Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, August 05, 2006

BMJ launches a hybrid OA journal program

BMJ Journals has launched a new OA initiative called Unlocked. From Thursday's announcement:

BMJ Journals, a division of the BMJ Group, today announced the launch of a new open access service, which, if supported by authors, will make some of the important medical research being published today freely available to anyone in the world with an internet connection.

Unlocked is a new service that gives authors the option to make their articles freely available online for a fee. Unlocked is available to any author publishing an article in a BMJ Journals specialty journal. This includes some of the world's pre-eminent medical titles including: Gut, Heart, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, Archives of Disease in Childhood, Thorax and Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

"Getting important new medical research findings into circulation as quickly and as widely as possible is becoming increasingly critical" commented Alex Williamson, Publishing Director of BMJ Journals. "Medical research can help save lives. It's our responsibility as a leading international medical publisher to find new ways of making the research we publish available to the widest possible audience."

The open access movement has gained a strong following in the bioscience community, but it is perhaps clinical medicine where free access to research results could potentially have huge relevance to a large and public audience.

"The BMJ Group was one of the early pioneers of open access," Alex said. "Research articles published online in BMJ [one of the world's most widely read and cited general medical journals] have always been freely available - before anyone even thought of the term open access. We saw the potential of the internet to bring great improvements to medical practice through better access to information early on and we continue to strive to find ways to exploit this potential for all our benefit."

"Our recent trial offer of the Unlocked service for the Journal of Medical Genetics has clearly shown that some of our authors support open access." Alex continued. "By introducing Unlocked more widely across all our journals we can increase our experience of author pays models and can see whether open access can become a truly viable long term alternative to the subscription model."

A particular feature of Unlocked is its two-tier fee system (either £1,200/$2,220/€1,775 or £1,700/$3,145/€2,515 depending on which BMJ journal an author submits their article to), which is designed to offer authors publishing in smaller specialist journals a reduced charge....

In further support of this new policy, BMJ Journals have also announced today that authors will now be permitted to deposit their version of an article in their institutions’ or a subject based repository immediately on acceptance, subject to a six month embargo from the date of print publication before making it free to all. Authors participating in Unlocked are able to immediately place the full version of their article in the depositories of their choice, and BMJ Journals will deposit all Unlocked articles in PubMed Central immediately on publication....


  1. This is a welcome step. It's even more welcome than the hybrid programs from Elsevier and the Royal Society because BMJ's publication fees are lower and it will deposit all the Unlocked articles in an independent repository.
  2. I can't yet find a page on Unlocked at the BMJ site. So I can't yet answer my remaining questions: Will BMJ let Unlocked authors retain copyright? Will it reduce subscription prices in proportion to author uptake?
  3. Unlocked has been under trial at the Journal of Medical Genetics, but the JMG web site doesn't answer these questions either. The fullest account before today's announcement was an editorial by Eamonn R. Maher in JMG vol. 42 (2005) p. 97. The editorial says that BMJ will compare OA and non-OA articles on their downloads and citations. In light of the result, it appears that BMJ discovered an OA impact advantage.
  4. The BMJ Group was a green publisher before this announcement and it's still green now. But I believe that it formerly allowed author self-archiving without an embargo. Because it now imposes an embargo on all who don't pay publication fees, it has retreated from its earlier position. It's too early to tell the net effect on OA. But if the rate of author uptake is low, then the new policy could do more harm than good. The same is true at other publishers shifting to hybrid models, but many of them have still not clarified the effect of the hybrid program on the self-archiving policy.
  5. I appreciate that BMJ allows immediate deposit of non-Unlocked articles in OA repositories, even if it embargoes their release to OA. The very desirable dual deposit/release strategy normally applies only to OA mandates (from funders or universities), but BMJ is coming almost as close as it can as a publisher. The only way it could come closer is to make clear that it allows immediate release of OA metadata, even if it doesn't allow immediate release of OA full-texts.
  6. As the announcement says, BMJ is a pioneer in OA. Because BMJ has supported OA when it could, and never lobbied against it, it doesn't have embarrassing anti-OA arguments to retract or customer cognitive dissonace to overcome.

Update (October 1, 2006). BMJ has responded to my comments, making clear that authors do retain copyright and that BMJ will reduce its subscription prices in proportion to author uptake. BMJ itself still allows no-embargo self-archiving, even for authors who don't choose the Unlocked option, but the BMJ specialty journals only permit no-embargo self-archiving for authors who pay the Unlocked fee.

Beyond OAI interoperability for OA repositories

Jeroen Bekaert and Herbert Van de Sompel, Augmenting Interoperability Across Scholarly Repositories. The final report of the meeting of the same title co-sponsored by Microsoft, the Mellon Foundation, CNI, DLF, and JISC (New York, April 20-21, 2006). Undated by apparently released this week. (Thanks to Stuart Weibel, who participated in the meeting for OCLC.) Excerpt:
Under guidance of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), the digital Library Federation (DLF), the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and Microsoft, a meeting was held aimed at identifying concrete steps that could be taken to augment interoperability across heterogeneous scholarly repositories. The specific goal of the meeting was to try and reach a common understanding regarding a data model and a limited set of core, protocol-based repository interfaces that would allow services and downstream applications to interact with heterogeneous repositories in a consistent manner. Such repository interfaces include interfaces that support locating, identifying, harvesting, obtaining and depositing compound digital objects.

The meeting was attended by repository software representatives from such repository systems as DSpace, EPrints, and Fedora; content repository representatives from such organizations and companies as ARTStore, arXiv, Citeseer, Harvard Open Content, Nature Publishing; and technology advisors from such projects as aDORe, Pathways, Aquifer, Eduserv Foundation, NSDL and the DSpace Chinese Federation Project.

Launch of PLoS ONE

PLoS ONE is open for business. From the PLoS blog announcement:
It is a bit late here in the UK for blogging but this can’t wait. PLoS ONE is now accepting submissions. The site is now updated with all the necessary ‘Guidelines for Authors’, ‘Editorial Policiesetc. as well as links to our online submission system. There isn’t much else to say but for me to thank the web-designers who put the site together and welcome everyone to the next step in this exciting project.

PS: The site now contains full descriptions of PLoS ONE's features and policies. If you haven't visited since the preview in June, you should visit again and spread the word. This is a bold and interesting departure from other OA projects and I wish it every success.

Meredith Farkas on Wikimania

Meredith Farkas is blogging a series of notes on Wikimania (Cambridge, Massachusetts, August 4-6, 2006).

Books with CC licenses

Over at the CC wiki, Margot Kaminski has started a page of books with CC licenses. Help enlarge the list if you can.

More on OA to Indonesia's avian flu data

Helen Branswell, With Indonesia's say so, WHO to share bird flu data with scientific community, CBC News, August 4, 2006. Excerpt:

The World Health Organization on Friday welcomed the announcement that the Indonesian government had agreed to share with the global scientific community the genetic blueprints of the H5N1 avian flu viruses retrieved from human cases in that country.

A WHO official said the Geneva-based organization has instructed the WHO reference laboratories that sequenced the viruses for Indonesia to deposit their blueprints into Genbank, a databank which places no restrictions on who can study the genetic information it contains....

"I’ve learned that scientists across the world have complained that they could not access the data and made statements as if we had hidden it," Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said Thursday in a news conference at which she announced the decision to share the sequence data from the human cases. "For the sake of basic human interests, the Indonesian government declares that genomic data on bird flu viruses can be accessed by anyone."

