Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, October 07, 2006

OA in NLM's future

Charting a Course for the 21st Century: NLM's Long-Range Plan 2006-2016, National Library of Medicine Board of Regents, September 21, 2006.  (Thanks to Clifford Lynch.)  Excerpt:

[By 2025] the majority of new scientific research results will be freely available in permanent digital archives shortly after initial production or publication, thus fueling additional scientific discovery and encouraging the development of a wide range of value-added commercial products and services.

PS:  The NLM is part of the NIH.

Changing the material form of knowledge

Michael Schiltz, Frederik Truyen, and Hans Coppens, Cutting the Trees of Knowledge: Social Software, Information Architecture, and Their Epistemic Consequences, a preprint forthcoming from Thesis Eleven 2007, issue 89.

Abstract:   This article inquires whether and to which degree some fundamental traits of the worldwideweb may encourage us to revise traditional conceptions of what constitutes scientific information and knowledge. Turning to arguments for 'open access' in scientific publishing and its derivatives (open content, open archives, etc.) contemporary tendencies in 'social software' and knowledge sharing, the authors project a new look on knowledge, dissociated with linear notions of cumulation, progression, and hierarchy (of e.g. scientific argument), but related to circularity, heterarchy, and evolution. Arguing from a medium theoretical perspective, they illustrate their ideas with developments in library science, current debates in epistemology and theories about information architecture, with a particular focus on 'unsystematic' folksonomies.

From the body of the paper:

The coupling of information and its material carrier, which
resulted in the economic interest of the publisher and the corollary legal constructs of the author and copyright were eroded by the prospects of digital publication and distribution. In a particular example: scientific publishing has started to be redefined by calls for openness and accessibility of research results. The latter's momentum, spearheaded by the Open Access Movement also pointed the way for new and creative possibilities of knowledge sharing and production —freed by barriers to access, especially the positive sciences have shifted the bulk of innovation to a lively preprint circuit, powered by debate and massive peer review. This may have shifted the outlook of what it means to 'write science' in the first place, and how we, in the future, will define knowledge, problems, and problem solutions. Ultimately, this will translate in a reformulation of the locus cognoscendi, and, especially, enliven the debate about the place of the observer in the field of his observation.

More on OA in the humanities

Malcolm Heath, An author is an animal with two ends, an expanded version of a presentation at the JISC Open Access conference (Oxford, September 27-28, 2006).  Excerpt:

...I would rather have Open Access to raw content than added value that renders the content inaccessible.  Thesis 3: Inaccessible content has no value....

Thesis 4: Sell added value. The content has been paid for....

[I]n the Arts and Humanities, postprint archiving provides a more immediately practicable route to Open Access [than paying author-side fees]. It is already technologically feasible; it does not depend on the development of new business models, or on a radical reform of research funding, or on the availability of additional resources to meet transitional costs; and it achieves the most fundamental goal of ensuring that raw content --the ultimately indispensable component of research publications-- is accessible to researchers without impediment. This may not be a perfect solution, but it is possible, which is much more important; and any achievable improvement on what we have now is good enough --at least, as a starting-point....

More on the British Library's IP manifesto

Mark Chillingworth, BL demands overhaul of intellectual property law, Information World Review, October 6, 2006. Excerpt:

Microsoft and Google have joined forces with the British Library in calling on the government to radically overhaul the intellectual property (IP) law.

Meetings at both the Labour and Conservative Party conferences have added momentum to the debate and a manifesto for new legislation has been drafted.

The National Consumer Council, British Phonographic Industry and the Open Rights Group are also lobbying both the current government and the resurgent Conservative Party to modernise the law to reflect the digital age.

“The current stand-off on intellectual property threatens innovation, research and our digital heritage,” said British Library chief executive Lynne Brindley....

The manifesto describes the UK’s copyright legislation as “creaking under the strain” and calls for modernisation to ensure that digital content is not treated differently to printed content.

It also calls for standardisation of digital rights management (DRM), the technology used to protect digital content from copying.  “Because there are no common standards there is a notion of content being locked down,” Brindley said....

The British Library’s intellectual property manifesto is based on its submission to the Gowers Review. The Gowers report into intellectual property is expected this year.

EC should consult researchers about what's good for research

Stevan Harnad, Responses to EC Self-Archiving Mandate RecommendationOpen Access Archivangelism, October 6, 2006.

The synthesis of the responses to the European Commission's (EC's) research-access related recommendations is alas so far still rather wishy-washy. One hopes that the EC will not lose sight of the fact that researchers (and their institutions and funders) are both the providers and the users of research (in generating further research as well as applications for the benefit of the tax-paying public that funds the research). Research is not done, or funded, in order to support the publishing industry. EC Recommendation A1 was for an Open Access Self-Archiving Mandate. That is a matter for the European Research Community to decide upon. It would be a great strategic mistake to let the publishing industry decide what the research community does in order to maximize the European tax-paying public's return on the euros it invests in supporting research. They are not investing in the publishing industry, and far, far more is at stake than the publishing industry's concerns about possible risks to its revenue streams.

Comprehensive collection of academic blogs

The best collection of academic blogs I've yet seen is the Academic Blog Portal. Better yet, it's a wiki, so it has a chance of growing as large as it takes and staying up to date. Add your own! (Thanks to Steven Bell.)

Praise for the AnthroSource support for FRPAA

Eric Kansa, Important Development with Anthropology and FRPAA, Digging Digitally, October 6, 2006. Excerpt:

Here is yet another interesting development in the world of Anthropology as it relates to the FRPAA (Federal Research Public Access Act). As many will remember, the American Anthropological Association came out in public opposition to FRPAA. In part, the AAA based its opposition to FRPPA because of a perceived threat to the financial sustainability of AnthroSource, its digital dissemination system (see their FAQ). As reported in the “Savage Minds” blog, the AnthroSource Steering Committee was not consulted on this decision.

Now, in an interesting turn of events, the AnthroSource Steering Committee itself has made a public statement strongly and unambiguously in favor of FRPAA. Many of the reasons they cite to support FRPPA mirror discussions shared by Peter Suber, Stevan Harnad and many others (also echoed in this blog here and here). Their endorsement of FRPAA is in direct contradiction to the public position of the executive staff of the AAA. In fact, the AnthroSource Steering Committee is urging the AAA to now reconsider its opposition....

This is indeed a major development for open access in anthropology and related fields. It also shows how the executive staff of learned societies is often at odds with its membership over these issues. I think it is very significant that a major digital dissemination initiative that works on behalf of a learned society has now issued a strong public statement in favor of FRPPA’s open access mandates. The AnthroSource Steering Committee is obviously very well placed to understand these issues. They understand publication business models, sustainability issues, etc. They also understand how openness can be a great tool to further the interests of anthropology and anthropologists. The endorsement of this expert and experienced body is therefore an important development that highlights the value of this legislation....

More evidence that Google Book Search increases book sales

Jeffrey Goldfarb, Book sales get a lift from Google scan plan, Reuters, October 6, 2006. Excerpt:

Publishers are starting to report an uptick in sales from Google Inc.'s online program that lets readers peek inside books, two years after the launch of its controversial plan to digitally scan everything in print.

Google has been enlisting publishers to voluntarily submit their books so that Web searchers can more easily find titles related to their interests, but some fear the project could lead to piracy or exploitation of their copyrighted content.

"Google Book Search has helped us turn searchers into consumers," said Colleen Scollans, the director of online sales for Oxford University Press. 

She declined to provide specific figures, but said that sales growth has been "significant". Scollans estimated that 1 million customers have viewed 12,000 Oxford titles using the Google program....

Some of the same publishers participating in the [voluntary opt-in] program have also united to file a lawsuit against Google alleging copyright violation over a separate [opt-out] plan by the Web search leader to digitize the world's libraries....

Specialty publisher Springer Science + Business reported sales growth of its backlist catalog using Google Book Search, with 99 percent of the 30,000 titles it has in the program getting viewed, including many published before 1992.

