Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Asking a society journal to convert to OA

The researchers planning an OA journal on computational linguistics and natural language processing have now submitted an official proposal to the executive committee of the Association for Computational Linguistics.  It's undated but was apparently sent on June 1.  (Thanks to Hal Daume III.)  Excerpt:

We propose that the ACL journal Computational Linguistics convert its publishing model from subscription-based to open access. Open access journals are provided freely to all, eliminating access barriers to our scholarly writings and making uniform their availability, consistent with the purpose of the Association to “promote research and development activities in the field of computational linguistics” and “provide information on computational linguistics to the general public”. Open access provides wider sharing of knowledge and the acceleration of research, and is thus in the best interest of authors, potential readers, and the computational linguistics community as a whole.

Concomitant with this change would be the following changes to the publication process:

  • The process would take advantage of advances in journal management software systems, enabling web-based workflow management of the submission, editor assignment, reviewing, and issue processes.
  • Author permission would be changed to a Creative Commons license, so as to enable free accessibility of the articles for all purposes, including data mining and use as an experimental corpus.
  • Authors would reclaim responsibility for typesetting, eliminating the anachronisms and problems of the galley proof change process.
  • Articles would be issued upon acceptance of the final typeset version, so that the journal would carry no backlog. This would dramatically shorten publication delays.
  • Articles would be accepted independently of artificial page limitations. This would enable, though not require, accepting more articles for publication if the supply of high-quality articles allowed.
  • A print edition would be published according to the principles of open-access print archiving, thereby maintaining the true archival aspect of the journal. Microtome publishing has already agreed to serve as the print-archive publisher, though MIT Press may also be willing to perform this task.

In summary, the model and process of publication would be essentially identical to that used by the Journal of Machine Learning Research, the highest impact factor journal in artificial intelligence and the second highest of any computer science journal....

The proposal also contains a useful FAQ for any journal considering the switch. 

PS:  Kudos to the authors, Hal Daume III, Kevin Duh, Ryan McDonald, Fernando Pereira, and Stuart M. Shieber, for writing an exemplary proposal.  For background on their efforts to launch an OA journal, see my posts from May 16 and May 22, 2007.

OA doesn't solve the problem of deep web access

Walter Warnick, Problems of Searching in Web Databases, Science, june 1, 2007.  A letter to the editor.  Excerpt:

The issues described in the article “European Union steps back from open-access leap” (M. Enserink, News of the Week, 23 Feb., p. 1065) mask a deeper problem. Simply putting scientific content into Web-accessible databases will not make it easily available, because commonly used search engines do not crawl databases....

The U.S. R&D agencies have made a start at addressing this problem with [], which allows simultaneous search across 35 massive federal document databases. A new project, [PS:  no web site yet], will extend this model to include content housed by other national governments. But in the long run, someone needs to coordinate searches to all the major Web-accessible document databases in the world, most of which are nongovernmental.

Simple Web accessibility is a necessary condition for the diffusion of scientific knowledge, but it is not sufficient. The issue of open access, although important, pales in comparison to the problem of deep Web access.

CLA decides on OA for its own publications

Heather Morrison, Open Access news from CLA, SLAIS Open Access Course Blog, May 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

Some interesting developments on open access from the Canadian Library Association conference:

The CLA Executive has approved a set of recommendations on policy for open access for CLA's own publications. There are some options and final details to be worked out so I can't point to the final policy yet, however, in a nutshell, Feliciter will, in the near future, be freely available after a 1-issue embargo, and CLA authors (whether Feliciter or other CLA publications) will be free to self-archive a copy of their work....

More on the Encyclopedia of Life

Paula Hane, Nurturing Biodiversity: The Encyclopedia of Life, Information Today, June 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

In mid-May, leaders from some of the top academic and scientific organizations in the world gathered together in Washington, D.C., to announce an unprecedented global initiative. Representing many producers and users of information, participants launched an effort to create the Web-based Encyclopedia of Life —something the scientific and environmental communities have reportedly sought for decades. The epic-sized effort will attempt to document all 1.8 million named species of animals, plants, and other forms of life on Earth —and provide not just written information but, when available, photographs, video, sound, location maps, and other multimedia information for each species.

A project this mammoth will be time-consuming —it’s estimated that it will take 10 years to create Internet pages for all those currently named species plus any new ones to be discovered. Some prestigious organizations are already involved, including the initiators of the project: The Field Museum of Natural History, Harvard University, the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL). Funding for the effort came from a $10 million grant from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and $2.5 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The renowned scientist Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University articulated the idea for the Encyclopedia of Life in a widely read essay published in 2003. Wilson’s letter about the encyclopedia in late 2005 to the MacArthur Foundation started the ball rolling. Then, in March 2007, Wilson gave an address at the Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Conference, in which he wished for the establishment of the Encyclopedia of Life....

“The Encyclopedia of Life will provide valuable biodiversity and conservation information to anyone, anywhere, at any time,” said James Edwards, current executive secretary of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, who was officially named executive director of the Encyclopedia of Life. “Through collaboration, we all can increase our appreciation of the immense variety of life, the challenges to it, and ways to conserve biodiversity. The Encyclopedia of Life will ultimately make high-quality, well-organized information available on an unprecedented level. Even five years ago, we could not create such a resource, but advances in technology for searching, annotating, and visualizing information now permit us, indeed mandate us to build the Encyclopedia of Life.”

The BHL, a consortium of 10 of the world’s largest natural history libraries, holds most of the relevant scientific literature. It will scan and digitize tens of millions of pages of the scientific literature that will offer open access to detailed knowledge. In fact, the BHL...has [already] scanned the first 1.25 million pages for the encyclopedia....

The organizers hope to have actual, authenticated species pages available by mid-2008.

The pages will be adjustable to various categories of users—from novice to expert....

Ultimately, the encyclopedia will be available in all major languages....

June issue of SOAN

I just mailed the June issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at attempts to balance author and publisher rights, primarily in the "author addenda" from CIC, SPARC, and Science Commons, and in the position paper by the ALPSP, AAP/PSP, and STM.  The round-up section briefly notes 99 OA developments from May. 

Friday, June 01, 2007

Strengthening the NIH policy

The ACRL is calling for grassroots support to strengthen the NIH policy from a request to a requirement.  Excerpt:

Summary:  The National Institutes of Health currently has a policy in place designed to encourage NIH-funded researchers to deposit the final peer-reviewed manuscripts of their articles in PubMed Central, the digital library of the National Library of Medicine. The policy, which is voluntary, calls on researchers to make their research results openly accessible within one year of acceptance in a peer-reviewed journal. Under the voluntary policy, fewer than 4% of eligible manuscripts have been deposited in PubMed Central. Both the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine and NIH Public Access Working Group have concluded, "The NIH Policy cannot achieve its stated goals unless deposit of manuscripts becomes mandatory."

