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Philipp Mayr, Constructing experimental indicators for Open Access documents. A preprint forthcoming in the Research Evaluation special issue on 'Web indicators for Innovation Systems', 14, (2006).
Abstract: The ongoing paradigm change in the scholarly publication system (‘science is turning to e-science’) makes it necessary to construct alternative evaluation criteria/metrics which appropriately take into account the unique characteristics of electronic publications and other research output in digital formats. Today, major parts of scholarly Open Access (OA) publications and the self-archiving area are not well covered in the traditional citation and indexing databases. The growing share and importance of freely accessible research output demands new approaches/metrics for measuring and for evaluating of these new types of scientific publications. In this paper we propose a simple quantitative method which establishes indicators by measuring the access/download pattern of OA documents and other web entities of a single web server. The experimental indicators (search engine, backlink and direct access indicator) are constructed based on standard local web usage data. This new type of web-based indicator is developed to model the specific demand for better study/evaluation of the accessibility, visibility and interlinking of open accessible documents. We conclude that e-science will need new stable e-indicators.
Update. This article is also self-archived at E-LIS.
Emma McCulloch, Taking Stock of Open Access: Progress and Issues, forthcoming from Library Review, 55, 6 (2006). Self-archived May 12, 2006.
Abstract: Purpose – Aims to provide a broad overview of some of the issues emerging from the growth in Open Access publishing, with specific reference to the use of repositories and Open Access journals.
Dorothea Salo, How are we doing? Caveat Lector, May 12, 2006. Excerpt:
Comment. Like Dorothea's Wednesday post on gatekeeping, this one was hard to excerpt; it's all so good. My reading agrees with hers. Any candid and comprehensive look at the landscape gives OA proponents grounds for hope. We have a large number of small successes, a small number of large successes, good prospects for more, good momentum, good technology, good policy arguments, good answers to the objections, and good people working hard worldwide to build the OA infrastructure. OA is far from the default today for scholarly communication, but it will be.
Alex Lankester, The Value of Publishers, Library Connect Newsletter, April 2006 (scroll to p. 4). (Thanks to William Walsh.) Lankester is a Global Marketing Manager for Elsevier. Excerpt:
At a meeting of the British Computer Society Electronic Publishing Specialist Group, the motivation for authors to get published and be seen in particular journals was described [by Stevan Harnad] as being primarily to “reach the eyes of their colleagues.” Here the publisher has a role to play not just in ensuring a fast and efficient publication process and maintaining a journal’s reputation but also in dissemination, ensuring findings are rapidly accessible to the research community....
Comment. I've always acknowledged that publishers add value, and even praised Elsevier (at some cost among my colleagues) for its green policy and experiment in free online access. But some of Lankester's claims are clear and ironic exaggerations. It's ironic that Elsevier would boast about making research "rapidly accessible" in "the most immediate way" and "increasing access" to it when, by these measures, open access is superior to toll access. If Lankester meant that, and intended to boast about Elsevier's green policy, she forgot to mention it. It's ironic that she would invoke Stevan Harnad's criterion for meeting author needs and then fail to show that Elsevier fulfills it as well as the OA that Harnad clearly had in mind. It's ironic to boast about ScienceDirect when evidence shows that customer satisfaction with it has been declining for years. It's ironic to boast that Elsevier helps make content "forever accessible" when long-term preservation requires making copies to migrate content to new formats and media to keep it readable as technology changes --something permitted by OA but blocked by the Elsevier licensing agreement. Finally, it's ironic that Elsevier would boast about being "guardians of content" when researchers are looking for ways to remove the guardians of content.
(BTW and much appreciated, Elsevier's Library Connect Newsletter, where this article appeared, is OA.)
India's National Institute of Technology in Rourkela has adopted an OA mandate. From the summary in ROARMAP:
All research papers by faculty and students, MTech (Research) and Ph. D. thesis is to be self-archived in Dspace@nitr or it should be submitted to the librarian for archiving, so that others interested may benefit by referring to these documents. The Administration may use this archive for assessment of faculty performance when needed.
PS: Kudos to all at NIT who brought this about. NIT's is the sixth worldwide university-level OA mandate and the first from India. For the other five, see the institutions with asterisks by their names in ROARMAP.
The US Government National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) has released a new report, Mass Digitization: Implications for Information Policy, May 9, 2006. The report is based on the meeting at the University of Michigan, Scholarship and Libraries in Transition: A Dialogue about the Impacts of Mass Digitization Projects (Ann Arbor, March 10-11, 2006). From the executive summary:
7. What business models are needed in the era of mass digitization? How will the open access movement affect the economics of digitization? The business model for access to valuable information that has evolved is not “pay-per-view”—what has evolved instead is either free or advertiser-supported information. This model appears to be continuing with the Google and other mass digitization projects. Open access is another model promoted by some, but others question the sustainability of that model.
The May issue of D-Lib Magazine is now online. Here are the OA-related articles.
