Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, August 06, 2005

More on access v. security

Security Controls on Scientific Information and the Conduct of Scientific Research, a white paper from the Commission on Scientific Communication and National Security, Homeland Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 2005. (Thanks to KnowledgeSpeak.) Excerpt:
If the results of that research are published openly, they become available to all—including to those who may seek to use those results maliciously. Therefore, policies to limit the ability of terrorists to access and exploit scientific research may gain approval which have the effect of constraining participation in, and dissemination of, that research. Such limitations do not come without cost. Open communication and participation are fundamental to the conduct of high-quality research, so constraints on that openness can have serious repercussions for the quality of that research, for the health of research and educational institutions, and ultimately for the societal objectives that research and education serve: national and homeland security, economic prosperity, health, environmental protection, and quality of life. Moreover, given the global nature of the scientific and technical enterprise, unilateral national policies to control scientific and technical information may have little prospect of effectively doing so. Information controls should not be imposed unless they can be shown to be effective and worth the penalties that they impose.

More on open source biology

Drew Endy, Open Source Biology, a presentation at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, August 5, 2005. The presentation itself is not online (at least so far), but here's a short summary by Andy Oram:
On eBay you can buy equipment that let you change an organism's genome. There are many exciting (and perhaps scary) applications of this, but due to the imprudent legalization of patenting genes, many useful biological functions cannot be manipulated without permission from some discoverer. Endy also warned about the quality of the programmed organism (this is the scary part), and risks of other intellectual property claims. In several notorious cases, GE crops have turned up where they shouldn't, because nature doesn't recognize property boundaries or license agreements. But Endy also asked whether reverse engineering would be possible or legal so that users could take control over their crops. He finished by saying that the public must be brought into these discussions, as with open source software, and announced the founding of an organization with this goal.

More on the Indian Knowledge Commission and OA

Access to knowledge imperative for prosperity: Pitroda, The Hindu, August 5, 2005. Excerpt:
Knowledge Commission Chairperson Sam Pitroda, today said it was imperative to provide the masses access to knowledge if the country was to become prosperous. Delivering the 'Fourth Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture' here, he said providing access to knowledge to people in remote corners of the country should be accompanied by right to information, enhanced literacy and widened broadband connectivity for all.

Also see Pitroda pushes e-portals, education revamp, The Indian Express, August 6, 2005. Excerpt:

Father of the massive PCO network Sam Pitroda said today that it was time India revolutionised its university education and e-governance set-up. Delivering the fourth annual Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture of The Energy Research Institute (TERI), Pitroda said, access to knowledge — through broadband, internet portals and a revamp of education — are necessary before India can face globalisation....Pitroda said portals must be one-stop shops for all information, and not extensions of "The Raj philosophy" of creating barriers between rulers and people....Sam, who is credited with the plans that brought about a PCO revolution in the country in the 1990s, said Indians need to lose their fear of failure to build an "open, accessible" system. "Because we are afraid to fail here, we basically don’t move...If you don’t fail, you don’t end up creating new knowledge," he said.

New OA journal on multimedia resources in education

The Journal of Online Teaching and Learning (JOLT) is a new peer-reviewed, OA journal published by MERLOT. From the site: '[JOLT] is a peer-reviewed, online publication addressing the scholarly use of multimedia resources in education. The objectives of JOLT are to: [1] Enable faculty to use technology effectively in teaching and learning by learning from a community of researchers and scholars; [2] Enable academic programs to design and deploy academic technology to optimize teaching and learning; [3] Build a community around the research and scholarly use of multimedia educational resources.' (Thanks to Jennifer Duncan.)

OA to maps and geodata

Jo Walsh, Open Access to Geodata at the Society of Cartographers, Mapping Hacks, August 5, 2005. Excerpt:
I've been lucky enough to be asked to speak at the Society of Cartographers Summer School on September 6th....This year, they're running a half day on Public Access to Maps and Data, featuring a lot of the same people and themes as the Open Geodata Forum that we put on with the Open Knowledge Foundation in April. Roger Longhorn, who booted my understanding of geodata policy issues to a new level; Richard Fairhurst, whose geowiki project provided pioneering inspiration; the indefatigable Steve Coast from the OpenStreetmap project, providing such a viable Plan B to hold us over until we can gain free of cost, nonprofit access without supplication, to our national mapping data. Also speaking in this session is Ed Parsons, the CTO of the Ordnance Survey, the government agency turned monopoly private company that 'owns' and re-sells the UK's national mapping data.

OA for economic stability and equity

Heather Morrison, An open access model with potential to facilitate global economic stability and equity, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, August 5, 2005. Excerpt:
One of the advantages of [open access], is that there is some relationship between requirement to pay and ability to pay. That is, if a university, region or country can afford to do research, it seems reasonable to assume that some of the available funding could be used for publication. On the other hand, if a university, region, or country, is experiencing financial devastation for whatever reason - currency fluctuations, environmental catastrophe, war, or terrorist action - then there is no obligation to pay for publishing, but access remains the same. That is, if all else is lost, the collective knowledge of mankind is still readily available, making a quick rebound possible. In other words, open access via this model can act as an economic stabilizing factor, at all levels from the individual institution to the global level. Another advantage is that there will likely be a correlation between cost and ability to pay. That is, those in wealthier countries will likely pay more, reflecting higher wages / higher cost of living and doing business. Those in developing countries will pay less, reflecting lower costs in their area. There are economic benefits for the developing country; electronic academic publishing generates good jobs (technology development and support, editing, etc.). In other words, open access via this model increases equity. There is a direct relationship between cost and ability to pay.

More evidence that OA books help sell priced books

Mark J. McGarry, The end user: E-books spur sales, International Herald Tribune, August 6, 2005. (Thanks to LIS News.) Excerpt:
Some authors have concluded that the best way to make money through e-books is to give them away. Michael Palin, the former member of the Monty Python troupe who is now a famed travel writer, has six of his books online at James Randi's "Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural" just went up at Baen Books, a successful publisher of science fiction in hardcover and paperback, offers 40 titles for free download. Cory Doctorow, European affairs director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group working to protect citizens' digital rights, has just had his new novel, "Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town," published in hardcover by Tor Books for $24.95. But Doctorow has also made the novel available for free download. He gave away his first novel, too, with a half-million copies of "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" downloaded. The idea is not to give away e-books instead of selling what Doctorow calls "treeware." The aim is to generate buzz that will promote sales of hardcovers and paperbacks - either the book offered for download, or the author's other books. On his Web site, Doctorow says his writing income has doubled every year for the past five years, with "Down and Out" going through five printings in 18 months....But the immediate impact on sales is a secondary concern. And, since Doctorow's and [Charles] Stross's e-books can be freely copied, piracy is not a concern at all. "I'm a mid-list author. My biggest enemy is not piracy," Stross said, "but obscurity. Anything I can do to get my name in front of readers is an investment in the future. It's no different from making sure my book appears in every public library in the land. Authors gain little direct benefit from library lending, but library lending builds an author's profile and, ultimately, their direct sales to readers. It's marketing, pure and simple."

Three models of how the web might affect access to science

Ralph Schroeder and three co-authors, The World Wide Web of Science: Reconfiguring Access to Information, a paper presented at the Manchester conference of the National Centre for e-Social Science June 23, 2005. (Thanks to Clifford Lynch.)
Abstract: This paper presents preliminary results from a new study of how the Internet and the Web might reconfigure access to scientific information. The study combines qualitative and quantitative methods – in-depth interviews and webmetric analysis – to explore how the Internet and Web are reinforcing the role of existing sources of information, or tending to either ‘democratize’ or centralize patterns of access conforming to the expectations of a ‘winner-take-all’ process of selection. This paper reports the early findings of two case studies focused on the global issues of (1) climate change and (2) the Internet and society. The preliminary analyses provide some support for all three patterns – reinforcing, democratizing, and ‘winner-take-all’ - but also point to the need for indicators over longer periods of time and the triangulation of methods from webmetric analysis with expert groups and in-depth case studies of issue areas.

