Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Google steering users toward Google Scholar

If you put a name and city into Google, you'll often get a phone book entry as the first search result, followed by the ordinary results. If you put a standard term preceded by the word "book" into Google, you'll often get Google-scanned books as the first search results, followed by the ordinary results. Today I noticed that vanilla Google will sometimes give you Google Scholar results before the ordinary results. Here's one example. It's difficult to trigger this behavior deliberately, which suggests (1) that it might be an old feature that I just didn't run into before and (2) that it's a very new feature and doesn't yet cover even the comparatively small GS index. In any case, it's a welcome integration of functions and should help make the GS literature more visible to Google users.

Beyond Google Moon

Google Moon has given Steinn Sigurðsson an idea: "Now, if [the folks at Google] were serious, they could chip in some hard cash - buy open access to the Sloan Digital Sky Survey or pay for it to do the whole sky? Or become partners in The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope - the whole sky, live to google. That's the way to do it."

German survey of attitudes toward OA

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) has released a major new study of OA, Publikationsstrategien im Wandel? Ergebnisse einer Umfrage zum Publikations- und Rezeptionsverhalten unter besonderer Berücksichtigung von Open Access, 2005. Also see this news story on it: Richard Sietmann, DFG legt Studie zu Open Access vor, Heise Online, July 23, 2005. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

The study asked over 1,000 German scientists about their experiences with OA journals, OA preprint archiving, and OA postprint archiving. The responses show strong support for OA. For example, over two-thirds said that OA will improve access to scientific knowledge and produce a lasting change in the landscape of scientific publishing. (PS: If anyone is willing to translate the report's one-page Executive Summary and post it to SOAF, then I'll blog it here.)

Update (July 24). Jutta Haider has translated the executive summary. Excerpt: 'Until now, throughout all disciplines, very few researchers actively publish in Open Access. Of all those questioned only about every tenth had published in an Open Access journal. According to those questioned the distribution of freely accessible preprints on the Internet -­ common practice only in some subjects - is also done infrequently. Somewhat more frequently papers that had already been published elsewhere are secondarily distributed for free online....In contrast to the low Open Access publication activity a majority of those questioned throughout all disciplines approve of an increased advancement of Open Access by the German Research Foundation. Whereas those at earlier stages of their careers in the natural, life, and engineering sciences support the advancement of Open Access somewhat more strongly than their already more established colleagues....The preparedness of scientists to use part of their funding to finance the free availability of their publications is proportionate to the expenditure scientists already have to provide to publish conventionally. Therefore life scientists are most prepared to pay author fees for open access publications, while humanities scholars and social scientists are least prepared....Proposals of the researchers with regards to the question how the German Research Foundation could advance Open Access essentially aim at the following: measures to intensify the debate surrounding freely accessible publications, measures to assure the quality of Open Access journals, and the ­ technical, legal, organizational ­ support of secondary Open Access publication of material that was previously published in a conventional way.' (Thanks, Jutta!)

Data Access and Data Quality laws serve tobacco strategy

Annamaria Baba and three co-authors, Legislating "Sound Science": The Role of the Tobacco Industry, American Journal of Public Health, July 2005. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'In the late 1990s, in an effort to dispute the link between secondhand smoke and lung cancer, Philip Morris initiated a campaign to legislate "sound science." The campaign involved enacting data access and data quality laws to obtain previously confidential research data in order to reanalyze it based on industry-generated data quality standards. Philip Morris worked with other corporate interests to form coalitions and workgroups, develop a "data integrity" outreach program, sponsor symposia on "research integrity," and draft language for the new acts. The tobacco industry played a role in establishing laws that increase corporate influence on public health and regulatory policy decisions.'

Also see this summary: Wallace Ravven, Unprecedented industry-backed laws limit public safety, study shows, Medical News Today, July 22, 2005. Excerpt: 'Two laws recently passed by Congress with strong industry backing have had a chilling effect on government efforts to protect public health, according to a UCSF study. The laws make all raw data produced by federally funded research available for public review, and require that any data disseminated by the government adhere to definitions of quality set by the law - definitions that industry interests helped develop. The new laws allow industry advocates to more easily challenge or stall government scientific research and weaken proposed regulations that affect them, the UCSF researchers assert. Yet at the same time, research by industry faces no such high standard, and as a result, pharmaceutical, tobacco and other industries can make claims that are harder to challenge than the government's research-based standards, says Lisa Bero, senior author of the study and professor of clinical pharmacy and health policy at UCSF. Bero and her colleagues urge passage of new laws to increase public access to industry-sponsored science - at least to the same level as government-funded research....The two laws in question are the Data Access Act, passed in 1998, requiring for the first time that all raw data produced under federally funded research studies be publicly available, and the Data Quality Act of 2001, requiring that government-disseminated data adheres to standards established by the law.'

PS: Also see my article on the Data Qualitiy Act from April 2002.

