Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Combining OA and tech transfer

The Kauffman Foundation launched the iBridge Network on Tuesday at the DEMO 07 conference.  (Thanks to Science Commons.)  From the press release (January 30, 2007):

Searching for the “missing link” to research just got easier....University researchers, industry representatives, and entrepreneurs can use the iBridge Web site to search for innovations that, until now, have been lost and untapped behind university walls.

With over 700 research projects listed, the iBridge Web site, is fast becoming the place for researchers and technology transfer officers to post research from their universities, as well as the place to go to find research occurring at other institutions. The Web site is designed to ease the transaction burden on university technology transfer offices and encourage more open and efficient access to research....

Universities may use the iBridge Web site to license and distribute a variety of items, including software, research tools, databases, teaching materials, surveys, and reference materials. Postings may include a variety of research materials and descriptions of ongoing research activities....

The iBridge Network also expands the number and scope of collaborative relationships among university researchers by increasing their awareness of existing research across the country. These relationships are a critical component in advancing innovations.

“Universities are tremendous wellsprings of knowledge,” said Laura Dorival Paglione, Director of the Kauffman Innovation Network, which manages the iBridge Network. “By encouraging widespread access to information and linking researchers with interested parties, we are hoping to more fully realize the innovation potential that research offers.”

In fact, the current lack of collaboration among university researchers is remarkable. According to the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), over $40 billion is spent on academic research annually, though only $1 billion makes it off of university shelves in the form of new inventions and research. Even a modest improvement in accessibility and transparency has the potential to yield huge social and economic returns....

PS:  From my quick tour of the site, it appears that the iBridge Network doesn't provide OA to peer-reviewed research articles but to specially written, detailed descriptions of patented, licensable discoveries and technologies.

"Stepping on a legal landmine from a previous war"

Daniel Terdiman interviews Brewster Kahle for, January 31, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Recently, Kahle visited CNET's Second Life auditorium for a discussion in front of an eager audience about [Kahle v. Gonzales], as well as about the Internet Archive, Nicholas Negroponte's $100 laptop project and other issues....

How do you deal with the copyright issues [at the Internet Archive]?

Kahle: For the Web, we followed the structure of the search engines and the opt-out system for doing the first-level archiving. If folks write to us not wanting to be archived, then we take them out. For music, we offered free unlimited storage and bandwidth, forever....

With packaged software, our lawyers told us that digital rights management (DRM) would pose a problem under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), so we got an exemption from the copyright office allowing us to rip software and break the copy protection for archival purposes. With books, we are starting with out-of-copyright (works) and wanting to move to orphan works, then out-of-print works, then finally in-print (works). We digitize 12,000 books a month and have 100,000 on the site now for free use and download. But we just had a setback. Larry Lessig brought a suit on our behalf, Kahle v. Gonzales, to allow orphan works to be on digital library shelves. But the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals just rejected it.

Can you talk more about Kahle v. Gonzalez?

Kahle: Fundamentally, this is an issue for the Supreme Court and the Congress. What kind of world do we want in the digital era? ...[H]ow do we build a digital environment and ecology that allows new works to get created and paid for, preserve them long-term, provide access to the underprivileged, provide a different kind of access for scholarship and journalism and all in the new world. It is not simple. But it is important.

Talk about book-scanning projects currently going on.

Kahle: There are a couple of major scanning projects in this country: Google is leading one, and a large group of libraries and archives are working together on another. Also, there's the Open Content Alliance, which is attempting to keep the public domain public domain, so if a book passes into the public domain, the digital version is not locked up again as a copyrighted work. There are other projects that are putting perpetual restrictions on what can be done with digitized public domain works.

That's a bit scary from my point of view. We need help keeping the libraries open and unencumbered by new restrictions on public domain works....

Who are the natural "enemies" of the Internet Archive?

Kahle: Everyone seems to like the idea of preservation of cultural materials. But folks are nervous about disruptions in commercial practices that are just now getting formed. Libraries and publishing, however, have always existed in parallel. What happened is that some overzealous copyright laws got passed with heavy lobbying from folks like Disney and these are screwing things up. I think of it as collateral damage. Instead of keeping just Mickey Mouse or just the profitable works under copyright for longer, they fundamentally changed the structure of copyright. So the problem we find mostly is not that we are stepping on toes, it's that we run the risk of stepping on a legal landmine from a previous war....

Open licensing for university medical research

Samantha Chaifetz and four co-authors, Closing the access gap for health innovations: an open licensing proposal for universities, Globalization and Health, February 1, 2007.  Abstract:

Background.  This article centers around a proposal outlining how research universities could leverage their intellectual property to help close the access gap for health innovations in poor countries. A recent deal between Emory University, Gilead Sciences, and Royalty Pharma is used as an example to illustrate how equitable access licensing could be put into practice.

Discussion.  While the crisis of access to medicines in poor countries has multiple determinants, intellectual property protection leading to high prices is well-established as one critical element of the access gap. Given the current international political climate, systemic, government-driven reform of intellectual property protection seems unlikely. Therefore, we propose that public sector institutions, universities chief among them, adopt a modest intervention --an Equitable Access License (EAL)-- that works within existing trade-law and drug-development paradigms in order to proactively circumvent both national and international obstacles to generic medicine production. Our proposal has three key features: (1) it is prospective in scope, (2) it facilitates unfettered generic competition in poor countries, and (3) it centers around universities and their role in the biomedical research enterprise. Two characteristics make universities ideal agents of the type of open licensing proposal described. First, universities, because they are upstream in the development pipeline, are likely to hold rights to the key components of a wide variety of end products. Second, universities acting collectively have a strong negotiating position with respect to other players in the biomedical research arena. Finally, counterarguments are anticipated and addressed and conclusions are drawn based on how application of the Equitable Access License would have changed the effects of the licensing deal between Emory and Gilead.

OA and strong collaboration

Larry Sanger, How to Think about Strong Collaboration among Professionals, a talk at the Handelsblatt IT Congress.  Sanger is the co-founder of Wikipedia and founder of Citizendium.  Excerpt:

...What I want to talk about now is how we might organize professionals from many different companies and from many different countries to collaborate on information resources that everyone can use, presumably for free. For example, imagine an international federation of journalists getting together to exchange information and summarize ongoing news stories, so that they (and everyone else) could find the latest information about a developing story by looking in one place, rather than having to read many different articles....

What’s really exciting to me is that a growing number of professionals are interested in exploring these possibilities. In the last two or three years I have been approached by quite a few different people and groups, from many different fields, who are interested in starting broad-based, open collaborations for different professional communities and for different purposes....

One of my main objections to Wikipedia is not that it is too open, or too collaborative, but simply that the system makes no special roles for experts. I think it is possible to have a very open and strongly collaborative system that has special roles for people who know a lot about a field.

In fact, that’s what I’m trying to accomplish with a new project that I first announced last September in Berlin, called the Citizendium....

I want to conclude by telling you a story, a science fiction story. What would our future look like ten years down the road, if strong collaboration among professionals were then thriving on a massive scale? It might look like this. You’ll have to forgive as I now let my imagination run wild.

“It is now the year 2017. There have been practically unimaginable amounts of information on the Internet since the early 2000s, but much of it has been of questionable quality. In recent years, however, professional collaborations have created huge amounts of reliable information, and this information is free and easy to find....

“In education, at the primary, secondary, and university levels, the tools of the trade have undergone a complete revolution. Because there are tens of millions of high-quality, expert-approved encyclopedia articles, students and teachers can find reliable information on every topic they study amazingly quickly. These articles are integrated with original sources, all of which are available digitally now....

“Most of us no longer spend much time finding or organizing information, because that is already done for us by an international army of collaborators; we spend our time, instead, directly accessing and personally making sense of the information....

“The profoundly easy access to every sort of information now in 2017 has made us view information less as a proprietary thing, controlled by powerful elites, and more as a shared thing, like oxygen, open to whomever is interested in it. And since there is so little friction in discovering what is known in a field, innovation has accelerated even faster than it had been in previous generations.

“But arguably the most stunning impact of the collaborative revolution has been on India, China, and increasingly, many other countries in the developing world. In every corner of the world with access to the Internet, a new Enlightenment is taking place, because the intellectuals in each different country of the world are no longer confined to their own books and magazines and the few that they are able to import from abroad. They have access to the same information as the stock broker in New York City, and the college professor at Oxford, and the computer programmer in Berlin....

OA and university ownership of faculty research

Robert C. Denicola, Copyright and Open Access: Reconsidering University Ownership of Faculty Research, Nebraska Law Review, 85 (2006) pp. 351ff.  (Thanks to Current copyright literature.)  The article is not online, at least so far, and the link only points to a scan of the first page.

Update. Thanks to Carol Hutchins I can provide this excerpt from Denicola's conclusion:

It is unrealistic to expect authors to solve the problem by bargaining harder with publishers over copyrights. The benefits of retaining copyright are too abstract to prompt individual authors to risk a good placement, and the bargaining leverage in any event is with the publishers. However, universities could claim what they probably already own by invoking their rights under the work-made-for-hire doctrine, and they could do it in a manner that poses no threat to the interests of their faculty. Armed with a right to authorize electronic access to the entire research output of their faculties, universities could facilitate the development of comprehensive open-access repositories, or at least extract significant concessions from publishers.

Results of CLIR's census of IRs

Kathlin Smith, U.S. Institutional Repositories: A Census, CLIR Issues, January/February 2007.  Excerpt:

...Recent studies have told us something about where and how IRs are being established. For example, we know that most IRs have been created at research institutions, and that the library typically staffs and pays for them. But what do we know about the vast number of institutions that do not yet have IRs? How many are planning to develop an IR? Why or why not? What do we know about IRs at institutions that have a teaching focus?

A new report from CLIR, Census of Institutional Repositories in the United States, addresses these questions. The study, written by Karen Markey, Soo Young Rieh, Beth St. Jean, Jihyun Kim, and Elizabeth Yakel, of the University of Michigan School of Information, will be available in mid-February [here]....

The Census is the first step in a longer-term undertaking, called the MIRACLE (Making Institutional Repositories a Collaborative Learning Environment) Project....The main objective of the project is to identify factors contributing to the success of IRs and effective ways of accessing and using them....

The MIRACLE Project team sent surveys to library directors at 2,147 institutions —representing all university main libraries and colleges, except for community colleges, in the United States. About 21% participated in the census. More than half of the responding institutions (53%) have done no IR planning. Twenty percent have begun to plan, 16% are actively planning and pilot testing IRs, and 11% have implemented an operational IR....

