Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Cambridge launches an OA hybrid journal program

Cambridge University Press has launched Cambridge Open, an OA hybrid journal program. The program has no web site yet, but see yesterday's announcement (not posted to SOAF until today):

From August 14th 2006 authors submitting articles to selected Cambridge Journals will be able to make their articles freely available to everyone, immediately on publication. Building on the success of Breast Cancer Online, the first Cambridge Open Access project, and Neuron Glia Biology, which provides Open Access after 6-12 months, Cambridge Open Option introduces a new Open Access model to a further 15 journals from the Cambridge list.

Gavin Swanson, STM Editor-in-Chief at Cambridge Journals said: "I've been involved in the Open Access world for some time and the launch of Cambridge Open Option is the result of a great deal of painstaking research into best practice. I'm confident that we have a robust model that will benefit both authors and researchers equally. We're hoping that this will become a major part of our journals publishing in the future and that it will help us give greater access to the results of scientific research reported in our journals."

Once their paper has been accepted for publication, authors can choose whether or not to make it freely available to everyone on publication via Cambridge Journals Online (CJO). In this way, all of the editorial decision processes are maintained in a neutral way. The journal's Editor and reviewers will not know that the paper is to be included in the program until it is accepted.

All Cambridge asks in order to provide this service is that the author, or their institution or funding body, pays a fee to cover costs associated with the publication process, from peer-review of the submitted manuscript, through the copy-editing and typesetting, to online-hosting of the definitive version of the published article. The charge that will be applied for each article is £1500/$2700. The costs associated with producing printed issues are not included.

Papers will continue to be made available in both print and online versions; the only difference is that Open Access articles will be freely available online....

It is anticipated that the subscription prices of the participating journals will be adjusted in the future to take into account the impact of the Open Access publishing model. The level of change will depend on the uptake of the Cambridge Open Option by authors. Any subscription price changes will occur on a title by title basis....

Cambridge Open Option encompasses the following journals published by Cambridge University Press:
Journal of Agricultural Science
Cardiology in the Young
Development and Psychopathology
Experimental Agriculture
Expert Reviews in Molecular Medicine
Geological Magazine
Genetical Research
Epidemiology and Infection
Laser and Particle Beams
Journal of Plasma Physics
Psychological Medicine
Journal of Tropical Ecology
Visual Neuroscience

Cambridge University Press Journals allow authors to post their articles in personal and departmental web pages and in institutional repositories. Authors can immediately post their own versions of articles (as submitted but prior to editorial input from Cambridge University Press) on their personal or departmental web pages or institutional repositories. They can also post the full pdf version of the published article 12 months after first publication. The full terms and conditions relating to institutional repository and author hosting are provided to all authors contributing to Cambridge Journals.


  1. I hope you're counting. This is the third OA hybrid program introduced in August, and August isn't even two weeks old yet. The first two were BMJ Unlocked (August 3; see my comments) and Wiley Funded Access (August 8; see my comments).
  2. Like other hybrid programs, this is a welcome step. It will enlarge the body of OA literature even if the author uptake is low. Cambridge promises to lower subscription prices in proportion to author uptake, which is good, but says nothing about waiving fees in case of economic hardship, letting authors retain copyright, or depositing copies of the Cambridge Open articles in an OA repository independent of Cambridge.
  3. I applaud Cambridge's decision to continue to allow immediate OA archiving of peer-reviewed author manuscripts, even when authors choose not to participate in Cambridge Open. That's a step most of the other OA hybrid programs have been unwilling to take.

Google Book Search is hiring

Google's London office is hiring an operations supervisor for Google Book Search.

OA and grey literature

John Willinsky, GL, Open Access, and Scholarly Publishing, Slaw, August 11, 2006. John is the guest-blogger at Slaw nowadays. Excerpt:

Once there was a way to tell the grey literature from what had been clearly and cleanly published in black and white. It was all in the font and binding. For the better part of the twentieth century, the grey literature was typically the work of typewriters, mimeographs, photocopies and other devices, with the pages stapled, paper-clipped, and three-hole punched in binders, to [put] not too fine a spin on it....

The computer and laser printer changed some of that by removing any typographic distinctions that set the grey literature off from work that had been formally published, while the Internet over the last decade-and-a-half in scholarly publishing has almost completely blurred critical aspects of the distinctions between grey and published literature, as those distinctions apply to academic communication. My work with the Public Knowledge Project has been to explore how greater access to scholarly work is reshaping the possibilities for the circulation of this form of knowledge, and one aspect of that is how in some scholarly fields, such as physics, that circulation is going global well before a work is formally published, while at the same time, the formal peer-reviewed publication of that work is no longer the principal site of its circulation.

In 1991,what is now known as was started by Paul Ginsparg, as a place where “pre-prints” of papers in high-energy physics could be posted....These papers include early drafts, revised versions, published versions, and corrected versions, with sometimes a mix of versions of the same paper through its iterations. With tens of thousands of connections made daily to the site, it seems pretty clear that a good number of researchers are using the site as their portal into the literature, whether it black, grey, or white....[O]pen circulation of the work collected in represents a blurring of just the sort of distinctions that GL once served so well to make.

The open and free circulation facilitated by the Internet, which has been so dramatically demonstrated by, has given rise to an “open access movement” within scholarly communication....

What all of this points to is how the wider, more immediate and openly public, circulation of research and scholarship is trumping the traditional distinctions of the print literature. Much of this open research has been peer-reviewed, with the details of the journal publication clearly identified on the article, but it may not be in an officially published form. On top of this, corresponding developments with “open data” are talking place, making another form of GL immediately and widely available for new forms of collaboration and reanalysis. Governments and the courts are posting reams of material online. The Wikipedia and the blogosphere represent grass-root efforts to reshape the basis of participation in human knowledge. What has been made public by being published is no longer a black and white issue. There is still plenty of room for judgments and distinctions to be made about the quality, type, and nature of this knowledge. This growing openness around what is known assists in the very assessment and verification. I, for one, do not see grey skies ahead, but something brighter.

Who pays for research and publication and how it affects who and what gets published

Surabhi S. Liyanage and C. Raina MacIntyre, Do financial factors such as author page charges and industry funding impact on the nature of published research in infectious diseases? Health Information and Libraries Journal, September 2006. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:
Objectives: The question of who pays for research to be conducted and published is an important one as it may result in publication bias. The traditional model of medical publishing has relied on subscriptions for funding. There has been increasing interest in making the results of scientific research freely available. One proposed mechanism is an author-pays system, which shifts cost from subscribers to authors. We investigated the impact of author page charges on the nature and type of published research, and the association of industry funding with types of published research.

Methods: Four infectious diseases journals with comparable scope were studied—two with page charges and two without. Variables included type of research study, area of research, author demographics, study setting and industry funding. The differences between a subscription model vs. a mixed model (author page charges and subscription charges) were studied. We also investigated changes within the same journal once it had moved from a subscription model to a mixed model.

Results: Authors from developing countries were significantly less likely to be published in the mixed-model journals (OR 0.25, 95% CI 0.15–0.41, P < 0.001). Clinical trials published in any type of journal were significantly more likely to be industry funded than any other type of research (OR 12.7, 95% CI 7.0–22.9, P < 0.001). Industry-funded research was significantly less likely to be about diseases affecting predominantly the developing world (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.25–0.89, P < 0.05).

Conclusion: There is clearly a relationship between industry funding and certain types of published research. The model of funding of journal publishing can also affect the nature of published research. Shifting publishing costs to authors favours well-funded organizations, industry sponsored research and wealthy countries. Such potential for publication bias must be considered when planning for open access models.

Comments. I don't have access to the full article and base these comments only on the abstract.

  1. The authors use the term "page charges" to refer to processing fees charged by some OA and OA-hybrid journals. This is misleading, since the term already refers to fees charged by non-OA journals that pay for benefits other than OA. Processing fees at OA journals and hybrids buy OA and shouldn't be confused with other author-side fees that don't buy OA.
  2. There's no doubt that OA journals charging author-side fees will deter authors from developing countries (and indigent authors from developed countries) unless the journals adopt a policy, as PLoS, BMC and others have done, to waive fees in cases of economic hardship. It seems that the authors only studied OA hybrids where (so far) fee waivers are rare. Readers shouldn't conclude that the same barriers to entry exist at full OA journals with waiver policies.
  3. Most OA journals charge no author-side fees at all. But the authors only studied fee-based OA journals. Again, readers shouldn't conclude that the same barriers to entry exist at the majority of OA journals, which charge no author-side fees.

