Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Web-based, open-source journal management for OA journals

C.R. Blesius and four co-authors, An open source model for open access journal publication, AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings, 2005. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:
Abstract: We describe an electronic journal publication infrastructure that allows a flexible publication workflow, academic exchange around different forms of user submissions, and the exchange of articles between publishers and archives using a common XML based standard. This web-based application is implemented on a freely available open source software stack. This publication demonstrates the Dermatology Online Journal's use of the platform for non-biased independent open access publication.

Comment. The volume of proceedings is toll-access only and I don't have access. Does anyone know which web-based, open-source journal management package this article is talking about? If anyone can send me a URL for the software, I'll post it here.

Unfortunately, the Dermatology Journal Online web site doesn't say anything about the journal-management software it uses. It does, however, provide OA to its articles through eScholarship, the U of California institutional repository.

Making OA editions of classical texts credible and useful to scholars

Larry Sanger, Textop as a potential archive of well-edited free texts, Larry Sanger's blog, June 17, 2006. Sanger is the Director of the Text Outline project. (Disclosure: I'm on the Textop advisory board.) Excerpt:

There are dozens of large collections of texts (or of links to texts) available online, but only a few of them is of very high quality. Most of them you might find through a Google search are full of broken links, and have few or no notes as to who transcribed the texts, or how, or from what source.

If anyone has a source of texts that is (1) free, (2) comprehensive (contains a large part of “the canon” of Western literature at least), and (3) well-documented and constructed according to a reliable method, I will update this post with a link to the source.  The best I know of are these:  [1] The Online Books Page, [2] Project Gutenberg (of course), [3] Internet Archive: The Open-Access Text Archive....

The Open-Access Text Archive ( has the potential to become the best because it scans the original book, which (I think) usually provides all the information a scholar might need. The problem with its offerings is the idiosyncratic selection and the sometimes spotty proofing. In my own use of the resource I’ve come across several texts that were incomplete and had no indication of why. But that’s really being nit-picky. I expect great things from the Open Content Alliance, which manages this project.

The Text Outline Project has the potential to be a magnet for high-quality texts, however, because, unlike all of the above websites, it has a mission that requires texts that are credible to scholars. For me, as a scholar, there is no other way forward....The texts that we collate must be credible texts. If we must essentially create new editions, then so be it....Imagine, if you will, an entire library placed into a single database in which you can choose from a wide variety of categories to search. Imagine that you can search not just the texts of books (something not very hard to do now-there are many tools available), but outline headings, and text chunk summaries (this is Textop jargon) as well; imagine that you can return either text references (as a concordance or index does), or just outline headings, or text chunks; and imagine that you can do this all in multiple languages from the same interface (this last assumes we solve the hard problem of internationalization). Quite aside from the value of the outline itself, the value simply of having credible texts viewable and searchable all in one place, in multiple languages, as part of a single database, would be tremendous for scholars.

OA for public geospatial data in Europe

If you remember (one, two, three), geospatial researchers have been working for years to modify the draft INSPIRE Directive on European Spatial Data Infrastructure because it would require cost-recovery rather than open access for public geospatial data. It appears that researchers have won the day. From a posting to the Geo-Discuss list by Rufus Pollock (June 15):
A quick look through [the latest draft] seems to indicate the text was amended as the ENVI committee had recommended and that most of the really bad stuff from the Council version was taken out (see examples below) so three cheers for the Parliament (and the Commission!)....

Amendment 21....[1] Member States shall ensure that: (a) the services referred to in point (a) of Article 11(1) are available to the public free of charge....

PS: Congratulations to Public Geo Data for this significant victory.

Open data, mashups, and re-usefulness

Eric K. Neumann, Freeing Data, Keeping Structure, BioIT, June 14, 2006. Excerpt:

Mashups illustrate the proposition that data need to not be too dependent on any single application. Typically, the phrase “data interoperability” is used to describe this, and several methodologies such as SOA attempt to address this issue. However, I will go one step further and suggest that recombinant data must be captured and defined in a way that is “application independent,” being free of any application formatting biases so that it has value on its own....Data should have strong value even for future applications that were not considered when the data was created, a property referred to as “re-usefulness.”...

Science Commons...executive director John Wilbanks hopes that by adding the ability to tag the legal use and distribution of knowledge and data, Web-based science resources can be guaranteed to be openly available for both academic and commercial R&D, and thereby promote innovation in science by lowering the legal and technical costs of the sharing and reuse of scientific work. Science Commons’ vision fits very well to the goals of Public Library of Science (PLoS), which aims to empower the science community by making published knowledge more accessible. Since rights cover data as well, it can also take full advantage of the RDF model for its representation. Such an experiment has been initiated for Science Commons’ NeuroCommons project....

Where is this taking us? Well we have hardly explored how to do a scientific mashup or what it means to take advantage of it. One thing is clear: If it is based on recombinant scientific data, a data description language such as RDF is necessary. Otherwise, the mashups will result in mush, unusable piles of unparsable data with unknown provenance! One of the project areas people are currently discussing is around a Neuroscience Mashup, where complex sets of data could all be co-joined by tissue locality as defined by a brain coordinate system. Data about neurological disorders, neurotransmitter receptor-types, neural functions, nerve fiber projections, and gene expression could all be co-registered for very powerful analyses and viewing. This scientific mashup would allow collaborating researchers to ask: “What genes are affected in responsive neural cells targeted by p38 inhibitors, and do these same cells go on to form amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s-affected individuals?” Conceivably, this could have astounding benefits for research and medicine, but we’ll need to begin with a few incremental yet provocative demonstrations.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Last call to comment on the EC report

If you haven't yet sent in a comment on the EC report and its OA recommendations, it's not too late. The deadline has passed, but the sponsors will still accept comments.

In the 108 page report, Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication Markets in Europe, the recommendations are on pp. 11-13. For a summary, see my SOAN story from May 2 or my blog posting from April 3. Note especially recommendation A1, which would mandate OA for publicly-funded research.

Send your comment to Even a short comment in support of recommendation A1 would be better than no comment at all. The door may not be open much longer.

Presentations on OA repositories for Europe

The presentations from the EC meeting, European Infrastructure for Repositories of Scientific Information (Brussels, June 8-9, 2006), are now online.

Update. Also see John Martin's report, Conclusions of the Workshop. (Thanks to Richard Hardwick.) Key excerpt: "Recommendations for FP7:...Open access publication mandated for publicly funded research."

Review of OA Human Protein Atlas

A. Persson, S. Hober, and M. Uhlen, A human protein atlas based on antibody proteomics, Current Opinion in Molecular Therapeutics, June 2006 (accessible only to subscribers).
Abstract: The Human Protein Atlas is a comprehensive database that provides the protein expression profiles for a large number of human proteins, presented as immunohistological images from most human tissues. This review provides an overview of the contents of the atlas, discusses the project strategy and highlights the importance of open access for data validation and quality. Essential procedures that are implemented during antibody production and image generation, such as the use of protein epitope signature tags (PrEST) antigens, monospecific antibodies, tissue microarrays and thorough quality validation, are also discussed. The Human Protein Atlas is related to four other expression atlas initiatives, including, in particular, an upcoming protein atlas developed by the Sanger Institute.

Call for an OA database on resistance to antimalaria drugs

Carol Hopkins Sibley and Pascal Ringwald, A database of antimalarial drug resistance, Malaria Journal, June 15, 2006.
Abstract (provisional): A large investment is required to develop, license and deploy a new antimalarial drug. Too often, that investment has been rapidly devalued by the selection of parasite populations resistant to the drug action. To understand the mechanisms of selection, we need detailed information on the patterns of drug use in a variety of environments, and the geographic and temporal patterns of resistance that result. Currently, there is no publically accessible central database that contains information on the levels of resistance to antimalaria drugs. This paper outlines the resources that are available, and the steps that might be taken to create a dynamic, open access database that would include current and historical data on clinical efficacy, in vitro responses and molecular markers related to drug resistance in P. falciparum and P. vivax. The goal is to include historical and current data on resistance to commonly used drugs like chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, and on the many combinations that are now being tested in different settings. The database will be accessible to all on the Web. The information in such a database will inform optimal utilization of current drugs and sustain the longest possible therapeutic life of newly introduced drugs and combinations. The database will protect the valuable investment represented by the development and deployment of novel therapies for malaria.

Wellcome digitizes a million pages for OA

Kim Thomas, Wellcome Trust digitisation hits million page mark, Information World Review, June 16, 2006. Excerpt:
The Wellcome Trust has completed the first million pages of its project to digitise nearly 200 years’ worth of medical journals. The project, which started in 2004, is creating a digital archive that will offer free access to medical journals via PubMed Central, the online medical service from the US National Institutes of Health. The earliest archived journal dates from 1809, but the archive will also encompass current and future journals.

“It’s a living archive,” said Robert Kiley, head of systems strategy at medical research funding charity Wellcome Trust. He added that participating publishers have agreed to make all future content freely available online within 12 months of publication. “Once we’ve digitised a journal, if the publisher wants a copy itself for its own website, it can do that,” he said.

As well as digitising the content, the project, funded jointly by the Wellcome Trust and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), is creating a PDF file for every article in the archive. All the text is also being put through an optical character recognition process, making it possible to carry out free-text searches.

Kiley said that the project had been “subject to heavy and sustained use”. The Biochemical Journal has had more than one million articles downloaded in an eight month period, he said. The next journal to be digitised will be the British Medical Journal, a source of several ground breaking studies.

More on the House action to mandate OA at the NIH

Jocelyn Kaiser, NIH gets off to a slow start, Science Magazine, June 16, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Most of the article is about the NIH's flat budget for the next year and the title reflects that emphasis. But this excerpt focuses on the call for an OA mandate:
A House spending panel last week endorsed a flat budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) --but told the make mandatory a voluntary program in which grantees submit their accepted manuscripts to a free online archive....

