Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 28, 2006

DRM and handicap accessibility

The January issue of INDICARE is devoted to DRM and handicap accessibility. From Knud Böhle's editorial introducing the issue:
Disabled persons, especially blind, partially sighted and other print disabled people have to rely on exemptions within copyright law allowing them to effectively use assistive technologies even in cases where the content is protected by TPMs. The three articles dealing with this subject make us aware of the troubles still existing, but also of the solutions at hand. When talking about this subject it is important to have in mind that blind and visually impaired people are consumers like you and me, and that improving accessibility is not only to the benefit of this group, but for all of us.

On the value added by journals

Carol Tenopir, The Value of the Container, TCMNet, January 27, 2006. Apparently forthcoming from Library Joural. (Thanks to William Walsh.) In order to focus on OA-related issues, I'm cutting a good discussion of the effect of the long tail on journals, as opposed to books. Worth reading. Excerpt:
Why all the fuss about electronic journals? That was the question raised by Michael Gorman, the outspoken president of the American Library Association (ALA), at a session on Future of Libraries at the recent Online Information Meeting in London. What we want is articles, said Gorman, calling the idea of putting them together in things called journals irrelevant. We dont need e-journals, said the controversial Gorman. Articles should be put together by our interests, not the editors. The real problem, according to Gorman, is that there is no viable economic model. Buying all articles (including those no one reads) is not sustainable. The comments got me thinking about the containers in which we package information. When the entire text is digitized and searchable through various search engines, traditional containers might not matter anymore. The concept of a journal may not matter now that we have article e-print servers and institutional repositories....I conduct surveys to find out how faculty, students, and others use scholarly information. All find relevant scholarly articles by searching databases, the web, and e-print servers, but a journal often delivers value greater than the sum of its article parts. For current awareness, readers in many disciplines browse through entire print or electronic issues of journals. They select journals they trust, based on past experience and such factors as the journals affiliation, prestige, and reputation with scholars in their discipline. An issue devoted to a special topic or a bundled collection of related articles in a journal can guide readers to related material that they might not read otherwise. Even when searching for articles on a specific topic, readers often find the journal title indicates its scope and quality. In health-related fields the stamp of peer review plus journal prestige is vital.

Comment. There are two kinds of added value to keep distinct. One is the kind added by peer review, especially peer review by a known editorial board with its particular disciplinary orientation and standards. The second is the kind added by clustering articles together. OA is compatible with both, but some OA proposals would preserve the first without preserving the second.

Google explains its decision to work with Chinese censors

Andrew McLaughlin, Google's senior policy lawyer, has blogged an explanation of Google's decision to censor the Chinese version of its index. Excerpt:
We know that many people are upset about this decision, and frankly, we understand their point of view. This wasn't an easy choice, but in the end, we believe the course of action we've chosen will prove to be the right one. Launching a Google domain that restricts information in any way isn't a step we took lightly. For several years, we've debated whether entering the Chinese market at this point in history could be consistent with our mission and values. Our executives have spent a lot of time in recent months talking with many people, ranging from those who applaud the Chinese government for its embrace of a market economy and its lifting of 400 million people out of poverty to those who disagree with many of the Chinese government's policies, but who wish the best for China and its people. We ultimately reached our decision by asking ourselves which course would most effectively further Google's mission to organize the world's information and make it universally useful and accessible. Or, put simply: how can we provide the greatest access to information to the greatest number of people? Filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission. Failing to offer Google search at all to a fifth of the world's population, however, does so far more severely. Whether our critics agree with our decision or not, due to the severe quality problems faced by users trying to access from within China, this is precisely the choice we believe we faced. By launching and making a major ongoing investment in people and infrastructure within China, we intend to change that. No, we're not going to offer some Google products, such as Gmail or Blogger, on until we're comfortable that we can do so in a manner that respects our users' interests in the privacy of their personal communications. And yes, Chinese regulations will require us to remove some sensitive information from our search results. When we do so, we'll disclose this to users, just as we already do in those rare instances where we alter results in order to comply with local laws in France, Germany and the U.S. Obviously, the situation in China is far different than it is in those other countries; while China has made great strides in the past decades, it remains in many ways closed. We aren't happy about what we had to do this week, and we hope that over time everyone in the world will come to enjoy full access to information. But how is that full access most likely to be achieved? We are convinced that the Internet, and its continued development through the efforts of companies like Google, will effectively contribute to openness and prosperity in the world. Our continued engagement with China is the best (perhaps only) way for Google to help bring the tremendous benefits of universal information access to all our users there. We're in this for the long haul. In the years to come, we'll be making significant and growing investments in China. Our launch of, though filtered, is a necessary first step toward achieving a productive presence in a rapidly changing country that will be one of the world's most important and dynamic for decades to come. To some people, a hard compromise may not feel as satisfying as a withdrawal on principle, but we believe it's the best way to work toward the results we all desire.

OA and LOCKSS for Alaska state publications

Dan Cornwall has blogged some notes on how the State of Alaska provides OA to state publications and preserves them with LOCKSS.

New African organization modelled on UNESCO

Wagdy Sawahel, 'African UNESCO' gets go-ahead, SciDev.Net, January 27, 2006. Excerpt:
The African Union (AU) has backed plans to create a scientific and cultural branch modelled on the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)....Among its aims, the proposed African Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (AFESCO) intends to boost the continent's scientific capacity, promote international cooperation and protect African cultures. "It is a wonderful window of opportunity for all African countries to share their knowledge, skills and experiences while promoting the scientific collaboration that is vital for building common interests and mutual understanding between the peoples of Africa," says Awatif Elegam of Sudan's National Centre for Research....The Sudanese newspaper Alray Alaam reported on 23 January that the International University of Africa in Khartoum would host AFESCO.

Comment. The announcement doesn't mention open access, though it does talk about knowledge-sharing. Insofar as AFESCO is modelled on UNESCO, it should support OA and may plan to do so. See the UNESCO endorsement of OA in its November 2005 Amendments to the Draft Programme and Budget for 2006-2007. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who can describe where AFESCO is likely to stand on OA or recommend effective ways to influence its future position.

More structures in PubChem

PubChem now includes structures from NMRShiftDB.

Large ebook collection free for Asia-Pacific users

Libraries in Taiwan, Hong Kong build NetLibrary eBook collection, a press release from OCLC, January 27, 2006. Excerpt:
Forty-eight university libraries in Taiwan and Hong Kong have purchased more than 50,000 OCLC NetLibrary eBooks under an extraordinary cooperative agreement that crosses geographical boundaries. Under the agreement, the English-language NetLibrary eBooks in Biology and Life Sciences; Business, Economics and Management; History; Literature; Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing; and many other subject areas will be available electronically anytime, anywhere through the NetLibrary eBook platform. The eBook collection is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region. "This agreement goes beyond territorial borders and brings together people and institutions interested in providing electronic resources to meet the needs of all libraries in the region. Together, we have created a comprehensive program of innovation and service to libraries—for all library users," said Prof. Hsianghoo Steve Ching, University Librarian at the City University of Hong Kong...."The Super eBook Collection demonstrates the power of cooperation among university administrators and library directors," said Jay Jordan, OCLC President and CEO. "Working together, leaders at these 48 institutions are changing the ways that libraries support research, teaching and learning. We at OCLC are proud to be part of this exciting collaborative effort." "Sharing information in an electronic world offers increased relevancy and increased access to more content," said Rich Rosy, Vice President, OCLC Content Management. "eBook resources can be searched more quickly and efficiently than printed materials. High-demand titles can be viewed more frequently. And eBooks can be accessed and read online instantaneously, with no need to house or ship borrowed print materials. This commitment to NetLibrary eBooks is an excellent example of how libraries can extend their investments in monograph collections."

(PS: Access to NetLibrary books is free for users who have library privileges at participating libraries, but providing access is not free of charge for the libraries.)

Another enhancement to author manuscripts under the NIH policy

New Status Tag for PubMed Citations, NLM Technical Bulletin, January 27, 2006.
Author manuscripts for published articles were added to PubMed Central (PMC), NIH digital archive of life sciences journal literature, beginning in July 2005 (see article: PubMed Links to Author Manuscripts in PMC...). A new status tag, [PubMed - author manuscript in PMC], will appear on PubMed citations for articles that would not normally be cited in PubMed because they are from journals that are a) not indexed for MEDLINE or b) do not participate in PMC. This small number of citations can be retrieved using the search: pubstatusnihms. As these citations are processed, the status tag will change as appropriate, with a final designation of [PubMed]. To retrieve all citations in PubMed for which author manuscripts are available in PMC, use the search: author manuscript.


