Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Modeling TA journal prices and OA journal fees

Mark McCabe and Christopher M. Snyder, Academic Journal Prices in a Digital Age: A Two-Sided-Market Model, a preprint, May 2006.
Abstract: Digital-age technologies promise to revolutionize the market for academic journals as they have other forms of media. We model journals as intermediaries linking authors with readers in a two-sided market. We use the model to study the division of fees between authors and readers under various market structures, ranging from monopoly to free entry. The results help explain why print journals traditionally obtained most of their revenue from subscription fees. The results raise the possibility that digitization may lead to a proliferation of online journals targeting various author types. The paper contributes to the literature on two-sided markets in its analysis of free-entry equilibrium and modeling of product-quality certification.

From the body of the paper:

The key feature of the journals market captured in our framework is its “two-sided” nature. Subscribers on one side of the market benefit from the scholarship of authors on the other side. Conversely, authors benefit from having a large number of readers. Journals serve as intermediaries between the two sides. Drawing on the growing industrial-organization literature on two-sided markets, we develop a model tailored to the case of academic journals. We use the model to understand how the traditional structure of academic journal prices, with zero or low author fees on one side and high subscription fees on the other, might have arisen....We study the efficiency and competitive viability of a new model of journal pricing, open access, advocated by a growing number of scholars and librarians. The open-access model turns the traditional pricing model on its head, making articles freely available to readers over the Internet and deriving revenues instead from high author fees....

[Appendix B] provides empirical evidence supporting the assumption of that journals adjust their prices in the transition to long-run equilibrium, so that author prices will vary with the number of readers and reader prices will vary with the number of articles from year to year.

Comment. Like the Jeon/Rochet paper (blogged just before this one), McCabe and Snyder assume that all OA journals charge author-side fees when in fact most of them do not. I offer no judgment on how well their analysis applies to those that do charge fees.

Update. In correspondence with Mark, I've learned that his analysis does not assume that all OA journals charge author-side fees. (The claim in the introduction about OA journals and "high" author fees is most relevant for profit-maximizing firms; in the next revision of the paper they will clarify this point.) He and Snyder show that author-side fees can fluctuate down to zero, depending on other variables, and that one of the key variables is the availability of institutional subsidies.

Author-side fees and quality, revisited

Doh-Shin Jeon and Jean-Charles Rochet, The Pricing of Academic Journals: A Two-Sided Market Perspectives, a preprint, February 24, 2006.
Abstract: More and more academic journals adopt an open-acces polcy, by which articles are accessible free of charge through the Internet, while publication costs are recovered through author-fees. We study the consequences of this policy on the journal's quality standards. We show that if the journal is run by a not-for-profit association that aims at maximizing the utility of its members, the move to open-access may result in a decrease of quality standards below the socially efficient level.

From the conclusion:

Although we were not able to prove this result in full generality, we have established it for a reasonably large class of distribution functions. The basic intuition behind it is simple: if the association is controlled by the readers of the journal, it does not internalize the cost of the publication, which is covered by authors. As long as those authors are not budget constrained, the association will choose to publish too many articles.

Comment. The paper is highly mathematical and I have trouble putting my finger on what the authors think causes the alleged decrease in quality. I can't criticize the authors for addressing an audience of economists, but the rest of us could use some translation. First, note that the conclusion only applies to OA journals that charge author-side fees and that the majority of OA journals charge no such fees at all. Second, note that it only applies to journals published by non-profits, or at least those non-profits trying to maximize utility for their readers (association members). Among other things, I can't figure out why preserving quality isn't an obvious part of the journal's method of maximizing utility for readers. Do the authors assume that journals trying to maximize utility for readers put quantity ahead of quality? If so, why?

Update. A newer version of this paper, dated June 21, 2007, is now online. If this is the published edition, it doesn't mention the journal in which it was published.

Google Book Search helps sell books

Scott Lorenz of Westwind Communications, a book marketing specialist, argues that Google Book Search will increase the net sales of most kinds of books, but not including academic monographs.
From a book marketing standpoint, it’s a good thing. Why? It’s simple. People can’t buy what they don’t know about. Google Book Search lets people find a book with the topic they’re searching for and allows them to peek inside. If they like it, and want more they can buy it.

Most authors should open up their books to Google and submit them. I say “most.” There are some that should think twice. Academic books that have a low print run and have tiny markets, where there may only be hundreds or dozens of potential buyers may be better off avoiding Google Book Search. For the remaining 378,000 books published in the U.S. and U.K. in 2005, I say go for it!...

As a book marketer, the one thing that’s very clear to me is that any serious promotional campaign must make use of Google Book Search since search engines are the first step taken by people seeking information. And Google remains the leading search engine by about a 2 to 1 margin over Yahoo!

Making the case for OA to national policy-makers

Jennifer A. De Beer, Making the innovation case in Open Access scholarly communication, a presentation delivered at CERN workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication (Geneva, October 20-22, 2005). Self-archived June 1, 2006.
Abstract: It seems almost unnecessary to have to elaborate additional reasons for the adoption of Open Access scholarly communication (OA sc) as manifested through Open Access journals and self-archiving practices. To those active within the OA arena, the case has been convincingly made, and current arguments merely need to be disseminated beyond the Library and Information Science (LIS) sphere. However, it is my contention that a convincing argument for OA sc needs to be launched from the Science Policy perspective if any government mandated pro-OA policy changes are to be effected. This paper, then, is an attempt at taking the OA discussion beyond the LIS arena and into the realm of Science and Innovation Policy. Using Innovation Theory as its theoretical framework, it is argued that Open Access scholarly communication can only serve to bolster Innovation Systems, be they national, regional, or sectoral. The case of South Africa is taken as an illustrative example, though the case can and will be generalised to beyond the South African science system. Making the case for OA within the context of Innovation is also of strategic import, since government policymakers frequently heed the advice of Science- and Innovation Policy researchers.

Open-source science tackles two tropical diseases

The Synaptic Leap has launched an open-source research project to cure or alleviate two tropical diseases. (Thanks to Glyn Moody.) Excerpt:

Biomedical science is indivisible.  The physical and psychological barriers that divide scientific communities are ultimately artificial and counterproductive.  We see online collaboration as a natural way to bridge these gaps and pool information that is currently too fragmented for anyone to use.  An open, collaborative research community will find new ways to do science, answering questions that current institutions find difficult or impossible....

We are beginning our journey focused on the two tropical diseases malaria and schistosomiasis. Diseases found exclusively in tropical regions predominantly afflict poor people in developing countries. The typical profit-driven pharmaceutical economic model fails with these diseases because there is simply no money to be made. However, the very fact that there’s no profit incentive to research these diseases makes them perfect candidates for open source style research; there’s no profit incentive to keep secrets either. Our pilot research communities are: [1] Malaria and [2] Schistosomiasis....