From the text: First, it is often hypothesized that the Internet will widen access to a global body of knowledge and expertise since it enables researchers to scan the world for information without increased costs....Alternatively, electronic resources might be used in ways that reinforce the prominence of the strongest centres of information and exisiting networks of communication, such as the major research centres and the scholars connected with them....A third possible outcome is captured by the concept of a ‘winner-takes-all’ effect...According to this view, some researchers with an initial advantage obtain ever greater advantages in the reputation of their research over time, such as when their students cite them, and follow their research traditions.

Friday, August 05, 2005

No sub-literates here

Karen Munro points to Open Access News as one blog that proves that not every blogger is a "self-involved sub-literate". (Thanks, Karen.)

India's new Knowledge Commission will address access issues

India's new Knowledge Commission (blogged here in June) will address dissemination and access issues. See for example Knowledge panel to synergise people’s perspectives, Financial Express, August 4, 2005. Excerpt:
The Knowledge Commission would seek to bolster the knowledge-base of the country by focussing on five areas, including access to knowledge, its chairman Sam Pitroda said on Thursday. The commission will also make proposals for the creation and application of knowledge and delivery of knowledge services. Mr Pitroda said special efforts should be made for the development of “knowledge concepts” and latest information technology tools could be used to improve access to knowledge and provide knowledge services. The eight-member commission, launched by the Prime Minister recently, will submit its first set of recommendations in October.

More spin from the Elsevier CEO

Librarians at Georgia State University have posted this excerpt from Crispin Davis' remarks at the Interim 2005 Reed Elsevier Analysts Meeting:
Open Access, is now 8 years in and their total market share remains below 1%. And all the data, the evidence, the research shows that the authors really are not very interested in having their papers published in Open Access journals. Open Archiving, the more we get into this, the more we research it, the more we talk to the scientific community, the more questionable I think the benefits become. Certainly authors have very little interest in open archiving. Less than 5% of authors are interested or are putting their peer review papers on their institutional repositories. The researchers themselves don't like it, for understandable reasons. What a researcher wants is to be able to access 6m, 8m, 10m articles by subject all cross-ref, interlinked to actual language search and individual depositories do exactly the opposite of that. So I think that open archiving increasingly is going to be challenged.

Comment. Davis is wrong on the facts.

  1. On OA journals, submissions are growing and authors who have not submitted work to them are deterred more by ignorance than opposition. According to the July 2004 Swan-Brown study of author attitudes toward OA journals, when "presented with a list of reasons why they have not chosen to publish in an OA journal and asked to say which were important...[t]he reason that scored highest (70%) was that authors were not familiar enough with OA journals in their field."
  2. On OA archiving, far more authors have archived than he thinks, and for those who haven't, there is much less opposition than ignorance. According to the May 2005 Swan-Brown study of author attitudes toward self-archiving: 'Almost half (49%) of the respondent population have self-archived at least one article during the last three years in at least one of the three possible ways — by placing a copy of an article in an institutional (or departmental) repository, in a subject-based repository, or on a personal or institutional website. More people (27%) have so far opted for the last method — putting a copy on a website — than have used institutional (20%) or subject-based (12%) repositories, though the main growth in self-archiving activity over the last year has been in these latter two more structured, systematic methods for providing open access. Use of institutional repositories for this purpose has doubled and usage has increased by almost 60% for subject-based repositories....There is still a substantial proportion of authors unaware of the possibility of providing open access to their work by self-archiving. Of the authors who have not yet self-archived any articles, 71% remain unaware of the option.'

    What would Elsevier stock analysts think if they knew the facts?

Economics of scholar-produced OA journals

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., The Economics of Free, Scholar-Produced E-Journals, DigitalKoans, August 4, 2005. Excerpt:
Let’s delimit the field a bit. We are not talking about journals produced by university presses or professional associations. Scholar-produced e-journals are generally labors of love, supported by a small group of scholars who serve without pay as editors, editorial board members, and journal production staff. They often leverage existing technical infrastructure (e.g., Web servers) at the editors’ institutions. The volume of published papers is typically fairly modest, and the papers themselves are frequently not graphically complex. Editors or other volunteers manage the peer review process (usually via electronic means) as well as copy edit and format articles....Increasingly, electronic journal management systems are used to automate editorial functions and simplify journal site creation and maintenance (a prime example is the free Open Journal Systems software). "Marketing" is often done by free electronic means: journal mailing lists, table of contents messages sent to targeted subject-related mailing lists, RSS alerts, etc. Since the content is free and electronic, there is no overhead for subscription/licensing management. Since no one gets paid, human resources functions are not needed. If authors retain copyright or content is under a Creative Commons or similar license, no permissions support is needed. Since existing facilities are used (at work or at home), there is no need to rent or purchase office space. Since no money is changing hands in any form, accounting support is unnecessary. So, what are the economics of free, scholar produced journals? The glib answer is that there are none. But, the real answer is that the costs are so low and the functions so integral to scholarship that they are easily absorbed into ongoing operational costs of universities. Even if they weren’t and scholars had to do it all on their own, server hosting solutions are so ubiquitous and cheap, free open source software is so functional and pervasive, and commercial PC software is so powerful and cheap (especially at academic discounts) that these minor costs would act as no real barrier to the production of scholar-produced e-journals.

Subsidizing OA projects in Biblical studies

Mark Goodacre, Open Source Online Biblical Studies, NT Gateway Weblog, August 5, 2005. (Thanks to Ross Scaife.) Excerpt:
So many people are already committed to the production of quality on-line [open-access] resources in our area that one might argue that the kind of thing being talked about here is already well underway, and is evolving dynamically. If the essential proposal is: how can we get a big project financed (especially AKMA)?, then there is still a large part of me that just sighs. I have felt for some time that the key to the development of exciting on-line projects in our area is the voluntary efforts of people like us. The funding comes, if you like, from two places: (1) the educational institutions that employ us and which are committed to the dissemination of our scholarship not only within their walls but also outside of them, so that our salaries here are the funding, and the time we allocate is our decision about commitment to such an important goal; (2) the self-funding provided by the gifted and enthusiastic amateurs who make such a major contribution in this area by devoting their own time.

Goodacre is responding an August 4 posting by A.K.M. Adams on the Disseminary and the prospect for OA books and journals in theology. Excerpt:

[W]ith the backing of a serious foundation (or private funder), we could get this kind of thing done in the area of theology, an area that’s particularly fitting for educational philanthropy. What we need is the time to devote to open-source scholarly productivity (yesterday I diverted hours from my workflow to track down copyright-safe images for Theology Cards) and the financial support that will motivate scholars to offer their research and written instruction outside the current print-publishing-prestige-profit complex. It can be done in our disciplines, it will be done in some areas of education. Instead of lagging woefully behind the culture, religious educators could vault ahead of other areas of educational culture (with a little redirection of funding that’ll be expended anyway). Trinity Institute, Episcopal Church Foundation, Lilly, Pew, put some oomph behind online theology and it’ll take off. I said so seven years ago, and I still say so. It would be exhilarating if, seven years from now, we could look back and not see just another missed opportunity.

