Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 27, 2007

More on the AAP PR campaign

David Biello, Open Access to Science Under Attack, Scientific American, January 26, 2007.  Excerpt:

The battle over public access to scientific literature stretches back to the late 1990s when Nobel Prize winner Harold Varmus began plans for PubMed Central --a repository for all research resulting from National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding-- and, a few years later, launched the Public Library of Science (PLoS). These easily accessible journals and repositories have struck fear into the hearts of traditional publishers, who have enlisted the "pit bull" of public relations to fight back, reports news@nature.

The Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers hired Eric Dezenhall, head of Dezenhall Resources, a PR firm that specializes in "high stakes communications and marketplace defense," to address some of its members this past summer and potentially craft a media strategy. Dezenhall declined to comment for this article....

[A]ccording to Dezenhall's suggestions in a memo, the publishers should "develop simple messages (e.g., Public access equals government censorship; Scientific journals preserve the quality/pedigree of science; government seeking to nationalize science and be a publisher) for use by Coalition members." In addition, Dezenhall suggests "bypassing mass 'consumer' audiences in favor of reaching a more elite group of decision makers," including journalists and regulators. This tack is necessary, he writes, because: "it's hard to fight an adversary that manages to be both elusive and in possession of a better message: Free information." ...

Of course, open access does not mean no peer review...."Open access journals are peer-reviewed to the same standards," notes Mark Patterson, PLoS's director of publishing....

The American Association of Publishers declined to comment on Dezenhall's advice, but said in a statement: "Some commentators have expressed surprise that the publishing industry is making its case about an important issue that could affect the future of research and science. We believe it's important to be clear about serious unintended consequences of government mandated open access. ... Legislation that would undermine the quality, sustainability and independence of science would have consequences on all those who rely on sound science."

[T]he ACS [American Chemical Society] paid lobbying firm Hicks Partners LLC at least $100,000 in 2005 to try to persuade congressional members, NIH, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that a "PubChem Project" would be a bad idea, according to public lobbying disclosures....

Of the as many as 65,000 articles derived from NIH funded research, only 10,000 or so are available at PubMed Central. "We have authors sending in 4 percent of articles," Dr. Neil Thakur, Ruiz Bravo's special assistant. "An additional 10 to 12 percent are submitted by publications." 

"Having been at a research institution, if something is not mandatory for me and I'm a scientist and I'm focused on the science, then doing something like this is not something that I am going to pay attention to," Ruiz Bravo adds. "We could go to a mandatory policy with a six month deadline. We've been considering that."

The open access movement is not confined to the U.S., of course. The Wellcome Trust in the U.K. has begun providing funds to its researchers explicitly to cover the costs of publishing in open access journals [PS:  and mandates OA archiving for Wellcome-funded research]....

This open access groundswell...seemingly threatens traditional publishers...."If you are published in a journal that publishes every other month or quarterly and there is mandatory open access in six months, then, as a librarian, you are going to cancel it," notes Martin Frank, executive director of the American Physiological Society (APS), which publishes 14 journals, including the American Journal of Physiology since 1898. "We consider ourselves a delayed open access journal....I agree with public access, but it doesn't have to be immediate," he adds. "If it's immediate, it has to be paid for." ...

Regardless of the "attack dogs" hired by traditional publishers to craft their message, public access advocates remain undeterred. "We've got the technology to make this happen with the internet. The only thing that's holding it back is this adherence to an old business model, which made sense in the world of print, but no longer makes sense," PLoS's Patterson says. "It's great for authors: anyone with an interest in their work can access it."

"There are some folks who feel very threatened by PubMed Central," NIH's Ruiz Bravo adds. "We really are committed to having an archive. We will do everything we can to make this a successful endeavor....Change is in the wind, and change is hard," she continues. "I think this is inevitable."

Update. Biello talks about OA and the AAP campaign on a January 31 podcast from Scientific American.

Friday, January 26, 2007

More on OA full-text books increasing the net sales of print editions

James Boyle, Text is free, we make our money on volume(s), Financial Times, January 22, 2007.  Excerpt:

The internet makes copying cheap. Businesses that see their livelihood as dependent on the restriction of copying – concentrated in the recording, film, publishing and software industries – are understandably upset. Their goal is to have the same ability to control their content as they had in an analog world but to keep all the benefits of pervasiveness, cost saving, and viral marketing that a global digital network brings. To that end, they have moved aggressively to change laws worldwide, to introduce stiffer penalties, expand rights, mandate technological locks, forbid reverse engineering, and increase enforcement. It is not so much a case of wanting to have their cake and eat it, as to have their cake and make your cake illegal.

Yet there are hints in each of these industries of a different business model, one that aims to encourage, rather than to forbid copying....

Yochai Benkler is a prominent academic. His widely praised book about the network economy, The Wealth of Networks, was published by Yale Press – a publisher not known for its radicalism. Yet with his publisher’s approval Benkler’s book is available for free online under a Creative Commons license. Instead of paying $40 one can simply download the book. Its sales are reportedly in the top rank of academic books. Benkler is delighted with the additional 20,000 readers who have downloaded it.

Benkler is following in the footsteps of Larry Lessig, the founder of Creative Commons and author of Free Culture. Lessig’s work has been central to the practice of making books available for free online under licenses that make it legal for readers to copy, print and share them with others. He stopped counting downloads of his own work once the count hit 500,000. Yet his mass-market books continue to sell well.

Can this method work for authors – and publishers – who need to make their living out of books? There are hints it might....

Of course, these experiments are marginal. They are being tried by those in non-traditional genres, or those who can afford to gamble. At the moment, the numbers are small. But most innovation happens on the margins. It would be just as wrong for us to conclude that these experiments represent the future as to assume they do not....

Who is least likely to try free digital distribution? The blockbuster author. Do not expect to see Harry Potter released this way. JK Rowling does not have to struggle against obscurity, and, given market saturation, it is unlikely that her publisher would see the method working for her. But the next Rowling? That is another story. And perhaps a free one.

Another TA editorial on OA

Hiroo Fukuda, Start of Editor-in-Chief 's Choice of Open Access, Plant & Cell Physiology, January 2007.  An editorial.  Accessible only to subscribers, at least so far.

Successful declarations of independence

Declan Butler, Rebels hold their own in journal price war, Nature, January 25, 2007 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

Last August, the entire editorial board of the Elsevier journal Topology quit in a row over pricing. Now they are setting up a non-profit competitor to be published by the London Mathematical Society. The Journal of Topology, announced last week, will launch next January and will cost US$570 per year, compared with Topology’s $1,665.

It’s not the first such move. Over the past eight years, around a dozen cheap or open-access journals have been created to compete directly with an expensive commercial journal, many by editorial boards that had quit the original publication in protest. So, do the cheaper journals fare better than their rivals?

As far as scientific credibility is concerned, the answer is often yes — many of the challengers have obtained impact factors (a measure of the citations its papers receive) higher than their competitor. For example, the Journal of Machine Learning Research, set up in 2001 by editors of Springer’s Machine Learning, has a 2005 impact factor of 4.027. “That’s the highest in artificial intelligence, automation and control, and ninth in all of computer science,” says Leslie Pack Kaelbling, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and the journal’s editor-in-chief. Machine Learning has a 2005 impact factor of just 3.1....

PS:  For more, see my list of 14 journal declarations of independence.  I have three more from 2006 to add to the list when I can find the time.

Notes on APE 2007

Ehrhardt Heinold has blogged some notes on Academic Publishing in Europe conference (Berlin, January 23-24, 2007).  Read them in German or in Google's English.

Deleted post

For a minute I had a blog post here excerpting an open letter from the AAP/PSP to Elias Zerhouni. When you open the DOC file, Word stamps it with today's date. Hence, I thought it was released today. But if you look at the URL, you'll see that its real date is July 31, 2006. Sorry for any confusion.

More blogger comments on the AAP

Here's a new raft of blogger comments on the AAP's new PR campaign against OA

From Coturnix at A blog around the clock:

While the world is moving towards an Open Science model of exchange of scientific information, there are, as expected, forces that are trying to oppose it. Whenever there is a movement to change any kind of system, those most likely to lose will make a last-ditch and nasty effort to temporarily derail the progress. So, in this case, the Big Science Publishers have decided, instead of joining the new world of Open Science and using their brand names, their know-how and their infrastructure to become the leaders in the new system, and instead opted to go all mean and nasty....And since they have no healthy arguments to put forth, they will use the trickery with language in their efforts to slander the Open Source and Open Science organizations and online journals, taking their cues from the Frank Luntz textbook of Republican War On Meaning.

From Jim Downing at Coding trombonist:

I’m gobsmacked by [this story]. When I first read it on Peter Suber’s blog I assumed he was uncovering some misreporting and was going to conclude by commenting that making this kind of stuff up doesn’t help, but it seems to be the straight story. I felt defensive and a bit downcast at first, then I realised that this is great news. When your detractors resort to FUD you know you’re right, and you know you’re winning.

From Graham at Leftnews:

Dirty tricks in the science publishing field. It seems that the for profit journals are going to be using some dirty tricks to try to stop the open access movement (that is the movement that thinks the public should not have to pay to get access to research that it already paid for). The only way that science will continue to be free and open is if we get away from the monopoly that has been built by the restrictive copyright, for-profit publishing model.

