News from the open access movementJump to navigation
Jennifer Watson, You Get What You Pay for? Archival Access to Electronic Journals, Serials Review, July 5, 2005. Abstract: 'An increasing number of libraries are canceling their print journal subscriptions and subscribing to journals in purely electronic format. With the print version of a journal, when the subscription is cancelled, the library retains all the earlier issues of the journal to which it subscribed. With the online version, this may not be the case. A library canceling an online subscription may lose all access to the journal, including issues for which access had previously been paid. The author describes the policies and practices of selected e-journal vendors and libraries in relation to archival access.'
Comment. This problem does not arise for OA journals. Where it arises for priced journals, the publishers are short-sighted. Publishers may be counting on it as incentive for libraries not to cancel their subscriptions. But they are forgetting that it's an even stronger incentive for libraries to support alternatives to the journal business models that give publishers this kind of power to harm libraries, researchers, and research.
The Senate subcommittee that appropriates funds for the NIH has approved an appropriation for fiscal 2006 (Senate Report 109-103). The report includes strong support for the NIH public-access policy:
The Committee has noted that the National Institutes of Health has begun to implement its public access policy which is geared to ensuring that NIH-funded research results are made available as soon as possible to the public, health care providers, educators, and scientists through the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central database. The Committee agrees with the need for, and a goal of, issuing a balanced policy to help promote increased public access to NIH-funded research while maintaining the integrity of the peer review system which is essential to ensure the quality and accuracy of medical research in the United States.Like the House last month (House Report 109-143), the Senate bill instructs the NIH to report back to Congress next year on the rate at which NIH grantees are complying with the request to provide copies of their research articles for public access.
Comment. Because the House and Senate appropriations reports differ in small ways, the differences will have to be worked out in a conference committee. I'll have more to say about these differences in the August issue of SOAN. Because both bills endorse the goals of the policy, and both ask the NIH to report on the compliance rate, those elements are sure to survive the conference. NIH will get the message that both houses of Congress are concerned that spotty compliance toward a good goal will not suffice. Meager compliance will be a reason to strengthen the policy, for example, by changing the public-access request to a requirement.
Data recently released by NIH indicate that the number of submissions since the policy's implementation in early May is very low. Based on annual data, NIH funding is responsible for about 65,000 scholarly articles a year. Therefore, NIH grantees could have chosen to place approximately 11,000 articles on PubMed Central --making this taxpayer-funded research available free to the public. However, statistics provided by NIH this week show that only three percent of this number, or 340 articles accepted for publication, have been submitted by NIH grantees. Sharon F. Terry, President of the Genetic Alliance and a member of the Public Access Working Group, commented that "If we were a venture capital company investing in a new business, and we saw early performance returns at the rate of three percent, we would not wait to re-examine our strategy."
Creative Commons Canada has issued a Response to the SSHRC-CFHSS Consultation on Open Access to Publicly Funded Research. (Thanks to Heather Morrison.) Excerpt:
We believe that scholarship should be available to the widest possible audience, regardless of wealth. We believe that the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) should be committed to ensuring free and neutral access to scholarship. We believe that scholarly journals should subscribe to Open Access principles, as articulated in the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge, and the Budapest Open Access Initiative. Therefore, we advocate that SSHRC adopt the following three requirements for recipients of SSHRC-issued grants.(PS: For background, see the SSHRC endorsement of OA from October 2004, and the Science Commons Open Access Law Program, on which some of the CCC statement above is based.)
Norway will not only require open-source software, but open standards in all government operations. The new requirement will be phased in over the next few years. One effect of the new policy, to quote Morton Meyer, Norway's Minister of Modernization, is that "Proprietary [file] formats will no longer be acceptable in communication between citizens and government." For details, see the July 6 press release. (Thanks to Teresa Hackett.)
The EU Directive on the Re-use of Public Sector Information was adopted on December 31, 2003, and member states had 18 months to implement it through national legislation. Those 18 months expired about two weeks ago. To follow-up, see this checklist of steps taken so far by each nation in the EU. (Thanks to Martin DeSaulles.)
The participants in the WSIS Thematic Meeting: Forum on ICTs and Gender (Seoul, June 24-25, 2005) issued the Seoul-Gyeonggi Declaration on the Equal Participation of Women in the Information Society. The purpose of the declaration is to lay down principles to guide the second phase of WSIS (Tunis, November 16-18, 2005.)
Principle 15: 'Ensure that content created or funded by government, government contractors conducting essential public functions, or intergovernmental organizations becomes part of the public domain. This is of particular importance with respect to technical and scientific information.'
Hugh Look, Sue Sparks, and Helen Henderson, Business models for e-journals: reconciling library and publisher requirements? Serials, July 2005. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'The JISC commissioned Rightscom to carry out a series of interviews with librarians and publishers in order to understand the strengths and weaknesses of current business models for e-journals. Rightscom developed new business models and created dynamic working models for a selected number of them. Librarians and publishers agreed in such areas as the need for more funding to cover the increased output of research, the need for predictability and not restricting usage, but disagreed over the retention of print and the need for flexibility.'
Colin Steele, Snap, crackle and ultimately pop? The future for serials, Serials, July 2005. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'This paper had as its brief, for the concluding session of the 2005 UKSG conference, to overview issues within the conference, and hopefully within an entertaining framework. Readers of this article should therefore also refer to the UKSG web site for my PowerPoint presentation which contains a significant amount of pictorial material. Topics covered include the recurring historical nature of the 'serial crisis', the open access movement, the costs of serials at both the 'front end' and 'back end', institutional repositories and the relationship of the academic book in electronic form to serial trends.'
Two from the July issue of Serials. In both cases, only abstracts are free online, at least so far.
