Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, July 29, 2006

More on FRPAA

Mike Carroll, The Publishers' "Private Market" Canard, Carrollogos, July 28, 2006. Excerpt:
In response to the Provosts' Open Letter supporting a legislative requirement for open access to federally-funded research articles, Alan Adler, vice president for legal and government affairs of the Association of American Publishers, said "what the university community is excited about is the prospect of being able to get access to all this published material free online, which is not terribly surprising. But why should universities be excited about the government inserting itself into the process of providing access to research?"

Congress must not be fooled by this rhetorical sleight of hand. This move by scholarly publishers to assert scholarly publishing as private domain into which the federal government is intruding is, frankly, silly. We have seen this move with the American Chemical Society's attempt to stop NIH from harvesting and publishing public domain information in its PubChem database. If there are any interlopers in scholarly communication in the sciences, it is for-profit commercial publishers rather than the federal government. (See John Willinsky, The Access Prinicple, for details).

The articles that would be made publicly accessible under the FRPAA are those reporting on research conducted with federal support. Why isn't this support also a form of "interference"? But we do not hear Mr. Adler complaining about the federal government subsidizing the critical input for his members' businesses do we? Moreover, the publishing activities of scholarly societies have been indirectly underwritten with government funding, which supplies funds that end up paying membership fees and/or journal subscriptions. Unless and until Mr. Adler's members are willing to pay full value to support the research and writing of research articles, they have no standing to complain about government "interference."

More on the ACLS report and provosts' letter

Dorothea Salo, The Behemoth Stirs, Caveat Lector, July 28, 2006. Excerpt:

I have referred to university faculty and academic administrators, none too kindly, as the slumbering behemoth as regards the march of open access....The behemoth is starting to yawn, stretch, and bestir itself.

I’m quite pleased and proud that one of the authors of the ACLS draft report on humanities and social-science cyberinfrastructure is from MPOW. (I’m trying to inveigle him into helping me with a brown-bag series, but no luck yet; he’s a busy man.) Recommended measure number two from the report: “Develop public and institutional policies that foster openness and access.” I can’t argue with that....

And then we’ve got twenty-five provosts tossing a gauntlet (PDF) over FRPAA. That’s huge, stunningly huge; we’ve had libraries and the occasional faculty senate make their voices heard in the past, but this is Big Admin and it just cannot be ignored. (It contains a lot of the usual suspects, actually: California, Dartmouth, Purdue. But where are MIT and Cornell, I wonder?)...When there’s leadership, others may follow....

Columbia is filling its IR

Columbia University is making good progress in filling its institutional repository. From yesterday's announcement:
The Center on Japanese Economy and Business (CJEB) at Columbia Business School has become the first academic group within the University to contribute electronic versions of its publications to DigitalCommons@Columbia, the new University Libraries-sponsored “institutional repository” pilot program. The full back runs of three Center publication series --Working Papers, Occasional Papers and Event Reports-- are now available within DigitalCommons@Columbia, where they will be broadly available to scholars and researchers worldwide and where they will be permanently archived as part of the record of Columbia’s scholarly output. Future publications in these series will be deposited by CJEB staff directly into the DigitalCommons shortly after they are published....

“This valuable partnership between the Libraries and CJEB will help achieve the Center’s mission to promote knowledge and understanding of Japanese business and economics in an international context,” said Hugh Patrick, director of CJEB. “We are delighted to be part of such a significant digital enterprise in the scholarly community.”...

As part of its effort to begin collecting and archiving the University’s significant intellectual output, the Libraries will be expanding its institutional repository pilot program over the next year to incorporate electronic publications from other departments and academic groups....

“This effort is part of a new Libraries initiative to begin collecting, archiving and preserving the University’s scholarly and research output in electronic form,” said Stephen Paul Davis, Director of the Libraries Digital Program. “We believe our institutional repository program represents an important investment in Columbia’s overall ‘knowledge infrastructure,’ one that will enable us to better serve scholars’ needs now and in the future.” According to Davis, the initiative will be expanded over time to incorporate material from other departments, centers and academic groups.

Comment. Kudos to Columbia's CJEB. This is exactly what research centers and institutes need to do in order to maximize the visibility and usefulness of their research output and share it with everyone who can make use of it. I hope it inspires other centers at Columbia and elsewhere to follow suit --and then I hope it inspires Columbia itself and other universities to take the same step. Will Columbia be the seventh university to mandate OA to the research output of the institution?

Friday, July 28, 2006

25 university provosts support FRPAA

25 university provosts have released An Open Letter to the Higher Education Community in support of FRPAA and OA (undated but released today). Excerpt:
[FRPAA] embodies core ideals shared by higher education, research institutions and their partners everywhere.

We believe that this legislation represents a watershed and provides an opportunity for the entire U.S. higher education and research community to draw upon their traditional partnerships and collaboratively realize the unquestionably good intentions of the Bill’s framers – broadening access to publicly funded research in order to accelerate the advancement of knowledge and maximize the related public good. By ensuring broad and diverse access to taxpayer-funded research the Bill also supports the intuitive and democratic principle that, with reasonable exceptions for issues of national security, the public ought to have access to the results of activities it funds....

FRPAA has the potential to enable the maximum downstream use of [national and institutional] investments [in research]....

Each month the evidence mounts that open access to research through digital distribution increases the use of that research and the visibility of its creators. Widespread public dissemination levels the economic playing field for researchers outside of well-funded universities and research centers and creates more opportunities for innovation....

Open access to publications in no way negates the need for well-managed and effective peer review or the need for formal publishing....