"We suspect that Google really helps us sell more books," said Kim Zwollo, Springer's global director of special licensing, declining to provide specific figures because the company is privately owned....

Historical warfare publisher Osprey is reaping the benefits of using both Google and Amazon to boost sales....[S]aid William Shepherd, Osprey's managing director:  "Our sales through the Web are steadily increasing in proportion to our total sales, and we're confident that Google Book Search will accelerate this growth."

Walter de Gruyter/Mouton-De Gruyter, a German publisher, said its encyclopaedia of fairy tales has been viewed 471 times since appearing in the program, with 44 percent of them clicking on the "buy this book" Google link.  One of its many scientific titles, "Principles of Visual Anthropology", has seen about one-quarter of the 1,206 views click on "buy this book". 

Arty coffee-table book publisher teNeues said its online sales have doubled over the past year, attributable primarily to a fresh marketing campaign and inclusion in Google's book search, Chief Executive Hendrik teNeues said.

Update. There's now a Slashdot discussion of Goldfarb's article.

An odd, hidden, permissible new copy of the research literature

Emerald Group Publishing will share its published articles with a plagiarism detection service.  From its October 5 announcement:

Emerald is proud to announce its recent partnership with iParadigms, LLC, developers of the Turnitin plagiarism detection [software]...The Turnitin service has been expanded to include Emerald content since 25 September. This innovative move reinforces Emerald’s proactive stance on plagiarism....

Malik AboRashid, Senior Director of Business Development, from iParadigms says, “This is the first agreement we have signed with a primary academic journal publisher. This ‘industry first’ confirms Emerald’s commitment to supporting integrity in scholarship and their position as a publisher of high quality research....”

Comment.  Emerald will make its published articles available to Turnitin.  (It's unclear whether Turnitin will pay anything for them.)  If other publishers follow suit, then Turnitin will slowly develop an alternative copy of the research corpus.  It won't be accessible to the public, but it will be available for processing by Turnitin and its customers.  Note that this is just what Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and other search engines are seeking.  I have no beef with publishers who strike deals with Turnitin, even if they don't have author consent.  (Published articles, OA or non-OA, have always been susceptible to various forms of plagiarism detection.)  But any publisher willing to make its corpus available for Turnitin indexing should certainly make it available for search indexing as well.  Otherwise the signal is:  we're willing to take an extra step to punish the misuse of our literature but not to promote the use of it.

Anthropology steering committee endorses FRPAA, rebukes leadership

The AnthroSource Steering Committee (ASSC) has publicly released its August 9 letter in support of FRPAA, dissenting from the position taken by its parent organization, the American Anthropological Association (AAA).  (Thanks to Leslie Chan.)  Excerpt:

I am writing at the suggestion of Deborah Heath [member of the AAA Executive Board] who has indicated that it would be useful to have a statement clarifying the views of the AnthroSource Steering Committee regarding FRPAA to which the AAA staff  expressed opposition by signing a letter from the American Association of Publishers (AAP).   Subsequently the AAA staff prepared a FAQ explaining their opposition to the legislation.  The Steering Committee's views on the legislation itself and the substantive issues raised in the AAP letter and the AAA staff FAQ follow....

The ASSC stands in strong support of FRPAA because this legislation provides strategic infrastructure and impetus for achieving AnthroSource's (and the AAA's) mission regarding "increase[d] visibility of and access to anthropological knowledge."  In addition, by removing barriers to access, FRPAA enables the "development of global communities of interest based on anthropological knowledge."

Of foremost importance, this legislation provides scholars increased access to the research of others so that they can build on that work and achieve greater understanding and better outcomes.  Included among those who gain the most are those working outside major research institutions (for example, those working in small to medium size institutions, practicing anthropologists, and those working in developing countries).  Other significant beneficiaries of interest to anthropologists are the communities of people in whose midst and with whose assent and help anthropologists conduct their studies.

Further FRPAA/OA provides authors increased visibility and impact.... 

With more than a decade of experience, there is no evidence that self-archiving reduces subscription revenue even in disciplines where self-archiving is widely practiced.   In the case of the AAA, the 2005 author's agreement provides all AAA authors the right to self-archive their final peer-reviewed manuscripts in repositories simultaneously with publication. As far as we know, this has not had any negative financial impact....

The AAA has placed itself in clear opposition to the academic community and libraries of all types who have publicly voiced unequivocal support for FRPAA.   The open letter from provosts is particularly noteworthy as it signals the intent to re-direct their budgets for scholarly communication toward institutions that support the principles of FRPAA....

We take exception to the AAP letter, which states that FRPAA "would effectively expropriate the substantial investments in peer review made by professional and scholarly journal publishers" on the grounds that it ignores the fact that publishers themselves profit from the availability of royalty-free, publicly financed research that is enhanced by reviewers who are compensated not by publishers but by the institutions in which they work....

The FAQ reinforces the appearance that AAA has placed commercial interests at the forefront of its publications program....

The FRPAA FAQ prepared by AAA staff indicates that "AAA policy support[s] open access objectives."  We acknowledge that the author agreement and the Executive Board motion to allow complete access to institutions in less developed countries, tribal colleges and selected universities in North America are important moves in support of open access.  However, AAA's opposition to FRPAA and the ten-year embargo on Anthropology News for library subscribers are examples of AAA actions that go against the objectives of open access....   

In accordance with the ASSC's responsibility to advise the CSC and Executive Board we recommend the following actions be taken in support of the AnthroSource vision.

That AAA join ranks with university administrators, librarians and various public interest groups in supporting FRPAA....An effective means to do so would be the development of an AAA resolution in support of FRPAA for consideration at the November meeting.

That AAA position itself to become, through AnthroSource, the repository of choice for anthropologists....

That AAA develop a member-informed policy on open access....

Comment.  For background, see my July 2006  article on the decision by AAA leaders to oppose FRPAA without consulting the AAA membership or even the steering committee of AnthroSource, the association's online resource for disseminating scholarship. 

Kudos to the ASSC for speaking out.  Its defense of FRPAA, its reminder that the association should serve its members, and its recommendations for moving forward are judicious and much needed.  I hope it inspires similar actions at the many other societies whose leaders have signed one or another letter opposing FRPAA without consulting their members.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Comments on the EC report's OA recommendations

If you remember the important EC Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication Markets in Europe (dated January 2006 but released in late March), it was followed by a period of public comments on the report's recommendations (March 31 - June 15, 2006).  The EC has now released a summary of the comments received as well as all the individual comments themselves.  Excerpt from the summary:

The issue receiving the most comments is that of access to the results of publicly-funded research. Two of the Study's recommendations relate directly to this topic: recommendation A1 ("Guarantee public access to publicly-funded research results shortly after publication") and recommendation A2 ("Aim at a 'level-playing field' in terms of business models in publishing").

Many of the responses received equate public access as mentioned in recommendation A1 with the principle of "open access", defined by the 2000 Budapest Open Access Initiative as "free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself".

Out of the 170 responses received, 134 support recommendation A1. Within this group, 24 respondents mention the importance of open access to science and scientists in improving the process and the impact of scientific research, while 13 mention the role of open access for the public good in achieving economic and social benefits. Amongst respondents who support open access, the concept also carries a notion of moving forward. As Nobel Prize-winner Richard J. Roberts writes in his contribution, "open access is the only model of the future and the debate should be how we can get there as quickly as possible". In their responses, several research organizations describe ways in which they are already supporting access to the research they fund. The Wellcome Trust writes of the development of the online digital archive UK PubMed Central, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) has already established a policy on free access to research results, and the nuclear research organization CERN implemented a policy on deposit in 2003, a decision which has resulted in a large database of reports on research in high energy physics. Franck Laloë of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in his response points to the value of a European approach to such initiatives: "A European effort in the direction of large open archives could have a tremendous impact".

Of the various possible forms of public access, the strongest support is for the deposit of journal articles in repositories....

The responses display a variety of views on placing a time embargo on public access to research results, some making a case for a delay, others pressing for immediate access....

