Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Harnad response to THES article

Stevan Harnad, Letter to Times Higher Education Supplement, September 25, 2005. A response to the THES article by Laura Barnett and Hanna Hindstrom blogged here on 9/23. Excerpt:
The Research Councils UK have proposed to mandate that all RCUK fundees make their articles openly accessible online by self-archiving them on the web. In a disappointingly inaccurate THES article (“All research to go online” Sep 23), the authors get most of the important details wrong....Not only is it not open access publishing but open access self-archiving (of their own articles, published in subscription-only journals) that the RCUK is mandating for their researchers, but this does not mean that their researchers will no longer rely on their institutions to provide access to the journals they subscribe to: How could my giving away my own published articles online provide me with access to the articles in the journals my institution subscribes to?...[Citing the £2.5 million/year of lost salary increases] simply leaves out altogether...the far more important £1.5 billion loss in potential returns on the British public’s yearly £3.5 billion pound investment in research (in the form of at least 50% more citations). Nor is this an if/then pipe-dream: The projections are based on objective, published measurements of the degree to which self-archiving increases research impact....But by far the worst inaccuracy in the THES article – and it really does a disservice to those who pin their hopes on the RCUK policy for maximising British research impact -- is the gratuitous exaggeration of what is a real but remediable flaw in the current wording of the RCUK proposal. The current draft says, “Deposit should take place at the earliest opportunity, wherever possible at or around the time of publication.” But the THES article instead says: “Under the proposals from Research Councils UK, published work would not necessarily go online immediately. Academics and publishers would be allowed a grace period, which could last anywhere from a few months up to several years. The publisher would determine the exclusion period.”...The last piece of nonsense is this: “Universities are not obliged to implement a repository system, which costs about £80,000 to set up and about £40,000 a year in maintenance.”...But the cost of creating and maintaining a repository is in reality less than 10% of the arbitrary and inflated figures cited by THES.

More on OA to clinical drug trial data

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) has launched a clinical trials portal. From the site: 'The portal has been designed as a single entry allowing you to search for comprehensive information on on-going clinical trials (registry) or results of completed trials (database) conducted by the innovative pharmaceutical industry.' Excerpt from the press release:
The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) today announced the launch of its new IFPMA Clinical Trials Portal. Developed in conjunction with information technology leader IBM, it is the first internet search engine constructed specifically to link to on-line information made available by the innovative pharmaceutical industry about clinical trials worldwide....The Portal’s search engine has been programmed to access relevant on-line sources of clinical trial information. These include individual pharmaceutical company sites, sites run by third parties working on behalf of these companies, pharmaceutical industry association resources, such as the US pharmaceutical industry association (PhRMA) site...and government sites which routinely carry details of industry trials, such as the US National Library of Medicine’s [ClinicalTrials.Gov]. Other on-line clinical trial information resources, such as the European Union’s planned Europharm facility, may be linked to as and when they become available....The IFPMA Clinical Trials Portal helps to fulfil the commitment made by the researchbased pharmaceutical industry in its “Joint Position on the Disclosure of Clinical Trial Information via Clinical Trial Registries and Databases”, issued in January provide a coherent industry blueprint for improving clinical trial transparency.

For more details, see the FAQ, search directions, or glossary.

The rise of institutional repositories

Nadya Anscombe, Archive programmes gain momentum, Research Information, October/November 2005. Excerpt:
The internet has dramatically changed the way that academic institutions around the world safeguard their research results and make them accessible to a wider audience. Many universities now have an institutional repository - a web-based, electronic, open archive of papers, theses and many other kinds of data. In some countries, such as the Netherlands, every single university has an institutional repository and in others, such as the UK, around 60 per cent have one, but the rest are at least planning one. Italy has fewer - research has shown that there are around 77 universities but only 11 institutional repositories - while in Germany there seem to be more institutional repositories than there are universities because many of the individual research institutes have their own. While institutional repositories are very valuable tools for academics and the institutions they work for, publishers of academic journals could have cause for concern. 'Until now, most publishers have not been worried about letting authors post an early version of papers somewhere on the internet,' says Sally Morris, chief executive of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP). 'But imagine if all these individual articles (albeit not necessarily final versions) were linked up through networked institutional repositories. It could happen that the majority of papers from a particular journal become available for any researcher to find. This could lead cash-strapped libraries to stop buying that journal, which would make it no longer viable.' Until now, institutional repositories have not obviously harmed publishers' businesses. For example, the physics community has one of the longest running and most comprehensive subject-based repositories (ARXIV), but some leading physics publishers say that it has not affected their subscriptions so far....[M]any organisations are pushing hard to encourage the development and usage of institutional repositories. [Here Anscombe summarizes the NIH, Wellcome Trust, and RCUK policies.]...Research suggests that authors will comply with these [funder] requests. A report commissioned by the UK's Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) found that the vast majority of authors (81 per cent) would willingly comply with a mandate from their employer or research funder to deposit copies of their articles in an institutional or subject-based repository. A further 13 per cent would comply reluctantly while only five per cent say that they would not comply with such a mandate. At the time of the survey only 30 per cent of respondents were using specialised search engines to navigate open-access repositories while 72 per cent of authors were using Google to search the web for scholarly articles. The subsequent arrival of GoogleScholar, which indexes the content of open-access repositories as well as general websites, will probably increase the level by which institutional repositories are searched and therefore on the impact of the articles deposited in them....The main problem now, however, is encouraging people to use the repository system.

PubChem grows again

PubChem now includes structures from ChemDB.

OA and other changes coming

Ann C. Weller, Electronic Scientific Information, Open Access, and Editorial Peer Review: Changes on the Horizon, Science & Technology Libraries, September 23, 2005. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:
This paper reviews some of the many changes to publishing resulting from the electronic environment and focuses on how open access may impact or alter the editorial peer review process. Developments of particular importance to editorial peer review include the impact of electronic journals (e-journals) on scholarly publishing in general, pre-print repositories, open access journals, and access to unpublished data. New pricing models are changing the economics of scholarly publishing, and there are promises of quick reviews that may impact the peer review process itself. The paper ends with a discussion of the role the government is playing in developing a workable open access model.

Temporary mirrors of Bailey sites

Charles W. Bailey, Jr. is located at the University of Houston, in the path of Hurricane Rita. To keep his valuable web sites online in case the U of Houston server goes down, Roy Tennant has agreed to mirror them at his personal server. Here are three of Charles' web sites at their temporary new locations:
  1. Open Access Bibliography
  2. Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography
  3. Public-Access Computer Systems Review
Thanks, Roy! Good luck, Charles!

Friday, September 23, 2005

New OA journal in anthropology

The University of California has launched Structure and Dynamics: eJournal of Anthropological and Related Sciences, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal whose inaugural issue is now online. S&D is one of California's eScholarship Repository Journals. Here's an excerpt from the introduction to the inaugural issue by Douglas White and the four other editors:
Today the electronic journals stand in complementary relationship to the standard journals. As their potential is realized, we believe they will supplant the standard journals as the medium of choice. This will happen for five reasons. First, the technology permits the rapid and painless submission of articles and reviews. The numerous and onerous submission requirements typically found in paper journals are eliminated. Electronic journal sites on the internet automatically guide authors through submission, alert the editors to new submissions and set up the process of review. Second, submissions can be quickly channeled to several individuals who are part of or newly added to our international pool of reviewers and whose accomplishments enable them to comment on the author’s work. This review process is orchestrated by an editor and also consists of constructive exchanges between the reviewers and the author for the development of the article rather than simply acceptance or rejection. Third, electronic journals are not static. Published articles invite comments and further reviews that can be posted with the original article on the web site and, hence, provide an open forum moderated by an editor. Communication between those in debate stands in parity with the development of the discipline. Further, interactive materials consisting of uploaded data, expanded illustrations, dynamic graphics, video and film clips, soundtracks, and interactive software can be made accessible from the links in the article itself, and references can link to permanently accessible offsite resources. Fourth, subscribed readers of the electronic journal can be notified when articles in their areas of interest appear and can thus be assisted in their search for pertinent materials, including those cited in the numerous paper journals by our authors. Readers can electronically transfer and collect key articles in their subfields. And, fifth, electronic publications and related materials can be offered free of charge when the infrastructural investment has already been made by an educational institution such as the University of California. This makes it possible to freely and widely disseminate research articles to colleagues and students. For this great boon, Structure and Dynamics in particular is much indebted to and appreciative of the Berkeley Electronic Press, the UC Office of the President and UC eScholarship, the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences at UC Irvine, members of our focused research group in Social Dynamics and Evolution, and to all our reviewers.
(Thanks to Leslie Chan.)

