Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Paul Ginsparg on arXiv, OA, and the future

Paul Ginsparg, As we may read, Journal of Neuroscience, September 20, 2006. (I thought I blogged this earlier but just discovered that I hadn't.)  Excerpt:

The e-print arXiv, initiated in August 1991, has effectively transformed the research communication infrastructure of multiple fields of physics and could play a prominent role in a unified set of global resources for physics, mathematics, and computer science. It has grown to contain >375,000 articles (as of July 2006), with >50,000 new submissions expected in calendar year 2006 and >40,000,000 full-text downloads per year. It is an international project, with dedicated mirror sites in 17 countries and collaborations with United States and foreign professional societies and other international organizations, and it has also provided a crucial lifeline for isolated researchers in developing countries...

The arXiv is entirely scientist driven: articles are deposited by researchers when they choose (either before, simultaneous with, or after peer review), and the articles are immediately available to researchers throughout the world. As a pure dissemination system, it operates at a factor of 100–1000 times lower in cost than a conventionally peer-reviewed system (Ginsparg, 2001). This is the real lesson of the move to electronic formats and distribution: not that everything should somehow be free, but that with many of the production tasks automatable or off-loadable to the authors, the editorial costs will then dominate the costs of an unreviewed distribution system by many orders of magnitude....

The methodology works within copyright law, as long as the depositor has the authority to deposit the materials and assign a nonexclusive license to distribute at the time of deposition, because such a license takes precedence over any subsequent copyright assignment....

From the outset, relied on a variety of heuristic screening mechanisms, including a filter on institutional affiliation of submitter, to ensure insofar as possible that submissions are at least "of refereeable quality." ...

A form of open access appears to be happening by a backdoor route: using standard search engines, more than one-third of the high-impact journal articles in a sample of biological/medical journals published in 2003 were found at nonjournal Web sites (Wren, 2005). To assess the extent of this phenomenon less systematically in the neuroscience community, I looked up the publications posted at [Brain Mapping Studies]....The result is striking: at least 75% of the publications listed were freely available either via direct links from the above Web page or via a straightforward Web search for the article title. If indeed this is representative, then the neuroscience community may already be farther along in the direction of open access than most realize....

 Because the current generation of undergraduates, and the next generation of researchers, already takes for granted that such materials should be readily accessible from anywhere, it is more than likely that this percentage will only increase over time and that the publishing community will need to adapt to the reality of some form of open access, regardless of the outcome of the government mandate debate.

There is more to open access, however, than just the free access assessed above. True open access permits any third party to aggregate and data mine the articles, themselves treated as computable objects, linkable and interoperable with associated databases. We are still just scratching the surface of what can be done with large and comprehensive full-text aggregations. A forward-looking example is provided by the PubMed Central database, operated in conjunction with GenBank and other biological databases at the United States National Library of Medicine....

The enormously powerful sorts of data mining and number crunching that are already taken for granted as applied to the open-access genomics databases can be applied to the full text of the entirety of the biology and life sciences literature and will have just as great a transformative effect on the research done with it....

More on Perelman and arXiv

Chris Philipp, Reclusive mathematician rejected honors for solving 100-year-old math problem, but he relied on Cornell's arXiv to publish, Cornell Chronicle Online. Excerpt:

The solution to one of the most famous problems in mathematics was posted on Cornell's arXiv over an eight-month period, beginning in November 2002. Today, arXiv remains its only home.

Most scientists and researchers who post research on arXiv -- an open-access repository for e-print postings operated by Cornell University Library -- also submit it for publication in traditional peer-reviewed journals. But famously reclusive Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman's decision to post his proof of the 100-year-old Poincaré Conjecture solely in arXiv was decidedly unorthodox.

Yet Perelman's action underscores the repository's increasing importance in the fields of physics, math and computer science...

"What is unusual about this, and certainly for anything this significant, is that Perelman apparently has no intent of publishing in the classical way, but has chosen the arXiv as the sole method of communication," said R. Keith Dennis, a math professor and adviser to the Mathematics Library....

With arXiv, Cornell Library provides fast, free and open access to scientific literature, serving the fields of physics, mathematics, nonlinear science, computer sciences and quantitative biology...

All four recipients of the Fields Medal, which is awarded every four years, are regular arXiv contributors, including Terrence Tao, who is also one of its moderators. There are over 20 million full-text downloads from the server per year, and it currently hosts more than 380,000 articles, with a submission rate of 4,000 per month.

"Everybody reads it," said Paul Ginsparg, Cornell professor of physics and of computing and information science who developed the repository while working at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1991. "[Perelman] put it there precisely to reach a wide audience." ...

arXiv has transformed how material is shared, making science more democratic and allowing for the rapid dissemination of scientific findings....

PS:  For background, see my 8/22/06 post on Perelman and arXiv.

TA journals charging both authors and readers

Martin Rundkvist, Greed and Buffoonery in Academic Publishing, Salto Sobrius, September 29, 2006. Excerpt:

I agreed to a really crappy business deal today....

For a long time, academic journals from commercial publishers have grown in number and become more and more expensive. Individual scholars can no longer afford subscribing to them at all, and most research libraries have to prioritise strictly when choosing which ones to take. There is a successful resistance movement against these tendencies, Open Access publishing on the net. But culture changes slowly, and commercial journals are still indispensable reading in many fields of inquiry.

Last spring, Cornelius Holtorf at the European Journal of Archaeology kindly offered me a review copy of Martin Carver's massive publication on the excavations at Sutton Hoo in the 80s and 90s. I accepted gladly, I got the book [and wrote a review]....

You never get paid for writing in academic journals. Scholars and journals have a symbiotic relationship where one could not survive without the other. We feed the journals material, and they feed our CVs. A review copy of an expensive book is all the tangible remuneration you can hope for as a contributor. But in this case I had to pay to get my review published.

"Author pays" is a common funding model for Open Access journals....But the European Journal of Archaeology isn't OA. It's a commercial product put out by Sage Publications....

UNESCO perspective on knowledge sharing

Koïchiro Matsuura, Knowledge Sharing: Forever a Future Prospect? Zaman Online, September 30, 2006.  Matsuura is the Director-General of UNESCO.  Excerpt:

Is knowledge sharing a utopia, the international community’s new buzz word?  We do not think so....

An economy based on the sharing and spread of knowledge is an opportunity for the emerging countries and for the wellbeing of their populations....

Shared knowledge is...a powerful lever in the fight against poverty. It is also today the key to wealth production....

Since [knowledge] is a public good that ought to be accessible to all, none should find themselves excluded in a knowledge society....

In network societies, creativity and the possibilities of exchange or sharing are greatly increased. These societies create an environment particularly favourable to knowledge, innovation, training and research. The new forms of network sociability that are developing on the Internet are horizontal and not hierarchical, encouraging cooperation, as well illustrated by the models of the research “collaboratory” or "open source" computer software....

[T]hese new practices hold out the hope that we shall be able to arrive at a fair balance between the protection of intellectual property rights, necessary for innovation, and the promotion of knowledge belonging to the public domain.

The sharing of knowledge cannot however be confined to the creation of new knowledge, the promotion of knowledge belonging to the public domain or the narrowing of the cognitive divide. It implies not only universal access to knowledge, but also the active participation of everyone. It will therefore be the key to the democracies of the future, which should be based on a new type of public space....

The obstacles that stand in the way of knowledge sharing are admittedly numerous. Like the solutions we are putting forward, they are at the heart of the UNESCO World Report, Towards Knowledge Societies, directed by Jérôme Bindé and published a few months ago....Knowledge sharing will not forever be a future prospect: for it is not the problem but the solution. The sharing of knowledge does not divide knowledge: it causes it to grow and multiply.

Against the term "author pays"

Michel Bauwens of the P2P Foundation asked me what what I thought of the term "author pays" --as applied to OA journals-- and posted my reply to his blog. Excerpt:

One of my constant harangues is that the term “author pays” is false and misleading. Here’s an excerpt from my Open Access Overview:

A common misunderstanding is that all OA journals use an “author pays” business model. There are two mistakes here. The first is to assume that there is only one business model for OA journals, when there are many. The second is to assume that charging an upfront processing fee is an “author pays” model. In fact, fewer than half of today’s OA journals (47%) charge author-side fees. When OA journals do charge fees, the fees are usually paid by author-sponsors (employers or funders) or waived, not paid by authors out of pocket. This misunderstanding is harmful because it makes authors wonder whether they can afford to pay the fees....In fact there are many reasons why OA journals do not exclude the poor.

When OA journals do charge these fees, I call them “author-side” fees rather than “author fees”, since they must be paid by someone on the author’s side of the transaction, like a funder or employer, as opposed to someone at the reader’s side of the transaction, like a library.

But the main points are these: the majority of OA journals don’t charge any author-side fees, and for the minority that do, the fees are usually paid by sponsors or waived. Hence, authors rarely pay out of pocket. Long-term, as OA prevails, we can pay for OA journals with the savings from the cancellation, conversion, or demise of subscription-based (non-OA) journals. Then we can move from today’s situation, in which authors rarely pay out of pocket, to a situation in which they never do.

A related point is that a study last year [by the ALPSP] showed that more non-OA journals than OA journals charge author-side fees. So if there is an effect to exclude the poor, non-OA journals are guilty more often than OA journals. I say more about this in an article in the June 2006 issue of my newsletter.

CMAJ endorses OA for publicly-funded research

Richard Squires, Editorial policy: The right to medical information, Canadian Medical Association Journal, September 12, 2006.  (Thanks to SPARC E-News.)  Excerpt:

In a recent editorial co-published by PLoS Medicine and the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Barbour and colleagues, employees of the Public Library of Science (PLoS), make the valid point that "print is no longer the most efficient way to disseminate information." They also argue convincingly that publicly funded researchers have a moral obligation to make the results of their research freely available to everyone....

CMAJ has embraced the policy of open access to its contents on the Internet for nearly a decade and, although it still publishes a print version, its online version is considered the official journal of record. An open-access policy for online content has clear advantages: it makes information available to all who want it regardless of their ability to pay; if necessary, publication can be immediate rather than be delayed in the line-up for print publication; there are no limitations on length; and information is easily accessible. Nevertheless, it also challenges the traditional financial model of the funding of journals through advertising and subscription....

Surprisingly few of the major (if impact factor is a measure of importance) international peer-reviewed medical journals have followed CMAJ's example. BMJ provides open access to its original research, but JAMA, the New England Journal of Medicine and the Annals of Internal Medicine have bowed to indirect pressure and now provide open access only 6 months after print publication. The Lancet as yet provides no open access. Although most commercial publishers largely follow this traditional funding model, a few commercial publishers are tip-toeing into the open-access, publication-fee model.

Will print journals eventually disappear? Probably not, since we all like the leisure of leafing through our favourite medical journals. But it is clear that busy physicians looking for reliable information on a specific topic will more and more rely on the Internet. Journal publishers and editors will have to explore financial models to secure the viability of Internet and print journal formats, but we adamantly maintain that medical information arising from publicly funded research and from studies involving volunteer subjects in pharmaceutically supported clinical trials must be freely available. The whole purpose of medical research is to provide reliable and valuable health information to the profession and the public. To put that information up for ransom is not acceptable.

Interview with Leslie Pack Kaelbling

CreateChange has just published an interview with Leslie Pack Kaelbling, founder of the Journal of Machine Learning Research (JMLR) and leader of the declaration of independence at Machine Learning(Thanks to SPARC E-News.)  Excerpt:

How have the Internet and digital technologies changed the way academics research and communicate in computer science?

...The thing that is dramatically different is how we figure out what other work is going on. CiteSeer is an online system that indexes computer science literature and finds the citations for online papers. You just type in a name and click. It’s amazing. That’s changed everybody’s life.

What barriers have you faced as you try to effectively communicate in light of this transformation?

When it was first possible to post papers on a Web site, journal publishers started to be worried and shake their fists. In the 1990s, some universities adopted policies to prohibit posting copyrighted papers on the Web, but authors typically ignored them. Scholars want people to read their stuff. We just want people to know about our work.

How did the Journal of Machine Learning Research get started and how has it benefited scholarship?

I was on the editorial board of a journal called Machine Learning, the main journal in the field. The price kept going up and we’d say, “This is ridiculous” – especially because libraries couldn’t afford it. Plus, the journal had an official policy about not putting stuff on the Web. We explained it was counter productive, to no avail. Finally, I got tired and said, “Forget it, let’s publish our own journal.” Two-thirds of the Machine Learning board resigned and started the new journal in 2000....

How has it been received?

By 2004 we had the second highest impact factored journal in all of computer science....

What is the benefit of more open sharing of research?

