Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Kirtas-BookSurge book digitization program

There's a new book digitization project from Kirtas Technologies, maker of a book-scanning machine, and BookSurge, a subsidiary of Amazon specializing in print-on-demand (POD).  Two academic libraries and two public libraries (Emory University, the University of Maine, the Toronto Public Library, and the Cincinnati Public Library) will digitize some of their rare public-domain books and sell POD versions through Amazon.  More libraries will join the project over time.

I blogged the Emory project when it was announced in early June because Emory said it would provide online access to its copies of the digital books.  But I didn't initially blog the larger project when it launched two days ago because none of the public sources suggested an OA connection.  Apart from Emory, it looked like an all-POD project. 

However, I just learned from Joyce Rumery, Dean of Libraries at the University of Maine, that Maine will provide free online access to its copies of the books. 

(Emory didn't say it would provide free online access to the digital books.  But either that's what it meant by online access or at least the Maine policy shows that the Kirtas-BookSurge terms allow participating libraries to offer free online access.)

That changes everything.  Now that there's an OA connection, I can blog it.  Here's some of the press:

  • Press release from BookSurge, June 21, 2007
  • Article in Library Journal Academic Newswire, June 21, 2007
  • Article by Dan Carnevale in the Chronicle of Higher Education, June 22, 2007 (subscribers only)

From the BookSurge press release, the most detailed of the public sources to date:

BookSurge...and Kirtas announced a collaboration with universities and public libraries to preserve thousands of rare and inaccessible books from their collections and distribute them via BookSurge's Print-on-Demand service. This collaboration, which will greatly enhance the selection of rare and historic books for sale on and other retail channels, represents a breakthrough approach to digitization and preservation that will ensure the public will have access to these works indefinitely via Print on Demand. This initiative will also help these institutions fund their mission of preserving these vast literary collections by offering a revenue source from the sales of content these institutions own or that is in the public domain on

Emory University, University of Maine, Toronto Public Library, and Cincinnati Public Library are the first organizations to enter into agreements with Kirtas to make their rare-book collections available to a readership that extends far beyond their physical geographies to include an audience of millions of customers. This preservation effort is the only method that allows university and public libraries to preserve books and print them on demand as they are ordered. Participating institutions retain full control over what is digitized, so they now have an economical way to preserve, reproduce and distribute important works that may be disappearing from their shelves....

Kirtas is helping to fund this preservation effort by discounting the costs associated with this program for select research universities and public libraries....


  • Kudos to Maine for its commitment to free online access, and kudos to Emory for what appears to be the same commitment.  (I don't yet know the access policies at the Toronto and Cincinnati public libraries.)  Kudos to BookSurge/Amazon for not fearing that OA editions would preclude sales of the POD editions and demanding some contract terms to bar them.  And kudos to Kirtas for discounting its prices to make this program possible.
  • Why would Emory and Maine go with this new initiative rather than the Google Library Project or the Open Content Alliance?  They don't say but I can guess.  They prefer the Kirtas-BookSurge project to the Google project because they can keep their own copies of the files and provide OA to them.  They prefer it to the OCA because the sales of the POD editions will pay their digitization expenses.  
  • In April 2007, the Cornell University library launched a similar project:  digitizing its rare public-domain books, providing OA to the digital editions, and offering BookSurge POD editions for sale through Amazon.  I don't know why it's not mentioned as part of the same program.  Perhaps it doesn't use a Kirtas machine.
  • Note to libraries and news media:  free online access to full-text books, especially rare books, is at least as newsworthy as POD access to them.  When it's part of a new digitization program, please mention it!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Milestone for PubMed Central

PMC now hosts more than 1,000,000 free online full-text research articles.  From yesterday's press release:

PubMed Central (PMC), NLM's free digital archive of full-text journal articles, reached the one million-article mark the week of June 18. The millionth article reportedly came from the American Journal of Pathology. Now in its seventh year, PMC is enhanced each week with articles from over 350 important life sciences journals whose publishers have agreed to deposit current issues. All of the content submitted to PMC is converted to a normalized electronic format for long-term storage and display on the web.

Many of the participating publishers have also benefited from the PMC Back Issue Digitization Project, where NLM scans older issues from cover to cover, starting with volume 1, and creates PubMed citations for articles that are not in PubMed. Jointly sponsored by the Wellcome Trust and Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the UK, the NLM scanning project has collected and collated over 5 million pages of material. As of June 2007, these scanned articles accounted for 675,000 of the million articles in PMC....

OA project from Springer and library consortium

Springer and Dutch library consortium to cooperate in open access initiative, a press release from the Dutch UKB (Universiteitsbibliotheken en de Koninklijke Bibliotheek), June 21, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Dutch consortium of research libraries, UKB, and Springer have signed a letter of intent to the effect that they will jointly explore the potential of open access publishing. This is the first time a prominent scientific publisher and a consortium of research libraries explicitly join forces on an open access initiative.

UKB strongly supports the open access model for scientific publishing as a means to stimulate the widespread use and re-use of scientific information, because payment of an "article processing charge" ensures universal free access to the published information. Springer has developed its Open Choice-programme to meet increased demand by scientists for open access publication, while at the same time demonstrating the considerable added value of formal publishers and journals....

The letter of intent signed by UKB en Springer is therefore designed to:

  1. allow authors to gain experience with open access publishing in existing, established journals;
  2. allow open access media to build a solid scientific reputation;
  3. gain experience with the economic viability of the business model whereby the publisher is paid for publication (at the point of input: pay-to-publish) rather than for access to content (at the point of output: subscriptions or access licenses)....

The letter of intent contains four elements:

  1. Within the framework of the existing licensing agreement with UKB, Springer undertakes to offer free and immediate world-wide access to articles which have been accepted for publication in one of Springer's journals in 2007 by corresponding authors whose main affiliation is with one of the UKB members;
  2. Springer allows for simultaneous publication of the articles in the open access institutional repositories of UKB members (DARE);
  3. In the course of 2007, UKB and Springer will negotiate a long-term open access agreement;
  4. The intention of both UKB and Springer is to evaluate the arrangement, which is seen as a pilot, with all stakeholders, and to actively disseminate the outcome of the evaluation....

Also see the press release in Dutch

Comment.  This has interesting potential, but we'll have to wait for more details before we know what's new here.  Springer authors can already get immediate OA for their articles if they pay Springer's publication fee.  The announcement suggests that Springer's OA authors from UKB-member institutions will get OA from the moment of acceptance.  But am I reading that correctly?  Would that create two OA editions, one copy-edited and one not?  What does it mean to limit this offer to the "framework of the existing licensing agreement with UKB"?  Will Springer also offer fee waivers to its OA authors from UKB-member institutions?  Springer already allows deposit of its OA articles in DARE repositories.  (Indeed, with some qualifications it allows deposit of its non-OA articles.)  The "long-term open access agreement" between Springer and UKB isn't specified, but my guess is that it will include trusted preservation for Springer's digital publications.  I'll post more when I know more.

Update. Inge Angevaare, Executive Secretary of the UKB, has sent me helpful answers to my questions. (Thanks, Inge.) First, Springer will waive publication fees for authors from UKB-member institutions. Second, the OA articles under this program will be copy-edited and become OA at the moment of publication.

Some SURF/DARE OA activities in 2006

The Dutch SURF Foundation has released its Annual Report for 2006.  From the SURF blog summary:

...The DARE programme was completed in late 2006. DAREnet, containing more than 110,000 publications, was transferred to the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) on 1 January 2007. Among the highly successful results of the DARE programme are the “Promise of Science” site, a repository of more than 13,000 doctoral dissertations by Dutch PhDs, and the HBO Knowledge Bank, with more than 5,000 final papers by graduates of Dutch universities of applied sciences....

SPARC will honor videos on info sharing

SPARC video contest to showcase student views on information sharing, a press release from SPARC, June 21, 2007.  Excerpt:

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) today announced the first SPARC Discovery Awards, a contest that will recognize the best new short videos illustrating the importance of sharing information and ideas.

The contest...encourages new voices to join the public discussion of information policy in the age of the Internet. Contestants are asked to submit videos of two minutes or less that imaginatively show the benefits of bringing down barriers to the free exchange of information. While designed for adoption as a college or high school class assignment, the SPARC Discovery Awards are open to anyone over the age of 13. Submissions will be accepted beginning in mid-July and must be received by December 2, 2007. Winners will be announced in January 2008.

The Winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000 along with a “Sparky Award.” Two Runners Up will each receive $500 plus a personalized award certificate....All the award-winning videos will be publicly screened during the January 2008 American Library Association Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia.

“The YouTube generation has a critical stake in how information can be used and shared on the Internet,” said SPARC Executive Director Heather Joseph. “The SPARC Discovery Awards provide an outlet for their views and an opportunity for the rest of us to understand their perspectives. We hope these videos will help spark an expanded, informed, and energetic discussion.” ...

The contest takes as its inspiration a quote from George Bernard Shaw: “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” ...

Presentations on the evolution of scientific publications

Videos of the presentations at the meeting of the French Académie des sciences, Evolution des publications scientifiques (Paris, May 14-15, 2007), are now online.  Several are on OA.  (Thanks to the INIST Libre Accès blog.)

Spanish research council converts 12 journals to OA

Spain's Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (or Spanish National Research Council, CSIC) has converted 12 of its 32 journals to OA and plans to convert the rest.  The OA conversion program is CSIC's way of following through on its decision, in January 2006, to sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access.  (Thanks to NetBib.)