Issue for Libraries:  The present system of disseminating the results of publicly funded research is badly broken and severely limits access. The public pays for the research and very often the salary of the researcher as well. Research articles are then published in peer-reviewed journals, which charge subscription fees or per-article access fees. The cost of subscriptions has risen three times faster than inflation for more than 20 years and most subscriptions are unaffordable for most libraries. Journals typically demand to own copyright as well. 

Changes in federal policy and legislation for federally-funded research have the potential to greatly increase research access for faculty, students, and the general public, reversing to a substantial extent the loss in access that has resulted from journal price increases and subscription cancellations by libraries. If properly implemented, such policy changes will also protect the system of peer-reviewed journals.

Current Status: Congress is taking up Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) appropriations again. Both the House and Senate are considering LHHS appropriations bills, which could direct the NIH to amend its existing voluntary public access policy to become mandatory.

Action Needed: We ask grassroots advocates to work now to insert language supporting a mandatory NIH public access policy into the Senate and House versions of the LHHS appropriations bill while the subcommittees are still drafting. Specifically we ask you to:

  1. Schedule a visit to the local district office of your legislators over the Memorial Day recess (continues through Friday, June 1) or Independence Day recess (July 2-6). Explain to your Senator/Representative and his/her staff members why you support this language. (Search by zip code to find contact information...)
  2. Meet with your college/university government relations office and ask staff what your institution can do to voice support.
  3. Send a message about this to others on your campus and in your state asking them to take action.

Talking Points:

  • Every year, the NIH funds billions of dollars in scientific research.  U.S. taxpayers underwrite this research and they have a right to expect that its dissemination and use will be maximized, and also that they themselves will have access to it.
  • Faster and wider sharing of knowledge fuels the advance of science. Broad communication of research results is an essential component of the US government's investment in science. For the first time, the Internet makes it possible to share the latest scientific advances promptly with every scientist, physician, educator, and citizen who wants them.
  • NIH strongly supports this goal and has instituted a voluntary system intended to make scientific research more broadly available for use.  Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, that system is not working.  That is why NIH is now asking Congress to include language in the LHHS bill to make the program mandatory.  In fact, the House included similar language last year (which we believe the Senate was going to accept in conference), but due to the way the appropriations process concluded, it did not become law. 
  • The language we are asking for this year (and that was included last year) requires that results of NIH-funded research be deposited and preserved in an online database at NIH, freely accessible to the public, within one year of publication in a scientific journal....

Elsevier will drop its arms business

Elsevier is leaving the business of hosting arms exhibitions.  Details from Reuters today:

Anglo-Dutch publisher Reed Elsevier...plans to stop organising defence industry exhibitions by the end of the year due to growing concerns by customers and authors, the company said on Friday.

"It has become increasingly clear that growing numbers of important customers and authors have very real concerns about our involvement in the defence exhibitions business," Chief Executive Officer Crispin Davis said in a statement.

"We have listened closely to these concerns and this had led us to conclude that the defence shows are no longer compatible with Reed Elsevier's position as a leading publisher of scientific, medical, legal and business content." ...

The portfolio of five shows represents around 0.5 percent of the group's annual turnover, Reed said on Friday, adding the withdrawal would be completed during the second half of 2007.

PS:  For background, why The Lancet thinks there is an OA connection, and why I haven't blogged much on this controversy, see my post from March 24, 2007.

OA environmental info for Nakuru, Kenya

George Kamau, Free environmental information and knowledge, Africa News, May 31, 2007.  Excerpt:

[E]very member of the Nakuru community can now access environmental information and knowledge for free. A free community environmental knowledge-sharing centre has been put up at the headquarters of the expansive Rift Valley province, Nakuru town, in Kenya.

This first of its kind, the community environmental resource centre was constructed by Practical Action together with support from partners including Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Municipal Council of Nakuru (MCN) Waste Netherlands and the Kenya Library Services, is hosted at the Nakuru library grounds....

According to the director, the centre is unique and falls in a class of its own in the country today. It is the first resource centre authorised by the Kenya National Library Services that has an interactive information exchange section based on the Open Knowledge Network (OKN). OKN, a knowledge and information sharing facility provided by ALIN, has a feedback mechanism that allows one to share experiences with 13 other community people from centres across East and Central Africa....

Data sharing policies at 10 journals

Heather Piwowar, Diverse journal requirements for data sharing, Research Remix, May 30, 2007.  Excerpt:

Many academic journals make sharing research data a requirement for publication, but their policies vary widely. I’ve been wanting to understand this better: below is a summary of my Tuesday Morning Delve into the world of “Information for Authors”.

I selected 10 journals, two from each of the following ad hoc categories: general science (Nature and Science), medicine (JAMA and NEJM), oncology (JCO and Cancer), genetics (Human Molecular Genetics and PLoS Computational Biology), and bioinformatics (Bioinformatics and BMC Bioinformatics). The results are obviously just the tip of the iceberg, but I found them enlightening.

Nature has the most stringent requirements, followed closely by Science. These journals required data sharing for the most diverse types of data, specified acceptable databases,escrow requirements, and actually had “teeth” clauses… they specify a statement of consequences for times when you ask for data and the authors don’t provide it.

The medical journals do have requirements for clinical trials registries, and sometimes suggestions for data inclusion based on clinical trial design, though they have no mention of requirements or encouragement for sharing (obviously deidentified) research data except that NEJM requires sharing microarray data....

These rough conclusions of mine are consistent with Table 2-1, “Policies on Sharing Materials and Data of 56 Most Frequently Cited Journals”, in Sharing Publication-Related Data and Materials: Responsibilities of Authorship in the Life Sciences (2003)....

Conclusions: kuddos to Nature and Science. I’m surprised that the policies of other journals are so lax....

[See] Summarized table [and] Policy Excerpts....

Thursday, May 31, 2007

From an editor of an OA journal

Jennifer Richard, Welcome Back, Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 2, 1 (2007).  An editorial.  (Thanks to Barbara Kelly.)  Excerpt:

...As I prepare for a session entitled “Librarianship and the Open Access Journal” at CLA/APLA/NLLA National Conference in Newfoundland, I have had the opportunity to think about the impact of open access for the library community, particularly associations.  I am also a member of the Canadian Library Association Task Force on Open Access, so that also has me thinking about this topic a lot.  I personally, have always thought open access was pretty much a no-brainer and there really isn’t a lot to discuss, the benefits are so obvious.  But I have heard some arguments that worry me and I would like to just quickly give the open access side of the argument here – based solely on my experience with this journal. 

  1. Peer review will not be as rigorous. 

I believe this could not be further from the truth.  I have been so impressed with the conscientious efforts of colleagues who have reviewed articles in this journal.  They are tough!  Both the reviewers and section editors have taken their responsibilities very seriously and I believe it is apparent when you read the quality articles published.  Articles often go through a couple of rounds of review by several colleagues before they are published with very few, if any, articles making it through on the first go around....