Update from the RCUK

The RCUK has issued a new press release (September 21) to bring everyone up to date on its draft OA policy. Excerpt:
Following the end of a period of consultation over the summer, Research Councils UK (RCUK) is maintaining momentum on its proposed position on access to research outputs. A final announcement is expected in November....The Research Councils are considering the inputs to the consultation through a cross-council working group and are expected to make a decision in late October....[Dr. Astrid Wissenburg] added, “The Research Councils are committed to an ongoing process of consultation and dialogue with publishers, learned societies and other stakeholders who will be affected by the proposed position. The position that we outlined in June includes a commitment to a review in 2008. This will be informed by a study conducted in consultation with key stakeholders. The schedule we are working to allows time for interactions to continue and for us to see what the effects of a change to the publishing model may be.” As a final announcement is not expected until November there will be no implications for Research Council grants in October as originally proposed. It is more likely that any changes in grant conditions for Research Council funded researchers will only come into effect for grants awarded after early 2006.

Lessig backs Google against Authors Guild

Lawrence Lessig, Google Sued, a blog posting, September 22, 2005. (Thanks to Ross Scaife.) Excerpt:
It is 1976 all over again. Then, like now, content owners turned to the courts to stop an extraordinary new technology. Then, like now, copyright is the weapon of choice. But then, like now, the content owners of course don’t really want the court to stop the new technology. Then, like now, they simply want to be paid for the innovations of someone else. Then, like now, the content owners ought to lose. This is the best case to illustrate the story I told at the start of Free Culture. Property law since time immemorial had held that your land reached from the ground to the heavens. Then airplanes were invented — a technology oblivious to this ancient law. A couple of farmers sued to enforce their ancient rights — insisting airplanes can’t fly over land without their permission. And thus the Supreme Court had to decide whether this ancient law — much older than the law of copyright — should prevail over this new technology. The Supreme Court’s answer was perfectly clear: Absolutely not. “Common sense revolts at the idea,” Justice Douglas wrote. And with that sentence, hundreds of years of property law was gone, and the world was a much wealthier place. So too should common sense revolt at the claims of this law suit. I’m an academic, so this is a bit biased, but: Google Print could be the most important contribution to the spread of knowledge since Jefferson dreamed of national libraries. It is an astonishing opportunity to revive our cultural past, and make it accessible. Sure, Google will profit from it. Good for them. But if the law requires Google (or anyone else) to ask permission before they make knowledge available like this, then Google Print can’t exist. Given the total mess of copyright records, there is absolutely no way to enable this sort of access to our past while asking permission of authors up front. Or at least, even if Google could afford that cost, no one else could. Google’s use is fair use. It would be in any case, but the total disaster of a property system that the Copyright Office has produced reinforces the conclusion that Google’s use is fair use. And for all those people who devoted years of their life to defend the right to p2p file-sharing — here’s your chance to show what this battle is really about: Google wants to do nothing more to 20,000,000 books than it does to the Internet: it wants to index them, and it offers anyone in the index the right to opt out. If it is illegal to do that with 20,000,000 books, then why is it legal to do it with the Internet? The “authors’” claims, if true, mean Google itself is illegal. Common sense, or better, commons sense, revolts at the idea. And so too should you.

More on the RCUK policy

Laura Barnett and Hanna Hindstrom, All research to go online, Times Higher Education Supplement, September 23, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
Government-funded researchers could be required to post their publications online from next April....Consultation on the RCUK proposals closed last month. RCUK expects to implement the proposals by April 2006, pending agreement with the Office of Science and Technology....Tim Berners-Lee, father of the worldwide web, has expressed his backing for the proposal. Together with representatives of Cambridge, Loughborough, Sheffield and Strathclyde universities, he wrote to Ian Diamond, chair of the RCUK executive group. The letter states: "We believe that the RCUK should go ahead and implement its immediate self-archiving mandate, without delay." Other supporters of open-access publishing claim that there could be significant financial benefits for ordinary researchers, whose citations would rise dramatically as a result of open-access publishing. Stevan Harnad, professor of cognitive science at Southampton University, said that if citations rose by 50 to 250 per cent because of online open-access publishing [PS: he probably said OA archiving, not OA publishing], researchers could gain more than £2.5 million a year in potential salary increases, grants and funding renewals....Adrian Pugh, policy and support manager for the RCUK secretariat, told The Times Higher: "The real issue is making research readily available. We will continue to engage with interested parties --it is still a live topic." He added that the RCUK did not wish to see any curtailment of the potential benefits of onlinle self-archiving, either in terms of revenue and access.

(PS: The draft RCUK policy says that the planned implementation date is October 1, 2005. All of us have heard rumors that the date might be extended until April 2006, but this article is the first public statement of the rumor. The April date has still not been officially confirmed.)

Response to Frank and Glassroth on the NIH policy

Peter Suber, The NIH open access plan, Washington Times, September 23, 2005. My letter to the editor in response to Martin Frank and Jeff Glassroth's September 14 op-ed on the NIH public-access policy. Since the newspaper link to my letter will point to a different letter tomorrow, I've posted a copy of the full text to SOAF in order to make it easy to find again later. Excerpt:
(2) Messrs. Frank and Glassroth complain that the NIH (the world's largest funder of medical research) "underwrites only about 10 percent of the research published each year." What bothers them is hard to discern. It seems to be that users will not get the full picture if they rely only on NIH-funded research. True. But thanks to skyrocketing journal prices, it's also true that users will not get the full picture if they rely only on the holdings of a medical school library. Instead of praising a gigantic first step toward more adequate access, they criticize its incompleteness, as if no literature should be easy to access until all of it is. (3) They complain that the manuscripts the NIH will put online will be peer-reviewed but not copy-edited. They cite errors that survive peer review but are caught by copy editors. They could just as easily have cited errors that survive both layers of scrutiny [or errors added by copy editing]....If the problem is making fallible literature easier to access, then all published literature should be harder to access, slowing medical research to a crawl. If the problem is reducing the quality of literature available to the public, then it's illusory. Free online access to peer-reviewed medical research raises the average quality of free online medical claims. If the problem is depriving the public of the marginal improvements provided by copy-editing, then the solution lies in the hands of publishers, like Mr. Frank, who complain about it. The NIH policy allows publishers to replace the authors' version of the peer-reviewed manuscript with the published, copy-edited version. Mr. Frank is the Executive Director of the American Physiological Society, which publishes 14 journals. He could solve the problem he cites and set an example for other publishers if he would take advantage of this opportunity afforded by the NIH....(5) Messrs. Frank and Glassroth...[compare] research to wheat. "The government also subsidizes wheat growers, but they still sell their grain, and no reasonable person asks those who produce bread from that wheat to give their bread away for free." This is a very bad analogy. Wheat is rivalrous (to use a term from economics), which means that possession or consumption by one person excludes possession or consumption by others. But knowledge is non-rivalrous. It can be shared by everyone without diminishing possession or consumption by anyone. There is a huge difference, therefore, between giving taxpayers free access to publicly-subsidized wheat and giving taxpayers free access to publicly-subsidized knowledge. (6)...The cost of the NIH program is $2 million to $4 million per year, which comes to 0.01 percent of the NIH's $28 billion budget. Study after study has shown that free online access increases the impact of research literature, as measured by citations, 50 percent to 250 percent. Free online access makes NIH research more useful, which is good for science, good for taxpayers and good for health care.