On the journal conversions, read the announcements in Spanish or in Google's English (the first 12 and the rest).

John Willinsky's talk at JCDL

Judith Bush has blogged some notes on John Willinsky's keynote ("Sorting and Classifying the Open Access Issues for Digital Libraries") at JCDL 2007 (Vancouver, June 18-23, 2007).  Excerpt:

John Willinsky’s talk, an acknowledged “preaching to the converted,” was lovely and inspiring. It was not just his enthusiasm for the mission of libraries, access and preservation, but also his faith in the result of democratic access, his faith in humanity to — in general — do the right thing....

“We have not yet begun to plumb the depth of public interest in research”

Why are Open Journals, Open Data important? JW provides three rights which open access supports, the principles on which we should rest our support.

(1) The Right to Know, a human right included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Open publishing online makes information available to everyone. He describes a discussion with policy researchers in Ottawa: what resources had they used in the past? They’d call the faculty members they had in the past — research by cronyism is how JW referred to it. (And i suggest that there’s evidence that journalists essentially have their network of folks they call.) Now though, the Ottawa policy researchers search on-line finding the open access research. Building on a poster from last night, he refers to the “fingerprints” of ideas (as opposed to citation “impact”) and notes as motivation to researchers that if they wish to leave their fingerprints on the future they improve the possibility by publishing openly.

(2) The Right to Participate, more journals filling out the spectrum of authority and audience opens the possibility for more participants in scholarly discourse. It’s hard for me to pull out particular issues here — i am such a convert to the value and process of open participation. Influenced by my thoughts about the participation of women in physics, from the value open software development has brought to me, to the education and pleasure reading openly published blogs, novels, graphic novels, articles, movies…. I do what i can to give back in that economy....

(3) Academic Freedom....The story JW tells is of a Canadian medical journal and the run of events where the journal published an examination of how Plan B prescriptions were handled by pharmacists (somewhat critical review), the protest from the professional association of pharmacists, the medical association’s firing of the editors. JW notes, who would have thought that one would need to have academic freedom protected from an academic society? ...

Someone spoke up about the proceedings — they should be open. Oh, ACM and IEEE would never allow it....

Not — we *are* the ACM (or IEEE). We need to carry Willinsky’s call back to our professional societies. We need to take on that model he offered, where libraries support journals (not purchase them) and have our societies work to transition to a different publishing model.

I suppose i should write a letter.

Update. Also see Carol Minton Morris's notes on the same talk.

Update. Also see Deborah Kaplan's notes.

Google's Public Sector initiative

Rob Garner, Public Data Gone Wild: The Google Public Sector Initiative, SearchInsider, June 20, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Last month, the folks in Mountain View made an announcement that offered more insight into the Public Sector initiative, which focuses on working with various U.S. government agencies to make federal, state and local public data more accessible to its citizens, and is also likely to shake up the online reputation management world.

The first state governments that Google will partner with include Arizona, California, Utah and Virginia, and the charge is to increase the crawlability of their respective Web sites and invisible databases for all major search engines - not just Google - via the protocol....

In effect, Google’s efforts will result in the wider broadcasting of public data into the results pages of the major search engines, representing one of the biggest steps in the accessibility and distribution of pubic information since governments began making data accessible on Web sites.

J.L. Needham, manager of the Public Sector initiative, elaborated on the types of data the company is looking for: “Google is not seeking to make any specific type of information in a public government database accessible to search engine users — we’re intent on making all such information accessible,” said Needham. “So, this includes property records, court records, reports from a department of education on school performance, a health department’s licensing records from medical practitioners, RFPs from a housing authority, a workforce services agency’s job postings service, and on down [the] list of the dozens of governmental information services. If it’s public information and not in a search engine, it’s the target of Google’s initiative.”

Needham also pointed out that Google is only seeking data intended by the government to be truly public....

The implications are tremendous on a variety of fronts, including the potential for access to previously obscured databases, increased transparency of government data, and the provision of stiff competition from search engines to companies that profit from fee-based public data access. There is also potential for citizens to collaboratively assist the government in helping to scrub incorrect information, or remove data that is not intended to be public, such as Social Security numbers....

As Needham also said, “We should expect all information made public by our government to be truly public, which means accessibility through search engines.” ...

July issue of Learned Publishing

The July issue of Learned Publishing is now online.  Here are the OA-related articles.  Unless indicated otherwise, only abstracts are free online, at least so far.

  • Sanford G. Thatcher, The challenge of open access for university presses.  Abstract:  University presses were founded in the late 19th century to help alleviate a problem of market failure, namely insufficient demand in the commercial marketplace to sustain a publishing operation on the basis of sales alone. Now, in the face of claims about another type of market failure - insufficient funds to sustain library subscriptions to STM journals - calls have come forth to change the economic model of publishing from sales-based to grants-based, offering the fruits of knowledge free to all users with an Internet connection. This paper examines both the challenges and the opportunities that the variants of 'open access' present to university presses, as they seek to fulfill their traditional mission of disseminating knowledge 'far and wide' while remaining sustainable as businesses.

  • Paul Peters, Going all the way: how Hindawi became an open access publisher.  Full-text OA.  Abstract:  As the Hindawi Publishing Corporation approaches its tenth anniversary, the author looks back at the history of Hindawi and examines a number of challenges that the company has faced over the past decade. These challenges include the rapid expansion of the company's workforce, the establishment of a standard editorial system for its journals, and the conversion of Hindawi's entire operation to an open access publication model. Although some of Hindawi's characteristics may not be common among other publishers, many of the challenges that Hindawi has faced are the result of recent developments within the scholarly publishing market that have implications for the entire industry.

  • Saskia C.J. De Vries, From sailing boat to steamship: the role of the publisher in an open access environment.  Abstract:  The Internet has been a huge success in the academic world, as it makes it possible for academics to share and find research materials; open access has therefore become a fact of life for academic publishing. But what is the role of publishers in this new environment? The key functions of publishing - organizing peer review, editorial support, graphic design, marketing, and distribution of academic information - do not just disappear; publishers still have a role here, but they need to take a more service-minded perspective. Academics still need to find ways to ensure the dissemination of their output; it is important that they realize that this will cost money, whether it is brought in-house or outsourced. The IMISCOE project, on which Amsterdam University Press has recently embarked, offers an entirely new publishing model oriented towards online dissemination of academic research results, as well as in book form.

  • David Goodman, Sarah Dowson, and Jean Yaremchuk, Open access and accuracy: author-archived manuscripts vs. published articles.  Abstract:  Some approaches to open access (OA) use authors' manuscript copies for the OA version, in the form accepted after peer review but prior to full editing. Advocates of such approaches are certain that these versions differ only trivially from the publishers' versions; many of those who oppose them are equally certain that there can be major discrepancies. In a pilot study, we have examined the actual differences in a small number of such article pairs in the social sciences and in biology. Using an operational classification of the extent of error, we have determined that neither pronouncement is likely to be correct. We found numerous small differences that affect readability; we also found a low frequency of potentially confusing errors, but sometimes it was the publisher's and sometimes the manuscript version that was more accurate. In two cases errors introduced by the publisher omit technical details that are necessary to evaluate the validity of the conclusions. However, we found no error that actually affected the validity of the data or results. Interestingly, we did find problems with the stability of the document locations on authors' sites, and, in some cases, with their disappearance from PubMed Central after initial placement there.
         Update. See the self-archived OA edition.

  • Karen Shashok, How might open access become sustainable?  (No abstract.)

  • Peter Suber, Letter to the editor.  Not OA from the journal, but I've posted an OA copy to SOAF.

New impact factors for PLoS journals

From Mark Patterson, PLoS Director of Publishing, on the PLoS blog:

The 2006 impact factors have just been released by Thompson ISI. The first two PLoS journals continue to perform very well: 14.1 for PLoS Biology (14.7 in 2006); 13.8 for PLoS Medicine (8.4 in 2006). The PLoS community-run journals also received their first impact factors: 4.9 for PLoS Computational Biology; 7.7 for PLoS Genetics; and 6.0 for PLoS Pathogens. (Note that the latter impact factors are based on only around six months worth of publications in 2005, and are likely to increase next year.)

Although the impact factor is an over-used and abused measure of scientific quality, it is a journal metric that is important for the research community, and so until there are alternatives, PLoS has to pay attention to the impact factor....

Thursday, June 21, 2007

More on Nature Precedings

Another OA journal rises to the top of its impact category

Malaria Journal Ranks Number One in Field of Tropical Medicine, a press release from BioMed Central.  Excerpt:

BioMed Central, the world’s largest publisher of open access scientific journals, today announced that its Malaria Journal is the most highly cited journal in the field of Tropical Medicine, according to the latest impact factors in the newly published 2006 Journal Citation Report....

Malaria Journal, launched by BioMed Central in 2002, is the only scientific journal dedicated exclusively to malaria research. Its 2006 impact factor of 2.75, up from 2.14 in 2005, makes it the number one ranked journal in the field of Tropical Medicine, up from number two in 2005. Malaria Journal also ranked as the fifth most-cited journal in the field of Parasitology for the second year in a row. These impressive rankings recognize the unique contribution made by Malaria Journal to the fast-growing field of Tropical Medicine, and underline the importance of freely available, open access research to practitioners and researchers working in the developing world.