More support for the Info for All Program

Thursday, August 04, 2005

More on the NIH public-access policy

Information included in an item, "First fruits of the NIH public-access policy", in issue #88 (2 August) of Peter Suber's SPARC Open Access Newsletter merits repetition here. The Author Manuscripts in PMC provides information about articles that have been submitted to PubMed Central in response to the NIH public-access policy, and have been processed and are ready to read online. On 4 August, the list of author manuscripts yielded a total of 13 such articles. When the abstract (or the full text) of any of these articles is accessed, a "Related material" drop-down menu provides links to other relevant information. See, for example, the "Related material" for the article by Mirko H. H. Schmidt and colleagues. Comment: If only about 3 percent (340/11,000) of possible research articles are being submitted to PubMed Central (see U.S. Senate Supports NIH Public Access Policy), then, of these, only about 3-4 percent (13/340) are actually available online via PMC (so far).

A strategy proposal

Sherif Masoud, Re-engineering the Open Access Movement I: Addressing What is Currently Missing, August 4, 2005. Excerpt:
Reviewing a few Internet publications on open access, I found that almost every open access (OA) advocate’s efforts are in one of two directions: analyzing, understanding, and explaining that OA is much more useful than closed access for everybody (except maybe for giant publishers) or promoting the foundation of OA serials / repositories and publishing in them. While the domination of OA serials and repositories form the end goal of the OA movement, I believe the current direction of efforts is not the best one to achieve that end goal in the fastest way possible. Re-engineering the open access movement to address what is currently missing can be very useful in expediting the domination of open access....I propose that only a certain part of the OA advocates’ efforts be directed towards supporting the extensive use of OA publications. I don’t mean a total change; I am saying that roughly two thirds of the efforts should stay in the current directions, but the rest should be in the direction of promoting the extensive use of OA publications. Amplifying the use and citations of the OA publications will result in higher awareness and impact for the OA literature. As the impact and awareness keep amplifying, the readers (users) and authors’ demand for OA literature (serials and repositories) will intensify. This increased demand will result in higher OA supply (in the form of OA journals and repositories), which is the end goal of the OA movement.

Comment. Use of OA literature will certainly help the cause. Three quick comments: (1) Scholars need more education and encouragement to provide OA than to use what is already provided. The spectacular convenience and utility of OA literature nearly sells itself. When scholars can find relevant and worthy OA literature, either they are already using it or can easily be persuaded to do so. (2) If we can increase usage even further, then I agree that we should. But the trick is to do so without suggesting that scholars should change their standards about what is relevant and worthy. Supporting OA is not about refocusing our research on projects where there is already good OA literature, but providing good OA literature on every research topic (I'm not suggesting that Masoud disagrees). (3) There is already good evidence that OA increases citation impact. This phenomenon does not need intentional enhancement as much as better publicity and wider understanding.

Business and legal obstacles to OA

Leslie A. Harmel, The Business and Legal Obstacles to the Open Access Publishing Movement for Science, Technical, and Medical Journals, Loyola Consumer Law Review, 17, 4 (2005). Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

OA repositories in Italy

Susanna Mornati, Italy update on academic institutional repositories, a presentation at the CNI-JISC-SURF conference, Making the strategic case for institutional repositories, Amsterdam, May 10-11, 2005. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)

July issue of Learned Publishing

The July issue of Learned Publishing is now online. Here are the OA-related articles. Only the TOC and abstracts are free online, and only some of the articles have abstracts.
  • Bo-Christer Björk, A lifecycle model of the scientific communication process [Update: See the OA edition.]
  • Simeon Warner, The transformation of scholarly communication
  • Li Li, Advantages of university journals in China
  • David Nicholas and three co-authors, In their very own words: authors and scholarly journal publishing
  • Martin Richardson, Post-print archives: parasite or symbiont
  • Alan Singleton, Open access and learned societies
  • Robert Marks, Open access: a new name for an old concept (a letter to the editor)

Support for the eGranary Digital Library

The University of Iowa WiderNet Project has received a $225,000 grant from the Hewlett Foundation to further develop the eGranary Digital Library (blogged here on May 18). From yesterday's press release:
"This grant will enable us to grow the eGranary Digital Library, a new way to deliver the world's knowledge to those most in need," said Cliff Missen, who oversees the eGranary Digital Library as director of the WiderNet Project. The eGranary Digital Library puts millions of documents instantly at the fingertips of scholars in developing countries without using an Internet connection. Missen said few schools in the developing world have adequate connections to the Internet, and those that do spend enormous amounts of money for slow and unreliable connections. The eGranary Digital Library overcomes this problem by storing huge amounts of information on hard drives inside a school's internal network. It contains books, websites, journals, movies and audio files from hundreds of contributing authors and publishers who freely contribute to help bridge the digital divide. "It's hard for us in the U.S. to imagine, but only one out of seven people in the world has access to the Internet," Missen said. "What we do is take educational information from the Internet and -- with the publisher's permission -- distribute these resources to schools, clinics and libraries in the developing world. We plan to grow the eGranary Digital Library collection to more than 10 million documents and install it in hundreds of schools, hospitals and universities."

Digital scholarship in the library of the future

Stefanie Olsen, The college library of tomorrow,, August 3, 2005. Excerpt:
Last December, Google started on a wildly ambitious and somewhat controversial plan to digitize the collections of some of the world's largest university and public libraries in an effort to make hard-to-find books accessible by the click of a mouse. But out of the spotlight, a number of universities are already working on bookless, digital libraries that reflect a growing understanding of how today's tech-savvy students access information. "The notion of a library as a physical collection has long ago been altered," said Michael Keller, university librarian and director of academic information resources at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. "It's now physical and virtual." Stanford librarians aren't the only academics working on the libraries of tomorrow. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California school system, the University of Michigan and University of Virginia, among others, have also been digitizing their collections, developing new technologies and creating a lasting archive of electronic material.

OA interoperability experiment for geospatial data

The Open Geospace Consortium (OGC) has launched an OA, interoperability experiment. From the press release:
The Open Geospatial Consortium Inc. (OGC) has announced that July 24, 2005 will be the kickoff date for an OGC Interoperability Experiment to support open access to atmospheric and oceanographic modeling and simulation outputs. The GALEON (Gateway or Geo-interface for Air Land Earth Ocean NetCDF) Interoperability Experiment will implement a geo-interface to netCDF datasets via the OpenGIS(R) Web Coverage Server (WCS 1.0) protocol specification. The interface will provide interoperability among netCDF, OPeNDAP, ADDE, and THREDDS client/server and catalog protocols. The initiators of the Interoperability Experiment are: Unidata/UCAR (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research), IMAA-CNR (Institute of Methodologies for Environmental Analysis of the Italian National Research Council), George Mason University, and the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Geospatial Interoperability Office. Other OGC members are encouraged to participate in or sign on as observers for this Interoperability Experiment.

(PS: Apparently GALEON has no web site yet.)

Another blogger for OA

Heather Morrison has launched a blog, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, which she says is "designed mainly to gather together some of my writings, mostly on various listservs" --including her many postings about OA. But over time I'm sure that she'll find other uses for it as well. Welcome to the blogosphere, Heather!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

On the freedom to link

The UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is seeking public comments on the freedom to link to online content. From the solicitation page: 'The DTI is seeking the views of UK business, consumers and other organisation’s on whether Article 12 to 14 of the Electronic Commerce Directive (which limits the liability of intermediary service providers where they act as mere conduits, caches or hosts of information), and which were transposed into UK law by the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002, should now be extended to providers of hyperlinks, location tool and content aggregation services.' For more detail, see the DTI consultation document on the issues. Comments are due on September 9.