  1. What about keeping association publications as member benefits?

From a personal point of view, I really don’t understand the argument.  I don’t belong to an association because I get a magazine; it doesn’t make sense to me.  I can read the magazine in the library; after all I am a librarian.  But I do very much believe that these open access publications are a member benefit – because of the Provincial, Regional and Territorial Library Associations of Canada, you are provided with this high quality journal, so what if everyone else gets to read it at the same time – that part of what we believe so strongly in – access to all.  You get to participate in the activity generated by this type of publication, opportunities to publish, review, edit and soon assist writers.  It’s fun and it looks great on a resume.  I strongly encourage you to support associations that support open access.

  1. It will jeopardize our ad revenue.

It hasn’t jeopardized Google’s ad revenue.  Instead of 300 association members, your publication is now available for the whole world to see; wouldn’t advertisers and vendors be happier about this?  We have yet to have these conversations with vendors, but I think we need to move on that soon.  During the next trade show you attend, ask a vendor how they feel about reaching more people online within this new publishing structure....

More on email access during an embargo period

Stevan Harnad, OA Mandates, Embargoes, and the "Fair Use" Button, Open Access Archivangelism, May 30, 2007. 

Summary:  Authors are entitled, under "Fair Use," to distribute single copies of their journal articles to individual reprint- or eprint-requesters for research use. But misunderstandings are making funders and institutions uncertain about whether to adopt (1) the Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access (ID/OA) Mandate or (2) the equivocal "Delayed Deposit Mandate" (which would leave it up to publishers whether and when authors deposit -- rather than just when they make the deposit OA). 

Mandating immediate deposit -- with the deposit either made Open Access immediately, where feasible, or Closed Access while there is a publisher embargo period (ID/OA) -- is infinitely preferable to allowing the deposit itself to be embargoed, rather than just the access to the deposit. During any access embargo, the deposit's metadata are still visible webwide (author, title, date, journal, etc.), so users can request a single fair-use copy. The "Fair Use" Button is part of the Institutional Repository's interface. Whenever a user reaches a Closed Access deposit, they can cut/paste their email address into a box, and click on the Button, which sends an automatic email request to the author, asking for authorization to email one individual eprint to the requester, for personal research use. The author can then just click on a URL to authorize the emailing of that individual eprint.

The default version that should be mandated for deposit is the author's final draft, not the publisher's PDF. (Many more publishers endorse author self-archiving of the publisher's final draft with immediate, unembargoed setting of access to the deposit of that draft as OA rather than Closed Access.) The difference between the publisher's PDF and the author's final draft means next to nothing for those would-be users who currently have no access at all.

Two OA talks at CHLA meeting

An anonymous blogger has posted some notes on the talks on OA by Heather Joseph and Cameron MacDonald at the Canadian Health Libraries Association 2007 Annual Conference (Ottawa, May 28 - June 1, 2007).  Excerpt:

Open access has become the subject of much discussion amongst researchers, librarians, and publishers.  Governments and funding agencies are urged to develop open access strategies to help speed research progress, increase productivity, and extend knowledge translation.  As librarians we are familiar with how expensive journal costs have reduced subscriptions and our ability to provide access to as many journals.  The open access movement is critically relevant to many of us, especially now that the discussion of open access has reached the mainstream....

Heather Joseph has worked in the field of scholarly publishing for over 17 years and was a pioneer in the area of electronic journals and open access.   She is currently the executive director of SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition in Washington DC, an organization that looks at ways of expanding information dissemination by seeking alternatives to the high cost of commercial scientific publications.  Today, Heather discussed open access, in particular public policy and repositories.

From the general, to the very specific, Cameron MacDonald discussed open access from the point of view of a small, not for profit scientific publisher.  Cameron is the Director of NRC Research Press which, although it is small, is the largest single publisher of scientific and technical journals in Canada.  Cameron has 20 years of experience in various capacities at CISTI; the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information.  Cameron is focussed on ensuring that the NRC Research Press continues to meet the needs of researchers in Canada and worldwide.  Today he discussed open access issues faced by NRC Research Press as it strives to provide broader, more equitable access in a viable business model that supports its leading edge publishing processes and services.

Peter Murray-Rust on open access and open data

Talis has released a 70 minute podcast of Peter Murray-Rust speaking about open access and open data.  From the description:

In our latest Talking with Talis podcast, I talk with Professor Peter Murray-Rust of the Unilever Centre for Molecular Sciences Informatics at the University of Cambridge.

In a wide-ranging conversation, we look at the changing nature of academic publishing, the importance of primary data to the process, and the remarkable potential of the Semantic Web in both streamlining and enriching the endeavour....

More on the early access advantage

Stevan Harnad, The Early Access Advantage and Research Impact Loss, Open Access Archivangelism, May 31, 2007. 

Summary:  Early Access means starting the Open Access advantage (enhanced research usage and citations) earlier. This does not just mean phase-advancing the lifetime citation expectancy of an article (i.e., same total number of citations, but just starting earlier). Paper uploads generate downloads, which then generate usage and citations, which generate more downloads, which generate more usage and citations, etc. This interactive cycle can increase not just the onset of the citation curve, but its total area. And not just horizontally, but vertically: If it is obvious that it is not irrelevant to the usage and impact of a finding whether it is published two months before it is needed for use in a related study by another researcher, or ten years after, then it should not take much imagination (just a change in time-scale) to see how Early Access does not just mean earlier usage and citations but more usage and citations, because of the widening self-potentiating uptake cycle of research. And this of course applies to both preprints and postprints: An article that is published at time T but only made OA at time T + 12 months (embargo) stands to lose a good deal of its potential uptake and impact (especially in fast-moving fields) -- some of it lost forever; and meanwhile research loses widening cycles of potential progress. It is only to those who are straining to persuade us to resign ourselves passively to publisher embargoes -- as if they made no difference at all to our research usage, uptake, impact, and progress -- that these banal truths will be anything less than obvious.

Call for OA to referee reports

Ariberto Fassati, Open journals' records to give reviewers their due, Nature, May 30, 2007 (accessible only to subscribers).  A letter to the editor.  Excerpt:

Sydney Brenner and Richard Robert's request in Correspondence (Nature 446, 725; doi:10.1038/446725a 2007) for authors to conserve records of their work and make them freely accessible is of great importance to historians of science.

However, unlike an artist's preparatory sketches or a novelist's drafts, scientific papers describing major discoveries have gone through the process of peer review. Reviewers often make significant contributions in shaping discoveries. They suggest new experiments, propose novel interpretations and reject some papers outright. Clearly, this is also important 'behind the scenes' work by scientists usually at the forefront of their discipline, and is an intrinsic part of the scientific process. It is well worth keeping a record of such work, for no history of science will be complete and accurate without it.

I therefore propose that journals' records should be made publicly available after an adequate lapse of time, including the names of reviewers and the confidential comments exchanged between editors and reviewers. The Nobel Foundation makes all its records available after 50 years, as do many governmental and other institutions. This delay may be reduced for scientific journals to, perhaps, 15 or 20 years. This is also likely to have a positive impact on the peer-review process itself....

