Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The EC's eContentPlus

eContentPlus is a new funding program from the European Commission. From the web site:
On 9 March 2005 the European Parliament and the Council approved the eContentplus Programme, a multiannual Community programme to make digital content in Europe more accessible, usable and exploitable. The 4-year programme (2005–08), proposed by the European Commission, will have a budget of € 149 million to tackle organisational barriers and promote take up of leading-edge technical solutions to improve acessibility and usability of digital material in a multilingual environment. The Programme addresses specific market areas where development has been slow: geographic content (as a key constituent of public sector content), educational content, cultural, scientific and scholarly content. The Programme also supports EU-wide co-ordination of collections in libraries, museums and archives and the preservation of digital collections so as to ensure availability of cultural, scholarly and scientific assets for future use. The programme aims at facilitating access to digital content, its use and exploitation, enhancing quality of content with well-defined metadata, and reinforcing cooperation between digital content stakeholders. It will tackle multilingual and multicultural barriers....In the area of cultural content, scientific information and scholarly content, eContentplus will support the development of interoperable collections and objects from cultural institutions (archives, libraries and museums...), and solutions to facilitate exposure, discovery and retrieval of these resources.

The call for independent experts is now open. The call for project proposals is not, although the draft call and related documents are already online. There will be an Information Day on the new program in London on July 21. (Thanks to Alma Swan.)

Wikipedia on the London bombings

Wikipedia already has a very long and very detailed account of the London bombings. This is no surprise to those who watched Wikipedia contributors rapidly build an authoritative picture of last December's earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Will Richardson documents and reflects on this phenomenon in the July 8 issue of Ed-Tech Insider:
[T]he first post on Wikipedia [went up] at a little after 10 am London time....It takes 10 minutes for someone else to join [the first contributor] in making changes. Nine minutes later, someone adds external links [and an obscenity]. A minute later, the [obscenity] has been removed. A couple of minutes later, a table of contents is added, which is then edited out, only to return 2 minutes later. In the eight minutes between 10:18 and 10:26 am, 52 edits are made. Within the next hour, 46 (by my count) other contributors join in and the post grows to about 650 words. Now, here we are a day and a half later. At this writing the article just crossed 2,500 edits and is nearing 3,500 words in length. I'm not going to count how many different contributors there have been, but it's easily in the hundreds. The amount of information is once again amazing. And I would argue the accuracy of the article is probably as good as you'll get from any major media outlet (although the writing may not be as good.) I find all of this amazing, and I find myself thinking more and more about what it means. The teachers in the class yesterday pushed back a bit against this whole open content concept. I showed them the South African curriculum wiki and they were amazed, yes, but concerned too. (As am I....) Our whole concepts of accuracy and trust and truth are being challenged and redefined. This feels like such a big shift, such a HUGE shift for educators. And it's just totally manic right now. The beauty of Wikipedia. The ugliness of spammers and other ne'er do wells. Opening things up creates both, unfortunately. I don't think we can fight these changes. The question then becomes how do we best navigate them.

Harnad critique of Taylor on RCUK policy

Stevan Harnad, Applying Optimality Findings: A Critique of Graham Taylor's Critique of RCUK Policy Proposal, a preprint.
Abstract: Graham Taylor, director of educational, academic and professional publishing at the Publishers Association, criticises the Research Councils UK (RCUK) proposal to require that the author of every published article based on RCUK-funded research must "self-archive" an "open access" version on the web so it can be freely read and used by any researcher worldwide whose institution cannot afford the journal in which it was published. The purpose of the RCUK policy is to maximise the usage and impact of research. Taylor argues that it may have an adverse affect on some journals. This critique points out that there is no evidence from 15 years of open-access self-archiving that it has had any adverse affect on journals and a great deal of evidence that it enhances research impact.

Bailey bibliography of ETDs

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Electronic Theses and Dissertations: A Bibliography, DigitalKoans, July 8, 2005.

Detailed profile of DSpace

MacKenzie Smith, External Bits, IEEE Spectrum, July 9, 2005. A detailed profile of DSpace, focusing more on its role in preserving digital content than in providing OA to it. Excerpt:
In an era when the ability to read a document, watch a video, or run a simulation could depend on having a particular version of a program installed on a specific computer platform, the usable life span of a piece of digital content can be less than 10 years. That's a recipe for disaster when you consider how much we rely on stored information to maintain our scholarly, legal, and cultural record and to help us with, and profit from, our digital labor. Indeed, the ephemeral nature of both data formats and storage media threatens our very ability to maintain scientific, legal, and cultural continuity, not on the scale of centuries, but considering the unrelenting pace of technological change, from one decade to the next. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries, in Cambridge, where I am associate director for technology, we are attacking the problem of maintaining and sharing digital content over the long haul with a project called DSpace, which we embarked on with Hewlett-Packard Co., in Palo Alto, Calif., in 2000. For this digital repository we have built a simple, open-source software application that not only accepts digital materials and makes them available on the Web but also puts them into a data-management regime that helps to preserve them for generations to come....DSpace is storing and preserving materials just like these at MIT and 100 other organizations worldwide. Among them are Cornell University; the University of Toronto; the University of Cambridge, in England; the Australian National University; and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Like Linux and other open-source software projects, DSpace has a growing group of committed programmers distributed across the globe who continually maintain and improve it....Finally, [after DSpace asks for metadata and checks the file format] the researcher clicks through a license that grants DSpace the right to store, preserve, and redistribute the article, and if she retained the copyright to the article, asks whether she wants to assign a Creative Commons License to it. This license gives other researchers the right, among other things, to include the article as part of their course readings or quote it in their own scholarly writings, without asking for her explicit permission.

