Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, December 03, 2005

New book on library tech covers some OA topics

Nancy Courtney (ed.), Technology for the Rest of Us : A Primer on Computer Technologies for the Low-Tech Librarian, Libraries Unlimited, 2005. This new book has chapters on OpenURLs by Walt Crawford, the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting by Sarah Shreeves, and Institutional Repositiories by Charly Bauer. (Thanks to LIS News.)

BMC has 13 independent OA journals in development

BioMed Central (BMC) publishes more than 100 journals in their own right. BMC also hosts a growing stable (77 and counting) of independent Open Access journals. Thirteen more independent Open Access journals are currently in development at BMC. Biological Knowledge; ISSN: 1745-4743. Biology Direct; ISSN: 1745-6150. Cell Division; ISSN: 1747-1028. Diagnostic Pathology; ISSN: 1746-1596. Geochemical Transactions; ISSN: 1467-4866. Sponsored, but poorly promoted by the American Chemical Society's Geochemistry Division, BMC will be the 3rd online publisher of this title following disappointing stints under the auspices of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Institute of Physics. Implementation Science; ISSN: 1748-5908. International Breastfeeding Journal; ISSN: 1746-4358. Journal of Biomedical Discovery and Collaboration; ISSN: 1747-5333. Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine; ISSN: 1747-5341. Radiation Oncology; ISSN: 1748-717X. Scoliosis; ISSN: 1748-7161. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy; ISSN: 1747-597X. Synthetic and Systems Biology; ISSN: 1747-8332. Trials; ISSN: 1745-6215.

Peter Murray-Rust on open source and open access in chemistry

David Bradley interviews Peter Murray-Rust in Reactive Reports, Issue #50. Excerpt:

What do you foresee happening in the arena of Open Source development and online access to chemical databases in the next few years?

I see databases being replaced by open publication into the Web environment and this is already happening in bio- and other sciences. In principle, this can happen in chemistry if the attitude is right. There is always going to be a formal need for reference such as patent data but for current awareness Google is likely to be more valuable than conventional human-created databases. Open source acceptance is purely cultural. Most sciences welcome it. In the library world and bioscience it is assumed that all new developments are open source. But in chemistry there are entrenched attitudes such as, "If it's free it can't be good,"...

More on Chmoogle

David Bradley, Oogling for Chemists, Reactive Reports, Issue #50. Excerpt:
San Diego based eMolecules Inc has launched what one might consider to be the chemical equivalent of the Google search engine - "Chmoogle". The company describes Chmoogle as the world's leading free open-access chemistry search engine and its mission is to discover, curate, and index all of the public chemical information in the world, and make it available to the public.... 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!"... Before Chmoogle, there was no free Internet resource of this nature. It provides a genuine cheminformatics system that anyone could use to find information using a substructure search. A number of academic institutions have searchable databases, but they're usually focused on their particular field of science, and their search systems are often primarily for organizing only their data. Chmoogle's goal is to be the search system to index all of the world's publicly available chemical information....

DASER Summit bloggers

Dorothea Salo and Christina Pikas are (separately) blogging the DASER-2 Summit, Digital Libraries, Institutional Repositories, Open Access (College Park, Maryland, December 2-4, 2005).

More on the DCPC proposal

Stacie Bloom, Taking the direct route to make open access even easier, Journal of Clinical Investigation, December 2005. A short restatement of the DC Principle Coalitions proposal for the NIH to link to articles at publisher web sites instead of hosting its own OA copies.

(PS: Bloom does not attempt to answer any of the objections to the DCPC proposal or to consider the reasons why the NIH is willing to link to publisher sites in addition to, but not instead of, hosting its own OA copies.)

More on OA books

Gary Price, Public Domain Books: More than 25,000 Full Text Books in a Single Database, Search Engine Watch, December 2, 2005. A timely reminder of John Mark Ockerbloom's wonderful Open Books Page.

Friday, December 02, 2005

PLoS journals -- end of year update

PLoS Clinical Trials was originally slated for a November 2005 debut. Current information places the introduction in March 2006. PLoS Environment has an ISSN registered. A year ago it was expected to launch in September 2005. I couldn't find any information about the journal on the PLoS website.

Intro to the broadcasting treaty

I've been following the news on the proposed broadcasting treaty but I haven't been blogging it. The news is voluminous and mostly off-topic for OAN. But here's the best short description I've seen of the treaty and its implications for OA.

James Love, A UN/WIPO Plan to Regulate Distribution of Information on the Internet, Huffington Post, November 30, 2005. Excerpt:

What is proposed is as follows. Any web page operator who makes any combination or representations of “images or sounds . . . accessible to the public . . . at substantially the same time,” would be granted a new right, to authorize or prohibit anyone from copying the data, or republishing or re-using the information in any form. This may sound like copyright, but it’s not. This new “webcaster” right is something that would apply to public domain material, and it would apply to works that are copyrighted, even if the webcaster is not the copyright owner, and does not even have a license to use or to restrict access to the copyrighted work. What this means is this. If you download a file from the Internet, you would have to get the permission of the web page operator before you could republish the data elsewhere. This permission would be in addition to any permissions you would need from the actual copyright owner, and it would even be required if you are seeking to publish something that was either in the public domain under copyright law, or that had been licensed for distribution under something like a creative commons license. This new “webcaster right” would be automatic, and come also with a whole set of new requirements to enforce technological protection measures (TPM) and digital rights management (DRM) schemes on Internet transmissions. The webcaster would have an ownership right in the information for 50 years, and the 50 year term would start new with every transmission of information....Academics like Jamie Boyle from Duke note that the co-existence of different legal regimes in different countries provides for a natural experiment. Is the Rome "broadcasters' right" needed to stimulate investment in broadcasting? Obviously not, he notes, given the health of broadcasters in countries like the US....WIPO will convene meetings in April and June to debate this issue, and then decide by September 2006 if a diplomatic conference on the new Rome+ broadcaster treaty will be scheduled, and if they will consider treaty provisions for “webcasting.”...In the words of the treaty critics, the treaty proponents are guilty of piracy of the knowledge commons. They are seeking to claim ownership rights in works they did not create, and which today they do not own. They want something different from copyright, and different from the legal regime that exists in any country. They want to own what they simply transmit. And this will be quite harmful to the Internet.

For more details, see the CPTech page on the broadcasting treaty.

Snapshot of the Australian web

Back in June and July, the Internet Archive (IA) spent six weeks crawling the entire Australian (*.au) internet domain. The crawl harvested 185 million documents or about 6.69 terabytes of data. One copy of the harvested pages is archived at the National Library of Australia and another is archived and OA at the IA's Wayback Machine. For details, see Paul Koerbin's October report.

Eric Lease Morgan's trip to OAI4

Eric Lease Morgan has written a log on the OAI4 meeting in Geneva (October 20-22, 2005). Excerpt:
Herbert Van de Sompel (Los Alamos National Laboratory) opened up the main session with "What's new from the OAI?" In a nutshell, Van de Sompel reviewed the success of the OAI-PMH protocol, and he advocated the protocol be used to harvest not only meta-data, but data itself....Eric Lease Morgan (University of Notre Dame) described how us Ockham-ites used various open source tools and "light-weight" protocols to create MyLibrary@Ockham....If I understand [John] Bollen's conclusions correctly, the ISI impact factors for particular journals match rather closely with the results of his statistical analysis. I believe Bollen's presentation has affected my thinking regarding the implementation of the University Libraries of Notre Dame institutional repository. If I can demonstrate to authors that their impact factor increases through the use of open access publishing techniques, then I think I will have an easier time convincing authors to contribute. Tim Brody (University of Southampton) advocated the use of OpenURL's to the output of OAI responses to improve retrieval of described records as well as to facilitate the implementation of additional services against the content....Alma Swan (Key Perspectives, Ltd.) was a consultant who provided a very good overview of the open access movement....I then attended another workshop. This one was called "Our authors are central" and it outlined steps in the creation of an institutional repository. True to the title, it advocated user-centered design in the creation of repositories. Save their time. Create publication lists for them. Make their content more visible. Do not describe the repository as a solution to the librarian's serials pricing crisis problem because that is a non-issue for authors. It was in this workshop where I first articulated for myself, "institutional repositories are not replacements but a supplement to scholarly communication and ArXiv is a good example." Jennifer De Beer (Stellenbosch University) described the open access publishing efforts taking place in South Africa. Bill Hubbard (SHERPA) described OpenDOAR as a directory of open access institutional repositories. It is analogous to DOAJ, the Directory of Open Access Journals. He described OpenDOAR as a tool for many types of users: administrators, funders, IR managers, service providers, open access advocates and stakeholders....Most importantly, I learned about some of the challenges of creating and maintaining institutional repositories. The issues are not necessarily technical but rather social, legal, and political. I sincerely believe open access publishing through things like institutional repositories can supplement and enhance the scholarly communications process. The goal is not to remove traditional print publishing, but to increase the sphere of knowledge in the most effective means possible. Geneva was beautiful.

More on the Royal Society statement

Sophie Rovner, Royal Society Is Cautious About Open Access, Chemical & Engineering News, December 5, 2005. Excerpt:
Britain's Royal Society has published a position statement warning of the potential costs of mandating free access to journal articles. The independent scientific academy says a hasty shift to open-access publishing could reduce learned societies' ability to support scientific activities, kill off some existing journals, and even “hinder rather than promote the exchange of knowledge between researchers.” The society does not oppose open access. In fact, it provides free access to its journal articles 12 months after publication. But the society says some research funders, particularly in biomedicine, are lobbying for an “increase in the pace at which Web-based open-access journals, repositories, and archives are being developed, with the emphasis on immediate open access.” The society “believes that there is a lack of consideration of the potential impact” of such changes. Part of the support for free access is coming from the Wellcome Trust, the U.K.'s largest nongovernmental funder of biomedical research. In October, the trust began requiring its grant recipients to deposit their research papers in the open-access PubMed Central article repository for release within six months of publication. Research Councils UK, whose member councils are Britain's leading public funders of science, is due to update its stance on open access in late December or early January. RCUK published a preliminary policy in support of open access in June.

(PS: My comments on the RS statement are summarized in the December issue of SOAN.)

December SOAN

I just mailed the December issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue takes a close look at the recent Working Group recommendation to strengthen the NIH public-access policy and the OA news coming out of the Tunis phase of WSIS. It also asks how the expanding web is like the expanding universe and how search engines and open access are like the gravity that may, or may not, hold it all together. The Top Stories section takes a brief look at milestones at several OA resources, a worldwide wave of new repository launches, new search developments that affect OA, the Royal Society position statement, and the rapidly multiplying book-scanning projects.

