Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Harvard law prof says Google book-scanning is fair use

Christopher T. Heun, Courts Unlikely To Stop Google Book Copying, InternetWeek, September 2, 2005. Excerpt:
Despite objections from publishers and writers, copyright law appears to be on Google's side, legal experts say. The social value of Google's initiative to digitize library books, including those protected by copyright, will likely weigh heavily in the search engine's favor. Should the growing number of publishing groups, who oppose the plan by Google Inc. to digitize the collections of some of the world’s major libraries, fail to reach an agreement and turn instead to the courts, they may have a tough road ahead of them. Although Google may appear to violate the law by scanning, without permission, entire copies of books protected by copyright, such an act is not illegal if it is considered “fair use” of the material. How a court interprets that doctrine will decide the fate of the company’s ambitious plans, according to lawyers and law professors with knowledge of intellectual property and copyright statues. They say the most important issues for a court would be the character of Google’s activity, its adverse economic impact on the copyright holder, and the amount of material it uses in proportion to the whole and if that is key to the work. Of lesser concern is whether the company makes a reasonable effort to contact copyright holders before copying their books. “Google would probably win” a court case, says William Fisher, who teaches intellectual property law at Harvard Law School and is the director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. “Google is a profit-making venture, that counts against it, but what it is doing is a highly socially valuable activity and that counts highly in its favor.”

More testimony on the problem

Hannu, Scientific Publishing Sucks, Tomorrow Elephant, September 2, 2005. A blog posting. Excerpt:
Last week, I tried to access a paper which I cowrote with a bunch of fine people a few years back, only to discover that I couldn’t, since Edinburgh University does not have a subscription to the publication in which it appeared. This made me seriously angry, and so I started thinking about all the things that are wrong with the current scientific publishing model. Recently I had a pub conversation about copyright and scientific publishing with José, who pointed out that the situation (at least in the mathematical physics field, but undoubtedly elsewhere as well) is absurd. At the moment the scientific publishing model consists of restricted-access journals to which the institutions of researchers must subscribe to. However, it is not clear what the journals and the publishers really contribute to the process anymore. It’s the academics who do the research, the typography (with LaTeX and other modern layout tools) and the peer reviews --for free! And, in the case that their institution does not have a subscription to the journal in which the paper appears, they have to pay to view the final version of their own paper.

Brief profiles of LOCKSS and DSpace

Matt Villano, 'Opening' A Digital Library, Campus Technology, September 3, 2005. Covering hot DL developments including LOCKSS and DSpace. Excerpt:
MacKenzie Smith, associate director for Technology at MIT Libraries, hails DSpace as an effort to reverse the trend of researchers losing their hold on physical research data, a growing problem in government and academia alike. “Our faculty members are keeping their research under their desks, on lots of disks, and praying that nothing happens to it,” she says, noting that earlier this decade, some MIT researchers actually may have misplaced some of their early studies and communications that led to the creation of the Internet itself. “We have a long way to go,” she admits....Down the line, Smith predicts that the biggest challenge to the DSpace effort will be a legal one: convincing (and subsequently reminding) faculty to retain their rights to archive material when the rights are up, so that schools don’t have to shell out additional money to utilize work that quite rightfully should be theirs to access free of charge. Understandably, researchers who publish seek the best deals to publish their work, and these deals frequently require them to fork over rights to a publisher. But change could be imminent: The National Institutes of Health have changed their public access guidelines to include free electronic access to articles that come out of research funds. Smith says that if researchers followed this lead and changed the terms of their copyright agreements to allow for a copy in DSpace, the system could grow exponentially. “We understand that if we can’t capture content, we won’t have anything to preserve and we’ll lose the scholarly record,” she says. “The next step for us is to come up with language [that] researchers can use when they go to publishers and say, ‘This is what we need to protect our work for the future.’”

Access to US government information

Thomas F. Lahr, Robin Haun-Mohamed, and Eleanor G. Frierson, Developing the Digital World of Government Information and Official Publications: A View from the United States, a presentation at the 71st IFLA General Conference and Council (Oslo, August 14-18, 2005).
Abstract: U.S. government agencies are creating new digital government information services, many through collaboration and partnerships within and outside the government. Massive digitization and digital preservation initiatives are proposed or in process. Support for eGovernment at the highest levels is creating opportunities for innovation and impetus for change in the way government information and official publications are created and made available. Initiatives discussed in the presentation will include two government-supported partnerships: the National Biological Information Infrastructure and the United States Government Printing Office national digitization plan followed by an overview of a cross-government partnership These innovative US Government systems and programs provide new value added access and retrieval options to U.S. government information which was previously unavailable or time consuming to locate.

Wiki on world law

JurisPedia is a scholarly wiki on world and international law, sponsored by the law faculties of the University of Montpellier, Can Tho University, Université du Québec à Montreal, and Saarland University. (Thanks to Yong Lui.)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Geospheres -- new OA jnl from GSA

Geosphere is the Geological Society of America's first Open Access journal. Geosphere joins GSA's two established journals, Geology and Geological Society of America Bulletin, and its magazine, GSA Today, all of which are hosted by Allen Press. Accoding to the journal's Additional Information page, Geosphere will appear bimonthly.

Geosphere - Fulltext v1+ (2005+); ISSN: 1553-040X.

[Thanks to Jim O'Donnell and Michael Noga.]

More on the next Berlin conferences

Berlin4 will probably take place in March 2006 (postponed from October 5-7, 2005). Berlin5 will take place in Padua, Italy, in October 2006. Stay tuned for more details. (Thanks to Georg Botz.)

September issue of SOAN

I just mailed the September issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue takes a close look at Jan Velterop's move to Springer and Elsevier's experiment with free online access at Information and Computation. It also includes some reflections on 9/11, four years later. The Top Stories section takes a brief look at the continuing debate over the draft RCUK policy, some OA initiatives in India, Google's decision to suspend the scanning of copyrighted books until November, and a new JISC-SURF report on scholar attitudes toward copyright.

Long past time to fill the OA repositories

Vanessa Spedding, The infrastructure is there: time to populate, ResearchInformation, July/August 2005. Excerpt:
While the debate rages about the merits of open-access...journals compared with traditional, subscription-based journals, another movement has been growing behind the scenes, one that threatens neither of these but is powerful enough to transform access to scholarly literature. The movement is ready to move into the mainstream - and it might just be pervasive enough to make all the difference. At the heart of the scheme is a proposal for 100 per cent self-archiving of research literature by academics and academic institutions. The main champion of this cause for years has been Professor Stevan Harnad, director of the Cognitive Sciences Centre at the University of Southampton, UK. He explained why work that has been underway in recent months shows this to be a crucial time for the movement, and why the forthcoming year could be critical 'The number of repositories is growing - but what's more important is how full they are - or are not. There are 24,000 peer-reviewed journals in the world which, between them, carry two and a half million articles a year. Of these, only 15 per cent are self-archived,' he began....He elaborated: 'The issue is to do with researchers. Some say they don't know about it, many say they are too busy. The fact is that their priorities are decided by their obligations. They will self-archive when their employer says they must.' His observations are drawn from the results of a major new survey into the field, funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the UK. Dr Alma Swan of Key Perspectives and Dr Les Carr at the University of Southampton presented the findings from this survey at the recent International Conference on Policies and Strategies for Open Access to Scientific Information in Beijing, China. The survey found that 81 per cent of authors would comply willingly with a mandate from their employer or funding agency to deposit copies of their articles in an institutional or subject-based repository; 14 per cent would comply reluctantly, and only 5 per cent would not comply. Some 49 per cent of respondents had self-archived at least one article in the previous three years but 31 per cent were not yet aware of the possibilities of self-archiving. Only 20 per cent had difficulty with the first act of depositing an article in a repository; this dropped to nine per cent for subsequent deposits. The significance of this is underscored in the UK by a proposal from Research Councils UK (RCUK), the umbrella body for the eight national research funding councils, that it should make it mandatory for papers arising from council-funded research to be 'deposited in openly-available repositories (either institutional or subject-based) at the earliest opportunity'.