The decision will increase dramatically the amount of sequence data on human H5N1 cases in the public domain. Many of the genetic blueprints of H5N1 cases are held in a password-protected database only available to scientists from the WHO and the laboratories which sequence viruses for it - a situation that has been harshly criticized....

New server to meet new demand at SciELO Brazil

The SciELO Brazil collection of OA journals has a new server to meet sharply increasing demand. (Thanks to Jean-Claude Guédon.) From the announcement in the VHL Newsletter (August 2006):
The SciELO Brazil collection has a new connectivity and server platform providing access to articles of over 160 titles of quality journals in all fields of knowledge. This change of platform aims to meet the increasing demand of access to the SciELO Brazil collection and render quality services with high availability.

The access to SciELO Brazil collection articles has exponentially grown in the past two years, with a monthly average of 5.2 million articles visited from March to June 2006, with the record of 6 million visits accounting reached in May, 2006, which means 1500 GigaBytes transfered in a single month. In this same period, there were peaks of over 350 simultaneous accesses....

The exponential growth of the access began on October 2003, when it started to be accessed through Google and since March 2006 it reached a higher level. The main reason of this increase is due to the start in February 2006 of the indexing by Google Scholar of SciELO colletions published in open access....

[Despite the upgrade] the continous increase in the access is already demanding a new update which should happen until the end of this year in order to server 10 million articles accessed forseen in the first semester of 2007.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Results of CIHR survey on its evolving OA policy

In April the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) called for comments on its evolving OA policy. It has now released the results --dated June 2006 but apparently released today. (Thanks to Heather Joseph.) Excerpt:

CIHR recognizes the importance of disseminating research results, data and materials to further advance scientific research and discovery. CIHR believes that the research process is not complete until the results are validated and openly transmitted to the appropriate audience. Access to research outputs, products and materials is imperative for reproducing results and maximizing the impact of these discoveries....

10) Do you support self-archiving of peer-reviewed research publications an Institutional Repository (IR) at a Canadian university?

Key Finding: A majority of respondents supported self-archiving of peer-reviewed publications in appropriate Institutional Respositories....

13) As a journal editor, or representative of a professional scientific society, what are potential positive or negative impacts that you see with the implementation of a policy requiring CIHR funded researchers to follow one of the aforementioned mechanisms?

Key Finding: Most respondents felt that the benefits outweighed any negative aspects....

15) If CIHR were to mandate self-archiving of peer-reviewed publications, how long after publication should this occur?

Total number of responses: 34

Immediately (19)
Three months (6)
Six months (2)
Other (7)....

18) Please comment on any experiences with other organizations, both nationally and internationally, regarding sharing or access to resources, data, and publications? Do you have suggestions or comments that CIHR should consider during policy development?

Key Finding: The Wellcome Trust position statement in support of open and unrestricted access to published research was most often cited as the gold standard. Many respondents felt that the NIH Public Access policy was unsuccessful because of voluntary compliance....

Conclusion and next steps

The responses to this survey have provided valuable feedback and many useful suggestions that will undoubtedly encourage internal and advisory committee discussions. This information will be of great assistance in the development of a draft policy on access to research products. CIHR anticipates posting a draft policy on its Website for consultation during the latter part of this summer.

CIHR continues to welcome comments and suggestions. Please direct them to: Geoff Hynes, Research Officer, President’s Office/Corporate Planning and Policy, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

HarperCollins is digitizing all its books

Mokoto Rich, HarperCollins Steps Up Its Presence on the Internet, New York Times, August 3, 2006. Excerpt:
In an effort to widen its marketing reach on the Internet significantly, HarperCollins Publishers will let readers see excerpts of its authors’ books on its own Web site as well as those of the authors themselves.

Today the company will introduce a program called “Browse Inside” on its Web site, providing readers access to the first three pages of most chapters in 135 titles by 10 authors, including well-known writers like Michael Crichton, Lisa Scottoline, Bernard Cornwell and Paulo Coelho.

HarperCollins has been one of the most aggressive publishing houses in moving into digital publishing. Last year it announced that it would be digitizing all its books. So far it says it has digitized 10,000 of its existing titles, with continuing plans to digitize the remaining 15,000 books on its so-called backlist. All of its forthcoming books will be available digitally as well.

Like’s “Search Inside!” or Google’s Book Search program, HarperCollins’s initiative allows readers to replicate in cyberspace the experience of going to a bookstore and flipping through a few pages before buying a book....

Paulo Coelho, the Brazilian-born author of “The Alchemist” and other books, said he believed Web excerpts helped drive sales. “It is a very intelligent way to market a book,” he said by telephone from St. Martin, France. Mr. Coelho said that he has even linked to whole pirated editions of his books in Russian, and that the move spurred sales. “I don’t think that people reading the book on the screen of a computer is going to keep them away from buying these books,” he said.


  1. I don't normally cover stories about free online samples. But a publisher who knows that free online samples trigger a net increase in sales is poised to discover that free online full-text does the same, at least for novels and monographs. (This won't work, or won't work as well, for books that readers want only for snippets like dictionaries, encyclopedias, and cookbooks.) Paolo Coehlo's experience points in the right direction and the HarperCollins analysts, who are presumably crunching traffic and sales data, should pay attention to it.
  2. Because the NYTimes removes new stories from the free portion of its web site after a few days, note the CNet version of the same story.

OA database of avian flu info for medical personnel and travelers

MEDEX Assistance Corporation has launched an OA database of avian flu data and information. From today's press release:

Expanding its longstanding coverage and counsel regarding the avian flu, MEDEX Assistance today launched a  comprehensive new website that provides the very latest authoritative updates on the potential pandemic....Coalesced from the world's leading medical and public health sources, the new website...serves as a one-stop dissemination point for the latest avian flu facts and data....Corporate managers, medical personnel, risk management professionals, and individual travelers can access updates regarding the spread of the H5N1 virus and precautions for minimizing the risk of infection, as well as expert analysis and links to vital business continuity planning information....

"While we all hope that an Avian Flu pandemic does not become a reality, we also recognize that ’hoping’ is not a viable strategy should it actually come to pass," stated MEDEX Assistance President and CEO Bruce Kirby. "Free and open access to information about such a dangerous global health risk is, in our view, the reasonable and responsible approach."

Provosts should support institutional OA policies, not just national OA policies

Stevan Harnad, Putting Provost Principles into Practice: II, Open Access Archivangelism, August 3, 2006. Excerpt:
Twenty-one more US university provosts have now joined the first pride of 25 twenty-five provosts to register their support for the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA)

But having now expressed their principled support, there is absolutely no need for the provosts to wait for the Act's adoption in order to act! This would be an excellent time the provosts to put their support into practice by adopting an institutional self-archiving mandate of their own, at their own universities (and by registering them in ROARMAP for other universities to see and emulate).

Moving Australia's OA repositories to the next level

Australia's ARROW project (Australian Repositories Online to the World) has released ARROW Stage 2 Public description, August 2006. Excerpt:
Over the past three years the ARROW project has progressed from being an exercise in understanding the potential of institutional repositories to a project supporting and developing live repository software at a number of Australian institutions. As the project has progressed it has become evident that many new challenges will result from the establishment of repositories....

The ARROW project strongly believes that while the work done to date is sustainable, it would be advantageous to maintain the strong momentum currently in place to move repositories in Australia to the next level, and thus to better support research and regulatory needs. Therefore, the ARROW stage 2 project seeks to build upon work already done to ensure that: [a] The current members of the ARROW project are supported as they build their repositories. [b] Potential new members are advised on how to proceed and what to expect. [c] New ways of using repositories to maximise the potential use of the material stored in them are explored and implemented. [d] The experiences of current trials in using repositories for the RQF can be used to advise DEST on how they can be used to support the process. [e] The experiences of current trials in using repositories for the RQF can be used to advise universities on how they can be used to support the process and meet DEST requirements. [f] Established relationships and partnerships are used to continue to develop repositories to maximize their effectiveness for members. [g] New partnerships are sought out to deal with emerging needs and new challenges. [h] Relevant infrastructure solutions, such as permanent identifiers, are investigated....