How funders are accelerating progress toward OA

Steven William Glover, Anne Webb, and Colette Gleghorn, Open access publishing in the biomedical sciences: could funding agencies accelerate the inevitable changes? Health Information and Libraries Journal, September 2006. (Thanks to Trish Chatterley.) Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:
Background: Open access is making a noticeable impact on access to information. In 2005, many major research funders, including the Wellcome Trust, National Institutes for Health (NIH), and the Research Councils UK (RCUK), set out their position in a number of statements. Of particular note was the stipulation that authors receiving grants must deposit their final manuscript in an open access forum within 6–12 months of publication.

Observations: The paper will look at the open access position statements issued by some of the major funding bodies in the biomedical sciences. The paper will also look at the models used by publishers to provide open or delayed access, such as Oxford Open from Oxford University Press, HighWire Press' delayed access policy, BioMed Central, and Public Library of Science (PLoS). There are now over 1.2 million articles in PubMed that are freely accessible via publishers' websites.

Conclusion/discussion: Could funding agencies accelerate the move to open access? The list of funding agencies supporting open access is growing. The National Institutes for Health and the Wellcome Trust have been joined by many of the world's major funders in biomedical research whose goal it is to make their research findings available with no barriers.

PS: The funder contribution to OA progress is large and undeniable. For my review of the major policies and the lessons to be learned from them, see my article from this month's SOAN.

Progress and resistance to OA

Klaus Graf, Wissenschaftliches Publizieren mit "Open Access" - Initiativen und Widerstände, in Gudrun Gersmann and Katja Mruck (eds.), Historical Social Research, Vol. 29, No. 1, 2004, pp. 64-75. Self-archived August 9, 2006. In German but with this English-language abstract:
In the sense of an "Open Access" movement this article is an appeal for making scientific publications accessible in Internet free-of-charge and worldwide without any restrictive "permission barriers." It presents projects and initiatives in both the United States and Germany and advocates a stronger reception of American approaches here in Germany. According to this article, "Open Access" is the answer to the crisis scientific literature is facing, which is not only reflected in the professional journal prices, but also means that an anthology is maybe subsidized four times by local authorities, and the state then has to buy back its own research findings from commercial publishing houses. There are also thoughts about providing "Open Access" not only for books and articles. The article closes by dealing with the resistance and barriers to this idea and deliberating possible solutions, with an emphasis on the legal framework.

Removing articles from OA repositories

Stevan Harnad, Optimal OA IR Preprint and Postprint Deposit and Withdrawal Policy, Open Access Archivangelism, August 11, 2006.
Summary: At a time when the immediate problem for Open Access (OA) Institutional Repositories (IRs) is not removal but deposit (IRs are still mostly empty), there is no need for an institutional or departmental mediator/moderator/approver phase in the self-archiving process. Authorised institutional authors should all be able to deposit/approve and delete/approve their own papers, instantaneously. If it is felt that there is a need for vetting deposits, let the deposits be monitored only after they have been successfully deposited and are visible in the IR. A distinction also needs to be made between (i) unrefereed preprints and (ii) refereed postprints of published articles. (i) If you want authors to be willing to deposit their unrefereed preprints at all, you must allow them to remove them at will, instantaneously. (ii) For refereed postprints, 99% of the time authors will never want to remove them. They are published. The postprint is merely a supplement to the published version, for those would-be users who cannot afford access to the published version. The published version (at the publisher's website) cannot be withdrawn; so withdrawing the access-supplement in the author's own IR is in general pointless.

Preprint/postprint archiving and central/distributed archiving

Stevan Harnad, Publishing vs. Access-Provision; Unrefereed Preprints vs. Refereed Postprints; IRs vs. CRs vs. VRs, Open Access Archivangelism. August 11, 2006. Summary:
(i) An Institutional Repository (IR) is not the same thing as a Central (uni-disciplinary or multidisciplinary) Repository (CR) like arXiv or PubMed Central.
    (ii) A pre-refereeing preprint is not the same as a refereed postprint.
    (iii) The first and most fundamental goal of the Open Access movement is to provide Open Access to the published, peer-reviewed research literature.
    (iv) Open Access to pre-refereeing preprints is and must remain an optional bonus that the author may or may not provide, temporarily or permanently, over and above access to the refereed postprint.
    (v) Open Access to the refereed postprint is a necessity, across all disciplines, to supplement Toll Access (via journal subscription/license/pay-per-view).
    (vi) Open Access to the unrefereed preprint is not a necessity, not necessarily discipline-universal, and should not be portrayed as such.
    (vii) Central Repositories (CRs) evolved on the basis of spontaneous, voluntary self-archiving, of both preprints and postprints.
    (viii) Institutional self-archiving is a matter of systematic institutional policy, and pertains specifically to refereed, published postprints.
    (ix) Institutional self-archiving is (largely) restricted to the institution's own authors self-archiving their own work: preprints and postprints.
    (x) Institutions can and should control the content of their IRs (mainly by restricting it to their own researchers' output and by ensuring that it includes all the institutional published postprint output).
    (xi) The fact that institutional employees are the self-archivers gives IRs a level of control and answerability that superordinate CRs like arxiv -- in which anyone in the world can deposit -- do not and cannot have (although research-funder CRs are a partial exception).
    (xii) But for neither IRs nor CRs should access-provision (self-archiving), be conflated with publication, nor preprints (provisional) with postprints (peer-reviewed, published, and permanent).

Friday, August 11, 2006

Editorial board of Elsevier journal resigns in protest

Another journal declaration of independence is in progress. Yesterday the entire editorial board of Topology resigned to protest Elsevier's refusal to lower the subscription price. The editors' letter was posted to PAMnet this morning. (Thanks to George Porter.) Excerpt from the letter:
Dear Mr [Robert] Ross [of Elsevier Science],

We regret to have to tell you that we, the Editorial Board of Topology, are resigning with effect from 31 December 2006.

As you are well aware, the Editors have been concerned about the price of Topology since Elsevier gained control of the journal in 1994. We believe that the price, in combination with Elsevier's policies for pricing mathematics journals more generally, has had a significant and damaging effect on Topology's reputation in the mathematical research community, and that this is likely to become increasingly serious and difficult, indeed impossible, to reverse in the future.

As you know, we have made efforts over the last five to ten years to negate this effect....

The journal Topology has an illustrious history with which we, on becoming editors, were extremely proud to be associated. It owd its foundation to the inspiration and vision of the great Oxford topologist JHC Whitehead in the late 1950s, and the Honorary Advisory Editorial Board and also our predecessors on the Editorial Board have included some of the greatest names in 20th century mathematics. We believe that the journal's ethos and structure, based around a group of editors making editorial decisions jointly in Oxford with the expert assistance and advice of highly eminent editors elsewhere around the world, has many strengths and has provided a great service to the mathematical community in the past. However we feel that Elsevier's policies toward the publication of mathematics research have undermined that legacy.

Therefore, with great reluctance and sadness, we have made the difficult decision to resign.

[signed] Martin Bridson, Ralph Cohen, Nigel Hitchin, Frances Kirwan, Marc Lackenby, Jean Lannes, Wolfgang Lück, John Roe, and Ulrike Tillmann.

Bailey profile of Linköping University Electronic Press

Charles W. Bailey, Jr. has started a series on his blog about digital university presses. He kicked off the series last week with a profile of the Australian National University's ANU E Press. Yesterday he posted number two in the series, a profile of the Linköping University Electronic Press, which "publishes freely available digital conference proceedings, databases, journals, series, reports, and theses."

More on CMAJ and Open Medicine

David Spurgeon, Canadian medical journal faces threat from new online rival, BMJ, August 12, 2006. Only the first 150 words are accessible to non-subscribers. Excerpt:

The journal of the Canadian Medical Association, CMAJ, whose editor and deputy editor were dismissed in February in a fight over editorial independence (BMJ 2006;332: 503 [Free Full Text]), may have to compete with a new open access journal. It is being created by former CMAJ editors, including the deputy editor, Anne-Marie Todkill, and editorial board members.

