Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Publishers should monetize web traffic rather than sell subscriptions

Timo Hannay, Foo and beyond, Nascent, June 29, 2007.  Hannay is the Director of Web Publishing at the Nature Publishing Group.  Excerpt:

I have an article in this month's STM News (a periodical for science, technology and medical publishers). The full publication is members only, so my draft is reproduced below for anyone who's interested. Appropriately enough, it's basically a summary of the ways in which the O'Reilly alpha-geek crowd has influenced our activities at Nature....

There is another more subtle reason for journal publishers to be interested in databases: the dividing line between the two realms is getting ever fuzzier, and may eventually disappear altogether. As journals have moved online, they have taken on some of the characteristics of databases (searchable, structured, constantly updated). Meanwhile, some databases are starting to mimic certain aspects of journals (peer-reviewed, archival, citable). This has led to the appearance of 'hybrid' publication that are both databases and journals depending on how you look at them. For example, the Molecule Pages, a collaboration between Nature and the University of California at San Diego, is a review journal covering several thousand proteins involved in intracellular signalling. But the information is held in a relational database [PS: and appears to be OA], making it easy to query the data and represent it in numerous different ways; while being archival and citable, it is also continually update[d]....

The idea that everyone can now do their own publishing, making publishers superfluous, is misguided. But publishers do need to adapt....Publishers need to become adept at mitigating gaming and spamming of their systems, and at monetizing web traffic rather than selling subscriptions....

Above all, publishers need to be leading the online charge, not following the scientists we serve. We are the information dissemination experts, so if we aren't pushing the boundaries and testing what's possible in this new world then we're not merely missing out, we're also not doing our jobs. Cynics will point out that most apparent 'opportunities' are a long way from turning a profit, and many probably never will. They're right. Do any of the STM projects I've mentioned above make a lot of money? No. But are they representative of the future of scientific communication, and do they provide a platform on which to build information businesses of the future? You'd better believe it.

Update. The title I picked for this post overstates's Timo's position. Thanks to Timo for his clarification and apologies for creating a false impression. As he writes on his blog:
I'm a tiny bit concerned that [Suber's] title overstates my position. Subscriptions of various kinds are going to be with us for a long time to come. But in the context of social software (which is what I was writing about in one of the passages he quotes), it often doesn't make sense to charge users directly. That's why I think publishers need to get much, much better at monetising traffic — we're almost all useless at this right now.

Toward Citizendium 2.0

Citizendium is planning major changes in governance and scope.  Founder Larry Sanger outlines them in a long letter to the CZ discussion list and excerpts some highlights on the CZ blog. 

Thierry Chanier's intro to OA

Thierry Chanier, Commentary: Open Access To Research And The Individual Responsibility Of Researchers, Language Learning & Technology, June 2007.  A general intro to OA.  From the conclusion:

In this short tour around the scientific publication world, we have seen that free / open access to research findings has been officially acknowledged. But the traditional organization of scholarly publication runs against the objective of allowing the entire annual set of 2.5 million papers to be freely accessed. Thanks to recent academic initiatives, new models of scientific publication have emerged that offer direct open access to journals. They have gained support from various research agencies. This "gold" model for journals should be explored in every discipline, particularly in the Humanities, where large amounts of money are used to support publication. However, it will be a slow process.

Open archives (the "green road") represent the most efficient way of providing full open access through authors’ self-deposits. New open archive services are under continuous development and will enhance research for the reader as well as for the author (Shadbolt, Brody, Carr, & Harnad, 2006). Already the researcher has the choice of depositing in institutional, disciplinary, or thematic repositories, all of which are being interconnected. Conforming to mandates issued from institutions and research agencies, the deposit has to provide the final version of the accepted paper. Access to the deposited article can at that time be set immediately as open access, or it can be set as closed access during any embargo period (6 to 12 months, maximum), with only its metadata freely accessible web-wide until the embargo period is over. During any embargo period, however, a powerful new feature of most repositories (namely, the "Email Eprint Request" button) makes it possible for individual users to semi-automatically and almost-instantaneously request an individual copy of the article by email, for individual use -- just as users had requested reprints by mail in paper days.

A final caveat: authors are encouraged to fix their own copyright statements before signing any transfer to the publisher. This can be easily done when sending the final version of a paper to the publisher, either by including a license such as the Creative Commons (2007) or by depositing a copy of the paper in an open archive repository, which establishes a similar license. As more and more authors take such action, research agencies will be encouraged to explicitly support better copyright policies and invite publishers to rephrase their own licenses. But there is no need to wait until this happens because open access is a property of individual works, and proper attribution of authorship is not a question of copyright law but of community standards.

PS:  Well-done.  I'd only correct one small point in the final paragraph.  Works deposited in an OA repository do not automatically, or even usually, receive a CC license or equivalent as part of the process.  That requires a separate step by the author or someone acting on the author's behalf.

A Charles Bailey retrospective

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., A Look Back at Eighteen Years as an Internet Digital Publisher, DigitalKoans, June 29, 2007.  Excerpt:

When I began my digital publishing efforts 18 years ago, the global network environment was much more fragmented than it is today (for details, see The Matrix: Computer Networks and Conferencing Systems Worldwide), and the primary information access tools were e-mail, FTP, mailing lists, and USENET newsgroups. Gopher servers, which represented a significant advance in information access, would not become available until 1991, and NCSA Mosaic, an early Web browser that ignited interest in the Web, until 1993. You can get a good sense of the context of my digital publishing efforts by consulting the Hobbes’ Internet Timeline v8.2 and the Timeline of the Open Access Movement....

PS:  Charles is not only a pioneer in electronic publishing but in OA publishing.  The best way to get a sense of his extensive contributions is to see the chronology of his publishing activities, and the bibliography about those publications, which I've had to omit from this excerpt.  I only hope this is just a retrospective exhibit for an ongoing career.

OA in Chile

InfoBlawg lists 11 OA publications from Chile.  Read the Spanish original or Google's English.

Access to knowledge as a public good

Danah Boyd, Knowledge Access as a Public Good, Britannica Blog, June 27, 2007.

...I entered the academy because I believe in knowledge production and dissemination....I want to help people gain access to information in the hopes that they can create knowledge that is valuable for everyone.  I have lost faith in traditional organizations leading the way to mass access and am thus always on the lookout for innovative models to produce and distribute knowledge....

Knowledge is not static, but traditional publishing models assume that it can be captured and frozen for consumption.  What does that teach children about knowledge?  Captured knowledge makes sense when the only opportunity for dissemination is through distributing physical artifacts, but this is no longer the case.  Now that we can get information to people faster and with greater barriers, why should we support the erection of barriers? ...

Why are we telling our students not to use Wikipedia rather than educating them about how Wikipedia works?  Sitting in front of us is an ideal opportunity to talk about how knowledge is produced, how information is disseminated, how ideas are shared....

Personally, I hold these truths to be self-evident, and I’d rather see us put in the effort to make Wikipedia an astounding resource that can be used by all people than to try to dismantle it simply because it means change.

Comment.  So far, so good.  My only criticism is that Boyd focuses on Wikipedia and seems unaware of the wider world of open access to peer-reviewed research.

CNRS Ethics Committee recommends broadest possible dissemination of research

The Ethics Committee (Comité d'éthique or COMETS) of France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) has issued an opinion on diffusing the results of research.  (Thanks to the INIST Libre Accès blog.)

The opinion makes eight recommendations, among them that CNRS should [1] support accessible publication systems in order to ensure the broadest possible dissemination of knowledge, [2] educate researchers about different methods of research communication, [3] ensure the open dissemination of data, and [5] think about ways to correct the abuses of the dominant system of monopoly publishing.

Read the French original or Google's English.

Australian RQF will discourage rather than encourage OA

Danny Kingsley, Losing access to research, ScienceAlert, June 29, 2007.  Excerpt:

Changes to the way academics will be assessed and funded [in Australia] are a hot topic in learned circles, with the Research Quality Framework (RQF) looming next year if the Government retains office in the upcoming federal election. Unfortunately this new system will be a lost opportunity for opening up access to research results in Australia....

The Federal Government has indicated that it wants to increase the accessibility of Australian research. There is even an ‘Accessibility Framework’ statement about this issue, and the RQF is one of the ways this was to be addressed. So it is surprising that the RQF is being set up in a way that actively prevents open access....

One of the good outcomes of the preparation for the RQF has been that all institutions in the country have either built a repository or are preparing to do so....

But to date, the problem with encouraging open access has not been the creation of repositories. It has repeatedly been demonstrated overseas that self-depositing only accounts for about 15% of total scholarly output if there is no incentive to deposit. So open access enthusiasts were very encouraged late last year when it was announced that for the RQF, academics would be required to place their chosen four best works into a repository for the assessors.

At the time, this requirement seemed to be an excellent step towards increasing both awareness and use of repositories....

Further clarification of the reporting requirements has turned that enthusiasm to disappointment. The problem is copyright....

Recently it was announced that the assessors for the RQF will require the final publisher’s version for their assessment work. That is, the version which is restricted by copyright and cannot be made freely available in a repository....

Another blow to repository managers struggling to keep up with these constantly moving goal posts is the newly announced requirement that the assessors need to be able to click directly through to the publisher’s pdf. Almost without exception, repositories are set up so that each item has a metadata page (listing the author, title and abstract etc) with a link to the pdf....There will need to be a major reconfiguration of existing repositories to remove this page in order to fulfil this new requirement....

In the rush to ensure the RQF starts in March 2008, many of the original philosophies behind the system are being lost. Certainly what looked last year like a great opportunity to open up access to Australian science, now looks like the door being slammed once more on the people who paid for it.