Some additional highlights from this year’s impact factor rankings include the first-ever impact factor for BMC Immunology.  With an impact factor of 3.04, BMC Immunology was ranked earlier than expected, underlining the journal’s quality and value to the scientific community. The journal Arthritis Research and Therapy improved its impact factor, increasing from 3.48 to 3.80. The new score makes it the sixth most-cited journal in the field of Rheumatology, up from the eighth in 2005. In addition, BMC Evolutionary Biology's impact factor of 4.45 makes it the 6th most highly cited journal in the Evolutionary Biology category for the second year in a row.
The median impact factor for all BioMed Central journals rose from 2.71 to 2.74....

“These impact factors and rankings once again demonstrate that BioMed Central journals successfully combine open access with high quality peer-reviewed publication,” said Matthew Cockerill, publisher of BioMed Central. “Malaria Journal’s achievement in becoming the most highly cited journal in the field of Tropical Medicine within just 5 years is an impressive testament to the commitment and dedication of its Editor-in-Chief, Marcel Hommel, and to the critical importance of open access to the latest research relevant to global health issues.” ...

PS:  Congratulations to the whole MJ team.

More open data on carbon emissions

The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has launched a carbon footprint calculator that uses open-source software to generate open data on carbon emissions.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)  From the DEFRA press release:

The software that runs the calculator, complete with the Government data, will be made freely available under general public licence. This will enable others wanting to use the software to power their own calculators, using their own branding.

Defra is encouraging everyone to use the calculator, to become more aware of their carbon dioxide emissions, and to take action on ways to reduce it. We are also keen to receive feedback about how the calculator can be improved.

From another DEFRA page on the calculator:

The project provides transparency in methodology and data as a goal in its own right but also to assist the development of similar calculators. Detailed information about the methodology is available [here].

Comment.  Kudos to DEFRA.  For a similar project, see the Zerofootprint carbon calculator, which also generates open data and which forms the basis of the BusinessObjects challenge, Can Open Data Save the World?

Open education in India

Education to get new edge with access to resources, Express India, June 19, 2007.

Students and teachers across the state will soon have access to quality education anytime, anywhere, and just at the click of a mouse. In a unique project, a statewide consortium of 15 organisations and educational institutes will launch Virtual Schools and Learning Home (VSLH) project, which will include various initiatives based on principles like open educational resources for all, and learning through independent exploration and self-organised groups.

The Indian Consortium for Educational Transformation (ICONSENT) consists of institutions like the Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited (MKCL), the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education [HBCSE], Indian Institute of Education (IIE), SNDT University, and others. Starting June 30, ICONSENT will launch a series of initiatives, each of which will be executed by a select institution that will act as a nodal agency.

As part of the initiative to train nearly 20 lakh teachers in the State, the HBCSE will establish an online resource of educational material that can be accessed by anyone at any time. This programme is based on the principle of open educational resources (OER) followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)....

More on the CIC-Google deal

Roy Tennant, Something for Nothing and Books for Free, Digital Libraries blog, June 19, 2007.

On June 6 twelve universities cooperating as the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) announced an interesting new partnership with Google. Unlike previous Google-Library mass digitization agreements, an explicit outcome will be a public, shared digital repository of all the open access content. To this point, the only Google partner library to aggressively mount the digitized books in its own repository has been the University of Michigan. Therefore, it surprises no one that the University of Michigan, which had already developed their MBooks platform for its own digitized books, will serve as the central repository for the CIC project.

This is great news for us all, since it will make this content available to everyone in a repository managed by a library. The University of Michigan has a great deal of experience with large online text collections, and therefore is almost uniquely suited to take on this role.

This project raises the bar for the other libraries participating in mass digitization projects. Most of the libraries cooperating with Google are making no effort to mount the resulting files themselves. Some may not even be keeping a copy of the files. I think it is disturbing that we don't even know how true that statement might be. So although this is a wonderful step in providing library-based access to this content, we still have far to go. We really need all the open access content from mass digitization projects easily accessible to all from library servers.

Open Knowledge Foundation annual report

The Open Knowledge Foundation has released its 2006-2007 annual report.  From the OKF blog summary:

...In May this year the Open Knowledge Foundation celebrated its third birthday. Much has changed in that time and the last year is no exception — if anything, the pace of change both at the OKF, and in the wider ‘Open Knowledge space’, has been even greater than in previous years....

Much focus has gone into new releases for three of our central projects: the Open Knowledge Definition (OKD), and the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN) and KForge. The first of these is to help make sure knowledge is openly licensed, the second to make sure open knowledge can be easily found, and the third to provide knowledge users and producers with tools for storage, retrieval and development. Our two ‘exemplar’ projects - Open Shakespeare and Open Economics have also been launched and significantly developed.

We’ve also been hard at work campaigning to protect and promote the legislative and institutional conditions under which an infrastructure for open knowledge could flourish. As well as campaigning on the INSPIRE directive, we’ve responded to consultations from OfCom and WIPO, and had research published by the IPPR....

In September 2006 we were pleased to welcome Peter Suber and Benjamin Mako Hill onto our advisory board....Benjamin Mako Hill is a technology and intellectual property researcher, activist, consultant, and has been an active member of the Free and Open Source Software (F/OSS) community for over a decade.

Will journals refuse to consider submissions from Nature Precedings?

Andrea Gawrylewski, New site pits 'published' vs. 'posted', TheScientist, June 19, 2007.  Excerpt:

Scientists can now post preliminary, non-peer-reviewed findings on a new Nature Web site, but will doing so help -- or hurt -- their odds of getting published and promoted?

Alma Swan, co-founder of Key Perspectives, a scholarly communication consulting firm, said it's still unclear how other scientists will view data published on the new site, called Nature Precedings. If a candidate is being evaluated by a tenure review board and has a high number of citations on Precedings, Swan asked, how much do those citations reflect on the candidate's merit, in comparison to citations in other publications?

It's also too soon to tell how other journals will treat data that appeared on Precedings -- for instance, if they will consider Precedings data as published, and consequently hesitate to publish any later iterations of the findings, Diane Lang, Vice President of the Council of Science Editors, told The Scientist. "I'm sure there will be a variety of responses [to the site] because there are a lot of different models of how publications handle submissions," she said....

Any findings that have appeared in another journal, or have a digital object identifier (DOI), will not be posted [to Precedings], Brenda Riley, one of the curators for the new site, told The Scientist....Clinical trial data are not eligible for posting.

Nature Publishing Group considers material appearing in Precedings completely acceptable for later peer-review publication, and Nature has always been open to publishing material that has appeared somewhere else in pre-print....

At issue is the Ingelfinger Rule, which states that, as a policy, journals will not consider a manuscript for publication if its findings have been submitted or reported elsewhere.

Don Kennedy, editor-in-chief at Science, said in an Email that it's "too early to make any judgment on" whether Science would consider publishing data posted on Nature Precedings....

"Nature has shown itself to be extremely innovative," Swan said. But the first thing most researchers will say is "'we'll share our data, but for doing that we need some kind of accreditation system, some measurable return.' There isn't a system for that at the moment."

Comment.  These issues have long since been settled for researchers and journals in the fields covered by arXiv and other preprint archives.  The trend is toward the decline of the Ingelfinger Rule and the rise of preprint archiving.  But we'll see how this plays out in the fields covered by Nature Precedings (biology, medicine, chemistry, and geoscience) and whether Nature Precedings itself can affect the outcome.  For example, if researchers take to it in numbers even remotely approaching those of arXiv, then journals will have to accommodate it.

JISC report recommends OA for research data

Liz Lyon, Dealing with Data: Roles, Rights, Responsibilities and Relationships Consultancy Report, JISC, June 19, 2007.  In addition to recommending OA for research data, the report summarizes the public statements supporting OA policies (Section 4.1, pp. 13-14) and the data access policies for major research funders, data centers, and repositories in the UK (Section 5, pp. 16-43).  Excerpt:

This Report explores the roles, rights, responsibilities and relationships of institutions, data centres and other key stakeholders who work with data. It concentrates primarily on the UK scene with some reference to other relevant experience and opinion, and is framed as “a snapshot” of a relatively fast-moving field....

It is set within the context of the burgeoning “data deluge” emanating from e-Science applications, increasing momentum behind open access policy drivers for data, and developments to define requirements for a co-ordinated e-infrastructure for the UK....

[Recommendation] 7. All relevant stakeholders should identify and promote incentives to encourage the routine deposit of research data by researchers in an appropriate open access data repository....

[Recommendation] 10. Each higher education institution should implement an institutional Data Management, Preservation and Sharing Policy, which recommends data deposit in an appropriate open access data repository and/or data centre where these exist....

[Recommendation] 17. JISC should commission work to investigate the effectiveness and applicability of different mechanisms for managing access and data-sharing across disciplines....

Some higher education institutions have also adopted a clear policy regarding self-archiving of research outputs, and these policies are gathered at the ROARMAP service. However the majority have not, and the degree of awareness of open access issues, preceding the adoption of a mandate to promote the approach, is at best, patchy....

Also see the JISC press release and splash page.

Bibliography on filling institutional repositories

Adrian K. Ho and Joe Toth, Content Recruitment for Institutional Repositories (IR's), self-archived June 20, 2007.

Abstract:   It is an annotated bibliography for a panel discussion at the 2007 American Library Association Annual Conference [Washington, D.C., June 21-27, 2007]. It focuses on relevant articles published from Jan. 2005 through May 2007.