The success of JMIR

M.J. Suhonos, JMIR - A Year in the Life of an Open-Access Journal, Suhono's blog, undated but c. December 2, 2005. Excerpt:
Last month marks a year since the Journal of Medical Internet Research was re-launched under its new framework. A website launch is a scary, exciting event: things can go horribly wrong, things you had never anticipated happen, and occasionally, things work out right....It's amazing to look back and see how it has grown and changed during that time - JMIR has doubled by almost all metrics, and even tripled (or more) in a few. For example:

* unique monthly visitors have increased from 11,000 to 31,000
* monthly hits have gone from under 200,000 to over 630,000
* monthly visits were a constant 15,000 in 2004, growing to 56,000 in 2005
* registered readers (9,508), authors (2,000), and peer reviewers (909) have all doubled
* 25 institutions and 236 people bought memberships in the first year on average, every 4 seconds, someone is viewing a page of the journal

...Aggregate statistics tell part of the story, but what's particularly noteworthy is that the new people who are visiting JMIR are staying longer, reading it more, and regularly checking it:

* average visit duration increased from 230 seconds to 334 seconds
* twice as many visitors (8%) are staying for longer than 30 minutes
* unique visitors returned 1.79 times on average, up from 1.37 times
* RSS feeds account for over 25% of traffic (meaning many people are using them)
* the number of people adding JMIR to their bookmarks tripled from 5% to 14%
* traffic from bookmarks/RSS increased from 61% to 77%

Not bad for an independently-published, specialized, (predominantly) online-only, non-profit, Open Access journal. Perhaps the Royal Society's recent statement on Open Access doesn't stand up to the reality of journals like JMIR. In fact, the quality and quantity of research published by JMIR has only increased (33 articles in 2003, 49 in 2004, almost 60 in 2005 - while maintaining the same acceptance rate of around 45%). At the same time, agreements with CrossRef, ISI, and PubMed Central...all serve to increase the visibility and dissemination of high-quality academic research published in JMIR. When I think of this evidence as to the incredible potential of Open Access publishing models, I'm reminded of the journal's acknowledgement statement:

The Journal of Medical Internet Research is a non-profit academic project, by eHealth researchers for eHealth researchers, without involvement of any major publishers. We are convinced that the Internet opens novel ways to publish and peer-review scholarly work independently from any of the large publishing houses, and this Journal is a living example. We also think that research work should remain the property of the creator and be distributed under an Open Access model (as opposed to researchers signing away the copyright of their work).
The revolution, it would seem, is succeeding.

Tool for OA humanities content

Bethany Nowviskie, COLLEX: semantic collections & exhibits for the remixable web, a preprint, November 2005. Excerpt:
Collex is a set of tools designed to aid students and scholars working in networked archives and federated repositories of humanities materials: a sophisticated collections and exhibits mechanism for the semantic web. It allows users to collect, annotate, and tag online objects and to repurpose them in illustrated, interlinked essays or exhibits. Collex functions within any modern web browser without recourse to plugins or downloads and is fully networked as a server-side application. By saving information about user activity (the construction of annotated collections and exhibits) as “remixable” metadata, the Collex system writes current practice into the scholarly record and permits knowledge discovery based not only on the characteristics or “facets” of digital objects, but also on the contexts in which they are placed by a community of scholars. Collex builds on the same semantic web technologies that drive MIT’s SIMILE project and it brings folksonomy tagging to trusted, peer-reviewed scholarly archives. Its exhibits-builder is analogous to high-end digital curation tools currently affordable only to large institutions like the Smithsonian. Collex is free, generalizable, and open source and is presently being implemented in a large-scale pilot project under the auspices of NINES....We began work on Collex under the auspices of NINES and in the midst of collaboration with the UVA Library’s “Sustaining Digital Scholarship” initiative, an exploration of methods for preserving and offering open access to digital tools and scholarly resources through federated repository systems like FEDORA....We began work on Collex under the auspices of NINES and in the midst of collaboration with the UVA Library’s “Sustaining Digital Scholarship” initiative, an exploration of methods for preserving and offering open access to digital tools and scholarly resources through federated repository systems like FEDORA.

OA is "like intellectual health care"

Will Richardson, On Being Radical, Weblogg-ed, December 2, 2005. Excerpt:
I'm probably among the least radical people I know, but I'm starting to feel like one more and more, especially after listenting to Stephen Downes' keynote "On Being Radical" from last month (slides here.) I've learned much from his thinking over the past few years....[Quoting Downes:] "We're now in an enivronment where the knowledge and our lives depend on the connections we create between people, and for those connection to work, there has to be a free flow of information and that means open access." That's a huge shift, especially for people who make their living creating content. But it's happening because it can't not happen at this point, save some controlling authority stepping in. And it's also why it is so crucial that every single person be provided access to the information. Right now, it's like intellectual health care. We need to make it happen.

Sam Vaknin interivews Michael Hart

Sam Vaknin, The Ubiquitous Project Gutenberg - Interview with Michael Hart, Its Founder, Global Politician, December 2, 2005. Excerpt:
Michael Hart conceived of electronic books (e-books) back in 1971. Most pundits agree that in the history of knowledge and scholarship, e-books are as important as the Gutenberg press, invented five centuries ago. Many would say that they constitute a far larger quantum leap. As opposed to their print equivalents, e-books are public goods: cost close to nothing to produce, replicate, and disseminate. Anyone with access to minimal technology or even the oldest computers can read e-books. Hart established Project Gutenberg - a repository of tens of thousands of public domain texts, freely available online. It is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind and has spawned numerous imitators, emulators, and mirror site. E-books became a mainstream item with giant commercial enterprises - from Microsoft through Yahoo and Amazon to Google - entering the fray. "Now that e-books are becoming mainstream, the giant commercial enterprises such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon and Random House are attempting to co-opt the e-book world from its 'Unlimited distribution' origin to the old 'Limited Distribution' paradigm of the common business plan." - says Hart....

As the man who pioneered e-books, how do you feel about Google Print Library, MSN Book Search, Wikibooks, and Yahoo's Open Content Alliance? Do you feel vindicated - or unjustly ignored?

Actually both, and quite thoroughly in both cases....

How do you feel about e-book piracy? Is it partly a reaction to overly onerous copyright laws? Does PG work with intellectual property lawyers?

I used to mention in my emails that there were thousands of "Pirates' Coves" online, but not one of them did eBooks, and that we would know when eBooks had finally "made it" when such things came into existence, just as the sales of the first million selling book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, were largely due to pirated editions. Anyone who says the publishers' history doesn't include piracy, just isn't looking....

Do you think that Project Gutenberg - the largest online repository of public domain and copyrighted books - threatens the publishing industry's and media conglomerates' vested interests?...

The publishers want to be the ONLY source of information, and to make it available on a "pay per" basis, so the greatest effect of these copyright extensions is not to have MORE books in bookstores, but FEWER [in the public domain]....But copyright laws are enacted quietly and behind smokescreens. The US Copyright Act of 1998 was passed in the same 24 hours as President Clinton was impeached, and behind closed doors - I tried to testify - with a voice vote only so there would be no voting record. Thus, a common person would never have heard about it. Even I, who was trying to go testify, didn't learn about it for three weeks....We have been threatened with a number of lawsuits, mostly by lawyers who seem to know very little about copyright. After we explained what we are doing, under which laws, it turns out they were just "blowing smoke" at us, trying to make us honor rights they don't have....[W]ill there someday be a world in which the promise of new technology is not reined in, or reigned over, by an old system designed to preserve the separation between the Haves and the Haves-not?

Proposed amendments to broadcast treaty would protect access to knowledge

Chile And Brazil Propose Public Interest Exemptions To Wipo Broadcast Treaty, Bridges, November 30, 2005. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
Brazil and Chile's calls for a series of public interest exceptions to be entrenched in a future treaty on the rights of broadcasting organisations took centre stage during negotiations at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) from 21-23 November. Many countries have expressed concerns that the future treaty, which seeks to update the rights of broadcasters in light of technological advances in recent decades, could pose restrictions on access to knowledge....The Chilean proposal (SCCR/13/4 and 5), dated 22 November, warned that a future treaty could pose obstacles to the development of social initiatives such as public libraries, distance education, and programmes for disabled people, particularly in developing countries. It thus suggested exempting several potential uses of broadcasts from the rules of the future treaty, including...scientific research purposes....The same day, Brazil made a proposal (SCCR/13/3) calling for a general public interest clause, a broad copyright limitation and exception clause, and a minimum list of exceptions to be present in a future treaty. The general clause would specify that "nothing in this Treaty shall limit the freedom of a Contracting Party to promote access to knowledge and information and national educational and scientific objectives, to curb anti-competitive practices or to take any action it deems necessary to promote the public interest in sectors of vital importance to its socio-economic, scientific and technological development."...The Civil Society Coalition (CSC), a group of 28 public interest non-governmental organisations (NGOs), welcomed the Chilean proposal, and issued a statement indicating that the limitations and exceptions are essential to ensuring that the copyright system is consistent with the public interest, human rights and the promotion of new creativity. On the other hand, some groups representing publishers, authors, composers, and broadcasters expressed concerns that limitations and exceptions might be excessive.

More on the Electra Press proposal

Kari, Wikipedia and ElectraPress, ElectraPress, December 1, 2005. Excerpt:
For anyone who has been in this profession for longer than about 10 minutes, it’s become abundantly clear that an asteroid has collided with the academic publishing industry --that its dustclouds have already nearly extinguished our old systems for producing and distributing scholarship in the humanities. The traditional models simply aren’t viable any more, so the question KF and others are asking is...what should replace or supplement them? Both [KF] and John Holbo have envisioned an electronic imprint of freely licensed content that is managed in a cooperative fashion. Beyond that details are hazy–necessarily so at this stage....The consensus seems to be that the monograph reconceived should preserve the function of the book but incorporate some of the social aspects of blogs, the self-regulating properties of Wikipedia, and the open-access values of creative commons licensing....[Jimmy Wales] expressed his wish that one day we would think it odd that anyone would publish content that had been peer-reviewed by only two or three readers, as opposed to hundreds or thousands.

Wiki to coordinate digitization projects

DigiWik is a wiki to help publicize and coordinate digitization projects and to collect tips and best practices on digitization itself. (Thanks to Digitizationblog.)

Comment. We've recently seen major statements from Canada (November 17), the EU (November 22), and the UK (November 24) on the importance of coordinating national and international digitization projects. I support coordination frameworks of this kind, especially when they leave room for bottom-up decisions. But a good wiki can supplement them and I hope that this one can do so. For this purpose a "good wiki" is one that's really used.

More OA repositories coming to Australia

VTLS has announced that four Australian libraries will soon launch institutional repositories using VITAL, the open-source archiving software from VTLS. From the press release (November 29):
VTLS Inc. is pleased to announce the availability and delivery of VITAL 2.0. VITAL is used by institutional repositories to manage their digital collections. The Australian Research Repositories Online to the World (ARROW) Project, led by Monash University has just completed the acceptance testing of VITAL 2.0. This acceptance of VITAL 2.0 paves the way for the software to be installed at Monash University, University of New South Wales, National Library of Australia and Swinburne University. These installations are in progress. Other Australian universities are negotiating to acquire and install the software early in 2006....Other VITAL customers include National Libraries (National Library of Wales and Slovak National Library), universities (Princeton University, University of Delaware) and research organizations (Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research.)

A different take on OA

Charles A. Schwartz, Reassessing Prospects for the Open Access Movement, College and Research Libraries, November 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). (Thanks to Charles. W. Bailey, Jr.).
Abstract: Open access may well be a turning point for the scholarly communication system, but not on the basis claimed by its advocates. As opposed to the claim that open access means a less costly system, in reality it entails redundant expenditures and inflationary pressures. The true significance of open access, involving processes of institutional development of the system, has not entered into the public debate. Such processes are chiefly twofold: the adjustment of the open-access movement to the different needs and cultures of the various stakeholder groups, and the advent of a more complex system architecture that facilitates research productivity and scholarly innovation.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

FAQ on using Creative Commons licenses for databases

Science Commons has released an extremely useful FAQ on Databases and Creative Commons. Here are some of the questions it answers:
Can a Creative Commons license be applied to a database?
What kinds of things can be licensed under a Creative Commons license? [...]
How will people know that they can use the factual information in a database?
If I apply a Creative Commons license to my database, does this mean people can replicate the database?
How does a database provider make sure it has the necessary authority to apply a Creative Commons license to a database?
What legal issues do Creative Commons licenses not cover?
I understand everything above and want to apply a Creative Commons license to my database. How do I go about doing that?

Note the Nature editorial today on using Creative Commons licenses for data (blogged immediately below). John Wilbanks, Director of Science Commons, wants researchers to use CC licenses for their data but also to realize that there are some complexities not raised in the Nature editorial.

