Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Beijing presentations

The presentations from the International Conference on Policies and Strategies for Open Access to Scientific Information (Beijing, June 22-24, 2005) are now online. (Thanks to D.K. Sahu.)

Update. If you can't open the PDF files at the meeting site, then try the files at mirror site created by Les Carr.

Free access event in Prokuplje

Round-Table Discussion on Free Access to Information, a press release (July 2) apparently from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Excerpt: 'The OSCE Mission to Serbia and Montenegro, the office of the National Commissioner for Freedom to Access Information, the Coalition for Free Access to Information and the Toplica Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, organized a round-table discussion on "Free Access to Information – Rights and Responsibilities", in the Municipal Building in Prokuplje. At the discussion, the representatives of institutions, media and NGOs from Prokuplje, Blace, Kursumlija and Brus, got introduced to the “Guidebook to the Law on Free Access to Information”, published by the Open Society Institute Serbia with the goal to promote the Law to the general public. The publication was supported by OSCE Mission to SCG....The participants agreed that the right to free access to information is required for the efficient observance of the other rights and freedoms. It is also an indispensable control instrument in the supervision of the work of state bodies and efficient instrument in the fight against corruption.' (PS: The Prokuplje meeting was one of six in a series on the same subject held at different cities in Serbia and Montenegro.)

An informatics perspective on the NIH policy

William Bug, The Impact of the NIH Public Access Policy on Literature Informatics: What Role Can the Neuroinformaticists Play? Neuroinformatics, Summer 2005. Only this abstract is free online for non-subscribers, at least so far: 'The recent furor over the NIH Public Access Policy (NPAP) to create an "open" life science research literature archive to be activated as of May 2005 has brought to the fore opinions from a variety of interested parties (Ascoli, 2005; Merkel-Sobotta, 2005; Velterop, 2005). Researchers as authors and readers, science-technical-medical (STM) for-profit and society-based publishers, government agencies involved in the effective administration of research support, patient-advocacy groups seeking free access to publicly funded medical research, and legal experts concerned with the evolving concept of copyright in a digital age have all weighed in on this topic. The one voice noticeably absent from this public arena has been that of the informaticist. In this commentary I will explore informatics issues associated with this new policy. I begin with an historical synopsis of literature informatics to help place issues in proper context. I follow this with a review of pragmatic approaches our young field of neuroinformatics may apply to the growing literature base.'

More on Taylor contra RCUK

Graham Taylor, Don't tell us where to publish, The Guardian, July 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'The RCUK policy assumes that someone else is handling publication [and peer review] in a sustainable way so that outputs can be lodged with repositories. But deposit on publication can only cannibalise the very system that makes mandating deposit viable in the first place. And then there are the costs. Is the current system failing? If access is a problem, where is the evidence?...Publishers will support their authors in making their material available through repositories, provided they are not set up to undermine peer-reviewed journals. We say to RCUK, by all means encourage experiments, but don't mandate. Don't force transition to an unproven solution. Whatever you do, make the true costs transparent. The paper backing up the policy makes little or no acknowledgement of what the learned societies and publishers have achieved over the last 10 years. This is not to say that the current system is perfect - it's not, but it's getting better fast as societies and publishers innovate and experiment with the technology that enables access. Evolution is inevitable, but we should allow time for the evidence to make the case, rather than standing on principle - the very basis, in fact, of most of the research outputs that this debate is all about.' Taylor is the director of educational, academic and professional publishing at The Publishers Association.

More on the NIH programs to feed PubChem

Elizabeth Tolchin, NIH's New Screening Network Takes Shape, BioScience Technology, July 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'As part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Roadmap initiative the agency is awarding grants to nine institutions to establish a Molecular Libraries Screening Centers Network that will use high-throughput screening techniques to identify small molecules that can be used to further disease research. The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is one of the nine institutes selected and received $9 million from the NIH to establish the University of Pittsburgh Molecular Libraries Screening Center (UP-MLSC). John Lazo, PhD, professor of pharmacology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is principal investigator of the UP-MLSC....Lazo expects that there will be future discussions about whether there should be standardization among the different centers on a single common platform. "We do know that all information generated is to be deposited into PubChem." '

OA to medical research: "It's about time"

George Lundberg, Open Access Medical Publishing Is Finally Coming Alive, MedGenMed eJournal, July 2005. An audio-visual editorial. Here's the only text: 'Taxpayers pay for most medical research and clinical medicine in the United States and most developed countries. Then who owns the results of that research? The taxpayers, obviously. And yet, forever it seems, the researchers and authors have published their results, as if they owned them, in whatever primary-source medical and science journals they wished and have transferred their copyright ownership to that publisher. The publishers of the journals then solicit advertising, receive membership dues, and sell paid subscriptions for access to the information back to the taxpayer, so taxpayer doctors can treat taxpayer patients. Wait a minute! Am I saying that the owners of the results have to pay for it again in order to use it medically? Yuck. But now, we have open access publishing, first made possible by the Internet, with full-text published articles available free of charge to all. Does this threaten medical publishers? Oh, yeah. Many of the biggest ones still refuse to participate. Fortunately for doctors and patients, this is changing. Medscape, PubMed Central, FreeMedicalJournals, BioMed Central, the Public Library of Science/Medicine, and others all provide full-text, primary-source articles free to the doctor and patient user. And the National Institutes of Health finally is exerting some real leadership with the research community to make this a much larger movement. It's about time. That's my opinion. I'm Dr. George Lundberg, Editor of MedGenMed.'

What's at stake in open archives

Laurent Romary and Christine Aubry et Joanna Janik, Les archives ouvertes : enjeux et pratiques, Revue Documentaliste, April 2005. In French.

SPARC-ARL presentations

Most of the presentations from the SPARC-ACRL session at the ALA conference, Three Big Ideas Transforming Scholarly Communication [The Commons, Taxpayer Access, and Googlization] (Chicago, June 25, 2005), are now online.

July issue of SOAN

I just mailed the July issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue takes a close look at the draft open-access policy from the RCUK and ways to make open-access literature more visible than it already is. It also updates last month's report on journal policies toward NIH-funded authors. The Top Stories section takes a brief look at the new Swan-Brown study of self-archiving, the OA Law Program from Science Commons, the rising impact factors at BMC and PLoS, a raft of new resolutions endorsing OA, and the House of Representatives support for PubChem against the lobbying of the American Chemical Society.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Comparing Google Scholar and Scirus

Greg Notess Scholarly Web Searching: Google Scholar and Scirus, Online, July/August 2005. Excerpt: 'A quick comparison with a search for the terms protonation alkylation finds a claim of 2,068 journal article hits and another 1,524 Web results at Scirus. The same search at Google Scholar reports "about 1,820" records of all types. Given Google’s usual difficulty in accurately counting results, that number is probably within about 500 records or so of the actual amount. On other searches Scholar finds more, but since each covers unique content, neither is comprehensive. The same search in the native interface American Chemical Society (ACS) publications database finds 21,685 articles. The ACS journals are included in neither Scholar nor Scirus....Both Scholar and Scirus search through the full text of an article, but this is inconsistent. Searching phrases found toward the end of an article may fail to retrieve the article. For those online journal packages that include full-text searching capabilities, using the native search interface will be more comprehensive....For fielded searching using authors, date, subject terms, or article type, the commercial databases and native search interfaces have many more choices....The freshness of these databases is a significant issue. As Joann Wleklinski noted in her May/June 2005 ONLINE article...the database used by Google Scholar is static at this point --it's not adding newer documents. Scholar definitely needs to be updated more frequently. In fact, at this point, the main Google Web search is a much better tool for finding recent scholarly documents than Google Scholar....Strangely enough, both of these tools may work better, or at least appear to work better, for the affiliated scholar. With all the subscriptions available on campus based on IP access authentication, the campus-based researcher finds that the links in Google Scholar and Scirus work seamlessly, providing direct access to the full-text articles. Both would work better if the Open-URL resolver could be added automatically, based on IP address, since many institutions have multiple access points, or like us, have our Elsevier subscriptions on a non-ScienceDirect platform.'

Tutorial on OA archiving for authors

The folks at OpenMED@NIC, the OA repository for medical literature at India's National Informatics Centre, have written an OpenMED Self-Help Tutorial to help authors understand the submission process. It could help authors submitting work to any OA repository. However it consists of PPT slides without much connective tissue between bullet points. It would probably work better to support an oral presentation than as written instructions for newcomers.