As scholars and university administrators, we are acutely aware that the present system of scholarly communication does not always serve the best interests of our institutions or the general public. Scholarly publishers, academic libraries, university leaders, and scholars themselves must engage in an ongoing dialogue about the means of scholarly production and distribution. This dialogue must acknowledge both our competing interests and our common goals. The passage of FRPAA will be an important step in catalyzing that dialogue, but it is not the last one that we will need to take.

FRPAA is good for education and good for research. It is good for the American public, and it promotes broad, democratic access to knowledge. While it challenges the academy and scholarly publishers to think and act creatively, it need not threaten nor undermine a successful balance of our interests. If passed, we will work with researchers, publishers, and federal agencies to ensure its successful implementation. We endorse FRPAA’s aims and urge the academic community, individually and collectively, to voice support for its passage.

The 25 provosts represent these institutions: Arkansas State University, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Indiana University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, State University of New Jersey, Syracuse University, Texas A&M University, University of California, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Rochester, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Vanderbilt University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and Washington University.

Also see Scott Jaschik, Rallying Behind Open Access, Inside Higher Ed, July 28, 2006. Excerpt:

In an attempt to refocus the debate, the provosts of 25 top universities are jointly releasing an open letter that strongly backs the bill and encourages higher education to prepare for a new way of disseminating research findings....

The letter originated with the provosts of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, which includes the universities of the Big Ten Conference plus the University of Chicago....“I think the provosts are concerned that our scientists are doing important research, and their fields demand that they publish the research in highly respected journals, and then those journals become more and more expensive and control information in a way that is worrisome,” said R. Michael Tanner, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs of the University of Illinois at Chicago and one of those who worked on the letter. When universities can’t afford to keep all of their subscriptions, universities face the prospect that their own faculty members can’t read the findings of fellow faculty members - even when taxpayers paid for the research. “At a certain point, we can’t be held prisoner within the publication system,” Tanner said.

Tanner said he was worried about how the changes already taking place in publishing - and those that could potentially take place because of this legislation - would affect small publishers. But he said that the reality was that larger publishers were making large profits off universities like his.

Barbara Allen, director of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, said that she hoped the open letter would reshape the debate on open access. “The public debate on these issues seems to be driven by the commercial publishing sector, and the scholarly publishers were lining up with the commercial sector,” she said. The provosts wanted to make clear to Congress and others that “our needs as communities of scholars” aren’t necessarily the same as those of large commercial publishers....

[T]he provosts’ action marks a shift of sorts for academic leaders. Scholarly associations (many of which depend for their budgets on journal sales) have been against these kinds of changes - even as more and more of their members demand free, online access for information. The groups that represent colleges have also been less than enthusiastic about this push. The Association of American Universities - which includes most of the institutions whose provosts signed the open letter - hasn’t taken a position on the bill, and officials say that they see both benefits and problems with the legislation.

While the provosts don’t claim the legislation is perfect, they want university leaders to be decidedly on the “open access” side of the debate....

Comment. This is big. It will lead to strong OA policies at many more universities. It will elicit endorsements from provosts not captured in the first wave. It shows that research institutions favor OA and that journal-publishing learned societies that oppose it are speaking more for their publishing arms than for their members. It exerts pressure on the Association of American Universities (AAU) to endorse OA and FRPAA or be left behind by its own members. (The AAU is a major voice in Washington on policies affecting research and education.) And finally, of course, it's decisive new support for FRPAA that is bound to be persuasive to members of Congress representing districts where these 25 universities are located.

IP and public health

Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health, Public health Innovation and Intellectual Property Rights, World Health Organization, April 2006. Strong on access to medicines, patents, and technologies, but silent on access to literature.

More on the ACLS report on cyberinfrastructure for the humanities and social sciences

Eric Kansa, Cyberinfrastructure report for Humanities and Social Sciences, Digging Digitally, July 27, 2006. Excerpt:
I have only had a chance to skim through the report, but it looks very interesting. Some highlights include:...(2) The report also calls “upon university counsels, boards of trustees, and provosts to provide aggressive support for the principles of fair use and open access, and to promote awareness and use of Creative Commons licenses.” (see page 43)

Wow! These are very exciting developments from a very influential group of scholars and policy makers. Again, openness and access seem to be key concerns in making valuable scholarly resources. Moving this forward requires action not only by rank and file researchers, but also by their sponsors. Seeing some of these ideas enacted as policy by NSF, NEH, and other granting agencies that support archaeological research will probably have a dramatic effect on data sharing in archaeology and beyond. Successful passage of FRPPA (see here and here) will have additional catalyzing effects.

Rapid OA for print documents

Next time you find a public-domain print document you want to share online, when speed is more important than quality, Daniel Cornwall recommends photographing the pages with a digital camera and posting the photos to Flickr. For an example, see the 1997 Army manual on conduct in battle that Cornwell posted to Flickr on Tuesday. He added a nice touch: a WorldCat link for those who want to find a print copy in a library.

JISC's draft strategy open for comment

JISC has released its Draft Strategy 2007-2009 for public comment. Excerpt:

3.8. JISC envisages continuing to develop the two JISC National Data Centres (Edina and MIMAS) as primary service-partners for a range of content and production services. JISC will also seek to improve access to content and resources through a range of resource discovery services and through support for open access and a range of other business models....

Aim Three: To support the uptake and effective use of e-research....Priorities and Key Deliverables to meet Aim Three: In collaboration with the Research Councils provide a robust, trustworthy, secure, interoperable and scalable infrastructure for the transmission, storage, sharing, accessibility and dissemination of research data and outputs (July 2009)....

