Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, June 11, 2005

AAHSL supports PubChem

The Association of Academic and Health Science Libraries has publicly released its June 7 letter in support of PubChem. Excerpt: 'I am writing on behalf of the Association of Academic and Health Science Libraries (AAHSL). AAHSL represents 128 libraries located at the nation's academic health centers responsible for training physicians andother health care professionals, providing clinical care, and conducting NIH-funded and other research. We want to express our enthusiastic support fo continuation of PubChem, a chemical database of immense importance to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). PubChem represents a vital next step for NIH in leveraging its investment in the Human Genome Project, integrating output from the Molecular Libraries Screening Center Netwowrk (MLSCN) and other publicly available data sources, such as NIH's protein structure resources and records of biomedical literature within PubMed and available full-text in the PubMed Central digital archive. PubChem is a powerful tool...that will...lead to medical breakthroughs for clinical treatment of diseases....We believe that [the ACS] concern is unfounded and that the American public is well served by continued development and maintenance of PubChem. By ensuring that publicly financed knowledge is broadly accessible, NIH is enhancing the return on public investment in research and stimulating further innovation by public and private scientific enterprises....It is a mistake to endanger the promise of the [NIH] Roadmap by imposing restrictions on Pubchem that fundamentally undermine its utility. There is simply too much at stake.'

ATA broadening its mission to support OA

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access was formed in August 2004 to support the NIH policy. Now that the NIH policy has been adopted, the ATA is broadening its mission. Originally the ATA rested on three principles calling for OA to publicly-funded medical research through the NIH. Now it rests on four principles calling for OA to publicly-funded scientific research of all kinds. The change will allow the ATA to defend PubChem against the ACS and to push for OA to research funded by other US agencies, such as the NSF. The member-organizations of the ATA are a wide range of US universities, libraries, and public-interest non-profits. If your US-based organization is not a member, please urge it consider joining.

June issue of Access

The June issue of Access Magazine is now online. This issue features an interview with Mark Robertson (President of Blackwell Publishing Asia) on Blackwell's OA experiments and a summary of the Kaufman-Wills study of OA journals. Excerpt from the Robertson interview: 'It is safe to say that the open access model will challenge the status quo, but it is too early to reach any other conclusions. The number of open access journals is small, the definition of what is an open access journal is not unanimously agreed, and Blackwell and other publishers are experimenting with new models, e.g. Online Open....[By permitting author self-archiving, is Blackwell undermining its fee-based OA option?] The article which will be used by authors for self archiving will be the final article, identical to the published article in the journal...Prior to publication the manuscript will have been peer reviewed by the journal's academic editor and consequently improved and made acceptable for publication in the journal according to its editorial policy and standards. Thereafter Blackwell Publishing will have edited, formatted and improved the structure and presentation of the finished article and applied the necessary tagging for the article to be accessed online and to be interactive with other databases. In the traditional subscription model for journals the cost of this work is covered by the subscriptions paid by the library and individual subscribers, supplemented by advertising and other income. In the Online Open model the charge per article, currently fixed at USD2,500 goes towards covering the cost of publication.'

House Subcommittee sides with PubChem against ACS

Jocelyn Kaiser, House Approves 0.5% Raise for NIH, Science Magazine, June 10, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). On the appropriations bill for 2006 from the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. Excerpt: 'A House panel yesterday approved a 0.5% increase in the 2006 budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The $142.3 million increase, to $28.5 billion, matches the Bush Administration's request....The House subcommittee also appears to have sided with NIH in its fight with the American Chemical Society (ACS) over PubChem, a new NIH database holding data on biologically active chemicals. ACS contends that PubChem duplicates its own subscription-based chemical database. This spring, the ACS attempted to persuade NIH to scale back its efforts (Science, 6 May 2005, p. 774) and took its case to subcommittee chair Ralph Regula (R-OH), whose state is home to the headquarters of the ACS database. In the end, a report accompanying the House bill does not ask the agency to restrict the scope of the database, but instead "urges NIH to work with private sector providers to avoid unnecessary duplication and competition with private sector chemical databases." Supporters of PubChem see the House language as a victory for NIH.' (Thanks to Steve Heller.)

Interview with OSI's Melissa Hagemann

Richard Poynder interviews Melissa Hagemann in Open and Shut, June 10, 2005. Melissa is the Program Manager of the Open Access Project (OAP) at the Open Society Institute (OSI). The interview is detailed, wide-ranging, and difficult to excerpt. It covers the origin of the Budapest Open Access Initiative and the Directory of Open Access Journals, as well as OSI's past and future involvement in the OA movement (disclosure: including its funding of me).

Q: What would you say have been the big wins for the OA movement since the Budapest meeting, and what have been the big disappointments?

A: Since the launch of the BOAI, I would say there have been many more victories for the OA movement than disappointments. From OSI's perspective, we were thrilled when the HHMI held the Bethesda meeting [resulting in the Bethesda Statement], as well as Max Planck's interest in OA and the launch of the Berlin Declaration. Also of note was the Wellcome Trust's report and Wellcome's subsequent involvement in the OA movement, the UK enquiry, the NIH proposal (although not necessarily the final policy which emerged), OUP's adoption of the hybrid model for the Journal of Nucleic Acids, BioMed Central's launch of over 100 OA journals, and the $9 million grant from the Moore foundation to Public Library of Science, to name just a few. Clearly the UK government’s response and the current version of the NIH policy are somewhat disappointing, but on the whole the movement has accomplished a great deal in only a few years.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Version 58 of the Bailey bibliography

Charles W. Bailey Jr. has released version 58 of his monumental Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new version cites over 2,420 print and online articles, books, and other sources on scholarly electronic publishing.

OA resolution introduced at Oregon State U

On May 19, the Scholarly Communications Task Force at Oregon State University submitted a resolution endorsing open access to the Faculty Senate. From an unsigned news story in OSU This Week for May 19, 2005: 'The cost to buy journals for the OSU Libraries is continuing to skyrocket, which is causing a decline in the number of serial titles purchased and made available for faculty and student use, according to a report of the Scholarly Communications Task Force. The report, as well as a resolution, will be presented at today’s Faculty Senate meeting by Taskforce chairperson, Patricia Wheeler, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences...."For years, the problem of the escalating costs of serials was protested by the library community," said task force member Ken Winograd of the College of Education. "It is only in the past several years that professors and researchers have come to understand that this is a problem for the whole university. At stake is the open and affordable access to knowledge as well as the question of ownership." Technology has enabled a variety of alternatives to the high priced commercial publications that weren’t possible in the paper environment. Among those alternatives are open access journals (peer reviewed journals that are freely available via the web) and pre-print archives. A key element of these alternatives is that the author maintains copyright and control of their work....The task force recommends that professional societies should maintain control of journal pricing and access policies; researchers/authors should choose outlets for their publications with an awareness of fair pricing and open access; faculty as participants in the university peer review system should support non-profit society publications and open access publications; and university faculty are encouraged to not participate as reviewers for high-priced commercial journals. The task force is recommending the Senate pass a resolution on the matter. The resolution states:
  1. That the Senate supports the principle of open access to scholarly research;
  2. That the Senate urges the university to advance new models for scholarly publishing and electronic dissemination of scholarly works that will promote open access, helping to reshape the marketplace in which scholarly ideas circulate, in a way that is consistent with standards of peer review and scholarly excellence;
  3. That the Senate urges the university to monitor and resist efforts to impose digital rights management regimes and technologies that obstruct or limit open access, except as necessary to secure rights of privacy;
  4. That the Senate urges the scholars of Oregon State University to play a part in these open-access and affordable-access endeavors in their various capacities as authors, readers, editors, referees and members of scientific boards and learned associations, (a) by encouraging and collaborating with publishers' efforts to advance open access, (b) by retaining intellectual property rights in their own work where this will help it become more widely available, and (c) by remaining alert to efforts by publishers to impose barriers on access to the fruits of scholarly research.'

