Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, June 25, 2005

OAN temporarily frozen

Blogger has unaccountably lost track of Open Access News. Until the problem is fixed, I cannot (easily) update the blog and will post "blog substitute" emails to the SPARC Open Access Forum. The SOAF archive is readable by non-subscribers. If you want email delivery, subscriptions are free (of course). Sorry for the inconvenience.

I've already posted two "blog substitute" emails, one with seven items and another with two items.

So how did I post this message to the blog? I downloaded the last version of the file, hand-coded the HTML, and FTP'd it back, bypassing the interface that makes blogging easy. Since I won't have time to do this for every new item, please watch the forum for updates until the blog is back on its feet.

I don't need suggestions for other blogging platforms --I don't have time for the transition nightmare. But If you have expertise or influence with Blogger, I could use help with this very frustrating problem.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Fiesole presentations

The presentations from the 7th Fiesole Collection Development Retreat Series (Melbourne, April 28-30, 2005) are now online. Several are on OA. (Thanks to Colin Steele.)

PLoS Biology has top impact factor of general biology journals

PLoS Biology is now old enough to have an impact factor. Quoting from today's press release: 'The open-access journal PLoS Biology has been assessed by Thomson ISI to have an impact factor of 13.9, which places PLoS Biology among the most highly cited journals in the life sciences. This is an outstanding statistic for a journal less than two years old, from a new publisher promoting a new business model to support open access to the scientific and medical literature. An impact factor of 13.9 places PLoS Biology above such established journals as EMBO Journal, Current Biology, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In fact, in ISI's category of general biology journals, PLoS Biology is ranked number 1....By any measure, the impact of this launch was impressive. The on-line publication of the first issue was accompanied by strong and favorable media coverage, and subsequent issues continue to receive regular attention. Content from PLoS Biology has been read, copied, redistributed, and reused, without restriction (aside from proper citation of the authors), and now we know that the journal has also been cited time and time again.'

More questions to the NIH from the Senate appropriations committee

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) recently sent written questions to the NIH about its public-access policy and received written replies. Sen. Harkin is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Subcommittee that appropriates funds for the NIH. Some of Sen. Harkin's questions are the same as those posted yesterday from Sen. Durbin. For these, the NIH answers and my comments are the same. Here's what's new:

Question: I'm also concerned that the policy could place researchers in a difficult position. It's up to researchers to negotiate with publishers to get permission to post the articles in the NIH database. Since participation is voluntary, publishers might pressure researchers not to release their work at all, or to wait a full 12 months. Do you share this concern? How will you know if this pressure is taking place?

Answer: We will be gathering statistics on grantee participation rates and their specified embargo periods. An NIH Public Access Working Group of the NLM Board of Regents has been established and includes representatives of various stakeholder groups that will advise the NLM Board of Regents on implementation and assess progress in meeting the goals of the NIH Public Access Policy. The above statistics will be presented to this Working Group and, if it appears necessary, the Working Group may suggest modifications of the policy to ensure that the public archive is sufficiently timely and comprehensive.

Question: Finally, could you provide this subcommittee with a report, as soon as possible after December 1, 2005, on how many eligible articles were deposited in PubMed Central during the first six months of the policy and what the average embargo period was. Additionally, we would like to know how many articles are in the pipeline awaiting posting. Lastly, do you have any way of tracking through PubMed the number of articles supported with NIH funds but not submitted to PubMed Central? In other words, will you be able to provide both the numerator and the denominator of the equation that will demonstrate success of your policy?

Answer: We estimated that the results of NIH-supported research were published in approximately 60,000 to 65,000 articles based on the number of articles published in the last several years that contained an NIH grant number within the text. We will estimate participation by comparing the actual number of papers deposited in the NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) system for a given interval with the historical average. For example, 5,000 deposited articles per month would indicate approximately 100% participation. By the close of the calendar year sufficient data should be available to make an assessment of the degree of participation. Statistics for the distribution of the embargo periods requested by authors will be readily available from the submission system.

Scientific knowledge as a public good

Dana G. Dalrymple, Scientific Knowledge as a Public Good, The Scientist, June 23, 2005. Excerpt: 'The public goods characteristic of ideas and knowledge – that they are freely available to all and are not diminished by use – can be traced to St. Augustine (circa 400). Adam Smith laid the conceptual economic basis for public goods in 1776, but economists did not give much attention to them until the mid-1950s. However, it has been difficult to reduce knowledge to numerical form and measurement, particularly in the basic sciences, so that there is little hard data on the linkage between scientific knowledge and [economic] growth. Still, it is safe to say that scientific knowledge in its pure form is a classic public good. As such, it is a keystone for innovation and in its more applied forms is a basic component of the economy. The problem, however, is that the production of such knowledge has a cost, and the results are not necessarily available to all....IBM, for example, recently announced that it would release 500 patents. Similarly, some multinational biotechnology firms have adopted a market segmentation strategy that permits the use of certain food and agricultural technologies in developing countries. How do we encourage such efforts? [Bruce] Alberts [President of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences] proposed asking scientific journals to make their journals freely available on the Web after a delay of not more than a year, and changing the intellectual property protections that are arranged by public sector research institutions. In what might be considered a model of such a change, the University of California, Berkeley, has a "socially responsible licensing program" designed to cover technologies that promise exceptional benefit to the developing world; licenses are provided on a royalty-free basis. Several other universities have similar programs.'

