Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, October 14, 2006

New interdisciplinary hybrid OA journal

Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Publishing has launched a hybrid OA journal, HFSP Journal: Frontiers of Interdisciplinary Research in the Life Sciences. From today's press release:
The HFSP Journal aims to foster communication between scientists publishing high quality, innovative interdisciplinary research at the interface between biology and the physical sciences....

The HFSP Journal offers its authors the option to pay a fee to make their research articles Open Access immediately upon publication. For other articles, access is limited to subscribers for the first 6 months after publication, and access will be free thereafter. The HFSP Journal will be published online and in print.

HFSPO Secretary General and Nobel laureate Torsten Wiesel comments, “Due to its reputation for excellence in interdisciplinary research in biology, HFSPO is well placed to endorse the establishment of a high-level journal that shares its scientific values and will increase the visibility of the Program. This is the main reason I had no hesitation to agree to chair the Editorial Advisory Council of the HFSP Journal.”

The first articles will appear online in December 2006 and the first issue will be published in March 2007.

Connecting authorship with self-archiving

The University of Rochester has received a grant from the US federal Institute of Museum and Library Services to improve web-based writing tools and automate the deposit of resulting theses, dissertations, and research articles in the author's institutional repository. From yesterday's announcement:

The University of Rochester's River Campus Libraries will receive more than $320,000 to improve Web-based tools for graduate students to support the writing of the doctoral dissertation, academic collaboration, and the accessibility of scholarly work....Investigators will apply the new funding over two years to focus on how graduate students work on their dissertations and interact with advisors and technology....

"[In earlier research] we found that there is a critical need for Web-based tools to support scholarly work leading up to finished manuscripts," said [anthropologist Nancy Fried Foster]...."Our plan is to create a new type of authoring system for the next generation of academics, who will then link to our institutional repository for preservation and self-publishing of completed manuscripts," explained Nathan Sarr, software engineer and manager of the project.

Institutional repositories exist to preserve digital scholarship and make it widely available, but often they are underutilized....

More on green and gold

Ulrich Herb, Die Farbenlehre des Open Access, Telepolis, October 14, 2006. On the green and gold roads to OA. Read the original German or Google's English.

Update. Ulrich has now self-archived this article.

MIT launches a Center for Collective Intelligence

Google and Wikipedia have inspired MIT to launch a Center for Collective Intelligence.  (Thanks to Andrea Foster.)  From the Center's October 5 announcement:

Though not officially launched until Oct. 13 [webcast available], the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI) has already set an ambitious goal to understand how to harness the power of large numbers of people --connected together through Internet and other technologies-- to better solve a range of business, scientific, and societal problems. 

“The recent successes of things like Google and Wikipedia suggest that the time is now ripe for many more such systems,” said CCI Director Thomas Malone, author of the influential 2004 book, The Future of Work, which examined how information technology enables business to organize itself in new ways. “At CCI, our basic research question is:  How can people and computers be connected so that --collectively-- they act more intelligently than any individuals, groups, or computers have ever done before?”

As an example, Malone cites the process of writing books. “Today’s publishing industry is built on the assumption that books are written by a single author --or at most a few people.  But Wikipedia shows that very different approaches may be possible.  What if, for instance, certain kinds of books could be written by large numbers of people with very little central direction?” ...   

“CCI is trying to look over the horizon to see what will be common five, 10, or 20 years from now. Google, Wikipedia, Linux, and e-Bay are examples that show something interesting and important is already happening. Such examples are not the end of the story, but just the beginning.  And I hope that our work can help people understand and take advantage of these exciting possibilities,” Malone said.

Comment. So far, the OA connection is weak.  But CCI already recognizes that OA information is the lifeblood of collective intelligence, and we can hope that it formalizes this recognition in concrete forms of support for OA and projects to put it to work.

More on the evolving OA policy at SSHRC

Richard Akerman has blogged some notes at the CARL meeting on Institutional Repositories: The Next Generation (Ottawa, October 10, 2006). Excerpt:

09:15 David Moorman, SSHRC ...

SSHRC has embraced OA in principle, but a big challenge going from principle to action

a lot of politics - institutional, municipal, up to international

support for research journals
the role of the article as a unit in IR
knowledged mobilization - make publically-funded research available

UManitoba data project

indicators of research impact
how can we prove/demonstrate that the investment in research is producing value?

* Does SSHRC have a policy?


There is more to this than just mandating OA.

Currently: Embrace in principle.  Work out the details.  Promotional approach.

Figure out how to support OA journals.  Conducting experiments to figure out best approach....

Making OA the norm for legal scholarship

Lawrence Solum, Do Academics Have an Ethical Obligation to Publish in Open Access Venues?  Legal Theory Blog, October 13, 2006.  A response to Susan Crawford's blog notes on Mike Carroll's recent talk at Cardozo Law School (blogged here yesterday). Excerpt:

It seems to me that we are coming close to the point where legal academics will begin to discuss the question whether there is a professional obligation to publish only in open-access venues.  Although there may be room for reasonable dissent, I should think that almost all scholars can agree that scholarship should be available to all students and scholars throughout the world at the lowest-possible cost.  The open-access imperative can be grounded on at least three ideas: (1) the idea that scholarship and the emergence of truth is an intrinsic telic good--an end worth pursuing for its own sake; (2) the idea that the creations of new ideas (a special form of information) is a public good in the economist's sense (because ideas have external social benefits and ideas cannot be rationed through price mechanisms); and (3) the idea that the fundamental moral equality of persons supports the maximization of access on reasonable terms of all persons to the realm of scholarly ideas.

We are currently in a period of transition....I believe that the benefits of open access are so compelling that in the long run, some form of open access will be nearly universal--although I am more confident that this will be true of serials publication than of monograph publication....

During this period of transition, scholars as individuals and scholarly institutions as collectives can determine whether the transition is a very long one or a relatively short one.  Faculties can encourage affiliated journals (e.g. law reviews) to adopt open access policies.  Individual scholars can publish in open access venues.

One particular way in which the transition can be facilitated is the development of an "open access" norm.  Such norms are likely to emerge in particular disciplines first and then spread across disciplines and within academic institutions.  In particular, legal academics (who have special "early awareness" of the issue) can begin to foster a professional norm against publication in closed-access, proprietary rights venues.  Various technologies of norm building are available.  One is public discussion and debate.  Another would be the creation of a public vehicle for pledging or vowing to publish in open-access venues whenever that is possible.  A third technique would be to engage in polite but pointed criticism of closed-access venues and those who publish in these venues.

Also see Mike Madison's blogged response to Solum:

Larry is right, but I think that there’s more to the story. Scholars aren’t going to give up the reputational benefits of publishing for prestige. An open access norm isn’t likely to stabilize, at least in law, unless both journal editors and authors somehow incorporate the prestige economy into the open publishing economy.

That’s not necessarily a Herculean task. Faculty know it. Students get it. At Pitt, I talked the other day with the current Editor in Chief, who reported to me that the number one topic of discussion for his board is how to improve the law review’s citation rank. How do you do that? Get the content out there. Allow authors to post to SSRN and BePress (which the law review does), and put its content on the Web in a timely way (which the law review knows that it needs to do).

Friday, October 13, 2006

"Foundation of a new digitally-based scholarly communication framework"

The Open Archives Initiative has launched a new project called Object Reuse and Exchange (ORE).  From today's announcement:

The Open Archives Initiative (OAI), with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, announces a new effort as part of its mission to develop and promote interoperability standards that aim to facilitate the efficient dissemination of content. Object Reuse and Exchange (ORE) will develop specifications that allow distributed repositories to exchange information about their constituent digital objects. These specifications will include approaches for representing digital objects and repository services that facilitate access and ingest of these representations. The specifications will enable a new generation of cross-repository services that leverage the intrinsic value of digital objects beyond the borders of hosting repositories.