Playing catch-up: June 30 blog postings

Here are the major blog postings I made by email to SOAF while OAN was down last week. June 30, 2005:

  • New issue of Theke aktuell. The new issue of Theke aktuell (vol. 12, no. 2, 2005) is now online. Here are the OA-related articles. (Sorry there are no deep links.)
    • Rike Balzuweit, Open Access - Offener Zugang zu wissenschaftlichem Wissen.
    • Ulrike Specht, Rechtliche Aspekte der Werkverwertung im Rahmen von Open Access.
    (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

  • More on open science and national security. Brian J. Gorman, Balancing National Security and Open Science: A Proposal for Due Process Vetting, Yale Journal of Law and Technology, Spring 2005. Abstract: 'Since 9/11 and the anthrax attacks of the same year, the national security and scientific communities have been grappling with a dilemma over the danger posed by the publication of "dual use" science that may advance basic science and aid bioterrorists at the same time. A spate of life science articles recognized as having the ability to aid bioterrorists or enemy combatants have been published amid much consternation. The national security community turned to experts in the life sciences to develop options to address this dilemma, but the scientific community has responded defiantly at times with surprising recommendations to expose and distribute sensitive articles even more widely despite the obvious risks to national security. After succumbing to pressure from the government, the scientific community ultimately adopted a censorship policy for sensitive research. Thus the censorship policy begs questions as to whether it is sincere and whether it will dissuade researchers from pursuing biodefense research. This paper attempts to move the debate away from emotions and politics to specific methodologies to address this dilemma. A Due Process Vetting System is presented along with a Risk Assessment Scale and a Least Restrictive Classification System for the communication, assessment and disposition of sensitive life science research in a manner consistent with national security interests.'

  • Overpriced and out of date. ResearchAndMarkets issued a press release today to advertise a report on Open Access Publishing Models. But before you buy: the 28-page report costs 425 Euros and was first published 18 months ago. The R&M ad page doesn't even give credit to Christine Lamb, who originally wrote the report for Shore Communications. Tip: Read Christine Lamb's article version of the same report in the April 2004 issue of Learned Publishing. It's OA.

  • Digital literature and OA at the British Library. British Library predicts 'switch to digital by 2020', a press release from the British Library, June 29, 2005. Excerpt: 'Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library, today predicted a switch from print to digital publishing by the year 2020. Speaking at the launch of the Library’s new three-year strategy, Lynne Brindley said: "Most people are aware that a national switch to digital broadcasting is expected by the end of this decade. Less well known is the fact that a similar trend is underway in the world of publishing: by the year 2020, 40% of UK research monographs will be available in electronic format only, while a further 50% will be produced in both print and digital. A mere 10% of new titles will be available in print alone by 2020.'

    The press release doesn't mention OA. But the BL three-year strategy does. Excerpt: 'Changes taking place in the ways in which researchers are disseminating their work include Open Access publishing and subject-based or institutional repositories....The Library's role is to support varied forms of research output, working with publishers and other information providers. We're participating in a number of collaborative projects with higher education to establish digital repositories and create the tools that will underpin them. An example is our involvement in the development of a national e-thesis service....There is growing awareness in government that the fruits of publicly-funded research should be available for public consultation quickly and easily.'

    Note that the new RCUK draft OA policy was issued in "partnership" with the British Library (paragraph 4), and counts on the British Library to play a role in the long-term preservation of OA research literature (paragraph 31).

  • Sun pushes OA to books, teaching materials. Stephen Shankland, Sun makes case for open-source schooling, ZDNet, June 28, 2005. Excerpt: 'Sun Chief Executive Scott McNealy on Tuesday urged participation in a shared effort to create freely available online educational materials for schools. The effort, called the Global Education and Learning Community (GELC), produces curriculum materials such as online books for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. McNealy envisions the replacement of expensive and quickly out-of-date textbooks by shared online instructional materials, testing, grading and assessment tools, all created by experts. "This is all about open-sourcing K-12 educational materials. Imagine you have process where we can get the best educators to create the world's best third-grade math textbook and make it free," McNealy said at the JavaOne trade show here. "Help contribute your time, your energy, your focus and maybe even your money."...[I]t's not just feel-good work, but directly tied to the Sun's bottom line, Sun President Jonathan Schwartz argued in an interview on Tuesday. "The more people are on the network," he said, "the more demand there is for network infrastructure," which is Sun's primary business. "What's good for the world is good for our business." ' (Thanks to LIS News.)

    Comment. Does this mean that Sun has an interest in promoting OA to research literature? That every company in the network infrastructure business has an interest in promoting OA?

  • One of America's oldest journals moves toward OA. Psyche: A Journal of Entomology, published since 1874, is moving toward OA. From the web site: 'As of spring 2005, editorial strategy meetings are ongoing and focus on sponsorship and on how to establish a sustainable publication process. It is hoped that regular publication will resume in an on line, open access format by early 2006. We will be scanning most back issues, from volume 17 (1910) through the present, in June 2005. Look for about 2500 .pdf files on this web site in July or August.' (Thanks to John Wilbanks.)

  • "Making money out of restricting access to research is immoral". A question of ethics, The Guardian, June 30, 2005. An interview with Richard Smith, former editor of BMJ. Excerpt: 'Before the internet came along, scientific papers had to be published in journals. But now, he says, journals should give up what are effectively immoral earnings. They add no value to the scientific research, and yet it may take a year or more before they publish and they then charge people to read it. "Making money out of restricting access to research is immoral," he says. Instead, he says, all research should be published in one large free database, with access for all. Smith has joined the board of directors of the free access online Public Library of Science (PLoS). The biggest problem with this scenario is financial. Journals make more money from reprints of scientific papers than they do from advertising. Pharmaceutical companies strive to get their drug trials in the best-known journals, because the cachet helps sales. They will order hundreds of thousands of reprints for their reps to distribute in hospitals and GP surgeries. It is a huge earner, and the journals have become reliant on the money. Some journals would go bust, but Smith does not think they would be mourned. "All this would mean is that instead of 30,000 journals or whatever, you might have 50 to 100 good ones," says Smith with equanimity. He does not accept the arguments of medical societies, which publish some of the journals, that they need the income to support other activities. "If these are genuine value-added things, you should find a way for them to pay for themselves," he says.' (Thanks to Ben Toth.)

    PS: Also see Smith's article, Medical Journals Are an Extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmaceutical Companies, PLoS Medicine, May 2005.

  • Record of an electronic publishing veteran. Charles W. Bailey, Jr., A Look Back at Sixteen Years as an Internet Electronic Publisher, June 29, 2005. A timeline of Charles' 16 years as an internet electronic publisher, from his launch of the PACS-L mailing list in 1989 to his Open Access Bibliography and DigitalKoans blog this spring.

  • The importance of preprint exchange. R. Ramachandran, Should the IMD monopolise monsoon forecasts? The Hindu, June 29, 2005. Excerpt: 'Early this month, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) took an unacceptable step. It stated that only the India Meteorological Department (IMD), an agency under the DST, had the mandate to make public the annual long-range monsoon forecast and no other agency or institution could do so, even in the research mode....[I]n physical sciences, it has been a long-standing tradition of disseminating research findings much before they are published in the form of 'preprints'. The preprint tradition is very healthy. Circulation of preprints serves to validate research findings by a scrutiny within the scientific community, a sort of informal peer review. The DST has argued that since the forecasts are not published in any peer-reviewed journal, they should not be publicised. This goes against the spirit of the preprint and e-preprint tradition. The implication of the DST move, therefore, is that any research that may serve public interest should not be disseminated in advance of publication. If today the directive is against monsoon research findings, tomorrow it could be against, say, earthquake predictions. Therefore, irrespective of the merits of the CMMACS model, which uses neural networks as against the statistical approach of IMD, and the predictions based on it, the DST move sets a dangerous precedent.' (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)

Playing catch-up: June 29 blog postings

Here are the major blog postings I made by email to SOAF while OAN was down last week. June 29, 2005:

  • More on the RCUK draft policy. Donald MacLeod, Research councils back free online access, The Guardian, June 29, 2005. (Thanks to Pablo Stafforini.) Excerpt: 'Thousands of British academics in every subject from art history to zoology will soon be required to make their research freely available online, the UK research councils have announced. The move flies in the face of government reluctance to offend the publishing industry and is a victory for proponents of open access to research findings. By making free access a condition of grants, the research councils, which control billions of pounds worth of funding, hope to give British research more impact worldwide as it is taken up and cited by other researchers. University libraries will benefit from an easing of the financial pressure to acquire more, and ever more expensive, journals as scholars can consult research for free. The UK is now said to lead the world in open access policy, but today the Publishers' Association raised the alarm, accusing the research councils of going "too far, too fast" without properly costing their proposals. International publishers, who lobbied hard against attempts by MPs to push open access pilots, are watching the research councils' moves closely....Today, some academics said they feared the research councils had left a loophole by saying that the condition would be dropped if there was no repository available. To date there are 55 open access repositories in the UK (including 34 universities and departments) . The majority of institutions have yet to set one up. But Stevan Harnad, of Southampton University, a leading advocate of open access, said he was confident the loophole would be plugged. "Not only does the UK have the second largest absolute number of open access archives [after the US], as well as one of the world's largest relative number, but once it has the RCUK policy too, it will also have the world's 'fullest' open access archives," he said....Graham Taylor, director of academic publishing at the Publishers' Association, said repositories could never be a channel for formal publishing because they did not have the peer review or editorial input of journals. All journals were experimenting with new forms of publication and it would be a mistake for the research councils to try to impose one particular solution. "Things are being forced too far, too fast without a full understanding of what is involved here," he said. Mr Taylor added that the costs of repositories were being seriously underestimated and they could prove unsustainable in practice.'