From Andres Guadamuz at Technollama:

The twisted logic required to come up with the phrase "Public access equals government censorship" leaves me in uncomfortable awe. In some people's mind one can imagine that providing wider participation and access is wrong, but I truly cannot fathom the mental process which produces such line of thought....

From Iris at Pegasus Librarian:

Could this be a good sign? ...First of all, public access equals government censorship? What? I get it that traditional publishing models are the backbone of peer review. That's historically accurate, and I can understand the easy logical sidestep that would move this from "historically accurate" to "state of being."  Latching on to that argument is tactically smart because that's already what people worry about.  But pros and cons of the argument aside, I'm a little bit optimistic even in the face of this dirty move. If these big companies feel the need to sink money into a consulting firm to help them evade the growing threat of open access, then that means that OA is finally big enough to look like a threat.

From Michael Kenward at Michael Kenward:

The puzzling things is that the advice [AAP] got is so lame ["Public access equals government censorship"]....Other advice, that the opponents of open access should paint the move as some sort of communist plot, seems to come from someone completely out of touch with the scientific world. Scientists are notoriously non-conformist.

From Glyn Moody at Open...:

We know that as Microsoft has become more and more threatened by [open source], it has resorted to more and more desperate attempts to sow FUD.  Now comes this tremendous story from Nature that the traditional scientific publishing houses are contemplating doing the same to attack open access....This is a clear sign that we're in the end-game for open access's victory.

From Heather Morrison at Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics:

Leaving aside the questionable ethics of this tactic, and the sheer folly of attempting to consolidate one's position as the guardian of quality and integrity in academic communications through a campaign of deliberate misinterpretation - what might the publishing industry accomplish simply by redirecting funds from fighting open access - to implementing open access.  By my reckoning, this one expenditure alone would be sufficient for hosting and support services for a year for 785 open access journals. If Elsevier were to redirect funds from their U.S. lobbying efforts alone to open access publishing, this would be enough for hosting and support for over 3,000 open access journals - more than Elsevier currently publishes! ...

From Pam Ryan at

I can’t imagine any of the academics I know willingly supporting / falling for this slickster, big-business, fear-mongering approach to where and how to publish. Hopefully the OA’ers can...expose what, and who, is influencing the directions taken by the big players in commercial scholarly publishing. Despite this, I still haven’t given up hope that good/right will prevail and we’ll find workable, collaborative solutions to make research available to all....

From Dorothea Salo at Caveat Lector:

I think [this is] the action of a terrified group of amoral scumbags who see the future rushing in and will do whatever they can think of to stop it. I think it’s the action of a terrified group of amoral scumbags completely bankrupt of actual insight or innovation and utterly desperate to keep their current unjustifiable profit margins....If I were a scholarly publisher, I would distance myself from this fiasco far, fast, and publicly… and if my rep on the AAP had been involved in any way other than “vigorous opposition,” that rep would be fired immediately —not just from representing the publisher to the AAP, but altogether. Elsevier, Wiley, ACS, and (it would appear) others have a lot of explaining to do....

Plans for an OA portal of world science

The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the British Library have agreed to build an OA portal of world science.  From yesterday's announcement:

...Called ‘,’ the planned resource would be available for use by scientists in all nations and by anyone interested in science. The approach will capitalise on existing technology to search vast collections of science information distributed across the globe, enabling much-needed access to smaller, less well-known sources of highly valuable science. Following the model of, the U.S. interagency science portal that relies on content published by each participating agency, ‘’ will rely on scientific resources published by each participating nation. Other countries have been invited to participate in this international effort.

Recognising the impact of international research efforts, [Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, Under Secretary for Science for DOE] stated, “It is time to make the science offerings of all nations searchable in one global gateway. Our goal is to speed up the sharing of knowledge on a global scale. As a result, we believe that science itself will speed up.” ...

Objectives of the “” initiative are to:

  • Search dispersed, electronic collections in various science disciplines;
  • Provide direct, seamless and free searching of open-source collections and portals;
  • Build upon existing and already successful national models for searching;
  • Complement existing information collections and systems; and
  • Raise the visibility and usage of individual sources of quality science information....

More on the AAP PR campaign

Rick Weiss, Publishing Group Hires 'Pit Bull of PR', Washington Post, January 26, 2007.  Excerpt:

There are times in Washington when having a good argument -- maybe even being right -- just isn't good enough.

At times like those, people serious about getting their way turn to people like Eric Dezenhall, the take-no-prisoners maven of message control and author of the book "Nail 'Em!" -- which advises corporate clients (his have reportedly included Enron and Exxon Mobil) to not just defend against bad public relations but to fight back until the other side bleeds.

But there is a potential downside to hiring the likes of Dezenhall: If word gets out, you stand to be seen as on the ropes and willing to do anything to win.

Such is the predicament that the Association of American Publishers finds itself in, after internal e-mails leaked this week revealed that it had turned to the man known as "the pit bull of PR" to help in its fight against patient advocacy groups and the National Institutes of Health.

The venerable association of scholarly publishers, headed by former Colorado congresswoman Patricia Schroeder, has for years waged an intellectually nuanced battle against medical associations and advocates for the ill.

Those groups, along with many members of Congress, want to make the published results of federally financed medical research freely available to the public whose taxes funded the work -- results that today are typically available only to journal subscribers or to people willing to pay expensive per-page fees....

The problem, Dezenhall told the AAP last summer, according to e-mails obtained by The Washington Post, is that [the publishers'] arguments have been too wordy and in general too highfalutin to have the desired political impact -- especially considering the natural appeal of opponents' call for free medical information for the sick and dying.

The fix? For a six-month fee of $300,000 to $500,000, Dezenhall told the association's professional and scholarly publishing division, he could help -- in part by simplifying the industry's message to a few key phrases that even a busy senator could grasp.

Phrases like: "Public access equals government censorship," and "government [is] seeking to nationalize science and be a publisher."

The publishers liked what they heard. "Eric helped us see the issues in a few high-concept messages," one member summarized in an enthusiastic follow-up to the meeting.

Yesterday, [Patricia] Schroeder [President of the AAP] confirmed that the division had entered into an agreement with Dezenhall, though she would not release the cost or other details....

[A]fter years of failing to make headway -- two bills and appropriations language mandating public access to government-funded research are slated to be introduced in the new Congress -- the publishers decided they needed help.  "We thought we were angels for a long time and we didn't need PR firms," Schroeder said.

Heather Joseph, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition, which has been lobbying for more public access, offered a different perspective.

"It is dismaying to see the AAP turn it into a disinformation campaign," Joseph said in an e-mail. "These policies are not about government censorship or destroying peer review -- they are about expanding access to publicly funded science -- pure and simple."

Dezenhall said in an e-mail that he does not comment on clients or contracts.

Kevin McCauley, editor of the trade publication O'Dwyer's PR Report and the man who coined Dezenhall's "pit bull" appellation in a 2006 interview with Business Week, said the publishing association may live to regret the image of desperation that comes with an association with Dezenhall.  The question I want to ask the publishing association is why a group that publishes scholarly journals feels the need to go this route," McCauley said....

More on the AAP PR campaign

Andrew Leonard, Science publishers get stupid, Salon, January 25, 2007.  Excerpt:

The free information movement is really coming of age, if one is to judge by the enemies it's making. Nature has a doozy of an article out this week reporting that a group of scientific publishers, including Elsevier, Wiley and the American Chemical Society, have hired a notorious public relations gunslinger to fight back against those kooks who think scientific information should be freely accessible to all.

Among those kooks, by the way, is the United States government, in the form of the National Institutes of Health, which is under the odd impression that publicly funded research should be publicly accessible. But that's crazy talk to the big scientific publishers, who are seeing their profits threatened by upstarts like NIH's PubMed Central and the various journals put out by the Public Library of Science.

Nature reporter Jim Giles managed to obtain some rather diverting e-mails exchanged after Eric Dezenhall, author of "Nail 'Em! Confronting High-Profile Attacks on Celebrities and Businesses," talked to employees of the publishing companies and advised them to fine-tune their message with such slogans as "Public access equals government censorship."

Nature treats this eye-opener with the restraint appropriate to a serious journal. How the World Works [Leonard's column at Salon] is under no such obligation. Which means I'm free to point out that any publisher of scientific research who even begins to entertain the notion that free access to scientific information can or should be equated with government censorship should be mocked mercilessly in every publication, online or off, free or subscription required, evanescent as a blog or solid as a hard-copy Encyclopedia Britannica, from now until they beg forgiveness from every human on this planet for their disingenuous mendacity.

Update (1/29/07). See Leonard's follow-up for January 29: "Last Thursday's post on science publishers' hiring a public relations specialist to fight back against the open access movement hit a nerve: The discussion of the topic in the comments area, which includes scientists, journal editors and librarians, has been the most read letters topic in [Leonard's blog's] history."

