Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Open CourseWare updates

The March issue of the MIT OpenCourseWare Update is now online. This issue contains updates on OCW projects at ParisTech, JohnsHopkins, Tufts, and Utah State Universities, as well as projects in China, Japan, and Vietnam.

Days 2-3 at Berlin 4

Richard Seitmann has reports on Day 2 and Day 3 of the Berlin 4 conference --in German, for Heise Online. (I blogged his coverage of Day 1 on Wednesday.)

New OA repository for Indian astrophysicists

The Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIAP) has launched an OA institutional repository. (Thanks to EngLib.)

Update on growth of OA

Heather Morrison, The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: March 31, 2006 Update, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, March 31, 2006. Excerpt:
In the last quarter, over 780,000 records have been added to OAIster, suggesting that those open access archives are beginning to fill! There are 170 more titles in DOAJ, likely an understated increase due to a weeding project. 78 titles have been added to DOAJ in the past 30 days, a growth rate of more than 2 new titles per day. Disciplinary archives are showing remarkable growth. E-LIS has been increasing at the equivalent of 56% annually. Differences in growth rates suggest the possibility of a life-cycle factor in open access archives growth, perhaps initial slow growth, followed by very rapid growth, then a more steady growth as the archive matures....The most notable increase is the addition of over 780,000 records to OAIster, the equivalent of a 50% annual increase. This rate of increase doubles that of 2005 (25%). This evidence suggests that those open access institutional archives are beginning to fill! Among the disciplinary archives examined, the highest growth rate was shown at E-LIS, with an equivalent of a 56% annual increase. The longer-established disciplinary archives showed impressive but slower growth rates: RePEC, 25%, and arXiv, 12%. One possible explanation could be a life-cycle factor for successful disciplinary archives, with a relatively high percentage growth rate at an early stage, followed by slower percentage growth at a more mature phase. This will reflect, in part, the larger size of the repository. It takes more records to create a 12% increase in a large repository than a 50% increase in a small one. Data from the Canadian Metadata Harvester may indicate another potential life-cycle effect. That is, the Canadian repositories showed a growth rate equivalent to less than 12% per year. The difference between the Canadian open access archives data increase and the OAIster increase (50%) may reflect the relative newness of many of the Canadian repositories. While delayed free access is not true open access, the 200,000 articles added to the Highwire Free program - an equivalent of a 72% annual increase - does represent a dramatic increase in free access. DOAJ includes 170 more titles now than on Dec. 31, 2006, an equivalent annual growth rate of 34%. This percentage is likely an understatement, as DOAJ has been undertaking a weeding project to remove titles no longer meeting DOAJ criteria....

AdSense supporting OA in the developing world

Carolyn O'Hara and Travis Daub, Google's hidden payroll, USA Today, March 28, 2006 (reprinted from the Christian Science Monitor). Excerpt:
Jayant Kumar Gandhi, a former software engineer in New Delhi, is one of hundreds of thousands around the world on Google's shadow payroll. In his spare time, Mr. Gandhi runs a free computer help website and recently began running ads by Google on his homepage as part of Google Adsense, a program that pays website publishers for advertising space. When visitors click on the ads on Gandhi's site, Google makes a small profit from the advertiser, and in turn, pays a percentage of that profit to Gandhi. Such clicks can translate into pennies — or dollars — a day for a Web publisher. "I had no intentions of using it for more than a week," Gandhi says. "I didn't believe the stories that Adsense paid decent money. I ignored them as a marketing gimmick." But Gandhi's Adsense profits have exceeded his wildest dreams. He now earns about $1,000 a month from the program, the same salary he previously earned as a software engineer. His new income has allowed him to leave his job and return to school. "Today I am able to sponsor my higher studies because of Adsense," he says....Dr. Rodolfo Rafael, who owns a small medical clinic in San Fabian, Philippines, says the Adsense earnings from his medical website allow him to "dream big" and reinvest in his medical practice. Their experiences are shared across the developing world. In Cairo, Mohamed Sallam was grounded for health reasons from his job as an airline steward, and he now spends time maintaining a Web forum devoted to discussions of Islam. He earns most of his income, about $500 a month, from Adsense....Deepesh Agarwal, who runs a small cybercafe in Rajasthan state, India, draws about 90% of his income, or $1,500 a month, from his Adsense earnings. It is a princely sum in a state where the average income is just $300 a year. "Adsense has changed my life," Mr. Agarwal says. "I can afford things that I was not able to before. I am planning to buy a new car. I can save for my future."...The program is a big revenue generator for Google, too. The company earned some $2.7 billion in Adsense revenues last year. Google refuses to disclose the exact percentage it pays out to Adsense member sites, but recent news reports have put that figure as high as 78.5 cents on the dollar. "We do not disclose [the revenue share] for different reasons," says Brian Axe, an Adsense group product manager at Google. "But it is more than fair. [These success stories] bring a smile to our faces."...Thanks to Adsense, a blogger in New Delhi can earn the same 5 cents for an ad-click as a blogger in Detroit. For many Adsense users in the developing world, that opportunity has become perhaps the most unintentional — and most successful — development program to spring from the online revolution.

PS: Also see my February article on Google AdSense ads for open-access journals.

