Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 14, 2007

OA to library MARC records

Jay Datema has a good post at Open Libraries on whether library MARC records should be OA, to encourage use and sharing, or locked down, to prevent harvesting and in particular to prevent commercial use.

Opening up the input to a funder, not just the output

A growing number of funding agencies require OA to the research they fund.  But here's a first:  a funder (the Packard Foundation) using an open-access, open-contribution wiki to gather opinion on whether it should launch a certain funding program in the first place (on nitrogen pollution and agriculture).  The foundation explains:

...A decision to establish a grantmaking program on nitrogen/agriculture will depend on whether the Foundation has developed a compelling grantmaking strategy, which details the goals, outcomes, strategies, and activities that it will pursue....

Foundations regularly use grantmaking strategies to orient their philanthropic investments. These strategies are typically developed by foundation staff, by philanthropic intermediaries, or by consulting firms. Through this Wiki site, we would like to experiment with an alternative to these models for strategy development. We are concerned that the existing models for strategy development cast far too narrow a net in their search for creative solutions. They are unable to benefit from the wisdom, experience, and expertise present within civil society, private sector, and academic institutions. They lack the transparency and opportunity for critical review that could aid in their development and that could help grantees to determine whether they might play a role in implementing the strategy. And, they tend to reinforce networks involving individuals and institutions with existing relationships to the foundation without providing opportunities for the creation of new networks and partnerships between donors and possible grant recipients.

Through this Web site, the Packard Foundation would like to bring the wisdom of crowds to bear on the development of a possible grantmaking strategy....

We will make the full product of this Wiki site available to the Foundation's Trustees at their June Board meeting and staff will use the product of the site in developing a recommended strategy for the Trustees to consider. We are documenting this process and will prepare a review of the experience and recommendations that could inform similar efforts in the future. This report will be made available to the public on this Web site....

(Thanks to Jim Till.) 

More on the Depot

Stevan Harnad, Depot: Central Round-Up, Back-Up and Stop-Gap for UK's Open Access Institutional Repositories, Open Access Archivangelism, April 14, 2007.  Excerpt:

EDINA, SHERPA and JISC have just announced DEPOT, which looks as if it will be a superb central service for the UK, and a model for all countries worldwide that wish to provide Open Access to their research output.

DEPOT is many things, but chiefly a mediator for UK Institutional Repositories (IRs):

(a) If your institution already has an IR, Depot will redirect your deposit there, while also registering it and tracking it centrally, to make sure the deposit is picked up by the major search engines.
(b) If your institution does not yet have an IR, you can deposit directly in Depot and Depot will provide access to your deposit until your institution has an IR, at which point it will transfer your deposit to your IR.

I have mostly only congratulations for the designers and implementers of Depot. It is the optimal synthesis: It reinforces the author's own IR as the canonical locus for OA content. It monitors and integrates all of the UK's IRs. And it provides a provisional locus for any researcher whose institution does not yet have an IR (or for researchers who are not affiliated with an institution).

I would, however, like to recommend three small but very important changes....

  1. Do not restrict deposit to postprints: Include preprints too....
  2. Make it clear that the deposit of the postprint should be done as soon as the article is accepted for publication.
  3. Make it clear that the deposit itself, and its timing, does not depend in any way on publisher policy: only the OA-access-setting date might....

Moreover, as it is stated that Depot itself will be based on the EPrints IR software, this means that Depot will have (i) the option for Closed Access deposit as well as (ii) the "Fair Use" Button -- REQUEST EMAIL EPRINT. With those features, almost-OA [i.e. email delivery of a digital copy] can be provided almost-immediately and semi-automatically for any Closed Access deposit....

Update on the Google scan of Michigan's library

Eric Morath, Google's scan of U-M library progresses ... quietly, Detroit News, April 13, 2007.  Excerpt:

[The Google] effort to digitize U-M's library...has hit its stride -- scanning 30,000 volumes in a recent week -- and is beginning to make a serious dent in the school's total of 7 million.

At the current pace, the project should wrap up in the next five years, said associate university librarian John Price Wilkin.

That's amazing to Wilkin, who also leads the university's own digitization project that began before the school partnered with Google. The in-house project scans about 5,000 volumes a year. At that pace, scanning the entire library would take 1,400 years....

"It will take down walls," he said. "This is one of the great research libraries in the world, and increasing amounts of it are available to those around the world." ...

The legal scuttlebutt has caused some partner libraries to limit the books Google can scan to those in the public domain, but U-M hasn't placed any limitations on the search engine.

In fact, creating a digital copy of every book in its library was a university goal before it joined with Google....

Notes on the Allen Press emerging trends seminar

Richard Akerman has blogged some notes on the Allen Press seminar on emerging trends in scholarly communication (Washington DC, April 12, 2007).  Several of the presentations were on OA.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Universal OA repository for UK researchers

Put research publications 'in the Depot', a press release from JISC, April 13, 2007.  Excerpt:

Put it in the Depot... That is the simple message to be promoted as part of the JISC Repositories and Preservation programme in support of deposit of research publications under terms of Open Access.

The general strategy being adopted in the UK is that every university should develop and establish its own institutional repository (IR), as part of a comprehensive ‘JISC RepositoryNet’. Many researchers can already make use of the IRs set up in their institution, but that is not (yet) the case for all. A key purpose for The Depot is to bridge that gap during the period before all have such provision, and to provide a deposit facility that will enable all UK researchers to expose their publications to readers under terms of Open Access.

The Depot will also have a re-direct function to link researchers to the appropriate home pages of their own institutional repositories. The end result should be more content in repositories, making it easier for researchers and policy makers to have peer-reviewed research results exposed to wider readership under Open Access.

The Depot is an outcome from a scoping study called ‘Prospero’ carried out during 2006 when EDINA and SHERPA (University of Nottingham) were asked to work together. The report from that study is listed on the EDINA web site, in the past projects archive....

The principal focus for The Depot is the deposit of post-prints, digital versions of published journal articles and similar items. There are plans to include links to places for depositing other digital materials, such as research datasets and learning materials. As indicated, The Depot helps provide a level-playing field for all UK researchers and their institutions, especially when deposit under Open Access is required by grant funding bodies. It may also become a useful facility for institutions as they implement and manage their own repositories, helping to promote the habit of deposit among staff, with the simple message, ‘put it in the depot’.

The Depot is based on E-Prints software and is compliant with the Open Archive Initiative (OAI), which promotes standards for repository interoperability. Its contents will be harvested and searched through the Intute Repository Search project. It offers a redirect service, UK Repository Junction, to ensure that content that comes within the remit of an extant repository is correctly placed there instead of in The Depot.

Additionally, as IRs are created, The Depot will offer a transfer service for content deposited by authors based at those universities, to help populate the new IRs. The Depot will therefore act as a ‘keepsafe’ until a repository of choice becomes available for deposited scholarly content. In this way, The Depot will avoid competing with extant and emerging IRs while bridging gaps in the overall repository landscape and encouraging more open access deposits....