At the same time, the census offers a wealth of new insights. For example, the main reasons institutions have not begun IR planning are that they are focused on other priorities, are concerned that they have no resources or expertise for IR planning, or want to assess what others are doing before initiating an IR. Few cite lack of interest in IRs as a top reason for failing to undertake IR planning; in fact, the survey reveals that half of those who have not begun planning intend to do so within 24 months. This finding leads the authors to conclude that there is a “sleeping beast of demand for IRs from master’s and baccalaureate institutions.” ...

More on the AAP

Owen Dyer, Publishers hire PR heavyweight to defend themselves against open access, BMJ, February 3, 2007.  Only the first 150 words are OA, and I don't have access to the rest.  Here's the opening paragraph:

A new public relations campaign to be launched by the American Association of Publishers will equate open access to scientific journal articles with government censorship....

Review of EPrints 3.0

Peter Millington and William J. Nixon, EPrints 3 Pre-Launch Briefing, Ariadne, January 2007.  Excerpt:

The EPrints 3 unwrapped event at the Congress Centre in London [December 8, 2006] was billed as 'an early Christmas present' and was an opportunity for the EPrints community to enjoy a preview of EPrints 3 (hereafter referred to as EP3) scheduled for release at the end of January 2007....


All in all, EP3 looks like a significant improvement over the earlier versions and a significant milestone in the journey towards the ideal repository software. EP3 addresses real issues for repository managers such as controlling quality, encouraging the take-up of self-deposit and embedding the repository in the broader institutional context. The deposit process in particular has been made more usable and user-friendly, thus removing one of the deterrents to self-deposition.

The search and browse facilities are fundamentally much the same as before....

While installation appears to be a straightforward process, we have concerns about how easy it will be to migrate from heavily customised earlier versions but we understand that a migration tool is being developed....

EP3 looks like a feature-rich upgrade which builds on the success of the platform to date....

PS:  Congratulations to the whole EPrints team, especially Christopher Gutteridge.

BCLA's OA activity

Heather Morrison, The British Columbia Library Association Resolution on Open Access, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, February 2, 2007.

June 19, 2004 [is]...the date the British Columbia Library Association endorsed a Resolution on Open Access, one of the first library associations in the world to take this step (after IFLA, August 2002).

What is perhaps even more remarkable, given the vigorous debate at many an association, especially around that time, is that the Resolution was endorsed unanimously, with full support from BCLA members.

Since endorsement of the Resolution on Open Access, BCLA leaders have continually supported and advocated for open access, participating in Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research open access consultations with strong submissions in favour of open access.

Most recently, BCLA signed the EU Petition for Guaranteed Public Access to Publicly Funded Research Results.

On April 19, 2007 the BCLA conference will feature an all-day conference on open access, Beyond Limits: Building Open Access Collections....

The Resolutions developed by long-time policy leaders in the Information Policy Committee often start with a Salon. Many thanks to local open access leader John Willinsky for the IPC's first Salon on Open Access, in September 2003....

PS:  BCLA has an admirable track record on OA.  Its members have good reason to be proud.

OA initiatives for French mathematics

Véronique Cohoner, Françoise Dal'Bo, and Liliane Zweig, Les publications mathématiques: panorama et synthèse sur une situation en évolution, Les publications en mathématiques, February 2, 2007.  New initiatives for distributing mathematical research in France, especially OA initiatives.  (Thanks to the INIST Libre Accès blog.)

Friday, February 02, 2007

February SOAN

I just mailed the February issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue takes a close look at the momentum for OA mandates in January and the 12 provisions of FRPAA and the NIH policy most likely to be overlooked or distorted by opponents. The round-up section briefly notes 67 OA developments from January.

Statement from the EUA Working Group on OA

The European University Association's Working Group on Open Access has released a Statement on Open Access, January 26, 2007.  Here it is in its entirety:

The European University Association (EUA) has established a “Working Group on Open Access” as a European platform of expert opinion to provide both a voice for, and visibility to European universities as major stakeholders in the policy debate. Its mission is dual-fold: (i) to raise awareness of the importance of the open access issue to the wider university community, both in terms of its impact upon the research process and its financial implications for university libraries; and (ii) to develop a common strategy for the university sector on key selected issues to be presented to policy-makers.

The EUA Working Group seeks to build upon the important momentum given to the Open Access debate by the findings and recommendations of the “Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publications Markets in Europe” (European Commission, January 2006) and to support strongly the recent “ERC Scientific Council Statement on Open Access” and the EURAB Report on “Scientific Publication: Policy on Open Access” (both published December 2006).

Five groups of “priority issues” have been identified by the EUA Working Group on Open Access as the foci of its work. In forwarding these issues, the EUA Working Group will work with and build upon the basis of available expert opinion and good practices (rather than develop new home grown products).

  1. Universities’ public role and responsibility as “guardians” of research knowledge/results as “public goods” – the preparation of statements and positions addressed to academic authors, and to public funding bodies.
  2. The need for well-functioning open access repositories and networking between them (on the basis of common standards) for archiving purposes as a viable alternative to other modes of publication in the digital world.
  3. Strengthening of legal rights position (non-exclusive copyright) and related legal requirements through the promotion, advancement or encouragement of model copyright agreements at university/ institutional as well as individual researcher level.
  4. The promotion, advancement or encouragement of business models for publishing based upon open access principles.
  5. The promotion, advancement or encouragement of peer review and quality control mechanisms by academic researchers for open access journals.

The EUA Working Group on Open Access aims to rally expert opinion to develop “University Stakeholder Perspective” on these issues in European policy forums in 2007.

Also see the interview with Sijbolt Noorda that the EUA released yesterday.  Noorda is the chairperson the EUA Working Group Open Access as well as the chairperson of the VSNU.  Excerpt:

What is the open access debate about, and why is it important?

The digital world has changed the possibilities for publication, and made all information faster and easier to share. Scientific research should be able to benefit from this progress, and research results should be available to the wider public. Yet, unfortunately the publishing companies have so far not adapted and responded adequately to these needs.

What are the policy implications of this debate?

There needs to be a fairer balance between the interests of the academic community and the market interests of the publishers. Publishers have moved to the digital mode without lowering their prices or their access regulations. It is important to take action now to build on findings and recommendations on this topic that were published recently by the European Commission, the European Research Council and the European Research Advisory Board. This is a debate where EUA’s voice, representing so many universities across Europe, must be heard.

What are the main priorities for the EUA Working Group on Open Access?

Firstly, to ensure that universities are able to fulfil their public responsibility as guardians of research knowledge and results, and to provide public access to research results. A second priority is the great need for sharing practice on self-archiving and making better use of the tools of the digital world....


  1. Note that by supporting the recommendations of the EC report, the ERC statement, and the EURAB  proposal, the Working Group is supporting a Europe-wide OA mandate.  Kudos to Sijbolt Noorda and the other members of the group.  I hope the larger EUA will soon endorse the Working Group's statement and start persuading the EUA's member institutions to support EU-wide action and adopt their own local, institution-wide OA policies.
  2. I don't think the EUA Working Group on OA has its own web site yet.  But I'll blog one when I find one..

National day of action for OA and FRPAA

FreeCulture has declared February 15 a "National Day of Action" for students to support OA and FRPAA.  From yesterday's announcement:, the international student movement for free culture, in collaboration with the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), today announced that February 15, 2007 will be a "National Day of Action" for students that support open sharing of scientific and scholarly research findings on the Internet. Events nationwide will highlight the importance of taxpayer access to publicly funded research and rally support for Congressional passage of the Federal Research Public Access Act. The day also marks the fifth anniversary of the landmark Budapest Open Access Initiative, when the worldwide open access movement first took form, and will be supported by the launch of a new Web resource and petition for public access, produced jointly by and the ATA.... and its 36 chapters nationwide [in the US] joins 72 other members of the ATA, 132 university and college presidents and provosts, and thousands of taxpayers, patients, researchers, and librarians that have voiced support for the legislation.

"Students are researchers, and were among the first groups to recognize the vast benefits of open access," said Gavin Baker, director of's Open Access project and author of a University of Florida student senate resolution in support of the Cornyn-Lieberman public access bill. "Since many of their professors, advisors, and colleagues have conducted their work with the benefit of federal grants, it makes sense that this work should be freely circulated and built upon. Students have coordinated their efforts on a national level to formalize their strong belief that public access to research is the way to move forward."

"Improving access to government-funded research results is critical to advancing science," said David Minh, a University of California San Diego graduate student who serves on the coordinating committee for Universities Allied for Essential Medicines....

"Students adding their considerable energy and significant weight to the momentum behind the issue is yet another sign of the strength and breadth of support for public access to research results," said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, founder of the ATA)....

Campuses nationwide will be announcing individual events and support for the National Day of Action in the coming weeks. For more information, please visit the for Taxpayer Access student resource.

PS:  If your campus doesn't already have a chapter of FreeCulture, please find a way to spread the word about this initiative to your students.

When funders support journals

Leslie Chan, Frances Groen, and Jean-Claude Guédon, Study of the Feasibility of Open-Access Publishing For Journals Funded by SSHRC’s Aid to Scholarly and Transfer Journals Programme, SSHRC, August 15, 2006 (released online February 1, 2007).  From the summary of recommendations:

7. Regarding journalsSSHRC should mandate that all SSHRC-supported journals be made “green”;

8. Regarding authors:  SSHRC should strongly request all scholars whose research has been funded by SSHRC to self-archive their papers in suitable institutional repositories;

9. Regarding Institutional repositories:  SSHRC should collaborate with CARL (and other suitable associations) to promote the development of IR's, ensure their interoperability, and improve their role to preserve the Canadian scholarly heritage. SSHRC should also consider working with AUCC as well as the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and the Social Sciences to support self-archiving at the institutional level

10. SSHRC should conduct experiments with journal editors willing to explore epublishing and Open Access. In particular, they should permit experiments in risk-free circumstances to explore various business plans that may be better adapted to e-publishing. Experiments with existing OA journals and with transforming existing journals into OA publications should be carefully documented to help other journals move in this direction;

11. SSHRC should begin a pilot programme to help create a few new OA journals, either from scratch or from existing, toll-gated, journals, and to monitor the evolution of such journals for the next three years. In particular, the usage, visibility and citation rate of these journals could be properly tracked from its initial OA offering. Controlled comparison of the return on investment for OA journals and non-OA journals could then be made;

12. SSHRC supported journals should not ask from authors more rights than they need to function properly. In particular, they should not require rights that may interfere with legitimate educational use of articles;

13. SSHRC should educate authors about retaining their rights, in particular by pointing out tools such as the author's addendum promoted by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) or the various licensing options provided by Creative Commons;

14. SSHRC should distance itself from using paying subscribers as a reliable indicator of usage in the electronic world;

15. Peer review remains essential for Open Access journals;

16. Open Access Journals should provide SSHRC with the list of reviewers consulted in the previous year;

17. A broad range of on-line metrics should be applied to evaluate Open Access journals;

18. SSHRC should give priorities to Open Access journals that can demonstrate presence in multiple indexing and abstracting instruments; 19. SSHRC should establish a special funding category to permit the creation of new Open Access journals;

20. SSHRC should provide special funding to assist SSHRC-supported journals that want to convert into Open Access journals.