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

On the road

I'll be on the road for a couple of days with few opportunities for blogging or email.  I'm still hoping to mail the June issue of SOAN on June 2, though my trip might delay its appearance by a day or two.  I'll catch up on blogging and email after the newsletter goes out.

Spain is funding OA repositories

Spain's Ministry of Culture is funding OA repositories throughout the country.  See the solicitation of proposals from the Ministry or as published in the official Boletín Oficial del Estado, May 25, 2007.  (Thanks to SEDIC-blog via Netbib.)

Scirus indexes another IR

Info source for OA in Iran

Iranian Librarian Bloggers is a new group blog (May 22, 2007) and one of its contributors, Mohammad Zerehsaz, plans to write about OA in Iran.  This should be a valuable source of new information.

New OA journal of European legal studies

The European Journal of Legal Studies is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the Law Department of the European University Institute (EUI).  the inaugural issue (April 2007) is now online.  (Thanks to Doc en vr@c.)

In addition to publishing to its own site online, EJLS deposits each issue in Cadmus, the EUI institutional repository.

OA plug from Richard Roberts

Medical Writing, Editing & Grantsmanship reports this good idea from Richard Roberts, Nobel laureate:

A refreshing opening and concluding slide at today’s Laureate Lecture: “I SUPPORT OPEN ACCESS.”

Richard Roberts, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at New England BioLabs and recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine (discovery of split genes) discussed methods for predicting active restriction enzymes and experimental approaches to testing computational predictions of the same. However, he took considerable time at the beginning to proselytize, as he put it, for scientists to publish in open access journals or to pay the required fee to ensure open access. He is very much in favor of Congress mandating that all NIH-funded investigators to use PubMed Central and gave a plug for Nucleic Acids Research plus his own REBASE database. He strongly believes this is one of the most worthwhile causes in the scientific community, and I - unencumbered by the P&T process, of course (as is Dr. Roberts) - concur.

PS:  This practice should spread.  Regardless of your field or topic, when you're giving a presentation on your work, stick in a slide saying I support open access.  Then say a word or two about how OA helped you in your research and can help others.  It's not off-topic for any topic and you don't have to be a Nobel laureate.

Overview of the open education movement

The OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation has released a 153 page overview of the open education movement, Giving Knowledge for Free, The Emergence of Open Educational Resources, May 24, 2007.  Excerpt:

The development of the information society and the widespread diffusion of information technology give rise to new opportunities for learning. At the same time, they challenge established views and practices regarding how teaching and learning should be organised and carried out. Higher educational institutions have been using the Internet and other digital technologies to develop and distribute education for several years. Yet, until recently, much of the learning materials were locked up behind passwords within proprietary systems, unreachable for outsiders. The open educational resource (OER) movement aims to break down such barriers and to encourage and enable freely sharing content....

[T]his report...addresses four main questions:

  • How can sustainable cost/benefit models for OER initiatives be developed?
  • What are the intellectual property rights issues linked to OER initiatives?
  • What are the incentives and barriers for universities and faculty staff to deliver their materials to OER initiatives?
  • How can access and usefulness for the users of OER initiatives be improved? ...

The trend towards sharing software programmes (open source software) and research outcomes (open access publishing) is already so strong that it is generally thought of as a movement. It is now complemented by the trend towards sharing learning resources – the open educational resources movement....

The first and most fundamental question anyone arguing for free and open sharing of software or content has to answer is: Why? Why should anyone give anything away?...Advocates of the open source software, open access and OER movements of course have arguments in favour of their specific cause. But general arguments also apply to all three. These can be divided into pull arguments, which list the gains to be achieved by open sharing of software, scientific articles and educational materials, and push arguments, which register the threats or negative effects that might appear if software developers, scientists and educationalists do not share their work openly.

On the push side, it is sometimes argued that, if universities do not support the open sharing of research results and educational materials, traditional academic values will be increasingly marginalised by market forces....

On the pull side, a number of possible positive effects from open sharing are put forward, such as: free sharing means broader and faster dissemination, with the result that more people are involved in problem solving, which in turn means rapid quality improvement and faster technical and scientific development; decentralised development increases quality, stability and security; and free sharing of software, scientific results and educational resources reinforces societal development and diminishes social inequality. From a more individual standpoint, open sharing is claimed to increase publicity, reputation and the pleasure of sharing with peers....

New OA journal of applied economics

Applied Economics Research Bulletin is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the Berkeley Mathemarketics Group.  The inaugural issue is still forthcoming, but the site is already online.  The about page describes some of its unconventional policies:

The aim of the Applied Economics Research Bulletin is to foster free and extremely rapid dissemination of papers. We see ourselves as a rapid alternative to journals like Economics Letters, Marketing Letters, Economics Bulletin, or the Review of Marketing Science....

- Immediate dissemination: While readers want to have immediate access to the latest research, it typically takes years before an article can appear in a journal. Even an outlet like Economics Letters takes several months to a year. At the Applied Economics Research Bulletin, the manuscript gets published in days, sometimes even within hours of submitting the manuscript. Our publication lag is limited only by the time it takes our AEs [Article Editors] to read your manuscript and convey an accept/reject decision. We strive to give you a decision in 24 hours (however, given that we intend to publish manuscripts of very high quality, we expect only a small proportion of submitted papers will be accepted).

- Review process: We are a selective outlet with a unique review process that facilitates rapid acceptance/rejection of submitted manuscripts. The Associate Editors immediately put the papers you submit into the hands of eminent researchers who serve as what we call Article Editors (AE). The function of the AE is to assess the contribution of the manuscript and convey an immediate accept/reject decision. The AE assumes complete responsibility for the manuscript. In many cases, we will adopt a three-tiered review process, with the first AE checking for obvious flaws and errors in the manuscript, the second AE assessing the probability of the research being subsequently published in other leading journals (or assessing the paper's contribution) and one of the Associate Editors signing off on it. The manuscript will not be accepted for publication in the Applied Economics Research Bulletin unless both AEs give it a thumbs up and one of the Associate Editors ratifies it.

- Public record: We expect that manuscripts published in the Applied Economics Research Bulletin will form the foundations for more refined works that will subsequently be submitted to other leading journals. However, immediate publication of your manuscript in the Bulletin helps create a public record of when and where the research idea originated. This limits plagiarism that can plague working papers and also impedes unintentional duplication of research by fellow academics. At the same time, it opens up opportunities for dialog and collaboration with other researchers.

- No manuscript style: All journals have specific requirements on manuscript length, format, style in which references or tables are laid out, etc....We trust your judgment and in the interest of prompt dissemination of ideas, we have absolutely no such requirements. No 6- or 8-page limits either....

- No subscription costs: ...

- You retain the copyright: ...In contrast [to conventional journals], the Applied Economics Research Bulletin allows authors to retain all rights and we merely ask that we be permitted to disseminate your research as widely as possible....

- Experimentation and innovation: We are a very flexible outlet that is always open to new suggestions and innovative ideas.  For instance, we would be open to publishing a manuscript that has already been published elsewhere, if you can convince the AEs that your work needs renewed visibility (it would be your responsibility to get the necessary copyright clearance).  In the future, we plan to experiment with more innovative approaches to publishing, for example, we may pay the AEs for their services.  We believe all journals, especially commercial journals, need to move in the direction of paying reviewers for their time....

