Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, October 28, 2006

ProQuest offers OA option for ETDs

ProQuest has launched UMI Open Access Publishing.  From the site:

Open Access is a term used to describe content that a reader can access free of charge. With the new UMI® Open Access publishing service, graduate students can now publish their dissertations and theses with ProQuest on an open access basis. Those graduate student authors that choose to publish their graduate works on an open access basis will be significantly increasing the reach of their research....

The primary benefit of Open Access publishing is that it guarantees the widest possible exposure of your graduate research. It can also help ensure that the officially published version of your dissertation or thesis is the most widely available version in the primary literature....

In addition to the standard features of our Traditional publishing service - rigorous quality assurance, assignment of an ISBN, permanent storage in our microfilm vault, and so on - the Open Access publishing service includes the following:

  • Free, public access to your graduate work in PQDT Open, our online repository of Open Access graduate works (launching in late fall 2006).
  • Free access to your graduate work for all institutional subscribers to ProQuest® Dissertations & Theses (PQDT), the database of record for graduate research.
  • Explicit author permission for the degree-granting institution to make the full text of your graduate work available to the world through their institutional repository.

How does Open Access publishing compare with ProQuest's  Traditional publishing service?  Read more here about the details and see a comparison chart showing the benefits of our Open Access and Traditional Publishing services....

Learn more about how Open Access publishing works in our downloadable Overview, and check out our Open Access Publishing FAQ.

Search engine for Australian and NZ repositories

Arthur Sale has created a Google Custom search engine, AuseSearch, covering all the OA repositories in Australia and New Zealand.

Google Custom search engine for LIS blogs

LibraryZen has created LisZen, a Google Custom search engine drawing on 500+ library-related blogs, including Open Access News.

PS:  Google Custom search is very spreading fast and I don't plan to blog all the new search engines, even those focusing on academic sites and topics. 

More Google Custom search engines in service to OA

Charles Bailey has added four Google Custom search engines to Open Access Update, the RSS feed and web site woven of many individual OA-related feeds.  One of the new search engines covers the Mailing Lists in the collection, one covers the Serials, one covers the Weblogs, and one covers the Wikis.

The variable costs of publishing

Heather Morrison, Open Access and the Cost of Publishing, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, October 27, 2006. Excerpt:

Abstract: this post looks at the cost of publishing and dissemination in relationship with open access. The wide range of costs per article - from nothing, to thousands of dollars - is explained. A journal that relies on free, open source software, volunteer labor, and in-kind server support, may have no hard dollar costs. A commercial journal with paid editorial staff, profits and taxes to deal with, may have substantial expenditures.

Friday, October 27, 2006

More on CERN's plan to convert physics journals to OA

In preparation for its meeting next week, Establishing a sponsoring consortium for Open Access publishing in particle physics (Geneva, November 3, 2006), CERN has posted some background documents for the participants.  (Thanks to Jens Vigen.)

From the briefing document:

A meeting has been called at CERN on November 3rd 2006 to work towards establishing a consortium of major particle physics funding agencies, aimed at guiding a transition of the current subscription model for journals to a more stable, more competitive and more affordable future for the dissemination of quality-assured scientific information adapted to the era of electronic publishing....

The [June 2006] report concluded that as a number of journals in the field were ready to experiment with OA, and as a number of large research institutions were ready to support these titles both financially and by author encouragement, the remaining action necessary was to make a funding arrangement, called SCOAP3 – a Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics.

In summary, the publishers of the main journals are ready to offer author-fee publishing and enter into discussions about OA publishing. The research community itself is better educated than ever before about the problems with the current model and the necessity for a shift. The world outside physics is moving in the same direction. The remaining challenge is to reorganize funding of publication and to raise funds to support the transition to the new system. The particle physics publishing sphere will again become stable and the various players can benefit from the technical efficiencies that an OA landscape should enable....

Based on the cost per article quoted by the publishers, and the number of articles published in the period 2003-2005, sponsoring all journals ready for OA at the time of the task force enquiry would have required an annual budget of 5-6 M€. To start a significant OA exercise today, it is estimated that at least 3 M€/year will be needed. It should be noted that this sum is significantly less than the present global expenditure for particle physics journal subscriptions....

The consortium will offer to collaborate with all publishers proposing OA solutions. However, only journals corresponding to a set of criteria to be defined by the consortium will enjoy financial sponsorship. To ensure academic freedom for the particle physics community the consortium will commit itself to raise sufficient funds to ensure the availability of more than one journal title for each related sub-discipline. It is expected that the purchasing power of the consortium will have a significant influence on the publishing market.

Tentatively a transition period of 3-5 years should be envisaged to allow time for grant cycles to be adapted to author-side financing of publishing costs and for publishers to fine tune their OA policies....

A risk inherent in this model is that the community pays twice for a journal, namely for the subscription and for the article fees. Therefore, to profit from consortium sponsoring, publishers must make a firm commitment to lower the subscriptions. By this means, SCOAP3 can target individual journals for maximum cost reduction impact. Funding agencies must immediately introduce a mandate so that after the transition period all grants will require OA publication and include funds to cover such costs. After this time the role of SCOAP3 will be re-evaluated.

CERN invites institutions who support the plan to email their comments and has already posted two of the letters of support.  One letter is from the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY):

DESY fully supports Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics and we would like to see it realized within a short time scale.  It is of great importance for DESY to be actively and constructively involved in the forthcoming discussions aiming at establishing a Sponsoring Consortium.  Hence, the DESY Research Director, Professor Dr. Rolf-Dieter Heuer, will participate in the first CERN meeting on this subject on November 3, 2006.

Another supporting letter is from the University of Patras in Greece:

At the University of Patras we are closely following the new trends in dissemination of scientific results and we have a strong belief in that if the ideas of the open access movement will be generally adopted by the community, it will imply better access to science both for researchers and the society at large. The Rectorate of the University would therefore like to take the opportunity to express its support (with a symbolic financial support of 5000 CHF) for the personal initiative you have demonstrated by creating a task force to study the situation for particle physics. The report, which we have read with great interest, has certainly the potential to be used as basis for changing the publishing scenery of particle physics, and the model should also be applicable to most other branches of science....

Hopefully the change in the publishing paradigm will lead up to further changes as well. So far the electronic journals have just reproduced the traditional paper journals in an electronic manner. Electronic publishing has though a potential much beyond this....

Comment. For background, see the Report of CERN's Task Force on Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (June 22, 2006) and my short article about it in SOAN for September 2006.

The CERN plan is the most ambitious OA initiative taking place in any field today.  Nowhere else is any group trying to convert all the journals in a field to OA or to bring the stakeholders together to raise the money to fund a permanent alternative to journal subscriptions.  We'll all be watching with interest.

The Open Content Alliance at age one

A Year Later, OCA Members Gather in San Francisco To Take Stock, Library Journal Academic Newswire, October 27, 2006. Excerpt:

It's all "catching on," says Internet Archive founder and Open Content Alliance pioneer Brewster Kahle. Last week, on October 20, the first anniversary of the formation of the Open Content Alliance (OCA), 100 delegates from 40 organizations, including the Internet Archive, the University of California, Berkeley, the British Library and the Smithsonian, gathered in San Francisco to assess the efforts of the alliance to date. And if the OCA has failed to make as many headlines as its corporate competitors, it is nevertheless making steady progress with its scanning efforts. Kahle told the LJ Academic Newswire that, one year into the project, the OCA has moved from its "big picture" beginnings to the more nuts and bolt issues....

As the project progresses, member meetings could soon become quarterly events, he said.

After its first year, OCA has now scanned and cataloged over 30,000 books, available on its site. Today, OCA scans about 500 books a day and expects output to increase tenfold by the end of 2007. OCA partners include Yahoo!, the University of California, the British Library, Smithsonian Institution, University of Illinois, Boston Library Consortium, European Archive, O'Reilly Media, Research Library Group, as well as many other academic, technological, non-profit, and government organizations. Perhaps most importantly, Kahle said the OCA discussions honed in on the "open" in the Open Content Alliance. For OCA, the effort is more than a race to scan library book content for a commercial index, but extends to the use of that content. With OCA, "public domain means public domain," Kahle noted. "That was one of the 'aha' moments, that open as we know it may not be open enough and that the digitized public domain must be public domain. Libraries understand this; so does Yahoo." That means, Kahle says, once public domain books are scanned, there are "no restrictions at all on users, and anyone can build any service on top of it." In contrast, he noted, restrictions in some of Google's library partner contracts appear to limit how some library copies of public domain books scanned in Google Book Search can be used by parties outside the library.


Manchester Metropolitan University has launched an OA institutional repository.  For more details, see today's announcement.

Will Australia make govt publications OA?

Tom Worthington, Make Australian Government Publications Open Access by Christmas, Net Traveller, October 27, 2006. Excerpt:

In my talk for the Canberra Society of Editors on Wednesday I proposed that the Australian Government make its publications open access.

This would need just two phrases of six words removed from the Commonwealth Copyright notice used on Australian Government web pages. That would lift the restriction preventing copies of government documents being made (the restriction on selling copies could be retained).

To make this change clearer I also proposed the Australian Government adopt the Australian version of the Creative Commons license (developed by the QUT Law School and Blake Dawson Waldron Lawyers), with the options for "Attribution", "Non-Commercial" and "No Derivative Works.
This would give the Australian Government a competitive advantage when it comes to getting their policies widely known.

At the Web Standards Group meeting on Thursday, Tim Dale from the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), mentioned that revised government web guidelines would be released in December.  I suggested to Tim the new guidelines could include a revised Commonwealth Copyright notice incorporating a Creative Commons license. He seemed to like the idea and said it would be looked at....

More on the declaration of independence at Elsevier's Topology

Richard Monastersky, Editorial Board of Elsevier Journal Resigns in Protest Over Pricing, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 27, 2006. Excerpt:

The entire editorial board of the prestigious mathematics journal Topology has resigned to protest the pricing policies of the journal's publisher, Elsevier, a giant European editorial company.

"Topology has a very high price per page," said Marc Lackenby, a member of the editorial board and a professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford. "Elsevier as a whole doesn't seem to be acting in the interest of the mathematical community."

The New York Sun published an article on Thursday describing the resignations, which were announced over the summer and take effect on December 31....

