Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 07, 2007

E-research in Australia

Moira Paterson and three co-authors, DART: a new missile in Australia's e-research strategy, Online Information Review, 31, 2 (2007) pp. 116-134.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far.

Purpose – The aim of this paper is to provide a brief overview of the evolution of a new e-research paradigm and to outline key projects and developments in Europe, North America, Canada and Australia. The article also provides a detailed summary of the Dataset Acquisition, Accessibility and Annotation e-Research Technology (DART) project.

Design/methodology/approach – A review of relevant government reports, documents and general literature was conducted.

Findings – Projects currently being conducted in Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia are part of an international movement that aims to use modern ICTs to enhance e-research. The DART project is a significant part of this movement as it has adopted a “whole process” approach to e-research, and provides a platform for the examination of the technical, legal and policy issues that arise in the new e-research environment.

Originality/value – Provides an overview of current projects that concern the development of e-research, with a particular focus on Australian research and the DART project.

Knowledge sharing in Vine

The new issue of Vine (vol. 37, no. 1, 2007) has three articles on knowledge sharing.  Only abstracts are free online, at least so far.

Friday, April 06, 2007

An OA funder mandate from Flanders

The chief Flemish research agency, Research Foundation - Flanders (Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek - Vlaanderen, or FWO) has adopted an OA mandate for FWO-funded research.  (Thanks to DRIVER News and several correspondents.) 

The policy is contained in Article 2, §2, of the new agreement for researchers.  Here's Sigi Jottkandt's English translation: 

Following the Berlin Declaration of 2003 for the promotion of free access to scientific knowledge and cultural heritage, beneficiaries of FWO projects, mandates and credits must deposit the publications that result from FWO subsidies in a public "Open Access" database, at the latest one year from publication date, in order to effect greater impact and valorization of their work. Researchers are also advised to deposit their other publications in such an "Open Access" database, together with the research data that resulted in these publications.

I understand that more details will be available soon.

PS:  Kudos to all involved at the FWO.  I don't know whether this is related to the OA mandate at the University of Liege, announced just last month, or to the 15 signatures to the Berlin Declaration from Belgian university rectors and government ministers announced the month before.  But there's no doubt that Belgium is now one of the world's OA hot spots.

IR coming to OK State

Rachel Mayberry, Web repository to be available next semester, Daily O'Collegian, April 3, 2007.  Excerpt:

This fall, OSU [Oklahoma State University] faculty and staff will no longer be left out of the loop with the library’s Digital Repository.

The repository, or E-Archive, is a Web site created about a year ago that highlights professors’ research, grad students’ theses and dissertations, and any OSU department or research unit’s presentations and conference papers.

Bonnie Ann Cain, the OSU library coordinator of communications and publications, said the repository holds about 9,000 documents accessible to anyone across the world, although certain documents and formats are available to only OSU students and faculty....

Robin Leech, the OSU library digital initiatives director, said later on this spring, the library is adding Honors College students’ capstone projects and prestigious faculty research award recipients into the repository.

Leech said the library holds an award ceremony for faculty that have outstanding achievements in their research field.
“We offer the winners a chance to upload their research permanently on the Web site,” Leech said....

“The professors are excited because they can send their information and research worldwide,” Leech said.

“There’s many on things published in the repository, so I spend a lot of time getting permission from copyrighters to scan and copy articles on the Web site,” Leech said.

Leech said the first 24 pages of the theses and dissertations are available for anyone to read, but OSU students can view the whole document.

“Anyone who participates in submitting to the repository receives a daily e-mail of how many people have been viewing their research information,” Leech said.

Bob Darcy, regents professor of political science and statistics, said he has submitted about 10-15 journal articles dealing with Oklahoma and Oklahoma politics to the repository....

Darcy said a lot of journals are more obscure than others.  “With the Digital Repository, all journals have a clear advantage at being fairly published in a straight-forward manner,” Darcy said.

Darcy said he got an e-mail from a Ph.D student in Canada, asking for his research, so he gave her the URL for the repository so she could access it....

New OA journal of digital humanities

The inaugural issue of the Digital Humanities Quarterly is finally online.  (I blogged its launch in October 2005.)  It looks like it will be worth the wait.  Here's an excerpt from the inaugural editorial by Julia Flanders, Wendell Piez, and Melissa Terras: 

Welcome to the first issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly: a new, online, open-access journal published by the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations. This issue has been a long time in the making....That level of challenge, however, was central to the venture from the start: the world may not need yet another academic journal, but it does need experiments in how academic journals are published. DHQ is conceived as just such an experiment, conducted by the community best suited to make it a success and learn from the results.

What is experimental about DHQ? First, it is an open-access journal, freely available to the public, and published under a Creative Commons license that permits copying, distribution, and transmission of the work for non-commercial purposes, as long as attribution is made. Copyright remains with the author, so that DHQ serves as a gathering point for the best digital humanities research, without becoming a barrier to further publication or reuse. Second, DHQ treats its articles as contributions to a growing research archive that will itself become an object of study. All articles are given a detailed XML encoding to mark genres, names, citations, and other features that may serve the future scholar interested in the emergence of the digital humanities as a research field. As articles accumulate, the journal’s interface will develop to exploit this markup through nuanced searching, visualization tools, and other modes of exploration. Finally, DHQ seeks to encourage experimentation with the forms of scholarly publication. The journal itself is multimodal and evolving: we accept multimedia and interactive submissions, and very shortly will be adding a blog and the ability to comment on DHQ articles....The opportunity to include interactive media, links to data sets, diagrams and audiovisual materials may in itself shift the way arguments are made....