JISC has issued a press release on yesterday's official launch of OpenDOAR. Excerpt:
OpenDOAR - the Directory of Open Access Repositories – has released a listing of open access archives holding research papers, conference papers, theses and other academic materials that are available as "open access". This means that anyone with an internet connection has access to this information without paying any charges. Open access to information has grown rapidly as researchers and scholars increasingly put their work on the web for free in these repositories. Some of these archives hold material on a single subject; others are based in universities and hold information from across many different subjects. Leading universities in the UK, Sweden, Germany, France and across Europe, Australia, India, the USA and worldwide have built an expanding international network of archives. Repositories have been built by research funders, like the US National Institutes for Health or the UK-based Wellcome Trust. There are now large numbers of archives of different sizes, composition and scope and new repositories are regularly established. Keeping track of these repositories and the range of information that they hold is a challenge. Although most open access repositories have been designed to allow information about themselves to be gathered automatically, discrepancies can creep into the system. Therefore, each of the OpenDOAR repositories has been visited by project staff to check the information gathered. This in-depth approach gives a quality-controlled list of repository features. In addition, while reviewing these archives, project staff are building a picture of the worldwide development of open access repositories, noting new features and directions. This information is being analysed to create the next version of the listing, with further information and categories being noted for each repository. In the meantime, the newly released list will continue to grow as new repositories are added.

Bronze release of RAE software for OA repositories

The Institutional Repository and Research Assessment (IRRA) has issued the bronze release of its EPrints and DSpace RAE Software. From the site:
The software to allow EPrints and DSpace institutional repositories to be used for RAE 2008 is now available in Bronze release form. This means that it has been adopted internally on the test institutions and has undergone some months of testing. It is now being made avalable to the UK academic community for repository managers to gain the experience of fitting it into their Institutional RAE processes. Support for this software is provided through the IRRA mailing list in the first instance. To sign up, please add your details to the IRRA wiki.

Four Swiss research organizations sign the Berlin Declaration

Four Swiss research organizations --the Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS), Council of the Swiss Scientific Academies (CASS), Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), and Swiss Conference of Schools for Teacher Education (SCTE)-- have signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Acces to Knowledge.

Update (1/30/06). Make that five: The Conference of the Universities of Applied Sciences (CUAS) just signed.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Brody registry now ROARs

Tim Brody's Institutional Archives Registry has changed its name to the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR). To mark the occasion, Stevan Harnad has written a reminder of ROAR's strengths. Excerpt:
For researchers or OA advocates (or detractors!) who are interested in the current state, growth rate and distribution of Open Access Repositories (or Archives) worldwide, ROAR, the Registry of Open Access Repositories (created by Southampton doctoral student Tim Brody as part of his thesis, and for the Eprints and OpCit projects) allows anyone to generate growth charts by archive type, or by individual archive. It can also rank-order archives by the number of OAI records they currently contain (i.e., their size). ROAR is a gold-mine of current, cumulating data, ripe for anyone enterprising enough to want to report an up-to-date quantitative analysis of how OA IRs are progressing today, and where. I also take this opportunity to remind all OA Archives and OA IRs to please *register* with ROAR so you too can be counted, and your content growth tracked. The size and growth data are classified by the type of Archive: (i) Distributed Institutional/Departmental Pre-/Postprint Archives (275), (ii) Central Cross-Research Archives (69) (iii) Dissertation Archives (e-theses) (62), as well as (iv) database Archives (e.g. research data) (10), (v) e-journal/e-publishing Archives (53), (vi) demonstration Archives (not yet operational) (24), (vii) "other" Archives (non-OA content of various kinds) (79). The archives can also be classified by country, and by the software they use.

If copyright law doesn't already protect Google Library, change the law

Tarleton Gillespie, Everything to Everyone, Inside Higher Ed, January 27, 2006. Excerpt:
[F]air use has been carrying a heavy load lately, and it’s starting to show its limitations. Over the last few decades and especially amid the recent “copyright wars,” a powerful new philosophy has emerged: Rather than seeing copyright as a careful balance between the interests of private owners and the public, powerful content industries have argued that robustly protecting private interests is always the best way to serve the public....While most of us in higher education are little content industries ourselves, we should not be seduced into forgetting our role first and foremost as the keepers, distributors, and developers of our society’s body of public knowledge. We must fight for the promise copyright made to the public: All these economic rights are only in the service of intellectual progress....[The lawsuits against Google over its Library Project] will live or die not on the question of the value of such a database to users, but on the narrower legal question of whether Google has the right to scan the books to begin with....Let’s give fair use a break by sending in a legislative relief pitcher, one that can better allow for the role search engines play in facilitating the circulation of digital information. If fair use has been protecting both ‘transformative’ and ‘distributive’ uses, today we need a statute that can cover the kind of “indexing” uses that Google is after. If we recognize that the Internet offers us the chance to make much more of our society’s culture and knowledge available to more people, and we recognize that to make this massive resource most useful requires ways to navigate and search it, and we further recognize that search engines like Google need to make copies of that work in order to make it searchable, then we have a genuine and reasonable public interest in ensuring that that they and others can do so. At the same time, we should also ensure that doing so doesn’t undercut the possibility of selling these works, and ideally should help their sales....Waiting for fair use to shield this expanding range of uses is slowing the innovation in information, knowledge, and culture the Internet seems ready to facilitate. And every time it does, we risk a court setting a retrograde precedent that cements digital culture into place for good. We need a new statute that acknowledges and accommodates the common sense recognition that search is good, that it requires incidental copying, and that it should not be left to individual, competing publishers to make their work part of the public trust. In a moment when we are handing content owners much more control not only over the use of their work but over access to it, we need to make a parallel commitment to ensuring and expanding access of a different kind, as an aggregate collection of all things thought and written that can be easily explored. And, we need to let fair use protect the activities it’s designed to protect, instead of letting it fray as it stands in as the only protection against a locked and licensed digital world.

OA textbooks subsidized by ads

Add Freeload Press to the list of publishers of OA textbooks. For some background, see Jessica Frizen, Company makes free textbooks possible, Pendulum Online, January 19, 2006. Excerpt:
As a worker in Elon's campus bookstore for two and a half years, senior Molly Steinberg said she's seen a student pay as much as $1,000 for textbooks in a single semester. The amounts that students pay for textbooks each year may drastically decrease over the next few years due to a new textbook company that is out to sell a new type of textbook: free ones. "With the cost of college skyrocketing and with aid not keeping pace, we want to see as many students as possible have free textbooks," said Tom Doran, CEO and founder of Freeload Press. "(Textbooks) are too important to go without . . . we're seeing textbook purchases declining as tuition increases." Freeload Press, which was created in St. Paul, Minn., gave its downloadable college textbooks a test run this past fall. Fifty-one instructors from 20 colleges used the company's e-books, and because of the positive feedback from both students and professors, 175 colleges and universities are registered to use them for the spring 2006 semester. Elon University finance professor, Wonhi Synn, will be the first professor in North Carolina to provide free textbooks to his students next semester. "The reason I'm trying this out for my section is because the textbook I'm using is good quality," he said. "I would not adopt something that is sub-quality just because it's free." Students in Synn's Fundamentals of Financial Managing class will download their e-books using Adobe Acrobat format from Freeload Press' Internet Portal...If they would rather have a hardcopy, the company also offers paperback e-books with advertising, which are sold for 60 percent less than the original cost of the textbook. "We debated about using a browser base, but students want a sense of ownership," Doran said. "They want the information right on the laptop or desktop so they can have at it any time they want without worrying about being connected."...Freeload Press is currently using 10 corporate sponsors. When businesses sponsor Freeload Press, they are able to put advertisements in the front of the printed book and in chapter openings of e-textbooks....So what's the possibility of every student getting all of their textbooks for free in the next couple years? Doran said it may be a longer project than we may hope. But he also said that these first steps made by Freeload Press are meant to cause a reaction and make an example for other companies to follow. "That's our goal," Doran said. "We're trying to show other publishers that we work, we can get sponsors and we can get academics to use the commercial textbook."... Freeload Press is the first media and publishing company to adopt the idea of using commercial sponsoring to reduce the price of textbooks.