[Lackenby] and his co-editors sent a letter on August 10 to Robert Ross, the Elsevier publisher in charge of pure-mathematics journals, announcing their resignations. In the letter, the board members said, "We believe that the price, in combination with Elsevier's policies for pricing mathematical journals more generally, has had a significant and damaging effect on Topology's reputation in the mathematical-research community, and that this is likely to become increasingly serious and difficult, indeed impossible, to reverse in the future."

In a statement released by Elsevier on Thursday, the company said it "regrets the decision taken by the editorial board of Topology, but we believe it doesn't fully reflect the changes we have made over the past decade, and continue to make, which have moderated price increases and provided considerably more value for customers, in terms of both cost per article and research efficiency."

According to Mr. Lackenby, the high cost of the journal, which has an institutional price of $1,665 per year in the United States, was hurting its quality. "Many mathematicians were beginning to boycott the journal," he said. The editors had noticed a drop in the number of high-quality papers submitted for publication and also a decline in the number of mathematicians willing to serve as peer reviewers. As a result, he said, "the recent issues have been quite a bit thinner."

Mr. Lackenby said "the overwhelming response of the mathematical community has been to back our resignation." Moreover, he said, "there was an overwhelming point of view that Elsevier was exploiting the mathematical community."

When Peter Woit, a lecturer in mathematics at Columbia University, posted a note about the resignations on his blog, Not Even Wrong, it attracted 49 comments, many of which expressed displeasure with Elsevier.

This is not the first time that an editorial board has revolted at an Elsevier publication. In 1999 the 50-member board of the Journal of Logic Programming resigned and formed a new journal, according to Peter Suber, a research professor of philosophy at Earlham College and an advocate of open-access publishing.

Mr. Suber has used his blog devoted to open-access issues to list cases in which editors had left journals to start lower-cost or free alternatives. According to Mr. Suber, Elsevier faced another uprising by topologists in 2001, when some editors of Topology and Its Applications resigned and later formed Algebraic and Geometric Topology....

PS:  Minor correction:  The Chronicle cites my page of lists, not my blog.

What's coming for scientific research articles

Timo Hannay, The Scientific Paper of the Future, a slide presentation for the the Microsoft eScience Workshop at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, October 13-15, 2006).  (Thanks to Richard Akerman.)   Timo is the Director of Web Publishing at the Nature Publishing Group.

Southampton's OA archiving jacks up its web impact

Stevan Harnad, Why is Southampton's G-Factor (web impact metric) so high? Open Access Archivangelism, October 26, 2006. Excerpt:

U. Southampton ranks 3rd in the UK and 25th in the world in the G-factor International University Ranking, a measure of "the importance or relevance of the university from the combined perspectives of all of the leading universities in the world... as a function of the number of links to their websites from the websites of other leading international universities" compiled by University Metrics.
      Why is U. Southampton's rank so remarkably high (second only to Cambridge and Oxford in the UK, and out-ranking the likes of Yale, Columbia and Brown in the US)?
      Long practising what it has been preaching -- about maximising research impact through Open Access Self-Archiving -- is a likely factor. (This is largely a competitive advantage: Southampton invites other universities to come and level the playing field -- by likewise self-archiving their own research output!)

PS:  Stevan and I (and many others) have long argued that when universities provide OA to their research output, they raise their visibility and impact.  If you're reading this, then you've certainly heard the argument before.  But did you know that University Metrics was measuring this kind of institutional visibility and impact?

OA repositories and the information commons

Anita Sundaram Coleman and three co-authors, Competing information realities: Digital libraries, repositories and the commons, a forthcoming conference presentation, self-archived October 26, 2006.
Abstract:   This is a forthcoming panel at ASIS&T AM 2006, Nov. 6, 2006 (1:30 - 3:30 pm). Presenters: Donald Kraft, Louisiana State University & Editor, JASIST; Edie Rasmussen, University of British Columbia, Samantha Hastings, University of South Carolina & Editor, ASIS&T Monograph Series; and Anita Coleman, University of Arizona and Editor, dLIST. Sponsor: SIG DL. The goal of the panel is to explore the concept of the commons by framing it in the context of scholarly communication while also honing our understandings about digital libraries and repositories as technologies and socio-cultural artifacts. Panel members will uncover the pros and cons of the commons for LIS research and scholarly communication by describing the cognate and competing extant information realities. Edie Rasmussen will discuss the role of digital libraries in the commons. Anita Coleman, dLIST editor, the first open access archive for the information sciences will present her latest research about open access archives and the commons. Donald Kraft, Editor-in-chief of JASIST, will share his experiences editing a peer-reviewed ISI-ranked journal. Samantha Hastings, editor of ASIS&T monographs will share book publishing plans and concerns. This document contains brief overviews of the panel presentations together with the questions of each presenter for the audience/other panelists.

Two more Google Custom search engines from SHERPA

Bill Hubbard at SHERPA has made two more OA-related search engines from Google Custom Search.  From his announcement:

Following on from the OpenDOAR Search that we launched yesterday, we have just created two new *SHERPA Search* services which may be of interest.

One is for all UK Open Access Repositories -

One search facility is for SHERPA Partner repositories -

They are also accessible from the SHERPA Home Page.

In each case, these search facilities may be useful for those of us wishing to search one of these sub-sets of the world's open access repository material. As we have pointed out on the site, for researchers looking for information in their field, then the global search service of OpenDOAR might be more appropriate. However, we have received enough queries and suggestions over the past few years to think that a full-text search service for the UK or for SHERPA Partners may be of benefit to some users like advocates or administrators; for example, in establishing a national picture of particular research....

What the Google tool does do is to give a quick and useful search from specified repositories or other sites. We have included the 800 plus assessed OpenDOAR repositories for the global OpenDOAR search, and nearly 80 repositories for the UK Search, but of course, the specification could be quite small - say 3 or 4.

This opens up other ideas and possibilities. It certainly gives a quick solution to searching across a number of repositories based at the same institution. For example, here in Nottingham we have Nottingham ePrints, Nottingham eTheses and Nottingham eDissertations among others. I know that in a number of institutions, there may be one or more separate repositories that have been set-up within a department - often, but not exclusively a computer science department. The Google tool gives the opportunity to have a cross-repository search within the institution.

These services are a trial: they not perfect and there may be some oddities thrown up from the Google system, but they are producing interesting results and raising some new ideas. We are collecting feedback and will pass this on to Google.

Comparing Google Custom searches with Vanilla Google searches for OA content

Andy Powell, Pushing an OpenDOAR, eFoundations, October 27, 2006.  These comments on the new OpenDOAR search engine probably apply just as well to the new ROAR search engine.  Excerpt:

The OpenDOAR directory of open access repositories has announced a new search service based on Google's Custom Search Engine facility.  Good stuff - though for me it raises several questions of policy and implementation....

I thought I'd do a little experiment, to try and compare results from the new OpenDOAR search service with results from a bog standard Google search....

What these results say to me is that, for known item searching at least, there is little evidence that Google is losing our research nuggets within large results sets.  What Google is doing is to push the nuggets to the top of the list.  In fact, in some cases at least, I suspect one could argue that the vanilla Google search is surrounding those nuggets with valuable non-repository resources that are missed in the OpenDOAR repository-only search engine.

For me, this exercise raises three interesting questions:

  1. Are repositories successfully exposing the full-text of articles (the PDF file or whatever) to Google rather than (or as well as) the abstract page?  If not, then they should be.  I think there is some evidence from these results that some repositories are only exposing the abstract page, not the full-text.  For a full-text search engine, this is less than optimal.  My suspicion is that the way that Google uses the OAI-PMH to steer its Web crawling is actually working against us here and that we either need to work with Google to improve the way this works, or bite the bullet and ask repository software developers to support Google sitemaps in order to improve the way that Google indexes our repositories.
  2. Are we consistent in the way we create hypertext links between research papers in repositories?  If not, then we should be.  In the context of Google searches, linking is important because each link to a paper increases its Google-juice, which helps to push that paper towards the top of Google's search results.  Researchers currently have the option of linking either direct to the full-text (or one of several full-texts) or to the abstract page.  This choice ultimately results in a lowering of the Google-juice assigned to both the paper and the abstract page - potentially pushing both further down the list of Google search results.  The situation is made worse by the use of OpenURLs, which do nothing for the Google-juice of the resource that they identify, in effect working against the way the Web works.  If we could agree on a consistent way of linking to materials in repositories, we would stand to improve the visibility of our high-quality research outputs in search engines like Google.
  3. What is the role of metadata in a full-text indexing world?  What the mini-experiment above and all my other experience says to me is that full-text indexing clearly works.  In terms of basic resource discovery, we're much better off exposing the full-text of research papers to search engines for indexing, than we are exposing metadata about those papers.  Is metadata therefore useless?  No.  We need metadata to support the delivery of other bibliographic services.  In particular we need metadata to capture those attributes that are useful for searching, ranking and linking but that can't reliably be derived from the resource itself.  I'm thinking here primarily of the status of the paper and of the relationships between the paper and other things - the relationships between papers and people and organisations, the relationships between different versions, between different translations, between different formats and between different copies of a paper.  These are the kinds of relationships that we have been trying to capture in our work on the DC Eprints Application Profile.  It is these relationships that are important in the metadata, much moreso than the traditional description and keywords kind of metadata.

Overall, what I conclude from this (once again) is that it is not the act of depositing a paper in a repository that is important for open access, but the act of surfacing the paper on the Web - the repository is just a means to en end in that respect.  More fundamentally, I conclude that the way we configure, run and use repositories has to fit in with the way the Web works - not work against it or around it!  First and foremost, our 'resource discovery' efforts should centre on exposing the full text of research papers in repositories to search engines like Google and on developing Web-friendly and consistent approaches to creating hypertext links between research papers.

Another full-text cross-archive search engine

Les Carr at Southampton University has created a ROAR Search Engine, which searches the 748 OA repositories registered at ROAR.   Like the OpenDOAR search engine, launched yesterday, the new ROAR engine is built from Google Custom Search.  Here are Les' comments on the new ROAR engine from a posting this morning to the AmSci OA Forum:

[The OpenDOAR search engine] is a very interesting service!

There was a discussion on this list at the beginning of August about "Search Engines for Repositories Only". There were several attempts to define constrained searches using RollYO or similar, but they all suffered from one defect or another (too few sites, or logins required etc). The Google Custom Search that OpenDOAR have set up seems much more suitable to the repository community needs. Further, it would seem to be fairly simple to set up Country-specific searches (a la UKOLN's EPrints UK) by providing location-identifying annotations for each repository.