Martin Richardson, Open access and institutional repositories: an evidence-based approach, Serials, July 2005. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'Oxford Journals are conducting experiments with partial open access publishing (Journal of Experimental Botany), full open access publishing (Nucleic Acids Research), institutional repositories (SHERPA) and subject repositories (PubMed Central). Initial results regarding open access have been encouraging, in that usage appears to have increased, but it is unclear whether open access publishing can be viable without support from institutional subscriptions. Early evidence suggests that free availability of articles through repositories also leads to increased usage but may have a detrimental impact on subscription revenues.'
Fytton Rowland, Journal access programmes for developing countries, Serials, July 2005. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'In this UKSG conference session, three papers were given that provided an overview of the various programmes in place designed to assist scholars, researchers and students in developing countries to gain access to the world's scholarly literature, both as readers and as authors. These programmes include PERI (Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information) and AJOL (African Journals Online) from INASP (International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications);the United Nations' HINARI (Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative) from the WHO (World Health Organization), AGORA (Access to Global Research in Agriculture) from the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) and TEEAL (The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library); eIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) from the OSI (Open Society Institute), part of the Soros Foundation; SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) from BIREME (the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information) and BioLine, as well as initiatives of individual first world universities and publishers.'
The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is seeking bids to launch and maintain a service to translate medical research into terms intelligible to patients, consumers, politicians, and the lay public. The service will be called the Clinical Decisions and Communications Science Center. 'The purpose is to...facilitate access to evidence-based clinical and health care delivery information, and foster informed health care decisions by patients, providers, and policy makers.' For details, see the June 30 RFP. Bids are due by August 11, 2005.
Comment. I wonder whether this project is designed to build on the NIH public-access policy. That would make a lot of sense: First make the research available to everyone and then make it intelligible to everyone. Like the NIH, the AHRQ is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Stephen Wildstrom, The Web Hits the Stacks, Business Week, July 14, 2005.
Two factors combine to make so much valuable and authoritative information [in books] inaccessible. The bulk of human knowledge represented by printed material -- especially the portion that is more than 25 years old -- does not exist in digital form. In addition, most books and other printed matter published in the last century are still under copyright, and rights owners want to know they'll be compensated for the use of their material....Probably the most intriguing project is Google Print, an attempt to scan the contents of the world's books. One part, developed with publishers, lets people search the contents of current books -- an effort similar to Amazon.com's Search Inside. The more ambitious piece, an outgrowth of the National Science Foundation's digital-libraries initiative, aims to put leading research collections online. This project has a long way to go, not least because publishers are already up in arms over copyright (see BW Online, 6/22/05, A New Page in Google's Books Fight). So far, relatively few books have been digitized. Among those are many copyrighted works that are in libraries but out of print. Google lets you search the contents of these works but only serves up snippets of text surrounding the search terms. Even if I end up having to go to a university library to see the whole book, this still strikes me as a powerful tool that I would have died for back in my student days. As useful as the Web is, Google Print shows how much is missing. It's good to see it gradually coming within clicking distance.
M. Madhavan, Sun: Make education open-source, The Star (Malaysia), July 14, 2004.
Education ministries all over the world should look at open-sourcing their textbooks, teaching aids, instructional materials and assessment tools, said Sun Microsystems chairman and chief executive officer Scott McNealy. A community driven process could get the best teachers, academics, researchers, authors, corporate trainers, administrators, public officials and students from around the world involved in creating the finest textbooks that are up to date, he said. The Santa Clara, California-based company wants everyone to get involved in creating online educational materials so that it can be made available for free to schools from any part of the world to use in any way they see fit. Sun already has an online community called the Global Education and Learning Community (GELC) working to produce curriculum materials such as online textbooks for kindergarten through secondary school. To date, China's education ministry and Korea's Education and Research Information Service have joined the GELC....GELC's mission is to improve global education by empowering teachers, students and parents with self-paced, web-based, free and open content combined with best practices for advancing student achievement worldwide.
The National Center for Telecommunications Technologies at Springfield Technical Community College has developed an Open Content Development System (no web site yet). On July 11, someone from the NTCC demonstrated it at the NCTT annual conference. The presentation is not online but was described briefly by William Freebairn in today's issue of The Republican: 'The National Center for Telecommunications Technologies provides help for teachers from the high school to college level. One of the latest initiatives, said [Gordon F. Snyder Jr., executive director of NCTT and a professor at Springield], is an effort to get teachers to share curriculum materials over a computer system. The "Open Content Development System" will allow free use of the shared material and is modeled on the open source software movement, Snyder said.'
Lewis Hyde, How to explore the unknown, On the Commons, July 13, 2005.
John Sulston's book The Common Thread is his account of the public project that sequenced the human genome. In my posting from a few days ago I outlined three ways in which Sulston's account informs the intuition that knowledge of the genome should be treated as a commons. I want to continue that line of inquiry today, focusing on the difference between pure and applied science. Commercial science is rightly driven by commercial goals and in exploring the genome it zeros in on the parts that may have profitable uses and ignores those that won't. Two problems arise as a result. First of all, genome research may yield public goods that have little commercial value, but not if the profit motive is the only engine. As Sulston said in his December 2002 Nobel Lecture, "many of the most important potential applications --for example the neglected diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, found mainly in the poorer parts of the world-- cannot be researched through funding for profit: there is no market to repay the investment." Second, a present reason to sequence the entire genome is that we have no real idea what will be useful and what will be useless....[I]n the absence of a full understanding of how the genome works, it is the habit of commercial science to stake broad claims hoping to strike a rich vein, then sit back and wait. This is what happened with a gene called CCR5 which encodes a receptor on the surface of cells. Nobody knew what the receptor did when CCR5 was first sequenced, but a private concern, Human Genome Sciences, nonetheless took out a patent on it. Only later did a group of publicly-funded researchers in the United States figure out that a defect in this gene produced resistance to HIV infection. Pharmaceutical companies that wanted to follow up on this promising discovery had to buy licenses from Human Genome Sciences before they could begin to work....Note, by the way, that the choice to be made is not between commons and commerce. We can easily have both. CCR5 should have been in the public domain, whereupon plenty of commerce, perhaps more, would have followed upon the description of its sequence and the growing understanding of its functions.