4.10.ii. [JISC puts a] strong emphasis...on open standards. This is sometimes confused with a recommendation to use open source, but open standards support interoperability between systems whether commercial or open source and, where available and broadly adopted, allow institutions to mix and match products of either type and to replace products without high switching costs. The approach to open standards is not limited to software and systems; the JISC makes recommendations to the supplier communities about standards, for example for digitisation of primary resources, in order to increase interoperability and to allow the use of resources in a range of technical environments....The commitment to openness also extends to the JISC’s interest in supporting the open access agenda....

5.15. The JISC works within a coherent and complex set of regional, national and international partnerships. These development partners are crucial to the JISC being able to achieve its objectives, in particular its underlying agenda to support the use of open standards and open access.

If you have comments, send them to by September 25, 2006. JISC will publish the final version of its strategy in November or December.

IP Justice joins the ATA

New OA publisher

Scientific Journals International (SJI) is a new publisher of OA journals, headquartered in Saint Cloud Minnesota. (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.) From the July 21 press release announcing its launch:
Minnesota-based Global Commerce & Communication, Inc. (GCCI) announced today the launch of a one-stop efficient forum for publishing research and creative work from all disciplines.

SJI’s open access electronic journals are available free of charge to over 800 million Internet users from around the world. Unlike other online journals SJI does not limit access through registration or subscription....

According to several surveys, a large majority of authors and researchers cite slow review process and publication delays in the current system as a major obstacle to their publishing objectives. Many have also expressed concerns about the fairness and integrity of the peer review process in traditional scholarly publishing. Some scholars have argued that there is a need to free the publication process for broader and fairer access. Scientific Journals International (SJI) is the first global initiative that aspires to accomplish this objective....

All traditional journals have very rigid stylistic or procedural policies that unduly create artificial barriers and in effect retard innovation and creativity,” said SJI spokesperson Neil Armand. Scientific Journals International (SJI) will deliberately maintain minimal procedural and stylistic rules, and will accept papers that follow any style manual such as APA, MLA, Chicago, etc. A fair peer-reviewed evaluation system will be used to select papers for publication. SJI will maintain a rapid electronic submission, review and publication process.

More from the site:

Scientific Journals International (SJI) publishes articles individually as soon as they are accepted and edited. We do not wait until all required articles are ready for an entire issue. This time saving can be very helpful to authors, particularly in fast-moving subjects such as the sciences, where priority of publication is extremely important. Additionally, we do not set the same limitations on the length of the article as other traditional and online journals do....

Our capability for perpetual future accessibility and preservation is also extremely valuable to both authors and readers. All accepted and published articles remain in our databases and archives in perpetuity for worldwide exposure and visibility. Each electronic article is encoded with html meta-tags which allow for more sophisticated searching techniques. The information which is contained in an article can be intelligently structured for bibliographic access.

Comment. I wish SJI every success and have just one suggestion. SJI sometimes speaks of itself as a publisher of journals (plural) and sometimes of one multi-disciplinary journal (singular). Though confusing, both locutions seem justified: the current issue (singular) is divided into many disciplinary sections, each named "Journal of..." If SJI picked one of these ways of speaking and stuck to it, it would minimize confusion and help potential authors and readers understand what it is doing.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Interview with ALPSP CEO, Sally Morris

Greg Tananbaum interviews Sally Morris in the June issue of Against the Grain. The interview is not online, even for subscribers. I don't have access and will borrow, with thanks, the excerpt blogged by William Walsh:
Q. What are the most common concerns about the state of publisher-library relations voiced by your membership?

A. ...One issue that does sometimes arise is the perceived confusion inherent in library support for Open Access. It often appears that librarians support both kinds of OA as a way of saving money. However, they don't seem to follow this through logically. They seem to overlook the fact that OA journals require just as much funding as before, though through a different route. If the money has to be redirected, it will be taken away from libraries. They also seem to overlook the fact that if they use OA archives as a way of saving money, this means they will be canceling subscriptions. This will damage journals (and their proprietors, including learned societies), possibly in some cases terminally. There does seem to be a generalized dislike of large commercial publishers and a feeling that large profits are intrinsically wrong--however, the tactics adopted to "punish" them are in fact much more likely to damage small nonprofit publishers that produce high-quality journals at extremely resonable prices....


  1. As money is redirected from subscription journals to OA journals, it won't all come from libraries. For example, a good portion will come from funding agencies willing to pay article processing fees on behalf of their grantees. The part that will come from libraries could and should be limited to the part of the serials budget freed up by cancellations.
  2. No doubt, many people (researchers, librarians, university administrators, legislators) are angry about skyrocketing journal prices, and some think of OA as a way to "punish" publishers. But most OA proponents think of it as a positive alternative, not punitive. Publishers who fixate on attempts to punish them will overlook the appeal of OA as a positive alternative to price barriers.

MIT releases OA tool for open courseware in engineering

Open courses in engineering can now use MIT's Engineering Design Instructional Computer System (EDICS). From the announcement in the July issue of the MIT Open Courseware Newsletter:
MIT OCW is pleased to announce the publication of a unique teaching and learning tool on the Web site. We now offer open access to the Engineering Design Instructional Computer System (EDICS).

EDICS is an online, interactive, multimedia program that allows students with little background in engineering to learn about topics such as bearings, cylinders, shafts/rotors, drawing, fastening/joining, transmissions, and materials through text, graphics, animations, diagrams, and video and audio clips.

