Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A new OA webliography

Paul G. Haschak, Reshaping the World of Scholarly Communication:...A Webliography, Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, Spring 2006. The full title is Reshaping the World of Scholarly Communication --Open Access and the Free Online Scholarship Movement: Open Access Statements, Proposals, Declarations, Principles, Strategies, Organizations, Projects, Campaigns, Initiatives, and Related Items-- A Webliography. Excerpt:
Since World War II, we have seen a proliferation of scholarly materials. In particular, there has been a tremendous growth in the size and cost of the primary journal literature. With prices continuing to rise at a rate greater than the general price index, the current scholarly communication system is becoming more and more unaffordable. The rise in the cost of serial subscriptions has forced academic libraries over the last several decades to cancel existing serial titles, add fewer and fewer new serial titles, and buy fewer and fewer books. In is apparent, that the crisis in the scholarly communication system not only threatens the well being of libraries, but also it threatens our academic faculty’s ability to do world-class research. With current technologies, we now have, for the first time in history, the tools necessary to effect change ourselves. We must do everything in our power to change the current scholarly communication system and promote open access to scholarly articles.

PS: Most of the sections are well-done and I commend Haschak for his work. But I have a few nits to pick. He includes my Guide, which I stopped updating in mid-2004 (conspicuously declared on the front page), and BMC's Open Access Now, which ceased publication in late 2004. On the other side, he excludes Open Access News, which I update every day, even though he has a section devoted to blogs and news.

Report on the APE 2006 conference

Einar Fredriksson and Björn Ortelbach have written a Conference Report on APE 2006: Academic Publishing in Europe (Berlin, April 4-5, 2006). (Thanks to Arnoud de Kemp.) Excerpt:
Dr. Jurgen Renn (Max Planck Gesellschaft, MPG) gave his opening address on behalf of the MPG President Peter Gruss. He reflected on the current scientific journal, the MPG’s role and attitudes towards the current academic publishing process. Costs for the dissemination of scientific information have become research costs. He saw “open access” as a paradigm shift (of the order of Internet and the Web) and contrasted it with “toll access” currently practised by publishers. New media haven’t been optimally used by academic publishers, and examples of systems developed and run by scientists themselves were suggested as alternatives. He stressed that people need to look for new models. If we keep mapping existing structures to a new medium, we will create and not cross boundaries. Dr. Renn stressed that “open access” is not directed against publishers but is rather a transformation process towards a better infrastructure which publishers can also exploit. The development of “open access” should focus on long-term preservation and quality control....

Vitek Tracz (Chairman of the Science Navigation Group) had his address read by Dr. Matthew Cockerill: it started out by stressing the necessity of academic publishers to reinvent themselves. Offering added value has to become the focal point. In order to do this, standardisation will be necessary. The new generation of Internet companies like Skype, eBay, etc. illustrate that information can float freely while you can exploit higher level services. It has to become recognised that paper-based and the emulation of paper-based publications are not the future. Knowledge structuring, tools for knowledge evaluation, collective knowledge of communities, semantic enrichment, mining tools, were all seen as fair game for the future publisher....

Dr. Johannes Fournier (Deutsches Forschungs Gemeinschaft -DFG, representing Dr. Gudrun Gersmann, Library Committee of DFG) explained, that this Committee has increased its mandate to include research information and the building of digital research resources. It is part of the mission of DFG to supply the necessary German and international information to German scientists, and during the past years an amount of 27M Euro has been spent on national licences. Open access was seen as a way to reduce the costs for information. Scientists will determine the future developments of academic publishing: electronic publishing is only a part of the general changes in the research area. DFG will assist in the establishment of new publishing organisations, but can only supply initial funding and not maintenance. The speaker saw collaboration with publishers necessary and desirable. Freely available information could form a basis to be used by publishers, and sold at their own risk to a broader public.

Dr. Matthew Cockerill (Publisher, BioMedCentral Ltd., London) presented his company’s route to become a profitable enterprise. This would be based on open access to its publications – whereby the authors or their employers/funding-agencies are required to pay a fee per article published. A fee of around 1000 Euro is seen as adequate at this time, and some 400 institutes, paying for 69% of the currently published articles, are currently supporting the company. 65 funding agencies were recently contacted for a survey, to which 23 so far have responded – mostly favourably. The speaker also mentioned other companies employing the “authors-pay” principle, with comparative prices, and suggested that at a level of 1-2000 Euro per article such efforts could become sustainable....

The general debate in the closing panel was largely driven by the issue of Open Access. The pros and cons in the lively discussion showed a wide spectrum of opinions. The base for the discussion was Dr. Renn’s demand to publishers to allow an open access model. Renn explained that open access is the wish of the customers, the scientists, and that it is the enabler for new form of science. The discussion was continued by Jan Velterop (Springer) who pointed out that it is very easy to make information freely available. Therefore, Velterop claimed, there are no good arguments against open access. In this context, Renn emphasised that not only information is closed up currently, but that publishers invest to close up information. Mathew Cockerill (BioMed Central), supporting Renn’s initial argument, explained that open access is “the only way to allow the full resources of academia to throw that creativity at finding the best ways to discover content and put that content in context”.

Harnad on Gibson

Stevan Harnad, Dr. Ian's Gibson's Paradoxical Historic Role in the Transition to Open Access, Open Access Archivangelism, April 29, 2006. Excerpt:
Dr. Ian Gibson has written the foreword to Neil Jacobs (ed.), Open Access: Key strategic, technical and economic aspects, Chandos Publishing, forthcoming 2006 [PS: blogged here yesterday].  A scientist and British MP, Ian Gibson's role in the Open Access (OA) movement has been a remarkable one, and he will certainly get the historic credit for having shepherded-through the landmark UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology’s recommendation to mandate OA self-archiving.  Historians and sociologists of science will find it especially interesting that Ian has done what he has done despite the fact that much of his admirable populist rationale for OA will prove to have been completely wide of the functional mark (though perhaps not of the practical, political mark).

In the PostGutenberg Era, OA will be seen clearly to have been a research community objective and a research community benefit, in making research accessible to all researchers who need to use it, not just to those whose institutions can afford the journal in which it happens to have been published (as in the Gutenberg Era). OA may or may not eventually lead to publishing reform, but in and of itself it will become clear that OA was not and would not have been provided by researchers merely or primarily in order to reform publishing, nor in order to make journals more affordable....

The idea that OA is needed in order to break journal publishers' "monopoly" may hence prove to have been one of OA's actual intermediate selling points, in inspiring indignation and action, but it will also prove to have been a specious point.  Missing the mark too is the notion that OA is needed to feed a "hungry" public with the content of peer-reviewed research journals....It is through researchers using, building upon and applying the fruits of research that the general public benefits from OA, not through reading it through for themselves....[N]o researcher's institution anywhere can afford all the journals that could contain articles that any researcher might ever need, and, a fortiori, none can afford all the peer-reviewed journals there are (24K). And this would still be true (please note carefully!) even if all journals were sold at cost (zero profit, hence no point blaming monopolists and price-gougers).

And Ian is even off the mark insofar as "free-riding" is concerned. His own committee's (spot-on) recommendation was that all researchers should be required to self-archive their own published research article output in their own institutional repositories, free for all. Publishers have filled Ian's ears, no doubt, with apocalyptic alarms about the possibility of rival publishers free-riding on and underselling that free content: Utter nonsense, because based on a profound misunderstanding of the Web, of OA itself, and of what comes with the territory:  For if/when all articles are available free for all on the web, it is absurd to imagine that any free-riding rival publisher will be able to sell them, to anyone!...

So let [everyone] keep fighting for (or against) OA on the grounds of journal affordability, public accessibility, or what have you, if they like. Just as long it is Ian's own remedy that the proponents promote: mandated self-archiving in the researcher's own IR.

Why government-provided OA isn't unfair competition for publishers

What's wrong with publishers lobbying Congress to stop the federal government from providing OA to publicly-funded research? What's wrong with AccuWeather lobbying Congress to stop the government from providing OA to publicly-funded weather data? Lawrence Lessig hits the nail on the head in his May column for Wired. Excerpt:
Imagine if tire manufacturers lobbied against filling potholes so they could sell more tires. Or if private emergency services got local agencies to cut funding for fire departments so people would end up calling private services first. And what if private schools pushed to reduce public school money so more families would flee the public system? Or what if taxicab companies managed to get a rail line placed just far enough from an airport to make public transportation prohibitively inconvenient?...

[T]his one, unfortunately, is true. In 2005, the state of California conducted an experiment. Hoping to make paying taxes easier, it launched a pilot program [called ReadyReturn] for people who were likely to file "simple returns."...Praise for the program [from taxpayers who used it] was generally over-the-top....Soon after ReadyReturn was launched, lobbyists from the tax-preparation industry began to pressure California lawmakers to abandon the innovation. Their opposition was not surprising: If figuring out your taxes were easy, why would anyone bother to hire H&R Block? If the government sends you a completed form, why buy TurboTax? But what is surprising is that their "arguments" are having an effect. In February, the California Republican caucus released a report highlighting its "concerns" about the program - for example, that an effort to make taxes more efficient "violates the proper role of government." Soon thereafter, a Republican state senator introduced a bill to stop the ReadyReturn program.

Inefficiency has become a virtue in government - and not just in California. Last year, the US Senate passed a funding bill with an amendment prohibiting the IRS from developing its own "income tax electronic filing or preparation products or services."...[I]ncreasingly, the [Republican] party - as conservative columnist Bruce Bartlett says of George Bush in his book, Impostor - is "incapable of telling the difference between being pro-business and being for the free market." It favors specific competitors rather than favoring competition....Such pro-business and anti-efficiency policies will continue to prevail until someone in our political system begins to articulate principles on the other side....Free markets aren't pro-business - they don't favor incumbent companies if upstarts do the job better. Competition is good wherever it comes from - even the government - so long as it lowers social costs and increases wealth. And efficiency is good regardless of who it might hurt; it is especially good if it hurts those who feed off inefficiency. Thus, lawyers are good, but a world that needed fewer of them would be much better. Doctors are great, but that's no argument against better health. And TurboTax is fantastic, but it shouldn't prevent the government from making paying taxes easier.

Update. Stevan Harnad also liked this Lessig column. Here's the way he draws the conclusion for OA: "Distributed institutions [like universities] have the advantage of not being fixed lobbying targets, the way governments are....[U]nlike governments, the world-wide network of universities and research institutions need not heed the lobby from interests vested in preserving the restricted-access status quo at the cost of needless research access-denial and impact-loss to research, researchers, their institutions, and the public that funds them. They can mandate immediate self-archiving immediately."

SPARC Europe honors Wellcome Trust for its OA work

SPARC Europe has named the Wellcome Trust the first winner of the SPARC Europe Award for Outstanding Achievements in Scholarly Communications. From the announcement:
As part of the Third Nordic Conference on Scholarly Communication: Beyond Declarations - The Changing Landscape of Scholarly Communication held in Lund, Sweden, the Wellcome Trust was presented with the first SPARC Europe Award for Outstanding Achievements in Scholarly Communications.

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) Europe initiated the Award to recognise the work of an individual or group within Europe that has made significant advances in our understanding of the issues surrounding scholarly communications and/or in developing practical means to address the problems with the current systems. In making the Award to the Trust the judging panel noted the Trust’s truly groundbreaking work in scholarly communication, from the commissioning of incisive research into the market, through to the formulation and implementation of clear policy in support of the widest dissemination of the research outputs funded by the Trust.

Dr Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust said ‘We are very honoured to receive this award from SPARC Europe which recognises our activities in the promotion of the ‘open-access’ model of science publishing. Ensuring that the outputs of research are freely available and shared as widely and as rapidly as possible is vital in order to facilitate the translation of research into practical improvements in health.’