Also see the Depot FAQ.

Comment.  This is important.  UK funding agencies inclined to mandate OA to the research they fund may now mandate deposit in the author's institutional repository.  UK authors without local repositories now have deposit rights at the Depot.  Moreover, UK researchers who have not been self-archiving now have one less excuse.

Open data from network of city sensors

Brian Bergstein, Tech Hub to Open Sensor Data to Anyone, Forbes, April 11, 2007.  (Thanks to the P2P Foundation.)  Excerpt:

...Engineers at Harvard University and BBN Technologies Inc. are collaborating on what they believe is a first-of-its kind wireless sensor network atop Cambridge light poles.

Initially the sensors will grab weather data like temperature, rainfall and wind speeds, but eventually the project designers plan to integrate such things as pollution detectors and traffic monitors.

What's new about the system, known as CitySense, is that the sensor information will be entirely open to the public over the Web. And people anywhere can sign up for a slot to run experiments on the network.

So while a local doctor could check whether an asthma patient lives in a neighborhood with high levels of dangerous particulates, another researcher could use the system to model, say, how temperature and air pressure vary over short distances in an urban environment....

ACS claims copyright on author data files

Peter Murray-Rust, Copyrighted data, A scientist and the web, April 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

As I have blogged I shall be presenting at the JISC/NSF meeting on data-driven science....

Chemistry is one of the saddest sciences in this respect. It is hypopublished, but worse, the data are often copyrighted. Yes, you tell me, facts (data) cannot be copyrighted. Have a look at the rubric for supporting information (facts, facts, facts) accompanying Amer. Chem. Soc. (ACS) publications.

Permissible Use of Supporting Information

Electronic Supporting Information files are available without a subscription to ACS Web Editions. All files are copyrighted by the American Chemical Society. Files may be downloaded for personal use; users are not permitted to reproduce, republish, redistribute, or resell any Supporting Information, either in whole or in part, in either machine-readable form or any other form....

I approached a senior representative of Wiley at the ACS meeting (whom I already know and have good relations with). I asked him why Wiley copyrighted factual data accompanying publications. He said because “they wished to sell it” (and he willingly gave me permission to quote his answer).

I do not know what Springer do. Supplemental data for their publications are not usually visible. Because of this I do not read their publications....

Even the rather conservative STM publishers association has said this copyrighting is unacceptable. So why does it still happen? I have banged on about this for a year or two including the SPARC Open Data mailing list, but I have seen no response from senior academia - they don’t care. Some funders (Wellcome, and some of the RCUK - but not all) DO care, but I suspect they are a minority.

So, funders and academia, your acquiescence to non-Open Data is destroying large areas of potential data-driven science.

The SHERPA Roadshow at St. Andrews

Ewan MacPhee has blogged some notes on SHERPA Roadshow at St. Andrews University.  Excerpt:

...The first presentation was by Gareth Johnson who spoke generally about Open Access including its current and future use and the various barriers it currently experiences.

The next presentation was carried out by representatives from St. Andrews University. They spoke about their internal experiences of Open Access and the successes and opposition that they had faced and continue to face. The speakers outlined an interesting anecdote which involved one academic saying that open access repositories only existed ‘to give librarians some work to do’.

The final presentation was by Jane H. Smith who spoke about the RoMEO and Juliet services. RoMEO is a useful repository of journal publishers’ listings that is run with support form JISC and the Wellcome Trust. Juliet is a ‘complement to the RoMEO service provided by SHERPA for authors and repository administrators, which lists summaries of publishers’ copyright transfer agreements as they relate to archiving’....

OA journals related to midwifery and maternity services

Catherine Ebenezer has put together a list of OA journals "related to midwifery and maternity services".

OA encyclopedia nears its fund-raising goal

SEP Nears its Goal to Preserve Open Access, a press release from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, April 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, with significant help from the worldwide library community, is nearing its goal of raising a $4,125,000 endowment for the SEP. Stanford has helped to raise $1,125,000 in private donations, and its library partners (SPARC, ICOLC, SOLINET, and others), representing the worldwide library community, have agreed to help raise $3,000,000 in institutional memberships. The resulting protected endowment will generate enough in appreciation and interest income to cover the SEP's expenses in perpetuity. Accordingly, the SEP is rapidly approaching its goals:

  • Individual Fundraising: Stanford has nearly reached its goal with some large donations from donors outside academia who have backgrounds in philosophy, as well as contributions from many professional philosophers.
  • Library Fundraising: The libraries have made substantial progress, collectively contributing $1,505,455 in pledges. Counting the $500,000 in NEH matching funds, the libraries have commitments totaling $2,005,455.

We Still Need Your Help

When we began this journey, many librarians were skeptical of this innovative approach to open access. Given that we are ? of the way to achieving the goal of perpetual open access to this philosophical reference work, we do not expect to go away anytime soon. However, the SEP still needs $1,000,000 in new commitments from the library community to reach its goal. Of the 120 libraries at institutions with Philosophy Ph.D. programs in the U.S. and Canada, 49 have committed the full amount requested ($15,000) to support the SEP and 18 have made a partial commitment. For the many libraries that have pledged their support, we thank you! For those that have not, we would appreciate your help to preserve open access to a resource that is used at universities just like yours across the globe hundreds of thousands times each week.

Jimmy Wales on OA

Adcentered has posted some video clips of Jimmy Wales talking about open access.

BMC announces OA journals in physics

BioMed Central has announced its first OA journals in physics.  From today's announcement:

BioMed Central, the world’s largest publisher of open access, peer-reviewed journals, is pleased to announce the first three journals to be launched by PhysMath Central: PMC Physics A, PMC Physics B, and PMC Physics C. PhysMath Central is BioMed Central’s open access publishing platform for the fields of physics, mathematics and computer science.  

Launched to meet the increasing need for open access journals from major research institutes (such as CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research) and other funding organizations and government bodies, PhysMath Central seeks to make research in physics, mathematics and computer science more widely available and increase access to this research to all institutes and individuals, free of subscription charges.

The PhysMath Central publishing platform is based on the successful open access publishing model pioneered by BioMed Central. PhysMath Central will launch with three new open access journals in physics:

  • PMC Physics A – covers particle, high-energy and nuclear physics, cosmology, gravity and astroparticle physics, and instrumentation and data analysis.
  • PMC Physics B – publishes articles covering all aspects of atomic and molecular physics, optics, quantum physics, semiconductors and superconductivity.
  • PMC Physics C – focuses on soft matter physics and covers biological physics, complex systems, plasmas and fluids, classical and interdisciplinary physics, and statistical mechanics.

These three titles will begin accepting submissions in April, 2007. Four more journals in physics and mathematics are planned for launch in 2007, with others to follow in the future.