Access policies at law journals

The Open Access Law project has launched a Copyright Experiences Wiki. From the site:
The purpose of this website is for legal academics and others to share our copyright experiences with law journals and other legal publishers. As academics, we have an interest in ensuring the widest dissemination of our work. Law Journals tend, however, to use standard-form copyright agreements that reqire a copyright assignment, and impose unreasonable restrictions on our rights to share and re-use our own work. Some law journals, however, are more enlightened. Others, when pushed, will also see the light. Due to the transitory nature of student-run law journal staffs, still others are actually unaware of their own past practices. This site will allow you to learn what other people have been able to persuade law journals to accept. On the pages linked from here, legal writers describe their copyright experiences. The information is as good or bad as what you contribute to it.

Comment. I like this idea. It goes beyond the SHERPA and Eprints databases on journal access policies by letting authors describe what negotiations they've tried at which journals with what success. Every law journal has (or will have) a separate page in the wiki for community annotation.

Integrating OA repository searches into the ILL system

The future Inter-library loan request, CharteringLibrarian, January 25, 2006. An unsigned blog posting. Excerpt:
I've been doing quite a bit of research on DSpace and other repository tools lately, and a thought has just occurred to me. At the moment, a fair proportion of our received Inter-library loan requests are actually held by us, sometimes as paper copies, but regularly as part of online subscriptions. With the proliferation of open-access repositories, more and more journal articles, theses, book chapers etc. are going to become freely available online. How about an Inter-Library loan system that automatically took request details and processed them through some kind of metadata filter, and then on to relevant search facilities? This could then offer users the option to look at any possible results, before deciding whether or not to still submit their request. It would obviously depend on the details they provided, but if it worked it could hugely reduce the time taken for these people to find their requests, and the staff time spent working on Inter-library loans. Unfortunately my skills aren't quite up to creating something that could do this...yet!

Comment. This is a great idea. Until it can be automated, patrons and librarians can run their ILL requests through OAIster, the most comprehensive search index of OA repositories worldwide. This will save time, save money, and spread the message about OA. Here's an idea for Phase 2. When Professor X submits an ILL request for an item already OA in an repository, the ILL librarian sends back a note with a URL to the item, a short explanation of what OA repositories are, perhaps with a link, a list of Professor X's non-OA journal publications, and a pointer to the institutional repository.

OA to medical info at a distance

Dean Giustini, Evidence-based patient care - information & open access is key, UBC Google Scholar Blog, January 26, 2006. Excerpt:
[I]magine a hypothetical situation where a young, single mother of two growing children, living in a remote area of Canada, learns of a recurrence of her cancer. In extremis, she makes a phone call to a hospital librarian. This is an extreme and graphic example of the importance of open access to evidence-based information. Imagine how this problem is compounded by the challenges of waiting lists and poor health care coverage! Fortunately, there are a number of excellent consumer information tools and websites - view them directly or search for them using a search engine - that will help this female patient....Finally, it must be stressed, that health librarians are important allies for physicians in providing evidence-based care. We are trained to lead the patient to the most pertinent information based on our knowledge of sources and our ability to interpret the patient"s clinical question. When at a distance, easy open access to information is humane.

Crispin Davis notwithstanding, self-archiving is on the rise

James Ashton has written a profile of Crispin Davis, the Reed Elsevieir CEO, for The Daily Mail (January 26, 2006). I can't find it online, but William Walsh blogged an excerpt on Issues in Scholarly Communication yesterday. An excerpt from his excerpt:
Aside from the plaudits, Reed has also made enemies. Some factions regularly rail at its sheer size in the academic world, even though it has only 20% of the market to supply lofty titles like Tetrahedron and Cell to university libraries. The threat of researchers posting their papers straight on the internet has receded and Reed still makes its fattest profits in science and medical.

Comment. "The threat of researchers posting their papers straight on the internet has receded." If this means that researchers are self-archiving less, then it's false. Researchers are self-archiving more. If it means that Reed Elsevier no longer feels threatened by self-archiving, then it's true but misleading. Elsevier has given blanket permission for self-archiving since mid-2004. To describe self-archiving as decreasing and to describe it as a threat to Elsevier are equally mistaken. I suspect that Davis made both mistakes and that Ashton simply followed along.

Launch of NARCIS, gateway to Dutch research

The Dutch DARE project has launched NARCIS (National Academic Research and Collaborations Information System). From today's announcement:
The DARE project NARCIS (National Academic Research and Collaborations Information System) has recently lauched the beta version of its website; the gateway to Dutch scientific research information. NARCIS offers central access to Dutch research information. Information produced by Dutch universities, research institutes, KNAW and NWO is gathered and searchable here. In addition NARCIS is the entry par excellence for scientists, policy makers, intermediary organisations, journalists and the public for obtaining a survey on ongoing research in the Netherlands. The NARCIS website uses (among others) these information resources: [1] information from the digital academic repositories (DARE), [2] the Dutch Research Database (NOD), [3] public information from university METIS systems, [4] research information from NWO, [5] news sites from academic and research institutes, [6] information from outside universities through intelligent harvesting), [7] datasets. NARCIS offers research information in the broadest sense of the word and has therefore a wider focus than DAREnet has. Searching for material that is directly available when found, DAREnet is the place to be. Searching for information about research, researchers or (ongoing) research projects NARCIS gives insight without having to know in with information source to look. When full content results are available, NARCIS links through to the publication. Because NARCIS and DAREnet have similar functionalities, the two services might be combined in the future.

Official launch of OpenDOAR

OpenDOAR (the Directory of Open Repositories) has officially launched its list of OA archives and repositories. From today's press release:
OpenDOAR - the Directory of Open Access Repositories - is pleased to announce the release of its primary listing of open access archives....Some of these archives hold material on a single subject: others are based in universities and hold information from across many different subjects. Leading universities in the UK, Sweden, Germany, France and across Europe, Australia, India, the USA and world-wide have built an expanding international network of archives. Repositories have been built by research funders, like the US National Institutes for Health or the UK-based Wellcome Trust. There are now large numbers of archives of different sizes, composition and scope and new repositories are regularly established. Keeping track of these repositories and the range of information that they hold is a challenge. Although most open access repositories have been designed to allow information about themselves to be gathered automatically, discrepancies can creep into the system. Therefore, each of the OpenDOAR repositories have been visited by project staff to check the information that is gathered. This indepth approach gives a quality-controlled list of repository features. In addition, while reviewing these archives, project staff are building a picture of the world-wide development of open access repositories, noting new features and directions. This information is being analysed to create the next version of the listing, with further information and categories being noted for each repository. In the meantime, the newly released list will continue to grow as new repositories are added. The aim is to create a bridge between repository administrators and the service providers which "harvest" repositories. A typical service provider would be a search engine, indexing the material that is held. General search often brings back too many "junk" results. Information from OpenDOAR will enable the search service to provide a more focussed search by selecting repositories that are of direct interest to the user - for example, all Australian repositories, or all repositories that hold conference papers on chemistry. Bill Hubbard, the joint OpenDOAR manager said: "We are very pleased to launch the initial list of OpenDOAR. The range and number of repositories we are seeing coming on-stream is inspiring. We are working to classify these and produce information for search-providers, funding agencies and others, which will benefit scholars and researchers around the world. We would like to thank all of the contributors that have sent in information and suggestions." OpenDOAR is a joint collaboration between the University of Nottingham in the UK and Lund University in Sweden.

Honorary doctorate to Ingegerd Rabow for her OA work

Lund University has awarded an honorary doctorate to Ingegerd Rabow for her work on scholarly communication and open access. From today's announcement:
I have the pleasure to announce that the Faculty of Humanities at Lund University has decided to award to Ingegerd Rabow, [senior librarian in Lund's] Library Head Office...a honorary doctorate for her work in Scholarly Communication and Open-Access. As project manager for the ScieCom - Swedish Resource Centre for Scientific Communication (, one of the driving forces behind the Nordic Conferences on Scholarly Communication ( and her work as an Open Access advocate within Sweden, the Nordic countries and elsewhere Ingegerd has contributed significantly to the movement for open access to research results. The Lund University OA-policy, the signatures to the Berlin Declaration by the Swedish Association of Higher Education and the Swedish Research Council has a lot to do with Ingegerd's work.