Nature editorial: Share data freely

Let data speak to data, Nature, December 1, 2005. An editorial. (Thanks to John Wilbanks.) Excerpt:
Upload and share your raw data, and have a high impact factor for your blog — or perish? That day has not yet come, but web technologies, from personal publishing tools such as blogs to electronic laboratory notebooks, are pushing the character of the web from that of a large library towards providing a user-driven collaborative workspace....A decade ago, for example, astronomy was still largely about groups keeping observational data proprietary and publishing individual results. Now it is organized around large data sets, with data being shared, coded and made accessible to the whole community. Organized sharing of data within and among smaller and more diverse research communities is more challenging, owing to the plethora of data types and formats....Various sorts of data are increasingly being stored in formats that computers can understand and manipulate, allowing databases to talk to one another. This enables their users quickly to adapt technologies to extract and interpret data from different sources, and to create entirely new data products and services. In biodiversity research, for example, rather than creating centralized monolithic databases, scientists could tap into existing databases wherever the data are held, weaving together all the relevant data on a species, from its taxonomy and genetic sequence to its geographical distribution. Such decentralization also helps to solve the problem that databases are often the fruits of individual or lab research projects that are vulnerable to the vagaries of funding, and to people and labs moving on to pastures new. Although discipline-specific databases have an indisputable role, science also needs to capitalize on large common repositories for data, whose preservation is guaranteed, and where the data can easily be used by anyone. If that sounds utopian, consider OurMedia, a service created by the Internet Archive and the Creative Commons, which allows anyone to store and share permanently and free of charge any digital work — even their videos and holiday photos. And last month Google launched Google Base, which also allows anyone to upload anything to its massive platform. Such services will also require new thinking on open data. Web services are dependent on computers being able to freely access data in real time. Although GenBank and many large databases allow unhindered access to their data, many research organizations still cling to obsolete manual data permission policies, which prevent their data being used by web services. Scientists may be justified in retaining privileged access to data that they have invested heavily in collecting, pending publication — but there are also huge amounts of data that do not need to be kept behind walls. And few organizations seem to be aware that by making their data available under a Creative Commons licence, they can stipulate both rights and credits for the reuse of data, while allowing its uninterrupted access by machines. As web services empower researchers, the biggest obstacle to fulfilling such visions will be cultural. Scientific competitiveness will always be with us. But developing meaningful credit for those who share their data is essential, to encourage the diversity of means by which researchers can now contribute to the global academy.

OA philosophy book

Chris Swoyer, professor of philosophy, University of Oklahoma, has written and posted a textbook on critical reasoning.

Swoyer, Chris. Critical Reasoning: a user's manual.

Swoyer is also a co-editor of the Philosophy of Science section of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. He has authored two articles in SEP: Properties and Relativisim.

SPARC collects OA program ideas

SPARC has launched Open Access Programs, "[a] resource for librarians and administrators creating events to promote open access among faculty members." From the site:
[T]his Web site will include details of conferences, seminars, brown-bag lunches, faculty meeting presentations, mailings, and every other form of outreach that you or your colleagues have found successful - or not. Your willingness to share what you have learned in creating educational programs will be a great help to other universities as they traverse the planning process. In addition to giving you the chance to review what others are up to, this site will ask you some basic questions about your Institutional Repository (IR) and any open access programs you have put in place. We invite you to contribute as much additional information as you like. The richer the detail, the easier it will be for others to build on your successes....[Y]ou may come back to edit it at any time.

(PS: A great idea, long needed. Visit the site for helpful ideas and help others by adding your own ideas and experience.)

Toward a worldwide OA repository for agriculture

John G. Schmitz, Agricultural Extension on the Web, Digital Divide Network, December 1, 2005. Excerpt:
DSpace and related projects are building web-based collections of 'open content' in the public domain. While land grant [colleges and universities] routinely post 'open content' for extension, the DSpace partners led by MIT have bet the farm. Should other land grants join DSpace? What are the global uses of open extension content?...[I]n the absence of other changes, most farmers will not be reached by the web in the short-term. There are many variables that impact farming that we cannot control; we can control the creation of information banks to help farmers deal with the variables. There is no global agricultural library in a strong sense, and there could be....On-line documents grew rapidly at many extension web sites in the 1990's, but these were often posted haphazardly, without meta-data and on different servers, or hidden from search engines in databases. Extension services are now taking steps to create digital libraries of their content. It is wise to consider needed document management strategies such as meta-data and archiving early in your efforts. Distributed digital libraries are a key goal for the coming decade, allowing farmers to transparently search for resources across multiple extension sites, and effectively creating a world-wide library of food, agricultural and natural resource information....Online agricultural outreach is exploding in land grant universities but with little coordination. For example, there is no master web index of available full text information to browse and no effective way to search online holdings....The the absence of an open content respository for farmers. For example, there still is no central index for browsing content from the land grants or a search function to discover it....We also have not yet seen the emergence of researcher communities in agriculture that build repositories of open content, as the physics community did....New initiatives of any kind are less likely and especially those that have significant start-up costs and no revenue model. MIT tells us that their project offers content " for the good of mankind. There is no revenue model." But revenue models are more and more important at land grants today. One can speculate that publicly funded colleges will follow MIT in the long run anyway. The land grants face an even greater impetus to do so since it is part of their mission to disseminate knowledge. Federal funding in the future could very well include mandates that publically funded content be posted and deposited into a national repository. Can the process be speeded up?

Nine institutional repositories coming to Finland

Nine Finnish universities and politechnics are launching institutional repositories using ENCompass software (from Elsevier's Endeavor subsidiary). From yesterday's press release:
Following the lead of the Helsinki University Library -- the National Library of Finland, which implemented ENCompass for Digital Collections this past spring -- nine Finnish university and polytechnic libraries are now in the process of implementing ENCompass for Digital Collections: The National Library of Finland; Helsinki University; Jyvaskyla University; Abo Akademi University; Helsinki Polytechnic Stadia; Lappeenranta University of Technology; Jyvaskyla Polytechnic; Tampere Polytechnic; Kemi-Tornio Polytechnic; and the University of Art and Design Helsinki....Several of the collections administered by these institutions are already operational thanks in part to ENCompass and can be searched directly through the Doria portal. These collections include: [1] UKK Collections -- 4,500 records including the collected writings of Urho Kekkonen, former president of Finland, [2] Archives of the Dept of Cultural Studies, University of Helsinki, [3] 2,500 records; mostly photos from field trips, archaeological sites, etc., [4] ELEKTRA -- 11,000 records plus articles from Finnish scholarly journals, [5] TATU -- Tampere Polytechnic diploma works, [6] RAITA -- oldest (copyright-free) Finnish sound recordings, plus metadata from others. Additional collections are in the planning stages or have been slated to enter production with ENCompass for Digital Collections in the coming months, including [ETDs from four Finnish universities].

IA launches its OA Katrina/Rita archive

The Internet Archive has created the Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Web Archive. Of course it's OA. From the site:
Internet Archive and many individual contributors created a comprehensive list of websites documenting the historic devastation and massive relief effort due to Hurricane Katrina. The sites were crawled between the dates of September 4 - October 17th. This collection, containing more than 25 million searchable documents, will be preserved by Internet Archive with access to historians, researchers, scholars and the general public.

More evidence that OA increases citation impact

D.K. Sahu, N.J. Gogtay, and S.B. Bavdekar, Effect of open access on citation rates for a small biomedical journal, in Fifth International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication, Chicago, September 16-18 2005. Self-archived on December 1, 2005.
Abstract: OBJECTIVE. Articles published in print journals with limited circulation are cited less frequently than those printed in journals with larger circulations. Open access (OA) has shown to improve citation rates in the fields of physics, mathematics and astronomy. The impact of OA on smaller biomedical journals has not been studied. We assessed the influence of OA on citations rates for a small, multi-disciplinary journal which adopted OA without article submission or article access fee.
DESIGN. The full text of articles published since 1990 were made available online in 2001. Citations for these articles as retrieved using Web of Science, SCOPUS, and Google Scholar were divided into two groups - the pre-OA period (1990-2000) and the post-OA period (2001-2004). Citations for the articles published between 1990 through 1999 during these two periods were compared using unpaired t test or Mann-Whitney test.
RESULTS. Of the 553 articles published between 1990 through 1999, 327 articles received 893 citations between 1990 and 2004 (Table). The 4-year, post-OA period accounted for 549 (61.5%) of these citations, and 164 articles (50.1%) received their first citations only after OA was provided in 2001. For every volume studied (1990 through 1999), the maximum number of citations per year was received after 2001. None of the articles published during 1990-99 received any citation in the year of publication. In contrast, articles published in 2002, 2003 and 2004 received 3, 7 and 22 citations respectively in the year of publication itself.
CONCLUSIONS. Open access was associated with increase in the number of citations received by the articles. It also decreased the lag time between publication and the first citation. For smaller biomedical journals, OA could be one of the means for improving visibility and thus citation rates.

Profile of Charles Bailey

Marcus Banks profiles Charles W. Bailey, Jr. in the latest installment of OA Librarian's celebration of librarians who fight for OA (November 30). Excerpt:
Charles W. Bailey, Jr. is the Assistant Dean for Digital Library Planning and Development at the University of Houston Libraries (Houston)....In 1989, Bailey established PACS-L, an early mailing list about public access computers in libraries. This work led to Bailey's founding and editorship of the Public-Access Computer Systems Review, an open access journal, in 1990. Bailey served as editor until 1996. At that time he began to produce the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography, a compendium of "selected English-language articles, books, and other printed and electronic sources that are useful in understanding scholarly electronic publishing efforts on the Internet." Bailey continues to update this bibliography every two weeks, and cumulates it periodically. Within the past year Bailey has published two specialized bibliographies of timely topics. The Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals (2004) defines key concepts of open access and lists over 1,3o0 resources. The bibliography is 129 pages, and is open access. (Printed copies are also available for purchase from the Association of Research Libraries). In 2005, Bailey produced the Open Access Webliography with Adrian K. Ho. Bailey has also compiled a bibliography about the Google Print (now Google Book Search) controversy, which was current as of October 2005. This bibliography was published in DigitalKoans, Bailey's latest initiative. DigitalKoans is a Weblog that features commentary on scholarly electronic publishing and digital culture.

The OA projects from CHLT

Modern tools to unlock Ancient Texts, IST Results, December 1, 2005. A detailed look at the Cultural Heritage Language Technologies (CHLT) and its OA projects. Excerpt:
With funding from the IST programme and the US, the CHLT project developed morphological analysers, citation databases, visualisation and clustering tools, and combined them with dictionaries to aid experienced scholars, students and the general public alike. It also unified several important digital library collections – such as Isaac Newton's manuscripts in the Newton project - and early modern scientific texts, as well as creating new digital library collections of Old Norse sagas. It's a vast achievement....CHLT used leading edge techniques from computational linguistics, natural language processing, and information retrieval that enables researchers to conduct new types of scholarship. "It was a remarkably successful project between the National Science Foundation in the US and EU institutions. It generated results beyond expectations, and illustrated how essential it is to work together to create an integrated global infrastructure for scholarly research," says CHLT’s European coordinator Dolores Iorizzo from the Newton Project and the London e-Science Centre....The team wanted to find the most effective ways to use technology to interpret digitised, historic manuscripts. CHLT responds to the challenges faced by teachers, students and scholars who are working with texts written in Ancient Greek, Mediaeval and Early-Modern Latin, and Old Norse. The number of primary texts – arguably the most important resource for historians and linguists – is staggering. Hundreds of important texts and manuscripts, consisting of millions of words have been integrated into the CHLT open access repository that can also be viewed within the oldest and largest cultural heritage database in the world at the Perseus Project in Tufts University, Boston. CHLT created new text collections written in Early-Modern Latin and Old Norse. It integrated those new books and manuscripts with well-established digital texts, and it created a digital library environment that allows for high-resolution images of pages from rare and fragile printed books and manuscripts. These are presented alongside transcriptions so that the originals can be viewed alongside diplomatic and normalised versions of the material. "The early modern printed texts can be scanned to create automatically generated hypertext, but manuscripts such as those in the Newton Project must be transcribed and XML text encoded by hand which makes it very slow and painstaking," says Iorizzo....The project successfully developed a host of powerful language analysis tools that will help readers to understand texts written in these difficult languages by offering parsers, which automatically determine the grammatical identity of a word....What's more, these parsers were integrated into a digital library reading environment that automatically generates hypertext links. So a user can click on a word, register its identity and look it up in a dictionary. CHLT also built a multilingual information retrieval tool that allows users to enter queries in English and search texts written in Greek and Latin...."CHLT is a political statement. We've lowered the barrier for access to primary texts, so now it's no longer the academic elite who have access and can read these historically important manuscripts," says Iorizzo. Users can even upload their own texts for parsing and analysis. Those texts will then be added to the library so the collection will grow organically over time....CHLT supports Open Access and Berlin Declaration policies, and has negotiated a free open-access agreement with Cambridge University Press for an electronic edition of the Greek-English lexicon to be published online simultaneously with the print edition; it has also explored ways that these tools can be used and shared across cooperating digital libraries.

