Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, March 18, 2006

More on OA to geodata

Scott Smith, The Emerging Free Geodata Movement, Smartspa, March 17, 2006. Excerpt:

Yesterday was an important day in the exploding field of geodata and mapping innovation. It marked the issuance of an open letter from Public Geo Data, an organization that opposes the current construction of the INSPIRE Directive, a directive of the Council of the European Union that proposes that geographic data gathered by government bodies within Europe should remain the property of those bodies and not be available freely to the public. Public Geo Data's position is that INSPIRE slows innovation and costs jobs.  Quoting the open letter:

This is an important issue as it is estimated that fully 80% of all information collected by government has a spatial component and geographic information is needed for environmental, census, and transport purposes among many others. Moreover state-collected geographic information is a public good and, as demonstrated by several studies, open access to it is the only way to realize its full social and commercial potential for Europe.

The Guardian carried a good article yesterday discussing some of the issues surrounding not just geodata but government-held data that is gathered using public funds. At the moment, the European Parliament is scheduled to vote on the issue June 13, so between now and then, much lobbying will be done on behalf of organizations looking to open access to public spatial information. Check the INSPIRE site to keep up to date on this issue.

OA podcasts in medicine

Dean Giustini, Open access (OA) medical podcasting, OA Librarian, March 17, 2006. Excerpt:
Over at UBC Google scholar blog this week, I blogged the top five (5) podcasting websites which were selected (unscientifically) as a librarian might select books - based on knowledge of what was available, credibility and/or reputation of any authors and publishers as well as evaluation of the quality/presentation of the information itself. Not surprisingly, whether or not the podcast was openly accessible was also important. In the final analysis, a number of excellent podcasts were ruled out as they were inaccessible, subscription-based or limited in terms of how the information was delivered (iPod only, for example).  What's my point here? In the post-textual web, the principles of open access will have to extend to audio and video formats, the web's new wave. Thus, the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA’s new audio commentary and the open-access Arizona Heart Institute all get top honours.  The AHI's multimedia podcasts on cardiovascular topics are free to all patients, and clinicians, and serve as a model in healthcare education. In medicine at least, the principles of open access should be extended to pod and vodcasting; these new types of sources should be made available to all care-givers and patients to improve the quality of patient care.

Limiting self-archiving to institutional repositories

Steve Oberg, Elsevier’s response to depositing articles in E-LIS, Family Man Librarian, March 17, 2006. Excerpt:

Recently I decided to explore E-LIS, an independent, international, open access repository of information (articles, papers, presentations, syllabi, etc.) relating to library and information science, with the goal of depositing some of my material there. One of the first things I wished to deposit was articles I had written for the journal, Serials Review, published by Elsevier. My sense was that Elsevier’s recent policy change for author copyrights allowed this but upon reviewing the terms again, I began to have doubts. Below is an email I sent to the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, who forwarded it on to Elsevier for comment and a response:

Recently I thought about the possibility of self-archiving articles I’ve
published in SR in an OA repository such as E-LIS. I thought that this was
specifically permissible under terms of copyright agreed to by Elsevier sometime back in 2004. However when I went over the conditions and terms it seems to me that this permission is institution-specific. In other words, if I worked at [XYZ University] and [XYZ University] had an IR then I could deposit any articles I’ve written for SR there with no problem. Can you tell me specifically if depositing them in a third party repository such as E-LIS is in violation of Elsevier’s terms?

Today I received Elsevier’s formal reply:

...Elsevier policy permits authors to post a personal version of the final paper on a personal site or their institute’s website. You are correct in assuming that we do not permit posting of the papers in a third party repository.

I am not a happy camper. This is an arbitrary distinction, in my view, particularly since I no longer have a direct institutional affiliation. (An email conversation on this issue with Peter Suber, author of the Open Access News blog as well as the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, confirmed this.) At the very least such contractual language as exists should be enhanced to make this distinction clear. It certainly isn’t clear now....

Comment. I'll elaborate. An OAI-compliant institutional repository has exactly the same reach and discoverability as an OAI-compliant disciplinary repository. Since nearly all institutional and disciplinary repositories are OAI-compliant, it's arbitrary to permit deposit in one kind and not the other kind. However, the two possibilities are not at all equivalent in cases like Steve's in which the author does not have deposit privileges at an institutional repository. Publishers that insist on this distinction either do not grasp the implications of OAI interoperability or want to place special burdens on authors without IRs or without institutional affiliations. One response, which unfortunately will not help Steve Oberg, is for more institutions to launch their own IRs. Another is for authors like Steve to post their work to a personal web site, but that is not as durable as putting the work in a repository.

David Lipman on PMC

Timmo Hannay has blogged some notes on David Lipman's recent talk at Nature HQ in London. Lipman is the Director of the US National Center for Biotechnology Information, which includes PubMed Central. Excerpt:
PubMed/Medline records have grown linearly since the late 1960s. But GenBank and other databases show closer to exponential growth. NCBI serves up to 1.4m users a day and these users are downloading ~2.25 Terabytes each day. Generally speaking, growth in usage parallels closely the growth in the amount of data in the database. NCBI spends 90% of its budget on people. 20% is for basic research with the other 80% involved in 'production'. 75% or more or the production side is involved with sequence data....

PMC started as an archive for journals who choose to deposit their content. XML DTD adopted by HighWire, JStor, PLoS, Atypon and others.

Portable PMC allows quick setup of a local mirror of PMC (e.g., Wellcome Trust and BL in the UK).

Literature Archiving Software Suite (LASS): Takes books and articles in NLM DTD and allows search, rendering for the web, etc. Now working on a Word-based authoring tool.

PMC submission system. PMC submission rate is still very low (<5% of NIH grantees), which was predictable because it's not mandatory and makes no difference to future funding. A lot of discussion now about whether it should be made mandatory. 80-85% of grantees know about the policy, but are often sketchy on the details.

Determining the copyright status of books for digitization

If you're curious how difficult it is for the University of Michigan to determine the copyright status of the books Google is digitizing from its library, see John Wilkin's slide presentation at the Reading 2.0 conference yesterday. Or see William Walsh's useful digest of the presentation, excerpting the key points from the most relevant slides.

OA mandates at universities and funding agencies

Stevan Harnad, Maximizing Research Impact Through Institutional and National Open-Access Self-Archiving Mandates. In Keith Jeffrey (ed.), Proceedings of CRIS2006. Current Research Information Systems: Open Access Institutional Repositories (in press), 2006.
Abstract: No research institution can afford all the journals its researchers may need, so all articles are losing research impact (usage and citations). Articles made “Open Access,” (OA) by self-archiving them on the web are cited twice as much, but only 15% of articles are being spontaneously self-archived. The only institutions approaching 100% self-archiving are those that mandate it. Surveys show that 95% of authors will comply with a self-archiving mandate; the actual expe-rience of institutions with mandates has confirmed this. What institutions and funders need to mandate is that (1) immediately upon acceptance for publication, (2) the author’s final draft must be (3) deposited into the Institutional Repository. Only the depositing needs to be mandated; set-ting access privileges to the full-text as either OA or Restricted Access (RA) can be left up to the author. For articles published in the 93% of journals that have already endorsed self-archiving, access can be set as OA immediately; for the remaining 7%, authors can email the eprint in re-sponse to individual email requests automatically forwarded by the Repository.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Editor's Forum from Scholarly Exchange

Scholarly Exchange, the free ejournal platform, has launched a web forum for editors of journals, especially SE-based OA journals. From today's announcement:
Scholarly Exchange, the free-and-sustainable e-journal platform, has started an open web forum for editors of scholarly journals....[T]he Editors' Forum offers practical discussions and information about ways to start and run an electronic journal. It serves as a gathering point for editors to ask questions about strategies, management, and technology and to share their practical experience. Focusing on issues related primarily to electronic journals but applicable to scholarly publishing in general, the forum is open to all editors and journal managers. Distinguished e-journal and open-access experts have agreed to join the discussions, as guest commentators. The Editors' Forum is designed to help with: [1] Basic issues: building communities of interest, recruiting editors, generating submissions, [2] Developing recognition: ISSN, indexing services, DOIs, [3] Archiving options: journal archiving options, sharing journal archives (OAI Harvester and LOCKSS), least-cost XML conversion resources, [4] Printing options: single-copy or short-run editions, best sources and prices, [5] Sustainability: making freely accessible journals feasible, revenue sources, subscriptions, submission or publication fees.