David Grimm, A Cure for the Common Trial, Science Magazine, May 12, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
Ordinarily, a study with negative results...wouldn’t see the light of day in a medical journal --at least not a top-tier one. But the Public Library of Science (PLoS) aims to be different. It’s using the LOTIS study [showing that certain interventions do not slow the onset of age-related disabilities] to launch its new journal, PLoS Clinical Trials, which begins publishing on 19 May. The journal’s credo is simple: Disappointing results can still be good news. Its editors have explicitly stated that all clinical trials submitted --regardless of outcome or significance-- will be published, as long as they are methodologically sound. The policy takes aim at a pervasive problem in the clinical trials literature: a heavy skew toward studies with positive outcomes. Some say there’s a “black hole” where studies with negative or ambiguous outcomes should be. This bias can cost lives....
Jocelyn Kaiser, Bill Would Require Free Public Access to Research Papers, Science Magazine, May 12, 2006. Excerpt:
A proposal to require federally funded scientists to make their accepted papers freely available online within 6 months of publication has reignited a bruising battle over scientific publishing. The bill [FRPAA], introduced last week by senators John Cornyn (R–TX) and Joseph Lieberman (D–CT), would make mandatory a voluntary National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy and extend it to every major federal research agency, from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to the Department of Defense. Supporters argue that so-called public access should extend beyond biomedical research. “The ramifications for the acceleration of science are the same,” says Heather Joseph, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, which represents libraries. Many publishers disagree, saying that there is no evidence of an unmet public demand for nonbiomedical papers. They warn that extending NIH’s policy to other disciplines could seriously harm societies that rely on journal subscription and advertising revenues to run their organizations....
Comments. A few quick responses.
ProteinCenter Open Access is a new OA database from Proxeon Biosystems. From the site:
The single protein lookup in ProteinCenter Open Access is a small subset of the full functionality provided by the commercial version of ProteinCenter, which...[enables] comparison of data sets with thousands of proteins in minutes, with advanced clustering and filtering to quickly reach biological conclusions....ProteinCenter Open Access is a free service intended for interactive use - scripting is therefore not allowed.
From today's press release:
Key Perspectives, Evaluation of the JISC’s Open Access Funding Initiative Spring 2006, JISC, undated but apparently released today. This report assesses JISC's three-year program (now in its third year) to subsidize the article processing fees charged by certain by OA journals.
The executive summary breaks the results into Publishers' views, Authors' views, and the future. From the publishers' views:
From the authors' views:
From the section on the future:
Update. See JISC's press release on the report, May 16, 2006. Excerpt:
JISC’s open access funding initiative - which provided £384,500 over three years to publishers to explore open access models of publishing for their journals - has given “valuable impetus” to thinking around open access and “has had the effect of raising awareness among the UK author community,” says a report published today. Provided as “seed money” to publishers to experiment with alternative publishing models, the funding has, says the report, provided publishers with “a timely opportunity to develop and experiment” with open access publishing, with all participating publishers remaining committed to their open access projects after funding has ceased.
The Publishing Research Consortium (PRC) released two documents today arguing that OA is a low priority for surveyed scientists in the fields of immunology and microbiology
(1) Ian Rowlands and Rene Olivieri, Journals and Scientific Productivity: A case study in immunology and microbiology Publishing Research Consortium, May 12, 2006. From the executive summary:
 The biggest single productivity issue facing biomedical researchers is funding: not just a lack of adequate resources but an increasingly short-term, `stop-go’ funding culture that makes forward planning and staff retention very difficult (pp. 10-12).  Other major issues impacting upon their productivity are problems in recruiting suitably qualified research staff, a lack of seed corn funding to help get risky new ideas off the ground, a lack of autonomy in terms of the research that they would like to do but which does not fit in with funders’ priorities, and too much time spent in filling forms and other non-productive bureaucratic tasks (pp. 10-12).  In comparison, researchers do not consider that problems in accessing the journal literature are a significant barrier to their work: this aspect is ranked in 12th place (of 16) (pp. 11-12).... Immunologists and microbiologists are generally satisfied with their level of access to the journals system and a large majority, 83.7% agree that major improvements in journal accessibility have been made over the past five years (pp. 6-7).  Those researchers who voice dissatisfaction with the journals system are more likely to be involved in interdisciplinary work and to be struggling with research funding and time pressures. They are also much more likely to be found in smaller European countries, suggesting perhaps that there are some supply-side issues that need to be tackled (p.15).... Our survey work confirms earlier studies: desktop access to high quality published information results in significant time savings for researchers and they feel that this has helped them to be more effective knowledge workers (p.10).  The linkages between information consumption (reading) and information production are barely examined in the scientific literature. This is a serious gap in our knowledge, especially in the context of the current debate about new publishing models in the scholarly arena.  The key policy implication of this research is that Europe could improve its biomedical research performance by listening more carefully to its scientists. There is little evidence here, for example, that greater moves towards reader open access will make any significant difference. The really important issues are much more mundane and could be tackled relatively inexpensively.
(2) Overcoming the Barriers: A case study in immunology and microbiology. This appears to be a longer report, but I can only bring up the splash page. The link to the full text isn't working for me right now.
