Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, November 04, 2006

OA and economies of scale

Eric Scott Sills and Jonathan D. Baum, Open access, medical research, and the internet economy of scale, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, November 2006.  Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

Update. I just saw the the text. It's a letter to the editor. Excerpt:

Few would gainsay Walport and Kiley’s optimistic forecast regarding academic publishing, given the Wellcome Trust’s move to require its sponsored research be made freely accessible via PubMed Central or its equivalent within six months of publication. With the issue of ‘who will pay’ thus having been largely addressed, the question of ‘how much is owed’ should be explored next.

For many years, established publishing houses have observed diminished costs per unit in response to greater production volume. But electronic publishing charges at present levels may be seen as excessive, unless special factors can be put forth to justify why US$3000 is required to publish a scholarly manuscript on the internet....

Steep surcharges in web-based publishing serve to drive away submissions from independent researchers who are not funded, not wealthy, or just not lucky enough to get a discretionary waiver. We agree that publication costs are legitimate research costs, but how high will such fees need to rise before the internet publishing community is asked for a receipt? To preserve the public trust, it may be time to audit the toll booth on the information highway.

Informa breaks off talks with Cinven and Candover

Mark Herlihy, Informa Ends Buyout Talks, Says Bid 'Undervalues' It, Bloomberg, November 3, 2006.  Excerpt:

Informa Plc...ended talks with buyout firms Cinven Ltd. and Candover Investments Plc, saying their offer "significantly undervalues'' the company.

Springer Science & Business Media, whose main shareholders are Cinven and Candover, offered 630 pence per share, London- based Informa said today in a Regulatory News Service statement. Informa said it's terminated discussions with the bidders.

The rejection of the offer may not be the end of the deal, Lorna Tilbian, an analyst at London-based Numis Securities said in a telephone interview. Informa did not initiate the talks and were unwilling sellers, she said....

More Stellenbosch presentations

Richard Wallis has blogged some more notes on the Stellenbosch Ninth Annual Symposium (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, November 2-3, 2006).  The only OA-related presentation in this set is Wouter Klapwijkm, Supporting a research repository information infrastructure.

More on the AAA's opposition to FRPAA

Eric Kansa, This Morning’s Jaw Dropper: More on FRPAA and the AAA, Digging Digitally, November 3, 2006.  Excerpt:

The saga of the American Anthropological Association (AAA)’s response to FRPAA (Federal Research Public Access Act) continues. Rex at the Savage Minds Blog just reported that the AnthroSource Steering Committee, a group leading AnthroSource, the AAA’s digital repository system, has been DISBANDED....

What a mess! This heavy-handed action is indicative of how much the AAA is on the defensive on this issue. They’re starting to remind me of the recording industry and their rearguard actions against file-sharing and online dissemination in general. This speaks volumes about how beholden this organization is toward failing and outmoded publication business models, models that hurt AAA members, universities, libraries, students, faculty, groups with limited financial resources, and the public (see evidence: here). The current system sees publication cost escalating unchecked, and according to Rex, the AAA’s publication program is still losing money. So, I just don’t get it, why stick with a failing business model, one that is not meeting the needs of its constituents, and not explore alternatives?

Trying to horde anthropological research seems self-defeating. It seems that anthropology should do more to attract more people to its research. FRPAA, which would require government funded archives of paper drafts accepted for publication, would be a great way for anthropology to become better known to a larger community. There’s no direct financial threat to the AAA, since government agencies will foot the bill for the archives. Besides, overly proprietary and closed models become too inconvenient and expensive for people to want to use. Alternatives are already proliferating, and it is getting much easier and cheaper to set up an open, peer-reviewed, e-journal.

The AAA’s attempts to horde anthropological scholarship is bad enough, since this research is often very important for human rights activists and development. But by opposing FRPAA, the AAA is also working against the dissemination of vital knowledge in other disciplines that directly impact health, conservation, and economic development. That makes this whole affair sordid, ironic, and even somewhat tragic, especially for a discipline that positions itself in advocacy on behalf of marginalized peoples and communities.

BTW: Changing the AAA is going to require some grassroots organizing. Some anthropological bloggers want to get together at the AAA meeting in San Jose to discuss ways to push forward an Open Access agenda. Find out more here!

Coming: an OA drug database/wiki

Stewart Brower, An open access call to arms, Professional Notes, November 3, 2006.  Excerpt:

Dean [Giustini] is very correct [here] about the need to develop new tools and new resources that circumvent our overreliance on high-dollar electronic products like UpToDate and MDConsult.

I plan on taking up the cause myself in a number of ways. Recently I announced the launch of Communications in Information Literacy, a new open access journal that I'm co-editing. This coming Wednesday I'm conducting a public forum at the University at Buffalo about developing a new open access drug resource, whole cloth, as a wiki. Potentially, it will be able to be harnessed as an alternative to pricey clinical drug information systems and online formularies, while doubling as a drug education aid for information literacy efforts.

I'm very excited about the prospect, but my most fervent hope is that my colleagues in MLA, particularly the Pharmacy and Drug Information Section, will collaborate with me in building this new site. I should have more to report very soon, but if anyone is in the Buffalo area and would like to attend the open forum, please let me know and I will gladly provide directions.

OA mandates will moot society conflicts

Stevan Harnad, Anthropomorphic Tail Wags Anthropological Dog, Open Access Archivangelism, November 3, 2006. 

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) has disbanded its "AnthroSource Steering Committee" because it had supported the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA). Hardly a surprising outcome: Like the Royal Society and many other learned societies, the AAA, has a strong publishing tail that manages to wag the AAA dog. And that tail does not wag the AAA in the interests of anthropological research or researchers. The resolution of this (undeniable) conflict of interest between researchers and their learned societies is very simple: It will not be their learned societies who ensure that Open Access is provided, free for all, but their institutions and funders, by mandating it, just as the FRPAA proposes to do (but with a few of the policy parameters fine-tuned to optimize them).

CC licenses for government publications

Tom Worthington has proposed that Australia should use Creative Commons licenses for government publications.

CERN builds support for ambitious OA project

CERN has issued a press release on the meeting it convened yesterday in Geneva, Establishing a sponsoring consortium for Open Access publishing in particle physics.  Excerpt:

The first meeting of European particle physics funding agencies took place today [November 3] at establish a consortium for Open Access publishing in particle physics, SCOAP3 [Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics]. This is the first time an entire scientific field is exploring the conversion of its reader-paid journals into an author-paid Open Access format.

Open Access is a policy that could revolutionize the academic publishing world and have a great impact on research. By changing the traditional model of financing publications through reader subscriptions, the publications will be free to readers and financed by funding agencies via laboratories and the authors. This new concept in publishing will broaden opportunities for researchers and funding agencies in achieving greater benefit from unrestricted distribution of the results of their publicly funded research.

"DESY [Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron] 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 that we are actively and constructively involved in these ongoing discussions aiming to establish a sponsoring consortium," stated Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Research Director at Germany's DESY laboratory. His remarks were echoed by Francois le Diberder, from the French national institute for particle and nuclear physics (CNRS/IN2P3): "CNRS, and IN2P3, fully support the SCOAP initiative and will proactively participate in its inception and operation". The delegate from Italy's national institute for nuclear physics (INFN) Graziano Fortuna, said, "INFN fully supports the move to an Open Access system for high energy physics publications." Expressions of support came from other delegates, including those of German funding agencies, notably the Max Planck Society, Greece, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The European Committee for Future Accelerators (ECFA) also offered support. Both national and international library consortia were enthusiastic about the initiative.

"There is a wind of change blowing and with it the possibility to experiment with new models - in this CERN is perceived as the pioneer of a new publishing paradigm and the SCOAP initiative as a pilot project for future developments in scientific publishing," said Peteris Zilgalvis of the European Commission.

Publishers also are aligning with the opportunities offered by Open Access: journals published by American Institute of Physics, American Physical Society, Elsevier and Springer have already started to offer authors the possibility to make their articles freely available to readers. Shortly before the meeting, the publishing consortium of the European Physical Journal lowered the price tag for such an Open Access option and announced an author-friendly approach to copyright. At the same time the publishers of the Journal of High Energy Physics (JHEP) stated they are ready to embrace a sponsorship policy in which they would allow unrestricted access to their articles. On the cost of this policy JHEP states: "we have managed to prove that the costs can be reduced whilst at the same time ensuring the highest rigour in peer review".

Today the first steps have been taken in developing an effective strategy to provide funding to Open Access publishing in high energy physics. An interim working party comprising physicists, librarians and legal experts from across Europe has been formed with the mandate to lay the foundations for SCOAP3 within the next few months....

Comment.  We're watching a massive transition OA in process.  This is not only the first project to convert all the TA journals in a field to OA; it's also succeeding.  It's succeeding in pulling together the needed stakeholders and it's succeeding in raising the money.  It's also succeeding in showing that the final result will cost the stakeholders less than the current system.  Nothing could be more encouraging than the statement from JHEP:  "[W]e have managed to prove that the costs can be reduced whilst at the same time ensuring the highest rigour in peer review" --and of course improving access for readers and impact for authors. 