Access for drop-in visitors to UK university libraries

SCONUL and UCISA have launched a new program, HAERVI (Higher education Access to Electronic Resources in Visited Institutions), to help university libraries give visitors access to their licensed electronic holdings.

Indonesia OKs OA for avian flu data

James Simpson, Indonesia opens access to bird flu data, Earth Times, August 4, 2006. Excerpt:

Indonesia has announced that foreign researchers are welcome to access its data on avian flu cases, in an effort to help restrict a potential pandemic. Scientists previously were unhappy with Indonesia's lack of co-operation with regards to this deadly disease which has killed 43 lives in that country alone. Indonesia attempts to clarify its stance by welcoming international scientists and research, for the wellbeing of all humanity.

The Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari admitted in an interview with 'The Jakarta Post' that the country had earlier restricted access to the data and was conducting its research on its own end. However, he added that following a discussion with the Indonesian Academy of Sciences, the government decided to include other institutions, scientists and countries in this struggle....

There has been a decades long debate with respect to the control and ownership of material as regards to new viruses, diseases and treatments. While to be fair, the data should belong to that organization which sponsors the research, human interest requires that it be made available in the public sphere, unconditionally....

PS: Kudos to Siti Fadilah Supari for this breakthrough decision. For background, see my earlier posts on hoarding v. OA for avian flu data.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

More on the two provost letters

More Universities Push for Passage of Open-Access Legislation in Senate, Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog, August 3, 2006.

Twenty-three more universities have joined efforts to push Congress to pass legislation that would require the free posting online of research financed with taxpayer dollars. The legislation, S 2695, which is pending in the Senate, would require each of the 11 federal agencies that spends more than $100-million yearly on research to create an online repository and make its grantees post their research papers in it within six months of publication (The Chronicle, May 3).

Last week 25 universities signed a letter calling for the Senate legislation to pass. They were joined this week in a letter from members of the Greater Western Library Alliance. The open-access bill would make more research papers freely available, and would do so more quickly, than does current policy at the National Institutes of Health. But academic publishers say any such broadening of open access would increasingly jeopardize their journals programs (The Chronicle, May 11).

The universities’ support for the bill reflects, among other things, the burgeoning costs to their libraries of academic journals. It’s far from clear, however, whether the bill is going anywhere in this legislative session. The Senate is about to recess for a month, and when it returns, lawmakers’ attention will be focused on budget and other key legislation in the runup to the November elections.

Libraries applaud provosts for supporting FRPAA

Nine major library associations issued a press release today commending the provosts (set 1, set 2) who have supported FRPAA. Excerpt:
Just one week after more than two dozen leading universities declared their strong support for the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (S.2695), provosts from an additional 23 universities added their backing in a letter issued by the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA) and in individual correspondence. This brings the total to at least 48 universities that have gone on record as favoring the measure.

The Federal Research Public Access Act was introduced on May 2, 2006 by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT). It requires federal agencies that fund over $100 million in annual external research to make electronic manuscripts of peer-reviewed journal articles that stem from their research publicly available on the Internet. The U.S. government funds an estimated 50% of university research, making this a particularly important cause for the higher education community.

The GWLA letter reads, in part: “Access to publicly funded research facilitates the open discussion needed to accelerate research, share knowledge, improve treatment of diseases, and increase human understanding. [The Public Access Act] is a crucial step in realizing this goal…”

“With the passage of this bill, researchers across the United States will have access to the results of work supported by federal government funding, which will help advance scientific understanding at a faster rate,” said David Pershing, Senior Vice-President, Academic Affairs, University of Utah. “No longer will knowledge created using public funds be limited to the wealthiest institutions and corporations. With everyone having access to up-to-date information, I am confident we will see a higher level of scientific research and innovation. This is a remarkable opportunity for educators and students across the nation.”

Signatories of the GWLA letter include provosts and vice presidents for state and non land-grant institutions, such as the University of Washington and Rice University. Their names are added to those of another twenty-five institutions, including Harvard University and Arkansas State University, who on Friday jointly issued “An Open Letter to the Higher Education Community.”

“The time is ripe for this legislation,” added Rodney Erickson, Executive Vice President and Provost of The Pennsylvania State University, who signed the Open Letter. “Many of us in the academic community believe the process of making the findings of publicly supported research more widely available will stimulate further research and education, and that is our primary mission as universities.”...

The press release is signed by the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), American Library Association (ALA), Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL), Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA), Medical Library Association (MLA), the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and the Special Libraries Association (SLA).

22 more provosts support FRPAA

The Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA) has publicly released its July 31 letter to Sen. John Cornyn in support of FRPAA. The letter is signed by 22 university provosts --above and beyond the 25 who signed the July 28 letter organized by the ATA. Excerpt from the new letter:
As chief academic officers, we are writing to you in support of the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006, representing 21 of the 30 member universities of the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA). With campuses in 16 states in the western and mid-western U.S., GWLA universities enroll more than 600,000 undergraduates and 200,000 graduate students. Our aggregate full-time faculty ranks exceed 50,000.

Dissemination of results is an essential component of research and our investment in science. We share your concern that far too often the results of research funded by the U.S. government are not broadly available to researchers, scientists, and members of the public. In addition to ensuring that this research is made available quickly, it is critical also that the published information remain broadly available for future use. We are pleased to see that your bill is designed to support both early, as well as long-term, access to scientific research results.

Public access to publicly funded research facilitates the open discussion needed to accelerate research, share knowledge, improve treatment of diseases, and increase human understanding. Your bill is a crucial step in realizing this goal and we look forward to working with you to secure the bill's passage.

The provosts whose names appear below have endorsed the FRPAA. Additionally, we understand that the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University have contacted your office directly in support of this important bill.

The letter is signed by the chief academic officers of Arizona State University, Baylor University, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology, Oklahoma State University, Oregon State University, Rice University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, University of Arizona, University of Arkansas, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Hawaii at Manoa, University of Kansas, University of Missouri at Columbia, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, University of Oregon, University of Utah, University of Washington, Utah State University, Washington State University, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Comment. The news gets better and better. This is the second large wave of provost support for OA and FRPAA. See my comments on the first wave in yesterday's issue of my newsletter.

Budget cuts for a publicly-funded OA journal

Chandra Shekhar, Environment Health Perspectives faces cuts, The Scientist, August 3, 2006. Excerpt:
Environment Health Perspectives (EHP) appears to be facing hard times. After nixing plans to privatize due to strong public opposition, the publication faces cuts in funding, forcing it to trim the news and commentary sections, and axe translations and free shipping to developing countries.

One of the first journals to go open-access, EHP is the peer-reviewed scientific publication of the NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Currently, the journal, which has an impact factor of 5.34, costs $3.5 million per year to publish. NIEHS director David Schwartz declined to specify how much of this funding the journal was going to lose. "NIH has gone through two flat budget cycles with salaries increasing and cost of grants increasing," he said. "We have to look very closely at all of our expenditures. We are not singling out EHP."

Facing a tight budget, NIEHS floated a proposal last September to privatize EHP. Strong public opposition to this plan convinced the institute to continue publishing it, but in June, Schwartz announced that the journal would need to "reduce production costs during difficult budgetary times."...