(PS: Just one quibble. There is no sense in which the campaign for self-archiving has been growing "behind the scenes" except that it has been neglected or misunderstood by the press. It has been public, and as conspicuous as its proponents could make it, for more than a decade.)

Google Print expands to European publishers

Michael Liedtke, Google opens book project to Europe, Associated Press (this copy in Rocky Mountain News), September 2, 2005. Excerpt:
Google Inc. is asking European book publishers to submit non-English material to its Internet-leading search engine - a move that may ease worries about the company's digital library relying too heavily on Anglo-American content. Under an expansion announced Thursday, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company opened its ambitious Google Print book-scanning project to publishers in France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands and Spain. It marks the first time that Google has sought submissions from non-English publishers since it began to scan books into its search engine index last year....By reaching out to European publishers, Google hopes to substantially increase the volume of non-English books in its database, said Jim Gerber, director of content partnership for Google's print program....Google assured its European critics that it wanted to include more non-English content, a promise that is being backed up by Thursday's announcement. "The goal has always been to be more inclusive of all information," Gerber said.

More on the RCUK policy

Zosia Kmietowicz, Results of publicly funded research should be available to all, says web creator, BMJ, September 3, 2005. Excerpt:
A group of eight UK academics that includes Tim Berners-Lee, who created the world wide web, has called for all publicly funded research to be made freely available on the internet. In an open letter to the Research Councils UK (RCUK) the group is highly critical of the Association of Learned and Professional Society, which represents non-profit academic publishers and which has opposed such moves to open access. The society claimed that a proposal by RCUK --a strategic partnership of the United Kingdom’s eight research councils-- that all research papers resulting from its funding should be archived on the internet "will accelerate the move to a disastrous scenario." This scenario, the society said, would bring financial ruin to many journals as librarians cancel subscriptions and would lead to the collapse of quality controls and peer review processes....The group of academics has hit back at the Association of Learned and Professional Society, saying that many of the society’s claims are unsubstantiated. "All the evidence to date shows the reverse to be true: not only do journals thrive and coexist alongside author self-archiving, but they can actually benefit from it --both in terms of more citations and more subscriptions." They say that many researchers are currently hampered in their work because they don’t have access to all the articles they need, as no institution can afford to subscribe to all the journals its users need. "Due to the current constraints on the accessibility of research results, the potential for British scholarship is not being maximised currently," the group wrote in its letter. "Yet the constraints on accessibility can now, in the digital age, be eliminated completely, to the benefit of the UK economy and society, exactly in the way RCUK has proposed." The letter includes a line by line critique of the society’s reasons for opposing open access. It gives physics as an example of an area in which open access has not been detrimental to traditional publishing.

Google Print turns to national databases

Susan Kuchinskas, Google Extends Book Scanning Operation,, August 31, 2005. Excerpt:
Google isn't backing down from its plan to scan every book in the world. On Tuesday, the search goliath rolled out stand-alone book search services in 14 countries. The same day, the Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA) became the latest publishers' organization to call Google's opt-out strategy backwards. The international book search services let users in the UK, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, Pakistan, American Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Kenya, Jamaica, Mauritius and Uganda search English-language books via keyword, then read passages from the books where those words appear. As in the United States, searchers can search only books via domain-specific search services similar to; results from books also may appear at the top of regular Web search results in their countries' versions of In either case, the book search results will include links to online retailers to allow searchers to buy the books. However, the indexes of books may differ from country to country, in order to comply with local copyright laws, according to Jim Gerber, Google's director of content partnerships. "The index is slightly different because of our ability to show different works depending on what the rights holders allow us," he said. "Each country has different laws." Google offers three different kinds of book search results in the U.S. and abroad, Gerber said. For works in the public domain, searchers can essentially access the entire book online. For books under copyright, publishers can contract with the search service through its Google Publishers program to allow access to specified amounts of content.

Current and comprehensive OA info on Katrina

Wikipedia has risen to the occasion again. See its very comprehensive and continually growing and updated article on Hurricane Katrina.

GPO waffles on commitment to OA

James Jacobs, GPO refuses to guarantee no-fee access, Free Government Information, September 1, 2005. Excerpt:
Last week, GPO [the U.S. Government Printing Office] had the opportunity to assure the library community that free public access is a GPO priority and it failed to do so. Instead, in response to two questions that directly address the vague commitments to public access in its strategic vision for the 21st century, GPO chose to avoid the questions entirely and assure the library community that it is designing a system that will not be "constrained" by policies -- such as access without fees....The fact that GPO is designing a system that will not be "constrained" by policy should worry anyone who values free public access to government information because it means that GPO's "Future Digital System is designed to accommodate charging for access. What will happen to free public access, one might ask, when GPO's "operational policies" change to become self-supporting through user fees? As bad as that is, it is even worse that GPO continues to avoid taking any opportunity to affirm that it will at least try to ensure that government information will be made available without constraints or conditions or fees. There are two simple things that GPO can do to guarantee no-fee, fully-functional access to digital government information. First, it should say that it wishes to do so. So far, it has failed to take even this small step. Second, it should guarantee that it will release, without fee, fully-functional digital information to the public and depository libraries. This would ensure that good, usable copies are in the public domain and not locked into a system that may change its access policies and fee structure at a moment's notice.

OA at Göttingen

Margo Bargheer, "Der Universitätsverlag Göttingen – Neue Wege des wissenschaftlichen Publizierens," in Margo Bargheer and Klaus Ceynowa (eds.), Tradition und Zukunft – die Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen, Universitätsverlag Göttingen 2005, pp. 325-336. On the contributions of the University of Göttingen press to OA publishing. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.) There is no deep link to Bargheer's article, so you'll have to scroll or search.