OA advocates have always argued that funding OA doesn't require new money, just a redirection of the money now spent on subscriptions.  We see small new pressures for redirection every time libraries cancel journals because of high prices or inadequate funds, and we see small actual steps toward redirection every time a TA journal converts to OA.  What's most significant about the CERN project is that it's a large-scale, discipline-wide, stakeholder-united redirection project.  If it works, it will accomplish in one move what other disciplines are accomplishing, if at all, in halting steps.  More, CERN is on track to accomplish this feat with cooperation and comity all around. 

Update (November 6, 2006). CERN has now posted the press release to its own web site (nicer format, working URLs).

Friday, November 03, 2006

Self-archive now, other steps later

Stevan Harnad, First Things First: OA Self-Archiving, Then Maybe OA Publishing, Open Access Archivangelism, November 3, 2006.  Excerpt:

Summary:  In two separate postings plus an article, Chris Armbruster...has suggested that peer review provision should be unbundled from access provision and that authors (of journal articles) should not transfer exclusive copyright to publishers. The trouble is that although both desiderata are indeed desirable (and will no doubt prevail eventually), publishers are not particularly interested in unbundling today, and authors are not particularly interested in putting their accepted articles' publication at risk by haggling over copyright retention. Hence the immediate solution is, and remains, for authors to self-archive their accepted peer-reviewed drafts, and for their institutions and funders to mandate that they do so, for the good of research, researchers, and the public that funds them.

Version 2 of JISC's OA briefing paper

JISC has published version 2 of its Open Access Briefing Paper (dated September 2, 2006, but apparently released this week).  The first edition from April 2005 was written by Alma Swan; the second incorporates revisions by Fred Friend.  Excerpt:

The World Wide Web has provided the means for researchers to make their research results available to anyone, anywhere, at any time. This applies to journal articles regardless of whether or not their library has a subscription to the journal in which the articles were published as well as to other types of research output such as conference papers, theses or research reports. This is known as Open Access.

Researchers publish their results to establish their own claim to the research and to enable other  researchers to build upon them. In the case of journal articles, only the richest institutions have been able to afford a reasonable proportion of all the scholarly journals published and so learning about and accessing such articles has not always been easy for most researchers. Open Access changes all this.

What Open Access is

The Open Access research literature is composed of free, online copies of peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers as well as technical reports, theses and working papers. In most cases there are no licensing restrictions on their use by readers. They can therefore be used freely for research, teaching and other purposes.

What Open Access is not

There are various misunderstandings about Open Access. It is not self-publishing, nor a way to bypass peer-review and publication, nor is it a kind of second-class, cut-price publishing route. It is simply a means to make research results freely available online to the whole research community....

Another missed chance to learn author attitudes

Angel A. Hernandez-Borges and five co-authors, Awareness and attitude of Spanish medical authors to open access publishing and the "author pays" model, Journal of the Medical Library Association, October 2006.  Excerpt:

The investigators selected the first authors of Spanish-language articles...appearing in PubMed between June and December 2003 [and sent them a nine-item questionnaire]....The study found a low level of awareness of the OAP model (22%, N = 22) and of acceptance of journals charging author fees among Spanish authors....[O]nly nine respondents (9%) indicated they would pay author fees to publish in an OA journal, and only five (5%) had published in an open access's journal that charged fees. Nearly one-third of respondents noted that lack of funds was a significant barrier to open access publishing, while 19 (19%) indicated the prestige factor as a barrier.

Comment.  Some of these results of valid and useful, but some of the most central are not. Unfortunately, this is another study in a fairly long series that interviews authors for their attitudes about OA journals without first informing them that a majority of OA journals charge no author-side fees (see one and two) and that, when they do, the fees are often waived or paid by sponsors.  It appears that the researchers were themselves unaware of at least the first of these facts. 

We already knew that authors don't like the idea of paying fees out of pocket.  Now let's find out what they think about OA journals.  And let's kill the term "author pays" once and for all.  It's false for the majority of OA journals, which charge no fees.  It's misleading for the rest for suggesting that authors have to pay out of pocket.  It misleads both interviewers and interviewees in studies like this, and it only helps spread FUD.

Google supports CC

Google has donated $30,000 to Creative Commons.

Comment.  Good move.  The more CC content there is, the more Google-crawlable content there is.  

There's an even more important element here, but to describe it we need a term like "net share" (by analogy to "market share").  The more some-rights-reserved content increases net share, the more all-rights-reserved content loses net share.  And the more that happens, the more the net becomes a headache-free zone for crawling, indexing, and sharing.

Help make MediaCommons

Ben Vershbow, making MediaCommons, if:book, November 2, 2006.  Excerpt:

Back in July, we announced plans to build MediaCommons, a new kind of scholarly press for the digital age with a focus on media studies....At its core, MediaCommons will be a social networking site where academics, students, and other interested members of the public can write and critically converse about a mediated world, in a mediated environment....At the same time, MediaCommons will be a full-fledged electronic press dedicated to the development of born-digital scholarship: multimedia "papers," journals, Gamer Theory-style monographs, and many other genre-busting forms yet to be invented.

Today we are pleased to announce the first concrete step toward the establishment of this network: making MediaCommons, a planning site through which founding editors Avi Santo (Old Dominion U.) and Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Pomona College) will lead a public discussion on the possible directions this all might take.

The site presently consists of three simple sections:

1) A weblog where Avi and Kathleen will think out loud....

2) A call for "papers" ...

3) In Media Res -- an experimental feature where each week a different scholar will present a short contemporary media clip accompanied by a 100-150 word commentary, alongside which a community discussion can take place. Sort of a "YouTube" for scholars and a critically engaged public...

Other features and sections will be added over time and out of this site the real MediaCommons will eventually emerge. How exactly this will happen, and how quickly, is yet to be seen and depends largely on the feedback and contributions from the community that will develop on making MediaCommons. We imagine it could launch as early as this coming Spring or as late as next Fall. Come take a look!

Peer review is not at risk

Steve Hitchcock, Publishers bury the case for exclusivity when opposing open access policy mandates, Eprints Insiders, November 3, 2006.  Excerpt:

Publishers don't like policies from government, research funders or institutions mandating OA through repository self-archiving because, ironically, these make it more likely that authors will use the self-archiving clauses that most publishers now accept. Still, it gets rather tiring to keep reading the same publisher refrain from any policy initiative - that it will harm business models, cause journal subscriptions to be cancelled, etc. - as in this example. What is the real problem?

Publishers are burying the case for exclusivity beneath speculation on business models and revenues because they know the legislators they oppose won't buy their case otherwise, and neither should anyone else....

Coincidentally, the chance to test this arose with a posting to the liblicense list by Peter Banks, former journal publisher and now industry consultant. Banks appeared to say that OA, especially self-archiving in repositories, would lead to the end of peer review as performed by publishers....In a follow-up message he raised the prospect that nonprofit and for-profit publishers might "cease providing traditional peer review services."....Banks offered a thoughtful and somewhat surprising suggestion, but which is consistent with the consequence of ending peer review, the end of conventional journals: "In the face of mandated OA, publishers should move toward a new business that has a positive ROI. This will probably involve providing context, rather than content. That is, under mandated OA, the business of publishing will no longer be creating quality content, but aggregating it and filtering it from what is freely available on the Web. It is separating the small amount of wheat from the great quantity of chaff." ...

The point is that peer review is not a bargaining tool. Its role is equally pivotal for authors and publishers. If publishers give up exclusivity, will authors have to forego journal peer review? Simply, no.

Review of OpenDOAR repositories policies tool

Steve Hitchcock, OpenDOAR repository policies tool, Eprints Insiders, November 3, 2006.  Excerpt:

Writing a repository policy is hard, but some help is at hand with the OpenDOAR policies tool....OpenDOAR examines policies presented as OAI-harvestable eprints.xsd definitions statements by the sites it assesses for inclusion in its repository directory. It found that over two-thirds of sites have no harvestable or defined policy (Millington slide presentation). It may be less than that. In a small recent survey of repository preservation policy, which ought to be a consequential subset of wider policy, the Preserv project found that effectively none had a policy in this area (Hitchcock slide presentation).

OpenDOAR concludes that the eprints.xsd is not working and should be updated or replaced. In fact, eprints.xsd doesn't cover preservation policy at all.

To improve matters OpenDOAR's policy tool allows administrators to produce policy by filling in a series of forms, covering policies for Metadata, Data, Content, Submission and Preservation.

On the front page of the tool users can add the repository name, URL or OAI Base URL to get the tool to retrieve current repository policy (although this didn't appear to work for repositories known to me), if there is one, or leave it blank if you just want to start exploring the tool....

How successful this tool is in raising the number of repositories with policy above the one-third level remains to be seen, but OpenDOAR could hardly have done more with this excellently conceived, practical and (nearly) comprehensive tool. Repositories have no excuse not to try it.