(PS: The minutes of the meeting are not yet online. I'm trying to find out whether the Faculty Senate approved the resolution.)

Update. I just learned from Patricia Wheeler, chairperson of the OSU Scholarly Communications Task Force, that the Faculty Senate approved the resolution yesterday, June 9, "by a great majority, only one dissenting vote."

New issue of Research Information on OA journals

The May/June issue of Research Information is devoted to open-access publishing. Here are the articles:

Elsevier wants to improve relations with libraries

Mark Chillingworth, Elsevier seeks to build bridges, Information World Review, June 10, 2005. Excerpt: 'The new director of library relations at Elsevier, Tony McSean, has admitted that it needs to improve relationships with information professionals, and is calling for a new era of co-operation. Relationships between Elsevier and academic libraries reached a nadir in the winter of 2003/04, when a raft of US universities - including Cornell, Harvard and the University of California - rebelled against escalating journal costs and cut their subscription levels dramatically. Since then, Elsevier has been trying to mend fences, but McSean - former director of the British Medical Association library - acknowledges the challenge ahead. "The relationship is like a marriage, if you lose the trust, it is very hard to get back." In an exclusive interview with IWR, McSean said he has spent the last few months meeting library customers and listening to their concerns. "I have not spent the whole time being told what I want to hear," he said, adding: "We are held up as an example of what librarians hate; we take stick for the entire industry because we are visible." But McSean's version of Tony Blair's "masochism strategy" seeks to highlight pain on both sides of the relationship. "Libraries are suffering budget cuts," he said. "Information spend has not gone down, but the spend on libraries has. The crucial concern is that they are being given a job to do and not the money to do it." However, librarians should also appreciate Elsevier's side. He said: "Each scientific paper costs between $3/4,000 to publish. There is a perception that authors deliver finely honed copy, and all we do is make a PDF and sit surrounded by bags of gold that librarians give us."'

(PS: Librarians know that it's one-sided to focus on slow-growing library budgets and ignore fast-growing journal prices. Librarians know that it's one-sided to focus on Elsevier's high costs and ignore Elsevier's flabbergasting profits. My prediction is that Elsevier will not improve relations with librarians until it acknowledges what librarians know.)

SLA session on OA

Don Hawkins blogged the Special Libraries Association conference session on open access for the InfoToday SLA blog. Peter Suber was among the speakers.

Update: More notes on SLA's conference blog.

Guide to OA sources of US law

Gretchen Feltes, A Guide to the U. S. Federal Legal System: Web-based Public Accessible Sources, NYU Law School, April 2005. An extensive update to a 2003 article. Excerpt: 'This guide was originally prepared to be added with similar guides for legal research of many foreign jurisdictions. The intended audience was global in scope and one without access to the printed sources and fee-based databases in American federal law. Since its first publication I have come to realize that the audience includes many internet users who require reliable legal sources through publicly accessible web-based databases. Many of the materials here are recent and not comprehensive in scope and date coverage. The guide is not intended to supplant traditional sources of legal research. It is my hope that it serves as an introduction to the field and leads the user to a more comprehensive exploration of American federal law.' (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

"OA" has arrived

The term open access and the acronym OA have arrived. They have meanings outside the world of scholarly communication, but they have arrived. Acronyma is a new search engine for acronyms. Search for "OA" and it returns 15 names and phrases with those initials. Rank them by importance and Open Access comes out on top --ahead of Order of the Arrow, Olympic Airways, and operator algebras.

Google Scholar for clinicians

Jim Henderson, Google Scholar: A source for clinicians? Canadian Medical Association Journal, June 7, 2005. Excerpt: 'The ideal tool for finding clinical information would be a fast engine that provides the best hits from scholarly journal literature and clinical resources such as guidelines, perhaps emphasizing sites favoured by physicians in the way that Google emphasizes popular websites for general audiences. Busy clinicians would wish for succinct reviews and for the best evidence, with links to key papers that would be determined as such by the number of times they have been cited, thus balancing popularity with relevance and quality. Features enabling search refinement would be welcome, such as a tool to find related articles by subject or by using links or citations, including more recent articles that cite the retrieved items. Ideally, this engine would provide integrated, powerful access to many sources, including full-text journal literature and textbooks, evidence-based information, information for patients, and drug information, achieving for clinical sources what Google has for the entire public Internet. The current version of Google Scholar focuses on Internet sites that contain information that is critically appraised, such as the peer-reviewed journal literature, or that are produced by reputable sources, such as universities. Through agreements with publishers, Scholar accesses the "invisible" or "deep" Web, that is, commercial Web sites the automated "spiders" used by search engines such as Google cannot access. Using text analysis and the number of links from other sites, Scholar rapidly delivers a ranked listing, as Google does. Each item includes the number of links to it — in effect, a citation tracker, providing for free what interfaces such as Web of Science and Elsevier's Scopus provide at much cost. Scholar is collaborating with university libraries to develop a way to access full-text journals through institutional subscriptions, so that researchers and physicians affiliated with a university can go directly from a Scholar search to a full-text journal article if their university has a subscription to that journal. Also intriguing is the potential of future versions of Scholar to give free, efficient access to articles from commercial journals reproduced for open access on personal or institutional pages....There are shortcomings....' (Thanks to T.J. Sondermann.)

University of California criticizes ACS, supports PubChem

The University of California Academic Council has written an open letter to the ACS (June 7, 2005). Excerpt: 'In discussion with colleagues at the University of California and elsewhere we have come to understand that PubChem represents a vital next step for NIH in leveraging its investment in the human genome project by providing data on small molecules....By ensuring that publicly financed knowledge is broadly accessible on the Internet in this way, NIH is enhancing the return on public investment in research and stimulating further innovation by public and private scientific enterprises....[W]e are convinced through discussions with and analyses by colleagues that PubChem does not represent an imminent threat to CAS, that indeed science and the public are well-served by continued development of PubChem and, further, that ACS is missing an opportunity to work creatively and collaboratively with NIH and others to create complementary, affordable services in direct support of its charter of "encouraging the advancement of chemistry."...At the University of California, as elsewhere, faculty are carefully considering the challenges and opportunities to strengthen scholarly communication systems. It is well understood that current systems for the dissemination of scholarship are economically unsustainable. We believe that scholars, universities, societies, research funders, and publishers must work together to address the economic dysfunctions and reinvent scholarly publishing systems that are healthy, equitable, and sustainable. We are concerned that the ACS is not providing the leadership toward sustainable scholarly communication systems that we might expect of our best scholarly societies. In addition to the unwarranted action against PubChem, your explicit declaration that "the principle sources of funding for the Society's activities include net revenues generated by the Publications Division and the Chemical Abstracts Service Division," and the associated hyperinflationary 9% annual price increases of your publications and services, leads us to believe that revenue generation is a higher priority than "increasing and diffusing chemical knowledge." University of California faculty members have authored or co-authored over 2,300 articles in ACS publications in the last 2 ½ years alone. Seventy-two UC faculty hold ACS journal editorial positions and a number serve on ACS committees and sections. In addition to expressing our concerns to you directly, we are encouraging these faculty members to discover the facts, discuss the issue with colleagues, and let ACS know their preferences. In the meantime we sincerely hope you will work with the society’s membership to rethink your position on PubChem and to establish ACS as a proactive and creative contributor to the evolution of economically sustainable scholarly communication systems.'