OA Working Group comment on the RCUK policy

The Open Access Working Group has publicly released its August 23 comment on the draft RCUK policy. Excerpt:
We believe that open-access research dissemination is an indispensable part of the overall remedy to the serious problems now facing the system of scholarly communication. Moreover, open access is a necessary ingredient in any plan to fully realize the social benefits of scientific advances. While these advantages are important no matter the source of the funding, it is particularly critical when the research is publicly funded and the resulting output is a public good....Implementation of [the draft] policy will result in taxpayers gaining immediate, full and direct access to the research for which they have already paid. Moreover, such a policy will increase the return on the government's investment in this research; as a result of deposit the research becomes more accessible, discoverable, sharable, and for these reasons, more useful, than toll-access research....We are particularly pleased to note that the Research Council’s policy requires grantees to deposit final published articles, greatly enhancing the policy’s chances for successfully achieving these important goals and ensuring maximum participation....To further ensure the success of this policy, we would suggest that the Research Councils consider revising the section of the policy that specifically relates to the timing of the deposit of research materials. [The current language in paragraph 14.b] seems to allow publishers, in cases where they have become the copyright-holder, to object to deposit or to demand long delays or embargoes prior to deposit or public release. We encourage the Research Councils to close this loophole before the final draft is finished to ensure that deposit does indeed occur at the desired point, at or around the time of publication. We note that the draft policy exempts researchers from the requirement to deposit their research in instances where they do not have access to an institutional or disciplinary repository. We hope that the Research Councils will implement strategies to encourage the development of repositories in the U.K. in a manner that makes deposit available to all researchers.

The OAWG members who signed this comment are the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL), the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Medical Library Association (MLA), Public Knowledge (PK), and the Scholarly Publication and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). I participated in the drafting of this comment.

More on ACS v. PubChem

Jocelyn Kaiser, NIH, Chemical Society Look for Common Ground, Science Magazine, September 2, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
U.S. government officials and a scientific society are batting ideas back and forth on how to keep a new [open-access] federal chemical database from overlapping with an existing [toll-access] private one. So far, they are still searching for common ground....In early August, ACS president William Carroll made NIH an offer: The society would donate $10 million and up to 15 staff members over 5 years to build NIH a free database of chemicals with attached bioassay data. NIH expressed many concerns about the proposal, however, in a four-page letter to Carroll from NIH Director Elias Zerhouni. In the 22 August letter, Zerhouni notes that NIH wants to integrate PubChem with other public biomedical databases, which NCBI staff --not a chemistry organization-- "are in an ideal and unique position" to do. NIH is also concerned about which molecules ACS would include, arguing that the database cannot be limited to compounds with biological data because such bioactivity may remain to be discovered. In addition, Zerhouni explains, the plan would violate federal rules requiring that any such agreement be open to bidding from other companies. Zerhouni offered a six-part "alternative structure" that would avoid overlap between PubChem and CAS but strengthen the ties between the two databases. Among those changes, NIH would pay ACS to make sure PubChem entries contain the same numbers that CAS uses to register each molecule to "maximize the interactiveness" of the two databases. NIH would agree not to include nonbiomedical information that CAS now offers, such as chemical reactions and patents....The letter says NIH is open to developing a "retrospective process" for removing chemicals from PubChem that are deemed of no use for biomedical research. NIH officials have noted in the past that it would be very hard to rule out any chemicals. For example, ACS initially claimed that an explosive called HDX should not be included in PubChem, but an NCBI official pointed out that the National Cancer Institute has found that HDX has activity in antitumor assays. Both sides say they are committed to finding a compromise.

More on integrating journals and data

Philip Bourne, Will a Biological Database Be Different from a Biological Journal? PLoS Computational Biology, August 26, 2005. Bourne is the editor-in-chief of PLoS Computational Biology and co-director of the Protein Data Bank (PDB). Excerpt:
The differences, or otherwise, between biological databases and journals is an important question to consider as we ponder the future dissemination and impact of science. If databases and journals remain discrete, our methods of assimilating information will change relatively little in the years to come. On the other hand, if databases and journals become more integrated, the way we do science could change significantly....My vision is that a traditional biological journal will become just one part of various biological data resources as the scientific knowledge in published papers is stored and used more like a database. Conversely, the scientific literature will seamlessly provide annotation of records in the biological databases. Imagine reading a description of an active site of a biological molecule in a paper, being able to access immediately the atomic coordinates specifically for that active site, and then using a tool to explore the intricate set of hydrogen-bonding interactions described in the paper. Not only are the data generated by the experiment immediately available within the context of what you are reading, but specific tools for interpreting these data are provided by the journal....In the case of open-access journals and open archives like the PDB, the parallels, from the perspective of the consumer, are even more profound than just free access yet are frequently overlooked....We have taken the first steps toward a middle ground by making both the combined contents of biological databases and biological literature freely available in electronic form. Is the technology available to support the next steps in integration and is the scientific community ready for such a change? I believe that the answer to the technology part of the question is yes. I do not know the answer to the second part, but I think it's time for some preliminary experiments to find out.

Report on digitital American literature, including OA issues

Martha Brogan, A Kaleidoscope of Digital American Literature, CLIR, September 2005 (large 1.4 MB PDF).
Abstract: This report will be useful to anyone interested in the current state of online American literature resources. Its purpose is twofold: to offer a sampling of the types of digital resources currently available or under development in support of American literature; and to identify the prevailing concerns of specialists in the field as expressed during interviews conducted between July 2004 and May 2005. Part two of the report consolidates the results of these interviews with an exploration of resources currently available. Part three examines six categories of digital work in progress: (1) quality-controlled subject gateways, (2) author studies, (3) public domain e-book collections and alternative publishing models, (4) proprietary reference resources and full-text primary source collections, (5) collections by design, and (6) teaching applications. This survey is informed by a selective review of the recent literature.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Africa Commons Encyclopedia

The African Commons Encyclopedia is a useful wiki-based compendium of OA and digital commons projects in Africa. (Thanks to Susan Veldsman.)

Another TA article on OA

Brian Vastag, Open-Access Panelists: Can’t We All Just Get Along? Science Editor, July/August 2005. Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

Controversy without access

The mainstream press in the U.S. is reporting --and amplifying-- a controversy over a recent JAMA paper concluding that "fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester." Mini Kahlon points out that the lay commentators who denounce the result generally make no reference to the evidence produced by the authors. The reason, she thinks, is that the full text is accessible only to subscribers. (Thanks to John Wilbanks.)

JISC-SURF report on copyright in OA journals

Esther Hoorn and Maurits van der Graaf, Towards good practices of copyright in Open Access Journals, August 8, 2005. The report of a study funded by JISC and SURF. Excerpt:
[T]he situation regarding the reuse of an author's own articles in traditional journals post publication appears to be unsatisfactory. A large percentage of the authors surveyed (29%) do not ask permission from the publisher, and a significant percentage (19%) state that they feel limited in reusing the article in ways they would like. 4% ask permission for reusing their own article but do not always get it. In addition, asking permission is felt to be cumbersome and time-consuming....The attitudes of the authors on copyright issues in relation to traditional journal publishers are surprising: although most are involved in traditional journal publishing, only 2% prefer the transfer of copyright to the journal publisher and only 10% think that the publisher should handle permission requests to reuse the article. A large majority (71%) wants the authors to keep the copyright; an equally large majority wants to see the author handling permission requests as well. This is also true for the editorial board members of a traditional journal among the respondents....The ideal copyright situation according to most respondents looks like this: the author keeps all rights to reuse the article for educational, scholarly or commercial purposes. The others (readers, users) have the rights to reuse the article for educational or scholarly purposes, but do not have the rights to reuse article for commercial purposes.