Comment.  This is new and welcome.  Funders worldwide increasingly recognize that when they support research, they should use their influence to steer the resulting work toward OA.  What's new here is that when funders support journals, they should also use their influence to steer the journals toward OA. 


I've been without internet connectivity for nearly 24 hours and will be working today from a cafe.  I'm further behind than usual and will need some time to catch up.  Thanks for understanding.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

New digitization and OA project at the Library of Congress

The Sloan Foundation has given the Library of Congress $2 million to digitize thousands of rare and brittle public domain books for OA.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  From yesterday's press release:

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today announced that the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded the Library of Congress a $2 million grant for a program to digitize thousands of public-domain works, with a major focus on at-risk "brittle books" and U.S. history volumes....

Past digitization projects have shied away from brittle books because of the condition of the materials, but "Digitizing American Imprints" intends to serve as a demonstration project of best practices for the handling and scanning of such vulnerable works....

"We are delighted to partner with the Library of Congress, the world's largest library, in this important digitization effort," said Doron Weber, program director at the Sloan Foundation. "A significant number of books from the Library's great collection will now be available to anyone in the world in an open, non-exclusive and non-profit setting, thus bringing the ideal of a universal digital library closer to reality." ...

Digitizing American Imprints will utilize the "Scribe" scanning technology of the Open Content Alliance....

Discussing the AAP PR campaign on campuses

New PR Campaign Against Open/Public Access Initiatives, an open letter from Karla Hahn and Prue Adler to the Directors of all ARL libraries, January 31, 2007.  Hahn is the Director of Scholarly Communication and Adler is the Associate Executive Director of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).  Excerpt:

In the last few days, amid growing criticism, broad attention has been directed to reports of a new public relations campaign sponsored by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) against public access initiatives concerning access to federally funded research and open access generally. Internal publisher documents leaked to reporters show that hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent by publishers to “develop simple messages (e.g., public access equals government censorship)” that are aimed at key decision makers....

This memo provides talking points to assist you and your staff in working with members of your campus community with regards to the recently disclosed publishers public relations campaign against open/public access initiatives and legislation concerning access to federally funded research....

Update. The ARL has released a slightly revised version of this text under the title, Issue Brief: AAP PR Campaign against Open Access and Public Access to Federally Funded Research. The new version is not cast as a letter to library directors.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

More blogger comments on the AAP

Here are a few more blogger comments on the AAP's new PR campaign against OA

From Mike Dunford at Questionable Authority:

...If these folks are worried enough to pay several hundred thousand dollars for [Dezenhall's] help, they clearly think that they have a lot to lose. Let's look at just what that might be....[The censorship] argument is definitely reality-challenged. The last time I checked, neither "selection" nor "self-promotion" comes anywhere close to meaning the same thing as "censorship." That's just a basic fact, and any attempt to argue otherwise represents an assault on both honesty and the English language....Second, the government isn't seeking to nationalize science any more than it already is. The problem from the perspective of the academic publishers is that the government already pays for a hell of a lot of science - NIH estimated that over 60,000 papers that were funded at least in part by specific NIH grants appeared in journals in 2003....[The peer-review argument] is just plain funny. There are already journals (like the PLoS collective) that are peer-reviewed to the same standard as any other scientific journal....

From Brock Tice at Virtually Shocking:

...Do you see what’s going on here? Simple, but bald-faced lies, repeated often. Peer review is not at all limited to “traditional publishing models.” PLoS is a great counterexample. Also, public access is not government censorship, especially if taxpayer dollars paid for the research. I’d call that getting what you pay for....Clearly these guys have hired an expert on crafting statements that seem reasonable but are actually quite deceptive and misleading. Based on the quotes from the involved publishers, they’re already drinking the kool-aid....

From Matt Wedel at Ask Doctor Vector:

...Oh, yeah, the last thing you'd want to do is defend your case on its merits. Which, if anyone was being honest, boil down to, "We've been bilking you suckers for decades with our monopoly on publishing and now that we've got some competition we're being exposed as the whiny money-grubbing pussies we are. And instead of coming up with some kind of justification for our continued existence we'll start a smear campaign."  What really torques me off is the blatant dishonesty. Big publishing = peer review. Right. Cuz none of the open access journals offer that. But then it doesn't matter to them if they're right. According to them, as long as they can get us on the defensive, it doesn't matter if we can discredit their statements....

Watch the road

Stevan Harnad, Pit-Bulls vs. Petitions: A Historic Time for Open Access, Open Access Archivangelism, January 30, 2007.  Excerpt:

Tempting as it is to keep chattering about pit-bulls and commercial venality we should perhaps refocus on something far, far more important and substantive that is going on at the moment. This is where today's real historic Open Access (OA) developments are transpiring:

The petition in support of the European Commission's Proposal to mandate OA self-archiving has already amassed 13,000 signatures in 13 days and is still growing. It is being signed not only by individual grassroots researchers but by universities, learned societies, scientific academies:...

The petition is also being signed by institutional libraries, research organisations and publishers:...

Please consult the petition's current updates as these figures are changing by the minute. (And if you or your organisation support the OA mandate proposals, please sign too.)

In addition to this petition in support of proposed mandates (of which the EC's is one, but of course the United States has a huge proposed mandate pending too: the FRPAA), the number of actually adopted mandates is growing steadily too (and will no doubt be accelerated by the growth of the EC petition):

ROARMAP now lists 58 registered OA policies, 27 mandates (21 adopted, 6 proposed)....

Third-party tools for PubMed

Over at Journalology, Matt Hodgkinson reviews a group of third-party tools for searching or mining PubMed.

Marketing an OA repository

Dominika Sokol, Developing Marketing Strategies for dLIST and the LIS Commons, in Richard Papik and Ingeborg Simon (eds.), Proceedings Bobcatsss 15th Symposium, Marketing of Information Services, Prague, 2007, pp. 454-463.  Self-archived January 30, 2007.

Abstract:   This paper, accompanied by a short workshop, introduces the development of marketing tools and strategies used to promote the LIS Commons and its basic infrastructure provided by dLIST.  dLIST – Digital Library of Information Science and Technology – was established at the University of Arizona in Tucson in 2002 as a cross-institutional, subject-based, open access digital archive for the Information Sciences, including Archives and Records Management, Library and Information Science, Information Systems, Museum Informatics, and other critical information infrastructures. dLIST currently contains approximately 800 documents and its registered user base has surpassed 1200. With the recent foundation of LIS Commons – an international consortium for scholarly communication in information science, dLIST has entered a new phase. The main goal of LIS Commons’ members (schools as well as individual researchers) is to encourage their faculty to use and further develop the cross-institutional, interdisciplinary repository based on dLIST. This task requires a new marketing strategy corresponding to the current competitive environment. The dLIST approach and effort to fulfil these needs is discussed. During the workshop the main structure, interface, and functions of dLIST will be introduced as a part of the dLIST marketing strategy.

OA to Pitt's Darlington Library

The University of Pittsburgh is digitizing is Darlington Library for OA.  See the details in the PittChronicle for January 8, 2007 (scroll to p. 3).  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  Excerpt:

From a ledger of Fort Pitt business transactions during the 1750s to early published accounts of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the treasures that make up Pitt’s Darlington Memorial Library soon will be accessible far beyond the library’s physical location on the Cathedral of Learning’s sixth floor.

Digitizing the Darlington library’s massive collection—comprising some 11,000 books, 3,000 photographs, hundreds of maps, letters, rare pamphlets, and other materials pertaining to the history of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Colonial America, and more—is the latest undertaking of Pitt’s Digital Research Library (DRL), part of the University Library System.

DRL’s goal is to make the Darlington material accessible and searchable online to scholars, researchers, and history buffs worldwide....

[Pittsburgh's University LIbrary System] is contributing digitized Darlington books to the Open Content Alliance, a collaborative effort by cultural, technology, nonprofit, and governmental organizations to build a permanent archive of multilingual digitized text and multimedia content.

The idea of making the entire Darlington Library available to people worldwide is exciting to Galloway.

“Once you digitize books and other materials and put them online, their usage increases tenfold, maybe even higher,” he says.

Journal cost v. journal downloads, usage, or impact

Jan Velterop, Value Perception, The Parachute, January 30, 2007.  Excerpt:

...From comments I come across on email lists and blogs, I detect two – conflicting – trends. One is the growing tendency to put a value on a journal according to the number of article downloads; the other a desire to base journal pricing on the actual production cost, i.e. the actual cost to the publisher of publishing an article.

Why are these trends conflicting? ...[The conflict] lies in the fact that production costs and downloads have no relation whatsoever....The cost of coaching an article through the peer-review process and of publishing it is independent of the number of downloads or other usage metrics it clocks up once published. It can be argued that one of the woes of the current subscription model is that it already has some characteristics of a cost-based model. Those characteristics are largely responsible for the price spiral of the last decade. There hasn’t been a concomitant income spiral for publishers. Due to unremitting annual cancellation rounds, if publishers wanted or needed to maintain the same income to keep a journal going, they had to secure that income from fewer subscriptions. Year on year. Voilà, the serials crisis. Not to be repeated or exacerbated, I would have thought.

The problem with value based on downloads or usage is different. The beauty of journals is that the decision to publish any given article is purely a scientific one, taken by the editors. Commerce doesn’t come into it. Should value be defined by downloads, then it is inevitable that decisions to publish will be influenced by the perceived ‘download potential’ of articles....

Open access publishing offers solutions. The process of peer-reviewing and formal publishing is valued, rather than usage. Costs are proportional to research activity. Esoteric and difficult to understand science has no problem being published. And, most important of all, anybody, anywhere, who wants or needs the material, has unimpeded access to it.

More on OA for legal scholarship

Tim Armstrong, Open Access Law, or: Should Law Professors Write for Wikipedia? Info / Law, January 30, 2007.  Excerpt:

The nascent open access movement in legal scholarship attracted a good deal of attention last fall, including from the three of us — Bill’s October roundup of recent law-blogger posts is still a good resource, and you can also find some pertinent stories through our open access and peer production tags. Legal scholars seem to be embracing open access publishing of scholarship, not only by posting their works on sites such as SSRN and BePress, but also by policing those sites’ commitment to open access principles....