The new journal, Open Medicine, is a "Canadian health and clinical medicine journal dedicated to furthering integrity, independence, and open access in scholarly publishing," says its website. The site is currently under development, although the journal is accepting and reviewing manuscripts.

India needs an Alliance for Taxpayer Access

Subbiah Arunachalam (Arun), Need for an Alliance for taxpayer Access in India, a posting to bytesforall, August 9, 2006. Excerpt:
Much of research in India in the fields of science, technology, agriculture, medicine, social sciences, economics, etc. is funded out of taxpayers' money. A few years ago, a DST report quoted a figure of about 75% for the share of publicly funded scientific research. However the findings of these research programmes, usually in the form of research papers published in refereed journals, is not easily accessible even to Indian scientists at large let alone the public, for the simple reason scientists publish their research papers in a wide variety of journals published from many countries and no library in India or for that matter anywhere in the world can afford to subscribe to all these journals. Also, some journal publishers fix their subscription prices at astronomical levels....

[Indian authors] may publish their papers in any journal they want to. But if, at the same time, they also place the papers in an interoperable institutional open access archive (or repository) anyone with an Internet connection can access it. This is precisely why enlightened institutions such as the Indian Academy of Sciences and the Indian Institute of Science are subscribing to the idea of open access. All eleven Academy journals are open access. Anyone anywhere in the world can access any paper published in these journals - full text and not just abstracts - through the Internet. The Indian Institute of Science is maintaining an open access repository of full text papers and they are on their way to placing every paper published by the IISc faculty and students in this repository. Currently they have more than 5,000 papers....

What can we the common people, the taxpaying public, do? Well in the USA they have an organization called the Alliance for Taxpayer Access; please see [the August issue of its newsletter].  They have over 75 institutional members and they are fighting for open access to all publicly funded research. Through their advocacy, the Alliance members hope to change not only the US policy but also the attitude and behaviour of individual scientists.

Enlightened Indians in all walks of life could form a national organization similar to the US Alliance for Taxpayer Access and persuade the government to mandate open access all research publications resulting from public funding. The Alliance could write to major funding agencies and apex bodies (such as DST, DSIR, ICAR, ICMR, DAE, DRDO, Dept of Space, Department of Ocean development, UGC, etc.), the Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister and the science academies and professional societies urging them to adopt a comprehensive open access policy in India. In the US a bill is at an advanced stage of discussion in the Congress and in the UK six of the eight Research Councils have already announced their support to open access. The Wellcome Trust, one of the largest funder of life science reserach has mandated OA for all papers resulting from their support. Surely we in India can open up the scientific and scholarly literature.

PS: Arun is exactly right. The ATA has been very effective in the US. Every country should have an equivalent.

German petition for OA

Klaus Graf has launched a petition in the German edition of Wikipedia calling on DigiZeitschriften to provide more OA to scholarship by consenting authors and scholarship in the public domain. Read the petition in German or in Google's English.

Berkman Center report on copyright, education, and OA

William W. Fisher et al., The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, undated but apparently released on August 10, 2006. Excerpt:
This foundational white paper reports on a year-long study by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, examining the relationship between copyright law and education. In particular, we wanted to explore whether innovative educational uses of digital technology were hampered by the restrictions of copyright. We found that provisions of copyright law concerning the educational use of copyrighted material, as well as the business and institutional structures shaped by that law, are among the most important obstacles to realizing the potential of digital technology in education....

[T]he following emerged as the most significant copyright-related obstacles to educational uses of content:

  • Unclear or inadequate copyright law relating to crucial provisions such as fair use and educational use;
  • Extensive adoption of “digital rights management” technology to lock up content;
  • Practical difficulties obtaining rights to use content when licenses are necessary;
  • Undue caution by gatekeepers such as publishers or educational administrators.

While the primary task of the foundational white paper was to identify these obstacles, the paper concludes with some discussion of paths toward reform that might improve the situation. It suggests that certain types of legal reform, technological improvements in the rights clearance process, educator agreement on best practices, and increased use of open access distribution would help overcome the obstacles we identified....

Even though many scholars wish to eliminate the toll structure currently in place for the distribution of digital versions of their works by offering no-cost digital copies, they still have an interest in protecting their intellectual property, and regulating how it is used. Accordingly, even accounting for the open access movement (discussed further in section 7.4), limited use of DRM systems by individual educators and their institutions might increase with time. Although academics tend to reject DRM systems as a means for charging users for access to their works, they may nevertheless use DRM systems to ensure the integrity of their works, attribution for their efforts, and enforcement of restrictions on how their works may be used....

More [education about copyright], particularly if it is focused on educational uses, should improve understanding and perhaps combat the apathy and caution that sometimes lead to unnecessary self-imposed restrictions and impede adoption of open access practices....

(Professor Peter Suber, a well-known advocate for open access to scholarly research, has prepared an excellent overview of the topic here.)...

The most important [obstacles to open access] include:

  • Resistance from the academic publishing industry to changes in its fundamental business model, which depends on enforcement of intellectual property rights (this industry effectively includes nonprofit scholarly societies that rely on their journals for significant revenue, university presses, and journals such as law reviews that are associated with universities, as well as large commercial publishers);
  • Concern by scholars that publishing in an open-access journal or similar venue might lack the professional prestige associated with publishing in established traditional journals;
  • Apathy and inertia by scholars and educational institutions who do not perceive the benefits of open access as justifying the effort, expense, and upheaval of shifting to more open distribution models;
  • Uneven adoption between different academic disciplines, with greater use of open access among scientists and less in humanities, social sciences, and professional fields.

There is already a vibrant community of organizations and activists promoting open access in the face of these impediments. Educators can contribute to this cause in many ways, by promoting open access within their institutions and by using it in their own work. Those publishing in traditional journals can negotiate to retain certain copyright powers, including at least the right to self-archive. The Scholar’s Copyright Project at Science Commons recently released three versions of model Author’s Addenda that scholars in all fields can append to the form copyright assignment contracts used by journal publishers.

Open access is spreading, and will continue to grow. It will never become a universal mode for distributing content, particularly content of a more commercial nature (which educators often wish to use in their teaching or writing). Nevertheless, continued efforts to increase open distribution will remain an important means of enabling educational uses of content. When content is available, for instance, in an open-access journal or under a Creative Commons license, the other obstacles discussed in this white paper simply dissolve. Because the impact of such minimally restricted content is so profound, any increase in its amount will greatly improve the landscape for educational uses of content.

More on OA to Indonesian avian flu data

Helen Branswell, Release of Indonesian avian, human H5N1 viruses may offer insights on spread, CBC News, August 10, 2006. Excerpt:

The scientific community may soon have a clearer picture of what is going on with the H5N1 avian flu virus in Indonesia, the country which most concerns many experts following the worrisome virus. After hoarding for months the genetic blueprints of the viruses isolated from both poultry and people, Indonesian officials have done an about-face and are sharing a large number of both avian and human viral isolates....

Last week the country’s health minister, Siti Fadilah Supari, announced that Indonesia wanted the genetic sequences of all the viruses isolated from human cases in Indonesia to be put into open access databases where any scientist could study them....

The Geelong lab has been working to sequence the avian viruses and should have some initial results any day now, [Peter] Roeder said. [Roeder is an animal health officer with the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization.] That information will be placed in the public domain, he added. "As soon as the sequence data become available to the government of Indonesia we have an agreement with them that they’ll make it available to the international community."

Sequence data for viruses isolated from about 40 human cases has in recent days been placed in public access databases. When the World Health Organization learned Indonesia was willing to share the data, it asked the two laboratories that had sequenced the viruses for Indonesia to put the information into the public domain. Up until then the data had been stored in a password-protected database accessible only to scientists working for the WHO or for laboratories that do this type of work for the organization. The two labs quickly complied with the WHO request....