Dr Bas Savenije, Chair of the SPARC Europe Board, praised the Wellcome Trust’s ‘major contribution in implementing strategies for open access towards the widespread availability of research. They have shown the way for funding bodies and we hope that others internationally will emulate them.’

Following the success of the first Award, SPARC Europe has decided to make this an annual event and it is expected that the second Award will be presented at the CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communications (OAI5) to be held in Geneva in 2007.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Self-archiving raises online profile of Southampton University

Stevan Harnad, Why we're doing well, The Independent, April 27, 2006. A letter to the editor. It's not online at the newspaper site, but a version is online at Stevan's blog:

The reasons for the University of Southampton’s extremely high overall web-metric rating are four:

(1) U. Southampton's university-wide research performance

(2) U. Southampton's Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) Department's involvement in many high-profile web projects and activities (among them the semantic web work of the web's inventor, ECS Prof. Tim Berners-Lee, the Advanced Knowledge Technologies (AKT) work of Prof. Nigel Shadbolt, and the pioneering web science contributions of Prof. Wendy Hall)

(3) The fact that since 2001 U. Southampton's ECS has had a mandate requiring that all of its research output be made Open Access on the web by depositing it in the ECS EPrints Repository, and that Southampton has a university-wide self-archiving policy (soon to become a mandate) too

(4) The fact that maximising access to research (by self-archiving it free for all on the web) maximises research usage and impact (and hence web impact). This all makes for an extremely strong Southampton web presence, as reflected in such metrics as the "G factor", which places Southampton 3rd in the UK and 25th among the world's top 300 universities or Webometrics,which places Southampton 6th in UK, 9th in Europe, and 80th among the top 3000 universities it indexes.

Alma Swan on researcher perspectives on OA

Alma Swan, The culture of Open Access: researchers’ views and responses, in Neil Jacobs (ed.), Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, Chandos Publishing, forthcoming 2006, Chapter 7.
Abstract: In this chapter Alma Swan draws from the surveys undertaken by Key Perspectives Ltd into researchers attitudes toward open access. She describes the context in which researchers work, and how this leads to them valuing (or not) the potential of open access. Based on this evidence, she outlines a range of practical moves that can be made to configure open access as a solution to researchers’ very real needs and concerns.

More on Freeload Press

Anne Culver, The Next Form of Text, Minnesota State University Mankato Reporter, April 27, 2006. (Thanks to William Walsh.) Excerpt:
Free textbooks. No, it’s not too good to be true. Ever since a St. Paul-based internet company began offering downloadable textbooks that contain advertisements, the concept of kicking costly textbooks to the curb seems within reach. Freeload Press offers about 20 accounting and finance textbooks, study guides and worksheets, which can be downloaded from the company’s Web site,, as free Adobe PDF files. Tom Doran, founder and CEO of Freeload Press, said the company came out with its first textbooks for class use this academic year. While no MSU professors currently use online textbooks in their curriculum, Doran said several MSU students have discovered the site on their own and downloaded textbooks. “[Students] love it,” Doran said. “We’re getting rave reviews. I’ve been in publishing for 25 years and I’ve never seen anything like it. Not only do we look pretty good in the students’ eyes, but so do the instructors.” Advertisements in the textbooks, which include fast food restaurants and photocopying services, are limited to 50 ads per 600-page textbook. Doran said the placement of the ads is “really subtle,” as they are embedded in the text in what he calls “study breaks” at the end of chapters.

Bailey biblio, version 62

Charles W. Bailey Jr. has released version 62 of his comprehensive Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new version cites and organizes over 2,680 print and online articles, books, and other sources on scholarly electronic publishing.

Punjab Agricultural University university digitizing its research for OA

PAU Library to digitise research publications, Ludhiana Newswire, April 27, 2006. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
Dr M S Randhawa Library of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has decided to digitize all the available data in dissertations abstracts, research reports and research articles on CD archives. The digital data will also be put online shortly for easy and quick access....The library has the largest collection of agricultural books and periodicals in the region, numbering over three lakh.

As libraries incorporate OA, they become libratories

Leo Waaijers, From Libraries to ‘Libratories’, Liber Quarterly, 16, 1 (2006). Only this abstract is free online, at least so far.
While the eighties of the last century were a time of local automation for libraries and the nineties the decade in which libraries embraced the internet and the WWW, now is the age in which the big search engines and institutional repositories are gaining a firm footing. This heralds a new era in both the evolution of scholarly communication and its agencies themselves, i.e. the libraries. Until now libraries and publishers have developed a digital variant of existing processes and products, i.e. catalogues posted on the Web, scanned copies of articles, e-mail notification about acquisitions or expired lending periods, or traditional journals in a digital jacket. However, the new OAI repositories and services based upon them have given rise to entirely new processes and products, libraries transforming themselves into partners in setting up virtual learning environments, building an institution’s digital showcase, maintaining academics’ personal websites, designing refereed portals and – further into the future – taking part in organising virtual research environments or collaboratories. Libraries are set to metamorphose into ‘libratories’, an imaginary word to express their combined functions of library, repository and collaboratory. In such environments scholarly communication will be liberated from its current copyright bridle while its coverage will be both broader - including primary data, audiovisuals and dynamic models - and deeper, with cross-disciplinary analyses of methodologies and applications of instruments. Universities will make it compulsory to store in their institutional repositories the results of research conducted within their walls for purposes of academic reporting, review committees, and other modes of clarification and explanation. Big search engines will provide access to this profusion of information and organise its mass customisation.

PS: The same issue of LQ contains a report by Raf Dekeyser on The LIBER Workshops on the “Open Archives Initiative” at CERN, Geneva. But it doesn't even have a free abstract online, or not so far.

Update. Waaijers published the same paper in the December 2005 issue of First Monday. (Thanks to Kimmo Kuusela for pointing this out.) I don't know the explanation.

Google and libraries

The new issue (vol. 10, no. 3/4) of Internet Reference Services Quarterly is devoted to the tangled relationships between Google and libraries.

Purdue's Distributed Institutional Repository

Purdue University is developing a Distributed Institutional Repository. Amy Page Christiansen has a short article about it in the current HPC Wire. Excerpt:
Purdue Libraries and Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP) are collaborating on an initiative that includes innovative software developed on campus to help researchers store, sort, archive, retrieve and manage large-scale data and information. The Distributed Institutional Repository is a Web-based data portal that provides tools and systems to manipulate large data sets and to help users understand the origins of data and learn about additional research applications using the same data. "The DIR is an architecture Purdue Libraries developed which utilizes a unique approach to pulling access together from a number of distributed repositories," said Scott Brandt, professor of library science and associate dean for research for Purdue Libraries.

Most institutional repositories use a single system within a single software environment. In addition to data repositories built by ITaP and the Libraries, the DIR will access a wide variety of information systems, including electronic dissertations e-prints and archival special collections...."The Libraries have always supported research through building and organizing collections," Brandt said. "With a distributed repository, we hope to enhance discovery and use of data across campus."

An institutional repository is necessary to meet the growing need to house massive amounts of data and to make it usable for users across the academic environment, Brandt said....Purdue added its own twist through software developed by Michael Witt, senior research systems administrator for Purdue Libraries, that can interface between SRB [Storage Resource Broker] and standard OAI-PMH software (open archives initiative-protocol for metadata harvesting), which allows repositories to talk to each other...."We need to be able to access this data wherever it resides," Brandt said. "This gives us different ways to test that access and discovery." Part of the overall initiative is to work with Purdue's Cyber Center to address issues related to interoperability of data -- representing and combining data in new ways to generate knowledge. In addition to providing a home for researchers' massive data sets, the repository project also will spur decisions about data-rights management, sharing of intellectual property and length and format of data archival storage.

The DIR developers are giving a public talk about it at Purdue on May 2.

OA videos of major scientists and artists

The Peoples Archive creates audiovisual biographies of leading contemporary scientists and artists. It now offers most of these biographies free of charge. See its April 11 announcement or its April 26 announcement.

Ian Gibson on OA

If you read OAN regularly, then you already know about Neil Jacobs' forthcoming collection, Open Access: Key strategic, technical and economic aspects, Chandos Publishing, 2006. (I'll have a chapter in it on OA in the US.) To whet your appetite further, here's Ian Gibson's foreword to the book. Gibson chaired the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee when it undertook its 2004 inquiry into STM publishing and produced its exemplary OA recommendations.
The era of open access is dawning and it could not come a moment too soon. The rapid development of the internet and its increased use across the globe has meant that there is a wide and growing audience that is hungry and in some cases, desperately in need of information that traditionally few have been able to access.

The idea of open access is highly controversial and divisive. If one were to politely mumble the phrase at a dull gathering of academics, publishers and policy makers, one would be sure to instantly divide the room and instigate a heated debate. This book is therefore an important introduction for those who know nothing of a debate that has been raging in academic circles for a long time. And for those with seemingly entrenched positions, this book will most certainly change some minds.

In science, my own area of expertise, the issue of open access has been making troublesome waves in the last few years. The 2004 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry 'Scientific Publications: free for all?' which I chaired, looked into a number of issues; such as whether the market for scientific publications was working well, the trends in journal pricing, the impact of new publishing trends on the scientific process, the integrity of journals and so on. What we found was not pleasant.

The commercial publishing world has an increasingly harmful monopoly on a number of prestige journals which are essential to disseminating new ideas and research. This monopoly over knowledge has been one factor underlying an increase in the price of subscriptions, leaving some academic libraries with no choice but to cancel subscriptions as they can no longer afford to pay for a full range of journals.

I believe the current situation is highly unethical. As vast amounts of public money is used to fund research, it should follow that such research should be freely available to the public to boost up their knowledge and appreciation of science, instead of increasing the profit margins of a few publishing houses. One therefore would be hard pressed to deny the ethical case for open access. Indeed one only has to think of the need to make new research readily available to developing countries which do not have the resources to purchase such information and yet face some of the world's most devastating problems.

However, better ethical conduct is only one of the many objectives of the open access project as this excellent collection of essays will show. I do not deny that there are legitimate fears about the implications of open access. It is one thing to make information readily available for the public who through taxation fund such research, and developing countries who need access to life-saving ideas; but it is quite another matter to make knowledge available for those who will free ride their way through improved access to profit themselves. But these are problems I believe can be overcome with a bit of creativity as some of the authors in this collection show. Turn the page and start reading.

New issue of Access

The March issue of Access is now online. This issue features articles on Yale's OARE project (environmental research free online for developing countries), the OA repository at Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) open to research from any developing country, the new free content at Highbeam research, and progress at the DOAJ.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

More on using Connotea with Eprints

Steve Hitchcock, Nature brings the Semantic Web and enhanced citation, visibility to papers in EPrints, Eprints news, April 25, 2006. (Thanks to George Porter.) Excerpt:

EPrints repositories can be part of the Semantic Web in a real and practical way thanks to Nature Publishing Group and its free Connotea online reference management service. This service enables users to publicly bookmark and tag articles from within EPrints repositories with remarkable potential to expand the visibility and findability of those articles....Here is how it works, and our take for those responsible for managing EPrints repositories.

When journal readers, say, find an article they want to cite they have to record in a conventional reference form at all the metadata necessary to identify and locate that item. If that article is online the user can create a bookmark, although that simply records the URL...Further, that bookmark is stored in the user's browser and is not shared with other potential readers of the article. Connotea formalises the bookmark as a reference and can share the data publicly. To do this it needs to identify information about the article - its author, title, etc. - and to identify the source data....Connotea can do this for a number of journals, and now it can do the same for any EPrints repository using its OAI-PMH interface. Connotea has discovered this information for some EPrints repositories. To learn more and see if your repository is included, and to find out what to do if it isn't, go to ...