    Comment. Three quick replies to Graham Taylor. (1) No one claims that the kind of OA archiving required by the RCUK policy should replace peer review. On the contrary, the policy is explicit about the importance of peer review (Paragraph 18) and only applies to articles that have been published in peer-reviewed journals or presented at conferences (Paragraph 14.b). (2) The RCUK policy rests on a very "full understanding of what is involved here." See the report of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, based on six months of inquiry, four rounds of public hearings, and hundreds of written comments. The Research Councils have consciously built on the House committee report (Paragraphs 4, 24). (3) What is unsustainable is the cost of access *without* OA archives and OA journals.

  • Far-reaching consequences of digitization and OA. Lloyd A. Davidson, The end of print: digitization and its consequence --revolutionary changes in scholarly and social communication and in scientific research, International journal of toxicology, Jan-Feb, 2005. Only this abstract is free online for non-subscribers: 'The transformation from print to digital media for scientific communication, driven in part by the growth of the Internet and the tremendous explosion in the amount of information now available to everybody, is creating fundamental changes in institutions such as publishers, libraries, and universities that primarily exist for the creation, management, and distribution of information and knowledge. Scientific, technological, and medical journals are the first publications to be completely transformed from print to digital format but monographs are beginning to appear in digital format as well and soon all communication and publishing of scientific information will be entirely electronic. In fact, this change is affecting all components of the scientific enterprise, from personal correspondence and laboratory methods to peer reviewing and the quality assessment of scientific research. Along with these radical and rapid changes in information presentation and distribution are coincident changes in the expectations of both the public and other scientists, with both groups demanding ever more rapid, open, and global access to scientific information than has been available in the past. The consequence of this revolution in the mechanics of communications technology is threatening the very existence of a number of highly regarded institutions such as intellectual property, commercial publishers, scientific societies, and academic libraries and might soon begin to threaten even the traditional university.'

  • More on the RCUK draft policy. Aisha Labi, British Research Group Calls for More-Liberal Open-Access Policy Than NIH Supports, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 29, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'The umbrella organization for Britain's public research institutions issued a draft policy on Tuesday that strongly endorses free and prompt public access to research they have sponsored. The draft calls for publications that result from work financed by Britain's research councils after October 1 to be put 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." The proposal was published by Research Councils UK, commonly known as the RCUK, a partnership formed by Britain's eight government-financed research councils. The councils represent scientists as well as researchers in engineering, the arts, the humanities, and the social sciences. "It is an evolving policy, and this is just a starting point," said Astrid Wissenburg, a historian on the Economic and Social Research Council and the interim head of a committee that formulated the draft policy. "We felt it was time for us to take a position and encourage open and easy access to research output for everyone. The purpose of the policy is really to encourage scientists and researchers in the U.K. to deposit materials in archives when they have a right to do so," Ms. Wissenburg said. "If they have signed an agreement with a publisher that either restricts them completely or gives a time restriction -- for example, if the publisher says they are only allowed to deposit their work in six months -- then they can wait six months. So the phrase 'at the earliest opportunity' means when someone is legally allowed to do so. We're not overruling any agreement publishers have in place with authors." Advocates for open access welcomed the RCUK proposal. "It's a marvelous policy and very strong in almost all the right ways," said Peter Suber, a professor of philosophy at Earlham College, in Indiana, and a leader in the open-access movement. "It's a big step forward from the NIH policy, which merely requests, but does not mandate open access, and as a result is not likely to get full compliance." ...Ms. Wissenburg conceded that the RCUK exception -- allowing for delay because of copyright and licensing restrictions -- might create an incentive for publishers to begin imposing such restrictions on authors, as a way of dictating when their work could be placed in open-access repositories....Based on the NIH experience, Mr. Suber is certain of the outcome. "With the NIH policy, we've seen that publishers are requesting [PS: I said "requiring"] embargoes," he said. "They're saying, If you don't comply, we won't publish you. We'll see the same thing with the RCUK unless the language is tightened up before it's made final." Another element of the RCUK draft that will come under scrutiny during the public-comment period is a phrase that says there is "no obligation to set up a repository where none exists at present." Michael Fraser, coordinator of the Research Technologies Service at the University of Oxford, said that language is a way of letting institutions off the hook for the responsibility of establishing open-access repositories. He would rather see a policy that encourages recipients of public funds to spend part of that money on setting up and running an institutional repository.'

  • Proposal to mandate OA to California-funded stem-cell research. The University of California Academic Senate has publicly released its April 4 letter to California policy-makers urging them to mandate open access to California-funded stem-cell research. Excerpt: 'At its February meeting, the Academic Council unanimously endorsed the attached proposed policy, which we hope will be adopted by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. If adopted, this policy would require that scientific information arising from research funded by the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Bond Act of 2004 be made freely available on the web to other scientists and interested citizens within six months....[T]he following draft policy on public access and archiving of research results is submitted to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and its Independent Citizen's Oversight Committee (ICOC) for their consideration....The policy establishes an online open-access research repository configured so that: [1] Scientific information arising from Act-funded research is available without fee and in a timely fashion to other scientists, health care providers, medical and other students, teachers, and the California citizens who fund the research; [2] The critical roles of journals and publishers in peer review, editing, and scientific quality control processes are preserved; [3] Deposit in the repository supplements but does not replace traditional publication, providing access to those who cannot afford journal subscription costs, after an author-defined delay of no more than 6 months; [4] Where appropriate and at the researcher's discretion, source data also can be deposited and results are linked to such data; [5] Formal technology transfer through patents, etc. remains intact, just as it does through the current system of publishing peer-reviewed research findings. Similar public access policies are under development or recently adopted by the NIH, the UK research councils, and the Wellcome Trust, among others. While similar in intent, they differ in the particulars, especially with regard to: 1) the mandate: requiring vs. encouraging public access; 2) the delay: immediate public access or a delay of 6 or 12 months to accommodate concerns about preserving the market for journals; and 3) the timing: deposit and public access coordinated with the finalization of the peer review process or with initial publication....The Proposed Policy: Beginning [DATE], CIRM-funded investigators are required to submit to a trusted publicly-accessible repository an electronic version of the author's final manuscript resulting from research supported, in whole or in part, with direct costs from CIRM. The author's final manuscript is defined as the final version that has been accepted for journal publication, and includes all modifications from the publishing peer review process. Authors also are encouraged to submit source data upon which the published results are based, as well as book chapters, editorials, reviews, or conference proceedings related to the work. Under this Policy, electronic submission is made directly to a trusted, publicly accessible online repository, either at the investigator's or another institution.'

  • More on the RCUK draft policy. Richard Wray, Funding aid for open access, The Guardian, June 29, 2005. Excerpt: 'The drive to make publicly funded academic research available for free received a boost yesterday as the leading public investors in research proposed mandating researchers to put their writings on the internet. Research Councils UK (RCUK), which brings together the eight councils, wants to make it a condition of grants that researchers put work they have funded in freely-available online archives as soon as possible. The RCUK said its proposal, which will apply to all new grants awarded after October 1 this year, is just a starting point as the technology involved in publishing scientific research on the web is still evolving. The councils will also encourage researchers who received their grants before October to make their articles available. The move will be seen as a dramatic victory for proponents of open access to academic research and follows calls from a committee of MPs last year for more research to be available without charge on the internet.'

  • More on OA and national security. Associated Press, Controversial Milk Terror Report Released,, June 28, 2005. Excerpt: 'A scientific article that says terrorists could poison thousands of people through the milk supply --withheld at first at the government's request-- is being published despite continuing objections after the National Academy of Sciences concluded it wouldn't help attackers....Bruce Alberts, president of the Academy, said in an accompanying editorial that a terrorist would not learn anything useful from the article about the minimum amount of toxin to use. "And we can detect no other information in this article important for a terrorist that is not already immediately available to anyone who has access to information from the World Wide Web." In fact, he said publication of the article by the Academy could instead be valuable for biodefense....[F]ollowing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, some government officials have raised concerns that by obtaining biotechnology data terrorists might be able to engineer deadlier versions of diseases....Last September the National Research Council, an arm of the Academy, urged continued open access to scientific research. It also suggested creation of an advisory board to review research and report on any security implications.'