OA science videos

SciTalks is a new portal for OA videos about science.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  From Tuesday's press release:

...[SciTalks] is a focused, searchable repository of video recordings of science lectures from all over the world. The site launches today with over 1,000 lectures online, and more are being added daily. Segments range from a series of hour-long lectures by the late Richard Feynman, to a short, hilarious Ali G interview with Noam Chomsky, and a fascinating talk on designing a semiconductor-based brain, by up-and-coming Stanford researcher Kwabena Boahen.

Access to is completely free; additionally, users can set up a free username and password to create their own collection of favorite videos, which can be shared with students, friends and colleagues....

Users can also submit links to additional lectures to be listed on the site, search for upcoming science conferences, and even upload their own video content -- the site has subcategories for academic, business and personal science lectures. Linked sites for lectures in the humanities, government and business are planned for launch in the next 3 months.

Unlike most existing sites, does not attempt to copy available content but simply provides url links to online sources, so that copyright holders such as universities and the lecturers themselves are able to maintain control over how the videos are used. At that level, the site is a targeted search engine with a user-friendly display that includes descriptive video captions and screenshots. In addition, the site is offering file upload and management tools based on SeeFile Software's SeeFile3 technology, so that scientists who want to put their lectures online will now have a purpose-built hosted forum to do so. The linked and hosted videos can be searched together in a consistent way, with pull-down categories for fields such as physics, biology and space science....

Wellcome's OA images from the history of medicine

Free, unlimited access to two thousand years of mankind and medicine in pictures made available through Creative Commons Licence, a press release from the Wellcome Trust, June 18, 2007.  Excerpt:

Teachers, students, academics and the public can now download and use images depicting 2,000 years of mankind and medicine for free, thanks this newly launched website from the Wellcome Trust.

Launched on 15 June 2007, 'Wellcome Images' is the world's leading source of images on the history of medicine, modern biomedical science and clinical medicine. All content has been made available under a Creative Commons Licence, which allows users to copy, distribute and display the image, provided the source is fully attributed and it is used for non-commercial purposes....

Catherine Draycott Head of Wellcome Images, explains: 'Wellcome Images is an invaluable tool for teachers and researchers of medical history, health, clinical and biomedical sciences. Through visuals users are able to develop a more profound understanding of human and animal biology, and can use them in their research and teaching. What is unusual for a picture library of this nature, is that the online service is completely free.'  ...

Update. Klaus Graf objects that Wellcome wants to restrict commercial use, that it wants to do so in ways that are inconsistent with the CC-NC license, that some of these images are under copyright by others and should not be restricted or licensed by Wellcome, and that some are in the public domain and should not be restricted at all.

OA mandate at the NIH expected in new appropriations bill

Jocelyn Kaiser, Senate Gives NIH a Raise, ScienceNOW Daily News, June 20, 2007.  Excerpt:

A Senate spending panel yesterday agreed to give the National Institutes of Health a $1 billion raise in 2008, a 3.5% increase that would bring NIH's budget to $29.9 billion. Although that's only half of what biomedical research advocates are hoping for, the increase is slightly more than the House has approved. Both bills would reverse President George W. Bush’s request for a $279 million cut....

Both the House and Senate bills are expected to require grantees to send a copy of their accepted manuscripts to NIH. The institute would then post the papers in a free online archive up to 12 months after they appear in a journal. Participation in the program is now voluntary, but the response rate has been tiny--only 4% of eligible papers are being submitted.

The full Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on the bill tomorrow; its House counterpart is expected to be acted on in July, and differences in the bills will need to be reconciled. But congressional action "is only half the battle," says Jon Retzlaff, legislative relations director for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Bethesda, Maryland. President Bush has already promised to veto the final bill for exceeding his requested spending level.


  • This is big.  The expected OA mandate will finally strengthen the NIH policy from a request to a requirement.  Moreover, the call is coming from both houses of Congress at once.  Congress originally asked for a mandate in July 2004 and the agency chose to try a voluntary policy instead.  Congress is now saying that the voluntary policy, with a 4% compliance rate, has failed and does not meet the national goal of public access to publicly-funded research. 
  • The budget increase is also important.  It not only funds more medical research, and triggers the possibility of a Bush veto, but also helps answer the specious publisher objection that we cannot afford the cost of a public access program in a time of flat budgets --as if flat budgets were a reason to make high quality medical research harder to find and use.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Open-source analysts rank 1, 2, and 3 in Top 50 list

In the Technobabble list of the Top 50 analyst bloggers (June 18, 2007), the top three positions went to James Governor, Stephen O’Grady, and Michael Coté, all of RedMonk

Here's how RedMonk describes itself:

RedMonk is the first analyst firm built on open source. We’re dedicated to providing high quality research at no cost, and believe that the dialog that follows is beneficial to us, our community and our clients....

RedMonk analysts spend their days learning from the communities that are defining the future of technology, distilling our findings into free research, and working with clients to explain the likely impact....

If you’re used to dealing with analyst firms that nickel and dime you, or ask you to pay for every insight, RedMonk will be a pleasant surprise. We share our learning freely, making our content available at no cost. We give back to variety of communities with both time and money, and always have time to help the little guy. When we say we’re different, we’re not kidding.

Also see Technonbabble's short essay, In praise of open source analysis, June 5, 2007.

"Invisibility is the killer"

Paul Coyne from Emerald Group Publishing has blogged some notes on the DRM session at the O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference (San Jose, June 18-20, 2007).  Excerpt:

A 3 speaker panel from Elsevier, National Academies Press and the Digital Library Federation.

I thought this session would be about how to implement DRM and how good it is and seriously, you need to do it now and here’s why.

WRONG! The Elsevier speaker talks about allowing access via subscription models and IP address ranging, something we already do at Emerald.

Then, the NAP guy tells us that the balancing act for them is between openness and financial sustainability – fair enough. For NAP a policy more openness has been a successful strategy. The messages from the panel are clear – Don’t err on the side of caution with respect to openness, in fact quote : “Invisibility is the Killer!”.

This is not the session I was expecting. It turns out that there is a clear consensus that DRM introduces an unnecessary layer of technology between the publisher and the reader/researcher/student – which runs the risk of making your customer pissed of with you, for no real material gain since the fears that DRM play on are largely unfounded. Elsevier, NAP and the DLF were very relaxed about the issues of Piracy and DRM. In fact as a means of tapping into the long tail effect and ultimately marketing the brand it’s no band thing, unless of course it becomes really, really, out of hand, but no-one hand any experience of such an event.

A quick poll of the room ( about 40 or so) revealed that no-one implemented DRM in their PDFs or other electronic content offerings. Very revealing.

More notes on the iCommons summit

The best summary of the iCommons Summit 2007 (Dubrovnik, June 15-17, 2007) lies in the summit blog, which now has 249 posts.

Here are some closing reflections by David Bollier from June 18:

The iCommons Summit in Dubrovnik wrapped up yesterday, and what a colossal gathering of commoners from around the world it was! The group included the heads of dozens of Creative Commons affiliates (Korea, Pakistan, Mexico, others), free software hackers from eastern Europe and developing nations, the Gnu Girl Power Lounge Collective from Zagreb, copyright scholars from the United States, activists from the U.K. and Europe, Arab-language commoners devising new social networking websites, and many, many others. The international movement for a more open, participatory and creative digital culture does not really have an adequate name – “free culture” comes closest, perhaps....It is a swarm, a network, a federation of many projects loosely joined. It does share many ideals about culture and human betterment, and is verging toward a new set of social justice issues, especially in the developing world. Significantly, the many disparate strands of this movement are starting to discover each other and lend support to each other’s struggles.

Yale Law Professor Yochai Benkler’s keynote remarks on Saturday, “Freedom and Justice in the Commons,” offer some insight into why this humanist, democratically oriented groundswell (still unrecognized by elites and the mainstream media) may be happening....

The economics of decentralized media has radically changed the cultural ecology of communication, Benkler noted....

[T]he Internet and new software platforms enable citizens to pursue collective action more efficiently and effectively than ever before. Public life and culture cannot be so easily monopolized by monied interests....In the process, the free culture movement is redefining democracy....

The case for OA to consumer magazines

The other day I blogged Adam Hodgkin's argument that OA (after an embargo or moving wall) makes sense for consumer magazines even though they, unlike scholarly journals, pay their authors.  Hodgkin's post was part of an excellent series and I want to draw attention to the whole thing:

Update on Nature Precedings

Timo Hannay, Nature Precedings is live, Nascent, June 18, 2007.  Hannay is Nature's Director of Web Publishing. Excerpt:

...One thing that we've already added since [the launch] is a 'bridge' from our journal manuscript submission system to Nature Precedings. This allows NPG authors to submit their manuscripts for immediate pre-publication in Nature Precedings while they are being considered by the relevant journal. It's heartening to see people already beginning to use this (though as I write the system is misbehaving — please hang on in there while we get it fixed)....

There have been some unfounded initial concerns that Nature will have some special rights to the content, or that we'll be charging for some aspect of the service. On the contrary, all the content is released under the Creative Commons Attribution License and the service is free to authors and readers. In fact we're working with some of our partners to mirror the content to ensure it's long-term free availability (whatever might happen to Nature Publishing Group)....

Roadmap for CERN's SCOAP3 project

Salvatore Mele, Open Access Publishing in High-Energy Physics, a presentation at ElPub 2007, Openness in Digital Publishing: Awareness, Discovery and Access (Vienna, June 13-15, 2007).