Kate Corby reviews John Willinsky

Kate Corby, Review of "The Access Principle", Education Review, March 29, 2006. A review of Willinsky's book (MIT Press, 2005). Excerpt:
I know John Willinsky to be an energetic and engaging speaker, so I couldn’t resist dipping into his new book, The Access Principle, for what I hoped would be a good read. I was not disappointed. Willinsky takes up the complex issue of open access publishing and does a terrific job of explaining why this issue is becoming increasingly important for academics in any discipline. It is unfortunate that many academics feel that assuring access to research is not central to their work. They are engaged in attracting funding, completing research and publishing the results. Finding their publications to build further research proposals is the problem of subsequent researchers. Most researchers want to publish their findings in the highest prestige journal possible essentially, as Willinsky shows, making a leap of faith that their contributions will reach a large audience and make a favorable impression on those holding the purse stings at institutions and grant making organizations....One thing that delays progress is the complexity of the issue....One of the ways Willinsky brings clarity to the situation is by consistently insisting that academic researchers are in the business of growing the world’s knowledge base....Willinsky makes a strong case for the contention that the aggressively competitive role commercial publishers play in academic publishing has had a negative impact on access for everyone, not just smaller schools and poorer countries....

The almost unbelievably high figures on readership for open access journals attest to the demand for scholarly information, presumably stifled only by accessibility. Willinsky openly admits the utopian quality of the open access movement, but also points out that the current publishing model is unsustainable, both in this print to electronic transition period, and in the wholly electronic period that is surely right around the corner. He makes solid points about alternative models readily available, as for example the fact that book publishers have rarely demanded that authors sign over their copyright. He also ventures into a utopian future by discussing cooperative opportunities for institutions and professional organizations to spend the money they currently spend individually for library subscriptions or journal production in ways that guarantee access to all while maintaining financial viability for scholarly publications.

Perhaps the strongest point this book makes is that openly accessible scholarly information is more valuable that information published in journals with limited access. If citation counts and numbers of readers are indicators of the value of an item, then open access materials freely available on the web are the most valuable information we have. This is not the conventional wisdom of the day, which holds that peer reviewed materials in high prestige journals is our most valuable information.

March issue of HEP Libraries Webzine

The March issue of CERN's High Energy Physics Libraries Webzine is now online. Here are the OA-related articles.

  • Joanne Yeomans, CERN's Open Access E-print Coverage in 2006: Three Quarters Full and Counting. Abstract: "CERN's open access e-print repository, CERN Document Server (CDS), contains open access full-text copies of nearly three quarters of its own recently-authored documents. As a result of retrospective scanning projects, just over half of all documents written since CERN's creation in 1954 are available. Metadata harvesting from a variety of external sources contributes to the identification of CERN-authored documents such that close to 100% are believed to be found. Full-text files are obtained through author submission, retro-scanning and upload from external sources. A growth in the numbers of metadata records and full-text files is demonstrated between 2005 and 2006 and the improvements can be linked to certain projects carried out by the Library staff. Ongoing and future projects to capture missing files include scanning projects, attempts to raise author awareness, and direct author contact."

  • Anne Gentil-Beccot, 2005, the Year CERN Ran for Open Access. Abstract: "CERN has always actively supported the principles of Open Access, for example in its convention, by the creation of its document repository, and by signing the Berlin Declaration in 2003. But in 2005 the activity increased significantly. Signature of a new publication policy has taken place, creation of a dedicated website, financial support has been given to an open access journal, and some major events promoting Open Access have been organised... All these milestones are described in this article."

  • P. Rajendiran, Electronic Grey Literature in Accelerator Science and Its Allied Subjects: Selected Web Resources for Scientists and Engineers. Abstract: "Grey literature Web resources in the field of accelerator science and its allied subjects are collected for the scientists and engineers of RRCAT (Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology). For definition purposes the different types of grey literature are described. The Web resources collected and compiled in this article (with an overview and link for each) specifically focus on technical reports, preprints or e-prints, which meet the main information needs of RRCAT users."

UQaM will sign Berlin Declaration next week

The Université du Québec à Montréal will officially sign the Berlin Declaration on April 5 at 11:30 am, becoming the first North American university to do so. At the same time, it will relaunch its institutional repository. Watch for further announcements.

The PLoS model for OA journals protects editorial independence

Jeffrey Hawkins, Fired CMAJ editors speak out Lecture stresses value of editorial autonomy, Globe and Mail, March 31, 2006. Excerpt:
For the first time since they were fired from the Canadian Medical Association Journal in late February, John Hoey and Anne Marie Todkill spoke yesterday about what they believe editorial independence means in medical-journal publishing and what is needed to safeguard it. The former editors gave a lecture called "Entitlement and independence in medical discourse" to about 150 faculty members and students at McMaster University in Hamilton, in which they stressed the importance of editorial autonomy....In his opening remarks, [Dr. Hoey] said "a journal belongs to readers, editors and editorial boards -- not professional associations. "The owners get to pick the editor, but after that they should leave the editor alone." For the most part, Dr. Hoey addressed where he thinks medical journals are heading, with a strong emphasis on open-source on-line publications, such as the San Francisco-based journal Public Library of Science. "They have the advantage of not being dependent on advertising dollars," he said.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Science Commons signs the Berlin Declaration

Science Commons has signed the Berlin Declaration. Director John Wilbanks explains why:

I'm in Golm, Germany at the Berlin 4 Conference on Open Access. It's been a wonderful week here and the movement behind open access is really remarkable.  I signed the Berlin Declaration on behalf of Science Commons yesterday. It's an important step in connecting the philosophy of a statement like the Declaration with the practice of the Creative Commons copyright licenses that implement Open Access philosophy in a free, legal manner. To be clear, Science Commons is not engaged in writing new copyright licenses: Creative Commons licenses already implement the Declaration, are already international, and are used by a large number of Open Access journals.  There are too few signatories to the Declaration in North America. We'll be encouraging our partners in the Neurocommons project and other work to examine the Declaration and sign up for the scientific benefits of Open Access to their institutions and their own research.

