Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 21, 2006

If we must have DRM, let it be this DRM

Wendy M. Grossman, Digital Rights Manifesto revealed, The Inquirer, January 20, 2006. A good first shot at principles for making DRM compatible with user rights. Excerpt:
DRM should respect the public domain. That means [DRM on copyrighted works] should automatically expire, leaving the content freely accessible, on the date when the work enters the public domain....When a work is in the public domain, companies wishing to claim copyright in the design, formatting, typography, layout, and graphics they include in something like an ebook should be required to make it plain in their clickwrap licenses that the public domain work is not included in the copyright, and should be required to design the product so that the raw text may be copied or circulated freely....Circumventing DRM should not be a crime (as of course it is under the US's Digital Millennium Copyright Act) in and of itself.

Comment. Most OA literature lacks DRM. If there's an exception, it's for what could be called "harmless DRM" that doesn't block access or authenticate users but merely measures anonymized traffic. (Some wouldn't even classify this as DRM.) Hence, most copyright holders who consent to OA thereby consent to dispense with DRM. Grossman's principles are for the other copyright holders. Her principles are intended to restore user rights repealed by unbalanced laws or violated by overreaching technologies. Hence their uptake should not depend on copyright-holder consent (though that would be nice) but should be legislated and enforced. A good start. Now, which party really wants to represent consumers?

OA medical images

MedPix is a new OA database of medical images. For details see yesterday's press release:
MedPix is a free online Medical Image Database, provided by the Departments of Radiology and Biomedical Informatics, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD. All public content is peer-reviewed by an Editorial Panel. All contributed content may be copyrighted by the original author/contributor. MedPix provides the indexing, storage service, and bandwidth as a public education service. Individuals as well as institutions may participate. Our primary target audience includes resident and practicing physicians, medical students, nurses and graduate nursing students and other post-graduate trainees. The material is organized by disease category, disease location (organ system), and by patient profiles. The database can be searched through multiple internal text search engines. In addition, search formulations can be sent directly to PubMed, or to other outside search engines with just ONE CLICK. Registered users may browse the image database through a "slide sorter" module. Contributed content may be copyrighted by the original author/contributor and is used with their permission.

More on the OA repository from the IDRC

Neil Sutton, Canadian database to archive global research work, IT Business, January 19, 2006. (Thanks to OA Librarian.) Excerpt:
A Canadian organization is building an archive infrastructure to allow researchers and educators in developing countries a better chance of sharing their work with the world. The International Development Research Centre, a Canadian Crown corporation, is following the model established by MIT and Canadian universities like U of [Toronto] by setting up an open source database of articles. In the case of those universities, the database is designed to hold content written by local faculty and scholars. The IRDC’s Open Archive project will provide a venue for researchers who may, in the past, have found it difficult to get their work published. These researchers live in what the IRDC deems “southern countries,” mostly in Africa, South America and parts of Asia. “Southern researchers are pretty much cut off from northern scholarly channels, so the whole idea is to break down all those mainly geographic, social and economic barriers to getting your work out there,” said Marjorie Whalen, director of research information management service for Ottawa-based IRDC....IRDC is looking at two alternatives for the Open Archive, both open source: DSpace, developed by HP and MIT, and Eprint, developed by the University of Southampton in the U.K. These two applications have emerged as the front runners for numerous scholarly archiving projects....The biggest challenges around institutional archives aren’t technical but cultural, said Kathleen Shearer, a research associate with the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, whose members include more than two dozen universities. “It’s quite a new role for libraries, because libraries are usually bringing in new content for researchers rather than collecting content that’s created at the institution,” said Shearer. “The biggest challenge with these types of projects is actually getting the researchers to deposit their content.”...Some university scholars may be concerned with the copyright issues around open publishing, said Devakos, but most journals already contain a clause that allows for content to be published online in an archival context. Generating international submissions for the IDRC’s Open Archive won’t be a problem, said Whelan. There is already a huge demand for this type of service in nations that lack publishing resources. Political restrictions are also becoming less a problem, she added. “For the most part, those barriers are coming down. The problems are not so much government monopolies and government barriers, but there are definitely problems with bandwidth. That’s sort of the last frontier,” she said.

Another STM publisher blog

Richard Charkin, CEO of Macmillan (parent company of the Nature Publishing Group), writes a blog. (Thanks to Timo Hannay.)

OA digitization projects from the US government

The U.S. Government Printing Office maintains a Registry of U.S. Government Publication Digitization Projects. (Thanks to Free Government Information.) From the site:
The Registry contains records for projects that include digitized copies of publications originating from the U.S. Government. The projects may or may not be Federally funded. They are from libraries, government agencies, or other non-profit institutions. The projects in the Registry are either entirely composed of digitized, U.S. Government publications or include a substantial number of them. Access to the digitized material must be free. In the rare case where a publication includes an element that is copyrighted, e.g. an image, the metadata in the Other Information section of the Registry entries will indicate that distinction.

Funder requires grantees to share data every two months

Sharon Begley, In Switch, Scientists Share Data to Develop Useful Drug Therapies, Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2006. (Thanks to John Wilbanks.) Excerpt:
From Alzheimer's and diabetes to cancer, schizophrenia and even baldness, the list of ailments that elude cure marches on. The crisis in "translational science," or turning basic discoveries into therapies, has been brewing for years, but it hit a depressing nadir in 2005, when just 20 new drugs won approval from the Food and Drug Administration....[T]he three-year-old Myelin Repair Foundation...requires that the five biologists it supports share results in real time. Because they don't keep discoveries under wraps until publication, they can build on each other's work sooner....The foundation's insistence that its scientists exchange results every two months is a sea change from the standard every-two-to-five-years progress report. "This has been one of the most difficult transitions, getting scientists to understand accountability in the short term," says Robert Miller of Case Western Reserve University.

Update. Also see the Slashdot thread on this story.

Getting private foundations to fund more research

Giving More for Research in Europe: The role of foundations and the non-profit sector in boosting R&D investment, dated September 2005 but released January 2006. A report funded by the European Commission and written by a group of experts led by Yves Mény. Excerpt:
This report addresses the question of how to increase giving for research through foundations in Europe. Until now, relatively little attention has been paid by the EU institutions to the role played by foundations that fund research activities in boosting Europe’s overall level of investment in R&D. These organisations however represent an important source of funding for some research activities, and could potentially be an important element in the EC strategy to create a European Research Area. In addition, research foundations have a qualitative impact on the direction and nature of research that is undertaken in Europe....Foundations...are private entities serving public goals and their distinctive characteristics allow them to add value to European research activities and add dimension to research funding. Their role needs to be seen in a broader context of social and political change in Europe whereby in today’s advanced civil society the state is no longer considered the only guardian of the public interest. This is why it is increasingly accepted that foundations have a role in promoting public benefit research.

Also see today's press release announcing the report:

The role of philanthropy to fund research has been analysed by an expert group set up by the European Commission. The group considers in the final report “Giving More for Research in Europe” that too little attention is paid to the role of foundations and other philanthropic bodies in the field of research. Their potential to raise and channel additional funds for research should be better exploited. To this effect, the group makes a series of recommendations addressed to foundations themselves as well as to public authorities at national and EU level. This report is a first step in the work towards placing research at the heart of philanthropic activities....[T]he report proposes to establish a “European Forum of Research Foundations” to share experience, review best practices and promote co-operation among foundations funding research.

Also see the upcoming conference where the report will presented and discussed, Conference On Giving More For Research In Europe (Brussels, March 27-28, 2006).

Comment. Currently, the Wellcome Trust has the strongest OA policy of any research funder in the world, public or private. The policy Congress asked the NIH to adopt was equivalent in strength but diluted by lobbying. The policy the House of Commons recommended and the RCUK initially drafted was equivalent in strength but is now, apparently, being diluted by lobbying. (The final form of the RCUK policy has not yet been announced.) The argument for OA to publicly-funded research is clear and compelling, but in practice private foundations may find it easier than public agencies to mandate OA to funded research. We should support the EC drive to persuade more private foundations to fund research. We should talk directly with the major foundations about putting OA conditions on their grants, as the Wellcome Trust does. As the EC collects best practices for private funders of research, we should be ready to demonstrate that OA promotes the interests of the foundations, researchers, and the public.

Is the National Science Board retreating from OA?

The U.S. National Science Board new vision for the future of the National Science Foundation (published December 28, 2005, released online January 20, 2006) is silent on OA issues. This is disappointing, not only for the missed opportunity to promote OA at the NSF, the second largest research funder in the U.S. federal government, but also because in March 2005 the same National Science Board recommended that the NSF support "free and open access [to data] wherever feasible."

