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Britt Peterson, Taking aim at scientific journals, Seed, May 19, 2006. (Thanks to William Walsh.) Excerpt:
You might think that the results of publicly-funded taxpayer research would be freely available to the citizens who footed the bill in the first place, but you would be wrong --and perhaps in the mood to remedy the situation. That's the logic that motivated John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) to introduce...the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006...."Tax payer-funded research should be accessible to tax payers," said Sen. Lieberman in a press statement at the bill's introduction....
Comment. Olivieri is assuming (1) that FRPAA will undermine subscriptions, and (2) that without subscription-journals, nobody would perform peer review. There's no evidence for either contention and good reason to doubt both. For more details, see my 10-point rebuttal to the AAP's objections to FRPAA. Also see my comments on the report Olivieri co-authored last week.
Eysenbach is right that when articles are OA from journals, there's little or no urgency for them to be OA from repositories as well. However, there are still some reasons to deposit them in repositories, e.g. for the security reasons that lead PLoS and BMC to deposit their OA articles in PMC, or for the processing and integration with OA databases provided by the NIH. If FRPAA isn't revised to handle cases in which articles are published in OA journals, then repository managers who think it's important to have certain articles on deposit can harvest them from the OA journals in which they were published.
Tim O'Reilly, Publisher, be very, very afraid? O'Reilly Radar, May 18, 2006. Excerpt:
The World eBook Library and Project Gutenberg are sponsoring the World eBook Fair. During the month-long fair (July 4 - August 4 2006), users will have free online access to 330,300+ PDF eBooks. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)
Comment. If you're wondering why one month of free online access is something special when Project Gutenberg offers free online access with no time limits, the answer is that the World eBook Library is offering a one-month waiver of its membership fee ($8.95/year). I don't normally blog limited-time offers of free access; they're not free services so much as ads for fee services. But I made an exception in this case because of the Project Gutenberg connection.
Liza Gross, Scientific Illiteracy and the Partisan Takeover of Biology, PLoS Biology, May 2006. This article isn't about OA but it has implications for OA. Excerpt:
Jon D. Miller, who directs the Center for Biomedical Communications at Northwestern University Medical School,...has devoted his 30-year career to studying public understanding of science and technology and its implications for a healthy democracy....Since 1979, he says, the proportion of scientifically literate adults has doubled --to a paltry 17%. The rest are not savvy enough to understand the science section of The New York Times or other science media pitched at a similar level. As disgracefully low as the rate of adult scientific literacy in the United States may be, Miller found even lower rates in Canada, Europe, and Japan --a result he attributes primarily to lower university enrollments. Scientific literacy doesn't call for a deep understanding of Maxwell's equations or Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium, but it does require a general understanding of basic scientific concepts and the nature of scientific inquiry....One-third of Americans think evolution is “definitely false”; over half lean one way or another or aren't sure. Only 14% expressed unequivocal support for evolution --a result Miller calls “shocking.”...
Comment. My question is, What role can open access play in this? I'm not so optimistic as to think that simply making primary science easily available online will do much to foster scientific literacy and scientific knowledge among non-scientists, let alone convert creationists to evolutionists. Easy access completes the puzzle when there is antecedent interest and background, and we need help from teachers, journalists, and politicians to create that interest and background. For the same reason, however, I'm not so pessimistic as to think that OA will make no difference.
There are two mistakes to avoid here. One is to think that OA has no role to play in helping non-scientists understand science. We can call this the Royal Society mistake, after the RS's recent report on educating lay readers about science that doesn't even mention OA. The other mistake is to think that the overriding purpose of OA is to educate lay readers. No OA advocates believe this, but some publisher-opponents of OA either believe it or pretend to believe it in order set it up as a straw man and knock it down. (The most recent example is the American Society of Human Genetics, as quoted in the NYTimes for May 8.) To avoid both mistakes we have to accept that the problem and solution are both complicated. OA will play a role in public education about science --it's neither irrelevant nor sufficient-- and the size of that role is up to all of us.
Sweden has launched a national OA initiative whose goal is "to promote maximum accessibility and visibility of works produced by researchers, teachers and students at Swedish universities and university colleges." From the site:
The two-year program (2006-07) is organized by BIBSAM, the National Co-ordination and Development program of the National Library of Sweden. BIBSAM also funded or co-funded ScieCom, the DOAJ, and the SVEP project. Also see the project page in Swedish.