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The OECD follows through on open data

If you remember, in January 2004 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued its Declaration on Access to Research Data From Public Funding.  Thirty-four signatory nations declared their "commitment towards the establishment of access regimes for digital research data from public funding in accordance with" a set of principles that included "openness".

In December 2006 the OECD followed up with a Recommendation of the Council concerning Access to Research Data from Public Funding.  (I missed it at the time and thank Andreas Hübner for noticing.) 

Here's my boiled down version of the new Recommendation:  we (the OECD) should offer further guidance for national policy; member nations should adopt open data policies; we should review their progress; and we should keep our recommendations up to date with new technologies and research practices.  Excerpt:

Recognising the wide range of benefits that arise from improving international access to, and use of, publicly funded research data....

Recognising that improved access to research data will increase the value derived from public investments in data collection, management and preservation;

Recognising that undue restrictions on access to, and use of, research data from public funding diminish the quality and efficiency of research and innovation;

Recognising that enhanced availability of research data from public funding for developing economies will enhance their participation in the global research system, thereby contributing to their social and economic development; ...

On the proposal of the Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy;

RECOMMENDS that Member countries take into consideration the Principles and Guidelines on Access to Research Data from Public Funding set out in the annex to this Recommendation [below] ... to develop policies and good practices related to the accessibility, use and management of research data;

INSTRUCTS the Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy to review the implementation of this Recommendation as necessary;

INSTRUCTS the Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy to review the Principles and Guidelines on Access to Research Data from Public Funding and when appropriate, to take into account advances in technology and research practices, with the intention of further fostering international co-operation.

The document then includes a lengthy section entitled, Principles And Guidelines For Access To Research Data From Public Funding, which spells out 13 principles for member nations to try to fulfill.  The first is "openness":  "Openness means access on equal terms for the international research community at the lowest possible cost, preferably at no more than the marginal cost of dissemination. Open access to research data from public funding should be easy, timely, user-friendly and preferably Internet-based."

Free movement of knowledge for the EU

The EU Research Commissioner, Janez Potocnik, is proposing to make "movement of knowledge" a fifth freedom alongside the movement of goods, services, capital, and labor guaranteed by the EU Treaty.  He spells out his concept in a new green paper, The European Research Area: New Perspectives, April 4, 2007.  Excerpt:

3.4.  Sharing knowledge

Generation, diffusion and exploitation of knowledge are at the core of the research system. In particular, access to knowledge generated by the public research base and its use by business and policymakers lie at the heart of the European Research Area, where knowledge must circulate without barriers throughout the whole society.

State-of-the-art knowledge is crucial for successful research in any scientific discipline. Reliable, affordable and permanent access to, and widespread dissemination of, scientific research results should therefore become defining principles for Europe's research landscape. The digital era has opened up numerous possibilities in this respect. Opportunities for progress can be seen, notably in the development of online libraries, repositories of scientific information and databases of publications and publicly funded research results. These should be integrated at European level and interlinked with similar databases in third countries. In particular, the system by which scientific information is published is pivotal for its validation and dissemination, and thus has a major impact on the excellence of European research22. Europe should stimulate the development of a 'continuum' of accessible and interlinked scientific information from raw data to publications, within and across different communities and countries....

A major hindrance is the inconsistent, and often inadequate, rules and approaches for managing intellectual property rights (IPR) resulting from public funding. The Commission has identified good practice and models of knowledge sharing between the public research base and industry which will serve to inspire further action at both EU and national levels....

At several points throughout the paper he inserts a text box with unanswered questions, as if for future discussion.  The only mention of open access comes up in Question 21:

Is there a need for EU-level policies and practices to improve and ensure open access to and dissemination of raw data and peer-reviewed publications from publicly funded research results?

Potocnik doesn't mention in this green paper that the EC received strong "yes" answers to this question from an EC-sponsored study in 2006, a December 2006 statement from the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC), and a January 2007 report from the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB).  His own February 2007 Communication on the subject gave a "yes" answer as well (p. 7):  "Initiatives leading to wider access to and dissemination of scientific information are necessary, especially with regard to journal articles and research data produced on the basis of public funding."  It's a little late to treat this merely as a topic for future discussion.  It's time to firm up the EC's commitment to the answer and to act on it.

Also see the press release on his green paper.

Update. The EC will welcome public comments on Potocnik's green paper from May 1 to August 31, 2007.

French report on mandating green OA

Dominique L'Hostis and Pascal Aventurier, Open archives: Towards a policy of mandatory deposit? A summary report on current developments, researcher practices and the role of institutionsINRA, March 4, 2007.  An English translation and update of the French original from November 2006.  (Thanks to Hélène Bosc.)  Excerpt:

Institutional repositories enable the storage (archiving) of all scientific work in a digital form for the purposes of access and preservation. Numerous studies have demonstrated that above all they provide added value in the form of increase in visibility, usage and impact for scientific work. Deposit rates, however, will remain very low (at around 15%), until institutions adopt mandatory deposit policies.

Mandatory deposit has shown itself to be the only way to ensure the deposit of 100% of annual research output in an open institutional archive, an essential condition for deriving all the benefits anticipated from Open Access. The mandate should be linked to assessment: this will guarantee a high deposit rate and facilitate the work of assessment commissions.