Friday, June 29, 2007

University-industry agreement on "Free Participant Use Principles"

Academia, IT Industry Leaders Create New Principles for Sharing Collaborative Research, a press release from IBM, June 27, 2007.  Excerpt:

...[L]eading universities and information technology (IT) companies announced today a set of guiding principles for sharing intellectual property resulting from collaborative research.

The new Free Participant Use Principles are designed to provide a common starting point for discussions about collaboration in an industry where cross-licensing of technology is the norm, and rapid time to market is the business imperative....

The principles document an additional model for handling the intellectual property rights that arise from collaborative research between industry and university participants. They will be useful in situations where the participants intend for the results to be available to each other without fee, and to be available to others on either a free or reasonable fee basis....

UK govt reorganizes departments responsible for research and education

One of Gordon Brown's first acts as the new UK Prime Minister was to reorganize the government departments responsible for research and education.  This doesn't affect OA policy yet, but it's bound to before long.

First, Stephane Goldstein summarizes the changes:

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has lost its responsibility for the Research Councils and science policy and has become the new Department  for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (the elegant-sounding DBERR).  The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has transformed itself into the new Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), and no longer looks after higher education in England....

Out of the ashes emerges a sparkling new Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) which will, to quote the currently sparse website, "bring together the nation's strengths in science, research, universities and colleges to build a dynamic, knowledge-based economy."

So, for the first time in about fifteen years (please correct me if I'm wrong), responsibility for higher education research is not split between two Departments.  Put in another way, both strands of the dual support system will be overseen by the same Secretary of State; the man in question is John Denham, who joins the Cabinet for the first time.  In this way, all research will be directly represented at the Cabinet table in a way that hasn't been the case previously.  Good news maybe?

At time of writing, the more junior ministerial appointments haven't yet been made, so it is not yet known who will be Minister for Science, assuming there is still such a function....Nor do we yet know how the new arrangements will affect the relationships and dynamics between the Research Councils and HEFCE (the non-English funding bodies don't report to DIUS), and the operation of the Office of Science and Innovation - not to mention the future of dual support funding itself....

Universities UK generally supports the changes:

Drummond Bone, President, Universities UK, said: "This is an exciting and forward-looking move, which we welcome. It creates an extremely powerful ministry and clearly shows the central place that higher education holds in Mr Brown's vision for the future of the country. Universities are key to the generation and exploitation of new knowledge in the UK, so there is a clear rationale for moving Science and Innovation to the new department....

"It is crucial, however, that the integrity of the dual support system for funding research in universities with an unhypothecated stream of resource is not lost in this move."

OA education initiative for developing countries

The People's Open Access Education Initiative is a new OA project to improve healthcare and health education in developing countries.  From the site:

Help to build Public Health capacity in low- to middle-income countries, using open education resources freely available on the Internet

This education will involve partnerships and collaboration across the global and digital divides, and will be both credible and affordable

"A learning resource that is freely available, which makes use of already established material and seeks to modify it appropriately for local use"

From the Development Gateway Foundation:

The education programme will be low cost but highly credible, and the design embraces three aspects. First, identifying open access materials, linked to the competencies required to tackle public health problems, with subsequent modifications to the materials by teachers and students to reflect local issues. Second, teaching through on-line facilitation by volunteers in conjunction with members of local universities. Third, accrediting learned competencies....

CLA adopts OA for most of its own publications

CLA Moves Open Access, CLA digest, June 29, 2007.  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)  Excerpt:

CLA [Canadian Library Association] Executive Council has approved some recommendations from the Open Access Task Force that move CLA towards providing virtually all of its intellectual property free of charge, in digital form, online and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. The revised policy has four parts:

  • CLA will provide for full and immediate open access for all CLA publications, with the exception of Feliciter and monographs The embargo period for Feliciter is one issue, and the embargo policy itself will be reviewed after one year. Monographs will be considered for open access publishing on a case-by-case basis.
  • CLA actively encourages its members to self-archive in institutional and/or disciplinary repositories and will investigate a partnership with E-LIS, the Open Archive for Library and Information Studies.
  • CLA will generally provide for the author's retention of copyright by employing Creative Commons licensing or publisher-author agreements that promote open access.
  • CLA will continue its long-standing policy of accessibility to virtually all CLA information except for narrowly defined confidential matters (e.g. certain personnel or legal matters).

For background, see the full report of the Task Force on Open Access.

PS:  Kudos to the CLA for this large, welcome step, and kudos to the OA Task Force, convened by Heather Morrison, for its leadership.

More on emerging OA policies in Africa

Eve Gray, African Academies of Science promote access to digital knowledge resources, Gray Area, June 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

...[T]hings are moving on the African continent as university leaders tackle the challenge of the knowledge divide. A recent event that I attended was convened as an International Planning Meeting of the Inter-Academy Panel on International Issues (IAP). Organised by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the US National Academy of Science (NAS), it brought together delegates from the African Academies of Science in Pretoria in May for an intensive one-day workshop on 'Promoting Access to and use of Digital Knowledge Resources in Countries with Developing and Transitional Economies: The Role of Science Academies in Africa'.

Speaking for the host academy, Professor Wieland Gevers, Chair of the Publishing Committee of ASSAf, outlined the new role that is emerging for African Academies....In its 5 years of existence ASSAf has conducted a major research project on scholarly publication in South Africa on behalf of the Department of Science and Technology, culminating in a set of strong recommendations for the development of open access journals and repositories. Government was indicating its willingness, he said (very soon) to ask the academy to oversee the implementation of a national system of inter-operable repositories as well as a system of journals and other scholarly publishing paid for by government - on the basis of Chile....The Academy is raising funding to set up an editors' forum that would help to enhance the quality of locally-produced journals and would promote the idea of open access publishing through the green and gold routes as a way of growing and strengthening high quality research output from South Africa.

Paul Uhlir, speaking for the IAP, said that the objective was to strengthen the capacity of the African academies through an initiative to enhance access to information. using digital knowledge resources. An aim is the creation of OA institutional repositories in the developing world....

Mechanisms are needed to promote development and access in the first instance to information produced at national and regional levels and secondarily to information produced in the OECD countries....

Along with other delegates, [El Hadj Ibrahima Diop of the Senegalese Academy] expressed concern that an over-emphasis on traditional global scholarly publishing routes was alienating young academics, given the imbalances in the journal publishing indexes, which are dominated by older researchers and favour publication from countries in the North. Diop challenged the hegemony of the academic journal, with its word counts and inequitable value systems and very slow timescales - if scholarly publishing is a matter of communication, rather than the route for personal promotion, he asked, what would the most appropriate model be for what we need to communicate in Africa? If the journal is an old-fashioned genre, he said, do Africans have the courage to say this is not the route for us?

Malik Maaza of iThemba Laboratories for Accelerator-based Science in Cape Town (a project of the National Research Foundation) concurred, saying that enhancing the visibility of high quality African journals, like the South African Journal of Science, should ensure free access to peer reviewed scholarship in Africa in a short period....

In discussion, there was consensus that, in the African context, what was needed was the creation of a stable of high-quality open access journals and other publications with a regional and national focus, to raise the profile of African scholarship....

Project to enhance IRs for handling OA datasets

DataShare project to demystify data, an announcement from EDINA, June 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

EDINA is supporting DISC-UK, a national group of data librarians, with a new JISC-funded project called DataShare, exploring ways to help academics share their data over the Internet.

With four universities taking part - Edinburgh, LSE, Oxford and Southampton - a range of exemplars will emerge from the establishment of institutional data repositories and related services.

Project members will work closely with staff involved with repository management and development at their own institutions to pilot models for depositing research data into institutional repositories. The project will help to demystify complex data in repositories, and assist institutions in overcoming barriers to incorporating research data.

From EDINA's site on DataShare itself:

The DataShare project is based on a distributed model in which each partner is responsible for the work on incorporating research data into their own repositories, yet experience, support and knowledge are shared in order to increase levels of success. This builds on the existing informal collaboration of DISC-UK members (Data Information Specialists Committee) for improving their data libraries and models of data support at four institutions...It will also bring academic data libraries in closer contact with e-prints repository managers and develop new forms of cooperation between these distinct groups of information professionals within academic environments. The advantage for the broader community is to provide exemplars for a range of approaches and policies in which to embed the deposit and stewardship of datasets in institutional repositories. Indeed, among the partners there will be exemplars for the three main repository solutions: EPrints, DSpace and Fedora. Project management is based at EDINA.

Project Deliverables

  • Exemplars of the process, pitfalls and successful outcomes of setting up an institutional data repository service at each of the four institutions.
  • Documentation and open source code for adapting DSpace, Fedora and EPrints repository software for handling datasets.
  • Toolkits, briefing papers and other outputs to inform UKHE repository community about data management and research support.
  • Enhancements to partners’ IRs including testing for trusted repository status.
  • Technical watch on e-Research, VREs, Web 2.0 and related developments.
  • Papers, presentations and online dissemination of collected knowledge.

Lund launches an author's guide to scholarly journals

Lund University has launched Journal Info, an online tool to help scholars evaluate journals where they might submit their work.  The project has support from the National Library of Sweden.  (Thanks to Co-Action.)

This is another very useful service from the university that brought us the Directory of Open Access Journals and (with the U of Nottingham) OpenDOAR.

Journal Info is not limited to OA journals.  But when you look up a non-OA journal, it tells you that it's not OA and suggests some OA journals as alternatives.  For an example, see the entry for Advances in Cancer Research from Elsevier. 

The entry also tells you the publisher, ISSN, the self-archiving policy, subscription price per article, subscription price per citation, for- or non-profit status, and how the journal rates on some quality and impact metrics.  For rapid scanning, it gives a green tick mark for each parameter (e.g. access, price, impact) on which the journal falls into the top of half of the journals covered, and a red x when it falls into the bottom half.