Fifth International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication covers Open Access

The forthcoming Fifth International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication, to be held in Chicago, September 16-18 2005 includes extensive coverage of open access and related subjects such as journal impact factor.

Friday, July 08, 2005

* Temporary interruption of service *

The Earlham College server, which hosts this blog, will be down for maintenance tomorrow, Saturday, July 9, from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. I'm sorry for the interruption of service.

Ejournals that drop figures and charts

Xiaotian Chen, Figures and Tables Omitted from Online Periodical Articles: A Comparison of Vendors and Information Missing from Full-Text Databases, Internet Reference Services Quarterly, July 7, 2005. Only this abstract is free online for non-subscribers:
This article compares the manner in which vendors of full-text databases deal with charts, diagrams, figures, and tables that were originally part of the periodical articles in print. Significant differences were found with some vendors providing PDF format and some only HTML/Text format. Among those that supply only HTML/Text format, some manage to include tables, etc., in one way or another, while others do not. Among those who do not, some leave marks or traces where the tables had been; others act as if the tables never existed. In one instance, databases provided directly from the owning vendor have both PDF format and HTML/Text-plus-graphics format, while the same databases in a third-party vendor's interface have neither PDF nor HTML/ Text-plus-graphics. Information professionals should be aware of the differences among vendors and call for them to include tables, etc., in order to provide end-users with the complete information expected.
(PS: As far as I know, this problem does not arise for OA journals.)

OA and the transformation of science

Jan Velterop, Open access and the transformation of science – the time is ripe, a PPT presentation at the Beijing OA meeting, June 23, 2005 --now archived at E-LIS.

OA book of 17th century libels

Jennifer Howard, The Uses of Libel, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 8, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
In that era [17th century England], members of Parliament, courtiers, and even the king himself came in for abuse at the hands of anonymous commentators who expressed their sentiments in pointed, frequently rude poems known as libels....[M]ore than 350 Stuart-era libels [are] now available online in Early Stuart Libels: An Edition of Poetry From Manuscript Sources....Early Stuart Libels is the product of 15 years of archival research and transcribing....The scholarly work, which was financed largely by Britain's Arts and Humanities Research Council, represents an effort to make these manuscript sources more widely available. Many have never before been published. There are no plans for a print version, nor will the current edition be subject to augmentation or additions; the editors hope that there will be a "sense of fixity" about it, and that it will be referenced by scholars just as a traditional book would be. In that, it may be on the leading edge of a new, electronic approach to studying and disseminating source material. "This edition seeks in many ways to be a pathbreaking endeavor," the editors note in their introduction. "The electronic medium ... provides a superb opportunity to offer scholarly editions of works otherwise largely inaccessible or unknown to both the academic community and the layperson alike." There is no charge to access Early Stuart Libels, which can be either browsed online or downloaded.

The dramatic recent growth of OA

Heather Morrison, The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Implications and Opportunities for Resource Sharing, forthcoming from the Journal of Interlibrary Loan, 16, 3 (2006). Abstract:
The Open Access movement seeks to make scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles freely available to anyone, anywhere over the World Wide Web. There were some very significant developments in the area of Open Access (OA) in 2004, including statements by major funders in support of Open Access. There are now so many Open Access scholarly journal articles freely available, that, in the author’s opinion, being aware of, and using, the resources and related tools is now essential for libraries. Libraries can provide more resources faster for users by supplementing paid resources with ones that are Open Access. Library resources, such as link resolvers, are beginning to incorporate Open Access materials and web searches for Open Access materials. For example, the reSearcher software suite includes Open Access collections along with subscription-based resources in the CUFTS journals knowledgebase, and a web search for an Open Access copy of an article in the GODOT link resolver. SFX also incorporates Open Access journals. After exhausting more traditional resources, interlibrary loans staff are beginning to include Google searching in their workflow. This article will discuss what Open Access is, the dramatic growth of Open Access, and major collections, resources and tools. Implications, issues, and leadership opportunities for resource sharing specialists will be explored.

Update. Heather updated the growth numbers in an 8/19/05 blog posting.

