Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, September 23, 2006

More on the 10 administrators who oppose FRPAA

Here are a few responses I've seen to yesterday's public statement by 10 university administrators who oppose FRPAA.

  1. A colleague in publishing writes:
    It doesn't take much surfing to identify that many of these signatories are not exactly neutral players, e.g the first two looked up were:

    Mary J.C. Hendrix  - a former president of FASEB

    Barbara Horwitz  - a former president of the American Physiological Society

  2. A librarian colleague writes:

    Ten signatories is all the publishers could come up with? I confess I'm happily surprised.

    The University Librarian stopped by my desk a couple of weeks back to let me know that our VP for Research had been approached to sign this, but had asked him first. I wonder how many other institutions played out a similar scenario....

    The education process that FRPAA has enabled is probably vastly more important than FRPAA itself, and without that education process, we don't *get* mandates anywhere, ever.

  3. And this for attribution:  Jonathan Eisen, Vice Provost of U. C. Davis on the wrong side of Open Access, The Tree of Life, September 22, 2006.  Excerpt:

    [This is] my first incredibly disappointing moment at U. C. Davis. My brother sent me this link about a letter to Congress from some provosts and deans trying to go backwards on the issue of Open Access to scientific publications....And one of the signatories is the Vice Provost for academic affairs at Davis, Barbara Horwitz. Their letter contains so many falsehoods I do not even know where to begin....

    They also claim:

    The free posting of unedited author manuscripts by government agencies threatens the integrity of the scientific record, potentially undermines the publisher peer review process, and is not a smart use of funds that could be better used for research.
    How on earth does posting of unedited manuscripts threaten the integrity of the scientific record. That is like saying scientists should not give talks on anything until they have published it, and then they should only quote from their published papers. Or, maybe scientists should not even discuss their work at all in public and should just present it through papers published in journals. I am astonished that a Officer of my University would make such a completely outlandish statement.
    Perhaps most amazingly, this collection of supposedly academic folks says:
    As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, you are certainly sensitive to the various forces that shape and reshape the Federal budget from year to year. Recently, for example, we learned that the Biomolecular Interaction Network Database--the world's largest free repository for proteomic data--lost its funding and curtailed its curation efforts.
    This is so absurd I do not even know where to begin. BIND is in the true tradition of Open Access - a database of proteomic information for the world to share. And these provosts and deans are trying to use its loss of funding as an argument for LESS OPEN ACCESS. How completely nonsensical is that. But even more incomprehensible, BIND is a CANADIAN database effort, supported in a large part by Genome Canada funding. So how this relates to the funding by the US Congress is beyond me.
    This collection of provosts and deans clearly do not care about accuracy or the truth. They are clearly trying to protect money that they get from publishing. And they are pretending that this is for "all the scientists". Could they not just be honest and say "listen, we would like to continue to bring in money for publishing. And Open Access might cost us some of that money". Instead, they demean the whole debate by inventing stories....
    [M]any of the signatories have active leadership roles in publishing non Open Access journals. Robert R. Rich is the Editor in Chief of J. Immunology, which does not support Open Access. Kenneth L. Barker is the President of SEBM, a publisher of non open access scientific publications. Barbara A. Horwitz, was the president of APS which sponsored this press release and publishes many non Open Access journals. I am sure many of the others have some type of similar roles. It would have been nice for them to mention that in this press release....

PS: I blogged my own response yesterday.

More on DRIVER: Using OA content to "encourage...service providers"

Kate Worlock, DRIVER: Repositories take to the road, EPS Insights, September 21, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:

DRIVER is part of the E17.5 billion Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), the European Union's main instrument for funding research in Europe, which runs from 2002-2006....DRIVER will work with partners over the next 18 months to create a test-bed of a large-scale virtual content resource to access and integrate individual repositories. In other words, the intention is not to build a digital repository system itself, but to provide an interface to existing repositories. Users of DRIVER will be able to access services such as search, data collection, profiling and recommendation across a range of content types including reports, research articles, experimental or observational data, rich media and other digital objects. The second phase of the project will be "the successful interoperation of both data network and knowledge repositories as integral parts of the E-infrastructure for research and education in Europe"....

This provides the first indication of the potential opportunities available to commercial players, both software providers and publishers. The DRIVER web site explicitly emphasises that its role will be to focus on infrastructure - the intention is that the "availability of such a basic scientific content infrastructure should encourage academic and/or non-academic service providers to build high-valued and innovative services on top of it". The availability of content for scholarly communication seems to be becoming a given - it is in the provision of tools and services on top of these content sets where the real competition lies. Thomson and Elsevier already know this well - recent announcements of new services targeted at author identification demonstrate these increasingly important areas of competition. But the collaboration of SURF with search player FAST indicates that competition to build services around DRIVER will not only come from other publishers. The value of this market is evident to software solutions providers - however, working with publishers who already know the market well could prove a popular strategy....

Comment. The DRIVER approach, highlighted by Worlock here, is not only one of the best ways to pay for OA but one of the best ways to structure the cooperation of OA initiatives and commercial interests.  Here's the recipe:  Provide OA to the basic data and peer-reviewed literature, and then earn money from services that make the OA layer more useful (i.e. "value-added" services).  Many of these services will themselves be free and open, but the sky's the limit and there's plenty of room for commercial players to create services so useful that they are worth paying for.

OA Encyclopedia of Earth launches

The open-access Encyclopedia of Earth (EoE) is now online.  (Thanks to Yong Liu.)  From the site:

[T]he Encyclopedia of Earth [is] a new electronic reference about the Earth, its natural environments, and their interaction with society. The Encyclopedia is a free, fully searchable collection of articles written by scholars, professionals, educators, and experts who collaborate and review each other's work. The articles are written in non-technical language and will be useful to students, educators, scholars, professionals, as well as to the general public....

The motivation behind the Encyclopedia of Earth is simple. Go to Google and type in climate change, pesticides, nuclear power, sustainable development, or any other important environmental issue. Doing so returns millions of results, some fraction of which are authoritative. The remainder is of poor or unknown quality.

This illustrates a stark reality of the Web: digital information on the environment is characterized by an abundance of "great piles of content" and a dearth of "piles of great content." In other words, there are many resources for environmental content, but there is no central repository of authoritative information that meets the needs of diverse user communities. Our goal is to make the Encyclopedia of Earth the largest reliable information resource on the environment in history....

Content for the Encyclopedia is created, maintained, and governed by this community of experts via a specially adapted "wiki" - an online tool that allows experts to collectively add and edit web content. Unlike other, well-known wikis, such as Wikipedia, access is restricted to approved experts and all content is reviewed and approved by Topic Editors prior to being published from the wiki to this public site. Revisions to existing articles are also done on the author's wiki, and when approved they become the current version at the public site. This process produces a constantly evolving, continuously updated reference....

The Encyclopedia is a crosscutting component of the larger Earth Portal, which is a constellation of subject-specific information portals that contain news services, structured metadata, a federated environmental search engine, and other information resources. Every EoE article contains a link to its corresponding portal, and vice versa The Earth Portal is the first major portal to launch within the Digital Universe.

Draft CWB statement open access and open source science

Chemists Without Borders has publicly released the July 27 draft of its Position Statement on Open Access and Open Source Science. Excerpt:


Within the vision of Chemists Without Borders, Open Access to the traditional scholarly, peer-reviewed journal literature is the library, a global library with equal access to our shared knowledge for all. Open Access is necessary to development of equitable access to chemistry education and research opportunities in both the developed and developing world. CWB strongly supports Open Access, as defined in the Budapest, Berlin, and Bethesda statements, and the measures necessary to implement open access, such as funding agencies requiring open access to the results of the research they fund, and educating researchers about Open Access.

Open Source Science promises more rapid advances in research through open sharing of research information at all stages of the research process. Open Source Science means more opportunities for collaboration, whether to facilitate CWB projects or provide researchers with more opportunities for participation in international research collaborations. CWB strongly supports Open Source Science within the context of Open Access.

Open Access

Definition (from the Budapest Open Access Initiative):  "By 'open access' to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited."

True Open Access means free availability immediately on publication, or before as preprints....There are two main approaches to Open Access. Articles can be made openly accessible on publication by the journals themselves, using one of a variety of business models (OA publishing, or the gold road). Or, authors can publish in subscription-based journals, and self-archive their work in an open access archive or repository (self-archiving, or the green road).

Open Access to the traditional scholarly, peer-reviewed journal literature advances the vision of Chemists Without Borders in several ways. Indeed, with respect to this literature, open access epitomizes Chemistry Literature Without Borders, as it means equal, barrier-free access to scholarly knowledge for everyone, everywhere....

Open Source Science

There are many approaches to the sharing of scientific information throughout the research process; CWB encourages experimentation with approaches that meet the criteria of open access along with open source. One example is blogging of experiments....

Suggested Actions

Educate chemists and chemistry students about open access and open source science, for example through the CWB blog and newsletter.

Create an open archive for chemistry; help develop and support policies requiring deposit of research articles, for example funders' and universities' policies (note: some resources – technology, expertise – required).

Write letters to funding agencies supporting open access policy initiatives in development, for example the Federal Research to Public Access Act in the U.S.

Encourage chemists to publish in open access journals and/or self-archive their work. Encourage chemistry publishers to move to open access business models and revise authors’ agreement to facilitate self-archiving.

CWB will vote on the statement at its next meeting, probably in mid-October.

Richard Poynder interviews Richard Jefferson

Richard Poynder has posted his interview with Richard Jefferson, a leader of open-source biology and the founder and CEO of CAMBIA. This is the latest installment of The Basement Interviews, Poynder's blog-based OA book of interviews with leaders of many related openness initiatives.  Excerpt:

...By now Jefferson had become convinced of the importance of making the basic tools of biotechnology freely available to all. Increasingly appalled at the way biotech was developing, he concluded that, whatever other people might do, he at least could act differently. In short, he decided to share [his gene reporter system, GUS] with the world.