Schwartz pointed out that there are other open-access journals "of equal or higher quality that are published for far less," such as the Journal of Clinical Investigation, which has an annual budget of $2.5 million and an impact factor of 15.1. "We really want to make sure that EHP is competitive with other journals both in terms of its cost as well as its impact," Schwartz said.

Environmental health researchers had mixed reactions to the proposed changes at EHP. "I'm delighted that they decided not to privatize it," said Philip Lee, former US Assistant Secretary of Health and current chair of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, a Bolinas, Calif-based nonprofit that promotes study of the links between human health and environmental factors. "The most important thing is to continue publishing the peer-reviewed scientific papers. If you have to cut somewhere, the news and commentary section is a logical place to cut," he said. "It is unfortunate that they have to eliminate the translation."...

More on U of California's talks with Google

Scott Carlson, U. of California Is in Talks to Join Google's Library-Scanning Project, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 3, 2006. Excerpt:

The University of California is negotiating with Google to join the search-engine giant's book-digitization project. If the company and the university system agree to a deal -- which, sources within the university say, could happen soon -- Google might have access to as many as 34 million books within the system.

Details about the negotiations and the potential agreement, including who might pay for the digitization project, are scant. The university system's Board of Regents heard a presentation, "Large-Scale Digitization of UC Library Holdings: An Historic Opportunity," at a meeting in late July, but the minutes of that meeting are not yet available. Daniel Greenstein, director of the system's California Digital Library, would not offer specifics of the negotiations, other than to say, "The deal is not done."...

The University of California would join libraries at Harvard and Stanford Universities, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and the University of Oxford, as well as the New York Public Library, all of which have agreements with the search-engine company to scan portions of their collections. Michigan's agreement appears to be the most comprehensive: Google is scanning the university's entire library holdings of more than seven million volumes....

The University of California is already involved in a competing mass-digitization project, the Open Content Alliance, which includes 30 universities as well as Yahoo and Microsoft. The Open Content Alliance, or OCA, operates on an open-source model, while Google's digitization project has been notoriously secretive. The alliance has avoided controversy by promising that no books that are under copyright will be scanned unless the copyright holders give explicit permission.

Brewster Kahle, director of the nonprofit Internet Archive, who helped found the Open Content Alliance, said California's deal with Google "does not seem to affect the university's interest in working with the OCA."  But, he said, the Google deal might "undermine the bigger picture of the OCA, of being an alternative."

"I think we're going to have to see how that turns out," he said. As a result of the negotiations with California, Mr. Kahle wondered if Google would choose to be more open about the library material it is digitizing. "Then we could have one project," he said. "Because there is no point in scanning these books twice."

Mr. Greenstein, of the California Digital Library, said the University of California was committed to the public domain and to new digital roles of libraries. "Take those things together, and we'll work with anybody who shares that mission," he said. "It's not about OCA, Yahoo, Microsoft, or Google. It's about what we want to do. It's absolutely essential that we would continue to push forward in these ways. We see this as the future of the academy and the future of the university."

Calculating an institution's contribution rate under the NIH policy

Philip J. Kroth, Erinn E. Aspinall, and Holly E. Phillips, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Policy on Enhancing Public Access: tracking institutional contribution rates, Journal of the Medical Library Association, July 2006. Excerpt:
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) enacted its Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research on May 2, 2005. The policy requests that authors of peer-reviewed publications resulting from NIH-funded research voluntarily submit a copy of their final manuscript to the National Library of Medicine (NLM) for archiving in PubMed Central (PMC), the NLM's open access electronic repository for life sciences journals.

Because compliance with the policy is voluntary, its success depends on investigators' awareness of the policy and their willingness to contribute their work to PMC. Librarians wishing to promote the NIH policy need a tool to help determine an institution's contribution rate to PMC so they can direct local awareness training and library support for the policy. This paper presents an adaptable institutional contribution rate (ICR) formula using NLM's PubMed database.

Evolution and impact of the OA movement

Karen M. Albert, Open access: implications for scholarly publishing and medical libraries, Journal of the Medical Library Association, July 2006. Abstract:
Purpose: The paper reviews and analyzes the evolution of the open access (OA) publishing movement and its impact on the traditional scholarly publishing model.

Procedures: A literature survey and analysis of definitions of OA, problems with the current publishing model, historical developments, funding agency responses, stakeholder viewpoints, and implications for scientific libraries and publishing are performed.

Findings: The Internet's transformation of information access has fueled interest in reshaping what many see as a dysfunctional, high-cost system of scholarly publishing. For years, librarians alone advocated for change, until relatively recently when interest in OA and related initiatives spread to the scientific community, governmental groups, funding agencies, publishers, and the general public.

Conclusions: Most stakeholders acknowledge that change in the publishing landscape is inevitable, but heated debate continues over what form this transformation will take. The most frequently discussed remedies for the troubled current system are the “green” road (self-archiving articles published in non-OA journals) and the “gold” road (publishing in OA journals). Both movements will likely intensify, with a multiplicity of models and initiatives coexisting for some time.

Update. Greg Schmidt has written a summary of this article, October 26, 2006.

Google Earth for scientists

Manfred Dworschak, How Google Earth Is Changing Science, Spiegel Online, August 1, 2006. Excerpt:
Google Earth wasn't really intended for scientists....But now the scientific community is discovering how useful the software is for their own work.

With a single keystroke, biologist [Erik] Born superimposes colored maps over the Arctic. The maps show him where the ice sheet is getting thinner and the direction in which the pieces of floating ice on which walruses like to catch a ride are drifting. All of the ice data, which comes from satellites and measuring buoys, is available on the Internet. By loading the data into the program, Born can detect how global warming is affecting the migratory behavior of his giant walruses.

And it's not just walruses. Google Earth played an unexpectedly useful role in the wake of last summer's disastrous flooding in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Within just a short time after the hurricane struck, Google Earth had already added 8,000 post-disaster aerial photographs of flooded areas taken by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA). The images allowed disaster relief workers to scan areas on the computer and search, for example, for passable roads.

Epidemiologists, meteorologists and urban planners have also discovered the magic of Google's model of the globe. For them, one of the program's most attractive features is the ability to graphically depict many different types of data on the digital planet. They can set position markers for cases of bird flu or the locations of crimes. The markers have already been used to label hundred of volcanoes. Clicking on the volcano markers opens a window containing images and explanatory text and even a Web camera shot of a smoking crater. Maps, showing data such as population density or ocean temperatures for example, can be layered over the globe....

PS: The basic version of the software is free of charge and researchers who choose to do so can easily share their layers and placemarks online.

More on FRPAA pro and con

Carolyn Gramling, Open Access Advancing, Geotimes, August 2006. Excerpt:

Advocates of open-access publishing say that research funded with taxpayers’ money should be freely available to all, without having to pay ever-increasing subscription fees for scholarly journals. Scientific publishers, however, assert that without those fees to pay publishing costs, many journals could fold and the quality of the science could suffer.

The current NIH open-access policy encourages, but does not require, researchers funded with NIH money to submit their papers to PubMed Central, the National Library of Medicine’s online system, within one year of publication in a scholarly journal. That policy is not rigorous enough, says Peter Suber, the Open Access Project Director at Public Knowledge, a Washington, D.C.-based open-access advocacy group.

Suber notes that an NIH progress report to Congress in January stated that among its funded researchers, the rate of compliance with the policy is less than 4 percent. Furthermore, he says, the 12-month lag time before the information is freely available is too long compared to the time frame in which medical and even biological research advances are made. The new bill [FRPAA] would address these issues by requiring that all federal agencies with budgets larger than $100 million make their funded researchers’ articles available within six months....