Two CrossRef initiatives to improve scholarly search

CrossRef has announced two new servicies to enhanace scholarly searching. From yesterday's press release:
CrossRef, the independent cross-publisher linking service, announced today two forthcoming initiatives that will enhance the way search engines index scholarly content: CrossRef Web Services and the Search Partner Program. CrossRef Web Services will create an easy-to-use tool for authorized search and web services partners to gather metadata to streamline web crawling. The CrossRef metadata database contains records for the more than 18 million items from over 1,500 publishers, the majority of whom are expected to choose to participate in this optional new service. The CrossRef Search Partner program provides standard terms of use for search engines, libraries, and other partners to use the metadata available from CrossRef Web Services....CrossRef Web Services also...functions as a notification, or “ping”, mechanism for the publication of new content. Alerting crawlers to new or revised content to be indexed greatly reduces the need for ongoing re-crawling of publisher sites. “Search engines want better ways to gather standard, cross-publisher metadata to enhance their search indexes. Publishers want to streamline the way they provide metadata to a growing number of partners. CrossRef Web Services and the Search Partner Program fill this void,” said Ed Pentz, Executive Director of CrossRef. “With CrossRef repurposing parts of its metadata database and using common protocols like standardized XML and OpenURL (and SOAP, RSS and other protocols in future), these services can significantly enhance indexes.” Mr. Pentz continued, “Just as the core CrossRef linking service removes the need for bilateral linking agreements among publishers, the Search Partner Program removes the need for bilateral agreements covering use of metadata between search engines and publishers. Libraries, search engines, publishers, and researchers will all benefit as the high-quality structured metadata collected by CrossRef becomes an easily available web resource with template terms and conditions of use.” These new services from CrossRef will improve search results by enabling the use of the digital object identifier (DOI), in all search results....More information will be forthcoming in early 2006 when these exciting new services launch.

CILIP President on OA

Dick Kaser interviewed Deborah Shorely, president of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) for the Information Today blog, December 1, 2005. Excerpt:
"I think there are also serious financial barriers [to information access]," Deb continued. "We in the U.K., complain terribly about the cost of [print] subscriptions and online subscriptions, because they are eating into our declining budgets dreadfully . . . But then when you go to what we now call the South --the developing world-- and you realize what they’re trying to wrestle with, I think it’s rather obscene for us to complain . . . I think the whole publishing model is a barrier to open access to information." She called Open Access publishing a "very interesting" development. "It’s got some way to go, and it’s a long game," she observed. "But if you and I were talking even five years hence, I think the whole publishing model will have changed. I have to believe that, because, otherwise, there will be real barriers to knowledge, which will compromise everything. If you don’t have the information to do the research, you can’t do it."

Europeans launch Knowledge Exchange

The Knowledge Exchange (no web site yet) was officially launched today as pan-European body devoted to ICT policy. From the JISC press release (December 1):
[T]he new organisation aims to develop closer working relationships in order to increase the return on national investment in ICT infrastructure, services and projects. The founder members of the Knowledge Exchange are JISC, the SURF Foundation (Netherlands), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Germany) and Denmark’s Electronic Research Library (DEFF). With the international dimension increasingly important both in education and research and in the use of ICT, these organisations will work together under the umbrella of the Knowledge Exchange to share information, increase the profile of national research and development activities, and where appropriate work towards a common infrastructure based on international standards....Bo Öhrström, Deputy Director to the Danish National Library Authority and host for the Knowledge Exchange office welcomes this opportunity: “DEFF look forward to a closer co-operation with prominent, national organisations in the digital learning, teaching and research areas in order to secure a common infrastructure environment for all partners. Another key aim of the new body is to inform European policy....

(PS: The KE has no specific mission to promote OA. But its role in advising on ICT policy in research and education, and the OA-friendliness of its founding members, make it an important player in European OA policy. For example, the KE could help persuade the emerging European Research Council to mandate OA for ERC-funded research.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Call for OA to a taxpayer-funded journal

The World Law Bulletin (WLB) is published at taxpayer expense by the Library of Congress (LOC). But it's only available to members of Congress and LOC staffers, not the general public. The November 4 issue of Secrecy News has a succinct recommendation: "This ought to change."

Patrice McDermott, Deputy Director of Government Relations for the American Library Association, plans to send a letter to the Congressional Joint Committee on the LOC, calling for OA to the WLB. Excerpt:

We are writing to request that you encourage, if not direct, the Law Library of Congress to publish the World Law Bulletin on the World Wide Web for unrestricted public access. The World Law Bulletin, produced monthly by the Law Library of Congress, is a unique and uniquely valuable publication. It provides an unparalleled survey of legal developments abroad, along with focused analysis on topics of special interest. It is based entirely on open, published sources. Although it reflects the considerable expertise of its authors and contributors, the World Law Bulletin has no advisory content whatsoever. Therefore, to make it widely available to the public would not implicate congressional deliberations in any way. We are attorneys, librarians, scientists, academicians, and others who would like to be able to obtain, on a timely basis, no-fee access to the World Law Bulletin, which our tax dollars support. We respectfully urge you to help the interested public to gain access to this exceptional congressional resource.

If you would like to add your signature to her letter, send your name, title, and organization to before December 9.

ALPSP-SSP presentations

The presentations from the ALPSP-SSP seminar, Preprint and postprint repositories and their impact on publishing (London, November 28, 2005), are now online. (Thanks to Colin Steele.)

Report on the ALPSP-SSP seminar

Kate Worlock, Repositories and their impact on publishing: the evidence begins to mount, EPS Insights, November 30, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). A report on this week's ALPSP-SSP seminar, Preprint and postprint repositories and their impact on publishing (London, November 28, 2005). Excerpt:
The number of institutional repositories worldwide is reaching significant levels, at least in some countries. SHERPA manager Bill Hubbard reported that there are now 57 repositories in the UK (some departmental, some institutional and some subject-based) and 153 in the US. The Netherlands has a policy that all academic research institutions must run their own repository and now boasts 17; China and India are making their mark with 13 and 5 respectively, and surprisingly Brazil has 30. While there have been claims that repositories are expensive to run...Hubbard claims that the cost to Nottingham University of running its repository equates to one technician working three days a week over the course of a year. Policies are now appearing from research funding organisations, institutions and departments either requesting or mandating that researchers place content in repositories. Key Perspectives' data showed that 81% of academics would willingly comply with a mandate, 14% would comply reluctantly, and 5% would not comply. However, where organisations request rather than mandate deposit, this has had little effect: the National Institutes of Health policy requests and strongly encourages deposit of content in a repository, but in October only 2.73% of relevant articles were deposited as per this request....At the latest NIH committee meeting, members voted 9-3 in favour of making deposit mandatory, and this is likely to come into force in the summer of 2006. Jenny Pickles of Emerald Publishing expressed the fear that research funder mandates of this sort forced publishers to introduce embargoes, and saw this as a retrograde step for the open access movement....Key Perspectives' Alma Swan laid out the reasons behind academics using repositories - the most important was to communicate their results to their peers. Other reasons included career advancement, personal prestige, to attract funding and for financial reward (a distant last). However, only 15% of academics surveyed had added preprint material to an institutional repository, while 20% had added postprint content....John Haynes of IOPP reported a near 100% overlap in high energy physics and astrophysics between what is published in journals and what is held in the renowned arXiv repository, which has become so well-used that for some physicists it is a "daily destination point". IOPP policy allows deposit of postprints in arXiv because this increases visibility, and even allows authors to submit articles by simply sending in an arXiv e-print number. IOPP has found that where journals have a strong degree of overlap with arXiv, then articles are predominantly read on arXiv rather than on the publisher site, although the journal remains valued for prestige and citations.

More on the book-scanning projects

Andreas von Bubnoff, The Real Death of Print, Nature, December 1, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). On the many current book-scanning projects. Excerpt:
[R]evolutions are rarely bloodless and this one could soon get ugly. In the United States authors and publishers are squaring up against Google for a legal fight over copyright. Opinion is divided over whether the scanning projects being implemented by companies such as Google and Amazon...will hand control of the world’s literature to private enterprise — and, if so, what this could mean. And with several independent scanning projects under way, it is still not clear how much of the information will be freely available, or where and how it can all be coordinated and accessed....Assets such as searchability have prompted the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Arlington, Virginia, to get involved in an open-access enterprise called the Million Book Project. This is an international scanning effort with many participants, including Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since the project began in 2002, about 600,000 out-of-copyright books have been scanned, although only about half of them are currently available online. The scanning takes place in India and China, with books being shipped there temporarily from libraries around the world....[Amazon's] ‘search inside the book’ feature increases sales by 8%, the company says. Scientific publishers, such as the US National Academies Press also see increased print sales when they allow their books to be viewed online....Google’s plan has shaken up the digitalbook world in other ways too [beyond triggering lawsuits]. For one thing, many believe that its size and resources mean Google can pull of this feat — so large-scale repositories of digital books seem a more realistic and immediate prospect than ever before. Google has also galvanized its competitors, both public and private (see graphic) to redouble their efforts, and has placed a question mark over the future of libraries and librarians. “I think Google is in a class by itself because of the quantity of money and the level of centralization,” says Daniel Greenstein, librarian of the California Digital Library in Oakland, California. “Google has paved the way, created the appetite for this kind of activity, and anxiety on the part of libraries and publishers.”...Another person to be energized, but also alarmed, by Google’s move is Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, a non-profit organization in San Francisco that archives web pages and other digital files. Although Google has never indicated that it plans to claim ownership over its digitized material or charge for search access, Kahle doesn’t want to leave digital books entirely in the hands of private enterprise. That’s why, in October, he announced the formation of the Open Content Alliance (OCA). This aims to build a permanent archive of multilingual digitized text and multimedia content, which, as far as possible, will be freely accessible....But Matthias Ulmer, a German publisher who helped launch an e-book initiative by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, thinks that scanning old books is “a complete waste of money”. “Science is moving incredibly fast...,” says Ulmer. Earlier this year, his association announced an initiative whereby some 100 German publishers are considering digitizing about 100,000 newly published books by 2006. Publishers will take their own digital raw data and place them on a network of their own servers. Scientists and others will then be able to access the books for a fee.

OA flu virus genome database

On November 10, I blogged the fact that LANL Influenza Sequence Database ran out of funding and had to convert from OA to subscription-based access. I'm glad to report that there is, and long has been, another OA database of influenza genome sequences, the Influenza Virus Resource from the NCBI.