The potential for overlaying the Semantic Web on the cited content in repositories and improving the findability of this content arises from another feature of the service: tagging. As well as producing a citable reference, the user can supplement the reference with keywords that describe the referenced item. Librarians, indexers and cataloguers have long done this. So have authors of online pages, by virtue of Web links. The power of indexing is here massively extended by enabling all users to become indexers by tagging cited articles with keywords....Supplied with this information the Connotea database can make all sorts of connections between articles and present these as links. Serendipity never had it so good!...

Tagging and bookmarking can now be applied within EPrints....To provide this interface for your users all you have to do is download and install the TaggingTool code to your EPrints repository, which can be located from this description....

We know that findability is enhanced by exposing data to Web search services, also that on average open access increases the citation impact of papers. Now we have a different type of citation service - Connotea bookmarking - allied to tagging. Repositories based on EPrints are uniquely able to take advantage of all three means of enhancing retrieval and citation of their papers. Don't let anyone tell you that content in repositories is less easy to find than sources indexed in more formal current awareness services. For open access content in EPrints repositories the opposite is fast becoming the case.

Scaling the fences of knowledge

Pertti Saariluoma, The Importance of the Free Flow of Information and Knowledge, Human Technology, April 2006. (Thanks to Kimmo Kuusela.) Excerpt:
To get new information to the right people at the right time requires knowledge producers to break down many different barriers. The barriers to the flow of information are not just geographic. A fissure can be found between universities and private companies, which tacitly means between scientific knowledge and product knowledge....Knowledge becomes significant only when it is expressed in practical terms, such as product development and other applications. However, information becomes knowledge and applicable only when built upon the ever-growing body of basic knowledge, which is discovered in the academic inquiry of the university. To achieve such a complementary fusion of knowledge, those interested in the creation and application of knowledge need to find ways to scale the fences that might separate them. Such fences involve the languages (both cultural and terminological) of the fields of expertise, the different social rules and forms of expression between and within organizations, a lack of trust, and varying goals and interests, to name a few, which create barriers to effective communication and the quality use of knowledge. One possible means of bridging the gap between these distinct cultures is through open access scientific publishing.

Open access journals make knowledge and discovery freely available for those who need it. As search technologies gradually improve, knowledge seekers shall undoubtedly find it much easier to surface the pieces of knowledge needed from among a great variety of available information. Open access journals allow those who seek information to find those whose prior seeking has resulted in new perspectives, new data, new knowledge. For this reason alone open access journals are an essential part of communicating about scientific research findings and knowledge. And it seems that open access publishing is an especially natural way for university research to be distributed for the greater good. The salaries paid to university researchers normally come from public money, by extension from the taxpayers. Ethically, it seems a good principle that knowledge generated through the support of the general public should be equally available and, perhaps beneficial, to all the members of society....

If universities keep the new knowledge behind their walls or offer limited access to it, then they have overlooked their duties to society. And if government officials, who make decisions regarding university funding for research and dispersal of research knowledge, do not see that new scientific innovations must be easily and effectively offered for the use of society, then the barriers to innovative use of new ideas slow down the availability of knowledge to those who need it and who have paid through their taxes to create it. The time seems right to give up the old images and practices regarding research, knowledge, and innovation. Open access publishing makes it possible, but also necessary, to look at the role of basic knowledge within society and the roles of university research in the webs of innovation management in a new way.

More on DRM and OA

Carsten Orwat, Digital Rights Management in Public Science, the report of the 4th INDICARE Workshop (Brussels, December 8, 2005). There were plenty of unsurprising suggestions for using DRM to block access to non-OA content. But here are some of the ideas for using DRM to enhance OA content and to mitigate its harms:
Instead of the publicly perceived definition of DRM ? mainly as a measure used by publishers to restrict access and control usages ? Mark Bide (Rightscom) pleaded for an understanding of DRM as an essential element of a trustworthy network computing environment. He also suggested talking about “Digital Policy Management” instead of Digital Rights Management, since not all digital policies are based on intellectual property rights. In his view, Digital Policy Management is about defining, describing, communicating and enforcing policies, which control access to and use of networked resources. This would be needed unless one would believe that all networked resources should be available for anyone to do anything they want. Thus, Digital Policy Management will be fundamental for the trusted identity of resources, people and organisations, and for the certainty in defining ways in which resources may be used. He saw this necessity for the future management of the network even in an era of “open everything” including open access, open archives etc....

In public debates the terms ‘DRM’ and ‘open access’ are often treated as oppo-site models of scientific publishing. In the following, however, the question is raised what role DRM can play in Open Access publishing models. One opinion on the careful and limited use of DRM in Open Access models was brought in by Ulrich Pöschl from the Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry and from the Open Access journal ‘Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics’. From his perspective (mainly as a researcher), DRM for scientific publications especially from publicly-funded research can be desirable and acceptable only to a very limited extent, for instance, to assure authenticity as well as correct referencing of documents and sources of information. He warned that, by no means, the successful and future development of Open Access should be inhibited by DRM....

Furthermore, in discussions of the workshop another DRM application in open access was mentioned: in ‘green road’ models of open access authors can choose the open access condition for single articles. Thus, it is no longer possible to use common licensing agreements for the whole journal, but the licensing and use rights has to be specified for individual articles. Therefore, there could be a need to attach rights information to single documents, what is understood here as digital rights management....

To mitigate the [many problems caused by DRM, Manon Rees from] CPTech propose[d] the registration of DRM systems and TPMs before their implementation in practice. Within registration it should be checked if DRMs meet with public standards such as regarding to the ex-haustion of copyright protection, enabling private copying or archiving. DRMs should not be protected by law from circumvention unless they meet public standards.

What form of OA should universities recommend to faculty?

Jonathan Zittrain gave his inaugural lecture yesterday as Oxford's first Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation. His title: The future of the Internet – and how to stop it. A webcast is available. The Oxford press release contains this tidbit:
Another issue explored during Professor Zittrain’s lecture, was the potential of the Internet for scholars and students around the world. He argued: ‘Universities should encourage or even require their faculties to publish in open access journals and to publish working papers ahead of final drafts, so that their work is not locked up by some journal copyrights which are increasingly testing the budgets of libraries who wish to subscribe.’

Comment. I applaud Zittrain for endorsing OA in his inaugural lecture. However, universities should require deposit in OA repositories not publication in OA journals (although they should encourage publication OA journals). (1) There aren't enough OA journals today and there won't be for some time. OA journals can easily grow in size but cannot as easily grow in number or scope. (2) Even when there are enough OA journals and they cover every research niche, a requirement to publish in OA journals would limit the freedom of authors to publish in the journals of their choice. (3) If the goal is OA, then universities needn't steer faculty away from subscription journals, at least when these journals consent to the OA archiving of peer-reviewed postprints, as about 70% of them do today. By contrast, (4) OA repositories are available today; (5) they scale quickly and easily; (6) they are compatible with the survival of conventional journals; and (7) they are compatible with author freedom to submit their work wherever they like. These are the reasons why all the OA mandates by funding agencies (public and private) focus on OA repositories, not OA journals.

Harvard's Faculty Council hears presentation on OA

From the Harvard Crimson report on "yesterday’s meeting of the Faculty Council --the highest governing body of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences":
Welch Professor of Computer Science Stuart M. Shieber ’81 made a presentation to the Council about reducing the cost of providing scholarly publications in the Harvard libraries. “The [scholars] are doing the writing, the editing, the reviewing, and they’re doing the reading,” Shieber said. “There’s a market failure that has resulted in this system.” Shieber suggested that open-access journals might provide a new option for scholars, although many options are still being discussed. “Printing and distribution in the day of the Internet can be done in a completely different way,” Shieber said. “Access can be done at essentially zero marginal cost to anyone.”

OA to civic information in Canada

A group of Canadians has launched Citizens for Open Access to Civic Information and Data (CivicAccess). From the wiki:
Citizens for Open Access to Civic Information and Data (CivicAccess) is a group of citizens which believes all levels of government should make civic information and data accessible at no cost in open formats to their citizens. We believe this is necessary to allow citizens to fully participate in the democractic process of an "information society."

Objectives: [1] To encourage all levels of governments (county, municipal, provincial, federal) to make civic data and information available to citizens without restrictions, at no cost, and in useable open formats. [2] To encourage the development of citizen projects using civic data and information

If you're interested, join the mailing list.

Making public data accessible to some and not all

Michael Cross, Is NHS data there for any company - or just one? The Guardian, April 27, 2006. Excerpt:
Few repositories of public sector information contain more political dynamite than those in NHS data sets. This week it was NHS staff numbers; next week it could be surgeons' death rates. Earlier this year, the official custodian of the NHS's data raised eyebrows by announcing a special relationship with a commercial firm. At least one competing business has questioned whether a level playing field is possible under the new arrangement. The case provides an example of the potential conflicts created by the government's policy of earning commercial returns on public sector information - a policy challenged by Guardian Technology's Free Our Data campaign....

Locus, a body set up to represent businesses relying on public sector information, said any exclusive supplier deal was a cause for concern. Richard Pawlyn, the chairman of the Locus Association, said: "This is symptomatic of the lack of clear guidance from government. The Office of Public Sector Information advocates fairness, transparency and common sense, yet other parts of government promote exclusive supplier deals and create new natural monopolies such as this." He said the association would be asking the Office of Fair Trading, which is investigating the market in public sector information, "to get a hold of these anomalies so the private sector can invest with confidence rather than be wrong-footed and excluded".

Free podcasts of Berkeley lectures

Brock Read, U. of California at Berkeley Offers Free Podcasts of Courses on iTunes, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 26, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
The University of California at Berkeley is making audio and video recordings of many course lectures available free to anyone -- on campus or off -- through Apple Computer's popular iTunes music store, campus officials announced on Tuesday. The university has already posted lectures from almost 30 courses, including seminars on computer science, psychology, and cyberculture, to the online store. iTunes users can download the lectures individually, or they can subscribe to semester-long podcasts, which transfer new sessions to their MP3 players when they connect those devices to their computers. Berkeley's project is the latest evidence of colleges' growing interest in offering podcasts of course material -- and in using iTunes to deliver those recordings....But Berkeley is unique among those universities distributing through iTunes in making its podcasts free to the public instead of restricting them to students and alumni.

More on OA to psychology literature

Heather Morrison, Open Access: to Help the Helpers, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, April 26, 2006. An Open Letter to Gerald P. Koocher, President of the American Psychological Association (APA), and to all APA members. Remember that last week the APA Executive Director published an argument that OA to research literature was useless to most lay readers and therefore unjustified. (PS: See my response to that argument, blogged yesterday.) Excerpt from Heather's open letter:
There are a very great many good reasons why researchers and practitioners across many disciplines are enthusiastically embracing the potential of the internet to create, as the Budapest Open Access Initiative describes it, an unprecedented public good: open access to the scholarly literature that was never produced for the creator's profit.  Today, my request is that the American Psychological Association give some thought to the potential of open access to help the helpers.

Many, if not most, of us, are involved in helping relationships at various points in our lives. A few of us have the advantage of professional training and resources to allow us ready access to the scholarly literature, such as the professional clinical psychologist practicing in the research hospital.  A very great many helpers, however, do not have access to these resources. Consider, for example, the social worker in the inner city. Many social workers work long hours, and without much pay. Having to travel to a university, or pay to read research is a real barrier for someone like this. Ready access to the scholarly literature in psychology could make the difference between a practice that is evidence-based, and one that is not. What a difference this can make - for the social worker and clients alike.  Or, what about the parent struggling to understand an autistic child?...How about all of the other caregivers - of family members with dementia, major or minor mental illnesses, or all the volunteers who help the caregivers?  Or, for that matter, the professional health care workers? Picture the doctor, or psychologist in a rural practice - no university library nearby. Couldn't open access make a world of difference to these people?...Or, let's think about all the people involved in various areas of crime and delinquency - our police and correctional officers? Wouldn't ready access to the latest in psychology help to inform their practice - and wouldn't open access be the optimum way to provide this?