The implementation of open access principles by public bodies is implicitly or explicitly opposed by 4 respondents (Thieme Publishing, the Biochemical Society, Reed Elsevier, and the Association of American Publishers) and 13 respondents react to open access with caution. Objections to recommendation A1 are mainly in the form of notes of caution against too precipitous action based on a Study which critics view as being flawed. This caution is based on the view that open access puts the existing dissemination of scientific research through subscription journals at risk.

Publishers and publishers' organizations generally argue that their policies improve access and that therefore it is not necessary to follow recommendation A1....

One particular area of concern to some respondents who express caution on access issues is the question of damage to the profitability of journals from small publishing houses....

According to some respondents from library and information organizations, the Commission could support recommendation A2 in discussions with Member States, encouraging national research funding agencies to identify funds for the payment of open access publication charges. The clear identification of funds for this purpose could ease publisher concerns about the future viability of their business and help to create the "level-playing field".

The EC invites discussion of the report on SINAPSE (apparently here but unclear).  The report will also be the subject of an upcoming conference as well. 

Comparing Google Book Search with the European Digital Library

Mariona Vivar Mompel, Google print outshines the European Digital Library, Cafe Babel, October 4, 2006. Excerpt:

In December 2004, Google caught the world by surprise and revealed Google Print, their new project to digitize 15 million books from 5 prestigious English language libraries, over a 6-year period....However, the American giant’s ambition does not end here. It is attending the Frankfurt Book Fair to convince European publishing houses to digitize and include their most recent publications in Google. Thus, when an Internet user types in the keywords of a recent work, Google will provide a 5-page sample and a link to the main libraries, bookshops and online sales portals where the book can be found. Publishing houses love the idea, since they can keep the rights on the books and get a great deal of free publicity on the web.

On the other side of the pond, the first person to raise a hue and cry was the President of the French National Library (BNF), Jean-Noël Jeanneney. He warned European cultural institutions of the damage that could be caused by Google’s hegemony in the so-called “knowledge digitization” market. At the time, the majority of the works of the Google Library were in English.

Nevertheless, the American company is striving to conquer the European market. Madrid’s Complutense University has just signed a contract with Google to digitize 300,000 volumes from its library, at a rate of up to 3000 a day, over a 6 year period....

Since 2004, the sluggish European machinery is moving to compete with Google thanks to the European Digital Library. This project will offer “a shared multilingual access point that allows online exploration of a wide cultural heritage,” that is today scattered throughout the archives of different bodies across Europe. The national libraries of several countries have started to digitize their holdings....In 2008, the European Library (TEL) portal should offer a multilingual access to a minimum of two million electronic books from the collections of the 19 European national libraries....

Nevertheless, the European Digital Library is still a work in progress. The European Commission, in an August 2006 recommendation to member states, pointed out that it was necessary to increase efforts on a national level to overcome the obstacles to the creation of the library....

Google subpoenas OCA documents

Elise Ackerman, Google seeks rivals' data for lawsuit over libraries, Mercury News, October 5, 2006 . Excerpt:

Google is subpoenaing documents from its two biggest competitors, Microsoft and Yahoo, in an effort to defend itself in copyright lawsuits filed against it by publishers and authors....

The [plaintiff] publishers support a separate book-scanning effort, known as the Open Content Alliance, that was conceived by Yahoo and the non-profit Internet Archive, and that seeks explicit permission from copyright holders. The alliance has promised to make books available to all search engines.  Microsoft joined the alliance last year and has said it will launch its own book project similar to Google's.

According to filings in U.S. District Court in New York, Google wants Yahoo and Microsoft to provide descriptions of their projects, as well as documents that show they have legal rights to the books that are included in the project....

Google also said it would subpoena documents from Amazon, Random House and the Association of American Publishers. In a statement, Google said that confidential documents it is requesting would be filed under a protective order that would tightly restrict who could see them.

Still, Google's requests may be hard to fulfill. According to librarians participating in Google's project, the legal status of some older books can be hard to determine....

In an interview with the Mercury News last year, Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, said he was concerned how accessible a digital library run by Google would be.  "Is the library of the future going to be open?'' Kahle said. "Or will it be controlled by a couple of big corporate players?''

Comment. This is interesting for several reasons.  First, it suggests that settlement talks have broken down.  Second, it suggests that Google thinks there might be some advantage in showing that the permission-seekers at the OCA don't always have the permissions they claim.  Of course the virtues or vices of a third party wouldn't normally be relevant.  But Google's strategy might be to show that the plaintiff publishers are voluntarily cooperating with practices substantially similar to its own.  Third, even if Google can show lapses at OCA, with publisher acquiescence, I doubt that that will suffice; or if it suffices for these plaintiffs, it won't for the next ones.  The publishers may need clean hands, but Google will eventually have to show fair use --and BTW I think it can.  However, if it can prove fair use, then it can leave the OCA out of it.  Fourth, the OCA has invited Google to join the organization, and as far as I know Google still hasn't made up its mind.  These subpoenas, and the implicit intent to smear the OCA for a small tactical advantage, may fracture whatever cordiality there was in their relationship and make future Google membership even less likely.

I'd like to see Google avoid two kinds of mud here.  First, the OCA is a first-rate organization that shouldn't be muddied by someone else's fight.  Second, Google has a strong case and I want to see it prove fair use, cleanly and decisively, without muddying the issue.

OA to contact info for public employees

Michael Cross, Why Sir Humphrey won't give us his phone number, The Guardian, October 5, 2006.  Excerpt:

If you have £70 to spare, you could buy access to what the government calls "the official online directory for all government departments, executive agencies and related organisations" which you can find at at the Civil Service Year Book web page....

We argue that this data should be available for free. As well as strengthening public accountability, free access to lists of public officials would allow the start-up of new online businesses based on public sector information - the case at the heart of Technology Guardian's Free Our Data campaign....

OPSI [Office of Public Sector Information] says that the contents are crown copyright and, as "value added" rather than raw data, are not available under a free "click use" electronic licence.

But freedom of information campaigners say this restriction is outrageous. They point to the growing practice in the US, where organisations such as the City of Seattle publish a directory of all public employees online....

The two possible arguments against making the data available for free - that they might impinge on personal data, or that they might help terrorists - have no merit. In the first case, the data are not personal but about public servants. In the second, the data are already available: a £70 hurdle is hardly a deterrent.

The suspicion with the current arrangement is that Sir Humphrey feels comfortable sharing his phone number with someone who has £70 in their pocket - but not with unwashed trolls on the web.

Jean-Claude Bradley on open source science

Interview with Jean-Claude Bradley, Drexel CoAS E-Learning Transcripts, October 6, 2006. Excerpt:
What was your motivation behind making this project like open source science and what was your thinking behind doing it that way?
Well if you work in a lab for a couple of years one thing you realize is almost everything that you do doesn't get published because the experiments are either failed or they're sub optimal in some way and they have to be repeated. And they also have to make a story. So even though you may have done a reaction and we do organic chemistry so it's all reactions that actually worked if it doesn't fit into a bigger story that you can write up you really can't publish it. So what we're doing is we're not avoiding publishing normal articles it's just that we're basically putting our lab book on the wiki directly so that people can benefit immediately on a day to day basis.
Why do you think that open source science is going to be helpful in the future as compared to today's science broadcasting terms.

Well again I don't think it's an either or proposition we're not really replacing what people are doing right now. We are just adding to it. We're just making stuff available publicly that is normally not available. And there is a couple of reasons for wanting to do that. One of them obviously is you want people to understand what you're doing, be able to comment on it and you being able to help other people with their experiments. But another thing that I think is going to become important in the next few years is the integration with automation. So that right now my students are publishing experiments so that over time hopefully we will be getting machines to be publishing and reading experiments....[O]ne of the big things that I see coming in the next few years [is] the integration of open source science with a lot of automation....

Python code for harvesting OAI-compliant repositories

Rufus Pollock, Accessing open access repositories using the python oaipmh package, miscellaneous factZ, October 6, 2006. Excerpt:

The Open Access Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAIPMH) is growing rapidly as the standard web protocol for making metadata, primarily bibliographic information, available online for programmatic access and I’ve long meant to write something that would allow be to pull information down from remote repositories into my local bibliographic database automatically (it would save an awful lot of typing).