Today the service covers 18,000 journals and is still growing.  For more information, see the FAQ, which is in English.  There is a long press release in Swedish (June 28) and a short one in English (June 29).

OA champion named to Google Health Advisory Council

Google has established a Google Health Advisory Council.  From the announcement:

Every day, people use Google to learn more about an illness, drug, or treatment, or simply to research a condition or diagnosis. We want to help users make more empowered and informed healthcare decisions, and have been steadily developing our ability to make our search results more medically relevant and more helpful to users.

Although we have some talented people here with extensive backgrounds in health policy and technology, this is an especially complex area. We often seek expertise from outside the company, and health is no exception. We have formed an advisory council, made up of healthcare experts from provider organizations, consumer and disease-based groups, physician organizations, research institutions, policy foundations, and other fields. The mission of the Google Health Advisory Council is broadly to help us better understand the problems consumers and providers face every day and offer feedback on product ideas and development. It's a great privilege for us to work with this esteemed group.

Comment.  Open access to medical research and information ought to be a central concern of the new advisory council.  It's too early to say whether OA will make it to the council's agenda, but one reason to think it will is that Sharon Terry is a member.  Terry is the President and CEO of the Genetic Alliance and an energetic champion of OA.  See her case for OA in C&RL News for July/August 2005, based on her personal struggle to learn more the genetic disease afflicting her children.  Excerpt:

Although the United States wisely invests billions of dollars in biomedical research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), we discovered that the results are locked up in very costly annual journal subscriptions and institutional licenses that can cost thousands of dollars for a single journal, or made scarce by use-limiting, per-article charges that can run as much as $30 to read a single study....If families are effectively barred from having access to these articles, what of the effect on researchers and clinicians with limited budgets striving to make new discoveries?...Our experience forces us to ask the hard question: Who really owns the NIH biomedical research we fund with our tax dollars?...It is now time to unlock this science and make it more accessible to all of us. Fortunately, change is in the works....Ultimately we would like all government agencies to require that published papers resulting from publicly funded research be deposited in PubMed Central, or similar repositories, with no embargo....We have no time to lose: we need public access to government-funded science now.

Project Gutenberg Canada to launch on Sunday

Project Gutenberg Canada --already online-- will officially launch this Sunday, Canada Day.  ResourceShelf quotes an email from Gutenberg founder Michael Hart:

The twin missions of Project Gutenberg Canada are to promote and make available, free of charge:

- Canadian literature (in both of Canada’s official languages)
- non-fiction books on Canadian history, politics, and culture

- fiction and non-fiction (from all countries) which are in the Canadian public domain
- in any language, as is appropriate for a country with Canada’s multicultural makeup...

[T]he site already includes around 200 titles by such famous Canadian authors as Emily Carr, Frederick Philip Grove, Louis Hémon, Pauline Johnson, Stephen Leacock, Nellie McClung, and L. M. Montgomery of “Anne of Green Gables” fame.

More on OA for books

Kirk Biglione, DRM for Books: Will Publishers Learn Anything from the Music Industry’s Mistakes? MediaLoper, June 25, 2007.  (Thanks to DigitalKoans.)  Excerpt:

Every once in a while you hear publishers mutter something about not wanting to make the same mistakes the music industry made. While it’s an admirable goal, the problem is that it’s not clear that we all have the same view of what those mistakes actually were. As the music industry approaches the post-DRM era, it’s pretty clear that Digital Rights Management is one big mistake that book publishers would do themselves a favor by avoiding.

The very nature of DRM runs contrary to the freedoms that all book readers know and love. The freedom to read a book anywhere, the freedom to read a book without special requirements or equipment, the freedom to loan a book to a friend, or borrow a book from a friend or library. By inserting a layer of DRM between readers and books the experience of reading is fundamentally transformed in all of the wrong ways. Not only that, DRM protected books lose all of their essential viral qualities. Unrestricted books sell themselves — DRM protected books never get the chance to.

Given the potential for disaster, it’s only appropriate that the O’Reilly TOC conference devoted a full session to Digital Rights Management. The session was was quite illuminating, if for no other reason because the conference organizers were unable to find a major trade publisher willing to speak to the advantages of using DRM....

What we were left with was a level-headed presentation by a couple of publishers who are actually using DRM-free content as a way to expand their businesses and serve their customers.

Ale de Vries of ScienceDirect spoke about his company’s service which gives subscribers unlimited access to over 2,000 peer-reviewed scientific journals in an unrestricted PDF format....

Michael Jensen of National Academies Press (NAP), a publisher of academic books and reports, described how his company has increased sales by making the full content of all of its books available for free online....

Jensen explained:

“Visibility is the killer. The worst thing for a publisher is to have your material be invisible. We’re dealing with a culture of abundance where there’s so much more material out there than anyone can ever find. It’s our job as a publisher to get our words and content into the minds of as many people as possible. The best strategy for that is to make it as open as we can afford to make it open.”

Jensen also stressed that NAP’s decision to make its content freely available was a legitimate business decision and not a form of zealotry.

“Openness matters as a business strategy, DRM gets in the way of that, creates customer service problems, and impediments to the realities of the new gigantic audiences that we’re trying to tap.” ...

While piracy is a very real problem, the truth of the matter is that DRM creates more problems than it solves. Publishers may argue that they want the right to control who copies their books — and while that is their right, in this case having the moral high ground isn’t necessarily the best business decision.

July issue of Cites & Insights

The July issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now online.  This issue contains a lengthy rebuttal to Mark Helprin's NYTimes op-ed arguing for perpetual copyrights and a lengthy new installment in his excellent series on Library Access to Scholarship.  In the latter, Walt takes on some recent examples of publisher extremism, including Brian Crawford's attack on OA ("[Brian] Crawford says, “The hypocrisy is breathtaking.” I [Walt Crawford] agree, but would suggest he’s looking in the mirror when he says that") and the ALPSP/AAP/STM position paper on balancing author and publisher rights ("about as unbalanced a statement of “balance” as I’ve seen").  Among his other topics:  the difficulty of ascertaining the costs of publishing a peer-reviewed journal article, the HHMI deal to pay Elsevier for green OA, and Rick Anderson's guest editorial on OA in Learned Publishing.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The priority of OA in Norway

Lisbet Rugtvedt, Free and open learning and research in Norway, a presentation at the Technology for Participation conference (Kristiansand, Norway, June 27, 2007).  Rugtvedt is Norway's State Secretary for the Ministry of Education and Research.  (Thanks to Co-Action.)

...The Open Access-Movement has gained momentum and attention since its inception through the Budapest Open Access Initiative back in 2002. Both pillars of Open Access – Self-archiving and Publishing – are important instruments for the preservation, dissemination and democratisation of academic work.

Open Access has a number of distinct advantages:

  • For scientists, Open Access Self-Archiving offers a centralised electronic archive for their academic work that can be easily disseminated to colleagues and interested parties.
  • The institution will be more visible.
  • Open access is instrumental in making results of academic inquiry a common good. This can be of vital importance, e.g. for developing countries, who struggle in getting access to research findings from countries in the western hemisphere.

In Norway, one of the major initiatives in the field of Open Access is NORA, a joint venture between the university libraries at several of our universities and colleges. The main goal of this project, funded by the Norwegian Digital Library, is to further a more co-ordinated and forceful development of open institutional archives in Norway. Four of our six universities have established such archives, and they collaborate on this, and the university colleges are beginning to collaborate. Other major Norwegian initiatives include the Museum Project at four of our universities aiming at the development of joint database systems for digitising the collections at our university museums as well as The Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre, which is a national source of information on biodiversity. The organisations main function is to supply the public with updated and accessible information on Norwegian species and ecosystems.

The most challenging part of Open Access is related to Open Access publishing. Open access has been the subject of much discussion amongst several groups, and some even see it as a threat. However, it is my firm belief that Open Access publishing can be an important tool in order to increase access to and dissemination of research. Dissemination is after all the third main area of activity in higher education, and we owe it to the public at large to facilitate easy access to research financed by public funding. Open Access is also well suited for younger researchers who need to get a high number of citations early in their careers.

On the other hand, let me also be clear on the following: Open Access publishing must not run the risk of being perceived as second rate. If so, Open Access publishing will by many is regarded as a fringe activity. I think the ideals of the Open Access movement should be paired with the traditions of peer reviewing well embedded in Academia.

Let me also briefly comment on the role of government with regard to Open Access. I think governments can play a number of roles as a facilitator of Open Access:

  • Governments can ensure the sufficient infrastructure for Open Access initiatives.
  • Governments can ensure that the legislation, including IPR issues, facilitates Open Access.
  • Governments must be clear advocates of academic quality and peer reviewing, also for Open Access publishing.... 

The OECD recently published a report from their study on Open Educational Resources. The report, which has the interesting title “Giving Knowledge for Free: The Emergence of Open Educational Resources” contains a number of interesting issues and finding. Let me dwell on some of these....

Ladies and gentlemen, dear guests: At the end of the day free and open learning and research goes to the very heart of our political project; to secure high quality education for all in a lifelong learning perspective. Access to digital content and training opportunities throughout our lives are necessary in modern society.

As regards Free Software and Open Access, we are grateful for the pioneering efforts of the Free Software and Open Access movement. Their invaluable work is very important for the world of education and research. Now the time has come to bridge the empowering potential of Free Software and Open Access with the need for mainstreaming and the quest for quality....

Comment.  Informed, intelligent, and inspiring.  Imagine having a cabinet secretary or minister in your country who could give this talk.