More on the RCUK policy

Eliot Marshall, Britain's Research Agencies Endorse Public Access, Science Magazine, July 8, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
Starting in October, all investigators funded by the big eight research agencies in Britain may be required to put their papers and meeting talks in a free public archive "at the earliest opportunity, wherever possible at or around the time of publication."...Despite the mandatory tone, journals will find some wiggle room that may allow them to keep their usual embargoes. RCUK says its mandate is "subject to copyright and licensing arrangements" that can restrict what authors do....RCUK spokesperson Heather Weaver said this phrase recognizes that "publishers vary" in how they handle rights, and the government is setting no fixed time frame for free data release --other than "as soon as possible." Advocates for the open-access movement praised the RCUK announcement. Some think it comes closer to their goals than a policy announced earlier this year by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), which merely encourages authors to put papers in the U.S. PubMed Central database within 12 months of publication....Peter Suber --a professor of philosophy at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, and leader of the Public Knowledge advocacy group in Washington, D.C.-- described it as "an excellent policy" because it is mandatory, unlike NIH's. But he says the copyright "loophole … will allow publishers to impose embargoes." Publishers, whose revenues are threatened by the open-access movement, found fault with the RCUK approach. A group representing 320 nonprofit, academic, and scientific society journals --the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers in Clapham, U.K.-- released a critique on 30 June by Executive Director Sally Morris. Among other concerns, it warns that the open-access trend may "siphon off" subscriptions to society publications.

IFLA supports A2K treaty

IFLA has issued a statement, IFLA and the Access to Knowledge (A2K) Treaty (June 22, 2005). Excerpt:
Copyright is not about just protection but was from its early days meant to balance the need to protect creators and entrepreneurs in the work with the user's right to access information and the expression of ideas. The mechanism that makes copyright work is in fact the exceptions and limitations are combined with adequate protection of copyright....We call for WIPO to establish global minimum mandatory exceptions and limitations to copyright and related rights because there is an imbalance in power due to the rightsholder having exclusive rights leading to the creation of monopolies of information. Libraries have a duty to facilitate access to information and knowledge and this does not mean simply making it easy to get permission to use a work for which the user often is required to pay or is otherwise restricted. Libraries also have a duty to support and develop a learning culture, the local and national economy and free civil societies, which means that a certain level of access to information needs to be by right which is what the limitations and exceptions to copyright ensure for the greater public good.

(PS: Although IFLA has endorsed OA and the draft A2K treaty calls for OA to publicly-funded research in Sections 5-1 and 5-2, the IFLA statement on the A2K treaty does not mention the OA provisions.)

More JISC funding for society journals moving to OA

JISC has launched a new funding program, Open Access Publishing: Round 3. From the web site: 'This Invitation To Tender invites proposals from cross-disciplinary publishers or learned societies looking to move to an open access model for their journal(s). Proposals from groups or consortia are welcome. JISC will award short term funding to a small number of publishers or learned societies who agree to waive open access submission and publication fees for UK Higher Education (HE) staff for a one-year period. There is funding of £150,000 available to support this Initiative in the 2005-06 Academic Year (1 August 2005 – 31 July 2006).'

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Stresses on priced databases

Ted Agres, Dueling Databases, The Scientist, July 4, 2005. Excerpt:
Celera Genomics made hundreds of millions of dollars by selling access to its proprietary genome sequence information. But this month, Celera discontinued its database subscription service and made its 30 billion base pairs of genomic data of humans, rats, and mice freely available through GenBank, operated by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information. Some see Celera's decision to exit the sequence business as proof of the adage that information wants to be free, and yet another sign that selling access to data is no longer a viable business model. "The trend is perfectly clear. It would be surprising to find any company setting up a business plan that was based on a subscription database of precompetitive information," says Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute and leader of the Human Genome Project, Celera's publicly funded rival in the race to sequence the human genome....Not anxious to see its Chemical Abstracts Service Registry follow in the footsteps of Celera's database, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is aggressively lobbying federal officials to curtail development of PubChem, a free online resource on the biochemical structures and properties of some 650,000 small organic molecules....NIH officials say PubChem will complement, not compete, with the CAS. The data overlap will be minimal, they say, and PubChem will not offer the detailed manual curation that makes the CAS valuable to its subscribers. "It's all about money," Collins fumes. "It's hard to see how this very small effort on the part of NIH could represent a significant threat. I am astonished by their very strong negative reaction, especially for a database that's run by a supposedly scientific society."..."Twelve people at NIH will put 1200 people at ACS out of business? That's absurd," says Stephen Heller, a consultant and expert in numerical databases who has extensive U.S. government experience. "There is minor overlap between PubChem and the CAS Registry, but basically they are two separate things. One is for chemists and the other is for biologists...There are structural changes going on in the dissemination of scientific information because of the Internet and because everything has become computer-readable. It's not the same sort of business it used to be. Either you adjust or you have problems."

Recovering govt info removed from the net

Susan Nevelow Mart, Let the People Know the Facts: Can Government Information Removed from the Internet be Reclaimed? A preprint. Abstract: 'This article examines the legal bases of the public's right to access government information, and examines and analyzes the types of information that have recently been removed from the Internet and the rationales given for the removals. The concerted use of FOIA by public interest groups and their constituents is suggested as a possible method of returning the information to the Internet. There article concludes with a brief review of recent FOIA cases that might provide some guidance on the litigation sure to follow such concerted requests.'