I have had a go with this, and created a ROAR-based Repository Search Engine [here].  You can search all the ROAR repositories for a keyword and then Derek Law can click on 'Scottish Research' to reduce the set of results to those coming from the Scottish repositories (the "small and smart" ones, according to his recent keynote at Open Scholarship :-)

There is a serious point that this opens up: why would we bother with OAI-based repositories, if you can do it all with Google? The advantage that OAI provided us was "metadata", ie the possibility of providing more accurate resource identification. The advantage of repositories were that they provided an identifiable source of (well- maintained) research material. Of course, the one can be simulated by the other, and if Google could support a simple quality control "refereed material" tag then we could get by without OAI and without repositories.

Well, it doesn't, and so OAI still seems our best hope. However, even with five years of OAI our repositories are not doing a very good job of sharing metadata that helps a service to comprehend the status of the holdings that it harvests (is this a published, refereed journal article or equivalent? Is this a paper from an unrefereed workshop? is this a chemical data file?) Too much is still down to interpretation and subsequent data mining of the web pages. The Eprints Application Profile seems to be doing a good job in achieving consensus in the use of Dublin Core, but there is an urgent need for it to be implemented by all repositories!

We've spent a lot of time and effort on advocacy and policies over the last couple of years, but I think it's time that we went back to some of the technical fundamentals and made sure that our information interoperability is up to scratch, otherwise we'll find ourselves in a universe where the only thing you can do is a keyword search!


  1. The ROAR search engine is as welcome as the OpenDOAR engine and for the same reasons.  Kudos to Bill Hubbard (at OpenDOAR) and Les Carr (at ROAR) for getting these off the ground.  I'd still like to see ROAR and OpenDOAR merge, rather than take the valuable time of valued OA activists to build duplicate services, but this doesn't detract in the slightest from the utility of their latest features.
  2. As for Les' reflections on the continuing utility of OAI, see my May 2004 article, The case for OAI in the age of Google
  3. If I were revising that article today, I'd add that Google (and Google Scholar and Google Custom Search) could neutralize some of the remaining advantages of OAI if it would (1) label peer-reviewed articles as peer-reviewed and (2) label OA articles as OA.  It could make strides toward the first if it used, instead of discarding, the metadata it found in OA repositories.  To make strides toward the second it would have to produce an OA-detecting algorithm that could distinguish an abstract from a full-text article.  Authors could help by using machine-readable CC licenses, since the Google advanced search page already has a "usage rights" filter to limit results to CC-licensed content.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Full-text cross-archive search from OpenDOAR

OpenDOAR has created a Google Custom Search engine for the 800+ open-access repositories in its directory.  From today's announcement:

OpenDOAR - the Directory of Open Access Repositories - is pleased to announce the release of a trial search service for academics and researchers around the world....

OpenDOAR already provides a global Directory of freely available open access repositories that hold research material: now it also offers a full-text search service from this list of quality-controlled repositories. This trial service has been made possible through the recent launch by Google of its innovative and exciting Custom Search Engine, which allows OpenDOAR to define a search service based on the Directory holdings.

It is well known that a simple full-text search of the whole web will turn up thousands upon thousands of junk results, with the valuable nuggets of information often being lost in the sheer number of results. Users of the OpenDOAR service can search through the world's open access repositories of freely available research information, with the assurance that each of these repositories has been assessed by OpenDOAR staff as being of academic value. This quality controlled approach will help to minimise spurious or junk results and lead more directly to useful and relevant information. The repositories listed by OpenDOAR have been assessed for their full-text holdings, helping to ensure that results have come from academic repositories with open access to their contents.

This service does not use the OAI-PMH protocol to underpin the search, or use the metadata held within repositories. Instead, it relies on Google's indexes, which in turn rely on repositories being suitably structured and configured for the Googlebot web crawler. Part of OpenDOAR's work is to help repository administrators improve access to and use of their repositories' holdings: advice about making a repository suitable for crawling by Google is given on the site. This service is designed as a simple and basic full-text search and is intended to compliment and not compete with the many value-added search services currently under development.

A key feature of OpenDOAR is that all of the repositories we list have been visited by project staff, tested and assessed by hand. We currently decline about a quarter of candidate sites as being broken, empty, out of scope, etc. This gives a far higher quality assurance to the listings we hold than results gathered by just automatic harvesting. OpenDOAR has now surveyed over 1,100 repositories, producing a classified Directory of over 800 freely available archives of academic information.

Comment.  This is a brilliant use of the new Google technology.  When searching for research on deposit in OA repositories, it's better than straight Google, by eliminating false positives --though straight Google is better if you want to find OA content outside repositories at publisher or personal websites.  It's potentially better than OAIster and other OAI-based search engines, by going beyond metadata to full-text --though not all OA repositories are configured to facilitate full-text Google crawling.  If Google isn't crawling your repository, consult OpenDOAR or try these suggestions.

More on journal prices, funder mandates, and OA

Christoph Podewils, Forschungsergebnisse zum Nulltarif, Berliner Zeitung, October 26, 2006.  (Thanks to Jörg Kantel.)  Read it in German or in Google's English.

More on OA to public data in the UK

Mike Cross, Ordnance Survey in the dock again, The Guardian, October 26, 2006. Excerpt:

On one side of an electoral boundary, people might buy sun-blushed tomatoes; on the other, economy baked beans. Retailers like to know such things, so data from the 2001 census is of great commercial interest - and also the subject of the latest controversy in the Free Our Data debate.

Last week, the Association of Census Distributors filed a complaint against a state-owned entity, Ordnance Survey, over the conditions placed on the re-use of intellectual property in census data. It is the second time this year that the national mapping agency has been the subject of a complaint to the government's Office of Public Sector Information.....

Technology Guardian's Free Our Data campaign proposes that the best way to avoid such disputes is for basic data sets collected at taxpayers' expense to be made freely available for any purpose (subject to privacy and national security constraints). While this would involve more direct funding for agencies such as Ordnance Survey, the economy as a whole would gain. At the moment, says [Peter Sleight of Target Marketing Consultancy], the national good is compromised because of a single trading fund's commercial needs.

Google custom search for OA medical sources

Dean Giustini has used Google Custom Search to create a search engine for OA medical sources that he calls Google Medicine.

Comment.  Google has made it very easy to set up powerful search engines for particular sites or topics.  (Yesterday I made one for my blog, newsletter, and writings on OA.)  I expect to see specialty search engines --like Dean's-- spread quickly to every conceivable research niche.  Of course each one will be optimized for OA content. 

Suggestion to Dean:  drop Wikipedia and stick to peer-reviewed sources or make a second version that sticks to peer-reviewed sources.

Implementing an institutional repository

Meredith Farkas has blogged some notes on Roy Tenant's talk on institutional repositories at Internet Librarian 2006 (Monterey, October 23-25, 2006). Excerpt:

I knew that Roy would be likely to give a very practical nuts-and-bolts introduction to developing institutional repositories and I was certainly not disappointed.

Why do it?

  • Allows you to capture the intellectual output of an institution and provide it freely to others (pre-prints, post-prints, things that folks have the rights to archive). Many publishers allow authors to publish their work in archives either as a pre-print or after the fact.
  • To increase exposure and use of an institution’s intellectual capital. It can increase their impact on a field. More citations from open access and archived materials.
  • To increase the reputation of your institution.

How do you do it? ...

Software options....

Key decisions

  • What types of content do you want to accept (just documents? PPT files, lesson plans, etc?)
  • How will you handle copyright?
  • Will you charge for service? Or for specific value-added services?
  • What will the division of responsibilities be?
  • What implementation model will you adopt?
  • You will need to develop a policy document that covers these issues and more.

Implementation models

  • Self archiving – ceaselessly championed by Stevan Harnad. Authors upload their own work into institutional respositories. Most faculty don’t want to do this.
  • Overlay – new system (IR) overlays the way people normally do things. Typically faculty give their work to an administrative assistant to put it on the Web. Now, the repository folks train the admin assistant to upload to the repository instead. Content is more likely to be deposited than if faculty have to do it....
  • Service provider – not a model for a large institution. Library will upload papers for faculty. The positives is that works are much more likely to be deposited. The negative is that it’s a lot of work and won’t scale....

Discovery options: Most traffic comes from Google searches, but only for repositories that are easily crawlable and have a unique URL for each document. OAI aggregators like have millions and millions of records. They harvest metadata from many repositories. Some may come direct to the repository, but most people will not come there looking for something specific. Citations will drive traffic back to the repository.

Barriers to success:

  • Lack of institutional commitment
  • Faculty apathy (lack of adoption and use)
  • If it is difficult to upload content, people won’t use it.
  • If you don’t implement it completely or follow through it will fail.

Strategies for Success

  • Start with early adopters and work outward.
  • Market all the time. Make presentations at division meetings and stuff
  • Seek institutional mandates
  • Provide methods to bulk upload from things already living in other databases
  • Make it easy for people to participate. Reduce barriers and technical/policy issues.
  • Build technological enhancements to make it ridiculously easy for people to upload their content....

Bailey's OA bibliography now searchable

Charles Bailey has added a search engine to his indispensable Open Access Bibliography.  From his announcement

The Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals is now searchable using a Google Custom Search Engine. The new search box is just before the table of contents in the bibliography’s home page. Only the bibliography sections of the document are searchable (e.g., the "Key Open Access Concepts" section is excluded).

Keep in mind when you search that you will retrieve bibliography section file titles with a single representative search result shown from that section. To see all hits in a section, click on the cached page, which shows the retrieved search term(s) in the section highlighted in yellow.

Accessing the deep web of government information

Daniel Pulliam, Google seeks better access to government information, GovExec, October 25, 2006.   (Thanks to Free Government Information.) Excerpt:

Officials from the leading Internet search engine are working to remove barriers that prevent their technology from reaching vast troves of information buried in government databases....[W]hile portions of agency Web sites are easily indexed by Google and other common search engines, the engines cannot search other areas, known as the deep Web....

As much as 40 percent of the content on agency Web sites is invisible to Google's crawlers, said [J.L. Needham, a strategic partner development manager at Google]....

Needham said he is meeting with a variety of agencies to discuss how the information housed in their databases can be made available in the search results from engines such as Google, Yahoo or MSN....

A Dec. 16, 2005, memorandum from Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, states that all agencies must set up their public information so that it is searchable by Sept. 1, 2006. It states that "increasingly sophisticated Internet search functions" can "greatly assist agencies in this area."

