Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Dennis Kucinich on privatizing the EHP

Dennis Kucinich is leading a group of House Democrats in opposing the privatization of Environmental Health Perspectives, the OA journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Here's an excerpt from his November 16 speech on the floor of the House (thanks to Muslims for Kucinich):
EHP is one of the premier academic peer reviewed journals in the world. It ranks second among 132 environmental science journals, and fifth among ninety public environmental and occupational health journals. If it were considered among the general medical journals like the New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA, it would rank tenth. Early signs indicate that this year, all those rankings are likely to increase. Its value and uniqueness stem, in large part, from its status as a publicly managed journal. For example, EHP's independence directly enhances the quality of the work it publishes. Their conflict of interest policy is among the strictest of peer-reviewed journals. Such a policy might be compromised if the journal was privately published. In addition, its public funding source allows it to be an open access journal, which means anyone with Internet access can get any EHP article 24 hours after it is accepted for publication. That is essential because the vast majority of published research is available only through increasingly costly journal subscriptions, institutional license fees, or per-article purchases. This closed system leaves the American public -- including physicians, public health professionals, patients and patient groups, students, teachers, librarians and scientists at academic institutions, hospitals, research laboratories, and corporate research centers -- under-informed about important, timely research results they helped finance....Privatizing EHP is unnecessary and unwise. It would yield miniscule cost savings while exacting a large cost to public health.

UNESCO Director on OA at WSIS

UNESCO Welcomes Cultural Diversity Endorsement, ArtDaily, November 19, 2005. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today welcomed the endorsement by 176 States attending the World Summit on the Information Society (Tunis, November 16-18) of UNESCO’s vision of “knowledge societies”. This vision is based on the four principles of freedom of expression, quality education for all, universal access to information and knowledge and respect for cultural and linguistic diversity. These principles are included in the Tunis Commitment and the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society adopted at WSIS today. The Tunis Commitment (paragraph 4) recognizes that freedom of expression and the free flow of information, ideas and knowledge are essential for the information society and development. In paragraph 9, the Commitment recognizes the capital importance of access to information, respect for cultural and linguistic diversity and for the role of the media to “ensure that everyone can benefit from the opportunities that ICTs can offer.”...The Tunis Agenda recommends that UNESCO continue playing a leading role in implementing the Plan of Action adopted during the first phase of the Summit, in Geneva in December 2003. The Agenda invites UNESCO’s contribution in the following eight areas: access to information and knowledge; capacity building; e-learning; e-science; cultural and linguistic diversity and open content; media; ethical dimensions of the information society; international and regional cooperation. Speaking at the Plenary session of WSIS, the Director-General of UNESCO pleaded in favour of “equitable and inclusive knowledge societies [that] harness the potential of knowledge and put it at the service of sustainable development.

OA in the humanities

Peter Suber, Promuovere l'Open Access nelle scienze umane, Bollettino Telematico di Filosofia Politica, September 15, 2005 (archived in E-LIS, November 15, 2005). Francesca Di Donato's Italian translation of my article, Promoting Open Access in the Humanities, January 2004.

How Google Library treats books that are already OA

Heather Ford, How accessible is Google Book Search making books? Hblog, November 18, 2005. Excerpt:
I just heard Ethan Beard from Google talking about Google Book Search. It's a great project. But when you search for Lessig's book Free Culture (published by Penguin Books and licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 1.0 licence) you can see only excerpts from the book (the 'card catalogue' view). Full text search is not available, even though it is allowed by the licence. Instead, it points to Penguin Books, enabling you to buy the book from the publisher, with no reference to the fact that its free at all. I asked Beard about this and he said that they are working with Creative Commons but that they won't be able to 'make searches every type of licence in the world'. I hope that they at least start with Creative Commons licenses. With 55 million linkbacks, surely that's a big enough pool?

OA search engine for chemistry

Chmoogle is a new search engine for chemistry. From yesterday's press release:
eMolecules, Inc. today announced the launch of Chmoogle, the world's leading free open-access chemistry search engine. Chmoogle's mission is to discover, curate and index all of the public chemical information in the world, and make it available to the public. Chmoogle distinguishes itself by extremely fast searches, an appealing presentation of results, and high-quality chemical drawings. "The world's knowledge in chemistry is an invaluable resource", said Dr. Klaus Gubernator, eMolecules' Chief Executive Officer. "It lies dormant until it becomes searchable by every chemist. The language of chemistry is chemical structures. Chmoogle makes the world's chemistry searchable by structure. Just draw a molecule using your favorite structure drawing tool and hit Go!." Craig James, eMolecules' Chief Technology Officer, explained, "The scale and speed of Chmoogle is unlike anything that's come before. We had to start from scratch, build a new chemical database engine from the ground up, so that we could give users the response times they expect, handle one of the world's largest collections of molecules, and respond to the unique demands of the world wide web." Rashmi Mistry, head of eMolecules' Data Acquisition team, said, "While building some of the world's largest corporate chemical databases and managing corporate mergers, we learned the complexity and the wide variety of ways in which chemical information is represented. Chmoogle's Data Acquisition technology integrates everything we've learned. We were able to obtain millions of molecules from hundreds of sources, and merge them into a single, searchable chemical database." Chmoogle allows users to send queries, results and individual structures as links to their colleagues via email. This feature creates an unparalleled collaborative environment for chemists worldwide. Chmoogle provides Chmoogle Free code that users can embed into their own web sites for direct access to Chmoogle, as well as hosted cheminformatics systems and full web sites for chemical suppliers, pharmaceutical and other chemical industries.
(Thanks to STLQ.)

Update. Chmoogle changed its name to eMolecules, May 26, 2006.

Submitting OAI-PMH content for Google indexing

Google Sitemaps, which lets webmasters submit their sites for Google indexing, accepts OAI-PMH 2.0. (Thanks to Richard Ackerman.) Managers of OA-OAI repositories should definitely add this to their list of tricks to facilitate Google crawling.

Lehigh presentations

The presentations from the Lehigh conference, Scientific Publishing: What Does the Future Hold? (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, November 12, 2005), are now online. (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)

Free science and trade magazines

ScienceBase has put together a long list of "free [science and] trade magazine subscriptions and technical document downloads". If not OA, they are at least "free to professionals who qualify".

Will the Google Library lawsuits change copyright law?

Will the Online Book Publishing Flap Rewrite Copyright Law? Knowledge@Wharton. Undated and unattributed --come on, Wharton! Excerpt:
Google's recent move to scan copyrighted works leaves many unresolved questions: Does the greater good of putting books online outweigh current copyright law? Is Google's complete scanning a violation of copyright law even if the end user doesn't get much more than a small excerpt of the work in a search result? Does it make a difference if the book is out of print yet still, theoretically, under copyright? Should Google be required to get a publisher's permission before scanning content rather than offering an opt-out policy that puts the burden on the publishers to take action? Is copyright law designed for printed materials still valid in the digital age? No matter how those copyright issues are resolved, Google will hardly be the only player in this arena....Another possible factor in the book industry equation is the power of libraries, some of which have embraced Google's digitization methods. The goal of libraries is to make their collections open to all. Digitization allows libraries to have a larger audience even if there are copyright challenges in the future. Indeed, Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan, has said she welcomes the world to the school's library. "As educators, we are inspired by the possibility of sharing these important works with people around the globe," she noted in Google's November 3 statement. "Think of the doors it will open for students; geographical distance will no longer hamper research."

Lessig on the NY debate on Google Library

Lawrence Lessig, the “discussion”: the morning after, Lessig blog, November 18, 2005. Excerpt:
I awoke this morning more resolved about the wrongness in the rhetoric around this issue....The AAP and AG say they believe in “fair use.” If that’s so, then they must believe that someone has a right to make money using fairly the work of others. If that’s so, then they must believe that someone has the right to fairly use the work of others without permission. And so if that’s so, then if Google Book Search is fair use, not only is Google doing nothing wrong. Google is, from the perspective of the authors and publishers, doing something extra nice — giving them the permission to opt out of the index. So the only question is whether Google’s use is “fair.” Now anyone who knows anything about the law knows that’s a hard question. Reasonable people may differ about it. But the frustration I consistently feel with the position of the AAP and AG is that the reasons they offer for why Google’s use is not fair would mean that practically no use would be fair. E.g., Nick Taylor’s complaint was that Google was profiting on the work of others. But that’s true with every commercial use that’s also a fair use. If Taylor’s theory were correct, you couldn’t make money from a book that fairly quoted another author. Or a film that fairly included clips from another film. That would be a radical shrinkage of “fair use.” Or, e.g., Allan Adler complained that Google hadn’t asked permission. But again, you don’t need to ask permission to use a work fairly. If Adler’s theory were correct, that too would mean a radical shrinkage of “fair use.” Or finally, in the part of the session closest to the actual law of fair use, Adler said the reasons this use was not fair was that there was a “potential” market that Google was just taking. What was that market? The market in licensing the use of building a fully searchable index of books. But you can always hypothesize a “potential” market. And if that’s all that it took, again, there would be a radical shrinkage of “fair use.”

Autumn issue of the INASP Newsletter

The Autumn issue of the INASP Newsletter is now online. This issue focuses on e-resource management in developing countries, Yale's institutional repository, the ELIN@ service, Greenstone software for digital libraries, and ETD's at the University of the Western Cape.