Also see the position of the Association for Information Management (ASLIB): 'It is not the case that the [EU Directive 2000/31/EC] forbids hyperlinking, or that there is any proposal to forbid hyperlinking, or any licensing thereof for copyright reasons. It is the case that we do not know what is permitted, and currently that could only be decided by the courts....We believe the laws should be clarified to reduce the uncertainty, given the generally accepted importance of the web, and given that this Directive aims to encourage and develop web activity for the common good. Take the worst case scenario, that it was decided that the EU Directive on ecommerce were interpreted to mean that including links to external web sites on your web site and in your emails was in breach of copyright, and that either you couldn’t do it without permission, or you needed a licence (probably with a fee). How would that affect your service? What would be the effect on your customers and user communities? What would be the impact on our nation’s education, business, health and social activities? How would this affect the knowledge economy? It cannot be argued that this worst case scenario will definitely come about. Equally, there is no absolute guarantee that it could not, given that it would depend on court decisions....In order to support our submission, we need examples from YOU about the service you provide, the benefits to users, and how these would be affected if you could no longer include hyperlinks, or if you had to seek permission, or obtain licences to do it.'

Making databases OAI-compliant retroactively

F. Jayakanth and three co-authors, Approaches to make CDS/ISIS databases interoperable with OAI-compliant digital libraries, Program: electronic library & information systems, 39, 3 (2005). (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.) Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:
Purpose - To make CDS/ISIS databases OAI-compliant. Design/methodology/approach - One of the biggest obstacles for information dissemination to a user community is that many digital libraries or bibliographic databases use heterogeneous technologies that inhibit interoperability. The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) addresses interoperability by using a framework to facilitate the discovery of content stored in distributed archives or bibliographic databases through the use of the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). Though the OAI-PMH is becoming the de facto standard, many of the legacy databases or bibliographic systems, for various reasons, are not OAI-compliant. CDS/ISIS is one such database system. In this paper, we discuss the static repository (SR) approach to make CDS/ISIS databases OAI-compliant. The records from a CDS/ISIS database are exported onto a file and the exported records are then converted to the SR XML file format. The SR file is made OAI-compliant either by ingesting it into the Kepler Archivelet or through the intermediation of a static repository gateway (SRG). Findings - The SR is a simple approach for making bibliographic records contained in non-OAI-compliant systems, OAI-compliant. Research limitations/implications - The SR approach is meant for records, which are relatively static. If the OAI-compliance is achieved through the SRG, then the number of records contained in a SR file should not exceed 5,000. However, if the SR file is ingested into the Kepler Archivelet, then there is no restriction on the number of records contained in a SR file.

Results of the JISC Electronic Theses project

Susan Copeland, Andrew Penman, and Richard Milne, Electronic theses: the turning point, Program: electronic library & information systems, 39, 3 (2005). (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.) Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:
Purpose - To describe the key findings of the UK JISC-funded Electronic Theses project that was led by The Robert Gordon University, as well as the results of associated projects that formed part of the JISC-funded "FAIR" programme, and the way in which the recommendations will be taken forward. Design/methodology/approach - The research involved: an assessment of existing best practice relating to the production, management and use of e-theses; the use of questionnaires to obtain feedback from potential users; the identification and testing of potentially useful software; consideration of the elements required in a metadata core set, and discussions with representative bodies to ensure that the model recommended for use in the UK had support from the key stakeholders. Findings - Information is provided about the value of the NDLTD web site, the suitability of DSpace and EPrints software for institutional e-theses repositories, and the recommended infrastructure for the operation of an e-theses service at national level. Details are included about the agreed metadata core set for UK e-theses, and advice is provided about administrative, legal and cultural issues. Practical implications - The JISC-funded EThOS project is taking forward many of the recommendations from the Electronic Theses project. Originality/value - The research results described in this paper will be of use to institutions, which are aiming to establish their own e-theses collections. The details provided about the UK approach towards the management of e-theses may be of use in countries, which have not yet made their theses available in electronic format.

OA theses and dissertations at Edinburgh

Richard Jones and Theo Andrew, Open access, open source and e-theses: the development of the Edinburgh Research Archive, Program: electronic library & information systems, 39, 3 (2005).
Purpose - To examine how the synergy of open access and open source have been used at Edinburgh University Library to design and implement an e-thesis service, and to offer a comfortable theoretical framework to aid others. Design/methodology/approach - The concepts of open access and open source are introduced and compared to show the conceptual relationship between them and the natural partnering of these approaches to information freedom. The development of the open access repository (Edinburgh Research Archive, ERA) and the related open source software (Tapir for DSpace) are then examined as an opportunity for other implementers and developers to gain insight, both technical and non-technical. Findings - That open access and open source are a natural and forward looking way to develop e-theses and other research material repositories. The discussion of developing open source and the brief study of the creation of ERA show us that this approach is both warranted and useful. Research limitations/implications - It shows how institutions can leverage open source technology successfully, and further consideration must be given to this development methodology. Practical implications - Software and documentation outcomes available for the community have been produced should aid the further research in this area and provide a good starting point for institutions. Originality/value - We discuss for the first time both the theoretical aspects and the practical considerations surrounding an e-theses archive which is of value to any group of information professionals considering similar activities.

More on the PLEIADI Project

Paola Gargiulo and three co-authors, A user-centred portal for search and retrieval of open-access Italian scholarly literature: the PLEIADI project, in Proceedings Open Culture : accessing and sharing Knowledge, Milan, 2005. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)
Abstract: The PLEIADI Project (acronym for “Portale per la Letteratura scientifica Elettronica Italiana su Archivi aperti e Depositi Istituzionali”, a portal for Italian scholarly e-literature in open archives and institutional repositories) was born within the framework of a collaboration between two major Italian university consortia, CASPUR and CILEA, as part of a project called AEPIC ( PLEIADI’s goal is to promote national awareness in the Open Access scenario and provide centralized access for scholarly literature archived in Italian institutional repositories (or “data providers” in the OAI - Open Archives Initiative architecture). PLEIADI also aims at providing end users (mainly the academic and research community) with a personalized environment, user profiling, an area to save searches and articles, e-mail alerts. The portal enhances users’ awareness on Open Access issues through several information services (news, RSS, forum), and promotes self-archiving of scholarly articles in institutional repositories. The service, available at the URL, was launched in November 2004, during a national event held in Messina, which marked the “official starting point” for the Open Access movement in the Italian academic community.

Sharon Terry's experience

Sharon Terry, In the public interest: Open access, College & Research Libraries News, July/August, 2005. Excerpt:
My children have a genetic disease. It is rare, not well understood, and there is no treatment or cure. However, the most disturbing obstacle we face is the wall around published scientific research. Information critical to health and biomedical research is held hostage by questionable and arcane publishing practices. It is time for publishers, both private and academic, to redesign their business models in response to a new age of information sharing and a stronger sense of the scientific commons....Information is a powerful raw material, but the work of improving health through biomedical research is made more difficult because of current barriers to information. These barriers shocked my husband and me as we began to make sense out of our children’s disease....We spent hours copying articles from bound journals. But fees gate the research libraries of private medical schools. These fees became too costly for us to manage....We learned that by volunteering at a hospital associated with a research library, we could enter the library for free. After several months of this, policies changed and we resorted to masking our outdated volunteer badge and following a legitimate student (who would distract the guard) into the library....Although the United States wisely invests billions of dollars in biomedical research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), we discovered that the results are locked up in very costly annual journal subscriptions and institutional licenses that can cost thousands of dollars for a single journal, or made scarce by use-limiting, per-article charges that can run as much as $30 to read a single study....If families are effectively barred from having access to these articles, what of the effect on researchers and clinicians with limited budgets striving to make new discoveries? Or on educators sharpening the skills of the next generation of medical practitioners? We learned that these fees were a burden to libraries, and that only the largest schools could afford the full complement of journals. We also learned that other clinicians --social workers, physical and occupational therapists, genetic counselors-- don’t usually have access either. Our experience forces us to ask the hard question: Who really owns the NIH biomedical research we fund with our tax dollars?...New notions of cooperation, collaboration, transparency, and access are now challenging the status quo. It is now time to unlock this science and make it more accessible to all of us. Fortunately, change is in the works. NIH Director Elias Zerhouni confirmed some months ago that the “status quo is unacceptable.” In fact, under his direction and endorsed by the U.S. House of Representatives, NIH has implemented a cost-effective and balanced policy that, for the first time, will make virtually all NIH-funded research free and accessible online to all Americans....Ultimately we would like all government agencies to require that published papers resulting from publicly funded research be deposited in PubMed Central, or similar repositories, with no embargo. I recommend that these articles be the final edited versions, with links to the journals on the publishers’ sites....Public access to literature is critical. It is the bedrock of our system and the catalyst for science to build on science. Scholars and educators will find riches of new data and studies to use in classrooms; researchers across disciplines will have new opportunities for collaboration as they scan this treasure of publicly funded knowledge; and the work of all authors will be used and cited more frequently, enhancing their reputation and contribution to their field. For the rest of us, living on the promise and inestimable value of publicly funded science, we will have access to the information we need to educate our doctors and to help the research community make connections as the basis for translating basic research into treatment and cures. We have no time to lose: we need public access to government-funded science now.