RCUK draft OA policy coming next week

Stephen Pincock, RCUK draft mandates open access, The Scientist, June 23, 2005. Excerpt: 'Papers arising from work funded by the Research Councils UK (RCUK) should be deposited in an open access repository "at the earliest opportunity, wherever possible at or around the time of publication, in accordance with copyright and licensing arrangements," according to a draft policy that RCUK will make public next week. The wording of the document has been carefully chosen in order "not to over-rule any existing copyright agreements," said Astrid Wissenburg from the Economic and Social Research Council, who is coordinating the development of the policy. Earlier drafts had specified a time frame within which articles had to be deposited, similar to the policy recently implemented by the Wellcome Trust. "But we came to the conclusion that any specific figure would be largely plucked out of the air," Wissenburg told The Scientist....RCUK, the umbrella group for the United Kingdom's eight government-funded research councils, will publish the current draft on its Web site early next week, giving interested parties until the end of August to register their comments....Peter Suber, an open access advocate from Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, told The Scientist he found the phrase "in accordance with copyright and licensing arrangements" incoherent and unhelpful. "I don't think it will tell authors or publishers (or eventually, courts) who may do what or who may block whom from doing what," Suber said via E-mail. "Publishers hold copyright on the copy-edited version of the peer-reviewed manuscript. If the purpose of the clause is simply to tell authors that they may not deposit the copy-edited version without publisher consent, and that they may deposit earlier versions without publisher consent, then it could say so much more directly and clearly. Because this distinction is easy to express and common in other funding-agency policies (such as the NIH policy), I suspect that the RCUK policy is trying to get at something else. But it's far from clear what else the clause might mean."' (PS: I've posted my full comment on SOAF.)

Rising impact factors for BMC journals

Open Access journals get impressive impact factors, a press release from BioMed Central, June 23, 2005. Excerpt: 'Impressive impact factors prove that BioMed Central's Open Access journals are high quality and widely read and cited. Journals published by BioMed Central have again received impact factors that compare well with equivalent subscription titles, it was announced today, with five titles in the top five of their specialty. The high impact factors for these journals affirm that they are respected by researchers, and are fast becoming the place for authors to submit important research findings. Five journals published by BioMed Central received their first impact factors this year. BMC Bioinformatics, with an impact factor of 5.42, has reinforced its reputation as one of the top journals in its field....BMC Genomics enters the Journal Citation Report with a respectable 3.25. This puts it in the top third of the genetics titles, and the top 20% of biotechnology journals. BMC Molecular Biology has an impact factor of 3.12, and BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders an impact factor of 1.00, putting it in the top half of the orthopaedics listing. BMC Genetics has an impact factor of 0.92. Critical Care's impact factor jumped from 1.9 to 3.21, and the journal is now third in the Critical Care medicine field....A number of other journal published by BioMed Central also saw their impact factors and rankings improve. BMC Infectious Diseases jumped from 1.25 to 2.07. BMC Cell Biology, with an impact factor of 2.62, is now in the top half of the cell biology listing. The impact factor for BMC Health Services Research almost doubled, from 0.68 to 1.23. BMC Cancer went up from 1.70 to 2.29 and BMC Public Health now has an impact factor of 1.55. With an impact factor of 4.03, Respiratory Research is the fifth most cited journal in the highly competitive respirology field....According to Dr Matthew Cockerill, Director of Operations at BioMed Central, "These latest impact factors show that BioMed Central's Open Access journals have joined the mainstream of science publishing, and can compete with traditional journals on their own terms. The impact factors also demonstrate one of the key benefits that Open Access offers authors: high visibility and, as a result, a high rate of citation."'

Blackwell increases profits and OA experiments

Katherine Rushton and Bobby Pickering, Blackwell Publishing journals boost profits, Information World Review, June 22, 2005. Excerpt: 'Blackwell Publishing grew sales by 10% to £191m last year, helping to push profits up 27% to a record £31.7m, despite the impact of the weak US dollar. Chief executive Rene Olivieri attributed the growth to an increase in the number of journal titles, more carefully tailored content and "targeted electronic marketing"....Meanwhile, the company has announced that 30 journals will be taking part in its open access experiment, Online Open, launched in February. During the trial period, to the end of 2006, authors of accepted articles will have the option to pay a £1250 ($2500) fee to make the articles available through Blackwell's online Synergy service. They will also be included in the print edition of journals with an indicator that the article is available for free online.'

More on publishers v. Google

Keith Regan, Publishers Raise Concerns About Google Print Project, E-Commerce Times, June 23, 2005. Excerpt: 'Google has agreed to meet with representatives of the publishing industry to hear their concerns, but is apparently moving forward with the Google Print project in the meantime....The most recent flare-ups come after a self-proclaimed Google watchdog group posted details of the search giant's contract with the University of Michigan library....The part of that contract that most caught publishers' eyes was a provision for Google to make two digital copies of all materials. That has apparently sparked concern that in addition to the free, library-like offering, Google might be planning commercial uses of the books, some of which are protected still by copyright....Publishers have long had an uneasy relationship with the Web. Supposed threats from e-books and other digitized formats have not materialized, and the Internet has become a favorite venue for book buying for many consumers. Meanwhile, analysts say Google is likely to tread lightly with the publishing industry to avoid a lengthy, costly and politically messy battle. Publishers are a key constituency of Google's, representing potential advertisers and potential merchants for its e-commerce efforts, such as its Froogle comparison-shopping site. Still, bringing book pages online is seen as critical to Google's efforts to boost the amount of real estate available for placing ads online. "Google Print got them a huge amount of positive publicity and really cemented their reputation as the most ambitious of the search companies," Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li told the E-Commerce Times. If Google does back down or strike a compromise, it will likely find a way to do so that doesn't stall the overall library project, such as focusing first on works not subject to copyright protection. Google has insisted, and says that the contract clearly spells out, that copyrighted works will be protected and available only in indexed, searchable form. That is, excerpts will turn up in search results and users will then be able to find where to buy or borrow a copy.'

