Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Another scientist for OA

Open Access publication message, epot's blog, March 14, 2006. Excerpt:
We, scientists, create, provide and judge the science presented to journals. While we are not paid by the publishers, we pay to get access to this science.  Publishers who concentrate more and more journals within a few companies use their oligopoly to charge more and more and earn tremendous amounts of money. They use a snobbism about impact factors and the tyranny this exerts on the career of young scientists.  We can dilute this power in a simple way. Open access is the only answer. Whenever I have to choose one reference out of several, I shall from now on choose a reference to a paper that I and my readers can access freely on the Internet PubMed. If we all do that, we shall push the impact factor of those journals (printed or not) which do not grudge us.  If you agree with this message diffuse it.

(message originally from Pr Jacques E. Dumont, IRIBHM, ULB ; links are from myself [author of epot's blog])

Text-mining non-OA texts

Alf Eaton, Open Text Mining Interface (OTMI), HubLog, April 7, 2006. Excerpt:

The Open Text Mining Interface (OTMI) is a proposed method for making available the text of journal articles for indexing and analysis, while preserving any subscription model that funds the journals. This approach, presented in a Web 2.0 session at the Bio-IT World conference earlier this week, uses an Atom XML version of each article, with OTMI namespaced extensions, to provide all the sentences of the article in alphabetical order. Some extra information such as word frequency is also presented, but this could presumably be derived from the sentence text anyway.  All the articles in the 2020 Computing issue of Nature have OTMI files linked using <link rel="OTMI" type="application/atom+xml" href=""/> - here’s an example file.

Comment. I have to commend the developers. Insofar as it's useful, however, OTMI will counteract what I've called the software strategy for OA: using very cool and useful tools optimized for OA files as incentives for authors and publishers to make their work OA. OTMI doesn't preserve information about what which sentences are adjacent or even proximate, foiling attempts to reconstruct a readable version of the text. While this is an essential virtue of OTMI for toll-access publishers, I suspect that it's a vice for hard-core text-mining. There have to text-mining applications for which OTMI files will be less useful than full-text originals with sentence-sequence and other contextual information intact. In any case, OTMI will reduce the number of text-mining apps that support the software strategy for OA.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Iowa grad students support OA

Last November (11/29/05), the University of Iowa Faculty Senate adopted a resolution calling on faculty and administrators to support OA journals and repositories. George Porter has learned that the vote was unanimous.

Last month (3/22/06), the Iowa Graduate Student Senate adopted a similar resolution. Excerpt:

The University of Iowa Graduate Student Senate:
  1. Supports the University of Iowa Faculty Senate in their resolution of November 29, 2005, on Scholarly Publishing.
  2. Encourages graduate students to become familiar with the pricing and business practices of journals and journal publishers in their specialty.
  3. Recognizes that graduate students, as they move along in their career, can exert a positive influence on the direction of scholarly publishing through the choices they make in the submission of papers, the commitment of time to refereeing activities, and participation in editorial work.
  4. Encourages the University to support new models for scholarly publishing, including open access journals and archives, disciplinary and institutional repositories and other approaches that enhance the broad dissemination of knowledge while preserving peer review and excellence in scholarship.
  5. Recognizes that graduate students can retain intellectual property rights, in order to allow them greater freedom to disseminate their work and thereby maximize the impact of their scholarship.
  6. Encourages higher education to support these changes through the promotion and tenure system and other reward mechanisms, and by providing incentives and support for those advancing alternative models.

More on OA to biodiversity data

Mike Shanahan and Luisa Massarani, PanAfrica: 'Breakthrough' Reached On Access to Biodiversity Data, SciDev.Net, April 7, 2006. Excerpt:

Governments could come under pressure to make information on biological resources openly available, following a decision approved at last week's conference of parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Brazil.  According to its decision, the COP "invites parties and other governments, as appropriate, to provide free and open access to all past, present, and future public-good research results, assessments, maps and databases on biodiversity, in accordance with national and international legislation".  The language is vague, but according to Donat Agosti, a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History and the Swiss Naturmuseum, "This is breakthrough.  It means we can talk to our governments and argue for open access to this body of information, referring to this COP decision," he says. "But nothing will happen unless pressure and demand can be built up to implement it."  Agosti has long pointed to the irony that researchers in developing countries - where most biodiversity is found - cannot access information about their nations' species (see Copyrighting species descriptions is 'biopiracy').  He is concerned that if information is not made available, governments could consider it a commodity they can sell. He adds that efforts to conserve the planet's biodiversity depend on free and open access to information about it.

First OA journal from Scholarly Exchange

BioResources is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from North Carolina State University. According to today's announcement, it will focus "on sustainable manufacture using lignocellulosic or woody biomass resources and agricultural residues."

Not only is the journal new, but it's the first OA journal to be hosted by Scholarly Exchange, the non-profit platform for OA journals launched last October. Congratulations to both on their joint debut.

Richard Poynder interviews Lawrence Lessig

Richard Poynder has posted his interview with Lawrence Lessig. This is the latest installment of The Basement Interviews, Poynder's blog-based OA book of interviews with leaders of many related openness initiatives. Excerpt:

RP: One constraint, clearly, is that as a condition of publishing they are usually required to assign copyright in their scientific papers to journal publishers. Can you expand on the moral obligation scientists have?

LL: For most of the history of scientific publication the very cost of publishing meant that it was impossible to make scientific work universally accessible, since publishers needed to control distribution in order to recover their costs. Now that we have the Internet, however, it is extremely inexpensive to spread scientific work broadly. So we think that there is moral obligation on scientists to recalibrate what they are doing, and instead of just producing knowledge, to produce universally accessible knowledge.

RP: That is precisely what the Open Access Movement advocates. Given what you say about a moral obligation I am surprised that it took you personally so long to commit to Open Access. Why was that? ...I am referring to the commitment you made in 2005 to henceforth only publish in law journals that would allow them to be made freely available on the Web, rather than locked behind the financial firewall of a journal subscription?

LL: What I did was to say that I am never going to publish again a legal review article in a journal that doesn’t permit Open Access. It's not that I didn’t support Open Access before, or that I was converted in my belief: it was just that I hadn’t decided that I was going to limit my publishing opportunities....

RP: So what are you encouraging: that professors publish only in so-called gold journals, where the publisher makes the papers freely available on the Web; or that they adopt the green strategy, and continue to publish in traditional subscription-based journals, but then self-archive their papers themselves in open access repositories?