Playing catch-up: June 28 blog postings

Here are the major blog postings I made by email to SOAF while OAN was down last week. June 28, 2005:

  • Geist on Canadian copyright reform and access to knowledge. Michael Geist, Technology, culture, education, P2P Net, June 27, 2005. Excerpt: 'Last week the [Canadian] federal government unveiled Bill C-60, its long awaited digital copyright reform bill....While some of those provisions strike an admirable balance (most notably the approach to ISP liability which should serve as a model for other countries), the biggest disappointment is found in the tepid provisions on digitizing access to knowledge in Canadian schools and libraries. The bill contains provisions that are ostensibly designed to facilitate technology-based education and the digital delivery of library materials. Unfortunately, they fall far short of their goal by hobbling any new rights with suffocating restrictions that render the provisions practically useless. For example, Bill C-60 purports to promote Internet-based learning by permitting schools to communicate lessons featuring copyrighted materials via telecommunication. The bill quickly restricts that new right, however, by forcing schools to destroy the lesson within 30 days of the conclusion of the course. Moreover, schools are required to retain, for three years, records that identify the lesson as well as the dates it was placed on a tangible medium and ultimately destroyed. The library provisions are even more onerous, turning librarians in digital locksmiths, who are ironically compelled to restrict access to knowledge in order to provide it. The bill allows libraries and archives to provide digital copies of materials, however, in order to do so they must limit further communication or copying of the digital files and ensure that the files cannot be used for more than seven days. We can do better....In the short term, the provisions in Bill C-60 that seek to facilitate knowledge distribution through digital networks should be amended by removing the restrictions that have been placed on educational institutions and libraries. Such an approach would better ensure that all Canadians benefit from greater access to educational materials and life learning opportunities....As I suggested earlier this year, Canada could set an even more ambitious yet attainable goal – the digitization of every Canadian book, government document, and court case ever published. The public would benefit from unrestricted access to works in the public domain along with more limited access to other work, all without the need to seek any prior permission. Authors would still enjoy copyright protection in their work and would frequently find that greater access leads to increased commercial success.'

  • More on Open CRS. Brian Faler, Hard-to-Get Policy Briefings For Congress Are Now Online, Washington Post, June 28, 2005. Excerpt: 'A Washington research group has created a Web site where the public can read, submit and download the difficult-to-find public policy briefs members of Congress use to get up to speed on issues. The Center for Democracy and Technology has created an online database of Congressional Research Service reports that anyone with an Internet connection can now tap free of charge. The often-coveted but elusive reports are produced by CRS, a public policy research arm of Congress. CRS, which boasts hundreds of analysts and a $100 million budget, churns out hundreds of briefs each year on a wide range of topics....The reports have long been praised as nonpartisan, concise and readable. But they are reserved for members of Congress, committees and their staffs. A member of the public can get one generally only if a lawmaker chooses to release it. There is also at least one company, Penny Hill Press of Damascus, Md., that gathers up reports and then sells them for as much as $20 apiece. LexisNexis announced last week that it will also begin offering the reports through its online service. The CDT, a technology policy organization, complained that the reports are paid for with taxpayer money and ought to be readily available for free to anyone who wants one. "Taxpayers pay $100 million a year for this resource, yet they don't have ready access to it," said CDT spokesman David McGuire. "We don't think they should have to pay twice to get their hands on it." McGuire predicted the Web site, , will find an audience among academics, reporters, bloggers, librarians, college students and anyone else looking to bone up on an issue. A spokeswoman for the Library of Congress -- the CRS's parent agency -- said it did not have an opinion of the site. "We suggest that people get them through their congressional offices -- that's the way it's supposed to be done," Jill Brett said. "If [the CDT] can get the reports and put them up, we can't stop them." '

    Comment. I'm embarrassed by the peevish comment from the Library of Congress, my national library. Open CRS is undeniably lawful and undeniably helpful. The LOC position seems to be that third parties should not take advantage of lawful opportunities to remove access barriers, and users should not take advantage of barrier-free paths that third parties might create. Does that sound like a *librarian* talking?

  • The origin of the Google Library project. Gregory M. Lamb, Google's Multiple Personalities, Christian Science Monitor, June 27, 2005. A general profile of Google with this nice historical nugget on the origin of the Google Library project: 'Impossible dream: Take all the books ever written, digitize them, and make them available to the world. "We had all these cockamamie schemes for how we could get content," recalls Marissa Mayer, director of consumer Web products at Google. "We thought, well, could we just buy books? But then you don't get the old content. We thought maybe we should just buy one of every book, like from Amazon, and scan them all." How long would it take to scan all the world's books? No one knew, so Ms. Mayer and Google cofounder Larry Page decided to experiment with a book, photographing each page so that it could be digitally scanned. "We had a metronome to keep us on rhythm for turning the pages. Larry's job was to click the shutter, and my job was to turn the pages," Mayer says. "It took us about 45 minutes to do a 300-page book." With that ad hoc experiment, Google began its now controversial Digital Library project last December, signing agreements with the New York Public Library and the libraries of Stanford, Harvard, Oxford, and the University of Michigan to put their holdings online. Current projection: "Maybe inside of the next 10 years we'll have all the knowledge that's ever been published in book form available and searchable online," she says. "It's really a grand vision." ' (Thanks to LIS News.)

  • Sydney presentations on OA. The presentations from the conference, Information Online 2005 (Sydney, February 1-3, 2005) are now online. Many are on OA repositories. (Thanks to Eprintblog.)

  • Draft RCUK policy now online for public comment. The long-awaited Research Councils UK (RCUK) draft policy on open access is now posted at the RCUK web site for public comment. The comment period will end on August 31, 2005. From this morning's press release: ' The eight UK Research Councils, under the umbrella of Research Councils UK (RCUK), have proposed to make it mandatory for research papers arising from Council-funded work to be deposited in openly available repositories at the earliest opportunity....RCUK spokesman, Professor Ian Diamond said that Councils have already widely consulted the research community: "We've held workshops, given evidence at Select Committees, met with the publishers through a DTI working group and written out to all UK Vice Chancellors to share our views as they emerge on this issue and hear what others are saying," he said. "The technology that has led to this debate is still evolving and so is our position. We see today's statement as a starting point and we're actively seeking the views of all parties involved in the debate, such as the Learned Societies," he added. RCUK's position would apply to new grants awarded after 1 October this year...."The Research Councils are responsible for supporting and promoting the activities of a research base that is vibrant, productive and sustainable. We’re therefore committed to ensuring the widest possible dissemination of ideas and knowledge, effective quality assurance of research and its results, cost effective use of public funds and the long-term preservation of research outputs. Our emerging position on the access issue should come as no surprise to those who understand our remit," said Professor Diamond. RCUK proposes: [1] A requirement for all grants awarded from 1 October 2005 that, subject to copyright and licensing arrangements, a copy of any resultant published journal articles or conference proceedings should be deposited in an appropriate e-print repository (either institutional or subject-based) wherever such a repository is available to the award-holder. Deposit should take place at the earliest opportunity, wherever possible at or around the time of publication. [2] Research Councils will also encourage, but not formally oblige, award-holders to deposit articles arising from grants awarded before 1 October 2005. [3] Councils will ensure that applicants for grants are allowed, subject to justification of cost-effectiveness, to include in the costing of their projects the predicted costs of any publication in author-pays journals.'

    RCUK page on the OA policy (collecting related links)

    The RCUK Consultation, covering note

    RCUK Position Statement on Access to Research Outputs (PDF, 119 KB)

    Summary of RCUK Position Statement on Access to Research Outputs (PDF, 39 KB)

    Consultation to date

Playing catch-up: June 27 blog postings

Here are the major blog postings I made by email to SOAF while OAN was down last week. June 27, 2005:

  • OA presentations from Bonn meeting. The presentations from the 2005 IuK conference, In die Zukunft publizieren: Herausforderungen an das Publizieren und die Informationsversorgung in den Wissenschaften (Bonn, May 9-11, 2005), are now online. Half a dozen are on OA or OA-related topics. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

  • A new, larger list of OA journals. Jan Szczepanski, a librarian at Sweden's Goteborg University, has been collecting links and information on OA journals for years. While the DOAJ lists 1,625 OA journals (today), Jan's collection lists 3,759 current OA journals and 608 historic, retrodigitized OA journals (today). Until now, his collection was not available online. But with his permission, I've posted Jan's files to my site for all to use or download. It was not possible to convert them to HTML, but they should be usable in their present forms. If your browser will not display the files, you should be able to download them. Jan's list is larger than the DOAJ list in part because the DOAJ is working through a backlog, in part because Jan has focused especially on the humanities, and in part because Jan is willing to list journals that are not peer reviewed. Jan would like to be in contact with other librarians willing to collect and share new OA titles. His email address is Note that these files only represent Jan's collection as of June 27, 2005. He enlarges it continuously, and I won't be able to re-post every update to the files. But I will work with him to find another way to circulate the updates.

    Current OA journals
    (A large Word file, 3.48 MB.)