Harvesting journal citations to books

Dazhi (David) Jiao won this year's OCLC Research Software Contest with a program called CAT OAI that harvests book citations from articles in OAI-compliant repositories and lists them when a user clicks on a book from a searchable OPAC. By default it shows only the top-ranked five citations, when rank is a function of the similarity of the OAI record to the OPAC record, but the full list of citations is just a click away. The software can apparently make use of any OPAC and any OAI-compliant repositories, though the demo uses only a subset of the OCLC WorldCat and arXiv. It can apparently track citations to any resources appearing in an OPAC, including journals, but my sample searches on the demo returned only books and conference proceedings. For more details, see the OCLC press release, the demo version of CAT OAI, or the software "about" page. CAT OAI is open-source but the code is not yet online.

IFLA supporting OA at WSIS

Alex Byrne, Promoting the Global Information Commons: A statement by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions to WSIS Tunis PrepCom2, IFLA Journal, June 2005, pp. 204-205. Transcript of an address originally given February 22, 2005. Excerpt: 'IFLA advocates a global information commons through which all people will be enabled to seek and impart information. Its realization requires, at a minimum, ubiquitous access to sufficient affordable bandwidth, up to date and affordable ICTs, unrestricted multilingual access to information and skills development programs to enable all to both access information and disseminate their own while respecting the fundamental right of human beings to both access and express information without restriction....We have three proposals for new wording....[I]n the section 'Improvements and Innovations of Existing Financing Mechanisms', the following paragraph should be added: "We recognize that innovative financial mechanisms that should contribute to bridging the digital divide may rely on lowering the costs of access to information and software resources and on making those resources freely available to all. Such innovative efforts should include...supporting the implementation of open access initiatives to scientific, technological, cultural and educational information..." '

OA papers on text-mining in molecular biology

BMC Bioinformatics has published A critical assessment of text mining methods in molecular biology, a special supplement consisting of 23 open-access papers originally presented at an EMBO-CNB-Mitre conference (Granada, March 28-31, 2004).

Access to social science data

Two papers presented at the virtual conference, Social Sciences Online: Past, Present and Future (June 20-24, 2005):

  1. Robin Rice, The Internet and democratisation of access to data. Excerpt: 'It seems that the social sciences have been simply evolving steadily since the advent of computers and networking, compared to other disciplines which have been revolutionised (think of biology-human genetics, particle physics, or astronomy)....[T]he problem of access for research data is more than discovery; the user requires tools to make the data usable, and fairly intimate knowledge of how the dataset was collected, variables derived, etc. There is also a tension between protecting the subjects' confidentiality, and releasing as much demographic background on the respondents as possible to maximise the re-usability of the data....The world of open access publishing and digital repositories seems to be the most important new trend in democratising access to data....Recent funding by JISC toward the development of institutional repositories does reflect some level of national commitment [in the UK] to open access and institutional repositories. Although it is early days, this could be the beginning of a thousand flowers blooming, and a sea-change in the work of social science researchers, librarians and archivists, as universities rise to the challenge of 'curating' their own scholarly assets, including perhaps, the actual or derived datasets upon which published research papers are based. Is there any chance of this becoming a widespread trend with only a smattering of project-based funding? Is it even desirable, compared to providing additional funds for centralised, domain-specific trusted repositories such as the UK Data Archive?'

  2. Melanie Wright, How has the internet changed the way we access data? Excerpt: 'Calling it a revolution is cliche, but there is hardly a better word for it. And as in radical political change, alongside structural, organisational changes come attitudinal changes. User expectations are light years from where they were in 1996. In data services, there are in my mind, three major influences which have caused a paradigm shift in user expectations and therefore in the way data services do their business. These three influences neatly fall into the three fundamental services provided by data centres such as the UKDA: finding data, accessing data, and using data. And they are: Google, Amazon, and GUI menu-driven analysis software (SPSS for Windows)....Some might view these three influences and say, this is how the internet has destroyed data services — dumbing down our search tools, pandering to the lowest-common-denominator naive user, enabling far too many people to conduct far too many risky and suspect analyses on data they aren’t trained to understand, and increasing the risk of confidentiality breaks and disclosure logarithmically. Others might say, the internet has been the greatest boon imaginable, allowing more socially relevant data and information be disseminated to more people, enabling more 5-star research to be conducted, upon which more evidence-based policy is evolved, allowing for a more enlightened and better world.'

More on the new Key Perspectives study

New international study demonstrates worldwide readiness for Open Access mandate, a press release from the University of Southampton, June 23, 2005. Excerpt: 'A wide-ranging new international study across all disciplines has found that over 80 per cent of academic researchers the world over would willingly comply with a mandate to deposit copies of their articles in an institutional repository. The findings of the study, carried out by Key Perspectives Ltd, for the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the UK, have been greeted by Southampton's Professor Stevan Harnad as 'a historic turning point in the worldwide research community's progress towards 100 per cent Open Access'. The new results are being reported this week at the International Conference on Policies and Strategies for Open Access to Scientific Information in Beijing, China (22-24 June 2005) by Dr Alma Swan of Key Perspectives, along with new findings from Dr Les Carr, of the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, the only UK university that already has a self-archiving mandate. Southampton is a leader in the worldwide Open Access movement. The international, cross-disciplinary study on Open Access had 1296 respondents. The main findings are: [1] The vast majority of authors (81%) would comply willingly with a mandate from their employer or research funder to deposit copies of their articles in an institutional or subject-based repository; a further 14 per cent would comply reluctantly, and only 5% would not comply (highest willingness, US: 88%; UK: 83%; lowest, China: 58%). [2] 49% of respondents had already self-archived at least one article in the previous three years. [3] 31% of respondents were not yet aware of the possibilities of self-archiving. [4] Use of institutional repositories for self-archiving had doubled since the first survey (2004) ; the University of Southampton has the highest rate of self-archiving in the UK. [5] Only 20% of authors who self-archived reported any degree of difficulty in self-archiving, and this dropped to 9% with subsequent experience. Les Carr's analyses of Southampton web-logs show that it takes 10 minutes for the first paper, and even less for subsequent papers. [6] Self-archiving is done the most by those researchers who publish the most papers. [7] Researchers’ primary purpose in publishing is to have an impact on their fields (i.e., to be read, used, built upon, and cited). In a separate exercise the American Physical Society (APS) and the Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd (IOPP) were asked about their experiences over the last 14 years of existence of arXiv (the open e-print archive which has over 400,000 physics papers deposited). Both publishers said that they could not identify any loss of subscriptions due to arXiv, did not view it as a threat to their own publishing activities and indeed encouraged it.'

