all funders of non-classified research. I hope its leadership will help funding agencies worldwide to recognize their interest in using open access to increase the visibility, utility, and impact of their research.)
Terry Butler, Improving Access to Encoded Primary Texts, a draft presentation for the upcoming ACH/ALLC Conference 2005 (Victoria, June 15-18, 2005). Excerpt: 'An impressive amount of our literary heritage has now been put into digital editions. Much of it is encoded in XML, often using recognized standards for encoding such as the TEI. One of the primary scholarly goals behind this activity has been to increase access to the texts - by publishing them on-line, and by making the text amenable to searching. The XML tagging provides further added value for searching and display. Metadata, where it exists at all, is mostly at the collection level, or provides only a broad guide to the contents of a specific work. Between high-level metadata access, and a direct search on the word forms of the text, there is little help for the reader. Due to the immense labour involved in creating detailed subject indexing, very few scholarly electronic texts have indexes or finding aids which would draw the reader to specific sections of the work. To address this deficiency, a first trial has been made at automatic indexing of a substantial non-fiction work [Coleridge's Notebooks]....The overall goals for the project include:  creating an accurate electronic text of the entire notebook corpus;  creating an index and thesaurus for the notebooks which will be a start to a synthetic index to Coleridge's thought;  providing a web-based search and discovery system which will meet the needs of scholars, making his thought on a vast variety of topics more accessible.'
The CORDIS Information Society Technologies (IST) program enumerates its strategic objectives in a new report, IST Work Programme 2005-2006. Strategic objective 2.5.10 is called Access to and preservation of cultural and scientific resources. Here's the brief --and vague-- objective on access: 'The aim is to develop systems and tools which will support the accessibility and use over time of digital cultural and scientific resources. This requires work to:...Support the emerging complexity of digital cultural and scientific objects and repositories, through enriched conceptual representations, and advanced access methods.' A related page calls for proposals to implement the objective. Submissions are due by September 21, 2005.
SPARC and the University of Michigan Scholarly Publishing Office (SPO) have launched a program to provide business planning and digital publishing services for open-access journals in the social sciences and humanities. From today's press release: 'The Publisher Assistance Program offers existing and prospective publishers a variety of benefits based on SPARC's and SPO's in-depth experience in the field. Integrating this experience into the Publisher Assistance Program, SPARC and SPO together provide a business planning process to ensure the sustainability of the journal under an open-access or cost-recovery model, including the transition from a print, subscription-based model to an online open-access model. The Publisher Assistance Program will also offer a package of options for journal development, production, hosting, and maintenance. These packages will include free online hosting for open-access journals and a variety of digital publishing options that SPO will offer on a cost-recovery basis. "Many editors and publishers of journals in the social sciences and humanities are looking for a way to do well while doing good," said SPARC Executive Director Rick Johnson. "They frequently approach both SPO and SPARC seeking guidance on how to move their publications to an online environment, and they require both business planning advice and digital publishing technical expertise in order to achieve their goals. The Publisher Assistance Program can serve these needs and send them into the marketplace with sound business options and a superior open-access journal offering."...The new Publisher Assistance Program will serve nonprofit publishers of either new or existing peer-reviewed journals that wish to operate under an open-access model. SPARC and SPO have separately provided business planning services or technical assistance to dozens of print, online, and open-access journals. For information on how to participate in the Publisher Assistance Program, please contact Raym Crow, SPARC Business Development Consultant, at email@example.com.'
Mark Chillingworth, Velterop departs BMC to promote OA, Information World Review, May 18, 2005. Excerpt: 'Open Access champion Jan Velterop is leaving his role as a director and publisher at BioMed Central (BMC) to return to his roots as an independent consultant and advocate for open access publishing. Velterop, who spent four years with BMC, told IWR that he wants greater independence because he was frustrated by the slow pace of open access (OA) adoption. "The whole issue of open access is going too slowly, there are really only two publishers [BMC and PLoS] involved," he said. Velterop plans to target commercial and society publishers as well as funding bodies. "I think I have some good arguments for adopting OA." Velterop said OA needs renewed energy and a new focus to speed up its adoption. "Originally, OA was confused by librarians as being about the drive for lower prices. I think the two have very little to do with each other, and the attention on prices has been to the detriment of OA adoption by society publishers." Previous OA advocacy campaigns have targeted authors and librarians, but Velterop believes this was mistaken. "In their work as scientists the authors push the boundaries of knowledge, but when it comes to publishing they are conservative." He believes research funding bodies are happy to pay a "reasonable price" for open access publication. Velterop cites Springer Open Choice as the best OA model, "but they don't really present the model to authors so they don't know about it." '
The eGranary Digital Library delivers digital scholarship and information without charge, but it's not open access in the ordinary sense. It can't be, since it focuses on delivering content to institutions and users without adequate internet connectivity. From the site: 'The eGranary Digital Library provides millions of digital educational resources to institutions lacking adequate Internet access. Through a process of garnering permissions, copying Web sites, and delivering them to intranet Web servers INSIDE our partner institutions in developing countries, we deliver millions of multimedia documents that can be instantly accessed by patrons over their local area networks at no cost.' It encourages authors, publishers, libraries, and other organizations to donate content to the system. See those who have already done so. (Remember, this content will not be set loose on the public internet.) There are many other ways to help. For more information see the FAQ, or this press release announcing that the 50th eGranary Digital Library was installed this week at a clinic in Port au Prince, Haiti.