The spending bill would...require researchers to post a copy of every manuscript they generate using NIH funds in the agency’s free, full-text PubMed Central archive within 12 months after publication in a journal. The committee resisted calls from open-access advocates to require posting within 6 months, which many scientific societies fear could bankrupt journals that provide funds for their other activities. “The 12 months is a positive step,” says Martin Frank, executive director of the American Physiological Society. The bill moves to the floor later this month and then to the Senate....

The OA impact advantage in one more field

Terry Anderson, Open Access in Action! International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, June 2006. An editorial. Excerpt:

Mid 2006 finds the academic research community engaged in an ideological and fiscal war related to Open Access publishing. Open Access requires that the full text of publications be made available at no cost to anyone on the open Internet. Recent position and discussion papers in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries, have called for dialogue amongst academics and strongly hinted that research supported by public funds should be made available freely to the general public. The resulting discussion has clearly split the academic community....

IRRODL’s position is, as expected, to be solidly behind all moves to insure Open Access publication. We are proudly listed with the 2,256 other journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals and our publisher, Athabasca University, is a signature to the Budapest Open Access Initiative....From six years of producing IRRODL, we know that editing and reviewing are non-trivial tasks that take time, skill, and creative energy, and we certainly do not subscribe to any notion that devalues this contribution to scholarly life....

I recently performed a quick experiment using Google Scholar to compare the number of citations of articles in five of the most popular distance education related journals. The method by which Goggle spiders find articles is quite obscure, so there is no way of telling if the engine itself has systemic bias. Nonetheless, I counted the average number of citations for the ten most popular articles published by these journals in the past 5 years....The data...shows that the two Open Access journals have higher number of citations than all but the American Journal of Distance Education. Given the wider circulation and much smaller number of articles published in the American Journal of Distance Education, it is perhaps not surprising that they have relatively high citation ratings as well. However, clearly the Open Access journals have (on average) greater number of citations and impact than closed publications. The point I draw from this is that authors wishing to maximize the impact of their research in our field are advised to select Open Access outlets.

Wiley is doing well --which says nothing about OA

Mark Chillingworth, Wiley's financial strength shows industry health, Information World Review blog, June 16, 2006. Excerpt:
At times the online information and publishing industry sounds beset with woe as it faces an ever increasing number of challenges. But the latest financial results from scientific heavyweight John Wiley & Sons refute this. Wiley has broken the $1bn ceiling for revenue in the last financial year; this is an increase of eight per cent over the previous year. Wiley reports that all of its businesses added to this figure. $1bn attracts headlines, and will no doubt add fuel to the open access fire. William Pesce, president and CEO of Wiley puts the figure down to highly regarded brands, "must have content", and the ability to adept to customer's needs. The fact that users around the world have purchased this "must have content" shows there is still a strong demand for high quality information that has been through the respected channels of peer-review and publishing. When all around predict demise for the industry in the face of Wikipedia and other free resources, the bare facts of this financial statement show that a very sizeable number of important people in science, technology and business are prepared to pay for content.

Comment. The idea that these results challenge OA shows several misunderstandings of OA.

  1. The OA movement has the constructive goal of providing OA to more and more literature, not the destructive goal of putting publishers out of business. As I put it in my Open Access Overview, "the consequences may or may not overlap (this is contingent) but the [goals] do not overlap."
  2. The fact that people are willing to pay for high-quality content is not a blow to OA. On the contrary. OA has expenses too, and we hope that people will be willing to defray them. The essence of OA is not that it costs nothing to produce but that the bills are not paid by readers and therefore do not become access barriers.
  3. The fact that people are willing to pay for literature that has "been through the respected channels of peer-review" is not a blow to OA. On the contrary. OA articles (or the kind on which we focus) are peer-reviewed, usually by the very same journals as their non-OA counterparts.
  4. Finally, Wikipedia is not the poster child of the OA movement, which focuses instead on peer-reviewed research.

A closer look a the gift culture in scholarly communication

Jan Velterop, On donation and midwives, The Parachute, June 16, 2006. Excerpt:

The notion that scientists ‘donate’ their research articles to journals is one that seems fairly widespread...It is an interesting notion indeed, this laudable collective philanthropy. Scientists usually do not expect royalties from journal articles. Two, closely related, questions arise: why do they donate to journals, and why do they not expect royalties? Are they truly that unselfishly concerned with journals?...

Or are they not donating to publishers, but to the world? How can that be a problem? To my knowledge there is not a scientific journal publisher in the world who would dream of standing in the way of a researcher donating his or her research to the world. Publishers are simply not involved if researchers just get on with donating, for instance by publishing their article freely available on the web, such as I’m doing now with this blog entry.

But perhaps it’s not that simple. Research donated that way may not be taken that seriously by the world. And particularly not by tenure-committees and the like. Unless, of course, it has the formal imprimatur of a peer-reviewed journal. In science, publishers are not, strange as it may sound, needed so much for publishing per se. But they are for formal publishing. The formal publishing process makes a potentially worthwhile article an actually valuable one. That’s the added value of publishing....

“We don’t need publishers to keep the peer-reviewed journals going” is a sentiment often expressed, “because we do all the work, such as peer review, ourselves anyway”. The story of the midwife comes to mind. Publishers are no more than the ‘midwife’ in the publishing process. Mark Patterson of PLoS used this analogy to great effect in a few recent presentations, when he pointed out that it would be absurd if the midwife were to restrict access to the child. He’s right. But without stretching the analogy too far, we do need and use the services of midwives widely....Midwives need sustenance, and so do publishers. Those who believe they can do it all themselves, without sustenance, ought to do it all themselves, without sustenance. But please, do make it more than a short-lived hobby-of-the-day. For the sake of science.

Comments. Four quick thoughts.

  • Scholars do donate their articles to journals in the sense that they willingly publish in journals without expecting to be paid. Journals do not buy their articles or pay royalties. But this doesn't mean that scholars "are unselfishly concerned with journals" let alone that they believe journals add no value. As Jan says, scholars publish in journals for the sake of the enhancement or added value. These observations are utterly consistent and there's no reason to see any tension between them.
  • I've never denied that journals add value. To me the question is not whether a journal's enhancements to a raw manuscript are valuable but how to pay for the most essential enhancements without creating access barriers for readers. The most essential enhancement is peer review. (Prestige is a side-effect of peer review by an editorial board with a reputation for rigor and selectivity.)
  • I've always liked the PLoS midwife analogy. Midwives perform a valuable service and deserve to be paid for it. But they shouldn't be allowed to keep the baby or to control everyone else's access to it.
  • Jan is right that authors can donate their work to the world, bypassing publishers, and no publishers will interfere with them. For now, authors and publishers see a mutual interest in working together. In the age of the internet, however, authors can do without publishers much more easily than publishers can do without authors. But authors still want the enhancements that publishers have to offer. The challenge to publishers is to provide these enhancements and the benefits of the internet, including open access. Right now, scholars themselves provide the key enhancement of peer review, though they do it with the mediation of publishers. If publishers cannot rise to the challenge, scholars will realize that they can provide the same enhancement without the mediation of publishers. If Jan's only objection to this scenario is that scholars shouldn't do it as a hobby, but find some way to make it sustainable, then we agree in full.

Harnad comments on Springer proposal

Stevan Harnad has posted ten comments on Springer's proposal to amend FRPAA.

Google launches a search engine for US government sites

Kim Hart, Google to Launch Government Search Site, Washington Post, June 15, 2006. Excerpt:

Today [Google] plans to announce a new online product aimed at being a one-stop shop for searching federal government Web sites. The launch of Google U.S. Government Search,, targets federal employees who often need to search across several government agencies....

The government search site joins similar engines that target the same audience. The five-year-old, a government-sponsored site powered by Microsoft Corp.'s MSN, is geared to help citizens locate federal, state and local information without sifting through individual agency sites. Other similar search engines include , and .

[Kevin Gough, product manager for Google U.S. Government Search] said he expects Google’s product to "complement" FirstGov without directly competing with it.

Comment. Check it out. It covers PubMed Central but is not as up to date as PMC's own search engine. I searched for an author manuscript deposited in February as part of the NIH policy, and Government-Google found it. (BTW, vanilla Google found it too.) But when I searched for the most recently deposited article, Government-Google came up dry. (Vanilla Google found the journal copy but not the PMC copy.) Note the time stamp on this blog posting; if you repeat these searches at a later time, your results likely to be better than mine.

Here's a boolean search for "open access" OR "public access".

The best single search engine for OA science sponsored by the US government still seems to be from the Department of Energy's Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Korea paying researchers for elite journal publications

Nature has an article and editorial on a new Korean policy to pay Korean researchers every time they publish an article in an elite journal. If (like me) you don't have access, here's a summary from
Starting later this month, South Korean researchers will receive three million won (US$3,000) if they are leading authors of papers published in key journals. The relevant journals will be chosen by a ten-member committee of government officials and researchers, and will probably include Nature, Science and Cell. Researchers will be rewarded if they are first or corresponding authors of a paper.

Similar practices are already widespread elsewhere. In China scientists can receive more than ten times this amount. In Pakistan bonuses have dramatically increased the number of papers that researchers publish, and advocates say the money compensates for low academic wages.

Critics argue bonuses encourage scientific fraud and that rushing to produce as many papers as possible reduces the quality of research (see China must address the roots of scientific fraud). But others counter that the journal's peer review system remains independent so that the system only rewards good work. An accompanying editorial in this week's Nature argues that nations should try to avoid such crude 'cash-per-paper' incentives, and tailor rewards to promote the ethical pursuit of scientific truth.

Comment. Two quick responses.

  • When South Africa addressed the same underlying concern, that its research was not sufficiently visible, it decided to recommend green and gold open access. See the May 2006 report of the Academy of Science of South Africa and the key excerpts from it in my blog post for May 9, 2006. This is a much more sensible solution for countries facing the same problem. Second-best would be to pay the article processing fees at the OA journals that charge fees rather than simply to pay authors without any assurance that their research will be more widely accessible.
  • See my article from 2003, Open access when authors are paid.

