Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Survey of electronic publishing trends and practices

The Society of National Association Publishers (SNAP) is hosting an online survey of Electronic Publishing Trends and Practices.  It would be nice if some OA journals and OA publishers could add their input.

Profile of the AHDS

Karlin Lillington, University researchers delve into world of digital archiving, Irish Times, March 16, 2007.  Excerpt from the OA copy at News for Medievalists:

A pioneering service run by six universities is creating a vast, free-to-access 'digital library', writes Karlin Lillington.

From monks preserving books by the Greeks and Romans to modern library collections of letters from historical figures or photographs of a famous event, archiving special collections has a long tradition and a widely recognised cultural value.
But what about a database of archaeological data? Or jpeg images? Or a scholarly website? Or even three-dimensional maps or virtual-reality artworks?

In Britain, such items find a home in the government-funded Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS), an organisation spread across six universities and overseen by two higher-education bodies, the Joint Information Systems Committee and the Arts and Humanities Research Council....

People send data collections to the AHDS, which converts them to neutral formats. It transfers data from proprietary formats, such as Microsoft Word, to non-proprietary, open-source formats that are freely available, explains [AHDS communications manager Alastair Dunning, who is based at King's College London]. Avoiding proprietary formats gives the best chance of information being accessible over the long term, he says. Databases, documents and images can all be moved to non-proprietary formats.

All of this is done on an altruistic rather than a commercial model, says Dunning. Donors sign a release that allows the material to be placed online. This can then be used by others free of charge, provided it is for non-commercial use....

Would the AHDS consider creating a business around managing copyright material? Dunning says it goes against the spirit of the open-access archive....

Another challenge is "paying for all of it". People accept the need for public funding for libraries, he says, but digital data is just as important....[J]ust as libraries do not charge patrons for looking at books, Dunning prefers data to be free at the point of use. Dunning was in Dublin recently to give a lecture as part of Trinity College Dublin's Long Room Hub initiative, which examines ways to expand scholarly and research connections in the arts and humanities. Dunning says he hopes the AHDS might serve as an example of how such material can be archived and made available to the public.

Explaining low deposit rates at institutional repositories

Stevan Harnad, Why Cornell's Institutional Repository Is Near-Empty, Open Access Archivangelism, March 17, 2007.  Excerpt:

SummaryCornell University's Institutional Repository (IR) so far houses only a very small percentage of its own annual research output, even though this output is the target content for Open Access (OA) IRs. As such, Cornell's IR is no different from all other IRs worldwide except those that have already adopted a "Green OA" deposit mandate. Alma Swan's international, multidisciplinary surveys have found that most researchers report they will not deposit without a mandate but will comply willingly if deposit is mandated by their institutions and/or their funders. Arthur Sale's comparative analyses of mandated and unmandated IRs have confirmed this in actual practise. Cornell's IR too has confirmed this with high deposit rates for the few subcollections that are mandated. IRs with Green OA mandates approach 100% OA within about 2 years. The worldwide baseline for unmandated self-archiving is about 15%.

Davis & Connolly's 2007 D-Lib article takes no cognizance of this prior published information. It surveys a sample of Cornell researchers for their attitudes to self-archiving and finds the usual series of uninformed misunderstandings, already long-catalogued and answered in published FAQs. The article then draws some incorrect conclusions derived entirely from incorrect assumptions it first makes, among them the following:

    (1) The purpose of Green OA self-archiving is to compete with journals? (No, the purpose is to supplement subscription access by depositing the author's final draft online, free for all users who cannot access the subscription-based version.)
    (2) IRs should instead store the "grey literature"? (No, OA's target content is peer-reviewed research.)
    (3) IRs are for preservation? (No, they are for research access-provision.)
    (4) Some disciplines may not benefit from Green OA self-archiving? (The only disciplines that would not benefit would be those that do not benefit from maximizing the usage and impact of their peer-reviewed journal article output.)
    The only thing Cornell needs to do if it wants its IR filled with Cornell's own research output is to mandate it.

Harnad and Kurtz

Stevan Harnad, Don't Count Your (Golden) Chickens Before Your (Green) Eggs Are Laid, Open Access Archivangelism, March 15, 2007.  Excerpt:

Michael Kurtz writes:

  Research is growing. (True, but that is independent of OA.) 

  Publication costs are not a large percentage of total research costs. (True, but publication costs are already being paid in full, today, by subscription fees; any new publication charges today hence mean additional funds redirected from research -- or from elsewhere -- to double-pay, unless the existing subscription fees are redirected toward paying the publication charges.)

  OA enhances research progress. (True)

  Author publication charges are not new (in some fields). (True, but new OA publication charges, today, would be new, and additional, unless their payment was redirected from subscription savings.)

  Mandated Green OA could cause subscription collapse. (Possibly, but if it did, that would simultaneously release the subscription savings to be redirected to pay for Gold OA publication charges [probably reduced to just the cost of peer review]; and meanwhile we would already have 100% [Green] OA, either way.)

  In some fields, Central Repositories (CRs) like Arxiv have a larger Green OA percentage of total research output than Institutional Repositories (IRs). (A few fields do provide Green OA, unmandated, today, but most don't; that's why we need mandates; IRs that mandate Green reach 100% OA within about two years; institutions and funders mandate; "fields" do not; institutions wish to record, showcase, and maximize the impact of their own research output; "fields" do not; CRs can harvest from IRs; the locus of deposit for mandates should be researchers' own IRs.) ...