Book publishers should improve online access, not fight it

David Worlock, Google and the battle for value, EPS, November 29, 2005. Another contribution to the EPS debate on Google Library. Excerpt:
Whatever Google and its peers have in store for beleaguered publishers, the power of the user poses challenges that go beyond the short term risks to volume sales and web disintermediation....As we move towards Web 2.0, early Amazon–style experimentation on the readable, downloadable online book will deepen and become more interesting. Trialling books online, using reader panels to create ratings (see the US e-learning rating scheme MERLOT) and instalment-download publishing will become more common. Publishers who wish to survive in this world will move co-operatively with their peers to create standards and trading conventions. There will be consolidation, and a healthy competitive crop of low cost market entrants who owe little to the culture and values of ‘publishing’ as it is understood today. User/reader preference will prevail: at every turn in the road in network publishing it has become ever clearer that the user is more important than the supplier, and that simple fact turns business models and conventional approaches upside down. So the mass content availability being practiced by Google, or Yahoo!, or the British Library and Microsoft, is based upon research values (in which case it is unarguably defensible) or upon an acknowledgement of an unsatisfied user demand for ease of access. If it is the former, Google and Yahoo! may not find it a huge benefit in the pursuit of their advertising business model....If however, it is the latter, then it represents a call to arms for publishers. This is not a time to reduce accessibility but to improve it. This is the time when all publisher participants should be ensuring that everything they do is online, can be ordered in a variety of formats, is subject to cross-searching and analysis, has additional authorial material available for consultation, and that these values can be subscribed to and paid for alongside the sale of printed works....But for every trail-blazer there are too many still in denial, and in these seeking legal redress where competitive inventiveness should be the order of the day. The law will not save “publishing as we know it today”. While Google may have got its consultation wrong, and while there may be justice to the righteous complaints of those whose rights were traduced, the long term issues remain unaffected. Fiddle with copyright law as we may, the results are always geographical, not global, and always five years too late. Competition law hates copyright, and beyond the protection of content in first use, it will become more and more difficult to protect re-use. While the battles in the foothills around Napster and Grokster were won, file transfer services like BitTorrent are still shifting five times as much content (files, videos, books, music?) across the network as the whole activity of the Web itself. Some of this is legal: much of it is not. In the book industry’s anxiety to stem the perceived Google threat, it would be disastrous if this issue distracted publishers from the bigger opportunities to create high value network publishing – or the problems that they will face if they don’t.

Unpublished Einstein paper deposited in arXiv

In 1922, Albert Einstein write a paper on the superconductibity of metals that he never published. After presenting it at a Dutch symposium, he apparently forgot about it and so did everyone else --until this year, when Cornell physicist Neal Ashcroft rediscovered it in a Dutch library. If you were Ashcroft, what you do then? What would Einstein do? That's right, deposit it in arXiv. (The deposited copy is an English translation by Björn Schmekel.) For details, see yesterday's story in LinuxElectrons.

Established medical journal shifts to OA

The Netherlands Journal of Medicine changed to Open Access with the July-August 2005 issue. In a special report accompanying the change, the editorial board notes:
This represents a turning point for the Journal as open access publishing provides instant and universal availability of published work to any potential reader, worldwide, completely free of subscriptions, passwords and charges. This assures the widest possible dissemination of scientific knowledge from the Journal without boundaries of limited circulation or local availability of a hardcopy. We believe that by opening up we are making research available to a much wider range of readers than our print and subscription model would have been able to achieve.
In addition, the shift in access methods and publication processes (online ahead of print) has made it possible to eliminate the 4-6 month lag between publication of a paper in the journal and its indexing in PubMed.

Netherlands Journal of Medicine - Fulltext v60+ (2002+); Print ISSN: 0300-2977 | Online ISSN: 0928-1487.

Frankfurt symposium presentations

The presentations from the Frankfurt symposium, Is there any progress in alternative publishing? (Frankfurt, October 22-23, 2005), are now online. Some are PDFs, some PPTs, some videos, and some all of the above. (Thanks to Matthias Hanauske and Steffen Bernius.)

More on the NGA decision to pull OA information offline

The US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) will remove some OA aeronautical data from the internet. (Thanks to Patrice McDermott.) From yesterday's press release:
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) will go forward with its previously announced proposal to remove its Flight Information Publications (FLIP) and Digital Aeronautical Flight Information File (DAFIF) from public access. NGA is taking this action due to the increased numbers of international source providers claiming intellectual property rights of their data. Many of these sources forewarned NGA they intended to copyright their aeronautical data. NGA’s public release of data produced by others violated claimed copyright, forcing NGA to discontinue the release of this data to the general public. Government agencies and authorized government contractors are not affected by this action....As a result of input from the public comment period, NGA will phase in the removal of the affected NGA products from public access over a 22 month period....The first phase of the product withdrawal begins in January 2006 with the removal of worldwide DAFIF from public sale. The electronic distribution of DAFIF over the World Wide Web (www) and public sale of NGA FLIP outside US airspace will cease in October 2006. The remaining NGA FLIP will be removed from public access in October 2007.

(PS: While the NGA is a division of the Defense Department, this decision is not to protect national security. It's to protect intellectual property.)

EBSCO opens access to its LISTA database

EBSCO Publishing is now providing free online access to its Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (LISTA) database. (Thanks to Buddy Pennington.) From the announcement:
This world-class bibliographic database provides coverage on subjects such as librarianship, classification, cataloging, bibliometrics, online information retrieval, information management and more. Delivered via the EBSCOhost platform, LISTA indexes more than 600 periodicals plus books, research reports, and proceedings. With coverage dating back to the mid-1960s, it is the oldest continuously produced database covering the field of information science.

New features at the self-archiving wiki

Ari Friedman's Self-Archiving wiki has added a third poster to its poster page. It also has a nifty new custom poster generator that lets you print out posters with (say) the name and URL of your institutional repository. For example, here's a customized poster from the University of Pennsylvania. The wiki will also host information pages on individual archives. Use your imagination: these pages could be anything from descriptions and traffic reports to redirects or even copies of the overall self-archiving wiki with local references replacing global ones.

Stevan Harnad on HAL

Here are some of Stevan Harnad's thoughts on HAL (November 29):
Apparently France -- a country highly centralised since Napoleonic days, with its unique national research institutions, of which the CNRS is the biggest -- is in a structural and functional position to do something, at a national level, at one stroke, that no other country is quite in the position to do. The idea is to create one national OA archive for all disciplines and all institutions and universities to deposit all their research into: HAL (Hyper Articles on Line). This unified national effort is meant to avoid the kinds of divisiveness that in the UK led to a self-archiving recommendation by a parliamentary committee, subsequently rejected by the government, subsequently taken up again by the 8 UK Research Councils (RCUK) and now opposed by the Royal Society (Britain's academy of science). In France, there is now the hope that not only will the big national research institutes (CNRS, INSERM, INRA, INRIA) unite in this national enterprise, but so will the French Academy of Sciences, as well as all the French Universities. If it succeeds, it will be an enormous coup for France, and a terrific direction-setter for the rest of the world -- though probably no country would be in a position to emulate it exactly, for lack of corresponding centralised national institutions....It will be interesting to see whether the centralisation proves to be an asset or liability. It is impossible to predict, because the case of France is so unique, but a UK study on central vs. institutional self-archiving came up with a different recommendation for the UK, suggesting that not only would distributed local institutional and university archives, plus harvesting (including central harvesting) be cheaper than a central archiving model in the era or OAI-interoperability, but, even more important, the local institutional incentives and culture are likely to be more conducive to archive-filling, because of shared interests and benefits between researchers and their institutions....But who knows? No one has a winning formula for reaching 100% OA as quickly and reliably as possible until a formula has been demonstrated to win. Perhaps France's unique configuration makes a formula possible there that would not work elsewhere. Moreover, we live in a virtual world, and each institution's and university's sector of HAL could be customised and given the look of and put under the control of each local content-providing institution. The real question is whether France's national OA mega-archive will be backed up with a self-archiving mandate, or it will rely only on volunteerism, for volunteerism has proved to be a poor deliverer of OA so far.

More on HAL

Since September, five major French research organizations --CNRS, Inserm, Inria, Inra, and the CPU-- have been working together on a single, national OA repository called HAL (Hyper Article on Line). Here's a recent (though undated) interview with Laurent Romary, Director of Scientific Communication at CNRS, on where HAL stands. (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.) Excerpt:
[HAL] is due to the convergence of three major movements. The first is the concept of direct scientific communications, initiated by the physics community and incarnated by the American Arxiv archive system. Second is the "open access" movement encouraging direct access to scientific publications, embodied by the Berlin declaration signed jointly by fifty major universities and European research organizations. Third, those organizations and universities need a reliable, detailed panorama of scientific publications, essential for their scientific policy and for evaluation purposes. The convergence of these three movements led to the decision to create a single archive for the entire French scientific community offering powerful, practical tools and services for research scientists and guaranteeing long-term preservation of documents. An agreement will be signed to formalize this collaboration between the various organizations. This single archive will significantly improve the visibility, dissemination, and the international impact of French scientific research, as data will be indexed by major search engines such as Google. Furthermore, the chosen platform – HAL (Hyper Articles on Line) – communicates with other major international archives such as Arxiv and (shortly) Pubmed Central....

This tool, developed by the CCSD and inspired by the American Arxiv system, offers research scientists a range of extremely useful services that make it a truly interactive solution (see the sidebar). HAL will soon be coupled with Term-Sciences, a multilingual terminology portal developed by Inist. This tool will enable users to search for and view international scientific terms in several languages....Finally, networks will be set up of "referring" documentalists trained by Inist. Serving the entire scientific community and working closely with research scientists, the documentalists will be notified automatically whenever a document is submitted. They will be responsible for verifying and correcting the quality of the metadata provided with the documents, which is vital for proper document indexing and dissemination. I should add that HAL will also enable research organizations to set up watchdog systems to identify emerging trends in research.

Here's a brief "sidebar" on HAL by Bruno de la Perrière, from the same page as the interview:

"Today HAL is technically far superior to Arxiv", proudly explains Franck Laloë, CCSD Director and creator of HAL. HAL provides an extensive set of tools and services that are extremely beneficial to research scientists: [1] automatic document submission (for both publications or pre-prints) with a link to an international open archive that increases visibility and impact, [2] simplified submission process for research scientists: a single submission can cover all the researcher's work, evaluation procedures, activity reports, and replies to requests for quotations. The system provides tools for selecting and exporting publication lists, [3] advanced search engine, classification and searches using multiple criteria (publication date, scientific field, collection, organization, or laboratory), [4] automatic online extraction of all works by author, laboratory, or organization, with possible links to the organization's local Web site (by including HAL in a given metadata structure, it is possible to specify the author/laboratory/organization affiliation), [4] creation of "collections" via buffers for authentication of a laboratory's publications, the articles in a journal, etc. [5] alert and watchdog system that can be customized with user-defined profiles, [6] finally, HAL is designed to facilitate the creation of configurable interfaces for organizations to create their own environments.

Another blog comment on the Royal Society statement

Paul Revere, The Royal Society of Microsoft, Effect Measure, November 29, 2005. Excerpt:
The Royal Society is protecting its turf (don't blame them), but not protecting science. Many of us depend on OA journals, of which there are now hundreds (Disclaimer; one of the Reveres is Editor in Chief of an OA peer reviewed scientific journal). The developing world benefits. Scientists benefit because many more people are able to read their papers without having to subscribe to a journal. So if the Royal Society's journals go under because they are the buggy whip of the automobile age, that's too bad for them, but on balance science is better off.

Can journals afford to lower prices and profits?