Dr. Ilaria Capua, an Italian veterinary virologist who has spearheaded a campaign to put sequence data for all H5N1 viruses in the public domain, said Indonesia’s move may be part of a trend to greater openness. "There is a growing consensus on this data sharing," Capua, who runs an avian influenza reference laboratory for the International Organization for Animal Health, said from Rome. "I would applaud Indonesia and then invite all the other health ministers (of affected countries) to follow that example. And then the veterinary isolates will come."...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Making metadata consistent in OA repositories

Timothy Lewy, A Consistent Reference Service for the Interoperation of EPrint Repositories, a project report submitted for the award of Computer Science (MEng) at the University of Southampton School of Electronics and Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering, Sciences and Mathematics, May 9, 2006. Self-archived August 10, 2006.
Abstract: Current Institutional Repository packages do a poor job of maintaining the article’s metadata in a consistent fashion. Documents and other entities are unreliably identified and there exists no mechanism for correlating related data between multiple repositories. A consistent reference service (CRS) mediates and maps between different identifiers, from multiple sources. It overcomes the shortcomings of packages such as EPrints and allows the construction of useful applications and services, such as automatic CV generation or citation impact profiling. This project has developed a highly efficient and scalable CRS, capable of tracking many thousand identifiers. It utilises semantic web technologies to remain open and responsive, providing intuitive and flexible services for searching and retrieving information. A sophisticated plug-in for the EPrints software has been developed, which utilises the CRS to improve the inherent consistency of the metadata; reinforce the use of local naming schemes and significantly enhance the repository’s user interface. A CRS deployment is already in active use by researchers of the ReSIST Project.

Praise for Manitoba's open data policy

Michael Cross, Canada proves itself to be genuine land of the free, The Guardian, August 10, 2006. Excerpt:

The government of Manitoba says it was the first in Canada to make all its publicly funded geospatial data freely available, without any licensing terms, to government, businesses and citizens. This is the policy that Technology Guardian's Free our Data campaign calls on the UK government to adopt.

Officials say that the Manitoba Land Initiative, adopted in 2000, is based on sound business sense. "Frankly, it just did not make good economic sense to try and sell data that the taxpayers already paid for, and it was costing us much more to try to sell data and manage distribution then we were making in revenue," says Harvey Pokrant, director of the information technology services branch in the provincial capital Winnipeg....

This is a vivid contrast to the UK government approach, which encourages state bodies holding data to treat it as intellectual property and to charge for its use, even by other parts of government....

In theory, freeing data along the Manitoba model should make life easier for officials creating policies for environmental protection, managing natural resources and encouraging investment in the province. It should also encourage the private sector to create value-added products based on public data. Pokrant says there is evidence that this is happening....

myADS-arXiv as a "tailor-made, open access, virtual journal"

E. Henneken, M.J. Kurz and six co-authors, myADS-arXiv - a Tailor-Made, Open Access, Virtual Journal, a preprint self-archived August 4, 2006.
Abstract: The myADS-arXiv service provides the scientific community with a one stop shop for staying up-to-date with a researcher’s field of interest. The service provides a powerful and unique filter on the enormous amount of bibliographic information added to the ADS on a daily basis. It also provides a complete view with the most relevant papers available in the subscriber’s field of interest. With this service, the subscriber will get to know the lastest developments, popular trends and the most important papers. This makes the service not only unique from a technical point of view, but also from a content point of view. On this poster we will argue why myADS-arXiv is a tailor-made, open access, virtual journal and we will illustrate its unique character.

Important reaffirmation that facts are not copyrightable

John Blossom, U.S. Court Rejects IP Claims to Baseball Stats: Is the EU Ready for the Challenge? ContentBlogger, August 9, 2006. Don't skip over this story thinking it's only about baseball. It's about the free circulation of facts. Excerpt:
While U.S. copyright law has always been more liberal than the European Union towards the right of publishers to copy facts for other uses the advent of the Web has raised a flurry of U.S. lawsuits in recent years to claim more intellectual property rights to factual data. But USA Today notes that a recent decision in a closely watched case has tipped the scales in favor of facts-seekers. The ruling against Major League Baseball Players Association by a content licensee that was denied a license renewal for baseball players' names and statistics notes clearly:
"The undisputed facts establish that the names and playing records of (MLB) players as used in CBC’s fantasy games are not copyrightable and, therefore, federal copyright law does not pre-empt the players’ claimed right of publicity...the First Amendment takes precedence over a [right to publicity]."
This will be a boon for data miners that have been fighting a myriad of conflicting laws, regulations and Web site terms and conditions - and a shot across the bow to EU publishers that continue to fight off claims to legacy database products.

The EU Database Directive of 1996 provides "sui generis" protection to facts that have some significant investment in them, but a relatively recent Working Paper being circulated is pushing to drop these requirements and has drawn support from institutional content purchasers. Though this may sound like an attack on publishers' profits, comments from the American Library Association point to a section in the working paper that underscores the negative effects of data protectionism: "Alarmingly, in the years since the adoption of the Directive, the European share of the global database market has decreased relative to that of the United States, and the ratio of European to U.S. database production has decreased from 1:2 to 1:3." In other words, if the directive is necessary to protect the viability of premium database producers, what is the evidence that it's working?...

More on the Houghton/Sheehan analysis

Stevan Harnad, Maximising the Return on Resource Investment in Research, August 10, 2006. Excerpt:
In a recent preprint, Houghton & Sheehan (2006), using estimates from economic modeling, have confirmed the substantial potential enhancement of the return on resource investment in research if the resulting articles are made Open Access:...
"Whether applied across the board or to sector specific research findings (e.g. open access to publicly funded research) it seems that there may be substantial potential benefits to be gained from more open access. For example [GERD = Gross Expenditure on Research and Development]...
- With Germany's GERD at USD 58.7 billion and assuming social returns to R&D of 50%, a 5% increase in access and efficiency would have been worth USD 3 billion;

- With Japan's GERD at USD 112.7 billion and assuming social returns to R&D of 50%, a 5% increase in access and efficiency would have been worth USD 5.8 billion;

- With the United Kingdom's GERD at USD 33.7 billion and assuming social returns to R&D of 50%, a 5% increase in access and efficiency would have been worth USD 1.7 billion; and

- With the United State's GERD at USD 312.5 billion and assuming social returns to R&D of 50%, a 5% increase in access and efficiency would have been worth USD 16 billion.
"While it is impossible to calculate the quantum of benefits with certainty, these simple estimates of the potential impacts of enhanced access on returns to R&D suggest that a move towards more open access may have substantial positive impacts...

"Given substantial R&D expenditures and the scale of the potential impacts identified in this preliminary work, these issues represent fertile ground for further policy relevant inquiry."
These estimates agree substantially with prior estimates that have been made (e.g., for the UK, Canada and Australia, see below).

Research Funding Councils and Universities worldwide are at last beginning to realise that it is high time (indeed well overdue) to maximise the returns on their research investment by mandating Open Access self-archiving....

Comment on CC's version 3.0 licenses

OA mandate at the U of Tasmania School of Computing

The University of Tasmania School of Computing has its own OA repository and a policy mandating
that all refereed publications in conferences, journals and books, be deposited in the School/University repository. This applies to faculty, and to PhD candidates and other students, without exception.

Thanks to ROARMAP (Registry of Open Access Repository Material Archiving Policies).

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

August issue of First Monday

The August issue of First Monday is now online. Here are the OA-related articles.

Update. FM just added another article to this issue: Sandra Braman, Tactical Memory: The Politics of Openness in the Construction of Memory.

ATA summer update

The Summer Update from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access is now online.

OA increases the return on investment in research

John Houghton and Peter Sheehan, The Economic Impact of Enhanced Access to Research Findings, Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University, July 2006.
Abstract: The environment in which research is being conducted and disseminated is undergoing profound change, with new technologies offering new opportunities, changing research practices demanding new capabilities, and increased focus on research performance. A key question facing us today is, are there new opportunities and new models for scholarly communication that could enhance the dissemination of research findings and, thereby, increase the returns to investment in R&D?

Identifying access and efficiency limitations under the subscription-based publishing model that has dominated scientific publishing, this paper explores the potential impacts of enhanced access to research outputs. We develop a modified growth model, introducing ‘access’ and ‘efficiency’ into calculating the returns to R&D. Indicative impact ranges are presented for gross expenditure on R&D (GERD) and government expenditure on R&D (GovERD) for all OECD countries. We conclude that there may be substantial benefits to be gained from increased access to research findings, and our preliminary estimates suggest that this may be fertile ground for further policy relevant inquiry.