PS: Kudos to all involved. The objectives are just right and BIBSAM has an excellent track record in coordinating successful projects.
Translational OncoGenomics is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal from Libertas Academica. (Thanks to Marcus Zillman.) From the site:
The primary mission of Translational OncoGenomics is to provide an open-access, peer-reviewed, rapid-publication forum to assist in the dissemination of novel genetic, epigenetic and molecular pathway information related to clinical cancer. The journal is designed to meet the scientific and public need for such a forum in order to process the accelerating acquisition of genomic data resultant from recent technological advances in and international programmatic commitments to this area of research. Particularly encouraged is the submission of papers with a translational connection to human cancer from basic science to ethical considerations related to the application of oncogenomic discoveries for diagnostic and prognostic purposes in clinical trials and for anti-cancer drug development. An important objective will be to contribute information published in this forum to comprehensive internationally-accessible genomic databases in order to foster the identification of molecular targets for the therapy of specific cancers.
Open Access, Participation Literacy, May 19, 2006. An unsigned blog post. Excerpt:
And from a second post to the same blog today:
I suggest a research 2.0 concept to include:  Open access to information created by public authorities (Universities and the like),  Open Peer Review,  Collective Intelligence in research environments,  The Web as platform (paper journals is not of much use in the Web 2.0 era, only e-information can be true objects to collective intelligence).
Klaus Graf, Bundesrat für wissenschaftsfreundlicheres Urheberrecht, Archivalia, May 15, 2006. Klaus quotes key excerpts from a new bill (Entwurf eines Zweiten Gesetzes zur Regelung des Urheberrechts in der Informationsgesellschaft) before the upper house of Germany's Bundesrat that would make Germany copyright law more science-friendly.
Three sections of the bill support OA in different ways. I'd like to summarize them without misleading anyone, but my German and Google's English aren't good enough for that. If anyone can translate the key sections or point to English translations online, I'd gladly blog them.
Stevan Harnad, Confirming the Within-Journal OA Impact Advantage, Open Access Archivangelism, May 18, 2006. A reply to Gunther Eysenbach's reply to Stevan's review of Eysenbach's article in PLoS Biology. There aren't too many layers of this dialog to follow, but there are too many for me to excerpt the latest one without omitting key points or quoting at great length. I hope you'll read it all first-hand.
Ben Lund, Social Bookmarking For Scientists - The Best Of Both Worlds, a paper delivered at XTech 2006. Also see his slides. A good introduction to Connotea.
SPARC has announced a partnership with Bioline International. Excerpt:
Sophie Hebden and Christina Scott, Scientific papers on internet making impact: study, South African Broadcasting Corp., May 19, 2006. Excerpt:
The Endocrine Society is offering free online access to "to patient information from [its] journals." From today's press release:
Today, The Endocrine Society, publishers of four top-ranked, peer-reviewed medical journals, announced a new initiative that will give patients with endocrine disorders immediate access, through the Society's online journals, to cutting-edge research and patient information. Working with The Hormone Foundation, the Society's public education affiliate, the program not only connects the public to the latest scientific research but also includes materials designed specifically for patients, creating a one-stop resource....
Comment. I want to praise the society for what it's doing, but I have to fault this press release for not explaining what it is. I've spent 45 minutes trying to figure out what the society is offering for free that it didn't formerly offer for free, and I still don't think I've found it. The society's four journals still charge subscriptions and are not converting to OA. When patients ask for information, they are told to request articles by email or wait for the 12 month embargo to end.
The society does offer one kind of significant content free online, and without an embargo, although the press release doesn't mention it. If you look at the TOC from the current issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, you'll see that the author's manuscript is OA, while the copy-edited version is limited to subscribers. We learn elsewhere on the site that these author manuscripts are made available from the moment of acceptance.
This is a welcome step and I applaud it. But I'm still not sure I've found what the announcement is announcing. First, it seems that the society offered OA to these manuscripts before today's announcement. Second, the announcement refers to "materials designed specifically for patients" but doesn't link to that special material or describe it any further. The web site links to patientINFORM, which fits this general description, but neither the announcement nor the web site tells us what the Endocrine Society has done to provide content through patientINFORM. Finally, the announcement makes this strong claim: "Patients who search Google for these diseases will be directed to articles published by the Society's premier journal, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, where they will have free, unlimited access to current content that is ordinarily available only by subscription to scientists and medical libraries." The content "ordinarily available only by subscription" seems to be the copy-edited manuscripts, but those are under a 12 month embargo. I don't want to overlook what the society is offering and would appreciate any help.