The goals of ORE are inspired by advances in scholarly communication and the growth of scholarly material that is available in scholarly repositories including institutional repositories, discipline-oriented repositories, dataset warehouses, and online journal repositories. This growth is significant by itself. However, its real importance lies in the potential for these distributed repositories and their contained objects to act as the foundation of a new digitally-based scholarly communication framework. Such a framework would permit fluid reuse, refactoring, and aggregation of scholarly digital objects and their constituent parts - including text, images, data, and software. This framework would include new forms of citation, allow the creation of virtual collections of objects regardless of their location, and facilitate new workflows that add value to scholarly objects by distributed registration, certification, peer review, and preservation services. Although scholarly communication is the motivating application, we imagine that the specifications developed by ORE may extend to other domains.

ORE is funded by Mellon for two years beginning October 2006. It is coordinated by Carl Lagoze of Cornell University Information Science and Herbert Van de Sompel of the Los Alamos Research Library....

OAI-ORE will co-exist within the Open Archives Initiative with the Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), the widely deployed standard for exchange of metadata. We expect that the naturally more expressive digital object focus of OAI-ORE will complement the narrower metadata focus of OAI-PMH....

Riyadh Declaration on OA, now in English

Abeer Arafat of the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan has translated the Riyadh Declaration on Free Access to Scientific and Technological Information into English. (The translation was facilitated by Khaled Kahhaleh, also of the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan, and touched up by Stevan Harnad.)

The declaration was originally issued in Arabic and French, on September 7, 2006, by the participants in the Second Gulf-Maghreb Scientific Congress (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 25-26, 2006).

I believe this is the first Arabic declaration in support of OA and hope it has a wide impact.

OA helps authors and publishers

Péter Jacsó, Open access to scholarly full-text documents, Online Information Review, 30, 5 (2006). Only the abstract is free online, at least so far.  Excerpt:

...The paper shows that while open access archives are good for the majority, for publishers, editors and authors, open access articles can substantially increase their impact, and the impact factor for the source journals....

Optimizing OA archiving mandates

Stevan Harnad, Optimizing OA Self-Archiving Mandates: What? Where? When? Why? How?  A technical report for the University of Southampton Department of Electronics and Computer Science, self-archived October 13, 2006.

Abstract:   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.

More on OA for law reviews

Susan Crawford has blogged some notes on Mike Carroll's talk at Cardozo Law School yesterday.  Mike is a law professor at Villanova Law School and a member of the board at Creative Commons.  Excerpt:

He began by reminding the students that the idea behind student-edited law reviews was (at least originally) the dissemination of legal knowledge.  The room was quiet -- they were all paying attention. 

He said that if the editors had a choice between increasing that dissemination (by, for example, making pdfs of articles available online) and making money for their schools (by, for example, reaping royalties from Westlaw and LEXIS, and getting paid for subscriptions), they should choose dissemination. 

But he also pointed out that that's probably a false choice -- Westlaw and LEXIS aren't going away any time soon, and there is an audience for hardcopy subscriptions that isn't going away either. 

Michael argued very persuasively that there are large audiences that don't have access to Westlaw and LEXIS but will find articles online and cite them:  researchers who bump into things online serendipitously, researchers from other disciplines, underfunded researchers, and researchers from other countries.  He urged the editors to make sure that the authors they publish have the rights to make their articles available online. 

Michael pointed the editors to Creative Commons's ScienceCommons project, which aims to widen open access to factual data.  He noted repeatedly that other disciplines are very far ahead of the legal academic field in their efforts to open access to information.  And he praised the Duke Law Journal for having a long history of putting articles online....

It was an inspiring talk.  I hope and expect that every student in the room took it to heart and will take its lessons home.  But I'm not sure that the current system of innumerable student-reviewed law journals is sustainable.

More on OA for lay readers

Yesterday news broke that a new species of mouse had been discovered in Cyprus.  Mark Stoeckle reports that 193 mainstream news media picked up the story --and that the original peer-reviewed article is only accessible to subscribers.  His conclusion:  
Limited access limits taxonomy....The press coverage of this article demonstrates discovery of new species is of wide public interest, and there are many persons who would want to read beyond the headlines. As it stands, readership is often limited to a small number of specialists, guaranteeing continuing obscurity for taxonomic science.  Open access for new species descriptions could help increase visibility and willingness to fund taxonomic science.

Answering objections to OA

Jürgen Lübeck, Open Access - The Road to Hell? Jürgen Lübeck, October 13, 2006.  A detailed answer to Rafael Ball's critique of OA (blogged here July 5, 2006).  Read it in German or in Google's English.

Update. For another critique of Ball, see Klaus Graf, Rafael Balls Irrtümer, Archivalia, October 16, 2006. Again, read it in German or in Google's English.

Update. For another critique, see Atakans Zeitenläufte for October 19, 2006. Read the German or Google's English.

OA Spanish literature

Klaus Graf has put together a good list of collections of OA Spanish literature.

Mandated OA archiving policies

Leslie Carr and seven co-authors, Repositories for Institutional Open Access: Mandated Deposit Policies, a preprint self-archived October 13, 2006. 
Abstract:  Only 15% of articles are currently being made Open Access (OA) through spontaneous self-archiving efforts by their authors. They average 25%-250% more citations in all 12 disciplines tested so far. Ninety-four percent of journals endorse immediate OA self-archiving. There is no evidence that self-archiving induces subscription cancellations. The “OA advantage” consists of: Early Advantage (early self-archiving produces both earlier and more citations), Usage Advantage (more downloads for OA articles, correlated with later citations), Competitive Advantage (relative citation advantage of OA over non-OA articles: disappears at 100% OA), Quality Advantage (OA advantage is higher, the higher the quality of the article) and Quality Bias (authors selectively self-archiving their higher quality articles – a non-causal component: disappears at 100% OA). We are currently comparing the OA advantage for mandated and spontaneous (self-selected) self-archiving. Deposit rates in Institutional Repositories (IRs) remain at 15% if unmandated, but climb toward 100% OA if mandated, confirming surveys that predicted 95% compliance. In the UK, 4 of the 8 research funding councils and the Wellcome Trust mandate self-archiving and it is being considered by the European Commission and the US federal FRPAA. There is no reason for universities to wait for the passage of the legislation. Five universities and two research institutions (including CERN) have already mandated it, with documented success. An Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access Mandate covers all cases and moots all legal issues: metadata are immediately visible webwide and, where needed, access to the postprint can be set as Closed Access instead of OA throughout any embargo period. Software to support this approach (that allows the author to email individual copies of non-Open Access papers to individual requesters) has been created for both EPrints and DSpace repository platforms.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Britain needs a unified policy on access to public data

Michael Cross, The fight has only just begun, The Guardian, October 12, 2006. Excerpt:

Responsibility for policy on Britain's digital crown jewels - data on people, property and the natural environment collected at taxpayers' expense - is split between half a dozen different government departments with widely differing ideas about what they should do with it.

Six months into Technology Guardian's Free Our Data campaign, lack of central policy has emerged as the biggest barrier to our objective: to make freely available (apart from limits imposed by privacy and national security) all data collected in the course of running public services....

Six months ago, Technology Guardian argued for a single policy: free data. Rather than trying to recover costs by selling data, government agencies should follow the US federal practice of making data available to all comers. Of course, this would kill the current business model of "trading fund" organisations such as Ordnance Survey, which returns a profit to the Treasury. Under free data, such organisations would need a direct subsidy. However, the cost of this subsidy should be set against the savings that would be made by other public bodies receiving data for free - and by growth in the knowledge economy.

Every Thursday over the past six months, we have published at least one Free Our Data case study....

We can claim to have had some impact, too. In June, our debate on free data attracted a capacity crowd at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in London. We were nominated for this year's New Statesman new media awards. Last month, the Times published an article in which Gervase Markham of the Mozilla foundation made the case for free data. And last week, the Demographics User Group, representing commercial users of PSI, presented us with its annual award. Thank you. We'll keep plugging away.

Second draft of Open Chemistry statement

Chemists Without Borders has posted the second draft of its Open Chemistry Position Statement (and Suggested Actions)

PS:  The first draft was written in July and posted in September.