Agencies also were required to provide all public data in an open format that allows the public to aggregate "or otherwise manipulate and analyze the data to meet their needs" by Dec. 31, 2005, according to a separate OMB memorandum signed by Johnson on Dec. 17, 2004....

In addition to the technical challenges presented by the company's request, EPA has to consider whether a commercial company could assert proprietary ownership on federal data or whether providing government data to one company would provide an unequal playing field for other companies, Luttner said.

Needham said Google, for one, does not want to assert ownership over any information obtained from agencies, and agency efforts to improve the ability to search their Web sites would likely be equally beneficial to its competitors....

The Digital Freedom Campaign

Yesterday a group of influential non-profits launched the US-based Digital Freedom Campaign.  From the site:

The Digital Freedom Campaign holds as its core value the recognition that new technologies are essential to the creativity and innovation that have allowed this nation to thrive.  Digital technology enables anyone and everyone to be an artist and an innovator - to produce music, to create cutting edge films and videos, and to reach new audiences.  For consumers, it allows individuals the ability to enjoy these new works when they want, where they want, how they want and to participate in the process.  These are basic freedoms that must be protected and nurtured.  The Digital Freedom campaign is dedicated to defending the rights of artists, innovators, creators and consumers to use lawful technology free of unreasonable government restrictions and without fear of costly lawsuits

While the focus, at least for now, is on music and video, the campaign will help education and research by fighting for fair use, the public domain, and the right to use new technologies without restrictions designed to protect entrenched businesses and their business models.  Joining the campaign is free of charge.

Three stories of disintermediation

The publisher is dead, iCommons, October 26, 2006. Excerpt:

There are a number of trailblazing authors that challenge the publishing industry’s control by managing the roles of printing, marketing and distribution of their own works, discovering new inroads into printing and marketing, and using the internet as a weapon of mass dissemination. These individuals are attempting, word by word, to improvise their way towards a new status quo in the publishing industry. These authors are not content with a business model that requires them to relinquish the rights to their work, or one that encourages them to agree to diminished control and limited financial compensation.

Three short stories follow of self-publishing trailblazers who are attempting to alter this traditional publishing model....

New members for the Open Content Alliance

MIT's first OA journal

Information Technologies and International Development (ITID) has converted to open access, becoming the first OA journal from MIT Press.  Not only is the current issue (Fall 2006) OA, but all past issues (back to Fall 2003) are now also OA.  From the editorial by Michael L Best and Ernest J. Wilson III in the current issue :

With this issue we break with the past --and rush to meet the future-- as we introduce ITID now as an Open Access Journal. Under this method of publication all of our content will be available over the Internet at no cost. Print copies can still be obtained from the publisher on a fee basis. We believe this open access approach defines the future for academic publications and, critically, will serve well our global audience. Open access publication means:

  • Wider access for our readers --especially those coming from the Global South who might not have been able to afford the subscription prices.
  • Higher impact to our authors --research shows that open access journals have higher rates of readership, citation, and overall impact.
  • The same level of quality and prestige already associated with ITID....
  • An improved intellectual property environment --under open access publication we will move a Creative Commons copyright license....
  • A richer online environment for discussion, collaboration, scholarship, and community building! ITID is the first open access journal offered by the MIT Press and we intend to work closely with the Press to innovative with the model and help to define open access scholarly publications.

This inaugural open access year is made possible by the generous support of the Community Affairs division of Microsoft. We are looking to expand our set of donors and to enhance the open access business model.

We made the first public announcement of ITID becoming open access at the inaugural International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD) held this May at the University of California, Berkeley....

From the MIT press release (October 25, 2006):

Making high quality content freely available online to anyone interested in the intersection of communications technologies and development around the world is an exciting opportunity for the journal and The MIT Press. But where editors and the Press hope that lessons from this new model may truly have an impact is within the larger community - in academia, the private sector, NGOs, and governments around the world.

"We can't think of a better congruence between delivery platform and purpose," says MIT Press Director Ellen Faran. "ITID's content, mission, contributors, and readers will all be well supported by its free online availability."

PS:  Congratulations to ITID and MIT Press.  It's wonderful to see the MIT journals starting to catch up with MIT's many other pioneering OA initiatives.  And thanks to Microsoft for taking this step to support OA.  (Microsoft is a member of the Open Content Alliance.) 

HHMI is considering an OA mandate

Heidi Ledford, Funding agencies toughen stance on open access, Nature, October 26, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), a non-profit research organization that funds more than 300 US researchers, is considering a plan to pressure its investigators into making their published papers freely accessible.

The plan, if approved, would dictate that publications must be deposited in a public database within six months of publication in order to count towards an investigator’s application for reappointment. HHMI investigators apply for reappointment every five or seven years....

After years of requesting voluntary compliance, several funding agencies are considering tougher stances. In 2005, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) asked grantees to voluntarily deposit articles in a public database such as PubMed Central within 12 months of publication. A year after the request, only 4% of NIH grantees had done so, prompting Congress to propose legislation mandating compliance.

Meanwhile, on 1 October, Britain’s Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust medical charity began requiring grantees to deposit final, peer-reviewed manuscripts in public databases as soon as possible, but no later than within six months of publication....

HHMI president Thomas Cech says a decision on the proposed policy will probably be made in early 2007. Although HHMI officials say they will not legislate where their investigators publish, several researchers say the threat of weakening their reappointment application represents significant pressure.

Cech says the proposed policy is simply an extension of HHMI guidelines about sharing published reagents and other research material....

The HHMI [Wellcome Trust?] is still negotiating with publishers, but [Mark] Walport [of the Wellcome Trust] says most major journals, including Science and Nature, have complied with the Wellcome Trust’s guidelines.

Many publishers let authors pay to make their articles available immediately. For example, Wellcome Trust grantees can make their papers in most Elsevier journals publicly accessible for $3,000 per article. Both the HHMI and the Wellcome Trust already provide funds for publication in open-access journals. “We see payment to the publisher as part of the cost of research,” says Walport. “And we’re prepared to pay appropriately.”

Comment.  The HHMI was the funding agency most responsible for convening the group that eventually issued the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (June 2003).  At the time, HHMI was willing to pay processing fees at fee-based OA journals, but wasn't willing to go further to mandate OA archiving.  I commend it for proposing to take this much-needed extra step.

The HHMI hasn't yet adopted a policy.  But if we count its mandate proposal in the mandate column, and do the same for the mandate proposal at Canada's CIHR, and if we count the new semi-mandate in Austria as a mandate, then the HHMI proposal is the eighth OA mandate this month.  There are the four new mandates from the RCUK, the expansion of the existing mandate at the Wellcome Trust, the Austrian policy, the CIHR draft, and now the HHMI.  We've never had a month like this.

A journal declaration of independence hits the mainstream press

Gary Shapiro, A Rebellion Erupts Over Journals Of Academia, New York Sun, October 26, 2006. Excerpt:

There's been a rebellion, not with pitchforks but pocket calculators. The nine members of the editorial board of the Oxford University-based mathematics journal Topology have signed a letter expressing their intention to resign on December 31. They cited the price of the journal as well as the general pricing policies of their publisher, Elsevier, as having "a significant and damaging effect on Topology's reputation in the mathematical research community."

The subscription cost of journals can be difficult to determine, since institutions often subscribe to many periodicals in a single bundle. But according to Elsevier's Web site, in 2007 the cost of a single year (six issues) of Topology, in all countries except Europe and Japan, will be $100 for individuals and $1,665 for institutions.

Founded through the vision of the Oxford topologist J.H.C. Whitehead in mid-century, Topology has an "illustrious history" with "some of the greatest names of 20th century mathematics" among its editorial and honorary advisory editorial board members, the editors wrote in their resignation letter, dated August 10. " Elsevier's policies towards the publication of mathematics research have undermined this legacy."

A company spokesman, David Ruth, replied, "Elsevier regrets the decision taken by the editorial board of Topology, but we believe it doesn't fully reflect the changes we have made over the past decade, and continue to make, which have moderated price increases and provided considerably more value for customers, in terms of both cost per article and research efficiency."

Board resignations have occurred at other Elsevier publications, such as the Journal of Logic Programming and the Journal of Algorithms, and also at a variety of other publishers such as Kluwer and Taylor and Francis. Of the Topology resignations, Mr. Ruth said, "Considering that Elsevier publishes more than 1800 journals, this still constitutes a pretty rare occurrence." ...

One editor of Topology, John Roe, whose specialty is the relation between geometry and differential equations, said the rising cost of journals has concerned academics, not just mathematicians, for a long time.

To those who favor free online access to scholarship, mass resignations of editors are "declarations of independence," a research professor of philosophy at Earlham College, Peter Suber, said. Usually, he said, an editorial board "has a long track record of failed negotiations with their publisher. The typical scenario is the editors resign, form a new journal at a lower price, and the old journal hires new editors."

A Lehigh University mathematics professor, Donald Davis, who moderates an online algebraic topology discussion list, said, "University library budgets are no longer adequate to subscribe to all the journals they used to." The Head Librarian of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences Library at New York University, Carol Hutchins, said, "The degree of choice is shrinking" and cited reasons such as the consolidation of publishing firms.

"Elsevier's prices are very high," said an emerita mathematics professor at Barnard College, Joan Birman, who resigned a few years ago from the board of an Elsevier journal, Topology and Its Applications. She said her feeling was, "We do the work, we check each other, we referee the articles, edit and typeset them and send them to the publisher, which slaps them between two covers and charges a huge amount."...

PS:  Thanks to Gary Shapiro.  This is the longest and most detailed article I've seen on a journal declaration of independence in the mainstream press.  For background, see my blog post from August 11, 2006.  I promise (as I've been saying since August...) to add this rebellion to my list of declarations of independence.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More on green and gold OA

Peter Schirmbacher, Möglichkeiten und Grenzen des elektronischen Publizierens auf der Basis der Open-Access-Prinzipien, in Petra Hauke and Konrad Umlauf (eds.), Vom Wandel der Wissensorganisation im Informationszeitalter:­ Festschrift für Walther Umstätter zum 65. Geburtstag, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, September 2006.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.) 

Presentations on OA from ACS meeting

Most of the presentations from the 2006 Northeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (Binghampton, October 5-7, 2006) are now online.  Three are explicitly on OA.  (Thanks to George Porter.)

Profile of JISC's Digital Repositories Programme

Julie Allinson and Roddy MacLeod, Building an information infrastructure in the UK, Research Information, October/November 2006. Excerpt:

Since 2002, the UK's JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) has shown a strong commitment to an emerging trend in research institutions and digital repositories. This commitment has been reflected in its Digital Repositories Programme as well as a £14m investment in the Repositories and Preservation strand of its Capital Programme.