Committee supporting FRPAA disbanded by AAA

Rex, So much for open access: AnthroSource Steering Committee liquidated by AAA, Savage Minds, November 2, 2006.  Excerpt:

The latest edition of Peter Suber’s SOAN Newsletter is out and includes some coverage of the AnthroSource Steering Committee’s opposition to the AAA’s support of FRPAA. Given this fact and Kerim’s call for an open access event at AAA [American Anthropological Association], I figured it was time for an update on the ASSC’s progress in this regard…

I finally got the memo on 30 October making official what we knew was coming: The AnthroSource Steering Committee (ASSC) has officially been disbanded and will be replaced by the new “Committee on the Future of Print and Electronic Publishing.” There were lots of problems with the ASSC —it’s relationship to the finance committee and sections was never spelled out, for instance. But it is transparently obvious to everyone involved why the ASSC was replaced: as one member of the committee put it (not me) “we were all given pink slips soon after we pushed for FRPAA.” We are all, every one of us, tremendously disappointed in this decision.

Don’t look for the Committee on the Future of Print and Electronic Publishing to be looking to the future very much—their job is old school indeed: to figure out how to maximize the profits of the AAA’s publishing program. Not that this is a bad thing —the AAA has been losing money for a long time and AnthroSource has only been able to meet its target for earnings by consistently revising down its expectations. We certainly need a sustainable model for publishing to keep our publications afloat. And, to be sure, it is probably just the nature of scholarly publishing that it is perpetually in crisis in just this way. But there is no doubt in my mind that the AAA’s move to turn its back on the organization that was supposed to innovate its way out of this financial impasse reflects its Weapons of Mass Destruction business model: We’re sure the profits are around here somewhere. They have to be. We know they are. We just have to keep on doing what we’ve always been doing and ignore all those people who are suggesting that there might be workable alternatives to our current strategy....

Comment.  Wow.  I hope the AAA membership understands what just happened to a committee that stood up for the interests of the membership.

BTW, Rex links to my July 2006 coverage of the controversy.  For my November coverage (published yesterday), click here.

Two reviews of Google Book Search

Mick O'Lear, Google Book Search Has Far to Go, Information Today, November 3, 2006.  Excerpt:

Over the past 2 years, trade journals, magazines, and newspapers have been publishing articles about Google Book Search.  But even if you had read every one of them, you still wouldn’t know much about the project itself, because most of the discussion has focused on the copyright controversy with little about the database and how it works. So here are the details.

Book Search is difficult to research because the Google site has little documentation about the project: There’s no list of participating publishers, no guidelines for the book selection process, no status reports on the library scanning program, etc. This is not only annoying, it’s hypocritical for an organization with a mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Book Search has three book search services: 1) a library union catalog search of WorldCat and others, 2) books scanned from library collections, and 3) in-stock books provided by publishers. It’s ironic that the first and most innovative of these is overlooked, while the second and most rudimentary and problem-ridden gets all of the attention....

Péter Jacsó, Google Book Search, Péter's Digital Reference Shelf, November 2006.  Excerpt:

I skip the legal and/or ethical pros and cons in the case; there are many substantial sources to let you see both sides of the coin, and legal cases are pending. Here is an excellent bibliography by Charles Bailey. I focus on what is the current content; what is accessible; and how the software helps and prevents finding materials. Only a small segment of the books and other print materials seem to be available free in their entirety. For this column, I approach it primarily from the ready reference perspective, where even snippets of information can be useful....

I almost always discuss the software at the end of the review, but here I must make an exception and bring up serious software problems that confuse even veteran searchers, and distort or make enigmatic some results. Even with simple searches, there is enough confusion because of the ignorance, illiteracy and innumeracy of the software.

The most startling problem is the incorrect use of the Boolean OR operation....Most search programs make it easy to limit the search to the title field, the publication year and some other fields. Google serves up strange results....The handling of fully viewable books is inconsistent in GBS, and therefore the results are unpredictable. Sometimes they are included in the All Books search, sometimes not; sometimes some of the fully viewable books are included in the All Books search, but not the others....It certainly discombobulates the users when hits are reported in terms of pages rather than books....

As is usual with Google services, it is not possible to determine through special searches how many items there are in the database, or get factual information about other aspects of the content, such as the distribution of items by publication year (at least by broad range, such as for the last decade)....

New version of Freescience

digitAlexandria has released version 1.2.1 of Freescience, its software make research articles available to the network of OAI-compliant repositories.  It shouldn't be mistaken for dA's software for building OAI-compliant repositories, ArchiveMaker.

French call for OA

David Monniaux has posted a two-part essay on scientific publication to his blog (one, two, both in French).  He concludes with a call for OA, including OA to publicly-funded research.  (Thanks to Laurent Guerby.)

Case studies in how OA helps

As far as I know, no one is maintaining a list of scientific advances facilitated in some significant way by open access to research literature.  That doesn't mean there aren't any, only that they have to be recognized, collected, and organized. 

Donat Agosti wants to help collect and organize them and made a start yesterday on  his blog.   He gives one example from politics and one that is more a technique than an example (text mining).  That illustrates the problem:  we all know there are examples and can point to the kind of thing we have in mind, but we won't get very far in coming up with specific cases until we tap into a wide network of working researchers.  That's where blogs can help.

This is a good time to resurface my own call for anecdotes or case studies illustrating the benefits of OA or the harms caused by the lack of it.  If you have any leads, please send them to Donat or SOAF

U of Tasmania mandates electronic submission for theses and dissertations

Effective today, the University of Tasmania will mandate electronic submission of theses and dissertations.  The new policy is simplicity itself: in addition to submitting two bound, printed copies (as before), candidates must submit one electronic copy.

Comment. Kudos to Tasmania and congratulations to Arthur Sale, the mover behind the new policy. This little change can have big consequences because (as I argued in a July 2006 article), for theses and dissertations, achieving mandatory electronic submission is the hardest part of achieving OA:

In principle, universities could require electronic submission of the dissertation without requiring deposit in the institutional repository.  They could also require deposit in the repository without requiring OA.  But in practice, most universities don't draw these distinctions.  Most universities that encourage or require electronic submission also encourage or require OA.  What's remarkable is that for theses and dissertations, OA is not the hard step.  The hard step is encouraging or requiring electronic submission. For dissertations that are born digital and submitted in digital form, OA is pretty much the default.  I needn't tell you that this is not at all the case with journal literature.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Publication metrics, including the OA impact advantage

Colin Steele, Linda Butler, and Danny Kingsley, The publishing imperative: the pervasive influence of publication metrics, Learned Publishing, October 2006 (accessible only to subscribers).  See the self-archived, OA copy.

Abstract:   This article summarises the effects of the increasing global trend towards measuring research quality and effectiveness through, in particular, publication-based metrics, and its effects on scholarly communication. Such metrics are increasingly influencing the behaviour patterns of administrators, publishers, librarians and researchers. Impact and citation measures, which often rely solely on Thomson Scientific data, are examined in the context of university league tables and research assessment exercises. The need to establish alternate metrics, particularly for the social sciences and humanities, is emphasised, as is an holistic approach to scholarly communication agendas.

Presentations at Stellenbosch

Richard Wallis has blogged some notes on six presentations at the Stellenbosch Ninth Annual Symposium (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, November 2-3, 2006).  Two of the presentations address OA:  Tony Hey on E-Science and Scholarly Communication and Hussein Suleman on What is Wrong with Digital Repository Software?

Making knowledge a public good, officially

Nate Anderson, UK report: knowledge should be public good first, private right second, Ars Technica, November 2, 2006.  Excerpt:

The UK is awaiting the release of a report by the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, a task force charged with suggesting changes to the country's intellectual property laws. The formation of the commission has inspired a flurry of private books and reports on IP designed to influence debate on the subject. While many of these are exactly as interesting as you'd expect, a new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research offers a fascinating look at the reasons behind intellectual property rights and suggests a new way forward for Britain: thinking about knowledge as a public resource first, and a private asset second. Is this idealistic, anti-business pinko blue-skying? The group says no....

Recognizing the legitimate private rights that must be granted to business in order to encourage investment and creative production, the authors of the report also make a strong case for "creating as strong a political voice for public domain as currently exists for other interests." Only when consumers (and the businesses that rely on public domain work) have a real seat at the table can the concerns of each group be properly balanced.

The report opens with an observation: knowledge can play two very different roles in society. It can be a commodity that is bought, sold, and protected by copyright, but it can also serve as "social glue" that gives a society a sense of cohesion. "It is through the sharing of information that we are able to develop our intellectual and creative talents, discover new artists, create new businesses, forge alliances between academic and commercial institutions, and learn from one another," says the report, and argues that both uses—not just the business case for copyrights—need to be considered by the government....

A South African voice for the A2K treaty and OA mandates

Monika Ermert and Robert W. Smith, IGF: more free content for the Internet, Heise Online, November 2, 2006.  Excerpt:

As a counterpoint to ever more stringent copyright provisions an international treaty on Access to Knowledge (A2K) should be drawn up, a South African representative during a discussion on the openness of networks at the Internet Governance Forum has said. For some time now South Africa, a number of governments of newly industrialized countries as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been advertising the A2K Initiative toward the member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). "I consider such a treaty to be possible," Hanne Sophie Greve, a former judge at the European Court of Justice now at the Council of Europe, said.