Comment. I believe this the first honorary doctorate in any country for work to advance OA. All who have attended the Nordic conferences on scholarly communication or tried to get a university, professional association, or government agency to commit to OA will acknowledge Ingegerd's ability to bring people together to bring about institutional change. We need more effective advocates like her and in more countries. Congratulations to Ingegerd and kudos to Lund University for recognizing and supporting her contributions.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Surowiecki on openness

James Surowiecki spoke on Openness as an Ethos Monday at the conference, The Economics of Open Content (Cambridge, Massachusetts, January 23-24, 2006). Mary Hodder blogged some notes on his talk. Excerpt:
2. [With openness] intelligence is distributed rather than centralized: the knowledge is spread out in many locations....
4. We are better off casting wide rather than narrow
-- don"t know where the info is much of the time
5. Open access to creativity, knowledge -- benefits are greater the more people are involved
-- when people learn more, we learn more.. it"s anti-rivalrous
6. Be very hesitant to filter who belongs to community
-- don"t keep people out
7. People act better the more info they have....
11. Systems that allow people to give ideas and innovation a piece at a time are interesting, because lots of people contribute. Prediction markets and prices work this way.
12. Can profit from an open content system.. leave everything open and free and then make money from talking about this stuff.
13. People find pleasure from the value of competition
-- from contributing to the growth of the pool of knowledge
14. Many of these systems are inefficient, because in a strict sense, they are redundant, but the point is that even though this is the case, if we expand our ideas of efficiency, it"s tremendously efficient....

(PS: Surowiecki is the author of The Wisdom of Crowds.)

Improving higher ed through open access and open courseware

David Wiley will testify next week before the US Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education. He's blogged his draft testimony for comment. Excerpt:
Once upon a time, the courses of our colleges and universities were the primary repositories of post-secondary curricular content. Today, initiatives like OpenCourseWare provide content seekers from around the world with a legitimate alternative source of curricular materials. Once upon a time, the university library was the primary repository of research like peer-reviewed journals and monographs. Today, initiatives like the Public Library of Science and pre-print services like provide individuals from around the world with a legitimate alternative source of research findings. Once upon a time, a college or university’s faculty was the primary repository of technical and academic expertise in a community. Today, technologies like email and instant messaging put seekers of expertise in touch with faculty at many universities as well as professionals, “pro-am” hobbyists, and others from around the world almost instantly....Higher education must continue its efforts to become digital and mobile, while working to become significantly more open, connected, personal, and participatory....I believe that the movement toward greater openness in education, as exemplified by programs like the OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiatives at MIT, Johns Hopkins, Tufts, Notre Dame, and Utah State universities, the Foothill-De Anza Community College, and the Utah College of Applied Technology, is one of the truly great innovations in teaching and learning that has occurred in the last several decades. In the context of my remarks to the Commission, I believe that openness is the gateway to connectedness, personalization, and participation. Openness is a catalyst for further innovation. A few examples: As a faculty member, if I want to connect my course materials to prerequisite materials from classes students have already taken in order to create review opportunities or provide remediation, this connectivity is possible only if both I and the students have access to these materials. Without this openness, there is nothing to connect to, and the level of connectivity my students expect is not attainable....The time will come when an OpenCourseWare or similar collection of open access educational materials will be as fully expected from every higher education institution as an informational website is now. The United States can be either the leader in this innovation, as we were with the previous generation of higher education websites, or we can follow the rest of the world. There are already active consortia of universities engaged in OCW projects in China, in Japan, and in South America, as well as efforts at individual universities in Europe and other parts of the world. In terms of the total number of universities actively involved, the U.S. is already behind. Our first mover advantage in this area, and our subsequent ability to attract top students, will not last long....I believe that openness is the key to enabling other innovations and catalyzing improvements in the quality, accountability, affordability, and accessibility of higher education. It is my recommendation that the Commission do everything within its power to promote a commitment to openness within higher education.

PubChem grows again

PubChem now includes structures from CambridgeSoft, KUMGM, and SMID (here, here, and here respectively). It has also added structures and bioAssay data from the New Mexico Molecular Libraries Screening Center (NMMLSC).

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Google's cache is fair use

Nevada Court Rules Google Cache is Fair Use, a press release from the EFF, January 25, 2006.
A federal district court in Nevada has ruled that Google does not violate copyright law when it copies websites, stores the copies, and transmits them to Internet users as part of its Google Cache feature. The ruling clarifies the legal status of several common search engine practices and could influence future court cases, including the lawsuits brought by book publishers against the Google Library Project. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was not involved in the case but applauds last week's ruling for clarifying that fair use covers new digital uses of copyrighted materials. Blake Field, an author and attorney, brought the copyright infringement lawsuit against Google after the search engine automatically copied and cached a story he posted on his website. Google responded that its Google Cache feature, which allows Google users to link to an archival copy of websites indexed by Google, does not violate copyright law. The court agreed, holding that the Cache qualifies as a fair use of copyrighted material. "This ruling makes it clear that the Google Cache is legal and clears away copyright questions that have troubled the entire search engine industry," said Fred von Lohmann, EFF senior staff attorney. "The ruling should also help Google in defending against the lawsuit brought by book publishers over its Google Library Project, as well as assisting organizations like the Internet Archive that rely on caching."

Comment. The Google cache returns full-text while the Google Library Project returns only short snippets. If anything, then, the Library Project has a stronger argument for fair use than the cache did.

Call for OA to biodiversity data

Donat Agosti, Biodiversity data are out of local taxonomists' reach, Nature, January 26, 2005. A letter to the editor. Excerpt:

Exchange of information about biodiversity is mandated by the legally binding international Convention on Biological Diversity, as are monitoring and benefit sharing. Yet researchers in the developing world, where most of the biodiversity is found, are unable to access much of this information. This impedes the monitoring of biodiversity: monitoring depends on the proper identification of species, and this is hindered by a lack of both specialists and access to relevant taxonomic information. The number of online publications with taxonomic content is increasing, and online tools are becoming available to mash up taxonomic with other information, for example at (see "Mashups mix data into global service" Nature 439, 6–7; 2006). But copyright and high costs put this information beyond the reach of many in the developing world — which is home to more than 95% of species whose descriptions have been published. More than half the 1,600 descriptions of new ant species published in the past ten years are copyrighted, for example, but none are in journals published in the developing world (see [AntBase]). This seems little better than biopiracy: taking biodiversity material from the developing world for profit, without sharing benefit or providing the people who live there with access to this crucial information. A simple solution would be to treat species descriptions as we do gene sequences, and have them openly accessible. Open-access descriptions of new species could then be a mandatory factor in making them valid under the various codes of biological nomenclature. A recent Commentary by Andrew Polaszek and colleagues ("A universal register for animal names" Nature 437, 477; 2005) describes how the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature proposes to facilitate this process for animal descriptions, through a register called ZooBank. However, present copyright laws prevent the mandatory inclusion of what would be an immensely useful piece of information, the actual description of the species.

Update. See the summary of Agosti's letter in SciDev.Net for January 27, and the summary in SIPPI for January 31.

OA looks good to this champion of free-market capitalism

Tim Swanson, Will the University Survive? Ludwig von Mises Institute, January 25, 2006. Excerpt:
While it is not an entirely new phenomenon, the open access movement is worth discussing as an example of modifying business models to take advantage of new technological innovations. In the past, the vast majority of scholarly journals have used a subscription-based model that was relatively expensive for individuals to afford, a tab that institutions, firms and libraries were expected to pick up or subsidize. To bypass this cost prohibitive nature of accessing journals, organizations such as the acclaimed Public Library of Science, charge the author alone for publication costs rather than other users. The prospective research still undergoes the scrutiny of the scientific peer-review process; however a twist is that upon publication, it also becomes immediately and freely viewable to the public at-large under an open content license. Conditions permitting, this experimental development may fizzle out. However by certain statistical/empirical measures this effort could be deemed a budding success if compared to its competition. Originally launched in October 2003, after only 3 months of existence, PLoS Biology was assigned a high impact factor of 13.9 — "placing it above such established journals as EMBO Journal, Current Biology, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In fact, in ISI"s category of general biology journals, PLoS Biology is ranked number 1. In 2004, PLoS Biology articles were downloaded more than 1 million times."...While the jury is still out, both open-access along with open-review have the potential to drive down the costs and eliminate altogether another barrier to scholastic participation; professional and amateur alike.