PhysMath Central is currently recruiting some of the leading minds in physics and mathematics for its editorial boards. These experts will spearhead journal development and serve as editors and reviewers. Massimo Giovannini of the Theoretical Physics Division at CERN has agreed to serve on the PMC Physics A editorial board. Dr. Giovannini expressed support for open access publishing, citing the high subscription fees as a hindrance to scientific progress....

Christopher Leonard, PhysMath Central’s publisher, fully agrees, "Over 50 years ago one our greatest ever physicists, Albert Einstein, almost predicted the open access era when he said that ‘The free, unhampered exchange of ideas and scientific conclusions is necessary for the sound development of science, as it is in all spheres of life.’ We recognize, as he did, that the lack of access to the latest research slows the process of discovery and that by making the research freely available we help to solve this problem, ensuring the swift and unrestricted communication of scientific information."...

At the same time, BMC announced the editor-in-chief for PMC Physics A:

PhysMath announced Professor Ken Peach as the new editor-in-chief of PMC Physics A, the first journal offering from PhysMath Central.  Professor Peach is the director of the John Adams Institute of Accelerator Science at Oxford University and Royal Holloway University of London and Chair of the Scientific Policy Committee at CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.... 

In addition, he was recently awarded the Rutherford Medal, which recognizes and rewards outstanding achievements by physicists in their respective fields. Professor Peach received the award in part for playing what was described as “a key role in reviving accelerator science for particle physics applications in the UK.” For his work as a leader of key experiments at CERN investigating charge conjugation parity (CP) violation, Professor Peach also shared the 2005 EPS Particle and High Energy Physics Prize....

The journal will begin accepting articles for submission on April 14, 2007....

More data on faculty ignorance of OA

Researchers' use of academic libraries and their services, a new report commissioned by Research Information Network and undertaken by Key Perspectives, April 2007.  For our purposes, see esp. Section 9.4 on Open Access (pp. 58-65).  Excerpt:

Researchers’ awareness of new developments in scholarly communications, particularly issues to do with open access to research outputs, is low....

In relation to open access, 43.5% of researchers support moves to facilitate the deposit of their research output into their institutions’ repositories. More social science researchers favour this approach than their counterparts in other disciplines, but they are still far behind the wishes of librarians in this regard as shown in Figure 7. A clear majority of all researchers (64%) would favour the provision of clearer pointers to open access content, including in library catalogues....

[L]ibrarians are keen to focus on facilitating the process whereby their researchers can deposit their research output into their institutional repository....

The usual pathway followed to obtain an article not instantly available via a library subscription is much the same in sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities:

  • the scholar seeks access to the full-text, anticipating immediate and free electronic availability via the local library; if that fails
  • tries Google to see if an Open Access version is available; if that fails
  • emails the author or a friend in another institution with better library provision to see if they can email the article; if that fails
  • orders article via inter-library loan; or 
  • consults a subject librarian for expert help...

Despite all the activity and progress on open access over the past couple of years, however, researchers remain largely unaware of the issues and arguments, and this was reflected in the focus groups and other discussions we carried out for this study. Of the researchers we consulted, only about 1 in 10 were able to show that they fully understood what is meant by open access....

Librarians expressed the view that they need support and leadership from senior management in institutions to drive a cultural change and, above all, formulate institutional policies that enable the library to follow up with advocacy to make open access a norm for the institution’s research community....

Even if they are familiar with the concept, researchers are much less familiar with how to make their own research output available on an open access basis....

Our survey shows a significant discrepancy between the proportion of librarians who say their institution has an open access institutional repository (52%) and the proportion of researchers who believe that their institution has such a repository (15%)....

Comment.  Section 9.4 thoroughly documents the still-widespread faculty ignorance of OA, OA repositories, and OA journals.  This finding is two-edged.  On the one hand, it's very discouraging, especially after all this time.  On the other hand, it supports our claim that the problem is ignorance, not opposition.  My experience is that it only takes a couple of minutes to excite faculty about OA, once you get their attention.  The hard part is --still-- getting their attention.

Armbruster paper on OA wins A2K writing competition

Chris Armbruster's paper, Cyberscience and the Knowledge-based Economy, Open Access and Trade Publishing: From Contradiction to Compatibility with Nonexclusive Copyright Licensing (blogged here October 31, 2007), was just named the winner of this year's Access to Knowledge (A2K) writing competition sponsored by the Yale Law School Information Society Project (ISP) and the International Journal of Communications Law and Policy (IJCLP).  Congratulations, Chris!

April issue of First Monday

The April issue of First Monday is now online.  This issue has three articles on Wikipedia plus the following:

More on the US petition for OA

Tracey Caldwell, US petition adds weight to OA campaign, Information World Review, April 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

A US petition for access to publicly funded research has been started, building on the momentum of a similar petition circulating in Europe in support of a European Commission proposal that has already gathered over 24,000 signatures.

The proposal is to guarantee public access to publicly funded research results shortly after publication....

The US petition, open to supporters around the world, comes as US lawmakers consider ways to promote public access with the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), soon to be re-introduced.

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), a founding member of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, set up the petition.

Heather Joseph, SPARC executive director, said: “We felt that this was a good opportunity to build on the momentum of the thousands of individuals who expressed support for public access to federally funded research results by signing the recent European petition. As policy discussions continue to take place here in the US, it’s important to underscore the continued call for meaningful change coming from a wide variety of stakeholders.

“We’re seeing librarians, researchers and private citizens sign on, from public organisations to private companies. It is a striking illustration of how this issue resonates across not just the scholarly community, but society as a whole.”

Open access champion Stevan Harnad welcomed the US petition as a much needed counter to publisher lobbying: “Open access is in the interests of research, researchers, research institutions, research funders, the R&D industry, students, the developing world, and the tax-paying public in whose interests the research is being done.

“The only conflicting interest is the research journal publishing industry.”

PS:  If you support OA, please sign the US petition as an individual and ask your institution to sign as an institution.  Then spread the word by linking to it from your blog or home page.  We need all the public support we can get as we talk to Congress about mandating OA to publicly-funded research, through FRPAA and a strengthened version of the NIH policy.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

EC adopts the heart of an OA mandate

If you recall, Napoleon Miradon pointed out last month that the draft FP7 Grant Agreement requires grantees to submit electronic copies of their journal articles to the EC and permits the EC to redistribute them online.  

Now he has pointed out (by email) that the EC adopted the draft agreement on April 10.  Here are the two relevant parts of the new document:

  • Article II.12.2, Information and communication....The Commission shall be authorised to publish, in whatever form and on or by whatever medium, the following information:...the publishable reports submitted to it; ...
  • Article II.30.4, Dissemination....Furthermore, an electronic copy of the published version or the final manuscript accepted for publication shall also be provided to the Commission at the same time for the purpose set out in Article II.12.2 if this does not infringe any rights of third parties....