Posting mathematical proofs to arXiv without formally publishing them

Tony Fitzpatrick, Collaboration, computers changing the nature of modern mathematical proofs, Krantz says, Washington University Record, March 31, 2006. Excerpt:
A proof is a finalized set of statements claiming to solve a problem. Today, many mathematical papers claiming proof of a solved problem often are posted on a non-peer-reviewed, preprint server called "arXiv," located at Cornell University and approved by the American Mathematical Association. "I think that arXiv is a great device for dissemination of mathematical work," said [Steven Krantz, professor of mathematics]. "But it is not good for archiving and validation. The reason that arXiv works so well is that there is no refereeing. You just post your work and that is it. "Furthermore, those interested in certain subject areas are automatically notified of new postings. The work gets out there quickly, and it's free. Everybody has access to arXiv. But there is no peer review. "Publishing is a process that involves vetting, editing and several other important steps. We must keep that issue separate from dissemination. And dissemination is important in its own right. But it's a separate issue."..."People have been discussing [Grisha Perelman's proof of the Poincare conjecture, posted to arXiv] now for more than two years, and many believe it to be correct. The ICTP News has in fact announced in its June 20, 2005, newsletter, that the Poincare conjecture is now proved. Period." But Krantz went on to note that Perelman has given a series of public lectures on the proof, but that he has not submitted the papers on arXiv for publication anywhere, even after Krantz, editor of The Journal of Geometric Analysis, has offered to publish anything that Perelman would like to say. But Perelman has not responded to the offer. Krantz said that the task of validating the proof is so daunting that no single mathematician would be able to verify it because it demands the knowledge of difficult low-dimensional topology, Alexandrov theory — not well-understood in the West — differential geometry and partial differential equations.
PS: Washington University told the same story in a press release in February. See my 2/19/06 blog posting for a comment.

Notes on the Michigan mass-digitization symposium

Eric Lease Morgan wrote detailed notes on the University of Michigan symposium, Scholarship and Libraries in Transition: A Dialogue about the Impacts of Mass Digitization Projects (Ann Arbor, March 10-11, 2006).

Michael Geist calls on Canadian government to mandate OA to publicly-funded research

Simon Chester blogged some notes yesterday on a public talk by Michael Geist. Unfortunately, we don't know the occasion or event. According to Chester, Geist argued that "Government funding should require research to be open access." I'll blog Geist's words if I can find the text online.

Update. Geist was delivering the 2006 Hart House lecture at the University of Toronto, "Who owns creativity? What is wrong with copyright?"

Update. Joe Clark has blogged more detailed notes on Geist's talk, though he's equally brief on the call for a Canadian OA policy: "Choose research: Open-access scientific publication, especially for federally-funded research (including some of his, he told us)."

Update. A podcast of the lecture is now available. So is the full text.

Authors are not waiting for preservation guarantees

Stevan Harnad, Formaldehyde and Function, Open Access Archivangelism, March 30, 2006. Excerpt:
On Thu, 30 Mar 2006, Helen Hockx-Yu wrote in JISC-REPOSITORIES:
"I should be grateful if anyone can provide me some evidence to back the following statement:
'Concern of longevity has contributed to the lack of active engagement from many researchers [with institutional repositories]. Guarantee of long-term preservation helps enhance a repository's trustworthiness by giving authors confidence in the future accessibility and more incentives to deposit content'
"I guess longevity here also applies to the financial sustainability of the repository itself as a business operation, in addition to its content."

The statement is (1) not based on evidence at all, but pure speculation and (2) speculation not on the part of the content-providers (i.e. the authors...)...but on the part of others, whose a priori concept of an institutional repository is that it is for long-term preservation (rather than for immediate access-provision and impact maximisation)....[I]t would be absolutely absurd of their employers and funders to mandate self-archiving for the sake of long-term preservation! Preservation of what, and why? Articles are published by journals. The preservation of the published version (PDF/XML) is the responsibility of the journals that publish it, the libraries that subscribe/license it, and the deposit libraries that archive it. None of that is the responsibility of the author or his institution, and never has been. Hence it is ridiculous to think the reason authors are not self-archiving today is because they are fretting about preservation!  Nor is there the slightest evidence that the 15% of articles that has been self-archived spontaneously in central or institutional repositories has vanished or is at risk! Arxiv content is still there today, a decade and a half since its inception in 1991, under nonstop use. CogPrints contents likewise, since its inception nearly a decade ago. Ditto for the IRs that have been up since GNU Eprints was first released in 2000....

More on the accuracy of robot identification of OA articles

Stevan Harnad and Chawki Hajjem, Manual Evaluation of Robot Performance in Identifying Open Access Articles, Open Access Archivangelism, March 30, 2006. Excerpt:
In an unpublished study, Antelman et al. (2005) hand-tested the accuracy of the algorithm that Hajjem et al.'s (2005) software robot used to identify Open Access (OA) and Non-Open-Access (NOA) articles in the ISI database. Antelman et al. found much lower accuracy (d' 0.98, bias 0.78, true OA 77%, false OA 41%), with their larger sample of nearly 600 (half OA, half NOA) in Biology (and even lower, near-chance performance in Sociology, sample size 600, d' 0.11, bias 0.99, true OA 53% false OA 49%) compared to Hajjem et al., who had with their smaller Biology sample of 200, found: d' 2.45, beta 0.52, true OA 93%, false OA 16%.

Hajjem et al. have now re-done the hand-testing on a still larger sample (1000) in Biology, and we think we have identified the reason for the discrepancy, and demonstrated that Hajjem et al.'s original estimate of the robot's accuracy was closer to the correct one.  The discrepancy was because Antelman et al. were hand-checking a sample other than the one the robot was sampling: The templates are the ISI articles. The ISI bibliographic data (author, title, etc.) for each article is first used to automatically trawl the web with search engines looking for hits, and then the robot applies its algorithm to the first 60 hits, calling the article "OA" if the algorithm thinks it has found at least one OA full-text among the 60 hits sampled, and NOA if it does not find one....

