Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 22, 2006

dLIST sharing its patches for OA-infrastructure software

dLIST has announced that all its patches for Eprints and PKP software (three patches each) are now available for downloading.

More on Biochemical Journal's century of free content

A highlight of Biochemical Journal's centenary, as noted by Peter Suber, is the completion of the Wellcome Trust funded retrodigitization project. The complete backfiles are freely available through both PubMed Central and the journal's website.

Biochemical Journal - Fulltext v217+ (1984+) 6-month moving wall Portland Press [current 6 months requires subscription] | PubMed Central; Print ISSN: 0264-6021 | Online ISSN: 1470-8728.

Biochemical Journal: Molecular Aspects - Fulltext v131-215 (1973-1983) [odd numbered volumes] Portland Press | PubMed Central; ISSN: 0306-3275.

Biochemical Journal: Cellular Aspects - Fulltext v132-216 (1973-1983) [even numbered volumes] Portland Press | PubMed Central; ISSN: 0306-3283.

Biochemical Journal - Fulltext v1-130 (1906-1972) Portland Press | PubMed Central; ISSN: 0006-2936.

PubMed Central mirrors 9 more BMC-hosted titles

Nine new independent, Open Access journals hosted by BioMed Central are now mirrored by PubMed Central.

Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy - Fulltext v1+ (2006+) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN: 1747-597X.

Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology - Fulltext v1+ (2006+) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN: 1745-6673.

Implementation Science - Fulltext v1+ (2006+) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN: 1748-5908.

Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases - Fulltext v1+ (2006+) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN: 1750-1172.

Radiation Oncology - Fulltext v1+ (2006+) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN: 1748-717X.

Algorithms for Molecular Biology - Fulltext v1+ (2006+) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN: 1748-7188.

International Breastfeeding Journal - Fulltext v1+ (2006+) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN: 1746-4358.

Journal of Biomedical Discovery and Collaboration - Fulltext v1+ (2006+) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN: 1747-5333.

Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery - Fulltext v1+ (2006+) BioMed Central | PubMed Central; ISSN: 1749-8090.

[Thanks to the PMC-News mailing list.]

More arrows miss the target

Steven E. Eckert, “Open Access” to Scientific Literature, The International Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Implants, March/April 2006. An editorial. Excerpt:
In an OA system the scientific literature is made available to any reader free of charge while the literature is maintained by the publisher. Although this sounds like a great idea on the surface, this business model has no obvious revenue stream to support the expenses of publication and literature maintenance. This issue of revenue is addressed in most OA proposals by having the author pay for manuscript management through the peer review system. The figure that is mentioned most often is US $3,000 per manuscript, and the assumption is that this charge will be made for every submitted manuscript. Since most peer-reviewed journals reject more articles than they accept, an “author pays” system could result in major up-front costs to authors who may never see their material published....The assumption is that the OA approach maintains the current method of peer review. Unfortunately, this may not be the case for all OA articles, and distinguishing peer-reviewed articles from non–peer-reviewed articles might be impossible. If peer review were eliminated, the system would change from open access to open forum....

Comment. This editorial is full of misunderstandings that would have been caught if it had been subject to peer review. (1) The majority of OA journals charge no author-side fees at all. (2) The majority of OA journals that do charge author-side fees charge substantially less than $3,000. (3) The majority of OA journals charging fees only charge for accepted papers. Authors of rejected work pay nothing. (4) It's no harder to tell when OA literature has been peer-reviewed than it is for non-OA literature. Moreover, all the major OA definitions and declarations call for OA to peer-reviewed literature, not for the bypassing of peer review. BTW, as of today the DOAJ lists 2,202 peer-reviewed OA journals.

More on the Yashar Books OA project

Giving Away Books Online, PR News Now, April 19, 2006. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
"Yashar Books is doing something bold" writes Rabbi Jeffrey Saks, director of ATID, in "Lamed" news blog on Jewish education. "They're giving books away for free online. Their 'Open Access' project just uploaded the entire text of a new biography, Rabbi Israel Salanter: Religious- Ethical Thinker. Check it out."  Making good on its promise to offer full texts of books online, the Open Access Project...has made the full text of its $24.95 hardcover edition available for free download.

Will that hurt sales? "We want people to share the ideas," says Gil Student, president of Yashar Books. "We are convinced that an open give and take of ideas will create the right atmosphere for more learning and more book buying."  Yashar's Open Access calls on scholars, readers and thinkers everywhere to join as "Idea Ambassadors" and spread the word about The Open Access Project to friends and colleagues.

More on the serials pricing crisis

Matthew Weinberger, Library Faces Shrinking Acquisitions Budget, Stony Brook Independent, April 20, 2006. Excerpt:
During the 2003-2004 fiscal year, approximately $600,000 was spent on around 16,000 books, according to Min-Huei Lu, the head of monographic acquisitions. However, for the 2005-2006 fiscal year, which ends on Apr. 1st, approximately $400,000 was allocated for new monographic acquisitions, all but $15,000 of which has been spent, Lu said. This reflects an approximate one-third drop in the actual acquisitions budget. This means simply that as E-journal costs go up, the budget for new materials goes down. The reason for this shrinking budget is the rise in cost of electronic resources, Lu said. While printed materials are still being acquired on behalf of the humanities and social sciences at Stony Brook University, the sciences prefer the electronic journals and databases that are becoming more prevalent in their fields, she said. The problem is that the subscription rates don’t always match the rate of inflation. E-journal prices rise an estimated 10 percent faster than budget adjustments, Nathan Baum, the assistant director for electronic resources and services, said...."Our first commitment is to the serials," said [Dean and Director of Libraries Christian Filstrup].

OA archiving for librarian-authors

Rachel Singer Gordon, How to Get Published: Publish, don't Perish! Emerald Library Link. Undated but March 2006 or later, judging by the citations. Excerpt:
Many librarian authors find that depositing work in online open-access (OA) LIS archives complements writing for LIS journals. While a number of academic institutions offer space for faculty to self-archive their work (and some even require it), librarian authors should also consider self-archiving their articles, presentations, and other work in a subject-specific cross-institutional archive. Archives generally take both published and unpublished work, as well as preprints, conference papers, theses, working papers and reports, and any other relevant material authors wish to contribute.... Why post your work in an OA repository? Individual advantages to participating in online open-access archives include: [1] Easy archiving....[2] Increased citation....[3] Increased exposure....[4] International representation....[5] Long-term preservation....[6] Participation in projects that complement the philosophy of librarianship....[7] Stimulation of “open peer review.”...

When placing your work with a journal publisher, consider that publisher’s willingness to let you archive your work in an open access repository. Pay special attention to copyright agreements, which vary tremendously from publisher to publisher. Some leave copyright with the author and give you the right to archive your work (on your own web site, or with a general or institution-specific repository) after a certain period of time; others will demand all rights to your work in perpetuity. Read before you sign, and think about how big a priority OA archiving is to you.

Comment. Good advice. I have just one caution. Authors should deposit their work in OA repositories in addition to publishing it in peer-reviewed journals. If they deposit in repositories instead of publishing in journals, then they bypass peer review, which is neither a gain for research nor a goal of OA. (I'm not saying that Singer disagrees.)