NY debate on Google Library

Edward Wyatt, Googling Literature: The Debate Goes Public, New York Times, November 19, 2005. A report on Thursday's Battle Over Books: Authors & Publishers Take On The Google Print Library Project (New York, November 17, 2005). Excerpt:
If there was any point of agreement between publishers, authors and Google in a debate Thursday night over the giant Web company's program to digitize the collections of major libraries and allow users to search them online, it seemed to be this: Information does not necessarily want to be free. Rather, the parties agreed, information wants to be found....The debate on Thursday, part of the "Live From the New York Public Library" program, was the first time the various parties had faced off publicly. Allan Adler, a vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Association of American Publishers, argued that Google's primary purpose in creating the Book Search service was to promote its arsenal of search engines, the main source of the company's $5 billion in expected revenues this year. "We're talking about a pretty straightforward copyright scenario," Mr. Adler said. "If they are going to directly promote it through the use of valuable content, intellectual property created by others, those others should at least have the right to be able to have permission asked, if not to be able also to share in the revenue." Google, however, maintains that it needs to scan a whole book for its search engine to work. Successful searches will return only three to five lines of text, which the company says constitutes a "fair use," allowed under copyright law. David Drummond, Google's general counsel, said the company's service allowed users to find books that are in libraries but no longer in bookstores, and that would otherwise go undiscovered by most potential readers. Mr. Adler and Nick Taylor, president of the Authors Guild, which is also suing Google, made several pointed references to Google's status as a for-profit company. "The issue here is indeed control," Mr. Taylor said. "It is the appropriation of material that they don't own for a purpose that is, however altruistic and lofty and wonderful, nevertheless a commercial enterprise." Mr. Drummond replied to the criticism: "There's this notion it can't be a commercial use to be a fair use. That is wrong."...

If Google is allowed to go down this path unfettered, [Adler] added, copyright holders will have no way to stop others who want to do the same thing, perhaps with greater financial harm to authors and publishers. "I guess to us that suggests not much faith in the copyright law," Mr. Drummond said. "It seems to us, the moment anyone starts to do things that have an actual harm, copyright law is very well designed to deal with that. It is hard to understand exactly what is the harm." Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Stanford Law School and the founder of the university's Center for Internet and Society, also raised the question of harm. He drew a distinction between publishers and music companies, which in their Internet-related lawsuits were able to show that they were defending themselves against the losses caused by the illegal copying and sharing of music. "What you want to do is to get a kind of revenue that right now you don't get at all," Professor Lessig said. "So it's about taking part of the value that's created here" by Google, "not about protecting yourself against losses as produced by this new technology." Mr. Adler said Google's contention that its search program might somehow increase sales of books was speculation at best. "When people make inquiries using Google's search engine and they come up with references to books, they are just as likely to come to this fine institution to look up those references as they are to buy them," he said, referring to the Public Library. To which Google's Mr. Drummond replied, "Horrors."

(PS: I continue to be fascinated by the fact that publishers claim harm without being able to point to any, even when pressed.)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Access to knowledge v. enclosure

Pedro de Paranaguá Moniz, The Development Agenda for WIPO: Another Stillbirth? A Battle Between Access to Knowledge and Enclosure, an LLM dissertation at the University of London, approved in July 2005 and self-archived in SSRN on November 14, 2005.
Abstract: The private sector has played and continues to play a decisive role in the shaping of policy-making concerning knowledge-based goods. The result is an unequal battle between access to knowledge and enclosure favouring the latter over the former. Such an unbalanced scenario chiefly affects the South, but has implications for the public everywhere. The Development Agenda being proposed for adoption by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and which has been advocated for and designed by developing countries governments in collaboration with a coalition of governments, academics, civil society and public interest NGOs from both North and South, is the latest attempt to bring a balance to this scenario. However, the Development Agenda is encountering opposition and despite the unique nature of the coalition backing it, the outcome is uncertain.

How the other half shares

Open sources, Le Monde diplomatique, November 2005. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
The enormous success of the GNU/ Linux operating system, which is the free alternative to Microsoft Windows, should not be allowed to overshadow more modest victories of a whole range of other approaches to open-source cooperation:...[4] Scientific publications: the Public Library of Science (PLoS), an open-access collection of scientific journals, is beginning to reach the same level of recognition as authoritative publications such as Nature and Science. [5] The human genome project: researchers everywhere can access a shared database in the public domain, and add their annotations ( [6] Collaboration: between NGOs, governments and industry to launch medical research projects based on public healthcare needs. [7] Selection networks: for unpatented, non-GM plants and seeds.

Removing IP barriers to biomedical research

Intellectual Property Rights Must Be Balanced With Research Needs To Realize Full Potential of Biomedical Research, a press release from the U.S. National Academies (November 17, 2005. Excerpt:
Intellectual property (IP) restrictions rarely impose significant burdens on biomedical research, but there are reasons to be apprehensive about their future impact on scientific advances in this area, says a new report from the National Academies' National Research Council. The nation's policy-makers, courts, and health and patent officials should take appropriate steps to prevent the increasingly complex web of IP protections from getting in the way of potential breakthroughs in genomic and proteomic research. For example, Congress should consider legislation that would allow scientists to conduct research on patented inventions in order to discover novel uses or improvements without fear of liability for patent infringement. And should the rare case arise in which restricted access works against the interests of public health, courts should follow legal precedents and allow the provision of products or services that the public needs, while awarding compensation to particular inventors for the use of patented material....The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has been inundated with requests for patents on genes, gene fragments, proteins, and methods to study or produce them. Because thousands of genes or proteins can now be examined simultaneously, there is a real possibility that a thicket of restrictions could impede scientific progress by blocking access to previous findings. Furthermore, a federal appellate court recently rejected the claim that the so-called "experimental use" legal defense shields academic research from patent infringement liability. In the future, academic and other nonprofit research institutions may feel compelled to protect themselves and their scientific investigators from liability by trying to regulate investigators' behavior, the report says....It is rare for research to be stopped, significantly delayed, or redirected because of intellectual property mandates, the survey found. On the other hand, failure to comply with requests for the exchange of biomedical research material, patented or not, is common in both the public and private sectors....The National Institutes of Health should continue to encourage the free exchange of material and data among its grantees and contractors. Additionally, NIH should require these individuals to comply with the agency's guidelines for obtaining and disseminating biomedical research resources and for licensing genomic inventions. Industries and nonprofit institutions should standardize and streamline their processes for exchanging biological material or data. NIH also should adapt and extend the "Bermuda Rules," which were created in 1996 by scientists involved in the publicly funded human genome project. The rules instruct genomics researchers to share their data in a free public database called GenBank. They should be extended to include protein-structure data that NIH-funded centers generate for large projects in genomics, the report says. Researchers in both the public and private sectors should make this information freely available in the Worldwide Protein Data Bank, a project overseen by a consortium of international research groups....Copies of Reaping the Benefits of Genomic and Proteomic Research: Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation, and Public Health will be available this fall from the National Academies Press.

OA to research by US govt scientists

Alvin Hutchinson, Federal Repositories: Comparative Advantage in Open Access? Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Fall 2005. Excerpt:
[E]xploiting the public domain status of...federal scientists' publications would be an easy way to both maximize the impact of agency research and at the same time benefit scientists everywhere....The recent policy encouraging deposit of publications resulting from NIH-funded projects into the PubMed Central (PMC) digital repository is helping to focus attention on the issue of access to federally funded science. Although deposit in the archive is not mandatory and includes manuscripts from non-federal authors, it is a good first step in acknowledging provenance over federally funded science. The basic argument behind the initiative is that since the research is taxpayer-funded, there is no reason that it should be restricted or "owned" by anyone....Although preliminary evidence points to a slow adoption of PMC deposit by many authors, this may reflect uncertainty by non-federal employees (NIH grantees, contractors and others) about rights to deposit a manuscript which has been published commercially. However, this impediment should not exist where the author is a federal employee.... Because scientists throughout the world often work in underfunded facilities where library budgets are strained, it is time for government agencies to help one another by collecting and making publicly available their peer-reviewed scientific output in a systematic way. Open access digital repositories from scientific agencies (e.g. USDA, Dept. of Interior, NOAA) would free up volumes of research which should be publicly available. Although well-known efforts at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and other U.S. Dept. of Energy offices have made progress in freeing up federal research through e-print repositories, much more can be done. By adopting models in place at universities and other nonprofits, a series of federal science e-print repositories could make a large body of peer-reviewed works available to the scientific community. Complying with current repository standards (OAI-PMH, for example) would expose these publications to information harvesters and web crawlers, making it easier for those who most need the material to discover and use it. This clearly supports the mission of most scientific organizations. Preliminary evidence shows that open access to scientific papers increases citation rates and readership, and while that may be a debatable measurement of scholarly achievement, it is the wider dissemination of scientific research that should be the main factor in propelling this change. This is after all one of the primary goals of scientific research: to build on the work of others and guide future inquiry. A strong policy from federal agencies that ensures the availability of the results of their scientific research would contribute to the momentum already begun by the NIH and others. The absence of restrictions on making the peer-reviewed manuscripts of U.S. government scientists publicly available should be exploited given that the technology is no longer a barrier. According to Roy Tennant of the California Digital Library, the first consideration in the creation of a digital library is whether one has the rights to reproduce the material. With this hurdle removed and many technological barriers falling, federal government agencies should begin capturing and providing access to the fruits of their labor. In economics this is known as "comparative advantage" and it behooves federal agencies (and their libraries) to exploit this loophole both for their own benefit and that of the scientific record.