(PS: Note that this survey of author attitudes applies to non-OA journals just as much to OA journals.)

JISC and SURF funded research on five copyright topics, and this report is just the first to appear. Still to come are the reports on publishing agreements, university copyright policies, copyright knowledge bank, and advocacy. Also see the JISC press release on the OA report.

Berlin4 postponed until Spring 2006

The fourth Berlin conference on open access, originally scheduled for October 5-7, 2005, has been postponed. The web page says that the conference will take place in the Spring of 2006 but doesn't yet give specific dates. Watch the page (or this blog) for details.

New issue of

The September issue of is now online. The editor's introduction is in Swedish but all the articles are in English. (Thanks to Ingegerd Rabow.)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Certifying repositories for preservation

A task force of the Research Libraries Group (RLG) and the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has published a draft Audit Checklist for Certifying Digital Repositories, August 2005. Comments on the draft will be welcome until January 2006. Excerpt:
Who can benefit? The document benefits those who work in or are responsible for digital repositories and who want to be certified against its requirements, as well as for those who execute the audit and certification process. However, the guidelines are also designed for a much broader audience --for organizations planning repositories and for producers of digital materials.

When does it come in handy? [1] For staff working within repositories: The checklist is useful in helping them to determine the criteria they need to plan for and to meet for safely storing and migrating digital materials. [2] For producers of digital materials: It also serves producers of digital materials by helping them know what to expect from the repositories they work with and how to streamline interactions with the repositories. [3] For those considering outsourcing their digital materials storage: The checklist will help organizations considering an external agency to serve their digital preservation needs to ensure that contracted organizations are executing the task adequately.

(PS: The checklist focuses on long-term preservation rather than open access or interoperability.)

WSIS working group comment on RCUK policy

The Working Group on Scientific Information for the World Summit on the Information Society has publicly released its comment (PDF) on the draft RCUK policy. Excerpt:
From the evidences that have been brought forward in those comments, it appears clearly that RCUK proposed position on access to research outputs is not only in full agreement with the recommendations of the World Summit On the Information Society (WSIS) [which the UK signed], but also with the movement of the Berlin Declaration, [and] the Commission for Africa. The RCUK proposed position is exactly in line with some of the recent recommendations of the UNESCO thematic meeting held recently in Saint-Petersburg.

More on the RCUK policy

Mark Chillingworth, ALPSP and academics fight it out over Research Councils UK IR rules, Information World Review, August 30, 2005. (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.) Excerpt:
Academics and society publishers have clashed over a potential mandate by the Research Council UK (RCUK) in support of institutional repositories. Senior academics, including web inventor Sir Tim-Berners Lee, have written an open letter to RCUK denying claims made by society publishers that the mandate will kill of journal publishing....The open letter to the RCUK was signed by Sir Berners-Lee, open access advocate Professor Stevan Harnad and academics from the University of Cambridge, Loughborough, Sheffield and Strathyclyde....ALPSPs members are concerned that if the RCUK passes its mandate subscriptions to journals published by small publishers and societies will dry up. "Institutional repositories of non-organised papers will draw away subscriptions because the articles are easier to find due to Google Scholar and because budgets are dropping," [ALPSP Chief Executive Sally Morris] said....Sir Tim and his fellow academics refute the claims made by ALPSPs, stating that ALPSPs claims that the "mandate would lead to the financial failure of scholarly journals" is "unsubstantiated" and that "all objective evidence is precisely contrary to this dire prediction". Morris said she has a meeting with RCUK to discuss the mandate, where she will ask for a delay in implementation so that publishers and societies can " evaluate what potential there is for damage." The academics have called on RCUK to "implement its immediate self archiving mandate without delay".

More on the RCUK policy: STM comment and Harnad rebuttal

The International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM) has written a critical comment on the draft RCUK policy. The comment is not online, but Stevan Harnad quotes its major arguments and offers a point by point rebuttal on his blog. Stevan has also issued a version of the rebuttal as an open letter to Ian Diamond, Chair of the RCUK Executive Group. Excerpt from the rebuttal:
The STM have written a response to the RCUK proposal in which they too, like the ALPSP, adduce reasons for delaying and modifying the implementation of the RCUK self-archiving policy. The principal substantive misunderstanding about the RCUK policy itself is that the STM is arguing as if RCUK were proposing to mandate a different publishing business model (Open Access [OA] Publishing) whereas RCUK is proposing to mandate no such thing: It is merely proposing to mandate that RCUK fundees self-archive the final author's drafts of journal articles resulting from RCUK-funded research in order to make their findings accessible to all potential users whose institutions cannot afford access to the published journal version -- in order to maximise the uptake, usage and impact of British research output. As such, the author's free self-archived version is a supplement to, not a substitute for, the journal's paid version. STM (like ALPSP) express concern that self-archiving may diminish their revenues. It is pointed out by way of reply (as was pointed out in the reply to ALPSP) that all evidence to date is in fact to the contrary. STM express concern that self-archiving will compromise peer review. It is pointed out that it is the author's peer-reviewed draft that is being self-archived. STM express concern that self-archiving the author's version will create confusion about versions: It is pointed out that for those would-be users who cannot afford the paid journal version, the author's version is incomparably better than no version at all, and indeed has been demonstrated to enhance citation impact by 50-250%. STM express concern about the costs of Institutional Repositories (IRs): It is pointed out that IRs are neither expensive nor intended as substitutes for journal publishing, so their costs are irrelevant to STM. STM then express concern that the OA publishing business model would cost more than the current subscription-based model: It is pointed out that the OA model is not what is being mandated by RCUK. None of these misunderstandings about the nature and objectives of the policy add up to a rationale for deferring or modifying the implementation of the policy in any way at all.

Update. On September 7, after Harnad's rebuttal appeared online, STM decided to put its original comment online as well.

OSI seeks policy fellows to work on OA

The Open Society Institute (OSI) has issued a call for proposals for its 2006-2007 International Policy Fellowship program. OSI will fund policy fellows from Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Mongolia, Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and the Middle East to work in any of five areas. Here's how it describes one of them: 'Open Content & Sustainability. Open Access publishing is revolutionizing scientific publishing. New alternative licensing systems like Creative Commons support decentralized information production, by making it easier for creators to share and permit re-use and modification of their work, while retaining certain rights. What are the business models that are developing around these commons-based models of sharing freely online? These cases are by and large un-documented and seem to contrast starkly with well-established economic and legal norms that rest on notions of scarcity, exclusivity and controlled access.' Proposals are due by September 20.