Celera moves genome data from fee to free

Maureen McDonough, Celera Releases Genome Data at Last, Bio IT World, June 8, 2005. Excerpt:
In a decision that essentially marks the end of the genome wars, Celera Genomics will release its formerly proprietary human, mouse, and rat genome sequences to the public domain. The decision goes into effect on July 1. Launched in 1998, Celera's original business model sought to charge hefty subscription fees to its proprietary genome data from biopharmaceutical companies. While allowing limited access to academic users, Celera declined to deposit its data into the public archive, GenBank. The timing of Celera's decision to release the genomes into the public domain was entirely financially based. "It was pure cost-benefit analysis," says David Speechly, Celera's senior director of investor relations and corporate communications. The subscription revenue no longer justified the cost of maintaining the online service, he says. Celera's turnabout has generated some kiss-and-make-up feelings from former rivals. Francis Collins, who led the public human genome consortium and is director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, told Nature, "They have done a generous thing here and should be getting a lot of credit."

BMC applauds the RCUK policy

BioMed Central has issued a press release (July 5) applauding the RCUK draft policy on OA. Excerpt:
RCUK's statement notes that the Research Councils have a responsibility to ensure that "Ideas and knowledge derived from publicly-funded research are made available and accessible for public use, interrogation, and scrutiny, as widely, rapidly and effectively as practicable," and sets out plans for several practical steps to make this happen. The statement proposes that RCUK will require that all research articles arising from Council-funded work should be deposited in Open Access repositories. It also confirms that the cost of publishing in Open Access journals such as those published by BioMed Central can be included in grant applications to the research councils. BioMed Central welcomes these proposals, and encourages researchers to make the final version of their research accessible immediately on publication, by choosing an Open Access journal. Publishing in any of BioMed Central's 130 Open Access journals will also make life easier for RCUK-funded researchers as BioMed Central already deposits a copy of the official final version of every research article that it publishes in a suitable Open Access repository (PubMed Central). As a result, authors who publish with BioMed Central will automatically meet the requirements of the RCUK policy, saving themselves the effort of having to deposit a separate copy of their research article....Matthew Cockerill, BioMed Central's Director of Operations, noted: "Wellcome, the UK Research Councils and the NIH between them fund a major fraction of all world-wide biomedical research. Each of these funders has now made a clear public statement supporting Open Access to the research literature, and is taking practical steps to make this goal a reality. Researchers and laypeople alike will benefit profoundly from this revolution in scientific communication".

New docs from the APSR

Three new documents from the Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories: (Thanks to Margaret Henty.)

Keeping data accessible and useful

Chris Rusbridge, The Challenge of Managing and Preserving e-Research, a PPT presentation given at the National Library of Australia, June 9, 2005, focusing on access to data, preservation of data, and the need to keep data machine-readable and useful. (Thanks to Margaret Henty.)

Sustainable repository presentations

The presentations from the APSR conference, National Perspectives on Sustainable Repositories (Canberra, June 10, 2005), are now online. (Thanks to Margaret Henty.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Oxford Open takes effect

The Oxford University Press Oxford Open program officially took effect on July 1. (It was first announced on May 4.) From the web site: 'These initiatives [at 21 OUP journals] are designed to do several things: [1] Explore the viability of Open Access as a long-term publishing model that is financially sustainable (for publishers, institutions, and authors), [2] Collect valuable primary evidence for analysis, in order to inform our future decisions on whether Open Access is a viable business model, [3] Establish whether Open Access achieves wider dissemination and impact in a way that benefits the progress of research globally, [4] Experiment responsibly, so that the journals we publish do not sustain any irreparable damage to their established quality and brands....As a part of Oxford University Press (OUP), the largest University-owned publishing house in the world, we have a central remit to maximize dissemination of research information, whilst maintaining the highest standards of quality and integrity (both for our authors’ work, and in our processes and business practices). The exploration of new and emerging publishing models such as Open Access sits comfortably with this goal. It also affords us the opportunity to share our findings and experiences with the community at large, thus benefiting scholarly communication in the widest sense.'

Editor for the JISC e-Framework for Research and Education

JISC is hiring an Editor for the e-Framework for Research and Education. Excerpt from the job description: 'The e-Framework is an initiative by the UK's Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and Australia's Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST). The primary goal of the collaboration is to produce an evolving and sustainable, open standards based, service-oriented technical framework to support the education and research communities....The role of the e-Framework Editor will be to manage the content of and contributions to the e-Framework and to facilitate consultation and community-building activities.' Applications are due by August 15.

Dissertation on free online e-learning projects

Ismael Peña, e-Learning for Development: a model,, July 4, 2005. A dissertation for the Doctorate in the Information Society at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. From the abstract: 'Beginning with a very brief case study of a free e-learning for development project, the Campus for Peace of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, this paper will try and show how, thanks to the nature of nonprofit organizations, e-learning can solve most of the problems related to corporate training, education for development and e-advocacy for stakeholders. And this paper will try and show also how, just because of the nature of nonprofit organizations too, this can be done for free. A first part will deal with the free software movement....A second part will deal with the free content movement – not that it really holds this name – and the proliferation of licenses such as Creative Commons' that allow people and institutions use some contents for free under certain conditions. An interesting application of this content policy and content licenses is in the learning objects field, where there already is a significative development of learning objects repositories, most of them given away to the public commons. In a third part we will introduce the concept of the online volunteer....We will conclude by mixing the three components (technology, content and human resources) to create a free e-learning project model for nonprofits.'

