Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Prospects for an OA legal research system

Bonnie Shucha has blogged some notes on the Back to the Future of Legal Research conference (Chicago, May 18, 2007).  Excerpt:

...The morning session has been very thought provoking. We heard from Mary Alice Baish of the American Association of Law Libraries who spoke about efforts (or lack thereof) of state and federal governments to provide official, authentic legal materials in the digital age. Although no states have any type of authentication program in place, she was encouraged that many have begun to consider the implications.

Ian Gallacher of Syracuse University College of Law outlined his proposal that a consortium of law schools make all common law freely available on the Internet. He lamented the fact that publishers seem to be moving away from print resources making access much more limited to those who cannot afford systems such as Westlaw and LexisNexis. This was one of the issues he raised in his presentation on why an open access legal research system is needed rather than how to go about implementing it.

OA dermatology

Evangelia Papadavid and Matthew E. Falagas, World Wide Web resources of open access, educational dermatology clinical image quizzes and databases, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, June 2007.  Not even an abstract is free online for non-subscribers, at least so far.

Open source science for skeptics of the paranormal

OpenSourceScience launched on May 17.  From the site (a wiki):

OpenSourceScience is a public space for managing controversial scientific experiments in a way that provides open access to of all phases of the research. We provide a centralized resource for scientific collaboration, and help underwrite scientifically rigorous experiments that may contribute to an improved understanding of human consciousness.

The essence of the open source model is the rapid creation of innovative results within an inclusive and collaborative environment. At OpenSourceScience, we bring together the skeptical community, controversial science researchers, and interested laypeople to help design and facilitate high-quality scientific experiments. Our community encompasses multiple points of view joined together by a commitment to "follow the data". This spirit of cooperation promises to improve the long-term viability of our results....

From the press release:

...The website offers a variety of tools for managing scientific experiments and lets site visitors discuss and participate in the research process. Besides promoting scientific collaboration, OpenSourceScience offers financial grants to researchers working within the areas featured on the website.

According to Alex Tsakiris, one of the sites creators, the open source model is well suited for this task: “The open source model has proven to be a powerful enabling technology because it promotes collaboration. When you look at some of the controversial areas of research, like whether our consciousness is separate from our brain, there has been very little collaboration between researchers and those with opposing views. Everyone seems to agree that collaboration is necessary, but until now, it just hasn’t happened.”

OpenSourceScience suited for scientifically-minded skeptics as well as those interested in controversial subjects such as parapsychology and human consciousness....

Open data as part of any strategy to reduce global warming

Peter Murray-Rust, Avoiding Mass Extinction with OpenData, A Scientist and the Web, May 17, 2007.  Excerpt:

A very impressive talk yesterday by Gavin Starks about the challenge of Climate Change. If you ever have the chance to hear or meet him, do. The talk has been blogged by the indefatigable Talis/Nodalities (Paull Miller and (in this case) Rob Styles) as

Climate Change isn’t about saving the planet

Gavin’s message was simple - a necessary condition for saving the planet (and ourselves) is to have a consistent approach to using the available data. That means Open Data and Open Standards for using it.

As simple as that. How will future generations (if there are any) judge those people or organisations who did not share data?

Explore Gavin’s Avoiding Mass Extinction Engine [AMEE]...a technical service that features

  • Measurement:  Access to standardised co2 data and calculations (including the official UK Government figures)
  • Profiling:  Store and retrieve personal footprints
  • Sharing and Transparency:  Help develop, extend, share and collaborate on the measurement of energy consumption....

Notes from the IASSIST open data conference

Pam Baxter has blogged some notes on the IASSIST 2007 conference, Building Global Knowledge Communities with Open Data (Montreal, May 15-18, 2007).  Excerpt:

Your trusty blogger attended Data Access Questions:  Open and Shut (session D3)....

Susan Cadogan, member of the acquisitions team at the UK data archive, opened with a review of the archive from 1967 to date, its expansion and a review of the legal framework for data deposit, maintenance, and dissemination.  Access to deposits is governed by one of three access conditions:  completely open access for researchers, access with the archive acting on behalf of the depositor, and use dependent on permission of the depositor (the last only on request).  The remainder was a discussion of relations with depositors in general and development of the requisite agreements governing access and use as they’ve changed over time.  Although the goal is to make data available as widely as possible, it’s also governed by requirements of the end-user license.  Over time, the collection has expanded in scope to include datasets with a greater degree of detail and wider geographic coverage, both of which can correlate with
increased disclosure risks....

Keit Bang was lead presenter of When Data Aren’t Open....

Robert Downs, senior digital archivist, represented CIESIN presenters on the topic of the Creative Commons licensing movement and the combined goals of  allowing people to  use and redistribute their data, document use, provide appropriate attribution, and track provenance.  Traditional data licensing is, of course, challenging, fraught with time-consuming paperwork, records maintenance hassles, and others too numerous to detail here....There are two parts to permissions issues for CIESIN:  getting permissions from data providers (including identifying ownership, not easy in the case of researcher collaborations), requesting non-exclusive rights for CIESIN, avoiding use restrictions whenever possible, requesting permission to permit 3rd party redistribution.  The second component concerns what can be called the user or distribution end:  establishing use and re-distribution, determining what parts may be copyrighted versus freely distributable....

Tanvi Desai, database manager at LSE Research Laboratory, supports about 200 academic researchers.  She shared her experiences regarding procedures to gain access to Eurostat products....

Here's another Pam Baxter post on a different session:

An overriding theme of the A1 session, Self-Archiving or Self Storage, was empowering data producers to participate in creating and providing metadata for their materials. Another way to describe it: involving researchers in these processes by meeting them where they’re at with the most flexible tools possible. I must also mention that this was an extremely popular session, drawing a standing-room-only crowd....

Ken Miller and Graham Pryor discussed the background of StORe (Source-to-Output Repositories), generally envisioned as a mechanism to link literature to its underlying data. The most recent phase extended the concept to non-social science disciplines and involved surveying the practices of about 3,000 researchers. There is an overriding opinion that although open access to data is great for consumers, producers still rely on well-established professional networking to learn about and access specialized data. Based on the concept of institutional repositories, a middleware gathers essential study-level metadata elements from researchers (in a reasonably painless fashion!). Its goal is to be simple; permit searching to replicate the browsing experience; be reasonably “unbureaucractic;” permit data self management; and provide researchers with latitude to determine such elements as which items will be public, who has access to the data products, and how long data would be embargoed. For further information, see the extensive StORe wiki.

Marion Witenberg and Rutger Kramer of DANS presented on the EASY initiative. Again, the focus is on providing a relatively painless mechanism for researchers to deposit datasets themselves using a flexible and customized tool.....As a unit, DANS is responsible for storing and providing access to research data in the social sciences and humanities. EASY was designed so that depositors supply core metadata with a minimal intervention from a data archivist, if desired.....

Charlie Thomas represented UC Berkeley’s SDA team. SDA 3.1 was released a few weeks ago and includes an application for loading datasets. Said application, an “archiver,” employs a graphical web-based interface and requires three files (ascii data, metadata in DDL format, and a grouped variable list). The archiver is highly customizable....The presentation handout can be viewed here....

Google Book Search now includes print books

Adam Mathes, Google Book Search becomes more comprehensive, Google blog, May 17, 2007.  Excerpt:

Google Book Search allows you to instantly search the full text of over a million digitized books, but we thought that wasn't quite enough. Now when you search you'll get both digitized book results as well as records for millions of other books that still just exist in the analog world.

When you view these new added book records, you can often read reviews, a summary, or see what other people had to say about the book around the web. Since these books haven't been digitally indexed yet, you can't preview the text online, but if you've discovered something great, we offer links to buy the book or find it in a library near you.

We're doing this because we want to offer users the most comprehensive book search in the world - whether it's a book you can read online now, preview samples, see a few snippets, or just read what others have written about the book. We're still very busy digitizing millions more books, but want to make as much discoverable as possible today.

To find out more, check out our post on Inside Google Book Search.

More on unfree access to public data in the UK

Michael Cross, Free groundwater information dries up, The Guardian, May 17, 2007.  Excerpt:

The [UK] Environment Agency this week admitted imposing charges on businesses wishing to download information vital for protecting the safety of groundwater. The consequences, according to one expert, could be catastrophic....

Ordinary citizens can look up the maps by entering their postcode in the excellent "What's in your backyard?" section of the agency's website....

Originally, the same free data were also available to companies in the business of preventing pollution. However, professionals say they are now being asked to pay. One consultant says he has been quoted £750 for an annual licence to access data on source protection zones. The agency confirmed that it charges business users....

One professional who has encountered the charges is Karl Daines, a geographical information expert with an environmental consultancy . He says he finds the change "surprising" - especially as one of the main uses of the data is to produce reports that are then submitted to the Environment Agency itself.

Charging for data will inevitably reduce the extent to which it is disseminated, with possibly disastrous consequences, says Daines: "Removing the data from the public domain is going to hinder the spread of people's understanding of groundwater issues, and in instances where the data is required, the cost may be prohibitive or the data not referenced, and as a result recommendations may be made which ultimately put an source protection zone at risk of pollution."

Technology Guardian's Free Our Data campaign, which argues that all impersonal electronic data collected by the government in the course of its public duties be made available free to all comers, agrees. Apart from the direct risks arising from data not being available, there is also a chilling effect to the wider knowledge economy: innovative ways of disseminating these data may never be developed if it remains controlled by government.

There is also a practical issue: does the revenue from licensing to conscientious professionals (for unscrupulous ones may find their own sources) really outweigh the cost of administering and policing the charging regime? And is there an overall benefit beyond any (undemonstrated) financial one? With data held on a web server, issues of scarcity do not exist; unlike a well, a server will never run dry of the necessary 0s and 1s to make a copy of a dataset. Yet the Environment Agency is seeking to impose an artificial constraint on the supply of this data without any evidence that such a constraint is necessary....

The European Library 1.5

What's new in The European Library version 1.5, launched yesterday?  From the front page:

  • Simplified navigation menu
  • Broader Virtual keyboard interface
  • Improvement of initial loading
  • New Mini Searchbox lay-out alternatives
  • FAQ's introduction in English
  • New content and services:
    • PL - National Digital Library Polona and its 9 sub-collections (OAI-PMH)
    • DA - 9 Danish collections (SRU gateway)
    • HR - General Catalogue of the National and University Library of Croatia (SRU gateway)
    • PT - Portuguese OpenURL resolver
  • Records of following catalogues point now to their native interface ("Availability at library"):
    • FR - BN-OPALE PLUS, the catalogue of the Bibliothèque nationale de France
    • DA - All Danish catalogues and collections
  • Open access to The European Library Handbook & Metadata Registry.

