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In the August 27 issue of the Times Higher Education Supplement, Stephen Pinfield and Paul Ayris have a letter to the editor responding to Rene Olivieri's article of August 19, Making a pig's ear of an unscientific free-for-all. Excerpt:
It is ironic that Rene Olivieri's criticism of supporters of open access...often lapsed into the polemical when this was a label he was trying to pin on his opponents. Despite his calls for the current debate to be more scientific, he omitted to mention many of the relevant facts. In particular, he failed to acknowledge the anomalies of the current system of research publishing. Universities generate research papers, give them away free of charge to publishers and then buy them back at high prices. Researchers give away their services as authors, referees and editorial board members all free of charge and yet their institutions have to buy back the value they have added. Prices are high because (as the Office of Fair Trading has observed) price competition does not properly operate in the academic periodicals market. This means institutions cannot afford to purchase all of the periodicals they would like and so researchers do not have easy access to all of the literature they need. Furthermore, society cannot get access to research funded by public money. Researchers want their work to be read and cited, and yet the impact their work can make is being limited. The rise of the web, which makes wide distribution of content quick and easy, is making the system – which was developed a paper-based world – look anachronistic. Open access has the potential to overcome many of these problems. It is not just an interesting theory. There are a number of working examples, ranging from institutional databases of research papers to new peer-reviewed journals. Many mainstream publishers are themselves experimenting with open access models and funding bodies are investing in experiments and studies to see what the future holds. Increasingly, research funders and governments are coming to see the benefits. Better communication means better science. Widening access will benefit the scientific community but will also bring benefits to health care, knowledge transfer and the public understanding of science. Empirical evidence of these benefits is beginning to emerge. Further work should be encouraged for the benefit of the academic community and society in general. Rather than try to turn back the oncoming tide, publishers such as Mr Olivieri would be better advised to ride the wave.
Stephen Pinfield is the Deputy Chief Information Officer and Director of Research and Learning Resources at the University of Nottingham. Paul Ayris is the Director of Library Services and Copyright Officer at University College London.
Charles W. Bailey, Jr., The E-Print Deposit Conundrum, DigitalKoans, August 25, 2005. Excerpt:
First, as is often said, scholars care about the impact of their work, and it is likely that, if scholars could easily see detailed use statistics for their works (e.g., number of requests and domain breakdowns), they might be more inclined to deposit items if those statistics exceed their expectations. So, the challenge here is to incorporate this capability into commonly used archiving software programs if it is absent. Second, scholars are unlikely to stumble when entering bibliographic data about their works (although it might not be quite as fully descriptive as purists might like), but entering subject keywords is another matter. Sure they know what the work is about, but are they using terms that others would use and that group their work with similar works in retrieval results? Yes, a controlled vocabulary would help, although such vocabularies have their own challenges. But, I wonder if user-generated "tags," such as those used in Technorati, might be another approach. The trick here is to make the tags and the frequency of their use visible to both authors and searchers. For authors, this helps them put their works where they will be found. For searchers, it helps them find the works. Third, it might be helpful if an author could fill out a bibliographic template for a work once and, with a single keystroke, submit it to multiple designated digital archives and repositories. So, for example, a library author might choose to submit a work to his or her institutional repository, DLIST, and E-LIS all at once. Of course, this would require a minimal level of standardization of template information between systems and the development of appropriate import capabilities. Some will say: "why bother?" True, OAI-PMH harvesting should, in theory, make duplicate deposit unnecessary given OAIster-like systems. But "lots of copies keep stuff safe," and users still take a single-archive searching approach in spite of OAI-PMH systems.