OA for development

Calestous Juma, Open access to existing technical knowledge, [Nairobi] Business Daily, June 28, 2007.  Juma is a Professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Excerpt:

One mechanism for improving human welfare in African countries is to expand the amount of essential information that is in the public domain, that is, to expand the “knowledge commons”.

A remarkable example of the use of publicly available information was the so-called Green Revolution that helped such countries as Mexico and India become self-sufficient in food production....

The knowledge commons is thus a critical foundation from which innovation develops. The well-established practice of providing an expiry date for intellectual-property rights, after which knowledge becomes publicly shared, is an illustration of the importance that society has historically attached to the role of the knowledge commons....

Scientific and medical research articles should surely be part of the knowledge commons. For the scientific and technologic communities, open-access publishing unleashes full-text literature into a single information space.

Unrestricted access to genetic and molecular information has revolutionized life-science research in recent years and has helped to establish new fields, such as proteomics and genomics.

An example of this revolution is GenBank, a public database of DNA sequences that is freely accessible to all scientists without restrictions....Open access to the broader scientific and health literature will have equally profound benefits for research on challenges faced by developing countries....

The Nairobi-based African Agricultural Technology Foundation is focusing on making proprietary technologies available royalty-free for developing new technologies for small-scale farmers....

An equivalent revolution is taking place in medical and scientific publishing. A growing number of open-access publishers not only make information free, but publish it under innovative copyright licenses which allow readers to use the results of research in innovative ways. Such licenses maximize the usefulness, impact, and value of the literature.
For example, African health ministers are licensed to make millions of copies of the report of the first randomised trial of circumcision for HIV prevention, to give a copy to every health professional in their country, to translate it into local languages without restrictions, or to create locally relevant derivative articles....

Participating libraries talk about the Google Library project

The "Google Five" Describe Progress, Challenges, Library Journal Academic Newswire, June 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

Their numbers have now swelled to 25, but what's up with the five pioneering libraries that signed on with the ever-growing Google Book Search? At the American Library Association Annual Conference, panelists from each library said they were pleased with the progress, though they acknowledged continuing challenges ranging from damaged books to search quality. Google product manager Adam Smith led off by describing the new "About the Book" page under construction for titles in Google Book Search, which includes key terms and phrases, references to the book from scholarly publications or other books, chapter titles, and a list of related books—even for books that aren't digitized....

[Harvard University Library's Dale Flecker] praised the "About this book" feature and predicted that "text mining" will be an important part of research. Tierney said that seven to ten reference questions or interlibrary loan requests a week are generated by use of Google Book Search. Dunkle added that Michigan has received more international reference questions through GBS. Thomas [of Oxford] said that the scan plan has produced "much more detailed knowledge about our collection," including the surprise that about one percent of the Bodleian Library's books have uncut pages, meaning they've never been opened.

Challenges remain, Smith conceded, including generating better metadata. Dunkle said that librarians in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), the 12-library group that recently signed a deal with Google, hope to find ways to search across the books, though "I personally think Google will get there first." Flecker said Harvard librarians also hope Google will solve some access problems. "Right now, to be frank, I don't find the retrieval in Book Search to be that impressive." Flecker said....

Emory University's Martin Halbert, speaking from the audience, briefly described his university's alternative plan in which libraries retain control of the digital volumes, and can focus on coherent subject areas. Google's Smith was magnanimous. "From Google's perspective," he said, "We view this as complementary."

How to measure success? "We'll define success as getting as much of our collection digitized as we can," observed Oxford's Thomas, noting that most of the collection doesn't circulate, and that digital access can transform scholarship. Stanford's Tierney said that she hoped the growth of the program would help convince publishers to release more material in copyright "available in non-snippet view." She said she hoped the "orphan works" issue, which leaves so much published material in copyright limbo, is resolved. "I would not want my physician to be using pre-'23 medical texts," she observed.

SPARC panel on the state of three OA publishers

At ALA, SPARC Forum Details Economic Stability of Open Access, Library Journal Academic Newswire, June 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

For roughly the past five years, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) has devoted the bulk of its energies to open access (OA). So at this year's SPARC Forum, the organization offered a progress report on OA publishing efforts, specifically, the economic stability of open access. Moderated by scientist Alma Swan, the panel featured speakers from three OA publishers with different backgrounds: Mark Patterson from the Public Library of Science, a non-profit start-up; Bryan Vickery from BioMed Central (BMC), a seven-year-old for-profit open access publisher; and Paul Peters of Hindawi, a relatively new publisher that this year transitioned from a subscription model to OA. While each publisher is at a different point on the economic stability spectrum, each reported steady, somewhat dramatic progress.

A biologist, Swan aptly quoted another biologist, Theodosius Dobzhansky to set the tone for the session: "nothing makes sense except in the light of evolution." She then detailed the evolution of open access, noting that roughly 2500 journals were now OA, nearly 10 percent of all academic journals according to the Directory of Open Access Journals. While OA can be applied in many models, the $7 billion STM industry is moving from journals to databases, as researchers search for articles rather than publications, and that the momentum behind OA is also visible anecdotally. Swan noted that she sees personnel often move to OA publishers from posts at major publishers like Elsevier. "But how many do you see moving the other way?" she asked.

Patterson gave a brief overview of PLoS's efforts. PLoS has clearly succeeded in creating a brand, and that submissions were rising sharply, now numbering over 200 a month. PloS journals are peer-reviewed, can publish articles quickly, and increasingly offer a suite of community-enhancing Web 2.0 tools, he noted, which offer authors value for the author charges paid. While PloS is not yet economically sustainable, it's moving in that direction. The exception: PLoS One, the organization's general science publication, which is financed by $1250 per article author charges and is currently sustainable. The two flagship journals, PLoS Medicine and PLoS Biology, which charge authors $2750 per article, are more specialized and more costly Some 90 percent of authors pay author charges, while the rest are subsidized by the publisher.

BMC's Vickery said that the seven-year-old publisher now publishes 170 OA journals, with roughly 25,000 articles, and now generates 4500 submissions per quarter. He said BMC was hoping to announce that it was profitable by the year's end. He put BMC's costs at around 47 cents per article download, which he said was well below what commercial publishers claim. He also endorsed the idea of institutional repositories as "complementary" to open access publishing.

Peters said that all 80 of Hindawi's journals are now fully OA. Hindawi, which began in 1997 as a subscription publisher, began the shift in 2004 after facing the challenge in attracting subscribers in a heavily consolidated budget-squeezed market. While panelists mainly discussed the viability of OA publishing, Peters turned the tables bluntly calling the subscription market unworkable. Authors choose where to publish, but libraries buy the bulk of the output, he noted, and that disconnect removes or obscures the authors' incentive to seek value in any publishing deal....

Nature OA supplement on glycochem and glycobio

Nature has created another OA supplement, this time on Glycochemistry & Glycobiology.  (Thanks to Graham Steel.)

Senate committee approves OA mandate for NIH

Congressional Panel Favors Access To Publicly Funded Research, a press release from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), June 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

Public access to NIH-funded research took a major step forward this week with Senate Appropriations Committee agreement to direct the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to require that its funded research be made publicly available on the Internet.

This milestone was immediately praised by the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), a coalition of patient groups, researchers, consumers, and libraries that has long called for such a step.

"The momentum is real and Congress understands the public's interest," said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, an ATA founding member). "We congratulate Senators Tom Harkin and Arlen Specter for their bipartisan leadership on this issue."

"It is significant that Senate appropriators are determined to leverage the taxpayer investment in research by ensuring it can be broadly applied," added Joseph. "Two years after the well-intentioned voluntary NIH policy was introduced, too many researchers, students, small businesses, and people facing diseases still lack access to the publicly funded research they want and need. This is a big step in the right direction."

The Senate's 2008 appropriations bill specifically requires that NIH-funded researchers deposit in the National Library of Medicine's online archive [PubMed Central] an electronic copy of their peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication in a journal. Articles would become publicly available no later than 12 months after publication.

"Action by our Senators in supporting this change is especially welcomed by the patient community," said Colleen Zak, Executive Director of the Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease and Congenital Hepatic Fibrosis (ARPKD/CHF) Alliance. "Delivering on the NIH public access policy will create anticipated opportunities for accelerating research and finding cures."

Under the current NIH Public Access Policy, implemented in May 2005, investigators have deposited less than five percent of eligible manuscripts and, although a few publishers have also deposited articles stemming from NIH-funded research, the vast majority is not yet publicly available.

Congress has expressed concern about the voluntary policy's failure to meet its goals. However, this is the first time the Senate committee has proposed legislative action to correct the situation. The Senate measure is similar to one recently put forth by the House of Representatives Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee.

The FY08 Senate Appropriations Bill is expected to go before the full Senate for a vote later this summer. The House Labor/HHS Appropriations measure will be considered by the full House Appropriations Committee in July.

PS:  Don't confuse this with last week's news that the OA mandate had been approved by the Senate appropriations subcommittee responsible for the NIH (the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies).  Today's news is that the full Senate Appropriations Committee has approved it.   This brings us one step closer to an OA mandate at the NIH.  But we're still several steps short of the goal and still need approval by the full Senate, approval of a similar bill by the House, reconciliation in a conference committee (if the two bills differ), and the signature of the President.