Open source communities are only as strong as the volunteers who support them.  To begin participating you need to create a username for yourself and login. Get off the sidelines and become a part of this revolutionary new experiment!

Elsevier's lobbying in the US

William Walsh has blogged a very detailed picture of Reed Elsevier's lobbying activity in the US since 1998. It's difficult to summarize or excerpt, so I'll just point and recommend. One nugget: "If these figures are correct, Reed Elsevier's annual spending on U.S. lobbying activities increased 695% from 1998 to 2005."

This is Bill's final posting for Georgia State University's very good blog, Issues in Scholarly Communication. He was one of the few bloggers anywhere who regularly found OA-related news items before the rest of the pack, including me. I wish him well at his next position.

A few OA links

Docwonk, Final OA thoughts, Free Government Information, June 2, 2006. Excerpt:

As i go two days over my guest blog status [at Free Government Information], i wanted to share a couple of resources for "further reading" in regards to Open Access and other issues:...

My cubicle neighbor at the University of California at Berkeley helped work on the UC Berkeley Faculty Conference on Scholarly Publishing March 31, 2005 [i can still hear her hair pulling at times] which resulted in this webpage Scholarly Publishing - New Models that provides nice background information and links.

If you are looking for databases of freely available OA journal information available on the internet there are many "out there", but two i recommend are:

Gold Rush which provides access to over 50 open access databases and over 8000 open access journals in a variety of subject areas.

Genamics JournalSeek that includes a description of the journals as well as link outs to database and indexing information via Openly Jake.

And, i close with a link to a letter from my predecessor, Judith C. Wilkerson, who in November 2004 published a Comment on NIH Notice NOT-OD-04-064 Open Access to Taxpayer Funded Research to the National Institutes of Health's Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni in which she notes, among other things:

It is a public policy mistake to delay access to the public that paid for research and the US research community, especially if content is released immediately to third world countries that could be our enemies. It is not is the best interest of the country or its citizens. Nor is it fair.

Don't forget to share you views with Congress as legislation is being considered and remember to:!  Perhaps i'll see some of you in NOLA.

Friday, June 02, 2006

More on the CURES Act and FRPAA

Ray English and Peter Suber, Public access to federally funded research: The Cornyn-Lieberman and CURES bills, College & Research Libraries News, June 2006. Excerpt:
The rationale for both the Cornyn-Lieberman bill and the public access provision of the CURES bill is straightforward. The federal government spends more than $55 billion annually to fund a wide variety of research in health, scientific, and other fields. Research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) alone results in more than 60,000 peer-reviewed articles per year. Wide, rapid, and easy access to the results of this research is essential for everyone who wishes to apply or build upon it, from other scientists and scholars to health care professionals, patients, manufacturers, teachers and students, policy-makers, nonprofit organizations, and citizens. Giving taxpayers access to the non-classified research for which they have paid will advance research and all the benefits of research, from health care and pollution control to energy independence and public safety....

Both bills protect the system of peer-reviewed journals. Both leave copyright law unchanged, let extramural grantees copyright their articles, and allow them to transfer copyright to journals. The six-month delay before research is made openly accessible will shield journal publishers from potential subscription or licensing cancellations. Journals will still have the exclusive right to distribute the final published version of articles, unless they allow those versions to be deposited by authors in repositories.


I just mailed the June issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue takes a close look at the calculations purporting to show that high-output research universities would pay more in author-side fees for OA journals than they pay now in subscriptions for non-OA journals. It also takes a close look at Elsevier's new hybrid journals and the first month of news since the FRPAA was introduced into the US Senate. The Top Stories section takes a brief look at the OA bill before the German Parliament, the national-level OA policies adopted or under consideration in Australia, Finland, Sweden, and South Africa, the OA mandate at India's National Institute of Technology, the OA recommendation at Humbolt University Berlin, the launch of new repositories at a handful of institutions around the world, and Gunther Eysenbach's new study confirming the existence of an OA impact advantage.

Law blogs help scholars, practitioners, even judges

Dick Dahl, Attorneys proclaim Net gains with blogs, Long Island Business News, June 2, 2006.

New questionnaires from the VERSIONS project

The JISC VERSIONS Project has launched a pair of new questionnaires. From the announcement:
Do you wish to influence the development of version identification systems in university-managed open access collections? The VERSIONS Project is investigating current attitudes and practice relating to version identification in digital repositories and open access research paper collections. We invite you to participate in our user requirements study via one or both of our online questionnaires...

For experts and stakeholders (library and repository communities, and other interested parties): 'Identifying versions of academic papers in institutional repositories'

For academic and research staff and students: 'Versions of academic papers online - the experience of authors and readers'

Author attitudes toward OA archiving for different versions of an academic paper

Frances Shipsey, Versions in the lifecycle of academic papers - user requirements and guidelines for digital repositories, a presentation delivered at CERN workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication (Geneva, October 20-22, 2005). Self-archived June 1, 2006.
Abstract: An academic research paper evolves through various stages during its lifecycle, for example from early conference presentation through working paper to final published refereed journal article. Different versions can co-exist in publicly available electronic form. Finding out researchers’ attitudes towards storing, labelling and making accessible these different versions, both of their own and of their peers’ work is at the heart of the VERSIONS Project, funded by the JISC under the Digital Repositories Programme.

The project addresses the issues and uncertainties relating to versions of academic papers in digital repositories. By including a user requirements study, the project will clarify the needs of researchers and other stakeholders for deposit, storage and accessibility of different versions in the lifecycle of a digital resource. In addition to looking at user needs, the project will analyse researchers’ current practice in terms of retention of author copies of their own material. This investigation into current practice will reveal the extent of available suitable versions for deposit in digital repositories.

The user requirements study and the investigation into current practice will feed into a third strand of project activity which will develop a toolkit of guidelines and will propose standards on versions. This activity will be carried out in coordination with the JISC and working with relevant metadata standards, publishing and OAI communities. The project has a focus on eprints in the subject discipline of economics and takes a comparative view by drawing on established partnerships and experience with European libraries specialising in economics.

The British Library's STM strategy

Tracey Caldwell, Content anxieties in a digital age, Information World Review, June 1, 2006. Excerpt:
In launching a major consultation exercise about what it should collect and what it should connect to, the British Library is looking to users to help formulate the right balance between connection and collection, print and digital....Caroline Pung, head of strategy and planning at the BL, and author of the content strategy document, says: “I hope this will give people a greater level of clarity about what we are trying to do and I hope it will lead to the BL making the right decisions as it prioritises today’scontent for the researchers of tomorrow.”...