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

NIH answers questions about public-access policy

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) recently sent written questions to the NIH about its public-access policy and received written replies. Sen. Durbin is on the Senate Subcommittee that appropriates funds for the NIH. Excerpt:

Question: But why are you proposing that making research results accessible to the public is "recommended?" If this is such a good idea – and I think it is - why isn't it required?

Answer: The voluntary nature of the Policy was established to encourage investigators to deposit their manuscripts in NIH's public archive. We believe this approach will ultimately result in broader participation. The Policy-related submissions will directly benefit NIH-supported investigators because recent studies have shown that freely available articles get cited more in other research publications. An increase in the number of citations helps improve the professional standing of investigators. Due to these benefits we anticipate that authors will decide to participate and to choose the earliest release dates. I also believe that the voluntary nature of the final policy permits sufficient flexibility to accommodate the needs of different stakeholders and leaves the ultimate decision in the hands of scientific investigators who are in the best position to judge the circumstances and the time frame under which their work may be made accessible to the public at large. Therefore, we believe that by having a Policy that provides maximum flexibility, authors will respond with maximum participation.

Question: A year's delay after publication in a journal strikes me as a very long time, given the pace of biomedical developments today. How much time do you expect most participating researchers to let go by between publication and release of the study publicly?

Answer: The Public Access Policy strongly encourages all NIH-funded researchers to make their peer-reviewed author's final manuscripts available to other researchers and to the public at the National Library of Medicine's (NLM) PubMed Central (PMC) immediately after the official date of final publication. At the time of submission, authors are also given the option to release their manuscripts at a later time, up to 12 months after publication. NIH expects that only in limited cases will authors deem it necessary to select the longest delay period. [...]

Question: What rates of participation and time delays would you consider a success?

Answer: [...] Rather than specifying a particular target number, we will be looking for an increasing number of manuscripts to be submitted over time and a decreasing delay period. [...] We hope that secondary effects of the Policy might also be viewed in terms of "success." Since the Proposed Policy's release in September 2004, we have heard that an increasing number of publishers, within and outside of the United States, are considering changes to or adoption of Open Access publishing models. For example, in January the Nature Publishing Group altered its open access model to increase accessibility to its publications.

Comment. Kudos to Sen. Durbin for asking just the right questions. Unfortunately, the NIH responses are very inadequate. (1) If the criterion is still "maximum participation", then requiring deposit will clearly bring us closer to the goal than making deposit discretionary. (2) It's true that early OA will increase author impact and authors have this incentive to deposit their work and to request early release. But the NIH is ignoring the evidence that nearly every publisher with a policy on NIH-funded authors requires authors to demand a six or 12 month embargo on public access. (3) The NIH is ignoring the fact (shown by the same evidence) that publishers are taking steps to control author decisions. The NIH request is addressed to authors, but publishers can refuse to publish any article unless the author agrees to the publisher's terms. (4) While many publishers have responded to the NIH policy, virtually none have supported it in the ways the NIH claims here. They agree to let their authors deposit their postprints in PubMed Central, but only the American Diabetes Association (among non-OA publishers) lets its authors comply with the NIH request to deposit the postprints "as soon as possible" after publication. All the rest so far insist on embargoes, including the new policy of the Nature Publishing Group cited here by the NIH.)

Abelson and Wilbanks on info sharing

Two friends of OA at MIT, Hal Abelson (professor of computer science) and John Wilbanks (director of Science Commons) spoke at an MIT program on April 26, Open Networks and Open Society: The Relationship between Freedom, Law, and Technology. Their texts are not online but the video is (95 minutes). From the web site descriptions of the talks: 'Hal Abelson wants to deliver a one-two punch against the privatization of academic discourse. His weapons of choice? New global initiatives based on MIT's own OpenCourseWare (OCW) and DSpace. Abelson owns to a "real anxiety that people are quick to talk about academic exchange under the rubrics of property and ownership," along the lines of the motion picture, recording and publishing industries. He sees a profound threat -- that of eventual monopoly control -- to scholarly publishing. Out of self-protection, Abelson says, universities must pursue initiatives to ensure free and open academic publishing. Two coordinated initiatives would "strengthen the information commons," the body of knowledge on which thinkers continually build and which "forms the progress of science." One, modeled on OCW, would provide "global access to raw material from which the world's great learning institutions create educational experiences for their students." The other, like MIT Libraries' DSpace, would produce an interoperable and virtual collection of research from the world's top institutions. Abelson exhorts universities to pursue their true mission of generating, disseminating and preserving knowledge, and defend against the encroachments of the commercial publishing industry, with its near stranglehold on journals and increasingly on ideas themselves. John Wilbanks hopes to expand on this vision with Creative Commons, an attempt to permit authors and artists around the world to copyright their material with "some rights reserved." His website provides free tools for licensing music, photos, video or written works, while permitting the dissemination of this work for noncommercial or shared use, for instance. Eventually, Creative Commons may encompass data and datasets, as well as patents and the transfer of biological material.' (Thanks to Gary Price.)