Interview with SPARC Director Heather Joseph

Matt Pasiewicz has a podcast interview with Heather Joseph from the 2006 CNI Spring Task Force Meeting. From his description:
In this 22 minute recording, we'll hear from Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition).   She'll be sharing some information about the activities of SPARC, The Alliance for Taxpayer Access, and we'll talk about open access.  We'll also touch on their international efforts including the launch of SPARC Japan and SPARC's interest in the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The benefits of OA

Back in mid-March medinfo asked its readers to define "open access". Today it posted the results (in German), which are more about the benefits of OA than the definition. The most common answers were fairness to taxpayers (41%) and solving the serials pricing crisis (26%). Further down the tail, a few readers said profiting the cleverest publishers (6%), fulfilling an ethical obligation in clinical research (4%), and killing libraries (2%). Apparently no one mentioned increasing the audience and impact of authors.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Publishers group "welcomes" EC report

The International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM) has issued a press release (April 19, 2006) on the EC report on open access. Excerpt:
STM will review the results of the Study in greater detail and looks forward to further discussions and collaboration with DG-Research. Jerry Cowhig, Managing Director of Institute of Physics Publishing and current Chair of STM said, 'STM welcomes unbiased research into STM publishing and is pleased that the DG-Research highlights the importance of STM publishing to the European Union and society in general. It has been estimated that STM's members produce over 70% of the total annual output of global research information, so we intend to contribute significantly to the debate concerning science publishing. Science is fundamental to improving the lives of EU citizens. Ensuring a viable basis for science publishing is fundamental to the dissemination and understanding of science.'

PS: I think I'm missing the point of this press release. STM welcomes unbiased research into STM publishing, but doesn't say whether the EC report qualifies. It acknowledges the report, but doesn't respond to any of its recommendations for OA, positively or negatively.

Will the EC report strengthen the RCUK draft policy?

Stephen Pincock, Will EU beat UK in open access? TheScientist, April 21, 2006. Excerpt:
A European Commission report this month urged science funders to guarantee open access to research outputs. Meanwhile, the umbrella group for Britain's research councils is still working on its own policy, 10 months after releasing a draft policy on open access.  The EU report, published at the beginning of April, recommends that European funding agencies promote and support the archiving of publications in open repositories. "This archiving could become a condition for funding," its authors suggest.

The report doesn't directly call for funders to mandate open access, but it is still big news, said Peter Suber from the Open Access Project at Public Knowledge, an advocacy group that focuses on the dissemination of information. In his long-running blog, Suber said: "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."  Suber also said he hoped the report would have wide ramifications. "I hope this report strengthens the final draft of the RCUK [Research Councils UK] 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."

RCUK published a draft policy on open access in June last year. That document would have required scientists funded by the research councils to deposit papers in an online repository, and was warmly greeted by supporters of open access. But it generated a hostile reaction from some journal publishers and learned societies.  Since then, RCUK has been involved in lengthy discussions with publishers, scientists, government departments, and other groups with the aim of refining its position, said Adrian Pugh, policy and support manager for the RCUK secretariat. The end of that process is not yet in sight....

The EC's report will definitely feed into that ongoing process, Pugh told The Scientist, but won't necessarily be given special emphasis. "We will consider it in the same way that we consider any report that offers a position on the issue," he said. In recent times, the Wellcome Trust, the NIH and others have also weighed in on the subject. Phil Willis, Member of Parliament for Harrogate and Knaresborough, and chairman of the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology, said the length of time being taken by RCUK was "unacceptable."  "I think it's about time they made it clear what their position is, and that their position is in line with the EC report," he told The Scientist. "The principle should be that if the tax payer pays for it, then they decide about access."

Defending OA to clinical trial data

Matthew James Cockerill and Melissa Norton, Assessing Clinical Trial Results, Science Magazine, April 21, 2006. A letter to the editor. Cockerill and Norton are both from BioMed Central. Excerpt:
In her policy forum "Clinical trials results databases: unanswered questions" (13 Jan., p. 180), C. B. Fisher warns of several undesirable effects that might result from open access to raw data from clinical trials. Referring to the editorial policy of a new journal, Fisher suggests that "lack of emphasis on the direction of results or size … risks diluting scientific standards for peer review."

In fact, neither the size of a trial nor the direction of its results in itself determines the trial's scientific validity. Certainly, it is vital that trials based on small numbers of participants and trials delivering negative results should not be overinterpreted. But, if properly conducted and controlled, small trials and trials with negative results can both make important contributions to medical knowledge....

Fisher also wonders whether "the availability of large bodies of data from studies that may or may not have scientific merit will improve or distract from the peer-review process." Recent events in South Korea and elsewhere strongly suggest that making additional raw data available to peer reviewers whenever possible would be desirable. While not eliminating the possibility of fraud, it would at least make it less straightforward and so, arguably, less tempting....

Any science, including published peer-reviewed research, may be abused by misinterpretation. This should not be used as a justification for hiding important data behind closed doors.

New OA database on drugs and lactation

The US National Library of Medicine has launched LactMed, an OA database on drugs that are safe and unsafe for lactating women and their breastfed infants. (Thanks to ResearchBuzz.)

New feature at Google Scholar

Dejan Perkovic, Keeping up with recent research, Google Blog, April 20, 2006. Excerpt:

Today we're launching a feature of Google Scholar which will make it easier for researchers to keep up with recent research. From quantum computing to copper binding in prion protein. It's not just a plain sort by date, but rather we try to rank recent papers the way researchers do, by looking at the prominence of the author's and journal's previous papers, how many citations it already has, when it was written, and so on. Look for the new link on the upper right for "Recent articles" -- or switch to "All articles" for the full list.  Scholarly endeavors are about learning what has already been done and building on it. We hope this feature will help researchers worldwide learn from and build on the latest advances.

Update. For a few other new features at Google Scholar, see Anurag Acharya's posting to SOAF this morning. Excerpt:

Google Scholar now has an additional mode to search for "recent articles". This is not a sort-by-date. Rather it tries to approximate how researchers select new papers to read by taking into account prominence of the authors' and the journals' previous papers, how long the paper has been published, the number of citations and so on. This mode can be selected by clicking on the "Recent Articles" link that appears on the top right of search result pages. You can read more about it and see some examples in Dejan's blog post.

In addition to this, we now link to thirteen national/regional union catalogs for the Library Search functionality. This allows users to find libraries that are holding books that they are looking for. If we are working with a union catalog in your region, links will appear automatically in search results. You can also select links to specific union catalogs using the "Library Links" search box on the Scholar Preferences page. Finally, we now facilitate citation import to EndNote, RefWorks, Refman and Bibtex. This can be enabled by an option on the Scholar Preferences page.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Biointerphases - new OA journal

Biointerphases has published its first issue, March 2006. Biointerphases is published by AVS, formerly the American Vacuum Society, and hosted by the American Institute of Physics.
Topics Include… •Interface spectroscopy •In vivo mechanisms •In vitro mechanisms •Interface modeling •Adhesion phenomena •Protein-surface interactions •Biomembranes on a chip •Cell-surface interactions •Biosensors / biodiagnostics •Bio-surface modification •The nano-bio interface •Biotribology / Biorheology •Molecular recognition •Cell patterning for function •Polyelectrolyte surfaces •Ambient diagnostic methods
From the introductory editorial:
So why did we start Biointerphases, which is placed amongst several competitors trying to publish the best science in the emerging field of "biological" surface science? If there would not be some very special and unique features to our new journal, we would not have taken over the responsibility to make this a successful and rewarding enterprise.