From the body of the paper itself:

There are two main conclusions to this paper. One is that, while there are many limitations to the approach outlined, these simple estimates provide some sense of the possible scale of the potential impacts of enhanced access on returns to R&D. The second is that the returns to R&D approach, with accessibility and efficiency parameters, offers the foundation for one method for measuring these impacts in a more rigorous manner.

New OA journal on disease surveillance

Advances in Disease Surveillance is a new peer-reviewed, OA journal from Scholarly Exchange. From yesterday's announcement:
Scholarly Exchange has launched a new open access journal, Advances in Disease Surveillance, on its free and fully supported e-publishing platform. The journal is devoted to publishing public health, epidemiologic, biostatistical, and bioinformatics work relevant to detecting emerging diseases and disease patterns around the world. ADS is the official journal of The International Society for Disease Surveillance.

"Starting up a journal was as easy as making a phone call.  All you need is a domain name, Scholarly Exchange, and time," remarked co-editor Ken Kleinman, ScD. "Since Open Journal Systems was running and ready to use on the Scholarly Exchange server from the very beginning, we were able to start the journal in a matter of days. The amazing thing is that OJS is so easy to use, especially in this ready-to-run installation."

"We don't have to pay a publisher (or let one gouge our readers) or even hire a programmer or install software. The content is free and authors retain copyright to their own works."

Scholarly Exchange provides well-supported open-source OJS software that manages as much or as little as of the publication process as needed-from simply providing a professional-looking presentation for journal content to managing the review, copyediting, and typesetting processes.

The Society chose to start the journal without on-screen display advertising, paying instead the minimal cost-recovery support fee. "Luckily, we found Scholarly Exchange, which hosts the space and runs the software for a fraction of the cost of doing that ourselves," added Dr. Kleinman.

More on the provost letters

Susan R. Morrissey, Public-Access Support Grows, Chemical & Engineering News, August 8, 2006. Excerpt:

Provosts from 21 universities have signed a letter supporting the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (S. 2695). Their action follows an open letter to the academic community issued by 25 other university provosts who support the bill (C&EN, Aug. 7, page 38)....The 21 universities that have signed the letter, addressed to bill cosponsor Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), include Rice University; the University of Colorado, Boulder; the University of Hawaii, Manoa; and Washington State University. They all are part of an organization called the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA), a consortium of 31 research libraries in 16 states in the greater Midwest and western U.S.

“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,” the letter states. The letter also notes that “public access to publicly funded research facilitates the open discussion needed to accelerate research, share knowledge, improve treatment of diseases, and increase human understanding.”

The University of Texas, Austin, and Texas A&M University have also sent letters to Cornyn supporting the legislation, according to the GWLA letter.

Many scholarly publishers, including the American Chemical Society, which publishes C&EN, argue that the provisions of the bill would damage their ability to continue publishing high-quality, peer-reviewed journals.

More on the California-Google deal

Jeffrey Young, U. of California System's 100 Libraries Join Google's Controversial Book-Scanning Project, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 9, 2006. Excerpt:

The University of California system has joined Google's controversial book-digitization project, and the partnership is expected to convert millions of books from the system's 100 libraries -- even volumes that are protected by copyright -- into fully searchable electronic texts....

The university system is the seventh major participant to join Google's ambitious effort to add digital versions of books to its popular online search engine, and the first full partner to join since two groups of publishers sued to stop the company from scanning any books still covered by copyright.

"We're comfortable that the activity is fully respectful of copyright law," said Daniel Greenstein, executive director of the California Digital Library, a division of the university system....Some library partners in the program, such as Harvard, have sidestepped the controversy by deciding to allow only out-of-copyright books to be scanned by Google. But the University of California has decided to allow copyrighted books to be scanned. The University of Michigan is also allowing copyrighted books to be scanned, but it made that decision before lawsuits had been filed challenging the practice....

Officials would not say how many books would be scanned or how the books will be chosen. But the number of volumes "could go into the millions," said Mr. Greenstein. He said scanning should begin "in the next several weeks."...

The word used by officials at both Google and the university to describe the project's benefits for academe is "discoverability." Allowing scholars to search the full texts of millions of books quickly, officials argue, will make it possible for researchers to discover books that might help their research but that they wouldn't have known about otherwise.  That, in turn, "will allow library users to make connections between information and ideas that were hitherto inaccessible, driving the pace of scholarly innovation and enhancing the use of our great libraries," according to a fact sheet prepared by the university about the project.

Adam M. Smith, group business-product manager for Google's book-search project, said in an interview that the company is in talks with other libraries as well. "We are actively in dialogues with other university and academic libraries that have interesting special collections," he said, adding that some of the libraries are in other countries. "Hopefully, in a short time here, we'll be able to announce some additional libraries located outside of the United States."

Why keep adding institutions when some of the world's largest libraries are already involved? "We have the higher-level objective of creating a product where users can search the full text of all the world's books in a single place," Mr. Smith said.

Progress toward OA in art history

Jennifer Howard, Picture Imperfect, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 4, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:

If scholarly publishing had an endangered-species list, the art monograph would be at the top. At least that's the perception of many art historians as they struggle to publish their work.  "Between dwindling sales and the soaring costs of acquiring illustrations and the permission to publish them, this segment of the publishing industry has become so severely compromised that the art monograph is now seriously endangered and could very well outpace the silvery minnow in its rush to extinction," writes Susan M. Bielstein in a recent call to arms, Permissions, A Survival Guide: Blunt Talk About Art as Intellectual Property, published this spring by the University of Chicago Press.

As the press’s executive editor for art and architecture, Ms. Bielstein writes from the barricades. She knows that publishing art monographs costs a pretty penny. Art historians need high-quality illustrations to support their arguments, but in most cases, they must shell out for reproducible images, even of works in the public domain. And they, not their publishers, foot those bills. "It’s not unusual for a scholar working on the Renaissance to pay $10,000 or $15,000 to illustrate a book that may sell only 400 or 500 copies," she says in an interview. Contemporary subjects still under copyright, and subject to an artist’s or estate’s whims, can prove to be an even costlier proposition....

Now two leading scholars [Mariët Westermann and Hilary M. Ballon] are poised to issue a major [Mellon-funded] report ["Art History and Its Publications in the Electronic Age"] on the state of art-history publication....[T]he two authors also see a developing resolve among scholars, publishers, and image providers to make art monographs easier and cheaper to illustrate and publish. They take heart, for instance, from a major proposal by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, to make images freely available to scholars....

[T]he most prominent recommendation in the draft report concerns permissions. All parties agree that it is harder than ever to navigate what Ms. Bielstein calls "the ecosystem of rights publishing." What’s fair use? Should a museum be able to charge for a reproducible image of an out-of-copyright object in its collection? Most do. And as digital publication tempts more and more publishers and scholars, how will they protect images that appear in an electronic book or an electronic version of a journal article?

The report’s authors urge those in the field to "organize a campaign to break down barriers to access and distribution of images, in all media and at affordable prices, for scholarly research and publication." (Ms. Bielstein’s book makes a similar exhortation.)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has taken a revolutionary step toward that end with the "scholars’ license," which it hopes to have in place by this fall. "We have responded to what scholars needed and wanted," says Doralynn Pines, associate director for administration. "We are proposing, in certain areas, certainly for scholarly purposes, ... that we permit people to use the images with no fee." Under the old way of doing business, a one-time use of one transparency or digital image from the Met set a scholar back $135....

The Met’s scholars’ license may well turn out to be the crowbar that pries open the doors of other image repositories. "There have been a lot of eyebrows raised and a lot of interest" at other institutions," Mr. Shulman reports. "I have no doubt that other leading museums are figuring out if they can do it or if they should."

Ms. Bielstein says that "what the Met is doing is of inestimable value," because the museum continues to be "a pacesetter for other museums on matters of policy and professional practice. Still, this is just the beginning. An enormous amount of effort and activism is needed to ensure that the public domain is open and accessible to everyone."...


  1. Klaus Graf recommends an article by Susan Bielstein, a conference presentation by Bielstein, and an article by Kenneth Hamma.
  2. In my January 2004 article on OA in the Humanities I said, with perhaps too much resignation, that copyright and permission barriers explain "why open access will come last to art history." I'm very heartened to hear what Westermann, Ballon, Bielstein, and the MMA are doing. They should give courage to scholars in other fields where the barriers are objectively lower.