Abstract:   The goal of Open Access (OA) is to grant anyone, anywhere and anytime free access to the results of scientific research. The High-Energy Physics (HEP) community has pioneered OA with its “pre-print culture”: the mass mailing, first, and the online posting, later, of preliminary versions of its articles. After almost half a century of widespread dissemination of pre-prints, the time is ripe for the HEP community to explore OA publishing. Among other possible models, a sponsoring consortium appears as the most viable option for a transition of HEP peer-reviewed literature to OA. A Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3) is proposed as a central body which would remunerate publishers for the peer-review service, effectively replacing the “reader-pays” model of traditional subscriptions with an “author-side” funding. Funding to SCOAP3 would come from HEP funding agencies and library consortia through a re-direction of subscriptions. This model is discussed in details together with a quantitative description of the HEP publishing landscape leading to a practical proposal for a seamless transition of HEP peer-reviewed literature to OA publishing.

From the conclusion:

The fundamental pillar of the SCOAP3 model is the federation of HEP funding agencies and library consortia worldwide. HEP is the most global of the scientific enterprises and the conversion to OA of its literature, with all the ethical, scientific and financial benefits it implies can only be achieved in a global co-ordinated process....

Once sufficient funds will have been pledged towards the establishment and the operation of SCOAP3, a tendering process involving publishers of high-quality HEP journals will take place. Provided that the SCOAP3 funding partners are ready to engage into long-term commitments, most publishers are expected to be ready to enter into negotiations along the lines presented in this article.

The outcome of the tendering process will allow the complete SCOAP3 budget envelope to be precisely known and therefore the precise contribution expected from each country. A Memorandum of Understanding for the governance of SCOAP3 will then be signed by funding agencies and leading national and international library consortia. Contracts with publishers will be established in order to make Open Access publishing in High Energy Physics a reality at the beginning of 2008, when the first experimental and theoretical publications of the CERN LHC [Large Hadron Collider] program will appear.

The conversion of the HEP scientific publishing to the OA paradigm, along the lines presented in this article, will be an important milestone in the history of scientific publishing. The SCOAP3 model could be rapidly generalized to other disciplines and, in particular, to related fields such as Nuclear Physics or Astroparticle Physics.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New impact measurements and OA journals

Kuan-Teh Jeang, Impact factor, H index, peer comparisons, and Retrovirology: is it time to individualize citation metrics?  Retrovirology, June 18, 2007.  Excerpt:

Although historically journal IF [impact factor] has been a convenient quantitative shorthand, has its (mis)use contributed to inaccurate perceptions of the quality of scientific articles? Is now the time that equally convenient but more individually accurate metrics be adopted? ...

In the late 1970's when I began graduate school, large bulky word processing machines were just being invented, and small personal computers did not exist. This was a period when if one wished to learn what was being published, one had to reach for the weekly/monthly periodicals....In that era, it was laborious and time consuming to assess individually a journal's or a colleague's citation records. Hence, back then, judging a "book by its cover" or rating a paper based on the journal's IF would seem excusable simply because there was little other practical recourse. 

In 2007, one can do much better....

Today, one's individual citation frequency is easily accessible to all who have a few minutes to spend and internet access to databases. Google Scholar, Scopus, or Web of Science can each fully provide such information....

[M]any scientists employ the "gilt by association" approach, first sending their papers to high-visibility, high-IF journals....

In the past, to support the interest of equal access to knowledge by scientists and students in developing economies who cannot afford subscription-based journals, I have argued that we have a responsibility to support Open Access publishing. From a principled point of view, not to do so is poorly defensible. On the other hand, if one formulates decisions using a self-interest citation frequency driven perspective, evidence similarly supports that in head-to-head comparisons Open Access articles are cited more frequently than non-Open Access counterparts. In today's publishing world, there are important roles to be played by both subscription and Open Access journals. However, as Open Access journals ascend in quality and visibility and globalization brings us closer to previously distant strangers, scientists confident in the inherent content and value of their papers might ask if they can tolerate the "guilt associated with not supporting egalitarian access"?

Survey needs help

The Primary Research Group is planning a survey of institutional "depositories" and posted a call for help earlier today on the Archives & Archivists List.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  Excerpt:

Primary Research Group, publisher of research reports and benchmarking studies about libraries, is planning to publish a survey of digital depositories in higher education. These are depositories primarily designed to guarantee access to a the research findings of a college's own faculty.

We are seeking knowledgable individuals to contribute survey questions relating to the following: 1) types of software used to develop and maintain the depository 2) best practices in encouraging contributions 3) cost of maintaining the depository 4) cost and practices in marketing the depository 5) cooperation with other depositories 6) measuring gains from depository use 7) digital rights management.

Please email the questions that you would like to see on the survey to: or simply post to the list.

Questions may be multiple choice, or call for a quantitative number, or brief essay in response.

If five or more questions are used in the survey you receive a free copy and those with 1-5 accepted questions receive a price break. Please respond by July 10, 2007.

PS:  This is not auspicious.  These collections are invariably called archives or repositories, not depositories; the results of this survey will not be OA; and the Primary Research Group doesn't seem to know that both ROAR and OpenDOAR answer the first question ("types of software used") without need for a survey.

Oxford hybrid OA journal waives fees for authors from subscribing institutions

The Journal of Experimental Botany is one of the 50 Oxford hybrid journals.  On April 1, it tweaked its business model and waived its publication fee for authors from institutions that pay for a subscription.  For now, it's the only Oxford Open journal to use this variation on the theme.  From today's announcement:

Journal of Experimental Botany announces free open access for authors at subscribing institutions

Oxford Journals is pleased to announce that all primary papers published in the Journal of Experimental Botany after 1 April 2007 are being published without any open access charge if the corresponding author’s institution has a current subscription to the journal.

The Journal of Experimental Botany (JXB) launched the first phase of its open access (OA) experiment in April 2004 and since this time approximately 30% of primary research articles have been made freely available online from the time of publication. In the first phase of the experiment, publication costs were partially met in part by OA fees from authors (£250 per paper) and by two grants from the UK Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).

The unique feature of the new phase of JXB’s open access experiment is that institutional subscriptions will now pay not only for content (including reviews and special issues, which are not eligible for open access) but also for open access publication. Corresponding authors from subscribing institutions will have no OA charges to pay, while others who wish to take advantage of OA publication in JXB will have to pay £1500 ($2800/€2250).

‘We are working hard at building a viable business model that can provide a sustainable service to the plant science community,’ explains Professor Jerry Roberts, Editor-in-Chief, based at the University of Nottingham. ‘The cost of a full online subscription to the JXB in 2007 is £816 ($1469, €1224). On a cost per page basis this is a very competitive price; it is cheaper than any other comparable plant science journal without page charges or subsidy, and will now include the additional benefit of providing free open access for member authors.’ ...

Instead of Oxford Open’s standard optional open access model, which offers a two tier author payment system with substantial discounts for authors from subscribing institutions, this initiative makes open access completely free for these authors, thus putting the onus on libraries to support open access via their members.

For more details, see the journal's page on open access.

Comment.  Kudos to JXB for exploring the large "solution space" of OA and trying this innovation.  For authors at subscribing institutions, JXB is now in effect a no-fee OA journal.  While this policy will increase the incentive for institutions to subscribe, it should also increase the rate of author uptake and the volume of OA content.  I don't know another hybrid journal to try this exact variation.  Many hybrid journals reduce the fee (without waiving it) for authors from subscribing institutions, and another botany journal, Plant Physiology, waives the fee for authors who are members of the society publishing the journal, the American Society of Plant Biology.

Jacso reviews E-LIS and the ACM Digital Library

In his Digital Reference Shelf for May 2007, Péter Jacsó reviews E-LIS and the ACM Digital Library.

From his review of E-LIS:

There are two repositories specializing in library and information science and technology. The other resource is the much smaller dLIST repository maintained by the School of Information Resources and Library Science of the University of Arizona. Neither comes close to the huge open access indexing/abstracting and partially full-text LISTA database that EBSCO has made very generously available to the public.

However, both E-LIS and dLIST have many documents not available in LISTA....

E-LIS...has been maintained by volunteer information professionals who do know the value of metadata not just the joy of full text....

The most remarkable feature of E-LIS is its genuinely international coverage....

There were 5,800 papers in the repository at the end of May, 2007. 2,045 of them are in Spanish; about 1,900 in English; and the rest are in more than a dozen other languages....This linguistic internationalism also implies a strong coverage of authors from countries beyond the usual Anglo-Saxon world, especially those from Spain (1,131), Italy (682), Cuba (465), India (395), and Mexico (219). The presence of Turkish, German, Argentine, Serbian, Croatian, Austrian and Swiss authors’ work also is significant....

[I]n E-LIS about 20% of the papers are the unedited pre-print versions.... 

The service is based on version 2 of the excellent open source GNU E-prints archiving software developed by the Department of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton to promote self-archiving....

My words in this case may not have enough credit, however, because so far I have not posted my own papers at E-LIS. Given the usage statistics, and the quality of the archive, I promise that I will try to catch up with this by the end of the summer, and join many of my peers who have contributed to this outstanding resource, which apparently is of great and constant interest for many in the LIS field.

From his review of the ACM Digital Library:

There are not many options for open access indexing/abstracting databases about computer science and technology. Records related to the topic are scattered among many databases even in the subscription-based arena, and are especially dispersed in the open access domain, where several dozens of publishers offer bibliographic records and abstracts about papers in their own journals and other serials publications. Of course, there are many open access records and even full-text papers about computer science-related articles and conference papers also in the entirely open access databases such as PubMed Central, EconPapers, arXiv, etc.