EC consultation on digital publishing

The European Commission (EC) has launched a public consultation on the publishing industry in the digital age.

From the press release (September 20):

A public consultation on how to enhance the competitiveness of the publishing sector in the EU’s increasingly digital economy was launched by the European Commission today. Replies to this consultation, which are expected by mid-November 2005, should help EU policy makers to better understand the needs and challenges of Europe’s publishing industry....The starting point of the consultation launched today is a Commission study on factors affecting publishing industry competitiveness indicators. The study indicates that innovation and reform are major challenges facing the EU publishing industry....Comments by all interested parties are invited, inter alia, on: obstacles to the take-up of information and communication technologies; business models, including digital rights management systems; media ownership structures; differing regulatory traditions (licensed broadcast media, unlicensed press); and advertising rules.

This consultation is about media publishing, including newspapers, and is not the same as the EC inquiry into STM publishing and OA announced in June 2004 (and still ongoing). For example, the Commission Staff working paper for the new consultation, Strengthening the Competitiveness of the EU Publishing Sector, does not mention open access or the special circumstances of scientific publishing. However, the new consultation is broad enough to make recommendations on OA in connection with some of the named topics, such as competitiveness, business models, DRM, ownership, and licensing. So even if your interests are limited to OA, which I hope is not true of anyone, don't hesitate to send in your comments.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Two chemists resign from ACS in protest

Random Samples: Society Matters, Science Magazine, September 23, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
Two members of an American Chemical Society (ACS) committee have resigned to protest what they say is the society's tight-lipped handling of its battle against a free federal chemical database. The flap involves the National Institutes of Health's (NIH's) PubChem, which ACS leaders see as a threat to the fee-based Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS)....At an ACS meeting in late August in Washington, D.C., member David Spellmeyer distributed fliers announcing that the issue would be discussed at the open meeting of ACS's Joint Board-Council Committee. But CAS president Robert Massie told the crowd there was no time and that those with PubChem questions could talk to an ACS spokesperson. That was the last straw for Spellmeyer, an IBM researcher, and informatics expert Gary Wiggins of Indiana University, Bloomington, who chose to resign from the committee. "It's mostly because they're not talking about it openly," says Wiggins. ACS spokesperson Nancy Blount says ongoing negotiations with NIH require "confidentiality" and that the council's chair must approve additions to the agenda. But "we do take seriously the request for more communication," she says.

Also see Gary Wiggins' open letter of September 13 explaining his reasons for resigning.

More on the OECD report

The paperless library, The Economist, September 22, 2005. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
The internet --and pressure from funding agencies, who are questioning why commercial publishers are making money from government-funded research by restricting access to it-- is making free access to scientific results a reality. This week, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued a report describing the far-reaching consequences of this. The report, by John Houghton of Victoria University in Australia and Graham Vickery of the OECD, makes heavy reading for publishers who have, so far, made handsome profits. It signals a change in what has, until now, been a key element of scientific endeavour. The value of knowledge and the return on the public investment in research depends, in part, upon wide distribution and ready access. It is big business. In America, the core scientific publishing market is estimated at between $7 billion and $11 billion....According to the OECD report, some 75% of scholarly journals are now online. Entirely new business models are emerging; three main ones were identified by the report's authors. There is the so-called big deal, where institutional subscribers pay for access to a collection of online journal titles through site-licensing agreements. There is open-access publishing, typically supported by asking the author (or his employer) to pay for the paper to be published. Finally, there are open-access archives, where organisations such as universities or international laboratories support institutional repositories. Other models exist that are hybrids of these three, such as delayed open-access, where journals allow only subscribers to read a paper for the first six months, before making it freely available to everyone who wishes to see it....The advantages afforded by the internet mean that primary data is becoming available freely online. Indeed, quite often the online paper has a direct link to it. This means that reported findings are more readily replicable and checkable by other teams of researchers. Moreover, online publication offers the opportunity for others to comment on the research. Research is also becoming more collaborative so that, before they have been finalised, papers have been reviewed by several authors. This central tenet of scholarly publishing is changing, too.

OECD report now online

The OECD has posted its report on Scientific Publishing and an accompanying press release. (Both were blogged here on September 15 based on preview editions.)

Studying the studies

Karla Hahn, Seeking a Global Perspective on Scholarly Communication: Contributions from the UK, ARL Bimonthly Report 241, August 2005. Excerpt:
How long does it take first-time submitters to self-archive a work through the Internet? How do librarians and publishers feel about the concept of a national site license for a collection of journal titles? These questions about our current scholarly communication system are addressed in recent reports commissioned in the United Kingdom....It is perhaps beyond obvious that librarians and publishers have different opinions about the success and viability of possible new business models for journal publishing. The Rightscom study commissioned by JISC both documents the gap in perspective and looks at reactions to a set of potential new business models. The business models considered range from a national site license to several pay-per-view options to several models that create open access....It is no surprise to find that the librarians interviewed emphasized the need for wide access to a broad base of resources. Both pay-per-view, particularly user-based pay-per-view, and bundled models were not attractive to librarians. In contrast, publishers emphasized that declines in profitability were unacceptable and that greater overall levels of investment in journal collections were needed to accommodate growing volumes of scholarly output. Libraries and publishers tended to view each other as excessively wedded to print publishing. Publishers reported they were neutral on open access....The report findings underscore that all business models involve trade-offs. Clear dissatisfaction with the status quo was documented as well. Given the fundamental differences in objectives and concerns between publishers and librarians and the diversity of benefits obtained by different institutions within higher education, the findings highlight the complexity of identifying viable new models for journal publishing....

Turning from the world of buying and selling journal subscriptions to look at authors, a fascinating study on author responses to open access was commissioned by JISC and reported by Key Perspectives, Ltd. Using data collected late in 2004, the report is based on survey responses from almost 1,300 authors from around the globe....The study examined awareness of the ability to self-archive works and the attitudes and experiences of those authors who had archived works. Respondents also reported on their choice of open access journals to publish articles....Nearly half of the respondents reported having archived a work. Self-archiving was defined quite broadly to include both posting a work to a Web site and depositing a work in a repository that complies with the Open Archives Initiative (OAI). While Web posting was quite common, repository deposit was substantial. In many categories, deposit of refereed works had doubled since an earlier survey in January of 2004. These findings document that institutional and disciplinary repositories have made remarkable headway in changing scholars’ behavior in a surprisingly short period of time....Anxious to examine how onerous authors find self-archiving to be, the authors of the study gathered data on author perceptions of the ease of deposit and the amount of time required. Reassuringly, 54% of respondents described their first self-archiving experience as easy or very easy; however, 20% reported some level of difficulty....Since it seems that most authors have little actual difficulty depositing works, the question arises “Why don’t more authors take advantage of self-deposit of their works?” The most common objective respondents cited for undertaking their publishing activities was to communicate their research results to their peers, an objective consonant with self-archiving. The answer to the question “Why not?” appears to be unawareness of the availability of self-archiving mechanisms. Of those who had not used self-archiving, 71% reported being unaware of the option. Lack of awareness of this option varied by discipline but ranged from 86% in the medical sciences to 40% in library and information sciences....Perhaps the most interesting question asked by the survey was how authors would respond to mandated deposit of works into OAI-compliant repositories instituted by employers or funding agencies. Nearly 80% of respondents indicated they would comply with such a mandate willingly while less than 7% indicated that they would not comply.