Starting next month, access to American Medical News will be limited to paying subscribers and members of the American Medical Association (AMA). Formerly, it was OA, apparently the only OA publication of the AMA.
I learned about this development from MedGadget. But instead of just citing it in thanks, let me quote from it at length. 'AMNews is a publication of news and opinions of the AMA related to public policy issues. To find out why the decision was made, our very own Dr.O, member of the AMA, contacted Linda Smith, a senior service representative in the Department of Member Relations of the AMA. During the prolonged discussion, Mrs. Smith informed Dr.O that AMNews will now be available for $30 for a 24 hour period. When asked to name an online publication by the AMA, free for the public, that covers public health policies issues, she has referred to the main AMA website. When noted that the main byline of "The Newspaper for America's Physicians" was no longer applicable (i.e. for members only), she said that the newspaper will still be available free to non-AMA members, but only six months after the original publication. Finally, when asked if the PDA edition through AvantGo.com (currently the exact copy of entire online edition) will still be available free of charge, she had no answer. In our opinion, the decision by the AMA is regrettable. As AMA members, we believe that this organization has a responsibility to communicate to society the issues facing patients and physicians. It is unfortunate that the AMA never made an effort to open the science published in JAMA to the people that directly finance the science--taxpayers like you and me. It is doubly regrettable that AMA chose to hide an important public policy journal from the public itself. If you are as outraged as we are about this decision, please send your complaints directly to the AMA through this online feedback form. And if you are a blogger, please spread the word. Thanks.'
The Drexel University Libraries Spring 2005 Scholarly Communication Speaker Series includes three talks on OA. Two have already taken place and the presentations are online: (1) Thomas Krichel, Scholarly Publishing and Open Access: Players and Payer, March 3, 2005, and (2) Kristin Antelman, Does Open Access Increase Authors' Citation Rates?, April 28, 2005. the third will take place tomorrow: (3) Mary Jackson, Authors' "Copy Rights" and Open Access Publishing, May 19, 2005.
Update. Mary Jackson's PPT slides are now online.
G.A. Ascoli, Looking Forward to Open Access, Neuroinformatics, 3, 1 (2005) pp. 1-4. Only the abstract is free online, at least so far: '....Buzz regarding [the NIH public-access policy], its reception, impact, and consequences, was prominent at the 34th Society for Neuroscience Meeting in San Diego, CA (October 23–27, 2004). Unofficial opinions were exchanged there among individual investigators at the meetings of both the Society's Neuroinformatics Committee and our journal's Editorial Board, as well as at and between scientific sessions. On Publisher Row, Elsevier distributed an unsigned "Dear Colleague" letter strongly opposing the policy, outlining a series of potentially negative consequences for the whole scientific community, and questioning the purported lack of thorough consideration in the NIH decision process.In this issue we publish two opposite opinions on this controversy: that of Elsevier (Merkel-Sobotta, 2005) and that of Biomed Central, among the most prominent supporters and developers, among publishers, of the "open access" model (Velterop, 2005). This Editorial takes a somewhat intermediate position, recognizing the benefits of open access to scientific publications, while starting a dialogue regarding possible steps to limit or avoid any harmful side effect of this movement.'
Eric Merkel-Sobotta, Elsevier and open access, Neuroinformatics, 3, 1 (2005) pp. 5-10. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'Before we get into the details of open access, what it means, and where Elsevier stands, we should look at what scientific, technical, and medical (STM) publishing actually is. During the past year, when speaking to journalists and government representatives in many countries, it has become evident that we have, as an industry, not successfully (or succinctly) explained what it is that we actually do. As a relative newcomer to STM publishing, I can safely say that it is not an industry where the KISS principle ("Keep it simple, Stupid") is widely embraced. And although what we do is definitely not self-evident from what we produce, we should spend more time coming up with better ways of explaining it. Ignorance and complication leads to misunderstanding, and that is something we don't need right now. There have been accusations by proponents of alternative publishing models that traditional STM publishers don't add any value. Collette Bean of Wiley has a good answer to this one: "If this is true, I've been very busy adding no value...." Of course we add value we've been doing so for more than 300 yr.'