More on the (dead?) Canadian proposal to charge for access to OA content

Meera Nair, Fair Dealing – Passage to the Common Within, Forum on Privatization and the Public Domain, June 15, 2006.
Abstract: On 20 June 2005 the Federal Government of Canada unveiled Bill C-60, An Act to Amend the Copyright Act, ostensibly necessary to modernize copyright for the digital age. The discourse that preceded the tabling of this bill showed a clear bias to extend the depth and breadth of copyright, at the expense of the public’s right to access creative endeavour. In this paper I examine the issue of educational licensing of the Internet. A contentious matter, it was removed from Bill C-60 but appears poised* to return. As Canada sits at the policy crossroads, it would be prudent to draw attention to the environment of the proposal at its inception, rather than be critical after implementation.

More on open access and open review

Thomas Koop and Ulrich Pöschl, Systems: An open, two-stage peer-review journal, Nature, June 15, 2006. Another contribution to the Nature debate on peer review. The editors of an OA journal, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, explain its mixed open and closed method of peer review, which it pioneered in 2001 and which is gaining new prominence e.g. from PLoS ONE.

Australian government report on knowledge transfer and access

Australia's Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) has issued a new report, Knowledge Transfer and Australian Universities And Publicly Funded Research Agencies (dated March 2006 but apparently not released until June). Excerpt:

The Government’s 2004 Backing Australia’s Ability package included the proposal to develop an Accessibility Framework to improve access to research information, outputs and infrastructure. The Government is keen to ensure that, through the establishment and linkage of electronic digital repositories, national scholarly output and research data derived from Australian Government funding will be available to researchers and the wider community....To date, the Government has provided $33.7 million in funding from the Systematic Infrastructure Initiative (SII) for projects to build the technical information infrastructure to support the creation, dissemination of and access to knowledge, the use of digital assets and their management. These projects have been recommended to the Minister by the Australian Research Information Infrastructure Committee (ARIIC). Four of these projects are working on the development of open access institutional repositories....

Enhanced open access approaches will certainly facilitate the sharing of knowledge between researchers and will provide the possibility of greater access for non-academic users of knowledge. Our desktop research, however, suggests that effective knowledge transfer usually requires the intervention of knowledge intermediaries who are able to translate and contextualise academic knowledge to make it ‘useable’ by non-academic communities....

While it is appropriate for public policy to ensure that the return on public investment in research and higher education is realised through effective knowledge transfer, there are also acknowledged tensions between the push to commercialise knowledge generated through publicly funded research and the increasing emphasis being given to open access and open innovation. It was argued by some stakeholders consulted for this project that the current public policy emphasis on research commercialisation encourages institutions to place a narrow interpretation on what constitutes knowledge transfer, and that knowledge was at risk of being ‘locked away’ rather than transferred for wider application....Public policy needs to walk a fine line between creating incentives for exploiting knowledge with potential commercial value and facilitating the wide uptake of knowledge for national benefit.

Free online tools for science info

Yesterday Marko Seppänen launched, a website containing free online tools he has been developing "for purposes related to gathering, sorting, presenting and digesting of information, mostly related to health and science."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

House of Representatives tells NIH to adopt an OA mandate

In the Appropriations Bill for fiscal 2007, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee is directing the NIH to convert its OA request to an OA requirement. Finally. The bill isn't online yet but here's how the Alliance for Taxpayer Access described the news in its press release tonight:
The Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA) strongly supports the U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s provision directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to require its research grantees to submit an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscript to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central online archive upon acceptance for publication in a journal.

The House Appropriations Committee took this official step, which strengthens the public access policy undertaken by NIH a year ago, as they approved the FY 2007 Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations measure. The NIH policy, currently voluntary, has resulted in researchers’ deposit of less than five percent of available NIH-funded research. The House Appropriations bill with the new directive will now be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives. The U.S. Senate will consider its Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill sometime this summer.

“This action is a clear signal from Congressional leaders that they are committed to advancing the cause of science and the public interest,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, an ATA founding member). “The bill is a significant step in acknowledging the profound impact the Internet has on the conduct of scientific research and the need for this research to be shared as widely as possible.”

The bill also stipulates a maximum 12-month window for authors to submit their peer-reviewed manuscripts. The ATA believes this lengthy timeframe will delay important research advances and the dissemination of information to stakeholders who rely on it. “We applaud the House Appropriations Committee for taking this tremendous stride forward,” said Pat Furlong, Founding President & CEO of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. “For individuals and families struggling to stay abreast of scientific developments and make informed decisions about their care and their lives, access to credible, reliable, and current information is often the difference between life and death. However, the 12-month delay is too long for us to wait. As the bill moves forward, we urge members of both House and Senate committees to consider adopting a six-month embargo, if not immediate access.”

The appropriations bill strengthens efforts by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) to win Congressional endorsement of the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (S.2695). The bill requires federal agencies that fund over $100 million in annual external research to make electronic manuscripts of peer-reviewed journal articles stemming from that research publicly available via the Internet. ATA enthusiastically supports this measure. Details may be found online at [the ATA web site].

Comment. This is big. The House is telling the NIH to adopt an OA mandate, even if it isn't telling it to shorten the permissible delay. The Senate hasn't weighed in yet, but there's only one more hurdle to clear. Effort will now focus on getting the Senate Appropriations Committee to support the OA mandate and shorten the permissible delay. If the House is willing to demand an OA mandate at the NIH, then it may also be willing to adopt the CURES Act and FRPAA, two bills introduced in the Senate that would mandate OA to publicly-funded research within and beyond the NIH. More later.

PLoS raises its processing fees

Starting next month, PLoS will raise its article processing fees for the first time. From the announcement:

To provide OA, PLoS journals use a business model in which our expenses - including those of peer review, of journal production, and of online hosting and archiving - are recovered in part through a publication fee to the authors or research sponsors for each article they publish. Now, with 3 years of operational experience to draw on, it is time for PLoS to adjust this model so that our publication fees reflect more closely the costs of publication. From 1st July 2006, the publication fee for our flagship journals PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine will be $2500; for our community journals PLoS Computational Biology, PLoS Genetics, and PLoS Pathogens it will be $2000. PLoS Clinical Trials is priced at $2500.

The new prices compare favorably with the fees that authors often pay to publish their work in traditional journals (between $1000-$3000 for color charges, excess pages, reprints etc). And, in such journals, distribution is not unlimited as it is for PLoS, but is restricted to subscribers and those whose institutions have paid license fees....

A "no questions asked" fee waiver exists for authors who do not have funds to cover publication fees. In addition, editors and reviewers have no access to authors’ payment information, and hence inability to pay will not influence the decision to publish a paper. These policies ensure that the fee is never a barrier to publication.

Also see these new questions from the PLoS FAQ:

$2500 is a lot to pay to publish an article isn't it?

Not when you consider the cost of the research that led to the article. Publication fees of $2000 or $2500 are a small fraction of the costs of doing research, and it makes sense for funding agencies to include these fees in research grants. Many funding agencies now support this view. They recognize that publishing is an integral part of the research process - and if the work is published OA it will deliver the maximum possible impact, which in turn maximizes the outcome of the funder's investment in research.

Ultimately, the fees that PLoS charge reflect the costs associated with publishing. We are not in this to make a profit - our bottom line is to make the literature a public resource. The administration of peer review, copy editing, production of high-quality tagged electronic files, web hosting, and so on are expensive processes. They are many of the same processes that are used in traditional subscription journals. If the money that currently supports subscription journals can be re-routed to cover publication fees then we will be able to support open access publishing in a fully sustainable way....

Can journals like PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine be supported by publication fees alone?

Possibly not.  These journals are run by professional editors, reject a large proportion of the submitted papers, and publish a great deal of added-value content.  They are therefore very expensive to run, but they are also representative of only the top tier of scientific journals, which includes Nature, Science, and The New England Journal of Medicine - a tiny fraction of the full complement of scholarly journals.  Publication fees provide an important revenue stream for PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine, but this is also supplemented with income from philanthropy, advertisers, sponsors, membership and other parts of the publishing operation.

It’s reasonable to ask why we started our publishing with two journals that present the biggest financial challenge in terms of how to support them.  The answer is that we felt it was critical to the success of open access that we provide journals of the highest standard.  They might not, by themselves, prove the publication fee model for open access publishing, but they provide us with the strongest possible foundation upon which to build our other publications.

Journals such as PLoS Computational Biology, PLoS Genetics and PLoS Pathogens, on the other hand, are much more typical of the scholarly literature as a whole.  These journals are run by outstanding academic editorial boards who generously donate their time to support the journals.  It is likely that these journals can be supported by publication fees alone.  We expect these journals to be close to breaking even within the next 2-3 years, which is rapid for any new journal. Our other projects such as PLoS ONE and PLoS Clinical Trials will also be supported mainly by publication fees.

New OA journal in LIS

Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by "the partnership" --a network of provincial and territorial library associations across Canada. The journal web site doesn't mention OA, but yesterday's call for papers does:
This Journal is fully open access, completely available to anyone, anywhere, as soon as it is published, and in perpetuity. Creative Commons License: read Creative Commons Canada.

Update. I just heard from Jennifer Richard at Acadia University who tells me that the journal will use Open Journal Systems software and be hosted at Guelph University. "Our plans are to be a truly open access journal with no embargos, subscriptions or costs to publish." (Thanks, Jennifer.)

NZ repository nominated for Computerworld Excellence award

Congratulations to the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, whose New Zealand Open Source Virtual Learning Environment (NZOSVLE) has been nominated for a Computerworld Excellence award in the category of Tertiary and Commercial Education. NZOSVLE is an OA repository and e-learning environment based on Eprints. For more details, see Ulrika Hedquist's story in today's issue of Computerworld.