Tweaking the excellent CIHR policy

Stevan Harnad, CIHR Proposes 99.99% Optimal OA Self-Archiving Mandate, Open Access Archivangelism, October 12, 2006. Excerpt:

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has proposed a 99.99% optimal Open Access Self-Archiving Mandate:

CIHR grant and award holders must:

(1a) [deposit all] final peer-reviewed published articles or final peer-reviewed full-text manuscripts
(1b) in an appropriate [OAI]-compliant digital archive, such as PubMed Central, or an institutional repository
(1c) immediately upon publication.
(1d) (A publisher-imposed embargo on open accessibility of no more than 6 months is acceptable.)


(2a) submit their manuscripts either to a journal that provides immediate open access to published articles (if a suitable journal exist


(2b) submit their manuscripts to a journal that allows authors to retain copyright and/or allows authors to archive journal publications in an open access archive within the six-month period following publication.

There is only one unnecessary and confusing clause in CIHR's policy: (2b). (2b) is redundant with [1]! ...So (2b) should simple be dropped....

[I]t would be best if CIHR's uniform rule consisted of just these 5 components:

I. must deposit final peer-reviewed manuscript (or published version)
II. in the author's own IR (or other OAI-compliant repository)
III. immediately upon (acceptance for) publication
(IV. access to the deposit must be set as Open Access within 6 months at latest)
(V. where possible, publish in a suitable OA journal)...

(CIHR also requires making research data and materials available for reasonable requests: Might as well recommend -- but not require -- that they are self-archived too, wherever possible!)

Bravo CIHR! ...

PS:  Note that, unlike the Wellcome Trust's Self-Archiving Mandate, CIHR's proposed mandate does not offer to fund option (2a) (publishing in an Open Access or hybrid "Open Choice" journal). Apparently CIHR did not feel it had the spare cash for this. This is quite understandable (although no doubt some publishers will complain vociferously about it): The fact is that all potential publication funds are currently tied up in covering the costs of institutional subscriptions, worldwide. If and when self-archiving should ever lead to institutional subscription cancellations that make the subscription model unsustainable, then those very institutional windfall savings themselves will be the natural source for the cash to cover OA publishing costs. No need to take it from research funds at this time, when it is unaffordable. OA is the immediate and urgent (and long-overdue) priority today, not pre-emptively cushioning a hypothetical transition to another publishing cost-recovery model (except where the spare cash is available).

Wisconsin joins the Google Library project

UW-Madison joins massive Google Book project, a press release from the University of Wisconsin, October 12, 2006. Excerpt:

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and Google announced an agreement today to expand access to hundreds of thousands of public and historical books and documents from more than 7.2 million holdings at the UW-Madison Libraries and the Wisconsin Historical Society Library.

The university is the eighth library to join Google's ambitious effort to digitize the world's books and make them searchable on Google Book Search.

The combined library collections of UW-Madison and the Wisconsin Historical Society comprise one of the largest collections of documents and historical materials to be found in the United States. The collections are ranked 11th in North America by the Association of Research Libraries in Washington, D.C.

"Wisconsin is in a position to take a leading role in making the primary documents of U.S. government history freely accessible on the Internet for anyone to find and use," says UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell.

Adds Edward Van Gemert, interim director of the UW-Madison General Library System: "Whenever possible, the university intends to make the complete content of public documents available on the Internet, including text, images and maps." ...

The Wisconsin project will initially focus on library collections that are free of copyright restrictions. Most books published before 1923 and publications of the U.S. government are in the public domain by law....

Also see the news coverage.

Another provost endorses FRPAA

Bernadette Gray-Little, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 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). The tally is now up to 127.

Forthcoming ACLS report on cyberinfrastructure for the humanities and social sciences

Chuck Henry, Disciplines Converge on Need for Cyberinfrastructure, CLIR Issues, September/October 2006. Excerpt:

By year's end, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) will have issued Our Cultural Commonwealth: The Report of the American Council of Learned Societies’ Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for Humanities and Social Sciences.  [Meantime, see the draft.]  It is the final document in a trilogy of major publications that began in 2003 with the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) blue ribbon report, Revolutionizing Science and Engineering through Cyberinfrastructure. The second publication in the series was the Final Report: NSF SBE-CISE Workshop on Cyberinfrastructure and the Social Sciences, published in May 2005.

The three reports mark a rare occurrence in the history of higher education in the United States: convergence across nearly all disciplines on a single issue, cyberinfrastructure. Together, the reports present an extraordinary shared vision of a new environment needed for intellectual productivity and innovation in research and teaching. They also offer compelling testimony to the need for a robust and sustainable cyberinfrastructure if scholarship and research are to progress or, in some instances, to survive....

Major Recommendations of Our Cultural Commonwealth:

  1. Invest in cyberinfrastructure for the humanities and social sciences as a matter of strategic priority.
  2. Develop public and institutional policies that foster openness and access.
  3. Promote cooperation between the public and private sectors.
  4. Cultivate leadership in support of cyberinfrastructure from within the humanities and social sciences.
  5. Encourage digital scholarship.
  6. Establish national centers to support scholarship that contributes to and exploits cyberinfrastructure.
  7. Develop and maintain open standards and robust tools.
  8. Create extensive and reusable digital collections.

The case for OA, focusing on Canada

James Till and Joan Leishman, Be Openly Accessible or be Obscure?  University of Toronto Bulletin, October 11, 2006 (scroll to p. 15). Excerpt:

Patterns of scholarly communication are changing.  Open access (OA) archiving and OA publishing are receiving increasingly substantial support. “Be openly accessible or be obscure” may soon join, or even replace, “publish in high-impact journals or perish” as a mantra heard ad infinitum or nauseam by academics. Why is this happening? One important reason is that more and more universities are establishing OA institutional repositories (IRs). An example is the T-Space IR of the University of Toronto Libraries. Four years ago, Peter Suber, a research professor of philosophy at Earlham College (Richmond, Indiana) and an eloquent advocate of OA, identified three reasons for the increasing number of IRs: the development of open source software for building archives; the acceptance of a standard for making the archives interoperable (the Open Archives Initiative metadata harvesting protocol); and the decision by several universities and laboratories to launch archives and fill them with the research output of their faculty. In 2002, when Suber wrote this, eprint archiving was already popular in some disciplines, mainly in the physical sciences, mathematics and related fields, as a result of widespread use of the arXiv subject-oriented repository. Since then, other subject-based repositories have been established or have grown in popularity. An example is the PubMed Central
repository, established by the U.S. National Institutes of Health....

Why OA? Examples of arguments in support of OA are these: 1. The Impact Argument: OA leads to increased benefits for authors and their institutions in the ever-accelerating “competition for eyeballs.” Evidence is accumulating that OA articles are cited more often and/or are more immediately recognized and cited than non-OA articles. 2. The Accountability Argument (or Taxpayer Argument): Researchers and scholars are accountable to the public that supports them. Taxpayers, who have paid once to support the research, should have access to the outputs of that research and should not be required to pay again for such access. (This is especially so when, in the OA publishing model, important actions that add value to the publication process, such as high-quality peer review and skilled editing, continue to be provided). 3. The Good Public Policy Argument: Greater access to published research outputs will increase scientific and economic benefits through greater knowledge uptake and scientific discovery. 4. The Serials Crisis Argument: Libraries are increasingly unable to provide access to conventional journals because of the ever-rising cost of subscriptions, particularly for biomedical and health sciences journals.

Suber has suggested that the single largest obstacle to OA is “author inertia or omission.” The most effective way to overcome this obstacle, says Stevan Harnad, a professor at Southampton University, is for institutions (including funding agencies, universities and their individual departments) to require (mandate) self-archiving of research articles. Such a requirement could be a condition of continuing support of the kind needed for the initiation of productive research and scholarship. At present, there’s an ongoing tug-of-war between some major funders of biomedical and health research (such as the Wellcome Trust and the Research Councils in the U.K., and the National Institutes of Health in the U.S.) that support OA and some prestigious advocates of caution. The latter usually have some vested interest in the conventional publishing model and include the Royal Society, the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a strong lobby of commercial publishers....