Comment.  Last month I said it would be a breakthrough if the EC adopted the draft guidelines, and now it has.  "The EC is deliberating about when, whether, or how far to adopt the OA mandate (recommendation A1) from last year's EC-sponsored report.  But the heart of that recommendation is already contained in the draft FP7 guidelines.  This could change the question for the EC.  Instead of deciding, from scratch, what policy to adopt or what to accept and what to reject from its own report, it would only have to decide what refinements to make in the existing policy or draft."  I suggested a couple of refinements in my comment last month.  But here I simply want to draw attention to what has been done.  The EC has mandated submission of the author's peer-reviewed postprint (either of two versions) and declared that the EC has the authority to disseminate it in any way that it likes.  That's the heart of an OA mandate.

Update on the dismantling of the EPA libraries

Jeff Ruch, Writers on the Range: Why would a federal agency trash its libraries?  Summit Daily News, April 10, 2007.  Ruch is the Executive Director of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which has led the fight to save the libraries.  Excerpt:

...As its in-house scientific staff shrinks, EPA is relying more and more heavily on corporate research in making health and safety decisions. This self-lobotomy at EPA will leave a public agency that is far less capable and independent, and as we enter the final months of the Bush administration, EPA managers seem determined to accelerate the self-destruction.

OA law program spreads to Canada

Open Access Law Canada is a new project to help bring OA to Canadian legal research.  (Thanks to Michael Geist.)  From the site:

Open Access Law Canada is part of the Open Access Law Program. The Open Access Law initiative, launched in June 2005, is a part of the Science Commons Scholar's Copyright Project, and is working to support open access to scholarly research in a wide range of disciplines in science and social science. Open Access provides free public access to scholarly literature and promotes the dissemination of this scholarship, which benefits the author, the publisher, and the public.

The Open Access Law Program provides a number of resources to encourage open access archiving. These resources include a set of Open Access Principles for Law Reviews, and information about Open Access publishing agreements.

The Open Access Principles are a small number of principles that commit the law review to taking the least restrictive licence consistent with its needs, a promise to provide an electronic copy of the final version of the article to the author, and a commitment to allow public access to the law review's standard publishing contract. The Principles do not ask the law review to undertake the archiving of articles or change the publication format of the law review-they simply ask the review to allow the archiving of articles by authors at university repositories, scholarly portals, and the author's personal webpage. The Canadian Model Publication Agreement enshrines these commitments in a neutral contract that is easy for both authors and law reviews to accept. The Program also encourages authors to deposit electronic copies of their work in open access repositories....

More on PhysMath Central

Richard Sietmann, Open-Access-Publishing expandiert, Heise Online, April 12, 2007.  A profile of BioMed Central, focusing on its expansion this month with PhysMath Central.  Read it in German or in Google's English.

OA journal of scientific posters

ePosters is a new OA journal of scientific posters.  (Thanks to Science Quick Picks.)  From the site:

Welcome to, the free online journal where you can share your scientific or medical poster with the world.

After you present your poster at a conference or meeting you why not upload it here at

Benefits of submitting your poster:

  • The process is easy and free of charge
  • You can cite your poster by its reference number and date on your résumé
  • Access to your work is no longer restricted to meeting attendees; it will have worldwide exposure
  • Your poster can always be found using keywords or it's unique reference number
  • Readers can contact you directly about your work (via anonymous email) increasing collaborative opportunities
  • Visitors can print your poster locally thereby reducing your administration. is now accepting submissions

OA and Web 2.0 in historical research

Dave, Digital History: An Introduction to History 2.0, Patahistory, April 11, 2007.  Excerpt:

Here is a draft of the paper I'm presenting this Saturday. My audience knows nothing about web 2.0 or digital history, but want to know more about it....

The future of digital history is limited only by the imaginations of the historians who will create it....Will institutions accept junior faculty who do not want to see their work copyrighted? Not only departments, but universities need to re-think their policy on copyright. Interest in the participatory scholarship suggested by digital media, and falling broadly under the rubric of web 2.0 is spreading rapidly throughout the social sciences. A graduate student in the anthropology department at this university runs a wiki about anthropology 2.0. A recent work by Laura B. Cohen, Library 2.0 Initiatives in Academic Libraries argues for using "social software tools" for publication, as well as embracing "open access journals." The first issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly, an "online, open-access journal" was published this month....

How can these digital tools best be used? They should not be used just because they are new. They should be used because they help teach history, and they help research history and write history. These tools can be an aid to scholarship....

Ranking search returns by accessibility

OCLC to Pilot WorldCat Local, a press release from OCLC, April 11, 2007.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  Excerpt:

OCLC is piloting a new service that will allow libraries to combine the cooperative power of OCLC member libraries worldwide with the ability to customize as a solution for local discovery and delivery services.

The WorldCat Local pilot builds on, which allows Web access to the world's richest database for discovery of materials held in libraries. Through a locally branded interface, the service will provide libraries the ability to search the entire WorldCat database and present results beginning with items most accessible to the patron. These might include collections from the home library, collections shared in a consortium, and open access collections....

PS:  Apart from the way this new service supplements the standard library OPAC, I like the way it ranks items with the most accessible first.  This is a big help to readers and one more incentive to authors and publishers to reduce access barriers to their work. 

OCLC has evidently solved the problem of classifying resources by their access status.  Hence, even when users select a different ranking method, OCLC should be able to flag the OA items as OA, though I can't tell whether it plans to do so.

Blogging open science

Bill Hooker wrote a very interesting blog post last week on real-time open blogging of lab science --hypotheses, data, finished papers, the works.  After linking to some colleagues who are already doing this, he adds:

There must be more. Who else is doing, or planning to do, open science? And further, how can we help each other?

My working hypothesis is that open, collaborative models should out-produce the current standard model of research, which involves a great deal of inefficiency in the form of secrecy and mistrust. Open science barely exists at the moment -- infancy would be an overly optimistic term for its developmental state. Right now, one of the most important things open science advocates can do is find and support each other (and remember, openness is inclusive of a range of practices -- there's no purity test; we share a hypothesis not an ideology).

Also see the growing  number of comments on the post.

More on CC Learn

Justin Appel, Wanted: Single standard for open-content licenses, eSchool News, April 10, 2007.

The movement toward open course materials for education has created something of a problem: Although a number of repositories have been set up to allow users to download sharable online content, many of these sites contain materials that use different licensing agreements [hindering their interoperability]. Now, a new initiative from the nonprofit Creative Commons aims to solve this problem. Called CC Learn, the project seeks to create a single, standard licensing framework that can encompass all open educational resources....

Undermining an important OA journal, from within

Revere, More trouble at NIEHS, Effect Measure, April 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

...The latest [Bush administration official] to stink the place up is Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the most public health oriented of all the NIH institutes. Or it used to be, as we noted in an earlier post. Under Director David Schwartz it was on its way to being the kind of harmless agency most congenial to the Bush administration. But the housekeepers have started to look under the bed at NIEHS, too. It's getting ugly.

