Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, November 11, 2006

CrossRef's new OAI-PMH interface

CrossRef has launched a new OAI-PMH interface.  From the announcement (November 8):

CrossRef, the reference linking network for scholarly publishing, announced today the release of an OAI-PMH (Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting) interface to its Web Services metadata distribution program. In addition, it announced that it had recently signed both Scirus and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) as new CWS partners.

CrossRef Web Services (CWS) is a suite of tools to enable authorized partners to collect metadata on a widespread, cross-publisher basis, potentially covering up to 23 million metadata records now included in CrossRef. CWS was developed earlier this year to standardize how published content is crawled, indexed, and linked to on the Web. Participation by CrossRef member publishers is optional.

CrossRef’s new OAI-PMH repository interface will serve as the central point for the distribution of metadata from participating publishers. The service utilizes a robust and widely adopted technology targeted at consumers of large quantities of metadata (for more information, see [the OAI web site]); access to the CrossRef’s metadata repository is controlled by IP authentication and can be tailored to provide specific content from select publishers to each authorized recipient.

In partnering with Scirus, Elsevier’s free, science-specific search engine, CrossRef will allow Scirus to collect metadata from hundreds of participating publishers in order to give researchers, academics, students, and librarians enhanced searchability over authoritative, scientific published content. According to Joris van Rossum, Head of Scirus  “This partnership, which allows us to take advantage of the new Web Services protocol, fits perfectly with Scirus’ ambition to be the most comprehensive and trustworthy search engine for scientific published content on the Web.” 

EMBL-EBI, a pioneering center for research and services in bioinformatics, intends to use the CrossRef metadata to systematically look up DOIs  for the purpose of displaying them alongside bibliographic references in its various databases and utilities, which aim to aid the scientific community in the understanding of genomic and proteomic data. 

Comment.  This is a rare but permissible mix of OAI interoperability and IP access control. CrossRef will harvest metadata that publishers are not making accessible to other harvesters.  But then it will hold the metadata in an OAI-compliant repository accessible only to approved participants. Do not expect the CrossRef-collected metadata be harvestable by other OAI service providers like OAIster and ScientificCommons. (Thanks to Klaus Graf for an email that helped me revise my original comment.)

More on the economic impact of OA

Lack of access to knowledge main obstacle to innovation, finds Portuguese survey, CORDIS News, November 10, 2006.  Excerpt:

Some 40% of businesses in Portugal are innovators, according to findings from the fourth Community Innovation Survey (CIS 4). This figure could be increased, businesses say, if more information on technology, markets, and potential partners were readily available to them.

OA to publicly-funded research as a universal human right

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) has revised its Internet Rights Charter (also available in PDF).  Theme 3, on Access to Knowledge, has three parts:

3.1 The right to access to knowledge Wide-spread access to knowledge and a healthy knowledge commons form the basis for sustainable human development. Because the internet enables knowledge-sharing and collaborative knowledge-creation to a previously unprecedented degree, it should be a focus for the development community.

3.2 The right to freedom of information National and local government, and publicly-funded international organisations, must ensure transparency and accountability by placing publicly relevant information that they produce and manage in the public domain. They should ensure that this information is disseminated online using compatible and open formats and is accessible to people using older computers and slow internet connections.

3.3 The right to access to publicly-funded information All information, including scientific and social research, that is produced with the support of public funds should be freely available to all.

APC intends Theme 3 to spell out Article 27 (which it cites as Article 26) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, asserting that "Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits." 

Some milestones (OA and TA)

Milestones:  OAIster Database Approaches 1,000,000 Records, ResourceShelf, November 11, 2006.  Excerpt:

We just noticed that OAIster from the University of Michigan is quickly approaching 1 million entries....

The next update comes in a few days but as of now it’s home to 9,771,738 records from 701 institutions. Here’s a list of those institutions.

Congrats to the entire OAIster Team

Btw, CiteSeer is still going strong now with more than 700,000 entries, searchable citations, and searchable acknowledgements.

See Also: The Milestones Will Continue As Elsevier’s ScienceDirect Service Will Serve Its 1 Billionth Article Download Next Week. This site offers lots of stats including the Top25 Hottest Articles.

See Also: Database: New: Search through the OpenDOAR for repository content

See Also: InfoTrac OneFile Now Home to More than 60 million entries and HighWire Press Gets Very Close to 1.5 million Free Full Text Entries.

OA archives and archiving in Turkey

Emre Hasan Akbayrak and five co-authors, Institutional Repository Movement in Turkey, in Proceedings Open Scholarship 2006: New Challenges for Open Access Repositories, Glasgow, 2006. 

ANKOS (The Anatolian University Libraries Consortium) established Open Access and the Institutional Repositories Working Group (OAIRWG) in order to raise awareness on Open Access (OA) and Institutional Repositories (IRs) among information professionals in Turkey.  Ankara University is one of the first open access initiatives in Turkey. It has been involved in ANKOS since 2001, expressing a strong interest from the beginning. Over seven hundred and fifty scientific papers produced by faculty members have been self-archived [in the Ankara University IR] and made accessible since the beginning of 2006. The “Hacettepe University Electronic Theses Project” has been carried to make the full-texts of graduate theses and dissertations accessible through the Internet. The Middle East Technical University Electronic Theses and Dissertations project was started to provide web access to theses and dissertations that have been completed at the Middle East Technical University (METU) since April 2003. In September 2003, the METU Library Theses and Dissertations Archive was established and since that time students have been submitting their theses in both print and PDF. On the poster, the activities of ANKOS OAIRWG will be summarized and three examples of open archive initiatives in Turkey will be presented: Ankara and Hacettepe Universities’ Institutional Repositories and Middle East Technical University’s E-Theses Archive.

Working for OA to anthropological research

Rex, Please sign the Open Access Anthropology Letter, Savage Minds, November 10, 2006.  Excerpt:

(here is the official invitation to the OAA event at the AAA. If you agree with this letter, please sign it by clicking “edit” on the link and adding your true name in alphabetical order)

Scholarly societies are in crisis, and the AAA [American Anthropological Association] is among them. Dwindling revenues from sales of AAA Journals are among the causes, and if we don’t staunch the bleeding now, we are warned, there will be nothing left to give.

How has the AAA gotten to a point where its solvency seems to be based solely on the sales of our scholarly work? Work that has already been paid for by public and private granting agencies which we pay registration fees to present at conferences organized by the scholarly society we pay membership fees to join? Why must we also charge our readers?

Recently, the AAA publicly voiced its opposition to Federal Legislation that would require federally funded research to be freely available to the people who paid for it: citizens. This public opposition is clearly not in the interest of AAA members —and the AnthroSource Steering Committee has publicly said as much, proposing a range of initiatives to make our collective work more accessible. For this criticism, the ASSC was dissolved.

Clearly, something needs to change.

1) we need a solid open access policy to make anthropological research widely available;

2) we need a more transparent financial arrangement between the association and its members;

3) we need a form of financial sustainability that does not compromise our ability to disseminate our research.

We invite the sections and their members to start thinking creatively about the solution to these problems....

There will be an informal meeting to discuss Open Access on Saturday the 18th at noon at Gordon Biersch, 33 E. Santa Clara Street (between First and Second).

In the mean time, there are various ways you can be involved. Learn about the issue by visiting [the Open Access Anthropology wiki]. 

There is also an Open Access email list that you can join if you want to talk about these issues, or if you simply want to hear what other people are saying....

Mandating OA department by department

Arthur Sale, The Patchwork Mandate, a working paper, self-archived November 11, 2006.  Excerpt:

This document is written mainly for repository managers who are at a loss at what policies they (or their universities or research institutions) ought to deploy. I make no bones about stating that there are only two pure policies: [1] requiring (mandating) researchers to deposit, and [2] voluntary (spontaneous) participation.

The obvious and no-risk solution is for the institution to require researchers to deposit their publications in the institutional repository. There is ample evidence that this is acceptable to over 95% of researchers, both in pre-implementation surveys and in post-implementation evidence. One Australian university is leading the world in collecting 70% of its annual research output and the fraction is rising....

An institutional-wide requirement to deposit in the IR is the logical and inevitable end-point. In fact it is exactly what is needed. Once such a policy is in place the IR manager’s approaches to researchers and heads of centers and all the plethora of feel-good activities actually work. People who are required to deposit their publications are grateful for advice. The occasional chase-up call is not resented. Just about everything that the university can put in place (for example publicity for deposits, awards for the best author or paper, assistance with self-archiving, download statistics, etc) will begin to work as it resonates with every academic in fulfilling their duty.

A mandatory policy will approach a capture rate of 100% of current research publications, but over a couple of years. Figures of 60-90% can be expected in a short time. See [this] for some data on how mandates actually work....

In the absence of mandates, every encouragement policy known to Man fails to convince more than 15% to 20% of researchers to invest the 5 minutes of time needed to deposit their publications. The percentage does not grow with time....This is a global experience....

So, many repository managers find themselves between a rock and a hard place. They can't convince the senior executives to bring in a mandate, and they know that voluntary deposition does not work. Fortunately there may be a middle way or even a transitional way ahead. I call it the patchwork mandate....So what is the patchwork mandate? Simply this:...Since you can't get an institutional mandate, you work towards getting departmental (school/faculty) mandates one by one. Each departmental mandate will rapidly trend towards 100% and needs little activism to maintain this level....

I think that the patchwork mandate strategy will probably work. We are trialing it in Australia. It won't achieve 100% content instantly, but it is a clear way to work towards that. You can even explain it to your senior executives and they probably won't stop you. They may even encourage you to try it.