Special issue of Library Management on the semantic web

The April issue of Library Management is devoted to the semantic web in digital libraries.

Life science databases risk losing funding

Zeeya Merali and Jim Giles, Databases in peril, Nature 435, 1010-1011 (23 June 2005)(Access restricted to subscribers.) Abstract: "Life-sciences databases are in crisis, say their operators, as funders keen to support exciting new projects lose interest in maintaining existing services."

Editorial in a new OA journal

Mauro Giovanni Carta and Maria Carolina Hardoy, Why a new online open access journal in the field of clinical and epidemiological research in mental health? Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health, April 27, 2005. An editorial in the inaugural issue of a new OA journal. Abstract: 'Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health will encompass all aspects of clinical and epidemiological research in psychiatry and mental health, and will aim to build a bridge between clinical and epidemiological research. There are several outstanding mental heath journals covering all aspects of this dynamic field, but none of these journals is devoted to bridging clinical and epidemiological research. The Open Access online distribution of the journal and its inclusion in the leading data bases (such as PubMed Central) will ensure widespread and ready visibility, which are indispensable given the demand for immediate debate and comparison of scientific findings. This launch Editorial provides an overview of the field, and highlights some of the journal policies.'

More on NIH-funded research to feed PubChem

Lisa Rossi, Pitt Receives $9 Million from NIH to Develop Biomedical Research Tools That May Aid Drug Discovery Efforts, PittChronicle (newspaper of the University of Pittsburg), June 20, 2005. Excerpt: 'Pitt’s School of Medicine has received $9 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish the University of Pittsburgh Molecular Libraries Screening Center (UP-MLSC). The center is one of nine in the nation that will create the most sophisticated methods for rapidly assessing hundreds of thousands of compounds for their biological activities and therapeutic potential—a capability that has until now been limited almost exclusively to pharmaceutical companies. Moreover, to help speed the use of promising targets for drug development, all information collected by the centers will be freely available to the entire scientific community through PubChem, a comprehensive [OA] database that has been established by NIH.'

The Scripps Research Institute received a $10.4 million grant for similar research. See today's press release: 'A group of researchers at the La Jolla, California, and Palm Beach County, Florida, campuses of The Scripps Research Institute has been awarded a $10.4 million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish The Scripps Research Institute Molecular Screening Center. This is a pilot program to discover small molecule tools for translating basic biomedical discoveries more quickly into medically relevant applications....[A]ll the chemical structures and biological data generated by the network screening centers will be deposited into a government-owned database called PubChem, which is a component of the NIH Molecular Libraries and Imaging Roadmap Initiative and maintained by the National Library of Medicine.'

Open Media, not counting academic and research media

Always On and Technorati have published their picks for the Open Media 100. Kudos to all the good people and projects honored on the list.

(PS: The list focuses on open alternatives to "mainstream media", and therefore omits the work being done on open access to scholarly media and research literature. This focus is understandable, since there's a lot of exciting work going on in open news and entertainment. But it's also regrettable, since there's a lot of exciting work going on in open science and scholarship. Moreover, the movements are kin, support one another, overlap in many of their tools, actions, and beneficiaries, and gain from the synergy of their common interests. Note to Always On and Technorati: Next year, widen your vision.)

Improved online access for UK archives

UK archives (in the original "archival" sense of archives), or at least the subset that are already digital, online, and OA, will soon become interoperable and cross-searchable. From a Monica Halpin post to the archives-nra list (June 21): 'The UK's leading archive bodies have agreed a groundbreaking new programme which will revolutionise online access to archives. The programme, aUK, will be a powerful new search engine to connect all of the UK's archives. It will promote the development and digitisation of new archival content, taken from both official records and different kinds of community and independent archives. And it will set new technological standards with a focus on improving interoperability standards and initiating a new strategy for the hosting of the UK's online archives. The members of the scheme are: Chris Batt, Chief Executive of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council; Liz Hallam-Smith, Chair of the National Council on Archives; Gwyn Jenkins, Director of Collection Services of the National Library of Wales; George Mackenzie, Chief Executive of the National Archives of Scotland; Gerry Slater, Chief Executive of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland; Sarah Tyacke, Chief Executive of the National Archives. Sarah Tyacke CB, Chief Executive of the National Archives, said: "This programme will break new ground in enabling people to search online for historical records and information, whether they're researching their family tree, finding out the story of their street, or investigating a school history project. It's a technical solution which will make an enormous difference to the way we manage and access information about our past, and we're all tremendously excited about it."' (Thanks to Paul Miller.) (PS: Apparently the aUK Project does not yet have a website.)

Video of symposium on open networks

From MITWorld comes Open Networks and Open Society: The Relationship between Freedom, Law, and Technology. The speakers include Hal Abelson, Class of 1922 Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, MIT School of Engineering, speaking on OpenCourseWare and DSpace as examples of "free and open academic publishing;" and John Wilbanks, Executive Director of Creative Commons.

More on Google and publishers

Burt Helm, A New Page in Google's Books Fight, BusinessWeek, June 22, 2005. Excerpt: "Publishers have finally had a chance to look at some of the details of Google's Print for Libraries project, a massive effort to digitize books that some publishers fear could violate copyright laws. So far, many publishers don't like what they see -- and they want Google to agree to a six-month moratorium."