EFF predicts Google victory

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) believes that the Authors Guild will lose its copyright suit against Google. Excerpt from its statement yesterday:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) applauds Google's effort to create the digital equivalent of a library card catalog, and believes the company has a strong case. "Just as libraries don't need to pay publishers when they create a card catalog, neither should Google or other search engines be required to when they create an improved digital equivalent," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. In defending the lawsuit, Google is relying on the copyright principle of fair use, which allows the public to copy works without having to ask permission or pay licensing fees to copyright holders. EFF believes Google is likely to prevail on its defense. One key point in Google's favor is that Google Print is a transformative use of these books -- the company is creating a virtual card catalog to assist people in finding relevant books, rather than creating replacements for the books themselves. In addition, it is almost certain that Google Print will boost, rather than hurt, the market for the copyrighted books. "It's easy to see how Google Print can stimulate demand for books that otherwise would lay undiscovered in library stacks," said von Lohmann. "It's hard to see how it could hurt publishers or authors."For additional legal analysis, EFF recommends the white paper, "The Google Print Library Project: A Copyright Analysis," recently published by noted DC copyright attorney Jonathan Band of Policy Bandwidth.

Return to a 14 year term of copyright plus one 14 year renewal

Citizens of the UK can sign a petition "to restore a balance long lost by returning copyright to its original term as laid down in the Statute of 14 years with the option of a 14 year renewal."

Comment on Authors Guild suit against Google

John Blossom, Google Sued by Authors: When is "May I" Necessary? Commentary, September 21, 2005. Excerpt:
As demonstrated by Google's Cathy Gordon at last week's ASIDIC conference, snippets exposed of copyrighted works [exposed by Google Library] tend to be fairly small. But what does one make of entire short poems being exposed, as in this example from plaintiff and poet Daniel Hoffman? If we want ever to read "In the Days of Rin-Tin-Tin" we're good to go indefinitely. But given that the use is non-commercial, that there are only a few sample poems exposed, and that there are links from the sample pages to commercial outlets for the content, it's hard to imagine that this exposure is commercially harmful. Moreover, there's actually somewhat less content exposed in this example from Google Print than for the same title seen via Amazon's "Search Inside the Book" feature. Mr. Hoffman et al. need to consider carefully what benefit their suit has to the future of print-centric authors in an era in which fewer and fewer of their works are going to be thumbed through in local bookstores. Poetry is a particularly interesting example: it's slow-moving merchandise that takes a certain commitment on the behalf of bookstore owners to support. Google has been on the defensive lately with its efforts to make copyrighted content part of the natural flow of online searches, but at the end of the day they seem to be toeing the fuzzy line on excerpts from copyrighted materials as best they can in ways that can only benefit marginal authors. The issue is not making copies, but rather whether the use made of copies is fair. The Authors Guild addresses many issues important to the future of individuals trying to profit from their writing skills, but the scope and focus this suit seems to be ill-directed and counterproductive towards furthering the future of profitable authoring in today's electronic content environment.
(PS: Note that the legislative history of the section on fair use (§107) of the US Copyright Act says that in the case of poems shorter than 250 words, copying the entire text may be fair use.)

Health information abstracts now online

Abstracts of the presentations from Commitment to Equity: 9th World Congress on Health Information and Libraries (Salvador - Bahia, Brazil, September 20-23, 2005), are now online. Many are OA-related.

University of Michigan defends Google library project

Yesterday the University of Michigan issued a statement on the Google library project. The statement was written by James Hilton, associate provost and interim librarian. Excerpt:
The Google library project will transform the way we do research and scholarship. For the first time, everyone will be able to search the written record of human knowledge. It also allows libraries to create a digital archive that preserves this material for all time. Only libraries are tasked by the public with the responsibility of archiving all the world's written works. No other entity can take on this responsibility. We continue to be enthusiastic about our partnership with Google, and we are confident that this project complies with copyright law. The overarching purpose of copyright law is to promote progress in society. In doing so, it is always a balancing act between the limited rights of the author and the rights of the public. It is important to note that we will not be sharing the full text of copyrighted works with the public. The Google library project will point searchers toward the works, and tell them how to buy or borrow a copy, but will not give them the full content of works in copyright. This increased searching capability will benefit authors and publishers. Their works will become available to a much wider audience than has ever been the case in the past, and we believe this will increase sales of their works. This is a tremendously important public policy discussion. In the future, most research and learning is going to take place in a digital world. Material that does not exist in digital form will effectively disappear. We need to decide whether we are going to allow the development of new technology to be used as a tool to restrict the public's access to knowledge, or if we are going to ensure that people can find these works and that they will be preserved for future generations.

September issue of Access

CLA launches Info Commons Interest Group

The Canadian Library Association (CLA) has formed an Information Commons Interest Group. (Thanks to Heather Morrison.) Excerpt from the group's statement of purpose:
The Information Commons Interest Group brings together library stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds to develop, support, and promote projects and ideas that foster the growth of an information commons. Recognizing that we as information workers are under immense pressure from industries and governments (both domestic and international) to tighten control over information creation and dissemination, we are of the mind that projects contributing to the free-flow of information are vital if we want to foster a nation where ideas can be shared freely and openly. We represent public, school, academic, government, and special libraries; we recognize the extent to which we all have a stake in how we produce and access information....The increasing control and commodification of information restricts our ability to encourage and foster positive developments in our cultural, academic, and economic growth. We aim to work internationally with librarians, library associations, our employers, and other interested people to contribute to the growth of the global information commons.

NIEHS may privatize its OA journal

Environmental Health Perspectives is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), one of the institutes within the NIH. On Monday (September 19), the NIEHS requested public comments on the "potential privatization" of the journal. Excerpt:
NIEHS conducts ongoing review of all its research, training, and communications programs and has recently determined that it is now appropriate to consider phasing out Institute sponsorship of this journal. NIEHS has not reached a final decision about potential privatization of EHP nor has an implementation plan for carrying out such a decision been developed. Should such a decision be reached, it is our goal to implement it in a manner that will be least disruptive to the field and to authors, reviewers, editorial board, staff, and subscribers. The current request for comment poses a series of questions around core elements that may comprise an implementation plan for privatization of EHP. These elements include: (1) Feasibility of privatizing EHP, (2) a business plan for continuation of the journal, (3) a timeline and plan for transfer of responsibility, (4) an editorial policy plan, and (5) continued online access....

EHP is read in nearly every country of the world. EHP has an impact factor of 3.93 and an Immediacy Index of 1.20, ranking the journal second of 132 environmental sciences journals and fifth of 90 public, environmental, and occupational health journals. As a full open-access journal, EHP provides XML-formatted content to the digital archive Pubmed Central. EHP also has partnerships with Medscape and (an organization that maintains an archive of scholarly journal) to facilitate access and distribution of EHP's content. Electronic submission and review are the norm for the 1,200 manuscripts that EHP receives annually, and the rejection rate is about 80%. EHP publishes all articles within 24 hours of acceptance on its [web site] as EHP-in-Press articles. These articles are completely citable using CrossRef's Digital Object Identifier system. The Web site is visited by approximately 150,000 unique visitors every month.

If you have a comment, send it by email to before October 28, 2005.

My recommendation: It's less important for EHP to remain in the hands of the NIEHS than for it to remain OA. If the NIEHS privatizes the journal, then it should take special care to place it with a publisher or institution that agrees to carry out the NIH commitment to, and serve the public interest in, unrestricted public access to peer-reviewed science.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Another Open Access journal selected by ISI

Condensed Matter Physics is published by the Institute for Condensed Matter Physics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The journal publishes articles within the "... field of statistical mechanics and thermodynamics of equilibrium and nonequilibrium processes, relativistic mechanics of interacting particle systems. The main attention is paid to physics of solid, liquid and amorphous systems, phase equilibria and phase transitions, thermal, structural, electric, magnetic and optical properties of condensed matter."