Update. Also see the UC Academic Council's open letter to Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH), making the same argument in support of PubChem against the lobbying of ACS.

Information sharing for public health

The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation has awarded a grant to the NIH's National Library of Medicine (NLM) to administer training programs at four universities in sharing information to advance public health. From Wednesday's press release: 'Without strong systems for gathering, using, and sharing information, federal, state and local public health offices cannot adequately detect disease outbreaks, notify the public of emerging health problems or promote sound health practices. Recognizing the importance of this issue, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) will administer a $3.68 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to develop tomorrow's public health leaders in the science of public health informatics...."The health of our communities is threatened if we cannot effectively analyze and share critical information among public health agencies, hospitals and community health providers," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and chief executive officer of the RWJF. "This collaboration will help prepare new leaders to be the architects of sophisticated information systems that can help public health officials respond to emergencies and save lives."...The grant will support program development at the selected training sites as well as stipends, tuition and other trainee expenses. "In this day and age, no public health agency can work in isolation," said Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D., director of the National Library of Medicine. "Through this program we will help put information sharing at the center of efforts to connect all public health agencies."'

(PS: The press release does not mention OA. But if OA is not part of a serious program in information sharing, then something is wrong.)

Milestone for the DOAJ

This morning the Directory of Open Access Journals logged its 1600th open-access, peer-reviewed journal.

Open for business

The new OA Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry (first blogged here March 13, 2005) is now ready to accept submissions.

More on the ACS v. PubChem

Emma Marris, Chemistry society goes head to head with NIH in fight over public database, Nature, June 9, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'Many chemists might not know it, but the organization that represents them in the United States is fighting to limit their free access to chemical information. The American Chemical Society says that a new publicly funded database of molecules threatens its own fee-based Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), and it is lobbying politicians to restrict the free version. But it is having trouble convincing members that this is in their interests....PubChem, a free database launched by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) last September, threatens CAS's monopoly. It is smaller, containing 650,000 molecules so far compared with CAS's 25 million. And it is aimed more at biologists, linking to information such as gene sequences, and related papers in the NIH's PubMed archive of biomedical journals....But it is growing. On 25 May, records were added from NMRShiftDB, a database of chemicals' nuclear magnetic resonance spectra, and from Nature Chemical Biology, which requires all authors to submit their data to PubChem. Other sources are likely to follow....To try to limit PubChem to information produced by NIH researchers, the ACS has been working with lawmakers in Ohio, where CAS employs almost 1,300 people. In particular, it has lobbied congressman Ralph Regula (Republican, Ohio), the chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that allocates money to the NIH. The society's efforts have intensified ahead of this week's expected debut of the 2006 House Appropriations bill that outlines the agency's proposed budget. As Nature went to press, the draft bill was due on 9 June. An official report accompanying the bill was expected to ask the NIH to limit PubChem to data produced by its own efforts. The report is not legally binding, but if the bill is passed it would be difficult for the NIH to ignore...."Most of the [ACS] members I've spoken to are kind of upset about [the ACS position]," says [Chris] Reed [a chemist at the University of California at Riverside]. He is drafting a letter to Chemical & Engineering News, an ACS publication, to complain about the society's actions....The University of California is disseminating information on the quarrel to its chemists, along with suggestions for action, and Regula's phone number. Meanwhile, a group of European chemists, including Peter Murray Rust of the University of Cambridge, UK, is taking a different approach. Worried that researchers elsewhere would lose out if information is removed from the NIH site, they are discussing setting up a European-funded mirror of the site with PubChem, which the US government would have no power to restrict.'

Webcast on Google Library project

On June 15, EDUCause will host a webcast, Google's Library Digitization Project: Reports from Michigan and Oxford, featuring John Wilkin from Michigan and Reginald Carr from Oxford. Registration required. From the site: 'Late last year, Google announced agreements with five major libraries (Harvard, the University of Michigan, the New York Public Library, Oxford University, and Stanford University) to embark on a massive digitization project, holding out the promise of online full-text searching and expanded digital access for tens of millions of volumes. The Google project envisions a major shift not only in the way library resources are delivered to patrons but also in digital technologies and culture. Each of the five participating libraries negotiated its own terms and schedule with Google. During this session, Wilkin (University of Michigan) and Carr (Oxford University) will discuss the project's history as well as future plans and dreams.' (Thanks to Clifford Lynch.)

T.B. Rajashekar

Dr. T.B. Rajashekar, a leader of the OA movement in India, died in a car accident on June 3. Here's a short obituary by Vikas Kamat:
Dr. T.B. Rajashekar who was serving as Associate Chairman, National Center for Science Information (NCSI) at the Indian Institute of Science died in an automobile accident last week.

A brilliant information scientist, Dr. Rajashekhar had recent years spearheaded the Institutional Repositories Movement in India as part of Open Access (OA) Movement. His articles on Digital Libraries and Metadata aggregation were both educational and inspiring. In fact I was browsing through his article "Towards a Global Digital Library for Education and Research" published in "Turning Pages --Reflections in Info-times" when I got the news.

Rajashekar obtained his doctorate in library and information science from University of Pune. Prior to joining NCSI, he had worked at National Informatics Center (New Delhi), at the British Council Library, and as a consultant to UNESCO on e-learning systems. He was the architect of the J-Gate electronic journals management and access system popular in India.

We will miss him.

Update. Also see the longer obituary by Subbiah Arunachalam and N. Balakrishnan.

Call for OA in particle physics

Ken Peach, Join the open-access revolution, CERN Courier, June-August, 2005. Excerpt: 'There is a quiet revolution under way in academic publishing that will change how we publish and access scientific knowledge. "Open access", made possible by new electronic tools, will give enormous benefits to all readers by providing free access to research results. The scientific articles published in journals under the traditional publishing paradigm are paid for through subscriptions by libraries and individuals, creating barriers for those unable to pay. The ever-increasing cost of the traditional publishing methods means that many libraries in Europe and the US - even the CERN Library, which is supposed to serve international researchers at a centre of excellence - are unable to offer complete coverage of their core subjects....An obvious prerequisite for open access is that institutions implement a policy requiring their researchers to deposit a copy of all their published works in an open-access repository. The Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils' library committee in the UK sponsored such a project, ePubs, with the aim of achieving an archive of the scientific output of CCLRC in the form of journal articles, conference papers, technical reports, e-prints, theses and books, containing the full text where possible (CERN Courier, May 2005 p44). The feasibility study, carried out from January to March 2003, demonstrated the business need for this service within the organization. The data, going back to the mid-1960s, can be retrieved using the search interface or the many browse indices, which include year, author and journal title. In addition the ePubs system is today indexed by Google and Google Scholar. The scientific content of the system has further led Thomson ISI (the provider of information resources including Web of Knowledge and Science Citation Index) to classify ePubs as a high-quality resource. The next step is to encourage the researchers - while of course fully respecting their academic freedom - to publish their research articles in open-access journals where a suitable journal exists....If a change is wanted, it is up to us. Particle physics cannot change the world alone, but a clear position among our authors and our members of editorial boards will have a strong synergy with our colleagues pulling in the same direction in other fields.' Peach is the Chair of the CERN Scientific Policy Committee. (Thanks to Jens Vigen.)