Also see the PRC press release. Excerpt:
The single most important issue obstructing the productivity of biomedical scientists today is the culture of research funding. This finding challenges the belief of some that the lack of "open access" to journal content is a major barrier to scientific productivity....[The result is based on a] survey of 883 biomedical scientists – in Europe and North America - commissioned by the Publishing Research Consortium....Conversely, the study found that 90% of respondents reported access to publishers' online content had increased their productivity by saving them significant time in locating research articles and enabling them to become more effective researchers. "This study reinforces the critical role that publishing plays in advancing research and scholarship," says René Olivieri, CEO, Blackwell Publishing [and co-author of one of the documents]. "Major improvements in journal accessibility over the last few years have not only improved research productivity but they have also helped to maximize return on investment in scientific research."
Comment. I'll be able to comment better after I can read the long report. But it looks like one of the chief results is that easy online access to the literature helps research productivity ("90% of respondents reported access to publishers' online content had increased their productivity"). The PRC clearly wants to spin this in favor of conventional priced access. But it can be spun both ways. Where priced online access is adequate or improving, the productivity benefits can be used as an argument for priced online access. But where priced online access is inadequate, decreasing, or unsustainable, the lost productivity can be used as an argument for OA. Even where priced access is adequate, it's not hard to argue that OA would be superior (because it supports search engine indexing, mash-ups, text-mining, and other forms of processing by machines that need DRM-free access), that OA and TA can coexist through self-archiving, and that paying skyrocketing subscription fees is a very inefficient way to procure easy online access to peer-reviewed research literature. Finally, of course, the fact that funding problems rank ahead of access problems is no argument that access problems shouldn't be solved.
Update. Gunther Eysenbach makes a good point:
Now, Olivieri is CEO of Blackwell. How come he is "author" on a study "carried out by independent researchers"? Either the study was really "independent" meaning that Olivieri was not involved in the study, in which case he should NOT be listed as author, or he was involved, in which case authorship is deserved, but the study can't be called "independent".
Jordan J. Ballor, The Shifting Paradigm of Scholarly Publishing, PowerBlog, May 12, 2006. Ballor has blogged some of the introduction to his talk (“The Digital Ad Fontes! Scholarly Research Trends in the Humanities”) at the Drexel University Libraries Scholarly Communications Symposium (Philadelphia, April 28, 2006). Excerpt:
PS: For more on the differences between government funding for the sciences and government funding for the humanities, and how it affects OA, see my January 2004 article, Promoting Open Access in the Humanities.
Steve Mathieson, A sidestep in the right direction, The Guardian, May 11, 2006. Excerpt:
Is it only me who finds it faintly ridiculous that a public sector organisation is endorsing a public movement to create open-source maps for the public’s use when there’s already a public sector organisation that creates very good maps - but which neither the other public sector organisation or the public wants to tangle with?
Comment. This is fascinating. A taxpayer-supported agency of the UK government collects high-quality map data, which it sells to the public rather than giving away. OA activists are volunteering their labor and time to make high-quality maps of their own, and giving them away, in order to compete with the publicly-funded, government-sold maps. It should shame the UK government that this is even happening. But the activists are thinking that economic pressure is more powerful than shame, and maybe it is. Will it free up publicly-funded mapping data in the UK? Stay tuned.
The Public Knowledge Project at the University of British Columbia has two OA-related announcements.
Kristin R. Eschenfelder and Ian Benton, An Evaluation of Access and Use Rights for Licensed Scholarly Digital Resources, a presentation to be given at JCDL 2006 (Chapel Hill, June 11-15, 2006). Self-archived May 11, 2006.
Abstract: This research in progress investigates how technological protection measures shape how authorized users access and make use of digital collections of licensed scholarly resources. It seeks to ascertain the range and variation in access and rights restrictions, and whether observed restrictions were described in acceptable use statements and resource licenses.
On May 9, the Academic Senate of Humbolt University Berlin adopted an Open Access Declaration (in German). Excerpt from the shorter, English summary on ROARMAP:
Humboldt-University recommends its scientists and researchers to publish their articles in Open Access Journals and to publish their monographs on Open Access platform. Postprint versions of already published articles should be deposited on the Document and Publication Repository of Humboldt-University. The edoc server will also host preprint versions.... Humboldt-University encourages emphatically all scientists to insist on keeping the copyrights during the conclusion of author contracts.
PS: Kudos to all involved at Humboldt. Universities everywhere should consider adopting a similar policy. Look at the other OA policies registered at ROARMAP for precedents and ideas.
Autism Speaks (formerly the National Alliance for Autism Research) has joined the Alliance for Taxpayer Access.
PS: The ATA fights for open access to publicly-funded research in the U.S., and is now fighting for a mandate at the NIH, the CURES Act, and the FRPAA. If you work for or with a U.S.-based non-profit, urge it join the ATA.
If you or your organization plans to comment on the EC report and its OA recommendations before the June 1 deadline, consider taking the survey the EC has launched on SINAPSE (the EC's communication tool for science policy). From the invitation:
The objective of this survey is to gather comments on the recent study financed by the EC. Members are invited to give their opinion on the recommendations as well as their proposal/analysis on the topic they address. For each recommendation, you're invited to indicate, on a scale, the degree of pertinence, how difficult it is to implement, the degree of priority, whether there is a role for public authorities. Any other information or reactions on "scientific publications" issues are also welcomed. The results of this consultation will provide an invaluable input to the design of the EC policy in the field.