UK govt position on access to public information

The UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has issued The Government Response to the Office of Fair Trading Study on removing access barriers to public sector information (June 2007).  Excerpt:

  1. ...The OFT’s report concentrates on the commercial use of public sector information by customers.
  2. Public sector information holders (PSIHs) are usually the only source for much of this raw data, and although some make this available to businesses for free, others charge. A number of PSIHs also compete with businesses in turning the raw information into value-added products and services. This could enable PSIHs to restrict access to information provided solely by themselves.
  3. The OFT study found that raw information is not as easily available as it should be, licensing arrangements are restrictive, prices are not always linked to costs and PSIHs may be charging higher prices to competing businesses and giving them less attractive terms than their own value-added operations.
  4. The report has also found that...the full benefits of public sector information are not being realised. OFT has estimated that the market could increase from £400m to over £1billion annually.
  5. The Government acknowledges the estimated economic benefits highlighted in the OFT report. At the same time Government has to consider the costs, ensuring the on-going financial provision of the information currently collected, the fiscal cost and the costs to the bodies affected by the OFT’s recommendations....
  6. The government welcomes the recommendations, and is able to accept the majority at this point....
  7. We are unable to accept all the recommendations at this time....

For those of us interested in OA to publicly-funded research, here's the key OFT recommendation and the government's reply:

OFT recommendation

9.22 We recommend that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) reviews the case for including documents held by government research establishments within the scope of the Re-use Directive.


As the OFT report notes, the Commission’s forthcoming review of the Re-use Directive provides an opportunity to review the coverage of public research organisations. We would be willing to participate in the Commission’s review, although we do not at present believe that a case has been made for extending the coverage of the Directive. Commercial operations of public research organisations are still relatively small scale. There is no evidence to suggest market distortions are occurring, but if such evidence emerges we would of course review the position.

The terms of the OFT report mention briefly the issue of data from public research organisations, and this paragraph contains the Government’s response in relation to such organisations. In relation to this, the Government supports the policy with regard to dissemination of publicly funded research laid out in a Research Council UK position statement published in June 2006. The models and mechanisms for publication and access to research must be both efficient and cost-effective in the use of public funds. Public research organisations should be able, in handling any requests for data, to recover the full economic costs they incur, including collection, maintenance and delivery, to sustain the public sector investment in their research.... 

Comment.  The last paragraph is inconsistent.  The RCUK position statement endorses open access (indeed, mandatory open access).  The government cannot support that policy and call for cost-recovery access fees at the same time.

BMC comment on HHMI policy

Matthew Cockerill, publisher of BioMed Central, has commented on the new OA mandate from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI):

In a significant development for the open access movement, the Howard Hughes Medical Institutes (HHMI) this week became the first large research funder in the USA to require its investigators to make their published results openly accessible. The policy on Public Access to Publications, announced this week, requires HHMI Investigators to ensure that all biomedical articles on which they are a major author are made freely accessible within at most 6 months of publication, and are deposited in PubMed Central .

The policy also proposes a clear mechanism for enforcement, indicating that, in future, only articles published in compliance with the policy will be eligible for consideration when investigators HHMI appointments are reviewed.

HHMI's President, Tom Cech, discussed the background to the Insitute's open access policy in the May issue of the HHMI Bulletin.

A notable aspect of HHMI's initiative on open access is that the Insitute has agreed to pay some traditional publishers up to $1500 (on top of subscription revenue) in order to ensure that HHMI retains the right to post a copy of the author's manuscript version (not the final published version) on to PubMed Central after a 6 month embargo period. This emphasizes the importance attached to open access by HHMI, but also makes clear the value for money offered by BioMed Central's article processing charge (APC). 

BioMed Central's typical APC, after institutional discount, is less than $1500 and this cost is instead of subscription revenue, not in addition to it. In return for this payment, BioMed Central makes the official final version of published articles freely available on PubMed Central immediately on publication, and also makes the articles freely available for reuse and redistribution.

Many HHMI Investigators have already published in BioMed Central's open access journals. We hope that the Institute's new policy on open access will encourage further HHMI researchers to give our journals a try....

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Open access to research infrastructure

The June issue of First Monday is now online.  None of the papers is on OA to research articles or data, but these six are on open access to research infrastructure:

  • Paul Avery, Open Science Grid: Building and Sustaining General Cyberinfrastructure Using a Collaborative Approach.  Abstract:   I describe in this paper the creation and operation of the Open Science Grid (OSG), a distributed shared cyberinfrastructure driven by the milestones of a diverse group of research communities. The effort is fundamentally collaborative, with domain scientists, computer scientists and technology specialists and providers from more than 70 U.S. universities, national laboratories and organizations providing resources, tools and expertise. The evolving OSG facility provides computing and storage resources for particle and nuclear physics, gravitational wave experiments, digital astronomy, molecular genomics, nanoscience and applied mathematics. The OSG consortium also partners with campus and regional grids, large projects such as TeraGrid, Earth System Grid, Enabling Grids for E–sciencE (EGEE) in Europe and related efforts in South America and Asia to facilitate interoperability across national and international boundaries.

  • Dan L. Burk, Intellectual Property and Cyberinfrastructure. Abstract: The development of a new generation of cyberinfrastructure promises to increase and facilitate globally distributed scientific collaboration as well as access to scientific research via computer networks. But the potential for such access and collaboration is subject to concerns regarding the intellectual property rights that will be associated with networked data and with networked collaborative activity. Intellectual property regimes are generally problematic in the practice of science, because scientific research typically assumes practices of openness that may be hampered or obstructed by intellectual property rights. These difficulties are likely to be exacerbated in the context of networked collaboration, where the development and use of intellectual resources will likely be distributed among many researchers in a variety of physical locations, often spanning national boundaries. Such issues may be addressed by a combination of public and private approaches, including amendment of U.S. law to recognize transborder collaborative work, and adoption of clarifying contractual agreements among those who are collaborating via cyberinfrastructure, including cautious adaptation of “viral” licensing from the open source coding community.

  • Sara Boettiger, Issues in IP Management to Support Open Access in Collaborative Innovation Models.  Abstract:   Building Web–based collaborative environments to encourage innovation in patentable technology provides different challenges than those found in the realm of copyrightable material. Cyberinfrastructure can be designed to encourage a free exchange of information and ideas that produces well–documented benefits for collaborators. But this may come at the cost of foregone patent rights, as the disclosure of information can limit options to patent. If the goal is open access, though, some argue that the predisposition toward the public domain is an important element. This essay argues that achieving openness in fields of patentable technology may require cyberinfrastructure that is designed to accommodate flexibility in the management of intellectual property. First, the potential value of patents is explored as they support the goal of open access. For some technologies, collaborative cyberinfrastructure may inadvertently restrict open access because placing a technology in the public domain removes the leverage a patent owner has to influence downstream activity. Second, this paper considers the potential role of defensive publishing in cyberinfrastructure; a lack of control over how the inventions are published may make it easier for others to surround the published technology with patents, ultimately limiting open access. In some instances, strategic defensive publishing may be warranted in order to place technologies more securely in the public domain. Both of these discussions explore the likelihood that designing cyberinfrastructure for innovation in patentable technology fields demands a keen understanding of the interface between the public domain and patents, and also a balance between retaining options for IP management and enabling the fluidity of collaboration.

  • Brett M. Frischmann, Infrastructure Commons in Economic Perspective.  No abstract.  Excerpt:  This essay briefly summarizes a theory (developed in substantial detail elsewhere) that better explains why there are strong economic arguments for managing and sustaining infrastructure resources in an openly accessible manner. This theory facilitates a better understanding of how these fundamental resources generate value for society and how decisions regarding the allocation of access to such resources affects social welfare. The key insights from this analysis are that infrastructure resources generate value as inputs into a wide range of productive processes and that the outputs from these processes are often public goods and nonmarket goods that generate positive externalities that benefit society as a whole. Managing such resources in an openly accessible manner may be socially desirable from an economic perspective because doing so facilitates these downstream productive activities. For example, managing the Internet infrastructure in an openly accessible manner facilitates active citizen involvement in the production and sharing of many different public and nonmarket goods. Over the past decade, this has led to increased opportunities for a wide range of citizens to engage in entrepreneurship, political discourse, social network formation and community building, among many other activities.

  • Arti K. Rai, Knowledge Commons: The Case of the Biopharmaceutical Industry.  No abstract.  Excerpt:  While they have resisted legislative reform, pharmaceutical firms have repeatedly engaged in private action to promote commons of various sorts. This article describes, and compares, two types of commons creation in which pharmaceutical firms have recently engaged. In one case, the aim has been to defeat a proliferation of upstream property rights that might threaten an “anti–commons.” In the other, the aim is to solve the daunting research problem of predicting drug safety and efficacy ex ante, before expensive failures in late–stage clinical trials or after the drug has been marketed.

  • Joel West, Seeking Open Infrastructure: Contrasting Open Standards, Open Source and Open Innovation.  No abstract.  Excerpt:  While “open” normally has connotations of public goods, the idea of “open”–ness has been used for decades as a competitive strategy by firms in the computers and communications industries. Phrases like “open standard,” “open source” and more recently “open innovation” have been used to refer to these strategies.  What do they have in common? Which ones really are “open”? What does “open” mean, anyway?  To consider the issues faced in the creation and adoption of cyberinfrastructure, here I contrast firm strategies for these three types of “open”–ness in the context of their respective business models....After considering the general issues of openness in IT systems, I look more specifically at the questions of openness as they related to a possible cyberinfrastructure designed to enable new forms of scientific research and collaboration in the twenty–first century

  • Sacha Wunsch­Vincent, Taylor Reynolds, and Andrew Wyckoff, Implementing Openness: An International Institutional Perspective.  Abstract:   The debate on “openness” has tended to focus on standard setting, software copyrights, patent policy and collaborative innovation models – large issues that evoke heated debates that take on a quasi–religious dimension. As these issues start to enter onto the mainstream public policy agenda of many countries, moving these ideas from punditry to policies is not obvious.  But openness also manifests itself in less visible, more tractable issues such as open access to infrastructure, scientific research and use of public data and information — fundamental elements of “cyberinfrastructure.” While perhaps less visible in the public debate, these elements provide lessons on how to implement openness into public policy and outline an ecology for supporting openness. Our experience reveals that it is important to break down the issues into practical elements that bureaucracies can implement, where metrics can be devised that allow dispassionate economic analysis, where divisive issues can be isolated, and where the stakeholders are not so diverse.