Linking mandatory deposit with the assessment process has two advantages:

  • an increase in the number of documents deposited in open institutional archives, thus guaranteeing the regular updating of data,
  • a considerable reduction in the work necessary to prepare assessments, for both assessors and researchers....

Copyright barriers to access

Rufus Pollock, The Need for More Openness, a PPT presentation at the conference, Copyright and Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Edinburgh, March 30, 2007).  On open access, open data, and how current copyright law blocks desirable advances.

Also see his blog notes on the conference.  Excerpt:

I was most struck by the points made by Professor Geoffrey Boulton in his summing up of the ‘Copyright Owners’ panel in which he voiced strong support for moves to open up information — as an anecdote he narrated how his own research group (which works on Climate Change) had ended up mainly collaborating with academics from the US in large part because it was so easy to get access to US geodata.

OA to Canadian mapping data

Canada's New Government Provides Free Online Access to Digital Mapping Data, a press release from the Canadian government, April 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

Experts and other users of digital topographic data will no longer have to pay to use digital versions of government maps and data. The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources, today announced that as of April 1, 2007, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) began making its electronic topographic mapping data available to all users free of charge over the Internet.

"Our Government recognizes the importance of providing Canadians with access to the latest digital mapping information at no cost," said Minister Lunn. "Not only will Canadians now have free access to digital maps, but Canada will be known as an important source for digital mapping data around the world." ...

The new no-fee access policy applies to data that is solely owned by NRCan. This policy builds on an earlier initiative [GeoBase], which in 2003 provided free access to various co-owned federal, provincial and territorial topographic data. As well as waiving access fees, NRCan is lifting all cost and licence restrictions on the redistribution of the data. This will help ensure that accurate and consistent information is available for users.

NRCan has provided the private sector with access to digital topographic data since the early 1990s. With the ongoing rapid growth of the Internet and the resulting drop in distribution costs, it is appropriate to make public information in digital form available without any restrictions on its use or redistribution. The data collections will be made available through the GeoGratis Web portal.  Users will need to have a geographic information system or image analysis system and the graphics applications of editing software to view the data....

Update. The folks at the UK Free Our Data campaign have confirmed that the Canadian mapping data are free for commercial as well as noncommercial use:

...I’ve spoken to Ann Martin, who is director of the digital dissemination division at NRCan, and she confirms: yes, the data can be sold on without any royalties being due. That’s a change from the situation that used to prevail, where NRCan would license the data to users and resellers; there was also a royalty structure which meant resellers had to pay some of their earnings back to NRCan....Ms Martin told me that the previous licensing system was complex: "it almost cost more to administer than it brought in," she said.

Update. Here's another from the same folks:

Since writing [the above] however I’ve also been contacted by Tracey Lauriault, of the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. She points out...[that] Canada’s federal maps might be free, but the really useful data lie closer to the local level - and those are still charged for, quite substantially in some cases....

April issue of Hardin news

The April issue of the Hardin Scholarly Communication News is now online.  This issue has 13 brief stories on OA-related developments.  While all have been blogged here, it's a digest that helps see the forest through the trees.

Willinsky podcast on the sea change in scholarly publishing

John Willinsky, Open Access: The Sea Change in Scholarly Publishing, a podcast of a recent talk at the University of Alberta.  (Thanks to OA Librarian.)

OA advances science

Alma Swan, Open Access and the Progress of Science, American Scientist, April-June 2007.  Excerpt:

...If we could start now, equipped with the World Wide Web, computers in every laboratory or institution and a global view of the scientific research effort, would we come up with the system for communicating knowledge that we have today?...

No, we would think of a new way, one that would provide for rapid dissemination of results that any scientist could access, easily and without barriers of cost. We might debate how to implement quality control, how to ensure that originators of ideas or findings are given their proper due, how our new and better system should be paid for and how to deal with bandwidth constraints in some parts of the world. But no one would say, "Hey, why don't we only let some researchers see this stuff and see how science gets on?" Yet that is precisely where we are today....

The bickering over varied business models, and the side arguments over public access to publicly funded results, obscure a larger, more important question: Can open access...advance science? My work involves measuring, analyzing and assessing developments in scholarly communication. From that perspective I argue that the answer is yes, and that the advance of science is the prime reason that access is an imperative....

[A]n open-access article has greater visibility, and it's becoming evident that scientists do take the opportunity to read and use what they would otherwise not have seen....[A]cross a range of scholarly disciplines, opening access to articles increases their citation rate....

[I]n some fields of physics (high-energy, condensed matter and astrophysics) [open access] has been commonplace for more than a decade. The arXiv, an open-access archive now maintained at Cornell University, contains copies of almost every article published in these disciplines, deposited by the authors for all to use. Tim Brody of Southampton University has measured the time between when articles are deposited in arXiv and when citations to those articles begin to appear. Over the years, this interval has been shrinking as the arXiv has come into near-universal use....In other words, a system built on open access is shortening the research cycle in these disciplines, accelerating progress and increasing efficiency in physics.

Open access can also advance science by enabling semantic computer technologies to work more effectively on the research record....Semantic technologies can do two things. First, they hold out the promise of being able to integrate different types of research output—articles, databases and other digital material—to form a single, integrated information resource and to create new, meaningful and useful information from it....Second, Web 2.0 technologies, the set of tools that aid collaborative effort....