One of the things I liked about the class Derek and I co-taught last spring is that we were able to dispense entirely with a textbook and rely entirely on online readings, some of which were updated mere days before the class in which they would be taught. It lent an air of immediacy to the course content that I think was particularly appropriate in view of the au courant subject matter. The day of doing that routinely and easily in a law school setting may still be a ways off (although some bold cyberprofs have taken the plunge), but it’s still an ambition of mine.

Comment.  I like the post but not the title, which incorrectly implies that providing OA to your own work means putting it in Wikipedia.  Yes, Wikipedia is OA, but it's not the only form of OA literature or even the primary form for the OA movement.  What's primary for the OA movement is OA to peer-reviewed literature, either through OA journals or OA repositories

Can the AAA afford to offer OA for its journals?

There's a good discussion taking place in the comment section of Savage Minds.  The question is whether the American Anthropological Association (AAA) can afford to offer OA to AnthroSource, its collection of publications now offered as a benefit of membership.

From Michael Brown's objection to OA for AnthroSource:

I’m generally sympathetic to Rex’s goal of open access, and I believe that the AAA could have handled this discussion better. But isn’t it important to consider the unique economic circumstances of a professional organization such as the AAA and the subfield societies under its institutional umbrella? ...

[W]hat are the odds that the AAA’s membership roster will grow once its journals are available to everyone for free? The Association is still burdened with most of the costs of producing the journals (which might be curtailed but by no means eliminated by abandoning paper editions), but its income is likely to decline. Sounds like a death spiral to me....

In sum, I believe that the AAA case has less to do with Big Content, for which I have limited sympathy, than about the difficult funding realities of professional organizations.

From Rex's reply:

I have an article forthcoming in Anthropology News which deals with these objections at length but, very briefly:

1. No one has ever argued that the AAA give away its content free to everyone and then money will magically appear in their coffers....

5. The AAA’s publication program is NOT running in the black. It is losing money. This problem is only going to get worse...

6. The choice is NOT between a known-working charge-for-content model and a utopian and unworkable OA-inspired model. The choice is between an OA-inspired model which risks failure and a charge-for-content model which is a proven failure....

8. Membership in the AAA is incentivized by many things—mostly because of the way the AAA meetings monopolize the labor pool in anthropology. But also because the cost of joining is relatively low and paid for (for some) by their institutions.

The AAA has institutional and political ties with the companies that hired Dezenhall. The AAA also has a mindset in which revenues are generated by charging for content. Enforcing scarcity is a logical strategy given these assumptions. The result is that the AAA ignores OA-inspired opportunities to cut costs, generate revenue, and create a sustainable business model....

Good answers to common objections

Mike Dunford has patiently and succinctly answered a blog commenter's raft of objections and misunderstandings to OA.  Thanks, Mike. 

Worldwide call for OA to publicly-funded research on biodiversity and the environment

Conservation Commons is submitting a petition to the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) calling for open access to publicly-funded research, past, present, and future, on biodiversity and the environment.  From the petition:

Open Access to Data and Information on Biodiversity and the Environment.

...Comprehensive knowledge on the environment is essential for successful environmental management. Access to the best available data, information, and knowledge on the environment constitutes a fundamental precondition to meeting the objectives of UNEP, Multilateral Environmental Agreements, and the Millennium Development Goals.

Yet fundamental data and information on the environment and biological diversity are often fragmented, difficult to find, or simply not accessible. Key investment decisions are taken, in many cases, without the best available data on potential environmental impacts....

RECALLING Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, establishing that each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities;

NOTING the Mission of UNEP “to provide leadership and encourage understanding in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples . . .” as well as to facilitate “the transfer of knowledge and technology for sustainable development”;

RECOGNIZING the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention);

FURTHER RECALLING the Berlin Declaration on open access in the Sciences and Humanities and the Budapest Open Access Initiative; ...

The undersigned call upon the Parties to the 24th UNEP Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environmental Forum to consider the Principles of the Conservation Commons and, wherever possible in accordance with these Principles, ensure that all past, present and future publicly funded research results, assessments, maps, and databases on the environment and biodiversity are made freely and openly accessible to everyone.

Principles of the Conservation Commons

Open Access: The Conservation Commons promotes free and open access to data, information and knowledge for all conservation purposes.

Mutual Benefit: The Conservation Commons welcomes and encourages participants to both use these resources and to contribute data, information and knowledge.

Rights and Responsibilities: Contributors to the Conservation Commons have full right to attribution for any uses of their data, information, or knowledge, and the right to ensure that the original integrity of their contribution to the Commons is preserved. Users of the Conservation Commons are expected to comply, in good faith, with terms of uses specified by contributors.

From Donat Agosti's call for signatures:

This call is important to assure that environmental data is increasingly made open access, best demonstrated by NASA’s release of invaluable remote sensing data or the many systematics institutions opening up their holding and supported with GBIF’s global access portal.

It includes access to literature, but there is a strong focus on primary data, gray literature and knowledge.

Comment.  This petition deserves worldwide support.  Please consider signing as an individual or institution.  You can sign electronically at the petition web site or physically sign a printout (PDF edition) and fax it to Conservation Commons at +1 514 287 9687. 

The petition is undated but will be presented to the UNEP Governing Council at its 24th Session, which will take place in Nairobi, February 5-9, 2007.

2007 Franklin Award nominees

The Bioinformatics Organization has announced the nominees for the 2007 Benjamin Franklin Award for Open Access in the Life Sciences.   From Kevin Davies' story in the January 30 Bio-IT World:

This year’s nominees are: 

  • Sean R. Eddy, group leader, Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Leesburg, Virginia;
  • Robert Gentleman, head, Program in Computational Biology, Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington;
  • Don Gilbert, director, Genome Informatics Lab, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; and
  • Steven Salzberg, director, Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland.

"These nominees are among the most significant advocates of open access in the life sciences and have been repeatedly nominated by the members of the Bioinformatics Organization since the inception of the Award," said organization president Jeff Bizzaro.

Members of (membership is free) may vote for the winner here....

I'm omitting the bios of the four nominees, but you should read them.  All four have made stellar contributions to open access or open data in biomedicine.  Regardless of the Franklin Award, all four deserve recognition for their work.

Two more comments on the AAP

Here are a couple more blogger comments on the AAP's new PR campaign against OA

From Stephen Downes at OLDaily:

You just have to wonder what sort of ethical standard governs the publishing industry, if any. As reported in Nature, and carried elsewhere, Brian Crawford, of the American Chemical Society, following the advice of a "pit bull public relations specialist", said that "he believes that when a government agency insists the results of its publicly funded research be made public, it's engaging in censorship." Huh? The publishers were also advised to "attempt to equate traditional publishing models with peer review." What about the fact that these claims are transparently false? Explains the public relations specialist, Eric Dezenhall, "if the other side is on the defensive, it doesn't matter if they can discredit your statements....Yes, a pox on the intellectuals and their fact-based agenda!

From Richard Jones at The Chronicles of Richard:

...[This issue has] already been pretty heavily commented, so I wasn't going to add anything, but I've not yet seen the words of warning that immediately sprung to my mind when I read about this. Most commentary has been of the "they know they're backed into the corner, and they're fooling nobody" line. While I agree that those of us on the other side of the fence are not fooled by this, it is not us that they are concerned with....Whether we know or not that this is just FUD is irrelevant - it is the people who ultimately make the decisions that are the targets of a campaign like this, and those people are our practicing academics, and, to a degree, members of the public....How does a loose community (by necessity) such as the Open Access community combat a well directed organisation which is seriously motivated to see itself prevail? If you know the answer to that, then it won't just be this dispute which we can solve.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

More on affordable rather than free journals

Chrysanne Lowe, A Student Perspective on the Serials Crisis, Library Connect, January 2007.  Excerpt:

The serials crisis has been examined and debated by librarians and publishers for nearly two decades, so one might think this topic exhausted without resolution. But when Elsevier’s Senior Vice President of Global Academic & Customer Relations Dr. Jasna Markovac was approached by Dr. Bruce Ganem of the Baker Laboratory at Cornell University with an idea to have a team of graduate students ponder the subject as a senior research project, Markovac saw opportunity for a fresh perspective.

The proposal was to conduct an “Operational Analysis of Scholarly Journal Publication and Access Alternatives in the Digital Age.” Three promising young students from the Master of Engineer Project in Cornell’s School of Operations Research and Industrial Engineering took on the task: Mr. Byung Gon Yoo, Ms. Mine Bayrak and Ms. Sundari Swami under the direction of Professor Mark Eisner and Professor John Muckstadt of ORIE. Adding perspective to the team were Cornell University Librarian Sarah Thomas, Dr. Markovac and the late Ross Atkinson, the deputy university librarian at Cornell University who invested countless hours helping to put this project in motion....

The team suggested that publishers were in a good position to address these needs by creating subject-specific portals to collect, organize, share, certify and archive STM information. They supported a quasi open access model supplying preprints, rough drafts and open communication but felt that researchers would be willing to pay nominal amounts for peer review, formal publishing, archiving and indexing. Additional revenue could come from advertising and special issues, and they favored author fees as well as institutional portal subscriptions by libraries that waived individual author fees.

The call to action was a call for compromise from all sides: Authors pay a little, libraries continue paying via reduced subscription fees, and publishers reducing fees and broadening revenue streams....

Thanks to Dana Roth for the alert and for this comment:

This is exactly the business model currently followed by the Electrochemical Society and the Society for Neuroscience and was the general practice for society publications (e.g. ACS, APS) before Robert Maxwell and the crush of commercial journals which began in the 1960s.

The future of open chemistry

Rich Apodaca, How to Find Chemical Information on the Internet: Why Open Source, Open Access, and Open Data Matter, Depth-First, January 26, 2007.  (Thanks to Jennifer McLennan.)  Excerpt:

The Web may be the most effective information-delivery platform ever created. Unfortunately, a variety of barriers, both technical and cultural, restrict the use of the Web for chemistry. In the last few years, three powerful forces for change have emerged: Open Source; Open Access; and Open Data. Most of what's written on these subjects takes a theoretical angle that makes it difficult to visualize real benefits. In this article, I'll discuss these ideas from a much more practical perspective....

Try this simple thought experiment: using only a browser and the free Internet, find all Web pages pages that have anything scientifically-relevant to say about your favorite molecule. How would you do it? ...

From the conclusion:

The Web's convenience and ubiquity have prompted many calls for greater Web accessibility to public chemical information. As hinted at by the examples in this article, Open Source, Open Data, and Open Access are three interrelated forces that can make this vision a reality. Open Access journals lower the economic barriers to compiling Open Data sources. Making these Open Data sources useful to scientists in a cost-effective way requires Open Source software. The availability of good Open Source software stimulates the creative combination of Open Data sources. And so on.