Guide to open data licensing

The Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) has released its Guide to Open Data Licensing.  From today's announcement:

Over the last month we’ve been working to produce a Guide to Open Data Licensing. As the name should make clear this is a guide to licensing data aimed particularly at those who want to make their data open. The guide is currently located on the wiki so that anyone can edit and update it....

While attending XTech back in May it became clear that there were a lot of questions both about the legal status of data and what approaches to use when licensing it — something that had also become apparent following on from Jo’s post back in April on copyright not being applicable to geodata).

We started work on the guide in order to have something which could help answer these kinds of questions. At present it is roughly divided into two sections. The first section deals with the practical question of how to license your data. The second section discusses what kinds of intellectual property-like rights exist in data in various jurisdictions.

This guide is very much in an ‘alpha’ state, with much that can be done to improve and extend it. We’ve been working on it in the wiki precisely so that anyone may edit it and we’d welcome contributions — whether it be adding new sections and use cases or just fixing typos. So please, check it out and feel free to make changes.

Is Google planning to become a publisher?

Leigh Watson Healy, Google as Publisher: Is Google Poised for a New Push into the Information Industry?  Outsell, May 2007.  The report is not OA and not even close (it costs $1,295).  But the thesis is interesting.  From the press release:

A new Outsell, Inc. report on Google’s technology reveals that Google can enter the publishing industry at any time with the “flip of a switch.”

“News publishers and providers, book and magazine publishers, and directory providers are all in Google’s line of fire,” said Leigh Watson Healy, Chief Analyst, Outsell.

[The report]...looks at how Google’s technical infrastructure, patents and agile development processes give the company the readiness to enter the publishing segment, whether accidentally or intentionally. A unique feature of the report is a comprehensive list of Google’s publishing-related patents, which can be “powered up” under the right circumstances. Google has also assembled technologies that extend along the entire spectrum of publishing’s core functions—-from content acquisition to e-commerce and royalty payments.

According to Stephen E. Arnold, GGReport’s technology analyst, “Pundits focus on Google’s search and advertising business. Google has developed powerful content acquisition and publishing tools under the radar of most Wall Street analysts and publishers. Combined with Google’s Checkout, a payment system similar to eBay’s, Google can become a one-stop shop and disintermediate anyone between the author or content creator and the buyer.”

The Outsell report analyzes:

  • Google’s content creation engine.
  • The cost and automation advantages of Google’s “intelligent” publishing system over a traditional publisher’s operation—which represent formidable barriers to entry.
  • Essential actions for existing publishers and information providers that want to remain competitive should Google make a move, such as quickly adopting an agile publishing platform.

Sweden aims to increase OA share of national research output

Sweden's has announced a new project to improve the infrastructure for the nation's research output and at the same time to increase the OA portion of that output.  The project is called Unified access to and reporting of Swedish scientific publications.  (Thanks to Co-Action.)  Excerpt:

...[S]oon you will be able to access the total Swedish research publishing output at a single place. A planned new service aims to improve the accessibility and visibility of research publications created by Swedish researchers, including a growing share of Open Access web publications. It will also provide a secure infrastructure for the reporting of research output. The National Library of Sweden has granted 1.5 million [kroner] to a project led by the university libraries of Uppsala, Lund and Gothenburg in cooperation with the Department for LIBRIS at the National Library

Unified access to and reporting of Swedish scientific publications

The project will develop a service that

  • Harvests metadata for all Swedish scientific publications from the publication databases of all Higher Education institutions
  • Makes the metadata accessible for searching by end users and for harvesting to other services
  • Facilitates the use of the metadata for the reporting and analysis of the Swedish scientific publishing output.

The strategic aim is to

  • Improve the visibility of Swedish scientific publications
  • Improve the accessibility of Swedish scientific publications,
  • Increase the share of Swedish scientific publications that is Open Access
  • Provide a unified and comparable basis for reporting of Swedish scientific publishing output
  • Provide incentives for institutional publication databases to increase their coverage and adhere to common standards...

Public funds for scientific articles in German Wikipedia

Torsten Kleinz and Craig Morris, German Wikipedia receives state funding, Heise Online, June 26, 2007.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)  Excerpt:

For the first time, the German edition of the open Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia will be receiving state funding. Germany will be setting aside part of its budget to improve information about renewable resources in Wikipedia. Over the next few years, several hundred articles will be written on this issue.

"A number of key words already have excellent entries in the German Wikipedia" within the field of renewable resources, explains Andreas Schütte. Schütte is the executive director of the Renewable Resources Agency (FNR), which receives funding from the German Ministry of Nutrition, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection to conduct research on renewable resources with an eye to launching products on the market. At the same time, Schütte says that a number of key words in the German Wikipedia have very short descriptions, are not up to date, or are missing entirely....

The Wikipedia Deutschland organization will be assisting the program on behalf of Wikipedia. Such collaboration is unprecedented for the open encyclopedia. While no money will be contributed to the expensive operation of Wikipedia's servers, the organization will at least be receiving financial support for the further development of Wikipedia content....

Cool tool parses journal RSS feeds for user interests

Matthew Cockerill, Track the latest open access research relating to your favorite taxon, BioMed Central blog, June 26, 2007.  Excerpt:

uBioRSS is a nifty service from the MBLWHOI Library at Woods Hole, which harvests bibliographic information about new articles from publishers' RSS feeds, and then passes them through the uBio taxonomic classification system which identifies any species that are mentioned in the article, and classifies the article appropriately.

This makes it possible to browse the literature taxonomically, so that, for example you might view a list of all the latest articles on cetaceans far more easily than can be done using plain text search.

What's more, it is possible to filter articles by source, so you an easily taxonomically browse just BioMed Central's open access articles. The site also offers an alerting service, so you can choose to be notified of new articles which relate to your particular taxon of interest.

uBioRSS is a great example of the way in which semantic enrichment can add value to the literature, and shows how it is particularly effective when combined with open access, as this then allows the semantic enrichment to be applied not just to the text of the title and abstract, but to the entire full text. To see an example of this in action, check out the UBio taxonomically-enhanced PubMed Central full text search....

Comment.  This is very cool and could be adapted to the important subtopics of any discipline.  I like the way it supports both OA and TA journals, since both can support RSS feeds, and I like the way it's inherently optimized for OA literature, since it provides direct links to free full text.

Do libraries catalog OA journals?

On June 18, Susanna Powers of Tulane University posted this query to the ERIL (Electronic Resources in Libraries) list:

Does your library have a policy for including open access publications in the local catalog or other web-based discovery sources?    If so, we would appreciate hearing to what formal extent you treat these titles to support your users’ needs, and how selective you are in representing them in alongside the traditional (paid) electronic resources.    

Yesterday she summarized the responses:

My question...was sent to NASIG-L, SERIALST, and ERIL-L, and I received 29 responses....Of these 29 recipients:

  • Only three said that they did not catalog open access or other freely available electronic publications.
  • Only one said a short bibliographic record was included in the catalog for these publications.
  • Most of these institutions used either Serials Solutions or SFX to create a local A-Z listing linked to their web site.
  • Only one said explicitly that no A-Z list is maintained.
  • Two have formal policies for open access, appearing on their web sites.   Criteria for selection are similar to those for paid publications.
  • Three stated they have no policy about selecting and documenting open-access, but in practice, freely available e-journals and integrating resources are included.
  • Ongoing maintenance of links was not commented upon much at all.

The general impression from this quick scan is that of those having time to respond to my message, most routinely select and catalog open-access publications alongside their expensive counterparts, in the same work-flow process....

Is HINARI a step backwards?

Javier Villafuerte-Gálvez, Walter H. Curioso, and Oscar Gayoso, Biomedical Journals and Global Poverty: Is HINARI a Step Backwards? PLoS Medicine, June 26, 2007.  A letter to the editor.  Excerpt:

...Our experience in Peru with the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI), an initiative managed by the World Health Organization that helps promote access to scientific information by providing free (or low cost) online access to major science journals, is not as accessible as hoped for and, in fact, is getting worse. When HINARI launched in 2003, it provided access to more than 2,300 major journals in biomedical and related social sciences.

In April 2007, we conducted a review of the first 150 science journals available through HINARI with the highest impact factors on the Science Citation Index. We excluded open-access journals and journals that make online access free to low-income countries (e.g., The New England Journal of Medicine, British Medical Journal Publishing Group). We could not access any of the top five journals from major publishers such as Nature and Elsevier-Science Direct....In addition, we could not access any of the first-level journals from Blackwell, Oxford Press University, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, or Wiley and Sons. In 2003, all these journals were available.

Our findings support comments received from users over the last 8–10 months at the main library at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia....Students and faculty could not get access to biomedical journals from Nature, Elsevier-Science Direct, Blackwell, Oxford Press University, Springer Science, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, or Wiley and Sons through HINARI. The collections of journals from the above-mentioned publishers together represent approximately 57% (2,118 of 3,741) of journals that were supposed to be accessible through HINARI, while the remaining 43% accessible were largely composed of open-access journals or journals that make online access free to low-income countries.

Moreover, we have found a significant decrease in the number of users accessing HINARI at our institution. For example, the number of HINARI users has decreased from 12,144 in April 2005 to 5,655 in April 2007, which may reflect the loss of impact of the HINARI initiative at our institution. In contrast, the number of users accessing other databases such as ProQuest and EBSCO has increased over the last few months.