You know that quotation from Newton: “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Knowing what other people have done lets you build on it and not reinvent the wheel. It used to be that six people were working on the same thing at once and didn’t know it. That can still happen, but now as soon as one person writes it up in the literature you can know about it. It’s going to decrease duplication of effort, and free more people to work on things that are truly new and exciting. That’s the biggest impact.

OA databases in chemistry

M. Baker, Open-access chemistry databases evolving slowly but not surely, Nature Reviews: Drug Discovery, September 2006. Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Ukraine moves closer to an OA mandate

Iryna Kuchma sends OA news from the Ukraine. Excerpt:

[A group of public and private organizations] created a working group on developing Open Access projects in Ukraine and implementing resolution of Ukrainian Parliament on Open Access.

The working group was created during a seminar Open Access: Information, Scientific Communication and Culture that took place on September 28 2006 at International Renaissance Foundation....

The seminar Open Access: Information, Scientific Communication and Culture was based on the presentation by Urs Schoepflin, Library Director, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, on International Open Access Initiatives, Open Access to Culture and Science, Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, and Open Access projects of Max Planck Society in Germany. Iryna Kuchma, International Renaissance Foundation, complemented with a presentation of latest Ukrainian and international Open Access developments, policies and practices.

At the end of 2005 Ukrainian Parliament (Verhovna Rada) passed resolution On Recommendations of Parliamentary hearing on Developing information society in Ukraine...where open access was called one of the priorities in developing information society in Ukraine....[I]t is recommended for the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to create favourable conditions for developing open access repositories in archives, libraries, museums and other cultural institutions....[I]t is recommended for the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to stir to activities on creating accessible national electronic information resources especially with scientific-technical and economical information; to develop model regulation on repository of electronic documents; and for the Ministry of education and science of Ukraine to speed up development of state program on ICT in education and science including the close on development of open access resources in science, technology and education with open access condition to state funded researches....

The organizations launching the new open access working group include the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Education, the State Fund for Fundamental Researches, the Scientific and Publishing Council of National Academy of Science of Ukraine, the Ministry of Science and Education of Ukraine, the National Library of Ukraine after V.Vernadsky, the State Department of Intellectual Property, the Kyiv public administration, the Association "Informatio-Consortium", the Institute of social development, and the International Renaissance Foundation (Soros Foundation–Ukraine).

Comment. The Parliamentary resolution of December 2005 recommends an OA mandate for publicly-funded research.  It's very good news that the working group now pushing for its implementation represents so many public agencies. 

Double-digit growth predicted for STM publishers

Outsell has issued a press release on its new market report on the STM industry. Excerpt:
Outsell, announced publication of its second annual MarketView report, Scientific, Technical & Medical Information: 2006 Market Size, Share, Forecast and Trend Report. In it, Outsell forecasts a compound annual growth rate for the segment of 7.2 percent through 2009, to reach $25.5 billion in revenue....

Key findings:

  • The top 25 companies, particularly in the geophysical and energy segment, will be the engine behind STM growth in the next year. Double-digit growth is common where geophysical information and rich data are involved....
  • The top 10 STM companies include Elsevier, Thomson Scientific and Healthcare, Wolters Kluwer Health, Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck Gmbh, Springer Science + Business Media, American Heart Association, Inc., WesternGeco, IHS, Inc., American Chemical Society (ACS), and John Wiley & Sons, Inc....

Companies that would like to purchase this report should go [here] or contact Outsell directly at 650-342-6060....

OA archive of music and film

European Archive Foundation launches free digital library, Associated Press, September 28, 2006. Excerpt:

The European Archive Foundation said Thursday it has launched its massive digital library of free music and film.

The nonprofit organization collaborates with national libraries and other organizations to make non-copyrighted, or free-use material available to the public....

On line now is an extensive database of live musical performances, classical music, early British film and a snapshot of the entire Italian Internet domain.

European Archive spokesman Julien Masanes said the European Archive has stored about 10 percent of the Internet Archive's material, and the two institutions will eventually act as backups for each other's records in case of disaster....

The European Archive will block information requests from Internet users whose IP addresses are registered in the United States, due to differing copyright laws, he said....

More on PLoS NTD

Peter Moszynski, PLoS launches journal for neglected tropical diseases, BMJ, September 23, 2006.  Only the first 150 words are free online and they contain nothing not already blogged here.

FRPAA, OA momentum, publisher fears

Nikhil Swaminathan, Free, For All: How will the open access movement affect global science?  Seed Magazine, September 29, 2006. Excerpt:

When Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 this spring, many scientists had a warm fuzzy feeling: The bill would require any published paper drawing on research funded by a major US government agency to be put online within six months, enabling anyone with Internet access to obtain the latest scientific research.

But science publishers are not feeling the love. The bill is part of a global open access movement that is forcing the scientific community to re-address how it publishes research. In 2005, Research Councils UK recommended that all public funded studies be made available; this year, the European Commission advised EU countries to adopt an open-access policy. But, despite its noble aspirations, Cornyn-Lieberman could throw a monkey wrench into the works of scientific publishing. "Government agencies are going to become publishers competing against the [original] publishers," said Martin Frank, executive director of the American Physiological Society (APS), which publishes 14 journals....

Cornyn-Lieberman joined an open access movement that has exploded in recent years, thanks largely to the NIH: In the late 90s, then-director Harold Varmus laid the groundwork for PubMed Central, an online archive of biology-related research. In 2000, the Nobel Prize-winner co-founded the Public Library of Science (PLoS), a non-profit that publishes the increasingly well-regarded open access journals PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine. That same year, APS decided to offer free access to articles older than a year "because we thought it was the right thing to do," said Martin Frank. And titles like Nature, Science, PNAS, JAMA and The New England Journal of Medicine are granting free access to older articles and/or allowing authors, after a lag time, to link to articles from their personal web pages. In 2005, the NIH instituted its public access policy, which asks NIH-funded investigators to submit peer-reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Central within 12 months of journal publication....

[T]he UK's Wellcome Trust last year began requiring its investigators to provide peer-reviewed articles within six months of publication, and an effort urging the Australian Research Council to adopt a similar system is also underway.

PNAS now allows authors to make articles available online for a fee of $1,000. About 19% of PNAS authors have elected to do so, and according to a recent study, these papers are over twice as likely to be articles in subscriber-model journals. A 2005 international survey of researchers found that 29% had published in open access journals, up 18% from 2004. "Authors appear to be being influenced by the accumulating evidence that open access leads to greater usage and citation of their articles," said Mark Patterson, director of publishing for PLoS. In fact, in 2004's "Journal Citation Report," Thomson Scientific found the young PLoS Biology had a higher impact factor than the respected Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, the pricey Brain Research [$23,617 a year] and the venerable PNAS....

Comment. A good overview except that it doesn't challenge Martin Frank's groundless claim that FRPAA will make the US government into a publisher.  FRPAA only applies to articles already published by independent peer-reviewed journals.  The OA copies of the articles that the government will host will differ from the published originals, and be inferior to the originals, unless the publishers themselves consent to let the government host the published editions.  And of course the government copies will not be OA until six months after the originals were published.  Publishers who worry that OA archiving will undermine subscriptions rarely mention that a study commissioned by their own ALPSP (March 2006) found that high journal prices far surpassed OA archiving as a cause of journal cancellations.

OA at Caltech's CODA

Growth of the CODA Repositories, Caltech Library Services News and Updates, September 15, 2006.  (Thanks to STLQ.)  Excerpt:

The Caltech Collection of Online Digital Archives (CODA) has been receiving a lot of publicity in the Open Access Authoring @ Caltech blog site....

When asked to give a brief description of CODA, George Porter, a Technical Reference Librarian in the Sherman Fairchild Library for the last 9 years, first responded that CODA is a number of things. It is primarily a digital collection of all Caltech authored technical reports, books, conference papers, and oral histories from the Caltech archives, as well as a repository for Caltech dissertations and electronic theses (ETD’s). The repository was launched in 2000, and as of 9/5/06 we have 2,884 dissertations on file. It has been mandatory, since 2003, for all graduate students to submit their theses electronically....[PS:  Reluctantly cutting a photo of George Porter here.]

George further notes a major benefit of having [open] access to Caltech authored research information is the visibility and easy access by multiple users to this data. Prior to this 24-hour-a-day on-line availability, only one hard copy of a paper was available, and it was kept filed away in the Archives. Library staff is currently involved in scanning all pre-2003 theses into CODA. Papers typed over 50 years ago can be digitally enhanced to be clearer than the originals. Geological maps can be saved in high-quality color, with the ability to zoom in and out....

Papers from as far back as 1914 have been scanned and stored in CaltechAUTHORS....

The Caltech community is truly benefited by having such a rich body of work accessible on-line. CODA not only allows students, faculty, and staff to view research material, but, almost by default, we are also able to read about our shared cultural history.

PS:  Congratulations to George, who was the most regular of my co-contributors here at OAN before I converted it to a solo blog in May 2006. 

Open Education presentations

The presentations from Open Education 2006 (Logan, Utah, September 27-29, 2006) are now online.  Unfortunately they're bundled into a single, huge (3.4 MB) PDF.

Explaining immediate deposit / optional access

Steve Hitchcock, ID/OA not DOA, Eprints Insiders, September 29, 2006. Excerpt:

A new term - ID/OA, where OA does not stand for open access but provides a path towards it - has begun to appear more frequently in list mails and comments to blogs. This might be an opportune moment to restate what it stands for and why it is necessary.

Immediate Deposit/Optional Access is a response to the emerging funder mandates on open access. These mandates typically respect publishers' embargoes of six months or so before authors are required to provide open access to their own versions of published papers in an IR. Unfortunate, but true, and apparently a balance that funders believed they had to strike with publishers.

According to the chief protagonist for ID/OA, Stevan Harnad: " Most journals now endorse immediate OA self-archiving by their authors. But for the minority of journals that do not, the deposit should be mandated to be immediate anyway, and any allowable delay or embargo should apply only to the access-setting (i.e., whether access to the deposited article is immediately set to Open Access or provisionally set to Closed Access, in which only the author can access the deposited text)." ...

ID/OA authorises immediate deposit in the IR of bibliographic data and the full-text of the author version of a paper upon acceptance for publication. If an embargo applies before open access is allowed the depositor can set the embargo to expire automatically, after which the full paper becomes accessible to all from the IR.

In the meantime, a viewable record of the paper exists in the repository and displays the "Request eprint" button, which allows readers to request the full text directly from the author (allowed under the embargo even if open access is not).

In this way you have a hook to get authors to provide the data at the point in the cycle when it is most important to them, and you get immediate access if not open access. According to Harnad: "The case for immediate access is exactly the same as the case for Open Access itself."
For a more complete description of how ID/OA fits into the general scheme of open access, see Stevan Harnad's original blog.

Comment. This is what I've called the dual deposit/release strategy and I support it under any name.

Four benefits of OA

Alma Swan, Open Access: What is it and why should we have it?  A technical report from Key Perspectives, self-archived September 29, 2006.
Abstract:   Open Access (OA) means (1) greater visibility and accessibility, hence impact, from scholarly endeavour, (2) more rapid and more efficient progress, (3) better assessment, better monitoring and better management of science and (4) novel information can be created using new computational technologies. The JISC-commissioned Roadmap for UK OA repositories envisages a (I) Data Layer, consisting of the repositories themselves, underpinned by a layer of services at the Ingest Level where data are collected (technical or policy advice for repository managers, hosting services for repositories, or digitisation services for legacy literature). Above the data layer is the (II) Aggregator Layer, where content is harvested and metadata are enhanced, enriched and presented to be exploited by services operating in the top layer: (III) the Output Level. Top-layer services may include preservation services or publishing services such as peer review and adding value in the form of copyediting, formatting for print and online presentation and marking-up (e.g. into XML) to enable optimal exploitation by semantic computer technologies. Other services may harvest content and publish overlay journals, create specialised collections for particular scholarly communities in individual disciplines for teaching and learning or to be added to other types of material to provide high added-value services with revenue-earning potential.

Advantages of OA for small publishers

Paul Peters, The Economics of Open Access Publishing, a preprint to be presented at Online Information 2006 (London, November 28-30, 2006).  Peters is the Senior Publishing Developer at Hindawi Publishing. Excerpt:

While advocates of open access publishing have tended to focus on the benefits that it can offer authors and readers, there are equally important benefits that an open access publishing model can provide for small and mid-sized publishers. Within the existing subscription-based publishing industry there are a number of market forces that work against smaller publishers, and this is making it increasingly difficult for these smaller publishers to stay competitive. However, by adopting a business model based on publication charges, smaller publishers can overcome many of the difficulties that they currently face in the subscription market.