First, let us remark on the title, with includes the word "phase" in italics: Except for the solid/ vacuum interface at low temperatures, there probably is no other two-dimensional interface. In particular in solutions there will always be a gradient between the solid substrate and the bulk solution, and the same is true for solid/solid and inorganic/organic, and organic/organic interfaces; they all have a higher dimension, and a gradient which drives interfacial processes. Hence, the use of "interphase" rather than "interface" is to emphasise the higher dimensionality of the systems we discuss here.

The idea to launch a journal on biointerphase science has been around for a long time in the community. As is plainly evident, those active in the field spread their publications over several chemistry, physics and chemical, physical journals. There is no unique forum for the community to discuss issues of common interest, to announce meetings and other events, or to provide a job forum for post docs and young scientists. And finally, since biointerphase science involves scientists from all continents and many scientific fields, a common and freely accessible platform is needed to communicate our results and facilitate new collaborations.

These are good and honorable reasons to launch a new journal, but how will it be able to survive financially while providing unrestricted and free access to its content? First, we believe that those who are part of the community will support the journal by submitting their best work, and paying the very competitive and modest publication charges. Second, we will offer an interesting and diverse content including: regular articles; critical reviews; editorial commentary and perspectives, reports on ongoing research programs; opinionated essays and letters to the editor. This will hopefully not only make Biointerphases an attractive journal to read, but also has the potential to attract commercial and philanthropic sponsors. Third, we will strive for a very short turn around time (45 days) from submission to appearance on the web for articles requiring minimal editing or changes. But, of course, ultimately, the journals success will hinge on the acceptance and support by the biointerphase community.

Without the continuing support and financial engagement of the AVS this new journal would not have been what it is and what it will be. Without the willingness of all our colleagues and friends who serve on the Advisory Board and as co-editors, the Journal would not have started. We thank them all for their generous support providing ideas, concepts, and much of their precious time. Last, but by no means least, our thanks goes to Nancy Schultheis at the editorial office, whose untiring efforts drove the publication of this first issue of Biointerphases.

Biointerphases - Fulltext v1+ (2006+); ISSN: 1559-4106.

UNU supports open source and open standards

United Nations University has adopted a policy on open source and open standards. I'd call it exemplary but for the fact that it doesn't mention open access and takes no position on OA to publicly-funded research or even to research performed by UNU faculty. Maybe in Phase Two of its commitment to openness--

More OA resources in chemistry

The April issue of the ChemRefer Newsletter is now online. The newsletter describes and links to notable, and mostly new, OA resources in chemistry.

More on the EC report

European Panel Endorses Broad Open-Access Policy for Research, News Blog of the Chronicle of Higher Education, April 19, 2006. Excerpt:

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has issued a report that recommends open access to all publicly financed research....The report calls for a “guarantee” of open access. It recommends creating that guarantee by having researchers put copies of published articles in online archives that are free to all. Such a step would be stronger than the one taken nearly a year ago by the National Institutes of Health, which merely requested that its grantees put copies of their published articles in the agency’s own online repository, PubMed Central....Open-access advocates, including Peter Suber, director of the Open Access Project at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit group that advocates the free flow of information, hope the report will spur national governments --or even all of Europe-- to make such public archiving mandatory. (Mr. Suber has blogged about the report here.) But scientific publishers fear that if research papers are free on the Web, readers may stop paying for subscriptions.

Richard Poynder interviews Cory Doctorow

Richard Poynder has posted his interview with Cory Doctorow. 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:

[A]ll his works are published under Creative Commons licences, which allow people to download free electronic copies of his books, and to re-distribute and rework them. And with each new book Doctorow has tended to adopt ever more liberal licensing terms....His readers have responded positively: Down and Out has been widely adapted, translated and remixed by third parties....More importantly, Doctorow has discovered that liberal licensing can make good business sense. Despite Down and Out being available as a free download, he boasts, "that sucker has blown through five print editions, so I'm not worried that giving away books is hurting my sales." In other words, Doctorow has demonstrated that providing free electronic copies of creative works is an excellent publicity strategy, and can lead to higher print sales....The point, says Doctorow, is that he is not some "patchouli-scented, fuzzy-headed, 'information wants to be free' info-hippie", but an entrepreneur seeking new business models. "I believe that we live in an era where anything that can be expressed as bits will be. I believe that bits exist to be copied. Therefore, I believe that any business-model that depends on your bits not being copied is just dumb, and that lawmakers who try to prop these up are like governments that sink fortunes into protecting people who insist on living on the sides of active volcanoes. Me, I'm looking to find ways to use copying to make more money and it's working: enlisting my readers as evangelists for my work and giving them free eBooks to distribute sells more books." [...]

RP: Might the reverse be true: could it be that today's technologies require openness in a way that previous technologies did not? Open Source people, for instance, argue that software is now so complex that it requires a very large number of eyeballs to root out all the bugs. I'm was also struck by your comments earlier when you said that in order to develop cognitive radio developers need unrestricted access to the technology?

CD: Eric Raymond has a great riff about this, where he talks about the difference between chemistry and alchemy. There was a 500-year dark age of alchemy, he says, during which every single alchemist had to discover for himself the hard way that drinking mercury was bad for you, and he then took that secret to his grave. Today we have chemistry, and the difference between chemistry and alchemy rests on whether or not you publish the outcome of your experiments. Once people started publishing the outcome of their experiments the world changed in a very short time. What had been a collection of superstitions that killed you as often as it advanced your understanding of the natural world turned into a science.

RP: So there is nothing different about modern technologies that necessitates greater openness?

CD: What has really changed is the ability to collaborate. We now live in a world where the barriers to knowledge are coming down; the barriers to access are coming down; and so the barriers to collaboration are coming down.

Unintended costs of selling public data rather than giving it away

Charles Arthur, Living on the street with no name, The Guardian, April 20, 2006. Excerpt:
Emlyn Williams is mystified: why doesn’t his house show up on satellite navigation systems? It was built in 1988, and he moved there in 1996, yet from time to time delivery drivers complain that they can’t find it....So what is going on?...The Williams house’s apparent invisibility is caused by the eagerness of the Post Office and Ordnance Survey (OS) to sell their postcode and geographic address data sets respectively. That wouldn’t happen if both provided their data free, as the Guardian Technology Free Our Data campaign argues they should....[W]hy don’t all in-car navigation systems use the data collected by the UK’s mapping agency? Because it’s expensive....

I've omitted most of the details from this long, depressing story, but only because Arthur has posted a short version to Free Our Data: the blog this morning. Excerpt:

Why can’t [delivery services using satellite navigation systems] find [Williams' house]? Because although local councils create the address information, which they send to the Post Office, which sends it to the Ordnance Survey (which “puts it on the map”), satellite navigation companies can’t always afford the OS prices. And councils are barred from selling the location data to satnav companies - because they use OS products to record any changes. (We’ve got council minutes.) Which means that in order to save some small sums for the taxpayer, by making OS revenue-neutral, taxpayers have to bear the extra congestion and pollution caused by drivers trying to find locations, while satnav systems’ prices are either kept artificially high, or are inadequate. The data’s all there, recorded by public bodies. Who are we “protecting” by charging so much for it?

Data on the use of CC licenses

Creative Commons has launched a statistics page with fascinating data showing (among other things) that the least restrictive CC licenses are the most commonly used. A CC blog posting explains some of the findings.