Our findings suggest that we not only have access to a reduced number of biomedical journals on HINARI, but we also have no access to the biomedical journals that have the highest impact factors....

Since 2003, Peruvian medical students and health professionals have substantially benefited from access to high-quality scientific information through HINARI....Not even some private universities in Peru can afford the minimum journal subscription rates....Having to pay US$1,000 per year to HINARI has left many public universities in the provinces of Peru without access because they cannot afford it. Even for the Peruvian institutions that are currently paying US$1,000 per year to HINARI, what is the real benefit of their HINARI subscription now? ...

In conclusion, students and researchers in developing countries such as Peru, working at the frontlines of global health problems, need to access more biomedical journals in order to practice evidence-based health care and conduct high-quality research. The recent loss of access to many key biomedical journals in Peru could be a step backwards. We hope the situation described in this letter might help lend support to the proposal of Godlee et al., who suggested that the World Health Organization and its partners should take the lead in establishing an international collaborative group along the lines of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to achieve the goal of “Universal access to essential health-care information by 2015” or “Health information for all” ...

ERIC provides OA to digitized microfiche docs

The US Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) has reported the first results of its (OA) Microfiche Digitization Project.  From its June 24 announcement:

ERIC is pleased to announce release of the first wave of content from the Microfiche Digitization Project. This first release provides full text access to more than 20,000 documents published on microfiche by ERIC between 1988 and 1992. Thousands of copyright holders, both individual authors and institutions, have given ERIC permission to scan and display older work previously available only in microfiche. Additional full-text content will continue to be released over the next two years.

ERIC is still seeking contributors of older works. If you or someone you know has work in ERIC that is available in microfiche only, please go to to learn more about the digitization initiative. Granting permission will ensure that older materials are widely accessible.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

New OA journal of sociology of literature

COnTEXTES:  Revue de sociologie de la littérature is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from and the Department of Languages and Romance Literature at the University of Liege.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Manual for Swiss universities planning OA repositories

Beatrice Bürgi, Open Access an Schweizer Hochschulen, Churer Schriften zur Informationswissenschaft, June 2007.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Because the file is a PDF, I can't link to a machine translation.

HHMI mandates OA but pays publishers to allow it

HHMI Announces New Policy for Publication of Research Articles, a press release from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), June 26, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute today announced that it will require its scientists to publish their original research articles in scientific journals that allow the articles and supplementary materials to be made freely accessible in a public repository within six months of publication.

“We have sought to balance the goal of public access with the important principle of scholarly freedom in the formulation of this policy and believe that it represents a positive step for us and for the broader scientific community,” said Thomas R. Cech, HHMI's president.

Announcement of the policy follows extensive consultation within the community of HHMI scientists....It represents an extension of existing policies that already require HHMI scientists to share published research materials, databases, and software in a timely and useful fashion.

The policy applies to all manuscripts submitted on or after January 1, 2008, for which an HHMI scientist is a major author....For purposes of the policy, HHMI defines a major author as those listed first or last on a paper; however, if a middle author is designated as the corresponding author, then that individual would be considered the major author.

HHMI has designated PubMed Central (PMC), the free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences literature maintained by the National Institutes of Health, as the repository for journals in the biological sciences. Articles published in journals that are outside the biological sciences are expected to be deposited in comparable repositories and made publicly available within six months.

Cech noted that many journals in which HHMI scientists publish original research articles already meet the policy requirements. Several months ago, HHMI reached an agreement with Elsevier that brings Cell Press and Elsevier journals into compliance with the new policy. The agreement with Elsevier goes into effect on September 1 for all manuscripts submitted after that date.

HHMI also announced today that it has signed an agreement with John Wiley & Sons. Beginning with manuscripts submitted October 1, Wiley will arrange for the upload of author manuscripts of original research articles, along with supplemental data, on which any HHMI scientist is an author to PMC. The author manuscript has been through the peer review process and accepted for publication, but has not undergone editing and formatting. HHMI will pay Wiley a fee for each uploaded article.

In addition, the American Society of Hematology, which publishes the journal Blood, has extended its open access option to HHMI authors effective October 1. Cech said that discussions with other publishers are ongoing.

The policy and supporting resources have been posted on the Institute web site and may be found [here].

To supplement this press release see

  1. The policy itself, dated June 11, 2007, to take effect January 1, 2008
  2. The Institute's new page on HHMI & Public Access Publishing


  • HHMI is finally mandating that its grantees provide OA to their published articles based on HHMI-funded research within six months of publication.  We knew last October that it was planning to adopt a mandate, but now it's a reality.  Moreover, HHMI is taking the same hard line that the Wellcome Trust has taken:  if a grantee's intended publisher will not allow OA on the funder's terms, then the grantee must look for another publisher.  This is all to the good.  Funders should mandate OA to the research they fund, and they should take advantage of the fact that they are upstream from publishers.  They should require grantee compliance, not depend on publisher permission.
  • But unfortunately, HHMI is continuing its practice of paying publishers for green OA.  I criticized this practice in SOAN for April 2007 and I stand by that criticism.  HHMI should not have struck a pay-for-green deal with Elsevier and should not be striking a similar deal with Wiley.  HHMI hasn't announced how much it's paying Wiley, and it's possible that the Wiley fees are lower than the Elsevier fees.  But it's possible that they're just as high:  $1,000 - $1,500.  We do know that its Wiley fees will not buy OA to the published edition, but only OA to the unedited version of the author's peer-reviewed manuscript.  HHMI hasn't said whether its Wiley fees will buy unembargoed OA or OA with a CC license.  The Wellcome Trust's fees to Elsevier buy three things of value --immediate OA, OA to the published edition, and OA with a CC license-- while HHMI's fees to Elsevier buy none of these things.  If HHMI gets all three of these valuable things for its Wiley fees, then it's basically paying for gold OA and no one can object to fees that are high enough to cover the publisher's expenses.  But paying for green OA, when the publisher's expenses are covered by subscription revenue, is wrong and unnecessary even if the fees are low.   For details, see my April article.

Update.  I just received this clarification from Avice Meehan, HHMI's Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs:

This policy affects HHMI investigators and scientists at the Janelia Farm Research Campus. They are employees of the Institute (not grantees) and represent the bulk of our scientific activity.   For the moment, this policy does not affect the International Research Scholars, who are scientists supported by HHMI through a grants mechanism and conduct research outside the US.

More on Elsevier's OA Topic Pages

Paula J. Hane, Scirus Partners With FAST and Elsevier Publishing to Create Topic Pages, Information Today NewsBreaks, June 26, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Scirus has announced it is partnering with FAST and the Elsevier Publishing Division to provide an additional free online resource for the scientific community that will create more of a portal community for the Scirus site. Scirus is now working to pull together relevant academic information on a particular scientific topic of interest to researchers on a single Web page. The new specialized Topic Pages are being designed to provide relevant, up-to-date information; encourage collaboration; and create new scientific Web communities. Beta versions of a few Topic Pages should be available soon at, with user tests planned for the coming months. The official launch is planned for later this year—estimated to be 3Q.

Each Topic Page will provide researchers with summaries of a specific topic written by an authority in the particular subject area, with direct links to relevant scholarly papers, abstracts and citations, supplemented with relevant Web sites and other online resources from Scirus. In the initial phase, Elsevier editors will select and invite authors for the Topic Pages. As more pages are developed, additional authoring options will be considered....

Scirus will use Elsevier's Scopus service to provide journal-related results in the Topic Pages as it covers more than 15,000 journals from 4,000 publishers.  [Joris van Rossum, head of Scirus] stressed that Topic Pages would not favor Elsevier sources but would include the broader Scopus content....

Scirus searches many more sources, of course, including free Web information and proprietary content....The many special sources include preprints, eprints, patents, technical documents, theses and dissertations, and full-text documents from a number of projects and digital repositories.

When the Topic Pages product officially launches, it will provide functionality to allow scientists and researchers to alter the content and provide feedback, allowing each topic to be shaped by the suggestions made by the research community at large. The pages will be expanded to include capabilities such as the ability for researchers to link to their bibliographies and comment on other researchers' works. The developers hope that the Topic Pages will serve as a place to find peers, communicate with other scientists, upload and rate a wide variety of relevant sources, and help shape and influence the tools and information provided on the Topic Pages themselves....

A search launched from a Topic Page will provide results tailored to the topic and the community....Future search functionality in the product will leverage the results of other searches and the community feedback....

Dan Penny, an analyst at Outsell, Inc., pointed out the similarity of the Topic Pages to Wikipedia's display of content—with both aiming to provide comprehensive guides to a topic. However, he commented, "When it comes to providing a platform for informal communication between scientists, Topic Pages may find that emulating Wikipedia's success is more difficult." He suggests that the communication might fall "awkwardly between two stools: it is, after all, more formal than a comment in a blog, but less formal than paid-for content in a peer-reviewed journal." But, Penny said that Topic Pages might find success "in subject areas where there is a lively community and plenty of scope for discussion."

U of Amsterdam has an OA publishing fund

In January 2007, the University of Amsterdam launched an Open Access fund to help its faculty pay the publication fees at fee-based OA journals.  From the fund page:

Since January 2007, the UvA has a dedicated fund of 150.000 EUR per year for the full financing of open access publishing.  Researchers can utilise the OA fund in order to finance OA publication costs until the end of 2009. All applications will be honoured as long as the funds last. NB: these funds are solely earmarked for financing the costs of ‘open access’ publication and not for ‘ordinary’ publication costs.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) provides a complete overview of all ‘open access’ journals, incl. the so-called ‘hybrid’ journals by Elsevier, Springer, Blackwell, etcetera. for which the funds may also be used.