(PS: For my quick response, see SOAN for 5/2/05: 'If you tuned in late, I acknowledge that journals add value. It's a myth that OA wants to dispense with these valuable services, although sometimes OA journals must choose between the more essential and the less essential services. The true bone of contention is not whether these services are valuable but how to pay for the most essential services without creating access barriers for readers.' This has been my consistent position for years. See SOAN for 9/4/03: '[P]ublishers often overlook the fact that open-access proponents agree with them [that journals add value]. Open-access proponents might even concede that journals add value in every way that publishers say they do. However, open-access proponents tend to argue that some of these journal services are more essential than others, even if all are valuable, that they cost less than most journals charge for them, that it's better to cover the costs of the essential services from the author's end of the transaction than the reader's end, and therefore that they do not justify access barriers.')
Jan Velterop, Necessity is the Mother of Innovation, Neuroinformatics, 3, 1 (2005) pp. 11-14. Also see the OA edition. Excerpt: 'But curiously, there is something missing from the debate. We heard little about the health and effectiveness of science [as opposed to the financial health of publishers]. Yet that has to be the prime concern. Publishers and scholarly societies derive their raison d'être from serving science. It is the obligation of all participants in this debate to put science first. That does not seem to happen, however....The NIH, as responsible financiers of research, have come to conclude that barrier-free access --open access-- to the published output of the projects that they fund is the proper and appropriate finishing touch to a research project, especially because open access, now that the Internet makes it possible, seems the best way to "expand the knowledge base in medical and associated sciences in order to enhance the Nation's economic well-being and ensure a continued high return on the public investment in research" (point 3 in the NIH mission statement). The intellectual property resulting from research, virtually all of it now exploited exclusively by publishers, is property that is heavily "mortgaged" with public investment, and what the NIH are proposing is, in essence, that the mortgage be paid back to the public....[E]ven though the financial health of publishers and scholarly societies can hardly be the responsibility of the NIH, they are accepting that organizations heavily dependent on subscriptions cannot be weaned from it overnight, and so they have been very understanding and lenient by allowing a delay of half a year before the articles resulting from research that they fund can be openly available....[After summarizing the economics of OA journal publishing:] It seems that sustainability of the open-access model is only questioned in an attempt to discredit that system. In fact, sustainability is intrinsically more secure in an open-access model than in a traditional subscription model, simply because publishing activity is directly proportional to research activity and therefore eminently scaleable if the amount of research increases. In the subscription model, increased research and publishing activity has thus far lead to a vicious cycle of higher costs, lower affordability of comprehensive journal collections, and the resulting subscription attrition (i.e., shrinking circulation), as we have already witnessed for at least a decade.'
James Lennox is retiring as director of the University of Pittsburth's Center for Philosophy of Science (CPS). For the OA connection, think about this paragraph from a news story on Lennox and CPS: 'The center's world-class reputation is enhanced by the Archives for Scientific Philosophy in the Hillman Library, widely recognized as the most important archival collection of unpublished material related to the history of logical empiricism in the world, as well as by PhilSci Archives, an Internet-based preprint server that is now the default prepublication site for philosophy of science scholarship.'
(PS: I like this. An eminent academic research center believes its reputation is enhanced by its association with an OA repository. The typical pattern today is the reverse. Let's hope to see more of this in the future.)
Europa has a short news story today on the conference, What science? What Europe? (Brussels, May 2-3, 2005), hosted by the Greens/European Free Alliance (EFA) in the European Parliament. In addition to several talks on open standards and free and open software, 'Juergen Renn of the Max Planck Institute gave a historical account of science and how the Berlin declaration on open scientific publishing is changing the face of scientific reporting.'
Yesterday the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Health Metrics Network, a global partnership to improve access to information for health care practitioners and policy-makers. From the UN press release: 'The Health Metrics Network (HMN) is comprised of countries, multilateral and bilateral development agencies, foundations, global health initiatives and technical experts and aims to boost the availability and use of timely, reliable health information by drawing together the funding and development of core health information systems in developing countries. In some areas of the world, even basic facts such as a person's birth, their death and cause of death are not recorded," said WHO Director-General Dr. Lee Jong-wook. "The Health Metrics Network will work to close this gap by helping countries improve their ability to gather this vital health information. Accurate data is critical to identifying problems and implementing effective solutions for people's health." HMN will also bring together health and statistical constituencies to build capacity and expertise for strengthening health information systems so local, regional and global decision-makers have quality data on which to base decisions to improve health. It responds to a need for evidence-based policy-making that can enable countries to make more efficient use of health budgets....The Network has received an initial grant of $50 million over seven years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and additional contributions from other donors, including the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, the United States Agency for International Development (UNAID) and the Danish International Development Agency.'
More from the WHO press release: 'HMN partners have agreed to align their individual efforts around a common health information framework thereby reducing overlapping and duplicative demands that have burdened fragile information systems in developing countries in the past....The initial HMN partners include: African Population and Health Research Center; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Danish International Development Agency, Department for International Development (U.K.), European Commission, Ghana Health Services, Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, GAVI, Ministry of Health, Mexico, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, Statistics South Africa, Swedish International Development Agency, Uganda Bureau of Statistics, UNICEF, United Nations Statistics Division, U.S. Agency for International Development, World Bank, and World Health Organization. HMN will meet its objectives through a range of activities. Low- and middle-income countries will be eligible to apply for grants of up to US$ 500 000 for health information system strengthening and can call upon HMN partners for technical assistance. By 2011, HMN expects that at least 80 countries will be able to report on agreed, standardized global health goals and indicators in a timely and sound manner.'