    Historic or retrodigitized OA journals
    (An Excel spreadsheet, 315 KB.)

    Update. Many users had trouble with the large DOC file of current OA journals. In response, I've made an HTML version of the file and John Kjellberg has made another version of the DOC file.

  • More on the publisher-requested moratorium for Google Library. Dan Carnevale and Jeffrey Young, Publishers' Group Asks Google to Stop Scanning Copyrighted Works for 6 Months, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 1, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'The Association of American Publishers has asked Google to stop scanning copyrighted books published by the group'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 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....Many publishers say that Google does not have the right to scan a copyrighted book. They argue that making a digital copy of a volume for any commercial purpose requires the permission of the copyright holder....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 [Susan Wojcicki, director of product management for Google Print]. "We believe that our program is fully consistent with fair use under copyright law."' (PS: This is a slightly expanded version of an article blogged here on June 21.)

  • More on Yahoo Search Subscriptions. Barbara Quint, "Fee" Web Content Accessed by Yahoo! Search Subscriptions, Information Today Newsbreaks, June 27, 2005. Excerpt: 'As part of its intense competition with Google, Yahoo! Search has now begun to extend its reach beyond the free content of the open Web and into the fee-based territory of the deep Web. With the beta launch of Yahoo! Search Subscriptions in the U.S. and the U.K., Yahoo! will enable users to simultaneously search multiple online subscription content sources and Web sources from a single search box. Initial content sources include, IEEE, Forrester Research, the Wall Street Journal Online, the New England Journal of Medicine,, and the Financial Times. Other major traditional vendors --Factiva, LexisNexis, Thomson Gale Group, and ACM (Association for Computing Machinery)-- have announced participation in the new service with selected content on the way in the next few weeks....Yahoo! Search has aimed at deep Web content for some time. The Content Acquisition Program it initiated early in 2004 specifically went after public databases and legacy systems not spidered by other Web search engines. Even before that, it had an arrangement with Northern Light to access fee-based traditional article content (this was discontinued when Northern Light dissolved its Web search service in 2002). Google's Scholar, Print, and Print Library projects have aimed their service at similar library-style content. In the case of the books digitized in Google Print and Google Print Library, the content is exclusive to Google....At present, Yahoo! has no intention of displaying ads in the Yahoo! Search Subscriptions content, nor is it charging publishers or content providers. "Right now no money is changing hands," said [Tim Mayer, director of product management at Yahoo! Search]. "If we can up the search intensity of existing users and acquire new users, then we can make more money. We have no plans for specific monetization of this new content, beyond regular search listings." The success of the program, according to Mayer, will be measured by "the uptake of the service, if people search more. We have seen lots of publishers contacting us just in the few days since the announcement of the service. There is a lot of interest in joining the program from many major publishers, most of those now for specific journals." '

  • End of the FAIR coming. Chris Awre, Sharing Resources, JISC Inform, Summer 2005 (scroll down to p. 10). Excerpt: 'A three-year programme looking at how colleges and universities can share their digital resources with one another comes to an end this autumn. The FAIR programme (Focus on Access to Institutional Resources) and its 14 projects have investigated the technologies and the organisational and cultural issues involved in making resources accessible by others, and in doing so have pioneered the development of digital repositories in the UK....The programme has influenced, and been influenced by, the growing open access movement, and many of the outcomes from FAIR have centred on the role of eprints and e-theses. But the sharing of images, of museum object data, and of datasets has also been the subject of projects, and enabled a cross-sectoral perspective on the issues that led to FAIR being initiated.'

  • Editorial on OA. J. Singh, Open access: To be or not to be? Indian Journal of Pharmacology, 37, 3 (2005) pp. 139-40. An editorial. Excerpt: 'Very few of us will disagree that there is a crisis in the availability of scholarly journals. Skyrocketing costs coupled with a lack of public funding have conspired to make journals disappear from most libraries. Even large academic institutes are becoming wary about using their meagre budgets for print journals with high price tags. Scientists, especially those working in cash-strapped developing countries are at a disadvantage of not being able to access international research....OA serves the interests of many groups, enlarges the audience of authors and increases the visibility and impact of their work and gives readers barrier-free access to the literature they need for their research. The rich and poor are put on an equal footing for these key resources and the need for permissions to reproduce and distribute content is eliminated....The Indian Journal of Pharmacology appreciates all the good that stems from the availability of OA. However it cannot accept the OA movement's stand on copyright. Doing away with copyright can lead to exploitation of published intellectual work by commercial organizations. A drug company, for example, can print and distribute any number of copies of an article without obtaining permission in order to promote its products....IJP will continue to be a Free Access journal and insist on copyright transfer. Readers may make a few copies of any article for personal use and distribute a limited number of copies for non-profit, non-promotional academic activities (such as workshop or lectures) without prior permission. Authors are also free to archive their articles (post-publication) in their personal or institutional repositories and this does not require permission from the journal. The journal intends to share the reprint revenue with the authors and it has no plans to adopt "author pays" model in the foreseeable future.'

    Comment. Except on one point, the Singh editorial shows a good understanding of OA. Indeed, much of it is based on my Open Access Overview, a use that I encourage. The exception is where it asserts that OA "does away with copyright". The IJP may have its reasons to put a cap on the number of copies that authors may make for personal use and to block copying by commercial organizations, but it should not mislead readers into thinking that the alternative, embraced by most OA journals, is to eliminate copyright.

  • Another TA editorial on OA. Mary Paquette, The Public-Access Movement, Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, April 2005. An editorial. Not even an abstract is free online for non-subscribers, at least so far.

  • A wiki to promote self-archiving. Ari Friedman has launched, a wiki designed to help faculty understand self-archiving and start doing it. Because it's a wiki, you can revise and enlarge it.

Playing catch-up: June 26 blog postings

Here are the major blog postings I made by email to SOAF while OAN was down last week. June 26, 2005:

  • Harnad on self-archiving at Vienna conference. "Open Access" statt teurer Lektüre, Wiener Zeitung, June 17, 2005. On the recent Chaos Control 2005 conference (Vienna, June 15-16, 2005), especially Stevan Harnad's lecture making the case for self-archiving.

  • More on publishers v. Google Print. Stephanie Merritt, Just how small is a snippet? The Guardian, June 26, 2005. Excerpt: 'Nigel Newton, chief executive of Bloomsbury, made an impassioned speech last month, calling Google's plans a 'Pandora's box', and urging publishers to look at alternative ways to exploit the inevitable move to digitised texts, such as establishing individual databases which Google's search engines could trawl for a fee. US publishers had appeared more enthusiastic than their British counterparts, with few British trade publishers willing to sign up until they know exactly how Google plans to distribute their content and what kind of payment will be offered. But the news that the AAP is to question Google on the legality of its plans suggests that the transition to downloadable books fully may not be as smooth as the media giant had anticipated. Many US publishers are asking whether Google has any right to scan a copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright holder. This problem applies primarily to the Library Project, under which two libraries involved, at the Universities of Michigan and Stanford, have agreed to let Google scan works that remain in copyright with the publisher. For authors, the value of Google Print is more problematic. If your book is published by one of the less prominent houses and is unlikely to be found in the average Waterstone's, surely it's to your advantage to have it available to online browsers? Academic publishers, which often lose out in high street sales, clearly believe so, with both Oxford and Cambridge University Presses already signed up to Google Print. The value of an online presence depends, of course, on how Google defines 'a snippet' of content, although it remains adamant that online access to partial text, with links to online booksellers for people who like what they see and want to buy the whole, can only be beneficial to writers and publishers in terms of sales.'

  • Connecting CiteULike and AnthroSource. Anthropologists are looking for ways to make CiteULike work with AnthroSource. For details, see this blog posting by Rex on Savage Minds.

  • ERIC adds content and features. ERIC (Education Resources Information Center), one of the oldest and largest databases of OA resources in any field, has just announced some enhancements to the collection. ERIC now supports nested boolean searching and other search improvements, has added new content, and keeps a list of the journals indexed in ERIC.