The UvA is a member of the Public Library of Science (PLOS) and BioMed Central, entitling us to a discount when publishing in these publisher’s journals....

Saskia Woutersen-Windhouwer in the U of Amsterdam library tells me that the fund will be evaluated after three years and has received an average of two applications per week.

Comment.  Kudos to Amsterdam.  When the U of Nottingham announced its OA fund earlier this month, I wondered whether there were others.  I thank Saskia Woutersen-Windhouwer for letting me know about the Amsterdam fund and I repeat my call for others.  We'll see many more of these as time goes on, but I want to identify the early leaders.

Overview of open science

Frank Gibson, a scientist participating in the CARMEN open-data neuroscience project, has written a lengthy blog post defining and supporting open science.

New blog for OA to public data in Canada

DataLibre is a new "group blog, inspired by, which believes all levels of Canadian governments should make civic information and data accessible at no cost in open formats to their citizens."  (Thanks to Montreal Tech Watch.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Free online topic pages coming from Elsevier

Elsevier and FAST will offer free online "topic pages" on scientific topics.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  From today's announcement: announced a partnership with Fast Search & Transfer (FAST(tm)) to create a new free online resource for the scientific community.  Hosted on Scirus, Elsevier's free search engine for scientific information, Topic Pages will pull together a variety of highly relevant academic information on a particular scientific topic of interest to researchers on a single web page.  The Topic Pages will utilize intelligent search capabilities from the FAST Enterprise Search Platform (ESP).

Topic Pages are an innovative way for scientists to communicate in an informal and flexible way. Each Topic Page will provide researchers with summaries of a specific topic written by an authority in the particular subject area, with direct links to relevant scholarly papers, abstracts and citations, supplemented with relevant websites and other online resources from Scirus. In the initial phase, authors for Topic Pages are invited through an editorial process facilitated through Elsevier publishing staff. As more pages are developed, additional authoring options will be considered....

At the official Topic Page launch later this year, the functionality of the Topic Pages will allow scientists and researchers to alter the content and provide feedback, allowing each topic to be shaped by the suggestions made by the research community. Based on this community approach, Topic Pages might be expanded to include capabilities such as the ability for researchers to link to their bibliographies and comment on other researchers' works. In addition, the Topic Pages will serve as a place to find peers, communicate with other scientists, upload and rate a wide variety of relevant sources and help to shape and influence the tools and information provided on the Topic Pages themselves.

Update. The Topics Pages site is now online, along with nine test pages. See e.g. the test pages on Evolutionary Economics and Serine Proteases.

OKF's Open Textbook Project

The Open Knowledge Foundation has launched its Open Textbook Project.  From today's announcement:

Today we are pleased to announce the launch of Open Textbook, a place to list and keep track of news about textbooks that are open in accordance with the Open Knowledge Definition — i.e. free to use, reuse, and redistribute. We welcome participation in the project and if anyone has a textbook or notes they’d like to see listed or would like to be a contributor to the site please head on over to [the site].

We’ve been planning work on open textbooks ever since the Open Knowledge Foundation started in 2004....

Things started to get moving properly back in February, when Steve Coast (of OpenStreetMap) was kind enough to donate us the... domain....

[M]eetings and discussion at the recent iCommons summit proved the catalyst to officially launch the site. The Summit saw many people express an interest in open text books and we’re looking to collaborate as widely as possible. Information about the questions and issues raised can be found on the WikiEducator Free Textbooks page. Join the Free Culture freetextbooks mailing list list if you want to get involved!

New OA journal seeks papers, editors

The Journal of Medical Sciences Research (JMSR) is a forthcoming OA journal now calling for papers and recruiting members of its editorial board.

TA journal seeks OA content

Antiquity is a non-OA journal with an OA supplement.  Martin Rundkvist reports that the supplement is looking for content:

...Specifically, [Editor] Martin Carver and his crew want a) the abstracts of recent doctoral theses with relevance for archaeology, b) obituaries of recently deceased archaeologists. Submit thesis abstracts here, obits here....

Oh, and they also want really good archaeopix dor the editorial section of the paper edition! E-mail yours with some contextual info and photo-tech details to the editor.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

On the road

In just a minute I'll be on the road for two days with no opportunities for blogging or email. I'll start catching up late Monday or early Tuesday.

OA portal and federated search of world science

The US Department of Energy has announced the launch of  From Friday's press release: opens public access to more than 200 million pages of international research information....

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the British Library, along with eight other participating countries, today opened an online global gateway to science information from 15 national portals.  The gateway,, gives citizens, researchers and anyone interested in science the capability to search science portals not easily accessible through popular search technology such as that deployed by Google, Yahoo! and many other commercial search engines.

“Scientific research results are archived globally in a plethora of sources, many unknown and unreachable through usual search engines,” Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, DOE Under Secretary for Science, said.  “This international partnership will open up this vast reservoir of knowledge in a rapid and convenient manner, something that will add great value to our existing knowledge.”

Relying on a novel technology called federated search, gives science information consumers a single entry point for searching far-reaching science portals in parallel, with only one query, saving time and effort....Following the model of, the U.S. interagency science portal that relies on content published by each participating U.S. agency, will rely on scientific resources published by each participating nation.

The U.S. contribution to is, the U.S. government’s one-stop searchable portal to major science databases of federal science agencies. In addition to the U.S. and the U.K., the inaugural portal provides access to research information in English from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands....

PS:  When this project was first announced in January 2007, it was called

A publisher's take on copyright and OA

Kevin Taylor, Copyright and research: an academic publisher’s perspective, SCRIPT-ed, June 2007.  Taylor is the Intellectual Property Director at Cambridge University Press.  Excerpt:

...The range of submissions to The Gowers Review (December 2006)...demonstrated this diversity of attitudes towards rights, and the writer, in his day-to-day work regularly encounters the entire spectrum. This ranges from academics who unreservedly support Open Access models and would unhesitatingly make all of their written outputs freely available on the internet as soon as possible for others to re-use on the principle that maximising the most widespread accessibility should be any author’s priority; all the way to those who are highly concerned with protection and control to the point of scrutinising the small-print of every sales invoice and every end-user licence to be sure that their publisher is squeezing every last penny from their copyrights on their behalf.

A publisher has to mediate those attitudes and come up with models that satisfy to some degree, both ends of the spectrum....

An example of an attempt to create an acceptable author-publisher balance would be the rights which the authors of journal articles retain to deposit their work in institutional and subject repositories and to re-purpose their work in other publications of their own. Another example would be the willingness of many publishers to experiment with Open Access, author-pays or funding-agency-pays publishing models: CUP [Cambridge University Press] now operates that model for fifteen of its journals, with the Open Access content covered by the excellent Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence designed for such purposes....

A recent Position Paper on copyright from the Association of American Professional and Scholarly Publishers, published in May 2007, is tellingly sub-titled ‘An Appropriate Balance’: the writer believes that it is this ‘balance’, which we have to achieve and we are in practice achieving....

The Gowers Review takes a very balanced line on copyright, for good reasons. The copyright industries represent at least 7% of GDP in Britain....

A full-scale tilt into unrestricted Open Access would be too big a shift.  Someone has to pay, and it can be argued that the current mildly regulated framework which ‘publisher-controlled’ copyright represents does the job quite well: of keeping the economics in equilibrium....


  • Taylor's chief conclusion about OA is unargued:  "A full-scale tilt into unrestricted Open Access would be too big a shift.  Someone has to pay...."  He doesn't discuss payment models for open access and, for journals, he doesn't connect copyright issues to payment issues.
  • Taylor focuses much more on books than on journals, while the OA movement focuses much more on journals than books.  He tells one anecdote, not excerpted above, about a CUP author who distributed his book freely online without CUP permission.  Taylor doesn't say that CUP lost money on the book and doesn't tell any (of the many) anecdotes about OA books that stimulated a net increase in sales.  He asserts without argument that the tension between author interests and publisher interests in his anecdote "is perhaps the same tension that we see in the debate around the Open Access movement in the Journals world" even though publishers (1) demand more rights from article authors than from book authors and (2) pay no royalties to article authors.
  • For my critique of the ALPSP position paper that Taylor supports, see Balancing author and publisher rights in the June 2007 issue of SOAN.

Copyright skews digital access to cultural heritage

Emily Hudson and Andrew T. Kenyon, Without Walls: Copyright Law and Digital Collections in Australian Cultural Institutions, SCRIPT-ed,  June 2007.  Excerpt:

...[D]igital technologies...provide cultural institutions with broader ways of pursuing their goals. This article focuses on a particular category of such activity: the use of digitisation to facilitate public access to cultural collections....

[I]n the absence of providing access, it is difficult to justify acquisition and conservation efforts. That is, institutions acquire and preserve collection items of artistic, historic, scientific, technological, cultural and social significance because of decisions that ongoing access to such materials is important....Promoting access to collection material has long been linked to technologies of reproduction: current developments in digital access arise within a long movement towards institutions “without walls”....

This article explores the impact of copyright law on the digital accessibility of material held by Australian public galleries, museums, libraries and archives. It describes the results of interviewing approximately 150 staff of cultural institutions, as well as organisations representing creators....[T]he fieldwork suggests that copyright has had a significant impact on digitisation practices to date, including in the selection of material to digitise and the circumstances in which it is made publicly available. This has resulted in notable differences between analogue and digital collections – what could be called a “digital skew” – and has driven the content of online exhibitions, galleries and databases. Thus while digital technologies have enhanced the ability of institutions to provide access to their collections, the need to comply with copyright has constrained decision-making about online content. Importantly, such restriction does not always seem necessary to protect the interests of creators and copyright owners....