OA to genome sequences for 11 more mammals

Glyn Moody, The Power of Open Genomics, Open..., March 16, 2006. Excerpt:
The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has announced the latest round of mega genome sequencing projects - effectively the follow-ons to the Human Genome Project. These are designed to provide a sense of genomic context, and to allow all the interesting hidden structures within the human genome to be teased out bioinformatically by comparing them with other genomes that diverged from our ancestors at various distant times.  Three more primates are getting the NHGRI treatment: the rhesus macacque, the marmoset and the orangutan. But alongside these fairly obvious choices, eight more mammals will be sequenced too....If you are not quite sure whom to vote for, you might want to peruse a great page listing all the genomes currently being sequenced for the NHGRI, which provides links to a document...explaining why each is important (there are pix, too).  More seriously, it is worth noting that this growing list makes ever more plain the power of open genomics. Since all of the genomes will be available in public databases as soon as they are completed (and often before), this means that bioinformaticians can start crunching away with them, comparing species with species in various ways. Already, people have done the obvious things like comparing humans with chimpanzees, or mice with rats, but the possibilities are rapidly becoming extremely intriguing....And beyond the simple pairing of genomes, which yields a standard square-law richness, there are even more inventive combinations involving the comparison of multiple genomes that may reveal particular aspects of the Great Digital Tree of Life, since everything may be compared with everything, without restriction. Now imagine trying to do this if genomes had been patented, and groups of them belonged to different companies, all squabbling over their "IP". The case for open genomics is proved, I think.

Society journal published by Nature converts to hybrid OA

The British Pharmacological Society is adopting the author-choice OA hybrid model. (Thanks to medinfo.) From its press release (March 15):
The British Pharmacological Society (BPS) is pleased to announce that the British Journal of Pharmacology (BJP) will accept open access articles, subject to payment of a publication fee. The journal is moving to a mixed revenue model of subscription charges and publication fees. The open access option will be available to all authors submitting on or after 1 April 2006. For the remainder of 2006, the publication fee will be $2,500, €1850 or £1250 + VAT (where applicable). Articles published with a publication fee will be clearly identified in the online and print editions of the journal with a ‘BJP Open’ logo (BJPOpen). Editors will be blind to the author’s choice, avoiding any possibility of a conflict of interest during through peer review and acceptance. Authors paying the publication fee will be entitled to self-archive the published version immediately on publication, in the repositories of their choice, and in any format. Other articles will continue to be published under Nature Publishing Group’s (NPG) exclusive License-to-Publish, where NPG’s usual self-archiving policy will apply. Print subscription prices will be unaffected. This change follows the introduction of ‘Online Open’ on the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, published by BPS and Blackwell Publishing. BPS is committed to providing authors with all the relevant publishing options in this period of technology change, while protecting the financial foundations of its publications which support its charitable activities for the advancement of pharmacology. BJP is published by NPG on behalf of BPS.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

New IR at the Raman Research Institute

The Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, India, has launched an OA institutional repository. (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.) Congratulations to all involved at the RRI.

Bound by Law -- on copyright and creativity

Tales from the Public Domain: BOUND BY LAW? is a multiformat (html, Flash, PDF (hi-res, low-res), print) comic book from the Duke Law School's Center for the Study of the Public Domain. The book is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.
A documentary is being filmed. A cell phone rings, playing the "Rocky" theme song. The filmmaker is told she must pay $10,000 to clear the rights to the song. Can this be true? "Eyes on the Prize", the great civil rights documentary, was pulled from circulation because the filmmaker's rights to music and footage had expired. What's going on here? It's the collision of documentary filmmaking and intellectual property law, and it's the inspiration for this new comic book. Follow its heroine Akiko as she films her documentary, and navigates the twists and turns of intellectual property. Why do we have copyrights? What's "fair use"? Bound By Law reaches beyond documentary film to provide a commentary on the most pressing issues facing law, art, property and an increasingly digital world of remixed culture. This book is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. This comic book was made possible by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. It is a project of Duke's Center for the Study of the Public Domain, which focuses on the delicate balance between intellectual property and the public domain - the realm of material that is free to use without permission or payment.
[Thanks to Paula Kaufman's Issues in Scholarly Communication blog.]

Vint Cerf on OA

Bruce Cole, Uncharted Territory: A Conversation with Vinton Cerf, Humanities Magazine, March/April 2006. Cole is the Chairman of the US National Endowment for the Humanities. Excerpt (quoting Cerf):
There is a kind of disdain for anything that is published online even though, oddly enough, the same quality of filtering, evaluation, review, and the like can be applied to a paper that is published online as can be applied to one which is printed on paper. It seems to me that the Endowment could foster the creation of online journals with the same quality of review and therefore the same authority that the printed journals have. I'm sure that will cause some dislocations here and there, but I've become increasingly unhappy about the cost of the physical journals and the practice which, at least in my disciplines, have the authors paying page charges to get their papers published and then having libraries paying incredibly high fees for access to the printed journals, thereby limiting access by the researchers to this material, which is, in a sense, impeding research progress. We see pre-prepublication distribution online as an alternative and a faster alternative than waiting for the printed journals. The problem is that when tenure decisions come up, it seems the referencing of the printed journal is a necessity. I would love to see a change in attitude about that.

Does the OA movement need a central organization?

Richard Poynder, Where is the Open Access Foundation? Open and Shut, March 16, 2006. My excerpt is long because Richard is making many important points. But the original is considerably longer and I encourage you to read it.

While the term Open Access (OA) has its origins in the 2002 Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI), the concept and practice of OA has been around for at least fifteen years. Yet today there is no single universally agreed definition of OA. Not only is this unsatisfactory, but it is allowing opponents and foot-draggers to dilute OA's purpose. What the OA movement needs, suggests Richard Poynder, is a canonical definition of OA and an official organisation charged with overseeing and certifying OA initiatives....

I was not clear whether BJ [Biochemical Journal] is itself an open access journal. So I emailed the PR Company that had sent me the press release to find out. A short while later I received the answer: “I've had a chat with Audrey McCulloch at the Biochemical Society and she confirms that the Biochemical Journal is indeed an open access journal.”  This surprised me because when I looked at the BJ web site I found a page containing a long list of subscription options. These indicated that it costs from £1,630.00 to £2,118.00 a year to subscribe to BJ.   Of course, there is no reason why a publisher should not charge a subscription for its print journal while making its papers freely available on the Web....Looking at the BJ website, however, this did not seem to be the case.  As I was scratching my head over this I received an e-mail from Audrey McCulloch herself. “Perhaps I should clarify in what sense BJ is an 'open access' journal,” she wrote...."[Preprints] are freely available."  She continued: "Authors manuscripts then go through the copyediting, proofreading, typesetting....These 'value-added' publications are subscription-only for six months after they are published, and then made freely available."  So this means, I asked, that preprints are open access, but published articles are only available to paying subscribers? "Yes, that's correct,” confirmed McCulloch....

What do we conclude from this? I think we can confidently infer that the Biochemical Society's characterisation of BJ as an OA journal was not intended to mislead me, but simply further evidence (if it were needed) that many people continue to be confused about OA.

Indeed, OA advocates themselves are still puzzling over definitions and labels. Last week, for instance, Springer's Jan Velterop wondered aloud on his blog what constitutes an OA journal. Are they, he asked, "journals that publish OA articles, or journals that publish only OA articles?" The same question, he said, applies when seeking to define an open access publisher. After all, he said, if one restricts the term to those who only publish OA papers "one risks overlooking - no, one overlooks - all the open access articles that are published in journals that are not exclusively open access."  "Good point," responded OA advocate Peter Suber on his blog. "The BMC [BioMed Central] journals, for example, are unmistakably OA, but most provide OA only to their original research articles, not to their review articles."  Exploring the issue further, Suber added, "One property of OA journals is that they provide OA to their OA articles themselves and don't merely permit authors to do it through OA archiving. But that doesn't settle the question whether a certain portion of a journal's articles must be OA for the journal itself to be considered OA."  He continued, "It would be tempting to conclude that 'full OA journals' and 'hybrid OA journals' differ only in degree, not in kind. But that's not quite accurate either, since there's an important difference, in kind, between journals who let authors choose between OA and TA and journals that have already decided to make all their articles (of a certain kind) OA." How, I wondered, would self-archiving advocate Stevan Harnad answer Velterop's questions. "I think a fairer and more logical statement is that there are OA publishers, TA publishers, and hybrid OA/TA publishers," he replied. "However, I would insist that a publisher that makes all his articles OA online is a 100% OA publisher even if he still sells TA paper subscriptions, since OA isn't and never was, about free access to paper editions."...