PLoS Clinical Trials has officially launched. From the site:
Also see the press release.
The Los Alamos National Laboratory has released of aDORe Archive, open-source, OAI-compliant archiving software. From the site:
The aDORe Archive is a write-once/read-many storage approach for Digital Objects and their constituent datastreams. The approach combines two interconnected file-based storage mechanisms that are made accessible in a protocol-based manner. First, XML-based representations of multiple Digital Objects are concatenated into a single, valid XML file named an XMLtape. The creation of indexes for both the identifier and the creation datetime of the XML-based representation of the Digital Objects, facilitates OAI-PMH-based access. Second, ARC files, as introduced by the Internet Archive, are used to contain the constituent datastreams of the Digital Objects in a concatenated manner. An index for the identifier of the datastream facilitates OpenURL-based access. The interconnection between an XMLtape and its associated ARC file(s) is provided by conveying the identifiers of these ARC files as administrative information in the XMLtape, and by including OpenURL references to constituent datastreams of a Digital Object in the XML-based representation of that Digital Object stored in the XMLtape. The aDORe Archive allows for the storage of mutliple XMLtapes and ARC files through the introduction of OAI-PMH compliant XMLtape and ARCfile registries.
Also see yesterday's press release.
PS: aDORe clearly has special features that set it apart from other archiving packages. To someone more technically proficient than I, the site may suggest the special uses aDORe supports that the other packages don't. But I'm still trying to figure them out.
Many of the presentations from the 10th First Monday conference, Openness: Code, science and content (Chicago, May 15-17, 2006), are now online, and the rest should be online shortly. (Thanks to Jim Campbell.)
Microsoft to expand search offerings with Windows Live Book Search, LiveSide, May 18, 2006. Excerpt:
The latest [Microsoft] service on the cards is Windows Live Book Search, previously announced as MSN Book Search at the end of last year. Windows Live Book Search is an online search service for book content, providing readers with tools for discovering and evaluating books for purchase. As with all the search products that are being released under the Windows Live brand, we're expecting it to be available as another tab on the traditional Windows Live Search toolbar, along with the recently launched Windows Live Academic Search and Product Search.
Chris Sherman, Building the Universal Library, Search Engine Watch, May 18, 2006. Excerpt:
What will it take for Google or another search engine to truly assemble a library of all of the world's information? A thought-provoking essay by Wired magazine's "senior maverick" [Kevin Kelly] takes a fascinating look at the challenges....
Leslie Walker, Google's Goal: A Worldwide Web of Books, Washington Post, May 18, 2006. Excerpt:
Michael Cross, Companies House holds all the cards, The Guardian, May 18, 2006. Excerpt:
Companies House is one of the umpires of British capitalism. The agency, based in Cardiff, runs the official register of UK businesses and their shareholders. Its database is the first port of call for anyone checking corporate bona fides.
The University of Michigan libraries issued a kind of advertisement or press release last week to encourage faculty to deposit their research in Deep Blue, UM's OA institutional repository. Excerpt:
Bülent Karasözen, Ilkay Gürbüz-Holt, and Cem Coskun, Open Access and Institutional Respositories: Recent Developments in Turkey and SPARC, a presentation delivered at The Role of the Academic Libraries in the Preservation of Cultural Heritage: Institutional Repositories (Thessaloniki, May 8-9, 2006). Self-archived May 17, 2006.
Abstract: In this work, establishment of Ankos Open Acess and Institutional Repositories Working Group, its goal, objectives and work; initiatives taken on open access in Turkey; cooperative work with SPARC are examined.
John Ober, Facilitating open access: Developing support for author control of copyright, College & Research Libraries News, April 2006. (Thanks to Information Overload.) Excerpt:
Turkey's Open Access & Institutional Repository Working Group has published a brochure on OA (in Turkish). One of its authors, Ilkay Holt, describes it on OA Librarian:
Dirk Lewandowski and Philipp Mayr, Exploring the Academic Invisible Web, a preprint self-archived May 17, 2006.