More on OA to publicly-funded data

Michael Cross, Time to adopt the American model, The Guardian, June 15, 2006. Excerpt:

When Meteo Consult, Europe's largest private weather information company, asked the Polish national meteorological office if it could use its forecasting data, it was told there was no licensing procedure. The information was not available to commercial users.

This represents an extreme example of the variation between different governments' attitude to public-sector information: some European countries, such as Britain and Norway, make equivalent data available for free; another charges a licensing fee of €186,000 ($127,000) a year. The differing access and pricing regimes are a nightmare for firms such as Meteo Consult, trying to compete in the global market. Such restrictive practices and prohibitive pricing mean that the European market in weather information is one tenth the size of that in the US, says Jennifer Campbell, Meteo Consult's managing director. "We need a single market for weather data in Europe," she says.

Guardian Technology's Free Our Data campaign has a simple answer to the problem: public bodies should make available freely for re-use all data they collect at taxpayers' expense. They should leave the business of selling value-added products based on the data to the private sector....

The main free dissemination example is the US. Its policy of free access is summed up by a 1996 circular by the federal Office of Management and Budget, which states: "The economic benefits to society are maximised when government information is available in a timely and equitable manner to all." This economic policy is rooted in three sets of principles of US government. These are:

  • Legal. Specific laws govern public rights to access to government information and bar public agencies from making exclusive contracts with private firms to exploit public data. The US's Copyright Act forbids the federal government from claiming copyright (though individual states can, and use this to enforce charges).
  • Ethical. This principle holds that the public owns the data, having paid for its collection and storage through taxes. Charging again would be wrong in principle.
  • Political, as set out in the US constitution's right to free expression. "Closed information policies are a tool of repression and lead to corruption," says Paul Uhlir, director of international science and technology information at the US National Academies....

Comment. Cross is referring to OMB Circular A-130, adopted in 1996. If A-130 were proposed today, would it be trashed as socialist? And why has it been so hard to extend its principles from publicly-funded data to publicly-funded research?

Conversation on OA

Miguel Guhlin, Open Access Publications and Peer-Reviewed Journals/Publications, a podcast conversation, deposited in the Internet Archive June 14, 2006. From the description:
"Open source teaching provides new strategies and opportunities for individuals to engage in the shared investigation of common challenges," shares a Wikipedia entry. For me, this is at the heart of "open source publication," or open access publications. I see blogs and podcasts--and using those to make the writing process more transparent, with writers no longer clutching their manuscripts to their chest for fear others might steal their ideas--as the quickest way to share information with the people who need it the most.

A few of us had a conversation addressing the question of how to publish information and ideas with others. Some people don't want us to provide transparency or easy access to information. The conversation fascinates me because Dr. Maria Kaylor and Dr. JoAnne Ollerenshaw are participating and are a part of "higher education." They both have to consider a different approach to publication. This is scary for folks at the university level, especially when you consider the tenure issue. As you listen to this, what side "of the line" do you come down on?

Another journal converts to OA

The Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association has converted to open access, starting with the Spring 2006 issue. (Thanks to Paola Durando.) From the announcement by editor Sandra Halliday:
Great news! Beginning with this issue, the Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association (JCHLA) is being published as an open access journal. Furthermore, the back files of JCHLA online from Vol. 25(1), 2004 to Vol. 27(1), 2006 will be accessible without a password. As librarians we strive to remove the barriers and provide access to information. Using the open access publishing model, JCHLA will be available to a larger audience, and authors can expect their published work to have a greater impact.

PS: Kudos to the JCHLA for this welcome step. I'm probably not the only one wondering what business model it will use to support the new OA policy. The announcement says nothing about article processing fees, for example, and the page of instructions to authors hasn't been updated for more than a year.

More on open access and open review

While I've often argued that achieving OA and reforming peer review are independent projects, and that OA is compatible with every kind of review (from the most conservative to the most innovative), I've also added that OA and open review have certain synergies that are worth exploring. In the Nature debate on peer review, Chris Anderson articulates one of these potential synergies:
Closed peer review works best in scarce environments, where many papers fight for a few coveted journal slots. Open peer review works best in an abundant environment of online journals with unlimited space or the post-publication marketplace of opinion across all work.

Anderson makes this point about "online journals", but seems to mean OA journals. His point doesn't apply to subscription-based online journals, which depend on artificial scarcity to keep their revenue coming in.

PS: Anderson is the author of The Long Tail, originally a long article in Wired and now a forthcoming book.

Introducing PMC International and LASS

PubMed Central has launched PMC International. From the site:
PMC International (PMCI) is a collaborative effort between NLM [the National Library of Medicine], the publishers whose journal content makes up the PMC archive, and organizations in other countries that share NLM's interest in archiving life sciences literature. The long term goal of PMCI is to create a network of digital archives that can share some or all of their respective locally deposited content with others in the network. There are several reasons for doing this:
  • The probablity of an archive surviving over the long term is greater if there are working copies of the archive in regular use at multiple sites around the world.
  • A producer or funder of research literature often will be more inclined to make the primary deposit of its material to a locally or regionally affiliated archive, rather than to one operated elsewhere in the world.
  • In areas with limited online communications facilities, users will be better served by a national or regional archive in the vicinity....

PMCI sites must use NCBI's portable PMC (pPMC) software, which is an offshoot of the software that runs NLM's PMC system (US PMC). It is designed to manage and provide public access to a literature archive in a manner similar to that of US PMC, including the same presentation styles for articles....Portable PMC (pPMC) is a software package being developed by NLM's National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and currently being tested by several prospective PMCI sites. When complete, it will be available for use by any organization or individual wishing to manage and provide access to a collection of journal articles and related material in a manner similar to that of NLM's PMC system....

pPMC is part of set of tools being developed by NCBI [called the Literature Archiving Software Suite, or LASS] to support the creation, management and preservation of electronic literature collections and provide access to them. The other components of LASS are: [1] NLM XML DTDs - a set of DTDs for journal articles, book chapters and related content, [2] NLM XML Authoring Tool - an add-on for Microsoft Word. It lets one use standard MS Word features to create a properly formatted NLM XML document...[3] Portable NIHMS (pNIHMS) - a software package that handles the intake of 'raw' manuscripts (word processor or other text files, image files, PDFs, etc.) and tracks them through the process of conversion to an NLM XML format and eventual deposit in an article repository....The remaining components of LASS will be made available in the public domain when development has been completed. As public domain products, the LASS packages are free for use by anyone for any purpose.

NBCI Toolbar no longer supported

BMC Research Awards 2006

BioMed Central as announced the BioMed Central Research Awards 2006.

The BioMed Central Research Awards recognize excellence in research that has been made universally accessible by open access publication in one of BioMed Central’s journals.

Any physician or scientist who publishes original research of major significance in 2006 in one of BioMed Central's 150+ journals will be eligible to be considered for the award.

Two awards of US $5000 will be made - one for biological research, and one for medical research.

More on PLoS ONE

Richard Poynder, Open Access: Stage Two, Open and Shut, June 15, 2006. An interview with Chris Surridge, who moved from Nature to take the job of managing editor at PLoS ONE. Excerpt:

RP: ...[W]hy does the world need PLoS ONE?

CS: Because the system of disseminating scientific research has become extremely inefficient, and the concept of the journal has been eroded by the Internet....The Internet is providing us with all sorts of new tools for communicating science, so simply publishing journals, and distributing them electronically isn’t using the full potential of the Web to make the dissemination of scientific information efficient and effective. It just isn't the best way to do it anymore....[Traditional journals] quickly run up against a boundary question: where, say, does biophysics end and biochemistry begins? You find yourself starting to have to make lots of unnecessary decisions about borders....The boundaries have effectively been imposed as a consequence of the way that journals work, and the way that universities are structured.

RP: So there is no need for such rigid boundaries?

CS: No. At least, not when publishing. Consider, for instance, if you were to have a study that compared the genomes of man and the great apes, looking at a cluster of genes that controls the development of the brain cells associated with language. Now what subject is that? Is it neuroscience? Is it evolution? Is it genetics? Is it genomics? Actually, it is all of these things, so you could classify it in any one of these subject areas....

RP: The criteria for accepting a paper, however, will be different will it not? The PLoS ONE press release, for instance, says that "subjective considerations like 'likely impact,' 'degree of advance,' or 'interest to a general reader' will not play a role in deciding whether an article should be published or not."

CS: That's right. Traditionally a lot of the work that goes into peer reviewing consists of asking questions like: "How significant is this? How surprising are the conclusions?" Essentially, these are subjective questions. A more objective question to ask would be: "Is this properly done science"....What is also different about PLoS ONE, by the way, is that we do not see peer review ending on publication of the paper....We believe that the more subjective questions about how a paper relates to other work, and where it fits into the whole corpus of scientific literature are still important questions — but we feel that these can be better answered via an open peer review process that takes place after the paper has been published.

FRPAA and the society publishers

Scott Jaschik, In Whose Interest? Inside Higher Ed, June 15, 2006. Excerpt:

At first glance, it seems that the research world is united against the Federal Research Public Access Act. Scholarly associations are lining up to express their anger over the bill, which would have federal agencies require grant recipients to publish their research papers - online and free - within six months of their publication elsewhere....Dozens of scholarly groups have joined in two letters - one organized by the Association of American Publishers and one by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. To look at the signatories (and the tones of the letters), it would appear that there’s a wide consensus that the legislation is bad for research....

But a rebellion of sorts is brewing online, where scholars who are, in theory, represented by some of these groups argue that the legislation would help research, that the scholarly associations are selling out their rank and file’s interests to prop up their publishing arms, and that the debate points to some underlying tensions about academic publishing in the digital age. These scholars - with the leaders of this informal movement coming from anthropology - want Congress to know that their associations aren’t speaking for them, and they also want to draw attention to the fact that some scholarly groups didn’t sign on....