There are three main advantages that open access can provide for smaller publishers. One important advantage is that it makes the growth of both new and existing journals much easier. In addition, a shift to open access will promote more competition between publishers, which will enable many smaller publishers to gain a competitive edge over the largest and most well-established publishing houses. Finally, an open access publishing model will make a journal far more attractive to potential authors, since they can avoid many of the unnecessary limitations imposed by subscription-based models....

Elsevier and Wellcome come to an agreement

Elsevier has adopted a policy for authors whose research is funded by the Wellcome Trust.  The key piece of background, of course, is that Wellcome mandates OA for Wellcome-funded research.  Excerpt from Elsevier's new policy:

...Elsevier has made an agreement with the Wellcome Trust that will allow authors who publish in Elsevier journals to comply with [Wellcome's] requirements. This new agreement is intended to support the needs of Elsevier authors, editors, and society publishing partners, and protect the quality and integrity of the peer review process.

Wellcome Trust funded authors publishing in Elsevier journals can comply with the Wellcome Trust policy by paying a subsidy fee to the journal to help offset the cost of peer review and other publishing costs. Wellcome Trust will reimburse authors who have paid the subsidy fee. The fee has initially been set at $3,000 per article for all Elsevier journals except those published by Cell Press, which have a $5,000 per article subsidy fee, and The Lancet, which will have a fee of £400 per page. The difference in fees for The Lancet and Cell Press reflects higher associated costs.

Upon final publication, Elsevier will send to PMC the Wellcome Trust Subsidised Manuscript (a version of the accepted manuscript that reflects all author-agreed changes that arise from the peer-review, copy-editing and proofing processes) and will authorize its public posting on PMC, and PMC mirror sites, immediately. The Wellcome Trust Subsidised Manuscript on PMC and PMC mirror sites will also link directly to the final published journal article, which will continue to reside only on Elsevier’s websites and which Elsevier will make freely available to both non-subscribers and subscribers.

There is no change to Elsevier’s author posting policy that allows authors to post revised personal versions of manuscripts (those that reflect changes made in the peer review) on their own web sites and the sites of their institutions, provided a link to the journal is included. Posting directly to PMC or other sites outside an author’s institution continue to be prohibited, as does any further republishing or redistribution of Elsevier copyright-protected content and Society copyright-protected content published by Elsevier. This new agreement enables Wellcome Trust-funded authors to comply with the Wellcome Trust Policy without having to violate their publishing agreements with Elsevier....

Comment.  I've criticized publishers who charge authors for the right to comply with their own funding contracts.  ("Authors shouldn't have to pay their publisher in order to live up to a contract with their funder.")  But the circumstances change when the funder is willing to pay the fee charged by the publisher. 

As long as funders like Wellcome are willing to do this, and as long as the publisher fees are reasonably tied to the actual costs of an efficient operation, then this can be a win-win-win.  Authors and funders get OA to their research; publishers get their expenses covered for providing it; and authors pay nothing out of pocket.  There's a fourth party in the wings --subscribers-- who will win too if the publisher reduces subscription prices in proportion to author uptake of its OA option.

There are still ways in which the deal can be improved.  Elsevier could make the OA edition the same as the published edition.  It could let participating authors retain copyright and use CC licenses (or equivalents) on the OA editions.  It could let participating authors deposit their articles in any OA repository, not just their own IR.  (For more background, see my June article on Elsevier's hybrid journal program, where I pointed out that the Elsevier terms conflicted with the Wellcome Trust's requirements.)

If we conceive the funder-grantee contract to be independent of the author-publisher contract, then it looks like publisher fees are meddling in contracts to which publishers are not a party.  But the Wellcome-Elsevier agreement suggests that these previously separate contracts are merging and that we will have to recognize a new kind of tripartite contract among authors, funders, and publishers.  If so, publishers who enter these agreements can't complain when public policies to regulate access to publicly-funded research have the side-effect of regulating publishers, something they have been very touchy about in the past.

A powerful case for the economic benefits of OA

Australia's Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) has published an important report by John Houghton, Colin Steele & Peter Sheehan:  Research Communication Costs In Australia: Emerging Opportunities And Benefits, September 2006 (also available in RTF). Excerpt:

[D]espite billions of dollars being spent by governments on R&D each year, relatively little policy attention has yet been paid to the dissemination of the results of that research through scientific and scholarly publishing.

A key question facing us today is, are there new opportunities and new models for scholarly communication that could enhance the dissemination of research findings and, thereby, maximise the economic and social returns to public investment in R&D? ...

The study draws on international and local experience to provide a preliminary cost-benefit analysis of existing and emerging alternatives for scholarly communication for institutions in Australia, and for Australia as a whole....

Perhaps the most important potential benefit of open access is enhanced access to, and greater use of, research findings, which would, in turn, increase the efficiency of R&D as it builds upon previous research. There is also significant potential to expand the use and application of research findings to a much wider range of users, well beyond the core research institutions that have had access to the subscription-based literature.

Estimating the benefits of a one-off increase in accessibility and efficiency we find that:

  • With public sector R&D expenditure at AUD 5,912 million in 2002-03 and a 25% rate of social return to R&D, a 5% increase in accessibility and efficiency would be worth AUD 150 million a year;
  • With higher education R&D expenditure at AUD 3,430 million and a 25% rate of social return to R&D, a 5% increase in accessibility and efficiency would be worth AUD 88 million a year; and
  • With ARC administered competitive grants funding at AUD 480 million and a 25% rate of social return to R&D, a 5% increase in accessibility and efficiency would be worth AUD 12 million a year.

Note that these are recurring annual gains from the effect on one year’s R&D. Assuming that the change is permanent they can be converted to growth rate effects....

Expressing these impacts as a benefit/cost ratio we find that, over 20 years, a full system of institutional repositories in Australia costing AUD 10 million a year and achieving a 100% self-archiving compliance would show:

  • A benefit/cost ratio of 51 for the modelled impacts of open access to public sector research (i.e. the benefits are 51 times greater than the costs);
  • A benefit/cost ratio of 30 for the modelled impacts of open access to higher education research; and
  • A benefit/cost ratio of 4.1 for the modelled impacts of open access to ARC competitive grants funded research....

There are new opportunities and new models for scholarly communication that can enhance the communication and dissemination of research findings to all potential users and, thereby, increase the economic and social returns to public investment in R&D. Open access is, perhaps, the most important.

Seizing these opportunities and realising the benefits will depend upon appropriate reward systems and incentives to ensure:

  • Widespread adoption of open access strategies by universities, research funding bodies and government agencies;
  • ‘Hard or soft mandated’ deposit of research output at the national, funder and/or institutional levels;
  • Fully integrated institutional repositories or relevant subject-based archives based upon open access standards; and
  • Fully developed links between content ‘publishing’ and research management, reporting and evaluation.

Research evaluation is the primary point of leverage, influencing strongly the scholarly communication and dissemination choices of researchers and their institutions. A related secondary point of leverage is funding, and the conditions funding bodies put upon it....Inter alia, this means:

  • Ensuring that the Research Quality Framework supports and/or encourages the development of new, more open scholarly communication mechanisms, rather than encouraging a retreat by researchers to conventional publication forms and media, and a reliance by evaluators upon traditional publication metrics;
  • Encouraging funding agencies (e.g. ARC, NHMRC, etc.) to mandate that the results of their supported research be available in open access archives or repositories;
  • Encouraging universities and research institutions to support the development of new, more open scholarly communication mechanisms, through, for example, the development of hard or soft open access mandates for their supported research; and
  • Providing support for a structured advocacy program to raise awareness and inform all stakeholders about the potential benefits of more open scholarly communication alternatives, and provide leadership in such areas as copyright....

Comment.  This is a detailed, credible attack on a hard problem:  estimating the net economic benefits to a nation in promoting open access to its research output.  Every policy-maker should read it.  Friends of OA in every country should bring its analysis and conclusions to the attention of their legislators and public funding agencies.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Advancing OA in Australia

The Open Access to Knowledge Law Project at Queensland University of Technology has published a major report, Creating a legal framework for copyright management of open access within the Australian academic and research sector (dated August 2006 but released today).  From the executive summary:

This Report analyses the copyright law framework needed to ensure open access to outputs of the Australian academic and research sector such as datasets, articles and theses. It is written in the context of an increasing recognition, in Australia and internationally, that access to knowledge is a key driver of social, cultural and economic development and that publicly funded research should be openly accessible. With the objective of enabling access to knowledge, this Report proposes the development of clear protocols for copyright management (designed as practical and effective tools) for implementation in the Australian academic and research sector....

More specifically, this Report provides an overview of the principles of copyright law, the concept of open access to knowledge, the recently developed open content models of copyright licensing and proposes a framework for enhancing the management of copyright interests in research and academic output (including electronic theses and dissertations (ETD)). The Report describes a forward work program which, upon implementation, will provide the platform for the development of systems and practices designed to effectively promote open access to knowledge within the Australian academic and research sector.

The Report calls upon Australian research and funding institutions to consider their commitment to open access and articulate this in clear polices and copyright management frameworks....

The forward work plan will see the OAK Law Project:

  • Develop template guidelines for open access policies that can be considered for adoption within university and research institutions
  • Develop a detailed list (OAK List) of the attitudes of publishers relating to open access as evidenced in the terms of publishers’ agreements. The
    OAK List aims to be interoperable with the UK based SHERPA List
  • Survey researchers about their understanding of, attitudes towards and experience with publishing agreements
  • Develop or recommend model publishing agreements and addenda that facilitate open access
  • Develop or recommend model agreements that can assist the copyright management of open access repositories
  • Survey the existing policies of funding institutions towards open access and develop model policies based on international developments
  • Provide more support to ETD Repositories through developing guides for students about self managing copyright issues and assisting the repositories in terms of copyright management protocols and licences

AGORA enters Phase Two

The power of information - closing the knowledge gap.  A press release from the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), September 27, 2006.  (Thanks to P. Kapoor-Vijay.)  Excerpt:

Over 100 of the world’s poorest countries will now be able to access leading food and agriculture journals for little or no cost with the launch of the second phase of the Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA) initiative, FAO announced today.

AGORA is a successful public-private partnership between FAO, 37 of the world’s leading science publishers and other key partners including the World Health Organization and Cornell University. Introduced in 2003 and providing access to 69 low-income countries, AGORA today expands to include universities, colleges, research institutes and government ministries as well as non-governmental organizations in an additional 37 lower-middle-income countries....

“We have seen from the first phase of this initiative that there is increasing demand for access to vital information by poorer countries. In less than three years, AGORA has already helped bridge the knowledge gap by providing 850 institutions access to over 900 journals in the areas of agriculture and related subjects,” notes Anton Mangstl, Director of FAO’s Library and Documentation Systems Division.

Under the second phase of AGORA launched today, 37 countries with a per capita GNP of between US$ 1000 and US$ 3000 will be eligible. Institutions wishing to register will have a three-month free trial period before they are asked to pay an annual subscription of US$ 1000. FAO will invest all subscription income into local training initiatives to help increase awareness and usage of AGORA amongst librarians and scientists.

More on T&F's iOpen Access program

Mark Chillingworth, T&F latest to offer Open Access, IWRblog, September 28, 2006. Excerpt:

iOpenAccess is across 175 Taylor & Francis journals in its chemistry, mathematics and physics portfolios, as well as a behavioural science journal from the Psychological Press.  Medical and bioscience journals from the Informa Healthcare brand are also included in the scheme.

"We are introducing iOpenAccess only after the widest possible consultation with the editor, author and funding communities," said Dr David Green, journals publishing director at Taylor & Francis. "We are doing so in a manner which will ensure the continuing viability and quality of major international journals with whose publishing stewardship we are entrusted."

Releasing details of how iOpenAccess will work, Taylor & Francis said authors will be asked to grant a publishing licence or assign copyright. The article will then be released onto the internet for free using the Creative Commons Licence scheme favoured by the likes of the BBC. Taylor & Francis also guarantees authors no embargo restrictions on posting their work to an institutional repository and that it will review the subscription rates for the titles under the scheme.

Taylor & Francis adopts a hybrid OA program

Taylor & Francis is the latest publisher to adopt a hybrid OA journal program.  From today's announcement:

Taylor & Francis are today delighted to announce the introduction of an “iOpenAccess” option for authors publishing in 175 journals from T&F’s Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics portfolios, one behavioural science journal from Psychology Press, and medical and bioscience journals from Informa Healthcare.

From October 2006, all authors whose manuscripts are accepted for publication in one of the iOpenAccess journals will have the option to make their articles freely available to all via the Journal’s website for a one-off fee of $3100.