Condensed Matter Physics - Fulltext v1+ (1993+) Ukraine | German mirror site; Print ISSN: 1607-324X | Online ISSN: 0452-9910.

[Thanks to Dana Roth for spotting this addition to the ISI journal lists.]

Free biomedical images

Sci7 Ltd. has launched Free Biomedical Images a searchable collection of scientific photos and graphics. For example, see the set of cancer images.

WSIS working group on scientific information endorses RCUK draft policy

The Scientific Information Working Group of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) has publicly released its August 31 comment on the RCUK draft OA policy. The comment quotes the statements supporting OA from the WSIS Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action (December 2003) and draws the natural conclusion that the RCUK policy exemplifies the WSIS approach to scientific information.

Hindawi launches institutional memberships

Hindawi Publishing, with 10 open-access journals, has launched an institutional membership program. Authors affiliated with institutional members may publish in Hindawi OA journals free of charge. A one-year membership costs €2000. From the web site:
[3] There is no limit to the number of articles that can come from a particular Institutional Member. [4] An Institutional Membership for 2006 will apply to all papers that are accepted for publication during the year 2006. [5] As an incentive to sign up early, institutes who join Hindawi's Open Access Institutional Membership program this year will be given a free membership for the remainder of 2005. [6] In addition to the Open Access journals currently published by Hindawi, the Institutional Membership will also apply to any Open Access journals that are added to our collection during 2005 and 2006. (We expect to add around 15 new titles by the end of 2006.)
Also see today's press release.

More on LionShare

Genaro Armas, New technology aims to making academic file sharing easier,, September 21, 2005. Excerpt:
[T]he creators of LionShare say the new technology could make it easier for educators and researchers to quickly share or search for large academic and scientific files with peers or other institutions. LionShare uses a secure, private "peer-to-peer" network for faculty, researchers and students to share photos, research, class materials and other types of information that may be not be easily accessible through current technology, said Mike Halm, director of the LionShare project at Penn State University. "It's a lot more than academic Napster," said Halm, who spoke about the project at a meeting in Philadelphia on Tuesday of the Internet2 consortium. On its Web site, Internet2 describes itself as partnership of universities, industry and government working together "to develop and deploy advanced network applications and technologies."...A researcher looking for data in most cases would need to search each repository separately, which could be very time-consuming. [PS: Not true for OAI-compliant repositories.] Depending on what the researcher is looking for, it may also difficult to download large data sets or video of, for instance, a deep-sea expedition. LionShare uses new technology to combine peer-to-peer and repository searching into a single search, "like Google-searching the Internet," Halm said. The technology is supposed to officially emerge from testing and into general use on Sept. 30....A Penn State news release about LionShare states several times that the technology is aimed at academic file sharing. People who allow data to be shared can place limits on who can view files. "It all comes down to how people share content and what restrictions they put on the content that they share," Halm said. Halm said LionShare was spearheaded by Penn State researchers and developed with Internet2 and Simon Fraser University in Canada. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a $1.1 million grant to Penn State in 2003 to develop the technology.

Journal of International Medical Research -- free biomedical journal

Journal of International Medical Research is a Medline, CAS and ISI indexed medical journal, freely available online. The journal is published by Cambridge Medical Publications using a 'page sponsorship' fee system to finance subscription-free print and online distribution.

Journal of International Medical Research - Fulltext v28+ (2000+); Print ISSN: 0300-0605 | Online ISSN: 1473-2300.

[Thanks to Ed Leisner, Erie County Medical Center.]

Nucleic Acids Symposium Series -- free online access

From a Highwire Press announcement which slipped past me 6 months ago:
The Nucleic Acids Symposium Series consists of the proceedings of the Symposium on Nucleic Acids Chemistry held annually in Japan. The online edition of the series is freely available to all, therefore no subscription is needed. Limited copies of the proceedings are printed and distributed to delegates at the symposium.

Nucleic Acids Symposium Series - Fulltext v42+ (1999+); Print ISSN: 0261-3166 | Online ISSN: 1746-8272.

Immunome Research -- new OA journal

Immunome Research is the 77th independent, Open Access journal to be hosted by BioMed Central. Permanent, independent archives of all of the BioMed Central journals, both BMC-branded and independent, are available through PubMed Central, INIST, and Potsdam University. BioMed Central also participates in the LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) program, permitting and enabling libraries to maintain complete, current, local repositories of any or all of the journals.

Immunome Research - Fulltext v1+ (2005+); ISSN: 1745-7580.

From the journal's About page:
Immunome Research is an Open Access, peer-reviewed, online journal integrating traditional laboratory research with the latest technologies, including genomics, bioinformatics and mathematical modelling. Immunome Research is a journal of the International Immunomics Society (IIMMS). The journal aims to provide a focal point for the field of Immunomics, which lies at the intersection between traditional laboratory research and the latest research technologies. It thereby includes the sub-speciality immunoinformatics, as well as the application of large-scale genomics to the immune system. Rapidly expanding areas of particular interest include the predicting of MHC-peptide binding, mathematical modelling of viral/host interactions, and the use of gene expression arrays to model immune system pathways.

Publishing problems and solutions, minus OA

Scott Jaschik conducted a joint email interview with Robert Zemsky, Gregory R. Wegner, and William F. Massy for the September issue of Inside Higher Ed. The occasion was the publication of their book, Remaking the American University. Excerpt:

Q: Of the trends you examine, which ones are most worrisome to you?

A: What worries us most is that universities and colleges have become so preoccupied with succeeding in a world of markets that they too often forget the need to be places of public purpose as well. We are serious in arguing that universities and colleges must be both market smart and mission centered. [...]

Q: What are the major problems with academic publishing — and what should be done about them?

A: The problem is a disjunction between the sociology and the economics of academic publishing. Publication is the pathway to career advancement for faculty members in virtually every field, and through the past 30 years the volume of traffic on this highway has increased substantially, along with the cost of publishing scholarly work. Every faculty member inherently knows that his or her home institution can no longer afford to provide access to all published work that is relevant to a given discipline. Yet there remain strong traces of what’s been called a “gift exchange society” — which conceives publication as essentially a free good, circulated openly among those engaged in similar academic pursuit. While the venue of such exchange is extremely important, the author of a given article or book does not seek financial gain per se, but rather the esteem of colleagues, which becomes in turn the basis for promotion within one’s home institution.

(PS: After this promising build-up, Zemsky, Wegner, and Massy don't mention OA or seem to be aware of its existence.)

Why are anthropologists reluctant to share research online?

Stacy Lathrop and Gretchen Bakke, Multivalent Networking is Indispensable to Communicating Information, American Anthropological Association, September 2005. Excerpt:
In April 2005 the AAA launched a confidential survey to its full membership to seek information about members’ current practices for communicating electronically about the association and their research....Although there is a wide recognition of the usefulness of posting conference papers and supplementary materials online, there is minimal willingness to post one’s own work, and there is even less willingness to submit online comments on annual meeting papers. This is true regardless of age or employment status of the respondent....If respondents were to post [conference] papers and other substantive materials online, which they do not think should be mandatory, they would prefer to do so either after the annual meeting or in the month preceding it; they would also find such submitted materials most useful during this time. There is marked interest in annual meeting papers and abstracts being electronically accessible indefinitely, coupled with little interest in the preservation of online bulletin boards and interactive discussion forums for more than four months....Respondents were asked about Creative Commons licensing options available through AnthroCommons (these options range from the “all rights reserved” of traditional copyright to a voluntary “some rights reserved” copyright), and their views on Open Access models. (Open Access is a movement to grant access to a large variety of up-to-date information sources, electronically, for free.) Results suggest that respondents value the idea of Creative Commons and the Open Access model (such as AnthroCommons); yet, only a third of the respondents who completed this survey, or roughly the number who accessed AnthroCommons, completed this question. Also of those five people who responded that they had actually posted material, three respondents selected a Creative Commons license and two a traditional “all rights reserved” copyright option....The full report of the AAA Electronic Communications Survey is available through the AAA website.