Fedora's wiki

Fedora has launched a wiki. Fedora (Flexible Extensible Digital Object and Repository Architecture) is one of the leading open-source packages for building OA, OAI-compliant repositories.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Milestone for California's eScholarship Repository

Last night the University of California's eScholarship Repository logged its 3 millionth full-text download. As I type, the number is up to 3,006,465, which means 6,465 full-text downloads in less than one day. Quoting Catherine Candee, Director of Publishing and Strategic Initiatives at the California Digital Library:
It took a year and a half for the repository to register the first million downloads, about nine months to reach the second million, and 166 days to reach the 3 million mark!

More on Open J-Gate

Open J-Gate now allows users to limit searches to peer-reviewed journals. Of the 3,000+ OA journals included in Open J-Gate, nearly 2,000 are peer-reviewed.

PS: This is a most welcome enhancement.

More on Wikipedia for serious research in chemistry

David Bradley, Interview with Martin Walker, Reactive Reports, April 2006. Excerpt:

Tell me about WikiChem.

At present, there is an unbelievable amount of chemical information out there, but most of this is inaccessible from a general web search without paying money. I found my students using web searches as a principle method for finding information, but there is limited free information on the web. There are some very useful sites like and, but material on these sites still carries copyright restrictions. I like the fact that with Wikipedia (a) Information is very easy to find; (b) Everything is linked seamlessly into a vast array of information - so if you find out that Ryoji Noyori was born in Kobe, Japan, you can click on the link to learn about Kobe - that comprehensiveness is something the chemistry-only sites can never have. There are many useful external links and references too; and (c) Nearly all of the content is free of copyright, and anything that isn't is tagged as such.

PS: I first blogged Martin Walker's enthusiasm for putting serious chemical research on Wikipedia back in February.

Jill Walker on OA repositories

Jill Walker has blogged some notes before and after her presentation on OA institutional repositories today at the dSpace User Group Meeting (Bergen, April 19-21, 2006). Excerpt:
I know they want me to talk quite specifically about my experiences putting my publications into BORA, but of course I want to talk about blogs and openness and the information scavenging we do online that doesn’t always fit with a database-model of publication. And I want to talk about the difference between my own, personalised publication archive, shaped completely by me and even with my face grinning out at you, and the impersonal results BORA give you if you search for publications by “Jill Walker”. If we find and use knowledge through our social networks, the individuality and the “face” of publication archives is probably as important an accessory to it as the body language and voice and style and dress of a presenter at a conference, or as the cover and quality of print and publisher of a book....I wish everything anyone at our university published was automatically routed to BORA, even if I suppose maybe books might have to have restricted access for a while if the publishers are to have any interest in actually publishing them. But I want a system where I can register stuff once and automatically fetch out info, links and contextual links for my own, personalised publication page. That’s the page I really care about. I wish everything anyone at our university published was automatically routed to BORA, even if I suppose maybe books might have to have restricted access for a while if hte publishers are to have any interest in actually publishing them....

My wishlist: [1] I want the data I enter to be usable by other web applications - an open API....[2] I want RSS feeds that I can put in my website, the way I can put my most recently bookmarked articles from CiteULike there....[3] I want to be able to click a keyword on an article and see other articles not just in my own institution’s repository but across repositories. [4] I want the University to be the bad guy and insist that everything I publish go into the Institutional Repository. That way I can blame the university when I have to argue with the journals and publishers. [5] I want the University to make a contract I can send the publishers to simplify this process for me. [6] I only want to deal with one system! I don’t want to register my publication in FRIDA and in BORA (they’re going to be combined, I’m promised)

Library student launches OA journal for library students

LIS student Jason Hammond has won the Spirit of Librarianship Award from his school for a raft of good deeds, one of which was helping to "initiate a new open-access online journal for LIS students, called Cantilever." I can't find a web site for Cantilever yet, but will blog it when I can. Meantime, congratulations to Jason and best wishes for the new journal.

(Apparently he's a student at the University of Western Ontario Faculty of Information and Media Studies, but I'm not sure.)

Update (5/1/06). Jason Hammond did not create Cantilever. That honor goes to David Jackson. Hammond works on it with Jackson, Linda Bussiere, and Sabina Jane Iseli-Otto, all students at U of Western Ontario.

OA medical literature, lay readers, professional help

Jon Udell, Commons-based peer production and the medical information monopoly, InfoWorld, April 17, 2006. (Thanks to medinfo.) Excerpt:

A decade ago I consulted with a federal health agency on the redesign of its website. They wanted to use the web to make more health care information readily available to more people, but they didn't have much to offer. My suggestion was to leverage what we now call commons-based peer production, which then was mostly happening on the Usenet. The feds were deeply conflicted about that. They knew people were exchanging lots of useful information in newsgroups. But they also knew there was a lot of quackery, and they couldn't imagine themselves separating the wheat from the chaff. It was a valid concern. There was no way that they, alone, could patrol the likes of and highlight the most useful advice for, say, people recovering from knee replacement....

Medicine is, among other things, a kind of information monopoly, as are other professional fields including IT. It's inevitable that peer production will challenge these information monopolies, and medicine is a particulary interesting test case.  Watching for signs of change, I've been following medical blogs and podcasts. One that caught my ear recently was this interview with J. Scott Armstrong, a Wharton School professor whose interests include scientific peer review and transparency in medicine. At one point he discusses his own experience with prostate cancer. This guy is clearly not a typical patient. He regards his personal physician as an adviser who points him to relevant medical literature, discusses it with him, and helps him reach decisions.  At one point, faced with possible prostate cancer, Armstrong's doctor referred him to a specialist because his PSA (prostate-specific antigen) was at level 5. The specialist told him that because it was level 5, he should have a biopsy. "Well yeah," Armstrong says in the interview, "I can read." He expected the specialist to add value -- to customize that general and widely-known recommendation in ways that accounted for his particular circumstances. That didn't happen.

Not everyone is willing or able to dig into the medical literature. But some are, and they can publish what they find for the rest of us to discover....Over time, as more such resources accumulate online, the web’s natural peer review and reputation effects will kick in. Health care folks can’t vet all this stuff, but they shouldn’t have to. People will vote with their links for the information that’s valid and useful. What will health care folks do then? Two things, I hope. First, work with us to gather and refine useful sources. Second, use their expertise to guide our interpretations of those sources.

Presentations on the OCA

The presentations from othe DLF Spring Forum (Austin, April 10-12, 2006) are now online. See especially the presentations on the Open Content Alliance by Rick Prelinger, Robin Chandler, and Merrilee Proffitt. (Thanks to William Walsh.)

More on the Iraqi Virtual Science Library

Iraqi Virtual Science Library: Rebuilding a National Dream, Education Commons, April 18, 2006. An unsigned feature story. Excerpt:
Recognizing the need to rebuild the science and engineering infrastructure in Iraq, a group of fellows from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) launched the IVSL project in 2005. Together, Cindi Warren Mentz as Director of Nonproliferation Programs at the US Civilian Research and Development Foundation and Dr. Susan Cumberledge an Associate Professor Dept of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the University of Massachusetts in Amerst, are making a major contribution to information access in a critical part of our world.

The Iraqi Virtual Science Library (IVSL) is a digital library that provides Iraqi Universities and Research Institutes with access to an outstanding collection of science, engineering and computer science journals as well as technical information and educational resources. Its goal is to help rebuild the educational infrastructure and economy in Iraq. The IVSL is being implemented in coordination with the Iraqi government, with the ultimate goal of transitioning the pilot program into a long-term project sponsored and supported entirely by Iraq. Associated computer software and IT systems and training. The US State Department; with the generous donations of publishing companies and professional societies; and partnerships with the US National Academy of Sciences and Sun Microsystems have all contributed [alongside 11 important Iraqi research institutions].