But some publishers are less sure that scientists understand the issues clearly - particularly when it comes to transferring costs. “The real issue, to my mind, is: What is the effect on science of having no charge to the user or subscriber?” says Fred Spilhaus, executive director of the American Geophysical Union, which publishes several peer-reviewed journals.

The peer-review process, where research articles are sent to other researchers for anonymous review before acceptance, can be expensive for publishers, Spilhaus says. If readers choose not to subscribe because they can read journals for free, peer-review costs and other costs of publication would have to be transferred somewhere - most likely to the authors, he says. Such a system also means journals could end up competing for authors’ submissions and money, rather than selecting authors on the basis of their research. “That’s very bad for the science itself,” he says.

Framing the question as a funding issue is misleading, however, Suber says. Subscribers are not likely to cancel their subscriptions, he says, as they would want to maintain access to other journal material, such as news stories, editorials and non-federally funded research articles, which would not be part of the federal archive. The Association of College and Research Libraries, which represents a primary group of subscribers and supports the new bill, has also stated that it does not see why libraries would cancel subscriptions. Furthermore, the current issue is one of open-access archiving, six months after the initial publication, not first-time publishing....

Obstacles to an OA database of UK speed limits

Charles Arthur, Would a speed limit database lead to fewer road deaths? The Guardian, August 3, 2006. Excerpt:
One of the Department for Transport's (DfT) principal aims is to cut road deaths by 40% by 2010. And since excess speed is a known contributor to accidents, would a database of national speed limits, available for free, help achieve that aim? The answer is not as obvious as it might seem, according to Professor Frank Kelly, the outgoing chief scientific adviser to the DfT. It's not just a question of whether data should be "free"; just as important is the question of who should contribute to the data, and whether it needs to be "owned".

In fact the problem is not technological, acording to Professor David Rhind, formerly director-general of Ordnance Survey and now vice-chancellor of the University of London. "The problem lies elsewhere and it is about policy coherence, intellectual property rights and much else," he noted in an article for last September’s Journal of the Foundation for Science and Technology....Ideally, he added, the DfT would like to make all the speed limit data - "including the coordinates [of where speed limits change on the roads] freely available; that is, free from copyright and easily shareable, in the public domain." But, Rhind adds, "this appears to be enormously difficult". One important reason: the obstacle that government ownership of geographic data places on its reuse....

More on data sharing at the Gates Foundation

David Robinson, Bill Gates: Is he an IP Maximalist, or an Open Access Advocate? Freedom to Tinker, August 1, 2006. Excerpt:

Maybe both. On July 20, the Wall Street Journal reported:

Frustrated that over two decades of research have failed to produce an AIDS vaccine, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates is tying his foundation’s latest, biggest AIDS-vaccine grants to a radical concept: Those who get the money must first agree to share the results of their work in short order.

I can’t link to the full article because the Wall Street Journal - the only major American newspaper whose online operation is in the black - puts nearly all of its online content behind a paywall. But as it happens, there isn’t a great deal more to say on this topic because the Gates foundation has declined to specify the legal details of the sharing arrangement it will mandate....

As David Bollier noted, the lack of detail from the Gates Foundation makes it difficult to know how the tradeoffs between sharing discoveries, on the one hand, and using IP to harness their value, on the other, will actually be made. But be that as it may, there seems to be a general question here about Mr. Gates’s views on intellectual property. As Mr. Bollier put it, it may appear that hell has frozen over: that Mr. Gates, whose business model depends on the IP regime he frequently and vigorously defends, is retreating from his support of extremely strong intellectual property rights.

But hell has (as usual) probably not frozen over. The appearance of an inherent conflict between support for strong intellectual property rights and support for open access is, in general, illusory. Why? Because the decision to be carefully selective in the exercise of one’s intellectual property rights is independent of the policy questions about exactly how far those rights should extend. If anything, the expansion of IP rights actually strengthens arguments for open access, creative commons licenses, and other approaches that carefully exercise a subset of the legally available rights.

If copyright, say, only extends to a specified handful of covered uses for the protected work, then an author or publisher may be well advised to reserve full control over all of those uses with an “all rights reserved” notice. But as the space of “reservable” rights, if you will, expands, the argument for reserving all of them necessarily weakens, since it depends on the case for reserving whichever right one happens to have the least reason to reserve.

And just as it is the case that stronger IP regimes strengthen the case for various forms of creative commons, open access and the like, the reverse is also true: The availability of these infrastructures and social norms for partial, selective “copyleft” strengthens the case for expansive IP regimes by reducing the frequency with which the inefficient reservations of rights made legally possible by such regimes will actually take place.

That, I think, may be Mr. Gates’s genius. By supporting open access (of some kind), he can show the way to a world in which stronger IP rights do not imply a horrifyingly inefficient “lockdown” of creativity and innovation.


  1. Robinson is right. Just as CC licenses depend on copyright, rather than the abolition or violation of copyright, vigilance about one's rights is entirely compatible with OA. I'd only add that it's important to distinguish the Gates Foundation from Microsoft Corp., even if the same person ultimately sets policy for each and even if each has its own interests in OA. Among other salient differences, the foundation is non-profit, funds medical research, and puts impact ahead of revenue.
  2. Also see the Gates Foundation press release on the data sharing policy and my short article on it from yesterday's issue of my newsletter.

User-unfriendly restrictions at the SAE digital library

Users and librarians are complaining about the access restrictions the Society of Automatic Engineering imposes on its digital library.

Another review of Willinsky

Ray Cha reviews John Willinsky's book (The Access Principle, MIT Press, 2005, print edition, OA edition). Excerpt:

Many people have spoken to the situation that raising journal subscription costs and shrinking library acquisition budgets are quickly reaching their limits of feasibility, and now Willinsky provides in one place, a clear depiction of the status quo and the reasons on how it arrived there. He then takes the argument for open access deeper by widening the discussion to address the developing world and the general public.

Willinsky documents a promising trend that several large institutions including the NIH and prestigious journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, are making their research available. They use different models releasing the research. For example, NEJM makes article accessible six months after its paid publication is released. In attempting to encourage this trend of open access to scholarly work, Willinsky devotes much of "Open Access" to document the business models of scholarly publishing and shows in detail the economic feasibility of open access publishing. He clearly maintains that making scholarship accessible is not necessarily making it free. Walking through the current economic models of academic publishing, Willinsky gives a good overview of the range of publishing models with varying degrees of accesibility. As well, he devotes an entire chapter which proposes an intriguing model of how a journal could be operated by scholars as a cooperative....

It is the last chapters of the book, "Reading," "Indexing" and "History" which leave the biggest impact....

The chapter "Indexing," flips the analysis to look at how online and accessibility will change how scholarship is stored, indexed and retrieved on the publisher side....He goes deeper into the issues of indexing by exploring how indexing of schloarly literature can be "more comprehensive, integrated and automated" while being open and accessible. Collaborative indexing is one such route to explore, which begins to blur the lines between publisher, author and reader. Willinsky has documented how fragmented current indexing service are, which leads to overlap and confusion over where journal are indexed. He aptly points out that indexing needs to evolve in step with open access because the amount of information to search vastly increases. Information that cannot located, even if it is openly accessible, has limited social value....

[The book’s final chapter] illuminates how publishing technology has always been a distruptive force on the way knowledge is stored and shared. Willinsky’s concern is to argue for open access but to also show how interrelated the digital is to that access. Further, there is the opportunity to "improve the quality and value of that access."