Open Conference Systems 2.0

Color-coding publisher policies on self-archiving

Celia Jenkins and three co-authors, RoMEO Studies 8: Self-Archiving: The logic behind the colour-coding used in the Copyright Knowledge Bank, Program: electronic library and information systems, 41, 2 (2007) pp. 124-133 (accessible only to subscribers, at least so far).  Abstract:

Purpose – The purpose of this research is to show how the self-archiving of journal papers is a major step towards providing open access to research. However, copyright transfer agreements (CTAs) that are signed by an author prior to publication often indicate whether, and in what form, self-archiving is allowed. The SHERPA/RoMEO database enables easy access to publishers' policies in this area and uses a colour-coding scheme to classify publishers according to their self-archiving status. The database is currently being redeveloped and renamed the Copyright Knowledge Bank. However, it will still assign a colour to individual publishers indicating whether pre-prints can be self-archived (yellow), post-prints can be self-archived (blue), both pre-print and post-print can be archived (green) or neither (white). The nature of CTAs means that these decisions are rarely as straightforward as they may seem, and this paper describes the thinking and considerations that were used in assigning these colours in the light of the underlying principles and definitions of open access.

Design/methodology/approach – Detailed analysis of a large number of CTAs led to the development of controlled vocabulary of terms which was carefully analysed to determine how these terms equate to the definition and “spirit” of open access.

Findings – The paper reports on how conditions outlined by publishers in their CTAs, such as how or where a paper can be self-archived, affect the assignment of a self-archiving colour to the publisher.

Originality/value – The colour assignment is widely used by authors and repository administrators in determining whether academic papers can be self-archived. This paper provides a starting-point for further discussion and development of publisher classification in the open access environment.

OA to government data helps citizens

Jon Udell, Motivation, context, and citizen analysis of government data, Jon Udell's blog, May 18, 2007. 

Matt McAlister heard “crackling firearms” in his San Francisco neighborhood and wrote a wonderful essay on a theme that was central to my keynote talk last week at the GOVIS conference: how citizens can and will work with governments to diagnose social problems and develop solutions. When the District of Columbia’s DCStat program rolled out last summer, I was delighted by the forward thinking involved. Publishing the city’s operational data directly to the web, for everyone to see and analyze, with the explicit goal of making the delivery of government services transparent and accountable, was and is an astonishingly bold move. And as Matt found when investigating crime in his neighborhood, it’s still part of the unevenly distributed future:

I then found the official San Francisco Police Department Crime Map. Of course, the data is wrapped in their own heavy-handed user interface and unavailable in common shareable web data formats.

Access to data is good, and access to data in useful formats is better, but these are only the first steps. We need to make interpretations of the data, compare and discuss those interpretations, and use them to inform policy advocacy....

Here’s another glimpse of what’s to come: I took a snapshot of the DC crime data, uploaded it to Dabble DB, built a view of burglary by district and neighborhood, and published it at this public URL. There are two key points here. First, discussion can attach to (and will be discoverable in relation to) that URL. Second, the data behind the view is also available at that URL, in a variety of useful formats, so alternate views can be produced, pointed to, and discussed....

UpdateCitizen Crime Watch builds on McAlister's essay and Udell's blog post to argue that OA to geocoded crime data would help citizens help police reduce crime in New Orleans.

More journals will require OA for clinical drug trial data

Registry of Clinical Trials: BIREME announces that journals in LILACS and SciELO should follow the WHO orientations, Virtual Health Library Newsletter, May 18, 2007.  (Thanks to Abel Packer.)  Excerpt: 

The debate concerning transparency of clinical trials began several years ago, peaking in 2005, when the World Health Organization (WHO) defined a policy for their public registry (read full article here), which is supported by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) and the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME)....

The BIREME/PAHO/WHO participated in the discussions regarding this policy....

[T]his week BIREME is launching a recommendation to health-related scientific journal editors indexed at the Scientific Library Electronic Online (SciELO) and LILACS (Latin American and Caribbean Literature on Health Sciences)....

[T]he WHO has just launched a portal - WHO Clinical Trial Search Portal....

From the BIREME recommendation:

This is to inform all editors of health journals indexed in LILACS and SciELO databases that, starting in August 2007, BIREME will require that journals which publish randomized controlled trials and clinical trials include in the "Instructions for Authors" the recommendation for prior registration of all trials published in their journals and to require the correspondent identification number for accepted manuscripts....

BIREME suggests the following text to be included in the Instructions for Authors:

"Journal XXX follows the policies of the World Health Organization (WHO) and of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) for clinical trial registration, recognizing the importance of those initiatives for international dissemination of information on clinical research, in open access.  Accordingly, only articles of trials previously registered in one of the Clinical Trial Registries that meet WHO and ICMJE requirements will be accepted for publication, starting in 2007.  The list of registries accepted by WHO and ICMJE is available in ICMJE site.  The trial registration number should be published at the end of the abstract."

PS:  I wrote to BIREME for clarification and learned that, while it has no authority to require journals to change their editorial policies, it does have authority to decide which journals are indexed in LILACS and SciELO.  Its new document is a recommendation to all journals and a requirement for journals that wish to be indexed in LILACS and SciELO.

Removing restrictions on public-domain photographs

Public Resource is a new US-based non-profit "dedicated to the creation of public works projects on the Internet." 

In its first act, it sent a memo (dated today) to the Smithsonian Institution protesting its restrictions on a collection of public-domain images, reminding it of the law, and informing it that Public Resource had downloaded all 6,288 images and uploaded them to Flickr.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.) 

The news coverage has just begun.

Update. Also see Peter Hirtle's reflections on policy (which favors removing restrictions on public-domain art) and law (which might still protect what the Smithsonian had been doing).

Google search across DSpace repositories

The DSpace Federation has launched a Google Co-op search engine which apparently searches all DSpace repositories.

Friday, May 18, 2007

EU program endorses OA and calls for funding proposals

The EU's eContentPlus program has issued its 2007 Work Programme.  It endorses OA and calls for funding proposals in areas that include OA.  (Thanks to Francis Muguet and his page for WSIS-SI on the EU and OA.)

In Section 5, the Work Programme calls for OA:

To signal the importance of and launch a policy process on access to and dissemination of scientific/scholarly information and strategies for the preservation of such information across the Union, the Commission further issued a communication on scientific information to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee....The eContentplus programme will support the creation of the European Digital Library by achieving interoperability between national digital collections and services (e.g. through common standards) and ensuring that these will be accessible through the multilingual European Digital Library service as being developed by TEL. It further aims to improve the spread of European research results through experiments with open access.

For these purposes, best practice networks for digital libraries as well as targeted projects for digital libraries and for scientific/scholarly content will be funded in 2007.

In Section 5.3, it describes some specific funding goals:

5.3.  Targeted projects for scientific/scholarly content


Improve the spread of European research results through conclusive experiments with open access to digital libraries of scientific/scholarly content. The latter refers to organised collections of published results of scientists' or scholars' research work in the EU Member States or other countries participating in the programme and includes both articles, papers, conference proceedings, monographs, textbooks and other similar publications and the related underlying datasets.


In addition to the common requirements for Targeted Projects, proposals should meet the following conditions:

  • Carry out conclusive experiments on new models and processes involving different types of relevant stakeholders, i.e. academic community, libraries, institutional repositories, scientific publishers and the funding bodies.
  • The needs of the users (i.e. researchers) should be taken into account, ensuring the right balance between the desirable dissemination of research results and the equally necessary protection of IPR.

Note that these are only part of the Work Programme's Planned call for proposals 2007.  The final version will be published in June.  But if you're planning to apply for funds, it wouldn't hurt to start drafting a proposal now.

Nature's online experiments

Hilmar Schmundt, For Science Journal, Web Is 'Second Nature', Spiegel Online, May 18, 2007.  An interview with Nature's Timo Hannay on Nature's online experiments, including blogs, podcasts, a Second Life campus, a trial run with open review and plans to try another.

More broadcasters lift restrictions on presidential debate broadcasts

Add NPR and Iowa Public Radio to the list of broadcasters who will lift licensing restrictions on their broadcasts of presidential debates.  (Thanks to the Iowa Public Radio blog.)

Publishers doubt the OA impact advantage

The Publishing Research Consortium has released a new report, Do Open Access Articles Have Greater Citation Impact? A critical review of the literature, May 17, 2007.  The authors are Iain D. Craig (Wiley-Blackwell), Andrew M. Plume (Elsevier), Marie E. McVeigh (Thomson Scientific), James Pringle (Thomson Scientific), and Mayur Amin (Elsevier).  See the summary paper and press release, May 17, 2007.  From the Executive Overview (in the summary paper):

  1. The last few years have seen the emergence of several Open Access options in scholarly communication which can broadly be grouped into two areas referred to as ‘Gold’ and ‘Green’ Open Access (OA). In this article we review the literature examining the relationship between OA status and citation counts of scholarly articles, and take no position on the relative value or sustainability of these communication models.
  2. Early studies showed a correlation between the free online availability or OA status of articles and higher citation counts.
  3. The authors of many of these studies implied that this correlation was causal, without due consideration of potential confounding factors.
  4. More recent investigations have applied sophisticated bibliometric methods to dissect the nature of the relationship between article OA status and citations.
  5. Three non-exclusive postulates have been proposed to account for the observed citation differences between OA and non-OA articles: an Open Access postulate, a Selection Bias postulate, and an Early View postulate.
    • The Open Access (OA) postulate suggests that authors are more likely to read, and thus cite, articles that are made available in an OA model.
    • The Selection Bias (SB) postulate suggests that the most prominent (and thus most citable) authors are more likely to make their articles available in an OA model, and that they are more likely to do so with their most important (and thus most citable) articles.
    • The Early View (EV) postulate relates only to articles posted before final journal publication, and suggests that the period between the early posting of an article (either pre-print or post-print) and the appearance of the cognate published journal article allows for earlier accrual of citations. Failing to account for this effect must necessarily give a biased result.
  6. The most rigorous study to date, conducted in the field of condensed matter physics, showed that after controlling for a clearly demonstrated Early View postulate, the remaining difference in citation counts between OA and non-OA articles is explained by the Selection Bias postulate. No evidence was found to support the OA postulate per se; i.e. article OA status alone has little or no effect on citations.
  7. As citation practices vary widely by discipline, further studies using a similarly rigorous approach are required to determine the generality of this finding in other fields of research. Such studies must account for the heterogeneous distribution of citations across any group of articles and establish the date of earliest availability of each article in the study, as citation accumulation is time sensitive.