OA in Norway

The Norwegian Open Research Archive (NORA) and the Norwegian Digital Library have launched, a central location for OA information and advocacy in Norway --very analogous to Sweden's and Germany's Informationsplattform Open Access.

Thanks to Co-Action for the alert and this English-language translation and introduction:

May brought the launch of in Norway. This website aims to contribute to an “effective system for open scientific communications in line with the primary goal of research: the widest possible dissemination of research results”. By providing a digital arena that brings together information on Open Access, services, OA journals, repositories, copyright information, news, links, and an overview of the state of Open Access in Norway, offers a comprehensive overview in the making.

According to the website itself: “ will contribute to making Norwegian research results more visible and openly accessible without barriers for all users both national and international.” Further: “ is an information site for all those who require more information about Open Access, i.e. freely accessible journals and open publication archives.” ...

Declaration on just access to knowledge

The German non-profit Netzwerk Freies Wissen (NFW) is circulating a sign-on declaration, For better development and just access to knowledge in all forms:  Against the domination of exclusionary rights on the knowledge economy.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

It's aimed at the governments of the G8 nations and was released on May 23, the first day of the G8 ministers meeting in Munich.  NFW will collect signatures until some time this fall, when it will present them to the G8.

From the English edition of the declaration (also available in German and Swedish):

Access to knowledge is a necessary condition for human freedom. It is crucial in supporting ourselves, caring for the sick, and playing, creating, and working together in communities. The digital and biotechnological eras have created enormous new opportunities for creating and sharing knowledge and are broadening humankinds potential to solve problems and innovate.

But these opportunities are accompanied by huge risks. Chief among them is the explosion of intellectual property rights that has taken place both within and across national borders. These rights restrict how information and information-based goods can be shared, subsuming the domain of human knowledge to the logic of the market.

We observe stronger enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) by the G8 countries, especially in the developing world. The debate is framed by governments of industrialized countries as protection against piracy and forgery. However, IPRs cover a huge array of exclusive rights, including patents on medicines, technology, and plants; copyrights; plant varieties protection; and data protection. These exclusive rights - held almost exclusively by companies of the Global North - have a huge negative impact on the life and developmental opportunities of billions of people.  Furthermore, after a change in the global balance of economic power strong IPRs may have the same negative effect on the economy of the G8 countries.

We have a different vision. We believe that all human beings have the right to benefit from and contribute to the domain of human knowledge. We believe that sharing is more conducive to knowledge than control, that profit is only one motive for the creation of knowledge, and that no person should be denied what she or he needs because of artificial scarcity in any form, including scarcity created by misuse of intellectual property law....

Furthering innovation is vitally important, be it in the areas of breeding, medicines, science, or general technological development. We need systems for the creation of knowledge that guarantee open access to knowledge in all its forms and on all levels but do not overly impede the possibility for users, innovators, creators, and breeders to access those innovations and build upon them like the current system does....

Today's system of science is characterized by publicly funded research being privatized and monopolized: Publishers of scientific journals appropriate copyrights for the majority of scientific papers and knowledge which is subsidized by research funding bodies and universities is patented.

All publicly financed research should be freely available. The new opportunity to disseminate knowledge over the Internet should be used by following the Open Access paradigm. The best research is that which adds to the knowledge commons....

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hong Kong presentations on OA and IRs

The presentations from the conference, The Role of Institutional Repositories in the Open Access Movement (Hong Kong, May 17-18, 2007), are now online.  (Thanks to Colin Steele.)

New public funding agency for Arab science

The United Arab Emirates is setting up a $10 billion foundation --the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation-- to fund scientific research in the Arab world.  For details, see Wagdy Sawahel's May 25 story in SciDev.Net.

Comment.  This seems to be the first research funding agency created in the Arab world since September 2006, when participants in the Second Gulf-Maghreb Scientific Congress (Riyadh, February 25-26, 2006) issued the Riyadh Declaration on Free Access to Scientific and Technological Information.  The new foundation probably hasn't yet considered requiring OA to the results of the research it funds.  But the best time to start the process is now, during the planning stage.  Is anyone in a position to ask the new foundation to follow the principles of the Riyadh Declaration?

Access to data in the humanities

Cathy N. Davidson, Data Mining, Collaboration, and Institutional Infrastructure for Transforming Research and Teaching in the Human Sciences and Beyond, CTWatch Quarterly, May 2007.  (Thanks to Richard Akerman.)  Excerpt:

The first generation of the digital humanities was all about data....

Second-generation digital humanities are the scholarly equivalent of what Tim O’Reilly has dubbed “Web 2.0.” ...

The transformation of archives into interoperable and professionally-constructed digital databases has changed the research and pedagogical questions of our age, by providing the individual researcher almost instantaneous access to far more data than any one person could gather in a lifetime and by allowing more people access to these materials than ever before. Let me give an example of how transformative this has been for teaching and education in the human sciences. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, when I taught courses on mass education, reading, and writing during the highly contentious political period following the American Revolution, I used to have graduate students do archival research in early American newspapers and magazines, some of which were available on microfilm or microfiche, unindexed. A student might have spent a hundred hours rolling the films in the dizzying light of those unwieldy machines....If the student found one good example, it was a successful project. Two examples constituted a triumph. In many cases, the search was so frustrating that the student might well have applied for a scholarship to travel to an archive in New England, such as the American Antiquarian Society, where the resources were far richer.

If I teach that course now, my students can go to searchable data bases of early American imprints, of eighteenth-century European imprints, of South American and (growing) African archives, and of archives in Asia as well. A contemporary student could, in far less time, not only use digitized and indexed archives to search U.S. data bases but could make comparisons across and among popular political movements world-wide....

[C]yberinfrastructure does not simply change the quantity of information. It allows for the conceptualization of more complex, intertwined, and interconnected problems that are as vast as the data bases themselves. However, the immense intellectual ambition of projects enabled by new access to massive data sets is precisely what has spurred the evolution to what I’m calling second-generation digital humanities....

Nature recommends e-notebook science and data sharing

The use of electronic laboratory notebooks should be supported by all concerned, Nature, May 3, 2007.  An unsigned editorial.  (Thanks to Maxine Clarke, whose blog post is collecting comments.)  Excerpt:

The use of electronic laboratory notebooks should be supported by all concerned.

Too often when errors or cases of fraud occur in science, the lab data required to reconstruct what happened have gone astray....

Electronic laboratory notebooks offer a partial solution — and have other advantages too. This is despite the fact that maximizing their benefits will require a change in culture that many researchers will no doubt initially resist.

Electronic notebooks, like their paper cousins, record the daily thoughts and experiments of bench scientists. Ideally, they contain data that flow automatically from lab instruments and can be read by all lab members. Pages are date- and time-stamped, and all changes tracked and signed. Earlier versions can be reconstructed.