The presentations from the 1st European Conference on Scientific Publishing in Biomedicine and Medicine (Lund, April 21-22, 2006) are now online. (Thanks to Yvonne Hultman Ozek.) Many focus on OA.
Ted Agres, Publishers, societies oppose 'public access' bill, The Scientist, May 11, 2006. Excerpt:
Comments. Three quick responses.
South African journals told to increase international profile, Research Research, May 11, 2006. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
The Academy of Science of South Africa has urged the country’s scientific journals to create open-access internet editions in a bid to significantly increase their visibility worldwide, reports SciDev.Net. The academy called for action this week after it published a report showing that in the last 14 years, one third of South African journals have not had a single paper quoted in their international counterparts....
PS: I posted some comments on the academy recommendations on Tuesday.
Lila Guterman, NIH Has Little to Celebrate on 1st Anniversary of Its Open-Access Policy, but Changes May Be on Way, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 11, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
Early Modern E-Prints is a new directory of OA scholarship on the early modern era. It's not a repository, but it aims to link to OA editions of all the relevant texts it can find. From the site:
The traditional products of academic research - peer-reviewed journal articlels, chapters from books, works in progress, seminar and conference papers, theses and dissertations - are increasingly being made available online in open access journals and repositories and publishers' own websites. But at present humanities disciplines are lagging behind the sciences in the creation of subject-based repositories; works on historical subjects are scattered across the web and often difficult to locate. This page is intended to facilitate access to full-text academic publications and postgraduate theses on early modern topics.
From an accompanying blog post by Sharon Howard, the force behind the new directory:
Early Modern E-prints is now up and running. At the moment it’s very small, but I have plenty more entries to add over the coming months. You can help out if you know of examples of the following, on any early modern (ie, c.1500-1800) topic:  Research papers and publications archived at academics’ personal webpages, which can be particularly hard to track down.  Articles, chapters, papers and so on from sources (journals, books, e-seminars, etc) that aren’t specifically devoted to early modern history (this may include graduate student journals, as long as they’re peer-reviewed).  Free samples (book chapters, issues of journals) from publishers’ websites.  Postgraduate theses and dissertations....
Nate Anderson, Should government-funded research be free? Ars Technica, May 10, 2006. Excerpt:
Virginia Barbour, Paul Chinnock, Barbara Cohen, and Gavin Yamey, The impact of open access upon public health, Bulletin of the World Health Organization, May 2006. All four authors work for the Public Library of Science. Excerpt:
Dorothea Salo, Designated Gatekeepers? Caveat Lector, May 10, 2006. Excerpt:
Richard Poynder, Open Access: Science in which no one is left behind, Open and Shut, May 10, 2006. This is Part II of Richard's interview with Subbiah Arunachalam. Part I came out on May 5. Excerpt:
Richard Wray, US senators propose to make scientific research freely available, The Guardian, May 11, 2006. Excerpt:
American legislators have proposed that scientific research paid for by US taxpayers should be freely available online to everyone. Analysts described the move as a "potential banana skin" for established scientific publishers such as Reed Elsevier, Springer and Informa. The proposed new law comes after an independent report for the European commission last month recommended that research funded by European taxpayers should also be available free on the web. In the UK, meanwhile, public funders of research are still considering whether to recommend so-called "open access" to research, despite support for the idea from a committee of MPs. Charitable funders such as the Wellcome Trust have already come out in favour.
Barbara Fister, Pubishers Speak Up, ACRLog, May 10, 2006. Excerpt:
I always thought the argument that ordinary folks will benefit by being able to read research results a little dubious; it’s not that they will benefit by reading them, because for the most part they won’t, but that they will benefit because scientists will have greater access to them. And that public good is why we fund their research in the first place.
John Cox, Access to Scholarly Literature: Publishing for an Extended Readership, The Serials Librarian, 50, 1/2 (2006). Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:
Access to scholarship and research has become controversial. It is described in apocalyptic terms as 'open'-or good and moral, or 'toll-gated'-with the life-blood of the system ebbing away. The real world is more complex. Publishing is not a homogenous activity, because it reflects the varied needs of scholars. This paper will be based on evidence from surveys and from published inquiries. It will pose, and attempt to answer, some questions about the future of publishing scholarly information, including open access, in the context of what publishers are actually doing. It will describe the challenge that faces publishers and librarians in meeting both scholarly and societal needs.
Comment. I don't have access and haven't read the full article. But from the abstract, it looks like Cox is oversimplifying the debate by positioning all OA advocates as oversimplifiers. But oversimplification occurs in every quarter. (Is Cox forgetting that publishers have described OA "in apocalyptic terms" as communist and the death of peer review?) No surprise, Sturgeon's law applies here too.
I don't know any OA advocate who has said that publishing is a homogenous activity. My view on this is apparently very close to Cox's:
Publishers are not monolithic. Some already provide full OA, some provide hybrid models, and some are considering experiments with it. Among those not providing OA, some are opposed and some are merely unpersuaded. Among the unpersuaded, some provide more free online content than others. OA gains nothing and loses potential allies by blurring these distinctions.
Today the Wellcome Trust officially launched its Medical Journals Backfiles Digitisation Project, which it first announced in June 2004. JISC, one of the project partners, describes the project in a press release issued today. Excerpt:
soon as they are digitised. PubMed citations are added to that database when the archive is complete.