California, Google, OCA, ...and Microsoft

Gary Price, Books from University of California Libraries Will Now Be Scanned by Google and Microsoft, ResourceShelf, August 9, 2006. Excerpt:

Before reading on, a quick comment....How about some cooperation between the various scanning projects? Nice idea but this is business folks. Does a book need to be scanned twice or more? Couldn’t more books be scanned in a shorter amount of time with some cooperation between these and other scanning projects? Who decides and what criteria will be used as books move from the stacks to the scanner? Who will decide what company scans which books and when?

Now, the news…This is some very interesting manuvering by all involved in the Google v. Microsoft search war. Yahoo is also part of the Open Content Alliance. As we also mentioned last week, it was two months to the day that Microsoft announced that they were very excited to be working with the UC Libraries and UC said they were happy to be working with MS....

More on the California-Google deal

Elinor Mills, Google and U.C. sign contract to digitize books, ZDNet, August 8, 2006. Excerpt:

Google will be scanning and digitizing millions of books from the University of California’s more than 100 libraries across its 10 campuses and making those titles fully searchable, Adam M. Smith, group product manager on Google Book Search, said Tuesday. Google has been working since last year to scan, digitize and make searchable public domain and copyright-protected books from the university collections of the Library of Congress; Oxford, Harvard and Stanford universities; the University of Michigan; and the New York Public Library.

U.C. officials are already having books digitized as part of the Open Content Alliance (OCA), which is led by the nonprofit Internet Archive, Yahoo and Microsoft.

Jennifer Colvin, strategic communications manager at the California Digital Library, which works on digitization projects for the U.C. school system, said she saw no conflict or problems with the school system working with two seemingly competing scanning projects. "We value our partnership with the OCA," she said. "As a public institution, we believe in making our materials as widely and freely available as possible."...

Google is sharing the copies of the scanned books with its library partners but restricting access to them beyond that. For instance, the books can be searched only in its index and not through any other search engines....

Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle said he was pleased that U.C. will continue to work with the OCA, but he criticized the school for "privatizing its library system" by agreeing to Google’s limitations on distributing and sharing copies of digitized books. "They’re effectively giving their library to a single corporation," Kahle said. "Having a public institution decide to go with Google’s restrictions doesn’t help the idea of libraries being open in the future."

PS: For my take on how the Open Content Alliance is more open than the Google Library project, see my November 2005 article in SOAN.

Intro to OA for German readers

David Böcking, Raus aus dem Elfenbeinturm, Spiegel Online, August 9, 2006. An intro to recent OA developments in Germany, England, and the US.

More on OA in law

Michael W. Carroll, The Movement for Open Access Law, Lewis & Clark Law Review, vol. 10 (2006). Self-archived July 20, 2006. (Thanks to Media Law Prof Blog.)
Abstract: My claim in this contribution to this important symposium is that the law and legal scholarship should be freely available on the Internet, and copyright law and licensing should facilitate achievement of this goal. This claim reflects the combined aims of those who support the movement for open access law. This nascent movement is a natural extension of the well-developed movement for free access to primary legal materials and the equally well-developed open access movement, which seeks to make all scholarly journal articles freely available on the Internet. Legal scholars have only general familiarity with the first movement and very little familiarity with the second. In this contribution, I demonstrate the linkages between these movements and briefly outline the argument for open access law.

DASER-2 presentations on OA

Most of the presentations from the DASER-2 Summit, Digital Libraries, Institutional Repositories, Open Access (College Park, Maryland, December 2-4, 2005) are now online. (Thanks to Scholarly Communication in Engineering.) Nearly all of them are about OA.

Wiley introduces a "funded access" hybrid journal program

Wiley has launched a hybrid journal program. From yesterday's press release:

Global publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc., today announced a new funded access service for authors of journal articles. Through this new program, authors will have the option of paying a fee to ensure that their article is available to non-subscribers upon publication via Wiley InterScience, Wiley's online publishing platform, as well as the author's funding agency's preferred archive if applicable.

"Wiley developed the funded access program as a response to journal authors whose funding might have certain requirements," said Mike Davis, Vice President, Global Life and Medical Sciences. "For those authors who want to publish in a Wiley journal, and whose funding agency requires deposit in an archive, this new program supports these requirements."

As an initial offering, funded access will be available for 45 biomedical journals. Only authors of primary research articles qualify for this new service, and only those authors whose articles have been accepted for publication will be offered the funded access option at the point when the article is accepted, to ensure that the funded access option has no influence on the peer review and acceptance process.

Wiley will deposit the final PDF of the article into the funder's archive; this is the final, authoritative version of the article, after peer review, editing, any final corrections, online and print formatting, and publication. The fee for ensuring articles are made available through the funded access program is $3,000 per article.

[See the press release for the 45 participating journals.]


  1. Like other hybrid journal programs, Wiley's is a welcome step. It's welcome insofar as it enlarges the body of free online literature. (Wiley doesn't use the term open access.) But like some other hybrid programs, this one has flaws. The author-side fee is high, which will probably lead to a low level of author uptake. (At least nobody should conclude that low uptake indicates low interest in OA.) Wiley will not apparently let participating authors retain copyright, will not lower subscription prices in proportion to author uptake, will not waive the fee in cases of economic hardship, and will not allow deposits in OA repositories (outside Wiley's control) unless required by the author's funder.
  2. Wiley will charge authors who want to provide free online access to the published editions of their articles, even when authors are bound by a mandate from their funder. But most funder OA policies apply to the final version of the author's peer-reviewed manuscript, not to the published edition. Wiley doesn't say whether it would charge fees for authors who want to comply with funder mandates in that form. It shouldn't. Publishers have no right to interfere with funder-grantee contracts, especially when the funder contract comes first and the publisher contract comes second.

California joins the Google Library project

The University of California has decided to join the Google Library project. For background see my blog posts for 8/2 and 8/3.

More on UKPMC

UK PubMed Central To Launch in January, Library Journal, August 9, 2006. Excerpt:
The desire to make government funded research freely available to the public got another boost with the announced launch of UK PubMed Central (UKPMC), a repository based on the PubMed Central in the United States, operated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Like its American counterpart, UKPMC will provide free access to an online digital archive of peer-reviewed research papers in the medical and life sciences. Officials at the Wellcome Trust, strong advocates of open access, said the contract to run UKPMC was awarded to a partnership between the British Library, the University of Manchester and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI). Launch of the service is scheduled for January 2007....

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lieberman defeated in Connecticut primary

Ned Lamont defeated Joe Lieberman tonight in the Democratic primary election in Connecticut. Lieberman sponsored the CURES Act and co-sponsored FRPAA, the two strongest OA bills ever introduced in Congress. Lieberman won't be the Democratic Party's nominee in November but he may run as an independent.

Update. Lieberman has decided to run as an independent. More coverage.

For readers outside the US I can say that Lieberman lost this election because of his support for George Bush and the war in Iraq, not because of his views on OA. By running as an independent, he may be re-elected to the Senate, but it's more likely that he'll split the Democratic vote and give the seat to a Republican.

I'm not a one-issue voter and I don't expect others to be. However, this is a one-issue blog. Lieberman's defeat will be a loss for OA and I'll try to uncover and blog the consequences for OA. But I won't comment, here, on whether his defeat will be a net loss for the country.

Submission rates at OA journals

Heather Morrison, Transitioning to open access, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, August 7, 2006. Excerpt:
Prediction (hypothesis): Journals with strong support for open access, high quality and no or reasonable processing fees will see increasing article submissions. Strong support for open access could mean either open access publishing, or very friendly, easy to find, understand and follow self-archiving policies.

Rationale: the impact of the growing OA requirement policies (mandates) by funders and universities, combined with increased researcher awareness of OA due to both the mandates and educational efforts by librarians and others, will cause researchers to increasingly seek OA publishing venues over the next few years. Journals that are seen to be both of high quality and OA-friendly, will meet these criteria....

Strong support for open access is a good strategy to ensure ongoing quality of journals and support from libraries. In other words, it's a good business decision! Lukewarm support - or opposition - is something else...