Open access also enables a different kind of software tool to aid the management of science. Such tools...can track the evolution of ideas, topics and fields and facilitate trends analysis, enabling better prediction of which research areas are waxing and waning. The value of such tools to research managers, policymakers and funders will be enormous, enabling better funding and planning decisions to be made in the interest of scientific progress. To work, though, they need access to the full-text of research articles—an open literature.

Finally, literature facilitates the finding and coming together of disparate scientific efforts that in a closed-access world are circumscribed by conventional definitions of topic, field or discipline and isolated from one another in discrete families of journals....

New work by economist John Houghton and colleagues at the University of Victoria in Melbourne shows that enhanced access to research findings is likely to result in an enhanced return on investment in research and development, something that can benefit every economy in the world....

Comment.  Alma is right:  the central question is whether OA advances science and scholarship better than the current system.  If it does, then we should agree on the goal and work together on the means.  We may be close to agreement on the goal already --or at least most the bickering seems to be about the means.  Some of this bickering is unavoidable:  there are some honest disagreements about the means.  But some is not:  there is widespread fixation on illusory problems and repetition of groundless objections.  This confuses many researchers and policy-makers new to the debate, who erroneously conclude that the disagreements go to the merits of OA itself rather than to implementation details.  If we were more explicit in our agreement on the goal, then more stakeholders would join the work of implementing it and the work could be less fractious and more collaborative.  And if we encountered new, real problems --problems not already solved and not based on misunderstandings-- then we could start from agreement that they were worth solving.

Update. Steve Hitchcock has blogged some excerpts from discussion lists in which supporters and critics of OA were debating the issues raised by Alma Swan's article. (Alma's article was already in press at the time.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Preserving OA journals with LOCKSS

JISC and the University of Glasgow have launched OpenLOCKSS, a new program to use LOCKSS for preserving OA journals.  From the announcement:

The OpenLOCKSS project, funded by JISC and led by the University of Glasgow will negotiate with a number of UK Open Access publishers to seek their permission for the inclusion of their titles in LOCKSS.

Just before Christmas 2006 participants in the UK's LOCKSS Pilot programme received a survey asking them to 'vote' for open access titles, mainly UK based taken from the DOAJ list. This was done with a view to contacting the most popular titles and making arrangements if possible for them to participate in LOCKSS preservation arrangements (BioMed Central titles have been excluded, as they are already in contact with LOCKSS)....

JISC have asked the University of Glasgow to take this forward and the OpenLOCKSS project has been set up, to run until the end of July 2007. The project aims to bring around 12-15 titles into LOCKSS participation....

An OpenLOCKSS project website has been set up and while still in a relatively early stage of development it includes the proposal to JISC with the full survey results, together with the project deliverables, workplan and timescale....

Openness to data is part of their long-term preservation

Adrian Burton, Avoiding a digital dark age, Science Alert, April 5, 2007.   Burton is the Project Leader for the Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (APSR)Excerpt:

Advances in information and telecommunications technology present opportunities and risks for research and research data.  These advances are propelling us into a new age of research. The question is “Is this a golden age or a dark age for research information?” ...

If all works out nicely, this represents a golden age for researchers: unlimited new online collections of data and research information with powerful tools for aggregating, analysing, and accessing that information.  But what are the risks?

Being able to preserve digital data is a must for a golden age of research information, and a major risk is therefore the rapid obsolescence of digital objects....[Without stewardship and continuity of access] these online research collections and datasets will never last long enough to revolutionise the way we do research.  At worst a new digital dark age will follow where access to the previous generations’ information is severely compromised....

The golden age is predicated on openness, a willingness to grant access to scholarly outputs and research data....

Openness of research data has social barriers in some disciplines where primacy and sole use of data is important to academic reputation.  Other disciplines have adopted at a community level a greater expectation of immediate open access to research data.

Advances in ICT technology are enabling the prospect of a golden age of research information. However the barbarians are massing outside the empire, and unless we invest to secure digital longevity, persistent identification, interoperability, richness of data, and open access, a regression into a digital dark age is also possible.

SSHRC funding program will help OA journals

Aid to Open-Access Research Journals, a new funding program from Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)  From the page:

SSHRC recognizes that the peer-reviewed scholarly journal is a primary tool for fostering intellectual debate and inquiry. Today, new information and communications technologies are beginning to change the way research results are published and disseminated. Open-access journals, published online and made available to the reader without charge, are allowing for increased and more broad-based and efficient access to scholarly literature, and, ultimately, knowledge.

SSHRC welcomes this change and, through this Aid to Open-Access Research Journals program, will contribute to maximizing the national and international impact of advanced scholarship in the social sciences and humanities....

The objectives of this program are to:

  • assist journals offering barrier-free access to peer-reviewed scholarship in the social sciences and humanities;
  • increase readership, both nationally and internationally, for research journals that publish original scholarship in the social sciences and humanities;
  • allow SSHRC to test a new funding model and approach to adjudicating grant applications from research journals, in preparation for the revised research journals support program, which will be launched in 2008-09....

[F]unds will be awarded to help defray the costs of publishing scholarly articles. Grants are to be considered a contribution to the journal’s operating costs for production and distribution. Eligible expenses include those related to:

  • management of the peer-review process (including honoraria provided to support staff);
  • editing (including staff salaries, release time and travel expenses);
  • purchasing software;
  • preparing copy (including typesetting, copy-editing and translation);
  • document layout (including image presentation, and converting images to digital formats);
  • technical assistance;
  • marketing and other promotional activities;
  • electronic-publication service providers....