Commenting on the launch of the initiative, Journals Publishing Director, Dr David Green, stated: "...We are introducing iOpenAccess only after the widest possible consultation with the editor, author and funder communities. We are doing so in a manner which will continue to guarantee the integrity of peer review and the rights of authors, and which will ensure the continuing viability and quality of major international journals with whose publishing stewardship we are entrusted."

Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, commented: "I am very pleased that Taylor and Francis are now offering an open access choice to publish in their journals. We all want to maximise the impact of biomedical research. Ensuring the widest distribution of the results of biomedical research is a key part of achieving that aim."

  • Authors will be asked to grant a publishing licence or assign copyright in the normal way. Selection of the iOpenAccess option and payment of the appropriate fee will then allow the article to be made available to all under a Creative Commons Licence (Attribution-Non-commercial-No Derivatives version 2.5 ). Under this licence we will allow tagging and cross-referencing of articles within repositories so that they relate back to the original research grants and programmes.
  • Authors selecting the iOpenAccess option will have no embargo restriction on posting their version of the published article to any institutional or subject repository. Where appropriate, we will facilitate deposit on behalf of authors into PubMedCentral.
  • We undertake to review the subscription prices of each journal with respect to the uptake of the iOpenAccess initiative, and the relevant information will be published on each journal’s home page at

Comment. The T&F program is better than some and worse than others. It gives positive answers to three of my nine questions for hybrid OA journal programs.  It uses CC licenses on participating articles.  It allows deposit in OA repositories independent of T&F.  It adds no new embargo for self-archiving.  What are the weaknesses of this program?  It doesn't let authors retain copyright; it doesn't waive the fees in case of economic hardship; it promises to "review" (but not to reduce) subscription prices in light of the rate of author uptake.  It will apparently charge its iOA fee even for authors who wish to self-archive (a retreat from its previous no-fee green policy); and it will apparently even charge authors for the right to comply with a previous contract with their funding agency to deposit their postprint in an OA repository.  Finally, the fee is one of the highest in the industry.

Update. Taylor & Francis has posted new details on its the iOpenAccess program. In short, (1) it does let authors retain copyright when T&F owns the journal and the author gives T&F a license to publish; (2) it is willing, in the right cases, to waive the iOA fee for authors who cannot afford it; (3) it is willing to reduce subscription prices in light of author uptake; (4) it has not retreated from its policy to allow no-fee self-archiving after an embargo, but it now also allows no-embargo self-archiving for a fee. Authors who need to comply with a funder's OA mandate may choose either form of self-archiving. On point #3, the new online clarification merely repeats the original position; but in its email correspondence with me T&F made clear that will review uptake data in order to consider reducing subscription prices.

More on PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Nathan Grossman, Professor starts tropical disease journal to raise awareness, The GW Hatchet (independent student paper at George Washington University), September 28, 2006 (free registration required). Excerpt:

Peter Hotez, chair of the Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Diseases department [at GWU], began a new scientific journal called Public Library of Science: Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Neglected tropical diseases are relatively unknown infectious diseases that are most predominate in rural areas, usually within developing countries. NTDs include leprosy, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis and the human hookworm, the object of the Hotez's latest research. Hotez hopes that the journal will improve collaboration and cooperation among researchers and experts studying NTDs.  But the aim of the new journal goes beyond medical research. Hotez said he hopes it will allow scientists to advocate for greater awareness and treatment of NTDs. He believes NTDs have been ignored not only by pharmaceutical companies, but also local, national and international communities....

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently gave $1.1 million to the PLoS journal, and Hotez spoke about NTD's with former President Jimmy Carter at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York last week....

The PLoS journal will feature an innovative "open access" feature, by which any scientist, physician or public health official can contribute research to the journal's Web site.

PS:  I hope the paper can correct the last sentence.  OA means open or free for access, reading, copying, redistribution, and other uses, not open for anyone's contribution.  A peer-reviewed OA journal isn't a wiki and only publishes the research articles that meet its editorial standard.

The OA Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: its features and funding model

Ed Zalta, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: A university/library partnership in support of scholarly communication and open access, College & Research Library News, September 2006.  Excerpt:

SEP organizes the profession of philosophy to collaboratively maintain a dynamic open access reference work....All entries, and updates to entries, are rigorously refereed prior to publication on the Web. Our backend Web content management system keeps track of the state of every entry on a daily basis....Finally, we make a fixed copy of SEP every quarter, and these quarterly archives provide stable content for purposes of citation.

This is a publishing model that is rather different from a journal. Our production routines are asynchronous (each entry is produced on its own customized schedule), and thus our workflow control system is far more complex than that required by journals published on a regular schedule. We now publish an average of ten entries a month, and five updates a month, at a total project cost of $191,000 a year for AY2005–06 ($154,000 of this total is for salaries and benefits). SEP has mirror sites at three other universities, all of which are donating their resources. These sites synchronize to the Stanford server on a nightly basis....Finally, our copyright policy works for the author: authors retain copyright to reprint their articles in any fixed medium, but give  SEP an exclusive license to publish the entry on the Web....

From its inception in 1995, SEP has been open access....

After investigating various long-term funding models, a committee consisting of representatives of Stanford, International Coalition of Library Consortia, SPARC, and SOLINET came up with the idea of creating a partnership that builds a permanent operating fund for SEP....A 4.8 percent yearly payout on a $4.125 million fund would secure SEP’s operating budget for the long term. The partnership calls for 1) Stanford University to raise $1.125 million towards this fund (primarily from private donors), and 2) the large umbrella library organizations to raise $3 million (primarily from libraries worldwide at institutions offering degrees in philosophy). SOLINET will collect library contributions and turn them over to Stanford under a contract that protects library contributions in that: a) Stanford is allowed to use library money only for the support of  SEP, and b) if the SEP project ever terminates, Stanford will return the money the libraries have contributed with any interest and appreciation (in excess of the payout) earned while Stanford was entrusted with the funds....

SEP is a true university-library partnership and presents a new model for open access that dovetails precisely with the goals and objectives of the scholarly communication community. In particular SEP provides:
• the broadest possible access to published research;
• control by scholars, the academy, and the library community over publishing;
• fair and reasonable prices for receiving the benefits of membership in SEPIA;
• completely open access to scholarship;
• innovations in publishing that reduce distribution costs, speed delivery, and extend access to scholarly research;
• quality assurance in publishing through peer review;
• fair use of copyrighted information for education and research purposes; and
• preservation of scholarly information for long-term future use....

Once SEP is funded, there are no further fees, and open access is ensured in perpetuity....Perhaps, most importantly, participation in this partnership enables libraries to make a difference; your library would do its part in making an investment that furthers both scholarly communication and open access....

PS:  I've often blogged my support for the SEP and its elegant funding model.  If your library supports SEP users, and it almost certainly does, please urge it to make a one-time contribution to build SEP's permanent OA endowment.

An OA journal to serve a city and region

Last week, David Johnston, President of the University of Waterloo, set for his vision that the Waterloo Region become the "Knowledge Capital of Canada".  Today, William Oldfield proposed an OA journal for the region as a key step toward that goal.  Excerpt from Oldfield's case:

David Johnston's vision of Waterloo Region as the Knowledge Capital of Canada would make this a great place to live.  To assist in the effort, I propose the establishment of a community-based publishing enterprise for the distribution and sharing of the products of the community.

I envision two components: an open access journal and an on-demand publishing enterprise.  Open access journals are magazines published on the Web and distributed without charge. The open access journal is designed to facilitate the sharing of knowledge. I see a journal covering a variety of topics including short stories and even graphic arts to encourage the growth of our local artistic community....The product of a Knowledge Capital of Canada is knowledge. The sharing of that knowledge is an essential component for success.

Presentations on digital libraries and e-science

The presentations from the Digital Library Goes e-Science workshop at the ECDL meeting, Towards the European Digital Library (Alicante, Spain, September 17-22, 2006), are now online. Unfortunately, they're all bundled together in a single PDF. (Thanks to Richard Akerman.)

Crafting an OA mandate

Stevan Harnad, Optimizing OA Self-Archiving Mandates: What? Where? When? Why? How? Open Access Archivangelism, September 27, 2006.

Summary:  With the adoption of Open Access Self-Archiving Mandates worldwide so near, this is the opportune time to think of optimizing how they are formulated. Seemingly small parametric or verbal variants can make a vast difference to their success, speed, and completeness of coverage:
     What to mandate: The primary target content is the author's final, peer-reviewed draft ("postprint") of all journal articles accepted for publication.
     Why to mandate self-archiving: The purpose of mandating OA self-archiving is to maximize research usage and impact by maximizing user access to research findings.
     Where to self-archive: The optimal locus for self-archiving is the author's own OAI-compliant Institutional Repository (IR). (It is highly inadvisable to mandate direct deposit in a Central Repository (CR) -- whether discipline-based, funder-based, multidisciplinary or national. The right way to get OA content into CRs is to harvest it from the IRs (via the OAI protocol).)
     When to self-archive: The author's final, peer-reviewed draft (postprint) should be deposited in the author's IR immediately upon acceptance for publication. (The deposit must be immediate; any allowable delay or embargo should apply only to the access-setting, i.e., whether access to the deposited article is immediately set to Open Access or provisionally set to Closed Access, in which only the author can access the deposited text.)
     How to self-archive: Depositing a postprint in an author's IR and keying in its metadata (author, title, journal, date, etc.) takes less than 10 minutes per paper. Deposit analyses comparing mandated and unmandated self-archiving rates have shown that mandates (and only mandates) work, with self-archiving approaching 100% of annual institutional research output within a few years. Without a mandate, IR content just hovers for years at the spontaneous 15% self-archiving rate.

Comment.  Any funder or university considering an OA mandate would do well to follow this advice.  For my own recommendations, see my August 2006 article, Ten lessons from the funding agency open access policies.

Free online access to public geodata proposed in France

Michael Cross, France maps out the path to liberate its data, The Guardian, September 28, 2006. Excerpt:

[The French] Institut Géographique accused of hindering France's knowledge economy by the high prices it charges for digital data and the obscure way it calculates them. Government auditors also accuse the institute of conflicts of interest in setting national policy for a sector in which it is the dominant player....

Although the directly subsidised IGN is run on a different model to its British equivalent, Ordnance Survey, its problems spring from the conflict that arises when a public agency tries to market data commercially. Now an official inquiry in France has suggested a possible solution along the lines of that proposed by Guardian Technology's Free Our Data campaign. This is to make taxpayer-funded data sets freely available to all comers on the web....

Far from encouraging the use of geographical data, the report says, the institute has discouraged the RGE's take-up by setting high prices, despite a 70% government subsidy. The mechanism for setting charges is complex and secretive, relying on the "good sense" of administrators. Their incentive, is to get as much income as possible in the short term, which encourages squeezing more money from captive customers. Altogether, the inspectors find "a lack of rigour" in the institute's commercial policies.

"This situation is responsible for the low level of sales and the feeble development of the geographical information sector in France, compared with other European countries," they comment....

The inspectors recommend that the institution's commercial activities be separated from its "public good" functions, with separate and transparent accounts. They also say that public data should be priced to encourage wide take-up. "To take this reasoning to its logical conclusion, free online access on the internet could even be envisaged."

Guardian Technology wholeheartedly agrees. Citoyens! Libérons nos données!

Ohio State U Press provides OA to its OP books

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., The Ohio State University Press Open Access Initiative, DigitalKoans, September 27, 2006. Excerpt:

The Ohio State University Press is providing free access to over 30 out-of-print books that it has published as part of its open access initiative. Chapters and other book sections are provided as PDF files. The books remain under traditional copyright statements....[Cutting links to five examples.]

New URL for NERC's OA policy

The UK Natural Environment Research Council has moved the web page on its OA policy.  It was formerly at this URL,

but is now at this URL,

Note to NERC:  If you had to break the link today, three days before your OA mandate takes effect, could you at least create a redirect from the old page to the new one? 

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

House wants better results from NIH policy

The NIH Reauthorization Bill, just passed by the House of Representatives, includes language to monitor the effectiveness of the NIH public access policy.  From today's announcement by the Alliance for Taxpayer Access:

Legislation to provide for a sweeping overhaul of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - the first of its kind in 13 years - includes key report language underscoring Congressional oversight to actively monitor participation rates and overall effectiveness of the NIH's Public Access Policy.

The NIH Reauthorization Bill, authored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday, September 26.

"We're pleased that the House committee responsible for overseeing NIH included report language addressing the existing Public Access Policy, and indicated it will be paying close attention to the policy's ongoing performance," said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and spokesperson for the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA).

The importance of the public access policy was also brought into focus at last week's markup of the bill, when Congressman Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania echoed concerns about the meager participation rate - less than five percent - under the current voluntary policy.