Comment. The IVSL is not OA. It's only accessible to those affiliated with the participating institutions, somewhat like a site-licensed commercial aggregation. On the one hand, I'm glad that the US is helping to restore the academic infrastructure destroyed by the invasion, and I understand that comparatively little of the literature Iraqi researchers need is yet OA. But at the same time, the sponsors could also build OA infrastructure in Iraq, such as OA repositories at the major research institutions, to share new Iraqi research with fellow Iraqis and the rest of the world.

OA and data sharing in Southern Africa

Participants in the workshop, Strategies for Permanent Access to Scientific Information in Southern Africa: Focus on Health and Environmental Information for Sustainable Development (Pretoria, September 5-7, 2005), have produced a report of the same title. From the executive summary:
The following recommendations are not directed specifically at CODATA and ICSU, but rather to the broader S&T policy, funding, and research management communities. They arose from several of the plenary discussions and are more general than the discipline-specific suggestions.

Data sharing

  • Raise awareness of S&T data and information preservation, access and sharing successes and challenges: [1] Promote awareness of data issues in ministries and universities. [2] Follow up with the participants in this workshop to continue further dialogue. [3] Identify regional conferences and workshops at which the results of this workshop can be presented. Take the conversation to others. [4] Continue to describe and promote workable models for sustainable open access.
  • Foster the development of a list of core datasets of who holds what data. This would facilitate data sharing. The NASA Global Change Master Directory is an example of such a directory and a possible model for action. Leveraging the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) initiative is one such opportunity. [...]

Promoting open access funding policies [for biodiversity data].

  • GBIF is developing policy statements for funding agencies that require datasharing and maintenance plans, similar to the International Long Term Ecological Research programme’s data policy model.
  • Various scientific ‘information commons’ initiatives are being established worldwide, including some specific to the area of conservation commons. The Southern African Millennium Assessment (2001–2005) provides an avenue to promote this work in the SADC region. [...]

The following kinds of actions should be taken with regard to scientific, technical and medical (STM) journals:

  • Establish and implement policy interventions by research funders (including governments and institutions) that: [1] Mandate that scholars make preprints and eprints of their research available via an open access medium. [2] Mandate long-term curation of research outputs, both in the interests of the individual researchers who produce the articles, but also in recognition of the shared character of the global research enterprise.
  • Promote the value of open access approaches to the research funding bodies by: [1] Involving researchers and managers in describing the real challenges as well as solutions (using available local success stories). [2] Establishing training programmes for researchers and for journal funders and producers.
  • Create high-quality regional information repository facilities where individual publications, or the output of small subgroups of scientists, can be costeffectively preserved, and openly available. [1] This will support the digitisation of more African material. [2] Promote the establishment of open institutional repositories. [3] Include national repositories to archive national heritage items and provide quality-control functions such as selection, appraisal and retention.

The report was prepared by the CODATA Task Group on Preservation of and Access to S&T Data in Developing Countries, the South African National Committee for CODATA, and the U.S. National Committee for CODATA. Though the report itself is undated, it was announced on April 17, 2006.

More on the EC report and Elsevier

Dan Milmo, Publishers watch in fear as a new world comes into view, The Guardian, April 19, 2006. Excerpt:
The move by the European commission to free up access to scientific research is the latest challenge posed by the internet to the way Reed Elsevier does business. The Anglo-Dutch publisher of the Lancet and Variety magazine is one of the most internet-savvy media groups, but while it has harnessed the web to reduce its costs, it is also threatening the group's lucrative core business. Reed performs a vital service for research scientists, who need to share knowledge. It is the world's largest publisher of science journals, a $9bn (£5bn) market which involves verifying, editing and printing the work of those scientists to sell to universities and corporate research laboratories. Reed's scientific journals arm accounts for about a third of the group's underlying profits, according to analysts' estimates, so any threat to its market-leading position is eyed nervously by investors. The man in charge of Reed's science and medical business, Erik Engstrom, is confident that the journals unit will grow at a healthy pace - the target is 5% revenue growth over the next few years. But in recent years the threat of alternative models for circulating scientific papers has emerged from the internet. So far none has made a dent in Reed's profits, but that has not stopped debate over the long-term growth prospects of its cornerstone business. Google Scholar, which collates academic material, including scientific research, and publishes it on the web for free, is one of those nascent threats. Scholar trawls the web for scientific papers, and also makes available pre-publication work. Mr Engstrom recasts the perceived challenge as an opportunity. "We see Google as a very important business partner," he says. An experienced publisher, the former chief executive of Random House, he describes Google as a "pointing engine" that complements Reed's business rather than hijacking it....

The other perceived threat to Reed's journals is open access. The movement has two distinct strands: open access publishing, where authors pay to have their articles published on the web so they can be viewed for free, and author self-archiving, where an article published in a subscription journal is also placed on the researcher's own website, again for anyone to read for free. Open access has been spurred by pressure on academic library budgets, which rose at between 1% and 3% between 2001 and 2005, while journal subscriptions have risen year-on-year - the cost of a Reed journal rose 5.5% in 2004. It is a fledgling movement, but has attracted high-profile backers including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the worldwide web, and the House of Commons science and technology select committee. Reed says open access is not a creditable business model and points to the logistical and financial challenge of replicating its 1,800 journals on a free basis. As for author self-archiving, Reed has altered its copyright agreements to allow its authors to place their own articles on the web.

Comment. Two corrections for Milmo: (1) Google Scholar doesn't "collate academic material...and publish it on the web for free." All free content indexed by Google Scholar is already free online, hosted by other institutions. (2) The open access movement is not a "fledgling movement"; it's just about exactly as old as networked computers. One correction for Engstrom: open access is a kind of access, not a kind of business model; it's compatible with many different business models.

P2P Foundation podcasts and webcasts

The P2P Foundation has compiled a series of podcasts and webcasts on topics related to open source, open access, and other openness initiatives.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More on the EC report

Richard Wray, Brussels delivers blow to Reed Elsevier, The Guardian, April 19, 2006. Excerpt:
Scientific research funded by the European taxpayer should be freely available to everyone over the internet, according to a European commission report - a blow to the lucrative scientific publishing operations of media groups such as Reed Elsevier and Germany's Springer. The report, produced by economists from Toulouse University and the Free University of Brussels for the EC, shows that in the 20 years to 1995 the price of scientific journals rose 300% more than the rate of inflation over the period. In the 10 years since then, price increases slowed but still significantly outpaced inflation. "While it is important to stress the societal value of the existing publication system, it is also important to acknowledge the societal cost linked to high journal prices, in financial terms for public budgets, but also in terms of limits on the dissemination of knowledge and therefore of further scientific progress," the report concludes.

The report, published this month and open to consultation until the summer, recommends open access to publicly funded research. It proposes that researchers who receive EU funding should be "mandated" to place copies of articles published in subscription journals on web-based archives that can be accessed by everyone for free. The worry for traditional publishers such as Reed, Springer, Blackwell and the hundreds of learned societies that make their money through journals, is that if research is available for free on the internet no one will pay subscriptions....