The ACM Digital Library is part of the ACM Portal, which also includes the open access indexing/abstracting database of Guide to Computing Literature. Together, these two collection represent the largest, partially open access indexing/abstracting records about dedicated to computer science and technology....

The content of the open access records is similar to the ones you would find in many other publishers' digital collections, consisting of a bibliographic citation and often an abstract. It is the set of open access extras that makes ACM stand out....

The software offers the usual options of exact phrase searching, mandatory term searching, field-specific searching and the like – but most of the features are available only for subscribers as the advanced search template requires a paid user-id and password (not the free or limited alternative). This is quite unusual, although the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) and the Elsevier ScienceDirect sites have similar limitations. It alleviates the problem somewhat, that the ACM Digital Library is also accessible through the advanced template of the IEEE Computer Society Web site....

In spite of some of the unusual software limitations, this is an excellent resource for researchers, practitioners and computer science students – even if their library does not have a subscription to the full repository of the ACM Digital Library. Chances are good that some of the digital repositories would offer the full-text version of many of the articles identified through the open access segment of the ACM Digital Library (and the companion Guide to Computing Literature).

Madrid repositories becoming DRIVER-compliant

DRIVER is working with Spain's e-ciencia project and expects that "all repositories of the Madrid Universities will be compliant with the mandatory requirements of the DRIVER Guidelines by September this year."

OA dissertations at ProQuest

ProQuest will complete the migration of its dissertation database to its new platform on July 22, 2007.  The old platform was called ProQuest Digital Dissertations (PQDD) and the new one is called ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (PQDT).  From ProQuest's page on the migration progress:

With the December 2006 release of PQDT, most of the migration work was completed. All dissertation and thesis content - more than 2.3 million citations and 890,000 full-text PDFs - is available in PQDT. All of the major functionality is already in place as well. Some of the changes you can expect to see in the final migration release include: ...

  • Uniquely identifying Open Access graduate works. Open Access graduate works are available for free in PDF format – in A&I and Full Text subscriptions – and by uniquely identifying them, we can highlight this new content format....

I wrote to ProQuest to find out whether these OA dissertations were free for all users or only free for subscribers. I got this helpful response from Mike Visser, the Product Manager for Dissertations & Theses ProQuest, which I reprint with his permission:

Thank you for your inquiry. While Open Access graduate works will be (and are) available for free download through PQDT subscriptions, we are also making them available through our PQDT Open collection, which is freely available to anyone. You can access it at [PQDT Open].

Right now, that URL directs you to a page on our web site where we are listing all the open access graduate works that have made their way through the publishing process so far. Each graduate work title is hyperlinked, and when clicked on, spawns a new window that loads the citation record in PQDT, and provides end users with free access to the PDF of the graduate work (and the citation, abstract, and 24 page preview).

This web page is a temporary solution. We plan to build a more robust repository, with searching/browsing capabilities, etc., as the volume of open access graduate works grows. Right now, the volume is quite small - we have published 13 so far, with about 20 more in the publishing queue.

This is the first year we started offering the open access option, so while the volume will be small at first, we expect it to grow over time.

New edition of Bailey bibliography

Charles W. Bailey Jr. has released version 68 of his comprehensive Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new version cites and organizes over 3,040 print and online articles, books, and other sources on scholarly electronic publishing.

Saving an OA database on toxic pollution

OMB Watch has launched an action alert to prevent the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from gutting its OA database on toxic pollution in the United States.  Excerpt:

Tell Congress to stop the EPA from rolling back reporting requirements on toxic pollution. In the new Congress, the House and Senate have another chance to stop the EPA from implementing roll backs to toxic chemical reporting. Tell your Representative and Senators:  Support the Toxic Right to Know Protection Act. The TRI is our country's best source of health and safety information. If Congress passes the Toxic Right to Know Protection Act, it will be a step forward in saving TRI.

The House of Representatives heard your earlier calls to stop the EPA from destroying our nation's premier tool for public notification about toxic pollution - the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). Unfortunately, the Senate never got around to voting on the Bill. We now have another chance to stop EPA from harming our right to know.

Also see the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory program, the text of the Toxic Right-to-Know Protection Act (S. 595), and the OMB Watch page of additional information.

PS:  The action alert makes it easy to send a message supporting the bill to the director of the EPA and your Congressional delegation.  US citizens:  please send that message and spread the word.

FAQ on Minnesota's author addendum

The University of Minnesota Libraries have created a page of Q & A on Author's Rights.  Six of the questions cover the CIC Author Addendum, which UMN adopted on May 3.  Excerpt:

12.  What if the publisher says No to the U of MN Author's Addendum?

You still have a choice of action: you could negotiate fewer rights with the publisher, or sign the standard agreement without the addendum, or investigate publishing in another venue with policies you prefer. We are aware of no instance in which a publisher has refused to publish an article where the author initially sought to retain some non-exclusive rights to the article. For more negotiating tips, see Reserving Rights of Use in Works Submitted for Publication: Negotiating Publishing Agreements or Author Rights: Using the SPARC Author Addendum to secure your rights as the author of a journal article

13.  Is the U of MN Author's Addendum a threat to the viability of non-profit scholarly society journals?

No, probably not. There is as yet no evidence that publishing revenues are declining or at risk, even with the rapidly growing number of open access policies and amount of publicly available scholarship. Further, the policy contains a key provision that protects journals and the peer review process: for those journals that do not already allow open access to articles within six months of publication, the policy assumes, and faculty may specifically request, a delay of up to six months after publication and before the university places any articles in a public repository. Immediate access continues to be through the published journal.

In some disciplines, freely accessible online archives have proven to be a supplement to journal readership, not a replacement for it. In physics, for example, where nearly 100% of new articles are freely available from birth in the arXiv open-access repository, subscription-based journals have continued to thrive. The American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics Publishing are unable to identify any subscriptions lost as a result of arXiv in more than a decade of its existence [see Swan, A. (2005) Open access self-archiving: An Introduction. Technical Report, JISC, HEFCE.]. 

14.  Is there anywhere I can share my work where I would always retain all rights to reuse it? 

The University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy provides long-term preservation and access services for the intellectual and creative output of the University's academic, research, and administrative communities. Authors retain copyright to their submissions and are free to reuse their works elsewhere. Contributing works to the Conservancy does not transfer intellectual property rights. For more information, see the UDC's Copyright Policy and Deposit Agreements page.

Librarianship and OA journals

Heather Morrison, Candice Dahl, and Jennifer Richard, Librarianship and the Open Access Journal : State of the Union, a slide presentation at the Canadian Library Association Conference 2007 (St. John's, May 23-26, 2007).

Another kind of added value added by unpaid volunteers

Panos Ipeirotis, Are Publishers Making Themselves Useless?  A Computer Scientist in a Business School, June 18, 2007.  Excerpt:

No matter how nicely I try to format my camera-ready papers, occasionally I will get an email like this from the publisher: ...

[PS:  Omitting detailed list of small typesetting errors.]

I cannot understand why the author has to deal with all these typesetting issues, if there is publisher involved in the process. Isn't typesetting something that the publisher does? Given that I have submitted my LaTeX sources and all the necessary files needed to compile the paper, it is trivially easy to fix all these issues....

[A]s publishers push more and more of their responsibilities to the authors, they increasingly make themselves irrelevant. There is no reason to pay a publisher to prepare proceedings or even journals when the publisher does not even want to take care of the most esoteric issues. In fact, there is no reason for a publisher to exist at all. What is the added value that a publisher offers? Open access and the web made already a significant part of the publisher's role obsolete; if publishers voluntarily make typesetting the task of their suppliers (authors), then they voluntarily make themselves a useless part of the workflow, ripe to be dropped completely in the near future.

Search engine for OA market research honored

Reportlinker, the search engine specializing on OA market research, was just recognized with a Best Hope 2007 award from France's IE Club.  Details from the Reportlinker blog:

Reportlinker...won the prize “Best Hope 2007”, in the Services category. 30 projects have been selected by the IE-Club jury, among 120 companies, to become part of the “ITech-economy” leaders.

Reportlinker, launched on March 2007, has perfectly matched the criteria requested to be distinguished: be innovative, get the capacity to impact the international market and be able to lead this market....

Reportlinker is a vertical web 3.0 search engine dedicated to open access market research reports....Reportlinker provides accurate business information: more than 1,2 million reports, published by trusted sources (governments, embassies, national statistics agencies, trade unions…). The professional research engine also includes in its index many results from the deep web....

More on Nature Precedings

Mark Chillingworth, Is Nature Preceding the bandwagon? Information World Review, June 19, 2007.  Excerpt:

Nature Precedings, the new online service that allows scientists to publish unpublished manuscripts, conference papers and presentations onto a central repository has been warmly welcomed by The Cluetrain Manifesto author David Weinberger, but some information professionals disagree.

Timo Hannay, director of web publishing at Nature describes a "complement" to journals. He believes the problem with pre-prints and conference papers is that they are not "easy to share in a truly globally way (most repositories are institution – or funder specific) and you can't formally cite them (which is important because citation underlies the scientific credit system)". With Precedings Nature aims to offer a central global repository where material is easily discovered and citable.

"This is very cool," Weinberger says on his blog. "From CC to  DOI, it hits all the right notes." Because the service is from Nature, Weinberger believes the launch is a "big deal".