CERN director supports OA at WSIS

CERN Demonstrates Commitment to Goals, a CERN press release (November 17, 2005). Excerpt:
Speaking today to international delegates meeting in Tunis for the second World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), CERN Director-General Robert Aymar highlighted some of the important achievements that CERN has contributed to since the first summit in Geneva in 2003....Concerning the Open Access movement, CERN advocates the establishment of open electronic repositories for all branches of publicly financed sciences in all countries. In March, CERN's executive board endorsed an open access policy for all the Laboratory's results. CERN considers that the results of publicly financed science should be a common public good...."CERN's community of 6500 researchers of 85 nationalities has benefited from the global Information Society for many years," said Robert Aymar. "Through the WSIS process, the scientific community, at CERN and elsewhere, is sharing its experience to help bring the benefits of ICT to society as a whole. We urge all nations to support the connection of all universities around the world to the international networks for open exchange and collaboration between scientists everywhere."

Succinct intro to OA, esp. OA archiving

Stevan Harnad and the Southampton Eprints team have launched an open access page, explaining the basics and linking to key resources. Excerpt:
Putting Open Access into Practice: Researchers, their institutions and their funders need to be informed of the benefits of providing Open Access and instructed on how quickly and simply it is done. Institutional Open Access Repositories need to be created (and registered, so as to be seen and emulated by other institutions). Most important, an OA self-archiving policy for systematically filling these repositories with their target content needs to be adopted and implemented (and registered, so as to be seen and emulated by other institutions). An Institutional Repository is the best way to provide OA to research output. Software such as EPrints provides a web-based OAI-compliant IR for free.

What works for OA archiving and what doesn't

Stevan Harnad, Institutional Repository (IR) Models: What Works (for Open Access, OA) and What Doesn't, abstract of a presentation at the upcoming DASER-2 meeting, Open Access and Institutional Repositories (College Park, Maryland, December 2-4, 2005).
Born under the influence of the Open Access (OA) movement, Institutional Repositories (IRs) for digital content are now all the rage; but whether or not they work depends on their raison d'etre. There are many things one can do with an IR. One can use it for content management, preservation, internal data-sharing, record-keeping; the content itself can be anything digital, whether courseware, "gray literature," multimedia, in-house publishing, or even bought-in 3rd-party content. None of this has anything whatsoever to do with OA, however. OA is about maximizing accessibility to institutional peer-reviewed research output in order to maximize its research impact (25%-250% of it lost if non-OA), thereby maximizing institutional research productivity and progress (and prestige and research revenue). OA content in IRs is so far very low (averaging less than 15% of annual research output) -- partly because OA has been eclipsed by the many other items on the IR wish-list, partly because even where it is the only item, wishing is not enough: not if librarians wish it, not even if researchers wish it. The two international UK JISC surveys have shown clearly exactly what is needed to fill IRs with their annual OA content: An extension of institutions' and research funders' "publish or perish" mandate to: "publish but also self-archive in your IR". The 5 institutions that so far have such a mandate (CERN, U. Southampton ECS, U. Minho, Queensland U. Tech, and U. Zurich) are well on their way to 100% OA. After a crashing failure by NIH to mandate immediate OA self-archiving, and a halting half-step by the Wellcome Trust (6-month embargo), Research Councils UK (RCUK) looks poised to do the right thing at last, and once it does, the rest of the world's research funders and institutions will follow suit. The race is now to the swift, the battle to the strong, for the 25%-250% OA impact advantage is partly a competitive advantage.

Interoperability of OA licenses

The OAI standard makes OA repositories interoperable for metadata harvesting. But that's not the only important kind of OA interoperability. What if different bits of OA content are licensed under different OA-friendly licenses and you want to combine them in a new work? It turns out that they may not be legally interoperable. Creative Commons is trying to solve this problem. Excerpt from the CC blog:
[T]here is...[a] pressing interoperability issue that arises in the context of content licensed under a Creative Commons license and content licensed under other "free" licenses. As many of these licenses are now crafted, there is no way for creativity to be shared among these licenses, even if the underlying freedoms guaranteed by the licenses are the same. Thus, for example, Wikipedia is licensed under the Free Software Foundation’s GFDL. That license essentially enables the same freedoms as the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license; but you can’t take content from Wikipedia and mix it with BY-SA photos from Flickr because the licenses don’t permit interoperability. Even though the underlying freedoms are the same, the legal codes make the content non-interoperability. We want to fix this problem. Over the next few months, Creative Commons will be announcing a project to facilitate the federation of free licenses. Our aim is to make the legal code of those licenses interoperable. We will be working with as many representatives from the free culture movement as we can to build this federation of free licenses. We will appreciate your advice and feedback as we do that.

Many have talked about dual-licensing as a solution to the interoperability problem. That is a good first step, but it raises obvious problem that has been eloquently discussed on our cc-licenses list — namely, that whichever license you take content under, any derivatives that you make must then stay under that license. To solve that problem, and to begin this discussion of license interoperability, Creative Commons seeks comment on proposed amendments to Creative Commons licenses that contain a ShareAlike license element. These amendments would enable dual licensing of derivatives. By proposing (and hopefully effecting) the amendments posted here, Creative Commons hopes to enable interoperability between "free" content licenses, encourage dual licensing of open content projects and avoid the depletion those projects by barring the return of derivatives to that project. Again, this is not a long term solution. But while we begin the process of discussion to find that long term solution, we believe this will help many important free culture projects achieve a limited interoperability immediately....Please circulate your comments to and participate in the debate on the cc-licenses list.

More on the Global Information Commons for Science

David Dickson, Global project seeks to promote access to science, SciDev.Net, November 17, 2005.
A leading international scientific organisation has launched a global initiative to develop ways of increasing access to knowledge produced by publicly funded research. The Global Information Commons for Science Initiative seeks to remove restrictions to accessing information that technological advances and new ways of protecting intellectual property have created. The International Council for Science's (ICSU) Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) launched the initiative on 14 November in Tunis, Tunisia....According to CODATA, their approach seeks a "collaborative, consensual solution" to the conflict between the advantages of protecting commercial scientific data, and the economic and social costs such protection imposes on scientific enterprise. It has three specific goals. Firstly, to make people more aware of the benefits that easy access and use of scientific information will bring to society. Second, to promote the wide adoption of effective ways of increasing the availability and use of publicly funded research findings. And finally, to encourage and coordinate members of the global scientific community who are already trying to achieve the first two objectives, "particularly in developing countries"....Among the most prominent supporters of the new initiative is John Sulston, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine, and a key leader of the international human genome sequencing project. Addressing the Paris meeting, Sulston said that some people are trying hard to confine knowledge, and that new barriers to communication are forming at the very time that common access to information is most needed. "This culture impedes research and innovation, throttles ethical decision-making, widens the gap between rich and poor, and contributes to global insecurity," said Sulston.

Detailed study of the journals in the DOAJ

Sally Morris, When is a journal not a journal? A closer look at the DOAJ, a preprint, forthcoming in the January 2006 issue of Learned Publishing. Excerpt:
Some commentators have suggested that the journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) (http://www.doaj. org) are not all open access; others have expressed the view that not all are in fact current or, indeed, accessible. It has also been asserted that most of them publish very little; in response, it has been argued that this (and their relative lack of citations and financial sustainability) are simply due to the journals’ youth. I felt that it would be helpful to carry out some simple analysis of the journals in the DOAJ listing to establish whether these comments were factually correct. In the early part of 2005, I therefore enlisted the support of 21 volunteers to analyse some aspects of the 1,443 journals then listed in the DOAJ. For each journal, the volunteer was requested to identify (a) the year of the earliest article available, (b) the total number of articles (defined as ‘citeable items’, and excluding abstracts not associated with full text) published since launch, and (c) the date of the most recent article....I received responses on 1,213 journals in total. Of these, 20 journals (1.68%) turned out not to be accessible online at the time of surveying (in some cases, subsequent checks suggest that the problem was temporary; however, I have assumed that on any given date a similar percentage would be inaccessible). A further 18 (1.52%) were partly unavailable, and 10 (0.84%) were not in fact – or are no longer – full open access journals. A further 14 (1.18%) were not actually original journals – they included book series, links to advertising and product information, and articles taken from other journals. The remaining 1,150 journals turned out to be, on average, longer-established than is generally supposed (although it is not always possible to tell when a journal became open access, as some include retrodigitized archives going back, in one case, as far as 1911)....[C]ontrary to what has sometimes been claimed, the number of new starts has in fact declined since 2001....A surprising number (26) of those launched in 2004 or earlier had never really got started, publishing five articles or fewer....110 (9.74%) had published nothing since 2003 or earlier. A few did indeed signal on their website that they had closed, merged with another journal, or transferred to a commercial publisher; the remainder, however, gave no such indication. This suggests to me that the journals are probably defunct....[S]ome of the DOAJ journals have published far fewer articles than would be acceptable to subscribers under the traditional model; others have apparently ceased publication altogether, without formally notifying that fact to readers. The open access model seems to allow the creation and persistence of journals which would not survive in the traditional market – opinions will differ on whether this is a good or a bad thing.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

How one book publisher uses free content to advertise

I just ran across Formal Philosophy, edited by Vincent Hendricks and John Symons (Automatic Press, 2005). It's a priced, printed book consisting of interviews with a large number of philosophers who use formal (i.e. logical and mathematical) methods in their work. What's interesting here is that the publisher has posted substantial excerpts from many of the interviews free online, presumably as an advertisement to help sell the book. Note how much larger these excerpts are than the Google Library snippets that have frightened some publishers into a litigious frenzy. There are probably many books like Formal Philosophy and publishers like Automatic Press. Of course there are also many books for which free online full-text coexists with a priced, print edition and helps boost its sales. This is just a reminder that Pat Schroeder and the AAP don't speak for all book publishers, just as Nick Taylor and the Authors Guild don't speak for all book authors.