Conservative defense of Google against publishers

Timothy B. Lee, Don't Stop Google, Cato Institute, July 23, 2005. Excerpt:
Wouldn't it be great if you could conduct a full text search of books the same way you search the web? You'd sit down at your computer, type in some search terms, and get a list of every book at your local library that contains those terms -- complete with brief excerpts that show the terms in context. It sounds like science fiction, but Google is now working to make it a reality. The Google Print project aims to scan digitally and index every book ever written, creating a search engine for books just as powerful as its industry-leading search engine for the web. Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle Google faces isn't technological, but legal. Publishers are accusing Google of copyright infringement, and they're demanding that the company get individual permission from each publisher before it scans their books. So far, Google has resisted the demands, insisting that building such a search engine is a legal fair use under copyright law. There's a strong case for that position, and given the tremendous benefit Google Print would bring to library users everywhere, Google should stick to its guns. The rest of us should demand that publishers not stand in the way....The Constitution states that the purpose of copyright is to "promote the progress of science and the useful arts." In other words, intellectual property increases public access to creative works by giving authors the incentive to produce them. Given Google Print's tremendous potential to help readers find the books they want to read, it would be perverse to invoke copyright law to strangle the service in its cradle.

Short list of OA resources

Charles Bailey and Sara Ranger have put together a one-page list of OA resources. (PS: This complements my one-page intro to OA, which describes the concept without listing resources.)

How OA may affect peer review

Ann Weller, Electronic Scientific Information, Open Access, and Editorial Peer Review: Changes on the Horizon, Science & Technology Libraries, 26, 1 (2005), prepublication. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far: 'This paper reviews some of the many changes to publishing resulting from the electronic environment and focuses on how open access may impact or alter the editorial peer review process. Developments of particular importance to editorial peer review include the impact of electronic journals (e-journals) on scholarly publishing in general, pre-print repositories, open access journals, and access to unpublished data. New pricing models are changing the economics of scholarly publishing, and there are promises of quick reviews that may impact the peer review process itself. The paper ends with a discussion of the role the government is playing in developing a workable open access model.'

Preview of PLoS Pathogens

The Public Library of Science is offering a preview of PLoS Pathogens, the OA journal it will formally launch on September 30. From the preview: 'The journal is led by Editor-in-Chief John A.T. Young, a professor in the Infectious Disease Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. "Understanding pathogens and how they interact with their hosts is one of the most serious scientific challenges we face. New pathogens are emerging all the time, and others adapt to treatments efforts," Young says. The journal will publish rigorously peer-reviewed papers in the broad field of pathogens research, which includes bacteria, fungi, parasites, prions, and viruses. Open access --free availability and unrestricted use-- to all articles published in the journal is central to the mission of PLoS Pathogens and the Public Library of Science. "Our open-access license means [the research published] is immediately available to scientists all over the world," the journal's editorial team explains.'

On the origin of dLIST

Paul Bracke and Anita Coleman, DLIST: Opening LIS Research and Practice, a preprint from 2003 but only now archived for access.
Abstract: This is an unpublished and longer version of a short paper that was submitted (and not accepted) to JCDL 2003. In this paper we describe our initial goals for DLIST, a digital library for Library and Information Science Research and Practice and for Information Technology as it relates to LIS. DLIST is built upon the open access eprints model, but extends materials in the collection beyond the formal, scholarly literature to include other types of content created by researchers and practitioners. DLIST is intended to promote resource sharing in LIS and IT and to attempt to bridge the gap between research and practice. The notion of open access is briefly discussed as a central tenet for the development of the intellectual commons as an interactive space for learning.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Judge Roberts on free speech, copyright, and media regulation

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has put together a useful page summarizing John Roberts' judicial decisions in free-speech, copyright, and media regulation cases. Roberts has been nominated to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Google and AAP talking about copyright

Tidbit from today's Library Journal: 'Association of American Publishers (AAP) officials remain tight-lipped about the discussions, preferring to keep the process out of the public eye, but have confirmed that Google officials and the AAP board of directors met on July 1 to discuss copyright concerns with Google's library digitization plan. Although no further details are available, more meetings are likely in the coming weeks. The meeting comes after the AAP wrote to Google to express their concerns over the company's ambitious scan plan. In June, AAP VP for legal affairs Allan Adler said that AAP always intended to keep discussions with Google private, but discussed their concerns after news of their letter was leaked.'

Google News crawls OA repositories

Stuart Yeates, Google News picks up eprint repositories, Open Source in Higher and Further Education, July 21, 2005.
This may be old news to those in the eprints world, but Google News is automatically picking up new deposits in at least some repositories. This morning I googled for news on virtual learning and up came this from the University of Southampton eprints server.

Comment. This is news to me. I knew that Google Scholar crawled OA repositories but not that Google News did so too. I wonder how many OA repositories it crawls, how many more it plans to add, and how it selects the lucky ones. To nominate your repository for inclusion, send an email to Google News at