Repositories are digital stores that manage and provide access to resources and metadata. They come in many shapes and sizes: subject repositories, both national and international; data archives and data centres; learning object repositories; digital libraries; and institutional eprint repositories. According to the OpenDOAR directory, around 50 of the UK's 200 higher education institutions already have institutional and/or department repositories.

This growing role of repositories in UK research and education is reflected in the 25 projects that make up JISC's Digital Repositories Programme. This programme which aims to enable institutions to make better use of repositories across research, teaching, information and administration....

Delivering on these visions for an interoperating infrastructure of repositories and services is no easy task, but the work that has been and is being done by the wide range of JISC-funded projects is already having an impact and this is set to continue. The UK repositories search service, for example, will offer a single access-point to search repositories across the UK. And the EPrints metadata application profile, backed by the Digital Repositories support team, will enable the service to offer a much richer set of search features. What's more, many projects will begin over the next three years, offering new tools and mechanisms to support widespread open access to resources....

Profile of the new ALPSP CEO

John Murphy, Championing the case of smaller publishers, Research Information, October/November 2006.  A profile of Ian Russell, new CEO of the ALPSP.  Apologies:  my excerpt focuses on the OA-related bits in a more balanced profile:

[Russell's] track record has been in driving though change in organisations with a strong history, but which needed to modernise to face new challenges. This has included experimenting with open access at the Royal Society as well as introducing a more commercial focus. Learned bodies may have a not-for-profit tax status but very few could continue their activities if they didn’t generate a surplus from publishing which could be applied to other areas of their work....

[Sally Morris, Russell's predecessor at ALPSP] thinks that his diplomatic skills will help too. ‘At the Royal Society he navigated a very difficult path between what the membership think and what the publishing division think, particularly with issues such as open access,’ she commented. ‘The Royal Society deals with very distinguished people and I think the solution it has come up with – to experiment to see if it works or not – is extremely diplomatic. Scientists learn by experimenting.’ ...

So what sort of things will he be tackling in his new job? ‘There are clearly issues that need to be addressed, like open access. This is seen by some as a threat to the traditional business models of publishers but I think it’s a shame that publishers have been labelled as being very conservative and unwilling to change. Many of the technology changes that have happened over the last 10 years have been driven by publishers,’ he pointed out. ‘I will be working as part of the APLSP to try and change some of those perceptions....’

Administrators for FRPAA: not tied and not even close

Mark Chillingworth, Federal Research Public Access Act splits State-side academia down the middle, Information World Review, October 24, 2006. Excerpt:

Universities in the US have become embroiled in a letter-writing war over a proposed public access research law.

The Oberlin Group of Liberal Arts College Libraries backs the law, but the DC Principals [sic] for Free Access to Science Coalition is worried it will damage scientific publishing....Senior academics from 10 US institutions signed the [DC Principles] letter....

The Oberlin Group said 53 college presidents had signed its letter to the senators....

Comment. The title of this article is incorrect (senior administrators are not "split...down the middle" but overwhelmingly on the side of FRPAA) and the body of the article is misleading for suggesting that there is only one pro-FRPAA letter for senior administrators when there are five.  First, 25 provosts signed the pro-FRPAA CIC letter (July 28, 2006).  Then, 22 more signed the GWLA letter (August 22, 2006).  Then came the Oberlin Group letter (September 5, 2006), signed by 53 presidents.  Then six more presidents signed the NECP letter (September 19, 2006).  SPARC put all these pro-FRPAA signatures together on one page, added its own statement of pro-FRPAA principles, asked other presidents and provosts to sign, and has elicited had a steady stream of new signatures since August.  The total to date in support of FRPAA = 127.  The total opposed = 10.

One law review's commitment to OA

The Law Review's Commitment to Open-Access Publishing, Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy, October 23, 2006.  An unsigned (editorial) post.  (Thanks to M. Claire Stewart.)  Excerpt:

Here at the Northwestern University Law Review, we have read with interest the recent discussion concerning the importance of open access publication of legal scholarship.  We wanted to take this opportunity to express our commitment to maintaining broad and costless access to the information we publish.

Starting with the fourth issue of our ninety-ninth volume [Summer 2005] and moving forward, all of our content has been, and will continue to be, available as a PDF download through our past issues tab.  As a result, anyone will be able to find Northwestern University Law Review content using an internet search engine, and download it for free.  Furthermore, we will maintain a fully permissive policy regarding authors who wish to post drafts of their forthcoming articles to SSRN, Bepress or other locations on the web.  That's the easy part.

The hard part is that we are currently sitting on a mountain of information which is not readily convertible to PDF format -- nearly 100 years of scholarship published solely in print in the Law Review.  We are committed to making this information freely available as well.  However, the technical and financial challenges that accompany scanning the mountain of material that was published before PDFs existed make this a project that will be ongoing, and contingent on donated funding.  (For those interested in speeding this process with a donation to the Law Review Fund, please click here for more information.)

Our current plan is to scan and post archival content at a steady rate, working backwards from the most recent issues towards the oldest.  It may take some time before all of our content is open-access, but it is and will remain a key goal for the Law Review.  In the meantime, we hope soon to be able to publish abstracts of our archival content on our site, which will be freely available to all.

We would welcome suggestions as to how we might best accomplish these goals.  As always, thanks for visiting the Colloquy.

Comment. Kudos to all involved.  Everything about this policy is enlightened except the fixation on PDFs (an unnecessary condition for a digitization program and an abominable format).  I'm proud of the law review, proud of the law school --and, not least, I'm class of 1982.

OA will work with OS and non-OS

Stevan Harnad, How Open Access is related to Free Software and Open Source, P2P Foundation wiki, October 25, 2006.  (Thanks to Michel Bauwens.)  Excerpt:

OA [open access], OS [open source], FS [free software] & CC [Creative Commons] share commonalities but also have some differences: there are genuine convergences and genuine divergences....

Here is the heart of the matter. Let me try to convey it purely by analogy first: I am personally in favour of open-code pharmacology ("OP"): The formula for potential cures should not be kept secret, or prevented from being used to sell or even give away the medicine.

It does *not* follow from this, however, that if a commercial pharmaceutical company develops a non-OP cure for AIDS today that I will refuse to use it or promote it! Nor will I try to suppress or refuse to cooperate with OP research or OP researchers, while there are still diseases and patients, needing to be cured now.

To take this allegory further: OA is like Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF): All those doctors have already dedicated themselves to providing their

  • services* for free, but it does not follow from that that they should

only use, or only collaborate with OP drugs and OP suppliers. They should use whatever they can get, and favor OP whenever they can do so, *but not at the expense of the immediate needs of their patients*.

That's how it is with OA and OS/FS/CC: I am personally 100% in favour of OA, FS, and CC for my own output...and for the output of others of a like mind....But I would be against imposing OS/FS/CC (or OP) by fiat, for fear of losing potential creativity and productivity....

And the immediate situation for OA is this: 100% OA is within reach now. It needs OAI-compliant OA Institutional Repository (IR) software. I would personally prefer if all OA IR software (indeed all software) were GPL, but I would not mandate it, nor would I refuse the immediate help of non-GPL software in reaching 100% OA, any more than an MSF doctor would refuse the immediate help of a non-OP drug for treating AIDS, now.

(Maximizing research impact is not as pressing a problem as saving people from AIDS; so this analogy, like all analogies, has its limitations. But it's not a bad idea to ask ourselves quite explicitly whether we take research so lightly that we agree with the above reasoning for AIDS, but not for research.)

Comment.  Stevan is right and his analogy is a good one.  The principle may be even clearer when applied to "access-side" software, like operating systems and browsers, than when applied to "dissemination-side" software like OAI-compliant repository packages.  We'd subtract most of the value of OA literature if we made it readable only on Linux machines. 

The same principle applies to literature, not just software.  Here's a relevant passage from the BOAI FAQ:

We do not ask researchers, teachers, consumers (or anyone else) to boycott any kind of literature or any kind of publisher. If the literature they need for their research, their courses, or their pleasure is not freely available online, then they should buy or borrow what they need. We ask them to help this cause by making their own writings freely available online, not by distorting their research projects or coursework by favoring open-access literature that doesn't meet their needs.

Research leaders support FRPAA at DC meeting

SPARC has posted a summary of some of the presentations at last week's forum, Improving Access to Publicly Funded Research: Policy Issues and Practical Strategies (Washington, DC, October 20, 2006).  Excerpt:

In remarks at a forum on Improving Access to Publicly Funded Research, leaders of major higher education and library organizations voiced their support for the goals of recent measures to expand public access to research funded by the US Government. The forum was co-sponsored by Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), and SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition).

"I fully support the aims and the specifics of the Cornyn/Lieberman Federal Research Public Access Act [FRPAA]," said David Shulenburger, Vice President for Academic Affairs of NASULGC. Introduced last May, FRPAA (S.2695) would require all US federal agencies that fund over $100 million on external research to ensure the resulting peer-reviewed research articles are available free on the Internet within six months of publication. "Scholars and the public are on the right side of this matter. Cornyn/Lieberman should become law."

Shulenburger rejected claims by some publishers that open access to research articles after a six-month embargo, called for by FRPAA, will undermine journals and the peer review they orchestrate. "We now have significant experience with journals that voluntarily have permitted articles they published to be made available for free after delay periods ranging from zero delay to one year's and that evidence is not consistent with an apocalyptic collapse of the subscriber base." He added, "These journals would not have taken that step voluntarily had they been overly concerned about catastrophic loss of subscribers."

John Vaughn, Executive Vice President of AAU, reiterated his organization's support of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy that makes the results of NIH-funded research freely available. He said he prefers non-legislative means of improving access to federal research, such as NIH is pursuing, but noted that the prospect of a legislative solution has motivated positive movement by publishers that otherwise might not have been forthcoming.
Commenting on the growing numbers of university administrators who have spoken out recently in support of public access legislation, SPARC Executive Director Heather Joseph noted that they consider public access "mission critical" to advancing the goals of higher education institutions....

Librarians from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California (UC) highlighted local efforts to aid faculty in retaining rights to deposit their works in open online archives....