More on the provosts' letter

Steve Hitchcock, Provosts and consumers support FRPAA, Eprints Insiders, August 2, 2006. Excerpt:
Repository managers everywhere may be reassured by statements of consumer support for public access to research findings, as framed in the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (FRPAA). Of more significance, especially to IR managers in the US, is the Open Letter from the provosts of 25 top US universities in support of the FRPAA.

To get a sense of the impact of this letter, Dorothea Salo is a regular blogger on repository matters and a repository manager at [George Mason University], so has a US perspective on the provosts' letter: "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."

As usual, Peter Suber is spot on with his assessment of the national policy impact: "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."

Thankfully the provosts' letter does not focus on the usual 'serials crisis' motivations nor about finding an accommodation with publishers, but emphasises some of the real and often ignored benefits of open access: “Widespread public dissemination levels the economic playing field for researchers outside of well-funded universities and research centers and creates more opportunities for innovation. Ease of access and discovery also encourages use by scholars outside traditional disciplinary communities, thus encouraging imaginative and productive scholarly convergence,” say the provosts.

It's not just about the FRPAA, however. The next step for the provosts is to initiate institutional repositories, for those that haven't done so already, and then mandate that they are filled, to ensure the mission of the FRPAA is fulfilled.

Authoritative OA list of authoritative OA resources in every field

The Digital Universe is building an authoritative OA list of authoritative OA resources in every field. From the site:

The Digital Universe Foundation is spearheading a little project to compile the most reliable Web resources of a certain kind.

People often ask us, when they hear about what the Digital Universe is up to, "How can I help?" Well, here’s our answer: construct this list, please! It’s a yeomanly way to help this worthy project get off the ground.

And notice, the result will be useful not just to the DU, but to the world in general! We will release the list free to anyone to use, of course; consider it in the public domain....

The reason we're doing this is in order to pre-populate Digital Universe portals with "deep links" into existing, pre-vetted databases. The result will, in time, be a sort of "master database" that is free for everyone to use. Kind of cool if you think about it. It's really one of the main reasons I'm on board.

PS: This list has already begun and is already useful. Help the cause by suggesting resources in your field.

Open source software for academics

Four teachers and programmers have launched OpenAcademic, which offers free software support for "learners, teachers, and institutions". (Thanks to Academic Commons.) From the site:
The OpenAcademic project is about options. We strive to provide a broad selection of tools that meet an array of needs within an institution. People learn and work differently, and the software that supports that work needs to be flexible enough to match each user. People shouldn’t need to adjust to a machine.

OpenAcademic runs on open source tools. For most users within your community, this information won’t matter. For people who acquire and maintain software (as well as the generally curious), this means a couple things. First, it means that the code that runs OpenAcademic can be downloaded and installed free of charge. Like commercial software, open source software undergoes revision and improvement over time. Unlike commercial software, however, you can have a direct voice in how the software develops. OpenAcademic is an open source project, which means that all code developed by the project will be released back to the community. If you are a programmer, you can participate directly.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

OA journal transfer

Some time in the third trimester of 2006 (which starts next month), the Journal of Nonlinear Mathematical Physics, currently published by Norbert Euler at the Department of Mathematics, Luleå University of Technology in Sweden, will move to Atlantis Press. The journal is OA now and will remain OA after the transition. (Thanks to Ahmed Hindawi.)

Hindawi launches five more OA journals

Hindawi Publishing has added five more OA journals to its collection. From today's announcement:
Hindawi Publishing Corporation is pleased to announce the addition of five new titles to its growing collection of open access journals. The launch of these new titles is an important step in Hindawi's effort to provide high-quality open access journals in all major areas of science, technology, and medicine.

* Advances in Multimedia
* Advances in OptoElectronics
* Metal-Based Drugs
* Modelling and Simulation in Engineering
* Molecular and Supramolecular Materials

...All articles in these journals shall be distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited....Hindawi Publishing Corporation is a rapidly growing STM publisher with 45+ STM journals....

PS: Three of these journals are new launches (first, second, fourth), and the other are acquisitions that Hindawi has converted to OA. Kudos to Hindawi on its steady, relentless progress.

August SOAN

I just mailed the August issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue --my 100th-- takes a close look at 10 lessons drawn from five major funder OA policies or proposals (NIH, Wellcome Trust, RCUK, CURES, and FRPAA). The Top Stories section takes a brief look at the OA practices of the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance, the OA-oriented Rice University Press and MediaCommons, the new Gates Foundation data-sharing requirement, the provost letter in support of FRPAA, and continuing news and comment on the new RCUK policy.

Google Library may add U of California's 34 million volumes

Larry Gordon, UC May Join Google's Library Project, Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2006. Excerpt:

In a move with major significance for the worlds of academic research and publishing, the University of California is in talks to join Google's controversial project to digitize great libraries and offer books online.

Google is keen to have access to UC's 34 million volumes from 100 libraries on 10 campuses, which is described as collectively the largest academic research library in the world. UC wants to delve more deeply into the Internet revolution with a deep-pockets partner like Google paying the costs of scanning books....

Daniel Greenstein, UC's associate vice provost for scholarly information, said that joining the Google Books Library Project - with its ability to search for terms inside texts, not only in catalog listings - would help "create access like we've never had before to our cultural heritage and scholarly memory. It's a whole new paradigm."

In an interview Tuesday, Greenstein said that such digitizing offers protection for writings that might be lost in natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and earthquakes. "It's the kind of stewardship that is absolutely vital to us and the community in general," said Greenstein, who oversees digital projects for UC libraries.

A UC deal with Google could be announced within a month, officials said. However, the arrangement first faces close scrutiny from the UC regents and the publishing world for potential copyright issues and concerns that UC might lose out on future revenue....

To avoid [copyright] trouble, some of the libraries now allow scanning of only public domain books. But the University of Michigan and Google have said they do not need permission to allow a few sentences from copyrighted works online; such "fair use" quotation, they said, can help authors by boosting sales.

UC probably would follow the Michigan model in scanning works both in and out of copyright, Greenstein said. "This is not about breaking the law or stealing material," he said, stressing that university attorneys have approved the idea....

UC last year joined another online book scanning and posting project as part of the Open Content Alliance...Greenstein said UC would keep its membership in that alliance if it also joined the Google initiative. But he and other experts said Google offers much more capacity and resources for scanning. Google wants to digitize several million books in UC's holdings over the next six years or so, a scale the Alliance could not afford, he said....

"The sense is to move forward with caution and to be able to defend that this is fair to the university for the next 30 years," said board President Gerald L. Parsky. In an interview this week, UC Regent Norman J. Pattiz...said he too wanted to ensure that the university shared in any future revenues the pact might generate.

Comment. This is significant for many reasons. UC has the world's largest collection. It's not waiting for the lawsuits against the Google Library project to be resolved. If it joins, it will be the first since the lawsuits were filed, which may open the door for other institutions to join. Its lawyers think Google may lawfully scan copyrighted books, not just public-domain books. It will be the first institution to participate in both Google Library and the Open Content Alliance. And it may negotiate for a cut of Google's revenues from the program.

Another scientific society launches an OA journal

The Journal of the European Optical Society: Rapid Publications is a new peer-reviewed, OA journal from the European Optical Society. (Thanks to Yan Feng.) From the editorial in the inaugural issue:
[I]n contrast to most other journals, the copyright of the published paper remains with the author. This is in line with European law that favours the rights of authors. The only requirement of JEOS:RP is the consent of the author not to publish the paper in another journal, book or other publication means within the first twelve months after publication in JEOS:RP....A second point I would like to bring to your attention is the author fee system. For an open-access journal like JEOS:RP, a fee from the author is indispensable to cover the cost of editing the journal. The European Optical Society has been able to fix this fee at a very low level. The basic fee is 400 [Euros]; full members and branch members of EOS receive a discount of 50 . The length of a submitted paper does not play a role.