OA journal introduces article processing charges

Hazel Jones, Cerebrospinal Fluid Research: The first six months and the introduction of article processing charges, Cerebrospinal Fluid Research, July 19, 2005. An editorial. Excerpt:
It is now over six months since the launch of Cerebrospinal Fluid Research in December 2004. Cerebrospinal Fluid Research is published by BioMed Central, an independent publisher committed to ensuring peer-reviewed biomedical research is Open Access. To fund this, from July 1st 2005 authors of articles accepted for publication will be asked to pay an article-processing charge (APC) of £330.00. Traditionally, readers pay to access articles, either through subscriptions or by paying a fee each time they download an article. Escalating journal subscriptions and shrinking library budgets have resulted in libraries subscribing to fewer journals, and the range of articles available to readers is becoming more limited. Although traditional journals publish authors' work for free (unless there are page or colour charges), paying to access articles limits the number of people that can read, use and cite them. The benefits of Open Access and of Cerebrospinal Fluid Research's Open Access policy were highlighted in a previous editorial....The APC pays for online submission and efficient peer review, for the article to be freely and universally accessible in various formats online, and for the processes required for inclusion in PubMed and archiving in PubMed Central, e-Depot, Potsdam and INIST. There is no remuneration of any kind provided to the Editor-in-Chief, to any members of the editorial board, or to peer reviewers; all of whose work is entirely voluntary. Although some authors may consider £330 expensive, it must be remembered that Cerebrospinal Fluid Research does not levy additional page or colour charges on top of this fee. With the article being online only, any number of colour figures and photographs can be included, at no extra cost. Another common expense with traditional journals is the purchase of reprints for distribution, and the cost of these reprints is frequently greater than our APCs. Cerebrospinal Fluid Research provides free, publication-quality pdf files for distribution, in lieu of reprints.

ETD policies at ARL institutions

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., ETD Policies and Procedures at ARL Institutions, July 21, 2005. Excerpt: 'What electronic theses and dissertation (ETD) policies and procedures are in use in major North American research institutions? The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) currently has 123 member libraries in the US and Canada. Below is a list of Web sites at ARL institutions that provide significant information about these institutions’ ETD policies and procedures. Some of these Web pages are on the library’s Website; some are on other university components’ Websites. This list was complied by a quick look at ARL libraries’ home pages, supplemented by limited institution-specific Google searching. Since these Websites can be difficult to find, this is likely to be partial list of relevant Websites. Please leave information about other relevant Websites in comments.' Then Charles links to the ETD policy pages at 29 ARL institutions.

Update. Also see the supplement Charles posted on July 27.

New home page for A2K treaty

The Access to Knowledge (A2K) Treaty has a new home page in blog format. It's an excellent way to follow new developments, especially the Byzantine combination of politics and diplomacy as the Development Agenda (which includes the A2K treaty) winds its way through the procedural thickets at WIPO.

Presentations on institutional repositories

The presentations from the LITA session on Policies and Practices of Institutional Repositories at the ALA Annual Conference (Chicago, June 27, 2005) are now online. All of them are also archived in D-LIST.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Radio network endorses OA

From the Critical Mass Radio Network Principles of Unity: 'The network considers open access to information a prerequisite to the building of a more free and just society.'

New OA journal on copyright

Copyright is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal focusing on copyright in the internet age. The editors include Lawrence Lessig and Michael Geist. From the site: 'Copyright seeks articles on all topics related to copyright, including: Digital Rights Management, Quantitative studies of the effects of legislation, Scholarly communication and Open Access, Peer-to-peer networks, International copyright, Collaborative authorship, Blogs and other new media, Collaborative filtering, Copyright in developing nations, Social implications of copyright.'

The journal will support an unusual, wiki-based form of author collaboration. '[W]hile the majority of articles will still be published in the traditional fashion, a novel, collaborative approach has been implemented as well. Potential authors can simply begin contributing to such an article while the system tracks the individuals' contributions. The article is then submitted through the normal review process and, if accepted, authorship is assigned based on the tracked contributions as the last step of the review process.' One of the collaborative papers now in progress is on Open Access and Reputation. Help write or revise it and join the list of co-authors.

(PS: I like the wiki experiment. The editors can launch important topics without knowing who might be qualified to write on them and without committing the journal to publish the results unless they are good enough.)

The same wiki supports a series of community projects. One current project is on self-archiving. This is the wiki first launched by Ari Friedman (blogged here on June 27), now under the journal's umbrella.

More on open courseware beyond MIT

Tufts University has launched a OpenCourseWare project. From the site: 'Great universities constantly expand their reach, working across traditional boundaries to grasp and meet the global community's most critical needs. This begins with sharing knowledge -- among colleagues, among departments, among schools and finally across countries and continents. Tufts OpenCourseWare is part of a new educational movement initiated by MIT where course content is accessible for free to everyone online....[Tufts] OpenCourseWare (OCW) seeks to capitalize on the potential of the internet to eliminate borders and geographic distance as obstacles to the instantaneous exchange of knowledge and new ideas. Unlike distance learning programs that charge tuition, provide formal instruction and limit participation, OpenCourseWare offers all course materials free to everyone with online access. Educators from around the world may upgrade their classes; students may enhance their coursework or pursue self study; the general public may glimpse the depth and breadth of what leading universities are offering and benefit from reading lists and lectures. OCW does not require any registration and is not a degree-granting or certificate-granting activity. It is instead an effort to share knowledge and make the best educational use of the Internet's potential. The project has already been embraced by students and educators around the globe, many of whom are from areas where educational resources are scarce or difficult to access. Tufts OCW is now in its pilot phase. This website represents only a sampling of Tufts course materials online, and will help to determine how best Tufts should develop its OpenCourseWare presence in the future.' (Thanks to Wired Campus.)