Comment. I have no doubt that author preference for OA will grow in proportion to author understanding of OA, and that this will show up both in self-archiving and submissions to OA journals. If we focus on submissions to OA journals, however, then prestige must enter as another key variable. OA alone will not change submission rates much unless supported by prestige. Because most OA journals are new, they don't yet have prestige in proportion to their quality. But this will change. As the prestige of high-quality OA journals grows, then the combination of that prestige and the intrinsic advantages of OA will surpass the advantages of prestigious non-OA journals and this will be reflected in submission rates. For more on these lines, see SOAN for March 2005:

For authors, the only reason to submit work to a TA [toll access] journal is its prestige. In every other way, TA journals are inferior to OA journals because they limit an author's audience and impact. OA journals will start to draw submissions away from top TA journals as soon as they approach them in prestige. And by the time they equal them in prestige, the best TA journals will have lost their one remaining competitive advantage.

There's already some evidence that converting to OA or shortening embargoes increases submissions (at BMJ, JPGM, JMLA, MBC, and Medknow journals generally). I'll say more about this in an upcoming issue of SOAN and in the meantime would appreciate pointers to any additional anecdotes or evidence.

OA journals in Australia

The presentations from Open Publish 2006 (Sydney, July 26-28, 2006) are now online. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

See especially Bobby Graham, Open Access Journals.

Abstract: Academic and scholarly journals are in trouble: small print runs, part-time editors, and dwindling funds are conspiring to crush them. But help is at hand: new trends in open access publishing support free, digital and open access to research literature, bringing writing and discourse to new and wider audiences. The National Library of Australia is trialling the Open Journal Systems (OJS) digital publishing software to advance their understanding of managing an online open access journal publishing service.

The importance of labelling OA as OA

Rufus Pollock, Dead knowledge: why being explicit about openness matters, Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, August 8, 2006. Excerpt:

When I think of the amount of knowledge that is ‘dead’ because of a lack of explicitness about its ‘openness’ I am always surprised by the number of examples. Consider the following two:

Example 1....Years ago, back when I was at university I remember stumbling across [two sites with free online information, one and two]....

Thinking about these two sites recently I asked myself: ‘what license did they use’ and, relatedly, ‘am i allowed to download/redistribute/incorporate their data in another project?’. The answer was perhaps unsurprising: neither site seemed to have thought about it - at least not originally - and, as a consequence, their copyright policy was the default: everyone retains copyright to what they do....

Hence with respect to my second question: ‘am i allowed to redistribute/reuse their material’ the simple answer was: No - I’d would have to go out and identify, and then gain permission, from each contributor; an endeavour that would clearly be prohibitively time consuming. And this is despite the fact that - from their very participation - it is clear that the vast majority of individuals who made contributions to these sites wanted others to be able to freely access their work (and freely reuse it as well in all likelihood)....

Once you start building any kind of ‘commons’ in which multiple contributors are the norm [explicit permission for reuse] becomes especially important since relying purely on tacit agreements and implicit consent becomes a major obstacle and serious threat to the long term future, and value, of that information....

[PS:  To save space, I've clipped the second example, on crystallographic data structures, but it's well worth reading.]

To stitch together the knowledge commons it’s not good enough for information to be implicitly open, it has to be explicitly open. To be explicity open it must have clearly attached an open knowledge license. Without this the knowledge produced immediately becomes ‘locked’: in order to do anything other than have the information sit there on the original server requires a rights-clearance effort of such daunting proportions as to be completely infeasible.

Furthermore when engaging in any kind of collaborative effort - the norm on the web - the adoption of an explicitly open approach can be considered as providing a form of social contract among the participants which is clearer than the informal tacit arrangements which would otherwise operate.

PS: I agree and made a similar argument in SOAN for August 2003:

Readers should be told when a work is free of price and permission barriers. They might be reading a copy forwarded from a friend and not know whether the publisher would like to charge for access. They might want to forward a copy to a friend and not know whether this kind of redistribution is permitted. When an article has no label, then conscientious users will seek permission for any copying that exceeds fair use. But this kind of delay and detour, with non-use as the consequence of a non-answer, are just the kinds of obstacles that open access seeks to eliminate. A good label [or license] will save users time and grief, prevent conscientious users from erring on the side of non-use, and eliminate a frustration that might nudge conscientious users into becoming less conscientious.

The promise of PLoS ONE

Eric Kansa, PLoS One is Up, Digging Digitally, August 8, 2006. Excerpt:

...PLoS One represents an experiment in a lot of ways. Papers are more clearly part of an ongoing process of communication and discussion and are less like static artifacts. Evaluation and review continue well after initial public dissemination. And in PLoS One, the community is invited to add value to papers through “Web 2.0? collaborative tools.

I’m very interested in following how this works and how it is accepted by the professional community. Community participation is an important data integration strategy for Open Context. In that system, user interaction, especially tagging, establishes rich semantic linkages between items from different datasets. Enough user tagging would add rich value to all the content, highlighting significant observations and potentially identifying interesting linkages across multiple datasets.

Drawing value from user interaction and making users more than consumers of information but inviting them to be participants in creating valuable knowledge sounds like a great approach. It has been widely successful in several high-profile commercial sites, such as Flickr (tagged photos) and Del.ic.ious (tagged web content)....The uptake of these community-participatory (“Web 2.0”) approaches is relatively limited in academic and professional communication (though see Connotea). I doubt this has much to do with technophobia as it much as it has to do with the special social, incentive and professional needs of scholars. If PLoS One can help figure out how to motivate professional communities to use participatory tools that add value to scientific communication, I think they will have made a fundamentally important contribution.

What's wrong with this picture?

The UK National Archives has digitized The Domesday Book, "the earliest surviving public record" in British history.

The book is in the public domain and the digitization was done at public expense, but the National Archives charges £3.50 per page to view the results.

More on PLoS ONE, BioWizard and related initiatives

Kevin Davies, Science Publishing and the Web, BioIT World, July-August 2006. Excerpt:

Earlier this year, Bio•IT World introduced a regular column in the magazine, “Science and the Web,” which explores the surging interest in topics such as the Semantic Web, Web 2.0, social networking, wikis, mashups, and so on. These are poised to radically change the ability of scientists to share data and develop ideas both within and between organizations. In this regard, several interesting ventures were announced recently....

The PLoS experiment, which begins accepting papers in August, is called PLoS ONE, which it trumpets as “a pioneering system for the publication and creative use of scientific and medical knowledge.” PLoS ONE vows to return control over scholarly publishing to the research community, offering new tools for searching and adding value to the published literature.

“Scientists are eager to apply the awesome power of the Internet revolution to scientific communication, but have been stymied by the conservative nature of scientific publishing,” says PLoS co-founder Michael Eisen.

PLoS ONE aspires to become an open public venue for research data across multiple disciplines, using personalization tools to enable users to post comments on individual reports, “adding value to published material and creating powerful new ways for other readers to navigate and understand the literature.” PLoS hopes that such post-publication review and commentary will constitute an integral part of the review process.  PLoS ONE...research papers will...become part of a vibrant dialogue between authors, colleagues, and competitors, with interpretations and conclusions certain to evolve as data are confirmed and extended.

Such a platform already exists, however. Created last year, BioWizard offers a platform for open ranking and discussion of the full peer-reviewed literature. Founder Raju Raval says he became “increasingly frustrated with the lack of an open forum for discussion on published literature.” Recently launched worldwide, Raval says his goal is “advancing communication and collaboration in the life sciences.”

Meanwhile, Nature too is exploring an alternative to peer review, inspired by the Web. Editor-in-Chief Phil Campbell has the chutzpah to ask, “Is the journal even necessary, or could scientists manage the peer review process themselves?” In June, Nature launched a three-month trial in which authors can opt to have their manuscripts posted on a preprint server, in addition to the usual peer review process. Readers could then post comments, which journal editors could take into account in their dialogue with the authors.

The success of these initiatives remains to be seen, but clearly we have barely begun to imagine what the Web can do for the endeavor of science.

Helping authors use the SPARC Author Addendum

SPARC has launched Author Rights, a new initiative to help scholars understand and use the SPARC Author Addendum. From yesterday's announcement:

...The topic [of author rights] has come to the fore with the NIH Public Access Policy (which may be made mandatory in 2007)...[and] the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (which expands public access into education, the environment, physics, and countless other fields)....