PS: Congratulations to the European Optical Society, which joins the small but growing list of scientific societies with OA journals.

Connnecting open source with open data

Jo Walsh, Why open geodata in an open source software foundation? Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, August 1, 2006. Excerpt:

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the pre-OSCON meeting of FLOSS Foundations - a group of people too-intimately involved in the management of free and open source software foundations - representing OSGeo. I gave a short talk on the subject of why a free and open source software foundation finds itself engaging in open access to data efforts, through the nascent Open Geodata Committee within OSGeo, and why it matters so much to us. Here’s the writeup of my notes....

Why is a software foundation supporting open access to geodata activities? Partly because the domain demands data in order to do work....

There’s a gaping disparity in different countries regarding geodata in the public domain....Even if developers are hooked into local government data sharing agreements, they still have no freedom to redistribute those data sets with their packages.

As an independent free software developer with a bug in my head about open access to geodata, I had two potential strategies. I could run around talking to people with data holdings, and people working to gain access to those data holdings, figure out what legislation was holding them back, and try to raise awareness of the issues involved - thus OKFN Open Geodata efforts and Or I could run around with a GPS unit, share my tracks online and spend days painstakingly tracing and annotating free of copyright models of the world around me, contributing to

Open source, open standards and open data are in this worldview a kind of triad, mutually reinforcing....

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Help an OA digitization project

The Society for General Microbiology is digitizing the back issues of its four journals for open access, but can't find copies of all of them. Look at its list of missing issues and help this OA project if you can.

Help SHERPA advance OA

SHERPA is hiring for two positions. From today's announcement:
Help us to open access to the world's research. Two motivated self-starters are required to work in the highly successful SHERPA consortium developing open access web projects. These are high-profile posts and the successful candidates will learn from, and contribute to, national and international developments in the Open Access movement. They will be primarily involved in the DRIVER project, developing a European infrastructure for Open Access to research. The work will involve analysis of funding bodies, universities and research institutions across Europe, identifying stakeholders and producing advocacy strategies and materials to help promote Open Access repositories. These posts will involve some travel within the UK and abroad....

Version 63 of Bailey Bibliography

Charles W. Bailey Jr. has released version 63 of his monumental Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new version cites and organizes over 2,730 print and online articles, books, and other sources on scholarly electronic publishing.

Nature's society journals will open back issues

NPG journals to open access to online archives, a press release from the Nature Publishing Group, August 1, 2006. (Thanks to Gary Price.) Excerpt:
Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is pleased to announce that its academic and society journals will be opening access to all online content published before January 2003.  The archives will be accessible from January 2007.

This policy helps clarify content associated with a site license.  From January 2007, site license access to any NPG publication will include content from the current year plus a four-year rolling archive, with the exception of those journals which already offer an open archive after 12 months.

The decision to open the journal archives has been made jointly by NPG and by the societies for whom we publish.  Making each journal's older content freely accessible will encourage wider usage.  The policy also helps to address the issue of perpetual access to archives of society-owned journals that transfer between publishers....

A new prize for OA archaeology

Eric Kansa, Open Archaeology Prize, Digging Digitally, July 31, 2006. Excerpt:

The Alexandria Archive Institute (AAI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and developing open resources of world cultural heritage, has just announced an “Open Archaeology” prize competition.

The “Junior Researcher Open Zooarchaeology” prize will be awarded the best open-access, open-licensed, digital contribution to zooarchaeology from papers presented at the ICAZ 2006 meeting in Mexico City. This competition is open to all ICAZ meeting participants who are graduate students or have received their PhD within the past 10 years. The best contribution will be determined by a panel of judges, based on its scholarly merits and its potential for reuse in research or teaching.

The AAI will organize a series of other “Open Archaeology” competitions in the next few months. Please check back for future announcements.

Comment. This is a great way to stimulate good scholarship, bring OA to the attention of young scholars, and (above all) mix the two and ensure that some of the best new scholarship is also OA. Organizations in other disciplines should adapt the idea to their own fields. Kudos to the AAI.

Special issue on institutional repositories

The new issue of Program: electronic library and information systems (vol. 40, no. 3, 2006) is devoted to institutional repositories. All nine articles should be useful to IR maintainers, but the four below are the most germane to my focus here (more on OA to research, less on preservation and technical topics). The journal only provides abstracts free online, though in her editorial in this issue, Lucy Tedd encourages authors to self-archive. (Thanks to Stuart Lewis.)

Monday, July 31, 2006

Consumer groups for FRPAA

Eight consumer groups have joined the Alliance for Taxpayer Access and pledged their support for FRPAA. From today's announcement:
Eight consumer groups have announced their support for the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (S.2695)....Consumer groups add their voices to those of universities, libraries, researchers, publishers, and patients – together representing thousands of individuals and institutions – that support the bill.

“It’s gratifying to have the support of organizations that represent consumer interests and rights, especially in the realm of information and technology,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Research Coalition, an ATA founding member). “We all share a belief in the advancement of science for the public interest.”

The Consumers Union, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports, and Consumer Project on Technology (CPTech), are joined by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Essential Action, IP Justice, Public Knowledge, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and Union for the Public Domain in pledging their support and applauding the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006.

“Technology has opened the door to the sharing of knowledge,” said Manon Ress of the Consumer Project on Technology. “The Public Access Act constitutes a major step toward using the barrier-free potential of the Internet to provide all stakeholders in the scientific enterprise – including the public – access to critical information.”

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access encourages taxpayers and discrete stakeholders in the scientific process to add their support for this important legislation. Details are online [here].

New issue of Information Services and Use

The new issue of Information Services and Use (vol. 26, no. 1, 2006) is now online. Here are the OA-related articles --only abstracts are free online, at least so far.

Library of Congress lowers expectations for World Digital Library

LC Union Warns About Google, Restates Core Mission, Library Journal, July 31, 2006. A short, unsigned news story. Excerpt:

Google's mission, [Saul] Schniderman [president of the Library of Congress Professional Guild] contends, runs into copyright issues --and so does the World Digital Library. LC "cannot digitize the vast bulk of its holdings while the U.S. copyright law remains in effect.... We would therefore caution Congress not to regard the digitization of collections as the Library's central mission or core function." And Schniderman pointed to the perceived tradeoff between going digital and preserving LC's cataloging functions: "[W]hile digitization projects are useful and prestigious, they provide access to only a microscopic portion of the Library's collections, and for that reason should not be regarded as core functions that are more important than existing operations, such as our cataloging and classification work."

Public interest v. publisher interest

Stevan Harnad, Optimality, Inevitability, and Conflicts of Interest, Open Access Archivangelism, July 30, 2006.
Summary: There is undeniably a conflict of interest today between what is best for both the research community and the public that funds it, on the one hand, and what is best for the publishing community, on the other. Nor is there any doubt about how this conflict of interest can and will be resolved: Open Access. The only thing at issue is how long the optimal and inevitable can and will be delayed, and how to reach it as soon as possible.

Australia increases funding for six e-research projects

Australia's Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) has announced a $15 million enhancement to six collaborative e-research programs. From today's press release:

The Australian Government has allocated $15 million under the Systemic Infrastructure Initiative for six highly collaborative proposals as part of its ongoing commitment to strengthen innovation and improve research outcomes.  The proposals will provide Australian scientists with access to research infrastructure that will enhance Australia’s research capabilities....These projects add to the suite of strategic infrastructure investments under the Australian Government’s $8.3 billion Backing Australia’s Ability initiative.