Playing catch-up: June 25 blog postings

Here are the major blog postings I made by email to SOAF while OAN was down last week. June 25, 2005:

  • Editorial endorsing OA. Barun K. Nayak, Humanity's Quest for Knowledge - Open Access- The IJO Initiative, Indian journal of ophthalmology, April-June, 2005. An editorial. Excerpt: 'Unfortunately, till now, access to [scientific research] was difficult because most research work was controlled by institutions and publishers who restricted it to only those who were able to pay for it. With Internet use becoming more common and overall costs of dissemination of knowledge falling significantly, the logical question that arose was - why should access be restricted when the research itself is conducted from taxpayers' money? This paved the way for an initiative known as the Open Access (OA) initiative, which is a means of making scientific literature digital, online and available free of charge to readers, while also cutting the delay inherent to the print medium....OA is here to stay and we all have something to gain from it. So, how do we overcome this hurdle posed by the Author Pay model? Is there a middle path between the unaffordable Reader Pay and unregulated Author Pay models? Fortunately, there is. It is in this context, that journals like the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology (IJO) have a major role to play. The cost of publication being borne by the journal and the parent association from its own resources, the IJO can afford OA. The IJO relies on its formidable team of reviewers to ensure that the reader gets authenticated peer-reviewed material. Similar efforts will have to be made by other publishers to ensure that their literature is not flooded with unregulated and repetitive material. All said and done, the IJO model of OA is workable and helps authors receive instant and wide readership. As a case in point, take the example of the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine (JPGM), published from Mumbai, India. Its commitment to the OA policy has not only increased the number of submissions, but also the citations. I would ask you all to support the OA initiative by adhering to the following points: [1] Publish your paper only in peer-reviewed journals that provide OA. [2] Serve as an editor or reviewer in journals committed to OA. [3] Ask for research funding to cover costs of publishing in the above. [4] If you publish in a non-OA journal, retain the copyright to your work and offer in its place the right of first print and electronic publication.'

  • More on the Santorum bill. Thomas Claburn, Reining In The National Weather Service, Information Week, June 23, 2005. Excerpt: 'Critics charge that S. 786 is an attempt to silence NWS. "If enacted, S. 786 would prohibit the National Weather Service from providing any service, including marine, public and aviation forecasts (other than severe weather warnings) to either the public, the media, academia, or state and local emergency management officials if private sector weather companies are or could provide a similar service for a fee," Richard Hirn, general counsel for the National Weather Service Employees Organization, wrote in a letter to Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. The National Weather Service is silent on the issue. As a government agency, it is unable to offer comment about proposed legislation that might affect it. But a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration notes that NWS isn't actively competing with the private sector. "There's no incentive for us to compete," he says. "No one has come to us and said this competes with our service."...[Steven Root, president of the Commercial Weather Service Association] says otherwise. "In fact, they're getting more and more into providing specialized, customized value-added products and services," he says. "They're doing it for free."...Commercial weather providers typically augment NWS data with additional sources of their own and tailor it for sale....Of course, it all comes down to profits. As a 2001 presentation from National Weather Service notes, "Taxpayer-funded government information --from corporate data from the Securities and Exchange Commission to patent data from the Patent and Trademark office-- is contributing to the spectacular growth in the information retrieval and database industries."...Efforts to control public information that profits the private sector are hardly new. Commercial providers of patent and trademark information opposed making the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database available online, a fight they lost in 1998. And in 1993, responding to pressure from public interest groups, the Securities and Exchange Commission made its Electronic Data Gathering and Retrieval System available online free of charge, a service Mead Data (subsequently purchased by Reed Elsevier and renamed Lexis-Nexis), under government contract, previously offered for a fee. Legislation designed to prohibit government-funded municipal wireless networks can be seen in a similar light. Those following S.786 note that the bill has not received much support and that it's currently languishing in committee. Sobien says the bill has a good chance of becoming law if it gets attached to other legislation, noting that a recent effort to attach it to an appropriations bill failed. He says he expects those backing the bill will try to attach it to an upcoming authorization bill for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.'

  • More on the trade embargo on science and literature. Christopher Byrd, Iranian Stories, The American Prospect, June 24, 2005. Excerpt: 'The U.S. Treasury Department tried to block an Iranian anthology. Then they got sued. Here's a look at what's between the covers....While a "general license" was granted to the publisher to "freely engage in the most ordinary publishing activities" with nations on America's "enemies list," it's vexing to note that such a license was required at all. Not to mention that it was only granted after a lawsuit had been filed against the U.S. government by Arcade, PEN American Center, the Association of American University Presses, and the Association of American Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division.'

  • More on the French response to Google. David Reid, French answer to Google library, BBC News, June 24, 2005. Excerpt: 'The French are far from relaxed about their creative treasures, and especially the contents of La Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF), their National Library. It is an asset that France's rulers believe is under-represented on the internet. With the Google Print project planning to put 4.5 billion pages of English onto the web, France has decided to do something similar with French, though on a smaller scale. In fact, France started digitalising parts of its national collection as long as 13 years ago, and in 1997 they began to put this collection online. Catherine Lupovici, head of the digital library department at the BNF, says: "It was a project with the new library to create a network that would be available for scholars, representing an encyclopaedic French library of French culture." The project they call Gallica has already put some 80,000 works and 70,000 images online, and it is currently working its way through the BNF's basement of 19th century newspapers....Jean-Noël Jeanneney, director of the BNF, believes it is only natural that Google Print should present an Anglo-Saxon or American view of history and the world. "I have no reproach; this is normal", he says. "But this will require a counterpart on our side of the ocean." This counterpart, or counter-attack, to what the French press calls "omnigooglisation", would be organised on a different basis to Google. Rather than using Google's famous algorithm, Mr Jeanneney proposes a panel of experts to rank works. He says: "I am not confident in the power of the market, when it works along profit-making alone, to organise the best page-ranking or hierarchy of knowledge. "I think this is dangerous. Culture is not chaos. Culture is a way of putting things together. A book helps to know another book and to understand it."...Google is the first port of call for 74% of French people doing a web search. If the BNF's aim is not just to preserve but also to proliferate French culture, they may well choose to go with Google.'

  • Is OA coming to Tanzania?. Juma Thomas, Govt to allocate more resources to research - Mkapa, IPP Media, June 25, 2005. Excerpt: 'President Benjamin Mkapa [of Tanzania] said yesterday that his government would allocate more resources to research and development as a result of the growth registered in the economy. Mkapa said that, currently the country was spending about 0.3 per cent of its gross national product (GNP) on research and development....The president was speaking at the launch of the Tanzania Academy of Science (TAAS), a scientific, non-political and non-profit making body established, among other things, to promote science and technology for socio-economic development. He said that, according to Unesco and the World Bank, if a country wished to retain its human capital, especially scientists, it must spend at least one per cent of GNP on research and development....Openness to trade must go hand in hand with openness and access to knowledge and technology, without which, he said, the capacity to compete in a global or regional market could not be built, the president said.'

  • More on publishers v. Google. Jean Bedford, Google Print: Indexing vs. Copying and the Future of Scholarly Books, Commentary (the Shore Communications blog), June 24, 2005. Excerpt: 'In a thoughtful post to the [LibLicense list] at Yale University, Chuck Hamaker, a librarian at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, expresses his concern that book content is not as visible to students and scholars as articles, primarily because journal articles are indexed widely, have the context of snippits and are available full text in electronic format through some service. By contrast, books remain stuck in print silos, with the exception of some emerging book databases such as ebrary and safari. As Hamaker observes, "Massive indexing of monographs which is what I see Google Print actually doing, is critical for survival--the survival as usable text, of the book, to keep it from becoming nothing more than an interesting artifact of civilization." The current controversy between the Association of Academic Publishers (AAP) and Google Print focuses on legal definitions of copyright, which were developed long before the electronic age. The value of indexing and assisting the scholar in finding knowledge has been ignored....Journal publishers found that indexing, particularly in Google Scholar, has increased usage of their journals and improved their electronic revenues. By contrast, scholarly books have abysmally low actual usage by library patrons, hence the question of the value of continuing to spend scarce budget resources on this type of material. Improving usage should be the major concern of book publishers, not throwing up roadblocks to wider access; it's time to think marketing and moving into the twenty-first century.'

  • Paying for OA journals: mostly funding agencies, not universities or authors. Andy Gass, Paying to Free Science: Costs of Publication as Costs of Research, Serials Review, May 12, 2005. Abstract: 'Many proponents of open access to journal articles online view costs of publication as an essential yet minor component of the cost of conducting research in the life sciences. Author-side charges for publication in open-access journals in those fields should, therefore, be paid principally by the agencies and foundations that fund research. Recent analyses of the potential cost-to-institution of a widespread transition away from purchasing subscriptions to scholarly journals and towards paying open-access publication fees on behalf of affiliated faculty must be amended to reflect the reality that third-party funding agencies already pay the bulk of such fees in the life sciences, and will likely continue to do so.' (Thanks to Issues in Scholarly Communication.)

  • Data sharing in education. Data Sharing Breakthrough for Education Bodies, an unsigned news story from the UK eGov Monitor, June 23, 2005. Excerpt: 'A cluster of over 20 government departments and agencies in the education sector have established a landmark framework for sharing data between their organisations and potentially the wider public sector. The Department for Education and Skills initiated the project back in 2002 in a bid to standardise the way that public bodies exchange management information about students and learning providers. Its research found examples where attempts at 'joined-up working' had fallen foul of the legal minefield of data sharing or led to inconsistent practice....The new data sharing framework document, made public on 22 June, now provides a set of guidance and principles relating to how the 20-plus participating organisations will share data. Members include the Department for Work and Pensions, Becta, OfSTED, the Learning and Skills Council, Ufi and the DfES itself.' (Thanks to Paul Miller.)