Projecting the future of OA

David Goodman, Open Access: What Comes Next after 2004, a 2006 update to a 2005 article. Self-archived January 20, 2006.
Abstract: This is a revised version of David Goodman, "Open Access: What Comes Next." Learned Publishing 18(1):13-23 (2005) The present revision adjusts the figures, their corresponding legends, and discussion to match the Note added in proof in the published article. The published article itself has the Note added in proof only, since it was not practical to adjust the figures. The changes here are sufficiently great that the author considers this version independent, and has consequently given it an altered title. This article examines the effects that present decisions about Open Access (OA) will have over the next ten years. It will be shown that the consequences are affected both by deliberate choices of policy by librarians and publishers, as well as by the adoption of various alternatives by scientific authors. The eventual result could be excellent, or quite otherwise.

More on OA journals and society publishers

Carol Tenopir, Not-for-profit Scholarly Societies and Open Access Journal Publishing, a PPT presentation, self-archived January 20, 2006.
Abstract: This is a presentation delivered at the "Issues in Scholarly Communication: Electronic Publishing, Open Access, and JELIS" panel at ALISE 2006 Annual Conference, January 16-19, San Antonio, Texas. Key findings from two studies, ALPSP and CIBER, on the funding models for open access journals and a survey of authors are reported.

New measures of journal value

Anita Coleman, Assessing the Value of a Journal Beyond the Impact Factor: Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, a preprint, self-archived January 20, 2006.
This is a preprint of a paper submitted to the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. The well-documented limitations of journal impact factor rankings and perceptual ratings, the evolving scholarly communication system, the open access movement, and increasing globalization are some reasons that prompted an examination of journal value rather than just impact. Using a single specialized journal established in 1960, about education for the Information professions, this paper discusses the fall from citation grace of the Journal of Education for Library and Information Science (JELIS) in terms of impact factor and declining subscriptions. Journal evaluation studies in Library and Information Science based on subjective ratings are used to show the high rank of JELIS during the same period (1984-2004) and explain why impact factors and perceptual ratings either singly or jointly are inadequate measures for understanding the value of specialized, scholarly journals such as JELIS. This case study was also a search for bibliometric measures of journal value. Three measures, namely journal attraction power, author associativity, and journal consumption power, were selected; two of them were re-defined as journal measures of affinity (the proportion of foreign authors), associativity (the amount of collaboration), and calculated as objective indicators of journal value. Affinity and associativity for JELIS calculated for 1984, 1994, 2004 and consumption calculated for 1985 and 1994 show a holding pattern but also reveal interesting dimensions for future study. A multi-dimensional concept of value should be further investigated wherein costs, benefits, and measures for informative and scientific value are clearly distinguished for the development of a fuller model of journal value.

From the body of the paper:

[O]pen access to the literature is changing scholarly communication in many ways. Digital repositories, for example, are tools to innovate scholarly communication by supplementing publishing; however, they are also increasing information overload since not all papers that are relevant to the topic can be cited. Familiarly known as the citation bias phenomenon, the extent to which the citation measures impact becomes even more debatable and ambiguous. Did the author really read all the articles and choose the best one? Impacts studies of open access databases and services such as Citeseer (Opcit, 2005) demonstrate the validity of newer measures for impact as well but further call into question the function and role of journals in the scholarly communication system of a discipline and add to the need for holistic measures of various aspects of a journal. An examination of scholarly journal value rather than performance or quality is thus timely.

Profile of the PsyDok repository

Ulrich Herb, PsyDok: electronic full-text archive for psychological documents, a presentation at the conference, Open Access to Grey Resources (Nancy, December 5-6, 2005).
Abstract: The Saarland University and State Library (Saarlaendische Universitaets- und Landesbibliothek SULB) runs the Special Subject Collection Psychology which is part of an information system for the supra-regional literature supply in Germany. With the increasing opportunities for electronic information the following question emerged for the Special Subject Collection: how can a contribution to the availability and preservation of electronic documents particularly with regards to grey literature be made? Giving an answer SULB established the repository PsyDok in autumn 2002. PsyDok is one of the few subject-specific digital repositories in Germany. It is a registered data provider of the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) and certified by the German Initiative for Networkinformation (DINI), which developed a variety of standards digital repositories have to comply with to achieve this mark of quality. PsyDok offers many interfaces to disciplinary and multidisciplinary retrieval and information systems. The allocation of Uniform Resource Names (URN) guarantees persistent availability and citeability of the documents. Several services and mechanisms guarantee not only a maximum of visibility and a rapid and global scientific exchange and flow of information stored on PsyDok but also its long term availability and its scientific utilization. PsyDok fits the principles of "Open Access": Many different document types may be published, but PsyDok focuses particularly on diploma theses, dissertations, professorial dissertations and grey literature. Regarding aspects of visibility, information exchange and scientific utilization producers of scientific literature benefit from PsyDok.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Database on public health converts to OA

Banque de Données Santé Publique is an online database on public health, focusing on issues such as alcoholism, epidemiology, and ethics. Launched in 1993, it only turned OA on December 23, 2005. (Thanks to Jean-Claude Guédon.)

OA in Africa

Commons Sense has released The African Digital Commons - A Participant's Guide: 2005 by Chris Armstrong and Heather Ford (English and French, DOC and PDF). See esp. Section 2.5 on the Access to Knowledge Treaty, 2.19 on Open Access, 2.20 on Open Content, 3.8 on Open Access and Open Content in Africa, 4.5 on University Institutional Repositories, 4.6 on University Electronic Theses and Dissertations, and 4.8 on Online Research Publishing.

OA to back runs of 33 Blackwell journals

In the January/February issue of its newsletter, Blackwell lists 33 of its journals and the timetables by which they provide free online access to their back runs. (Thanks to Chuck Hamaker.) The same issue also lists six new titles that are free online for this year, and the first five articles to appear in is Online Open program.

More on OA to grey literature

TextRelease has posted a short memorandum on its conference, Open Access to Grey Resources (Nancy, December 5-6, 2005). Of interest: the conference proceedings should be published this month (€70 but why not OA?) and the Spring 2006 issue of The Grey Journal will be devoted to Grey Matters for OAI.

OA policy recommendation for India

The session on open access at the 93rd Indian Science Congress (Hyderabad, January 3-7, 2006) produced a recommendation for the Optimal National Open Access Policy:
The Government of India [including DST, DSIR, CSIR, DBT, DoD, DAE, DRDO, ICAR, ICMR, UGC, IITs, IISc, and NITs] expects authors of research papers resulting from publicly-funded research to maximise the opportunities to make their results available for free. To this end the Government:
  • Requires electronic copies of any research paper that has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, and is supported in whole or in part by Government funding, to be deposited into an institutional open access repository immediately upon acceptance for publication.
  • Encourages Government Grant Holders to publish in a suitable Open Access Journal where one exists; the Government will cover the publication costs, if any.
  • Encourages Government Grant Holders to retain ownership of the copyright of published papers where possible.

The session was co-chaired by P.M. Bhargava and Subbiah Arunachalam and the speakers were Alma Swan (keynote, need for OA in developing countries), D.K. Sahu (OA increases visibility and circulation of journals), A.R.D. Prasad (how Indians can improve OA software), V. Balaji (plans for OA in the CGIAR system), S. Srinivas (plans for OA in CGIAR), Naina Pandita (OpenMed, IndMed and MedInd), B. G. Sunder Singh (What DSIR has done so far to support OA in India).

Comment. Congratulations to all involved. Is it reasonable to hope that a conference recommendation like this will be taken up through channels and adopted by the government? A February 2005 conference recommendation that the Ukraine mandate OA to publicly-funded research became a December 2005 parliamentary resolution to the same effect. Yes, it can happen.

Update. See the version of the Indian recommendation that includes an FAQ.

Introducing wikiCalc

Looking for an open-access, open-source, wiki-based spreadsheet for collaborative online calculations? See wikiCalc from Dan Bricklin, the inventor of the spreadsheet. For background, see his blog posting about it. (Thanks to David Weinberger.)

Web Citation Index will crawl more OA repositories

Thomson Scientific's Web Citation Index (still with no web site of its own) will crawl the OA repositories built with ProQuest's Digital Commons archiving software. From yesterday's press release:
Today, two key information solutions providers involved in enabling the open-access movement announced an initiative that will provide greater access to institutionally created research. The Thomson Scientific Web Citation Index will index ProQuest’s Digital Commons open access material. This new initiative means Digital Commons-hosted work will be more broadly discoverable....“We are very pleased to be working with ProQuest, given the number of scholarly institutions that have chosen Digital Commons since its introduction last year [said James Pringle, Vice President of Development, Thomson Scientific]. The Web Citation Index already includes repositories based on a variety of platforms. Adding significant content from ProQuest’s service will make it even easier for users around the world to discover pathways to material that includes preprints, post-prints, technical reports, dissertations, proceedings, and other gray literature.”...Web Citation Index is the multidisciplinary citation index of scholarly content from institutional and subject-based repositories. Web Citation Index transcends the capabilities of traditional Web search engines, providing users with a robust citation-based discovery vehicle for content hosted on institutional repositories. Thomson Scientific content editors select only those Web repositories deemed scholarly. This ensures Web Citation Index delivers only the highest-quality, most-relevant content.