LL: I'm not talking about self-archiving. In my view it isn’t enough. It is a practical step, but it is not a step that guarantees any freedoms. Self-archiving leads to a whole bunch of documents for which the copyright status is uncertain. It is that uncertainty that I am trying to eliminate. But neither do the journals have to be in the category of gold publishing: what they need to have done is to commit to the Open Access Law Principles. This means that they have committed to allowing authors the right to engage in — and to enable others to engage in — republishing their work, at least for non-commercial purposes.

More blog notes on the APE conference

Medinfo has blogged some notes (in German) on the presentations from the second day of the conference, Academic Publishing in Europe (Berlin, April 4-5, 2006). Many are OA-related. (Also see its notes from yesterday on Day 1.)

Open-source software for publishing ejournals

Charles Bailey has written short introductions to three of the leading open-source systems for journal management: HyperJournal, Open Journal Systems, and DPubS.

PS: To round out the picture, see also ePublishing Toolkit and SOPS. Some might add Scribus, an open-source desktop-publishing package with no tools to manage peer review.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

More on OA to biodiversity data

In a posting yesterday to several OA-related lists, Donat Agosti summarized the good news from the recent Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (Curtiba, Brazil, March 20-31, 2006).
COP-8, the follow-up conference of the parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity, ended on March 31 with a decision of importance for our work. Here the excerpt:

SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL COOPERATION AND THE CHM: Discussions on scientific and technical cooperation and the CHM (UNEP/CBD/COP/8/4/Rev.1, 17, 17/Add.1, and 18) took place in WG-II on Thursday, 23 March, and Tuesday, 28 March. A decision was approved by WG-II on 28 March.

On scientific and technical cooperation, delegates highlighted collaboration with other initiatives, with Colombia stressing repatriation of information. Canada urged parties to provide free and open access to information and, supported by the EU, suggested reference to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Brazil expressed concern about the cost implications of CHM activities, and delegates agreed to take notes of Brazil's reservation in the decision.

Final Decision: In the decision (UNEP/CBD/COP/8/L.5), the COP adopts the annexed CHM updated strategic plan for the period 2005-2010 and the CHM work programme up to 2010.


The COP requests the Executive Secretary to prepare a report on progress made in the implementation of the strategic plan of the CHM and its work programme for 2005-2010, for COP-10 consideration.

Spring Cites & Insights

The Spring issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now online. In this issue Walt digests a good number of articles on the Open Content Alliance and Google Book Search, and a few others on Google Scholar, Open J-Gate, and OA itself. Most have appeared here in OAN, but not with his comments.

One step closer to a mandate at the NIH

NIH Director Elias Zerhouni testified today before the NIH-appropriating subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK) asked him a question about the low compliance rate for the NIH public-access policy. According to an observer present for the testimony, the dialog went something like this (not an official or even unofficial transcript):

Rep. Istook asked Dr. Zerhouni about the NIH public access policy, saying that the report indicates that there are “still problems with the policy as most research is not being made available.” He asked “what do we need to do to stimulate the public access policy?”

In response, Dr. Zerhouni reviewed the policy goals and conceded that “it seems the voluntary policy is just not enough” and that he will have to review the recommendations of the NLM Board of Regents. However, he said the 6 to 12 months is “a different issue” about the economic viability of publishing and peer review. He called this “the sweet spot” and said “I don't think we should do anything at the expense of peer review.”

Comment. Remember that the NLM Board of Regents recommended a mandate as the solution to the problem of low compliance.

There are two pieces of good news here. (1) Dr. Zerhouni thinks a mandate may be necessary and, contrary to appearances, even easier to adopt than a shorter embargo. (2) There's good evidence that the "sweet spot" for biomedical journals is considerably shorter than six months (more on this later), giving us a fair chance to answer his doubts.

I'll blog the official transcript of this dialog as soon as I can in order to confirm the accuracy of this account.

Work for SHERPA, advancing OA

SHERPA is hiring a Services Development Officer "to be involved in the development of the global SHERPA/Romeo database." From today's announcement:
Work will involve liaison with publishers, authors, researchers and research-funders. This work on such a high profile international project is a great opportunity to achieve personal success and recognition within an active and rapidly developing field. The post will involve some travel within the UK and abroad.

The post will also investigate and report on a wide variety of aspects of open access to research: advocacy, copyright, search, user-interface issues, work-flows, user-support, etc. Work will include supporting academics, advising senior institutional managers and acting as an advocate of open access on a national scale. The post requires excellent communication skills and a creative approach to promoting repository use.

OA beyond the academy

Fewer charges for website content, BBC News, April 5, 2006. An unsigned news story. (Thanks to Jacob Bettany.) Excerpt:
The number of UK media groups charging for online content has nearly halved over the last year, according to the Association of Online Publishers (AOP). The association said just 37% of its members now charged for some online content, compared with 63% in 2005....AOP's members include IPC Media, BSkyB, Reuters, BBC,, The Economist Group, Guardian Unlimited and Which?. Its survey of members for 2006 showed that display advertising was still the main source of income, making up an average of 41% of online revenues. Paid-for content was responsible for 18% of all revenues, while sponsorship made up 9%. The AOP said that the proportion of its members saying they were unlikely to start charging for online content had risen from 18% in 2004 to 43% in 2006.

Science 2.0, taking OA for granted

Catherine Varmazis, Web 2.0: Scientists Need to Mash It Up, Bio-IT World, April 6, 2006. Notes from the "Web 2.0" workshop at Bio-IT World’s Life Sciences Conference + Expo in Boston this week. Excerpt:

Declan Butler, Europe-based reporter for Nature magazine, said Web 2.0 can bring us back to original idea of the Web as a collaborative workspace. Just as developing nations bypassed copper-wire telephones and leapfrogged directly to cell phones, “the biggest revolution on the Web is passing science by,” he warned.  Science has a collective intelligence that can be a drawback, Butler said, if scientists stay wedded only to traditional methods such as paper-based peer-reviewed journals.  Very few scientists blog, he pointed out, for fear it could damage their careers. But many younger scientists see the current system as over-competitive and prefer to collaborate. And he believes scientists are enriched by blogging. In fact, a peer-reviewed blog such as,, and, can serve as a journal by acting as a collaborative filtering and sorting service. Beyond the NCBI and other highly organized databases, Butler said, there is very little data sharing among scientists. He quoted UC Santa Cruz bioinformatician David Haussler, as saying: “Scientists are still in the Dark Ages when it comes to sharing data.” For example, Butler said, the World Health Organization has no usable data on avian flu. And a Swedish site on avian flu presents the data in PDF files.  But there are signs of change. Mashups - user-generated applications that integrate new data into existing applications - are beginning to gain attention in the scientific world. For example, AntBase and AntWeb bring together data on 12,000 species, using Web services. And a mashup that Butler created single-handedly, mapping poultry density per nation and outbreaks of avian flu over Google Earth, resulted in six nations contacting him about a collaboration....