Velterop to Lead Springer’s Open Access Effort, Library Journal, August 26, 2005. Excerpt:
Jan Velterop, who resigned in April as publishing director of pioneering open access publisher BioMed Central, has been appointed to the newly created position of director of open access at Springer, the second-largest STM publisher. The move comes just a little over a year after Springer launched “Springer Open Choice,” offering its twist on the open access model—an “author pays” option to make articles freely available worldwide on the Internet and in print, for a fee of $3000. Velterop told the Guardian that he was not “going to the dark side,” but rather that “parts of the dark side, including Springer, are seeing the light.” At its unveiling in July 2004, Velterop criticized Springer’s Open Choice plan, saying it fell short of being open access, since it requires “standard consent-to-publish and transfer-of-copyright agreements” from authors and also forbids “copying, reproducing, distributing, or posting of the publisher’s version of the article on a third party server.” He also pointed out that Open Choice articles made no commitment to be archived in open access repositories and criticized Springer’s hefty price, saying that “what authors have to gain is not in any way in proportion to the cost of $3000,” a price above that charged by other open access publishers. In a statement, Velterop said be believed that open access “fits in ideally with Springer’s growth strategy.”
I examined different aspects of Open Access and traditional, toll access publishing using Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) as a test case. The full essay, with links to my sources of data, was initially published on scitech library question. A PDF version will be available in the CaltechLIB repository on 26 August.
The NIH has started posting online statistics about submissions under its public-access policy. For each day in May, June, and July, you can now see (1) the total number of manuscripts submitted under the policy, (2) the number of grantees submitting manuscripts, and (3) the number of unpublished manuscripts submitted. I assume that NIH will post another data file every month going forward.
I would have blogged this July 20 press release earlier but I didn't discover it until today:
The Open Society Institute (OSI) and the Public Library of Science (PLoS) are pleased to announce the continuation of their PLoS Institutional Memberships for developing and transitional countries. Both OSI and PLoS are committed to promoting scholarly communication through open access publishing – and support for PLoS Institutional Memberships is one way we can work together on this globally important issue. Authors affiliated with OSI-sponsored Member Institutions receive a complete waiver on the publication charge for all PLoS journals. So if your paper is accepted for publication, you pay nothing, and your paper will be published and made available for readers throughout the world.
The ALPSP has written a second position statement on Google Print for Libraries (August 25). Its first one was released on July 11 (see my blog posting for an excerpt and comment). Excerpt from the new one:
Google Print for Libraries is a very different matter [from Google Print for Publishers]. We firmly believe that, in cases where the works digitised are still in copyright, the law does not permit making a complete digital copy for such purposes. We are willing to work with Google to find a mutually acceptable way forward; however, we do not consider Google’s proposal to stop the digitisation program until 1 November, up to which date publishers may exclude their works by supplying full bibliographic details including ISBN/ISSN (a major undertaking), to offer an acceptable solution. We believe that publishers and, where appropriate, other rightsholders (such as authors and artists) must be asked for permission before an incopyright work may be digitised and included in this program. We recognise that this is complicated as there are many thousands of publishers in the world; however, collective licensing agencies (such as CCC in the USA and CLA/PLS in the UK) may be able to perform a useful role in simplifying the process of obtaining permissions. We wish to continue to discuss an ‘opt-in’ solution and still very much hope to avoid recourse to the courts. In the meantime, however, we shall be advising our members that if they are not sure about the program, they should exclude all their works for the time being. We shall also be recommending (as suggested by Google) that they can protect both in- and out-of-copyright print and electronic works by placing them in the Google Print for Publishers program instead. We call on Google to hold an urgent meeting with representatives of all major publishing organisations, in order to work out an acceptable pragmatic way forward and to avoid legal action.
Comment. Like the ALPSP's earlier statement, this one does not deny that the Google project could be very lucrative for publishers. As before, it asserts an abstract property right without claiming injury. The chief addition here is the threat of legal action. If the ALPSP believes that the absence of publisher injury and the possibility of publisher gain needn't be mentioned because they are irrelevant to its case, then it is mistaken. Apart from their relevance to policy, they will be relevant to any court asked to decide whether the Google copying constitutes fair use under U.S. copyright law.