If, like me, you believe that the science and art that is psychology truly matters to the world - because what, after all, could be more important than understanding ourselves - surely you will agree that our knowledge of psychology - all of it - should be shared, as openly as possible. There is a time for each discipline and profession to consider its own commitment to open access. Psychologists - it is your turn.

Historians criticize Smithsonian Institution for access-limiting deals

Jacqueline Trescott, Historians Protest Smithsonian's Deals, Washington Post, April 26, 2006. Excerpt:
The Society of American Historians, a group that promotes excellence in historical writing, has suspended Smithsonian Books from its ranks in protest over the Smithsonian Institution's "increasingly commercial approach to its mission." The suspension itself will have little impact, but it is the latest symptom of friction between the Smithsonian's top managers and many of the nation's scholars. The latest criticism follows a month of public debate over partnerships the Smithsonian made with commercial businesses and the change in policy about access to its archives. In a resolution passed by the historical group's executive board yesterday, the society raised questions about the deal with Showtime Networks to create a series of 100 programs a year based on the Smithsonian collections and experts. But the historians also raised questions about a second contract, this one a publishing pact with HarperCollins....

In recent weeks, the Smithsonian has come under attack from writers, historians and filmmakers. The primary issue is how much access that researchers and producers not affiliated with Showtime will have to Smithsonian archives and the appearance of "right of first refusal" awarded Showtime for any project that has more than "incidental" use of Smithsonian materials. "The Smithsonian is an institution that involves public money and public trust and is a public archives," said Elizabeth Adkins, president-elect of the Society of American Archivists. "It should follow the general guidelines of equal access. We are distressed." The exact nature of the agreements are secret. The Smithsonian contends they are proprietary and not subject to freedom-of-information laws that require most federal contracts to be available for public inspection. However, a Smithsonian directive states that "the institution follows the intent and spirit of the [FOIA] as a matter of policy."...Last week, about 215 filmmakers and historians asked the Smithsonian to reconsider the deal. Ken Burns, one of the country's best-known documentary filmmakers, called the Showtime terms a mistake. The Society of American Archivists also asked the Smithsonian to reconsider the Showtime arrangement. "We urge the Smithsonian to revisit the agreement and to abandon those portions that limit either access to the archives or distribution of a researcher's final results," said the society's president, Richard Pearce-Moses....The American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries asked the Smithsonian for a copy of the contract with Showtime. The two organizations argued that the "mission of the Smithsonian militates toward full disclosure of this document." They argued that as a public institution, the Smithsonian had a responsibility to let the taxpayer know about its business dealings. "The public interest in disclosure here is clearly high in light of the unique nature of the agreement and its potential impact on public accessibility of Smithsonian resources," said the organizations in a letter to the Smithsonian.

More on the RCUK's new journal study

Stevan Harnad endorses my comments yesterday on the new journal study sponsored by the RCUK, RIN, and DTI. And he takes them further, in this comment on his blog today:
The UK -- which had the undisputed leadership of the world in setting Open Access policy -- may now be losing that lead, allowing itself instead to get needlessly side-tracked and bogged down in irrelevant diversions and digressions, designed solely to delay the optimal and inevitable (and obvious, and already long overdue).  Peter Suber's comments are spot-on, and say it all. The ball, already fumbled by NIH in the US and perhaps now by the RCUK in the UK too, will now pass to the European Commission and -- more importantly -- to the distributed network of individual universities and other research institutions worldwide. The leaders now are the institutions that have not sat waiting for national funder mandates in order to go ahead and mandate OA self-archiving, but have already gone ahead and mandated it themselves, for their own institutions.

What we should remind ourselves is that if the physics community -- way back in 1991, and the computer science community from even earlier -- had been foolish enough to wait for the outcome of the kind of vague, open-ended study now planned by RCUK with RIN, instead of going ahead and self-archiving their research, we would have lost 500,000 (physics) plus 750,000 (computer science) OA articles'-worth of research access, usage and impact for the past decade and a half.

The Wellcome Trust has had the vision and good sense to go ahead and mandate what had already empirically demonstrated its positive benefits for research with no negative effects on publishing on the basis of 15+ years worth of objective evidence.

The RCUK seems to prefer endless open-ended dithering...

He takes the thread further in second post today on How to test whether mandated self-archiving generates cancellations. Excerpt:

There is always still the possibility of a miracle, which is a formal open statement by RCUK that the RIN study is not going to delay the long-overdue RCUK announcement, that the RCUK policy announcement is imminent and in no way contingent on the outcome of the RIN study....But I doubt that is quite the case, or that RCUK will straight-forwardly say so....[I]n reality, RCUK are being intimidated into commissioning this joint RIN study in the vague hope that it will yield a more credible basis for drawing the unconscionable delay out still longer....

If there were any honest wish to collect objective data on whether a self-archiving mandate will generate cancellations, the only way to collect such data is empirically: By adopting the RCUK self-archiving mandate and then seeing, objectively, whether it does generate any cancellations....

This is all the more unfortunate as the RCUK has been repeatedly advised that there is a simple, natural way to implement the mandate that completely avoids all publisher contingencies, namely, to mandate only the immediate deposit of the full-text, and merely to encourage (not mandate) the setting of access to Open Access, leaving it entirely up to the author....With the deposit mandated immediately upon acceptance in every case, semi-automated eprint-emailing, done voluntarily by each author if/when they choose to, would give OA the real chance it deserves to show its benefits....

No nontrivial empirical outcome can possibly come out of this RIN study on the objective effects of a national mandate when the mandate has not been empirically tested! Hence the best that can be done is to wrap up this non-study as soon as possible and get back to facing the existing empirical facts, which are that (1) self-archiving is highly beneficial in terms of usage and impact, but (2) it is only done spontaneously (unmandated) by 15% of researchers, except (3) in a few subfields -- such as some areas of physics -- where it has been at or near 100% for some time now, and that (4) in those 100% OA subfields it has not led to cancellations, as already attested to publicly by the publishers in question (APS and IOPP).  Or to announce that the RCUK policy is not to be contingent on the outcome of the RIN study, and to go ahead and announce the (long, long overdue) policy at last!

The case for permitting commercial use of open content

Rufus Pollock, Removing the nc: why license restrictions on commercial use are problematic and (frequently) unnecessary, Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, April 24, 2006. Excerpt:

I think the adoption of the ‘non-commercial’ restriction is a big mistake. Removing the restriction would deliver significant gains in terms of greater freedom for reuse, demonstrating a commitment to full ‘openness’, and prevention fragmentation of the ‘commons’. At the same time the downside of doing this would be minimal.

First, a by-sa license is clearly ‘freer’ than a by-sa-nc in that it places fewer restrictions on the use of the work. In general this is a good thing since it means fewer occassions on which people have to /ask permission/. The Open Knowledge Definition following the approach of the F/OSS community prohibits discrimination against fields of endeavour (article eight) including restrictions on commercial use. Just as for open source I think it is important to have commercial users join the community. Furthermore this kind of restriction not only adds further complexity (what exactly counts as ‘commercial’ use?) but also is the basis for the introduction of a whole panopoly of further cases of ’special treatment’ (for developing nations, against military use, etc etc) leading rapidly to a fragmenting of the ‘commons’. I’d therefore go as far as to say that a license which incorporates ‘nc’ type provisions should not be described as ‘open’ and should be avoided wherever possible.

Second is all commercial usage bad? I know someone who made a documentary about Chavez and distributes it for free. At the same time he has received payments when it has aired by commercial tv stations (they often pay even when they don’t need to). This would make his work ‘commercial’ but it seems a far cry from, say, use in a coca-cola advert. Do you really want to prevent that kind of usage? If you do you’ve just cut out most of the main avenues for ’serious’ reuse of your work - ultimately most documentary makers would like to see their stuff get out to as wide an audience as possible and that means broadcast on a commercial network.

Third for the types commercial usage that I imagine you would most object to (e.g. adverts) the share-alike clause should be a sufficient obstacle - the makers of a major ‘brand’ advert probably do not want to have ‘reshare’ their work. They would need to come and relicense from you and at that point you are in the same position as with an nc license.

Update. Rufus has posted a follow-up (May 2, 2006).

Using the carrot

Lesley Perkins, Ego? What ego? OA Librarian, April 26, 2006. Excerpt:
One of the biggest challenges for academic librarians is getting faculty to deposit their articles into the university's institutional repository (IR), assuming there is one, of course. There are numerous reasons why faculty don't or won't deposit their articles, and there are numerous strategies, some more effective than others, for convincing them to do so. John Willinsky (UBC professor, and author of The Access Principle) believes the key is to appeal to their ego. Faculty love to see their work widely disseminated, read, praised and cited. It feeds their ego, they're human. But what's the hook? John suggests putting a section on the university website homepage that advertises the IR and the university's research output with a feature called "Faculty Article of the Day" (or week, if daily seems too arduous), with a link to the article in the IR. He claims that many faculty check their institution's homepage regularly to see what's new and which faculty member's work is getting attention. It won't take long before faculty realize that if they want their research featured on the homepage, they'd best find a way to deposit it in the IR. Why not go a step further and add the same feature to the university library homepage? Double-boost those egos, and increase access and exposure while you're at it?

PS: The Dutch take this idea a step further with Cream of Science, which showcases to the whole country --or, actually, the whole world-- the best work on deposit in Dutch OA repositories. The strategy has been very successful both in attracting readers and stimulating deposits.

Interview with Yochai Benkler

Open Business has interviewed Yochai Benkler, author of The Wealth of Networks (Yale 2006, both in print and OA editions). Excerpt:

2. You also mention “non-monetary” incentives. What are those?

There is something of a joke in the very posing of the question on a business site. Nonmonetary motivations are what make you stop on the street for a moment to answer a stranger who asks you for the time or directions; what makes you travel five hundred miles to be with you family for the holidays, and what makes you tell a friend a joke, or listen to it. They are also the motivations that lead some of the world’s leading minds to work for what, by comparison to other lines of business in which they could succeed, is a pittance-to satisfy their curiosity, for fame, or because of the sheer fun.
These are motivations on which all of us act many times a day, but which have been shunted to the periphery of the economy throughout much of the industrial period. What we see now, as the two core inputs into information production have become widely distributed in the population (that is, computation and communications capacity, on the one hand, and human creativity, experience, and wisdom, on the other hand), these same motivations have moved from the domain of the social and personal to occupy a larger role smack in the middle of the most advanced economies in the world today....

5. Can copyright block these open forms of collaboration - how?

Certainly. Copyright blocks access to the inputs into information production that are copyrighted....Annotated books, illustrated editions, updated guide books, so many other things that are much easier to imagine, once one looks at wikipedia or sites like tripadvisor provide a much more immediate sense of how much is lost because of copyright. Now, that doesn’t mean that we should get rid of all of copyright immediately. It is merely to offer an example of how copyright dampens the possibilities of social production, because it increases the costs, and often simply blocks completely, access to the raw material of any information production activity --existing information. More threatening still is not copyright proper, but the steady assault that the copyright industries have been mounting on the free information ecology through statues like the digital Millennium Copyright Act and the efforts to pass a regulatory requirement that all equipment capable of rendering digital media be designed so that it will behave predictably in the hands of its user, and that users will not be able to do things --like implement new pieces of software or copy files-- that might threaten the tightly controlled distribution pipes of copyrighted material. These acts threaten the very foundations of the networked information ecology, because they seek to change the basic instrumentalities of social production and the free and easy flow of information across the network that makes it possible.

6. There is a tricky economic question when it comes to free (as in beer) distribution of media - books, text, music, film - how can, in this environment, artists be remunerated?