For more details, see the project FAQ.
Michael Lightner, Message from the IEEE President, IEEE communications magazine, April 2006. (Thanks to Ahmed Hindawi.) Excerpt:
Finally, there is the growing issue of open access. A better way to frame this, in my opinion, is an interest in different business models for publications. What most people consider open access is an author pay model in which the cost of publication is absorbed by the author and the publishing organization, and the papers are free to the reader. IEEE does not have this model, although there are some experiments underway. In my opinion our challenge is to develop greater value for our aggregated IP. As a researcher I am interested in exploring questions/issues. Tools that aid that exploration, such as cognitive search tools, or the ability to return specific data from a search and not just papers are what we need to develop. These will add value to our collected IP far beyond the value of single papers. This is one way in which we can address the public interest of open access with the need to derive revenue from our IP products. My bottom line is that cost should never be a barrier to publishing in the IEEE.
Comment. I'm glad to hear about the OA experiments at IEEE and look forward to more detail. I just want to point out that providing sophisticated new search tools while charging for access to the content does not "address the public interest of open access". It simply decides against open access. Moreover, while it's certainly important that "cost should never be a barrier to publishing in the IEEE", this position is one-sided. Most researchers would argue that it's roughly as important that cost should never be a barrier to reading the research published by the IEEE. The real questions are two: (1) if we must choose, which value do we rank higher, and (2) do we have to choose? More than a thousand peer-reviewed journals offer no-fee access to readers and no-fee access to authors.
Matthew Cockerill, Business models in open access publishing, in Neil Jacobs (ed.), Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, Chandos Publishing, forthcoming 2006.
Abstract: Matthew Cockerill, in this chapter, draws a parallel between open access and open government, noting that only by making information freely available can we hope to build the kinds of systems and services that are already useful, and that will be essential in the future.
Mike Madison, Open Access for Publicly-Funded Science, Madisonian.net, May 9, 2006. Excerpt:
Mike [Carroll] takes down the elitist argument that “the people” can’t be trusted with science. He’s absolutely right, but the elitism that he hears goes more deeply than he describes in that post. The “science for scientists” mantra that holds back open access isn’t just about protecting the public from itself. It’s also about protecting the privileges of science. Open access won’t simply help scientists do better research; in its most idealistic (though not unrealistic) form, open access will create a better informed public — that is, a public that not only hears research scientists tell them what’s authoritative but also teaches itself about science. Is the United States serious about scientific literacy and science education? If so (and that’s a big “if”), then it should throw open the doors to archives of material stocked with publicly-funded research, and let the educational process begin in earnest.
The folks behind Google Book Search have now launched a blog. (Thanks to Barry Schwartz.)
Comment. If you're a regular reader of my blog and newsletter, you know that I admire both the opt-in and the opt-out halves of Google Book Search. But when I heard about this blog, my first thought was not: good, now I'll get more news about this admirable service. Instead it was: good, now Google has more reason to give Blogger some serious resources and improve the service. Blogger had its rough spots but compared pretty well to the competition before Google acquired it in February 2003. But since then, it's shown almost no sign of having a wealthy parent who cares about it. It has frequent unexplained downtime and has fallen far behind the competition.
T. Scott Plutchak, Open Computation, T. Scott, May 9, 2006. Excerpt:
Comment. Just a quick point on the final sentence. If T. Scott is saying that the importance of machine processing diminishes the importance of OA, then he may be overlooking one of the key points from Lynch's article: "Traditional open access is, in my view, a probable (but not certain) prerequisite for the emergence of fully developed large-scale computational approaches to the scholarly literature." But if he's saying that OA is important not just for direct human reading but even more for machine processing and indirect human reading, then I fully agree. Here's how I put this point in September 2002:
As we move further into an era in which serious research is mediated by sophisticated software, commercial publishers will have to put their works into the public Internet in order to make them visible to serious researchers. In this sense, the true promise of [open access] is not that scientific and scholarly texts will be free and online for reading, copying, printing, and so on, but that they will be available as free online data for software that acts as the antennae, prosthetic eyeballs, research assistants, and personal librarians of all serious researchers.
Rufus Pollock, The Four Principles of (Open) Knowledge Development, Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, May 9, 2006. Excerpt:
Open knowledge means porting much more of the open source stack than just the idea of open licensing. It is about porting many of the processes and tools that attach to the open development process — the process enabled by the use of an open approach to knowledge production and distribution....Open knowledge allows (and requires for its success) a development process that is:  incremental,  decentralized (and asynchronous),  collaborative,  componentized (and ‘packagized’)....
Jeffrey Goldfarb, Publishers mobilize against US research proposal, Reuters, May 9, 2006. Excerpt:
Alf Eaton, A Plan for Publishing Journal Articles, HubLog, May 6, 2006. Excerpt:
Here's some of the reasoning behind that process... Firstly, the final format for the article has to be NLM's Journal Publishing XML, because it's a very capable standard that can be transformed into all the required output formats mentioned above. The second requirement is that people are able to author articles in whatever application/document format they want. So, the article has to get from Word, OpenDocument, DocBook, MultiMarkdown, LaTeX, etc into the NLM DTD and --at the moment-- the way to do that seems to be via XHTML, which all those tools can produce. Ideally, there would be a tool that could process all those formats and produce NLM-formatted XML, but that seems unlikely in the near future. More likely is that all those tools will be able to produce OpenDocument files, which might be better, but I'd say that XHTML, with constrained use of microformats --like markup, can retain just as much of the semantics of the original document as an OpenDocument file, if not more so.