Boost for the ODF

Thursday, March 30, 2006

More journal cancellations from high prices than OA archiving

Eugene Russo, Open Access Not Yet a Major Cause of Journal Subscription Cancellations - Library Survey, March 30, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
The proliferation of open access content is not a big contributor to the cancellation of journal subscription, according to a survey of librarians undertaken by the U.K.-based Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP). The survey of 340 librarians, mostly based at academic institutions in the U.K. and the U.S., found that the availability of content via open access archives ranked far behind other factors in determining cancellations. The most important factor was...faculty no longer requiring the journal; declining usage and prohibitive price were the next most popular reasons for cancellation. However, a significant percentage (54) of respondents said that availability of open access archives is an important or a very important factor in determining cancellations now. Also, 81% think it will become important or very important in the next five years, according to the survey.

Strategies to fill IRs regardless how we read the OA impact advantage

Dorothea Salo, Rolling with the punches, Caveat Lector, March 27, 2006. More on Phil Davis' study concluding that the correlation between OA and citation impact is not due to OA itself but to authors selecting their best work for OA archiving. Dorothea doesn't argue that Davis is right, but does argue that his conclusion can support effective new strategies for filling institutional repositories. If Davis is right, then we argue that researchers are making their best work OA. If not, then we argue that OA increases citation impact. Excerpt:
I hope I’m not the only repository-rat in existence to see an obvious and compelling new story to tell. “The best researchers are going OA —so you should too!” I like this story. It should play well. Researchers always have their eyes on their field’s hotshots.

Cytology's argument for OA, including OA from society publishers

Vinod B. Shidham, Lynn Sandweiss, Barbara F. Atkinson, First CytoJournal Peer-Reviewer's Retreat in 2006 - Open access, peer-review, and impact factor, Cytojournal, March 27, 2006. An editorial.
Abstract (provisional): CytoJournal organized its first Peer-Reviewer's Retreat of 2006 during the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology Annual Meeting at Atlanta on Feb 12, 2006. The major topics discussed were open access, peer review, and impact factors. Representative participants volunteered to join the task force to prepare an instructional guide for peer-reviewing cytopathology manuscripts. Concern about CytoJournal's Impact factor was discussed. A feedback to its reader and authors was recommended. Impact factor needs at least three years of journal statistics. It is only possible after two years from the time a journal is first accepted by Thomson-ISI for citation tracking. CytoJournal is still too new for an impact factor to be calculated. However, general progress of CytoJournal suggests an encouraging pattern for high impact factor.

Excerpt from the body of the paper:

We all sweat as academician[s] to create wonderful sculptures in the form of published research in the hope of sharing it with all our colleagues and the general public. With the traditional model for publishing scholarly work, we have to lose the copyright (and in reality the only right with reference to that work) and turn it to a close custody with restricted access. Open access is now a reality and is widely appreciated. It does not need hightech deduction to understand the benefits and philosophical principles of open access. However, we as authors and the general public have to be more proactive and imaginative to create a more robust sustainable model for generations to come. Traditional methods of publishing have done an excellent job with the resources and technology available at the time. Today with all the advances in communications technology, digitization, internet, archiving, memory cost, and so on, it is a high time to think and revolutionize our attitude towards the way we publish our work....In [the traditional subscription] model, only those of our colleagues who are lucky to pay for the journal access can read your publication. Is this restricted access what we want as a researcher? And if not, why should we follow such a flawed unfavorable model? In the past the answer was simple - we did not have any alternative!...But any new model, however powerful and beneficial it may be, has to evolve on all fronts including financial. Success of any enterprise depends on its financial viability. Open access is showing tremendous success even on that front....[A]ll professional socities, associations, and funding agencies strongly consider supporting open access and extend opportunity to their constituents to publish their work in open access to further their ultimate mission of disseminating scientific information to fulfill their public responsibility....What can we do as individual academician? The first step would be to question current publication model and insist on the open access model to our respective societies, including free publication in society journals for all their members. It could be argued that those members who are not interested in publishing may discontinue their membership. However, a few studies presented at the International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication at Chicago in September 16, 2005 showed that membership is not affected by choosing open access option. Table of contents comparable to a hard copy of the journal could be e-mailed periodically to all members saving significant resources and costs spent on journal printing and mailing....It would be unusual to find a research generated by publisher’s funds for publishing in their journals after paying due honororium to the researcher. Thus vast funding is spent at present on the research, but most of such funded research is lost ultimately to non-open access model of publication. If only a tiny fraction of this enormous fund is invested with sincere commitment, most of such research could be rightfully salvaged to be channeled to open access mode for general public good in future.

Another argument for a strong OA policy from the RCUK

Stephen Pincock, UK knowledge transfer found lacking, TheScientist, March 29, 2006. Excerpt:
Britain's Research Councils lack the internal skills base to do an efficient job of knowledge transfer, the authors of an internal report on the subject told the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology today (March 29).  Richard Brook, director of the Leverhulme Trust, John Murphy from aerospace firm BAE Systems and Barbara Doig from the Scottish Executive, were commissioned by the Research Councils to conduct an "external challenge," and examine how well the eight government-funded councils transfer knowledge to and from business and the wider community.

Their report is still in the draft stage, and is not scheduled for publication until late April or May, a spokesman for the umbrella group Research Councils UK told The Scientist. But under cross-examination by the committee of politicians, the authors confirmed that it contains "some fairly strong messages."  Among those messages is the view that "there are not sufficient skilled people in house in the Research Councils to carry out knowledge transfer effectively," said Brook. The Research Councils are far from alone in suffering this shortage, he said, but nevertheless it was something that could be improved. One possible solution could be to use some kind of external facilitator to make improvements.  Brook also said that the Research Councils had a “rather limited” view of knowledge transfer, and tended to think of it as being a one-way, outward process....