William Davies' Modernising with a Purpose: A Manifesto for a Digital Britain (Institute for Public Policy Research, July 14, 2005) does not discuss OA to research, pro or con.
David Prosser, The Next Information Revolution - How Open Access will Transform Scholarly Communications, in G.E. Gorman and Fytton Rowland (eds.), International Yearbook of Library and Information Management 2004-2005: Scholarly Publishing in an Electronic Era, Facet Publishing, 2005, chapter 6, pp. 99-117.
Abstract: Complaints about spiralling serials costs, lack of service from large commercial publishers, and the inability to meet the information needs of researchers are not new. Over the past few years, however, we have begun to see new models develop that better serve the information needs academics as both authors and readers. The internet is now being used in ways other than just to provide electronic facsimiles of print journals accessed using the traditional subscription models. Authors can now 'self-archive' their own work making it available to millions and new open access journals extend this by providing a peer-review service to ensure quality control. SPARC and SPARC Europe play a prominent role in the new scholarly communication landscape as they encourage the progress of open access while working closely with scholars and scientists, who must recognize the benefits of change within academe in order for such progress to occur.
David Prosser, Fulfilling the Promise of Scholarly Communication – a Comparison Between Old and New Access Models, in Erland Kolding Nielsen et al. (eds.), Die innovative Bibliothek : Elmar Mittler zum 65.Geburtstag, K G Saur, 2005, pp. 95-106.
From the abstract: The convergence of dissatisfaction with traditional, subscription-based business model for scholarly communications and the development of new, digital technologies allow us to...consider the claims of new models. This paper describes the requirements of a scholarly communication system and investigates which model – subscription-based access or open access – best satisfies these requirements.
Brains, Minds & Media is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal published by Digital Peer Publishing NRW. The inaugural issue is now online. From the web site: 'This novel open-access journal publishes peer-reviewed articles and media from research and education of neural and cognitive science....Brains, Minds & Media publishes brief papers and supplementary materials (optional) on media in neural and cognitive science. This implies practical educational applications in the neural and cognitive sciences as well as their theoretical foundations. Contributions may refer to neural, cognitive or behavioural phenomena or their software and hardware models in different fields.'
On June 24, I blogged the Statement on Scholarly Communication and Publishing issued by the participants in a JISC-sponsored colloquium on scholarly communication (London, June 21-22, 2005). At the time, JISC promised more details in due course. The details are now online, including the final version of the statement and details on the colloquium such as the key issues, the speakers and presentations, the program, the delegates, and photos.
Excerpt from the statement, "for which there was a consensus of support":
 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.  Research results are wide in scope, and access to datasets, background documents and other information are as essential as access to the article.  There are many effective routes to do this; traditional publishing models are only one route.  Of the emerging models, open access journals and subject repositories and institutional repositories show potential and further development and deployment should be encouraged.  Institutions and publishers need to investigate the potential of models that allow a graceful and sustainable transition from old to new paradigms.... Authors or authoring institutions should retain the rights to their intellectual property.
John Dupuis, My job in 10 years -- Further thoughts on books & journals, Confessions of a Science Librarian, July 4, 2005. (Thanks to Walt Crawford.)
Open Access...is a really tough area to prognosticate on, both in terms of where the OA movement will go in 10 years and in terms of how that evolution (revolution) will actually affect my job. No question, far more of the world's scholarly output will be available via scholar's home pages where they will self-archive their work. Also no question, institutional and discipline-based repositories will also pick up steam and make available an awful lot of the work that is being produced, both in terms of articles and other materials like presentations, datasets, media files, and whatever. I imagine that the commonly used search tools 10 years from now will pick all this self-archived/repositoried stuff up. I think my role in this process will be to facilitate and organize access to these repositories via the search tools as well as to facilitate and organize the scholars at my institution getting their stuff into the various repositories. Bringing this stuff together in a coherent way is where I see the role of overlay journals. As for OA journals, they too will no doubt multiply. As for whether they will replace journals with a toll access, I doubt it, at least in the 10 year timeframe. I think the (inflation adjusted) overhead will be drastically lower than the $500-$1000 per article we see mentioned a lot these days, but someone will still have to pick up that cost. I think that there will still be a variety of business models around in 10 years, some author pay, some institution pay for author, some regular subscription journals, some where journals are hosted by institutions that pick up the tab. At the same time, I think the 10-15 year time frame will see a kind of tipping point. As the current generation of undergrads & grads become the senior researchers and administrators, their expectations will start to shape the academy more and more. The expectation that everything be free and instantly available will totally transform scholarly publishing, to the point that I don't think journals will even exist as we know them now. My role in all this? Mostly getting out of the way, riding the wave, facilitating the transformation and making sure faculty & students are on board and coping. Redirecting journal subscription funds to supporting various repostitories and other OA-related initiatives. Support my institution's efforts at repositories & hosting.
SPARC Europe has released its response to the RCUK open-access policy. Excerpt:
SPARC Europe (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), a leading organization of European research libraries, calls for wide support for the proposed policy released by Research Councils UK (RCUK), the main public investor in fundamental research in the UK. The policy, announced in June, requires Research Council grantees to deposit the resulting research reports into openly accessible repositories in order to speed and widen dissemination. David Prosser, Director of SPARC Europe, commented – 'We are currently in the position where UK researchers cannot get easy access to all the work of their peers, despite the vast majority of it being published online. So, while the UK Government has greatly increased research spending, to £2.4B for the Research Councils, the return on this investment is not maximized. If implemented, the RCUK policy would rectify this.'...SPARC Europe encourages submission of favourable comments that support the draft during the public comment period set to end August 31st....The academic libraries represented by SPARC Europe look forward to the challenge of working with their academics, the Research Councils, and publishers to maximize research impact by implementing the policy. 'Many of our members, especially in the UK, already have great experience with running institutional repositories and there is a strong commitment to further develop these repositories as research tools,' said David Prosser. 'Ensuring access to high-quality, peer-reviewed research is one of the central remits of the library and the new policy will enable greater access to a wider range of research, so benefiting researchers, students, and society in general.'