Cory Doctorow, The Beeb Shall Inherit the Earth, Wired News, May 18, 2005. Excerpt: 'The crowning glory of the Beeb's openness is the Creative Archive. The Creative Archive is an attempt to digitize all the programming the BBC has commissioned, clear the copyrights and post it online with a Creative Commons-like license. This will allow Britons to download the BBC's content, distribute it and noncommercially remix it into their own films, music, gags, projects and school reports.' Doctorow also discusses other BBC openness breakthroughs such as BBC Backstage and Freeview.
Overwhelming interest in 'Cream of Science', May 17, 2005. An unsigned news story from SURF. Excerpt: 'The national Cream of Science website is a roaring success. It contains over 25,000 publications by leading Dutch scientists and researchers, available full-text for fellow academics, educational institutions and interested members of the public. Within just a day of its launch on May 10th, it registered half a million hits. The website is the showcase for leading Dutch science and research...[currently listing] the names of 206 top Dutch academics, providing worldwide access to their 41,000 publications. About 60% of these (25,000) can be accessed full text. Access to the other publications is unfortunately protected by copyright, while the full-text version of a small minority of texts is no longer recoverable....The people behind the website are overwhelmed by its success. In the words of Martin Feijen of the SURF Foundation, "We had predicted about 50,000 searches between May and December 2005, but reached this target in just a single day. This meant the site encountered an overload for a while, but we've now solved the problem."...The website's opening was attended by an international group of repositories experts. During the event six institutions signed the 'Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities'. These were NWO, the University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Leiden University and JISC, SURF's counterpart in the United Kingdom. KNAW and SURF had signed the Berlin Declaration previously. Signatories intend to encourage their researchers/grant recipients to publish their work according to the principles of the open access paradigm....Some media reports, particularly those published outside of the Netherlands, suggest that the site is a declaration of war by universities against academic publishers. This is not the case. On the contrary, some publishers, such as Springer, are cooperating with the 'Cream of Science'. DARE's primary objective is to share knowledge and the site is one means of achieving this.'
Francine Berman and Henry Brady, Final Report: NSF SBE-CISE Workshop on Cyberinfrastructure and the Social Sciences, May 12, 2005. Excerpt: 'Privacy, data integrity, and accountability requirements must be addressed by researchers, custodians, and security personnel. For example, if public policy were to result from the analysis of federated data, free access to the public data portions might be mandated. At the same time, since the analysis might need to be reproduced in different legal contexts, the federated data would need to be protected and auditable....[M]any believe that the problem of finding ways to meet the legitimate privacy and confidentiality concerns of human subjects is the Achilles heel of the current data explosion. One overarching approach is to limit access to data, but this can severely restrict the possibilities for data analysis that can solve pressing human problems such as improving education, improving health care, or reducing crime....Methods for automated disclosure analysis that would allow a researcher to submit an analysis plan which would be automatically checked to ensure that disclosure risks are minimal might also be helpful, but these methods are still in their infancy. More work needs to be done in all these areas, but if we are to preserve the possibilities for socially useful data analysis from micro-data, we must also develop new approaches that utilize trust relationships and legal sanctions that enhance access instead of denying it....The goal should be to maximize access to data for researchers by creating mechanisms that rely upon trust, responsibility, and ultimately sanctions for bad behavior instead of simply restricting access to data.' (Thanks to Clifford Lynch.)
Six major Japanese research universities have launched the Japan OpenCourseWare Alliance. From the web site: 'The OpenCourseWare project was firstly developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in order to provide a free and open educational resource for faculty, students, and self-learners around the world. In Japan, in cooperation with MIT, the six universities listed below have established the JAPAN OCW ALLIANCE and are now offering the content of their academic courses to the general public.' The participating institutions are Osaka University, Kyoto University, Keio University, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, University of Tokyo, and Waseda University.' (Thanks to Mine Shinji.)
Two research projects funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science have launched Open Access Japan, a portal on OA for Japanese scholars, librarians, and publishers. From the About page, which is in English: 'Open Access Japan...has been launched with a view to facilitating the information and communication among researchers, librarians and publishers in Japanese concerning issues on Open Access as one of the currently most heavily discussed topics in scholarly communication....Problems for contemporary scholarly communication are to be attributed to trends in funding scientific research in the late 20th century and to rapidly growing digital and networked communication in general towards the end of the century, so that the issues which were believed to concern publishers and librarians alone are now beginning to involve all researchers, and then all citizens. Given such recognition, the two research groups are of the same opinion that the number of people who share appropriate information and correct knowledge of the situations must be essentially increased for the sake of the future of scholarly communication in Japan, and have decided to help provide for a medium of this type which is available beyond conventional media for research communication. They also hope that interested parties information through this site will take a further step to get directly involved in discussions currently developing worldwide.' (Thanks to Mine Shinji.)