Jim Ostell, chief of information engineering at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), explained the design principle behind the NCBI site that has resulted in ever-increasing amounts of traffic. The NCBI site, which includes PubMed, PubMed Central, GenBank, and other public databases, has become a content aggregator that allows users to make connections across various fields, said Ostell. When linking information, the “central dogma” is key. This means selecting elements that are things and then finding “computable values” between them....Ostell also pointed out that the NCBI is working on the Discovery Initiative to present users with deep links for their topic....Timo Hannay, director of Web publishing for Nature Publishing Group, presented Web 2.0 projects under development, including the Open Text Mining Interface (OTMI), and, which helps researchers organize and share their references.

Comment. I hope someone at the conference mentioned that the first step in optimizing scientific datasets for useful mashups is to make them open access. Or is everyone just taking for granted that OA is the future, both for research literature and research data, and planning how to take full advantage of it?

Paying to share rather than paying to block

Jan Velterop, Back to nature, The Parachute, April 6, 2006. Excerpt:
Information, in its natural state, flows freely. It spreads to wherever it can go, like water. It grows even in the process. Like the biblical loaves and fishes, which fed thousands and when everyone was satisfied, the remains amounted to more than the original basket full. Substitute 'food for thought' for 'food' in that story, and it doesn't sound so miraculous at all anymore....For information and knowledge, open access is nature. Unfortunately, the second part of this sentence cannot be reversed and still be true, but that may yet come. Also unfortunate is that considerable amounts of intellectual efforts as well as financial resources are devoted to keeping the constructs needed to restrict information up to the task and enforceable. This is particularly unfortunate in the academic realm, where information and knowledge is primarily generated to be added to the 'noosphere', the knowledge sphere on which the whole world should be able to draw. The reason why so much effort is being spent on restricting the free flow of information is clear, of course. Validating, organising, and disseminating information and knowledge is costly, is a value added to make the information and knowledge usable and reliable, and needs to be paid for somehow....[T]he question that needs to be asked is, shouldn't the formidable intellectual efforts and resources that are now being spent on maintaining and refining the ancient restriction regime, be better spent on finding new ways to financially support the free flow of information and knowledge, suited to the circumstances of today? Especially since, ironically, that regime was developed centuries ago when copyright was conceived as a way of supporting the technology of its day in order to make the information flow more freely. Open access is nature. Is it not better to harness and use the forces of nature to our benefit, rather than to fight them?

OA content from the Oxford Journals Collection

Péter Jacsó, Oxford Journals Collection, Thomson Gale Reference Reviews, April 2006. Excerpt:

[Highwire Press, HWP] now hosts more than 1,000 journals....You will find about 1.2 million open access full-text articles on HWP, representing close to 40% of all the articles of its database. There are open access abstracts for about 1.9 million articles....If you include PubMed in your search on HWP, the total number of open access bibliographic records goes up to 17.3 million and the number of open access abstracts of articles to about seven million. Unfortunately, the HWP versions of the PubMed records do not display when articles...are open access. Instead, it links the user to the Infotrieve document delivery service which charges $28 for every item from this publication. This is a weak point of HWP as there are links in PubMed to 1.2 million open access full-text articles with obvious icons.

The HWP stable itself is large, but it is not the largest. Elsevier (through its ever-improving Scirus subsidiary) has open access bibliographic information for about 6.4 million articles and open access abstracts for about 4.2 million. There are about 7.5 million full-text articles in the native Elsevier ScienceDirect database, but, except for some temporary freebies, these are accessible only for subscribers (although the full text is searchable for anyone)....

OJC has almost as many (about 100,000) open access full-text articles from OUP journals alone....The highlight of OJC is the significant subset of full-text open access journal articles in addition to the open access for more than 800,000 bibliographic description records and the nearly 180,000 open access abstracts. HWP identifies the open access journals with Free Site and Free Issues labels. There are no such labels or markers on the journal list page of the site. You can compare the complete list of OUP journals hosted by HWP to the OUP version. The former shows which journals have free issues. I have summarized the highlights that may not be obvious from the list for the casual visitors and reviewers.  Although OUP has “only” two free sites, they host the top-ranking Nucleic Acids Research and the Nucleic Acids Symposium Series, which offer more than 12,000 full-text documents. There are many other OUP journals labeled as having Free Issues, and sometimes the label is an understatement. For example, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute has more than 5,200 open access full-text articles representing 90% of the entire online collection for this top-notch journal. The same proportion is true for the more than 3,000 items from another much respected journal: Molecular Biology and Evolution. For Rheumatology the proportion is only 85%, but the absolute number of open access journal articles is close to 6,000....Open access availability is not immediate upon publishing, except for the Nucleic Acids titles. Many of the articles become open access after a one- or a two-year moratorium. Life science journals dominate the free subset, which is appropriate. Arts and humanities journals have practically no full-text freebies and they hardly have free abstracts. Social science journals are somewhere in-between in terms of open access content....[OJC] is an outstanding source - even for those who don’t have subscriptions for OUP journals in their library - for discovering good articles and to find an open access version of the ones that seem relevant and pertinent.

PS: I've omitted javascript links from this excerpt, since they will only work from the Gale site. Please see the original for details I've omitted and for all the working links.

Day 1 of the APE conference

Medinfo has blogged some notes (in German) on the presentations from the first day of the conference, Academic Publishing in Europe (Berlin, April 4-5, 2006). Many of the speakers addressed OA.

Project Gutenberg and the origin of open content

Glyn Moody, Gutenberg 2.0: the birth of open content,, March 29, 2006. Excerpt:
A previous feature examined the parallels between open source and open access, which strives for the free online availability of the academic knowledge distilled into research papers. Although it has some particular characteristics of its own, open access can be considered part of a wider move to gain free online access to general digital content.  The roots of this open content movement, as it came to be called, go back to before the Internet existed, and when even computers were relatively rare beasts. In 1971, the year Richard Stallman joined the MIT AI Lab, Michael Hart was given an operator's account on a Xerox Sigma V mainframe at the University of Illinois. Since he estimated this computer time had a nominal worth of $100 million, he felt he had an obligation to repay this generosity by using it to create something of comparable and lasting value. His solution was to type in the US Declaration of Independence, roughly 5K of ASCII, and to attempt to send it to everyone on ARPANET (fortunately, this trailblazing attempt at spam failed). His insight was that once turned from analogue to digital form, a book could be reproduced endlessly for almost zero additional cost - what Hart termed "Replicator Technology". By converting printed texts into etexts, he was able to create something whose potential aggregate value far exceeded even the heady figure he put on the computing time he used to generate it. The Replicator idea is similar to one of the key defining characteristics of free software: that it can be copied endlessly, at almost no marginal cost. Hart's motivation for this move - the creation of a huge permanent store of human knowledge - is very different from Stallman's reason for starting the GNU project, which is powered by his commitment to spreading freedom. But on the Project Gutenberg site, there is a discussion about the ambiguity of the word "free" that could come straight from Stallman: "The word free in the English language does not distinguish between free of charge and freedom. .... Fortunately almost all Project Gutenberg ebooks are free of charge and free as in freedom." There are other interesting parallels between the two men....