In October 2004 the governing board of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) adopted OA in principle.  SSHRC is currently in an implementation phase.... Genome Canada currently has a policy that deposition of published manuscripts in the PubMed Central repository is expected to occur within six months.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) does not currently have a policy about OA to the outputs of research but has recently established an advisory committee on access policy. Attention will be paid not only to the peer-reviewed published results of research but also to physical outputs of research and to data deposited in public databases. An initial draft version of a proposed access policy will soon be posted on the CIHR website and comments about the proposed policy will be sought....[PS: The draft is now online for comment.]

What can the University of Toronto community do? ...Senior members of the academic community can lead by example and begin to foster the implementation of OA in their own areas of research....During the past year, the advisory committee on the university library put OA high on its agenda to encourage and elevate discussion. The library has a role to play in creating awareness and supporting OA archiving in research repositories including the university’s own T-Space.  [PS:  Toronto faculty should also support Toronto's Project Open Source | Open Access.]

All members of the university community should pay increasing attention to the implications of OA. As Linda Hutcheon, University Professor of English, has recently pointed out, the “ethical and political implications of the kind of sharing of knowledge that OA allows are appealing to many of us. But what may be just as exciting is the possibility that rethinking the medium-specificity of ‘publication’ of research might lead to a positive rethinking of the criteria for tenure and promotion.”

CIHR drafts an OA mandate

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has written a Draft Policy on Access to CIHR-funded Research Outputs, October 10, 2006. Excerpt:

[The] CIHR has a fundamental interest in ensuring that research outputs are available to the widest possible audience....CIHR's policy promoting access to research outputs rests on the foundation of the CIHR Act [2000] and reflects the core values articulated in CIHR's Blueprint for Health Research and Innovation [2004], the organization's strategic plan, which states that:

"the primary purpose of all research in the public domain is the creation of new knowledge in an environment that embodies the principles of freedom of inquiry and unrestricted dissemination of research results." ...

This policy applies to all research outputs that have been financially supported in whole or in part by CIHR....Research outputs covered under this policy are the following:  [1] peer-reviewed journal publications; [2] research materials; and [3] final research data.

New and renewal applications for CIHR funding must now include a Research Output Access Plan. This plan must list anticipated research outputs, state how the applicant, grant holder, or award holder intends to make their research outputs accessible to others, or provide reasons for any restrictions on access to research outputs. Furthermore, grant and award holders have new responsibilities under the following outputs of CIHR-funded research projects:

1. Peer-reviewed Journal Publications

  • CIHR requires grant and award holders to make every effort to ensure that their peer-reviewed journal publications are freely available. CIHR recognizes that there are several vehicles for delivering free access to research publications. And as such, we are providing two options for grant and award holders. Under the first option, grant and award holders must archive either final peer-reviewed published articles, or final peer-reviewed full-text manuscripts, immediately upon publication. Archiving must involve deposition in an appropriate open archives initiative-compliant digital archive, such as PubMed Central, or an institutional repository. A publisher-imposed embargo on open accessibility of no more than 6 months is acceptable.
  • The second option allows grant and award holders to submit their manuscripts either to a journal that provides immediate open access to published articles (if a suitable journal exists), or to a journal that allows authors to retain copyright and/or allows authors to archive journal publications in an open access archive within the six-month period following publication.
  • Book chapters, research monographs, editorials, reviews, or conference proceedings arising from CIHR-funded research are not covered under this policy. However, CIHR encourages grant and award holders to provide access to these and other forms of research publications where possible.
  • CIHR recommends (but does not require) that grant and award holders consider retroactively archiving their most important articles subject to the copyright arrangements that apply to these articles....

2. Research Materials

  • ...Grant and award holders are required to comply with reasonable requests for research materials arising from CIHR funding made by researchers, students, and trainees working within the not-for-profit research community once the specific research material has been cited in a journal publication. Furthermore, research materials should be provided to recipients of not-for-profit research institutions at cost and with as few restrictions as possible....

3. Research Data

  • Final research data refers to the factual information that is necessary to replicate and verify research results. Data can include original data sets, data sets that are too large to be included in the peer-reviewed publication, and any other data sets supporting the research publication. Research data is typically an electronic data set, and may include interview transcripts and survey results provided confidential data and subject privacy is protected. Research data does not include lab books and unpublished research protocols, or physical objects like tissue samples.
  • Grant and award holders should strive to make final data sets, generally in electronic form, available upon request after the publication date of a peer-reviewed publication....
  • CIHR requires grant and award holders to deposit bioinformatics, atomic and molecular coordinate data, experimental data, as already required by most journals, into the appropriate public database immediately upon publication of research results....
  • ...In the future, CIHR will consider a researcher's track record of providing access to research outputs when considering applications for funding, and will take into consideration legitimate reasons for restricting access.

Comment.  Kudos to the CIHR for this exemplary policy. 

  1. The policy is an unambiguous mandate.  It applies to all research funded in whole or in part by CIHR.  It applies to both peer-reviewed journal articles and data files.  (Although it requires some kinds of data-sharing and merely encourages others, it may be the strongest data-sharing policy by any funder to date.)  It makes reasonable exceptions for royalty-producing publications like monographs.  It lets grantees choose between OA journals and OA repositories, and in the latter case, between institutional and disciplinary repositories.  The only condition on eligible repositories is that they be OAI-compliant.  The policy uses the dual deposit/release strategy (requiring immediate deposit and permitting delayed OA release, in this case limiting embargoes to six months).   And it takes a grantee's past compliance into account when evaluating new funding proposals.  With one exception the policy embodies all the most important lessons from the funding agency open access policies.  The exception is that CIHR doesn't offer to pay article processing fees for grantees who choose to publish in fee-based OA journals.  
  2. The CIHR has called for comments on its new draft.  Responses are due by November 24, 2006.
  3. For background, the CIHR announced that it was considering an OA policy and called for public comments back in April 2006.  In June it released an update on where it stood in the process and in August (in a document dated June) it released a summary of the public comments.
  4. If the CIHR draft counts as a policy, and the new OA policy in Austria counts as a mandate (it deliberately positions itself between a request and a requirement), then the CIHR policy is the seventh OA mandate to be adopted this month.  There are the four new mandates from the RCUK, the expansion of the existing mandate at the Wellcome Trust, the Austrian policy, and now the CIHR.  This is unprecedented momentum.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

OA + print + linkout

Adrian White, Electronic publishing and Acupuncture in Medicine, Acupuncture in Medicine, September 2006. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

The internet has fundamentally altered scientific publishing; this article discusses current models and how they affect this journal. The greatest innovation is a new range of open access journals published only on the internet, aimed at rapid publication and universal access. In most cases authors pay a publication charge for the overhead costs of the journal. Journals that are published by professional organisations primarily for their members have some functions other than publishing research, including clinical articles, conference reports and news items. A small number of these journals are permitting open access to their research reports. Commercial science publishing still exists, where profit for shareholders provides motivation in addition to the desire to spread knowledge for the benefit of all. A range of electronic databases now exists that offer various levels of listing and searching. Some databases provide direct links to journal articles, such as the LinkOut scheme in PubMed. Acupuncture in Medicine will continue to publish in paper format; all research articles will be available on open access, but non-subscribers will need to pay for certain other articles for the first 12 months after publication. All Acupuncture in Medicine articles will in future be included in the LinkOut scheme, and be presented to the databases electronically.

Funders support OA

Laura Smith, Bio-funders back the Open Access publishing, Information World Review, October 11, 2006. Excerpt:

Biomedical funders strongly support open access (OA) publishing, according to a survey by an OA publisher.

A poll by open access publisher BioMed Central found that 31 of the 33 funding agencies that responded to a survey of 75 international biomedical funding bodies confirmed they were willing to fund the processing charges for OA publishing. Around half the respondents were signatories to one of the major international declarations in support of open access, and a similar number had their own official policy in support of the strategy.

BioMed Central publisher Matthew Cockerill said: “It is very encouraging to see a growing number of funders expressing official support for open access, and confirming that they will make funds available to allow authors to publish in open access journals.” ...

But Sally Morris, secretary general of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), sounded a note of caution.  “I don’t think OA publishing, where journals make material accessible immediately, is a threat provided it’s offered as a choice to authors,” she said. “But self-archiving is potentially more worrying. If authors ignore publishers’ policies, then journals could suffer.”