Official launch of patientINFORM

Although we've discussed patientINFORM here many times, the official launch press release didn't come out until today. Excerpt:
Three of the nation's leading voluntary health organizations have joined a group of scholarly and medical publishers to launch a pilot program to provide patients, caregivers, and the general public direct access to medical research on some of the most serious diseases and medical conditions. The free online information resource called patientINFORM, will provide consumers with the ability to read the latest original research articles published in medical and scientific journals, find assistance in interpreting the information and access additional materials on the Web sites of participating voluntary health organizations....In its pilot phase, patientINFORM will initially focus on cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke through the participation of the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, and in the near future, the American Heart Association. As the resource becomes firmly established, it will expand to include other organizations in these and other areas, including psychiatric, respiratory, neuromuscular, renal, and gastrointestinal disorders, as well as infectious diseases including AIDS and rare genetic disorders. The creation of this free online information resource has been driven by recent trends indicating that public awareness of clinical research, heightened by media coverage and fueled by the spread of broadband Internet access, has led more and more patients to go online to find the latest information about treatment options. The problem is even well-educated, knowledgeable consumers can find it difficult to fully understand and evaluate scientific findings, and make sound decisions on what they learn.
Comment. Here's how I assessed patientINFORM in January 2005: 'The groups responsible for patientINFORM opposed the NIH public access plan, raising suspicions that the new initiative is designed to support an argument that the NIH plan is unnecessary and that the same needs are being met by the market. Two things are clear, however. (1) Free online high-quality medical information intelligible to lay readers is a good thing. The more, the better. (2) The NIH plan will definitely help lay readers, but its primary rationale is to help researchers who lack access through their institutions because of skyrocketing journal prices. Helping researchers helps everyone, and no amount of medical information restated for lay readers can fill the need for direct access by researchers to the peer-reviewed literature itself.'

Two articles on OA from Bremen

The June-July issue of the Bremer Uni-Schlüssel has two articles on OA: (1) Open Access: offener Zugang zu Wissenschafts-Wissen, an unsigned overview and (2) Der Max-Planck-Initiative anschließen!, an interview with Bremen's Karl-Heinz Rödiger. (Thanks to Archivalia.)

UK workshop for users of publicly-funded research

Back in March, the UK Common Information Environment (CIE) called for bids to study the reasons to use Creative Commons licenses for research and information produced by publicly-funded organizations in the UK. (The project was awarded to Intrallect and the AHRC Research Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property & Technology Law at the University of Edinburgh.) Now the CIE is announcing an August 12 workshop in Edinburgh for users of publicly-funded research and information. Excerpt:
It is well known that copyright law can impede the effective reuse of digital and non-digital resources. A means of addressing this problem is for public sector organisations to publish some of their resources under common licences which would grant more permissive use. Intrallect Ltd and the AHRC Research Centre for Studies in IP and IT Law are currently organising a users' workshop in order to determine how such common licences could allow more effective reuse of resources. The workshop will be aimed at any individuals who would use resources produced by the public sector in their day to day activities. Examples of people who may be interested include: school, college and university teachers; college and university students; academics; librarians; content aggregators; genealogists; artists; authors; journalists; social workers; sociologists; etcetera.
If you'd like to attend, contact Ed Barker.

More on OA to California-funded stem-cell research

As you recall, the University of California Academic Council unanimously adopted a Policy on Public Access and Archiving of Research Results in February and released it in April. The policy would mandate OA to articles arising from publicly-funded stem-cell research within six months of their acceptance for publication. Now the President of the University of California, Robert Dynes, has put his weight behind the proposal. He has publicly released his May 17 letter to the independent committee overseeing the California stem-cell research program, urging the committee to adopt the OA policy.

Cornyn-Leahy bill will strengthen FOIA

Brian Faler, Openness Law May Get Muscle, Washington Post, July 6, 2005. Excerpt:
Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.) are pushing a package of legislative proposals that would create, for the first time, penalties for agencies that ignore Freedom of Information Act requests. They also want to create a position for an independent arbiter -- an ombudsman for FOIA -- who would help referee conflicts between the public and the government while requiring departments to provide more information on how quickly they process requests. "A number of the reforms included in these bills are pretty basic in a lot of places, including my home state of Texas," said Cornyn, a former state attorney general. "In Washington, there's no real presumption of openness in the culture."....While it is easy to find supporters of the plan, it is much more difficult to scare up its opponents. "A number of my colleagues have been very skeptical about any of this because they don't view it like I do as a right of the citizenry to know what the government is doing. They view it as a favor we would be doing the press," Cornyn said, without naming names. "The problem with this issue is it's such a good government position that it's hard to drag people out into the light of day where they'll have a debate with you. . . . What happens is that you get a passive-aggressive attitude where people seemingly are willing to work with you, but when it comes to actually moving legislation, it's pretty tough slogging."
(PS: Cornyn is also one of the Senate's strongest defenders of OA to publicly-funded research.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Building FOAF communities from PubMed citations