PS: This technical detail is not OA-related unless it points to a way to reduce costs without reducing quality, in which case it suggests a solution for OA journals.
The British Library - "The world's knowledge" DRM'd and for a price, a long, unsigned blog posting to Groklaw, May 7, 2006. (Thanks to Digital Rights Network.) Excerpt:
The Association of American Publishers issued a press release yesterday opposing FRPAA (the Cornyn-Lieberman bill). I'm pleased to reprint it in full so that I can answer it in full.
Professional and scholarly publishers firmly oppose S.2695, the "Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006" introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT). The proposed legislation would require the majority of recipients of U.S. federal research agency funds to make their findings free within six months of publication. Publishers argue that the legislation, if passed, will seriously jeopardize the integrity of the scientific publishing process, and is a duplicative effort that places an unwarranted burden on research investigators.
Comments. Let's look at the major claims here one at a time.
The Association of Southeastern Research Libraries has joined the Alliance for Taxpayer Access.
PS: Because the ATA is a leader in gathering support for the FRPAA (Cornyn-Lieberman bill), this is good time for US-based non-profits who aren't already members to consider joining. If you work at a US university, library, or public-interest advocacy group, encourage your organization to take this step. Membership is free of charge. The ATA doesn't need your money as much as your willingness to let it act in your name when it talks to Washington policy-makers about open access.
Comments on the plan by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to develop an OA policy for CIHR-funded research are due on May 15. Either send free-form comments or fill out the CIHR survey.
Heather Morrison has blogged her survey answers. If you're planning to send comments (and please do, especially if you're Canadian), Heather's comments may help you compose your own.
Mike Carroll, The Insider's Argument against Open Access, Carrollogos, May 9, 2006. Excerpt:
Laura Smith, Digital Universe gets UK uni stars, Information World Review, May 9, 2006. Excerpt:
Neil Canavan, Open Source Bioinformatics, Genomics and Proteomics, undated but apparently May 9, 2006. Excerpt:
"As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously." – Benjamin Franklin
Christina Scott, Publish online, South African journals told, SciDev.Net, May 9, 2006. Excerpt:
Here's the key OA recommendation from the report:
Recommendation No 6: that the Department of Science and Technology takes responsibility for ensuring that Open Access initiatives are promoted to enhance the visibility of all South African research articles and to make them accessible to the entire international research community. Specifically:
Comment. Kudos to the South African Science Academy for this bold proposal. I hope the South African government will take it up quickly. (1) The Academy is exactly right that OA to the nation's research output will significantly increase its visibility and impact. (2) The green part of the recommendation stops short of an OA mandate for publicly-funded research. Why? The report strongly recommends creating a national network of OA repositories, and then harvesting them, but it neglects the key step of ensuring that researchers deposit their work in them. South Africa should learn from the NIH, which has proved that making deposit discretionary, even if strongly encouraged, leads to a dismally low compliance rate. (3) The gold part of the recommendation is unique as far as I know. I like the way it proposes to make the subsidy to OA journals direct, unlike the current taxpayer subsidies to subscription journals, which are so well hidden that publishers like to deny them and pretend that government subsidies for OA "tilt the playing field" and represent unlawful interference with the "market". I like the way it tries to mitigate the size of the article processing fees, though I'd like to hear more about that plan. I like the way it avoids the problem of some naive recommendations that would require publicly-funded research to be published in OA journals.
Stevan Harnad, Strengthening the US Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), Open Access Archivangelism, May 8, 2006. Excerpt:
As presently drafted, the wording of the the timely and extremely welcome US Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) stands to create needless problems for itself that could even make it fail under the already-gathering opposition from the publisher lobby. Yet the FRPAA's flaws are ever so easily correctable:
Comment. (1) I agree with Stevan that the primary beneficiaries of FRPAA, and of every similar OA policy, are researchers, and that the benefits for lay readers are important but secondary. I've said so whenever the question has come up --for the NIH policy, the draft RCUK policy, the CURES Act, and now the FRPAA. (2) I also agree with Stevan that casting lay readers as the primary beneficiaries needlessly opens these policies to publisher objections. (3) However, I would distinguish the language of the sponsoring Senators from the language of the bill itself. The Senators may put researchers and lay readers on a par but there's nothing in the substantive provisions of the bill to support or require that emphasis. The problem is not with the bill but with some ways of pitching the bill. (4) I'm also more inclined than Stevan to be lenient with this way of pitching the bill, at least for the sponsoring Senators. The bill really will make publicly-funded research accessible to the taxpayers who paid for it, whether they are professional researchers or lay readers, and this really will benefit lay readers, whether these benefits are primary or secondary. It's natural, even irresistible, for an elected legislator introducing a new bill to point to every benefit for every constituent. If we had to choose, I'd rather see sponsors of good OA legislation be re-elected than to fine-tune their rhetoric in order to disarm every publisher objection. However, we don't have to choose. There are ways to point out the benefits for lay readers, and still put the accent on the benefits for researchers. (5) The FRPAA, like the NIH policy before it, uses the term "public access". In opposing the NIH policy, many publishers mistakenly assumed that the goal of public access was the goal of access for lay readers, and some are already making the same assmption about the FRPAA. We OA advocates shouldn't make the same mistake. "Public" doesn't mean "lay public" any more than it means "professional public". It means everyone.