A new technical solution is also likely to be needed to ensure that researchers can navigate easily between materials held by the BL, which is a requirement of the strategy. “A new system is likely but I couldn’t put my hand on my heart and say exactly what is needed yet,” says Pung. “This will very much be part of the STM (science, technology, medicine) strategy, though it is not limited to STM. As part of the development of the STM strategy we have started looking at identifying priorities, and linking up with primary data sets is one of them.”

The BL has not yet set a date for the release of the STM strategy consultation document. This will come when it has had time to assimilate the impact of the content strategy consultation document, which is unlikely to be within the next 12 months. “The reason we are developing the detailed analysis of STM later is partly practical, as it would not work to put a lot of material in one document,” says Pung. “Also there are rapid changes in the STM landscape that are having a big impact on our service areas. We have ongoing work on our services strategy too.”

Teaching students copyright issues through Creative Commons

Howard Pitler, Creative Commons: A New Tool for Schools, Innovate, June/July 2006 (free registration required). Excerpt:
Teachers and students should begin using this alternative to traditional copyright for a few reasons. One reason to include a Creative Commons license on work sent to the Internet is that it gives clear guidance to others of the creator's intent. As teachers and students are both consumers and creators of content on the Web, using and posting content with a Creative Commons license attached leaves no doubt regarding the intentions of the author. A second reason is that by talking about Creative Commons in both K-12 and college classrooms, teachers can engage students in a much-needed conversation about online ethics....Students in high school and college might discuss the relative merits of sharing work using a Creative Commons license as opposed to posting material with a conventional copyright....Most importantly, bringing Creative Commons to the classroom gives students and teachers a new tool for finding material that is both appropriate and legal to use...

As the rapid growth of the Internet has tended to outpace the legal frameworks that govern the exchange of intellectual and creative materials, those who seek to maximize the potential of online technology for educational purposes have had good reason to avoid the headaches of copyright law altogether. Yet with Creative Commons, students and teachers alike now have a powerful tool and resource for their educational activities as well as a means to situate the materials they create within a larger envrionment of collaborative learning that extends far beyond their immediate context. As such, Creative Commons represents a vital step forward in realizing the full promise of online technology to promote new forms of teaching and learning.

OA, public support, and funding support

Eric Kansa, Open Access and Politics, Digging Digitally, June 1, 2006. Excerpt:

A recent poll of US citizens show an amazing 80% in favor of open access to federally funded research! (link)  Clearly scholarly societies in general, and archaeologists in particular should not ignore this kind of evidence. Archaeology, along with other disciplines, is facing the threat of exile from the NSF.  Senator Kay Bailey (R- Texas) is attacking NSF support of the social sciences (more here and here).

Our field either directly or indirectly depends on public support. It seems archaeologists need to better communicate the value and relevance of their work. Can Open Access help in this regard?  It’s probably part of the answer....

An OA home for zooarchaeologists

Sarah Whitcher Kansa, Announcing BoneCommons - an open access forum for zooarchaeology, Digging Digitally, June 1, 2006. Excerpt:

The International Council for Archaeozoology (ICAZ) and the Alexandria Archive Institute have teamed up to create BoneCommons, an open access internet-based forum for the archaeozoological community. BoneCommons facilitates communication between ICAZ members by providing a place for them to “meet” online. ICAZ members can post questions, have discussions, and upload photos, charts, papers, and references....

BoneCommons is one of the recent initiatives that the Alexandria Archive Institute has created to explore open access frameworks for archaeology and related fields. The AAI’s experimental data sharing service, Open Context, is now also in demonstration.

New ALPSP survey of online subscription journals

ALPSP has published a new report by John Cox and Laura Cox, Scholarly Publishing Practice Academic journal publishers’ policies and practices in online publishing. Second Survey, 2005, June 2, 2006. This is the 2005 update of a survey the Coxes did for ALPSP in 2003. The new report is available for purchase, but the press release and executive summary are OA. From the executive summary:

Authors’ rights: in 2003 83 per cent of publishers required authors to transfer copyright in their articles to the publisher. This figure is now 61 per cent, with 21 per cent initially requesting copyright transfer but accepting a licence to publish should this be declined. In respect of the rights of authors to use their own work, the following pattern emerges:

  • Over 90 per cent of large publishers allow articles to be posted prior to peer review and publication; only just over 30 per cent of small publishers do so.
  • Large publishers are more likely to allow articles to be posted after acceptance than small publishers: 90 per cent vs. 40 per cent. Commercial publishers are more likely to accept the practice than not-for profit publishers.
  • 75 per cent of large publishers, but just under 50 per cent of small publishers, allow authors to post published articles websites or institutional repositories. A significant number require the author to post a PDF of the publisher’s version.
  • Publishers are more inclined to allow posting published articles to the author’s own website than to an institutional repository; subject-based repositories are the least popular.
  • One-third of large, 20 per cent of medium-sized and 16 per cent of small publishers apply an embargo to such posting until a specified period after publication has elapsed.
  • 52 per cent of publishers require links from the posted version to the publisher’s version on its site; 21 per cent provide toll-free access when such links are used.
  • Few publishers disallow the reuse of authors’ material within the academic institution or in the author’s own publications, subject to proper acknowledgement of the journal and publisher.

Conclusion: The market for online journals is still in a process of development and experiment; it is only ten years old. Publishers are still grappling with the implications of migrating from a print to an online publishing environment. For the foreseeable future, publishers’ journals will be available in both modes. Nevertheless, there are some important indicators:

  • 90 per cent of journals are now available online, compared with 75 per cent in 2003.
  • Although online pricing is still largely tied to the print price, but new pricing models linked to institutional classification, size or usage are emerging.
  • Publishers are offering options such as pay-per-view or subject bundles, and more functionality such as reference linking. Smaller publishers are participating via their online journal hosting services and by contributing journals to multi-publisher bundles that provide reference linking and pay-per-view facilities.
  • A fifth of publishers are experimenting with open access journals in some form.
  • Access to journal back volumes is becoming an integral part of the online product.
  • All categories of publishers are now extending usage rights in order to be more ‘library friendly’.
  • Although the majority of publishers still require journal authors to assign copyright, the proportion willing to accept a licence to publish has grown significantly in the past two years. Moreover, generally the author is not generally restricted from using the work for personal or institutional purposes.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

IR managers talk shop

Andy Patrizio, Taming the Digital Beast, Campus Technology, June 1, 2006. Excerpt:
Is your digital institutional repository out of control? It’s time to step back and look at contribution, access, rights, storage, and functionality --issues you don’t want to monkey with....

Sharing content has been a leading driver of the digital repository initiative, because, simply put, unshared knowledge isn’t knowledge --it’s a secret....