OA is part of new reality for scholarly communication

Blaise Cronin will give a public lecture next week (November 22) at the U of California at San Diego, Publish and/or Perish: Changes in Scholarly Communication. Excerpt from his abstract, w hich is already online:
'Publish or perish!' Generations of scholars have lived with this crude exhortation. Forget the romanticized image of the lone wolf scholar --a pensive Wittgenstein pacing his rooms at Cambridge, Einstein ambling to and from his office at the Institute for Advanced Studies. The quotidian reality is rather different, as authors jostle to bring their intellectual wares to the attention of their peers and libraries struggle to deal with the 'crisis in scholarly publishing'. The era of the gentleman-scientist and independent scholar has ceded to Big Science. Here globally distributed collaborations and hyperauthorship are the norm. The 'author-function' is being recast in an age of 'post-academic science.' In fact, 'Publish or perish!' is beginning to sound passé; it is quite possible these days to publish and perish, given the flood of books and articles. Publish in a third-tier journal and you'll be damned; publish conventionally when your peers are placing their work in open access journals and you may just be ignored. Want to grow your citation count? Just try self-archiving....

New portal for open courseware

Open Educational Resources is a comprehensive new portal of open courseware and OA resources for teaching and learning. It's searchable, of course, and browseable by subject, genre, medium, and many other parameters.

More people are using OA repositories in LIS

Andrew Waller reports that usage is up at the two major OA repositories for library and information science.
The number of visits and hits on two library and information science open access repositories, E-LIS and DLIST have greatly increased over the past year. E-LIS experienced 135,861 visits and 1,176,937 hits as of Octber 2005, up from 33,864 visits and 287,390 hits a year ago; looking just at hits, this is a 210% increase over what had been accumulated by a year ago. The number of hits on DLIST is 112,728, up from 41,146 in February 2004. Simply, these tools are being used more and more.

Google Print becomes Google Book Search

Google Print has changed its name to Google Book Search. The search box has a new URL, though the old one will take you to the new page.

The two chief projects within Google Book Search --Google Library and Google Publisher-- have not changed their names or URLs, though their pages have been updated to reflect the new name of the parent program.

More on privatizing an OA journal published by the US govt

If you remember, the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is considering the "privatization" of its open-access, peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Health Perspectives. A period for public comment on the question ended October 28.

Steve Gibb summarizes some of the public comments and controversy in yesterday's issue of Intellectual Property Watch. Excerpt:

[The] plan to privatise a prestigious open-access environmental science journal is drawing criticism from Democrats in the US Congress and activists who say public funding provides key information in environmental debates. But some environmental science experts say the journal is edited from a left-leaning political perspective and should not be funded by the US government....But the move immediately sparked controversy among leading environmental groups who rely on EHP’s open access to scientific evidence in disputes with the chemical industry over the risks posed by environmental contaminants. The controversy prompted Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and 12 other House Democrats to write to DHHS urging NIEHS not to privatise the journal because of the value of the journal’s public education and outreach benefits both domestically and abroad. The 9 November congressional letter stresses the link between public funding and the benefits of open access. “Its public funding source allows it to be an open access journal...that is essential because the vast majority of published research is available only through increasingly costly journal subscriptions, institutional licence fees, or per-article purchases. This closed system leaves the American public...under-informed about important, timely research results they helped finance.”...However, the proposal is drawing praise from some environmental science experts who say EHP’s news articles and editorial focus lean leftward and that the journal should be privatised. For example, EHP published articles backing strict children’s cancer controls in US Environmental Protection Agency toxics policies. One science policy expert, who requested anonymity, says EHP is a “point of view” journal. But an academic critic of privatisation disagrees, saying “Documenting how chemicals have adverse health effects is not subjective.” Environmental groups like the US-based Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense and over 38 other groups criticized the privatisation plan, part of over 330 public comments filed on the issue late last month. The congressional letter also praises the journal’s prestige, saying it enhances the reputation of its publisher, NIEHS. “EHP ranks second among one hundred-thirty-two environmental science journals....It is uniquely able to carry out public education efforts and grant free access to some of the most important science of our time, which the private publishing sector would be unlikely to support,” according to the congressmen. The letter also notes that the publication’s open access makes it available globally in ways unlikely to be sustained by the private sector, including to developing countries. “Because EHP is publicly funded, important public health functions are performed that the private sector would be unlikely to support. The NIEHS provides free monthly copies to those in the developing world, where environmental health problems are, in many cases, the most severe.....These programs have high public health value and would be at risk if EHP were privatised.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Future of the digital commons

MIT World has posted a video of the September 22 forum, The Future of the Digital Commons, with Nancy Kranich, Ann Wolpert, and Steven Pinker.

PLoS founders receive WTN Awards

The co-founders of PLoS --Harold Varmus, Pat Brown, and Mike Eisen-- are among the winners of the World Technology Network's 2005 World Technology Summit & Awards. Several of the other winners are working on OA-related projects, such as Yochai Benkler, Lawrence Lessig, James Love, Arti Rai, and Jimmy Wales. Congratulations to all the winners.

November D-Lib

DCL editorial on the OA debate

Open Access debate still rages, Data Conversion Laboratory News, November 2005. An unsigned editorial. Excerpt:
The US National Institute of Health (NIH) has long been at the forefront of the Open Access (OA) initiative for scientific and medical research. Researchers who benefit from NIH funding are strongly encouraged to submit published research articles to the NIH's Open Access website PubMed Central, where material is made freely available to other researchers and to the general public. Now The Wellcome Trust, the largest private funder of medical research in the UK has also adopted an OA policy. But unlike the NIH's policy, Wellcome have made it a condition that those who receive its funding must allow their results to be placed on the PubMed Central OA repository....

In October this year a survey carried out by CIBER, an independent publishing think tank, suggested that OA publishing is on the increase. The survey revealed a dramatic rise in the number of authors publishing in OA journals. Twenty nine percent of authors questioned said they'd published in an OA journal compared to only 11 percent the previous year. Ian Rowlands and Dave Nicholas, the authors of the report, said "The research community is now much more aware of the OA issue. There has been a large rise in authors knowing quite a lot about OA (up 10 percent from the 2004 figure) and a big fall in authors knowing nothing at all about open access (down 25 percent)."...However some leading lights in the publishing community are questioning OA publishing's viability. In a report named The Facts About Open Access, backed by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and Stanford University's HighWire Press, it was found that 41 percent of OA journals are losing money, 24 percent are breaking even and only 35 percent are in profit. Bob Campbell, president of Blackwell Publishing, said the survey showed that the long-term viability of OA publishing was highly questionable. "Most OA publishing houses are financially stretched," he said. "The OA model is not secure financially, it isn't delivering a stable platform and I don't think it's sustainable."....However, Dr Matthew Cockerill of UK based OA publisher BioMed Central (BMC), said it was too early to make judgments about OA: "The fact that many OA journals currently operate at a loss is simply a sign that these are early days. There is every reason to think that the passage of time will profoundly improve the ability of OA journals to cover their costs." He said that BMC's manuscript submissions were up 56 percent on the previous year....

DCL's vice president, David Skurnik, says that it is no accident that some OA Publishers are profitable. "If the Web is the only destination for these articles, we have found that the average Publisher cost per article from the point of manuscript submission to Web Publication to be just under $50. This includes the cost of tracking, conversion, QA and uploading. With time, I expect that number to go down even further. The following estimate is from customers who have no control over the manuscripts they receive. Those Publishers who are successfully utilizing technology to standardize manuscript submissions will experience even greater cost reductions since consistently structured manuscripts are easier to convert."

Google results as data for social scientists

Elise Kramer, Google Science, Cornell Daily Sun, November 16, 2005. Excerpt:
When it comes to the social sciences, however, Google serves an entirely different sort of purpose. While it is excellent for tracking down facts, figures, and research articles — all of which involve its capacity as a referrer to other sources of information — it also serves as a source of original information in its own right. It’s an index of nearly everything written in the public domain of the Internet, and as such it can provide information about the information that’s available — “meta-information,” if you will....No other corpus of human expression is so massive, so diverse, and so easily searchable as Google’s database, which is what makes it a useful tool for social science research. One domain in which Google can be used is anthropology, following cultural trends and assessing values....If linguistics is more your thing, Google’s index of billions of webpages provides insight into how people across the globe use written language. A variety of academics at the Language Log, a linguistics blog, use Google to assess common usage — for example, how often the word “guttural” is used incorrectly (pretty often), or whether people more frequently say “in the circumstances” or “under the circumstances”....Or maybe you’re interested in sociological research....I set up a crude correlational experiment; the question I was interested in was whether name was correlated with later intelligence. More specifically, I wondered whether men who went by nicknames instead of full names were likely to be dumber; stereotypes suggest that a “Joseph” is much more likely to have a college degree and a white-collar job, while a “Joey” is more likely to have a Looney Tunes tattoo. In order to do this, I selected the top ten names for baby boys in 1984, under the assumptions that A) it takes a good 20 years to establish oneself among one’s peers as dumb and B) using very common names is more likely to generate hits that refer to random people, as opposed to using a name like “Orlando” or “Keanu.” Then, for each name, I performed four Google searches: “[name] is a genius,” “[name] is an idiot,” “[nickname] is a genius,” and “[nickname] is an idiot.”...