Morris said ALPSP research with librarians suggested that where journal articles were offered for free online anywhere else, many would consider ending their subscription to the publications.


  1. The ALPSP could also have noted that its own study (March 2006) found that high journal prices far surpassed self-archiving as a cause of journal cancellations. 
  2. About 70% of publishers already permit authors to self-archive their peer-reviewed postprints.  If self-archiving ever causes journal cancellations (which hasn't happened yet, even in fields like physics where self-archiving approaches 100%), it won't be because authors ignored publisher policies but because they did what publishers have permitted them to do. 
  3. If open access from journals is only good when it's offered as a choice for authors, does the same hold for toll access?
  4. If funders should reconsider their support for OA, in deference to publishers, then should publishers reconsider their support for TA, in deference to funders and researchers?

Dan Burk on open-source science

David Weinberger has blogged some notes on a talk by Dan Burk at Harvard's Berkman Center on open-source science. Excerpt:

Dan Burk from U of Minnesota Law School is talking about open source science. [As always, I'm paraphrasing at best.]

He notes some strands of open sourciness. 1. Open Source Genomics saw a clash of the scientific and hacking cultures. 2. Open Source patenting wonders if what worked for sw could work for biotech licensing. 3. Cyberinfrastructure (= e-science), i.e., use of networks to do collaborative science, enables transborder collaboration.

Dan looks at scientific norms as proposed by Merton: Communalism, universalism, independence, organized skepticism and originality. Not that science always achieves this ideals, he says. But if you follow these norms, you get scientific reward, including the respect of one's peers. in the 1980s, Rebecca Isenberg, among others, pointed to the "intellectual property" system as providing another set of rewards: Money. But that can require secrecy and exclusion, which works against the reputational reward. Patents at least require disclosing what you've learned, as opposed to trade secrets. The Human Genome Project in the '90s started patenting snippets of DNA. They agreed to "Bermuda" rules, making info public within 24 hours....

Can bio-med sciences adopt [an open-source] licensing scheme? A couple have tried: the Haplotype Mapping project uses OS-style licenses. The BIOS project makes physical tools (enzymes) and requires you to contribute back to the system any improvements of the tools you make, although you can patent what you make with the tools. The Science Commons uses OS-style licenses for literature....

There are also cultural impediments, he says. "Science has a much more structured set of institutions than Open Source generally does." There are universities, funding agencies and labs who have interests in what gets developed. There are also systemic differences: Peer review, publication, scientific societies....

Q: (me) Assuming we're going to have both OS and proprietary science, how do the ambiguities get resolved?
A: We've had both systems for a long time: Patents and reputational reward. Now they've intersected. Generally they accommodate each other. Biomed scientists are figuring out that if they want the reputational reward they have to do X, if they want the patent they have have to do Y. If you view OS as an extension of that (and remember, he says, that the hacker mentality comes out of universities, just as reputational science does), it seems to be working....

More on OA textbooks

In the October 16 issue of US News and World Report, Alex Kingsbury and Lindsey Galloway look at free and affordable digital textbooks as alternatives to hyperinflated print textbooks. They include two OA textbook projects, Textbook Revolution and Freeload Press.

(Kingsbury and Galloway don't seem to be aware that Freeload Press bought Textbook Revolution last month.)

Update. Also see the story on Freeload Press in the October 12 Christian Science Monitor.

Evidence-based advocacy

Stevan Harnad, Hypotheses Non Fingo, Open Access Archivangelism, October 10, 2006. Excerpt:

J.W.T.Smith...wrote in JISC-REPOSITORIES: "My basic interpretation of the 'Harnad model' is that Stevan wants every researcher to locally (or remotely) make available an open copy... in parallel with the current journal model and [using] quality control services of existing journals. [This is] parasitic on the current model. What Stevan does not want to acknowledge is that this parasitism will ultimately destroy the current journal model... mandates (for self archiving) will not not only increase the number of research articles freely available (a good thing) but will also accelerate the end of the 'traditional' journal and force the evolution of a new form of academic publishing to replace it (in my opinion also a good thing...)."

Hypotheses non fingo. There is no "Harnad model":

Research is published in c. 24K peer-reviewed journals (c. 2.5M articles annually).
            (Datum, not hypothesis.)

Not all would-be users can access all those articles online.
             (Datum, not hypothesis.)

Self-archiving supplements access, for those would-be users.
            (Datum, not hypothesis.)

Self-archiving is correlated with higher and earlier download and citation impact.
            (Datum, not hypothesis.)

Self-archiving is explicitly endorsed by 93% of journals.
            (Datum, not hypothesis.)

Only c. 15% of annual articles are being spontaneously self-archived today.
            (Datum, not hypothesis)

95% of researchers surveyed report they will self-archive if it is mandated.
            (Datum, not hypothesis.)

When self-archiving is mandated, it rapidly rises toward 100%.
            (Datum, not hypothesis.)

No evidence has been reported to date that self-archiving causes cancellations.
            (Datum, not hypothesis.)

[*Self-archiving might (or might not) eventually cause cancellations and a change in journal publishing model. (Hypothesis) Mea maxima culpa!] ...

An OA repository for community health in British Columbia

The Simon Fraser University Library has launched the OA Community Health Online Digital Archive Research Resource (CHODARR).  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)  From the site:

The goal of CHODARR is to improve health and social welfare research and advocacy by providing academic and community-based health researchers and social justice advocates a resource to share and preserve share their research....CHODARR is a permanent, catalogued and publicly accessible online digital archive of research materials related to health and social welfare, with an emphasis on housing, gender, aboriginal issues, HIV and mental health. This project is an ongoing partnership amongst community groups and academic researchers, who aim to develop a sustainable, transportable community researcher training and public education program throughout British Columbia.

New Zealand's strategy for OA repositories

Penny Carnaby, National framework supporting local creation: New Zealand’s institutional repository story, a presentation at the IFLA General Conference (Seoul, August 20-24, 2006).  (Thanks to Steve Hitchcock.)  Excerpt:

The radical shift in scholarly publishing to open source / open standards environments is now mostly well accepted although there is still much to be done in shifting academic culture to a wholesale adoption of this trend in scholarly communication.

Today I am not going to add to this debate other than referring to a report commissioned by the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mat?uranga o Aotearoa supported by the Council of New Zealand University Librarians (CONZUL)), “Institutional Repositories for the Research Sector Feasibility Study”....

As the Content Strategy develops, we are anticipating that clusters of institutional repositories will emerge, connected by a national framework and a unifying search and discovery layer....

The National Digital Heritage Archive project provides a strategy for preserving New Zealand’s digital memory and community and research repositories will provide important content feeds into the archive.

With all of these components lining up nicely, a national framework for institutional repositories in the research sector was a natural development, making it feasible for New Zealand’s publicly funded research to be accessible online....Institutional repositories in the research sector sit well with the formal authorised content described in the strategy and it is anticipated that the sector will provide an exemplar for open source/open standards repositories for others to follow.

OA journals and the developing world

Anna Winterbottom, Open Access: scientific publishing and the developing world, First Author, September 9, 2006.  Excerpt:

Communications and information technology (ICT) has enabled collaboration and dissemination of scientific research on a global scale. In the words of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, ‘we are fortunate to live in an age that offers new opportunities for involving all nations in science and technology’. However, scientists in the developing world are severely restricted in their access to current research. The open access (OA) model of publishing has often been suggested as a means of mitigating some of the restrictions faced by scientists in low-income countries, and has made significant progress in improving free access to research. However, as it emerges into the mainstream, the OA model must also face questions concerning its implications for the global distribution of intellectual property, widespread integration, and financial viability....

Research in low-income countries is compromised by multiple factors: resources may be limited, equipment less than optimal, and basic infrastructure, such as electricity supplies, unreliable. Among these barriers is the issue of access to current research. While the number of specialist academic journals continues to rise, the average price of a science journal has risen four times faster than inflation for the past two decades, resulting in an 'access crisis' in which libraries are forced to cancel journal subscriptions. This worldwide problem is magnified in low-income countries; even state institutions are often unable to meet the rising costs of journal subscriptions. Although the Internet has largely overcome the problems, including delays and theft, associated with physical distribution of journals, the price barrier remains insurmountable in many cases. It is therefore widely thought that open access will be particularly beneficial to researchers in less developed countries

OA initiatives that target less wealthy nations or regions can be broadly divided into those that aim to increase the access to resources, those aiming to increase the visibility of work of authors from these areas and those which aim to increase knowledge of the available resources....