Abstract: Purpose: To provide a critical review of Bergman’s 2001 study on the Deep Web. In addition, we bring a new concept into the discussion, the Academic Invisible Web (AIW). We define the Academic Invisible Web as consisting of all databases and collections relevant to academia but not searchable by the general-purpose internet search engines. Indexing this part of the Invisible Web is central to scientific search engines. We provide an overview of approaches followed thus far. Design/methodology/approach: Discussion of measures and calculations, estimation based on infor-metric laws. Literature review on approaches for uncovering information from the Invisible Web. Findings: Bergman’s size estimation of the Invisible Web is highly questionable. We demonstrate some major errors in the conceptual design of the Bergman paper. A new (raw) size estimation is given. Research limitations/implications: The precision of our estimation is limited due to small sample size and lack of reliable data. Practical implications: We can show that no single library alone will be able to index the Academic Invisible Web. We suggest collaboration to accomplish this task. Originality/value: Provides library managers and those interested in developing academic search engines with data on the size and attributes of the Academic Invisible Web.
From the body of the article:
Library collections and databases with millions of documents remain invisible to the eyes of users of general internet search en-gines. Furthermore, ongoing digitization projects are contributing to the continuous growth of the Invisible Web. Extant technical standards like Z39.50 or OAI-PMH (Open Archives Initiative – Protocol for Metadata Harvesting) are often not fully utilized, and consequently, valuable openly accessible collections, especially from libraries, remain invisible....
Comment. There's a lot here for friends of OA to think about. One lesson is that an OA article can still be invisible in the relevant sense (not indexed by all or most search engines) if it has no incoming links, if it's in a file format most search engines ignore, or if it's in a relational database for which access requires filling out an interactive form. Most OA content is visible in this sense, but not all of it is. We can do better, both by making existing OA content more visible and (of course) by making more content OA.
The Spring issue of the AHDS Newsletter is now online. This issue has a list of UK digitization projects that will lead to OA collections, a list of OA collections recently deposited with the AHDS, and a very interesting report on the Arts and Humanities e-Science Support Centre, a project to promote the methods of e-Science in the arts and humanities.
Sophie Hebden, Open-access research makes a bigger splash, SciDev.Net, May 17, 2006. Excerpt:
Environmental Research Letters is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal from the Institute of Physics. From today's announcement:
The RCUK has published a brochure, Adding Value: How the Research Councils Benefit the Economy.
In the blurb on its what's new page, the RCUK says the new brochure "shows how the Research Councils work collectively and individually to get the best returns from their investments in research" (my emphasis).
Comment. I have no doubt that the Research Councils benefit the UK economy --indeed, the world economy-- through the research they fund. But they do not maximize the return on their investment in research until they provide open access to the results.
Richard Seitmann, Open Access: Mit Hochschul-Publikations-Servern aus der Zeitschriftenkrise, Heise Online, May 16, 2006. On the recent meeting of the German University Rectors Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz, HRK) at Humbolt University Berlin and the supportive views of HRK's General Secretary, Christiane Ebel Gabriel, on OA and Humboldt's new OA declaration. (In German.)
PS: See my 5/12/06 blog posting on the Humboldt OA declaration.
Ian Russell, the Head of Publishing for the Royal Society, has been appointed the new CEO of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP). Russell will take over on October 1. For more details, see today's press release.
Jan Velterop, On the bill, The Parachute, May 16, 2006. Excerpt:
The Cornyn-Lieberman Bill, a.k.a. the Federal Research Public Access Act or FRPAA, has evoked some strong reactions. Many - perhaps most - publishers are dismayed; many - perhaps most - open access advocated are delighted. Yet I'm afraid I see the FRPAA as a bit of a dogs dinner. Fish nor fowl. The six months' embargo is a perilously short period of time for most publishers to recoup their costs via subscriptions. And it is useless as a stimulus to the development of sustainable open access publishing.
Comments. Just two quick responses.
Dorothea Salo, That's the stuff, Caveat Lector, May 16, 2006. Excerpt:
Cell Science is a journal whose business model includes micropayments paid by readers and paid to authors. (Thanks to LIS News.) From the journal page on micropayments and royalties:
Comments. Here are some first thoughts on this interesting model.
Jen Grant, New Proof of (Long Tail) Concept, Inside Google Book Search, May 17, 2006. Excerpt:
Tim O'Reilly, the founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, reported yesterday that his company has conducted a study indicating that by giving people greater access to O'Reilly books online (through Safari and Google Book Search), more potential book buyers are discovering older, out-of-print books -- something he says constitutes "compelling support for Chris Anderson's 'long tail' theory."