Sam Vaknin, Free Public Domain and Copyrighted e-Books Online, FreePint Newsletter 186 (14 July 2005). Extensive compilation of OA e-book sites, with some partial access sites. (However, OAN is identified under its old name, Free Online Scholarship News.)
Luigi Canali De Rossi, Can Video Long Tail Boost Learning And Educational Opportunities? Robin Good, July 11, 2005.
Call it Open Source Television, Internet of Video, Internet Television or any other name you like, the essence remains the same: a huge amount of openly accessible video content is already becoming available on the Internet....For the first time education could look at television as a new resource, rather than as an enemy and carrier of low-quality, brainless programming. The traditional enemy of culture and learning may be gearing up for a major comeback. When content production becomes detached from a distribution system based on scarcity, a whole new army of video producers will emerge making available large quantities of news, documentary, reporting, and educationally-valuable content to anyone. I am just out of the Open Content and Knowledge Sharing international conference sponsored by a number Italian Universities as well as by several other academic groups and organizations. My presentation at this event focused on providing some vision on how the extended effects of the Long Tail of Video and of other converging forces may indeed bring an unknown new set of opportunities also to the academic and educational world....Inside or outside the academic establishment, nothing can be more certain than the fact that in the near future more and more individuals will increasingly bypass traditional academic systems which based their knowledge delivery approach on teaching methods. Such individuals will create personal learning pathways built around the newly unlimited content resources available online, previously accessible only to a few. As this infinite open library, the Internet, begins to provide aggregated access to popular content and the long tail, including video and films, the new opportunities for learning and sharing knowledge more effectively increase exponentially for everyone. Whether that will be done for pure social growth and the desire to share or for economic interests is up to each one of us to have a word on.
Will Knight, Email forwarding amounts to ritual gift exchange, NewScientist, July 12, 2005.
Forwarding a quirky email or an amusing link or video attachment to colleagues may seem innocent enough, but it is the modern equivalent of ritual gift exchange and carries with it similar social implications, say US researchers....Benjamin Gross at the University of Illinois, US, and colleagues studied email forwarding behaviour by conducting informal interviews among email users. He says forwarding emails plays a vital role in constructing and maintaining modern social ties, despite the phenomenon receiving scant attention from social scientists.
Comment. No doubt. But how about a more exciting and significant form of digital gift culture --open access to scientific and scholarly research literature?
Brett M. Frischmann, An Economic Theory of Infrastructure and Commons Management, University of Minnesota Law Review, 89 (2005) pp. 917-1030. (Thanks to David Bollier.) This excerpt truncates a complex article in order to focus on OA to scientific research literature:
My thesis is that if a resource can be classified as infrastructure according to the economic criteria set forth in Part II of this Article, then there are strong economic arguments that the resource should be managed in an openly accessible manner....[The criteria are:] (1) The resource may be consumed nonrivalrously; (2) Social demand for the resource is driven primarily by downstream productive activity that requires the resource as an input; and (3) The resource may be used as an input into a wide range of goods and services, including private goods, public goods, and nonmarket goods....Consider, for example, basic research. What makes basic research valuable to society? Again, like a road system (and a lake), basic scientific research is socially valuable primarily because of what it facilitates downstream --how it can be used to produce further research. It satisfies all three criteria in the public infrastructure: It is nonrival; it creates benefits or value primarily because of the downstream uses, which generally involve the production of additional public goods (e.g., information, knowledge, and learning); and, by definition, there is wide variation in downstream uses. It is difficult to estimate the social value of basic research, primarily because of the wide variety of downstream uses that generate public goods and uncertainty with respect to future directions that the cumulative productive processes may go.286 Nonetheless, as with many traditional infrastructures, it is well recognized that basic research contributes significantly to economic growth and social welfare....For basic research, however, coupling government funding with a clear dedication to the public domain remains a potentially attractive method for sustaining a commons that relies on neither the government nor the market mechanism to allocate access among the public.
JISC has announced an international collaboration on standards for learning and research technology. From yesterday's press release:
What is the e-Framework? One of the big technical obstacles preventing learning and research technology realising its full potential is the difficulty of accessing and sharing information between the different and often incompatible computer-based information systems and applications used throughout the learning and research communities. The e-Framework supports a service-oriented approach to developing and delivering education, research and management information systems. 'Service-orientated' means breaking down monolith applications such as a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) into its core components eg authentication, authorisation, course management, assessment, marketing, tracking and content management. Such an approach maximises the flexibility and cost effectiveness with which systems can be deployed....JISC intends to employ a practical approach to the e-Framework development, one based on institutional needs; for example, it will fund university-based projects to produce and test models and tools that will allow institutions themselves to link different services together to address their own particular needs. The intention is not to provide a blueprint for an open-source solution, but rather to facilitate the integration of commercial, home-grown, and open source components and applications to meet institutional goals.