More on the RCUK policy

Critiques and rebuttals continue in UK open access debate, CORDIS News, August 31, 2005. An unsigned news story. (Thanks to Richard Poynder.) Excerpt:
The controversy in the UK over whether to make research papers available on the Internet free of charge has heated up over the summer, following an announcement by the UK research councils (RCUK) that it intends to make free access a condition of funding grants. The announcement has drawn critiques and counter critiques from the research community. Leading the argument against the proposal is the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) a non-profit publishing association. RCUK has many supporters however, including leading academics such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web....In a letter from ALPSP, Executive Director Sally Morris claims that the arrangement would have 'disastrous consequences' for journals. In a letter of rebuttal from a number of academics, the claim is rejected as 'all objective evidence is contrary to this dire prediction'. The letter contains a point-by-point rejection of all of ALPSP's concerns. While ALPSP argues that a policy requiring universities to self-archive their research articles in freely accessible repositories would cause libraries to cancel subscriptions, leading to the collapse of scholarly journals and the quality control and peer review process, the signatories of the letter of rebuttal believe the opposite to be true. '[N]ot only do journals thrive and co-exist alongside author self-archiving, but they can actually benefit from it - both in terms of more citations and more subscriptions,' reads the letter. They cite the Institute of Physics in the UK and the American Physical Society, neither of which have identified a loss of subscriptions as a result of self-archiving. The letter urges RCUK to implement its self-archiving mandate without further delay, and then to pursue discussions with stakeholders on how institutional repositories can collaborate with journals and their publishers. A recent international survey also found that over 80 per cent of researchers would be willing to submit their articles to institutional open access repositories.

Lessig on the public domain

Lawrence Lessig, The Public Domain, Foreign Policy, September/October 2005. Excerpt:
Within every culture, there is a public domain --a lawyer-free zone, unregulated by the rules of copyright. Throughout history, this part of culture has been vital to the spread and development of creative work. It is the part that gets cultivated without the permission of anyone else. This public domain has always lived alongside a private domain—the part of culture that is owned and regulated, that part whose use requires the permission of someone else. Through the market incentives it creates, the private domain has also produced extraordinary cultural wealth throughout the world. It is essential to how cultures develop. Traditionally, the law has kept these two domains in balance. The term of copyright was relatively short, and its reach was essentially commercial. But a fundamental change in the scope and nature of copyright law, inspired by a radical change in technology, now threatens this balance....wealthy countries everywhere are pushing to impose even tighter restrictions on the rest of the world. These legal measures will soon be supplemented by extraordinary technologies that will secure to the owners of culture almost perfect control over how “their property” is used. Any balance between public and private will thus be lost. The private domain will swallow the public domain. And the cultivation of culture and creativity will then be dictated by those who claim to own it. There is no doubt that piracy is an important problem --it’s just not the only problem. Our leaders have lost this sense of balance....The danger remains invisible to most, hidden by the zeal of a war on piracy. And that is how the public domain may die a quiet death, extinguished by self-righteous extremism, long before many even recognize it is gone.

Paris e-Science workshop

UNESCO has issued a press release to preview the Information Commons for e-Science workshop to start in Paris tomorrow. One of the four workshop objectives is to "Identify and analyze institutional, economic, policy, and legal benefits/drawbacks to providing public access to and unrestricted access of publicly funded scientific information."

More on the European response to Google Print

France pushes for European books online, EurActiv, August 31, 2005. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
While Google has announced a break in its project to scan 15 million books, France is speeding up its rival venture for a European Digital Library. At its second meeting on 30 August 2005, the Library's Advisory Council set up a number of working groups, which are to deal with issues such as financing, editorial choices, private sector co-operation and choice of a search engine. "We hope to be able to proceed quickly to taking decisions, based on the findings", Culture Minister Pierre Donnedieu said. An interim report is to be presented to President Jacques Chirac, who takes personal interest in the project, by the end of the year. While the Library's Advisory Council is composed of Frenchmen only, France is seeking co-operation from its European partners and from EU institutions, Mr. Donnedieu said. The minister also hopes for co-financing of the project by the EU. The Library project was announced by Mr. Chirac in May, together with the project of a French-German search engine, as "an essential asset for Europe in order to seize its place in the future geography of knowledge". So far, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Spain and Italy have reacted positively to France's invitation to get involved in the project. On several occasions, France has pointed to the growing importance of digital content and to the risk of this domain being dominated by US-based enterprises, such as Google's Google print service.

New issue of Webology on searching

The August issue of Webology is now online. It's devoted to search engines, esp. for scholarship and research. (Thanks to netbib.)

Google indexing v. traditional indexing

Thomas Mann, Will Google’s Keyword Searching Eliminate the Need for LC Cataloging and Classification? A presentation to the Library of Congress Professional Guild (AFSCME 2910), August 2005. (Thanks to Matt Pasiewicz.)
Abstract: Google Print does not "change everything" regarding the need for professional cataloging and classification of books; its limitations make cataloging and classification even more important to researchers. Google’s keyword search mechanism, backed by the display of results in "relevance ranked" order, is expressly designed and optimized for quick information seeking rather than scholarship. Internet keyword searching does not provide scholars with the structured menus of research options, such as those in OPAC browse displays, that they need for overview perspectives on the book literature of their topics. Keyword searching fails to map the taxonomies that alert researchers to unanticipated aspects of their subjects. It fails to retrieve literature that uses keywords other than those the researcher can specify; it misses not only synonyms and variant phrases but also all relevant works in foreign languages. Searching by keywords is not the same as searching by conceptual categories. Google software fails especially to retrieve desired keywords in contexts segregated from the appearance of the same words in irrelevant contexts. As a consequence of the design limitations of the Google search interface, researchers cannot use Google to systematically recognize relevant books whose exact terminology they cannot specify in advance. Cataloging and classification, in contrast, do provide the recognition mechanisms that scholarship requires for systematic literature retrieval in book collections.

More on the RCUK policy

Clive Cookson, Scientists reignite open access debate, Financial Times, August 31, 2005 (full-text accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
A group of computer scientists yesterday reignited the debate over access to results of publicly funded research, issuing a detailed riposte to journal publishers who oppose plans to make research freely available on the internet. The seven computer experts - including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the worldwide web, who is a professor at Southampton University - sent their analysis to Research Councils UK, the umbrella body responsible for all publicly funded research in Britain. It called on the body to stick to its proposal to make it compulsory for research papers to be deposited in open-access databases as soon as possible. Journal publishers are campaigning against the draft RCUK policy, for which a period of public consultation ends today. Sally Morris, chief executive of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, said: "We are convinced that RCUK's proposed policy will inevitably lead to the destruction of journals." Reed Elsevier, the largest commercial publisher of scientific journals, said its analysis "shows that if the RCUK proposal was implemented, access would not increase beyond current levels; current quality assurance levels could be reduced; UK higher education institutes would end up paying more for articles they can already access; the continuity and completeness of the scientific record would be threatened; and the productivity of multiple stakeholders in the UK science research community would be reduced". But the computer scientists maintain the publisher's claims are unsubstantiated, "not least because evidence has shown that not only can journals co-exist and thrive alongside author self-archiving, they can actually benefit from it. Authors, institutions, fund-ers and publishers benefit from the increased visibility, use and impact of research articles that are self-archived and freely available to all".