Robert Shapiro on the Google Library project

Robert J. Shapiro, Google vs. the publishers, Austin American-Statesman, January 20, 2006. Shapiro was the Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs in the Clinton administration. Excerpt:
Google has a technological knack for making a fortune out of almost everything it does, and who can blame the publishers for wanting a cut of that? But this fight is also about a bigger issue that affects the rest of us as well — namely, the pace at which new ideas can change people's lives. The publishers cast their case as a principled defense of intellectual property rights, but they haven't offered much to back it up....For works still under copyright, the Google library search will provide the bibliographic information found in a library card catalog, along with a few sentences or paragraphs that use the key words from the original search. It's hard to find the threat to any writer's intellectual property rights in those rules....[The AAP] argument seems to have it all backward. In the Google library project, what prevents potential copyright infringements is not a publisher's decision to "opt out" or not, but whether Google provides more than a snippet without a publisher's permission....Economic and social progress is the essential element of the Google library project, regardless of what money may be at stake. In the end, publishers should be agitated not by the Google project, but by how the Internet has changed their business in ways that don't favor them....Google is at the forefront of a transformational technology — the Internet. The Internet has changed the way we buy airline tickets, purchase music and even make telephone calls. The publishers' association is at a vital crossroads. It can try to resist the changes everyone else is embracing, with litigation and lobbying, or it can join the rest of us. By harnessing the technology developed by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and others, the publishing industry can exponentially expand their authors' exposure and give consumers much greater access to great literary works. Google is successful because it delivers what everyone wants and needs — information. Shouldn't every publisher want to be part of that?

More on patents as access barriers

Ted Agres, Tying Up Science: Are intellectual property protections slowing progress? The Scientist, January 2006. Excerpt:
[A]s academic scientists increasingly accept industry funding and engage in commercial activities such as patenting, the concern is that biomedical research will suffer as rights holders refuse to share their materials and information. Patents, however, may not be the issue, according to two recent surveys and a new report by the National Academy of Sciences. "The problem is not patents per se," says John P. Walsh, associate professor of sociology at the University of Illinois-Chicago. "It's a combination of scientific competition, wanting to publish first, and commercial interests more broadly." Additionally, he points out, many academic scientists tend to largely ignore patents anyway. In a survey of biomedical researchers conducted in late 2004, Walsh and colleagues found that only 5% of academic bench scientists regularly check for patents on work related to their research. More often, difficulties arise when scientists ask for tangible research inputs, such as materials and data, and are rebuffed. In the survey, 19% of biomedical researchers reported their most recent request for material was denied. This is resulting in a greater number of people having to abandon projects, says Walsh...."Academia seems less affected by patenting than industry when it comes to gaining access to knowledge, perhaps because it continues to maintain the more traditional and informal channels of how it has historically shared intellectual property," says Stephen A. Hansen, project manager of the AAAS Science and Intellectual Property in the Public Interest (SIPPI) program.

Richard Roberts at Johns Hopkins on OA

Yesterday Richard Roberts --Nobel laureate and OA advocate-- gave the Sixth Annual Daniel Nathans, M.D. Lecture in Molecular Genetics at Johns Hopkins University. Karl Broman liked it:
This afternoon, I went to the best seminar of the year. Sure, it's just January 19, but I'm confident that I won't attend a better seminar this year, as it was among the best I've ever attended....Why did I enjoy the seminar so much? First, [Roberts] began with a bit of a sermon about the importance of open access journals. That if you're anywhere but Hopkins (and a few other places), it's extremely difficult to get access to the literature. He also made the important point that: wouldn't it be great if the entire scientific literature, ever, was accessible online for searching? It's easily within our power. There are so many interesting papers that are languishing in dust. If they could all be online, and if the full text were free for searching, wouldn't everything be so much better? I was completely on his side from the start.

More on the CURES Act, I think

The February 1 issue of Library Journal has a story called Open Access May Heat Up in 2006, apparently about the CURES Act. I'd like to tell you more but the link points to an empty page.

Making money distributing something for free

Some companies specialize in distributing press releases for other companies. Since press releases are always free for the recipient, how do the press-release distributors make their money? Since the companies with announcements can always post their press releases to their own web sites or email lists (and probably do), why would they pay an intermediary to do more? What value do the intermediaries add?

Here are few sensible answers from a blog posting yesterday on Outsell Now:

What these companies do is clear today: They charge companies (and non-profits) $225 and up for issuing releases. They'll deliver those releases right away, of course. It's the increasing list of value-added services that is driving the business and attempting to ward off Web 2.0 direct-distribution disintermediation, like RSS. Value-added means many things, including: [1] targeting releases within industries, to relevant analysts and journalists; [2] translating into any relevant language globally; [3] including video and multimedia; [4] tracking response and measuring impact.

Comment. I was struck by the analogy between publishing journals and distributing press releases. There are clearly similarities and differences. Without overemphasizing the similarities or oversimplifying journal publishing, I wonder how far the lessons from press-release distribution carry over to journal publishing, esp. for journals that want to offer OA to the basic full-text peer-reviewed articles and earn revenue from other layers of added value.

Dvorak on the Google Library project

John Dvorak, Much Ado over Google Book Search, PC Magazine, January 18, 2006. (Thanks to Issues in Scholarly Communication.) Excerpt:
Google is grinding through various library collections for every book it can scan, without asking for permission. I, for one, think that's great. I see that my last book, Online! The Book, is in the collection, but this doesn't bother me, because I am apparently one of the few out there who has used Google Book Search. I found it anything but a threat to book sales or anything else to do with publishing. The fuss over this book-search initiative is idiotic and naïve. It's not as if Google is printing books, or that any of these books are readable as complete editions on Google: They are not. With many of the books, whole sections are removed and unavailable. You can thumb through a few hard-to-read pages, but that's it....This is a research tool and a public resource most of all, and it is no threat to writers or publishers. It's too bad that this supposedly intellectual crowd doesn't understand this—it indicates how far down the societal pecking order they have fallen during the rise of the technological society. The sad part is that this database will actually enlarge the fortunes of the publishing industry and writers alike by improving the accessibility of lesser-known works. Joe Schmo will get due credit for his early remarks about a topic rather than simply being ripped off by other writers....Too bad writers can't see the benefits of universal access to their works. It's possible to increase sales if people actually know you exist. Apparently writers would rather live and die in obscurity than have their books scanned and available for sampling....When Google began this, I surmised that it was just another way to boost ad revenues with more page views. But now I'm guessing that if there is any mercantile angle, it's to sell the books themselves. And you can be sure that book sales would increase with this mechanism in place, a reality ignored by the protesting writers and publishers. They bank on the superstition that this will somehow hurt sales. "It's stealing!" Shades of the RIAA. In fact, I suspect that this won't even be a money-maker for Google; it's probably a loss leader. Meanwhile, Google is creating a new public resource that should be given a Nobel Peace Prize.

Stevan Harnad response to Catherine Candee

Stevan Harnad, Publishing Reform, University Self-Publishing and Open Access, Open Access Archivangelism, January 19, 2006. Excerpt:
Here is a quick summary of points of agreement and disagreement with the University of California (UC) view of Open Access (OA) and Institutional Repositories (IRs) as described by Catherine Candee (CC in her interview by Richard Poynder (RP) in Changing the paradigm [PS: excerpt blogged here on Wednesday]: (1) UC considers publication reform to be the goal, OA merely a means: I would consider OA to be the goal and publication reform merely a hypothetical possibility that might or might not follow from OA. (2) UC considers providing OA to postprints (i.e., final drafts of published journal articles) a lesser priority for IRs, I think they are the first priority. (3) UC moved away from Eprints and postprint self-archiving because of the extremely low level of spontaneous uptake by UC faculty, assuming it was because it was "too difficult." It is far more likely that the low uptake was because UC did not adopt an institutional self-archiving mandate. Those institutions that have done so have dramatically higher self-archiving rates. (4) UC instead outsourced self-archiving to an expensive service that, being a secondary publisher, needs to expend a lot of resources on following up rights problems for each published paper; the result so far is that UC's eScholarship IR is still not self-archiving more than the c. 15% worldwide self-archiving baseline for postprints. (5) The other reason UC moved away from Eprints and postprint archiving is because of its publishing reform goals, including university self-publishing (of journals and monographs). I think monographs are (for the time being) a separate matter, and should be handled separately from journal article OA, and that peer review needs to be implemented by a neutral 3rd party, not the author or the author's institution. The immediate priority is postprint OA.

DELOS report on i2010

The final report of the DELOS brainstorming meeting on the i2010 Digital Library (Nice, December 5-6, 2005) is now online.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Preventing patents from becoming access barriers

Geertrui Van Overwalle and three co-authors, Models for facilitating access to patents on genetic inventions, Nature Reviews Genetics, February 2006. Only this abstract is free online for non-subscribers, at least so far:
The genetics community is increasingly concerned that patents might lead to restricted access to research and health care. We explore various measures that are designed to render patented genetic inventions accessible to further use in research, and to diagnosis and/or treatment. They include the often-recited research or experimental-use exemption, conventional one-to-one licensing and compulsory licensing, as well as patent pools and clearing-house mechanisms. The last two alternatives deserve special attention in the area of human genetics.