OA journal launches an OA repository

The OA Journal of Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Archaeology (JIIA) has launched the JIIA Eprints Repository, which is OAI-compliant and built on Eprints. (Thanks to IOSA.)

Comment. If JIIA is now depositing all its articles in an OAI-compliant repository, then I applaud it. When OA journals deposit their articles in OA repositories, they add OAI harvesting to the means for making their content discoverable. When the repository is independent of the publisher (as PubMed Central is independent of PLoS and BMC), they assure users that the content will remain available, and remain OA, even if the journal should fold, be bought out, or change its access policies. How independent is this repository from this journal? I don't know; but even if not at all, it can still play the first role. Will its scope be limited to JIIA articles or will it accept preprints, postprints from other journals, and generally aim to become the subject-area repository for archaeology? So far nothing at the journal site or the repository site helps to answer this question.

Progress for the UK's Free Our Data campaign

Michael Cross, Public services now have legal means to open up, The Guardian, April 6, 2006. Excerpt:

Much more [UK] government data should now be available free, after the agency charged with opening up access to public sector information had its powers extended last week. As of April 1, local councils, NHS organisations, police and other emergency services can offer their data to the public for free via a simple licensing scheme called Click-Use. This allows the re-use of Crown copyright data if the user promises to conform to certain conditions, such as not pretending to be the data's "official" source.  Previously, the Click-Use scheme run by the Office of Public Sector Information had applied only to central government information such as parliamentary acts. Some 9,000 Click-Use licences have been taken out since the scheme's launch in 2001. Carol Tullo, director of the office and holder of the title "Queen's Printer", said the extension of Click-Use would encourage more public bodies to make data available: "We will be providing very strong encouragement," she said. However, Click-Use applies only to raw data collected as part of a body's "public task", not to value-added products such as computer programs. Its use by local authorities is voluntary. And, crucially, the scheme does not cover government-owned trading funds, which are required by law to generate revenues from sales of information products; Tullo said the government had no intention of changing its "user pays" policy for public sector information. Guardian Technology's Free Our Data campaign argues that this policy stifles innovation by requiring businesses and individuals to pay twice for data collected at taxpayers' expense. A study in 2002 by Peter Weiss of the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration found that such policies stifle economic activity....

Of the campaign, Tullo said: "It's not as simple as saying 'free all our data'." The government has shown no sign of abandoning the "user pays" principle, she said. Under that framework, however, she hinted at some flexibility, especially when the Office of Fair Trading reports on the issue of public-sector information later this year. Join the debate at

After just four weeks, Technology Guardian’s "Free Our Data" campaign has been nominated under "advocacy" in New Statesman magazine’s New Media awards - for sites that "most effectively influenced opinions and behaviour through new media technology".

Open Science panel at SXSWi 2006

A podcast from the Open Science panel at this year's SXSW Interactive (March 10-14, 2006), is now online. (Thanks to John Wilbanks.)

OA and peer review

Heather Morrison, Open Peer Review & Collaboration, a presentation at Drexel CoAs Talks, Philadelphia and Vancouver, 2006. From the abstract:
This brief presentation summarizes my present view on the transformative potential of a fully open access approach in the area of peer review. While a great deal of research has been done on peer review per se..., progress in science depends not just on incremental progress, but also on periodically reexamining our most basic assumptions. It is timely to do this with peer review - a long-standing tradition which may have evolved from the time of the Inquisition... - not an optimal approach for Galileo, and perhaps not an optimal approach in our day and age, either....[P]eer review is really a form of collaboration, of researchers working together, critiquing and supporting each other. Why not work openly and collaboratively together as peers throughout the research process, rather than submitting finished work for blind peer review when it is finished? There likely are differences in potential for rapid change in different research areas. For example, in an area which bridges pharmacology and toxicology, where a slight error could be fatal - let's be careful with our quality controls, and keep traditional peer review until a better method is found. Most areas of research, however, have no such dire consequences, and there is no reason not to move forward, and experiment with new methods.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

More on the RAE reform and OA

Rebeca Cliffe, Research Assessment Exercise: Bowing Out In Favor of Metrics, EPS Insights, April 3, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
The move to a new metrics based system will no doubt please those who see a role for institutional repositories in monitoring research quality. The online environment has thrown up new metrics, which could be used alongside traditional measures such as citations. Usage can be measured at the point of consumption - the number of 'hits' on a particular article can indicate the uptake of the research. Web usage would be expected to be an early indicator of how often the article is later cited. Some believe that institutional repositories should be used as the basis for ongoing assessment of all UK peer-reviewed research output by mandating that researchers should place material in repositories. They argue that this would allow usage to be measured earlier, through downloads of both pre-prints and post-prints. Of course, this course of action would also advance the cause of open access by making this research available free.

UNESCO report on OA educational resources

Paul Albright, Open Educational Resources, UNESCO, undated but released April 4, 2006. The final report of a six-week forum on open educational resources (OER) convened by UNESCO in late 2005. Forum participants included 490 individuals from 90 countries. See UNESCO's press release. Excerpt from the report itself:
The OER movement is breaking down barriers that have blocked access to academic content. Until recently, most electronic course content was locked up behind passwords within proprietary systems, noted the forum’s initial moderator, Sally Johnstone. OER represents a major step toward sharing teaching materials, methods and tools, just as academics have shared their work in scholarly papers for a long time. The result is to augment teaching resources while expanding knowledge opportunities for learners and faculty members. Throughout the forum, a forthright exchange of views stimulated thought and ideas that can advance the cause of OER. Participants stressed the importance of providing open, accessible and superior higher education content for a global community of teachers and scholars, students and lifelong learners. Whether OERs are categorized as ‘open access’ or ‘free content’, they collectively promote autonomy and self-reliance within the learning community. Without the constraints of time or geography, the power of education is released to combat economic, social and cultural obstacles. Through independent, self-determined learning and open academic content, the individual is able to grow intellectually beyond previous personal, institutional or local boundaries. Other benefits range from developing valuable work skills to engaging in life-enriching, lifelong learning....The main challenge to widening access to OER lies in overcoming reticence and uncertainty within the academic community. Although participants reported a growing awareness of OER, many emphasized the need to explain and promote the institutional benefits, and to provide incentives for faculty members to become actively involved....There appears to be a growing tension between the ‘ethical push’ to promote open access to knowledge and the need for university managers to “maximize income from their key assets.” How can OER fit into this increasingly commercial, financially and intellectually competitive framework for higher education?