I’ve mentioned the oaipmh package provided by before however the documentation they provide has got rather out of date and though I’ve made a few attempts I’ve never quite been able to get it to work. However after a bit more effort recently with the newer v2.0+ of the package I’ve managed to get something basic working which you can find [here]....

More on central v. distributed OA archiving

Stevan Harnad, Preprints, Postprints, Peer Review, and Institutional vs. Central Self-Archiving, Open Access Archivangelism, October 6, 2006.  A response to Paul Ginsparg's As We May Read.  Excerpt:

Summary:  Arxiv is a Central Repository (CR) in which physicists have been self-archiving their unrefereed preprints and their peer-reviewed postprints since 1991. There is now a growing movement toward distributed Institutional Repositories (IRs). Thanks to the OAI Protocol, all OAI-compliant IRs and CRs are now interoperable: their metadata can be harvested into search engines that treat all of their contents as if they were in one big virtual CR. What authors self-archive is their peer-reviewed publications, not just their unrefereed preprints. An archive is merely a repository, not a certifier of having met a peer-reviewed journal's quality standards.

Since the research institutions themselves are the primary research providers, with the direct interest in maximising the uptake and usage of their own research output, the natural place for them to deposit their own output is in their own IRs. Any central collections can be harvested via OAI. Institutions are also best placed to monitor and reward compliance with self-archiving mandates, both their own institutional mandates and those of the funders of their institutional research output. Arxiv has played an important role in getting us where we are, but it is likely that the era of CRs is coming to a close, and the era of distributed, interoperable IRs is now coming into its own in an entirely natural way, in keeping with the distributed nature of the Net/Web itself.

More on Perelman, self-archiving, and journal support

Jan Velterop, Perelmanian Probity, The Parachute, October 2, 2006. Excerpt:

On Saturday September 30, 2006, there was an item on Peter Suber’s Open Access News blog about Perelman, the reclusive Russian mathematician who published his proof of the Poincaré Conjecture not in a formal peer-reviewed journal but just in ar?iv. That’s very nice of him, because ar?iv is open access so the entire world can see what his proof is. He clearly doesn’t need to have his work formally published....

Why don’t more physicists and mathematicians do this – publishing just in ar?iv and not in a formal peer-reviewed journal? Why don’t researchers in other disciplines do it – publishing just in an open repository and not in a formal journal?

Well, Perelman is a pretty unique individual....Few researchers can afford not to publish in formal journals.  For most researchers the adage is ‘publish or perish’. And ‘publish’ here means publish formally in a peer-reviewed journal.

It used to be so that in order to avoid perishing, most ‘non-perelmanic’ authors had to strike what has been called a ‘Faustian Bargain’. As in any bargain, it involved receiving and paying. An author could get published, but had to ‘pay’ with giving up the right to distribute the article himself, and give the journal publisher that exclusive right. I use the past tense, because there is an increasing number of possibilities now to make the bargain less of a Faustian and more of a fair one: get published in a formal peer-reviewed journal and pay the publisher for the service of arranging it all.

And there is of course what might be called the Mercurian Method of having one’s cake and eating it: publish in a traditional formal journal and subsequently in an open repository without paying anybody in any way, and taking the gamble that someone else – anybody else – will keep alive the formal peer-reviewed journals that most researchers continue to need as long as ‘publish (in those formally peer-reviewed journals) or perish’ remains the rule. It's possible of course that someone will. It's also possible to win the national lottery. If one is not prepared to pay in any way, Perelmanian Probity is better than a bet.

Hiring an IR manager

If your institution is hiring someone to manage (and champion) the institutional repository, Dorothea Salo has some advice.

Present and future benefits of OA

Matthew J. Cockerill and Vitek Tracz, Open Access and the Future of the Scientific Research Article, Journal of Neuroscience, October 4, 2006.  Excerpt:

Open access to the scientific literature remains a controversial area. To adequately summarize the different arguments and opinions on the matter could easily fill an entire book (Willinsky, 2005). In this commentary, we present the perspective of an open access publisher....

In the early days of the open access movement, critics expressed concern about the likely quality of peer review under an open access model. The Thomson-ISI statistics (such as the Genome Biology 2005 impact factor of 9.71) have mostly addressed such criticisms, however....

Another frequently raised concern is that open access might not be economically viable or affordable by the scientific community. However, two reports on the economics of science publishing, commissioned by the Wellcome Trust (2003) and by the European Commission (European Commission Directorate-General for Research, 2004), have both concluded that open access publishing can be expected to be more efficient than the traditional model and so should, in fact, be more affordable for the scientific community....Hindawi Publishing Corporation...already operates a profitable commercial open access publishing business....

An important factor in the recent growth of open access is active support from research funders. Major research funders are no longer willing to let publishers tell them what they can and cannot do with their own research, and this has resulted not just in words but in concrete actions by funding agencies that are determined to maximize access to the research that they have funded....

One of the most direct demonstrations of the progress of open access in recent years is the sustained and rapid growth in submissions to the BioMed Central open access journals over the 6 year period since launch (Fig. 1)....

There are many important benefits of open access that have helped to drive its adoption. Immediate barrier-free access to previous publications certainly makes the research process more efficient. The lack of barriers is especially important in facilitating work that spans multiple disciplines (for example, computer scientists and mathematicians need easy access to the latest biological research if they are to be able to effectively spot opportunities for collaboration with biologists in areas such as systems biology). Open access also particularly helps those at less well funded institutions, and in developing countries, whose access under the traditional model is especially constrained. The transparency of the "article processing charge" also promises to deliver a more efficient marketplace for scientific publications, keeping costs down.

There is another reason, however, why open access is not just desirable but critical to the future of biomedical research. The rate at which biomedical knowledge is being generated is exploding....The only feasible solution to this problem is to develop better systems to help researchers work with the literature. Ideally, the current state of biological knowledge, as reported in peer-reviewed research articles, needs to be captured by automated tools that will allow researchers to easily identify relevant facts, conflicts, or correlations, wherever they may be hidden.

An important consequence is that, in the future, the readership of research articles will include not only humans but also the many computerized systems that will be scanning the literature to add the relevant material to their knowledgebase. Open access to raw data and to original research articles is critically important to the development of such tools (Table 1), which is why BioMed Central makes its entire full text XML corpus of >18,000 articles freely available for download and mining....

Perhaps in the future, an important part of publishing a scientific paper will be to ensure that the pertinent new "facts" reported in the paper are expressed in an unambiguous way so as to facilitate their interpretation by automated systems....BioMed Central is actively working, both with the academic community and with other publishers, to develop standards and tools for the semantic enrichment of the scientific literature....

More on the pricing crisis

Anthea Lipsett, Journals spending soars to £100m, squeezing book budgets, Times Higher Education Supplement, October 6, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers).  (Thanks to Colin Steele.)  Excerpt:

Academics and universities spend nearly £100 million a year subscribing to journals, according to the latest figures reported by the Research Information Network.

The report on scholarly journals says that the number of serial subscriptions has more than doubled over the past ten years to a mean value of 6,900 titles per institution, costing UK universities and academics £94.5 million in subscriptions in 2003-04....

Toby Bainton, secretary of the Society of College, National and University Libraries, said: "It's a lot of money and it's a monopoly product. If you want the journal Brain Research, you can't think 'that's too expensive, I'll buy another' because only that one will do."

Over the past ten years, library expenditure as a proportion of total university spending has gone down from just over 3 per cent to just under 3 per cent, he said. But, over the past five years, the amount universities spend on books and journals has risen 13.6 per cent. The price of serial subscriptions has gone up by 50 per cent.

"There's something unsustainable in the system and it will have to be addressed, or things will go badly wrong," Mr Bainton said....

The report does not disaggregate the amount spent by universities from individual subscriptions. But it said that half of all researchers struggle to access research journals....