Just remember that voluntary persuasion of individuals is known not to work beyond a pitiful participation level. Self-archiving needs to be made part of the routine academic duty, and this requires a policy endorsement by someone.

Comment.  In the full paper, Arthur not only gives reasons to try it out, but practical implementation advice.  I recommend the strategy and can add two reasons to think that it will work:  Faculty are more amenable to persuasion from other faculty than from administrators or librarians, and examples are more persuasive than arguments.  The best way to make the case for a strong OA archiving policy is the natural, viral appeal of a successful example. 

Update. Also see Mike Carroll's supportive comments.

New OA journal of archaeology

Rosetta: Papers of the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity is new peer-reviewed, open-access journal published by the University of Birmingham.  From Helen Goodchild's editorial in the inaugural issue (Autumn 2006): 

The decision to publish in electronic rather than printed form seemed obvious. Initially, this allows us to reach a wider audience, way beyond traditional printed journals. The flexibility of the medium for display also allows us to publish almost anything: from traditional plans and photographs to GIS or movie files with no impact on cost.  This leads directly to the third benefit. Rosetta is run entirely by a team of Birmingham postgraduates with limited (i.e. no) funds.  Hosting by the University provides a permanent electronic archive of postgraduate and professional research and endeavour at Birmingham. The success of journals including Assemblage at Sheffield, now running for eight years and counting, provided us with models from which to develop.  However, as Assemblage is primarily (although not exclusively) an archaeological journal we felt there was a niche that a diverse academic grouping, like that at Birmingham, might fill.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Why Google blocks access to public domain books outside the US

If you remember, Google blocks access to Google-scanned public-domain books outside the US.  Finally we have Google's explanation:

Only books in the public domain -- books no longer under copyright -- have the download feature available. For users in the United States, this typically means books published before 1923. For users outside the U.S., we make determinations based on appropriate local laws. Since whether a book is in the public domain can often be a tricky legal question, we err on the side of caution and display at most a few snippets until we have determined that the book has entered the public domain. These books...may be in the public domain, but until we can be sure, we show them as if they are not.

We're working quickly to digitize and index as many books as possible so we can make Google Book Search truly comprehensive and useful. One way to treat digitized books that may be in the public domain would be to exclude them from the index until we were sure. However, our goal is to make the index as useful as possible, and that means including books as soon as we can rather than waiting for a perfect determination of public domain status. So, some books may initially show up in "Snippet View" and then later, be expanded to "Full View."

Comment.  In most countries on Earth the duration of copyrights is the same as in the US.  So why isn't it easy for Google to provide access to all of those countries as soon as it decides to provide access to the US? 

At least Google admits that these books "may be in the public domain" and that it's temporarily treating them "as if they are not".  That is, it hasn't wrongly classified them, but only delayed classifying them.  Still, in most cases, it's hard to understand why any delay is necessary.

Update. Klaus Graf, who first drew this problem to my attention, is equally skeptical of Google's explanation.

Commons of Science presentations

The presentations --both slides and audio-- from the Commons of Science Conference (Washington, D.C., October 3-4, 2006) are now online.  (Thanks to the INIST Libre Accès blog.)

Presentations on public-domain govt publications

The presentations from the workshop, Copyright and Marking Government Works: Why Keep the Public Guessing? (Washington, November 2, 2006), are now online.

Launch of PubDrug

Stewart Brower has launched the PubDrug wiki, as he said he would last week.  From his blog post announcing the launch: 

For the last several years, I've watched as the cost of drug resources has continued to escalate, reaching a point where even large-scale institutions like the University at Buffalo really cannot afford the licensing for the kinds of resources we need for our educational, clinical and research initiatives.

Yesterday, I conducted a public forum to announce the creation of, an open access drug resource I hope to develop which would serve as an alternative to other high-dollar drug information sources. As I explained to the attendees, this is only the bare-bones beginning of PubDrug -- We will need to attract the interest of many others for this effort to be a success.

If you see the potential need for something like PubDrug, I would encourage you to take a moment to download my slides and read them over. I see roles for editors, contributors, and developers, and I'm sure there are many more roles I'm not thinking of.

I believe our three most immediate tasks to be:

  • Developing a robust template for drug monographs
  • Creating policies and procedures to guide site development without interfering with the viral nature of wiki-building
  • Recruiting lots of people to assist in building this resource
Again, I'm sure there's a lot I'm not thinking of. If you think this effort has merit, please contact me and let me know if you will be able to help....

Evaluation of DSpace

Stevan Chabot, The DSpace Digital Repository: A Project Analysis, Subject/Object, November 9, 2006.  Excerpt:

...[T]here are some problems with DSpace. In the first place, the software is open source. While this does come with its own benefits, it also comes with its own problems. Commercial support for the software does not exist at this time, neither for installation nor for later technical issues. Libraries used to working with commercial software or ILS vendors may find implementation difficult. Furthermore, some who have previously implemented the software have had problems with performance while updating files and with the structure of the communities...

The major difficulty we have found is with DSpace’s handling of metadata. While we feel that the number of fields in Dublin Core is adequate for most if not all uses (DCMI Usage Board 2006), we are troubled by the lack of authority control when completing its fields....

Despite this fault, we do find that DSpace has many positive aspects. We find it to be an amazingly flexible and robust system which would be ready to handle almost any university’s needs right out of the box. It has the flexibility to handle all types of documents and methods of research, as well as the simplicity to encourage non-technical users towards the Open Access (OA) of scholarly research. We also feel that, given Smith’s intentions as cited above, the system would be an ready for a university to experiment in self-publishing even a part of its faculty’s research. Furthermore, while open source can have its drawbacks, it has some definite benefits. The software itself is customizable from the ground up....

It is the goal of the developer’s of DSpace to make the collection, preservation, indexing and distribution of digital research objects simple (Smith, 2003), to the extent that it encourages researches to self-archive their own work. Despite a few drawbacks that we have noted, particularly with the lack of control over metadata, DSpace is an excellent digital repository system supported by an active community of both users and developers. Given DSpace’s flexibility to archive any type of digital object and deal with any model of research within a department or other research community, it is a highly recommended system which can only improve with further development. This flexibility is increased by the fact that DSpace is open source....

Google Custom search of OA journals

Luke Rosenberger, Custom Search Engines via Google Co-op, lbr, November 9, 2006.  Excerpt:

I've previously discussed the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) on this blog.  DOAJ is truly an incredibly valuable collection of resources....But it's hard to browse that fantastic directory without wishing for a magic search box that could perform a search across that entire collection.  DOAJ has actually started down that road on their own -- of the 2459 journals in the directory today, 721 can be searched at the article level using the Find Articles tool on the DOAJ site.

But with the advent of CSE [Google Custom Search Engines], it seemed to me that we might be able to create that "magic search box" another way.  So I went to the DOAJ site and grabbed the journal metadata in CSV format as described in the FAQ (note that it's licensed CC-BY-SA-1.0).  Then with a few Excel hacks, I was able to parse out a list of 1604 domains from that list that hosted English-language DOAJ journals.  I carved out the domain names, added a slash and asterisk at the end to indicate I wanted everything in that domain, and dropped them in the batch upload box for CSE.  And just like that -- we have what you might call an early prototype of a "magic search box" for English-language DOAJ journals....

Pretty cool, no?  Now, of course, this needs a lot of fine-tuning, which I have already started.  The domain-level addresses I used are too broad.  In one case, there was actually a journal hosted on , so I was initially pulling in everything from that domain -- of course, I fixed that quick.  In a lot of cases, journals are hosted on their university publishers' domains, so I'm pulling in all content from that university's site right now.  Fortunately, Google Co-op CSE offers some pretty cool capabilities to focus your search on certain pages or portions of a site....

It may take a little time to work through 1604 domains to check or fine-tune them all, but the nice thing about CSE is that it's part of Co-op, which is designed for collaborative projects.  So if you'd like to help fine-tune the DOAJ CSE, please let me know at lukethelibrarian at gmail dot com and I can send you an invitation to join the crew.

Once that's starting to shape up, I'll work up a CSE that will cover DOAJ's Spanish-language journals.  Then, after that... who knows? ...

Measuring OA's progress in different fields

Stevan Harnad, Proportion Open Access in Biomedical Sciences, Open Access Archivangelism, November 9, 2006.  Excerpt:

Comments on:

Matsubayashi, Mamiko and Kurata, Keiko and Sakai, Yukiko and Morioka, Tomoko and Kato, Shinya and Mine, Shinji and Ueda, Shuichi (2006) Current Status of Open Access in Biomedical Field - the Comparison of Countries Related to the Impact of National Policies. 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Austin, Texas.

This study randomly sampled 4756 biomedical articles published between January and September in 2005 and indexed in PubMed, hand-checking how many of them were OA, and if so how: via OA journal (gold) or self-archiving (green, via IRs or websites). Its findings: ...

The authors note that their 25% OA estimate in biomedical sciences in 2005 is higher than Hajjem et al's s estimate of 15% OA in biology and 6% OA in health (but Hajjem et al's sample was for 1992-2003, based only on articles indexed by Thompson ISI, and explicitly excluded articles published in OA journals, hence the relevant comparison figure is the present study's 10.9% for self-archiving).

The authors also note that their estimate of 10.9% self-archiving is lower than Swan's estimate of 49% (but Swan's sample was for all disciplines, and the 49% referred only to the proportion of respondents who had self-archived at least one article)....