India's National Informatics Centre has launched a beta version of OpenMED@NIC. From the web site: 'OpenMED is an open access archive for Medical and Allied Sciences. Here authors / owners can self-archive their scientific and technical documents. For this they need to register once in order to obtain a user id in OpenMED system. However no registration is required for searching the archive or viewing the documents. OpenMED is a discipline based International Archive. It accepts both published and unpublished documents having relevance to research in Medical and Allied Sciences including Bio-Medical, Medical Informatics, Dental, Nursing and Pharmaceutical Sciences. These could be preprints (pre-refereed journal paper), postprints (refereed journal paper), conference papers, conference posters, presentations, technical reports/departmental working papers and theses. In case of non-English documents, descriptive data [Author, Title, Source etc.], abstract and keywords must be in English. Submitted documents will be placed into the submission buffer and would become part of OpenMED archive on their acceptance. The aim of OpenMED is to provide free service to academics, researchers, and students working in the area of Medical and Allied Sciences. We expect it to promote self-archiving and open access to papers / scholarly publications in these fields.' For more information, see the About page.
The presentations from the University of Minho Open Access Conference (Braga, Portugal, May 12-13, 2005), are now online. (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)
Dibya Sarkar, NOAA offers access to new radar data, Federal Computer Week, May 16, 2005. Excerpt: 'The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has developed Java-based software that allows public- and private-sector organizations to better browse and view radar data archived at the agency's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) Web site. Federal agencies, scientific and academic communities, and possibly emergency management officials will be able to use the interactive viewer and data exporter applications to quickly analyze more information from the Next Generation Weather Radar (Nexrad) system. Some information will be available in real time. For example, users can overlay Nexrad data with Census Bureau data to analyze who and what was affected by a hurricane....Jointly administered by the National Weather Service (NWS), Air Force Weather Agency and Federal Aviation Administration, Nexrad comprises about 159 Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler sites nationwide and overseas. Officials store data from the Doppler sites at NCDC and make it available to users for free.' (Thanks to Patrice McDermott.)
Patrice McDermott of the ALA Washington office has written an excellent overview of the controversy between the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) and the NIH's PubChem. Excerpt: 'The American Chemical Society is calling on Congress to shut down the NIH's PubChem, a freely accessible database on small organic molecules. PubChem is an important component of NIH's Molecular Libraries Initiative, which is a key element of the NIH "road map" for medical research. ACS claims that PubChem competes with Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS). In reality, PubChem and the Chemical Abstracts Service databases are complementary, not duplicative....A bedrock NIH principle is that medical research information developed with public funds must be made freely and publicly available for the good of advancing medical research to cure disease....PubChem provides free access to its database; CAS charges a fee for researchers to use its database. ACS has demanded that NIH shut down PubChem or substantially alter it so as not to compete with CAS....NIH staff analysis shows that PubChem and CAS overlap relatively little in terms of content. PubChem and CAS differ widely in scope and resources.'
On April 25, 2005, the Case Western Reserve Faculty Senate Library Committee submitted a report on open access to the Faculty Senate. The report includes a proposed resolution on OA. Excerpt from the resolution: '[T]he Faculty Senate urges the University and its members to  Support Open Access publishing in their educational, research, editorial, and administrative roles by encouraging their professional societies to move toward Open Access publishing, aiding in forming and providing editorial assistance to peer-reviewed Open Access journals, and favoring such journals when submitting their own research;  Encourage the University's libraries to reallocate resources away from high-priced publishers;  Support the consideration of peer-reviewed Open Access material during the promotion and tenure process;  Post their work prior to publication in an open digital archive and seek to retain particular copyright rights enabling them to post their published work in a timely fashion and provide institutional support to those seeking to do so; and  Establish infrastructure to sustain digital Open Access publication.'
(PS: I understand that the Faculty Senate adopted the resolution --unanimously but for one abstention. The stand-alone version of the resolution is not yet online.)
Update. A stand-alone version of the adopted text is now online.
Science Commons has launched a page on author self-archiving. Excerpt: 'We're focused a lot on open access to the scientific literature. And since we're copyright folks at Creative Commons, a lot of our work looks at standard licensing and approaches dealing with copyright. But we've pulled together a series of links on self-archiving, and I strongly encourage everyone to take a look. This is a small subset of available information but it's a good place to start exploring. In short...if you publish papers and have the right to make an archive copy, you should be using that right! It's easy and quick to self-archive using these resources. And as the research we link makes extremely clear, getting your work online dramatically increases the impact of your work.'