I think here the answer is different for different forms of expression. In general, thinking at the broad abstract level of “copyright” and “information” leads to excessive concern with copyright....Much of text publication has long been outside the needs of copyright: --newspapers and magazines have long been based on advertising and attention brokerage, not on copyright. Books are different, and the current solution --which is that people habits of reading books are still allowing free distribution online to be couple with sales may not be long lived....

ARROW roadshows for 2006

Australia's ARROW Project (Australian Research Repositories Online to the World) has announced its schedule of ARROW Roadshows for 2006 --five events in May and June to brief university audiences on ARROW's work.

Update on the PerX project

JISC announced the launch of PerX in September 2005, and today released an update on its progress. Excerpt:

pilot service providing subject resource discovery across a variety of digital repositories of interest to the engineering learning and research communities has been released by the JISC-funded PerX project.  Although the repositories included in the pilot are relevant to engineering, the cross-searching methods and interface used, plus the range of repository types included, should be of interest to many as a demonstrator of one method of resource discovery across multiple digital repositories. Twenty-eight repositories are currently cross-searched by the pilot whose basic search interface and advanced search interface enable cross-searching of the repositories, and allow filtering by resource type: articles, theses and dissertations, technical reports, books, learning and teaching resources, key websites, industry news and new job announcements. Overall, more than 1.5 million resources are cross-searched by the pilot service.  Access to the full text of items found is available from many of the repositories. In a few cases, the full items consist of details of books, articles, learning objects or websites, and in some others the full text may be available to subscribing institutions or by pay-per-view.

An important purpose of the PerX pilot is to help scope a possible future cross-search service.  With this in mind, feedback on the Pilot would be much appreciated by project staff. A 60 second survey is available and those providing feedback will be entered into a draw to win £100 of Amazon vouchers.

Documenting the deficiencies of Google Scholar

Péter Jacsó, Puppy love versus reality: The illiteracy, innumeracy, phantom hit counts and citation counts of Google Scholar, a PPT presentation at the UKSG Annual Conference (Warwick, April 3-5, 2006). Hits GS-worship hard; hits GS harder.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

April issue of Cites & Insights

The May issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now online. A full half of this issue (pp. 12-21) is devoted to Library Access to Scholarship. Walt reviews six months of news and comment on OA, including many of my own writings. He covers the launch of OA Librarian, the ACRL adoption of delayed OA for College & Research Libraries, Hindawi's expanding line of OA journals, the DC Principles Coalition proposal for rolling back the NIH policy, the OA experiment at JMLA, Erik Engstrom's confident misunderstandings of OA, Dorothea Salo's reflections on the obstacles to OA archiving, Jan Velterop's reflections on OA publishing, my review of OA in 2005 and my predictions for 2006, the Kaufman-Wills report, the analogy between OA and open source, Richard Poynder's proposal of a central OA organzation, Charles Bailey's overviews of OA --and more. You saw all of this here in OAN, but not with Walt's commentary. Have a look.

How can open courseware make education better?

Toru Iiyoshi, Opportunity is Knocking: Will Education Open the Door? Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, April 2006. (Thanks to A.G. Rud.) Excerpt:

[O]ne of open education's most critical questions --how can open education's tools and resources demonstrably improve education quality?-- [is] rarely mentioned [at conferences on open education]....The main tenet of open education is to make educational assets freely available to the public. This is becoming easier and less expensive as network and multimedia technology evolves....But several obstacles may stand in the way of using these and other powerful tools and resources in ways that will actually improve the quality of education.

First, although the tools and resources are readily available, transferring practical knowledge about how to use them is not easy. Indeed, this kind of pedagogical know-how is notoriously hard to make visible and portable....[T]he vast majority of this kind of practical knowledge remains tacit and invisible in the experiences of the educator or educators who created the materials....This is why Carnegie's Knowledge Media Lab is develop and disseminate support tools and resources that capture not only materials but the stories and experiences of real teachers using those materials in...concrete settings....

Second, true success in open education requires a change in education culture and policy. The education community values activities like scholarly writing and pursuing new research questions....But...adapting or improving another's educational materials is rarely understood to be a creative, valuable contribution....

Finally, we must look beyond institutional boundaries and connect efforts among many settings and open source entrepreneurs....An initiative like the Sakai Project, for example, which is working to design, build, and deploy a new online education platform that includes course management, electronic portfolio, assessment, collaboration, communication, and other tools actually coordinates multi-institutional collaborative efforts and offers institutions the chance to collectively advance teaching and learning....This is the kind of cooperation and knowledge sharing that will catapult open education to a new level.

...I anticipate three dramatic improvements over time: increased quality of tools and resources, more effective use, and greater individual and collective pedagogical knowledge. Ideally, all will occur simultaneously, combining local classroom innovations and learned lessons through global knowledge sharing....Opportunity is knocking. Will we open the door?

Growing OA publisher for the developing world

IBScientific (IBS) is a non-profit publisher, launched last year (July 5, 2005), specializing in OA journals from developing countries. Currently it publishes IBScientific Magazine and the IBS Journal of Science, both under CC Attribution licenses. Other details from today's announcement:
All our publications are peer reviewed and registered as journals. This initiative has taken Algeria as a case for proof of concept and has attracted the attention of both academics and policy makers. We are also launching a collaboration gateway, to harbor science peer-to-peer communication. This project also serve the scientific community in large and has received some support from UK researchers. Our nine month life so far has been very exciting and our growth has prompt us to organise a conference to improve awareness of the open access model and its role in future science publishing..., and we would like to draw your attention to this initiative. (The conference date is the 8th of July 2006, in London.)

Preview from PLoS Clinical Trials

PLoS Clinical Trials will officially launch in May but already has two preview articles posted to its web site.

Self-archiving for flourishing

Renate Ell, Publish or perish: self-archive to flourish, a posting on the ESOF2006 Conference blog, April 26, 2006. Excerpt:
“If I have been able to see further, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants” – this famous quote from a letter by Isaac Newton is still a wonderful metaphor for the work of scientists. Research is always founded on other research, and it becomes a foundation for others’ research – at least if other scientists can (afford to) access the relevant publication. With 24000 peer-reviewed journals worldwide, that can be difficult. But the internet now provides a new way to “become a giant”: Researchers can complement access to their own published journal articles by also “self-archiving” them on the web....

To create a repository, an institution only installs a free GNU software. It is worth the effort: Complementary self-archiving increases the citation impact of an article by up to 250%. However, only 15% of scientists as yet enjoy this benefit. Some research institutions and funders (including the EC) are already proposing to request or even require open access self-archiving. But scientists only tap its full potential if they make their articles accessible immediately upon acceptance for publication. 93% of journals already allow that. Even for the rest, the self-archiving software offers a solution: If someone clicks on the title of the article, an automatic e-mail requests an e-print from the author.

In [the ESOF2006 open access] session, scientists and representatives of scientific and funding institutions are introduced to open-access self-archiving and its effect on research impact.

Open content in Nigeria

Ayo Kusamotu, A paradigm shift from consumers to producers of works, Vanguard, April 26, 2006. A defense of open content in Nigeria. Kusamotu focuses on the arts and entertainment but appeals to general principles that apply to other domains as well.

Update on Stevan Harnad

The University of Southampton has issued a press release on Stevan Harnad, Southampton's globe-trotting archivangelist. Excerpt:
Southampton's globe-trotting 'archivangelist' Professor Stevan Harnad, is currently promoting the benefits of University Open Access Self-Archiving as invited keynote speaker in Europe, the United States and Canada. 'Self-Archiving' means researchers depositing their published articles in their own university's open-access web archives, making them accessible for free, for all users worldwide. Professor Harnad, one of the founders of the international Open Access movement and Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) is informing his audiences in five locations around the world that so far only 15 per cent of researchers are self-archiving spontaneously, even though studies from the University of Southampton have shown that self-archiving increases research usage and impact by a dramatic 25-250 per cent in all disciplines....

Professor Harnad has presented/is presenting at the following five conferences: [1] Invited Plenary lecture, 1st European Conference on Scientific Publishing in Biomedicine and Medicine (ECSP) "Researchers and Open Access - the new scientific publishing environment" and also Workshop on "Self-archiving, Institutional Repositories, and its impact on research" Lund, Sweden 21- 22 April 2006. [2] The Access to Knowledge Conference (A2K) Yale Law School, New Haven, 21-23 April 2006. [3] Invited Keynote. Open Access and Information Management: An International Workshop, Organized by the Information Management Committee of Research & Technology Organisation of NATO, Oslo, Norway, May 10. [4] Invited Keynote, Open Access Institutional Repositories, Current Research Information Systems. Bergen, Norway, 11-13 May 2006. [5] Congrès de l'ACFAS 2006, Colloque sur l'autoarchivage des articles de recherche, leurs libres accès et leurs impacts scientifiques, McGill, Montréal, 15 mai 2006.

More on OA for lay readers

Steven Breckler, Open Access and Public Understanding, APA Online, April 2006. Breckler is the Executive Director of the American Psychological Association. Excerpt:
Over the past year, NIH has been working to establish and grow a policy on public access. The goal is to post all of the journal publications that result from NIH grants, in a form that makes the full text freely available to the public. When the policy was first introduced, contributions to the public archive were voluntary. Now NIH and some members of congress want to make the contributions mandatory – if your published journal article is supported in any way by a grant from NIH, you would be required to deposit the full-text article in the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central archive. APA joined with many other non-profit publishers of scientific journals to express concerns about the initial NIH policy. For one thing, NIH has not yet demonstrated that it can manage such a mammoth undertaking. Many of us also have serious reservations about concentrating so much gate-keeping authority in the hands of a federal agency. These agencies already control the direction of science through the allocation of funding. Under the new public access policy, it will be far too easy for the government to suppress research results that happen to be unpopular or politically unpalatable. It is an Orwellian nightmare for basic science. Perhaps the greatest concern, however, is the disingenuous premise on which the public access policy is based. In Publication No. 05-5775, NIH asserts the following:
“Ensuring access to the full text of NIH-funded research publications will improve the public’s understanding and appreciation of biomedical research findings. Enhanced access to information strengthens and expands the impact of research while disseminating it in a timelier manner. The online archive will increase the public’s access to health-related publications at a time when demand for such information is on a steady rise.”

...It is reasonable to ask whether lay members of the public – taxpayers whose hard-earned dollars helped to support this research – will gain from their reading of this article any better understanding of the research results. Some certainly will, but I suspect that most will not. For those who do want access, however, many options are available – a reprint request to the author, electronic access through a library, or purchase (for a nominal fee) directly from the APA website.

Comment. (1) The concern that NIH will be a gatekeeper that could suppress politically unpalatable results is completely misplaced. Breckler missed the fact that NIH is not the sole distributor of this research. The NIH policy only applies to articles published in independent journals. The NIH will only host copies of research published elsewhere. (2) On the benefit for lay readers, Breckler makes three mistakes. First, he mistakes the NIH priorities, which are to help researchers first and lay readers second. The policy puts it this way: "By creating an archive of peer-reviewed, NIH-funded research publications, NIH is helping health care providers, educators, and scientists to more readily exchange research results and the public to have greater access to health-related research publications. As the archive grows, the public will be more readily able to access an increasing number of these publications." Second, he assumes that the NIH policy has no other justification than to help lay readers, so that if this one is weak, the policy cannot stand. Breckler misses not only the primacy of the benefit to researchers, but its immensity. Third, he assumes that because helping lay readers is secondary, it is therefore negligible or can be satisfied through priced-access models. For some evidence to the contrary, see testimonies from Merrill Goozner, Kuan-Teh Jeang, Ray Corrigan, and (if you only have time to read one) Sharon Terry. BTW, there's a good thread at the AmSci OA Forum on the "lay reader" question.