In announcing their opposition to the bill, most scholarly associations have focused on the integrity of peer review and the quality of research. But the American Anthropological Association acknowledged that the “underlying concern” it had with the legislation was its impact on the business model being used to sell access to the association’s journals and on “revenue generation.”  Those remarks have led to a series of attacks on the association, in which it is being accused of ignoring the way many of its members would benefit from greater access to research results. On, the association was taken to task for “ignorant opposition” to the bill. On Savage Minds, the association’s position is called “so, so misguided.” By being honest that it was concerned about its bottom line, it appears that the anthropology group has upset its own members.

Peter Suber, director of [the] Open Access Project [at Public Knowledge], said that these criticisms showed that the anthropology association (and others like it) have a conflict of interest. “They pretend to be speaking in the interests of scholarship, but they are really speaking for the interests of their publishing arms.” Suber, a research professor of philosophy at Earlham College, said that journal subscriptions end up supporting plenty of good things - educational outreach and annual meetings for associations are examples - but that doesn’t justify opposing open access. If associations want to support annual meetings and outreach programs, they need to charge their members, seek foundation support, or develop other strategies, he said, rather than relying on journal revenue....

[A]mong the associations notably absent from any of the letters criticizing the bill is the American Physical Society. Martin Blume, editor in chief for the society, which publishes nine journals, said the physicists’ association has already been functioning under a system in which authors may immediately post versions of their work anywhere that doesn’t charge - without any time lag. “Given what we already allow, we couldn’t really oppose this,” he said....

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

BMC journals integrate with tagging service

BioMed Central integrates with CiteULike, BMC Update, June 13, 2006.

CiteULike is a free web site that allows you to keep track of your favourite articles, tag them with keywords, and share them with others. A key feature that makes CiteULike easy to use is that it provides a button to add to your web browser. When you click on that button, when viewing any article on a website supported by CiteULike, the bibliographic details for the article concerned will be automatically retrieved and added to your CiteULike library.

CiteULike now supports all 150+ BioMed Central journals, making it easy to add BioMed Central articles with a single click. What's more, the latest articles from all BioMed Central journals are now listed on the CiteULike electronic table of contents page.

More on the MIT publishing amendment

Hemai Parthasarathy, Instituting Change, PLoS Biology, June 2006. An editorial.

Ann Wolpert, Director of Libraries at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),,...and the Vice President for Research and Associate Provost, Alice Gast, are asking publishers to allow MIT researchers to publish their work using a copyright amendment of MIT’s design. The amendment allows the author and institution non-exclusive rights to reuse, reproduce, and archive their published research articles in digital repositories. Although this amendment is now available on the MIT Web site and has been distributed to the MIT faculty, Wolpert is taking the extra step of directly contacting the 30 major publishers with whom MIT faculty publish to finalize appropriate language that will best “accommodate the interests of the academy and those of the publishers,” while supporting the implementation of the NIH policy.

According to Wolpert, the MIT copyright amendment grew out of the faculty’s double-edged response to the NIH policy recommendation: despite “a philosophical groundswell of agreement,” researchers found the demands of work too overwhelming to overcome the logistical obstacles of acting on their beliefs. Focus groups with faculty and researchers generated a series of recommendations to make compliance easier. One important recommendation was to resolve any conflict between copyright agreements and archiving....

At the stage when a manuscript is (finally!) accepted for publication, the last thing a researcher wants to do is to fight over a copyright agreement, especially when this might cause a publication delay. The purpose of creating this amendment and the subsequent direct discussions with publishers is to bring the institution into the negotiations on the side of the author. Faculty, of course, are pleased to have this potential burden lifted. Although its use is not required, the recommended copyright amendment has the endorsement of several academic groups at MIT, including the Faculty Policy Committee, department heads, and Academic Council....

Springer's unexpected response to FRPAA

I've learned --and Jan Velterop has confirmed-- that Springer has sent a letter to Sen. Susan Collins, chair of the Senate committee considering FRPAA, raising an unusual objection to the six-month embargo allowed by the bill. The letter argues that six months is too short to satisfy publishers and too long to satisfy researchers. In its place, Springer proposes a policy that would require full-text open access immediately upon publication --provided that the policy makes clear that publishing in peer-reviewed journals is an inseparable part of research and therefore that the funds for doing so (article processing fees) will be available to researchers as a special overhead on their publicly-funded research grants. The letter proposes that the new policy might be phased in after a short grace period to give publishers a chance to modify their business models.

Important reminder

Comments on the EC report and its OA recommendations were originally due on June 1. But the deadline was extended until tomorrow, June 15.

In the 108 page report, Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication Markets in Europe, the recommendations are on pp. 11-13. For a summary, see my SOAN story from May 2 or my blog posting from April 3. Note especially recommendation A1, which would mandate OA for publicly-funded research.

Please send a supportive comment to, today if you can, tomorrow at the latest. You can be sure that OA opponents are sending in their comments.

Even a short comment in support of recommendation A1 would be better than no comment at all, whether or not you live in a European country.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

June First Monday

The June issue of First Monday is now online. This issue contains selected papers from FM's conference, Openness: Code, science and content (Chicago, May 15-17, 2006). All pertain to openness, of course, and half a dozen are explicitly about open access. The ones not selected for this issue of the journal are available from the conference web site.

Oxford shares the results of its OA experiments

At the Oxford Open Access Workshop (London, June 5, 2006), Oxford University Press shared the results of its many experiments in open access. From today's announcement:

The impact of open access for publishers, authors, and readers was the subject of a one day conference held in London last week, organised by Oxford Journals. Findings presented from three studies conducted by LISU, CIBER, and Oxford Journals, gave researchers a rare opportunity to view how the open access business model is working in practice....

"Until recently there has been a lack of data to support whether an open access model would result in cost effective dissemination of research," commented Martin Richardson, Managing Director, Oxford Journals, who also chaired the event...."The event has received strong support from across the scholarly community, for presenting hard evidence into the effects of open access,and also for enabling others to share their experiences of open access. We hope that by making the results of our experiments public we can help to foster a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of open access and subscription-based business models."

The day focussed on the preliminary findings from three key experiments relating to Oxford Journals open access content. Findings were presented by Claire Saxby, Senior Editor, Oxford Journals; Claire Creaser, LISU; and David Nicholas, CIBER. Some of the key findings included:

  • The importance of search engines in driving up usage
  • The relationship of open access driving up usage of non-open access content in the same journal
  • Changes in user behaviour for abstract and full-text usage
  • The varying standpoints of authors on open access.

Presentations from Oxford Journals, LISU, and CIBER, are now available online. A full report of the findings will be freely available online from the Oxford Journals website later this month....

Here's how OUP describes the "three key experiments" whose results were reported at the workshop:

Oxford currently has three separate open access models: one full open access journal, Nucleic Acids Research (NAR), optional open access for 49 journals in the Oxford Open initiative, and sponsored open access for Journal of Experimental Botany (JXB), and Evidence based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM).

AAA members protest its decision to oppose FRPAA

Members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) are protesting its decision to oppose open access and FRPAA. Here are a few recent posts, alphabetical by blogger.
  1. Afarensis, American Anthropological Association: An Example of Hypocrisy in Action
  2. Kambiz Kamrani, The American Anthropological Association's ignorant opposition of Open Access
  3. Eric Kansa, More on the FRPAA
  4. Rex, The American Anthropological Association’s lobbying against open acess is so, so misguided

For the AAA's opposition to FRPAA, see my blog post from yesterday.

Comment. If you belong to a scholarly society, check to see whether it has signed the AAP's public letter (44 societies) or the DC Principles Coalition public letter (36 societies) opposing FRPAA. If so, let your society know internally and online that it is not speaking for its members and that it's putting its interests as a publisher ahead of its interests as a scholarly society. At the same time, send copies of your message to Senators Cornyn, Lieberman, and Collins, the recipients of the letters from the publishers. (Cornyn and Lieberman introduced FRPAA in the Senate, and Collins chairs the committee considering it.) Snail-mail addresses for the Senators are in the public letters themselves, and their email addresses and fax numbers are available here. Organize other members of your society to deliver the same message --to the society itself, to the Senators, and publicly online-- and to elect leadership that will speak for interests of researchers.

More on JISC's support for OA journals

Tracey Caldwell, Report vindicates JISC’s Open Access funding, Information World Review, June 13, 2006. Excerpt:
Funding for publishers willing to trial open access (OA) publishing has allayed concerns about the OA business model, according to JISC. Its three-year project to fund and endorse publishers introducing the OA model has acted as a catalyst to publishers’development of open access, according to a report by Key Perspectives.

In addition to offering financial support to publishers as they developed their OA model, JISC paid some or all of the authors’ fees that would normally have been charged by the publishers. Of the authors participating, 23% said this allowed them to publish in journals they would not have otherwise published in....

JISC has come in for criticism over its decision to support publishers though. Stevan Harnad, said: “The work JISC has been doing to promote open access journals has been positive and useful, but, in my own opinion, it has nevertheless been a waste of time and money, compared to what JISC could have done instead. JISC could and should be throwing all its (OA) efforts and resources into promoting OA self-archiving into institutional repositories.”...

Fred Friend, scholarly communications consultant, said JISC will continue to work on both routes to open access, probably as separate strands: “It is partly political to keep them separate so that we can help publishers with the conversion of their business models without ill will about repositories. JISC does not believe repositories are a threat to publishers, but publishers believe they are.”

OA in South Africa

Jennifer A. De Beer, Open Access in South Africa: progress report, a presentation at Berlin 4 Open Access (Potsdam-Golm, Germany, March 29-31, 2006). Self-archived June 12, 2006.
Abstract: As scientific actor on the African continent, South Africa has a role to play in promoting and facilitating the roll-out of Open Access (OA) scholarly communication practices, in southern Africa, in sub-Saharan Africa, and across the continent. A 2004 study revealed the progress made in the Open Access arena in South Africa, and the present talk, taking the 2004 study as its base, provides an update on and overview of the more recent South African OA initiatives.