The Research Councils UK (RCUK) is organizing a workshop in London for June 29. Normally, I don't blog meetings in advance (instead, I list them on my conference page), but this one is part of the RCUK's deliberations to finalize its draft OA policy. The purpose of this meeting is to consult with learned society publishers and it appears that only society publishers will be invited to participate. From the announcement:
Comment. Of course the RCUK needs the input of the society publishers, even though they have had ample opportunity to provide input before now. I hope the RCUK will be equally solicitous of final inputs from OA proponents (researchers, librarians, universities) before the process is concluded. The publishers are bound to repeat their reservations about the current draft policy. If the RCUK considers revising the draft and making new concessions to publishers, stakeholders representing research should have a chance to respond.
Alan Story, Colin Darch, and Debora Halbert (eds.), The Copy/South Dossier, The Copy South Research Group, May 2006. (Thanks to Zapopan Martin Muela-Meza.) A large, 208-page report on the south or developing-country perspectives on a very wide range of copyright-related issues. Excerpt (from Section 5.11):
From the perspective of the South, OA journals that require Article Processing fees may defeat the purpose of the shift from the traditional journal. While the end user may have ‘free’ access to the materials, global South researchers may be unable to contribute to these journals because the processing fees could be too prohibitive....
Jeffrey M. Perkel, Open access brings more citations, TheScientist, May 16, 2006. Excerpt:
Comment. Just one quick response to David Hoole's comment, "[W]hen it comes to deciding where to publish, authors will be more influenced by conditions imposed by their grants than by the possibility of more citations." What grant conditions is he thinking about? The trend among funders is to encourage or require OA, although they are doing it through OA repositories rather than OA journals. If Hoole meant that funders will nudge grantees to submit to prestigious journals, like Nature, then his response begs the question. Nature may not choose OA, even in the face of this evidence, but why doesn't it? Eysenbach's study, and the many previous studies along the same lines, raise the question of incentives to journals, not just incentives to authors. The question is especially sharp for prestigious journals, which essentially owe their prestige to citations. Because the evidence that OA boosts citation impact is solid and growing, it's much more pertinent to ask when prestigious non-OA journals will feel the weight of it than to assume that authors will always have to choose between prestige and OA. There's no intrinsic trade-off between prestige and OA. Some prestigious journals are already OA and vice versa. The gap will close further when journals, even the most prestigious, see that they have their own interests in OA, and that it's not just something to benefit authors, readers, libraries, universities, funders, and citizens.
The Royal Society has published a new report, Science and the Public Interest, specifically on dissemination issues. The subtitle is, Communicating the results of new scientific research to the public. Excerpt:
[R]esearchers need to think deliberately about whether and how to communicate their results to the public and that, in this, a prime consideration should be how the public interest is best served....Using the UK Freedom of Information Act (2002) as a guide, the public interest is served where the communication of research results would:  further the public’s understanding of, and participation in, the debate of issues of the day;  facilitate accountability and transparency of researchers, their funders and their employers;  allow individuals to understand how the results of research affect their lives and, in some cases, assist individuals in making informed decisions in light of the results; and  bring to light information affecting public well-being and safety....[E]very effort should be made to ensure that high quality research of public interest is communicated to the public and that the importance of doing so is widely understood in the research community.
Also see the press release (May 11, 2006).
Comment. It's sad that this report doesn't even mention open access. We know that the RS leadership largely opposed the draft OA policy from the RCUK. It wrote two critical comments on it (July 2005, November 2005) without consulting its own members, who had to act outside the organization to show their support for OA. By contrast, the new report is more oblivious to OA than opposed. In the report, the RS distinguishes scientific results that the public ought to hear from other results of lower priority. It doesn't quite take the paternalizing stance that access to some results will harm lay readers, but it does caution that "great care is needed when results are communicated to the public, for instance via the media alongside a conference presentation, before they have been subjected to independent review." But even for the subset of refereed results that the RS thinks the public ought to hear, it doesn't consider OA. It doesn't even bother to argue against it, as if bringing it up, especially in this context, would make its merits unmistakable. The RS is taking a very old-school approach to public education that not only overlooks the greatest tool for public dissemination in the history of publishing, but also the habits of most modern readers who care to hear about new scientific results.