"There's just no better way to put it - it's not right. The American taxpayer paid for this research - they'll pay nearly 30 billion dollars next year alone - and they are entitled to expect that publicly funded research is available to anyone who might use it to improve health conditions in the U.S. and around the world," Doyle said at the markup....

Committee Chairman Joe Barton responded during markup, telling Doyle he shares many of his concerns regarding the function of the public access policy and pledging to work with the Congressman to implement reform measures....

Earlier this year, the House Appropriations Committee approved language that would amend the existing NIH Public Access Policy so that deposit of articles would be mandatory for all NIH-funded researchers.

PS:  The appropriations language that would strengthen the NIH policy from a request to a requirement is still pending.  The reauthorization bill today is a separate action, showing that impatience is building in Congress for the NIH policy to meet its original goals.

What is free public access worth?

Neil Blair Christensen, Free article for sale: $11,000 — What is free public access worth?  Kidney International, October 2006.  An editorial.  Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

Update (December 11, 2006). There is now an OA edition of this editorial.

Small step toward OA at the J of Political Philosophy

From Lawrence Solum at Legal Theory Blog. Excerpt:

The Journal of Political Philosophy has taken a step towards open access, by making several key articles available without charge.  As readers of Legal Theory Blog know, I believe that open access is vitally important and that publication in any venue that does not provide open access is irresponsible scholarship.  I applaud this step, and urge the Journal of Political Philosophy to make all articles available through an open access system.

The journal links to seven "free sample articles" on its home page but doesn't link to an announcement or explanation.  So far, it looks more like a marketing ploy than a new access policy.

A GenBank for language disorders

John Pickrell, Pool knowledge to find the origins of language, New Scientist, September 26, 2006. Excerpt:

Linguists are calling for an online public database, similar to the human genome project, that would allow researchers to collaboratively share different studies of language impairment.

By gathering together studies of developmental disorders that cause communication impairments – such as autism or Down’s syndrome – they hope to provide new clues about the origins of language.

Such a database might also help treat language disorders or help people learn foreign tongues, they say....

Research has been piecemeal until now, so [Gary Marcus of New York University] and graduate student Hugh Rabagliati are calling for experts to create a database collecting key data on developmental disorders and how they affect, or do not affect, cognitive and linguistic abilities. They outline their proposal, which has similarities to the collaborative nature of the human genome project, in the journal Nature Neuroscience....

PS:  In the Nature Neuroscience article, Marcus and Rabagliati are explicit that the database they envision ought to be OA.

Is OA the only way forward?

Jonathan Cohen, Publish or perish --is open access the only way forward? International Journal of Infectious Diseases, September 2006. An editorial. Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

Another library perspective on society publishers

Walt Crawford, Societies and Open Access, Walt at Random, September 26, 2006. Excerpt:

T. Scott had a post about OA advocates seeming to be in “unyielding opposition” to professional societies that are also publishers. I wanted to say something about that post, and might yet do so in a future Cites & Insights.

In the meantime, however, Dorothea Salo has written a response that probably says it better than I could, even though some of the themes --particularly the point that professional societies are not inherently entitled to subsidize their activities out of library budgets-- are ones I’ve been making, over and over again.

Realistically, it’s going to be a long time (if ever) before OA affects those societies that publish journals at a fair price, where “fair” can certainly include a positive yield in excess of direct expenses....That might be wrong: Some such societies may find it in their interest to become OA publishers or at least strongly support OA archiving. But professional societies tend to publish fairly significant journals (at least in my narrow experience); if those journals are priced fairly, they’re not going to be high on cancellation lists.

There’s a big if there: Fair pricing. Some society-based journals are priced too high, either because they’ve been turned over to the big commercial houses or because the societies are using them as cash cows for other society purposes. The latter is simply not workable for the long term, particularly in those cases where the bulk of non-member subscriptions come from libraries. As I’ve said before: If a society can make the case that academia should subsidize its activities in addition to membership dues, that subsidy should come directly from the appropriate department. It should not, and in the long run cannot, be hidden in journal prices and paid for by the library.

It would help if spokespeople from scholarly societies weren’t prone to repeating the same, uh, “untruths” about OA that publishers tend to spout --you know, death of proper review, Every Paper Costs Big Bucks Directly for the Author, higher overall costs for big universities, all that good stuff.

UC Berkeley offers OA videos of courses and symposia

One week after Yale announced OA lecture videos as part of its open courseware project, the University of California at Berkeley has announced its own series of OA educational videos.  (Thanks to ResearchBuzz.)   Excerpt:

[T]he University of California, Berkeley, announced today (Tuesday, Sept. 26) that it is delivering educational content, including course lectures and symposia, free of charge through Google Video.

Because of the quality and quantity of these video offerings, UC Berkeley will be the first university with its own page on the Google Video Web site, campus officials said. The campus is making more than 250 hours of content available to the public through Google Video.

UC Berkeley's page on the Google Video website features links to top courses, campus events and symposia....

Visitors to the new UC Berkeley Web page will be able to view or download a half dozen UC Berkeley courses in their entirety, including "Physics for Future Presidents, "Integrative Biology," and "Search Engines: Technology, Society and Business." Also offered will be a wide range of public events and cutting-edge symposia on everything from climate change to synthetic biology. The campus is set to add further content to the Google Video site in coming months.

This collaboration also strengthens UC Berkeley's position as a leader in knowledge-sharing through open-access online video, campus officials said....

Keeping ahead of coursecasting technology, UC Berkeley has been making academic content available to the public since 2001, when its Educational Technology Services (ETS) division began webcasting lectures and special events to students and the public through its Web site. That site will continue to host the full array of the campus's growing inventory of video content supplied by taped events and lecture rooms that are wired for automated webcasting.

"Google Video is a wonderful extension of our open video program," said Obadiah Greenberg, ETS product manager for webcast.berkeley. "The ability of viewers to play back video on a variety of devices; the ease of sharing and embedding videos via e-mail and blogs; and access to community aspects such as user ratings and comments help us to broaden our reach and build community around our video."...

"Before the advent of broadband, only our students or those fortunate enough to attend campus events were able to reap the rewards," said Dan Mogulof, UC Berkeley's executive director of Public Affairs and Google Video project manager. "Now, through our collaboration with Google Video, we can more easily share those resources and bring extraordinary value to the people of California, the taxpayers who help support our institution. This is a perfect example of how technology is expanding our idea of what it means to be a truly public university."...

Comment.  Berkeley is smart to let Google Video do the hosting and promotion.  This will not only reduce costs but increase the visibility and use of the videos.  From an OA perspective, it may be no more free or open than Yale's use of its own Center for Media Initiatives, but it's a huge step up from Berkeley's previous use of iTunes.

Open foo does not imply open bar

Peter Murray-Rust describes some of the many meanings of "open" in preparation for starting a Wikipedia article on open data.

I like this (perhaps inadvertent) echo of Stallman's free beer: 

“Open Foo” does not imply “Open Bar”.

Another library perspective on society publishers

Heather Morrison, OA Librarians and Societies: Two Perspectives, OA Librarian, September 25, 2006. Excerpt:
T. Scott Plutchak thinks we OA advocates are too hard on societies; you can read his blogpost It Gets Lonely Out Here. My sympathies to T. Scott, who reports to one of the very few provosts who signed the letter opposing FRPAA....

Dorothea Salo on Caveat Lector presents another point of view in her blogpost Unyielding opposition?  As Dorothea points out, it would be a lot easier to be supportive of scholarly societies if they did not themselves exhibit unyielding opposition to open access, FRPAA, NIH, PubChem, etc.

Personally, I am completely against...anti-OA activities on the part of some scholarly societies, but totally for the concept of scholarly societies. I think libraries should work cooperatively with societies to provide support - financial and technical, not just moral - to enable scholarly societies to transition to open access.

Another of Dorothea's points: "I may be alone in this, but I’m also irked by one specific phrase I see in scholarly publishers’ contributions to the open-access debate: “subscription-funded activities.” I’ll make my stance as clear as I know how: libraries are not responsible for supporting society activities unrelated to the scholarly literature".
You're not alone, Dorothea. When we have a scholarly communications system that has been in crisis for decades, it is irresponsible to charge more than necessary to fund other activities.

Updating the GNU Free Document License

From Lawrence Lessig's blog:
The Free Software Foundation has launched a public discussion on proposed changes to the Free Document License, a license designed “can be used for any textual work” but which, in the world enriched by Wikipedia, now attempts to license all creative work. I’ll be studying the changes carefully, and will post my own comments, both here and there, but I really would encourage people to do the same. Please spread the word broadly.

Comment. Most research articles that use OA-friendly licenses use Creative Commons licenses, even though there are many other kinds, including the GNU Free Documentation License. But I haven't seen a good discussion of why this is so or whether it should be. I can give a quick handful of reasons why CC licenses are beneficial, but if anyone has done a systematic comparison with other licenses, focusing on the purposes of research and scholarship (rather than, say, fiction, software, music, or photography), I'd appreciate any leads or links.

How will hybrid OA journals affect self-archiving and repositories?

Steve Hitchcock, Publisher 'open choice' is here to stay, should not faze repositories, Eprints Insiders, September 26, 2006. Excerpt:

The experiment is over: hybrid open access publishing, or 'open choice', where authors can choose to pay the publisher a fee to 'free' a paper published in an otherwise subscription-based journal, is here for the foreseeable future. While there may be no official point at which this could be said to have happened, with Wiley, Cambridge Journals, The American Physical Society and BMJ among the latest publishers to commit to hybrid OA as reported by Peter Suber, following moves by Elsevier [Oxford, Blackwell,] and, much earlier, Springer, there is no going back on this model.

Nor was there ever likely to be. This is a no-brainer for publishers with established print journals....

For journals where this approach is popular with authors, there will be two tipping points that will leave the publisher with a dilemma about when to switch to a fully OA model: the proportion of paid-OA articles and the consequent effect of library cancellations, and separately the general trend reduction in print subscriptions in favour of electronic-only delivery....

[W]hat are the implications for institutional repositories? Suber's article poses nine questions for authors to put to hybrid OA publishers, which include one with particular relevance to IRs: whether journals that allowed author self-archiving without an embargo still allow it for authors who do not choose the new OA option? In other words, has there been any backtracking from Romeo green policies among hybrid OA publishers? Logically there is no reason for this to be a consequence of hybrid OA; in fact, hybrid OA and self-archiving can continue to be mutually self-supporting just as before hybrid OA, especially while author uptake of hybrid OA is low (not forgetting that it has been suggested that some publishers might even seek this low-uptake outcome). Yet an assertion that such models give a "commercial disincentive to allow immediate archiving" was found to have some basis with Bill Hubbard's report that "out of 8 publishers introducing hybrid programmes ... Blackwell and OUP have also withdrawn archiving rights", effectively reverting to embargoes on OA, although Stevan Harnad interpreted such changes as a reversion to pale-green policies that allow preprint self-archiving.

The main message for repositories does not change at all. Repositories are the simplest, fastest and no-cost way for authors to provide open access and publish in their journal of choice. Romeo green publisher policies encourage this, and while the prospect of research funder and institutional OA mandates may be making publishers uneasy, the effect of hybrid OA models on Romeo green policies is likely to be limited.

Moves by publishers towards hybrid OA models ought to create a broadly helpful environment for repositories without pitting them against publishers.

Moving towards a science commons

Liz Lyon, Adding Value to Data and Information: Moving towards a Science Commons, a slide presentation at the CODATA workshop on Developing Information Commons for Science in Europe (Brussels, September 2006).

More on OA to avian flu data

Helen Branswell, Experts urge WHO to get countries on side for routine H5N1 virus sharing, CBC News, September 26, 2006. Excerpt:

A panel of international influenza experts is urging the World Health Organization to get countries to buy into a system whereby avian influenza virus samples and viral genetic blueprints would be freely and rapidly shared, without commercial gain for any party in the system.

The experts - members of a newly constituted WHO pandemic influenza task force - suggested open sharing of viruses that pose a pandemic potential should become standard practice to allow the global community to keep an eye on looming problems, WHO officials said Tuesday.

"There was widespread agreement that one, this is an absolutely critical public health activity for protecting us all against influenza, for providing global alert, and also for providing the vaccines which are going to be needed both for seasonal vaccines as well as potential pandemic threats," Dr. Keiji Fukuda, co-ordinator of the WHO's Global Influenza Program, said in a teleconference from Geneva....

Several years ago the agency set up a secure database to allow scientists in its international laboratory network to compare H5N1 avian flu viruses across countries. The aim was to get affected countries to share on an accelerated basis. Typically this type of information isn't shared before scientific papers on the viruses in question have been published; that can take months or years.