Commenting on the issue of rights management, CNI Executive Director Clifford Lynch said "universities need to take seriously the asymmetrical nature of negotiations" when faculty members face publishers on copyright transfer agreements. "Universities will do well to follow the lead of MIT and UC and provide institutional support for faculty negotiations. If universities negotiate on behalf of faculty this also helps publishers ultimately by reducing the number of special agreements and thus benefits the entire scholarly publishing system in the end."

Papers and slides from speakers at the forum are available at [the forum site].

OA monograph on music retrieval

Foundations and Trends in Information Retrieval is a new monograph series from Now Publishers.  The series is not OA but the first volume in every "Foundations and Trends" series is OA.  The first volume in this series, on music retrieval, is now online.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.) 

A library perspective on OA business models

Birgit Schmidt, Geschäftsmodelle des Open Access-Publizierens: Welche Perspektiven bieten sich hier für Bibliotheken?  A preprint.  (Thanks to medinfo.)  In German but with this English-language abstract:
Today, libraries serve as places where competences in dealing with the origin and dissemination of information are in demand. Once the document is ready for publication academic authors may opt out of a range of new publishing models. Increasingly, libraries foster Open Access. In this article Open Access business models are reflected on services and interests of libraries. Moreover, some development trends are identified.

Digital repositories supporting eResearch

The presentations from the UKOLN conference, Digital repositories supporting eResearch (London, October 20, 2006), are now online.

PhysMath Central inching toward launch

PhysMath Central --the sibling to BioMed Central and Chemistry Central-- hasn't launched yet, but it's getting closer.  Chris Leonard notes that it now has a logo.

China will mandate OA to data from publicly-funded research

Hawk Jia, China unveils plans to boost scientific data sharing, SciDev.Net, October 24, 2006. Excerpt:

Over 80 per cent of data relating to China's research into pure science — such as theoretical mathematics, physics and chemistry — will be freely available on the Internet, according to the country's top science official.

Xu Guanhua, China's minister of Science and Technology, revealed the country's data-sharing plan yesterday (23 October) at the international conference for the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA), an event focused on promoting data sharing worldwide.

In order to achieve its goal, China will establish 40 scientific data centres by 2010, covering 300 databases relating to the environment, agriculture, human health, pure science, engineering and regional scientific and technology information. All of them will be openly accessed through a public portal initiated by the Ministry of Science and Technology.

According to Xu, most of these centres are already being constructed.

Meanwhile, 32 national standards — specifications for data processing and storage — are being worked out to support the data-sharing through these data centres. Xu revealed that 23 of them have already been completed....

However, there have been widespread complaints from scientists in China that data is not being adequately shared among the Chinese scientific community, which Xu said has undermined the country's goals for innovation.

"Part of the reasons [for this] is that the institutions owning these data hope to monopolise them so that they can produce more scientific results of their own," Qu Guosheng, a senior scientist from the National Earthquake Response Support Service, told SciDev.Net.

In his speech, Xu said that the science ministries and departments are aware of the problem. They are currently revising and designing laws and policies to make data sharing compulsory for publicly-funded research....

Comment. I believe that China is the first nation to mandate OA to data arising from publicly-funded research.  Although 34 nations (including China, the UK, and the US) signed OECD's Declaration on Access to Research Data From Public Funding on January 30, 2004, China is the first to implement it.  Kudos to all involved.  The next step for China:  mandate OA to peer-reviewed research articles arising from publicly-funded research.  The next step for the rest of the world:  follow China's lead on data sharing.

JISC, SURF, and the Wellcome Trust help authors retain the right to self-archive

JISC and SURF have drafted a model license to help authors retain the rights they need for OA archiving.  From today's announcement:

SURF and JISC today published a model agreement that will help authors make appropriate arrangements with publishers for the publication of a journal article. This "Licence to Publish" is the result of several years of international consultation and aims to establish a balance of rights and interests in the emerging scholarly communications environment.

The rise of digital channels of communication has meant that the process of publishing research material has been undergoing major changes over the last few years. SURF and JISC ­ two organisations that promote the innovative use of ICT in higher education in the Netherlands and the UK, respectively ­ have pressed for some years for carefully thought-out arrangements to be made regarding copyright, with the interests of all parties being maximised. The overarching principle behind their activities in this field is that the results of publicly funded research should be made freely and openly available, and as quickly as possible, to all who want to access them.

The main features of the Licence to Publish are that:

  • copyright in the published work remains with the author;
  • the author grants the publisher a licence to publish the work;
  • the licence takes effect as soon as the publisher has indicated that it wishes to publish the work;
  • once the article has been published, the author can make it publicly accessible ­ in the form in which it was published by the publisher ­ by making it available as part of a digital scientific collection (a "repository").
  • if the publisher so requests, the start of such public accessibility can be delayed for a maximum of six months.

The new model agreement will be particularly useful where articles are published in the traditional way, with publications being made available only to subscribers. The agreement is available in both Dutch and English and can be used for publications involving more than one author.

Use of the Licence to Publish is supported by the Wellcome Trust, a charity and the UK's largest non-governmental funder of biomedical research....

Here's an excerpt from the English version of the license itself:

The Author retains all other rights with respect to the Article not granted to the Publisher and in particular he can exercise the following rights: ...

To upload the Article or to grant to the Author’s own institution (or another appropriate organisation) the authorisation to upload the Article, immediately from the date of publication of the journal in which the Article is published (unless that the Author and the Publisher have agreed in writing to a short embargo period, with a maximum of six (6) months): a) onto the institution’s closed network (e.g. intranet system); and/or b) onto publicly accessible institutional and/or centrally organised repositories (such as PubMed Central and other PubMed Central International repositories), provided that a link is inserted to the Article on the Publisher’s website....

To grant to end users of the Author’s own institution or (or another appropriate organisation), the authorisation to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works....


  1. I applaud JISC, SURF, and the Wellcome Trust for this work.  Authors who use the license will have the rights they need for OA archiving. 
  2. This is much like the author addenda already produced (in chronological order) by SPARC, MIT, Science Commons, OhioLink, and the University of North Carolina.  The chief difference is that it's an entire license, replacing the publisher's own, not just an addendum to modify it.
  3. I have only two quibbles with the legal details.  (1) The agreement transfers to publishers "a sole license" to do  many things including "reproduce the Article in whole or in part, and to communicate the Article to the public in print and/or digital form...."  If "sole" is interpreted to mean "exclusive", then this section of the agreement negates the section on the author's retained rights.  The English should be less ambiguous.  (2) The right of end users to "copy, use, distribute" and so on should apply to all users as such, not just to users from the "Author's own institution (or another appropriate institution)".
  4. About 70% of surveyed journals already give authors blanket permission to self-archive their postprints.  Authors publishing in these journals should understand that they don't need to negotiate a different agreement.  On the other hand, about 30% of journals are not yet consenting and some of the 70% are retreating from their original consent (for example, adding embargoes or fees).  This license or the equivalent can help finish changing the landscape and secure what we've gained. 
  5. It's exciting to think about how JISC, SURF, and the Wellcome Trust could use their combined weight to make this license a new standard.  But so far we don't know their plans.  I have no problem with that:  it makes sense to separate the crafting of the license from policies on how to use it.  But I hope we can hear from them soon about their policies.  In particular, will they require it for their grantees?  If they need a critical mass of authors before non-cooperating journals start to cooperate, can they get it if they merely recommend the license?

Scholarpedia: a peer-reviewed wiki

Scholarpedia is another attempt to combine the openness of Wikipedia with attribution and peer review.  (Thanks to Wolfram Horstmann.)  Launched on February 1, 2006, it predates Citizendium, which only launched last week. From the front page:

Scholarpedia feels and looks like Wikipedia - the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Indeed, both are powered by the same program - MediaWiki. Both allow visitors to review and modify articles simply by clicking on the edit this article link.

However, Scholarpedia differs from Wikipedia in some very important ways:

  • Each article is written by an expert (invited or elected by the public).
  • Each article is anonymously peer reviewed to ensure accurate and reliable information.
  • Each article has a curator - typically its author -- who is responsible for its content.
  • Any modification of the article needs to be approved by the curator before it appears in the final, approved version....

In Scholarpedia, every article has a person who takes care of its content and whose reputation becomes associated with this content, the Curator. The job of a curator is to moderate revisions of an article, accepting those that are relevant and rejecting those that are not. In some sense, a curator of an article in Scholarpedia is like a curator of a museum: He/she has to evaluate all new additions and decide which are worth public exhibition and which are not. A curator’s name and affiliation is clearly stated below the title of an article, so that his or her reputation guarantees the accuracy of the article....

Curators of Scholarpedia are leading experts in their respective fields, typically having Ph.D. or M.D., and affiliated with an academic or research organization....

In the initial phase of Scholarpedia, the curators are invited by the editor-in-chief. Curators can then elect other scientists to become curators of Scholarpedia – a practice used by many professional societies, such as the Society for Neuroscience....

Currently, Scholarpedia hosts Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience, Encyclopedia of Dynamical Systems and Encyclopedia of Computational Intelligence. Although all three will eventually be published in a printed form, they will also remain freely available and modifiable online.

For a sense of its quality, click for a random page a few times. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A consortial repository for Colorado

The Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries (CARL) has announced a consortial OA repository.  From the October 20 announcement:

The Board of Directors of the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries has approved initial funding for a consortium-wide digital repository project at its October 19, 2006 meeting. The project will use the Fedora open source software which was selected after a long evaluation process by the Institutional Repository Implementation Team, chaired by John Culshaw from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The Alliance Digital Repository (ADR) project allows the participating member libraries to develop a shared technical and development infrastructure to store, preserve and disseminate a whole variety of digital objects including images, text, audio, video, learning objects, data sets or any other kind of material. The project will make use of open source tools developed by others in order to fast track functionality. As new software is developed as part of the project it will also be made available to the open source community....

Each library will have its own local branding and view of the system. However, the development of a collaborative platform will allow libraries to save a substantial amount over each doing independent development.

The ADR project will bring two new staff into the consortium office, a project director and programmer. In addition, the Alliance will provide substantial in kind support from existing staff.

The Alliance is also hoping to work with other consortia and libraries interested in digital repository development and is in discussion with other possible partners.

New OA journal on the commons

The International Association for the Study of Commons (IASC) is launching a peer-reviewed, open-access journal, the International Journal of the Commons.  It's now accepting submissions and the first issue will appear in 2007.  From the journal site:
The International Journal of the Commons is a new journal set-up by the International Association for the Study of Commons [IASC]. The journal publishes peer-reviewed articles and book reviews. The editors will take both separate articles and proposals for special thematic issues into consideration.