“It’s still a real push to get people to contribute material to a repository, based on the sense that they will be sharing it,” explains [Scott Siddall, assistant provost and director of Instructional Technology at Dennison University]. “They’ll say, ‘I have a unique collection of such-and-such. Why do I care if my colleague at XYZ University wants access? Why should I take three months to make it available?’” The solution, he maintains, is a different kind of carrot. “Institutions have to say, ‘If you create a unique collection, digitize it, put it up online, and let people access it, that is scholarship; that is valued, and we’re going to count it in promotion and tenure.’ Then people will put it on their radar screen,” says Siddall....

Nine interviews on OA

The June/July issue of Research Information is now online. This issue has a special section on OA, Consensus is difficult in open-access debate, consisting of short interviews by RI's Siân Harris with eight European leaders of the OA movement and one leading skeptic:

Update. Stevan Harnad has posted a corrected version of his interview.

Giving the public access is not the same as giving the public a veto

The Seed blog has a good idea: every week, ask a question, inspire a lot of science bloggers to answer it, and then link to some of the better answers.

Here's the question for this week: "Since they're funded by taxpayer dollars (through the NIH, NSF, and so on), should scientists have to justify their research agendas to the public, rather than just grant-making bodies?"

Clearly this question is not about open access to publicly-funded research. But at least one blogger has written that Americans supporting open access through the recent Harris poll were saying that "the public should be able to vote on what projects/studies/experiments do or do not receive public funding." This is not true. Worse, it's harmful. Misrepresenting OA confuses newcomers and tying OA to a foolish idea makes OA look foolish. If you see this error propagating around the web, please correct it.

Vision of the British Library

Lynne Brindley, Aspirations of the British Library in Serving the International Scientific and Scholarly Communities, the keynote address at the ARL meeting on International Dimensions of Digital Science and Scholarship (Ottawa, May 17-19, 2006). Brindley is the Chief Executive of the British Library. Excerpt:
We have a clear mandate to engage with the new forms of publishing and particularly with the open access and subject repository movement, in the development of tools for virtual communities, and to ensure join up with data repositories and the creators of e-science. There is a quite clearly a role for the national library vis-à-vis questions of quality assurance in the Web environment, in navigation, and in facilitating seamless access across repositories. In terms of the British Library’s role of supporting innovation we have a particular responsibility to ensure support for those small and medium enterprises that do not have the same access to rich and deep collections of digital science as do researchers with well-funded university libraries....

For instinctively --researchers, scholars, libraries, Internet surfers alike-- we sense the potential digital gives us to make the world’s knowledge available to all --wherever in the world it is physically held. Our challenge is how to make this a reality. We need to be listening to our users to ensure we meet their needs. We need to be developing new skills and technologies to deliver added value to our scholarly communities—and sharing that good practice. We need to recognise the difficulties in international collaboration and work together to surmount them.

Report on the Lund conference on biomedical publishing

Christian Gumpenberger, Researchers and Open Access - the new scientific publishing environment, GMS Medizin - Bibliothek - Information, May 31, 2006. (Thanks to medinfo.) A report on the 1st European Conference on Scientific Publishing in Biomedicine and Medicine (Lund, April 21-22, 2006). While the title is in English, the article is in German.

Profile of Harold Varmus

Jamie Shreeve, Free Radical, Wired, June 2006. A profile of Harold Varmus, Nobel laureate, director of the NIH, and co-founder of the Public Library of Science. Excerpt:

For centuries, journals have been the means both of disseminating scientific knowledge and building scientific careers. Accordingly, the journals atop the hierarchy draw the highest-quality submissions, which reinforces their lofty reputations, which in turn enhances the status of the scientists who publish there. This positive feedback loop puts the power in the hands of the journals, even though their existence depends entirely on the scientists who write, edit, and serve as reviewers, usually without compensation. Meanwhile, their colleagues can gain access only through subscriptions that their institutions pay for, sometimes dearly. (A yearly subscription to Brain Research, for instance, costs more than $20,000.) Worse, most of the public – scientists in developing countries, faculty and students in underfunded colleges, high schoolers, patients – have no access at all, even though taxes fund the government grants that support much of the research. Varmus asks: Shouldn’t this ancient system have changed with the Internet, which allows information to be disseminated cheaply and immediately searched, mined, archived, reviewed, and improved?...

“Our mission [at PLoS] is to transform how science publishing is done,” Varmus says. “We aren’t trying to torpedo the industry. But we are definitely going to change it.”...

Varmus is gratified that PLoS has established itself so quickly, but he’s frustrated at how slowly the scientific community is embracing his ideals. On the positive side, more scientists are sharing their work through listservs, preprint archives, and other informal networks that can be easily accessed through new searching and sorting tools like Google Scholar. On the other hand, the scientists at elite universities who can put the most pressure on the journals to change their policies have the least immediate incentive to do so, since they already have access to most of what they require through the subscriptions paid by their institutional libraries. Varmus also acknowledges that it’s easier for a scientist at his exalted level to call for career sacrifices, and things like boycotts, than it is for those still in the trenches to respond.

Behind Varmus’ office desk is a blowup of a photo taken 30 years ago of him paddling a raft down Wind River Country in Wyoming. He wears a fishing vest, his beard is bushy and wild, and he looks ecstatically happy. The picture was shot after his Nobel-worthy work with Michael Bishop appeared in Nature.  “I’d like to think that if I could do it over again, I would publish it in an open-access journal,” he says - adding, however, that he knows the thrill of appearing in the most prestigious journal. “The change will come when scientists understand that they are in control. The publishers need us more than we need them.”

Update. The Chronicle of Higher Education has a short summary of the Wired article in its June 5 issue (accessible only to subscribers).

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

More on OA to avian flu data

Declan Butler, Breaking the silence: “If this was a test to see whether Indonesia could contain a virus, they failed miserably” Declan Butler, Reporter, May 31, 2006. Excerpt:

Plans by the World Health Organization (WHO) to try to slow or contain a pandemic show that to have any hope of success these would require rapid and decisive action within at most a three-week window from the emergence of a pandemic virus. But the handling of the cluster in Indonesia, as described in [a front-page article I’ve published in Nature tonight], is one of delays and confusion....

To understand the genetics, and link this to the epidemiology and pathology of the virus, we need immediate sharing of all virus samples and data. None of this is happening adequately. National governments’ performance is half-hearted, incomplete and far too slow. International organizations are working with their hands tied behind their backs, for bureaucratic and diplomatic reasons. In short, the level of current efforts is not commensurate with the threat we face.”...