Dana Roth, Open Access Archives and STM Publishers, STLQ, November 25, 2005. Excerpt:
One wonders when commercial publishers might re-think their marketing strategies and recognize that their library subscribers deserve some compensation for years of annual price increases that far exceed inflation (for either CPI or pagination). The cumulative effect of decades of these often questionable price increases is exemplified by an analysis of the 2004 subscription costs, pagination, and cost/page. [Table for six journals]...Factoring in the ISI Impact Factors (IP) and normalization of the cost/page/IP values for each commercial journal against the Journal of the Electrochemical Society (JES) produces some very startling results. These normalized values (2004N$/p/IP) are possibly a measure of the cost-effectiveness of each journal compared with JES. [Table for six journals]...Given these presumably handsome profits, would it be unreasonable to suggest that commercial publishers consider making their online archives freely available thru an equivalent of PubMed Central? One can only imagine the enormous positive public relations that the first commercial publisher will receive for this small token of appreciation to the library and research community ... and that this might encourage others to follow suit. This would also have the beneficial effect of freeing up funds for the learned society journal back files, which when their capital costs are met could also be made freely available. Thus, with a little publisher cooperation, an Open Access environment for virtually all journal articles published more than ten years ago would be a reality.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Davis graphs of Bergstrom-McAfee journal data

Philip Davis, Journal Cost-Effectiveness Tables and Graphs, a preprint, November 29, 2005. A visual presentation of the data collected by Ted Bergstrom and Preston McAfee for their web site on journal cost-effectiveness. From Davis' rationale: "The following tables and graphs focus on making comparisons between profit and non-profit publishers. The six largest publishers (Blackwell, Elsevier, Sage, Springer-Kluwer, Taylor & Francis and Wiley) are highlighted for comparison. This report does not advocate a particular position, nor does it necessarily represent the position of the author’s employer or institution. Feedback or suggestions for further analysis may be conveyed to the author by email at: pmd8 [at]"

Another OA milestone

The OA Crystallography Open Database has logged over 24,000 entries. From Armel Le Bail's announcement today:
With the help of >30 volunteers declared after the Petition for Open Data in Crystallography (>1300 signatures), the increase is now attaining 2-3,000 new entries per month. Congratulations COD !

PS - This is not enough, a full database should contain close to 500,000 crystal structures, and the increase per year is currently close to 40,000...

Four more BMC titles added to WoS

Four more journals in the BMC-series have (finally) been accepted for tracking by The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI). BMC Developmental Biology, BMC Immunology, BMC Neurology, and BMC Structural Biology are now included in the Science Citation Index Expanded, available through the Web of Science, and are on track to receive an impact factor in 2008.

BMC Developmental Biology - Fulltext v1+ (2001+) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN: 1471-213X.

BMC Immunology - Fulltext v1+ (2000+) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN: 1471-2172.

BMC Neurology - Fulltext v1+ (2001+) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN 1471-2377.

BMC Structural Biology - Fulltext v1+ (2001+) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN: 1472-6807.

BioMed Central maintains an ongoing list of the abstracting and indexing services reviewing their various titles. I've added links for the PubMed Central mirrors of theses titles, but it should be noted that the preservation and distribution arrangements for the BioMed Central content is more extensive. [Thanks to Dana L. Roth, Caltech]

Update. This is Peter updating George's posting. I just heard from Matt Cockerill at BMC that BMC Plant Biology was also accepted by ISI. For all these journals, the ISI coverage starts in 2005, which means that the 2007 impact factors will be available in June 2008.

Another blog comment on the Royal Society statement

Venkat, The Royal Society trying to emulate RIAA? Domesticated Onion, November 27, 2005. Excerpt:
The Royal Society believes open access to research results through electronic media would harm (read: profit through) publishing activities of professional societies. Sounds familiar? Yes, this precisely is the same storyline the masters of RIAA keep spinning. No dog is different in barking territorial imperative!
...[I]t could lead to the demise of journals published by not-for-profit societies, which put out about a third of all journals. “Funders should remember that the primary aims should be to improve the exchange of knowledge between researchers and wider society,”
says the royal society. So be it. I am sure alchemists of eon might have cried foul when some started letting their closely guarded secrets and it is the birth of modern science, as we know. The scholarly societies had their runs in an era when information was scarce. They had a role to play in accumulating the information, verifying and classifying them and disseminating them. As information becomes ubiquitous the roles change. It has been a decade since the Condensed Matter Physics archives started and we know how incredibly useful and successful it has been. The current sensation in this domain is The Public Library of Science. Well, good lords, it’s time to pack and go.

HP helping to launch repositories in India

Nycil George writes in yesterday's issue of TechTree that Hewlett-Packard has helped Jadavpur University launch a DSpace repository. According to Ajay Gupta, Director of HP Labs India, HP "is keen to take the [DSpace] digital library solution to other premier educational institutions across India." (Of course, HP is MIT's partner in developing DSpace.)

(PS: This is very good news. Indian friends of OA should make sure their institutions are on HP's list and then work with their institutions to develop effective policies to fill the repositories.)

The Royal Society statement in larger context

Richard Poynder, Struggling with Agnosia, Open and Shut, November 29, 2005. This long article is the best I've seen on the origin of the draft RCUK OA policy in the 2004 report of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, and the opposition both have faced from publisher lobbying and covert interference by UK government officials. Here I can only excerpt small parts.
Last week the London-based Royal Society became the latest scholarly publisher to express grave concern over plans by Research Councils UK (RCUK) to mandate publicly-funded researchers in Britain to put their research papers on the Web. With irate publishers on one side, and a sceptical government on the other, will the RCUK be able to push through its radical proposals?...How seriously should we treat [the RS's] apocalyptic claims? Not very, it seems. As Harnad pointed out, the RCUK proposal is not intended to stop researchers from using traditional subscription-based journals; nor does it propose they abandon the peer review process: the aim is simply to improve the research process — by ensuring that scholarly papers are freely available on the Web, rather than locked behind the financial firewalls imposed by journal subscriptions....Moreover, he added, claims that self-archiving poses any kind of financial threat to traditional journals simply cannot be substantiated: despite 15 years of self-archiving by physicists, for instance, there is to date no evidence whatsoever that subscriptions to physics journals have been negatively impacted. All in all, concluded Harnad, it was "Not a proud day in the annals of the Royal Society."...But will this stream of dire predictions and gloomy prognostications [from the RS, ALPSP, and STM] derail the RCUK plan? Or will the rebuttals of OA advocates successfully neutralise them? Undoubtedly OA stalwarts can out-argue their critics....The OA movement has also become increasingly adept at managing the press (and many journalists now monitor the AmSci mailing list)....But while OA advocates are clearly more than effective at publicly countering the self-serving arguments of publishers, can they prevent the RCUK proposal from being throttled in the womb? For the bigger challenge confronting the OA movement is the continuing scepticism of the British Government — specifically, the mandarins that inhabit the Department of Trade & Industry, and their boss Lord Sainsbury of Turville, who are responsible for science and innovation in the UK....To the disgust of scholarly publishers and, no doubt, the surprise of the DTI [Department of Trade and Industry], [the RCUK proposal] called for mandatory self-archiving, and proposed introducing the mandate in October. Faced with increasingly hysterical criticism from publishers, and no doubt growing pressure from the DTI, however, the final announcement of the policy was later delayed until November. And as the temperature has continued to rise, so the timetable has continued to slip. A final announcement is not now expected before next year....Rather than waiting for its "experts on the research community" to arrive at a policy framework, Lord Sainsbury's comments would appear to imply that the DTI has taken a very hands-on approach to the matter. Certainly this remains the view of the Science & Technology Committee. "When the inquiry was running, the Committee very much shared your suspicion that DTI was pulling the strings on open access publishing — not RCUK," comments a former clerk in the Science &Technology office. "I'm not aware that the situation has changed since then. [In fact] anecdotally the same problems are still occurring."...But jousting with publisher apologists in an online forum is one thing; affecting what happens in the offline world is another. The problem facing the OA movement is that Lord Sainsbury and the DTI appear still to be highly sceptical about the merits of Open Access. Will they eventually give way to the inevitable? While RCUK is currently reluctant to discuss progress, privately insiders say that they remain hopeful that they can implement a mandate, in some shape or form. They concede, however, that their work is being hampered by the lobbying efforts of publisher organisations, particularly the ALPSP....So what do we learn from this protracted and painful process? What seems clear is that the DTI has only been listening to one side of the debate. Whether this is because it simply doesn't want to hear the other side, or whether the OA movement has failed to communicate its message effectively we don’t know. It may be that the OA movement has spent too much time rebutting publisher criticism, rather than directly lobbying the DTI — which is, after all, the ultimate power broker here.

Another blog posting on the Royal Society statement

Stuart Yeates, Royal Society has come out against Open Access Journals? November 28, 2005. Excerpt:
I'm personally not convinced that this story represents the considered opinion of the Royal Society as a whole. The issue is challenging for the Royal Society, because like many scholarly societies they currently derive a large portion of their income from selling journals to institutional libraries. On the other hand, open access can provide faster, cheaper and more transparent submission, peer review, publication and dissemination than printed journals or closed electronic journals....[After quoting the Royal Society:] All their significant qualms appear to be about funding.

Stephen Downes quotes Yeates' comment in his own blog and adds this comment: "I'm sympathetic, though I caution, the purpose of academic publishing is not to keep organizations like the Royal Society afloat, much as they may feel otherwise."

Putting learned societies first, research second

Heather Morrison, What if..., Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, November 28, 2005. Excerpt:
The human genome sequence is freely downloadable from Genbank and the European Bioinformatics Institute - thanks to the efforts of early open access pioneers. What is this had not been the case? Imagine that various different learned societies each ended up with the rights to a chunk of chromosome, and sold access rights to the DNA sequence in order to fund their charitable activities. One can only imagine the furore that would have blown up if it had then been proposed to open up access to the DNA sequences. Instead of an open access environment which allows all of humankind to put all of our greatest assets - the 6 billion or so human minds on the planet - into advancing medical knowledge, we could have had dollars for a few, comfortable conferences and lectures for the wealthy, and exclusion for everyone else.

Lawsuit to shut down OA science site

Two Christian fundamentalists are upset about a scientific web site, Understanding Evolution, and are suing two Berkeley professors for writing it and the National Science Foundation for funding it.

Comment. The plaintiffs complain the site might "modify the beliefs of public school science students so they will be more willing to accept evolutionary theory as true." I can't tell whether they object that the site is persuasive (and might influence those who read it) or that it is open access (and might be read by students and teachers). OA seems to be at least part of the problem, since they are not (yet) suing the authors of priced journal articles, monographs, and textbooks on evolution. The plaintiffs clearly object that the web site is federally-funded, as if they believed in the separation of church and state. But this is profoundly confused and for at least three reasons: (1) the web site is not religious and does not violate the separation of church and state; (2) the plaintiffs are the ones who would like to breach the wall of separation between church and state, in public schools, and (3) the plaintiffs would like to erect a new wall of separation between science and state. This lawsuit is a threat to science of any kind, OA and non-OA. While I believe the court will throw it out, throwing it out is not enough. If the Berkeley scientists and NSF don't counter-sue for frivolous litigation and collect damages, then other fundamentalists will be inclined to sue other scientists, if only to chill scientific publication by putting its authors and publishers to the trouble, time, expense, and risk of defending themselves in court.

Update (3/22/06). A federal judge has thrown the case out of court.

The best single site on OA textbooks

There are several projects to produce OA textbooks, and lots of individual OA textbooks around the web, but Textbook Revolution is the first portal and comprehensive collection OA textbooks that I've seen. (Thanks to LIS News.) You can browse the collection by discipline, search it by keyword, or subscribe to its Atom or RSS feed to track new additions. From the site:
In response to the textbook industry’s constant drive to maximize profits instead of educational value, I have started this collection of the existing free textbooks and educational tools available online. This website has several reasons for being: [1] To serve as a catalog of resources for students and teachers looking for free textbooks (one-stop shopping), [2] To act as a mirror for files. Mirrors help reduce bandwidth costs and prevent files from disappearing if a website goes out of business, [3] To promote the need for and availability of free textbooks.