Making the case for an OA mandate

Jennifer A. De Beer, 'Mandate' is Not a Four-letter Word: Taking Open Access Scholarly Communication Forward, a presentation at Strategies for Permanent Access to Scientific Information in Southern Africa, (Pretoria, July 29-30, 2004). Self-archived June 12, 2006.
Abstract: With increased awareness of, and in many cases, investment in, forms of Open Access scholarly communication, those within the scholarly arena cast about for the best way forward. Of the routes currently suggested, an Open Access mandate is mentioned as one way forward. Yet scholars frequently seem to bristle at the term 'mandate', seemingly opposed to such institutional or governmental intervention in their scholarly affairs. This paper argues, however, that mandating Open Access should not be the bugbear it is perceived to be, and that it is in fact a viable way forward in fomenting greater access to research output.

OA for public benefit, regardless of rate of public reading

Stevan Harnad, "CURES" trump publisher revenue risks: Public READS do not, Open Access Archivangelism, June 13, 2006. Excerpt:
The publisher lobby can defeat the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) (to mandate self-archiving of all federally funded research so as to make it freely accessible online) if FRPAA is promoted...mainly as a means of providing public (student, practitioner, patient, general public) access to publicly funded research. Publishers...will argue...that the public does not really want or need access to most of this specialized peer-reviewed journal literature, across all fields...written by and for specialized researchers, and that it is hence not justified to put publishers' subscription revenues at potential risk by mandating that it must be made freely accessible online. Instead, publishers will propose special arrangements in which they themselves would make the tiny fraction of what they publish that is of potential public interest freely accessible online. The right response to this by FRPAA proponents is to make it very explicit that the primary purpose of the bill is not public READS, but "CURES" -- i.e., the public benefits that come from applying and building upon research findings in further research and practical applications, for the sake of which the research was publicly funded in the first place. And CURES come from researcher access and usage -- researchers applying and building upon current research in further research and applications -- not from public access and usage. Because no researcher can currently afford access to anywhere near all the research they might need to read and use, researcher self-archiving substantially accelerates and increases research usage and impact, which is the measure of speed and progress toward CURES. And substantially accelerating and increasing progress toward CURES -- unlike providing public READS -- does outweigh any hypothetical risk to publisher revenues (although there is as yet absolutely no evidence that self-archiving reduces subscription revenues.) Moreover, with free online access (Open Access) to self-archived research, the public (students, practitioners, patients, tax-payers) get full access too, as a secondary benefit, but not because that is the primary benefit from or justification for mandating Open Access self-archiving....

Also see his long, related post from earlier today, Student/Practitioner/Patient/Public... Access Comes With the OA Territory.

Comment. Note that Stevan is here using "CURES" as shorthand for all the benefits of OA research, in medicine as well as in other fields. Don't confuse it with the CURES Act, a bill before Congress that would mandate OA to publicly-funded medical research.

Launching an IR: free software, priced software, and priced services

Don Hawkins, Institutional Repositories: Make or Buy? ITI Blogs SLA, June 12, 2006. On a session at SLA 2006 (Baltimore, June 11-14, 2006). Excerpt:
Institutional repositories --collections of documents produced by members of an academic institution-- are one of the newest genres of information, and a number of platforms for creating and managing repositories are now available. Two alternate possibilities are buying a software package and hosting the repository in-house (the “make” path) or using a Web-based platform, with the data hosted remotely (the “buy” path). This panel described their experiences using the two paths....

Comment. While there are several priced IR packages and services for universities that want to outsource the job, the leading IR packages are open-source: Eprints, DSpace, Fedora, and almost a dozen more. This is just to say that the "make" path does not require "buying a software package...."

PLoS Medicine editorial on impact factors

The Impact Factor Game: It is time to find a better way to assess the scientific literature, PLoS Medicine, June 6, 2006. An editorial. Excerpt:
We would be lying if we said that our journal's impending first impact factor is not of interest to us....However, for a number that is so widely used and abused, it is surprising how few people understand how a journal's impact factor is calculated, and, more importantly, just how limited it is a means of assessing the true impact of an individual publication in that journal....Because a journal's impact factor is derived from citations to all articles in a journal, this number cannot tell us anything about the quality of any specific research article in that journal, nor of the quality of the work of any specific author....Moreover, a journal's impact factor says nothing at all about how well read and discussed the journal is outside the core scientific community or whether it influences health policy. For a journal such as PLoS Medicine, which strives to make our open-access content reach the widest possible audience --such as patients, health policy makers, non-governmental organizations, and school teachers-- impact factor is a poor measure of overall impact....

After one in-person meeting, a telephone conversation, and a flurry of e-mail exchanges, we came to realize that Thomson Scientific has no explicit process for deciding which articles other than original research articles it deems as citable. We conclude that science is currently rated by a process that is itself unscientific, subjective, and secretive.

Even more importantly, it is time to reconsider the whole process of accurately assessing an individual paper's worth not only to scientists, but also to the wider community of readers. First, although any measure of impact will remain flawed in some way, when assessing the impact of individual articles or of the papers of individuals or groups of scientists, it surely makes more sense to measure the citations specifically to those individual articles (or to papers by individuals or groups of scientists) rather than using a journal's impact factor as a proxy measure. However, it is not clear whether Thomson Scientific could measure such individual article citations accurately. Second, we urge the company to take its responsibility seriously and increase transparency and accountability. Third, we suggest that the company's staff engage in the ongoing debate among other shareholders of scientific publishing and recognize that, there are --finally-- other ways of measuring impact and visibility of scholarly articles....

The opening up of the literature means that better ways of assessing papers and journals are coming—and we should embrace them.

Google rank correlates with citation count

P. Chen and three co-authors, Finding Scientific Gems with Google, a preprint. Self-archived April 18, 2006. (Thanks to the PLoS blog.)
Abstract: We apply the Google PageRank algorithm to assess the relative importance of all publications in the Physical Review family of journals from 1893--2003. While the Google number and the number of citations for each publication are positively correlated, outliers from this linear relation identify some exceptional papers or "gems" that are universally familiar to physicists.

From the body of the paper:

We believe that protocols based on the Google PageRank algorithm hold a great promise for quantify- ing the impact of scientific publications. They provide a meaningful extension to traditionally-used importance measures, such as the number of citation of individual ar- ticles and the impact factor for journals as a whole. The PageRank algorithm implements, in an extremely simple way, the reasonable notion that citations from more im- portant publications should contribute more to the rank of the cited paper than those from less important ones. Other ways of attributing a quality for a citation would require much more detailed contextual information about the citation itself....One meaningful difference between the WWW and citation networks is that citation links cannot be updated after publication, while WWW hyperlinks keep evolving together with the webpage containing them. Thus scientific papers and their citations tend to age much more rapidly than active webpages. These differences could be tak[en] into account by explicitly incorporating the effects of aging into the Page Rank algorithm.

Call for essays, news, or ideas about OA

Academic Commons is looking for essays, news, or ideas on OA (among other topics) to publish on its site. From its CFP:
Summer is nearly is upon us. Before we all head for the beach (or into the morass of some interminable system "upgrade"), this is a perfect time to reflect on the past academic year. We suspect that somewhere on your campus, someone did something interesting with technology in the service of liberal education. We want to uncover those stories of innovation, and to share reflections on how these innovations worked (...or didn't). We are also interested in more theoretical thought pieces that tackle some of the larger, important issues that surround our domain.

Academic Commons is designed to share such news and analysis within our community, via essays, reviews, interviews, vignettes, showcases, and more. And we offer a not-inconsequential honorarium for most of the pieces we publish.

Don't like to write? Please consider sending us ideas, links, suggestions for people to interview or a website to feature, or send this query to someone on your campus who might like an opportunity to contribute to this conversation.

(Disclosure: I'm on the AC advisory board.)

OA book series from the U of Helsinki

The Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (at the U of Helsinki) has launched COLLeGIUM, a multidisciplinary series of OA books in the humanities and social sciences. The first volume appeared this month, The Travelling Concept of Narrative. For more details, see the web site or today's announcement.

Market performance for STM information

IRN Research has released a new report, The European Online Information Market 2006. It's not free or even cheap (£600/€874/$1,130). From the announcement:
The latest annual survey of the European market for online information, published by leading information consultancy IRN Research, values the market at €3,513m in 2005, increasing by 14% at current prices compared to 2004. Switching of spending 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.

Online business information is the largest market segment, accounting for 66% of total online sales in Europe in 2005, with online STM information sales contributing the remaining 34%....STM information market growth by country can vary and is complicated by the different levels of VAT levied on hard copy and online sales in each country. Open access initiatives are increasing and focusing on the development of open-access repositories....

In STM information, double-digit profit margins have been commonplace for the last few years and this trend has continued in 2005....

In STM information, academic budgets will remain weak and any growth is likely to come from new product development, and increased use amongst practitioners and scientists in non-academic sectors....

Monday, June 12, 2006

New PLoS blog

PLoS has launched a blog to coincide with the public preview of PLoS ONE. The first post (by Liz Allen) introduces both. Excerpt:

While preparing to launch this project, a curious thing happened. Before posting any adverts, before sending out a press release, and even before we started officially talking about PLoS ONE, a very observant scientist and blogger (who is also a PLoS Computational Biology Author) sparked a conversation with a single post. We quietly watched as word spread. And we loved it.  You see, this is exactly the type of dialogue and debate that we have been hoping PLoS ONE would ignite.

PLoS is adopting a forward-looking approach to publishing that goes beyond disseminating peer-reviewed research to the widest possible audience, but also promotes collaboration and encourages debate. We strive to support conversation within the global community of scientists in every way possible. PLoS ONE will be the first title to embrace this ideology.

In this blog you can expect to read more about this thing we are calling “open access 2.0”, and most importantly, more about our vision for scientific communication, with all of its potentials and obstacles. We want to hear your thoughts too....