So apparently, no one is opposed to depositing the sequences in Genbank immediately, but no one is taking the decision to do so. In the Nature editorial, “Dreams of flu data” [PS: blogged here 3/20/06] we argued: “....When samples are sequenced, the results are usually either restricted by governments or kept private to an old-boy network of researchers linked to the WHO, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the FAO. This is a far cry from the Human Genome Project, in which all the data were placed in the public domain 24 hours after sequencing. Many scientists and organizations are also hoarding sequence data, often for years, so they can be the first to publish in academic journals. With the world facing a possible pandemic, such practices are wholly unacceptable. Nature and its associated journals are not alone in supporting the rapid prior exposure of data when there are acute public-health necessities. Three cheers, then, to Ilaria Capua of the Tri-Veneto Region Experimental Animal Health Care Institute in Italy, who last month threw down the gauntlet to her colleagues by refusing to put her latest data on Nigeria and Italy in these private networks. Instead she uploaded them to GenBank and called on her colleagues worldwide to do likewise. Only in this way can researchers establish and track the global pattern of the evolution of the bird-flu virus.”

Is it perhaps time for the Human Genome Project’s “Bermuda Agreement” on sequence deposition to be applied to all H5N1 sequences?

PS: For background see my April article on OA to avian flu data.

New IR at Indian research institute

Copyright and access barriers in Southern Africa

Andrew Rens, Achal Prabhala, and Dick Kawooya, Intellectual Property, Education and Access to Knowledge in Southern Africa, Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa, 2006. Excerpt:

Books are still largely inaccessible in the south – whether on account of high cost, unsuitability of language and format, or, even more simply, plain unavailability. The open access textbook, on the other hand, costs as much as it does to print and can be available wherever necessary. Even a visible scarcity of knowledge goods in the main languages spoken in southern Africa could be alleviated by the permission-free translation choices presented by open access, since access to cultural goods in turn produces producers of cultural goods. The point to bear in mind is that access as a strategy is not predicated on the assumption that students of the south are ‘consumers’ (and that professors of the north are ‘producers’), but rather, that a complex, interdependent relationship exists between consumption and production – and furthermore, that access to cultural goods is a necessary and significant factor to stimulate production....

[T]he challenge is not insurmountable. In this case, the current needs and potential benefits of expanding access, combined, present a credible case for serious and urgent intervention....

Our scan of the learning environment in southern Africa suggests a serious problem in respect of access to knowledge goods. While there are several factors complicit in producing this access gap, several of the identified problems (excessive pricing, unavailability and unsuitability of material, and government/ institutional resource constraints) can be traced, in significant part, to intellectual property law....Ironically, it is precisely in this disabling legal environment that the SACU [Southern African Customs Union] countries are being asked – by domestic and international publishing industry lobbies – to strengthen the enforcement of criminal sanctions for certain copyright violations, even as they constitute an access mechanism in a context that offers few alternatives.

More on the Harris poll

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has issued a press release on the poll:

In an online survey of public attitudes conducted recently and released today by Harris Interactive, 8 out of 10 (82%) adults polled said they believe that “if tax dollars pay for scientific research, people should have free access to the results of the research on the Internet.”

In addition, six out of 10 (62%) adults believe that if these research results are easily available (for free and online), it will help speed up finding potential cures for diseases....

“This expression of support from the American public demonstrates that the demand for public access has reached a critical juncture,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, an ATA founding member). “As scientists work to counter the Avian flu, develop energy alternatives, and grapple with climate change, public access to taxpayer-funded research is more important than ever. The public recognizes its stake in open sharing of research, and the Harris data gives voice to their stand.”

“The poll results show that research must be a collaborative, informed process between investigators and the public to be successful and increase trust,” said Robert Reinhard, community advisor to NIH's AIDS vaccine trials. “Time and again the lesson is that improved knowledge in the community furthers the public health agenda.”

The ATA also links to the following files of survey results:

Download six pages in PDF.

A. Since this research is paid for by tax dollars, the results should be easily available (free and online) to doctors. [JPG]

B. If tax dollars pay for scientific research, people should have free access to the results of the research on the Internet. [JPG]

C. Having this information easily available (for free and online) will help those living with a chronic illness or disability get the latest information which will assist people coping with that chronic illness or disability. [JPG]

D. If these research results are easily available (for free and online), it will help speed up finding potential cures for diseases. [JPG]

E. Regardless of who pays for the research, it’s better for scientific journals to publish the information and make it available by paid subscription. [JPG]

Methodology [JPG]

83% of Americans want OA to publicly funded research

Harris Poll, Most Americans Back Online Access To Federally Funded Research, Wall Street Journal, May 31, 2006. Excerpt:

A majority of U.S. adults say federally funded research findings on health issues and other topics should be available for free to doctors and the general public, according to a recent Harris Interactive poll.

In an online survey of 2,501 U.S. adults, more than 80% of Americans say they agree strongly or somewhat that research should be available for free via the Internet because the research is paid for with U.S. tax dollars.

In addition, 81% of Americans say they agree strongly or somewhat that access to such research data will help those living with a chronic illness or disability to get the latest information that might assist them.

And 62% of Americans say they agree strongly or somewhat that making the information available online and for free "will help speed up finding potential cures for diseases," compared to 10% who disagree somewhat or strongly.

A table of the full results is included in the article but I don't have room to insert it here.

Comment. This is a shot in the arm for the CURES Act and FRPAA, the two bills now before Congress that would mandate OA to publicly-funded research. Scientists and scholars may not carry much weight in Washington these days, but strong poll numbers from a respected pollster are hard to ignore.

I suspect that these poll results could be replicated in most countries around the world. Could a UK version of this poll save the draft RCUK OA policy from being weakened by publisher lobbying?

Update. When I first posted this news, the poll itself was not yet online at the Harris web site. But now it is.

Five more OA journals from Hindawi

From today's announcement:
Hindawi Publishing Corporation is pleased to announce the addition of the following five journals to its Open Access journal collection:

The first two journals are new launches, while the remaining three journals were previously published as subscription-based journals and are being re-launched using the Open Access model. All articles shall be distributed under the “Creative Commons Attribution License,” which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

All back volumes of the “Laser Chemistry,” “Texture, Stress, and Microstructure,” and “VLSI Design” will be made freely available online. Some back volumes are already available, while the remaining volumes are being retro-digitized and will be made freely available as soon as the retro-digitization is complete.

Hindawi expects its Open Access journal collection to reach 60 titles by the end of 2006 and is planning further expansions in 2007.

PS: Kudos to Hindawi for another giant step forward.

Switch from print to online increases STM publisher revenue

Bobby Pickering, Euro online info market in rude health, Information World Review, May 31, 2006. Excerpt:

IRN Research has released its annual report on the state of the European online information market, showing a 14% increase in total market value in 2005, which it estimates at €3,513m (£2,407m).

The consultancy expects further growth of 9% in 2006 and 7.7% in 2007. It said revenue switching from traditional hard copy sources to online services is the main factor behind this growth, especially in legal, tax and regulatory (LTR) and scientific, technical and medical (STM) information markets.

More on OA to clinical trial data

GlaxoSmithKline now provides OA to summaries of more than 2,600 clinical drug trials on 52 drugs. (Thanks to Research Research.) From GSK's May 24 press release:

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) reports today that it has now made available to the public detailed summaries of more than 2,600 clinical trials conducted in 50 countries to study 52 GSK prescription medicines and vaccines.  The information is found in the GSK Clinical Trial Register....