Farrokh Habibzadeh, Science Publishing in the Orient: A Lost Cause? IslamOrient.net, August 25, 2005. Excerpt:
[D]o developing countries really need their own journals? Scientists, physicians, and health policy-makers in developing countries are faced with situations far different from those encountered by practitioners in industrialized countries....In developing countries...infectious diseases such as malaria, hydatid cyst, and diarrhea are still among the major killers....[T]he existing evidence established at the global level is sometimes not exactly what is needed to solve our local problems. It is thus essential for developing countries to conduct research on their own problems and to be able to make use of global knowledge in a local context. For all these reasons, developing countries should conduct their own research and present their somewhat different medical findings. This in turn necessitates that they publish their own medical/scientific journals....[But journals in developing countries face many problems.] Suggested Solutions....Thanks to the Internet, networking, and e-Journalism, it is now possible for any journal to become somewhat visible (Lawrence 521). Most journal Web sites can now be found through a number of well-known search engines (e.g., Google, Yahoo!, and Scirus). Also, PubMed Central (PMC), through providing free access to numerous journal articles, now plays an important role in increasing the visibility of a journal.
The American Chemical Society has sent a letter to its members about its quarrel with PubChem, the open-access database from the NIH. Unfortunately the ACS has turned off cutting and pasting in its PDF, and I don't have time right now to rekey essential passages. But at least the full text is free online for reading. The gist is that in its negotiations with the NIH, the ACS has offered to launch a free online chemical database. ACS would contribute 15 staffers and $10 million over five years toward the project. The letter does not say what ACS would expect in return (e.g. truncation or elimination of PubChem), but does say that the NIH rejected the proposal. Clearly ACS members and the rest of us need to hear more about the proposal and NIH's grounds for refusing it before we can evaluate either side's position.
Update. The NIH has publicly released Elias Zerhouni's August 22 letter to the ACS, explaining the NIH's reasons for rejecting the ACS offer.
Head & Neck Medicine is the 75th independent, Open Access journal hosted by BioMed Central (BMC). As Managing Editor-in-Chief Thomas Stamm explains in the introductory editorial, the purpose of the new journal is to foster:
Progress in interdisciplinary diagnostics, therapy and research of pathologic conditions of the human head and face by raising new scientific questions which demand new ways of thinking to improve medical quality.As with the rest of the journals at BioMed Central, archiving of Head & Neck Medicine's articles will occur at PubMed Central, INIST (Institut de l'Information Scientifique et Technique) in France, and Potsdam University in Germany. BMC is also a LOCKSS participating publisher.
Head & Neck Medicine - Fulltext v1+ (2005+); ISSN: 1746-160X.
January W. Payne, The Right Stuff: Rigorous Herbal Study Proves Internet's Research Potential, Washington Post, August 16, 2005. Excerpt:
A new study affirms the feasibility of using the Internet to conduct gold-standard medical research. The authors say the findings are the first to be based on a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial conducted entirely via the Internet. The eight-week trial looked at the effects of two herbal remedies, kava and valerian, that are used widely to treat anxiety and insomnia. The supplements' effects were not remarkable, according to the study; neither provided more insomnia or anxiety relief than placebo. While the results echo earlier findings, the researchers' use of the Internet for everything -- from recruitment to patient consent to data collection -- makes the study unique. Previous Internet-based trials used the Web for most, but not all, steps of the research process. The all-electronic method offers several advantages, the authors said. "You can roll out a study much quicker, which allows you to get results much quicker," said Bradly Jacobs, lead study author and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Results "can be made available to the public much quicker," he added...."The minute you finish [an Internet-based] trial, . . . the data entry is done," said Tim McAlindon, a rheumatologist and director of the Center for Internet-Based Epidemiologic Research, which focuses on developing and validating Internet research, at Tufts-New England Medical Center. He said online research costs a quarter to a half the price of a traditional trial....Internet-based trials provide benefits that can aid researchers and speed the release of findings. "The goal here," Jacobs said, "is really to increase access" to trials and data "for the U.S. population."