The provision of resources is not sufficient to improve access. Awareness of OA remains low in both the developed and developing world....

There is little doubt that open access initiatives have greatly improved the potential access of authors in low income countries to scientific research. Nevertheless, in the case of agreements which allow open access to
findings that are usually restricted under subscription or pay-per-view models, there are strong arguments that the scope of institutions, as well as the range of countries that are granted open access, should be enlarged. Further, there is a need for the provision of information about open access in an accessible form (and language) and the training of information professionals and scientists in less industrialised nations to ensure that those who could benefit from them are aware of and able to use open access resources. The question of whether open access allows the work of authors from less developed countries to gain more exposure is less straightforward. The author pays model presents obvious problems for less affluent institutions, as well as the more subtle issues of editorial decision making where charges are waived. Great care needs to be taken that some aspects of this model, and especially of ‘hybrid’ models where charges to allow open access are an option, do not act to reinforce the dominance of the industrialised countries over the scientific literature rather than challenging it. Finally, while gateways and repositories focusing on journals from a specific country or region are useful, the development of subject-specific resources containing the work of authors from both wealthy and less wealthy nations in a range of languages is vital to prevent the development of a ‘two-tier’ system of open access publishing and archiving.

Comment. For perspective, remember that the majority of OA journals charge no author-side fees at all and that fee-based OA journals are even rarer in the developing world than beyond it.  For example, virtually all of the OA journals published in India are no-fee journals.

Help providing OA to ETDs

The EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service) project has created an EThOS Toolkit to help UK institutions wanting to provide OA to their electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs).  From the site:

Using this toolkit will enable your institution to work in partnership with other Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and the British Library to ensure a high level of national and international visibility for UK postgraduate theses and dissertations.

EThOS aims to enable end-users to access the full text of electronically stored UK theses, in secure format, via a single Web interface. The toolkit shows how theses produced by students at your institution can be accessed, via EThOS, from the British Library or from your institutional (or consortium) repository.

Comment.  This is an important front for the OA movement and I strongly support it.  The toolkit wisely goes beyond technical and legal details to suggestions for changing the institutional culture.

EU text-mining tool for OA sources

The EU Joint Research Centre (JRC) has written text-mining software optimized for OA sources.  The purpose is to help the International Atomic Energy Agency monitor news and research for clues that a country might be violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  From yesterday's announcement:

The JRC has developed software which monitors a wide range of open access sources such as news articles, research papers, reports and satellite images. For example, the system can pick up on discrepancies in what a certain country says at different times or in different places.

Comment.  I'd like to see the EU make the software public and open the source code.  I'm assuming it works with a separable database of cues and sources relevant to nuclear non-proliferation, which could remain classified.  The software was developed at public expense, has general utility, and could serve another urgent public purpose:  accelerating scientific research.  It wouldn't be the only text-mining application around, but I'm assuming that the IAEA wouldn't have chosen it unless it had some strengths missing from other packages.  The public gains when new tools and access policies make public research more useful than it already is --and OA benefits when new tools give authors and publishers an extra incentive to make their work OA.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New OA journal in biomedicine

The International Journal of Biomedical Sciences is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by the World Enformatika Society.  The inaugural issue is now online.  (Thanks to Marcus Zillman.)

More on OA in Biblical studies

Carl Kinbar, Open Access and the SBL [Society of Biblical Literature], SBL Forum, October 2006. Excerpt:

The move toward Open Access (OA) journals is arguably one of the most important trends in academia today. It is motivated by the desire to make scholarship available to as broad a constituency as possible (especially where library budgets are increasing strained) and to scholars in the developing world. As a large and influential body of scholars, SBL members are uniquely positioned to participate in this crucial endeavor....

How successful has PLoS been? Library Journal reported, "In its second year of publication, Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology had an impact factor of 13.9, making it the highest ranked general biology journal in the world, and five OA journals from BioMed Central ranked in the top five journals in their specialties. These successes are backed by research showing that OA articles generate between 25% and 250% more citations than non-OA articles in the same journal from the same year" (Issue of April 15, 2006).

The need for broader access exists in the humanities as well....[A]ccess to current research in the humanities is restricted by financial barriers. Access to peer-reviewed journal articles in disciplines in which the SBL takes an interest is severely limited. In the field of early Judaism, for example, the online versions of even the most respected journals that publish in the field, such as the Journal of Jewish Studies, are available to relatively few....

I would like to discuss two OA journals that can serve as models of OA humanities journals — the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures and the Jewish Studies Internet Journal — and then look at ways that SBL scholars can promote Open Access in their respective fields....

Presentations on the digital data universe

The presentations from the NSF Workshop on New Collaborative Relationships: The Role of Academic Libraries in the Digital Data Universe (Arlington, Virginia, September 26-27, 2006), are now online. (Thanks to Richard Akerman.)

Update. Also see the ARL Report on the workshop.

Critique of the EPS report on journal publishing

Stevan Harnad, Critique of EPS/RIN/RCUK/DTI "Evidence-Based Analysis of Data Concerning Scholarly Journal Publishing", Open Access Archivangelism, October 9, 2006. Excerpt:

Summary: This Report on UK Scholarly Journals was commissioned by RIN, RCUK and DTI, and conducted by ELS, but its questions, answers and interpretations are clearly far more concerned with the interests of the publishing lobby than with those of the research community.

The Report's two relevant overall findings are correct and stated very fairly in their summary form:

[1] "Overall, [self-archiving] of articles in open access repositories seems to be associated with both a larger number of citations, and earlier citations for the items deposited....The reasons for this [association] have not been clearly established - there are many factors that influence citation rates... Consistent longitudinal data over a period of years... would fill this gap."

[2] "There is no evidence as yet to demonstrate any relationship (or lack of relationship) between subscription cancellations and repositories... Proving or disproving a [causal] link between availability in self-archived repositories and cancellations will be difficult without long and rigorous research."

The obvious empirical and practical conclusion to draw from the findings -- that (1) all the self-archiving evidence to date is positive for research and that (2) none of the self-archiving evidence to date is negative for publishing -- would have been that the research community should now apply and extend these findings -- by applying and extending self-archiving (through self-archiving mandates) to all UK research output, along with consistent, rigorous longitudinal studies over a period of years, to test (1) whether the positive effect on citations continues to be present (and why) and (2) whether the negative effect on subscriptions continues to be absent.

But instead, the two overall findings are hedged with volumes of special pleading, based mostly on wishful thinking, to the effect that (1') the observed relationship between self-archiving and citations may not be causal, and that (2') there may exist an as-yet-unobserved causal relationship between self-archiving and cancellations after all.

Even that would be alright, if this Report's conclusions were coupled with a clear endorsement of the proposed self-archiving mandates, so that the competing hypotheses can be put to a rigorous long-term test. But the only test the commissioners of this Report seem to be interested in conducting is "Open Option" publishing, i.e., authors paying publishers to make their article OA for them, instead of self-archiving it for themselves. This would certainly be a nice way to hold author self-archiving and institution/funder self-archiving mandates at bay for a few years more, while at the same time protecting publishers from undemonstrated risk of revenue loss. But it would also leave global unmandated self-archiving to continue to languish at the current spontaneous 15% rate that the self-archiving mandates had been meant to drive up to 100%. And it would leave research unprotected from its demonstrated risk of impact loss. The option of having to pay to provide OA is certainly not likely to enhance the unmandated rate of uptake by authors (though I'm sure publishers would have no quarrel with funder mandates to provide OA coupled with the funds to pay publishers' asking price for paid OA, as provided by the Wellcome Trust).