But as concern about the threat of the H5N1 flu virus has increased, the closed database has taken on the image of an "old boys' club" for flu. Pressure has been mounting on the WHO to open up the database to the wider scientific community. It reached a peak last month when 70 senior scientists, including Nobel Laureates, signed a letter supporting the creation of an open-access flu database that would be outside the WHO's control....

Fukuda said the task force urged WHO to get countries to reaffirm that the sharing of viral information should be done on a non-profit basis - the system currently used to find the flu strains needed for seasonal flu vaccine.

Dr. David Heymann, acting special adviser for pandemic influenza, said the WHO will draft a policy on the issue, which will be vetted by member countries - especially those afflicted by H5N1 outbreaks. If they support it, the WHO's new director general - who will be elected in November - will decide whether the policy should be put as a resolution to the World Health Assembly, the WHO's governing council....

More on the NEH preference for OA projects

Karin Fischer, Historians and Humanities Endowment Clash Over Changes in Review Process for Grants, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 26, 2006. Excerpt:

The Association for Documentary Editing's letter [to the NEH]...criticized a recent change giving "preference" to scholars who make their projects available free online, which the scholars argued amounted to a requirement to do so. Mr. Bruns and others say that they are working to make more documents available online but argue that the rights to their work are frequently controlled by university presses that publish the work.

In response to that complaint, the NEH made "several small modifications" to its guidelines, Mr. McDonald wrote. The revised guidance now states that while the agency "encourages" online publication, it does not "require that all editions be published online or preclude applications from projects that intend print publication."

Elissa S. Pruett, director of communications for the NEH, said the online-publishing guidelines, originally published in August, did not apply to print-only applications and were part of an effort to make NEH-supported projects more broadly available to the public.

"It is one of the priorities of the endowment that these projects and papers be available not just to institutions and research libraries but reach a larger audience than they have in the past," Ms. Pruett said.

PS:  For background, see my two previous blog postings on the NEH policy (1, 2) --and remember that this is the NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities), not the NIH (National Institutes of Health).

More on the OA Allen Brain Atlas

Jeff Kosseff, Q&A with Paul Allen, The Oregonian, September 27, 2006. Excerpt:

[Q] How did the decision come about to put all of the data [for the Allen Brain Atlas] online, make it public? Did you consider licensing it and selling it for research?

[A] We did talk about that in the early days. But if you want to have maximum impact, if you want researchers at drug companies to also benefit from what you're doing -- and they're reluctant to use anything that has encumbrances on it -- and you want this available to any scientist worldwide, we quickly made the decision to have open access.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Spanish university joins Google Library project

Jeffrey Goldfarb, Spanish university joins Google book scan plan, Reuters, September 26, 2006. Excerpt:

The Complutense University of Madrid is becoming the first library in a non-English-speaking country to join Google Inc.'s bid to scan every book in print, as the controversial project extends its global reach.

The university's library, the country's second largest behind the National Library, houses 3 million works, including thousands of Spanish-language public domain books, including those of Cervantes and Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz....

"We already have other non-English-language books, but this will be a huge boost to our Spanish-language content, as well as other languages," a Google spokeswoman said on Tuesday....

Following the legal threats, some of Google's library partners said they would only allow scanning of public domain works, and delay anything still protected by copyright until the issue was resolved by the courts.

Only the University of Michigan said it would proceed with scanning all works.

Also see the university press release (in Spanish or Google's English).

Update. A short article in the September 27 Chronicle of Higher Education makes clear (as the Reuters articles did not) that Complutense will only allow Google to scan public-domain books from its library.

Update. Also see Google's press release (September 26, 2006). Excerpt:

The library of the Complutense University of Madrid is the largest university library in Spain. "Out of copyright books previously only available to people with access to Madrid's Complutense University Library, or the money to travel, will now be accessible to everyone with an Internet connection, wherever they live," said Carlos Berzosa, Chancellor of the Complutense University of Madrid. "We are quite literally opening our library to the world. The opportunities for education are phenomenal and we are delighted to be working with Google on this project."

Taking the trap off the mouse

Scott Shepard, The biotech debate: Share or hoard your findings? Boston Business Journal, September 22, 2006.  Excerpt:

Rob Williams believes there's a huge need for more open source biotechnology, where everyone can come to the well and fill their bucket.

Williams is a professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. He is also director of the Complex Trait Consortium, an international effort to create a population of mice that mimics the human population when studying disease as well as drug reactions.

"The key concept is to recognize the areas of science and areas of industry that we all regard as pre-competitive," Williams says. "The question is: what is pre-competitive and should be out there in the public domain?"

Water, electricity and air are public utilities available to anybody who needs them. In biotech the same can be said for the Human Genome Project. Any scientist in the world can get the codes and apply them to his work. Likewise the new mice. Anybody who needs the mice can get them just by paying for the animals themselves. What gives the mice their utility, their genetics, is there for free exploration.

The scientific world has been slow to adopt Williams' mice, just because companies have been trained to believe that anything so useful can't possibly be free....

More on OA activities in Africa

Eve Gray, An African citation index? The AFC-Codesria conference on digital publishing, Gray Area, September 25, 2006.  Excerpt:

Around 65 delegates met in a mild and sunny Leiden in early September, as guests of the African Studies Centre of the University of Leiden, to discuss the the North-South divide and scholarly communication in Africa in the digital era.This was a follow-up to an initial conference on the topic in Dakar two years ago. The differences between the two conferences were telling: while the 2004 event consisted largely of informative and explanatory papers, laying the ground for an understanding of the terrain, this time there was a much more confident interrogation of the assumptions that underlie international scholarly communications systems and the power relations at play in the scholarly community....

As Adebayo Olukoshi said in his opening speech, global knowledge dissemination is characterised by asymmetries from previous systems of knowledge production. The conference was designed to address these asymmetries, he said, with the aim of developing strategies for using CODESRIA's CODICE documentation centre to help leapfrog institutional practice across the continent. In this context, CODICE is seen as a pioneer centre on the African continent for the development of digital media and online resources in the social sciences. The main lines of discussions that emerged at the conference were cogently summarised in this opening speech - the inequalities inherent in the scholarly system and the marginalisation of African knowledge in that system; the problematic yet ultimately liberatory role of technology; the need for leapfrogging disadvantage; and the vital importance of collaboration and resource sharing.

Open Access publication seemed to have ready acceptance across the board as the most enabling dissemination model for African scholarship, offering greater citation impact, greater efficiency and, most important, more democratic access to knowledge. Given that a number of speakers identified distribution problems as the major barrier to research dissemination, the potential for Open Access digital distribution was doubly attractive, leading to an increase in impact factor of between 56% and 227%, according to Marlon Domingues of the ASC....

The particular occasion for this event was the launch of Connecting Africa, an ASC initiative to harvest African Studies data by building links to repositories across the world. As an example of North-South collaboration, this initiative builds on existing resources to leverage access to a body of African Studies content, fostering partnerships between institutions in the North and in Africa. The resultant collaboration aims to redress the knowledge divide by balancing access to research content produced in Africa and that generated in the global North.

Providing a perspective from the global South, Subbiah Arunachalam gave an eye-opening account of the ways in which Open Access knowledge dissemination to rural knowledge centres in India had contributed to poverty reduction and the delivery of development goals – as well as saving the lives of coastal fishermen through the provision of weather and tidal information. These networks translate knowledge from the research environment to local communities – 'lab-to-land' as Arun described it - using digital, print, and broadcast media to get the message across in projects in some 40,000 villages....

Williams Nwagwu...[made] the case for the creation of an African citation index, arguing that African research is for the most part, 'unavailable and inaccessible' as a result of the selection criteria imposed by the mainstream Northern citation indexes. These exclude most research done in Africa and, in particular, deny the importance of locally or nationally-focused research, which tends to be applied research, understandably enough, given African circumstances....The South American example of the SCIELO database was cited by a number of speakers as a valuable coordinated cross-national policy initiative that has substantially increased the exposure of research from the participating countries - and if Cuba can do it, so can African countries.

The proposal for an African Citation Index was taken up enthusiastically by the delegates and a proposal was accepted for Williams to prepare a model for CODESRIA, for the idea to be taken up with the AAU and NEPAD. Terms of Reference should be ready by October-November 2006....

In the final keynote address, Olivier Sagna, from Cheik Anta Diop University in Dakar, but recently appointed to a strategic position in CODICE at CODESRIA, pulled together a number of these themes. Africa had been outside most developments he said, but...[w]hat was happening in Africa, he said, was the growth of FOSS,...the establishment of repositories and research archives, Creative Commons SA, with Nigeria to follow, NRENs. What needed to be done was awareness-raising; policy creation (Open Access, FOSS, etc.)....Most important, African universities needed to create communication links and collaborative networks so that efforts are no longer fragmented. Perhaps, he said, in 2007 there should be a Tibuktu Declaration on African Open Access.

PS:  For background, see Jennifer De Beer's shorter report on the conference from earlier this month.

More on the OA Allen Brain Atlas

Xeni Jardin, Paul Allen's Digital Brain, Wired News, September 26, 2006. Excerpt:

Scientists have mapped every gene in the mouse brain as part of Paul Allen's Brain Atlas project launched in 2003. While brain maps until now have been similar to a traditional encyclopedia, the Allen Brain Atlas is more like Google Earth.

When the Microsoft co-founder donated $100 million for the project, his stipulations were that the map be open access and free.

"The brain is one of the richest green fields of science," Allen told Wired News. "There's so much yet to be discovered. So I brought together a group of scientists and asked them to tell me what could be done that wasn’t yet being done -- something that could be accomplished within a reasonable number of years and advance the whole field." ...

Half of the initial $100 million Allen donated to the Institute in 2003 was earmarked for the Allen Brain Atlas, which was completed under budget with $9 million to spare. The nonprofit’s directors plan to use the remaining $59 million to continue Institute operations in years to come, and will seek additional sources of public and private funding for the next big step: scanning human brain tissue.

PS:  For background, see my earlier posts on this project.

OA repository for Desmond Tutu

King's College London is launching an OA repository of the works of Desmond Tutu.

Answering FUD about FRPAA

Stevan Harnad, 125 Provosts For, 10 Against FRPAA Self-Archiving Mandate, Open Access Archivangelism, September 25, 2006.  Excerpt:

Summary:  The actual impact of Open Access (OA) self-archiving on research, researchers, their institutions, their funders, and the tax-paying public (which has all already been shown to be highly positive) must be clearly separated from any hypothetical impact it might have on publishers (whether commercial or scholarly-society publishers). Researchers do not conduct research -- nor does the tax-paying public fund research -- for the benefit of publishers. The sole point at issue concerning the FRPAA is whether or not self-archiving should be mandated. The two concrete questions that researchers, their institutions and funders need to put to themselves regarding any "special relationship" with scholarly society publishers are therefore:
        (a) Would (or should) researchers, their institutions and their funders knowingly choose to subsidise their scholarly societies with their own actual lost research impact in order to immunise those scholarly societies from any hypothetical risk of lost subscription revenue?
        (b) If, contrary to all evidence to date, self-archiving were indeed one day to cause publisher revenue losses -- or even to force a shift to the open-access publishing cost-recovery model (with author-institutions paying the publication costs for their own institution's research output out of their own windfall savings from the cancellation of their former costs as user-institutions, buying in the published output of other institutions) -- is the prevention of that hypothetical outcome something that researchers, their institutions and their funders would (or should) knowingly choose to subsidise with their own actual lost research impact?
        A dissenting minority of 10 US provosts opposes the FRPAA Self-Archiving Mandate (vs. 125 in favor) on these grounds. There is obviously a biomedical publisher lobby behind some or all of the 10 dissenting voices; the arguments are old ones, already rebutted many times:
        (1) The hypothesis that mandated self-archiving will force a shift to the OA publishing cost-recovery model is pure speculation at this time, with no evidence in its support, and evidence from both the American Physical Society and IOPP contradicting it.
        (2) But even if the hypothesis were ever to come to pass, it would not mean "diminishing funds available for research to benefit the public good".
        (3) To force a shift to the OA publishing cost-recovery model, there would first have to be substantial revenue losses for publishers, from institutional subscription cancellations.
        (4) But for every penny of revenue lost by publishers in the form of institutional subscription cancellations, there has to be a penny saved by institutions, in the form of windfall savings.
        (5) Hence if publisher revenue losses were ever to force a shift to the OA cost-recovery model, the institutions would have a large annual pot of windfall savings on which to draw to pay for their own outgoing publication costs.
        (6) Hence there would be nothing at all "requiring authors to pay for their publications through their Federal grants, diminishing funds available for research to benefit the public good."
        (7) It is only now -- when there are neither any institutional subscription cancellation pressures, nor any institutional subscription windfall savings -- that it looks as if paying OA publishing costs would require diverting money from research.
        (8) Hence it is both self-serving and self-contradictory to invoke both the "damage" hypothesis and the "research fund diversion" hypothesis against the FRPAA in the same breath: If the hypothetical "damage" is the hypothetical subscription revenue loss, then that is also the diversion: no need to poach hypothetical research funds.