So in 1987 he prepared 10,000 tubes of DNA sequences for use with GUS, wrote a comprehensive manual explaining how to use it with plants, and distributed lab packs to 500 research institutions around the world....Within a short space of time GUS was the most widely used reporter gene in the field....

In short, although at the time not conscious of the parallel, Jefferson had independently come up with the same strategy as the Free Software Foundation (FSF), which was later to blossom into the Open Source Software Movement. GUS became first choice for molecular biologists for the same reason as the Open Source server Apache has become the most widely used web server software on the Internet: it was freely available, and it worked!...

As a consequence, GUS was to prove instrumental in helping scientists around the world create more efficient varieties of maize, wheat, rice, soybean and cotton....Excited by this turn of events Jefferson began to a hatch plan for a much grander project. Wouldn’t it be great, he thought, if he could generalise what he had achieved with GUS throughout biotechnology?...

CAMBIA [is] umbrella organisation for the BiOS initiative.  And the BiOS initiative consists of three separate projects: a licensing infrastructure to enable the sharing of biotech tools in a non-proprietary manner; a web-based collaboration platform; and a patent database. The BiOS licences, then, are designed to actively encourage collaboration and technology sharing, and to discourage exclusiveness and hoarding....

[T]he way to avoid [harmful patent lock-up], says Jefferson, is Biological Open Source. That is, to re-craft the innovation infrastructure in a way that allows developers of biotech "applications" to assert proprietary rights over their "products", and to profit from that if they wish, while leaving the core tools and "operating systems" of molecular biology freely available to anyone who wants to use them. Only by moving to that position, he says, will we be able to introduce fair and open competition in biotechnology.

In short, biotechnologists need to adopt the same model as Open Source software developers, where the lower levels of the stack (the operating systems) are — like GNU/Linux — freely available to everyone, while the higher level applications built on top of these operating systems are able to be exploited in a proprietary way....This model, argues Jefferson, encourages innovation while avoiding harmful monopolisation....

RP: In talking about Biological Open Source you make frequent comparisons with the Open Source Software Movement. There are a growing number of other "free" and "open" movements today, including Open Access, Creative Commons, Open Data, Open Spectrum, Open Journalism, Open Politics, and so on. Why do you think all these open movements are springing up? What's the big picture here?

RJ: Several things are driving this. As information becomes more pervasive, for instance, we are seeing more abuses of it, and attempts to monopolise it. Moreover, these monopoly threats are more and more pernicious, and their results so evident, that people are putting a lot of effort into trying to fight them. In addition, people perceive IP expertise to be a lucrative new business opportunity, so a cottage industry of IP specialists is developing, and this is encouraging further abuses, and new threats of monopolisation. While the various free and open movements have a lot in common, however, we also need to stress their differences. Open Access, for instance, is not the same as Open Source, or indeed Biological Open Source.

RP: What differences are you thinking about?

RJ: Open Source is about the capability to use something, and so the focus is not just on getting it out there but getting it out there complete with every bit of enablement necessary for anyone to use it, including the legal permissions.

RP: You mean that Open Source implies making available not just the end product (the software), but also the ability to adapt that end product (i.e. the code)? The focus of Open Access, by contrast, is exclusively on making scientific research freely available, not on providing the tools or expertise to exploit that research.

RJ: Precisely. Again, it is the capability to use this stuff, Richard, that is the critical feature. So it is not just about getting it out there. After all, that has always been the ethos of scientific publication, and that is all that science publication does. Publication doesn't get the whole know-how package out there; it doesn't get the permissions package out there; and it is not designed to address the infrastructure — the physical constraints — issues. To be truly Open Source you need these other things too.

RP: And presumably you would see Biological Open Source having more in common with Open Source than Open Access? When you distributed GUS, for instance, you didn’t just release the basic information, but you also made available a detailed handbook explaining how to use it, plus thousands of tubes of DNA sequences?

RJ: That's right. It might help to see the difference if you think about the term A2K, or Access to Knowledge. We are not about A2K, but C2UK, or Capability to Use Knowledge. That is also what BiOS is about, and it is what Open Source is about.

RP: Knowledge is not enough in itself.

RJ: Precisely. There is a huge misunderstanding amongst pundits about this, and also among some of the practitioners too. If you want to talk about Open Access, in which you share all the data, that is fine. Indeed, I'm all for Open Access. But it is the capability to use knowledge that's key. And that capability must encompass the ability to deliver innovation, complete with freedom to operate and other permissions, along with the investments necessary to make a change in something other than a career. So the Open Access Movement is only half way there.

Comment.  I hate to quarrel with someone whose work I admire without reservation, but Jefferson has a truncated view of open access.  In its fullest sense, for example, as articulated in the BOAI, OA provides both free online access to research articles and permission to use and reuse them.  That is, it removes both price and permission barriers.  Nor does anyone claim that this is everything or that, after achieving it, nothing remains to be added.  Where using knowledge requires tools, OA doesn't itself provide the tools or pretend to.  It's one key part in an ecology of mutually supportive initiatives, much needed and very useful on its own but even more useful in conjunction with complementary innovations.

SPARC and PKP partnership for OA publishing

SPARC and the University of British Columbia Public Knowledge Project have formed a partnership to support PKP's open-source publishing tools. From Thursday's announcement:

Since 2001, the Public Knowledge Project (PKP) has offered free, open source software for the management and publishing of journals and conference proceedings. PKP software reduces publishing costs, improves management, enhances indexing, and increases access to knowledge.

PKP software includes three proven solutions. Open Journal Systems (OJS) provides a journal management system that supports every stage of the refereed publishing process, from submissions to online publication and indexing. Open Conference Systems (OCS) supports the management of conference paper review process as well as the scheduling and release of materials, from abstracts to full papers, with online posting and indexing. PKP Harvester (PKPH) harvests the metadata of OAI-PMH compliant sites, including OJS journals and OCS conferences....

More than 800 journals currently use OJS software; a sample of the journals using OJS is [here].

"Our focus is on improving the public and scholarly quality of research through open source publishing tools that make different forms of open access feasible for journals and conferences," said John Willinsky, director of PKP and Pacific Press Professor of Literacy and Technology at UBC....

"The Public Knowledge Project has a proven track record providing innovative open source software that benefits the whole community," said Heather Joseph, SPARC Executive Director. "PKP's offerings make it possible for scholars and libraries to run successful publishing programs on their own terms and are a leading example of how such tools may be used to provide information via open access channels and facilitate the widest possible dissemination. We encourage SPARC members and partners to consider these valuable alternatives for their publishing programs."

Friday, September 22, 2006

DINI's OA activities

Susanne Dobratz and Frank Scholze, Certification and beyond : DINI open access activities in Germany, a presentation at OAI 4, the CERN workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication (Geneva, October 20-22, 2005).  Self-archived September 22, 2006.  Excerpt:

Local publication servers are common and at the same time highly fragmented in Germany. To bring them to greater success it is necessary to standardize further developments. DINI with its publication "Electronic Publishing in Higher Education" laid a foundation for a widespread introduction of general regulations and standards concerning electronic publishing and archiving of scientific documents in institutional repositories. The DINI-Certificate "Document and Publication Repositories" takes this a step further by clearly describing criteria, that will guarantee repositories to be set up and operated according to national standards and international developments. Repositories fulfilling these criteria may be awarded a certificate, testifying to their quality. The DINI certificate may also help their operators to market the institutional repository as a reliable service to support electronic publishing as well as self- archiving at their institution. In parallel to this quality of service activities DINI started to promote a more widespread practice of open access archiving and publishing in Germany by - translating and distributing the SPARC Open Access brochure, - recommending suitable and precise open access policy statements for universities, - recommending standardized usage statistics, - organizing advocacy events, - supporting local initiatives and university libraries in taking on an active role in collecting scientific material from their researchers and teachers - extending the DINI certificate to allow Universities to provide a reliable and attractive self-archiving component to their scientists The talk will show the achievements of the DINI working group on electronic publishing since Peter Schirmbacher’s talk at OAI 3 and discuss the experiences made in Germany with this approach.

Another TA journal converts to OA

Mats Forsberg, Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica – now an open access journal, Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, May 2006.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

Welcome to Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica! Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica was founded in 1959 as a traditional print journal, but has now taken the novel step of moving to the open access model already used successfully by our publisher, BioMed Central. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica will be freely available online, and will continue to publish articles that encompass all aspects of veterinary research and medicine of domestic animals and wildlife....

Why 'open access'?  Traditionally, readers pay to access research articles, either through subscriptions or by paying a fee each time they download an article. Escalating journal subscription charges have resulted in libraries subscribing to fewer journals, and the range of research available to readers is therefore increasingly limited. Having to pay to access research articles limits how many can read, use and cite them. Often only the title, keywords, and abstract are available for free. As a consequence, many researchers read only the abstract of the paper they are interested in, rather than the full article.

From a scientific point of view, a far better strategy is to offer all readers unrestricted access to the full articles. Such a strategy has at least three benefits. First, authors are assured that their work is disseminated to the widest possible audience and the authors are free to reproduce and distribute their work. Second, the information available to researchers will not be limited by their library's budget. Third, a country's economy will not influence its scientists' ability to access research....