Several studies -- from Lawrence 2001 to Hajjem et al 2005 -- have reported that there is a positive correlation between citation-bracket and OA (the higher the citations, the more likely the article is OA), and there is disagreement over how much of this effect is a causal Quality Advantage (OA causing higher citations for higher quality articles) or a self-selection Quality Bias (authors of higher quality articles being more likely to make them OA, one way or the other). The present results don't resolve this, as they go both ways.

Clearly, more studies are needed. But even more than that, more OA is needed!

Consulting accessible literature to aid medical diagnoses

Google 'aids doctors' diagnoses, BBC News, November 10, 2006.  Excerpt:

A team of Australian doctors Googled the symptoms of 26 cases for a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.  In 15 cases, the web search came up with the right diagnosis, the paper published on the British Medical Journal website reports.

The authors say Google can be a "useful aid", but UK experts said the internet was "no replacement" for doctors....

[W]hile doctors carry a huge amount of medical information in their heads, they may need to seek further help if they come up against an unusual case.

In each of the 26 cases studied, researchers based at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane selected three to five search terms from each case and did a Google search without knowing the correct diagnoses. They then recorded the three diagnoses that were ranked most prominently and selected the one which seemed most relevant to the signs. The doctors then compared the results with the correct diagnoses as published in the journal.  Google searches found the correct diagnosis in just over half of the cases....

But they said a successful search needed a "human expert" user, and therefore patients would have less success trying to diagnose themselves on the internet....

"Useful information on even the rarest medical syndromes can now be found and digested within a matter of minutes.  Our study suggests that in difficult diagnostic cases, it is often useful to google for a diagnosis." ...

Comment.  Jan Velterop sent me this story with the comment that it could be seen as an argument for OA.  He's right.  Of course Google won't replace doctors and will help expert users more than inexpert users (qualifications clearly laid out in the BMJ article and this BBC summary).  But it's just as clear that removing access barriers to research literature will help practicing physicians in their practice.  This study was done with Google, which covers a good deal of research literature and a good deal of crap.  Imagine cutting the crap and doing the same study on PubMed Central.  Imagine doing the same study in the hypothetical future when 100% of the peer-reviewed medical research literature is OA and we can build search engines to cover all and only that literature.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

More on how OA archiving affects journal subscriptions

Chris Beckett and Simon Inger, Self-Archiving and Journal Subscriptions: Co-existence or Competition? An international Survey of Librarians’ Preferences, Publishing Research Consortium, October 26, 2006 (but released November 9, 2006).  Excerpt:

A major study of librarian purchasing preferences has shown that librarians will show a strong inclination towards the acquisition of Open Access (OA) materials as they discover that more and more learned material has become available in institutional repositories. The study, which took the form of conjoint and attitudinal surveys, shows that librarians are very sensitive to quality, content cost, the version of the content and how immediately the content is made available.

Overall the survey shows that a significant number of librarians are likely to substitute OA materials for subscribed resources, given certain levels of reliability, peer review and currency of the information available. This last factor is a critical one – resources become much less favoured if they are embargoed for a significant length of time....

The survey tested librarians’ preferences for a series of hypothetical and unnamed products frequently showing unfamiliar combinations of attributes – such as a fully priced journal embargoed for 24 months, or content at 25% of the price but through an unreliable service. By taking this approach, the survey measured librarians’ preferences for an abstract set of potential products thus avoiding any pre-conceived preferences for named products, such as journals, licensed fulltext (aggregated) databases or content on OA repositories.

The data were abstracted into a ‘Share of Preference’ model (or simulator) which has then been used to model real-life products and thus create predictions for librarians’ real-life preferences for these products. It is therefore possible to go beyond the comparisons, in this work, of journals versus OA and to model other preferences, such as between OA and licensed full-text databases.

The key attributes identified in this study, apart for the universal requirement for content quality, were what version of the content (author’s preprint etc) is made available and how up-to-date content is (the embargo period) . Specifically: 

  1. There is a strong preference for content that has undergone peer review. Preference is greatly affected by whether or not an article has undergone the refereeing process; authors’ unrefereed original manuscripts were seen as a poor substitute for any postrefereed version of an article. Librarians showed an insignificant shift in preference between any version of an article once it had been refereed, irrespective of the inclusion of editorial changes such as copy editing. Figure 1...shows that the change in the librarian’s preference for the subscribed journal over the same content in an OA archive is greatest, in favour of the subscribed journal when the only version of the content available in the OA archive is the author’s submitted manuscript. 
  2. How soon content is made available is a key determinant of content model preference in librarian’s acquisition behaviour; delay in availability reduces the attractiveness of a product offering. The survey tested the effect of embargoes on OA and licensed database content set at 6, 12 and 24 months; a significant impact on librarians’ preference for OA, and licensed database, content was seen when embargoes were set to 12 and 24 month. A 6-month embargo has little impact. Figure 2, below, shows the share of preference for degrees of embargoed and non-embargoed content in an institutional repository versus paid-for journal articles, assuming 100% of content is available in the archive. Only when the embargo is extended to 24 months in this model, does the final published article obtain a greater than 50% share of preference. 
  3. Lastly and perhaps unsuprisingly librarians show a strong preference for content that is made freely available, all other factors being equal. Even as librarians were asked to trade off price considerations against other factors such as the version of the content and the immediacy of its availability, there remained a significant pull towards free content or content whose cost had been greatly reduced.

OA bridging the North-South divide

Marlon, Domingus, Research Unleashed?  A presentation at the CODESRIA-ASC Conference Series 2006: Electronic Publishing and Dissemination (Leiden, September 7, 2006).  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)  Excerpt:

The international open access movement has reached a new level. In open access stage 1 we see a focus on technical issues related to open access and on gaining content for repositories. The words “open access” are important drivers in this stage. In stage 1, as Alma Swan [2006] points out, we see new technologies applied to existing processes (i.e. more of the same, faster and cheaper).

In stage 2 new technologies are integrated into existing processes (i.e. improve existing systems).[Swan, 2006] In stage 2 we see a focus on services based on repositories and the words “open access” have become less effective. Stage 2, I claim, is all about supporting scholarly communication and using technical infrastructure to be more efficient....

Connecting Africa is a hub for the Africanist community around the world. The open access available publications it provides access to are downloaded dosens of times a month individually. As such it is to be expected to facilitate scholarly communication in African Studies and, to my mind, is an example of open access stage 2.

The South- North divide as seen in the case of SciELO indicates that open access indeed does have an impact on usage of and citations to the oa publications. Also in the North-South perspective the same effects are to be found. Based on these examples one could hold that open access is a means to bridging the divide between North and South. It needs allies like Google and key research tools that make publications visible and available. Whether visibility and availability will diminish the Matthew effect remains to be seen.

OA for Indian agricultural research

ICRISAT and partners launch initiative on open access information on agricultural research, a press release from ICRISAT, November 8, 2006.  Excerpt:

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, has launched an initiative to promote open access information sources in agricultural sciences and technology in India.

The initiative was launched at the First AGRIS workshop on open access in agricultural sciences and technology: Indian initiatives organized at ICRISAT headquarters at Patancheru on 6 and 7 November.

The workshop brought together library and documentation specialists from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutes, state agricultural research universities. There were also representatives from specialized institutions such as the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) at Bangalore, and the National Informatics Center (NIC).

Launching the first phase, the participants of the workshop decided to suggest the establishment of the two pilot open access information repositories in the agricultural domain within the first year. One would be in Delhi with support from ICAR, and the other in Hyderabad with support from ICRISAT and MANAGE....

Development of new metadata...standards to share information coupled with open source software now in use can ensure open access for users worldwide.

The new open access agriculture information will enable agricultural scientists to obtain information through the Internet that are more searchable, more value added information such as who is the writer, citation and source credibility.

OA helping librarians, librarians helping OA

Edwin V. Sperr, Jr., Libraries and the future of scholarly communication, Molecular Cancer, November 7, 2006. 

Abstract:   Changes in the structure of commercial scholarly publishing have led to spiraling subscription prices. This has resulted in a "serials crisis" that has eroded library budgets and threatened the system of scientific communication. Open access represents one possible solution, and librarians are working to help make it a reality.

UN agency makes OP books into Wikibooks

APDIP Donates 15 e-Primers to Wikibooks, a press release from the UNDP's Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme (APDIP).  Excerpt:

APDIP realizes how fast a published book gets out-of-date, especially in the fast-moving field of information and communications technology for development (ICT4D). APDIP has therefore donated 15 of its e-Primers to Wikibooks for free use and update....

Wikibooks is our chosen platform because it facilitates collaboration. Every day, volunteers are improving Wikibooks, making many changes, writing, updating, and correcting books. Wikibooks maintains quality control and has policies and guidelines that users need to follow. Wikibooks are also available for all to freely distribute and reproduce as covered by the GNU Free Documentation License.

We would like to invite you to visit the Wikibooks and contribute your knowledge and experiences in the relevant ICT4D topics. Forthcoming APDIP e-Primers on network infrastructure and security, open content and other topics will all automatically be donated to Wikibooks.

The original published e-Primers will remain in [the APDIP eLibrary] (and, in the case of the e-Primers on FOSS, at [the IOSN library]), and the version in Wikibook will be linked to these. This way any user will be able to see the original version alongside the (modified) Wikibook version....

See the full announcement for the list of 15 books and their links.