OA indexing

Klaus Graf, Open Access Indexing, Archivalia, April 4, 2006. Graf supports John Willinsky's call for OA indexing from Chapter 12 of The Access Principle. (In German.)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

UQaM signs Berlin Declaration, adopts OA policy

As expected, the Université du Québec à Montréal has signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Acces to Knowledge, becoming the first North American university to do so. At the same time, it has adopted an OA policy. From today's announcement:
Berlin is a Declaration of principle. The next step is to put it into practice, which UQaM is likewise preparing to do shortly, by relaunching its Institutional Repository and it will soon be registering its institutional commitment in:

PS: I'll blog the policy details as soon as they're available.

Canada's CIHR developing an OA policy, welcomes comments

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is developing an OA policy. (Thanks to Leslie Chan.) From yesterday's announcement:
CIHR is initiating a process to develop a research policy that will promote access to the knowledge and resources generated from CIHR-funded research. Currently, CIHR encourages recipients of research support to make the results of all research publicly available. However, CIHR does not have a formal policy governing access to the products of CIHR-funded research, including physical products, research data and published results. The aim is to establish a policy that will both help researchers gain access to the products of research and support CIHR's efforts in facilitating the translation and use of knowledge, while taking into account ethical and legal considerations. Furthermore, as a recipient of public funds there is an obligation to Canadians to ensure that the results and products of research supported by CIHR are disseminated as widely as possible so that all parties benefit from these research outcomes.

The policy governing access to the products of research has been separated into three broad categories: [1] physical products of research (i.e., cell lines, DNA libraries, PCR primers); [2] structural and functional data typically deposited in public databases (i.e., genomic data, DNA sequences, protein sequences); [3] peer-reviewed published results. CIHR has invited a number of Canadian health researchers to serve on an Advisory Committee, which will guide the development and implementation of this policy. In the near future, CIHR will be launching an initial online survey, with a series of prompts and questions regarding the general scope and content of a proposed policy. Feedback from the broad health research community will be carefully considered by the Advisory Committee during policy development. We welcome comments from the full range of stakeholders including other government departments and research agencies, health research societies, health charities, and industry partners. Once a detailed draft policy has been prepared, it will be posted on our web site for a second round of public consultations. Please visit CIHR's web site in the coming weeks to see more information about this initiative. If you have any questions related to CIHR's plans to develop a policy concerning Access to the Products of Research, please contact Geoff Hynes, Research Officer,, (613) 952-8965.

Update. The announcement above solicited comments but didn't say when they were due. A new release from CIHR says that comments are due by May 15, 2006. CIHR has also posted an online survey to collect stakeholder opinions.

OA mandates work better than requests

Arthur Sale, Comparison of content policies for institutional repositories in Australia, First Monday, April 2006.
Abstract: Seven Australian universities have established institutional repositories (containing research articles, also known as eprints) that can be analyzed for content and which were in operation during 2004 and 2005. This short paper analyses their content and shows that a requirement to deposit research output into a repository coupled with effective author support policies works in Australia and delivers high levels of content. Voluntary deposit policies do not, regardless of any author support by the university. This is consistent with international data.

More on the moves to strengthen the NIH policy

Robin Peek, NIH Public Access Update, Information Today, April 6, 2006. Excerpt:
As I reported last in April’s “Focus on Publishing” column, the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) policy on giving the public access to the research that it funds had a stormy beginning....The storm clouds are brewing again with two very different approaches to resolving the notion of how to insure access. The first is embedded rather deeply in the bowels of the bipartisan Cures Bill would seeks to expedite development of new therapies and cures for life-threatening diseases that was introduced on December 7th by Senators Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS)....Section 499H-1 of the bill will require that...Department of Health and Human Services grantees shall provide the NLM “an electronic copy of the final version of all peer-reviewed manuscripts accepted for publication for display on their digital library archive, PubMed Central, within 6 months from the date of publication.” Should grantees fail to comply with this 6 month requirement they could lose federal funding....In late October supporters of the Washington DC Principles Coalition, a group of not-for-profit publishers and societies that formed in 2004, openly offered the NIH an alternative proposal. Instead of further developing PubMed Central, they argue that a public-private partnership with NIH could use existing links from PubMed to individual journal web sites....This is the same proposal they made a year-and-half ago," observed [Heather] Joseph [Director of SPARC]. "It’s a good plan, but it doesn"t go the extra step we need it to go." That step, Joseph explained, is "access now and in perpetuity" for all publicly funded research....But the bottom line is that the NIH doesn’t need the Cures bill to change its policy-it could simply change its policy. In fact, this conversion to a firm six month requirement is what the NIH’s Public Access Working Group, established when the NIH policy was implemented, recommended at its November 15th meeting.

More on the Digital Universe

Ken Korman, Exploring the Digital Universe, eLearningScotland, April 4, 2006. Excerpt:
It's no surprise that the Digital Universe is scarcely mentioned in the press-or in conversation-without the word "Wikipedia" trailing closely behind. This happens not only because "the contrast with Wikipedia turned out to be a valid one," as Digital Universe Foundation president Bernard Haisch now points out, but because Larry Sanger, the Digital Universe's director of distributed content, was a co-founder of Wikipedia, and actually found his way to the Digital Universe after Haisch read Sanger's now-famous online essay, "Why Wikipedia Must Jettison Its Anti-Elitism." But the Digital Universe family tree extends back farther than the relatively recent Wikipedia....Sanger recalls that "the culture of Nupedia [which used rigorous editorial review of submissions] dominated Wikipedia for the first nine months to a year" but that things then started to change. Wikipedia's worldwide network of contributors had been "relatively respectful toward experts, but it became more of a free-for-all," something many would come to view as an extreme, if worthwhile, experiment in the democratization of the Web. Disdain for subject-matter expertise seemed to grow exponentially among Wikipedia contributors, and Sanger, in frustration, cut all ties with Wikipedia in 2003....[Joe] Firmage's vision for the Digital Universe not only encompassed Sanger's belief in content largely created, and carefully reviewed, by qualified experts, but also identified a larger need to restore depth and meaning to the Web itself....[T]he ultimate benefactor [of Digital Universe] would be the public, which would finally have free and open access to the kind of high-quality content originally envisioned by many for the Web....[Haisch] described a kind of hybrid approach in which the public contributes to the main encyclopedia by developing content in a private workspace overseen by [subject-matter experts], who eventually decide which pages are published on the live site. This process will undoubtedly undergo further development, but the goal will be to maintain openness for those who really want to contribute while achieving a level of quality for which the Digital Universe hopes to be known...."We're really trying to start a movement," Sanger explains. "Up until recently, the Web has been dominated by corporations on one hand, and by an essentially immature hacker culture on the other. I would like to see professionals and intellectuals getting together... for purposes of essentially teaching the world." Teaching the world is a big job. But the Digital Universe seems as likely a venue as any for idealism to make a welcome comeback on the Web.