In the current issue of The Lancet, [Frank] Rockhold [Senior Vice President, Biomedical Data Sciences] and Ronald Krall, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, GSK, note the growing potential of databases like the GSK Register and the possible need for medical journals to adjust policies that discourage publication of data initially appearing online.  “We would urge medical journals to ensure that their prior-publication policies do not unduly restrict researchers who wish to put research results online in a timely fashion,” Rockhold said.

Comment. As recently as December 2005, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) rated the major drug companies on their compliance with its data sharing standards, and criticized GSK for providing "meaningless entries" on a key data field in an "astonishingly" high number of cases. I have no idea whether the new GSK data summaries are any better and hope the ICMJE will weigh in on that. But I applaud Rockhold and Krall for calling on journals not to let the Ingelfinger rule block early OA to data.

Note the interesting reciprocity here. Editors of prestigious medical journals (ICMJE) demand that drug companies provide OA to their data. In fact they refuse to publish articles on clinical trials whose underlying data are not OA. Good move. A drug company criticizes journal editors (not necessarily the same editors) for deterring OA to data and calls on them to remove the obstacles. Good move. Both moves are very welcome and turn-about is fair play. But at the same time, both houses need to be put in order. Drug companies not yet complying with the call for full and meaningful data sharing need to start. Journal editors still deterring OA to data need to stop. For that matter, ICMJE editors need to see that OA to articles is as important as OA to data.

Sudan launches OA digital library

Sudan: Open-access digital library launched, Reuters, May 31, 2006. Excerpt:
The Rift Valley Institute (RVI) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday launched the Sudan Open Archive, an open-access digital library for Sudan, containing documents that until now were largely unavailable in digital form. "It is a dynamic, expanding archive," said John Ryle, chair of RVI. "Our aim is to put in historical and contemporary materials of all kinds."

The first phase of the archive involved the digitisation of around 500 documents drawn from the records of Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), the international relief effort that started in 1989. "A lot of the documents were just stuffed away in containers in Khartoum, Juba, Lokichokio and Nairobi," Ryle said. "The digital archive can bring together material from all over the place, which is exactly the problem in Sudan - documents are all over the place."

More on OA for lay readers

John Udell, Re-imagining education, John Udell's Weblog, May 30, 2006. Excerpt:

I've been thinking a lot about how ascendant uses of the Internet -- including blogging, podcasting, screencasting, and social software -- could transform education in the way that television was supposed to but of course never did....[W]e're approaching a dual inflection point: widespread access to existing knowledge, coupled with a widespread ability to publish new knowledge.  A compelling analysis of how these trends can improve education, and why that improved educational system will be the right one for the 21st century, comes from John Willinsky, whose podcast talk on these subjects I found by way of Brian Lamb.

Among his themes, Willinsky talks about how he, as a reading specialist, would never have predicted what has now become routine. Patients with no ability to read specialized medical literature are, nonetheless, doing so, and then arriving in their doctors’ offices asking well-informed questions. Willinsky (only semi-jokingly) says the Canadian Medical Association decided this shouldn’t be called "patient intimidation" but, rather, "shared decision-making."

How can level 8 readers absorb level 14 material? There are only two factors that govern reading success, Willinsky says: motivation, and context. When you're sick, or when a loved one is sick, your motivation is a given. As for context:

They don't have a context? They build a context. The first time they get a medical article, duh, I don't know what's going on here, I can't read the title. But what happened when I did that search? I got 20 other articles on the same topic. And of those 20, one of them, I got a start on. It was from the New York Times, or the Globe and Mail, and when I take that explanation back to the medical research, I've got a context. And then when I go into the doctor's office...and actually, one of the interesting that a study showed that 65% of the doctors who had had this experience of patient intimidation shared decision-making said the research was new to them, and they were kind of grateful, because they don't have time to check every new development.

...Access to knowledge, access to publishing. Motivation and context. If an educational system embraced these principles, what would it look like? Willinsky challenges us to figure it out, and anyone with a stake in education -- which is to say, everyone -- should be asking and trying to answer that question.

The culture war over access to scientific publications

Richard Seitmann, Ketten der Wissensgesellschaft - Der Kulturkampf über den Zugang zu wissenschaftlichen Veröffentlichungen verschärft sich, c't, May 29, 2006, pp. 190-99. Not online or OA, at least so far. (Thanks to netbib.)

Update. The article is now OA. Read the original German or Google's English.

OA can help the Swiss social sciences

Geisteswissenschaften - Opfer der Expansion, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, May 29, 2005. An unsigned news story on the journal pricing crisis in the Swiss social sciences and OA as part of the solution. (Thanks to netbib.)

More on the dual deposit/release policy

Stevan Harnad, Plugging the Loopholes in the Proposed FRPAA, RCUK and EU Self-Archiving Mandates, Open Access Archivangelism, May 27, 2006. Excerpt:

The two changes are small but absolutely crucial:

(1) Mandate immediate deposit for all accepted papers (rather than mandating deposit only after an interval determined by the publishers, or after a fixed 6-month embargo).

(2) Only recommend (rather than mandate) immediately setting the access to each deposit as Open Access (OA): allow the option of setting access instead as Closed Access (CA) where deemed necessary (i.e., where it is thought that immediately setting access as OA would contravene the author's copyright agreement with the publisher)....

The US is probably the only country in the world that has enough collective weight to go even further, because it represents such a large proportion of the authorship of so many journals, and of the funding of so much published research: The US can, I think, with impunity put a cap (of six months, or even less) on the maximal allowable embargo period. The Wellcome Trust has already done this, telling their authors: "If your publisher does not agree to a cap of 6 months on the embargo, choose another publisher!" Wellcome, however, has the advantage, for this admirable and bold move, that they are a private funder. So all an author can do, if he does not like the Wellcome terms, is to choose another funder....

[T]he Dual Deposit/Release (DD/R) policy...does not require either switching publishers or contravening the terms of their copyright agreement. It allows embargoed access-setting but mandates immediate deposit (and then semi-automatic email-eprint requests in the repository software will take care of any gap-period in which the metadata are visible and accessible but the full-text is Closed Access)....

Canadian Education Ministers want fewer access barriers to online educational content

The Canadian Council of Ministers of Education (CMEC) wants to amend Canadian copyright law in order to improve access to online content. From yesterday's press release:
"Because copyright legislation impacts directly on our policies and practices in classrooms across Canada, we are most concerned with fair and reasonable Internet access for students and teachers in their educational pursuits," says Minister [Jamie] Muir, whose consortium represents education ministers in Canada with the exception of the province of Quebec....