The thin end of the wedge was Schwartz's attempt to privatize the Institute's flagship scientific publication, Environmental Health Perspectives, EHP. This is the world's premier environmental health journal and it is an Open Access journal, to boot. It publishes about 100 papers a year out of almost 1000 submissions, so it is highly selective. In the interests of full disclosure I have published there fairly often and also done peer review for them....But I think my concern is widely shared in the field of environmental health science. When Schwartz's plans to privatize EHP became known there was a vigorous and immediate pushback from the scientific community and he was forced to retreat. Last June he announced he had abandoned his plans to privatize the journal. But then he proceeded to outsource all its functions and this is where things got sticky....

[PS:  Omitting an excerpt from the Society of Environmental Journalists Tip Sheet.]

Understand that EHP has been straightforward in publishing important scientific articles on important environmental pollutants and most recently on climate change. Not the stuff to make the Bush administration and their allies in Congress feel warm and fuzzy toward it. Many think this is the real motive behind Schwartz's neutering job on the journal.

But now the wheels are starting to coming off the truck.... [Schwartz] is also gutting EHPs budget, despite claims of solid support. The former budget of $3 million is being slashed to $500,000, which the Tip Sheet wryly notes is half of what he spent to remodel his NIEHS Office on his arrival (after it had just been remodeled).

Now Congress is in on the act, with Representative Dennis Kucinich's Oversight Subcommittee (part of Henry Waxman's Oversight Committee) asking for many documents related to the EHP affair and Schwartz's own conduct as Director....

Update.  Cheryl Hogue has more in Chemical & Engineering News (April 11, 2007):

Two key members of the House of Representatives are asking the National Institutes of Health’s director to again suspend efforts to privatize its monthly journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences publishes EHP, an open-access journal of research and news on how pollution and other environmental agents impact human health. Many researchers in academia and the public health community oppose privatization of the popular publication.

In November 2006, NIEHS began requesting proposals to privatize the journal, but NIH shelved the plan in January after allegations of conflict of interest involving NIEHS Director David A. Schwartz. The House Oversight & Government Reform Committee is investigating the situation, according to its chair, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).

In an April 9 letter to NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, Waxman and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), chair of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee, said they have learned that the National Library of Medicine is resurrecting the privatization plan.

Waxman and Kucinich asked Zerhouni to direct the National Library of Medicine to hold off on seeking bid proposals for privatizing EHP until the oversight panel finishes its investigation.

The American Chemical Society [PS: which publishes Chemical & Engineering News] previously had expressed interest in taking over EHP.

Update. For more detail, see J. Lowe in the Daily Kos, The Republican War on Science and Environmental Health Perspectives.

New version of Bailey bibliography

Charles W. Bailey Jr. has released version 67 of his monumental Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new version cites and organizes over 2,960 print and online articles, books, and other sources on scholarly electronic publishing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

EPT letter to EU Parliament on OA policy

The trustees and officers of the Electronic Publishing Trust for Development have released the April 9 letter they sent to members of the European Parliament on an OA policy for the EU.  Excerpt:

We understand that Parliament has received a Communication from the European Commission "On Scientific Information in the Digital Age: Access, Dissemination and Preservation"....

It is our view that the Commission Communication gives insufficient attention to the EU Research Advisory Board’s (EURAB) [recommendation or the EC-sponsored report's] main strategy Recommendation A1 to ’Establish a European policy mandating published articles arising from EC-funded research to be available after a given time period in open access archives’ (a policy endorsed by the European Research Council Scientific Council [ERC]), while concentrating extensively on open access journals.

We ask you to endorse the findings or EURAB’s report....

Background: We are Trustees and officers of the Electronic Publishing Trust for Development, the aim of which is to inform and assist researchers in developing countries to gain access to essential research and to contribute their own unique research findings to the global knowledge pool....

Widespread support: The report to the Commissioners from their expert committee (EURAB), recommending the deposit of authors’ copies of refereed, accepted papers in interoperable institutional repositories (IRs) has been overwhelmingly endorsed by 24,660 signatures to the current European petition, including those of nearly one thousand international scientific and scholarly institutions, academies and societies....

Comparison with alternative strategy: It is therefore of surprise to us that the Communication you have received focuses largely on an alternative approach to achieving open access - the establishment and use of new OA journals. This strategy requires considerable investment, will take time and requires a complete reversal of existing practices – costs being recovered by authors rather than readers, as at present.

By contrast, the establishment of IRs is quick, requires minimal financing, can serve institutional administrative needs and, most importantly, does not require new publishing models. It therefore changes little else in existing practices. This simple strategy of supplementing subscription-based access to the publisher’s version with free access to the author’s final refereed version has the agreement of ~70% of publishers surveyed, though in some cases publishers require an embargo period of a few months to allow priority access to customers of the publishers.

Organisations that have already adopted this policy have none of the concerns raised in the Communication regarding quality (since the archived material is already refereed and published), access (since the IRs are already interoperable and searchable through dedicated search engines, as well as Google and Yahoo), or commercial loss (since there is no evidence of adverse impact of IRs on journal subscriptions in fields that have co-existed for over a decade)....

Access problem leads to economic losses: We are astonished by the statement in the Communication that ‘There is no access problem’. This is demonstrably untrue. Certainly, in the developing world we see major access problems that severely handicap the development of strong research policies and economies (a WHO study in 2003 found that the poorest countries had purchased no journals over the previous 5 years). In more advanced countries the loss of economic growth from the current access barriers has been shown to be significant (for example, see Houghton, J. & Sheenan, P. (2006) The Impact of Enhanced access to research Findings....

Given the practical and low cost archiving strategy already available for supporting research within the EU states and worldwide, it should be possible for the Commission to mandate that the publications that arise from their funding are made available in authors’ own IRs ensuring harmonization with the international OA standards already in place. Deposited articles can then be harvested into the websites the Commission maintains, using the information format which the Commission recommends. Given this strategy, the need to provide additional funding to meet publishers’ OA costs (see 2.3.2. in the Working Paper) – often as high as $3000 per paper - merely adds an alternative barrier to the exchange of research information, particularly for authors in the developing world.

We urge you to endorse the recommendations of EURAB and the supporting statement of the ERC so that the EU will be in line with the growing number of mandates for this strategy, and with the DRIVER programme in support of a network of OA repositories. For developing countries, Recommendation A1 provides an unprecedented opportunity.

ALS/MND digital library now OA

The International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations has decided to open up its digital library.  (Thanks to Graham Steel.)  From the library's front page:

We have now made the site 'Open Access'.  This means that anyone interested in information on ALS/MND can now have access to the considerable resources available through this site.  We would ask however that if you use any on the publications that you acknowledge the original source....

ALS/MND stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / Motor Neurone Disease.

PS:  This is a most welcome decision that will benefit patients, families, physicians, and researchers.  Kudos to all who took part in the deliberations.

Panel discussion on copyright barriers to research and teaching

MIT has released a 101 minute webcast of a January 2007 panel discussion, Managing Copyright to Advance Research and Teaching.  (Thanks to Gary Price.)  From the description:

Ann Wolpert’s panel should set off alarm bells among academics who imagine they may enter blithely into a publishing agreement in the digital age.

Claude Canizares sets the stage, describing the transformative changes in academic publishing....

The archives of Britain’s Royal Society going back 350 years are available online today, says Thinh Nguyen, “but the catch is, you have to be a current subscriber to download” this content. Newton’s article on the invention of the telescope costs $9. “This is the essence of the current model: a gated community of information.” Nguyen’s open access movement attempts to smooth the way for academics to be published and for others to see and use their work. His Science Commons enterprise attempts to reduce legal barriers to scientific research....Nguyen encourages scientists who publish to consider alternatives to signing over copyright to publishers without first attempting to negotiate the terms of ownership.

In her job as intellectual property overseer for MIT, Ann Hammersla works to retain as many rights for authors as she can. She’s engaged in the challenging job of working out arrangements with publishers that enable authors to use their own materials in future work, in their classrooms, and to publish on the internet after first publishing in print. She sees an increasing demand by private and government funders for public posting of authors’ works, a demand that runs directly counter to the copyright agreements publishers insist on....

The best way forward for individual scientific authors, declares Ellen Finnie Duranceau, is through “collective and institutional action.” Together, authors must demand in their publisher agreements the right to “share work as widely as possible,” which will increase their readership and citation rate; and the right to reuse their work flexibly, and to authorize others to use their work. Duranceau discusses “chilling stories,” including an MIT faculty member who gave a publisher copyright to his own hand-drawn maps, and then could not use them on his MIT OpenCourseWare site. She worries about scholarly societies that impose “digital rights management technology on consumers of technical papers,” permitting only single printouts of a paper or viewing only onscreen. Duranceau recommends an MIT amendment to copyright transfer agreements that entitles authors more access to their own work, and more access by others through public repositories.

Brian Evans sees an imbalance, where researchers and universities “are being preyed on by large companies.” Researchers lose rights to their own work, and libraries pay excessively for journals: Says Evans, for “every $10 thousand we pay to a publishing company, it’s $10 thousand we can’t do something else with at the Institute.” He exhorts his colleagues “to consider publishing in public access journals or starting one in your own field,” and to reduce copyright restrictions through individual negotiations....

APA criticism of the NIH policy and FRPAA

Paul Baker has blogged some notes on a recent talk by Gary VandenBos of the American Psychological Association.  Excerpt:

Proposed “Open Access” legislation in congress could well kill the academic publishing industry, according to Gary VandenBos of the American Psychological Association.

As a panelist in this afternoon’s AERA session Challenges and Opportunities for Scholarly Communication in a 21-st Century World, he said that the APA publishes 60 journals, with 3000 articles per year; 70 scholarly books per year, and offers five data bases.

Proposed Open Access legislation would stipulate that, if any NIH funding dollars went into the research reported in a given article, the article must be deposited in NIH database for free access. VandenBos asks, Who is going to underwrite the expenses? And what will be the impact on the scholarly publisher?

VandenBos says that, while the APA does supports the idea of public access, in terms of providing easy access to published research, the user should pay some small fee to help offset costs, perhaps 99 cents per article, based on the iTunes model for downloading music....

The APA now publishes nine journals that operate “in the red.” If the APA’s journals revenue were to be diminished by 15% it would mean that 31 journals would operate in the red, he said. A mandated ‘open access’ of article repository in PubMed, with no user fee, could kill scholarly publishing....

As a more realistic alternative, he suggested, the NIH could produce 20 or more new journals of their own, for free public access, and demand the right of first refusal on articles written on federal funds. 


  1. I can't tell from these notes how accurately VandenBos described the NIH policy or FRPAA before criticizing them.  Did he mention that the policies only apply to the final version of the author's peer-reviewed manuscript, and not to the copy-edited published edition?  Did he mention that they give the publishers a period of exclusivity before the OA copy of this unedited manuscript appears online (six months for FRPAA, 12 months for the NIH)?  Did he mention that publishers retain exclusivity on the published edition for the full term of the copyright (the life of the author plus 70 years)?
  2. Nor can I tell whether he discussed the evidence for and against his claim that federal OA policies will kill subscription journals, or whether he stuck to rhetorical questions, unargued assertions, and data on unrelated questions.  Did he mention that in physics, the field with the highest levels and longest history of OA archiving, the American Physical Society (APS) and the Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd (IOPP) have experienced no cancellations attributable to OA archiving?  Did he mention that both publishers host mirrors of arXiv, the primary OA repository in the field?  Did he mention that a study commissioned by society publishers (just like the APA) found that high journal prices far surpass OA archiving as a cause of journal cancellations?
  3. Did he suggest that for their 99 cents users would get access to published editions or merely to unedited peer-reviewed manuscripts?  Did he suggest that users should pay publishers 99 cents when authors voluntarily deposit copies of their peer-reviewed manuscripts in OA repositories, or only when the government involves itself to bring about the same outcome?
  4. Did he mention that if the NIH did publish 20 new OA journals, then the government would move beyond funding research to performing peer-review on the results?  Did he mention that the NIH policy and FRPAA, on the contrary, keep peer review in independent hands?  Did he mention that if the NIH demanded the right of first refusal on articles arising from publicly-funded research, then those authors would no longer be free to publish in the journals of their choice?  Did he mention that the NIH policy and FRPAA, on the contrary, preserve this freedom for authors? 

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Putting your OA repository on the map

Is your OA repository included, and correctly placed, in the mash-up of OpenDOAR, ROAR, and Google Maps from Repository66?  If not, use the new Repository66 user interface to add or reposition it.

New OA journal on Chinese southern diaspora

Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the Australian National University.  The inaugural issue is now online.

More on paying for green OA

Dieter Imboden, Publishers divide and rule on open access, Research Research, March 29, 2007.  Imboden is a professor of environmental physics at ETH Zurich, the president of the Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation (Switzerland's chief public funding agency), and vice president of EuroHORCs, the European Heads of Research Councils association.  Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

In the still-dominant “reader-pays” publishing world, there exists (or existed until recently) an implicit agreement between funders and research institutions that the former pay for the direct costs of research, the latter for the necessary infrastructure, including libraries....The tacit agreement is that funded researchers have access to the scientific literature through the institutional library.

When libraries began to cancel journal subscriptions for financial reasons, funders saw an important pillar of their research policy dwindling....

Many journals permit this already, although with various restrictions on embargo time and the final editing of the article. This “green way” of open access sustains the traditional division of responsibility between funders and institutions....Both the European Research Advisory Board and the new European Research Council have issued recommendations along these lines....

[T]he Wellcome Trust and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute...ask their grantees to publish exclusively in pure or hybrid open-access journals, with free online access to author-paid articles.

As a result, HHMI has agreed to pay Elsevier to make research articles published in Elsevier and its Cell Press journals freely available within six months, if the research was supported by HHMI. The Wellcome Trust has similar agreements with its clients and is ready to pay the fee for freely available publications.

From the funders’ point of view, several issues now need careful analysis. First, in contrast to pure open-access journals, hybrid journals (with both reader-paid and author-paid articles) do not relieve the strained budgets of libraries. If a library pays for online access, it means access to articles supported by HHMI or the Wellcome Trust is paid for twice....

Secondly, changing to a total open-access world would shift the financial burden from institutions to funders, hopefully at constant or lower total costs. Although such a shift might seem reasonable to the research system as a whole, the distribution of public money for research (whether national or European) would have to change accordingly—either by reducing support to institutions or by increasing the budgets of funders.

I believe the most severe problem is the way agreements between publishing companies and individual research funders are achieved....If every funder, small or large, weak or powerful, has to negotiate individually with the various publishers, we will be back where we began—in a publishing world where economic power dictates the deals between libraries and publishers....

What can we do instead? It is not the fault of publishing companies that serious publishing is not cheap. We cannot even blame them for engaging in these kinds of contracts. “Divide and rule” has always been a good tactic to govern, and one that also works in the economic world. Remember: the main issue is not to save money, but to provide fairer access to scientific information. So, funders and institutions together should proceed together on the route to open access. The green route is easy and without major problems, but a good and just strategy for the golden route is still missing....

Not all the funders have the same opportunities. Not all the disciplines are as powerful as particle physics, which, according to CERN director Robert Aymar, can easily finance the transition of the few journals in the field to complete open access.

Let us—scientists, funders, institutions, libraries and publishers—talk together, before too many new boundary conditions make a rational solution difficult.


  1. It's not true that the Wellcome Trust and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute require grantees to publish exclusively in pure or hybrid OA journals.  They only require grantees to publish in journals that permit green OA, or OA archiving, on the funder's terms (for version and embargo period).  For example, the recent deal between HHMI and Elsevier clears the way for HHMI-funded authors to publish in Elsevier journals, even though most Elsevier journals are neither full OA nor hybrid OA.
  2. I agree that hybrid OA journals will not relieve library budgets, and made the same point in an April 2005 article.  However, full OA journals will relieve library budgets, at least if they are converts from TA journals to which the library formerly subscribed.
  3. I share Imboden's objections to the pay-for-green model and provide my own critique of it in the current SOAN.
  4. I wouldn't conclude as quickly as Imboden that the CERN project for gold OA in particle physics will not transfer to other fields.  As I argued in January 2007, "The question is not whether other fields have their own CERNs (they don't), but whether they can build the kind of coalition [among universities, libraries, funders, and publishers] that CERN has built."  Or as I put it in December 2006, "other fields don't need a CERN-like institution with great wealth or research dominance, only an institution with great convening power."
  5. I share Imboden's view that "the green route is easy and without major problems...."  That's why we should use it fully as we can while we experiment with different models for supporting gold OA.  The strategy I recommend could be called asymmetric parallel processing:  deliberations about gold should not slow down activity for green, but activity for green should accelerate deliberations about gold.

More evidence that OA books increase sales of the print editions

Ellen Finnie Duranceau interviewed Eric Von Hippel for the MIT Libraries News on his decision to provide OA to two of his books (April 9, 2007).  Excerpt:

Eric Von Hippel is T Wilson Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Professor of Engineering Systems at MIT. He specializes in research related to the nature and economics of distributed and open innovation....He made two of his books available openly on his website at no cost to the reader: Democratizing Innovation, published in 2005 by the MIT Press, and Sources of Innovation, published in 1988 by Oxford University Press.

Libraries: What motivated you to make your books openly available, and to what extent was your motivation a direct result of the subject of your research?

EVH: My whole purpose – doing all of my research – is not to get money from book royalties. That’s not my goal. I’m trying to diffuse my work and ideas, much the way MIT does with OpenCourseWare. Society is already paying me for my work via my research funding....

Libraries: What was involved in making the arrangements with the two publishers?

EVH: For Sources of Innovation, Oxford University Press made a special deal with me. I approached them about 15 years after my book was initially published. Oxford agreed I could post the book for downloading, but they required that I make some compensation to them for any significant decline in sales. If the sales remained stable, we’d be even. I did not end up having to pay them any money.

In the case of Democratizing Innovation, I worked with MIT Press from the start to be sure I would have the right to offer my book on my website. In that case, I kept copyright to the book, and gave MIT Press the right to publish the printed version. This is why I was able to post the book under the CreativeCommons license....

Libraries: So by your estimates, sales of Sources of Innovation went up well over 70% after you made the book openly downloadable, and you believe at least some of the sales of Democratizing Innovation were the result of the open access version. It would seem these numbers would please MIT Press and Oxford University Press. What have the publishers’ reactions been?

EVH: It’s counterintuitive for publishers that they will sell more books if copies can be downloaded for free. So Oxford thought the result was really great. I’m not sure they’ve altered their business model based on the results, but they were pleased. In the case of MIT Press, my book was their first real experiment with this model. Because sales were higher than otherwise expected, they have begun to experiment with offering this option to other authors....

Aggregating and integrating OA info

Gary Bader, Open Access and Open Source Speed Computational Network Biology Research, University of Toronto Project Open Source | Open Access, April 9, 2007.  Excerpt:

Imagine you are confronted one day by a pile of hundreds of tiny metal gears, springs, screws and such. Could you tell by looking at that pile that you could assemble a Swiss watch from it? Now imagine that you are given a list of parts for a person and want to know how an estimated 25-100 trillion cells in the human body function over a lifetime....

We are at this stage right now in biology. The human genome project has provided us with a large number of parts, but we don’t know they fit together, how the biomolecules interact....

A major challenge for studying the cellular network is collecting all known public information from very diverse sources, such as the biomedical literature, raw experimental data and the hundreds of existing pathway databases. Open access content and open source software systems are critical for overcoming this challenge. Once information is freely shared in open, standard formats, it can be aggregated, integrated, searched, visualized and analyzed. The Bader lab is involved in a number of open access projects that together work towards this goal....