Bangladesh Online Research Network (BORN, but also calling itself BDresearch.org) is a repository of free and priced research about Bangladesh. It is apparently not OAI compliant. BORN is hosted by D.Net (Development through Access to Network Resources), which is a partner in the Global Knowledge Partnership. (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)
Christian Woll, Wissenschaftliches Publizieren im digitalen Zeitalter und die Rolle der Bibliotheken, Kölner Arbeitspapiere zur Bibliotheks- und Informationswissenschaft, Band 46, February 2005. On the role of libraries in 21st century STM publishing (in German). (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)
SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) has assisted three more established print journals with the transition to Open Access online editions. The disparate subjects of the journals illustrates the breadth of content available through SciELO. Two titles are in Spanish and originate in Chile, the third is in Portuguese and is from Brazil. The Brazilian journal is in the area of sanitary engineering, while the Chilean titles are a wood science journal and a major literary review. La Revista Chilena de Literatura is indexed in MLA Bibliography and Arts & Humanities Citation Index.
Engenharia Sanitária e Ambiental - Fulltext v9(4)+ (2004+); Print ISSN: 1413-4152.
MADERAS: Ciencia y Tecnología - Fulltext v7+ (2005+); Print ISSN: 0717-3644 | Online ISSN: 0718-221X.
La Revista Chilena de Literatura - Fulltext no66+ (2005+); Print ISSN: 0048-7651 | Online ISSN: 0718-2295.
Public Collections of DNA and RNA Sequence Reach 100 Gigabases, a press release from the National Library of Medicine (August 22). Excerpt:
For nearly 20 years, the three leading public repositories for DNA and RNA sequence data have collaborated to provide access to the ever increasing amount of genetic data produced by institutions around the world. The three repositories have now reached a significant milestone by collecting and disseminating 100 gigabases of sequence data. For a frame of reference, one hundred billion bases is about equal to the number of nerve cells in a human brain and a bit less than the number of stars in the Milky Way. These 100,000,000,000 bases, or "letters" of the genetic code, represent both individual genes and partial and complete genomes of over 165,000 organisms. While a single gene from organisms as diverse as humans, elephants, earthworms, fruitflies, apple trees, and bacteria can range from less than one hundred to over several thousand bases long, an organism's genome can be longer than one billion bases. The free access to this information allows scientists to study and compare the same data as their colleagues nearly anywhere in the world, and makes possible collaborative research that will lead ultimately to cures for diseases and improved health. Thanks to their data exchange policy, the three members of the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration: GenBank (Bethesda, Maryland USA), European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-Bank in Hinxton, UK), and the DNA Data Bank of Japan (Mishima, Japan) all reached this milestone together.
Australia's Department of Education, Science, and Training (DEST) will invest an additional $19.4 million in the country's Systematic Intrastructure Initiative, which includes OA repositories. From the call for proposals:
Under Backing Australia’s Ability – An Innovation Action Plan for the Future 2001 (BAA), the Systemic Infrastructure Initiative (SII) will provide $246m over 5 years to upgrade research infrastructure at Australian universities. The SII is funding projects which will help promote Australian research output and build Australian research information infrastructure through the development of distributed digital repositories and common technical services that manage access and authorisation....On 22 August 2005, the Hon Dr Brendan Nelson MP, Minister for Education, Science and Training, announced funding for nine projects involving over 30 Australian universities. Many of the funded projects comply with more than one of the areas identified and support many of the themes and problems that are emerging through the consultations for NCRIS and e-Research Committees. The funded projects are known collectively as the Managed Environments for Research Repository Infrastructure (MERRI) Projects.
For more details, see the DEST press release.
The Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal from Library Publishing Media. (Thanks to Muhammad Sohail.) From Emily Howman's editorial in the inaugural issue:
We are delighted to launch the Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine. This provides an opportunity to showcase biomedical research from the developing world and the health issues affecting these regions. The aim of the journal is to make science from all areas of the globe freely accessible via open access publishing. A vast number of journals are published monthly but a large percentage is only available by subscription and many libraries in developing nations cannot afford the institutional fees....The global scientific community can be brought closer together through web-based communications and open-access publishing provides inexpensive worldwide exposure and publicity of the work which may not be made available otherwise. This approach has been endorsed by both the Wellcome Trust (UK) and the National Institute of Health (US). We hope that publishing in the Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine will increase awareness of studies in developing countries and foster collaborations with better funded European and US research communities. The pharmaceutical industry is already thriving in developing nations due to low production and clinical trial costs. India is the fourth largest producer of pharmaceuticals in the world and multinationals such as GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Novartis have set up laboratories in China. Science and technology drives economic growth so supporting grass roots research and cultivating collaborations should provide new opportunities for scientists and slow the mass migration of talent from these regions.