Aggregating science blogs

If you liked Scott McLemee's idea for an Aggregator Academica, then you'll like Alf Eaton's partial prototype, aggademia. As Alf describes it on Nature's blog, Nascent,

Using Aggademia, you can [1] browse through blog posts (aggregated from most of the top 50 popular science blogs, as published in Nature last week) and vote on items (up/down or 1-5: either works, but only the up/down votes are counted in the 'popular' list at the moment) and [2] create or join existing groups on particular topics. The owner of a group can edit the official list of links for that topic (using the 'Related Links' box in the 'edit' tab for the group), while other members of the group can make suggestions for useful topic-related links (using 'create weblink' in the group sidebar). To join a group, click 'subscribe' in the group sidebar on the right-hand side.

OA and cyberinfrastructure for the humanities

Scott Carlson, Humanities, Social Sciences Should Focus on Improving Digital Resources, Report Says, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 27, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:

The humanities and social sciences need to give more attention and resources to building digital infrastructures within their disciplines, says a long-awaited report from the American Council of Learned Societies that is to be released today.

The report, "Our Cultural Commonwealth," notes that the sciences have already made significant progress in creating "cyberinfrastructure" -- including the establishment of an Office of Cyberinfrastructure at the National Science Foundation -- and that the humanities must overcome significant challenges to catch up.... Along the way, people will have to come up with new technological tools, solutions to copyright and preservation problems, and sources of money to provide "seamless access to the cultural record."

"The return on this investment will be a humanities and social science cyberinfrastructure that will allow new questions to be asked, new patterns and relations to be discerned, and deep structures in language, society, and culture to be exposed and explored," the report says.

The report recommends that universities and federal agencies invest more money in cyberinfrastructure, especially in open-access projects....

John M. Unsworth, dean of the graduate school of library science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was the chair of the 11-member commission that wrote the report. He said in an interview that development of cyberinfrastructure for the humanities should coincide with digital efforts in the sciences.  "What we're hoping to insert into development of cyberinfrastructure here is an awareness of both the needs and the contributions of the humanities and the social sciences," he said. "We can't afford to have a separate but equal cyberinfrastructure for the humanities and social sciences....

In drafting the report, Mr. Unsworth said, the commission debated how to take a "reasonable" position on open access. "That's a complicated issue," he said. "Publishers and libraries are both critical parts of the infrastructure here, and they have different perspectives on that."

The Open Content Alliance, a group of libraries and corporations that are working on an open-access digital archive, is hailed in the report as a model. The alliance "has shown that commercial, nonprofit, and university content creators can cooperate in powerful ways to increase open access to cultural resources," Mr. Unsworth said, adding that the more closed and commercial digitization efforts of Google also have value....

More on the UK's Free Our Data campaign

Rosie, The Guardian's Charles Arthur on the Free Our Data Campaign, Meme Therapy, July 26, 2006. Excerpt:

Today we interview The Guardian's Technology editor Charles Arthur on the Free Our Data campaign, aimed at persuading the British government to stop charging for non personal data collected at the taxpayers expense....

MT Your Free Our Data campaign aims to persuade the British government to stop charging for data collected by public bodies at the tax-payers expense. Can you tell us why you think this issue is important?

CA Because if you set a price on data - any sort of data - then you naturally limit the number of people or organisations that are going to use it....Price limits use. Economists know that....So why is the price important when it comes to information and data collected by UK government organisations? Because the information is being collected on our behalf, as taxpayers and government subjects (what a horrible phrase that latter is; I'm sure no American thinks of themselves as a "subject") - no, better to say as taxpayers and *citizens*. If the government, or its organisations, aren't collecting the data in order to benefit us as citizens, then they should not be collecting it.  But if they are collecting it, then they should make it available to us. The experience of the web shows that the zillions of people out there can make more interesting use of the data that government generates than government itself can. The example of is a wonderful one. The data there is what Parliament generates....Searched through Hansard, it's pretty hard to navigate. Searched via TheyWorkForYou - which is what MPs do - it is much easier; that and, another mashup, are the sites that MPs use. Isn't that indicative? A non-government site is the one which MPs use to find out about what's been going on in Parliament?...

The lost opportunity that setting a price barrier to data access means that we can’t see how people might use OS data to even better effect than there already is....

A US research paper suggested that the US private sector is much bigger in these fields because the US government provides data for free, on the basis that taxpayers have already paid for it. That's why NASA pictures are free for reproduction: that's why you all know the name of NASA, see the pictures from the Hubble Telescope, and so on. By contrast, can you name the place where European Space Agency rockets are launched?...

Another rebuttal to ALPSP

Steve Hitchcock, More misinformation on repositories from ALPSP, Eprints Insiders, July 27, 2006. Excerpt:
The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) has once again been undermining repositories, both institutional and subject repositories, this time in its response to the British Library's Content Strategy. As an organisation that represents publishers it is perfectly reasonable for ALPSP to seek to defend their interests, but its approach to repositories will be counter-productive for these interests. On IRs, the ALPSP approach is misleading and self-contradictory. It says, "to date, publishers’ policies with regard to author self-archiving have been remarkably relaxed." This is not a one-way street. These policies have benefitted both publishers and repositories. ’Romeo green’ policies would not have been voluntarily adopted by publishers otherwise. ALPSP then repeats its familiar canard, that "when self-archiving reaches critical mass for any given journal, a serious decline in subscriptions may shortly follow", but later says "The Library will have a position of some responsibility in directing researchers to the ‘Gold Standard’ version of the publications they need, rather than potentially variant versions which lack the full linking and other functionality in which the publisher has invested." They can't have it both ways. If the published version has sufficient value-added to differentiate it from the author-produced version, they will have nothing to worry about from self-archiving....

CC licenses for ThinkFree docs

ThinkFree, the online office software suite, now makes it easy for users to add Creative Commons licenses to their documents. For more details, see Tuesday's announcement.