There are numerous e-notebook products available, but none dominates in all sectors. The pharmaceutical industry, which is well accustomed to regulation, has adopted company-wide solutions, and the US Food and Drug Administration has determined that the use of electronic notebooks is acceptable in drug filings. This high degree of usage is in stark contrast to academia.

So why bother? Most importantly, e-notebooks allow the sharing of data, to the immediate benefit of collaborators (for examples, see Nature 436, 20; 2005)....

But one can and should go further. Electronic notebooks can be archived by researchers' employers, with a number of attendant benefits. If each notebook (or subset of it) is allocated a unique identifying code — a permanent alphanumeric string containing information about provenance, creation dates and digital location — it can be cited in journals as a confirmation that the data are safely stored, ultimately available and sharable....[Other researchers may also cite it] enabling due credit to be given to the researchers who produced them....

Funding agencies also need to recognize that, by providing such support, some of the concerns over the loss of data can be assuaged, and the rigour and transparency of publicly funded research will be improved.

EU Council of Ministers recommends public access

On May 16, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe issued a Recommendation on the public responsibility for higher education and research.  (Thanks to the INIST Libre Accès blog.)  It recommends that the member states adopt a series of principles.  For us the most relevant is #15:

Public authorities should endeavor to ensure that basic research remains a public good, inter alia through providing adequate funding for basic research, by elaborating and overseeing the implementation of codes of ethical behaviour in research and by seeking to prevent the misuse of research results.  Public authorities should further endeavor to ensure wide public access to research results to which no copyright restrictions apply, as well as to ensure that copyrights are granted and exercised with reason.


  • If this principle recommends OA at all, it's only for uncopyrighted research.  That's nearly all research data but nearly none of the new articles analyzing or interpreting those data.  I'd call it strong on data and weak on literature, but in fact I can't shake the suspicion that the good implication for data is inadvertent.  (If the ministers meant to call for OA to data, couldn't they just say so, as the OECD has?)  For the rest, the principle only recommends reducing irrational copyright behavior without a hint as to what might fall into that category.
  • And why not OA for peer-reviewed articles, or at least those based on publicly-funded research?  A European-wide OA mandate for this category of literature has been recommended by an EC-sponsored study (January 2006), the European Research Council (December 2006), the European Research Advisory Board (January 2007), the European University Association (January 2007), and 25,500+ individual European researchers and research institutions (January-February 2007). It is supported by the EU's eContentPlus program (April 2007) and largely implemented already by the FP7 grant agreement (April 2007). The EC itself has said that it's moving towards OA for this body of literature even if it won't be using a mandate (February 2007). The ministers are way behind other European leaders on this issue.
  • The statement is only available in a locked PDF with cut/paste turned off.  If I want to share the principle on sharing, I have to re-key it.  Can we expect the ministers to be very energetic in pushing these principles when their medium contradicts their message?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Whose consent is needed to make human genome data OA?

Sandra Porter, Open Access vs. genetic privacy, Discovering Biology in a Digital World, May 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Will open access impede science by limiting genetic studies with families? ...

The April ALPSP conference began with songs for the open access choir. Microsoft's Lee Dirks painted visions of a utopian future where everything will be open, labs shall be judged by the worthiness of their databases, and even scientists will learn to share.  According to Dirks, "Open access to scientific content, specifically data, will become the norm." ...

But Dirks might be right. I learned from The Genetic Genealogist that a bit more DNA sequence data will be coming our way since James Watson and 454 plan to make his genome publicly available.

Whose genome is it anyway?

As I sat in the audience, it struck me that open access to data isn't an open and shut question. Many of the people who spoke about open access seemed unaware that there is another movement working to restrict it.

In fact, despite some of the statements and policies from one part of the NIH supporting open data, there are other forces in the NIH, ethical standards, and ironically the very groups funded through the human genome ELSI program that work to restrict access to genetic information. (The ELSI program was established by Watson to study the ethical, legal, and social implications of the human genome project.)


Isn't Watson's genome his own? Doesn't he have the right to decide what's to be done with it?  That is the question, isn't it?

If Watson has children, they share at least half of his genes and some of those genes may be connected with genetic disease. Does he really have the right to make information, about other individuals, known to the world?

Perhaps. But the NIH has rules for protection of human subjects and releasing his genome to the public runs smack up against one rule called "informed consent" and the privacy rule in a law known as HIPAA. If the Watson genome project were funded by the NIH, instead of privately, Watson would have to follow the same rules as NIH-funded researchers. His children would have to give their consent and agree to make the information public.

Comment.  Hard questions.  The best work to date on balancing medical privacy with OA to medical data is Expanding Access to Research Data: Reconciling Risks and Opportunities (from the National Research Council Panel on Data Access for Research Purposes, October 2005).  But it relies heavily on anonymizing data.  Genome data can be anonymized, but a genome that James Watson releases as James Watson's cannot be anonymized.

Connecting OA to larger issues

Jim Till, Linkage of OA to larger causes, Be openly accessible or be obscure, May 27, 2007.  Excerpt:

In Trends favoring open access (SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #109, 2 May 2007), Peter Suber...outlined a number (I counted 26) of trends that are favorable to OA. I’ll add another trend that I didn’t see mentioned explicitly in Peter’s list: the increasing likelihood of linkages between OA and larger issues, such as climate change. An example of such a linkage is provided in Speaking Out on Global Warming, by Jeremy Elton Jacquot, Los Angeles, 26 May 2007. Excerpts:

In a fascinating article published in the open access journal Environmental Research Letters, James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York argues that widespread “scientific reticence” poses a threat to the future well-being of the planet by hindering a necessary conversation between scientists and the public over potentially large sea level rises. He points out that any delay in the discussion carries tremendous risk as system inertias could precipitate a situation in which future sea level changes careen out of control.

In laying out his case against scientific reticence, Hansen cites numerous studies that sought to examine this “resistance to scientists to scientific discovery” and this tendency to “delay discount” out of concern for being the one to erroneously “cry wolf.” In essence, as do most individuals, scientists prefer immediate over delayed gratification, a practice that Hansen believes “may contribute to irrational reticence even among rational scientists” (for full list of cited references, see original article here [J E Hansen, Environ. Res. Lett. 2007(Apr-Jun); 2(2)]).

The lack of more than a passive interest in OA by many scientists has also been a major reason for the delays in the acceptance of OA in several fields of science....As Peter Suber noted in Nature debate, 10 June 2004, “…the single largest obstacle to OA is author inertia or omission“. Why is there such inertia? I’ll not try to identify all of the probable reasons here, but will focus on one that was identified by James Hansen (see above): a preference for immediate over delayed rewards. Publication in a high-profile journal, whether it’s OA or not, provides immediate gratification for scientists, in their role as authors....

Because of the lack by many scientists of much more than a passive interest in OA, I’ll argue that the linkage of OA to larger issues may be an increasingly important determinant of a wider acceptance of OA....