The right cure for what ails us depends on what ails us

Stevan Harnad, Gold Fever and Trojan Folly, Open Access Archivangelism, March 15, 2007.  Excerpt:

Summary:  Jan Velterop recommends, without any supporting argument, that at a time when publication costs are still being fully covered by subscriptions, research funders and institutions should not mandate Green OA self-archiving, because that would (according to Jan) be merely a "cheap palliative," not a "full cure".
    A full cure would be to double-pay for Gold OA (double, because publication costs are still being covered by subscriptions) until publishers voluntarily pass on their excess revenues by gradually discounting and eventually phasing out subscriptions.
    Our disease, it appears, is not our lack of OA (for mandating Green OA would provide 100% OA); our disease is our paying for publication in the wrong way (via subscriptions rather than publication charges). And the reason the "cheap palliative" of mandating Green OA is a bad idea (according to Jan) is that it might cause subscriptions to be cancelled.
    What Jan does not explain is why not-paying for publication in the right way is our disease, rather than not-having research access -- for it is access to research that the OA movement is all about, and 100% research access -- not something else -- that OA is meant to provide.
    Nor does Jan explain why 100% Green OA is not a cure for this lack of research access: Either the 100% OA generated by the Green OA mandates will eventually cause subscriptions to be cancelled so they no longer cover publication costs or it will not. If it does not, then Green OA mandates will merely have generated 100% OA. If it does, then Green OA mandates will also have generated a transition to Gold OA, along with releasing the money (the windfall subscription savings) out of which to pay the Gold OA publication charges without having to find the extra money to double-pay (for publication charges on top of subscriptions). It is not at all clear why Jan regards this as "cheap palliative care" rather than a "full cure," either way.
    If, that is, Jan is really for OA, rather than something else....

Backfile of Sino-Japanese journal now OA

Konrad Lawson has digitized and provided OA to the entire backfile of Sino-Japanese Studies.  From his announcement:

I am happy to announce the completion of a project that I have been working on in my spare time for about a month now: the digitization of the Sino-Japanese Studies Journal. The full journal is available online and downloadable as PDFs at

This biannual Sino-Japanese Studies Journal was created in 1988 by Joshua A. Fogel....In 2004 Professor Fogel agreed to my proposal that we put the whole run of this journal, which had articles by many leading scholars but a limited circulation, online as PDFs with full Open Access. He approved, but there was a long delay when I realized that issues with the various formats of the available journal files meant that most of the journal would need to be scanned....

PS:  Kudos to Fogel for the permission and kudos to Lawson for the idea and execution.

Friday, March 16, 2007

OA and TA journal pricing models

Maggie Wineburgh-Freed, Scholarly E-Journal Pricing Models and Open Access Publishing, Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries, March 15, 2007.  Only this abstract is free online for non-subscribers, at least so far:

Abstract:   This article provides an overview and description of the models being used to price electronic journals, reviews the development of electronic journals, and briefly discusses the history of journal pricing. The development and current situation of open-access scholarly publishing are also discussed. Open access may provide needed relief to the inexorable rise in journal prices, while increasing the impact of research distributed in this way.

Hindawi co-sponsors ChemRefer

Hindawi Publishing, the OA journal publisher, has joined the group of co-sponsors of ChemRefer, the search engine for OA research in chemistry.

Integrating OA content with catalogs, portals, and metasearch tools

Index Data has launched an Open Content service to integrate OA content with library catalogs, information portals, and metasearch systems.  From yesterday's announcement:

Index Data has launched a new service to expose open content resources. The initial phase of this service offers ebooks, open access digital repositories, encyclopedia articles, and human-reviewed Internet resources. This service is being offered without charge.

Using standard search protocols such as SRU and Z39.50, system administrators will be able to make open content part of their institution's information portals, federated search systems, catalogs etc.... The initial open content being offered consists of the following resources:

  • Ebooks from the Open Content Alliance
  • Ebooks from Project Gutenberg
  • Internet resources selected for review by the Open Directory Project
  • OAI-compliant resources, the metadata of which has been harvested by OAIster
  • Wikipedia articles

As an example of the benefits of being able to metasearch open resources, we are making freely available a pre-release demo version of Index Data's MasterKey search service that has these open content resources as targets....MasterKey is based on pazpar2, a metasearch engine that will be released under the General Public License within the next month or two.

Comments, questions, or suggestions can be made through our open content listserv, oclist,...or by writing info AT

Microsoft v. Google on copyright

I never blogged the speech by Microsoft lawyer, Thomas Rubin, blasting Google for massive copyright infringement.

Now that I'm catching up after a long period offline (forced by a double-whammy of hardware and connectivity problems) I won't go back to blog it from scratch.  But I've been following the controversy and am happy to recommend excellent comments by James Boyle, Lawrence Lessig, Fred von Lohmann, Jack Schofield, and Danny Sullivan.

OA in Europe and beyond

Richard Poynder, Open Access: The War in Europe, Open and Shut? March 15, 2007.  This is another detailed and wide-ranging (32 pp.) Poynder investigation.  Focusing primarily on the EC's February Communication on OA, Poynder also discusses the Brussels Declaration, the AAP hiring of Eric Dezenhall, the journal pricing crisis, the financial outlook for full and hybrid OA journals, the CERN project to convert particle physics journals to OA, the HHMI-Elsevier deal, prices charged for gold (and now green) OA, and the imminent re-introduction of FRPAA.  I excerpt only Richard's preface:

As the battle for Open Access (OA) to the scientific literature has intensified, so different fronts of conflict have opened up. With the proposed US Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) on hold as a result of the American election, the main action in February was in Europe — where the European Commission (EC) announced a number of measures intended to support OA.