OA at Duke Law School

Duke Law School is justifiably proud of its OA initiatives. From its recent press release, Duke Law Journals Lead with Open Access to Scholarship (undated): 'Duke Law School's seven student-edited journals were prominently featured in the June 6 th unveiling of the Open Access Law Program, an initiative of Creative Commons and its Science Commons Publishing Project. The announcement of the Open Access Law Program was notable not only for the encouragement and support the Program will provide for increasing free access to scholarly literature in law, but for its acknowledgment of Duke Law School's longstanding commitment to making legal scholarship freely available on the World Wide Web to international and interdisciplinary audiences, as well as to legal scholars. Unlike most other law reviews, Duke's journals all explicitly allow authors to post articles published in the journals without restriction on freely-accessible third party web sites, as well as on Internet sites under their own control. Duke's journals have already been operating in conformance with the newly stated principles of the Open Access Law Program. William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law James Boyle sees strong institutional benefits from the policy: "The promise that their works will be accessible world wide to anyone with an Internet connection clearly attracts excellent authors to our journals. At the same time, Duke Law satisfies part of our public service obligation to make our research available as widely as possible, without regard to the income of the potential reader. It's a win-win situation."...In addition to publishing its journals under open access principles, the Law School encourages Duke faculty to make their own works easily available to other scholars in electronic formats. Duke Law School Information Services has created a comprehensive open repository of current and retrospective Duke Law faculty scholarship at The repository provides full-text access to faculty writings through direct searching, as well as through links from online bibliographies, curriculum vitae and other means....Professor Boyle credits Richard Danner, Senior Associate Dean for Information Services and Archibald C. and Frances Fulk Rufty Research Professor of Law with having inspired Duke's commitment: "Thanks to Dick's leadership, our journals have all been freely available online since 1996-97. In Internet years, that is an almost geological length of time."'

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

INASP providing access to Web of Science in Africa

INASP is providing online acress to the ISI Web of Science in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. From yesterday's press release: 'The staff working on the Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information [PERI], a programme of INASP (the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications) face one of the most challenging tasks in the information industry today. Their job is to maximise the opportunities for researchers in developing countries by providing access to world-class information resources. The agreement giving Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania access to Web of Science(R) is the latest in an impressive list of success stories for INASP, but they prefer to keep out of the spotlight. INASP was established in 1992 by the International Council for Science (ICSU) to improve access to information and knowledge through a commitment to capacity building in emerging and developing countries....Increased knowledge and learning within developing countries increases local capacities and has the potential to reduce local dependency upon the advances made in richer countries that are typically very expensive to acquire. A stronger knowledge base prevents the economic advantage from patents, applications and useful results being lost to richer, more developed countries. Kofi Annan has spoken of how "the unbalanced distribution of scientific activity generates serious problems not only for the scientific community in the developing countries, but for development itself. It accelerates the disparity between advanced and developing countries, creating social and economic difficulties at both national and international levels." (Kofi Annan, A Challenge to the World’s Scientists, Science 2003 March 7; 299: 1485)..."Web of Science(R) and Journal Citation Reports(R) are sophisticated and extremely useful tools for researchers and information professionals. The fact that these tools are now available on a country-wide basis means colleagues in several developing countries can better inform, gauge and plan their research," said Sarah [Durrant, Senior Programme Manager at INASP.] "This is an important agreement for Thomson Scientific," said Keith MacGregor, Executive Vice President, Academic and Government markets, Thomson Scientific. "You cannot underestimate the role of quality research tools such as the Web of Science in helping researchers in developing countries to connect with - and contribute to - international research efforts.'

(PS: I can't tell whether INASP is providing free or merely inexpensive access to this content. INASP usually provides free access. But if this access were free, I'd think the press release would say so.)

Six finalists for using IT to promote development

The Development Gateway Foundation has announced six finalists in its global competition for using information technology to promote economic development. From yesterday's press release: 'Six finalists have been chosen from a field of 135 nominations for the Development Gateway Award 2005. The $100,000 award, to be announced in September, will recognize one finalist for outstanding achievement in using information technology to improve people's lives in developing countries....The finalists' stories will be shared on the Development Gateway Foundation’s global portal of development knowledge, to advance the understanding of their work and of these new technologies' catalytic role.'

More on the trade embargo on science

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, Society Bars Papers From Iranian Authors, Science Magazine, June 17, 2005. Excerpt: 'Six months after scientific societies and publishers won a hard-fought battle with the U.S. government to edit and publish manuscripts from countries under a U.S. trade embargo, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has decided to bar such submissions from its journals and conferences. The institute says the ban, which falls hardest on scientists from Iran, is necessary to protect national security. But other scientific associations say the decision is wrong-headed and could actually limit U.S. access to scientific developments in the four embargoed countries: Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and Sudan....AIAA's position that the ban is "consistent with U.S. laws" is incorrect, says Marc Brodsky, executive director of the American Institute of Physics (AIP), which has pushed hard to assure open communication with scientists in the embargoed countries. "There is no law or regulation I know of that requires AIAA to take the actions it has announced," he says. "Certainly it hurts our security to bury our head in the sand and not learn about what scientists and engineers are doing in the countries the institute has targeted."...In December, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) clarified that publications did not need the government's permission to edit and print papers from anywhere in the world (Science, 24 December 2004, p. 2170). That decision, which reversed an earlier ruling requiring journals to obtain a license in order to edit papers from embargoed countries, came after AIP and other publishers filed a lawsuit against OFAC in October 2004 alleging that the agency was violating freedom of speech. The suit cited a 1988 legal amendment that exempts information from trade embargoes....The policy has triggered internal dissent, according to some AIAA staff members who requested anonymity. "We're hopeful that it will be reversed," says one.'