Henk Ellermann, OA increases impact for high quality journal publications, In Between, May 16, 2006. Excerpt:
Eysenbach is very careful to point out that this study needs to be repeated. His study is limited to one (high quality) journal and covers a relatively narrow time frame (from 0 to 16 months after publication). He is right, of course.
PS: Is it true that OA articles tend to have more authors? I've never seen evidence one way or another about that.
Stevan Harnad, Within-Journal Demonstrations of the Open-Access Impact Advantage: PLoS, Pipe-Dreams and Peccadillos, Open Access Archivangelism, May 16, 2006. Excerpt:
Stevan's comment has also been published as a letter to the editor in PLoS Biology.
Update. See Eysenbach's response to Harnad.
John Blossom, The Circle of Politics Draws Tighter on Scholarly Publishers, Shore Communications ContentBlogger, May 16, 2006. Excerpt:
[If FRPAA] were to become law there would be a major impact on the margins of scholarly publishers, though it's far from clear which direction they would take to address the issue. The open access model is cited most frequently as a reasonable alternative, but it's not clear that open access will be feasible as a solution for each and every scholarly market. Established circles of academic peer review have a power base that will move extremely slowly towards any changes that would disrupt their comfortable position in the publishing industry.
Someone finally asked the New York Times a question I've always wondered about. Where are the links to sources, especially scientific sources? (Thanks to William Walsh.) Here's the Q&A with NYTimes Science Editor Laura Chang.
Comment. "[M]any of the studies we report are available by subscription only." All too true. But it's a good idea to link to them anyway. Links will benefit some readers even if not all, just as citing a book discussed in a story will help some readers and not all. Non-OA publishers will cheer because links will increase their traffic and visibility. OA proponents will cheer because readers with access will learn what they want to learn and readers without access will learn about the access barriers obstructing the flow of knowledge. The NYTimes doesn't have to take sides in the OA debate in order to link to the works it discusses, any more than it has to take a position on book prices in order to cite a book missing from most public libraries. Today a link is an easy, expected, and valuable enhancement to a citation. We supply them for readers who are interested enough to click through, even when we know that most readers will not be that interested. We should do the same for readers who have access privileges, even though we know that most won't have access privileges. We even supply links for the time they are alive even though we know that after a time many or most will be dead. Links don't have to serve everyone to justify their existence. This part of the revolution is over and secure: five to ten years ago were were delighted when links were present and now we're annoyed when they're absent. Any newspaper that wants to provide ordinary service to online readers will provide links. That goes double for any newspaper that wants to help motivated readers follow through on a story and learn more.
I don't normally draw attention to OA articles that are not about OA. But let me make a rare exception for this article on Claude Chevalley's contributions to class field theory in mathematics. The author, Shokichi Iyanaga, was born in Tokyo on April 2, 1906. At 100, he must be the oldest living author of an OA article. (If not, I'll gladly post a correction.) He published his first research paper in 1928. So much for the theory that OA depends on the rising generation that grew up with the internet and web. When CERN and Tim Berners-Lee released the web standard into the public domain in 1991, Shokichi was 83 years old. Kudos for running strong.
Shokichi Iyanaga, Travaux de Claude Chevalley sur la théorie du corps de classes: Introduction, Japanese Journal of Mathematics, April 2006.
The presentations for the upcoming session, Promoting the Implementation of Open Access, at IFLA's World Library and Information Congress (Seoul, August 20-24, 2006), are now online. (Thanks to Gary Price.)
Gunther Eysenbach, Citation advantage of open access articles, PLoS Biology, May 2006.