However, to the disappointment of OA advocates — and despite the recommendations of its own study — the EC chose not to introduce a mandate requiring all publicly-funded research to be made freely available in open repositories. Why did the EC step back from the brink, and where does this leave the OA Movement? ...

The EC's long-awaited policy on Open Access was published as a Communication on 15th February, and formally announced at a conference on scientific publishing held in Brussels.
While the Commission has decided that it will encourage researchers to publish their papers in "author-pays" OA, or hybrid, journals it chose not to introduce a self-archiving mandate. Rather it will issue programme-specific "guidelines" for making publicly-funded research available on the Web after an embargo period. This, it says, will be done on a sectoral basis, taking into account the specificity of the different scholarly and scientific disciplines.

What this guideline approach will mean in practice, commented OA advocate Peter Suber in his March newsletter, is for the moment unclear. "It doesn't tell us when it will issue the guidelines, whether the guidelines will require or merely encourage OA … [or] … what the maximum permissible embargo will be … [However] ... It does tell us that the guidelines will vary by discipline and funding program; hence even if the rules in some areas are strong enough, others are likely to be weak."

Speaking to CORDIS News on February 17th, Horst Forster, director of digital content at the EC's directorate general for information society and media, confirmed: "We [the Commission] will not have a mandate on Open Access."

In other words, the EC seems inclined to adopt a voluntary, rather than compulsory, approach. The aim, Forster told CORDIS News, is to encourage experiments with new publishing business models that may improve access to and dissemination of scientific information, and to initiate a policy debate.

So why has the EC retreated from a mandate? ...

English translation of French agreement to use HAL for OA archiving

Memorandum of understanding for a coordinated approach on a national level to open archiving of scientific output, translated from the French original (July 2006) by INIST-CNRS (March 15, 2007).  Excerpt:

French Research Institutions, Universities and prestigious Higher Education Establishments have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the joint development and management of a shared platform for [open access] scientific outputs.


-  During the past few years, networks of disciplinary archives and institutional repositories for scientific findings and scholarly publications have been developing across the globe on an open archive basis ;

-  ArXiv in the field of physics and PubMed Central in the field of life sciences are two representative examples of disciplinary archives ; also a number of European academic institutional archives (Lund, Southampton, Bielefeld, etc.) are good international examples and worthy of consideration ;

-  At the institutional level, the Open Access movement is spreading across the continents and research institutions are looking for long-term preservation of their scientific output and for maximum visibility within international communities.

-  Various French research institutions, such as CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique), INRIA (Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique), INSERM (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale) and IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement), have undertaken to adopt such an institutional approach to archiving after signing the milestone Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities on 22nd October 2003, and have encouraged their researchers to post their scientific findings in open archives ;

-  French universities support the open access movement and some have developed local archives or are in the process of doing so ;

-  Access to scientific information is a major factor of development for emerging and developing countries ;

-  On 5th July 2005, the French Academy of Sciences expressed its support for direct scientific communication ;

-  The CNRS Center for Direct Scientific Communication (Centre pour la Communication Scientifique Directe - CCSD) introduced in 2001 the HAL server, a storage and dissemination tool for the self-archiving of scientific findings....

-  The signatories of this Memorandum of Understanding, CEMAGREF, CIRAD (Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement), CNRS, CPU (Conférence des présidents d’université), INRA, INRIA, INSERM, Institut Pasteur, IRD, and CGE (Conférence des Grandes Ecoles), (hereinafter “the Partners”), wish to acquire the necessary means to identify, disseminate, develop, promote and monitor the scientific output of their faculty members and researchers, within their research units and laboratories and, where applicable, of affiliated research teams. In order to maximise the chances of success of the project, the Partners have decided to join forces to acquire a common platform for archiving scientific findings which is interoperable with other open archives that meet the criteria for open access to scientific findings. The platform will allow researchers to communicate their findings directly to the international community via open archives ; it will enable research institutions (universities, public scientific and technical institutions (EPSTs)) and specialized higher education establishments (Grandes Ecoles) to collect, publish, develop, promote and preserve their scientific findings, therefore improving the visibility of French research in general within the international scientific community....

How national OA policies will affect libraries

The presentations from the SPARC-ACRL forum at the ALA midwinter meeting, Public Access: Federal Research Access Policies and How They'll Change Your Library (Seattle, January 20, 2007), are now online.  (Thanks to Adrian Ho.)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

OA support at SUNY Stony Brook

Lynn Hsieh, Open Access Debate Gains Momentum, The Stony Brook Statesman, March 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Nathan Baum, the Assistant Director for Electronic Resources and Services at Stony Brook said, “We support the Open Access Debate. We think it’s a good idea and may help bring the costs down for Electric Journals....” 

Dr. Susan Brennan, associate professor of Cognitive Psychology at Stony Brook, [said], “It is really aggravating when a scientific paper is unavailable when it's in a journal that our library doesn't carry because it's either too expensive or too obscure…I consider it both my right and my duty to make this research available.  I want other researchers to cite my research and build upon it.  My research is federally funded, so I want it to be available to all.”