  • Comment on OA to social science data. If you have thoughts on OA to data in the social sciences, then read the two papers on that subject presented at the recent JISC-funded virtual conference, Social Sciences Online: Past, Present and Future (June 20-24, 2005). The best comments posted before July 1 will be collected on the conference blog. For details, see the JISC press release soliciting comments.

  • International Creative Commons Conference. Paul Reyes has written a preview of the first International Creative Commons Conference, starting today at Harvard Law School (June 25-26).

  • Computational biology needs OA to data. Philip E. Bourne, Steven E. Brenner, Michael B. Eisen, PLoS Computational Biology: A New Community Journal, PLoS Computational Biology, June 2005. The editorial in the inaugural issue of PLoS' newest OA journal. Excerpt: 'Computational biology thrives on open access to biological data....The vision we have for PLoS Computational Biology as a community journal is first and foremost to support the dissemination of our science in a way that draws attention to the quality, depth, and scope of our best work. That this is an open-access journal is an integral part of this vision. Open access ensures not only that everything we publish is immediately freely available to anyone, anywhere in the world, but also that the contents of this journal can be redistributed and reused in ways that increase their value. Computational biology thrives on open access to DNA sequences, protein structures, and other types of biological data—it is high time that we apply the same principle to our papers and unleash our creativity to develop new and exciting ways to use the scientific literature.'

Playing catch-up: June 24 blog postings

Here are the major blog postings I made by email to SOAF while OAN was down last week. June 24, 2005:

  • Best OA health sites for consumers. Consumer Health WebWatch is a new web site that rates the 20 most-visited health information sites for consumers. All 20 sites are OA. Each site is rated on 10 parameters: overall, identity, advertising and sponsorships, ease of use, corrections and currency, privacy, design, coverage, accessibility, and contents. The service is sponsored by Consumer Reports and the Health Improvement Institute. (Thanks to Faster Cures' SmartBrief.)

  • Inaugural column on OA. Elizabeth L. Fleischer, Perspectives on Open Access, Science Editor, May-June 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). This is the first installment of Unbound, the new column on open access to appear in every issue of Science Editor. The column itself is not OA, at least so far. Excerpt: 'The term open access causes heartburn in some, elation and hope in others, and a look of bewilderment in the rest. Science Editor is therefore starting a new column, Unbound, to appear as needed, to expand on the issue of open access. What does it mean? What can it accomplish? How can it be achieved? What are the pitfalls? What are the implications for editors?...An assumption in the vision is that users of the information will be able to sort through and understand what they read and know how to apply it. "Free" and available seem to be the goals, but...[f]ree information is of no value if it is not understandable. The higher goal is to communicate scientific information, without barriers, to those who need or want it. That is where CSE can play a particularly important role. Free information can be life-threatening if it is wrong or misinterpreted. Clear writing and editing can make information more valuable. Free information is also of no value if the right information cannot be found quickly and does not get into the hands of the people who need it. In a growing mountain of information, an important thrust is toward the development of standards, search tools, and other mechanisms to find information efficiently....Open access is not a fad that is likely to fade, but both the end point and the route to it are far from certain. Issues of copyright, standardization, and cost models are still in flux. How it will be used in different disciplines, for government-supported vs commercially supported work, and across international borders is a pertinent question. For editors and publishers, the issues will include determining a value for copy-editing and review coordination, keeping publishing honest as cost models change (for instance, watching for bias based on sponsor or government pressure), and balancing the moral high ground with fiscal responsibility. We hope to visit many of those issues from the points of view of authors, readers, editors, librarians, vendors, doctors and scientists, publishers, associations, industry, advertisers, government agencies, and others. Please join in the "open" discussion.'

    Comment. Congratulations to Science Editor on the good decision to launch a regular column on OA. But please make it OA! Just one comment on the substance of Betsy Fleisher's inaugural column: She's asking the right questions, but the discussion of communication and intelligibility seems to presuppose that the intended audience of OA literature is the lay public. Not true. For peer-reviewed research literature, the intended audience is the research community. The same literature should be available to lay readers who care to read it, especially lay readers who paid with their taxes to fund the underlying research. But the primary readers will always be researchers, especially those who lack access through their institutions. Having said that, I welcome all efforts to improve intelligibility and worry only about efforts to move literature unintelligible to lay readers into a non-OA safe zone.

  • German licenses for OA articles. Ellen Euler, Licences for open access to scientific publications: ­ a German perspective, INDICARE, June 24, 2005. Abstract: 'Scientific research depends on easy and timely access to and use of existing scientific and scholarly research results, which in our times are mostly in digital form. Open Access promises to be a solution to this problem. To realise Open Access it is not enough to archive publications on a server. Rights have to be granted to the general public by applying licenses. The state and role of CCPL, DPPL, SCPL is discussed with respect to scientific publishing and research. What is also required to make Open Access successful is awareness of authors to which this article wants to contribute.'

  • OA archaeology service using Google Maps. The OA Archaeology Data Service has started using Google Maps to enhance the usefulness of its ArchSearch catalog. (Thanks to Paul Miller.)

  • Launch of PLoS Computational Biology. PLoS has announced the debut of its newest OA journal, PLoS Computational Biology. From yesterday's press release: 'The Public Library of Science (PLoS) and the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) are pleased to announce the June 24 launch of PLoS Computational Biology (, a new open-access, peer-reviewed journal reporting major biological advances achieved through computation. Unique in its scope, the journal publishes research from one of the most rapidly growing and exciting areas of scientific inquiry. As a collaboration between a scholarly society and an open access publisher, the journal also provides further momentum to the shift towards unrestricted access and use of all scientific and medical literature. "Today we have taken a very important first step to a new era of data and knowledge integration which has the potential to fundamentally change the way we do science," says Dr. Philip E. Bourne, editor-in-chief of PLoS Computational Biology. Bourne is a professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of California San Diego, co-director of the Protein Data Bank and senior advisor to the Life Sciences at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. In the inaugural issue, founding editors Philip E. Bourne, Steven E. Brenner, and Michael B. Eisen explain the vision behind PLoS Computational Biology: "What motivates us to start a new journal at this time? Computation, driven in part by the influx of large amounts of data at all biological scales, has become a central feature of research and discovery in the life sciences."...Open access—free availability and unrestricted use --to all articles published in the journal is central to the mission of PLoS Computational Biology, and distinguishes this new journal from most scientific journals which still needlessly restrict access to their contents. Open access revolutionizes the way we use research literature, and takes much inspiration from the field of computational biology itself. Gribskov reminds us that "free availability of protein and nucleic acid sequences, protein structures, and other biological data is critical to practitioners of computational biology." '

  • Launch of UK Data Archive. New UK Data Archive website launched, a JISC press release, June 24, 2005. Excerpt: 'The new UK Data Archive (UKDA), the curator of the largest collection of digital data in the social sciences and humanities in the UK, has launched its new website at the Economic and Social Research Council Week (June 20th - 24th). This follows several months of development work and usability testing. The UK Data Archive is curator of the largest collection of digital data in the social sciences and humanities in the UK.'

  • Conference statement endorses OA. Participants in a JISC-sponsored colloquium (London, June 21-22, 2005) have issued a Statement on Scholarly Communication and Publishing. Excerpt: 'Although not unanimously agreed a statement of principles emerged for which there was an overwhelming consensus of support. [1] We believe that communication of results is an essential part of the research process and that research outputs should be disseminated widely and readily, giving access to all. [2] Research results are wide in scope, and access to datasets, background documents and other information are as essential as access to the article. [3] There are many effective routes to do this; traditional publishing models are only one route. [4] Of the emerging models, open access journals and subject repositories and institutional repositories show potential and further development and deployment should be encouraged. [5] Institutions and publishers need to investigate the potential of models that allow a graceful and sustainable transition from old to new paradigms....[8] Authors or authoring institutions should retain the rights to their intellectual property....Further details including presentations and a report will be available on the JISC web site in due course.'

  • Scientist attitudes toward ejournals. The Science Advisory Board has conducted a survey of scientist attitudes toward ejournals. Either the survey questions and full text of the study are not online or they are well hidden. But see this summary from Sciscoop. It seems that the survey questions represented OA journals as charging author fees, which naturally elicited negative reactions. (Most OA journals charge no fees at all. When they do charge fees, the fees are usually paid by the author's funding agency or employer, or waived, not paid out of the author's pocket.) There is a link to the survey questions, but it leads to the questions for a different, earlier study on the NIH public-access policy --which BTW showed overwhelming support from respondents.