Monday, November 28, 2005

New search engine for OAI -compliant repositories

The University College Dublin School of Information and Library Studies has developed OJAX, an open-source, Ajax-powered metasearch engine for OAI-compliant repositories. It can be set up to search one repository or many. From today's announcement:
[The OJAX prototype] provides a highly dynamic user interface to a federated search service for OAI-PMH compatible repository metadata. OJAX is simple, non-threatening but powerful. It attempts to minimise upfront user investment and provide immediate dynamic feedback, thus encouraging experimentation and enabling enactive learning. Features of OJAX: [1] Auto-completion of search terms, [2] Triggering of auto-searches, [3] Dynamically scrollable search results - no more navigating between pages, [4] Auto-expansion of search result details, [5] Rapid sorting of results.

Milestone for E-LIS repository

E-LIS, the OA repository for library and information science, now has more than 3,000 documents on deposit. (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)

Barbara Kirsop on the Royal Society statement

Barbara Kirsop, Royal Society must embrace open access, SciDev.Net, November 25, 2005. A letter to the editor. Excerpt:
I am appalled at the recent statement made by the Royal Society regarding access to research publications. Apart from misunderstanding the proposals made by the Research Councils UK (RCUK), the following statement indicates the total lack of understanding of the world’s research needs:
“A young post-doctoral researcher in mathematics at an Ethiopian university has different needs and different means compared with an established senior research fellow in pharmacology [at] a UK company's laboratory.”
What are the different needs of an Ethiopian scientist, pray? Researchers everywhere need access to the world’s research information. Those that are less privileged need it most. The advent of the open access archiving policies, now widely accepted by visionary academics, solves the problem and greatly strengthens the international scientific communities and our ability to solve global problems (think only of bird flu, AIDS, environmental disasters, climate change). Institutional Repositories (IRs) require the continuance of journals, as 92% of 9000 publishers asked have accepted, including enlightened S&T publishers such as Elsevier. The aim of IRs is not the demise of journals, but quite the contrary. It is shameful that one of our most senior scientific bodies misstates the present OA situation and dismisses the needs of poorer nations. Thankfully, this is not the case of such organisations as UNESCO, ICSU, CODATA, IFLA, CERN, CNRS, INSERM, INRA, INRIA, and all universities in the Netherlands and Scotland, many universities in the UK, USA, Australia, Canada...and recently of WSIS. All these support the concept of institutional repositories for publicly funded and published research results. The Royal Society should join with the international scientific community in embracing the new technology that has such huge potential for science and the economies of the poorer countries.

The digital divide is hindering science

Gisèle Dodji Dovi, 'More Internet access needed' for science to go global, SciDev.Net, November 25, 2005. Excerpt:
The Internet is not meeting its potential to globalise science because researchers in developing countries are not getting the access they need, according to an international study. The research conducted by the World Science Project in six developing countries and the United States was presented last week in Tunisia prior to the World Summit on the Information Society. Participants at the Summit heard repeatedly that higher education institutes in developing nations, and in Africa in particular, need more Internet connections and greater bandwidth....But according to World Science Project director Wesley Shrum, this would not be enough to boost research and teaching at such institutions. He says more must be done to ensure that scientists get the Internet access they need to participate in the global research community.

Comment. Doesn't the digital divide interfere with plans to promote open access? Here's how Subbiah Arunachalam (Arun) and I answered this question last month in a paper for WSIS delegates: "Yes and no. First, internet access is improving rapidly in many developing countries and equipment costs and connectivity charges are coming down. Second, we should work now on the content side of the divide in order to take full advantage of every increment of progress on the hardware side. Primarily, this means educating scientists about the benefits of OA and persuading universities, libraries, funding agencies, and governments to adopt OA-friendly policies."

Advancing OA in Germany

Christian Woll, Optimierungspotenziale bei der praktischen Umsetzung von Open Access, a presentation at the conference, Knowledge eXtended: Die Kooperation von Wissenschaftlern, Bibliothekaren und IT-Spezialisten (Jülich, November 2-4, 2005). In German. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.) On the strengths and weaknesses of the two roads to OA --archives and journals-- and a strategy for making progress in Germany.

More on the Open Educational Resources courseware portal

John Blau, Open content opens doors to opportunity, InfoWorld, November 22, 2005. (Thanks to Darius Cuplinskas.) Excerpt:
Plenty of groups met at the Internet summit in Tunis, Tunisia, last week to talk about changing the fortunes of people from developing countries still locked out of the information society. A few, however, preferred to use the event to announce action. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Development Gateway Foundation are members of a group that dropped the words for deeds last week when they announced a new open-content initiative together with Utah State University and the African Virtual University. The group launched a new portal that provides access to a wide range of open-content educational courses and other materials offered for free by institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and the Chinese Open Resources for Education. The portal will be managed by the African Virtual University, a network of African universities working together to support distance learning and open-education initiatives.

CNRS legal guide to OA archiving

France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) has produced a legal guide to depositing documents in open archives (in French). (Thanks to Minh Ha Duong.)

OA publisher in the humanities

Kathleen Fitzpatrick has written a proposal (November 27) to create ElectraPress, an open-access publisher of humanities monographs. If the project gathers enough support, it may launch during the 2006-07 academic year. For new developments, follow the ElectraPress blog.

More on Google Library

Victor Greto, Copyright's next test, Delaware Online, November 28, 2005. Greto interviews two book-publishing authors from the University of Delaware, Thomas Leitch, who objects to Google Library, and Ben Yagoda, who supports it. Leitch used to believe that the more attention his work received, the better.
"But the more I think about it, that's not true," Leitch says. "Everything that I've ever published has a copyright notice. I sell myself to a press, but that's a deal I've made, even though I don't make much money." Like Leitch, none of Yagoda's books are listed on the site, but also like Leitch, his work is cited in dozens of books that already have been scanned in. "It's not hurting me or my earnings, or defaming me, or doing anything harmful to me or my work," he says. Nor does the principle behind it bother him. "To me, it only becomes a problem if someone takes away something that you could have benefited from. The revenue wouldn't have existed otherwise."

Greto also interviewed Allan Adler, VP for the Association of American Publishers, which is suing Google to stop the Google Library project.

Google also gives authors and publishers the chance to "opt out" of the site. "They think they're being generous, but the burden is on the author and publisher," Adler says. "If it was fair use, you wouldn't be offering the opt-out."

(PS: I'd like correct Allan Adler's point. If Google's library scanning and snippet sharing is fair use, then the company wouldn't be obligated to offer an opt-out and publishers wouldn't be entitled to claim one. But Google could still offer one without undermining its legal theory. Offering an opt-out simply means that Google is being more generous or accommodating than it has to be.)

OA medical sites for consumers

In today's issue of the Boston Globe, Judy Foreman has a good overview of the NIH's many OA collections of medical information, such as Clinical Trials, Medline Plus, Health Finder,, and PubMed. She also covers many non-NIH sites, including Consumer Reports Medical Guide, WebMD, Mayo Clinic, Health on the Net, URAC, Harvard Medical School, PDR Health, Safe Medication, and Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs.

Another book publisher mistakes Google indexing for reprinting

William Rees-Mogg, Help, we've been Googled! London Times, November 28, 2005. Rees-Mogg is the chairman of Pickering & Chatto, a small publisher of limited-circulation academic books bought mainly by libraries. Here's his key complaint:
Obviously Google has every right to republish books that are out of copyright. The question concerns books that are still in copyright and will remain so for 70 years or more. If Google can scan these books, without the permission of the publisher, and include them in its database, then most libraries will not need to buy them. And if librarians do not buy them, they cannot be published.

Comment. But this is just wrong. If the books are indeed under copyright, then Google will offer only short snippets, not full text. Libraries that have wanted P&C's print books will still want them after them after snippets are available through Google Library. Moreover, P&C may always exclude its copyrighted books from Google scanning. But perhaps P&C is really thinking about its public-domain books, such as the complete works of Daniel Defoe. It's possible that Google scanning of these books, coupled with its policy to provide free online full-text for reading, will undermine library sales and hurt P&C's business. But in that case, P&C's objection is less clear. If it wants protection from this threat, then we have to ask which is worse, Google's decision to take advantage of its right to use public-domain literature or a publisher's attempt to re-enclose the commons and extend copyright-like control over public-domain literature?

Update. Tony Sanfilippo makes an argument very similar to Rees-Mogg's, but on behalf of the Penn State University Press, in today's issue of Centre Daily Times.

More on the Royal Society statement

Heather Morrison, Royal Society of Chemistry Position Statement on Open Access, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, November 27, 2005. Excerpt:
Many have already commented on this statement - Peter Suber succinctly states the major fallacies in his Nov. 24 comments on Open Access News, where links to many other responses can be found. Some thoughtful replies can be found on the American Scientist Open Access Forum thread, Not a Proud Day in the Annals of the Royal Society, initiated by Barbara Kirsop. Here are a couple of notes on my perspective....The Royal Society asserts that the goal of OA advocates is: "to stop commercial publishers from making profits from the publication of research that has been funded from the public purse. While some companies do appear to be making excessive profits from the publication of researchers' papers..." Profits are not the issue, not even excessive profits! Access is the issue. Google is one commercial company that appears to be making lots of money from an open access approach, even if it's not primarily in the scholarly realm - kudos to google! BioMedCentral is a for-profit commercial open access publisher - I'm sure all OA advocates join me in wishing BMC nothing but success, including financial success. Where the confusion may stem from is where a few organizations - both commercial publishers and not-for-profits - appear to be prioritizing profits over dissemination of scholarly knowledge. The fight of the American Chemical Society against PubChem is an excellent example of this. Making profits providing good service in the public interest (providing peer review and optimum dissemination of scholarly research - whether as an OA publisher or by providing full self-archiving rights) is a good thing. Using one's profits to actively lobby against the public interest, is something else altogether....

The Royal Society states: "The Royal Society and other learned bodies currently use their publishing surpluses to fund activities such as academic conferences and public lectures..." This puzzles me, a little, and I would like to suggest a challenge for the Royal Society and other publishers following this approach. That is to say, in librarianship our associations run conferences on a cost-recovery or modest surplus basis, rather than subsidizing. We are not a well-funded discipline at all. Our associations need to keep membership fees and conference fees low, in order to be successful. If librarians can manage to make money from conferences, why does a well-funded discipline like chemistry need sudsidies?...

Profile of Anita Coleman

Heather Morrison profiles Anita Coleman in OA Librarian for November 27. Another installment in Heather's celebration of librarians who fight for OA. Excerpt:
What better way to join our friends in the U.S. in their Thansgiving celebrations than by giving thanks for the driving force behind DLIST: Anita Coleman, just one of the very many American open access librarian leaders! Anita's presentation DLIST and Dl-Harvest: Open Access for LIS: presentation Sept. 2005, outlines the history of DLIST and DL-Harvest, a metadata harvester providing cross-searching for 11 repositories. DLIST was started with a budget of $5000 for a server, and relies entirely on volunteer labor - including the labor of a number of Anita's students, graduate research assistants, and interns over the years. Anita also talks a little bit about the OA movement - some familiar figures - George Soros, Peter Suber, Stevan Harnad - and others, whose connection with the OA movement isn't quite so familiar for me....Anita, of course, self-archives her own work as well - a substantial body of it, as she serves as Assistant Professor, School of Information Resources & Library Science, University of Arizona. Recently, Anita released a survey instrument for a work in progress - the DLIST Survey 2005: Self-Archiving and Scholarly Communication Behaviors in LIS....If you are a librarian and debating whether to self-archive - whether in DLIST, E-LIS, or your institutional repository: here is a thought. We librarians experience all the beneifts of self-archiving of every other discipline - enhanced impact, more citations - but, for us, there is another important reason to self-archive. That is, once those mandates come into play, our faculty will be looking for help to archive their own works - and what better way for us to gain experience, than by starting with our own works - or encouraging and helping friends!