Launch of an OA portal and search engine for science

Deep Web Technologies has launched the beta version of, 'a free, publicly available web portal allowing access to numerous scientific journals and public science databases.' From yesterday's press release: '[A] single query will search thousands of high quality journals and databases, effectively millions of documents, in real-time. Additionally, powered by DWT's proprietary QuickRank(TM) technology, the results are conveniently ranked by relevance on a single results page. " is an extension of the work we have accomplished deploying a number of highly visible search portals for the federal government," said Abe Lederman, President and CTO of Deep Web Technologies...."With our next release of, the automation of the search and notification processes of pertinent science data, an individual is kept up-to-date on the latest breakthroughs in that field. In the past, the general public has had to rely on individual queries of numerous journals and web sites. Now, they have the capability of accessing these journals, databases and web sites through a single portal without the hassle of navigating each individual search page interface and authentication sequence." Roger Rios, Director of Business Development, added, "Please allow me to emphasize that basic service is free to the public. By the end of the year will have the advanced features that Abe mentioned, namely Alerts and Personal Libraries, which may be subscribed to for a nominal monthly or yearly fee. will serve as the core engine for customized solutions for more sophisticated but cost-sensitive users, such as public and university libraries."'

Charging processing fees, soliciting long articles on method

Carl Phillips, Introducing article-processing charges and inviting "detailed methods sections" articles, Epidemiologic perspectives & innovations, June 7, 2005. An editorial. Excerpt: 'Epidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations (EP&I) is published by BioMed Central (BMC), an independent publisher committed to ensuring peer-reviewed research is Open Access -- that it is universally and freely available online to everyone and its authors retain copyright. In order to fund the publication of the journal while fulfilling our commitment to make all content of EP&I free to readers, the publisher and editors of the journal have introduced an article-processing charge. Starting April 2005, authors of articles accepted for publication will be asked to pay a charge of £330 (currently approximately US$625 or €480). There is no charge if a submission is rejected. Authors at the many BMC member institutions receive an exemption from the fee....Waiver requests, particularly from authors with financial hardship, will be considered on a case-by-case basis....All articles are available for free to anyone with internet access. Readers are not limited by what their library can afford, and can easily access articles via web-based searches (using research databases or general web search engines), increasingly the most popular method for finding publications. This easier availability has been shown to make articles more highly cited. It also fulfills the requirements that are increasingly being imposed by funders to make the products of their funding publicly available....The online publishing model, combined with the mission of EP&I, allows us to provide a forum for articles that are unlikely to be published in paper journals [because of their length]....We welcome submissions that report in detail the methods that produced previously published results, or details of methods in advance of the publication of results....Since the purpose of this type of article is to provide enough detail to scrutinize or replicate a method, authors should include any detail that required a decision about study protocol or analysis method.'

Another OA journal success story

Matthew Cockerill, BMC Bioinformatics comes of age, BMC Bioinformatics, June 7, 2005. Excerpt: 'Almost exactly five years ago, in early June 2000, BMC Bioinformatics received its first submission. Five years on, it has received over a thousand submissions, and the journal is continuing to grow rapidly....In the past few months, developments have included a refreshed international editorial board, which now consists of over 50 leaders in the field, and a Bioinformatics and Genomics gateway that brings together relevant content from across BioMed Central's 130+ Open Access journals. And by the time you read this, BMC Bioinformatics should have its first official ISI Impact Factor....Looking back over the first 5 years of the journal, are any significant trends evident? One thing that is noticeable is the prevalence of the open-source model of software development. In fact more than 10% of all BMC Bioinformatics articles include the term "open-source". Hundreds of open-source bioinformatics projects are now hosted on sites such as and No doubt the similar philosophies of open-source software and Open Access publishing have been a factor in making BMC Bioinformatics one of BioMed Central's most successful journals....Imagine what could be achieved if articles, rather than consisting entirely of free-form natural language, contained explicit assertions about biological knowledge in unambiguous, machine-readable form. This is the oft-vaunted promise of the 'Semantic Web', but it has proved to be very difficult to realize in practice. Some recent developments, however, suggest that progress is being made. For example, this editorial was created using Publicon -- a new breed of scientific authoring tool developed by Wolfram Research with input from BioMed Central. Publicon...can not only output BioMed Central's native article XML format, but also embed mathematical equations as 'islands' of semantically-rich MathML.'

Major new Key Perspectives study of self-archiving

Alma Swan and Sheridan Brown, Open access self-archiving: An author study, Key Perspectives, May 2005. (Repository copy.) Another major (97 pp.) study from the scholars of scholarly communication at Key Perspectives. The six page Introduction is an excellent stand-alone primer on self-archiving and its benefits, answering the most common questions and objections.

From the executive summary: 'Almost half (49%) of the respondent population have self-archived at least one article during the last three years in at least one of the three possible ways — by placing a copy of an article in an institutional (or departmental) repository, in a subject-based repository, or on a personal or institutional website....[T]he main growth in self-archiving activity over the last year has been in these latter two more structured, systematic methods for providing open access. Use of institutional repositories for this purpose has doubled and usage has increased by almost 60% for subject-based repositories. Postprints (peer-reviewed articles) are deposited more frequently than preprints (articles prior to peer review) except in the longstanding self-archiving communities of physics and computer science....Self-archiving activity is greatest amongst the most prolific authors....There is still a substantial proportion of authors unaware of the possibility of providing open access to their work by self-archiving. Of the authors who have not yet self-archived any articles, 71% remain unaware of the option. With 49% of the author population having self-archived in some way, this means that 36% of the total author population (71% of the remaining 51%), has not yet been appraised of this way of providing open access....The findings here show that 20% of authors found some degree of difficulty with the first act of depositing an article in a repository, but that this dropped to 9% for subsequent depositions....Only 10% of authors currently know of the SHERPA/RoMEO list of publisher permissions policies with respect to self-archiving, where clear guidance as to what a publisher permits is provided....Almost all (98%) of authors use some form of bibliographic service to locate articles of interest in closed archives such as publisher websites, but only a much smaller proportion of people (up to 30%) are yet using the specialised OAI search engines to navigate the open access repositories. Nevertheless, at the time of this survey, 72% of authors were using Google to search the web for scholarly articles....The vast majority of authors (81%) would willingly comply with a mandate from their employer or research funder to deposit copies of their articles in an institutional or subject-based repository. A further 13% would comply reluctantly; 5% would not comply with such a mandate.'

From the Introduction: 'In a separate exercise to this present study, we asked the American Physical Society (APS) and the Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd (IOPP) what their experiences have been over the 14 years that arXiv has been in existence. We asked how many subscriptions have been lost as a result of arXiv. Both societies said they could not identify any losses of subscriptions for this reason....Moreover, both societies say that they do not view arXiv as a threat to their business (rather the opposite, in fact) and this is underlined by the fact that the APS helped establish an arXiv mirror site at the Brookhaven National Laboratory – hardly the action of a society with its back to the wall because of that repository.'