A lot needs to be done before this positive feedback loop can replace the status quo. But even with the chaotic, balkanized system that now exists, the benefits are plain to see. With even a small amount of coordination among Open Source software developers, Open Data providers, and scientific publishers, the most amazing things could happen.

Progress and resistance

European Petition Seeking Open Access to Research Draws 13,000 Names, Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog, January 30, 2007. 

More than 13,000 people have signed a petition asking the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, to require the results of academic research that benefits from public funds to be posted free online, according to The Guardian, a British newspaper. The petition is designed to influence the commission on the eve of a meeting where members will debate the merits of the open-access movement. Just as in the United States, the movement in Europe is largely driven by the skyrocketing cost of academic journals. On both sides of the Atlantic, defenders of the status quo seem to be on the defensive. Last week it was disclosed that the Association of American Publishers had hired a public-relations firm with a pit-bull reputation to fend off the open-access movement.

What is a Public Service Publisher?

Broadcasters have public service obligations.  Should publishers?  The UK Office of Communications (OFCOM) is looking into the question.  Saul Albert looked into the OFCOM inquiry on behalf of the Open Knowledge Foundation.  Here's an excerpt from his report (January 26, 2007):

...I decided to accept an invitation to the riverside HQ of OFCOM, the UK’s independent regulatory body for television, radio, telcoms and wireless, to participate in a discussion about what the UK’s putative ‘Public Service Publisher’ (PSP) should be.

It seems that OFCOM recently noticed the Internet and decided that some kind of public service intervention was necessary beyond BBC online’s existing offering. Projecting a budget of 100M, they embarked on a consultation process led by Andrew Chitty of ‘convergent media’ production company Illumina Ltd.

The room at OFCOM’s London Bridge offices was populated with execs from Yahoo, Google, and various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as well as institutional players like the British Film Institute and the BBC. I think I was the only person there not representing a large corporation of some sort.  I worked out what my civic duty was going to be when the ‘creative’ director at Wanadoo suggested that the PSP’s 100M budget should be given to the telcos and ISPs for their wonderful PSP-like job of carrying peer to peer network traffic, and nobody batted an eyelid. I spent the rest of the day desperately clawing the discussion back to what the ‘public service’ bit could mean.

While reading through the consultation website and skimming the full consultation document, I was pleasantly surprised to see that heavily watered-down mention was made of non-restrictive IP models:

“…it is unlikely that restrictive IP models will maximise public value in a way which is consistent with the overarching thesis of the paper, namely that new forms of public value can be found in the participatory media environment which are distinct from those in the traditional world of linear broadcasting.” ...

Surely it’s in the public interest to address the fact that the infrastructure we’re all using to do business, publish, and socialise online is dangerously similar to Cinema’s vertically integrated Hollywood-centric oligopolies?  Clearly, the PSP is going to do absolutely nothing...

My response to the PSP consultation, emailed to the organisers soon afterwards doesn’t yet appear on the empty ‘responses’ section of the site. For the record, this is what I thought the PSP could do about this at the time:

  • Researching and advising on best practice in metadata, exchange and archiving standards.
  • Researching and advising on best practice in legal preservation and maintenance of publically funded IPR.
  • Producing and maintaining high quality free educational materials for groups and individuals in how to publish their video/audio/text online and archive it well enough for it not to contribute to the uncatalogued backlog.
  • Investing in open source software and shared IPR projects that are consistent with and facilitate the above goals.
  • Research and develop systems for traversing, searching and making inferences from data generated by the aggregation of all this published material, and make that data, and those queries available via open APIs....

OFCOM’s PSP consultation closes on the 23rd March 2007 - so if you want to see a useful PSP, please make sure you get in your response before then!

Sharing knowledge across the digital divide

Margreet Van Doodewaard, Online knowledge sharing tools: any use in Africa? Knowledge Management for Development Journal, 2, 3 (2006).

Abstract:   There is no doubt that ICTs, particularly the Internet, can contribute to the effective dissemination and exchange of information and knowledge. Yet, even though the Internet holds such promise as a knowledge sharing vehicle, Africa and African organizations have not yet fully caught on. The reasons for this seem to be threefold. Firstly, civil society organizations (CSOs) in Africa often work for target groups which do not have the infrastructure, means, capacity and facilities to exploit the benefits of the Internet. To reach these groups more traditional methods of knowledge sharing need to be used such as face-to-face meetings, radio programmes and paper publications. Secondly, the capacity of CSOs to apply, promote and monitor the use of on-line knowledge sharing tools is often still relatively low. Furthermore, the use of the Internet as a knowledge sharing resource is often further hampered by the cultural and social principles underlying the knowledge and tools offered online, and the cultural and social realities of recipients in Africa. As a result, CSOs that do use the Internet tend to approach the Internet first and foremost as a marketing tool to create upward visibility, aimed at to those stakeholders that impact the organization financially or organizationally such as international donors and government agencies. In order to counteract this, donors should clearly separate their information need for monitoring and evaluation purposes from their knowledge sharing for development activities. Donors and practitioners should continue to promote the use of digital tools for knowledge sharing yet, at the same time keep, an open mind for the limitations of these technologies. Efforts to develop local solutions, including the Africanization of the Internet, should be encouraged as it increases a sense of ownership and can integrate local knowledge sharing habits.

Profile of the eJDS

Enrique Canessa and three co-authors, Access to scholarly literature via a free knowledge management enabler: an opportunity for scientists in developing countries, Knowledge Management for Development Journal, 2, 3 (2006).

Abstract:   An overview of the goals and achievements of the electronic Journals Delivery Service (eJDS), provided freely to scientists in developing countries by the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) is presented. The implementation of eJDS, based on low-cost and open source software, is a concrete example of how one might reach a world-wide community whose access to scientific literature is otherwise limited. The effort has been made possible by the generous collaboration of publishing companies and scientific societies that donate the electronic contents of their periodicals in Physics and Mathematics. eJDS can also be seen as a Knowledge Management Enabler that attempts to manage the identification and accumulation of knowledge or intellectual capital of the developing world. A larger eJDS usage from countries with the lowest DAI (Digital Access Index), consistent with the digital and knowledge divides that exists today, is reported.

Soil scientists endorse FRPAA

The National Society of Consulting Soil Scientists (NSCSS) has endorsed FRPAA.  From its announcement (January 24):

[FRPAA] reflects NSCSS goals regarding the free exchange of information, promoting soil science technology, and eliminating unfair competition from taxpayer supported entities.

If passed, this bill will mean free access to the results of research funded by 11 U.S. federal agencies for everyone - no later than 6 months after publication....

This will allow unprecedented access to soil science literature. For soil scientists around the world, this could mean the difference between either ready access or no access to the latest knowledge in areas like soil science, biology, hydrology, education, and environmental health. For those in a position to develop soil science education programs in developing countries, this initiative will provide a needed resource to help this to happen.

Also see today's announcement from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access.

New OA journal on the sociology of critical thinking

Intersticios: Revista sociológica de pensamiento crítico is a new peer-reviewed OA journal distributed on the Scholarly Exchange free journal publishing platform.  The inaugural issue is now online.  For details in English and Spanish, see today's announcement.

Google co-op for science teaching

Jean-Claude Bradley has posted slides, audio, video, and examples of the workshop he ran yesterday at Drexel University on using Google Co-op for science teaching.

January issue of Helmholtz OA Newsletter

The January 26 issue of the Helmholtz Open Access Newsletter is now online.  Read it in the original German or Google's English.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Open health media for open healthcare

Dmitriy Kruglyak, HealthTrain: The Open Healthcare Manifesto, Version 0.1, October 30, 2006.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)  Excerpt:

What is “Open Healthcare”?

The nature of the Internet as a means of disseminating health media is changing. The first wave of online technology enabled organizations to extend their topdown, “command and control” communication methods to a new channel. But a new wave of open publishing technology now enables any individual, with or without professional training, to communicate with global audiences to share health-related information and opinions.

This communication occurs through multiple formats, including blogs, podcasts, wikis, message boards, videocasts, collaboration, community and review sites, as well as other forms of social media and peer-to-peer services. This grassroots media continues explosive growth with or without permission or endorsement from established healthcare institutions....

There is a great need to declare and spread a strong argument for the benefits of open health publishing....

This Manifesto will help rally the early adopters of open
health media around a simple set of principles....

The open and democratic nature of the emerging new forms of health media is in the public interest and should be encouraged and promoted in every possible way....

PS:  The author seems unaware of OA repositories, OA journals, and the OA movement.

Reading frenzy on the AAP

Two symptoms:

  1. The front page of the Scientific American web site currently lists David Biello's article from January 26, Open Access to Science Under Attack, as Number One on the magazine's "Most Read Articles" list.
  2. Andrew Leonard reports that his January 25 article, Science publishers get stupid, elicited more discussion than any previous article in the history of his blog/column at Salon.

The danger of a settlement in the Google lawsuits

Jeffrey Toobin, Google's Moon Shot, The New Yorker, January 29, 2007. This is the most comprehensive article I've seen yet on the practical details of Google's book scanning project and the legal issues it raises.  Excerpt:

...No one really knows how many books there are. The most volumes listed in any catalogue is thirty-two million, the number in WorldCat...Google aims to scan at least that many. “We think that we can do it all inside of ten years,” Marissa Mayer, a vice-president at Google who is in charge of the books project, said recently, at the company’s headquarters, in Mountain View, California. “It’s mind-boggling to me, how close it is. I think of Google Books as our moon shot.” ...

Like most federal lawsuits, [the cases against Google] appear likely to be settled before they go to trial, and the terms of any such deal will shape the future of digital books. Google, in an effort to put the lawsuits behind it, may agree to pay the plaintiffs more than a court would require; but, by doing so, the company would discourage potential competitors. To put it another way, being taken to court and charged with copyright infringement on a large scale might be the best thing that ever happens to Google’s foray into the printed word....

[When the started scanning books, Page and Brin] were less interested in making it easy for people to obtain the full texts of books online than in making accessible the information those books contained. “We really care about the comprehensiveness of a search,” Brin said. “And comprehensiveness isn’t just about, you know, total number of words or bytes, or whatnot. But it’s about having the really high-quality information. You have thousands of years of human knowledge, and probably the highest-quality knowledge is captured in books. So not having that—it’s just too big an omission.” ...

Jim Gerber, Google’s director of content partnerships, told me. “The Internet and search are custom made for marketing books. When there are a hundred and seventy-five thousand new books each year, you can’t market each one of those books in mass market. When someone goes into a search engine to learn more about a topic, that is a perfect time to make them aware that a given book exists. Publishers know that ‘browse leads to buy.’ ” (Google says that it does not take a cut of sales made through its books site.) ...