Monday, April 03, 2006

OA under German law

Nine law professors at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen have published a 218 page OA manual on the Rechtliche Rahmenbedingungen von Open-Access-Publikationen or basic legal conditions of open access publications. (Thanks to

Update (April 10, 2006). Also see Klaus Graf's critical review of this book (in German).

More on the pricing crisis

Mark Pitsch, Libraries cut back: Universities struggle to afford academic journals, Courier-Journal (of Louisville, Kentucky), April 3, 2006. Excerpt:
University of Louisville medical professor Toni Miles said she sometimes can't get the latest scholarly information in her field, geriatrics. That's because the rising cost of academic journals and databases has forced U of L and other schools in Kentucky and nationwide to cut and forgo subscriptions, or to find more money by dipping into budgets for books, audiovisual materials and microfilm....Some [journals] are relatively inexpensive, such as Theatre Journal, which cost U of L $131 this year. But U of L is spending more than $21,000 a year on the Journal of Comparative Neurology....The University of Kentucky also has been hit by the cost of academic journals, removing 1,000 this year. "It's killing libraries," Carol P. Diedrichs, dean of libraries at UK, said of journal costs. At U of L, the increased cost of journals has led to cuts in book purchases, mostly in humanities and social sciences. This year rising journal prices have led to a $550,000 budget deficit, U of L officials said....Journal costs at U of L have risen from $5.4 million in 2000-01 to $7.2 million in 2004-05, the latest year available. During the same period, it spent less on new books, $1.2 million in 2004-05 compared with $2.2 million in 2000-01. U of L also spent less over the period on microfilm, audiovisual material and preservation. Journal costs at the University of Kentucky rose from $5.1 million to $6.8 million between 1999-2000 and 2004-05. During that period, yearly spending on books has fluctuated between $1.4 million and $2.6 million, including infusions of endowment money. Diedrichs said UK would like to subscribe to some journals and online databases that it can't afford. But she estimates she'll need $400,000 more next year just to prevent further journal cutbacks. Marty Rosen, director of library services at Indiana University Southeast, said his school has increased its access to academic journals. While it has reduced its print journal collection from 1,200 to about 800 in recent years because of rising costs, IUS has added 6,000 electronic journals, he said....Cutbacks on purchases of books, journals and other materials can interfere with student and faculty research and learning, experts say. "Libraries are able to provide access to less and less of the research that's produced, and that's slowing down the advance of research, whether it's health care, help to the local economy or pure research," said Karla Hahn, director of scholarly communication for the Association of Research Libraries, which includes the U of L and UK libraries. Hahn noted that quick access to research is especially important in medical fields. "If your research is working with patients, having to wait for access to an article is not a trivial issue," she said....Diedrichs said schools are encouraged to buy electronic journals in a package to save money, but that leaves libraries with less choice. "I'm forced to buy some of those I don't really want," Diedrichs said. Publishers also publish more research papers each year, leading to increased costs, said Karen Hunter, a vice president for Elsevier, which publishes about 1,800 journals and several academic databases. Hunter also said the publishers are in business to make money. "We know the difficulties our academic libraries have. Because if they can't afford the journals then they have to cancel, and that doesn't help anyone," she said.

OA journals in the Philippines

Vernon Totanes, Open Access in the Third World, Filipino Librarian, March 3, 2006. Excerpt:
Business models for open access publishing will continue to vary depending on international law, funding policies, author preferences, etc., but I believe that the traditional journal will eventually have to be abandoned. This assertion of mine may or may not be conventional wisdom in more developed countries, but in a Third World country like the Philippines, it is, in my opinion, the only way to go....Very few scholarly journals are currently being published in our country, much less peer-reviewed. Even less are available as online journals, though not all are refereed. 

This situation, I believe, is due to the prohibitive cost of publishing scholarly journals that very few libraries can afford. And because the few authors who bother to write scholarly articles cannot be assured of getting their work published within a certain period --i.e., in time for tenure deadlines-- they submit their articles to foreign publications. Local publications are then forced to accept any and all articles submitted, instead of going through a peer-review process --assuming, of course, that they even have money to publish.

There are now three Filipino journals --there are twelve I’m aware of whose full text is available online-- that exist as purely electronic journals. If more Filipinos become aware of the benefits of open access --in addition to how easy it is to publish online-- then maybe more Filipino scholarly publications will become available.  I have worked on print and online publications, and while the time required to edit articles is the same for both, those published online do not have to contend with printing press schedules or deal with printing and mailing costs. And the publication is immediately available and will eventually be searchable through search engines.