Research portal for economics and finance

Eco5 is a new research portal for economics and finance. Once nice feature is a list of repositories and collection of OA working papers or eprints in the field. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

RSS beyond blogs

Sharon Housley, Future of RSS is Not Blogs, FeedForAll, n.d. Housley argues that businesses can benefit from RSS. How well do her arguments apply to scholarly journals? (Thanks to mw233.) Excerpt:
The biggest opportunities for RSS are not in the blogosphere but as a corporate communication channel....The inherent capacity for consumers to select the content they wish to receive will be the driving mechanism for keeping advertisements to a minimum and content quality consistent....RSS, being a tool that saves Internet surfers time and allows webmasters to re-purpose and re-package existing and new content will, in my opinion, continue to thrive [after blogs fade]. A business effectively using RSS can bring new site visitors, increase search engine positioning, and generate product interest. The flexibility of RSS as a communication medium and the expansion capabilities of the enclosure tag will allow RSS to flourish as an online marketing tool. Each day businesses are adopting new uses for RSS, and users are becoming accustomed to skimming content that *they* choose in a single centralized location....Businesses using RSS as a communication vehicle are able to create keyword-rich, themed content, establishing trust, reputation, and ongoing communication with current and prospective customers....RSS will create new revenue channels. RSS has the potential to help companies develop strong relationships with consumers and create brand loyalty. RSS Feeds will draw existing customers and prospective clients, translating to a new or renewed income stream.

Updated authors' manual for NIH policy

The NIH has updated the Authors' Manual for its public-access policy. The manual is also available in a printer-friendly PDF.

Digital libraries in Africa

The University of Waikato and UNESCO have launched a survey of African institutions on "the technical problems faced by African institutions and information professionals in creating digital libraries." For more details, see today's press release.

The shift toward publicly-funded research in the US

Jeffrey Brainard, Federal Funds for Academic Research Rose Sharply in 2003 While Industry Support Continued to Decline, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 21, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
Federal funds for academic research [in the US] rose by 13.1 percent in 2003, the second straight year of double-digit increases, the National Science Foundation reported on Wednesday. The growth, coupled with a continuing drop in funds from industry, fueled an increase in the federal share of academic-research money to nearly 62 percent, its highest level since 1985. The numbers come from the NSF's annual "Survey of Research and Development Expenditures at Universities and Colleges." The survey is based on figures from the 2003 fiscal year, the most recent data reported by the agency.

Comment. If the US required OA to publicly-funded research (with reasonable exceptions e.g. for classified research), then we'd see a steady growth in the "market share" for OA to match the steady shift toward publicly-funded research. This may be an obvious point, but unfortunately it needs repeating. The NSF survey quantifies a continuing lost opportunity to accelerate research, increase the return on public investment, and serve the public interest.

More on OA to drug trial data

Vinita Salvi, Research trials: Registration, reporting and publication, Journal of Postgrad Medicine, 51, 2 (2005). Excerpt:
The world of medical research is increasingly concerned about the need to completely document all trials and ensure that they are accurately and completely reported. Researchers owe an ethical obligation of imparting full and correct information about their trials to both their research participants and the public at large. Thus, knowledge gained from research should be in the public domain and freely available to everybody. Making research data public also serves the purpose of conserving resources by avoiding unnecessary duplication of research work....Though trial registration is an important initiative it is not a panacea since it does not provide access to unpublished data submitted to regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration. Should the principle of only considering registered trials be applied across the board by all journals? This is undoubtedly necessary in the long run.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Ranking universities by their web presence

Isidro F. Aguillo and three co-authors, What the Internet says about Science: Universities can be ranked based on web indicators, The Scientist, July 18, 2005. (Thanks to Steve Hitchcock.)
The Web has changed the way in which many researchers access scientific information, conduct research, communicate their findings, and share data. There is now a need to assess the impact of Web publication in order to promote wider and better use of this new medium. Recent attempts have been made to go beyond the strict use of bibliometric indicators....The Web offers advantages as institutions represent "natural units," with their own institutional domains that mark their presence on the Internet. Since most institutions have a specific Internet domain or subdomain for all their Web pages, quantitative data can be extracted using specifically designed crawlers, or the robots of the major search engines. The contents of these institutional Web sites might include not only final papers or preprints, but also valuable information on other aspects of their scientific activities. Raw data, teaching materials, slides produced for meetings or conferences, in-house software, graphs, media files, and even administrative information might be useful to pupils, colleagues, and partners worldwide....[W]e designed a combined assessment model for ranking the institutional domains of universities worldwide based on "Web presence" indicators. Three different features of these domains were assessed: the size of their Web presence (measured by the number of Web pages), visibility (reflected by the number of in-links from pages external to the domain), and the number of "rich" files available [for downloading]....Data were collected using the major search engines. The full results are available from Ranking of World Universities in the Web, where the first 1,000 universities are listed according to Web criteria.

Comment. This study shows once more that OA to research articles through institutional repositories increases the visibility and stature of the institutions, the authors, and their works. It should strengthen the case for universities to launch OA repositories and fill them.