Introducing Google Base

Google has launched Google Base, a user-friendly, web-hosted database for just about any purpose. Google's succinct description: "Google Base is a place where you can add all types of information that we'll host and make searchable online."

Most of its uses will not be scholarly, but I bring it up here because it lends itself to scholarly use. One of the pre-defined content types is Reference Articles. One sample use that GB highlights on the front page is open courseware. I can imagine moving my OA lists to GB (or to a wiki), though I don't yet have plans to do so. GB could become a kind of universal repository, not only for recipes and classified ads, but for research literature and data. It's not OAI-compliant, but it is Google-searchable. You decide whether that's enough. The main missing piece that I see is an export option for content reuse, for LOCKSS-like preservation strategies, and for the contingency that Google might fail or change its business model.

The service is free for those who post info and free for those who search and read info. It supports item-by-item entry through a web form or bulk-uploading through TSV, RSS, or Atom, and gives every posted item a unique URL for linking. There's no limit to the number of items a user may post. GB supports user-tags to facilitate searching and classification and offers a separate GB search engine. At the same time, Google says that relevant items will also be included in the main Google index.

For more details, see the about page, the FAQ, or today's Google blog posting introducing the service.

I won't try to monitor all the uses of GB, but I do plan to follow the scholarly uses. I'd be interested to hear about promising experiments. 3.0 3.0 is now online. is the comprehensive portal and flexible search engine for OA science hosted by U.S. government agencies. Version 3.0 includes many improvements to the search engine, including Boolean searching, phrase searching, field searching, wildcards, and a new relevance ranking algorithm taking advantage of available metadata.

New archiving service from the Internet Archive

The Internet Archive has launched a subscription-based service called Archive-It. From the site:
The Internet Archive's new subscription service, Archive-it, allows any user to create, manage and search their own web archive through a web interface without any technical expertise required. Archive-it can be used to archive an institution's own web site, or build collections of up to one hundred web sites. Through a web based interface users can create web collections, catalogue the websites associated with a collection, archive websites in the collection, monitor the archiving process, search and browse the collection when complete, and administer access to these collections. In addition, the service will support collaborative collections, where curators at separate organizations can create and share collections. The Internet Archive hosts the service, and stores the data, but can provide a copy for the institution's local use. The web archives can also be added to the Internet Archive's overall collection for long term access and preservation if a subscriber decides to discontinue use of the service. The primary tools used for harvesting and access are open source and the storage file format is non proprietary....The service was designed for institutions who have been mandated to preserve content on the public web and do not have the technical infrastructure or manpower to start immediately. Typical institutions are state archive, state libraries, university libraries, public service and other government service institutions.

While the service is fee-based for the archiving institution, all or most of the content is OA for users. Subscribers can choose to make their collections private, if they wish. If they do, their collections will not be OA for reading but will still be OA for searching.

SPARC comments on DC Principles proposal

SPARC Executive Director, Heather Joseph, has commented on the proposal by the DC Principles Coalition to modify the NIH public-access policy. Quoting her comment from Library Journal Academic Newswire for November 3:
SPARC executive Heather Joseph this week praised a linking plan by 57 nonprofit publishers, signatories of the DC principles for free access to research (see LJ Academic Newswire 11/1/05), saying it was an excellent plan on its merits--but not necessarily an alternative to the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) public access policy. "This is the same proposal they made a year-and-half ago," Joseph told the LJ Academic Newswire. "It's a good plan, but it doesn't go the extra step we need it to go." That step, Joseph explained, is "access now and in perpetuity" for all publicly funded research. "The problem with linking out from the PubMed site to publishers' sites is that is does not create a dependable repository. It depends on the largesse of publishers and, as well-intentioned as they are, there is no guarantee they will be there tomorrow," Joseph said.

(PS: The question is whether the publishers want NIH to link to articles at publisher web sites instead of, or in addition to, hosting its own free online copies in PMC.)

Chemical journal converts to OA and moves to BMC

Geochemical Transactions has converted to OA and moved to BioMed Central. From today's press release:
BioMed Central is pleased to announce that it will publish Geochemical Transactions, the online journal of the Geochemistry Division of the American Chemical Society, from January 1, 2006. Geochemical Transactions ranks third in impact factor among geochemistry journals and will become the first open access journal in the field....All articles that were published in the journal prior to 2006 will also retrospectively become open access....Martin Schoonen [Co-Editor in Chief] explains why the journal decided to move to BioMed Central: "For Geochemical Transactions to grow into a premier journal in our field it needs to be accessible. Geochemical Transactions was faced with the problem that many institutions are dropping subscriptions to journals to meet budgetary constraints. This disproportionally affects newer journals. By joining BioMed Central and adopting the open access format, we ensure access to Geochemical Transactions now and for the future. BioMed Central also offered us the opportunity to make the entire collection of Geochemical Transactions articles available with open access as part of the change. We are optimistic that the move will increase the visibility and impact of Geochemical Transactions."

(PS: Before BMC, Geochemical Transactions was published by the American Institute of Physics and before that --before January 2004-- it was published by the Royal Society of Chemistry.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Scholarly journal business models

Robert W. Boissy, Business Models for Scholarly Serials, Serials Review, September 2005. An editorial introducing a special issue on business models for scholarly journals. Excerpt:
Some business models are concerned with commercial gain, others are concerned with sustaining a non-profit operation, and many models combine elements to create a working whole. Increasingly we see new open access and author-driven models that are better termed distribution models than business models --as they have little or no business component at all. In an age of desktop publishing software, megabytes of free Web hosting, and distance education-driven electronic resource needs, the market seems wide open for almost any direction that scholarly communication wants to go. Publishers must now seek to minimize barriers and maximize the amount they can offer without cost to the readership. Business models that limit format options and granularity options are dangerous. All of these developments point to the eventual dominance of the electronic journal in the scholarly marketplace....Models involving free online access to the public with underwriting and resources supplied by authors, educational institutions, voluntary contributions, and other non-traditional fees are gaining visibility, even if the available content is still at modest levels. Free pre-publication access is often a component of even the most traditional publishing models.

After this orienting editorial, the issue has four articles on scholarly journal business models --none focusing on OA.

Another publisher defends Google, on the whole

Richard Nash, Why it's naïve to think that Google is the enemy, a contribution to the EPS debate on Google Print, November 15, 2005. Nash is the Publisher of Soft Skull Press. Excerpt:
I’m a publisher on the record on my blog as opposing the two U.S lawsuits --one from the Association of American Publishers, the other from the Author’s Guild-- seeking to enjoin Google from scanning books currently under copyright. The core of my opposition comes from a strongly-held belief that the public domain is imperiled --not so much by the US courts (although they’ve not been perfect), and not entirely by Congress (though they offend again and again, chiefly in the continued extensions of the copyright term, and increasingly in their attitudes towards technology, expressed most recently in the DMCA), but in the actual practice of the law. There is no system of public defenders for librarians, teachers, and creative artists as they seek to make fair use of copyrighted works....Because Google’s activities will likely expand the public domain, rendering the world’s books (let’s hope in more languages than just English), I oppose the efforts to legally shut them down. But this should not be equated with complete support for Google, now or in the future....I would certainly, had I my druthers, seek to negotiate with Google, and would not propose that publishers simply sit back and applaud Google....[T]here are other forces out there, competing with Google, and one can see well-capitalized corporate publishers realizing they can’t sit on their hands (or their authors’ hands) any more. Although, without Google forcing their hands, they would have continued to do nothing....While large-scale corporate copyright holders’ strategy of suing Google and running into the arms of Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo is appalling shortsighted, it would nevertheless be naïve to see Google as our savior.....Should we be more worried about authors unwillingly having their works scanned by Google and put online --or should we fear that writers who would otherwise be willing would be unable to have them scanned for free, indexed and put online, with links to where they may be bought (if in print) or borrowed (if available in libraries)?...If the economic history of content distribution is anything to go by, what authors and (most) publishers have to fear is being ignored by large corporations with a profit motive. So while I would not propose that we simply say ‘Thank you, Daddy to Google’, we would be massively naïve to think they’re the enemy --it’s about time someone paid attention to us.

More on OA to geospatial data

Two items from the November issue of November issue of Newsline EDINA:
  1. EDINA has improved Go-Geo, the JISC-funded OA database of geospatial data. Details in New improved Go-Geo.
  2. EDINA has launched a scoping study of Geospatial Repository for Academic Deposit and Extraction (GRADE). "GRADE will consider the suitability of today's repository software for enabling access to geospatial data. In particular, GRADE will focus on the sharing and reuse of derived geospatial data." Details in GRADE scoping study.

OA to back runs of three dental journals

The International & American Associations for Dental Research (IADR/AADR) has launched the Legacy Data Project, a repository of the complete back runs of three dental journals. All the issues are free online after a 12 month moving wall. For more details, see today's press release.

The hassle of accessing non-OA ejournals

Dorothea Salo, My Gripe About E-Journals, Caveat Lector, November 14, 2005.
I hate messing with article databases as much as the next person. Tell you what, though, there’s something I hate worse: not being able to get at an article from anywhere but MPOW’s [My Place of Work's] website. Use case: I’m gaily surfing the biblioblogosphere when I stop at a super-cool article that will revolutionize the way I do business, or something like that. The blog that posted the article is in no way, shape, or form associated with MPOW, so naturally it provides a link to the journal’s (or journal aggregator’s) website. If I follow that link, I’m stuck. The journal website does not offer me a way to authenticate as belonging to MPOW. It doesn’t even tell me whether MPOW subscribes to that journal or not. (There’s a bookmarklet idea for you, actually: “check this journal against Library X’s holdings.”) To get to the article, I have to go to MPOW’s website, drill down into it to find the journal in MPOW’s bewildering plethora of e-resources, and finally try for the article—by which time I’ve typically forgotten the citation information. (If I ever knew it. The blog, thinking the link sufficient, may not actually contain it.) It. Should. Not. Be. This. Hard. Stupid firewalled information. Bleagh. No wonder open access increases citation impact. Who needs all this hassle for one single article?