Google will not reveal how much it is spending on the books project. In 2005, Microsoft announced that it would spend two and a half million dollars to scan a hundred thousand out-of-copyright books in the collection of the British Library. At this rate, scanning thirty-two million books—the number in WorldCat’s database—would cost Google eight hundred million dollars, a major but hardly extravagant expenditure for a multibillion-dollar corporation....

[A] settlement [of the lawsuits] that serves the parties’ interests does not necessarily benefit the public. “It’s clearly in both sides’ interest to settle,” Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Stanford Law School, said. “...[I]f Google gives [the publishers] anything at all, it creates a practical precedent, if not a legal precedent, that no one has the right to scan this material without their consent. That’s a win for them. The problem is that even though a settlement would be good for Google and good for the publishers, it would be bad for everyone else.” ...

Google’s advantage may well be cemented if the company settles its lawsuits with the publishers and authors. “If Google says to the publishers, ‘We’ll pay,’ that means that everyone else who wants to get into this business will have to say, ‘We’ll pay,’ ” Lessig said. “The publishers will get more than the law entitles them to, because Google needs to get this case behind it. And the settlement will create a huge barrier for any new entrants in this field.” ...

“Google didn’t get video search right —YouTube did,” Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, said. (Google solved that problem by buying YouTube last year for $1.6 billion.) “Google didn’t get blog search right — did,” Wu went on. “So maybe Google won’t get book search right. But if they settle the case with the publishers and create huge barriers to newcomers in the market there won’t be any competition. That’s the greatest danger here.” ...

The dual status of several leading publishers as both partner and adversary to Google underscores their desperate need to hedge their bets in a digital world that they have yet to master....[T]rade publishers, in particular, have been slow to embrace new technology, especially for out-of-print books; Google will almost certainly bring more attention to these works than their own publishers have.

The law is supposed to resolve issues like these —between self-interested parties with reasonable claims and legitimate arguments. But the rules of copyright are so ambiguous, and the courts so slow, that the judicial system serves largely to implement the law of the jungle....

OA archiving in France

Danièle Duclos-Faure, Les archives ouvertes et le protocole français, a slide presentation at the Réunion des directeurs des bibliothèques des établissements d’enseignement supérieur (January 22-23, 2007).  (Thanks to the INIST Libre Accès blog.)

More on the European petition for OA

Richard Wray, Nobel prize winners join calls to open research to all, The Guardian, January 30, 2007.  Excerpt:

More than 12,000 academics including two Nobel laureates have signed a petition urging the European commission to make publicly funded academic research available for free on the internet.

The online petition, a direct challenge to the lucrative businesses of many scientific publishers, comes ahead of an EC conference next month where "open access" to research will be debated. The conference will be attended by the Brussels information commissioner, Viviane Reding, and commissioner for science and research, Janez Potocnik.

A year ago the EC published an independent report showing the price of scientific journals rose 200-300% beyond inflation between 1975 and 1995. The market, the study said, was worth up to $11bn (£5.6bn) a year.

The report recommended that the European Union should follow the lead of many research funders, both public and charitable, and demand that articles in scholarly journals based on work funded by the EU be available for free viewing on the web shortly after publication.

Since the report was published, traditional journal publishers have been lobbying hard against its recommendations, arguing that they could cause a dramatic drop in subscriptions, especially for subject-specific journals published by learned societies. Many of these societies, which rely on revenues from journals, could collapse, they have argued.

Supporters of open access have compiled a petition calling on the EU to stand by last year's report: "The commission has a unique opportunity to place Europe at the forefront of the dissemination of research outputs and we encourage you to adopt the study's recommendations for the benefit of European research."

Signatories include Nobel laureates for medicine Harold Varmus and Rich Roberts. Institutions to have signed include CERN, Europe's particle physics laboratory in Switzerland, the Wellcome Trust and the UK's Medical Research Council....

Wired News on the AAP

Randy Dotinga, Open-Access: Old-School Publishers Fight Back, Body Hack, January 29, 2007.  Excerpt:

So let's say you're a publisher of medical journals. You charge subscribers hundreds of dollars a year to get the latest studies about oncology or podiatry or abnormal psychology. The money rolls in, the journals roll out, and everything is good. 

Then along come a tide of open-access journals that let everyone read research for free. Do you join the trend for the good of humanity?

Naw. You launch a public relations offensive: ...

This week, I'll be writing a story for Wired News about the future of scientific-journal publishing. It'll be a follow-up to a story I wrote in 2005. 

How big of a threat do open-access journals pose to traditional publishers? What does the old guard hope to accomplish through public relations? And what will the open-access battle mean for your friendly neighborhood scientists and doctors who rely on these journals?

Speaking of open access, Wired News is embracing the concept in its reporting. As I do research and talk to experts for this story, you'll get updates in this blog....If you have thoughts on angles for this story -- and good sources for me to interview -- drop them in the comments.

Monday, January 29, 2007

More comments on the AAP PR campaign

Here's another set of blogger comments on the AAP's new PR campaign against OA.  (This is the fourth set; also see the first, second, and third.)

From Samuel Bradley at Cognition:

...That's right. Hire an attack dog to tackle those radicals suggesting that science -- of all things -- should be about ideas rather than profits....

From Graeme at Graeme's blog:

...The journal publishers are arguing for a rather curious type of private sector involvement. They want governments to fund the creation of the research, but for the finished product to be then circulated only in ways that allows them to make a profit....The obvious problem with the traditional publishers’ position is that they want public funding to continue. They just want to make sure that they can make a huge profit from circulating it....

From Heather Morrison at Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics:

If the Association of American Publishers is trying to shake off a reputation of disinformation - they'll have to try harder...[A] statement from the AAP scholarly publishing division says:  "Private sector non-profit and commercial publishers serve researchers and scientists by managing and funding the peer review process...."  This is nonsense! Publishers do not fund the peer review process. First, peer review is not funded at all, but rather done on a voluntary basis.  Second, profitable publishers (there are both commercial and not-for-profit publishers who fit this description) do not fund the coordination of peer review; rather, they reap profits from the service they provide. In a financial sense, they do not give; they take.

From Matthew Nisbet at Framing Science:

Things just went from bad to terrible for the image of the Association of American Publishers....

From Dorothea Salo at Caveat Lector:

...[From the AAP:]  It’s unfortunate that reporters picked up on some early proposals that were not adopted and, regrettably, the Nature article has misrepresented what’s really going on. 

[Translation:]  We really, really regret having been caught red-handed. We can’t possibly explain, because there isn’t actually an honest explanation that doesn’t make us look worse.... 

[From the AAP:]  We and many others have legitimate concerns that government mandated open access could have unintended consequences for the scientific community – and anyone who relies on sound science. 

[Translation:]  We’re legitimately concerned that our profit margins will evaporate....

Industry should support OA

Fredric Cohen, Why Pharma should support open access, Pharma's Cutting Edge, January 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Open access to most of the world’s peer-reviewed scientific research is an inevitability  Subscription-based access to the primary scientific literature is, quite simply, an anachronism of the print age; it’s dead–it just doesn’t know it yet.  The enterprises that will be hurt will be those that cannot or will not alter their business models to reflect the reality of our always-on, just-in-time, just-the way-I-want-it, hyperlinked society.... 

Not surprisingly, the most powerful opponents of the open-access movement are the for-profit publishing houses.  The major for-profit scientific publishers by no means rely solely on scientific journals as a source of revenues; they are diversified businesses.  But journal subscriptions and advertisements remain an important source of revenues, and these firms will fight to maintain subscribers.

Why should Pharma get involved in the skirmishes that promise to get nastier as paid-access publishers fight for their survival?  There is no doubt that pharmaceutical researchers and marketing strategists rely heavily on the scientific literature to create and sell their products, and they pay dearly for the privilege.  But the relative cost of subscriptions and reproduction fees is small compared with the returns it generates.  As open access papers proliferate, and paid-access journals feel the squeeze, journal subscription costs might rise.  But I can’t imagine that most life-science are going to complain too loudly.  Based on cost considerations alone, Pharma should probably sit this fight out.

The real reason Pharma (and related industries) need to get behind open access is that open access will benefit the scientific enterprise generally, by increasing the pace of scientific discoveries.  A higher pace of discoveries means more fuel for industrial discovery, which means a faster rate of industrial innovations....

[I]t’s in Pharma’s interests to err on the benefits being ”substantially faster” and “substantially larger”, so as not to miss an opportunity that costs the industry nothing additional to take advantage of....

[P]harmaceutical scientists will benefit from enhanced scientific knowledge dissemination indirectly even if pharmaceutical scientists themselves do not alter their reading habits in response to open access....

It is in every industry R&D manager’s interests to eliminate unnecessary impediments to innovation.  With the possible exception of angering some scientific societies, there is no downside to Pharma diverting some of the funds it currently invests in paid-access journals to the open access movement (e.g. PLoS). 

OA because it supports mirrors, mashups, and mining

Matt Hodgkinson, Mashups, mirrors, mining, and open access, Journalology, January 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Creative Commons Attribution License under which open access articles are made available by both BioMed Central and PLoS allows others to create sites that incorporate the content of these articles, so long as the original source is clearly acknowledged.  Two ways to do this are mashups and mirrors....

BioMed Central officially has four mirrors....

On the mashup side, Free Biomedical Images has made open access images available in a searchable database, mainly (entirely?) taken from BioMed Central articles, and fully attributed. Users can comment on the images, rate them, email them to a friend and jump to the published article.

A key feature of open access is that we don't hide away the full text of our articles. The entire 'corpus' of our open access research articles is available on our data mining page for anyone to download. Gerry Rubin has said that "the most important reason for Open Access is data mining".

The idea of mashups, scripts and extensions is just beginning to reach the bioinformatics community. A bioinformatics mashup by Alfonso Valencia is iHOP (Information Hyperlinked over Proteins), which links information about genes and proteins to text from PubMed. Not satisfied with just a mashup, Mark Wilkinson has created a Greasemonkey userscript called iHOPerator that enhances the iHOP website with tag clouds. You can read about in his BMC Bioinformatics article. Two other Greasemonkey userscripts link PubMed to social bookmarking sites, one to CiteULike, the other to Connotea. A third links Google Scholar to CiteULike. The iSpecies search engine pulls together information about any species you enter from disparate sources, including scores of biomedical databases and even Yahoo! Image search....

More toll access to public resources

Brett Zongker, Smithsonian and Corbis Enter Media Deal, The San Francisco Chronicle, January 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Smithsonian Institution and Corbis Corp. announced a deal Wednesday to begin selling images from the Smithsonian's collections for editorial and commercial use through the digital media company.