Another area for improvement is coordination between the seven research councils, Brook said. In particular, the umbrella organization Research Councils UK could be better utilized for that purpose. "I think our view is that RCUK isn't being used as effectively as it could be," he said, adding that part of the difficulty arises because the individual research councils want to retain autonomy.  Murphy noted that RCUK does have a dedicated knowledge transfer group, but said "it could do better." The research councils did engage in some sharing of good practices in knowledge transfer, he said, but again "there is big scope for improvement."  Today's evidence hearing was part of an ongoing investigation by the select committee into the knowledge transfer activities of the Research Councils. The 11-member committee is empowered by parliament to examine the spending, policy and administration of the Office of Science and Technology and other science-related public bodies.

More library-hosted OA journals

The University of British Columbia Library hosts two new OA journals. (Thanks to Dean Giustini.) Excerpt:

  1. Transnational Curriculum Inquiry: The Journal of the International Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies...

  2. New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry...

UBC Library will host the OA journals without charge, for now. Faculty interested in having ejournals hosted by UBC Library sign an agreement outlining the responsibilities and liabilities for the Library and participating ejournals. The agreement indicates that the Library will offer server space and the OJS software to store and disseminate the contents of the ejournals. Each of the journal publishers will be provided with administrative control to allow them to set up their own online area for their respective journals.  Bronwen Sprout, the Digital Initiatives Librarian, says that "This could potentially develop into a much larger initiative with the Library assuming an important role in supporting and encouraging new models of scholarly communication on the UBC campus."

VITAL repository software at five more universities

VTLS has announced that VITAL, its open-source repository software, has been adopted by Oxford University and four Australian Universities in Project Arrow.

Searching PubMed for free full-text articles

PubMed has enhanced the ways in which users can filter or limit their searches. One of the enhancements lets users limit searches to articles with free full-text online.

How will OA affect library technical services?

Amy E.C. Koehler, Some Thoughts on the Meaning of Open Access for University Library Technical Services, Serials Review, February 20, 2006.
Abstract: Many studies of the Open Access (OA) movement analyze the problems of cost, author, and publisher reactions to OA, or the fluidity of the movement. Very few, however, investigate how library technical services have already been impacted by OA. How do collection development librarians identify and select material in these models? How do acquisitions librarians license or otherwise gain access to the materials? How are these materials to be maintained and preserved? The author surveys how OA in its various forms impacts the primary functions of technical services in academic libraries.

Access policies and European library consortia

Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen and four co-authors, Consortia in Europe: Describing the Various Solutions Through Four Country Examples, Red Orbit, March 2, 2006.
Abstract: This article describes and discusses consortia models in Europe. Emphasis is given to those consortia that support content provision and access to electronic information resources in society. Four country cases [Finland, Greece, Russia, UK] are introduced as examples of the heterogeneous solutions chosen by the consortia. The main results and impact of the consortia are discussed. International cooperation has played an important role in the development of consortia in Europe. Regional and global collaboration initiatives are also discussed.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Richard Poynder interviews Jay Rosen

Richard Poynder has posted his interview with Jay Rosen, a leader of open-source journalism. This is the latest installment of The Basement Interviews, Poynder's blog-based OA book of interviews with leaders of many related openness initiatives.

Day 1 of Berlin 4

Richard Sietmann, Informationsversorgung an den Hochschulen immer schwieriger zu erfüllen, Heise Online, March 29, 2005. A report on Day 1 of the Berlin 4 meeting, now in progress.

Max Planck will pay processing fees at NJP

The Max Planck Society has agreed to pay the article processing fees for its faculty when they publish in the OA New Journal of Physics. From yesterday's announcement:
In a move to open-up access to scientific research, an initiative announced today will enable German scientists to publish their research free of charge in New Journal of Physics (NJP), the online open-access journal jointly owned by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft. The Max Planck Society (MPG), a leading German research organisation, will pay the NJP article publication charge centrally for all of its scientists who submit work to the journal before the end of 2008. NJP was one of the first open-access, electronic-only journals, publishing original research articles across the whole of physics. Permanently free to read, NJP is funded solely by article publication charges. The journal has grown by more than 900% since 2001 and over 40,000 NJP articles are now downloaded each month. NJP’s official impact factor has risen from 2.480 in 2003 and is currently 3.095. Ken Lillywhite, journals business director at Institute of Physics Publishing said, “We are delighted to maximize the opportunity for researchers at Max-Planck institutes to benefit from publishing with the journal. This will help NJP establish itself yet further as a premier research journal serving the whole physics community. Receiving the endorsement of a research organisation with the international stature of the Max Planck Society is a key development for the journal’s open-access publishing model.” Kurt Mehlhorn, vice president of the Max Planck Society said, “According to the Berlin Declaration the MPG advocates the publication of scientific works in journals which are dedicated to open-access. The MPG aims to find solutions that support further development of the existing financial framework of scientific publishing. I am strongly convinced that offering our scientists the opportunity to make their papers open-access will be a success because it provides authors with extra choice and will improve access to published articles....”

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Interim results from Johns Hopkins repository software study

ProjectRepository from Johns Hopkins University has released some interim or preliminary findings. Excerpt:
With funding from the Mellon Foundation, the Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins University has conducted an analysis of repositories and services based on a methodology for connecting user requirements with repository programmatic features. The Sheridan Libraries considered a diverse range of content types and end user services by developing and gathering numerous scenarios from multiple institutions, and collaborating particularly with MIT, UVA, and ProQuest to evaluate DSpace 1.3.2, Fedora 2.0, and Digital Commons. In all cases, we worked with the “out of the box” system and documented APIs.