Grants are tenable for 12 months and are not renewable. The maximum value of a grant is $25,000....

The application deadline for the current funding cycle is June 30, 2007.  The results will be announced in September.

Richard Poynder interviews Leo Waaijers

Richard Poynder, The OA Interviews: Leo Waaijers, Open and Shut?  April 4, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Netherlands is a leading nation in the ongoing struggle for Open Access (OA). It has been more successful than any other country in creating a network of institutional repositories, and it has led the world in deposit rates — most notably by means of its Cream of Science and Promise of Science initiatives. Significantly, it has achieved this without the need to mandate researchers to deposit their research papers. Instead it has incentivised them. Much of the credit for this success must go to the manager of SURFshare Leo Waaijers.

But how successful is successful? Can the Netherlands ensure that the entire nation's research output will eventually become freely available on the Web without a mandate? ...

RP: ...How do you define OA...?

LW: OA to knowledge means that the only access limit is your own comprehension....

RP: What's your view on the respective merits of [green and gold approaches to OA]?

LW: In terms of the OAI layers: green is data, gold is a service....The point is that green is necessary but insufficient on its own....

RP: There has also been some debate about what research institutions should be placing in IRs. What are your views on this?

LW: Every research result of the institution that's meant for reuse and sharing should be placed in the IR. I would stress that the institution is responsible for the quality of the stuff in its IR. And while it could outsource elements of the quality control — e.g. to a publisher — that does not exempt it from this responsibility....

RP: It's widely agreed...that the greatest problem facing IRs today is getting people to put material into them....What's your take on this problem, and what is the answer?

LW: The main driver for authors is exposure. That's why they write in the first place. So, you get their co-operation if you can demonstrate that putting their papers in an IR is not detrimental to their current exposure (from publishing in journals), that it gives them new exposure (by making their work available through, say, Google Scholar, and through national, institutional, personal, disciplinary or other document-based web sites), and that it guarantees long term exposure (curation). You also need to convince them that they can achieve all that without too many (perceived) problems.  In short, what we need to do is to remove all the barriers (administrative, technical and copyright barriers), create awareness and, foremost, exhibit good practices and champions. Repositories per se are part of an infrastructure and do not sell themselves. It's services that do the trick....

RP: ...Are you in favour of [mandating green OA]?

LW: Not primarily. Authors are spontaneously in favour of Open Access. All that stops them from acting are the administrative, financial and copyright obstacles that exist, or are perceived to exist. So, the first priority for institutions or research funders should be to remove those (mental) hurdles. Only when that has been done will an institution be in a position to mandate self-archiving for the few academic mavericks who always oppose everything.  In other words, mandating could be an eventual step, but a mandate is not necessary in order to start the institutional OA enabling process....

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

How libraries will use their copies of Google-scanned books

Jill E. Grogg and Beth Ashmore, Google Book Search Libraries and Their Digital Copies, Searcher, April 2007.  Excerpt:

...How will the librarians at participating Google Book Search libraries use their copies of the digitized books, commonly referred to as the library digital copy, the copy that Google gave to them in return for their participation in the Book Search project? ...

According to [Jennifer Colvin, strategic communications manager, U of California Office of the President], UC has organized a “system-wide group with representatives from across the UC system to try to figure out what the next step is going to be and how we can possibly integrate those digital books in with our collection.” According to [Dale Flecker, associate director of the Harvard University Library for Planning and Systems], Harvard is not using the data at this point: ...“We are excited about the possibility of making the collection of scanned books available in the future for text mining, which we believe will open up powerful new ways of doing research.” ...

[T]he Google Library partners meet twice a year to take advantage of the lessons learned from each of their very individual ventures....

[Karin Wittenborg, university librarian, U of Virginia] emphasized the opportunity this presents for UVA: “...[O]nce we suddenly get content, we will find out there are all kinds of things we can do. I think there will be parts of the content that we will mark up for added value, but we just don’t know yet.”

UW-Madison, another new member of this exclusive club, has particular plans for organizing and providing access to the library’s digital copies of Google-scanned material. [Edward Van Gemert, interim director at the U of Wisconsin - Madison Libraries] stated: “Our intention is to have material searchable through our OPAC and our intention is to collaborate with other CIC [Committee on Institutional Cooperation] institutions on a shared digital repository.” ...

[The University of Michigan] has one of the most developed systems for providing access to its Google scanned materials — MBooks. MBooks allows patrons to discover books through full-text searching in its online catalog, Mirlyn. Once a title is identified, a patron can click on a link, which takes them to a “page turner” interface that allows them to navigate the book, print individual pages, and enlarge and rotate the page image as well as to search within that individual title....

High-citation journal attributes its success to OA

Gary Taubes interviews Derek McPhee in the April issue of Thomson's In-Cites.  (Thanks to Dietrich Rordorf.)  Excerpt:

In a recent analysis of Essential Science Indicators data, the journal Molecules was named a New Entrant in the field of Chemistry. The journal’s current record in this field includes 1,118 highly cited papers cited a total of 2,289 times to date. In the interview below, in-cites correspondent Gary Taubes talks with Dr. Derek McPhee, the Editor-in-Chief of Molecules....

Was there a change in policy or editorial direction that might account for your recent success?