As a result of the recent CNI/JISC/SURF conference, Making the strategic case for institutional repositories (Amsterdam, May 10-11, 2005), six major research organizations have signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access: JISC, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), and the Universities of Amsterdam, Leiden, Utrecht, and Wageningen. (Thanks to Georg Botz.)
Update. The Delft University of Technology has now signed as well.
Alma Swan has posted a very useful comment to my May 14 BMJ article on self-archiving. Her comment gives us a glimpse of her latest findings on author attitudes and practices (soon to be published at greater length). Excerpt: 'We know, for example, that 49% of authors have undertaken some form of self-archiving behaviour, placing copies of their articles on their personal or departmental websites (27% of authors have done this), in their institutional repository (20% of authors have done this) or in a subject-based repository (12% of authors have done this). We know, too, that the number of people doing these things has grown in the last year since we carried out a previous, similar, survey: for example, the 20% of authors who have now deposited a published article in their institutional repository compares to only 10% twelve months ago. The proportion of authors now who are not aware of the possibility of providing open access through self-archiving is 31%....[O]f all the sources of information about self-archiving, word-of-mouth from peers was the most common (23% of authors found out about the practice that way). This suggests that as time goes on the good-news message about increased impact and citations for open access articles filtering further through the research community will have its own outcome in increased self -archiving activity....[Authors who know about self-archiving but don't do it] are presently discouraged mainly because they think it will take up time or that it will be technically difficult. Data from authors who do self-archive show that it takes a few minutes to deposit an article in a repository and that once this has been done for the first time only 9% of authors subsequently find any degree of difficulty with the process at all....[T]here is a positive correlation between the number of papers authors publish per year and the level of their self-archiving activity. Some authors - very productive authors - are extremely determined to get their work out there and are seizing this simple and effective opportunity to get it noticed.'
Free UK online health journal planned, E-Health Insider, May 17, 2005. Where this unsigned story departs from other published reports, it makes mistakes. For example, PMC is not a journal but a repository. Moreover, PMC is funded by US taxpayers, not by author fees.
Richard Wray, Britain a leader in making research available on web, The Guardian, May 17, 2005. Excerpt: 'Britain is in the vanguard of the drive to make academic research freely available to anyone over the internet, according to new research. Creating online archives of research already published in traditional journals is part of a move towards open access in academia, a movement backed by scholars and charities including the Wellcome Trust. While the United States has more open-access archives - 127 - than any other country and Britain is second with 54, Sweden has the most archives relative to its population. By this measure, Britain is third and the US is in 10th place. The figures, compiled by Stevan Harnad, a professor at Southampton University, and his doctoral student Tim Brody, come as Britain's eight public research funders prepare to rule on open access. In March, Research Councils UK (RCUK), which brings together the Economic and Social Research Council, the Medical Research Council and six others on policy issues, consulted university heads on the potential impact of open access. Its position is expected to be made public within days and proponents of open access hope that RCUK will follow the lead of Scottish universities and research funders by giving a major boost to open-access archives. Earlier this year, all Scotland's universities pledged to set up online research libraries. Research funders, it recommended, should make it a condition of grants that any articles produced through funded research should be made freely available on the internet. The Scottish move is similar to recommendations made by MPs on the science and technology select committee last year. The government, however, largely ignored the advice. Despite this apparent setback, moves to make British research more widely available continue. This month some of Britain's leading medical research funders, including Wellcome and the British Heart Foundation, got together to finance the country's most comprehensive online repository of medical knowledge, UK PubMed Central. Efforts by French and Dutch research institutions have created similar online archives.'
Update. Part of Wray's article is a rank-ordering of nations by OA archiving activity. Stevan Harnad has posted a correction to that part of Wray's article.
The NIH has named the 17 members of the Public Access Working Group. The list is a mix of friends and foes of OA. If you recall, the public-access policy (Section II.F) sets up the working group in order to "advise NIH/NLM on implementation and assess progress in meeting the goals of the NIH Public Access Policy. Once the system is operational, modifications and enhancements will be made as needed with the Working Group, or a permanent subcommittee of the Board, providing ongoing advice on improvements."