The case for distributed over central OA archiving

Stevan Harnad, Central versus institutional self-archiving, Open Access Archivangelism, September 21, 2006. Excerpt:

Summary:  NIH's, PLoS's, the Wellcome Trust's and now the UK MRC's unreflective support for PubMed Central (PMC), a Central Repository (CR), as the locus for direct self-archiving by authors is very unfortunate for Institutional Repositories (IRs), for self-archiving, and for Open Access (OA) progress in general. Alma Swan has published key papers on both OA self-archiving policy and institutional versus central self-archiving (IRs vs. CRs) analysing the reasons.
      (a) Institutional self-archiving and central self-archiving are at odds in the quest for a universal self-archiving policy solution that will cover all OA research output.
      (b) It would be awkward and inefficient to have a different external cross-institution CR as the locus of primary deposit for every funding area, subject area, combination of subject areas, or nation.
      (c) Researchers' own IRs are the most natural and efficient way to scale up to covering all of OA space from all disciplines, institutions and nations.
      (d) Direct central self-archiving is already obsolete in the OAI era of interoperable OAI-compliant IRs.
      (e) The optimal solution is for researchers to self-archive their own papers in their own OAI-compliant IRs and for CRs to be harvested from those distributed IRs.
      (f) Universities are in the best position to mandate self-archiving and monitor and reward compliance.
      (g) Mandating self-archiving in CRs instead simply creates an unsystematic and incoherent policy that does not scale up to covering all research output from all research institutions.
      (h) What the NIH, Wellcome Trust and MRC should be mandating is not direct depositing in PMC, but universal depositing in the fundee's own IR, from which PMC can then harvest collections.

10 university administrators oppose FRPAA

It had to happen.  After 125 university presidents and provosts have publicly endorsed FRPAA, the DC Principles Coalition found 10  who oppose it.  From today's announcement:

Senior academic officers from 10 institutions issued a letter to Senators John Cornyn (TX) and Joseph Lieberman (CT) expressing their concerns about the provisions of S.2695, the "Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006." These institutions, which collectively make nearly $3 billion in annual research investments, expressed their concerns that mandating a six-month public release of journal articles would negatively impact the academic community and the publishers that disseminate their work.

In signing the letter in opposition to S.2695, Dr. Robert Rich, Senior Vice President and Dean, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, expressed his concern that "the legislation would damage the special relationship between scholarly societies and academic communities who work in partnership to ensure that these communities are sustained and extended, science is advanced, research meets the highest standards, and patient care is enhanced with accurate and timely information." Rich also expressed concern that "S.2695 would divert scarce Federal dollars away from research in order to provide a service already provided to the public by society publishers."

The nonprofit publishers comprising the DC Principles Coalition are among those who are able to provide public access to literature either immediately or within months of publication without government mandate through corporate and academic subscriptions. According to Martin Frank, Ph.D., Executive Director of the American Physiological Society (APS) and a member of the Coalition, "a six-month release mandate may force some journals to shift to a publication model requiring authors to pay for their publications through their Federal grants, diminishing funds available for research to benefit the public good."

Issued on September 22, 2006, the letter reads:

Dear Senators Cornyn and Lieberman:

The undersigned senior academic officers write to express our concerns about S.2695, the "Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006."

We agree that the broadest dissemination of scientific literature is good for research. However, mandating a six-month public release of journal articles would have negative unintended consequences for the academic community. The free posting of unedited author manuscripts by government agencies threatens the integrity of the scientific record, potentially undermines the publisher peer review process, and is not a smart use of funds that could be better used for research....

Even when federal funds support the research reported in journal articles, these funds do not cover the costs associated with turning raw data into archived scientific manuscripts. The cost of peer review, copy editing, formatting, printing, online publication, search engine development, and permanent archiving ranges from $2,500 - $10,000 per article.

At present, publishers cover these publication costs through the sale of subscriptions. A Federal policy mandating public access after six months would threaten the financial viability of many of these journals through the loss of subscription revenues, forcing them to identify other means to cover costs.

One such means is to shift the costs to the scientists/authors. This is the business model currently used by the Public Library of Science, for example, which recently increased fees to $2,500 per manuscript. These fees either come from the author's Federal research grant--thereby decreasing the amount available for research--or from the university, which could ultimately lead to higher institutional costs than those needed for journal subscriptions.

In fact, some studies have already shown that research intensive universities would have to pay considerably more to gain access to the same amount of research under an author- pays model than a subscription model....


  1. Although the letter opposes the OA mandate in FRPAA, the primary objection seems to be the six month embargo.  This is consistent with the recent pattern of publisher lobbying against the NIH policy:  many publishers are signaling that they can live with mandated OA if only the embargo stays at 12 months.
  2. The objection to "free posting of unedited author manuscripts" is deceptive.  All the manuscripts in question have been peer reviewed but not all have been copy edited.  If the danger is that the articles are untrustworthy, then the publishers are complaining about their own peer review procedures.  If the danger is that copy-editing adds a crucial layer of fact-checking, then FRPAA gives publishers the right to replace the author's final manuscript with the copy-edited published edition.  Publishers here are complaining about their own choices.
  3. The claim that "some studies have already shown that research intensive universities would have to pay considerably more to gain access to the same amount of research under an author- pays model than a subscription model" is also deceptive.  There are precisely three studies of this kind, and all three of them falsely assume that 100% of OA journals would charge author-side fees (when fewer than half do so now) and all three of them falsely assume that universities would pay 100% of these fees (when funding agencies already pay a large percentage of them and would continue to do so).  For more details, see my article on this point in SOAN for June 2006.
  4. The other publisher arguments are all old and familiar.  See my 10-point rebuttal to the AAP's version of the publisher argument against FRPAA.
  5. The signers of today's letter are senior administrators at University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, the University of Chicago, the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, the State University of New York Upstate Medical University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, the Children's Memorial Research Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and University of Tennessee System, the University of California at Davis, and the Oregon Health and Sciences University.  If you work at one of these institutions, let your administrators know that the signing individual does not speak for the faculty or for the research interests of the institution itself.

Self-archiving FAQ, now in Russian

Sergey Parinov has made a Russian translation of the BOAI Self-Archiving FAQ.  (Thanks to Sergey Parinov via Stevan Harnad.)

Nine questions for hybrid journals, now in French

Sandrine Avril and Catherine Gunet have made a French translation of my article, Nine questions for hybrid journal programs (from SOAN for 9/2/06). 

Many thanks, Sandrine and Catherine.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pioneering OA journals

The October issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now online.  This issue contains a detailed, two-part series on pioneering OA journals (Part I, Part II).  Excerpt:

They weren’t generally called Open Access journals in 1995: If that term existed before 2001 or 2002, it certainly wasn’t the standard name for free online scholarship. But there were examples of free online scholarship, some dating back to 1987. In the May 2001 Cites & Insights, I explored the question: “Do free scholarly electronic journals last?”

The title of that essay, Getting Past the Arc of Enthusiasm, revealed one finding I had suspected going in: It was not unusual for one of these pioneering efforts to start out with a bang, fueled by the enthusiasm of its founders, and fade away in an “arc of enthusiasm,” with articles and the journal itself disappearing after a few years.

In the course of the 2001 essay, I casually asserted a definition that’s been cited elsewhere: If a journal lasts at least six years, it can be considered a “lasting” title even if it later goes out of business. More than half of the open access journals founded in 1995 or before that were refereed and “visible” (see below) were still publishing six years later; that’s a good record. I thought it would be interesting to see how they’re doing after five more years. Thus, this update....

[Walt ends Part I by classifying 83 journals from the ARL Directory of Electronic Journals, Newsletters and Academic Discussion Lists for 1995 as Special Cases (3), Oddities (3), Arc of Enthusiasm (14), Ceased Pioneers (11), and Surviving Pioneers (52).  In Part II he lists 189 additional journals missing from the ARL Directory but included in the DOAJ with launch dates of 1995 or earlier.]

Add it up and we see that at least 121 and possibly as many as 184 journals publishing refereed scholarly articles and reviews were available in OA form in 1995 (some years earlier) and lasted at least a decade, showing articles at least through 2004.

How many free online journals came and went between 1995 and 2004? It would be delightful to say that the mortality rate was only 13%: the 25 ceased journals in Part I and the three in Part II, out of the maximum plausible number for 1995 (66 in Part I, 147 in part II). But that benign picture is certainly far too optimistic.

The oldest surviving scholarly ejournal I’m aware of, New Horizons in Adult Education, began in 1987. Thus, this year marks two decades of sustaining free ejournal publishing. It would be fascinating and, I believe, worthwhile to try to track the ejournal landscape through the first of those two decades --or, more realistically, to see what emerged during the first decade (1987-1996) and what happened to those early ejournals. But that’s another story.

Comment. This is the best work to date on the early history of OA journals and should be the point of departure for future histories.

Eprints version 3 timetable

Eprints version 3 is on the way. A beta should appear next month, a release candidate before Christmas, and the formal release in January. (Thanks to Christopher Gutteridge.)

Making the case for OA to California-funded stem-cell research

California citizens who want open access to California-funded stem-cell research present their case today before the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the agency overseeing the research.  The OA advocates have publicly released the background materials for their presentation.  (Thanks for California Stem Cell Report.)

PS:  For background on today's meeting, see my blog post on Tuesday.

Self-archiving advice for authors

Stevan Harnad, Cornell's Copyright Advice: Guide for the Perplexed Self-Archiver, Open Access Archivangelism, September 20, 2006. Excerpt:

Summary:  Cornell University's copyright advice pages are numerous and confusing because they cover everything -- from Cornell user rights for the use of other people's work to the negotiation of rights for Cornell authors' own work. One can give prospective self-archivers far more specific advice: The "Immediate Deposit, Optional Access" policy (ID/OA):

(1) Deposit all your final, peer-reviewed, accepted drafts (postprints) in your Institutional Repository (IR) immediately upon acceptance for publication.

(2) Set access to the postprint as Open Access immediately if it is published in one of the 69% of journals that are already green on postprint self-archiving.

(3) Otherwise provisionally set access to the postprint as Closed Access and notify the journal that you will set access as Open Access on [Date, one month from today] if you do not hear anything to the contrary.