Plans for world's largest collection of OA ebooks

Paradise Publishers plans to develop the world's largest collection of OA ebooks. From Monday's announcement:
Paradise Publishers Inc, a web based publishing firm acquired the website earlier this month....The site currently generates over 26 million hits monthly and Paradise Publishers Inc. plans to increase traffic tremendously by creating the world’s largest free e-book online database.  “We want to be people’s source of information” says Nicolas Gremion, Paradise Publishers Inc. President. “Similar to the Google model, we’re giving our users instant access to free info on any topic under the sun” he continues. “By providing great benefits to our visitors we shall continue to increase our traffic flow and elevate among the ranks of the most popular sites on the net, period”.

The website is currently a top resource on the internet for free e-books and offers selections from a wide variety of authors on a vast array of topics. Currently the website offers thousands of e-books downloadable instantly without cost or membership. Large renovations are ongoing to enhance user experience, expand the library and offer additional free products to all will also soon permit users to submit their own e-books to the site....

Academic podcasts

The Duke University Libraries keep a list of academic podcasts. (Thanks to ResearchBuzz.)

Fair use and OA for ETDs

Peter Monaghan, Digital Dissertation Dust-Up, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 28, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
Virginia A. Kuhn, a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, was having dissertation trouble. Nothing unusual about that. But it wasn't that Ms. Kuhn was struggling to finish her thesis. The trouble was that officials at the institution could not figure out whether to accept it. Her thesis is not a printed document. It was born digital, in a multimedia format full of film clips, hyperlinks to other parts of the work, and other uses of electronic media....The biggest issue was copyright. Citing a snippet of text in a printed thesis is standard procedure, but including a piece of video or a still picture, which Ms. Kuhn says is critical to explain her points, can raise the ire of copyright holders, and sound the alarm among university attorneys. Although Ms. Kuhn lists detailed citations for all multimedia works in her thesis, she refused to ask permission to include them, because she insists that she should be able to cite them in the same way that print sources have long been cited. She says: "If you ask for permission, you're screwed because you imply that you legally need it." Instead, she says, "I'm doing all that's incumbent on me legally to establish fair use." The topic of the work, as it happens, is the challenges of adopting new technologies in teaching and learning. Even though university officials first approved her dissertation and tentatively granted her a doctorate in December, they quickly reconsidered and put a hold on her transcript while they deliberated on whether they could accept the thesis. Only in late March did the university grant her degree, after a nerve-racking delay....

Storing the dissertation could also cause problems, says Ewa E. Barczyk, interim director of the Golda Meir Library at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. The University of Wisconsin System is setting up a repository for a variety of digital documents from the system's campuses. But the library requires that materials that are placed in the archive be "open-access compliant," she says, so that anyone can get to them. And, she says, if Ms. Kuhn's work is included in such a repository, that may create legal problems because copyright holders may consider the document's accessibility a breach of their copyrights....

Even the copyright concerns struck [Charles I. Schuster, associate dean of humanities and member of Kuhn's dissertation committee] as misplaced. The concept of "fair use" should apply, he said, because "this is a dissertation, not a commercial property." Legal experts agree. "It seems to be classic fair use," says Kenneth D. Salomon, a Washington lawyer who often represents colleges in intellectual-property cases. Courts determine fair use by considering several questions, says Peter Jaszi, a professor of law at American University. Is the use educational? Is it for commercial ends? Does it do measurable harm to a copyright holder's prospects in the marketplace? Are the clips unnecessarily long or numerous? He agrees with Ms. Kuhn that images should be evaluated just as text is. "Case law makes that absolutely clear," he says. Of course, he says, universities' lawyers are paid to avoid risk, but they should beware of doing so at the cost of legitimate educational and research goals....

But even court rulings, say the two lawyers, do not prevent organizations such as University Microfilms Inc., the publisher and repository of 98 percent of doctoral dissertations completed in the United States, from imposing their own rules. And, in fact, Milwaukee officials did meet opposition when they tried to submit Ms. Kuhn's work to that archive....According to company policy [ProQuest, owner of University Microfilms], authors must obtain "written permission to reproduce copyrighted images, video, graphics, animation, data, and images of individuals." When copyright questions remain, "publication will be delayed until those concerns are resolved."

Comment. Kudos to Kuhn and UWM for standing by fair use, refusing to seek permission when it wasn't necessary, and helping future scholars face fewer permission barriers in writing up their research. If ProQuest will not accept dissertations that meet a university's academic standards and comply with copyright law, then universities should cut ties with ProQuest. At the very least, ProQuest acceptance should never be a condition of university acceptance.

A new RCUK-sponsored journal study

The RCUK has announced an Analysis of data on scholarly journals publishing to be undertaken jointly with the RIN (Research Information Network) and DTI (Department of Trade and Industry). From the site:

This study got off the ground in mid-April 2006 and should conclude by the middle of summer.  It is being undertaken on behalf of the three joint funders by Electronic Publishing Services Ltd (EPS), in association with Loughborough University Department of Information Science.  The aim is to assist in UK domestic policy-making, by reviewing information about scholarly journal publishing, assessing the data available about the process and the reliability of that data. The main purpose of the study is to gain more reliable information about the operation of the journal publishing aspects of the scholarly communications process and its costs.  The study focuses specifically on journal publishing, but it should be viewed in the context of a projected body of work involving all key stakeholders in the context of the scholarly communications framework.  This is likely to include related but separate studies of other aspects of scholarly communications, including for instance the development, funding and viability of digital repositories.

The key objective of the project is to provide the three sponsors of the study, and other stakeholders in the scholarly journals industry, with an accurate review of reliable and objective information about the journals publishing process....

Scholarly journal publishing is a key component of the spectrum of functions and activities that form part of the scholarly communications process.  This has been the focus of much interest lately, in particular because of the considerable interest generated by recent debates on open access.  Although this level of debate has provided a welcome opportunity to consider challenges relating to the dissemination of research outputs, it has also been characterised by a degree of mutual suspicion and misunderstanding stemming from the often conflicting positions of the different actors and stakeholders with an interest in these issues. There has also been tension over the quality and completeness of the information and data that the different stakeholders have used in support of their respective positions.  As a result of these tensions and suspicions, it has been difficult to achieve a consensus on how best to exploit the potential of new technology for enhancing the scholarly communications process and its cost-effectiveness.  This has had implications for the development of public policy, as evidenced by the debates surrounding the Wellcome Trust’s policy on open access, and the delay in agreeing a definitive RCUK position statement.

In this context, there is a clear need for objective information that all stakeholders can agree upon as a means of defining and achieving common goals in scholarly communications.  The DTI-sponsored Research Communications Forum has provided a useful arena for the exchange of information and views.  The recently-created scholarly communications group facilitated by the RIN will work collaboratively to identify key issues in scholarly communications and gaps in our understanding, and to develop a better, evidence-based understanding of these issues - for instance, the development, funding and viability of digital repositories - as a basis for informing public policy.  This group includes representatives of all the key stakeholders (notably the Research Councils, the library community, publishers, the RIN and key Government Departments such as the DTI and OST).  The current study, focused on scholarly journal publishing - which has been the focus of some of the more lively debate - will be timely contribution to the development of understanding in the field of scholarly communications as a whole.

Comment. (1) The RCUK has not said whether it will wait to announce the final version of its OA policy until the new study is complete and fully digested. But it looks as though it will. It looks as though the voices calling for delay have prevailed. (2) Remember that the RCUK's draft OA policy is already based on extensive fact-finding from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and summarized in its well-known report, Scientific Publications: Free For All? (3) The only relevant evidence not yet unearthed by previous studies is on the effect of high-volume OA archiving on journal subscriptions --outside physics, where we already know that high-volume OA archiving is either harmless or synergistic with journal subscriptions. But we cannot gather evidence on this question until we stimulate high-volume OA archiving in a field other than physics, e.g. by adopting a policy something like the RCUK's draft OA policy. Let's get on with it, adopt the policy, monitor the effects carefully, and be prepared to amend as needed. (4) Why does the list of "all the key stakeholders" omit researchers and universities?

Creating a researcher's profile to accompany archived work

The Dutch DARE program has launched a Profile Management System called PROMAS. From today's announcement:
PROMAS [is] a browser-based tool which integrates existing information from various academic data sources (CRIS, repositories, teaching info, plus others). PROMAS enables academics and institutes alike to create academic profiles in various formats, depending on the situation....Advantages are that the information is always up-to-date and only already existing information is being used. The HARVEX-project has realized not only a prototype, but a fully working production system. Core features of PROMAS are: [1] The system is explicitly directed toward archiving the results of academic labour and in so doing giving the opportunity to fully make use of the possibilities and objectives of the universities DARE repositories; [2] It gives the academics and institutions the possibility to strengthen the communicative aspects of their work toward the relevant stakeholders, by putting specific accents or structures in his profile which he / she thinks his stakeholders will find important; [3] It is in connection with the modern way in which communication and interaction take place in the academic community. Information is being communicated through (text) files in different formats (RTF, HTML, PDF) directed towards human reading and understanding. Information is also used more and more by stakeholders through harvesting meta-data by way of XML / RSS-feed standards (machine reading and understanding).

PS: As noted, PROMAS uses DARE's HARVEX (Harvestable Excellence) technology. While the Dutch page on HARVEX is online, the link to the English page is not currently working.

Two more institutions sign the Berlin Declaration

The Brazilian Institute for Information on Science and Technology (Instituto Brasileiro de Informação em Ciência e Tecnologia or IBICT) and the Biblioteca de Catalunya (National Library of Catalonia) have signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Acces to Knowledge.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Quasi-OA database named to LJ's "Best Reference" list

ResearchNow from the Berkeley Electronic Press has been named to the Best Reference 2005 list by Library Journal. From today's announcement:
The [Library Journal] article says of ResearchNow, "This scholarly database just may be the face of the future in online publishing."...Access is available in two versions. ResearchNow Open Access provides quasi-open access to the roster of peer-reviewed, Berkeley Electronic Press journals, as well as completely unrestricted access to working papers, preprints and other "grey literature" from participating institutional and subject-matter repositories. ResearchNow Open Access is free to all readers. ResearchNow Full Access provides completely unrestricted access to the roster of peer-reviewed, Berkeley Electronic Press journals, as well as all new journals launched during the subscription period at no additional charge.

PS: Here's LJ's full statement on ResearchNow: "This scholarly database just may be the face of the future in online publishing, with content coming from three sources: 25 peer-reviewed bepress journals; working papers, preprints, and other 'grey literature' from institutional repositories; and items posted directly to the portal via the ResearchNow Upload Utility. Most notable: the file offers “quasi-open access,” as some content is unrestricted while other content requires a subscription."

Springer adds a journal to its Open Choice program

The Society of General Internal Medicine is moving its Journal of General Internal Medicine from Blackwell to Springer, where it will be part of Springer's Open Choice program. The change will start with the January 2007 issue. For more details, see today's announcement.

DARE program extends to education and labor economics

The Dutch DARE program (Digital Academic REpositories) has launched the Scholars Economic Community, an OA repository and portal for the fields of education and labor economics. From today's announcement:
The aim of this site is to bring together researchers who work in the field of education and labor economics, by providing an online research environment. The Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA), Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam (EUR) and Vrije Universiteit (VU) have initiated this website.

You can search or browse articles of your fellow researchers on topics such as schooling, the labor market and economic development. Publications are immediately and freely available, whether they are already published or still in progress (e.g. working papers). Moreover, you can share your own publications (for more information see 'Contact' on the community website). There is also a 'Portal' to relevant bibliographic databases. In the community website 'Forum' stimulating discussions will be held on education and labor economics topics. Furthermore, 'Seminars' and 'News' keep you informed about conferences and important developments in your field.