Pierre Lindenbaum has released SciFOAF, a java tool for creating FOAF files from PubMed citations. From the site: 'SciFOAF is an interface used to generate a FOAF file using NCBI Pubmed. The PubMed bibliographic database is a powerful source to discover collaboration networks as each paper submitted contains potential information about each author. An interface called SciFOAF (Scientific FOAF) was written to generate a FOAF file from the literature found in PubMed. It is initialized with a PubMed identifier (PMID) that is used as a seed to start browsing a collaboration network and the user is asked to select the authors of this paper that will appear in the FOAF file. Authors are stored in a 'stack' and the user interaction will be required until this stack is empty. For each person in the stack complementary information (such as e-mail, web site...) can be fulfilled and his latest publications are fetched from NCBI using the NCBI E-Utilities tool. Then, for each article the user is asked if the current person is unambiguously one of the authors and whether he knows any of the co-authors (which may not be necessarily the case when there is a large number of collaborators) and each of these new co-author is added on top of the stack. Laboratories addresses are extracted from the articles and the user can select among this list to affiliate the current author to one or more laboratory. The user can also link the current author with a person already depicted if they know each other but did not take part in a common publication. Author's interests are defined using the MESH terms of their papers. Once all information about the current author have been fulfilled he is removed from the stack and at the end, the user can save its FOAF file as a XML/RDF file. This process could have been generated automatically by a recursive program without human intervention if there was not ambiguity between authors names.'

Public domain, public interest, public funding

Charlotte Waelde and Mags McGinley, Public Domain; Public Interest; Public Funding: focussing on the 'three Ps' in scientific research, SCRIPT-ed, March 2005. Abstract (only at the archived edition): 'The purpose of this paper is to discuss the "three Ps" of scientific research: Public Domain; Public Interest; Public Funding. This is done by examining some of the difficulties faced by scientists engaged in scientific research who may have problems working within the constraints of current copyright and database legislation, where property claims can place obstacles in the way of research, in other words, the public domain. The article then looks at perceptions of the public interest and asks whether copyright and the database right reflect understandings of how this concept should operate. Thirdly, it considers the relevance of public funding for scientific research in the context of both the public domain and of the public interest. Finally, some recent initiatives seeking to change the contours of the legal framework are...examined.' (Thanks to Zapopan Martin Muela-Meza.)

More on the RCUK policy

Nick Dempsey, RCUK: Strong Stance But Some Hedging Of The Crucial Repository Issues, EPS Insights, July 4, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers).
Crucially, the NIH policy only "requests" researchers to deposit their articles, whereas RCUK uses the word "require". The statement stresses that "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." However, this statement is hedged around by some translucent statements about two key issues: how to address the problem of publishers who hold the copyright to post-print articles restricting deposit, and the timing of deposit. The draft statement includes the phrase "subject to copyright and licensing arrangements", which suggests that authors require publisher consent to deposit. In addition, the statement requires deposit "at the earliest opportunity, wherever possible at or around the time of publication", refusing to place a time limit on deposit and actively contradict the typical current publisher policy of stipulating an embargo of six months to a year on deposit....Open access enthusiasts such as Peter Suber have celebrated the strong language, while the response from the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) has concentrated hard on the need to preserve publisher embargo times of a year (and sometimes beyond). Clearly most publishers are not going to allow articles which have been peer-reviewed, formatted, surrounded by metadata and linked accurately to other articles to be immediately deposited in a place where they can be easily found by search engines, if they believe that this will lead to their deriving too little revenue for the value-add efforts....Apart from a handful of enthusiasts, the academic community has not shown major levels of interest in the open access movement.

Online scholarly publishing and OA

The Fall 2004 issue of the Canadian Journal of Communication is devoted to Online Scholarly Publishing. Most of the articles address OA in one way or another. (Thanks to Charles Bailey's Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog.)

Book publishers should take a breath

Michael Jensen, Presses Have Little to Fear From Google, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 8, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers).
I understand the fears [of book publishers], but I think most of them are unfounded. And I think they could lead publishers to miss some crucial opportunities....[T]he control of intellectual property by publishers is not threatened by Google Print or Library. My own National Academies Press started participating in Google Print early in the program. Google has already scanned more than 1,300 of our titles, with another 1,000 pending, and we are sending it more all the time. It isn't displaying advertisements beside images of our works because we asked it not to. It will take down any book we ask it to, and our contract leads us to believe it will always do so. It would be madness not to -- and thus launch a full-scale copyright war. Further, based on our own experience over the last seven years, I can predict with confidence that online-search capabilities will boost book sales: A university press that joins Google will find itself using "print-on-demand" technology to fill orders from its backlist for that 1958 tome on the Maginot Line that it never dreamed would have a life in the 21st century....At our press, we already make more than 3,400 books available free online, and we began using the "page-image" approach Google is taking in 1998: presenting a picture of the page, with searchable text behind it. Every new book we published was scanned and made navigable online, free, at the same time it was available for sale. To our delight, we found that page images with searchable text behind them actually seemed to increase sales, not replace them with online reading....For the last few years, I've heard (mostly older) scholars and librarians moan, "If they can't Google it, it doesn't exist for these kids." That's a reality publishers should be loath to deny. In the next three to five years, as the most-productive young faculty members publish their works, I think we'll see what I call a "Google access citation effect. "Citation indices let us know how well referenced any document is -- what books or articles or essays are most influential -- by measuring their references in new scholarship. If the new digitally driven scholars can Google an essay or book, then they'll use it for further research. If they can't, they may well not....I can speak only for myself, not my press, but in general I think that it's in the best self-interest of scholarly publishers to relax a bit about how we respond to intellectual-property issues raised by digitization plans like Google's. We need a bit more trust, so that we can take advantage of the new capabilities of a networked society....Google is offering something marvelous, if imperfect; its model is more likely to help more people find library resources and publishers' works than anything else on the horizon.