Springer's acquisition of CMG: The implications for OA

Richard Poynder, Springer acquires Current Medicine Group, Open and Shut, November 14, 2005. Excerpt, focusing on the OA implications of the deal:
Springer Science+Business Media (Springer) has announced the acquisition of the Current Medicine Group (CMG) from entrepreneur and open-access advocate Vitek Tracz....Perhaps the significant point here is that users of CMG's information pay nothing to gain access to it. As open-access advocates, and increasingly research funders, continue to demand that research articles be made freely available on the Web, sponsored publishing will surely seem like an attractive alternative model to a company like Springer. Certainly, with its profits currently heavily reliant on selling subscriptions to peer-reviewed journals, its traditional business is looking more and more vulnerable. The obvious solution to this threat, of course, is to embrace open access (OA), and adopt the OA author-pays model, where researchers (or, in most cases, their funders) pay to publish articles, which are then made freely available on the Web....Nevertheless, clearly conscious of the shifting sands, last year Springer launched its own open-access option Open Choice. This allows authors to elect to pay $3,000 to publish in Springer journals, on the basis that their paper will then be made freely available on the Web. And as a further concession to OA, this August Haank appointed former BioMed Central publisher Jan Velterop as director of open access at the company. Velterop's job is to make sure that "open access gets the required attention both internally and externally” It must be doubted, however, that Haank's sceptical views on OA, expressed to me in 2004, have changed significantly. As he put it then, "I remain sceptical about people's ability to undertake the massive redirection of money flows — both within each single institution, and within every country — that open access requires." The problem is, however, that the world is moving rapidly to the point where it will not be possible for publishers to charge people to access primary research information. To continue in business, therefore, commercial publishers will need to find alternatives to the profitable subscription-based publishing model they have long enjoyed. In this light, CMG's sponsored publishing model is likely to have proven intriguing to Springer, not least because if applied to peer-reviewed journals it could avoid the "massive redirection of money flows" within research institutions that Haank referred to, and yet still deliver OA. Whether the model can be adapted to peer-reviewed literature is not clear. But publishers face little choice but to explore all the options. Indeed, one might ask: "Since corporations are sponsoring more and more of the research conducted in universities, why should they not also sponsor peer-reviewed journals?" Likewise, if IBM can donate patents to further the cause of the open source movement, why should not companies help facilitate open access? If such questions haven’t already occurred to Springer, once it has had a chance to examine CMG's business model in more detail they surely will. It is worth noting, after all, that PLoS has itself begun seeking sponsorship, although as a not-for-profit organisation it clearly has an advantage over commercial publishers when seeking financial support. The challenge for publishers would lie in convincing potential sponsors that there was sufficient value to them in sponsoring an open-access journal. The likelihood is, of course, that a successful long-term OA model would include a range of different financial models....For Tracz, presumably, the sale of CMG provides vital new funding to enable him to continue the OA experiment he began when he launched BMC five years ago. As has been said elsewhere, OA is inevitable. Publishers, therefore, must now find ways of making it work, or get out of the the academic journal publishing business.

November issue of ScieCom.Info

The November issue of ScieCom.Info is now online. Here are the OA-related articles (in English with Swedish abstracts):
  • Thomas Brante, Modes of Publication and Scientific Quality. Excerpt: '[O]pen access publications would be a powerful tool for improving scientific discussion and quality per se. And quality should be measured with several criteria, including perhaps more difficult and cumbersome [than journal impact factors] but also much more valid criteria such as originality and depth. The standards of science should not be sacrificed on the altar of bureaucratic rationality!'
  • Frederick J. Friend, The Why and How of JISC Support for Open Access. Excerpt: 'Why does JISC support open access?...The open access model provides an opportunity to make available to lecturers, researchers and students all the content they need on open web-sites. Of particular concern to the JISC Scholarly Communication Group has been the fact that much of the content produced by the UK’s own academic community has been locked away behind subscription barriers, and its use by UK lecturers, researchers and students restricted under licensing terms favourable only to publishers and not to authors and users....How does JISC support open access?...Support for open access journals....Support for open access repositories....Support for fact-finding.'
  • Sara Gidlund, The Simple Book. Excerpt: 'The universities present a large part of their research via open access. Anything else would be unthinkable. In theory, you may gather knowledge enough for a master’s degree without unfolding a single [print] book....By allowing open access to digital versions of our publications [at Gidlunds Förlag], we obviously diminish the amount of sold and lent books, which will in turn increase the need for funding. I therefore think that the author and the publisher ought to agree at an early stage which form of publication should have priority.'
  • Tomas Lundén, Electronic Publications - Access Now and in the Future. A report of the seminar at the Royal Library, Stockholm, Sweden, October 18, 2005.
  • Tom Wilson, Trials and Tribulations? Editing Information Research, an Open Access Electronic Journal. Excerpt: 'The production of a free electronic journal has certain benefits in terms of costs: it is not necessary to keep records of subscribers, no accounts need to be kept or audited, no letters have to be sent to subscribers urging them to renew, we pay no commission to other businesses to act as agents, we have no offices within which all of these activities are carried out and employ no staff to perform them. These costs are quite significant for both paper and electronic subscription journals....If you do not have subscribers, but only readers, a significant overhead costs is clearly removed: in the case of CJTCS [Chicago Journal of Theoretical Computer Science] these were calculated at $31,050.'

Better and worse ways to identify OA articles

David Goodman, Kristin Antelman, and Nisa Bakkalbasi, Identifying Open Access Articles: Valid and Invalid Methods, in the Proceedings XXV Annual Charleston Conference: Issues in Book and Serial Acquisition, Charleston, South Carolina, 2005 (and self-archived in dLIST, November 14, 2005).
Abstract: Many versions of an article are now visible on the web, including not only open access (OA), but also paid access, preliminary versions, abstracts, and mere references or citations. The purpose of OA requires not only that the article can be read without the barrier of payment, but also that the reader can find the article to be read without the barrier of extensive searching. We will demonstrate the dubious validity of one prominent system for identifying OA and measuring the amount of OA and the OA Advantage. We will then briefly discuss the remaining alternatives.

(PS: Here's one lesson from this valuable study. Algorithmic methods for ascertaining OA tend to overcount, fooled by false positives such as articles under embargoes, articles with OA to abstracts only, and multiple copies of an article with slightly different titles. When the counts are corrected, then the OA impact advantage --the increase in citation impact correlated with OA-- increases accordingly. Bottom line: In most fields, the OA impact advantage is even larger than we thought.)

Alexandria Manifesto on libraries and OA

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has published the Alexandria Manifesto on Libraries, the Information Society in Action. Excerpt:
In pursuit of the goal of access to information by all peoples, IFLA supports balance and fairness in copyright....IFLA and libraries and information services share the common vision of an Information Society for all adopted by the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva in December 2003. That vision promotes an inclusive society based on the fundamental right of human beings both to access and to express information without restriction and in which everyone will be able to create, access, use and share information and knowledge. IFLA urges national, regional and local governments as well as international organisations to:...[3] support unrestricted access to information and freedom of expression; [4] promote open access to information and address structural and other barriers to access....Adopted in Alexandria, Egypt, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, on 11 November 2005.

Expanding the NIH policy to a public-private partnership

The DC Principles Coalition has publicly released its November 7 response to Elias Zerhoni, Director of the NIH. On November 7, Dr. Zerhouni gave a public lecture in which he defended the NIH's public-access policy. Excerpt:
The DC Principles Coalition seeks to collaborate with the NIH to provide the public with access to research material while at the same time preserving the academic and scientific societies who publish research journals. On October 17, 2005 we requested a meeting with the NIH to demonstrate how a public-private partnership, using existing resources to link to journal websites, will make access work for everyone. Linking to journal websites will bring vast amounts of research findings to the public efficiently and at no cost to the taxpayer. We look forward to hearing from the NIH about our proposal.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Free online math books

George Cain maintains a list of free online mathematics textbooks, and Alexandre Stefanov maintains another. (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)

Another TA editorial on OA

Paul M. Ness, Paul D. Mintz, and Sherri Frank, Transfusion's public access policy, Transfusion, November 2005. An editorial. Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

(PS: Without access even to an abstract, I can only guess that this editorial outlines Transfusion's policy on NIH-funded authors. Transfusion is the journal of the American Association of Blood Banks, published by Blackwell.)