More on the AAP PR campaign

Susan Brown, Publishers' Group Reportedly Hires P.R. Firm to Counter Push for Free Access to Research Results, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 26, 2007 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

The Association of American Publishers has hired a publics-relations firm with a hard-hitting reputation to counter the open-access publishing movement, which campaigns for scientific results to be made freely available to the public, the journal Nature reported on Wednesday.

The firm, Dezenhall Resources, designs aggressive public-relations campaigns to counter activist groups, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, a nonprofit organization that monitors the public-relations business.

The firm's founder and head, Eric Dezenhall, apparently has suggested that traditional publishers should link their business model with peer review and "paint a picture of what the world would look like without peer-reviewed articles," the Nature article says.

The publishers' association, whose members include scientific societies as well as for-profit publishers, made that link directly in a written statement released on Thursday afternoon. "Private-sector nonprofit and commercial publishers serve researchers and scientists by managing and funding the peer-review process," the statement said. "There are proposals under consideration that would mandate more government involvement and put this system at risk," it added. "Legislation that would undermine the quality, sustainability, and independence of science would have consequences on all those who rely on sound science."

People involved in the open-access movement say such reasoning is flawed. "That leaves out the very important point that the scientific community does the peer review itself without payment," said Heather Joseph, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, an alliance of academic and research libraries that works to counter the rising costs of research journals.

Association members are not the only ones who provide peer review. Open-access publishers, such as Public Library of Science and BioMed Central, do the same for research that is published in their journals.

"We're disappointed to see that the publishers would hire someone to spin a message," Ms. Joseph said. "It's clearly an attempt to try to have us engage in defending something in a way that is just not logical."

The publishers' association has refused to respond to specific queries about the public-relations approaches Mr. Dezenhall has reportedly suggested, or to say whether those suggestions would be adopted. Barbara Meredith, vice president for professional and scholarly publishing, sent the written statement via e-mail on Thursday, but declined to answer further questions from The Chronicle....

Mr. Dezenhall also advised the publishers' association to "focus on simple messages," such as "public access equals government censorship," according to Nature's report....

Update. A slightly updated version of this article appears in the February 9 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education. One new bit (my emphasis added):

In a statement that was sent to the listserv, Chemical Information Sources Discussion, Brian D. Crawford, who chairs the association's professional and scholarly publishing division, wrote that proponents of free access to scientific papers ignore "the very real risk of damage to science and the public, should peer-reviewed publishing be compromised by unnecessary government intervention ..." Mr. Crawford did not return several voice-mail messages left by The Chronicle asking him to clarify the connection.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Slashdot on the AAP

There's now a Slashdot thread on the AAP's new PR campaign against OA.  (Thanks to Matt Cockerill.)

Notes on the FIBS conference

Wouter Gerritsma has blogged some notes on FIBS: Frontiers in Information provision for the Bio- and environmental Sciences (London, January 25, 2007).  Excerpt:

...My main goal to attend this conference was to establish contacts with the people from Intute and look at the possibilities to make use of the Wageningen UR Library resources by Intute. Now we have moved all of our systems to the oracle database in XML format it must be easy to think of services that could harvest our electronic resources, either from the catalog or our repository....Intute is seriously looking into these new ways of sharing and re-use of information. Let's call it web 2.0ish.

There were also two presentations from Intute on the program. One from the people working of the Health and Lifesciences (formerly Biome) part of Intute, on the new site that launched in July 2006. Quite impressive they have catalogued currently about 31,000 Web resources. Most interesting I found the fact that they are harvesting other web resources as well....

The presentation by the engagement officer for UK-PMC was a bit confusing at times, partly he was quite new to the subject, partly because it is also a brand new service that needs to create its niche. They hadn't thought about the question of institutional repositories versus subject specific repositories yet. Well at least he didn't have the answers but was willing to take back these questions. There were plenty ideas about the possible developments with UK PubMedCentral however. Where the British Library has really worked hard was to make it easy for the researchers to submit their articles....

A beautiful presentation by Sally Rumsey on the brand new Oxford repository. Well they call it Archive. Oxford Research Archive in full. It had a soft launch last Monday. So this was actually real news. Sally pointed out that convincing the researcher to submit their work was their hardest, but most important job. The competition with UK PMC was not making things easier in that respect.

Roger Mills did a presentation on behalf of Michael Popham on the Google Book project. Interesting that Roger pointed out that they were going to link from the catalogue to their own copies in Google Books, but that wasn't working yet. Well actually the global library community is waiting for that one to happen. If they can do that from Oxford we can do it in principle from any library catalogue. More is to be found [here]....

More on OA and peer review

I've often argued that reforming peer review and achieving open access are independent projects.  But that doesn't mean that OA can't help solve certain problems with conventional review.  I like the way Matt Hodgkinson argues that some of the objections to conventional peer review can be answered by OA journals and OA repositories.  (Note that a couple of the objections Matt answers here are about problems at conventional journals unrelated to peer review.)  Excerpt:

Kevin Dewalt's blog on the 19th January includes 10 criticisms of peer review. I've posted a comment on his blog with my response to each of the points, but I'll copy them here as well....

2. Peer-review process advances slower than scientific progress.

Yes, but peer review doesn't stop someone first posting their article on their own web-site, discussing their work at conferences, or posting their work on a pre-print server like ArXiv....

3. The current process does not provide authors and reviewers with basic collaborative web tools.

That's nothing to do with peer review, just the delays in the Web 2.0 revolution getting to publishers. PLoS ONE (published by Public Library of Science, another OA publisher) does now offer reviewers and authors interactive tools to annotate articles. Many journals, like mine [BioMed Central] and the BMJ, allow any reader to comment on a published article.

4. Authors lose copyright privileges when publishing yet are often forced to publish to continue career advancement.

Traditional journals insist on copyright transfer. Many open access journals, including those published by BioMed Central and PLoS, allow the authors to retain copyright. The article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution License....

7. There is no medium for wider, instant dissemination. Doctors or researchers who prepare a presentation or speech cannot “publish it” to a wider audience.

Yes, they can. ArXiv and other pre-print servers allow the publication of non-reviewed work (see e.g. [this]). Theses and dissertations can be published electronically (e.g. [NDLTD], MIT on DSpace). This Portuguese university repository, for example, allows the publication of reports, presentation etc. If a university doesn't have a repository for this kind of material, then it should do! ...

10. Journals can be prohibitively expensive for some in the developing world.

Yes - this is one of the reasons why open access is a good idea! The research is free to read for anyone with Internet access. Traditional pay-to-view journals are also members of a scheme called HINARI, a WHO project that allows some people in developing countries to read the research for free (but it does have limitations, as they need to be connected to an institution).

More on the OA mandates at the ARC and NHMRC

ARC and NHMRC encourage access to research findings, a joint press release from the Australian Research Council and National Health and Medical Research Council, January 23, 2007.  (Thanks to Colin Steele.)  Excerpt:

The Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) today called on researchers to make the results of research funded by the Australian Government publicly available, whenever possible and appropriate.

The ARC and NHMRC Chief Executive Officers are keen to ensure that research findings are available to other researchers and to the community.

“The Australian Government makes a major annual investment in research to support its essential role in improving the well-being of our society,” NHMRC CEO Professor Warwick Anderson said.

“We are committed to ensuring the Australian community has access to the outcomes of government-funded research. And by making research findings widely available, we are also improving our ability to translate research findings into real benefits for the community.

“Accordingly, we encourage researchers, at the earliest opportunity, to deposit their data and any publications arising from government-funded research in an appropriate repository that has free public access.” ...

The Australian Government, through the ARC and NHMRC, invests more than $1 billion in research funding each year. They are the key advisers to the Government on research and administer several thousand research projects across all disciplines at any given time. Both organisations require regular reports from funding recipients on the status of their publicly-funded research.

PS:  Both agencies request OA to the research they fund, and both require grantees who choose not to comply with the request to justify their non-compliance.  For many observers, including me, this extra obligation effectively converts the request into a mandate.

Milestone for OAIster

OAIster has harvested and indexed its 10 millionth record.  From today's announcement:

We live in an information-driven world-- one in which access to good information defines success. OAIster's growth to 10 million records takes us one step closer to that goal....

Popular search engines don't have the holdings OAIster does. They crawl web pages and index the words on those pages. It's an outstanding technique for fast, broad information from public websites. But scholarly information, the kind researchers use to enrich their work, is generally hidden from these search engines.

OAIster retrieves these otherwise elusive resources by tapping directly into the collections of a variety of institutions using harvesting technology based on the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) Protocol for Metadata Harvesting....

Ann Devenish, Publication Services Project Manager at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, notes that "Harvesting by OAIster is a primary 'selling point' when we talk to scientists and researchers about the visibility, accessibility, and impact of their contributions in an institutional repository....

OAIster is good news for the digital archives that contribute material to open-access repositories. "[OAIster has demonstrated that]...OAI interoperability can scale. This is good news for the technology, since the proliferation [of repositories] is bound to continue and even accelerate," says Peter Suber, author of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. As open-access repositories proliferate, they will be supported by a single, well-managed, comprehensive, and useful tool....

OAIster currently harvests 730 repositories from 49 countries on 6 continents. In three years, it has more than quadrupled in size and increased from 6.2 million to 10 million in the past year. OAIster is a project of the University of Michigan Digital Library Production Service.