The second post (by Chris Surridge) has more detail on the viral discovery of the PLoS ONE site by bloggers. (Open Access News was an early link in the chain.)

PS: I'll be a regular reader. I'm just puzzled by one thing. Has PLoS launched two blogs, one on publishing and one on technology, or one blog with two categories?

OA report on digital preservation

Lancet review of Willinsky

Pippa Smart, Not such an open or shut case? The Lancet, June 3, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). A review of John Willinsky, The Access Principle (MIT Press 2005). Excerpt:
In his erudite discussion, Willinsky avoids vilifying publishers, and instead concerns himself with the principles at stake. However, he is in the fortunate position of debating the topic from the confines of academia, without the need to manage the business and operational changes that he proposes. Few would disagree with the principle of open access, but the more tricky question is how we get from here (subscription/controlled access) to there (free access)....

One of my personal frustrations is that since the principle is perceived as all-encompassing, the arguments both for and against also tend to group all scholarly publications together, and assume that they all have the same drives, ambitions, objectives, and financial buoyancy. Despite active support for open access in parts of the biomedical and physics communities, not all disciplines are participating in this movement for open access. Moreover, there are also diff erences around the world, with many journals from Latin America and Asia happy to make their material free online, as their funding allows for this, whereas in Africa few journals are willing to make their content free because they cannot aff ord to risk their small but vital subscription revenue....

The potential complexity of online publishing is blowing apart the conventional journal publishing model, because of the technical innovations it offers and the social questions it raises....Furthermore, the changing commercial model is itself disrupting the established norms. Although there is considerable experimentation, no easy solution has yet been found to resolve the issue of open access and ensure the longevity of research. This book is a valuable addition to the debate, but I suspect it will be several years until a fi nal solution to the principle of open access --if there is one-- is found.

OA can break the center-periphery model for North-South sharing

Leslie Chan, Centering the Knowledge Periphery through Open Access, a presentation at the ARL meeting on International Dimensions of Digital Science and Scholarship (Ottawa, May 17-19, 2006). An excellent introduction to what OA can do to help developed and developing countries share knowledge, with special attention to Bioline.

Tax breaks to support OA

Last week, John Udell wrote about open source education in his InfoWorld column. This week he asks "whether academia itself continues to uphold the tradition from which open source draws its inspiration." Excerpt:

Consider John Abramson's indictment of our system of medical research. He alleges that as the sources of funding have shifted from government to private enterprise, access to primary data is increasingly restricted:

Drug companies often keep the results of their studies secret, even from their own researchers [my emphasis], on the grounds that such results are "proprietary information" of economic value.

Open access has prevailed since 1991 in those fields served by the LANL archive: physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology. And there is a thriving open access movement that aims to leverage the economics of web publishing to freely distribute many other kinds of research. The NIH policy on public access to NIH-funded research gives that initiative a major boost.

But if academic research fully exploited the power of the web, there would be no need for an open access movement. And even if that movement were to succeed in opening up all taxpayer-funded work, we’d be left without access to the large and growing share of privatized research. If you believe that the open source dynamic is critical to the advancement of knowledge, and I do, there are a couple of ways we might proceed. Governnment could, once again, play a more dominant role in funding research. Or private enterprise could decide that open access -- to basic research, at least -- works to its benefit.

Of the two approaches, I think I’d favor the latter. Especially if government’s role were to reward business -- e.g., with tax breaks -- for contributing basic research to the commons.

More on the Google Library project

Ned Potter, Speed-Reading Robots Hit the Books, ABC News, June 11, 2006. Excerpt:
Stanford's librarian, Michael Keller, says the [Google book-scanning] robot has a giant reading list. "My personal goal," he said, "is to see how much of these 8 million volumes that we have gathered here — how much of that can we make accessible and more available because they've been digitized?"...

"I think of this project as a kind of witness protection program for the past, run by librarians," said James O'Donnell, the provost of Georgetown University....

"It is very much a revolution," said librarian Keller, "and very much a revolution to the benefit of one and all."

Why the AAA opposes FRPAA

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) signed the AAP's May 23 letter to Sen. Susan Collins opposing the FRPAA. (Blogged here May 25.) In a recent note on its web site, it explains why. Excerpt:
The letter, initiated by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), communicated three principal concerns about the proposed legislation: 1) it would undermine the value-added investments made by publishers in the peer review process; 2) it would duplicate existing mechanisms that enable the public to access scientific journals by requiring the government to establish and maintain costly digital repositories; and 3) it would position the government as a competitor to independent publishers, posing a disincentive for them to sustain investment and innovation in disseminating authoritative research. The net result, opponents argue, is that the overall quality of research competitiveness would be lowered.

The AAA has tracked this issue closely during the last few years, in light of its ongoing transition to AnthroSource. While the association concurs with the arguments made in the letter and tends to ally itself with these organizations on this issue, its underlying concern is the potential impact the proposed legislation may have on the AnthroSource business model and revenue generation....For additional information, please contact Paul Nuti at the AAA, at 703/522-1902 x3008 or

PS: See my 10-point rebuttal to the AAP arguments against FRPAA.

More on answering publisher objections to FRPAA

Stevan Harnad, How to Counter All Opposition to the FRPAA Self-Archiving Mandate, Open Access Archivangelism, June 11, 2006. Excerpt:

The AAP (and and FASEB and STM and DC Principles Coalition) objections to the FRPAA proposal to mandate OA self-archiving (along with its counterpart proposals in Europe, the UK, Australia and elsewhere worldwide) are all completely predictable, have been aired many times before, and are empirically as well as logically so weak and flawed as to be decisively refutable. But OA advocates cannot rest idle. Empirically and logically invalid arguments can nevertheless prevail if their proponents are (like the publishing lobby) well-funded and able to lobby widely and vigorously. There are many more of us than there are in the publishing lobby, but the publishing lobby is fully united under its simple objective: to defeat self-archiving mandates, or, failing that, to make the embargo as long as possible....

Our simple but highly rigorous 8-point stance is the following...:

(1) Open access has already been repeatedly and decisively demonstrated -- with quantitative empirical evidence -- to benefit research, researchers and the public that funds research: It both accelerates and increases research uptake, usage, citations, and hence progress, substantially. in all disciplines so far tested (including physical sciences, biological sciences, social sciences) substantially....

(2) There exists zero evidence that self-archiving reduces subscriptions; and for physics, the longest-standing and most advanced in systematic self-archiving, there are actually published testimonials from the principal publishers, APS and IOP, to the effect that self-archiving has not generated any detectable subscription decline in 15 years of self-archiving (even in the subfields where it has long been practised at or near 100%), and that APS and IOP are actively facilitating author self-archiving rather than opposing it....

(3) The publishing lobby's most vulnerable strategic point, however -- and this is ever so important -- is precisely the matter of the embargoes they are so anxious to have (if they cannot succeed in blocking the mandate altogether): But the dual deposit/release mandate that we have specifically advocated immunises the mandate completely from embargo-haggling, because it is a deposit mandate, not an Open-Access-setting mandate: Deposit must be immediate (upon acceptance for publication), not delayed; only the access-setting (Open Access vs. Closed Access) can be delayed, with immediate OA-setting merely encouraged "where possible," but not mandated. This means that not even copyright arguments can be invoked against the mandate, and embargoes cannot delay deposit: they can only delay OA-setting....

(4) In addition, 94% of journals already endorse immediate OA-setting. So the email-eprint option will only be needed for 6% of articles, to tide over any embargo interval.

I am absolutely certain that (1) - (4), clearly and resolutely put forward, and used to defeat every angle of the publishers' argument ("it will destroy peer review" "it will be expensive to the tax payer" "it will kill subscriptions" "it will destroy learned societies" "it's not needed: we have enough access already," "there will be multiple versions," etc. etc.), can be successful, even triumphant....

Six OA repositories for LIS

Heather Morrison, Self-archiving for librarians: the options are multiplying! OA Librarian, June 11, 2006. Excerpt:
Not very long ago at all, librarians had few or no options for self-archiving. This is changing dramatically. In the near future, for example, a university librarian in British Columbia may have six or more open access respositories to choose from: a university IR, the COPPUL ANTS repository, BCcampus SOL*R, E-LIS, DLIST, and other LIS repositories, as well as conference options for conference papers. There are advantages to having all these options. A little friendly rivalry can only help to sharpen the repository software. Some repositories can accomodate formats, such as audiovisual, that others cannot. The challenge for all of us involved in open access repositories will be to figure out how to work together, so that we are all promoting self-archiving first, as well as our own options. We also need to keep the user in mind, and find search options that make it easy for the user to find what they are looking for, regardless of which archive houses the item.

More from ETD 2006

The digitization blog has a post on Day 3 of the ETD 2006 conference in Quebec City. This post focuses on a session on archiving and the closing plenary address by Jean-Claude Guédon.

Is NPG "coercing subscriptions"?

Richard Monastersky and Lila Guterman, Critics Worry About a Proliferation of Nanoscience Journals; 'Nature' Tries a New Form of Peer Review, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 16, 2006. Excerpt:
Nature Publishing Group's entry into the nanoscience landscape is attracting particular attention from critics who worry about the proliferation of science journals. In the past 10 years, the company has started 23 journals, seven of them since the beginning of 2005.... "The benefit is a visibility of us within different markets," says [Jason N. Wilde, publisher for physical sciences at NPG]. "The goal of NPG is to be the world's premier scientific publisher." Others say it's a matter of corporate greed. "Nature has simply gone too far," wrote Robert C. Michaelson on an e-mail list for physics librarians. In an interview, Mr. Michaelson, head of the science-and-engineering library at Northwestern University, says he had subscribed to every new Nature journal as it appeared, but that he drew a line last year with Nature Physics. Nature Publishing Group is expanding "purely to increase their bottom line," he says, "and it's doing it on the backs of the scholarly community," which is facing higher publication costs that are outstripping library budgets....On the e-mail list, he called on colleagues to band together against NPG, "to do everything possible to prevent them from exploiting 'market power' to coerce subscriptions."