Ms. Greve at the same time declared that she was very much in favor of making the results of publicly-funded research available to the public. "I believe that the institutions in question should undertake to make these contents available on the Internet," she said. It was moreover impossible to understand why in the domain of medical research in particular people who volunteered to take part in trials and consented to having their data used should in the end be barred from accessing the research results obtained, she stated. Of course it was also important to take the rights of authors into account, she added....

More on the British Academy report

John Blossom, The Intellectual Cost of Copyright: British Academy Assesses Impact of Fair Use Restrictions on Research, ContentBlogger, November 1, 2006.  Comments on the British Academy report on Copyright and research in the humanities and social sciences (blogged here September 15, 2006).  Excerpt:

With a captive audience forced to play by the rules of juried publications, scholarly publishers are in effect taxing national economies who play by these rules. No small wonder, then that one of the report's key recommendations is to have the U.K. government step in and regulate the licensing of scholarly content. Hopefully the scholarly publishing industry can come to a better conclusion on their own. But with emerging markets such as China and India beginning to become research powers in their own right the nations that have been sponsoring scholarly publishing services up to now may find that they have more to lose in intellectual prowess to these developing nations if they don't step up support for more open access to scholarly research some time soon.

PS:  BTW, the UK government has taken two steps to "regulate the licensing of scholarly content" since this report came out.  See my note on both in today's issue of SOAN.

Resisting OA for public data in the UK

Vanessa Lawrence, A move into uncharted territory, London Times, October 31, 2006.  Excerpt:

[The UK] Ordnance Survey (OS) is trundling along nicely, fulfilling its cartographic duties, covering its costs and making a profit for the Government, which owns it. But that could change completely on November 21 if agreement is reached on new European legislation.

As things stand, OS funds its existence by charging people for the right to use the information it creates. Its data underpins commercial enterprises from computer games to satellite navigation systems as well as public services such as emergency planning. However, European proposals contained in the Inspire initiative — designed to join up information about weather, land and water across Europe to assist effective decision-making — would mean that all of its data would have to be made available free, says Vanessa Lawrence, OS’s director-general and chief executive.

“We cost £100 million a year to run,” she says. “We don’t make massive profits but we make enough to cover our costs, pay the Government a 5.5 per cent dividend and to invest in what our customers want. If we move to free data then it would be taxpayers’ money which is used to pay for our work, and I believe that our taxes should not be used for things that can be sustained in other ways. I feel strongly that we should be able to continue the job we do in the way we do it.”

Lawrence describes herself as the custodian of OS, supports the Inspire initiative’s aims and says that she’d be happy to give away some information; she just doesn’t want to give everything away....

Also see this follow-up note on the Free Our Data blog:

Meanwhile, INSPIRE is going to be voted on November 21. Counting down...

Strengthening Scholarly Publishing in Africa project

The Public Knowledge Project has launched its Strengthening Scholarly Publishing in Africa project.  For background, see the (undated and apparently older) essay by Samuel Smith Esseh and John Willinsky, Strengthening Scholarly Publishing in Africa: Assessing the Potential of Online Systems.  Excerpt:

This project will take the work of AJOL [African Journals Online] to the next level, by assisting those journals that wish to move to online management and publishing of their contents, using subscription and/or open access models in print and/or online editions. Online publication will lead to a far greater circulation and contribution of this scholarship (than the 3,000 documents delivered by photocopy by INASP). This project will also build on INASP’s tradition of delivering publishing workshops in Africa each year, which includes an introduction to Open Journal Systems. This project will form the basis of a new initiative, located in Africa and directed by an African researcher, aimed at helping African research libraries support scholarly publishing, with an eye to supplying AJOL with complete journal contents.

Wildau presentations on OA

The presentations from the meeting, Wissenschaft im Netz mit Open Access (Wildau, October 26, 2006), are now online.

Adding utility to documents in OA repositories

Alberto Pepe and Joanne Yeomans, Protocols for Scholarly Communication, a preprint forthcoming in Library and Information Systems in Astronomy V.  Self-archived November 1, 2006.  (Thanks to pintiniblog.)

Abstract:  CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has operated an institutional preprint repository for more than 10 years. The repository contains over 850,000 records of which more than 450,000 are full-text OA preprints, mostly in the field of particle physics, and it is integrated with the library's holdings of books, conference proceedings, journals and other grey literature. In order to encourage effective propagation and open access to scholarly material, CERN is implementing a range of innovative library services into its document repository: automatic keywording, reference extraction, collaborative management tools and bibliometric tools. Some of these services, such as user reviewing and automatic metadata extraction, could make up an interesting testbed for future publishing solutions and certainly provide an exciting environment for e-science possibilities. The future protocol for scientific communication should naturally guide authors towards OA publication and CERN wants to help reach a full open access publishing environment for the particle physics community and the related sciences in the next few years.

Making the case for academic sharing

David Bollier, Saving Academia from Market Enclosure, On the Commons, November 1, 2006.  Excerpt:

One of our most valuable commons are universities: a special non-market system for generating reliable and valuable knowledge. This is precisely why so many businesses are trying to privatize the academic commons....

These were among the topics discussed at an Ottawa conference that I attended over the weekend. “Controlling Intellectual Property: The Academic Community and the Future of Knowledge,” was hosted by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)....I gave the closing keynote on “The Perils of Property Speak in Academia,” which I will post as an essay on next week.

I was struck by the active enthusiasm of university administrators to convert academia into a more market-friendly environment....

The human genome would have gotten locked up as private property if public-sector researchers had not raced ahead and published the data first, putting it into the public domain.

As more parties win patents for “upstream” basic research, the “anti-commons” effect kicks in. This is what happens when property rights for a given field of research are so numerous and fragmented that it becomes too difficult and costly to clear the rights for one's research. This is one reason that the search for a malaria vaccine has been so elusive – there are 34 “patent families” for a single malarial antigen.

What kinds of future knowledge are we sabotaging right now?  As I told the conference, if contemporary copyright and patent rules had been in effect in the 1950s and 1960s, it’s likely that neither the biotech revolution nor the computer revolution would have occurred. Too much fundamental knowledge would have been proprietary.

There are two related forces propelling the corporate enclosure of academia....[G]overnment has chronically under-funded higher education and research.  This has sent administrators scurrying to find new sources of funding....New market-oriented rules are imposed:  Publication has to be delayed lest it make the research unpatentable.  Commercially hot research takes priority over long-term inquiry.  New ethical conflicts-of-interest arise as researchers serve two masters – the corporate sponsor and their academic peers.

One way that academia can begin to fight back, I believe, is by developing a stronger, more coherent analysis for why its open sharing and collaboration represent a “value proposition.”  The academic commons is at least as generative as the market, but you rarely hear that stated or explained.  Until it is, administrators and even many professors are likely to see more value in cold, hard cash than in the norms and ethics of the academic commons.

Scirus crawls two more Indian repositories

Scirus has agreed to crawl the two OA repositories of the Indian Institute of ScienceePrints@IISc for research papers and etd@IISc for electronic theses and dissertations.  For more details, see yesterday's press release.

Blackwell's position on OA

Jayne Flannery interviews Mike Fenton in the November 2006 issue of British Industry.  Fenton is the group operations director of Blackwell Publishing.  Excerpt:

As an organisation, Blackwell is keen to be seen as an active participant in the evolution of the industry and as a key mover and influencer of overall trends within publishing. “In terms of understanding the way the market is evolving and developing, again we want to get there before anyone else,” he said, citing the example of the current open access debate. Traditionally, articles and publications have been made available to relevant persons and institutions through the charging of subscriptions. “The dilemma is that some funding organisations think that having paid for the research they should not have to pay again to obtain access to the output,” he explained.

Open Access can be achieved through a new model: the author or their institution pays the publishing costs and the publisher then makes the article available online free of charge. This shift to publishers selling their services to authors is controversial as it could create a barrier to authorship and may lead to lower standards. However, some authors and their funders (particularly the Wellcome Trust which is the largest independent funder of biomedical research in the UK with an annual budget of around £400 million) are asking for it so Blackwell is offering an author pays option with around 150 journals (largely in biomedicine) calling the service OnlineOpen.

Another aspect of Open Access is more of a challenge. Some funding agencies are demanding that their researchers self-archive for free access over the net within six months of publication. This could undermine the paid circulation of journals as librarians might no longer feel the need to pay when the material soon becomes available from institutional repositories and can be readily found through search engines such as Google. Blackwell is heavily involved in lobbying funding agencies and government departments directly or alongside the societies for whom it publishes to ensure a sustainable balance between the demand for Open Access and economic sense.