The debate over open access resulted in the Federal Research Public Access Act proposed by the 110th Congress....

One way Stony Brook participates in Open Access is with [an institutional membership] with Biomed central....

Other proponents to the Open Access Debate, question the skyrocketing increases in publishing costs. According to Brennan, “the authors of published articles never receive monetary compensation either, but do have to pay for things like reprints…all of the profit goes to the publishing company.  Some of this is justified, as they pay for proofreading and copy-editing…But given the new procedures for highly efficient electronic submission, review, and distribution I would think that some of the publishing costs should actually be coming down rather than sharply rising.”

Research dissemination policy in South Africa

Eve Gray, The State of the Nation 2: Clashing paradigms in South African research publication policy, Gray Area, March 15, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Effective dissemination of higher education research and the availability of that research knowledge to the country that funds it - particularly in Africa - can be quite literally of life and death importance. Just think of the need for rapid responses to the AIDS pandemic, continually informed by the latest research findings. Yet when the question of publication and effective dissemination arises in the policy documents, it tends to be in terms of a generally unchallenged set of presumptions about what constitutes effective research dissemination - articles in accredited scholarly journals and registered patents....

The major policy framework for higher education research in South Africa is the research and innovation policy developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DST)....

To summarise somewhat brutally; the common theme across these policies is that South African research must address national development needs and contribute to employment and economic growth....

[T]he subsequent discussion of IP issues is far from clear, veering between recognition of the importance of public access and 'appreciation of the value of intellectual property as an instrument of wealth creation in South Africa' (68). These contradictions are not resolved in the strategy document....

[P]olicies framing rewards for research publication remain firmly in a collegial tradition in which the purpose of scholarly communication is turned inwards into the academy. The system is related to personal advancement in academe and the prestige of scholars and institutions in the international rankings rather than grappling with what it might mean to couple this with gearing research dissemination towards broader social goals....

Given the ever-rising cost of commercial journals, over-stretched library budgets and a weak exchange rate, this can mean, particularly for the less well-resourced universities, that a good deal of South African research is not readily accessible to South African scholars, let alone the community at large....

There are signs of hope that this impasse can be overcome. In the recent survey of scholarly publishing conducted by the Academy of Science of South Africa and commissioned by the DST, there is a clear commitment to boosting the quality and impact of local publication and to Open Access. South Africa is a signatory to the OECD Declaration on Access to Knowledge from Publicly Funded Research and this is tagged in the DST policy documentation as an area to be addressed. I will write more on this in a subsequent posting.

This post is Part 2.  Eve posted Part 1 on February 22, 2007, and I blogged it here on February 24.

Met + ARTstor = free scholarly use of images

Metropolitan Museum and ARTstor Announce Pioneering Initiative to Provide Digital Images to Scholars at No Charge, a press release from the Met, March 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

In a new initiative designed to assist scholars with teaching, study, and the publication of academic works, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will distribute, free of charge, high-resolution digital images from an expanding array of works in its renowned collection for use in academic publications. This new service, which is effective immediately, is available through ARTstor, a non-profit organization that makes art images available for educational use.

"The Metropolitan Museum of Art has long sought to address the significant challenges that scholars confront in seeking to secure and license images of objects from the Museum's collections," stated Metropolitan Museum Director Philippe de Montebello in making the announcement. "We hope, through this collaboration, to play a pioneering role in addressing one of the profound challenges facing scholars in art history, and scholarly publishing, today."

ARTstor's Executive Director, James Shulman, added: "By taking such a bold step in supporting publications based on art-historical research, the Metropolitan is providing enormous leadership to the entire sector. Scholars – in higher education and in museums – have been struggling with the question of how digitization might help to enable, rather than hinder, scholarly communications...."

Initially approached by the Metropolitan Museum in 2005 to develop this initiative, ARTstor has worked in close consultation with Metropolitan Museum staff to create its new service, entitled "Images for Academic Publishing" (IAP), which will make images available via software on the ARTstor Web site....Initially, nearly 1,700 images representative of the broad range of the Metropolitan Museum's encyclopedic collection will be available through the more than 730 institutions that currently license ARTstor. Efforts to expand this accessibility are now underway and will be announced by ARTstor at a later date....

Catalan Physical Society supports OA

The Catalan Physical Society has signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge.

Ignasi Labastida Juan tells me that the Society publishes an OA journal, Revista de Física, with both a print and online edition.

New OA journal on internet research ethics

The International Journal of Internet Research Ethics (IJIRE) is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Center for Information Policy Research, School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  The first issue is expected in October 2007.

More on the trashing of the EPA libraries

Glenn McGee has a good update in the March issue of The Scientist on the appalling destruction of the libraries at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Another kind of public funding for public access

In yesterday's issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, Susanna Ashton offers an appreciation of the public subsidies that allow interlibrary loan to be free of charge for library patrons in the US.

Swiss presentations on OA in the humanities and social sciences

The presentations from the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences meeting, Open Access: Vom Prinzip zur Umsetzung (Bern, March 1, 2007), are now online.  (Thanks to Donat Agosti.)

A book publisher's OA manifesto

Polimetrica, a publisher of OA monographs, has released an Open Access Manifesto, March 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

Polimetrica Publisher works from a simple premise: that for a better future of the people it's possible to disseminate the knowledge by publishing innovative books freely accessible to anyone in the world who might be interested.