OA journals "are rapidly reshaping the field of scientific publication"

Ronald K. Tompkins, The Surgical Journal of the Future: How Will It Appear? Surgery Today, May 2006. Only this abstract is free online for non-subscribers, at least so far:
Not since the invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg has there been such a revolution in the methods of dissemination of knowledge as is now being seen in the electronic media. The time-honored printed journal is becoming obsolete and open-access electronic journals and other technological innovations are rapidly reshaping the field of scientific publication. This paper will explore some of the forces driving these changes and what lies in store for the surgical journal of the future.

Yochai Benkler on OA

William Walsh has blogged a lengthy passage on OA from Yochai Benkler's new book, Wealth of Networks (chapter 9, pp. 323-326) --more germane to OA than the passage I blogged 10 days ago. It's too long to repost it here, but I encourage you to surf over for a look.

OA to Canadian law

Michael Geist, Copyright Law and the Law, a guest post on Slaw, April 24, 2006. Four recommendations to Canadian lawyers on Canadian copyright reform. The fourth:

Open Access. The legal profession's support for CanLII [Canadian Legal Information Institute, an OA portal of Canadian law] points to its recognition of the need to leverage the Internet and new technologies to facilitate greater access to legal materials. While CanLII is a terrific service, it is only a start. The legal profession could focus on the availability of secondary materials, encouraging law reviews and other legal publications to adopt open access licenses. It could adopt the University of Ottawa Law and Technology Journal’s new citation guide, which prominently features citations to freely available primary and secondary sources. On the copyright reform front, it could build on its victory in the CCH case, by promoting a shift from fair dealing to fair use, thereby broadening the copyright balance.

PS: Just one footnote: as Geist's own examples show, OA does not require copyright reform. It's lower-hanging fruit than any kind of copyright reform.

Interview with Gunther Eysenbach

Antonios Liolios, Open-Access Journals: An Expert Interview With Gunther Eysenbach, MD, MPH, Medscape, April 24, 2006. Excerpt:
Gunther Eysenbach, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation at the University of Toronto and a Senior Scientist at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation. He is the publisher and editor of the Journal of Medical Internet Research, a full-text, open-access (OA) journal....

Dr. Liolios: At MEDNET 2005, you reported some interesting data on the citation rate of OA articles, showing that OA articles are cited more often than non-OA articles.

Dr. Eysenbach: The OA study was a longitudinal bibliometric analysis of a cohort of OA and non-OA articles. While there have been other studies before that claimed that OA articles are more frequently cited, these previous studies all suffer from huge methodologic problems because they just compared crude citation counts of openly accessible articles on the Internet. You can’t just compare OA articles vs non-OA articles without adjusting for the many different confounders. To my knowledge, the study I presented is the first rigorous study that applied multiple regression techniques to adjust for the many possible confounders -- and it still found, after adjustment, that OA articles are 3 times more likely to be cited than non-OA articles in the first 10-16 months after publication. This is clear evidence of the fact that OA accelerates the speed with which new findings are taken up by peers. It ultimately speeds up the pace of progress and knowledge translation....

Dr. Liolios: You are an advocate of OA journals. Can you please tell us what prompted you to support this type of publishing?

Dr. Eysenbach: I am a "moderate" advocate of OA publishing, in a sense that I think in the future there will be a role for both business models, author-pays and reader-pays. I don’t evangelize. As a researcher who publishes his own research, I like OA because it is being read not only by fellow researchers, but also by consumers and policy makers, who would normally not open a scientific journal. My personal experience is also that -- unless you have a top paper that is publishable in one of the 5 major general medical journals -- it is always better to publish in an OA journal than in a toll-access specialist journal. Papers in specialist journals are only noticed by a small community, whereas OA gives you more visibility across disciplines -- suddenly your work is also cited by other specialties and disciplines....And finally, as a taxpayer I like OA, because I think it is madness to fund research with public money and then have to let the public buy back the research results. I strongly believe that funding agencies should make OA publishing mandatory.

Dr. Liolios: Is there opposition from the established pay-per-view journals?

Dr. Eysenbach: Absolutely, there is opposition....

Dr. Liolios: Some argue that OA may be associated with less [rigorous] peer-review and quality.

Dr. Eysenbach: Clearly no. OA and the rigor of peer-review and quality have nothing to do with each other. There are good and bad journals in both groups. There are OA journals with very rigorous peer-review, for example JMIR, PLoS, Medscape's MedGenMed. The argument has been made that OA journals may be tempted to accept anything just to cash in on the article processing fee, but one can also argue that there are terrible subscription-based journals out there that just about accept everything to fill their pages. Editors in both groups are well aware that maintaining a high level of quality is key to a journal's survival.

Save the internet

I can't cover the network neutrality debate in detail here because news with a more direct OA connection already takes all my time. But I wrote about it in the March issue of my newsletter and argued that compromising net neutrality will cause collateral damage to OA. To follow the news on net neutrality, and fight for the neutrality principle, I strongly recommend Save The Internet, a new and fast-growing coalition of good people and important organizations. Bookmark the web site, join the coalition, read the blog, and (if you're a US citizen) use the action alert to send a message to your Congressional delegation.

OA for Arab science

On the opening day of the Founding Conference of Expatriate Arab Scientists (Doha, Qatar, April 24-26, 2006), Harold Varmus argued for open access. That's all I've been able to find out. The conference has no web site and the presentations are not online. If you have more info, please drop me a line.

Update (4/29/06). Here's the program for the Doha conference.

Monday, April 24, 2006

What will OA journals cost universities?

William H. Walters, Institutional Journal Costs in an Open Access Environment, forthcoming from the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.
Abstract: This study investigates the potential impact of Open Access pricing on institutional journal expenditures in four subject fields at nine American colleges and universities. Three pricing models are evaluated: the Conventional Model (the current subscription model), the PLoS Open Access Model (based on the fees currently charged by the Public Library of Science), and the Equal-Revenue Open Access Model (which maintains current levels of total aggregate spending within each subject field). Because institutional disparities in publishing productivity are far greater than institutional disparities in library holdings, the shift from a subscription-based model to either Open Access model would bring dramatic cost savings (greater than 50%) for most colleges and universities. At the same time, a small number of institutions—the top research universities—would pay a far higher proportion of the total aggregate cost.

Comment. Let's distinguish two claims: (1) high-output universities will pay more than low-output universities for OA journals, and (2) high-output universities will pay more for OA journals than they now pay for subscription-based journals. The Cornell study of August 2004 and its December 2004 supplement made both claims. But as I've often argued, the Cornell calculation relied on three false assumptions: that all OA journals charge author-side fees, that universities will pay all those fees, and that the average fee is $2500. Walters also makes both claims, and also relies on the first two of these three false assumptions. Most of Walters' argument is devoted to first claim, and he sheds good light on it. However, I think most observers already agreed that the first claim was true, and no more surprising than the fact that high-output universities pay more than low-output universities for journal subscriptions. When Williams asserts the second claim, he improves upon the Cornell calculation primarily by using more sensitive estimates of the size of the author-side fees. He still assumes that all OA journals charge fees and that universities would pay all of them.

I'd like to see Phil Davis (for Cornell) and William Walters refine their calculations to take two known truths into account: that fewer than half of all OA journals charge author-side fees (only 47% according to the Kaufman-Wills study) and that some sizeable percentage of those fees will be paid by funding agencies rather than universities. If the calculations are refined in these ways, we'll find that the first claim remains true and that the second claim is false.

Update. The published version of Walters' article is now online --as is my more detailed argument against the conclusion that OA journals will cost universities more than TA journals.

Returning access and transparency to NARA

Jeffrey Young, National Archives to Stop Letting U.S. Agencies Secretly Withdraw Documents, Chronicle of Higher Education (accessible only to subscribers), April 28, 2006. Excerpt:
Hoping to restore its reputation among scholars and members of the public, the [U.S.] National Archives and Records Administration said last week that it would stop making secret agreements with government agencies that allow them to withdraw documents from the archives for national-security reasons, without public notice, and to restore the documents' classified status. The move came the same day that officials disclosed that the archives had secretly made a deal with the Central Intelligence Agency soon after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The agreement allowed CIA agents to remove items from the archives without leaving any public record of what had been removed. Allen Weinstein, who has been the archives' director since last year, said last week that he had learned of the agreement only the week before, and that he had immediately rushed to denounce it. He sought, successfully, to get the agreement declassified...."There can never be a classified aspect to our mission," said Mr. Weinstein, in a written statement. "Classified agreements are the antithesis of our reason for being."..."We really are going to be much more transparent in our actions with agencies," added [Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the archives]. "Our mission is to make documents available, and we take that very seriously."..."This whole episode has been a genuine scandal for the archives," said Steven Aftergood, who directs a project at the Federation of American Scientists that tracks government secrecy. "One expects a certain degree of mischief from the CIA and other agencies — they mislead people all the time," said Mr. Aftergood. "That has been not been the normal experience at the archives....It is important that the archives be a champion of access to records and not a tool of other agencies that might have an interest in shaping perceptions of that record," added Mr. Aftergood.

New, partially OA Encyclopedia of Egypt

Jenniffer Howard, UCLA to Announce Vast Online Encyclopedia of Egyptology, Chronicle of Higher Education (accessible only to subscribers), April 24, 2006. Excerpt:
The University of California at Los Angeles will unveil plans on Friday for what appears to be the world's first online, peer-reviewed encyclopedia devoted to ancient Egypt. The UCLA Encyclopedia of Egypt, which won a $325,000 grant this month from the National Endowment for the Humanities, will include material in Arabic as well as English....Users can preview the site [here]. During the project's first phase, which will take about two years, the editorial team plans to commission and publish some 650 entries. The first commissions will go out this summer, and some contributions may be up on the site as early as this fall, depending on how long they take to navigate the writing and peer-review process....In time, the encyclopedia will contain as many as 4,000 entries alongside a wealth of visual materials: terms in hieroglyphs, maps, photographs. Anyone with a Web browser will be able to use the English-language "open version," which will include abstracts in Arabic. A fuller version will provide, for a fee, complete Arabic translations along with such frills as three-dimensional "virtual reality" models of temples and other historical sites. "We have to be self-sustaining," Ms. Wendrich says, explaining the split-level system. "We have to create some kind of income." She points out that anyone with an Egyptian e-mail address will be able to browse the enhanced version gratis. "It's very important that Egypt has access to its culture and heritage," she says.

Notes on some A2K presentations

Urs Gasser has blogged some short notes "in newsflash format" on 12 presentations from Yale's A2K Conference (New Haven, April 21-23, 2006).

Clue to RCUK thinking about OA

The RCUK still have not finalized their draft OA policy. But today they published their Science in Society Strategy, which contains a clue to their current thinking about OA. Excerpt:
AIM 4. Increase public awareness of the developments, achievements and impacts that flow from Research Council funded research....

The Research Councils will:...Promote an increased awareness of research and the scientific process among non-specialist audiences, by working in partnership with expert deliverers such as the mass media and regional science centres to ensure that the public have open access to the outcomes of Research Councils’ investment in world-leading research.

Elsevier considers new models, but not price cuts

Mark Chillingworth, Elsevier reviews its journal models, Information World Review, April 24, 2006. Excerpt:
Elsevier is assessing new pricing models which could see archive databases attached to journal subscriptions. The scientific publishing giant is collaborating with major libraries and believes there is demand for a return to title by title subscriptions with the added benefit of access to comprehensive databases. Elsevier senior VP Karen Hunter...believes that the information and publishing sector is in a period of unprecedented uncertainty. “How we make relevant information available and make a business case is not clear,” she said. Elsevier is assessing new models to understand what scientific users will pay for. “Publishers cannot give anything up,” she said of existing services, but also had to modernise and look for new services. “What publishers have to avoid is what happened to computers: every year users expected a better product for a lower price,” she said, referring to the decline of the PC market.