November SOAN

I just mailed the November issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue reviews the eleven (count 'em) open-access mandates adopted or proposed in October and takes an opening reconnaissance into the largely unexplored territory of no-fee OA journals. The Top Stories section takes a brief look at the Citizendium project, the continuing division within the American Anthropological Association over OA and FRPAA, the new NESLi2 model license that allows self-archiving, the new JISC-SURF model license that lets authors retain key rights, and Google Custom Search. I'm continuing the Round-up experiment for another month, briefly recapitulating the OA developments from the past month not covered in the other stories.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Friends of OA correct publisher web site

The Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels has launched a web site on what publishers do (in German).  The section on open access and copyright is apparently full of misunderstandings.  See the critiques by Klaus GrafBCK, and Eric Steinhauer, all from October 31, 2006.

Setting up an OA repository at India's U of Kalyani

Chandan Saha, Issues Involved In Setting Up An Institutional E-Print Repository With Special Reference To The University Of Kalyani, a thesis for an M.L.I.Sc. degree from the Department of Library and information science, University of Kalyani (Kalyani, Nadia, India), 2005.  Posted online today.

Abstract:   Day-by-day scholarly publications are becoming costlier and unmanageable for any library or information centers to collect them all. There are other factors also affecting access to scholarly publications. To overcome these barriers, and to make access easier and barrier free, e-print repositories are demand of time. There are lots of issues affecting setup of an institutional e-print repository. But most important part of them is its policies. A well thought policy could make it successful and acceptable to all concerned. Policies and issues relating to institutional repositories are discussed with special references to KU; and recommendations for setting up an e-print repository are made. Some other key factors are also controlling setup of institutional repositories. Advocacy methods are discussed in brief. Some problems relating to setup-like legal issues, role of University/parent body, metadata issues, control over archives, selection criteria, administration, submissions and impact on staffs etc. are explained in brief. An attempt has been made to formulate a model guideline for University of Kalyani to set up an institutional e-print repository. Some possible solutions for problems are also indicated. Technical aspects including LAN and software selections are also dealt with.

EPJ converts to hybrid OA

The European Physical Journal has become a hybrid OA journal.  (Thanks to George Porter.)  From today's announcement:

In line with worldwide initiatives by a majority of society and independent publishers, the publishing consortium of The European Physical Journal (EPJ) has decided to accept the principle of "open access" publishing of accepted papers -- i.e. of articles that have already successfully passed the peer-review stage -- if so desired by the authors. In this open access publishing model that is sustained by upfront payment, the extensive services provided by the EPJ publishers for the print and online publication are the same as for papers published in the subscription model, with the following additional services provided:

a. The online version of an open access article will be perpetually, universally and freely accessible;

b. The author (or the initial copyright holder) is entitled to keep his/her copyright.

Presently, all sections of this journal are read in over 4,200 institutions worldwide. The journal is further freely available in many so-called developing countries through various initiatives in which the publishers of EPJ participate. We also draw attention to the fact that EPJ has, in 2005, adopted the policy to provide every individual researcher with personalized free access in (the unlikely) case he or she should not have institutional access....

In the explicit expectation that these 4,200 institutions, often organised in consortia, will not cancel their subscriptions or licences as a result of this policy, EPJ proposes to authors and their funding institutions, a strongly reduced special "open access" article processing fee of EUR 1000,-- per article to sponsor "open access" of their EPJ article.

Following discussion with the respective Editorial Boards and in order to promote the latest research results rapidly, the "letter" articles in EPJ A and C will, by default, be published with immediate open access without incurring any fee....

The EPJ publishers are prepared to move the EPJ journals to "OA-only" seeking sponsoring models and the cooperation with funding agencies and consortia that guarantee long term financial support of OA publishing at realistic article processing fees and compatible with the efficiency and flexibility of the present system of dissemination of scientific content and metadata - in the usual high quality and to the entire spectrum of hosting, abstracting, indexing and archiving services according to international norms and conventions. In particular, EPJ is seeking sponsoring models and the cooperation with funding agencies and consortia willing to sponsor all types and categories of papers accepted by the editors of the EPJ journals on the basis of their intrinsic scientific quality and relevance.


  1. EPJ is a family of eight journals.  As the announcement says, the letters articles in two of the eight will charge no fees, EPJ A (Hadrons and Nuclei) and EPJ C (Particles and Fields).
  2. The EPJ hybrid model is better than most on the key criteria.  It lets authors retain copyright, which suggests that it would also let authors deposit copies in independent OA repositories and use CC licenses.  It doesn't waive fees in cases of economic hardship, but major parts of two of the eight journals charge no fees at all.  It doesn't promise to reduce the subscription prices in proportion to author uptake, but it's considering conversion to full OA, which would mean the end of subscription fees.  It's not clear whether it will let authors comply with a funder OA mandate without paying a fee for the OA option.
  3. Springer is one of the publishers of EPJ, but the EPJ fee of EUR 1,000 is much lower than the standard Springer fee of USD 3,000.  The reason seems to be the influence of the co-publishers, EDP Sciences and Società Italiana di Fisica.  (Thanks to George Porter for pointing this out.)
  4. Beyond these welcome features, EPJ deserves thanks for using the accurate term "upfront payment" instead of the misleading term "author fee", and for its willingness to shift from fees to institutional subsidies if it can arrange to do so.

OA book on avian flu

Michael Greger has released an OA book on avian flu.  Greger is an MD and the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.  A priced, printed edition will be released later this month, but the online edition will remain OA.  Proceeds from the print edition will be donated to charity.

PS:  OA books are now so common that I no longer blog them individually.  I make an exception for this one simply to point out the convergence of high public interest and barrier-free access.

Policy imperatives will prevail over vested interests

Richard K. Johnson, The Open Access Policy Imperative, a presentation at SARC III, Williamsburg (September 29, 2005), self-archived October 31, 2006.

Abstract:   Despite growing pressures for change in scholarly communication driven by the Internet and other factors, vested interests are slowing the transformation. Nevertheless, scientific, financial, and public policy imperatives for change will eventually win out.

OA book series from ANU E-Press

The ANU E-Press from the Australian National University is offering open access to each book in its Comparative Austronesian Series.  (Thanks to Savage Minds.)

"It's time, dear authors, for you to choose"

Jan Velterop, Nephelokykkygia, The Parachute, October 31, 2006.  Excerpt:

Bill Hooker has written a fine piece on open access. His exposé of the benefits of open access is convincing (not that I needed to be convinced any further). Unfortunately, he does repeat some of the misconceptions that have crept into the debate.

“[Large publisher] won’t let me use their pdf versions…” Duh, as my teenage kids would say. Why would publishers let you? Or the question that should come before that: why did you bother a publisher with your article in the first place?

“Well, if I don’t have it published formally in a journal, then I won’t get the recognition I need for my tenure and future funding prospects” you might be inclined to answer. Right answer! After all, it’s ‘publish or perish’. So, ‘giving away’ your article to a publisher is not entirely without ulterior motives, it seems. Nothing wrong with that, but let’s be honest about it, you are not so much ‘giving away’ anything to a publisher than asking for a service: "please organise for my article to be peer-reviewed and published in the journal whose title will make it worth a lot more for me than the not-formally-published version could ever be."

And what does the publisher get in return for doing that service? Ideally, he should simply be paid for it, after which the formally published article, with the imprimatur that gives it ‘authority’, is as open as you, the author, choose. This concept is known as Open Access Publishing and is now (hooray, finally) offered by many a publisher, large and small, society-linked or independent.

But, as long as there are many authors who like to have the imprimatur and the formal publication, but don’t want to pay for it, it’s offered as an option. For those who don’t wish to pay, there still is the old way of paying, namely by transferring their copyright (or exclusive publishing rights, which amounts to pretty much the same thing)....Many publishers, though, are offering the open access publishing option – so it’s time, dear authors, for you to choose.

Another misconception in Hooker’s piece is “For you as a taxpayer, this means that you are denied access to information you've already paid for (since I've always been funded by government grants).” The publisher doesn’t ‘deny access’ to the information. If anybody does, it’s the author. What stops an author from just posting the research results on some freely accessible repository and let the taxpayer have the benefit he deserves for putting up the money that sustains the author’s research? If he pays the publisher for the service of organising peer-review and attaching the formal imprimatur of a journal to his article, to give it the credibility and certification it needs, then he can also post the formally published pdf anywhere he likes. Payment could come out of the research grant....

Comments. Jan and I agree on a number of points, including the fact that Bill Hooker wrote an excellent piece on OA.  But we also disagree on a few points.