What is also clear is that...there are some scholarly publishers - and those who represent publishers' interests - who are more than happy to exploit the current ambiguities surrounding OA....And as time passes, so publisher attempts to appropriate OA have increased both in frequency and egregiousness....

Nor is ACS the only scholarly publisher intent on making embargoed access synonymous with Open Access. Shortly before the ACS statement, for instance, the Nature Publishing Group (NPG) announced that it would encourage its authors "to submit the author's version of the accepted, peer-reviewed manuscript to their relevant funding body's archive, for release six months after publication."  NPG added that "authors will also be encouraged to archive their version of the manuscript in their institution's repositories (as well as on their personal web sites), also six months after the original publication." While OA advocates greeted the NPG announcement with enthusiasm some later saw NPG's weasel words for what they were. Since NPG had previously encouraged authors to self-archive immediately on publication, NPG was in reality introducing a six-month embargo where no embargo previously existed - a move Harnad immediately dubbed "Back-Sliding."...

In short, as publishers are coming under increasing pressure to make concessions to OA they are seeking to redefine it, both by diluting the definition of what an OA journal is, and by introducing self-archiving embargoes.  To be fair, there are two ways of interpreting this: one is that publishers are simply trying to ensure a gradual and orderly transition from Toll Access to Open Access: another is that they have embarked on a campaign intended to emasculate OA....

Indeed, one could justifiably argue that the OA movement has only itself to blame for the current situation, since it has signally failed to produce a canonical definition of OA. Thus while there have been a number of statements and declarations about OA - including the 2002 Budapest Open Access Initiative, the 2003 Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, and the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing - these all describe OA in slightly different ways. In addition, there is the BioMed Central Open Access Charter and the Public Library of Science [PLoS] definition of OA, both of which are different again.  And OA advocates have never sought to amalgamate these various descriptions in order to produce a single universal statement of what OA is, and what it entails.

True, in 2003 Suber made an unofficial attempt, but this tends to highlight the differences, rather than the similarities. Moreover, he omitted to include the Berlin Declaration in his analysis [PS: because it didn't exist at the time]. OA advocates often stress that the various definitions of OA agree on the fundamentals, but it is clear that the absence of a canonical definition is a source of considerable confusion, and leads to frequent factional sniping amongst OA advocates. Crucially, this state of affairs allows publishers to mix and match different aspects of the various definitions in order to overplay their OA credentials....[T]he lack of a single definitive description of OA also gives publishers and OA opponents wiggle room to seek to redefine OA for their own purposes....There is perhaps no better example of the risks inherent in this vagueness than the way that it is allowing publishers to equate embargoed access with Open Access. After all, since the OA movement has not sufficiently stressed that OA implies immediate access, it is often difficult to challenge such claims.

The BOAI, for instance, states that the prerequisite for OA is the "free availability [of scholarly papers] on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself."  This description makes no mention of the need for "immediate" access. (Neither does the Berlin Declaration)....

Aware of the growing risks of this lack of clarity, last year Harnad called on the BOAI signatories "to make explicit what was already implicit" in the BOAI.  In other words, he said, they should amend the BOAI statement to stress that OA "must be now and must be permanent (not, for example, a feature that is provided for an instant, a century from now).”...Harnad's call for clarification, however, fell on deaf ears. But that is hardly surprising, since the ambiguity surrounding OA is symptomatic of a more serious problem: the absence of any central OA body to oversee and direct the movement.  Who, after all, could have usefully responded to Harnad's request? Even had the signatories of the BOAI heeded it, they would not have been able to legislate for the OA movement as a whole.

For unlike those in the Open Source Movement (who in 1998 created the Open Source Initiative [OSI]), OA advocates have resisted the creation of an umbrella organisation, for fear that it would lead to factional infighting, and so slow the progress of OA.  But is this rational? After all, the Open Source Movement suffers from factionalism and infighting too....Yet despite this factionalism, and despite the insults and abuse, OSI has achieved a huge amount in the six years since it was established. A quick glance at its history is enough to see how successful an advocacy organisation it has been. It has also produced a canonical definition of open source software, and it plays a vital role in certifying open source software licences.

The OA movement then could surely only benefit from emulating the Open Source Movement.  Wouldn’t it be good, for instance, if there were an OA body able to certify anyone wanting to promote themselves as an OA publisher?  Likewise, wouldn’t it be great if there were an official body able to scrutinise publishers' self-archiving policies, and award a seal of approval?  And wouldn't it be easier to attract funding if there were a central non-profit OA organisation?...

The fact is that OA advocates have failed to claim ownership of their own movement; and they have not done so out of fear that they might unleash a wave of self-destructive infighting (as if infighting didn’t already take place). But unless they do so soon they risk the greater danger that opponents and foot-draggers will appropriate the movement, and emasculate it in the process.  Right now what the OA movement needs more than anything else is greater clarity, and a unified response to those who are trying to subvert it. But where is the Open Access Foundation that can provide this?     

Comment. There's a lot here and I don't have time for a full response right now. I'm on the road, at a meeting. But I'll look for a way to say more later. (1) I agree that the differences among the public definitions of OA contain wiggle room, and I agree that this has let some publishers "overplay their OA credentials". I acknowledged and addressed this problem not only in the SOAN article from 2003 that Richard cites, but in another from 2004. (2) While this flexibility has the harmful consequences that Richard and I both deplore, it also has some beneficial consequences. It reduces internecine quarrels among OA activists about purity and makes the OA movement what Americans call a big tent. It also supports the kind of self-organization that helps recruit allies and adapt to different circumstances. Richard may agree. But if he's also saying that we need to take stock and balance the costs and benefits, I agree. (3) There's a difference between clarifying the definition of OA and launching a central OA organzation. I see advantages and disadvantages to a central OA organization that I'll try to spell out sometime. Richard has seen them privately. (4) Stevan Harnad's call to amend the BOAI public statement did not fall on deaf ears. He sent it to me privately and I replied privately. (I convened the drafting group that wrote the BOAI.) (5) It's true that the BOAI statement does not address the immediacy of access. This didn't occur to us when we were drafting it. However, when we realized that we should address the issue, soon after launch, we added this Q&A to the FAQ:

Is open access compatible with an embargo period?

No. Open access is barrier-free access, and embargo periods are barriers to access. Many of the benefits of open access are not achieved when embargoes are in place. However, while delayed free access does not serve all the goals of the BOAI, it does serve some of them. Just as open access is better than delayed access, delayed free access is better than permanently priced access. Note that authors can always ensure immediate open access through self-archiving or by publishing in journals that provide immediate open access to their contents.

Interview with Greg Tananbaum

Gordon Freedman, Scholarly Publishing in the Digital World, educate/innovate, March 15, 2006. An interview with Greg Tananbaum, President of the Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress). (Thanks to William Walsh.) Excerpt:

GF: What’s unique about bepress in the world of scholarly publishing? Certainly, this capacity exists in a number of other companies.

GT: Because of our status as both a publisher of our own primary journals and our work as a software provider for institutional repositories, we have a rather unique view of many of the important issues facing scholarly publishing today. We see, for example, how the best elements of the traditional journal publishing system can be combined with the more recent phenomenon of open access. This has led us to champion quasi-open access for our own peer-reviewed journals....

GF: If I am a faculty member or university library, what is the value of bepress for me, for my institution, and for my field?

GT:...Because our technology is both flexible and easy to use, we have seen that the uptake ­– measured as content posted into an institutional repository – is substantially higher for our Digital Commons sites than for schools using the open source alternatives. The biggest challenge facing schools running institutional repositories today is how to fill them. Given our deep understanding of how the professoriate operates, we are able to give them a user experience that facilitates their ongoing participation. A specific example might help. Each month, Digital Commons authors receive an email telling them how many full-text downloads their posted materials have logged. The message also includes tips to help them publicize their materials, as well as instructions on how to post more content. We help make the authors stakeholders in their repositories, thus ensuring their ongoing participation....