PS:  Congratulations to Kat Hagedorn and everyone on the OAIster Project.

EC "communication" on an OA mandate coming in three weeks

Andrew Rettman, Brussels drafts guide for closed world of science journals, EU Observer, January 25, 2007.  Excerpt:

The European Commission is preparing new guidelines for the €3 billion a year European scientific publishing industry that could put pressure on major firms such as Elsevier or Oxford University Press to give free access to articles based on EU-funded work.

"We are looking at how to find a balance between academic interests and the companies that are investing their intellectual property," a spokeswoman for science commissioner Janez Potocnik said. "One suggestion is that research can be made public six months after it is published."

The suggestion, put forward by a January 2006 commission report outsourced to Belgian and French academics, comes in the context of rising subscription fees for academic journals...and falling publication costs due to the growth of digital publishing.

The EU should consider establishing a "policy mandating published articles arising from European Community-funded research to be available after a given time period in open access archives" the report states, with Brussels planning to dish out €33.2 billion in research grants between 2007 and 2013....

The commission's guidelines will take the form of a "communication" to be issued on 15 February - a document that has no legal force but creates political pressure and could lead to future legislation....

"Mandates are the way to encourage this," Rachel Bruce, a director at the UK-based Joint Information Systems Committee said...."The principle is that everybody should have access to research that the public has paid for. It's not about taking away quality markers or editorial value. It's about moving knowledge forward," Ms Bruce said, adding that academics are willing to sign over copyright to prestigious magazines because that is the only way to build a scientific career under the status quo....

STM director Michael Mabe said [in reply,] "The European Commission should recognise what they are dealing with here, which is a European success story. This sector employs 42,000 people, generates €3 billion for the trade balance and is a world leader."

Mr Mabe cited opinion polls by University College London which say "most scientists don't want to go down another route, they are very focussed on getting their work published" because of the peer-review process that gives work authority, adding that up to 50 percent of article downloads take place 12 months after publication.

He said STM contributes to UN programmes to help doctors in Africa access research and that the EU could do more in this field instead. "There are ways of addressing this issue that don't throw the baby out with the bath water...If there is a real problem, there's a clear role for the EU to play here."

More on the AAP PR campaign

Mark Chillingworth, Nature uncovers PR attack on open access, Information World Review, January 25, 2007.  Excerpt:

Scientific journal Nature has discovered that a PR man whose career has been spent putting a positive spin on fraudsters like Jeffrey Skilling of Enron and denying scientific evidence of climate change, has been hired by STM publishers Wiley and Elsevier.

Eric Dezenhall and his company have been hired to attack the open access publishing movement, mainly in the US. The spin doctor has authored a book on his practises titled, Nail 'Em! Confronting High Profile Attacks on Celebrities and Businesses.

Jim Giles, a News and Features reporter at the London office of Nature was handed an email thread by a source revealing discussions Dezenhall has had with employees at Elsevier, John Wiley & Sons, American Chemical Society as well as the Association of American Publishers (AAP) regarding a strategy to deal with open access debate....

The article is well worth reading...and will certainly add a new dimension to the open access debate and do little for the reputations of the publishers involved.

Australia's OA mandate doesn't threaten research grants

Stevan Harnad, Green OA is no threat to grants: Pre-emptive Gold OA, today, might be, Open Access Archivangelism, January 25, 2007. 

Summary:  An article in The Australian -- "Open access a threat to grants" -- has wrongly implied that the Australian Research Council [ARC] OA policy would redirect research grant money toward the payment of OA journal publishing charges. What ARC has mandated is OA self-archiving ("Green OA"). It has definitely not proposed diverting research funds to OA publishing ("Gold OA").

  1. The first OA priority is 100% OA itself, via Green OA self-archiving mandates.
  2. The need to redirect funds toward Gold OA is hypothetical.
  3. Any "Gold Rush" today is premature and unnecessary.
  4. 100% Green OA does not take a penny from research.
  5. But direct conversions to Gold now certainly do.
  6. Most Gold journals don't charge publication fees today, but it is unlikely this will scale to 100% Gold OA.
  7. It is not a bad idea to start thinking about how to prepare for that eventuality. 
  8. But it is misleading to think of and plan for the conversion to 100% Gold OA as a redirection of current research funds toward OA Gold publication charges. 
  9. The "redirection" that needs to be planned is from the (vast) funds that are currently being used to pay for (non-OA) publication -- namely, institutional subscription/license fees, if and when those are ever cancelled. 
  10. Hence pre-emptive redirection of scarce research funds to pay for Gold is premature and unnecessary today; what is necessary today is the Green mandates for which so many are now petitioning the European community.
  11. Once Green OA prevails, we have 100% OA already.
  12. Then, if/when Green OA causes unsustainable subscription cancellations, those very savings will pay the OA Gold publication costs without taking a penny from the current research pot.

James Hilton on open source development and IRs

Jester has blogged some notes on James Hilton's presentation at Open Repositories 2007 (San Antonio, January 23-26, 2007).  Excerpt:

This is a summary of a presentation by James L. Hilton, Vice President and CIO of University of Virginia, at the opening keynote session of Open Repositories 2007. I tried to capture the essence of his presentation, and omissions, contradictions, and inaccuracies in this summary are likely mine and not that of the presenter....

Repositories are at the center of everything at the institution. It connects with the library, with the presses/scholarly publishing operation, with classroom teaching, with the laboratory, and with the world. It is a core piece of of infrastructure for the university of the 21st century. As institutions, we need to make sustaining investments in our repositories.

Hilton sees three different approaches to “community” in the existing projects:

  • dspace: community of user/developers. The come together to talk about what they want to do, write code, and support each other. Clearly there are enthusiastic users as developers.
  • eprints: appears as like a vendor talking with customers wanting the community help shape the direction.
  • fedora: in transition from a combination of the previous two models moving towards a Sakia-like model. it will require institutions to make commitments to it....

New OA journal on infection in developing countries

The Journal of Infection in Developing Countries is a new peer-reviewed OA journal.  (Thanks to Keith Nockels.)  From the site:

The Journal  is intended to publish original research papers, research notes and reviews covering different aspects of human, animal and environmental Microbiology and infections in developing countries with particular emphasis on emerging and re-emerging etiological agents, diagnosis, and epidemiology and public health.

Comments on the AAP

There's been a lot of comment on yesterday's story in Nature on the AAP's new PR campaign against OA.  Here's what some bloggers and listserv contributors are saying.

From the Center For Media and Democracy:

Spin of the day:  Dezenhall Tells Publishers:  Openness is Censorship.

From Jonathan Eisen at Tree of Life:

Well, this kind of made my day. Nature is reporting that a group of non open access publishers have hired Eric Dezenhall to help them with public relations. Eric Dezenhall is a crisis management consultant (as well as a fiction author) who many may demonize but he certainly seems to be good at what he does. The article at Nature is worth checking out and points to the desperation of these publishers when they see the writing on the wall regarding Open Access. 

From David Goodman on LibLicense:

That commercial and large society publishers should use such arguments is a sign of the strength and inevitability of the open access movement. But this is the advice [Dezenhall] gave them, not necessarily what they will actually decide to say. In that case, it shows that even an outside advisor perceives the strength and inevitability of the open access movement.

From Christopher Leonard at Egg:

[There's] a frankly depressing report from Nature on "PR's pit bull" discrediting open access publishing....I think we'll see what advice filtered through to the major publishers in public statements/press releases over the next few months. My guess is that - following this expose - they won't be able to use these arguments even if they wanted to.

From OxDE at LiveJournal:

Scientific publishers launch disinformation campaign against open-access scientific publication.  Specifically, they don't want grant agencies to require researchers to make their results public, so they're calling any such requirement "censorship". Newspeak at its best. Sadly, it's not just the usual...commercial scientific publishing houses such as Elsevier and Wiley that are involved: it's also the American Chemical Society. Another great reason to take one's own papers to journals not controlled by these groups.

From Christina Pikas at Christina's LIS Rant:

The Association of American Publishers feels that they are under siege and have hired a pit bull to fight back, apparently. So this isn't really surprising or alarming, but this quote is:  "The consultant advised them to focus on simple messages, such as 'Public access equals government censorship'." ...The government censorship bit is absurd....

From TangognaT at TangognaT:

The whole thing made me think that the AAP and these various publishers are living in the same world as the one portrayed in the movie Thank You For Smoking.

Drawing attention to overlooked OA journals

Heather L. Whitehead and Lisa G. Dunn, Enriching GoldRush with core subject Open Access journals: motives and methods, in Katina Strauch et al. (eds.), Proceedings 26th Annual Charleston Conference, Charleston, 2006.  Self-archived January 26, 2007.

Abstract:   Open Access (OA) journals in some subject areas can be overlooked by existing OA database providers. Subject bibliographers at the Colorado School of Mines Library collected OA journals as part of their collection development responsibilities, and in the process identified 48 overlooked OA journals. The titles were uploaded to the Gold Rush e-journal management system, making them findable by all GoldRush users. The motives, methods, and analysis of this collaborative project are discussed.