The longterm test will nevertheless be conducted, because four out of eight UK Research Councils have already mandated self-archiving. Their citation rates and their cancellation rates can then be compared with those for the four that have not mandated self-archiving (and whose authors hence do it spontaneously by "self-selection"). Alas this will be mostly comparing apples and oranges (e.g. MRC vs AHRC), and it will needlessly be depriving the oranges of several more years of potential growth enhancement. My guess is that all the other councils -- except possibly the paradoxical EPSRC (which evidently thinks, with the publishing lobby, that there's still some sort of pertinent pretesting to be done for a few more years here) -- will come to their senses long before that, unpersuaded by Reports like this one.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Another TA editorial on OA

Jan Tobochnik, Open access, American Journal of Physics, October 2006. An editorial. Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

Integrating OA repositories with other academic tools

Rice University and IBM are developing an open-standards architecture to integrate OA repositories with other open-source academic tools like courseware packages.  From the press release (undated but apparently October 7, 2006):

Rice University and IBM will collaborate on the development of an open-standards-based service-oriented architecture (SOA) that will help higher education institutions tie together their increasingly diverse academic software applications.

The collaboration is supported in part by IBM's Shared University Research (SUR) award program, created to exemplify the deep partnership between academia and the industry to explore research in areas essential to innovation....

"In academia today, discrete, open-source, academic applications such as courseware management systems, digital libraries and content commons are becoming central to the life of a university," said Kamran Khan, vice provost for information technology. "It is important to tie these stand-alone applications together into a more coherent whole."

IBM's gift will enable Rice to collaborate in the research and development of an open-standards-based SOA for higher education called the Rice Open Collaborative Learning Environment (Open-CLE) [PS: no web site yet]. Rice will provide a working demonstration environment to validate the approach.  "The open architecture resulting from this work will help institutions collaborate on research efforts and tie together their academic applications," said Tony Befi, IBM senior state executive for Texas. "It also will make it easier for institutions to deploy and for individuals to use open-source, online, research and education tools." ...

The work will also encourage involvement with industry-standards groups, such as the IMS Global Learning Consortium and the e-Framework for Education and Research Initiative, and other institutions interested in participating in the development of an open-source-based learning and research community....

Rick Peterson, director for academic and research computing at Rice, is eager to capitalize on open standards systems. "Rice is already utilizing great, individual, open source/open standards-based tools such as D-Space, Sakai and Connexions. With this new research project, made possible by the IBM grant, we can create a framework that will allow these applications to operate well together...."

"The SUR grant is a big step forward for open education," said Richard Baraniuk, Victor E. Cameron Professor in Engineering and founder of Connexions. "Fusing Sakai, Connexions and DSpace will make it easy for large and small educational institutions to get involved in this important movement." ...

Book publishers want to avoid mistakes of the music industry

Carter Dougherty, As books go online, publishers run for cover, International Herald Tribune, October 8, 2006. Excerpt:

"We are facing all the same risks as the music industry," said Olaf Ernst, worldwide director of e-books for Springer, a German scientific publisher. "But if our reaction is like theirs was, we will have problems." ...

The rise of e-journal access in India

Varada Rajakumar Ratnam, Tapping the e-word, The Hindu, Business Line, October 9, 2006. Excerpt:

...About a decade ago, online resource usage was almost nonexistent in our country. Thanks to the ERNET programme of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Indian Institute of Science and the IITs were networked to provide high-speed access to the intranet, the Internet, e-mail and file transfer (ftp) services.

E-journal use was still very restricted. Till 2000, digital library activity, even in premier institutions, was confined to the use of a negligible fraction of journals, by subscription, and, in addition, some free online access bundled by journals with subscriptions to their hard copy version.

One reason for this was that while institutes such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), which is a non-profit making body committed to the propagation of Electrical engineering knowledge, adopted a pricing policy for its publications and, online too, which makes subscription affordable, this is not true in the case of most publishers, many of whom apply hard copy type of prices to e-journals as well! ... 

[After the launch of] the "Indian National Digital Library in Engineering Sciences and Technology (INDEST) Consortium"...E-journal access statistics rose phenomenally and the culture of electronic browsing got set in...

Subsequently, many other universities/institutes under the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) umbrella, including some privately-owned institutions, joined the consortium with the support of the AICTE.

But the bulk of engineering institutions, particularly those owned by private managements, still do not avail of this facility....As a consequence, today even many B.Tech theses in the country are completed without consultation of research papers from reputed international journals.

The premier institutions now have access to more than 10,000 e-journals, Conference proceedings and standards under this consortium....

The UGC-INFONET, an e-journal consortium established in 2003 under the INFLIBNET, has also emerged as another active consortium mainly to cater to the digital library needs of the universities....

Improving the connectivity of institutions, revision of pricing policies of e-journals by publishers, creation of a proper policy on the usage of journal archives, and the [open-access] archiving of research output by institutions are some of the issues that need immediate attention.

More on mass digitization and OA

Trudi Bellardo Hahn, Impacts of Mass Digitization Projects on Libraries and Information Policy, Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, October/November 2006.  (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)  Excerpt:

This article summarizes highlights from a symposium presented by the University of Michigan Library and the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS). The title of the symposium was “Scholarship and Libraries in Transition: A Dialogue about the Impacts of Mass Digitization Projects.” The author, former executive director of NCLIS, prepared and NCLIS published a 24-page report that is available at – Editor....

The Webcast of the symposium is [online here]....

The key questions for information policy clustered into four areas of discussion.

1. How should important aspects of copyright – fair use, orphan works, opt-in vs. opt-out models – be handled in digitization projects? ...

2. Quality: When is the quality of OCR good enough? What about quality of content and authentication? ...

3. What are the roles of publishers and booksellers in the digital age? ...

4. What business models are needed in the era of mass digitization? How will the open access movement affect the economics of digitization?

In the Internet’s early days, it was assumed that access to valuable information would be a “pay per drink” or “pay-per-view” model, even though that would make access to information unaffordable for some. What has evolved instead is either free or advertiser-supported information. This model appears to be continuing with the Google and other mass digitization projects.

Viable and sustainable technological innovations do not spring forth suddenly without a period of experimentation during which an economic model is developed. For example, iPods and the selling of billions of songs would not exist today without Napster. However, the economic model is much harder to develop for books because users are not helping to build the ecology as they did with music. Google is stepping forward to do it and to take the risks. According to Tim O’Reilly, “This is why the Google Library Project matters.”

Open access. Many inside and outside the publishing field think that open access sounds exactly like publishing, and they question the sustainability of that model. If all of this is becoming a public good, who is going to pay for it? 

Supporters of the Open Content Alliance say that it fits in the digital world in a variety of ways. It is building a collection of openly accessible information. The University of California is trying to scale up to digitizing 5000 books a month – largely out of copyright materials. 

On the other hand, a lot of the value in Google is its vast amount of content, which is not true for the Open Content Alliance....

More on Spanish addition to the Google Library Project

Susanne Bjørner, Google Library Project Expands to Spain, Information Today, October 9, 2006.  Excerpt:

The Universidad Complutense Madrid has become the first library in continental Europe and in a non-English speaking country to join the 2-year-old Google Book Search program. With 3 million volumes, the Complutense Library is the second largest in Spain, following only the National Library....

A well-developed university Web site explaining the program was available immediately....

Complutense is the seventh library to announce a Google Library Project partnership....

Essentially, this means a huge qualitative leap for Complutense’s digitization efforts, which are already claimed to be the largest in Spain and one of the largest in Europe. In addition to electronic versions of theses and journals published in the university, Complutense has the Biblioteca Digital Dioscórides, which offers free public access through the Internet to the full text of a 2,500-volume collection of books (and 40,000 images) in the history of science and the humanities....

With Google, Complutense claims that it will be able to achieve results within its 6-year project that would otherwise require 100 years to reach. Equally important is the lift in carrying out the mission of this important university in the nation’s capital. “It is a unique opportunity to be able to democratize the knowledge that our library houses,” said José Antonio Magán, director of the Complutense library. “For many years libraries have zealously guarded a large and important part of the knowledge of mankind. … Now we are going to open our doors, open our shelves, and throw the books open not only to the street but to the computer.”