The publishers behind the DC Principles have publicly released their July 7 letter to Senator Arlen Specter about the NIH public access policy. Excerpt:
The undersigned nonprofit organizations that publish journals are long-term supporters of providing public access to medical and scientific information. Nevertheless, we have significant concerns about the National Institutes of Health duplicating private sector on-line publishing through the implementation of a new policy that took effect on May 2, 2005. Of further concern, is language included in the House Labor, HHS Appropriations Bill for 2006 Committee Report that prejudges the value of this policy and calls for more aggressive action to maximize participation. Our organizations are concerned that a full evaluation of the costs and impact of the NIH policy on private sector publishing has not occurred and therefore we seek the inclusion of language in the Senate Committee Report to accompany its FY 2006 Labor, HHS Appropriations Bill directing NIH to provide cost information and to determine the current availability of NIH research articles through existing private sector services....Given Federal budget constraints, every effort should be made to avoid establishing a federally administered and funded program that would duplicate private sector publishing activities, particularly one that may undermine the activities of nonprofit peer-reviewed journal. Rather than create a publication/distribution system for articles already available in the private sector from nonprofit publishers, NIH should use its limited resources to carry out its prime mission of funding biomedical research. Further, we are skeptical about the wisdom and appropriateness of a federal agency entering into the scholarly publishing industry, in competition with and possibly to the ultimate detriment of non-profit private sector publishers.
Comment. Here's some context. (1) The DC Principles coalition opposed the NIH public access policy. (2) The appropriations report cited in the letter (House Report House Report 109-143, June 16, 2005) not only calls for "an aggressive education and outreach initiative aimed at informing grant recipients about the [NIH public access] policy in an effort to maximize full and prompt participation", but also expresses concern that the NIH policy may be too weak to meet its objectives and instructs the NIH to report back to Congress on the rate at which NIH grantees are complying with the request for public access. For the full report language, see SOAN for 7/2/05. The report now goes to the Senate where it may be adopted or modified. Sen. Specter is chairman of the Senate commmittee that will consider the report.
Amy Harbur, The Promise and Problems of Digital Scholarship, CLIR Issues, July/August 2005. A report on the DLF Spring Forum 2005 (San Diego April 13–15, 2005).
What does it mean for the scholarly community when new tools change not only the method of dissemination but the very creation of scholarship itself?...And how can librarians most effectively support scholars in an increasingly digitally based environment?...Several [speaker] touched on the need for standardization to make it easier to search and retrieve documents. Corey Keith and Morgan Cundiff of the Library of Congress discussed the creation of a Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS) profile-validation tool that will facilitate interoperable exchange of METS documents by enforcing standard rules. Sayeed Choudhury and Tim DiLauro of The Johns Hopkins University proposed that their colleagues consider the benefits of using one "agnostic" interface for repository access rather than several different interfaces customized to various applications. To this end, with the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, they are conducting an evaluation of repository software and services. Tito Sierra and Steve Morris of North Carolina State University discussed the work under way in their institution toward developing a "single search box" for Web site searching. These and other sessions focused on ways to increase interoperability among institutions so that resources can move fluidly from one repository to another. There has also been discussion in the community, reflected at the forum, about the creation of global repositories. One way of accomplishing this is to house all materials at a single site. Another way is to gather links to items stored at any number of participating repositories in a central area --a "commons"-- for searching. These links then serve as pathways to the digital items, wherever they may be housed. Charlotte Hess of Indiana University spoke of the Digital Library of the Commons, which she directs. They have found the "library of the commons" model to be unsustainable in practice, given the current state of technology.
Kathlin Smith, American Literature E-Scholarship: A Revolution in the Making, CLIR Issues, July/August 2005.
Technology is transforming scholarship, and while technology’s impact has been less extensive in the humanities than in the social or natural sciences, recent years have seen a blossoming of innovation by digital humanists. In a forthcoming report from CLIR and DLF titled A Kaleidoscope of Digital American Literature, author Martha Brogan describes achievements in digital American literature and explores priorities and concerns of digital practitioners in the field....Brogan interviewed more than 40 scholars, librarians, and practitioners to learn how well digital resources serve scholars of American literature and what is most needed to advance digital scholarship. She also conducted a review of digital resources and projects in American literature, a sampling of which comprises the bulk of the report....Because digital scholarship is still so new to them, most humanists find it hard to articulate what tools they need beyond information filtering and navigational devices. A variety of notable projects are, however, available or under development. Among them are the NINES tools, which will support six basic scholarly tasks (arranging, comparing, transforming, discussing, commenting on, and collecting texts and images); the Nora project, which is developing software for discovering, visualizing, and exploring significant patterns across large collections of full-text humanities resources in existing digital libraries; the NITLE Semantic Engine, designed to facilitate accessing and organizing large amounts of unstructured digital text; and DLF Aquifer, a suite of services and tools to support a distributed, open digital library....Several interviewees identified copyright as the biggest obstacle to advancing digital scholarship in American literature....A Kaleidoscope of Digital American Literature will be available in print and on the Web in August.
Scott Carlson, Texas Universities Join to Create a Digital Library for Scholars and the Public, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 13, 2005.
Four Texas university systems and Rice University will collaborate on a digital repository whose goal is to offer online resources, such as teaching aids, dissertations, and practical information, although not books. The repository will be called the Texas Digital Library, but it will not resemble the California Digital Library -- not initially, at least. While the California Digital Library -- which provides books, journals, and databases to California libraries -- provides an inspiration, says Fred Heath, vice provost of the University of Texas Libraries, "this would be closer to the DSpace collaborative at MIT." The DSpace project is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's online archive of scholarly works. Intended to benefit both educators and the public, the new digital repository will be supported by the Texas A&M University System, the Texas Tech University System, the University of Houston System, and the University of Texas System. Rice, a private institution, is also part of the consortium. David W. Gardner, associate commissioner for academic excellence in research at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, hopes that the digital library will allow the various Texas institutions to pool resources in ways that will save money on digitization efforts and offering online information....Mr. Heath would like to see the Texas Digital Library go online by the end of the year, but he wants to be sure that the site has enough content to keep visitors busy. UTopia, a digital library on the University of Texas at Austin's Web site, is a model for the Texas Digital Library...."It allows us to make a statement to the people of Texas and the people of the world -- 'Here are resources that aren't behind the ivy wall. These are here for you too,'" Mr. Heath said. "We are very keenly interested in restoring the concept of public higher education as a public good, not as a private good and if you want it, you pay for it."