Thursday, June 09, 2005

UNESCO and a World Digital Library

John Daly, Should UNESCO Promote the Development of a World Digital Library? UNESCO News, June 9, 2005. Excerpt: 'The most interesting idea discussed at this week's meeting of the U.S. National Committee for UNESCO was the creation of a World Digital Library that would be available worldwide via the Internet. The idea was proposed by James Billington, Librarian of Congress. Several of the subcommittees of the National Commission recommended that the Department of State further consider submit a proposal to UNESCO that it play a lead role in the creation of such a library....With the intervention and support of UNESCO, it might well be possible to expand these models [like the Library of Congress' OA American Memory project] worldwide. Every country could create a national memory website, populated with digital versions of key source materials from its own history. Each nation could provide a gateway for its students and citizens. The gateways would be two directional, providing access to the world's memory from within the country, and to the country’s memory to those in other nations. This is a truly "big idea". There would be important problems to be solved of technology, property rights, coordination, and indeed organization of the information so that it would be available to the users.'

Google attracts book publishers

Stacy Cowley, Google woos publishers at Book Expo, IDG News Service, June 8, 2005. Excerpt: 'The publishing industry's top annual showcase and networking conference, Book Expo America (BEA), is a massive affair that brings together authors, publishers of all sizes, librarians, agents, distributors and virtually everyone else connected in any way to the book publishing field. This year, Google Inc. made its first appearance, using last week's show in New York to publicize its new Google Print venture and to recruit publishers into the fold....Unsurprisingly, Google was eager to spread the word at BEA about its tactics for protecting intellectual property. For example, only tiny snippets -- no more than a few lines -- of Library Project books still in copyright will be revealed to Web surfers. Web searchers receive greater access to books submitted by publishers and can view several pages at a time of those, but Google's software blocks users from seeing more than 20 percent of any individual, copyright-protected work. Google's booth drew steady traffic on Friday from publishers considering offering their books. Google's hook for publishers is that its service can be a marketing aid: Google Print hits turn up in the results displayed for searches at, potentially bringing relevant books to the attention of those who wouldn't otherwise discover them. Google also displays ads on its book-results pages and splits the revenue with the book's publisher. Per Aspera Press Publisher Karawynn Long stopped by the booth to enroll several books from her Seattle small press, which focuses on speculative fiction. She considered the intellectual-property implications of making Per Aspera's books available through the service, but decided the exposure Google offers is worth any risks involved in giving potential readers an advance peek.'

Lessig on the launch of the Open Access Law Project

From his blog posting yesterday: 'Following my whining about a copyright agreement I was asked by Minnesota Law Review to sign (and an update to that complaint: Minnesota was very gracious about changing the contract once I asked them), Dan Hunter of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and Michael Carroll of Villanova Law School, and on the Creative Commons board, began pulling together an Open Access Law Project, as part of the Science Commons....We were motivated to launch this project by the recognition that in fact, there is no substantial institutional resistance to open access publishing in law. The major commercial publishers of online journals, Lexis and Westlaw, don't require exclusivity. Any resistance is therefore primarily inertia. Our hope was to coordinate efforts to overcome this inertia, and make access to legal materials cheaper and more universal. Each part of this project will evolve as we learn more about how best to achieve these goals. We're looking for more feedback, and are opening a discussion list for input. You can help this project by encouraging other authors and journals to sign on. If you're a law student, then send an email to your professors asking them to join. The same with law journals you might have connections with. We are eager to establish a minimum set of Open Access Law standards quickly, so that others can begin to experiment with better, more ambitious, ideas.'

Profile of PLoS

Adam Penenberg, Academic Journals Open to Change, Wired News, June 9, 2005. Excerpt: 'Seven years ago, Michael Eisen, an assistant professor of genetics and development at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, proposed a program to link experimental data from his lab to relevant pieces of scientific literature. At the time, it seemed a no-brainer. Most scientific journals had begun publishing online, and Eisen believed a system to connect raw data to existing research might produce a multiplier effect. Scientists have always built on the work of other scientists, and he knew that the internet could have a profound impact on the pace of scientific discovery. He and his postdoctoral adviser, Pat Brown, fully expected cooperation from Stanford Library, which hosts a large number of scientific journals. "Instead," Eisen recalled, "we were told that the articles we wanted belonged to the publishers and we should basically piss off." It had never occurred to Eisen that publishers could own scientific literature. He was offended by the idea that scientists could be wronged by copyright. This went double for the public, whose tax dollars pay for much of the scientific research undertaken today. "All of a sudden, I saw how ridiculous this system was in the internet age," he said, "and I've been working to change it ever since." In October 2000, Eisen, Brown and Harold Varmus, a former director of the National Institutes of Health, co-founded the Public Library of Science, or PLoS....[Foundations and universities] pay the bulk of the $10 billion that goes to scientific and medical publishers each year, and what do they get in return? Limited access to the research they funded, and no right to reuse the information. "It's ridiculous to give publishers complete control of an invaluable resource that they had an extremely limited role in creating," Eisen said.'

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Medline citations will note NIH funding

To support the NIH public-access policy, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has added two new research support headings to the 2005 MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) vocabulary: (1) Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural and (2) Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural. The headings will be added to new Medline citations but not retroactively to existing citations. (Thanks to Gary Price.)

Update. See the article on the new MeSH headings in the June 15 issue of the NLM Technical Bulletin.

Scirus indexing OA repositories

Scirus, the academic search engine from Elsevier, has launched a Repository Search Service. From yesterday's press release: 'Elsevier today announced that its free science-specific search engine, Scirus, has launched Scirus Repository Search, a new service developed to support institutional repositories. T-Space, the University of Toronto's institutional repository, is Scirus' first collaboration. Scirus has added T-Space to its index and is also providing additional search capabilities on the T-Space website at no cost. The new initiative will make the intellectual output from the University of Toronto, the leading and most distinguished university in Canada, easier to find on both T-Space and the Scirus website. Scirus indexed the full-text of T-Space's complete repository, consisting of articles, datasets, preprints, presentations, technical reports and more. By optimizing its field capturing, Scirus allows users to search on all important bibliographical information such as author, title and keyword. As with all valuable sources, Scirus will brand the search results so that users can easily identify T-Space content in the results list...."Elsevier understands that an increasing amount of valuable content is currently held in academic repositories and has launched Scirus Repository Search to support institutes with these initiatives," said Ammy Vogtlander, general manager of Scirus. "Scirus is proud to work with the University of Toronto to ensure the content found in T-Space is made available to Scirus' one million users."' (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

Update. Scirus keeps an online list of its sources, including many OA sources.

New doctors and nurses will need OA

MedGadget asked eight anonymous pundits to write fragments of a commencement address to this year's new doctors and nurses. Excerpt from one of them: 'Today's graduates will need open access to science and medicine research and news if they hope to stay informed. So we at Medgadget were disturbed the American Medical Association moved to restrict access to their AMNews site. Despite rallying our colleagues, the service was limited to AMA members on June 1st. A free workaround still exists, however, for PDA users of AvantGo. Vive la resistance!'