GF: Are all your journals open? If so, what is the economic model that makes this capacity worthwhile to an academic department or to a group of faculty members?

GT: As I mentioned before, our peer-reviewed journals follow a quasi-open access model. Quasi-open access offers a middle ground between the existing poles of free open access and fee-based subscription access. Quasi-open access balances the need for cost recovery against authors' and editors' desire for maximum readership and distribution. Those without subscriptions can access any article by filling out a short form that allows us to inform their library of their interest in reading our journals. When libraries are convinced of sufficient interest in the journal, they subscribe. Afterwards access for all faculty, staff, and students at that institution is immediate and there are no more forms to fill out. Why do libraries subscribe to Berkeley Electronic Press journals? One simple reason is that if one’s community uses the journals, paying for them is the right thing to do. Beyond these moral obligations, our data indicate that readers completing the guest access forms represent somewhere between one-tenth and one-quarter of an institution’s likely readership. They are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to institutional interest.

New OA journal in LIS

Evidence Based Library and Information Practice is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by the University of Alberta Learning Services. The inagural issue is now online. (Thanks to the Creative Librarian.) From the site:
The purpose of the journal is to provide a forum for librarians and other information professionals to discover research that may contribute to decision making in professional practice. EBLIP publishes original research and commentary on the topic of evidence based library and information practice, as well as reviews of previously published research (evidence summaries) on a wide number of topics.

Report from UNESCO's Information for All Programme

Elizabeth Longworth (ed.), Living Information: Information for All Programme Report 2004/2005, UNESCO, 2006. Excerpt:
Access to information and knowledge is a core need for human development and well-being, enabling individuals, communities and countries to achieve their full potential and to improve their quality of life....UNESCO, with its mandate to promote the free flow of ideas using words and images, and to maintain, increase, preserve and disseminate knowledge, has thus established the Information for All Programme – it seeks to narrow the gap between the information rich and the information poor and to contribute to building Knowledge Societies. Many of the actions of the Information for All Programme are designed to set standards, raise awareness and monitor progress so as to achieve universal access to information and knowledge....This report provides an overview of IFAP’s work within its current three priority areas – information literacy, infoethics, and the preservation of information – over the last two years....

In parallel, handbook with essential information on a core set of issues is being developed. These include updating of national copyright laws, technological protection measures, the terms of protection, orphaned works, database rights, public lending right; trade agreements, the relationship between copyright law and contract law, open access publishing, Creative Commons licensing and international copyright developments. The handbook will also outline policy issues relevant to libraries and will contain guidance on advocacy for non-specialist librarians, thus comprising a key part of the online resources toolkit, a central reference for copyright issues for libraries and a handy glossary. It is therefore important to ensure that the information is sufficiently generic so that it can be re-used throughout the region and in different jurisdictions. In this sense, take-up, re-use and translation into local languages are part of the success of the project.

OA in Finland

Turid Hedlund and Annikki Roos, Open Access Publishing In Finland: Discipline-Specific Publishing Patterns In Biomedicine And Economics, a preprint forthcoming in the proceedings of the ElPub conference in Bansko, Bulgaria, June 14-16, 2005.
Abstract: Open access publishing strategies have traditionally been directed towards what has been regarded as a homogenous scientific community of universities, researchers and libraries. However, discipline specific practices in communication and publishing strategies are prevailing in different scientific areas. In this study we, argue that discipline specific publishing patterns may affect the ways that open access strategies can be adopted in different scientific areas. We characterise and identify incentives for publishing open access into factors depending mostly on the social environment and factors mostly depending on personal factors of the researcher. In the case study comparing the field of biomedicine and economics and business administration we were able to find out figures on the proportion, type and channel of open access publishing of scientific articles by Finnish researchers in economics and medicine.

Why we need RDF for useful OA to data

Eric K. Neumann, RDF — The Web’s Missing Link, Bio IT World, March 14, 2006. Excerpt:
You’d be hard-pressed to carry out any research project today without using the Web’s linked nature. The Web satisfies two large needs of science: as a resource to large and diverse data sets and as the primary communication system for scientific publishing and searching research discoveries. However, along with its increasing importance in R&D, its simplicity as linked pages based on HTML has also constrained its ability to more intelligently assist scientists in searching, sharing, and annotating data. Using HTML, data can certainly be pointed to via a URL, but its structure depends on externally defined formats. Even the use of XML doesn’t remedy this problem, as witnessed in the long process of defining document type definitions (DTDs): Without developing a parser for a predefined DTD or XML schema, no applications will be able to understand how you represent your data. Counter to the nature of the Web is the practice of defining data in one monolithic structure. Where does the data about a given gene end, and where does the pathway it is involved in begin? At the splice variant form, the modified protein level, or the complex it’s part of? The goal to connect complex information is not being advanced by quibbling over the boundary positions between biological, chemical, and medical object. Must the parsers be updated each time there is a new innovation in the science? How should we “link in” new data, annotations, and external references?...RDF is a W3C specification that provides the missing link required to do for data what HTML did for pages. RDF is central to the Semantic Web and is about linking data. It allows people to treat each data element more like a linkable document, which can be linked to any other data element.

Profile of DPubS

DPubS: preserving the past, creating the future for scholarly publications, Education Commons, March 5, 2006. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
Cornell University has something exciting in the works for readers and small publishers of academic journals, conference proceedings, and other scholarly works. To help institutions organize and publish material inexpensively - and therefore to maximize access - a team at the University Library is developing DPubS, an open-source electronic publishing platform. "Libraries have to buy scholarship from publishers," says David Ruddy, Head of Systems Development and Production at Cornell University Library's Center for Innovative Publishing. "Prices keep rising, and library budgets can't match the increase" - a predicament known to librarians as "the serials crisis." Not that DPubS is intended to put commercial publishers out of business. According to Tom Hickerson, Associate University Librarian at Cornell, "Our goal is not to compete directly with commercial academic publishers, but to provide alternatives. We want to give lower-cost journals access to cutting-edge functionality, while maintaining lower prices and open access distribution."

DPubS is open source and will be freely available....It originated in the Dienst system, a distributed digital library system developed by Cornell's Computer Science department in the mid-1990s. A few years later, recognizing the value of the code, employees at the University Library began to explore ways to use it as a platform for digital collections. In 2000, the Library decided to use this system, renamed DPubS, as the basis for Project Euclid, a Cornell-based electronic publishing initiative for math and statistics scholarly literature. Based on that success, the group applied in July 2004 for sufficient funding to make the software usable by other institutions. Generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has allowed the team to enhance the earlier versions of DPubS, transforming it into an innovative general-purpose publishing platform. The Cornell University Library team continues to develop the software, in partnership with the Pennsylvania State University Libraries and Press, who are helping to test and refine the system. Final release of the product is expected this year. The released version will support peer review, have extensive administrative functionality, and provide interoperability with open-source institutional repository systems such as DSpace and Fedora....Summing up, librarian Hickerson says, "DPubS is part of an effort by research libraries to be present at the creation of scholarly literature, rather than just acting as repositories. We may have a new publishing paradigm beginning to evolve, economically as well as functionally." Ruddy agrees. "There's a perceived need for a lower-cost, academically-owned marketplace for scholarship. DPubS is one such initiative. The hope is that it will be a catalyst for change in scholarly communications."

IRs for preservation

Marilu Goodyear and Richard Fyffe, Institutional Repositories: An Opportunity for CIO Campus Impact, Educause Review, March/April 2006. Excerpt:
As is often the case in situations in which there is no clear road back and no obvious path forward, leaders must be optimistic that the way will reveal itself once they take action. We believe that the institutional repository movement may offer an opportunity for CIOs to begin to address the needs of digital asset management and preservation on their campuses. Institutional repositories (IRs) are infrastructure and services that organize and make accessible the intellectual digital output of a single institution. Typically, IRs are used as tools for sharing and disseminating the scholarly knowledge created by faculty, researchers, or students to audiences outside the institution, for enabling this audience to find work by faculty and students more easily, for making the work more visible to colleagues, funders, and employers, and for helping to demonstrate the significance and relevance of the institution’s research activities. IRs are also often seen as tools for preservation.