Stacie Bloom, Open access jumps the pond, Journal of Clinical Investigation, July 2005.
[I had an excerpt here but removed it 12/28/05 at Blooom's request. The full text of the article itself is still OA at the journal site.](PS: I suppose the lead time between submission and publication is the only reason why Bloom didn't mention the more recent and more significant UK development --the RCUK draft open access policy.)
A Philadelphia company, Healthcare Advocates, posted some information to its web site in 2003. During a subsequent trade secrets dispute with another company, it removed the information from its site and asked the Internet Archive (IA) to block access to its copies of the same information. A Philadelphia law firm later found the information in the IA --whether by ordinary searching or by hacking is still unclear. Now Healthcare Advocates is suing the IA for failing to block the information and suing the Philadelphia law firm for bypassing the IA's blocking technology. A spokesman for the law firm said, "You don't have trade secrets if you're publishing them on the Web...[I]t appears [Healthcare Advocates] published trade 'secrets' on their own Web site, and didn't want anybody to know that." For more details, see Kevin Coughlin, Philadelphia health care advocacy firm sues search-engine operators, Star-Ledger, July 12, 2005 (free registration required).
From the article: 'Kurt Opsahl, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a cyber-liberties group that has represented the Internet Archive in the past, called this the first case to challenge the [IA's] exclusion policy. But he said the claims are so quirky -- amounting to "in-fighting" between law firms --he doubts it will set legal precedents for companies such as Google, which also stores billions of Web pages. Opsahl said he knows of no laws guaranteeing any right to take back Web information once it's published. He added that the doctrine of fair use generally allows the gathering of copyrighted materials as evidence in trade secret cases and other disputes.'
Update. I won't blog all the coverage of this lawsuit. But since the Star-Ledger broke the story, many other newspapers have begun to cover it.
Update. This suit was settled on August 23, 2006. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.
On June 30, forty-four European science organizations representing "several hundred thousands of researchers across Europe" issued a call for a European Research Council (ERC). Excerpt:
Europe has made great strides towards agreeing on a genuine new mechanism to fund frontier research – the European Research Council (ERC). This is a cornerstone for achieving the ambitions of the European Council (Lisbon agenda) to increase substantially Europe's innovativeness and competitiveness. The aim is to boost fundamental research as a means to be a winner in a world wide knowledge-based economy....The time has now come for the European Competitiveness Council, the European Parliament, and the European Commission to see to it that the ERC clears the last remaining hurdles and receives a strong budget commitment and a statute guaranteeing its independence....[B]y providing a funding source that is freely, and under the same conditions accessible to scientists from across Europe, it creates a strong incentive for universities and research organizations to establish a stimulating working environment for promising young scientists and for large groups of the best and brightest. It is the best possible boost to the European university system.
Yesterday the Competitiveness Council discussed this appeal as well as the March 31 Interim Report of the European Research Council Identification Committee. The result, if any, has not yet been announced.
Comment: Momentum for the ERC is building and we can hope that EU policy-makers will approve it. This is a golden opportunity to design a 21st century funding agency channeling public money into scientific research. The ERC needs a clear policy mandating open access to ERC-funded research.
Lynne Brindley, Re-Defining Libraries for the Google Age, eGov Monitor, July 11, 2005. Brindley is the Chief Executive of the British Library.
In light of these technological developments, the UK needs to develop a digital research information infrastructure. This infrastructure, including content, hardware and applications, is necessary to support the research process within a digital environment. The British Library has an important role to play, and we are collaborating with others to assess the scope of what’s needed. It's vital that we work together to develop a sustainable framework with consistent standards that will meet the needs of researchers both today and in the future.
The July-August issue of El profesional de la Información is dedicated to OA. The issue TOC links to free online abstracts but not free online full-texts. However, the PDF of the full issue offers OA to each full-text article. Eight of the nine articles are in Spanish.
Charles W. Bailey, Jr., BMC's Impact Factors: Elseviers Take and Reactions to It, DigitalKoans, June 11, 2005. A useful compendium of BMC's press release, Elsevier's response, and comments by Bailey, David Goodman, Matt Cockerill, and Stevan Harnad. Bailey: 'Open access will rise or fall based on its demonstrated ability to significantly boost impact factors, and the battle to prove or disprove this effect will be fierce indeed.'
Comment. I'd only add that it's important to distinguish the citation impact of an individual article from a journal impact factor. The BMC-Elsevier debate is about the latter. But OA is more likely to rise and fall according to the former. Authors control the rate at which we move toward OA and they care more about the impact of their own work than the average impact of the authors who publish in the same journal.
'The Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) recently launched a joint effort with the LOCKSS Project ("Lots Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe") to test the use of LOCKSS software plug-ins to preserve copies of the more than 13,000 electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) held at eight ASERL libraries.'
--From an ASERL press release, July 11, 2005.
Last month UNESCO released Towards a declaration on universal norms on bioethics, a draft declaration on research ethics (June 24, 2005). Excerpt:
The aims of this Declaration are: (i) to provide a universal framework of principles and procedures to guide States in the formulation of their legislation, policies or other instruments in the field of bioethics; (ii) to guide the actions of individuals, groups, communities, institutions and corporations, public and private; ...(vi) to promote equitable access to medical, scientific and technological developments as well as the greatest possible flow and the rapid sharing of knowledge concerning those developments and the sharing of benefits, with particular attention to the needs of developing countries; ...