Education Minister Muir comments that the Canadian Music Creators Coalition's recent meetings with the federal ministers have captured the public's interest in the anticipated copyright legislation. He says, "Like these musicians, the education community is very concerned about the new legislation. We want the new Copyright Bill to reflect the reality of Internet usage today and not support outdated and unsustainable business models that limit access to publicly available Internet materials."...

"For the education community, we believe a large part of the Internet is in the public domain, and we don't want to see Canadian-made fences placed on the Internet's public space. We simply don't want the establishment of restrictive measures that will negatively affect the quality of education for today's Internet-surfing generation and for future Canadian students and educators." Minister Muir adds, "We believe that Canadian students and educators have a right to use publicly available materials on the Internet without a copyright collective charging a licensing fee for access."...

"Bill C-60 was wholly inadequate from the perspective of the education community because it failed to address the educational use of the Internet....Our proposed education amendment would allow access to publicly available Internet materials while respecting the rights of those creators who post on-line for commercial purposes. In our proposal, students and teachers would be able to access those on-line materials that are 'free.' Those materials posted on-line for commercial enterprise would still require payment should students and teachers wish to access and use them."....

New blog for data sharing in archaeology

Digging Digitally is a new blog for news and discussion from the Digital Data Interest Group (DDIG) of the Society for American Archaeology. Because DDIG is especially interested in data sharing, the new blog is likely to cover OA issues regularly. Check it out.

Straight talk about OA and its critics

David Flaxbart, Public Science, Public Access, Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Spring 2006. An editorial. Excerpt:

Advocates for open access to the scientific literature were heartened recently by the surprising introduction of a Senate bill that would require most recipients of federal research funds to make their findings freely available within six months of publication. The "Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006" would expand and add teeth to the watered-down NIH policy which has been ignored by the vast majority of life scientists since its introduction in 2005. FRPAA is even more remarkable given that its co-sponsor, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), is otherwise known for an aggressive pro-business stance.

Naturally, it didn't take long for the publishing industry's lobbyists, led by the eminently hissable American Association of Publishers, to shake off their cocktail-circuit stupor and begin frothing at the mouth at this dangerous exercise in socialist engineering. They immediately trotted out their tired and discredited mantras about the loss of subscription revenue, removal of investment incentives, and threats to peer review, in addition to the accusations that the government is trying to fix a system that -- for them at least -- isn't broken.

Brian Crawford, a vice president of the American Chemical Society, mouthed this ludicrous statement in an AAP press release: "Americans have easy access to scientific and medical literature through public libraries, state universities, existing private-sector online databases, as well as through their professional, academic, or business affiliations, [and] low-cost online individual article sales." While this absurd claim won't fool anybody with real-life experience, these and other inaccurate sound bites could be swallowed whole by politicians and policy makers inclined to oppose government intervention.

It is sad that some of the loudest anti-OA rhetoric is coming from some non-profit publishers and societies who should really know better by now, and whose pretense at protecting the integrity of science has long since been exposed as a ploy to protect their revenue streams.... Journals are actively abdicating any responsibility for investigating fraud, which further erodes their credibility (Altman 2006). Publishers' persistent defense of this tattered fig leaf of "added value" is starting to sound rather desperate....

The issue of public access to publicly funded science isn't going away, despite publishers' hopes to the contrary. Open access may not be the panacea to cure all the ills of a collapsing system, but it is vital that it be allowed to demonstrate its impact, good or bad, in a fair and objective arena. To that end, all stakeholders in the scholarly communication community should unite to support this bill and refute its knee-jerk detractors.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

OA "really helps to get the job done"

Quoting an anonymous researcher on LiveJournal (May 29):
I switched companies last year....I noticed, while trawling through the recent literature, that there appears to be an increased tendency for articles to cite other articles where the text is available freely (e.g. jounals like the excellent Drug Metabolism and Disposition) and is a simple click away when you find it through PubMed. Naturally if there is a key reference and it occurs in an obscure and/or closed-text publication it will be cited as a matter of course but, if there's a choice between the two, the free option appears to win more often. Those personal libraries of free PDF or HTML files make searching and citing very easy, while for the special requests most electronic retrieval facilities only supply inconvenient TIFFs of scanned documents instead. I'm glad that a journal's impact factor does not depend on it being pay-only and less accessible. In fact some of the free journals have very high impact factors. I know that money has to be made at some point but I really appreciate the open access journals and thank their publishers for making them available. It really helps to get the job done.

Review of Open J-Gate

Henk Ellermann, Open J-Gate, In Between, May 29, 2006. Excerpt:

Some time ago, while drawing my reader's attention to an article in Cites and Insights by Walt Crawford, I mentioned Open J-Gate as an alternative to the DOAJ. There I followed Walt Crawford by saying that the standards for inclusion are lower for Open J-Gate than for DOAJ.  In a comment to that posting, N V Sathyanarayana, disagreed with that qualification. Open J-Gate indeed indexes more journals, but they do make clear which journals are peer reviewed and which ones are not. One can also restrict searches to peer reviewed journals only. The main difference between DOAJ and Open J-Gate is not so much the quality of the indexed papers, but the fact that DOAJ is a true directory of open access journals, while Open J-Gate offers an index (of metadata), of the journals. Both services do offer a click-able list of titles.  So I have to agree with N V Sathyanarayana that Open J-Gate is not just about "lower standards" for inclusion than DOAJ. It is a different service....

[A]lthough I admit that my previous qualification was (a tad) unjust, I still have a few minor problems with this service. First, it mentions the Open Access [sic] Initiative and calls it OAI. Now, OAI usually stands for the Open Archives Initiative. Is this a mix up or am I missing something?...Second, there are a number of links that don’t work....Third, the articles are indexed based on metadata (including abstracts some of the time), not on the full text. DOAJ does offer full text searching on a (relatively) small number of articles and it would be nice of Open J-Gate would offer a similar service.

Fourth, The journals are classified using a three-layer hierarchy, but the hierarchy is not presented clearly (DOAJ does a better job here). It is only presented on their advanced search screen where it can be used (only) to limit a search term. It would be nice of such an hierarchy could be used for browsing too.

There is ample room for improvement therefore. Having said that, Open J-Gate has become one of my fav sites (on

ALPSP response to the EC report

The ALPSP has released its response (May 30, 2006) to the EC report and its OA recommendations (March 31, 2006). Excerpt:

Although the study was an independent one and has been published as the basis for consultation, from which policy decisions may subsequently follow, the Commission’s own press release did not mention that the study was independent, and thus implied that its conclusions and recommendations were supported by the Commission....