Launch of Current BioData

Current BioData is a new member of the Science Navigation Group, and hence a new sibling to BioMed Central and Chemistry Central.  It just appointed its senior management team and is gearing up to launch some OA journals and databases in 2007.  Watch for it.

More misunderstanding

Ehsan Masood, The cost of freedom in the digital age, openDemocracy, October 3, 2006.  Excerpt:

As Caroline Michel of the William Morris literary "talent and literary agency" in London said at the [September 29] launch of [Rosemary Bechler's] Unbounded Freedom, there is as yet no agreed creative-commons model for content production, far less one which adequately rewards an author, inventor or innovator. Indeed, the opposite of this is the core principle of open-access publishing; instead of being rewarded, an author or a scientist is required to have to pay to have his or her ideas disseminated....

Free dissemination systems such as open access and creative commons are good and should be supported. The most excluded in society will benefit from not having to pay. But creative commons is not the right alternative to rewarding content-creators and innovators.


  1. Caroline Michel is uninformed.  She's clearly thinking of open-access journals that charge author-side fees.  But she's unaware (1) that the majority of OA journals charge no author-side fees at all, (2) that when fees are charged, they are usually paid by funders or employers, not by authors, and (3) that open-access archiving, like publishing in the majority of OA journals, costs authors nothing.
  2. Masood seems unaware that scientists and scholars are not paid for their journal articles and write for impact, not for money.  Musicians and movie-makers may need a financial reward system to motivate their creative production (I have no opinion on that), but for 350 years, since the launch of the first scientific journals, researchers have not. 

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Publisher resistance to legal copying in Germany

Martin Schneider, “We don’t want to stand in the way of the digital era”, Cafe Babel, October 4, 2006.  An interview with German publisher, Georg Siebeck.  Excerpt:

The government wants the German copyright laws to adapt to the digital era much to the dismay of publishers. It’s been 3 years since the controversial article 52a of copyright laws was introduced and the limited digital duplication of works made possible....German academic publishers are against this new law and are worried about its consequences. Georg Siebeck, head of the academic publishers ‘Mohr Siebeck’ and spokesperson for the ‘Publishers and Academics for a Fair Copyright’ explains why.

Mr Siebeck, why do academic publishers feel threatened by the new copyright laws?

Article 52a allows university lecturers to digitalize a chapter of a textbook and post it on the intranet, either as a handout for students or for his international research colleges. According to the law, he need not register or declare such usage.

You also criticise the planned 52b article which allows library books to be displayed in a digital format.

Initially we supported this idea, as a way of reinforcing a library’s role in society. We are worried however about ownership issues because libraries can only digitalize books they own. In addition, we wanted to limit electronic access to digital copies of book. If a library is only able to make one copy of a book available, only one electronic copy should be made accessible. Both of these aspects seem to have been forgotten by the legislators....

What sort of new model do you foresee for the publishing business?

It’s feasible that Universities will apply for on-campus licences for educational literature, where the price of these licences will depend on the number of students studying a given subject. There will still be external readers and we will therefore print sections out. In the meantime we just have to be careful and not cannibalise printed works with our digital versions. This is why the question of ownership is so important.  We don’t want to stand in the way of digital era because the advantages of electronic search possibilities are considerable. Our task is ultimately to deliver important information and not to conceal it.

OA removes obstacles to long-term preservation

Anne R. Kenney and four co-authors, E-Journal Archiving Metes and Bounds: A Survey of the Landscape, CLIR, September 2006. A major (120 pp.) new report on the long-term preservation of e-journals.  Among its conclusions:  (1) current publisher licenses block efforts at long-term preservation, (2) OA can facilitate preservation by removing the permission barriers that now obstruct it, and (3) OA repositories can play a role but shouldn't be the only solution.

Another provost for FRPAA

Mary B. Marcy, Provost of Simon's Rock College of Bard, has added her signature to the SPARC list of U.S. university presidents and provosts endorsing open access to publicly-funded research and the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (FRPAA).

How not to defend traditional peer review

The staff of the Harvard Crimson has written an editorial condemning journals, like PLoS ONE, that use open review. 

I have no problem with arguments for traditional peer review, just as I have no problem with arguments for innovative new forms of peer review.  It's a healthy debate on which I don't take sides because open access is compatible with both.

But this editorial fails two counts.  First, it confuses open review with non-review.  Second, it assumes that all online-only journals (open access and subscription-based) use open review --i.e. that traditional peer review requires print.  

Note to the editors:  do your homework, or try peer review, especially if you're going to lard your argument with self-congratulations ("Getting into Harvard is hard, very hard....But getting a scientific paper published in Science or Nature, today's pre-eminent scientific journals, is oftentimes harder....Science has its own admissions committees....")

Update. Mike Eisen, Harvard grad and PLoS co-founder, skewers the editorial in a letter to the editor, October 13, 2006.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

OA research at the David Suzuki Foundation

David Suzuki, founder of the foundation named after him, made it clear in a blog posting last Friday that his work is open access.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody and the Beached Librarian.)  Excerpt:

Recently, news blogs and newspapers reported that some politicians had cribbed research conducted by my foundation and used the information to build their own environmental agendas.

This news sent many a blogger all atwitter. While some of them focused on whether or not the information had been adequately referenced, others decried this action on the part of the politicians as proving that they had no ideas of their own, so they had to steal them from others.

Allow me to clear something up right now. To all politicians looking for ways to reduce our footprint on nature...: Knock yourselves out. Feel free to steal, pilfer, borrow, rent, filch or otherwise take any research my foundation does and put it to good use.

This may seem obvious to some, but the whole point of conducting and publishing this research is to get people to actually use it. As public education, it helps raise awareness of environmental problems. But more important, it provides solutions to those problems. And most of those solutions are best implemented by our political and business leaders, rather than by individuals.

So if you ask me if it bothers me that politicians are stealing the solutions brought forward by my foundation, the answer is no. To use a computer term, we consider this information “open source.” It’s a free buffet; please take all you like. The whole reason why we do the research is to effect change. If those who have the power to make those solutions happen actually use that information, so much the better. This is how change happens....

Central v. distributed OA archiving in France

Stevan Harnad, France's HAL, OAI interoperability, and Central vs Institutional Repositories, Open Access Archivangelism, October 4, 2006. Excerpt:
Summary:  France's HAL is a large national repository for research output with enriched metadata. Like all other countries, France clearly needs self-archiving mandates from its research institutions and funders. The question is whether the mandates should be to deposit directly in HAL, or in each researcher's own Institutional Repository (from which HAL could then harvest the contents). Franck Laloë of CCSD replies to some questions about HAL.

PLoS author wins Nobel Prize

Unlike Harold Varmus, Richard Roberts, and many others, who won their Nobel prizes first and endorsed OA second, Craig Mello did it the other way around.  This is a sign that OA is coming of age.

Mello and Andrew Fire won the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, and Mello published one of his relevant papers in PLoS Biology.  (Thanks to Chris Surridge.)  Congratulations to Mello, Fire, and PLoS.

Brochure on the EC Digital Library Initiative

The EC i2010 project has published a brochure on its Digital Library Initiative.  If you've been confused (like me) about this project's many parts, and its relations to many kindred projects, you'll find the brochure very helpful.  It includes a page (p. 12) on OA repositories for scientific research.  

More on DRIVER

SURF has issued a press release on the DRIVER project, October 3, 2006. Excerpt:

The successful SURF DARE project (Digital Academic Repositories) has resulted in a European successor under the name DRIVER. In the DARE project, the universities in the Netherlands provided free digital access to all their research results. The aim of the European DRIVER project is to create a single, large-scale virtual content resource that provides access to all European research materials. DAREnet, the network of repositories in the Netherlands that provides easy access to Dutch scientific materials, is its source of inspiration and its guiding example. SURF is an important partner in this project that is funded by the European Commission.

The “Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research” (DRIVER) project responds to the vision that any form of scientific-content resource, including scientific/technical reports, research articles, experimental or observational data, rich media and other digital objects should be freely accessible through simple Internet-based infrastructures. DRIVER enables researchers to plug into the European knowledge infrastructure, gaining access to the scientific content of others on the one hand, and providing access to their own scientific content on the other, in a standardised, open way. Open Access to research information is vital for researchers and helps the public appreciation and understanding of science.