A national network of institutional repositories for New Zealand

John Rankin, Institutional Repositories for the Research Sector: Feasibility Study, National Library of New Zealand, July 5, 2005. A draft report.
An institutional repository (IR) is a set of services for storing and making available digital research materials created by an institution and its community. The National Library of New Zealand set up a steering group and expert working party with representatives from across the research sector to carry out a feasibility study and recommend actions for a national institutional repositories framework for New Zealand's research outputs....Repositories support the open access goal of transforming scholarly communication by making it easier for researchers to find and share the results of research, through free and unrestricted on-line availability....Various factors have led policy-makers and research institutions in other countries to establish repositories; for example...They want to increase research impact and consider that publicly funded research should be publicly accessible. Placing copies of research outputs in an open access institutional repository lowers the barriers to, and cost of, access....Institutional research repositories can create positive outcomes for all interested groups. Authors gain visibility; information seekers find research more easily; institutions raise their research profile; and funders see wider research dissemination. To achieve an active and sustainable network of institutional research repositories in New Zealand requires suitable repository software installed in, or available to, all New Zealand research institutions, supporting on-line availability of most published and unpublished research outputs....[Five recommendations for bringing about "cultural change" and filling the repositories:] [1] Support a national framework. The distributed repository architecture enables local institutional decision-making while facilitating the emergence of national services which join up the local collections. [2] Create incentives for authors to deposit their works. This appears to be the biggest issue for an institution to consider, as the value of a research repository depends on the number of authors contributing to it. [3] Link to the PBRF (performance-based research funding) process. There are 2 distinct linkages to consider between institutional research repositories and PBRF --at a policy level and at an operational level. [4] Build repository management capability. All projects investigated have highlighted resource constraints as a major issue. Implementation involves policy makers, library staff, and IT staff, as well as academic staff. [5] Copyright must allow open access deposit. Authors are properly worried about infringing agreed copyright arrangements with publishers and institutions need to help them comply with publishers' agreements.
Also see the outline and appendices. (Thanks to CAUL.)

OA archiving for developing countries

Subbiah Arunachalam, Open access could close North-South technological gap, SciDev.Net, July 1, 2005. A letter to the editor.
SciDev.Net recently reported on an action plan drawn up by the coalition of 132 developing countries known as 'G77 and China' that "stresses the need for developing countries to build scientific capacity and close the technological gap between them and industrialised nations." (See G77 developing countries pledge to promote science.) The article then says, "achieving this will depend in part on increased scientific cooperation between developing countries, including setting up networks of researchers and institutions, and a G77 consortium on science and technology." If information is key to science development, the bedrock of increased scientific cooperation is sharing information. What better way to share such information than to establish institutional open access archives?...All major higher educational and research institutions in the South should set up such archives and place the full text of all the research papers written by their own scientists and students. Papers made available through open access archives can be read and cited by more people than those that are available only through subscriptions to journals. Not only would open access increase the visibility of scientists from the South, but it would also enable them to access relevant information at a low cost....

Monday, July 04, 2005

Session on institutional repositories at the ALA meeting

Joy Weese Moll has blogged a summary of the LITA-sponsored session, Policies and Practices of Institutional Repositories (June 27), at the Chicago ALA Meeting.

Content repository API for Java technology

Java Community Process has announced the final release of the JSR-000170 Content Repository for Java technology API. Quoting from the proposal for this spec: 'The API should be a standard, implementation independent, way to access content bi-directionally on a granular level within a content repository. A Content Repository is a high-level information management system that is a superset of traditional data repositories. A content repository implements "content services" such as: author based versioning, full textual searching, fine grained access control, content categorization and content event monitoring. It is these "content services" that differentiate a Content Repository from a Data Repository. Many of today's (web)applications are interacting with a content repository in various ways. This API proposes that content repositories have a dedicated, standard way of interaction with applications that deal with content. This API will focus on transactional read/write access, binary content (stream operations), textual content, full-text searching, filtering, observation, versioning, handling of hard and soft structured content.' Jackrabbit is an open-source implementation of the new API. (Thanks to digitizationblog.)

(PS: As far as I can tell, the spec does not include the OAI PMH.)

ACODE support for OA repositories

The Australian Council on Open, Distance and E-Learning (ACODE) has released its Comments On The E-Research Strategic Framework Discussion. Excerpt: 'ACODE strongly believes in the development of sustainable repositories to manage and store e-Research content. The current FRODO projects funded under the ARIIC SII scheme are providing an excellent basis for the development of procedures, standards and software to capture important research data across a wide range of disciplines. Further support of such initiatives in the medium term to enable access to and dissemination of such content is highly recommended.' (Thanks to CAUL.)