For background, see Priya Shetty, Ethics, science and human rights come together, SciDev.Net, July 12, 2005. Excerpt: 'UNESCO has issued a draft declaration it says will be the first ever to commit governments to take a position on the ethical and human rights dilemmas raised by modern research....It urges states to consider ethical questions from a 'human rights perspective': at its heart is the statement that the welfare of the individual should have priority over the interests of society or governments....It also highlights the importance of access to scientific and technological information, particularly in developing countries, and says governments should promote the sharing and free flow of scientific information....The draft declaration will be submitted for approval by all 192 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) member states in October. [Henk ten Have, Director of UNESCO's division of ethics of science and technology] does not expect the final text to differ significantly.'
JISC is reminding the world about Humbul, its portal for OA resources in the humanities. From the July 11 statement: 'There's been much written in the media recently about open access science journals which remain free for the reader but peer-reviewed for the author. But did you you know there are a growing number of freely available, peer-reviewed online journals in the humanities? A JISC-funded service is helping to promote access to quality assured e-journals across all humanities subjects. More than 100 journals for those studying a wide variety of disciplines - including languages, religion, classics, archaeology and history - are now freely available online in one place from Humbul, a hub of the Resource Discovery Network. Each journal has been reviewed by a subject expert including information about the editor, publisher and language of the journal, and of course with a link to the journal's location on the Web.'
Barbara Quint, Congressional Research Service Documents — Free or Fee? Information Today NewsBreaks, July 11, 2005. Excerpt:
The Congressional Research Service (CRS), a part of the Library of Congress, is Congress’ reference desk and research arm. With an annual budget of approximately $96 million and a staff of 700, CRS produces solid, objective, well-researched material covering the current legislative agenda as well as reports written in response to requests from members of Congress. Topics cover a wide array of issues --almost anything of interest to policymakers. However, CRS does not release any of its reports directly to the public. Instead it leaves that option to members of Congress as part of their services to their constituencies. Because American taxpayers fund the studies, however, the reports --if you can find them-- are public domain. Free Internet services offering copies of CRS reports have begun to emerge, but the free offerings, supplied by sources such as the new Open CRS, still cannot match the comprehensiveness of some fee-based services, such as Penny Hill Press' collection, which is available in full text through GalleryWatch.com....Open CRS tracks the appearance of more than 8,400 CRS studies on the Web and provides central indexing and links to them....Not only does Open CRS provide a central clearinghouse for studies already out on the Web, it also lobbies Congress to open access to all CRS Reports....Penny Hill charges $29.95 for long reports and $19.95 for shorter reports. (Students pay $19.95/$12.95.)...And what about the public domain status of the documents? [Walter] Seager said that GalleryWatch already has license provisions with subscribers that block use of the reports outside a subscriber's organization. Penny Hill plans to have a similar arrangement in place. Seager agreed that public domain has its place. "It's a good idea. The taxpayers pay for the documents," said Seager, "and they should be freely available. But as long as I have to work this hard to get them, I have to get paid."
Kristrún Gunnarsdóttir, On the Role of Electronic Preprint Exchange in the Distribution of Scientific Literature, Social Studies of Science, 35, 4, (2005) pp. 549-579. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.) Only this abstract is free online, at least so far.
The scientific community has begun using new information and communication technologies to increase the efficiency with which publications are disseminated. The trend is most marked in some areas of physics, where research papers are first circulated in the form of electronic unrefereed preprints through a service known as arXiv. In the first half of this paper, I explain how arXiv works, and describe the conceptual backstage and its growing influence. I will look at the motives behind the developing technologies and focus on the views of promoters and makers of the system. In the second half of the paper, I look at the eventual fate of papers initially circulated with arXiv. While it is argued that preprints are sufficient for the everyday scientific practice, nearly every paper in some specialities finds its way into formally peer-reviewed journals and proceedings. I argue that the continuation of traditional publication practices, in spite of their costs and inefficiencies when compared with arXiv, suggests that formally certified publication still has important roles. Certified publication verifies the relevance of scientific work and establishes professional credentials in the outer rings of the community, whose members are not sufficiently embedded in esoteric networks to make appropriate judgements on the basis of reading papers in isolation, or even through consultation.(PS: In short, preprint archiving is valuable but so is peer review.)
War over the weather, Chicago Tribune, June 20, 2005. An unsigned editorial. (Thanks to Martin DeSaulles.)
It's an unseasonably fluky day when a member of Congress tries to punish a government entity for doing too good of a job. In this case, the National Weather Service apparently has been putting out too much useful information. Its graphics and Web site are more user-friendly and better-organized than ever. Its forecasts are clear and concise. And it's free. For shame! Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) argues that the National Weather Service has an unfair competitive advantage against commercial weather businesses. He makes no secret of the fact that more than a dozen of those private companies happen to be based in his state, where he happens to be running for re-election. Santorum has a bill that would require the National Weather Service to give much of its data only to private companies like AccuWeather and WeatherBank, which repackage the taxpayer-funded information for radio and TV and the like to make their tidy profits. The bill appears to block the Weather Service from providing this information directly to the public. The public would still pay to collect this information. It just wouldn't have access to what it's paying for. Come again? The private companies dislike that the National Weather Service has joined the 21st Century....If private weather companies want competition, let them start by buying their own satellites, buoys, aircraft, upper-air weather balloons and other fancy barometric equipment. Let them create their own multimodel ensemble blends and generate their own storm warnings and small craft advisories. And then let's talk. The public pays for the National Weather Service. The public should be able to use it.
The ALPSP issued a position statement today on Google Print for Libraries.