Giving users access to data about their online behavior

Paul Miller, Open Sesame, Panlibus, Spring 2007.  Scroll to p. 26.  Excerpt:

A...recent concept, and one with particular relevance to the library community, is that of open data....

[T]here is a growing recognition that data accumulated as an individual interacts with Web resources is of great value - both to the site on which they find themselves, and to the user. Sites such as Amazon have traditionally done a remarkable job of squeezing value from data, with their recommendations and carefully targeted site personalisation. Although the user perceives benefit in this mining of ‘their’ data by Amazon, they have had little control over the uses to which it was put, and far less ability to make use of the data for their own purposes. They have effectively been unable, for example, to combine purchase histories from Amazon and Borders, or to integrate that purchase history with their borrowing record at the public library....

The realisation that data gathered as a result of user behaviour has value to the user (and should be available for them to reuse as they see fit) has continued to gain acceptance. Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit in November 2006, Google CEO Eric Schmidt essentially stated that users of Google services should be able to take data collected whilst they use those services and give it to third parties. A user of Google’s search engine, for example, should be able to share their search history with Yahoo! or Microsoft. Further, he suggested that a company such as Google might actually increase use and loyalty… by making it easy for users to go elsewhere.

Similar principles can increasingly be seen to apply to other data collected by libraries....[E]xisting library data can be made far more valuable once it’s available for flexible use and reuse both inside and outside the library....

Tony Hey: OA mandates are only a matter of time

Tony Hey, Open access - transforming scholarly publishing, Panlibus, Spring 2007.  Scroll to p. 20.  Tony Hey is the VP for Technical Computing at Microsoft.  Excerpt:

Many university libraries...find themselves in the situation that they can no longer afford to subscribe to all the journals, in which their staff publish. Unless the university has a subscription to the relevant journal, the ridiculous situation arises where the university does not have a copy of the research paper for its own use....

This ‘subscription crisis’ is one of the drivers for open access, along with the principle that publicly funded research should be available to all. However, another reason for open access is simply that it could increase the availability and citation impact of research – which is surely desirable....

[I]t now seems inconceivable to me that any leading research institution would not wish to retain a digital copy of all the research output of its staff....

[ArXiv] is now widely used by the physics community and the refereed published versions [of its articles] are increasingly playing an archival role for things like tenure decisions – no longer for the real business of research....

There is presently a bill before Congress – the Cornyn-
Lieberman bill [FRPAA] – that seeks to make such delayed open access to research publications mandatory for all federally funded research. Similar attempts to make open access mandatory are appearing all around the world, from the USA, to Europe, to Australia....For all of the above reasons I am convinced that some form of mandatory open access to research papers is only a matter of time.

Many academics are unaware that over 90% of journals already allow some form of self-archiving of a digital copy of their paper. In addition, funding agencies and institutions are increasingly requiring researchers not to sign over all their copyright rights to the publishers. The publishers may not like this but in the end they need the researchers to fill their journal pages....

Microsoft intends to work both with forward-looking publishers who are willing to explore and develop new business models that are more synergistic with the research community, and with the academic community in developing a robust system of distributed interoperable repositories....

Journal bundling as an anti-competitive practice

The Information Access Alliance is urging the US Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to consider anti-trust remedies for journal bundling.  From yesterday's press release:

In December 2006, the Information Access Alliance (IAA) --representing [seven library associations]-- submitted comments for the ongoing Joint Hearings on Single-Firm Conduct and Antitrust Law being held by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The hearings are exploring this area of law and soliciting input from interested stakeholders. The comments...discuss journal bundling and other issues regarding anticompetitive single-firm conduct in the scholarly journal market. In the comments, the IAA urges the DOJ and FTC to review and analyze the problem of journal bundling and to explore the application of appropriate remedies.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Notes from the Institutional Repositories workshop

Three contributors to Knowledge Exchange news have blogged some notes on KE's Institutional Repositories Workshop (Utrecht, January 16-17, 2007).  See the notes on Day One and Day Two

Siege mentality at the AAP

Jim Giles, PR's 'pit bull' takes on open access, Nature, January 24, 2007.  Excerpt:

The author of Nail 'Em! Confronting High-Profile Attacks on Celebrities and Businesses is not the kind of figure normally associated with the relatively sedate world of scientific publishing. Besides writing the odd novel, Eric Dezenhall has made a name for himself helping companies and celebrities protect their reputations, working for example with Jeffrey Skilling, the former Enron chief now serving a 24-year jail term for fraud.

Although Dezenhall declines to comment on Skilling and his other clients, his firm, Dezenhall Resources, was also reported by Business Week to have used money from oil giant ExxonMobil to criticize the environmental group Greenpeace. "He's the pit bull of public relations," says Kevin McCauley, an editor at the magazine O'Dwyer's PR Report.

Now, Nature has learned, a group of big scientific publishers has hired the pit bull to take on the free-information movement, which campaigns for scientific results to be made freely available. Some traditional journals, which depend on subscription charges, say that open-access journals and public databases of scientific papers such as the National Institutes of Health's (NIH's) PubMed Central, threaten their livelihoods.

From e-mails passed to Nature, it seems Dezenhall spoke to employees from Elsevier, Wiley and the American Chemical Society at a meeting arranged last July by the Association of American Publishers (AAP)....

The consultant advised them to focus on simple messages, such as "Public access equals government censorship". He hinted that the publishers should attempt to equate traditional publishing models with peer review....

Dezenhall also recommended joining forces with groups that may be ideologically opposed to government-mandated projects such as PubMed Central, including organizations that have angered scientists. One suggestion was the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Washington DC, which has used oil-industry money to promote sceptical views on climate change. Dezenhall estimated his fee for the campaign at $300,000–500,000.

In an enthusiastic e-mail sent to colleagues after the meeting, Susan Spilka, Wiley's director of corporate communications, said Dezenhall explained that publishers had acted too defensively on the free-information issue and worried too much about making precise statements. Dezenhall noted that if the other side is on the defensive, it doesn't matter if they can discredit your statements, she added: "Media massaging is not the same as intellectual debate.

Officials at the AAP would not comment to Nature on the details of their work with Dezenhall, or the money involved, but acknowledged that they had met him and subsequently contracted his firm to work on the issue.

"We're like any firm under siege," says Barbara Meredith, a vice-president at the organization. "It's common to hire a PR firm when you're under siege." She says the AAP needs to counter messages from groups such as the Public Library of Science (PLoS), an open-access publisher and prominent advocate of free access to information....


  1. I've read this several times and still find it incredible.  Why would the AAP pay $300-500k for advice on how to misrepresent the issue?  The next time you see an AAP press release on OA, ask yourself this question. 
  2. Does the AAP even need the advice?  It has been falsely identifying government archiving with government censorship, and falsely identifying threats to publisher revenue with threats to peer review, at least since the debate over the NIH policy in 2004.  For a more recent example, see its May 2006 public statement opposing FRPAA.  (Also see my rebuttal.)
  3. I hope that publisher-members of the AAP will disavow these tactics and that journalists and policy-makers will understand the difference between intellectual debate and media massage.
  4. Kudos to Nature for uncovering and reporting this story.

Correction (1/25/07). Nature posted this correction today:

In the original version of this story, Susan Spilka was reported as emailing a note that said "Media massaging is not the same as intellectual debate." It should have read "Media messaging", and has been changed accordingly.

Between OA and copyright

APE 2007: Zwischen Open Access und Urheberrecht, a press release from the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels.  A short preview of the upcoming Academic Publishing in Europe (APE) conference (Berlin, January 23-24, 2007).  Read it in German or in Google's English.

OA archiving to diffuse scientific knowledge

Dossier TIC – diffusion scientifique Les archives ouvertes, [Newsletter of the] Fondation Maison des sciences de l'homme, January-March 2007. (Thanks to the INIST Libre Accès blog.)  On OA archiving at the FMSH and more widely.  Read it in the original French or in Google's English.

EPrints 3.0 launches

EPrints potential raised to 'a new dimension', a press release from the EPrints team at the University of Southampton, January 24, 2007.  Excerpt:

A new version of the open access software EPrints, being launched today (24th January) in San Antonio, USA, takes its potential to a ‘new dimension’, according to EPrints Technical Director, Dr Leslie Carr.

EPrints is already the world’s leading software for producing open access institutional repositories, which ensure that academic research is accessible and available on the World Wide Web. The new version, EPrints 3, will allow easier, time-saving deposits of academic research, benefiting researchers, librarians and webmasters, and making research more freely available to the public.

‘This brings open access closer to a reality,’ says Dr Carr. ‘EPrints 3 is a complete rewrite of the original software that addresses the key challenge facing repository managers now: how to produce a high value repository with quality assured contents.’

Dr Carr, who is based at the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) will launch EPrints 3 today (24 January) at the prestigious Open Repositories Conference 2007 in San Antonio, Texas....

‘The launch of EPrints 3 is particularly timely,’ says Dr Carr. ‘In the UK the Research Councils (RCUK) have announced that all research council-funded research must in future be placed in an institutional repository. Around the world, the success of the open access movement is ensuring that academics and universities want or, increasingly, are required, to make their research universally accessible to the wider community.'