Peter Willis, Liberal Democrat MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough and current chair of the science and technology select committee, described the EC report as "a good trigger for the UK government and science minister Lord Sainsbury to say this is something we support as well....I am delighted at the EC's recommendations and indeed hope it will act as a catalyst for the UK government to apply similar principles to the publishing market in the UK," he said. "Now is the time to bite the bullet and say this is the future of publishing."...[BioMed Central] publisher, Matthew Cockerill, said of the EC report: "It confirms what BioMed Central has been saying for some time - that scientists and funders are getting a poor deal from the traditional publishing system, which delivers limited access at high cost."

Another review of Willinsky

Gene Glass and Sherman Dorn review John Willinsky's The Access Principle (MIT Press, 2005) in the TCRecord, February 27, 2006. (Thanks to A.G. Rud.) Excerpt:

The Access Principle is a brilliant book, meticulously researched, and richly documented. The timing could not be better, for online journal publishing continues to expand. The mail for January 24, 2006, brought the announcement of the creation of still another open access "online" journal of education scholarship. Counting this most recent addition, the list of peer-reviewed, open access scholarly journals in education numbers 93, representing over a dozen nations (see the list of links maintained by the AERA SIG on Communication of Research). Willinsky himself has supported this expansion with the Public Knowledge Project at the University of British Columbia, whose “proof of concept” Open Journal Systems is a working support structure that dozens of online journals use in some capacity.  A revolution is underway, and Willinsky is just the person to analyze it....

The access principle as Willinsky puts it is that "[a] commitment to the value and quality of research carries with it a responsibility to extend the circulation of such work as far as possible and ideally to all who are interested in it and all who might profit from it" (p. xii). Pushed to its limits, the access principle encounters the sticky cases of proprietary research, as in the pharmaceutical or weapons industries, where the desire to attain widest possible dissemination clearly must be qualified. But restricted to the narrower domain of social science and education scholarship, the principle embodies an aspiration to be fostered and a goal to be vigorously pursued. Indeed, Willinsky goes so far as to suggest that "the excessive increase in journal prices over the last two decades is a human-rights issue" (p. 143). Drawing on the work of political scientist Richard Pierre Claude and philosopher Jacques Derrida, Willinsky concludes that "[t]he right to know that is inherent in the access principle has a claim on our humanity that stands with other basic rights, whether to life, liberty, justice, or respect" (p. 143).

Willinsky is at his most forceful when writing of the responsibility of universities to provide access to knowledge: "Universities may now be at risk, as Derrida warns, of ’becoming a branch office of conglomerates and corporations’. . . . Yet the knowledge that the universities produce already stands, in too many cases, as corporate assets for Blackwell, Springer, and Elsevier. . . If the rightly celebrated independence of the university has a higher purpose, it surely includes creating knowledge that will stand as a beacon for the right to know, as well as for knowledge that is useful in the struggle for human rights. The open access movement has done no more than demonstrate how the right to know can be more fully realized by more people, if scholars and researchers seize hold of current opportunities" (pp. 153-154)....The modern entrepreneurial university shows its true colors in its failure to grasp the opportunity that communications technology and open access present....University administrators, once apprised of the visibility that a free-to-read online journal can attain, are known to ask about the possibility of charging for access. And not just universities but professional and scholarly organizations themselves often put financial interests above the mission of dissemination of knowledge. This might be understandable, but it becomes mysterious when these organizations make no attempt to take advantage of the technologies that minimize costs....

Much of the rest of the review looks at specific OA journals and projects in the field of education.

Herbert Van de Sompel named first SPARC Innovator

SPARC Recognizes Herbert Van De Sompel For Outstanding Contributions To Scholarly Communication, a press release from SPARC, April 18, 2006. Excerpt:
SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has named Herbert Van de Sompel, who leads the Digital Library Research and Prototyping Team at the Research Library of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), as the first SPARC Innovator. The SPARC Innovator program is a new initiative that recognizes an individual, institution, or group that exemplifies SPARC principles by working to challenge the status quo in scholarly communication for the benefit of researchers, libraries, universities, and the public. SPARC Innovators will be featured on the SPARC Web site each month.

Herbert Van de Sompel, the first SPARC Innovator, is the initiator of the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) and the open reference linking framework (OpenURL). The Open Archives Initiative develops and promotes interoperability standards that aim to facilitate the efficient dissemination of content, and it has had wide-ranging influence on a variety of other initiatives within the open access and institutional repository movements. To read more about Van de Sompel, please see the SPARC Innovator Web page.

“Herbert is one of our leading thinkers on system architecture,” said Clifford Lynch, executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), who has worked extensively with Van de Sompel. “What's striking to me, however, is the extent to which his work in this area is driven by his commitment to improving information flow and information access within the global system of scholarly communication. This gives his work a concreteness and focus, a validation and verification, that's very important to its quality and depth.”

“Herbert Van de Sompel paired a background in technology with a vision of a new infrastructure for ‘open’ information. He brought tremendous dedication and perseverance to the task of finding support and making the connections necessary to see this vision through,” said Heather Joseph, SPARC Executive Director. “He used his intellect as well as street smarts to make the Open Archives Initiative and OpenURL a reality, and both projects have laid the foundation for research and scholarship to become available to more people than ever before. Herbert’s work on global, digital workflow has advanced scholarly communication by leaps and bounds, and his commitment to changing the status quo makes him a worthy recipient of the SPARC Innovator award.”

“I am thrilled to be the first SPARC Innovator, and I appreciate the recognition from my peers enormously,” Van de Sompel said. “The one thing with recognitions like these is they tend to put additional pressure on, like people asking what the next big thing is you’re working on. I wish I had an answer; I don’t because one never really knows whether a thing is big until it actually is. This recognition will help me to keep focus and remain determined.”

PS: An excellent choice. Congratulations, Herbert!

New email list for OA archive managers

From today's announcement by Heather Morrison:
An open access archiving maillist has been set up, primarily for managers of open access archives who would like to discuss issues relating to OA archiving in the dual sense of providing access and preservation.

The reason for setting up this list was interest expressed in exploring the use of LOCKSS software as a preservation mechanism for OA archives. The nature of LOCKSS requires collaborative groups, as preservation involves a set of LOCKSS boxes (usually about 6) which constantly communicate with each other. There are reasons why LOCKSS boxes are best dispersed. Hence, this list can serve as a means for OA archivers to meet other potential LOCKSS-group participants.

The list is open to anyone, however, in order to avoid spam, subscribing and unsubscribing is manual. To subscribe, please send your e-mail address to: Heather G. Morrison,

Business leaders endorse OA to publicly-funded research

The Committee for Economic Development has issued a new report, Open Standards, Open Source, and Open Innovation: Harnessing the Benefits of Openness, April 2006. (Thanks to Ian Brown.) The report was prepared by the CED's Digital Connections Council of the Committee for Economic Development. From the executive summary:
“Open science” is making scientific information available well beyond the subscribers of traditional scientific journals. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) are encouraging widespread publication within 12 months of the results of the research that they fund. Open courseware is providing self-directed students around the world with the syllabi and course readings of great university teachers. All of these efforts rest on the assumption that society benefits by increasing access to information and allowing more people to contribute their special skills and experiences. Advocates for more openness contend that openness will result in greater innovation than would be achieved by restricting access to information or allowing first creators to exert greater control over it. Such a belief in the value of tapping the collective wisdom is profoundly democratic.