  1. I have no objection to publishers who don't permit self-archiving of the published edition, or to funder policies that mandate archiving of the final version of the author's manuscript rather than the published edition. (In fact, I recommend the latter.)
  2. Jan is right that many publishers (those offering hybrid OA journals) give authors the choice between OA and TA publishing.  However, he fails to mention that even more publishers give authors blanket permission to self-archive their peer-reviewed postprints.  If author choice is legit in the first case, then author choice is legit in the second.
  3. Jan is incorrect to suggest that hybrid OA journals want either payment (for OA dissemination) or transfer of copyright (for non-OA dissemination).  As he knows, most hybrid OA journals want both payment and copyright.  Thanks to his influence, Springer is an exception and lets authors who choose its OA option retain copyright.  But that's far from the default in the industry.  Similarly, it's not true to suggest that most hybrid OA journals let authors post the published PDF, even when they've paid a hefty fee for the OA option.
  4. It's a little disingenuous to say that authors, rather than publishers, block access to most publications based on publicly-funded research.  True, most authors still submit their work to subscription-based journals.  But that's because most journals are subscription-based and does not imply that authors wish to limit the impact of their work to those who can afford to pay.  Over 94% of surveyed authors say they are willing to comply with an OA mandate from their funder.  Moreover, no authors lobby against funder OA mandates.  Many publishers do lobby against them and lobby fiercely.
  5. One of Jan's recommendations is that funders should be willing to pay the processing fees charged by fee-based OA journals. I agree.  But it doesn't follow that authors should stop OA archiving and limit their pursuit of OA to OA journals.

Access 2006 presentations

The presentations from Capitalizing on Access (Ottawa, October 11-14, 2006) are now online.  (Thanks to Current Cites.)

More on the Bangalore Commitment

Stevan Harnad, Promoting open access to research, The Hindu, November 1, 2006.  An op-ed.  Excerpt:

Most of the 2.5 million articles published yearly in our planet's 24,000 research journals are inaccessible to a large portion of their potential users worldwide, but especially to those in the developing world. One might think that the reason for this is that no research institution can afford to subscribe to all 24,000 journals, and most can only afford a fraction of them. And this is true, but it is not the whole story, nor the main part of it. For, even if all those journals were sold at cost — not a penny of profit — they would still remain unaffordable for many of the research institutions worldwide. The only way to make all those articles accessible to all their potential users is to provide open access to them on the Web, so anyone can access them, anywhere in the world, at any time, for free.

One could have said the same of food, medicine, and all other human essentials, of course, but one cannot eat digital food or cure diseases with strings of 0s and 1s. Nor, alas, are all the producers of digital products — let alone of physical food or medicine — interested in giving away their products for free. So what makes research different (if it is different) and why is it urgent for all of its potential users to have access to it? ...

[R]esearchers — unlike the producers of commercial products — give their findings away. Unlike writers or journalists, researchers do not seek or get fees or royalties for their articles....

[A]ccess-barriers are barriers to research progress and its benefits....

There is no need...for developing countries to wait for the developed countries to mandate self-archiving. Developing countries have even more to gain — both in the impact of their own research on the research of others and in their own access to the research of others — because currently both their access and their impact is disproportionately low, relative to their actual and potential research productivity.

In the past few years there have been many abstract avowals of support for the principle of open access but these have all merely declared that providing open access is a "good thing" and "should be done" — without saying exactly what should be done, and without committing themselves to doing it!

What the whole world needs now is concrete commitments to open access. Under the guidance of India's tireless open access advocate, Subbiah Arunachalam, there will be a two-day workshop on research publication and open access in Bangalore on November 2 and 3, at which the three most research-active developing countries — India, China, and Brazil — will gather in order to frame the "Bangalore Commitment." A commitment to mandate open access self-archiving in their own countries and thereby set an example for emulation by the rest of the world.

Update. Stevan has now self-archived a copy of this article.

CC lends its expertise to Open Courseware

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A scholarly publishing market based on non-exclusive rights

Chris Armbruster, Cyberscience and the Knowledge-based Economy, Open Access and Trade Publishing: From Contradiction to Compatibility with Nonexclusive Copyright Licensing, a preprint, self-archived October 17, 2006. 

Abstract:   Open source, open content and open access are set to fundamentally alter the conditions of knowledge production and distribution. Open source, open content and open access are also the most tangible result of the shift towards eScience and digital networking. Yet, this article takes issue with widespread misperceptions about the nature of this shift. The focus is on knowledge distribution and scholarly publishing. It is argued, on the one hand, that for the academy there principally is no digital dilemma surrounding copyright and there is no contradiction between open science and the knowledge-based economy if profits are made from nonexclusive rights. On the other hand, pressure for the 'digital doubling' of research articles in OA repositories is misguided and OA publishing has no future outside biomedicine. Yet, commercial publishers must understand that business models based on the transfer of copyright have no future either. What is required of universities and governments, scholars and publishers, is to clear the way for digital innovations in knowledge distribution and scholarly publishing by enabling the emergence of a competitive market that is based on nonexclusive rights. This requires no change in the law but merely an end to the praxis of copyright transfer. The best way forward is the adoption of standard copyright licenses that reserve some rights, namely Attribution and No Derivative Works, but otherwise will allow for the unlimited reproduction, dissemination and use of the research article, commercial uses included.

Launch of OARE

Although I first blogged news about Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE) in December 2005, the project didn't officially launch until yesterday.  From the announcement:

In an effort to help reduce great disparities in scientific capital between developed and developing nations, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Yale University, and leading science and technology publishers launched today a new collaborative initiative to make global scientific research in the environmental sciences available online to tens of thousands of environmental scientists, researchers, and policy makers in the developing world for free or at nominal cost.

Through Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE), more than 200 prestigious publishers, societies and associations will offer one of the world’s largest collections of scholarly, peer-reviewed environmental science journals to over 1200 public and non-profit environmental institutions in more than 100 developing nations of Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe. Each and every institution enrolled in OARE will receive resources with an annual retail subscription value in the many hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Over 1000 scholarly scientific and technical journal titles...will be provided through a portal presented in English, Spanish and French. OARE will also provide important Abstract and Index Research Databases....

OARE aims to contribute to the development of expert professional and academic communities and an informed public, encourage scientific creativity and productivity, and facilitate the development of progressive science-based national policies. It will help enable countries to build their own higher education programs in the environmental sciences, educate their own leaders, conduct their own research, publish their own scientific findings, and disseminate information to policy makers and the public....

A complete listing of collaborating institutions is available at [the OARE web site].

Eligible institutions include universities and colleges, research institutes, ministries of the environment and other government agencies, libraries, and national NGOs. Access for institutions in the 70 poorest countries will be free. Access for institutions in 38 lower middle income countries will be at a nominal charge, which will be reinvested to support continued training and outreach activities in eligible countries....

Profile of HyperJournal

Michele Barbera and Francesca Di Donato, Weaving the Web of Science: HyperJournal and the impact of the Semantic Web on scientific publishing, in Bob Martens and Milena Dobrova (eds.), Proceedings ELPUB : International Conference on Electronic Publishing (10th : 2006 : Bansko), Bansko (Bulgaria), 2006, pp. 341-348.  Self-archived October 30, 2006.

Abstract:   In this paper we present HyperJournal, an Open Source web application for publishing on-line Open Access scholarly journals. In the first part (sections 1, 2 and 3) we briefly describe the project and the software. In sections 4 and 5, we discuss the weaknesses of the current publishing model and the benefits deriving from the adoption of Semantic Web technologies, outlining how the Semantic Web vision can help to overcome the inefficiencies of the current model. In the last two sections (6 and 7), we present two experimental applications, developed on top of HyperJournal, with the purpose of demonstrating how the technologies can affect the daily work of scholars. The first application is a tool for graphically visualizing the network of citations existing between articles and their authors, and for performing bibliometric measurements alternative to the ISI Impact Factor. The second is a tool for automatically extracting references from non-structured textual documents, which is part of a tool-chain for the extraction of hidden semantics.

An open access article on open data

Wikipedia now has an article on Open Data.  (Dive in and help expand it.) 

Peter Murray-Rust has blogged some notes on how it got off the ground.

Google Custom search and the OA repositories

Steve Hitchcock, Revamped Google service prompts new wave of repository search, Eprints Insiders, October 30, 2006.  Excerpt:

Google's Custom Search Engine has realised immediate results in the area of repository search services. Although not the first such service, and not even the first such service from Google, this one seems to have hit the mark where previous attempts to provide search that could be customised and directed to a specified range of repository sites ultimately proved unsatisfactory.

The sudden proliferation of these services will clearly put more pressure on formal national repository search services such as DAREnet and ARROW, and on OAI search services such as OAIster, Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE) and the new ScientificCommons. All of these would have known from the outset they would be operating in the shadow of Google, but through OAI have some claim to index the 'deep' Web unseen by popular services....

If Google could support a simple quality control "refereed material" tag then according to Les Carr we could get by without OAI and without repositories: "Well, it doesn't" Carr continued "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."

While Carr highlighted the need for improved metadata standards for repositories, other correspondents placed responsibility for improving services with the repositories and with Google. Andy Powell blogged the results of a rough-and-ready test of OpenDOAR search against native Google:

"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....[O]ur '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."

Peter Suber argued that Google will need to do more before OAI becomes redundant:  "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."

Creative Commons 3.0 licenses still evolving

Creative Commons has posted the latest drafts of its 3.0 licenses.