The main one has been the decision to go entirely to open access with the author or institution pay model. Over the years, we tried a variety of models. We tried a subscription base, for instance, that would financially support the journal, but that didn’t work terribly well. We had mixed models, in which papers whose authors did not want to pay fees could either contribute samples to the repository or their articles could be subscription-only access —pay per view. Those would be password-protected and so nobody could read them without paying for them. But we found that with so much free literature out there, that’s a hard sell. So over the past couple of years, we’ve moved to be completely free to readers, with all payments coming from authors or institutions. Although because we get submissions often from developing countries, where $500 is a lot of money, in many instances the fees are waived....

Have there been specific developments in the fields served by your journal that may have contributed to your rising citation rate?

Not in the field itself so much as in electronic publishing as a whole. The whole advent of open-access publication and the Internet allowed for the proliferation of electronic journals. Molecules is perhaps unique in that it is one of the first and survived so long....

Monday, April 02, 2007

JISC invests in UK institutional repositories

JISC has announced significant new funding for institutional repositories in the UK.  From its press release (March 30, 2007):

Over 80 projects, totalling more than £15m of funding, have been successful in the latest round of JISC’s capital programme, it was announced today.

The projects are being funded under e-learning, repositories and preservation, e-infrastructure, users and innovation, and e-research strands of the overarching programme, which represents an investment of some £90m over three years. The call for proposals was issued in September of last year, the second of three under the programme....

The heaviest investment in the current round of funding is being made in support of the establishment and development of institutional repositories. Nearly £5m is being awarded to more than 40 projects, including start up and enhancement projects, preservation activities, those building tools such as software, metadata, retrieval and text-mining tools, and projects building national infrastructure services.

The current round of funding follows the award of £5.5m last September and a range of other activities under the overarching capital programme, including: SuperJANET5, the upgrade to the JANET network (£27.6m); enhancements to the national e-infrastructure, including enhancements in the areas of access management, the National Grid Service and text mining (£3.6m); [and] the establishment of 'The Depot', a repository which can host research outputs should institutions not have a repository in which to deposit (£0.5m)....

A third call for proposals, to be issued in April, will focus on e-learning, repositories and preservation and semantic services for e-infrastructure alongside a cross-programme call.
For details of the newly-funded projects, please go [here]....

More on French plans to provide OA through HAL

INRIA’s Literature Goes Open Access, IRISA News, April 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

The French research community is veering toward open access publishing under flagship of HAL web depository. Research institute INRIA has joined the move. Its scientific production is now available on this server, featuring archives, fresh papers, conference proceedings and so forth.

Last October, ten major French scientific organizations, among which INRIA, signed an agreement whereby, each will contribute to a common on-line and open access scientific publication platform. The French universities are also expected to climb on board soon. Rather than starting from scratch, it will build upon HAL (Hyper Article en Ligne), a web database initiated by CNRS-run CCSD....Illustrating its institutional commitment to the open archives, INRIA has contributed its entire collection. In addition, researchers are invited to deposit their scientific output. Self-archiving on HAL is already a habit for roughly one third of them. The institute’s goal is to reach 100% within a 5-year period....

The open access groundswell came as a response to [a] longing for reappropriation, with pro bono goal of providing freely accessible repositories of intellectual material. It accounts for a paltry 20% the world output, but in some domains like theoretical physics, figures nudge 90%....With 1,200 texts added monthly, [HAL] receives an average 15% of the national scientific output.

Operated on volunteer-only basis, HAL doesn’t require researchers to deposit their work in any mandatory fashion ...yet. But that may change in the future as DRGI, a department of  French ministry of Research, considers “the option” of making compulsory the publication for results of research that have been financed through ANR, the French national research agency.

The same idea is being tossed around in Brussels. In a recent report, EURAB, the European Research Advisory Board recommended that “the Commission should consider mandating all researchers funded under FP7 to lodge their publications resulting from EC-funded research in an open access repository as soon as possible after publication, to be made openly accessible within 6 months at the latest....” ...

The report follows a January 2006 survey in favour of “a European policy mandating published articles arising from EC-funded research....Fearing a barrage by editors lobby, open archives advocates have started a petition urging the Commission “to endorse the recommendations in full.” ....

Further along in the pipe is the long-run goal of meshing together the scattered depositories of all member states, into a broader and fully standardized European knowledge base. Roadmap to this ambition is DRIVER: Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European. 10 universities, so far, have joined this partnership in which EU sees a content-oriented complementary counterpart to Géant2, the much appraised infrastructure for computing resources and data transport....

Open Medicine launches this month

Tanya Talaga, Fired editors launch online medical journal, Toronto Star, April 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

The editors who were fired or resigned over the editorial-independence controversy at the Canadian Medical Association Journal have reunited to start their own free, online medical journal.

Open Medicine will be a peer-reviewed, independent open-access journal that does not accept advertising from pharmaceutical or medical-device companies. It is published only [online, here]. The launch date of the first issue is April 17.

The virtual journal's publisher is John Willinsky, a professor in the faculty of education from the University of British Columbia.  Co-editors are Dr. Anita Palepu, an internist with St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver and Dr. Stephen Choi, an emergency physician from The Ottawa Hospital.

The idea of starting an open-access journal began shortly after the firings of the CMAJ's former editor Dr. John Hoey and senior deputy editor Anne Marie Todkill in February 2006....

"It's the academic freedom issue that is really at the heart of this," said Willinsky. So is independence from a professional organization like the Canadian Medical Association and freedom from advertising dollars from drug companies, he added....

The journal is also conceived with the idea that there should be no financial barriers to accessing information that can benefit human health and scientific advancement. The authors of studies posted on the journal retain ownership and control over the articles they produce, unlike other medical journals that maintain copyrights. Simon Fraser University's library is hosting Open Medicine's website on their server....