UK policy to charge for public data may cause EU-wide damage

Michael Cross, UK fights against tide on data directive, The Guardian, July 27, 2006. Excerpt:
Britain is threatening to kill at birth a project to simplify access to data crucial to the protection of Europe's land, air and water - unless it is modified to protect the interests of state-owned mapping agencies.

Inspire, a European directive, seeks to end the situation in which neighbouring countries cannot make plans to deal with common issues because their national geographical databases do not line up. These differences can be as basic as the height of sea level....Inspire, which has been going through the EU's legislative process for two years, seeks to end such anomalies. It will require public bodies to make their "spatial information services" understandable and accessible among tiers of government and across national boundaries.

Nearly everyone supports the idea. But making geographical data freely available would destroy the business model of agencies such as Ordnance Survey, which funds activities by making a "profit" on sales of maps and geographical data. The OS warns of the threat in its latest annual report, published on Tuesday.

The government said this week it would support OS's right to set charges. Its position, which it claims has the backing of member states in the council of ministers, will lead to a clash with the European commission and parliament when the process of turning Inspire into law reaches its climax this autumn. Failure to agree could kill the whole initiative....

New ATA members

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Archive-It version 2.0

The Internet Archive released Archive-It version 2.0. For more details, see today's announcement.

More on robot identification of OA articles

The CharteringLibrarian points out that if a Greasemonkey script could tell which articles were OA, then it could add that information to Google Scholar hit page.

PS: True, but unfortunately using a robot or algorithm to identify OA articles is the hard part of this job. When this problem is solved, however, we can mashup the results with the search engines of our choice.

Mashups with government data

Rufus Pollock has blogged some notes on the UK Department of Transports' Workshop on cross-gov data mashing lab .

Acknowledging fallibility as one element of credibility

I don't usually cover the debate about Wikipedia's reliability, but David Weinberger makes a good point in the July 23 issue of his newsletter, Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization. Excerpt:
Wikipedia has (and deserves) credibility, in part because of its willingness to acknowledge its fallibility....If it contains a warning about the reliability of the page, we'll trust it more. This is only superficially contradictory....Here are some of the warnings available in the Disputes category.
The factual accuracy of this article is disputed....

This article appears to contradict another article....

Some of the information in this article has not been verified and might not be reliable. It should be checked for inaccuracies and modified as needed, citing sources....

[PS: Wikipedia and Weinberger use eye-catching graphic warnings, which make the point very effectively. I'm just reproducing some of their text.]

The fact that Wikipedia encourages us to use these notices give us confidence that Wikipedia is putting our interests over its own.

So, why is it that you don't see such frank notices in traditional sources such as newspapers and encyclopedias? Is it because their articles don't ever suffer from any of these human weaknesses? Oh, sure, newspapers issue corrections after the fact, and "This is non-neutral opinion" is implicit on the Op-Ed page. But why isn't there any finer grain framing of the reliability and nature of what's presented to us in their pages? Can we come to any conclusion except that traditional authorities are more interested in maintaining authority than in helping us reach the truth?

Which in the long run will be devastating to their credibility.

At the end of the issue Weinberger suggests some warnings that "traditional knowledge authorities" could use to match Wikipedia in candor.

Jacobs anthology now available from Amazon

The Neil Jacobs anthology, Open Access: Key strategic, technical and economic aspects (Chandos Publishing 2006), is now available for purchase from Amazon.

Most of the chapters have been self-archived and the rest soon will be.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Chat with the Institute for the Future of the Book

The Chronicle of Higher Education will host a live online chat with Robert Stein, director of the Institute for the Future of the Book, on July 26, 2006, at noon U.S. Eastern time. To participate, you may submit questions in advance or during the real-time chat.

See the Chronicle's recent story on the Institute (blogged here yesterday) for some of its OA-related activities.

Consequences of pay-per-view for readers and librarians

David F. Kohl, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Journal of Academic Librarianship, July 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). I don't have access and will borrow, with thanks, from an excerpt blogged by William Walsh:
As information has become more and more of a commodity, the library's countervailing role in continuing to make it available for its intellectual, i.e., research and instructional, value and purposes has risen. SPARC and Open Access agendas come to mind as do also Big Deals and consortial purchases --all new ways of increasing access to information while reducing the financial dimension for end users. But probably more important is something which every library has done for ages simply as a matter of course --removing financial considerations altogether from the day to day use of information for library patrons. Information may not be free to the library, but the library effectively makes it available without individual cost to the members of the local academic community. Professors, students and even staff do not have to consider the cost of the information they use....

The PPV approach changes the whole equation. Informal reports of experiments with PPV by consortia suggest that unless the experimental pricing models for PPV are seriously changed, the information costs to libraries is bound to increase substantially. But this is not the real monster. The real problem is that PPV inserts the financial issue directly into the local individual use of information by students, professors and academic staff. The formerly safe harbor of local information use without financial constraint in order to pursue academic goals disappears as does the library's ability to pursue an agenda of encouraging information use within this safe harbor. For the academic community the cost of information becomes a direct and immediate factor in making assignments, doing research, or even just staying up to date on research. A use in September may preclude a use in November and how do we allocate uses between faculty, graduate students and undergrads? For librarians, their role in encouraging and expanding access to information is transformed instead into monitoring use and rationing access. It is librarians, finally and completely transformed into accountants rather than pursuing their traditional role as information providers (a truly alarming vision on multiple levels!)...

Comment. If you have to pay for access, it's better to pay once for multiple views than multiple times for multiple views. But one-time subscription payments may cost less than many separate pay-per-view payments, especially when the latter are combined with the disturbing mission-costs of policing and discouraging access. We can sweat about where to strike the balance or we can move on to OA.