The project is a joint collaboration between ten international partners with the intention to create a knowledge base of European research. DRIVER will put a test-bed in place across Europe to assist the development of a knowledge infrastructure for the European Research Area. The project will develop over the next 18 months, building upon existing institutional repositories and networks, from countries including the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium and the UK. This network of repositories allows the publication of any form of scientific-content resource, including scientific/technical reports, research articles and experimental or observational data....

More on Cornell's Internet First University Press

J. Robert Cooke and Kenneth M. King, Creating an Open Access Paradigm for Scholarly Publishing, the final report on Cornell's Internet First University Press, for its funding agency, August 15, 2006.
Abstract:    This is the final report for the Atlantic Philanthropies funded study, "Creating an Open Access Paradigm for Scholarly Publishing" (October 2002 thru June 2006). The DSpace digital repository, created at the MIT library, was implemented at Cornell University as one of the initial DSpace sites. We explored its usage as a repository and as a publishing distribution platform for low-cost (royalty-free) open access publishing that encompasses all disciplines and is openly accessible worldwide. We were especially interested in exploring how the Internet might be used to fundamentally improve communication among universities and with the rest of society. We commissioned some financial studies and held some workshops. We describe some models for lowering costs for university presses, libraries, and the universities that exploit attributes of online publishing that were not feasible with a paper-based model. In particular, we urge a fresh look at the system, not individual campus, level for potential savings. We explored ways to encourage a shift in the faculty's willingness to effectively utilize this digital repository -- including a shift in emphasis from archiving to include online publishing. We published traditional materials, but also gave strong emphasis to multimedia materials as an alternative to print volumes that are expensive for publishing limited audience content. Video, until quite recently, has been very expensive, but that barrier can now be easily overcome. To encourage faculty participation we provided print-on-demand perfect binding and DVDs as a higher resolution (but more expensive and requiring a user fee) service. Eventually, we think, there will be a growing acceptance by faculty for online searching and browsing, with a need only for paying a user fee only for intensively used materials or otherwise for higher resolution presentations. Our content can be found [here, here, and here]. 

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Survey on academic publishing

Phil Cadigan has posted the results of a survey he announced on the American Scientist Open Access Forum and LibLicense. Excerpt:

5. Briefly defined, ‘Open Access’ is a term for published material that is available to readers at no cost. (Please check all that apply.)

83% I am familiar with the concept of ‘Open Access’ as it applies to scholarly publishing.
27% I have been invited to participate in open access processes.
29% I have participated in open access processes.

6. Please choose the answer that best describes your attitude to the following statement: “I support ‘Open Access’ as a model for publishing in my area of specialization.”

56% Strongly Agree
21% Agree
19% Neither Agree Nor Disagree
0% Disagree
4% Strongly Disagree

Overview of the players in the FRPAA debate

Laura Ascione, Open-access bill divides schools, publishers, eSchool News, October 2, 2006.  Excerpt:

Universities and publishers of scholarly journals are at odds over a recently proposed Senate bill that would require institutions conducting research funded with federal tax dollars to publish their findings free of charge online, no more than six months after their publication elsewhere....

[U]niversities and education groups overwhelmingly support the bill, believing it will further the advancement of knowledge worldwide.

Publishers of scholarly journals, on the other hand, fear the bill will undermine their business....

"Our bill simply says to all researchers who seek government funding that we want the results of your work to be seen by the largest possible audience. It will ensure that U.S. taxpayers do not have to pay twice for the same research--once to conduct it, and a second time to read it," said [Senator John] Cornyn in introducing the bill.

Opponents of the bill say scholarly journal subscriptions will suffer. They also claim the bill threatens to undermine the value of peer review by removing publishers' incentive and their ability to sustain investments in a range of scientific, technical, and medical publishing activities....

Those supporting the bill maintain that providing this "open access" to research results will help disseminate knowledge--and that scholarly journals are becoming increasingly too expensive for libraries and schools to afford.

In an open letter to the higher-education community, the provosts of more than 20 universities, including Pennsylvania State University, Harvard University, Syracuse University, and the University of Rochester, voiced support for the bill and its potential to increase the flow of information and produce more research-oriented discussions....

In another show of support, 56 liberal-arts college presidents sent an open letter to the higher-education community backing the legislation.

"The Federal Research Public Access Act would be a major step forward in ensuring equitable online access to research literature that is paid for by taxpayers," the letter says. "Given the scope of research literature that would become available online, it is clear that the adoption of the bill would have significant benefits for the progress of science and the advancement of knowledge."

Said David Pershing, senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Utah: "No longer will knowledge created using public funds be limited to the wealthiest institutions and corporations. With everyone having access to up-to-date information, I am confident we will see a higher level of scientific research and innovation. This is a remarkable opportunity for educators and students across the nation."

Other supporters of the bill include the American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries, Association of College and Research Libraries, Association of Research Libraries, Medical Library Association, Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, and the Special Libraries Association

Blogging dip

I'll be on the road for the next three days with intermittent opportunities to blog. I'll start to catch up on Friday.

Wellcome Trust OA mandate is one year old

Stevan Harnad, The Wellcome Trust Open Access Self-Archiving Mandate at Age One, Open Access Archivangelism, October 3, 2006. Excerpt:

One year old this month, the Wellcome Trust's is still not the optimal Open Access (OA) self-archiving mandate because:

(1) it should instead require the depositing to be done in the author's own Institutional Repository (IR) (thereafter harvestable to PubMed Central therefrom) rather than requiring direct central deposit; and
(2) it should require the deposit to be done immediately upon acceptance for publication, permitting the 6-month delay only in the setting of Access to Open Access (versus Closed Access), rather than permitting the depositing itself to be delayed.
But it's a damn good mandate just the same, and an inspiration and encouragement to research funders and research institutions the world over (as long as it's upgraded to include (1) and (2))!

Five OA mandates now at work in the UK

October 1st 2006: a big day for open access, a press release from BioMed Central, October 1, 2006.  Excerpt:

October 1st 2006 is a major milestone for the open access movement. There are now five major UK research funders that require open access to the published results of all the research that they fund.

The Medical Research Council (MRC), Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) and National Environmental Research Council (NERC) have all introduced policies requiring deposition in an open access repository, which took effect on October 1st 2006. These new policies come into effect on the anniversary of the introduction of the Wellcome Trust's policy on open access, on October 1st 2005.

The mainstream acceptance of the need for open access means that there has never been a better time to publish with BioMed Central, the pioneering open access publisher. BioMed Central journals offer high quality, rapid publication, and great value for money. All our journals offer full open access to all research articles with no strings attached, and meet the criteria of the Wellcome Trust, MRC, BBSRC, ESRC and NERC open access policies, automatically depositing articles in PubMed Central on behalf of the author....

New report on scholarly journal publishing

UK scholarly journals: 2006 baseline report An evidence evidence-based analysis of data concerning scholarly journal publishing, a new report prepared by Electronic Publishing Services (EPS), in association with Charles Oppenheim, and published by the Research Information Network (RIN), October 3, 2006.  The body of the report (3.79 MB) is separate from the appendix (2.88 MB).  Excerpt:

The objective of this report is to audit and evaluate the available evidence relating to scholarly journals publishing, and furthermore to distil what we do and do not currently know for certain about this market.

The report provides a snapshot of the evidence base about the scholarly journal publishing process and seeks to provide a basis of shared knowledge which policy-makers and research funders can draw on to consider if and how the system might develop, to ensure that the research publishing process delivers best value and best practice....