  1. I'm not ready to evaluate this study.  But I'd point out that any attempt to identify the "most rigorous" studies to date would have to include Chawki Hajjem, Stevan Harnad, and Yves Gingras, Ten-Year Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How it Increases Research Citation Impact, IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin, December 2005, and Gunther Eysenbach, Citation Advantage of Open Access Articles, PLoS Biology, May 2006.  Their results confirm the OA impact advantage and disentangle it from other interpretations of the OA-citation correlation.  To decide for yourself, see Steve Hitchcock's comprehensive annotated bibliography of the studies.
  2. This excerpt from the study's conclusion shows a strained attempt to deny the role of OA in citation impact:

    Assuming that citation differences are due solely to the free availability of an article implies that many scholars working in a given discipline are currently totally unaware of important, relevant literature in their field and are unable to read and cite it. This further suggests that authors will limit their citations to those works that are readily available in favour of citations to works that are of the highest relevance. This view of citation behaviour dismisses any contributing role from long-established and robust means of scientific and scholarly communication – namely, all mechanisms of peer communication, the influence and availability of cited references, and the inherent value a given researcher will place on the content of a paper, independently of the mechanism by which it might have been retrieved.

    The authors bend over backwards to reject the more natural interpretation here:  that scholars fail to cite important, relevant literature when they don't know about it or can't access it.  It's just sloppy to say that this interpretation "dismisses any contributing role" of peer communication, existing citations, and the researcher's own estimation of a paper's quality and relevance.  All these factors undoubtedly play a part.  But after they've had their effect, we shouldn't be surprised to see that good relevant literature that is easier to find and retrieve is cited more often than good relevant literature that is harder to find and retrieve.  Or, if a careful study concluded that this view is false, then one might expect it to be more careful in summarizing the reasons why.

Disciplinary attitudes toward libraries affect the IR

Dorothea Salo, Disciplinary culture, libraries, and IRs, Caveat Lector, May 17, 2007.  Excerpt:

I cannot take entire credit for the insight in this post. It came out of a three-hour meeting today on the topic of research computing....

The natural constituency of institutional repositories as they are generally envisioned is the STM world —scientific, technical, medical. That’s where the serials crisis is most acute. That’s where funders are starting to mandate open access to research results and the underlying data used to generate them. That’s where the digital revolution in scholarly communication has made the most progress.

That’s also the group least invested in academic libraries, especially in their traditional image as The Book Barn....

[S]urveys have shown that because the access technology is the same —that is, the web browser— [these users] simply cannot distinguish between a resource on the free web and a resource that their libraries have paid dearly for....Books? They don’t use books. The OPAC? Is irrelevant to them, because they don’t use books. Reference service? They don’t use it much if at all, and (as a rule) they don’t send their students to it. Instruction? Typically has the least penetration into these disciplines....

These researchers do not see the library, do not go to the (physical) library, do not care about the library, do not think about the library. So insofar as institutional repositories are a library service (and as I have repeated ad infinitum, they are that nearly everywhere they exist, at least in the United States), they are just as invisible as every other library service....

The arts and humanities tell a different tale. The library is a major locus of arts and humanities research, with librarians a major part of the faculty’s working lives, both as scholars and as teachers.  This means in practice that librarians often play a key role in introducing arts and humanities faculty to technologies that can help them —...yes, [including] the institutional repository....

I need to think about this situation some more before I can formulate a coherent response to it. My first impression, though, is to follow an instinct I’ve had for a while and market to STM departments’ local IT staff, who are both less contemptuous of the library than those they serve and more likely to see the IR as a solution to genuine problems they have.

Digital humanities projects at the U of Illinois

University of Illinois Aims to Digitize the Humanities, a press release from the University of Illinois, May 18, 2007.  Excerpt:

The University of Illinois, home to one of the world's biggest libraries, the nation's top-ranked library and information school, a nascent Center for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, a supercomputing center and key scholars, is poised to become a leader in the effort to "digitize the humanities." ...

In the last year, John Unsworth, the dean of Illinois' Graduate School of Library and Information Science, has secured two major technology grants from the Mellon Foundation to lead multi-institutional projects in the digital humanities.  He also chaired the national commission that produced the recently released report, "Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences," on behalf of the American Council of Learned Societies....

In January...the Mellon Foundation announced that Illinois would receive a two-year $1 million grant for a text-mining collaboration called "Metadata Offer New Knowledge" (MONK)....MONK will create "an inclusive and comprehensive text-mining and text-analysis tool-kit of software for scholars in the humanities," Unsworth said....

In March, Michael Welge, of NCSA, won a $1.2 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, for an infrastructure project, with Unsworth serving as one of the co-principal investigators. SEASR, or Software Environment for the Advancement of Scholarly Research, begins in June.
According to the project's online report, SEASR seeks to deliver "a means of addressing the challenges of transforming information into knowledge by constructing the software bridges that are required to move from the unstructured and semi-structured data world to the structured data world." ...

Unsworth also is co-principal investigator, with the U. of I. Library's Beth Sandore, of a $2.6 million project, the ECHO DEPository, a digital preservation research and development project at Illinois in partnership with the Online Computer Library Center and funded by the Library of Congress....

At North Carolina State, Unsworth and some junior faculty colleagues wanted to start a journal on postmodernism, but the school couldn't cover the printing and mailing costs, "so the director of the library suggested that we visit the people in campus computing and explore a new software package called 'Listserv,' which is how we ended up publishing the first peer-reviewed electronic [and open access] journal in the humanities, by e-mail, three years before the advent of the Web." ...

Unsworth said that even at Illinois, one of the most wired and digitally active campuses in the world, "junior level faculty in the humanities who have interesting ideas and good skills for mounting digital humanities projects hold off until they are tenured."

"That's too bad -- and it should underline the need for department heads and senior faculty members to make digital humanities safe for junior faculty."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Transferring papers from HAL to PMC

The INIST Libre Accès blog reports that earlier this week HAL transferred a batch of papers to PubMed Central.  This was the first exercise of a transfer option negotiated by Inserm and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

Tom Cech on OA

Tom Cech, A Standard for Openness, HHMI Bulletin, May 2007.  Cech is the President of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  (Thanks to Mark Patterson.) 

On the HHMI data-sharing and OA policies, including HHMI's March agreement to pay Elsevier for deposits into PubMed Central.

I'd blog an excerpt but HHMI locked the PDF and turned off cutting and pasting. (Why?)  For my take on the HHMI-Elsevier agreement, see my article in the April SOAN.

Access to climate data from developing countries

Julian Hunt, Expand free journal project so poor countries can share their valuable climate data, Nature, May 17, 2007 (accessible only to subscribers).  A letter to the editor.  Hunt is a professor of Earth Sciences at University College London.  Excerpt:

I warmly approve your Editorial ‘Millennium development holes’ (Nature 446, 347; 2007) about the lack of weather data from Africa and other developing countries. A further problem is that when measurements have been taken they are often not disseminated to interested organizations within their own country, let alone beyond it.

Both aspects became very apparent at the second international conference on coastal zones in sub-Saharan Africa held in Ghana in 2005 (see [here]). Excellent data taken by Ghana’s meteorological service along the coast, showing steadily rising temperatures and declin[in]g rainfall over 20 years, are not widely known even at the African Centre of Meteorological Application for Development at Niamey in Niger. I found a similar situation in the West Indies....

There is currently no financial or other incentive to share these data. African colleagues complain that, even if they send the data to international centres, they cannot benefit, as they do not receive current issues of the journals and bulletins where the results are published.

One way forward, which I have been pursuing by lobbying UK ministers and others, is to ensure that the latest publications of such literature are sent, at no cost, to the regional and national meteorological services that are providing data in developing countries. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation is already providing current literature to some agricultural centres in the world’s poorest countries, through its AGORA programme. The OARE programme, launched last November, has similar arrangements for the environmental-science literature, including weather and climate journals — and more countries are being included in the programme next year....

The media organizations that focus on ghoulish pictures of climatic devastation around the world might also contribute.

Comment.  Yes, AGORA and OARE could help.  But they only provide free or discounted online access to subscription journals within developing countries.  To make climate data available to all climate researchers, including developing countries "too rich" for AGORA and OARE, like India, and to distribute datasets that are not published along with the articles analyzing them, we need straight OA.


A Blogger bug has made the three most recent weeks of the OAN archive disappear.  I hope the problem is temporary.

If you look at the list of archive files in the sidebar, you'll see that it stops at April 21.  I've blogged every day since April 21, but Blogger is not listing the newer archive files.

This is a good place to stop reading unless you're a Blogger wizard and want to help.  I don't want to bother anyone else.

I re-published the whole archive, but that didn't solve the problem.

With an FTP app I found that the three unlisted files were all on the right server in the right directory. Hence, the problem seems to be with Blogger's ability to find and list them. For a moment I thought that Blogger might have a limited data structure for holding the list of archive files and that I hit the limit a few weeks ago. But this seems unlikely, since Blogger still lists 267 of my archive files, a very "unround" number. This theory would make more sense if the list stopped at a number like 256.

In any case, the unlisted files were listed as recently as two days ago, when I used them for some research.  It appears that Blogger had the ability to find and list 270 files but somehow hiccupped and lost it.

I've posted the problem to the Blogger Help Group and hope for the best.  But in the past, the group has not proved to be very helpful.  Hence I post the problem here.  I'd appreciate any tips or ideas.

OA meeting in the Philippines

Mila Ramos has blogged some notes on yesterday's meeting on open access in Los Baños, Laguna, in the Philippines, sponsored by ACE Philippines (Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Life and Human Sciences) and IRRI Philippines (International Rice Research Institute).  I can't find a URL for the meeting itself.

The blog for the Southern Tagalog Region Librarians Council of the Philippines Librarians Association has posted the slide presentation by Fides Lawton, Promoting research and scholarship through open access and e-publishing.

More on redirecting subscription funds toward OA

Dorothea Salo, Paying for OA, Caveat Lector, May 16, 2007.  Excerpt:

Arthur Sale nails it again:

[The institution] recognizes that author-side fees are now a significant requirement, and moves to re-align its ‘acquisitions budget’ to become a ‘research journal budget’. A fraction of the journals budget is reserved for supporting alternative funding models, and the institution commits to monitoring and adapting its expenditure to match the change in the industry and the activity of its authors.

Yes. This needs to happen. It will not, however, be an easy sell —serials librarians and collection developers are going to scream bloody murder. If budget reallocation to support of open access is to happen in spite of the screaming, library top brass must back it.

I’ve said before that academic librarians are sadly ignorant about open access; our discipline’s research literature lags well behind others in progress toward OA. Sale’s eminently sensible and logical proposal is unfortunately liable to run aground on that very same ignorance, that very same apathy.

“What about print?” many of them are going to say...

“Bah, that OA stuff —it’s all vanity-published trash,” some of them will say....

“We can’t trust that digital stuff; nobody’s preserving it,” some of them are (still!) going to say....

“Open access isn’t something we can control; it’s all in faculty hands,” still others will say....

And finally, there’s the ever-popular, “You’re destroying my budget!” When I say “scream bloody murder,” this is what I mean. Serials librarians and collection developers are not going to welcome anything that makes them cut more subscriptions. They aren’t thinking ten, twenty, or fifty years in the future. They’re thinking about the angry faculty they’ll see next week....

[F]aculty are hazy on where their journals come from to begin with. They don’t know enough about scholarly publishing to think about coming to libraries for OA author-fee money. Even if a few of them do, they won’t be talking to librarians like me who can and will advocate for them—they’ll be talking to liaisons and collection developers, who are (I say again) clueless about OA when they’re not active doubters. [And] per Vivian Siegel, how many faculty are even aware of a journal’s OA status when they publish in it? How many libraries that set up such a fund are going to be besieged by faculty wanting to pay page charges in toll-access journals? ...

How do we cure academic-librarian ignorance of OA? I wish I knew, and I’m open to suggestions. It might help if OA advocates reminded themselves daily that librarians and libraries exist. A mantra, of sorts: Libraries exist; libraries matter; OA would not exist without libraries....

Limited knowledge of OA resources in Africa

Helen Smith and eight co-authors, Access to electronic health knowledge in five countries in Africa: a descriptive study, BMC Health Services Research, May 17, 2007.  Provisional abstract:

Background.  Access to medical literature in developing countries is helped by open access publishing and initiatives to allow free access to subscription only journals. The effectiveness of these initiatives in Africa has not been assessed. This study describes awareness, reported use and factors influencing use of on-line medical literature via free access initiatives.

Methods.  Descriptive study in four teaching hospitals in Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda plus one externally funded research institution in The Gambia. Survey with postgraduate doctors and research scientists to determine Internet access patterns, reported awareness of on-line medical information and free access initiatives; semi structured interviews with a sub-sample of survey participants to explore factors influencing use.

Results.  In the four African teaching hospitals, 70% of the 305 postgraduate doctors reported textbooks as their main source of information; 66% had used the Internet for health information in the last week. In two hospitals, Internet cafes were the main Internet access point. For researchers at the externally-funded research institution, electronic resources were their main source, and almost all had used the Internet in the last week. Across all 333 respondents, 90% had heard of PubMed, 78% of BMJ on line, 49% the Cochrane Library, 47% HINARI, and 19% BioMedCentral. HINARI use correlates with accessing the Internet on computers located in institutions. Qualitative data suggested there are difficulties logging into HINARI and that sometimes it is librarians that limit access to passwords.

Conclusions.  Text books remain an important resource for postgraduate doctors in training. Internet use is common, but awareness of free-access initiatives is limited. HINARI and other initiatives could be more effective with strong institutional endorsement and management to promote and ensure access.

Update. From the summary in Research Information:

Medical researchers and doctors in training regularly use online journals, even if they have to do so from their local internet cafe, according to new research published in BMC Health Services Research....

Users also reported problems with getting passwords from their librarians in order to use HINARI and other password-controlled services. The use of PubMed without a password was popular.

The authors...added that power interruptions and inadequate computing facilities continue to limit online journals’ use in Africa and awareness of free access to journals remains variable.

Self-archiving when a publisher's policy is unknown

Jim Till, Niche journals and self-archiving, Be openly accessible or be obscure, May 17, 2007.  Excerpt:

Browsing through the SHERPA/RoMEO database of publishers’ self-archiving policies can yield some interesting information. I was looking for niche journals that are intended for members of particular disciplines in a specific geographic area (in my case, Canada)....

In 2005, the quarterly journal Healthcare Policy was launched by "Longwoods Publishing,..."

When I looked for this journal in the SHERPA/RoMEO database, neither the journal title, nor the publisher, were listed....

For example, for the first 50 journal titles that contain the word “Canadian”, I found information about self-archiving policies for only five....Thus, information about self-archiving policies is currently available in the database for only about 10% of these Canadian journals.

Similarly, of 28 journal titles that contain the word “Canada”, I found information about self-archiving policies for only one....

Is this lack of information a result, at least in part, of the SHERPA/RoMEO database currently being incomplete? Probably, yes. And, efforts to improve the database are under way. See, for example, Copyright Knowledge Bank - Database....

However, the main reason for the lack of information about self-archiving policies for these Canada-oriented journals is probably because they do not yet have such policies. How best to deal with this issue, from the perspective of authors/researchers/scholars? ...

One response is to make an effort to retain copyright on an individual, article-by-article, basis. An addendum can be added to the conventional copyright agreement....

But, what to do if the publisher refuses to accept such an addendum? An alternative approach is one that’s been advocated vigorously by Stevan Harnad: ID/OA (Immediate-Deposit, Optional-Access), paired with a “Fair Use” Button. See, for example, Blackwell Instructions for self-archiving manuscripts, by Stevan Harnad, 17 April 2007....

New author addenda options and tools from SPARC and Science Commons

SPARC and Science Commons have announced a consolidation and enhancement of their author addenda.  From the announcement

Today, Science Commons and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) announce the release of new online tools to help authors exercise choice in retaining critical rights in their scholarly articles, including the rights to reuse their scholarly articles and to post them in online repositories. 

The new tools include the Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine, an online tool created by Science Commons to simplify the process of choosing and implementing an addendum to retain scholarly rights. By selecting from among four addenda offered, any author can fill in a form to generate and print a completed amendment that can be attached to a publisher's copyright assignment agreement to retain critical rights to reuse and offer their works online.

The Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine will be offered through the Science Commons, SPARC, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Carnegie Mellon University Web sites, and it will be freely available to other institutions that wish to host it.  It may be accessed [here]....

Also available for the first time is a new addendum from Science Commons and SPARC, named "Access-Reuse," that represents a collaboration to simplify choices for scholars by combining two existing addenda, the SPARC Author Addendum and the Science Commons Open Access-Creative Commons Addendum. This new addendum will ensure that authors not only retain the rights to reuse their own work and post them on online depositories, but also to grant a non-exclusive license, such as the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial license, to the public to reuse and distribute the work. In addition, Science Commons will be offering two other addenda, called "Immediate Access" and "Delayed Access", representing alternative arrangements that authors can choose.

"The Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine will enable authors to maximize the reach of their work," said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC. "It's a significant leap forward in making it easier for authors to effectively manage their publication rights."

In addition, MIT has contributed to this effort by including its MIT Copyright Agreement Amendment in the choices available through the Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine.  The MIT Copyright Amendment has been available since the spring of 2006 and allows authors to retain specific rights to deposit articles in MIT Libraries' DSpace repository, and to deposit any NIH-funded manuscripts on the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central database. 

"The cumulative nature of scientific discovery makes it imperative that unnecessary barriers to the timely sharing of results of research should be eliminated wherever possible," said Ann Wolpert, Director of Libraries for MIT. "The MIT Libraries applauds Science Commons for its development of tools such as the Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine, which enables authors of scholarly articles to ensure that they can later reuse their works and make them widely accessible to other researchers and the public...."

SPARC offers a suite of materials...that introduce the topic of author rights on campuses and complement the new SPARC-Science Commons "Access-Reuse" addendum....

"This is about authors' rights," said John Wilbanks, Vice President of Science Commons - a project of Creative Commons. "Right now, authors trade the most important rights - like the right to make copies of their own scholarly works - to traditional publishers. That trade has led to an imbalanced world of restricted access to knowledge, skyrocketing journal prices, and an inability to apply new technologies to the scholarly canon of knowledge. Our Scholar's Copyright project addresses this imbalance. Working with libraries and universities, we are providing the Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine so that scholars can retain rights to make copies of their own writings available on the Web."

Comment.  There are several welcome developments wrapped up together here.  Author addenda can be customized for individual articles; a customized addendum can be generated automatically; new addenda options are now available; and formerly separate addenda are consolidating, simplifying the process for authors.

Update. Science Commons has posted instructions for other sites wishing to host the Addendum Engine.

John Woods on JISC on OA

Judy Redfearn, Facing the data deluge, JISC Inform, Spring 2007.  An interview with John Wood, chair of JISC's Support of Research Committee and the JISC Scholarly Communications Group.  The interview is also available as a podcast.  Excerpt:

...The JISC Scholarly Communications Group, which Professor Wood also chairs, is working to make data more readily available through online publications. It is also investigating alternative models of publishing which would enable readers to access research results free of charge, known as Open Access publishing. ‘The future challenges for the group are linking data to publications and what form of Open Access do we want. The work that is going on between JISC, the Research Councils and others to review the impact of different Open Access models is very, very valuable,’ he says....

JISC support for institutional repositories

Tracey Caldwell, Reaping the Rewards, JISC Inform, Spring 2007.  Excerpt:

JISC is supporting institutions as they establish and develop digital repositories to host a wide range of online content....

The UK is raising its research profile as universities increasingly showcase their research content in digital repositories.

A third of universities now have repositories at some stage of development. They are looking to reap the return on their investment in a number of ways, including improving research efficiency, raising institutional profile and easier recruitment of top class academics.

JISC has stepped in to maintain the momentum of repository development, supporting a number of projects aimed at underpinning repository development in large institutions and kickstarting development in small or specialist institutions.

Within the JISC Repositories and Preservation programme there are a number of strands of funding, including the Start-up and enhancement strand, which is providing £4 million of development funding, matched by investment from institutions themselves. Alongside this JISC has set up the Repositories Support project, a two and a half year project funded to the tune of over £1.3 million from HEFCE and HEFCW to support repository development in England and Wales.... 

[Amber Thomas, programme manager for Start-up and Enhancement] adds, ‘The benefits to universities include a greater visibility to business and improved knowledge transfer, allowing universities to justify their place in society by making their output more visible. Also they gain increased standing in the research community through greater visibility for their research and their researchers.’ ...

Bill Hubbard, [Repositories Support Project ] project manager, says: ‘For existing institutions with repositories we are trying to give them what they need to help them to grow the repository: standards for interoperability, providing advocacy material, briefing papers targeted for different audiences from senior managers to academics.’ ...

Non-OA journals should consider green before gold OA

Stevan Harnad, Should a Viable Journal Convert to Green or to Gold Today?  Open Access Archivangelism, May 16, 2007. 

Summary:  Replies to (anonymized) queries about whether journals should convert to Green or Gold today:
(1) Going Green means endorsing immediate (unembargoed) self-archiving by authors.
(2) Going Gold means either:
(2a) making the entire online edition free for all and continuing to sell the hard copy edition by subscription, as now, or
(2b) charging an extra fee per article to author-institutions for making their individual article free online on their behalf, on the publisher's website (optional Gold "Open Choice"), or
(2c) abandoning the subscription model and the hard copy edition entirely, and charging the author-institutions for publishing in the online (and only) edition.
   Going Green carries some risk to subscriptions, but that is unlikely to be significant till after 100% Green self-archiving is being reliably practised by all authors for all journals. Going Gold via (2a) would be far riskier, needlessly, because Green OA grows anarchically, article by article, whereas Gold OA is total and immediate for the journal. Going optional Gold via (2b) would essentially be to levy a gratuitous extra author charge for self-archiving; while continuing to sell the hard copy edition for subscriptions this would be a highly retrogressive step -- indeed, a Trojan Horse -- except if it was also coupled with going Green (1), in which case it would be fine). And (2c) would be needlessly to jettison the hard copy edition and subscription revenue pre-emptively, for no particular reason.
    Journals wishing to do something to help Open Access (OA) should go Green and then wait to see what happens. Green might eventually propel all journals to (2c). (Going Green (1) and hybrid Gold, (2b), is also a reasonable option, though there will not be many takers for optional Gold, with or without mandates, unless the asking price is negligibly low.)

Another society journal converts to OA and includes its 160-year backfile

The entire run of the Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland, 1847-2007 is now digital and OA in the institutional repository of Trinity College Dublin.  The journal is still alive and kicking, and new issues will also be OA through the IR.  Hence, this is not just a digitization project but also a journal conversion.  (Thanks to the Trinity College Digital Services' Librarian blog.)

For more details, Trinity College recorded yesterday's symposium celebrating the completion of the project and has now made it available in a two-part podcast (one and two).

PS:  Kudos to project manager Niamh Brennan and all the back-up provided by the Trinity College library, and kudos to the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland for its consent and cooperation. 

New networking site and repository

Pronetos ("Professor's Network") is a new academic networking site and repository.  It hasn't quite launched yet, but it's online and its blog will keep you up to date on its progress.  From the site:

Pronetos will soon become the premier gathering place for scholars to collaborate, network, and publish their ideas.
We provide an intuitively designed, real-time, web based community platform that facilitates mass collaboration and democratizes content for global distribution among academics with the ability to archive and search that content. With Pronetos, ideas are shared at the speed of thought, and those who create them control them.

Pronetos is home to communities of every academic discipline – a global think-tank of the leaders in your field. We’re making it easy for you to stay connected to your colleagues, wherever they may be. Pronetos is a place for you to network, and build and share ideas with the greatest minds in your field.

What can you do with Pronetos? Publish your life’s work. Share an idea with colleagues, and get real time feedback. Post messages. Start a blog. Upload podcasts of your lectures. Post your curriculum materials. Use Pronetos as a repository for papers in your field – they’ll be indexed, searchable, publicly available and secure. You create, edit, and moderate the community and the content and we provide the technology – free. This site is by scholars, of scholars, and for scholars....

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

U of Lausanne joins Google Library project

Switzerland's University of Lausanne has joined the Google Library Project, making it Google's 15th library partner and the fourth from a non-English speaking country.

From yesterday's announcement on the Google Book Search blog:

Today the Library of the University of Lausanne announced it is the latest partner to join the Google Book Search Library Project. This is great news for the preservation of Swiss cultural heritage and for Francophones like myself, who are thrilled about the addition of even more public domain French books to the index....

During the last century, the University of Lausanne has been one of the pioneers in library automation in Switzerland as well as the rest of Europe. In fact, the idea of opening up the library's collections to the world (thousands of books in the public domain) has been entertained for many years by the director and his staff. Today, in 2007, through a shared vision with the government of the Canton de Vaud (who supports this major cultural initiative) and a broad partnership with Google, this dream becomes a reality....

The OA mandate at the British Heart Foundation

The British Heart Foundation has released its OA policy.

Like the UK Department of Health (DH), whose OA policy I just blogged two days ago, the BHF pledged to adopt an OA mandate back in January 2007, at the launch of UK PubMed Central (UKPMC).  (Both are members of the UKPMC Funders Group and all members of the Funders Group pledged or adopted OA mandates.)  But it took some time to deliberate and then released its policy without fanfare.  I just discovered it.  Excerpt:

  1. BHF, as a member of the consortium of major UK biomedical and health research funders, contributes to the funding of UK PubMed Central (UKPMC), with the intention of ensuring that the complete versions of publications derived from their funded research are available freely....
  2. As from 8 January 2007 the BHF requires that a copy of the final version of each peer-reviewed research paper accepted for publication, supported in whole or in part by BHF funding, shall be deposited in UKPMC, to be made freely available within 6 months of publication.
  3. An increasing number of journals will deposit the article on behalf of the authors directly into UKPMC to be available on publication or after an embargo period (or into US PubMed Central, from where they are mirrored to UKPMC). In other cases, journals will not deposit the article but will allow the authors to deposit a copy....
  4. All BHF grant holders submitting manuscripts to journals should find out in advance whether the publisher supports open access and that they can comply with paragraph [2] above. 
  5. If extra publication costs are required for open access in UKPMC, BHF will reimburse valid fees on receipt of a copy of the paper and the fee invoice. Where multiple funders are acknowledged BHF will pay a proportion.
  6. If a researcher wishes to publish a paper in a journal that will not allow deposition in UKPMC and open access within 6 months of publication, a case must be made in advance to BHF, which will grant the request only in exceptional circumstances.  
  7. Useful information on which publishers are compliant with the BHF policy (in most cases, those listed as Wellcome Trust compliant are also BHF compliant) can be found on the SHERPA/RoMEO website.... 
  8. For more general information about open access publication, the Wellcome Trust has a well-developed website to guide authors....
  9. This policy document will be updated to include a list of the journals most frequently used by BHF funded researchers and their compliance with our policy. Further updates will follow as needed on BHF's website. Specific queries can be emailed to [this] address....

PS:  Kudos to all involved at the BHF.

Another society journal converts to OA

The American Society of Papyrologists has converted the Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists to OA.

Tom Elliott points out a snag:

I was filled with glee when I saw...that the Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists is now “online open access.” ...

I salute the appearance of this resource; however, I’m troubled by the absence of a license statement. What am I allowed to do with these documents? Can I copy them to give to students? Can I put them into my institution’s digital repository? ...

(Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

PS:  I share Elliott's glee and questions.  However, the problem is easy to fix.  At least one flavor of CC license should fit BASP's purposes, and all the CC licenses are human-readable, lawyer-readable, machine-readable, and free of charge.

CERN's final report on converting particle physics journals to OA

The SCOAP3 Working Party, Towards Open Access Publishing in High Energy Physics Report of the SCOAP3 Working Party, CERN, April 19, 2007 (but released today).  (Thanks to Jens Vigen.)

High Energy Physics (HEP) pioneered OA through “repositories” containing collections of “pre-prints” freely accessible on the Internet. Today about 90% of HEP pre-prints are available in repositories. Thanks to the speed with which they make results available, repositories have become the lifeblood of HEP scientific information exchange. However, repositories do not perform peer review and may contain only the original versions of articles submitted to journals, and not necessarily the final, peer-reviewed, published versions.

Notwithstanding the success of repositories, there is consensus in the scientific community about the need for high-quality journals....

The price of an electronic journal is mainly driven by the costs of running the peer-review system and editorial processing. Most publishers quote a price in the range of 1’000–2’000 Euros per published article. On this basis we estimate that the annual budget for the transition of HEP publishing to OA would amount to a maximum of 10 Million Euros per year. In comparison, the annual list-price of a single “core” HEP journal today can be as high as 10’000 Euros; for 500 institutes worldwide actively involved in HEP, this represents an annual expenditure of 5 Million Euros.

The proposed initiative aims to convert high-quality HEP journals to OA, pursuing two goals:

  • to provide open and unrestricted access to all HEP research literature in its final, peer-reviewed form;
  • to contain the overall cost of journal publishing by increasing competition while assuring sustainability.

In the present proposal, the publishers’ subscription income from multiple institutions is replaced by income from a single financial partner, the “Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics” (SCOAP3). SCOAP3 is a global network of funding agencies, research laboratories, and libraries. Each SCOAP3 partner will recover its contribution from the cancellation of its current journal subscriptions. This model avoids the obvious disadvantage of OA models in which authors are directly charged for the OA publication of their articles....

In practice, the OA transition will be facilitated by the fact that the large majority of HEP articles are published in just six peer-reviewed journals from four publishers. Five of those six journals carry a majority of HEP content....

HEP has a natural overlap with related fields such as, but not limited to, astroparticle physics and nuclear physics. The five “core” journals include between 10% and 30% of articles in these disciplines, which will be naturally and logically included in the OA transition. This is in the interest of the readership and promotes the long-term goal of an extension of the SCOAP3 model to these related disciplines....

Of course, the SCOAP3 model is open to any other, present or future, high-quality journals carrying HEP content....

The annual budget for the SCOAP3 operation will be established through a tendering procedure. The tender and the subsequent contracts with publishers will address the use of OA articles, the conditions for un-bundling OA journals from existing subscription packages, and the reduction of subscription prices for “broadband” journals following the conversion of a fraction of articles to OA.

Provided that the SCOAP3 funding partners are ready to engage in long-term commitments, many publishers are expected to be ready to enter into negotiations along the lines proposed here. The SCOAP3 model could be implemented during 2007. Once leading funding agencies will pledge funds for the financial backing of the consortium, the tendering procedure could take place during summer and the exact budget envelope could be known by autumn. A Memorandum of Understanding for the governance of SCOAP3 and the cost sharing could then be signed by the funding agencies; this will be followed by the establishment of contracts with publishers. OA publishing in HEP could then become reality as of the beginning of 2008....

Comment.  It's very exciting to see this ambitious project move from the drawing board to the streets.  I repeat my assessment from last December:

We're watching a massive transition to OA in process.  This is not only the first project to convert all the TA journals in a field to OA; it's also succeeding.  It's succeeding in pulling together the needed stakeholders and it's succeeding in raising the money.  It's also succeeding in showing that the final result will cost the stakeholders less than the current system. 

OA advocates have always argued that funding OA doesn't require new money, just a redirection of the money now spent on subscriptions....What's most significant about the CERN project is that it's a large-scale, discipline-wide, stakeholder-united redirection project.... 

Finally, CERN is on track to accomplish this feat with fusion, not fission --or with cooperation and comity all around rather than antagonism and division....

Proposing an OA journal for natural language processing

Hal Daume III, Whence JCLR?, Natural Language Processing Blog, May 15, 2007.  Excerpt:

Journal publication is not too popular for NLPers -- we tend to be a conference driven bunch. While I could care less about some arguments for journals....I do feel that they serve a purpose beyond simply acting as an archive....In particular, a journal paper is often a place where you get to really set the stage for your problem, describe your algorithms so that they're actually reimplementable, and go in to serious error analysis....

One significant problem is that we're currently really limited in our choice of publication venues....[There are few journals in the field, they don't come out often enough, they have slow turn-around, and they're not OA.]...I hate pay-for-access journals almost as much as I had pay-for-access conference proceedings....

Things were similar in machine learning land about six years ago (though in fact I think they were worse). The big journal there was Machine Learning (published by Springer). They had roughly the same problems, to the extent that a large fraction of the editorial board resigned to found the Journal of Machine Learning Research (JMLR). JMLR has since become very successful, publishes dozens of papers per year, and has incredibly quick turnaround (I have seen a journal version of a NIPS paper appear in JMLR before NIPS even happens). The creation of JMLR was greatly assisted by the SPARC group, which helps fledgling journal get off the ground.

I would love to see a similar thing happen in the NLP community....

In particular, aside from fast turnaround and online pubs, some things that I would love to see happen with such a journal are: Strongly encouraged sharing of code/data (if one could build in some sort of copyright protection for private data, this would be even better since it would let more people share); and a built-in board for paper discussion (probably with membership); ability for authors to easily submit addenda.

A while back I went through the SPARC suggestions of how to begin such a thing and it's very non-trivial. But it's doable. And I'd be willing to help. The biggest thing that would be required would be a bunch of people with white hair who are willing to commit body-and-soul to such a move.

Also see this response from Fernando Pereira:

Hal advocates an open-access "Journal of Computational Linguistics Research" (JCLR) on the model of JMLR. I'm with him all the way, until his final sentence....

Many of those of us with white (or missing) hair are already up to our necks (or worse) in administration....But the current ACL leadership is already spending a lot of time managing publication in conferences and one journal. Except that this effort is mostly wasted in obsolete publication methods instead of leading the move to open access and fast turn-around, quality reviewing. When I had some executive power at ACL, many years ago, before there was a web, I was one of the movers with Stuart Shieber in getting rid a the restrictive copyright assignment for conference and journal publications. What is are current ACL executives doing?

Update. I won't be able to post on each follow-up, but here's one more from Fernando Pereira.

OA articles for journal clubs and class discussions

Jonathan Eisen, Another education use of Open Access publications, Tree of Life, May 15, 2007.  Excerpt:

I was reminded of another important use of Open Access publications last week when I gave a talk at Chico State University....[A]fter my talk we went to a local pub with some faculty and students. I had opened up my talk discussing the benefits of Open Access publication and how it was just as important as databases like Genbank (In fact, I think it is a good idea to discuss the importance of OA in scientific presentations in general - spreading the word). And much of our conversation at the pub centered on Open Access.

The most interesting thing I found out was that for one of the journal club/discussion courses that they have there, they only use papers from OA journals like PLoS journals. There were two major reasons for this. (1) As a woefully underfunded university..., they do not have funds for their libraries to subscribe to a diversity of journals and (2) using OA publications means they can post all the publications or links to them on a web site for students and do not have to make them closed access / password protected to prevent illicit sharing of non Open publications.

So - another benefit of Open Access publishing. Easing access even [for] major universities in the US, and making it easier to use research papers as part of course readers and course web sites.

May/June D-Lib

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

  • Arthur Sale, A Challenge for the Library Acquisition Budget. No abstract. Excerpt: The challenge is therefore to rethink how the library 'acquisitions budget' should be expended in the present situation where 10% of journals don't charge subscription fees or in the future, when possibly 100% of journals are not subscription-based. The usual predictions are for an increasing fraction of OA journals, some or many of which want author-side fees. This may be coupled with increasing use of optional-OA (open choice) provisions. While optional-OA provisions may be highly priced at present, I believe that competition and new entrants to the publishing industry should drive the price down....One possible strategy is to do nothing. This is what most institutions are now doing. However, a 10% signal cannot be construed as being a minor issue that should be ignored. The conservative approach amounts to discrimination by the institution in favor of the subscription model and its escalating prices from decreasing subscribers....The second strategy is to...invert a popular slogan: 'Think locally, act globally'. Institutions with this mindset will keep their acquisitions budget for subscriptions, but will lobby for an increasing number of self-archived articles....The problem is evident, but the institution won't do anything itself yet....In the third strategy, the institution takes a transitional response. It recognizes that author-side fees are now a significant requirement, and moves to re-align its 'acquisitions budget' to become a 'research journal budget'. A fraction of the journals budget is reserved for supporting alternative funding models, and the institution commits to monitoring and adapting its expenditure to match the change in the industry and the activity of its authors. ...

  • Steve Hitchcock and three co-authors, Digital Preservation Service Provider Models for Institutional Repositories:  Towards Distributed Services.  Abstract:   Digital preservation can encompass a range of activities, from simple replication and storage to more complex transformation, depending on the assessed value and risk to the target content. These activities require planning and, in most cases, begin with a need to know the technical format of the target content. In this case, the target is the content deposited in institutional repositories (IRs). The Preserv project set out to investigate the use of The National Archives' (TNA) PRONOM-DROID service (PRONOM is the online registry of technical information; DROID is the downloadable file format identification tool) for file format identification on two pilot IRs using EPrints software, and instead produced format profiles (Preserv profiles) of over 200 repositories presented via the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR). Thus a primary element of preservation planning has been shown to be possible based on a standard Web interface (OAI) and no formal arrangement between repository and provider. The implications of this go beyond the numbers towards a reconceptualisation of repository preservation service provider models. Repositories and providers can shape preservation services at different cost levels that could range from comprehensive 'black-box' preservation to pick-and-mix lightweight Web-based services that build on the common starting point, format identification. This article describes the evolution of a series of models that have informed progress towards this conception of flexible and distributed preservation services for IRs.

  • Margaret Henty, Ten Major Issues in Providing a Repository Service in Australian Universities.  No abstract.  From the introduction:  By mid 2006, all Australian universities had established, or were partway to establishing, institutional repository services. The development of institutional repository services can often be related to the open access movement....However, many universities have extended the functionality of their repository services for other purposes....The potential for development seems endless.  At the same time...[t]he importance of what is generally called "eResearch" on the national agenda shows the need for improved data management and sustainability practices to support research over the longer term. This raises questions of the relationship between the repository and eResearch and provides challenges to repository managers to broaden their thinking still further to help meet these needs....The purpose of this article is to identify the major issues that interviewees thought would be most significant for their repository services in the next five to ten years....
         --Update. Henty has posted some extra interview comments that didn't fit into the published article.

  • Ana Alice Baptista and Miguel Ferreira, Tea for Two: Bringing Informal Communication to Repositories.  Abstract:   Although informal communication has always been a part of scholarly communication, its value as an important means for sharing perceptions and knowledge has not always been recognized or properly put to good use. Three add-ons for the DSpace platform have been developed under the "DSpace Dev@University of Minho" project. The next natural step is to further develop and integrate the features of these add-ons into a new cross-repository service that allows knowledge to be transferred across communities in a broader and improved way and to provide better means to access comprehensive information about communication relationships between scholarly entities. Some of the changes that will have to be made to the current features of these add-ons in order to implement such a system have been identified and described in this article. We also present the rationale that supports the vision of a system that accommodates the add-ons developed. Such a system will provide an informal communication layer at the top of the existing network of repositories directly connected to the formal one. In addition, some changes are proposed to the way the Web of Communication is calculated and depicted in order to provide more qualitative information about the communication relationships between scholars.

  • Christopher Leonard, BioMed Central expands with PhysMath Central.  No abstract.  Excerpt:  BioMed Central is expanding the range of open access research it publishes with its new venture, PhysMath Central. The independent publishing platform, based on the successful open access model pioneered by BioMed Central, will publish original peer-reviewed research in physics and mathematics and is now accepting submissions for its first series of journals....In November 2006, French Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN), the world's largest particle physics laboratory, mandated open access for all work carried out using its own funds. Additionally, CERN set up an international consortium to pay for open access fees for research to be published. In keeping with this trend, BioMed Central, aware of a much greater appetite for open access in specialties other than just particle physics, launched PhysMath Central's journals, aiming to satisfy the need for open access in all areas of physics, mathematics and computer science.....PhysMath Central provides a two-way integration with arXiv allowing authors to submit from arXiv but also to deposit their PhysMath Central paper into arXiv as part of a single submission process....Finally, PhysMath Central has issued a call to action for scientists, making available BioMed Central's publishing capabilities and editorial expertise to start and manage their own independent open access journals using PhysMath Central's platform....

New OA journal of information literacy

The Journal of Information Literacy is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Loughborough University Library and sponsored by the CILIP CSG Information Literacy Group.  The inaugural issue is now online.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Research subjects gain access to research results

Colin Nickerson, Gene advances bring ethical quandaries, Boston Globe, May 11, 2007.  (Thanks to FasterCures' SmartBrief.)  Excerpt:

A revolution in genetics is leading to almost weekly discoveries about genes linked with diseases such as diabetes, but also creating a dilemma for medical scientists: Should they tell the patients whose DNA was used in the research that they may be at risk for a serious illness? At present, that's almost taboo because of privacy policies governing most medical research.

"Researchers are coming up with more and more information, but we're using 'privacy' and our own ingrained paternalism as excuses for not sharing information that could be important to [individual research] subjects," said Dr. Isaac S. Kohane, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a researcher at Children's Hospital in Boston.

Now, in a break with research tradition, Children's is creating a pilot program that will enable families whose children provide DNA for broad medical research to receive individually tailored information on the findings. The Harvard-affiliated hospital plans to use computer technology and counselors to allow families access to research while still guarding their privacy, as required by law and research ethics....

Comment.  This is an elegant twofer:  a win for access and a defeat for a one kind of medical paternalism (withholding information from patients for their own good).

Another call for OA to CRS Reports

Leslie Harris and Matt Stoller, Inexplicable anomaly, The Hill, May 15, 2007.  (Thanks to Free Government Information.)  Excerpt:

One special talent of Congress is to sternly slam the barn door closed after the animals have already wandered off. We can see this in the debate over whether to “open up” Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports to the public when there are already fee-based services selling the reports, and free but incomplete collections at various websites.
Frankly, it’s difficult to believe that Congress thinks it can control whether CRS reports are made available to the public over the Internet. A decade ago, CRS was among a dwindling handful of government entities that had yet to embrace the democratizing power of the Web. Now, in 2007, CRS’s practices are an inexplicable anomaly that grows more glaring with each passing year.

At a cost of $100 million a year, CRS generates some of the most informative research available on the key policy issues facing lawmakers....But while those reports play a pivotal role in the policymaking process, they have never been made systematically available to taxpayers.

Not surprisingly, many business models have cropped up in recent years to fill the vacuum left by Congress. Companies like Penny Hill Press and LexisNexis manage to obtain the reports and provide copies for a fee. As a result, well-heeled lobbyists can search CRS reports readily, while ordinary Americans cannot.

To fix this inequity, all Congress has to do is update an archaic policy that never made much sense, and now seems even sillier. CRS already maintains a website that provides lawmakers a fully searchable database of non-confidential CRS reports. Making that service available to the public would be simple and inexpensive.

The objections offered by defenders of the CRS status quo aren’t convincing. Years ago, the principal objection to making CRS reports available to the public had to do with the expense of publishing the reports. The Internet has rendered that argument moot.

The other objection comes from lawmakers who complain that making CRS reports available to the public could change the way they use the service. What undercuts this argument is that CRS reports are already widely available through commercial channels....

PS:  Hear, hear!

Brewster Kahle and Michael Hart on NPR

Libraries Enter the Digital Age, a radio discussion with Brewster Kahle and Michael Hart first broadcast on NPR's Talk of the Nation on May 11, and now available as a webcast.  (Thanks to digitizationblog.)

WHO head calls for better access to medical knowledge

Outgoing chair of UN-backed health assembly urges rapid knowledge-sharing on diseases, UN News Centre, May 14, 2007.  Excerpt:

The head of the decision-making body of the United Nations World Health Organization today stressed the importance of rapid, world-wide sharing of knowledge on diseases, as he opened the annual policy meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

“In a globalized world, health issues present new challenges that go far beyond national borders and have an impact on the collective security of people around the world,” Paulo Ivo Garrido, Minister of Health of the Republic of Mozambique and the President of the 59th World Health Assembly told the Assembly....

“To handle new and emerging diseases, the most important issues are how to get the relevant information to the most peripheral level of health workers and how to increase access to knowledge regarding the preventive and control measures for populations at large,” Mr. Garrido told the Assembly....

JAS adopts hybrid model, with editor dissenting

In March, the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) converted the Journal of Animal Science (JAS) to a hybrid OA journal.  In the March issue of the ASAS Newsletter, Larry Reynolds, editor of JAS, explains why ASAS made this decision and why he is not happy about it.  Excerpt:

...[T]he ASAS Board recently approved a policy for the Journal of Animal Science (JAS) to give authors the option of releasing their accepted manuscript for “open access” (OA) as soon as it is published. This option will cost $1,750 for members and $2,000 for nonmembers and will be in lieu of page charges....

The JAS is not an OA publisher because for the first 12 months after publication we restrict access to our content, or at least the full content of our articles, to only those who have a subscription. After that, access is open to anyone. So why give authors the [immediate] OA option? Essentially, as best we can tell, OA in some form is going to happen, and this option allows authors to publish their articles using OA if they want or are required to....

That OA is here to stay seems clear. For example, the 2 major funders of biomedical research in Europe already have implemented OA as an official policy [the Wellcome Trust and the European Research Council]....

So what does this mean for JAS and other society-based, not-for-profit publishers in the long-term? If required by granting agencies, it is certain that full OA (that is, immediate release of content at publication) will cause a significant change in scientific publishing, which I believe will be detrimental to the entire research enterprise, primarily because it will shift away from a “subscriber pays” to an “author pays” model. This will likely have negative consequences because currently the main income for JAS and most other non-OA journals is subscriptions from institutional members such as libraries as well as individuals. To replace this lost income, journals will move from page charges, which are currently approximately $500 to $600 at JAS for ASAS members, to author fees, which are currently approximately $2,500 or more for many OA journals.

Thus, although we have implemented a new policy to allow authors to choose OA, I am not a proponent because I believe the negative impacts of OA will far outweigh the positives. Not only will full OA change the scientific publishing business model, but “author pays” will likely decrease the ability of scientists from developing countries, or from disciplines that have little or no extramural support, like mathematics, to publish their work (see [John Ewing article October 2004]). In addition, “author pays” will likely mean fewer operating funds for the actual work. Lastly, because the public has no idea how to read, interpret, or put published science into context, immediate public access will lead to sensationalized use, or misuse, of science.

Because we can’t know the full impact of OA, I believe the best we can do for now is to position ourselves to be able to support publication costs in the face of lost income from subscriptions. The new policy is a painless way to begin this process. In addition, if we can maintain the option of not releasing our content for at least 6 months, we may be able to avoid the much higher author costs that will no doubt result if the funding agencies mandate full OA.

Comment.  I don't have time for another multi-point response to a multi-point misunderstanding of OA.  But here's a concise substitute.  Reynolds erroneously assumes that all OA journals charge author-side fees (when most don't); that all author-side fees are paid by authors out of pocket (when most aren't); that the conversion of subscription journals to OA, whether voluntary or involuntary, won't free up subscription funds to pay for the OA alternative (when it will); that mandated or high-volume OA archiving will force subscription journals to convert to OA (when this hasn't happened in physics, the field with the highest levels and longest history of OA archiving); that the primary beneficiaries of OA are lay readers (when they are researchers without subscriptions); and that lay readers must be protected from scientific knowledge for the good of us all (good grief).

The Frankfurt Reminder

Three German organizations have issued the Frankfurter Mahnung: Ohne geistiges Eigentum keine Informationsgesellschaft [Frankfurt Reminder:  Without intellectual property no information society], May 14, 2007.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Primarily it calls for strong copyright protection, reiterating the argument that authors need it as an incentive for their creativity.  The second to last sentence opposes any obligation to provide OA to copyrighted works. 

Because the full-text is a DOC file, I can't link to a machine translation.

The Reminder was issued by the Verband deutscher Schriftsteller (Federation of German Writers), P.E.N.-Zentrums Deutschland (P.E.N.-Center Germany), and the Börsenvereins des Deutschen Buchhandels (Association of German Booksellers).


  1. It seems clever to cast a contentious proposition as a Reminder rather than a Declaration or Manifesto.  But I'd have thought that good writers would fear insulting their readers and change the word before turning in the final draft.
  2. The three organizations behind the Frankfurt Reminder are clearly more interested in books than journal articles, in royalty-producing rather than royalty-free publications, and in mainstream rather than academic publications.  So it's largely beside the point for us.  Nevertheless....
  3. A definite part of the information society rests on works that make royalties for their authors and take full advantage of full-strength copyright.  But the Reminder's subtitle ("without intellectual property no information society") vastly overgeneralizes and willfully overlooks the blooming buzzing part of the information society resting on the public domain and works protected by Creative Commons or other open-content licenses.
  4. Strong copyright protection may be a critical incentive for novelists (or the subset of novelists not following Cory Doctorow's path to readers and sales), but it's no incentive at all for authors of scholarly journal articles.  There are two simple reasons:  in nearly every case, scholars are not paid for their journal articles and they transfer copyright to publishers.  If their articles make money, the money goes to publishers and the copyright monopoly protecting that revenue protects publishers.  As we all know, scholars are eager to write and publish journal articles even under this system in which they relinquish payment and transfer copyright. 
  5. Existing and proposed OA mandates do not apply to the copyrighted, published edition of an article, but only the final version of the author's peer-reviewed manuscript.  The Frankfurt Fear of an OA mandate for copyrighted, royalty-producing work is groundless --or at least pointed to a domain other than scholarly journal articles.

OA at three German research societies

Germany's new Informationsplattform Open Access is profiling the OA policies and activities at selected German institutions.  It now has three online, with more to come:

No comment

Frank Chen, Open Access Unnecessary for Physicists, APS Physics, April 2007 (accessible only to subscribers).  A letter to the editor.  Thanks to Philip Johnson at Biocurious for the alert and, since I don't have access, for this excerpt:

It was interesting to read why a molecular biologist [Bill Hooker] supports open access [APS News, Back Page, February 2007]. Interesting but unimportant. He has no idea of how a physicist thinks. When I have an interesting problem to solve, I like to work on it myself and see how far I can get. If I come up with an elegant solutions, so much the better. I don’t want to first see what others have done and become biased and perhaps fall into the same pitfalls. The only time I access previous articles is when the referee forces me to.

I used to get paper copies of five journals. For lack of space, I have given up on all but two of them. I have [university-subsidized online access] to all of them, but I have not taken the time to look. Although it is good for archiving, open access doesn’t work for current literature except for people who have a lot of time on their hands....

PS:  If I see more of these, I'll start a blog series:  Creative Excuses.

Monday, May 14, 2007

German OA discussion list

Germany's Informationsplattform Open Access has launched an email discussion list, the IPOA Forum.  See the subscription form or the archives.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

The OA mandate at the UK Department of Health

The UK Department of Health pledged to adopt an OA mandate back in January 2007, at the launch of UK PubMed Central (UKPMC).  (The DH is a member of the UKPMC Funders Group and all members of the Funders Group pledged or adopted OA mandates.)  The DH has finally released its policy, though I can't tell exactly when.  (Thanks to Matt Cockerill.)  From its undated Statement on DH / NIHR-funded research and UK PubMed Central:

The following approach is consistent with the requirements adopted by the other members of the UKPMC Funders Group.

  1. The DH requires that, for applications submitted from 1st April 2007, electronic copies of any research papers that have been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal (or final reports and / or executive summaries) which are supported in whole or in part by DH funding, are deposited at the earliest opportunity – and in any case within six months - in UK PubMed Central (UKPMC).
  2. Deposition of a research paper, final report or executive summary into UKPMC does not prevent authors from also depositing a copy in the institutional or another subject-based repository should they choose to do so or be required to do so by their employing institution.
  3. The DH also strongly encourages, but does not formally oblige, all grant recipients to deposit articles arising from grants awarded as a result of applications submitted before 1st April 2007.
  4. The DH strongly encourages authors to publish in journals that allow them (or their institutions) to retain ownership of the copyright.
  5. If author/institution-ownership of copyright is not permitted by the publisher, authors should publish in journals that permit deposition of...the published paper in UKPMC within six months of publication.
  6. The DH will work with publishers to put in place mechanisms for publishers to deposit publications directly, on behalf of authors, where this is possible....
  7. The DH's grant conditions are consistent with this approach and do not require amendment....
  8. Where researchers inform the NIHR [National Institute for Health Research] of their wish to publish a paper in a journal that is unwilling to agree either to author/institution-ownership of copyright, or to deposition in UKPMC within six months, the NIHR may grant permission for authors to submit the paper for publication in such a journal.
  9. Authors will benefit in two ways.  Firstly, their papers will be given a much wider form of dissemination and will be able to be read without restriction by anyone with internet access.  Secondly, as researchers they will increasingly be able to search the full text of all the research published in their area, not just the research available to them via the subscriptions their institution offers.

PS:  Kudos to all involved at the DH and NIHR.

Why the AAA hasn't embraced OA

Bill Davis, Financing AAA's Publishing Program in an Era of Open Access, Anthropology News, May 2007.  Davis is the Executive Director of the American Anthropological Association (AAA).  (Thanks to  Excerpt:

Maximizing free access to the published work of scholars is a principle fundamental to the generation of new knowledge. Why then would the non-profit society publishing community fail to wholeheartedly embrace the arguments of open access advocates to make electronic versions of scholarly journals free to anyone seeking such access? The answer requires an examination of the numbers. Let’s look at those for AAA.

The cost of publishing and distributing AAA’s 22 peer-reviewed print and online journals is anticipated to be over $2.1 million in 2007. Individual journal costs will range from under $6,000 to over $300,000 per title, and $55 to almost $350 per page.

Library subscribers will pay 46 percent of the $2.1 million, while AAA and its publication-sponsoring sections will bear another 44 percent. Print advertising, royalties, permission fees, individual print and digital sales, and other publications revenue will cover the last 10 percent of these costs.

Unlike commercial publishers, especially in the scientific, technology and medical (STM) fields, who have raised subscription fees to exorbitant levels, AAA has kept individual publication subscription prices extremely low. We provide free access to AnthroSource to over 2,000 institutions —tribal colleges in North America, historically black colleges and universities, and libraries in developing countries. Compared to average institutional print subscription prices in anthropology of more than $400 per title, other libraries pay an average of $65 for AAA print publications and between $350 and $1,200 for online access to current and retro content of 16 AAA titles, and back issues of another 14 AAA titles on AnthroSource.

Unlike some association publishers who subsidize other organization activities from journal publishing profits, within AAA the subsidy flows in the opposite direction. AAA and section member dues will subsidize our publishing program to the tune of more than $900,000 in 2007....

In 2006, the London-based Publishing Research Consortium, in a study of the main drivers behind selection decisions of acquisitions librarians, found that a significant number are likely to substitute freely available content for the same content available by subscription. “As [much] as 40% believe that libraries are wasting their money subscribing to journals when almost the same content is available for free,” according to the report....

For scholars in our fields, unlike their colleagues in the medical, the biological and physical sciences, there is relatively little federal or college and university grant support available, and what exists will often not support “paying” to publish research results. For many scholars in these fields, it will fall to the individual scholar to pay to publish. If AAA were to adopt an author-pay model for our publishing program, costs could range from around $1,000 to over $5,000 per article, depending on the title and the number of articles in each issue.

An equally significant concern with the author-pay model is that it would privilege scholars whose personal financial resources enable them to dig into their own pockets to pay to publish over colleagues with lesser personal means....

Another proposal to fill the gap in financing nonprofit society publishing operations is to substitute member dues for library subscription income. For AAA, all other program expenditures remaining the same, this would require an average increase in individual member dues of 71 percent, an average rise from $133 to $227....

Maybe there are options not yet widely discussed. For example, the proposed legislation requiring that any federally supported research be published through an open access repository could be accompanied by a requirement that every federal research grant include in its amount the costs of such publication....


  1. The PRC study is flawed.  It studied the hypothetical preferences of librarians, not actual cancellation decisions, and it disregarded faculty input on cancellation decisions when all librarians acknowledge that faculty input is decisive.  Less hypothetical studies, like Mark Ware's March 2006 study for ALPSP, show that OA archiving is not a significant cause of journal cancellations and trails far behind high journal prices.  (My usual disclaimer applies:  high-volume OA archiving might really increase cancellations, but there's no hard evidence yet that it will, and abundant evidence to the contrary in physics, the field with the highest levels and longest history of OA archiving.) 
  2. It's true that anthropology has little research funding, compared to fields like biomedicine, and therefore may be less able to support OA journals that charge publication fees.  (Or at least for now:  until more universities start to pay publication fees for their faculty and until the money now tied up in subscriptions is freed up to pay for the OA alternative.)  But Davis seems to assume that all OA journals charge publication fees when in fact most do not.  Because so many others share Davis' assumption, the business models of the no-fee journals are still largely ignored and unstudied.  The AAA could be among the leaders in exploring them.
  3. Even when OA journals do charge publication fees, the fees are usually paid by funders or employers, rarely by authors out of pocket, and the journals often waive the fees in cases of economic hardship.  Moreover, the evidence shows that more subscription-based journals charge author-side fees (like page and color charges) than OA journals, so if the fees discriminate against indigent authors, the effect is worse for non-OA journals than for OA journals.  For all these reasons it's misleading to suggest that fee-based OA journals would privilege affluent authors.
  4. On the one hand, the low level of federal funding for anthropological research does affect the prospects for fee-based OA journals in anthropology.  But on the other, the same low funding levels mean that an OA mandate for federally-funded research will have little effect in anthropology.  Hence at the very least Davis should direct the AAA to stop lobbying against such OA mandates (like FRPAA).  Davis can't have it both ways.
  5. I appreciate that Davis is looking for solutions that will make OA work.  But he misunderstands a key fact about OA archiving when he suggests that FRPAA (which would require OA archiving for most federally-funded research) "could be accompanied by a requirement that every federal research grant include in its amount the costs" of such OA archiving.  OA repositories never charge deposit fees.  There are modest upkeep costs for the repository but no costs for authors or readers. 
  6. Finally, the AAA is a green publisher (according to SHERPA).  Its journals already allow authors to self-archive their peer-reviewed postprints.  Hence, even if the AAA can't find a way to convert its non-OA journals to OA, or to provide gold OA, authors should provide green OA on their own initiative and take advantage of the opportunity the AAA has already created.

Forthcoming OA journal of semantics and pragmatics

David Beaver and Kai von Fintel have announced plans to launch a new peer-reviewed OA journal, Semantics and Pragmatics (no web site yet).  Beaver is in the Linguistics Department at the U of Texas, and von Fintel is in the Linguistics and Philosophy Department at MIT.  From von Fintel's blog post:

This weekend at the annual SALT meeting, David Beaver and I announced the coming launch of the new journal Semantics & Pragmatics. Our journal will be a high-quality, rigorously peer-reviewed journal on topics in semantics and pragmatics. Why a new journal (given that the field already has three excellent dedicated journals: Linguistics & Philosophy, Natural Language Semantics, Journal of Semantics)? Our journal will be an open access journal, with no subscription barriers, and it will make optimal use of modern electronic distribution and management methods. One can get some idea of our plans from the slides we used at SALT. We received many encouraging comments and many interesting questions. We will continue the conversation begun at SALT on our editors’ blog. Please join us there. We are very optimistic about this project and we need the community’s help and support as we move ahead.

Update. Also see the MIT press release on Semantics and Pragmatics (May 17, 2007). Excerpt:

Some of the significant aspects of the business plan:

  • Start-up Funding: The editors are seeking institutional support for the start-up phase. The MIT Libraries will be providing partial funding for the first year through a modest grant.
  • Publishing Software: The editors plan to use open source software from Open Journal Systems from the Public Knowledge Project at Simon Fraser University.
  • Archiving: The journal plans to make arrangements for archiving through discussions with the Libraries’ Dspace team and is examining services for e-journal archiving such as Portico. They plan to offer an annual volume through a print-on-demand service for those who would like the print as an archival format.

Beaver and von Fintel will be blogging the entire start-up process, offering a unique inside view of the business of starting up an open access journal. To follow their progress, visit the editors’ blog.

Researcher action and government action

Stevan Harnad, When Will the Research Community Take OA Matters Into Its Own Hands? Open Access Archivangelism, May 13, 2007.  Excerpt:

Chris Armbruster wrote in the SPARC Open Access Forum:

"...the publishers' lobbyists on this occasion were successful - they had their position written into the Bundesrat opinion, almost to the letter.
"This Bundesrat opinion is bad news for OA... How come that toll access publishers had it all their way? good are OA activists in addressing the concerns of policy makers and parliaments?

"There principally are two routes to OA - a) via the self-regulation of universities, libraries, science organisations and learned societies, or b) via political regulation. decision-makers... providing 'conclusive evidence' that allows them to decide for you (and against the other side). Is the OA movement ready for this kind of adversarial politics?"

Probably not.

And although an OA Lobby is a good idea, the research community (researchers, their universities and their funders) can do it all amongst themselves already, even without a Lobby. There is a simple way, if we can only get the research community to listen, and understand, and act: The Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access (ID/OA) Mandate removes the publishers and the publishing lobby from the decision loop completely. Government intervention is not needed either.

All I can do is keep repeating this message, amidst all the hubbub and indirection, hoping that it will be understood that all else becomes moot if the research community itself (universities and funders) just mandate ID/OA: Absolutely nothing else matters. Nothing can stop the worldwide research community from doing it. And it will work. And it will bring 100% OA very soon. Everything else just means years more of the confusion and delay we have now. To reach for either less or more is to get next to nothing. ID/OA is completely within our reach; all we need do is grasp it, now.

Comment.  It's true that researchers can achieve OA without government action.  But it's also true that government action can speed up the process.  We ought to work on all fronts at once.   

Library of Congress joins

The Library of Congress has joined the alliance.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  From the announcement:

The Library of Congress (LOC) recently joined the Alliance. The nation's oldest federal cultural institution and largest library in the world, the LOC serves as the research arm of Congress with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The addition brings the Alliance membership to 17 organizations (view other participants). Currently in its fourth generation, provides search of more than 50 million pages of science information with just one query, and is a gateway to over 1,800 scientific Web sites and 30 deep Web databases.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

It's time to act on the NKC's OA recommendation for India

Sam Pitroda, Chairman of India's National Knowledge Commission (NKC), is calling for implementation of the NKC's recommendations.  Details in today's issue of The Hindu:

The recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission on the knowledge paradigm have to be executed to bridge the gap between the educated and uneducated, Sam Pitroda, Chairman of the commission said on Saturday....

The recommendations of the commission have to be executed, he said adding there were a huge gap between the haves and have-nots, the educated and the uneducated people in the country.

The recommendations have not received much attention from various quarters, he added.

Pitroda also said, there was resistance from both within and outside the education system to new ideas....

PS:  The NKC's Working Group on Libraries recommended OA for India's publicly-funded research in a December 7, 2006, letter to the Prime Minister.

OA repository for aquatic and marine science

Aquatic commons, IIALD blog, May 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

IAMSLIC (International Association of Aquatic and Marine Science Libraries and Information Centers), FAO,and other partners are working towards the establishment of a coordinated 'aquatic commons' - to include a digital repository and harvester for fisheries and marine science.

The proposed model includes an 'open access OAI compliant repository' and a 'thematic harvester' offering federated searching across repositories, IAMSLIC’s Z39.50 distributed library, the union database of marine serials, and the ASFA database.

According to the FAO, it will "facilitate the exchange of scientific research related to the marine/aquatic environments by providing a searchable, Web-accessible repository for digital documents. [...] The Aquatic Commons is intended to complement institutional repositories and to collaborate with related subject repositories particularly in developing countries....

AVANO is likely to be the official IAMSLIC open access marine and aquatic sciences harvester....