October Ariadne

The October issue of Ariadne is now online.  Here are the OA-related articles:

Update on OA in Poland

eIFL has posted a report on its Open Access Workshop (Poznan, September 21-22, 2006).  Excerpt:

Sponsored by eIFL and the Poznan Foundation of Scientific Libraries, newcomers learnt about the driving force behind open access; the work of academic authors cannot be seen by all their peers, researchers cannot access all the necessary literature and libraries cannot meet the information needs of their users. The global movement for change that has resulted from the dissatisfaction at all levels has garnered support from prestige funding institutions, legislators from the UK to the Ukraine and most recently, the introduction in the U.S. Senate of a draft bill requiring free online access for federally funded research results in peer-reviewed articles.

The scientific publication system has become a key issue for European research policy. One of the most startling findings of the European Commission funded study on the economic and technical evolution of the scientific publication markets in Europe, is that between 1975 and 1995 the price of print journals rose by 300% above the cost of inflation....

Two key projects related to open access and institutional repositories were featured during the one day event. Participants were treated to the first steps towards a pan-European digital repository infrastructure from the Warsaw University partner of the EU funded “Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for Europe” (DRIVER). The name of the new counterpart to the UK-based SHERPA/RoMEO service was revealed as none other than “Juliet”! Juliet is a database of funders’ open access mandate policies and it is hoped that it will expand to countries beyond the UK.

Finishing the day with a roundtable discussion on institutional repositories, and the role of librarians in their development, participants debated the critical issues for the successful implementation of a repository as well as the merits of institutional versus subject-based repositories....

Two concrete outcomes were reported. A handy tool provided by the Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR) to help repository administrators formulate and/or present their repository's policies is being translated into Polish. Jan Andrzej Nikisch, Poznan Foundation of Scientific Libraries reported “I have been invited by the Conference of Polish University Rectors to speak at their forthcoming conference in Wroclaw about open access, new models of scholarly publishing and institutional repositories....”

This workshop is part of a series of eIFL-sponsored open access workshops which have taken place in Serbia, Ukraine, Lithuania, China and Southern Africa under the eIFL Open Access program. Participants from Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique and Swaziland were represented at the South Africa event.

115 Blackwell journals in Online Open program

Blackwell has updated the list of journals participating in its hybrid journal program, Online Open.  The new list (an Excel spreadsheet, November 1, 2006) contains 115 titles.

More on the library closings at the EPA

Petra Bartosiewicz has an excellent article in the October 30 issue of Salon on the closing of the libraries at the US Environmental Protection Agency and how it will diminish research access by agency scientists, external scientists, and citizens.

Two journal editors assess OA

The presentations from the ARL's 149th Membership Meeting (San Diego, October 18-19, 2006) are now online.  Note especially the two presentations in Session III: Faculty Assessment of New Publishing Models.

  • Martin Osborne, speaking on Theoretical Economics and the State of Scholarly Publishing in Economics, concluded (1) that "Access to research [is] limited, even though the cost of providing such access to an additional person is virtually zero", (2) that "Open Access is efficient" and (3) that "Most established Society journals unlikely to convert to Open Access because of entrenched cost structures."
  • Scott MacDonald, speaking on Medieval Philosophy and Theology, cited four reasons for converting his journal to OA:  (1) "no subscription management", (2) "little copyrights management", (3) "best meets needs of everyone" and (4) "Duh!"

Monday, October 30, 2006

OA journals on e-learning

Jochen Robes has listed 20 open-access journals on e-learning, broadly conceived, and written (in German) a paragraph of comments on each one.  (Thanks to e-paed.)  I haven't checked to see how many are listed in the DOAJ.

More on DPubS

Brenda Chawner has blogged some notes on two presentations on DPubS, apparently at the LITA Forum 2006 (Nashville, October 26-29, 2006).  Excerpt:

This concurrent session covered the background, purpose, and evolution of the DPubS (Digital Publishing Systems) open source software project, based at Cornell University Library, as well as a case study based on Pennsylvania State University Libraries’ use of the package....

David Ruddy, from Cornell University Library’s Electronic Publishing Initiatives division, who has been involved with the project for a number of years, started by saying that the project had two main objectives:

  • to allow publishers to organise and deliver both open access and subscription controlled content; and
  • to give users the ability to navigate and access content....

The DPubS software began as a project in the Computer Science department, and was picked up the the Library in the late 1990s....The integration with an institutional repository means that the repository software can look after preservation and archiving, while DPubs focusses on presentation and access controls.

DPubS 2.0 was released in October 2006 on Sourceforge; it supports OAI 2.0, and can be used in combination with Fedora as an underlying repository.

Further plans include extending the editorial tools to support peer review, enabling it to work with dSpace as well as Fedora, enhancing the administration interfaces, documentation, and allowing contributions from the user community using the open source development model....

Mike Furlough, from Pennsylvania State University Libraries, then gave a user’s perspective on DPubS. Penn State has been a DPubS development partner, and their involvement has included testing alpha versions of the software, testing its integration with Fedora and dSpace, developing test cases for journal backfiles and conference proceedings, and refining and testing the editorial services.

At Penn State, the University Press is part of the University Libraries. The Office of Digital Scholarly Publishing wants to provide a scholar driven service, particularly for at risk literature. They hope to experiment with different business models; currently all of their content is available as open access, except for a print on demand facility....

OA astrobiology primer

The journal Astrobiology has released The Astrobiology Primer: An Outline of General Knowledge (version 1), October 29, 2006.  The 78 pp. PDF is open access.

"The whole damn point of publishing research in the first place..."

Bill Hooker, The Future of Science is Open, Part 1: Open Access, 3 Quarks Daily, October 30, 2006.  Excerpt:

I've never had an idea that couldn't be improved by sharing it with as many people as possible -- and I don't think anyone else has, either.  That's why I have become interested in the various "Open" movements making increasing inroads into the practice of modern science.  Here I will try to give a brief introduction to Open Access to research literature; in the second instalment I will look at ways in which the same concept of "openness" is being extended to encompass data as well as publications, and beyond that, what a fully Open practice of science might look like....

By analogy with Open Source, Open Access to the research literature entails the freedom to read, use and redistribute the published results of scholarly research and derivative works based on those publications.  What follows is a version of Peter Suber's very brief introduction to OA; for more details, see his full Open Access Overview and Timeline of the OA Movement.  The bottom line is this:

Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder....

[After summarizing OA journals and repositories]  A personal example...I have yet to publish any data here in the US, but I published a dozen or so articles while I was at the University of Queensland.  More than half of these are not freely available from the journals in which they were published (J Clin Virol, Virology, Biochim Biophys Acta, Mol Biochem Parasitol, Acta Tropica -- all Elsevier journals, pfui! -- and Rev Med Virol from Wiley InterScience).  I couldn't find any full-text copies online using Google Scholar or PubMed, either.  You cannot read these seven papers of mine without paying a fee (usually around $30) or physically going to a library which carries (and has therefore paid for) the journal and issue in question.  Neither can my professional colleagues, unless their institution happens to subscribe to the journal or some package which includes it; these subscription fees are commonly extortionate (Elsevier being a particularly egregious offender).

For you as a taxpayer, this means that you are denied access to information you've already paid for (since I've always been funded by government grants).  For me as a scientist, it means that more than half of my life's work to date is, while not useless, certainly of much less use to the world than it might be.  Given that a large part of why I do what I do is that I want to leave the world a better place than I found it, that is simply not acceptable to me.  Fortunately, according to RoMEO, all of the journals concerned allow postprint archiving by authors, so I might be able to rescue it....Why would I go to all this trouble?  Because OA offers significant benefits and advantages to a variety of stakeholders....

Benefits of Open Access

1. Maximal research efficiency.  The usual version of Linus' Law says that given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow -- meaning that with enough people co-operating on a development process, nearly every problem will be rapidly discovered and solved.   The same is clearly true of complex research problems. and OA provides a powerful framework for co-operation.  For instance, Brody et al. showed that, for articles in the high-energy physics section of arXiv (one of the oldest archives available for such study), the time between deposit and citation has been decreasing steadily since 1991, and dropped by about half between 1999 and 2003.   Alma Swan explains: "the research cycle in high energy physics is approaching maximum efficiency as a result of the early and free availability of articles that scientists in the field can use and build upon rapidly". 

Moreover, the machine readability of a properly formatted body of open access literature opens up immense new possibilities.  Paul Ginsparg, founder of arXiv, observes:

True open access permits any third party to aggregate and data mine the articles, themselves treated as computable objects, linkable and interoperable with associated databases. We are still just scratching the surface of what can be done with large and comprehensive full-text aggregations....

2. Maximal return on public investment.  Just as OA is, at least for now, primarily (though not exclusively) aimed at literature for which the authors are not paid any kind of royalty, so one obvious focus of attention is government-funded research.  Why should taxpayers pay twice, once to support the research and then again when the scientists they are funding need access to the literature?  More importantly, open access to a body of knowledge makes that knowledge more available and useful to researchers, physicians, manufacturers, inventors and others who make of it the various socially desirable outcomes, such as advances in health care, that government funding of research is intended to produce.  Peter Suber has gone over this intuitive position in some detail here.