The report authoritative a base of evidence as concurrently be constructed in the key areas of:

  • the volume and value of the academic journal market, including such key issues as the splits between commercial and learned society publishers, and between print and electronic revenues; acquisition and cancellation trends; the split of publisher revenues between academic, corporate and personal subscribers; and the value of pay-per-view sales
  • journal supply-side economics, including the effort and costs incurred by researchers and by publishers as part of their contribution to the publishing process; any differences between commercial and learned society publishers; and costs of launching new products
  • usage, including the split between the leading journals and the rest; the extent and potential of unmet demand; and the barriers to that demand
    being met
  • citations and impact factors, and such key issues as whether articles in subscription journals are more likely to be cited than those in open access
    journals, or vice versa; any resultant variation in impact factors; and any relationships between citations and impact factors on the one hand, and
    large-scale collaborative research on the other
  • disciplinary differences, and whether there are significant differences between researchers as readers or authors in different disciplines 
  • costs and impact of open access journals and of digital repositories, and the differences between these new models and of publishing conventional

Whilst some evidence does suggest that [OA] repositories are an important new factor in the journal cancellation decision process, and one which is growing in significance, there is no research reporting actual or even intended journal subscription cancellation as a consequence of the growth of OA self-archived repositories.

Subscriptions are reported to have been declining over a period of 10+ years, but for a number of reasons. Proving or disproving a link between availability in selfarchived repositories and cancellations will be difficult without long and rigorous research. In this connection, the outcome of research recently announced by the Research Councils UK (RCUK),1 with the co-operation of Macmillan, Blackwell and Elsevier, will be eagerly awaited, even though a report is not due until late 2008.

There is no evidence as yet to demonstrate any relationship (or lack of relationship) between subscription cancellations and repositories. Work in this field would need sufficient, representative and balanced samples, and the collaboration of all stakeholders, including especially research institutions and publishers. Any such study will need to be maintained over a fairly extended period, with regular reports, since it seems likely that the position could change with time if the contents of self-archiving repositories become progressively more comprehensive....

Comment. The report takes at face value the 2004 Cornell calculation that high-output research universities will pay more for OA journals (in author-side fees for their faculty) than they pay now in subscriptions.  That is, the report does not acknowledge or correct the known flaws in the calculation, the two largest of which are (1) the assumption that 100% of OA journals would charge author-side fees (when only a minority do so today) and (2) the assumption that 100% fees would be paid by universities (when universities pay almost none today and a growing number of funding agencies have expressed their willingness to pay them). 

Update. EPS has posted a set of PPT slides summarizing the report.

Interview with Paul Ayris on OA, journals, repositories, and the future

Elspeth Hyams, Moving beyond e-journals, Library and Information Update, October 2006.  An interview with Paul Ayris, Director of Library Services at University College London.  (Thanks to Martin Moyle.)  Excerpt:

The open access movement represents ‘a tremendous revolution’, according to Dr Paul Ayris, Director of Library Services, UCL (University College London), and it is as important as the internet. ‘If the internet is about connectivity and the network and technical side, open access is about the content you access and use once you have the connectivity – the two go hand in hand.’For that reason, it’s not just a research concern, it’s a social issue, he says. It’s about ‘the cost of citizenship, including the cost of the information you need to get hold of to exercise your rights as a citizen’. And it is about freedom of information. For that reason, he is ‘puzzled’ why more isn’t made of it, as the key that unlocks access for everyone....

According to recent research by OCLC, only two per cent of students in colleges find material that the library purchases using the library’s catalogue. And that represents a real challenge: ‘If you don’t mobilise this revolution – which is here, happening now – the information that is available in libraries and information centres is going to be invisible to the general population. It’s not something you can stop. So how to harness it and make it available is the question.’ ...

A hybrid journal program from the Royal Society of Chemistry

The Royal Society of Chemistry has launched its own hybrid journal program.  From today's press release:

Authors of RSC journal papers can now choose to have their research freely available the moment it is published – for a fee.... 

The RSC has been critical of such open access (OA) publishing models in the past but Robert Parker, RSC publishing’s editorial director, said the move was business-minded to keep RSC publishing competitive. ‘We need to position ourselves so that we have a basis for any potential new source of income or financial model,’ he said, ‘within the remit of serving the chemistry community and disseminating chemistry.’ 

In the same vein as the ACS model, the RSC will offer authors whose papers have satisfied the peer review process the option to pay a fee for their article to be made freely available. The basic fee for a primary research article will be £1600....

Despite the increasing emergence of OA publishing, neither the RSC nor ACS is optimistic about its financial benefits or popularity among the chemistry community. Parker told Chemistry World that he predicted a low uptake of fewer than 100 OA papers in the next year and warned that any quick move to the full OA scenario would pose ‘a challenge to learned societies’.... 

The RSC posting today on CHMINF has more detail:

RSC Open Science goes one step further than similar services provided by other chemical science publishers -- all article types, not just primary research papers, published in RSC Journals are eligible for inclusion in this scheme. This ensures that the RSC continues to support all authors at every stage of their research programme....

Authors who have published their work in RSC journals will also be able to retrospectively apply for their work to be included in the scheme.

Fees for RSC Open Science in 2007 are dependent on the article type published:

  • Communications £1000
  • Primary Paper £1600
  • Review £2500

A 15% discount will be applied to fees for authors who are RSC members [and some others].

There are still more details on the RSC Open Science FAQ:

Where can I post any articles of mine that are freely available as a result of my having paid the RSC Open Science fee?  In consideration of the RSC Open Science fee the RSC will make freely available the final published version in all online formats on the RSC’s website for an unlimited period of time. The RSC will deposit the accepted author version of the paper in selected repository(ies); no embargo period applies where the RSC Open Science fee has been paid. You may deposit the accepted version of the submitted article in other repository(ies) as required, with no embargo period, except that you are not permitted to deposit your work in any commercial service....

If I opt for free publication, where and when will my article be made freely available? The RSC will deposit the accepted version of the submitted paper in repository(ies) as deemed appropriate, and the paper will be made available with an embargo of making this available to the public after 12 months....

What can I do with the PDF article that the RSC makes available upon publication?  You may archive the PDF version of your article on your personal website, via the INTRAnet of your organisation, and via any internal website that your university may have for the deposition of theses.

Will RSC take author-pays revenues into account in setting future journal prices?  Yes, but with the caveat that, along with many other publishers, RSC considers the author-pays open access model to be an experiment rather than a proven business model. Running this model alongside the normal subscription route for access represents a risk, and the RSC reserves the right to withdraw the author-pays open access model at any stage. 


  1. First note that the Royal Society of Chemistry is not the same as the Royal Society, which launched its own hybrid program in June.
  2. RSC will not apparently let participating authors retain copyright or use CC or equivalent licenses on their articles.  Nor will it waive the fee in cases of economic hardship.  RSC will provide OA to the published edition, but even paying authors may only deposit the peer-reviewed manuscript, not the published edition, in an OA repository.  Authors who don't pay the fee may only self-archive with a 12 month embargo, which is a retreat from RSC's previous green policy.  RSC will consider reducing its subscription prices in proportion to author uptake, but doesn't say that it will actually do so.  It looks like authors will have to pay the RSC for the right to comply with a funder OA mandate, at least if the funder wants OA sooner than 12 months after publication.  This is one of the least author-friendly hybrid programs yet.  For more details on these criteria, see my nine questions for hybrid journal programs
  3. The RSC's previous publishing director, Peter Gregory, said in August 2006 that fee-based OA journals were "ethically flawed" and "financially unproven".  (See my comment.)  Gregory is now the editorial director at Wiley-VCH, Wiley's German subsidiary.

Monday, October 02, 2006

October SOAN

I just mailed the October issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue summarizes the state of OA legislation in the just-ended session of Congress and takes a close look at the indirect ways in which access might affect quality. The Top Stories section takes a brief look at the university administrators supporting and opposing FRPAA, the continued expansion of the hybrid journal model, an NIH-publisher agreement that hurts researchers, a new policy at the NEH (not NIH) to favor OA projects, and a statement by a Vice President of the Association of American Publishers that it's in the national interest to limit access to publicly-funded research to those who can afford to pay.

Another review of the Jacobs anthology

Ruth Rikowski reviews the Neil Jacobs anthology on OA (Chandos 2006) in the spring/summer 2006 issue of Information for Social Change.