Update. Stevan has posted a supportive response to my comment on several lists.
Daniel Cornwall, Open Access: It's Not Just PubMed, Free Government Information, May 8, 2006. Excerpt:
Henk Ellerman, Key concepts for the Digital Library? In Between, May 8, 2006. Excerpt:
The digital library should strive towards an openly accessible, modifiable knowledge base where each object is identified, where changes to objects are rigidly described, and upon which an extensible set of similarity operators can be defined.
Six major US library organizations have endorsed the FRPAA. From their press release (May 2, 2006):
A coalition of national library associations praised the introduction of the "Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006." The legislation, introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) would require federal agencies with extramural research portfolios over $100 million to make the electronic versions of peer-reviewed articles publicly available via the Internet within 6 months of publication.
The six library groups are the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), American Library Association (ALA), Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Medical Library Association (MLA), and the Special Libraries Association (SLA)
Peter Van Garderen, Web 2.0 and Archival Institutions, Archivemati.ca, May 8th, 2006. Excerpt:
Mark Chillingworth, US legislators table tough OA bill, Information World Review, May 9, 2006. Excerpt:
Comment. (1) A detail on the Cornyn-Lieberman bill: It does not require federal grantees to submit their work to peer-reviewed journals, merely to provide OA to the peer-reviewed manuscripts that they do submit and that are accepted. (2) On British and American English: in the US, we say that a bill is "tabled" when the legislature halts or suspends active deliberation on it. It appears that the word has the opposite meaning in Britain, which I didn't know before. The Cornyn-Lieberman bill has been tabled in the British sense, not the American sense. (3) On the EC report: It's only a report today, but its recommendation A1 is exactly right and, if fleshed out into a policy, the policy would closely resemble the Cornyn-Lieberman bill.
Tracey Caldwell, EC report calls for more OA content, Information World Review, May 9, 2006. Excerpt:
PS: I'd only add here, as I did in the interview, that the report's primary recommendation, A1, would mandate OA archiving for publicly-funded research. That's exactly what's needed. If the report intended A1 (on OA) to take priority over A5 (on interoperability), then it has its priorities right.
Andy Carvin, Scientific Publishers Leery of Cornyn-Lieberman Open Access Legislation, Digital Divide Network, May 8, 2006. Excerpt:
Last week, US Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut) proposed the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (PDF), a groundbreaking bill that will shake the foundations of scientific research publishing. The bill proposes that scientific articles based on research funded by the federal government must be made freely available to the public over the Internet within six months of publishing. If enacted into law, the bill would force scientific publishers to release the full text of articles that would otherwise be accessible to libraries and professionals who pay hefty fees for access....
Comment. Just one correction. Andy says, "[T]he bill would force scientific publishers to release the full text of articles that would otherwise be accessible to libraries and professionals who pay hefty fees for access." Not true. The bill applies to the peer-reviewed version of the author's manuscript, not to the published version, which may include extensive copy editing and mark-up. The bill's mandate applies to grantees or authors, not to publishers. Publishers are not forced to release anything, merely to coexist with free copies of different versions of a subset of the articles they publish.
This may seem like a fine point, but it has two important consequences. First, it's another reason to think that the policy will not, in fact, harm journal subscriptions. Researchers will still want access to the published versions and therefore libraries will still feel demand to subscribe. Second, it shows that the policy does not regulate publishers but only grantees, with whom the funding agencies have a contractual relationship. The FRPAA is too new for many publishers to have weighed in on yet. But in the debate over the NIH policy (different in many ways but similar in this respect), many publishers inaccurately claimed that it was an attempt to regulate publishing.
Bill Would Mandate Access to More Federally Funded Research, Library Journal, May 9, 2006. A short, unsigned news story.
A coalition of library groups has applauded the introduction of the "Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006," introduced May 2 by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT). If passed, the bill would require federal agencies with "extramural research portfolios over $100 million" to make the electronic versions of peer-reviewed articles publicly available via the Internet within six months of publication. The bill would significantly expand the weakened and ineffective policy implemented by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) last year that merely requested NIH-funded researchers deposit their papers within a year after publication.
The TOC of the Spring issue of The Grey Journal is now online. The theme of the issue is Grey Matters for OAI. However, to judge from their titles, the six articles in the issue are more about OA than OAI. None is free online, at least so far.