Publishers ask Google for moratorium on scanning copyrighted books

Jeffrey Young, Publishers' Group Asks Google to Stop Scanning Copyrighted Works for 6 Months, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 21, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'The Association of American Publishers has asked Google to stop scanning copyrighted books published by the association's members for at least six months while the company answers questions about whether its plan to scan millions of volumes in five major research libraries complies with copyright law. Allan R. Adler, vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the publishing group, said in an interview on Monday that the association made its request in a letter, sent June 10, that stopped short of calling for a "cease and desist" of Google's Library Project....Mr. Adler said that the letter was sent to Eric Schmidt, Google's chief executive officer, and that it requests a meeting between top Google executives and leaders of the publishing group. Google officials said Monday evening that they had not yet replied to the association. "We have received the letter, and we have read it, and we are in discussions with publishers, authors, and the associate organizations to understand their concerns -- to listen to them as well as talk about the benefits of Google Print," said Susan Wojcicki, director of product management for Google Print. Does Google believe it has the right to scan copyrighted books without permission, provided the company -- as it has promised -- offers only short excerpts of those works to the public in search results? "Yes," said Ms. Wojcicki. "We believe that our program is fully consistent with fair use under copyright law." '

DSpace not explained

Simson Garfinkel, MIT's DSpace Explained, MIT Technology Review, July 2005. The title is misleading. Garfinkel gives more space to his failure to find a paper in DSpace than to an explanation of what it is. He doesn't mention that DSpace is open-access, open-source, or OAI-compliant (interoperable).

Slashdot on PubChem

There's now a Slashdot thread ("Open source molecules") on PubChem.

Access to digital representations of public-domain artworks

David Koller and Marc Levoy, Protecting 3D Graphics Content, Communications of the ACM, June 2005. Abstract: 'Valuable 3D graphical models, such as high-resolution digital scans of cultural heritage objects, may require protection to prevent piracy or misuse, while still allowing for interactive display and manipulation by a widespread audience. This article considers some techniques for protecting 3D graphics content, and describes a remote rendering system that we have developed for sharing archives of 3D models while protecting the 3D geometry from unauthorized extraction. Additionally, we demonstrate how digitized 3D models can be used to generate accurate physical replicas of artworks such as Michelangelo's David.'

Here are two good comments to get the conversation going:

From DocBug's Owning David, June 20, 2005: '[A]s academics Koller and Levoy understand how the free sharing of history, art and scholarly data contributes to society as a whole, but they also recognize that without some assurance that this data is not shared freely, the authorities who control access to the original works won't allow any sharing. The museum would also like to see the data shared with fellow researchers, but don't want to see it used to make replicas without their approval and license fees....What Koller and Levoy are protecting are not the museum's property — the 3D models of David belong to the public at large. What they are protecting is a business model, one that is based on preventing the legitimate and legal sharing of information. Their opponents in this battle are neither thieves nor pirates, they are merely potential competitors for the museum's gift shop, or customers the museum fears losing.'

From Ernest Miller's Free the David, June 20, 2005: 'Piracy!? Theft!? I do not blame the authors of the paper, who are forced to agree with the relevant authorities in order to gain access to the works in the first place (and it is better that the works are scanned than not at all). I do blame the cultural authorities who dare to claim a gatekeeper function to the digital reproductions of these works that are the cultural heritage of the world. These works are not "owned" by their representative cultural institutions, but held in trust for all mankind: a position of responsibility with a duty to preserve our common cultural heritage. A secondary duty is to provide open access to these works, consistent with the duty to preserve....When digital scans can provide everything but physical access, the true pirates and thieves are those who would deny such access. They may do so out of a misguided belief that they require such control in order to fund themselves, but this only means that they are essentially holding access to our cultural heritage hostage.'

Monday, June 20, 2005

Google rep speaks to publishers group

Richard Byrne and Jennifer Howard, Participants in University-Press Group's Meeting Tackle Digital Publishing and Politics, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 20, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). A report on this year's meeting of the American Association of University Presses (AAUP). Excerpt: 'The controversy over Google's plan to digitalize the books of its partners in the Library Project -- Harvard and Stanford Universities, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the University of Oxford, and the New York Public Library -- made a discussion called "Online Opportunities" among the best-attended and most fractious at the meeting. The star witness was Tom Turvey, Google's director of strategic partner development, Web search, and syndication. "There's a lot of misinformation floating around, to say the least," he told a crowd that seemed by turns skeptical and hostile. One questioner floated the idea that Google would risk litigation just to "force the market to a decision." Mr. Turvey responded that "it's the nature of Google to crank out products and then improve them. On the other hand," he added, "I'd say we have great respect for copyright and copyright law." Mr. Turvey asked people in the audience who did Internet searches using Google or Google Print to raise their hands, then asked: "How many of you are hired assassins?" That got a laugh, but the audience was less amused by his reply to a question about whether publishers still control works scanned as part of the Library Project: "We are in active dialogue with our partners and other people in the industry about these issues," he said. At that, one audience member turned to the person next to her and whispered, "Where's my gun?"'

More on the Google-Michigan contract

Dan Carnevale, U. of Michigan Unveils Its Book-Scanning Contract With Google, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 20, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor has released the details of the contract it signed with Google to digitize books and allow the texts to be searchable online. John P. Wilkin, an associate university librarian at Michigan, said the university made the contract available to give more "transparency" to the controversial partnership....The contract shows that the university is not making any money in the deal, Mr. Wilkin said, although Google is compensating the university for the costs of handling and transporting the books. "We try to ensure that there's as much information out there as possible to lay to rest any conspiracy theories," Mr. Wilkin said. "I hope that whoever thought that there was something lurking in the contract will find that it is very straightforward."...The contract says the agreement between the University of Michigan and Google must follow copyright law. "If at any time, either party becomes aware of copyright infringement under this agreement, that party shall inform the other as quickly as reasonably possible," the contract states. It continues: "If either party reasonably determines that a portion of the Selected Content that was previously thought to be in the public domain is actually subject to copyright, that party shall promptly notify the other party in a writing that particularly identifies the portion(s) and provides an explanation for why the portion(s) are believed to be subject to copyright."..."I'm sure we will grapple with the copyright issues for a while now," [Wilkin] said. "It's time to move on to the big interesting issues for what this means for higher education, for research libraries, and for an informed public."'