Hoey and Todkill's firings [from CMAJ] were largely condemned throughout the international medical community. After the move, many members of the CMAJ's editorial board resigned in protest, concerned over editorial autonomy....Hoey and Todkill won the 2006 National Press Club of Canada's World Press Freedom award....

For data, public domain is better than CC license

Jo Walsh, Copyright not applicable to geodata?  Open Knowledge Foundation weblog, April 1, 2007.  Excerpt:

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard new questions and opinions about open licensing of geographic information, coming from several different directions. Specifically:

  • Local and regional authorities in Italy and in New Zealand among others, have been looking into whether it is appropriate to use a Creative Commons license for geodata.
  • Richard Fairhurst of the OpenStreetmap project are attempting to find out whether database right, rather than CC-style copyright, is a potential option for open licensing its data.
  • Chris Holmes, having submitted repackaged public domain data with service configurations, the lot under a CC-SA license, to the OSGeo geodata repository, has been seeking informal legal advice from Science Commons, the data licensing arm of Creative Commons.

Chris’s email to the osgeo/geodata list offers some context and the conclusion that copyright-based licenses are inapplicable to geographic information in its state as a “collection of facts”. CC, by this reading, just does not apply to geographic data (though it may apply to a rendered map as a creative expression of the underlying facts). In using a copyright-based license for open data, we risk imposing constraints that are new and unenforceable.

… the Science Commons initiative is about getting science data more available, which unlike geospatial data is something that traditionally has been available for all, only published papers about the data were under copyright. So they would be very hesitant to create a regime for data licensing that would make it easier for people to put more restrictions on their data. They are launching a ‘facts are free’ campaign soon to get across to the world that one can’t copyright scientific data.

The Science Commons FAQ on databases and copyright goes into more detail on to-CC-or-not-to-CC for “factual” information....

Update. Also see Eric Kansa's further reflections, esp. on the incentives to cite those who discovered or published certain facts, even if the facts themselves are in the public domain.

April SOAN

I just mailed the April issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at two publisher policies to charge fees for OA archiving (green OA):  the AuthorChoice policy from the American Chemical Society and the new agreement between Elsevier and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  The round-up section briefly notes 77 OA developments from March.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Librarians anticipate public access to publicly-funded research

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has released its list of the Top Ten Assumptions for the future of academic libraries, March 31, 2007.  Excerpt:

...The ACRL Research Committee developed the top ten assumptions after surveying member leaders and conducting a literature review. A panel representing community and liberal arts colleges, research university libraries, as well as an observer of the higher education environment reacted and commented upon the assumptions at the ACRL National Conference.... 

1. There will be an increased emphasis on digitizing collections....

3. Students and faculty will increasingly demand faster and greater access to services.

4. Debates about intellectual property will become increasingly common in higher education....

9. Free, public access to information stemming from publicly funded research will continue to grow....

“Public access to taxpayer funded research is perhaps the most unpredictable and exciting of the ten, and legislation will play a key role here,” said James L. Mullins, chair of the ACRL Research Committee and dean of libraries at Purdue University. “It will be advantageous to the academic community to focus on scholarly communication issues by exploring alternatives to the present mode of disseminating research findings.  Librarians must collaborate in this discussion with disciplinary colleagues, yet not make it a “libraries” issue only.”  

A podcast featuring [ACRL President Pamela Snelson] and Mullins discussing the top ten assumptions is available [here]. Read more by Mullins and committee members in the April issue of College & Research Libraries News [here].

The ACRL Research Committee invites comment from librarians. How does each assumption impact your library or you professionally? Are you aware of any developing issues or nascent trends that are not captured in the list? Reply online by April 30, 2007 [here]....

More on OA to CRS reports

A group of public-interest advocacy organizations asked Congress on Thursday to provide OA to the highly-regarded, publicly-funded, non-classified reports from the Congressional Research Service (CRS).  (Thanks to Mike Carroll.)   From the press release (March 29, 2007): 

Congress must make the critical, taxpayer-funded reports produced by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) available to the public over the Internet, a group of public interest advocates told congressional leaders today.

In letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Rules and Senate Rules and Administration Committees, the groups, organized by the Open the Government Project and the Center for Democracy & Technology urged lawmakers to fix a policy that makes it easy for deep-pocketed lobbyists to obtain the reports but leaves most ordinary Americans unable to take advantage of an important source of government information.... [PS:  See the Pelosi letter, Senate Rules letter, and House Administration letter.]

"The time has long since come to end this baseless, unfair policy," CDT Deputy Director Ari Schwartz said. "In the Internet age, it is unconscionable that these important, unclassified documents should remain out of reach for the great majority of Americans."

American taxpayers spend over $100 million a year to fund the CRS, which generates detailed reports relevant to current political events for lawmakers. But while the reports are non-classified, and play a critical role in our political process, they have never been made available in a consistent way to members of the public. CRS already maintains a fully searchable, password-protected Web site for members of Congress. Increasing capacity and providing public access to that site would constitute a trivial expense for the Library of Congress.

To fill the public void left by the CRS, several private companies now sell copies of the reports at a price. This means that for lobbyists, executives and others who can afford to pay, CRS reports are readily available. Meanwhile, the vast majority of American citizens continue to lack the information necessary to even request reports.