A. Jay Block, Richard S. Irwin, and Stephen J. Welch, The NIH Public Access Policy, CHEST, May 2005. Excerpt: 'This editorial is intended to state the position of CHEST and its publisher/parent society, the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), in response to the NIH Public Access Policy. This NIH policy will affect authors whose NIH-funded research has been accepted for publication in CHEST....The NIH policy dictates that the PI is responsible for the final approval of the materials submitted to the PubMed Central repository. CHEST and other publishers have long believed that as the owners of the copyrighted material and holders of the final, peer-reviewed, copyedited, published article files, it would be easiest for all involved if the publishers could oversee the process from start to finish. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and the NIH policy firmly puts the onus on the PI....Because the PI, during the deposit process, must stipulate when the manuscript will be made freely available to the public on PubMed Central, there is the potential for violation of the copyright agreement between the PI and coauthors, and journals. CHEST wants to alert PIs to this potential pitfall....PIs may inadvertently choose a time frame that makes the article free on the NIH PubMed Central site sooner than a journal’s policy allows. This would be in violation of the journal's copyright policies, putting the PI in an awkward position..... If authors abide by CHEST's policy of making articles free online in the NIH repository 12 months after publication, this will not only satisfy CHEST's copyright agreement but also the NIH policy....Because the NIH policy instructs the PIs to deposit the accepted, peer-reviewed manuscript upon its acceptance by the journal, there is a risk that the PI will deposit an inaccurate version of the manuscript....Therefore, a number of journals, including CHEST, have modified their copyright statements and added disclaimers so that journals are not held responsible for uncorrected deposited content. Our revised statement and disclaimer appear in our Instructions to Authors as well as on the journal Web site....Because the NIH policy is voluntary, we believe that a better alternative would be for the PI to wait until the final, edited manuscript is published by the journal, and then submit that file to the NIH at that time. This brief delay will not prevent PIs from meeting the requirement of the NIH and CHEST of depositing the accepted manuscript within 12 months of its acceptance. CHEST is implementing a policy that we will provide the final, edited, PDF file to the PI if PIs request it. We hope PIs will consider this option because it is in the best interest of everyone. The most accurate version of the article is the one that should be made available to the public.'
Rudy M. Baum, More Socialized Science, Chemical & Engineering News, May 16, 2005. Excerpt: 'As readers of this page are aware, I have almost no use at all for the open-access movement. Open access at its most extreme is a shell game, the unstated goal of which is to transfer responsibility for publishing and archiving the scientific literature from the private sector to the federal government. Open access starts with the axiom that scientific information should be free. This axiom is taken by advocates as so obvious and so righteous that it needs no further explication. It is the raison d'être of the open-access movement. Let me propose a parallel axiom: BMWs should be free. They’re great cars, safe and fun to drive. Cost should not be a factor in determining whether every citizen has access to a BMW. I hereby proclaim the open access to BMWs movement. The federal government and BMW dealers should join forces to ensure that every U.S. citizen has a free BMW....For all of their posturing about the public, open-access advocates are motivated by a deep antipathy toward the private sector and the firm belief that the federal government, not the private sector, should control scientific publishing. They are, in fact, advocating socialized science. In the more extreme open-access scenarios, such as ones now being developed by the National Library of Medicine, this goal is explicit and the federal government itself becomes the publisher and archivist of the scientific and technical literature.' (Thanks to Lila Guterman.)
(PS: If the creators of BMW's didn't expect to be paid, if the costs were already paid by taxpayers, and if the distribution could be done over the internet at costs approaching zero, then free BMW's might be a good idea. But until then it's just a bad analogy. For the rest, I'll repeat what I said the last time Rudy Baum called OA socialist: 'Baum overlooks the fact that the NIH plan is only about disseminating articles that have already been accepted by independent, i.e. non-governmental, peer-reviewed journals. He forgets that nothing in the plan tells scientists what to study or what to conclude, and nothing in it tells journals what to publish or how to conduct peer review. He forgets that the directive to the NIH to develop this plan was adopted unanimously by two Republican-controlled committees. He also forgets what socialism is. The NIH plan does not expropriate private property for public use, but provides public access to publicly-funded research. It does not even deny property rights in these works by individual authors or journals. Let's get back to the subject.')
Sophie L. Rovner, Opening Access: Publishers weigh the risks and benefits of free online journal access, Chemical and Engineering News, May 16, 2005. A report on the proceedings of the October 2004 workshop sponsored by the Chemical Sciences Roundtable on the question, Are Chemical Journals Too Expensive and Inaccessible? (See the previous blog entry.) Excerpt: 'The workshop was designed to address whether chemical journals are too expensive and inaccessible. Nicholas R. Cozzarelli, a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and editor-in-chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was among the attendees who responded to this question with a hearty "yes" and who think that the expense and inaccessibility present a serious problem. The solution, Cozzarelli believes, is open access....On the other hand, others believe that open access is a solution in want of a problem. As Heindel put it at the workshop, "Chemists in general feel they have adequate access" to journals. "We're not in a crisis mode."...The argument that professional societies need journal profits to help fund their other programs doesn't wash with Cozzarelli. "It's a kind of extortion," he said at the workshop. A subscriber who wants the content of one of the society journals is forced to support these other programs, whether or not the subscriber wants to....ACS finds itself in an interesting dilemma, with some of its representatives pushing for open access and others hating the very thought. Charles P. Casey--who was ACS president at the time of the workshop and is now immediate past-president--was obviously reluctant to disclose his personal opinion at the National Academies workshop. When attendees pushed him to do so, he voiced his support of open access, no doubt startling some at the meeting. "Speaking for myself," he added, "I'd like to see ACS [give] more access to our journals than we have now. I'm lobbying for that internally."...If open-access journals are to succeed in chemistry and physics, it's quite possible that authors will have to drop their opposition to page charges, and they may even have to agree to manuscript submission charges.'