Related: See my take on whether the contract allows Michigan to offer open access to the public-domain books Google digitizes from the Michigan library.

More on the House decision on PubChem

Susan Morrissey, House May Ask NIH To Limit PubChem, Chemical & Engineering News, June 20, 2005. Excerpt: 'A house appropriations subcommittee has added language aimed at the National Institutes of Health's PubChem chemical structure database to a report accompanying the Labor, Health & Human Services (HHS) & Education appropriations bill....According to draft language, NIH is asked to reevaluate its database: "The committee is concerned that NIH is replicating scientific information services that already exist in the private sector. In order to properly focus PubChem, the committee urges NIH to work with private-sector providers to avoid unnecessary duplication and competition with private-sector chemical databases." In a statement, ACS noted that it is pleased with the report language. ACS also recognized recent interactions with NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni. "We appreciate Dr. Zerhouni's personal engagement in this issue and will continue to work diligently with NIH toward a collaborative model and solution that will best serve the scientific community." For its part, NIH said in a statement that it appreciates the House support of its "ongoing effort to resolve concerns about any potential impact on privately run chemical databases," adding that "NIH continues to work with ACS and is optimistic that we can move forward together to resolve any issues."'

(PS: The ACS is spinning the House action as well as it can --Chemical & Engineering News is published by the ACS. Because the ACS asked the House appropriations committee to defund PubChem and the committee refused, most observers think House action is a defeat for the ACS. For example, see Bobby Pickering's story in IWF, Eric Wills' story in CHE, or Jocelyn Kaiser's story in Science.)

Brewster Kahle on OA to digital books

Michael Rogers, Turning books into bits, MSNBC, June 19, 2005. Excerpt: 'Several years ago journalist John Lenger told a remarkable story in the Columbia Journalism Review about teaching a journalism class at Harvard’s extension school. He asked his young students to write a story about a Harvard land deal that occurred in 1732, but after a week of research, most came back with almost nothing substantial to report. The problem: They had done most of their research using the Internet, walking right past Harvard’s library and archives, where the actual information could be found. When Lenger questioned their research methods, one student replied that she assumed that anything that was important in the world was already on the Internet. When I told that story recently to Brewster Kahle, the founder of the San Francisco non-profit Internet Archive, he shook his head: "When we were growing up," he said, "we had great libraries. But for kids today, the Internet is their library. We are giving them an instantly accessible resource that is much worse than what we grew up with." But Kahle, along with Google, Amazon and a clutch of prestigious libraries worldwide are all working to change that: digitizing thousands of books every day, building a global library where every manner of content lives online....But making copies can also be a problem. One big hurdle for the universal Internet library is copyright....As a result, a coalition of academic publishers recently protested Google's current library digitization project, seeking reassurance that Google's digital copies won’t someday be used to replace demand for the physical copies....Over the past twenty years, however, Congress has significantly lengthened the period that books remain under copyright — and more importantly, those books now remain in copyright without any further action by the author. As a result, there are hundreds of thousands of "orphan books," still in copyright but whose authors may have died or lost interest in their creations. In earlier years, those books would have moved into the public domain, but now they technically remain under copyright — meaning that libraries and universities are very cautious about making digital copies as they may find themselves sued for infringement. Kahle is currently pursuing a court challenge to clarify the question of digitizing such orphan books. "Much of the 20th century's media is locked up," he says. "Very little is being exploited because of the copyright explosion."...As the technologists digitize, librarians will organize --and somewhere out in the future will finally arrive what Kahle calls "the library we owe our children."'

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Interview with Francis Muguet on OA and the World Summit

De l'intérêt de promouvoir le libre accès dans l'enceinte du SMSI, Libre Accès à l'information scientifique & technique (from INIST-CNRS), June 20, 2005. An interview with Francis Muguet on open access. Francis is a Researcher at the Laboratoire de Mathématiques Appliquées de l'Ecole Nationale des Sciences et Techniques Avancées (ENSTA) and the Chairman of the Civil Society Working Group on Scientific Information at the World Summit on the Information Societ (WSIS or in French, SMSI). Read the original French or Google's English.

Canadian Library Association endorses OA

The Canadian Library Association (CLA) adopted A Resolution on Open Access on June 17. Excerpt:

Whereas connecting users with the information they need is one of a library's most essential functions, and access to information is one of librarianship's most cherished values; and

Whereas scholars and funders of research desire to share their research results and enhance the impact of their research; and

Whereas the scholarly publishing industry has been experiencing a cycle of price increases above inflation rates, leading to library cancellations, leading to further price increases, and so forth, with no relief in sight, and has thus negatively impacted access to research; and

Whereas the Open Access alternative involves making peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles freely available over the web through open access journals and/or author self-archiving; [...]

Be it resolved that the CLA formally declare its commitment to Open Access by signing the Budapest Open Access Initiative, and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities; and

Be it resolved that CLA implement Open Access as expeditiously as possible, and CLA Executive Council report back to the next Annual General Meeting with regards to progress.

Update. The day before the CLA adopted its resolution, the Canadian Association of College and University Libraries (CACUL), adopted a nearly identical resolution. The chief difference is in the final sentence. Where the CLA resolves to implement OA "as expeditiously as possible", CACUL resolves to implement it "to the greatest extent possible with regards to its own publications and communications." CACUL is a division of the CLA.