Under the licensing agreement, Corbis will provide hundreds of images from the Smithsonian museums, including archival photos and images of cultural objects, paintings, sculptures, aircraft and space vehicles....

Smithsonian officials said they hope the agreement with Corbis will make museum resources more easily accessible and offer some images in a digital format for the first time....

There is no guaranteed annual revenue under the deal, and Corbis did not provide any money up front, said Smithsonian spokeswoman Samia Elia. Licensing fees charged for each image would go back into the museum's educational programs. The royalties from image sales vary each year, she said. No other financial terms were disclosed....

Corbis has similar arrangements with the National Gallery in London, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York, said Corbis spokesman Dan Perlet....

The deal follows the Smithsonian's semi-exclusive TV deal with Showtime Networks Inc. for use of museum resources for filming projects....Under the deal, the Smithsonian reviews proposals for commercial documentaries from other filmmakers before granting access to its archives. Of the 117 applications received during the first nine months of the contract, two proposals were denied due to the Showtime deal, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.  The Showtime deal guarantees the Smithsonian $500,000 a year for 30 years and possibly more, depending on the popularity of the Smithsonian channel, Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small has said.

Thanks to New Museums for the alert and for these comments:

There has been some backlash surrounding the Showtime decision - yet, the Corbis deal is proceeding without review or challenge by the public. Perhaps this reflects that private image wholesaling is not an entirely new trend; similar agreements have been reached with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Still, the incorporation of the Smithsonian raises the profile and stakes within the cultural sector. Amongst the pertinent issues for public (if not Congressional) review:

  • How does the concept of cultural patrimony seem relevant to the "public good" if that patrimony is leveraged in the service of private interests?
  • Is the Smithsonian also granting free/open access for researchers, developers and the creative commons to leverage those very same images and resources?
  • Will the institute leverage the revenue from this deal to fund greater open access and innovation initiatives or just fill budget gaps?
In my opinion, the primary issue in this case is not the institute searching for new revenue streams or receiving licensing fees for its property, but rather the choice to explore closed, revenue-driven platforms for dispersing the content of the nonprofit sector. The most contentious quote from the article is the statement "Smithsonian officials said they hope the agreement with Corbis will make museum resources more easily accessible and offer some images in a digital format for the first time." Accessible to whom? This type of deal sets a dangerous trend of narrow-casting Museum services in all the worst ways - cultural capital in the service of private interests on proprietary platforms.

Digitization and OA project at ERIC

The US Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) is digitizing 40 million pages of microfiche documents and providing OA to as many as it can.  From Barbara Quint's story in today's Information Today NewsBreaks:

More large-scale digitization projects continue to emerge as aggregators move to extend their digital archives. The National Archive Publishing Co. (NAPC) has announced a 2-year project by which they will digitize a backfile of microfiche reports in ERIC (Education Resources Information Center). All documents date from 1966 to 1992 —about 340,000 documents or 40 million pages. Due to a conservative interpretation of contract language used until 1993 for submitting documents to ERIC, the project will also involve chasing down copyright holders, both corporate and individual authors, for permission to offer access to the electronic documents. Though the digitization will proceed independent of the permission-seeking process, the availability of full-text PDF files of the documents (free at the ERIC Web site) will depend on securing permission....

Also see the NAPC press release on the project.

More on APE 2007

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

Who's signing the European OA petition?

There are now over 12,000 signatures on the petition for guaranteed public access to publicly-funded research results.  The statistics page (last updated yesterday) gives a good glimpse of the first 10,000 or so.  As of yesterday, the petition had 9,850 signatures from individuals and 450 from institutions.  7,737 are from EU countries, a desirable majority since the petition is addressed to the European Commission.  Of the individual signatories, 7,825 are researchers and 1,457 are librarians.  The organizers tell me that the signatures include Nobel laureates, major funding agencies like the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, DFG, and CNRS, major research universities, and groups of university rectors. 

NB:  The petition is still open and all signatures are welcome.  However, signatures are most needed from European researchers and European research institutions. If you haven't signed, please sign ASAP.  And then spread the word.

Update.  See today's petition update from JISC:

...Nobel laureates Harold Varmus and Rich Roberts are among the more than ten thousand concerned researchers, senior academics, lecturers, librarians, and citizens from across Europe and around the world who are signing an internet petition calling on the European Commission to adopt polices to guarantee free public access to research results and maximise the worldwide visibility of European research.

Organisations too are lending their support, with the most senior representatives from over 500 education, research and cultural organisations in the world adding their weight to the petition, including CERN, the UK's Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the Italian Rector's Conference, the Royal Netherlands Academy for Arts & Sciences (KNAW) and the Swiss Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences (SAGW), alongside the petition's sponsors, SPARC Europe, JISC, the SURF Foundation, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Danish Electronic Research Library (DEFF)....

The EC will host a meeting in Brussels in February to discuss its position regarding widening access and the petition is intended to convey the overwhelming level of public support for the recommendations of the EC study.

JISC Executive Secretary Dr Malcolm Read, said: 'Maximising public investment in European research and making more widely available its outputs are key priorities for the European Union as it seeks to enhance the global standing of European research and compete in a global market. JISC is proud to be sponsoring a petition which seeks these vital goals and which has already attracted such widespread support.'

One of the petition's signatories, Richard J Roberts, Nobel Prize winner for Physiology or Medicine in 1993, said: "Open access to the published scientific literature is one of the most desirable goals of our current scientific enterprise. Since most science is supported by taxpayers it is unreasonable that they should not have immediate and free access to the results of that research. Furthermore, for the research community the literature is our lifeblood. By impeding access through subscriptions...we have allowed the commercial sector to impede progress. It is high time that we rethought the model and made sure that everyone had equal and unimpeded access to the whole literature. How can we do cutting edge research if we don't know where the cutting edge is?" ...

OA info from the Royal Library of Denmark

The Royal Library of Denmark has launched a new website that includes some pages on open access (also available in English) edited by Bertil Fabricius Dorch. 

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Response from the Chair of the AAP/PSP

Brian Crawford, Chairman of the Professional/Scholarly Publishing division (PSP) of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) has posted a response on the CHMINF discussion list (January 26, 2007) to the Jim Giles' story in Nature.  Forgive the length; here's the response in its entirety.

Some time ago, our trade association engaged a public relations firm to assist us in communicating more effectively our messages about the unintended consequences of government-mandated open access to published scientific research. I am writing to bring to your attention recent news coverage that seeks to portray AAP/PSP and its member publishers in an unfavorable manner for taking this action.

A news item by reporter Jim Giles published in Nature (itself owned by a member publisher of AAP) has criticized the motives of publishers and our choice of public relations consulting firm-one known for its expertise and effectiveness. I want to assure you that our purpose is to communicate important information about the added value that publishers bring to the scholarly publishing process-information not widely known or appreciated by policy makers. Scholarly publishers have been slow to recognize that the misleading soundbite messages and aggressive lobbying tactics of those who wish to influence government and public policy have been orchestrated and funded by organizations wishing to advance their own agenda. That they continue to do so without regard for the very real risk of damage to science and the public, should peer-reviewed publishing be compromised by unnecessary government intervention, needs to be countered with clear and concise messaging of our own.

An astonishing example of how misleading the accusations against publishers can be appears in today's Washington Post, where reporter Rick Weiss asserts that the AAP has "...for years waged an intellectually nuanced battle against medical associations and advocates for the ill" and also quotes a SPARC representative who accuses us of engaging in a "disinformation campaign." Nothing could be further from the truth. AAP/PSP, acting on behalf of its member and other publishers, is actively involved in facilitating author participation in the current voluntary NIH public access policy, and has offered to assist NIH as it struggles to implement its own policy. In addition, AAP/PSP has itself fostered publisher participation in public-private cooperative initiatives designed to broaden access to the medical literature. An example of this is patientInform, which seeks to empower patients and their caregivers by providing free access to the latest medical research, along with expert analysis written specifically for the layman. Another publisher initiative designed to improve health and human welfare is HINARI, whereby publishers provide immediate online access to a broad spectrum of health-related peer-reviewed research to developing nations. Finally, individual publishers continue to broaden access to scientific content through their own initiatives.

Regrettably, the news reports above were somehow stimulated by reporters gaining access to internal emails and background information shared within AAP/PSP and among those volunteer publisher representatives who have worked so hard to support the health and vitality of our industry by helping to improve our education and outreach. The inappropriate disclosure of this information is very disturbing to me personally, and I regret that it has led to such a gross misinterpretation of our motives and methods.

In order to avoid any further misunderstanding about our intentions, AAP/PSP has released a statement (below) that confirms our commitment to achieving the widest possible dissemination of peer-reviewed research and preserving the integrity of the scholarly record-even when that means cautioning against the perils of government mandates. I encourage you to read and disseminate the attached statement as you see fit, and to share it with any members of the media who contact you for comment about your support of our messages and our association's activities in this area. Let me emphasize that "our messages" means just that-our point of view, expressed from our own perspective as publishing professionals committed to freedom of speech and open intellectual debate.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue, and for your support.

Brian D. Crawford, Ph.D.
Chair, PSP Executive Council


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.

Private sector non-profit and commercial publishers serve researchers and scientists by managing and funding the peer review process, disseminating authors' work, investing in technology and preserving millions of peer-reviewed articles as part of the permanent record of science. Peer review is the complex and expensive system that provides the checks and balances necessary to ensure that what is made publicly available has been verified by experts. Peer review helps keep science independent of politics or ideology. Thanks to publishers, scientists today have more access to more peer-reviewed articles than ever before. We don't believe there is a credible substitute that can provide the same level of contribution and support to science.

There are proposals under consideration that would mandate more government involvement and put this system at risk. Legislation that would undermine the quality, sustainability and independence of science would have consequences on all those who rely on sound science.

The AAP/PSP will continue to ensure that all sides of the debate are heard.

PS:  Also see the response posted earlier today from Barbara Meredith, VP of the AAP/PSP.

16 UK digitization projects

Digitising five centuries of UK life, a press release from the JISC Digitisation Programme, January 25, 2007.

JISC today announced the successful bids in a further £12m investment in the digitisation of major resources of national importance. Following the enormous interest in last year’s call for proposals and the high quality of the many bids received, the extra investment has been made by the Higher Education Funding Councils for England and Wales (HEFCE and HEFCW) to support the wider availability of national, scholarly resources.

The 16 winning bids represent a wide range of rich and vivid perspectives on the history, culture and landscape of the UK and beyond. The successful consortia include nearly 60 organisations from education and other sectors, including the British Film Institute, The National Archive, the BBC, ITN, the British Library, the National Library of Wales and the Bodleian Library, alongside nearly 30 universities....