Googling your genes

David A. Vise, The Google Story: An Excerpt, Washington Post, November 14. Chapter 26, "Googling your genes", from Vise's new book, The Google Story (Delacorte Press, November 15, 2005). Excerpt:
Sergey Brin and Larry Page have ambitious long-term plans for Google's expansion into the fields of biology and genetics through the fusion of science, medicine, and technology. Their goal -- through Google, its charitable foundation, and an evolving entity called -- is to empower millions of individuals and scientists with information that will lead to healthier and smarter living through the prevention and cure of a wide range of diseases. Some of this work, done in partnership with others, is already under way, making use of Google's array of small teams of gifted employees and its unwavering emphasis on innovation, unmatched search capacity, and vast computational resources....One of the most exciting Google projects involves biological and genetic research that could foster important medical and scientific breakthroughs. Through this effort, Google may help accelerate the era of personalized medicine, in which understanding an individual's precise genetic makeup can contribute to the ability of physicians and counselors to tailor health care treatment, rather than dispensing medications or recommending treatments based on statistics or averages. New insights, new medicines, and the use or avoidance of certain foods and pharmaceuticals for people with specific genetic traits are among the possible outcomes. "Just think of the application of Google to genomics," said Hennessy. "There are large databases, lots of information, and the need for search." With the addition of specialized data, he said, Google's index could aid in new discoveries in genetics. "You want to be able to use a search system that is content-dependent, with the genome and structure of DNA already built in. It is one of many potential areas where you can see this so-called 'intelligent search' making a big difference. We are going to see more and more of it." Dr. Alan E. Guttmacher, deputy director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, said Google's involvement in genetics is particularly meaningful because of its capacity to search and find specific genes and genetic abnormalities that cause diseases. He also said that its massive computing power can be used to analyze vast quantities of data with billions of parts-quantities that scientists in laboratories do not have the capacity to process. The old model of a scientist working in a lab, he said, is being replaced by the new paradigm of a researcher working at a computer, connected to databases through the Internet, and doing simulations in cyberspace. "Until recently, the challenge has been gathering data," Guttmacher said. "Now, the bigger challenge is organizing and assessing it. Google-like approaches are the key to doing that. It completely accelerates and changes the way science is done. We are beginning to have incredible tools to understand the biology of human diseases in ways we never have before, and to come up with novel ways to prevent and treat them."

Achieving OA in the social sciences

Chris Armbruster, Five Reasons to Promote Open Access and Five Roads to Accomplish it in Social and Cultural Science, a preprint archived to SSRN, November 12, 2005.
Abstract: Economists have done most to innovate scholarly publishing and communication by switching to Open Access. In cultural studies, history, law, political science and sociology, Open Access publishing is still an innovation at the margins. Yet Open Access is demonstrably the superior publishing model in the WWW Galaxy. Research networks, scholarly communities and academic tribes would do well to consider how to switch their communication and publishing to Open Access. The penalty for failing to do this will be decreased visibility and diminished impact, followed ultimately by a decline in public and philanthropic funding. For everyone, this article outlines the compelling reasons to switch to OA. Moreover, we have a common agenda when it comes to the means whereby Open Access is achieved. We will all suffer if a sub-optimal lock-in occurs and innovation spaces are blocked. Therefore, full and partial OA solutions are evaluated. There is also a genuine need for collaboration when it comes to developing the next generation of overlay services such as literature awareness tools, information mining tools and search engines.

OA archiving in developing countries

Leslie Chan, Barbara Kirsop and Subbiah Arunachalam, Open Access Archiving: the fast track to building research capacity in developing countries, SciDev.Net, undated but apparently posted November 14, 2005.
Abstract: The science base in the developing world cannot be strengthened without access to the global library of research information. Currently, this is nearly impossible due to the high costs of journal subscriptions, with the result that even the most prestigious institutes in poorer countries cannot afford to buy the journals they need. Many initiatives have been started to resolve the access problem, but progress has been slow and, since they are generally dependent on grants or subsidies, are unlikely to be long-term solutions. With the advent of the Open Access (OA) initiative, the outlook for building science capacity in developing countries has improved significantly. In particular, the establishment of interoperable open access archives that is now underway by a rapidly growing number of institutes opens opportunities for true global knowledge exchange. OA archives are described and progress in both developed and developing regions is recorded, concluding with recommendations of what remains to be done to achieve the goal of free access to all publicly-funded research publications.

SciDev also posted a short version of this article, November 14, 2005.

Update. In a posting to SOAF today (11/15), the authors explain that "[t]he article was originally written at the invitation of the editor of New Review of Information Networking for a special issue on open access. The publisher of the journal, Taylor and Francis, originally agreed to provide open access to the issue. After the paper was peer-reviewed and accepted for publication, we were informed that the paper was no longer going into the special OA issue due to insufficient submissions. The paper was to be included in a regular issue instead and as a result open access to the article would not be granted. After learning that we are not permitted to archive the final version of the paper, we decided to withdrew the paper from Taylor and Francis. To ensure that the paper is widely read, particularly by those who can't afford the subscription, we submitted the paper to SciDev.Net, an online publication dedicated to "the provision of reliable and authoritative information on science- and technology-related issues that impact on the economic and social development of developing countries."

PLoS founders among this year's Scientific American 50

In its December issue, Scientific American will announce the 50 award-winners in this year's Scientific American 50. The issue is not out yet, but Mercury News has learned that Pat Brown and Mike Eisen of Public Library of Science will be named "for championing open access to scientific and medical research." Congratulations to Pat, Mike, and everyone at PLoS.

A critique of Michael Gorman's critique of Google Library

K. Matthew Dames, ALA's Gorman Strikes Out Again, Copycense, November 4, 2005. (Thanks to Library Journal.) A response to Michael Gorman's criticism of Google Library in the November 1 Wall Street Journal. Gorman is the president of the American Library Association. Excerpt:
Mr. Gorman's comments show a shocking naivete about his presidential post, a stunning lack of perspective and knowledge about the Google Print projects, and a disappointing waste of the influence the ALA could and should wield in this debate....[The] ALA needs to have an official position on this issue....That the largest library representative organization in the country does not have a position or opinion in this debate is unacceptable. ALA needs to get in the game....It is unconscionable -- stupid, even -- to think that quotes from the president of any organization ALA's size will fail to be considered the tenor of the membership. If Gorman's comments do not reflect ALA's membership or board, he is out of touch with his organization or made a colossal mistake. If his comments are consistent with what ALA's membership wants, then the four library organizations need to have a sit down and discuss a coordinated response. But that sit down should take place in private -- preferably before Gorman has looked foolishly out of place in speaking to The Wall Street Journal. Even Gorman's rationale for calling the project a "potential disaster" sounds idiotically irrelevant given the context of the debate and the article. Both the debate and the core theme of the Journal's article are about copyright, yet Gorman chose to frame his response in terms of the proper uses of scholarly texts. Who cares about the proper use of scholarly texts if the texts never get used? Sure, Google is looking to make money from the Print project, but if it allows access to knowledge in a respectful, economical way, then that sounds like an issue about which ALA has a stake, and should have an opinion. Has it occurred to Gorman that Google's digitization projects may allow a researcher to discover a source about which she knew nothing, and then enter a library to use that text or order it through the interlibrary loan process?

(PS: I responded to Gorman's comments on November 3.)

Google reply to Pat Schroeder

Jim Gerber, Critics misunderstand library project, USA Today, November 13, 2005. Google's Director of Content Partnerships for Google Print Library replies to Pat Schroeder's embarrassing op-ed in the November 7 issue. Excerpt:
On an issue that she has taken on as a personal crusade, one might expect Association of American Publishers President Pat Schroeder to get her arguments straight. Unfortunately, her editorial instead relies on misleading language and claims that do not stand up to close scrutiny....The most glaring example of this is Ms. Schroeder's assertion that Google will "make available our work to the world for free." This claim simply does not hold up. The Google Print Library Project does not "make available" the books that we index from our library partners any more than a TV guide makes a television show available, or a library card catalog entry makes an entire book available. Google Print does index the full text of each book so that a user can get a list of every book that mentions his or her topic, just as easily as finding a website today. The end result is a full text, searchable electronic card catalog that, just like a traditional card catalog, helps you choose a book but doesn't deliver the book itself. Unless the publisher or author has given us permission to show more (and thousands have), users see only a card catalog-like entry showing bibliographic information, a few sentences with their search terms in context and links to where they can buy or borrow the book (see [these examples]). Google Print is simply a new and more effective way for readers to find more books and thus for the publishing industry to find readers, which is why virtually every major U.S. publisher participates in the Google Print Publisher Program. It's important to continue discussing how best to protect the creative community's work while using this remarkable new medium as effectively as possible. Ms. Schroeder does a disservice to our many publishing industry partners — who are also her constituents — through her exaggerated, misleading rhetoric.

(PS: My most recent response to Pat Schroeder's position was on November 3.)

Another book author on Google Library

Paul Andrews, Google lawsuit poses dilemma, Seattle Times, November 14, 2005. Excerpt:
As a longtime dues-paying member of the Authors Guild, I'm party to a lawsuit against Google over its new book-search service called Google Print. As an author of two books, though, I'm not sure I want to be suing Google. Every writer wants his or her work to be read. But to be read, a work needs to be found. Digital search is fast becoming the de facto way to be found. The problem is that finding something digitally too easily equates to possessing it....One thing the controversy has highlighted is the publishing industry's desperate need to climb aboard the 21st century. "Web users are way out in front of the business model," said Chuck Richard, an analyst at Outsell, which tracks information markets. Readers are migrating to digital in droves, but revenue is mired on the print side, Richard said. It may be that the only thing worse than Google Print would be no Google Print. Without some digital equivalent to the concept of a library, a lot of great writing could be lost to the ages. And no one — readers, authors, publishers, Google and its competitors — would benefit from that.