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Editorial in new OA journal

Thomas Stamm, Head & Face Medicine - a new journal for 'intra-interdisciplinary' science. Why? When? Where? Head & Face Medicine, August 24, 2005. The editorial in the inaugural issue. (Thanks to Oliver Obst.) Abstract:
The human head and face is the target structure of a large number of medical disciplines which are subject to a continuing trend in medical science - 'ongoing fragmentation' or, to use a better established term, 'opening up new fields'. An adverse side effect of this trend is the separation of scientists, which contributes to a breakdown in communication. Specialization is necessary, but who is able to recombine the pieces of knowledge gained in different branches of science? Who is able to trace back an effect to its cause through the whole system? What is the instrument that enables scientists to think 'laterally', or across disciplines? To be one of these instruments is the vision of Head & Face Medicine. To induce 'intra-interdisciplinary' thinking of scientists by bringing together the findings achieved by different researchers from various specialties, all exploring the same target structure - the human head and face. Head & Face Medicine's objective is to support scientists in gaining new insights from different views, to recognize patterns, to extract new thoughts, to recombine them and bring new visions to life. Evolving tools like the internet, e-publishing, Open Access and open peer review make Head & Face Medicine a cross between a traditional journal and a data stream which can be queried, analyzed and processed with the aim of increasing medical knowledge in the area of head and face medicine. These tools represent several advantages: fast publication, increase of a paper's scientific impact and ethical superiority. Head & Face Medicine looks forward to receiving your contributions.

PLoS Clinical Trials

The Public Library of Science has announced the "late 2005" launch of PLoS Clinical Trials. From the announcement:
PLoS Clinical Trials is an international peer-reviewed open-access journal that will publish results of Phase III and late Phase II human clinical trials from all medical and public health disciplines. The journal's main aim is to increase the breadth of clinical trials reporting and thus ensure that all trials on human participants can be reported in the peer-reviewed literature. PLoS Clinical Trials will provide an open-access venue in which all trials, including "negative" ones, which have been conducted ethically, reported appropriately, and registered in an internationally accepted registry, can be published swiftly and in a structured format. Submitted manuscripts will undergo rigorous peer review including statistical review and a summary of the reviews will be published as an integral part of each article." PLoS Clinical Trials will launch in late 2005; full text of articles will be deposited in PubMed Central from day one....All trials submitted to PLoS Clinical Trials must have been registered with an internationally recognized registry - such as Current Controlled Trials or The trial must have been conducted according to the Helsinki guidelines on human research and must be reported according to the CONSORT criteria. Before submitting a trial please contact our editorial staff to discuss submission of trials.

A very indirect indicator

The American Institute of Physics (AIP), the American Physical Society (APS), and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) share a building in College Park, Maryland. The building is managed by the American Center for Physics (ACP), which has no other business. ACP has issued $26 million in revenue bonds, which are secured by lease payments from the three scientific organizations. The rating on the bonds is partly a function of the financial health of those organizations, which in turn is partly a function of the "threat of open access". If you're still with me, you'll see that the ACP's bond-rating service suddenly has to investigate the fortunes of OA in physics. Today Fitch Ratings affirmed the previous AA- rating for the ACP bonds, citing this evidence:
Both AIP and APS have responded to the transition of academia from print to online publication delivery by creating online products and pricing structures that should sustain their established franchises. AIP has responded to the emergence of Open Access publishing, which is a new business model involving the author paying a flat fee to have an article made available to all. AIP offers the choice to authors of paying an upfront fee for this service for three of its journals. According to AIP management, this model has not gained enough traction to affect its operations.

(PS: Sounds like Fitch thinks that OA hasn't helped or hurt AIP so far. Right?)

BMC Veterinary Research added to PubMed Central

BMC Veterinary Research is published by the for-profit Open Access publisher, BioMed Central (BMC). It is the first BMC journal specifically dealing non-human subjects. As with all of the BMC and BMC-hosted Open Access journals, long term Open Access is assured through a number of international archiving arrangements. PubMed Central, the premier US repository of free and Open Access journals and journal archives, has added BMC Veterinary Research to its archive.

BMC Veterinary Research - Fulltext v1+ (2005+) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN: 1746-6148.

Hindawi launches its 10th OA journal

The EURASIP Journal on Signal Processing and Bioinformatics (EURASIP JSPB) is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal from Hindawi Publishing.

From the web site: 'The journal is intended to offer a common platform for scientists from several areas including signal processing, bioinformatics, statistics, biology and medicine, who are interested in the development of algorithmic, mathematical, statistical, modeling, simulation, data mining, and computational techniques, as demanded by various applications in genomics, proteomics, system biology, and more general in health and medicine.'

From today's press release: 'The journal will use an open access business model based on Article Processing Charges, which are to be paid from the research budgets of accepted authors. All articles published in this journal shall be distributed under the "Creative Commons Attribution License," which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. As the newest open access journal from Hindawi, the EURASIP Journal on Signal Processing and Bioinformatics will join the nine exiting OA journals covering the areas of biomedicine, computer engineering, applied mathematics, materials science, and mechanical engineering.'

Call for OA in Canada

Michael Geist, Canadian Education Requires More Than a Bigger Cheque, Toronto Star, August 29, 2005. There are many recommendations here. I've put the most important in bold. Excerpt:
The recent provincial premiers meeting in Banff, Alberta brought welcome news of a commitment to focus greater attention on higher education in Canada....[T]he premiers would do well to focus on three issues: distance education, access to knowledge, and an innovative research environment....Bill C-60, the copyright reform bill currently before the House of Commons, represents a step backward when it comes to the use of the Internet in Canadian education....The provinces should also demand that the federal government do more to facilitate access to knowledge. One possibility in that regard is the creation of a national digital library. Digitizing millions of Canadian books would provide students with greater access to Canadians works, while also serving as an important export of Canadian culture to the rest of the world....Increased dollars for research are always welcome, but that money should be distributed with new strings attached that link the results to open access policies. That would enable all Canadians to freely share in the fruits of the research investment, while still preserving important opportunities for commercialization. The federal government should also encourage the type of curriculum reform that increases accessibility to education. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has emerged as a world leader by providing the public with access to hundreds of lectures and other course materials. Canadian institutions should be doing the same.

Heather Morrison's comment to the RCUK

Heather Morrison, Open Letter on RCUK Position Statement on Access to Research Outputs, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, August 29, 2005. Excerpt:
[T]here is no model for providing access to research that can even potentially come close to what is possible with open access. National or provincial licensing, for example, is a wonderful thing, and a very significant improvement over individual or institutional licenses. Consider this, however: in order for a national licensing approach to meet the same level of access as open access, every nation in the world would have to have national licenses to every publication. This would be far more challenging than implementing open access....I would encourage RCUK to continue or strengthen the emphasis on rapid dissemination of results....There may be pressure, to allow for delays. My suggestion for the RCUK is to resist this pressure, and to insist instead on immediate sharing.