More on how OA facilitates text mining

Lars Juhl Jensen, Jasmin Saric and Peer Bork, Literature mining for the biologist: from information retrieval to biological discovery, Nature Reviews Genetics, February 2006. Only this abstract is free online for non-subscribers, at least so far:
For the average biologist, hands-on literature mining currently means a keyword search in PubMed. However, methods for extracting biomedical facts from the scientific literature have improved considerably, and the associated tools will probably soon be used in many laboratories to automatically annotate and analyse the growing number of system-wide experimental data sets. Owing to the increasing body of text and the open-access policies of many journals, literature mining is also becoming useful for both hypothesis generation and biological discovery. However, the latter will require the integration of literature and high-throughput data, which should encourage close collaborations between biologists and computational linguists.

New OA repository for minority health

The Minority Health Archive (MHA) is a new OA repository for research on health and healthcare for racial minorities in the U.S. From the site:
The Minority Health an online archive of print and electronic media related to the health of the four nationally recognized racial groups (Blacks/African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders). The Minority Health Archive provides the opportunity not only to research and gather various documents in a variety of subject areas, but also a resource to deposit other related materials not already posted to the archive.

MHA is sponsored by the Center for Minority Health at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. For more details, see Alan Aldinger's story on it in the January 17 issue of the PittChronicle. Excerpt:

The MHA was publicly launched Jan. 8 at the National Leadership Summit on Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health in Washington, D.C. “Unfortunately, much of the history of minority health is recorded in federal documents, foundation reports, legislation, and organizational proceedings, which are not readily available to the general public and may be missed by academic programs training the next generation of health professionals,” said Stephen Thomas, CMH director and the Philip Hallen Professor of Community Health and Social Justice in GSPH, who will serve as executive editor of the archive. “The Minority Health Archive is our contribution to address this problem....It is the open access that represents a critical breakthrough in advancing the flow of communication and knowledge needed to advance minority health in the 21st century.”...The MHA is made possible by EPrints software, a tool for building collections of digital documents. Through its “author self-archiving” feature, the software provides an easy way for registered users to deposit a digital document in a publicly accessible Web site at no cost and in less than 10 minutes through a simple Web interface. Scholars can use this software to disseminate research results rapidly and to foster subject-specific collaborative global research communities.

Google Library violates no property rights

Defenders of Property Rights Urges Congress to Protect Innovative Google Book Search Tool, a press release from Defenders of Property Rights, January 18, 2006. Excerpt:
Nancie G. Marzulla, president of Defenders of Property Rights, today submitted a letter to members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees asserting that opponents of the Google Book Search program are seriously misrepresenting the facts about this emerging breakthrough in intellectual research. She went on to outline the technology's clear compliance with the "fair use doctrine." In her letter (see text below), Ms. Marzulla called on Congress to question critics' claims that the Google Book Search project violates copyright law, and urged the congressional committees to protect the importance transformative technologies like the Google Book Search project have on our economy's growth and development. As one of the nation's most well-respected property rights attorneys, Ms. Marzulla does not see any violations in the case of Google Book Search. "As an attorney who specializes in the constitutional protection of intellectual property rights, I am a close observer of emerging technologies which, when misused, represent a threat to property rights. Google Book Search does not represent such a threat to property rights, as it only allows users to view "snippets" of information -- not even a whole page of text," said Ms. Marzulla. She continued, "When one takes a close look at Google's new tool, one would realize that far from diminishing the value of a book, the search tool actually enhances a book's value by drawing it to the attention of readers who have a higher than average interest in buying it, having seen firsthand how the book contains information relevant to their inquiry," said Ms. Marzulla.

JISC Digital Repositories wiki

The JISC Digital Repositories Programme has launched a wiki. Contributions are limited to approved, registered users, but the text is OA for reading and includes news of interest to all who work with OA repositories.

The difference that access makes

R. Kent-Drury, Database Access, January 18, 2006. A listserv posting to SHARP-L (Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing list). (Thanks to Issues in Scholarly Communication.) Excerpt:
As a faculty member at a mid-sized, underfunded public university, I certainly appreciate the suggestions for gaining access to materials through alternative means. After seven years spent attempting to get access to a number of databases I'd only seen advertised because my university couldn't afford hundreds of thousands of dollars in access fees, I was lucky enough to spend 5 weeks last summer participating in an NEH seminar at Brown. I was astonished to discover that in only a few weeks with access to databases my institution can't afford, I could complete research that would have taken me months or even years to accomplish through travel and interlibrary loan. What amazed me was not only the exponentially greater access I had at Brown, but also the sheer acceleration of the research process available to those at more generously funded institutions. Until I visited Brown, I (perhaps naively) didn't realize what a difference access makes and how much the gap had widened since I completed my graduate program.

OA is not just about saving money

Klaus Graf, Open Access nicht nur aus Kostengründen, Archivalia, January 19, 2006. Seven reasons to support OA other than saving money (in German).

PubChem grows again

OA first, preservation second

Stevan Harnad, Institutional Repositories and Research Priorities, Open Access Archivangelism, January 19, 2006. Excerpt:
[T]he fact that OA and OAI were the source of IRs might just have something to do with what IRs should be used for (as a matter of first and urgent priority). It is not that storing and preserving every digitised object under the sun is not a good idea. It is just a question of priorities. For universities and research institutions, the immediate priority is this: Scholarly and scientific research usage and impact have been needlessly lost, cumulatively, since paper publication first began, because paper costs and distribution necessarily meant that many would-be users could not afford to access and use most research output. This has always meant a great loss of potential research impact and hence research progress to researchers, their institutions, and to research itself. Ever since the creation of the Internet, however, with FTP, the Web, and now OAI-compliant OA IR software and IRs, this annual research-impact bleed can in fact be stanched. Yet the bleed is still being stanched spontaneously for only about 15% of the planet's annual research output today; 85% of it is still being lost, daily, and cumulatively. This continuing bleed is hence a needless loss to the planet's research institutions, the primary consumers of research findings, whose daily bread (pardon the messy, mixed metaphor!) is research impact and progress (and funding), as well as to the planet's teaching/learning institutions, the secondary consumers of research knowledge and progess, and of course each nation's tax-payers, the tertiary consumers of research applications and benefits, who also happen to be the funders of much of the research....Let us stanch the bleeding immediately, as a matter of priority, and then get on with the generic digital preservation agenda.

Review of Willinsky

Alec Magnet, Libraries vs. The Internet, The New York Sun, January 19, 2006. A book review of John Willinsky's The Access Principle. Only these opening words are free online for non-subscribers:
John Willinsky's new book begins - quite effectively - by describing how rising prices and a fluctuating currency have forced the Kenya Medical Research Institute to cancel most of its subscriptions to medical journals. The true shame, the institute's librarian told Mr. Willinsky, is that that the five titles the library could still afford did not include any leading journals on the institute's prime research focus, tropical diseases. Libraries, publishers, and the contributors to the journals, Mr. Willinsky argues in "The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship" (MIT Press, 287 pages, $35), are at the center of a global economic struggle that may determine the influence of scholarship on the world. Access to research and scholarship is in decline, as for-profit publishers drive up the cost of scholarly journals, forcing libraries to decimate their subscription lists.
(PS: I'll post a more salient excerpt if I can gain access to the full text.)

Update. I've now seen the full text. Excerpt:

Mr. Willinsky cites a study showing that Reed Elsevier, the largest publisher of academic journals (with 1,800 titles in its portfolio), cost the University of California half its budget for online publications in 2002, though its titles accounted for only a quarter of journal use....The problem, Mr. Willinsky argues, is that these corporations have figured out a way to increase their profits even as their journals' circulation declines, by "bundling" less popular titles with those that libraries cannot afford to cancel....Mr. Willinsky contrasts these market mechanisms with what he claims is a basic human right - the "right to know" - a right that "stands with other basic rights, whether to life, liberty, justice, or respect." He attempts to defend that right as a philosophical truth (relying on such strange bedfellows as Kant, Derrida, and political scientist Richard Pierre Claude). In this, he fails, as nontheistic arguments for the absolute existence of rights so often do....He is on much firmer ground in his argument that scholarship - often funded in large part by public money and conducted at nonprofit institutions whose purpose is to further public knowledge - should be publicly available. "With so much scholarly activity funded by public money," he writes, "it is only natural to ask whether there is now a way to distribute the resulting research in ways that make it open and available, as a global public good." There is: The Internet, which eliminates the cost of printing, binding, and shipping journals, allows as many readers to view a work as can find their way to a computer. Many can't, Mr. Willinsky acknowledges, but why wait until the technology gap is closed to start providing the information to which the Internet can grant access? The subtitle to this book is somewhat misleading, as "The Case for Open Access" takes up only a portion of the book....[H]is book is thoughtful, informed, and thought-provoking, and his account of the role of the Internet and an incipient open-access movement is genuine news.