  • Can authors post their articles on their course Web sites or in institutional repositories?
  • Can an author share his work freely after assigning exclusive copyright to a publisher?
  • Is it okay for an author to post her work in NIH’s PubMed Central?

These and other questions are heard more and more frequently on campuses. That’s why SPARC has developed Author Rights - an educational initiative that informs faculty across all disciplines about how to use the SPARC Author Addendum to secure their rights as authors of journal articles.

The SPARC Author Addendum is a legal instrument that authors may use to modify their publisher agreements, enabling them to keep selected key rights to their articles, such as:

  • Distributing copies in the course of teaching and research,
  • Posting the article on a personal or institutional Web site, or
  • Creating derivative works.

SPARC’s Author Rights brochure identifies the rights faculty have as copyright holders and encourages them to retain the rights they need to ensure the broadest practical access to their articles. It explains how to use the SPARC Author Addendum and even gives tips on what to do if the publisher rejects the Addendum. It also offers specific language authors can insert in a publisher agreement when their article will be deposited in NIH’s PubMed Central.

Please take advantage of this new resource to inform your campus about the key issue of author rights. Here’s how:

  • A full color brochure and Author Rights poster are available for use at your institution. Display the poster in your library. Offer it to faculty members. Distribute the brochure in your library, through faculty mailboxes, or at liaison meetings. You can order [them] from our Web site...($15.00 for 50 copies of the brochure and $2.50 for each poster). The poster and brochure are also available online and for free download....
  • A podcast of the SPARC-ACRL forum on “Authors and Authority: Perspectives and Negotiating Licenses and Copyright” (January 2006) is now available on our Web site....The forum offers perspectives on copyright from a librarian, publisher, and an attorney - and is a great introduction to the issue. Add a link to your Web page or email the different files to faculty, depending on where their understanding is. Michael Carroll’s talk from the attorney perspective, for example, makes clear that “as soon as the author’s finished typing, federal law showers down upon the author a set of exclusive rights…the author does not transfer any exclusive rights until the author signs a document.”...
  • SPARC staff members are available to visit your campus and meet with members of the library, administration, faculty, and students as you deem necessary. Simply email Julia Blixrud, Assistant Director for Public Programs, to discuss....

Another cost of OA, at least for businesses

In his ZDNet column yesterday, Dana Gardner argued that businesses moving toward free online ad-supported content need faster and more powerful back-end systems. Why?
Because, increasingly, companies like AOL and Shopzilla are creating their incomes from the ads generated by page-views and communications services access. Same for carriers serving up content to cell phones. Same for transaction-based services. Same for applications as services.

So when a server takes 4 seconds to deliver a data-laden Web page, extracting data from a variety of sources, it ends up costing millions of dollars over a period of a few months in lost revenue to many more businesses. Making the page appear in 1 second is now mission critical.

Comment. I don't see these pressures on academic sites providing scholarly OA. Is it because ad revenue is never a large part of their business model? Is it because users visiting a site for research purposes are more likely to wait for the content than click on ads and forget why they came?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Richard Charkin wants people to follow the OA debate

Richard Charkin, CEO of Macmillan (parent company of Nature), has a note on his blog today urging his readers to follow the OA debate, especially through the comments on Declan Butler's June article on PLoS.

PS: This is a closer to a neutral recommendation than his post in June about the same Nature article in which he misinterpreted the article's conclusions and seriously suggested that OA journals more than non-OA journals lead to "protection of the status quo."

Profile of the E-LIS repository

Mangala Hirwade and Kartika Mahajan, E-LIS : a step towards redefining Open Access, apparently a preprint. Self-archived August 1, 2006.
Abstract: The past few years have seen tremendous developments in information production, acquisition, and dissemination. Providing access to information free of charge in electronic formats is a concept that is gaining momentum. Open Access is one step ahead of Free Access. Open Access holds promise to remove both price and permission barriers to the scientific communication by using Internet. Creation of open access archives is a step towards redefining open access. E-LIS is a famous international disciplinary archive in Library and Information Science. The present paper describes creation and maintenance of E-LIS. It also includes content analysis of this archive.

More on OA in India

Mangala Hirwade and D. Rajyalakshmi, Open Access : India is moving towards Third world Superpower, in Murthy Tav (ed.), Proceedings CALIBER 2006, Gulberga (India), 2006. Self-archived August 1, 2006.
Abstract: The past few years have seen tremendous developments in information production, acquisition, and dissemination. Budgetary restrictions in research libraries have led to a period known as the serial cutting era. The new millennium has also ushered in the concept of the virtual library with seamless access to an integrated collection of print, electronic, and multimedia resources regardless of their physical location or ownership. Research scientists, policy makers, and reference librarians the world over are coming together to introduce reforms to make scientific knowledge affordable. Providing access to information free of charge in electronic formats is a concept that is gaining momentum. Open Access is one step ahead of Free Access. Open Access holds promise to remove both price and permission barriers to the scientific communication by using Internet. The present paper outlines the features of open access and the two vehicles viz. open access journals and open access archives. A few current open access initiatives in India are described in detail. In India, there is a large opportunity for open access publishing but still the number of registered archives is very less. Indian scientific communities and organizations like Indian Academy of Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Indian National Science Academy, NISCAIR, INFLIBNET, etc are now actively taking initiatives towards creation of institutional repositories and providing open access to their publications.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Wikimania presentations

Many of the presentations from Wikimania (Cambridge, Massachusetts, August 4-6, 2006) are now online. See especially those by Jimmy Wales, Lawrence Lessig, Brewster Kahle, and Mike Eisen.

A new OA publisher calls for manuscripts

On August 1, the Free Words project launched Free Press. From the site:

This summer and fall you are invited to contribute to the creation of an open-access publishing house, a "Free Press," to be launched at Röda Sten contemporary art center in Göteborg, Sweden. A project of Opsound founder Sal Randolph, Free Press will accept all kinds of writing from the public; contributions in any language can be as short as a single word or as long as an encyclopedia and can include manifestos, statements, documentations, studies, stories, recipes, poems and whatever you can imagine.

"Even in the age of the internet, book publishing is a walled garden where editors and commercial interests filter out most of what is written," says Randolph. "To publish is to 'make public,' and the published materials of the world create their own kind of public space, a city of books where readers and writers are citizens. Free Press aims to open up access to that public space....

All participating manuscripts will be published as printed books in the Free Press series, available in the project's library and reading room at Röda Sten, where events and discussions will also take place. Additional copies will be placed on shelves in local bookstores and libraries. Readers will be able to download copies from the website and order them at cost from an internet book printer.  The Free Press exhibition will take place from September 16 - October 15, 2006 at Röda Sten....

All material included in the Free Press project will be released under Creative Commons licenses which will allow the texts to be printed and freely shared....

Texts will be accepted through the Free Press website starting August 1, 2006 continuing through the end of the exhibition on October 15. However, if you wish your text to appear as a book in the gallery, please allow for publication time (2-4 weeks) and send it as soon as possible. If you want your book to be there at the opening (September 16), send your text now!

Google will share trillion-word dataset

Google has been using its huge index for internal research, but has decided to release a version of it to benefit the research of others. It won't be online for downloading because nobody could download a one trillion word dataset. But it will be available on DVDs, apparently at cost. From Thursday's announcement:
Here at Google Research we have been using word n-gram models for a variety of R&D projects, such as statistical machine translation, speech recognition, spelling correction, entity detection, information extraction, and others....We found that there's no data like more data, and scaled up the size of our data by one order of magnitude, and then another, and then one more - resulting in a training corpus of one trillion words from public Web pages.

We believe that the entire research community can benefit from access to such massive amounts of data. It will advance the state of the art, it will focus research in the promising direction of large-scale, data-driven approaches, and it will allow all research groups, no matter how large or small their computing resources, to play together. That's why we decided to share this enormous dataset with everyone. We processed 1,011,582,453,213 words of running text and are publishing the counts for all 1,146,580,664 five-word sequences that appear at least 40 times. There are 13,653,070 unique words, after discarding words that appear less than 200 times.

Watch for an announcement at the LDC [Linguistic Data Consortium], who will be distributing it soon, and then order your set of 6 DVDs. And let us hear from you - we're excited to hear what you will do with the data, and we're always interested in feedback about this dataset, or other potential datasets that might be useful for the research community.