More on CLOCKSS: access back-up for orphaned journals

Vincent Kiernan, Libraries and Publishers Create 'Dark Archive' to Provide Backup Copies of Electronic Journals, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 25, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
A coalition of journal publishers and university libraries is starting an experimental archive of online journals that will be held in reserve in case a journal's publisher goes out of business or is otherwise unable to continue providing online access to its journals. The pilot program uses peer-to-peer archiving software developed at Stanford University, called Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe, or LOCKSS. The journal archive is called Controlled Lockss, or Clockss. Participating university libraries are at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland; the University of Virginia; Indiana University at Bloomington; and Rice and Stanford Universities. The New York Public Library also is participating. The publishers that will provide journals for Clockss are the American Medical Association, the American Physiological Society, Blackwell Publishing, John Wiley & Sons, Nature Publishing Group, Oxford University Press, Sage Publications, Springer Publishing, and the Taylor & Francis Group. Elsevier is contributing funds but not journal articles. In Clockss, each university library will maintain two computer servers, each of which will contain complete copies of all electronic journals from the participating publishers. Having copies of the archive on so many different servers is meant to ensure that at least one copy will always be available even in the wake of a technical problem or disaster. The archives will remain "dark" -- hidden and unavailable for use -- so long as the journal publishers continue to provide access to their online material. The Clockss system will automatically detect whether a publisher has stopped providing online access. Once a journal's material has been unavailable online for at least six months, the archiving system's governing board, made up of representatives of the participating organizations, will discuss the case and determine whether the material should be considered "orphaned." If so, the governing board will authorize release of its electronic copy of the journal....During the experiment, the governing board will test its procedures with a fictitious scenario for considering whether a particular journal should be considered orphaned. That exercise will illuminate whether the libraries and publishers would use different standards for deciding that the archive should be opened up, she said.
Also see the CLOCKSS press release (January 23, 2005).

New OA journal on avian ecology

Avian Conservation and Ecology - Écologie et conservation des oiseaux is a new peer-reviewed OA journal. Its inaugural issue was published last month. From the site:
This journal provides open access to all of its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge. Such access is associated with increased readership and increased citation of an author's work.

ACE is published by Resilience Alliance, which also publishes the OA journal, Ecology and Society, and offers its peer review and publishing services to other groups wishing to launch OA journals.

Are the Philippines moving toward an OA policy?

Florangel R. Braid, A national information policy framework, Manila Bulletin Online, January 25, 2006. Excerpt:
The UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines, the Commission on Information and Communication Technology, and the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication are holding a one-day workshop on Public Domain Information. [PS: I can't find a web site for this workshop.] The workshop will address barriers to access, examine needed policy framework and resource requirements towards the goal of achieving information for all. The current state is that much of what we call public domain information or PDI (information generated by government, international development agencies, academic institutions, online information on Internet), is available for free by the public but it is not maximally utilized. Too, much of PDI has been privatized or commercialized for market sale. But many are not aware that even information under copyright may be made available through permissive licenses from copyright holders under the "fair use" agreement as long as it is used for non-commercial purposes – teaching, development information to benefit greater public, news reporting, and providing information to the disabled and marginalized. But for various reasons, there is little awareness of the above. One is the absence of a policy framework that is agreed upon through a consultative process with multistakeholders. This would spell out the legal framework and needed action – advocacy, areas of application (corresponding to mandates of each government department), and responsibility centers in the management and implementation of an Information Plan emanating from the framework.

Update on the Adelphi Charter

The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has released a January 2006 update on its activities in promoting the Adelphi Charter. Principle 7 of the Charter calls on governments to adopt policies facilitating OA to scientific literature.

Call for public benefits, but not quite OA, for California-funded stem cell research

California's Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights has released a report by John M. Simpson, Affordability, Accessibility & Accountability in California Stem Cell Research, calling for public access to the results of state-funded stem cell research. From the executive summary:
Proposition 71 was approved by California voters who were promised that a $3 billion bond issue would yield breakthrough medical therapies and cures while paying back the state's investment in stem cell research....Keeping Proposition 71's promises (See Appendix 2) means the organization it created, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), and its oversight committee, must put the interests of taxpayers and patients ahead of private biotech companies who have a financial stake in the outcome....[T]hree principles are essential to ensure Proposition 71 benefits all Californians: [1] Affordability --Cures and treatments must be priced so all Californians can afford and benefit from them, not just a wealthy few. [2] Accessibility --Not only do all Californians deserve access to Proposition 71-funded therapies, but stem cell researchers need access to the results of other Proposition 71-funded research to develop the widest range of cures. [3] Accountability --Policies must ensure that grantees and licensees fulfill their obligations when benefiting from public money....Research institutions that get CIRM funds should pay the state at least 25 percent of net royalties in excess of $100,000 received for any invention or discovery developed with Proposition 71 funds....CIRM would create a patent pool that would include all patents resulting from research it funds....CIRM would be able to tell an applicant that no patent is possible for a particular project if it determines that keeping the expected results in the public domain best promotes further research. CIRM could bar any discovery from being licensed exclusively when it determined nonexclusive licenses would best promote development of a treatment or therapy. Any California-based researcher would be able to use the results of CIRM-funded research for further research without paying a licensing fee.

Also see the press release (January 23, 2006).

Comment. This is an excellent set of recommendations except that it stops short of calling for OA to this body of publicly-funded research. Why? Is it because the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights has never heard of OA? That would be surprising. The U of California Academic Council urged state policy-makers to mandate OA to California-funded stem-cell research in a public letter on April 4, 2005, and Robert Dynes, the President of the UC system, followed-up with a specific appeal to the research oversight committee in a public letter on May 17, 2005. On top of these efforts, individual advocates like Dave Shatto have called for OA to California-funded stem cell research --as I have in this blog. The right to use the research without paying licensing fees is a good step, but it doesn't insure that digital copies of the research are online and available for use free of charge. I urge the FTCR to add this final plank to the platform.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Vatican abandons OA for papal documents

Richard Owen, Vatican 'cashes in' by putting price on the Pope's copyright, London Times, January 23, 2006. Excerpt:
The Vatican has been accused of trying to cash in on the Pope’s words after it decided to impose strict copyright on all papal pronouncements. For the first time all papal documents, including encyclicals, will be governed by copyright invested in the official Vatican publishing house, the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. The edict covers Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, which is to be issued this week amid huge international interest. The edict is retroactive, covering not only the writings of the present pontiff — as Pope and as cardinal — but also those of his predecessors over the past 50 years. It therefore includes anything written by John Paul II, John Paul I, Paul VI and John XXIII. The decision was denounced yesterday for treating the Pope’s words as “saleable merchandise” and endangering the Church’s mission to “spread the Christian message”. A Milanese publishing house that had issued an anthology containing 30 lines from Pope Benedict’s speech to the conclave that elected him and an extract from his enthronement speech is reported to have been sent a bill for €15,000 (£10,000). This was made up of 15 per cent of the cover price of each copy sold plus “legal expenses” of €3,500. Vittorio Messori, who has co-authored works with Pope Benedict and John Paul II, said that he was “perplexed and alarmed . . . This is wholly negative and absolutely disastrous for the Vatican’s image.” A pope’s words should be available to all free of charge.”...The Union of Italian Catholic Publishers and Booksellers said that it had not been consulted, and that the edict “flies in the face of what we do — spreading the Pope’s message to the world”....Officials said that newspapers would be free to publish extracts from papal documents without charge once they were officially released, but only by “prior agreement”.

Comment. Not only is the Vatican abandoning free access and distribution for papal documents. It's abandoning any equivalent of "fair use" and it's doing all this retroactively as well as prospectively. It's hard to believe that the Vatican will gain more than it loses from this. I predict not only ridicule and dissent, which have already started, but litigation and a huge increase in pirated editions --roughly in the way that a prohibition on flag burning would stimulate flag burning. And does the Vatican really need money more than impact?

OA to data, esp. in the UK

JISC Inform 12 is now online (January 20, 2006). This issue has an article by Judy Redfearn on Open Data and one from Julia Slingo on Open Data: A Scenario.

From Redfearn:

Digital data, when made freely and openly available, can benefit education and research by encouraging others to re-use that data. However, legal, technical and cultural barriers exist to prevent the free sharing of data which might otherwise promote further educational and scientific advances....In these and other research areas, too much data is produced for the original researchers to exploit. New ways are needed to make data available and accessible for others – but this raises cultural and practical issues. Do I want to share the data I went to such pains to collect? How do I make my data available to others in a way that is meaningful to them? If I do some further analysis, how do I record the new results and ensure they are identified as separate from other results or from the raw data? eBank is a JISC-funded project that is addressing some of these issues for a branch of chemistry....SPECTRa is developing open source automated tools for identifying, extracting and archiving high-volume data, initially in chemistry but with applicability to other sciences. Claddier is achieving similar aims in the environmental sciences by linking publications held in institutional repositories with data at the British Atmospheric Data Centre. This is becoming more pressing as digital repositories become established in universities....There are considerable benefits to having both research papers (e-prints) and the data which support those papers openly available, not least because they can then be linked in ways which are not necessarily possible with printed journals....[Some OA data issues] are subject specific. Many social scientists, for example, want links from data to published articles, rather than the other way round, to see what research has been done on that data. StORe is investigating the different requirements of six subject areas to ensure that the automated tools developed for linking data with journal articles meet users’ needs. Another major issue concerns safeguarding the intellectual property rights associated with data derived from original raw data. GRADE is investigating this issue for the re-use of geospatial data, such as data collected from mapping surveys and remote sensing by satellite.