More on the Million Book Project

Ammar W. Mango, A million books online for free, Middle East North Africa Financial Network News, September 26, 2006.  Excerpt:

All library research rituals may become a thing of the past real soon....The days of walking along thousands of bookshelves trying to find a book may become like a fairy tale for grandfathers to tell their grandchildren. Soon, libraries will be replaced by virtual ones; easily and freely accessible sources, from the convenience of your home, work, or school computer lab.

The Million Book Project, a name fit for such a legacy project, aims at digitising a million books in multiple languages, and providing them for free on the internet as part of what is called the "Universal Library."

The project, initiated by Carnegie Mellon University, is part of a bigger scheme to create a universal library that will capture all books in publication worldwide. This library is a virtual one that will exist on the internet for people to access freely around the clock.... 

At present, researchers in less developed countries, still dependent on regular libraries are suffering because of the limited number of resources. The universal library will end the problem and offer researchers access to a decent number of references, regardless of their geographic location. The online project will also provide education systems from countries around the world with the chance to make use of books that may not be available in their part of the world....

Since the library is going to feature books without violating copyright laws, it is expected to include relatively older books, in addition to newer ones that grant permission to the library for book inclusion.

The project which started on August 2001 is well already underway, with over 600,000 books already scanned. Scanning has been taking place mainly in India and China, with some books scanned in nearby Egypt. While most references are in the English language, some are in other languages, including Arabic....

CC thinking for cultural organizations

Rosemary Bechler, Unbounded Freedom: A Guide to Creative Commons Thinking for Cultural Organizations, The British Council.  Undated but apparently released this month.  Bechler gives three pages to a detailed case study of Eve Gray's OA recommendations to South Africa's Human Sciences Research Council (blogged here in May 2005).

PS:  Thanks to Glyn Moody, who gave Bechler's report a strong recommendation:  "It is probably the single best short introduction to intellectual monopoly issues I have ever read. It is well written, accessible, packed with good examples and surprisingly comprehensive."

More on open-source journalism

Richard Poynder has a good summary of the model of open-source journalism now being put into practice at

OA film on the Tripoli Six

Film-maker Mickey Grant has decided to provide OA to his 82-minute 2003 documentary on the doctor and five nurses (the Tripoli Six) who have been imprisoned and tortured by Libyan government since 1999 and now may face execution on fraudulent charges of deliberately infecting 400 Libyan children with HIV.

PS:  Declan Butler of Nature has been doing heroic work to mobilize bloggers to create international pressure to free the Tripoli Six.  I'm glad to have this OA hook to join the campaign.  Read the documents to which Declan links and spread the word.

Update. SciDev.Net for September 27, 2006, has a good article on the case, showing the evidence for the medics' innocence and the political sensitivities that may nevertheless lead to their conviction and execution.

First Swedish dissertation with a CC license

Mathias Klang has written the first doctoral dissertation in Sweden to be licensed and distributed under a Creative Commons license.  He'll defend it on October 2.  Klang is the Project Lead for Creative Commons Sweden.  (Thanks to the CC blog.)

PS:   For historians, I believe the first doctoral dissertation anywhere to use a CC license was by Oleg Evnin at Caltech (successfully defended May 26, 2006). 

Update. Theo Andrew writes that there are a number of CC-licensed ETDs at the U of Edinburgh and that the earliest seems to be by Magnus Hagdorn, submitted on March 4, 2004. I'm glad to be corrected and welcome pointers to any earlier examples.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A library perspective on society publishers who resist OA

Dorothea Salo, Unyielding opposition?  Caveat Lector, September 25, 2006. Excerpt:

The respectable T. Scott wishes librarians (among other OA advocates) would stop hitting out at scholarly societies:

Finally, I believe that the open access partisans, along with many of my librarian colleagues, have made a serious tactical mistake in placing ourselves in such unyielding opposition to the scientific societies. Those societies that have maintained their publishing programs as low-cost independent entities should be applauded by librarians, even when we disagree on the open access issues. The day that Marty Frank sells the APS publishing program to Elsevier because he doesn’t think he can successfully keep it alive on its own anymore is a day when we all lose.

...To begin with, I don’t know many librarians who have expressed a specific stance about all scholarly societies, and especially not the subgroup of societies described above. In fact, I don’t know any...

That said, I’m honestly hard-pressed to say that academic librarians as a whole should be well-disposed to scholarly societies as a whole. Scientific societies in particular have squandered a lot of library goodwill by roundly ignoring thirty years or more of the serials crisis. If they now want libraries to take their worries about open access seriously, they have some ground to make up.

Elseviley Verlag didn’t corner the journal market by building it. Elseviley Verlag cornered the journal market because a lot of societies sold out to them. They either didn’t notice or didn’t care that they were putting libraries over a barrel in the process. So (to be blunt and callous about it, more callous than I actually am) we should care that open access is putting them over a barrel why, exactly?

Moreover, when scholarly societies still in possession of publishing arms range themselves against FRPAA and other open-access initiatives, they’re getting in bed with Elsevier’s lobbyists as well as certain dubious sockpuppets....

I’m also irked by one specific phrase I see in scholarly publishers’ contributions to the open-access debate: “subscription-funded activities.” I’ll make my stance as clear as I know how: libraries are not responsible for supporting society activities unrelated to the scholarly literature....If libraries can get the scholarly literature properly managed and disseminated in a more cost-effective fashion than the current system, we are right to pursue that; that’s our mission. I am entirely unmoved when I see societies getting upset about their “other subscription-funded activities.” Their other subscription-funded activities are fundamentally not my problem; nor is it my problem that societies placed all their financial eggs in the subscription basket.

If my stance, in T. Scott’s phrase, amounts to “placing [myself] in unyielding opposition to the scientific societies,” so be it. I don’t think it is; I think it no more than a reality check....

A society that partners with a library to digitize and preserve back issues of its journal will likely require considerably less revenue to fund the digitization, and can offload preservation responsibilities entirely. A society that lets a library host its e-journal—current issues, back issues, any issues—may see a lot of its revenue needs associated with that journal fade into thin air. This is not pie-in-the-sky posturing. It’s possible now; several libraries are ready to take journals on board, and several larger libraries have digitization or publishing-services arms. So why aren’t societies beating down our doors? Why would the APS even consider selling to Elsevier, when it could partner with a library?...

I do care —I care a lot— when leaders of these societies oppose FRPAA, spread FUD and outright lies about open access (a quick skim of Open Access News provides quite a few examples of this), refuse to promote green-road OA to their memberships, ignore libraries and library concerns, and —worst of all— refuse to realize that letting open access take Elseviley Verlag down a peg or two is probably in their best interest, since Elseviley Verlag is substantially why libraries have had to cancel their subscriptions. There, if you will, is a “serious tactical mistake,” and not by libraries.

When the FUD stops, and when societies are ready to talk seriously to libraries about what we can offer besides wagonloads of cash, then I will be much readier to help societies with their legitimate concerns about the transition to open access.

Oxford Open introduces CC licenses

Oxford University Press has introduced Creative Commons licenses for most Oxford Open hybrid journals.  From today's announcement:

We have...introduced the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Derivative Works licence for the vast majority of the journals participating in our hybrid program (with those not yet using it being due only to pending society approval).  We make it clear to authors in the licence that reuse of the online content when published is subject to this Creative Commons licence.  See [this article from Bioinformatics] for an example.

Admittedly, the machine readable element is yet to go live but this is due to happen in the very near future.
We continually review our publication rights policies for all of our journals and aim to provide authors with as much information as possible so that they are aware of their rights without having to keep checking each time whether or not permission is required.

Comment.  I believe that Springer and Oxford are the only publishers of hybrid OA journals to use CC licenses for participating articles.  I hope that other hybrid journal publishers will follow suit.

Hindawi adds three more OA journals to its list

Hindawi has launched one new OA journal and converted two more TA journals to OA. From today's announcement:

Hindawi Publishing Corporation is pleased to announce the addition of three titles to its growing open access journal collection. The addition of the following three titles brings the total number of journals in Hindawi’s open access collection to 45.

  • Active and Passive Electronic Components
  • International Journal of Antennas and Propagation
  • Physical Separation in Science and Engineering

The International Journal of Antennas and Propagation is a newly launched journal, while Active and Passive Electronic Components and Physical Separation in Science and Engineering were both previously published as subscription-based journals and have been converted to open access. All articles shall be distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. 

All back volumes of Active and Passive Electronic Components as well as Physical Separation in Science and Engineering will be made freely available online. Some back volumes are already available, while the remaining volumes are being retro-digitized and will be made freely available as soon as the retro-digitization is complete.

Hindawi expects its open access journal collection to grow to more than 60 titles by the end of 2006 and is planning further expansions in 2007.

Comment.  Hindawi is the second largest publisher of OA journals, after BioMed Central, and the world leader in converting TA journals to OA.  It's a joy to watch it grow.

The British Library IP manifesto

The British Library has issued The British Library Manifesto: Intellectual Property: A Balance, September 25, 2006.  From today's announcement:

In recent years debate on IP reform has become increasingly polarised as digital communications transform the way that information is shared, stored and copied. Existing legislation urgently needs to be updated, though the manner in which this is achieved has the potential to nurture or curtail the development of new kinds of creativity and new models of public and private sector value.

“Our IP Manifesto sets out the unique role that the UK national library must play as both a leading voice and an honest broker in the debate that the digital revolution has generated,” said Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library. “As a publisher in its own right, the Library understands the opportunities and threats presented by digital to the publishing industries. As one of the world's great research libraries we are equally mindful of the threat that an overly restrictive, or insufficiently clear, IP framework would pose to future creativity and innovation....

The IP Manifesto's key recommendations include:
  • Existing limitations and exceptions to copyright law should be extended to encompass unambiguously the digital environment;
  • Licenses providing access to digital material should not undermine longstanding limitations and exceptions such as ‘fair dealing'
  • The right to copy material for preservation purposes – a core duty of all national libraries – should be extended to all copyrightable works;
  • The copyright term for sound recordings should not be extended without empirical evidence of the benefits and due consideration of the needs of society as a whole;
  • The US model for dealing with ‘orphan works' should be considered for the UK;
  • The length of copyright term for unpublished works should be brought into line with other terms (ie: life plus 70 years).

“The World Intellectual Property Organisation, the body that frames intellectual property law internationally, is clear that limitations and exceptions such as fair dealing and library privilege are as relevant to the digital environment as they are to the its analogue equivalent,” Lynne Brindley added. “However, out of thirty licensing agreements recently offered to the Library for use of digital material, twenty-eight were found to be more restrictive than the rights existing under current copyright law.”

She concluded: “Our concern is that, if unchecked, this trend will drastically reduce public access, thus significantly undermining the strength and vitality of our creative and educational sectors – with predictable consequences for UK plc.”

From the body of the manifesto:

We are facing up to the challenge of capturing and preserving the nation’s creative output in a fast-moving digital world to ensure it is not lost for future generations. This is forming the nation’s digital memory – for example we have signed an agreement with Microsoft to digitise and make free at the point of access on the web 25,000,000 pages of out of copyright material....

We believe that if [copyright] limitations and exceptions are not clearly extended to the digital environment, knowledge will potentially become simply a commodity to be bought and sold by those that can afford it. This contradicts our existing copyright system, and would undermine in the UK the great economic and educational benefit of the digital age.

We recommend that limitations and exceptions are explicitly extended to the digital environment as is the case in international law....

DRMs are given close to total legal protection within the UK, with no practical processes allowing for legal circumvention in the interests of disabled access, long-term preservation or where the DRM prevents fair-dealing use.

DRMs do not have to expire, and can effectively prevent the work entering into the public domain at the expiry of the copyright period.

Licences, rather than contracts of sale, are emerging as the key transaction method in the digital environment. The majority of these licences deliver lower-level access and copying rights than are available under existing copyright law.

We recommend that contract and DRMs /TPMs are not allowed to undermine the longstanding limitations and exceptions such as fair dealing in UK law....

The NEH weakens its preference for OA projects

Scott Jaschik, NEH vs. Historians, Inside Higher Ed, September 25, 2006. Excerpt:

A week ago, when the National Endowment for the Humanities was asked to respond to a letter from historians and archivists questioning some recent policy shifts by the agency, an NEH spokesman called the letter “thoughtful.”