Royal Library of Sweden signs Berlin Declaration

The Royal Library of Sweden (National Library of Sweden) has signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Acces to Knowledge.

Update. Here's the Royal Library press release, in Swedish (January 23, 2006).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

More on OA textbooks

Russell McOrmond, Moving to real solutions to textbook cash-saving, Digital Copyright Canada, January 18, 2006. A letter to the editor of Metro Toronto in response an article by Adam Gonshor on Access Copyright. Excerpt:
Access Copyright has been lobbying hard to oppose the best solution to the problem of textbook pricing and potentially illegal copying of textbooks. Access Copyright is an administrative body for a largely outdated business model, namely the collecting of royalties for any copying of literary works. While this model made sense in the past when copying was more expensive, with photocopiers and the Internet there are far better solutions. There is a movement in many circles, including academia, towards something called "Open Access". With this model you resource the development of the material once, often in collaboration with many institutions, and then allow all the potential audiences to freely copy the material without additional per-copy fees. This model is being adopted by a growing number of journals, and textbooks are a very logical area to move into....Access Copyright, seeing the threats to their antiquated way of doing business, has been very busy in lobbying the government to make modern alternatives either impossible or impractical. They are attacking the Internet where many authors are intending their materials to be redistributed royalty-free, with Access Copyright trying to claim the right to collect royalties from any use of material on the Internet.

A P2P business model combining profit and free sharing

Marc A. Donis, A Free Market Model for P2P Content Distribution with Simulation: How to Preserve the Profit Motive While Promoting the Free and Fair Exchange of Content, a preprint.
Abstract: A free-market model is proposed which follows the current file-sharing trend to its logical conclusion. This model both preserves profits for the content publishing industry and, paradoxically, serves to reinforce the standard business model. This is accomplished by dispensing entirely with the notion of intellectual property rights and allowing the price of content to be determined naturally by market dynamics. All users of content have equal rights to distribute the content, and to profit from distribution. It is shown that this situation creates healthy profit for the content creator, with asymptotically diminishing returns for distributors on progressively lower rungs of the distribution network. At the bottom of the distribution network are the end users, who necessarily pay a fair price for content. This process is illustrated by way of a computer simulation.

(PS: The primary example in the article is music, but Donis argues that the concept applies just as well to "scientific research results, and other kinds of data.")

OA to weather satellite data

A geostationary satellite from the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will offer OA to its stream of environmental data. The satellite has just been repositioned to improve its weather forecasting coverage of South America. For more details, see today's press release.

DSpace Federation Governance Advisory Board

Enlarged French intro to OA

Kumar Guha has updated the extensive introduction to OA (in French) from the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées.

New OA media service for European research

AlphaGalileo ("the world's leading resource for European research news") is launching Communiqué, an OA media service to improve the worldwide press coverage of European research. For more details, see the roadmap for the new service, which is still open to user comments.

Comment. While Communiqué will itself be OA, nothing in the roadmap suggests that it will push for OA to the primary literature and data themselves. But nothing in the roadmap rules that out either. European scientists may want to send comments to AlphaGalileo pointing out that OA to research would advance all the goals of the new service, including the press coverage of the same research. For a good example of how OA to research helps science journalists, not just scientists, see yesterday's blog posting on Steve Jones' story in the Telegraph.

Digital progress varies among national libraries of EU new member states

The TEL-ME-MORE project (The European Library Modular Extensions for Mediating Online Resources) has released a study of the digitization projects and research at the national libraries of the EU's new member states. Excerpt from yesterday's press release:
The vision is a shared European heritage network. The aim of the European Commission Information Society Technologies Programme is to ensure better access to resources by fostering European partnerships and increasing the participation of new member states in EU research activities. A recent survey of new member states under TEL-ME-MOR looked at how well the new member states national libraries are achieving or can achieve this goal....The survey revealed what makes it difficult or impossible for National Libraries to be actively involved in research and development programmes. The issues range from intellectual, financial and organisational to the management experience of digitised and born-digital content, the size of digital collections, application and adoption of international standards and technological infrastructure. The result is that only 4 of the 10 libraries surveyed had significant amounts of digitised content....National libraries have a huge role to play in the preservation and accessibility of our cultural heritage. They are often the custodians of legal deposit and the national cultural heritage. To fulfil their role in the vision of a shared European heritage the survey concludes that libraries should find a more prominent role in their national R&D programmes; that more resources need to be digitised and new funding models uncovered and that more effective systems for the management of research need to be put in place. The European Commission should help create the conditions needed for international collaborative networks and sharing knowledge and expertise....The report of the “Questionnaire for Analysis of Research Activities and Needs of National Libraries of the New EU Member States” can be downloaded here.

Huge, growing OA medical textbook

The Cleveland Clinic is writing a gigantic OA medical textbook. With more than 150 chapters on 13 disease areas (e.g. cardiology, neurology, women's health), it's pushing the boundary between a textbook and an encyclopedia. (Thanks to Notes from Dr. R.W.)

Richard Poynder interviews Catherine Candee

Richard Poynder, Changing the paradigm, Open and Shut, January 18, 2006. An interview with Catherine Candee, director of publishing and strategic initiatives in the Office of Scholarly Communication at the University of California (UC). My excerpt is long but the full interview is much longer and covers many other highly relevant topics. Read the whole thing if you can. Excerpt:

RP: Your job grew out of the so-called scholarly publishing crisis did it?

CC: Very much so. We faced a situation in which spiralling serials costs were literally killing the University of California. Today we spend about $27 million a year on licensed content. However, while my job certainly grew out of the scholarly publishing crisis it was also a response to the development of new technologies.

RP: You mean in the sense that the Web has allowed the University to respond to the scholarly publishing crisis in ways that would not otherwise have been possible?

CC: Exactly. In 2000, for example, we launched the eScholarship program, which was created to exploit technologies that can help us reduce the cost of scholarly materials, especially journals....The journal pricing issue drove us in the library to seek new solutions; but it wasn’t journal pricing that drove faculty to try new things. In the end, therefore, the eScholarship Repository grew out of the opportunistic use of new technology by faculty, and the decision by UC library to establish new ways of helping faculty....

RP: Certainly most agree that an important role of an institutional repository is to allow a university to make its peer-reviewed papers freely available on the Web, and thus "open access". As it happens, UC is being very proactive in this regard. It has, for instance, introduced a metadata harvesting program designed to track down papers published by faculty, and it then asks the authors to deposit postprints of those papers in the eScholarship repository. How does the program work?

CC: What we are doing is harvesting citations. We then send them to faculty members saying that the listed works may be eligible for inclusion in the eScholarship repository. It is a way to alert them to the repository, and to the fact that they have content that could be placed in it.

RP: How do they then deposit the postprint?

CC: The message sent to faculty is clickable, and when they click on the link it brings them directly into the repository, where the citation data for the paper automatically fills out the repository metadata fields for them. This, by the way, is the one case where we allow authors to put their content in directly themselves. However, we also allow them to use a proxy — so they can legally assign someone else to put their papers in for them. The aim is to make the process as easy as possible, because time is the biggest constraint when it comes to getting faculty to participate.

RP: And you have contracted bepress to do rights clearance on the papers?

CC: Right. After the papers are submitted we pay bepress to check the rights on them. That was a concession to the fact that bepress' business would be threatened if they got sued for allowing something illegal to be put into the repository. This part of the process is both onerous and expensive, and we hope we will not need to do it at some point in the future....

RP: When you ask faculty for a postprint is it a request or a demand?

CC: It is not a demand. Clearly, incentive is the single biggest issue for getting content in. Awareness is another issue, so we are just starting some market research to discover what percentage of UC faculty even know about the repository. I suspect it is less than half.

RP: So you still have work to do in publicising the repository?

CC: We do. While we are very excited that we have more than 200 departments participating in the repository we have no idea what percentage of the faculty know about it; and we have no idea what percentage would participate if they did know — because there is no overriding incentive for them to do so today. We need to understand the situation....

RP: What is the likely timing for a decision [on the recent white papers proposing various OA-related policies for the U of California]?

CC: As I understand it, the aim is to get things passed and through the system before next fall.

RP: If it does go ahead would you envisage a postprint mandate following behind it?

CC: Yes.