But Monica McCormick of North Carolina State University Library commenting disagrees, "why are you so enthusiastic… there are a large and growing number of university-based repositories". She believes that these repositories are easy to find and can be cited. "Nature is jumping on a bandwagon built by university libraries and scholars, and disingenuously claiming that their service is better. They have their undoubtedly high reputation to attract attention to their efforts, but how is Precedings genuinely distinct from hundreds of other digital pre-print repositories?

But Weinberger disagrees, "When one of the premier journals des this, it signals a new level of acceptance." 

Comment.  Weinberger and McCormick are both right.  Nature's entry into OA archiving helps the cause:  the more OA archives the better; the more OA content, the better; and the more journal support for OA archiving the better.  But 900+ university and disciplinary archives led the way and their contents are exactly as citable as those in Nature Precedings.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Open authoring and open review

Eric Mockensturm has launched a wiki, Open Source Publishing 2.0, outlining a proposal on which he is inviting collaboration.  Excerpt:

The idea of openness is gaining much momentum in our society as open source software becomes more popular, and vast amounts of information and data are openly available via the internet. The academic community has been one of the biggest proponents of openness as it is primarily concerned with education....However, one curiously closed system that is of primary importance to the academic community is the publishing and reviewing system....

Open source publishing refers to the openness of the authoring and reviewing process while open access refers to the openness to the reader. These two paradigms are related but need not be dependent on one another. However, it is the PI’s hope that open source publishing will lead to open access....

Update. Also see Eric's blog post about the proposal (June 18, 2007) and the comments it has generated.

OS tool for sharing OA data

Charles G. Howes and Leonard J. Foster, PrestOMIC, an open source application for dissemination of proteomic datasets by individual laboratories, Proteome Science, June 6, 2007.  Abstract:

Background.  Technological advances in mass spectrometry and other detection methods are leading to larger and larger proteomics datasets. However, when papers describing such information are published the enormous volume of data can typically only be provided as supplementary data in a tabular form through the journal website. Several journals in the proteomics field, together with the Human Proteome Organization's (HUPO) Proteomics Standards Initiative and institutions such as the Institute for Systems Biology are working towards standardizing the reporting of proteomics data, but just defining standards is only a means towards an end for sharing data. Data repositories such as and the Open Proteomics Database allow for public access to proteomics data but provide little, if any, interpretation.

Results & conclusion.  Here we describe PrestOMIC, an open source application for storing mass spectrometry-based proteomic data in a relational database and for providing a user-friendly, searchable and customizable browser interface to share one's data with the scientific community. The underlying database and all associated applications are built on other existing open source tools, allowing PrestOMIC to be modified as the data standards evolve. We then use PrestOMIC to present a recently published dataset from our group through our website.

Self-evaluation of an OA journal

Thomas Stamm and five co-authors, A retrospective analysis of submissions, acceptance rate, open peer review operations, and prepublication bias of the multidisciplinary open access journal Head & Face Medicine, Head and Face Medicine, June 11, 2007.   Provisional abstract:

Background.  Head & Face Medicine (HFM) was launched in August 2005 to provide multidisciplinary science in the field of head and face disorders with an open access and open peer review publication platform. The objective of this study is to evaluate the characteristics of submissions, the effectiveness of open peer reviewing, and factors biasing acceptance or rejection of submitted manuscripts.

Methods.  A 1-year period of submissions and all concomitant journal operations were retrospectively analyzed. The analysis included submission rate, reviewer rate, acceptance rate, article type, and differences in duration for peer reviewing, final decision, publishing, and PubMed inclusion. Statistical analysis included Mann-Whitney U test, Chi-square test, regression analysis, and binary logistic regression.

Results.  HFM received 126 articles (10.5 articles/month) for consideration in the first year. Submissions have been increasing, but not significantly over time. Peer reviewing was completed for 82 articles and resulted in an acceptance rate of 48.8%. In total, 431 peer reviewers were invited (5.3/manuscript), of which 40.4% agreed to review. The mean peer review time was 37.8 days. The mean time between submission and acceptance (including time for revision) was 95.9 days. Accepted papers were published on average 99.3 days after submission. The mean time between manuscript submission and PubMed inclusion was 101.3 days. The main article types submitted to HFM were original research, reviews, and case reports. The article type had no influence on rejection or acceptance. The variable n of invited reviewers is the only significant (p<0.05) predictor for rejection of manuscripts.

Conclusions.  The positive trend in submissions confirms the need for publication platforms for multidisciplinary science. HFMs peer review time comes in shorter than the 6-weeks turnaround time the Editors set themselves as the maximum. Rejection of manuscripts was associated with the number of invited reviewers. All other parameters had no effect on the final decision. Thus, HFMs ethical policy, which is based on Open Access, Open Peer, and transparency of journal operations, is free of editorial bias in accepting manuscripts.

Original data.  Provided as a downloadable tab-delimited text file....

Five more BMC journals to get impact factors

Charlotte Hubbard, 5 more of BioMed Central's independent journals tracked by Thomson Scientific, BioMed Central blog, June 18, 2007.  Excerpt:

We are pleased to announce that five more titles from BioMed Central's portfolio of independent journals have just been accepted for tracking by Thomson Scientific, and will receive official impact factors in 2010. The journals are: Environmental Health, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Journal of Neuroinflammation, Lipids in Health and Disease and Virology Journal,

The acceptance of these titles for tracking by Thomson Scientific reflects their growing prominence and reputation in their respective fields, and is a strong endorsement of their achievement to date.  We have calculated an unofficial 2006 impact factors for each of these journals, based on Thomson Scientific citation data, and this demonstrates that they already have an impressive citation rate.

  • Environmental Health - Unofficial Impact Factor 2.10
  • International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity - Unofficial Impact Factor 3.06
  • Journal of Neuroinflammation - Unofficial Impact Factor 4.36
  • Lipids in Health and Disease - Unofficial Impact Factor 1.38
  • Virology Journal - Unofficial Impact Factor 1.94

BioMed Central's growing independent journal portfolio consists of 109 titles which span the whole of biology and medicine.  21 of these journals are already tracked by Thomson ISI, and we look forward to seeing many more independent journals being accepted for tracking in the near future.  Find out more about publishing in these titles here....

Notes on the iCommons Summit

The iCommons Summit 2007 (Dubrovnik, June 15-17, 2007) ended yesterday.  The presentations aren't online, but here are three sets of blog notes about the events.

From David Bollier at On the commons:

The explosion of “free culture” initiatives are on full display at the iCommons Summit in Dubrovnik, Croatia, which I am attending this weekend. iCommons is the international organization spun off by the Creative Commons to convene the countless commoners around the world who are building the new digital, democratic republic. From bloggers to free software to Wikipedia to Creative Commons affiliates to open education and open science practitioners, this wildly diverse community now flourishes in more than 50 countries. This Dubrovnik gathering is a kind of staging area for imagining, and building, a new type of open, democratic culture -- one that competes in a fashion with the more stodgy and/or corrupt democratic norms of nation-states.

As you might imagine, the conversations among the 330 people here span a huge territory. One growing field of interest, however, especially in developing countries, is “open educational resources.” These are textbooks, online archives, curricula, learning software and other resources that can be freely used by students and teachers. The key themes in the OER movement are peer learning, participatory learning, situational learning and the sharing of materials with others. So, for example, Australian school systems have created a vast commons to share the educational materials that they each generate – which enables them to avoid the high costs of photocopying and payments to collecting societies. Another project in Australia is developing free high school science textbooks. A nonprofit solicits experts to volunteer to write separate modules of text, and then professional editors are hired to integrate the final product. The final result is a free, high-quality textbook....

One big news item out of this conference is Professor Larry Lessig’s announcement that he plans to step aside as leader of the Creative Commons. He returns from Berlin to Stanford University in the fall, and hopes to shift his attention to new, as-yet-unspecified directions. While Lessig’s departure is obviously a loss for the free culture movement (but who can begrudge him the respite after ten years of relentless activism, especially now that he has two young children?), it also creates new opportunities for the movement to develop a new generation of leaders and explore new ways of managing itself....

From an unsigned post on OpenBusiness

Some highlights:

- during legal day, a representative of CISAC made the argument that CC and in general, the “open movement” lowers the value of music by making so much of it available for free. Lessig countered with a great example: sex....

- James Boyle (also on the CC board) announced that a new project, called “CC Learn”, has been launched, to work on lobbying all the open education projects to use open licenses, and to be interoperable and reusable. Hewlett has now funded this project, and a Director has been hired. I’ve got some inside information I can’t disclose (sigh) but I can say that there are really big things happening inside CC Learn and that they’re getting a huge amount of traction (much like Science Commons has, which is succeeding way beyond our expectations, though much of that can be credited to the leadership of John Wilbanks)....

Also see Rufus Pollock on the Open Knowledge Foundation blog, who has more detail on the keynotes by Zittrain and Lessig.

Update. For Lessig's own detailed account of his change of plans, see his blog post from June 19, 2007.

Michael Geist on OA

Thanasis Priftis interviewed Michael Geist about OA for Re-Public (undated but apparently new)Excerpt:

T.P.: Your work puts emphasis on the open access principle, which is an extremely interesting concept radically changing the way we see science, education and knowledge. However, do you think that access to content is enough for the democratisation of knowledge?

M.G.: I don’t think it is sufficient but it may well be a necessary condition. There are certainly additional concerns - connectivity, flexible copyright law, etc. are also essential, but access to content is important.