We are concerned at the suggestion that the EC should mandate self-archiving for the results of EC-funded research. The primary output of most research is data; in their raw form (before any third party has invested in making it usable and retrievable through a database) we fully support the view that such data should indeed, be freely available. The same could be said of any project reports submitted to the funder. However, bringing to the market, through a reputable journal, one or more articles which describe and interpret the findings is a costly business. Great care is necessary to ensure that any alternative free access does not undermine the journals in which scholars wish to publish their work....Different time delays of up to a year or even longer may be necessary, depending on whether the subject is a rapidlymoving one, and on the frequency of publication of the journal; a fixed period should not be arbitrarily imposed by the research funder....

Where the article is made freely available by the publisher (whether in a wholly or partly Open Access journal, or as a special arrangement with the funder) it is preferable that users have access to the version on the publisher’s site where it will include all the functionality added by the publisher, such as links to cited articles and supplementary materials. In no circumstances should the funder or any other third party take the author’s manuscript and ‘re-publish’ it with functionality which competes with that added by the publisher....

The authors appear to recognise (page 71) that, once all or most of a journal’s content was easily accessible in free archives, journal subscriptions would be adversely affected. We are already finding that, where this is the case (e.g. in physics and related disciplines) downloads on the publisher’s own site are falling dramatically as usage migrates to the free site. While librarians do not yet see free archives as a substitute for subscriptions – they would need to contain near to 100% of a journal’s content for this to be the case – they do already see usage as an important driver of cancellation decisions. We therefore fear that it can only be a matter of time before cancellations follow.

Comment. I've often replied to the concern that mandated self-archiving will harm journal subscriptions. But to recap quickly: on the one hand, all the evidence to date suggests that there is no harm, even in fields where the rate of self-archiving approaches 100%. And on the other hand, even if there will be harm, the public interest in public access to publicly-funded research takes priority over the economic interests of a private-sector industry. The ALPSP response emphasizes the fear of economic harm to journals, but doesn't even address the second fork in this two-prong debate, why the economic prosperity of publishers (even if proved to be at stake in these policies) should trump the public interest. As I put it in SOAN for 11/2/04, "publishers who object to [national OA policies] are defending the remarkable proposition that they should control access to research conducted by others, written up by others, and funded by taxpayers."

Monday, May 29, 2006

New discussion list on OA journals

Stephen V. Pomes has launched a Yahoo group and discussion list on open access journals.

Moving toward OA at the University of Konstanz

Karlheinz Pappenberger, Strategien zur Umsetzung von Open Access an der UB Konstanz, a presentation at German Librarian Day in Dresden, March 22, 2006. Self-archived May 25, 2006. In German, but here's Google's English version of the abstract:
Strategies for the conversion of open ACCESS at the UB Konstanz. Open ACCESS is not in the reason a new thought, but converts the most characteristic task of libraries on a new technical basis: Not to withhold information a singular use, whereby a free simultaneous world-wide use is possible technically for the first time. Libraries must create a suitable surrounding field for scientists as intermediaries of the scientific discussion that these open ACCESS publications notice and both when author and and readers use. The experiences at the library of the University of Konstanz show that for this a close co-operation with the scientists and the consideration of their specialized specific functions are important.

Access to knowledge seminar in Ukraine

Advocacy for access to knowledge: International seminar on copyright and libraries in Kiev, UNESCO News, May 29, 2006. Excerpt:
[At the] end of last week, the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Kiev, Ukraine, played host to experts from across the region at an international seminar on the role of libraries and access to knowledge....Thirty specialist librarians from twenty-five countries debated how copyright law impacts on access to information and knowledge, especially in the digital age and discussed policies and strategies to safeguard future access to our cultural and scientific heritage....

“Librarians must defend the interests of students, researchers and the general public who use the library. We must ensure that copyright is an enabler of access to knowledge, not a barrier. That is what this seminar is about”, says Teresa Hackett, Project Manager eIFL-IP.

Organised by Electronic Information for Libraries ( and local partner Informatio Consortium, the event is supported by UNESCO's Information for All Programme. High level speakers from Egypt, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Ukraine and the UK shared their expertise with participants in what was a lively two days of learning and debate....

PS: I can't find a URL for the seminar itself yet. But if I do, I'll post it here.

Update. Here's the URL for the seminar. (Thanks to Rima Kupryte.)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Thinking about the ideal free information resource

Lawrence M. Sanger, The Future of Free Information, Digital Universe Journal, 2006. Sanger is one of the co-founders of the Digital Universe.
Abstract: The ideal information resource would feature high quality of content (i.e., be accurate and complete) as well as high accessibility (i.e., excel in availability, ease of use, and interactivity). This very programmatic paper first describes these various features and their implications. Then it applies the set of features to some extant resources, arguing that the ideal information resource does not yet exist. The paper speculates that, in the future, there will be little debate whether a startlingly new and better information resource is possible, because that much will be taken for granted; the debate will concern what the resource’s main features should be. Aiming to foster this debate, the paper concludes with a list of topics needed to be addressed to fully justify an answer to the question, “What would the ideal information resource look like?”

From the body of the article:

Outside of a few corporate talking heads and curmudgeons, there has been little opposition to open source and open content, probably because there is no good reason to be opposed to making freely-distributed information as widely available as possible—but also because the profits of proprietary projects have not yet seen much threat from these projects. It seems unlikely that all of the world’s information will be open content in the future; as long as authors, artists, and coders perceive no other viable model but traditional intellectual property to support their work, many of them will be opposed to simply “giving away” their work. But increasingly large segments of academe, government, and the general public, whose livelihoods do not depend on payment for specific pieces of work, have shown themselves to be perfectly willing to release their work under a license that makes it as widely available as possible. This trend is thriving.

OA archive in cultural studies

Culture Machine, an OA journal and archive, is trying to build up deposits in its archive. From today's announcement:

Culture Machine is looking for contributions to a digital archive for media and cultural studies texts and related materials. The archive, called CSeARCH (which stands for Cultural Studies e-Archive), is completely free to both download from and upload into. What's more, recent figures suggest that research published as 'open access' is between two and four times more likely to be read and cited than if it is just published in print-on-paper form....

This will let you browse the archive as well as read and download its contents for free. It already contains over 500 books, book chapters,journal articles, interviews, lectures and so on, from Abbas and Agamben, through McRobbie and Poster, to Williams and Zizek....

We realise it’s going to take a little time to grow. But one of the ideas behind open access archives is that if everyone deposits a digital copy of their published material in the archive, then it means that all the media and cultural studies research is going to be available for students, teachers, lecturers and researchers to use anywhere in the world, for free, for ever (as opposed to being restricted just to those individuals and institutions who can afford to pay for access to it in the form of journal subscriptions, books cover prices, interlibrary loans, photocopying charges etc., as is the case now)....

More from the OA rector

Bernard Rentier, Accès libre, suite, a posting on his blog, May 28, 2006. Rentier, the Rector of the University of Liege, responds to comments he received on his May 20 blog posting in support of OA. Read the original French or Google's English.