More on The Institutional Repository

JISC has issued a press release on the new book by Richard Jones, Theo Andrew, and John MacColl, The Institutional Repository (Chandos, 2006). Excerpt:
Institutional repositories have the potential to store and make available scientific data, teaching materials, as well as published papers, and much more. Their great advantage is that they allow the free sharing of information and increase the visibility and impact of UK education and research. “Repositories are simply databases,” write the authors of The Institutional Repository, “[but] what distinguishes institutional repositories is the idea that an internal database can serve more than an administrative purpose, and can constitute a building block in a distributed international service.” Looking at the history of the concept of institutional repositories, as well as their technical, administrative, cultural and legal aspects, the book also offers practical insights, including an extended case study, into the issues surrounding the setting up of an institutional repository. Co-author John MacColl said: “What we wanted to do with this book was to establish the claim of institutional repositories to be an important new player in the field of academic information management and publishing.”...JISC Repositories programme manager Neil Jacobs welcomed the publication of the book, saying: “Repositories are becoming established in a number of institutions, both in the UK and around the world. But their continued development depends a great deal on our continuing to overcome cultural barriers to their acceptance and use. National organisations such as JISC can support their growth, but researchers, lecturers and practitioners within institutions need most of all to become convinced of their value and their immense potential. This book addresses these issues directly and will, I’m sure, help inform the debate and guide many through the complex issues surrounding the development of institutional repositories.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

SPARC and Science Commons collaborating on improved Author Addendum

SPARC and Science Commons are working together to enhance SPARC's Author Addendum. From today's announcement:
The SPARC Author Addendum allows authors to retain critical rights, including the right of authors to post articles in online repositories. Science Commons is creating a machine-readable version of the SPARC Author Addendum that can be read by Internet search engines, as well as a text version that functions as a legal tool. The enhanced SPARC Author Addendum will be made available on the SPARC web site once the project is completed in early spring. The effort represents a continuation of Science Commons’ effort to promote access and voluntary sharing in scientific publications. This cooperation advances three goals shared by SPARC and Science Commons: to support authors’ right to distribute scholarship over the Internet, to promote access and reuse of the scientific literature, and to facilitate author self-archiving.

“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill encourages authors to use the SPARC Author Addendum, and it fulfills a pressing need that all researchers and scholars have,” said Sarah Michalak, University Librarian and Associate Provost for University Libraries. “Having an electronic version at our fingertips will make it even easier for authors to do what it takes to maintain critical rights. The enhanced SPARC Author Addendum empowers researchers and authors to advocate for themselves in their relationship with their publisher, and it has the potential to revolutionize the scholarly communication system.”

”Creative Commons licenses are in use throughout the Open Access Literature movement because publishers across the spectrum have recognized the value of standard licensing to allow reuse and sharing of the scientific canon. By creating a machine-readable version of the SPARC Author Addendum, Science Commons will make it easier for scientists to utilize their rights to share their own work using web publishing software and search engines,” said John Wilbanks, Executive Director of Science Commons.

“Copyright and licensing is the next frontier for authors who seek broad, deep exposure of their work,” said Heather Joseph, SPARC Director. “Analysis of data clearly shows that research available free on the Web reaches a far greater number of people than for-fee research. In this Internet age, with the global exchange of information more important than ever, there is no reason authors must be limited by restrictive publishing agreements. The SPARC Author Addendum is a tool that allows authors the freedom to re-use their work in whatever forum is most appropriate. Science Commons will create a way for them to do this quickly, easily, and in a manner that is legally binding.”

Open and Closed medical resources

Dean Giustini, Open Medicine v. Subscriptin Only ("Locked Down") Evidence Based Content on the Web, January 17, 2006. A helpful table of a few dozen resources in evidence-based medicine with (1) links to their home pages, (2) an indication whether they are Open or Locked, (3) their type (e.g. current awareness, database of primary research, portal, toolbox), and (4) some of their notable features.

OA helps journalists too

Steve Jones, View from the lab, The Telegraph, January 17, 2006. Excerpt:
Science journalists...have an infinite supply of subjects, renewed every day. What topic, from that torrent of information, should their piece be about? A glance at this week's newspapers and popular science magazines shows just how wide a range there is: global warming killing off frogs, new methods for generating stem cells, plants that make methane, and what space dust might tell us about the origin of the Universe. Those stories are interesting, varied and up-to-date; but they all share a hidden thread that links - or entangles - everyone who writes about science, for each of them first appeared in Nature....Nobody denies that Nature is a great journal, but why limit yourself to a single source? No writer on politics, or finance, or sport would dream of that....The problem with digging out less-publicised stories about science is the inaccessibility of the basic information. Most technical publications are expensive and, without a university library, hard to find. Now things have changed. The Web is opening up lots of once hidden gateways into the labyrinth of science, many of which do not charge an entrance fee....Type in the four letters PLOS - the Public Library of Science - and you reach a site that makes the latest research freely available to all. This month's issue has a piece on the rapid evolution of a gene in men compared with chimps that renders us susceptible to mind-altering drugs, as a hint that brain activity is what makes us human (a refreshing contrast to other new work hinting that the contents of the scrotum evolve more rapidly than those of the skull) and another on the dangers of minute amounts of lead or chlorine in the environment. Other organisations are almost as generous. Stanford University's online HighWire Press has a million free articles available, with access to almost a hundred current publications (there must be something for the hopeful author in the Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, or Textile Research). PubMed Central does the same for the latest news in medicine, while that American heavyweight the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (universally referred to as PNAS) also puts out free electronic versions of some of its own papers. The "Google Scholar" search engine has opened up another great gap in the financial wall around new scientific information. Plenty of researchers now put their papers online as soon as they appear in print, allowing the nosy to read the results without stumping up the journal's entrance ticket. Type in a topic you want to chase and you may find yourself in all kinds of unexpected (and once exclusive) places.

Comment. OA for scientists is also OA for journalists and the public. Some publishers have criticized the campaign for OA to research literature on the ground that unfiltered journal articles are unintelligible to the public. But this objection misunderstands the primary audience of the OA primary literature --other researchers-- and the best way to bring about filtered versions intelligible to lay readers. OA to primary literature is compatible with lay versions and even stimulates their existence.

Motivating deposit in repositories

The JISC-funded Rights and Rewards Project has released the results of a survey of UK teachers and scholars who might deposit work in OA repositories. The survey asked about the rights that depositors would like protected and the rewards that would encourage them to deposit. The questions focus more on teaching-related deposits than research-related deposits.

Three new OA journals from Hindawi

Hindawi Publishing has announced three new OA journals. From today's announcement:
"Hindawi Publishing Corporation" is pleased to announce that it has recently added three new titles to its open access journal collection. [1] Bioinorganic Chemistry and Applications (BCA) has been published as a subscription based journal since 2003, and it has already been accepted for inclusion in the Science Citation Index Expanded. It is edited by Professor Nick Hadjiliatis of the University of Ioannina, Greece....[2] The International Journal of Photoenergy (IJP) has been published as a subscription-based journal since 1999, and it currently has an Impact Factor of .877. It is edited by Professor Sabry Abdel-Mottaleb of Ain Shams University, Egypt....[3] The International Journal of Image and Video Processing (IJIVP) is a new journal that has been launched as an open access title. It is edited by Professor Jean-Luc Dugelay from the Institut EURECOM in France....These journals shall have online editions, which are free with no subscription or registration barriers, and print editions which shall be priced at a level reasonable for covering the printing cost. All articles published in these three journals shall be distributed under the "Creative Commons Attribution License," which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. These new additions bring the number of open access journals published by Hindawi to fifteen. In addition, Hindawi will be announcing a number of additional open access journals over the next few months.

SPARC Europe Award for Scholarly Communications

SPARC Europe has announced the SPARC Europe Award for Outstanding Achievements in Scholarly Communications. From today's announcement:
SPARC Europe (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), a leading organization of European research libraries, today announced the inauguration of the SPARC Europe Award for Outstanding Achievements in Scholarly Communications. The new annual Award will be presented to an individual or group within Europe that has made significant advances in our understanding of the issues surrounding scholarly communications and/or in developing practical means to address the problems with the current systems. The judging panel, formed from members of the SPARC Europe Board of Directors, has issued a call for nominations for the Award. Nominations are open to all who have made major contributions in the field of scholarly communications, and the judging panel particularly wishes to receive nominations of individuals of groups working in any of the following areas: [1] Research that helps illuminate the scholarly communications landscape, [2] Advocacy for new models of scholarly communications, [3] Development of new tools to aid scholarly communication (e.g. repository software), [4] Interesting new projects or products, [5] Implementation of policies that promote new scholarly communication models. Nominations (together with a short outline of the nominee’s work) should be sent to David Prosser, Director of SPARC Europe no later than 10th February 2006. The Award will be present at the Third Nordic Conference on Scholarly Communication, to be held at Lund, Sweden 24 - 25 April 2006.