Profile of Tim Berners-Lee

Elizabeth D. Hoover, The Inventor of the World Wide Web, American Heritage, November 12, 2005. Excerpt:
Every once an a while an invention comes along that seems to change the world. Such were the automobile, the printing press, television, and even the heat pump, but none of them changed the world as fast as the World Wide Web. It was born just 15 years ago today, by one measurement, yet the Web has managed to affect everything from international commerce to personal relations, from how revolutions begin to how you look up a recipe for corn muffins....On November 12, 1990, he formally proposed his project in a memo to his employers at CERN. Implementation went forward the next day. By the time he introduced the Web to the public, personal computers had become very popular, so it was easy for people to join it. Within five years, the Web had 40 million users. In 2004 Computer Industry Almanac estimated that 1.07 billion people used it regularly....Berners-Lee was driven by a free-spirited curiosity and desire to make information accessible to everyone, and he has remained devoted to using the Web to keep the Internet, which was once only a tool of the elite, open to the masses....While the inventors of Netscape and Google and other businesses have amassed millions, Berners-Lee has not capitalized on the Web’s moneymaking potential. Instead he has stood by the principles of open access and the democratizing possibilities of his invention.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

More on the new CIBER study

Open access journals are a hit, study confirms, European Commission Research, November 14, 2005. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
Whether traditional scholarly publishers are ready for it or not, open access journals are a growing phenomenon. Some of the initial concerns about quality are diminishing and the number of researchers either using the medium to publish findings, or to keep up with each other’s work, is on the rise, according to the latest survey on new journal publishing models. There is no hiding the fact that a major shift in the nature and format of scholarly communication is underway. It has its advocates but it also has its detractors. But just how much does the research community know about open access journals or media, such as BioMed Central? And what do senior researchers think of the growing trend towards publishing findings in peer-reviewed online media? CIBER, an independent think tank based at University College London, sought answers to these questions and many more in their study of New Journal Publishing Models. Findings in the study confirm those in a similar study carried out in 2004....[A]ccording to the report’s authors, Ian Rowlands and Dave Nicholas, the research community is now much more aware of the open access alternative (OA). A total of 29% of the 5 513 senior authors surveyed say they have published in an open access journal, compared with 11% one year earlier. Similarly, 30% of authors surveyed claimed to know “a lot” or “quite a lot” about open access journals – up from 18% in 2004....There was a clear divide, the study suggests, in approval ratings for open access journals between younger “enthusiasts” from Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe and their more conservative mid-career colleagues rooted in what the authors call the “Anglosphere mainstream”. Rowlands and Nicholas found that respondents strongly believe OA improves accessibility to research – 75% surveyed agreed with the statement “High prices make it difficult to access journals”.

Update. On November 14, the Publishers Association issued a press release emphasizing the report findings that are more skeptical of OA or more supportive of traditional publishing.

John Willinsky's book, The Access Principle

John Willinsky's book, The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship (MIT Press, 2005) is now shipping. From the MIT description:
In The Access Principle, John Willinsky describes the latest chapter in [an] ongoing story -- online open access publishing by scholarly journals -- and makes a case for open access as a public good. A commitment to scholarly work, writes Willinsky, carries with it a responsibility to circulate that work as widely as possible: this is the access principle. In the digital age, that responsibility includes exploring new publishing technologies and economic models to improve access to scholarly work. Wide circulation adds value to published work; it is a significant aspect of its claim to be knowledge. The right to know and the right to be known are inextricably mixed. Open access, argues Willinsky, can benefit both a researcher-author working at the best-equipped lab at a leading research university and a teacher struggling to find resources in an impoverished high school. Willinsky describes different types of access...discusses the contradictions of copyright law, the reading of research, and the economic viability of open access. He also considers broader themes of public access to knowledge, human rights issues, lessons from publishing history, and "epistemological vanities." The debate over open access, writes Willinsky, raises crucial questions about the place of scholarly work in a larger world -- and about the future of knowledge. John Willinsky is Pacific Press Professor of Literacy and Technology at the University of British Columbia.

Congratulations, John. I'm glad to reaffirm my blurb from the jacket:

John Willinsky understands the way the Internet changes everything for scholarly communication and has written a clear and compelling defense of open access, both in principle and in practice. I recommend it especially for its treatment of copyright issues and the special situation of scholarly societies and developing countries.

Repositories in engineering

The JISC-funded PerX project (Pilot Engineering Repository Xsearch) has produced a list of repositories in engineering and an analysis of their implications for the PerX project. PerX focuses on resource-discovery and for its purposes repositories need not be OA and need not be OAI-compliant.

Two million downloads from the eScholarship Repository

Last week, the University of California's OA eScholarship Repository reached the milestone of two million downloads. From the announcement:
Adoption of the eScholarship Repository is accelerating. It took two years to log the first half-million downloads in the repository, but only a single year to reach the one million mark. Now, in less than nine months, use of the repository has doubled again, bringing the complete article and paper downloads beyond 2,000,000. The repository, which is used by UC scholars and researchers in more than 200 academic departments systemwide, should reach another significant milestone before year's end -- 10,000 unique paper and articles submissions. Several new services have enhanced the eScholarship Repository's appeal. The Postprints service, which was launched in February of this year, increased submissions by 20% and seems to have fed rising interest in journals and other peer-reviewed series --including a new monographic series by UC Press. Also, beginning this month the Postprints service supports submission of articles to the repository by author-assigned proxies. Finally, academic units and departments can retrospectively and virtually collect postprints into their branded collections without disturbing the unique Postprints collection. For more information see [here].

CalPIRG endorses OA

In September, the California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG) released a report, Limited Knowledge: How The High Cost Of Academic Journals Limits Public Access To Research. From the executive summary:
The future of academic research is in peril. University budgets are decreasing while the cost of academic journals is skyrocketing. As a result, universities are unable to purchase vital journal subscriptions that help boost the quality and success of new academic research. Fortunately, new and innovative solutions are growing in popularity and have the potential to change the future of academic communication....Faculty should try to publish their work in journals that will reach a large audience and are low cost. When that is not possible, faculty should try to retain key rights to their works when negotiating with high cost publishers. Such rights allow faculty to distribute their research to a broader audience and submit it to an institutional repository....When deciding tenure, university administrations should consider all research published by a faculty member including high-quality, low-cost and/or open access journals....Faculty should try to publish in open access journals....Administrators and librarians should create permanent standing archives in which researchers at the institution can deposit their work. The university system maintains the archive and makes available the research stored within it over the Internet. This guarantees free permanent access to the research produced by that university to the university itself, other university systems and the public....The creation of central, standing archives for publicly funded research allow free access to valuable information, benefiting universities, government agencies, and the general public. Individual professors, universities and organizations dedicated to increasing access to research have successfully made initial steps towards solving this problem by implementing one or more of the strategies described here, but more rigorous change is needed in order to balance the public’s need for advanced research and the publishers’ profits.

Also see the September 15 press release.

More on OA to dissertations

Jill Russell, Opening access to UK doctoral theses: the EThOS Project, Serials Review, November 2005. Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

The transition to OA

Fytton Rowland, How do we provide access to the content of scholarly research information? Serials Review, November 2005.
Abstract: Access to published scholarly research information can be achieved in a number of ways, of which traditional subscription-based publishing is only one, and not necessarily the most preferable. Authors need visibility and impact for their work, while institutions need to be able to obtain at an affordable cost - usually through their libraries - access to all the research papers needed by staff and students. While much has been achieved by bulk deals and consortial negotiation with publishers, it is now felt that open access journals, subject repositories and institutional repositories show potential, and their further development and deployment should be encouraged. Institutions and publishers need to investigate the potential of models that allow a graceful and sustainable transition from old to new paradigms.

After the digitizing revolution, the metadata revolution

David Weinberger, Crunching the metadata: What Google Print really tells us about the future of books, Boston Globe, November 13, 2005. Excerpt:
[D]espite the present focus on who owns the digitized content of books, the more critical battle for readers will be over how we manage the information about that content --information that's known technically as metadata. We've been managing book metadata basically the same way since Callimachus cataloged the 400,000 scrolls in the Alexandrian Library....Arrange the books one way on the shelves, physically separate the metadata from them, and arrange the metadata in convenient ways. This technique works so well for organizing physical books that we've long overlooked its basic limitation: Because books and their metadata have, until recently, been physical objects, we've had to pick one and only one way to order them in defined, stable ways. When Melvil Dewey introduced the Dewey decimal classification system in 1876, it was an advance because it shelved books by topic, making the library's floor plan into a browsable representation of the order of knowledge itself. But no one classification can represent everyone's way of organizing the world. You may file a field guide to the birds under natural history, while someone else files it under great examples of the illustrative art and I file it under good eating. The digital world makes it possible for the first time to escape this limitation. Publishers, libraries, even readers can potentially create as many classification schemes as we want. But to do this, we'll need two things. First, we'll need what are known as unique identifiers-such as the call letters stamped on the spines of library books. Unfortunately, any system that assigns numbers to books based on what they're about is going to suffer from Dewey's weakness. Both Google Print and Amazon use the International Standard Book Number, or ISBN. Created in the 1960s, the ISBN is a good starting point; still, it may not be the ultimate solution. Only books published since the '60s have them, for one thing....[I]in the near future we'll need identifiers for individual chapters, paragraphs, even illustrations. ISBNs only identify the book as a whole. Second, we're going to need massive collections of metadata about each book. Some of this metadata will come from the publishers. But much of it will come from users who write reviews, add comments and annotations to the digital text, and draw connections between, for example, chapters in two different books....The real challenge to traditional publishing today comes not from the digitizing of books, then, but from the very nature of the Web itself. Using metadata to assemble ideas and content from multiple sources, online readers become not passive recipients of bound ideas but active librarians, reviewers, anthologists, editors, commentators, even (re)publishers. Perhaps that's what truly scares publishers and authors about Google Print.