During the Mellon Foundation’s Research and Instructional Technology (RIT) Retreat in 2006, MacKenzie Smith described three aspects of interoperability: semantic, protocol and functional. This analysis examined the protocol aspects by assessing the existing protocols of JSR-170, DR OSID, and ECL, and the functional aspects by testing the documented APIs from the aforementioned systems that can interface readily with applications. While the specific results from this analysis are noteworthy, it is worthwhile to affirm the importance of the methodology and the recommendations for next steps....From these [user] scenarios, we attempted to draw an explicit connection between elements defined in the scenario and specific repository features, which would be mapped to documented APIs. This connection would allow different individuals to understand repository needs in different contexts. For example, an end user might focus on scenarios to identify or articulate particular needs whereas a developer or programmer might focus on the repository features that relate to the scenarios. Initially, we felt that moving from scenarios to use cases to repository features would provide an explicit path for mapping between end user needs and technical specifications. However, our experience over the course of the project led us to alter this approach. We ultimately identified a set of repository features that encompasses a broad range of content types and service requirements, though the connection between the scenarios and repository features is implicit, reflecting the tacit knowledge of the project team gained through this analysis and previous repository-based projects such as the Archive Ingest Handling Test.

The set of repository features was used to conduct the analysis of DSpace, Fedora, and Digital Commons, and the repository API specifications JSR-170, DR OSID, and ECL. It is important to note that our analysis focused on the ability of each of these systems to support specific functionality through documented APIs. Future work should include additional analysis of other means for supporting functionality (e.g., user interface or application based import or access), and of additional systems (e.g., ePrints).

Search engine for OA chemistry lit now in a free toolbar

ChemSpy is offering a free toolbar for the ChemRefer search engine, which specializes in the OA chemistry literature.

New OA journal on internet science

The International Journal of Internet Science is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal published by the Saarland University and State Library. (Thanks to Working Notes.) The inaugural issue is now online. From the site:
The International Journal of Internet Science is an interdisciplinary, peer reviewed journal for the publication of research articles about empirical findings, methodology, and theory in the field of Internet Science. It provides an outlet for articles on the Internet as a medium of research and its implications for individuals, social groups, organizations, and society....This journal combines Internet Science with Open Access. Conduct your research on the Internet, study the Internet, and make the papers with your results freely available on the Internet via this journal.

More on university support for OA journal fees

The University of Chicago Library has a web-form suggestion box whose ideas appear on a public blog. (Good idea.) Here's an unsigned suggestion from yesterday:

Some journals like Nucleic Acids Research (NAR) start to change their policy. They start to provide "Open Access," but will charge the authors for publication fee. If the University have paid for annual membership, the publication fee will be much lower. For example, NAR charges $950 for authors from member inst., but $1900 for authors from non-member inst. Acutally, the University membership fee is only $2700 annually. Therefore, if the University did not pay the membership, the University community is very likely to pay much more for the publications than for the subscription. So, I propose the Library consider to pay for the membership. If needed, we can communicate with the University authority to find a optimal solution for the University as a whole.

(background: open access journals make their contents freely available online. Instead of charging subscription fees, most [PS: actually fewer than half] open access journals charge authors who submit manuscripts for publication. For more information, see the Open Access Overview.)

Currently, there is no official University policy regarding who pays the submission fees to a journal. Although the Library has purchased one open access "membership" (to BioMed Central), our position is that grant-funded research should have publishing costs written into the grant, or that University departments (possibly in conjunction with the Library) assume such costs as part of the "administrative overhead" of research.  The question of open access funding is still in very early stages, and we hope to continue discussing financial support for University authors with other areas of the University. In the meantime, I note that Nucleic Acids Resarch offers a partial or full waiver of charges for authors who can't afford the submission charges.

Four great web sites, including OAN

David Bollier, Four Great Websites on the Knowledge Commons, On the Commons, March 27, 2006. Excerpt:
In my constant effort to winnow timely and wise insight from the gushing cataract known as the Internet, I occasionally come across real gems. I thought it might be useful to showcase some of the commons-related sites that I have come to appreciate.

The Cooperation Commons is a fairly new website and blog, but it already has a wealth of great material and links of interest to commoners. The site, administered by Paul Hertzog and Mike Love, aims to “catalyze an interdisciplinary study of cooperation” to help solve social dilemmas. A “social dilemma,” as the site explains (paraphrasing UCLA sociologist Peter Kollock), “is a situation in which individual rationality leads to collective irrationality, or more simply put, what seems best for you isn’t best for the collective (including you).”...Another terrific site in the same general neighborhood is Michel Bauwens’ Foundation for P2P Alternatives. Since peer-to-peer networking is a key template for the emerging economy and social life, the material on the site, I believe, holds a lot of clues about the future shape of things. The site has expanded its contents recently, and now consists of a blog, wiki, newsletter on P2P developments and an overview of participatory media developments. A lot of material to pore through, but it’s all nourishing and well-organized.

Finally, two other sites that speak intelligently about the knowledge commons.  Aram Sinnreich and Marissa Gluck, have started the RadarWaves blog as part of their new Los Angeles-based Radar Research consulting firm. Aram and Marissa wrote an essay about the dynamics of creativity in the music and fashion industries for the Ready to Share fashion conference held last year at the Norman Lear Center. They’ve got some keen commentary on breaking developments in media, technology, culture and commerce.  Another stalwart blogger prowling the ramparts of the knowledge commons is Peter Suber, over at Open Access News. Peter’s website has the latest, most comprehensive news on matters affecting open access publishing. An invaluable resource for keeping track of this rapidly changing field.

(PS: Thanks, David!)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Getting the value that publishers provide and paying for it

Jan Velterop, Of value and money, The Parachute, March 27, 2006. Excerpt:

In a recent missive to all ACS (American Chemical Society) members, the Society’s President, E. Ann Nalley, warned against the dangers of jeopardising the tremendously useful, yet complex, journals-based system of publishing scientific research. In an open letter on her blog, OA activist Heather Morrison reacted to this, extolling the virtues of barrier-free access to the scientific research literature.  One might be forgiven for getting the impression that the two are at odds with one another. They might even think so themselves. However, both are right, in their own ways....