Extra from TechXtra

Expanded coverage for free technology search service - TechXtra, a press release from TechXtra, January 24, 2007.  Excerpt:

TechXtra, the free service for finding material in engineering, mathematics and computing, has added a bundle of new sources to its cross-search. Now, it's possible to search across 31 major collections (over 4 million items) for articles, eprints, technical reports, books, theses & dissertations, teaching & learning resources, the latest industry news and job announcements, and more!

In addition, TechXtra has partnered with GlobalSpec to bring you a free Patents and Standards search facility....There are new, free, trade magazine subscriptions available, and we've also made some enhancements to the service which make it easier to use....

In the majority of cases, the full text of items found through TechXtra is freely available. This includes the 8,000 Australian theses, nearly half a million articles in computer and information science from CiteSeer, items found via ARROW (Australian Research Repositories Online to the World), thousands of eprints from arXiv in mathematics and computer science, 300 earthquake engineering technical reports from Caltech Earthquake Engineering Research Laboratory Technical Reports, many articles from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), theses and dissertations from NDLTD, learning resources from the National Engineering Education Delivery System (NEEDS), and more.

TechXtra is a freely available service, developed at Heriot Watt University in the UK. We receive no external funding for its development.

More on journal evolution

Gregory M. Lamb, Is this the end of the scholarly journal?  Christian Science Monitor, January 24, 2007.  Excerpt:

Scientific advances sometimes come as lightning flashes of inspiration. But when scientists sit down to record and take credit for what they've found, they still use much the same method they have for decades – an article published in a scholarly journal.

But science's hidebound traditions are changing. The Internet has opened up new forms of publishing in which anyone in the world can find and read a scientific paper. And papers themselves are becoming more interactive, leading readers to the underlying data, videos, and discussions that augment their value. With blogs and e-books providing easy means of self-publishing, some observers are speculating that scholarly journals and their controversial system of peer reviews may not be needed at all.

"The traditional journal publishing medium we've grown used to really needs to evolve and change because that's not the way people are accessing information," says Mark Gerstein, a professor of biomedical informatics at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. Dr. Gerstein cowrote an article, "The Death of the Scientific Paper," which appeared last year on, an online science magazine.

If the hopes of innovators bear fruit, scientific advances will come ever more quickly as online publishing makes past research easier to access and share widely.

Two new scientific publications, both available only online, may signal what's ahead. The PLoS ONE, a journal begun by the Public Library of Science (PLoS) last month, aims to put as many new scientific articles as possible on the Internet to be read by anyone, free of charge. The Journal of Visualized Experiments, or JoVE, is a kind of YouTube for researchers. It operates on the theory that a short video showing how an experiment is done is better than thousands of words that attempt to describe it....

Since the early days of the Web, observers have speculated that scientists might simply post new research on their own or in communal websites and let search engines find it, thereby bypassing the peer-reviewed journals altogether. If the research proves valuable, other sites will link to it, and the results would be "published" far faster than waiting for a journal to accept them.

Already, an online database called arXiv, hosted by Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., contains more than 400,000 scientific papers posted by their authors without peer review. (The papers often appear later in peer-reviewed journals)....

Gerstein says he thinks scientific journals, and some kind of peer review, will be around for a long time. Publishing in prestigious journals is "deeply intertwined with [scientists'] reputations and their promotions," he says. "You still want to get the stamp of approval of a journal."

PS:  Another accurate and interesting article betrayed by the headline writer.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

OA to ocean temperature data

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has launched an archive of OA data on surface ocean temperatures.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  Excerpt:

NOAA completed a first-of-its-kind, long-term archive for international satellite-based observations of global, high-resolution ocean temperatures, dating back as far as 2005. Eventually, the data holdings will extend back to 1981. NOAA is now able to acquire, archive and provide access to satellite-based sea surface temperature products and information from a variety of national and international partners....

The effort is part of the larger Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment, a complex system of models that monitors and forecasts ocean variability. The GODAE High Resolution SST project's Long Term Stewardship and Reanalysis Facility in Silver Spring, making all of the satellite data available online.

"Ocean surface temperatures are critical for applications that range from hurricane forecasting and climate modeling, to defining marine mammal habitats and coral bleaching," said Zdenka Willis, NOAA National Oceanographic Data Center director....

More on the ARC OA policy

Bernard Lane, Open access a threat to grants, The Australian, January 23, 2007.  Excerpt:

The historically low success rate for competitive grant applications could dip further as an unintended consequence of the move to open access publishing.

The Australian Research Council, which has just adopted its first policy to encourage grant winners to make their results widely and freely available, said open access was shifting publication costs to authors.

If authors were allowed to cover those costs from grant money, then a new administrative and financial burden would fall on agencies such as the ARC.

Funding agencies would have to estimate publication costs before giving a grant and would probably have to audit this expenditure at project's end, the ARC says in a new submission to the Productivity Commission's inquiry into public support for science and innovation.

"If the agencies' budgets were not supplemented to cover those costs in full, then the proportion of grant funding devoted to research activity would diminish," the ARC says....

Comment.  Don't confuse this with an objection to the current OA policy of the the Australian Research Council (ARC).  That policy (see Paragraph mandates OA through author self-archiving and does not offer to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals.  We can talk about whether the ARC could answer the objection if it decided that it wanted to pay those fees.  But for now that seems abstract and academic.  If an inquiry shows that ARC can't afford to start paying fees, then it shouldn't start.  The policy is fine as it stands and already takes the most important step by mandating OA archiving.

Defeat for early transition to public domain for orphan works

Quinn Norton, Kahle v. Gonzales: 9th Circuit says copyright orphans stay orphans, Wired News, January 22, 2007.  Excerpt:

In a move that's a blow to the U.S. movement to reform copyright law, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Internet Archive's Brewster Kahle, in his lawsuit to allow orphaned works into the public domain.

Rejecting the argument of Larry Lessig, the court decided the case was too  close to Lessig's Eldred copyright suit of 2002, and that's settled business:

Despite Plaintiffs' attempt to frame the issue in terms of the change from an opt-in to an opt-out system rather than in terms of extension, they make essentially the same argument, in different form, that the Supreme Court rejected in Eldred. It fails here as well....

Back in 2004, Kahle and Perlinger sought the help of the Stanford Cyberlaw Center to sue for an opt-in system on copyright of orphaned works. This would mean that to keep the work in copyright, someone would have to come forward and claim it through registration of some sort. Larry Lessig argued the case last November 13, 2006.

They believed that there was a First Amendment issue with works that sought to build on orphan works and that without the formality of opt-in, and that the system was creating a de-facto in perpetuity or near enough as make no odds perpetuity....

9th Circuit said no dice on either argument.  From here, Lessig could seek en banc review by a larger panel of judges.

Update. Here's a comment by Brewster Kahle, the plaintiff:


We argued that the "contours of copyright" had changed in 1976 by going from an Opt-in system to an Opt-out system and therefore the test the Supreme Court set out in its Eldred ruling (20 year extension is not enough of a change, it must change the "contour of copyright") is met and therefore the 1976 copyright act warrants First Amendment review.

In other words: "you have to put a (c) on a document and send it into the Library of Congress" (copyright of Thomas Jefferson from the founding) to a "you get copyright on every scribble and spew whether you want it or not, and, oh, it usually lasts over 100 years" (copyright sponsored by Disney circa 1976) has been ruled not a "change in the contours of copyright" according to Jerome Farris of the 9th Circuit.


So all spammers would be glad to hear that this court ruled that going from Opt-in to Opt-out is not a big difference. As I am not a lawyer, I must be missing something, but this does not seem to be good judging.

[Some links]

Update. Andrea Foster wrote a short article on the case for the January 24 Chronicle of Higher Education (accessible only to subscribers). One new piece of info:

Anthony Falzone, executive director of the center's Fair Use Project, said the archivists will probably ask for a rehearing of the case before a full panel of the appeals court's judges.

Update (1/25/07). Finally, see the comments of Lawrence Lessig, who argued the case for Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive.

Kahle v. Gonzales was decided Monday. After the oral argument, the result was not a surprise. The reasoning of the opinion, however, is. (I’m going to restrict these comments to part I of the opinion).

A clue that we were in for this sort of surprise was the question asked again and again by Chief Judge Schroeder, how was this case different from Eldred? This was one of those “huh?” moments in the argument. For sure, there was one similarity — I was arguing this case, and I argued Eldred. But beyond that similarity, the cases were plainly different....

Our claim in Kahle was fundamentally different. We were not arguing that First Amendment review should apply to a 200 year old tradition. We were instead asking that First Amendment review be applied to a radical change in that tradition. Beginning in 1976, Congress had changed perhaps the most significant tradition in American copyright law when it moved from an opt-in to an opt-out system. For 186 years, copyright applied only where the copyright holder took affirmative steps to claim it. That requirement profoundly affected the scope and reach of copyright. Our claim was not that Congress couldn’t make such a change. But instead, it was simply that any such change must be tested under the First Amendment....

Public domain promotes efficient exploitation better than copyright

Paul J. Heald, Property Rights and the Efficient Exploitation of Copyrighted Works: An Empirical Analysis of Public Domain and Copyrighted Fiction Best Sellers, a preprint self-archived on January 9, 2007.  (Thanks to Lawrence Lessig.) 