Gerard van Westrienen, Country update on academic institutional repositories, SURF, August 2005. Excerpt:
On May 10-11, 2005 the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), the UK Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), and the SURF Foundation in the Netherlands hosted an international conference titled Making the Strategic Case for Institutional Repositories. The purpose of this conference was to take a broad look at the current state of deployment of institutional repositories (IRs) in the academic sector, and to explore how national policies and strategies were shaping this deployment. In preparation for the meeting, the organisers solicited data on institutional repository deployment from some thirteen nations: Australia, Canada, the United States and ten European countries – Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. We used a common template for the national reports – although many nations were unable to address all of the questions that were part of the template – and presented the collected data as part of the conference program. After the conference, representatives of each nation were given an opportunity to revise their submissions in order to clarify differences of interpretation that became evident as the data from different countries was compared in Amsterdam. [This] report...has the complete data from each nation, along with some supplementing information from four countries.
Mike Sangrey summarizes some recent proposals for open-source Bible translation and open-access initiatives in religious scholarship.
Timothy Lee, Google Print and Copyright Law, Heartland Institute, September 2005. Excerpt
Courts have recognized the fair use doctrine for centuries, but Congress formally codified the principle in the 1976 Copyright Act. It spells out the factors that determine when an unauthorized copy is a fair use. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the most important factor is “the purpose and character of the use.” It asks (as the court wrote in 1994) whether a new work “merely supersedes the objects of the original creation, or instead adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the first with new expression, meaning, or message; it asks, in other words, whether and to what extent the new work is transformative.” ...Viewed in that light, Google Print is clearly a transformative use. It has a “further purpose” and “different character” than the books it indexes. Its value is not derived from the creativity of book authors, but from the innovation of its engineers. Another factor the courts must consider is “the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.” It seems clear that Google Print’s impact on the book market can be only positive for authors and publishers. Google Print displays only brief excerpts of books that are still under copyright. A user will have to obtain a printed copy of the book if she wishes to read more. That can only increase book sales. The Constitution states that the purpose of copyright is to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts.” In other words, intellectual property protections increase 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.
Abstracts of the presentations at the Open Source Geospatial conference (Minneapolis, June 16-18, 2005) are now online.
Tim Hubbard, Reply to the comments requested by CIPIH and WHO to the CPTech proposal for a Medical Research and Development Treaty (MRDT), World Health Organization, August 22, 2005. Hubbard is the Head of Human Genome Analysis at the Sanger Institute. Excerpt:
[F.M.Scherer] suggested that sections of the treaty imply a direction away from granting exclusive licenses and imply that this could harm translation. However agencies with a mandate to improve public health, such as National Institutes of Health and Wellcome Trust, are already using a range of different approaches to ensure that research discoveries are developed into treatments, only one of which is exclusive licensing. Our view is that a mixed approach is likely to be the most successful, but that new open access approaches should be encourage where appropriate. Recent evidence suggests that the selective creation of public research resources (e.g. human genome sequence), which are of wide utility to other researchers, stimulate research activity more than any lose of potential exclusivity. More widely, encouraging researchers to be more proactive in sharing their data and research results, under open access research initiatives, also appears beneficial.
The summer issue of the INASP Newsletter is now online. This issue contains several stories on African ejournals as well as news on TEEAL, PERI, Bioline, and research access in Cameroon.
Eight UK friends of OA have written an Open Letter to Research Councils UK (August 22, 2005) supporting the draft RCUK open-access policy. The letter directly rebuts the arguments by the ALPSP in its August 5 critique of the policy.
The ALPSP critique was formerly OA but is now behind a password for ALPSP members only. For an excerpt, see my blog posting at the time. Today's open letter also recaps many of its arguments.