Data sharing coming to China

Zi Xun, China plans massive data sharing project, SciDev.Net, July 24, 2006. Excerpt:
The Chinese Academy of Sciences is planning a large-scale computer project to make it easier for researchers at its 90 institutes to share their data....Over the next four years, data from the academy's institutes will be entered into hundreds of databases, and computing tools will be made available to help researchers analyse the data....

The e-Science project aims to tackle the problem of poor data sharing in the scientific community....[Nan Kai of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Computer Network Information Center] says that the e-Science platform will be freely accessible to scientists outside the academy, as well as the public.

Liu Mian, of the US-based University of Missouri, says that besides developing the infrastructure, the government should also stipulate that researchers must share their data by sending them to public databases such as the e-Science project.

Comment. This is a notable development that should greatly accelerate research in China. I support Liu Mian's suggestion that the government mandate deposit in the new OA system. If the Chinese combine the right policy with the right technology, it will maximize its return on the investment in its new and powerful infrastructure.

RAND Europe on OA and the virtualization of science

Edwin Horlings and six co-authors, Markets of Virtual Science: Report on the economics and policy implications of an emerging scientific phenomenon, prepared for the German Ministry of Education and Research (German Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung or BMBF) and published by RAND Europe, June 2006. (Thanks to IuK.) Excerpt:

This report discusses the possible consequences for German science and the larger societal context of the virtualisation of the scientific market. We define “virtualisation” as the use of new information and communication technologies to further advance what has been a millennia-old tradition of scientific cooperation and sharing among centres of learning and innovation. We also take it to mean the more intensive and ubiquitous use of joint datasets, models and methods, and the joint utilisation of experimental equipment....

The central research questions for our study were therefore the following: [1] How can the markets of virtual science be described? [2] Which indicators are needed to monitor virtualisation and its effects? [3] What are specific developments of markets for virtual science in Germany or in which German partners participate? [4] What are the drivers and barriers for the development of markets of virtual science?...

Based upon all of this work, we formulated recommendations for the Ministry of Education and Science and for other actors in the German scientific innovation system....

The knowledge produced by science does not always have an explicit or identifiable market price, but it definitely has economic value....Virtualisation as a technological and organisational innovation allows scientists to allocate production factors more efficiently, employ more advanced technologies, achieve economies of scale and scope, and produce new scientific products. To look at science as a market, we created a model of the scientific value chain...and assessed how virtualisation affects each of the individual stages of this value chain....

The aim of research policy should be to encourage the beneficial effects of virtualisation, while avoiding undesirable outcomes and harmful effects. This can be accomplished by the following policies:...

  • Explicitly budget for the costs of publishing in public research funding. If the German government should decide to make the results of research funded with public money freely available, it will either have to negotiate terms with scientific publishers or require scientists to (also) publish their work in Open Access journals....
  • There is reason to believe that the market will not provide a next-generation digital network that provides the same degree of accessibility and capacity to all research institutions throughout Germany. When left entirely to the market the costs of construction and access may be prohibitive, if only because the infrastructure would not be used to generate revenue and thus recover part of the costs. It is in the public interest to create a dense scientific network that links capabilities throughout Germany, provides scientists with top-of-the-range facilities, and connects science with industry and government. Public investments in and involvement with digital infrastructures are consequently justified.
  • Invest in national databanks and promote free access, especially in frontier fields of science....

Virtualisation may entail commercialization and under commercial conditions access to knowledge may be restricted due to the need to recover costs and the incentive to make a profit.


  1. "If the German government should decide to make the results of research funded with public money freely available, it will either have to negotiate terms with scientific publishers or require scientists to (also) publish their work in Open Access journals...." This is incorrect. The German government can mandate OA to publicly-funded research without negotiating terms with publishers and without requiring publication in OA journals. It merely has to mandate deposit in OA repositories and make clear that the mandate only applies to the author's final version of the peer-reviewed manuscript, not to the published edition.
  2. BTW, Germany's Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the country's largest public funder of research, has already decided to make the results of DFG-funded research freely available online. (See my short article on it in SOAN for April 2, 2006.) The German Bundesrat is also considering a bill that would permit author-initiated OA archiving six months after publication regardless of publisher wishes and regardless of the contract the author may have signed with the publisher. (See my short article on it in SOAN for 6/2/06.)
  3. Section 4.7 (pp. 38ff) of the report is devoted to an analysis of OA itself especially in comparison with non-OA and is full of misconceptions, e.g. that all OA journals charge author-side fees, that non-OA journals have a stronger incentive for long-term archiving than OA journals (the reverse is true), and that OA doesn't scale as well as non-OA (again, the reverse is true).

ALPSP response to BL content strategy

ALPSP has released its response (July 2006) to the British Library's Content Strategy (April 2006). Excerpt:
We believe that a shift towards the provision of online rather than physical access is appropriate. However, customer expectations of what is possible with online content are limited only by the capabilities of the technology, and not by realistic business considerations; at the extreme, every UK citizen might expect free online access, and unhindered re-use, at home or at work to everything in the Library’s collection, which would obviously destroy the market for publishers....

We welcome the Library’s intention to play a more active role with regard to the collection of primary research data. Publishers believe that primary research data should, wherever possible, be made freely available for other researchers to build upon. However, the creation of sometimes very sophisticated databases to enable organisation, retrieval and manipulation of data is expensive, and these (though not the facts they contain) are and should remain protected by copyright....

We absolutely reject, however, the Library’s view (see footnote 3, Page 3) that digitised full-text resources should be considered in the same light as research data. They are not the same – both authors and publishers may still have rights in these resources, which must be respected....Where such digitisation has been funded from an external or internal source, the content may be made freely available; when it has not, the publisher has every right to recoup its investment....In particular, we would very strongly urge that re-digitisation should not take place with the intention of providing a free alternative to a product that is being sold in order to recoup the cost of digitisation; this is not an appropriate use of taxpayers’ money....