Informed by that premise, we're trying to build a new model of scientific publishing that embraces economic self-subsistence, openness, and fairness; the model is based on the following elements:

  1. each scientific book is published in two editions: a printed edition, available in the market, and an electronic edition, freely available through the web; both editions are identified by a different ISBN code.
  2. each scientific book is edited in collaboration with universities or with authoritative professors or specialists.
  3. the printed edition is distributed on the international market.
  4. the electronic edition is free access through the Polimetrica web site.
  5. Polimetrica pays to the author or to the academic institution on all sales of the printed edition a 10% royalty of the net receipts.
  6. each scientific publication is funded by a contribution of 1.500 Euros about.
  7. anyone interested in our activities is encouraged to buy a membership; the members will have access to special conditions. Additional information [is available here]....

Comment.  Kudos to Polimetrica and especially to Giovanni Sica, its CEO.  There's enough evidence now that full-text OA stimulates a net increase in sales, at least for monographs (not necessarily for books of useful snippets like encyclopedias or cookbooks), that I expect to see more monograph publishers follow the lead of the National Academies Press and Polimetrica and commit themselves to OA.  Publishers who don't believe that the economics will work for them should experiment --as the American Association of University Presses (AAUP) recommended just last month.

Sign and act

Stevan Harnad, US and EU Both Have Petitions for OA Mandates, Open Access Archivangelism, March 14, 2007.  Excerpt:

The US Alliance for Tax-Payer Access and other sponsors have just launched a US counterpart to the highly successful and still-growing EU Petition calling for Open Access to be mandated by research funders and institutions....

If you are officially signing [either the US Petition or the EU Petition] for an organisation, please don't just sign the petition! Do locally what you are petitioning for: Adopt an OA self-archiving mandate at your institution, as the Rector of the University of Liege, Professor Bernard Rentier has just done...and register your mandate in ROARMAP (the Registry of Open Access Material Archiving Policies)....

More on the HHMI-Elsevier deal

Stevan Harnad, Double-Paying for Optional Gold OA Instead of Mandating Green OA While Subscriptions Are Still Paying for Publication: Trojan Folly, Open Access Archivangelism, March 13, 2007.  Excerpt:

On Fri, 9 Mar 2007, Leslie Chan wrote:

"I see the Howard Hughes Medical Institute HHMI-Elsevier deal [in which HHMI pays for for "gold" OA publishing of its funded research] as a major set back for institutional self-archiving as it muddies the green landscape, which I am sure is one of the underlying intents of Elsevier and other publishers in the STM group. I suspect more publishers may follow suit and reverse their stand on green if they think there is money to be made. Something needs to happen quickly. The Trojan Horse has proved to work, unfortunately. What should we do?"

I know exactly what needs to be done....The mandates must be Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access (ID/OA) mandates.

Let the access to the deposit be provisionally set as Closed Access wherever there is the slightest doubt. That way publishers have no say whatsoever in whether or when the deposit itself is done. Then let the EMAIL EPRINT REQUEST button...take care of the rest of its own accord....

If we keep flirting with embargoes and Gold and publishing reform and funding instead of univocally rallying behind the ID/OA mandate that will immunise us from publisher policies and further embargoes, we will get nowhere, and indeed we will lose ground....

Oncologists need better access

Time-Starved Oncologists Still Not Receiving Crucial Medical Information, a press release on a recent survey by VerusMed, March 7, 2007.  Excerpt:

Despite having no shortage of medical news and information resources, oncologists still say they are missing key health care information in several areas that are critical to their clinical practice, finds a VerusMed information needs survey of more than 100 oncologists.

Even though nearly half of oncologists surveyed spend three or more hours per week trying to keep current with advancements in cancer treatment, many say that they are still lacking essential information regarding post-marketing studies, toxicity management and reimbursement, among other areas....

The survey also found that out of the numerous ways to receive medical information, oncologists still rely on medical journals, conferences and other peer interactions as their primary knowledge resources.

Surprisingly, the physician information needs assessment also discovered that oncologists are not adopting new media technology very quickly. When asked to pick their top two preferences for receiving medical information, many said they still rely on traditional and electronic mail, followed closely by fax delivery....

Comment.  What is cause and what is effect here?  If more clinical oncology information were OA, would more oncologists look online for the information they need?

An open online infrastructure for archaeology

Eric Kansa, Archaeoinformatics Lectures, Digging Digitally, March 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

Keith Kintigh forwarded me an important announcement for the DDIG community:

As a member of SAA’s Digital Data Interest Group, we’d like to invite you to participate in a virtual lecture series that we hope can help set the direction for the development of a comprehensive cyberinfrastructure for archaeology. This series is organized by, a new consortium of five institutions that have joined together to advance the cause of building such a cyberinfrastructure. Briefly, our vision is for a disciplinary effort to build an open, Internet-based information infrastructure that will provide integrated, concept-oriented access to a distributed network of archaeological data sources–including databases, textual sources (such as gray literature reports and articles), and images....

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Jimmy Wales on OA

Laura Smith, Wiki man joins EC OA campaign, Information World Review, March 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

The petition has been signed by more than 20,000 academics, librarians and individuals around the world, including Nobel laureates.

It calls on the EC to formally endorse the recommendations outlined in a study it commissioned last year, which concluded that the EU should ensure the widest possible readership for scholarly articles.

Wales told IWR he had signed the petition because it was “simple and obvious” that the public should have access to research they had funded. “Public money should result in public benefit,” he said.