ALPSP has maintained close contact with Google during the development of Google fulltext indexing and Google Print for Publishers. Indeed, the Association has encouraged members to enable fulltext indexing of their online publications, and published in April 2004 an 'Advice Note' on 'Enabling Google to Index your Fulltext Content', written for us by Kiran Bapna and Anurag Acharya of Google. We also encouraged participation in 'Google Print for Publishers', mentioning it frequently in our members' newsletter ALPSP Alert, and have reported the experience of those members who do participate in either initiative. Both of the above initiatives, however, are carried out in the context of explicit agreements with participating publishers? thus, the copying and resultant indexing of content which they entail is done with publishers' permission and therefore does not infringe copyright....'Google Print for Libraries', on the other hand, was apparently developed without any consultation with publishers. It entails making complete digital copies of publications, including – in the case of some of the participating libraries – works which are still in copyright. Irrespective of whether the results may be damaging or beneficial to the copyright owners, the fact remains that copying on such a scale is in clear contravention of copyright law and is not covered by any exception in any relevant legislation. Permitting publishers to 'opt out' is not an acceptable substitute for proper licensing in the first place; while we appreciate that publisher-by-publisher negotiations could be impractical, by working through representative trade organisations, or even collective licensing agencies, it should be possible to negotiate a workable licensing framework....Google has variously stated that it wishes to collaborate fully with publishers? that it believes that the copying involved is covered by Fair Use/Fair Dealing (which we absolutely dispute)...and that the copying is justified by the beneficial nature of the resultant use (which is no defence, in our view, against a copyright infringement). The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers calls on Google to cease unlicensed digitisation of copyright materials with immediate effect, and to enter into urgent discussions with representatives of the publishing industry in order to arrive at an appropriate licensing solution for 'Google Print for Libraries'.
Comment. The ALPSP language ("enter into urgent discussions") suggests a grievance. But the association is careful not to say that the Google copying is harmful. It even leaves open the possibility that the Google copying is beneficial. Now I acknowledge that even harmless and beneficial copying might infringe copyright. So from a legal perspective, the publishers might have an objection no matter what. But from a policy perspective --e.g. whom to support or how to revise the law-- it matters whether publishers are being injured or whether they are asserting an abstract property right without an injury.
Zara Herskovits, New type of research journal gaining ground, Boston Globe, July 11, 2005. Excerpt:
Last month, a two-year-old scientific journal with a controversial new business model was named the top biology journal of 2004. The recognition was the first quantitative measure of the success of Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology -- and suggests that such free, readily accessible scientific journals are gaining on the traditional publications that have been the hallmark of scientific publishing for centuries....''This can really improve scholarly communication," said Sidney Verba, professor of government and director of the Harvard University library. ''The scientific community can recapture the ability to communicate their results." The basic premise behind PLoS Biology, and a rapidly expanding family of similar publications in biology and medicine, is that the United States government spends billions of taxpayer dollars to support scientific research, yet results from these efforts are often buried in journal archives that are expensive and difficult to access. PLoS is a nonprofit organization comprised of research scientists who seek to give everyone -- from citizens who want to learn more about new medical treatments to scientists in developing countries who want to reference basic science articles -- full access to these materials. PLoS Biology was ranked number one among biology journals on the basis of its impact factor, which is the equivalent of a batting average in the world of scientific publishing.
Stevan Harnad has launched his own blog, Open Access Archivangelism. The subtitle: Maximizing Research Impact by Maximizing Research Access. He writes that he'll use the blog to distribute "the longer and more substantive ones of my AmSci Postings (and perhaps some selections of postings by others too)" but I'm sure that he'll find other uses for it. Welcome to the blogosphere, Stevan!
Today is Fair Use Day in the U.S.
Fair Use rights have been under siege for a long time and from every direction. Sometimes it seems that almost anyone who makes or sells anything wants to eliminate another piece of Fair Use rights for their own gain....We think Fair Use should have its own "Day", a day to celebrate Fair Use in any lawful way you wish. Exercise your Fair Use rights or contact a corporation or government of your choosing and let them know you want Fair Use rights and you want them protected - demand your Fair Use rights!...Fair Use isn't just about what you can play on your ipod. Fair Use promotes interoperability and the advancement of learning and expansion of knowledge. It impacts every thing from the computer in your car to accessing material at your public library, to playing a DVD you purchased or rented on your Linux computer. We invite you to learn more about your rights where Fair Use intersects technology.
The leaders of nine scientific organizations from four continents have issued a joint statement on Science and technology for African development. Excerpt: 'We would like to stress...the fundamental importance of science, technology and innovation in tackling a wide range of problems facing Africa and other developing regions. The goal of securing a sustained improvement in the living standards of nations is highly complex and should be informed by scientists along with economists, social scientists and other experts in the field of development. At the heart of this endeavour, alongside issues of governance, security and trade, lies the capacity of nations to engage with global science and technology. We, the national science academies of the G8 nations and the Network of African Science Academies, therefore call on world leaders, including those meeting at the Gleneagles G8 Summit in July 2005, to implement the following recommendations without delay.' (Thanks to Thoughts About K4D.)
Comment. While the statement makes the correct and important point that scientific research is an essential part of economic development, what is notable about this statement is its complete neglect of access issues. The missing principle was well-put in the Berlin Declaration: '[The] mission of disseminating knowledge is only half complete if the information is not made widely and readily available to society.'
Current Web Contents (CWC) is a new product from Thomson ISI that links to scholarly web sites selected for their authority, accuracy, and currency. A page of examples includes Xiphophorus for the life sciences, ProMED-mail for clinical medicine, and arXiv for physics --all OA resources. CWC itself requires a subscription. Those who also subscribe to Current Contents Connect can search across all the sites selected in CWC. (Thanks to eprintblog.)
Comment. This is a novel extension of the standard journal practice of charging for the evaluation of content for which the publisher pays nothing. If some OA resources are better than others, then the evaluations can help researchers. But note this anomaly: unlike other OA resources, OA repositories do not perform peer review and try to limit the eligibility criteria for inclusion to disciplinary relevance or institutional affiliation. It's misleading to suggest that some repositories are overall or intrinsically of higher quality than others. Because repositories are interoperable, readers should use every one that holds relevant papers and authors should contribute to the most convenient one where they have deposit rights.
The University of Bremen has endorsed the Berlin3 recommendations and signed the Registry of Institutional OA Self-Archiving Policies. (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)