Comment. Kudos to the APDIP.  Whenever possible, out-of-print books should become OA.  When they're software primers, or other books that require updating to remain useful, they should become OA and user-modifiable, like Wikibooks.  When they're funded by public money, like these, the decision is even easier.

The future of public mapping data in the UK

Michael Cross, Survey subsidies wiped off the map, The Guardian, November 9, 2006.  Excerpt:

In a remarkable failure of joined-up policymaking, the government has killed off almost all central subsidies for mapmaking. A terse statement from the Department for Communities and Local Government announced that next month it will stop paying Ordnance Survey to survey "uneconomic" parts of Britain such as mountains and moorlands....The agency warns that the subsidy's withdrawal "will have an impact on the currency and content of the rural geography in our products"....Since 1999, Ordnance Survey has received £93.5m through the national interest mapping services agreement, known as Nimsa....

Following last week's announcement, funding will cease entirely in December. A statement by Baroness Andrews, one of the two ministers with responsibility for Ordnance Survey, said that from now on it would be up to public bodies needing geographical data to procure it directly....

In the short term, the ending of Nimsa is bad news for Technology Guardian's Free Our Data campaign, which argues that data held by bodies such as Ordnance Survey be made freely available for individuals and commercial entities to exploit. This model would require data collection to be funded centrally.

Ending subsidies to Ordnance Survey raises another possibility: that a future government might consider outright privatisation - an option considered and rejected in the 1990s. This would be a disaster for free data. [Robert Barr, an expert in geographical information at Manchester University] suggests an alternative approach: splitting the organisation into two. One division would operate a national geospatial database, funded by the taxpayer and made available to all, while the other would compete freely in the marketplace for maps and other "value added" products.

Another model could be Canada's Geobase project, where since 2001, mapping agencies at different levels of government - federal, provincial and municipal - have agreed to share and make available geospatial data under so-called "copyleft" royalty-free licences. The database, available at the Geobase portal, includes administrative boundaries and height data, which have both been subjects of anguished controversy in Britain....

Access to scientific data

Christina Pikas has blogged some notes on the Access to Scientific Data session at the ASIS&T Annual Meeting (Austin, November 3-9, 2006). 

Print editions as revenue sources for OA journals

Starting in January 2007, Springer will publish print editions of 10 journals from the Indian Academy of Sciences (IAS), for distribution outside India.  For details see the October 2 press release  or the November 6 story in IWR.

Comment.  As far as I know, all the IAS journals are OA.  Hence, Springer must see some revenue possibilities in charging for print editions of OA journals.  That's not surprising, but if Springer could confirm it, then it would help answer the most common objection from the publishing lobby against national OA archiving policies --that the policies will undermine subscriptions.  Moreover, if Springer sees revenue in this deal, I suppose it will share it with the IAS.  If so, then large or small, the additional revenue will be additional support for the IAS OA publishing program.  How many other no-print OA journals could strike similar deals for revenue-generating print editions?  We won't know until we see many more try.

Rooting for labor against management at the AAA

Dorothea Salo, Rah-rah OAA! Caveat Lector, November 8, 2006.  Excerpt:

I knew about the uproar in the American Anthropological Association over FRPAA, of course....The online-publishing arm [AnthroSource, disbanded by the AAA for supporting FRPAA] isn’t taking this lying down. Oh, no. There’s an energetic blog. There’s a wiki. There’s T-shirts. There’s talk of a session on open access at the AAA’s national conference --now that’s cojones for you.

I love these folks. They rock. They are my shiny new heroes. I could almost join ALA again just to pull stunts like this. (Almost.) The problem with open access is that we don’t have a glitzy swanky award ceremony to invite these people to and give them little statues.

I’m working on my presentation for this ... and I’ve already stashed AAA in there (along with Stephen Breckler of the APA) as examples of how you! too! can shoot your society in the collective foot by trying to protect your journal revenue at whatever cost to your society’s membership and its public image....My money’s on the OAA against the AAA, all the way. Go heroes go!

Educating authors to streamline OA archiving

Dorothea Salo, Feedback, Caveat Lector, November 8, 2006.  Excerpt:

Clearing rights on this pile of papers [to deposit in the institutional repository] is no joke. What should I do with a 20-year-old article in a journal that no longer exists from a publisher that’s been sold two or three times? ...

I’m erring on the side of inclusion and access, with an immediate-withdraw-on-controversy policy (which has saved my bacon before, though not in any copyright disputes) to back me up....

Sure, they’re just-as-illegally up in plain sight on the author’s own piece of the university web, but publishers who tread lightly around their authors won’t hesitate to come down like a ton of bricks on me. Just ask your local e-reserves librarian.

I intend to treat this as a teachable moment, and I strongly recommend that other repository managers do likewise. I’m keeping track of items I can’t use and why I can’t use them. The list will go back to the author when I’m finally done with this pile....

I shall also mention that some of the items I have to reject because they are publisher PDFs can be archived in final-draft form.  SHERPA/ROMEO will figure in this statement. And of course I shall offer to look at future publishing agreements with or for him, to keep this problem from occurring in future. We’ll see what happens.

Most faculty do not understand how scholarly publishing works, nor do they realize how what they sign affects what they and others can legally do with their work....Triply do they not realize the control they have over the situation. Those few faculty who do understand all this are mostly scholarly-society brass who tell their colleagues to sign the nice agreement, no, you don’t need to read it!

Despite the extra paperwork and faculty ire involved, repository managers need to acquaint faculty with how much of their work is disappearing into the toll-access abyss, and what they can do about it....Moreover, any repository whose policy on copyright violations does not include mediating between publisher and author is missing a trick. Don’t just “disappear” material that shouldn’t have been posted. Make sure the author knows what happened and why. We have to educate. And we have to educate at pain-points, or nothing will change.

The current status of OA

Mamiko Matsubayashi and six co-authors, Current Status of Open Access in Biomedical Field-the Comparison of Countries Related to the Impact of National Policies, a presentation at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (Austin, November 3-8, 2006).

This [slide presentation]...reports the current status of Open Access (OA) in the biomedical field, and compares some countries such as the U.S., the U.K. and Japan in terms of the OA situation. There are controversies about the definition of OA. After examining the requirements about OA, we recognized OA as the situation in which researchers could read the full text of articles in unrestricted way. In order to investigate the current situation of OA, 4,756 articles were sampled randomly from articles published between January and September in 2005 and indexed in PubMed. The main results are as follows: 1) The rate of OA articles was 25%, and 75% of all the articles were available online including electronic subscription journal articles. 2) The means of OA was classified into five types. Among them, the rate of OA articles by “OA and Hybrid OA journals” was overwhelming (more than 70%), and that of PMC was 26.2%. The rates of OA articles by “institutional repositories” and “authors’ personal sites” were considerably low (6.0% and 4.9% respectively). 3) When comparing the rates of OA articles by countries, Belgium ranked the first with 41.7%. The five countries indicated more than 30% in OA articles: Canada and India (38.7%), Brazil (36.4%), Australia (30.8%), and the U.S. (30.7%). Each country was different in the means of OA. 4) We explored the rates of OA for two groups; one group consists of articles published in journals with IF, and the other consists of articles published in journals without IF. The rate of OA for the group of articles in journals with IF is 20.6%, and that of articles in journals without IF is 30.8%

Medknow's no-fee OA journals

D.K. Sahu, Open access journals in agricultural science: adopting 'fee-less-free' model of Medknow, a presentation at the First Workshop on Open Access in Agricultural Science and Technology: Indian Initiatives (Hyderabad, November 6-7, 2006).

Abstract:   Most ‘international’ journals are not international in terms of their content, readership and composition of the editorial boards. Hence, local journals are important to provide local knowledge / local evidence and help in policy making. For a local journal to be successful, it needs quality papers, time of editors and reviewers, finances and readers. Most journals from the developing countries face problems due to lack of time from their part time editors who have more than one job at hand. The journal offices keep changing with the change of editors and loose the contacts with the authors, subscribers and advertisers. In addition, most of these journals have limited visibility outside the print circulation restricted to the members their association. Open access offers help to such journals by increasing the visibility and accessibility as has been shown by Medknow Publications. Medknow now publishing 40 journals has adopted unique ‘fee-less immediate free’ model of publishing. The journals published by Medknow use its manuscript processing system which helps in faster review and resource saving. On acceptance articles are published online without any embargo. The revenue from subscriptions for print edition, advertisements, reprints sale and membership dues helps to take care of the print and online publishing. The increased visibility offered by free access has helped to increase number of articles submitted to these journals which in turn has help to publish more number of articles per issue (e.g. Indian Journal of Urology) and more number of issues per volume (e.g. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology). Not just the submitted manuscripts, but also the citations received by these journals have increased. Interestingly and importantly for the journals from the developing world, by providing free online access none of these journals have lost subscribers to the print edition. Over the last four years, the number of paid subscribers to these journals has been increasing consistently. Hence, it may be apt for the journals from agriculture science in India to adopt a similar ‘free-less-free’ model which helps to improve the quality of the journals.

Enforcing the public's right to OA

To protect open access to publicly-funded research, Connecting for Health (part of the UK's National Health Service) has dropped BMJ in favor of Prodigy Knowledge as the distributor of its Clinical Knowledge Summaries.  (Thanks to Ben Toth.)  From today's announcement:

Connecting for Health have confirmed they have awarded a five year contract to provide Clinical Knowledge Summaries (CKS) to a consortium comprising the Sowerby Centre for Health Informatics, at Newcastle Ltd (SCHIN) and international medical publishers EBSCO.