More on open-source biology

Kenneth Neil Cukier, Navigating the future(s) of biotech intellectual property, Nature Biotechnology, March 8, 2006. Excerpt:
Support for open-source practices comes amid a deeper shift in how innovation happens. Although the private-sector is now shouldering more basic research, there is a growing preference among venture capitalists and acquisitive pharmaceutical firms for biotech companies with products that have some clinical validation, as a safeguard that they're picking a winner. The implication is that biotech companies won't be given the capital or time to do early-stage or risky research. And that, ironically, leaves a big opening that academia can fill because it can rely on the public purse, follow blue-sky inclinations and enjoy longer time-horizons. The risk to the biotech industry that will arise, if academia does move aggressively to fill this gap, is that the public and nonprofit sector will put greater pressure for bigger changes in the patent system. It is unclear whether academe has the political clout to change much, but the biotech industry ignores their gripes at its own risk.

OA symposium at Duquesne

Rachel Capp, Open Access: What Does It Mean for the Future of Academic Publishing? Duquesne University Times, March 15, 2006. Excerpt:
Over the past 10 years, libraries across the country --including Duquesne’s own Gumberg Library-- have faced increasing challenges in providing a breadth of quality, scholarly publications to their patrons. Currently, many national peer-reviewed scholarly journals are controlled by large publishers that charge exorbitant subscription fees to libraries. These fees are increasing at an alarming rate. Electronic resource subscriptions alone cost the Gumberg Library $1 million per year, meaning that other areas of the budget, such as book purchases, have to be scaled back. Under the current publishing system, faculty members do the research, write the papers and, in some cases, even pay a “page fee” to have their work published, yet the journal publisher owns the copyright and charges others to access the information. An exciting new revolution in scholarly publishing known as “open access” offers hope for the future. Open access seeks to make scholarly journals and full-text articles freely available via the Internet....While open access offers a promising solution, it does face some challenges. At the forefront of these challenges is a veritable Catch 22: in order to be successful, open access journals must develop reputations that can compete with those of traditional journals. However, many researchers are reluctant to publish in open access journals because they do not have the time-tested reputation of the traditional journals. Through education of university faculty and researchers, pro-open access organizations such as ARL hope to convince more scholars to use open access publications, thus bolstering their reputations to a level competitive with the traditional journals. Open access also raises questions about copyright enforcement, academic integrity and archiving information for the future.

On Wednesday, April 5, the Gumberg Library invites the University community, especially faculty, to attend a symposium on open access and what it means to the future of scholarly publishing. Open Access: Whose Research is it Anyway will be held from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Fisher Hall Conference Center. It will include a panel discussion and provide an opportunity for questions. The guest speaker will be Julia C. Blixrud, assistant executive director of external relations for the ARL and assistant director of public programs for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. Panel participants include: Dr. Rush Miller, director of University Libraries, University of Pittsburgh; Dr. Ellen Detlefsen, associate professor, School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh; Susan Wadsworth-Booth, director, Duquesne University Press; and Dr. Jeffrey Evanseck, holder of the Fr. Joseph Lauritis, C.S.Sp., Endowed Chair in Teaching and Technology, Duquesne University.

Comment. It's true that OA journals face this Catch-22. But not all OA is delivered through OA journals. OA archives or repositories do not face this Catch-22 at all. I discuss some solutions to the Catch-22 for OA journals in this 2004 article (Section 4, esp. pp. 13ff).

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

SPARC partners with Theoretical Economics

SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition issued a press release about its new partnership with Theoretical Economics. The first issue of the Open Access journal, published by the Society for Economic Theory, was released in early March.
The new, peer-reviewed outlet for high-quality research in economic theory provides an alternative to the Journal of Economic Theory and Games and Economic Behavior, both published by Elsevier.

My own quick and dirty research shows 2006 institutional subscriptions for Journal of Economic Theory $2,629, Games and Economic Behavior $737, Theoretical Economics $0.

The last part of the analysis may be too simplistic. Theoretical Economics doesn't charge for access, instead using a unique(?) two-stage author-pays funding model.

Submission fee: $75/paper; Society members 1 free submission/year (noncumulative); $35/paper, if all authors are from lower-income countries. Editors are not apprised of the size of the submission fee paid for a manuscript. Submission fees are not refundable, regardless of the disposition of the manuscript.

Publication fee: manuscript in LaTeX, in compliance with guidelines, no charge; papers in TeX or LaTeX not in compliance with guidelines, $5/journal page; papers not in TeX or LaTeX, $10/journal page.

Amedeo Challenge expands donor base

The Amedeo Challenge, which pays physicians to write OA textbooks, is now accepting small donations as well as large. (For the background, see my 3/3/06 posting.) Excerpt from Vaughan Bell on MindHacks:
Amedeo Challenge, the site aiming to fund the creation of high-quality open-access medical textbooks, is now taking small and private donations. On the donations page you can give towards a 'bounty' for the completion of a textbook on a number of different topics. Medical professionals and researchers can work towards creating books to claim the bounty. So far, online books on HIV and influenza have already been published and bounties are available for books on tuberculosis and viral hepatitis. Of interest to readers here might be proposed books on Alzheimer's disease, neurology and Parkinson's disease (I've just donated 50 euros towards the creation of an open-access textbook on neurology and can't wait to see it online). When completed the books will be freely available for online viewing, to print, and will not have restrictions to prevent them from being translated into other languages....Spread the word!

More on Stargate

Tracey Caldwell, Stargate opens up OAI access to all, Information World Review, March 15,, 2006. Excerpt:
Small publishers will be able to publish papers for open access following the University of Strathclyde’s Stargate (Static Repository Gateway and Toolkit) project. Funded by JISC, Stargate is exploring the use of simpler static repositories as a means of exposing publisher metadata to OAI-based disclosure, discovery and alerting services like Humbul within JISC’s Information Environment and on the internet. Static repositories allow smaller publishers to participate in Open Archives Initiative (OAI) services without setting up a full repository. John Robertson, Stargate project officer, said the OAI approach had the benefit of associating the publisher with the papers it publishes. “We want to promote the use of the OAI protocol primarily because it is easy to find papers online from an institutional repository but you don’t find a link to the publishers. The identity of the publisher is lost as the paper is associated with the author rather than the journal or issue.” Although the project will initially focus on e-journals, static repositories lend themselves to other types of publishing, including e-books, elearning materials and other digital resources....The project ends in May, by which time it hopes to have produced tools and guidelines for smaller publishers wishing to use static repositories....[A "static repository" is] an alternative to fully OAI-compliant repositories. Static repositories are aimed at metadata collections of between 1 and 5,000 records that are not able to host OAI PMH-compliant software.

The elements of the OA impact advantage

Stevan Harnad, OA Impact Advantage = EA + (AA) + (QB) + QA + (CA) + UA, a preprint, self-archived March 14, 2006.
Abstract: The OA impact advantage arises from at least the following 6 component factors, three of them (2,3,5) temporary, three of them permanent (1,4,6):
  1. EA: EARLY ADVANTAGE, beginning already at the pre-refereeing preprint stage. Research that is reported earlier can begin being used and built upon earlier. The result turns out to be not just that it gets its quota of citations sooner, but that quota actually goes up, permanently. This is probably because earlier uptake has a greater cumulative effect on the research cycle.
  2. (AA): ARXIV ADVANTAGE, the special advantage of self-archiving specifically in Arxiv for physicists, because it is a central point of call: OAI-interoperable Institutional Repositories is likely -- for many reasons -- to supersede this, so it will eventually make zero difference which OAI-compliant IR one deposits in, as access will be through OAI cross-archive harvesters, not directly through individual OAI Archives.
  3. (QB): QUALITY BIAS, arsing from article/author self-selection; this does not play a causal role in increasing impact: The higher-quality (hence also higher-impact) articles/authors are somewhat more likely to be self-archived/self-archivers in these early (15%) days of self-archiving: this bias will of course vanish as self-archiving approaches 100%).
  4. QA: QUALITY ADVANTAGE, allowing the high-quality articles to compete on a level playing field, freed of current handicaps and biasses arising from access affordability differences. A permanent effect.
  5. (CA): COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE, for self-archived papers over non-self-archived ones, in early (15%) days; this too will of course disappear once self-archiving nears 100%, but at this moment it is in fact a powerful extra incentive, for the low % self-archiving fields, institutions and individuals.
  6. UA: USAGE ADVANTAGE: OA articles are downloaded and read three times as much. This too is a permanent effect. (There is also a sizeable correlation between early download counts and later citation counts.)