From Slingo:

Joanna has done some work on the biology of seawater off the coast of Cornwall....On completing her analysis, she publishes a paper that cites [her] datasets and lodges the paper in her institutional repository. She also deposits her datasets in appropriate data repositories like the Southampton Oceanography Centre data archive, and the British Oceanographic Data Centre. The archives holding the datasets and publications she cites are notified that a paper citing them has been submitted, and the information about those datasets and publications is updated to reflect the citations. Links are established between the records held in the publication repository and in the data archives. It turns out that Joanna’s work can be used to help calibrate a global earth system model. Fred, at Reading University, finds Joanna’s paper and data, either via citations or directly from publication repositories. As part of his work he checks back through the other datasets cited as inputs to Joanna’s data because, before he uses her data, he suspects her work could be recalibrated by using later, better quality, meteorological re-analyses. Meanwhile Joanna, and all the dataset authors, will be pleased that the citation of not only the publication, but also the datasets, will be reflected in the 2012 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).

Penn and PLoS

Ari Friedman, Penn at forefront of non-profit journal, Daily Pennsylvanian, January 24, 2006. Excerpt:
A new movement in academic publishing is gaining steam, and Penn is right in the thick of it. Open access, the idea that publicly funded research should be publicly available, has seen increasing success since the 2004 launch, with Penn support, of the Public Library of Science. The oldest of the public-access journals, PLoS Biology, "has the highest citation ranking in biology ... essentially twice as high as the next journal," said Linda Rosenstein, the Biomedical Library's associate director for information resources. Penn has been involved from the beginning. In 2001, 34 Penn researchers signed a PLoS Open Letter calling for unrestricted access to scientific journal articles. Penn's library has been an institutional member of the public library almost since its inception. Penn expects long-term financial benefits from aiding the library. Traditional journal publishing essentially "is taking money out of the pockets of undergraduates in order to fund the research in the university," said Legal Studies and Business Ethics professor Dan Hunter....According to Hunter, open access can break that cycle [of rising journal prices]. He said that academics "not only provide all the content, we provide all the editorial function, and we also are the people that are buying the journals." Calling the public library membership "an investment in an initiative" which may slow the annual price increases seen in traditional journals, the library's Director of Public Services Sandra Kerbel is "pleased that ... this experiment has worked so well."...Penn authors...receive a 50 percent discount [on PLoS processing fees] because Penn's library system pays $5,500 per year for membership. The School of Engineering and Applied Science's head librarian Mary Steiner anticipated that, as the library adds new journals, "we'll only get more bang for our buck." That so-called "bang" comes not only financially, but in spreading Penn research more widely. According to Kerbel, the public library "really does disseminate Penn's research."

(PS: Just one correction. PLoS Biology is probably the best-known and most influential OA journal, but it's far from the oldest.)

More on OA to maps and map data

Jo Walsh, On the Society of Cartographers and Open Geodata (again), Mapping Hacks, January 21, 2006. Excerpt:
This morning i got a rare piece of snail-mail: production prints from this year's Society of Cartographers Bulletin, of the essay that i was honoured to contribute on the subject of Open Geodata, Free Software, and Civic Information. It talks about why we wrote "Mapping Hacks", and why UK based geo***kers are finding it hard to make interesting Google Maps hacks because of a lack of supporting culture of open access to state-collected geospatial information. I only got prints of my own article, but i know the bulletin contains pieces by Steve Coast about progress and plans for, and another by Richard Fairhurst of on how he replaced a multi-million-pound proprietary GIS that used to run with a web map made in his free time using free software, that actually works better. The talk that Richard gave during the Society of Cartographers half-day session on Public Access to Maps/Data back in September, pretty much brought the house down.

Free content for those buy hardware from a certain vendor

Michael Meiser, Stanford and Apple's iTunes, taking the "access" out of open access media,, January 24, 2006. Thumbs up to Stanford for freely distributing podcast feeds of Stanford lectures. Thumbs down for limiting users to Apple's iTunes format.

IBM makes its knowledge-discovery system open source

IBM to Enhance Open Source Knowledge Discovery, eBiz, January 23, 2006. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
IBM today announced it has made new open source technology available that seeks to enhance knowledge discovery capabilities across multiple industries and applications and provide developers with tools to support a new breed of software for the analysis of information. The company has completed the first step of making the Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA) available to the open source community by publishing the UIMA source code to, the world’s largest open source development site. UIMA is an open software framework already in use by industry and academia to collaborate on the creation, development and deployment of technologies for discovering the vital knowledge present in the fastest growing sources of information today – unstructured content in the enterprise and across the Web, including documents, images, comment and note fields, e-mail and even rich media like video and audio. New technologies built using UIMA will help unlock the value in organizations’ content assets. Later this year, IBM intends to move this project to a full open source community development model. “Companies want to get value from all of their information, but no single vendor can address all of the search, text analytics and business insight needs across all types of information and for all industries,” said Nelson Mattos, vice president Information and Interaction, IBM Research. “We are making UIMA available to the open source community to encourage innovation and allow analytics software tools from multiple sources to work together and build upon each other.”

OA databases in medicine and molecular biology

Josef König maintains a list of free online Databases in Medicine and Molecular Biology. (Thanks to medinfo.)

Mixed business models in South African digital education projects

The South African Commons-sense program wanted to know how many online education projects in the country used open business models. (Thanks to BytesForAll Readers.) Excerpt from its conclusion (on the CC South Africa blog, November 22, 2005):
[I]t is possible to offer ‘open content’ without having to compromise the business idea or its financial sustainability. In South Africa, the value of open content is most readily recognized within the educational sector. Roleplayers from both the public and private sectors and civil society are involved in various projects aimed at delivering education through ICT to South African youth (and often further afield into other regions of Africa as well). The actors involved in these initiatives understand that the benefit for the project is not necessarily a financial one: the bigger spin-off is to create a sustainable society through education by equipping young people with the skills to actively contribute to South Africa’s economy. Does this mean that financial benefit takes second place? Are stakeholders within the South African educational sector putting their social consciences above financial sustainability? And if so, does this mean that funding agencies will have to continue funding projects for the next decade? And what of the stakeholders that choose to keep their content ‘closed’ in order to make a profit? Who are they selling content to, and are their models any more successful in the long term than ‘open content’ providers who currently rely on funding? To begin finding out answers to the above questions, the Commons-sense programme at the LINK Centre, Wits University, has investigated some of the leading players in the educational sector to find out who provides (and distributes) open content and who operates on a commercial basis. We plotted our findings on a continuum, starting from the producers (and disseminators) of open content, moving towards a ‘closed’ environment where content is available only via subscription. Interestingly, we have found that many projects consist of a number of diverse partnerships, where some ‘closed’ commercial providers actually provide content for an open-content project, or where two partners with different focuses have found shared opportunities to create other projects. In these situations, the notions of ‘open’ and ‘financial sustainability’ become multi-layered. It is within these projects with their many facets and networks, that opportunities exist for South African entrepreneurs who wish to make business out of open content.

LIS journals and permission for self-archiving

Anita Coleman, Self-Archiving and the Copyright Transfer Agreements of ISI-Ranked Library and Information Science Journals, a preprint. Self-archived January 23, 2006.
Abstract: This is a preprint version of a paper submitted to the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. A study of ISI ranked Library and Information Science (LIS) journals (n=52) is reported. The study examined the stances of publishers as expressed in the Copyright Transfer Agreements (CTAs) of the journals towards self-archiving, the practice of depositing digital copies of one's works, preferably in an OAI-compliant open access repository. Results show that 62 % (32) do not make their CTAs available on the open web; 38 % (20) do. Of the 38 % that have CTAs available, two are open access journals. Even among the 20 journal CTAs publicly available a high level of ambiguity exists. Of the 62 % that do not have a public CTA, 40 % are silent about self-archiving. Closer examination augmented by publisher policy documents on copyright, self-archiving, and author instructions, reveals that only five, 10% of the ISI-ranked LIS journals, actually prohibit self-archiving by publisher rule. Copyright transfer agreements are a moving target and publishers appear to be acknowledging that copyright and open access can co-exist in the scholarly journal publishing arena. Given the ambivalence of journal publishers, the communities might be better off by self-archiving in open access archives and strategically building an LIS information commons through a society-led global scholarly communication consortium. The aggregation of OAI-compliant archives and development of disciplinary-specific library services for an LIS commons has the potential to increase the field's research impact and visibility besides ameliorating its own scholarly communication and publishing systems, and serving as a model for others.