As E-Health Insider Primary Care exclusively revealed last week NHS Connecting for Health ended its agreement with BMJ Publishing Group on 30 September after the BMJ refused to hand over the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) of its material generated during the contract.

CfH began procuring for a new supplier of CKS in May 2006 with an advertisement in the Official Journal of the European Union, where they made it clear that it was essential that the Department of Health owned the IPR of any material used during the contract, which is paid for by taxpayers.

In a statement they said: “This will ensure that, at the end of the contract, the NHS will have continuing rights to the content developed during the course of the contract rather than be left with nothing if the supplier owned IPR, as was the case with the Clinical Evidence contract.” ...

The consortium will be providing GPs and clinicians with Prodigy Knowledge, an updated source of clinical knowledge designed to support healthcare professionals and patients, in managing the common conditions generally seen in primary and first-contact care.

Comment:  Kudos to CfH for enforcing the public's right to OA.  I'm trying to learn more about what happened here, since BMJ is a pioneer of OA and certainly able to understand the terms of a contract.  Will the CfH take steps to regain the rights to material generated during the five year contract with BMJ?  Is there some question about what the contract actually required?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Are Belgium and Australia making search engines illegal?

Barry Schwartz, Australia's Proposed Copyright Rules Would Make Search Engines Impossible, Warns Google, Search Engine Watch, November 7, 2006.  Excerpt:

AFP reports that Google has warned Australia that if they pass certain a new copyright law that it will set the country back to "the pre-Internet era." Google's senior counsel, Andrew McLaughlin, told the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, "If such advanced permission was required [to index pages], the internet would promptly grind to a halt." I believe the issue here is that Australia wants Google to get copyright owners to opt in to having their content indexed, archived and cached, as opposed to opting out via a robots.txt file. Australia is not alone here; Belgium newspapers are fighting Google over similar copyright issues. This all just amazes me, seriously.

Postscript by Danny Sullivan:

See also my Google's Belgium Fight: Show Me The Money, Not The Opt-Out, Say Publishers piece that goes into great depth about how this is effectively already the law in Belgium, due to a court ruling there. The appeal on that case will happen later this month, but the threat alone also already caused Microsoft to back out of some indexing.

Publicizing faculty research

Nice idea:  instead of a university press office sending out a stream of press releases about cool faculty research projects, how about a blog?  See the egghead blog from the University of California at Davis.  (Thanks to ResearchBuzz.)

Even better:  what if every blog posting about a faculty journal article linked to an OA copy in the institutional repository?

OA anthropology t-shirts

Support open access in anthropology with t-shirts.  (Thanks to Savage Minds.)

OA increases submissions, citations, and quality for journals in developing countries

D.K. Sahu, Open access in the developing world: regaining the lost impact, a presentation at the Workshop on Electronic Publishing and Open Access: Developing Country Perspectives (Bangalore, India, Nov 2-3, 2006). 

Journals from the developing world usually face problems of poor science, poor visibility and poor recognition. Good science done in the developing countries is usually published in the high impact foreign journals. Open access (OA) can help to improve quality of journals by attracting good science and more authors. OA could also improve citations and impact factor. Medknow Publications, an open access publisher from India, now publishing 39 journals has shown the advantages and impact of OA for the developing world. The OA journals attract more virtual readers [e.g. JPGM’s website attracts over 3000 visitors every day]. With increased visibility most journals have been able to attract more articles and thus publish regularly, more number of articles per issue and more number of issues per year. By providing free access, none of these journals have lost the subscribers to the print version; in fact, the subscriptions for print versions have increased over last 4 years. OA has also shown impact on the citations received by the journals.

Answering objections to national OA policies

Gary Ward, Deconstructing the Arguments Against Improved Public Access, American Society for Cell  Biology Newsletter, November 2006.  (Thanks to Heather Joseph.)  Excerpt:

Recent months have seen several important developments in public access to the scientific literature. In April, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni testified before Congress that the NIH’s current Public Access policy is not working.  Compliance with the policy, which requests that NIH-funded investigators make the results of their work freely accessible in PubMed Central no later than one year after publication, has been exceedingly low: Fewer than 5% of publications funded by NIH are currently being deposited within that time frame. Lawmakers in Washington subsequently introduced bills that would require government-funded researchers to make their results freely available to the public (see sidebar, page 6).

Not surprisingly, congressional interest has mobilized advocates on both sides of the issue. Many publishers are lobbying hard against the proposed legislation, while public interest groups, library associations, patient advocates, and some scientific societies are supportive. Universities have finally begun to weigh in on the issue; provosts and presidents from 126 leading universities and colleges across the U.S. have signed onto letters expressing support for the legislation....

As efforts to provide greater public access to the scientific literature gain momentum, so does the rhetoric. Following is an attempt to correct some of the misinformation that has confounded these discussions, to enable more dispassionate and data-driven consideration of the issues at hand....

The rest of the article is hard to excerpt and I recommend that you read it all.  Ward raises and answers nine objections that publishers often raise against national OA policies:  (1) that they would force publishers to convert non-OA journals to OA; (2) that they would undermine subscriptions and revenue; (3) that a six month embargo is too short; (4) that OA policies threaten peer review; (5) that the costs of implementation would be better spent on new grants; (6) that everyone who needs access already has access; (7) that publishers should be able to charge for the value they add; (8) that OA policies would burden researchers; and (9) that the public doesn't care.

More on copyright and OA in Canada

Kelly Edmonds, Off with their heads! Copyright infringement in the Canadian online higher educational environment, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, Spring 2006.  (Thanks to Stephen Downes.)

Abstract:   Issues of copyright infringement are contentious for academia in the online environment. The educational community on campus must carefully consider how digital materials are used, created and disseminated online given that present laws that regulate these actions are not well developed. It can seem like anyone’s guess on how to proceed in order to avoid copyright infringement. This paper offers current descriptions of intellectual property, copyright laws, infringements, and plagiarism in a Canadian context with a view on creating, using and disseminating digital works. The impact of copyright infringement on students and faculty in higher education is explored and some suggestions are made for protective practice.

From the body of the paper:

It becomes increasingly frustrating to remain current on how to create, use and publish works in the digital environment in ways that respect copyright. The current Canadian laws and licenses on digital rights are lacking, and are currently hindered by a slow process for developing new recommendations. At stake is the integrity and reputation of educational institutions, libraries, educators and students. The consequences for copyright infringement, whether intended or not, are out of proportion to the need for open access for learning and knowledge creation. As educational practices and materials change in an online world, so should the attitudes towards copyright and the laws that govern the use, creation and dissemination of materials....With the growth of online access, education is becoming a sophisticated and desired commodity, which in turn changes the purpose and value of informational materials. Exactly who will emerge victorious from the current copyright struggle is yet to be seen. It may the content owners, or it may be the users. In the end, educators can hope it is those who create and share new knowledge.

How the US election will affect open access

The big news in the US this morning is the mid-term election that gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives.  It may also have given them the Senate, but we won't know until we've wandered for a while in the desert of recounts and lawyers.

Here are the outcomes of four races that matter for open access.

  1. Joe Lieberman was re-elected Senator from Connecticut.  If you remember, he was defeated in the Democratic primary by Ned Lamont and decided to run as an Independent.  Lieberman introduced the CURES Act in December 2005 and co-sponsored FRPAA with John Cornyn (R-TX) in May 2006, making him the sponsor or co-sponsor of the two strongest OA bills ever introduced in Congress.  Both CURES and FRPAA would mandate OA to publicly-funded research.
  2. Rick Santorum (R-PA) lost his Senate seat from Pennsylvania.  Santorum is notable for taking money from AccuWeather, the weather-forecasting company, to sponsor legislation that would stop the National Weather Service from providing open access to publicly-funded weather data.  Santorum was defeated by Bob Casey, Treasurer for the State of Pennsylvania. 
  3. Mike DeWine (R-OH) lost his Senate seat from Ohio.  Because Elsevier is a major employer in Ohio, as the owner of Ohio-based Lexis-Nexis, DeWine listened when Elsevier argued that national OA policies would cost jobs in the publishing industry.  DeWine was defeated by Sherrod Brown (D-OH), currently in Congress as a Representative from Ohio's 13th District.  Brown has been a friend of OA, and especially the NIH public-access policy, from his position on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the authorizing committee for the NIH, and his position as ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Health.
  4. Finally, Ernest Istook (R-OK) gave up his seat in the House to run for governor of Oklahoma.  He lost that race and is now, at least temporarily, out of politics.  Istook was OA's best friend on the influential House Appropriations Committee and introduced the language (July 2004) requiring the NIH to mandate OA to NIH-funded research.  We often forget that the House language --Istook's language-- demanded a mandate even though the NIH eventually adopted a weaker policy.

That's three for four --a good day for OA.  I'll add more about other races as I learn more.

As I reported in July, the House Appropriations Bill for fiscal 2007 would compel the NIH to strengthen its public-access policy from a request to a requirement.  The fate of this bill will be decided by the current House and Senate, not the new ones.  The fiscal year started on October 1, so action is past due and we can expect Congress to get back to business as soon as the dust settles.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Another journal policy on the NIH-funded authors

Claire Johnson, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics Policies: Indexing, Submissions, Clinical Trial Registries, and Public Access for National Institutes of Health–Funded Studies, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, October 2006 (accessible only to subscribers). 

Abstract:   This is a brief update for Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics authors relating to the following: the journal's support of public access for National Institutes of Health–funded studies, indexing in MEDLINE, and other indexing systems, clinical trial registration requirements for submissions, and the continuation of not requiring a submission processing fee.