OA map of OA content

Tara Calishain, Find Available Academic Materials With Google Maps, Tech Talk, April 23, 2006. Excerpt:
A very smart cookie at Wayfarer has put together a Google map of university podcasts, Webcasts, and OCW (that's open courseware). It covers academic material around the world. As with any Google maps, you can zoom, click and drag the map location, and so on. I zoomed, clicked and dragged over to North Carolina and saw that Duke University archives some of the lectures from its mathematics department. If that's a little too heavy for you, there are plenty of other things to explore on the map, including Stanford's iTunes collection (some great music in there!), Harvard Extension School and Lectures, and lectures from the BBC.  When I tried it, the Wayfaring site was running a little slowly....

The role of the state in providing OA

Roberto Di Cosmo, Publication scientifique: le rôle des États dans l’ère des TIC, February 17, 2006. Apparently a preprint. (Thanks to the INIST Libre Accès blog.)

ALPSP on OA archiving and copyright

This morning the ALPSP released its response to the UK Gowers Review of Intellectual Property. Excerpt:
Open Access (the provision of free online access for all to scholarly research articles) is an aim which is closely aligned with the objectives of many of our members, particularly learned societies. For example, the mission of the Royal Society of Chemistry is ‘to foster and encourage the growth and application of [chemical] science by the dissemination of chemical knowledge’; that of the British Ecological Society is 'to advance and support the science of ecology and publicise the outcome of research, in order to advance knowledge, education and their application'; and that of the Society for Endocrinology is 'the advancement of public education in endocrinology'.

There are essentially two ways of achieving the aim of Open Access (OA) – OA publishing, and self-archiving....The [second] means of achieving OA is for the article (often in a prepublication form) to be deposited in a freely accessible archive; these archives may be either subject-based (such as ArXiv in high-energy phyics and related areas – the first such archive to be established, in 1991, or the US National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central), or institution-based – the latter are a more recent development and as yet are relatively thinly populated with content. Until now, publishers have generally been relaxed about permitting (or even helping) authors to self-archive prepublication versions of their work; some have even allowed them to deposit a PDF version of the final published article. However, as the number of archives increases, the systems for cross-searching them become more developed, and research funders begin to insist on self-archiving, some publishers are becoming concerned. Some of our members have found that, where all or most of a journal’s content can be found in an archive, users appear content to use that version rather than the one on the publisher’s website, despite the fact that the latter has undergone peer review and editing, and has additional functionality such as reference linking. Since a recent survey of librarians also shows that usage is an important factor in deciding to cancel a journal, we are worried that self-archiving may result in damage to journals’ viability.

Open Access enthusiasts tend to confuse retention of copyright with the ability to self-archive; however, this is inaccurate and publishers may explicitly permit, limit or even forbid self-archiving whether or not the author has transferred copyright – ALPSP has produced model agreements for both circumstances. Publishers are increasingly introducing some limitations on authors’ ability to self-archive, including a time delay to protect subscription income. However, we are concerned that authors do not always observe these conditions, and archive managers are abdicating any responsibility for removing wrongly posted items.

We would be very concerned at any move which limited or removed publishers’ ability to control the manner and timing of self-archiving, as we believe this could ultimately damage or even destroy the viability of journals. If journals are lost, the valuable functions they perform for the scientific community – not only managing the process of peer review, but also selecting and gathering together in one convenient place a manageable quantity of relevant information for a particular community, as well as developing new features and indeed new journals – will be lost. In addition, those learned society activities (such as conferences, bursaries and research grants, as well as public education) which are partially supported by journal income will also suffer.

The response also has sections on mass digitization initiatives, like the Google Library project; fair use; DRM; orphan works; CC licenses, and other OA-related topics.

Comment. (1) ALPSP is right that OA serves the missions of many of its members. (2) ALPSP is right that when articles are deposited in OA repositories, they attract some readers away from the published versions at publisher web sites, as measured by downloads from the publisher sites. However, there's no evidence to date that decreased publisher downloads translate into decreased subscriptions. Library subscription decisions are orthogonal to user download decisions. (3) The ALPSP's own March 2006 study found that high journal prices far surpass OA archiving as a cause of journal cancellations. (4) ALPSP is right --if I may paraphrase-- that retention of copyright is neither necessary nor sufficient to allow authors to self-archive. It's not necessary because authors don't need the full bundle of rights in order to authorize self-archiving. It's not sufficient in the sense that many journals (for example, Nature and Science) say that they let authors retain copyright but in the fine print insist on exceptions that deprive authors of the right to self-archive. However, retaining copyright simpliciter or without qualification is more than enough to allow authors to self-archive. (5) Funding agencies that encourage or require OA archiving are not amending copyright law, not making funded work uncopyrightable, and not interfering with the freedom of authors to transfer copyright or the freedom of publishers to acquire and hold copyright. (6) The Gowers commission should understand that the rationale for encouraging or requiring OA archiving is to make research literature more accessible, visible, discoverable, and useful. Even if publishers could document harm to themselves, which they have not yet done, funding agencies have a right to lay down conditions making the work they fund benefit more stakeholders rather than fewer. Public funding agencies in particular have a right, and obligation, to put the public interest in access to publicly-funded research ahead the economic interests of a private-sector industry. (7) Funder policies will not undermine peer review. One reason is that journals charging subscription fees are not the only providers of peer review. Another is that the funder policies only apply to articles already published in peer-reviewed journals.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A modest proposal to curb journal proliferation

Chris Reed, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry (University of California, Riverside), offers the following modest proposal on CHMINF-L:

In last week's interesting CHMINF-L discussion on Nature's proliferation of new journals, faculty habits, and the serials market, I saw no mention of an ongoing parallel onslaught by Bentham. In the past month, I have received no less that three invitations to join the editorial boards of new Bentham journals -- "Current this", "Frontiers of that" -- none in areas of my real expertise.

The same old tactics are being used: exploiting a faculty weakness for seeing one's name in print, offering a career advance by having Editorial Board appointments on one's CV at promotion time, flattering authors with invitations to contribute papers in special issues, etc. All this effectively silences faculty from speaking out, or even caring about, the issues librarians understand so well. It is one of the reasons I am advocating that promotion policies at the University of California specify that appointments to the editorial boards of low quality, overpriced journals should count against promotion. The idea may not be so outrageous in five or ten years time.

I have also recommended that the best way to change faculty habits is the pay them. Overpriced journals should be cancelled and some of the saved money given to Departments whose faculty agree not to submit to, referee for, accept editorial board appointments on journals they decide are too exploitive.

Let me be a little provocative here. How far are librarians willing to go on this?

Personally, I'd love to see faculty and librarians form a real partnership on this. (And its not the money driving me).

PS. In case you are wondering, yes, I did hit the delete key on those Bentham invitations.

Budapest 2.0

Richard Feinman has written a press release from the future on how OA might evolve in the next 2.5 years. Excerpt:
December 1, 2008. Budapest. The quiet frozen surface of the river stands as counterpoint to the heated discussions in the Duna (Danube) Hotel where representatives of governments, libraries, universities and major publishing houses are trying to hammer out guidelines for the implementation of a Universal Open Access Protocol (UOAP)....Scheduled for 2009, UOAP would make the contents of all scholarly publications free without subscription. The UOAP operation is to be funded by a consortium of government agencies, private foundations and commercial sources and follows a period of ad hoc funding and substantial confusion in the world of scientific journals, a situation which dates to the event now known in the publishing world as Nature Day of which the conference is the first anniversary.

On Nature Day, December 1, 2007, 100 university librarians (with backing of their respective faculties) handed an ultimatum to Nature publishing, one of the larger publishers of scientific technical journals. This rather strange manifesto proclaimed that the profit that Nature gained from providing journals to university libraries was excessive and rather than pay the price asked by Nature, the librarians offered to pay one fifth of the price for the print version and required that Nature be open access, that is, available on line without subscription. The libraries agreed to support the open access version at a further reduced price for five years even though it would be available to everybody in the world. If Nature did not agree, the libraries threatened to cancel their subscriptions. "It seems strange telling a manufacturer how much profit they can make but really this is what a consumer does every time they choose one of several competing products" said Kuan-Teh Jeang of the NIH and editor of Retrovirology, a journal that has been open access since 2003....In the end, an undisclosed compromise was settled on. Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), was next. "They claimed to be not-for-profit" said Richard Feinman, editor of Nutrition & Metabolism, "but their journal operation was a big money-maker and the funds were used for other activities which, however worthwhile, were not what we intended to pay for when our libraries subscribed to the journal. I told them they should change their name to the American Association for the Advancement of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAAAAS)."

...[A]uthors and editors were quite enthusiastic. "Well, transparency was the key," said Barbara Starfield of Johns Hopkins, editor of International Journal for Equity in Health. "Once the faculty members recognized the burden being placed on the libraries and how unscrupulous the publishers were, in combination with the obvious benefits of wide circulation and controlling your own copyrights, everything fell into place."

Faced with guaranteed income at a lower price or a difficult battle with customers, most publishers instituted the open access movement. Quite remarkably this was done, in some cases, literally, overnight since publishers already had the tools for online publication. It was only necessary to remove the gateway. The pressure was, in fact, great - once battle lines were drawn, authors and reviewers (who are not normally paid by publishers) jumped to side with the libraries. The new contracts provided great savings for the libraries but everyone realized that they had agreed to pay for the world's technical journals, and that a global solution had to be found. In essence, it was recognized that much money flows into publishing and it only had to be redirected. This lead to today's meeting in Budapest.

The meeting today, like Nature Day itself is also the anniversary of the 2001 meeting in Budapest of the Open Society Institute (OSI) which might be said to have initiated the Open Access movement.

Excellent snapshot of OA today

Alma Swan, Open Access - what has been going on? A presentation delivered at the CERN OAI4 workshop, (Geneva, October 20-22, 2005). Self-archived April 22, 2006.
Abstract: New gold journals, alchemy at work on existing journals, hybrids and chimaeras; new repositories, growing repositories, empty repositories; Anglo-Saxon governments in a tizz; funder fudges, funders holding firm; employer moves; gold publishers, green publishers, grey publishers, green publishers going grey; authors - yes, no, don't know; Dutch cream, Scotland the Brave, the QUT-ting edge; Google; Jan Velterop.

A2K conference wiki

The Yale Access to Knowledge conference (New Haven, April 21-23, 2006) now has a wiki with a page on every plenary session and policy panel. (Thanks to Martha Brogan.)

Jamie Love at A2K conference

Andy Carvin blogged some notes on Jamie Love's talk at Yale's Conference on Access to Knowledge (New Haven, April 21-23, 2006). Excerpt:
Why "access to knowledge?" It's a common brand for different movements - blogging, open access, creative commons, free software, etc. Developing countries said this is the one term that resonated with them. And we felt that it represented enough of what all these groups were working on that it was a good catch-all phrase for the collection of movements. Like Richard Stallman says, language is important. How can anyone argue against "access to knowledge?" That's a good thing, right?

Stop, resist or modify the setting of bad norms. Change, regulate and resist bad business practices. Create new modes of production of knowledge goods, both commercial and noncommercial. Create new global frameworks and norms that promote access to knowledge.

Some important ideas: [1] Challenge prices that harm access. Prices don't have to be zero, as long as people can afford them. [2] Challenge poorly conceived or inferior models for intellectual property reform. Why shouldn't there be innovations? Don't tell me you can't improve things like the patent rules. [3] Support new business models and incentives that do not enclose knowledge. [4] Pay attention to livelihoods. It's a real problem for those of us who aren't tenured. You have to send a signal that it's not about destroying someone's livelihood, but trying to make it work equitably for all of us....