Also see this comment by Judd Antin on his blog:

[I]s there something fundamental about anthropology that makes the discipline averse to an open model? Anthropology is, after all, based on fieldnotes which are deeply personal and often private. Maybe these values extend to other forms of writing as well, such as notes, conference papers, and even online discussions. Many anthropologists were (and in some cases still are) also indoctrinated with the idea that anthropology is about the lone ethnographer, trudging off into the jungle to find his or her ‘people.’ If anthropologists believe that doing anthropology is a lone enterprise, and further that the product of their work is too deeply personal and individual to share, does that erect an insurmountable barrier to Open Source Anthropology, at least for the foreseeable future? Or is it just a generational thing - the old, ‘traditional’ anthropologists are as stuck in the mud as they’ve ever been?...Maybe our only choice is to sit back and wait for the paradigm shift when the current generation of thought leaders fades away....So maybe the obstinacy of many anthropologists isn’t insurmountable. The challenge is to maintain a critical mass of anthropologists who continue to contribute and share freely. If the explosion of blogging anthropologists is any indication, it’s a promising future.

More on the pricing crisis

KU to lose $500,000 worth of journals, Wichita Eagle, September 19, 2005. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.) Excerpt:
As state money for higher education gets harder to come by, the University of Kansas is saving money wherever it can. That includes cutting back on its subscriptions to scholarly journals, some of which carry annual price tags in the thousands. But some faculty members say the strategy hurts their ability to do research. "No one can do without them," economics professor Mohamed El-Hodiri said. "They're forcing us to pick and choose. How do I know that the one I choose is the one I'm going to need tomorrow?"...But university officials said the cost of subscriptions -- which range from a few hundred dollars to $20,000 or so a year -- makes some cuts necessary. "Some publishers, they've gone crazy," El-Hodiri said. The university, which recently started a three-year review of its periodicals subscriptions, would need $1.1 million beyond its current budget to maintain its current level. The school has come up with $600,000 of that total. "That's essentially been the trend: Spend more, get less," said Bill Myers, director of library development at the university.

But with many institutions publishing research on the Internet, paper subscriptions might become unnecessary. Kansas uses its KU Scholarworks site [PS: an OA repository] to make research -- finished and unfinished -- available. "Who cares about the price of scholarly journals if the material is available?" Provost David Shulenburger said...."I think institutions like ours have gotten more versatile in trying to cope with the increasing costs of serials," [Myers] said. "The objective is to try to advance knowledge as quickly as possible."

More on Connotea's award for publishing innovation

The Nature Publishing Group has issued a press release (undated) on the ALPSP/Charlesworth award for publishing innovation bestowed on Connotea (blogged here on 9/16). Excerpt:
Connotea, a free online reference management service for scientists, developed by Nature Publishing Group, has won the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) Award for Publishing Innovation...."The web offers vast new opportunities for publishers to serve scientists and other scholars in ways that were unimaginable in the print-only world. Connotea is a good example of that. We have taken some of the latest technical and social trends on the web - notably social bookmarking and tagging - and applied them in a way that we hope scientists will find useful for managing and discovering information. We are delighted and honored that this approach has been recognized by the ALPSP," said Timo Hannay, Director of Web Publishing. Connotea is a free online social bookmarking tool developed by NPG. It allows users to store their web links online, enabling them to be accessed from any web browser, and to organize them using individually chosen tags. The site also allows users to share their links with others and discover links to new publications or other resources relevant to their interests....Connotea, which went live in 'beta' form in December 2004, is now being launched in its full form. This follows a series of major upgrades to enhance its functionality. Recent additions include DOI support, user groups and extended privacy options. These new features mean, for example, that users can bookmark a paper by simply highlighting its DOI in their browser, or even by entering the DOI of a paper they are reading in print. They can then choose to share this bookmark with everyone or privately within a group....To coincide with this, NPG has released an updated version of Connotea Code, the source code behind Connotea, which now includes these latest features. Connotea Code is freely available to use under an open source license....The site's usage has grown rapidly, with over 1.5 million page impressions in August and the September total already on track to exceed this by a large margin. It currently hosts nearly 30,000 links annotated with almost 17,000 tags, including hot topics such as Avian Flu, Open Access, Neglected Diseases and Electronic Laboratory Notebooks.

Google sued for massive copyright infringement

Here it comes. The Authors Guild has sued Google for "massive copyright infringement". It complains that the Google Library project copies books without the necessary permissions.

From the Authors Guild press release (September 20):

The Authors Guild and a Lincoln biographer, a children's book author, and a former Poet Laureate of the United States filed a class action suit today in federal court in Manhattan against Google over its unauthorized scanning and copying of books through its Google Library program. The suit alleges that the $90 billion search engine and advertising juggernaut is engaging in massive copyright infringement at the expense of the rights of individual writers. Through its Library program, Google is reproducing works still under the protection of copyright as well as public domain works from the collection of the University of Michigan's library. “This is a plain and brazen violation of copyright law,” said Authors Guild president Nick Taylor. “It's not up to Google or anyone other than the authors, the rightful owners of these copyrights, to decide whether and how their works will be copied.”...Google has agreements with four academic libraries -- those of Stanford, Harvard, Oxford and the University of Michigan -- and with the New York Public Library to create digital copies of substantial parts of their collections and to make those collections available for searching online. Google has not sought the approval of the authors of these works for this program. The complaint seeks damages and an injunction to halt further infringements. The Authors Guild (, the largest society of published writers in the United States, represents more than 8,000 authors.

From Google's announcement on the Google Blog:

Today we learned that the Authors Guild filed a lawsuit to try to stop Google Print. We regret that this group chose to sue us over a program that will make millions of books more discoverable to the world -- especially since any copyright holder can exclude their books from the program. What’s more, many of Google Print’s chief beneficiaries will be authors whose backlist, out of print and lightly marketed new titles will be suggested to countless readers who wouldn’t have found them otherwise. Let's be clear: Google doesn’t show even a single page to users who find copyrighted books through this program (unless the copyright holder gives us permission to show more). At most we show only a brief snippet of text where their search term appears, along with basic bibliographic information and several links to online booksellers and libraries....Google respects copyright. The use we make of all the books we scan through the Library Project is fully consistent with both the fair use doctrine under U.S. copyright law and the principles underlying copyright law itself, which allow everything from parodies to excerpts in book reviews. (Here's an article by one of the many legal scholars who have weighed in on Google Print.) Just as Google helps you find sites you might not have found any other way by indexing the full text of web pages, Google Print, like an electronic card catalog, indexes book content to help users find, and perhaps buy, books. This ability to introduce millions of users to millions of titles can only expand the market for authors’ books, which is precisely what copyright law is intended to foster.

See the growing news coverage.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

More on scholarly uses of P2P

Brock Read, New Software That Allows Professors to Share Large Data Files Is Set for Release, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 20, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University at University Park plan to unveil today free software that attempts to turn the peer-to-peer technology often used by music pirates into a tool for professors to legitimately share large data sets, high-resolution images from their research, and other educational files. The software -- called LionShare -- will be released at a meeting of members of Internet2, the high-speed networking consortium. And it will be made available to colleges by the end of September, according to Michael J. Halm, senior strategist for Penn State's Teaching and Working With Technology office. The software, financed in part by a $1.1-million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, was about two years in the making. A number of college officials have awaited LionShare's release because the program could help professors establish their own online reserves. It allows users to search one another's digital collections of documents, images, and other academic material and view specific files....Professors can use the software to make files available only to students registered for their courses, for example. And users can organize their own digital collections by affixing keyword descriptions, known as metadata, to individual items.