The 16 projects will join six current projects funded in 2004 which are delivering resources of enormous value to education and research, widening access to otherwise inaccessible and in some cases fragile and unique resources....

Update. Klaus Graf has discovered that not all of these projects will be OA. Several will be toll-access only through JSTOR or pay-per-view. It's difficult to understand why, since these are public-domain documents digitized at public expense. In the recently announced and very controversial NARA-Footnote deal, public-domain documents from the US were digitized at private expense, so it's more defensible to institute temporary toll-access to benefit the company funding the digitization. Did JSTOR invest in any of these digitization projects? If not, I hope JISC will rethink its access policies.

More blogger comments on the AAP PR campaign

Here's a new set of blogger comments on the AAP's new PR campaign against OA.  (This is the third set; also see the first and second.)

From Amy Gahran at PoynterOnline:

...Personally, I can understand the journal publishers wanting to protect their business. However, I think it's futile as well as harmful to block open access to scientific information. Science journals do add value to raw scientific information via peer review, fostering high-quality debate and analysis, and other processes. I think if they can focus on those value-adds, they can preserve and even enhance their business -- without locking down access to scientific information....

From Eve Gray at Gray Area:

...I remain open-mouthed. At least, I suppose, it means that open access is serious enough for the publishers to see it as a threat and that is a good thing. However, for scholarly publishers to be caught out in such an expedient exercise of truth-bending is another matter - all the more so in the intellectual environment in which they operate. I am particularly surprised at Wiley, which in my dealings with it in the past has emerged as a company with a concern for quality and the ability to think out of the box - to an extent unusual among their peers. So to see them descend to tactics such as this is disappointing. I would have thought that a company like Wiley should have the nerve and the intelligence to ride the wave, to learn where scholarly publishing is heading and position themselves ahead of the game....'Would you buy a used car from someone like this?' Are these to be the guardians of the quality of your scholarship?

From Joe at Back of the Envelope:

Doesn't surprise me - this industry has descended into blatant rent-seeking behaviour over the last couple decades. It's gotten to the point in my field (heterogeneous catalysis) that all (pretty much) the journals dedicated to the subject are owned by Elsevier. No prizes for guessing what happens when you own all the journals....Add in these ridiculous 'impact factor' calculations and you have the makings of a ludicrous Kafkaesque like rabbit warren of being seen to publish in journals not because it's good work but because the journals themselves define good work. Madness! ...

From Kambiz Kamrani on

...This is pretty pitiful, it is actually despicable for publishers to be doing that. Peer-review can still flourish, if not be more critical and constructed under an open access model. More people can read it, more people can comment on it, more people can know about! [Publishers] have lost focus of what they are in the business of, to document and disseminate knowledge. Not keep it locked away! ...

From Heather Morrison at OA Librarian:

...Equating public access with government censorship is absurd...[as is equating conventional publishing with peer review]. The Directory of Open Access Journals currently lists over 2,500 fully open access, peer-reviewed journals, and the numbers are growing rapidly....

From Alex Palazzo at The Daily Transcript:

...And do they think that they can get away with this misinformation? Scientists, the most active participants in this debate, understand the issues ... but we also need to ensure that our elected officials understand the situation as well....

From Revere at Effect Measure:

...What is so galling about this is the intellectual dishonesty from publishers whose whole business depends on intellectual honesty. They are also willing to get in bed with some of the fiercest enemies of science....If I thought the American Chemical Society and their cronies Wiley and Elsevier had any shame I'd say, "Shame on you." As it is, the best I can do is, "Go screw yourself" (instead of screwing the rest of us).

From Rex at  Savage Minds:

...Big Content has begun using scare tactics to convince academics that the free dissemination of ideas —the central ideal of our profession— is unethical.  The article in Nature article reports that the American Association of Publishers has hired powerful PR consultant Eric Dezenhall —the ‘pit bull’ of the PR industry— to develop a PR campaign that will convince people that scarcity is good and plenty is bad. How could you possibly convince people of this? ...The solution, according to Dezenhall, is to claim that “public access equals government censorship” and to argue that peer review will collapse if the pay-for-content journal industry collapses. The second assertion —that I will suddenly be unwilling to provide free labor to journals to review the work of my colleagues if it is made free and open— is so incoherent that there is no real way to respond to it....I currently provide peer review for several journals, including the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute...and none of them pay me a red cent. Is Big Content seriously arguing that I would be less likely to provide peer review for JRAI if they gave me a free subscription (in the form of open access to their content)? ...

From Olive Ridley at The Olive Ridley Crawl:

...Yes, go ahead, use the same publicist types that brought you the “CO2 is life” campaign. If you read the [Scientific American] article fully, you’ll see that these publicists suggest a simple message....Yes, of course, open access journals are not peer reviewed, cigarettes are not addictive, CO2 is life, 1+1=3 (just checking!)  I am ashamed to call myself a member of the egregious American Chemical Society, which is part of this lobbying effort along with Elsevier and Wiley....

National Library of Chile releases content under CC licenses

From the Creative Commons Blog, January 26, 2007:

Project lead of CC Chile, Claudio Ruiz Gallardo, recently posted to the Creative Commons community mailing list that the Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional del Chile released all of their content under the recently launched CC BY-NC-SA Chile License.

Claudio stated on the cc-community mailing list that:

This is a very important notice for the CC Chile team, because [it] shows how the government can use alternative[s] to the legal framework in order to bring freedoms to use to the citizen[s].

PS:  I'm guessing that this refers to all the library's digital content.  But is it possible that all its content has now been digitized?  Either this is very good news or an order of magnitude better.  I'd appreciate hearing more from someone in the know.  I can't read Spanish, and the library's home page in Google's English doesn't mention the project.

French lab adopts an OA mandate

The Labortoire de Psychologie et Neurosciences Cognitives (LPNCog) at the University of Paris Descartes has adopted a lab-specific OA mandate.  Here's the language from ROARMAP (added by Henri Cohen, January 24, 2007):

Allocation of funds to research teams is dependent upon members depositing pdf/rtf documents of all work accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals. A portion of the subsidy is made available later in the year after all have complied with the request.

PS:  Kudos to the LPNCog.  This looks like the patchwork mandate method at work at the U of Paris Descartes.

Making public data free for useful enhancements

Michael Cross and Charles Arthur, Don't panic: we'll email if someone plans to demolish your house, The Guardian, January 25, 2007.  Excerpt:

Almost as well known as Monty Python's parrot sketch is the rant in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy against local council planning by its hero, Arthur Dent. Where did he discover the council's plans to demolish his house? "It was 'on display' in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying, 'Beware of the Leopard.'..."

But that was before the net. Nowadays, councils are very open with their planning data, which you will find on their websites. Generally, any application, with plans, is available to view. From the standpoint of the Free Our Data campaign, which says that impersonal data collected by government should be available online for free, that's an excellent start.

But, thought Richard Pope, a professional programmer and web designer, it could be done even better. So over the course of five days last Christmas, he put together, hosted by the MySociety group, which "screen-scrapes" dozens of councils' sites for the text of their planning reports, and extracts essential details such as location and postcode.

The result: a simple site that emails you if, for example, there's an application to open a nightclub in your road, or - as happened to prompt Pope's work, in an echo of Arthur Dent's experience - a bulldozer turns up one day to demolish the much-loved Victorian pub around the corner from you....

Pope's plan is that once you enter your postcode, his system will alert you to any planning schemes in your area....

The irony is that government already offers a similar service to search for planning applications through its national planning portal at But rather than five days, it has taken a year to build; it doesn't send out proactive alerts; and a formidable copyright notice says that the National Planning Application Register is copyright of a commercial company, Emap Glenigan (whose website is used for the searches).

By contrast, Pope hasn't worried much about copyright: "This information should be available to all." We agree.

Open access, toll access, and intelligent design

Proponents of "intelligent design" blame biased peer review, rather than bad science, for their poor showing in peer-reviewed journals.  For some reason, they think OA might help them.  From a blog post by William Dembski at Uncommon Descent (January 26, 2007):

The big publishers of scientific journals are, not surprisingly, concerned about how open access to information on the internet is cutting into their profits. Apparently they are now hiring PR people to try to keep their market share, and the PR people are counseling that the very concept of open access needs to be undermined. With regard to our issues [intelligent design], who do you think stands to benefit more from such an anti-open-access campaign, the Darwinists whose propaganda engines are entrenched in the big publishing houses, or the ID proponents who are systematically excluded?

(Thanks to Afarensis.)


  1. OA welcomes support from every quarter, but I have to tell Dembski that the goal of the OA movement is to remove access barriers, not to remove quality control.  The goal is OA to peer-reviewed literature, not bypassing peer review.  If articles on ID are routinely rejected by peer-reviewed journals, the reason is not the business interests of conventional publishers but the scientific judgments of editors and referees.  That shouldn't change at all under OA.
  2. In fact, there are good reasons to think that OA will undermine support for intelligent design by spreading knowledge of science beyond the narrow sphere reached by high-priced subscription journals.

AAP/PSP response to the Nature story

The Professional/Scholarly Publishing (PSP) Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) has issued a response to Jim Giles' story in Nature and my blog posting about it.  Here's the response in its entirety: 

Not-for-profit and commercial publishers, as a group, have a responsibility to make the case on important issues regarding science and research.

It’s unfortunate that reporters picked up on some early proposals that were not adopted and, regrettably, the Nature article has misrepresented what’s really going on.

We and many others have legitimate concerns that government mandated open access could have unintended consequences for the scientific community – and anyone who relies on sound science. 

Scientists rely on a publishing system that delivers quality, technology, global dissemination and preservation of the record of science.  We believe that government mandated open access could put essential aspects of the system at risk and could undermine the quality, sustainability or independence of science.

That’s why the AAP/PSP thinks it’s important that all sides of the debate are heard.

The response is signed by Barbara J. Meredith, VP of the AAP/PSP.

Comment.  I've thanked Barbara Meredith privately for posting this response and I'm glad to thank her publicly as well.  However, the response doesn't give detail on where the Nature story is inaccurate.  Nor does it help those, like me, who have criticized the AAP based on the Nature version of events and who would like to retract any unjustified criticism.  I hope the AAP/PSP will tell us specifically which proposals described by Nature have not been adopted and which details in the story misrepresent what's really going on.

OA an essential task of scientific libraries

Cordula Nötzelmann, Open Access - nur eine Ph(r)ase oder neue Kernaufgabe für wissenschaftliche Bibliotheken?  PPT slides from a public lecture in Kiel, November 16, 2006.  Self-archived January 24, 2007.