Another step in metadata automation

The more we can automate the annotation of data files with metadata, the more we can save time and effort in depositing eprints in OA repositories. Even though the manual process is not very time-consuming or difficult, it's still a workflow bottleneck that slows our advance toward 100% OA. So I follow progress toward metadata automation.

Here's a nifty breakthrough that applies to photos, not eprints. Digital cameras already do a great job of adding metadata about the time, date, and camera settings to each image. Now Zonetag allows digital cameras built into cell phones to annotate each photo with its location, based on the location of the nearest cell tower. (Thanks to Richard Akerman.)

I can imagine applications down the road in which this technology would be useful for research, say, in geology or urban planning, especially after it (or more precise GPS technology) is built into high-end digital cameras. But even if it won't affect digital scholarship --much, yet--, I hope it stimulates creative thinking about metadata annotation for run-of-the-mill text files.

OA to flu data is a matter of life and death

Glyn Moody, Will Data Hoarding Cost 150 Million Lives? Open..., March 14, 2006. Excerpt:
The only thing separating mankind from a pandemic that could kill 150 million people are a few changes in the RNA of the H5N1 avian 'flu virus. Those changes would make it easier for the virus to infect and pass between humans, rather than birds....The good news is that with modern sequencing technologies it is possible to track those changes as they happen, and to use this information to start preparing vaccines that are most likely to be effective against any eventual pandemic virus....The bad news is that most of those vital sequences are being kept hidden away by the various national laboratories that produce them. As a result, thousands of scientists outside those organisations do not have the full picture of how the H5N1 virus is evolving, medical communities cannot plan properly for a pandemic, and drug companies are hamstrung in their efforts to develop effective vaccines.  The apparent reason for the hoarding - because some scientists want to be able to publish their results in slow-moving printed journals first so as to be sure that they are accorded full credit by their peers - beggars belief against a background of growing pandemic peril. Open access to data never looked more imperative.

Although the calls to release this vital data are gradually becoming more insistent, they still seem to be falling on deaf ears. One scientist who has been pointing out longer than most the folly of the current situation is the respected researcher Harry Niman. He has had a distinguised career in the field of viral genomics, and is the founder of the company Recombinomics. The news section of this site has long been the best place to find out about the latest developments in the field of avian 'flu. This is for three reasons: Niman's deep knowledge of the subject, his meticulous scouring of otherwise-neglected sources to find out the real story behind the news, and - perhaps just as important - his refusal meekly to tow the line that everything is under control. For example, he has emphasised that the increasing number of infection clusters indicates that human-to-human transmission is now happening routinely, in flat contradiction to the official analysis of the situation....Let's hope for the sake of everyone that WHO and the other relevant organisations see the light and start making all the genomic data available. This would allow Niman and his many able colleagues to monitor even the tiniest changes, so that the world can be alerted at the earliest possible moment to the start of a pandemic that may be closer than many think.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

New search engine for OA literature in chemistry

ChemRefer is a new search engine for OA literature in chemistry. From the site:
ChemRefer is a search engine that is designed to allow students, academics, chemical and pharmaceutical companies quick access to chemistry literature which is available on the internet. There is plenty of such literature around, but it is all located on different websites. Most such websites contain a mixture of accessible and restricted literature and it is frustrating to locate an article, only to find it restricted to subscribers. ChemRefer only finds literature that is full text and freely available (from many different sources).

OA citation advantage: due to OA or self-selection?

Philip M. Davis, Michael J. Fromerth, Does the arXiv lead to higher citations and reduced publisher downloads for mathematics articles? A preprint, self-archived March 14, 2006.
An analysis of 2,765 articles published in four math journals from 1997-2005 indicated that articles deposited in the arXiv received 35% more citations on average than non-deposited articles (an advantage of about 1.1 citations per article), and this difference was most pronounced for highly-cited articles. The most plausible explanation was not the Open Access or Early View postulates, but Self-Selection, which has led to higher quality articles being deposited in the arXiv. Yet in spite of their citation advantage, arXiv-deposited articles received 23% fewer downloads from the publisher's website (about 10 fewer downloads per article) in all but the most recent two years after publication. The data suggest that arXiv and the publisher's website may be fulfilling distinct functional needs of the reader.

Update. This article has now been published in Scientometrics.

Story of an IR: short, with a happy ending

Nigel Stanger and Graham McGregor, Hitting the ground running: building New Zealand’s first publicly available institutional repository. Discussion Paper 2006/07, Department of Information Science, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Self-archived March 9, 2006.
Abstract: A fully functional and publicly available, digital institutional repository (IR) in the space of just ten days? The technology was available, the time was right, the team was right and technical assistance from colleagues in Australia was on hand a mere cyber call away. This paper reports on how we were able to “hit the ground running” in building an open access IR in such a short space of time. What has taken our breath away is not so much the speed of the process, but the scale of responsiveness from the Internet community. Consequently, we also consider the research impact of more than 18,000 downloads from eighty countries, less than three months into the project!

Communication platform for those working to achieve WSIS goals

UNESCO has launched an online platform to assist communication and collaboration among those working toward the goals of the Geneva WSIS Plan of Action --which endorsed OA. (Thanks to Francis Andre.) Excerpt:
The participants of the Consultation meeting of action lines moderators/facilitators on 24 February 2006 in Geneva decided that, in order to launch activities under each Action Line and facilitate the initial contacts among facilitators and participants,...UNESCO should be provisionally appointed as the interim focal point for action lines falling in its areas of competence. Through this platform, UNESCO seeks to gather the opinion of those interested in these action lines on all aspects related to multi stakeholder implementation.
  • Action Line C3: Access to information and knowledge
  • Action Line C7: E-learning
  • Action Line C7: E-science
  • Action Line C8: Cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content
  • Action Line C9: Media
  • Action Line C10: Ethical dimensions of the Information Society

For example, click on Access to information and knowledge to post messages for others around the world working toward this goal of the WSIS Plan of Action.

Lessig joins Digital Universe advisory board

Lawrence Lessig has joined the advisory board for Digital Universe. For details, see today's press release.

More on tagging eprints in OA repositories

Ben Lund, Tagging and Bookmarking In Institutional Repositories, Nascent, March 13, 2006. A description of the new Connotea tool for tagging eprints in Eprint repositories, by the developer. Excerpt:

Social bookmarking is the process of saving your bookmarks (or links, or favourites, whichever term you prefer) on a website and making them available for others to see. Most social bookmarking services use tags to help users organize their collections. Tags are just keywords or labels for bookmarks - for example, if you bookmarked this article you might tag it with "institutional repositories", "connotea", "bookmarking" and "NPG". is perhaps the best know social bookmarking service. Connotea is a similar service that is tailored specifically for use by scientists and other academics....

Each article in [an institutional] repository has an information page listing the title, authors, where and when it was published, and giving a link to the author-deposited copy. What we've done is to create an extension to EPrints that supplements this information with a Tags and Related Articles section, plugging it into either or Connotea. In fact, since the software behind Connotea is open source, this tool will work with any service based on Connotea Code.

The Tagging Tool, as we call it, lists tags that have been applied to the article you're viewing in the repository. Clicking on a tag brings up a list of other articles that share that tag. You can also quickly save the article to your own collection on or Connotea. All this happens within EPrints, without you having to leave the article information page.  The tool also shows related articles directly. It calculates these based on shared tags and popularity - articles that share more tags with the one you're looking at will appear higher in the list, with articles that have been bookmarked by more people appearing higher than less popular articles. This method is a bit experimental, and we're hoping for feedback from repository users about this, as well as the other features. If you're an institutional repository administrator, download and install the tool - it has minimal impact on the rest of EPrints, so is easy to experiment with. If you're an IR user, please point your administrator in the same direction.