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Defending the commons

Sudhakar Thaths Chandrasekharan, Pirates of the Commons, The Hindu, July 3, 2005. Building a defense of the information commons on Jared Diamond's Collapse. Excerpt: 'Controlling access to literary works to prevent copies from being made is a practice that goes back millennia. The Royal Library of Alexandria was so notoriously difficult to get into that Ptolemy III had to bribe his way in with 15 talents of silver. Innovations do not bloom in an intellectual vacuum where access to knowledge is controlled. Jared Diamond, in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, says that societies that restricted mobile exchange of ideas sowed the seeds of their own demise....The modern concept of Copyright evolved with the development of the movable type printing press, which made it relatively easy to produce multiple copies of works at a small additional cost. Publishers, not authors, were the first to seek restrictions on copies of printed works....The first modern Copyright law was the English Statute of Anne enacted in 1710. It granted 14 years of exclusive rights to the author and could be optionally extended for a further 14 years. The Statute was a revolutionary piece of legislation that even protected the rights of consumers by ensuring that printers could not control how a work was used by its purchaser....The Commons are a shared spring from which we all draw sustenance and inspiration without diminishing or polluting it. But these days the Commons are becoming stagnant and brackish. There is a real danger that the Commons will dry up and hamper the ability of future generations to be inspired by contemporary works of our time. The digital revolution has made reproducing music, books and movies trivially easy at negligible cost. We need a Statute of Anne for our times. Instead, nations are propping up antiquated ideas of intellectual property ownership and extending the lives of Copyright in ways that greatly impoverish the Commons.'

Case study in using OA to increase revenue

The June 24 issue of ContentBiz has a case study of IDES Inc. and how it made money by converting its priced journal (on technical and engineering data sheets for plastic resin) to open access.

OA to government data

The Rhode Island Secretary of State's eGovernment and IT Division has released GovTracker services to facilitate free online access to XML-structured government data.

Thanks to the Government Open Code Collaborative for the link. I like the comment on this service by the GOCC's James Willis: 'It is simply unacceptable at this point in history that a citizen can use web services to track the movies he is renting, the weather around his house, and the books he's recently purchased but cannot as easily monitor data regarding the quality of his drinking water, legislation or regulations that will directly impact his work or personal life, what contracts are currently available to bid on for his state, or what crimes have recently occurred on his street....[GovTracker services is] a step towards resolving this dissonance.'

OA for developing nations

Subbiah Arunachalam, Developing nations should back open access to science, SciDev.Net, June 24, 2005. A letter to the editor.
With regard to your news story 'India opens door to foreign science magazines' a few low-cost Indian editions of foreign journals might indeed hit the market and it could have some impact. However, what would have a greater impact for science in India is a much simpler initiative. If all funding agencies in India insisted that research papers resulting from their funding be archived in an open-access archive, Indian research papers would be more visible and more frequently cited. In the United Kingdom, for example, the funding agency The Wellcome Trust has already adopted such a policy. In fact, India should have taken a strong position on open access and promoted such initiatives sooner rather than concentrating only on forming library consortiums and subscribing to collections of foreign journals. Statistics show that articles archived in the Indian Institute of Sciences ePrints archive — which holds in digital format the research output created by the institute's researchers — are frequently downloaded by scientists from more than 100 countries. Scientists in India and other developing countries should be active in the promotion of open access. Only free and unhindered flow of knowledge can lead to rapid growth of knowledge.

ACIS Stage Three Plan

Thomas Krichel and Ivan Kurmanov have released the Stage Three Plan of the Academic Contributor Information System (ACIS). Excerpt: 'Our experience with RAS [RePEc Author Service] shows that academics are eager to share their personal and research data. Many users write to us asking about how to add new documents to their research profiles....One approach is to build a document submission facility into ACIS on our own. It is a costly task, if one wants to do it well. We don't have resources for it. Another approach is to integrate an existing open-source software such as EPrints...for such a facility. To integrate two different pieces of software into a single application requires more time and effort than we can spend. Within reasonable time and with reasonable effort we can make ACIS cooperate with external submission services. A well-organized cooperation can simplify user experience and provides for better quality of collected metadata. Imagine such a scenario. A user submits a document to a document archive. She enters the names of the document authors among other document information. The document archive searches for personal records, whose names or name variations match to what the submitting user entered. If it finds any personal records which look appropriate, the service might suggest it to the user, so that she can identify the author herself. When the submission is ready, the archive notifies an ACIS installation about it. ACIS processes new document data and the document is automatically added to the personal profiles of the identified authors. ACIS sends them email, notifying about this addition. In ACIS stage three we aim at such a user experience.'

New OA journal about Mars

The Mars Journal is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal published by Mars Informatics and funded (for its first three years) by NASA. It is now open for submissions. From the web site: 'Open access journals allow users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of published papers at no charge, and without the need to register. Open access allows authors can retain copyright to their original work, while enjoying the widest possible access to their papers by other researchers, and the public at large. Open access scholarly journals are becoming established in many fields, and are part of a growing movement toward public access to publicly funded research.'