Comment. This is an illuminating study. It would very useful to replicate it in other fields --and then, as long as someone was reading every journal policy and copyright transfer agreement, make any needed additions or corrections to the SHERPA and Eprints databases of journal access policies.

Monday, January 23, 2006

OA to crystallography data

Simon J. Coles and 14 co-authors, An e-Science environment for service crystallography - from submission to dissemination, Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling, 2006. Self-archived January 23, 2006.
Abstract: The UK National Crystallography Service (NCS) has developed a prototype e-Science infrastructure for the provision of a small molecule crystallography service from sample receipt to results dissemination. This paper outlines the two strands this service, which a) enable a user to contribute in the conduction of an experiment and b) provides an effective route for the archival and dissemination of the arising results. Access to use the NCS facilities and expertise and a mechanism to submit samples is granted through a secure Grid infrastructure, which seamlessly provides instantaneous feedback and the ability to remotely monitor and guide diffraction experiments and stage the diffraction data to a securely accessible location. Publication of all the data and results generated during the course of the experiment, from processed data to analysed structures is then enabled by means of an open access data repository. The repository publishes its content through established digital libraries protocols, which enable harvester and aggregator services to make the data searchable and accessible.

The new Elsevier citation tracker

Barbara Quint, Elsevier’s Scopus Introduces Citation Tracker: Challenge to Thomson ISI’s Web of Science? Information Today, January 23, 2006. Excerpt:
Long seen as the purview of Thomson ISI, citation tracking in scholarly journal literature is becoming an expected feature in digital collections of scholarly literature. Even Google Scholar offers a version. Elsevier’s Scopus service has long provided a “cited by” feature on its search results page, but the new Scopus Citation Tracker service expands the functionality greatly. At full power --that is, under the broadest licensed subscriptions-- Scopus covers 14,200 journals (including 531 open access journals) from more than 4,000 publishers supplying 27-plus million abstracted citations. Its citation analysis features reach back to 1966 for the life sciences and 1996 for all other fields. In contrast, Thomson ISI’s Web of Science (WoS) --again at full throttle-- reaches back to 1900 and supports even more sophisticated citation analysis. Interested enterprises should look to pay in the five- or even six-figure range. Neither service includes the cost of full-text delivery of content, but both will link to journal articles in full-text services to which libraries have separate licenses....Commenting on the general problem of “versioning” in a world of open access, institutional repositories, preprint servers, etc., [Amanda] Spiteri [director of marketing for Elsevier] said it was a problem for the whole industry. Jim Pringle, vice president of product development at Thomson Scientific, echoed her sentiments.

Strengthening OA at a hybrid-OA journal

Ali H. Sayed, Message from the Editor-in-Chief, EURASIP Journal on Applied Signal Processing, January 5, 2006. An editorial by the new editor. Excerpt:
I assume my responsibilities as the Editor-in-Chief of EURASIP JASP with a sense of potential and optimism for the future. In a short span of few years, the journal has grown in stature and is now at a position to make further leaps. The rate of submission has doubled since 2002 and the uptake of the open access option has risen to 20% of all published articles....Several features of EURASIP JASP have attracted me to assume this new challenge....EURASIP JASP is one of the few journals in the signal processing field to support the concept of “open access.” In return for a fee paid by the authors, readers can access their articles free on the journal website. This is a useful feature and it will impact the way we publish and access scientific articles in years to come. While this mode of publication is optional for authors, I intend to support and encourage its adoption more widely. Electronic access to information is here to stay and journals need to adapt to this new reality. EURASIP journals have been leading the way in this regard and they have been adopting technology faster than their competitors. Pursuing this strategy will help place EURASIP JASP closer to the reach of readers and researchers and will help increase the impact of the journal.

ERCIM Statement on Open Access

The European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) has published a Statement on Open Access (see previous blog entry). Excerpt:
Recognising the inability of research libraries to meet the costs of sustaining their collections, and participating actively in the development of appropriate technology, ERCIM has followed with interest the developments in Open Access from the Budapest Declaration through the Bethesda Declaration to the Berlin Declaration and events since. ERCIM member organisations have been involved in dialogue with national libraries, research funding agencies, commercial publishers, learned societies and government departments. ERCIM supports the following principles: [1] research that is funded by the public via government agencies or charities should be available freely, electronically at the point of use, [2] other research should be made equally available subject only to confidentiality required by commercial, military, security or personal medical constraints, [3] quality assurance of research publications must be continued through rigorous peer review, [4] associated with research publications, research datasets and software should be equally openly available, [5] the provision of open access should be made as cost-effective as possible, [6] the provision of open access carries also the responsibility for curation of the digital material including cataloguing, archiving, reproducing, safekeeping and media migration....It is now agreed that the member organisations of ERCIM which do not already have an open access policy will adopt these principles and implement them.

ERCIM News special section on OA

The January 2006 issue of ERCIM News contains a special section on The Routes to Open Access Publishing. (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.) Here are the articles from the special section:

A short history of OA

Kristin Yiotis, The Open Access Initiative: A new Paradigm for Scholarly Communications, Information Technology and Libraries, 24, 4 (2005). Not even an abstract is free online at the journal site, at least so far.
Abstract: This paper gives an account of the origin and development of the Open Access Initiative (OAI) and the digital technology that enables its existence. The researcher explains the crisis in scholarly communications and how open access (OA) can reform the present system. OA has evolved two systems for delivering research articles: OA archives or repositories and OA journals. They differ in that OA journals conduct peer review and OA archives do not. Discussion focuses on how these two delivery systems work, including such topics as OAI, local institutional repositories, Eprints self-archiving software, cross-archives searching, metadata harvesting, and the individuals who invented OA and organizations that support it.

(PS: I'm linking to a mirror of the journal because the journal home page doesn't link to any issues published since March 2004. (Hello, ALA!) I got the abstract from Erik Arfeuille's newsletter. I can't tell from the abstract whether the author has coined "Open Access Initiative" to refer to the OA movement or whether she really means the Open Archives Initiative.

Elsevier lobbying in the US

Tom Baldwin and Anna Stroman, British firms top foreign spending on US lobbyists, London Times, January 20, 2006. Excerpt:
British companies have spent more than $165 million (£93.7 million) since 1998 with an American lobbying industry that is being described by US Democrats as “part of a poison tree of corruption”. This week both the Republicans and the Democrats have announced proposals to clean up Washington lobbying after the scandal over Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to using gifts of money, lavish meals and foreign trips to buy political influence. Although British lobbying represents less than 10 per cent of this vast network’s earnings, British spending in 2004 totalled almost $30 million....According to Alex Knott, the political editor of the Centre for Public Integrity, British lobbying in Washington was higher than for any other country, and was more than the total spent by 35 American states. The highest spenders were GlaxoSmithKline ($32.4 million), BP ($26.8 million), HSBC ($23.8 million), Reed Elsevier ($12.5 million) and Reuters ($12.2 million). Defence manufacturers, such as Rolls Royce, have, Mr Knott suggested, obtained particularly good value for money.

Comment. Elsevier spent $12.5 million on lobbying in the US since 1998, the fourth largest amount of any UK company. This puts a number on an influence that we already knew existed. A key piece of Elsevier lobbying took place in the fall of 2004. In July, Congress directed the NIH to adopt an OA policy, in July and August the agency hammered out its first draft, and from September 2 to November 16 it collected public comments on the result. That version of the draft policy already retreated from the Congressional instruction to "require" OA but still included a firm six month deadline on deposits in PMC. Elias Zerhouni, Director of the NIH, later described the public comments as "overwhelmingly supportive". Four days after the comment period ended, on November 20, 2004, Zerhouni met with Crispin Davis, the Reed Elsevier CEO. Very soon after, Zerhouni decided to lengthen the permissible delay on PMC deposits from 6 to 12 months, contravening both the directive of Congress and the supportive public comments. I've heard that the decision came the day after the Crispin Davis meeting, though I have no proof. In any case, the decision was not announced until the final version of the policy was released on February 3, 2005. Timing is not causation and the timing itself is uncertain, but the lobbying and the result are both certain.

Update. For Elsevier's US lobbying outlays broken down by year, see William Walsh's 1/23/06 posting to Issues in Scholarly Communication. Not only did Elsevier spend more each year from 1998 to 2004, but the company's "annual spending on U.S. lobbyists increased 605%" during that period.