Excerpt from the open letter:
[T]here is a logical contradiction in the position adopted by ALPSP. On the one hand, ALPSP maintains that learned societies must be allowed to operate in a free market ("each publisher must have the right to establish the best way of expanding access to its journal content that is compatible with continuing viability"). Yet on the other hand, ALPSP is in effect asking RCUK to protect learned societies from the consequences of a free market -- specifically the right of those who have funded and produced research to make their product readily accessible for uptake by its intended users.
The open letter is signed by Tim Berners-Lee, Dave De Roure, Stevan Harnad, Nigel Shadbolt, Derek Law, Peter Murray-Rust, Charles Oppenheim, and Yorick Wilks. A longer version of the letter is signed by some non-UK friends of OA, including myself.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China will provide OA to hundreds of fundamental legal documents --as soon as it can find them.
N.V. Joshi, Institutional E-print Archives: Liberalizing Access to Scientific Research, Current Science, August 10, 2005. An editorial. (Thanks to D.K. Sahu.) Excerpt:
Enter the Internet, the World Wide Web and the Google. Suddenly, some journals became easily and freely accessible by anyone using a web-browser. Suddenly, the playing fields are levelled – or at least the dice becomes much less loaded....In short, there is now a much better chance that an article published in a not-so-famous journal will be easily picked up as a relevant reference by a web-searching researcher, if (though a very big if at that) the journal is freely accessible on the web. All other things being equal, this would make the ‘open access’ journals more attractive to the authors compared to the non-open access ones. The number of open access journals, though steadily on the rise, continues to be small, however, amounting to less than a few per cent....The way out of [the dilemma between OA journals, which are few in number, and non-OA journals, which don't offer OA] is the brilliant and breathtakingly simple solution: Open Access through The e-Print Archive....The e-print revolution simultaneously solves two of the major problems faced by the developing nations: improving the visibility of their research and improving access to the research articles from the developed ones....It should by now become obvious that starting and filling an institutional e-print archive (containing the peer reviewed publications from the institution) is easy, inexpensive, and immensely beneficial to all – a truly win-win-win situation....[F]unding agencies, especially the public/governments ones,...are beginning to see the advantages of such archives being set up. This is the surest way of truthfully declaring that the results of publicly funded research (at least, in the form of peer reviewed scientific publications) are indeed accessible to the public....What can be a better testimony (and foundation) for the progress of science than the fact that the entire corpus of scientific and technical knowledge is at the fingertips of everyone – all answers just a click away. That is e-print revolution for you.
The Open Knowledge Foundation Network (OKFN) has published a manifesto, Open Access to State-Collected Geospatial Data. Please consider adding your signature. Excerpt:
We believe that state-collected geodata should be openly available to citizens....Geodata is a public good. Open access to it, under a 'Commons' (ShareAlike) license, is the best way to see its full benefits realized by industry and citizens. At the same time such an arrangement, by requiring users to redistribute updates and improvements to the data, promises to deliver more and better data for less....Online mapping projects creating freely reusable geodata should offer a compatible open license....Common, standard formats for describing and exchanging geodata should be adopted....When more information producers have the opportunity to contribute timely and accurate geodata, quality improves. When more organisations have the chance to offer spatial information services competitively, prices lower. Over 50% of UK national mapping data sales are to government or government-funded organisations; a false economy sending 60M of tax-based revenue back to a government-owned semi-private company. Ordinary citizens and not-for-profit organisations can't afford the current monopoly-priced data licenses, and are reduced to supplication. Open geodata would be good for the economy. In the United States, national policy places all government-collected geospatial information into the public domain, free of cost and free of restrictions on re-use. This lowers the cost of research and development, and innovation by industry and by individuals creates economic activity. Open access to geodata would be good for democracy and citizen engagement 75-80% of the information generated by government has a spatial component. For public sector information to be effectively exploited, it needs to be as widely available as possible. EU Freedom Of Information laws heavily emphasise availability of geographic data.
Heather Morrison has a good blog posting on the difficulty of counting the number of OA journals or OA repositories.