Open access and open source for people of African descent

The DEMRI (Development Establishment Maintenance and Refinement Institute) is launching a collection of OA documents and OS tools for the worldwide African diaspora. From today's press release:
The goal is to support the growth, development, and advancement of people of African descent through the provision of knowledge, information and open access to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) resources....The DEMRI site is a user-driven, international community where Collaboration and Open Knowledge Sharing are core concepts....The organization is striving to offer thousands of online documents to its users. The DEMRI will maintain an ever-growing collection of summarized, and full-text, online documents selected from more than 2,200 different publishers. All documents will be available free of charge....

Are scholarly publishers ready for the future?

Kate Wittenberg, Beyond Google: What Next for Publishing? Chronicle of Higher Education, June 16, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Wittenberg is director of EPIC, the Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia University. Excerpt:
While we [publishers] have been busy attending conferences, workshops, and seminars on every possible aspect of scholarly communication, information technology, digital libraries, and e-publishing, students have been quietly revolutionizing the discovery and use of information....If "digital natives" are the next audience for our scholarly resources, shouldn't we be thinking about new ways to organize, store, and deliver our content?...As publishers, we are going to have to adapt quickly and creatively if we wish to remain true to our missions as information professionals and yet be relevant to users. Are we ready? Until now we have not only controlled the development of content, but also its discovery and delivery. We can call copyright foul when the books or articles or teaching tools we publish are used in ways we haven't anticipated, and continue business as usual....Or we can think creatively about what comes next for publishing. Until now we have spent most of our energies in rear-guard actions: fighting Google over copyright infringement in its plans to digitize library books, for example. It's time to think "beyond Google."

Comment. Wittenberg set up the problem nicely, and she's right to include collaboration and interactivity as parts of the solution. But she doesn't even mention open access, which is an essential part of the solution. The best way to attract researchers to serious digital scholarship is to offer deep utility and easy access.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

U of Florida Student Senate supports FRPAA

The Student Senate at the University of Florida has adopted a Resolution in Support of the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006. Excerpt:
...THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the students of the University of Florida urge the Administration to publicly support the Federal Research Public Access Act and access to academic research; and

THEREFORE, BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED that the students of the University of Florida urge the Florida Students Association and the student governments of other universities to do likewise; and

THEREFORE, BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the students of the University of Florida urge the U.S. Congress to pass the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006.

Comment. The resolution is due to the UF chapter of Free Culture and the hard work of UF Student Senator Gavin Baker. It's an excellent example of what motivated students can do to educate their universities about an issue that affects everyone who uses or produces research.

OA to open channels for attention, not content

Michael H. Goldhaber, The Value of Openness in an Attention Economy, a presentation at First Monday's Openness: Code, science and content (Chicago, May 15-17, 2006). Excerpt:
["Content provider"] is a bad misnomer, getting things basically backwards. What these publishers are doing is more accurately seen as offering limited and potential access to attention....

Suppose a scholar refers to a book not easily available to some readers. If the reference is at all important, those readers cannot fully pay attention. No writing or speaking of any kind stands alone. All attention-getting efforts fail without some sort of reference, implied or explicit, to older efforts by others. Thus, having all earlier efforts as available as possible would be a boon to present attention seekers. This is part of the advantage to all of open-access scholarly and scientific journals and open-access libraries.

OA in India

D.K. Sahu and Ramesh Parmar, The position around the world: Open Access in India, in Neil Jacobs (ed.), Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, Chandos Publishing, forthcoming 2006.

OA journals in the developing world

D.K. Sahu, Open access publishing in the developing world: economics and impact, a presentation at Asia Commons: Asian Conference on the Digital Commons (Bangkok, June 6-8, 2006). Self-archived June 10, 2006.
Abstract: Journals from the developing world, especially the smaller ones published by scholarly / non-profit associations or academic institutions suffer from the problem of limited accessibility and visibility. With the limited reach the journal fails to attract good authors and remains unrecognized at the international academic level. Electronic publication, especially open access offers the right medium for these journals to showcase the research from the developing world. Medknow Publications offers services for journals with the objective to improve the accessibility and visibility. Medknow offers an online manuscript submission and peer-review system which helps the journal offices to saves time and resources and improves on the turnaround time for manuscript review process. The journals published by Medknow offer immediate free access which helps to increase visibility and attract authors and citations. The cost for publishing is shared by subscriptions to the print journals, advertisements in print and online media, association membership fee and author reprints. The open publishing model adopted by Medknow for over 4 years now is unique where the author or authors’ institutions do not pay a fee for submission, processing or publication of the articles – ‘Fee-less-Free’. Nine journals which are providing free access for last 3 years have reported no loss of subscriptions to the print version and in fact, have gained from the increasing subscriptions. Many journals which were running into losses are now self-sufficient to run the shown. It could be concluded that open access helps to improve the accessibility of the journals.

More on permission barriers to preservation

Adrienne Muir, Preservation, Access and Intellectual Property Rights Challenges for Libraries in the Digital Environment, Institute for Public Policy Research, June 5, 2006. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)
Abstract: Digitisation of collections provides great opportunities for widening access to collections and especially to unique, rare and fragile material. It also enables preservation by creating a surrogate and thus reducing handling of originals. However, the legal status of such activity is unclear. This paper points the way towards a common set of rights or principles to equip libraries with the tools they require to operate effectively and legally in digital environments.

Stevan Harnad answers the AAP critique of FRPAA

Stevan Harnad, Critique of American Association of Publishers' Critique of FRPAA Self-Archiving Mandate, Open Access Archivangelism, June 10, 2006. Excerpt:
The latest AAP/PSP critique of the latest US Public Access Bill (FRPAA) makes the same points (already rebutted two years ago) that they made in their prior critique of the NIH Public Access Proposal.

Peter Suber has already sounded the right overall note by way of reply in OA News (see his 10 detailed points, much the same as mine, below):...

There is zero evidence that mandating self-archiving reduces subscription revenue....But even if self-archiving were ever to reduce subscription revenue, surely what is in the best interests of publishers' current revenue streams should not over-ride what is in the best interests of research and of the public that funds it....

AAP provides no evidence of how making research findings accessible for free to would-be users who cannot afford access would "seriously jeopardize the integrity of the scientific publishing process." AAP merely stipulate that it would....

Peer review is done by researchers, for free. Whoever funds the management of peer review and the certification of its outcome is a journal publisher. There is no evidence that self-archiving reduces subscription revenue but even if there should ever be such evidence it certainly does not follow that research and researchers should renounce the demonstrated benefits of self-archiving....

[M]any researchers cannot afford access to much needed research, and the proof of this is the fact that when subscription access is supplemented by author self-archiving, research usage and impact increase dramatically....Researchers do not now have nearly as much access as they need, because no research institution can afford all or most of the journals in which the research appears. The demonstrated impact advantage of self-archived research is the direct evidence of the substantial access shortfall there is for research that is not self-archived....

Nothing whatsoever is "expropriated": Publishers can continue to sell subscriptions and licenses for their paper and online editions, exactly as before. The author's self-archived final draft is not a substitute but a supplement, online only, for all would-be users who cannot afford the publisher's version. And so far there is no evidence whatsoever that self-archiving reduces subscription revenues at all, even in the areas that have been doing self-archiving the longest (15 years in high energy physics, even longer in computer science) and that are already at or near 100% self-archiving for years now....

[R]esearch is not funded, conducted and published in order to generate revenue for publishers, let alone in order to guarantee their current revenue streams and insulate them from any risk. In particular, what has already been demonstrated to be in the best interests of research outweighs what has not even been demonstrated to have any negative effects on the interests of publishers....

Surely it is not the business of American Association of Publishers to concern itself with the cost to tax payers of providing open access to government-funded research. But studies have indeed been done, across disciplines, and they have found that self-archived research has substantially higher research impact (25% - 250+%), and this translates into substantially higher return on the tax payers' investment in research than what they are getting for their research money today....[I]t is a self-serving red herring for publishers (in reality fretting about their own current revenue streams) to portray this as a "tax payer" issue....

Comment. The AAP is scatter-shooting bogus arguments. As Stevan and I have both demonstrated, it takes some time to show that none of them hits the target. If you're in doubt, work through the AAP critique again and one or both of our responses. If you're convinced (and if you're a US citizen or organization), please write to your Senators and ask them to support or even co-sponsor the FRPAA. They're being lobbied hard by the AAP, using just these bogus arguments. The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has some template letters that you can revise and adapt before sending.

Permission barriers prevent long-term preservation

Amber Maitland, DRM causing difficulties for libraries, PocketLint, June 7, 2006. (Thanks to LIS News.) Excerpt:
The British Library's Chief Executive, Lynne Brindley, is warning that DRM systems are creating unintended consequences that affect how digital material can be stored and disseminated by libraries, which have traditionally been protected by special exceptions under IP law.

Speaking at the launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG) into Digital Rights Management, the British Library's Chief Executive, Lynne Brindley urged MPs to balance the rights of content creators with the need to maintain access in the public good.

"Digital material generally comes with a contract, and these contracts are nearly always more restrictive than existing copyright law and frequently prevent copying, archiving, and access by the visually impaired", said Brindley. She gave the example that in a small sample of 30 licences offered to the library, only two publishers were as generous in terms of access as statutory fair dealing. Only two allowed archiving of the material, and not one permitted copying of the whole work by the visually impaired....

The national library is recommending that IP law should clarify that fair dealing applies to digital as well as print items.

Comment. Long-term preservation requires permission to make copies and migrate content to new formats and media as technology changes. This is an argument for open access, especially for the removal of permission barriers, and an argument against DRM.

OECD workshop on access to public sector info

The presentations from the OECD's Workshop on Access to Public Sector Information and Content (May 31, 2006), are now online. (Thanks to Free Our Data.)