Orphan works and the prisoner's dilemma

Michael Seadle, Copyright in the networked world: orphaned copyrights, Library Hi Tech, 23, 2 (2005) pp. 453-459. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far.
This column aims to look at the results of the US Copyright Office's request for comments about orphan copyrights. Design/methodology/approach - It uses a form of Game Theory called the Prisoner's Dilemma Game to analyze the comments that are available on the Copyright Office web site. Findings - Some change seems likely, if only because the opponents of change may discover that they can gain more for themselves when they stop defending the interests of those who have abandoned their copyrights already. Practical implications - If some form of cooperation between intellectual property consumers and rights holders could be worked out for orphan copyrights, it might lead to further "tit-for-tat" reactions that help to address other copyright issues. Originality/value - Provides useful information on orphan copyrights.

Launch your own book-scanning project

Tudor Raiciu, A Competitor for Google Print? APT Bookscan 1200, Softpedia, September 19, 2005. Excerpt:
Since the task of scanning hundreds of thousands of books is not exactly easy, Kirtas Technologies has decided to launch a device which could be the perfect solution for those that want to compete against Google Print. APT Bookscan 1200 is a device which is specifically designed to transform books into electronic files and its capabilities are quite impressive: 1200 pages per hour. In addition, APT Bookscan flips the pages one by ones. Practically, any book measuring 11 x 17 cm or 27 x 35 cm can be placed in the Bookscan and in a few hours, it will be available in TIFF, JPEG or PDF formats. Moreover, the optical system is "trained" for 177 languages....The Kirtas Technologies official site contains a video demo of APT's functioning procedure. APT Bookscan measures 84 x 76 x 122 cm, weighs 77 kilograms and is priced at 120,000 Euros [PS: about $147,000].

JISC response to draft RCUK policy

JISC has released its response to the draft RCUK open-access policy (September 20). Excerpt:

5. The JISC supports initiatives to enhance access to the products of publicly-funded UK research and is spending over £10 million per annum on digital repositories from 2006. Access to research outputs will be improved as a result of the statement by the RCUK on open access but JISC’s supporting initiatives will be at risk if the statement is weakened. JISC therefore welcomes the proposal for mandatory deposit of journal articles by authors into a repository. In particular, the JISC notes that: [a] The current system of journal publication has significant shortcomings, and there is robust evidence that it negatively affects the effectiveness, efficiency and impact of UK research (see Scientific Publications: Free for all? Tenth Report of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.) [b] There is no substantive evidence that a mandatory requirement on researchers to deposit a copy of their final, peer-reviewed manuscript into an open access repository will impact negatively on journal publishers’ business – indeed, such evidence as exists (such as that relating to the long-established e-print archive ‘arXiv’ ) suggests the opposite (see Swan, A. and Brown, S (2005) Open access self-archiving: an author study). Furthermore, the evidence shows that the mandatory requirement is an essential component of an effective position on open access. [c] Research has begun to identify viable business models consistent with open access that can be adopted by learned societies. JISC recently funded a study to explore how learned society publishers can consider making a transition to a sustainable open access business model, and what the funding sources and requirements would be in order to do so.

6. The JISC is investing heavily in an infrastructure to enable innovative research to take place, including interoperable repositories, preservation best practice and user-oriented services, and open access remains an important cornerstone of this infrastructure. The JISC looks forward to continuing to collaborate against a common agenda and work with RCUK to improve access to publicly-funded research.

Monday, September 19, 2005

NIH response to ACS

Jeremy Berg, Letter to the editor, Chemical & Engineering News, September 19, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Berg is the Director of the NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Excerpts:
I am writing in regard to the Aug. 23 open letter by American Chemical Society President William F. Carroll about discussions between ACS leadership and NIH staff regarding PubChem....PubChem records do not systematically include experimentally derived properties, information about suppliers, information about synthesis and reactions, links to patents, or links to much of the chemical literature. Both ACS leadership and NIH staff led by NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni have worked hard to find ways to avoid unnecessary duplication between PubChem and private-sector databases such as those provided by Chemical Abstracts Service. As a chemist and the director of an institute that supports a large amount of chemical research, I have personally participated in essentially all of these meetings. Unfortunately, Carroll's letter misrepresents several important aspects of these discussions.

First, while PubChem is focused on biomedically relevant compounds, neither ACS nor NIH has been able to develop a suitable definition of biomedical relevance that would accurately guide what compounds should or should not be included in PubChem. And contrary to a statement in Carroll's letter, no assurances about the number of compounds to be housed in PubChem have been given. Second, the expansion of PubChem from 600,000 compounds to more than 3 million compounds noted in the open letter is due largely to the inclusion of the ZINC database (C&EN, Feb. 14, page 8). This database was developed with support from a grant from NIH (R01GM071896) for the explicit purpose of making publicly available a large and diverse set of compounds for computational screening against biomedical targets. The NIH Roadmap Molecular Libraries Initiative explicitly includes support for developing and testing "new algorithms for computational chemistry and virtual screening." Thus, Carroll's statement that "most [of the newly posted compounds] have no particular biomedical focus" is inaccurate and misleading. Third, while we appreciate the offer from ACS to build a PubChem-like database for free, the statement that this would result in significant cost savings to NIH is inaccurate. The great majority of the expense related to the development of PubChem involves the thorough integration of information regarding chemical entities with the biomedical literature in PubMed, protein structural information, biological activities, and other data housed at NCBI. This integration is where the great value of PubChem for biomedical research lies....From our first discussions with ACS, NIH has offered to provide links from records in PubChem to records in CAS databases. This would allow researchers to navigate easily from the biomedically oriented information in PubChem to the extremely valuable chemically oriented data developed and maintained by CAS. Together, these and other databases will serve the research community as we apply chemical tools to understand biological systems and to improve human health.

The block access movement

Olav Anders Øvrebø, The Block Access Movement, Undercurrent, September 18, 2005. Excerpt:
This month, employees and students at the University of Oslo will elect a new chancellor. It is regarded as an important election, with five different candidates. Norwegian universities are experiencing a period of reform and rapid change. Many are concerned about academic freedom, and complain about commercialization. So you would expect at least one candidate to embrace ideas [about open access] such as those Willinsky presents in [a recent essay in First Monday]? You would be wrong. Not one of the five candidates even mentions the words open access or scientific publishing in their manifests (available in Norwegian). You are surprised? You shouldn't be. University people often prefer to be invisible and unlinked. They will defend "academic freedom", but not by making their texts available to the public (who essentially is their employer, as these universities are state funded). So they become The Block Access Movement. (I also think some of them are confusing open access to scientific articles with the general book market, which is something else altogether. The Open Access movement isn't about killing off book publishing.)...Last point: There are institutional open archives both at the University of Oslo and Bergen now. Most of the material you'll find there are master theses and doctoral dissertations - because they now force students to publish there. I fear the professors will have to be forced, too. Unless they discover what the rest of the world is starting to find out: That publishing in open access journals gives greater research impact.
(PS: OA archiving increases citation impact as much as publishing in OA journals. For the collected evidence that OA in any form increases citation impact, see Steve Hitchcock's bibliography of the studies.)

If search engine copying is legal...