"Such inequitable access to taxpayer-funded government information should be anathema in an open society, but it is the predictable outcome of an archaic policy that should never have survived this long into the digital age," Open the Government Project Director Patrice McDermott said.

The groups including American Association of Law Libraries, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Common Cause, Electronic Frontier Foundation, EnviroJustice, Feminists for Free Expression, Free Government Information, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Security Archive, Northern California Association of Law Libraries, OMB Watch, Pension Rights Center, Political Research Associates, Education Fund, Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, Southern California Association of Law Libraries. Special Libraries Association, and the Sunlight Foundation urged lawmakers to hold hearings on the issue and to actively support legislation to provide the public with direct, no-fee access to all CRS reports.

OA aids collaborative research

William J. Turkel, Digital Infrastructure for Collaborative Research, Digital History Hacks, March 30, 2007.  Excerpt:

Web 2.0 teaches us to think in terms of remixable web services that can join people together on the fly to create collective intelligences. Such groups can readily solve problems that are well beyond the scope or capabilities of any particular individual, and thus will have important ramifications for future research. One of the key opportunities for digital humanists is to find ways to harness this power in our collaborative work.

Here I will lay out a few principles and ideas for such an infrastructure; as always, I’d be grateful for any feedback.

1. Open access and open source. The principle of open access is to make research results freely available to everyone. Open access research reaches a greater audience than gated research and has more impact. Errors are more readily caught. Copies are more likely to be archived. Social inequities are lessened....

Update on growth of OA

Heather Morrison, Dramatic Growth of Open Access: March 31, 2007 Update and Open Data Edition, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, March 31, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Dramatic Growth of Open Access is now available in an Open Data Edition [a Google spreadsheet].  Complete data is now kept in the Open Data edition, while The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics edition focuses on commentary....

OAIster, a union catalog of digital resources provided by the University of Michigan, achieved an important milestone this quarter, exceeding the 10 million item mark. OAIster also features a new, more user-friendly search interface. More OAIster statistics, including impressive growth in search rates and the global distribution of OAIster repositories, are available. OAIster has added more than a million items, and 34 new repositories, just this quarter....

The Registry of Open Repositories (ROAR) now includes 862 repositories, more than OAIster's 762. ROAR contains a wealth of statistical information and charts, although the author has not discovered an easy means of calculating the total number of items and/or fulltext in the ROAR repositories.

The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Metadata Harvester grew by 20% this quarter (just under 5,000 items), for an amazing annual equivalent rate of 80%.

and E-LIS each grew by 10% this quarter, for an annual equivalent of 40%. Highwire Press Free Online Articles was not far behind, with an 8% growth or annual equivalent of 32%.

The growth rate of the large, well-established archives (arXiv and RePEC) was lower, in percentage terms, as expected.
The Directory of Open Access Journals added 104 titles this quarter, a rate of more than 1 per calendar day. This is a slightly slower growth rate than last year's 1.5 per calendar day....

Promoting research first

Stevan Harnad, Learned Societies: By Their Works Shall Ye Know Them, Open Access Archivangelism, April 1, 2007. 

Summary:  The formula for distinguishing which of the scholarly and scientific societies are on the side of the angels will be simple to reckon. By Their Works Shall Ye Know Them: The societies that are Green on author self-archiving -- and are not lobbying against Green OA self-archiving mandates -- are practising what they preach, which is the promotion of science and scholarship. Those that oppose Green OA self-archiving mandates (in the name of their other "good works," such as funding meetings, scholarships and lobbying) are not. Fred Spilhaus, Executive Director of the American Geophysical Union appears to be on the side of the angels, even though he seems to think the underlying issue is research preservation (rather than what it really is: research access, usage and impact, hence productivity and progress).

OA mandate at new, merged Research Council

Today marks the start of the merger between the Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) and the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC), two of the Research Councils UK (RCUK).  The new merged entity will be called the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

PPARC mandated OA for PPARC-funded research while the CCLRC merely encouraged without requiring OA for CCLRC-funded research.  (The CCLRC OA policy is apparently no longer online).  The STFC has adopted the PPARC policy.  See the STFC Research Grants Handbook, Section 8.2 on dissemination:

  • STFC supports the sentiments of the RCUK position statement on access to research outputs.  Further clarification about the arrangements under which Research Organisations can make provision for the payment of publication fees under full economic costing can be found in a Research Information Network briefing note. 
  • For all STFC grants arising from proposals submitted after 1 December 2006, the full text of any articles resulting from the grant that are published in journals or conference proceedings, whether during or after the period of the grant, must be deposited, at the earliest opportunity, in an appropriate e-print repository, wherever such a repository is available, subject to compliance with publisher's copyright and licensing policies. Wherever possible, the article deposited should be the published version.
  • In addition, the bibliographical metadata (including a link to the publisher's web site) must wherever possible be deposited, at or around the time of publication, in the relevant e-print repository.
  • This policy will be reviewed on completion (expected in 2008) of a project to be commissioned by RCUK, with the involvement of journal publishers, to investigate the impact of author-pays and self-archiving on research publication.

Update. Stevan Harnad's comment:

[This] means that instead of 5 out of 8 UK Research Councils mandating OA, 5 out of 7 now mandate OA. Worldwide, we have reached 23 Green OA Self-Archiving Mandates adopted (9 institutional, 3 departmental, 11 funder mandates, including the European Research Council, ERC) plus 6 more proposed (1 multi-institutional, 5 funder mandates), two of them (FRPAA in the US and EC A1 in Europe) big ones.