EC recommmends OA archiving for publicly-funded research

The European Commission has released its lengthy (108 pp.) and long-awaited report, Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication Markets in Europe. (Thanks to INIST-CNRS.) The report is dated January 2006 but was not apparently released until today. The underlying inquiry was announced in June 2004. Excerpt:
Aware of current public debates that reveal worries about the conditions of access and dissemination of scientific publications, the European Commission’s Directorate- General for Research has commissioned a study that seeks: (i) to assess the evolution of the market for scientific publishing; and (ii) to discuss the potential desirability of Europeanlevel measures to help improve the conditions governing access to and the exchange, dissemination and archiving of scientific publications (taking into account all actors/ stakeholders of the sector)....The report considers the specificities of the market for current journal issues. In doing so, it discusses the broad facts about the market; it undertakes a quantitative analysis of journal prices; it discusses the implications of technological innovation on pricing strategies and the dynamics of entry; and it analyzes the implication of these developments in terms of competition policy. It also discusses the various alternatives for disseminating and accessing scientific publications. This includes the question of access to research results on individual web pages or in public repositories, the development of openaccess journals as well as other alternatives, such as pay-per-view, the question of the longterm preservation of electronic publications and the use of standards to ensure interoperability between systems....[M]uch of scientific activity is publicly funded: the output of research is typically not bought by journals but ‘donated’ by publicly-funded researchers; so are to a large extent refereeing services for the evaluation of research; and finally, journals are bought by publicly-funded researchers or, more often now, by publicly-funded libraries. It is therefore crucial for public authorities to form a view on the relative efficiency of the scientific publication process.... In view of the libraries’ ongoing budgetary difficulties and of the opportunities provided by information technologies, and acknowledging the significant part of public funds involved in the scientific publishing process, a movement in favor of open access to scientific information has gained scale in the research community and research-related organizations. Declarations in favor of open access, such as Budapest Open Access Initiative and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, were signed by thousands of individuals and by major research institutions and research funding bodies around the world. These concerns about access to research results have been echoed by the civil society (e.g. at the World Summit on the Information Society) and by political bodies at national and international levels (e.g. the OECD Declaration on Access to Research Data from Public Funding). In the UK, the House of Commons (2004) recommended that public funding agencies require open access to publicly-funded research through deposit of the publications in the authors’ institutional repositories. Following these declarations and recommendations, several important research funding bodies have established policies urging their funded researchers to publish in open access journals, offering to pay the publication fees if any, and/or to deposit their articles in an open access repository (e.g. the US National Institutes of Health, the UK Research Councils, the Wellcome Trust, CERN…). These policies have raised publishers and learned societies’ concerns about the potential threat on their existence and activities: they fear that as articles become freely available in open archives and as search, access and retrieval facilities are enhanced by search engines and interoperability, journal subscriptions will be cancelled, thereby undermining the viability of their journals. Starting from this global economic and research-policy context, this report provides an independent analysis of the conditions regarding access and dissemination of research results, with a view to maximizing societal returns on R&D investments....

The evidence discussed in Sections 3 to 5 points however to a market where publishers do enjoy market power. This means that access can be improved significantly before one has to start worrying about threatening this reader/library-pay model. At present, immediate access can be achieved through individual web pages, through open access repositories or archives collecting e-prints deposited by their authors, and through open access journals which rely on various sources of income. In some countries, public authorities have funded large-scale projects to develop portals providing free online access to selected scholarly journals published in their countries (e.g. SciELO in Latin American countries, J-STAGE in Japan, various projects in India). As an increasing volume of research output from outside Europe becomes openly accessible, it raises the question of the visibility and accessibility, and of the subsequent potential impact, of European research as most articles by European researchers are published in subscription-based journals. In this respect, policies like those put in place by the U.S. NIH, the UK Research Councils or the Wellcome Trust – which promote open availability of research results no later than 12 months after publication – could be emulated across Europe, after discussions with the publishers. The aim could be to ensure that published European-funded research (at EU, national, or regional levels) be deposited in standardized open archives some time after publication. Recent surveys show that a majority of researchers seem willing to self-archive their articles if induced to do so by their employer or funding body....It is worth noting that, if the research funding authorities want to ‘give a chance’ to the author-pay model, they have to allow for a ‘level-playing field’ in comparison with the reader/library-pay model, that is, provide funding for publication costs and not only for library budgets....[T]here is a central role for funding bodies to define policies which will improve access and dissemination of publications, especially in terms of self-archiving requirement....

RECOMMENDATION A1. GUARANTEE PUBLIC ACCESS TO PUBLICLY-FUNDED RESEARCH RESULTS SHORTLY AFTER PUBLICATION. Research funding agencies have a central role in determining researchers’ publishing practices. Following the lead of the NIH and other institutions, they should promote and support the archiving of publications in open repositories, after a (possibly domain-specific) time period to be discussed with publishers. This archiving could become a condition for funding. The following actions could be taken at the European level: (i) Establish a European policy mandating published articles arising from EC-funded research to be available after a given time period in open access archives, and (ii) Explore with Member States and with European research and academic associations whether and how such policies and open repositories could be implemented.

Also see the HTML splash page for the report. The EC is soliciting comments on the report; please send them to by June 1, 2006.

Comment. This is big. Recommedation A1 doesn't directly call for an OA mandate to publicly-funded research, but it does call for a "guarantee" of OA, asserts that OA archiving "could become a condition of funding", and proposes that a mandate is one action that "could be taken at the European level". If the authors are distinguishing a guarantee from a mandate, then I'd like to hear more about it. But "even" a guarantee would be extremely welcome. Moreover, the recommendation calls for OA "shortly after publication". I hope this report strengthens the final draft of the RCUK policy, triggers the adoption of OA policies at the national level across Europe, and increases the odds that the nascent European Research Council will mandate OA to ERC-funded research.

The cooperative model for an OA book press in the humanities

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, On the Importance of the Collective in Electronic Publishing, The Valve, March 30, 2006. Excerpt:

One of the concerns that often gets raised early in discussions of electronic scholarly publishing is that of business model --how will the venture be financed...?...I also don’t want to fall prey to what has been called the “paper = costly, electronic = free” fallacy.  Obviously, many of the elements of traditional academic press publishing that cost --whether in terms of time, or of money, or both-- will still exist in an all-electronic [OA] press.  Texts still must be edited and transformed from manuscript to published format, for starters....But what I do want to argue for, building off of John Holbo’s recent post, is the importance of collective, cooperative contributions of academic labor to any electronic scholarly publishing venture.  For a new system like that we’re hoping to build in ElectraPress to succeed, we need a certain amount of buy-in from those who stand to benefit from the system, a commitment to get the work done, and to make the form succeed. I’ve been thinking about this need for collectivity through a comparison with the model of open-source software. Open source has succeeded, in large part, due to the commitments that hundreds of programmers have made, not just to their individual projects but to the system as a whole. Most of these programmers work regular, paid gigs, working on corporate projects, all the while reserving some measure of their time and devotion for non-profit, collective projects. That time and devotion are given freely because of a sense of the common benefits that all will reap from the project’s success. So with academics....[Our] job also involves, or allows, to varying degrees, reserving some measure of our time and devotion for projects that are just ours, projects whose greatest benefits are to our own pleasure and to the collective advancement of the field as a whole. If we’re already operating to that extent within an open-source model, what’s to stop us from taking a further plunge, opening publishing cooperatives, and thereby transforming academic publishing from its current (if often inadvertent) non-profit status to an even lower-cost, collectively underwritten financial model?...I want to ...[suggest,] as John has, that a collective publishing system might operate less like those kinds of group assignments than like food co-ops: in order to be a member of the co-op-- and membership should be required in order to publish through it-- everyone needs to put in a certain number of hours stocking the shelves and working the cash register....I’m strongly of the opinion that, if academic publishing is going to survive into the next decades, we need to stop thinking about how it’s going to be saved, and instead start thinking about how we are going to save it. And a business model that relies heavily on the collective-particularly, on labor that is shared for everyone’s benefit-seems to me absolutely crucial to such a plan.