Why we need OA to clinical trial data

From a posting on yesterday's POGO blog from the Project on Government Oversight:
The birth control patch Ortho-Evra may be more dangerous than people once thought. After filing a FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request for federal drug safety reports on the birth control patch, the Associated Press discovered that "the risk of suffering a survivable blood clot while using [Ortho-Evra] was about three times higher than while using birth control pills." What's alarming isn't so much the findings of the FDA study, but rather the fact that the AP had to submit a FOIA request to obtain them. Why weren't these studies made available to the public? How can a person be expected to make a decision about their health if they don't have all the facts? In order to help protect the public (and in order to regain some of the credibility lost in the past year) the FDA needs more transparency. Unfortunately, legislation that would help to remedy this problem, such as the Fair Access to Clinical Trials Act (some information is currently and more will hopefully be posted at, is held up in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. What are they waiting for?

The emerging digital commons

David Bollier, Why Online Commons Are Besting the Mainstream Media, On the Commons, July 19, 2005. Excerpt:
When I look at the online world these days, I feel like I'm watching one of those old nature films in which an unseen narrator excitedly whispers as a baby bird miraculously pecks its way through the eggshell and announces itself to the world. Who is this fragile new creature? I feel the same sense of amazement as I contemplate the new modes of expression made possible by digital technologies. What is this podcasting, this video-blogging and these new public-domain repositories? Here's my excited narrator's whisper: A lot of new media genres seem to be empowering individuals by providing them with a lightweight commons infrastructure. Unlike today's media market...the new online commons are soaring because they tend to be more efficient, versatile, responsive and socially authentic as modes of communications....As we are able to capture more of our socially created value through commons (blogs, wikis, webcasts, open source, etc.), we are forcing the mass media to re-tool its business models in order to compete with the strange new forms of non-market value-creation. Can they do it? What sorts of "value-added" service will they excel in? Whatever the eventual answer, the balance of power between commons and markets is suddenly, for the moment, open for re-negotiation! The market can no longer capture and control so much of our creative and cultural lives. We must make the most of this opportunity, not just in establishing new online commons that are more responsive to us (and, usually, free!), but in validating the general power and theory of the commons.

Importance of open access in developing countries

The July 19 issue of CMAJ includes a letter, Importance of open access for clinicians and researchers in developing countries, by Anant Bhan, a Fogarty International Fellow at the Joint Centre for Bioethics of the University of Toronto. Excerpt: "I am a South Asian physician pursuing graduate studies in a Canadian institution, and the online availability of the latest medical literature through my university's subscription has opened up a new world for me, helping me to improve the quality of my research and my understanding of the issues. I am already dreading the loss of this privilege when I return home".

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

New OSI guide to OA publishing for scholarly societies

Jan Velterop, Guide to Open Access Publishing and Scholarly Societies, Open Society Institute, July 2005.

From the "about" page: 'This guide has a limited scope. It is meant to help scholarly societies - and small publishers - assess the options available to them for the future of their journal publishing programmes. Though the option of keeping the status quo of subscription-based journals is discussed, the focus is on conversion of existing journals to open access, either in one go, or via an intermediate managed transition phase.'

From the text: 'Scholarly Societies are 'natural' Open Access publishers....A society serious about furthering the science and practice in its chosen field is bound to consider these benefits [of OA] and to look for ways of using them wherever possible for the attainment of its goals. By switching to open access publishing they will do much to further the widespread dissemination of knowledge in the area of science that they foster and promote....[T]he perception is widespread that the societies benefit more from the traditional publishing model than they are ever likely to do from these new emerging input-paid models, at least if one looks at revenues. As said before, this is a false perception. For societies that make the choice for open access, this guide aims to provide practical help to reduce or even eliminate financial risks and make conversion of an existing journal into an open access one a smooth and professional process.'

Nine journals send pre-publication data to BIND

Ninth Journal Will Submit Interaction Data to BIND Ahead of Publication, GenomeWeb, July 18, 2005. (Thanks to John Wilbanks.)
The Journal of Biomolecular Screening will submit molecular interaction data to the Biomolecular Interaction Network Database [BIND] prior to publication, becoming the ninth journal to take this step, the Blueprint Initiative, which maintains BIND, said last week. Under the agreement with the journal's publisher, SAGE Publications, data from pre-publication manuscripts will be submitted to BIND and BIND record identifiers will be published in the final articles. The Journal of Biomolecular Screening is the ninth journal to require pre-publication data to be submitted to BIND. The others include Science, Nature Cell Biology, and Immunology.

Copyright barriers to free access from libraries

Leslie A. Lee and Michelle M. Wu, DMCA, CTEA, UCITA...Oh My: An Overview of Copyright Law and Its Impact on Library Acquisitions and Collection Development of Electronic Resources, The Acquisitions Librarian, 19, 37/38 (2006), in advance of publication. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:
The purpose of traditional copyright law was to encourage the creation of works based on and to ensure reasonable access to original thought. Despite this harmonious intent, an intrinsic tension exists between libraries and copyright holders, as the former promotes "free" access to information that ultimately reduces the income of the latter. The expansion of copyright laws to electronic documents has shifted the balance between these two interests. This article discusses recent copyright legislation and case law as well as provides an overview of the practical effects of these laws on day-to-day library acquisitions, collection development, and collection management activities.