Report on Hyderabad OA workshop

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has written a report on the First Workshop on Open Access in Agricultural Science and Technology: Indian Initiatives (Hyderabad, November 6-7, 2006).  (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)  Excerpt:

...This workshop, essentially meant to address the needs of agricultural researchers in India, was hosted jointly by ICRISAT, a CGIAR institution, and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization.

About twenty participants - including the vice chancellor of an agricultural university, editors of agricultural journals, scientists and librarians of agricultural universities and the laboratories of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research attended the workshop. Dr P M Bhargava, vice chairman of India's National Knowledge Commission gave an inspiring opening address. Societies where knowledge flowed freely were far more prosperous than societies where knowledge was withheld, he said. He expressed his full support to open source software, open standards and open access to scientific and scholarly literature and told the gathering that the National Knowledge Commission had recommended open access to scientific and scholarly research publications, especially those resulting from publicly funded research projects, to the Prime Minister....

The workshop was inaugurated by Dr J D H Keatinge, Deputy Director General of ICRISAT....

The workshop was largely conceived by Jai Haravu, a former librarian at ICRISAT and now an information management consultant, and Johannes Kaizer of FAO, Rome. Johannes spoke about the initiatives of the AGRIS network and how AGRIS network can help India develop an open access agricultural information network. Dr D K Sahu of MedKnow spoke on how we could convert Indian agricultural journals into open access 'feeless-free' journals. He provided evidence from MedKnow journals to show that going open access indeed helped in increasing the number of subscribers to the print version apart from attracting more papers, especially from outside India, and citations and visibility.

Subbiah Arunachalam provoked the participants by asking them if Indian Institute of Science, National Institute of Technology and several CSIR laboratories could set up interoperable institutional archives what prevented ICAR laboratories from setting up their own archives....

Dr A R D Prasad of the Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore, spoke about the need for OA repositories....

Dr Mitali Ghosh Roy of ICAR gave an overview of the publication activity at ICAR. The day ended with a lively audio conversation with three distinguished OA advocates, viz. Peter Suber, Leslie Chan and Peter Ballantyne. Questions from the participants included concern about depositing papers when the copyright resided with the journal publisher, subject-based central repository vs institutional repository, loss of subscription revenue at a time when the Ministry supporting the journal is keen to increase income from subscriptions, etc....

A working group spent an hour in the evening to draw up an action plan....

It looks to me that at last the agriculture sector in India will make a beginning and within the next six months a few institutions may set up their own interoperable OA archives and upload annual reports, newsletters, theses and conference papers. But archives with refereed research papers and OA journals may take a little longer.

Update. Also see Subbiah Arunachalam's comments on the workshop.

DOAJ clarifies its language

The Directory of Open Access Journals has dropped the terms "author fees" and "author pays" from the search filter and journal records within its new "for authors" section.  Instead, it now refers to "publication fees".

Comment.  Many thanks to the DOAJ.  This is just a change of terminology, but it's a very welcome and important one.  The new language is neutral, as it should be, on who pays the fees at fee-based OA journals and no longer leaves the false impression that the fees must be paid by authors.  In fact, the fees are often waived or paid by the author's employer or funder.  I hope the change propagates throughout the academic world.

The DOAJ was always precise enough to use the old terms only for fee-based OA journals, and now its language is even more precise.  Many scholars, publishers, and journalists, however, have an even greater correction to make, since they still use the old terms for all OA journals whatsoever and therefore even for no-fee OA journals

Hilde Colenbrander on marketing OA

Allan Cho has blogged some notes on a Hilde Colenbrander presentation on OA (not clear where or when).  Excerpt:

She pointed out that the "impact factor" plays a large hand in the OA movement. The reason why is that scholars have an incentive to publish in established and prestigious journals. For young scholars who want [tenure], they must get published in such journals, not in open access publications, freely available to all....

One thing Colenbrander said which stood out in my mind: research and development. With a hectic work schedule, most academic librarians simply do not have time for study and reflection on gigantic issues such as open access. Without support from their institutions, librarians simply cannot devote the proper attention necessary. But librarians are supposed to be at the forefront of this moment; they need more support than they are currently given.

Connexions grant to help it become self-sustaining

Rice University's OA Connexions project has received a $1.7 million grant from the Hewlett Foundation.  From yesterday's announcement:

Rice University's revolutionary, open-source publishing platform Connexions today received a third-phase $1.7 million grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation that will allow Connexions to become more self-sustaining through new revenue-generating initiatives....

Founded in 1999, the nonprofit Connexions is one of the Web's first open educational resources. Connexions adapts open-source concepts to educational publishing, allowing anyone anywhere in the world to read, write, use and modify materials for free. The number of people using Connexions has grown by almost 70 percent during the past year, and the site today is attracting around 500,000 visitors each month.

"We're entering the most ambitious phase of our development," said [Richard Baraniuk, founder of Connexions and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice].  "We're looking at three potential revenue streams that may allow us to become self-supporting, and we're committed to developing those without betraying our core mission to keep all of our material available for free."

Connexions' initial revenue streams will come from the sale of books. In one case, Connexions plans to found a University Press Consortium that allows member presses to offer print-on-demand publication of money-losing monographs that are academically important but which simply cost too much to publish. The model builds upon Rice's announcement in July that it would use Connexions to revive its own university press, which was shuttered in 1996....Under this model, readers can access all books online for free, and they will pay only if they want a printed book...

Connexions also plans to develop a catalog of the 10 most-popular community college textbooks, which also will be free for online viewing and cost less than $30 when purchased as hardbound books....Baraniuk said..., "Our goal is to dramatically affect the economics of textbooks by providing high-utility courses in Connexions that can be customized by instructors and printed affordably by students."

Connexions' final revenue-generating plan involves licensing its platform to companies for in-house corporate training....

More on TechXtra

Roddy MacLeod, The 'Long Tail' of technology information, The Innovations Report, November 7, 2006.  Excerpt:

TechXtra aggregates content from a large number of different databases containing technology-related content. A search of TechXtra will search across more than 4 million records of various kinds – articles, technical reports, digital theses and dissertations, books, eprints, news items, job announcements, video, learning & teaching resources, key websites, and more – most of which relate to technology subjects....

TechXtra aggregates, so that you don’t have to. From the one TechXtra search box, you can currently search 29 databases....

In the majority of cases, the full text of items found through TechXtra is freely available....

TechXtra is a freely available service, developed at Heriot Watt University in the UK. We receive no external funding for its development, so we rely on word of mouth to spread the word. I hope you may help, and tell your colleagues about TechXtra, or blog about the service, or place a link to it from your websites.

Bryant IR will include faculty eprints

Bryant University has extended its OA institutional repository to include faculty eprints.  From the announcement (undated but apparently released yesterday): 

In an effort to "capture the intellectual output of the institution," the Douglas and Judith Krupp Library [of Bryant University] has expanded the Digital Commons project to manage and organize faculty research papers. The full text of these articles will be added if the writer grants permission.

In addition, the database compiles journal articles cited by Bryant faculty in their research and provides the full text of those articles if the library is a subscriber to the referenced publication....

To browse the collection, visit [New England Collections Online, a consortial repository], go to search and select DigitalCommons@Bryant University from the drop-down menu.... [PS:  There is no deep link.]

Interview with Larry Sanger on Citizendium

Dean Giustini, "Imagine the possibilities" says Larry Sanger of Citizendium, UBC Academic Search blog, November 6, 2006.  An interview with Larry Sanger on his Citizendium project.

Positive feedback loop for open knowledge

Rufus Pollock, Open Knowledge Drives Out Closed (in the Long Run), Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, November 6, 2006.  Excerpt:

After Gresham’s Bad money drives out good though with opposite sense.

Open knowledge here is taken as given by the open knowledge definition and, in its essentials, means the knowledge (data/content/…) must be freely accessible, reusable and redistributable. Closed by contrast means knowledge for which access and reuse are restricted in some manner, for example by charging for access, or by prohibiting reuse....

The idea behind this analogy is that there is a feedback for open knowledge just as there is with bad money (though obviously with a different mechanism). In the case of bad money the feedback is that people use the bad currency and hoard the good one because the former has lower intrinsic value. As a result the ‘good’ money disappears and you are left with only the ‘bad’ in circulation.

In the case of open knowledge the feedback comes arises because, with viral licensing, each user of the knowledge pool becomes a contributor back to the pool. As the pool grows it is ever more attractive to new users so they use (and contribute) to it rather than to any competing closed set of knowledge. This results in a strong positive feedback mechanism. Of course, such a feedback mechanism also exists for closed knowledge: payments for access can be used to fund further investment resulting in a knowledge pool that is more valuable which attracts more users etc. However because closed knowledge has higher costs of access (monetary or otherwise), as long as the open knowledge pool is past a critical value threshold, it will always have the advantage in attracting new users.

Subsidizing publication rather than dissemination

Jan Velterop, Subsidy or not to be, The Parachute, November 6, 2006.  Excerpt:

Recently, early November 2006, a quick thread was spun on the AMSCI open access list about subsidising journals (though the title of the thread is 'What Can and Should Be Mandated')....

[A]ll journals are subsidised. Although, a lot of microsubsidies could perhaps be seen as constituting a 'market'. The money for journals comes, to a very large degree, from governments. If not directly, then indirectly, via the circuitous route of research and learning institutions with their librarian gatekeepers and content collectors. The subsidy is just misdirected. And ill-suited to what the intention is: serving the public interest.