The transitional OA paradigm

Robin Peek, The Transitional OA Paradigm, Information Today, October 2, 2006. Not online even for subscribers, at least so far.

Paying for OA in every discipline

Jan Velterop, Research is research, The Parachute, October 2, 2006. Excerpt:

I wasn’t there, but I understand that one of the main topics discussed at the recent JISC conference ‘Moving Towards Open Access’ was the question whether open access was suitable for all disciplines. Bit of a funny question, this. All scholarly research worth publishing is worth publishing with open access, I would have thought. Research is research. The question that should have been asked (and it may indeed have been the intended question), is whether there are, or should be, different ways of funding open access publishing in different disciplines.

The clearest way to think about the funding of the formal research literature, as the Wellcome Trust for instance does, is to see publishing as an integral part of doing research and therefore the cost of publishing as an integral part of the cost of research and thus entirely logically payable out of research grants. We hear quite often that such funding of the formal literature from research funds is not feasible in some disciplines – e.g. social sciences and humanities – simply because much research in those areas is not funded. Not funded? I wonder how social scientists survive. Maybe what’s meant is ‘not funded in the same way’....

Virtually all subscriptions, in all areas of research, are currently sustained via library budgets – money streams that are separate from research funds, but nonetheless available in 'the system'.

The central idea of ‘author-side’ payment in order to secure open access for the formally published research literature (and as a side benefit, transparency of the proportionality between the amount of research done and the cost of the literature) is to use the same money now used for subscriptions (reader-side payment) in a different way. Not extra money; the same money. Once that insight has broken through, we can start overcoming the practical (bureaucratic?) difficulties.

Comment.  True and important.  Equally true and important is that OA through self-archiving is just as feasible and desirable in the social sciences and humanities as it is in the sciences.

Draft primer on open content invites comments

Lawrence Liang has written a 65 pp. draft primer on open content and invites reader feedback before October 14.  He focuses on content that users may freely modify, knowing that free online content without that feature is adequately covered by the literature on open access.

Interesting:  The primer is copyrighted by the United Nations Development Programme, distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution license, and published by Elsevier.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A turning point for several OA policies

Today was a big day for a handful of OA policies.

More on PLoS ONE and Philica

Alicia Chang, Online journals challenge scientific peer review, Mercury News, October 1, 2006. A glimpse at PLoS ONE and Philica, focusing more on their methods of peer review than on their access policies.

Update. The Desert Sun (Palm Springs, California) has reprinted Chang's article but with a new headline and subtitle: Online journals threaten scientific review system: Internet sites publishing studies with little or no scrutiny by peers. The Gainesville Sun (Gainesville, Florida) goes further: Online publishing a threat to peer review. The Monterey Herald (Monterey, California) takes another step: Academic journals bypass peers, go to Web.

Of course, this isn't the first time that editors didn't read or didn't understand the articles they were supposed to capture with a headline. Chang's article is mostly devoted to peer-reviewed OA journals (though with a new form of peer peer review), not OA repositories (though she does give a paragraph to Grigory Perelman and arXiv). Is this routine editorial carelessness or spreading paranoia?

Update. Here's one more in the depressing series: Philadelphia's NBC10 reprinted the article under the title, Science Journals Challenge Peer-Reviewed Counterparts.

New portal of open courses

Open-Of-Course is a new portal for open courses. Since its launch in July 2006, it has posted 18 courses, some of them in more than one language. From the site:
Here you will find a growing amount of free online courses and tutorials. By "free" we not only mean free as in "free beer" but also published as open content. Our focus is at the start mainly on open source software courses but as we grow more will be added.

Our goal is to create a multilingual platform for free quality educational information. You can help realize this in several ways:

  • Tip us on free available courses and tutorials on the internet
  • Become a coordinator for your language section
  • Add free online courses or tutorials to our platform
  • Translate available courses into other languages...

Italian profile of PLoS

Alessandro Delfanti, L’articolo scientifico alla prova del web, Isabellablog, September 30, 2006.  A profile of PLoS.  Read it in the original Italian or in Google's English.

Vision papers for science commons conference

Twelve strong vision papers for the Commons of Science Conference (Washington, D.C., October 3-4, 2006) are now online. (Thanks to Peter Murray-Rust.) All are on open data, open access, or open science.

Updating the street performer protocol

David Bollier, - A New Experiment in "Ransom Publishing", On the Commons, September 29, 2006.  Excerpt:

Since the cost of copying of digital works is now virtually nil, one of the primary challenges is getting the middlemen out of the way, or at least forcing him/her to create real value and not be a parasite on the system. The other challenge is finding new ways to pay creators a fair price for their labor. At the Wizards of OS conference in Berlin two weeks ago, a web prototype,, was presented as a possible solution. The website aspires to be an upfront funding vehicle for paying authors for works that will be dedicated to the commons. It’s a work-in-progress being put together by a German collective and especially (or so it appears) Joerg Baach and Jan Michael. invites creators to propose a project – a CD, film, book, whatever – and declare how much money they will need to complete it.  Interested “customers” can then make a contribution to the project.  The money is put in an escrow account at until (and if) enough money is raised for the project to proceed.  If the funding goal is reached, the creator completes the project and releases it to the world under a Creative Commons license. The song or film or text comes unencumbered with digital rights restrictions management (DRM). It is “born free” and can be freely used, without permission or payment, from that point forward. has chosen a great tagline for itself: “Buy it for the commons.”

At this point, however, is more of an idea than a working reality....

The idea behind is not entirely new. The payment system has been called the “street performer protocol” or a “ransom publishing model.” (See the Wikipedia entry for more.) ...

PS:  For background, see my January 2002 article on the street performer protocol.

OA growth rate increasing

Heather Morrison, Dramatic Growth September 2006, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, September 30, 2006. Excerpt:

The Dramatic Growth of Open Access continues! The number of open access journals included in DOAJ continues to increase at a rate of about 1.5 per calendar day, while the increase in material in open access archives in showing a dramatic increase in the rate of growth, for all archives followed, as well as absolute growth. There have been some significant events in the past quarter which the author predicts will accelerate the rate of growth of OA, including funding agencies' open access policies, hybrid open access journal programs, new OA presses and significant work on models for small publishers to transition to open access....

The growth illustrated by open access archives in the past quarter is best described as "wow!". OAIster is poised to exceed [10 million] items (not all are open access) far ahead of my June predictions (end of 2007, then the end of 2006). With over 9.4 million items and growth of more than 1.8 million items in the past quarter, it now seems very likely that OAIster will exceed [10 million] items in the very near future.

All archives tracked (arXiv, rePec, E-LIS, the CARL Metadata Harvester, and now, PubMedCentral) are showing a noticeable increase in growth rate over the last quarter. Seasonable variations in archiving patterns could be a factor....

There were many events occurring in the past quarter which will result in increasingly dramatic growth of open access, particularly:

Open Access Funding Agency Policies:  Four of the UK Research Councils announcing strong open access policies - for an in-depth report on the funding agency policies, see the August 2006 SPARC Open Access Newsletter.

Journal Hybrid Open Access Programs:  A number of publishers have announced hybrid open access journal programs in the past quarter, which is likely to increase the number of open access articles available in the future. My prediction is that this will also result in an increase in the number of fully open access journals, as more traditional publishers have an opportunity to experiment with shifting to an open access business model. Details and analysis are available in the September 2006 SPARC Open Access Newsletter.

New OA presses and approaches:  A quieter trend for now which I think will have a big impact in a year or two is the development by universities and libraries of new OA presses, many using open source software solutions such as Open Journal Systems. Charles Bailey has now blogged about 12 such presses in Digital Koans. SPARC's Raym Crow has published a significant work on Publishing Cooperatives, a blueprint for open access approaches that I predict will significantly advance the transition to OA by smaller traditional publishers....

Openness in higher ed

The October/November issue of Innovate is devoted to open source and open courseware in higher education.  Although none of the articles focuses on OA to research literature, David Wiley has a section on it in his piece, Open Source, Openness, and Higher Education.