In order to foster open innovation, the Council recommends not only that the NIH should continue their efforts to expand the dissemination of the research they support, but also that other federally funded, unclassified research should be made broadly available. Consistent with the position it has taken in its earlier reports, the Council recommends that any legislation or regulation regarding intellectual property rights be weighed with a presumption against the granting of new rights. The burden of proof should be on proponents of new rights to demonstrate with rigorous analysis the necessity of such an extension, because of the benefits to society of further innovation through greater access to technology. Finally, the Council suggests that the National Science Foundation (NSF) fund research into alternative compensation methods, similar to those created to facilitate the growth of radio, to reward creators of digital information products and accommodate the changes brought about by the digitization and growth of the Internet.

After an NIH mandate, fine-tuning the permissible embargo

Janet Coleman, NIH Public Access Embargo Period: Where is the "Sweet Spot"? Research Policy Alert, April 18, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
A majority of NIH's Public Access Working Group suggested during their Nov. 15, 2005 and April 10, 2006 meetings thata the policy should be shifted from voluntary to mandatory and that the embargo period should be moved up from 12 months to six months....For those publishers that oppose either move, keeping the embargo period at 12 months appears to be the more important element. The publishers may be successful in retaining the 12-month period, as NIH seems to believe the more vital change is a move to a mandatory program....At the April 10 working group meeting, NLM Director Donald Lindberg, MD, said that mandating the policy "is much more important" than whether the embargo is six months or 12 months. David Lipman, MD, director of NLM's National Center for Biotechnology Information, also said he views moving to a mandatory policy as more important than the embargo time period. However, he also argued that a six-month embargo would not result in publishers losing subscriptions..."What scientist would write a grant or submit a paper and notn look at papers that are more recent than six months?" Lipman asked. "Nobody would do it."

In the remainder of the piece, Coleman quotes publishers who speculate that six and even 12 month embargoes would cost them revenue. She also quotes one, the American Society for Cell Biology, whose experience is that a short, two month embargo can trigger growth in subscriptions and revenue.

OA as the way out of monopoly STM publishing

Richard Seitmann, Riesengewinne mit wissenschaftlichen Publikationen, Heise Online, April 4, 2006. (In German.) Seitmann juxtaposes Elsevier's gains in fiscal year 2005 with the new EC report concluding that monopoly STM publishing is harmful and avoidable. His bottom line: as more scientists publish in OA journals and deposit their work in OA repositories, monopoly revenues will come to an end.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Barbara Quint on Microsoft Academic Search

Barbara Quint, Microsoft Offers Alternative to Google Scholar: Windows Live Academic Search, Information Today Newsbreaks, April 17, 2006. Excerpt:

Microsoft has launched a test version of Windows Live Academic Search on its Web site...The new search tool will search proprietary content from scholarly publishers, as well as the open Web. The initial beta test offers content from 10 publishers; two more are on the way. Phase one of the beta concentrates on three subject areas: computer science, electrical engineering, and physics. A handsome interface offers users a polished approach to searching built around structured metadata supplied by publishers plus retrieval drawing on full-text spidering. Ironically, in the course of extensive interviewing, the two people who spoke most enthusiastically about the arrival of Microsoft into the academic/scientific “search space” were Anurag Acharya, the man behind Google Scholar, and Sharon Mombru, the woman running Scirus, Elsevier’s free sci-tech search engine. Although Microsoft representatives have been quoted as denying any “monetization” plans for the new service, I notice that the Web listings-in contrast with published sources-carry “Sponsored Links” advertising....

In contrast with Google Scholar’s resistance to publishing source information, Windows Live Academic Search has a full list of publishers and journal titles..., though dates of coverage aren’t indicated. Thiru Thirumalai-Anandanpillai (known to friends, colleagues, and, hereinafter, readers of this NewsBreak as “Thiru”), senior product manager at Microsoft, reported that the length of coverage varies from publisher to publisher. Some provide 10 or 15 years of content; a few offer 30 to 40 years. The network of joint publishing efforts, e.g., between commercial publishers and scholarly societies, makes the list of publishers very lengthy --it’s more than 100, in fact. The list of journal names has more than 7,100 titles, including 2,000-plus conferences. Overall, the system accesses some 8 million articles, according to Thiru....

Content alliances are being made in close association with CrossRef, the Publishers International Linking Association (PILA). CrossRef represents most major scholarly publishers, providing an infrastructure for linking citation metadata supplied by publishers through the OpenURL-compliant Digital Object Identifier (DOI) system. CrossRef also has a working arrangement with Google Scholar....Amy Brand, director of business development at CrossRef, saluted the new service: “We’re really pleased to be collaborating with Microsoft on an academic search tool that is designed both to improve the online research experience and to respect the concerns of the publishing industry. We look forward to helping bring even more content into Microsoft Academic Search as the initiative develops.” Brand described the relationship as “more of a ‘cooperation’ than a partnership per se.” The partnership includes “settling on standard terms and conditions for indexing publisher full-text.”

Also see Barbara's second article in the same issue, Windows Live Academic Search: The Details. Excerpt:

It will be months before we can expect a useful comparative review of Windows Live Academic Search and Google Scholar. Technically both products are in beta, but Google’s definition of the term “beta” covers some rather fully developed services, including Google Scholar (which is currently anticipating its second anniversary). Microsoft’s Academic Search is a true beta --it still adds significant content, and plans are already in place for a second beta phase....Nonetheless, the features and interface in Windows Live Academic Search have a very polished look. They offer users more sophisticated control of their searches than is usually seen in free services. Specifically, users can: [1] Sort and limit results by author, date (forward or reverse chronological order), journal, conference, or back to the default, relevance. [2] Use the “Richness Slider” to expand or contract the relevance ranked display of search results. [3] Click on author names for author bibliographies (with no limits on the numbers of authors “clickable”; no “et al.”). [4] View an abstract of each search citation in a preview pane section on the right of the screen or “hide abstract” if you just want to scan brief citations as quickly as possible using the full screen. [5] Export citation in basic text, RIS’ EndNote, or BibTeX bibliographic formats. [6] Find in a library using the connection to OCLC’s Open WorldCat service (on its way). [7] Save search strategies in macros using “Search Builder,” which will also support RSS feeds (“Feeds” at the top of the screen tied to a “” option) to alert searchers as new results appear on their page. (Can anyone here spell “SDI”?) Expect to see macro services in Academic Search within 2 weeks, according to Thiru Thirumalai-Anandanpillai (herein known as “Thiru”), senior product manager at Microsoft....If you want to restrict your search to more specific scholarly collections on the Web or to search on nontitle elements, one tip from Windows Live Academic Search staff is to enter your search statement along with the term “ArXiv” to reach content in the OAI-compliant institutional repositories which that source covers. By the way, Web content listings carry ads (“Sponsored Links”) while published sources do not....

Microsoft worked with CiteSeer in developing some of its features, e.g., author live links, and in tapping the Web-based content in which CiteSeer specializes, such as computer sciences. Thomson Scientific’s Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) also worked with CiteSeer in developing its Web Citation Index. However, Windows Live Academic Search does not offer forward or reverse citation indexing yet, as CiteSeer does. It does not automatically extract footnotes, though they may appear in the course of searching the full text. Again, this much-desired feature is on the planning boards, according to Thiru. Part of the problem involves standardizing author metadata (first name, last name, initials, punctuation, etc.), an area they are still working on, according to Thiru....Jill Grogg, electronic resources librarian at the University of Alabama Libraries, was “impressed and extraordinarily pleased that the initial release addressed OpenURL issues mmediately.” Grogg recalled that it took Google Scholar 4 to 5 months to support the linking and pointed out that Scirus still had not added it....She also commented on Microsoft’s using Open Archive for harvesting metadata: “It’s nice to see library-born standards being embraced by giants like Microsoft and Google.”...