(4) During any Closed Access interval, make sure your IR has the EMAIL EPRINT REQUEST button to handle any individual requests for a single email copy -- Fair Use -- from would-be users who see the postprint's openly accessible metadata: available for DSpace IRs and for EPrints IRs

European Digital Library struggles with copyright

Helena Spongenberg, Old books only in European Digital Library, EU Observer, September 19, 2006. Excerpt:

The EU wants to digitalise and online the vast volumes of cultural works in member state libraries to make them accessible to all, but unless the issue of copyright and intellectual property rights are solved, the European Digital Library may consist only of books and journals published before the 1920s.

The European Commission in August urged the 25 EU member states to speed up and co-operate on the setting up of a European-wide digital library.  In its recommendation, Brussels called on governments to deal with obstacles such as copyright questions and reasons for delays in the digitalisation of materials, which include books, journals, newspapers, photographs, museum objects, films and other cultural works....

The aim is to have at least 2 million cultural works accessible via the European Digital Library by 2008, and at least six million volumes by 2010....

But until a solution is found, only volumes already in the public domain - works no longer covered by intellectual property rights - will be available online....

[W]orks being digitalised for the library will mainly be from before the 1920s unless the issue of intellectual property rights is dealt with. "This is one of the main topics in all discussions going on at the moment," says Britta Woldering of Deutsche Nationalbibliothek and CENL – a group of national librarians.  "The issue of copyright is the biggest barrier for digitalisation," she said.

Ms Woldering said many libraries with digitalised works could only show them in their own reading rooms. "It's like keeping them in a black box, which is ridiculous if you think how many readers they could reach online," she noted....

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Open courseware at Yale and Notre Dame

Jeffrey Young, Yale U. Plans to Offer Some Course Materials, Including Lecture Videos, Free OnlineChronicle of Higher Education, September 20, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

Cameras are rolling in Yale University classrooms this fall, as part of a project to make video recordings of several courses available free for anyone to view online.

Yale is the latest institution to pledge to create "open courseware," in which detailed material from courses is placed online in the hopes that it will be used by educators and students elsewhere. Open courseware was pioneered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which in 2001 announced plans to put material for nearly all of its courses online.

Yale plans to start out slowly, publishing materials from seven courses by the fall of 2007. After that, the project might expand if it is deemed a success. The effort is supported by a $755,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation....

In an announcement on Tuesday, Yale officials said that the university would be the first to offer complete sets of videos along with its open courses. But Anne H. Margulies, executive director of MIT's OpenCourseWare Initiative, said MIT already has 26 courses online that include full sets of lecture videos. The institute has materials available for more than 1,400 courses, though most focus on text, such as lecture notes.

The idea of systematically publishing course materials online for use by those outside the university has grown slowly in recent years. Leaders from MIT and other colleges recently formed the Open Courseware Consortium, made up of educational institutions worldwide that have pledged to place complete course materials for at least 10 courses online....The University of Notre Dame, which is a member of the consortium, unveiled its first eight open courses this week.

Terri L. Bays, director of the open-courseware project at Notre Dame, said the university planned to publish materials for 30 courses within two years, with the support of a $232,800 grant from the Hewlett Foundation. Within the next 10 years, she hopes that two-thirds of the university's courses will be free online....

Access to scientific data in China

Paul F. Uhlir and Julie M. Esanu (rapporteurs), Strategies for Preservation of and Open Access to Scientific Data in China: Summary of a Workshop, National Academies Press, 2006. A book-length (152 pp.) report on the workshop, International Workshop on Strategies for Preservation of and Open Access to Scientific Data (Beijing, June 22-24, 2004). Like all books from the National Academies Press, this one is available in an OA edition as well as a priced, printed edition.

Mixed OA/TA journal increasing its OA content

Peter Huijbregts, Now who says you always have to pay for peer-reviewed literature? Evidence in Motion, September 19, 2006.  Huijbregts is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy.  Excerpt:

I just wanted to make you all aware of the fact that the latest issue of the Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy has been posted online....For those of you unfamiliar with JMMT, it is the official journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists and the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Therapy and it is read worldwide with subscribers in some 40 countries. Our goal is to provide up-to-date, evidence-based, clinically relevant information in the area of orthopaedic manual therapy....

Since I have become the Editor-in-Chief, we have also increased our open access and open access, online-only content in an effort to disseminate the material published even wider and quicker.

Open access material in the latest issue includes the abstracts for the upcoming AAOMPT conference, a great guest editorial by Dr. Gwen Jull on cervicogenic headache diagnosis, a case report by Paul Glynn and Josh Cleland on the evidence-based management of a patient with neck and upper extremity complaints with online video supplements, a research article by Oostendorp et al discussing possible characteristics of subpopulations of patients with so-called non-specific low back pain, and a case report by Schenk et al on management of a patient with cervicogenic dizziness. The subscriber-only content is equally interesting and --in my admittedly biased opinion-- well worth a subscription to the Journal.

Sharing the load for the knowledge commons

Paul Hartzog, The Knowledge Commons: Getting It Right, On the commons, September 19, 2006.  Hartzog is the Information Architect at Knowledge Commons.  Excerpt:

I have long been concerned over our store of collective human knowledge, and recent events seem to be taking a dramatic turn for the worse.  Nevertheless, I believe there is a solution....

Human knowledge is stored in the distributed network of individual human minds, and a repository of human knowledge needs to be stored in a distributed fashion as well, a "knowledge commons," if you will.

What would the Knowledge Commons look like?  Fairly simple, as it turns out.  Imagine a peer-to-peer network in which everyone could contribute pieces of knowledge, and those pieces would be immediately spliced into bits and replicated throughout the system.  Like SETI@home and other distributed computing initiatives, everyone would share the load, so to speak, for the Knowledge Commons.

Importantly, such a system would be open on two fronts:

  1. Open access:  the system would be open to both input and output.  In other words, anyone could put information into the system, and anyone could obtain information out of the system.
  2. Open development:  since the core protocol would be open, changes to it would be community-driven.  Furthermore, anyone could develop a client application (or a web application) that would connect to the Knowledge Commons.

What this means is that instead of one wikipedia site, we could have many sites.  Instead of one way to access the Knowledge Commons, we could have many.  And politically, instead of one person controlling our collective knowledge, we could have many.

Hmm, sounds like something worth doing….  Any takers?

An EBSCO perspective on FRPAA

Dan Tonkery, Editorial: Key issues facing the industry, Serials Review, September 2006.  Tonkery is Director for Business Development at EBSCO Information Services.  Because the editorial is not OA and I don't have access, I'll borrow (with thanks) the excerpt blogged this morning by William Walsh

With the library community and politically strong disease groups behind the bill [FRPAA], one has high hopes that something of this order will end up as law. However don't hold your breath, as the battle is just beginning on the bill. Many influential society publishers are already working the halls of Congress to get the bill off track. They are joined by the lobbying efforts of major STM publishers. So it is anyone's guess how this will all end, but it is clear that Congress and the general public feel that NIH and other government-funded research results are locked up and not providing a proper return on investment. While many of the library groups are crying that the scientific publishing is broken, it is the disease groups that are getting the most attention. Just creating the image that the cure is out there for any of these horrific diseases that affect children and others but that the cure is locked up in high price journals not accessible to researchers gets great political play and gets votes on the hill.

While many are in the debate on Open Access and this bill, if passed, this bill would have a major impact on publisher's business models. The one community that is still not engaged is the faculty that writes, reads and edits 60,000 articles that result from NIH funding alone. Without this constituency one has to wonder if the Open Access movement is going forward with the power and influence that it needs to win the battle. It is hard to find great enthusiasm in the community of scholars. Scholars just want to do research, teach, and share their results with their peers and to advance their field of knowledge. Promotion and tenure are still the main issues of the day, not Open Access or the high price of journals. Perhaps Open Access is just the current phase that we are going through and some other solution will rise to the top. My feeling is that commercial publishers will evolve and continue to find a way to make money, and the society publishers will be left shifting in the wind if this bill passes.

The broadcasting treaty would limit access to knowledge

Marcia Aribela and Viviana Munoz, The Proposed WIPO Broadcasting Treaty: What Implications for Access to Knowledge?  A2K Brasil, September 19, 2006.  Excerpt:

Following a collaboration project initiated between the Centre for Technology and Society (CTS), of FGV School of Law in Rio de Janeiro, and the Innovation and Access to Knowledge Programme of the South Centre, an intergovernmental organization of countries of the South, it is with great pleasure that we make it public the first post kindly prepared by the latter’s experts: ...

The discussion on the TPMs was highly contentions. TPMs refer to technological tools that may be used by the copyright owner, performer or phonogram producer to prevent or restrict non-authorised use and/or access to works in the digital environment. Concerns have been raised with the implementation of TPMs as they could block access by, for example, consumers to legitimate uses of content when it is in the public domain. According to some delegations, if TPMs were extended to broadcasting organisations and cablecasting organisations as proposed in the two alternatives in the Basic Draft Proposal, it would mean new obligations for WIPO Members, since neither the Rome Convention nor the TRIPS Agreement contains such provisions. In addition, some delegations, including Brazil, argued that TPMs are not relevant to protect signals, which is the objective of the Treaty, and would only serve to protect the content.

IV. Conclusion

...[T]he Broadcasting Treaty contain provisions that may seriously affect developing countries. It also shows that the establishment of safeguard measures, such as limitations and exceptions are essential for assuring access to knowledge, in particular, for those who lack economic resources to pay for accessing information.

The versatility of OA archiving software

The folks at Eprints have put together a page of exemplary Eprints repositories, Celebrating Our Diversity.  It collects sample repositories showing how to use Eprints to help brand an institution, serve institutional consortia or entire regions, archive data or ETDs (as opposed to journal preprints and postprints), accompany a journal, support multi-lingual deposits, fit an archive into a larger portal, or capture the work of a project or discipline. 

Eleven more digital presses

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Digital University/Library Presses, Part 11: Other Digital Presses, DigitalKoans, September 19, 2006. Excerpt:

Here are brief descriptions of eleven more digital university/library presses, bringing the total number of presses covered by this series of postings to 21.