“If you can have research paid for by the public and then get them to pay again to see it, that is a profitable approach. But it contradicts the basic principles of an enlightened approach to scientific knowledge....

He admitted that wider dissemination of scientific research would help make Wikipedia more relevant. “The more people who have access to the latest research, the easier it will be for our volunteers to keep our articles on science up to date,” he said....

PS:  For more on how OA to peer-reviewed science can help Wikipedia, see John Willinsky's article in the current issue of First Monday.

Repository managers helping one another

SHERPA has launched UKCoRR (UK Council of Research Repositories).  From the announcement:

UKCoRR will be an independent professional body to allow repository managers to share experiences and discuss issues of common concern. It will give repository managers a group voice in national discussions and policy development independent of projects or temporary initiatives....

Developments over the past few years have meant that there is now a large and growing body of professionals engaged in repository management, development and maintenance. These new activities have been introduced in different institutions in different ways, with varying levels of support and resource. As repositories grow in recognition and importance, the role of the repository manager will also evolve and it is important that we can grow together as a community and learn from each other and our experiences....

The intention is for UKCoRR to develop as an independent body: we are grateful to JISC for the seedcorn funding for the initiation and launch of UKCORR as a development from the SHERPA Plus project....

More details on CERN's plan to convert TA journals to OA

CERN has released its Proposal to establish a Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics, March 9, 2007.  (Thanks to Jens Vigen.)  Excerpt:

High Energy Physics (HEP) and related fields have pioneered the OA principles since a long time through the so-called “repositories”...

Notwithstanding the success of repositories, there is a consensus in the scientific community that refereed journals will continue to fulfil important functions also in future....

The proposed initiative aims at building a new foundation for journal publishing through a large-scale transition of HEP journals to OA. It is based on a new business model operated
in partnership with publishers, pursuing a threefold goal:

  • provide open and unrestricted access to all HEP research literature in its final, peer-reviewed
    form, through electronic journals freely available on the Internet;
  • contain the overall cost of journal publishing e.g. by increasing competition, while assuring sustainability;
  • assert the complementary roles of repositories and journals: fast dissemination through advance versions of papers in repositories, quality control through the peer review organised by journals....

[W]e estimate that the annual budget for a transition of HEP
publishing to OA would amount to a maximum of 10 Million Euros per year. In comparison, the annual list price of a single HEP core journal today can be as high as 10’000 Euros; for 500 institutes worldwide actively involved in HEP, this represents an annual expenditure of 5 Million Euros [for just one journal].

In the present proposal, the publishers’ subscription income from multiple institutions is replaced by an “author-side” funding. Journals are paid through contracts between publishers and a single financial partner, the “Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics” (SCOAP3). SCOAP3 is envisioned as a global network of funding agencies, research laboratories, and libraries that will contribute the necessary funding; each SCOAP3 partner will recover its contribution from the cancellation of journal subscriptions. This model avoids the obvious disadvantage of authors being directly charged for the OA publication of their articles, which is perceived as an even higher barrier than subscription charges, in particular for theoretical physicists from small institutions who account for the vast majority of HEP papers....

In practice, the OA transition will be facilitated by the fact that a small number of established publishers and journals account for the vast majority of HEP papers....

The proposed model will initiate a significant shift of paradigm for the dissemination of results from scientific research, with new benefits and clearly defined roles for all stakeholders in the publication process:

  • Readers will benefit from unrestricted access to all relevant literature in their field of research.
  • Authors will benefit from a wider dissemination of their results, thus from better opportunities for recognition and career evolution. Their transition to OA will be transparent: they can continue to publish in the same journals as before. However, the increased visibility of their results will be a strong incentive to give preference to OA journals.
  • Publishers will benefit from a more sustainable business model than the traditional subscription scheme, becoming increasingly fragile in the Internet era....
  • Funding agencies will profit from increased visibility of their research results in high-quality OA journals. They will benefit from improved stability of publication costs and possible long-term savings generated by a competitive publication market. 
  • Libraries will benefit from solving the problem of spiraling subscription costs of HEP journals....

CERN presented the proposal at a meeting today in Geneva.

Liege adopts an OA mandate

The Université de Liège has adopted an OA mandate, thanks to its exemplary rector, Bernard Rentier.   From Rentier's announcement:

The University of Liege (ULg), Belgium, has now adopted mandatory institutional deposit of all its publications.

1. Every publication (article in a journal) by a ULg member must now be posted in the Institutional Repository ("La Digitheque"). By publication it is meant the author's version of the article after peer review and acceptance for publication by the editor....

2. Access to the IR is closed by default, unless opening up is authorised by the publisher. If the access is closed, it remains available to the author(s) only.

3. Metadata of the article are immediately available and they constitute a showcase of the University productivity. The accepted version deposited in the IR can be delivered via the e-mail e-print request button of the IR.

4. As soon as conditions are fulfilled, the author will open access to his accepted version.

The mandate will start as soon as the technical set up will be ready.

Comment.  Not only is this a university-level OA mandate --roughly the 12th worldwide, depending on how you count.  It's the first pure example of what Stevan Harnad calls the immediate deposit / optional access (ID/OA) policy, or what I call the dual deposit/release strategy.  Kudos to all at Liege, especially Rector Rentier.