What does this development mean for institutional repositories? At a functional level, it offers an alternative way of navigating the repository content and finding relevant material - one that is based on readers’ behaviour and opinions. At the wider lever, because repository content will be bookmarked directly in online, public services like Connotea or, it will increase the exposure of that content, and connect it more directly with the rest of the academic literature. All good things, we hope.

The work behind this development was funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee, as part of their PALS Metadata and Interoperability Projects 2 programme.

Monday, March 13, 2006

JISC wants long-term OA for UK theses

JISC is funding a study of the adequacy of EThOS for long-term OA to UK doctoral theses. Excerpt:
The JISC invites tender proposals to consult with stakeholders within Higher Education on the acceptability of the EThOS model for a sustainable, national service to ensure long term open access to electronic PhD theses. The consultation study should assess this in the context of other potential models. The output of the consultation will be a clear set of recommendations that will enable JISC and other stakeholders to set up a service that is acceptable to the Higher Education community. Funding of up to £20,000 including VAT is available for this study. The deadline for submission of proposals is 18th April 2006. It is envisaged that the evaluation will commence by 8th May 2006 and be completed by 30th June 2006. Further information including the full Invitation To Tender is available [here].

SocioFakt launches an OA edition

SocioFakt, the Serbian Social Sciences Citation Index, has an offline edition, an online priced edition, and now an experimental OA edition, SocioFakt open access. From the site:
SocioFakt online is an abbreviated, web version of [the offline edition of] SocioFakt, indexing the same journals, but starting from 2000 on....SocioFakt open access is a trial, improved version of SocioFakt online. In SocioFakt open access, not only metadata (titles, abstracts, cited references, etc.), but also full texts of articles are entirely searchable. Metadata for some journals indexed in SocioFakt open access are prepared in Dublin Core Standard for bibliographic metadata exchange, to be accessible by international services and databases, such as Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), extending visibility of articles contained in the database.

Academic publishers and authors like Google book-scanning

Maija Palmer, Publishers' soul searching over Google plan, Financial Times, March 13, 2006. Excerpt:
Publishers have been left divided over Google's plan to scan books digitally and make them searchable on-line. Opponents are concerned at potential violation of copyright and remain suspicious of how Google may seek to use scanned digital copies of books. Nigel Newton, chief executive of Bloomsbury, publisher of the Harry Potter saga, caused a stir at last week's London Book Fair when he called on internet users to boycott Google in protest over the book search project. He warned publishers of the danger of handing over their content to a third-party internet company. Academic publishers, however, support the Google project, which they see as opening up new audiences and marketing opportunities for their scholarly works. Ben Stebbing, head of sales and marketing at Manchester University Press, said: "The books we publish are typically very specialist - monographs of a professor's life work on say Ottoman artefacts - and would normally sell just 500 copies at most. Through Google book search we've got a free marketing tool reaching audiences we'd have no hope of reaching otherwise." Manchester University Press used to send out catalogues a few times a year to 10,000 academic institutions, libraries and booksellers across Europe, and another 40,000 in the US. After listing many titles on Google's book search, it has received more than 50,000 hits a week, resulting in what Mr Stebbing estimates to be "several thousand" additional sales....Mark le Fanu, general secretary of the Society of Authors, said: "There is no consensus among authors. Academic writers see Google as a new and exciting way to help market books that have otherwise found it hard to secure space in bookstores, but more commercial writers are concerned that Google is building up this vast and profitable catalogue on top of copyrights for which they have not paid.

Stevan Harnad's model OA policy for universities

Stevan Harnad, Generic Rationale And Model For University Open Access Self-Archiving Mandate, Open Access Archivangelism, March 13, 2006. For universities considering an OA policy, model policy terms and supporting arguments. Excerpt:
Universities are invited to use this document to help encourage the adoption of an Open Access Self-Archiving Mandate at their institution....

4. Action: This university should now mandate self-archiving university-wide

4.1 This university should now maximise its own research impact and set an example for the rest of the world by adopting a self-archiving mandate university-wide.

4.2 As indicated by the JISC survey and the empirical experience of the other 3 mandating institutions (3.8): there is no need for any penalties for non-compliance with the mandate; the mandate (and its own rewards: enhanced research access and impact) will take care of itself.

4.31 What needs to be mandated:

  • immediately upon acceptance for publication
  • deposit in the university’s Institutional Repository
  • the author’s final accepted draft (not the publisher’s proprietary PDF)
  • both its full-text and its bibliographic metadata (author, date, title, journal, etc.)

(Note that only the depositing itself needs to be mandated. Setting the access privileges to the full-text can be left up to the author, with Open Access strongly encouraged, but not mandated. This makes the university’s self-archiving mandate completely independent of publishers’ self-archiving policies.)

4.32 The Eprints software allows authors to choose to set access as Open Access (OA) or Restricted Access (RA):

  • OA: both metadata and full-text are made visible and accessible to all would-be users web-wide
  • RA: metadata are visible and accessible web-wide but full-text is not

4.4 The decision as to whether to set full-text access as OA or RA can be left up to the author; 93% of authors will set full-text access as OA (4.2); for the remaining 7%, the Eprints software still makes it possible for any would-be user web-wide to request an eprint of the full-text automatically by email -- by just cut-pasting their own email address into a box and clicking; the author immediately receives the request and can instantly email the eprint with one click. The result will be 100% access to all Southampton research output, 93% immediately and directly, with one keystroke, 7% indirectly after a short delay, with a few extra keystrokes by user and author....

Update. Also see the self-archived copy of these recommendations.

Should libraries be political about free access?

Fiona Bradley, Enabling the information commons, in Proceedings ALIA 2004 Biennial Conference, Queensland, Australia, 2004. Self-archived, March 12, 2006.
Abstract: As more libraries embrace the term 'information commons' to name services and symbolise their mission, this paper explores the meaning of the concept in Australia and the US. The public library as we know it was founded on principles of providing free access to all. This is now threatened by the growth of information as commodity, and has led many to question the controls and costs of information in society. This paper examines threats that emerge from commercialisation, legislation, funding, and the changing role of libraries. The responses to these threats by libraries, individuals and organisations are detailed. Projects and alternative models that aim to protect the information commons are discussed. This paper asks if libraries should be political about this issue, and what the consequences of such action may be on funding, intellectual freedom, trust and communities. What steps can librarians take to ensure access to information for all individuals in the future? Do the information commons represent a new direction for librarianship, or a renewed emphasis on traditional values?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Call for OA to flu virus genome data

Helen Branswell, Labs shouldn't hoard flu data: Researcher, Toronto Star, March 12, 2006. Excerpt:
A leading scientist in the field of genetic sequencing is calling on publicly funded U.S. researchers and research organizations to throw open their collections of H5N1 avian flu viruses to allow others to work toward lessening the pandemic threat the virus poses. Steven Salzberg wants the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as well as researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health to place their virus sequence data in open-access databanks on an as-processed basis. He hopes such a move would entice scientists elsewhere, as well as governments in H5N1-afflicted countries, to end a pattern of virus hoarding many believe is undermining the world's ability to battle H5N1. "I think what ought to happen is that the U.S., starting with people funded by NIH and the CDC itself ought to start releasing all of their data and all of their samples — and lead by example," says Salzberg, director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Maryland. "Because one complaint I've heard from other scientists in other countries is: 'Hey, the CDC in the U.S. doesn't release all their data. So why should we?' And that's a very legitimate complaint."...Salzberg was involved in the historic human genome sequencing effort as well as the teams which sequenced the first plant genome, Arabidopsis (mustard weed) and the parasite that causes malaria. Most recently, he has been working on an NIH-funded project that is sequencing vast numbers of human flu viruses.