  1. Clemson University Digital Press...
  2. EPIC: "The Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia (EPIC)...."
  3. eScholarship Repository...
  4. Digital Library and Archives, Virginia Tech University Libraries...
  5. Praxis (e)Press...
  6. Project Euclid... 
  7. Project MUSE...
  8. Rice University Press...
  9. Scholarly Publishing Office, University of Michigan Library...
  10. Sydney University Press...
  11. The University of Texas Houston Electronic Press...

Stimulating the economy with OA data

Gervase Markham, Free data – a valuable commodityTimes Online, September 18, 2006.  (Thanks to Free Government Information.)  Excerpt:

Far from charging us for the data it collects, the Government should encourage us to use it freely...Don't you hate it when you have to pay for something twice? ...

Until 1999, the Ordnance Survey, the British Government's mapping arm, was funded by the taxpayer to make detailed maps of the entire country. These days, they sell limited-use licences to this national asset on a "cost recovery" basis. So, having paid my taxes, when I buy an OS map to go walking in the Lakes, I have the privilege of paying again....

In the US, by contrast, geospatial data collected by federal agencies are placed in the public domain. This allows the creation of cool, free-to-access services such as, which is building a comprehensive database of GSM cell towers to allow people to locate themselves without a GPS, and Gutenkarte, a weird combination of Project Gutenberg e-texts and maps which shows you all the geographic locations mentioned in a particular book. Check out Around the World in 80 Days.

So what might happen if we adopted the American approach? A lot more than a few mash-ups.

A study in 2000 estimated that, although the US Government spends twice as much on data collection as the EU countries, but the economic value generated by businesses using it was more than ten times greater – €750 billion. That's billion, not million. Was the analysis done by self-justifying American civil servants or biased open-geodata activists? No, it was done by the EU itself. You would have thought that most governments would jump at a share in a multi-hundred-billion-euro fillip for their economies.

A further irony about the short-sighted "cost recovery" policy is that, again using the Ordnance Survey as an example, 60 per cent of its data sales are back to the Government itself. This is not cost recovery, it's merely moving cash around the system. Although free and open data distribution would mean the Survey would need explicit funding, the increased tax revenue from the economic activity generated would more than pay for the additional cost (again, according to the EU study). That's joined-up government. We have some of the highest quality mapping data in the world; the possibilities are limited only by the imagination.

Natural justice and hard-nosed economics agree – Ordnance Survey and other government data, in open formats and under open licences, should be made available, free to all.

More on OA books stimulating sales of TA books

John Joseph Adams interviews Cory Doctorow in Sci Fi Weekly for September 20, 2006.  Excerpt:

You make much of your work available free online as Creative Commons-licensed downloads. What prompted you to give your work away for free, and how difficult was it to convince your publishers to go along with the idea?

It's just good business. As publisher Tim O'Reilly says, an author's worst problem isn't piracy, it's obscurity. Of all the people who failed to buy one of my books today, the vast majority did so because they never heard of them, not because they got a free digital copy from the Internet. Indeed, a digital copy makes the print copy more valuable, since it adds utility in the form of portability, ease of reproduction, searching and archiving, and so on. In short, giving away ebooks sells print books.

It's a great moment to be an SF writer. SF appears to be the only fiction that anyone cares about enough to really aggressively steal over the Internet. I'd rather be in the "worth stealing" camp than the "beneath notice" camp. As with every revolution in information production and dissemination, Internet-based copying will create lots of opportunities for attentive, entrepreneurial artists who don't turn crybaby the minute last year's business model is threatened by next year's. I'm going to be one of the entrepreneurs.

My editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, was behind me all the way on this. It was a no-brainer for him and Tor, and the books have sold well enough that there's never been any question as to whether I'll continue the experiment.

Support for OA to EU geospatial data

The Commission to the European Parliament has come out in favor of open access to publicly-funded geospatial data.  (Thanks to Public Geo Data.)  Excerpt:

The overall aim of the proposal is to improve the way in which spatial data held by public authorities supports environmental policy, by improving the harmonisation of spatial data and the interoperability of spatial services and ensuring greater sharing of the data between public authorities and on-line access by the public....

The Commission does not agree that intellectual property rights held by public authorities should be among the list of grounds for limiting public access to spatial data.

The Commission also does not agree that the possibility of limiting access should be extended to cover discovery services referred to in Article 18(1)(a) of the Commission proposal, since this would mean that the public would not even be able to learn of the existence of the data.

The Commission maintains that the view services referred to in Article 18(1)(b) of the Commission proposal should be made available free of charge, and cannot accept the Council position allowing public authorities to charge and license for these services under certain conditions;

The common position makes the obligation to avoid obstacles to data sharing, as well as the rules for ensuring harmonised conditions for Community institutions and bodies, subordinate to the right of public data providers to charge and license other authorities for their data. It is also vague about the obstacles to be avoided. It will therefore be ineffective in achieving one of the key aims of the proposal, and could even have the effect of increasing obstacles to the sharing of data....

A study in permission barriers

Kristin R. Eschenfelder, Access and Use Rights Restrictions in Licensed Scholarly Digital Resources Protected by Technological Protection Measures, a preprint.
Abstract:   This is a submission to the "Interrogating the Social Realities of Information Systems" Preconference Symposium at ASIST 2006. This abstract describes an investigation of the changing access and use rights of licensed scholarly digital resources, particularly the rights associated with digital works protected by technological protection measures (TPM – also known as digital rights management systems or DRM).

Six more provosts support FRPAA

The provosts of six New England land-grant colleges have released their September 6 letter to Senator John Cornyn in support of FRPAA.  From yesterday's press release:

Six public land-grant universities in New England, representing six states and $700 million in annual research investments, have issued a letter of support for the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (S.2695). The letter is signed by the Chief Academic Officers from University of Connecticut, University of Maine, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of New Hampshire, University of Rhode Island, and University of Vermont. This brings the total number of leaders from the higher education community who have spoken out in support of the Act to 125....

Issued on September 6, 2006 by the Council of Presidents - New England Land-Grant Universities, the letter reads:

Dear Senator Cornyn,

As the chief academic officers of the six public land-grant universities, in New England, we are writing to you in support of the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006. Our universities enroll over 100,000 students. They confer about 17% of the bachelor’s degrees and 20% of the doctoral degrees in New England. Collectively they invest more than $700 million per year on research, largely with the support of federal grants.

Dissemination of results is an essential component of the land-grant tradition of research and of 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 also critical 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.

Open access to publicly funded research facilitates the candid 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. The deans and directors of the universities’ libraries also strongly endorse the FRPAA.


Peter J. Nicholls, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs,
University of Connecticut

Edna Szymanski, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost,
University of Maine

Charlena Seymour, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs,
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Bruce L. Mallory, Provost and Executive Vice President, University of New Hampshire

M. Beverly Swan, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Rhode Island

John M. Hughes, Provost and Senior Vice President, University of Vermont

ALPSP/STM white paper on scientific publishing

Mark Ware Consulting, Scientific publishing in transition: an overview of current developments, a white paper from ALPSP and STM, September 2006.  See esp. pp. 16-26, which are devoted to OA, including the OA citation advantage, OA journal business models and their viability, and OA archiving.  From the executive summary:

[9] There are some 2000-2400 open access journals in existence, publishing about 2–5% of total articles. They use a variety of funding models, grants, membership subscriptions, sponsorship/advertising, commercial reprints, classified advertising, subscriptions to print editions, volunteer labour, and subsidy or support in kind by the host organisation. The best-known approach, is the “author-side payment” model, where a publication charge (mostly in the range $2–3000) is levied on each accepted article (page 16).

[10] It is still too early to say for sure how viable open access publishing will be. Neither of the leading pioneers, Public Library of Science and BioMed Central are even close to profitability. The available data are patchy but, taken together, suggest that achieving widespread sustainability for open access journals will not be particularly quick or easy (page 19).

[11] The other route to open access is via self-archiving, whereby the author posts a version of the article (typically the revised manuscript after peer review but prior to copyediting, known as a post-print, rather than the final published article) to an open web-based repository. These repositories can either be central, subject-based collections (e.g. the well-known physics repository, arXiv) or organised to collect the output of a particular institution (page 22).

[12] A worrying development for publishers is the emergence of policies by research funders and by authors’ employers requiring the deposit of articles in such repositories. The US National Institutes of Health introduced such a policy in 2005, and has subsequently been followed by the Wellcome Trust and some of the Research Councils in the UK, and others in France, Germany and elsewhere (page 25).

[13] Publishers fear that widespread systematic self-archiving of this kind will have a serious impact on journal subscriptions, the revenue stream that supports the vast majority of journals. There is evidence from physics and elsewhere that archiving reduces the amount of use of articles get on the publisher’s website (readers get the articles from the repository instead). There is also some evidence from a survey of librarians that this is becoming an increasingly important factor in considering journal cancellations. A major study on this subject by Scholarly Information Strategies for the Publishing Research Consortium is due to report on this during October (page 26).

Review of CDSware

Anestis Sitas, CDSware (CERN Document Server Software), Library Hi Tech, 24, 3 (2006).  From the abstract:

Design/methodology/approach – CDSware supports the creation of electronic preprint servers, Online Public Access Catalogs (OPACs) and document systems on the web. It complies with the OAI-PMH (Open Archive Initiative – Protocol for Metadata Harvesting) and uses MARC 21 as its underlying bibliographic standard. It is open source software, licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

Findings – CDSware has been created for the handling of large repositories including various types of materials, like descriptions of museum objects, collections of confidential or public documents, etc.

Practical implications – All technical details of the software are described to enable comparison with all other open source software for managing and bibliographic organization of digitized context....