On Friday, the NEH released a formal response to the letter, calling it anything but thoughtful. Rather, the letter was characterized as containing “inaccuracies and distortions” and the scholars involved were accused of spreading “false and misleading information.”...

In addition, while the NEH says that complaints from the scholars about grant requirements were inappropriate, the endowment has changed the grant review criteria to explicitly state (as requested by the historians) that projects not be excluded for not being online and free....

[A] major part of the dispute concerns language in the revised rules for Scholarly Editions Grants that suggested that the projects that are produced digitally and that are made available online free would receive “preference” when grants are awarded.

The scholars who produce these projects have noted that they are already working to make much of their work available online, much of it free. But in many cases, they have noted, the rights to the work are controlled by university presses, which publish the work — often times at a financial loss. With funding in this area so tight, scholars said that a preference would de facto be a requirement — and one that puts them in an impossible position, since they need to work with university presses and the NEH.

On this issue, the NEH was more conciliatory. While stating that NEH officials didn’t understand why there was so much worry, McDonald noted that the digital policy was part of a broader endowment effort to make more of the work it supports broadly available online. But “in the hopes of putting this issue to bed once and for all,” he said that the NEH had made several “small modifications” to its grant rules to specify that the “preference” is not a requirement. Those changes include an explicit statement in the Frequently Asked Questions section in which NEH answers the question about whether there is any requirement in this area with a direct “No.”

[Roger A. Bruns, president of the Association for Documentary Editing] said that he did view these changes as providing “a bit of relief,” but he took issue with the idea that the historians had created more concern about this issue than was necessary. “The way they wrote the guidelines was poor — they just weren’t well written,” he said. He also said that concerns remain about how strong a preference is involved, and what impact that would have....


  1. For background, see Jaschik's September 18 story and my blog comment on it.
  2. Another part of the dispute between the historians and the NEH centers on a new form of peer review that NEH will use for grant applications.  I've omitted that here because it's unrelated to the OA policy.
  3. The new NEH policy on OA shows up in two places.  First, on the guidelines page, the preference for free online access remains but is limited to "online projects".  Previously it applied to "projects" without qualification.  This may seem inconsequential, since only online projects can be OA.  But it's still a retreat, since it no longer sends the message that applicants preparing scholarly editions should aim to produce online editions.  If an applicant aims to produce a print edition, the OA preference may not apply, depriving most taxpayers of access to a publicly-funded work of scholarship.
  4. The second place where the new OA policy shows up is in the FAQ, as Jaschik notes.  Here's the full text of the new Q&A:
    Does the NEH Digital Humanities Initiative require that all Scholarly Editions projects be published online and with free online access?

    No. While the NEH encourages online publication, especially for new projects, the Digital Humanities Initiative does not require that all editions be published online or preclude applications from projects that intend print publication. For further guidance applicants should consult the expectations in the guidelines regarding the "final product and dissemination" of scholarly editions grants.

    Because the original statement of the preference for OA projects could not have been construed as a requirement, I don't see this clarification as a retreat (in contrast to the new language on the guidelines page).
  5. I'm pleased that the NEH still prefers OA for NEH-funded online projects, and that it encourages NEH-funded projects to be online.   But I'm disappointed that it weakened its preference after one complaint without inviting public comments from groups with other interests.  The public deserves OA to publicly-funded research.  It's good for students and scholars not affiliated with wealthy institutions; it's good for authors, who enlarge their audience and impact; and it's good for the funding agency and taxpayers, who increase the return on their investment.

OA with society publishers rather than against them

T. Scott Plutchak, It Gets Lonely Out Here, T. Scott, September 24, 2006. Excerpt:

Peter Suber has collected some reactions to the anti-FRPAA letter that came out last week, and the example from Jonathan Eisen is particularly depressing....(UPDATE:  Shortly after posting this, I was impressed and pleased to get a brief email from Eisen in which he agreed that his tone was "over the top".  He said that he had changed the tone of his post, and I see that he has indeed done that).  In his listing of the nefarious relationships of the signatories, he mentions that Robert R. Rich is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Immunology.  He is also VP and Dean of Medicine at my university.

As it happens, I ran into Bob late Thursday morning when we were both on our way to the monthly lunch that our president hosts for the deans.    I mentioned the letter and he told me that it would be going out later that day.  We chatted a bit on the elevator about the complexities of the issues.   The topic came up during the lunch and there was a bit of lively discussion.  There was some good natured teasing of each other about being on the wrong sides of the issue. 

We've talked about all of this on several occasions, and I've noticed that Bob always frames his discussion by saying that he supports exploring new economic models for publishing (for example, he's had positive things to say about PLoS and the quality of their journals, though he's not yet convinced about their long term viability); what he seems to object to the most in FRPAA is what he perceives as a federal mandate to change the economic model without sufficient attention given to how the professional societies are going to manage the transition.  He and I may disagree on the merits and consequences of the legislation, but it is clear that his position is far from a kneejerk, anti-open access, anti-change point of view....

As I've said many times before, we need to find the places where we can establish alliances with the societies and come up with strategies to promote the issues that we agree on, and not let the disagreements divide us. 

So let me make a concrete proposal:  The Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL) and the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (FASEB) should establish a one-year commission to investigate the alternatives, options, and implications for removing subscription revenue from the funding streams of society-published scientific journals.  The commission should include no more than ten individuals, half chosen by the executive body of each organization.  The organizations should provide sufficient funding for four in-person meetings during the course of the year, along with some funding for staff support (data-gathering, coordinating logistics, etc.).  Results should be presented at the 2008 AAMC meeting (as well as other appropriate venues).

The commission should be charged with identifying all possible alternate funding streams and constructing scenarios that would explore how likely the generation of such fundings streams could be.  FRPAA should be off the table, since the lines in the sand have already been clearly drawn.  The ultimate goal of the commission should be to identify, as concretely as possible, the real implications of removing subscription revenue so that we can have constructive debate on the cost/benefits involved in making radical changes to the current system. 

Let me be clear:  I firmly believe that funding scholarly communication via subscription revenue is an anachronism and that the societal benefits of changing the systems are worth pushing this as far we can.  But I also believe that the scientific societies play a critical role in the advancement of knowledge and that there is an equally important societal benefit in making sure that they remain viable as we go through this transition....

Finally, I believe that the open access partisans, along with many of my librarian colleagues, have made a serious tactical mistake in placing ourselves in such unyielding opposition to the scientific societies.   Those societies that have maintained their publishing programs as low-cost independent entities should be applauded by librarians, even when we disagree on the open access issues.  The day that Marty Frank sells the APS publishing program to Elsevier because he doesn't think he can successfully keep it alive on its own anymore is a day when we all lose.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Update on OA to California-funded stem-cell research

Open Access: Time to Catch the Wave, California Stem Cell Report, September 24, 2006. Excerpt:

The drive for open access at the California stem cell agency moved forward last week with a presentation by University of California officials to the agency's Intellectual Property Task Force.

Following the Thursday session, Ed Penhoet, chair of the Task Force, said the group had heard "strong sentiment" for open access as described by the UC officials. But he noted that UC itself has not implemented open access policies even after three years of discussion. One UC official said he expected they may be approved next spring. Penhoet said CIRM will continue to work on the issue.

Open access means faster dissemination of research, more use of the information by other scholars and a reduction in cost to readers, according to the open access advocates....

Francisco Prieto, a CIRM Oversight Committee member, said that sharing of research and transparency is a "bedrock principle" at CIRM. He said that open access is becoming "the standard" and that "perhaps we should push it."

John M. Simpson, stem cell project director for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumers Rights, said, "We're paying for it. We ought to be able to see it."

But Oversight Committee member Duane Roth said the marketplace seemed to be dealing with the issue of open access. He said he was "not sure CIRM should be doing something NIH isn't." ...

One faculty member from UC Berkeley noted that young researchers in his lab opposed open access policies because of the likelihood that they would limit their ability to have their research published in the top scientific journals. Publication in such journals is the key to securing good faculty positions, they said....

Our comment:...In addition to Crow, 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 appeared before IP Task Force. The UC Berkeley faculty member that we mentioned got away before we could get his correct name. For more on open access and CIRM, see "fading print" and "call for open access."


  1. To Duane Roth, who "said the marketplace seemed to be dealing with the issue of open access...[and that] he was 'not sure CIRM should be doing something NIH isn't.'"  First, the marketplace cannot create a public policy to provide open access to publicly-funded research.  The call here is for just such a policy.  Second, since May 2005 the NIH has encouraged open access to all NIH-funded research, even if it hasn't required it.  Third, every oversight body with responsibility for the NIH policy, from its own Public Access Working Group to the NLM Board of Regents and Congress itself, has recommended that the NIH convert its OA encouragement to an OA mandate.  Fourth, the NIH Director, Elias Zerhouni, testified before Congress on April 4, 2006, that "it seems the voluntary policy is just not enough" to achieve the agency's goals. CIRM should learn from NIH's mistake, not repeat it.
  2. To the Berkeley professor who "noted that young researchers in his lab opposed open access policies because of the likelihood that they would limit their ability to have their research published in the top scientific journals."  Your students are uninformed.  First, if they are talking about their preprints (manuscripts not yet peer reviewed or published), only a small and diminishing minority of journals will refuse to publish articles that have circulated as preprints.  Second, your students seem unaware that all OA journals and 70% of non-OA journals give blanket permission for their authors deposit their peer-reviewed postprints in OA repositories.  In short, publishing in top journals and providing OA to the same work is seldom a trade-off.  I cover both misunderstands and several others in my article, Six things that researchers need to know about open access.

Notes on the IFLA conference

Becca in NY has blogged some notes on the OA-related presentations at the IFLA conference in Seoul, South Korea (August 20-24, 2006).

Scholarly access to unpublished work

Peter Hirtle, Digital Access to Archival Works: Could 108(b) Be the Solution?  Copyright and Fair Use, September 24, 2006. (Thanks to Mary Minow.) 
Abstract:   Section 108(b) of the Copyright Law, which deals with unpublished works, is often described primarily has a “preservation” clause, with its primary purpose being to ensure that our manuscript heritage is not lost. A closer look at the legislative history of the section, however, reveals that Congress was primarily concerned with increasing scholarly access to unpublished materials. Limited distribution to other libraries and archives to enhance research access to the original materials, it concluded, does not compete with the copyright owner’s right to commercially exploit the work. Under the original section 108(b), there were no limits on the number of copies that could be made for deposit in other repositories. Today digital technologies could provide a means of providing access to research materials without having to distribute physical copies to other repositories (though distribution of copies for preservation purposes would still be desirable).

OA to cultural heritage in archives, libraries, and museums

Klaus Graf has blogged a preview (in German) of a talk he'll give next week at a panel on Open access: Freier Zugang zu Kulturgut in Archiv, Bibliothek und Museum.

Launch of RegisteredCommons

RegisteredCommons is a new organization launched on September 19 at the Wizards of OS 4 conference in Berlin.  The best short description is that it's an Austrian-based cousin to Creative Commons.  Like CC, RC offers licenses for creators who want to share their creations.  Unlike CC, RC offers both some-rights-reserved licenses and traditional all-rights-reserved licenses.  In the same spirit it also offers expiring licenses for those who want to share their content only for a limited time.  Finally, it allows authors to register their authorship, without creating a license, in order to facilitate subsequent proof.  For more information, see the press release from the launch or the FAQ, which uses a CC (not RC) license.

More on the Pirate Party

Suw Charman at Corante has an update on Germany's Pirate Party and its support for OA.

See my comment from last month supporting the platform but deploring the name.

October 1 will be a big day for OA

Here are some OA events that will take place on October 1, one week from today.
  • OA mandates will take effect at four of the Research Councils UK: the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
  • Last year on this date, the Wellcome Trust implemented its OA mandate for all new Wellcome research grants. This year on the same date, the WT will extend the policy from new grants to all outstanding grants, no matter how long ago they were awarded.
  • Last year the Dutch DARE project set itself the goal of depositing 100,000 full-text eprints, or tripling the volume, in the DARE network of OA repositories --all in one year. The year ends on October 1.
  • Ian Russell will start his term as CEO of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP). Most recently, Russell was the Head of Publishing at the Royal Society, a position he held at the time the RS adopted the hybrid OA model for all seven of its journals (June 2006). Sally Morris, the current CEO, will overlap with Russell until December 1, when she will retire after eight years of leading the organization.

I'll mention these again in the "this month" section of my October newsletter. But since it won't come out until October 2, it will be too late for those who wanted advanced notice.