Update. For details on the bills and issues that occupied Elsevier's lobbying attention, at least in 2003, see William Walsh's 1/24/06 blog posting. It's a remarkably long list.

More on the OCA

Jeffrey Young, Scribes of the Digital Era, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 27, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
Brewster Kahle is mobilizing an army of Internet-era scribes who are fastidiously copying books page by page....Mr. Kahle, director of the nonprofit Internet Archive, is guiding a mass-digitization project called the Open Content Alliance, which was announced in October and is rapidly gaining partners. The alliance plans to take carefully selected collections of out-of-copyright books from libraries around the world and turn them into e-books that will be available free to scholars and anyone else who wants to view them, print them, or even download them to their own computers. The project has the backing of Yahoo and Microsoft, and many see it primarily as a response to the controversial book-scanning project led by Google....Although the Open Content Alliance has pledged not to scan copyrighted works without permission, thereby avoiding that thorny legal issue, the project could do as much to shake up the library world as Google's effort has. The alliance's undertaking is more than just a mass-scanning project — it is a new model for cooperation among libraries hoping to build their own digital archives of public-domain materials. Individual libraries have long worked on digitization projects on their own, but the new alliance promises to pool the digital content created by academic libraries. "It's a book-scanning initiative and a vision for an open library," says Mr. Kahle. Indeed, the alliance involves far more players than Google's project: So far 34 libraries, most of them at universities, have agreed to join and contribute material. And the Open Content Alliance will make its digital books more freely available, putting them online in a way that anyone, even companies other than Yahoo and Microsoft, can index and search the files, or even download the books for their own use....One challenge for libraries, of course, is finding the money to scan large quantities of books, even at 10 cents per page. Daniel Greenstein, executive director of the California Digital Library, says he hopes that libraries can contribute to the project by shifting some of the money they now spend on digital-book subscriptions to scanning books and adding them to the shared online collection...."We're going to spend the money anyway," Mr. Greenstein says. "Let's spend it more wisely."...Mr. Kahle says that the books will be given new life in digital form, and that they can be displayed in a number of ways. The archive has developed an on-screen interface that makes it easy to read and search each book. But online users can also request a printed and bound reproduction of a book by paying a small fee to a company that does the printing and binding. Soon the books may be able to be printed in Braille or in large print. They could even be downloaded to PDA's, cellphones, or other portable devices for reading on the go....Google's book-scanning project, meanwhile, is more restricted, and its leaders are far more secretive. Google officials have apparently developed a high-speed book scanner of their own, though they refuse to divulge details of how it works or say how fast it can scan books. Google also will not say how many books it has scanned so far from its partner libraries or even describe the types of books it has added....Google is also less open in the way it presents its books. For those in its collection that are in the public domain, Google allows users to see the full text, but there is no way to download the data or easily print the whole book, features that are allowed by the Open Content Alliance.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Needed OA experiments

Jan Velterop, Open access: facts and experiments, The Parachute, January 22, 2006. Excerpt:
In a discussion on the liblicense list, Joe Esposito recently made an interesting comment:
... the perception that [OA has a great deal of momentum] is causing some publishers to move more aggressively into OA "experiments" than they might otherwise if they had their facts straight.

...[Esposito] is specifically referring to recent measurements of the number of articles that are available with OA, which seem to support the notion that there is a growing momentum. I can reassure him. Publishers (at least the ones I regularly talk to), do not 'aggressively' move into experiments. Quite the contrary, is my impression. The 'facts' he is talking about are also rather difficult to establish without experiments, so any confusion about them may be caused precisely because publishers do not move more aggressively into experiments. What are some of the facts at hand that justify experiments? [1] A very small proportion of the officially published peer reviewed scientific literature is freely available with open access; [2] Much of the officially published peer reviewed scientific literature that is in some way available with OA, is OA only in the unofficial authors' versions; [3] Being peer reviewed by and officially published in scientific journal is what gives most articles their 'authority'; [4] This 'authority' also cleaves to unofficial authors' versions on open repositories, when the bibliographic reference of the official article in the journal is given; [5] The economic viability of traditionally published journals is almost entirely dependent on income from the dissemination function of the official publishing process (i.e. on the subscription income); [6] Unlimited dissemination is precisely what authors can achieve without the official publishing process and without appreciable cost, just by depositing their articles in open repositories.

Based on these facts, one could perhaps envision a set of experiments taking place. Before describing the experiments, though, I am making a few assumptions: a) conditions remain such as the social imperative 'publish or perish' and the need for peer review, and b) desiderata remain such as the economic self-sustainability of journals and the stability of the system. Experiments that could be done:

I. Co-existence. Can a journal thrive economically on subscription income if the total content is available with open access? Variables: author's version vs. published version; immediate OA vs. delayed OA; different disciplines. Given that such experiments measure the willingness of librarians and their superiors to maintain paid subscriptions in the long term, even though all content is freely available with open access, they can potentially take a long time to yield conclusive results, if ever.

II. Article charges. Can a journal thrive economically solely on processing charges per article, paid by or on behalf of the authors, and thus deliver full and immediate open access? Variables: different fee levels; different disciplines. Such experiments measure the willingness of funders and institutions to re-direct the money that is now spent on behalf of the readers on subscriptions, to spending it on behalf of the authors on article processing charges, thereby gaining the benefit of open access. At the same time they measure the willingness of institutions to accept a redistribution of the costs for scientific literature in a way that may make these costs higher than they were for research-intensive institutions (more authors) and lower than they were for teaching-intensive ones (more readers).

III. Transitions and hybrids. Can a journal thrive economically by giving Academia (via the authors) the choice, per article, of either paying article charges for those to be published with open access, or transferring exclusive rights to the journal so that the cost of articles to be published traditionally can be recovered via subscriptions?

IV. Scale. This is perhaps feasible as thought experiment. If I, II, or III succeed on the scale of one or a few journals, can it succeed on the scale of the majority of peer reviewed scientific journals? Thoughts and comments are eagerly awaited.

Another journal adopts the author-choice OA hybrid model

Endocrine-Related Cancer (ERC) has adopted a free access option for authors. From the site:
Authors may now choose to make their Research Papers published in the online edition of Endocrine-Related Cancer freely available to all, without access restrictions, immediately upon publication. This option is available for the special introductory price of US$1500 including VAT (sales tax). This includes the reproduction of colour illustrations in the online version (but not print). Note that this fee is unlikely to be enough to enable the journal to become reliant upon author charges alone, in place of subscription income, and so will be reviewed from time to time. In many cases your research funding body may well be willing to cover the fee. If you prefer not to pay this fee, you may still publish in this journal, but your Research Paper will initially be restricted to subscribers only, in the traditional way. In that case, your article will in any case become free to all twelve months after publication (in its final form). Please note that authors of Review Articles do not need to pay this fee, as these articles are free to all in any case. The same applies to papers published in certain special supplements. If you select and pay for the Free Access Option, the stipulation that you must embargo public release of any self-archived copy on a free online repository is waived. Please see our policy on self archiving for details. The other stipulations of our assignment of copyright form continue to apply.

ERC is published by the Society for Endocrinology. Also see the press release.

OA Neo-Latin colloquia

The Perseus Digital Library has released TEI-conformant, OA versions of 650 Neo-Latin colloquia. The source XML files are available under CC licenses. Thanks to Project Leader Ross Scaife.

The growth of OA: opportunities for libraries

Heather Morrison, The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Implications and Opportunities for Resource Sharing, Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 16, 3 (2006).
Abstract: The Open Access movement seeks to make scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles freely available to anyone, anywhere over the World Wide Web. There were some very significant developments in the area of Open Access (OA) in 2004, including statements by major funders in support of Open Access. There are now so many Open Access scholarly journal articles freely available, that, in the author’s opinion, being aware of, and using, the resources and related tools is now essential for libraries. Libraries can provide more resources faster for users by supplementing paid resources with ones that are Open Access. Library resources, such as link resolvers, are beginning to incorporate Open Access materials and web searches for Open Access materials. For example, the reSearcher software suite includes Open Access collections along with subscription-based resources in the CUFTS journals knowledgebase, and a web search for an Open Access copy of an article in the GODOT link resolver. SFX also incorporates Open Access journals. After exhausting more traditional resources, interlibrary loans staff are beginning to include Google searching in their workflow. This article will discuss what Open Access is, the dramatic growth of Open Access, and major collections, resources and tools. Implications, issues, and leadership opportunities for resource sharing specialists will be explored.