We remain to be convinced that institutional repositories will ever be significantly populated, even with funder and institutional mandates (see, for example, the recent study of the obstacles to deposit by NIH-funded authors3). However, we do anticipate that subject-based repositories at least will become increasingly significant. To date, publishers’ policies with regard to author self-archiving have been remarkably relaxed. However, some journals have now reached the situation where all or most of their content is available in a single subject-based repository, and this is giving rise to some concern. Those publishers whose journals are affected are noticing a drop (in some cases, to an alarming extent) in usage on their own sites; publishers have also noticed an impact on subscriptions if they make their own content freely available too quickly....Thus, many are modifying their self-archiving policies, often introducing an embargo period before which author deposits are not permitted....

Thus we would urge the Library to exercise caution in its involvement with those repositories which replicate the content of journals; we are particularly concerned to hear of its involvement with the UK PubMed repository, since the Wellcome Trust has publicly stated that it expects and indeed welcomes damage to existing subscription journals. We would be deeply concerned if the Library were seen to be promoting the use of free but potentially inferior versions of published content.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Online survey of researcher attitudes toward OA

A research team from University of Arkansas and the University of Munich has launched an online survey on Open Access & Science Publishing. You can take it, in English or German, until August 11. (Thanks to Yong Liu.) From the background page:
Our research interest is with the attitudes toward and perceptions of Open Access of scientists in their double role as readers and authors of scientific publications....

Following a pragmatic as well as a theoretical approach, we are interested in identifying underlying barriers to the adoption of Open Access publications by individuals and in finding ways to overcome these barriers. At the same time we want to be alert to emerging business models for publishers and institutions in the future.

More specifically, we are exploring: [1] Scientists' attitudes toward and current practices of Open Access, [2] Identification of the barriers that are mostly responsible for the relatively low diffusion and adoption of Open Access publications, [3] Identification of opportunities and ways to overcome these barriers, and [4] Research of country/subject specific-differences.

OA or non-OA, the choice belongs to scholars

Adalbert Kirchgäßner, Kauft die Bibliothek der Universität Konstanz die richtigen Zeitschriften? A presentation at the University of Stuttgart, February 14, 2006. Although the title and abstract focus on whether the university is buying the right journals, the body of the text compares subscriptions, pay-per-view, and OA, and argues that the costs and models of access are in the hands of scholars. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

July/August D-Lib

The July/August issue of D-Lib Magazine is now online. Here are the OA-related articles:

PS: In his editorial in this issue, Lawrence Lannom explains that D-Lib's funding has run out and that it may have to convert from OA to non-OA. "We will be exploring subscription and author fees over the upcoming months. Comments on those approaches or any other funding path are more than welcome. These can be sent to the D-Lib address ... or directly to me...."

Another model of open science

Pedro Beltrao, Opening up the scientific process, Public Rambling, July 23, 2006. Beltrao wants scientists working on the same problem to find a better mix of cooperation and competition. If I understand him, he wants them to share their data openly, write articles collaboratively in wikis, and compete only to contribute to the joint dataset and articles.

The value of OA

Joseph Scott Miller, Why open access to scholarship matters, The Fire of Genius, July 23, 2006.

On March 10, 2006, the Lewis & Clark Law Review sponsored a day-long symposium entitled Open Access Publishing and the Future of Legal Scholarship. That gathering led to eight papers that are forthcoming in Volume 10, Issue No. 4, of the Lewis & Clark Law Review. In a short Foreward to that issue of the Review, I offer some thoughts about why all law professors should take an interest in the movement promoting open access to scholarship. The principal reason, based in current circumstances, is the way that using an open access platform extends one’s reach. The aspirational reason is that open access platforms enable us to create a new social layer of networked semantic tags that improve our grasp of scholarship by organizing and commenting on that scholarship. I’ve posted the Foreword at SSRN, and I encourage you to download it there if you’re genuinely interested in the topic.

From the abstract to Miller's paper:

In this short Foreword, I offer some thoughts about why all law professors should take an interest in the movement promoting open access to scholarship. The principal reason, based in current circumstances, is the way that using an open access platform extends one's reach. The aspirational reason is that open access platforms enable us to create a new social layer of networked semantic tags that improve our grasp of scholarship by organizing and commenting on that scholarship.

More on Project Gutenberg

Michael Hampton profiles Michael Hart and Project Gutenberg in yesterday's edition of Homeland Stupidity.

More on open-source science

Sarah Everts, Open-Source Science, Chemical & Engineering News, July 24, 2006. Excerpt:

Scientists from Sydney to San Francisco have created an online research collaboration to develop cures for tropical diseases, using the "open source" programming model that produced freeware like Linux and Firefox, the award-winning Web browser.

The motivation is straightforward: Tropical diseases are low priority for big pharma because the return on drug development is so small. Patients in developing nations just don’t have the financial ability to pay for patented drugs.

The structure is radical: Online discussions will prioritize a list of experiments that anyone can take on. Raw data will be posted online and discussed. Members of the consortium will solicit further ideas and expertise, hoping the greater research community steps up to the plate. The group, which operates under an umbrella website called Synaptic Leap [blogged here 6/3/06], hopes that volunteered time, computer power, and reagents will eventually result in a portfolio of drug leads that will be made freely available for development. Currently, members of Synaptic Leap are describing projects online and asking others for help and advice.