IASC is an association devoted to understanding and improving institutions for the management of environmental resources that are (or could be) held or used collectively. Many will refer to such resources and their systems of usage as “commons”. To be able to provide peer reviewed knowledge of current research on commons to the persons needing it, IASC seeks funding for a journal.

There are two important reasons for IASC to do this on its own rather than having a commercial publisher doing it for us. Both have to do with the cost of journals and journal publishing.

Our research is relevant to both teaching and policy discussions of resource governance and ought to be easily available to students, practitioners, and professionals around the world, particularly in developing countries. A majority of our members come from academic institutions in developing countries. Academic institutions in developing countries have fewer resources devoted to journal subscriptions and fewer resources available to pay for printing of journal papers. Therefore IASC wants to publish a journal presenting the best of the research on commons.

IASC provides a platform for researchers and practitioners in developing and industrialized countries to come together, across disciplinary lines, and share knowledge of common property resource management. Most of the research reported at our conferences concerns natural resources. Currently this research is scattered among 10-15 journals. All of them are costly to get. Papers published on commons issues need to be in the public domain, freely available to all, and, in addition, scholars should not be charged any author fee to cover costs of publishing.

New cross-archive search engine

ScientificCommons is a new search engine for OA repositories worldwide. From its "about" page:

ScientificCommons aims to provide the most comprehensive overview of scientific articles and contributions available on the internet. The major goal is to enable the free distribution of scientific knowledge to anyone. The growing number of Open Access Repositories worldwide with their vast number of scientific contributions are the source for ScientificCommons.

The lack of licences for scientific periodicals continues to be a major impediment to the fast access of current research results and thus not only hinders the swift spread of knowledge but also the research itself. In the last few years a movement was established under the keyword "Open Access" which aims to make scientific articles available to interested persons over the Internet free of any charge. The focus is especially on those publications which appear in approximately 24'000 scientific journals (peer-reviewed) world-wide. To achieve this ambitious goal, two approaches appear feasible [green and gold, or OA archives and OA repositories]...Looking at the practicability of these two approaches it becomes apparent that the barriers for [OA repositories] are considerably lower. The majority of the publishers (more than 90 percent) are already permitting the self-archiving of one's own publications....

PS:  For a new service, ScientificCommons is very close to OAIster in its coverage.  According to an entry posted yesterday to Open access by the numbers (a section within the Wikipedia article on open access), ScientificCommons currently indexes 8,275,984 records harvested from 573 repositories, compared to OAIster's 9,624,092 records from 698 repositories.  Repositories not yet covered are invited to sign up for harvesting.

Congratulations to Beat F. Schmid, Thomas Nicolai, and Lars Kirchhoff who run the project from Switzerland's University of St. Gallen.

Pfizer explores data sharing with Science Commons

Pfizer is exploring data sharing with Science Commons.  There are no details in this interview with David de Graaf of Pfizer’s Research Technology Center, but it's a promising prospect to watch.  Here's the key passage:

When you encounter a knotty problem or roadblock in terms of your work in systems biology, who do you call among your peers in the industry?

...Everybody keeps running into the same toxicity and we can’t solve it. Actually putting our heads together and, more importantly, putting our data together may be something that’s worthwhile, and we’re exploring that together with the folks at Science Commons right now, as well as the folks at Teranode.

Update. Peter Murray-Rust welcomed this news and added a comment on the possibility of data sharing in the pharma industry.

Review of Willinsky

Ellen Finnie Duranceau reviews John Willinsky's book (The Access Principle, MIT Press, 2005, print edition, OA edition) for the MIT Library News, October 23, 2006.

OA report on OA in art history

Charles W. Bailey Jr., Rice University Press Publishes Its First Open Access Digital Document, DigitalKoans, October 23, 2006. Excerpt:

The recently re-established Rice University Press, which was reborn as a digital press, has published its first e-report: Art History and Its Publications in the Electronic Age by Hilary Ballon (Professor and Director of Art Humanities at the Columbia University Department of Art History and Archaeology) and Mariet Westermann (Director and Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University)....

Like all digital works to be published by the press, this one is under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license. At this time, it does not appear that a print-on-demand version of the work is available from Rice University Press.

PS:  For background on the new OA Rice University Press, see my blog post from July 14, 2006, and for background on the Ballon/Westermann study, see my blog post from August 9, 2006.

Persian-language OA blog

Alireza Noruzi has launched Open Access Archive for LIS, a Persian-language blog on OA.  Noruzi is the Iranian editor for E-LIS, the OA repository for library and information science.  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)

PS:  Welcome, Alireza!

OA advice for South African authors

Eve Gray, Ensuring access to your scholarly publications - practical steps for authors, Gray Area, October 24, 2006. Excerpt:

South African academics are encouraged by national policy for publication reward to publish in accredited journals, with overseas journals considered the most prestigious. Leaving aside for a moment any critique of this policy, how can the successful authors ensure that the knowledge they have generated is not priced right out of the market for their colleagues and fellow-citizens? This is a real issue, given that the subscription prices of the big commercial journals have risen at about double the rate of inflation in the last decade. Even large and well-endowed universities are struggling to keep up their subscriptions to the leading journals (let alone all 24,000 journals out there), so it is no surprise that South African universities don't subscribe to a number of the journals in which their academics publish.

This came home to me when a colleague, Dick Ng'ambi, emailed to his department the other day 'Maybe Eve Gray has a point. I've just received this alert from Springer alerting me on the electronic publication of my article. The cost of accessing this article is US$30 otherwise UCT [University of Cape Town] has to pay (subscribe) to read its own output - are we being short changed?' ...Well, UCT does not have a subscription, so how do Dick and his colleagues get to read his article, short of paying $30 a view (the price of a thick hardback book in this part of the world, or around 15 hamburgers on the 'hamburger index')?

There are in fact some practical things that academic authors can do to ensure that they have maximum access to their own publications. The most important would be to publish for preference in an Open Access journal if there is one in your field. (And yes, they ARE peer-reviewed and there are high quality publications among the 2,000-odd OA journals, as well as one OA author who has recently won a Nobel Prize.) Next, it is advantageous to secure the right to archive a preprint or postprint of an article on your personal or institutional website....What is clear from research conducted on the impact of archiving, is that the availability of a pre-or postprint increases the downloads of the journal article and can have a significant effect on the citation levels of your work....

What local authors do not all seem to know is that most journal publishers - some 90% of them - including the major ones, do allow this practice. In Dick's case, Springer allows for both pre-and postprint archiving.

So how do you handle this if you are submitting or publishing an article? To check the policy of the journal you are thinking of publishing with, go the the Sherpa/Romeo website, where you can search on journals and publishers to establish their policies....

The really important thing, though, is that we need to lobby for policies in South Afri for the creation and mandating of research repositories in our universities. This is vital, given the increased access to and impact for our research. But more about that in another blog....

OA support for the U of Alberta

Open Access Publishing Information for the University of Alberta Community is a new blog from the University of Alberta libraries.  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)  From the inaugural post:

The University of Alberta Libraries encourages University of Alberta faculty members and researchers to publish their work according to the principles of the Open Access model, to maximize the access and benefit to scientists, scholars and the public throughout the world.

To these ends, we have created this information site to provide an overview of Open Access publishing initiatives and support available for members of the University of Alberta Community.

The blog sidebar links to a 10 point introduction to OA.  Congratulations to all involved and welcome to the blogosphere.

New OA repository for Earth sciences

GEO-LEO is a new OA repository for Earth sciences, mining, geography, and cartography.  In addition to taking deposits, it also harvests information on the same topics from other repositories and databases.

GEO-LEO is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and maintained by the Lower Saxony State and University Library Göttingen (SUB) and the University Library "Georgius Agricola" of the Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg (UBF).

Happy birthday, MEDLINE

Monday will be the 35th birthday of MEDLINE, but the NLM is already celebrating.

New search engine for OAN and SOAN

I'm very happy to announce that I just replaced the old search engine on my blog sidebar with a new and better one from Google Custom Search.  The new search engine covers the following material (and nothing more):

My old search engine had the same scope but the new one is faster, more flexible, and supports ordinary Google syntax for boolean and phrase searching. 

If you don't want to use it from the blog sidebar, you can also use it from its own home page.

I set up this search engine to cover only what I wanted it to cover.  But Google Custom Search also lets you create search engines whose scopes are set collaboratively by users.  There's great potential here for search engines on OA in general or special topics like OA journals, OA repositories, funder policies, and so on.

Update. I'd be glad to share the code for my search engine with anyone who'd like to add a search box to their own page. (Thanks to Charles Bailey for the idea.)

The research library in the 21st century

Podcasts of the presentations at the University of Texas Symposium on The Research Library in the 21st Century (Austin, September 11-12, 2006) are now online.  (Thanks to Cliff Lynch.)

Monday, October 23, 2006

More on the economic impact of OA

Guy Healy, Internet researchers topple ivory towers, Campus Review Online, October 18, 2006.  Excerpt:

"If more research outcomes were made open access, it would spread the knowledge more broadly, in contrast to the present system of expensive and effectively closed subscription-based journals," said [University of Sydney head librarian, John Shipp].

Open access through the development of a national system of repositories in university libraries, such as has just been recommended by a major [Australian] Federal Government report, would find broad support from university librarians.

The Department of Education, Science and Training's report, 'Research Communication Costs in Australia, Emerging Opportunities and Benefits'. found that if a comprehensive reporting system aimed at improving research efficiency was adopted...benefits of around $4 billion could be realised. Such a national system could be expected to cost about $130 million over 20 years.

The report was authored by ANU Emeritus Professor Colin Steele and Victoria University Centre for Strategic Economic Studies academics, Professors John Houghton and Peter Sheehan.

The report is likely to find broad appeal. Prime Minister John Howard, Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop and Chief Scientist Dr Jim Peacock have all recently stressed the imperative for publicly-funded research to be applied to the benefit of the public....

Co-author Houghton told Campus Review the report shows scholarly communications activities alone cost around $3.6 billion a year or about 30 per cent of total higher education spending....

The report found the potential impacts of enhanced access were likely to be substantial since a 5 per cent efficiency increase on gross national R&D spending would be worth $628 million.

OA to facilities, OA to literature

Interview: 'Open access key condition for EU research infrastructures', EurActiv, October 20, 2006. Excerpt:
John Wood is the chairman of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), launched in 2002 to develop a coherent approach to policymaking on research infrastructures in Europe and, in parallel, to conduct negotiations between the EU member states on concrete initiatives for such structures at European level.  