January issue of D-Lib Magazine

The January issue of D-Lib Magazine is now online. Here are the OA-related articles.
  • Steve Bailey, UKWAC: Building the UK's First Public Web Archive. Abstract: "This article discusses the UK Web Archiving Consortium project, outlining the project to date as well as sharing initial lessons learned by the Consortium Partners."
  • Julie Linden, Don't Leave the Data in the Dark: Issues in Digitizing Print Statistical Publications. Abstract: "Digitization has the potential to transform scholarly use of data found in print statistical publications. While presenting images of statistical tables in a digital library environment may be desirable, the full potential of such material can be realized only if the resulting digital objects are easy to search and manipulate and are accompanied by sufficient metadata to support extraction of numbers from tables and comparison of numbers across tables. The Economic Growth Center Digital Library (EGCDL), funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, addressed these issues in a project that brought together the perspectives of digital libraries and data archives. In EGCDL, PDF reproductions of statistical abstracts co-exist with manipulable Excel files of tables from the abstracts. Rich descriptive metadata can be leveraged to provide discovery of and context for digital objects at varying levels of granularity – from a statistical series to a single number in a table cell. Thus derivative digital objects – the manipulable table or even a cell from it – can be traced back to the original source or a faithful digital reproduction of that source."

New partners for Quaero include some friends of OA

Among the new partners for Quaero, the European "Google-killer" search engine, are some not known for their OA-friendliness, like Bertelsmann, France Télécom, Deutsche Telekom and Bertin Technologies, but also some on the record for supporting OA, like CNRS and INRIA. This won't matter unless Quaero, like Google, goes beyond indexing online information to digitizing print literature.

The Quaero web site is still closed while under construction.

More on Chmoogle

Tara Calishain reviews Chmoogle (the search engine for chemistry) in today's issue of ResearchBuzz.

More on long-term access to data

The presentations from the DCC conference on Ensuring Long-term Preservation and Adding Value to Scientific and Technical data (Edinburgh, November 21-23, 2005), are now online. See especially the three following:
  • Jens Klump and eight co-authors, Data centres and their role in publication and access to data. Abstract: "In 2003 the ‘Berlin Declaration’ was published as a guideline to policy makers to promote the Internet as a functional instrument for a global scientific knowledge base. Since knowledge is derived from data, the principles of the ‘Berlin Declaration’ should similarly apply to data. However, access to scientific data is hampered, in part, by structural deficits in the publication process. Thus, applying the ‘Berlin Declaration’ to data requires a publication system for data that goes beyond what is in place for ‘traditional’ media. The criteria of accessibility, persistent identification and long-term availability need to be met in order to comply with the declaration. The project ‘Publication and citation of scientific primary data’ has shown prototypically how these criteria can be met and soon a publication system for scientific data will be available to the scientific community. In the structure set up within the project, data centres act as registration agents encompassing all functions necessary for the publication of scientific data, pointing towards a new role for data centres in addition to their current archiving mandate."
  • Jeroen Bekaert and Herbert Van de Sompel, Access Interfaces for Open Archival Information Systems based on the OAI-PMH and the OpenURL Framework for Context-Sensitive Services. Abstract: "In recent years, a variety of digital repository and archival systems have been developed and adopted. All of these systems aim at hosting a variety of compound digital assets and at providing tools for storing, managing and accessing those assets. This paper will focus on the definition of common and standardized access interfaces that could be deployed across such diverse digital respository and archival systems. The proposed interfaces are based on the two formal specifications that have recently emerged from the Digital Library community: The Open Archive Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) and the NISO OpenURL Framework for Context-Sensitive Services (OpenURL Standard). As will be described, the former allows for the retrieval of batches of XML-based representations of digital assets, while the latter facilitates the retrieval of disseminations of a specific digital asset or of one or more of its constituents. The core properties of the proposed interfaces are explained in terms of the Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS)."
  • Jessie Hey, Steve Hitchcock, Leslie Carr, and Tim Brody, Preservation for Institutional Repositories: practical and invisible. Abstract: "With good prospects for growth in IR contents, in the UK due to the proposed RCUK policy on mandating deposit of papers on funded work, and internationally due to the Berlin 3 recommendation, it is timely to investigate preservation solutions for IRs. The paper takes a broad view of preservation issues for IRs - based on practice, experience and visions for the future - from the perspective of Preserv, a JISC-funded project. It considers preservation in the context of IRs. Based on the OAIS preservation model, an architecture is proposed to support distributed preservation services for IRs. Work performed so far involves adapting the IR user deposit interface in a pilot version of EPrints software for building IRs, and determining accurate file format information using PRONOM software. The paper looks ahead briefly at the role of preservation service providers, working for the IR, within this architecture. The strategy is to take practical steps that are, as far as possible, invisible to all but those concerned with the preservation process for IRs."

New OA repository for Dutch LIS research

DARLIN (Dutch ARchive for Library and INformation sciences) is a new OA repository for Dutch publications in library and information science and will launch its own OA journal on LIS topics later this year. DARLIN is part of the SURF-funded DARE (Digital Academic Repositories) program. For more details, see the January 11 announcement.

IDRC adopts OA policy

IDRC Champions Intellectual Platform for Developing Countries, a press release from Canada's International Development Research Centre, December 23, 2005. (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.) Excerpt:
Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is pleased to announce plans to create an Open Archive, the first among Canadian research funding organizations. The Open Archive will provide full access over the Internet to IDRC’s rich research archive. In addition to making information more freely available, this initiative will provide IDRC-funded researchers with a much-needed outlet to publish and showcase their work. The world of scholarly communications is rapidly changing. The emerging culture of protecting intellectual property, soaring costs of accessing research literature, and difficulties in having research published in traditional journals are restricting the development of research capacity in the South. The Open Archive will help Southern researchers to engage in the international dialogue on important development issues and increase the impact of their research. Throughout its 35-year history, IDRC has believed that to bring about positive change in people's lives, knowledge should be shared. Research results and documents generated by IDRC-supported projects, IDRC recipients, and IDRC staff represent a tangible intellectual output of the Centre’s mandate. The Open Archive will streamline and centralize the capture of IDRC project outputs and research documents. It will raise the visibility and facilitate the retrieval of the vast array of IDRC materials by consolidating them in a well-managed, indexed, secure, and permanent location. As a first step, IDRC will build a demonstration model in early 2006. By creating an Open Archive, IDRC promotes transparency of its results-based research and participates in the global movement to remove barriers — economic, social, and geographic — to the sharing of knowledge.

(PS: Kudos to the IDRC for setting up an OA repository and encouraging its use by grantees. I can't tell whether the IDRC is taking the additional step of mandating deposit for all IDRC-funded research. If anyone could shed light on that, I'd appreciate it.)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Updating GPL

Andy Oram gives us a good overview of version 3 of the GNU General Public License, now being hammered out in a meeting sponsored by the Free Software Foundation.

First OA articles from Blackwell's Online Open

Blackwell has announced the first OA articles under its Online Open program, which it launched in February 2005. The announcement lists five OA articles from four journals, as well as the 79 Blackwell journals participating in Online Open.

OA to data, TA to articles

Open-source and free-reuse without open-access. This is the new stub of an article posted to Copyright (the journal). The topic seems to be the contrast between OA to data and lack of OA to articles, but the exact topic should come into sharper focus as the article grows.

If you remember, one of the innovations of Copyright is that it allows authors to start wiki-based articles hosted by the journal and open to contributions from anyone. When the articles are finished, the journal will subject them to peer review and consider them for publication, but does not promise to publish them. If it publishes a wiki-gestated article, it will list as authors all who made a "significant contribution" and who provided their real name and institutional affiliation. For an example of an OA-related article close to the end of the gestation process, see Open Access and Reputation, whose significant contributors (so far) are Jim Till and Ari Friedman.

Lessig on CC licenses

John Sutherland interviews Lawrence Lessig on Creative Commons licenses in today's issue of The Guardian. Excerpt:
[D]oes Lessig really think [through CC licenses] can "tame" the internet by controlling the rustlers of intellectual property?
"Well," he replies, "that's not really our objective. What Creative Commons sets out to do is to make it easier for artists and authors to mark their content with the permission they intend it to carry and to invite people to use that work consistent with the freedoms given and the rights reserved."...
Where, then, does Creative Commons stand on the question of public domain - that vast archive of material communally owned by the people?
"Creative Commons content is not technically in the public domain because it's all copyrighted content that's licenced. But it is effectively, at least for some uses, in the public domain. A creator, or a teacher, or a student who wants access to content doesn't have to worry about being a law violator just because they want to access, or use, or distribute remixed content. And the critical thing is that we do this by getting agreement from the creators."

New medical search engine

Hippocrates is a new, free medical search engine specializing in deep-web content intelligible to lay readers. For more details, see this story about it from today's issue of The Hindu.