3. Advantages for authors.  There are well over 20,000 scholarly journals, and even the best-funded libraries can afford subscriptions to only a fraction of them.  OA offers authors a virtually unlimited, worldwide audience: the only access barrier is internet access (which is, of course, cheaper to provide in poorer nations than comprehensive libraries of print journals would be!).  There is a large and steadily growing body of evidence showing that OA measurably increases citation indices (that is, the number of times other papers refer to a given article).  For instance, of the papers published in the Astrophysical Journal in 2003, 75% are also available in the OA arXiv database; the latter papers account for 90% of the citations to any 2003 Astrophysical Journal article, a 250% citation advantage for OA.  Repeating the exercise with other journals returns similar results.

Not only is this of vital importance to academics when it comes to applying for funding or competing for tenure, it's more or less the whole damn point of publishing research in the first place: so that other people can read and use it!

4. Advantages for publishers: the benefits that accrue to authors of OA works also work to the advantage of publishers: more widely read, used and cited articles translates to more submissions and a wider audience for advertising, paid editorials and other value-add schemes.

5. Advantages for administrators....

6. Scalability.  Peter Suber has pointed out that, because it reduces production, distribution, storage and access costs so dramatically, OA "accommodates growth on a gigantic scale and, best of all, supports more effective tools for searching, sorting, indexing, filtering, mining, and alerting --the tools for coping with information overload."  Online distribution is necessary but not sufficient for scalability, because subscribers to paid-access journals do not have unlimited budgets even if they are enormous institutional libraries.  For end users to keep pace with the explosive growth of available information, the cost of access has to be kept down to the cost of getting online....

False headline of the day

Here's a new one, thanks to a clueless editor at the PK Advisor:

Wikipedia to sell content

If you read the story, you'll see that Wikipedia might buy content and then give it away (a development blogged here on October 23). 

For other examples, see the false headlines I blogged on October 1.

India launches an OA education portal

The President of India has launched Sakshat, an OA portal for education.  From today's story in the Hindustan Times: 

A pilot scheme to boost education through a 'one stop education portal' Sakshat, was launched by President APJ Abdul Kalam in New Delhi on Monday....

Sakshat  programme should think of extending the system for providing world class vocational skills to youth for making them internationally competitive, Kalam told the gathering of academics and students....

Terming Sakshat  an impressive engine, the President said, this was of a scale not witnessed so far in India's internet evolution and for this to succeed, the people should get free bandwidth.

"What we are starting today by the HRD Ministry is an impressive engine with great potential to change the country and change the way education is imparted," he said, adding it was a mission worthy of India and Indian capabilities and prowess in information and communication technology....

Singh said the portal would be one of the important pillars of the National Mission on Education during the 11th Five Year plan. Lauding the project, Singh reiterated UPA government's commitment to ensure that no person was deprived of education on economic or social reasons.

OA to practitioner-oriented legal information

James G. Milles, Redefining Open Access for the Legal Information Market, Law Library Journal, Fall 2006.

Abstract:   Professor Milles argues that the open access movement in legal scholarship fails to address --and in fact diverts resources from-- the real problem facing law libraries today: the soaring costs of nonscholarly, commercially published, practitioner-oriented legal publications. He suggests that one solution to this problem is for law schools to redirect some of their resources --intellectual capital, reputation, and student labor-- to publishing legal information for practitioners rather than legal scholars.

Comment.  OA would benefit legal practitioners as well as legal scholars, and there are more legal practitioners than legal scholars.  Hence, OA initiatives for legal scholarship are addressing one problem rather than another, and may be addressing a smaller problem rather than a larger one.  But I see no reason to say that OA for practitioners is "the real problem", when OA for scholars is another real problem.  We should be able to recognize plural problems and encourage parallel processing to attack them all.  Moreover, there are good reasons to start with legal scholarship, since its authors willingly (even eagerly) publish it without expecting to be paid.  The kind of practitioner-oriented publications Milles is concerned about tend to pay royalties, which makes them higher-hanging fruit for the OA movement.  I applaud attempts to pluck that fruit.  But at the same time I want to give priority to OA for royalty-free rather than royalty-producing literature.

Comment on the draft OA mandate from CIHR

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) issued its draft OA mandate on October 10, and called for comments due on November 24.  Yesterday Heather Morrison posted her comment to her blog.  Excerpt:

As an open access advocate who follows policy developments and has participated in policy consultations around the world, I consider this policy to be exemplary, with elements that I hope will be a role model for future policy makers.

It is heartening to see that CIHR is requiring immediate deposit of peer-reviewed research articles funded by CIHR. In my opinion, the provision for up to a maximum 6-month publisher-imposed delay is more than generous. If I were to suggest one improvement to this policy, I would suggest not permitting any delay at all. This is reasonable given that the research is conducted using public funds, and there are many open access options – from publishing to archiving – available to researchers today.

The CIHR is a leader in requiring deposit of research data immediately on publication; an important step that will lead to more rapid advances in research.

CIHR’s suggestions that researchers consider retroactively archiving important articles, and that a researchers’ track record might be considered in future grant applications, are welcome innovations that other policy-makers might wish to consider in their own policy developments.

This policy will make the research made possible by Canadian taxpayer dollars more readily available to Canadians, as well as to everyone around the globe. Students and faculty members at smaller and more remote colleges will have more access to researchers, as will high school teachers and students, and professionals outside of the major research centres, among others.

Canadian researchers will benefit from increased impact and visibility....

PS:  Thanks,  Heather.  I hope other Canadians will submit comments before the due date and, if possible, post their comments online to help guide other commenters and build momentum.

Houston presentations

The presentations from the University of Houston symposium, Transforming Scholarly Communication (Houston, October 4, 2006), are now online.  (Thanks to Adrian Ho.)

German version of SHERPA database

Germany's Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) is funding a German version of the SHERPA/RoMEO database of publisher policies on self-archiving.  The site is maintained by the University of Stuttgart library and the office of Computer and Media Services at Humboldt University Berlin.  For more information, see the Stuttgart page on the new database.  (Thanks to medinfo.)

More on Citizendium

Barbara Quint, Citizendium: A Kinder, Truer Wikipedia? Information Today, October 30, 2006.  Excerpt:

They say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but over the last year, the venerable (in Internet time) Wikipedia online encyclopedia has faced an international furor over its reliability and accuracy. The collaborative processes used to create the service have been tweaked, but concerns still rumble through the Web. Now one of the co-founders of Wikipedia, Larry Sanger, has begun development of a competitive service, the Citizendium or “Citizen’s Compendium”. Sanger was one of the first and most authoritative voices to question the untrammeled openness of the Wikipedia procedures. While retaining his true believer status in support of the wiki model of public collaboration, Sanger intends to generate a new community ethos that defers to the authority of expert editors and requires contributors to use their own names, without the shield of anonymity. The main source for Citizendium content, however, will consist of Wikipedia itself as reviewed, edited, supplemented, and vetted by Citizendium. Original articles will also be part of the new service.

“Wikipedia has accomplished great things, but the world can do even better,” said Sanger, editor in chief of Citizendium. “By engaging expert editors, eliminating anonymous contribution, and launching a more mature community under a new charter, a much broader and more influential group of people and institutions will be able to improve upon Wikipedia’s extremely useful, but often uneven work. The result will be not only enormous and free, but reliable.”

Wikipedia and the new Citizendium operate under the GNU Free Documentation License rules, which means content can be shared relatively freely as long as all parties follow benign and courteous behavior --e.g., crediting the creators or issuers of the information for their work....

The structure of the new service involves three layers of participation: “[E]ditors will be the experts in their fields and [will] decide on content questions; authors or the rank and file contributors; and constables or community managers, who make decisions on behavioral matters.”...

 However, in the short time since its inception, Sanger said that they have already gathered “close to 400 applications and identified over 200 plausible editors. Between three quarters [and] two thirds of the people have Ph.D.’s...and come from very distinguished universities.” ...

As to the nitty-gritty issues of financial support, voluntarism seems the main basis. Citizendium receives in-kind donations of support and hardware from universities like Purdue and corporations like Steadfast Networks; grants from companies that want to use their content (though the companies could just use the GNU FDL rules to get it at no charge); sponsorship, with possible subtle credits similar to PBS announcements; individual donations; and a mysterious, “exciting and innovative” funding model “that will be revealed in good time.” The Citizendium Foundation has begun the application process for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status....

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Two more Bailey search engines

Charles Bailey has added Google Custom search engines to his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog and his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography.  He's also offering the code for all six of his Google search engines (all covering OA-related content) for those who might want to add search boxes to their own pages.

New OA journal on information literacy

Communications in Information Literacy is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal.  It has issued a call for papers for its its first issue in Spring 2007.  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)  The web site is still under development and I can't tell yet who will publish it or whether it will charge author-side fees.

The vision behind Citizendium

Larry Sanger has posted two essays articulating his vision for the Citizendium project, which he describes in the second essay below as "an expert-guided version of Wikipedia":