2006 annual edition of Bailey bibliography

Charles W. Bailey Jr. has released the 2006 Annual Edition of his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography.  From his announcement:

Annual editions of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing
Bibliography are PDF files designed for printing. Each
annual edition is based on the last HTML version published
during the edition's year. Minor corrections, such as
updated URLs, have been made in the SEPB: 2006 Annual

The SEPB: 2006 Annual Edition is based on Version 66
(12/18/2006). The printed bibliography is over 230 pages
long. The PDF file is over 930 KB.

More on the AAUP statement on OA

Jennifer Howard, University Presses Try to Straddle the Battle Lines in Open-Access Debate, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 16, 2007 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

This winter has been colder than usual in many parts of the country, but in the open-access wars it's been a season of heated rhetoric. In January reports circulated in the journal Nature and in Scientific American that a division of the Association of American Publishers had hired a "pit bull" PR firm to help it respond to the threat posed by open access. Argue that "public access equals government censorship," the flaks reportedly advised.

Then, in February, an editor over at the Public Library of Science, a nonprofit group that publishes open-access journals, issued a call to arms on the group's blog: "For the sake of global scientific progress, human development, and poverty alleviation, it is surely time to end the slavery of traditional publishing."

A noticeably milder tone prevails in the Association of American University Presses' statement on open access, released last month. It neither embraces nor rejects the open-access revolution. Instead it calls for a broader, calmer approach, one that balances the virtues of the old and the new. And it asks that the discussion include the humanities and social sciences along with the scientific, technical, and medical fields that have been the primary focus of open-access campaigns, "lest an unfortunate new 'digital divide' should arise between fields and between different types of publishing." ...

Sanford G. Thatcher, director of Penn State University Press and principal author of the statement, says that in the middle is just where university presses belong. "We want to be an intermediary to bring different parties together, to engage in a more constructive dialogue than taking potshots at each other through PR agencies," he says....

Whereas many open-access proponents take what he calls a "gradualist evolutionary view," Mr. Thatcher wants publishers, universities, and scholars to be ready for rapid change if, say, the Federal Research Public Access Act passes....

For too long, Mr. Thatcher says, university presses have felt shut out of the debate. When the American Council of Learned Societies undertook a report on cyberinfrastructure in the humanities and social sciences last year, for instance, "we weren't part of the discussion from the beginning." Ditto with a recent investigation of copyright issues sponsored by Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. "They invited libraries and faculty, but they didn't invite any university-press people to comment on something that affects our operations substantially," Mr. Thatcher says....

The AAUP's statement appears to have struck a chord with [learned] societies.... "I was delighted with it," says William E. Davis, executive director of the American Anthropological Association, which publishes 22 scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. "It presented the issue that we are struggling with every day." He agrees with Mr. Thatcher that scholars must get more involved "as both consumers and producers of scholarship and help us figure out what might work."

Mr. Davis also directs the National Humanities Alliance Task Force on Open Access, which formed late last year. "We are struggling to help our member organizations figure out what kinds of alternative publishing models are out there that we might adopt or adapt to our own particular circumstances." The publishers' statement, he says, will help guide those discussions....


My hardware problem seems to be solved.  But now I'm facing an unrelated failure of my internet connection.  (I'm writing from a cafe.)

The two problems together have kept me essentially offline for five days --with a few brief and unpredictable exceptions when I could borrow equipment and my connection blinked on rather than off.  I'm much further behind than usual, both with the blog and email.  Please bear with me while I climb out of this hole.

How peer-reviewed OA research can help Wikipedia

John Willinsky, What open access research can do for Wikipedia, First Monday, March 2007. 

Abstract:   This study examines the degree to which Wikipedia entries cite or reference research and scholarship, and whether that research and scholarship is generally available to readers. Working on the assumption that where Wikipedia provides links to research and scholarship that readers can readily consult, it increases the authority, reliability, and educational quality of this popular encyclopedia, this study examines Wikipedia’s use of open access research and scholarship, that is, peer-reviewed journal articles that have been made freely available online. This study demonstrates among a sample of 100 Wikipedia entries, which included 168 sources or references, only two percent of the entries provided links to open access research and scholarship. However, it proved possible to locate, using Google Scholar and other search engines, relevant examples of open access work for 60 percent of a sub-set of 20 Wikipedia entries. The results suggest that much more can be done to enrich and enhance this encyclopedia’s representation of the current state of knowledge. To assist in this process, the study provides a guide to help Wikipedia contributors locate and utilize open access research and scholarship in creating and editing encyclopedia entries.

Update. Here's a good comment by Glyn Moody:

One of the central ideas behind openness is re-use - the ability to build on what has gone before, rather than re-inventing the wheel. And yet, as [Willinsky] demonstrates, there is sometimes surprisingly little sharing and re-use between the various opens....I can't help feeling that there is a larger lesson here, and that all the various opens should be doing more to build on each other's strengths as well as their own. After all, it's partly what all this openness is about. Perhaps we need a meta-open movement?

Update. Also see the comment by Matt Cockerill, publisher of BioMed Central.

More on the return of FRPAA

Randy Dotinga, Open Access Launches Journal Wars, Wired News, March 14, 2007.  Excerpt:

The $10 billion science publishing industry hasn't heard the last of a bill that would make publicly funded studies available for free.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has pledged this year to resurrect the Federal Research Public Access Act (S.2695), which would require federally funded research to become publicly available online within six months of being published.

"When it's the taxpayers that are underwriting projects in the federal government, they deserve to access the very things they're paying for," said Cornyn spokesman Brian Walsh. "This research is funded by American taxpayers and conducted by researchers funded by public institutions. But it's not widely available." ...