In defense of scholarly blogging

Alex Halavais, Why not more scholarly bloggers? A Thaumaturgical Compendium, August 2, 2005. Excerpt:
Yes, blogging is a natural fit for the academic, the teacher, and the researcher, but somehow those who blog seem to miss the fact that it is threatening to those who are established in academia, to financial interests, and to… well to decorum....Sure the decision isn’t that black-and-white. You don’t give up other scholarly pursuits completely to go “all in” on blogging (or, at least, most don’t). But the truth is, rather than writing this entry, I could be working on a half-dozen other projects that would actually show up on a vita. The direct payout is not at all clear. Yes, there is the social networking aspect. And it is true that I have met people through this blog that have been really cool to meet, and who have helped my career. But I deeply suspect that the ROI is just not here....I have a feeling that blogging is much better for me as a scholar than it is as an academic. That is to say, some of the people I have met and discussions I have had through the blog have really made me understand the world a bit better, and I hope that some of the things I have written here have helped others learn more about their own world, if only in a small way. None of these things are really related to my standing in the profession, or whether I have any chance of making tenure somewhere, they are instead more closely tied to why I became a professor in the first place: to profess....[A]s I have written in the past, I am a true believer in social computing, and blogging in particular. I’m not sure quite the direction it will take or how it will affect information professionals, but I think the impact will be slow (by internet standards) and profound. The kinds of things we have been talking about for years – open access to scholarly product, individualized education, learning communities will happen. Not today, and not next year, but gradually and profoundly....I think what needs to be stressed is that blogging is another tool in the arsenal of a good academic. Email and listserves don’t get you tenure either, but no one says “I don’t have time for email.” (OK, everyone says that, but everyone still uses it.)

Comparing Google Scholar and Scirus

Greg Notess, Scholarly Web Searching: Google Scholar and Scirus, Online, August 3, 2005. Excerpt:
Despite all the limitations and problems, both offer some unique reasons to use them beyond just watching their future development. For a quick, broad, multidisciplinary search on a very narrow, specific topic, either Scholar or Scirus can give a good start. For citation verification, both can help find erroneous as well as correct citation information. The Cited By links at Google Scholar can be a useful adjunct to the more comprehensive citation tracking from citation indexes via ISI’s Web of Science (or can function as a partial replacement for those without access). At this point, my main use of both is for finding free Web versions of otherwise inaccessible published articles. I found a number of full-text articles via Google Scholar that are PDFs downloaded from a publisher site and then posted on another site, free to all. Both Scirus and Scholar were also useful for finding author-hosted article copies, preprints, e-prints, and other permutations of the same article.

More on the BBC Creative Archive

Paul Gerhardt, Creative Archive, Ariadne, July 2005.
Last April the BBC, together with Channel 4 Television, the British Film Institute and the Open University, launched the Creative Archive Licence. It was a small act, but it could prove to be a momentous step in how we use moving image and audio in our public and cultural life....The Creative Archive will offer free access to BBC content for learning, for creativity and for pleasure. From home, the public will be able to: [1] search for legally cleared TV and radio content - from extracts to whole programmes, [2] preview and download non-broadcast quality versions, [3] modify and create their own versions, [4] share with others - and with the BBC - on a non-commercial basis.

The Ohio eBook Project

The state of Ohio has launched the Ohio eBook Project. Anyone with a library card can download free reader software and borrow free ebooks. (PS: If the need for a library card counts as an access barrier, then its one of the lowest barriers around.)

Public domain information in Russia

UNESCO has released a summary of a recent conference on governmental public domain information in Russia. Excerpt:
The issue of access to governmental public domain Information was discussed by some 150 experts at a conference in Smolensk (Russia) in late June 2005 organized under the auspices of UNESCO's Information for All Programme....The main item on the agenda was the discussion of UNESCO's Policy Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Governmental Public Domain Information, and the Declaration on Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the Information Society....The experts - policymakers, legal experts, education, science, culture and ICT professionals, civil society and business representatives from Russia and CIS countries – also discussed the outcomes of the session on "Universal Access to Public Domain Information" of the international conference "UNESCO Between two Phases of the World Summit on the Information Society" that took place in St. Petersburg earlier this year....Selena Semushkina, Federal Agency for Information Technologies, said: "It is really important that state bodies, businesses and public organizations jointly endorse a new approach to access to information". She stressed the educational potential of online information and its potentially long-run impact on economics, science and culture of Russia.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Public access and privacy usually compatible

Public access to documents and data protection, European Data Protection Supervisor, July 2005. Excerpt:
This paper is on the relationship between public access to documents on the one hand and privacy, integrity and data protection on the other hand. It reflects the opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) on this matter. Public access to documents as well as privacy, integrity and data protection have been recognized as fundamental rights. Citizens of the European Union, nationals of third countries residing on the territory of a Member State and, in some cases, other nationals of third countries, are entitled to enjoy both rights....One should keep in mind that there is no hierarchical order between the two rights. Most often, as has been shown in statistics regarding the implementation of the public access regulation, there is no tension between the rights, even not in situations when both rights can be invoked at the same time. However, in some cases the rights may collide, as the objective of the rules on public access is to foster access to all documents under the jurisdiction of the EU-institutions and bodies, whereas the data protection regulation must guarantee the protection of personal data....The aim of this paper is threefold. Firstly, it is to show that public access to documents and data protection shall not be seen as contrary, but complementary, to each other. Secondly, it is to identify areas of tension. Thirdly, it is to promote good practice within the institutions and bodies of the EU.

Profile of Gallica

Natalie Pigeard-Micault, Science and the History of Science on Gallica, High Energy Physics Libraries Webzine, August 2005.
Abstract: Gallica is a project of the Bibliothèque nationale de France which aims to digitize classic, French books that are no longer in copyright. The texts are available through a Web gateway. Usage of the mathematics and physics collection is analysed. A partnership with the MathDoc team exists which benefits both systems. In future, it is hoped that Gallica data can be offered to other libraries via the OAI protocol, and in turn, that Gallica can grow by harvesting from other digitized sources.

(PS: Gallica preexisted Google, but has been turned into the French response to the Google Library project.)