T.P.: The story is out: five leading European research institutions launched a petition that called on the European Commission to establish a new policy that would require all government-funded research to be made available to the public shortly after publication. Tell us a little bit more. How was this effort organised? After the initial success, how do you intend to continue?

M.G.: I believe this stems from several OA (open access) activists seeking to galvanize opinion on the issue. The fight will certainly continue – though here is some support and movement on the issue, we are still a long way from universal OA mandates for most major funding agencies worldwide. Moreover, many researchers and academics still do not give much thought to how they make their own work accessible.

T.P.: What do you expect to be the short and long term effects of this effort?

M.G.: Short term will be a growing awareness of the potential to increase the public’s access to knowledge by adopting more open approaches to publishing. Long term, the public will come to expect that such knowledge is readily available and we will facilitate the creation of a better informed, more knowledgeable society....

More on the Nottingham OA publishing fund

Mark Patterson, Paying for open access publishing - a role for institutions, PLoS blog, June 17, 2007.  Excerpt:

Nottingham University has recently established a fund of £20,000 to help researchers pay open access publishing fees. Although £20,000 doesn't sound like a lot relative to the estimated value of the entire scientific, technical and medical journals market (thought to be around $5billion), the creation of the fund at Nottingham is significant. This was announced at the recent Association of Research Managers and Administrators conference as described by Natasha Robshaw.

The money in Nottingham University’s fund comes from the indirect expenses associated with grants that have been awarded to researchers at Nottingham. The allocation of these indirect expenses (or overhead) is determined by the university research administration, and they are intended to cover the costs of the infrastructure required to support research (equipment, facilities, libraries and so on). In its position statement on open access last year, the umbrella organization of the Research Councils in the UK indicated that publication fees for open access journals would be a legitimate use of indirect research expenses.

Of course, many funding agencies have indicated that open access fees can be included within the research grant itself, but publications might often arise after the grant has terminated, and this is where an institutional fund might prove particularly helpful (as well as for researchers who have insufficient funds). This practical approach to covering publication fees was suggested previously in a briefing note from the Research Information Network as also discussed here.

Why is all this so significant? ...[I]t’s a scalable way to fund open access publishing. Indirect costs, like research grants scale with research activity, and therefore with publishing output. The funds to cover open access publication fees will therefore grow naturally with the funds for research itself....

Bravo, Nottingham!

More on the rise of A2K at WIPO

William New, In A ‘Major Achievement’, WIPO Negotiators Create New Development Mandate, IP-Watch, June 18, 2007.  Excerpt:

Members of a World Intellectual Property Organization committee addressing proposals for a WIPO Development Agenda last week potentially rewrote the UN body’s mandate, pending approval.

Negotiators concluded a weeklong meeting with agreements on a wide range of proposals for new development-related activities - some hard to imagine for WIPO two years ago - and a recommendation to set up a new committee to implement the proposals.

“This is a major achievement,” said a participating official. “It’s a complete overhaul of the WIPO concept, broadening it to reflect society’s growing concern with ownership of technologies and knowledge, and its effects for the future, both in developed and developing countries.” ...

The idea for WIPO reform originated from Brazil and Argentina in 2004. The 45 recommendations were narrowed from 111 proposals submitted by a variety of countries over two years. All of the main issues from the original 111 proposals appear to have been retained in the process.

Proposals agreed last week ranged from technical assistance to the making of rules, to technology transfer, to development impact assessments, to WIPO’s mandate. Topics range from protection to competition to access to knowledge [A2K] to open collaborative models to support for the public domain....

PS:  Why does this matter for OA?  Because it greatly improves the prospects for the draft A2K Treaty (May 9, 2005), which includes a provision (Article 5-2) mandating OA for publicly-funded research.  The treaty is a central part of the Development Agenda, which is now becoming part of the WIPO mandate.  For more on the OA implications of the WIPO Development Agenda, see SOAN for October 2004.  (Disclaimer:  I took part in the drafting of the OA provision of the A2K Treaty.)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

OA at the University of Basel

Hannes Hug, "OAI - Offener Zugang zu wissenschaftlichem Wissen," EUCOR-Bibliotheksinformationen, No. 29, April 2007; scroll to p. 4.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.) 

On the University of Basel's decision to sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access as "a first active step" toward providing OA to its research output.  Because the file is a PDF, I can't link to a machine translation.

OA to Swiss technical journal backfiles

ETH Zurich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich) is digitizing and providing OA to the backfiles of the technical journals of the Schweizerischer Ingenieur- und Architektenverein (SIA, Swiss Engineers and Architects Society).  For details on the project, see the ETH's pre-launch announcement in English:

The ETH-Bibliothek, the publisher Verlag der akademischen technischen Vereine and the Consortium of Swiss Academic Libraries have developed the following cooperation project: 131 volumes of the SIA technical periodicals Tec21 and Tracés will be digitized and named BaugedaechtnisSCHWEIZonline and Mémoire du bâti EN Suisse, respectively. The full text of the journals will be available on the Internet, free of charge in a user friendly format. The goal of the project is to make both the full text searching possible as well as the browsing through individual issues and volumes. Thus improve the accessibility and the dissemination of the journals, which document the unique Swiss building tradition.

The project encompasses an estimated 350'000 pages of text and illustrations, including the advertisements....

Through the cooperation with the Consortium of Swiss Academic Libraries it was possible to win a competent partner for the supply of the digitized journals. The entire online collection will be available on their new journal platform SEALS Swiss Electronic Academic Library Service.

The new service was presented for the first time in January 2007 to the broad public at the trade fair Swissbau in Basel. The project is estimated to be completed by the end of May, 2007.

On June 15, ETH announced that the project had launched.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  Read the announcement in German or Google's English.

How OA chemistry helps developing countries

Ales Fajgelj, Assuring Quality of Analytical Measurement Results: The IUPAC Role, Chemistry International, May/June 2007.  Chemistry International is the news magazine of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.  Excerpt:

Over the past 30 years the value of world trade has risen dramatically. In 2005 it amounted to almost USD 17 trillion.... A large proportion of this trade is dependent upon chemical analyses, since food, pharmaceutical products, medicines, ores, and chemical products in general represent the largest groups of trading items. To gain acceptance in the trading process, the quality of analytical measurement results needs to be assured and demonstrated....

...A careful look into the distribution of the most influential organizations and bodies related to standardization and harmonization in the area of analytical chemistry reveals that there is a strong concentration in the northern hemisphere. The fact is that barriers of trade exist and are still growing between developed and developing economies. One reason for this is the standardization and application of very strong quality requirements in the accreditation process, without provision of the required assistance and support to developing countries. In this respect, the role of independent, non-commercial, non-profit scientific organizations like IUPAC is of utmost importance. The second important way of overcoming such differences is by open access to scientific literature (e.g., via the Internet). The IUPAC journal Pure and Applied Chemistry is a valuable example.

New Zealand makes public data OA

New Zealand makes statistics data free to encourage business - but where’s the logic?  Free Our Data blog, June 15, 2007.  Excerpt:

In an announcement that we’re struggling to find much coverage of, New Zealand’s statistics are to be made available for free starting from this August, down from prices of NZ$25,000 (£9,500) in some cases.

That’s quite a radical move, explained by the NZ minister for statistics Clayton Cosgrove thus:

“I am pleased to announce that information to help businesses identify market opportunities, assess their competitiveness, and implement informed investment planning will be made freely available. The roll-out of information will include a host of industry-specific information for the building, retail and tourism sectors, and for importers and exporters....,” Mr Cosgrove said.

And also - chiming with the Free Our Data rationale -

“Previously the information could be ordered at a cost from Statistics New Zealand, but in future, trade figures, for example, which were charged out at around $400 per customised request, or Digital Boundaries files that cost up to $25,000, will be available free.”
“The Labour-led Government is committed to giving businesses every opportunity to grow and prosper by providing the tools to support well informed decision making. Making key information available at no charge will encourage more businesses to identify new markets, for example, and plan for the future.”

Politics aside, businesses are keen on it:

Phil O’Reilly, Chief Executive of Business New Zealand, said, “Business groups have consistently advocated that this valuable information be made freely available, as it is in Australia. I am pleased the Government has taken this step.” ...

There’s some media coverage - New Zealand Herald interviews the head of Statistics NZ....

And the Salvation Army pointed out that the free data is good news for the charity sector:

‘Many of the statistics are currently prohibitively expensive for non-profit groups, so removing the charges will make available a wealth of information otherwise inaccessible.’

A full list of what’s being made available (the government press release plus accompanying PDF).

And here’s a key part, from the FAQs: the expected growth.

Have other countries done this?

Yes. Australia and Denmark have both seen big surges in use of data following similar initiatives to make statistics freely available. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports data downloads have approximately tripled since they made similar information free in 2005.

What is the uptake of the data expected to be?

A similar upsurge in data uptake is expected in New Zealand. In 2003 Statistics New Zealand made Census information freely available on the internet. This has resulted in a significant increase in public usage from around 250 paying subscribers in 1993 to over 20,000 accesses in the last year alone. [Emphasis added - CA.] The INFOS system currently has 93 annual subscribers. Once the system is redeveloped for easy use on the web, based on international experience, usage could increase to between 1500 to 2,000 users per month, and businesses would become the predominant sector using the information.

What we can’t find is anything leading up to the announcement, nor any indication of the economic analysis that surely must have been done before embarking on this. Any pointers?