Profile of the World Digital Library

Barbara Quint, Library of Congress Launches Global "Rare Book" Digitization Project with Google Donation, Information Today, November 28, 2005. Excerpt:
[The Library of Congress (LC)] has launched an initiative to build a World Digital Library (WDL). Its first partner is Google, which has made a $3 million contribution. In contrast to the Google Book Search and Open Content Alliance strategies of digitizing all books, the WDL project will focus on digitizing “rare and unique cultural materials held in U.S. and Western repositories with those of other great cultures.” Along with books, the WDL will cover documents, video, audio, manuscripts, etc. Funding and content will come from public and private partnerships, with both U.S. and international participation. The WDL expands on LC’s Global Gateway, begun in 2000, by broadening the geographic scope to non-Western nations and cultures and focusing on the cultures and histories of those nations. The Global Gateway focuses on materials reflecting the historical intersections between contributing countries, and the U.S. Google’s contribution will help fund the initial planning stages for the project....The Library of Congress has long pioneered digitization, in part as a function of its preservation efforts. It has already built major digital libraries involving extensive digitization, especially of fragile material (e.g., the American Memory project begun in 1990, which launched into a Web site program in 1994 as part of the National Digital Library Program). The American Memory Web site now includes more than 10 million rare and unique materials supplied by LC and its partners. The U.S. Congress has also mandated LC to take a leadership role in forming the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), a network of institutional partners working to build a digital preservation architecture for collecting, preserving, and making accessible material only available in digital form....None of the arrangements involve payments to Google. LC representatives also indicated that the Library is considering working with the Open Content Alliance as well as Google....As for its experience with international coverage, more than half of LC’s existing book collection consists of non-English language books. The Global Gateway Web site contains multilingual content and multimedia presentations that include contributions from repositories in Russia, Spain, Brazil, the Netherlands, and France. LC representatives expect WDL to build on the Global Gateway partnerships and hope someday all national libraries will participate....Library of Congress inclusion policies for its digital collections such as American Memory require all items to be free of copyright, either because they fall into the public domain or they have become available due to special permission. Novak said that, in the case of the American Memory collection, many outlets have not only linked to its content but have taken it and, in some cases, produced CD-ROMs for sale. It is yet to be decided how policies will change when dealing with the world’s national libraries, as LC hopes to do with the WDL project. However, Billington’s goals aim at the broadest possible access. "The World Digital Library would make these collections available free of charge to anyone accessing the Internet."

Free-culture reservations about Google Library

Siva Vaidhyanathan, A Risky Gamble With Google, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 2, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
I have to confess, I am thrilled and dazzled by the potential of such a machine [Google Library] and the research and distribution opportunities it presents. I sincerely wish every Internet user had access to a full-text search of every book in the Google libraries. But, as we all know, we should be careful what we wish for. This particular project, I fear, opens up more problems than it solves. It will certainly fail to live up to its utopian promise. And it dangerously elevates Google's role and responsibility as the steward — with no accountability — of our information ecosystem. That's why I, an avowed open-source, open-access advocate, have serious reservations about it. It pains me to declare this: Google's Library Project is a risky deal for libraries, researchers, academics, and the public in general. However, it's actually not a bad deal for publishers and authors, despite their protestations....I can't help but envision this fight [between Google and the suing authors and publishsers] as one between Godzilla and Megalon. Whoever the bad guy turns out to be, a whole lot of good things are going to get crushed in the melee....To preserve its status as the elite, venerated, and fast-moving technology company that does good as well as well, Google must therefore do two things. It must continue to convince the world that it is the anti-Microsoft. And it must find more things to index and expose to the world....Google's corporate mission statement includes the rather optimistic and humanistic phrase, "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."...Google co-founder Sergey Brin once offered a more ominous indication of what the enterprise might become: "The perfect search engine would be like the mind of God." Both quotations should worry us. Is it really proper for one company — no matter how egalitarian it claims to be — to organize all the world's information? Who asked it to? Isn't that the job of universities, libraries, academics, and librarians? Have those institutions and people failed in their mission? Must they outsource everything? Is anyone even watching to see if Google does the job properly?...With Google Library, we have a whole new set of privacy concerns. Can we trust Google not to turn over individual reading records of patrons to the FBI or local law-enforcement officials? There is nothing in Google's privacy policy that promises it will resist such abusive practices. In fact, its policy declares that it will give law-enforcement investigators information to "satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request." Even a stronger privacy pledge from the company would be hard to take seriously. Plenty of other companies, like airlines, have violated their own privacy policies....I know many librarians who would rather go to jail than reveal my borrowing habits to suspicious snoops. I doubt I can count on Google's employees to be as committed to user confidentiality. It's important to remember that Google serves its own masters: its stockholders and its partners. It does not serve the people of the state of Michigan or the students and faculty members of Harvard University. So the five libraries in Google's project are essentially outsourcing the risk and responsibility for digitizing texts and making them searchable online....[W]e must recognize that some of the thorniest problems facing libraries today — paying for and maintaining commercial electronic databases and cataloging services — are a direct result of rapid privatization and onerous contract terms. There are too many devils in too many details. The long-term risk of privatization is simple: Companies change and fail. Libraries and universities last. Should we entrust our heritage and collective knowledge to a business that has been around for less time than Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were together?...It also invites a collision of norms and rules unlike any we have seen in almost a century. It is certainly the most interesting — and possibly the most disruptive — copyright conflict since battles over copying film and recorded music....So this is my concern: Google has not only, in the words of a University of Pittsburgh law professor, Michael J. Madison, "bet the company" on its Print Library. It has "bet the Internet." If a New York court rules clumsily, indelicately, or too broadly in an attempt to express umbrage at Google's audacity, then the principles of Kelly [which basically make search engine indexing legal] are in danger. So are future similar initiatives, whether they come from libraries or the private sector....[U]niversity counsels are already skittish enough. They often advise against doing things that are clearly legal out of fear and misunderstanding. A bad loss in the Google case could blow a massive chilling effect across all sorts of good ideas....All the proprietary algorithms in the world are not going to replace [librarians]. There was a reason why Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, and others of their generation believed the republic could not survive without libraries. They are embodiments of republican ideals. They pump the blood of a democratic culture, information. So I worry. We need services like that provided by Google Library. But they should be "Library Library" projects. Libraries should not be relinquishing their core duties to private corporations for the sake of expediency.

Update. Siva has posted the full text to his blog for those without CHE subscriptions.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The UK Research Information Network

The UK Research Information Network (RIN) will officially launch on December 8 but already has a web site and an online Strategic Plan 2005-2008. Linda Nortling's article in the November 15 Guardian gives a good brief overview:
The RIN is a new organisation, set up with £3m from the UK's three higher education funding bodies, three national libraries and eight research councils to "lead and coordinate new developments in the collaborative provision of research information for the benefit of researchers in the UK". According to the plan, the RIN has six "strategic aims", each as enigmatic as the other. Aim one, for example, is to develop a "strategic framework for enhancing the UK research information infrastructure"....[I]ts work will stretch across all disciplines, from life sciences to humanities. It will cover all aspects of academic research....Last month, the RIN launched a study into the way UK research funders manage the outputs of the work they fund. The study will report its findings in March. The RIN is also commissioning an analysis of the behaviour, perceptions and needs of the users of UK research, which will report in June.

Excerpt from the RIN Strategic Plan:

The mission of the to "lead and co-ordinate new developments in the collaborative provision of research information for the benefit of researchers in the UK."...Key tasks in the initial stages of the RIN's existence will be to:...[2] provide...advice to JISC and other bodies on key collections and other resources to which the research community requires access; and [3] review the studies available on the behaviour of researchers in finding, accessing, and using information in a variety of formats; and commission as appropriate further studies in a range of disciplines in order to provide a better understanding of how services might be developed better to meet their needs....Aim 4. To co-ordinate action to improve the arrangements for researchers to find information sources relevant to their work, and how they may gain access to them....[T]he RIN will work with others to:...ensure that researchers from all parts of the UK are provided with effective and user-friendly access to the national distributed collection....In order to improve researchers' ability to access and to use the research outputs and other relevant information they need, the RIN will work with others to ensure, on a sustainable basis, that [1] as much relevant material as possible is made available to researchers through sustainable stores; [2] so far as possible, both published and unpublished material from different sources is made available to researchers interoperably, and that there are as few restrictions as possible on access to material by bona fide researchers across the UK....[RIN will] work with the Research Councils and others to produce model guidelines on researchers' responsibilities with regard to the outputs they produce....Other work will...follow-up...the current project to deliver an infrastructure to support the deposit, access and use of research theses for the UK HE sector.

Wiki of Indian law

Indian law students are building a collection of OA legal materials on a wiki with the temporary name Anonymous. (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.) From the front page: "This site is an attempt to create a pool of free Indian legal materials on the web to be shared by law students, legal practitioners, academics and other members of the legal fraternity alike. The site also aims to serve as a repository of project-work donated by students from Law Universities across India."

Coordinating EU digitization projects

Dynamic Action Plan for the EU co-ordination of digitisation of cultural and scientific content, Project MINERVA, November 22, 2005. A plan to coordinate digitization projects across the EU, especially digitization of cultural and scientific content. Also see the press release.

Another blog comment on the Royal Society statement

Dan Gezelter, The Royal Society lays a big one, The OpenScience Project, November 26, 2005. Excerpt:
What are they thinking? The Royal Society wants to keep science off the web because it might hurt the society journals in some disciplines. Although I might have some sympathy for the plight of society journals, the journals that will die off first due to public access are the vastly overpriced for-profit journals, while the society journals (which are usually priced more reasonably) will do quite well. I’ve said before that peer review and editing is worth the money we pay for society journals; public access won’t alter this.

New French book on OA

Francis André, Open Access to Knowledge / Libre accès aux savoirs, a new book from Futuribles, 2005. (Thanks to Richard Ackerman.) Here's the publisher's blurb:
If open-source software has shown the importance of skill sharing, it is part of a broader issue: the progress of thought, and therefore of science, depends primarily on the freedom to communicate and exchange ideas. Thus the importance of the international initiative in favour of open access to scientific works that challenges a commercial publishing system where some publishers can claim a quasi-monopoly. Francis André is a major player of this movement of utmost importance for Southern countries and ultimately for the overall global development of innovation.
It's short: 72 pp. with French and English on facing pages. 12 Euros in France, 13 elsewhere.

Another blog comment on the Royal Society statement

Matt Barton, Royal Society Stands Against Open Access, KairosNews, November 26, 2005. Excerpt:
Well, here's something that really makes my blood curdle. The Royal Society has taken a stand against open access journals. Their argument is the standard one that confuses means with ends. The presence of these free journals will make it less likely that scientists will pay high prices for paper ones. Therefore, we must eliminate the open access journals to protect the proprietary ones. It's really sad for me to see the Royal Society lumbering on like all the other dinosaurs. After all, the historically revolutionized scientific discourse by offering the first real scientific journal, Philosohpical Transactions, and made every effort to get that journal into the hands of scientists everywhere --even "foreign" ones....They were also converting science from one of secrecy to one of full disclosure (making a gamble that scientists would trade their knowledge for good publicity and notoriety).

More on the Royal Society statement

Royal Society Fears Government-Sponsored Open Access to Publications, Element List, November 26, 2005. An unsigned news story. (Thanks to Moon Star.) Excerpt, after summarizing the RCUK proposal:
Sounds reasonable, no? The Royal Society, however, is afraid that the new proposals will divert funds and readership away from their publications, namely the Philosophical Transactions, one of the world's oldest journals, and "has written to RC UK proposing that a study be commissioned to assess the relative merits of the various models that have been proposed under the rather broad banner of open access, including that outlined by RC UK in its consultation document" (read: delay tactic). Nevermind that such journals are rapidly being sidelined by online open access scientfic journals....If the Royal Society were savvy enough, they'd make their articles open over the web (i.e., be the repository) and include Google ads or the like on the webpages for revenue. Alas, they're behaving like another dinosaur, slow to adapt to a changing environment.