More on Google Library

Google Print for Libraries: the Bold and the Cautious, Library Journal, June 30, 2005. An unsigned news story on a panel at the recent ALA conference in Chicago. Excerpt: ' "This is not an exclusive arrangement," declared Catherine Tierney, Stanford's associate university librarian for technical services. "They're not going to digitize all. They're going to digitize what we give them. This does not preclude deals with others." As for Harvard, "it's a very conservative organization," said Dale Flecker, associate director for systems and planning at the university library. The pilot project will allow the library to look at a range of issues regarding digitization. Flecker said the Google project "is not planned as a preservation project," but Michigan associate university librarian John Price Wilkin said the opposite: "We do think of it as a preservation project. The Google staff are more tentative in handling materials than our preservation and conservation staff." Michigan's staff will digitize materials Google feels are too fragile to scan. Panelists even differed on the ultimate meaning of the project. Said Flecker, "We're not trying to build a digital library. We're trying to add digital stuff to our library." But Wilkin dreams bigger: "I think this will subsume all other efforts [to build a digital library]. It will be the foundation point--we'll use the same infrastructure and build out." '

More on the Google contract with U of Michigan

Brian Hamilton, U.S. publishers put pressure on Google, MLive Business Review, June 30, 2005. Excerpt: 'Michigan and Stanford University are the only two universities in the project that have agreed to let Google scan books still in copyright....Publishers are asking whether Google has any right to scan copyrighted works without the consent of the publisher. Google will make two digital copies of each work at Michigan, one for Google and the other for U-M....The privacy-interest group, filed a Michigan Freedom of Information Act request to obtain Google's contract with the university, which was posted on the U-M library Web site June 17. Google-Watch, in a posting on its Web site entitled "Google-eyed U. Michigan gives away its library," excoriates U-M for, among other things, not taking advantage of its strong bargaining position because it's easier for Google to scan out of print books that get access to them. "Big libraries are holding a winning hand here," said the writer, Daniel Brandt. U-M Assistant General Counsel Jack Bernard told Business Review that it was never U-M's intention to benefit financially from the arrangement. "We think there's value in being able to search the corpus of human knowledge," Bernard said....Bernard said people shouldn't make assumptions about who will eventually have access to U-M's digital archive. "We haven't decided how to treat the archive," he said.'

OAN worth a click

Carolyn Sosnowski has included Open Access News in her list of Web sites worth a click (Information Outlook, May 2005). Excerpt: 'In just one part of a large site that covers open access issues, editor Peter Suber and many other contributors aim to educate and disseminate news and information about the open access movement. Posts are frequent, lengthy (in a good way), and include links to source documents such as press releases, articles, and a variety of scholarly publications. The blog and archives are searchable, a great feature if you want to trace a particular development or find out more about an OA proponent.' (Thanks Carolyn!)

At least retractions should be OA

Gunther Eysenbach and Per Egil Kummervold, "Is Cybermedicine Killing You?" - The Story of a Cochrane Disaster, Journal of Medical Internet Research, 7, 2 (2005). Abstract: 'This editorial briefly reviews the series of unfortunate events that led to the publication, dissemination, and eventual retraction of a flawed Cochrane systematic review on interactive health communication applications (IHCAs), which was widely reported in the media with headlines such as "Internet Makes Us Sick," "Knowledge May Be Hazardous to Web Consumers' Health," "Too Much Advice Can Be Bad for Your Health," "Click to Get Sick?," and even "Is Cybermedicine Killing You?". While the media attention helped to speed up the identification of errors, leading to a retraction of the review after only 13 days, a paper published in this issue of JMIR by Rada shows that the retraction, in contrast to the original review, remained largely unnoticed by the public. We discuss the three flaws of the review, which include (1) data extraction and coding errors, (2) the pooling of heterogeneous studies, and (3) a problematic and ambiguous scope and, possibly, some overlooked studies. We then discuss "retraction ethics" for researchers, editors/publishers, and journalists. Researchers and editors should, in the case of retractions, match the aggressiveness of the original dissemination campaign if errors are detected. It is argued that researchers and their organizations may have an ethical obligation to track down journalists who reported stories on the basis of a flawed study and to specifically ask them to publish an article indicating the error. Journalists should respond to errors or retractions with reports that have the same prominence as the original story. Finally, we look at some of the lessons for the Cochrane Collaboration, which include (1) improving the peer-review system by routinely sending out pre-prints to authors of the original studies, (2) avoiding downplay of the magnitude of errors if they occur, (3) addressing the usability issues of RevMan, and (4) making critical articles such as retraction notices open access.'

Searching for CC-licensed content

Laura Gordon-Murnane, Creative Commons and Creative Commons Search Tools, The Searcher, July 1, 2005. Excerpt: 'Can you [librarians] help them find materials in the public domain that they can copy, re-mix, sample, share, display, and distribute in a final report, a presentation, a blog, a podcast, or a Web site posting? ...Existing copyright laws have made it more difficult to identify public domain content....The Creative Commons Web site provides several different ways to identify and find works that have a Creative Commons license....Creative Commons also offers a search engine (powered by Nutch ­ an open source search engine) that lets searchers limit their search by type of format (audio, image, interactive, text, and video) and by different licensing options....To answer my original questions, librarians now have a useful tool they can use to help identify content that patrons might want to use in a podcast, a mash-up, a collage, a video contribution to a blog, a document, a presentation, or whatever. It's called Creative Commons and, with the vertical search opportunities provided by Yahoo! Search and Creative Commons' own Nutch-powered search engine, we can assist end users in finding new content that allows them copyright flexibility. Use it. Promote it. Share it. It's all good.' (PS: Gordon-Murnane's long article is also a good primer on the changes to US copyright law since the 1970's and the origin of Creative Commons.)

ALPSP response to RCUK policy

The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) has issued a response to the RCUK draft OA policy. The document is dated Apil 19, 2005, but the ALPSP home page dates it June 30, 2005. Excerpt: 'ALPSP encourages the widest possible dissemination of research outputs; indeed, this furthers the mission of most learned societies to advance and disseminate their subject and to advance public education1. We understand the benefits to research of maximum access to prior work, although in the case of the general public we see little evidence of large-scale demand....However, ALPSP recognises that maximising access must be done in ways which do not undermine the viability either of the peer-reviewed journals in which the research is published, or of the societies and other publishers themselves, whose publishing surpluses may contribute substantially to the benefit of the discipline and its community in other ways....Publication in a journal adds not only the benefit of peer review (which is managed, though not conducted, by the publisher) but also editing and formatting for publication as well as important new functions such as the addition and verification of links to cited articles, data and other material....Understandably, therefore, they may not wish their 'value-added' version to be made freely available in repositories immediately on publication....Even if the freely available version lacks some or all of the value added by the publisher, it may be treated as an adequate substitute by uninformed readers (and, indeed, by cash-strapped libraries). And any new model which has the potential to 'siphon off' a significant percentage of otherwise paying customers will, understandably, undermine the financial viability of all these value-adding activities....The only way that repositories will help libraries with this problem is by enabling them to cease subscribing to some journals; if this happens, the journals will become unviable and will cease to exist. Alternative licensing and business models, which preserve the viability of the quality assurance and value-adding processes carried out by journals, are necessary if the system is not to be gravely damaged; these processes involve much more than the organisation and support of peer review, as outlined above....We therefore recommend that the Research Councils should respect the wish of some publishers to impose an embargo of up to a year (or, in exceptional cases, even longer) before self-archived papers should be made publicly accessible....It seems to us both inappropriate and unnecessarily wasteful of resources to create permanent archives of versions other than the definitive published versions of articles.'

More on the RCUK draft OA policy

British group takes step beyond NIH open access, Research Research, June 30, 2005. An unsigned news story. Excerpt: 'The main organization representing British public research institutions has drafted a more liberal policy towards open access research than that adopted by the US National Institutes of Health....The document states that "ideas and knowledge derived from publicly-funded research must be made available and accessible for public use, interrogation and scrutiny as widely, rapidly and effectively as practicable." The policy --set to become effective October 1-- goes well beyond that adopted by NIH, which urges its researchers to voluntarily deposit their peer-reviewed research articles in a publicly accessible online archive. The British policy gained support from US researchers concerned that the NIH approach leads to long delays before research becomes freely accessible to the public. "It's a marvelous policy and very strong in almost all the right ways," said Peter Suber, a professor of philosophy at Earlham College, in Indiana, and a leader in the open-access movement. "It’s a big step forward from the NIH policy, which merely requests, but does not mandate open access, and as a result is not likely to get full compliance," he added in a recent interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education.'

OAN is back!

After a full week of involuntary downtime, Open Access News is back. It had been deleted from my Blogger account --cause unknown-- but it has now been restored. I thank the Blogger engineers for the fix and Sebastien Paquet for helpful mediation.

During the downtime, I sent "blog substitute" emails to SOAF. If I have time, I'll copy the most important items back to the blog, so that they enter the currents of the blogosphere. In the meantime, here's how to catch up: