Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, May 05, 2007

OA to presidential debate videos

A bipartisan coalition is calling on the Republican and Democratic National Committees to provide OA to the televised debates of the presidential candidates.  See the April 25 press release and blog post from Lawrence Lessig, lead organizer of the coalition.  Excerpt from the blog post:

While many rightly and fairly struggle over genuinely difficult copyright questions, it has been the strategy of some of us to push for solutions to obvious problems first. The place of copyright in political debate is one such obvious problem. Technology has exploded the opportunity for people to comment upon, and spread political speech. Democracy is all about encouraging citizens to participate in that debate. And all of us, whether Democrats or Republicans, should push to remove unnecessary burdens to that participation....

Unfortunately, however, the uncertainty about the scope of copyright regulation is increasingly one such burden on Internet political speech. This next political cycle will see an explosion of citizen generated political content. Some of that speech will be crafted from clips taken from the Presidential debates....[A]s the law is right now, it is extremely difficult for an ordinary citizen to understand the boundaries of “fair use” ....That uncertainty, if not checked, could produce a cloud over much of this political speech...[and] create a temptation by some politicians to invoke copyright law to block particularly effective speech critical of them.

[We] are therefore calling upon both major political parties to make this problem go away. Not by changing the law, or by supporting some expensive and time consuming litigation. But instead, by simply promising to require of any network broadcasting Presidential debates (at least) that they license the debates freely after they are initially broadcast — either by putting the debates into the public domain, or by permitting anyone to use or remix the contents of those debates, for any reason whatsoever, so long as there is attribution back to any purported copyright holder....

There is incentive enough for politicians to debate, and opportunity enough for broadcasters to carry those debates....

Since the campaign began, Barak Obama, John Edwards, and Chris Dodd have endorsed it. 

PS:  Kudos to Lessig for organizing it and to Obama, Edwards, and Dodd for their quick action.  We still have to hear from the other candidates and from the parties.  Will any say no?

Update. CNN has agreed to make all its broadcasts of the presidential debates available without restriction as soon as they air.

Update. Fox News has decided not to open up its broadcasts of the Republican debates.

Scholars should strengthen Wikipedia in their areas of strength

Daniel Paul O'Donnell, If I were "You": How Academics Can Stop Worrying and Learn to Love "the Encyclopedia that Anyone Can Edit", The Heroic Age, May 2007.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  Excerpt:

§19.  If I am correct in thinking that attempts to create alternatives to the Wikipedia by combining aspects of traditional academic selectivity and review with a wiki-based open collaboration model are doomed to failure, then the question becomes what "we" (the professional University teachers and researchers who are so suspicious of the original Wikipedia) are to do with what "you" (the amateurs who contribute most of the Wikipedia's content) produce.

§20.  It is clear that we can't ignore it: no matter what we say in our syllabi, students will continue to use the Wikipedia in their essays and projects—citing it if we allow them to do so and plagiarising from it if we do not. Just as importantly, the Wikipedia is rapidly becoming the public's main portal to the subjects we teach and research....While it may not be in any specific scholar's individual professional interest to take time away from his or her refereed research in order to contribute to a project that provides so little prestige, it is clearly in our collective interest as a profession to make sure that our disciplines are well represented in the first source to which our students and the broader public turn when they want to find out something about the topics we research and teach.

§21.  But perhaps this shows us the way forward. Perhaps what we need is to see the Wikipedia and similar participatory sites less as a threat to our way of doing things than a way of making what we do more visible to the general public....Wikipedia is less an alternative to traditional scholarship...than it is a complement —something that can be used to explain, show off, and broaden the appeal of the work we do in our professional lives....

§23.  ...[S]ince the Wikipedia appears unable to serve as a route to professional advancement for intrinsic reasons, perhaps we should begin to see contributions to it by professional scholars as a different type of activity altogether —as a form of community service to be performed by academics in much the same way lawyers are often expected to give back to the public through their pro bono work....As certified experts who work daily with the secondary and primary research required to construct good Wikipedia entries, we are in a position to contribute to the construction of individual articles in a uniquely positive way by taking the time to help clean up and provide balance to entries in our professional areas of interest. In doing so, we can both materially improve the quality of the Wikipedia and demonstrate the importance of professional scholars to a public whose hobby touches very closely on the work we are paid to do —and whose taxes, by and large, support us....

PS:  Here's how I made a similar point in SOAN for July 2005:  "If you're an expert on a certain topic, then make sure that Wikipedia includes the fruits of your expertise....You may not have a high opinion of Wikipedia, but there are two reasons not to let that stop you.  First, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If experts add or enhance articles to reflect their expertise, then Wikipedia will deserve respect to that extent.  Second, Wikipedia is an increasingly common first stop, and probably last stop, for non-academic users looking for information.  If you want to be visible to non-academic users, then it's an eyeball destination that you can easily join."

Update.  Sage Ross has collected links to a handful of articles on how scholars can use and improve Wikipedia.

Legal wikis

Robert Ambrogi has put together an annotated list of legal wikis.

U of Minnesota adopts the CIC author addendum

Yesterday I noted that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had adopted the Author Addendum drafted by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC).

Today I can report that the University of Minnesota has done the same.  (Thanks to Access Denied.)  The May 3 vote in the Faculty Senate was unanimous.

I haven't yet found an official statement by the university, but I have found this recommendation to the Faculty Senate by the Senate Library Committee for the May 3 meeting:

The Senate Library Committee has reviewed the CIC Provosts’ statement on Publishing Agreements and supports the principles it incorporates. The statement encourages authors to be thoughtful in selecting publishing outlets, recognizing potential restrictions that may fetter access to scholarship. The model publishing addendum and information about publisher policies will be made available by the University Libraries to assist authors in those choices.  The Committee recommends that the Senate support the CIC Provosts’ statement.

Comment.  Kudos to all involved at Minnesota.  I have the same questions about the plans at Minnesota that I had yesterday about the plans at Illinois.  But even without answers, it's clear that the good news keeps getting better.  The more universities that adopt an author addendum, the better.  If just one university did so, then publishers might refuse to publish articles by its faculty.  But if many universities did so, publishers would quickly accommodate them. 

A little background:  An author addendum is a lawyer-written modification of a publisher's standard copyright transfer agreement, stapled to the original and signed by the author.  As a contract modification, publishers may accept or reject it.  There are many author addenda in circulation, the most important --in chronological order-- are by SPARC (May 2005), MIT (January 2006), Science Commons (June 2006), OhioLINK (August 2006), SURF-JISC (October 2006), and CIC (February 2007).

End of SIPPI

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) officially concluded its project on Science and Intellectual Property in the Public Interest (SIPPI) at the end of March 2007.  The SIPPI site now contains links to the project's publications, activities, and meetings, as well as a complete archive of Science and IP News.

Open education on open education

Utah State University is adding a concentration on Open Education to its Ph.D. program in Instructional Technology.  I believe this is a first.  From David Wiley's blog post about it:

As part of our recent application to establish a UNESCO Chair in Open Education at Utah State University, we’re creating an emphasis in Open Education in our PhD in Instructional Technology here. The emphasis is simply a sequence of electives that students will be able to choose from that will provide them with a stronger foundation in open education. I believe this will be something really special, and will help us attract even more passion and great talent into the department and the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning, as well as enrolling students from outside our department.

This new emphasis applies to *you* as well, however, since we will (of create) these courses as open educational resources that anyone and everyone will be able to use. I’m also extremely excited to say that we will also offer something like a “certificate” program for people who would like to take the courses in a more formal way (at a distance) but don’t want to enroll in the PhD program for whatever reason....

So my question to all of you is… if you could create a four or five course elective sequence in open education, what topics would you choose to teach? Here are some ideas for possible courses....

More on the costs of journal publication

Stevan Harnad, What Are the Costs, Per Article, of Peer-Reviewed Journal Publication? Open Access Archivangelism, May 5, 2007.

Summary:  One can calculate the price a subscribing institution pays per article, journal by journal and field by field. The number of institutional subscribers per journal may be listed or estimated, but that's still all revenues rather than costs. If all text-generation, access-provision and archiving are offloaded onto the distributed network of institutional repositories, the only service left for a journal publisher to provide is peer review. The only two factors modulating that cost would be the journal's submission and rejection rates (since the referees are unpaid). That gives a more realistic idea of what Gold OA will cost per article once we have 100% OA (rather than the arbitrary asking-prices we have from today's Gold OA and hybrid Gold "open choice" journals). Green OA self-archiving mandates might have the eventual side-effect of inducing this transition to Gold, but the real objective of OA is not to save money on subscriptions: It is to put an end to needless loss of research usage and impact.This can be achieved by Green OA self-archiving mandates, whether or not they lead to an eventual transition to Gold OA....

Researchers control the rate of progress

Stevan Harnad, Librarians Applauding Embargoes on Open Access to Research Findings? Open Access Archivangelism, May 4, 2007.

Summary:  Some librarians still applaud access embargoes, for reasons of which they will not be proud, in due course. Other librarians are doing magnificent, front-line work in the Open Access Movement. But the ones who will really have reason to be ashamed (once we reach the optimal, inevitable, and long overdue outcome at long last) are not librarians but researchers themselves: They are the only ones who can provide OA and they are also OA's primary beneficiaries. That it proved to require Green OA mandates from their employers and funders in order to induce researchers to act in their own interests -- by doing the few keystrokes that were the only thing that ever stood between them and 100% OA -- is a puzzle that historians will have to work out after it's all over. For now, however, the latest Green OA self-archiving mandates from Russia and Turkey are yet another step in the right direction....

More on quality problems with Google book scanning

Robert Townsend, Google Books: What’s Not to Like? American Historical Association Today, April 30. 2007.  (Thanks to Library Journal Academic Newswire.)  Excerpt:

The Google Books project promises to open up a vast amount of older literature, but a closer look at the material on the site raises real worries about how well it can fulfill that promise and what its real objectives might be.

Over the past three months I spent a fair amount of time on the site as part of a research project...and from a researcher’s point of view I have to say the results were deeply disconcerting. Yes, the site offers up a number of hard-to-find works from the early 20th century with instant access to the text. And yes, for some books it offers a useful keyword search function....But my experience suggests the project is falling far short of its central promise of exposing the literature of the world, and is instead piling mistake upon mistake with little evidence of basic quality control. The problems I encountered fit into three broad categories —the quality of the scans is decidedly mixed, the information about the books (the “metadata” in info-speak) is often erroneous, and the public domain is curiously restricted....

[I]n many instances you will be unable to inspect public domain items more closely, because the erroneous date places the information on the wrong side of the copyright line....

These problems are exacerbated by Google’s rather peculiar views on copyright. While taking an expansive view of copyright for recent works, it has taken a very narrow view about books that actually are in the public domain. As I have always understood it (and the U.S. Copyright Office confirms), “works by the U.S. government are not eligible for U.S. copyright protection.” But Google locks all government documents published after 1923 behind the same wall as any other copyrighted work....

What particularly troubles me is the likelihood that these problems will just be compounded over time. From my own modest experience here at the AHA, I know how hard it is to go back and correct mistakes online when the imperative is always to move forward, to add content and inevitably pile more mistakes on top of the ones already buried one or two layers down. With Google adding in more than 3,000 new books each day, the growth in the number of mistakes seems that much higher....

Watching OA self-assemble

Mary Anne Kennan and Karlheinz Kautz, Scholarly Publishing and Open Access: Searching for Understanding of an Emerging IS Phenomenon, in Proceedings ECIS 2007 - The 15th European Conference on Information Systems, St Gallen, Switzerland, 2007.

Abstract:   Scholarly publishing is concerned with the distribution of scholarly information through journals and conferences and other information media. As such scholarly publishing can be understood as a specific part of the information industry. With the advent of advanced information technologies many possible technologically enabled futures have been posited for scholarly publishing. This paper describes the current systems, processes and actors. While technological advancements appear to be enabling access to scholarly publications, economic conditions appear to limit access. In addition, a number of alternatives, such as open access are currently in play and there is uncertainty regarding the future of the scholarly publishing system. The system appears to be in the process of being reassembled. Conceptual models of the traditional, the electronic, and some possibilities for future developments in scholarly publishing are proposed, as are topics for future research in the information systems domain.

Prospects for OA in Austria

Günter Hack, Der Preis der freien Wissenschaft, FutureZone, May 2, 2007.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  An interview with Bruno Bauer, the Director of the Medical Library at the University of Vienna.  Bauer is unhappy with the current subscription system, not confident in the financial stability of gold OA, pleased with Austria's OA mandate and the emerging EU policy, but not satisfied with Austria's infrastructure for green OA (just one university IR to date).  Read it in German or Google's English.

OA for librarians

Karin Dalziel, Open Access for Librarians: When, Why, and How?  A text and slide presentation for a Special Libraries class, May 2007.  (Thanks to Dorothea Salo.)  Excerpt:

...It is easy for librarians in larger institutions or cities to forget that the “standard” databases are not “standard” everywhere. In many cases, small libraries cannot afford even the most basic databases- but members of their communities still have a need for accurate information. Even in larger academic institutions, faculty are finding that they have to cut information from course packs that is essential to student’s learning. Karen Estlund describes a situation where “Professors cut readings from their syllabi so that students could afford to purchase course packs, frustrating their attempts to provide the education they wanted for their students” (Donovan and Estlund, 2007, “Karen’s story” section). Faculty may even find that they have to pay to be able to distribute their own research! “On one occasion, a faculty member was shocked when he learned that he had signed away the rights to his work, which was no longer his own to use for teaching” (Donovan and Estlund, 2007, “Karen’s story” section). These problems are not getting better, either. “permissions [are] increasing at a rapid per-page rate … Permission fees averaged $0.05 a page/copy in the 1990s but had risen by the year 2000 to an average of $0.10 a page/copy” (Donovan and Estlund, 2007, “Karen’s story” section). These rises in rates continue to be a problem, and more of the libraries budget must be spent to access precious few journals....

There are several open access journals devoted to Library and information science....Librarians can show a commitment to open access by “publish[ing] in open access journals when we can, routinely use pre- and postprint repositories, make deals with publishers to create hybrid publications, and use social software tools to create living, incomplete publications” (Cohen, 2007). Many state associations, including Nebraska, put the content of their newsletters online as well as publishing it in a paper format. This sets a great example, so it would be a great place to contribute. If only the ALA would follow suit with some of their publications! ...

There are many ways librarians can self publish or help with the publishing process....

Friday, May 04, 2007

Teresa Hackett and eIFL on access to knowledge

Teresa Hackett on Digital Libraries in Developing Nations, a 74-minute webcast from Harvard's Berkman Center, May 2, 2007.  From the description:

The role and mission of libraries is to collect, organise, preserve and make available the world’s cultural and scientific heritage for current and future generations. Publicly funded libraries operating for the public benefit support access to knowledge, as well as education and training, critical to developing nations whose human resource is central to their advancement. Digital technologies are transforming the way that libraries work. What new opportunities are being created? What challenges do we face and how is addressing them?

Teresa Hackett runs eIFL-IP “Advocacy for Access to Knowledge: copyright & libraries”, a programme to raise awareness in copyright issues for libraries in 50 developing and transition countries. The goal is to build capacity and expertise amongst the library community and to represent the interests of members in key international policy fora such as WIPO, UNESCO and the WTO....

More on serious scientific blogging

David Secko, Scooped by a blog, TheScientist, 21, 4 (2007) p. 21.  How Reed Cartwright blogged a theory in plant genetics and ended up scooping the field and being asked to become co-author of the first peer-reviewed article to propose the same theory.  Also on blogs as vehicles for OA research and Jean-Claude Bradley's open notebook chem lab at Drexel University. 

Helping faculty understand funder OA policies

SHERPA has written a briefing paper for faculty at the U of Nottingham on the OA policies at UK funding agencies.  It has posted a generic version of the paper online so that other institutions can modify it for local use.

DRIVER guidelines for OAI content providers

Martin Feijen and seven co-authors, Guidelines for content providers: Exposing textual resources with OAI-PMH, DRIVER, Version 0.8, May 2007.  Excerpt:

The DRIVER Guidelines...shall provide orientation for managers of new repositories to define their local data-management policies, for managers of existing repositories to take steps towards improved services and for developers of repository platforms to add supportive functionalities in future versions....

Not conforming to all mandatory or recommended characteristics of the guidelines does not necessarily mean that contents of a repository will not be harvested or aggregated. But, depending on the specific services offered through the DRIVER infrastructure, contents of these repositories might simply not be retrievable. A search service, for example, that promises to list only records that provide a fulltext link cannot process all contents of a repository that offers metadata-only records or obscures full-texts by authorization procedures. The guidelines shall help to differentiate between those records. The guidelines will, of course, not prescribe which records should be held in a local repository....

DRIVER will offer support to local repositories to implement the guidelines on an individual basis....

More on OA to archaeological data

Eric C. Kansa, Publishing Primary Data on the World Wide Web: and an Open Future for the Past, Society for Historical Archaeology, undated but apparently April 2007.  Excerpt:

More scholars are exploring forms of digital dissemination, including open access (OA) systems where content is made available free of charge. These include peer-reviewed e-journals as well as traditional journals that have an online presence. Besides SHA’s Technical Briefs in Historical Archaeology, the American Journal of Archaeology now offers open access to downloadable articles from their printed issues. Similarly, Evolutionary Anthropology offers many full-text articles free for download. More archaeologists are also taking advantage of easy Web publication to post copies of their publications on personal websites....

Besides making distribution highly cost-effective, the Internet provides a powerful means for sharing large collections of rich media and complex data. These types of content are important components of both museum collections and excavation documentation. More efficient and comprehensive sharing of this complex, media rich content is an important goal for many seeking to reform and enhance scholarly communication....As demonstrated in ecology and other sciences, reused primary data can be an important resource for advances in understanding....

Other working systems are now coming online, including two related systems, the University of Chicago OCHRE project  and Open Context.  Both systems share the same data architecture described by the Archaeological Markup Language (ArchaeoML) and both have similar capabilities for integrating and pooling complex and media-rich archaeological documentation....While OCHRE provides sophisticated data management tools targeted for active research projects, Open aimed at streamlined, Web-based access and retrieval of excavation and collections-related content....Open Context enables researchers to publish their primary field data, notes, and media (images, maps, drawings, videos) on the World Wide Web....

Notes on the OA panel discussion at UBC

Philip Johnson has blogged some notes on yesterday's panel discussion on OA at the University of British Columbia.  Excerpt:

Earlier today I attended the local open access talks I mentioned last week on Transformative Change in the System of Scholarly Communication & Publishing Worldwide: the Case for Open Access to Research. I particularly enjoyed the talk by Dr. John Willinsky on what all the fuss surrounding open access is (or used to be). He now says “used to be”, because he feels we’ve reached the tipping point, that open access has become popular enough that it will continue to grow on its own....

When open access journals are as widely read as their closed access cousins (and PLoS Biology is proving that it doesn’t take long to become a first rate journal), what incentive will there be to continue publishing in closed access journals?

If you ask me, there won’t be any. The second road being travelled by for-profits and society journals [embargoed OA] is only slowing, not stopping, the march to a fully open access culture in the sciences.

Award for AZoM

AZoM, which publishes the OA journal, AZo Journal of Materials Online (AZojomo for short), has been recognized for its online leadership in manufacturing and industry.  From the company's announcement: - The A-Z of Materials website has won a Hitwise Australia award for January to March 2007, ranking 9th in the Business and Finance – Manufacturing and Industrial Category.

The Hitwise top 10 award recognises websites from over 160 industry categories that are leaders in their industry. The unique awards programme recognizes excellence in online performance through public popularity....

AZoNetwork is committed to building on the success of and has recently released new features on the website including free job and classified advert postings, a free supplier directory and an Open Access materials science journal, AZoJomo – The AZoM Journal of Materials Online....

Based in Sydney Australia the company was founded in April 2000 and currently serves over 2.4 million monthly visitors sessions from the engineering, science, construction and medical sectors....

U of Illinois adopts an author addendum

If you remember, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) created an Author Addendum back in February 2007.  Now the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of 13 CIC member institutions, has adopted the addendum.  Here's the announcement in full from the UIUC news bureau, May 3, 2007 (scroll to the bottom):

The senate approved an addendum to publication agreements for authors from universities such as the UI who are members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation. The addendum would give authors and their institutions more control over the use and distribution of published works, such as archiving of their work in open access repositories. Use of the addenda by Urbana faculty members would facilitate the development of the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS), an open access institutional repository of creative works produced by faculty members from the Urbana campus sponsored by the Office of the Provost and offered through the University Library and Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services.

Comment.  Kudos to all involved at UIUC.  This can start to change the balance of power between authors and publishers.  The short announcement above is all I have so far, but I'm looking for more information.  Will UIUC authors be encouraged or required to use the addendum?  Either way, are there any exceptions or opt-outs?  Will UIUC use the addendum at the roughly 70% of TA journals that already permit postprint archiving?  How will the UIUC lend its weight to the faculty side of difficult negotiations between individual faculty and journals?  What else is UIUC doing to populate IDEALS, its institutional repository? 

Consortial OA repository in the works

A group of colleges in the UK has formed the Colleges' Open Access Learning Group (COLEG) to launch a consortial OA repository.  COLEG in turn has launched a blog to help communicate with vendors. 

Opening the sky

Wikisky is a cross between a virtual telescope, database of astronomical data, digital library of astronomical texts, annotatable wiki, and Google Earth for the sky --all free online from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS).

Thanks to Glyn Moody for the alert and for this enticing description:

Aside from the joy of being able to zoom around and into the sky just as you would over Google Earth, and the awe-inspiring sight of thousands - millions - of major structures there (the Sloan Digital Sky Survey is simply gob-smacking), where Wikisky really comes into its own is in its annotation.

As you mouse-over objects, a pop-up gives you basic information. Clicking on that object takes you to a page with links to detailed images and - most importantly - to relevant papers. This is one reason why the heavenly mashup is superior to mundane ones: there is already a huge quantity of relevant, neatly-packaged information available for the objects on the mesh in the form of published scientific papers.

The only problem is that not all of this information is freely available (though often the preprint versions are): some of the papers requires subscriptions or one-off payments. This shows, once more, why open access to research papers is vital if we are to get the full benefit of such amazing sites as Wikisky: without it, mashups are frankly messed-up.

Not waiting for gold OA

Stevan Harnad, Asymptotic Costs of Gold Open Access Journal Publication, Open Access Archivangelism, May 3, 2007. 

Summary:  Martin Osborne, the managing editor of the Open Access Journal Theoretical Economics, points out that the publication fee ($75) for his journal is an order of magnitude lower than what I called the "going rate" for Gold OA journal publishing fees. He also points out that if institutional subscriptions were all cancelled and publishing costs were of the order of those charged by his journal, then there would be considerable net savings. I reply that he is quite right to point out that there are Gold OA journals that charge less than the going rate (indeed there are many that do not charge at all). I also agree that the fee his journal charges, though a bit on the low side, is much closer to what will prove to be the true per-article cost of OA publishing, once journals all convert to OA publishing. But the reality is that only about 10% of journals are OA today, and the publishing charges are what they are, today. And with most of the potential funds for paying them still tied up in institutional subscriptions, those publishing charges are an unaffordable burden for most authors, today. They are also an unnecessary burden, if the goal is to provide OA to every published article, to maximize its accessibility, usage and impact, for that can be done through Green OA self-archiving, by the research community, for itself. In contrast, converting journals to Gold OA, and at an affordable price, is not something the research community can do for itself. The research community can, however, mandate Green OA self-archiving, and thereby provide 100% OA, today. That Green OA itself might in turn eventually generate cost-cutting, downsizing, and conversion to Gold OA by journals, at a fair price, paid for out of the institutional subscription cancellation savings. Meanwhile, it is folly for the research community to just keep waiting for Gold OA, when providing 100% Green OA is already fully within its reach.

Comment.  Martin Osborne is right that his journal's fee is lower than the going rate and he deserves credit for keeping it low.  It's a good example for other journals and I hope it will spread.  Stevan is right that we shouldn't wait for it to spread, or we should self-archive while we wait.  But I suspect that Martin Osborne agrees with that as well.  I'd simply like to make explicit, and remember, that the case for OA archiving is compatible with praise and support for OA journals. 

Three CMU faculty: Why we self-archive

Carnegie Mellon University has released a webcast of its May 1 panel discussion in which three CMU faculty discuss why they self-archive.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

New OA journal of game technology

The International Journal of Computer Games Technology is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from Hindawi. 

Two more US govt agencies call for OA

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access reports that two US government agencies have called for OA to publicly-funded research.  From today's announcement:

Recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) highlight growing recognition of the need for public access to taxpayer-funded research. Both the CDC Professional Judgment for Fiscal Year 2008 and a workshop report from the DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) indicate clearly the importance to each agency of having agency-funded research made openly available.

The CDC Professional Judgment, which was submitted to the House Committee on Appropriations, Labor/HHS Subcommittee on April 20, 2007 by CDC Director Julie Gerberding, includes public access at the top of a list of critical needs, calling for:

"Open access to CDC's research publications for other scientists and the public (rapid, free, and unrestricted online access) to CDC sponsored peer reviewed research and access to 'data in progress' among scientists, especially during emergencies like SARS..."

The CDC Professional Judgment...will be considered by the House Appropriations Committee in making final appropriations decisions for 2008.

The Department of Energy workshop report is the product of a meeting organized by OSTI to "discuss and develop a roadmap for advancing science and technology by accelerating the sharing of scientific and technical knowledge." Entitled Workshop Panel Report on Accelerating the Spread of Knowledge Science and Technology - Examination of the Needs and Opportunities, the report states:

"... because scientific discovery is a cumulative process, with new knowledge building upon earlier findings, it is imperative that unnecessary barriers to sharing the immediate results of research should be removed. In this regard, the Panel supports and encourages the principle that publicly funded unclassified research should be deposited in stable, freely accessible public archives and made freely available as soon as possible after acceptance for publication. This will clearly advance the return on research investment and foster the rapid diffusion of knowledge."

Among the panel's list of eight key conclusions is that, "The spread of knowledge will be accelerated if DOE-funded unclassified research results are made available expeditiously in a publicly accessible system." ...

WHO converts a disease database to a wiki

WHO adopts Wikipedia approach for key update, CBC News, May 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

If the collaborative wiki process works for compiling an encyclopedia, couldn't the same approach work for classifying all the diseases and injuries that afflict humankind? The World Health Organization thinks it can.

It is embarking on one of its periodic updates of a system of medical coding called the International Classification of Diseases, or ICD, and it wants the world's help doing it.

While work on previous versions has been the domain of hand-picked experts, this time the Geneva-based global health agency is throwing open its portal to anyone who wants to weigh in on the revision....

The new, more open approach to updating the disease classifications won't be entirely wiki-esque. That process, with its anyone-can-edit approach, builds a degree of vulnerability into the end product, with some contributors deliberately planting false information for the fun of it.

With the ICD, people can propose changes and argue for them on a WHO-sponsored blog. But groups of subject matter experts will weigh and synthesize the suggestions, said [Robert Jakob, the WHO medical officer responsible for the ICD]....

Update. For background, see the March 2007 WHO report, Production of ICD-11: The overall revision process. (Thanks to Ben Toth.)

An exchange on OA journals

Stevan Harnad, An Exchange Regarding Open Access Journals, Open Access Archivangelism, May 3, 2007.  Excerpt:

This is a reply to an anonymized query:

Identity Deleted:"What do you know about this new journal? [Journal Name deleted]
Is it going to be less expensive than other open access journals with their rather hefty fees?"

(1) OA Journals are a good idea, though a bit premature right now, if the goal is OA: OA can be achieved right now through author self-archiving of articles published in conventional subscription-based journals.

(2) Nevertheless, it is a good idea to support and promote OA journals if one can.

(3) This particular journal will charge about $1000 to publish, which is within the current going rate for OA journal publication fees.

(4) It is specifically because of this publication charge that OA journals are still premature: Right now, most journals are not OA, and most of the potential institutional funds to pay for publication are currently tied up in paying for it via subscriptions.

(5) This means that for now OA publishing charges are over and above what is already being spent on subscriptions.

(6) $1000 per article is not much for some authors, but a lot for others.

(7) What all authors should be doing is self-archiving their articles, to make them OA.

(8) That will not only provide OA, but it will force subscription journals to cut costs and it may eventually force them to convert to OA publishing (at a much lower price).

(9) The existence of viable OA journals today, however, despite the extra costs (some) entail for authors, helps demonstrate that OA publishing is possible, and refutes the claim by some subscription journals that OA means the destruction of journals.

(10) This, in turn, helps encourage authors to self-archive, and encourages institutions and funders to mandate self-archiving, thereby accelerating the provision of OA (and the eventual transition to OA publishing).

So my advice would be this:

(a) If you would otherwise have agreed to serve on the editorial board of a journal like this, then the fact that it is an OA journal should be another point in its favour.
(b) If you were submitting an article to a new journal like this, then the fact that it is an OA journal should be another point in its favour -- if you can afford the publishing charges.
(c) Self-archive all articles you publish in any case, and make sure your institution mandates self-archiving.

Comment.  I agree with all of this except point #1.  OA journals are not premature. 

  • Most OA journals charge no publication fees.  When they do charge fees, authors can often get their funder or employer to pay them; and when they can't, most OA journals will waive the fees in cases of economic hardship.  Both the fee-based and no-fee OA journals will proliferate when the money now dedicated to journal subscriptions is freed up to pay for the OA alternative.  But that's not a reason to delay our support for OA journals or to let the existence of fees at some (nearly half) of OA journals count against them.  (More TA journals charge author-side fees than OA journals.)
  • We need to support OA journals and OA archiving simultaneously. The main reason is to cultivate a new, OA generation of peer review providers.  We need OA peer review providers whether they supplement the TA peer review providers or gradually take their place.  We need them whether the growth of OA archiving does or does not threaten TA journal subscriptions.  We need them whether the challenges to TA journals are from OA or from their own making (unrelenting, hyperinflationary price increases).  We need them because the subscription model doesn't scale with the skyrocketing growth of published peer-published research.
  • OA journals always provide immediate OA, not embargoed OA; always provide it to the published edition, not just the final version of the author's peer-reviewed manuscript; and almost always provide it under a CC license or equivalent, expressly removing permission barriers, not just price barriers.  We don't have to agree on the relative weight of these benefits to agree that they are real benefits.
  • Finally, though, I'd emphasize my agreement with Stevan's bottom-line advice.  If there's a good OA journal in your field, and if it's no-fee or you can afford its fee or find a sponsor to pay it, then go for it.  You'll help the journal and help yourself.  But if there's not a good OA journal in your field, or if you can't afford the fee or find a sponsor to pay it, then remember that OA archiving provides bona fide OA.  Publish in the best subscription journal that will accept your article and then deposit a copy of the postprint in an OA repository.

Self-archiving for CNRS Editions

France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) now allows authors of works in the CNRS Éditions series to deposit OA copies in HAL.  (Thanks to the INIST Libre Accès blog.)  See yesterday's press release (in French).

PS:  CNRS has encouraged self-archiving by its researchers since June 2006.

Two more student groups support FRPAA

Two more student associations have passed resolutions in support of FRPAA. (Thanks to the ATA.)

  1. The Trinity University Association of Student Representatives adopted its resolution on March 26, 2007.  Excerpt:
  2. The Oberlin College Student Senate adopted its resolution on March 18, 2007.

PS:  Thanks and congratulations to both organizations. 

OA mandates from Russia and Turkey

Two more research institutions have adopted OA mandates.  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)

  1. Central Economics and Mathematics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.  Here's its OA policy as listed in ROARMAP:  "All researchers of the Central Economics and Mathematics Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences are mandated by a director's decree to immediately deposit their papers/articles in the institutional Open Archive."
  2. Middle East Technical University (Turkey).  Here's its OA policy as listed in ROARMAP:  "[T]he University...require[s] their researchers to deposit a copy of all their Masters and Ph.D. theses, published and refereed articles in the Institutional Repository of Middle East Technical University, if there are no legal objections, [and] encourage[s]...their authors to publish their research articles in open access journals where a suitable journals exist and provide[s] the support to enable that to happen."

PS:  Kudos to all involved at both institutions.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Enhancing journal TOCs with links to OA reviews

Noel O’Boyle, Add quotes from PostGenomic and Chemical Blogspace to journal, Noel O'Blog, May 1, 2007. 

Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension that allows you to rewrite the HTML of a webpage on-the-fly. Pedro Beltrão was the first to think of adding a link to journal Table of Contents pages whenever a particular paper had been reviewed on I extended Pedro's script to include a clickable pop up of the actual blog post as described by Egon.

I have just released a new version, described on the Blue Obelisk wiki and available from User scripts. This incorporates comments from both Postgenomic and Chemical Blogspace, although you can use the menu to choose just one or the other.

Thanks to Peter Murray-Rust for the alert and this comment:

This is very exciting. It makes your browser a semantic lens for a whole host of journals. The chemical blogosphere is becoming the primary place where the chemical literature is reviewed as soon as it is published (or sometimes before!)

PS:  This is a wonderful, unexpected example of one trend I tried to describe in the May issue of SOAN:  "Once we have OA to literature and data, we can add layers of utility indefinitely." 

DRIVER study recommends OA mandates

Kwame van Eijndhoven and Maurits van der Graaf, Inventory study into the present type and level of OAI compliant Digital Repository activities in the EU, SURF Foundation.  The document is dated March 2007 but was apparently not released until late April.  Excerpt:

An inventory study into the current type and level of digital repository activity in the countries of the European Union has been carried out as part of the DRIVER project DRIVER project from June 2006 until February 2007. The study was carried out by a combination of a web survey, publication of results on a wiki and telephone interviews. The main results of this inventory study are as follows:

Digital repositories for research output have already been established in Europe over the last few years

  • There are an estimated 230 institutions with one or more digital repositories for research output in the European Union, of which about 50% participated in this study.
  • The situation per country differs:
    • In 7 EU countries there appear to be no research institutions with a digital repository for research output.
    • 5 EU countries seem to be in a starting phase, where a few institutions have set up such a repository.
    • In 15 EU countries a sizeable proportion of the research universities have implemented a digital repository for research output: in seven of these countries it is estimated that more than half of the research universities have done so.

These digital repositories contain mostly records related to textual materials, covering more than a third of the recent research output of the institution....

  • More than half of the respondents gave estimates about the coverage of their digital repository:
    • On average, the estimated percentage of academics delivering material to the digital repositories is 38%.
    • On average, the estimated percentage of research output of 2005 deposited in the digital repositories is 37%....

The participants in this study were asked various questions about their views on the importance of a number of factors with regard to the setting up and maintenance of digital repositories. The following seven factors came out as the most important: 

  • The increased visibility of academics’ publications
  • A simple and user-friendly depositing process
  • A mandatory policy for the depositing of the research output by the institute
  • An improvement in the situation with regard to the copyright of published materials 
  • Requirements by research funding organisations for the depositing of research output in repositories 
  • Awareness campaigns among academics 
  • Interest from decision-makers

It is clear from this study that digital research repositories are already strongly established in Europe. The further deployment and development of the digital repositories will follow a two-tier approach:

  • Deployment of digital repositories at research institutions that do not have one yet.
  • Increasing the coverage of the existing digital repositories of published and unpublished textual research output, with a possible future expansion of the coverage of digital repositories to other, non-textual types of research output (e.g. images, video, and research datasets).

The above-mentioned seven most important factors for developing and maintaining digital repositories with research output can be used to set a European action agenda, such as envisaged by the DRIVER project, in the following way:

  1. Increase the visibility of the research output in the digital repositories by improving retrieval via further development of search engines and subject indexing.
  2. Harmonise the work processes behind the depositing in order to facilitate an increase in the delivery of contents to the digital repositories.
  3. Advocacy for mandatory depositing policies: mandatory policies for the depositing of research output by the institution and - in line with this - requirements by research funding organisations for the depositing of research output in repositories, should be important goals for advocacy efforts according to the results of this study....

OA at the U of British Columbia

Bronwen Sprout, Open Access Projects at UBC Library, a presentation at Beyond Limits: Building Open Access Collections (Vancouver, April 19, 2007). 

Abstract:   UBC [University of British Columbia] Library's D-Space, Electronic Theses and Dissertations, and Open Journal Systems hosting provide three ways for faculty and students to store and share their intellectual output. Part of the Beyond 20/20: Envisioning the Future pre-conference sessions.

Germany's Informationsplattform Open Access now official

A consortium of German universities has officially launched the Informationsplattform Open Access, a nationwide platform for information on OA in Germany (online since last September).  See today's press release in German or English.  Excerpt from the English version:, an online information platform on open access issues is going online now. The Universities of Bielefeld, Goettingen, Constance and the Free University of Berlin jointly operate the platform and have received funding from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG). The platform intends to inform on the growing scientific and political significance of open access issues..... is the first online platform providing information on open access in German language. Since 2006 the platform has been funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) supporting scientists and research institutions to implement open access in practice. offers information on publishing strategies, costs and legal aspects. Additionally, it presents convincing arguments for the use of open access not only for researchers but also for research institutions, universities, professional associations, libraries and publishing houses.

The Universities of Bielefeld, Goettingen, Constance and the Free University of Berlin who belong to the pioneers of the open access movement in Germany jointly operate the platform It is also supported by the German Rectors' Conference, the Volkswagen Foundation and the German Initiative for Networked Information (Deutsche Initiative für Netzwerkinformation e. V., DINI). Moreover, the Helmholtz Association (Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft) and the Max Planck Society (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft) provide additional information on their open access policies. An academic advisory council will regularly evaluate the platform to meet the needs of researchers. starts to offer a broad variety of information materials and practical assistance. However, discipline-related information pages are still under construction. As a result, specific information on open access is currently not available for every discipline. But all users are explicitly invited to contribute to the platform by submitting additional news, information and suggestions. Therefore, the category “News” will present submitted contributions and information on new developments concerning open access that can be subscribed via RSS-feed. Additionally, a moderated mailing list will provide an opportunity to discuss open access issues.

French intro to OA

Jean-François Lutz, L'Open Access en 12 diapositives, a slide presentation to be given at the conference, Journée d'étude sur les Archives Ouvertes (Paris, May 21, 2007). Read it in French or in Google's English.

New OA journal on indigenous languages

The Northwest Journal of Linguistics is a new peer-reviewed OA journal.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)  From the about page:

The Northwest Journal of Linguistics is dedicated to the description and analysis of the indigenous languages of northwestern North America....NWJL fills a gap in our current resources by allowing the speedy publication of original work of the highest quality on the languages of the region. All submissions go through a process of anonymous peer review. Our editorial board consists of some of the top scholars on the languages in the region.

NWJL is committed to the collection and dissemination of primary language data. We encourage submissions of data-rich material; the electronic format allows for longer articles than normally accommodated in print journals and also allows the inclusion of supporting materials, such as audio and video clips, maps, and photographs....

Another feature of NWJL is that it is completely free and accessible world-wide. Forgoing a print version means we are able to avoid some of the costs that confront print journals. We thank Simon Fraser University for support that helps to defray the remaining costs. Our registration system allows us to alert interested scholars each time a new article is published on our site. Each article is assigned an issue number and posted as soon as it is ready.


I just mailed the May issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue reviews a couple of dozen trends in scholarly communication that favor open access. The round-up section briefly notes 64 developments from April.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

New York Times endorses OA textbooks

An editorial in today's NYTimes recommends OA textbooks.  Excerpt:

The State of Washington is looking out for students and their families by passing a law requiring textbook companies to disclose prices and other relevant information when they market books to college professors in the state....

A 2005 study by the Government Accountability Office found that [textbook] costs had nearly tripled over some two decades, thanks in part to pricey but marginally useful CD-ROMs and instructional supplements, as well as the constant issuing of lucrative but little changed new editions — publishing’s version of planned obsolescence.

The [Washington] law is an important first step. But to really drive down costs, colleges and universities around the country will need to embrace creative solutions, like the one on display at the online Connexions system at Rice University.

That content, already in use for several courses at Rice and at other colleges and universities, is generated by a consortium of writers. Online use is free. And a 300-page hardcover electrical-engineering textbook can be printed out for about $25 — roughly one-fifth the cost of a book from a conventional publisher. Other universities should follow Rice’s creative lead. Students can use all the help they can get.

OA research on genetic diseases

The Genetic Alliance has created Disease InfoSearch, a portal to the extensive and OA research on genetic diseases within the US National Library of Medicine.  From yesterday's announcement:

Genetic Alliance today announced a new website feature designed to help patients, care givers, health professionals, and others easily locate and navigate the vast array of information on genetic disorders that is available from the National Library of Medicine (NLM), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The "portal" into NLM resources brings together, on one webpage, links to a wide range of information for patients and caregivers - from basic descriptions of a disease and its symptoms to the most current scientific research. It is designed to serve the needs of a broad spectrum of users, ranging from those who are just beginning to learn about a disorder to those who understand complex scientific information, including those who want to track emerging information over time. This valuable new resource was developed in collaboration with the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of NLM that creates and maintains public databases of biomedical information.

What Can One Find Through the Genetic Alliance/NCBI Resource? 

  • Disease descriptions from NCBI's Genes & Disease online book 
  • Disease and genetic information from Genetics Home Reference 
  • NLM Medline Plus web pages, which provide extensive links to information on diagnosis and treatment of diseases, physicians in the field, relevant health organizations, and more 
  • A guide to genetic testing, and directories of geneticists and gene testing laboratories, from GeneTests...
  • Clinical trials that may be available to those with genetic diseases
  • Medical dictionaries and encyclopedias 
  • Primers and tutorials on DNA, genetics, genome mapping, and other scientific subjects 
  • The latest research published in scientific journals, via PubMed and PubMed Central 
  • Technical information about the genes, DNA sequences, chromosomes and protein structures associated with genetic diseases....

"Compiling all these sources of information together in a single location, and in an automated format with pre-computed search results, will make it significantly easier for patients and others to find the information they need about genetic disorders," said Sharon Terry, M.A., President and CEO of Genetic Alliance. "Information is a vital component of our vision of empowering consumers and this joint project with NCBI brings us one step closer to achieving that vision," she said.

"We are pleased to collaborate with Genetic Alliance on this project," said David Lipman, M.D., Director of NCBI. "Genetic Alliance is dedicated to improving the lives of those with genetic disorders, and we share their goal of improving public access to information."

New URL for Arthritis campaign's OA policy

The Arthritis Research Campaign has moved the web page on its OA policy

Change your bookmarks; there's no redirect at the old URL.

(In January 2007, the ARC adopted a mandate for ARC-funded research.)

Quality-controlled wiki-based medical textbooks

Pamela Lewis Dolan, Physician wikis: Do-it-yourself textbooks, American Medical Association News, May 7, 2007.  Only the opening paragraphs are free online, at least so far.  Excerpt:

Four cardiology fellows at the Cleveland Clinic recently launched a Web site on a platform they believe could be the medical textbook of the future -- the wiki....

At least 30 medical wikis have popped up, with topics ranging from radiology to billing to rosacea. Most have few contributors, but all have similar goals -- to create a more vibrant, up-to-date conversation and library of knowledge than can be found in a textbook or journal.

"Our goal is to really develop a comprehensive body of knowledge that is up-to-date and accurate and very accessible," said Brian Jefferson, MD, an AskDrWiki co-founder.

AskDrWiki, modeled after the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia, was created as a place where a group of cardiologists could share and exchange information in a wiki format that could be accessed from anywhere....

As more medical wikis launch, experts say the creators will need to break away from the traditional wiki model to ensure that the information accessed is accurate. That is what many medical wikis are doing, which makes adding content slower but allows time for fact-checking....

Interview with the father of India's green revolution

Richard Poynder, Bridging the digital divide: Empowering the people, Open and Shut?  May 1, 2007.  This interview with Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan is focused on his work to help India feed itself.  It's not part of Richard's series of Open Access Interviews, but it contains these nuggets on OA:

RP:  ...Do you have views on Open Access?

MSS: I fully believe in Open Access.

RP: You are a Fellow of many of the world's leading Science Academies — including the Royal Society, the US National Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Would you be willing to use your undoubted stature to persuade these academies to proactively promote Open Access to scientific and scholarly literature?

MSS: I will do my best to persuade all academies to follow the principle of Open Access....

RP: I want to broaden the discussion out a little if I may. I don't know how much interest you take in the various free and open movements, but it strikes me that there are interesting parallels in what you are trying to achieve with the VKCs [Village Knowledge Centres], and what these various movements are trying to achieve in their respective arenas. I wonder, for instance, if this might suggest that at some point mankind forgot how to co-operate, or to share effectively. Since it seems likely that co-operation will be essential if we are to progress, and ensure that we don't destroy the planet, perhaps we are in the process of reinventing how to share, or devising new ways of doing so. Would you agree?

MSS:  Maybe.  Mahatma Gandhi said that we should behave as trustees and not as owners of both physical and intellectual wealth. In my view it is criminal to make access to information and technologies which are of great importance to human health, nutrition and environmental security, exclusive. I believe there must be compulsory licensing of rights in all cases where the discovery is of great importance to the elimination of hunger and poverty, as well as health security (e.g., HIV AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, etc.).  And this principle should also apply in the case of information and technologies able to mitigate the adverse impact of global warming and sea level rise....

Monday, April 30, 2007

Virginia Tech archive on the April 16 killings

Virginia Tech has launched an OA archive to understand the killings on its campus two weeks ago and commemorate its victims.  From today's announcement:

Virginia Tech’s Center for Digital Discourse and Culture (CDDC) is collecting materials to launch the April 16 Archive. This new online archive is meant to assist artists, humanists, social scientists, and all other scholars who seek, today and in the future, to develop a better understanding of the violent events of April 16, 2007 at Virginia Tech. In addition, it is working in concert with the Virginia Tech’s University Libraries Archive, which is documenting and preserving displays both to honor individual members of the university community and to provide an historical archive for future researchers....

The Archive will preserve a diverse record of the events surrounding April 16, 2007 by collecting many accounts compiled from first-hand observations, photographic images, sound recordings, media reports, personal writings, official statements, individual blog postings, and any other documents that can be stored as digital files.

“In addition to local reactions, we welcome responses from across the globe in any language,” said Brent Jesiek, manager of the Center for Digital Discourse and Culture. “Our goal is to leave a positive legacy for the larger community and contribute to a collective process of healing, especially as those affected by this tragedy tell their stories in their own words.” ...

Collections of open molecules

Peter Murray-Rust, Repositories or Lists of Open Molecules, A Scientist and the Web, April 29, 2007.  Excerpt:

I am looking for lists (or repositories) of small molecules with connection tables (or machine-parsable molecular structures) which are Open. By Open I mean that anyone can, in principle download, copy or clone part or all of the site, re-use the information and redistribute without reference to the original site. At present I am aware of:

  • Pubchem (10 million+ , superset of many Open datasets including NCI. I use this term to subsume everything at
  • ChEBI (> 25 000 terms collected at EBI, not all with connection tables)
  • MSD (ligands in Protein structures, collected at EBI > 5000)
  • WWMM (250, 000 calculated structures from NCI database). Reposited in DSpace,
  • Crystallographic Open Database crystal structures collected from the literature or donated. Soon to be complemented with CrystalEye. This should give nearly 100,000 crystal structures.
  • The BlueObelisk Data Repository (BODR). A collection of critical information collected by BO volunteers primarily as reference data for (Open) software. (includes non-molecular stuff like elemental properties). BODR is widely distributed on Gnome and other Open Source distros.

I’ve almost certainly missed some so please let us know....

More on the OA impact advantage

Yasar Tonta, Yurdagül Ünal, and Umut Al, The Research Impact of Open Access Journal Articles, in Proceedings ELPUB 2007, the 11th International Conference on Electronic Publishing, focusing on challenges for the digital spectrum, Vienna, 2007.  pp. 1-11.  Self-archived April 30, 2007.

Abstract:   The availability of scientific and intellectual works freely through scientists’ personal web sites, digital university archives or through the electronic print (eprint) archives of major scientific institutions has radically changed the process of scientific communication within the last decade. The “Open Access” (OA) initiative is having a tremendous impact upon the scientific communication process, which is largely based on publishing in scientific periodicals. This exploratory paper investigates the research impact of OA articles across the subject disciplines. The research impact of OA articles as measured by the number of citations varies from discipline to discipline. OA articles in Biology and Economics had the highest research impact. OA articles in hard, urban, and convergent fields such as Physics, Mathematics, and Chemical Engineering did not necessarily get cited most often.

Update.  See Stevan Harnad's comment:

The above article compared average citation counts in several different fields for a sample of articles in a sample of OA journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

The average citation counts for articles in the OA journals were found to vary across fields. It was concluded that OA research impact varies across fields.

No comparison was made with non-OA journals in the same fields. Hence it is impossible to say whether any of these differences have anything to do with OA. Fields no doubt differ in their average number of citations. Journals no doubt differ too, in subject matter, quality, and citation impact, hence must be equated: It is not clear whether the OA journals in each field are the top, medium or bottom journals, relative to the non-OA journals.

No conclusions at all can be drawn from this study. The authors are encouraged to do the necessary controls....

The IR at Simon Fraser U

Nina Saklikar, SFU's Institutional Repository, a presentation at Beyond Limits: Building Open Access Collections (Vancouver, April 19, 2007). 

Abstract:   This presentation outlines the history of Simon Fraser University's Institutional Repository, the introduction of mandatory thesis and dissertation deposit, and the challenges involved in maintaining and growing the repository. Part of the Beyond 20/20: Envisioning the Future pre-conference sessions.

Registry and support for Australian repositories

The Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (APSR) has launched Online Research Collections Australia (ORCA).  Excerpt from the April issue of the APSR Newsletter:

APSR has recently established Online Research Collections Australia (ORCA) with the twofold aims of developing an online registry of Australian research collections and a coordinating network to support researchers with the ongoing development of these collections. These are known as the ORCA Registry project and the ORCA Network.

The ORCA Registry project has been established to improve the capacity of institutional repositories, archives and data centres to create and share collection-level information and resources. Its aims are to develop a discovery portal for collections information (that is, information about research collections) and a services registry.

The main priority addressed by the ORCA Registry is to provide a better discovery environment for data collections....

Coordination of support for online research collections is the job of the ORCA Network which includes all APSR partners....

The human and social network provided by ORCA will bring together eResearchers, collection managers and “eResearch technologists” (data scientists and domain-specific informatics specialists)....

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Self-archiving and citation impact during an embargo period

Alma Swan, Author compliance with publisher open access embargoes: a study of the journal Nature Physics, Technical Report, School of Electronics & Computer Science, University of Southampton, 2007.  Self-archived April 25, 2007.  Excerpt: 

...In October 2005, the NPG [Nature Publishing Group] launched a new journal called Nature Physics....[I wanted to know] physicists in the sub-disciplines that habitually self-archive in the arXiv would respond to the NPG’s [new] 6-month embargo period....

As soon as the first issue of Nature Physics was published and it was possible to see the table of contents I carried out...a webwide search for the articles published in that first issue. I searched for the papers classified as Letters (because in Nature these are actually primary research papers) and Articles (longer research papers) only....

I looked for [both] postprints...and preprints....

The results are as follows, for Day One after publication.

Letters to Nature Physics (6 in total):

  • 2 had the postprint version in arXiv
  • 2 had the preprint version in arXiv...
  • 2 were not in arXiv, though one of these appeared as the publisher's PDF on the author's home page....

Articles (2 in total):

  • both had postprints in arXiv

In total, then, only one article out of 8 was not freely available on the web somewhere immediately upon publication....

In addition, the four postprints in arXiv had gathered a total of nine citations and 44 downloads by the time they appeared in the journal.

Blackwell Online Open no longer an experiment

Blackwell used to say that its hybrid journal program, Online Open, was "on trial as a service through to the end of 2007."  But this week it dropped that description from its web site, apparently marking the transition of Online Open from an experiment to a permanent service.

New JISC funding program

JISC has announced a new £5.3m funding program and welcomes funding requests for repositories.  Proposals are due by noon on June 21, 2007.

Leveraging Wikipedia

Mark Chillingworth has an idea:  Information professionals who want to steer students toward high-quality, peer-reviewed literature shouldn't forbid them to use Wikipedia but make the case in Wikipedia.  Excerpt:

IWR [Information World Review] doesn't want to rubbish the teaching of good information literacy, but we can't help feeling that this education and an improvement in the information should take place within Wikipedia.

Now, before you all shoot me down, let me explain. Wikipedia is a community, not just of those that put time and effort into editing it, but also the users. Therefore the best place to meet your perspective users, introduce them to your content and advise them on better information gathering practices is at Wikipedia. Information professionals and information providers should be playing a considerable part in improving the content on Wikipedia....

Wikipedia is in many ways a platform, it has a host of information within it, and it seamlessly leads users to other sources within and beyond Wikipedia, so therefore the information industry should accept and embrace Wikipedia....IWR knows publishing houses in the business area that are updating entries for areas they are specialists in and have gained around 200 extra visitors a month from Wikipedia alone and the subsequent revenue.

PS:  Good idea.  I've often made a similar point:  "The fact that we want free online access to full texts doesn't mean that we already have it. Limiting searches to free online sources can be wishful thinking that undermines the adequacy of a search. But...I welcome evidence that young researchers look first in free online sources....That's by far the most convenient place to look. Our job is to put more information in that basket, not persuade researchers to start with less convenient sources."

OA helps researchers directly, non-researchers indirectly

Stevan Harnad, Open Access Is Not Just A Health Matter, Open Access Archivangelism, April 29, 2007.  Excerpt:

The interest and commitment of some of the supporters of Open Access (OA) is derived from and motivated by the importance of making health-related research accessible to those who need it: patients, family, researchers.

This is certainly an important component of OA, and perhaps the aspect that most directly touches our lives. But if OA is seen or portrayed as being mainly a health-related matter, it not only leaves out the vast majority of OA's target content-- which is all research in all research areas, from the physical and biological sciences to the social sciences and the humanities -- but it even under-serves OA's potential benefits to health research itself.

Even the "tax-payer access" aspect of OA, though important, is not quite representative, because the primary benefit of OA to the tax-payer who pays for the research is not that it makes the research freely accessible to the tax-payer (although it does indeed do that too!), but that it makes the research freely accessible to the researchers for whom it was mostly written, but many of whom cannot afford access to it -- so that they can use, apply and build upon that research, in their own research -- to the benefit of the tax-payers who funded it and for whose sake the research is conducted....

JISC/UKOLN project to streamline repository deposits

SWORD (Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit) is a new project to streamline deposits in OA repositories.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  From the project plan:

The effective and efficient population of repositories is a key concern for the repositories community. Deposit is a crucial step in the repository workflow; without it a repository has no content and can fulfill no further function....

There is currently no standard mechanism for accepting content into repositories, yet there already exists a stable and widely implemented service for harvesting metadata from repositories (OAI-PMH – Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting). This project will implement a similarly open protocol or specification for deposit....

This project aims to develop a Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit (SWORD) - a lightweight deposit protocol that will be implemented as a simple web service within EPrints, DSpace, Fedora and IntraLibrary and tested against a prototype ‘smart deposit’ tool. The project plans to take forward the lightweight protocol originally formulated by a small group working within the Digital Repositories Programme (the ‘Deposit API’ work). The project is aligned with the Object Reuse and Exchange (ORE) Mellon-funded two-year project by the Open Archives Initiative, which commenced in October 2006....

There are many scenarios supporting a common Deposit web service, for example:

  • 'Easy-Deposit' service. This might be a centralised, or a local, service which would be able to accept deposits and direct them to an appropriate repository or multiple repositories. It might be implemented by institution or by a third-party service such as the JISC-funded Prospero project’s “The Depot”
  • Support multiple deposits. In the light of the RCUK statements on Open Access, the need for this facility is clear. Some Research Councils are mandating deposit of research output created out of funded projects into Research Council specified repositories. Authors will also want, or may need, to additionally deposit in their institutional or departmental repository. A multiple deposit facility would be a significant benefit for depositors with limited time to submit material and for repository advocates working hard to sell the benefits of repositories to academics.
  • Support transfer of deposits between intermediate hosts, e.g. from central or laboratory repository to another repository, or to a preservation service....

The scope of this project is primarily technical development. It is concerned with initial deposit and will not consider requirements for updating existing resources, metadata creation or performing duplicate checking....

From the project home page, a wiki:

The project intends to take an iterative approach to developing and revising the [deposit] protocol, web-services and client implementation through evaluative testing and feedback mechanisms. Community acceptance and take-up will be sought through dissemination activities. The project is led by UKOLN, University of Bath, with partners at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, the University of Southampton and Intrallect Ltd....

Comment.  Streamlining deposit is one of the most important ways to fill repositories and grow the volume of OA literature.  This is one to watch.

The case for OA learning environments

Kenneth Mentor, Open Access Learning Environments, Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Spring 2007.  (Thanks to William Walsh.)  Excerpt from the abstract:

Educational institutions are increasingly adopting “closed” learning environments that hide learning materials in password-protected areas. While this may be a logical solution to a range of problems, much is lost in this mode of course delivery. Although there are logical reasons for moving toward closed environments, we may be erring too far on the side of caution. Educators and administrators are encouraged to consider the advantages of alternative models that respect the need for privacy while opening learning opportunities to a wider population....

Issues related to technology are at the forefront, often to the extent that we may forget the primary objective - teaching and learning. This may be a temporary memory lapse....

Price increases at Elsevier hybrid journals

Elsevier's hybrid or sponsored-article journals promise to reduce their subscription prices in proportion to author uptake of the OA option.  ("We do not plan to charge subscribers for author sponsored content.")  But at the same time they raise their subscription prices every year, as usual.  How does this net out? 

William Walsh has put together a very useful table showing that Elsevier's hybrid OA journals raised their subscription prices by 6.39% last year, even more than the 5.5% increase at Elsevier journals overall.  The company did not reveal the rate of author uptake for the hybrid journals. 

Comment.  Can Elsevier verify that it actually reduced prices in proportion to author uptake?  Can it explain why the hybrid journal prices nevertheless rose faster than the company average?  Will subscribers press the company to answer these questions before renewing again?

Entrez upgrades at the NCBI

The NCBI has introduced raft of new features for the Entrez databases, including PubMed Central.  For details see Annette Nahin's article in the NLM Technical Bulletin for April 26, 2007.