Though the publishers have the option to provide Microsoft with the full abstract, first 140 characters from the abstract, or nothing, they must guarantee that nonsubscribers can at least see the full abstract as it appears on the publisher’s Web site. Publishers with PDF files or OAI-PMH standard repositories should have no problems, but if some technical difficulties occur, Microsoft promises to work through them....

Anurag Acharya, developer of Google Scholar, waxed lyrical about the arrival of a new player into his “search space.” “It’s entirely positive,” he said. “We all share the same problem, how to make all information easy to find. The more we can all do together, the better it is for the knowledge of the human race. It is fantastic that they are doing this.”

Integrating digital collections from 150 libraries and museums

The U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has launched a registry of IMLS-funded Digital Collections and Content. All or most of the collections appear to be OA. Users may browse them by subject or search them by keyword.

Also see Brock Read's story about it in the April 21 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:

At present the registry includes the contents of 150 collections, each of which was digitized through grants issued by the agency. The archives include an array of photographs, artwork, and printed material, along with less commonly digitized fare like fish specimens and other ephemera collected by natural-history museums. Some of the material is iconic, like Edward S. Curtis's early-20th-century portraits of American Indians, digitized by librarians at Northwestern University. But much of the content is of more parochial interest, like a collection of publishers' bindings, mostly from the 19th century, put online by librarians at the Universities of Alabama and Wisconsin at Madison. Officials at the institute conceived the project in 2001 as a way of tracking local digitization efforts that they had helped finance. All too often, those projects languished on the Web as unconnected "puddles of content," says Mamie Bittner, the institute's director of public and legislative affairs....Another goal of the registry project is to develop better ways to build Internet search tools that make use of the hidden tags, known as metadata, that archivists append to their digital materials.

More on the EC report

Report Says Scientific Publishing Needs Reform, Greenhouse Associates, April 2006. Excerpt:
A recent report by the European Commission calling for reforms in the scientific publishing system joins a chorus of critics on both sides of the Atlantic. Interest in reforming scientific publishing is being driven by high journals prices and frustration that the internet has not significantly improved the dissemination of scientific knowledge. While the report is critical of scientific journal publishers, it really takes aim at the whole system of funding and research that tends to force researchers to publish in journals that are available only by subscription, many costing thousands of dollars a year. The report notes that more than just posing a financial burden, high journal prices inhibit the dissemination of knowledge and scientific progress. It recommends that funding agencies promote greater public access to research, as the National Institutes of Health have done in the US. Such moves could include requiring that articles resulting from public funding be deposited in open repositories, regardless of whether they are published in journals. The study notes that commercial publishers charge significantly higher prices than non-profit publishers and, further, that publishers with larger portfolios of journals tend to charge more. The study also recommends that education and research funding organizations foster new forms of scholarly dissemination, such as open access journals, and new business models, such as those in which publishers charge authors publication fees, rather than charging users for subscriptions.

Paying for OA to back issues

Here's Ed Kohler making the point that online ads can stay current even while the accompanying content gets older and older (Technology Evangelist, April 16, 2006):
Newspapers sitting on decades of archived articles have been stuck with one viable option for monetizing their archives in the offline world: charging for reprints. However, the online world disconnects the delivery of ads from content making new business models viable such as free and open content since it can be monetized through current and relevant advertising.

PS: The point is about newspapers, not scholarly journals. But how far does it carry over?

New OA book from new OA book publisher

The new Medrounds subsidiary, Free Educational Publications International (no web site yet) has issued its first OA book, Protect Your Sight. For more details, see yesterday's announcement from Medrounds:
Drs. Folk and Wilkinson [the authors] are experts in the field of macular degeneration, and they are not being paid by anyone to recommend anything. They treat patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) almost every day, perform research that explores the causes of AMD, attend scientific meetings, participate in treatment trials, and promise to tell you the straight scoop. They will tell you what scientists and doctors all over the world know about this disease, and, just as importantly, what they don’t know....

Just as innovative as Drs. Folk’s and Wilkinson’s book is their new method of publishing. The company that they have partnered with, Free Educational Publications International, creates a website for an author to post their educational books at no cost. Medical books are published quickly with current information. Additionally, comments and questions are posted directly on the website, which facilitate interactions between readers and the authors. Readers can support the author by simply visiting the site and reading the book. Advertising generates royalties for the authors. If the reader prefers to read a hardcopy book as opposed to the digital form, they may purchase the hardcopy form from the site.

What OA will make possible

Nigel Shadbolt, Tim Brody, Les Carr, and Stevan Harnad, The Open Research Web: A Preview of the Optimal and the Inevitable, forthcoming in Neil Jacobs (ed.), Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, Chapter 21, Chandos Publishing, 2006. Self-archived April 17, 2006.
Abstract: Further development of GNU EPrints and Citebase, together with the growing webwide database of Open Access (OA) articles, and the data we will collect and analyse from it, will allow us to do several things for which the unique historic moment has arrived with the Research Assessment Exercise's recent transition to metrics: (1) Motivate more researchers to provide OA by self-archiving; (2) map the growth of OA across disciplines, countries and languages; (3) navigate the OA literature using citation-linking and impact ranking; (4) measure, extrapolate and predict the research impact of individuals, groups, institutions, disciplines, languages and countries; (5) measure research performance and productivity, (6) assess candidates for research funding; (7) assess the outcome of research funding, (8) map the course of prior research lines, in terms of individuals, institutions, journals, fields, nations; (9) analyze and predict the direction of current and future research trajectories; (10) provide teaching and learning resources that guide students (via impact navigation) through the large and growing OA research literature in a way that navigating the web via google alone cannot come close to doing.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Case study of an OA journal

Bo-Christer Björk and Žiga Turk, The Electronic Journal of Information Technology in Construction (ITcon): an open access journal using an un-paid, volunteer-based organization, Information Research, April 2006. The first in a series of "Case studies in open access publishing." Abstract:
Introduction. This case study is based on the experiences with the Electronic Journal of Information Technology in Construction (ITcon), founded in 1995.
Development. This journal is an example of a particular category of open access journals, which use neither author charges nor subscriptions to finance their operations, but rely largely on unpaid voluntary work in the spirit of the open source movement. The journal has, after some initial struggle, survived its first decade and is now established as one of half-a-dozen peer reviewed journals in its field.
Operations. The journal publishes articles as they become ready, but creates virtual issues through alerting messages to “subscribers”. It has also started to publish special issues, since this helps in attracting submissions, and also helps in sharing the work-load of review management. From the start the journal adopted a rather traditional layout of the articles. After the first few years the HTML version was dropped and papers are only published in PDF format.
Performance. The journal has recently been benchmarked against the competing journals in its field. Its acceptance rate of 53% is slightly higher and its average turnaround time of seven months almost a year faster compared to those journals in the sample for which data could be obtained. The server log files for the past three years have also been studied.
Conclusions. Our overall experience demonstrates that it is possible to publish this type of OA journal, with a yearly publishing volume equal to a quarterly journal and involving the processing of some fifty submissions a year, using a networked volunteer-based organization.