More on Yale's OA course videos

Scott Jaschik, The Next Level of Open Source, Inside Higher Ed, September 20, 2006.  Excerpt:

On Tuesday, Yale University announced that it would be starting a version of an open access online tool for those seeking to gain from its courses. But the basis of the Yale effort will be video of actual courses — every lecture of the course, to be combined with selected class materials. The money behind the Yale effort is coming from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which was an early backer of MIT’s project, and which sees the Yale project as a way to take the open course idea to the next level.

“We want to add another dimension to open courseware,” said Catherine Casserly, a program officer at Hewlett. She said that video components used at MIT and elsewhere have been very popular with people all over the world. “We’re trying to make that bridge” to the audience for high quality American education, she said. Casserly said that Yale’s initiative — starting with seven courses this year, with plans to grow quickly — was the first open courseware effort based on lecture videos. “We hope to see this spread to other universities,” she said....

Kleiner said that Yale officers were “very admiring” of the model built by MIT, and she praised MIT as well for sharing extensive information about how its program was designed. But she said that Yale believes that course lectures “are the core content,” and need to be central. “We’re following in MIT’s footprints, but really taking a new step,” she said....

PS:  For more background, see the story I blogged on 9/8/06.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Free same-day transcripts of Supreme Court arguments

Timely Transcripts at Last, Washington Post, September 17, 2006.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

When the Supreme Court opens its term next month, it will finally begin making transcripts of its oral arguments available -- free, online and on the day of the arguments. That this represents a breakthrough shows how dramatically behind the times the justices are. But it is a breakthrough, nonetheless, that will dramatically improve the public's access to court proceedings.

Until now, the justices not only prohibited cameras and typically waited months to release audiotapes of arguments, they also waited weeks to release free transcripts. The public had to depend on the media to know in a timely fashion what happened. This was unfortunate, both because oral arguments are among the most majestic events in American democracy and because even excellent news stories often can't capture the full texture of arguments over complicated and nuanced points of law....

More coverage.

Four more OA journals from Hindawi join Web of Science

From Hindawi's announcement earlier today:

Four more journals from Hindawi's open access collection have been accepted for coverage in the Web of Science.

Hindawi Publishing Corporation is pleased to announce that four more of its open access journals have been accepted for coverage by Thompson Scientific and are on track to receive their first Impact Factors. Abstract and Applied Analysis, Boundary Value Problems, the EURASIP Journal on Wireless Communications and Networking, and Fixed Point Theory and Applications will now be citation-tracked in Thompson Scientific's Web of Science.

The addition of these four titles brings the number of Hindawi's open access journals that are covered in one or more of Thompson Scientific's products to sixteen. The addition of these four journals to the Web of Science should help to further raise the profile of Hindawi's open access journal collection. "This is indeed an important development, and should contribute to attracting high quality submissions" remarked Phillip Regalia, Editor-in-Chief of the EURASIP Journal on Wireless Communications and Networking. In addition to the sixteen journals already indexed by Thompson Scientific, several more journals from Hindawi's open access collection are currently under review.

OA "opens new perspectives on peer review"

Georgii A. Alexandrov, The purpose of peer review in the case of an open-access publicationCarbon Balance and Management, September 15, 2006.  An editorial.

Abstract:   First scientific journals were simply a way of informing colleagues about new research findings. In due course, they started filtering out unreasonable claims, and introduced a peer-review system. The purpose of peer reviewing changed with time. Since the middle of the past century, commercial publishers have owned a large number of scientific journals and as a result, the marketable value of a submitted manuscript has become an increasingly important factor in publishing decisions. Recently some publishers have developed business schemes which may stop this tendency. In the case of an open-access publication, the marketable value of a manuscript is not the primary consideration, since access to the research is not being sold. This innovation challenges scientists to re-consider the purpose of peer review. This editorial indicates some of the commonly used criteria for publication that consequently should receive less or little emphasis under the open-access model.

From the body of the paper:

The obvious advantage of the open-access scheme is that it relieves authors of having to impress readers. It is not clear, however, whether the research community is ready to take advantage of the scheme and re-consider the purpose of peer review, but it is clear that it opens new perspectives, which must be explored.

What makes an open-access journal play a vital role in the research community? Opinions may differ. Some researchers may consider journal’s selectivity as a hugely important factor. Therefore, it would be only prudent to address this question to recent and prospective authors of Carbon Balance and Management.

Warning: This article does not reflect either the current policy of CBM journal or that of BioMed Central. Its major purpose is to encourage recent and prospective authors to make use of 'Post a comment' tool (see the link on this web page) for exposing their expectations and needs to the members of editorial board, and vice versa.

More on the Cambridge hybrid journals

Tracey Caldwell, CUP dips 15 toes in the open access publishing water, Information World Review, September 18, 2006.  Excerpt:

Cambridge University Press has made 15 of its journals open access. Contributors will be able to have their paper made freely available online as soon as it is accepted for publication.

Authors, their institution or funding body, will have to pay a £1,500 fee to cover costs.  Gavin Swanson, STM editor-in-chief at Cambridge Journals, said the fee reflected the real costs of online publication....

Stevan Harnad, information professional and proponent of open access, welcomed the move: “There is now nothing more that the OA movement can reasonably ask of a publisher that CUP has not already done, having given all of its authors the green light to provide OA to their own articles if they wish, and having even begun to test the waters of OA publishing. Yes, at £1,500 the cost is not small, but this is an experiment, and OA publishing involves some risk to publishers, so the waters need to be tested cautiously.”

Ian Banbery, marketing director of the CUP journals division, said: “As a new business model for journals publishers the OA idea needs exploring and understanding by all in the publication chain. It may or may not be viable, and there are serious questions about its sustainability for academics working in humanities and social sciences, but as a serious academic publisher Cambridge needs to test all possible options.”

After assessing its experience with this defined set of Cambridge-owned STM journals, CUP’s next step will be to bring OA to journals it publishes on behalf of learned societies....

Comment.  The 15 Cambridge journals are not full OA but hybrid OA, which means that some of their articles are OA and some TA, at the author's choice.  For my comments on Cambridge's implementation of the hybrid model, see my article in the September SOAN.

More on OA to California-funded stem-cell research

UC Officials Call for Open Access to Taxpayer Financed Stem Cell Research, California Stem Cell Report, September 18, 2006.  Excerpt: 

Around the world, public health scientists are struggling to gain access to research that will help them stave off a catastrophic outbreak of bird flu.

University libraries are rebelling against annual subscriptions to scientific journals that run upwards of $3,000 annually.
Patient advocate groups complain that scientists are not sharing their research, delaying the development of cures that can save lives.

It is all part of the backdrop of the debate over the innocuous sounding topic of open access, which will come before the Intellectual Property Task Force of the California stem cell agency this Thursday....

The subject is of great interest to more than one member of CIRM's Oversight Committee. But Jeff Sheehy pushed hard to have open access placed on the IP agenda this week. After representatives of the University of California plumped for the issue at an IP Task Force meeting last month, Sheehy was emphatic. He said,

"This is really important for patients....An activist list serve that I'm on, they're looking at purchasing subscriptions so that people can get access to the data.

"We give up our bodies so people can study us....The state of California is paying for this research. And from a patient perspective, the idea that a study would be published with [public] funding, having used California residents potentially as subjects of experiments, and we could not read those studies, we cannot access them is just unconscionable."

Appearing before the Task Force were John Ober, director of policy, planning and outreach, Office of Scholarly Communication, University of California, and Lawrence Pitts, professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, UC San Francisco, and former chair of the UC Academic Senate.
We queried Ober later for more on the issue. He cited a May 2005 letter by UC President Robert Dynes to Robert Klein, chair of the CIRM Oversight Committee, seeking an open access policy....

Leader in open-source science wins MacArthur Fellowship

Among the 25 new MacArthur Fellows for 2006 is Victoria Hale, founder and CEO of the Institute for OneWorld Health (iOWH), a leader in open-source science and the first non-profit pharmaceutical company in the US. iOWH uses donated intellectual property to develop patent-free drugs for neglected diseases in developing countries. Congratulations to Dr. Hale.

The trouble with medical journals: bias, fraud, and lack of OA

Amazon is now taking pre-orders for Richard Smith's book, The Trouble with Medical Journals (Royal Society of Medicine, October 2006). See this unsigned review in today's issue of Life Style Extra:
Medical journals have become "creatures of the drug industry" rife with fraudulent research and packed with articles ghost written by pharmaceutical companies, an ex British Medical Journal editor has claimed.

In a highly critical book Dr Richard Smith, who edited the BMJ for 13 years, said: "Medical journals have many problems and need reform. The research they contain is hard to interpret and prone to bias and peer review. The process at the heart of journals and all of science, is deeply flawed." ...

The Trouble with Medical Journals examines the important relationships between journals and patients, the mass media, pharmaceutical companies, open access and the developing world.

Evaluating DSpace, Eprints, and Fedora

Richard Wyles and others, Technical Evaluation of selected Open Source Repository Solutions, version 1.3.  A report from the OARINZ project (Open Access Repositories in New Zealand).  Undated but apparently released September 15, 2006.  Excerpt:

The objectives of this Technical Evaluation process are:  [1] To gain understanding of the design, architecture and implementation details of the short-listed Repositories [i.e. repository software packages], [2] To evaluate the short-listed Repositories against an agreed set of criteria, [3] To pay particular attention to the long-term development and
maintenance lifespan of the short-listed Repositories, [4] To engage members of the Open Source community in the process where relevant, [5] To recommend the most suitable candidate Repository/s, [6] To choose a system that can aggregate published metadata and offer a bureau/hosting service...[7] To select a system/s that offers institutions a repository system that is feature rich yet has low implementation and support overheads, and [8] To report our findings in a concise and complete manner.

The project initially screened DSpace, Eprints, Fedora, ARNO, CDSWare, and i-TOR.  Then it picked the first three for closer study.  In the end, it recommended Fedora and gave honorable mention to Eprints.