Groups including the Alliance for Taxpayer Access are rallying behind the bill. And the student organization has declared February 15 National Day for Open Access in support of the bill.

In response, publishers have hired Dezenhall Resources, a public relations firm famous for its aggressive tactics in high-profile cases, to disparage aspects of open source publishing.

According to e-mails obtained by Nature in January, the public relations firm advised the publishers to emphasize simple messages like "public access equals government censorship" and "paint a picture of what the world would look like without peer-reviewed articles."

Critics say money is the publishers' main concern: "They want to preserve their profits," said Gunther Eysenbach, an associate professor at the University of Toronto and publisher of the open-access Journal of Medical Internet Research. "That's their prerogative, being commercial publishers."

But the publishers say there's more to it. They warn that government interference will harm science....

The bill would apply to only federally funded research, but that's more than half the research in science journals, and up to 30 percent of in clinical journals (the rest is mostly paid for by pharmaceutical companies), according to Peter Banks, a publishing consultant and former publisher of medical journals in Fairfax, Virginia.

Some journals are embracing the open model -- which might make the looming bill all the more worrisome. Since 2000, some publications have made their (also peer-reviewed) contents available to the public for free. They now make up as much as 10 percent of all research journals.

Some, such as those published by BioMed Central and Public Library of Science, have become well-respected. "A few years ago, publishing in open access would be a radical thing to do," said Matthew Cockerill, publisher of BioMed Central. Now, "there are many fields where open-access journals lead the way." ...

After about seven years in the business, the for-profit BioMed Central expects to break even this year....

According to tax records, the Public Library of Science had a deficit of $975,000 in 2005 and spent $5.47 million. Its total revenue was $4.49 million.

By contrast, The New England Journal of Medicine made $44 million in 2005, $30 million from advertising and $14 million from subscriptions, according to Advertising Age. And its rival, JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, clocked in with $39 million in revenue, $33.2 million from advertising and $5.8 million from subscriptions.

How much damage could open access cause? Even if federal legislation passes, the journals could still sell subscriptions -- many scientists don't want to wait six months before seeing the latest finding.

Indeed, "for big journals, it's probably not a terrible risk," Banks said. "For someone like The New England Journal of Medicine or JAMA, I don't think many people are going to cancel their subscriptions because they're freely available after six months."

But more obscure journals published less than once a week, Banks said, could find themselves losing subscriptions. "That's the basis of the publishers' worries."

March/April D-Lib

The March/April issue of D-Lib Magazine is now online.  Here are the OA-related articles:

  • Philip M. Davis and Matthew J.L. Connolly, Institutional Repositories: Evaluating the Reasons for Non-use of Cornell University's Installation of DSpace.  Excerpt from abstract:  "Cornell's DSpace is largely underpopulated and underused by its faculty. Many of its collections are empty, and most collections contain few items. Those collections that experience steady growth are collections in which the university has made an administrative investment, such are requiring deposits of theses and dissertations into DSpace. Cornell faculty have little knowledge of and little motivation to use DSpace. Many faculty use alternatives to institutional repositories, such as their personal Web pages and disciplinary repositories, which are perceived to have higher community salience than one's affiliate institution. Faculty gave many reasons for not using repositories: redundancy with other modes of disseminating information, the learning curve, confusion with copyright, fear of plagiarism and having one's work scooped, associating one's work with inconsistent quality, and concerns about whether posting a manuscript constitutes 'publishing'."

  • Shigeki Sugita and five co-authors, Linking Service to Open Access Repositories.  Sugita described the article this way in a LibLicense post yesterday:  "AIRway project and OCLC Openly informatics division have developed a way to combine institutional repositories with linking services, which could help researchers obtain Open Access documents easily through the link resolver even when the affiliated organization has not subscribed to the electronic journal." 

PS:  D-Lib is an OA journal, and in this issue announces the D-Lib Alliance to provide financial and advisory support.  Please consider asking your institution to help the cause.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Petition for OA to publicly-funded research in the US

Eight non-profit organizations have launched a Petition for Public Access to Publicly Funded Research in the United States.  From the site:

This petition builds on the 23,000+ signatures collected from around the world in support of free and open access to European research and for the recommendations proposed in the EU's 'Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication Markets of Europe' as well as the 132 higher education leaders who have written of their explicit support for public access to publicly funded research.

Sign this petition to register your support for free and open access to research funded by the U.S. Federal government. For more information on current policies and legislation for taxpayer access to federally funded research – including the Federal Research Public Access Act – visit the Alliance for Taxpayer Access Web site

Please sign it as an individual, encourage your institution to sign it as an institution, and spread the word.  Your support will be critical in persuading Congress to adopt FRPAA.  Please sign it even you have already signed the European petition.

The European petition called for strong OA policy in Europe, and the new US petition calls for strong OA policy in the US.  The European petition welcomed signatories from around the world, but especially encouraged them from European researchers and research institutions; the US petition welcomes signatories from every country, but especially encourages them from the US researchers and institutions.

The organizations sponsoring the petition are the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), American Library Association (ALA), Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), FreeCulture, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Public Knowledge (PK), and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).

Update. Also see the SPARC press release, March 14, 2007.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


I'm having hardware problems (and writing this on a friend's machine). I expect a fix on Tuesday, March 13, and will start to catch up after that. Sorry for the involuntary hiatus.