Deconstructing the ejournal

Daniel E. Cleary, Incentives for Deconstruction of the E-Journal, The Acquisitions Librarian, 19, 37/38 (2006), in advance of publication. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:
Simply an idea for systematic incentives at all institutional levels necessary to implement institutional archiving of peer-reviewed papers produced by their faculty. Some of the key concerns are addressed outlining the roles of senior faculty, junior faculty, librarians and others in fulfilling what should be an administrative imperative in all academic disciplines and campuses. These concerns include incentives for long term electronic archiving, institutional maintenance of copyright for their employee's intellectual product, motivation of authors to participate in a new publishing paradigm, precise and timely access to peer-reviewed literature and the peer review process. Concludes with a rhetorical calling to arms of all University administrators who would need to lead an assault on an entrenched and well-funded publishing industry.

Librarian input needed on paradigm change

David Stern, Enhanced Online Access Requires Redesigned Delivery Options and Cost Models, The Acquisitions Librarian, 19, 37/38 (2006), in advance of publication. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:
Rapidly developing online information technologies provide dramatically new capabilities and opportunities, and place new responsibilities on all involved to recreate networks for scholarly communication. Collaborations between all segments of the information network are made possible and necessary as we attempt to find a balanced and mutually beneficial way to maximize these new technologies. This is a time of paradigm change in information delivery that calls for new approaches and considerations. Some of the important new options that require consideration are: the delivery of unbundled and integrated media materials; the recognition and appropriate separation of the costs for delivery which are distinct from those of peer review and formatting/ branding; the rationale and means of presenting additional flexible and customizable cost models based upon a variety of factors; and the possible role for agents in developing standardized product packages. This article attempts to highlight some important areas for focused attention, and discusses the responsibilities for proactive input by librarians in these early design which are distinct from those of peer review and formatting/ branding; the rationale and means of presenting additional flexible and customizable cost models based upon a variety of factors; and the possible role for agents in developing standardized product packages. This article attempts to highlight some important areas for focused attention, and discusses the responsibilities for proactive input by librarians in these early design considerations.

Will Canadian copyright bill ban search engines?

Elinor Mills, In Canada: Cache a page, go to jail? ZDNet, July 19, 2005. Excerpt:
A bill before Canada's Parliament could make it illegal for search engines to cache Web pages, critics say, opening the door to unwarranted lawsuits and potentially hindering public access to information. The legislation in question, Bill C-60, is designed to amend Canada's Copyright Act by implementing parts of the 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization treaty, the treaty that led to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the U.S....But according to Howard Knopf, a copyright attorney at the Ottawa firm of Macera & Jarzyna, a brief passage in the bill could mean trouble for search engines and other companies that archive or cache Web content....Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law, agreed.

Also see Jack Kapica, Could Googling become illegal?, Globe and Mail, July 12, 2005. Excerpt:

Could it be possible that Canada will make Google or any other Internet search and archiving engines illegal? Bill C-60, which amends the Copyright Act and received its first reading in the House of Commons on June 20, suggests it could be illegal for anyone to provide copyrighted information through "information-location tools," which includes search engines.

More on OA to clinical trial data

Is This Clinical Trial Fully Registered? A Statement from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Annals of Internal Medicine, July 19, 2005. Excerpt:
In September 2004, the members of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) published a joint editorial aimed at promoting registration of all clinical trials. We stated that we will consider a trial for publication only if it has been registered before the enrollment of the first patient. This policy applies to trials that start recruiting on or after 1 July 2005. Because many ongoing trials were not registered at inception, we will consider for publication ongoing trials that are registered before 13 September 2005. Our goal then and now is to foster a comprehensive, publicly available database of clinical trials. A complete registry of trials would be a fitting way to thank the thousands of participants who have placed themselves at risk by volunteering for clinical trials. They deserve to know that the information that accrues from their altruism is part of the public record, where it is available to guide decisions about patient care, and deserve to know that decisions about their care rest on all of the evidence, not just the trials that authors decided to report and that journal editors decided to publish....Our September 2004 editorial specified the information that we would require for trial registration. Attendees at a recent meeting of the WHO registration advisory group identified a minimal registration data set of 20 items (Table). The WHO-mandated items collectively address every key requirement that we established in our September 2004 editorial. The ICMJE supports the WHO minimal data set and has adopted it as the ICMJE's requirement....We stated our requirements for an acceptable trial registry in the September 2004 editorial, and they remain the same. The registry must be electronically searchable and accessible to the public at no charge. It must be open to all registrants and not for profit. It must have a mechanism to ensure the validity of the registration data.