Another subscription journal converts to OA

The journal Oral Tradition, published since 1986, converted to open access on September 15, 2006. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.) OT is published by the University of Missouri's Center for Studies in Oral Tradition. From the site:
With the advent of eOT we aspire to remove many of the natural barriers created by print-based and subscription media. With the conviction that academic contributions should be as democratically available as possible, we are from this point onward offering the journal as a pro bono, gratis contribution to the field. Anyone with a connection to the internet will be able to read and redistribute its contents – for the moment, the current issue and four years of back issues, but eventually the entire contents of the journal.

In addition to reaching a much larger and more diverse readership, we hope that eOT will encourage submissions from scholars whose voices are not customarily heard in western print media because of the difficulties involved with currency exchange and distribution networks. Let me take this opportunity to offer a special invitation to non-western scholars to join the discussion by sending contributions for possible publication in this newly expanded forum. All materials should be sent electronically to John Miles Foley, Editor.

RAE licensing instead of OA

Stevan Harnad, Submitting one's own published work for assessment is Fair UseOpen Access Archivangelism, September 18, 2006.  Excerpt:
Summary: CrossRef and Publishers Licensing Society have come to a "gentleman's agreement" with RAE/HEFCE to "license" the papers that are submitted to RAE for assessment "free of charge." No such licensing agreement was necessary, however. The RAE's insistence on authors submitting the publisher's version of each paper for assessment, rather than the author's peer-reviewed final drafts (postprints) is arbitrary and serves no useful purpose. Moreover, the RAE needs no special permission for its individual authors to submit their work for assessment: that is merely Fair Use on the authors' part. The RAE restriction to only four submissions per author is likewise needless and counterproductive. Once the unnecessary and wasteful "peer-re-reviewing" by the RAE panels is at last abandoned in favour of metrics, there will be no need for either a 4-item cap or any attempt to get the "originals" to the panel. The authors' self-archived postprints in their own institutional OA IRs will suffice. What will moot all of this is the OA self-archiving mandates by RCUK and the UK universities themselves, which will fill the UK universities' IRs, which will in their turn -- with the help of the IRRA (Institutional Repositories and Research Assessment) -- mediate the submission of both the postprints and the metrics to the RAE.

A new institute will self-archive its research output

Tomorrow De Montfort University will launch its Institute of Creative Technologies, whose web site is already online for browsing. There's a promising line on its publications page:
The IOCT's publications will be archived in the Institutional respository of De Montfort University.

PS: Does this suggest an OA mandate at IOCT? An OA expectation?

Correction: Nature hasn't made up its mind about open review

Timo Hannay set the record straight at Nature's Nascent blog this morning:

[A]nyone who read this or this about Nature's open peer review trial can rest assured that it's NOT true. We haven't made a decision about this yet. There's been a recent uptick in coverage of our trial following an article (subscribers only) in the 14 September issue of the Wall Street Journal. Some others then reported this as a new initiative even though it's now been going for almost four months. Matt Whipp went further and put it in the future tense, which Peter Suber seems to [have] interpreted as a scoop rather than a mistake.

PS:  Thanks, Timo.  I stand corrected. 

Profile of Wisconsin's Parallel Press

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Digital University/Library Presses, Part 10: Parallel Press, DigitalKoans, September 18, 2006.  Excerpt:

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries’ Parallel Press publishes "print-on-demand books that parallel online publications, as well as chapbooks featuring the work of regional poets and UW historians." Many of the books are reprints of out-of-print works. It appears that the Parallel Press was established in 1998....

While the chapbooks are only available in low-cost print editions, the books have a freely available digital version. Examples of books include (links are to the digital versions):

More on Citizendium

William New, A Wikipedia Architect Plans A “Better” Open Source Online Encyclopedia, IP-Watch, September 19, 2006.  Excerpt:

Wikipedia, the popular community-driven online encyclopedia, is doomed to “amateurism” and should be complemented by a more serious effort, says one of the project’s creators who announced plans to launch an alternative.

Larry Sanger, chief organiser of Wikipedia in its first year, unveiled his plan at last week’s fourth annual Wizards of OS conference in Berlin....The new project will be known as the Citizendium. It would closely resemble Wikipedia, but would involve a system of authors writing in their areas of expertise, being edited by experienced editors who would be their equals, not superiors. (There would be a mechanism for resolving disputes between them).

A key difference from Wikipedia would be the absence of anonymous editing, creating instead a “culture of real-world personal responsibility,” Sanger said. There would be a relatively immutable and binding charter, with “constables” enforcing adherence to the charter. The Citizendium also would avoid the “feature-creep” plaguing Wikipedia, where pieces are growing ever longer, he said.

The Citizendium would use the same free software licence as Wikipedia, GNU Free Documentation License, and would employ a “progressive fork” from Wikipedia, beginning with a mirror of all of Wikipedia’s articles, and then allowing people to make changes to them. Updates made on Wikipedia would automatically be made in the Citizendium too, unless someone had separately changed it on the Citizendium, which would then break the tie between the two encyclopedias.

“I want to help launch something better, if that is possible,” Sanger said. He still supports Wikipedia, but said it was intended to be fun and light-hearted, not a serious resource.

Addressing Amateurism or Personal Vendetta?

“One might say Wikipedia is committed to its amateurism,” he said. “In an encyclopedia, I think that is a problem.” His new “experimental workspace” would be a wiki that “aspires to be as good as a real encyclopedia,” he said....

Monday, September 18, 2006

OA textbook publisher buys OA textbook portal

Freeload Press, Inc Purchases Textbook Revolution, a press release from Freeload, September 18, 2006.  (Thanks to William Walsh.)  Excerpt:

Freeload Press...announced today that it has purchased Textbook Revolution in a strategic move designed to add more products, expand services and increase resources for college students and other learners around the country. The combined companies will provide extensive resources for students searching for affordable textbooks, study guides, learning tools, informational modules, and other educational assets.

“Our mission is to liberate the textbook so students from all financial backgrounds can use these important tools,” said Tom Doran, Chief Executive Officer at Freeload Press, Inc. “Textbook Revolution provides a service that helps expand the reach of our mission. Their cataloging service --which organizes and comments on all appropriate free textbooks and supplements-- is a wonderful resource for all college students.”

Joining him in announcing the merger was Jason Turgeon, President and founder of Textbook Revolution. “I’m excited to join Freeload Press. Both of us are working hard to make college more affordable, so this is a natural fit”, said Turgeon, who will continue to manage Textbook Revolution and work as a publisher with Freeload Press, Inc. “By joining their team, I’ll be able to greatly increase the resources for free books I can direct students to, without compromising quality. This is really going to benefit students looking for relief from the spiraling costs of education.” said Turgeon.

Comment.  I've called Textbook Revolution "the best single site on OA textbooks" and again, the only "searchable portal [for OA textbooks] that tries to be comprehensive."  If this buy-out ensures its longevity, I'm all for it.

New NEH funding guidelines favor OA projects

Scott Jaschik, Harming the Historical Record, Inside Higher Ed, September 18, 2006.  Excerpt:

The [U.S.] NEH [National Endowment for the Humanities] has issued new guidelines [for Scholarly Edition Grants] — just as scholars were finishing grant applications — granting preference to those projects that make all of their documents freely available online.

While the scholars who work on these projects support digitization (and generally do put their work online), they say that the humanities endowment’s plan could make it impossible for university presses to afford to publish their work [in a non-OA form].

“We could be squandering years of key research, and huge investments we’ve all made in this work. This is just an incredible shame,” said Leslie Rowland, an associate professor of history at the University of Maryland at College Park, who directs a project to produce a nine-volume collection of documents, Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867.

The Association for Documentary Editing [ADE], a group that represents scholars like Rowland, sent a letter to the NEH asking for a meeting to discuss these issues. University press directors are also weighing in against the changes.

NEH officials said that they could not comment in any detail on the complaints being raised. An NEH spokesman said that all he could say was that officials were studying the “thoughtful letter” they had received from the Association for Documentary Editing and planned to meet “soon” with critics of the program’s direction, and that “our support for scholarly editions continues unabated.” ...

[Preferring projects that provide OA] sounds good in theory, wrote [Roger A. Bruns, president of the Association for Documentary Editing], but raises all kinds of issues — especially since the announcement came as a surprise.

“No electronic publication of any value and guaranteed permanence can be designed with two months lead time. Moreover, most editors already in the midst of ongoing book editions are not in a position to determine whether or not their work will appear in electronic form. Few, if any, project directors or host institutions control the rights to these editions,” he wrote.

So the NEH is asking project directors to promise open access to material to which they don’t own the rights, he said. Further, the publishers that frequently do own the rights have “made substantial financial investments in these editions with little or no profit to show for it,” he wrote....

Here's the exact language from the new NEH guidelines (August 20, 2006):

In keeping with the goals of the NEH Digital Humanities Initiative, the Scholarly Editions Program requires that applicants employ digital technology in the preparation, management, and online publication of all critical and documentary editions. Projects that include TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) conformant transcription and offer free online access are encouraged and will be given preference.

Also see the ADE's full statement at the ADE site.


  1. I talked to the NEH in 2003 about adopting this policy and I'm delighted to see it finally do so.  (Actually, I wanted to see it mandate OA to NEH-funded research and scholarly editions, but a funding preference for OA projects is a big step in the right direction.)  There may be problems with the timing of the announcement, just as applicants are finishing their applications, and undoubtedly some projects will have permission problems that stand in the way of OA.  But taxpayers deserve OA to publicly-funded scholarship, regardless of its field or discipline.
  2. I don't have the full context for Leslie Rowland's statement that the new OA preference is "an incredible shame" because she and her team "could be squandering years of key research, and huge investments".  It's possible that she is only deploring the timing of the NEH announcement, the difficulty of altering her project in the short time allowed, and her reduced prospects for funding.  But if she means that OA rather than TA for her nine-volume documentary history of emancipation would "squander" the labor that has gone into it, then she is forgetting that OA will hugely increase the audience and impact of her work.  And on the other side, scholars and citizens who would like to read her work have a symmetrical complaint.  How often have taxpayers squandered public funds on research that is locked away behind price barriers and accessible only to scholars affiliated with wealthy institutions?