He is adding his voice to a campaign started by Dr. Ilaria Capua. An Italian influenza researcher, Capua is challenging the current system which gives a small network of prominent flu labs preferential access to data by virtue of the fact they do testing and surveillance for the World Health Organization. These labs register their findings in a secure database so that they and the WHO can track changes in H5N1 viruses. But those virus sequences are slow to trickle out to the rest of the research world. (Typically, scientists only post data publicly when they publish findings in a journal, a process that can take months or more.) Capua was offered a chance to join the 15 labs with access to the WHO's secure database after she sequenced H5N1 bird viruses from Nigeria and Italy, according to a recent article in the journal Science. She turned down the offer, choosing instead to place her sequence data in the open access database Genbank. Limiting who can work on the WHO data isn't just hindering science's ability to crack the mysteries of H5N1's incredible virulence, critics say. It also hampers efforts by countries outside the WHO network to keep their H5N1 diagnostic tests up to date....The WHO is hearing the growing chorus of complaints. But to some degree its hands are tied. The viruses belong to the countries where they were collected. WHO cannot force them to share. And it doesn't own — or pay — its collaborating labs, which are doing huge amounts of science for the global good.

Update. The Daily Kos is collecting links to related calls for OA to flu genome data. (Thanks to Scott Burns.) Excerpt:

We need your help to make sure scientists in the US and abroad working on this issue have access to all the data they need. The next effective vaccine may require sequences from Indonesia, China, or who knows where....The US should be leading the way in transparency and open access. Don't let politics get in the way of science. Support Dr. Capua and the other renowned scientists here and abroad in liberating the H5N1 sequences and let them be deposited in GenBank and the other Open Access repositories.

Update. Recombinomics, Inc., a for-profit company working (inter alia) on H4N1, supports the call for OA to sequence data collected by WHO. From its 3/10/06 press release:

Recombinomics fully supports the appeal by Dr. Llaria Capua of the OIE/FAO Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza at the Istituto Zooprofilattica Sperimentale delle Venezie in Padova, Italy to allow influenza researchers worldwide open access to H5N1 sequences collected by the WHO. Currently, most of the recently collected H5N1 gene sequences are sequestered in a private, WHO controlled database, which can only be accessed by 15 laboratories. These sequences should be made available immediately to the general scientific community. The sequences are essential in pandemic vaccine development and should be accessible to all. This week the United States government announced a new pandemic vaccine target, the H5N1 sequence from a patient in Indonesia. Although available sequences indicate several pandemic vaccine targets would be desirable, the utility of the chosen sequence cannot be independently evaluated because none of the H5N1 sequences from human patients in Indonesia are publicly available.

PS: Does Recombinomics provide OA to its own flu virus sequence data? The press release doesn't say.

Presentations at OA Law symposium

Draft presentations and podcasts of the actual presentations at the symposium, Open Access Publishing And The Future Of Legal Scholarship (Portland, Oregon, March 10, 2006), are now online.

The value of OA to conference proceedings

Heather Morrison, ASIST 2005: Sparking Synergies: Bringing Research and Practice Together, OA Librarian, March 11, 2006. Excerpt:

Papers from the American Society for Information Science & Technology's (ASIST) 2005 Annual Meeting, Sparking Synergies: Bringing Research and Practice Together, are now online and freely available in E-LIS....The benefits of open access to these conference papers are obvious. Everyone with access to the internet has ready access to the conference proceedings, not just those who could attend the conference or purchase the proceedings. This helps us all to bridge the gap between theory and practice. This is one of the most exciting transformative possibilities of the combination of the electronic medium and the world wide web, that is, the ability to develop evidence-based practice in areas like medicine and librarianship, most effective through the optimum dissemination of research, which is open access.  The ready findability of the conference papers enhances discovery of these high-quality resources by people interested in the paper topics. No wonder, then, that the US E-LIS Editorial Team received a substantial and enthusiastic response to the question about archiving of these papers; in record time and without reminders, about half the authors responded with an enthusiastic yes, please make my work available in E-LIS, with only one author opting out.  One might speculate that this initiative will enhance the impact not only of the individual authors, but also that of the sponsoring body, ASIST, as well. After all, people are more likely to find the high-quality work that is presented at the ASIST annual meetings....Open access archives facilitate access - but also preservation....A full back-up of E-LIS is made weekly, and an incremental back-up is made daily.

Consequences of widespread OA

Zhigang Suo, What if all papers become openly accessible? Applied Mechanics News, March 11, 2006. Excerpt:
Of all industries that the community of Applied Mechanics is deeply involved with, none is more in a state of flux than the Publishing Industry....It is conceivable that eventually anybody can publish anything in repositories like the arXiv. This scenario is not as radical or futuristic as it may sound; anybody can already post anything online, at almost no cost. Such repositories formalize this practice by providing two ingredients essential to scholarly publishing: trustworthy timestamps and permanent accessibility....Here I wish to...focus on a hypothetical question: What if all papers have already become openly accessible?...Authors own their papers, except they may not delete papers from repositories....Journals select papers and comment on them. [PS: Such journals are often called overlay journals.] When all papers are in open-access repositories, journals will still serve important functions. Once a journal selects a paper from the repositories, possibly peer-reviewed, the paper will automatically gain a special status of being associated with the journal. The same paper can be selected by multiple journals. All journals will rest on the same raw data: papers in the repositories. Journals that select lasting papers and host incisive discussions will be the winners....Since 1991, an author can post a paper in the arXiv, and then publish the same paper in journals like Physical Review Letters. The arXiv has not diminished the preeminence of such journals....Start pages– websites designed for reading news – will allow you to see new papers published in your favorite journals at a glance. You can also subscribe the results [of such a feed]....In effect, you have just created a journal on the subject of [your search terms]....Once all papers become openly accessible, you can...tag them with phrases like “biomechanics” or “nanotechnology.”...[W]hen you search for such a tag, you will see a list of items tagged by other users, and the number of users that have bookmarked each item. Therefore, [tagging tools like] make it easier to find the best, or at least the most popular, items for a search.

OA v. TA for the primary sources of law

Olufunmilayo Arewa, Open Access in a Closed Universe: Lexis, Westlaw and the Law School, a paper presented at the symposium, Open Access Publishing And The Future Of Legal Scholarship (Portland, Oregon, March 10, 2006).
Abstract: This paper considers issues of open access from the context of the broader legal information industry as a whole. The structure and contours of the legal information industry have shaped the availability of online open access publishing of legal scholarship. The competitive duopoly of Lexis and Westlaw is a particularly important factor in considerations of open access. Also significant is the relationship between Lexis and Westlaw and law schools, which form an important market segment for both Lexis and Westlaw. This paper begins by considering the important role information plays in the law. It then notes the increasing industry concentration that has occurred over the last 10-15 years among legal and other publishers. This industry concentration is believed to have contributed to significant price increases for scholarly journals generally. This industry concentration has potentially significant implications for questions of access, particularly in the current environment of increasing electronic dissemination of legal information. In addition to examining characteristics of the legal information industry, this paper also looks at the role of dominant players such as Lexis and Westlaw and the ways in which information dissemination has changed with the advent of electronic legal information services. Consumers of legal information, including law firms, law school users and the general public are also considered, particularly with respect to the implications of legal information industry organization and operation for questions of access to legal information.

Stevan Harnad's suggestions for the DFG OA policy

Stevan Harnad, Optimizing Open Access Guidelines of Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Open Access Archivangelism, March 12, 2006. Excerpt:
The Open Access (OA) guidelines of Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) are very, very welcome, but I hope that a few seemingly minor details (see below) can be revised to make them an effective model for others worldwide....The first problem concerns this clause:
"recommended encouraging funded scientists to also digitally publish their results and make them available via open access"

On the one hand, this clause is too weak: It is specifically because the NIH only "recommended/encouraged" that its public access policy has failed and now needs to be strengthened to "required/mandated." On the other hand, the present clause is far too vague and ambiguous....Recommended re-wording:

"require funded scientists to also self-archive their published results in an online repository to make them available via open access"

Comment. Stevan makes five other recommendations and I support them all, especially the shift from a request to a requirement. See my 3/7/06 comment on the DFG policy.

International Breastfeeding Journal - new OA journal

International Breastfeeding Journalis the 87th independent, Open Access journal hosted by BioMed Central. This paragraph caught my attention in the journal's General policies:
International Breastfeeding Journal's articles are archived in PubMed Central, the US National Library of Medicine's full-text repository of life science literature, and also in repositories at the University of Potsdam in Germany, at INIST in France and in e-Depot, the National Library of the Netherlands' digital archive of all electronic publications. The journal is also participating in the British Library's e-journals pilot project, and plans to deposit copies of all articles with the British Library.
International Breastfeeding Journal - Fulltext v1+ (2006+); ISSN: 1746-4358.