More on open-source biology

Arti K. Rai, Open and Collaborative Research: A New Model for Biomedicine, a preprint forthcoming in Robert Hahn (ed.), Intellectual Property Rights in Frontier Industries: Software and Biotech, AEI-Brookings Press. (Thanks to David Bollier.)
Abstract: The advent of open source software has prompted some theoretical speculation about the applicability of open source production principles to biomedical research. This paper moves beyond theoretical analysis into an empirical examination of biomedical research projects that operate under what might be called an open and collaborative model. Open and collaborative projects represent a fresh approach to biomedicine in that they not only disavow its exclusionary behavior but they also reject its small-lab based structure. The paper argues that open and collaborative biomedical research represents a promising experiment. Not only has it produced software and genomic data that is usable, but the resulting public domain status for this software and data may reduce access and transaction cost problems for follow-on innovators. The model's least intuitive, but most exciting, application may involve wet lab systems biology: in this context, the model may allow a more coordinated and comprehensive attack than has heretofore been possible on the sorts of problems that cause promising drug candidates, particularly for complex diseases, to fail. Open and collaborative biomedical research does diverge, however, from non-biomedical open source production. Particularly outside the area of software, open and collaborative biomedicine may require restrictions on participation; significant centralization and standardization; reliance on public funding; and limitations on use of copyleft licensing. Additionally, if the model is to gain significant traction, practical problems involving the division of consulting revenues between scientists and universities as well as inefficient biological science publication norms will have to be addressed.

New issue of D-Lib on 10 years of digital libraries

The July/August issue of D-Lib Magazine is now online. This issue marks the 10th anniversary of D-Lib, one of the most successful and influential OA journals covering digital-library issues. Many of the articles look back over the past 10 years and others look forward.

Measures of Impact

Hemai Parthasarathy, the Managing Editor for PLoS Biology, has published an Editorial, Measures of Impact, in PLoS Biol 2005(Aug); 3(8): e296. The editorial is about a preliminary 2004 impact factor for PLoS Biology. Excerpt: "Journal editors know that there are various ways to deliberately improve an impact factor, for example, by publishing topical review articles and by weighting content towards more highly cited fields. This begs the question of whether the editors of PLoS Biology should play the impact factor game and discontinue some of our educational material in favor of higher citations. On the contrary, our goal is to eventually expand and further develop these components of PLoS Biology".

Monday, July 18, 2005

More on HINARI and AGORA

Maurice Long, HINARI and AGORA: Providing Access for Researchers in Developing Countries, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 33, 3 (2005). (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)
Abstract: This article briefly describes two schemes, Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI) and Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA), which enable up to date scientific and clinical literature to be distributed via the World Wide Web to individuals in developing countries at zero or minimal cost as a result of agreements between publishers.

New book series on OA

Polimetrica, the Milan-based scientific publisher, has launched a book series on open access. From the web site: 'Open Access is a book series which aims to promote projects, initiatives, tools and methods, developed in order to help the free and open access to the knowledge resources. Each volume contains papers, short monographs and other documents connected with one or more of the following questions: what were, what are and what could be the different meanings of the expression "free and open access"? What kinds of activities could be developed in order to help the free and open access to the knowledge resources? How is it possible to organize these activities? What was, what is and what could be the role of the free and open access activities in the different kinds of cultures, societies and economies? How is it possible to circulate the free and open access philosophy in these multiple contexts? This series aims to address its enquiries by directing the research perspectives towards the future (what could be ...), not forgetting the present (what is ...) and the past roots (what was ...): the frameworks of knowledge are made up through plural histories, localized in different cultural, social and economical backgrounds and developed in relation to different needs, equally important and considerable. To be published a work must be structured, correct, clear and well written. Authors are encouraged to cooperate with other working scientists and with people and organizations interested in developing, promoting and benefiting the obtained results.'

Giandomenico Sica is the editor-in-chief of the series. Each volume will appear in an open-access edition as well as a priced, printed edition. (Disclosure: I am a member of the Editorial Advisory Board.)

Digital archiving for US govt records

Aliya Sternstein, NARA earns accolades from GAO, Federal Computer Week, July 18, 2005. Excerpt: 'The National Archives and Records Administration's huge undertaking -- to save government records in any format and make them available on future hardware and software -- is moving full speed ahead, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.' (Thanks to Patrice McDermott.)

Canadian ministers defend copyright bill against critics

The Canadian Ministers of Industry and Canadian Heritage have taken the unusual step of writing an op-ed to defend the new Canadian copyright bill against criticism that it will harm education and research. (Thanks to BNA Internet Law News.) Excerpt:
Lately there have been a number of media reports and editorials about new legislation to update the Copyright Act and in particular about the issue of educational access to works on the Internet. They say that Bill C-60 will make it illegal to use Internet material for educational and research purposes. In fact, Bill C-60 will not address Internet material, although it does contain provisions to enable the use of the Internet for distance education and the digital delivery of inter-library loans. As well, the Government has taken special care to ensure that the exercise of new digital rights for creators will not hamper access to works for educational or other socially important purposes. The issue is complex and raises a number of difficult considerations. For example, what material on the Internet should be considered "publicly available" for uncompensated use? Copyright legislation provides that copyright protection arises automatically upon creation of an original work, whether or not the author of the work wishes to exploit the right. Stakeholders who have been consulted, including rights holders and educators, have nevertheless agreed to the principle that "where there is no expectation of payment, there should not be a requirement to pay." However, no agreement has been reached on a set of criteria to identify "publicly available material." In fact, no other country has specifically addressed the issue of educational use of Internet material....Rather than dealing hastily with this issue or refusing to address these educational concerns, the Government has undertaken to consult more broadly on this issue. We hope to gather new insights that will enable us to address the interests of all Canadians. Good public policy can only emerge from a full, open and constructive dialogue. Consultations on this issue are expected to begin this fall, at the same time as hearings on Bill C-60 get underway in Parliament.