Abstract:   Economists and policymakers have recently defended the extension of copyright protection to assure the efficient exploitation of existing works. They assert that works in the public domain may be under-exploited due to the lack of property rights or over-exploited due to congestion externalities. This study compares the availability, number of editions, and prices of 166 public domain bestsellers published from 1913-1922 with 168 copyrighted bestsellers from 1923-1932. It also compares the 20 most durable public domain works from 1913-1922 with the 20 most durable protected works from 1923-1932. A significantly higher percentage of the public domain books are still in print, with significantly more editions available per book, and for the sub-set of especially durable works, the public domain works are significantly less expensive. Although the data show that rates of availability for both kinds of books are likely sensitive to reductions in the cost of duplication and distribution, the study concludes that protection of fiction beyond the period necessary to ensure its creation is not justified by concerns about under-exploitation. The possibility of congestion presented by the data is also considered.

Looking for OA copies of needed articles

Sarah Washford, Free Journal Articles, Info Junkie, January 22, 2007.  Excerpt:

...When we receive an article request in our interlibrary loan department we tend to send it straight to the British Library and usually a quality scan appears in my inbox within 24 hours.... Today I received a list of article requests from a reader that were all from medical journals and decided to investigate whether any could be obtained free online - I found 4 of the 8 and thus saved us approx £20. I also saved the reader £6.00 in request charges which I'm sure she appreciated....I can't believe that I'm the only one who doesn't usually have time to hunt down journal websites in case there may be a free copy of an article out there somewhere....

[H]ow many students and public library authorities are paying for articles that they could get for free? How easy is it to find free articles? Is PubMedCentral a unique site or are there similar sites out there for other subjects? ...

Open science today and tomorrow

Bill Hooker, The Future of Science is Open, Part 3: An Open Science World, 3 Quarks Daily, January 22, 2007.  Excerpt:

In Parts one and two, I talked about the scholarly practice of Open Access publishing, and about how the central concept of "openness", or knowledge as a public good, is being incorporated into other aspects of science.  I suggested that the overall practice (or philosophy, or movement) might be called Open Science, by which I mean the process of discovery at the intersection of Open Access (publishing), Open Data, Open Source (software), Open Standards and Open Licensing....

Here I want to move from ideas to applications, and take a look at what kinds of Open Science are already happening and where such efforts might lead....

By way of analogy, think about what the Web has made possible, and ask yourself: how much of that could you have predicted in, say, 1991, when Sir Tim wrote the first browser?  Actually, "infancy" being a generous term for the developmental state of Open Science, a better analogy probably reaches further back: how much of what the internet has made possible could anyone have predicted when ARPANET first met NSFnet?  Given that last link, for instance, would you have seen Wikipedia coming?  How about eBay,, RSS, blogs, YouTube, Google Maps, or insert-your-own-favorite amazing web site/service/application? ...

Sequence data (such as mRNA, genomic DNA and protein sequences) have long been the leading edge of large-scale collaborative science, largely because early competition among public and private organizations resulted in a series of groundbreaking agreements on public data sharing....

Donat Agosti recently pointed to three related projects: Biotext, which builds text mining tools; EBIMed, which analyses Medline search results and presents associations between gene names and several other databases; and the Arrowsmith Project, which allows semantic comparison between two search-defined sets of PubMed articles.  The latter also maintains a list of free online text mining tools, which currently includes several dozen sites offering tools for a variety of purposes, although the majority are still focused on Medline and/or sequence databases. These sorts of tools are not only useful, they are likely to become essential....

Happily, there is a better [form of impact analysis than Impact Factors] just over the Open Access horizon.  Once a majority of published research is available in machine-readable OA databases, the community can get out from under Thomson's thumb and improve scientific bibliometrics in a host of different ways.   Shadbolt et al. list more than two dozen improvements that OA will make possible....

As the body of OA literature expands, these and similar tools will provide a far more reliable and equitable means of comparing researchers and research groups with their peers than is currently available, and will also facilitate the identification of trends and gaps in research focus.  The downstream effects of increased efficiency in managing and carrying out research will be profound....

[I]t's possible to do fully Open Science, publishing day-to-day results (including all raw data) in an online lab notebook.  I know it's possible because Jean-Claude Bradley is doing it; he calls it Open Notebook Science.  His lab's shared notebook is the UsefulChem wiki, which is supplemented by the UsefulChem blog for project discussion and the UsefulChem Molecules blog, a database of molecules related to their work.  There is nothing to prevent Jean-Claude from publishing traditional articles whenever he has the kind of "story" that is required for that format, but in the meantime all of his research output is captured and made available to the world.  Importantly, this includes information which would never otherwise have been published -- negative results, inconclusive results, things which simply don't fit into the narrative of any manuscript he prepares, and so on.  Being on a third-party hosted wiki, the notebook entries have time and date stamps which can establish priority if that should be necessary; version tracking provides another layer of authentication....

If I've managed to pique anyone's interest, I recommend reading Peter Suber's Open Access News and anything else that takes your fancy from the "open access/open science" section of my blogroll....

PS:  Unfortunately I had to cut most of Hooker's well-chosen examples, details, and links in order to make this excerpt.  See the whole article.  And while you're at it, read it in the context of the first two installments:

OA to international air pollution data

The UN Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) now includes a policy on OA to convention-collected data.  From the January 17 report of the Executive Body on the convention: 

Intent on implementing article 7 (Research and development) and article 8 (Exchange of information) of the Convention, and mindful of article 5 (Public awareness) of the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol,

Bearing in mind that sharing of scientific and technical knowledge has been essential for the agreement and implementation of protocols and believing that future development of the Convention will rely upon output from its scientific and technical bodies, ...

Affirming that the Convention’s use of scientific and technical data should be open and transparent to all,

Noting, however, that issues such as intellectual property rights and commercial restrictions may affect the availability of some national data,

1. Decides that scientific and technical data submitted by Parties or their national focal centres shall be publicly available at programme centres....

There are a few exceptions beyond the vague deference to copyright:  OA may be delayed if one of the parties can justify delay, and data centers may charge for access when requested datasets "are not readily available".

(Thanks to Tomme Rosanne Young and Donat Agosti for the tip.) 

Short, modular, and open

Tim O'Reilly, The Connection Between Short, Modular and Open, O'Reilly Radar, January 22, 2007.  Excerpt:

...While movie studios were protecting their two-hour movies from redistribution on the net, viewers are forming new habits on new devices [with short YouTube clips]. The medium changes the format in which content is delivered.

I think about this a lot in the context of publishing. The web has put a premium on short-form content, both because it's easier to read in the ADD style that today's interrupt-driven technology is driving us towards, and because it's easier to build collaboratively. This is why some of O'Reilly's most successful new publishing projects...are all built around short-form content.

In this regard, I was interested to see Lawrence Solum make the same observation about legal writing on the web:

This Article analyzes the shift of legal scholarship from the old world of law reviews to today's world of peer reviews to tomorrow's world of open access legal blogs. This shift is occurring in three dimensions. First, legal scholarship is moving from the long form (treatises and law review articles) to the short form (very short articles, blog posts, and online collaborations). Second, a regime of exclusive rights is giving way to a regime of open access. Third, intermediaries (law school editorial boards, peer-reviewed journals) are being supplemented by disintermediated forms (papers on the Internet, blogs). Blogs and internet conversations between academics are expanding interdisciplinary legal scholarship and increasing the avenues of communication among legal scholars, practitioners and a wide array of interested laypersons worldwide.

Solum is particularly insightful to link short form content and increased participation. I long ago noted that one of the under-appreciated elements in the success of open source software projects was their modular design, which is an essential element of what I've elsewhere called an architecture of participation. It's easier for people to collaborate around small chunks, and to build up larger works piece by piece, than it is for them to work together on a large, complex project with many dependencies....

Monday, January 22, 2007

Selective free online access to AnthroSource

Anthropologists give back: offer wider access to online anthropology archive, a press release from the American Anthropological Association, January 19, 2007.  (Thanks to Dorothea Salo.)

With a view to enabling teachers and their students at resource-poor institutions of higher learning around the world to access a vast online archive of anthropological research, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) announced today that it will offer its digital publications portal, AnthroSource, free of charge to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges, and qualifying institutions from less developed countries. The long-planned initiative is effective immediately.

The principal motivation behind the initiative, AAA officials note, is justice. At present, more than 90% of the roughly 145 HBCUs and Tribal Colleges in the United States and Canada do not subscribe to AnthroSource, a circumstance that deprives thousands of students in marginalized areas of North America access to 100 years of anthropological content, including the most recent issues of 15 peer-reviewed journals. AAA president Alan Goodman, one of the chief promoters of the initiative, declared that "Nothing - especially financial hardship - should stand in the way of these communities using AnthroSource to access anthropological scholarship. Our initiative is entirely consistent with the mission of the AAA - to disseminate anthropological knowledge." ...

Free or low-cost access will also be offered to eligible institutions in 113 less developed countries participating in the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI), managed by the World Health Organization in partnership with more than 60 publishers....