Why is that so? Subsidising the consumer, in order to be able to buy scholarly journals, is accepting the premise that a journal's value is primarily in its content. It isn't. While that perhaps used to be so, it isn't any longer as a result of the internet. The content can be found elsewhere, and for free. In a preprint repository, for instance, or even in a postprint repository. The internet has made one of the classical functions of publishing - dissemination - exceedingly easy to do by anybody else as well, and particularly by the author. Journals are no longer needed for dissemination per se.

The function of a journal was always much wider, even when all its economic value was bound up with just dissemination. Journals organise the formal acceptance and embedding of the literature in the record. They keep the 'minutes of science' as I mentioned in an earlier post.

This is a very important function of journals, as I argued in the same earlier post. And that's the function that needs to be 'subsidised'. If the same money that's now sloshing around in the L-sphere (licence sphere) were used to enable peer-reviewed articles to be added to the free and open Noösphere (knowledge sphere) by paying for the service of formal publishing rather than for access, we would have so much more 'bang for the buck': open access....

The success of Medknow's OA journals

Frederick Noronha, Good News from India: Open Access Journals Work!, Bytes for All, November 6, 2006.  Excerpt:

An innovative experiment in publishing, by a medical doctor from Mumbai, has sparked off a wide range of academic publications, giving authors hundreds of new readers and a genuine chance to create relevant new knowledge.

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

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

[Medknow was] started by Dr Dev Kumar Sahoo (33), a medical doctor from the Indian commercial and media capital...."We now have 33 journals being published by us," child-specialist Dr Sahoo, MD (Peds), DCH, DNB and FCPS, told IANS in an interview. Today, Medknow has a staff of 20, and also does a lot of outsourcing.

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

"Printing and mailing a journal eats up 85-95% of the cost of producing the journal. If you can spend 5-15% more, you can get it online. You won't lose readers or subscriptions (but putting it online). On the contrary, the advantages of increased readership is tremendous," he explains.

"Without open access, there's no scope for a journal (from a developing country in particular) to reach any quality. Even misconduct is more visible in this model," he says, narrating how a plagiarism case was detected via open access....

Once an article if processed, it is published for immediate free access on-line. "This increases visibility, attracts authors and encourages more citations, which are all-important in the academic field," says he.

Some figures are revealing: their first online venture, the Journal of Post Graduate Medicine from India, grew from a 2001 print circulation of 300-400 to about 3-4000 visitors per day....

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

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

PS:  In most publications, DK Sahoo's name is spelled "Sahu" --in case you want to run searches on his name to learn more about his success at Medknow.

President of Temple U endorses FRPAA

Ann Weaver Hart, President of Temple University, has added her signature to the SPARC list of U.S. university presidents and provosts endorsing open access to publicly-funded research and the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (FRPAA). The tally is now 128.

Thomson supports PubChem

Thomson Scientific has contributed 2.2 million chemical structures to PubChem.  For details see yesterday's press release.

Update. See Peter Murray-Rust's two cheers for this news.

Update. Also see Ed Vawter's lengthy story in Information Today.

Presentations on OA to publicly-funded research

Most of the presentations from Improving Access to Publicly Funded Research: Policy Issues and Practical Strategies (Washington, DC, October 20, 2006) are now online.  All are strongly OA-related.  Also see SPARC's summary of some of them, blogged here on October 25. 

Hindawi adds four journals to its OA collection

Hindawi has launched three new OA journals and converted a fourth from TA to OA.  From the announcement

Hindawi Publishing Corporation is pleased to add the following four titles to its open access journal collection:

  • Advances in Tribology
  • International Journal of Microwave Science and Technology
  • International Journal of Vehicular Technology
  • HPB Surgery

The first three titles are new journals launched under the open access publication model. The fourth title, HPB Surgery, was published for 11 years as a subscription-based journal before being converted to open access. "Open access publishing is an exciting new development and one in which I would like to be involved" stated Robin Williamson, the journal's Editor-in-Chief. All articles shall be distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Hindawi continues to aggressively develop its open access journal collection covering all major areas of science, technology, and medicine.

More on Scholarpedia

Bobby Pickering, Scholarpedia is a wiki form of open access, Information World Review, November 5, 2006.  Excerpt:

Could this be another milestone in the evolution of academic publishing? Scholarpedia is the first "free peer reviewed encyclopedia" – a kind of morphing of open access publishing with wiki technology.

Initial reactions may be: "Oh god, not another Wikipedia wannabe!", especially as the ink is barely dry on Larry Sanger's Citizendium manifesto, which he described as a "progressive fork" of the Mother of All Free Online Encyclopedias. But this one could be very different.

Although it was suffering from a few gremlins when we took a look, it has quite a potential to disrupt existing publishing models. For a start it takes the headache out of having to set up and maintain an online publishing operation if you're an academic or group of scholars inclined to develop your own OA journal.

Eugene M Izhikevich, editor-in-chief of Scholarpedia, points out its based on the same MediaWiki technology engine behind Wikipedia, and that's now a pretty proven force. The difference with Wikipedia is that each article in the encyclopedia has an expert editor attached to it as a "curator", who approves all changes and effectively ensures the actual article is an approved version.

What sets it apart from Citizendium is that it is not as elitist. Anyone can suggest changes to an article, and there's an anonymous forum for initial peer review. It appears far more inclusive and less obsessed with creating something worthy of "intellectuals"....

Will Scholarpedia be the second generation wiki that really makes the grade?

PS:  For background, see my blog post from last month.

Monday, November 06, 2006

More on OARE

Kimani Chege, Scientists get free access to environment journals, SciDev.Net, November 6, 2006.  Excerpt:

A new initiative has provided scientists in developing countries with free access to online environment journals, with the aim of reducing the information gap between developed and developing countries.

Over 1,000 scientific journals are available to scientists from countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America through the Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE) scheme, launched last month (30 October) by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and US-based Yale University.

Seventy countries whose gross national product (GNP) per capita is below US$1,000 now have free access to the journals.  By 2008, access to OARE will extend to 37 other countries whose GNP is between US$1- 3,000. The institutions in those countries will pay US$1,000 per year for the scheme....

However, several environmental scientists believe the effort falls short of free open access as requested by the Berlin Declaration (2003) in which 180 institutions called for open access for all science data.

Donat Agosti, a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History, warns that OARE might create an elite network and hamper scientists who wish to research in institutions that are not included in the initiative.

"What will happen if [for example] you want to study some issue related to Kenya? You can't [do so] outside of the elite institutions selected by this project," he told SciDev.Net....

More on CrossRef's look-up tool for DOIs

Barbara Quint, Linking Up Bibliographies: DOI Harvesting Tool Launched by CrossRef, Information Today NewsBreaks, November 6, 2006.  Excerpt:

Authors, editors, publishers, and librarians all have a vested interest in supporting the widest dissemination of digital scholarship, particularly authoritative and “authorized” copies of scholarly publications. CrossRef, the reference-linking network of the Publishers International Linking Association (PILA), has officially launched a free DOI look-up feature called Simple-Text Query. Users can enter whole bibliographies with citations in almost any bibliographic format and receive back the matching Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) for these references to insert into their final bibliographies. The feature involves a customized version of the eXtyles refXpress software from Inera, Inc. The new feature marks the first time CrossRef has produced a service aimed at encouraging end users to contribute to the growth of reference linking.

A limited test of the feature has been running since February. According to Amy Brand, CrossRef’s director of business and product development, the company initiated the feature after noticing that researchers were adding DOIs directly into documents. Initially, the feature was restricted to CrossRef members only. Brand explained, “In the February trial launch, you needed a password, but we quickly removed that when we realized that researchers could handle looking up DOIs at the authoring stage and then cut and paste the references.” ...

I asked Brand if CrossRef could reach open access material. She assured me it could, but it clearly did not give the free and sometimes underdefined material any preference. For open access sources such as institutional repositories, she said: “We have very explicit policies. We put a lot of work into defining what is an original work. For example, a working paper or technical report represents work with a different status coming from an earlier stage of the research process. So we consider them different works. If something is published as a preprint or postprint, we don’t give it a DOI. When we work with institutional repositories, we only accept the material that is not published.” CrossRef actively encourages DSpace repositories to assign DOIs to original, nonduplicative works and register their DOIs with CrossRef, rather than just relying on registration with CNRI.

Open data to accompany open theses and dissertations

Peter Murray-Rust, Open Electronic Theses - should be simple, A Scientist and the Web, November 4, 2006.  Excerpt:

Theses are one of the most concentrated and valuable ways that science is published. Yet they could be so much more valuable....

[PS:  Cutting PMR's quotations from my blog and my July article on OA to ETDs.

I agree with all the positive things Peter says, but I also need Open Data - the ability to re-use the data in the thesis without further permission....

However at the Open Scholarship meeting in Glasgow I specifically asked for some exemplars of chemistry eTheses. I got a lot of response - and in many countries theses seem to be published routinely in electronic form under some form of (implicit) Open license. However in the UK theses seem to be restricted by additional rights and regulations imposed by the universities, and all seem to be different. So I have the impression - and it’s only an impression - that although there are electronic theses they are not necessarily OA.

Sadly, of course, while almost all theses are created electronically, most undergo the cow to hamburger destruction. I heard yesterday of a student measuring spectra with a ruler, when the original data were digital…

I think theses are a great opportunity to show the value of reposition. I know many cases where the author is among the first to request data from the repository - since they have lost their own digital records. A few cases of this sort starts to make sense even in a conservative community like chemistry.