Profile of the E-LIS repository

Antonella De Robbio and Imma Subirats Coll, E-LIS : an International Open Archive Towards Building Open Digital Libraries, High Energy Physics Libraries Webzine, August 2005.
Abstract: Established in 2003, E-LIS is an international open access archive related to librarianship, information science and technology, and related disciplines. It uses the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) protocol and tools to facilitate interoperability between repository servers. To date E-LIS is the biggest repository in library and information science and after only two years contains over 2200 papers. E-LIS is the first international e-server in this area, is part of the RCLIS (Research in Computing, Library and Information Science) project and is organised, managed and maintained by an international team of librarians working on a voluntary basis. This paper describes the main characteristics (technical and organizational) of the archive and its configuration and customization, and discusses its policies, aims and mission. Its main focus, however, is on the E-LIS organizational model and on the strategic issues correlated with Open Access (OA). It also delineates some of the challenges and opportunities consequent on a global vision for the Library and Information Science (LIS) field which envisages papers coming from all over the world and which gives E-LIS the impetus and motivation to stimulate participation in the venture and to further develop international research activities. Finally, this paper also emphasises that the promotion of E-LIS further enhances the OA movement in general, so E-LIS can be regarded as a tool for the dissemination of the OA philosophy.

August issue of SOAN

I just mailed the August issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue takes a close look at the first articles to be released online as a result of the NIH public-access policy and the signs that both houses of Congress want to see results from the policy. The Top Stories section takes a brief look at the release of Celera Genomics data into the public domain, the new publishing guides from OSI and SPARC, two new OA journals from PLoS, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft study of author attitudes toward OA, and the continuing news and comment on the RCUK draft OA policy.

Guide to medical searching

Mohammad Al-Ubaydli, Using Search Engines to Find Online Medical Information, PLoS Medicine, September 2005.

Forthcoming OA journal on botany

Karen Shideler, Local nonprofit to start online science journal, Wichita Eagle, July 29, 2005. Excerpt:
The Journal of Grassroots and Science will make its premiere sometime in the next month. Unlike most journals, it will be free to anyone who wants to read it. It will be published online. The journal is being created under the auspices of Trees for Life, a Wichita nonprofit group founded in 1984 by businessman Balbir Mathur. He said drafts of articles for the first issue were shown last week to the journal's advisers, including Jed Fahey, a scientist from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Fahey's work has included developing cruciferous plants, such as broccoli sprouts, as chemoprotective agents. Doren Fredrickson, a physician who specializes in preventive medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, will be the journal's editor. Jeffrey Faus, of Trees for Life, will be managing editor...."We expect to make it absolutely free of cost to everyone around the world," he said. "This is to create a platform between the common person and the person at the top of the ivory tower."

(PS: There's no information about the journal yet at the Trees For Life web site.)

Blogs and RSS to spread the word about OA articles

Dave Hook, Why blogs & RSS feeds will help drive open-access journal publishing, The Industrial Librarian, August 1, 2005. Excerpt:
Here’s my prediction. The increasing popularity of blogs and RSS feeds will drive an increase in open-access professional journal publishing and will force many traditional, print-based publishers to consider offering at least some form of electronic distribution. The that the online open-access model can reach a wider audience at a faster rate than traditional print publishing can – and blogs and RSS feeds enable this to happen even more.

German intro to OA

Ina Zwerger, Open Access: Initiativen für freien Informationszugang, OE1 WebRadio, August 1, 2005. Transcript of a radio broadcast introducing OA to German and Austrian listeners. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

New wiki resource for classics

The Wiki Classical Dictionary is a new (since April 4) OA, user-revisable encyclopedia of Greek and Roman history, literature, mythology, art, and archaeology. (Thanks to Ross Scaife.)

More on the Connexions Project

The National Council of Professors of Educational Administration (NCPEA) has chosen the open-access Connexion Project "to develop and house a comprehensive set of writings and up-to-date information that its members can use to develop courses." From yesterday's press release:
Connexions use of Creative Commons copyright licenses means that any educator in the world will be able to use or modify the materials to create their own individualized courses. "Our discipline has talked about creating this kind of thing for almost 50 years, but we've never really had the means to make it work," said Ted Creighton, executive director of NCPEA. "Books are too expensive. There's no way to include everything or to keep them current, and members can't afford them anyway. "With the Connexions model, any member will be able to submit their writings to the knowledgebase, subject them to peer review, and any other member will be able to tap into that knowledge for free, or to build upon it," he said....Connexions provides free software that allows anyone to publish to the repository under a Creative Commons open license. The license allows anyone else, be they a student or faculty member, to re-use, revise and recombine the modules. This feature gives people the option of creating customized courses, custom textbooks and personalized study guides.

Monday, August 01, 2005

New SPARC guide for journals seeking sponsors

SPARC has announced a new publishing guide, Sponsorships for Nonprofit Scholarly & Scientific Journals: A Guide to Defining & Negotiating Successful Sponsorships. From the announcement:
This new guide, available free on the web [here], helps nonprofit publishers evaluate the viability of implementing a corporate sponsorship program and describes ways to develop a sponsorship program as a component of the journal’s income stream. The SPARC Guide defines a sponsorship as a relationship between a journal and a provider of funds, resources, or services, in return for which the journal offers rights and associations that may be used for the sponsor’s advantage. Under this definition, the notion of sponsorship goes beyond advertising or philanthropy. For a journal, a sponsorship can help advance the journal’s mission by enhancing revenue and allowing the publisher a wider range of opportunities to serve readers. In return, as part of a well-conceived marketing strategy, such a sponsorship allows a corporate marketing partner to communicate more effectively with its target market. The SPARC Guide explicitly recognizes that sponsorships will provide a more suitable business model for some journals than for others, and describes how a publisher can determine whether a sponsorship program makes sense for any given journal. Additionally, sponsorships will frequently complement other income-generating models....“SPARC’s new guide recognizes the reality that corporate sponsorships of nonprofit journals can be mutually beneficial,” said SPARC Director Heather Joseph. “Many publishers are searching for new revenue streams which can in turn allow them to better serve their audience, and sponsorships offer a mechanism to increase their range of options without compromising their editorial mission. A strong match of journal and sponsor can allow sponsors to benefit from association with the journal’s reputation, and from the perception by its readers that the sponsor is providing a societal benefit.”

Update. At the time of the announcement, the guide was not at the announced URL but it's there now. Here is the direct link.

Another journal embargoes public access through PMC

Toxicological Sciences Public Access Policy, June 2005. An unsigned editorial or announcement. Excerpt:
Presently, Toxicological Sciences grants free public access to all articles published in the journal 12 months after printed publication. We understand that authors will want to comply voluntarily with the NIH policy, and therefore, we will grant permission to all authors to deposit their accepted manuscripts in PubMed Central. For compliance with public access guidelines, authors are permitted to transmit their manuscripts to PubMed Central after receipt of the URL providing online access to the final version of the accepted paper. Upon submission, authors will specify when their final manuscript will be publicly accessible through PubMed Central. For consistency with current policies of Toxicological Sciences that grant free public access to all articles published in the journal 12 months after printed publication, authors should indicate that the paper will be publicly accessible after 12 months.

(PS: For more on the pattern of journals asking their NIH-funded authors to request embargoes, even though the NIH "strongly encourages" public access "immediately upon publication", see my articles in the June and July issues of SOAN.)

Another TA article on OA

C. I. Civin and three co-authors, Open access, rapid publishing: no longer a thing of the future, Stem Cells, April 2005. Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

64 Italian universities sign the Berlin Declaration

Last November, I noted that the rectors of 32 Italian universities had signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge. The signatures resulted from the Messina OA conference on November 4-5, 2004. Now it appears that many more than 32 Messina participants planned to sign the declaration but met with various kinds of delay. Now the universities and the declaration site are in synch, and an astounding 64 Italian universities have formally signed, twice the original number. (Thanks to Georg Botz.)