Monday, April 09, 2007

Latest refinements of the CIHR draft OA policy

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Access to Research Outputs Policy Advisory Committee (AROPAC) has released the minutes of its January 24 meeting.  (Thanks to Heather Joseph.)  The discussion centered on the CIHR's draft OA policy, which would mandate OA for CIHR funded research.  Excerpt:

Participants discussed the idea of creating separate [OA] policies for publications, materials and data. In the end, it was generally felt that it would be most effective to move forward with a single policy and that certain parts could be implemented before others. For example, it was suggested that CIHR could move forward almost immediately with the parts of the policy dealing with publications. In contrast, participants acknowledged the challenges related to providing access to research data, and suggested that data is an area where further work would be needed....

Participants reviewed the European Research Advisory Board's "European policy on open access publications" as a possible framework for CIHR's policy. It was noted that this policy is regarded as a best practice in Europe....

The Committee supported the use of the European policy as a framework for the CIHR policy, taking into consideration the wording changes above....

Participants supported maintaining the proposed maximum six month embargo. It was noted that Nature and Science - two of the highest impacts journals in the scientific world - permit authors to archive their manuscripts with a delay on public access of six months.

It was noted that some journals do not have copyright policies or have policies that would not enable researchers to comply with the proposed CIHR policy (for instance, the journal may not allow archiving, or they may allow archiving, but with public access set after a period of one year or two years - much longer than the proposed six months.). Some members expressed concern over the potential impact of the policy on small Canadian journals.

To address these situations, it was suggested that CIHR could encourage researchers to publish preferentially in journals that allow open access (or that meet CIHR's policy), and at the same, CIHR could work with publishers to bring them in line with the policy.

PS:  Kudos to the CIHR for refusing to lengthen the embargo beyond six months and for recognizing the strengths of the EURAB recommendations.  The CIHR draft policy was already very strong, but will only improve by following the lines laid down by EURAB.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

More on OA in mathematics

David Morrison, Thoughts on digital scholarship in mathematics, a new interview in the Scholars Speak section of Create Change.  Morrison is a professor of mathematics and physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara and sits on the editorial boards of Advances in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics and the New York Journal of Mathematics.  He has also served on the editorial board of Communications in Mathematical Physics.  Excerpt:

Has arXiv had an impact on journal publishing?

The main effect so far as been to keep the publishers on their toes....

In your field, are scholars generally concerned about barriers to sharing information digitally?

The fact is you can only get the attention of about one percent of working academics on this issue —maybe that’s even optimistic. People are using the existing system, and working within it. If you explain to them what some of the problems are, they will express shock and horror. They may even go so far as to send in these copyright forms once or twice, but then they sort of go back to not thinking about it.

I do think the passage of time will go some way to changing these attitudes because for the younger generation everything has been digital their whole lives. So it’s not a change from one way of doing things to another.

People pay attention when there is a crisis. If your library tells you there is a big budget crisis, they have to cut 20 percent of our journal subscriptions —that gets people to pay attention....

What should be the role of funding agencies in scholarly communication change?

My view is that when the federal government is investing large money in scientific innovation, the scientific community as a whole has a right and duty to make the information available to as broad of an audience as possible.

So, the current model of taking the results of that research and giving it for free to a publisher who will then lock it up and only allow access after paying a fee is incompatible with that free communication of ideas. I really applaud the [US National Institutes of Health’s] PubMed Central initiative and I understand why Nature and Science are so upset about it, but it’s the right thing to be doing.

On the other hand, there are costs associated with publication. And the funding agencies have not been willing to provide money to pay for these things. It’s understandable that funding agencies want to focus their funding on the science, but finding a way to facilitate this kind of open communication is really important....

Lowering the access barrier to govt info in the UK

Michael Cross, New study casts doubt on Ordnance Survey's copyright control, The Guardian, April 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

...MasterMap is the most valuable asset of Britain's most commercially successful public agency, Ordnance Survey. Its different layers of data, depicting topographic and artificial features, each uniquely identified, underpin all the agency's maps and are widely used by businesses, government bodies and researchers. Ordnance Survey guards its investment jealously - a little too jealously for the Office of Fair Trading, which in December rapped the mapping agency over the knuckles for restricting access to "unrefined" geographical data.

However, Ordnance Survey's ability to control access to MasterMap may not be as absolute as it thinks. According to a new study by government-funded intellectual property lawyers, some users at least have a legal right both to extract items of data and to pass them on to third parties. A study by Charlotte Waelde of the University of Edinburgh's School of Law concludes that a geospatial database does not enjoy copyright protection, as Ordnance Survey claims, but rather is protected by the European Database Directive....

One user who welcomes the finding is Dr Mike Smith, of Kingston University's School of Earth Sciences and Geography. He says the opinion will mean that academics will no longer have to resort to measures such as reproducing maps only in shrunk-down form. "At the moment the largest practical size we can reproduce is A5, which is almost pointless," he says.

Ordnance Survey takes a different view. "We haven't been able to consider the report in detail," said spokesman Scott Sinclair, "but there is absolutely no doubt that intellectual property rights exist in MasterMap...."

Smith agrees that the database directive should not be read as a free-for-all grab, but says that it could have far-reaching consequences for the Free Data movement. It will also be of interest to the Office of Fair Trading, which last year criticised Ordnance Survey for giving "limited access" to the unrefined information in its databases....The government's delayed response to the report is due next month....

Technology Guardian's Free Our Data campaign has a better idea. The best way to realise MasterMap's potential would be to sack the lawyers and make its data free to all. Of course, the taxpayer would have to pick up the costs of keeping this unique national treasure up to date, but we think that's a price worth paying.

Also see Michael Cross' blog post on the subject and the follow-up comments.

Comment.  When a strong principle (facts are uncopyrightable) collides with a well-entrenched government practice (claiming copyright in factual information gathered at public expense, such as the geospatial information underlying Ordnance Survey maps), which will give first?  We'll soon find out for the UK.  Meantime, the question should be put to the test in other countries.  Where there's a database right, as in the EU, governments can fall back on it.  That's far short of OA but still progress, since the database right is weaker than copyright.  Where there's no database right, as in the US, there's no stopping short of the public domain.

New OA journal of psychology

The Journal of Social, Evolutionary & Cultural Psychology is a new peer-reviewed OA journal whose inaugural issue was published in January.  (Thanks to Like a Lake.)   From the editorial in that issue by Rosemarie I. Soko and Sarah L. Strout:

...With the (JSEC), we offer a forum not only for work combining different fields within psychology, but also for interdisciplinary work combining psychology and other fields....

Throughout modern psychology’s brief history, one of the reasons that psychologists have focused on a single aspect of psychology exclusively is because it is difficult to study all of the influences on human behavior simultaneously. However, with recent advances in statistics, such as multiple regression, multi-dimensional scaling, and easily computed ANOVAs, as well as advances in methodology and tools, such as the human genome project and brain imaging, we are no longer limited to approaching human behavior from one perspective. In addition, there is a new ease to the sharing of information, which allows for the exchange of ideas from academicians all over the world and many types of research with peoples from diverse cultures. Part of this exchange is aided by online, free-access, peer-reviewed journals such as JSEC....