A recurring theme in the AAA's deliberations on offering free access to AnthroSource was the notion of "giving back" to those who have given anthropology so much. Leith Mullings, a member of the AAA Executive Board, observed that "Anthropologists have been studying subordinated communities for years. The people in these communities have given our discipline its voice, its beauty, and its richness. They took us into their homes, trusted us, and supported our work. While these are gifts that can perhaps never be repaid, sharing the fruits of our collaboration with them through AnthroSource may help nurture future scholars in these communities." ...


  • AnthroSource now has the advantages and disadvantages of the HINARI-style access policy.  It's better than TA for everyone, but not as good as OA for everyone. 
  • Is it a coincidence that "justice" leads the AAA to donate subscriptions only where it can't sell them?  The argument from justice would be stronger if the AAA permitted immediate OA archiving for articles arising from publicly-funded research and if it withdrew its opposition to FRPAA
  • For background, the AAA publicly opposed FRPAA in May 2006, without consulting its members. When the AnthroSource Steering Committee supported FRPAA in an internal memo, eventually made public, the AAA leadership disbanded the committee.

Update. Here are some anthropologist bloggers talking about the new development.

Searching tables, graphs, and illustrations

Marydee Ojala, Searching Scholarly Tables, Figures, Graphs, and Illustrations with CSA Illustrata, Information Today NewsBreaks, January 22, 2007.

CSA Illustrata is a new resource from CSA that provides deep indexing to the tabular and other graphic information published within scholarly articles. Running on the CSA Illumina platform, CSA Illustrata allows researchers to explicitly search for information presented in tables, charts, graphs, maps, photographs, and other figures. Users can view the full object (including all caption and label text), save marked results, and import the illustrations into presentations, lectures, or research. The first database available in the Illustrata product line is CSA Illustrata: Natural Sciences. Journals from Blackwell Publishing, CSA's development partner, contribute the bulk of the scholarly articles, although other publishers also contributed articles.

This is a product that has been in development for at least 2 years. It was extensively tested, with a "proof of concept" research project headed by Carol Tenopir, Robert J. Sandusky, and Margaret M. Casado (The University of Tennessee-Knoxville)....Their executive summary is online and the 90-page CSA Illustrata White Paper can be requested....

The sticking point, most agree, is price. As one science librarian from a large public university said, "It's seductive, but I wonder if I'll be able to afford it."...

Comment. It's not free to use and apparently it's not even close.  I post the news here mainly to show what's possible.  On the one hand, I hope there will be a free rival one day, optimized for OA literature.  On the other, that's just the flip side of saying that this seems to be a very useful tool.  (I hedge only because I haven't used it.)  CSA is to be commended for taking on this hard problem.

Update. Here's a comment by Matt Cockerill, publisher of BioMed Central. I post it with his permission.

It may be worth noting in passing that CSA Illustrata includes BioMed Central content.

And that this is an interesting example of the value of CC Attribution licenses (such as those used by BMC and PLoS). Unlike the OA options of some other publishers, our CC Attribution license explicitly allows commercial use such as this.

'OA' content from several other publishers cannot be included in Illustrata since they use a non-commercial variant of Creative Commons, making it impossible or impractical for the data to be included in a product without the publisher's consent.

It's seems clear that limiting commercial use in this way is likely to reduce the scope for commercial innovation in developing better tools to access that OA content.

Old OA journal still in demand

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., 2006 PACS Review Use Statistics, DigitalKoans, January 21, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Public-Access Computer Systems Review (PACS Review) was a freely available e-journal, which I founded in 1989. It allowed authors to retain their copyrights, and it had a liberal copyright policy for noncommercial use. It’s last issue was published in 1998.

In 2006, there were 763,228 successful requests for PACS Review files, 2,091 average successful requests per day, 751,264 successful requests for pages, and 2,058 average successful requests for pages per day....

PS:  It's surprisingly difficult to come up with a single good adjective for an OA journal that's no longer publishing new articles but still serving up access to old articles.  It's not dead, defunct, departed, terminated, bygone, inoperative, inactive, or quondam.  So forgive my awkward headline while I keep hunting for the best word.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The growth of OA anthropology in 2006

2006 - The Year of Open Access Anthropology?, January 21, 2007.  Excerpt:

2005 was the year anthropology finally became visible on the internet. 2006 was the year of a more public, political and open access anthropology?

More and more anthropologists want to make their research available online....The bloggers at Savage Minds and campaigned for more open access with New Open Access Anthropology Website, mailing list, chat and t-shirts including a blog.

A new Open Access journal called After Culture - Emergent Anthropologies was announced and a few months ago, I've discovered Anpere - Anthropological Perspectives on Religion another new Open Access Anthropology Journal and shortly afterwards lots of new theses on indigenous research in MUNIN - the digital library of the University in Tromsø (Northern Norway).

Earlier, the American Anthropological Society was heavily criticized for its opposition to Open Access. Concerning their reluctance to use digital technology to disseminate knowledge, Jane Mejdahl from the new Danish Anthropology group blog Matters Out Of Place wondered if anthropologists were the last primitive tribe on earth. To promote anthropological blogging, established the first Anthropology Blog Carnival....

PS:  See my own coverage of OA anthropology in 2006.

More on permission barriers in art history

André Gunthert, Le droit aux images à l'ère de la publication électronique, Actualités de la recherche en histoire visuelle, January 17, 2007.  On the permission barriers that prevent art journals and art books from including essential illustrations.  Read the French original or Google's English.

Thanks to Klaus Graf for the alert and for a collection of useful related links. 

For background, see the August 2006 Chronicle of Higher Education story on the same problem (blogged here August 9, 2006), which is also cited in Gunthert's article.

Notes from the SPARC-ARL forum at the ALA meeting

The pseudonymous author at Never Stop Learning has blogged some notes about the SPARC-ARL forum, Public Access: Federal Research Access Policies and How They'll Change Your Library (January 20), at the ALA Midwinter Meeting (Seattle, January 19-24, 2007).  Excerpt:

(I arrived late to the session and missed the first speaker's presentation [PS: David Pershing, Senior Vice-President for Academic Affairs, University of Utah])

Carl T. Bergstrom, Dept. of Biology at the University of Washington spoke about "Fostering a Culture of Open Access"

Benefits to academics of open access: Authors attain a broader distribution of their work which, in turn, will bring them higher citation rates, global accessibility and make their work available beyond academia. Readers attain instant access to what one wants to read as well as accessibility via a very power search and indexing. He also cited the economic benefits of OA to publishers in a subscription model, to publishers (and readers) in the author pays model.

He posed the question do authors self-archive their publications? He described a study of the top ten economics journals that seemed to indicate that in most cases (9 of 10) one could find the articles published in them freely available on the Internet. In the field of physics, about 95% of articles published in the top journals are freely available on the Internet. But in political science and evolutionary biology the percentages are strikingly lower. He hypothesized that the difference between fields is differences in the publishing and information sharing cultures of each discipline....

He's working on a project that seeks to create a criterion for judging article relevance other than impact factor (which he feels is not a good proxy for journal influence). His [criterion], eigenfactor uses the entire network of links similar to Google's page rank process. The Eigenfactor process allows judgements to be made of how much time researchers spend with each journal. It also allows an examination of cross-disciplinary citation and the impact of non-journal publications in various fields. It includes journals that are not included in the ISI index at all....

Ellen Duranceau presented on "Eight Principles for an Emerging Ecosystem"

The idea of the "commons" is not a new one, just updated thanks to new communication technology.

She's taken Simon Levin's eight principles (Fragile Dominion) for maintaining the ecological system and what he calls the biological commons and applied them to the information commons.

1. Reduce uncertainty: move beyond traditional services and systems. Provide support for the OA repository, for faculty publishing in the OA domain. This can come from faculty but should also come from administrators....

3. Maintain heterogeneity: resilience is necessary because there will be no single model to support OA in the near future....

8. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you....

Sorting out the variables within the OA impact advantage

Stevan Harnad, The Open Access Citation Advantage: Quality Advantage Or Quality Bias? Open Access Archivangelism, January 21, 2007.  Excerpt:

Summary:  Many studies have now reported the positive correlation between Open Access (OA) self-archiving and citation counts ("OA Advantage," OAA). But does this OAA occur because (QB) authors are more likely to self-selectively self-archive articles that are more likely to be cited (self-selection "Quality Bias": QB)? or because (QA) articles that are self-archived are more likely to be cited ("Quality Advantage": QA)? The probable answer is both. Three studies [by (i) Kurtz and co-workers in astrophysics, (ii) Moed in condensed matter physics, and (iii) Davis & Fromerth in mathematics] had reported the OAA to be due to QB [plus Early Advantage, EA, from self-archiving the preprint before publication, in (i) and (ii)] rather than QA. These three fields, however, (1) have less of a postprint access problem than most other fields and (i) and (ii) also happen to be among the minority of fields that (2) make heavy use of prepublication preprints. Chawki Hajjem has now analyzed preliminary evidence based on over 100,000 articles from multiple fields, comparing self-selected self-archiving with mandated self-archiving to estimate the contributions of QB and QA to the OAA. Both factors contribute, and the contribution of QA is greater.