If researchers want to communicate their research results, it is perfectly possible for them to make it all available to anyone in the world for free. All they have to do is post their material on a on a web site or to deposit it in an OA repository. Why don’t they just do that? Why bother a publisher? Or is the publisher perhaps providing them with something that makes their articles more valuable - to them and to science - than they would be if just published unofficially on the web?  That, of course, is the key....[Publishing] adds tremendous value. But it carries costs.

Nalley’s letter is prompted by the NIH policies and Congressional draft bills that move towards requiring open access for federally funded research. The anxiety of the ACS and other publishers is justified as long as the NIH and congressional bills do not address the issue of costs associated with the tremendously useful journals system. They should take a leaf out of the Wellcome Trust book, which does address the issue with exemplary clarity. On their web site one can read that "…the Wellcome Trust […] will provide grantholders with additional funding to cover the costs of page processing charges levied by publishers who support the open access model" (my emphasis). The ACS should ask for that kind of commitment and clarity from the NIH, from other federal funding bodies, and from Congress. When open access is economically supported, Nalley and Morrison may find themselves on common ground after all.

Comment. The NIH does allow grantees to use grant funds to pay processing fees at OA journals that charge fees. It did so before it adopted its public access policy, which is why it isn't mentioned in the public-access policy.

More on Electra Press

John Holbo, Electra Press - Will Work For Whuffie, part II, The Valve, March 26, 2006. Thoughts on Electra Press, an emerging OA press for the humanities. Excerpt:

Let’s start by asking the most basic question. Why is an electronic press an appropriate response to academic publishing in disarray?  Well, because the academic reputation economy lags behind the technology curve. In some screwy inversion of the history of money, it’s hard to get people to believe in something not backed by solid paper. But what exactly is the form of the shift we are working for? Just: get over the paper fetish? Not that I wouldn’t be pleased enough with just that. But really it seems to me that the main point should be: get over the paper fetish in the right way. And the right way is: by embracing the potential of academic publishing to be a ‘gift culture’....[I]t is important to be clear about how much the logic of academia already fits this model: namely, academics already produce to boost their reputations rather than to get paid....We live in a world of Amazon ‘search inside’, but also of copyright extension and, in general, excessive I.P. enclosures. The groves of academe are well suited to be exemplary Creative Commons. But there is no guarantee they will be. So we should work for that....To repeat: the goal should not be electronic publishing, per se, but embodiment of what academic publishing culture should be like, given the potential of electronic publishing. The answer: a generous gift culture.  We need an electronic press that embodies that. This might seem slighting of the sheer advantages of technology itself. But I think that’s coming, one way or the other.  What isn’t a foregone conclusion is the advent of a culture able to make the most of that technology....My first ‘Will Work For Whuffie’ post is here, in case you missed it way back in November.

Economics of open content

Audio and video files of the presentations at the MIT symposium on the Economics of Open Content (Cambridge, January 23-24, 2006) are now online. (Thanks to the Digital Rights Network.)

Ray English on OA and the serials crisis

Steven Bell has blogged some notes about Ray English's Friday presentation on the crisis in scholarly publishing. (Bell doesn't say where the presentation was given.) Excerpt:
You must know Ray – he’s the latest winner of the ACRL Academic/Research Librarian of the Year award. But he’s also well known for his advocacy work in the area of the scholarly publishing crisis. As a small university library director I think less about the scholarly publishing crisis and the open access alternatives than I should. English’s presentation was the excellent overview of the issues that I needed. He covered the latest developments, the changes needed, the positive trends, and most of all, what librarians can do to create change. Here are some of the highlights:

* “It’s about access, stupid” - All the scholarly publishing crisis issues are related to access – loss of it , barriers to it, access to scholarship by users, access to publishing monographics; the failures to provide access are systemic and interrelated.

* Consolidation in the journal publishing industry produces price increases. When Elsevier acquired Pergemon, the Pergamon titles increased by 27%. When Kluwer acquired Lippincott the titles increased by 30%. See for more info on industry consolidation.

* What if you owned this business? Someone else produces your product for you at no cost – they polish it up for you at your request - they even give you exclusive rights to it - then all you do is distribute it - and you get to sell it back to the people who produced your product at a good profit. Sounds like a pretty good business, right....

* There are signs of hope. We’re becoming more active – that’s good. This is becoming a national issue that governments are taking up. Faculty engagement in the issues is growing. There is cause for optimism – this may be resolved in our lifetimes. That brief review doesn’t really do justice to the awareness English creates when he lectures about the scholarly publishing crisis and open access. For example, he also talked about disciplinary and institutional archives as possible alternatives for the distribution of scholarly research.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

RAE reform and the rising role of OA repositories in the UK

The UK is scrapping its old-style Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) for a metrics-based method of assessing research excellence and awarding funds. The new RAE should boost the fortunes of OA repositories in the UK and perhaps even the draft RUCK policy. Here's how Stevan Harnad connects the dots:
RAE outcome is most closely correlated (r = 0.98) with the metric of prior RCUK research funding (Figure 4.1) (this is no doubt in part a "Matthew Effect"), but research citation impact is another metric highly correlated with the RAE outcome, even though it is not explicitly counted. Now it can be explicitly counted (along with other powerful new performance metrics) and all the rest of the ritualistic time-wasting can be abandoned, without further ceremony.

This represents a great boost for institutional self-archiving in Open Access Institutional Repositories, not only because that is the obvious, optimal means of submission to the new metric RAE, but because it is also a powerful means of maximising research impact, i.e., maximising those metrics: (I hope Research Councils UK (RCUK) is listening!).