Profile of George Porter

Heather Morrison, George Porter, and the OA Slam Dunk, OA Librarian, January 15, 2005. Another in Heather's series on librarian-warriors for OA. This installment is especially welcome as George is a valued contributor to Open Access News. Excerpt:
Caltech Library System's George Porter is well-known to many of us through his work as one of the Open Access News blog team, since May 2004. George also frequently posts news about new OA journals to ERIL-L and the SPARC Open Access Forum. I'm very glad he does, too - it was partly because of these announcements that I realized just how much growth there has been in open access....As an OA advocate, naturally George self-archives his work in Caltech Library System's institutional repository. One interesting recent piece of work is George's PNAS, Open Access & Levels of Interest. George's data suggest a correlation between willingness to pay processing fee charges and the author's perception of the importance of the work - for example, authors of cover stories seem more inclined to be willing to pay processing fees. In November 2004, I had the pleasure of attending George's presentation An Open Access Bestiary - a wonderful introduction to open access, which explains the many flavors - so much more than just green and gold! of open access, in a very delightful manner. Speaking of George's delightful manner, this is something that comes across in some of his otherwise very informative postings, too. Following is one of my favorites - a message to the SPARC Open Access Forum, among others lists, Tracking down dissertations:
A student came by the reference desk this morning. He was inquiring about the procedure for getting a dissertation from another institution. I showed him the online ILL thesis request form, but then probed a bit further. He needed a fairly recent dissertation from Georgia Tech. My first impulse was to go to the Georgia Tech library website, using Libweb. Fortunately (not at all obvious from the GT Library main page that they have ETDs), my desire to show off our local electronic dissertation (ETD) commitment led me to try that route. (Yes, a simple author name search in the catalog search box at Georgia Tech pulls up the dissertation.) I used the NDLTD link from the Caltech's ETD website to delve into participating institutions, which quickly led to Georgia Tech's site. Slam dunk. The dissertation popped up in an instant. Downloaded the PDF to his USB thumb drive. Happy student. No $ spent and the library saved him a ton of time! Ah, the virtues of Open Access resources.
George's slam dunk did more than help the one student. It was George's open sharing of his experience that helped me to see that open access is already more than just a philosophical ideal; it is a substantial, and rapidly growing, set of resources that we librarians need to learn about, in order to provide our patrons with the best services we can.

More on the Royal Society's position on OA

Mark Chillingworth, Royal Society warns of OA’s ‘disastrous consequences’, Information World Review, January 16, 2006. Excerpt:
Scientific association, the Royal Society, is embroiled in controversy after it threw its backing behind commercial publishers and warned authors that open access will damage science. Last month, a fierce debate developed on related list-servs and an open letter from 41 of its members demanded that the Royal Society withdraw its statement. “Funders may be forcing scientific researchers to change the way they publish scientific papers so quickly that disastrous consequences could result,” the Royal Society states in its position statement on the Research Councils UK (RCUK) proposal that papers arising from publicly funded research should be placed in open access institutional repositories (IRs). The eight research councils which make up the RCUK hope to have a final position statement by the end of January, which the Department of Trade and Industry will ratify....Fellows of the Society have reacted angrily with an open letter to Lord Martin Rees, president of the society, expressing their “disappointment” and accusing the society of trying to delay the implementation of the RCUK policy. This is the latest battle over RCUK policy, over the summer ALPSP and the RCUK clashed (full story here). “The Royal Society appears to be putting the concerns of existing publishers ahead of the needs of science,” the letter states.

Comment. The open letter from Fellows of the Royal Society in support of OA and the draft RCUK policy now contains 64 signatures, including six Nobel laureates. For links to the chief documents in this controversy, see my SOAN coverage from December and January.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

More on library support for OA

Makeover For The Academic Library, ACRLog, January 9, 2006. Six suggestions on what libraries can learn from newspapers about responding to disruptive technologies. I'm less interested in the blog posting itself than in these two comments on it:

Excerpt from David Lewis:

First we need to be clear, we are not just competing against Google. We are competing against the web. We also need to be clear in which realm we are competing. We are competing to proide content. Library’s models for providing content — purchased collections — will not win this battle. And they shouldn’t. Open access and all of our efforts at creating digital collections will and should win this battle....What libraries need to do is to find services and products that are themselves disruptive and use the strategies [Clayton] Christensen suggests to deploy them. I would suggest two areas where this is possible. First, as suggested above, open access and repositories have the potential to disrupt traditional scholarly publishing. Libraries can be one of the agents for this disruption and we should push in this area. Free access to large digital collections also have the potential to be disruptive and they should also be agressively pursued.

Excerpt from Barbara Fister:

Yay, people can find their own information without calling the library. That’s not competition, that’s success. Think how successful we are becoming at letting people get it themselves as open access takes off. Aren’t we trying to make some of this information available through other channels? If we really bought into competition, we’d either try to take over those channels or shut them down. In fact, we’re doing the opposite. Information to the people!

New OA journal on epidemiology

Epidemiologic Inquiry is a new OA journal organized as a blog. From the about page:
In a world with ever increasing pace of scientific investigations, important research findings are often disseminated too slowly through the general scientific community-- slowly as in weeks or months, instead of hours and days. Furthermore, methodologic controversies are usually discussed via word of mouth soon after the publication, and written responses to journals often appear months after publication -- too slow to engage readers, too long of a lag to maintain relevance, and too long a period of time for potentially flawed study results to propagate uninhibited. Finally, outstanding investigations are too often under- or unrecognized in epidemiology and medicine....All submitted material become open-access, although the author retains copyright of the material. We remain independent to avoid all article processing and access charges. The Journal is supported by time donated by the editorial board. Publicity support and donations are both welcome and appreciated. Advertisers of relevant job postings are welcome to contact the Journal.
The FAQ explains why EI is a journal, not "just a blog"; when articles are refereed by the editorial board alone and when by external reviewers; and why the editorial board has decided to remain anonymous.

Lesson from online video

Michael Meiser's conclusion to an analysis of online video:
[W]hen you do business on the open web interoperability always wins. This is an open access information economy and those that don't do business on the open web with interoperable non-proprietary platforms ultimately lock themselves out.

The case for wikis in medical research

Peter Frishauf, Are Traditional Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles Obsolete? A Pitch for the Wikipedia Concept, Medscape, January 6, 2006. A short text accompanied by a video of Frishauf. (Thanks to Dean Giustini.)
We depend on peer-reviewed articles in print and online. But is this method obsolete? And is there a better way? Traditional medical articles are often outdated before publication. Consider HIV, SARs, avian flu -- even hormone replacement therapy. They're not comprehensive: For any topic, we have to read dozens of articles to be informed. And bias is always present, regardless of peer review. Enter Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia created by Wales and Sanger in 2001.[1] With just 1 full-time employee, Wikipedia has more Web readers than The New York Times. It already displays about 800,000 articles, growing by some 50,000 articles a month, in many languages. Based on a radical new model of publishing, on Wikipedia nearly anyone with a Web connection can start or edit an article. Contributors must agree to write in neutral point of view (NPV). Opinion is fair game for deletion by the first Wikipedian who reads it -- typically within 30 seconds of publication. There are simple, yet sophisticated quality controls. Copyrighted material plagiarized from other Web sites is automatically detected and deleted. But the best quality control is that any reader who finds an article with an error or omission can correct it on the spot. Amazing! For readers, Wikipedia is a win. In traditional publishing, readers must wade through many articles on a subject, each written by a few experts, published at 1 moment in time. In Wikipedia you read 1 living article written by many, continually updated by many. Who needs 50 articles on avian flu when 1 will do? And Wikipedia content is often the best on the Web, which means the best anywhere. For writers, Wikipedia offers neither authorship, recognition, reward, nor punishment. Articles aren't indexed, but with Google and Yahoo!, who needs it? The motivation for writing is love of information and a desire to share it. I say a variant of Wikipedia for medicine is the future -- and it's good. That's my opinion. I'm Peter Frishauf, founder of Medscape.

More on OA in LIS

The presentations from the First Workshop on Eprints in Library and Information Science (Geneva, October 22, 2005), are now online. Most are explicitly on OA.

OA support for open-source science

"Reason", On Information Infrastructure in Biotechnology and Medical Research, Fight Aging, January 14, 2006. Excerpt:
The present information infrastructure in biotechnology and medical research is quite simply not up to the task at hand - dramatic advances in our ability to generate data have outstripped the development of processes and tools to make that data useful. This problem manifests itself in the form of lost opportunities, duplicated or wasted effort, and missed answers. In other words, progress in medical science is nowhere near as fast as it could be, just using the technologies of today. Fortunately, this truth is no great secret: everyone knows, and resources are being directed into the development of solutions. On the process side, we have the move towards open access journals and other forms of open publication. The Public Library of Science is shifting it's weight into clinical trial data....I see the main benefit to open publication strategies being the platform they provide for open-source models of development in automation, tools and processes of data management within the scientific community. If the data is free, the only cost to building a better utilitization of that data is your time ... and we've seen that this situation produces very impressive end results in software development. The closed journals - and their business models - are a roadblock to that sort of progress, and I think that roadblock is becoming a real problem in the information-rich fields of biotechnology and medicine....The informational side of biotech looks a lot like the open source movement of ten years ago - many competing standards, lots of good ideas and a real froth of software. An example of the sort of tools I'm talking about is the work of Butte and Kohane [PS: see yesterday's blog posting]....If progress in biotechnology and medicine is to continue at the present healthy pace - especially in very complex problems that span many comparatively isolated fields, such as addressing age-related degeneration - then the research community must successfully deal with the problem of data management.