Researchers and open-source programmers

John Langford and Martin Pool have posted their thoughts on similarities and differences between academia and open source programming. (Thanks to Mike Lowe.) Excerpt:
Research and programming share approximately the same cost profile: A large upfront effort is required to produce something useful, and then “anyone” can use it. (The “anyone” is not quite right for either group because only sufficiently technical people could use it.)...A “wealthy” academic or open source programmer is someone who has contributed a lot to other people in research or programs. Much of academia is a “gift culture": whoever gives the most is most respected....Funding is often a problem for both groups....Both groups of people work in a mixed competitive/collaborative environment.

More on Google v. Publishers

Graeme Philipson, Copyright cop-out stifles innovation,, August 30, 2005. (Thanks to LIS News.) Excerpt:
Consider the battle between 21st-century mindsets and those of the 19th century. Earlier this month, Google halted its library program after protests from publishers who said it was breaking copyright laws and depriving them of income. Google argues it does not bypass publishers, but helps readers find books under fair use provisions of US copyright law. Google says it helps book sales and that publishers can opt out, but publishers say it should seek permission first. Publishers are saying we should pay a premium to use old technology that makes it harder to find information. They're saying that because they own the words of authors, anyone who wishes to read them should buy a book and pay money to middlemen who add nothing to the information value chain - indeed, they detract. Publishers had a role in the old world. Their job was to aggregate information and sell it in a digestible form, for which they charged money. But the internet and other technologies made publishers' roles as information clearing-house irrelevant, outdated, anachronistic and obsolete. The world has changed, but they have not. The publishers' actions highlight copyright's absurdities and the greed of its beneficiaries. They offer no justification for their actions other than a desire to protect income based on a technology and a business model invented centuries ago.

More on the RCUK policy

Donald MacLeod, Publishers make last stand against open access, The Guardian, August 30, 2005. Excerpt:
Publishers and learned societies are fighting a last ditch action to stop the research findings of thousands of British academics being made freely available online. The UK research councils, which control billions of pounds worth of funding, have announced their intention to make free access on the internet a condition of grants in a bid to give British research more impact worldwide as it is taken up and cited by other researchers. The move has been backed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, and other academics. But publishers who fear that open access will hit sales and damage the UK's 25% share in the £7bn worldwide learned journals market are lobbying hard against the proposal. Both sides believe the battle has reached a critical stage. Ian Diamond, the chief executive of Research Councils UK, the umbrella body representing the eight research councils, has proposed that from October academics archive final versions of their papers in repositories belonging to their own universities or subject bodies. These would [be peer-reviewed but not copy-edited by journals and] would be available free of charge to other researchers via the internet. This month, the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), whose members publish more than 8,000 journals, wrote privately to Prof Diamond seeking consultation and urging delay. The policy would not only damage big publishers, but also hurt scores of learned societies, which publish journals, said Sally Morris, the association's chief executive. Journals organise the all-important peer review process, which is the quality control for research - although the academics involved do it for free - and this has to be paid for somehow, she pointed out....Ms Morris conceded that those physics journals where 100% of content was open access had not lost subscriptions yet, but there was a worrying trend of academics no longer reading the journals....[A] letter to the research councils signed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Stevan Harnad, professor of cognitive science at the University of Southampton, and other advocates of open access, dismisses the publishers' fears. "Not only are these claims unsubstantiated, but all the evidence to date shows the reverse to be true: not only do journals thrive and co-exist alongside author self-archiving, but they can actually benefit from it - both in terms of more citations and more subscriptions," they said.

Monday, August 29, 2005

More on the open letter supporting the RCUK policy

Richard Wray, Publish university science for free, urges web creator, The Guardian, August 30, 2005. Excerpt:
A group of UK academics including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the world wide web, has called on the government and public bodies that fund academic research to ensure anybody can view publicly funded research for free on the system he helped develop. In an open letter to the science minister Lord Sainsbury and Research Councils UK (RCUK) - which brings together Britain's eight public backers of research - Sir Tim and seven other academics have launched a stinging attack on moves by traditional scientific publishers to prevent the public dissemination of research. They call on the RCUK to press ahead with plans to mandate its funded researchers to place a copy of their research in an online archive, usually connected with a university, as soon as possible and preferably at the same time as it appears in a subscription-based journal. "Due to the current constraints on the accessibility of research results, the potential of British scholarship is not being maximised," the letter reads. "Yet the constraints on accessibility can now, in the digital age, be eliminated completely, to the benefit of the UK economy and society, exactly in the way RCUK has proposed."...Earlier this month the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), which represents not-for-profit academic publishers, warned that pressing ahead with open access "would accelerate the move to a disastrous scenario in which the free availability of 'good enough' versions of journal articles will allow cash-strapped librarians to save money by cancelling subscriptions". The letter, signed by Sir Tim, chairman of the school of electronics and computer science at Southampton University, alongside open access proponent and fellow Southampton University academic Professor Stevan Harnad, includes a line-by-line rebuttal of the ALPSP's arguments against open access....In their letter, the supporters of open access produce evidence that in physics - where self-archiving has been carried out for years - major learned societies "cannot identify any loss of subscriptions to their journals as a result of this critical mass of self-archived and readily retrievable physics articles".

Theory of Computing -- an OA journal

Theory of Computing (ToC) is an Open Access theoretical computer science journal. The journal was inspired by the mass resignation of the editorial board from the Journal of Algorithms. Included as a special section within Theory of Computing (ToC) is Quantum Computing. Perhaps reflecting the journal's origins, one finds tabs on the main page for both Articles and Issues. Articles, as one may imagine, leads to articles on the theory of computing. Issues provides an essay, "Crisis in the cost of journals", and a page of links related to Open Access. ToC is ensuring long-term availability of their articles both through mirror sites (University of Chicago, IIT Kanpur, SzTAKI (Budapest), KTH (Stockholm), ANU (Canberra) and the University of South Africa) and by depositing all articles in CoRR (Computing Research Repository), the computer science portion of CoRR is jointly sponsored by ACM, the e-Print archive, NCSTRL (Networked Computer Science Technical Reference Library), and the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). Theory of Computing - Fulltext v1+ (2005+); ISSN: 1557-2862.

What is open scholarship in Biblical Studies?

Edward Cook asked What is open-source biblical studies? and Tim Bulkeley offered an answer. Excerpt:
I'd like to reword [the question in order to] avoid (or at least soften) the implied analogy with Open Source Software, and talk about "Open Biblical Studies" and more generally "Open Scholarship". Here's what I mean: Open Scholarship would be: [1] open to as many readers as possible - by implied contrast to scholarship which is more concerned with communicating only with professionals, based in the Western world, with access to good library resources, Open Biblical Studies would publish in ways that use digital media to make the publications available to anyone who wants to access them (cheaply or ideally freely), [2] open to collaboration - traditional Biblical Scholarship has largely been conducted by individuals in their studies, and only communicated to others when (nearly) polished and the ideas (more or less) firmed - Open Biblical Studies would prefer work by teams, communicating and discussing using digital media and together sharpening and polishing, while not losing individual difference, [3] open in its creation - traditional BS has been the preserve of "professional" scholars (and a few talented, trained and usually relatively wealthy) amateurs - Open Biblical Studies would welcome any and all (who demonstrate the necessary knowledge and skills, or the ability and desire to develop them), [4] scholarly, unless Open Biblical Studies submits itself to peer review (or some process that ensures similar rigorous standards) it would not be scholarship!