(PS: Kudos to all involved. More Italian universities have now signed the declaration than organizations of any kind from any country.)

More on low compliance with the NIH request

Constance Holden, NIH's Public Access Trickle, Science Magazine, July 29, 2005.
Last year, a huge scuffle broke out over a National Institutes of Health (NIH) plan to ask grantees to submit their accepted papers to a free archive. Open-access advocates hailed the move,whereas journals said they would be bankrupted (Science, 3 September 2004, p. 1386). But 2 months after the policy went into effect, most researchers seem to be ignoring it. As of 2 July, NIH’s PubMed Central had received only about 300 papers, a mere 3% of the 11,000 expected if all NIH grantees complied.Two-thirds of authors said NIH could post their paper immediately upon publication, and the rest asked for a delay. Timothy Hays of NIH’s extramural research office says the figure is “not surprising” because many grantees are waiting for their institutions to tell them how to respond to the new policy and for guidance from journals. But Sharon F.Terry, president of the Genetic Alliance, says it may be time for NIH to rethink things. “If we were … investing in a new business, and we saw early performance returns at the rate of 3%,we would not wait to reexamine our strategy,” she says.

Paying book authors for library loans

John Burns, Authors to get a little extra from library loans, Times Online, July 31, 2005. (Thanks to LIS News.) Excerpt:
The cheque will soon be in the post for Irish authors: they are to be paid a royalty every time one of their books is borrowed from a public library. Under pressure from the European commission, the government [of Ireland] will this week announce the creation of a public lending right (PLR) which should mean a financial windfall for writers from next year....“The precise details of the PLR scheme will be worked out by the department of the environment, and the size of the payment to authors has yet to be decided,” said an official. “It depends on how much money is put into the kitty.” Officials say the PLR will not be funded out of the existing library budget but from additional money provided by the exchequer. There were 13.3m book loans from public libraries in 2003, so if the government put €3m into the PLR kitty each year, it would mean a payment of about 4.5c per loan per author. In Britain, authors are paid 5.26p. Several aspects of the British scheme are likely to be copied in Ireland — such as the maximum payment to authors (£6,000 or about €8,700), and the need for writers to register in order to avail of PLR. There is also likely to be a minimum threshold, such as 100 loans or €5, before a royalty payment is processed....Academic libraries will be exempt from the scheme. EU authors will also be eligible for royalty payments. When the EU directive was first introduced in 1992, Ireland availed of an opt-out for seven years. It then introduced a copyright act in 2000 which recognised PLR, but exempted every public library from it on the basis that the cost of collection was too high relative to the benefit to authors. The European commission was so unhappy that it began proceedings against Ireland in the European Court of Justice.

Comment. I'm new to this practice --probably like most Americans-- even though it seems to have been around for a while in the UK. So let me think out loud for a moment. Libraries may still loan books without charge to patrons, and patrons still have this form of free access. But to compensate authors for "lost" royalties, taxpayers pay into a fund to be divided among authors in proportion to the number of times their books are borrowed from public libraries. This is wonderful for authors, especially if it reduces the pressure from author organizations (long-standing but low-heat) to curb free library lending. But why should taxpayers foot the bill when most of them would not buy or borrow the books by compensated authors? There is no public interest in enriching book authors, although there might be a public interest in supporting a form of free access for citizens who cannot afford to buy books. I'm not ready to judge the idea. I just want to point out that any country willing to back such a scheme should be even more willing to require open access to publicly-funded research. There is a public interest in funding the research in the first place and a public interest in footing the much smaller additional cost of disseminating it without charge to all who can make use of it. The alternative is to put a price barrier on access to publicly-funded research, undermining the original public investment. Moreover, in this case the authors voluntarily relinquish payment.

OAI for digital museum content

Klaus Bulle has written a one-page piece (in German) on using the OAI-PMH in museums . (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

More at PubChem

PubChem has added a help page, a download facility, and structures from the ChemExper Chemical Directory.

Another sign of an emerging Chinese OA policy

From a UNESCO press release dated today:
China’s Ministry of Science and Technology will contribute US$20.000 to UNESCO’s Information for All Programme, declared last week the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (ISTIC). Announcing the contribution ISTIC Director Zou Dating said "UNESCO's Information for All Programme is an important initiative to improve people's life by access to information and knowledge. We are pleased to help IFAP by our contribution."

Repository submissions for testing purposes

The HyperJournal Autonomous Citation Indexing (HJACI) project is calling for submissions to its OA repository.

Excerpt from the call for submissions: 'The repository is a document collection that will serve for statistical and testing purposes. We need people to make this repository grow, by adding and classifying any kind of academic papers, written in any language and coming from many research areas (both sciences and humanities). The documents will be used only for testing purposes. If you want to contribute, please submit papers to the repository or help us categorizing existent material.'

Excerpt from the HJACI page: 'HJACI (HyperJournal Autonomous Citation Indexing) is a branch of the HyperJournal project, aiming at adding citation extraction and citation matching capabilities to the main program. To find information about HJACI, you can read more on the project page on the HyperJournal web site. We are building a repository to gather statistics about documents collected from the Internet. Data from these documents will serve to improve the algorithms and to test their effectiveness. The idea is that the repository should be public, so people interested in helping us can submit new documents and help us categorize them. Authors of scientific papers can upload their preprints and help us to make the repository grow. Currently the repository handles only documents in PDF format.'

Science Publishing Working Group welcomes new members

Helene Bosc, Convenor of the Science Publishing Working Group for Euroscience, has issued a call for additional learned societies to join the working group. From her message: 'The goal of our working group is to help in finding answers to some of the numerous questions raised by the evolution of scientific communication by internet and which are confronted by scientists. Some of these questions have been discussed during the ESOF 2004 symposium held at Stockholm and as announced, the ESOF 2006 symposium will be a follow up....Two representatives of learned societies have joined us. However our small team would welcome additional members. It seems essential that scientists, totally involved in laboratory activities, could express their opinion. If you are interested in discussing these issues (essentially by e-mail) we would be pleased to have you join us.'

New issue of APSR newsletter

The July issue of Sustaining Repositories (the newsletter of the APSR) is now online. This issue contains a summary of the APSR June colloquium, the APSR recommendations to the e-Research Strategic Framework Committee on the role of repositories in e-research, the APSR funding priorities for next year, and news from the partners, including DSpace-in-a-box, a simplified installation system for DSpace, and the University of Queensland's forthcoming open-source workflow management system for Fedora.