In this interview, John Wood explains what these structures really are, how the 35 projects identified by ESFRI can be built up and gives some examples of research infrastructures' concrete benefits for people. He underlines the fact that all projects are of open access to any country and that all scientists - not only those of the financially contributing countries - can access the infrastructures....  

Who can participate in these projects and, once built, use the infrastructures?

All projects will have open access to everybody, even if not all member states will financially contribute to all of them. Any non-EU country can also ask whether they can join and they are quite free to do so. China, Russia, India and the United States are already part of some projects. The European research infrastructures will, no matter who pays for them, be open access for the whole world. So, if the Chinese want to use one of them, they can. They just need to contribute to the costs of their researchers that are coming.

Open access is one of the key conditions defining a European research infrastructure. Already currently, any foreign researcher can access nearly any national or European research infrastructure and vice-versa. International exchanges are crucial in science and research.... 

Comment.  When Wood says "open access" in this context he means unrestricted eligibility to use a physical facility, like a telescope or ice breaker.  ESFRI's commitment to OA in this sense is all to the good.  But to help OA in our sense, it would be very beneficial if ESFRI would stipulate that all researchers who make use of ESFRI's infrastructure or facilities must provide OA to any resulting peer-reviewed articles within six months of publication.

Open courseware at UK's Open University

OU offers free learning materials, BBC News, October 23, 2006.  Excerpt:

The Open University is making its educational resources available free on the net for anyone in the world to use.  It aims to make 5,000 hours' worth of material available by April 2008 - not only for learners, but for educators to adapt and use for their own purposes.

The £5.65m OpenLearn project is backed by a US charitable foundation....The website will initially have some 900 hours of study in a variety of topics - from access to postgraduate level - using the Moodle "virtual learning environment".

The OU says it is the first British higher education institution to make its educational resources freely available online on this scale, although there are other similar "open courseware" projects, notably in the US and Japan....

The OU's thinking is that, despite the efforts of governments and other agencies, there remain significant differences in the access people have to educational opportunities across the world.

"These disparities are stark in countries such as the UK and the US, and are even more pronounced between developed and less-developed countries," it said in its successful application to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Even within the UK, research showed that significant barriers still existed for certain social and economic groups.

"Open content provides the opportunity for access to high-quality learning materials which would not otherwise be available and affordable to many groups within both the developed and developing worlds."

Open University pro-vice-chancellor Professor David Vincent said its mission had always been to be open to people, places, methods and ideas...."The philosophy of open access and sharing knowledge - a cornerstone of this project - matches the founding principles of the Open University."

A right to copy

Paul Staincliffe, The nonsense of copyright in libraries : digital information and the right to copy, in Proceedings LIANZA Conference 2006, Wellington (New Zealand), 2006.  Self-archived October 18, 2006.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  
Abstract:   The notion of copyright is deeply entrenched in the psyche of librarians, who remain one of the few groups who consistently support or uphold it. Given the growth of digital information and consequential change in the behaviour of information creators and users the paper posits that copyright administration in libraries has become a cumbersome burden whose “time has come”. Changes in information provision by libraries towards delivering more digital information have ironically highlighted the paradox libraries face between providing the best possible service and upholding copyright. The notion that there exists in the digital environment a “right to copy” is put forward. Copyright is legally complicated, controversial, subject to a number of misunderstandings and generally not fully understood even by the librarians whose daily tasks include administering it. To better understand the current status of copyright and its impact on libraries the notion of copyright is briefly outlined, along with what exactly copyright is, its historical roots and its suitability in the current environment. In examining the legislation the paper critiques its aims and how it fails in these; compares arguments in favour and against its retention, investigates how it serves to restrict creativity rather than encourage it and in closing suggests why libraries should abandon the struggle to uphold copyright. Examples from New Zealand, Australia, the US and the UK are used to highlight inconsistencies that support the argument that copyright in the digital environment is a nonsense that no longer works.

ETD options for the UK

Key Perspectives and UCL Library Services have just published the results of a new study:  Evaluation of Options for a UK Electronic Thesis Service, August 2006. Excerpt:

This report presents the findings from a study of EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service) as a model for a UK national electronic theses (e-theses) service. EThOS, under the auspices of the British Library, was chosen by competitive tender to develop a plan for such a service that would operate on the open access principle of providing electronic information free to the user. The current service operated by the British Library (BL) charges users for theses and these are supplied on microfilm.

The main characteristics of national e-theses services in operation elsewhere in the world were identified by desk research and by consultation with managers of those services. A table showing these comparative characteristics is presented in the report. The views of the UK higher education (HE) community were sought on a range of issues relevant to electronic thesis (e-thesis) provision. Interviews, focus groups and an online survey were used for this purpose. The EThOS model was then mapped against the views and requirements expressed by that community....

The assumptions on which EThOS has based the designing of its model are generally robust....

The main benefits are:

  • Hugely increased visibility of UK doctoral research output
  • Resulting increased usage and impact of UK doctoral research output
  • The opportunities for resulting new research efforts and collaborations

The main opportunities are:  

  • Being able to provide a world-class electronic theses service to showcase the UK’s doctoral research
  • Providing an example of good practice and the impetus for other nations to develop electronic theses services of their own
  • Possible commercial opportunities for value-added service providers

The report makes a series of sixteen recommendations for stakeholders, the main ones of which are: ...

  • The stakeholders should themselves plan for a programme of active advocacy within the UK HE community at graduate school and registrar level to raise awareness of the benefits of open access ethesis provision and to advise institutions on policies that will effect this provision

If you had the money, what closed content would you open?

From Jimmy Wales to the Wikipedia list, October 15, 2006 (thanks to Cory Doctorow):

I would like to gather from the community some examples of works you would like to see made free, works that we are not doing a good job of generating free replacements for, works that could in theory be purchased and freed.

Dream big. Imagine there existed a budget of $100 million to purchase copyrights to be made available under a free license. What would you like to see purchased and released under a free license?

Photos libraries? textbooks? newspaper archives? Be bold, be specific, be general, brainstorm, have fun with it.

I was recently asked this question by someone who is potentially in a position to make this happen, and he wanted to know what we need, what we dream of, that we can't accomplish on our own, or that we would expect to take a long time to accomplish on our own.

Profile of Medknow Publications

A unique Indian experiment in online publishing, Indo-Asian News Service, October 23, 2006. Excerpt:

Mumbai-based Medknow is an open publishing firm that creates academic (mostly medical) journals, puts them online, and makes them accessible to all.

While sharing all this useful information without a fee, it makes a tidy profit for itself and also builds readership and credibility for both the journals and the authors.

Started by Dev Kumar Sahoo, a doctor, Medknow Publications Pvt Ltd promises to 'provide solutions for the scientific publishing community, helping in publication and dissemination of research and thus converting research to knowledge.'

'We now have 33 journals being published by us,' Sahoo told IANS....Medknow has a staff of 20 people and also does a lot of outsourcing.

This experiment flies in the face of the traditional wisdom that if you share your knowledge, you won't be able to earn from it. MedKnow shares its information and not just survives, but thrives.

'Printing and mailing a journal eats up 85-95 percent of the cost of producing the journal. If you can spend 5-15 percent more, you can get it online. You won't lose readers or subscriptions. On the contrary, the advantages of increased readership is tremendous,' explains the 33-year-old doctor.

'Without open access, there's no scope for a journal (from a developing country in particular) to reach any quality....[Open access] increases visibility, attracts authors and encourages more citations, which are all important in the academic field,' says Sahoo.

Some figures are revealing - their first online venture, the Journal of Post Graduate Medicine from India (JPGM), grew from a 2001 print circulation of 300-400 to about 3,000-4,000 visitors per day....

Quality articles are no longer in short supply. JPGM had 19 articles submitted in 1999 and 770 last year. Its impact factor has 'increased visibly'.

Likewise, open access won't mean a loss of subscriptions even for smaller journals.  'Very few (academic) journals in India have a subscription of over 200-300,' says Sahoo. 'None of our journals that we've published for over three years have lost subscriptions. In fact, we have gained our print subscriptions.'

By being 'open access' journals, they enter into the 'virtuous circle of accessibility' and get noticed via online networks like Bioline, bibliographic database, search engines and individual web sites. This only boosts the accessibility and impact of these journals....

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Digitizing journal backfiles for OA

Richard Johnson, The Open Past Initiative: A Discussion Paper, SPARC, a draft from December 30, 2003, self-archived October 20, 2006. Excerpt:

The purpose of this paper is to initiate a discussion among SPARC, librarians, publishers, and other interested parties of a potential initiative to digitize and disseminate the back-runs of scholarly journals. SPARC seeks to obtain feedback on the concept described here; to determine whether the fundamental approach has sufficient merit to warrant further planning and development; and to elicit preliminary expressions of interest in participation....

SPARC proposes launching a cooperative program-- tentatively titled the “Open Past Initiative”-- that would apply the digital conversion and content management expertise of academic libraries to unlock the now isolated print assets of nonprofit and other independent journal publishers. Participating publishers likely would be insufficiently capitalized or otherwise ill equipped to undertake conversion on their own. They would contribute nonexclusive electronic license rights to their backfile content, while participating libraries would contribute retrospective conversion resources and long-term web-based open access. All researchers worldwide would have free online access to the valuable digital content thus made available....

Consensus group condemns VAT

A study by the Frankfurt Group concludes that the European value-added tax (VAT) impedes the transition to electronic publication. From the press release (undated but apparently released today):

VAT is the greatest obstacle to electronic information in Europe....Whereas printed publications throughout the EU are subject to a reduced rate of VAT, electronic publications in most countries are charged with the highest rate.

VAT represents a barrier for the switch to electronic publications. “The higher costs for electronic publications influence the libraries’ decisions when purchasing resources,” commented Hans Geleijnse, Chairman of the Frankfurt Group. “The study shows that VAT inhibits the switch to electronic publications in the majority of European libraries in non-VAT exempt countries. This is contrary to the stated aims of the European Commission and most national governments.” ...

The Frankfurt Group report Survey on the impact of VAT on libraries and the scientific publication markets [April-May 2006] was carried out by Soziologisches Forschungs­institut Göttingen (SOFI)....

The Frankfurt Group is a Consensus Forum for Academic and Research Informa­tion, whose members represent authors, publishers, rights organi­zations, libraries, research centres, subscription agents and intermediaries....