Background. For a good example of the kind of criticism the ministers are trying to answer, see Michael Geist, Technology, culture, education, P2P Net, June 27, 2005 (blogged here on June 28).

Toronto funds student projects in OA or OS

The University of Toronto's Open Source | Open Access project has launched a Student Experience Program. From the web site: 'The Project OS|OA Student Experience Program is an opportunity for University of Toronto students to participate in research projects investigating some aspects of open source and/or open access. The goal is to enrich the student experience by bringing students and faculty together to participate in research and special initiatives that in some way contribute to the production or use of open source software or to scholarly enquiry and debates around open software and open access. Funding awards are available for students to engage in these projects as Student Research Assistants under the direction of faculty sponsors....Visit Summer 2005 Student Experience Projects to see descriptions of projects....Due Date: Proposals for the Fall 2005 competition must be received by September 26, 2005. There will be a second call for proposals in January 2006.'

Open XML architecture for chemical data

Peter S. Murray-Rust, John B.O. Mitchell, and Henry S. Rzepa, Communication and re-use of chemical information in bioscience, BMC Bioinformatics, July 18, 2005.
Abstract: The current methods of publishing chemical information in bioscience articles are analysed. Using 3 papers as use-cases, it is shown that conventional methods using human procedures, including cut-and-paste are time-consuming and introduce errors. The meaning of chemical terms and the identity of compounds is often ambiguous. Valuable experimental data such as spectra and computational results are almost always omitted. We describe an Open XML architecture as proof-of-concept which addresses these concerns. Compounds are identified through explicit connection tables or links to persistent Open resources such as PubChem. It is argued that if publishers adopt these tools and protocols, then the quality and quantity of chemical information available to bioscientists will increase and the authors, publishers and readers will find the process cost-effective.
Also see the BMC press release on this article. Excerpt: 'A commentary article published today in the Open Access journal BMC Bioinformatics argues that it is time chemistry followed in the footsteps of bioinformatics and structural biology and moved towards the creation of an open semantic web facilitating access to chemical information. In the article, Peter Murray-Rust, from the University of Cambridge, UK, and John Mitchell and Henry Rzepa from Imperial College London, UK argue using three case studies that conventional methods such as cutting-and-pasting chemical information are time-consuming and introduce errors. The authors argue in favour an open XML architecture linking to connection tables or open databases such as PubChem, to identify chemical compounds mentioned in the biomedical literature. This comes as additional support for open chemical databases like the NIH's PubChem, which is currently at the centre of a legal battle between the NIH and the American Chemical Society (ACS). The ACS runs the very lucrative Chemical Abstracts Service and is directly threatened by public databases.'

Sunday, July 17, 2005

URL updates

Charles W. Bailey's Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals is now at a new location. Here's the new "about" page and here's the text itself. Please update your links and bookmarks.

More on Trojan Horse PDFs

Don Fluckinger, Are Your PDFs Spying on You? PC Magazine, June 1, 2005. (Thanks to LawLibTech via Charles Bailey.)
Thank goodness the PDFs we download and pass around don't come impregnated with some tracking technology that is generating metrics information back at the server. At least, they didn't in the past. Toronto software company Remote Approach now offers Map-Bot, a tool to track PDF traffic, much as Web sites collect IP addresses and other data from visitors. Like Adobe Policy Server, Map-Bot can force users to be connected to the Web in order to read the documents. It can track who's e-mailing PDFs to whom and what they're reading—in real time. Though other companies such as Adobe offer more expensive and elaborate tracking software, Remote Approach's tool alone has the power to spread among the masses, with its simple, low-cost (starting at $9.95 a month) subscription-based service, administered over the Web....But the potential for the technology to tarnish PDFs' image is staggering....If Remote Approach's idea takes off, competitors with less innocent designs --such as collecting e-mail addresses-- could jump in beside them. All of a sudden, some PDFs we download could come with nasty little bots attached that can generate spam. Not all of them, just enough to give us pause --sort of the way we now look at e-mail attachments with a jaundiced eye, even when they come from well-meaning friends. Too much of this stuff, and PDFs will become a lead-generation device for commercial interests, and not a viable publishing platform. In other words, they will be vulnerable to the same problems as Web pages and e-mail, and suddenly not such a great value proposition. Let's not go there.

For background, see my Trojan Horse eprints from SOAN for May 2, 2005.

URL correction

Yesterday's press release from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access contains an incorrect URL:
"ATA believes that the NIH policy's success will be measured by the number of articles deposited in PubMed Central and made accessible to the public soon after publication," said [Heather] Joseph. "ATA has consistently asked that the NIH provide statistics on the number of papers that are posted on NIH's PubMed Central repository to help gauge the policy's effectiveness. We are very pleased that both the Senate and House have requested this critical data from NIH. Moreover, we commend NIH Director Elias Zerhouni for his positive response to ATA's request to post these critical submission data on the NIH public access website." (To view this document, go to

The correct URL for the Zerhouni letter is (changing .com to .org).