Abstract: Open access (OA) to the research literature has the potential to accelerate recognition and dissemination of research findings, but its actual effects are controversial. This was a longitudinal bibliometric analysis of a cohort of OA and non-OA articles published between June 8, 2004, and December 20, 2004, in the same journal (PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). Article characteristics were extracted, and citation data were compared between the two groups at three different points in time: at "quasi-baseline" (December 2004, 0-6 mo after publication), in April 2005 (4-10 mo after publication), and in October 2005 (10-16 mo after publication). Potentially confounding variables, including number of authors, authors' lifetime publication count and impact, submission track, country of corresponding author, funding organization, and discipline, were adjusted for in logistic and linear multiple regression models. A total of 1,492 original research articles were analyzed: 212 (14.2% of all articles) were OA articles paid by the author, and 1,280 (85.8%) were non-OA articles. In April 2005 (mean 206 d after publication), 627 (49.0%) of the non-OA articles versus 78 (36.8%) of the OA articles were not cited (relative risk = 1.3 [95% Confidence Interval: 1.1-1.6]; p = 0.001). 6 mo later (mean 288 d after publication), non-OA articles were still more likely to be uncited (non-OA: 172 [13.6%], OA: 11 [5.2%]; relative risk = 2.6 [1.4-4.7]; p < 0.001). The average number of citations of OA articles was higher compared to non-OA articles (April 2005: 1.5 [SD = 2.5] versus 1.2 [SD = 2.0]; Z = 3.123; p = 0.002; October 2005: 6.4 [SD = 10.4] versus 4.5 [SD = 4.9]; Z = 4.058; p < 0.001). In a logistic regression model, controlling for potential confounders, OA articles compared to non-OA articles remained twice as likely to be cited (odds ratio = 2.1 [1.5-2.9]) in the first 4-10 mo after publication (April 2005), with the odds ratio increasing to 2.9 (1.5-5.5) 10-16 mo after publication (October 2005). Articles published as an immediate OA article on the journal site have higher impact than self-archived or otherwise openly accessible OA articles. We found strong evidence that, even in a journal that is widely available in research libraries, OA articles are more immediately recognized and cited by peers than non-OA articles published in the same journal. OA is likely to benefit science by accelerating dissemination and uptake of research findings.
The same issue contains an editorial by Catriona J. MacCallum and Hemai Parthasarathy, Open access increases citation rate. Excerpt:
In the current study, Eysenbach compared citations compiled by Thomson Scientific (formerly Thomson ISI) to individual articles published between June 2004 and December 2004 in the same journal --namely, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), which announced its open-access option for authors on June 8 of that year, with an associated publication charge of US$1,000. Non-OA articles in PNAS are subject to a six-month “toll-access” delay before the article becomes publicly available. The results of this natural experiment are clear: in the 4 to 16 months following publication, OA articles gained a significant citation advantage over non- OA articles during the same period. They are twice as likely to be cited 4 to 10 months after publication and almost three times as likely between 10 and 16 months. Given that PNAS delays open access for only six months, the disparity between OA and non-OA articles in journals where the delay is longer or where articles remain “toll-access” is likely to be even greater....PNAS was one of the first journals to offer an open-access option to its authors. However, such hybrid journals are increasing: Blackwell, Springer, and Oxford University Press now provide this option as well. This means that similar experiments can be replicated. Moreover, although the evidence from the current analysis argues most strongly for a time advantage in citation for OA articles, a study over longer periods will reveal whether this translates into a sustained increase in the number of citations. In the meantime, open-access advocates should be emboldened by tangible evidence for what has seemed obvious all along.
At the same time, Eysenbach has published a companion editorial, The Open Access Advantage, in his own journal, the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
Abstract: A study published today in PLoS Biology provides robust evidence that open-access articles are more immediately recognized and cited than non-OA articles. This editorial provides some additional follow up data from the most recent analysis of the same cohort in April 2006, 17 to 21 months after publication. These data suggest that the citation gap between open access and non-open access papers continues to widen. I conclude with the observation that the “open access advantage” has at least three components: (1) a citation count advantage (as a metric for knowledge uptake within the scientific community), (2) an end user uptake advantage, and (3) a cross-discipline fertilization advantage. More research is needed, and JMIR is inviting research on all aspects of open access. As the advantages for publishing open access from a researchers' point of view become increasingly clear, questions around the sustainability of open access journals remain. This journal is a living example that "lean publishing" models can create successful open access journals. Open source tools which have been developed by the Public Knowledge Project at the University of British Columbia with contributions from the Epublishing & Open Access group at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation in Toronto are an alternative to hosting journals on commercial open access publisher sites.
US bill proposes greater public access to scientific research, CORDIS News, May 15, 2006. An unsigned news story. Excerpt:
The Federal Research Public Access Act [FRPAA], introduced on 2 May by Senators John Cornyn and Joe Lieberman, would require every federal agency with an annual research budget of more than 100 million US dollars to implement a public access policy. The proposed US bill comes shortly after a study published by the European Commission on Europe's scientific publication system, which recommends, among other actions, ensuring published articles arising from EU-funded research are made available in open access archives after a given time period....Through [the FRPAA], the legislators claim, taxpayers will reap a maximum return on their investment in government funded research, and benefit from accelerated scientific progress. 'This legislation is a common-sense approach to expand the public's access to research it funds. And it will help accelerate scientific innovation and discovery,' said Senator Cornyn....