Magán suggested that about 10 percent of the library’s holdings will be digitized under this program. This totals 300,000 documents, at least 135,000 of which will be books and journals published before 1866. Works from the Marqués de Valdecilla historical library are first up for scanning. Books from libraries in law, language and literature, and medicine will follow....

Though significant, the Complutense project is not the first large digitization project to make Spanish literature freely available. La Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes (BVMC) was inaugurated in July 1999 through a partnership between the University of Alicante and Grupo Santander. It now has a collection of more than 14,000 books, journals, newspapers, and dissertations pertaining to Spain and Latin America....

Visions of OA from the JISC conference

The time is right for open access, delegates hear, a press release from JISC. Excerpt:

The time is right to move towards open access, said Director General of CERN Dr Robert Aymar at the opening of the two day JISC conference held in Oxford this week. While new technologies have made it possible for authors to reach readers directly, publishers should work to position themselves as more flexible guarantors of quality in the digital age.

Outlining the work of CERN’s Task Force on Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics, which published its report in June, Dr Aymar spoke of the three-year transition programme detailed in the report which is establishing open access models of publishing research outputs in particle physics journals.

Publishers, he reported, have been ‘generally positive’ in their response to the report and the transition programme which has had the effect, he said, of increasing the returns on research funding in particle physics....

Earlier Dr Malcolm Read, JISC Executive Secretary, had welcomed more than two hundred delegates to the conference, including many from abroad, saying that the idea that the fruits of publicly funded research should be made openly available was ‘a massively important and powerful vision.’ The demands of data-led research are a significant factor, he suggested, in the need to explore ways of overcoming cultural and technical barriers to open access.

Later Robert Terry of the Wellcome Trust, which funds researchers in bio-medicine, spoke of the trust’s mandate which means that from next week (1 October) researchers in receipt of research grants from the Wellcome Trust will be required to deposit their articles in UK PubMed Central, the UK version of the open access repository for the medical sciences. Open access, he said, ‘is about improving research’, not about reforming the publishing industry.

Publishers themselves were strongly represented at the conference ...[including] Martin Richardson of OUP Journals...[and] Martin Blume, editor in chief of the journals of the American Physical Society....

Keynote speaker Professor John Houghton, from Victoria University, Melbourne, presented an analysis of some of the wider benefits of opening up access to research outputs. There are, he suggested, strong economic reasons for exploring and implementing more open models of scholarly communications. Another keynote speaker, Johannes Fournier, of German research body DFG, spoke of developments in Germany and in particular of some of the attempts to overcome the cultural barriers that hamper the growth of institutional repositories in Germany....

A full report on the two-day conference is being prepared. More details to follow shortly.

New OA policy at Austria's science funding agency

Austria's Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF, Fund for the Promotion of Scientific Research) has adopted an open access policy.  (Thanks to Matt Cockerill.)  The FWF is Austria's central, public funding agency for scientific research. 

So far, the policy is only available in German; but until it's translated, see Google's English

The FWF policy lies between a request and a mandate, like the policy of Germany's DFG.  It asks [fordert] all FWF-funded researchers to make their publications OA either by publishing in an OA journal or by depositing copies in an OA repository (which may be institutional or disciplinary).  FWF also asks its grantees not to give publishers exclusive rights and offers to pay the fees charged by fee-based OA journals.

It appears that the new policy was adopted on October 6, 2006. 

Comment. Kudos to the FWF.  If we count this policy in the mandate column, it not only enlarges the number of OA mandates adopted by public funding agencies worldwide, but enlarges the number adopted this month (four new mandates from the RCUK and one older mandate expanded by the Wellcome Trust).

New open standard for open and closed courseware

Doug Lederman, Opening Up Online Learning, Inside Higher Ed, October 9, 2006. Excerpt:
[T]hree dozen academic publishers, providers of learning management software, and others have agreed on a common, open standard that will make it possible to move digital content into and out of widely divergent online education systems without expensive and time consuming reengineering. The agreement by the diverse group of publishers and software companies, who compete intensely with one another, is being heralded as an important breakthrough that could expand the array of digital content available to professors and students and make it easier for colleges to switch among makers of learning systems.

Of course, that’s only if the new standard, known as the “Common Cartridge,” becomes widely adopted, which is always the question with developments deemed to be potential technological advances.

Many observers believe this one has promise, especially because so many of the key players have been involved in it. Working through the IMS Global Learning Consortium, leading publishers like Pearson Education and McGraw-Hill Education and course-management system makers such as Blackboard, ANGEL Learning and open-source Sakai have worked to develop the technical specifications for the common cartridge, and all of them have vowed to begin incorporating the new standard into their products by next spring — except Blackboard, which says it will do so eventually, but has not set a timeline for when.

What exactly is the Common Cartridge? In lay terms, it is a set of specifications and standards, commonly agreed to by an IMS working group, that would allow digitally produced content — supplements to textbooks such as assessments or secondary readings, say, or faculty-produced course add-ons like discussion groups — to “play,” or appear, the same in any course management system, from proprietary ones like Blackboard/WebCT and Desire2Learn to open source systems like Moodle and Sakai....

Supporters hope that adoption of the common cartridge will allow publishers to spend less time and money adapting one textbook’s digital content for multiple course platforms and more time producing more and better content. “This should have the result of broadening choice in content to institutions,” says Catherine Burdt, an analyst at Eduventures, an education research firm. “Colleges would no longer be limited to the content that’s supported by their LMS platform, but could now go out and choose the best content that aligns with what’s happening in their curriculum.” ...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

More on OA in anthropology

American Anthropological Association Takes a Step Towards Sanity: Kind Of, Afarensis, October 7, 2006. Excerpt:

We, in the anthropological community, have a vital interest in [open access and FRPAA]. A recent study indicated fewer Americans accepted evolution than any other country but Turkey, yet evolution forms one of the core study areas of anthropology. One has but to look around to see the rampant stereotyping and cultural misunderstanding of "Others" rampant among the American public (and politicians) to realize the need for widely publicizing the field of anthropology. Merely talking about anthropology and explaining it, though, is not enough. When you hide it away in journals that most people do not have access to, or worse yet have never heard of, it makes it harder for people to accept the results of that research. It also makes it easier for people to dismiss us as "Ivory towered elites". I am all for open access and encourage those of you who read my blog to contact the AAA and make your voice heard....

PS:  Just for the record:  The AAA itself hasn't yet taken a step towards sanity.  The recent endorsement of open access and FRPAA came from the AnthroSource Steering Committee, an arm of the AAA, and calls on the AAA to reconsider its opposition to FRPAA.

More on anthropologists for FRPAA

Kambiz Kamrani, AnthroSource Steering Committee dissents from the AAA and endorses FRPAA,, October 7, 2006.  Excerpt:

On June 12th this year all hell broke loose when the American Anthropological Association (AAA) decided to oppose the FRPAA (Federal Research Public Access Act). It generated lots of fervor amongst the blogosphere, specifically amongst me, afarensis, and Savage Minds....

To many of you this may seem like bureaucratic bickering and power struggles of an academic elite, and to some extent it is. How it affects you, as I've outlined before, is that our tax payer money that goes towards research, and cultural resource management is effectively being funnelled into the private pockets. When the AAA opposed compliance to open access to federally funded research, they in effect were taking all the artifacts and manuscripts of our collective knowledge and keeping it to themselves.

Filling institutional repositories

Monica McCormick, Filling Institutional Repositories by Serving the University’s Needs, a Master's thesis for the M.S. in L.S. degree, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, April, 2006.  (Thanks to Allan Cho.)  Excerpt:
This paper suggests that institutional repositories will more successfully challenge the current system of scholarly communication if they first address the needs of local stakeholders: not only the library, but also the university archives, the faculty, students, information technology department, university press, and the campus administration. After describing the contexts of IR emergence, the paper examines the vision for and current deployment of institutional repositories. Finally, it explores the needs of each stakeholder group in relation to digital material, and outlines how an IR might benefit each of them. The thesis is that institutional repositories will become a strong part of the campus infrastructure only if they solve problems for stakeholders beyond the library. Once that is accomplished, we may begin to see how IRs can influence the wider system of scholarly communications.