Nature adopts open review

In June, Nature launched a three-month experiment with open review (to accompany its debate on open review).  After digesting its experience, the verdict is in:  Nature will adopt a version of open review. 

To be more precise, it's adopting a form of two-track review in which one track is closed, internal, and prospective and the other is open, external, and retroactive.  Two-track review was pioneered by Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics and since adopted e.g. by PLoS ONE.

Nature itself does not seem to have made the announcement yet, so we have to rely on the press.  See Matt Whipp, Nature journal puts blogging into peer reviews, PC Pro, September 15, 2006.  Excerpt:

The scientific journal Nature is to adopt an open peer-review system to judge papers submitted for publication.

Manuscripts will be uploaded to a pre-print server and made available online in what is essentially a blog, allowing members of the scientific community to comment on the content's merit.

Comments submitted are subject to review themselves before being published, and anyone commenting must put their name and institution to their words.

As well as public review via the Peer Review Trial, manuscripts will also continue to be sent to Nature's experts for a closed review.

Authors can choose not to have their work reviewed in this manner, and their are potentially some disadvantages to having an open peer-review.  Most obviously, such a public forum let's the cat out of the bag on new research before official publishing in the journal....

Comment.  This news is about open review, not open access.  I'm blogging Nature's decision primarily because I blogged the launch of the experiment itself.  Here's what I said at the time:

First I'll make my usual point that achieving OA and reforming peer review are independent projects. OA is compatible with every kind of peer review, from the most conservative to the most innovative. Tying OA to just one model of peer review doubles the difficulty of persuading institutions to adopt or endorse OA....

But having made that point, let me add that there are a lot of exciting synergies to explore between OA and different models of peer review, and the Nature debate is one good forum in which to explore them. For one example, see Herbert Van de Sompel's contribution to the debate, Technical solutions: Certification in a digital era....

Update. This story is inaccurate. Nature hasn't yet made a decision one or the other about open review. See my correction posted 9/19/06.

Ray English on liberating research through OA

Caroline Russell O'Shea, Ray English Presents Second Annual Couper Library LectureHamilton College, September 18, 2006.  Excerpt:

Ray English, the Azariah Smith Root Director of Libraries at Oberlin College, presented the second annual Couper Phi Beta Kappa Library Lecture. English spoke about the need for fundamental reform in the system of scholarly communication, and advocated a move toward open access publishing....

The traditional system of scholarly communication is not sustainable and is in need of fundamental transformation, English said. He outlined several major problems he sees with the traditional system in his talk: the serials crisis, the monograph crisis, and the permissions crisis. The fundamental problem resulting from all of these crises is a lack of access, both for those readers who want to consume scholarly work and those scholars who want to share their research with others. It’s paradoxical, English said, that in today’s technological environment, which can provide us with so much information so easily, access to scholarly information is actually declining.

English spoke first about the serials crisis. Scholarly journals have been increasing in price about 8% annually, while libraries’ budgets for serials are staying flat or increasing at a much lower rate. This gap is the origin of many of our problems, English said, and the current system makes it likely that the gap will only get larger. Most of the price increases come from the journals that are printed by corporate publishing companies, English said, as opposed to not-for-profit journals published by professional societies and university presses. These more expensive, for-profit journals are not necessarily better, however. English shared data that shows that commercial journals actually have a much higher price per citation of their articles in other scholarly work, suggesting that they have less academic impact for the money. Increasing consolidated corporate control of journals means that the price increases are likely to continue, he said....

The last problem area English addressed in his talk is the “permissions crisis,” a phrase coined by Peter Suber, an advocate for open access to scholarship. Suber uses the term to describe the legal and technological barriers which limit academics access to scholarly writings. English gave the example of professors who are unable to use copies of their own articles in their classes because of copyright and licensing issues....

Therefore, the system of scholarly communication is in need of radical transformation. One popular strategy for change is the move towards open access, the free, unrestricted online access to academic literature. English called this strategy the most promising to date. Open access journals can still be peer-reviewed and of equivalent quality to traditional journals. While the logistics and business models of open access journals still have to be worked out, English said that open access has the benefits of increasing readership, research impact, scientific progress, and the growth of knowledge....

OA momentum from CERN and US university administrators

Susan Brown, Coalition Works to Secure Open Access to Published Research, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 22, 2006.  Excerpt:

A group of particle physicists has proposed a new way to pay for immediate free access to journal articles in their field. They want to raise five million to six million euros (about US $7-million) a year to buy open access to peer-reviewed papers in top physics journals.

A committee led by scientists at CERN, the high-energy-physics laboratory near Geneva, has sought new ways to make articles in traditional, subscription-based journals available to anyone interested in physics. One solution they settled upon in a recent report was to create a consortium of large labs and grant-making agencies to pool money for such an effort. That report, which was issued in June, has already persuaded key publishers to offer the option of an upfront payment to make individual research reports free to nonsubscribers.

"We see this as where the community is going," said Daniel Kulp, assistant editorial director of the American Physical Society, which will offer an open-access option for seven physics journals....Elsevier, the largest publisher of scientific journals, has also begun to offer authors the option to pay a fee to make their papers freely available through its ScienceDirect Web...."It's a clear signal that publishers see that the subscription model won't last," said Jens Vigen, a scientific-information officer at CERN....

The proposed consortium also hopes to focus on a growing inequality in who pays for publishing....

Peter Suber, director of the Open Access Project at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit group in Washington, thinks the CERN committee's efforts could increase open access in other fields as well. "That kind of coalition could be duplicated in other fields that don't have their own CERN," he said.

The open-access movement also got a boost from university administrators this month in an open letter signed by presidents of 56 liberal-arts colleges who voiced their support for free access to information gained through federally funded research. They join a group of 25 research-university provosts who took a similar stand in July....

"We're looking to build support for the Senate bill [FRPAA]," said Nancy S. Dye, president of Oberlin College, who helped to draft the letter. "This is important for anyone who is interested in new knowledge."

Even though publishers scale their subscription costs to the size of an institution, librarians at liberal-arts colleges cannot afford to provide access to many research journals. "For liberal-arts colleges, it's a paradoxical situation where the technology allows access to so much information, yet within the traditional literature, scholars are losing access due to budget considerations," said Ray English, head librarian at Oberlin.

The college presidents lead institutions in 21 states, a geographic spread that may help their cause. "Members of Congress listen to this," said Mr. Suber, of Public Knowledge. "They want to know that this is important to institutions in their state....Institutions that speak for the interests of research support [open access to publicly-funded research]."

"OA as dialogic, polyphonic and carnivalistic reaction"

Robert Vaagan, Open Access and Bakhtinian Dialogism, a PPT presentation at Elpub 2006 (Bansko, Bulgaria, June 14-16, 2006). (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Now in an illustrated edition

From Stevan Harnad's blog:

Judith Economos has just created a series of cartoons to illustrate "Publish or Perish" (in support of Open Access).

Bilingual (French/English) version « Publier ou périr » : PDF or Powerpoint [or] English-only version: PDF or Powerpoint.

Update. The poem has now been translated into Hungarian by Tamas Somogyi (PDF or PPT).

Citizendium, a progressive fork of Wikipedia

Larry Sanger, the co-founder of Wikipedia, has announced The Citizendium Project, a "progressive fork" of Wikipedia that should launch in a few weeks.  Citizendium will be an OA wiki starting with Wikipedia articles but revising them under the guidance of qualified experts.  From the site:

The Citizendium..., a "citizens' compendium of everything," will be an experimental new wiki project that combines public participation with gentle expert guidance.  It will begin life as a "progressive fork" of Wikipedia.  But we expect it to take on a life of its own and, perhaps, to become the flagship of a new set of responsibly-managed free knowledge projects.  We will avoid calling it an "encyclopedia," because there will probably always be articles in the resource that have not been vouched for in any sense.

We believe a fork is necessary, and justified, both to allow regular people a place to work under the direction of experts, and in which personal accountability--including the use of real names--is expected.  In short, we want to create a responsible community and a good global citizen....

To learn more, read an introductory essay, "Toward a New Compendium of Knowledge," or see the FAQ....

The Citizendium project is at present entirely independent of the Digital Universe Foundation.  [PS: Sanger is also a co-founder of the Digital Universe, which has also been called a quality-controlled Wikipedia.] ...

A "progressive fork" works like this: we will begin with all of Wikipedia's articles, so that the Citizendium will begin as, simply, a mirror of Wikipedia.  Then people start making changes to articles in the Citizendium.  On a very regular basis, we will refresh our copies of Wikipedia articles.  If an entry in the Citizendium has never changed since being copied from Wikipedia, but the Wikipedia version has, then we upload the most recent Wikipedia article.  But if the Citizendium has changed an article, then it is not refreshed.  Tools will no doubt be written that will allow users to compare the differences between the Wikipedia article and the Citizendium article side-by-side.  In addition, of course, people will be able to start brand new articles on topics Wikipedia has not yet covered....

Experts will be expected to work shoulder-to-shoulder with ordinary people in this project in more or less the same bottom-up fashion that Wikipedia uses.  The difference is that, when content disputes arise, whatever editors are paying attention to the article will be empowered to articulate a resolution--if the article falls in their area of specialization.  Furthermore, their decisions will be enforceable.  Think of editors as the village elders wandering the bazaar and occasionally dispensing advice and reining in the wayward.  Their presence is merely a moderating, civilizing influence.  They don't stop the bazaar from being a bazaar.

Update. There's now a Slashdot discussion of the project.