The six participating projects are:

  1. Australian Research Enabling Environment (ARCHER)
  2. Research Activityflow and Middleware Priorities (RAMP)
  3. Australian Research Repositories Online to the World (ARROW) - Stage 2
  4. Legal Frameworks for e-Research
  5. Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (APSR) - Stage 2
  6. Integrated Content Environment for Research and Scholarship (ICE-RS)

Contract to run UKPMC announced

From a press release issued today by the British Library:
Scientists will be able to access a vast collection of biomedical research at the touch of a button thanks to a major new initiative that aims to promote the free transfer of ideas in a bid to speed up scientific discovery. Based on a model currently used in the United States, UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) will provide free access to an online digital archive of peer-reviewed research papers in the medical and life sciences.

The Wellcome Trust, as part of a nine-strong group of UK research funders, announced that the contract to run UKPMC has been awarded to a partnership between the British Library, The University of Manchester and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI)....

UKPMC will ensure that the digital archive of published articles resulting from research paid for by any of the funding consortium will be freely available, fully searchable and extensively linked to other online resources....

In the initial stages of the UKPMC programme, the British Library will lead on setting up the service, developing the process for handling author submissions and marketing the resource to the research community.

The University of Manchester will host the service – on servers based at MIMAS (Manchester Information and Associated Services) – and will support the process of engaging with higher-education users.

EBI, which is part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), will contribute its biomedical domain knowledge and state-of-the-art text-mining tools to integrate the research literature with the underlying bioinformatics databases....

UK PubMed Central will provide an enhanced way of accessing published research, preserving it for prosperity and making it richly searchable in ways that are not currently available.

The first phase of the implementation will involve mirroring the American PubMed Central database. The partners will then establish the technical infrastructure of the service, including the facility for ingesting articles, and will also begin to engage more widely with the user communities. Launch of the service is scheduled for January 2007.

The UKPMC Funders Group consists of: Arthritis Research Campaign, The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, The British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, The Association of Medical Research Charities, The Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Executive Health Department, the Department of Health, The Joint Information Systems Committee, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.


  1. This contract clears the way for nine UK funding agencies to provide OA (through different internal policies) to the research they fund. That's big step forward.
  2. Note that just last week the ALPSP urged the British Library not to involve itself with UKPMC. Also note that two of the eight Research Councils (the BBSRC and the MRC) are members of the UKPMC Funders Group.

Update. JISC has issued a press release (August 1) on its own role as one of the nine funders of UKPMC.

Rollyo for 25 UK repositories

Les Carr has used Rollyo (Roll your own search engine) to create a search engine for the 25 most populated UK institutional repositories.

Three pillars of open science

Luis Ibáñez, Rick Avila, and Stephen Aylward, Open Source and Open Science: How it is Changing the Medical Imaging Community, in Biomedical Imaging: Macro to Nano, 2006: 3rd IEEE International Symposium, IEEE, April 6, 2006, pp. 690-693. (Thanks to Ahmed Hindawi.) Not even an abstract of the version published in the volume of conference proceedings is free online, at least so far, but here's the abstract of the version presented at the conference:
The Open Science movement advances the idea that the results of scientific research must be made available as public resource. Limiting access to scientific information hinders innovation, complicates validation, and wastes valuable socio-economic resources. Open Science is an efficient way of overcoming the nearsightedness of the contemporary obsession with intellectual property. The practice of Open Science is based on three pillars: Open Access, Open Data, and Open Source. Given that the practice of medical image research pertains to a field that affects the health condition of the public, it is of paramount importance to introduce the concepts of Open Science in domains such as animal research, drug discovery, clinical trials, computer assisted diagnosis and computer assisted treatment.

From the body of the paper:

Open Source, Open Access and Open Data make possible to restore the openness that must characterize the endeavor of scientific research but that unfortunately has been lost in the ambitious quest for ownership of intellectual property. This openness brings both ethical and technical advantages to the practice of scientific research, which is of foremost importance in the domain of medical imaging, where public funds are commonly invested with the purpose of improving the health care delivered to the population.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

More on OA podcasts of lectures

Obadiah Tarzan Greenberg has blogged some notes about OA lecture podcasts, primarily at UC Santa Cruz but also at a few other institutions in California, Taiwan, and Australia.

CERN's contribution to OA

Stevan Harnad, CERN's Historic Role in Open Access, Open Access Archivangelism, July 29, 2006.
Summary: CERN has been one of the scholarly/scientific world's leaders in designing and implementing one of the first, and still the biggest and most successful institutional self-archiving policies: an institutional self-archiving mandate. As a result, CERN’s Institutional Repository (IR) is well on the way to housing -- and thereby providing Open Access to -- 100% of CERN's own current published research article output (and soon its past output too). CERN has also designed CDS Invenio, a software package for creating Open Access Institutional Repositories. CERN is promoting its software (for "digital library management") but not promoting its exemplary self-archiving policy: Instead of first making sure that the rest of the research world follows CERN's own sterling example by self-archiving 100% of each institution's own respective research output, so as to make 100% of research worldwide OA, CERN is busy promoting the conversion of the world to Open Access publishing! Charity may begin at home, but it does not end there! CERN should be helping to convert the world to 100% OA before trying to reform publishing. If and when CERN does put its considerable weight and energy behind propagating its self-archiving policy to the rest of the world, then CERN and its CDS invenio software too will have earned for themselves, alongside the University of Southampton and its GNU EPrints software, the status of "World’s Best Practice" infsofar as OA IRs are concerned.

PS: Don't forget that Tim Berners-Lee developed the the world wide web standards and technologies at CERN in 1990 and with CERN's permission and support released them to the public domain in 1991. Without that, OA today would be limited to USENET, BITNET, or Gopher.

For the provosts: beyond the open letter to institutional policies

Stevan Harnad, Putting Principled Support Into Practice: What Provosts Need to Mandate, Open Access Archivangelism, July 29, 2006. Excerpt:
Long-standing members of the American Scientist Open Access Forum will recognize some exceedingly familiar themes voiced (at long last) in the...2006 Open Letter by 25 US University Provosts in support of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA). But having now expressed their support for the federal self-archiving mandate, there is absolutely no need for the provosts to wait for the Act's adoption to act! This would be an excellent time for each to put their support into practice by adopting an institutional self-archiving mandate of their own, at their own institution (and registering it in ROARMAP for other institutions to emulate).

Annotation tool for OA scholarship

Textensor has announced the first beta release of Notate. Excerpt:
Notate is a web-based tool for annotating and tagging words and phrases within documents. It creates a searchable index of all the annotations you make and displays the annotations against the text they refer to when you revisit a site. Annotations can be kept private or can be shared within a group such as a lab or journal club....

The idea for Notate grew out of the problem that although the scientific literature is increasingly available online, it is almost completely unindexed and only minimally tagged. Reference citations take you to the top of a paper that may be many pages long, instead of the actual place where the quoted statement is made. We ought to be able to do better than this given the potential of modern web browsers to offer a more interactive experience, and let people make more use from the huge volume of papers and other documents on the web.

The annotation system changes this by allowing tagging and annotation of single words and phrases within on-line material. Every annotated term is indexed and cross referenced with any tags that are attached.

Although its origins are in the drive to make better use of on-line scientific literature, the system works equally well for many other forms of content used in web-based research. The ability to tag notes and add replies in-situ can help cut down on the use of email for group discussions.