More on shrink-wrap licenses for print books

G.M. Filisko, Shrink-Wrap Contracts ‘booked’, ABA Journal, July 29, 2005. (Thanks to an anonymous poster to LibLicense.) Excerpt:
Shrink-wrap agreements, which assert that a customer has entered a contract just by opening a product’s wrapping, have surfaced on reference books sent to libraries, lawyers and doctors, but it’s unclear whether the agreements are always enforceable --or what’s next in the land of shrink-wrap licensing. The Maryland State Bar Association is using a shrink-wrap agreement to limit use of its member directory. It states the MSBA will license the contents of the directory to members only if they accept all of the terms in the agreement. Among the terms is a requirement that the directory’s contents "may not, in whole or in part, be reproduced, copied, disseminated … except for the user’s individual, personal and confidential reference."...Librarian Paul Deane from Arlington Heights, Ill., says he’s seen shrink-wrap agreements on at least five books in the past four months, one a directory of medical practitioners, the others reference books. "Basically, they say that if you open the shrink-wrap, you’re agreeing to the publisher’s licensing agreement. The thing that gets me," Deane says, "is there’s no information about the licensing agreement."...Jorge L. Contreras, who specializes in Internet, e-commerce, and new media law in Washington, D.C., also has doubts about the enforceability of such agreements. The most obvious, he says, is that "in cases where the license agreement isn’t attached, it would be difficult to enforce." Contreras also notes the difference between software and books. "On one hand," he says, "there’s a pure contract law issue. You can agree to do whatever you want within the bounds of the law. If a license says that if you rip open the shrink-wrap and read the book, you’ll be bound by certain terms as a contractual matter, the license could be enforceable." On the other hand, Contreras says, the underlying justification for shrink-wrap licenses in software --protecting the publisher from repeated and illegal copying of the data on the physical CD or disk-- is much less applicable for books...."The whole idea of putting a licensing agreement on a book is probably to limit fair use of books," [Henry] Gabriel [professor of commercial law at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law] says. That probably won’t succeed, Contreras says. "If the license agreement says you can read the book but can’t make fun of it, or you can’t excerpt even a small portion even for educational purposes, it would violate the fair-use doctrine," Contreras says. According to Contreras, the MSBA's agreement prohibits copying, and "it’s not entirely clear whether such a contractual prohibition would trump the fair use doctrine." He adds, "It's very possible the contractual prohibition would not be enforceable to prevent a fair use."

Comment. The last time this came up, I blogged Ed Foster's excellent column from August 2002. It's worth another read. Also see Bowers v. Baystate Technologies (August 20, 2002, affirmed in relevant part January 29, 2003). In Baystate, the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that when a shrink-wrap license (for software) and the federal copyright statute conflict, then the licence takes precedence. Baystate will be cited in any future case on whether shrink-wrap licenses preempt fair-use rights or vice versa. Here's what I wrote about the case at the time: 'Librarians know well that licensing terms often negate fair-use and other rights granted by the copyright statute. There have been two windows of hope for challenging such licensing terms: federal preemption of state contract law, and the general invalidation of shrink-wrap licenses as contracts of adhesion imposed on parties with essentially no bargaining. This case closes both windows, though only the first of the two issues seems to have been fully litigated here.'

Peter Weiss, 1950-2005

Aliya Sternstein, Remembering Peter Weiss, Federal Computer Week, August 1, 2005. Excerpt:
The information policy community lost an international force and a guardian of open access last week when Peter Weiss passed away unexpectedly. He was 54. [Photo.] Weiss was the principal author of Office of Management and Budget [OMB] Circular A-130, the protocol that governs how federal agencies use information. Weiss' most recent career accomplishment came to fruition last winter. As a policy analyst at the National Weather Service (NWS), he outlined the scope of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's policy on providing unrestricted, open-format weather data to the public. The policy, adopted in December 2004, reversed the long-standing practice of offering weather information in proprietary formats to a limited number of companies for resale....Bruce McConnell, former chief of information policy and technology at OMB, had been a friend since Weiss joined OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in 1991. "His area of specialty was disseminating government information at [the lowest] cost ... not trying to turn it into a fundraising effort," McConnell said. "He controlled the typewriter" on A-130, McConnell said, adding that the move to NWS in 2000 allowed Weiss to champion information access globally. His devotion to freely available weather information saved lives, McConnell said. As an expert in information policy and law, Weiss advised governments worldwide on the economics of government information policy. For example, he flew to Russia and China to discuss open access with officials in those countries. At OMB, Weiss had an assertiveness rarely seen in the reserved agency, his former supervisor recalls. Rob Veeder, since retired, hired Weiss to work in OIRA's information technology branch. "At the time, we were encouraging agencies to provide information to the public, outside the context of the Freedom of Information Act," he said. "Peter was a pusher." Weiss' most recent boss said Weiss had not lost any of that initial energy. "He was an enthusiastic and effective advocate for open and unrestricted access to government information — not just for NOAA, but for the world," said Edward Johnson, director of strategic planning and policy at NWS.

(PS: Peter Weiss' most recent work on open access seems to be this: Yvette Pluijmers and Peter Weiss, Borders in Cyberspace: Conflicting Government Information Policies and their Economic Impacts, a preprint or discussion draft, April 28, 2005. Here's the description from my blog posting in April: 'A detailed (81 pp.) analysis of OA to public-sector information, including publicly-funded scientific data, covering the benefits of OA, the arguments for cost-recovery, the (now hot) issue of government competition with the private sector, and case studies from the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, and Finland.')

Sunday, July 31, 2005

More on open-source knowledge

Shankar Iyer, Tearing down those knowledge walls, The Financial Express, July 31, 2005. Excerpt:
Knowledge is open source. It cannot be curtailed and has to be freely available....Ayurveda is another example of the success of open source. All across the world, millions of documents have been written on the subject of Ayurveda, allowing people to benefit from the secrets of natural healing. Thousands of practitioners today have mastered the knowledge of Ayurveda, benefiting from the unlimited resources available in the open world....In stark contrast to Ayurveda, we have a closely guarded industry formed around life saving drugs today. The composition of these drugs is never disclosed and their labs follow strict codes of secrecy like military facilities. This means that a certain set of people are making billions of dollars at the expense of our community....The big question on everyone's mind is, "Why would someone open source an idea that they obviously struggled to work so hard for?" [O]pen sourcing your innovation to the community doesn't imply bankruptcy. In fact, open sourcing an idea invites "immediate" attention and sparks community interest. And when this interest reaches the brim, the services and support opportunities that exist around that knowledge just explode, allowing the innovator to not just make money - but give birth to a whole new economy. Take Accountancy or Law for example. These two represent different streams of knowledge, both of which are in the open source realm. Even though this knowledge is freely available to anyone and everyone, businesses and professionals still continue to thrive on it. You prefer to hire the services of a lawyer or a Chartered Accountant because you value their services. That's the beauty of open source. Knowledge that is essential to the community should be free, but the services that surround it should be commercial in nature to allow business interests to thrive. I am of the firm belief that money should never be made at the expense of restricting knowledge and innovation. Money can always be made by forming a services driven model around your knowledge....Many community driven entities today, like the extremely active Science Commons, are working towards creating an open, accessible commons for knowledge. With India rapidly absorbing the principles of open source, it is only a matter of time that these "knowledge walls" will be broken. And when they all come crashing down, we shall witness a revolutionary intellectual movement, a rapid fire spread of innovation that will put India on the global map forever.

More on the NIH, Wellcome, and RCUK policies

Michael Seringhaus, Open access revisited, The New Criterion, Summer 2005. Excerpt:
Debate continues to rage over an issue originally visited here last summer: free access to taxpayer-funded scientific research. Despite several high-profile policy announcements by government and funding agencies in the United States and Britain during the past year, little change has occurred, and concern continues to simmer....These three new policy statements [from NIH, the Wellcome Trust, and the RCUK] are a double-edged sword: while they encourage debate and spur some marginal progress towards open access, they also imply [to some] that government has adequately and fully addressed the issue of free access to scientific literature. Few supporters of open access would agree. The open-access movement enjoys significant support among scientists, whose main incentive has always been to broaden the impact of their work. Still, any suggestion of free access will necessarily anger profiteering publishers: proponents acknowledge that under most open-access plans, profits will indeed be affected. Society must weigh this potential loss against the greater benefit of broad public access to taxpayer-funded research. Last summer, the Association of American Publishers' Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division called the NIH draft policy a "clear instance of government interference with the interests of free enterprise." An optimistic claim indeed, given that publishers receive their two most valuable assets --publishable material, and the expertise of peer reviewers-- absolutely free of charge before turning around and selling that research back to those who produced it. They have turned this process into an $8 billion industry, which seems a lot like free enterprise interfering with public research.