Heather Morrison and Andrew Waller, Open Access for the Medical Librarian, a presentation at Canadian Health Libraries Association 2006. Self-archived May 15, 2006.
Abstract: The most important aspects of open access for the medical librarian are presented. Reasons for open access include access to research information, access to taxpayer-funded research, facilitation of evidence-based medicine, equity of access, promotion of author control, and controlling library costs. The two primary approaches to open access, via author self-archiving and open access publishing, are presented. Key open access policy developments are highlighted. Many of the major policy initiatives of the moment are from the research funders. From the researcher funders' point of view, open access means more research impact, more real-world impact when professionals can access the literature, and value is illustrated to the taxpayer, building support for further research funding. The world's largest medical research funders, including the U.S. National Institute of Health and the Wellcome Trust, have public access policies, and many more policies are in development. For example, two weeks ago the Federal Research Public Access Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate. One of the essential elements of open access policy is ensuring that researchers are required, not requested, to deposit works. In Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has a policy in development called Access to Products of Research; public comments are due May 15, 2006. The dramatic growth of open access - over 2,220 journals in DOAJ, over 7.3 million items in an OAIster search - is discussed, as is the idea of new roles for librarians in an open access environment.
Richard Byrne, Speakers at Convocation on Humanities Warn About Privatization of Materials, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 15, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
For more on "holes in our history", see Linda Kerber's article in the May 19 issue. Kerber focuses on the threats represented by three recent developments:
You may have read that the National Archives and Records Administration has allowed some federal agencies to withdraw declassified documents from public view. That the Smithsonian Institution has signed an agreement with Showtime Networks to create an on-demand cable-television channel. That the Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to search the papers of the late investigative journalist Jack Anderson. But have you thought about what those controversies mean taken together? Historians view them as three serious threats to the integrity of access to documents and artifacts of national importance.
Aliya Sternstein, Bill demands free public access to science reports, Federal Computer Week, May 15, 2006. Excerpt:
PS: I blogged a detailed response to the AAP objections on May 10.
From the sidebar:
Legislation mandating that taxpayer-funded research be made publicly available would require agencies to maintain databases of the manuscripts. The costs of creating those databases, however, are low compared to the agencies’ overall research budgets, said staffers for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), one of the bill’s sponsors....“This is a very small investment to make to leverage the much larger return that expanded access will provide,” said John Drogin, a spokesman for Cornyn.
PS: It's true that the investment would be small and bring large benefits. But it's not true that the bill requires the investment. Section 4.b.6 says that agencies may choose between hosting their own repositories (databases) or requiring their grantees to deposit their manuscripts in external repositories meeting certain conditions laid down in the bill.
Two (very different) examples of a lack of Open Access, CharteringLibrarian, May 14, 2006. An unsigned blog posting. Excerpt:
Comment. I like the idea in the last paragraph. Libraries should write short, standardized messages to send to faculty who complain about limited subscription access. They could include links to a general overview of OA, some essentials about OA that every scholar ought to know, and some suggestions on what faculty can do to help bring it about.
The Tomales Bay Institute's Commons Report for 2006 is now online. This year's edition includes a short entry on OA:
Now, open source science
Kevin Kelly, Scan This Book! New York Times, May 14, 2006. Excerpt:
For 2,000 years, the universal library, together with other perennial longings like invisibility cloaks, antigravity shoes and paperless offices, has been a mythical dream that kept receding further into the infinite future. Until now. When Google announced in December 2004 that it would digitally scan the books of five major research libraries to make their contents searchable, the promise of a universal library was resurrected....Brewster Kahle, an archivist overseeing another scanning project, says that the universal library is now within reach. "This is our chance to one-up the Greeks!" he shouts. "It is really possible with the technology of today, not tomorrow. We can provide all the works of humankind to all the people of the world. It will be an achievement remembered for all time, like putting a man on the moon." And unlike the libraries of old, which were restricted to the elite, this library would be truly democratic, offering every book to every person....Ideally, in such a complete library we should also be able to [go beyond books and] read any article ever written in any newspaper, magazine or journal. And why stop there?...