Robin Peek, The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006, Information Today Newsbreaks, May 8, 2006. Excerpt:
One of the greatest events in the history of Open Access may have just happened. On May 2, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced the bipartisan Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (FRPAA) (S.2695). The legislation is co-sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. If passed, the policy would require that agencies with research budgets of more than $100 million enact policy to ensure that articles generated through research funded by that agency are made available online within 6 months of publication. “Each year, our federal government invests more than $55 billion on basic and applied research....” noted Cornyn in a speech introducing the bill to the Senate. The bulk of this money is spent by approximately 10 agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation, NASA, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Agriculture. These agencies use the money to fund research that is usually conducted by outside researchers working for universities, healthcare systems, and other groups....According to Lieberman, “Taxpayer-funded research should be accessible to taxpayers. Our bill will give researchers, medical professionals and patients in Connecticut and throughout the nation access to scientific discoveries and advancements that can help bring new treatments and cures to the public.”...“Making this information available to the public will lead to faster discoveries, innovations, and cures,” Cornyn said. “This bill will give the American taxpayer a greater return on its research investment.”
Sara Ivry, Some Publishers of Scholarly Journals Dislike Bill to Require Online Access to Articles, New York Times, May 8, 2006. Excerpt:
Scholarly publishing has never been a big business. But it could take a financial hit if a proposed federal law is enacted, opening taxpayer-financed research to the public, according to some critics in academic institutions. The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006, proposed last week by Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, and John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, would require 11 government agencies to publish online any articles that contained research financed with federal grants. If enacted, the measure would require that the articles be accessible online without charge within six months of their initial publication in a scholarly journal. "Not everybody has a library next door. I don't mean to be flippant about it, but this gives access to anybody," said Donald Stewart, a spokesman for Senator Cornyn. "The genesis of this was his interest in open government and finding ways to reform our Freedom of Information laws and taxpayer access to federally funded work."
Comment. Am I getting jaded, or will NYTimes readers --scientists and non-scientists alike-- see the pettiness of the publisher objections when juxtaposed with the benefits and urgency of public access to publicly-funded research? Should we really reduce the effectiveness of the enormous US public investment in research in order to help journals measure traffic and charge for ads? Should we really reduce access for scientists in order to paternalize non-scientists who may not understand the literature or care to read it? Let's get serious. It's not about journal advertising or journal subscriptions, and it's only secondarily about lay readers. It's about $55 billion/year in research, making it available to all the researchers who can apply or build on it, and making it as useful as it can possibly be. --And BTW, there are ways to give publishers the traffic data they want without derailing OA, and there are good reasons to think that FRPAA will not reduce subscriptions.
Michael Geist, SSHRC Backtracks on Open Access, from his blog, May 7, 2006. Excerpt:
Disappointing news from Peter Suber's...Open Access blog, where he reports that the SSHRC has slowed down its quest to adopt open access principles into its research approach. In October 2004, SSHRC decided to move toward an open access approach that would increase access to its (publicly) funded research. Following consultations, the funding agency has now stated that "the idea of open access to all research is widely accepted, but presents a number of implementation obstacles, and the community is by and large cautious. Rather than imposing mandatory requirements on researchers to publish via open access, Council chose to increase awareness of open access, pursue discussions with major stakeholders, and gradually incorporate open access provisions in research support programs." It should be noted that an open access requirement does not mean mandating publication in an open access journal. Rather, it could involve as little as agreeing to post a copy of a published article in an online repository, including the grantee's own website.
BioMed Central has created a table comparing the article processing fees charged by OA journals at 12 publishers. The purpose is to show that the BMC fees are competitive, but one helpful side-effect is to see an up to date picture of the fees at some major publishers (as of April 28, 2006), their range, and what benefits they pay for.
PS: The table well-represents the publishers charging higher fees than BMC. But it omits the publishers charging lower fees, such as Hindawi ($500/paper), and the majority of OA journals that charge no fees at all.
Update. BMC has updated the table to include Hindawi and this note on the table's intended scope. "Some open access journals (including several from BioMed Central) charge no article processing charges to authors, but cover their costs in other ways - e.g. some are directly supported by a host institution. The table above lists only journals where article processing charges are the primary form of support."
Andrea Foster, The Fight for a Toll-Free Internet, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 5, 2006 (subscription required). As I've explained, I can't cover the net neutrality debate fully here even though I think it has implications for OA. Foster's article is the best I've seen on the implications for academics, though without quite reaching the implications for OA. Excerpt:
[The University of Alaska is having trouble with the quality of its net-based videoconferences.] When [Curt Madison, director of the Center for Distance Education at Alaska's Fairbanks campus] complained to [broadband provider] General Communications, officials advised the university to buy the company's dedicated videoconference line. Mr. Madison says that option is too expensive, and besides, he says, he shouldn't have to pay extra to get reliable service. Dana L. Tindall, a senior vice president of the company, offers an airline analogy: "If you don't want to ride on coach, and you want to have a seating assignment, you have to pay a little bit more." Mr. Madison worries that the company's preferential treatment of its own videoconference service "is a harbinger of what we could face, as [broadband] carriers become vendors of programming and seek competitive advantage." Many academic leaders share his concern. Telephone and cable companies, the officials say, could soon thwart colleges' attempts to deliver education and collaborate on research over the Internet. Colleges are pressing Congress to force telecommunications companies to keep their broadband pipes open to any kind of Web content or network application — even those that compete with the companies' own offerings — and to prohibit the companies from favoring certain types of network traffic with fast-lane delivery to people's computers....[A]cademic leaders say that faster service for some Web sites means slower and less reliable service for others, since network capacity, known as bandwidth, is limited....