Participants in open-source collaborations give up their ability to patent discoveries by definition, because their data are public as soon as they are posted. But some argue that when it comes to neglected diseases, there’s nothing to lose, because there was never any income to gain....

If the group publishes raw data online in the pursuit of virtuous science, does this negate the ability to publish in a peer-reviewed journal? Will scientists put their raw data, and possibly their reputations, online? These and other issues were raised by University of Sydney chemist Matthew H. Todd and his Synaptic Leap colleagues in a recent essay entitled "Open-Source Research - The Power of Us" (Aust. J. Chem. 2006, 59, 291)....

When it comes to the issue of publishing, [Jean-Claude] Bradley [who blogs his research data] argues that open-source discussions are similar to conferences, where people openly discuss unpublished research and do not fear being denied the right to publish in a journal, assuming the science is good.

Todd says the biggest misconception is that proponents of open source are antagonists of peer review. "I think the value of peer review is clear, and I would want to publish whatever work came out of the open-source research. The question is whether the journals will allow it."

Does the ALA walk the talk on OA?

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., The American Library Association and Open Access, DigitalKoans, July 23, 2006. Excerpt:

Does the American Library Association (ALA) support open access and, if so, are its journal publishing practices congruent with open access journal publishing and self-archiving?...

ALA is a member of at least two organizations that support open access initiatives: (1) the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), and (2) the SPARC Open Access Working Group....

This brief investigation has not attempted to determine whether the divisions of ALA more vigorously support and enact open access principles than the parent organization. The Association of College and Research Libraries is certainly known for its general support (e.g., see ACRL Taking Action, Principles and Strategies for the Reform of Scholarly Communication, and Scholarly Communication Toolkit).

A user starting at the ALA home page would be hard pressed to find any information that suggests that ALA is an advocate of open access without using the search function. Yet, there are a number of pages on the site that deal with it, although many are ACRL Web site pages or serial articles.

ALA’s mission statements and plans reveal no explicit support for open access....

Out of ten major journals that it publishes, ALA only publishes one open access journal: School Library Media Research. Two journals (College & Research Libraries and Information Technology and Libraries) have a clear six-month embargo policy. Two more (Public Libraries and RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage) may also be operating under an embargo policy. One provides free access to a subset of older back volumes (Library Resources & Technical Services). The rest only provide table of contents information, some with abstracts, or, in one case, no information at all....

As a whole, the American Library Association appears to support the open access movement to a limited extent. If this is incorrect and its support is strong, ALA appears to be having difficulty making its commitment visible and "walking the talk."

Comment. This is the most detailed discussion I've seen of this question. You should read the whole thing, as I've had to omit most of the detail on which Charles' conclusion rests. I'd only add that (1) the ALA Washington office has a page on OA, (2) the ALA Council adopted a resolution in support of FRPAA at its June 2006 annual meeting, and (3) the ALA has signed on to several public statements in support of OA, most recently a July 12 letter in support of FRPAA and a May 31 letter in support of the EC report on OA.

The future of OA books

Jeffrey Young, Book 2.0: Scholars turn monographs into digital conversations, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 28, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). An overview of some OA-related innovations in book publishing, focusing on two projects of the Institute for the Future of the Book: McKenzie Wark's OA interactive GAM3R 7H3ORY (blogged here 5/23/06) and Kathleen Fitzpatrick's MediaCommons (blogged here 7/17/06). Young also touches on the OA-oriented, relaunched Rice University Press (blogged here 7/14/06).

Comment. From a narrow OA point of view, what's most interesting about these projects is the way they take OA for granted and move on to other frontiers, such as turn-around time, peer review, and interactivity. To me, this is the future: OA will be the default and creative energy will focus on how to build on the OA foundation to take full advantage of the networked environment for the purposes of scholarship.

Update. The Chronicle will host a live online chat with Robert Stein, director of the Institute for the Future of the Book, on July 26, 2006, at noon U.S. Eastern time.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

More on the Dominguez analysis of the cost of OA journals at CERN

Heather Morrison, Economics of Open Access Publishing: another look, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, July 22, 2006. Excerpt:
Analysis of data supplied by Magaly Báscones Dominguez in Serials earlier this year, supplemented by information from CERN, presents strong evidence for the affordability of one of the potential open access business models, OA by processing fees. This data suggest that OA by processing fees would be feasible, assuming reasonable but realistic processing fees, using library periodicals subscriptions as the only source of revenue. As an exceptionally research-intensive organization, CERN represents the worst-case scenario for this business model, which costs research organizations proportionately more than other kinds of organizations. Therefore, evidence of the affordability of this business model at CERN strongly suggests overall affordability of the model. Taking the CERN library periodicals budget as a base, an average per-article cost of 1,776 CHF / article (1,132 Euro, $1,436 USD) would be possible using current expenditure levels. If the IOP charge quoted at 573 Euro for New Journal of Physics were the average - CERN library could pay for a fully OA-by-processing fee model - AND, save half of its periodicals budget, too.

This is not an endorsement of the OA-by-processing fee approach, nor is it meant to suggest that all the revenue for open access should come from library subscriptions budgets. This is only meant as an illustration, that this is well within the realms of possibility.

Observation from Washington

Steven Pearlstein is the Washington Post business columnist. From his column for July 19:
Here in Washington, there is nothing more amusing than watching business interests work themselves up into a righteous frenzy over a threat to their monopoly profits from a new technology or some upstart with a different business model. Invariably, the monopolists (or their first cousins, the oligopolists) try to present themselves as champions of the consumer, or defenders of a level playing field, as if they hadn't become ridiculously rich by sticking it to consumers and enjoying years in which the playing field was tilted to their advantage.

Actually, he's writing about music.