More on the UK PMC

Mark Chillingworth, PubMed Central hits UK, June 8, 2005. Excerpt: 'Six biomedical research funding bodies and charities, headed by the Wellcome Trust, have formed an alliance to create the UK's own PubMed Central, a British version of the US repository of openly available peer-reviewed scientific research. UK PubMed Central will provide free access to its digital archive, alongside links to the US National Library of Medicine operated by PubMed Central. Wellcome has aligned with the British Heart Foundation (BHF), the Arthritis Research Campaign, two biomedical research councils and JISC to back the project. "Digital archives such as PubMed Central add enormous value to research," said Dr Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust. "Everyone will be able to read the results of the research that we fund." The consortium has called on organisations interested in hosting UK PubMed Central to place tenders by 10 June...."We are committed to achieving the maximum impact from the research we fund - that means making the findings accessible to those who most want to see them," added Walport. Only final peer-reviewed papers would be placed on the repository, said a Wellcome spokesman. "If everything is peer-reviewed it doesn't sacrifice the quality." The Wellcome Trust has revised its depositing rules. From 1 October 2005, all new research projects it funds will have to be deposited within six months of publication.'

Report from the AALL Open Access Task Force

Paul George and the AALL Open Access Task Force, The Future Gate to Scholarly Legal Information, a Member's Brief for the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), April 2005. Excerpt: 'Until now, the legal community has felt removed from this debate, most likely because our world appears so different from that of our colleagues in the sciences. While we have an increasing number of commercially published journals, the standard for scholarly publication is the law school journal. This model is almost the direct opposite of the scientific, technical, or medical (STM) journals; we do not have a few, centralized commercial or associational publishers, but rather a decentralized publication system with as many publishers as law schools....In law, scholarly articles are already widely available. Academic law journals are among the least expensive materials we purchase. The average price for a non-commercial journal was $34.04 in 2003, compared with more than $215 for a commercially published law journal, according to AALL's Price Index for Legal Publications....[F]ree access is available through several avenues. Besides making earlier copies of their articles available on their personal Web pages, authors will also post versions on popular repository sites, such as SSRN and BePress....We librarians are in the best position to create awareness of open access issues in our own institutions and libraries. All law librarians should educate their constituencies about the benefits and possibilities offered by open access publishing....In academic law libraries, the faculty authors themselves often are unaware of the benefits of electronic publication. Faculty must learn that it should not assign its copyright interests to the journals, which creates barriers to future distribution of published works....For those who want to look further into the future, we will briefly raise the question of whether it is time to discuss the possibility of a public library of law, modeled on The Public Library of Science (PLOS).' The report also has a good sidebar on what Duke University Law School is doing about OA. (Thanks to Dan Hunter.)

Bielefeld resolution on OA

On June 6, the University of Bielefeld adopted a resolution on open access (in German). It requests [fordert auf] that Bielefeld faculty deposit copies of their postprints in the Bielefeld institutional repository. It encourages and supports [ermutigt und unterstützt] them to submit their work to OA journals.

Update. Richard Sietmann has written a news story (also in German) about the Bielefeld resolution for the June 8 issue of Heise Online.

Update. Bielefeld has just registered its OA archiving policy at the Registry of Institutional OA Self-Archiving Policies.

Presentations on OA in Africa

Many of the presentations from the conference, Commons-sense: Towards An African Digital Information Commons (Johannesburg, May 25-27, 2005), are now online.

OA in France

Kumar Guha, Enjeux de l'open access pour l’information scientifique et technique en france, Defidoc, Dossier spécial : "libre", Summer 2005. The state of OA in France with special attention to the impediments.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

More on the Open Access Law Program

Excerpt from the Creative Commons / Science Commons press release on the new program (June 6): 'The Program is designed to make legal scholarship “open access,” that is freely available online to everyone, without undue copyright and licensing restrictions. The Open Access Law Program is an initiative of the Science Commons Publishing Project, which seeks to reduce the legal and logistical effort involved in managing copyrighted scholarly publications. As part of their Open Access Law Program, Creative Commons and Science Commons are working with a large number of law journals to encourage the open access archiving of the articles that they publish. Science Commons has created a set of resources to promote open access in legal publishing, including its Open Access Law Journal Principles and an Open Access Law Model Publication Agreement. The Principles and the Agreement encourage open access to legal scholarship, by encouraging law journals to post their published articles to the Internet, or allowing authors to do so....Staff at Science Commons' offices in Boston worked with program leads Professor Dan Hunter of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and Professor Mike Carroll of Villanova Law School, who serves on the Board of Creative Commons, to produce the Principles and the Agreement. Professor Hunter said "Open access to law articles is an idea whose time has come. All of the players in US scholarly legal journal publishing have an interest in the widest possible audience for their material. The authors benefit, the journals benefit, and law schools benefit. And more importantly, the public benefits. Everyone walks away a winner." Already 21 law reviews have adopted the Open Access Principles, or have policies that are consistent with them. Leading journals such as Animal Law, Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, Indiana Law Journal, Lewis & Clark Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Michigan State Law Review, New York Law School Law Review, Texas Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, and Wayne Law Review have signed on, as have all of the journals published by Duke Law School and Villanova Law School.'

More on ACS v. PubChem

John Wilbanks, director of Science Commons, has just blogged a good overview of the ACS v. PubChem controversy. He also points out that there's a Connotea page on PubChem.

Presentations on OA journal publishing

The presentations from the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) symposium, Open Access Journal Publishing (Washington, D.C., May 8-9, 2005), are now online.

Australia's new e-Research Consultation

The Australian government has launched an e-Research Consultation. From the web site: 'The Australian Government recognises the enormous potential of e-Research for Australia’s research community. e-Research has the potential to usher in a new era of innovation and help overcome the tyranny of distance by allowing our researchers to collaborate at the national and international level....The e-Research Coordinating Committee will be the primary source of expert advice to the Government on a strategic framework for the development of Australia's e-Research capacity. The work of the Committee is expected to better inform investment decisions made under existing Government initiatives such as the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure well as funding programmes administered by Government departments and agencies.'

While the consultation web site doesn't mention OA, the accompanying discussion paper makes clear that the project will aim to increase access to research data, research publications, and computational capacity. Excerpt: 'According to the OECD, open availability of publicly funded research data to the maximum extent possible is a matter of sound stewardship of public resources, as research data is a public good produced in the public interest. Adoption of this principle will also promote strong value chains of innovation and maximise benefits from international cooperation....Open access in information management circles mainly concerns access to research outputs, including publications....For example, a condition of funding grants could be that recipients normally provide open access to the data and results for which the grant was used except where privacy, confidential and commercial conditions prevail preventing their public access.'

Monday, June 06, 2005

Discussion list on OA topics for STM journal editors

Alexei Koudinov, editor of the OA journal Neurobiology of Lipids, has launched an email discussion list on OA topics for STM journal editors. From the announcement: 'This is to invite STM Journal Editors (of both Open Access Journals and Subscription Journals) to join New Mailing List. The list is devoted to the issues of Open/Public Access Development, and is thought to be the forum to educate editors about new trends in scholarly publishing, new information technologies and opportunities, and the benefits and public demand for Open Access and publication integrity.'