Hans-Peter Brøndmo, Is Copyright Wrong? ClickZ, September 19, 2005. Excerpt:
Today's intellectual property laws weren't designed for a world where just a click, drag, and drop is all that stands between your new idea and expression and my ability to make unlimited copies with worldwide distribution. It's become easy to copy bits. The only restrictions are storage, which is super cheap, and bandwidth, which is abundant....Are Google and Yahoo! breaching Incisive Media's copyright by storing and reproducing a copy of my column [in their search engine indices]? If they are, the folks at ClickZ seem to be OK with that, as are most Web sites. What Yahoo! and Google are doing is and must be legal. They copy the Web pages they find, index those pages so you can search them, then store them in their original form without making any changes. When the engines display regular search results, they don't display the entire page but a fair-use quote from the page that's related to your search....Copyright isn't wrong, yet new models, such as the Creative Commons initiative, are critically looking at new intellectual property approaches for the 21st century. Intellectual property protection is necessary to ensure people and organizations are fairly recognized and remunerated for their creative pursuits. But copyright can stand in the way of facilitating the power of connections. This will increasingly happen as it becomes easier to collect and connect ideas, information, stories, entertainment, people, indeed everything by using the ever-growing suite of tools and services the Internet offers. The intersection of collecting, sharing, and connecting is fertile ground for new businesses and ad models. The debate over what is good copyright protection and what limits innovation, commerce, and learning in the world of bits has only just begun.

More on book publishers v. Google

Anick Jesdanun, Google scanning books onto Internet, Associated Press (this copy in the Cincinnati Enquirer), September 19, 2005. Excerpt:
Tony Sanfilippo is of two minds when it comes to Google Inc.'s ambitious program to scan millions of books and make their text fully searchable on the Internet. On the one hand, Sanfilippo credits the program for boosting sales of obscure titles at Penn State University Press, where he works. On the other, he's worried that Google's plans to create digital copies of books obtained directly from libraries could hurt his industry's long-term revenues...."More and more people are expecting access, and they are making do with what they can get easy access to," said Brewster Kahle, co-founder of the Internet Archive, which runs smaller book-scanning projects, mostly for out-of-copyright works. "Let's make it so that they find great works rather than whatever just happens to be on the Net."...But many publishers remain wary. To endorse Google's library initiative is to say "it's OK to break into my house because you're going to clean my kitchen," said Sally Morris, chief executive of the U.K.-based Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers. "Just because you do something that's not harmful or (is) beneficial doesn't make it legal."...Morris and other publishers think that Google must get their permission first, as it has under the Print Publisher Program it launched in October 2004, two months before announcing the library initiative. Under the publishers' program, Google has deals with most major U.S. and U.K. publishers. It scans titles they submit, displays digital images of selected pages triggered by search queries and gives publishers a cut of revenues from accompanying ad displays. But publishers aren't submitting all their titles under that program, and many of the titles Google wants to scan are out of print and belong to no publisher at all. Jim Gerber, Google's director of content partnerships, says the company would get no more than 15 percent of all books ever published if it relied solely on publisher submissions. That's why it has turned to libraries....Washington lawyer Jonathan Band says Google's case is strong given the limits on display - a few sentences at a time for works scanned from libraries, with technology making it difficult to recreate even a single page. "I don't see how making a few snippets of a work available to a user could have any negative impact on the market," said Band, who has advised library groups and Internet companies on copyright issues.

More on ACS v. PubChem

Richard Poynder, Starting a new bushfire, Open and Shut, September 18, 2005. Excerpt:
On the surface the decision by NIH to create PubChem — a freely accessible database containing chemical structures of small organic molecules and information on their biological activities — seemed simple, straightforward, and eminently desirable. The move, however, immediately pushed NIH into an apparently endless dispute with ACS, which claims that the planned open-access database would threaten ACS' revenue from Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) — the highly profitable division of the ACS that sells access to its CAS Registry. In a public statement dated May 23rd CAS claimed that PubChem will over time "pose an insurmountable threat to CAS' survival" since it is "a mini-replica of the CAS Registry, and a replica poised to expand."...One of CAS' early tactics was to argue that it was wrong for NIH to use public money to build PubChem. However, critics were quick to point out that the allegedly threatened CAS Registry database was itself built with taxpayers' money....Presumably sensing that it was losing the PR war, in August the ACS offered to develop and support a freely available database that would include data from NIH screening centres, as well as other compounds with associated bioassay data. To support the project it pledged $10 million and 15 staff members over five years. The offer, however, was rejected by NIH Director Elias Zerhouni. He did so for a number of reasons..."More importantly, the [Zerhouni] letter stated, if NIH accepted ACS' proposal "some of the most critical aspects of PubChem would be lost." In the same letter, however, Zerhouni proposed a six-part "alternative structure". Amongst other things this would include collaboration between CAS and NIH to assign registry numbers for PubChem structures, and a promise that PubChem "will not disseminate information on chemical reactions, measured properties, methods, patents and applications, markush structures, or conference information." In offering the patent concession, however, Zerhouni is in danger of starting a new bushfire, since the proposal is sure to inflame the passions of patent information searchers. In a posting to the Patent Information Users Group mailing list on September 17th, for instance, self-styled patent buster Greg Aharonian — who also runs the Patnews mailing list — complained: "If this is right, the public funded NIH that is building a public funded chemical database is agreeing not to include publicly funded information from publicly available patents. This is wrong, and people (led by the PTO) should contact the NIH to lobby that they include as much information as possible from patents into PubChem."...We should feel some pity for Zerhouni: in seeking to get ACS off his back he is in danger of attracting the wrath of one of the more voluble and argumentative information user communities.

Documenting the benefits of OA for journals

Lila Guterman, Peer-Review Researchers Explore Hyped Conclusions, Open Access, and Bias, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 19, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). A report on the Fifth International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication (Chicago, September 15-17, 2005). Excerpt:
Also reported at the conference was perhaps the first study to show direct benefits to a biomedical journal of making its contents freely available online. Dev Kumar R. Sahu, the managing editor of the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, a quarterly journal published in India, said that going online and making its contents free in 2001 vastly increased the visibility and impact of the journal. (The journal is under no pressure to break even; the hospital that runs it, the King Edward Memorial Hospital, in Mumbai, pays for its operations.) The journal has a print circulation of about 400, and publishes only about 50 papers yearly. Now that it is online and free, the journal receives some 75,000 unique visitors to its Web site every month, 2,000 of whom download research papers. The number of manuscripts submitted for publication has increased fivefold, Dr. Sahu said. Dr. Sahu also looked at other journals' citations of papers published in the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine from 1990 to 1999. He compared citations of those papers before the journal went online in 2001 with citations published from 2001 to 2004. The number of citations is generally considered to reflect a paper's impact on other researchers' work. Of 893 citations, more than 60 percent came in the three years after the journal opened access. When Dr. Sahu surveyed authors who had cited the papers, about two-thirds of the 312 responders said they used the journal online and less than 5 percent said they would have been willing to pay for access. Pritpal S. Tamber, the editorial director for medicine at BioMed Central, a large open-access publisher, said he knew of no other journals that had collected data showing that opening access increased visibility. "The future of open access is to find people like D.K. Sahu," he said.
(PS: The conference presentations are not yet online.)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Another TA editorial on OA

D.G. Baskin and J.E. Mazurkiewicz, Comments on the NIH Enhanced Public Access Policy, Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry, September 2005. Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

OAN posts by email

I'm pleased to announce a new way to subscribe to Open Access News posts by email. If you remember, I used to have an account with Bloglet, which converted OAN posts to email messages. But Bloglet was unreliable, and for a long time there were no good alternatives. While I still haven't found a good blog-to-email service, I've found several good RSS-to-email services. After experimenting, I've picked RSSFWD.

The easiest way to sign up is to click on the orange RSSFWD icon here or in the blog sidebar, and enter your email address when asked. You can also visit the RSSFWD site and follow the directions.

I like RSSFWD because the emails it sends out include the bylines and all the links within the original blog posting. It sends each posting in a separate email, which is convenient for forwarding. Instead of sending out each posting as it is completed, it sends out the accumulated postings the next time it visits ("polls") the site, which is averaging once or twice a day. If you can't visit the web edition very often, and if you haven't adopted RSS, then try this alternative. It's a painless way to keep up.