Summary of Nancy conference on OA to grey lit

Ulrich Herb has written a review of the conference on Open Access to Grey Resources (Nancy, December 5-6, 2005). It appeared in The Grey Journal, Spring 2006. Excerpt:
Defining Grey Literature as...“Information produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body” OA to grey literature is – due to the absence of publishing houses – less affected by licence arrangements than OA to white literature....

Dr. Laurent Romary’s inaugural address explicated the OA strategy of the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, CNRS. He presented a central multidisciplinary OA repository based on the system HAL (hyper article en ligne) and emphasized the advantages of the standardization a centralized model offers: simplified investigation of bibliometric data, implementation of citation counting and linking techniques, homogenous usage statistics and metadata, easy application of preservation technologies and other aspects as uniform interfaces. Daniela Luzi summarized the status quo of Italian OA efforts. Joachim Schöpfel’s lecture “MetaGrey Europe, A Proposal in the Aftermath of EAGLESIGLE” focused on networking, meta search techniques and the transmutation of the grey literature database SIGLE to an Open Archive variant as OpenSIGLE. Keith G. Jeffery and Anne Asserson informed about approaches to compound the genesis of scientific information with its description and indexation by refining metadata incrementally during the process of editing the information and obtaining its lifecycle. Stefania Biagioni reported on the ERCIM Technical Reference Digital Library (ETRDL) which will be migrated to the software OpenDLIB. Through their explanation of the existential necessity of OA to public health information, June Crowe and Gail Hodge emphasized the importance of basal, technical OA from an apolitical point of view - far from copyright issues. Repositories might relieve some problems but other still remain virulent: funding, policy development and sustainability. Mohammad Reza Ghane presented a survey about the OA acceptance of Iranian scientists while Hyekyong Hwang talked about research output and its distribution in Korea. Marcus A. Banks summarized the history of OA reconsidering a possible amalgamation of grey and white literature by OA activities.

A focal point of [the meeting] was devoted to concrete projects. Mitsutoshi Wada informed about JStage, a publication platform for ejournals offering interfaces for databases and other ejournals. It provides COUNTER-compatible usage statistics and uses several linking techniques. Toby Green from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported on a vast project in which 1000 working papers were republished. In his presentation the value of pure accessibility took center stage. He gave insight into this project’s challenges: Collection and sorting of information, the development of a metadata model, quality control, workflow and database development, implementation of interfaces and (partially) the digitalization of print objects. Moreover the author of this review gave a lecture about the disciplinary psychological repository PsyDok focusing on its integration into retrieval systems, long term preservation, quality control, the forthcoming implementation of a print on demand service, the usage of Creative Commons licenses, the intended use of new quality measurement techniques and other enhancements. Christiane Stock informed about LARA, the nationwide, multidisciplinary repository for grey literature at INIST-CNRS. Before LARA starts the holders of copyrights must be elicited (and arrangements concerning copyright must be made), “born digital” information must be indexed retrospectively, printed material must be digitalized, a workflow and publication model must be developed and the software DSpace must be customized. GL7 demanded to adopt a longsighted view: Firstly because the importance of an essential (and global) OA approach – a long way off all license and publishing houses versus OA advocates debates - became evident, secondly because it specified which obstacles will have to be overcome when these debates might have vanished.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


M. Carl Drott, Open Access, Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, vol. 40, 2006. Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

April SOAN

I just mailed the April issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue takes a close look at the new open access policy at Germany's DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft or German Research Foundation). The Top Stories section takes a brief look at the problem of OA to avian flu data, the campaign for OA to geodata in the UK, two OA presses from US universities, financial incentives at the University of Minho to fill its OA repository, and the new finding by the ALPSP that librarians are much more likely to cancel journals because of high prices than because of OA archiving.

Paying article charges at OA journals

Jan Velterop, Of cost and value, The Parachute, April 2, 2006. Excerpt:
Kate Corby's review of John Willinsky's book The Access Principle...says that "Perhaps the strongest point this book makes is that openly accessible scholarly information is more valuable [than] information published in journals with limited access."

On this point, I couldn't agree more with Willinsky. Yet if his point is valid, why is it that there are still plenty of members of the academic community, including OA advocates, who somehow balk at the idea of willing, OA-conscious publishers charging for the service of open access publishing? Isn't what one is prepared to pay for something an expression of its 'value'? So why is Academia prepared to shell out for subscriptions, but reluctant to pay for the article charges that come with OA publishing? In the aggregate, and in the traditional subscription model, Academia spends an amount far exceeding $3000 for every single article published in established journals. Why not spend that money on publishing all those articles with open access? And get more value to boot? Or is Academia just too anarchic to be sensible about this?

Comment. I don't object to author-side processing fees as a business model for OA journals. In fact, like Jan, I wish universities would join funding agencies in their willingness to pay them. I only object (1) when people call this business model the "author pays" model, or (2) when people assume that this is the only business model for OA journals. In fact, these fees are usually paid by funders or employers, not by authors out of pocket; when funders and employers won't pay the fees, journals often waive them; and the majority of OA journals charge no author-side fees at all.

Publisher policies don't affect self-archiving rates

Kristin Antelman, Self-archiving practice and the influence of publisher policies in the social sciences, Learned Publishing, April 2006. Only the abstract is free online, at least so far.
Authors in different disciplines exhibit very different behaviours on the so-called 'green' road to open access, i.e. self-archiving. This study looks at the self-archiving behaviour of authors publishing in leading journals in six social science disciplines. It tests the hypothesis that authors are self-archiving according to the norms of their respective disciplines rather than following self-archiving policies of publishers, and that, as a result, they are self-archiving significant numbers of publisher PDF versions. It finds significant levels of self-archiving, as well as significant self-archiving of the publisher PDF version, in all the disciplines investigated. Publishers' self-archiving policies have no influence on author self-archiving practice.

(PS: Several articles from the same issue might touch on OA issues, but I can't tell from the abstracts. See the TOC.)

Update. There is now an OA copy of the full-text at E-LIS.