So let’s start demanding that we all deposit theses Openly - if only for the benefit of the student and supervisor!

Open research prize in zooarchaeology

The International Council for Archaeozoology (ICAZ) has announced the winners of its (first annual?) Open Zooarchaeology Prize.

Comment.  This is a great idea for scholarly societies.  Sponsor an essay contest for young researchers with the stipulation that winning entries will be posted on the society web site under CC licenses.  Encourage research and OA at the same time.  Congratulations to ICAZ for the idea and to the winners for their research.

Royal Society lets Open Choice authors use CC licenses

The Royal Society has updated the copyright policy for EXiS Open Choice, its hybrid OA journal program.  Yesterday or today it posted the following language to the Open Choice page:

Authors participating in EXiS Open Choice will be able to disseminate their articles under the Creative Commons licence version 2.5 [Attribution - NonCommercial] allowing them to post the final published version on repositories as soon as the article is published. Authors should also deposit the URL of their published article, in addition to the full text.

Previously, the same page said only this:

Authors participating in EXiS Open Choice will be able to post the final published version on repositories as soon as the article is published.

Comment.  I applaud the RS for this step, which I recommended for all hybrid OA journal programs back in September.  I believe that Springer, Taylor & Francis, and RS are now the only hybrid OA publishers that let participating authors use CC licenses. 

OA anthropology wiki

P. Kerim Friedman has launched a wiki called Open Access Anthropology.  It will document --and coordinate-- progress toward OA in anthropology.  It's already a good source on the quarrel between the now-disbanded AnthroSource Steering Committee and the AAA on OA and FRPAA. 

Update. The wiki has moved to a new address.

Beta release of Eprints version 3.0

Steve Hitchcock, EPrints v3.0 beta announcement, Eprints Insiders, November 6, 2006.  Excerpt:

This is the text, about to be circulated, of the announcement of the EPrints v3.0 beta version.

EPrints v3.0 beta release puts repository managers and users in control

The first beta release of EPrints version 3.0 gives more control and flexibility to repository managers, technical administrators and depositors....

An innovative new plugin architecture enables both non-technical and technical administrators to create new, shareable mini-applications that will run with EPrints to manage increasing information flows in and out of repositories....

The beta release of EPrints v3 is available for download.

Among the new features displayed by this major new version are:

- Efficient new user interface to streamline deposits and editorial workflow
- Flexible customisation of deposit workflow based on users and deposit metadata
- Auto-completion of names for authors, journals, and other metadata types
- Support for third party plugins makes it easier for users to add and share new import, export and user interface functions without modifying the core code
- Improved XML import/export format
- More efficient full-text indexing
- Export searches as RSS feeds, BibTeX, EndNote, XML, etc.
- Full eprint audit history to support preservation applications
- Improved support for set-up, with a tool to walk installers through much more of the process
- Test-data importer to create 100 demonstration records...

EPrints v3.0 will be officially released at the EPrints User Group meeting at the international Open Repositories 2007 conference in San Antonio, TX, on January 24, 2007.

PS:  Although this is a preview of a forthcoming announcement, the beta release is available for downloading now.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Moving online and OA

Gary Shapiro, Tenure Online, New York Sun, November 3, 2006.  (Thanks to William Walsh.)  Excerpt:

[M]ore scholars — particularly younger ones — are posting their research online before publishing it in refereed print journals, said [Sylvain Cappell, professor of mathematics at New York University]. "It's an opportunity to get response and reaction from other frontline researchers."

The Internet, which has made the cost of distributing information virtually vanish, Mr. Cappell said, has also exacerbated the overlapping tensions of online versus print, open access versus paid, and refereed versus non-refereed. Formerly, editorial boards controlled the distribution of research results. Now, he said, "Electronics is bringing disintermediation to the world of research as much as to the world of travel agents."

In the old days, scholars might mimeograph and circulate copies of their work to a handful of colleagues before it appeared in a refereed print journal. Now scholars can post research in an open-access archive and then publish it in an online or print journal, Mr. Cappell said....

The senior director of open-access and journal publishing at Springer, which publishes about 1,300 scientific journals, Jan Velterop, said that peer-reviewed e-journals and print journals were not essentially different. The electronic format is just "the post office," he said, describing how that content is delivered....

Societies and publishers have also begun to wade into open-access publishing. Two of the APS journals are available only in open-access electronic format. Mr. Blume said APS retains copyright in its journals, but gives authors of an article the right to "do what they want with it, as long as a fee isn't charged. If a fee is charged, they need our permission." ...

Many articles submitted to open-access repositories like, which are not peer reviewed, are ultimately published in peer-reviewed journals such as those of the APS, Mr. Blume said. The physics community sees such prior preprint publication as an extension of the tradition of widespread distribution made possible by the Xerox revolution, Mr. Blume said. But he said there are other science journals that will not accept articles that have been previously posted on open-access archives.

Still, "one could speculate that over time, the shift from print to electronic distribution of research results will shift the emphasis from refereeing to reviewing," Mr. Cappell said. In an electronic age of instantaneous delivery, he said, "there may be less an issue of control and more an issue of reception and reaction."...

Viable business models for OA journals

Victoria Rae and Fytton Rowland, Is there a viable business model for commercial OA publishing? Serials, November 2006. Accessible only to subscribers, at least so far. (Thanks to William Walsh.)
Abstract: The study reported here investigated the potential viability of open access (OA) models for commercial scholarly journal publishers by means of interviews with knowledgeable professionals in the business. The conclusion was that it is as yet unproven whether or not a viable OA business model exists. There are likely to be widely different approaches between different disciplines in the future, with OA unlikely to find acceptance in the humanities and social sciences. However, if any viable OA models do exist, they are likely to be more sophisticated than those tried hitherto, and some suggestions are made regarding possible variables that might be tested in future experiments. On the particular issue of "free riders", it is suggested that the use of a Creative Commons Deed may enable publishers to continue to receive additional non-subscription revenue from industrial users.

PS: On June 21, 2006, Hindawi reported that its OA journal collection was already profitable. It's possible that this article was finished and in press before that date.

Update. William Walsh has posted an excerpt from this article to the Issues in Scholarly Communication blog.

Presentations from Bangalore OA workshop

Some of the presentations from the Workshop on Electronic Publishing  and Open Access (Bangalore, November 3, 2006) are now online.  The rest will be posted to the same site over the next few days.

Putting an OA condition on subsidies to non-OA journals

Stevan Harnad, Mandating the Conversion of Subsidised Non-OA Journals to OA? Open Access Archivangelism, November 4, 2006.  Excerpt:

Summary:  Jean-Claude Guédon has suggested that (1) the percentage of non-OA journals that are subsidised may be closer to 50% than 5%, and that hence (2) OA self-archiving mandates could also mandate the conversion of those subsidised journals to OA. It is not clear, however, (i) whether the percentage of national journals that are subsidised is representative of the total percentage of the world's 24,000 journals that are subsidised. The right question is: (ii) what percentage of a nation's research output is published in subsidised journals? A second, unavoidable question is: (iii) where in the quality hierarchy of 24,000 peer-reviewed journals do the subsidised journals tend to fall? (The answer to (ii) and (iii) will differ by both nation and discipline.) In any case, the adoption of the proposed OA self-archiving mandates (such as the US FRPAA proposal or the European Commission's A1 recommendation) should on no account be handicapped by trying to add to them a mandate to convert subsidised journals to OA. The same is true of individual institutional self-archiving mandates. Once self-archiving mandates prevail, the need to convert journals to OA will in any case become a far less urgent one, and no longer an OA matter.


  1. I've only excerpted the summary of a larger post.  Readers interested this question should read the whole thing.
  2. Jean-Claude wasn't talking about subsidized TA journals in general but specifically about TA journals subsidized by public funds.
  3. It doesn't matter what the percentage turns out to be or where the publicly-subsidized journals fall on the quality scale.  The funding agencies have a right to put an OA condition on their money; and to pursue their own missions and promote the public interest, they have an interest or even an obligation to do so.  This is one of the principles behind the funder mandates for OA archiving and I don't see why the same principle doesn't extend to journals.
  4. Stevan is right that if OA archiving mandates prevail, then the need for OA journal-conversion mandates will be less urgent.  But it won't disappear, since (among other reasons) the archiving mandates usually permit embargoes and don't apply to the published editions of the articles. 
  5. Stevan is also right that OA archiving mandates "should on no account by handicapped" by the pursuit of journal-conversion mandates.  For example, if a one-mandate policy is still being drafted or debated, then it would be a mistake to turn it into a two-mandate policy; that would roughly double the difficulty of building consensus for the result.  But that doesn't rule out a plan to pursue both policies in parallel or in sequence.  If we can pursue two good policies instead of one, without reducing the odds for the one we're already pursuing, then we should.  But if not, not.  This is an empirical question and the answer may change from place to place and time to time.
  6. In any case, there's no reason why a funder that already has a strong archiving mandate should hold off considering a journal-conversion mandate. 
  7. The NIH estimates that the cost of implementing its OA policy with 100% grantee compliance would be $3.5 million/year (for 65,000 manuscripts/year).  But it also estimates that it spends $30 million/year on subsidies to TA journals.  I'd like to see it either phase out the subsidies to TA journals or put an OA condition on the money.  I see no reason why this would interfere with its current archiving policy or with ongoing efforts to strengthen that policy.  But if it would, then I'd reconsider and give priority to strengthening the archiving policy.