Perhaps advocates for OA should begin to think about strategies for fostering linkages between OA and larger causes (while continuing to advocate researcher-oriented strategies, such as institutional and funding agency-based OA mandates)? One example: social bookmarking sites, such as Connotea, may be used to tag information that’s relevant both to OA and to other issues. As of today (27 May 2007), 1142 Connotea bookmarks carry the tag “open access“. And, 131 Connotea bookmarks carry the tag “global warming“. However, at present, only one bookmark carries both tags. It’s to the article Speaking Out on Global Warming (see above). In fact, I put it there today.

PS:  I like the idea of using tags to show the connection between OA and large issues like climate change and avian flu.  Articulating the connection in blogs, discussion forums, and journal articles is indispensable, but tags can make these articulations visible to scientists and citizens tracking new developments on large issues.

OA ebooks on pregnancy and maternal health

Catherine Ebenezer has made a list of OA ebooks on midwifery and maternity services.

Special issue of OCLC Systems and Services devoted to IRs

The new issue of OCLC Systems & Services (vol. 23, no. 2, 2007) is devoted to institutional repositories.  Unfortunately, only abstracts are free online for non-subscribers, at least so far.

More interview comments from Margaret Henty's survey of repository managers

Margaret Henty interviewed Australian repository managers for her article, Ten Major Issues in Providing a Repository Service in Australian Universities (D-Lib, May/June 2007, blogged here 5/16/07), but couldn't include all their comments in the published version.  She has now posted the extended interview comments online.

ChemRefer and ChemSpider bond

Antony Williams, Open Access Chemistry Articles - ChemRefer and ChemSpider Nuptials, ChemSpider Blog, May 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

There are tens of thousands of open access chemistry articles now available via the web and the work of thought-leaders such as Will Griffiths at ChemRefer is making these articles accessible with simple searches. Bringing together structure based searches of the ChemSpider database with the text-based searches of ChemRefer seemed like a natural marriage, so down the aisle we went.

When you come to the home page of ChemSpider you will now see the link to ChemRefer as we are now hosting an instance of the system. We presently offer access to over 50,000 Open Access Articles and will be working with Will to expand this list in the foreseeable future.

The ChemSpider database has now crossed 14.5 million structures and we will shortly be using text-linking to connect some of these structures to the ChemRefer indexed Open Access articles as a future part of a project for deeper integration with ChemRefer.

The team of people working together to develop ChemSpider is about to expand to six people - a team generally working only in their spare time to develop a system that hopes to contribute value to the Open Access Chemistry community. If you’d like to join the ChemSpider effort please contact us and let us know your interests and how you might want to contribute. At present we are looking for new property predictors to add to the system , the possibility to generate 3D coordinates for the molecules contained with the database and sources of new data to add to the database.

Canada is missing an opportunity for OA to publicly-funded research (and why)

Michael Geist, Science and Tech Strategy a Missed Opportunity, Toronto Star, May 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

Earlier this month, Canada's top government leaders, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Industry Minister Maxime Bernier, and Finance Minister Jim Flahery unveiled the government's new science and technology strategy....

While much of the plan still deserves support - Canada leads the G-7 countries in public research - it ultimately represents a missed opportunity. Maximizing the value of Canada's investment in research requires...[that] publicly-funded scientific data and research results flow into the hands of researchers, businesses, and individuals.

In fact, given a recent Australian study that found that a five percent increase in access and efficient use of research results could deliver A$628 million in economic and social benefits, a top government priority in this area should involve moving beyond stale "commercialization" rhetoric by actually facilitating the use - whether for commercial or non-commercial purposes - of government-sponsored research.

Achieving that goal requires action on two fronts. First, the government should identify the raw, scientific data currently under its control and set it free. Implementing expensive or onerous licensing conditions for this publicly-funded data runs counter to the goals of commercialization and to government accountability for taxpayer expenditures.

Ottawa has already taken some important steps in this direction. Last month, it announced that Natural Resources Canada was making its electronic topographic mapping data available to all users free of charge over the Internet. The topographic data, which can be accessed at the aptly-named GeoGratis, provides information on the location of landscape features - such as lakes, rivers and elevations as well as roads, railways and administrative boundaries....

Second, Ottawa must pressure the three federal research granting institutions to build open access requirements into their research mandates. With over a billion dollars invested each year by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), an exceptionally important opportunity to enhance the benefits of publicly-funded research is being lost due to Canadian inaction on the open access issue.

In fact, according to internal correspondence and documents recently obtained under the Access to Information Act, it is becoming increasingly apparent that a Canadian open access strategy will only [come] to fruition with leadership from the federal government.

While CIHR is expected to conclude an open access plan this year and the SSHRC recently launched a pilot project for funding of electronic journals, internal documents reveal that both agencies continue to face stiff opposition from the publishing community. For example, as CIHR was consulting last year on its open access plans, former Industry Minister John Manley facilitated a meeting between the CIHR President and senior executives from Reed Elsevier, one of the world's largest publishers, to allow them to express their concerns with the health research open access initiative.

Meanwhile, SSHRC documents suggest that there is support for open access among the Council staff members, yet an open access plan was partly short-circuited by external opposition from publishers such as the University of Toronto Press, Canada's largest and oldest scholarly press, which last year received over a quarter million dollars in government handouts as part of the Book Publishing Industry Development Program.

Most discouragingly, NSERC, the leading science funding agency in Canada, has not taken any position on open access. Indeed, internal NSERC documents reveal that Council personnel repeatedly admit that open access is not a priority....

Canadians and Canadian researchers deserve better. The path toward making Canada a world leader through science and technology should include a strong commitment to facilitating the use of, and access to, publicly funded research and government-sponsored scientific data.


  1. The pattern is dismayingly similar from country to country:  publishers who oppose OA, and who oppose the public interest in maximizing the utility of publicly-funded research, have inside access to policy-makers, while supporters of OA and the public interest must plead their case from the outside.  Often the doors of power are opened to publisher lobbyists by other policy-makers who know nothing about scholarly communication issues but are determined to help business lobbies regardless of the consequences for research, agency goals, or taxpayer return on investment.
  2. Kudos to Geist for using the Canadian Access to Information Act to unearth some of the back story here.  Recall December 2005 when David Prosser of SPARC Europe used the UK Freedom of Information Act to discover that while Lord David Sainsbury (the UK Under-Secretary of State for Science at the time) was considering a Parliamentary recommendation for OA, he met with OA opponents roughly twice as often as with OA proponents, and met with the Reed Elsevier CEO three times more often than with any other stakeholder.  Also recall February 2007 when a press release from the STM inadvertently revealed that the publisher group had seen an advance copy of the EC's Communication on OA.  (OA activists and the public had to wait for its official release.)  The lesson:  don't assume that your public servants are serving the public.  Use freedom of information tools in your country to monitor them.
  3. I'm surprised by the University of Toronto action.  UT is the home of Project Open Source | Open Access (POSOA), one of the strongest and most effective OA programs at any university.   It was also one of the first members of the Open Content Alliance.  This appears to be a case in which one arm of a large institution doesn't know what another arm is doing. 

Update.  This Geist column also appears in P2PNet, his web site, and his blog.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Researcher secrecy and sharing

Tony Jewels and Marilyn Ford, Factors Influencing Knowledge Sharing in Information Technology Projects, e-Service Journal, Fall 2006.  (Despite the date, this seems to be the latest issue of the journal.) 

Abstract:   Even though today’s corporations recognize they need to understand modern project management techniques, many researchers continue to provide evidence of poor success in information technology (IT) projects. Given that project performance is known to be positively associated with project knowledge, a better understanding of how to effectively manage knowledge in IT projects should have considerable practical significance for increasing the chances of project success. Using a combined qualitative/quantitative method of data collection in multiple case studies spanning four continents and comprising a variety of organizational types, the focus of this current research centered on the question of why individuals working within IT project teams might be motivated towards, or inhibited from, sharing their knowledge and experience in their activities, procedures, and processes. The research concluded with the development of a new theoretical model of knowledge sharing behavior, the Alignment Model of Motivational Focus. This model suggests that an individual’s propensity to share knowledge and experience is a function of perceived personal benefits and costs associated with the activity, balanced against the individual’s alignment to a group of institutional factors. These factors are identified as alignments to the project team, to the organization, and, dependent on the circumstances, to either the professional discipline or community of practice to which the individual belongs.

OA for state appellate court decisions: only Alabama is left

Alabama is talking about OA for appellate court decisions.  Details in today's column by Dana Beyerle in the Tuscaloosa News:

The state law library at the Alabama Judicial Building wants to put appellate court opinions online for free. Opinions now are available electronically for a fee, for free [in print] at the law library or online at county courthouses. The Web site Talking Silk reported that Alabama is the only state that doesn’t provide free, online access to state appellate decisions....Talking Silk quoted Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, saying that charging for the service restricts access and is poor public policy. “When it comes to opinions of court, which articulate the law that all of us are supposed to follow, we shouldn’t have to pay a toll to find out what the law is," Scheer said. Subscription service revenues support the Alabama Law Library, said state law Librarian Tim Lewis. He said the library will provide an opinion for free if someone can’t pay. Lewis said the subscription service is “mainly" for lawyers who want case opinions the day they’re released. Scheer said taxpayers should bear the cost....

Update. The correct name of Beyerle's source is Taking Silk, and here's the story itself: Stephanie Hoops, Alabama only state charging public to view appellate opinions, May 21, 2007. An excerpt, focusing on details Beyerle omitted:

In Tuscaloosa, Ala., lawyer Mike Comer feels everyone in Alabama should have free access to the decisions of the state’s appellate courts.

“They already have to pay lawyers,” he said. “Why should they have to pay to read opinions?”

Keith Norman, executive director of the Alabama State Bar said he does not believe Alabamians are up in arms about Alalinc’s fees. He said there is a large network of county law libraries that have computer databases hooked up to major online research providers, so people are taken care of.

“People that need that information who otherwise don’t have access can go to county law libraries,” he said. “They can get the books and they have subscriptions with the online research services.”

Back in Montgomery, [Director and State Law Librarian Timothy Lewis] said the State Law Library is planning to soon launch a new Web site offering the opinions free of charge.

That was news to Norman at the state bar.

Lewis said: “We are rolling out a new Web site in the fall that will have cases available at no cost.”

Review of the publishers' study of the OA impact advantage

Stevan Harnad, Craig et al.'s Review of Studies on the OA Citation Advantage, Open Access Archivangelism, May 26, 2007.

Summary:  The thrust of Craig et al.'s critical review (which was proposed by the Publishing Research Consortium and conducted by the staff of three publishers) is that despite the fact that virtually all studies comparing the citation counts for OA and non-OA articles keep finding the OA citation counts to be higher, it has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the relationship is causal.

I agree: It is merely highly probable, not proved beyond a reasonable doubt. And I also agree that not one of the studies done so far is without some methodological flaw that could be corrected. But it is also highly probable that the results of the methodologically flawless versions of all those studies will be much the same as the results of the current studies. That's what happens when you have a robust major effect, detected by virtually every study, and only ad hoc methodological cavils and special pleading to rebut each of them with. Here is a common sense overview:

(1) Research quality is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for citation impact: The research must also be accessible to be cited.

(2) Research accessibility is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for citation impact: The research must also be of sufficient quality to be cited.

(3) The OA impact effect is the finding that an article's citation counts are positively correlated with the probability that that article has been made OA: The more an article's citations, the more likely that that article has been made OA.

(4) That correlation has at least three (compatible) causal interpretations:
(4a) OA articles are more likely to be cited.
(4b) More-cited articles are more likely to be made OA.
(4c) A third factor makes it more likely that certain articles will be both more cited and made OA.

(5) Each of these causal interpretations is probably correct, and hence a contributor to the OA impact effect:
(5a) The better the article, the more likely it is to be cited, hence the more citations it gains if it is made more accessible (4a). (OA Article Quality Advantage, QA)
(5b) The better the article, the more likely it is to be made OA (4b). (OA Article Quality Bias, QB)
(5c) 10% of articles (and authors) receive 90% of citations. The authors of the better articles know they are better, and hence are more likely both to be cited and to make their articles OA, so as to maximize their visibility, accessibility and citations (4c). (OA Author QB and QA)

(6) In addition to QB and QA, there is an OA Early Access effect (EA): providing access earlier increases citations.

(7) The OA citation studies have not yet isolated and estimated the relative sizes of each of these (and other) contributing components. (OA also gives a Download Advantage (DA), and downloads are correlated with later citations; OA articles also have a Competitive Advantage (CA), but CA will vanish -- along with QB -- when all articles are OA).

(8) But the handwriting is on the wall as to the benefits of making articles OA, for those with eyes to see, and no conflicting interests to blind them.

Given all of this, here is a challenge for Craig et al: Instead of striving, like OJ Simpson's Dream Team, only to find flaws in the positive evidence for the OA impact differential, which is equally compatible with either interpretation (OA causes higher citations or higher citations cause OA) why don't Craig et al. do a simple study of their own? Since it is known that (in science) the top 10% of articles published receive 90% of the total citations made, why not test whether and to what extent the top 10% of articles published is over-represented among the c. 15% of articles that are being spontaneously made OA by their authors today? It is, after all, a logical possibility that all or most of the top 10% are already among the 15% that are being made OA: I think it's improbable; but it may repay Craig et al's effort to check whether it is so. 

For if it did turn out that all or most of the top-cited 10% of articles are already among the c.15% of articles that are already being made OA, then reaching 100% OA would be far less urgent and important than I have been arguing, and OA mandates would likewise be less important. I for one would no longer find it important enough to archivangelize if I knew it was just for the bottom 90% of articles, the top 10% of articles having already been self-archived, spontaneously and sensibly, by their top 10% authors without having to be mandated. But it is Craig et al. who think this is closer to the truth, not me. So let them go out and demonstrate it.