Ned Heindel, Tina Masciangioli, and Eva von Shaper (eds.), Are Chemical Journals Too Expensive and Inaccessible? National Academies Press, 2005. An OA book summarizing the proceedings from the October 2004 workshop of the same name sponsored by the Chemical Sciences Roundtable. The entire discussion implicates OA at least indirectly. But see pp. 24-28 for the participants' direct comments on OA.
Laura Wales, Open Access Trail, Student Direct, May 15, 2005. A short note on the Oxford Open: 'Attempts to make scientific, medical and academic research freely available over the internet were encouraged last week as Oxford University Press widened its trial of open access publishing. Publishers and academics have been debating the benefits of open access for years, with many critics claiming that this could destroy Britain's publishing community. However, new plans were announced on Friday to release thousands of law reports and judgements for free on the internet while other publishers have also been experimenting with open access. Oxford University Press have allowed authors in some of their journals to pay for their articles to be available on the web for free as soon as they are published. They have also allowed authors to post articles on their own websites a year after original publication. Martin Richardson of Oxford Journals, part of Oxford University Press, said that this "will allow us to collect valuable first-hand data on the demand for open access" and has been welcomed by students. Medical student Joanne Briggs told Student Direct that "this should really help us with research and our course in general. I just wish they'd done this sooner".'
Richard Poynder, Cream of Science, Open and Shut, May 16, 2005. Excerpt: 'A new Open Access initiative was launched at a meeting in Amsterdam last week. The brainchild of the Dutch national organisation on Open Access (SURF), the "Cream of Science" (Keur der Wetenschap) web site was created to "shop window" the work of the top ten scientists at Dutch universities. While all universities in the Netherlands now have an institutional repository in which their researchers can deposit their papers, the aim of the new web site is to give self-archiving a boost. That objective is clearly being met: all the scientists invited agreed to take part, and with the number of papers per author posted ranging from 3 to around 1,200, a total of 25,000 papers have already been archived. Where the papers were still only available in print form they have been scanned into an electronic format....Indeed, the initiative has been greeted with such enthusiasm that other authors at Dutch research institutions are demanding that their work also be included. So great was demand, in fact, that the web site rapidly became overloaded, and there is now a waiting list of 200 Dutch scientists clamouring to have their work showcased in this way.'
Barbara Quint, Library Collections Linked on Google Scholar for Free, Information Today, May 16, 2005. Excerpt: 'The Google Scholar project, which launched in November 2004, has responded to the complaints of many academic and research librarians by expanding its usefulness for campus-based users. Its new institutional access feature links Google Scholar users to electronic versions --and even print versions-- of journals accessible through library collections. Any library using OpenURLs and meeting Google Scholar's conditions can join the program. Authorization of "appropriate copy" to individual library patrons, "on-campus or off," remains the library's electronic responsibility. Unlike many commercial information services, Google offers the institutional link resolving at its usual attractive rate --free. Within days of the announcement, a reported 150 libraries had joined....John McDonald, acquisitions librarian at the California Institute of Technology's library, a member of the pilot project, said that any library already using a link resolver would probably find connecting to Google Scholar easy. McDonald pointed out that a study had shown that the restricted (DOI/PMID only) linking previously offered in Google Scholar only reached a third of its citations. Under the new institutional access, almost all of the journal titles would be reached. However, he did point out that other material in Google Scholar, e.g., conference proceedings or theses and dissertations, would still not link to library collections. Achaya also confirmed that the full text of books remained largely unavailable through Google Scholar. Not only does it have no plans to integrate Google Print holdings, even though millions of books will soon start coming online through the Google Print library project (Google-brary?), but even holdings of primary material, e.g., the massive public domain content in Project Gutenberg, are only available through the main Google search. McDonald considered the main Google service as still offering the bulk of Google Scholar’s content plus, in many cases, more material.'
Jeanne Lenzer, Medical societies react against public access to findings, BMJ, May 14, 2005. Excerpt: 'An initiative of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to make the results of publicly funded research freely accessible to the public has triggered a backlash....The American Society of Hematology and the American Association for Cancer Research sent statements to members emphasising, "The NIH policy is a request; it is NOT a requirement." In an editorial in Blood James George, president of the American Society of Hematology, wrote, "Because NIH does not own the intellectual property of its grantees, it cannot enforce compliance." Harold Varmus, a Nobel laureate, former director of the NIH, and board member of the free access Public Library of Science, agreed that there were problems with the NIH policy. "The NIH policy is an imperfect policy and should have been stated in a stronger fashion. Researchers should be expected, not just encouraged, to do this," he said. "I applaud the NIH for taking some positive steps, but I'm not sure it's going to work if societies react this way. Most scientists are oblivious to or fearful of their rights as authors. If they think cooperating with the NIH policy causes any extra grief or difficulty with the journal they won't do it." '