19 new institutional repositories in Japan

Japan's National Institute of Informatics has announced plans to launch OA institutional repositories at 19 Japanese Universities. Of the 19, six are already operational. (Thanks to Shinji Mine.)

Portal of OA back issues of Japanese journals

On March 27, the Japan Science and Technology Agency launched Journal@rchive, a portal for OA back issues to participating Japanese journals. These journals do not necessarily provide OA to their current issues. (Thanks to Shinji Mine.)

Response to the ACS President on OA

Heather Morrison, Open Access: Transformative Change, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, March 25, 2006. Excerpt:

An Open Letter to the President and Members of the American Chemical Society

Dear E. Ann Nally, President, ACS:

In a recent e-mail to ACS members, you inquire whether the NIH Public Access Policy is simply change for its own sake, whether it really adds value beyond what it presently available. As an open access advocate, let me explain. The NIH Public Access Policy is merely one piece in the move towards open access. The potential of open access is not change for the sake of change; it is transformative change, towards an unprecedented public good.  Consider, for example, how through open sharing of information, the world's researchers were able to come together to map the human genome in a mind-bogglingly short time. Why not pursue this approach to solve the puzzle of developing sustainable, environmentally friendly energy resources - or to keep one step ahead of avian flu?  The NIH's Public Access Policy extends the already openly available Medline index in PubMed. It can be argued that open access to Medline has been a key in the move towards evidence-based practice in medicine over the past few years, since this has brought access to medical evidence to practitioners everywhere....PubMedCentral also makes the research available to the general public, allowing the efforts of our doctors, nurses, and other health professionals to be supplemented by those individuals and family members who care to take advantage of this opportunity....The greatly expanded access that is open access will open up many, many opportunities. Professional practitioners in northern British Columbia will have the same access that is currently available at the teaching hospitals in Vancouver. More colleges, smaller universities and even high schools, will have ready access to the research literature, making it possible to teach in new ways, to develop an information and science literate populace. In the less-developed world, ready access to resources is one of the keys to developing education programs. Here, it is not just that colleges and universities will have more access; rather, more access will make it possible to develop more college and universities....

Will CMAJ join PLoS?

Paul Webster, Prescription for Canada: an unfettered medical journal, Globe and Mail, March 25, 2006. Excerpt:
It has been a month since the Canadian Medical Association, which represents 62,000 doctors, decided to freshen up its esteemed journal by firing the editor-in-chief, John Hoey, and his deputy, Anne Marie Todkill. Dr. Hoey and Ms. Todkill spent a decade transforming the bimonthly Canadian Medical Association Journal into one of the world's more respected scientific publications. On Thursday, a story they supervised was nominated for the coveted Michener Award for meritorious public service. Since their departure, the CMAJ has imploded. Citing confusion within the doctors' association over editorial independence -- something Dr. Hoey and Ms. Todkill recently accused it of violating -- eight senior and intermediate editors have resigned, along with 15 of the journal's 19 editorial board members. Many Canadian scientists who have published pioneering studies in the CMAJ on such issues as SARS and other infectious disease outbreaks are starting to wonder if it's healthy for the country's only major medical-science publication to belong to an association aimed at promoting special interests, however enlightened. The time has come, many researchers say, to rethink how to disseminate Canadian medical research. Support is growing for a fully independent, not-for-profit journal, free from owners with vested interests, and not reliant on advertising income. One of the ideas researchers are discussing is modelled on a series of journals published by Public Library of Science (PLoS), a San Francisco-based non-profit publisher launched in 2000 with support from almost 34,000 scientists and start-up financing from private foundations. PloS Biology, the most successful of the six Public Library of Science journals, already boasts having achieved more than twice as much measurable impact among scientists as the CMAJ does....Although CMAJ contents are free on-line, the journal is packed with pharmaceutical advertising, and is published by a holding company headed by a business executive. Many traditional journals now require that readers pay for on-line access, a development Dr. Hoey and Ms. Todkill pledged to resist before they were forced out....Alan Bernstein, a CMAJ board member who serves as president of the Canadian Institute for Health Research -- Ottawa's $800-million medical research agency -- has consulted PLoS president Harold Varmus on ways to increase access to publicly supported Canadian research....

McGill University cancer researcher Eduardo Franco, one of PLoS Medicine's three Canadian board members,...thinks the CMAJ crisis offers a strong opportunity for the launch of a Canadian medical journal free of corporate and political entanglement. Ownership by entities with strong commercial ties to big pharma, or, as in the case of the Canadian Medical Association, with strong ties to governments, often creates a situation where editors are not free," says Dr. Franco, who was trained in Brazil, where free-access medical journals were pioneered. He praises PLoS for making scientific publication more transparent. "I'd love to see the CMAJ go that route." Timothy Caulfield, a University of Alberta health-law researcher who also serves on PloS Medicine's editorial board, says it makes good sense to divorce medical science from commercial publishing. "There's increasing evidence commercial issues impact on what's published," he says. "Numerous studies indicate, if you get commercial funding from any source, you're more likely to publish results favourable to that source." John Willinsky, director of the Public Knowledge Project at the University of British Columbia, says he, too, feels that events at the CMAJ suggest an alternative scientific publication may be needed in Canada. "The advantage of this model is that it can be started quickly and at low cost," says Prof. Willinsky, who resigned from the CMAJ board last week. "We don't want to rush into this, but we could definitely do it."

Comment. CMAJ is already OA, so the move to PLoS would not be a conversion. It would only change the business model from reliance on advertising to reliance on processing fees paid, on the whole, by authors' research grants. The story is important for at least two reasons. It shows that the processing fee model can enhance editorial independence, not undermine it as some TA publishers have charged in the past. And the mainstream press is covering it.