More on the German book-digitization project

Doreen Carvajal, German publishers' Google challenge, International Herald Tribune, June 5, 2005. Excerpt: 'When the online retailer came calling a year ago to sign up German publishers for a digital indexing project, one book executive urged a strategy of polite rebuffs. Then this year, when Google started wooing publishers to sign on for its own digital book project, that German executive, Matthias Ulmer, decided the time was ripe to seize control with a homegrown counterattack. Now Ulmer and a five-member task force of the German book trade association Börsenverein are organizing their own digital indexing project, Volltextsuche Online....The German project includes some publishing industry heavyweights like Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, a Stuttgart-based media group. But it still faces a test of membership reaction at a general assembly of the association on June 17 in Berlin. The trade association is not putting the idea to a vote but will essentially gather feedback...."There's been some misunderstanding and misconceptions about what Google is doing," said [Stefan Keuchel, a spokesman for Google Germany], "so we are trying to be open for discussion with publishers. And so far, we've been seeing very high interest from German publishers who want to talk to us."..."Discussion is completely about titles still under copyright," said [Matthias Ulmer, a German publisher].'

Also see Gary Price's article on the same project in the June 5 issue of SearchDay.

More on ACS v. PubChem

Chemical & Engineering News (an ACS journal) just published two letters to the editor responding to Susan Morrisey's article, Database Debate, in the April 25 issue (blogged here the same day). The Morrisey article is free online at the journal site but the letters are not. However, there are OA copies on SOAF.

From the Robert Briggs letter: 'In general, the American Chemical Society has done an admirable job of adapting the literature under its control with the advent of the Internet. Most, if not all, issues of the society's journals are accessible to subscribers under terms that compare favorably with those offered by other publishers. This enlightened use of the Internet is not entirely true of CAS, which jealously guards every bit of information under its control. It could be argued that the CAS number is the most important unique descriptor of a substance and is thereby public currency which should be granted freely. It is a datum that can provide a link to all scientific literature for a substance and thus will bring people (not just chemists) to the ACS publications pertinent to their needs; these people could purchase that information for a small fee. CAS has the ability to provide a database, not unlike PubChem, and the question becomes not one of NIH overstepping its function, but of CAS failing to adapt to potential new markets for its information. I pose this question: Why won't CAS provide me, a dues-paying chemist, with the information that PubChem is offering to the public? A follow-up question is this: Why won't CAS open to every person that portion of its database which would increase the accessibility of the chemical literature? This would not only benefit the public, but also the publishers of that information.'

OA Law Program from Science Commons

Science Commons has launched the Open Access Law Program. Led by Dan Hunter and Mike Carroll, the program includes OA Law Journal Principles (and a list of complying law journals), an OA Author Pledge (and a list of signing authors), and an OA Model Publishing Agreement. (Thanks to Yong Liu.)

(PS: This is well-designed and badly needed. Every discipline should have a similar initiative.)

OA to pig genome sequences

From today's press release issued by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Denmark's University Aarhus: 'Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Danish Committee of Pig Breeding and Production (DCPBP) jointly announce the public release of pig genomic sequences. The released sequence data include 3.84 million pieces of the genomes of five different domestic pig breeds from Europe and China. The data are generated from the first large scale pig genome sequencing effort, the Sino-Danish Pig Genome Project, started in 2001 on the basis of a long standing collaboration of scientists and research institutions from China and Denmark. An open access research article from the Sino-Danish Pig Genome Project can be found [here] and the genome sequence data are immediately accessible from the NCBI Trace Repository (Center name: "SDJVP"; Project name: "Sino-Danish Pig Genome Project") and GenBank, a public DNA sequence database of the US National Institutes of Health.'

Revising German copyright law to permit OA

Richard Sietmann, Wissenschaftliche Informationsversorgung, c't, May 25, 2005. On a proposal to revise "fair use" under German copyright law in order to permit the copying and distribution of scientific research for teaching, research, or archival purposes.

Ingenta award funds research on institutional repositories

From a joint LRRT/ALA press release (May 25, 2005): 'The Library Research Round Table (LRRT) of the American Library Association (ALA) announced today that Patricia K. Galloway, assistant professor of archival enterprise, University of Texas School of Information, is the winner of the first Ingenta Research Award. Sponsored by Ingenta, LRRT gives the award annually to support research projects about acquisition, use and preservation of digital information. The award will support Galloway's study, Institutionalizing a University Department-Level Institutional Repository. "The development of institutional repositories holds great promise for preserving and making accessible scholarship of universities," said Stephen Wiberley, chair of the Ingenta Award selection committee. "For these repositories to be successful, we must increase our understanding of their benefits and costs. Patricia Galloway's study will investigate the interests of faculty in depositing their work, the costs of developing and maintaining a departmental repository, and the repository's value for teaching and research."'

More on ACS v. PubChem

Miriam Drake, A Cauldron Bubbles: PubChem and the American Chemical Society, Information Today, June 6, 2005. Excerpt: 'A freely accessible public database of chemical information, produced by a division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), is at the center of a controversy over publicly subsidized data competing with commercial information providers. The American Chemical Society (ACS), said to be the largest scientific society in the world, has voiced strenuous objections to the creation and availability of PubChem....The American Chemical Society, along with its Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) division, has protested the government creation and support of PubChem and its availability. In a May 23, 2005, press release, ACS stated: "The ACS believes strongly that the Federal Government should not seek to become a taxpayer supported publisher. By collecting, organizing, and disseminating small molecule information whose creation it has not funded and which duplicates CAS services, NIH has started ominously, down the path to unfettered scientific publishing."...The ACS position does not recognize that the U.S. government is a large publisher and is mandated by law to publish a variety of materials as part of agency missions and for the public good....Consultant and ACS member Stephen Heller, a chemist for 35 years, said in an interview that the ACS position is misleading. He believes that there is about a 3 percent overlap between PubChem and CAS and that the taxpayer-funded activity makes sense because the database and its growth will come from publicly funded resources. [Henry] Rzepa, professor of chemistry at Imperial College, U.K. and Peter Murray-Rust, reader in molecular informatics at University of Cambridge, U.K., said in an open statement: "We wish to emphasize in the strongest terms the current and future value of the NCBI/NIH's PubChem to the scientific and medical community...We have been using the molecules in PubChem and promoting their value in research...Until PubChem virtually no chemical information was freely available."...The extent of the overlap between PubChem and CAS is one issue. NIH staff analysis shows relatively little overlap. ACS claims there is more than a small amount of overlap. The two sources differ widely in size, scope, and resources....ACS spokespeople believe that PubChem will put it out of business. Others disagree and see PubChem and CAS as complementary—not competitive....The issue likely will be decided in Congress. ACS is working with the governor of Ohio, Robert Taft, and Ralph Regula, R-Ohio. (CAS is based in Columbus, Ohio.) The appeal does not relate to making biomedical information available. ACS is claiming that PubChem will put CAS out of business, resulting in the loss of 1,300 jobs in Columbus. It is doubtful that members of Congress will understand the nature of the issues; it is likely that they will pass some sort of legislation removing PubChem from public access.'