Digital library projects

Here are two superb wiki-based collections of digital library projects. It's a fair assumption that most of the listed projects are OA, although their access status is not indicated in either collection. Both lists are user-editable. If they're missing a project that you know about, add it.
  1. List of digital library projects from Wikipedia is organized by topic or field.
  2. DigiMisc from Klaus Graf is organized both by field and country. The annotations are in German.

What Google will give to cooperating publishers and libraries

Barbara Quint has corrected some of her earlier accounts of the Google Print project. At the same time she gives details missing from every other account that I've seen to date. Excerpt:
Google does not supply participants in the Google Print program with digital, “e-book” versions of the print books digitized from publisher inventories or library collections. Publishers receive no digital copies of any kind. The five giant research libraries working with Google Print for Libraries do receive digital page images and text files representing the OCR (optical character recognition) of the text. However, these are not anything like e-books, e.g., PDF downloadable files.

Letters on Ken Peach article

Ken Peach's article on open access in the June/August CERN Courier (blogged here June 10) has elicited some letters to the editor. (Thanks to Jens Vigen.)

Letter from Frank Zimmerman of CERN (excerpt): 'In the field of accelerator physics a major fraction of our literature is nowadays made available through open-access publications. Our main conference series, i.e. PAC, EPAC, and APAC, are all published as open-access through JACoW. Our scientific articles are to a large extent submitted to Physical Review Special Topics - Accelerators and Beams (PRST-AB), a peer-reviewed, all-electronic journal published by the American Physical Society. The journal is available to everyone without subscription or pay-per-view fees and even without author charges, all thanks to the support of sponsors. PRST-AB has quickly become the primary means of communicating new results in accelerator physics, but so far, unfortunately, no European institutions are among its sponsors. I hope that this situation will soon change to ensure the continuity of open-access publishing in accelerator physics.'

Letter from Martin Blume, editor-in-chief of APS (excerpt): 'Ken Peach's article on open access was met, on my part, with a combination of a grain of salt and wry amusement. The American Physical Society started an all-electronic open-access journal called Physical Review Special Topics - Accelerators and Beams that has been successfully published since 1998. The journal has been endorsed by the Division of the Physics of Beams of the APS and the Accelerators Group of the European Physical Society. It has been supported by sponsorship contributions from large accelerator laboratories in the US and Canada, with no charges either to authors or to readers. This only partially covers its costs, and the shortfall has to be made up by the APS. This is sustainable in the short term, but becomes an increasing burden as more articles than the current 10 per month are published. Periodically I hear of endorsement by one or another part of CERN for open-access journals, but in spite of occasional requests CERN has declined to become a sponsor of PRST-AB. To date 52 articles have been published with one or more CERN authors, and more have been based on results from CERN accelerators. Isn't it time that CERN - one of, if not the, largest accelerator laboratories in the world - came forward?'

Letter from Burton Richter, SLAC (excerpt): 'Ken Peach advocates open access to scientific literature...but doesn't deal with who will pay for the essential services that the journal publishers provide. Two that concern me are archiving and keeping up on the rest of physics. In the open-access world, who will be responsible for keeping research results available for the long term? I can now access any article published in more than 100 years of existence of the Physical Review. In this case the American Physical Society has taken responsibility for keeping the material available as computer operating systems evolve and as storage media change. This needs to be paid for and it is part of the subscription fee that would be abolished in the new world....[I] want to keep up with other areas [outside my specialization], and have neither the expertise nor the time to sort through everything to find the important article that might be submitted to a site open to everything. The journals, their editors, and their referees do the screening for me. If we are not all to become narrow specialists, this needs to be paid for too.'

Letter from Tord Ekelöf, chair of the organizing committee for Lepton-Photon 2005 (excerpt): 'I would like to support Ken Peach's viewpoint that the community of high-energy physicists needs to take more initiative in favour of open-access publishing. Clearly, the question of how to cover the costs for such publishing is not trivial. However, in the case of conference proceedings the conference organizers are responsible for the financing of the publication and it should therefore not be a problem to apply the principles of open-access publishing at least in this case. Some publishers are in fact quite receptive to open-access publication, but one must, of course, bring the issue up when negotiating the publishing order. As an example of this, I can report that the organizing committee of the Lepton-Photon 2005 symposium has negotiated with World Scientific to publish the proceedings in a limited number of paper copies as well in an open-access electronic version. The publishing agreement stipulates that the conference organizer shall buy a minimum number of paper copies from World Scientific, but also that the publishers shall make the proceedings available on the Web, allowing free access to all interested parties.'

Comment. Just a quick reply to Burton Richter's letter. He is assuming that OA journals have no revenue or subsidy. OA does not presuppose that journal publishing is costless. It merely looks for other ways to pay the bills than to charge readers (or their libraries) and thereby create access barriers. The question is whether there are viable OA business models in a given field, not whether a journal without resources will meet our needs.

Reminder: Just two days left

Comments on the draft RCUK open-access policy are due two days from today, on August 31, 2005. Send them to Dr. Astrid Wissenburg.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Blurry snapshot of the state of OA journals

Open access biomedical publishing enters critical stage, Beinentanz Buzz Letter, August 2005. A brief, unsigned snapshot of the state of OA journals, which mistakenly assumes that they all charge author-side fees and that authors pay the fees out of pocket. The conclusion is no better than the premises: 'Open access publishing has, however, a second front it is attacking from. Scores of publishers in Third World countries are turning to this distribution model as selling print subscriptions to cash-strapped libraries is becoming increasingly difficult. Following the inevitable consolidation phase, some journals might grow to become reputable leaders in their respective fields - at which point their publishers, if commercially minded, might come to the conclusion that they have more to gain from serving the needs of subscribers than tending to those authors who are willing to spend the most cash.'

Frequently updated online scholarship

Heather Morrison, Embracing the medium: 1, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, August 27, 2005. On works of online scholarship that are updated too often for conventional certification to keep pace. Heather's example is Open Access News.

Journal of Translational Medicine added to Web of Science

Journal of Translational Medicine has recently been added to the list of journals indexed by ISI, the Institute for Scientific Information, for inclusion in Science Citation Index Expanded. Journal of Translational Medicine is the 25th (see complete list of indexed journals) BMC hosted or published journal to be indexed by ISI.

Journal of Translational Medicine - Fulltext v1+ (2003+); ISSN: 1860-5397.

Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry publishes first articles

Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry (BJOC) has started publication. BJOC is the first non-biomedical journal to be hosted by BioMed Central and the 76th independent, Open Access journal to be hosted by BMC. BJOC is published by the Beilstein Institut.

Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry - Fulltext v1+ (2005+); ISSN: 1860-5397.

[Thanks to Steve Heller.]