Copyright and free culture

Jason Griffey, The Perils of Strong Copyright: The American Library Association and Free Culture, a Master's Thesis at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2004 (but newly deposited in the dLIST repository). Abstract: 'The current state of intellectual property law is labyrinthine in every sense: it is difficult to follow, full of blind alleys, and the only people who know the way through it are the ones who designed it in the first place. Pamela Samuelson notes in Towards a New Politics of Intellectual Property, "copyright industry groups have cultivated relationships with policy makers in the executive and legislative branches over a long period of time" (98) and these relationships have been used to maintain control over copyrighted materials far beyond the length of time of commercial success of said materials. James Boyle noted that "the ground rules of the information society are being laid down by lawyers (strike one) employed by the biggest players in the field (strike two) all with little public debate or press scrutiny." (Boyle, "Sold Out") My goal in this paper will be to examine the history of copyright, attempt to unite some of the disparate aspects of the open information meme, and finally to consider how this meme is being distributed (or not distributed) by academic librarians. I will also attempt to make prescriptive suggestions that might assist librarians in seeing the strengths of the Open Information memepool.'

ARL list of university statements on scholarly communication

Karla Hahn, the ARL Director of Scholarly Communication, has compiled a list of university statements on scholarly communication in 2005. (PS: Also see my list, which is not limited to 2005.)

Rick Johnson honored

From an ARL press release (today): 'With a prolonged standing ovation, the directors of ARL Libraries adopted a resolution honoring the contributions of SPARC Executive Director Rick Johnson to research libraries and the scholarly community. The tribute was made during the ARL Membership Meeting held May 25-27, 2005, in Philadelphia.'

Excerpt from the resolution: 'The Association of Research Libraries honors Richard K. Johnson and acknowledges his contributions to research libraries and the scholarly community, and, in particular, for his successful efforts to advance affordable and publicly accessible new systems of research communication. During his seven years as Executive Director of SPARC, Rick Johnson’s business acumen in publishing and his thoughtful analysis of key issues transformed SPARC from a fledging protest movement into an effective advocacy organization. The rapid expansion and growing acceptance of open-access publishing may prove to be the most enduring legacy of his leadership and collaborative work.' (PS: Hear hear!)

The trade embargo on science is back

Richard Monastersky, American Society for Aerospace Science Halts Contacts With Researchers in Nations Under Embargo, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 6, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'In a sharp contrast with other American academic organizations, the main professional society for aerospace engineers and scientists has decided to ban the publication of papers by authors in Iran and other countries subject to a United States trade embargo. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics will also forbid such scientists to attend the institute's conferences in the future....The directors resolved that the "AIAA, consistent with U.S. laws and policies, shall not knowingly provide products or services to, or engage in formal, technical information exchange with, individuals or entities residing in embargoed nations," a statement on the organization's Web site says. "This restriction applies to staff as well as to members when they are acting on behalf of AIAA, and applies to all AIAA products and services." In addition to Iran, the new policy applies to Cuba, North Korea, and Sudan. The institute has about 30,000 members, some 5,000 of them overseas. The only members in embargoed countries are in Iran, said Robert S. Dickman, the institute's executive director. About 100 manuscripts, some of which had been peer reviewed and accepted, were pulled out of the publication process at the institute's eight journals following the board's decision, Mr. Dickman said....The controversy follows a decision by the U.S. Treasury Department to clarify its rules about scientific exchanges with authors in embargoed countries. The department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, known as OFAC, ruled last December that scientific exchanges with such authors were permitted. The ruling reversed a 2003 decision that had placed restrictions on communications with those authors. Mr. Dickman said the aerospace institute's Board of Directors had decided to ban exchanges because its conferences and publications often deal with applied engineering, "with the specific intention of improving the accuracy of a missile-delivery system, of the ability of an airplane to operate the delivery system for a weapon that something like North Korea could possess." But Mr. Hojabri said that many of the pulled papers dealt with basic scientific topics such as fluid dynamics. "They are, after all, a professional association and an academic association," he said of the institute. "They are not a security agency. It's an open conference."'

Update. Monastersky has a follow-up version of his article in the June 17 issue of the Chronicle.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

LITA guide to Escholarship

The Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) has published Escholarship: A LITA Guide. From the advertisement: 'Debra Shapiro, continuing education specialist at the University of Wisconsin Madison School of Library Science, has brought together a collection of essays to inform both librarians and scholars about ongoing efforts to create and support eScholarship in the new book "Escholarship: A LITA Guide." The guide explores viable e-publishing alternatives that replace the more limited traditional scholarly communications structure. It addresses both the scholar's perspective and the librarian's experiences as it presents many innovative scholarly e-publishing initiatives. Clifford Lynch gives a summary of issues, providing a broad context to the essays and identifying many of the remaining challenges. Members of the OCLC Office of Research address the technical infrastructure crucial to eScholarship. Catherine Candee and Roy Tennant report on the University of California eScholarship Initiative. Matthew Gibson of the University of Virginia Library's Electronic Text Center provides a history of the library as publisher. Ann Lally and Joyce Ogburn address the evolving nature of scholarship and libraries and Meredith Clausen reports on eScholarship in architectural history.' The guide is not OA; a printed copy costs $32 ($28.80 for ALA/LITA members. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

New issue of Serials Librarian

The new issue of Serials Librarian (vol. 48, nos. 1/2) is now online. Here are the OA-related articles. Only the TOC and some abstracts are free online to non-subscribers, at least so far. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

Another publisher policy on NIH-funded authors

Richard Jorgensen, Natasha Raikhel, and Donald Ort, ASPB's Response to NIH's Public Access Policy, The Plant Cell, June 2005. An editorial. Excerpt: 'Even though compliance is not mandatory, ASPB [American Society of Plant Biologists] recognizes that some of our authors may choose to comply and wants to accommodate them in a manner that does not jeopardize ASPB's legitimate interests and long-standing practices. Therefore, both journals' copyright statements have been amended for articles accepted as of May 2, 2005 to include the following statement: "[Plant Physiology / The Plant Cell] allows authors whose research was funded in whole or in part by the National Institutes of Health to deposit their peer-reviewed, accepted manuscript to NIH for release in PubMed Central 12 months after the date of final publication by the journal."...Please note that ASPB requires that authors submit the identical version of the article that was accepted for publication. This version will be different from the final, copyedited article that ASPB will publish, so the journals will provide authors with language to append to their manuscript to indicate that it has not been copyedited and may therefore differ in important ways from the authoritative version of the article published in Plant Physiology or The Plant Cell. NIH would prefer that the published article eventually replace the author's accepted manuscript, provided that the publisher concurs. ASPB has for 5 years been depositing final published articles in PubMed Central for release after 12 months, and we will continue to do so....ASPB fully recognizes the value to the scientific community of making the journals' research content freely accessible as soon as possible. On the other hand, the full cost to publish an article in Plant Physiology Online averages about $2500, and in The Plant Cell Online $3500. To try to find some middle ground, we will be launching in the next couple of months an Open Access "experiment" whereby any author who desires to have a research article that he or she has authored made free from the moment of its publication can do so for a modest surcharge of $1000 --and just $500 if the author works at an institution with a subscription to the ASPB journals. Authors who elect this Open Access option can instruct NIH to release the peer-reviewed manuscript as soon as the published article appears on the journal site.'

(PS: I commend the ASPB for its forthcoming OA experiment. However, its policy on NIH-funded authors is heel-dragging. The NIH policy "strongly encourages" public access "as soon as possible" after publication. The NIH believes that publisher-imposed embargoes violate the authors' "right to see the results of their work disseminated as quickly and broadly as possible" and has made clear that "only in limited cases will authors [or publishers] deem it necessary to select the longest delay period." For more on the NIH standard of compliance and more publisher policies on NIH-funded authors, see my article from last week's SOAN.)